Agony Shorthand

Thursday, February 27, 2003
CHECK BACK SOON.....I'm off on a work-related trip to Tokyo for the next 10 days, so I won't be able to post anything until I get back on Monday, March 10th. But don't erase your bookmark -- I will be back. Some big shows happening over there while I'm visiting that I'll be sure to tell you about -- next Tuesday it's Tampax, The Stalin and Kyu Sakamoto; Wednesday night I'll see High Rise, Shonen Knife and Pink Lady; and then Thursday night is a big one with Keiji Haino, Teengenerate, Acid Mothers Temple and Yellow Magic Orchestra. I'll let you know how it goes! UPDATE: Turns out that all these shows were a hoax! Some jerk told me this was going on -- and I came all this way, for what? The only show I see going on is Teenage Fanclub -- some band from the 80s!! In any event, I can post out here, and will begin doing so posthaste.

SYNTHPUNK.ORG....If you're a fan of late 70s/early 80s synth-based punk rock squawkers THE SCREAMERS, UNITS, VOICE FARM, TONE SET or NERVOUS GENDER, and you've never seen the exceptionally well done site, well, then that's what the link's for. This is a true labor of love and you can get lost in The Screamers' portion alone for hours.

HACKAMORE BRICK.....I have now finally heard, in its entirely, several times on repeated rotation, the oft-raved-about one album wonder HACKAMORE BRICK "One Kiss Leads To Another" LP from 1971. If you've ever been a reader of Chris Stigliano's Black To Comm or Tim Ellison's Modern Rock Magazine, you've seen the name. Here's the original Richard Meltzer review of the album. The record is great, redolent of all manner of heroic bands that were actually around when they were playing -- and afterward. I feel embarrassed drawing this comparison for the millionth time, but the fantastic title track sounds like -- yes! -- a hippie Velvet Underground circa the "Loaded" era, somewhat like if they'd plied their trade in Santa Cruz rather than Manhattan. It motors with that chugging, propulsive Velvets sound that has been intoxicating music freaks for years -- a truly stellar track that'll probably find its way onto every comp I make for others from here on. "Zip Gun Woman", another great, guitar-freakout number that closes the LP, sounds like the Patti Smith Group fronted by Simply Saucer's Edgar Breau. Much of the rest is laid-back rock and roll with a distinct sense of aggro when it's time for the guitar break, as well as first-rate vocals unmarred by any Brooklyn-ese (these guys were actually from that sceptered near-isle). There IS one on here that you can easily skip about "listenin' to the radio" ("Radio"); things go downhill fast from the opening line, "Oh, it's so groovy....". But no matter, Hackamore Brick deserve a CD reissue, I'm convinced. Someone get on that, OK?

Tuesday, February 25, 2003
THE DAY THAT LOS ANGELES MET ROCKET FROM THE TOMBS....I received a great re-cap a couple days ago of Sunday's Rocket From The Tombs show in Los Angeles from our LA correspondent. I decided to post it in full, since it's unlikely we'll be able to see this reunion ourselves. Here goes:

"Last night I saw the first performance since 1975 of Rocket From the Tombs at UCLA, featuring David Thomas, Gene O'Connor, Craig Bell and Richard Lloyd of Television in place of Peter Laughner. I think we all know the background vital stats via Chris. I have to hope that it was not a one-off (that they tour and play some club gigs) as it was one of the more HEAVY transcendent rock (punk/proto-metal????) events in recent memory. Super powerful and over the top. The avant-rock/noise breakdown during "30 Seconds" was mesmerizing with Gene and Richard's dueling guitars, as was Gene singing "Ain't It Fun," Craig Bell rocking the mic on a great version of "Muckraker" getting just right the Jean Genie vibe and Roxy Music/Hogan's Heroes "germanicisms," Gene's constant flow of awesome, mega J. Williamson style riffing, and of course Crocus being Crocus now minus the curly mop on his head and long coat but a BIG presence nevertheless. I can't remember which song now, but Thomas gave an off-hand shout out to Hawkwind as an inspiration (was CLE not one of thee biggest bastions of US Hawkwind fans c. 71-75? -- I guess most of the 1,000 copies UA sold were in the midwest).

Lloyd was great placed in a pretty hard to fill (unfillable, really) role. The Television connection was appropriate -- I doubt we will be seeing the "Poor Circulation" (i.e. the awesome R. Hell-era) Television live again and the existent video footage from Terry Ork's loft confirms that the Hell incarnation was one of the most exciting combos of the last several decades. It was weird, Lloyd playing with RFTT, a band that he last shared a bill with for two nights at the Piccadilly in '75.

We were up front and center and it was very weird having one of your favorite bands playing songs that have become DNA code from listening/obsessing to the RFTT tapes for the last decade and a half. Kind of one of those "what if I was transported to 1975 what would I want to see" moments. I dont know if everyone would concur with how good I thought it was -- filthy lucre it wasn't. I am assuming that others agreed as quite a few people took off after RFTT played and did not stick around for the Pere Ubu set - the thought crossed my mind as well. Understandable, but ultimately a mistake nevertheless. Afterwards, the whole thing was strange in that it happened at all - and now."

BS DETECTOR CRANKED UP REALLY HIGH....There's a new punk CD included with the latest issue of Mojo, quite imaginatively titled "Up Yours! -- Punk's Not Dead". This CD has a melange of old 1977 punkers, just about all from the UK, and a handful of today's hot new "punk-influenced" bands. No use complaining about something that's free -- I would've bought the magazine anyway -- but hey: let's have some fun with it, shall we? Track by track:

