Saturday, October 31, 2020

Rudi Protrudi "Unfuzzed Live"


(Hound Gawd, Germany , 2014) I, half-jokingly, told the label that founding Fuzztone, Rudi Protrudi, should play at next year's Bluesfest in Chicago. But, then again, why shouldn't he? Just because he doesn't do 1930's work songs like "Mustang Sally" or primitive Urban Blues, like "Red House?” As Blues Historians agree, if you don't have a ten-minute version of "Sweet Home Chicago" in your set list, you can't be a proper Bluesman. Please. These are the same people who complained after Screamin' Jay Hawkins gave the performance of a lifetime, closing, and setting fire to, the Blues Fest  So, yeah, if you thought John Lee Hooker couldn’t cut it without Bonnie Raitt or Carlos Santana riding shotgun, or that Hound Dog Taylor is the guy who makes those adorable outfits people humiliate their dogs with, then, this probably isn’t for you. Rudi makes no pretension of trying to steal the pure Blues thunder from those who own it, Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy, Robert Cray...Rudi's offers this side project for the same reason he recorded Murder Country classics as Tujunga County's answer to T. Tex Edwards and Iggy Yoakum: because he loves the music, and can bring something new to the table. Keeping it stripped down and to the point probably won't get Rudi booked on too many Blues cruises, but, I think that's a chance he's willing to take...This is neither a Garage Band that made the jump to The Blues (Dirty Wurds , e.g.), nor a cash-in on "The Punk-Blues Explosion" that left Msr. Jeffrey Evans holding the bag. I'm reminded more of the underrated Sky Saxon Blues Band album, right down to the "Seedy" keyboard sound. You will hear a more than credible "Hoochie Coochi Man,” but not the savage, knife-wielding, kicking and gouging, roadhouse staple, "Stormy Monday.".You won't hear John Lee Hooker's "I'm Bad Like Jesse James" sounding any more sinister than you will, here, either, but, then again, if John Lee had attempted to perform the song, himself, at the Blues Fest, they probably would have docked his pay...The sinister, overtly sexual nature of the Blues is a dish best served with a hint of subtlety. Rudi doesn’t have to get his nut on the first number. He can take his time if you can. It's not overly rocked up, nor overtly camped out.  In the noble tradition of White Guys Who Can Work a Good Blues Without Trying to Sound Black (Mose Allison, Keith Relf, Peter Green, Rockin' Johnny, et al.), Protrudi knows the mojo and the hoodoo and the voolah are all subliminal...Because it is in your mind. Check out your mind, or, leave it at home.

Gonn "Gonn 45-Fully Loaded"


(YTY Records, 2012) Gonn is revered, rightfully so, for recording one of the all-time 6s Punk screamers, "Blackout of Gretely,” now one of THEE most coveted garage rarities The logical follow-up single, ''Doin' Me in,” is an even bigger rarity, because it wasn’t even released at the time. CRIME!  But, "Doin' Me In,” "Blackout,” and Gonn's entire back catalogue, have been available, via reissues, for years.  In The 90s, the band reformed, all guns blazing, and put out a great reunion LP, plus some singles . They've toured Germany, Switzerland and select dates in the Midwest, as well as co-headlining with ? and The Mysterians at The Fuzz Fest in Atlanta. Those who've seen them, know. Gonn is the yardstick by which other reformed Garage bands must judge themselves.  Alas, I've never seen them. But, I can still safely say, they've raised the bar, here's your proof...This album contains some of the dirtiest, nastiest, all middle fingers out, mid-60s driven raunch available without a prescription.  With nods to Psych, Frat Rock, and key British Invasion influences, the three chord, shredding vocals, savage guitars, hair-singeing keyboards, pummeling beats and mind-numbing bass attack, are all intact, and that's a fact. They pay homage to The Animals ("Newcastle Blues" and a strong workout on "We Gotta Get Out of This Place"), The Yardbirds, Paul Revere and The Raiders (sometimes sounding like The Raiders having a Rave-Up with The Yardbirds), "Louie, Louie" ("Baby, Please Be Good", which celebrates the song itself, and it's indelible mark on our culture. Yes, it's a culture, now. Everything gets to respectable at some point), and the latter day Garage Rock resurgence ("New Again,” celebrating the joys of being a teen, and not texting or tweaking out to Gameboy long enough to play Rock’n’Roll with your friends. A+ for working Big Daddy Roth into the lyrics). A guy at a record show once exclaimed, "THERE'S A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN HIPPIE PSYCHEDELIA AND PUNK PSYCHEDELIA!!”  "Magic Carpet,” drenched in tremolo and sorta Doorsy keys (not at the cost of sounding "Moody"), provides a good case in point, while "Whatcha Gonna Do" is a classic gurl-putdown, worthy of The Seeds, and "Long Gone" combines Byrds jangle with tasteful fuzztone embellishments (Gonn was heavily influenced by The L.A. and San Francisco sounds, as well as The Stones/Kinks/ Yardbirds axis.).  "Roll On" evokes "Ogden's Gone Nut Flakes" Small Faces, though, perhaps, not by design. Above all, Gonn has produced an album that utilizes their many influences, while becoming a slave to none of them.  A better definition of "Garage Rock ” I couldn't offer you.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

