Sunday, May 29, 2005

Battle of the (Nearly Forgotten 80's Punk/Retro) Bands

Back in my hometown, every Memorial Day brought about the Battle of the Bands, a big event in those parts hosted by the local Top 40 radio station who cared little for the local music scene except for this yearly exercise in crude exploitation and self-promotion.

Exploitation? Crudeness? Self-Promotion?... if they can do it, why can't I?

The rules for entry are:
1) Must be a pulled at random 7" from the Vinyl Mine box. One cut will be pulled from the single as deemed worthy by me, the Chief Judge.
2) Must be out of print music (or at least believed to be)
3) You can vote for your fave in the commentary box over the next two weeks if you so desire and I'll announce a winner.

Entries:

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Rifle Sport - "Unplanned 39" - (1985) a Minneapolis band previously featured in Vinyl Mine returns with the flipside of their "Plan 39" single. Featuring a guitar riff that sounds like it came from the Hong Kong Phooey show, J. Christopher's distinctively raspy vocals and their own "neverending chord" Beatles tribute at the end, this version of the a-side song (a remix?) upends the original into an entirely new kitty cat. It brings out the more Burma-ish aspects of the original but in an "unplanned" maybe(?) satirical way. I took the title from the label on the record but on the record sleeve this song is referred to as "Itself Sideways" - just in case it comes up in future editions of Trivial Pursuit Obscure 80's Punk Bands Edition. Love the guitar sound that "replacement" guitarist Joe White got out of here (bracing myself for some Zom Zom hate...) This single was released on Ruthless Records (without a catalog number).



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Drunks With Guns - "Leprosy" from Alter Human Industrial Fetishisms7" EP - If you're looking for the cure for a headache, don't call Myk Doskocil as his solution will be to drill into your skull until all pain is gone or you're dead. A sort of extreme anti-hardcore band that, ignoring their trailer park manager, went and dived into that filthy septic tank just for fun and then stayed there throughout the 90's. Like a lot of their songs, "Leprosy" starts out all conventional with chorus/verses and shit but then just latches onto the chorus and repeats until you clearly understand that skin disease is no fun to have. I was always afraid of leprosy as a kid (too many of those ungodly Bible movies) and always found myself looking around corners for guys dressed, a la Darkman, in cloaks and hoods holding out their festering contagious skin. The image of the leper is the outcast and that's surely an image DWG want to cultivate, whether its deserved or not. The band got alot of love from the fanzine world and St. Louis seemed to tolerate them enough as well. The record doesn't list anyone in the band except Doskocil but Grunnenrocks says there was a band here (including future Doskocil legal nemesis Seth Seirich). Read about the history of Drunks with Guns at St. Louis Punk.

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Poison Idea - "Laughing Boy" - from the Drinking Is Great 4-song compilation EP by Fatal Erection (1985). This was from the batch of songs that were considered for their first great record, Record Collectors Are Pretentious Assholes, and according to some website it was included on the German version of that EP. One of the greatest punk bands of the time, Poison Idea had a loyal local following and so rarely toured (I never saw them live) but eventually earned the grudging respect of those that had long left the hardcore punk scene behind. They had the spark that so many lacked - I still get the hairs standing up on my neck when I hear this song - it truly defines a point in time for me. The EP (put out on Pig Champion's label) this appeared on showed the vitality of the Portland scene that had sprung up at that time. What I scanned above is from the lyrics/liner notes insert. The back of it includes some Eugene/Portland gig posters of the time - most of which follow a similar sense of humor as the cover. Here's a scan of said cover of this EP for your enjoyment (click on it to enlarge):
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And here's a link to a scan of the second reissue.

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Sister Ray - "Invasion of the Pussy Music" from the flipside of the "Feel Like This" single (1988) - on the band's label (Box K). This Youngstown, Ohio garage rock band stubbornly refused to play along with the hardcore scene and for several years paid the price of both that choice and coming from a small town - finding it hard to book shows and sell records. Around the time that this record came out, though, Forced Exposure, then a fanzine put out by a bunch of flamboyant Bostonites, put out their 7" on their fledgling label conferring instant cool onto the heretofore obscurities. I suppose FE referenced them as a Stooges/MC5 aware band. My impression upon hearing this was that this was basically a hard rock garage band that didn't seem to have much more than Argent and Black Sabbath in their collections. They just happened to name themselves after the iconic 17 minute Velvet Underground song - maybe they saw it referenced in a Crawdaddy review of Procul Harum. In reality, I was wrong - singer-songwriter-guitarist Sam D'Angelo was pretty hip to the scene. Instead they tended more towards the hard rock and tongue-in-cheekism of their Cleveland heroes. This flipside song is an example of a pop-rock song -- with a bit more guitar whack and some more self-pity, it could have been a latter-years Husker Du piece or maybe late 90's Foo Fighters. But it is bookended by a faux-radio announcer and a self-depreceating coda (which explains the title of the song since the original song seems to be called "Is Love The Answer") that apologizes for writing a pop love song. I don't know why they felt the need to prostrate themselves, it's a great song by itself. Here's an interview done in the same time frame from Noise For Heroes if you are looking for more info on the band.