1. THE CLASH "1977" -- Quite frankly, the most overrated band in the history of rock. Yeah, I know, the guy died and all that, but that just means we all have to be that much more brave in resisting the ridiculous hosannas being tossed The Clash's way. Wimpy, limp-guitar-based poseur punk for profit. I swear their disco dance mix era ("Radio Clash") was the only halfway-decent stuff they ever put out. Fire away, commenters!
2. THE STROKES "The Modern Life" -- Not all that bad. I can see why movie stars might like them. Chiming guitars, strong vocals, a little bit of an edge. Not punk rock in the slightest.
3. ADVERTS "One Chord Wonders" -- A lesser song than their excellent "Bored Teenagers", but I'd throw this in the upper half of 1977 British punk songs, sure.
4. THE HIVES "Main Offender" -- Ten years ago they might have been another OK Swedish garage band on Estrus or Sympathy, now they're world famous. Well-produced, loud stop-start garage punk; this track's almost as good as their "Die, All Right", which is excellent. I like 'em!
5. VIC GODARD "Ambition" -- Hey, I thought this was Subway Sect?! For some reason the British press absolutely lionizes this guy, up to crediting him for this song as a solo artist, when it was released back in the day as being performed by Subway Sect. "Ambition" is a fantastic song that should've sold a million.
6. HOT HOT HEAT "Get In Or Get Out" -- Abysmal alternative rock/new wave. Sub Pop must have bought a big ad in Mojo this month.
7. ERASE ERRATA "Tongue Tied" -- Now we're talking! Sharp, crazed post-punk from San Francisco all-female quartet; comes on like a battering ram and is over in 90 seconds. Think Au Pairs & Essential Logic crossed with The Minutemen & early Half Japanese. Great to see them getting recognition at this level!
8. X-RAY SPEX "Identity" -- This is a UK punk comp staple, making its 79th appearance on a retrospective. I can't listen to them without worrying that Bikini Kill might try to mount a comeback attempt.
9. THE HUNCHES "Lisa Told Me" -- Sounds like it was telegraphed to be loved by Mojo editors, with references to rock songs of the past, the right amount of garagy edge, etc. Pretty boring and lot more "lite" than I'd expect from an In The Red band, but rumor has it their debut CD is excellent.
10. JOHNNY THUNDERS "Chinese Rocks" -- The Heartbreakers always seem to make these comps, too, probably by virtue of having enriched many heroin dealers all over England back in '77. This version is from a remixed "L.A.M.F." but I detect a slightly different mix that my copy of "L.A.M.F. Revisited". Either way, it's a classic.
11. PART CHIMP "Cover Me" -- New band from the UK, great ultra-distorted sound, Flipper-esque attitude if not quite at that level yet. Watch these young men!
12. UNDERTONES "True Confessions" -- Ireland's finest with a non-45 LP track -- not the pick you'd have expected for a comp like this.
13. CATHETERS "Pale Horse" -- Great; Green River circa "This Town"-era crossed with some Cheater Slicks-style amp damage. Probably a real ear-bleeder live. A punk rock band in every sense.
14. SEX PISTOLS "Submission" -- Early, non-"Bollocks" version of this learning-to-play-guitar staple. From "Spunk", perhaps?
15. YEAH YEAH YEAHS "Our Time" -- Forget the hype -- it's always a bad sign when the first media to sing your praises is the New York Times. This band are the new Hole at best.
16. SIOUXSIE AND THE BANSHEES "Hong Kong Garden" -- You've got to laugh at how utterly non-PC this is. Mixing references to Asian cultures as easily as she does eyeliner, Siouxie yammers about paying "yen" while eating "chicken chow mein and chop suey" in a song ostensibly about Hong Kong. Love the "Flower Drum Song"-style marimba. Charlie Chan, call your office!
17. ATV "Action Time Vision" -- And all this time I thought Red Cross invented the line "Notes and Chords Mean Nothing To Me", when they ripped it straight out of this song. This is a straight-up rocker, very powerful and catchy and raw. Billy Childish covered it well in one of his many bands some time ago.
18. LIBERTINES "The Boy Looked At Johnny" -- Imagine the Kinks "taking the piss" by recording a fake, deliberately lame punk song on one of their awful late 70s albums. As someone once said about US punk band the Insults, "So retarded you'd swear it's English" -- and they are!
19. BUZZCOCKS "Orgasm Addict" -- Punk classic about running a batch off by hand. This is the Howard Devoto version from the "Time's Up" CD. Deservedly belongs in any Top-100-punk-songs list.
20. SLEATER-KINNEY "Combat Rock" -- I'll go on record in favor of this polarizing all-female trio, who have some excellent songs, but this is definitely not the one you want to hear first. Lefty agitprop with purposely goofy Nina Hagen-style vocalizing which runs about a minute too long-- not a career highlight by any means.
21. THE ONLY ONES "Another Girl, Another Planet" -- Quick, name a second song by this band! You can't! That's because this is their only song! From the ultra-rare, OOP one-sided 45.
22. MUDHONEY "Urban Guerilla" -- The only track exclusive to this disc and one of the best on here. They say it's a Hawkwind cover, but it sounds like Mudhoney's typical full-on, hook-filled 60s garage/fuzz pounding. Nice to see them include a true working professional among the "new" bands.
23. DAMNED "Neat Neat Neat" -- Absolute monster song & as close to the cream of UK '77 punk as it gets.
24. WARLOCKS "Caveman Rock" -- I thought this could be Gumball or the Velvet Monkeys until I looked at the sleeve. Can't really fathom, based solely on this track, Byron Coley's top-notch review of this LA band in an earlier Mojo. So is the rest of the album any better?
25. IGGY AND THE STOOGES "Search and Destroy" -- Best song from their worst album, but an updated "rough" mix that gets it right, despite sounding like a explicit after-the-fact manipulation. I don't know the ethics of such tweakery but the song, of course, is a giant.
26. SWEARING AT MOTORISTS "Timing Is Everything" -- Like those bizarre tack-on tracks at the end of some 1970s bootleg albums, this one comes nowhere near "punk" as popularly defined, and is simply an excellent avant-folk/rock track from an editor's fave. A Dayton, OH duo with one foot in Guided By Voices-style indie and another in 70s hesher folk.

Monday, February 24, 2003
THE CLEAN “ANTHOLOGY”….Best reissue of 2003 so far would have to be the 2-CD Anthology from “New Zealand sound” standard-bearers THE CLEAN, just out on US label Merge Records. This is a big boost for those who may have missed the somewhat difficult-to-find Compilation from 15 or so years ago, as well as far those unacquainted with the absolute best kiwi space fuzz-pop trio ever. It’s a terrific package – one disc of the early 1980-82 stuff, and a second disc of their reunion material from 1989-96. I saw them play a bunch of this stuff live on their US tour 18 months ago and it was so well done I though I’d stumbled into the Canterbury University Social Club circa 1981. People who fall for the 80s/90s New Zealand/Flying Nun bands tend to wax rhapsodic about them in a manner akin to speaking in tongues. While I certainly enjoy the stuff, I never saw the individual bands as interchangeable, despite the similarities in sound (think soaring, distorted, often keyboard-heavy pop played with a wink of knowing naiveté). Tall Dwarfs were excellent, as was/is solo Chris Knox. The Chills? The Verlaines? Sure, whatever. It’s fine. There were plenty of NZ bands creating bizarre inner worlds of pop-rooted sound outside the brackets of the Flying Nun mafia who were arguably far more inventive – Bill Direen & The Builders, Shoes This High and the Victor Dimisich Band for instance – I say arguably because you can bet I’ll be the one doing the arguing very soon, right here on this web site! That’s what I’m here for, folks.

Anyway, The Clean. Disc one is truly an anthology aimed at us completists – you get the debut “Tally Ho / Platypus” 45 (which was an actual charting hit in New Zealand), the “Boodle Boodle Boodle” EP, the “Great Sounds Great…” EP, the “Getting Older / Scrap Music / Whatever I Do Is Right” 45, and another five tracks – every last one of them a testament to a truly unique and groundbreaking band. For these 3 years The Clean wrote one classic song after another, informed as much by 60s pop and the Velvet Underground as their own vision, without any direct copping of riffs & chops. Tracks like “Beatnik” hum with a dense wash of Modern Lovers-style keyboards and sing-songy vocals, while there are also edgier, somewhat darker instrumental numbers like “Fish” and “At The Bottom” that are a showcase for this trio’s ability to easily set the mood of their choosing. And the so-called “naiveté” – I don’t know, how can one not find the ending of “Slug Song” charming, where vocalist/guitarist David Kilgour announces “goodbye” to the studio as the song fades? Excellent stuff. Disc two is still the same band, but a few years removed from their classic era – it’s pretty good Olympia/Slumberland-style pop, but their edge has been dulled and I’m afraid nothing particularly jumps out (I had the same reaction when I heard the comeback album Vehicle upon its release). Who knows, you might find this stuff to be superior – they’re certainly still catchy enough to be someone’s favorite band. Obviously they can make it sound great live. Kudos to the band and to Merge for putting together the perfect overview.

