Friday, July 30, 2004


WHERE IS RICHARD MASON?

Here's a general shout-out to the community in search of an old friend. Englishman Richard Mason penned many a great article in the late '90s for web zine Perfect Sound Forever, and during that time we were in regular correspondence. He even once mailed me a stack of cassettes he'd made, featuring the likes of Michael Hurley, Screamers, Homosexuals and a pile of Velvets and Can bootlegs (always a man of impeccable taste). You know, he was one of the good guys. Some time around 1999 or 2000 he sent me a brief message telling me that, due to various work and family disruptions at the time, he'd be out of contact for a while but hoped to get back in touch at some point in the future. I ain't heard a word from him since, even though he's written various articles for Ugly Things in the meantime (who haven't been able/willing to give me his address, for whatever reason). Anyway, the point is this: someone out there reading this must know the guy and how to reach him. I feel like I'm making a missing persons report, which I guess I am, in a way, but if you could help me out, here's where to write: lexdev@yahoo.com.au

Monday, July 26, 2004

DAVE'S HIGH FIVE FOR THE WEEK or LET'S KILL SOME SPACE WITH ANOTHER GODDAMN LIST
 
1) OIL TASTERS - s/t LP (more on this at a later date)
2) MC5 - High Time LP (sure beats sitting through a set of the MC3 [with Evan Dildo on vocals?! Where's al Queda when you need ém?]... you mean you people actually paid money to see that?!)
3) CHARLES MINGUS - Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus LP (sheer fucking genius)
4) CHEATER SLICKS - Refried Dreams LP (title track may just be an Anthem For Life. Seriously!)
5) ACID MOTHERS TEMPLE - In C LP (best version of the Terry Riley classic ever? You bet!)

Sunday, July 25, 2004

TIM BUCKLEY - Starsailor CD-R
Just like Neil Young's equally amazing On the Beach, Starsailor sat on Warner's deletions list for way too long. Unlike On the Beach, however, which is now widely available in all its digital glory for everyone to enjoy, Starsailor still sits around in no-man's land waiting for a belated remastered CD version to hit the shelves (though friends - my, so many friends - tell me it was briefly on CD in Germany in the late '80s). As for why this is still unavailable remains a mystery, since it's one of the more talked-about Buckley albums and one that'd surely be financially worthwhile (or at least not a total waste of time) for Warners to bother putting it back in print, but theirs is a logic I can't argue with, since I don't believe they possess any.

Starsailor was Buckley's "difficult" mid-period album which shocked the squares, made the folkies scratch their heads in confusion and delighted a handful of freaks curious enough to wraps their ears 'round it. I waited nearly a decade to hear this, but since vinyl copies are ridiculously scarce (and even more ridiculously expensive; sorry, I won't pay "collector" prices for anything) I've had to make do with a CD-R a friend burned for me. I've had the CD-R for roughly 5 months and not a week has gone by when I haven't checked its wares. Song titles I could tell you very little about, for other than the well-known "Song to the Siren" (later made "famous" to squares and hipsters alike by Cul de Sac and This Mortal Coil) I do not know them. Sure, I could check up on All Music Guide, but a blow-by-blow description is not my style.

At this point in his life, Buckley was listening heavily to the free jazz of Pharoah Sanders and Coltrane and the compositional racket of Gyorgi Ligeti and Krzysztof Penderecki, and both seemingly incongruous influences - especially in the realm of "singer/songwriter folk" - shine through in creating a disc that sounds like no other I own. There's a smattering of squawking horns throughout, some angular, almost Sharrock-like guitar spurts and even a choir of distorted, multi-layered vocal chants obviously influenced by Ligeti's work, but beneath all this, or perhaps on top of it, are some beautiful Tim Buckley songs aching through, and whilst I'm at it I'll state the following: "Song to the Siren" gets my vote as, along with Neil Young's "Ambulance Blues", one of only a handful of "ballads" (for the lack of a better term) I never get tired of hearing. Buckley's widely available Lorca is along similar lines, the freak factor down a little, though for the real thing, burn a copy of Starsailor today. It'll never be the most heavily played Buckley album I own, the more accessible Dreamletter live double LP takes that place, but for more cerebral evenings, Starsailor hits the spot.


