Wednesday, November 24, 2004

CHARLES BRONSON – Youth Attack! 10”
COMBATWOUNDEDVETERAN – I Know A Girl Who Develops Crime Scene Photos LP; Duck Down For The Torso 10”
I paid little to no attention to any kind of hardcore in the 1990s. By the end of high school, I was pretty much over it as a musical force in my life, bar the essential 80s stuff I’d spent my teen years listening to. There’s probably a handful of great bands I missed out on, and maybe one day I’ll get around to listening to them, but for now they remain names I know yet bands I’ve heard little of. For instance, last night a friend of mine (who’s a good six years younger than me) asked me what I thought of Born Against. I could only say that I knew of them, had read about them in fanzines at the time (which would be the early ‘90s), but, and not to sound like too much of an old fart about such things, they were a band that came a little too late for me. People tell me they made some killer albums. They could be right.

Skip to the end of the ‘90s and I found myself working in a predominantly hardcore/punk-oriented record store for a living (yeah, take a wild guess). This’ll be a breeze, I smugly thought, I can wax lyrically to all the young kids about the glory days of HC, when bands like Negative Approach and the Dicks reigned supreme and when MRR was almost readable. I’ll bore them to tears with my third-hand stories of Black Flag’s endless tours, the DC Vs. Boston straight-edge wars, the halcyon era of Chi-town punk when Naked Raygun and the Effigies would play double bills. I’ll be King of the Kids! Well, to put it bluntly, I couldn’t have been more wrong. The Kids didn’t give a fuck, and they probably just wondered who this clueless old relic was and how he managed to land a job in their favourite record store. Every day The Kids would come in and quiz me about some new power-violence band from Kansas who just put out a split 10” with that Estonian crust outfit, or that new emo (a term I hadn’t used or heard since I was a 16-year-old Rites Of Spring/Embrace fan) group on Vagrant everyone’s talking about. The first few months, I must admit, were a little dispiriting, and I felt like a fish seriously out of water, blundering its way through a pond it had no business being in.

After a while I finally found my feet. I made it my duty to research all this music I’d completely ignored for nearly a decade, buried my head in a library of Short, Fast & Loud, Punk Planet and Heart Attack! fanzines (you things you gotta do for work…) and at least felt confident enough that I wasn’t humiliating myself in front of a horde of teenagers on a daily basis. Of course, you didn’t have to care all that much about this music, but it wouldn’t hurt that you had the vaguest idea of what you were talking about when attempting to recommend a HC disc to someone (I should mention that the shop did/does also carry a wide array of indie-rock, jazz, noise, etc which I felt a certain cockiness in handling). But anyway!... Amongst all this, I did actually manage to find a crop of contemporary HC bands whose existence I was not only aware of, but whom I actually liked as well. Not only that, but at the ripe age of 29, I found myself in the unlikely situation of purchasing a handful of HC discs I’d grown fond of.

I still know little about Charles Bronson (CB) or Combatwoundedveteran (CWV). CB hailed from Chicago and were around from approximately the early to late ’90s and put out a swag of 7”s, EPs, 10”s, split EPs and probably a couple of 9”s for good measure. It’s all collected on a Complete Discography 2CD which you’ll likely find on the ‘net somewhere. Two CDs of this stuff is probably way too much listening for this kind of music, so I say stick with a 10” or two and that’ll keep you satisfied for a lifetime. Smart-alecs all the way, CB almost amounted to being a HC parody or tribute outfit, aping and taking the piss out of every early ‘80s HC cliché they could find, but they at least had the wit and musical chops to what in lesser hands would result in little more than a one-joke gimmick (a little Crucial Youth, anyone?). Taking their cues primarily from the early DC (Void, Minor Threat), Boston (SSD, Gang Green, Siege) and Midwestern (Necros, Negative Approach, early Husker Du) scenes, CB toasted up a hilarious, fist-shaking array of blistering noise played 1,000 mph, with even this 10” containing 20 songs which are over before you get the chance to sit down and enjoy them. It’s pretty goddamn blistering stuff, and nostalgic as it may seem, they put a fresh face on a well-worn formula which even managed to win over a grumpy old turd like myself. Ace, bold, black & white graphics, whirlwind Huskers cover (“Punchdrunk”) and laugh-out-loud song titles (“Marriage Can Suck It”, “Fuck Technology, I’ll Keep My Pocket Change”, “Let’s Start A War So I Can Sing About Stopping It”, “I Just Can’t Avoid The “Void” In Avoid”) make this a swish package I have no intention of trading in anytime soon.