Sunday, February 23, 2003
SO THAT'S WHAT HAPPENED TO THE HAPPY FLOWERS....If anyone remembers the atrocious 1980s "funny" noise band Happy Flowers, you may be interested to know of their current whereabouts, courtesy of the new issue of Mojo. Mr. Horribly Charred Infant (the best thing about them was always the names) now lives in Atlanta and works for a medical supply company, and Mr. Anus plays pedal steel in a country band and works for the International Monetary Fund (!). Sounds like they're too busy for a reunion, hunh?

Friday, February 21, 2003
MAKE MINE PRE-WAR.....Quite possibly the most hackneyed, overplayed form of music ever is the BLUES. As popularly defined, and as played in American and European nightclubs, "the blues" is often reduced to the tiresome, grating closed-eyes guitar solo personified by BB King or later-period John Lee Hooker -- or far worse, the white boy bar band "party" style of blues often found in California beach town nightclubs. Blame the city of Chicago? Blame BB King? Blame the Stones? I don't know, but my motto is "Make Mine Pre-War!" -- i.e. World War II, the Mother of All Battles, the Good War, etc. That means pre-electric, pre-"party" blues, pre-influence-on-rock-music blues. (Note: there are obviously some exceptions to this maxim -- Lightning Hopkins, for example -- but it's a convenient hook for my story). Remember the scene in the 2001 film "Ghost World" when the Thora Birch character has a dumbstruck epiphany while listening to Skip James' "Devil Got My Woman"? I loved that scene, because not only is that the perfect introductory track to the haunting mysteries of pre-World War II Mississippi delta blues, but I also had a similar reaction to that very song upon first hearing it on a compilation. It helped lead me into discovery of Charley Patton, Robert Wilkins, Mississippi John Hurt, and a whole passel of other pre-WWII heroes who helped write 20th Century popular music as we now know it. I went through a period in which my rock-n-roll fandom declined precipitously, and this was pretty much all I listened to and spent my money on.

You know what's interesting, though? It really wasn't that difficult to collect all the truly great, 5-star pre-WWII stuff. I honestly think it has all been found, catalogued and released by the archivists, unless some new edition-of-100 scratchy 78s turn up somewhere in an attic and get plopped on a Document CD. Sure, I experimented and stumbled upon some rotten stuff. Buying any of these guys' 1960s live material, recorded after they were found in near-fossilized states on their Mississippi front porches and paraded in front of East Coast college crowds, is a mistake not worth making -- or at least is for completists only. If you concentrated your CD buying efforts on two labels only -- Yazoo and Document -- you'd likely find every godhead country/delta blues track every recorded, save for Robert Johnson's material. If an artist only released one or two 78s back in 1928, and didn't create enough material to merit a posthumous compilation CD, you can bet that Yazoo or Document have released his tracks on one of their many compilations. In fact, the last Document catalog I saw listed the pre-WWII blues they hadn't released at the front of the catalog. It was a single column -- all the artists or records they couldn't get the rights to. All 20 of them.

I know you didn't ask, but if I could choose the ideal "starter kit" for pre-WWII blues, I'd get it going with the following CDs:

1. SKIP JAMES "1930 -- The Complete Recordings"
2. CHARLEY PATTON "King Of The Delta Blues" and "Founder Of The Delta Blues" CDs
3. BLIND WILLIE McTELL "1927-1933: The Early Years" and "1927-1935" CDs
4. MISSISSIPPI JOHN HURT "1928 Sessions"
5. ROBERT WILKINS "The Original Rolling Stone"
6. ROBERT JOHNSON "Complete Recordings" (2-CD box set)
7. BLIND WILLIE JOHNSON "Sweeter As The Years Go By" and "Praise God I'm Satisfied" CDs
8. BLIND LEMON JEFFERSON "King Of The Country Blues"
9. SON HOUSE "1928-1930"
10. VARIOUS ARTISTS "Country Blues Bottleneck Guitar Classics"

I plan on dissecting this stuff artist by artist, CD by CD, in the not-too-distant future.

INSTANT POP CLASSICS UPDATE....Got the good word from Thomas at Moonflower Records regarding INSTANT POP CLASSICS, Volume 3. It's on. A track list is being prepared, and Volume 3 will be out early this summer. You may recall that we discussed these exceptional, hard to find UK 80s post-punk D.I.Y. compilations last week (scroll down for posting). The first two volumes re-introduced the world to buried treasure from the likes of the Native Hipsters, I Jog & The Tracksuits (top 10 rock band names of all time), Desperate Bicycles, Gerry & The Holograms, Lemon Kittens, and the absolutely perfect girl-pop of DOLLY MIXTURE ("Everything and More" -- along with the Mo-Dettes' "White Mice", these are my picks for the UK nominees to the greatest all-time pop song sweepstakes). Seems as is he's willing to bend the purist "D.I.Y." rules a bit in favor of neglected independent 45s of ANY production quality -- not simply the tinny, skeletal, voice-down-a-corridor hallmarks of the weirdest and best UK keyboard-driven early 80s trash. Exhibit A would be the inclusion of Alison Stratton's post-Young Marble Giants band Weekend on Volume Two, as well as the aforementioned Dolly Mixture. Thomas has got some catching up to do before the Messthetics series finishes going through the alphabet, but if his past track record is any indication, this will be a release absolutely worth scouring the planet for.

Thursday, February 20, 2003
WHITE STRIPES SINGLES.....Not to get too indie on you, but it seems as though some enterprising young bootlegger has cobbled together the first few WHITE STRIPES singles and put out a CD unsurprisingly entitled "Singles". It's quite good -- aside from some excellent A-sides already on their first two CDs ("Hello Operator", "The Big Three Killed My Baby"), you get some live staples such as "Lord, Send Me An Angel" (you and I know this song as Blind Willie McTell's "Ticket Agent Blues"), Dolly Parton's "Jolene" and a killer trio of Captain Beefheart covers that came out on a Sub Pop 45: "Party of Special Things To Do", "China Pig" and "Ashtray Heart". Especially strong are a pair of 1960s covers from The Hentchmen w/ Stripes guitarist Jack White playing along called "Some Other Guy / Psycho Daisies" -- this came out on micro-indie Italy Records and probably can't be tracked down easily. This band's fame and fortune (if the latter even exists, which I kinda doubt) is somewhat baffling to me. WHY them? Why now? Are kids really plunking down their allowance on this tough, sincere, genre-hopping garagy blues? Is this somehow part of the horrifying "Adult Alternative" format, as hinted at by the New York Times this past Sunday? Is a spike in Trout Mask Replica sales next (a la 1992 Vaselines and Wipers mania from the Nirvana connection)? In any event, if you can track down this one it makes a fine addition to their three full-length CDs.

Wednesday, February 19, 2003
AT LEAST THE 2ND BEST SONIC YOUTH ALBUM!.....I noticed that they're giving the "Nice Price" treatment to SONIC YOUTH's great SST LPs Evol and Sister these days. I plunked down a mighty $8.98 for a new CD copy of 1987's "Sister" over the weekend to replace my battered LP, and the memories came a-flooding back as I listened to it. It's a great goddamn record, one that many feel is their best (some, like me, could go with Evol, others with Goo -- seems like no one goes with Daydream Nation). I saw the band put on one of the then-best live shows I'd ever seen the week this record was released, at a small, packed, sweaty coffeehouse in Isla Vista, CA at the kick-off for the first "Sister" tour -- the one that ended with a medley of Ramones tunes at every encore. The next year I -- sickeningly -- saw Sonic Youth four times in five nights, up and down the California coast (they happened to be bringing the new shit-hot band Mudhoney with them), and I swear they almost never let me down live; in fact they arguably continued to get better live, in inverse to the quality of their records, so much so that the best tour I saw them on was in the mid-90s supporting the mediocre Washing Machine albums (!). I'd see 'em now -- are they even touring anymore?

