Saturday, September 23, 2006
(Please note that all 3 years' worth of Agony Shorthand's archives can be accessed by scrolling down to the bottom of this page)
AGONY SHORTHAND was a music-based site/blog that ran from February 2003 through September 2006. It was subsequently replaced with a new site called DETAILED TWANG, but that too was put out to pasture in December 2009. Both have been replaced by THE HEDONIST JIVE, as of April 2010. There's also a beer blog called BEER SAMIZDAT as of August 2011. It was penned by Jay Hinman, with a couple of noteworthy exceptions. When I started it, I knew of only a tiny handful of music-only blogs out there, and the goal was to foist my opinions and recent finds & discoveries on the dozen people I knew who might be interested in hearing about them. Three and ½ years later, it was gratifying to see traffic statistics that showed over 500 people a day were checking it out, and were adding their own commentary with heedless abandon. So why did it stop? Well, why does any unpaid, maniacal, obsessive, high-effort hobby have to come to an end? I don’t know. I reckoned that 43 months’ worth of postings, often done 4-5 per week, would be enough of a legacy to leave for anyone who might be interested in checking it out, and I hope that you do if you haven’t already.
In addition to my current blog THE HEDONIST JIVE, there are also a few pieces on the web one can peek at that I wrote on THE FLESH EATERS, SIMPLY SAUCER, the GUN CLUB and MISSION OF BURMA. To help any future visitors to Agony Shorthand navigate a fraction of the 800+ posts that went up during its lifetime, I’ve painstakingly gathered direct links to many of them below. Enjoy!
AGONY SHORTHAND TOP 100 LPs ; MIKE REP Interview ; "LAUREL CANYON" book ; WHITE ZOMBIE ; FORCED EXPOSURE #7/8 ; HACKAMORE BRICK ; ROCKET FROM THE TOMBS ; "FOLK IN HELL" ; VOM ; GREEN ON RED ; BANGLES ; BEST UNDIGITIZED LPs ; LEE HAZLEWOOD ; CRACK: WE ARE ROCK ; "CHAINS AND BLACK EXHAUST" ; X (Australia) ; PETER BLEGVAD ; JUKEBOX JURY ROUND ONE ; JUKEBOX JURY ROUND TWO ; JUKEBOX JURY ROUND THREE ; JUKEBOX JURY ROUND FOUR ; DUST DEVILS ; CHEATER SLICKS "Yer Last Record" ; COME ; "MUSIC FOR PUSSYCATS" ; BILL DIREEN ; RECORD SHOPPING IN TOKYO; MC5 movie; NATIVE HIPSTERS; FRENCH YE-YE pop of the 60s; BULL TONGUE (Coley/Moore) ; LOVE CHILD; BLACK FLAG "Police Story" ; A-FRAMES "A-Frames"; CONTROLLERS; ROXY MUSIC; THE NUBS; LIIMANARINA; THE REVILLOS ; SLUGFUCKERS ; UNION CARBIDE PRODUCTIONS ; CLOTHILDE ; PRINCE BUSTER ; ART vs. COMMERCE ; THE BRENTWOODS ; THE CLEAN (live) ; SCRITTI POLITTI ; THE GORIES ; COMETS ON FIRE / SUNBURNED HAND OF THE MAN ; "ON THE DIGITIZATION REVOLUTION" ; SKIP JAMES ; GREEN RIVER ; Dissing ARTHUR Magazine ; ROXY MUSIC "Country Life" ; AGONY SHORTHAND's "Greatest Songs List" ; RIGHT ON ; OVERRATED: THE MONKS ; GIRLS AT OUR BEST ; SOLGER ; "FRISCO STYLES" ; "NEW YORK NOISE" ; OVERRATED: THE DICTATORS ; TWENTY AMERICAN 60s PUNK SCREAMERS ; OVERRATED: THE POP GROUP ; DELTA 5 "Anticipation Is So Much Better" ; PUSSY CAT ; WORST ROCK MOVIES OF THE 21st CENTURY ; LAZY COWGIRLS ; NEIL YOUNG "American Stars N' Bars" ; A-FRAMES "A-Frames 2"; LIGHTNING BOLT "Wonderful Rainbow"; BLIND WILLIE McTELL; PERE UBU; REMBETIKA – SONGS OF THE GREEK UNDERGROUND 1925-1947; OVERRATED: THE RAINCOATS ; “FLOWERS IN THE WILDWOOD – WOMEN IN EARLY COUNTRY MUSIC 1923-1939"; HAIR POLICE; THE DOOR AND THE WINDOW; JOHNNY PAYCHECK; HASIL ADKINS ; ZODIAC KILLERS ; REVEREND CHARLIE JACKSON ; "UGLY THINGS" magazine ; LEFTOVERS ; MAESTROS & DIPSOS ; MO-DETTES; SON HOUSE; ZOOMERS; “VINYL JUNKIES – ADVENTURES IN RECORD COLLECTING”; THE DWARVES; "WHAT'S WITH THE HIPPY DIP TRIP?"; "WHAT'S WITH THE HIPPY DIP TRIP, PART TWO"; KENT 3; COME "Car" ; FINAL SOLUTIONS ; THE BOTTOM 10, CIRCA 1985-1989 ; PINETOPPERS ; THIRTEENTH FLOOR ELEVATORS ; THE ULTIMATE POST-PUNK C90 ; VELVET UNDERGROUND : "SCREEN TEST: FALLING IN LOVE WITH THE FALLING SPIKES" ; AMERICAN HARDCORE HALL OF FAME ; THE CLEAN "Oddities" ; THE