CWV hailed (hail?) from Florida and feature members of another band worthy of a spiel or two, Reversal of Man. Again featuring some impressive graphics, this time in full, eye-dazzling colour – those HC kids take great pride in their packages – both of these discs are platters I like to spin when the urge for pure energy (and not much else) takes hold of me. I Know A Girl…, from 1999, is a rougher recording where the songs, much like CB, are almost over before they start. Righteosities are screamed, indignations are proclaimed, governments and betrayers are cursed and drums flail at the speed of light. Less nostalgic in approach than CB, CWV sound contemporary yet overwhelmingly good, and never make the mistake of merely blurring into grindcore or power-violence. This is HARDCORE done just like the pioneers used to. You know, just like the olden days…

Duck Down… is a 4-song EP from 2001 or ‘2 (little details are listed regarding dates) which I actually bought well after my tenure at said store had expired. Gee, I guess you’d call me a “fan”! Again gracing cover art fine enough to hang on your wall, CWV took a slight detour here and dedicated the A-side to a wall of noise, samples, guitar feedback, pounding, offbeat drums and the occasional incomprehensible lyrical scream. Straight-down-the-line punkers thought it was a joke, and not a funny one at that. Me, I dig the hell out of it, and if you don’t like it, there’s always the wall-shaking screamers on the B-side to allay your fears. I purchased this over two years ago and haven’t bought any HC since. Still, the other week, I did find myself fumbling through the CWV section, just wondering if they were still around and had released anything in the meantime…

Monday, November 22, 2004

WHAT A FUCKING IDIOT, PART ONE

It's a good thing this is only a blog governed by myself for personal amusement. If I was employed and being paid for this, I'd be sacked for my shoddy workmanship. Tom Troccoli wrote below and corrected me on an embarrassing error I made in regards to his LP. The guest vocalist on "The Girl From the North Country" is not Dez Cadena, but John Doe of X (under an alias). Dez sings on the Lightnin' Hopkins cover. There ya go. Wish Tom a happy birthday whilst you're at it.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

THE BOTTOM-FEEDING 25 ALBUMS OF ALL TIME…

I’ve been getting a few emails and points of discussion regarding the Top 50 Albums list I printed a few months back. The main thrust of the emails has been, as predicted, “What about this…?!”, “I can’t believe you listed that and not this!” or “You boring, stuck-in-a-rut, stuck-in-the-past old cunt”. Other than killing some room on the site and pointlessly listing 50 albums I happen to really like, that was the point of the exercise. But, in the never-ending quest for lists, lists and more lists (I know you love ‘em), I’ve just put together my “Bottom-Feeding 25 Albums Of All Time” list below. They’re the additional 25 which, well, probably should have been somewhere within the original Top 50, but for whatever reason were cut out. These are all great, too, and I welcome any and all exasperated comments coming my way.

I don’t feel any urge to explain a single title unless someone wishes me to. Hopefully next time I then won’t be listing an additional 10 album not listed above, then 5, then 1. That, in effect, would make a killer list of 91 Essential Albums, but I really don’t think such a thing is necessary.

