Tuesday, October 26, 2004

LOOKING BACK...

Since the comments box is a relatively new edition to this site, and most people can't be bothered going through the archives to search for topics they may be interested in, let me steal an idea from someone else and link you back to some previous topics you may be inclined to comment on. After all, I didn't fuck around with that goddamn SquawkBox programme for hours for nothing. Fire away!

Top 50 Albums of All Time
John Fahey / Tyrannosaurus Rex / Twink / Magma
Live gigs
Robert Wyatt
Cabaret Voltaire
The Beatles' White Album
SST cassette atrocities
Sub Pop does good
More kick-ass cassette reviews
Hawkwind
The Scene Is Now
Rockin' in Scotland with Dawson, Stretchheads, Dog Faced Hermans and others
Electric Wizard
Thug
Spacemen 3
Boo Boo fanzine / James "Blood" Ulmer

Monday, October 25, 2004

A HIGH FIVE…

1) ROKY ERICKSON AND THE ALIENS – I Think of Demons CD
Discovering and eventually locating good music can often be a game of chance and good luck. Take Roky, for instance. 3RRR – the local public radio station here in Melbourne – had a really cool show on Sunday nights in the mid to late ‘80s whose name I can not remember for the life of me, but was hosted by Dave “Dogmeat” Laing (ie. NOT ME, and do not get us confused. I bumped into him the other day in [surprise, surprise] a record store and the first words out of his mouth were: I hear you’ve been dragging my good name through the mud all over the internet) and Bruce Milne (ex-Au-go-go honcho; man about town and the world). They’d play all kinds of oddities, or at least music which seemed mighty odd to me when I was 15: Stooges, Dead Boys, Electric Eels, Rocket From the Tombs and, yep, Roky Erickson. I used to tape the show when I could (along with the HC show on 3PBS), the result being the strangest mix tape you’ll ever come across. I still have evidence of this: a cassette from 1987, possibly the only tape on earth which features a really “tasty” mix of the Dead Boys, Weirdos, Roky Erickson and, ahem, Dag Nasty, Toxic Reasons and Negazione. It’s a keeper! So anyway, I can thank Dave and Bruce for getting me on the Roky trip at a young and impressionable age, and I can thank the whitebread a-holes of Camberwell for giving me this bargain a few years back, c/o their Dixon’s (secondhand chain-store), since Roky is in such little demand in their area that I was able to snaffle this out-of-print gem from their claws for a mere $5, it being in their shit-we-can’t-get-rid-of bargain bin.

I Think of Demons was Roky’s first solo album, originally released on CBS in 1980, and features some his best material. His patented howl can be heard on the mighty opener, “Two-Headed Dog” (anyone remember Antiseen butchering this song in the late ‘80s?) and other well-known – at least in some circles – faves such as “I Walked With A Zombie” and “Creature With the Atom Brain”. The Roky story is a strange beast, and it gets a whole lot stranger when you read the accompanying liner notes. Like, did you know that his career was resurrected in the late ‘70s with help from two ex-members of Creedence? News to me. Roky’s voice is one I’d like to die listening to, though I wish I could say the same for his backing band here. It’s not like they’re awful, but this, great as it is, would be a lot better with a more “sympathetic” sounding backing group, instead of the vaguely bar-band hackery which is present here in its weakest moments. Throw in a lesser vocalist without Roky’s lyrical finesse, and you’d swear you were listening to a Tom Petty/Cars bill at times. But that’s nitpicking. A fine album. Comb the bins and ye shall find.

2) SUN RA – Cosmic Tones for Mental Therapy CD
After a 7-year break, I’ve hit the Sun Ra trail again. Why the absence? Probably for the very same reason you’ve taken a break from the man: come the early ‘90s, when Sun Ra’s massive Saturn catalogue finally received the deluxe CD reissue treatment c/o Evidence, I hit the bins and bought up big. I then listened and listened and listened some more. Then I bought more. Then I took a look at my CD shelf and said That’s enough! No-one, bar the absolute most fanatical followers of the man, need more than 25 Sun Ra albums sitting in their house. So I called it quits. I gave his discography a five-year flogging and took a holiday. Now I’m back. The Top 50 list I wrote months back features his Space Is the Place soundtrack album, but I still don’t want to hear that again for a while, just like I don’t need to hear Funhouse or Get Up With It for another decade. There’s no need: every note is already etched in my brain. So then there’s this, a 1963 studio album which runs a close second in the Sun Ra pantheon. With a scaled-down Arkestra behind him he went on to make probably the strangest platter released that year. Any competition? I didn’t think so. With creepy organs which sound like they’ve been lifted from the Carnival of Souls s/track, funky bass, echoed and distorted drums and various Middle Eastern rhythms weaving their ways in and out, I couldn’t think of a better second-place to start with the can of worms that is Sun Ra. Some of this sounds like an outer-space Martin Denny, most of it sounds like Sun Ra and none of it sounds like much else on the planet.

3) AGENTS OF ABHORRENCE – Covert Lobotomy 9”
I used to work at Missing Link, so they’re pretty good to me down there. In fact, so nice are they that a couple of the gents threw this in a bag for me a few weeks back and sent me on my way without a penny exchanging hands. Of course, this is actually a test pressing, so you wouldn’t pay money for it anyway, but I think the point has been made: good people. So what is this? Well, it’s the soon-to-be-released debut record on the newly re-launched Missing Link label, originally run by Keith Glass in the late ‘70s/early ‘80s and responsible for releasing fine discs by the likes of the Birthday Party, Go-Betweens (I think) and the Dead Kennedys. Now the young guns have taken over and they’re putting out a series of – gulp – 9” records. Now before you smirk at the seemingly commercially-suicidal nature of this endeavour – just like I did – think about it: these babies will be all gobbled up before you find time to start bidding for it on ebay. All those hungry 9” fans, especially the vinyl-hording grind types, will come out of the woodwork and prove you – and me – wrong.

AOA are a two piece guitar/drums outfit featuring two young lads (I know Max the drummer, though the guitarist dude, also in the highly rated [not by me] My Disco, is a stranger to these shores) who specialize in totally off-the-wall power-violence/grind which benefits not only from its shit-hot musicianship but its ace combination of non-generic songwriting and fancy-schmancy guitar heroics. You know, I can take this whole genre or leave it, it doesn’t phase me, but when people do it right and spice it up with enough oddities and left turns to hold my attention, I’m all ears. Such as here. I saw them live once – at a Missing Link instore, in fact – and found myself floundering and embarrassing myself with praise for their wares to all my that-shit-don’t-grab-me cooler-than-you music-dork associates the following week, and so I think I’ll do a repeat performance here. With Max ripping out an unrelenting storm of wayward percussion and Guitar Dude tearing into a myriad spastic riffs in split seconds, if I was a lesser man I’d make a really lame comment like “they’re the Captain Beefheart of power violence”. Which they’re not, because that would mean nothing. What they are is very good. The guitar tone is stuck on a permanent treble – this ain’t no death metal – and if the song gets boring, don’t worry about it, it’ll all be over within 30 seconds anyway. Unlike the b-side, which is one, long sludge track caked in distortion and effects. Most nifty of all with AOA is the way the guitar track in a song won’t change at all, but the drums will slide in and out of varying rhythms. It’s a neat trick. They’re whacky, zany, unrelentingly brutal and in no way sound a thing like Mr. Bungle. Now that’s a good thing!

