REISSUE/OLD SHIT REVIEWS WINTER 2007-08
Key: (RK: Rich Kroneiss)(MS: Mike Sniper)(SB: Late Twenties Steve)(CM: Collin M.)(LB: Lance Boyle)
Chrome "Third From the Sun", "Half Machine Lip Moves" & "Alien Soundtracks" LP
Not going to go on about the importance of Chrome...it should be widely acknowledged in these pages already, but let's just say they are certainly some of the godfathers of current weird punk, and have left their slime all over underground music, from back when Touch & Go (who reiisued them) and AmRep (where Helios did plenty of solo work) ruled the indie landscape all the way through todays' Human Eye/Blank Dogs/Spider/whoever-else sphere of influence. Synth-punk, basement-psych, space rock, industrial, Chrome influenced it all. These "fan club" releases (and I'm just assuming they're not legit, but I'm no detective) of three seminal records have their good and bad points. Good in that anyone not wanting to shell out top-dollar for the Chrome catalog on vinyl (because this stuff ain't going to be reissued legit anytime soon, just ask the guy over at Noiseville) or too lazy to wait for a copy to rear its head (originals have gone for anywhere from $30-100 recently, and the last Chrome Box on the 'Bay went for nearly $300) can glom some affordable $15 slabs of wax that sound just fine to these ears. The bad: there's no fucking sleeves! Just a color copy of the front of the records. Oh, they throw a 1" pin and patch in each one too...wow, thanks a lot. Just what I always wanted, a button with the art for "Alien Soundtracks" on it that you can barely see...so, the good ol' double-edged sword here. Do you want the vinyl in an inferior package? Or are you going to say fuck that, I'll stick with my CDs...Me? I shelled out for the two of these I didn't already have. I listen to this stuff enough that I felt it would be OK to drop a little cash until I stumble across an OG copy to replace it with. The choice is yours...I should also note that these releases are hand-numbered out of 300. But I'm doubting there's only 300 of each, I have a hunch there's a few different colors of vinyl (I think I've spotted white and purple variations of each...), so maybe that's what the numbering is indicative of...maybe 600-900 of each? They're all over eBay as we speak...(RK)
The Colors "Teenage Furniture" LP
Some interesting facts about The Colors before we discuss what a dog this record is: bass player Robert Vickers left the band to join the Go-Betweens in 1983...Clem Burke produced produced and played drums on their first EP...Basquiat did some scenery for one of their videos...and, perhaps the most interesting thing of all, after Burke left the fold, he was replaced with a new drummer simply called The Elf. THE ELF. I repeat, their drummer was named THE ELF. Awesome. This LP compiles their big "hit" 7", the "Rave It Up" Ep from 1980 and tracks from (or maybe all of) their 1983 s/t LP. This thing is fifteen cuts weak, as there is little I can say to redeem any of the music. Any sort of corndogging "New Wave" production technique is utilized here (think gay-as-hell guitar effects and terrible drum sounds) to make sure any sort of good the songs may have in them is buried under a pile of suck. Horns, synth, xylophone, piano, they throw it all in the sink at some point, and it never makes things better. The Colors are a perfect example of a bland pop act masquerading as something edgy/punk thanks to the invention of New Wave. Blech. Even sounds a little bit Clash-y just to enhance the agony. The worst of the recent Rave Ups by far. I wonder where The Elf is now?(RK)
(Rave Up Records // www.raveuprecords.com)
Cultural Amnesia "Press My Hungry Button" 2xLP
Second in a series of Cultural Amnesia released this year (I hope to have the other release on Anna Logue Records for review next time around) and I am all for it. C.A. were a way-under-the-radar English synth/DiY band operating from 1980-83. Like many other bands of the era, Cultural Amnesia were operating within the ultimate DiY medium of self-recorded, self-released cassettes. Extremely prolific, this 2xLP set culls only some of their released and unreleased material.
Recorded on 2 and 4-track machines, C.A. perfected a a muscular sparseness that they applied to many different styles within the post-punk umbrella, at times flirting with surreal pop, like the excellent "Shiny Guitar Music" a definate headturner on your next mixtape/CDR. Other cuts show what appears to be Cultural Amnesia's non-English affinity for all things continental, many of these tracks would not be out of place on the Cassetencombinant compilation, even with the English lyrics. It's therefore no surprise that some of the recordings on here were culled from an unreleased LP that was to be out on a German label (and would have been their only vinyl release!)
Complete with the fantastic and high-quality sound and packaging we've all come to expect from our pal Frank at Vinyl On Demand, this nice set is an essential purchase for anyone investigating the 80's DiY cassette culture.(MS)
(Vinyl On Demand // www.vinyl-on-demand.com)
The Dictators "Every Day Is Saturday" 2XLP/CD
I was ready to write a three page dissertation on the magnitude of The Dictators and their place in the rock'n'roll pantheon when I sat down for this review. Then I realized that I really shouldn't have to. Rock'n'roll doesn't get much better or American than the three LPs worth of cuts The 'tators managed to lay down during their glory days. Many will try to convince you that 'Manifest Destiny' and 'Bloodbrothers' are marginal releases, but those people just don't know what they're talkin' about. 'Go Girl Crazy' is admittedly the high-point of their oevure, that much I will agree upon, and if you don't at least dig that record heavily, I have serious issues with you as a person. That LP is one of those records that honest-to-goodness changed my life, or least my outlook on what is or isn't cool. In what may seem cornball in this day-and-age, the Dictators managed to embody everything that is (and still remains) righteous about rock'n'roll and life in general: cars, girls, drugs, booze, wrestling, hamburgers, TV, sleeping all day, partying all night....No matter how WEIRD PUNK you are or how "sophisticated" tastes these days seemingly are, when it comes down to nuts and bolts, you are either on board with the lifeblood of rock'n'roll that courses through the veins of The Dictators and their music or you are honestly (and I'm loath to use this word) posing. It's just that simple. You like The Dictators or you don't like rock'n'roll. They were punk before it was cool to be punk, a true rock band when it was uncool to be a rock band, they bridged the gap between Stooges/MC5/Groovies pre-punk and Ramones first wave (and some could even say were proto-metal), were innovators in the smartly dumb department of cool tuneage...their larger-than-life legacy is something I feel not enough people recognize. Everything from CBGB's punkola, to the Crypt Records roster (yes, I'm looking at you Devil Dogs and New Bomb Turks), to the Angry Samoans (and thusly the entire budget-rock and Rip Off Records pantheon) to anyone who has ever taken a picture of themselves eating a hot dog wearing a Goner Records t-shirt owes at least a nod of influence to the Dics whether they realize it or not. Okay, enough about that. Let's talk about the record now...
As a favor to humanity Norton Records has lovingly assembled a deluxe package of rare Dictators material, four sides worth of demos and out takes that I've spent years waiting for. Side A contains five demos dating from 1973, including the unreleased "Backseat Boogie" and "Fireman's Friend", that sound great and show the pre-"Go Girl Crazy" (and pre-Manitoba) Dictators perfecting their moves (with even a glam touch or two!). Sides B and C compile a two-song session from '76 ("America the Beautiful", recorded for a soundtrack, and a version of "Sleepin With The TV On" that may be superior to the LP version), eight tracks worth of 'Bloodbrothers' demos from '78 and a couple primo radio ads from the same eras. These three sides (plus the original "16 Forever" that kicks off side D) are essential items in The Dictators mythos. The remainder of Side D is made up of late-Ninteies stuff that may not be essential, but I sure don't have a problem with "Loyola" either. The packaging is immacualte: super-glossy gatefold crammed with vintage fliers and pics (including cameos from The Boss, Jerry Garcia, Bob Seger, Henny YOungman and more) plus amazing liner notes from Top Ten, Handsome Dick, Adny Shernoff and Dictators roadie Rich Nesin. A must-have release for any true-blooded Dictators fan and even if you don't know who Stu Boy King or Borneo Jimmy are, if you dig rock'n'roll, you should be able to dig this and pay tribute to one of America's finest and classiest acts of all time. (RK)
(Norton Records // www.nortonrecords.com)
DOA "Punk Rock Singles 1977-1998" CD
One of the founding fathers of hardcore punk, DOA were overtly political and anarchist, yet they did it without being overbearing, annoying or preachy...Mr. Shithead meant what he said (TALK- ACTION = ZERO, indeed), unlike so many others, and it came through as honesty (not cliché) and never overshadowed the music. Musically, they were instantly catchy and in your face — aggressive but contained. Keithley’s unmistakable voice is one of the more notable and recognizable voices the genre has ever known.