But jeez, it's been 16 years since "Sister" came out and really built this band's reputation beyond the dark indie noise and adventuresome rock critic crowds. This LP boasts some of their most spiraling, barely-in-control guitar pyrotechnics ("Stereo Sanctity", "P.C.H.", the second half of "Schizophrenia") while being their first record to have a POP sensibility on just about every track (i.e. discernible hooks, "nice" vocals etc.). Their version of Crime's "Hot Wire My Heart" is absolutely amazing -- they are one of the only bands who could pull off Frankie Fix' and Johnny Strike's guitar MESS and render it as wildly coherent as the original -- and the beautiful tuning and feedback on "Cotton Crown" is still a high-water mark in bringing gentle, surging noise to a sweet-as-pie ballad. I'll admit that some of it dates a little poorly -- the lyrics on "P.C.H.", gawd -- but it's a trifle. They're practically giving these things away, folks!

JOHNNY HASH.....Here's a hot young duo you might or might not be familiar with: Ladies and gentlemen, JOHNNY HASH. It's now going on a decade since the release of their gnarly no-fidelity blues trash masterpiece 7" "Pink Lunchbox" and 8 years since the equally raw and wacked follow-up "Summer Of Cum (For Robert Wyatt)". I listened to these 45s last night, and I'm still stunned -- the A-sides of these records are among the craziest sounds from the early 90s garage punk revival, spearheaded by In The Red records (Cheater Slicks, Night Kings, Fireworks, etc.) -- except calling these mere garage punk does them severe injustice. This is drunken, animalistic slide guitar blues, played by someone (Dan Brown, ex-'68 Comeback & Royal Trux) who actually knows how to use one, backed with precision cardboard-box drumming and barked vocals. These grunts & feedback-laden trips down the frets (especially on "Summer Of Cum") are classic, raw rock and roll, in a pantheon with CRIME, MEAN RED SPIDERS, early GUN CLUB, and the like. Amazingly, the B-sides of these 45s are just "OK" -- a great example of a band who chose not to shoot their wad with a mediocre LP packed with filler. A quick check of the Grunnen Rocks garage punk database reveals that the band may still be in existence, carefully choosing their material and toiling in utter. undeserved obscurity . It's high time to start the lobbying campaign to get Larry at In The Red to put out his label's early 45s on a CD or two.

Tuesday, February 18, 2003
COOL OFF RUDIES!….One of the better series of any genre of late has been these Trojan Records box sets of early reggae (1960s and 70s style): Rocksteady, 1970s dub, ska, Lee Perry/Upsetters, and many more. What I have recently learned is just what a pressure hold the Trojan label held on the release, marketing and distribution of these classic sides, as well as their import to the UK (where this stuff was popular enough to chart in the late 1960s). You listen to these box sets, and with few exceptions -- the Treasure Isle label comes to mind -- almost every quality Jamaican 45 of the day seems to have been owned by Trojan. It has all the makings of an antitrust special, thankfully this time to the consumer’s benefit. Each three-CD box set comes in a small, study cardboard box and has over 180 minutes of music. With a little searching, you can find them each selling for just $15 a box.

They are certainly milking this cow of every last drop, too. I took a stab at two that sounded promising, if not a little, uh, “poseur”: the Trojan Rude Boy box set and the Trojan Skinhead Reggae box set. I hereby pronounce both to be fantastic. Orange County fifteen-year-olds who come a-skankin’ to these from their No Doubt CDs are fully welcome under the big tent that is Agony Shorthand. Now, the Rude Boy thing would seem to be quite an unusual box set subject – how many quality songs would really there be, right? – but these guys, the “Rudies”, outlaw cowboy/pimps of the mid-60s, captivated Jamaica for better or for worse and set off a fierce spike of lyrical and musical creativity. On the pro side, we have Desmond Dekker & the Aces with “Rudie Got Soul”, The Pioneers stating on no uncertain terms that “Rudies Are The Greatest” and Derrick Morgan’s great “Tougher Than Tough (Rudie In Court). In the other corner, we have Justin Hinds & The Dominoes and “No Good Rudie”, Henry Buckley with “Beware of Rude Boys” and the one all y’all know, Dandy Livingstone’s “Rudy A Message To You”. These tracks are all full-band, horn-heavy, fast-scatting ska or near-instrumental Rocksteady (i.e. slower but still propulsive and danceable). Fifty tracks and barely a dog among them – and better yet, very few repeats from OTHER Trojan box sets. How many excellent Jamaican 45s were coming off the island back then? You have to reckon 5-7 great ones per week.

Just as good and as hard to pin down is the Skinhead Reggae box. I have another excellent comp of this stuff, the Treasure Isle Skinhead Moonstomp compilation, and the tracks appear to find simple common cause in the cropped hairstyles of the British chip-eaters who loved them. From the liner notes:

“Around the summer of 1968 Jamaican music underwent a transformation, with the rhythms of Rocksteady superseded by the more aggressive metre of Reggae. This no-nonsense, uncompromising style perfectly suited the attitude of the new young stylists (the UK Skinheads) and over the ensuing months, it increasingly provided the focus for their growing movement”.

Aside from spelling “meter” incorrectly, it’s as simple as that. A new fashion needed a sound, reggae got a little bit tougher, and there you have it: Skinhead Reggae. Unlike the Rude Boy box, very few of the songs deal directly with the skinheads, though a few cash-in numbers are included among the fifty tracks. For the untrained ear – like mine – this style of music is fairly indistinguishable from the Rude Boy box; it’s honking, aggressively played ska music if you ask me. I totally dig it. There certainly is a steaming heap of awful, awful reggae music. I am severely biased against non-dub reggae from the mid-1970s & beyond (which is when many of us heard our first Bob Marley and disavowed reggae immediately), but this 60s stuff is as soulful, inventive and as fun as anything Americans were doing on R&B labels like Stax/Volt/King etc. I hope Trojan keeps the goldmine coming – this is some great stuff

HOMOSEXUALS….if you check the comments of some of my recent posts, you’ll find that a couple of Agony Shorthand’s many, many readers are real excited about a late 1970s British DIY band called The Homosexuals. This is a band that I went through a serious punk rock record collecting phase without ever having heard of once, which of course now ups the ante even more. I do remember an interview in Ugly Things not too long back that I skimmed, but a few smarties – people you can trust -- like Tim E and City Hobgoblin are making some noise: they want this stuff on CD. I need to know why, or better yet, I need to hear from a contrarian who thinks this stuff is totally mediocre and overrated. (Or how about someone who has their entire discography & tapes of amazing demos, and has made it all into a CD-R they want to trade me?). Otherwise I might need to go off on one of my searches again…

