Saturday, July 30, 2005

MP3 Mix #21: I'll Be Your Special Golem

"Let's Kill Saturday Night" - Silkworm (Michael Dahlquist, RIP) (courtesy 12xu)
"I See You" - Blindfold (Angry Ape feature on this band)
"Untitled" - Thuja (per Loki, Destroyer of Brains - more at Uncommon Folk )
"Knuckels" - The Hold Steady (read My Old Kentucky Blog for more tracks; also Moistworks)
"Golem" - Lost Goat (via Life is Abuse)
"Air and I" - Sandycoates

(movie still from 1920's Der Golem - add it to yr netflix queue)

Butthole Surfers: Rembrandt Pussyhorse

Touch and Go LP, 1986

It's no surprise that truly stupid music can also be the most unsettling ever made. I think I played this once or twice, taped a few cuts and then buried it on the shelves, sort of like the way you shelve memories of things that truly terrify you. By that I mean nature's creations -- deformed dangerous people (yes, I'll admit I'm a "lookist") or armies of black slimy ugly swarming bugs or wild feral animals that you encounter outdoors when you don't have a gun. But it's pretty rare, at least for me, when the stuff in movies or books or shit that supposed to scare you really does... although come to think of it, I suppose that scene with the banjo-picking albino in Deliverance made me piss my pants a few times. And this record has the same effect. I really wanna forget it but not because it's bad or anything.

Mostly recorded in the same chemical haze that produced Another Man's Sac and then was (reportedly, no one seems to remember) augmented with other tracks done in '85 or '86, Rembrandt Pussyhorse is said to be their most experimental. Yeah, uh huh but considering their earlier works it does represent a slight move towards the "conventionality" that would characterize their later, mostly inferior work. F'rinstance, there's the almost melodic "Creep in the Cellar" and then its trance dub sister version ("In The Cellar") that open and close the record. The framing of the record with these two songs suggest concept album as well (oh no, Gibby!) although about the only concept I could come up with is that its a mostly fucked-up mind-map of the band's collective brain as expressed through Gibby's improv lyrics and Paul's guitar strangulation and drummers (and some anonymous bass player). There's no credits on the record so I'm not totally sure who did what here.

Highlights include "Sea Ferring" with its stream of consciousness lyrics: "like a ballpark like a hiccup like blood clot like a brain stroke"... "Mark Says Alright" with the band's dog growling and sound effects and some of Paul's best studio acid jazz guitar improv.... and as if one Guess Who GF Railroad reference wasn't enough, there's also the classic cover of "American Woman" that is torn apart and re-processed as an industrially damaged John Donne-quoting police hostage stand-off -- and yet it still manages to pay tribute to the originalGrand Funk Railroad... or what about "Perry", done in the voice of an obnoxious trendy English kid (which may or may not have been about the Jesus & Mary Chain). And there's some new instruments including organ - used to eerie effect in the ambient-industro "Strangers Die Everyday" and piano. There's also some backwards-mixed violin ("Creep in The Cellar") which was found on the used multi-track tape they were using and it oddly fits with the song and saves it from the afore-mentioned conventionality. "Whirling Hall of Knives" was featured in a previous post although I had forgotten its provenance (perhaps that goes along with wanting to put this nightmare out of my mind). I could go on - it's fucked up and crazy and maybe a teensy bit overwrought at times.


Live from the same time period of release:


Buy this record (on CD)

Just for Gagging (detail from the back cover):

Friday, July 29, 2005

The Snakes: I Won't Love You ('Till You're More Like Me)

Dischord Records 18 LP, 1985

Dischord put this out in the midst of Rites of Spring, Beefeater and Dag Nasty and took a lot of heat from the Dischord fan base expecting another emo record and getting an offbeat (for Dischord) garage punk-pop record. It's probably the first (and maybe only) Dischord record in which most of the songs are about girls and more traditional teenage angst (vs. say missing the vegan pot luck dinner), so I liked it right off the bat just for that.

The band consisted of Simon Jacobsen and Mike Hampton who were in the original Arlington-Cleveland Park Axis of Punk -- they were in State of Alert, one of Henry Rollins' first bands and Mike Hampton was also in Faith and Embrace (the original Embrace). They were a studio band and so far as I know never played out much, if at all. I'm guessing they were formed in high school for fun and somehow someone got them in the studio and Dischord released the record as a limited run. They had a follow-up record a few years later that was co-released with Adult Swim Records and then a CD came out earlier this decade which collected both albums.

