Pure Hell

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Pure Hell is a punk rock band,[citation needed] established in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1974,[1] during the high point of punk culture in New York City, London and Los Angeles.[2][3] It has been cited by Bad Brains "as an early influence".

Among the pioneers of the post-garage rock, post-acid rock, glam-theatre era of the late 1960s and early 1970s, Pure Hell was among the first of its kind, comparable to the MC5, Sex Pistols, Dead Boys and Germs. Commercially, the band had little success and only released one single ("These Boots are Made for Walking" b/w "No Rules")[4] and one album (Noise Addiction), which was unreleased for 28 years.[1] Founding member writer/vocalist Kenny Gordon and drummer Spider of Pure Hell also has an unreleased album produced in the mid-1990s by former members of L.A. Guns, Nine Inch Nails and Lemmy Kilmister of Motörhead, entitled The Black Box. This album has Kilmister singing background vocals in a rare song titled "The Call". In 2012, Pure Hell reformed to play their first gig since 1979 at the Rebellion Festival at the Empress Ballroom in Blackpool alongside Rancid, Buzzcocks, Public Image Ltd and Social Distortion.

One of the first African-American punk bands, Pure Hell formed in Philadelphia in 1974 and spent time in playing in New York City as well, eventually becoming friendly with the New York Dolls and even playing with Sid Vicious in 1978 when he moved to New York City. Curtis Knight (former R&B singer in the Squires, which also featured a young Jimi Hendrix on guitar) became their manager and oversaw their career for better and for worse – the reason these recordings didn’t see the light of day until many years after being put on tape was at Knight’s insistence. Along with managing the band, he also produced one of the two sessions presented on the CD part of this package – the other at the end of 1978 in London was amazingly recorded by the Groundhogs main man Tony McPhee. This London jaunt turned out to be the last hurrah for Pure Hell as Knight fell out badly with them and refused to release their album. Even a well-received UK tour and an appearance alongside the ascendant Subs at the Lyceum couldn’t stop them splitting on their return stateside.

All they left behind was one single, a cover of the Nancy Sinatra song “These Boots Are Made For Walking”/”No Rules”, which are both included on this collection along with 13 other blasts of high power, energy-driven Punk Rock with more than a slight Hendrix-influenced guitar at some points. Some of the tracks, particularly “The Girl With The Hungry Eyes”, (about Nancy Spungen, who charismatic lead singer Kenny Gordon knew from his schooldays) verge on proto-hardcore punk. The band proved influential on the emerging CBGB-based New York punk scene.


  1. ^ a b http://swindlemagazine.com/issue10/pure-hell/ Archived December 10, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  2. ^ A.D. Amorosi, "Along Came a Spider", Philadelphia City Paper, April 25-May 1, 2002
  3. ^ MTV: "Afro-Punk: Five Years Of Rebellion"
  4. ^ James Porter and Jake Austen, "Black Punk Time: Blacks in Punk, New Wave and Hardcore 1976-1984 (Part 3)", from Roctober #32, 2002

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