CORPORATE RUBBER CHICKEN CIRCUIT ; ELEGY FOR TOWER RECORDS ; PONYS ; DIAMANDA GALAS ; NUMBERS ; “DOWN IN THE BASEMENT : JOE BUSSARD’S TREASURE TROVE OF VINTAGE 78s, 1926-1937" ; VINCEBUS ERUPTUM ; ERASE ERRATA ; CAT POWER ; LESTER BANGS ; DENGUE FEVER ; OVERRATED: WAYLON JENNINGS ; SWA ; THE FALL "Live At The Witch Trials" ; NEON BOYS ; SUPERCHARGER ; THE LOST RECORDS OF THE DIGITAL AGE ; PUSSY GALORE ; VELVET UNDERGROUND "Bootleg Series" ; SCREAMERS/WEIRDOS ; MODEY LEMON ; MISFITS ; Interview with CLINT CONLEY (Mission of Burma) ; KRONOS QUARTET ; FLESH EATERS "No Questions Asked" ; JOANNA NEWSOM ; SLITS ; FLIPPER ; TOWNES VAN ZANDT ; DAVIE ALLAN & THE ARROWS ; KINKS "Arthur" ; AVENGERS ; DMZ ; THE KIWI ANIMAL ; NAUTICAL ALMANAC ; SPK ; OBLIVIANS ; THE JONESES ; SHOES THIS HIGH ; MONSTER MAGNET ; VERTICAL SLIT ; GIANT SAND ; VKTMS ; NICO ; SKIP JAMES "1930 - The Complete Early Recordings" ; RED CROSS ; JOHNNY & THE SELF-ABUSERS ; "GOD LESS AMERICA" ; PINK FLOYD ; JOHNNY REBEL; "THE MAYOR OF THE SUNSET STRIP"; MONOSHOCK; FLESH EATERS "Hard Road To Follow"; CAMERA OBSCURA; ROBERT WILKINS; THE CHATTERBOX; JOHN FAHEY; FIERY FURNACES live; FIERY FURNACES "Gallowsbird's Bark"; IMPACT ALL-STARS; CRIME reunion show (live); THE DONNAS ; 100 FLOWERS ; "THE SECRET MUSEUM OF MANKIND -- NORTH AFRICA" ; DADAMAH ; "CHARRED REMAINS" ; TALES OF TERROR ; THE FORGOTTEN CLASSICS OF 1980s GARAGE ; LINK WRAY ; AGONY SHORTHAND'S BEST OF 2004 ; CHRIS D. AND THE DIVINE HORSEMEN ; PRIMITIVE SHIT ROCK ; MIDNIGHT CIRCUS ; HAMPTON GREASE BAND ; STEVE TREATMENT ; SCIENTIST ; YOUNG MARBLE GIANTS ; BASSHOLES ; VASHTI BUNYAN ; THE CRAMPS ; A-FRAMES "Black Forest" ; LIGHTNIN' HOPKINS ; MENTALLY ILL ; RUTTO ; BLACK FLAG ; SKIP SPENCE ; Interview with ALICE BAG ; MEAN RED SPIDERS ; ICKY BOYFRIENDS ; WACKIES : "AFRICAN ROOTS, ACT 1" ; THE TOP TWELVE 45s FROM THE FOURTH WAVE OF PUNK ; "THE FUTURE OF THE MUSIC DORK IN THE DIGITAL AGE" ; ROKY ERICKSON & THE ALIENS ; PRIMITIVE CALCULATORS ; DAVID ALLAN COE ;; RAMONES "End of the Century" DVD ; LAUGHING HYENAS ; TAR BABIES ; LEE "SCRATCH" PERRY ; THE PONYS / THE GRIS GRIS / PLASTIC CRIMEWAVE SOUND, live ; 45 GRAVE ; "DiG!" DVD ; JOY DIVISION ; ZIPPER ; MIDDLE CLASS ; PISSED JEANS ; SHEER SMEGMA ; COACHWHIPS ; DAVID KATZ : "SOLID FOUNDATION: AN ORAL HISTORY OF REGGAE" book ; GUIDED BY VOICES ; SCREAMIN' MEE-MEES ; THE GIRLS ; MORLOCKS ; "WE JAM ECONO : THE STORY OF THE MINUTEMEN" ; OVERRATED : THE HOMOSEXUALS ; BUSH TETRAS ; “THE MUSIC OF KENTUCKY, VOLUME 2" ; JOSEPHINE FOSTER & THE SUPPOSED ; 1980s-90s FANZINES REVISITED ENTIRELY FROM MEMORY, VOL. 1 ; CIRCLE JERKS ; THE SCIENTISTS ; TIME FLYS ; MAGICK MARKERS ; QUINCY PUNKS, CHiPS PUNKS & WALLY GEORGE ; THE EX ; MISS ALEX WHITE & THE RED ORCHESTRA ; CHROME ; "KEATS RIDES A HARLEY" ; TIMES NEW VIKING ; ANIMALS & MEN ; SCRATCH ACID ; “LEXICON DEVIL: THE FAST TIMES AND SHORT LIFE OF DARBY CRASH AND THE GERMS” ; VELVET UNDERGROUND "Caught Between The Twisted Stars" ; ROLLING STONES / METALLICA live ; "Best Covers" list ; AGONY SHORTHAND BEST OF 2005 ; THEE MIGHTY CAESARS ; DANNY & DUSTY ; “RIP IT UP AND START AGAIN : POST-PUNK 1978-84” ; INFLATABLE BOY CLAMS ; IMPACT ALL STARS "Java Java Java Java" ; RICHARD MELTZER : "A WHORE JUST LIKE THE REST - THE MUSIC WRITINGS OF RICHARD MELTZER" ; ZINES OF THE 80s-90s, RECONSTRUCTED FROM MERE MEMORY, PART TWO ; DEATH OF SAMANTHA ; KRIMINELLA GITARRER ; WET HOT AMERICAN HEAVY METAL ADOLESCENCE ; NIG HEIST ; DELTA 5 "Singles and Sessions" ; "BE HERE TO LOVE ME - A FILM ABOUT TOWNES VAN ZANDT" ; PUBLIC IMAGE LTD. ; YOU TUBE MANIA ; THE MUMMIES ; CURSE OF THE BIRTHMARK ; THE RAPIDSHARE CONNUNDRUM ; "FONOTONE RECORDS - FREDERICK, MARYLAND" ; FLESH EATERS live 2006 ; CHEATER SLICKS "Don't Like You" demos ; DEBRIS ; “ONE KISS CAN LEAD TO ANOTHER : GIRL GROUP SOUNDS LOST AND FOUND”; CLAW HAMMER; ELECTRIC EELS; OPAL; Interview with Mike Atta (MIDDLE CLASS); WOODEN SHJIPS
Friday, September 15, 2006
HUMAN INSTINCT : “STONED GUITAR” LP/CD......