TOP 10 BOOTLEGS, AS OF 2/18/03….
1.) “ME WANT BREAKFAST – The Dangerhouse Collection” (the hottest 1977-78 LA punk rock 45s, all in one place)
2.) THE CRAMPS “All Tore Up” (Alex Chilton demos; better than and as well-recorded as their legit LPs!)
3.) TELVISION “Double Exposure” (with Richard Hell!)
4.) JOY DIVISION “Warsaw” (the classic brooding early punk rock stuff)
5.) BUZZCOCKS “Time’s Up” (this is now legit – raw early recordings with Howard Devoto)
6.) “WHERE BIRDMEN FLEW” (incredible comp of early Australian punk 45s – News, Leftovers, Razar, Rocks, Scientists and more)
7.) NEIL YOUNG “Chrome Dreams” (CD with “Time Fades Away” and excellent demos for “American Stars and Bars”)
8.) “INSTANT POP CLASSICS” (as referenced in the earlier “Folk In Hell” post)
9.) ROXY MUSIC “First Kiss” (all Eno-era Peel Sessions – thanks JB)
10.) VELVET UNDERGROUND “Sweet Sister Ray” (Four tracks on two discs -- genius. Thanks again JB)

WHO'LL BE THE NEXT IN LINE (FOR THE AMOEBA PILE)....My jazz tastes are totally flipped from my rock tastes, at least in a way I don’t quite understand .Whereas I’m perfectly happy to embrace the most atonal, experimental, feedback-heavy, louder-than-whatever rock noise – as long as it’s good (aye, there’s the rub) – I don’t cotton to the same experimentation in jazz, not one bit (exception so far is Ornette Coleman’s two-volume Live At The Golden Circle Stockholm – one of the first jazz CDs I was turned onto). My relatively meager jazz collection is full of Kind Of Blue, Blue Train and their soundalikes – nice, relaxing, limited-challenge (but groundbreaking in its way) JAZZ from the 1950s. I may understand the joys of “out” jazz one day, and the boundary-pushing experimentation of the 1960s, but it isn’t going to start with the Gil Evans Orchestra’s 1961 Out of The Cool. Now I know this one isn’t particularly raucous and wild – except for an unlistenable track called “Stratusphunk” – but it’s the sort of bespeckled grad-student Village Voice intelligencia jazz that makes for a mighty uncomfortable evening at home with the wife. We want Coltrane, we want Miles, we want Dexter Gordon – we don’t want some “outrageous” skin-crawling alto sax – let alone flute and piccolo! -- squealing and braying out of the entertainment center, ruining dinner and starting arguments that go nowhere. I bought this because it was on someone’s idea of a “Best 100 Jazz Records Ever” list, along with some of my faves, so I figured it was worth a try. Besides, isn’t this guy a “giant of jazz”? Or was that BILL Evans? See, I just don’t know from jazz. All I know is this one’s in the to-sell pile. Next on the Top 100 list is something called Borbetomagus. I hope that one sets the mood a little better.

Friday, February 14, 2003
FOLK IN HELL.....One of the more interesting "revivals" of recent vintage has been the penetrating interest in lost punk- and post-punk-era 45s from the UK -- the "D.I.Y." movement, if you will. These long-forgotten 7" singles from the late 70s and early 80s are usually marked by a distinct lack of professionalism and recording quality, shoddy sleeve graphics, a latent (or sometimes blatant) hostility to the music industry, and the frequent use of keyboards or modulation effects. Flagship bands in this micro-world would be the Desperate Bicycles, Animals and Men, Anorexia, Tronics, Beyond The Implode, and Danny & The Dressmakers. We are definitely talking small time here.

I trace the upsurge in interest -- and let's be honest here, we're talking about a small handful of collectors and freaks, not the world at large -- to a number of factors. First, there are probably no more REALLY GREAT late 70s punk rock songs left to "discover". Compilations that come out these days are a case study in diminishing returns; witness all the Killed By Deaths and Bloodstains comps sitting unbought in your better record stores -- an unthinkable proposition when those first started appearing. Second, two really great new compilation series showed up: Instant Pop Classics and Messthetics, the first real cataloging of these UK art misfits that I know of. Finally, and I do say this with some reluctance: Johan Kugelberg's pieces in recent issues of Ugly Things on the Top 100 D.I.Y. 45s have really helped blow the lid off of this buried treasure. Now the kids are interested -- all fifty of us.

With this new DIY/UK/H2D exuberance coursing through my veins, I bid a small amount on eBay for a compilation that looked promising called "Folk In Hell". Kugelberg talked a bunch in one of those articles about a UK label charmingly called FUCK OFF that apparently put out a ton of this stuff -- well, sure enough, the "Folk In Hell" CD was originally a 1980 cassette subtitled "Alternative rubbish from West London" on none other than Fuck Off. There are some telling statements on the reproduced sleeve art:

"These bands play at free and cheap gigs promoted by the Cohen agency. They loathe the music biz as it is corrupt and holding back the evolution of the planet"
"Towards the redefinition of culture. From the heart"
"No Sell Out!"

I'm impressed. This is gonna be GREAT, right? Well, no. This is, almost to a song, totally inept, in a not particularly charming manner. There was a good reason that things once came out on cassette only, even when the price to put out a 45 was a few quid and a couple bob -- that is, LOW. Sure, there are flashes of beautiful naivete that almost break through into coherent songs -- I'm thinking of the Instant Automatons' "Gillian" and "Beat" by Jasmine Smythe -- but no "Don't Misbehave In The New Age"s or "The Medium Was Tedium"s here, I'm afraid. The Bloodstains-iz-ation of the UK DIY scene has begun!

Thursday, February 13, 2003
I AM THE SON OF VOM!!.....Most reports from the olde days on the Los Angeles joke-punk band VOM, fronted by none other than longtime music scribe Richard Meltzer (he invented rock criticism, you know -- as he'd be the first to tell you), usually contain the words "ghastly" or "terrible". But listening to the recent illegitimate CD-R "VOM-- Live at the Mabuhay 4/24/78" begs for a different view. This was a pretty hot band, in a Ramones/Dickies semi-cartoony way, with some fast, slashing guitar not unlike the Dangerhouse bands -- not sloppy! -- and a non-joke attitude in the majority of the live set. (Remember that this is the band best known for "I'm In Love With Your Mom" and "Electrocute Your Cock"). Given that the show takes place in San Francisco, there's a little always-welcome between-song banter about earth shoes and hippies and such. There's even about the 47th unique 1977-78 punk song called "Son of Sam" -- really! I'm not sure what Meltzer was doing with himself onstage when Gregg Turner or Mike Saunders (later of the Angry Samoans) were doing the singing, but it likely involved insulting/assaulting the audience in some way. Evidence is gathering that VOM have a few fans in high places. Now it can be declared officially that this may, in fact, be justified.

UPDATE: Actually, here's a good passage from an interview with Gregg Turner on Mark Prindle's web site.

"Was Vom intended as a real punk group or as a rock critics' joke band?"

GREGG TURNER: "For real, as real. Richard and I were watching the Weirdos play at some downtown ballroom in LA. And after a certain point, he got caught up in pogo dancing and kept screaming out: "See, I can do it too!!" I'm paraphrasing -- but that was the incipience of Vom. It was just a matter of the requisite number of planning meetings and then obligatory rehearsals. See, we thought the WHOLE POINT of "New Wave" (it wasn't until a year or so later that "punk rock" became the label) was salient stupidity. Moron music but with a vantage point and an axe to grind. I think that when we performed tunes like "Electrocute Your Cock" and "I'm In Love With Your Mom" -- these came off so blatantly idiotic that the serious sensibilities of the Brendon Mullen's and X 's and alla the others that went to poetry school felt that peer inclusion (ie of VOM) would be dissing their art. We weren't a comedy band per se, just following in the Jimmy Osterberg tradition of who can be the bigger nitwit."