SPACEMEN 3 - Perfect Prescription LP
Dragged this one out the other day for its annual review, and I'm glad to say I'm giving it an A- this time around. A smart person once wrote, at the time Spacemen 3 were around, that they were the only British rock group in existence they'd bother walking across the road to urinate on. Believe it or not, that's a complement, and a motion I'd like to second. I don't know if it was something in the water, but the Brits, since roughly 1982, have barely put a foot right when it comes to Rock Music. Sure, they've got the art nonsense of Current 93 and Nurse With Wound (both of whom I love), but when it comes to ROCK, they've been lost a hell of a long time, which is a pity, since so many of my pre-1982 favourites are Brits. Anyone care to differ? Please give me some examples.

There's a few crazy Scots whom I still have great affection for, even after all these years (Dawson, Dog Faced Hermans, Stretchheads), and sure there's the drone-rock of Skullflower, but other than that I can only see a few half-measures (Walking Seeds, Billy Childish and his many mutations), art projects (Simon Wickham-Smith and Richard Youngs, Vibracathedral Orchestra, etc.) and doomsters (Electric Wizard and their kin) I tend to like, none of whom I really consider "rock" in a classic sense or, indeed, "rock" at all.

OK, so you might as well throw in My Bloody Valentine (a band I never gave a hoot about at the time, but have grown to greatly enjoy the last couple of years, much to my surprise), Scott Walker, Robert Wyatt and the odd Fall LP in there, too, but that's it! Here's the point: Spacemen 3 were probably the only new, hot and exciting rock 'n' roll band England managed to produce throughout the mid/late '80s. Whilst the cynic in me says they merely reproduced their impressive record collection - featuring the MC5, Suicide, Stooges, Roky, Velvets, etc. - in an even more impressive fashion, the optimist in me says Yes, they did, and for that be thankful.

Spacemen 3 took these bands and strangled them for their own purposes, it was never simple regurgitation, and for proof of this I will point out their mind-boggling rendition of Red Crayola's "Transparent Radiation", in which they take the very basic essence of the song and give it a whole new interpretation, the result sounding more like an Alan Vega version of a classic psychedelic number. Like Spinal Tap say, "It's a twist". It  is simply a fucking awesome display of power. As far as truly psychedelic rock music of a grade A caliber from the last 20 years anywhere, Spacemen 3 were really it. Amen to that!


BOO BOO fanzine
I'm a fanzine dork from way back, my stifling, space-hogging collection of them a testament to my enthusiasm for the home-produced publication. I mean, I've got a lot of them, and that's for two of reasons: from 1985 'til 1998 I bought just about every zine I could get my hands on; and two, because I never throw the things away. Yep, every butt-cleaning-worthy two-bit fan rag - even the goddamn personal (ie. non-musical) ones - I've hung onto like a sacred treasure. Why? No discernible reason whatsoever, except that to me fanzines are the great toilet read of the last 50 years. It's like this: this is probably far more information than you'll ever wish to read about me, but if I need to visit the porcelain god (the toilet), I know I can always reach my hand into one of my "fanzine boxes", grab a spine, pull out the hard stuff and likely I'll have some ancient goldmine of drivel, genius or all of the above in my mits ready for a 10- to 20-minute perusal (hey, depends on the circumstances), only to file away for a random read months, or maybe years down the track. A copy of Ink Disease from '91 with a lame Bongwater article? No problem. Captain Beefheart in B-Side? Let me have a look. Some Japanese jazz guy I should probably care about (but don't) detailed exhaustively in Opprobrium? Yep, it's on one of those shelves, somewhere.

So why did I stop buying? Because people stopped making them! (myself included). The internet took the reigns for all obsessive, expressive geeks worldwide and now the racks are empty. So be it. I miss the things, though I don't blame anyone for not bothering with the mind-numbing aggravation that trying to get down the printed word (not to mention printing and distributing the damn thing) can produce. Don't know about you, but I'm sticking with this "internet" thing, as I do not intend on spending the rest of my life hocking zines around town with a consignment receipt book in hand. It's just not dignified.

