Friday, December 31, 2004
A 5-act mini-opera about sinnin' and dyin'...
"Taneytown" - Steve Earle - Referring page*
"Big Iron" - Steve Owens
"I'm Not Like Everybody Else" - The Chocolate Watchband - Referring page*
"Sinnerman" - Nina Simone - Referring page*
"Dream" - Damn Dirty Apes
*All songs notated with an asterix are of questionable legality.
Thursday, December 30, 2004
Food for Thought LP
R&B Records, 1985
If you tried to draw a straight line from predeccesor band Iron Cross to Gray Matter's second record, the emo classic Take it Back, you'd be hard pressed to find this album on that line. If I had heard this without knowing their priors -- Guitarist Mark Haggerty and drummer Dante Ferrando played in Cross, suburban DC contemporaries of Minor Threat and Void -- I'd have signed them up to Bomp! instead of Dischord.* With the exception of the more forgettable tunes "Oscar's Eye" and "Gray Matter", these songs recall '60s-'70's garage punk over the more trad. Dischord straight-edge of that period, that, say Dag Nasty were fronting at the time. I mean, snotty vocals from a "Dischord band"? Voxx-style reverb guitar? Beatles covers??? Perhaps that's why the opening song is called "RETROspect"?
But it kinda makes sense in a way. The intersection of Bomp! and Dischord is teenage alienation and disillusionment and these songs are full of it. But unlike a lot of the suburban NoVa (Northern Virginia) punk music of the time there's a rare sense of humor and some cultural references minus the usual straight-edge snobbiness and prudery. They cover "I Am the Walrus" without their tongues in their cheeks (at least its not noticable). "Phobias" deal with, among other things, the fear of Roger Moore - so that's kinda funny and cultural, right, I mean he was James Bond at the time - can't hear the rest of the lyrics (no lyrics sheet, arrgggh!), are they saying their afraid of discourse and grass? And "Caffeine Blues" deals with the whole straight-edge gateway drug pretty nicely - I got a kick out of hearing the old Coffee Generation commercial (with ELO playing "Hold Onto Your Dreams") playing at the beginning, donchu?
There are three exceptional garage punk songs here that still hold up - "Flash in Time", "Give Me A Clue" and "Retrospect." I'm less enamored with "Fill a Void." The recording itself is kinda disappointing (remembering my previous problems with the Ignition EP), at least in comparison with Take it Back. I'm wondering if they did a remix for the CD release. Another piece of evidence that the Ian and Don Z team improved by leaps and bounds through the Winter of 84-85. Oh, I also think the cover is pretty crappy but in a high school kinda way its oddly appropriate.
I've only heard one song from the band's early 90's reunion album, Thog, and it was a cover of Lennon/McCartney's "I've Just Seen a Face" and, besides the fact that its probably their first and only song about girls, it sounded like they had successfully integrated the g-punk of Food with the emo of Take it Back.
"Give Me A Clue"
"I Am The Walrus"
Fine Print: Songs are all from the Food for Thought LP (although its kind of a mini-LP), recorded from vinyl and digitized accordingly. These songs are not out of print and retain all the original copyright bullshit intact. They are made available for a short period of time (~two weeks) to faccilitate discussion and research and Fair Use ... but if the artists or one of the copyright holders objects, they will be removed promptly.
*To be accurate, this was not originally a Dischord release, although it was later packaged with their follow-up EP into a single CD available from the Dischord website.
Gray Matter Dischord home page
Southern.com does "bio & begats" for this band
- Flex provides a take that suggests they didn't listen to the record: "Wonderful melodic DC style hardcore, a classic."
- Skaters review the CD at Amazon.com: "This cd is one of the sickest cds ive ever heard. If you skate and you need some music to get you amped listen to Gray Matter. Trust me."
- Steve Niles is now a horror comix writer - one of his stories is being produced into a movie by Sam Raimi. He names his characters after his old bandmates. An interview about his Gray Matter days is up at his website (although it oddly credits Jeff Nelson as being in Gray Matter - he was in Three with Haggerty, Turner and Jeff Nelson, ex-Minor Threat).
- Dante Ferrando runs two of my favorite DC spaces: Black Cat and... Food for Thought where he fights calls from straight-edgers to ban drinking and smoking.
- Jeff Turner (vox, guitar) is aka Geoff Turner. According to Niles' interview he lives in LA, and plays in sleaze-skronk dance band New Wet Kojak - their website is either here or here or both. The latter has a link to two MP3s that would be perfect for a gallery opening as hosted by Dieter of Sprockets. He also ran the WGNS Studios Cassette label (now defunct) and recorded (and played on) some of Dave Grohl's solo songs while he was in Nirvana.
- Mark Haggerty, according to the Steve Niles interview, lives in San Fran and plays in a band called Shanty - I couldn't find any reference to them anywhere. Anyone got info?
Jimmy Aquino writes in SF Bay Area's Metroactive: COMMERCIAL RADIO DJs can't be trusted anymore—ever since they let themselves become the palm-greasing promoter's bitch. So in 2004, the music geek nation turned its lonely eyes to the MP3 bloggers—those self-important desktop DJs who push music snobbery to its geekiest by putting streaming MP3s on their site. As a result, '04 was the year I bought more singles than albums. I love how iTunes gives you the option of buying individual songs rather than the whole kit and caboodle. Good lookin' out, iTunes!
Louder Than Hell
To shake myself out of that certain Christmas sentimentality, I pulled this tape out of the pile.
So to perhaps get you over that Christmas sugar-ridden malaise, here's a dose of political incorrectness from the late Sam Kinison, the most hated and loved comedian of our time.
No topic - Jesus, World Hunger and the Tate-Bianca murders - was beyond Kinison's acid anquish. Although Side 1 is way too personal (and hateful) to be funny, Side 2 is a keeper.
"I'm glad you fuckers can handle your high"...
"Manson" - Sam Kinison
Tuesday, December 28, 2004
Furniture hail out of the burgeoning English speaking Malay-Chinese indie scene. They were formerly known as R.U.S.H. Their music tends towards longish explorations of the intersection of noise and pop. But they'd be right at home opening for bands like TV on the Radio and Deathcab for Cutie.
