Thursday, June 24, 2004

OK, so there's probably no excuse: I've been slack... but I've been busy, too, and sometimes there just ain't enough hours in the day to be able to place oneself in front of a computer and write about some inane, obscure nonsense for the benefit of roughly a dozen people. You know, there are other priorities. But not right now!

I promised a SONIC YOUTH review a little while back, and since it was nearly two weeks since I saw them at the Forum, and about three weeks since I purchased their latest CD, Sonic Nurse, it's time for the hanging judge.

Sonic Nurse is possibly the worst album the band has released. It's not "awful" per se, just shockingly dull. Same tempo, same guitar sounds, same riffs, this isn't just Sonic Youth on auto-pilot: it sounds like they've left the plane entirely and hired a Sonic Youth 101 cover band to take the wheel. Friends of mine feel very differently to me on this matter. I say it not out of spite, but disappointment. Both 1999's NYC Ghosts and Flowers and 2002's Murray St. are excellent Sonic Youth albums. Not groundbreaking by any stretch of the imagination, but totally solid discs with strong material. On the other hand, I couldn't hum a song from Sonic Nurse if my life depended on it. I can't remember any of the songs. I played it a dozen times in a row upon purchase and, bored by the whole experience, have not even looked at it since. Yes, I'm reviewing a new release I haven't listened to in over 2 weeks. It's that exciting. Sonic Nurse is not even interesting enough to waste one's energy writing about.

I wish I could say differently about their live show, but the story is more of the same. The Forum is an excellent venue. Beautiful architecture, a decent sound system, excellent stage and plenty of room to sit or stand. The last time I saw a show there was last year with the Dirty Three (a band I hadn't previously seen since 1996) and prior to that it was in 1982 when I saw E.T.. There's some useless history for you.

Openers, Bucketrider (missed Pink Stainless Tail), the local jazz/noise/rock ubernaut, rocked the house and a little more. Tight as a nun's bun and twice as attractive, they cut out the meandering nonsense that sometimes bogs them down and nailed it with some hyperspeed jazz screech that seemed to even win over the abundance of semi-squares in attendance. "Punk-jazz" is a dirty word no more. Best act of the night, seriously.

Up next was J. Mascis, someone whose "career" I haven't paid the slightest ounce of interest in for roughly 14 years, excluding the "Three Stooges" (that is, Stooges covers) gig he did w/ Mike Watt at the Cherry Bar in 2001 (one of the greatest shows I've ever seen, and one I primarily saw for the Watt factor, anyway). Now, I'd be lying if I said I was paying that much attention to the guy, but from what I heard in between gossiping with the kind of old hacks one tends to run into at such "events", he sounded pretty A-OK. Solo with merely a guitar, a mic and a stool to sit on, he did a few old Dinosaur tracks (I recognised "Repulsion" from their debut) and what I can only assume was a stack of solo material. Seemingly jumping from song to song at random and interspersing it with occasional bouts of extreme guitar distortion of the Neil Young/Eddie Hazel variety, J. was a whole lot better than expected, which, come to think of it, given my expectations, says absolutely nothing, so I'll say this instead: J. Mascis was "good".

These factors are what dragged Sonic Youth down:

1) No stage personality whatsoever. No "hello"'s, no "ho ya going?"'s, not even a "Melbourne, you rock!". We were treated to a brief, smug anti-Bush rant from Thurston and that's it. You know, you can't be on fire every night, and I know that sometimes you go on stage in a foul mood for the stupidest of reasons and act like a petulant turd to let everyone else know it, but that's me and all the two-bit nobody bands I've played in over the years. This is Sonic Youth. People pay a lot of money ($60) to be "entertained" and they acted like they couldn't give the vaguest fuck. The snooty NYC attitude doesn't cut it anymore.

2) Nearly every song played was from Sonic Nurse. This is expected but unfortunate, considering how fucking boring that album is.