The record starts out with the best songs: "She's Got It Now" and the title cut, both tasty piffs of garage punk/pop. That's not to say it goes downhill afterwards but there are a few potholes on this here record. Take the between song "banter' (what the rap kids now call skits) - please and "The Greek Song," a pretty lame attempt at humor at the expense of, well, Greeks, ha ha. "Licensed to Fish" is a kinda funny parody of reggae-dub ("Jah give me de license to fish-fish-fish") but like their embarrassing attempt at rap ("Snake Rap"), both band and Don Zientara are ill-equipped to pull off this type of recording. I might also have advised them, had I been the producer (credited as Ian MacKaye and the band) to get a real drummer -- and I might add so long as I'm being so bold that Don Z's recording techniques with drums were still, back in '83 when this was recorded, amateur hour. The guitar(s) sound real nice though - Don (a guitarist) knew how to capture that, at least.

The other "girl" songs such as- "City Girls," "Pushover" and "Twelve Angry Men" are rousing, if not at times resentful, songs about the ladies of DC (yes, "Twelve Angry Men" is about DC punk girls). I'm not getting down on them - when girl bands write sarcastic songs about men, we celebrate them so I'm like not giving a fuck if there's a little high school misogyny. Not all the songs are about girls, though - there's one about a rich friend "who living a lie-ah" (heh), "For Colored Girls" is about suicide (it's bad, doncha know) and a lovely chugging song about the working stiffs of suburbia ("Six O'Clock"). "Serv-Pro Joe" tells us about life from the eyes of some invisible working class dude whom everyone has ignored and is about the closest they get to their thrash roots. When they concentrate real hard, these guys made some pretty cool garage punk for their time and it's cool that it popped up on a label that normally wouldn't release this type of music.

"She's Got It Now" - My Friday Pick!

Bonus hit!:
"I Won't Love You ('Til You're More Like Me)"

Wanna buy it?
I'm as ever confused by the Dischord website (what? you wanna buy our records?) but apparently a cassette of their second release (Happy - co-released with Adult Swim Records) is available for $4.00. Adult Swim describes the CD version of Happy as including the entire I Won't Love You tracks but I don't know if the cassette version does the same because the Dischord site doesn't adequately describe it's "half-label releases".

Saved Round:

Here's what Hank wrote about The Snakes when he played them on his old radio Harmony in My Head radio show a year or so ago:

Snakes – 12 Angry Men: This is Mike and Simon, my two former band mates from DC. They had a band called the Snakes that was for fun but eventually recorded two albums. I think the album is still available. ItÂ’s called I Won't Love You (Til You'’re More Like Me.) Ian MacKaye Produced the stuff and for a minute there the two LPs and the CD were in print but looking around on the internet, it seems the record is now rare. How much would I like to print up 500 of these, itÂ’s such a great CD. Anyway, this song is about punk rock girls in DC.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Overkill (L.A.): "Over The Edge" - from Blasting Concept, Vol II

Due to special request and my own like of this song, here's the Hawthorne, CA band that Merrill Ward (SWA, Nig Heist) used to sing for before they kicked him out. That's Merrill on the far left - you could use this picture to play the old "one of the things doesn't belong with the other" game. The story is that he was asked to leave the group after he was overheard plotting how to take over the band - ha ha.

Merrill is now a New Age guru in case you need your chakras aligned.

Here's the Overkill (LA) reunion page - the two surviving members that got together earlier this year are guitarist Felice Lococo and drum bum Kurt Markham - there's a picture of them in case you want to do a before and after comparison (Felice aged, Kurt didn't - damn drummers).

They've posted a bunch of their best songs as MP3s. They have an upcoming gig on August 6th (with Instigator and Dr. Know) and more to come. They recently posted some new (albeit raw) practice session MP3s were recently posted. Age has not mellowed them out, at least I can say that.


"Over The Edge" from The Blasting Concept, Vol II

See also the Overkill (L.A.) audio web page to also download this song and others (for when my link goes dead).