"I am Ying" - Furniture - meanwhile, in another universe, Postal Service and Can meets Dave Ball of Soft Cell in a huge abandonded warehouse and quietly jam into the midnight hours
"Please" - Furniture - remembers Galaxie 500 as a much louder band with a hornier synth and bells
("legal" downloads - the website streams these songs, I'm merely providing the source MP3)
Band website has links to other bands that are worth exploring. Here's their apparent label.
Relative to others, Malaysia did not suffer much (so far 60 reported dead) in the Christmas Tsunami but if you want to help out the affected countries or just get links to information about it, see SE Asia Earthquake and Tsunami blogspot.
Thursday, December 23, 2004
Here's hoping you're all snuggled up with your favorite people, animals and iPod and that the fire is roaring and life is good for you in this and the coming year.
"Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming" - Kathleen Battle (160 kbps, 4 Mb)
- Historical notes on hymm
- I do get a bit schmalzty and pseudo-religious around this time of the year but only this week, so forgive me
- Mitigating coolness factor: Kathleen Battle is featured on the soundtrack to "House of Flying Daggers" (iTunes link) where she sings "Lovers (Title Song)" - made me stay in my seat during the credits.
- Rose photo courtesy SeanHfoto on Flickr.com
- I am 43 years on this planet as of 1:10 AM this morning - loo for updates in a couple days.
Wednesday, December 22, 2004
I don't know if anyone noticed but Corndogs.org, a minutemen live music archive (among other things), recently updated and is now offering the entire georgeless EP released by Forced Exposure about 10 years ago. It's from a 1980 recording and in MP3 and FLAC formats.
1. On the Front MP3 FLAC
2. Big Man Business MP3 FLAC
3. CCCP MP3 FLAC
4. Studio of the Lawns MP3 FLAC
5. Joe McCarthy's Ghost MP3 FLAC
Liner notes included:
THE STORY OF THE FIRST MINUTEMEN DRUMMER: the reactionaries formed in dec. '78 with d.boon on guitar, mike watt on bass, george hurley on drums, and martin tamburovich on singing. they broke up in jun. 79. d.boon and mike watt started the minutemen themselves in jan. '80. george hurley had already joined new wave band hey taxi! so they asked welder and fellow homeboy frank tonche (TAWN-CHEE, just out of the polish eagle polka band) to play drums. in apr. - may '80 the minutemen played their first two gigs. greg ginn saw them and asked them to record for sst records. frank tonche became afraid of punk rock after the second gig and quit the band. and with only one month to go before recording. luckily, george hurley quit hey taxi! and rejoined boon & watt. the "paranoid time "ep (sst 002) was recorded july 20, 1980.
the songs on this record (except for "joe mccarthy's ghost") have never been released in any version until now. george hurley never learned them so only these frank tonche versions exist.
-- liner notes from the 7"
Photo from a 1984 show by Murray Bowles
Tav Falco's Panther Burns
Blow Your Top (4 song EP)
rough trade (1982)
If any old time TV character was in need of "A Very Special Episode", it was probably ol' Pa Cartwright, the rageaholic patriarch of the popular TV Western Bonanza who would Blow His Top at the drop of a cowboy hat. He never could take Lil' Joe or Hoss's word on anything and try as they might, they couldn't do the right thing without breaking a few rules. But Adam, the first son, was a pure suck-up, always pointing out when Joe or Hoss broke the rules and thereby further enraging his tightly coiled father. Despite this, Enabler Adam was kind of okay - after all, he dressed the best and would always show up in the end with a well-aimed shot at whatever varmit was trying to do bad. He always seemed to be silently snickering when Pa went hog wild.
Lorne Greene became more touchy-feely in later years by appearing in dogfood commercials and Wild Kingdom. I always watched the dogfood commercials thinking that there were probably a couple dozen outtakes with Greene strangling the dog, spitting out the caterer's coffee and kicking the director's ass around the set. The rumor that an alligator had bitten off one of Greene's nipples during a Wild Kingdom filming only makes us wonder if something like this happened. Unlike the Bingster or Joan Crawford (or Michael Landon!), no child has stepped up to characterize Greene as anything but a kindly old man prone to writing poetry and displaying a deep love for animals. But come to think of it, Lorne's other big character was the patriarch of the roving tribe of Battlestar Gallactica, another character who would occasionally go into irrational rages. Despite attempts to portray him as contrary, he just seemed like a bitter old fuck no matter how you cast him.
But back to the Ponderosa sons. I know its a stretch but Tav is kind of like Adam here, mostly pure suck-up to the original chord progressions and rules of Memphis Sun Studio rock and roll. Here he covers four semi-obscure rockabilly songs. There's nothing wrong with them - perhaps the recording could have been cleaner - but its a bit traditional for my taste. Why not just track down the original tracks is what I'm saying? Not to say, there's not a little contemporary sound embedded in the songs (listen to the guitar in beginning of "I'm on This Rocket", the background vox in "Bertha Lou" or Falco's scat-vox in the middle of "Pantherman"). But it's like Adam wearing black and looking hip as compared to Lil' Joe's rube hat or Hoss's baggy brown pants. He still a bit of a jerk and Joe and Hoss are the guys you wanna hang out with (well, maybe just Hoss).
While the comparisons others have made with The Cramps may make sense with Falco's other releases in this period, this EP has more in common with the Texas Playboys than Lux and Ivy. It's more swing than psycho, more Sun studios than Swampabilly crunch. Considering Falco was the toast of the No Wave scene, it's either endearing to think that he didn't bother to incorporate any of their influences or just frustrating that we had to wait for another record or for Jon Spencer to do so. At any rate, Tav Falco is what he is and just like Adam you can't really make the dog do a new trick if he doesn't want to.
And if Tav is Adam, then surely his pal
Finally, we have to give Falco props for also making R. L. Burnside into the known entity he is today, plucking him from obscurity and a probable early anonymous death by making a film about him in the '70s. You would hate me if I extended my loathsome Bonanza metaphor and labeled Burnside as our Hoss but there is some of Dan Blocker's sadness in Burnside's voice (or vice versa), though I would hardly call him the comic relief of music.
At any rate, Chilton and Burnside have successfully synthesized the Memphis sound into something uniquely their own, something different and exciting and Falco, at least at the time this was released, was still only an Adam, looking good in black, precise in his shooting but still a relative musical straight arrow, pretty much following through on the book written by Elvis, Jerry Lee and Carl so long ago.