Shitheads’ Sudden Death Records, responsible for reissuing the essential first two albums, ('Something Better Change' and 'Hardcore ’81') is responsible for this slightly incomplete, yet top heavy singles collection spanning 21 years of service. The thoroughly bombarding early singles get things rolling proper. Punchier versions of classics like "The Prisoner", "Fucked Up Ronnie" and "Woke Up Screaming" appear with the singles in their entirety. The original power trio of Shithead, Dimwit and Biscuits was blazing, but got even better with the addition of Dave Gregg. The disc notes feature (too) brief descriptions of each single penned by Keithley noting band line-ups (DOA seemed to hold the record for keeping Chuck Biscuits’ interest until the checks from Danzig started rolling in).
Aside from a hokey re-write on CCR's "Down On The Corner", there is a ten year gap separating things here — and as you can probably assume, things tail off after the late 70s/early 80s stuff. Some clunky (yet probably fun ideas at the time) covers overshadow the later period here. Of the later originals, they have the added obstacle of lying alongside the earlier masterworks. While these songs ain’t too bad at all, they don’t sit well in this context. Keithley is a lifer, though. He still delivers the goods live and probably won’t stop until his heart ceases to beat. And that’s a good thing.(LB)
(Sudden Death Records // www.suddendeath.com)
Fire "En El Nom de Pare.." LP
Fire is best known for their standout Freakbeat 45 "Father's Name Was Dad" which has been on roughly 23,847 UK Freakbeat and/or Psych compilations over the years. And with good reason, as it is one of the cooler singles from the UK during that era, however this LP shows there was more to Fire than that one cut (which is presented here in it's original format as well as an alternate version).
Culled from demos, acetates and rarities from the time period between the recording of "Father.." in 1967 and their "Magic Shoemaker" LP from 1970, these recordings first appeared on 10th Planet records in the 90's where it went out of print in months. Languishing on the ceedee format for around 10 years, Guerssen was kind enough to repress it on wax, with era-friendly cover art and excellent sound quality.
Fire's talent, it turns out, resides in lilting harmonies and fragile pop-psych arrangements more than their "hit" belies. Although early tracks range from the Attack or Creation-esque "Treacle Toffee World" to the positively Kinks-y "Happy Sound" (complete with accurate Davies bros. "bah bah bah's" at the beginning), I actually find myself gravitating more towards the more adventurous later stuff on here, like the epic "Alison Wonderland," which sounds like a great out-take from the first Family or Traffic LP. Or "Man In the Teapot," which is the nicest slice of Lewis Carroll-infected saccharine pop this side of the first Idle Race LP.
Pressed in a small edition of 500, this comes highly recommended for fans of
the '68 sound of the UK. Now, if they'll only reissue the Billy Nicholls and Klubs Lp's that 10th Planet did...(MS>
(Guerrsen Records // www.guerssen.com)
Floh De Cologne "Fleissbandbabys Beat Show" LP
Floh De Cologne have the reputation of being one of the most politically-minded German bands of the "Krautrock" era. Unlike the semi-detached surrealism of Amon Duul 2 or Can, Floh De Cologne's 1st LP was called "Vietnam" and this, their second effort and the first LP on the legendary Ohr label, contains instructions on how to become a more political human being. Despite this nature, the music is just as playful as the rest of their countrymen of the era. "Fleissbandbabys Beat Show" displays why they've often been cited as Germany's answer to those first few Mothers of Invention records. Like "Freak Out" there's dabblings of garage-rock and kitsch moments of nostalgia ("Hey Johnny" and "Ford Capri"), tied together with absurdist/dada song titles and references. There seems to be a definate dark humor pervading it, but it's hard to penetrate that without understanding German. Still, sonically alone it has enough going for it to qualify plenty of listens. Mom says buy it.(MS)
(Wah-wah // www.wah-wahsupersonic.com)
Peter Grudzien "The Unicorn"/"The Garden of Love" 2xLP
Peter Grudzien was born in Astoria, Queens, a working class Eastern European, Italian and Jewish neighborhood. The last stop on the Q train on a raised platform, you'll sometimes wait a half an hour for the Q to open it's doors and take you to Manhattan, even though you can see the skyline right in front of you, you're subjected to the torment of waiting what seems like forever to get to a place you can conceivably walk to if the damned river wasn't in between you and your destination.
Perhaps due to this very low level of "isolation," being so close to the ultimate metropolis, yet stuck in a nowheresville suburb, might come close to explaining some of the truly eccentric and individual sounds you hear over these 2 LPs. Homosexual, obsessed with Hank Williams and Johnny Cash, and having an enthusiasm for home electronics, Grudzien began recording in the late Fifties/early Sixties. Some of these recordings make up record two of this album. These are unreleased up until now and there's some excellent material on here. For the most part, his earlier stuff is almost formal interpretations of the Country/Western genre, but there's definitely something off. The rawness is immediately apparent, and the otherworldy aspect that can be applied in the same way to Hasil Adkins take on rockabilly.
The real meat n' guts of this package though, is "The Unicorn." Originally released privately in 1974, this has long been considered a "real people" and "outsider folk" pinnacle. With subjects ranging from eating peyote, gay prostitution, religion and death sung in a forlorn, lost and singular voice, Grudzien's LP and style is not simply a curiosity, it's a rewarding listening experience. While all the tracks are somewhat influenced by the folk and country recordings of late Sixties Dylan, there's a lot of fuzz guitar and music concrete that turns the whole thing on its head.
While it doesn't sound like Skip Spence's "Oar", "The Unicorn" sits alongside that record in it's strange branch of "cosmic country" or whatever you want to call it, especially in regards to their uncompromising sounds. Ltd. to 500!(MS)
(Subliminal Sounds // www.subliminalsounds.se)
Hackamore Brick "One Kiss Leads To Another" CD
Before Bowie ever peeled back slowly to see what source he would suck off for his next half-decade-long-spree, Chick Newman and pals were sowing a fallow, Chinese ditch of pure Velvets’ abandon. Hackamore Brick were the band’s name and they were from New York City: optimal, push-pin placement to soak up plenty of residual VU rays and apparently they did exactly that. Putting Teddy Niemiec, Peter Perrett and the combined catalogs of the Drug Addix and Dead Finger Talk to shame, Chick N. channels Lou’s flat-rat, monotone L.A.M.F. and nobody’s business as the veins of the Brick quietly thicken for what comes after kissing’s through (chores!)! And while whole rosters of winklepicker Mary-Chain debris may have softened the haymaker-clobber of the first two VU’s a tad today, Hackamore Brick hack a clear, uncompromised machete path away from the white-blight, lite-heat, Chelsea Girl brigades to the tip-transfiguring-top peak of lysergic-falling-sugar (beats falling-spikes): that pinnacle of the SELF TITLED (‘Velvet Underground’) and LOADED. …the quieter VU – the one magazines and motion pictures don’t dote upon; perhaps the gimmicky trappings of Warhol patronage and weird sex were all that ever attracted them in in the first place.
That they – Hackamore Brick - didn’t ‘make it’ should surprise no one; modeling a pop rock ‘n’ roll band after the Velvet Underground in 1970 stood about as much chance of success as…well…the Velvet Underground in 1970! An A&R man’s blackest vision certainly (Vanilla Fudge would have been a better idea). And if it’s hard to conceive of a major-label American band mining the Velvets at such an early date, it’s harder still to imagine a time when the tag ‘DECIDED VELVETS’ INFLUENCE’ didn’t guarantee the listener a one-way ride into the heart of the hair-gel Wanker Zone! That Hackamore Brick are only barely making it now, however, is simply the end product of the same People Magazine/Punk Planet pigeonhole that keeps Bobb Trimble, the Leopards and Zerfas confined and clinging to the drafty back corner of the ‘indie’ ghetto. Bad writing and faulty arithmetic; namely, that old, stand-by favourite of clueless journos: the ________ meets _________ review!
_______ meets ________; even better if myopic operating-hack provides secondary details such as what drugs bands are on and/or whom they’re partying with. This void of all descriptive talent is THEE ULTIMATE in the phone-it-in review!