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Various Artists: The Blasting Concept Vol II

SST Records, 1986

For some reason, this record has become a punchline. Andrew Earles (Failed Pilot) calls it the product of "the whims of a misguided label mogul." A recent review in The Record Robot, an otherwise fine endeavor, called (nearly) every song "poo" and "uninspired." Rock writers. Feh. This record reminds me of those old cheap Warner Brothers compilations except the artists didn't totally suck. Blasting Concept Vol 1 is not recommended, though, but this record has some previously unreleased material and is a fine doc. of the SST sound in the mid 80's, a pastiche of punk, metal, improv, acid rock and even, heaven forbid, jangle.

Sure, not every cut on this famously $3.49 LP is stellar. With the exception of Overkill's shredful Moto:rhead tribute, the metal cuts (from Saint Vitus and Wurm) are fairly vapid and boring for my taste. DC3, a band I never much cared for, cover friggin' Mountain, one of the most over-rated under-rated bands from the 60's (or was it the 70's, dude?). The SWA cut is pretty dick deadening. And my opinion that Saccharine Trust and Tom Troccoli's Dog are projects best forgotten finds no conflicting evidence here.

But Painted Willie's unintentional(?) political hardcore punk Spinal Tap act always makes me laugh and I can never get enough Angst (both the band and the real thing).

The Meat Puppets
take on Muddy Waters may be "uninspired" and "painful" but wasn't that the whole point - I love the call and answer sludge-lead guitar action and the sort of end of the night feel that goes against the whole notion of the song they are covering ("I Just Wanna Make Love To You") and I find it more interesting than that other classick rok band that covered it...

October Faction
answers the question of "what if" Black Flag were free jazz with words by Bukowski with their "I Was Grotesque"...

And speaking of Black Flag, how about that "I Can Feel You" with Henry restrained, the Dez-Greg guitar work ? It was later put as the title cut on their final record in case you were still listening at that point (I was).

Minutemen do "Ain't Talking 'Bout Love" with their typical joyful smear and remind us yet again that d. boon was more than just a singer-songwriter but wielded a mean guitar. But Robot got it right on the Du cut (if you're quick about it you can still sample it their site).

Finally, the Gone cut "Watch The 'Tractor", a pre nu-metal instrumental if there ever was one, actually works when put on a compilation such as this. My only complaint about SST in this time period is too much testosterone - where are the chicks? (Kim Gordon and Kira not withstanding).

"Ain't Talkin' Bout Love" - Minutemen
"Just Me" - Angst
"The Big Time" - Painted Willie

Wanna buy it? - try Froogle for some of the used record stores and e-Bay - this puppy is long out of print and gonna probably stay this way (note that some of the cuts from the more popular bands like Black Flag and Husker Du have shown up on other collections).

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Beat Happening: Jamboree

"K" Records, 1988

What's not already been written about this record and this band that you don't already know? This is the second "album" (more like an EP) and its the time and place where Beat Happening documented that they could really rock and write engaging songs about teenage love, food and sex. Yeah, I slammed them for their earlier stuff but those tapes and records were necessary steps for finding their voice (and with this, perhaps the apex of their swing - although others my argue that Dark Candy and their last record were better). The point of the band had by this time become what Calvin sings in the final cut: "We tip over apple carts / with the pounding of our hearts."

And wasn't one of the wierder moments documented in Azerrad's book the description of how during a show which Beat Happening shared with Black Flag, Calvin's on-stage antics so offended Henry Rollins (reportedly) that he physically attacked him (well, grabbed at his crotch if you believe it). Now, some 20 years later, it doesn't sound so revolutionary but I remember getting goggled eyed when Heather did her a capella thing, off-key, with all her vulnerability when it seemed if a girl was playing in a "punk band" she mostly acted/dressed like a guy or an angry lesbian in shorts and hiking boots. Of course a week later, it seemed every other band playing at d.c. space had a tiny girl, a guitar and a snare drum. I too thought Calvin was a bit too much to take as well but now realize it was like a clean Iggy Pop act. I remember turning towards my companion and just rolling my eyes when he did his belly button baring.

What makes this record work is that the "Calvin songs" are interspersed with some more diverse cuts. I'm not sure I could have taken a whole record of his off-key voice or the feedback guitar and drums pairings. Sure, there's the songs sung by Heather (both about uncommunicative boyfriends) and the live cuts - the a capella "Ask Me" and the Hendrix meets Jad Fair "The This Many Boyfriend Club"... there's even a song that adds a second stereo-mixed guitar (courtesy Screaming Trees' Lee Conner) in "Midnight A Go-Go". All great stuff.