Adam Cartwright tries to impresses Pa with his rock and roll expertise in:
"I'm On This Rocket" (160 kbps, 3.1 Mb)
"Pantherman" (160 kbps, 3.1 Mb)
"Love Is My Business" (160 kbps, 2.6 Mb)
"Bertha Lou" (160 kbps, 3 Mb)
"Oogum Boogum" - Alex Chilton. Imagine Michael Landon doing the Teen Beat thing in the '60s releasing a single and then singing it on the Andy Williams show, black shirt open to the naval, Ray-bans and, of course, cowboy hat, boots and buckle.
Note this is a legal download but bypasses the silly Epitonic Black Box nonsense. If you insist on going through Epitonic, here's the referring page.
"Bad Luck City" - R. L. Burnside reimagined as Hoss coming back from a bad time at the gambling table.
Again this is legal but bypasses all the Amazon.com nonsense you have to go through to download it. Amazon's MP3 download page (search on "burnside").
"Hardtime Killing Floor" - R.L. Burnside (also courtesy Amazon.com). Imagine if Pa, Adam and Joe were massacred by the Virginia City folks (whom I always thought were portrayed as rotten city-dwelling parasites). Well, Hoss might have sung this while he drank a barrel of whisky.
- Trouser Press Panther Burns page
- A Tav Falco fan page of note
- Vinyl Mine hero and NextBigThing's Pa, Lindsay Hutton, explains the origin of Panther Burns' name and reviews their first EP here way back in 1981
- Tav reportedly lives in Paris and is rumored to be a dance instructor. His own label (Frenzi) is supposedly still releasing his records. Here's another fan page that has news about it on their discography page.
- Blow Your Top was combined with the Panther Burns' first album Behind the Magnolia Curtain and re-released as a CD by Triple X Records in 1994. It is currently out of print and searches on Froogle and Amazon have been fruitless - checked e-Bay as well and no joy. That said, his collaboration with Alex Chilton, World We Knew was a masterpiece creating a whole new sound for Falco. It can be found at Gemm on vinyl and begs for a CD re-release.
- Bob Willis and The Texas Playboys home page.
- Where are they now:
- Jim Duckworth played guitar with Panther Burns. He was another Alex Chilton pal and no doubt was introduced to Tav. He went on to play in the Gun Club
- Drummer Jim Sclavunos stuck with the formula of playing with a frontman and is now drummer for Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds
- I've been unable to track down anything recent from Ron Miller who played Bass fiddle on this record.
And finally, in loving memory of Lorne, Michael and Dan:
(img courtesy bonanzaworld.net)
- So does all this make Hasil Adkins Hop Sing, the offensive rockabilly stereotype? Answer: No but it does call into question The Stray Cats.
- Jason from Mystery and Misery has Vinyl Mine in some good company in his Top 10 Music Blogs of 2004. Jason's blog links to free and legal cuts with the awesomeist of discretion because he actually listens to the cuts beforehand! He's also one of my early supporters - giving me advice and encouragement earlier this year. I can't say how many times I've stopped cold in the street and pulled out my iPod to figure out what was playing only to discover its a song I downloaded via M&M.
- Bonus Mp3!
Monday, December 20, 2004
I read some newspaper article recently that purported to tell people how to publish the most successful blogs. One of the rules is your postings must be easily read within 15 seconds and the other is to post three times a day. I just found that funny since its not exactly the rules I adhere to (then again, I'm not claiming to be "successful").
Courtesy of Bradley's Alamac is the Arcade Fire live show at TT Bears and a wonderfully detailed review (Bradley's obviously not adhering to the 15 second rule either..) with links to songs from the show - "Neighborhood #3/Rebellion" is my choice for best cut because it seems to weld together the Shins with U2 and the Talking Heads) - not the best sound quality but you can certainly get the point about Bradley's enthuasiastic review of the show and the crowd reaction.
Above picture is from the CD - if you actually bought the package - its the lyric sheet in the form of a program that you might receive at a funeral. Unlikely, that this band will be dying anytime soon, though.
UPDATE: Come to think of it, the unifying theme of this post is that Arcade Fire also likes to break rules - changin tempos and melodies on a dime, referencing "uncool" bands.
Sunday, December 19, 2004
Alien Boy 12" EP
So, if I was one of those anonymous MacArthur Fellows award (the so-called "genius" awards) nominators, I'd be pretty fucking embarrassed at their 20-some year track record when it comes to music. As it is, almost all the awards have gone to avant gardist, classical musicians and composers and jazzmen. And while I don't dispute the selections - I'm too dumb or izzit middlebrow to know enough about the avant gardists and academics and I agree that Ornette and Max Roach are pretty fucking genius - I do think they are overlooking some "potential" (which is the operative word for the awards) by not scrounging around a bit on the fringes. Maybe they need to assign one of us ordinary bloggers to bring in some nominations? I can just see Fluxblog nominating Mousse T. But if they acksed me, um, right off the top of my head, I'd say there were two living people who could use that no-strings-attached $500k and probably do something quite worthy for, y'know, society, with it. The first being Mark E. "Fucking Rowche Rumble" Smith and the second being the subject of this post, the guy that Kurt Cobain called a "romantic, quiet visionary" and that be Greg "Fucking Deemension Seven" Sage.
Lord knows Greg has been around long enough. Following in the flukeish and odd tradition of other contemporary rock guitarists (Bob Mould, Rifle Sport's Boissey) there's first that professional wrestling connection. One of Sage's first recordings was with the outlandish PacNorthwest wrestler known as Beauregarde. Greg was a 17-year-old and the wrestler, at the height of his popularity, wanted to take some of his money and put out a record. Told that Greg plays like fellow NorWester Jimi Hendrix, Beauregarde snapped him up in what has been described as a muscular 70s rawkout. Sage has somehow gotten his hands on the record and remastered it if you want to own this chunk of history. At this point, my anonymous MacArthur nominator is probably shuddering at the mere mention of professional wrestling. I know, I know, I'm not a big fan of seeing grown men in tights throw each other around a stage but bear with me as I'm getting to the whole potential genius thing.