Wednesday, February 12, 2003
JUST GIVE ME SOME AS-PIR-IN.....speaking of GREEN ON RED (see post below), they’re finally getting the CD reissue treatment on some long-missing LPs. Sad to sad these are too often found in the $1-$2 bins in record form, but I have a feeling that’s about to change with the new release of their excellent first EP and second long-player Gas Food Lodging paired up on one CD (with extra tracks), and the debut LP Gravity Talks by itself on another. These reissues are being put out by Wounded Bird, a CD-only reissue label (just ask them). There was a time when in some indie rock circles (or college rock, as it was known in the mid-1980s) this was the shit. I remember a Dream Syndicate show during which the video for the song "Gravity Talks" was shown between bands, and the kids sang along, jumped and pogoed around in unison, like it was Black Flag or something. I hadn’t heard the song before, but to this day it ranks as a defining college rock moment. At least that’s the way things happened in California, where the band resided (LA). You know, I won’t go too overboard on these guys, since I’m not wholly familiar with their oevre, but it’s hard to believe their immense long-running popularity in Europe (like, rock stars!) vs. their home country, where they about disappeared after this early critics’ fave stuff -- hell, I think they actually moved overseas for a while to cash it in. Green On Red’s debut EP, originally released on Steve Wynn’s Down There records, is the best thing I’d ever heard by them: shimmering, raw-edged psychedelia washed in burn-out, drunken alt-Americana. Nowhere near as countrified as they became in a few short years (like on Gas Food Lodging -- which makes it odd to me that these were the two records that got paired).There’s amazingly haunting and semi-annoying -- in the best sense of the word -- high-pitched organ squeal courtesy of Chris Cacavas -- who’s gone on to do his thing with many others, including Giant Sand -- and the fabulously grating vocals of Dan Stuart. Totally love this record, as well as the Dan Stuart/Steve Wynn album-length ode to a bender "The Lost Weekend" (check your dollar bins!). I need to get better acquainted with the two newly-reissued Green On Red LPs, as I don’t think I’ve heard them "since the 80s", ahh yes, but if I remember the talk back then, they are believed to be masterpieces. Here’s our chance to find out.

THE BANGLES REVIVAL STARTS HERE…..I’m not really sure why a massively MTV-huge band like THE BANGLES can’t get their early, way-out-of-print stuff out on a CD, but I’m going to start the lobbying campaign right here and hope you don’t laugh too hard until you’ve finished reading this post. I think their hitmaking work is so embarrassingly dated and associated with such a full-on chart-friendly sell-out assault (“Burning Flame”? “Eternal Flame”? yep that’s it), that they’re mostly thought of as a bad “oh, you know those eighties” joke to most folks – and deservedly so. That stuff is just godawful, but unfortunately we know every word. See, but their debut EP on IRS Records, “The Bangles”, is to me a near-perfect 60s pop music masterwork – from 1982, no less. The five songs, which are “Real World”, “I’m In Line”, “Want You”, “Mary Street” and the New Zealand 60s punk rock classic “How Is The Air Up There?” – have got harmonies that absolutely soar, like the best Spector-esque girl pop; but unlike the Shangri-Las or Ronnettes, everyone in this band could sing lead, and sing lead exceptionally well. The arrangements beckon less to by-the-numbers hook-based pop and more to the dirtier, guitar-based 60s revival scene that was going on in Los Angeles at the time. Their fellow travelers were the LA “paisley underground” bands – who actually had musically little in common -- Dream Syndicate, the Three O’Clock, Rain Parade, and Green On Red. The first release of theirs, a 1981 7” called “Getting Out Of Hand / Call On Me” on DownKiddie Records, is also fantastic. It’s Swingin’ London, Brill Building & Girls In The Garage all at once. Definitely in need of a comping, as this changes hands for $75+ on eBay. I don’t know, if you’re looking for a “September Gurls”-style pop fix that you haven’t heard before, you might want to start here. Bring on the reissue!

Tuesday, February 11, 2003
CYBORGS RE-REVISITED.....Edgar Breau of 1970s futuristic guitar-rock gods SIMPLY SAUCER wrote and said that there's a new version of the amazing posthumous CD Cyborgs Revisited coming out -- or did he say it WAS out? The e-mail is unfortunately gone. It's going to have all your favorites from the first package -- "Electro-Rock", "Illegal Bodies", "Bulletproof Nothing" and the rest -- and more. Unreleased stuff. How about that? Does anyone know anything about this? A check of the web reveals nothing.

Monday, February 10, 2003
YOUR FAVORITE UNDIGITIZED LPs?….I’ve got an idea for a little interactivity here. I've heard that's big on the World Wide Web. So you know as well as I do that the past 10 years have been an absolute goldmine for getting untold amounts of out-of-print musical treasures reissued on CD. Forty-fives and LPs that commanded upwards of $20-$200 and beyond are now easily found and cataloged on 77-minute CDs, whether it be Killed By Death-style punk rock, Jamaican 60s rocksteady or no-fi British art-punk from the early 1980s. That’s just great. But what about all the LPs that for whatever reason have not found their way onto CD? The big-ticket examples that I know of are the three terrific, impossible-to-find Neil Young albums that he’s decided to keep off of CD (I should say LEGIT CDs, since these all exist as bootlegs): On The Beach, Time Fades Away and American Stars & Bars. I haven’t read the recent biography (“Shaky”) yet – my sources tell me it’s quite good – so I’m not sure what his beef is with getting these digitized. (Note: some clues may be found here). But whatever, they’re a holy grail for Neil CD completists.

Why would anyone care, right? If you have the LP, then what would you need a CD of it for? I suppose it depends on the way you listen to your music. When I bought a car with a CD player in it, and then followed that up with a computer with a CD burner, it totally changed the way I listen to music. Portability became a no-brainer. No more making cassette tapes in real time; no, I’ll just burn your CD in 10 minutes, thanks. You know the drill; this sort of thing is discussed ad nauseum in the tech and the popular press, and it’s made former LP junkies re-think their once-ironclad allegiance. Anyway, so that’s led to a new obsession for me – “digitizing” (there’s that word again) my LP collection – the ones that may never come out on CD (you know the Neil stuff will eventually). With the help of a perpetually-on-borrow pre-amp from MW (kudos to you, MW), I can actually make decent copies of LPs and 45s that no sane record label would ever release again, create custom compilations, record my massive flexidisc collection, etc. People like Paul Marko and the UK Punk ’77 site can even sell your records back to you on CD.

I’ve put together my own list of LPs I’d love to see someone release on CD someday, so I don’t have to roast it up myself. Bear in mind that because my, uh, “era” is 70s-90s stuff, I don’t have any treasured 50s or 60s records listed that I know about in LP form only:

1. FLESH EATERS “Forever Came Today”
2. GIBSON BROS “Big Pine Boogie”
3. DMZ “DMZ” (debut Sire LP)
4. AVENGERS White Noise EP and “Avengers” CD Presents LP
5. WORLD OF POOH “The Land of Thirst”
6. TALES OF TERROR “Tales of Terror”
7. FLESH EATERS “Hard Road To Follow”
8. FLESH EATERS “No Questions Asked”
9. VOLCANO SUNS “All Night Lotus Party”
10. RED CROSS “Red Cross” (1st EP)
11. NIGHT KINGS “Increasing Our High”
12. BANGLES “Bangles” debut EP

Yep, the Bangles. More on them later this week. And if some of these ARE on CD, please let me know. Add your own via the comments section! What do youwant to see on CD?

