Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Dan Russell ”s/t”

(Aggravation Overdose) We should all be thankful for all the labels who are now reissuing lost self-released d.i.y. weirdo albums originally pressed in editions of dozens with only two known copies existing that re-write lo-budget psychedic music histroy, blah blah blah. But it’s easy to get excited over undiscovered ultra-rare vinyl, because you have this historical artifact to fetishize. The gold medal for obscure releasing should go to whomever put this thing together because it takes rediscovering and unknown to another fucking level. For decades (this collection spans ’83-’99, but he started in the early 70s) Dan Russell played d.i.y. weirdo guitar music in bands you only heard of unless you were there in the bar in Flint, Portland or Chicago (and I personally don’t remember ever being there) when Brass Knuckles, Stabbitty Stabbitty Stab Stab Stab!, The Need, Uncle Daddy, The Bumps, Sissyfit, Fer Cryin Out Loud, The Bumps or his other bands played. And if you think you have records by these bands, you probably have a record by another band with the same name, as this guy (as his I assume unpublished autobiography declared) was genuinely The Unknown Rockstar. But enough about the backtalk, what about the music? WHOA! Not exactly like anything I can describe, and shifting gears from song to song on this dozen-song vinyl collection, he’s got one here that fluctuates between weirdo Zappa and furious hardcore! He’s got songs that sound like subterranean gnomes composed and played them. He has some pretty music that’s also pretty weird. He seems pretty comfortable making his guitar sound like an angel’s harp or a marauding truck. Sadly, Russell died last year and won’t get to play Plastic Crimewave festivals or Chic-A-Go-Go upon his rediscovery, but he had a hand in choosing these tracks and he did a hell of a job. The LP ends with an unfunckingbelievable live workout by Fer Crying Out Loud featuring many minutes of guitar wailing walls of noise, ridiculous stage banter/crowd participation, psyche/metal/punk/space rock explorations, a DJ scratching (!), and 10 pounds of joyful audio anarchy in an 8 pound sack. It ends with Dan informing the crowd that “Rutabega’s up next!” I’m inclined to rail at the injustice of this genius opening for some band called Rutabega, but hell, this kind of rediscovery makes me feel generous and curious. Hopefully someone’s working on the posthumous Rutabega reissue.

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