But what about "Hangman", the Crampsish murder ballad about what sounds like some Western comic book character meting out God's justice and going home at night to hang out with the kids and wife. And it rocks (but then so does almost 80% of this album). Here's a song I wish Johnny Cash had lived to cover and it makes absolutely no sense being on this album with the other songs here. And maybe that's why I like it so much. Although I find it hard to believe that Johnson ruled Olympia's music scene with the iron fist that is reputed, writing a song about a guy who tells people to "make peace with yourself" because they're going to hang at dawn doesn't do much to dispel those stories. "I'm the hangman." And no onions in that pot-luck casserole, please.

"Cat Walk" is another new fave and it has, oh my, backing vocals. This is the only cut produced by Patrick Maley (the undersung owner of Yo Yo studios and recordings). Unlike Steve Fisk's glorification of the guitar and upfront vocals (listen to "Bewitched" below for a perfect example), Maley softens and blends their sound somewhat and gives it a crisper pop feel. I wonder if there are any other surviving cuts from this session at Yo-Yo or whether this was the only one. Bonus points for being a song about a sweater (see Bellafea and Yo La Tengo, for starters).

About the only song I can't hack from this record is "Jamboree" - it's total nonsense and virtually unlistenable - at least after the first time.

Sweater rockers: Bret, Heather and Calvin

Photo credit: Ann Culbertson (from the back cover)

Songs (for temporary sampling):
"Cat Walk"

Permanent download (from K Records):


Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Coffee and Cigarettes MP3 Mix: I Almost Cut My Hair Today

"Wonderland Woods" - Chris Vrenna beckons us down the rabbit hole
"Paid for Grace" - That nice boy from Currituck Co. has gone insane
:::Interlude::: Hannah Marcus show us the desert
"Sun Song" - Nick Castro sits down
"Git" - Skeletons and Girl-faced Boys shimmy to a smooth finale

h.t. for "git" to credcentral

Monday, July 11, 2005

Blackhouse: Hope

click on image to see cover
(RRRecords, LP dated 1984/1985)

Blackhouse were a 2nd generation industrial band whose influences were drawn from Throbbing Gristle, SPK, Einsturzende Neubauten and the like. Their sound is somewhat derivative of Whitehouse, SPK, Nurse With Wound and Controlled Bleeding... only much more boring, if that's possible. This was in the years before industrial music became just another form of dance music.

The basic construction of the pieces on this record are to choose a repetitive single measure drum beat (they've got a Roland but don't know how to program it) and then lay some overly processed vocals over the top and some repetitive factory or feedbackish sound effects. An "exciting" variation would be to either not use the drum machine or just set the drum machine to make a single monotonous beat. Sometimes the vocals are discernible and other times you can understand them. I'm sorry but I'm nodding off even as I write this...

Blackhouse had a gimmick that made them stand out from the others, though. They were the first Christian industrial-noise-rock band. Whoopee. However, they disavowed the extremist fundamentalism that appears to be the logical conclusion of most religion and instead characterized themselves as good leftist Christians (pro-environment, anti-government, anti-war, anti-death penalty).

They were "pro-life" (there's a cut on this record by that name) but simultaneously said they were for the "right of a woman to choose her own destiny" (quoted from a 1993 interview) .... um... where destiny is spelled (whispering) H-E-L-L in case you're wondering. So its sort of like a strangely passive Christianity - a go forth and make a joyful noise and oh by the way - we think that you, you and you are going to Hell and tough shit. Oh by the way, we're not going to Hell because we both have dicks and would never get ourselves in a stupid mess like you. Dumb girls. Dude, let's party!

They're kinda like the Church Lady but with heavy feedback and a four track recorder.

I mean at least a band like Nurse With Woulnd would try to make the sounds of a million dead babies crying or something interesting and come up with something that actually confronted the audience. When Blackhouse got shit at live shows from both the Xtians who didn't like noise and the noise fans who didn't like Christians, they just stopped playing live. Well, at least they're going to heaven.

Praise the Lord and pass the drum machine!

Record collector geek notes: This is a limited edition reissue of 500 with a different cover for each. It looks like they took some religious art books and a pot of paste and afixed them to blank cardboard record sleeves. Mine has a bunch of people in a boat and the Pope has magically appeared and appears afixed to the mast of the ship. It's quite funny when you look at it - the first Pope on a stick.