The official tag for Hackamore Brick goes: Velvets meets Folk Rock. …which says about as much as Bowie meets Bob Dylan. That there were always readily apparent aspects of both in the work of either artist goes to show that a large portion of what passes for music journalism is in actuality the repeated nutshell at the end of a very long game of telephone. Say it often, loud and long enough; becomes true. Summations are dandy, but only if they tell me something. And Hackamore Brick are far too fine a band to be walking around mislabeled!
Instead of the Velvet Underground meets the Lovin’ Spoonful (which is a shitty main event), imagine the love-y lyric strands of LOADED and THE VELVET UNDERGROUND stripped of all deviance and dependence and replaced by a more proto-singer-songwriter narrative mode (don’t stop reading yet!). Troubled, reflective and dark in places, sure, but no traces of transvestitism, smack or back-alley bargains – everyone may not love the sun, but Hackamore Brick do, or, at least they go out in it every once in awhile! They also like to watch girls rhumba, work at their pa’s vegetable stand, live at home with mom (rock up a MEAN shufflin’ cover of the Coasters’ ‘Searchin’) and dispense sage-like wisdom ‘cos son you know ‘when temptation waves a finger it takes a bigger man to tell it no.’ YEAH, RIGHT ON! Ian McKaye abides! But lest you think Chick’s boys all a bunch of hetero mudslide-slims, nearly every tune here is lipping-full of chugging, chiming, angular VU-style guitar runs and occasional honky pee-any: enough to make Jonathan Richman go back to busing tables (so you can’t lose and you won’t get AIDS!). Far from watered-down, ‘One Kiss Leads To Another’ comes on like the lost, transitional interim between the third and fourth Velvet Underground records, with a few psychological trace elements of the ‘Nico’ years coming to the fore on the ballads. Another far too facile line ‘bout the Brick is sung to the tune of a ‘West Coast Velvets,’ which is again misleading-wrong as this is as much a New York City album – in its own way – as anything by Elliot Murphy, Garland Jeffreys or, yes, MiserLou Reed. After the Modern Lovers, ‘One Kiss Leads To Another’ is the best early 70s VU-influenced guitar album and the best NYC psych rock long-player before ‘Marquee Moon’ (take that, Faine Jade!).
There: told ya I liked summations.
P.S. if you close your eyes during the chorus of ‘Reachin’,’ you can almost hear Doug Yule.(CM)
(Mr. Nobody // www.forcedexposure.com)
Heart Attack "God is Dead" 7"
WAS Jesse Malin really 12 years old when these 3 songs were first released in 1981 (recorded in 1980, I've read..)? Doesn't SOUND like it. As we all know, the future D-Generation member was once in one of NY's first hardcore punk acts Heart Attack. This record has since become a HEAVY item and with good reason, as it stands up with most other records released in that holy year and "Shotgun" is a no-brainer on any starter mix for any galook who wants to get mired in this kind of stuff. That's right, I said galook! Broken makes this platter as faithful as possible, including a fascimile of the original insert and the label reads "Damaged Goods", not "Broken," a modest and genuine touch! According to the notes, Broken will be making this and all other Heart Attack recordings available on an LP in early '08. More good news! I'm glad Mr. Malin looks back at these records fondly and will let them be released, unlike a host of others who will not let their past see the light of day. Hell, I might even start drinking at Niagara more. Especially when Caleb from Sacred Bones is working. Get this thing and play it.(MS)
Hello "Keeps Us Off The Streets" CD
It’s not hip to listen to Glitter anymore; if it was ever anything more than a half-ironic infatuation in the first place (which I doubt). The spate of compilations and CEE-DEE repackages has slowed to an almost Aral Sea suckle. “Neo-Rodney” Ursula 1000 has either moved on or is keeping his goods tightly under wraps. And suicide girls around the world are putting on stupid hats in anticipation of a retrospective anthology of recordings by the Bush Tetras (a group whose mighty oeuvre will surely resonate forever in cramped, vintage store changing rooms all-cross this bog-standard world-stage).* All of thus demonstrates, markedly to me, the returning of the compilers to the Party Of The Fathers: the altogether saner and more reconcilable waters of 60’s freakbeat, garage and punk.
…and it is not as if record-wretches have looted the cupboards clean either – Fourth Crusade style - and are now jousting each other over glittering toaster-leavin’s. No no - there is still many a bone, organ and Charlie Horse to be fished out of this Operation genre (a great deal of which continues apace courtesy of Robin Wills’ PurePop blog – BUZZ! PLUG!). Yet for this constant car-crash-boot-sale fishing for unknown, killer crops (Grudge, Hector, etc), many of the more visible, junk-shop-cum-one-hitters have been passed over. Perhaps none more cruelly than Hello!
Blessed with one of the best logos in rock history and, at the same time, hobbled with an utterly unstriking (and now-days un-net-searchable) nome-de-guerre, Hello fit rather unhappily amongst the junk-shop peerage: they had hits (one big one in England, tons more in Germany), top-flight writers (Chinn/Chapman, Mike Leander, Russ Ballard) and plus, people actually remember them. …or I do at least: owing to my first 18-year-old hitch to London and purchasing some cheapo ‘BEST GLAM ROCK COLLECTION…EVER!!!’ CD and grooving quite consistently to ‘Tell Him’ and ‘New York Groove’ (familiar to most as an Ace Frehley cover). Eschewing much of the feyness and gimmicky-overkill that effects many of junk shop glam’s finest, Hello – the band – instead focused on a punchy, Glitter Band-style attack with an emphasis on suggested, teen-pop sleaze. …the kind of ‘straight ’74 Glitter-Rock…that scared everybody out of’ glam forever to cop a few lines off Lightweight ‘Metal’ Mike. …and they most certainly were straight – crimped hair notwithstanding. None of that insufferable, ice-queen shit here – just proper platform pop – with at least as many great songs as the Jook, Mud or Suzi Q.
Hello are also anomalous in that they ‘managed’ to ‘produce’ one of Glitter’s few, solid long player’s not wholly composed of previously issued singles’ material. Alongside ‘Desolation Boulevard’ and ‘Old New Borrowed And Blue’ (‘Clap Your Feet, Stomp Your Hands’ over here), ‘Keeps Us Off The Streets’ stands – crossed arms or hands-on-hips – as one of the best, derivative, shuffle-beating pop sounds going, containing at least four-to-five (depending on your enrollment status), all-out Glitter Rock classics: ‘Teenage Revolution,’ the deservedly-comped ‘Another School Day’ (with monster lead guitar not found on the single mix), the bumping title track, the strutting ‘New York Groove’ and the slightly-mournful ‘Star Studded Sham’ - perhaps the perfect song for promenading across an empty dance floor at Rodney’s English Disco (or for contemplating the collapse of British working class society). On the denim-backside of this LP, Hello should have been granted everlasting fame and their own movie or, at the very least, a segment on Marc. In the end, none of that happened at all and so off Hello went – like the Glitter Band and the Rubettes – to commit excretal disco sins in the fatherland of Giorgio Moroder and Rammstein.
BUT THIS LP RECORD IS REAL GOOD BABY, YOU BUY IT, HUH?! SUUUURE, THERE’S STOLEN RIFFS GALORE, BUT THEY’RE TEN TIMES BETTER AT IT THAN CHEAP TIME, SO YAHOO! (CM)
* This fact was later born out definitely following my typing “bush tetras suck” into Google. ‘Your search did not match any documents.’
(7T'S // www.cherryred.co.uk/7ts)
King Khan & BBQ Show s/t 2XLP
A deluxe reissue of the stunning 2005 debut (released on Goner™ ) from the King Khan & BBQ Show (a record we will fondly look back on for many years to come, undoubtedly — it’s a classic already) is handsomely re-packaged here (with original EuroPress cover photo) in gatefold form. The original LP intact, two extras (both gems) are added: ‘Take Me Back’ (hidden at the end of the CD version) ends side A and ‘Am I The One’ starts side B, a mellower number that showcases Sultan's great vocals. Aside from the fact that the two tracks are mislabeled with each other, they sit quite nicely within the original sequence of the album.
The extra record features the ‘Factory Sessions’, an older demo that takes up side C (the other side is blank), and as you might expect, these tracks are of a ‘lower fi’ recording quality but still a rather nice add-on.