So... interesting fact: Sage grew up with a record lathe in his room that was picked up for a song when a radio station divested itself of it. He used to cut records for his friends and became obsessed with the grooves, putting them under microscopes and learning all he could about the transfer of music to medium. It became a lifelong obsession - trying to duplicate the sound that he heard in his ears to a medium that could preserve it. He likens records to statues and wants to create something that will stand for a long time. Not surprisingly, he eschews live shows - probably because he can't control the sound and the results are ephemeral. So, back to the short history lesson - after playing around, Sage forms the Wipers who as it turned out were pretty much excavating the same terrain as Gizmos and Ramones. In fact, Sage said he had to laugh when he went to a Ramones show in the late '70s since he felt they were pretty much doing the same time of stuff. However, unlike the Ramones, he didn't see music as an excuse to play three chords and then go home and watch TV. He instead continues to explore his idee fixe with sound and decided against the tide that the old style was the better sound even if the equipment was more fragile and heavier to lug around (quoting from TapeOP):
People would laugh when I talked about vacuum tubes because solid state was the only thing out there. Even professionals, other studios, and engineers would just laugh and call me prehistoric. Because I saw value in vacuum tubes. I just started learning all that I could about it, it was kind of a lost art form during the 70s. Tubes were basically cast out. Even the old equipment that would be revered these days, people would laugh at.In 1980 or so, the Wipers released their first album, Is This Real, and the answer was a slap-on-the-table YES. The sound being so immediate that its rare even today to hear someone who has come close. His uniquely sounding guitar with its controlled feedback and fuzz echo and the meticulous mic'ing of the drums are what you first notice. For a first self-produced record, very few of the common recording mistakes are made. It makes it more amazing to learn that it was recorded on a 4-track. I might quibble with some of his new wave-ish vocal styling but this has certainly improved over the years. Anyway, "Alien Boy" was a standout cut from Is This Real and released as part of a 4-song EP and then some German company came along and re-released it as a 12" with a different cover (I've put the original cover art into the MP3s, though). The three fairly short songs ("Image of Man", "Telepathic Love" and "Voices in the Rain") on the B-side didn't appear on Is This Real and were recorded at a different "studio" from "Alien Boy". Was this a "real" studio or some other version of Sage's 4-track set-up? I dunno. There is a slightly different, more paranoid feeling with these songs I guess. SubPop later re-released Is This Real as a CD and stuck these three songs on it. And then Greg Sage put out a box set of his first three record for a shockingly low $17 (available on his website, link below - great Christmas gift for your indie pals).
Geniuses can be cited as starting whole new schools of thought or study. In Greg's case, we can go no further than Kurt Cobain who wrote that the Wipers "started Seattle grunge rock in Portland, 1977" and his band Nirvana covered two Wipers songs to boot. His wife, Ms. Love never to be one not to follow a trend, also covered a Wipers song with Hole. Every time I hear Foo Fighters I can't help but think that they've somehow channeled the Wipers into a pop-friendly construct. Sage has also recorded Soundgarden and The Melvins. But it doesn't stop there. Sage's minimalist techniques in the studio so inspired Beat Happening that they asked him to produce their record. And while I'm not a big fan of this record (as previously explained), I can't quibble with the singular and cozy sound. I don't back down from my argument that this record started the modern Lo-Fi movement so we can credit Sage with a hand in that as well. So that's two major genres that Sage has helped mid-wife. And while I wouldn't go so far as to say that he fathered the great Northwest Hardcore movement, he produced songs from Poison Idea (who play on his tribute record) and the pre-Steve Fisk Pell Mell. So that's three genres that have been greatly influenced by our man. Hmmmm... seem to remember that whole father of a genre being the argument for Max Roach and Ornette Coleman - their roles in be-bop, cool jazz and the like. And although I mention his obsession above with sound above, did I mention that he fucking well did something about it? I mean I haven't even begun to mention that Sage builds his own pre-amps, has designed a unique (all wood) studio in Arizona to get the sound he wants and has pretty much been a leading innovator in his field even if the snooty major studios won't acknowledge it (TapeOp interview covers this well).
Finally, we forgive geniuses for their somewhat weird theories. We understand that often these odd beliefs keep them going towards their unique vision and breakthroughs so even if we have to look away, it's worth humoring them. I'm thinking of folks like Tesla and Issac Newton. Interviews with Greg and his lyrics suggest that he has some strange beliefs. In the Smokebox interview (undated but probably 2000), for example, Sage says:
This isn't a new idea for Sage - "Telepathic Love" seems to echo this notion if ya listen up to the lyrics. His approach to finding inspirations for songs is also, shall we say, somewhat unique as well:
I also think, well, its a crazy theory of mine, but that everybody is subconsciously clairvoyant, and that maybe since your subconscious has no communication with your conscious, that maybe people foresee the future being so different that they remove themselves from it, consciously, but without being aware of it.
As with every Wipers LP I would spend many months observing people and their situations to get ideas of what was in their mind and their motivations. This was always where the inspiration would come from for our songs. I would get a glimpse of the future by doing this and it was easy to write songs that would make sense 10 years from then. (from In Music We Trust, Sept 2004):So if you're ever in Arizona and some cadaverous gray-haired vaguely punkish guy in a bandana starts following you around, just ignore 'im and check out his next album because you might be in it. This notion of "telepathy" is a common theme in his songs -- "Telepathic Love" of course being one literal example. Come to think of it, aliens are also a common theme in Sage songs although usually to describe differentness from the conformists. But who knows, he may also believe in UFOs.
So if you are one of those mysterious MacArthur folks, fucking ay get to it and go visit Zeno studios in Arizona. Who knows you might end up being responsible for the next piece of cool recording gear getting invented or a whole new Phoenix-based musical genre being founded. Next October I wanna open up my newspaper and see you're cutting the check for him (and Mark E. Smith for fucks sake).
"Alien Boy" - Wipers (192 kbps, 4.7 Mb, digitally enhanced to remove surface noise)
"Voices in the Rain" - Wipers (218 kbps VBR, 2.2 Mb, straight from EP)
"Telepathic Love" - Wipers (217 kbps VBR, 2.4 Mb, recorded with no digital enhancements)
Cuts are provided under Fair Use provisions. I do not make or intend to make a penny off this website. They are recorded from vinyl with all its so-called imperfections. All cuts are removed after two weeks or at the request of the copyright holder.
Personal story - I first discovered Greg Sage as a cut on the Enigma Variations I compilation in the mid-80s (vastly superior to II and a great collection even if the label owners turned out to the the biggest asshats of that era) so I'm a poser when it comes to being able to say I was there from the start you know rockin' in my flannel shirt - hell, I've almost never been to Portland (there was that drunken episode people tell me occurred during the '99 Rose festival but I don't wanna talk about it). In my defense, after hearing just this one song - an acoustic piece to boot - I went out and bought as much Wipers I could find including this EP.