DAP DIPPIN'....After reading frothing bits about SHARON JONES & THE DAP KINGS for months in the pages of Mojo and elsewhere, I decided to give them a shot. They were getting the good hype as “NYC Soul Sensations” and “true to a sho’nuff deep funk vibe” etc etc. Well, damn if it ain’t true, “doggfatha”! I downloaded a handful of tracks this past weekend, and have to report that this is some excellent 1972-style raw, hard, get-on-the-good-foot funk, played with whomping bass, screaming horns, and of course a full-on soul diva with a deep, brassy voice. Seriously, you throw the tracks I heard on a compilation like Downtown Soulville or Pow City! and no one thinks twice. What’s great about the Dap Kings is that this sort of music can be pretty much enjoyed by everyone – record dorks, weekend clubnighters, people who boogie in front of mirrors, big-city newspaper music critics, over-opinionated web loggers, your mom, etc. Seems like well done soul/funk, even this harder-edged, wailing stuff, attracts a wide crowd simply by virtue of that beat – or the “one” as Bootsy Collins and James Brown used to call their unique, off-time beat signature – the rhythm pattern that essentially invented what we now call funk. I mean, who doesn’t dig James Brown?? Who? Nobody, that’s who. Even the suburban beer hogs at Giants’ baseball games just love shaking their cans to Mr. Brown whenever he comes on the PA system between batters. You just can’t help it.

Anyway, this Sharon Jones stuff is going to draw some crowds. She’s bringing the crew to my town this weekend for what I’m sure will be a sweaty, booze-drenched good time. We have the brother-in-law & his girlfriend in town from Boston, so this might be something of a tough sell, but I’m thinking I’ll have them busting a few Dap Kings moves by 1am Sunday morning. In the meantime, get yourself a little Dap Kings on Kazaa or better yet, on the new debut CD, Dap Dippin’.

Friday, February 07, 2003
LEAST PROMISING HEADLINE AWARD....from this week's San Francisco Bay Guardian: "The State of Homocore in 2003".

WHAT WAS IT ABOUT LEE HAZLEWOOD?....Good question. The man had what could be at best described as an "interesting" voice (totally inept in terms of range, but like Bryan Ferry's, still a voice that can only be copied, not equaled). There's the soaring strings, the cowboy cliches, and the song arrangements right out of the 1960s Bacharach/Goffin/King songbook. Hazlewood sings stuff so cornball you wouldn't even want to repeat it in mixed company, and yet you laught it off as you would if it were coming from your batty old Grandpa. I am a newfound believer in Mr. Hazlewood -- now that his out of print 1960s/early 70s LPs are trickling out on CD from a variety of labels, I'm finding out just what it was that made him so special. The best two that I've found came out on a German (I think) label called LHI Records -- Love and Other Crimes and Poet, Fool or Bum. (They say (c) 1997, but I have never until this year seem them in the racks, and I've been lookin'). (Update: the Lee Hazlewood web site says they're -- gasp -- bootlegs!). Where do you file these, if you're a record store employee? These were found in Oldies -- fair enough -- but other times I've looked for and found his stuff in Folk, Country, and in Rock. I suppose a case could be made for Blues and for Comedy as well.

What's to like? Well, there's certainly the bizarre undercurrent of sex that pervades Lee Hazlewood's work, even if it's of the non-explicit 1960s variety. It's not just having collaborated with known hotties Nancy Sinatra, Ann-Margaret, Suzi Jane Hokum and the Swedish woman on Cowboy in Sweden (don't know what she looks like, but come on, she's Swedish). It's the trading in double entendres and the out-and-out leer in his voice that turns this somewhat homely pepperpot into a full-on stud when he's in the studio with these women. You get the feeling that he consumated a relationship with each and every one of them, and entirely on his terms. But on Love and Other Crimes and Poet, Fool or Bum , Hazlewood is mostly flying solo. His affable bumpkin persona is never more apparent than on these CDs -- marveling at the world around him, totally self-deprecating ("The Fool", "Poet", many more), lamentations in simple terms of the realtionships he's helped destroy, and always, always staying optimistic and ready to move on ("Forget Marie"). As on so many of his songs, his tongue appears to be firmly planted in cheek, but it's never hilarious, just eminently amusing, track after track. Sometimes the jokes just clunk -- like on his reading -- reading is definitely what it is -- of "Whole Lot of Shakin' Going On". But that's the exception. With 27 tracks and 25 tracks respectively, these CDs contain maybe 5 throwaways between them. There are others that have just come out, too, including this thing on Ace called These Boots Are Made For Walking -- The Complete MGM Recordings that my local record store is selling for something like $25. Anyone have an opinion on this one?

DEATH/DISCO....As long as I'm touting the local (San Francisco) rocknrollers, as I did with Numbers yesterday, let me bring to your attention to the collective calling itself Crack: We Are Rock. They have just released their debut CD "Silent Fantasy" on Tigerbeat 6, an otherwise unremarkable label given to releasing just about anything with an analog synth that bleeps and burps. But CRACK: WAR have got a pretty unique thing going on. There's the tandem female vocalists, "L'Erin" and "Le Kim", who do a sort of droning "rap" on each of the six tracks that indicates nothing less than total boredom with the progression of the songs...and this over an aggressive, synth-heavy, very danceable attack that wouldn't have been out of place in 1980-81 New York City, perhaps on a bill with Liquid Liquid, the Bush Tetras and ESG. The hit "Hooker Leg" in particular is quite fine -- and guess what, you can try before you buy at the band's own web site. I might not care for this a year from now, but finding ANYTHING new-ish that enables me to part with my money qualifies as a major coup.

Thursday, February 06, 2003
UK PUNK '77.....sure, it's been written about before, but you might be surprised at how comprehensive it all it at Paul Marko's UK PUNK '77 web site. You can listen, you can learn, you can even find out about a pack of UK bands well beyond the usual suspects. Marko looks past your Sham 69s and your Pistols to give due to some of the lesser-known punk rock of the day, like the amazingly deadly Stooge-punk 45s foisted on an uncaring public by RAW Records (Users, Killjoys, Sick Things, and more). Better still, this guy is a CD-R kingpin. Check out his punk rock store -- you'll find stuff in there that you certainly can't get anywhere else (since this is the guy that put it together). Adam and the Antz, digitized Bloodstains Across the UK, his own multiple-volume series called Spunkstains and Punkarama and Bored With the USA, Metal Urbain, Skrewdriver (!) -- just keep in mind that when he warns you about recording quality, he's not kidding. Some of the ones that I've heard are put together in very sloppy fashion, like his digitization of the My Girlfriend Was A Punk compilation LP (which is a great record, by the way), which has edits that cut off entire openings of songs, false starts, and....less. Others, like the UK Bloodstains series, are terrific -- not on CD anywhere else, so unless you wanna do the heavy lifting yourself, this is the way to get it on CD.

STAPLE SINGERS.....if it weren't for a great compilation CD-R that DP made for me of 60s soul heroes The Staple Singers, I might never have heard this oft-cited group. I suppose I avoided them because they sounded like the sort of mainstream hippie-soul group that Joel Selvin might like -- perhaps like the horrible Sly & The Family Stone or something. Well, guess again. They have 19 tracks spread out over the Stax Volume 2 box set, and taken in its compiled entirety, it's a full-on soulgasm. Mavis Staples has got the BEST deep-soul female voice I've heard since some of Etta James' more R&B-oriented tracks, and there's even a little civil rights/got-to-get-out-of-the-ghetto talk that wears well. Hey, this is old news to you, right? It's just nice to hear something so righteous that had slipped under the radar for so long....