If you missed out the first time around with the Goner version, obviously no one should be without this album. On the other side, if you’re like me and have reservations about re-buying this, the gatefold opens up to a King Khan & BBQ Show Board Game! Complete with game pieces (you cut ‘em out; dice not included). I still haven’t figured out the directions yet...but I’m sure it’s no Axis and Allies.(LB)
(In the Red Records // www.intheredrecords.com)
The Left "Jesus Loves The Left: Complete Studio Recordings" CD
Operating briefly in the mid-80s, the Left were certainly outcasts in the strictly defined hardcore punk of the time. Influenced by 60s garage punk (not a fashionable thing at the time) and 70s proto-punk, The Left were doing their own thing (and were subsequently criminally overlooked as a result). Their sound was more rock and roll oriented than the hardcore wasteland that seemed to take over during the time, but their legacy was not totally forgotten; the New Bomb Turks covered their fantastic “Fuck It” on the '500 Miles to Glory' compilation. They were a band that seemed equally aggravated with the strict confines that had become punk rock at the time as much as the rest of the world.
The band recorded two 12” EPs during their main existence; for both of them, they went to visit Don Zientaras’ Inner Ear studio, resulting in a couple of top quality sounding records. Released in 1984, “Hell—It’s The World” is a powerhouse, and their strongest moment. While “Fuck It” and “5 am” are standout tracks, the record is full of angry hits. Relying more on emotion and drive than speed and bombast, The Left delivered some truly great (overlooked) songs from a place I’ve never even heard of. The 1985 follow-up, “Last Train To Hagerstown”, is a bit less consistent (they broke up soon after) with the songs, but still maintains the attitude they held. Aside from a few standouts, it’s less memorable than the first, but still another great sounding record (they covered "TV Eye" with surprisingly good results). Rounding out the discography is an earlier compilation track, the shaky “You’re So” (sounds like a master was lost and this was drawn from a secondary source) and batch of somewhat forgettable tracks from an even more short-lived “reunion” from 1992. Overall, highly recommended stuff right here.(LB)
(Bona Fide Records // www.bonafiderecords.net)
Legendary Pink Dots "Early Recordings" 5xLP Box
Yes, I am now completely gaga for Legendary Pink Dots.
I'd flirted before, owned some in those very fleeting
post-puberty years which got lost in the shuffle, but
now I'm making out with LPD in the phone booth. A few
months ago when I reviewed the excellent "Ancent Daze"
2-LP comp on Beta-Lactum I almost apologized and had
to explain why you should listen to it. I even had the
audacity to say some not-very-nice things about Edward
Ka-Spel's later solo stuff. Well, now I want as many
Edward Ka-Spel solo records as I can find.
Since then, I've re-collected a bunch of LPD. I
remember liking my cassette copy of "Asylum" quite a
bit so I quickly got right to picking that back up.
Well, it totally held up and sounds as good as I
remember. I went to my friend and LPD expert Caleb
from Sacred Bones. "Please, Dr. Caleb, I need, NEED
LPD. Can you help me?" In his typically brave fashion,
we quickly worked out some trades and I have the Tower
and Legendary Pink Box (the one from the 80's, not
what this review is about, although I do promise to
talk about that soon..)
Then I came across "The Crushed Velvet Apocolypse."
"Hmmmm, this is from '89, I dunno....." It's great!
They stuck to their guns.
So what's in the soup? What is it about these
Legendary Pink Dots? I think it might be how their
music is a perfect continuation of psychedelic pop
into the DiY era instead of recreating a pop taste.
While bands like The Mood and The Leopards were doing
retro-psychedelia (sometimes pretty good, even) LPD
was making new psycedelia. Darker, rawer and not
forgetting that since that first Pink Floyd LP, acts
like The Residents, Brian Eno, Throbbing Gristle and
Wire came along. By not ignoring the current
interesting music they were able to update psychedelic
music perfectly. In the same respect, they did not
approach synthesizers and drum machines with the
mentality of changing music through technology. They
used the technology to aid their recordings and songs,
not to start from their instrumentation as an ethos
for the band, i.e.; they write songs, not vehicles for
their synths and drum machines to sound "futuristic."
The very early examples of this approach is what you
get in this box set. It's a daunting prospect for
non-fans to buy an expensive 5xLP set, but in a way
it's the perfect starting point. Everything that LPD
will do later is spread over these five LP's in it's
most raw. Strewn across these 10 sides,you get the
gist of the LPD experience: Tape manipulation, Lewis
Carroll/Philip K. Dick-tweeked lyrics, circus
playground melodies that are ancient and new at the
same time and the offkilter pop music structures that
are completely stripped of anything "rock." It all
comes together into something approachable yet
menacing. Sometimes I wish I owned a very soft felt
robe. But I have these instead.
So, here we have it. Chemical Playschool, Kleine
Krieg, Live in Cologne '83. The early cassette-only
releases by LPD. Along with Ancient Daze, this makes
for the frist vinyl appearance of many of these
original versions of these tracks. Ltd. to 600 copies.(MS)
(Vinyl On Demand // www.vinyl-on-demand.com)
Little Diesel "No Lie" CD
I dunno how much they paid kids allowance back in Winston-Salem circa 1970s – do you? Alan Betrock might’ve, but he’s dead, so no go. Couldn’t have been much though, if anything at all (I know I never got shit, but then again Mississippi ain’t real long in the habit of paying its laborers). In any case, you can bet YOUR LIFE Mitch Easter ‘N’ Chris Stamey’s folks would have shat a brighter shade of REDDD if they know’d exactly what their fruit-of-the-loins was a-squandering their sweat-earned coin on. Tape! Tape, tape and more tape! An ugly habit – product of a mind diseased with unique-snowflake superman kinda delusions.
So, no, I don’t need liner notes, yearbook quotes, veracified court-ordered testimony – nothin’ - to tell me about their upbringing/development: there’s aural snapshots aplenty of practically every ‘phase’ or ‘period’ they and their pals went through down in Camel City. First-toke bra-fumblings (Sacred Irony), garage-loft demi-narcissists (Rittenhouse Square*), Advanced Placement ‘zine reading (Sneakers), blown-scholarship dorm-dorks (db’s), etc. and up to the present day of producing chumpionship heavies like Ryan Adams and Yo La Tengo and working at Borders (Holsapple used to at the one in New Orleans and I’d go bother him). And to the chagrin of all involved I’m certain they – unlike me - did not think to burn that shoebox full of posed ‘cool clothes’ teenage photos secreted away ‘neath the bed (I did so no BAUHAUS fun for you!). Then at least they could have lied – escaped, legend intact: faith outweighing fact. But no, Kierkegaard would have wet-eyes with this gang as there is evidence abounding of their teenage ego deeds (with illustration enough to make one envy Ypres). Like if Mike Stax found your ledger of sixteen year old ruminations on life and decided to publish it – like that, but with bigger collars. So now, the (perhaps MAYBE?!?!) final sonic installment in the (d)evolution of Winston-Salem rock from Amboy Dukes’ amoeba to sensitive slime mollusk: Little Diesel.
At least the second coolest band of U.S.A. teens going in 1973 (Dictators are first, ‘a course), edging out Jimmy Spheeris’ by a tap dancing earth shoe, Little Diesel were most – though not all – future Sneakers/db’s/Let’s Active-rs; ‘give you, take me.’ They played loud, looked at porn, drove at high speeds, were not paid attention to and usually fell apart each summer break (or when gal-swapping turned physical). They also decided to name their band after Popeye’s lady, Olive Oyl’s niece, Little Diesel: MILES cooler than the au currant R. Crumb/Ed Roth infaguation (get a subscription to Low Rider, nerds – more bang for your, etc). Secret Weapon, oh they did have – not in the same league as Richard Blum – who is? – but pretty f’n snotty with Liquid Plumb’r clear pipes and sub-Slade all the way. Bob Northcott’s his name. What’s he doing now? Probably selling cars or teaching web-design. Over the course of a few seasons, tracks on TEAC were set down or spun or whatever it is those magic machines do – ignored, until now: our happy back-pedaling age of re-exploration!