An all-time fave of mine released only one issue I know of (which doesn't mean to say there was only one issue, though I've never heard or read of any others) and featured probably only 30% original material. OK, so whilst such a description may hardly garner any great excitement in anyone reading this, let me give you the lowdown...

BOO BOO (BB) was the work of one Brett Sokol of Cleveland, Ohio, and put together BB in late 1994. I ordered it through Ajax at the time, since the mixture of articles and a reference to Black to Comm in the review piqued my interest. I managed to pull it out recently for its two/three-yearly review, and it passed with flying colours. Inside there's great interviews with the drugged-out duo of Royal Trux; Ohio space-rockers Fuzzhead (aah, now that takes me back to a time and place: excitedly mail-ordering goddamn Fuzzhead albums from Forced Exposure and Ajax...); and Scott Pickering of Prisonshake, Puff Tube, etc. (Brett actually asks questions you'd want to, given the opportunity). Along with that, and this is where the "unoriginal" aspect of the rag comes in, and I only say that literally and not as an insult: a huge chunk of reprinted articles on some interesting topics from way back in the day (way before Sokol's time, too, I'm willing to bet). There's a plethora of excellent Frank Zappa articles/interviews from the '60s (and Brett's wise enough to state up front how righteous Zappa's work was in the '60s - on a par with the Stooges and Velvets - even if he did sully his good name with a mountain of shit from the early '70s onwards); classic '70s Cleveland punk (an old article for the Plain Dealer written by Anastasia Pantios[!!]. Stigliano would have a fit!); and the Kent State SDS (Students for a Democratic Society, if you don't know). Put together, the mix of shit-hot '90s underground rock with a couple of '60s/'70s trailblazers works brilliantly, my only complaint being a near total lack of anything actually expressed by Sokol himself: no reviews, no rants, nothing. All this begs the question: what ever happened to Sokol? He also ran White Heap Records (or at least they shared the same address), who released some cool discs by fuck-rock types like the Vile Cherubs and the Sweet Things, and I ain't heard a thing about him since. Why do I care? Now that's another story...


JAMES "BLOOD" ULMER - Tales of Captain Black LP
Bought this about 10 years back at the old Au-go-go (R.I.P.) pretty darn cheap: I think it was $12 for a mint copy with the funky booklet enclosed. Naturally I wasn't going to pass on such a deal for an alleged "classic", so I made said purchase and got outta there like a bandit. Having said that, prior to a few weeks back I'd never really listened to this a whole lot. It just sat on the shelf looking impressive, but didn't shift from that position too often. "Hmmm... pretty cool free jazz/funk/Beefheart/No Wave mix. File away for a rainy day" was my initial reaction. Now that I've given this slab a veritable hiding on the turntable of late, I can engage in some historical revision: Tales of Captain Black is a monster of a disc. An ass-kicking, genre-defying mini-masterpiece that sounds both like about a dozen different artists I love, and literally like about a dozen different artists playing at once.

Polyrhythmic, harmelodic, whatever you wish to call it, this classic line-up gem (which is essentially Ornette Coleman's '70s No Wave-ish quartet with Ulmer taking the lead) is a real weird stew. You've got the cluttered Beefheart rhythms blended in with a predictably Ornette-ish backbone and Ulmer's wailing, acid/jazz/blues guitar scratchings, wangs and boings on top. It's a beautiful mix, and one I feel pretty stupid for not fully grasping at an earlier stage. More than that, I feel even dumber for not having grabbed all those secondhand copies of Are You Glad To Be In America? and Black Rock I've seen floating around bins the last decade. Now that my ears are piqued, you can guarantee I'll probably never see them again. Anyway, Tales of Captain Black is a disc you need. If you're at all partial to the sounds of Trout Mask Replica, Metal Box (Ulmer toured with P.i.L. in 1980), Ornette's Body Meta, Eddie Hazel, Robert Quine, Sonny Sharrock's Black Woman, the Contortions and other out-of-nowhere slabs that make life worth living, then scam some bins or, if worse comes to worst, blow a small fortune on that expensive Japanese import.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

DORK CENTRAL POSTING, PART 2:

Ask, search the net and ye shall find. OK, I didn't exactly get what I asked for below - a tape of the John Lydon's 1977 radio appearances - but look what happens when you type in "Tommy Vance" "John Lydon" "1977" to search on Google: a fucking university thesis on John Lydon's musical influences!