Wow. I’ll be honest, during the great private-press psychedelic freakout 70s LP resurrection boom of the early 1990s, I pretty much sat on the sidelines with my hands folded on my lap. I put out a magazine called Superdope back then, and a friend named Doug Pearson did all the dirty work of ordering & paying for the re-presses of these records from the nascent Forced Exposure mailorder & then writing them up for my mag. I liked a few of them, but it wasn’t really my bag, and I dismissed most of the bogus excitement as the typical bored record collector shenanigans. I could’ve sworn I’d actually heard the HUMAN INSTINCT “Stoned Guitar” record back then, but then if I had, I would’ve been blown clean away by “Black Sally”, the howling aggro-psych/metal gutpuncher that starts this terrific record off, and then I would’ve told you all about it.
I only got the good word on this 1970 LP again – after years of seeing frothing references to this New Zealand-based act’s Maori guitarist Billy T.K., and remembering that VERMONSTER, a Crystallized Movements spin-off band, covered some of this on an LP years back – after reading a back issue of GALACTIC ZOO DOSSIER a few weeks ago. I think it may have even been one of those “guitar hero trading cards” he included in the last couple of issues. The description of the record “Stoned Guitar” intrigued me, so I set about a-searchin’ for it on the Interweb. Sure enough, there it was – and here it is. The record, while not a masterpiece by any stretch (it would have been if all the songs had been “Black Sally”), is still a huge find. Wide-open, swooshing fuzz is all over the place here, and the entire band is totally locked in on the hard & heavy acid jams (right onnnn!). Most are long-ish psych rumbles that have a defined place for Billy T.K. to go absolutely bananas on the fuzz pedals, and go bananas he does. The title track is outrageously loud & will clear the dust off your speakers but good.....but then there’s also a little somethin’ for the ladies too, a pretty lil’ Bic-lighter-friendly ballad called “Tomorrow”. I think the last track, “Railway & Gun”, which returns to the screaming leads & clattering drums of the others, is actually a live number. It’s hard to believe this was locked out of my consciousness for all these years, but it’s my mistake, and I’m hoping you join me in belated Bacchanalian celebration of its charms.
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
TELEVISION : “POOR CIRCULATION” CD.......
Some well-intentioned knucklehead was insinuating in the comments box of my Top 100 LP’s post from a couple weeks ago that no one really listens to TELEVISION; they’re just a band that critics & pretenders like me like to put in lists because we think we’re supposed to. Or something along those lines. I sort of know from whence such hostile musings spring, actually; there’ve been times, particularly when listening to “Adventure” or even sometimes to the mediocre Side 2 of “Marquee Moon”, when I’ve wondered about the band myself. Then I remember that throughout the back half of the 80s, after discovering “Marquee Moon”, the “Little Johnny Jewel” 45 and ROIR’s “The Blow-Up” cassette, how I played my Television records/tapes into the ground, and how I then bought an incredible bootleg LP of early recordings with Richard Hell on bass called “Double Exposure”, and then called the band one of my all-time favorites. For real. About 6-7 years ago my pal JB fried me up two CD bootlegs of 1974-75 Television that I loved – one was the expanded CD version of “Double Exposure”; the other was this Punk Vault bootleg of rehearsal/demo recordings (with a few live bonuses) called “Poor Circulation”. Both showcase a much different and more rocking Television than the version we’re more faimiliar with – far more NEON BOYS than “Marquee Moon” for sure.
You’d be forgiven if you thought such a Television never existed, but they did. With the ham-handed bassist Hell on board, this Television, the 1974-75 sixties garage-influenced rock and roll band behind “Poor Circulation”, were a pretty exhilarating combo. You can listen as Tom Verlaine and Richard Lloyd learn how to play guitar together, and I of course mean together in the kinship sense of the word, because on tracks like “Excitement” and the rip-roarin’ “Hard On Love” the two maestros are already starting to get their double-headed guitar beast groove on. I should probably just give you the track listing now so you can see how transitional it is; only a couple of these were in the set just 2 years later and only one made it to “Marquee Moon”:
Eat The Light / Venus De Milo / Excitement / I'm Gonna Find You / Horizontal Ascensions / Close up / You Rip My Feelings Out / Hard On Love / Excitement / Judy / Psychotic Reaction / What I Heard / Change your Channels / Double Exposure / Fuck Rock & Roll / U.F.O. / Poor Circulation / Blank Generation / Come On In
There is one on here – I think it’s “U.F.O.” – where the soaring Verlaine guitar lead near the end was totally copped for the song that became “Marquee Moon”, so these guys weren’t beyond wholesale swipes from their own catalog and complete shufflings of riffs, notes, and patterns between their various songs. I like it. “Poor Circulation” is much more raw and punkish than the popular stereotype of the band, and goes a long way toward explaining why the writers of the day had no quarrel with calling them punks from the word go. That might look strange from our 2006 vantage point, but makes a lot of sense when you hear this excellent bootleg. If you get a chance to hear “Double Exposure”, too, by all means – run, don’t walk, ‘cause it’s even better.
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
MIKE REP & THE QUOTAS : “MAMA WAS A SCHITZO, DADDY WAS A VEGETABLE MAN / ROCKET MUSIC ON” 45.....