Yeah, mainly covers and ‘uhhhh, that’s not cool’ cry foolish heads, products of pejorative and inconsistent paradigms wherein the 50s and 60’s, ‘woo, boy,’ it’s okay to turn in that umpteenth millionth cover of ‘Hey Joe’ / ‘Train Kept A Rollin’ ‘cos the 50s/SIXTIES are UNIMPEACHABLE cooooooooooooooool, daddy – but if the garage band aesthetic is granted clemency/asylum to cross over that decade mark into the smiley 1970’s, ‘oh no, uh uh, not happening, LAME!’ …which outs the sorry reflexes of these bankrupt knee-jerks anyway, so fine – more for me (MOGAN DAVID FOREVER)! Nowhere else will you find covers of Brownsville Station, Beatles/Blue Ash, SPIRIT (my heroes!), MC 5, KOOL & THE GANG, Bowie/Ronson and the Statuo Quo – sludged up and fucked up, sure – that work so well and sound so live (until the Cheater Slicks decide to go that route and then ABANDON SHIP!). Uhhh, the originals aren’t bad either? No, you might even call them good. ‘Kissy Boys’ is ‘Louie, Louie’ meets ‘Private World’ on the subject of queer skin flicks; ‘Teenage Heartbreak Lament’ is P. Holsapple authored pop in a no-budget, sub-Groovies vein and ‘Flamingo’ is a solid big-mama-boogie popper that will make even the most jaded Marcus Hook Roll Band fan reach for another shot of
‘Ol Granddaddy. Think of the best crash-pad party band you could ever imagine seeing – this is them.
So there now. Don’t you try and put me on – you’ve wasted money on lame ass shit from Estrus and twist albums on Norton – you have no excuse not to purchase this album and give it your full, undivided ADULTERATED attention! Seek now or forever hold your breath! DON’T WAIT TO BE SERVED ON A SILVER, 180 GRAM PLATTER – GET YOUR FUCKING HANDS DIRTY, SQUARES!(CM)
* Asterisk crazy this go-round!!! Ahem. Everyone should try and hear the Rittenhouse Square EP – it’s at least as shitty and inept as O.Rex and from two years earlier. The pic sleeve is pretty priceless too. Literally. I don’t even got one!
(Telstar // www.myspace.com/littledieselmusic)
Gregor MacKenzie and the Misanthropes "Torture That Girl" LP
Interesting punk stuffs from these "long-running" (1978-82 or so, which I consider long-running by KBD standards...) Minnesota weird-rockers, part of the same scene as Suicide Commandos (whom they played their first show with), Suburbs, and others. The Misanthropes actually released four singles during their active duty (one of them a 2x7", and the first three strangely utilize the same cover picture just printed in a different color each time...) on their own Break'er imprint (which was probably the pre-eminent obscure label of the state, releasing a dozen records, including The Turnbuckles 7", with which I believe The Misanthropes shared members), most (all?) of them in editions of 300. Press on this one throws Zappa comparisons around, and I guess that could be considered, as Gregor & Co. sound more basement proto-punk than actual '78-79 punk snarl. They got the goofy Gizmos action going on, with a weird sexual bent ("Oedipus Blues", "Window Peeper" [maybe my fave cut on this], "Torture That Girl"), but also not in a creepy way...they also have a propensity (a la The Ramones) for naming songs after chicks ("Andrea Teen", "Debby Is Electro-cute", "Gertrude is the Guitar Queen", "Sweet Little Suzie")..actually, almost all their songs are about girls ("Northfield Girls", "Soviet Girl"..I could go on..). These pussy-centric cuts are accentuated by oddball jam-outs like "Contact Overdose" and "Winged Bat Anthem", nothing too busy or too fast, lots of borderline-inept plod-and-throb and Gregor's voice is real similar to D.Johansen's. No live filler here, all studio cuts (two dozen of 'em), a little bit of just sheer of goofing-off on tape, some respectable basement punk tuneage, an above-average Rave Up release that I've been enjoying on and off for the past month. They haven't been comped too much (a track on a Killed by 7" volume and some H2D-family appearances I imagine), so I was pretty interested in this one. I have to skip a track here and there and they didn't really record one ultimate killer and definitve tune, but there's a good batch of solid B-team stuff here. Recommended for fans of the more primitive end and goofy-weird (Prog-punk?) end of the KBD pool. For the full Misanthropes/Break'er story go here: www.themisanthropes.com.(RK)
(Rave Up Records // www.raveuprecords.com)
The Modernettes "Get Modern Or Get Fucked" LP
Ah, Mary-Jo Kopechne...not the best looking punk rock chick ever, but kinda cute I guess and she looked like she'd be really fun to hang around...I always loved her on the cover of the "Gone But Not Forgiven" 12", hitchiking to Hitsville...but yeah, the Modernettes were a great band that released some great records. I guess they get saddled with B-Team status by many...always behind the Pointed Sticks or DOA or Subhumans or whoever in terms of importance/regionality. And as great as some of those bands' records are, I probably listen to The Modernettes just as much if not more. This 12" compiles almost everything you'll need to hear by this band...the "Teen City" 12" that shows off their always exciting and enjoyable (and I mean that, "Barbra" and "Teen City" and constant mixtape staples of mine) punk-pop on through the "View From the Bottom" 12" which shows them a little darker, a little edgier, a little more complex (and with Mary-Jo singing!). In between you get the demo cuts from the "Gone..." 12" (but not the live stuff) and a couple of "unreleased" live/rehersal cuts tacked on the end (and I wish they wouldn;t have included "Tears Will Fall" because it's a piece of crap recorded in 1995 that does nothing but sully the legacy of this fine band...should've put the live "Surf City Strangler" on or anything else...). The Modernettes discography is pretty concise (and maybe that's what makes them all the more likeable) and this LP has it all. BUT, if you're ambitious and a lover of aluminum, you can get the CD discography on Sudden Death ("Get It Straight") which contains all this stuff and the live cuts. Depends on your format of choice I guess...On the Lady Kinky Karrot label, an offshoot of the Rockin' Bones empire, who have also done a K-Tels/Young Canadians reissue as well (their logo is a bad parody of the in The Red logo, by the way). Limited numbered edition of 1100 copies. (RK)
(Lady Kinky Karrot // myspace.com/ladykinkykarrot)
Moondog "Snaketime Series" LP
In a 1998 interview, Moondog stated how much he dislikes atonal music. As little as he liked most pop music, he liked it more than what was regarded as his peers in modern "avant garde" music. While all through his life he experimented with sound and created new musical instruments to perform his songs, Moondog seems to have been a student of standard music forms.
It's tough to classify Moondog in any genre. On this record alone he goes from samba-esque rhythms with Japanese spoken word over it, near-eastern "arabic" songs with frogs creeking over it, and even solo piano pieces. It's never stagnant yet it's always cohesive. In a sense, it's perfect soundtrack music, yet I don't know of any films appropriate for it.
Originally released by Moondog himself with a silk-screened sleeve, this LP was quickly reissued by Prestige in the same year (1956.) Prestige was not an odd company to give this record it's initial wider distribution, as many jazz fans and musicians were familiar with Moondog since his home on 6th Avenue was not far from the clubs and studios where they performed. Whoever did this reissue opted for the original self-released artwork, and for a bootleg the sound quality on here is actually quite good. No doubt a labor of love, this is no hack job.
It's easy to be curious about a blind, self-imposed homeless man who dresses like a viking and conducts a flock of geese, but as you acquire more Moondog records, you find quite easily that the pursuit of this music is worth it for far more than the initial visual curiousity.(MS)
Nick Nicely "Psychotropia" LP
The only 10th Planet release not from the 60's/early 70's, Nick Nicely's "Psychotropia" nonetheless fits perfectly within the label's reverance for off-kilter psychedelia. Does the term Psych Psynth exist? It's on the liners for this record, and I suppose it fits. Not just synthesizers and drum machine, but anything you can pluck, beat on, or run through an oscillator is in this kitchen sink, with even more sponges and dish detergent than usual.
Culling both sides of his rare early 80's material as well as ther recordings from '80-83, this record introduces us to a hitherto unknown master of off-the-wall recording techniques in vein of Joe Meek, Keith West and Bruce Haack, but updated to the nooooo-waaaaaave. The results are like Cabaret Voltaire showing up for the "I Am The Walrus" recording session. INTO IT.
Besides mere studio wizardry, Nicely is an adept songwriter, with always intersting chord changes and a penchant for soaring, yet effortless, choruses.