4) NOW TIME DELEGATION – Watch For Today LP
This is the party platter to beat them all, and probably my favourite “rock” album of the last few years. With an all-star cast which features members of the BellRays, Blacktop, etc. and guitar hero Tim Kerr on full-time axe duty, the combination of lo-fi recording, steaming soul – especially from awesome vocalist Lisa Kekaula – and garage trash is near perfect. It’s so good and so damn confident in its delivery it’s tempting to almost label it as smug, but it ain’t. More than anything, this sounds authentic; not like a bunch of contemporary garage-punk yahoos attempting to mine the soul songbook of yore, but the real thing. With a host of covers, best of which is a version of a King Floyd b-side, “Handle Me With Care” (the original of which I’ve never heard, though it’s got me mighty curious… and it was only a b-side!) and a smattering of Tim Kerr originals, these guys ripped out this corker in a moment’s notice then called it quits upon release, or thereabouts. Great liner notes from Don Waller, cool package which somewhat replicates the look of an old ‘60s LP (minus any silly bowl haircuts or obvious references to the time), I don’t hear too many people rave about this disc a whole lot, but those who do get real vocal about it. Notch up another one for In The Red.

5) RUDIMENTARY PENI – Death Church / Cacophony LPs
One of the best and most fascinating British bands of the last 20 years, ‘Peni are a band with a small yet absolutely fanatical following. Ignored by head-up-backside music elites (much like myself until my mid 20s), most likely because people confuse them as being either a group of lame, Crass-affiliated “peace punx” or mohican-sporting lager drinkers (which they’re most definitely not), RP inhabit their own universe and let no one else in. And that’s what I like about them: a self-contained unit with nary a concern for anything else in the popular or unpopular music world around them. Formed in the late ‘70s by the three lads still carrying the flag to this day, and headed up by one of the more eccentric individuals of UK punk, Nick Blinko, RP brewed up a storm in the early ‘80s with two 7” EPs of headstorming avant-punk before making the Grand Statement in ’83 with Death Church. Beloved by now-famous indie-rock types at the time – most notably Steve Albini and Mark Arm – it took them a full four years to follow up with Cacophony. Earmarked as leaders of the, err, “deathpunk” movement of the ‘80s (which I guess isn’t to be confused with the non-existent “deathpunk” scene of the ‘90s spearheaded by Turbonegro), RP’s sound wavers from disc to disc, which makes their modus operandi kinda hard to pin down. Death Church is fairly political in its lyrical topics, though it’s smothered in such a deathly aura of Dickensian grimness and recycled ‘Sabbath and Joy Division riffs that you’re not likely to confuse it with their more spiky-haired brethren anytime soon.

Cacophony took a major detour both musically and lyrically, and for my two cents ranks as their high point. Dedicated to the writings of gothic horror master HP Lovecraft, its lyrical concerns are centred squarely on the man and his words, a “concept record” for cider-sculling crusties, if you will. Musically, the band ups the ante and tears into song upon song – that’s 30 in just over 40 minutes – with riffs and drum rolls flying every which way but loose. Blinko screams and howls like a man possessed – he has been in and out of mental institutions the last two decades – and the band hammers and nails it at every turn like a powerhouse, amped-up trio. Dig the opening riff to the first track, “Nightgaunts”, a descending wall of guitar chords with treated vocals over the top: it sends a chill down the spine. Intermixed amongst all this madness are even a few spoken-word segments. Dude, this is some zany shit. Various pundits over the years have compared the band to the Minutemen, which I guess makes some sense. Not that RP actually sound anything like them, but in the ranks of non-conformist three-piece punker outfits making up their own musical rules, RP share some similarities. More off the mark are the remarks I constantly hear of ‘Peni being a “proto-speed-metal” outfit, a description which makes no sense at all, no matter which way you look at it. Firstly, outside of the odd ‘Sabbath sludge present on Death Church, there’s not a hint of a metallic riff in them, and secondly, how the fuck could they be “proto” when the speed-metal scene was in full swing by the time they were releasing records anyway? Sounds more like a case of music journos desperately grabbing a catch-phrase out of thin air to me.

RP have released a swag of discs since these high marks from the ‘80s – they in fact recently put out a 10”/CD – and, “good” as they are, they haven’t grabbed me the way these did. Blinko also released a semi-autobiographical book in the mid ‘90s entitled Primal Screamer, which won various literary awards at the time, and if you ever come across it (I’m pretty sure it’s out of print), grab it quick, give it a quick read and please send it my way.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

LINKS LINKS LINKS…

Here’s a couple of beauties for everyone to enjoy.

Firstly, here’s the footage to Ashlee Simpson miming on Saturday Night Live. Why am I linking to this kind of nonsense on a "serious" site dedicated to music practically no-one on the planet gives a shit about? Because it’s funny as hell, and the white-man shuffle Ashlee does when she realizes she’s fucked up had me in hysterics. You know when you’re known as “the less talented Simpson girl”, you’re in trouble.

Next is an article on the slated “Germs Movie”, which sounds like a disaster in the making. Funnily enough, it was rumoured a few years ago that none other than Madonna was funding a Germs bio-pic – with David Arquette as Darby (oh, man… the horror) – but it fell apart and so instead they’ve got a collection of semi-zeroes in playing the main characters this time around. That’s Lukas Haas playing Don Bolles! Remember him? He was the little Amish kid in Witness. The mind boggles. I sure hope this project finishes, sounds better than Gigli.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

JANDEK LIVE?!...

Yes, people, it's true, and as per usual I'm one of the last people to find out, or so it seems: the biggest recluse in show business has come out after 26 years of silence and played an honest-to-god LIVE GIG. Last weekend Jandek played a totally unannounced show - the deal was that he would only play if he was back-announced after the gig... go figure that out - at the Instal Festival in Glasgow, with limey experimental stalwart Richard Youngs on bass and Alexander Neilson on drums. From all reports it was real good, too, so who knows, maybe the man has overcome his shyness and we'll see a whole lot more of him now. Time to dust off some old records for a spin...

