Richard Hell's impatience has cost him dearly. In his haste to break esthetic ground, he has repeatedly cast aside ideas that others then parlayed into some of the most profound stylistic revolutions rock'n'roll has undergone in recent years. Hell himself remains a cult figure.
Back in 1973, he played in early editions of Television and made the seminal statement on the rock format's potential cerebral expressiveness. Next, Hell pioneered a determinedly post-intellectual approach with the Heartbreakers; their ferocious immediacy and frank sensationalism were echoed and exploited with great success by erstwhile admirer Malcolm McLaren, via his proteges, the Sex Pistols.
In 1977, Hell unveiled his Void-Oids. This unit combined the assets of its predecessors with an incendiary, jazz-derived sense of improvisory caprice. In their wake came New York's "No Wave" crew, who begat punk- jazz, which in its turn spawned punk-funk, the foundation of most current dance-club fodder.
"Destiny Street" is a summary of Hell's career, consolidating his achievements and, hopefully, recouping some of the losses. He and the revamped Void-Oids touch all the bases of Hell. Dylan's "Going, Going, Gone" is a jangly, jarring reminder of T.V.'s ravaging of "Knocking on Heaven's Door." Elsewhere, the Heartbreakers' stylebook is quoted in the campy backing "Oooo's" and roaring twin guitars. "Staring in Her Eyes" is a classic Oidity; stuttering, Gordian- knotted guitars back an eerie tale of nihilism undone by romance.
Given the proper exposure, it's hard to imagine "Destiny Street" not gaining Hell the much wider recognition he deserves.
ON RECORD, ON STAGE
THE ALBUM: Destiny Street (Red Star RED 801).
THE CONCERT: Friday at the 9:30 Club.