2003 IS THE YEAR OF NUMBERS.....well, actually 2002 was. If you haven't heard San Francisco's hottest robotic no-wave dance band, known simply as NUMBERS, time's a-wasting. The CD "Numbers Life" came out last summer or thereabouts, and it's seriously one of the few moderne indie things I've thoroughly enjoyed in a long, looong time. Think Screamers, Devo, 1980s UK post-punk, The Normal, etc. 20 minutes long! Female singer and drummer! Also a stone-cold blast live, as long as they're not too WASTED to perform. They are also have a recent split 3"CD with Erase Errata that's not half bad either.

FREE SHIT ALERT.....Everyone likes a freebie, and this one is as free as is gets. There's this guy Derek Erdman who is willing to send you a personally-made mix CD-R, package it up, and send it to your house. All you need to do is ask. It appears to be a series of monthly releases, and the latest, "Mamskam", has tracks from Pere Ubu, Love, Corrosion of Conformity (!), Walker Bros., Kinks, and more. Erdman proudly warned me that the mix he was about to send me contained "a little Seger", and sure enough, the execrable "Night Moves" is on the CD, along with some fuckin' Judas Priest. You know, if you don't like what's on there you can always "rip" (I think that's what you kids call it) the tracks you like onto your own CD. Past mixes contained tracks from the Desperate Bicycles, Roky Erikson, The Fall, Faust, Meters, Beefheart, etc. Get on this hott deal by clicking here.

Wednesday, February 05, 2003
REACH OUT AND TOUCH ME....I have no idea how to do a thing in HTML. I want to add a commenting application -- and will soon. (Hey, it's Day #1 here). Thus, if for some reason you're not one of the 6-7 people I've told about this site, and somehow came here on your own....well. My name is Jay Hinman, and I can be reached at I also have a tiny site that I put up last year called Everyone's Entitled To My Opinion -- I can be reached via that as well.

MONOSHOCK GETS THEIR, this is some tribute to the 1995 2xLP from San Francisco Bay Area band MONOSHOCK from none other than Julian Cope on his Head Heritage site. To wit, Mr. Cope throws around some pretty big names (Pere Ubu, Neon Boys, Electric Eels, Chrome) in describing what is definitely a heavy, HEAVY set of discs:

"WALK TO THE FIRE is a barbarian classic (what an oxymoron, ya moron!) that brings a smile to your face and sway to your hips and a lump to your dong from the moment you put it on. This record is as life-affirming as a noisy early morning fart on London’s rush hour Tube; rasping, stinky and utterly impossible to ignore – indeed, WALK TO THE FIRE is “enhanced by a very poor and unclean production job”, as its main protagonist once wrote of someone else".

I was fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to put out this band's first 7" ("Primitive Zippo") back in 1994, and to have watched them go from a 1988-89 Isla Vista, CA weekend party band (albeit the sort of party band that worshipped the Stooges and Black Flag) to the trio that released this record/CD. I have long felt that all the wonderful things that Mr. Cope ascribes to Monoshock here did, in fact, HAVE THE POTENTIAL to be realized, given the talents involved, and often were realized in a live context -- but not on "Walk To The Fire". Grady Runyan is simply a FEROCIOUS guitar player, and Monoshock had all the right influences, ideas, attitudes, drugs, whatever, to be a band that people followed religiously. But I feel that outside of a few killer tracks, this particular record falls short of "classic" status by a mile. It always seemed like Monoshock had a protective self-sabotaging mechanism in place that made it so that the second Monoshock received any attention (like from a booker, say), they felt the need to kick the unapproachability and the musical dissonance up a notch. Thus despite being a wild, unpredictable, feedback-drenched band -- who really DID sound like Crime and Pere Ubu and even added a few amazing new chops of their own -- very few people in Oakland/San Francisco even saw or appreciated them when they were around. The band seemed to like it that way, but who knows. The record collectors sure loved them, and so does Julian Cope. Maybe you will, too -- there are samples available here.

SOME PILLARS OF MUSICAL GENIUS, 1920-present.....How about some context for this site? OK, then: Velvet Underground, Skip James, Crime, Black Flag, Stooges, Electric Eels, Desperate Bicycles, Bags, Link Wray, Charley Patton, Roxy Music, Hank Williams, Rolling Stones, The Fall, Flesh Eaters, Dream Syndicate, Kitty Wells, Lee "Scratch" Perry, Gun Club, Flipper, The Clean, X, MC5, John Coltrane, Captain Beefheart, Delta 5, Syd Barrett, Scientists, Can, Booket T & The MGs, Cheater Slicks, Neil Young, Carter Family, Mudhoney, John Fahey, Impact All-Stars, Lee Hazlewood, Joy Division, Kleenex, Barbara Manning, Urinals, Modern Lovers, Roland Kirk, Loretta Lynn, and Simply Saucer. That should get us started. I plan on writing and these and others in the weeks to come.

THE AGONY SHORTHAND MISSION STATEMENT....OK, so here goes. First, "Agony Shorthand" is a track from the amazing 1978 debut four-song 7"EP from LA's Flesh Eaters -- the link is to a piece I wrote on them for Perfect Sound Forever online 'zine a couple years back. Their caterwauling punk/metal/art-noise hybrid should give a least an idea of what I'd like this, uh "forum" to cover -- but really, it's mostly an excuse for me to broadcast obsessive thoughts worldwide. See, some people have obsessions of an unhealthy nature -- drugs, booze, TV, porn, whatever -- and then there's obsessions that might be considered harmless but are baffling nonetheless. That's where my love of music fits, I reckon. Since I was a child I've done everything from make repeated Top 10 lists, to play/sing badly in a couple bands, publish a fanzine (SUPERDOPE, 1990-98), DJ on college radio (KCSB-FM Santa Barbara, 1985-89, and KFJC-San Francisco Bay Area, 1989-90), DJ on Internet Radio (the sadly defunct Antenna, release two 45son my short-lived label (WOMB) and of course pontificate on what records/CDs others should hear and/or buy, based on my own experience. For me it's not enough to just enjoy the music -- if I like something enough, I want you to enjoy it as well. Ergo this web log -- or "blog", as the kids say in the 21st Century. My tastes are sketched in the description on this page, but really, I don't know what I'm gonna write about from day to day. Check back often, bookmark the site, and all that. I'll try and make it worth coming back to. Soon enough there will be a comment button next to each post -- it'll be a hell of a lot more fun & interesting to do this if people are not only reading this, but commenting as well. With that, let the real posting begin.

IT ALL HAPPENED SO FAST.....I got the bright idea to create a web log around music-related topics around 3pm yesterday, checked into it, found that "it was easy, it was cheap" (like FREE) and I said, what the hell, "GO AND DO IT". I've always felt the compulsion to make my opinions known on a variety of topics, but lacking any definitive expertise in art, science or literature, I figured I could fall back on my many years of music accumulation to tell a few stories, yank a few chains, and maybe -- just maybe -- turn on a few people to some wild rockandroll sounds. So let's leave it at that, then, since this is my first post anywhere, EVER, and I'll see what it looks like when my own words are broadcast LIVE to the World Wide Web (!!!). If it checks out OK, then I will undoubtedly write more.