Sound Advice

Punk goes to the Dogs, and Stephanie Galetti succumbs to darkness.

Rising out of the grit and grime of Manchester, England, Slaughter & the Dogs gained instant notoriety while performing alongside the Sex Pistols at the legendary Lesser Free Trade Hall gig in 1976. Consequent shows at the Roxy earned the Dogs a record deal with Decca and inclusion in The Punk Rock Movie, an early documentary by Don Letts, who went on to become a member of Big Audio Dynamite and a well-regarded video director. The band's moniker, which remains one of the best, was chosen as tribute to Mike Ronson's Slaughter on Tenth Avenueand David Bowie's Diamond Dogs. Not surprisingly, while the band's second single, "Where Have All the Boot Boys Gone?," is credited with begetting the street-punk "Oi!" movement, its overall sound reflected a stronger penchant for glam, especially in the distinctive vocals of Wayne Barrett.

By the time of the group's puckish 1978 debut, Do It Dog Style, the Dogs were no more, and only the most die-hard '77-punks recalled them at all. It's funny, then, that during last year's "Holidays in the Sun" tour -- which featured some of Britain's most beloved old-school noise-makers such as the Cockney Rejects, Sham 69, and the Exploited as well as American favorites like the Dickies and U.S. Bombs -- it was Slaughter & the Dogs that stole the show. Perhaps this was due to the fact that the band had not been flogging its poor little pony for three decades. On the group's new album, Beware of ..., the lads actually sound fresh-faced and beguilingly earnest, if not downright thrilled. Miraculously, Barrett's voice has escaped the ravages of pints and butts and is more mellifluous than ever, while Mick Rossi coaxes fresh forms of angst from his Les Paul. The record's certainly nothing new, but it's a far cry from anything the band's successors have fashioned. Slaughter & the Dogs make their second Bay Area appearance on Friday, Feb. 1, at the Justice League with the Beltones and the Stitches opening at 9 p.m. Tickets are $10; call 440-0409.


The light that burns twice as bright burns half as long -- and you have burned so very, very brightly.

I would like to escape this quote, which has been brandished for two decades by every mascara-streaked mourner who watched Eldon Tyrell gaze into the desperate eyes of his fading creation during Ridley Scott's Blade Runner. Sadly, I cannot flee from these words. All too frequently, the fingers of indefatigable darkness bear down hardest upon those who glimmer most, on those who laugh the easiest and cry the most comfortably, on those who bring their imagination and emotion to bear in the world around them. Such was the case with Stephanie Galetti, who succumbed to shadows a short time ago. Galetti's voice -- which soared and thundered like gospel, growled and snarled like bourbon, and quivered and quaked like a little child -- gave form to her band Augustus Smiles, while her irreverent, absurd, and oftentimes vulgar sense of humor gave birth to "Da Gov," a much-beloved character on the bus-borne Popcorn Anti-Theater.

It is Galetti's convulsions of joy, though, that I will miss most. Her belly laughs were unrivaled: They were a susurration of pure spirit, a nearly physical refuge of "acceptance" (the polite recognition of another's resemblance to ourselves, as Ambrose Bierce defined it). Her cacophonous cachinnation was better than food, and it was contagious. With that laugh Galetti did her most powerful work -- in service, rather than performance. Gently, compassionately, and with a nudge and a wink, she guided desperate cases from the looming precipices of their discontent and helped them change their lives. She was tireless in her commitment to "her people," sharing what she knew of poverty -- of body, mind, and soul -- and its many antidotes, even when her own coffers ran dry. For this, I am gratefully inspired, touched, and cautioned; for this, my heart is wholly broken and full beyond its capacity. Antonin Artaud once wrote, "If I commit suicide, it will not be to destroy myself but to put myself back together again." On "Desert," Stephanie Galetti sang, "My soul, my soul is flying/ And it won't be back 'til I run this body out/ My mind, my mind has always been weak/ I have done the craziest things." I hope, my dear, dear friend, the burden of thought has been assuaged. You are missed. (MP3s of Galetti's band can be downloaded at www.augustussmiles.com.) A tribute show featuring performances by Ledenhed, Kate Klaire, DJ Toph, Storm, and others will be held on Sunday, Feb. 3, at 111 Minna Street Gallery at 6 p.m. Donations of children's books will be accepted; call 974-1719.

 
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