"Hilly Fields (1892)" is culled from his second 7" and is the definate standout. Apparently, Nick sold everything he owned to record it. I'm glad he did, as it's as great a track as I've heard in a while. Truly haunting psychedelia with nods both to a Victorian past and a sci-fi future, it's a monster and it convinced XTC to try their Dukes of Stratosphear experiment. (MS)
(Tenth Planet // see mailorder list)
Peep Show "Mazy" LP
Firstly, anyone who's into Sixties English Psychedelia should pick up as much as possible from 10th Planet. After an apparent dormancy for a few years, their catalog is back. Whether these are reissued again or just remaining copies from their inital run 7-8 years back, snatch them up!! All feature high-quality sound and for the most part are completely unissued recordings.
One of the classics of their reissues is this record by the Peep Show. In the glut of quality records coming out of the Isles from '66-'69 it was easy as hell to get lost in the sauce. The Peep Show, which not even many of the good bands can say, had a distinct sound all their own. Mixing spooky minor-chord melodies like the Zombies, the loping basslines of "Tomorrow Never Knows" and a raw trebly guitar sound reminiscent of Kaleidoscope, "Mazy" (their signature tune) is an unheralded classic of the psych genre. It's a favorite of mine for sure, and this record always makes it's way to the turntable when it's time to blow some friend's mind.
That's just the tip of the iceberg, as this LP displays quality songwriting, track after track. And this is not your typical Sixties flower and love, this stuff is glum and dark, almost to the point where it could have conceivably been released on 4AD in 1980.
I'm not certain that it's a tragedy that these recordings, for the most part, were not issued upon their recording. Some things need to gestate and are just not quite ready to get out of the fallopian tubes. Ltd. to 1000 copies.(MS)
(Tenth Planet // see mailorder list)
Prince Jammy "Destroys the Space Invaders" LP
Greensleeves have finally started to reissue more of their backcatalog on LP after several years of heavy bootlegging. The latest is this impressive set of futuristic dub first released in 1982 by Prince Jammy as a response to Scientist's equally impressive "Meets the Space Invaders." Why the Prince of dub has more sinister plans for the arcade villains than merely "meeting" them is up for debate and may very well be lost in Jamaican music history.
As per almost every other Greensleeves record of the era, the backing band on this is the Roots Radics. Here they offer up more of the rhythm accompaniement that made them the wrecking crew of early 80's Jamaica. It's Jammy's spaced-out mixing and engineering that really make this one a standout. The "gimmicky" laser sounds and echoed blips and bleeps are pretty refreshing to my ears and add a dose of "weird" to what is otherwise a good-not-great dub LP.
Recommended to anyone who enjoys the "Cry Tuff Encounter" LP's by Prince Far I and the same period Scientist LP's. Also worth noting is the exceptional pressing quality on this, miles away from the majority of Jamaican reissue titles out there.(MS)
(Greensleeves // www.greensleeves.net)
Private Dicks "Homelife" LP
Private Dicks were a punk/powerpop unit from Bristol formed in the 1979 that released one single and a handful of comp cuts during their time (about six months or so), stuff which has been reissued before (on CD via Cherry Red and 1977) of which this here Rave Up contains most of. The original single ("She Said Go" is surely a winner, in a definite Buzzcocks style) plus more studio cuts from the 'Avon Calling' comp and good quality demos including the tunes that were to make-up their never-released second 7". Sixteen tracks, three of them being live (but at least they aren't repeats of the studio material). "She Said Go" and at least three of the other tracks ("Star Freezig" (sic) and it's very familiar guitar-line in particular) are definitely mix-tapeable, and as with KBD-era punk, this era of UK powerpop birthed scads of bands that recorded a handful of good cuts and perhaps one great tune. Story-of-the-band liners are informative (band is formed, has brushes with many people who go on to become "famous" punks, they get drunk a lot, release an indie single, get the major label carrot dangled in front of them, fuck things up/shit happens and fade into obscurity...). I'm not as harsh on Rave Up stuff as some, but this one definitely ain't exactly a winner. It's also not bottom-of-the-barrel scrapings either, so if you're an aficionado of this particular era/style, hey, there's a handful of decent tracks here. Me, I think it would be more than sufficient to have a couple of their tunes on some comps (KBD #20, Powerpearls Vol. 6...). The PDs have recently reformed and appear to be gigging in Europe as we speak...(RK)
(Rave Up Records // www.raveuprecords.com)
Pure Hell "Noise Addiction" LP/CD
As a result of getting into music in the early to mid 90's - when the dominant musical milieu was "alternative rock" complete with its surface level nods to the underground - unlike a lot of people who came up in the late 80's I never had to go through a metal phase in order to discover punk rock. My journey from mainstream square to the Rip Offs was a fairly direct line, and consequently I never developed a taste for heavy metal accouterments like "punishing riffs" and "blazing guitar solos." In fact, that shit was anathema to my punk-tuned ears, and to this day I cringe when I hear lead guitar featured more prominently than, say, James Williamson's leads on "Raw Power." That being said, I've been playing this Pure Hell record non-stop since picking it up a couple weeks back despite the omnipresence of Hendrix-worshiping hott lixx and song titles like "Hard Action," and "Rot in the Doghouse." What can I say, I'm a sucker for a catchy song, and these songs are full of hooks. In fact, the excessive fretboard fondling and goofy subject matter only adds a level of idiosyncratic charm to what is otherwise damn fine punk rock in the Testors/Dead Boys vein. I wouldn't place Pure Hell up there with those two bands, but "Noise Addiction" is a worthwhile addition to your late 70's NYC punk record collection. It's worth mentioning that "No Rules" is a really singular song among the pack here (actually it's "singular" in more ways than one - it's the b-side of their one and only single, featuring a cover of "These Boots are Made for Walking" on the a-side). While I have reservations comparing these guys to the elite punk bands, "No Rules" I'd enter into the all time great punk anthem sweepstakes with total confidence. It's a lot more UK-catchy than the rest of their songs and the results are first-rate. What's barely worth mentioning - and I'm only brining it up because what I've read of these guys has always made it a central point - is that Pure Hell were an entirely black band playing in a scene dominated by whites. While it's somewhat interesting to speculate on what attracted four black dudes to playing what has been retroactively dubbed "white urban blues" by critics trying to sound smarter than they really are, at the end of the day who really cares? I mean, yeah they were black. So what? Far more interesting to me are the words written in what looks like permanent marker on guitar player Chip Wreck's jean jacket: "punk rock." To me this suggests that Mr. Wreck - who in all likelihood either went on to work the front desk at Guitar Center or to teach a course at the Guitar Institute of Technology - saw himself as a punk rocker first and fretboard wizard second. And punk rock is definitely what I hear when I listen to Pure Hell.(SB)
(Welfare Records // www.welfarerecords.net)
Question Mark "Be Nice to the People" LP
Although Question Mark (no Mysterians in sight, here) hail from Kenya, this record is a pure basement rock/psych record. No funk drumbeats, no african brass, no congas. It's nearest cousin is the wonderful Neutral Spirits record (from Georgia, 1972, gonna write something about that eventually) and Witch, who recorded a record in the same year from somewhat closer Zamibia. I'm remiss to say so, since why do African bands only get compared to other Afircan bands? Makes no sense. But, the fact is, it kind of sounds like Witch. Anyway, what we have here is stripped-down psychedelic songs recorded in 1974, but could have easily been recorded 4 years earlier. Themes are mostly about girls and the tunes are played with more passion than ability, always a good thing in my book. Perhaps a lack of vareity in songwriting and sound is the only drawback, however there's enough modest charm on here to warrant further listens.(MS)
(Shadoks // see mailorder list at bottom of page)
Raven "Back to Ohio Blues" LP
I've heard some mugs who seem to know their shit mention this record as one of the great hard-as-fuck-to-find basement heavies, in a league with Brigman, Vulcan and other heavy hitters of the Seventies guitar-weirdo pantheon. So when I saw a repress available, I snatched it immediately, and can't say I'm disappointed in the slightest. It's blues-based heavy, there's some great shredding/wanking and riffs, it's hazily lo-fi and off-kilter raw and the lyrics are about drugs/bikers/broads craziness. Perhaps not as absolutely jaw-dropping gonzo as 'Jungle Rot' or the work of Lyle Steece, but definitely somewhere in that league. So, the story goes, this thing was recorded in 1975, and Raven is the name of the guy who plays guitar and sings (not the band) playing along with some friends who united for this session only (five semi-epic five-to-eight-minute jams and the thirteen minute title track) and had never played together before (you can kinda tell in the way the drums sort of feel their way around at times, lending a likeably stumbling quality...and there's even some ballsy drum breaks...) who basically just lay down some heavy rumble while Raven wails. Originally pressed in an edition of 300 (copies now go for a grand), of which all were given away, this repress comes with brief liners by Mike Rep, a new cover photo and is signed and numbered (800 copies only) by Raven himself. If you're into loner guitar monsters and hammer-down Seventies (white) bluesrock ala San Fransisco's Shiver or Phafner, this one's for you. (RK)
(Owl Records // see mailorder list)
Screw "Banks of the River" b/w "Devil's Hour" 10"
Somewhat of a legendary "Lost Band," Screw recorded only two tracks, "Banks of the River" and "Devil's Hour," which make up each side of this 10". With such notables as Nick Mason of Pink Floyd recording the original takes, Ron Geesin making the tape transfer and mastering and packaging by none other than ex-Art Attack and Fad Gadget roomate Savage Pencil, this must be quite a find. Well, yes and no.