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The Funseekers - "If You Don't Love Me" from We Is The Funseekers 7" EP (1986) released on the band's Susstone label. Another band that often played with tongue in cheek, this retro mod group from Minneapolis tries to recapture the fun days of 60's UK invasion (more Zombies than Stones, though), whiteboy R&B (think Loving Spoonful) and, of course, Nuggets-style garage modpunk (I mean just look at the cover picture). Two guitars adorn each channel - one playing the evil pysche-pedal and the other plucking a harp-like riff leading one to think of the proverbial devil and angel who perch on the protaganist's shoulders as he contemplate some nasty act in revenge for his girlfriend's betrayal. He's absolutely seething with envy and anger and we know the outcome is not going to be a good one. Members from The Funseekers are now in The Autumn Leaves and The Conquerors.

Here's all five songs - I'll put my vote in the comments in a few days:

19 comments:

Daniel said...

Is there ANY question here? POISON FUCKING IDEA!!!!!

Jakob said...

Cool idea. I gotta get going on my exam preparation right now, but I'll listen + vote later...

ihatethebeatles said...

My vote goes for Poison Idea, but then again I am a bit biased, since I'm from Portland.
Jerry A still has a line up of the band going. They are even playing Jerry's Birthday next month.
Rumors are that Pig passed away a few years back, but then again I remember hearing the same rumors over 10 years ago, before he rejoined PI for a short string of reunion gigs.

Eric said...

Gotta be Poison Idea. This is my favorite PI song, and it smokes the rest of entries. Not only that, but it blows away the rest of the tracks on the Drinking Is Great comp also.

Anonymous said...

That DWG song is AMAZING - any chance of posting the rest of the 7" some time?!

dave said...

This is a cool idea.

Poison Idea, blasts the rest out o' the H2O.

Scott said...

Oh man, I haven't heard that Drunks With Guns song in a long time! The rest of the single would be fantastic.

Jakob said...

Wasn't a huge fan of any of the songs. Poison Idea's riff was cool, and the bassline was cooler, but the vocals kind of ruined it for me. So I'm voting for Sister Ray.

Jim H said...

I have to go on a business trip so I'll see about putting up some more DWG when I get back.

Paulo X said...

My vote goes to Sister Ray.

Michael said...

I vote for The Funseekers. It's good to see a couple of Minneapolis bands up for contention here!

goblin said...

Sister ray does it for me too

Anonymous said...

wow funseekers' vocalist sounds
extremely pissed...yeah hold im
down and i'll feed em his lithium
great guitar sounds too...f'seekers
get my vote.

Jakob said...

so when's the deadline on this? and when will jim be announcing his vote? does the winning band get any kind of special VJ attention?

theorist said...

My vote: Poison Idea.

Jim H said...

I think it's pretty unanimous for Poison Idea. Thanks for the responses. My vote would go with the one that didn't get any - Rifle Sport - give it a second chance.

Um, no prize but I can post some more from that Drinking Is Great comp if no one minds. I need a day or so to do the CD-R - and I'll get the rest off that Drunks with Gun single. Right now I'm pretty tired from my business trip and I'm going to see Malkmus tonight.

daWreck said...

Hey, I found your website while digitizing my Drunks with Guns 7"s. Would you want to trade sound files? I have the s/t, Drug Problem, the split with Panty Boy, and the 2x7" with Melissa.

Jim H said...

dawreck - can I call you da? Anyway, pretty much what I have posted is what I have digitized (see more recent post above) - I didn't bother with the other side from the 7"... I have the s/t somewheres & maybe drug problem... just haven't run across it yet.

Chardman said...

My favorite Poison Idea story was when a very drunk Jerry A threatened a friend of my with a beating for wearing a KGON T-shirt to one of their shows. (KGON was portland's butt-rock radio station), and me later having a very cool conversation about movies with Tom.