3) Too many Kim Gordon songs. Kim's a cool chick, but she couldn't sing her way out of a soggy paper bag, and her voice just gets worse every year. Several vocal moments were nothing less than excruciating.

4) Jim O'Rourke. He's a talented guy, but for the life of me I still can't figure out why he's in the band.

5) This is my final and most important point: Sonic Youth's rampant musical "professionalism". Not a dud note was hit, not a beat was missed. In fact so note-perfect were the band that I seriously should have just stayed at home and tortured myself with my Sonic Nurse CD instead. For some bands, like, say, The Magic Band, musical virtuosity is a must to pull it off, but not for Sonic Youth. Where was the chaos, the unpredictability? Even when they "freaked out" and went into an extended "noise piece" they weren't fooling anybody, or at least not me. They'd rehearsed every single note a thousand times and it showed, the spontenaiety factor being a big, fat zero.

The upshot is this: I didn't hate it, I was just bored. That's the worst insult I could ever throw at a band. Believe me, I've seen some of the worst shit imaginable: the Dayglo Abortions (oh man, more on that some other time!) and Virgil Donati's Project X ("all-star" fusion muso band I saw as a "joke" a few years back after receiving a free pass. Ahem! More on that in the future...), but at least their unabashed worthlessness was amusing to behold, but da 'Youth, and I say this as a long-time fan, were dull as dogshit and a snorefest I wish to never repeat.

On another note, I finally bought EARTH's Extra-Capsular Extraction EP from 1991 yesterday, and it's only convinced me that they are/were one of the truly great American bands of the last 15 years. Ungodly dirges played a mile a day, the band is heaven to these ears, and after an impassioned plea from a friend to give Earth 2 another spin I'm revising my original lukewarm reaction to its grooves. Low-end drones falling in and out of riffage, I'll state an embarrassing cliche and never speak of it again: light a bowl, find a good wall to stare at and breathe in the soundwaves. It's a beautiful thing.

Monday, June 21, 2004

DISCHARGE – Hear Nothing See Nothing Say Nothing LP
Yowser! What an amazing blast of energy this album is: three chords, a couple of dodgy political slogans and some homemade cider and you’ve got Discharge at their peak. I must say, I was never much of a fan of the Brit school of spiky-haired punk. In fact, I loathed it, and still do, but for every rule there’s an exception or two, and Discharge may just be it in this case. My original distaste for the genre was kick-started as a 13 year-old when my brother came home with – and he’s going to kill me for writing this – an Exploited album. Since we were both just getting into the punk rock gravy train, you’re allowed the leeway of making a few wrong stabs in the dark. That was his first. One listen to the record (Horror Epics) and we came to a very hasty but correct conclusion: this band sucks, and therefore any band within a mile of them also sucks, thus the entire genre of early ‘80s British punk can blow me.

Skip 15 years and you’ve got an older and wiser D. Lang fawning over his Rudimentary Peni LPs (more on them some other time) and kicking it in his lounge room to the earth-shattering racket of Discharge’s first three efforts: Why?, See Nothing… and Never Again. The story of how I wound up in such a predicament is so interesting I dare not tell it; suffice to say, Discharge were a band to be reckoned with.

Their beauty lies in their absolute, near-comical minimalism. No song would use more than roughly six lines of lyrics, a hyper-speed 4/4 drum beat and three chords played a thousand miles a minute. Turn your brain off and feel the rush, baby. Like a damaged, black-&-white hybrid of Motorhead and Minor Threat, Discharge are what I refer to as purely perfunctory music: they are a band to lose your shit to. Nothing more and nothing less.

As an endnote I should add that anything they released after those first three EPs/LPs is worthless beyond comprehension, or should I say simply say “beyond comprehension”. Going the full HM route which others at the time only flirted with, they grew their hair long, lengthened the solos, slowed the pace, put the vocalist’s testicles in a vice and sang songs with titles like “Sexplosion” (a track that would shame Spinal Tap). A friend living in the UK recently saw a “reunion” show (with Conflict’s singer on vocals, no less) and summed it up as thus: 50% high comedy, 50% blistering rock ‘n’ roll. That’s the Discharge I love!