To be fair, I'm not knocking the efforts of author (scholar? Professor?) Sean Albiez - it's actually a well-written and -researched piece - though I do find it hilarious that this stuff - once the firm territory of fanzine geeks - now earns one respectable prefixes and suffixes attached to their name. For the record, these are/were Lydon's alleged favourites (or at least people he referenced) at the time:

"Funhouse -The Stooges, Hawkwind, Captain Beefheart, Tago Mago - Can, T-Rex, Gary Glitter, "New Musical Express (NME) Rock types", Arthur Brown, David Bowie, Alice Cooper,The Black Byrds (Donald Byrd), The Ohio Players, "Soul/Dance groups", Reggae sound systems/Dub, Bitches Brew - Miles Davis, The Kinks, Iggy Pop, Nadir's Big Chance - Peter Hammill, Van Der Graaf Generator, John Cale, Lou Reed, Life is Just Beginning - The Creation, Sweet Surrender - Tim Buckley, Neil Young, Dr. Alimantado, Roxy Music, Waiting for the Sun - The Doors, Irish and Scottish Folk music, Vivien Jackson and the Prophets,"never Yes", "not NY Punk" and not "Mike Oldfield, Faust, Henry Cow or Gong" [but obviously aware of these Virgin artists before the Pistols signed to the label]"

Funny to see his dissing of Faust, Gong and Henry Cow, though I think the author has his facts screwed up a little here. This is in reference to Lydon name-checking them in his Rotten autobiography, where he notes "all Virgin had at the time (mid '70s) were avant-garde bands like Faust, Gong and Henry Cow...", which doesn't actually mean he dislikes them; it was more the case of Lydon trying to point out Virgin's commercially nowhere roster during the period. Sheez, I'm beginning to sound like I should start a thesis on this non-issue!

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

BORIS - Absolutego CD; Amplification Worship CD
Now that Electric Wizard have become a quartet, Japan's BORIS are now officially the Heaviest Trio in the Known Universe. Hail to the King! Seriously, I don't have all that much by this much-touted band, although it's only a matter of time before I bite the bullet and take a splurge on all those hard-to-get/expensive-to-buy Japanese imports I've seen occasionally littering the bins of Missing Link. Until then, I'll have to make do with their two Southern Lord titles, Absolutego and Amplification Worship.

Absolutego, from 1997, takes a more Earth/SunnO))) approach to things: one hour-long track (self-titled), approximately 50 minutes of which is ear-scraping guitar feedback and little else. Whacked-out on kick-a-boy joy juice, it can be a laugh to listen to, though in a more sober frame of mind it can grate. That's OK, there's still 10-odd minutes of screeching Melvins-style grit & doom to wade through, and these Japs have mastered that craft. Also featured on the CD (not on the original Japanese version), is a seven-minute bonus track, "Dronevil 2", a handsome jaunt containing a wealth of bottom-rumbling guitar static and noise. Absolutego is a nice try, but for the real goods, go for Amplification Worship.

AW, from 1998, is the more "song-oriented" of the two, with five relatively conventional "rock" tracks steeped heavily in the Melvins/Saint Vitus tradition of down-tuned aggro murk. That's a very fine thing. No stuffing around here: straight for the jugular with a walloping mountain of distorted, heavy-as-lead rock aktion, this has been one of my favourite discoveries this year (yeah, sometimes it takes me a while).

BORIS have got a zillion releases out and I need them all. There's collaborations with Merzbow and Keiji Haino, 7"s, LPs (including one with a hilarious Nick Drake parody cover), a DVD and a whole lot more. One day, when I'm a rich man - or a very poor man - I'll tell you about them all.