The Masked Singer


(FOX) When Roctober published our History of Masked Rocked’n’Roll issue last Century it was a decent effort for the pre-internet research age and a fun read, and mildly influential, as several (very good) masked acts sprung up, directly citing the zine’s enlightening nature. However, we cannot take any credit for the most popular show in the world. While a show about celebrities singing in elaborate costumes while lesser celebrities guess their identities is seemingly unrelated to the manifesto we set forth about why an artist might choose to performed masked, the underlying elements are not really that different. The liberating nature of performing without the constraints of your everyday identity holding you back is actually more pertinent when the performers actually are recognizable and get to alter audience and self perceptions by having anonymity. The mask as a primordial vessel of transformation and spirit channeling has to have even more power when the costumes are elaborate works of design genius. And the value of a good gimmick --- the show is #1, baby! What I like best about the show is that it is fucking terrible and is still great! The hosts are charmless; the scripted ad libs are comedy graveyards; the audience reactions and shots are coached and edited to be so over the top and idiotic that the most important part of a filmed performance (the TV audience mirroring our spectatorship and infusing the show with a kind of authenticity associated with live performance) is meaningless. Yet watching the actually famous people (the only skateboarder you can name; the most famous white non-QB in the NFL; Chong) wearing the most innovative, beautiful costumes ever (this season there is one that requires puppeteering and one with two singers in a pod), and singing decently (or brilliantly; unless it had had turned out to be the best Patti LaBelle impersonator ever, it was really dumb when they had the greatest living vocalist, Patti LaBelle on singing like Patti LaBelle while the panel pretended to be befuddled) is awesome! Also, in COVID I am so distracted and unfocussed that I can never guess who they are, so the reveal is fun. There have been some mistakes (assigning a hideous blowjob face angel costume to someone who was going to win and be on every week; acting like Sarah Palin is redeemable), but this is generally a fun show, and in the Big Picture it is a testament to the power of masked performances. I predict that as soon as face tattoo acts fade out a new wave of toilet paper mummies, Kabuki makeup gals and guys, and rubber Trump masked troubadours will take over the underground and the pop charts.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Pat Suzuki "s/t"

 (Vik, 1958) I do not know as much as I would like to about Pat Suzuki, and I certainly cannot call her underrated, as I do not know how to gauge her rated-ness, but I can say without hesitation that this is a great album by a great singer and everyone should hear it. Miss Pony Tail's recording career mostly happens in a short window between 1958 and 1960, with her jazz albums leading to her role in Flower Drum Song (with future Miss Livingston Miyoshi Umeki). I have most of her LPs, in part because her smiles (she sports different ones on different albums) always grab me, and listening to this today I can see why she was a Downbeat award winner when she debuted. Singing with a sly attitude very akin to Eartha Kitt's approach, there are moments, particularly a magically lengthy pause during, "Lady Is A Tramp," that are clinics in jazz singing. There's a late 60s pop album I need to find, and according to five minutes on the Internet she has occasionally performed over the years (I found something from 2002), and I watched an episode of her 1976 sitcom Mr. T. and Tina, in which Pat Morita leads TV's first mostly Asian cast (offensive stereotypes, fake Japanese fonts, and L's replaced with R's abound). She is currently 90 and a photo of her backstage visiting the cast of a play from last year shows the same smile from 1958, so I hope she has had a lot to smile about over this half century. What  a talent! Unrelated: Does the gradation in the 1958 Vik logo seem too futuristic/disco to y'all?