Monday, October 18, 2004

SCREAMERS – DEMOS 1977-78 LP
Certain pundits are rather non-plussed by the awesome power that was the Screamers, and for the two cents I wish to put into the debate, I say it’s their loss: they stand as one of the great rock bands of the 1970s. I wrote this article a few years back on the band, so go there for the background. I suspect that anyone reading this probably doesn’t need the primer, so what’s to be said? I’ve revisited this LP the last few days and it stands tall as an essential document of prime late ‘70s West Coast underground rock from a band stuck in the wrong place and time, or perhaps a band who foolishly had their heads in the sand when people were making them offers they shouldn’t have resisted (an LP w/ Eno producing for one… what were they thinking knocking that back?!). With their once-in-a-lifetime mixture of Neu!-like electro-minimalism (never a guitar to be seen w/ this mob, thank you), Stooge-like aggression, Tomata Du Plenty’s camp, snarling, Lydonesque vocals and sense of all-encompassing orchestration obviously lifted from a heavy diet of Morricone and John Barry soundtracks, the Screamers created a desperate, paranoid aura which has yet to be replicated. If they were around now, they’d probably be sipping cocktails at Vice parties, so best just remember them for what they were: the greatest band of their day who never released or recorded anything of a “professional” nature, were the toast of LA’s hipster art-punk elite for a couple of years, sunk into oblivion and eventually wound up on a series of bootlegs you’d be nuts to pass on if they ever cross your path.

Zap me into a timewarp to the Masque ca. 1977 for a front and centre viewing of the Screamers and I’d probably die a very happy man. I was in regular correspondence with Tomata before his death in 2000 and I’m happy to report that he was the nicest guy I never met. For anyone who really gives a shit, you’ll also notice a brief interview with Screamer KK Barrett in the extras section of the Lost In Translation (a fine flick, I must add) DVD, he now being a big-shot production designer in Hollywood. Nice to know that not everyone from the early LA scene went the Darby route to oblivion. So obsessed was I with this band that, a few years back, I had the front cover of this LP tattooed on my right shoulder. That’s either a testimony to my extreme fandom or stupidity. You can decide that one.

BIG BOYS – Skinny Elvis CD; Fat Elvis CD
DICKS – 1980-’86 CD
Speaking of absolutely killer bands often swept under the carpet, one could never go past these two titans of early ‘80s Austin, Texas, hardcore, the mighty Big Boys and Dicks. Both fronted by older, fatter and gayer freakshow behemoths who set the benchmark for flamboyant punker frontmen nationwide – Randy “Biscuit” Turner and Gary Floyd, respectively – the Big Boys and Dicks made some of the best discs of the original HC scene. Music aside, think of the balls these guys had: Gary Floyd, big as a truck, gay as the breeze, stomping around the streets of Texas in 1980 with a hammer-&-sickle t-shirt and coloured mohican flipping the bird to the local frat boys. Or Biscuit prancing around redneck bars in a tutu, a mass of home-made jewelry and make-up belting out “Frat Cars” to the locals. Me, I’ll take that over a Grand Ballroom MC5 gig any day of the week.

Best of all were their assimilation of sounds, mixing up the “thrash” with a variety of rootsy sources stolen from their younger years (both Floyd and Biscuit now being in their 50s). The Dicks hit it hard with a crude, sloppy and thoroughly obnoxious punk, but stewed it in with a bevy of Texan blues and Floyd’s soulful vocals, whilst the Big Boys tempered the skate action with a blend of white-boy funk and ‘60s mod-pop harmonies which sound like they were lifted from old Creation albums.

1980-’86, on Alternative Tentacles, is a Greatest Hits of sorts which compiles material from their SST LP, Kill From the Heart (when is that ever going to be reissued), their These People LP from ’85 (still an awesome slab, despite a heavy San Fran “hippy-punk” vibe which runs through it), their side to the Live at Raoul’s split LP w/ the Big Boys (“Bookstore” nearly out-does GG Allin in the punk-filth stakes) and their essential “Hate the Police” 7” from 1980, a record which, along with the Bad Brains’ “Pay to Cum”, ranks as perhaps the great single of its era (though I must admit, blasphemous as it may seem, I’ve always preferred Mudhoney’s version to the original). Life is full of regrets, but here’s one from me: I went to the US for a few months in 1999 to travel around and see the sights. First stop was San Francisco and about the third day I was there I went to the Haight-Ashbury district for a browse. Stepping into an anarchist bookstore (don’t ask me why… hey, it was San Fran) I heard a familiar voice over the shop stereo. “Excuse me, is this Gary Floyd?”, I asked the shop guy. He noticed my accent, said yes, it was his new solo album (an excellent country/blues disc on Interstate Records: Backdoor Preacher Man) and that he was Gary Floyd’s housemate. He saw me as a fan and invited me to Floyd’s birthday party that night. What did I do? I bought the CD, said farewell and never turned up to the bash, too intimidated by the prospect of being at a San Francisco anarchist party held in honour of a genuine Punk Rock Hero. What a fucking idiot.

Skinny Elvis and Fat Elvis are the two volumes of Big Boys recordings Touch & Go compiled and released in the early ‘90s, which finally put together all their hard-to-find 7”s, EPs and LPs on two handy CDs. As with the Dicks and their “Hate the Police” 7”, the Big Boys’ debut 7” EP, Frat Cars, remains a classic document of American subculture at the dawn of the ‘80s and a quintessential slice of US punk. More “good-time vibes” than their angry brethren in LA and DC, the Big Boys were a party band par excellence. The message was always simple: party the fuck down, fuck shit up and let the freak flag fly – a sound philosophy, if ever there was. Early Big Boys was hammered home with a heavy, occasionally daunting pop/New Wave influence before things moved into heavier territory for their last two years (‘83/’84) when their hardcore and funk influences came to the fore. There’s a couple of bogus bass-slapping moments I could gladly live without, but mostly it’s primo fist-shaking thrash, dude, with Biscuit and the band sounding uncannily like a Metal Circus/Everything Falls Part-era Husker Du in parts. Often compared to the Minutemen, in sound and approach, the Big Boys lived by their own rules and set one of the great templates for all short-haired non-conformists in the dawn of Reaganism. For that I thank them... and I didn't even mention Tim Kerr! I, you, we’ve all met our fair share of self-styled US HC boffins in our travels, but for myself there’s always the Great Test which separates the posers from the real deal: do you dig the Dicks and the Big Boys or not?

Sunday, October 17, 2004

COMMENTS, COMMENTS, COMMENTS...