  • "Hope Like A Candle" - Blackhouse - this cut is about the most listenable (as in something approaching interesting) on the record and, thank you Jesus, it is mercifully short. It's shallow and pretentious but isn't almost all industrial rock of this era... come to think of it, any era? Also, way dated but hey check it out for your own edification and tell me I'm wrong and going to Hell.

Band members:
  • Sterling Cross
  • Ivo Cutler
  • Roger Farrell (although he doesn't play on the cut above)

  • The Blackhouse website includes a very pompous interview - money quote: "I prefer to be known as Blackhouse. Blackhouse is who I am." I'm guessing the band is down to one person now.
  • Here's the 1993 interview referenced above where they talk about their view on abortion and other things.
  • There's also an announcement on their website that Blackhouse has a new albumfor 2005 on Ladd-Frith that will return to the sound of their early "extreme" years and is getting Roland the Drum Machine out of the back of the closet. In the late '90s or so, the band seemingly lightened up and dialed back on the Christianity and the noise to become more of a "good vibe" synth-dance-rave band. Yay, I see Jesus in the strobe lights. Witness, witness...

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Big Black: "Big Money" 12" Promo

Homestead Records, 1986

This was the record that ended Big Black's recording deal with the Dutch East India / Homestead label. As explained in the Big Black Portal (from whom we've "borrowed" all images), the agreement between the band and the label was that this record, lacking any cover art or liner notes, was a radio station promo and not to be sold. There were 500 copies released and a couple dozen "test pressings" but then the label sleazes reportedly started selling copies in record stores outside Chicago thinking the band wouldn't find out.

Steve and Santiago: Photo from Sound of Impact

I found mine in a DC record store in a Mylar snuggie with the words "Test Pressing" written on top in Sharpie pen. I've pretty sure, though, this isn't a test pressing but the record collector scum in me couldn't resist laying down the $7.99 for a band I knew would remain big for a long time. Actually, it had been in the bins for several weeks but because the band was so unpopular in DC, it sat there for weeks or maybe all the fans didn't want to pick it up because they sympathsized with the band. After a few weeks, though, I couldn't resist.

The three live cuts (recorded at the Prince's 7th Street Entry club where Prince played in Purple Rain) appeared on the semi-official Sound of Impact (Blast First/UK) and just "Cables" appears on Atomizer.

  • "Il Duce" - this was a cast-off from the Racer-X session (Naked Raygun's Jeff "Gigantor" Pezatti is on bass) and sounds like one of those songs written in the studio based on a drum riff (and the drum programming here, as always beats most live drummers to badly ground meat) and their famous "knife" and "hammer" guitar interplay. It was then released as a 7" with a photo of Mussolini, the Beast of Rome and the purposely infuriating dedication to "the bambino: il duce benito mussolini, whose life has been an inspiration to us all." The lyrics suggest a fictional child-like (bambino) Mussolini given the ultimate toy to play with:
They gave me this house, and gave me this car
They gave me the cities and streets when they gave me this job
  • "Rip" - The explosions you hear in "Rip" are Albini's on-stage pyrotechnics which no doubt had many club owners pissed off and, if memory serves correct, got them banned in several places. When they played in dc space (I saw them twice), I can't remember them actually doing the fireworks - it was an extremely tight and narrow room and probably would have cleared out the club. As noted, this version redeems the previous dorm room recorded version, apparently meant as an ode to random violence.

Acquire This Shit, You Cheapskates:

There is a copy of this 12" promo (not the test pressing) available on Gemm, unplayed, for $57.50. I don't know if this link will work for long.

Touch and Go reissued the "Il Duce" / "Big Money" 7" in the early '90s so you can find it in the used stores and on Gemm, Ebay and the like. You might even find the original 7" (Homestead) there as well. "Il Duce" was also included on the seminal Wailing Ultimate compilation but that's pretty hard to find as well.

"Big Money" which is a fave from Atomizer can now be found on Rich Man's 8 Track Tape which is still available. The original versions of "Rip", "Cables" and "Pigeon Kill" can be found on Hammer Party. Although the live tracks are hard to find, there are still copies of the live 1987 Pig Pile CD available. It has versions of "Cables" and "Pigeon Kill" but no "Rip."