Frantix "My Dad's A Fuckin' Alcoholic"


(Alternative Tentacles, 2013) This well-named 1980s Colorado sloppy hardcore band, was (as demonstrated on the live tracks included in this full length retrospective of a band that did not record a full length) successfully frantic. Best known for cover versions of the title track here, the demos, concert tracks and reissued 7" tracks here prove that the original was better, as this is a glorious mess!

Bunny Sigler Bag Set

( A few years back when I was lucky enough to tape an episode of Chic-A-Go-Go at the amazing, currently restructuring/fundraising art space Philadelphia Mausoleum of Contemporary Arts (apologies if I've called it the Philadelphia Museum of Cemetery Arts in the past, that's incorrect and less accurate). I told the director my dream guest was Philly soul legend Bunny Sigler, and it turned out I made a very good choice when the vocalist arrived in a dazzling outfit and a challenging hairpiece, bursting with musical joy for the kids of all ages in attendance. His performance was magnificent. But just as important to me was his gift, which I suppose was a kind of EPK, but I see more as a collectible "Bag Set," in an edition of Lord knows how many, as I kind of assume he was handing these out freely and generously. Inside the Bag Set was a CD-R of Mr. Sigler's classic 1974 breakthrough LP (he was a powerhouse songwriter before becoming a solo artist on Philadelphia International), "That's How Long I'll Be Loving You," which featured Gospel-style vocals and arrangements on some killer soul songs, and famously has a slow, gorgeous version of "Love Train." The low res, Wite-Out pocked,  faded Xerox cover and Bunny's  handwriting all over the disc it makes it better than an autographed LP. Also included is his kind of weird 2015 CD, "Bundino," which is not a CD-R, but not exactly a professional release, as despite the slick production and vocal arrangements and professionalism of the recording, it features bizarre, amateur-bordering-on-outsider artist packaging (the back cover has no tracks listed, features a grinning Bunny in buckskins awkwardly photoshopped in front of teepees, and has a UPC code that's almost as big as the picture of Bunny). His singing is good, though there are a lot of tracks where it seems like the backup singers are propping up an older singer's weaker vocals, except the backup singers are frequently also Bunny.  The strongest singing is not on one of the soulful ballads, but on a blues number called, "Buttermilk and Cornbread," and the winner for the Why Didn't Anyone Talk To Him Award goes to "Red or Yellow - Black or White," a plea for unity by getting your loving on with woman from many "nationalities." Also in the baggie was a DVD of an iMovie photo montage lyric video of "Laveda," a romantic soul jam; dozens of business cards (a few different designs) that list Youtube clips to look for, and several Websites (all now defunct, sadly); and a program for a memorial service for Lee Andrews, Questlove's dad, a vocalist who was a contemporary of Bunny. Sadly, Bunny joined Lee in the heavenly choir a year and a half after his amazing performance on our show. But I thank the Philly Soul Gods that I bagged this bag, which I subsequently have reached for more often than I have his classic LPs.

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Ratos de Porao "Seculo Sinestro"


(Alternative Tentacles, 2014) Thank god (and/or the alternative/opposite) that music this fucking bonecrushingly brutal exists. We are going to need it more and more in these coming dark, dark days.

Jonathan Richman "No Me Quejo De Mi Estrella"


(Vapor/Munster, 2014) Jonathan loves singing in Spanish. He does not love cell phones, but it's Ok if you have one. He loves to love. What's not to love here?

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Baja Bug "The Surf Will Ride Again"


(Double Crown, 2020) There's that totally bogus chestnut about sex and pizza, that even when it's bad it's good (which dismisses Dominos and date rape), but that logic seems kind if true-er with instrumental surf rock. To be more specific, there is definitely a bottom ten percent of quality that is unlistenable, and a top ten percent that is genius, but if you are not a true aficionado, it seems like the middle 80% of the bands are in a virtual tie. As long as they stay traditional and don't get too experimental or break rules (which few do), you are dealing with pretty similar stock. But then again, what's not to love? Back in the surf revival era from whence this great die-hard surf music label boarded there was the option of dressing up in halloween costumes, which I support 112%, but musically as a fan (but not superfan, or guitar gearhead, or surf music historian) I only hear a few small differences, so what makes me like a record a lot is a matter of inches. This record I like a lot. These Norwegian hodads crank up the reverb/echo effects to give an almost underwater vibe, and there's Farfisa, and there's just enough distant-cousin-to-Morricone cinematic X-factor here. But if you need me to get more specific, unfortunately, I'm back in bogus sex pizza territory: surf music is good!