I plopped this on the turntable this past weekend and was again blown to friggin’ kingdom come by its glory. These 1975-76 recordings from original recipe proto-punk space teleporters MIKE REP & THE QUOTAS were lost to the wilds of history until Jacob Olausson's Sverige Age Records in Sweden brought them to life again in 2002 – and you know what? These two tracks are every bit as raw, wild & grimy as Rep’s original legit 45 “Rocket To Nowhere” – and if you know that one, you know it’s an all-time freak-rock knockout. Both of these tracks are mono, shit-fi productions before there was any cachet in such a thing, but Rep pretty much wrote the book on making ends greatly exceed the means, starting here. So when you listen to “Mama...” you hear drums that are every bit as heavy and echoing as Bonzo’s – and louder. The force of a thousand amps projecting simple, screaming chords into space is as alive as any other punk, pre-punk or proto-punk whatsis of the 70s. I guess the real true heavy metalloid music of the era was being created in places like Hamilton, Ontario; Chickasaw, Oklahoma and REP's Columbus, Ohio - not NY, SF and LA. Please, do what you can to track this 45 down – I know Goner’s got some.....
Monday, September 11, 2006
SAPAT : “TONGUE-TIED & STAID” 7”EP......
This collective of Kentucky cornballs are part of the next wave of Siltbreeze Records signees, and to my ears they fit in perfectly – which is to say nowhere else. Imagine the 1978 CHILD MOLESTERS with access to shorted-out & far-gone primitive keyboards, during a little extracurricular jammin’ in the practice space whilst shrooming – at least that’s the vision I get during the three tracks. “Krackhaus Blooze” starts out like a psychedelic road hog with exploding guitar everywhere, then gets a little jazzbo and Beefheartian from there. The rest of the record then goes more “free” from that point, in the sense that the ascending heaven-climbing clatter of the STOOGES’ “LA Blues” was “free”. A creepy dirty-uncle vocalist sort of weighs in from time to time, but you’re never really sure what he’s going on about. I like it, I just don’t wanna marry it yet.
Friday, September 08, 2006
"LAUREL CANYON - THE INSIDE STORY OF ROCK & ROLL'S LEGENDARY NEIGHBORHOOD" by Michael Walker.......
"Quick" , I asked my wife, "what do you think of when I say 'Laurel Canyon'?". She replied, "Um, Mulholland Drive. Fires. That lame movie we saw". Not bad. Me, my first associations with this Los Angeles neighborhood center around the "cocaine cowboys" of mid-1970s rock, your Eagles, your Pocos, your J.D. Southers, and all them baddies. The tales of those guys spinning out of control and getting their comeuppance under the sway of the coke spoon have always captivated me, and when I picked this book up in a store recently and started flipping through it, I alighted upon a well-written, very funny section about Doug Weston's Troubadour (a legendary LA club for "singer-songwriters", and later, hair metal bands), and all the coke fiends lined up outside the door and in the club. I bought it on the spot.
Mind you, despite many trips in and around LA over the years, I can't say that I've ever knowingly been to the Laurel Canyon neighborhood. After reading the book I think I may have hidden in its hills with friends to drink alcohol before a show, given its close proximity to the "Sunset Strip" and all the clubs, but I could be wrong. It's a big-ass city, you know. Walker spends the first third of the book building up the mythos of the place. a true oasis of country life in the big city, and its status as the ground-zero nexus of hippie/folkie LA in the 60s -the place where THE BYRDS "took flyte" (ouch), where the abominable CROSBY, STILLS & NASH got it goin' on, where earth mother JONI MITCHELL nursed her flock, and where FRANK ZAPPA did some legendary time hosting a cavalcade of flipped-out freaks. Walker, who lives in the neighborhood still, and obviously reveres it, is quite taken with the harmonic covergence of all these types to the same patch of real estate around the same rough time (1965-69), and the neighborhood's larger place in a crazed but deeply meaningful time for those who were coming of age during the exploding era of sex/drugs/rock. It's pretty obvious that if you weren't there, and I wasn't, you missed something pretty goddamn fun.
To Walker's credit, he wanders out of the 'hood frequently into greater Los Angeles to tell a much bigger story - actually more a collection of funny, color-filled anecdotes & recollections that illustrates the LA rock scene of the time very well. Sure, he leans too much on CSN&Y and their place in it all, but I guess he's not the first nor last to dig their mellow sounds, for whatever reason. The book ends the 60s section with the bummer trifecta of Manson, Woodstock and Altamont, and then the fun really begins. The chapters on 1970s LA & Laurel Canyon's place in it all, which make up the entire rest of the book, contain pretty much all the wacky cocaine hijinks you can handle. The first time I ever really paid attention to music as a kid, The Eagles were all the rage ("Hotel California" era), and I hated them from day one. Out or respect or deference or lack of good stories, they don't get top billing in Walker's tales of excess and wanton greed during the LA "cocaine era", but it's all a great read nonetheless, and even in the limited space he gives them, Henley & Frey & co. come off as buffoons. Groupies like Morgana Welch and Sable Starr are profiled & quoted throughout, with side trips to Rodney's English Disco and to Led Zeppelin's hotel rooms. The punk era, once it arrives, is barely mentioned, except for the metaphorical power it held in driving all the crass, flash & drug-driven Hollywood idiots out of the picture. That's not exavtly the way I'd heard it told before, but there you go.
Now I will take Walker to task for referring to the site of Altamont (Livermore -- deep, deep in the San Francisco Bay Area's eastern flank) as "what is now known as Silicon Valley" - as my wife said, "If he's making mistakes that huge and the editors are letting them through, how can you believe any of this book?" -- but I still found this thing a total blast to read. Brisk, entertaining, full of larger-than-life characters, and with an exceptionally small amount of ass-kissing, I found it hard to put down - and thus plowed through three-quarters of it to finish only last night. I just know I'm now going to drive into the Canyon next time I'm up there, too, if only to stop by the site of the Wonderland Avenue murder (John C. Holmes, anybody?) or to check out where Tom Mix's horse is buried.