51) RESIDENTS – Not Available LP
52) AC/DC – Back In Black LP
53) TOWNES VAN ZANDT – First Album LP
54) BIRTHDAY PARTY – Junkyard LP
55) CUL DE SAC – ECIM CD
56) THE FALL – Hex Enduction Hour LP
57) THE BYRDS – Younger Than Yesterday LP
58) NAKED CITY – Torture Garden LP
59) AMON DUUL – Disaster 2LP
60) BIG STAR - #1 Record LP
61) BAD BRAINS – Rock For Light LP
62) KARLHEINZ STOCKHAUSEN – Hymnen 2LP
63) TIM BUCKLEY – Live at the Troubadour 2CD
64) PATTI SMITH – Radio Ethiopia LP
65) MAGMA - Kohntarkosz LP
66) JOY DIVISION – Unknown Pleasures LP
67) THE KINKS – The Village Green Preservation Society LP
68) JOHN CALE – Paris 1919 LP
69) MODERN LOVERS – s/t LP
70) TYRANNOSAURUS REX – Unicorn LP
71) ORNETTE COLEMAN – Science Fiction LP
72) NIRVANA – Nevermind LP
73) TELEVISION – Marquee Moon LP
74) HUSKER DU – Zen Arcade 2LP
75) THE SAINTS – Eternally Yours LP

Thursday, November 18, 2004

TOM TROCCOLI’S DOG – s/t LP
Stop your snickering, I can hear it from here. I wish to discuss this album for essentially one reason. It’s not that it’s a great LP; hell, it’s not even a good one, but it’s one with a few points of interest. Why did I dig this out? Because I was in a discussion with a local record-store owner earlier in the week, a man reputed as just about the biggest Bob Dylan nut in Melbourne, and of course we were discussing the music of Mr. Zimmerman. Is my life such a pathetic sham that I would willingly engage in such activity? In a word: yes.

So, for what ever reason, I brought up this album in question and uttered the line: “The best ever Dylan cover was actually played by Tom Troccoli’s Dog, the band featuring non-legend Tom Troccoli, Greg Ginn and Dave Claasan, sung by Troccoli and Dez Cadena of Black Flag.” He gave me a quizzical look, screwed his face and kind of ignored my comment. I reiterated my point: TTD’s rendition of “Girl From The North Country” – in which Cadena plays Johnny Cash to Troccoli’s Dylan - is not only the finest Dylan cover I’d ever heard, but it in fact surpasses the greatness of the original. We to-ed and fro-ed and then agreed that I’d bring my copy of the album into the store one day for him to make up his mind. Maybe he’s just humouring me, but come one day, I will do such a thing.

TTD was released in 1985 on – what else? – SST. Troccoli was a ‘Flag roadie, Claasan a general hanger-on amongst the SST crowd, and Ginn was and is a man who needs no introduction. I bought this for about $5 when I was 16 or 17, for obvious reasons. If you ever pay more than that, you should have “Sucker” permanently tattooed on your forehead and be exiled from humanity. It enjoys the reputation of being a deleted turkey/bargain-bin-filler which probably next to no-one on this planet could care less about. File it alongside your October Faction discs. Such platters, for many, spelt the death knell for SST aficionados: Ginn had pulled one bucketbong too many and let all concepts of quality control fly out the door. I don’t agree with such a stance, but I can see where the nay-sayers are coming from.

For one, the first sign of a lousy record is this: the only redeemable songs present on said disc are covers. That’s this album in a teacup. Forget about the rest of the LP, this album contains one fantastic song and one I’d sum up as pretty cool: the Dylan number and a version of Lightnin’ Hopkins’ “Play With Your Poodle”. The rest is not totally worthless – Troccoli could play a mean Kirkwood/Ginn-inspired guitar (Ginn actually plays bass here) at times – but the songwriting is fairly weak, and even when a track gets some momentum, such as on the ender, “Patience”, everything falls apart within 2 minutes, leaving another 5 minutes of aimless bong-hit jamming. The rest is not even worth discussing.