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Lydia Lunch and Marc Hurtado "My Lover The Killer"


(Munster, 2016) "Most of the men I've lived with have attempted suicide at least once," Lydia Lunch eerily intones over too-scary-for-Halloween haunted piano tinklings and walls of ghost sounds. That is the theme and bad dream of this concept spoken word album specifically inspired by/about an ex who exacted a murder-suicide shortly before/possibly motivated by a planned reconnection with the former Teenage Jesus herself. Intensely dread-ish, but mostly not regretful or mournful or even sad, this is a journey too dark for most Goth teens, but somehow so nihilistic that it's immune to tragedy. I will never play this record at a child's birthday party. Again.

Peer Pressure "Sounds (A.K.A. Music)"


(Rerun, 2013) Recorded in 1980 and self-released with a design mimicking the generic food aisle in the grocery store (four years before Marvel's non-legendary "Generic Comic Book," which I recall having a decent story, where a kid gets super powers from the radiation from his glow-in-the-dark toys and wax injection mold museum souvenirs), the Peer Pressure record was unknown, but eventually became legendary. This non-functioning band was a home recording Connecticut duo that did not seem the see any difference between new wave and Dr. Demento, so their amazing nutty songs can as easily pass for real punk as they can be dismissed as goofy novelty rock. The canonization as punky goodness was mainly achieved when the song "Sound of the 80's" became a Killed By Death mystery punk treasure. I personally prefer "That's Why They Call 'Em Moms," a delightfully catchy slice of mom cheerleading mixed with light Oedipal issues. "Underachiever," sung in a Poindexter high school kid nerd voice reveals the full Barnes n Barnes/Weird Al destiny this band could have had, but alas, they stopped barely existing before Reagan's hostage freeing inauguration. And remained lost until record researchers Jason Litchfield and Ryan Richardson tracked down their story and found a little more music to release. All of that, seven songs in total, is included in this double single which manages to be a lush reissue while still looking totally generic! Dementoids rejoice!

David Greenberger and Prime Lens "My Thoughts Approximately," 'It Happened to Me," David Greenberger & Shaking Ray Stevens "Tramos tthat go think IN THE NIGHT," David Greenberger and Dozens "Near the Edge of the Penny Jar Spill," David Greenberger, Keith Spring & Dinty Child with Keith Hashimoto "take me where I don't know I am," David Grennberger & The Pahtone Scooters" "Fractions by Stella," Diavd Greenberger and A Strong Dog "so tough"

(Pel PEL, 2011-2019) Over 40 years ago Chicago-born seeker/art-brain man David Greenberger started interviewing residents of a nursing home at which he worked and put mostly short, self-contained, sometimes borderline non-sequitor excerpts of his interviews in a quiet, poetic, strange zine. This work made its way into comics, films, radio, a Ted Talk, and for over 25 years, full length albums of Greenberger reading the best moments of his explorations into the memories, thought processes, inhibitions (and lack thereof), brilliance, disconnectedness, ultra-connectedness, history, and poetry of the elderly. While I have an affinity for some of the best albums in the past that were collaborations where David spoke over the music of rock and roll square pegs (Terry of NRBQ, Paul Cebar of the Milwaukeeans), the last decade or so of recordings that I have heard see talented collaborators mostly finding less rocking ways to compliment the words of the wise. It sometimes gets more exciting when the musicians get weird ("Fractions by Stella" features oddball improvisors, including Tatsu Aoki and Eugene Chadborne) or more music-ish ("so tough" kind of swings at times, and in the rhythmic "Tubes and Juice and Air," an elder American's assessment of how a TV works is borderline sung by Greenberger, locked into the musicians groove). But even when the music delivers an eclectic, jazzy vibe ("Tramps," a nice album to start with for new DG fans, even dips into jump blues) the music is almost always a near-neutral backdrop, the words are the thing. Occasionally those words contain semi-lurid material ("so tough" has strip poker and vampires, there is true crime and Frankenstein on "Fractions"), but usually the profundity of mundanity is part of the point. The most recent, lengthy, soothing one I heard was creating at an artist's residency, because this is recognized by artists as art, and had cover art by an artist (Ed Ruscha). And though Greenberger has been a musician for decades (Men & Volts is one of many bands he was in) he does not draw on his musicianship to deliver this word jazz, he draws upon genuine empathy for and genuine fascination with humans and their brains and lives and triumphs and tragedies. His calm tones tell tales with love, and that is why I listen, no matter whom he collaborates with. And also for funny Frankenstien stuff.

