Monday, August 16, 2004


1) TELEVISION - Live at the Old Waldorf, San Francisco, 6/29/78 CD-R
It's nice to have friends who'll go to the trouble for you. Take this CD-R a friend burnt for me during the week. When I told said friend that I was looking for a copy of this limited Rhino CD released last year, and, being a tightwad, was not willing to pay "collector" prices for it, he leapt to the rescue and offered to burn a copy for me. Now this guy - a fuggin' saint, I tells ya - is a music nut of the highest order, and is pretty particular about his goods, so instantly upon his offer he started sweating about his colour photocopier not being in such hot shape and therefore the cover he'd print for me probably wouldn't look that good. "Huh? Cover?", I quizzed. "Don't worry about the cover, just the disc is fine". "Sorry, Dave, but if I'm making a burn for someone, I want it to look good, like the real thing". "Yep, uh, cool". I caught up with him during the week and he presented me with this: a perfect, jewel-case replica of the original Rhino digipak, full colour print job, even a beautifully typed-out print on the disc. Now, I'm impressed. Oh, the music! Whaddya think?! This rocks! Primo TV splitting up tracks from their two late '70s LPs, a "big" rock sound that rakes out some of the weediness from their studio recordings and the obligatory epic rendition of "Marquee Moon". A great thing, if you can get it.
PS - I don't approve of people burning commercially copyrighted and available music - indie, major, whatever - but if Rhino insist on making such releases of a stupidly limited nature, cutting out the possibility of a fan purchasing the disc for a reasonable price if they just so happened to miss the boat first time 'round, then it's burn, baby, burn. Ahem...

2) THE SCENE IS NOW - Burn All Your Records LP
Again, let's put our hands together and sing the song: "That's what friends are for...". I hung with my old pal Scotti yesterday out in the green valleys of Wattle Glen and spent the afternoon kicking back, spinning his records and talking absolute bollocks for hours on end. It was, in short, a pleasant way to spend a Sunday. Whilst browsing through his LPs and flicking through the myriad Salvation Army bargain discs clogging his music room (one must have a music room), one LP in particular leapt out at me and begged for its attention. I willingly gave it attention and we committed a beautiful, mutually consenting act. After the first spin of Burn All Your Records - an album I'd been looking 12 goddamn years for - I proceeded to bore Scotti with what an amazing and under-rated band I thought TSIN to be. He nodded to keep me satisfied, announced his surprise at me not owning the record in question (he knew I was a fan, but figured I had all their albums) and offered to lend it to me. I accepted. 24 hours later and now he's offered to give it to me, and in return I shall throw something his way. Now that's a story.
Anyway, Burn All... is TSIN's first album, from 1985, and a much wilder and weirder affair than their straighter efforts of the late '80s (all of which I love, too; check the Top 50 Albums of All Time list). An army of instruments battles dada art-rock in NYC ca. '85 and we all come off winners. Think: 'Ubu, Beefheart, Red Krayola, Television, Minutemen and you're getting there. Scorchin' stuff.

3) THE KINKS - We Are The Village Green Preservation Society LP
I never had any solid opinions about the Kinks until I was 23 or '4, since, outside of the obvious hits (all of which I "liked"), I'd never heard too much of their music, good as I'd heard it to be. That all changed when, working in the Shock warehouse in the mid '90s, we in the manufacturing department (it's as glamorous as it sounds, believe me) were given a box of cassettes to either destroy, throw away, keep or give to friends. It was all deleted stock and mostly rubbish, though I took some Peter Hamill and Holger Czukay solo tapes and a Kinks Best Of. I figured it'd make a good driving tape. It became more than that: for six months they turned into an obsession and this tape a daily ritual in the workplace (luckily the two other guys in the warehouse similarly fell under the spell of Davies and co.). I think the cassette eventually got chewed up by the player, so I bought a cheapie 2LP Best Of featuring pretty much the same tracks and then started buying a few "real" Kinks albums. ...Village Green Preservation Society remains the real keeper, an almost perfect psychedelic pop album, it's the cliche of MOJO readers worldwide, but really: Ray Davies is possibly The Great English Songwriter of the last 40 years.

I bought this from Forced Exposure when it came out in '94 or whenever, played it a bunch of times, figured it to be a pretty cool item to hang onto, and have dragged it out on a more or less yearly occasion since. This week its number's up and I've given it a brief skip over, and it really has to be a "skip", since three discs of avant-garde/free jazz/electronic noise of a fairly structureless variety can test a man's patience, even ol' Iron Ears Lang. I still don't think that three discs was entirely necessary for this kinda stuff, but Coley/Thurston did such a nice job with the packaging and booklets (chronicling the members, the art, the music, the drugs - everything), I figure it's an important document detailing post-Stooges Detroit avant-rock which I should really hang onto. And people tell me suckers are paying outrageous amounts for this thing these days... Is that true?

I had to order both of these from Amazon, since the genius' at all the Australian DVD companies have never bothered to license these two, um, "classics" for the local market. OK, so Suburbia ain't really a "great" or even "good" film, by any stretch of the imagination. I mean, here's some ingredients which could put a man off his feed: the presence of not only Flea (of RHCP) in an acting role, but also appearances by three of the worst punk bands in all of California at the time (1982): D.I., Vandals and T.S.O.L. Yeah, well, sometimes you just gotta laugh at these things. The live performances are all so over-the-top in a really bad way they'll have you in stitches: D.I.'s Casey looks like he just stepped out of the Quincy "punk" episode; T.S.O.L.'s Jack Grisham, in the height of their "goth-punk" phase looks like, to quote an old Gene Simmons[!] saying, "a footballer in a ballerina's dress"; and the Vandals... well, they're still going and The Kids actually like them, and that's no laughing matter. Anyway, I hadn't seen this in over ten years, but figured that, as a budget DVD, it'd make a funny item to show friends when they came around, so threw it in the cart at the Amazon supermarket. The first time I saw Suburbia I was an obnoxious 14-year old Biafra/Lydon-worshipping twerp who didn't know his ass from his elbow. That guy thought Suburbia was the coolest fuckin' movie of all time, man. I'm older and a little wiser now, so I can honestly say it is in fact an appallingly acted, stilted, shoddily directed wreck of a movie with the momentum of sloth, but by god, it's a fun thing to watch, and an interesting period piece I still gain great enjoyment from.
River's Edge, on the other hand, is a really good film. No irony here, buckaroos, this is the real deal: a quality pic. Watching it now, for the first time in a few years (I have an unplayably crusty copy on video), it's striking how, dare I say - yes, I'll take that dare - "proto-grunge" it is. The spikes, flannel shirts, army coats, rip-roaring music (The Wipers, Reign In Blood-era Slayer and a few flunky, B-grade punk and metal acts), gloomy Northwestern landscapes, listless, apathetic teens - Grunge America of the early '90s stole this movie's act! I thought this flick was the bees knees in high school, and I'd like to restate that claim: the best thing Keanu Reeves ever did (that's a certainty), another great, whacky Dennis Hopper role to add to his CV, and Crispin Glover's performance as a drugged-out white-trash burnout (donning the funniest, and most convincing, hesher mullet ever seen on screen) should've earned him an Oscar. I give it a 4 and a half. You?

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