Thursday, September 07, 2006
VARIOUS ARTISTS : “KILLED BY TRASH” LP.....
You know, I don’t think I have had a single “tribute” record or CD sitting around in my collection for years, until this one showed up unannounced recently. If there’s any sort of tribute/cover collection I can get my hands around & lustily applaud, it’s a comp of a bunch of modern, energized punk bands bashing the crap out of late 70s/early 80s KBD masterpieces, but I also was pretty certain it’d still be pretty lame. Every juggernaut speed demon these days has a repertoire-filler or set-closer that includes a “Bummer Bitch” or a “Radiation Masturbation”, and like clockwork, these chesnuts get hauled out during encores while the band drunkenly leaps around the stage & fukks shit up to the oldies. Awesome! Yet this one still is kind of neat, depending on which act is doing the rocking. I’m partial to the excellent run-through of the Wipers’ “Better Off Dead” from DIGGER & THE PUSSYCATS – these guys nail the song’s moody, raw chord shifts, and have better vocals than Greg Sage to boot. Another hot one is the screeching “Just Head” from the previously unknown (to me) LOS RAW GOSPELS – other than a burst of very 21st-century unholy feedback toward the middle, this could easily have been a lost 1981 classic itself. Great work, fellas. THE CARBONAS do a fast and traditional “Don’t Hide Your Hate”, maybe the best original recipe Dutch punk song ever (by FILTH, in case you’re asking), that I really like – and the HEARTATTACKS one-up them and tackle the hotwired Swedish rave-up “Jag Ska Aldrig Do” (DR. ZEKE) in Swedish, like true professionals. The bottom falls out when BLACK TIME contribute a limp and tasteless “Son of Sam” (Chain Gang) – it’s awfully telling that these guys chose the one early punk cover JON SPENCER already did – and when JEFFREY NOVAK just murders “I Hate Music”, a little too obvious of a choice, I’m thinking. You’re not getting anything revolutionary if you spend 30 minutes pogoing to this thing, but if you can close your eyes & pretend you haven’t heard the originals before, then it’s maybe the fourth or fifth best punk rock comp of the year.
Wednesday, September 06, 2006
VARIOUS ARTISTS : "THE PARAMOUNT MASTERS" 4xCD box set.....
Wow, the expiration of copyright up to about the mid-1950s is really something, isn't it? Long after the original artists and owners of their songs have done passed on, reissue houses like JSP RECORDS continue to bring out riches by the batch, often unheard & certainly never collected in such sheer abundance. Their CHARLEY PATTON and CARTER FAMILY sets sorta beg the question as to why you'd fork out quintuple the price on other versions of the same songs - though I certainly do understand why - and the same goes with tracking down each & every tidbit released by the all-important Wisconsin-based Paramount label, which specialized in some of the more raw & venerable "race records" of the 1920s and 30s. Been meaning to get this one for some time, as it purports to be the biggest & best collection of Paramount recordings ever assembled (including many making their way to LP or CD for the first time), but my quest was imbued with a new sense of urgency when I heard the incredible KING SOLOMON HILL ("Whoopee Blues") on Yazoo's recent "THE STUFF THAT DREAMS ARE MADE OF - SUPER RARITIES & UNISSUED GEMS OF THE 1920s & '30s" 2xCD.
The Hill stuff is terrific, achingly raw and soporific blues of the highest grade. Took me a while to sit down and write about the whole collection, though, because it's 100 songs and it's quite an effort to critically seperate the wheat from the chaff without a ton of repeat listening. Since a session with all 4 discs takes well over five hours, I'll own up that I don't quite have this one memorized yet. I find that my key impressions of it are that it has a lot more balladry, barrelhouse blues (even MA RAINEY herself makes an appearance) and skillit-lickin' hot jazz than I expected, though deep blues, gospel and nascent country are still the norm here. Some names you might recognize include GEECHIE WILEY (also known as GEESHIE WILEY); BO WEEVIL JACKSON; CHARLEY PATTON (doing the churchy chesnut "I Shall Not Be Moved") ; ED BELL; and the great pianist ROOSEVELT SYKES. The quality meter slips up and down over the course of the discs, and at times it's fourth-tier stuff that's on here for completist reasons than any inherent nod to quality. I must say that I expected the whole package to move me a little more, but it's OK nonetheless, and for just over $28 for the whole thing, it's not too much to ask to wade through some muck to get to the pearls. The last 3 blues/old-time comps I've purchased before this one ("American Primitive Vol. 2", "Good For What Ails You" and the aforementioned "Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of") were all so great, however, that I'd recommend going to those first & saving this one for dessert.
Friday, September 01, 2006
THE AGONY SHORTHAND 100.......
A handful of times in my life, I've been asked to compile a "top albums" or "Desert Island Discs" sort of list, and usually it's pretty easy to get me to acquiesce to such a request. I'm nothing if not willing to foist my musical opinions on others, and if it gets anyone else to dig deeper into the stuff I already like, well then - how about that. We've talked before in this forum about the sort of pathologies that drive individuals to keep such lists in their noggins, and chances are if you're reading this site it all seems perfectly natural to you, as it does me. Yet I can only usually rattle off 20 classics or so at a time - the life-changers, the ones usually discovered in the teenage years or just thereafter that set you/me on the fanatic course we still cling to. So I decided to go deeper. 100 is a nice number, why not go there? Thus here sits the Agony Shorthand 100 - the hundred best rock and roll albums of all time, or at least the ones I'd save from flames had I the time to meticulously sort through the alphabetized stacks & pull 'em out. In order. Like a true dork.