The Embarrassment "Patio" b/w "Sex


(Last Laugh, 1980/2011) The Embarrassment were only around for a few flashes in 80s Kansas, and never hit big, but there are some people who love, love, love what this band did in their heyday (they have had more deep dive compilation/rarities albums then actual albums released, and their "big" label debut/swan song they made in '89 featured some re-recordigns of earlier songs). This reissue of their debut 45 shows why: they had the formula for what would soon be called College Rock and become the powerful radio format "Alternative" in the limper grip of bands like REM, but seemed a little wilder and vaguely darker. "Sex Drive" (about a car trip, not a libido, though libido is involved) is super memorable and ridiculous and mighty, and if I could get them back together 30 years after the BAR/NONE label mis-shot their shot, I'd have them re-record it again!

Stupids "Demonstration Tape, 1989"

(Alona's Dream, 2015) This British hardcore band had a nice 80s run where they seemed funny and stupid and ridiculous, but getting bigger and older and more worldly will sap the fun out of any band, and it's hard to imagine the Stupids would have been good in the 90s (especially in hindsight, as Tom went on to Drum 'n' Bass glory, which is actually better sounding than many routes adult hardcore kids took). So it's pretty surprising that that these demos from '89, right before the dissipated, have emerged and they are balls out, delightful, furious fun. With tentative Chicago connections (Iain Burgess, who helped Big Black sound bigger, if not blacker,  produced this, and the Stupids sometimes went by the Coolest Retards, named after a Chicago punk zine) it's only proper that one of our labels should release this beast. This is stupid fresh!

The Amazing Adventures of Pleaseeasaur


(Comedy Central, 2006) JP Hasson certainly won our hearts with his American Sheriff persona, which involved being a character and dressing up, and who didn't love JP Incorporated, a multimedia extravaganza that was a pummeling tsunami of pleasantly earworm-ish commercial jingles for fictional businesses. But for my shekels, you can't beat Pleaseeasaur, in which he had characters and dress up and jingles for fictional businesses! Revisitng this DVD is a pleasure, as the 2nd cheapest cartoon team from Adult Swim (this is limited animation from the Sealab 2021 gang, but let's never forget Tom Goes to the Mayor, a cartoon featuring Xeroxes of actor's faces that didn't move) helps create a loose narrative resembling an adventure that connects JP's many handsome alter egos (the Pizza Brothers, the Abominable Snowman, Dr. Laser [spoiler alert - it's actually D.R. Laser], and the heroic Pleaseeasaur, a limo driving sonic blasting superdude). If he sung 7% better better, or his songs were 4% more jingle-worthy, or he was 11% less weird, then JP's good looks and ambition and winner's attitude might make him less sympathetic to the common comedy fan, but that math considered, this is so strange and delightful that you love the guy. LOVE HIM! And only want all his characters to live happily ever after eating pizza and ramen in a limo wearing cool jeans, and bobbing their heads to the respective theme songs for each product.

The Destructors "Pow! That's What I Call Killmusik: Volume 3 (Reflection)"


(Rowdy Farrago, 2017) This features the non-cover Destructors tracks from their last batch of split EPs, plus a few new songs and covers. The best if the bunch is a pub anthem, "Drinking for England," which actually made me thirsty." There's a sad lyrics/peppy music Oi song about suicide (not the oi-iest, but they actually chant, "Oi! Oi! Oi!"), a cannibal song for the frozen smoothie age, and a cover of a hopefully nihilistic song by Detroit punk pioneers Death. Not the peppiest subject matter for a band that ultimately was winding down, but true to form.

The Destructors "131313 (Malchance)"


(Rowdy Farrago, 2014) This came out on my birthday, 3/31 (a decent present, thanks guys!), although 1/31 or 1/13 would have been better because it would have been the 13th month of 2013, as this is the last release in their year series (6/6/06, 7/7/07, 8/8/08 through 2/12/12, all with themes that match the numbers/dates). This has a bad luck theme, and it's a broad definition, with songs about damnation, bad attitude, and addiction, and an extra heavy dose of covers, including earth's favorite band (some aggro portraits of the sad sack characters of "Eleanor Rigby") and my favorite band (a relatively loyal version of the monks magnificent "I Hate You"). Getting to hear the Destructors play one of the best songs ever (and do it very well) feels like a rabbit's foot four leaf clover lucky charm moment for me, so while I liked this album a lot, thematically it fails.

