MORE CASSETTE REVIEWS!
VARIOUS - Program: Annihilator II
Dig this KICK-ASS line-up: Soundgarden, SWA, DC3, Bl'ast!, Sylvia Juncosa... it reads like a who's who of shockingly unlegendary SST schlock, which, in fact, is exactly what this SST sampler is. I had to jog my memory for a second regarding this tape, knowing perfectly well that I never mail-ordered it or paid full price. Aaah, I was GIVEN it! Yes, back in 1997 or so when Shock (SST's Australian distributor, whom I worked for from '95-'99) was clearing out dead stock from their shelves, their label manager, obviously sensing the MASSIVE lack of commercial potential of the Annihilator II cassette (what the hell was Shock thinking stocking it?? Was it a cancelled customer order?), spotted me in the vicinity and said something to the effect of, "Dave, you like all this SST horseshit, don't you? Take these". Woohoo, an Annihilator II cassette and a Saint Vitus CD! Talk about making off like a bandit!
Anyway, let me give a quick blow-by-blow on this sucker: SOUNDGARDEN: This band is, was and forever shall be truly awful. I really did try to listen to their two songs here, but had to promptly forward-wind two minutes in and I'm currently undergoing therapy for my troubles. Rock on! SAINT VITUS: I LOVE this band. Ham-handed Sabbath-rock from a bunch of ugly old geezers who look like they should be swinging pool cues at Altamont. These tracks, however, from their 1989 LP Mourning Cries, are not representative of their best work. Plodding shitbag-rock without the necessary swing. SYLVIA JUNCOSA: Well, I'll give her credit for leaving SWA, but then again, why did she join in the first place? That's like giving credit to someone for leaving the KKK or something. Anyway, Juncosa (and what the FUCK ever happened to her?!) was a hot-shit guitar player in LA in the late '80s whose album with To Damascus was hailed by various people as the greatest thing of the decade, so SST signed her up pronto and proceeded to kill her career within 18 months. That's her story. The music? Two tracks, pretty OK. I used to have the album these are from. Kinda 'Flag-ish psych/hard-rock thing with a heavy Ginn influence. No one gives a shit, but I reckon Ms. Juncosa had it, at least for a moment. DESCENDENTS: two tracks from their weak All LP. Mixing 'Flag-style jazz nonsense with Beach Boys pop harmonies just doesn't work. BAD BRAINS: three late '80s live tracks, all songs originally released in studio form on their righteous-beyond-words Rock For Light LP from '83. These still sound fuggin' ace. SWA: without doubt one of the worst independent rock bands of all time. You could write a thesis on just how wrong this band is. They stink like a dead mule and are roughly half as exciting. Chuck Dukowski's post-Black Flag unit, SWA released about 3 or 4 albums in the mid to late '80s that set all-new standards for excruciatingly dull, tuneless and insanely unappealing rock music. These two tracks showcase that unique talent. You've been warned. BL'AST!: Fuckin' Bl'ast!, dude! Confession: I dig Bl'ast! They haven't a unique thought in their collective brains, and very well may have - or should have - called themselves Black Flag 2, but that's OK by me. Ingredients: Xerox My War or Damaged or Slip It In, dilute by 50% and add some skateboards. That's Bl'ast!. DC3: I was discussing this with a friend the other day: why is it that Chuck and Dez, undoubtedly the coolest mofo's who went thru the 'Flag wringer, both wound up with the WORST MOTHERFUCKING BANDS OF ALL TIME? DC3, I swear, just try listening to any of their SST albums, and call an ambulance before the needle hits a groove. You'll need it. The English language is not comprehensive enough to explain the levels of dullness this band effortlessly achieves. These two tracks, however, are taken from their Vida live LP, which is the only half-decent thing they ever did. Unfortunately they decided to include their piss-weak version of "Thirsty and Miserable" here, but that's OK: "Angel of Death" a cool, creepy-crawly original is also included. They should've tacked on their ace rendition of Hawkwind's "Psy Power" instead. This cassette, its music, its ludicrous liner notes ("EXTREME CAUTION is mandatory with all use of this psychic program material"... shoulda warned them about Swa and DC3...), its scant reasons for existence all border on high comedy. It's a keeper!
SLUB - s/t
SLUB were an '80s Melbourne band (who trundled thru the early '90s in abbreviated forms) made up of various infamous substance abusers who were considered fairly hot property for roughly two seconds due to the over-the-top praise of B-Side fanzine, and indeed released a 7" on Sympathy for their efforts. There's also a pretty cool LP on Dr. Jim's, which, if you can find it (which is highly unlikely, sorry) is well worth getting. Slub, whose most "famous" member was John Murphy (he of ex-: Current 93, Whitehouse, Nico, News, Babeez, Orchestra of Skin and Bone and roughly 5 dozen other outfits), mined a kind of, dare I say, "pigfuck" (oh, blasts from the past!) genre mixed up with art-rock pretensions garnered by various band members' impressive collection of European vinyl. Or you could say they somehow combined the grunt of Black Flag and Hawkwind with the arty shenanigans of Faust, Beefheart, Pere Ubu, Art Bears and assorted free jazz types. You think I like it? You betcha! As much of a cliche as such an impressive list of name-dropping may seem in this day and age, Slub pulled it off well, and remember, back in the '80s, next to no-one in Melbourne gave a flying fuck about Hawkwind or Fred Frith or Plastic People of the Universe, so this tape (in essence their "demo"), from '88, is quite an impressive feat. Got this in '91 at Au-go-go (who apparently co-financed or co-released it) and I'm STILL hangin' on.
THE SCENE IS NOW - Shotgun Wedding
Read way below (like near the very beginnings of this blog) for the lowdown on TSIN. Here's another tape I completely forgot I had, and yet I was given it by TSIN's Chris Nelson himself! (He contacted me about 5 years ago after I dropped TSIN's name when referring to Slovenly in an unrelated article!). Whooaah, dude! Seriously, there's lots of good stuff here, with TSIN's patented blend of rootsy harmonies and off-kilter rhythms stolen from old Beefheart and Pere Ubu discs (again, Tony Maimone from 'Ubu appears here), and let me just say that after having listened to this last weekend whilst driving up to the country to witness an annual TRACTOR-PULL COMPETITION with the Mrs., that TSIN have got their finger on the button when it comes to the lost art of perfect highway-cruising tunes. A-fuckin'-men!