Yep, it's FINALLY up: that little box for you to comment in. Get in whilst it's hot and before I fuck the thing up. Praise, abuse, queries... you name it, I'll probably get it.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Hmph… No entries the last week. It’s this thing called “Real Life” which took over: work, commitments, domestic life, socialising, etc. No time to sit in front of a computer and tap away at a keyboard on the obscure nonsense which seems to dominate this web site. It’s now 9:30 on a Sunday morning, a beautiful day outside, I’m sober as a judge – after having not touched a drop all weekend – and I’ve decided to commit myself to at least writing something for anyone reading this. Here goes…

The federal election: I do not wish to speak of it. It’s too depressing. Let’s talk about this DVD I rented last night instead, it’s the best thing I’ve seen in an eon: THE OLD GREY WHISTLE TEST. The ‘Whistle Test (let’s call it OGWT from now on, OK?) was a British pop show which ran from 1971 to the mid ‘80s (I’ll assume that’s when it finished) which also undoubtedly featured every crap musical outfit of its day (some of which are featured here), but was also blessed with live performances from a bevy of artists which will pique your interest and then some. The DVD features two discs and possesses enough highlights to blow one’s mind and may even prompt you to excitedly ring up friends late at night to tell them of your bounty(and such was the case last night). Truth is, the best moments here sent tingles up my spine and made me break out in a sweat, they’re that good. Here’s some real LexDev-approved highlights:

Curtis Mayfield – “We Gotta Have Peace”, from his brilliant sophomore solo album, Roots. A stripped-back, percussion-heavy rendition, this one went on repeat several times.
John Martyn – “May You Never”. Aaah, gets me teary…
Roxy Music – “Do the Strand”, with Eno on board, all the gang decked out in glitter, Ferry poncing about. Great stuff, I get a feeling this version might be included on that First Kiss bootleg I reviewed a few months back.
New York Dolls – “Jet Boy”, ‘nuff said!
Tim Buckley – “Dolphins”, yep, the Fred Neil classic done in style, though unfortunately not solo, but backed by the group who – judging by their “session muso” look (ie. bad clothes and facial hair) - played on his appalling Sefronia and Look At The Fool LPs. Still, it’s a great version and nice to see him on the screen.
The Damned – “Smash It Up” and “I Just Can’t Be Happy Today”, with Sensible and gang completely destroying the songs and all their equipment by the end of the performance. That’s punk rock, kiddo.
Public Image Ltd. – “Careering”, probably the disc’s finest moment. The essential Lydon/Wobble/Levene/Atkins quartet belting out the Metal Box-era dub/kraut doom mantra in apocalyptic style. This noise-laden version puts to rest any claims that PiL were “not really a band” or whatever nonsense they bandied about at the time: these mofos could really play as a unit.
Robert Wyatt – “Shipbuilding”, his Costello-penned early ‘80s surprise hit, w/ Wyatt decked out in his Che military outfit, complete with khaki beret. The revolution will be televised!

OK, on top of that there’s a few OK-ish performances from folks I love, namely Captain Beefheart (points off since it’s a song taken from his “sell-out” Blue Jeans/…Guaranteed phase, complete with that dreadful backing band of moustachioed hacks he employed), Iggy Pop (a sleepwalking rendition of “I’m Bored”, which sums up his performance perfectly) and Tom Waits (sorry, I only like his post-1983 work). But wait, there’s more! There were a few things which even took me by surprise, such as the early ‘70s pre-stardom Wailers (Bob Marley in tow, of course) and their mindnumbing run through “Stir It Up”, complete with dub phasing and spacey keyboards; Bruce Springsteen’s(!!!) arse-kicking, run-for-the-hills, ma take on “Rosalita” (yeah, so fucking sue me, The Boss is A-OK by me: at the ripe old age of 30 I purchased Nebraska, Darkness on the Edge of Town, Born To Run and The River for a nickel a piece – and if you’d told a 15-year-old Dave Lang that in his 30s he’d be buying Springsteen albums I woulda spat in your eye – but I’m older, grumpier and uglier and willing to lay this on the line: GREAT FUCKING ALBUMS, pal, and his rendition of “Rosalita” had me dancing around the loungeroom in the kind of funkless stupor that only a man with five centuries of Anglo Saxon heritage behind him watching a live Springsteen clip could muster); Lynyrd Skynyrd and their ‘70s stoner-redneck anthem, “Freebird” (hardly a fan of this mob, and the gormless singer looks like he’s stuck in a coma, but the guitar/drums heroics on display here, especially in the way-too-long axe solo, at least dazzled my mind for a few minutes); and lastly… AHEM!... let me clear my throat: an early REM performance of “Moon River” and “Pretty Persuasion”. A band I could care less about, though if one must be honest, I’ll state that at one point, at least as a live unit, they could belt out a pretty nice Buzzcocks/Byrds hybrid that doesn’t make me want to throw up and kill the person next to me.

Let’s wrap this up. In addition to all this you get a bunch of people whose names will forever mean nothing to me: XTC, Talking Heads, Japan, Bonnie Raitt, Rory Gallagher, Dr. Feelgood, The Specials, Little Feat, Randy Newman; a few who should’ve been gunned down at birth (The Police, Focus, Elton John, Meatloaf, Tom Petty, Simply Red, U2) and one of the strangest performances I’ve ever seen from a duo I’ve never, ever heard of: Otway & Barrett, a guitar/vocal duo who sound like a stripped-down stoner-rock version of The Shaggs and should be putting out limited-edition 8”s (make mine marble-blue, thanks) on Stomach Ache or something. Never heard of ‘em? Join the club, but their whacked-out (though not necessarily “good”) stage act at least has me scratching my head.

To sum it up: beg, borrow or steal. Skip the drivel, surprise yourself with the energy and style of acts you’d previously dismissed and have your brain splattered all over the walls with the mind-melting Best Of The Best. If my half-assed local video store has this for my perusal, then yours likely does, too. Hop to it!

A quick HIGH FIVE before this weather gets too nice to keep me indoors…

1) THE FALL – Grotesque CD
Not the kind of listening I usually associate with summery days, but it’s working the charms right… now.

2) ACID MOTHERS TEMPLE – The Cenultimate Galactic Bordello Also the World You Made 4-CD box
Brand new, hot off the presses, etc. Four CDs, four very long songs, all recorded in the last year. Yup, OK, some of this is a bit “stretched”, but by any standards it’s still a fine thing I may prattle on about at a greater length in the future.

3) CURTIS MAYFIELD – Roots LP
The OGWT DVD had me pulling this out for a run-through. A voice which melts butter and soothes the soul, Curtis, man, CURTIS! I fuckin’ love the guy.

4) ROBERT WYATT – Solar Flares Burn For You CD
… and then I pulled out this: the best odds & sods collection of recent years. An excellent mix of Rock Bottom outtakes, soundtrack works and experimental pieces. I recommend this for any Wyatt neophyte, it’ll make your day but good.