The A-side of this 10", "Bank of the River" is a great example of that incredibly small
pool of good blues-rock. Instead of merely recreating the blues but on electric instruments and with a British vibe (a la John Mayall and a million other artists) Screw updated the blues while respecting it's rawness on this track. Even throwing in a bit of psychedelia. The loping bassline and frenetic harmonica (almost reminiscent of the jug in 13th Floor Elevators) makes me immediately think of the other good blues/psych artists of the time, namely the Groundhogs, Killing Floor and the more rockin' Capt. Beefheart. There's even a bit of the weirdness of the Misunderstood, though nowhere near as unhinged. This is a quality track and almost makes it worth owning.
The B-side is a lackluster heavy blues romp to my ears. "Devil's Hour" is not terrible, but it does little to separate it from the pack. It wouldn't be out of place on one of the good Canned Heat records. Not bad, but not exactly something that will make your wallet flap with the going dollar/english pound exchange rate.
I guess if you have Savage Pencil doing the art for your release, you're a bit remiss to limit it to a 7", however I'm afraid to say that's the better format for this record. At least until the US dollar can go up. That being said, the packaging is great, informed liners and a bonus CD of an instrumental jam. I didn't listen to it as I have yet to hear an "instrumental jam" this side of the Sun City Girls that I can get my ears around. If you're really into the Groundhogs or Killing Floor, I'd take the plunge, otherwise you can let your curiousity linger until you listen to it at a friend's place.(MS)
(Shagrat // nwcprods-at-hotmail.com)
Shoes "Double Exposure" 2XCD
Oh, no! it’s DEmOs!
This word - short, two syllables - is like a Judo champion drinking gin on an empty stomach. If he’s buying you drinks, clapping your back and inviting you to reap the benefit of his worldly experiences, he’s a great guy; demos is a great guy. On the other hand (left, right, doesn’t matter - he‘s the champ!), if he mumbles something to you - which you can not discern over the din of the beast-den without and within - he might seriously and personally ruin your evening in a way no parking ticket ever could. This is the demo dilemma. Will it be wild times/unknown plez. or snap mare across the bar and you have to buy a new shirt?
The D word got even dicier after the dagos took it over (ain’t that always the way?). CERTAIN UNNAMEABLE ELEMENTS FROM LAMBRETTA-LAND specializing in lost punk rock classics began cranking out whole crate-loads of glossy, attractive-looking product. Unfortunately, for the sad addicts of this nasty vice (and you can ask to see this writer‘s track-marks if you object to my candor), there were no tell-tale Adam’s Apples or mystery stubble to tip our dipsticks away from the Misters and to-wards the genuine punk sisters. This situation was akin to having a one night in Bangkok punk rock RAVE UP, but with a real high end crowd…so maybe punk is all wrong for it.
Fuck it, I dunno. What I’m trying to get at - all round-about-ly - is that there are chicks in Thailand (and other similar climes) who will suck your dick, but they’ve got a dick themselves. …but you won’t know it, unless you pay extra (shipping from Italy, for instance) and BOY, WILL YOU BE DISPLEASED! …or maybe thrilled (they are very dainty). In any case, RAVE UP (fuck anonymity - this ain’t witness protection) showed about as much quality control with their releases as your average Chinese toy company and you couldn’t even stick that crappy Brats’ LP in an eyedropper and hope to spike some girls drink with it, SO WHAT - I ask you - IS THE POINT?!?!
Lowering the standard or perhaps eliminating the demarcations on what could actually qualify as a ‘demo,‘ while at the same time, completely failing to consider what people might actually want to hear, Rave Up became undisputed king of the hissy, cavernous, inaudible castle - with third-gen rehearsal tapes fished out of flooded basement storage units for masters and a single-mic live show to fill out the flip (after the original incarnation of the band had broken up, but the bassist decided to bravely soldier on and play reggae). Not all of their stuff was so sub-par (and now it‘s merely mediocre) - the point is you didn’t know and couldn’t unless you bit; took the bait. And that’s how demos can be a bitch: packing or prick-less.
Luckily, we’re dealing with a higher class of clientele here. THEY’RE ALL AMERICAN FOR ONE! And, second, they’re a name-brand you can trust. Shoes is good and knows what good music is and isn’t and since it’s Shoes it is (good). Plus, if Shoes is synonymous with one thing other than gorgeous and transcendent pop music, it’s meticulous and exacting studio-craft, even when working under wartime primitive conditions. …and though they may cry like power pop castrati at times, these Illinois border-boys are alllll male, so there’s THAT out of the way (unless you‘re a girl, in which case, rubber-up!).
This two-disc package - issued, like everything else Shoes-related these days, on Jeff Murphy’s Black Vinyl Records - contains the ‘rough demos’ of the songs that would become the band’s first two Elektra LP’s, PRESENT TENSE and TONGUE TWISTER. And what Shoes’ considers ’rough’ would most likely come across pristine, polished and ringing-clear to the ears of nearly everyone else in 1979 and ‘80; further proof that Shoes are nothing less than the Fleetwood Mac of the basement studio! Some of the songs here - ’Every Girl,’ ’Your Very Eyes,’ ’When It Hits’ - sound practically finished and little different from the versions that would be appear on the official albums. Many more songs, however, are shorn of much of their period-sounding, Elektra production - guitars LOUD(er) and to the front, synths kept very much in the background - especially the material from PRESENT TENSE, most of which sounds like unreleased sessions from their lone BOMP single. The version of ’Too Late’ included here is so perfect that after hearing it (on repeat, at least five times), I can guarantee I will never be satisfied with the official Elektra version again, as great as it admittedly is. And I can say that about a majority of the songs here, not just a handful. As further enticement to your greenback, there are also six unreleased songs (well, five, as there are two version of ’Jet Set’) from the demo sessions that never made it on to the Elektra LP’s proper that are a real treat to have and to hold and maybe even play one day when you’re worn weary of repeated listens of ’Too Late’ (I haven’t yet!). So: DOUBLE EXPOSURE - perhaps not the revelation of AS IS, but still a must-hear for the Zion music aficionado and anyone else who wished Shoes had done an album for BOMP before signing with Elektra.
Put your money where your mouth is, with no Crying Game shame in the morning!(CM)
(Black Vinyl Records // www.blackvinyl.com)
John Spencer Blues Explosion "Jukebox Explosion" LP/CD
At the outset, the JSBX we're a truly kick-ass blues-trash three-piece. I still never tire of 'Crypt Style' (and the different versions of those tunes) and can hang tough with these guys through 'Extra Width' (and 'Mo Width', which may even be a superior release to the actual LP) and lose them about half way through 'Orange'. Anything after that record just flat-out sucks, let's come right our and say it. I've tried, and 95% of everything from 'Now I Got Worry' on just reeks and absolutely pales in comparison to the ferocity and weird-blues of the first record. BUT, before Spencer turned into a lanky Elvis impersonator (and eventually a parody of himself), they cut some genuine greatness (and let's not forget the guy WAS in Pussy Galore and Gibson Bros. for a spell, did some great stuff with The Workdogs, and produced a Cheater Slicks record, so give the guy a fuckin' break...), and a good percentage of the cuts on this record absolutely smoke. A good percentage of these tracks hail from the In the Red jukebox 7" series (legit killers like "Shirt Jac", "Latch On", "Bent", their wild "Son of Sam" cover...), some are from ultra-rare singles I never knew existed (two cuts from a Brazilian press 7", the David Yow-inspired "Naked" from a promo 7" of 100 copies, a Sassy magazine giveaway 7" pressed in an edition of 50) plus some unreleased/obscure nuggets (the tracks from the aborted "Caroline" 7", an unused backing track from an SNL appearance). There're at least a dozen monsters on here, from those innocent days before blues-punk was hammered into the ground and rendered impotent as a style/genre. There's also a small handful of garbage ("Ghetto Mom" is one of the worst things they've ever done...), but it's practically a 4:1 hit-to-miss ratio. I call this a great release, and I might be partial as I lived through this stuff (and these guys could lay down one hell of a live show in their prime), but at their most primitive and wildest peak the JSBX had few peers. Great BFTG-inspired art from Mort Todd himself and humorous liners inna Tim Warren-style are a bonus.(RK)
(In the Red Records // www.intheredrecords.com)
Storung s/t 7"
Newest edition in a string of great single reissues from Minimal Wave. Storung are a duo from the Netherlands, Eugenius and female vocalist Arian Brunwin. Eugenius was in a few conventional punk/new wave bands as a guitarist before teaming up with Arian to go into a more electronic pop direction.