PRETTY THINGS - SF Sorrow CD
I've been on some pretty gruelling work-related car trips the last few weeks and often the ol' cassette player (with the odd interlude of radio) can be my only companion for mind-numbing/time-consuming journeys through heavy traffic. I don't have a car CD player, so I have to make do with the myriad tapes I have cluttering up the glovebox (and the floor, behind the seats...) to get me by. Every few months, after I get sick of a certain selection, I put aside an evening or two of pure tedium: "taping time". Some people I know love doing this: the great art of the mix tape. For me, there's nothing more insanely dull than waiting around a stereo all night pedantically taking off vinyl and putting on CDs, pressing pause, pressing record, etc. OK, as a much younger man, taping cool stuff for clueless friends thrilled the pants off of me, but I'm older, wiser and grumpier now and even more so, I'm much more impatient, both with people asking me for my time in taping music for them and the time it'll actually take me to record the music. OK, there's these things called CD burners, I know. In short, don't ever ask!

Ahem, anyhow, so for whatever reason, I made a 120-minute UK Underground tape spectacular (whooaah!) last week, featuring Twink, Hawkwind and the Pretty Things (and all the clever dicks will know that these three are inter-related), and the 40 minutes I keep coming back to are the Pretty Things and their 1968 psych masterpiece (hey, just ask that guy), SF Sorrow. I first bought this about three years back whilst I was in the midst of a Pretty Things frenzy, and whilst I "liked" it, it didn't set my world on fire the way the "Pretties"'s first three LPs did. Sure, it had its moments, like the spectacular title track, but the rest of it seemed OK-ish and at worst, horribly dated, almost like a psychedelic parody record. In the meantime it's been a disc I've dragged out on occasion, but not often. You see, that's the beauty of listening to tapes in the car: having gone to all the effort of actually taping the darn thing, and not wishing to cause an accident by fucking around with tapes all day, when I put a tape in I really listen to it. When it's in, it's in 'til the end.

Now that I've made a short story long, I may as well remark on what a fucking great album SF Sorrow is. It's finally clicked. Much like the Rolling Stones' Their Satanic Majesties Request - an album I love and believe to be superior to Sgt. Peppers, fuck you very much - SF Sorrow sounds, at least to me, like a complete absurdity that, by most standards, you may call a failure, but as a whole works. I only say "failure" in the sense that it sounds like the band is trying way too hard, every "psychedelic" gimmick in the book is at their disposal and they're not shy about using them: sitars, tape loops, "haunting" voices, acoustic interludes and songs of cosmic wizardry. SF Sorrow is a weird beast to pin: a lot of critics hail its originality (or at least its massive influence on several, more well-known bands of the day), though I haven't read many reviews where people actually seem to "like" it and enjoy listening to it. Maybe it's just through traffic-induced osmosis, but SF Sorrow now sits on top of the pile as an album I'm really beginning to dig the hell out of. Truly, the garage/beat/art/prog/metal/psych driving LP of choice.

On that note, let me heartily recommend these other favourites when embarking on a four-wheel day journey, for a pleasant time will be had by all:

FUNKADELIC: first three albums. These'll knock your socks off but not break your concentration in times of need.
WIPERS: any. Greg Sage's voice will soothe even the most aggravated of drivers.
MELVINS: Bullhead, Ozma, The Maggot. Crunch-rock mayhem, these platters make me feel like Crispin Glover in River's Edge.
CHARLES MINGUS: Black Saint and the Sinner Lady. Other than Miles' '70s output, Mingus is just about the only jazz guy I handle listening to whilst driving. As much as I love the truly "out" stuff in the privacy of my own couch, it freaks the hell out of me whilst driving. Pussy.
MEAT PUPPETS - II, Up On the Sun. Killer double for any time, day or night.
PUBLIC IMAGE LTD. - Two-hour cassette of material from the first three albums. Goddamn astonishing stuff.
BOB DYLAN - Blood On the Tracks/Highway 61 Revisited/Bringing It All Back Home. Dylan's top 3, most of which fit onto a two-hour tape. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll sing at the top of your voice in gruelling traffic jams. Most of all, you might just learn a little something about yourself.