5) MOTHERS OF INVENTION – Uncle Meat 2CD
One day, I swear, I will write an article entitled “In Defense of Frank Zappa” for this site. I understand the loathing some may feel towards this man – the sneering, the “virtuosity”, the box sets of guitar solos, the toilet humour, the fans...ugh, those fans – but let me state this: everything the man did w/ the Mothers from 1965-’70 I will take to my grave. For what purpose, I have no idea, but I think the point has been made. I think.

lexdev@yahoo.com.au

PS - By god, STOP THE PRESSES! A mistake was made in my last entry: Thomas Jefferson Slave Apartments did not split up after '95's Bait & Switch. They stuck around 'til '97 to release the highly non-selling Straight to Video. Now you can all sleep easy.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

A HIGH FIVE...

Ive got a hankerin' for some wankerin', so allow me to spew forth some dribble on some tunes taking precedence in my pathetic life the last few days...

1) THIRD EAR BAND - s/t CD; Macbeth CD; Alchemy CD
I bought these some time in the mid '90s when I was hearing their name being bandied about in the Kraut-obsessed days of yore, and since I could buy the BGO reissues cheap at Shock, I purchased them forthwith! TEB were an English mob who released these three great albums on Harvest in the late '60s. Here's some vaguely interesting facts you can throw around at your next dinner party: the debut, self-titled album features four songs: "Air", "Earth", "Fire" and "Water" - a sign of the times, daddy-o; Alchemy features legendary limey DJ John Peel on jews harp - does any other album boast such a claim?; MacBeth is the soundtrack to the Polanski film which is, by all reports, a fine flick, and one I will see before I drop dead, I promise; it also features Paul Buckmaster on cello and bass guitar. Buckmaster was the guy who apparently introduced Miles Davis to the music of Karlheinz Stockhausen. He later disgraced himself in arranging the strings and orchestral flourishes for several Elton John albums. TEB managed to nail that "classic" Harvest sound, which means a heavy dose of early, pre-useless 'Floyd, and then mixed it up with a smattering of Incredible String Band-style ye olde England maypole-dancing nonsense, the trance-inducing qualities of Indian ragas and even a bit of Can-ish groove-rock. The results are astounding. Still in print, I recommend you don a pair of loon pants, a wizard's hat, smoke a bowl of something green and do an Earth Mother dance to their audio delights. You'll feel better.

2) JOHN CALE - Paris 1919 LP; Fear LP
About 5 years back I found myself in the rather unlikely position of being in the midst of a "heavy John Cale phase". I scoured the bins and purchased the bulk of his '70s output, sat back and enjoyed the sounds. Some of them ain't so hot: Slow Dazzle - if it was made by anyone but John Cale - is an album which would never be talked about by anyone, ever. But these two, I'll stake my life on them, if such a ridiculous situation should ever arise. Paris 1919, from 1973 on the Reprise label, was made when Cale was still living in California, putting his body through the ropes with a bevy of substances and associating with all kinds of soft-rock losers. Said losers, such as the folks from Little Feat, play as his back-up band on this album. Friends of mine swear by Little Feat's first few albums. They're wrong, of course, but that's another matter. This is a very fine disc and, had I listed a Top 75 Albums of All Time list, as opposed to a Top 50, it'd be in there. Featuring mostly plaintative, pastoral ballads with Cale's thick, Welsh vocals at the fore, this is a really nice slice of left-field early '70s rock made when no-one on earth - bar a few clued-in types - gave a shit. The closer on side A is the real anomaly here, "MacBeth"; it sounds like a boogified glam stomper which hits ludicrous peaks during the bellowed chorus. VU this ain't, but it's nice to know that Cale wasn't recycling himself.

Fear was made a year later and is part of his "great Island records trilogy". With Phil Manzanera and Eno on board, this could almost be mistaken for a Roxy Music bootleg, and that's no slight. "Fear Is A Man's Best Friend" is probably his greatest post-VU song: pianos, treated guitar, a walloping chorus, lyrical paranoia, Cale's semi-atonal vocals. If you heard these albums out of nowhere, you'd probably think they stink. I know that if I had heard them as a 15-year-old, I would've run for the hills and never come back. I'm older, wiser and can now put them into some kind of context: depressing pre-punk '70s limey-rock which hit the nail for the times in which they were made.

3) "OLD-TIMEY MUSIC"
That heading's pretty general and is a can of worms I have no intention of discussing at any great length. After all, this is a blog: entries must attempt to be short and sweet, lest we all lose interest. You, me, we all bought the Harry Smith box on Smithsonian Folkways when it finally got the deluxe CD reissue treatment in '97. I ran the thing into the friggin' ground over the subsequent 3 or 4 years and haven't given it too much of a spin in recent times. Maybe I need a decade's break from it. I know it back to front, front to back, upside down and every which way but loose. See me in ten years and I'll tell you all about it. Since then I've bought a swag of discs from the era: a bit of Yazoo, a touch of document, some Son House, Mississippi John Hurt, all the "Blind" singers, you know the story. The last week I've been delving into the Smithsonian catalogue, and boy, is it ever a smorgasboard of some of the wildest, wooliest most jaw-droppingly brain-expanding tunes I've fumbled across.

You need these: If I Had My Way by the Rev. Gary Davis (astounding 1953 recordings of earth-rattling gospel-blues); Mountain Music of Kentucky (late '50s recordings now issued as a double CD, featuring Roscoe Holcomb, George Davis, Lee Sexton and more. A chilling twang be heard, this has a grit that sends a shudder down the spine); Classic Old Time Music (a Smithsonian Best Of, of sorts, you get fiddles, string bands, jugs, banjos, country, folk, blues, country-folk, country-blues, hollerin', lyin', cheatin' and a free set of steak knives. Beautiful photos and liner notes, too). Looks like I'm back on the old-time bandwagon, time to light up the pipe...

4) THOMAS JEFFERSON SLAVE APARTMENTS - You Can't Kill Stupid 12" EP
This record has me pondering this question: how did us underground rock types cope pre-internet? Was it a life of browsing fanzines, endless and pathetic Ghost World-style discussions at swap-meets, writing letters to faraway lands, actually listening to the radio to find our holy bounties which managed to keep insanity at bay? In short, yes, it was. Nowadays, everything is but a computer keyboard away. You want to learn the entire history of New York No Wave, the underground Czech scene of the '70s, pre-war country-blues, classic '70s Cleveland rock? It's all there in your fingertips. But lemme tell you young 'uns... sit down and I'll tell you a story about the old days: the struggles, the sweat-inducing journeys us grumpy young/old men would go on to earn those little scraps of priceless information which would make life more bearable... the aimless conversations, the eye-bleeding scouring of ads in hopelessly obscure fanzines... boy, back then we really EARNT the music, but now, the kids have got it easy. Take this record for example.