Links and Such:

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Volcano Suns: All Night Lotus Party

Homestead Records LP, 1986

The Spiel: There was a lot of attempts in the mid-80's to put a tag on the particular genre of music that bands like Volcano Suns played. Some called it post-hardcore; others post-post-punk and even later it was entitled pre-grunge. Major Chuck Eddy (Ret. US Army; famous rock critic) famously called it all "pigfuck" to describe the squealing guitars, faux-grit vocals and the veritable pre-occupation with dirtball degradation. Ian MacKaye would lump other bands in here and just disparagingly call it "college rock". Since most of these ... types recorded on Homestead -- Breaking Circus, Squirrel Bait, Phantom Tollbooth, Big Dipper, Antietam etc. (exception: Rifle Sport), you could short hand the sound to Homestead band, although that short-changes Sonic Youth, Dinosaur, Jr., GG Allin and so on. So, let's not go there and instead just say its' all fucking rock und roll.

So...Mission of Burma begat Volcano Suns - drummer Peter Prescott taking the Burma penchant for harmonious soaring vocals and occasional anthems and artful compositions into less artful and more hardcore lands. No more references to Dada artists and Henry Miller essays. Although, come to think of it, the last Mission of Burma record (OnOffOn - 2004) sounds a lot like this record so you could say the Suns begat Burma in a way.

After a false start with the crew that later formed Big Dipper, Prescott found in guitarist Jon Williams and bassist Jeff Weigand about the closest approximation to Roger Miller and Clint Conley. The third incarnation (with Shellac's Bob Weston) seemed more a bridge to his follow-on bands. This record is often labeled as the one in which Prescott gave up some measure of songwriting control and credits are given to the band and other members. Weigand contributes "Cans", a lip curling description of factory work and Prescott and Weigand even collaborate on one song ("Room With a View").

If I ever made up one of those dumb Hornbyish lists of "Best Sides of Rock and Roll", I'd haveta give Side 1 of this record serious consideration. "White Elephant" opens up with a shredding guitar solo that settles into riff stolen from "Greasy Spine"... the song apparently is about a guy who hosts or goes to white elephant sales and finds himself somewhat of a white elephant with respect to his girlfriend. The aforementioned "Cans", another shredder follows-up this cut and it's almost as if the record which was rumored to have been named in allusion to masturbation, has blown its collective wad. But the floating "Room With A View" (the only Prescott-Weigand collaboration) allows us to catch our collective breaths and then it's time for the Suns to crank into a fast-slow hardcore song (about the most "pre-grunge" thing here) called "Blown Stack" which segues into"Engines" - these songs fit so well together I just digitized them together. The side then finishes up with the more Bostonish "Walking Around", a seeming reference to slacking off and what rockers do if they aren't addicted to heroin, I guess. See my recent post on the Rock Turns To Stone compilation for more of that. The side is truly a gem.

Side 2 doesn't quite match the standards of side 1, alas. The song subject matter is more vague but the first few songs seem to be variations on Pigfuck's favorite topic -- Dirtball Americanus- you know, trailer parks, men with guns, depraved killers in the suburbs, etc. It doesn't help that there are practically no liner notes or lyrics (which was a common Homestead record trait). Lou Giordano's engineering often obscures the vocals and leaves the listener just resigned to enjoying the sonic attributes of the song and treat the singing like an overheard conversation in which you can't always tell what the words are. If you've been reading this dumb blog long enough, you'll know that this is one of my pet peeves. So I'm listening to "Sounds Like Bucks" and I'm trying to figure out what exactly sounds like bucks. Fucks? Dollar bills? Trucks? Nyuk-nyuks? The vocals on the song gives little clue.

"Dot On The Map" is a nice guy putdown of small town life ("nice but you just can't live there") and its predecessor "Four Letters' is another head-scratcher as to what its about. I suppose this pondering fits well together. "Village Idiot" is set-up in that stupid bouncy style by the guy that is the "whipping boy" at his job and town and presumably with the girls although this might be an allusion to how Prescott felt while he was in Burma. "Ride the Cog" -- well, finally a song about sex on a train -- gives new and improved meaning to the Mile High Club -- I mean really who wants to screw in an airplane lavatory when you can do it on a slow moving mountain train? And in case you're wondering the "Bonus Hidden Track" at the end of side 2 is a :56 second cut that rants and raves and screams like someone just got his chest sliced open. So this is what an All Night Lotus Party Sounds like.

So Where The Fuck Are They Now?

