Agony Shorthand

Monday, May 17, 2004

You know what's one of the delicious things in life? I'll tell you what: knowing someone with a massive, all-encompassing record collection who's willing to digitize his collection of rare singles and EPs and roast up homemade CD-Rs for your listening pleasure. Now that's something that makes life worth savoring. My life has been immeasurably improved in recent weeks thanks to the discovery of a few new 1975-83 ultra-underground "D.I.Y." killers from the darkest corners of 7" collectordom. First, from the frozen tundra of Finland, where vowels and vodka are the staff of life, there's RUTTO and their frenzied retardo-core "Ma Vihaan". This berserker features a crazed, hoarse female shouter and some real nimble pseudo-hardcore stopping & starting, with a general vibe that comes down to either a winking "we know exactly what we're doing" or a flailing "we have no idea what the fuck we're doing". I sure can't decide, but the 2:12 track is first rate foreign yapping, on the level of that first Meat Puppets EP. Next, I learned about 1978's O-LEVEL from the UK. Some of you may remember O-Level from one of the earliest ever KBD-style punk 7" compilations, "Year of the Rats", which I bought with much joy in 1989. O-Level were represented there with a twofer, "Pseudo Punk/O-Level", which as it turns out was the B-side to an equally shambling basement punker called "East Sheen". Now I've heard the latter as well, and I think it's fair to say that O-LEVEL deserve a much wider hearing for their kindred Desperate Bicycles-style easy & cheap punk rock music.

One of the finest records I've discovered via the MESSTHETICS UK DIY compilation series are the pieces of BEYOND THE IMPLODE's "Last Thoughts" 7"EP from 1979. This record, now that I've added "Midnight Adventures" to the other 2 tracks from the EP I've heard, appears to be one of the great lost classics of inward-looking outsider pop music. I use "pop" very loosely, since the Beyond The Implode record sounds like it was recorded live in a kitchen or a bedroom somewhere in the rainy British north, and was probably marketed to friends and family within a 2-kilometer radius. The vocals are terrific and I think just about everyone -- you, me, the people who ride the bus with you -- would love this record. Who among us will be the first in line to bootleg BEYOND THE IMPLODE??

Finally, I was extremely happy to hear the wild-ass "Mama Was a Schitzo, Daddy Was a Vegetable Man" by MIKE REP AND THE QUOTAS (from 1975!!) for the first time. This was resurrected two years ago by a Swedish micro-label (Sverige Age), and it's on par with the world-beating "Rocket to Nowhere" from the same year. We're talking way-way-in-the-red guitar, subprimitive recording quality, rockstar guitar solos and lots of "yeah!!"s whooped out with gleeful abandon. Not only do you get all that, but a huge, apocolyptic fake ending to boot. That's it -- there can't be any more incredible 1975-1983 rock and roll recordings left, can there? I'd like to retire from mercilessly flogging this era so I can move on to talk about CAT POWER some more. Give the kids what they wanna read, right?