Sunday, June 20, 2004

MORE RANDOM REVIEWS…

JOHN FAHEY – Days Gone By Vol. 6 LP
TYRANNOSAURUS REX - A Beard of Stars/Unicorn 2LP
MAGMA – Kohntarkosz LP

I’m reviewing these three together for no other reason than the fact that I happened to buy them all on the same day some time in early 1995. Why do I know this? An incredible capability to retain utterly pathetic and trivial facts related to music. Sue me. These three LPs were bought at Quality Records in Malvern (sorry, but this will probably mean nothing to anyone outside of Melbourne) when it first opened up and a friend and I took a trip there to check it out. After scoring gold upon first visit it became a regular trek to check out its wares. Being in a bit of a daggy part of town, I can only assume the hipsters hadn’t scoured its bin thoroughly yet as over the ensuing 18 months I managed to accumulate a nice bounty of cheap LPs by various krautrockers, avant-progsters, primitive folkies, free jazzers and a plethora of cool discs by better known artistes: Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Eno, Richard Thompson, Beatles, etc. Then the rot set in. I’m not dissing the shop – it’s still pretty OK – though I can only figure that its initial goldmine of records I’d actually want to listen to (as opposed to the Boz Scaggs and Poco albums that clog second-hand bins worldwide) dried up a long time ago, since I rarely ever visit the store anymore, much less buy records from them. Ahem, we’re off the track…

Another point to make with these three discs: all three were the first albums I bought by each respective artist, and a good thing, too, as all three albums also remain my faves by each of them.

JOHN FAHEY I bought on a whim after hearing incessant name-drops from Cul de Sac, a band I dug muchly at the time (Days Gone… features “The Portland Cement Factory at Monolith, CA.”, a song the ‘Sac covered on their incredible debut, ECIM). The cover looked pretty cool and old-timey, the date on the back said 1967: I took the gamble. For me it’s still his best mix of Fahey’s eccentric stylings: hoedowns, blues-ragas, musique concret, etc. The artwork, music, song titles, everything seemed perfectly weird and perfect, and therefore sent me on to the wallet-emptying pursuit of further Fahey vinyl. I continue such a quest!

TYRANNOSAURUS REX I bought for two reasons: I already liked T-Rex via purchases of Electric Warrior and Slider, and mainly because of Jello Biafra’s mentioning of Tyrannosaurus Rex in RE/Search’s Incredibly Strange Music. Yeah, OK, you don’t necessarily have to dig his music, but Jello’s on the ball when it comes to record-collecting. Well, I suppose he is, as that very article is what originally piqued my interest into various goodies in the last decade – Magma, Skip Spence, Yma Sumac, Cro Magnon, Joe Meek – and for that I thank him, I guess. OK, the ‘Rex double set I bought contains their final two (of four) albums as the faery-lovin’ psych/folk/hippie guitar-and-bongo duo they were reputed as, after which Bolan, in search of pop success, shortened the name to T-Rex and headed off for stardom. Both – actually, all four – ‘Rex LPs are stupendous, though for myself their highlight was the Unicorn LP, a scorching set of beautiful, melancholy ballads and a few rabid screamers thrown in for good measure. Bolan’s gift as a vocalist and songwriter are still way undervalued by people whom I thought knew better.

MAGMA, you may or may not know, are/were the French “prog” band most active (and popular) in the ‘70s, and Kohntarkosz is far and away the best thing they ever put to tape. Grab any of their first half-dozen or so albums and you’re in a win/win situation, but none of them quite have the uber-creepy vibe of Kohntarkosz. Epic, galloping horror-rock with the patented speed-jazz drumming and a wall of baritone vocalists chanting from above, this is one crazy, nasty record I love flipping people out with on a dark, rainy night. Featuring two very long songs (over 20 minutes each) and two short tracks ending each side, it works perfectly in building the tension to a point of combustion then suddenly finishing before the ending coda creeps up on you. Great band, you need it.