This single consists of two great tracks from this partnership recorded in 1982/1983. "Europe Calls" is the definate A-side, with it's aggressively sequenced synth and innovative effected drum machine. Arian's voice really shines on this track, creeping in and out of the mix. "Radio Lines" is a bit more sparse and almost experimental and dubby in its approach, complete with some off-kiler buzzsaw guitar. Another ace reissue from MW, limited edition of 500 copies, with photo insert.(MS)
(Minimal Wave // www.minimal-wave.org)
Bobb Trimble "Iron Curtain Innocence" and "Harvest of Dreams" LP/CD
It's 2007 and Bobb Trimble's two self-released LP's are back on vinyl to confuse and beguile a new generation of listeners. Trimble's status as a "lost outsider" has been steadily gaining speed since the early 90's when his two records (released in '80 and '82 respectively) started to make their way onto European psych collector's want lists. More so than almost any other self-released albums of the genre and era, these two deliver on what makes seeking out this kind of music so much fun in the first place.
Listening to these two records back-to-back is awarding the listener with a rare chance to peer into someone's singularity. There's no immediately discernible hooks or rough edges, just track after track of constrained and gentle dark pop without any put-ons or obvious bleakness. Sound effects and studio wizardry applied only to the benefit of the song, not weird for the sake of weird. There's a ping pong ball bouncing on the table at the end of "Premonitions-The Fantasy" because it works. Still, the real star is Trimble's voice. It's the science fiction or Lewis Carroll version of Emmit Rhodes or a helium-enhanced Scott Walker, a soaring falsetto that perfectly blends with his acoustic guitar plucking.
Do not be fooled by "originally self-released in an edition of 300" rule that these are rough recordings. On the contrary, these two LP's are some of the lushest and full-bodied records I can think of. Layers and layers of vocals, guitars and effects. This is the studio-as-instrument taken to the fullest extent allowable and, almost impossibly, it is all the better for it. Even though Trimble knew that these were not going to be travelling far from his home in Worcester, Mass, these records were crafted as if he was making a cathedral. Every detail labored over. Maybe he knew that 25 years later an army of music geeks would have their headphones on staring at him holding his machine gun and guitar while listening, and dammit, if another backwards synth overdub will make our experience better, he puts it on there.
It doesn't benefit these records to discuss too much in detail on any of the specific songs. The "flow" of the tracks is enigmatic as the sleeves, one of which features a goat with a unicorn-horn affixed to it's head. These are records that require devouring an entire side at a time, maybe even all four. You can't apply your expectations to these records, you have to give up to their eccentric decadence.
Too many times I've read about these two records as being "psychedelia 10 years too late." It's the typical pigeonholing that we're all guilty of. I suppose it's not too far off the mark, but I think the date that these were released is a benefit to these records. To me, they sound perfectly of their time in their out-of-syncness and remind you that only Bobb Trimble could have made them. I can think of many records from those two years that could have been made by many other artists besides the one's that recorded them. Good ones, too. Because you can't say that in regards to these 2 LPs show that Trimble is perfectly suited for the DiY era of the early 80's.(LPs come with download codes for mp3's from Secretly Canadian's website.)(MS)
(Secretly Canadian // www.secretlycanadian.com)
V/A "The Lost Tapes" LP and "The Found Tapes" LP
Two compilations from Minimal Wave, one (The Lost Tapes) featuring rare and unrelased synth nuggets from continental Europe and the other (The Found Tapes) mining the same style from North America, all from the early-to-mid Eighties.
On each LP there's some familiar artists to someone who's been introduced to the sub-genre (Absolute Body Control, Dark Day, Crash Course In Science, Neon Judgement) but the recordings offered from these artists are for the most part unreleased on vinyl and definitely fit in alongside the less-known artists on here. Like, "Time is on Our Side" by Autumn from Belgium, an incredible mix of wavering, brooding vocals and pulsing, effected synth. A classic of the genre.
Another revelation is a different version of a favorite of mine, "Meteorite" by Florida's Futurisk from 1982. A killer synth-punk track with syncopated live drums. Worth the price of admission alone right there.
Rather than jam-pack these LPs with 9-10 songs a side, Minimal Wave went for the nice, thick grooves and narrowed it down to 10 and 11 winners per disc, respectively. So, whether a newbie to the sounds or a tired, old hack, there's plenty on offer here. Get under the covers, put the headphones on and get analog. Ltd. to 500 copies, high quality 180gm vinyl.(MS)
(Minimal Wave // )
We All Together s/t LP
I gushed about the Grupo Amigos LP for its unabashed goodness of decadent pop. This record by We All Together is the daddy of that record. Recorded in 1972 in Peru, the Cornejo Bros. and their 3 friends made one of the finest slabs of proto-powerpop perfection this side of Rockin Horse.
It's been love at first listen with me and this record since I first heard it. All the harmonies and gruff guitar work I thought I'd completely digested by the time I got around to obtaining those last couple Badfinger and Big Star records some time ago. Then along came the bootleg CD of this in the mid-90's. Much to my amazement they covered two Badfinger songs on this LP. Talk about being "just fine" with wearing your influences on your sleeve. And you know what? These cover versions are great. That's all good and well but the originals really shine here. The psychedelic pop majesty of "It's a Sin to Go Away" with church organ and just-hits-the-spot fuzz bass or the nostalgic sadness of "Children" are the real eye-openers on here.
If the idea of hearing Everly Bros.-esque harmonies over primo Emmit Rhodes backing tracks has even the slightest bit of appeal to you, do not hesitate to grab this LP. I'm a bit concerned with the mastering on here, but it is an improvement on the boot CD, and now that the original pressings of this are finally reaching the $50+ range, I suggest scooping them up while it's around. I hope they reissue their 2nd record, which I've never heard. And no, I won't download it.(MS)
(Get Back // www.abraxasrecords.com)
Whitehouse "Birthdeath Experience" LP
Early on in Whitehouse's career, Genesis P. Orridge was outspoken in his derision towards their music. I don't know if he maintained this stance, or perhaps it was just a pose, but Thtobbing Gristle always maintained that their music was violent in a way to "free" someone from control. I suppose that Genesis saw Whitehouse as the opposite of what the T/G ideal was at the time, but I'm not so sure he's correct.
Regardless of the reason why Whitehouse made their LP debut "Birthdeath Experience" in 1980, you can not ask for a better introduction to the industrial/noise/power-electronics sub-genres than this definitive release. With just 2 synths, various pedals and a screaming voice, Whitehouse managed to create such a brutal attack that it's tough to imagine how it stuck to the vinyl. Sub-sub-sub bass that you feel in your ANKLES and some screeking-high-shrieks that are just this close to being too high-pitched for human ears.
Something worth owning for its historical contex, alone....probably. But that's a really dumb game if you want to play that way. Steely Dan "Aja" is also important, but you probably don't need to own that record. Buy this if you're going to play it. Will there be a time when you need to hear such inhuman noise? Guaranteed.(MS)
(Susan Lawley // www.susanlawly.freeuk.com)
To find any of these releases we recommend:
and we highly endorse www.ebreggae.com for all your reggae needs!
To read past reviews go here.
PREVIOUS PAGE HOME NEXT PAGE