The only rules for the list are that they have to be "rock" records (bending the rules slightly for 2 John Fahey albums), they have to have been LPs that came out during the artist's lifetime as an official LP (no greatest hits or posthumous collections allowed), and they have to be righteous & amazing. They also have to represent an honest accounting of my favorites - seriously, I could have thrown on some ultra-obscurities to impress you (even though they wouldn't have) but that'd be cheating, right? So there's a lot of Velvet Underground & Stones & Fall & Flesh Eaters in here - because those are my favorite bands when ya get down to it. Maybe yours too. Oh yeah - EPs are allowed. Why not? I also reserve the right to revise the list ten years from now, but I have to say, my list ten years ago would've looked a lot like this one (minus CAN and THE KINKS, both of whom I’m a late convert to). I'm almost locked in. I'm sure I forgot a few - perhaps you can enlighten me as to what those were. Enjoy - and please go buy the ones you don't have tomorrow!
1. FLESH EATERS – “A Minute To Pray, A Second To Die”
2. VELVET UNDERGROUND – “The Velvet Underground and Nico”
3. ROLLING STONES – “Exile on Main Street”
4. THE STOOGES – “Funhouse”
5. VARIOUS ARTISTS – “Yes L.A.”
6. GUN CLUB – “Fire of Love”
7. VELVET UNDERGROUND – “White Light/White Heat”
8. DREAM SYNDICATE – “The Days of Wine and Roses”
9. BIG STAR – “Radio City”
10. PERE UBU – “The Modern Dance”
11. THE FALL – “Hex Enduction Hour”
12. COME – “Eleven : Eleven”
13. THIRTEENTH FLOOR ELEVATORS – “Easter Everywhere”
14. ROLLING STONES – “Beggars’ Banquet”
15. MODERN LOVERS – “Modern Lovers”
16. THE STOOGES – “The Stooges”
17. BLACK FLAG – “Damaged”
18. DIE KREUZEN – “Die Kreuzen”
19. WIRE – “Pink Flag”
20. FLESH EATERS – “Forever Came Today”
21. MEAT PUPPETS – “II”
22. RAMONES – “Ramones”
23. RED CROSS - "Born Innocent"
24. CAPTAIN BEEFHEART & THE MAGIC BAND – “Trout Mask Replica”
25. VELVET UNDERGROUND – “The Velvet Underground” (3rd)
26. MISSION OF BURMA – “Vs.”
27. THE FALL – “Slates”
28. THE CRAMPS – “Songs The Lord Taught Us”
29. NEIL YOUNG – “Zuma”
30. GIBSON BROS – “Big Pine Boogie”
31. THE GERMS – “(GI)”
32. SYD BARRETT – “The Madcap Laughs”
33. SUPERCHARGER – “Goes Way Out!”
34. CIRCLE JERKS – “Group Sex”
35. FLESH EATERS – “Hard Road to Follow”
36. ROLLING STONES – “Let It Bleed”
37. VELVET UNDERGROUND – “Loaded”
38. NEW YORK DOLLS – “New York Dolls”
39. DINOSAUR – “You’re Living All Over Me”
40. MINUTEMEN – “Double Nickels on the Dime”
41. JOHN FAHEY – “The Legend Of Blind Joe Death”
42. TELEVISION – “Marquee Moon”
43. PINK FLOYD – “Piper At The Gates of Dawn”
44. THE SONICS – “Here Are The Sonics”
45. FLESH EATERS – “No Questions Asked”
46. MC5 – “Kick Out The Jams”
47. TALES OF TERROR – “Tales of Terror”
48. WIRE – “Chairs Missing”
49. CAPTAIN BEEFHEART & THE MAGIC BAND – “Safe As Milk”
50. ROXY MUSIC – “Roxy Music”
51. THE STOOGES – “Raw Power”
52. UNION CARBIDE PRODUCTIONS – “In The Air Tonight”
53. THE SAINTS – “Eternally Yours”
54. RAMONES – “Leave Home”
55. CAPTAIN BEEFHEART & THE MAGIC BAND – “Mirror Man”
56. NEIL YOUNG – “Tonight’s The Night”
57. X – “Aspirations”
58. MISSION OF BURMA – “Signals, Calls and Marches”
59. THE FALL – “Grostesque”
60. HAMPTON GREASE BAND – “Music To Eat”
61. ROXY MUSIC – “For Your Pleasure”
62. BIRTHDAY PARTY – “Junkyard”
63. CHEATER SLICKS – “Whiskey”
64. THE FALL – “Perverted By Language”
65. THE AVENGERS – “The Avengers” (White Noise EP)
66. LOVE – “Forever Changes”
67. PATTI SMITH GROUP – “Radio Ethiopia”
68. CAN – “Tago Mago”
69. THE KINKS – “Something Else”
70. THE GORIES – “I Know You Fine, But How You Doin’”
71. JOHNNY THUNDERS & THE HEARTBREAKERS – “L.A.M.F.”
72. MINUTEMEN – “The Punch Line”
73. JOHN FAHEY – “The Transfiguration of Blind Joe Death”
74. THE DONNAS – “The Donnas”
75. GUIDED BY VOICES – “Alien Lanes”
76. GIANT SAND – “Glum”
77. ROXY MUSIC – “Country Life”
78. WORLD OF POOH – “The Land of Thirst”
79. THE SCIENTISTS – “Blood Red River”
80. VARIOUS ARTISTS – “Tooth and Nail”
81. THE CLEAN – “Boodle Boodle Boodle”
82. BRIAN ENO – “Here Come The Warm Jets”
83. NEIL YOUNG – “On The Beach”
84. YOUNG MARBLE GIANTS – “Colossal Youth”
85. SONIC YOUTH – “Sister”
86. CAN – “Soundtracks”
87. HUSKER DU – “Everything Falls Apart”
88. CAPTAIN BEEFHEART & THE MAGIC BAND – “Strictly Personal”
89. X – “Los Angeles”
90. FAITH/VOID – “Faith/Void”
91. THE KINKS – “Arthur”
92. THE BANGLES – “The Bangles EP”
93. NIGHT KINGS – “Increasing Our High”
94. SWELL MAPS – “ A Trip To Marineville”
95. GREEN ON RED – “Green On Red”
96. THE FALL – “Room To Live”
97. CLAW HAMMER – “Claw Hammer”
98. HIGH RISE – “High Rise II”
99. NEIL YOUNG– “Everybody Knows This is Nowhere”
100. NEU – “Neu!”
Thursday, August 31, 2006
DOCUMENTARY TRAILERS FOR 80'S UNDERGROUND MUSIC JERKS.....both coming to theaters in the next couple of months:
"Not A Photograph: The Mission of Burma Story"
THE REVOLUTIONARIES : “REACTION IN DUB” LP......