Favorite Wipers LP: Over the Edge.
Favorite cut: "D-7" although I still like "Straight Ahead" in the quieter moments.
Credits: The photo above is from the back cover of the German reissue I have. I should also mention that we had Dave Koupal on bass and Sam Henry playing drums. Originally release on Park Ave., 1980 - Reissued by Weird Systems 1987.
Condition of my record: The album cover is torn at the top (thanks to my cat) but vinyl is in fairly good condition.
- The Wipers official web site is annoyingly designed but is worth browsing
- Zeno Record Store (it is set up so you enter it by declaring whether you are using credit card, paypal or check/money order so a direct link to the box set CD is hard)
- Smokebox interview with Sage (talks about his last interaction with Cobain)
- TapeOp interview
- In Music We Trust Interview
- Phoenix New Times Article and Interview (appears to be based on the Smokebox interview; recounts how Tim/Kerr records screwed him over)
- Cobain on Greg Sage via Nirvana Club:
"THE Wipers were a Portland punk band who were started in the late Seventies by Greg Sage and released maybe four or five albums. The first were totally classic, and influenced The Melvins and all the other punk rock bands. They're another band I tried to assimilate. Their songs were so good.
"Greg Sage was pretty much the romantic, quiet, visionary kind of guy. What more can I say about them? They started Seattle grunge rock in Portland, 1977."
- The MacArthur Fellows (scroll down for the Music fellows) and Overview of the program
- Trouser Press Wipers Article
- Blogcritics review of Is This Real
- Sam Henry who was the first Wipers drummer now plays with Johnny Trudell (the son of John "Blind Man's Penis" Trudell?) for Morgan Grace, a kind of Betty Page goth. Website here.
- On the overuse of the word "genius"
- Beauregarde's Wrestling Career
- Eric of Something I Learned reviews Sage's 10/29/79 Portland Punk live compilation and still has some cuts up
- "Telepathic Love" was covered by Nation of Ulysses in Cobain's tribute project. <>The cover art of the German (Weird System) reissue of the Alien Boy EP was by Steve Doughton who later made a movie with The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black's Kembra Pfahler, another indie rocker with a pro-wrestling connection. Here's a clip from Dougton's cover:
Instead of talking strictly music, I am covering music in movies and provide temporary links to clips I have created in Quicktime (MPEG1) format.
My first post in this new format is up here.
Has anyone else tried this? It was fun picking out the clips. Let me know what you think or if you know of any other similar blogs and I'll link them.
Saturday, December 18, 2004
If you don't regularly check out Little Steven's Underground Garage radio show, you're missing out not only on some of the greatest old and new garage-punk-classic-indie rock in the world but some entertaining monologues from Little Steven. I put it on and do my household chores. Here's the playlist from the most recent show. Dig his spoken word birthday tribute to Old Blue Eyes in the beginning.
This Coffee and Cigarettes set is inspired by the Dec 12th show. If you've seen this before, I always try to throw one or two songs that doesn't entirely fit but sorta do anyway. I think you'll be able to quickly figure it out just by looking at the set.
Of the bands Steven played, I'm most interested in hearing more Tegan & Sara but maybe that's just the latent wimp in me - they seem to straddle the boundaries from garage rock into, well I'm not sure what, Cat Power-land? Guided By Voices? - they have a number of MP3s available for download - my only regrets are this is at 55 kbps - but it still sounds pretty good.
UPDATE: On second thought, I'm digging Highschool Sweethearts even more than T&S.
("Legal" unless otherwise noted)
"Chicks Dig" - Highschool Sweethearts** (Myspace site)
"Walking With A Ghost"* - Tegan & Sara**
"I Don't Believe" - Reigning Sound**
"The Last Time"* - Grateful Dead (3/9/93 - Stones cover - legal? - archive)
"Why Don't We Talk About Something Else"* - Outrageous Cherry**
"Our Sensation" - Link
* Songs actually played on the show
** Bands played on the show
Wednesday, December 15, 2004
I'll be adding more to my blogroll - right now I have all the folks I know about that have linked to me. If you roll your cursor over the links you can see some little descriptions I thought up of each of the links.
I'm going to add the "best of the rest" next and bring back my local links as well for all you DC-Baltimore folks.
The template was adapted from Martijn ten Napel - I wanted it to be a bit different from the blogger.com set of templates and I love the colors. He's got some more there. I also used Chami.com to improve some of my html skillz.
Once this is done, I'll get back to some groovin' music including some Wipers, Gray Matter, Panther Burns and R.L. Burnside. I've been listening to it all night.
Sunday, December 12, 2004
Ring Out Solstice Bells 7" EP
Chrysalis Records, 1976
From reading today's Post article on all the Christmas releases, it appears that 2004 will see yet another crop of crappy Christmas records. Crappy Christmas records come in a number of varieties -- first there's just the comatose-inducing new-age stuff like Trans-Siberian Orchestra or Manheim Steamroller. I remember my old man getting into the latter only because Rush Limbaugh played it incessantly every Season. If only he knew the screwball pothead hippies behind the music, he'd literally have a cow on the front seat of his car. I mean really - there would be a big fucking moo-dog sitting in the front seat serving egg-nog. But I'm not going to tell him.
Then there's the "flavor of the moment" just milking their soon-to-be-forgotten-but-now-overly-exposed status - this year has a slew of 'em, that stupid Jessica something girl, that Clay Asshat - there's even a record just of Reality TV losers singing stupid songs in that lame American Idol style that everyone hates. What's next - a crooning Donald Trump in a Santa cap? (quick, copyright that idea).
Then there are the re-releases. The Post sort of stupidly notes that Sammy Davis Jr. never had a Christmas album like we missed something. Hello? He was Jewish - give the guy a break. Dean Martin, for all his great attitude (a bonhomie fuck-you-all persona just right for the holidays) put out a lot of schmaltz in his day and Christmas was no different -- so do we really need to re-release his Christmas crap again? Will we have to rediscover Perry Como or Andy Williams next year? And Frank Sinatra had a load of crapola released during Christmas, the greedy fuck, can't we just remember him for his great music?