TWINK – Think Pink CD
Since we’re on a theme here, I guess I’ll review this one, since it’s related on a couple of levels. Firstly, yep, I admit it, I also bought this after Mr. Biafra described it as one of his Top 10 Albums of All Time (gosh!) in the RE/Search book previously mentioned. Secondly, I bought it in 1999 (I think) due to John “Twink” Alder’s involvement with other bands and artists I was a-diggin’ at the time: Pretty Things, Pink Fairies, Paul Rudolph, Steve Peregrin-Took (from Tyrannosaurus Rex), Mick Farren, etc. OK, but more importantly, Think Pink is as good as the hype: a record that, aside from any hipster/collector points it may have earned over the years, stands perfectly well on its own as an excellent set of songs, regardless of any context. Got me? Originally released in 1971 on Polydor, I can only assume that it sunk without at a trace upon release, but over time has rightly garnered a rep as a psych-rock heavy-hitter. For once, the collectors are right! With an all-star cast of various UK underground types – the Deviants’ Mick Farren, Paul Rudolph (of Hawkwind, Pink Fairies, Eno’s band, etc.), Steve Peregrin-Took and some bass player simply known as “Honk”, Think Pink is a masterpiece. Rudolph’s spaced-out guitar leads on the moaning (literally) “Fluid” are electric; the alien moonstomp of “Tiptoe on the Highest Hill” is as good as any Amon Duul song; every damn song is a sure fire hit! I’ve said this before: I’ve been burned way too many times to get excited about these kinds of “finds” these days. You know what I mean: if I haven’t heard of it by now, then it’s probably for good reason. Think Pink is no such thing, it is not Record Collector Music. It’s much better than that. This has been bootlegged - and possibly legitimately reissued - a thousand times, though you want the Akarma version and accept no substitutes!

Friday, June 18, 2004

TAR BABIES

This may seem like a real long shot, but I was wondering if anyone reading this could help me: does anyone have a copy of the TAR BABIES ('80s Wisconsin HC/funk heroes) demo cassette? Surely someone out there has the same problem as me: never being able to throw away a tape. If that's you, please contact me at: lexdev@yahoo.com.au

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

RANDOM RANTS...

Pull a few old LPs off the shelf, dust 'em off and rate 'em...

SWANS - Cop LP
I was a Swans fanboy par excellence ca. '91-'93, but have only sporadically listened to their wares in the intervening years. Some would say their music has aged like a fine carton of milk, though I disagree. Yep, there's some turkeys in the pile, namely the much-maligned The Burning World and parts of the sadly dated Children of God epic (often hailed as their meisterwerk), though amongst it are some discs I'm still not ashamed to admit liking a real lot: the World Of Skin LPs, Greed, White Light from the Mouth of Infinity (spectacular return-to-form double set from 1991) and this, the mighty Cop LP from '84. Unleashing themselves from the more generic Birthday Party/No Wave-isms of their previous LP, Filth, Swans, perhaps by accident, managed to almost single-handedly create a whole new genre of music with Cop: errr, "monolithic sludge"? "Doom"? "Noise-rock"? Ahem, "grunge"? I won't put a label to it, though I will recommend it. Cop is one of the most well-produced albums I own. The thrust and grunt behind every move, every bass riff, every whack of the drum, is audible. With the given theme of the album being human misery, corruption and humiliation (a great party-starter), the Swans created the perfect musical accompaniment for their struggle. Lurching, seething noise, as misanthropic and painful as the subject matter. Once or twice a year, I pull this LP out for actual enjoyment.