Really Red "Teaching You the Fear' "The Complete Collection 1979-1985"


(Alternative Tentacles, 2015) This is not the first band you think of when the subject of early Texas punk comes up, but maybe they should be. From the late 70s til the mid 90s (as documented in this thorough discography reissue/excavation) this band made political, driving, original punk that somehow got better every year (a near impossibility in punk). From bashing proto-hardcore, to post punk, to proto-emo, this band starts off oddly smart and mature and just refines without getting boring. I really only knew them from being on an Alternative Tentacles comp in the 80s, so good on Jello for bringing this all home like this.

Ringo Starr and his All Starr Band "Ringo at the Ryman" DVD


(Universal, 2013) I love Ringo and I like the idea of the All Starr Band (where he gathers members of Classic Rock-era bands and has them do their hits between his Beatles bangers). This DVD is great in the sense that the Ryman is gorgeous and the band is powerful. But the best thing about this video is that it saves me the money of ever buying a ticket to see the All Starrs, as this is both wonderful and super boring. The only other artist here I would have paid to see is Todd Rundgren, but even though it's fun when he's banging on his drum all day here, it's not worth the price of admission. Joe Walsh stops by with his talkbox, which is also kinda cool. I certainly don't care about the guy from Mister Mister, but it was a little interesting I guess how his voice sounds just like the records, but not that interesting, as I never listen to these records. Not the case with Greg Rolie, and hearing the voice and keys of Santana singing and playing is definitely something. But not SOMETHING. Ringo is charming, funny, plays fine, and sings with a relaxed kind of joy that is a pleasure, and of course, he had the most bubbly Beatles tracks and a few fun solo hits to choose from, so this is fine. But nothing worth driving to Ravinia for.

The Destructors "Politika II"

(Rowdy Farrago, 2015) This releease celebrated/damned the 2015 General Election in England, whixh was a Conservative triumph, although the Destructors didn't give a shit who won, because all politicians are corrupt hypocrites, politics is all a trick, anarchy is the best political philosophy (though revolution is worth celebrating), and because the ultimately urge their listeners to don't vote, because "it only encourages them." Not the hardest stances to take or most difficult songs to write if you have devoted decades to being a crust-adjacent (Crass is the only cover song included) working man's punk band, but it is still impressive they can get the fury and bile up almost forty years after they started destructing. Also, this album contains a song that makes a convincing case that the Destructors are better than the Clash. Ok, not the real Clash, but play the "Cut the Crap" album track 'This is England" back to back with the different song of the same title by Destructors (which also appears on their pub song anthem album, "Beer Goggler") and there is no doubt who would win your vote in that election. But don't vote, it only encourages them.

The Destructors/Cretin 77 split "Divide et Impera"

(Rowdy Farrago, 2014) Cretin 77 sound like they may actually be '77 punk reenactors, like the guys that devote themselves to perfectly recreating Civil War battles. So not cosplay, but hardcore devotion. But not devotion to hardcore, because that was after '77. Maybe their song "Killer Kane" is about the New York Dolls, which is before '77, but because their British '77 punk vocals are so period perfect I could not make out the lyrics, so I rescind that criticism (and for the same reason, I can go on assuming their song "Johnny's Story" is about the Pistols and not know if I'm wrong or right). When our ragged heroes the Destructors kick in with a jarringly patriotic anthem on track four we are both transported back to the actual 70s from whence they came and reminded of the timelessness of scuzzy rowdy pub punk.

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Colorshop Volume 1


(, year unknown) This fascinating foggy filmstock compilation features a curated collection of lat 60s/early 70s TV commercials. Highlights include some kooky creatures: there was a Seven Up bottle body woman, a very strange walk around wizard mascot at Magic Mountain, Zuper Duper fruidrink animals (if you cleaned the cartons [or not] you could make stacking [sticky] hybrid beast toys), and Bubble Yum's mascot the Flavor Fiend, who looks  a little like a Muppet but sounds a lot like one, as the voice is a Jim Henson impersonator. The jury is out as to whether FF is better than the current BY mohawk duck.  Other highlights include Kool Aid destroying a bowling alley. In a more mellow ad aimed towards black consumers, the Kool Aid admen posit that you never outgrow it, if you're a crying baby, a dashiki-clad dad or church elders,  Also, there were a LOT of milk ads in the 1970s. The bonus feature is a school filmreel about kids watching out for deceptive commercials, and I learned a lot, thoug hfailed the quiz at the end.