Finally, the lamest ones are those hippy secular rock stars who, while they would never get near a church on Christmas eve or any other day, are more than happy to do their own cashing in on the season. This year we have James Taylor (James Taylor!?!) offering what the Post calls a pretty awful set of limpdick ostensibly Christmas songs for whatever remains of the over-50 ex-hippies who still buy into his crap. Can anyone imagine Diana Krall snuggling up to Elvis Costello as Christmas carolers regale them in whatever mansion they live in? There's also a slew of indie-rock collections out, wherein we get ironic twists on old favorites and some lame attempts at new songs - y'know for the royalties. Should the Flaming Lips really be spending their time on ironic Christmas carols? Shouldn't they be chained to their instruments and bongs thinking up the big follow-up to Yoshimi rather than snarfing down egg nog and playing with jingle bells? And while I'm on the subject, does anyone really want a Big Bad Voodoo Daddy Christmas record? Where and when exactly are we supposed to play this - during the Christmas swing dancing ritual?
Well, as it is in 2004, so it was in 1976. Who needs Christmas when you can sing about solstice? And why not pad the single with three other songs -- two of which have nothing to do with Christmas ("March, the Mad Scientist" and "Pan Dance" ) and the other imaginatively entitled "Christmas Song." The latter is no Christmas song, though, its actually a scalding rebuke to anyone who would have the temerity to celebrate Christmas "when your own mother is starving." My Mom just calls that a diet, but whatever. In response, I propose the "Jethro Tull Contract Rider Song"
How can you serve me chicken on Wednesday?Sooo... I don't really know how this record came into my possession. I did have a roommate who had all the Jethro Tull albums, even the very lousiest of them so I think this might have gotten into my collection somehow. I think he went off with my Reptile House single -- talk about a lopsided trade. I still bring up this loss with my therapist.
My contract rider said I specifically wanted pork
I don't see the Evian, you'll hear from my lawyer
A contract rider is not something to spurn
For awhile, the title song, "Ring Out, Solstice Bells" would get played on all the Classic Rock stations during the holidays. For all I know, they still play it. It was lame then and it is lame now. First let's get the major problems with Jethro Tull out of the way. The nasally voice, the over-production, the pseudo-fey "middle ages" instrumentation - it's all here. We even get some snooty liner notes that inform us that the Winter Solstice was originally a pagan festival and that "perhaps there are those today who acknowledge the origin of the Christmas Festival!" Well, gosh I didn't know that, let's go sacrifice some children!
But it's the lyrics that are the most fun to mock. First comment is on the chorus and title -- what Solstice Bells? Pagans didn't know how to make bells. They generally walked around in circles in the moonlight hitting skulls, I think.
Now is the solstice of the year,And is winter REALLY the glad song that YOU hear? I dunno about you but when I hear "winter" it ain't a glad song, it's generally a slushy, bitingly cold, depressingly dark song. And come to think of it, isn't summer also a "solstice of the year". Where's the Summer Solstice song, Ian? Or would that not sell?
winter is the glad song that you hear.
Seven maids move in seven time.
Have the lads up ready in a line
Now as for these "seven maids" - Ian, haven't we moved beyond patriarchal constructs? Weren't the pagan societies of old matriarcha (snicker)l? Should not this line be updated to:
Seven strapping Chippendales move in seven timeMoving on.
Have the maids line up with dollar bills
Join together beneath the mistletoe.Holy Oak, Batman! That's a big... mistletoe you have there. And let's pause and reflect on that great Christmas image Jethro Tull paints for us -- seven middle aged Druid priests in hoodies dancing around and "loudly chiming." What? no blood dripping off their blades? Wait, come to think of it, I remember a few Christmases like that in the Baltimore Marble Bar.
by the holy oak whereon it grows.
Seven druids dance in seven time.
Sing the song the bells call, loudly chiming.
Cor, as my English friends say,... I've had about enough - I'm starting to feel like Lileks when confronted with bad window dressings. Download it if you dare - snarky comments are welcome.
My Christmas music needs are simple and my solution even more so. It includes great memories of singing snowmen with guitars, flying reindeer with red noses and kindly gents with white beards. So this Christmas - grab a hot toddy, crank up the fireplace DVD and spend some time with the Zen Master of The Holidays. Wait, I meant this guy.
"Ring Out, Solstice Bells" - Jethro Tull
- 2004 Christmas Releases - Washington Post (bugmenot login: email@example.com/sadday)
- The Jethro Tull Contract Rider via The Smoking Gun
- More Cowbell has an indie Christmas Bittorrent mix here (make a New Year's resolution to learn how to use and set-up BT if you haven't already -- I suspect I may transition to that in the coming year)
- No, I am not in therapy over my lost Reptile House single but if anyone has it in MP3 format, please drop me a line.
Saturday, December 11, 2004
Dave Brubeck Quartet
25th Anniversary Reunion
A&M Records, 1976
So, you may ask who is Dave Brubeck and why is he in my record collection? I suppose the answer has to go with being a drummer. Y'see, after awhile, you get kind of tired playing the straight 4 beats and you yearn for some challenges. My teacher at the time sensed my restlessness and played "Take Five" for me --- hearing its cymbal beat - da-da-dada da-dada, I was hooked. It took me hours and hours of practice just to get my hands around the concept of 5/4.
*soapbox mode on* As an aside, I remember years later learning how to program and having the same frustrations trying to understand such concepts as structures and pointers -- I recalled my drum training, and 5/4 jazz, burrowed my head down in my programming and had a very similar breakthrough. Parents, never let them take the music instruction and arts program away from the schools - it really does matter later in life even if your kid isn't talented enough to become an artist or musician. *off soapbox*
I zoomed through Brubeck's collection, aping Morello, my new hero, at every turn - I taped most of his songs from the local library and having similar euphonious merriment in oddly-metered time. Some other favorites - "Blue Rondo Ala Turk" was in 9/8 but alternated its grouping from 1-2-3-4 1-2-3 to 1-2-3 1-2-3 1-2-3. "Three to Get Ready and Four to Go" featured here was a waltz that switched into a jazz 4/4. Oh there were plenty more but those three were my on little cassette enxt to my set for the next year or so.
