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Richard Hell Tells Story

One of New York's original punk rockers revisits the Seventies on "Spurts"

June 20, 2005 12:00 AM ET

Rhino Records will release Spurts: The Richard Hell Story on August 2nd, a twenty-one-track overview of Hell's career in pioneering New York bands Television, the Heartbreakers and the Voidoids.

"I've wanted to compile these songs for a long time," says Hell. "Now I can walk away and not look back."

The set features remastered versions of all released material, the unreleased tracks "Blank Generation (Live)" and 2004's "She'll Be Coming (For Dennis Cooper)," as well as Hell's own remixes of his songs.

Hell was a key figure on the New York punk scene, forming the Neon Boys in 1974 with Tom Verlaine. They soon changed their name to Television and became fixtures at downtown music haunt CBGB's, along with peers Patti Smith, the Ramones, Blondie and Talking Heads. Within a year, however, frustrated with Verlaine's creative leadership, Hell set out on his own, joining up with ex-New York Dolls Johnny Thunders and Jerry Nolan to form the Heartbreakers. But with the attention on Thunders, bassist Hell left in months, eventually forming Richard Hell and the Voidoids with the late Robert Quine on guitar. Their 1977 debut, Blank Generation, is considered a punk classic.

The band, who went on to tour with the Clash, had fallen quiet by the late Seventies, and in spite of 1982's solid Destiny Street release, the Voidoids flamed out. Hell went on to play in the short-lived Dim Stars with Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore. He co-starred as Madonna's boyfriend in 1985's Desperately Seeking Susan, and published poetry and the 1996 novel, Go Now. His second work of fiction, Godlike, is due July 15th.

But with Spurts, Hell has had the opportunity to revisit the renegade sounds that made his name. "The way we sounded together in the Seventies, as well as on Destiny Street -- I never thought of it as being influential, because it was too eccentric," Hell told Rolling Stone. "But now for the first time, I'm hearing things that sound like they were influenced by those records: the new wave of garage rock and 'art rock.' I'm way into the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, for instance . . . I can hear us in many of these bands."

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