Friday, January 28, 2005

In yesterday's post I asked if anyone had a cut from the Kim Gordon-Lydia Lunch-Sadie Mae band, Harry Crews and someone sent along this:

The Gospel Singer
- Harry Crews (via

(Sorry its too large for me to host and I think its worthwhile to include the after-song patter between Lydia, Kim and the audience - note how Kim says that people should read books because they don't censor violence in books...)

Thanks to ZB for sending it on.

I don't know much about this band and I had heard some cuts from this (including this one) but never spent alot of time with it - so rather than bloviate - here's what Harry Crews website thinks of Harry Crews, the band:

"Naked in Garden Hills."

Harry Crews.
Lydia Lunch, et al.
Widowspeak Productions, 1990.
Sound Recording: LP/Cassette/CD.

"Harry Crews, the band, toured Europe from Sep. 1 till Sep. 24, 1988. The album was recorded live at the Mean Fiddler, London and in Vienna, Austria by Vienna Radio." [from liner notes]

Includes 9 songs: Man Hates a Man, Distopia, Gospel Singer, Knockout Artist, (She's in a) Bad Mood, The Way Out, Bringing Me Down, Car, S.O.S.

Band members include Kim Gordon (of the band Sonic Youth), Lydia Lunch, Sadie Mae.

The liner notes feature a collage of band members and several photos of Crews from his dust jackets. Also, a short text written by Byron Coley characterizes the band members as "brightly colored chickadees" flying around Crews, "a 200 pound sparrow hawk going in for the kill."

The songs, marginally related to the novels, are at best, passable thrash, of the loud, abrasive, dissonant kind. At worst, the music is a poor attempt to cajole the audience into reading Crews's books. Among the various appeals to the audience, "We're trying to get people to read," and "Say no to the sky channel, say yes to the book."

Lydia Lunch says: "Harry Crews, a man by the same name as the band. I know it's confusing cause you never heard of him. You might have heard of her [Kim Gordon]—you might have heard of the wrestler on the drums—but you never heard of the man because in this country, what the fuck have you heard of? But that's what I'm here for—educational reasons . . ."

"Harry Crews. A man that looks like one of those kind of dogs that ain't got no fur on their body that are full of wrinkles. He wrote about 10 of my favorite books . . . You'll never get any cause they aren't published here, that's why we caused the band to be created to inform you about the songs taken from the books that we stole and ripped off from the man that couldn't be here tonight because what the fuck would he want to come here for?"

On the other hand, the enthusiasm of the Harry Crews band reflects the renewed interest of Crews's work in the late 1980s.

Harry Crews Portraits

As I maintained yesterday, Harry Crews first novel The Gospel Singer is a major influence on both EVOL and the first song, "Tom Violence"... the main point of my Meltzer-Bangs-Thompson inspired lunacy yesterday was that EVOL was Sonic Youth's first major rock album, the point at which I believe they decided that this whole Sonic Youth thing wasn't an art school joke. The album's main theme is violence - the purveyors of violence, the victims of violence and the audience for violence be it intentional ("Tom Violence", "Marilyn Moore"), accidental ("In The Kingdom #19") or self-inflicted ("Secret Girl"). They trace threads of violence in Western Culture via its literature -- James Joyce ("Secret Girl"), F. Scott Fitzgerald ("Green Light"), William S. Burroughs (as well as Crews), cinema - Hitchcock ("Shadow of Doubt"), horror movies and music --- Manson Family, rock and roll celebrity ("Starpower", "Xpressway") and the Bonnie Hind, a traditional song about the outlaw who takes the "milkmaid's maidenhead". Even "Death to Our Friends," an instrumental, is a way of expressing a level of projected self-hate that kind of comes with the terroritory of fetishizing violence. With "Expressway To Your Skull", they create their first REAL rock opus, simple in its structure but massive in undertaking. The lock groove that closes out the album suggests that both Sonic Youth and violence in culture and the rock and roll milieu that they have chosen to stake their claim in are here to stay and its up to you to wake up and take the needle off the track. Anyway, that's the short version.

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