So, that brings me to “Girl From the North Country”. I never heard the Nashville Skyline version of this ‘til roughly 10 years later when I was in the midst of a Dylan obsession. It’s a great disc, one maligned and/or misunderstood in its time, though the vocals of Troccoli and Cadena leave Dylan’s constipated yodeling and Cash’s coma-like drawl for dead. For real. Cadena could bark like a monster in the ‘Flag days, though, other than here, his attempts at singing have mostly been an embarrassment. Listen (or try to listen) to any DC3 album and you’ll tell me I’m right (again, DC3 only ever played two good songs, and they were both covers: Mountain’s “Theme From An Imaginary Western” and Hawkwind’s “Psy Power”: not a good sign). But here – right here – the man sings like a goddamn angel. His husky rasp is the perfect foil for Troccoli’s keening cry, and yes, I have played this to doubting friends in fits of alcohol-induced delusional behaviour (when it’s PARTY TIME: Hey, dude, break out the Troccoli disc, it’s a smoker!), and they’ve all agreed: this is better than the original. A keeper – for that one song.

Holy shit, did I just write 5 paragraphs on a goddamn Tom Troccoli’s Dog LP?

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

My god, what a slack bastard I am. I seem to spend all my time rattling on about some nonsense or other on everyone else’s sites, in the meantime leaving mine to rot like a discarded plant. Let me talk about something I watched on television on Sunday night. It may be of interest to a few of you. There’s an American show called MURDER TRAIL which gets shown down here a couple of nights a week on late-night TV. Each week it documents a different serial killer and their evil deeds. I never miss it. I also listen to Throbbing Gristle and even the occasional Boyd Rice album. I do not, however, wear a trenchcoat or combat boots. Does that still make me a loser? I thought so. Anyway, the Sunday night episode concentrated on the man known as The Trailside Killer, aka David Carpenter, a fulltime loser who killed approximately 10 women in San Francisco ca. 1979-81. I’d never heard of the guy – and hey, I know my serial killers – so I stayed up late for the occasion. There was one moment which really caught my attention and almost made me lose my breath: it was the mention of “bank robber Shane Williams”. Now that name will mean nothing to many and possibly something to a few.

Shane Williams is known in underground rock circles as the guy who corresponds (or at least corresponded) with just about anybody and everybody who’ll give him the time of day. This is because he’s spent probably 25 of the last 30 years of his life in prison. That’s an approximation, but likely near the mark. He also used to write a column for the defunct Flipside mag and is generally known as “that punk rock bank-robber junkie guy” who’s often the butt of people’s jokes (just read an old Motorbooty or Forced Exposure for reference). When I was publishing fanzines back in the early to late ‘90s I would always send him a copy and he’d do a nice write-up in various publications. I was personally in touch with him for about 6 or 7 years when he was in and out of prison for various charges until I ceased correspondence with the guy in the late ‘90s. Why? Well, I wish no ill will towards Williams, but I found his philosophy to life (which could be roughly summed up as: Shoot Up, Rob Banks, Rot In Prison) to be rather contrary to mine and figured my life would be no less rich if I was to discontinue writing letters to him. But let’s cut to the chase…

In 1981, David Carpenter knew the police had him nailed for the murders and were going to soon arrest him. He then rang up an old friend he’d met in jail (he’d previously served for rape and kidnap: a real gentleman), a young bank robber by the name of Shane Williams, and sold him the crucial piece of evidence: his gun. Carpenter was soon arrested, though the police were worried about a conviction and needed the gun to make a convincing case. Lo and behold, a few weeks later, Williams was arrested for a comically bungled bank robbery (his accomplice – his girlfriend – left her student ID on the bank counter!) and taken down to the station. Knowing that Carpenter was also awaiting trial and that the police were searching for the gun, he plea-bargained and (probably) received a lighter sentence for his co-operation. Now, in Shane’s defense, he didn’t know that Carpenter was involved in anything nasty at the time; he just wanted a gun for his outlaw lifestyle. But this still nags me: can this Shane Williams mentioned on this show – and in the recreation of events the man in question was dressed like Dee Dee Ramone with a cropped haircut, thus looking like a “punk rocker” – be anyone BUT the Shane Williams? If so, that’s just fucking creepy.