Monday, July 12, 2004

DORK CENTRAL POSTING:

John Lydon appeared on the UK's Capitol Radio's Tommy Vance show on July 16th 1977 and horrified Malcom McLaren with his "tasteful" choice of favourite songs to play: Neil Young, Dr. Alimentado, Captain Beefheart, Peter Hamill and more. Has anyone ever heard this show? Is it available on a bootleg? To download?

Also, Lydon apparently guested on an LA radio station when the 'Pistols hit town in Jan/Feb. 1978 and, in between interviews, played tracks by Funkadelic and Tim Buckley. Is this true? I say "apparently" because I think I heard such a story via a third-hand source (or something like that). Anyway, the upshot of it is this: if anyone has copies of these two shows, or knows where I can obtain some, then email me at lexdev@yahoo.com.au

Sunday, July 11, 2004

MY DAD IS DEAD - Let's Skip the Details LP
The Taller You Are, The Shorter You Get CD

MDID are/were one Mr. Mark Edwards, ex-fanzine dork, angry loner and producer of music since the mid '80s. Let's Skip... is from 1988 and The Taller... is a double LP/CD from 1989; both are on Homestead and are long-time drag-it-out-once-a-year favourites. This is Mark's schtick: post-HC underground rock of the US Midwestern variety spiced up with a heavily Angloid bent a la Joy Division/The Fall, then blended with a kind of One Man Against The Universe vibe. Uh, yeah, that's his "schtick". Edwards' strong point is his disturbingly perceptive lyrics detailing life's bullshit: relationship breakups, dead-end jobs, alienation, etc. It's not a pretty listen and hardly the kind of music I'm likely to blast out of the car stereo on a warm summer's day, but sometimes hearing someone else's complaints is the perfect medicine. Edwards is also one hell of a song writer; along with the rants come the hooks, his knack for a pop tune mixed with classic tension/release rock stylings is uncanny.

The Taller... is probably the better album of the two. Although he slightly bungled things by using a drum machine for some of the album - MDID being essentially a one-man band for much of the time (though John McEntire of Tortoise and a host of rock "celebs" have helped him in the past) - at least the programme was set on a basic "Rock 4/4" beat to keep things breathing. I bought this in '92 as a customer order from Gaslight - the kids weren't diggin' MDID - and it blew the goddamn roof off the house. Being the alienated 20-year old poser douchebag that I was, this was heavy stuff. For instance, "Too Far Gone": "I can count my friends on the fingers of one hand / Need a calculator to count all my problems". Crank that sucker at a party and rock da haus! Seriously, this stuff is good. Edwards did a fairly great album in 1991 called Cutting Down the Family Tree on Scat and has sporadically recorded since, the results, in this man's opinion, not being up to awesome level of his earlier efforts. Both these titles, lets' assume since MDID ain't exactly the name on everyone's lips, are both deleted, but you could do a whole lot worse than search them out soon.

CHEATER SLICKS
The Cheater Slicks - the fuckin' 'Slicks, man! - are The Band Who Should've Been Huge. Of all the "garage" bands littering the scene the last 15 years on Earth, the 'Slicks are the best. They've got semi-famous friends and supporters - Mudhoney, Jon Spencer, Mick Collins - and the right words from the critics, all of which has eventuated in a profile about as low as a snake's belly. Then you meet them: Cheater Slicks fans, the believers who know just how fucking good the band is, and you know you're part of a secret cabal.

Friends are usually a bit surprised by my fandom for the group, simply because I've barely ever displayed the slightest ounce of enthusiasm for "garage rock" per se (the generic, contemporary garage scene of today, I mean). In fact I'm usually heard deriding it for its hopelessly retro nature, it being seemingly littered with bowl-cut-wearing losers singing songs about monsters driving hot rods or tattooed wannabe "greaser-punks" actually trying to convince people they care about their motor vehicle. You know what I mean. They're the worst-case scenarios, of course, people stuck in a hopeless cliche, though the Cheater Slicks have nada to do with anything like that.