Wacom TX


(Wacom TX, 2020) These dudes do comedy skits that maintain a nice deadpan while being super ridiculous (a pretend shooting accident is their biggest hit, and their straight delivery clearly convinced a lot of rubes it was real), and the skits are fine but what I love most are the short, super weird cartoons they make, which even at zero budget/caveman era animation level must have took a lot of work, and each has about 3 views. There is one about a D&D character in a thong going to a restaurant that is a masterpiece. I think the other 62 people who saw that will agree.

The Destructors "Dolor Goggles" (Rowdy Farrago, 2015)

(Rowdy Farrago, 2015) This is more specific than just a drinking themed album, almost all the songs are very specific about beer, use the word beer, and have a balance between celebrating drinking and documenting the ill effects on your body that seem more beer specific than whiskey specific (there would be moree murder and less laughing with dark spirits). While mostly trash punk originals on this, they do make a Pogues song sound drunker, so that's amazing!

Jello Biafra and the New Orleans Raunch and Soul All Stars

 (Alternative Tentacles, 2014) This live album opens with a promise to "create disturbance," but rather than the political and cultural upheaval Biafra's bands have fomented for decades the disturbance he immediately pivots towards is in your bowels from greasy Waffle House food, as the livest Dead Kennedy  celebrates the poo in the Crescent City classic, "Ooh-Poo-Pah-Doo." Thus begins a raucous concert with Jello fronting a slightly shoddy/sometimes tight party band with a five piece brass section doing New Orleans classics, frat rock anthems, and garage trash nuggets for a Jazz Fest audience. Jello's Fred Schneider-fights-Beaker-nasal nodule noodlings make these interpretations stand out as something very different than a regular party band, and experiencing his Biafran banter live must have made it worth getting beer, sweat, and Waffle House diarrhea in your hair. Listening at home you will have to provide your own liquids.

Elia Y Elizabeth "El Onda de..."


(Vampi Soul, 2014) In the early 70s by young sisters who perform in the enchantingly eerie harmonics only achieved by sharing vocal cord-DNA. Working with arranger Jimmy Salcedo they released some records and were all over TV before quitting the biz to go back to school. But in that brief time peridod they created the grooviest music, with post-folkie simplicity kissed by the complexity of psyche and Tropicalia and Latin groves and funk. All these tracks are cool and soothing while also feeling intensely dense with audio action. I have been listeningto this for days and it makes my world better.  All the songs are written by big sis Elia Fleta (although one outlier is obviously "Kicks" by Paul Revere slightly altered into a sexy song about nightmares) and they are all beautiful and magical.

The Destructors "The Somme"

(Rowdy Farrago, 2016) The Battle of the Somme lasted almost five months and a million soldiers were injured or killed in not only one of World War I's deadliest events, but also in THE history of The World (Only I We Have). So that battle is too big a subject to tackle in an hour of scuzzy pub punk. So how about just the first day of the battle? Well, about 20,000 British soldiers died on that first day, so that's a bloody fistful as well. But the Destructors are up for the brutal task. Most of this record is their signature bombast, and they jump into the death and destruction with sonic fury. A few of the songs were a little too 90s-sounding to my tastes, with touches of White Zombie (and worse bands) but this is such heavy subject matter that the idea of an excess of approaches/styles/songs seems appropriate. They do period soldier sing alongs (with battlefield sound effects), pub punk, and even Motown (their take on Edwin Starr's  take on, "War," they also bring the Jam down to their level, and tone down a Motorhead song on the subject). Destructors are irreverent (funny wordplay about dismemberment and loss of limb) outraged, and ugly, all commemorating a Century old massacre and bringing it back to ugly life so today's punks don't forget. That's what this album is good for (ungh!).

Friday, October 9, 2020

Bossa Nova and Grits


(Vampi Soul, 2015) If you make a compilation of magical, desperate, throbbing, funny, perfect R&B from the Federal and King labels circa the late 50s and early 60s obviously it will be god level. Every label should just do this instead of other stuff. Wynonie Harris, Little Willie John, Roy Brown and Amos Milburn all demonstrate their canonized greatness, but some of the hottest shots here are from lesser lights, (like Little Joe Washington's absurd title track). Young John Watson's "Space guitar," Juanita Nixon's "Stop Knockin'" and The Lamplighters' "Be-Bop Wino" should all be on your must listen bucket list.