Back in 1992, Ron House, bless his little heart, promised to give this record away to anyone who'd write him a nice letter. It was that simple and the man was a fuckin' saint for embarking on such a thankless, money-eating task. He printed up 300 of the suckers and probably got rid of them in the blink of an eye. I'm happy to report that I was one of those desperate dipshits who put ink to paper in a blind rush, high-tailed it to the post office and waited every day for a month out the front of the house in the hope that the mailman would deliver the goods. I got my goods and a whole lot more. I told Ron I was starting up a fanzine and wished to run an article on him, and what I received was the 12" in question and a cassette documenting a hilarious, drunken conversation between himself and the Mike Rep (more on him at a later date) speaking intoxicated gibberish during closing hours in Columbus' hipster hangout/record store, Used Kids. I spun the disc endlessly for months, hailed the Columbus scene as the hot spot of early '90s rock 'n' roll (I don't know if anyone was listening, but I was right: the Datapanik/Anyway labels' discographies of the time remain great cultural artifacts of the era) and kept in touch with Ron for several years. I hope he's doing OK, and since I've given this nugget a revisit the last week, I've been inspired to get back in touch once again.

As some of you may know, TJSA also released a great, tragically non-selling gem of an LP on Johan Kugelberg's short-lived, Rick Rubin-funded Onion label in the mid '90s (check a second-hand bin near you, now) and then called it a day, but this 12"... I have no idea what your chances are of finding it, but give it a hearty try. You will be rewarded but good. Shite-hot Columbus "art-punk" for the ages, TJSA melded Stoogeoid garage punk snarl with the smart-arse whine of prime 'Ubu and it remains a record I keep close to my heart. I could give half a fuck for "collector" BS: this is a record everyone should enjoy.

5) BLACK FLAG - 120-minute driving cassette Best Of
This tape keeps insanity but a stone's throw away when I'm embarking on my Willy Loman-style car journeys throughout the backwoods of this state, and that's a good thing. Sometimes, without it, I fear Dr. Crazy tapping me on my shoulder, so I whack this on and the audio goodness washes over me. Aaaah, that hits the spot... Again, I'm correct: Black Flag were the most important and influential American rock band of the 1980s. Trace any rock worth a shit from the last 25 years and it all trails back to the 'Flag: Sonic Youth, Meat Puppets, Minutemen, Dinosaur Jr., Bad Brains right through to Nirvana, Mudhoney, the Sub Pop crew and an entire slew of completely useless acts who, like it or not, remain "important" figures in contemporary rock music (start with the Red Hot Chili Peppers and work your way up, or down, from there). They'll all tell you about the 'Flag: SST, the tours, the insane work ethic, the harassment, the torch-lighting gigs in bumfuck USA which inspired The Kids worldwide, that trailblazing spirit now lost in a world too spoilt for its own good. They were the Pied Pipers of their day, and I say that with a straight face. I'm prone to drunkenly (and even soberly, such as now) rambling on about the glories of Black Flag - I sense friends of mine rolling their eyes as they read this, so stop it! - and as a teen I thought I'd be "over" them by this stage in my life, but I'm happy to report I'm not even close. This tape collects the entire First Four Years and Damaged LPs and the best tracks from all their subsequent albums. Punk-purist dullards with funny haircuts and little sense of what makes good music poo-poo their post-Damaged works, and naturally they're full of it. My War is the ultimate '82 HC-meets-'Sabbath meltdown (though it seriously needs a remastering); Slip It In is a master stroke of mid-'80s punk rock (ie. it's Punk + Rock); Family Man... well, the spoken word thing was a new concept for the time, so that's forgivable, and the instrumental tracks are white-hot "prog-punk" various Touch & Go bands have wasted their lives trying to imitate; The Process of Weeding Out is a goddamn brilliant, totally under-appreciated stab at "free-rock" which I know many lunkheads will never get their heads around; In My Head is an amazing blend of Frippertronic guitar flashes melting w/ primo underground rock of the day; and Loose Nut... well, I ain't so hot on that one, but it does have "I'm The One", a Hank-penned tune of fist-shaking Man Rock I feel no guilt in loving. There you have it: Black Flag's post-Damaged studio work in a paragraph. Glad I got that off my chest.

lexdev@yahoo.com.au

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

DID SOMEBODY ORDER AN ASSHOLE FROM ROOM SERVICE?...

I love that line... taken from Bachelor Party, I believe. Aaah, what a movie. Anyway, the following piece of ego-stroking reminds me of an old Dan Clowes comic. It was a one-caption cartoon portrait of himself holding up a copy of the fictional Butt Brain fanzine, which featured an article on him, in which he says something like, Gee, I guess I just get a big head when I see my name in print. That's me in a teacup: an irrepressible loser who gets a big head when some other, equally hopeless loser acknowledges his existence. A friend pointed the following out to me last week:

UK issue of the final Captain Beefheart studio album, originally released in 1982. "The best thing about Ice Cream is that it meshes up the best elements of Beefheart: rampaging garage rock, Delta blues, dislocated jazz/avant-garde rhythms, and most of all, very catchy songs. The bulk of the record borders on twisted pop, much like Safe As Milk: a mixture of wild R & B/trash-rock and maudlin, schlocky harmonies. This album was released at a time when 'rock' music of any stripe wasn't very fashionable, yet it rocks harder than the bulk of its contemporaries. Whilst many admirers of Beefheart from the punk era had either gone New Wave, synth-pop or completely underground Beefheart sounds oblivious to it all. The rough, earthy sound of Ice Cream for Crow, along with its stunning sleeve art comprising of a mournful photo of The Man placed on top of an original, desert-tinged painting by himself, always brings to mind visions of Beefheart heroically sailing off to his caravan in the Arizona desert for a lifetime of retirement after one of his strongest artistic statements." -- David Lang.

That's taken from the Forced Exposure web site in their listing for Beefheart's Ice Cream For Crow CD. The quote in particular is taken from an ancient (well, I think I wrote it 6 years back) article I wrote on the album for Perfect Sound Forever. Either Forced Exposure or Virgin are getting desperate for press quotes, or they hire full-time stooges to trawl the 'net finding suitable quotes from people they don't have to pay. You be the judge of that.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

WOLF EYES – Burned Mind CD
Grab yer jackboots, trenchcoat and serial-killer books, the Industrial Revolution/Revival is on! Or at least you’d be forgiven for thinking so, given the hoopla surrounding the release of Michigan’s Wolf Eyes' debut for Sub Pop. When I was working in a music store about 3 ½ years back, we used to get all kinds of obscure nonsense coming in from overseas distributors every week, amongst it all a fair range of titles on the Load and Troubleman labels. Outside of a few items which took my fancy, namely Brainbombs reissues, Lightning Bolt and the like, it mostly passed me by without me noticing. One day whilst working the late shift on a Friday I decided to spin a few platters by the curiously-named Wolf Eyes. I think I got through approximately 30 seconds each of the first few songs and turned them off, promptly etching it in my mind to strike Wolf Eyes on the board as an all-hype/no-substance/no-talent outfit I’ll happily forget about for the rest of my life.