PUBLIC IMAGE LIMITED - Flowers of Romance LP
I've been meaning to write about this for a while, one of the greatest and most criminally neglected records on Earth (and people say I'm prone to hyperbole...). I say "neglected" because I must have passed over a thousand dusty, secondhand copies of this disc in my time, and I say greatest because it is exactly that. Whilst I'd probably rather spend an eternity on a desert isle with Metal Box by my side (as was listed in the Top 50), Flowers of Romance wouldn't come far behind. ...Romance was PiL's third studio album, released in 1981 after Jah Wobble was kicked out of the group. To make up for the absence of his throbbing bass lines, Lydon & co. decided, it appears, on a substitute: a wall of percussion. Similarly aided by cluttered, Beefheart-ish romps, Middle Eastern drones and completely abstract, minimalist jaunts featuring virtually nothing but Lydon and a drum kit, this is not only one of the wildest platters ever released by a major label, but one of the all-time great and listenable "outsider" albums. Yes, that's right: put it right next to Yoko's Fly, Amon Duul's Collapsing and Chrome's Alien Soundtracks. After 20 years of almost unbelievable badness, you'd never guess Mr. Lydon actually once made music this inventive and exciting. Strangely enough, I was killing time in a bookstore the other day, reading Kurt Cobain's journal, of all publications, when I noticed that he, as a teenager, listed this as one of his favourite records. Huh? Buzz from the Melvins has said likewise. Must've been something in that Seattle air.

TOTAL - Beyond the Rim LP
DADAMAH - This Is Not A Dream LP

Oh dear, here's a trip down memory lane. From approximately 1991-'95 I, along with many others I won't name, were caught up rather heavily in the whole underground/free-jazz/NZ-Jap-noise/ltd.-pressing/lo-fi/vinyl-only scene of the day. Those who were there (and I know who you are) will know exactly what I'm talking about. Here's the scenario: mailordering records (always records) from Ajax and Forced Exposure (maybe even Blackjack!); religiously reading every issue of Popwatch, Superdope, Wipeout!, Feminist Baseball, Forced Exposure; buying lots of discs on labels like Siltbreeze, Datapanik, PSF, Tulpa, Shrimper, Nuf Sed and, yes, Majora. That was life as you and I knew it. Just admit it.
Majora was/is(?) the hipper-than-hip Seattle label who released vinyl-only editions from any hepcat of the day you may care to mention: every NZ guitar-stroker, every no-fi bedroom loner, even the Sun City Girls and that guy from Skullflower. What happened? Beats me. I kinda dropped out of that "scene" in the mid '90s whilst my musical travels took me elsewhere. Still, it's nice to get teary-eyed over these things every once in a while, and in that manner I bring you these reviews...
DADAMAH were a New Zealand all-star troupe featuring ex-members of this, future members of that and shared members with them. You know the story. This went out of print pretty much upon release, though I think Kranky may have reissued it on CD. More to the point, does that make me one of the "lucky" ones? I guess so. This has some OK moments, kind of a Velvets-as-filtered-thru-a-1981-Rough-Trade vibe, though the pasty-faced whiter-than-white aura it emits doesn't gel too well for me right now. A good thing to have, but I'll stick with my Alastair Galbraith and This Kind of Punishment records for a real NZ fix.
TOTAL = Matthew Bower of UK power-drone outfit, Skullflower, who, surprisingly, are "back" with a new album on Tumult. If you ever lay your eyes upon copies of the band's Ruins, Xaman and Last Shot At Heaven CDs, then hold on tight, baby: them be the goods. I was fuggin' obsessed with Skullflower ca. '93, so this was a pretty predictable purchase on my behalf. I hadn't listened to this in years until the other night, though halfway through Side 1 and my mind was already made up: this is good, real good. Armed with a roomful of exotic instruments (gongs, bells, you name it), a piano, guitar and a distortion box, Bower has built a massive wall of sound, aided by his ability to stick an honest-to-God tune in amongst all the noise. A missing link between the caustic shriek of Masami Akita and late '70s Eno, this is a mixed bag that still sounds mighty good. Score it on the board for Majora!