This, the second incarnation of the Suns, broke up in 1987 in a drunken argument in Baltimore (playing on a bill with Government Issue and Dag Nasty!). The third incarnation put out several records before Prescott called it quits and went onto Kustomized and Peer Group. And last year, he got back together with Burma for an album of new songs and a flurry of touring -- word is that the band is back on hiatus.

Jon Williams is apparently running a lowkey rural studio in Vermont where he's recorded Tara Key and John Fahey. The latter is reported to say that Williams -- if we're talking about the same guy -- is the best producer he has ever worked with. He produced and played as a Barton Boys (basically Antietam ++) on Tara Key's Ear and Echo album - another (sigh) out of print Homestead release and also recorded a few tracks on her Bourbon County '93 release. She credited him in a later interview with "midwiving" the record and I'm sure there's probably some good stories behind that. According to an interview with Prescott, Jeff Weigand went to live in Belgium but I know little else. Back in 2001, Peter Prescott said that Jon Solomon of My Pal God records was said to be looking at doing a Volcano Suns reissue but there's been no news on that since.


  • Album cover shot courtesy sans permission of The High Hat - there's a not so alternate take on the album near the bottom of this page
  • Peter Prescott spoke about this incarnation of the Suns (and other things) in a 2001 Pitchfork interview
  • This Suns line-up also served as "the Din" in Dredd Foole and The Din's 1987Take Off Your Skin
  • Boston Rock Storybook has some pictures of Williams and Prescott plus some gig posters and a thank you note they sent to Fort Apache.
  • Previous Vinyl Mine posting on the great "Greasy Spine" single that preceded this album
  • "White Elephant" also was selected for the seminal Wailing Ultimate compilation

Totally Off-Topic - from my other blog:
  • Some Showspiel
  • Musing on the fact that both Big Black and Sufjan Stevens have both written songs about Casmir Pulaski Day and they even have some similarities

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

My First Mash-Up: Get Behind Me, LL Cool J

"Producer"'s notes: OK, it's a bit lame and stumbles in places... more than once but it's my first one and you didn't want me to continue to obsess about it. As the Ramones would say, "just get out there and do it". I promise my next one will be better....

My original attempt was to marry Low's "California" with "Going Back to Cali" but, wow, that sure didn't work. So I went with the B-side and thought who better to complement LL Cool J's mack poetry than Jack "Ladies Love" White the Ripper and Meg White's back to basics drumming. -- DJ V.M.

"Jack The Ripper's Thinking About the Doorbell" - L.L. Cool J vs. The White Stripes

Source material:
  • "Jack the Ripper" came from the b-side of the "Going back to Cali" 12" Single by LL Cool J
  • "The Doorbell" comes from The White Stripes' newest CD, Get Behind Me Satan

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Psychic TV: Live In Heaven

A Temple Record, 1987

Psychic TV was one of the bands formed from the cremains of the first incarnation of Throbbing Gristle. The leader was Genesis P-Orridge whose name always made me think about the origin of mediocre British breakfast cereal. Essentially the band is P-Orridge and whatever cast of miscreants and musicians he can assemble. There's also a cultish bent to the P-Orridge's hype about the band. Applicants to the Temple ov Thee Psychick Youth were encouraged to send their bodily fluids -- for Pan knows what purpose. Orridge fancies himself a thinker/artist in the mold of Burroughs and Crowley but then he also thinks Anton Newcombe is one of the most talented songwriters ever. The band, however, mutated throughout the 80's. Whereas at first it tried to shake off the bonds and expectations of being an "industrial music" band and explored post-punk improv and psyche, it later became more well known as an early innovator in Acid House (I have ZERO Acid House albums, so I can't tell ya whether it was good or bad).

So, in the 80's, Psychic TV embarked on this ambitious project to release, I believe, a dozen "limited-edition' live albums sporting this rather keen design and then the plan was to offer a 13th album to the poor sods, er, Psychick Youth who actually bought every record. There's a little insert coupon in each album which I suppose you are to redeem when and if the project ever concludes. To the best of my knowledge, it never did but I haven't done much research on the question.

Live in Heaven was recorded on my birthday (December 23rd) in 1986 in a London Charing Cross club called Heaven. It has a heavy improvised feel - most of the songs are simple two chord jams over which Orridge spits and purrs his surreal and often ridiculous lyrics.