Then last year I found myself in the position of trading a stack of CDs/LPs with Ron Lessard at RRR outta Massechusetts and, due to the good words a friend was whispering in my ear regarding the “better” recordings of WE, I decided to take a punt and got myself a copy of their Dread LP from 2001. It took me by surprise. Old-school industrial misanthropy like it was extracted from the tired bowels of Boyd Rice or Genesis P-Orridge, Dread, much like a lot of the nudge-nudge-wink-wink hardcore that comes out these days, played as being part sincerity and most parts as an almost ironic homage to the “glory days” of early ‘80s noise, when the men were men, the hate pure and the Manson references aplenty. I dug it a lot, as if it was an update for the post-Black Flag/Swans generation, and thus hailed Wolf Eyes as a band at least worthy of a nod.

Now comes this, Sub Pop’s most willfully “uncommercial” release since whenever, but at least Wolf Eyes are doing better than their ex-band mate, Andrew W.K., a guy whose current profile (and sales status, I bet) is lower than a snake’s belly. Funnily enough, he toured here early last year and you literally couldn’t give the tickets away: I was offered a handful to give to friends – I think 30 tickets in total were sold for the show – and I knocked them back due to a previous engagement of rearranging my sock drawer that night.

But anyhow, Sub Pop know a winner when they see it, and there's enough hepcats singing the praises of the ‘Eyes to know that such a minimal investment will make its money back, and whatever the case, my hat is tipped in respect: this is a great album, the only “noise” disc I’ll likely hear this year, but also still very likely the best released all year. Cased in a handsome, fold-out sleeve showing off their fancy flyer art, and featuring such family-favourite song titles as “Stabbed in the Face”, “Urine Burn” and “Dead in a Boat”, this is an early morning heart-starter I like to scare the wife with. A friend thinks this album has a distinct touch of the Black Metal necro-misanthropies about it, and whilst he may be somewhere near the money with such a remark, I’m prone to ignore him on such matters, since he thinks everything sounds like Black Metal. For my two cents, this is more like a 21st-century meeting point for hardcore kids brought up on the ‘Flag’s Damaged, DOA-period Throbbing Gristle and the Swans ca. Cop. It’s obviously a whole lot more electronic than such a combination might sound, but we’re talking a “vibe” here as much as any audio similarities. Whatever the case, I can’t take Wolf Eyes very seriously, and I don’t think they can either, but as long as they keep this kind of room-clearing nonsense up, I’ll join the party.
A HIGH FIVE…

1) SWANS – White Light From the Mouth of Infinity 2LP
Speaking of which… this, their “comeback” effort from 1991, after the debacle of the Laswell-produced This Burning World (a turkey worthy of the scorn it received), is an album you’re either going to love or hate. For myself, it ranks as my favourite Swans album from their latter period. It’s also probably the best produced album I own. Forget about your Emerson, Lake and Palmer platters – not that I own any, mind you – this is over-production to the max, but at least in this context it works. Percussion that thunders and roars; bellowing vocals which rumble out of the speakers; crispy-clean guitars that sound like they were played by a guy wearing surgeon’s gloves; when I used to play this to my brother in the early ‘90s – a man who never shared a Swans enthusiasm the way I did – he’d run screaming in horror, saying such nasty epithets as It sounds like Nick Cave playing with ELO. Or something like that. Come to think of it, I remember that Mykel Board once reviewed this and noted that the Jarboe tracks reminded him of Barbra Streisand. I’m still not sure if he meant that as a compliment. Still, the important thing is that I like it and feel no guilt in my enjoyment. This double set is so – AHEM!spiritually uplifting, I’d seriously rate it as one of the finer albums of its decade.

2) THE PRETTY THINGS – Get the Picture? CD
Their second album ca. mid ‘60s; amp-destroying Brit R & B; one of the most electrifying openers ever in “You Don’t Believe Me”; keeps me focused on those long car trips. Consult Mike Stax for any and all other details you may need to know.

3) PRINCE FAR I – Health & Strength LP
Certainly one of my all-time favourite reggae albums, I say this as a white man: this baby rocks. Originally recorded for Virgin’s Frontline series in the late ‘70s, this sat on the shelf for twenty years before a tape version fell in the lap of one Adrian Sherwood. After slapping himself silly for his good fortunes, he cleaned it up a touch and released it on his excellent Pressure Sounds imprint in 1998. Now I can enjoy it, and you can, too. Some critic/idiot once referred to Prince Far I as “the Captain Beefheart of dub”, and whilst I’m still not too sure of what he’s trying to grasp at with such a statement, I’ll take it as this: Prince Far I appears to be a very “eccentric” man and isn’t afraid of peppering his music with said eccentricities. He chants, he babbles, he toasts, he raps, he’s probably off his tits on a non-prescribed substance, but boy-oh-boy, do I like that man’s style.

4) THE FEELIES – The Good Earth LP
As a teenager, I was rather obsessed with the 1986 Jonathon Demme film, Something Wild. For me, it was the epitome of hip: square-John family man gets “kidnapped” by goth-seductress and finds himself caught up in all kindsa crazy shenanigans, some of them amusing, some of them life-threatening. Well, what can I say? I was young, dumb and full of shit. Now I’m older and just as full of shit: I own a video copy of the film and still enjoy the annual viewing it allows me. You want a film review? Go elsewhere, we’ll talk about The Feelies instead. What’s the link? It’s this: The Feelies appear in the film as the high-school-reunion party houseband, and their songs sprinkle throughout the rest of the soundtrack. Best of all, the songs appear on this album. Released in ’86 on the Coyote label and co-produced by college-dork extraordinaire, REM’s Peter Buck, I once announced my love for this album to a co-worker and he appeared somewhat shocked, like, since when were you a man of taste? The Feelies, after all, are a “critic’s band”, which I guess leaves me and all the common folk out of the picture. I don’t usually like anything from the ‘80s this “nice”, but maybe it’s not as nice as it initially appears. The Feelies rocked it hard like a 3rd-album Velvets, and the songs, man, the songs. “Slipping (Into Something)”, also used in Something Wild, is the highlight here, so if you desire some ‘80s “college rock” which doesn’t make you want to go on a killing spree, I’d say start with The Good Earth.