One of the many Rapidshare sites devoted to sharing vinyl-only obscurities posted this one up early in the summer, and it’s my pick for dub discovery of the year. THE REVOLUTIONARIES, in case ya didn’t know, were the premier backing back at the Channel One studio during the 1970s, the heyday of reggae and dub. Some fellas from this band even you punk rockers may be familiar with are Sly Dunbar (drums), Robbie Shakespeare (bass & rhythm guitar), Tommy McCook (tenor sax), Ansel Collins (keyboards) and a passel of other righteous herb smokers. The 1978 LP “Reaction in Dub” is what my pal Mark might subtly call “tear your face off dub”, in that it is really, really low and deep. Time slows to a total crawl in its presence, as echoes shoot off every surface and elliptical horn travels jarringly through the ear canal. Vocals, when they are present, cut off mid sentence and everything drops out for minutes at a time, with only the bass present. Who were the mixmasters present at the creation, you ask? Why, none other than Channel One head honchos the Hoo Kim brothers and no one but. No Tubby, no Scratch Perry, no Scientist – none of the guys everyone gets all hopped up about, and yet this single 8-song effort is as fine a head-shifter as any of theirs. One REVOLUTIONARIES record/CD I’ve never checked out but heard fine things about is “Earthquake Dub”, also from ’78. Anyone know the good word on that one?
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
DON HOWLAND : "THE LAND BEYOND THE MOUNTAINS" CD......
It's a sure pleasure to hear such a fine piece of work from DON HOWLAND, a perennial favorite around here. Until I started researching it, I thought this was his brand-new record, but it looks like it came out in 2002 and our office staff failed to alert me. Well - if ya missed it......this easily the best record of Don's since 1998's "When My Blue Moon Turns Red Again" from the BASSHOLES, 45s or otherwise, and it refreshingly answers a couple of questions I was having about the man during my many meditation sessions. First, I was thinking that Howland's voice had maybe irreperably moved up a couple of octaves into this Chipmunk-ish sort of whine, and that was kind of the way he was going to sing from now on. Not true. I just think he does that to piss me off. Secondly, and similarly, a few of those Bassholes records were entering the realm of don't-give-a-shit experimentalisms, tape cut-ups & other random pissings in the wind, and while "The Land Beyond The Mountains" ain't exactly "Rocket To Russia", it's creatively bent into so many great parts it makes a terrificly wacked whole.
Howland plays the frustrated, horndog middle-age guy better than anyone, and says in his songs what you're (and I'm) often thinking. "Desdemona", a song about the married-man burden of shame & lust that is ever-present in the presence of good-looking women (the ones who aren't your wife), has one of my new favorite couplets ever: "She's got pigtails like Pippi Longstocking / Nose ring, to show she's rocking" . The CD's got the feel of a bored, pissed-off LEE HAZLEWOOD, one who's not looking to be particularly funny & clever, and who would probably shy away and hide if enough folks (say, a few dozen) got rabidly interested in his music. Strange tunings, lonesome guitar, eerie voices and all that - but to say there's zero connection to the drunken, amped-up, leg-humping blues of Don's 80s/early 90s band THE GIBSON BROS would be untrue. It's there; it'll always be there. I was quite honestly surprised at how many times I've been wanting to play this record - back-to-back-to-back when I can - and I hope the man can & will continue in this distant & detuned vein as the 21st century unfolds.
Monday, August 28, 2006
THE SPRING OF MY WHITE ZOMBIE......
I did my “undergrad work” at a beachfront college in Santa Barbara, CA, and one of the perks of being located where we were was that it was the perfect place for a touring band with a day off between San Francisco and Los Angeles to park themselves for a night. As it so happened, I had the 8-10pm DJ shift on KCSB-FM on Wednesday nights, and we had an aggressive music director (Eric Stone, now residing in where-are-they-now files) who was a total success at grabbing these bands from the road & plopping them down for a live in-studio set on my show. One such show was released on vinyl & CD as “Radio Cowgirl” by the LAZY COWGIRLS – though this session actually interrupted someone else’s show, not mine. Stone came to me one day in May 1988 & told me that WHITE ZOMBIE were going to come to the station to play on my show, and at the time, that was kind of a coup. White Zombie were cresting the wave of lots of noise/grunge-era hype emanating from their new low-print-run record “Soul Crusher” and their previous mini-LP “Psycho-Head Blowout”, which was already out of print & a collector’s item a year after it came out. Their sound at the time was a brutal, dissonant clatterfest that was somewhere between out-and-out rocking and completely unlistenable nonsense.
Once they arrived at the station, it was obvious that a publicist had put them up to this, because the NY ‘tude they were throwing off was off the charts. The tigress of a bass player “Sean” was pretty friendly, the drummer & longhaired guitarist were completely unmemorable, and “Rob Zombie” – wow. After one song, he sighed and muttered into the mic, “Hoooomph. Why are we here?”, and wouldn’t look anyone in the eye the whole time. And on a nice May evening in Santa Barbara, he was wearing a trench coat and compleat grunge garb. Full-on junkie behavior, but I'm sure that wasn't it. I saw him holding a flyer from the band’s show in Seattle a couple days earlier & saw that the brand-new Mark Arm/Steve Turner band MUDHONEY had opened for them; I asked him how they were & he spat back with condescension “Hooomph. Good – if you like Green River”. You ever met a musician like this before? A full-blown rock star in their own mind? Ironically this guy did in fact became a rock star only a few years later, and I never in a million years would have imagined it at the time given White Zombie’s unrelenting, caterwauling, noise-laden sound. I guess they timed their ascent in tandem with that of “nu-metal”. and went through some serious sell-out sound changes & milked it to the top, but I’ve honestly barely heard that stuff outside of the ubiquitous “More Human Than Human”.