Thursday, June 10, 2004

TOP 50 ALBUMS: THE COMPLETE LIST… WHILST I STILL CAN

I came to the realisation a few days ago that there’s not a snowball’s chance in hell I’ll ever find time to write essay-length rants on my fave Top 50 Albums, so I’ve decided to simply list them below, in no particular order, in the hopes that one day, over the course of this blog’s “development”, I’ll slowly give each and every one of them a rundown in some kind of way. Again, there are no “token” entries here: these are records I listen to. Rather than calling this a Top 50 list, it’s probably best to name it a “Desert Island Discs” roundup (or whatever...sheez). In other words, if, god forbid, I should ever wind up on a remote island with only a stereo, a power outlet and a stack of music by my side, these are the 50 discs I’d take with me to maintain sanity.

Of course, the moment you finish something like this – which has been written on scraps of paper from months ago when I first hatched the idea – you realise all the other greats you missed and didn’t find room for. You know, just because I couldn’t fit the Boredoms, Minor Threat, The Fall, Hendrix, Saints, Big Star, Birthday Party or Townes Van Zandt, it doesn’t mean I love them any less. Sacrifices must be made! Ahem…


50) THE SCENE IS NOW – Tonight We Ride LP
49) BONGWATER – Double Bummer 2LP
48) HAWKWIND – Space Ritual 2LP
47) JOHN MARTYN – Inside Out LP
46) MERZBOW – Music For Bondage Performance CD
45) GERMS – (GI) LP
44) BRIAN ENO – Apollo LP
43) THE BEATLES – The White Album 2LP
42) ROBERT WYATT – Old Rottenhat LP
41) VELVET UNDERGROUND - Velvet Underground w/ Nico LP
40) MINUTEMEN – Double Nickels on the Dime 2LP *
39) SEX PISTOLS – Never Mind the Bollocks LP
38) BOB DYLAN – Blood on the Tracks LP
37) CAN – Tago Mago 2LP
36) LOVE – Forever Changes LP
35) ELECTRIC EELS – God Says Fuck You CD %
34) ROLLING STONES – Beggars Banquet LP
33) FLIPPER – Public Flipper Ltd. 2LP ^
32) THE POP GROUP – Y LP
31) JOHN COLTRANE – Live in Seattle 2LP
30) DIE KREUZEN – Century Days LP
29) NEW YORK DOLLS – s/t LP
28) MILES DAVIS – Get Up With It 2LP *
27) NEIL YOUNG – On the Beach LP
26) BLACK SABBATH – Master of Reality LP
25) CHARLES MINGUS – Black Saint and the Sinner Lady LP
24) STOOGES – Funhouse LP *
23) MEAT PUPPETS – Up On The Sun LP
22) FAUST – The Faust Tapes LP
21) JOHN FAHEY – Days Gone By Vol. 6 LP
20) HOWLIN’ WOLF – Moanin’ in the Moonlight LP
19) VARIOUS – Nuggets 4-CD box set >
18) SUN RA – Space is the Place soundtrack CD
17) MC5 – High Time LP $
16) MX-80 SOUND – Out of the Tunnel LP
15) PUBLIC IMAGE LTD. – Metal Box/Second Edition 3X12”/2LP
14) HALF JAPANESE – Charmed Life LP
13) CHROME – Alien Soundtracks LP
12) 13TH FLOOR ELEVATORS – Easter Everywhere LP
11) ALBERT AYLER – Lorrach Paris 1966 2LP
10) CAPTAIN BEEFHEART – Trout Mask Replica 2LP
9) BLACK FLAG – Damaged LP
8) FUNKADELIC – Maggot Brain LP
7) PERE UBU – Dub Housing LP
6) CREEDENCE CLEARWATER REVIVAL – Willie and the Poor Boys LP
5) MOTHERS OF INVENTION – Freak Out! 2LP +
4) RICHARD & LINDA THOMPSON – I Want To See the Bright Lights Tonight LP
3) SONIC YOUTH – Sister LP
2) THE WIPERS – Follow Blind LP @
1) VARIOUS – Anthology of American Folk Music 6-CD box set >