The 'Slicks, a Boston-relocated-to-Ohio trio of deadbeats, take the essential ingredients of "garage" music as we know it (and that means everything from the Seeds to the New York Dolls to the Cramps) and shake the life out of it in the most beautiful and disrespectful manner. There's no paisley shirts and no Johnny Thunders poses: this is completely modern rock that pays respects to the past but has its eye strictly on the future. Reading their bio recently on the In The Red site, the point was summed up perfectly: boring garage purists hate the Cheater Slicks because they don't play by the rules of what such a band should be. They're prone to completely atonal singing, long, druggish mantras and minutes of scorching feedback, all to the disdain of everyone involved. Great stuff!

The link with My Dad Is Dead is here: the Cheater Slicks takes the essence of life's BS and wrap it in song just for you. And much like MDID, their ability to evoke that sense of loneliness and despair in a totally real and convincing manner, one you can relate to, is a rare talent they have in spades. I've been going back and delving into their back catalogue heavily of late, and come to this conclusion: the Cheater Slicks are one of the great "lost" US bands of the last 15 years. They are the ultimate lost & loserly rock 'n' roll history book, a perfect collision of all those people you love: Velvets, Roky, Stooges, NY Dolls, Cramps, Half Japanese, Sonics, Modern Lovers, etc. Most bands hailing such influences sound like they're merely paying tribute or regurgitating their record collections; not the case here - no other band sounds like the Cheater Slicks. They've got a lot of albums out. You want them all.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

UNREST - Imperial f.f.r.r. LP
Here's a blast from the past. I was a big fan of this record back in the day (1992) and, having given it a hardy workout on the turntable of late, I'm glad to say it still sounds really - and surprisingly - good. Unrest were Mark Robinson (he of Teen Beat records)'s '80s/'90s post-HC outfit, who started off as a bit of a noisey/jokey fuck-around unit in the mid '80s, put out a couple of fairly worthless LPs on Caroline (Malcom X Park and Kustom Karnal Blackxploitation) in the late '80s (worthless in the sense that they sounded like home-taped bong sessions put to vinyl) before finally finding a voice as a pop band par excellence in the early '90s (and then called it quits at the height of their fame in the mid '90s). I know that several loudmouths dismissed them as being a smug, in-joke load of tossbags at the time (there's a bit of truth to that, too... I mean, who cares - or knows - that they named themselves after a Henry Cow album? Me?!), though with pop hooks as large and overwhelming as the ones featured on Imperial f.f.r.r., as an impressionable 20-year old I figured I'd join the elitist chorus and hail the genius of Unrest as well. I stand by such a claim!
The best track here is "Imperial" on side one, seven and a half minutes of droning pop magic (the bonus 7" I got w/ the LP has an equally good "rock" version): a simple descending guitar line with Mark Robinson's ghostly wail in the background. Fact is, there ain't a dud track here, just lots of tunes so damn nice that friends are often horrified when I play this in their presence. This is admittedly way more lush than most of the low-rent racket I tend to punish myself with, though sometimes it's nice to indulge in tunes without all the extraneous muck. The beauty of Unrest was their unashamed collision of two distinct musical entities: Brit post-punk of the Factory/Rough Trade variety as filtered through the brains of DC hardcore kids.
Unrest released one more LP in '93, Perfect Teeth (an equally good follow-up), which earned them more press and praise before they suddenly hit the brakes and called it a day soon thereafter. Unrest are a band pretty much no one talks about in this day and age, but that's OK. When I'm old and senile you can come and visit me whilst I tell you an old yarn about the criminally neglected musical careers of such greats as Unrest, Die Kreuzen and MX-80. Imperial f.f.r.r. = one of the best albums of the '90s. No fuckin' shit.

Monday, July 05, 2004

Uh, yeah, I kinda screwed that up. The Sonic Youth piece below was written today, after the Saccharine Trust interview link. It is, in fact, the latest entry but is listed below because it's a drastically edited version of a piece I wrote a week back and saved as a draft. There ya go...

Thursday, July 01, 2004

For anyone who cares, my recent interview with SACCHARINE TRUST for Perfect Sound Forever is up and ready for your perusal. Go here...