"Take Five" was released in 1959 and propelled Brubeck to national recognition. He appeared on the cover of Time magazine and got a whole lot of attention to the cool jazz movement. Everyone was becoming a hipster and this was on all the cool stereoes. Alot of jazzers disdained what he was doing - either they hated modern jazz or they were modern jazzers who thought Brubeck too commercial and were jealous that he had made such a success with off-beat songs. Ironic, that the song "Take Five" was actually written by Paul Desmond his sax player, though, huh? I wondered if this engendered any bad feelings -- from all accounts Desmond was good-natured about it. And I guess it WAS the Dave Brubeck Quartet and his piano playing on that cut after all.
In 1976, his quartet got back together for a series of shows across the US - this album captured pieces from two of those shows in the Midwest - I bought it as soon as it was released in 1977 hoping to find some new secrets. Joe Morello, Brubeck's drummer, was at this point legally blind but his drumming was tighter and much more intricate than in the 50s. Eugene Wright, his African American bassist (an anomaly for 1959) and Paul Desmond had mellowed somewhat but they bring a relaxed seasoned style and tons of humor (so does Morello for that matter).
You can hear that playful nature in "Three to Get Ready" (below) and in a faster "Take Five" (too large for me to play for you here). Wright's 3-movement "African Times Suite" while nice to include drags things down a bit as does Brubeck's ponderous "Salute to Stephen Foster". I would have instead enjoyed a new version of "Blue Rondo" or "It's a Raggy Waltz". The version of "St. Louis Blues" is fine as is the mellow "Don't Worry About Me," the latter will make you wonder no more why Miles Davis liked Brubeck.
Recorded on the best vinyl around at the time (the A&M Horizon imprint was in competition with Angel, then the highest quality vinyl label, at the time, if I remember correctly), it shows -- very little surface noise here even lo these many years and many plays.
"Three to Get Ready and Four to Go" - From 25th Anniversary Reunion (buy it)
Found via Espew.com
"Take Five" - from Time Out, 1959
"Blue Rondo a la Turk" - from Time Out, 1959
Buy the classic Time Out if only for the cover art:
Courtesy the Tralfaz Cover Art Gallery - Take Five page
- A Dave Brubeck box set for Christmas, anyone?
- Visit the Dave Brubeck institute in Stockton, CA and read his biography. Maybe you'll see Clinton Eastwood, the honorary chairman.
- Brubeck is 84 years old. His most recent collection recalls his service in World War II
- A Brubeck fan page with links to sheet music
Effects on Exposed People LP
Rhesus Records, 1983
Before they became the Waddy Wachtel, Marcus Miller and Steve Gadd session-men of the post-punk indie crowd, E. William Tucker, Andrew Weiss and Simeon Cain played together in Regressive Aid. Effects was their second release, first put out on cassette and then on vinyl, it still holds up fine, I guess. I'd label it one of the first attempts to catch the energy of punk and no-wave noise into an all-out instrumental jazz construct and do so without coming out sounding like some New York jazz students or a jam band (i.e., Gone). Simeon later said that they were trying to be "primal" versus "cerebral" and while they may be true (live, I'm told, they shredded), I'm not so convinced its true for ALL of this album. There's a bunch of that "cerebral" stuff that veers to close to much of those awful jazz-rock Return To Forever tribute bands that proliferated in the late 70s and early '80s and later mutated into shit like Spyro Gira or whatever. But take it for what it is. Three future greats schooling each other and coming up with some cool hallucinatory guitar playing and some tight rhythm riffing.
But there's also some cool headphone music that's almost delicate - if the jazz-rock fusion sound doesn't float your boat, then download "Slack Ave." instead -- my favorite cut on the album. Dig the initial stereophonic guitar build-up in "Slack Ave" and then the easy-going handoff to the drum-bass riff (and the slight use of the kalimba). Turn it up loud and stick on a pair of headphones. "Worromot" also works well in the phones with the only "vocals" on the record and despite having that meandering quality of most modern jazz. Listen for instance to the angel-like voice in the right headphone near the end of the track. "Years and Years" also mines that primal vein has some neat sounds even as it goes on a bit too long for my tastes.
Tucker was later quoted as saying that Regressive Aid was his excuse for saying "been there, done that" when presented with proposals he didn't like. Of course, he went on to become a (some say the) house guitarist for WAX TRAX records appearing with or fronting Pigface, Chris Connelly/Swinging Junkies, Ministry, Thrill Kill Kult, Revolting Cocks, etc. He killed himself in 1999, supposedly despondent over the death of a friend. Weiss and Cain, of course, moved to LA and joined Gone, which lasted a few thankfully short years and then into the Rollins Band where they found another talented guitarist and a great singer. They're continuing to play around, popping up in the oddest places (they're longtime Ween collaborators -- Andrew Weiss produced some of their records).
| Download Regressive Aid's Effects on Exposed People courtesy Matt D'amico of Demonsweat Blog
- A tribute page to William Tucker includes links to interviews, discography.
- Chris Connelly has some downloads of shows he did with Tucker in the mid-90s. I haven't had time to check it out yet so caveat auditor.
- Something I Learned Today has a recent article on the Rollins Band.
- The movie soundtrack for Lovedolls Superstar was reviewed here several months ago. Weiss and Tucker along with Paul Roessler are credited with the soundtrack of the just released Lovedolls Superstars - Fully Realized directors cut (and DVD release). The director has apparently had a falling out with Greg Ginn and edited all his guitar work out of the re-release! It premiered in LA last Thursday.
- Last Exit was another jazz unit that tried to connect with the punk energy and were generally successful. In this case, it wasn't kids but experienced jazzers (Laswell, Sharrock, Ronald Shannon Jackson, etc.). I have some of their records in my pile and will get to them someday.
Monday, December 06, 2004
Crappy or non existent mp3 metadata
If I load up the mp3 of your big single and it says it’s “Song” by “Artist” on the record, “Album,” you’ve completely blown it already; I have no way to ever find you again. Ditto for file naming. Remember: people often download dozens or hundreds of songs at once, so it’s really unlikely they’ll remember where
Tip: Fill every possible field of ID3 data with rich, correct information. This is the digital version of an album cover, so give the kids something to read while they’re rocking. Basic track info is a no-brainer, but also consider adding cover art, track number, composer credits, genre and year information, and—duh—add a link to your web site and email address in the comments field. Posting an MP3 without metadata is like Safeway ordering the hair-netted sample lady not to tell hungry customers which aisle those nummy chicken fingers are in.
Look at it this way. ID3 data are the new run-off grooves.