5) FLIPPER – Gone Fishin’ LP
Aaahh… the totally non-classic sophomoric effort from the finned lads which no-one ever talks about, ah, ever. I’m here to at least mention its name and let people be aware of its existence. After all, if I don’t, who will? I went apeshit over Flipper as a Maximum Rock ‘n’ Roll-reading 15-year-old loser and bought this, the Sex Bomb 7”, Generic and the then just-released Public Flipper Ltd. double LP all in the space of a month. I then screen-printed a particularly crap-looking home-made Flipper t-shirt with a fish print, but that fascinating aside will wait ‘til a later date. In short, I was a fan, and remain as such. Generic needs no more commentary, but what of this? The package gets an A-plus – fancy tour-bus cut-out, inner sleeve with lyrics and funky photos; hell, the songs are strong, too: Sacrifice, Talk’s Cheap, Survivors of the Plague rate as Flipper classics; even better, they’ve grabbed together a wider array of instruments to give that patented Flipper dirge a more eclectic edge… so what is it that holds it back from being a Really Great Record? It’s the PRODUCTION, silly. What happened to the bottom end? The sludge? The guitars?! Are the band aware of this? Someone put this this back in the studio for a remix – look, just call Hank Rollins, I don’t think he’s too busy these days – and get him to do what Iggy did in ’97 with Raw Power: make a mountain out of a molehill. Even that Rick Rubin guy will suffice.

lexdev@yahoo.com.au

Friday, October 01, 2004

A briefer-than-brief sketch of the below... Well, maybe not.

PETER HAMMILL's Nadir's Big Chance was released in 1975 and I bought it as an England's Dreaming-reading putz back in '92 for a couple of dollars due to the heavy praise it received from Mr. Lydon during his infamous appearance on Tommy Vance's radio show back in '77. Got all that? Hammill, still around and recording music today, has a catalogue as long as both your arms and I've heard about half-a-dozen of his efforts, all of which have been worthy. This is his best. Originally from the avant-progsters Van der Graaf Generator, he split the scene in the mid '70s and recorded this what I'd dare to call "post-modern" ripper. I say post-modern because, much like Bowie's Ziggy Stardust phase, Nadir's Big Chance is Hammill reinventing himself as a rough 'n' tumble tough-guy rock 'n' roller and assuming said personality for the duration of the disc. The sound is a mixture of early '70s UK art-rock (think Eno w/ or w/out Roxy Music) with a strong dose of Bowie and Bolan. Add in a few spoonfuls of depressing, mid '70s bacon-rash-&-dripping UK angst, stir the pot and enjoy. "The Institute Of Mental Health Is Burning": it's a beautiful thing. This is a secondhand-bin clogger you should stop skipping over and purchase.

If I could list two records in my adolescence which fried my brain like a bucket of acid, it'd be the 'Pistols' Never Mind the Bollocks and Plastic Surgery Disasters by the Dead Kennedys. Heard and purchased at the tender and oh-so-impressionable age of 13, they flipped my mind but good. I'm still recovering. That's probably a pretty embarrassing statement, since I know of many fellow music dorks who hold such discs (and bands) in very low esteem, and I have nothing to say in my defense. I need no defense. I can still listen to both albums and go nuts. They've never escaped me, even though they probably should. So, to get to any kind of point, it's this: Jello Biafra is an annoying, loud-mouthed twat, but you know what? HE'S ALL RIGHT. I'd rather have my fingernails pulled out than ever sit through one of his spoken-word recordings, but he has at least done the noble thing in releasing ZOLAR X's long lost recordings on the LP known as Timeless. That's a good thing, and, come to think of it, quite a rare thing when you look at the horrors of the Alternative Tentacles discography. It's a trainwreck of the worst order.

There's a few items there I'd swear by: Dog Faced Hermans, Galloping Coroners, Michael Gira and Jarboe, Tragic Mulatto, Half Japanese and even Alice Donut's Mule LP from 1990 (a band I've never cared for, but that album... I challenge anyone to listen to "Bottom of the Chain" and not want to join the nearest slampit), but the rest... call me the day Causey Way, Nomeansno, Phantom Limbs, Iowaska, Christian Lunch, Facepuller or Victim's Family release a good record. I'll be waiting. But anyway!!...

ZOLAR X were an utterly ridiculous space-rock/glam outfit from LA spanning the years 1972-'81, the band voted Most Likely but whom wound up as the ultimate Couldabeens. This reissue hopes to rectify such a situation. Dressed up in Star Trek-style silver space-suits (complete w/ Spock ears and hairdos), which they apparently never took off, even in public, they rode the glam wave, stumbled during the punk era (despite playing shows with various punkers of the day), then admitted defeat at the dawn of the '80s. Their sound, certainly on the more rocking and concise A side, is an amped-up moon-boogie which brings to mind Iggy's Kill City jamming it w/ Space Ritual-era Hawkwind and is something I've given a heavy beating the last 7 days. It is the fucking best. A "lost" recording you'll listen to for years to come, much like the Electric Eels, Simply Saucer and the usual list of suspects. Side B veers dangerously close to "rock opera" territory, but at least has enough oomph and eccentricities to keep it away from Tommy land. Look, it's all good, the package is handsome beyond words, the fidelity fine (some of it recorded by Jim Dickinson!), the photos worthy of framing and the liner notes tell the complete story. One of the best reissues you'll hear all year.

THE FLESH EATERS released Hard Road to Follow in 1983 on Chris D.'s Upsetter label and has been unavailable for nigh on two decades. Now, thanks to Atavistic, it's back in print. Every scribe and his mother has spilt 'net ink on this sucka since its reintroduction into the general consciousness of the hipster cognoscenti, and therefore I feel little need to add anything to the proceedings. It is, quite bluntly, a very fine thing and I'm currently on a Flesh Eaters bender not seen since the likes of that other guy who had a bender some other time. Now on heavy repeat in the car stereo: a 120-minute cassette featuring the highlights from No Questions Asked, A Minute To Prey, A Second To Die, Forever Came Today, Dragstrip Riot (the opener, "Tomorrow Never Comes" peels paint off walls) and this. Bad-ass rock royalty nicely packaged with typically stellar liner notes c/ Coley, I even found myself dragging out old issues of Forced Exposure the other night to peruse Chris D.'s hilarious film reviews. Again, one of the best reissues you'll come across in 2004.

CAN's Unlimited Edition is in fact my favourite album of theirs, but since it's an odds 'n' sods collections and not a "real" album as such, I could not list it in my Top 50 everyone ignored a few months back. There's rules, ya see. Covering '68-'75, housed in an ugly-as-hell sleeve and featuring 19 mostly short and sweet tracks (with a few epics thrown in), this is the best collection of Can's ouvre during their peak years. Next!

MAGMA's Mekanik Destruktiw Komandoh is a completely ludicrous musical offering I like to frighten friends with. It's so over the top you'll either reel in horror or be won over by the absurdity of a '70s French prog band in uber-choir mode chanting out choruses in a made-up sci-fi language (Kobaian) whilst backed by an airtight ensemble of crashing drums, fuzz bass and church organs. There's no irony in my love for this band: they remain one of the most unique outfits rock has ever birthed, a band who've forged a path no one has ever come close to.

lexdev@yahoo.com.au