Saturday, February 14, 2015

Björk Marathon: The Punk Years

Something very awesome was happening in 1980s Iceland: PUNK! And I think it's fair to say that the teenaged Björk was one of the many trailblazers during that fascinating era. She was in many bands:

- Spit and Snot (an all-girl punk band)
- Exodus (a jazz fusion group)
- Jam-80 (another group she was in, juggling this one and Exodus)
- Tappi Tíkarrass (translated to "Cork the Bitch's Ass")

Not much is really known about Spit and Snot and Exodus. There aren't any recordings from them. Jam-80 never recorded an album either, but they recorded a demo cassette tape during a gig. I don't own that demo of course, but some of the tracks you can find on YouTube (I'll share some here):

A cover of Janis Ian's "Other Side of the Sun" 

And here are some other early recordings from the Jam-80 era:

(There's that famous Norse vegvísir tattoo!)

(And there's her second tattoo!)

Tappi Tíkarrass is Björk's first serious music project. They kicked off their career as a band with late-1982's EP, Bitið fast í vitið (Bite Hard Into Hell).

I don't own this one, but I've listened to its 5 tracks, and they're all pretty awesome. They can easily all be found on YouTube. Here's the first track and a cool and rare live performance of "London":



Wasn't Björk one adorable spunky teenager or what?! That voice! 

Tappi Tíkarrass's official debut album was Miranda. 

I don't own this one either, but I've listened to the entire album before. It's not as punk as Bitið fast í vitið. It's disco, mellow pop, lovely listening. One of my favorite songs from Miranda is Sokkar.

I think all the tracks from Miranda can be found on YouTube as well.

I have no idea how to get these albums. None of them have been reissued and all original releases aren't available for purchase. Now they're just rarities, and can only be listened to through YouTube, downloaded by whoever is one of the very few who owns these records from when they were first released. What a bummer - I'd so love to have all of them in my collection! It amazes me how experimental and eclectic Björk was in her teens, producing such amazing work with so many bands.

The highlight of this era was when Tappi Tíkarrass appeared in the now famous and important music documentary on the Icelandic punk scene, Rokk í Reykjavík. 

In this documentary, the band performed Hrollur and Dúkkulísur.

Oh, I forgot to mention - Björk was only sixteen here!

So this woman has basically been in bands since she was 13. Damn.

From some reason it's also hard to find Rokk í Reykjavík anywhere (the soundtrack and the documentary). The entire doc used to be on YouTube 2 years ago, but has since been removed. The documentary can only be bought and played in Iceland. It's too bad that the rest of the world can't see it. It's one fascinating documentary, featuring many other famous Icelandic punk bands like Þeyr and Purrkur Pillnikk for instance. The doc was not only a glimpse into the punk culture of Iceland, but into Icelandic culture in general. It's a shame that it's not distributed world-wide. If you ever do get the chance to see the documentary in its entirety, you won't be disappointed, it's truly incredible!

The band also appeared in a comedy film, Nýtt Líf, where they performed "Sperglar" and "Kukl"

And they also appeared at the end credits:

And around this time, Björk was also collaborating with now famous poet and frequent collaborator to this day, Sjón, in a little band they formed together, Rokka Rokka Drum. Nothing else is known about this band and there are no existing recordings. And lastly, alongside her bands, Björk (by herself) was featured in Björgvin Gíslason's 1983 album, Örugglega, where she sang "Afi."

Tappi Tíkarrass broke up in 1983. Their career as a band might have been short lived, but it seemed like they did nearly a lifetime of work in such a few short years!

Even though I couldn't have possibly owned any albums (or casettes) from Björk's punk years, I had to dedicate a blog post to this era that will pretty much shape the next band that will come right after
Tappi Tíkarrass. Do you know who that next band is? Brownie points if you can guess right! ;)

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