It starts out with a clarinet playing a Pipes of Pan at Dawn of the Gates of Whatever and this culminates with the rest of the musicians crescendoing into a short taped piece about someone hearing voices from beyond. Then Orridge arrives and begins singing a sick song about eating a girlfriend's leg because he wants to protect her and it really looks good.

Or something like that.

"Paradise Lost," though, isn't too bad - it's a sort of an undone Joy Division lock groove overlaid with Orridge's nasal wheeze. But because its early in the record, his vocals are only annoying and not overbearing. Here, he is a misshapen troll singing/improvising a love song: "I like you / because you're very nice" and it all comes together for a moment. Plus its got a pretty bass line.

This is followed by (again, not sure of titles) "Lies and Spies" / "Revenge on God" which reminds one of an experimental pairing of The Birthday Party and Jim Morrison. I'm not exactly saying that's a good thing. After a few minutes into the track, my hand reaches for the needle as there's only so much one can take of Orridge and his vocal overcompensations.

I return to this record several days later to tackle the 2nd side or at least let it ooze through my fingers. The first three cuts are really for fans of Orridge only - I find myself pushing the needle down the groove with each successive track. G, I really hope you have learned to edit yourself by now or have found stronger musicians to play with but I'm guessing from your website that's probably not the case. Well, Throbbing Gristle recently reunited, so there's that.

But the last song on this second side is called "Radium" and it's pretty much a pre-Acid House piece. It's not so much as a mind-fuck but a mind-finger-fuck. And maybe it's only a pinky finger. I mean, take enough drugs and pretty much anything sounds cool. Orridge goes overboard again, though, detracting from the oterhwise nice but jarring ear candy. I wonder what this band would have been like if P-Orridge's ego didn't get in the way?

If I was one of those grader types, I'd give this a C+, mmmm'kay?

Psychic TV line-up for Live in Heaven:
Dave Ball (ex-Soft Cell) - Keyboards
Monte Cazazza - Guitar
Hilmar Orn Hilmarsson - Keybaords
John Gosling - Samples, Percussion
Mouse - Bass Guitar, Clarinet
Genesis P-Orridge - Repartee
Paula P-Orridge - Vibes, Percussion
Live Mix by Ken Thomas

Song samples:
"I Hear Voices"


Genesis P-Orridge's Website includes a group blog where Genesis turns up occasionally to direct cult leaderish directives to his motley band of Internet followers. Here's a funny quote in which he berates the people who make fun of him and his latest experiments in Pangenderism (he's transforming himself into a boy-girl thing). Stop hatin' on Genesis, peeps!:
All that being understood, we are coumtimes surprised that coum people repeatedly visit whilst proclaiming disinterest, being pointlessly rude and only coumplaining. I.T. has never been appealing to US to devote hours ov priceless T.I.M.E. and L-if-E to buying CDs, paying to go to gigs, coumtimes building websites dedicated to describing what we DON'T like, and emailing disdain deliberately to hurt coumone's feelings repeatedly when I.T. is coumthing, or art, or one we don't enjoy or like! From thee outside I.T. is hard to coumprehend why anyone would waste their energies on negativity alone. To get pleasure from hurting coumone else, or wishing to, especially coumone you probably don't know, seems highly irrational.
Dont' forget to check out his fab bio! And...

A P-TV fan site (FOPI) has put together a list of all the 94 (so far) contributors to Psychic TV and little bios and interviews with many of them.

Trouser Press Psychic TV page (Ira Robbins)

Loki (one of my earliest supporters) seems to be the most knowledgeable of Psychic TV in the "music blog community"... Here's a recent posting on one of the sister albums to the live series. He also expresses frustration with P-Orridge:
When singers who can't sing stop primal screaming/Gristlizing and start doing, well,this kind of thing you sense they've lost perspective somehow, sense they've somehow forgotten that they can't sing, that acclaim and/or raw fame has touched too many nerves and now they don't know which ones are twitching or how to turn them off.

Saved Round:

Thank you to Douglas Wolk who linked to Vinyl Mine and others in his recent article on Music Blogs on the L.A. Times website. Wolk's own music blog/website is Lacunae and he actually writes for a living about music (his website has links to his stuff). He recently wrote about The Fall and in particular Mark E. Smith's voice which turns people off in much the way Orridge's voice turns me off. Smith's voice I can listen to for much longer periods of time -- but he also doesn't over-dominate his band either.

Also, my faves of 2005 and the decade so far.