On my radio show in '88, however, and please believe me when I say this – they were fantastic. I have a tape somewhere, and I remember that they were absolutely massive toward the end, when they played a wild original that was louder than loud – like the first-LP DIE KREUZEN (here I go again) playing BLUE CHEER backwards, sideways and in Esperanto. Then they followed it up with a cover of KISS’s “Rocket Ride” – and although Kiss might just be the lamest band of all time, it was fantastic. So pumped up from this experience, I took the bass player’s advice and went to their show in Los Angeles that weekend. It was at a floating, no-fixed-address club called “Alcohol Salad”, and this time it was located downtown, in the heart of skid row. Those of you that know LA know that in the 1980s, downtown was not just a terrifying place, it was simply not an area where nightlife ever happened. Anyway, we made it from the car to the club & back alive, and good thing too as White Zombie were (again) on fire. At the time I called it “one of the best shows I’ve ever seen”, which sounds ridiculous now, but I’m telling you, there was so much raw energy & crazed balls-out guitar fireworks going on, I instantly anointed the previously ignored guitarist Tom Guay my new rock hero. Rob Zombie did a couple of complete back flips in the course of the evening’s entertainment, the crowd went wild, and it was really some kind of happening. For one night, we were all New Yorkers. I don’t know what got me thinking about this band today, but I figured maybe you too might have your own White Zombie tales to tell, good or ill.
Friday, August 25, 2006
CLOROX GIRLS : "NOVACAINE" 7"EP......
Best wall-of-sound hook monster 45 I've heard since the first one from the FM KNIVES - power pop/punk is usually near the nadir of my listening priorities, but I've heard a few stone knockouts from Oakland's CLOROX GIRLS before, so I gave this one a whirl. I'm real glad I did. "Novacaine" has huge, cavernous hooks, harmonies, and a gi-normous burst of raw, explosive guitar. Terrific vocals, as well - if they're not humming this one down at Sam's Hof Brau 24/7 then I'm totally stumped. They're probably also pogoing to the blink-&-you-missed German-language blazer "Nicht Meine Stadt", and the closing "Trashy Daydream" is ultra-fine EYES/ZEROS-ish hard melodic punk as well. Nice work. I hear that it's just bang-bang-bang with these guys live as well, so maybe I ought to find an excuse to drive 20 minutes and check them out. This 45 is probably the ammo I need. You can get yours here!
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
FORCED EXPOSURE #7/8, SUMMER 1985.......
Continuing on with our waltz through the history of FORCED EXPOSURE magazine (see previous installments here and here), we come to a very important "double" issue from 1985, in which virtually all hardcore punk pretentions were shed, and the magazine dove in deep into the US noise underground. Byron Coley, before only a sometime contributor, was bumped up to "Jazz Editor", and in effect became part of the 2-man team with Jimmy Johnson that made Forced Exposure the 1980s force it was. It starts with an abysmal Lydia Lunch rant on the title page, such an over-the-top Kill!/Maim!/Destroy! fake-o nihilistic treatise I wouldn't have been surprised if she penned it in the margins of her Pee-Chee or Trapper Keeper. Unfortunately the FE guys fell for this woman hard - and I can kinda understand - but her non-physical talents were marginal at best, and she was treated like a deadly serious playwrite/author/spokesmodel for the sub-underground scene in the pages of FE. Her (and Michael Gira's) stories and plays in this issue are just beyond-belief awful. 21 years later, I can count the # of people I know who care about Lydia Lunch and her non-Teenage Jesus output on, hmm, let's see - no hands! That was this magazine's flaw during this period - supposing that "rock and roll people" were uniquely qualified to pen sort stories and write one-act plays, rather than simply be interviewed about the one thing they might have done well, which was rock. Particularly the more "confrontational" stuff from Gira and Lunch - did a mainstream or even a daring alternative indie press give any of this stuff the time of day outside of FE? No, because it was puerile and scatological and weak. This issue goes down hard on the SONIC YOUTH/SWANS/LYDIA axis, and that's cool, musically speaking. There really was no one else writing well about that vibrant & interesting slice of American noise in '85 (Conflict excepted, as always), and FE did it in a way that made one very excited to check it out & go record hunting immediately if not sooner.
This issue has a great interview and "fight" between Coley and NICK CAVE; big SONIC YOUTH interview; two CHRIS D.-penned stories (yay!); Steve Albini on some kiddie porn mag called "Pure" (a semi-legendary piece that he was taunted about for years afterward), as well as a thing he wrote on his own band, BIG BLACK; 2 Tesco Vee stories (whatever); SCIENTISTS interview; SAMHAIN interview (probably the only tangible connection to "hardcore" by this point) and an old resurrected interview with the VELVET UNDERGROUND. Byron Coley's hand is all over this issue, and his writing is peppered with the all the Meltzer-ish shortcuts he became famous for, like t' ("I have t' say") & r' & o' ("better n' a bucket o' blood") & d' (I forget). In a review of a Richard Meltzer book, Coley actually calls him "God", which is more than modest since I think Coley's subsequent music writing cleans Meltzer's clock.
Issue #7/8 is really where these guys started to pursue half-fake vendettas against other record collectors (see homo-baiting "Collector Scum Profile" on someone named Dylan Cole) and particuarly annoying scene members & hangers-on. When I was 19 I thought this shit was hilarious and exhilarating to read; it still sort of is now, but only in the sense that these magazines have become a part of my DNA, I've read them so many times. There's no doubt this issue is a classic, but it's still a ways away from "growing up" if you know what I mean. More in coming weeks.