Richard Hell & The Voidoids – (I Can Live With You In) Another World

15th January 2022 · 1970s, 1976, Music, Punk

Richard Hell’s debut single is one of the first examples of New York punk. It also defines the sound of what would later become known as post-punk… even though, strictly speaking, it’s more pre-punk.

Written when he was in The Heartbreakers with Johnny Thunders, it came out on the Ork label in 1976, soon after the debut of his previous band Television.

Hell’s bass guitar is high in the mix, somewhere between funk and reggae in its rubbery texture and tone. Aggression is added by the jagged shards of Ivan Julian’s funky guitar riffs and the metronomic beat marked by Marc Bell – a drummer borrowed from Wayne County and soon to become Marky Ramone.

The song’s signature is Hell’s yelping vocal whine, and the liquid tone of second guitarist Robert Quine – both startlingly similar to Verlaine’s own style and sound.

Hell (aka Richard Meyers from Kentucky) was, by common consent, the innovator of the spiky-hair-and-torn-clothes-and-safety-pins look with which punk would become associated.

He was doing it back in 1975 when he left the first line-up of Television after falling out with Tom Verlaine and joined Johnny Thunders in The Heartbreakers.

It was with The Heartbreakers at CBGBs in 1975 that Malcolm McLaren, who had briefly managed The New York Dolls (his experiment in dressing them in red patent leather in front of a Communist Party hammer-and-sickle was not a success), first encountered Hell – and took fashion tips back to London for his new band, The Sex Pistols.

And it was with The Heartbreakers that Hell first performed the Another World EP’s standout song, (I Belong To The) Blank Generation, which became the signature song of the New York scene.

Hell left The Heartbreakers before they released any records (though the superb Yonkers Sessions captured their demos on tape), re-recording it for his first single as Richard Hell & The Voidoids.

While the debut album took that song as its title, the EP’s A-side was (I Can Live With You In) Another World. Here it is.

And here’s a piece of pop trivia I never knew ’til now: before forming the Voidoids, at the age of 17 Ivan Julian toured Europe (and the UK) with British soul group The Foundations, who had huge hits in the late 1960s with a pair of Motown-inspired tunes, Build Me Up Buttercup and Baby Now That I’ve Found You.