* = Well if you gotta - and you know you gotta – have a Greatest Album of All Time (gasp!), then these three tie for first place.
+ = Yeah, it’s a fuggin’ Frank Zappa record!
@ = Huh? Yep, it’s my fave Wipers album… and possibly no one else’s.
$ = Their other two LPs wouldn’t even be in the race!
% = Ok, not an “album” as such (in effect a smattering of demo material; the ‘Eels didn’t “do” albums), but a collection of songs so good it defeats my anal rules system.
^ = Anyone ever going to reissue this live behemoth?
> = Various Artist box sets of a high calibre and solid aesthetic constitution fit the bill as “proper” releases, of course.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

R.I.P. - STEVE LACY

Wow, what a week for music deaths this has been. Lacy may not be a name bandied about so readily by the hipsters, but he is one who should be. A veteran of the US/European jazz avant-garde for 50 years, his discography is as long as both your arms and then some. Along with Ornette, Ayler, Pharoah Sanders and Cecil Taylor, he was one of the prime movers of free jazz in the '60s, though it's probably his haphazard and often hard-to-find output that's put him off the map with many potential listeners. Nevertheless, there's a good dozen Lacy albums I could recommend off the bat, but for now I say go out today and purchase yourself some of his LPs on BYG, EMANEM, FMP and HatHut, pronto! His late '60s European blowouts are incredible, any disc of Monk covers is usually good, and his late '70s quintet work remain among my fave jazz albums. Sad to see him go.

Click here for an article.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

R.I.P. - ROBERT QUINE

I'm not usually one to mope around over the death of some musician I never even met, but for Robert Quine, I'll make an exception. He was, to put it succinctly and correctly, one of the finest "rock" guitarists of the last 35-40 years, and I only put such a word in inverted commas because his musical style crossed many borders. Quine, at least on pretty much every record I've heard him play on, was always the highlight of the music. He wasn't a frontman as such, but his forceful, imaginative playing inevitably brought him to the fore. Look at it this way: where would his two most celebrated collaborators have been without his contributions: Richard Hell and Lou Reed. Blank Generation, fine as it may be, wouldn't have registered a blip without Quine's scattered, frenzied guitar work, and as for Lou's efforts... well, he's always been fairly useless when left to his own devices (his sans Bowie/Cale/Tucker/Sterling/Quine albums being near unlistenable), though for my two cents, as many people would agree, his Quine-era material remains his post-Velvets benchmark (excluding Metal Machine Music, which is in a weird league of its own), due mainly, of course, to the presence of Quine himself.

A natural outcome of his musical heroes, Quine's treble-y wail, based mostly on notes and not chords, was the perfect combination of Chicago blues, Sonny Sharrock, Roger McGuinn, Lou Reed, Pete Cosey and '69-era Keef. I can't figure for the life of me why he wasted the last 10 years of his life doing session/live work with useless nudniks like Matthew Sweet and Lloyd Cole, but I guess such is the life of an itinerant muso. For the record, his presence on John Zorn's great, and under-rated, Taboo & Exile CD from '99, is spectacular and one of his finest recent moments. And, yes, you can also thank him for the existence of that cool Velvet Underground "Official Bootleg" box set that came out a few years back.

More than all this, unlike some of the flaming assholes in the music scene whom I have a bizarre fondness for (insufferable fuckheads like Miles Davis, Greg Ginn and, yep, Lou Reed), Robert Quine also seemed like a really cool guy. If there's any doubt, read here. A rare combination of a talented muso and a decent human being? For that he'll be missed.

Sunday, June 06, 2004

Sometimes you just gotta love All Music Guide. Here's a tidbit from the Steve Albini entry: "Steve Albini came to reflect better than anyone else the defining values of college rock". Has Steve read this?

According to AMG, Albini's "Followers" are solely ASSUCK and ACID BATH. What a legacy! Is fact-checking any kind of priority at AMG? Let's assume not.