Carsickness "1978-1982"

 (Get Hip, 2017) I had never heard of this grroup before this retrospective, and I'm not happy about this!  Someone should have told me there was a raging, tempo tantrum/time signature bandits/post punk band with Clash-esque vocals and X-Ray Spex sax! That the band made a bouncy Antifa anthem ("what do you say/KKK/fuck you!") and a dark ska (think "The Boiler") cut called "Invisible man" that is not about  a monster movie character, but sounds like it should be in a monster movie. How come you didn't tell me how good the cheese was motherfucker!

Radio Ready Texas Volume 1

(2013, Cheap Rewards) This collection of Lone Star power pop rarities circa 1978-1983 is really nice. First note: The Haskells are not the Midwestern record collector thirst trappers The Haskels, and despite this nerdy track soundsing way to much like the Happy Days theme, it actually earwormed me and is now my fave track from the comp, but it's definitely not the best. Amarillo's amazing Amatones are awesome as I endorse any new wave cabaret novelty song about cosmetic surgery. Bette ryet are The True hearts, who deliver slightly sour power pop that captures the underlying sadness that's a frequent foundation of the genre. But really killing it are The Rattlecats, who have the most caveman-sounding track (though only the second most sound-like it-was recorded-in-cave track, trailing the lo fi Tex-trasher by the U.S. Mods.). Keeping Austin seared this song proves that pop hooks and garage rock teen muck can go hook in hook.

1  jumbly handclaps make this a winner

Algo Salvaje, Algo Salvaje Vol. 2


(Munster, 2014) These compilations contain almost sixty tracks of groovy, swinging, wild, nasty, ridiculous 60s garage, beat, go go rock n roll from Spain, and some get a little too weird to make the Nuggets/Pebbles all time classic cut (Los Buitres break up their nasty trash rock song with balladry breaks that may have inspired Julio Iglesias) but every track and band here is wild enough to warrant worship.  The ghostly fuzz of Los Polares spooked me! Los Relamplagos have a boner twang rhythm track! Los Sonsadores recorded a song from UNDER a haunted house! And there are over cincuenta more bands! Los AWESOMES!

The Destructors/The Malingerers SPLIT "DEUS LUNA"

(Rowdy Farrago, 2015) This is one of the craziest split EPs the Destructors have done, as usual they recruited some Peterborough pub mates, but rather than pairing with a punk band here we open with the Malingerers doing three glass raising No Depression/rootsy country folk blues numbers, pretty and fun and rural-ishly festive. Then to compliment the quaintness the Destructors unleash darker fury than usual, including a Birthday Party cover stinking of Hell's brimstone and a hidden Oi track that will curbstomp your head! But like MC Skat Kat told Paula Abdul, opposites attract!

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Holle Thee Maxwell "All Kinds'a Blues...All Kinds'a Ways,"

(Maxxemom, 2011, 2019)When glimpsed on the margins of R&B history it is easy to reduce colorful, eccentric figures to "characters." It is only when you hear their remarkable stories in depth that you learn that they truly have character. As the harrowing accounts in her autobiography of her experiences with the famous and infamous make clear, few have more character than the magnificent artist formally known as Holly Maxwell. Though she is not siging as much these days (who is?) this blues CD for a few moons back makes it clear that if there's a show she's the show!

Durell Daniels and Soul "Release"

(Darling Lion, 2007) Not a blues album, this is just (as promised) a straight up soul record with Daniels delivery smooth and sexy tones and rough and ready growls as needed. Best yet, this has skits about the band and their rabid fans that are kinda The Time-esque, but really remind me of late 80s hip hop album skits (the best hip hop album skits).

Angel Bat Dawid "Transition East" b/w No Space For Us"

(International Anthem, 2020) It's tempting to talk about Angel Bat Dawid as Chicago's greatest young creator in experimental jazz, but "young" seems a relative term. On the one hand, because of her exuberance and energy and youthful beauty I always think she is younger than her government age, but on the dominant hand, it seems likely she is actually from ancient Egypt, or is a time traveller from the distant future. Honoring the AACM and Sun Ra, the artist creates brave sonic atmospheres that are so textured with instinctual, yet deeply thoughtful, decisions and patterns. Inspired by the book Make Some Space, by Emma Warren, about the energy and magic of social creative spaces (there were some limited edition book and record sets), Bat Dawid travels through space, with a thrilling solo recording and a riveting, percussion-rich piece with her clarinet playing against Ben LaMar Gay's horn. Declaring the Afrofuture to be today, Bat Dawid has delivered a intergalactic treasure.