And here's "The Maze" by minutemen (see previous post)...have a good week everyone!
Sunday, December 05, 2004
Paranoid Time (7" EP)
SST Records, 1980
Still in print, like most of their stuff, this is, what?, the third time minutemen are featured here. Here's one of the previous posts that explains my love-hate relationship with minutemen. Of interest here is the strength and longevity of Watt's songs, even here on their first record. His songs capture the imagination, remain topical even if the lyrics are dated and rarely meander off into sloganeering and adolescent whining. Even "Joe McCarthey's Ghost" is written in such a in-your-face way that its questions can only be answered on a personal level without having to delive into a book by some long dead idealogue to "get it"...
"Paranoid Chant" could probably be updated. Maybe he could sing it in the voice of a Shiite listening to the Iranian mullahs? What makes a child strap on a suicide bomb, indeed?
One of the other notable songs is "Validation' - the 38 second opener by Watt that has a cool percussion sound that almost sounds like they were hitting the bass with a drumstick. I was never sure whether it was intentional or not. Spot was able to capture some weird sounds.
The cover art is by Raymond Pettibone whose editorial cartoons, sorry ah, cover art, always require a double take. The cowboy actor standing on a crate to reach the actress probably meant to be Reagan then running for President. The improbable scenario of the purposely stereotypical Chinese (in Mao jackets) directing a Hollywood film with guns meant to be ironic, I guess, and mirrored in "Paranoid Chant" where the misinformed narrator is worried about Chinese ICBMs (tweren't many until the Clinton era). That said, I suppose I've never found the Chinese communist government amusing, to say the least. Repressive, ungodly, freedom-hating, they deserve a good spanking and the round humiliation an internal democratic revolution would bring -- their corruption will likely be their ultimate undoing. In any case, its good art in that it causes that internal argument that's always healthy for a person who claims to be alive.
"Paranoid Chant" (160 kbps)
Buy Paranoid Time on CD
All songs are recorded directly from vinyl - pops and clicks may be evident. Songs are usually made available for the purposes of continued discussion for less than two or so weeks.
Saturday, December 04, 2004
Songs of Love and Fury
Homestead Records, 1986
Once upon a time, like most such stories begin on this journal, there was three working-class teenage blokes who saw, or maybe heard of, four traveling minstrels who went about the land singing of anarchy, insurrection and having fun. These minstrels were unlike any others these three blokes had ever heard. Back then, only magical wizards who held degrees in musical production and economics and owned massive amounts of expensive instruments could play for the Queen. But here were these four gobs banned in all the civilized places telling everyone they could just pick up their own instruments out of the junkpiles and local shoppes and make their own music for themselves and their friends. Well, these three blokes took it to heart.
But first they went home and watched Dr. Who.
Later they got themselves some instruments and started playing loud and crappy music that peeled the eardrums from the residents of their Tatty Seaside Town. The songs would be like no others pulling in influences from all over the map and then mimicking the sounds around them - the callilopes of the merry-go-rounds, the star of the fortune tellers, the vacuum cleaners of suburbia, even the garish colors of the place make sounds.
They borrowed a friend named Spike's tape recorder with the thought they might put these songs on tape.
But first, they went to the pub and made up unnatural drinking songs on the way home.
Very soon, others in their tatty town took heart and started making their own sounds. Compilations were sent forth, the blokes started their own record label to capture their sounds and their buddies' music. Pretty soon they were able to save enough to put out an EP and sent it over the water to a young Prince who ran a record label.
Another bloke, now dead, started playing their songs as well and more people were coming to their shows and it was good. They started hearing songs from bands hailing from townes and regions known as Los Angeles, Washington DC, Boston, even Arizona and of course their nearby cousins in London and Manchester. And even more new sounds crept into their own music making it even better.
After much back and forth - trips hither and yon playing as minstrels on several continents, the three young blokes put together enough songs to fill the 40-some minutes of an LP. The songs were hailed far and wide even today as perhaps their best collection.
The entitled this collection Songs of Love and Fury but they could have also called it Songs for Waiting For the End of the World and Getting Bored So Making Up Shit to Amuse Us In the Meantime.
It was year of our Lyrd 1986 in Blackpool. Envision a plastic hell filled with itchy-fingered locals and out-of-town t-shirt zombies trading thier filthy lucre for every possible piece of crud possible. Over this consumerist apocalyptic hell stands an iron tower filled with every stupid wonder a half-brained ponytail-cap-wearing creepo might want and you want to burn it down and shut them all up. You leave the town and you see only more of the same and even worst - tanks rumbling by, clusters of beggars, vandals in sandals. Going to your home home isn't much different - your moms playing crappy radio in the living room and rotting beef in the fridge.
But you get older, dumber, the sun comes out, loathesome children come around and start it all over again.
"Postdetergent Vacuum Cleaner Man" (157 kbps VBR, 3.2 Mb)
"Bang!" (212 kbps VBR, 2.6 Mb)
"Big Fun Tonight" (171 kbps VBR, 4.4 Mb)
"Thank Heavens for the Iron Horse" (162 kbps VBR, 3.8 Mb)
Other MP3s of note:
- "Spike Milligan's Tape Recorder" is one of their more well-known songs - it's not on this album (48 kbps - which somehow is appropriate for this noisesquawk) - courtesy of Radio Bangladesh
- Here's a cover that updates Membranes big hit, "Tatty Seaside Town" by Therapy!
- Speaking of which, John Robb now leads Goldblade, a sort of retro-oi-punk band. They're very tight. Here's a song of theirs - I like it (referring page)
- John Robb, the most visible member of Membranes, maintains a history (google cache, the original page is fubar) and discography of his old band
- Robb also writes for Playlouder.com. He's still the same anti-everything type of guy. His most recent is a Christmas message
- It's criminal but this album is long out of print and never, to my knowledge, available on CD. However, three of the songs ("Kennedy '63", "Spaceships", "Everyone's Going Triple Acid Yeah") are available on The Best of the Membranes import CD
- Kiss Ass Godhead recorded by Steve Albini (one of his first) is still in print. Check here for prices.
Friday, December 03, 2004
Also, there's still free tickets left for next Thursday's screening of their performance movie "Under Blackpool Lights" - this is a cool name since my next posting will be about a band from Blackpool ... - I'll be at the Washington DC screening. You need to sign up and show up with ID. Here's the link.