On a lighter note, I have in my possession a copy of the monumental Holy Ghost 9-CD box set by Albert Ayler and it is the release of the year. OK, fair enough, Ayler died nearly 35 years ago, so let me rename that as Reissue of the Year. No, wait, this is previously unissued recordings. Fuck it, it is the Release Of The Year! I will not do it justice as yet: I need to fully digest its contents. The full review will happen in coming weeks. For now I simply say: purchase, breathe deep, open the box, fondle, caress and fetishise its contents, spin discs constantly to the annoyance of your wife, husband, flat mate, family or friends and thank the lord for the good people at Revenant.

Here are 5 other albums I am currently rocking the fuck out to:

1) SHOCKABILLY – Vietnam/Heaven CD
Two slabs of primo uberground rock from the mid ‘80s. I hear no one but myself mentioning their name in this day and age. What the fuck is up with that?!

2) SERGE GAINSBOURG – Comic Strip CD
A certain person who probably won’t be sending me a Xmas card this year just wrote about this on his site. It made me dig my copy out for a spin… and a few more.

3) VARIOUS ARTISTS – There Is No Eye: Music For Photographs CD
This is a compilation on Smithsonian documenting the photos and song choices of beatnik/folk enthusiast John Cohen. The detailed package will blow your mind, and then there’s the music: Rev. Gary Davis, Muddy Waters, Bob Dylan, Bill Monroe, Roscoe Holcomb and more. What a goddamn delight to behold.

4) HALF JAPANESE – Loud and Horrible CD
I was originally scheduled and booked to release this myself, then Jad throws it into the arms of Drag City and I’m left stranded, the cheap bastard. I’m joking, of course. Actually, that is what happened, but that’s OK: Jad’s a saint, and let’s be honest: I’d do the same thing, given half the chance. Earth-moving can’t-play-for-shit spazz-rock from the bowels of the ‘80s; if you’ve ever wondered what all the fuss was about, right here ain’t a bad place to start.

5) NOAH HOWARD – Patterns/Message to South Africa CD
Two obscure recordings from the equally obscure Howard – who recorded for ESP back in the day – ca. 1971 and ’79 which the good people at Eremite had the sense to issue a couple of years back. Does that sentence actually make any sense? I’ve just re-read it and I think it does, kinda. “Patterns” is a half-hour piece recorded in Holland in a sextet setting w/ the likes of Misha Mengelberg and Han Bennink on board. It is a fucking masterpiece. Percussion of all shades of exotic stripes are hammered, Noah wails like a wounded cat on sax and vocals and guitarist Jaap Schoonhoven – let me guess: he’s from Holland! – twangs his strings like an Ulmer/Sharrock disciple. “Message to South Africa” is a slightly shorter number which mixes up the scorch with all manner of gospel and blues touches, and if you’ve ever popped a boner to Ayler’s Music Is the Heeling Force of the Universe – just like I did a few months back – you’ll be soiling underwear over this slab of glorious noise. Not an unfettered screechfest by any means, this is "free jazz" of a beautifully tempered, soulful nature. Swish package, Coley liner notes… could a man ask for any more?

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Not a high five to be seen ‘round here today. It’s been a rainy and rather depressing weekend, so let me briefly ramble on about a few good things which keep a man occupied on dreary days…

Firstly, there’s the new-ish UK film, Shaun Of The Dead. Whenever friends tell me I “have” to see a film and it’s “up my alley”, my attention turns elsewhere. This is not meant as a jibe against well-meaning friends, it’s just that I have pretty particular tastes with movies, and even certain films which, it seems, all my friends love (like Magnolia, Punch-Drunk Love, Donnie Darko), I fucking hate. And I mean it: they stank up the room and wasted hours of my life as I sat in audio-visual torture enduring the endless minutes of cinematic excrement that they were. But, and this is a big but, “they” were right in recommending Shaun of the Dead, a Limey zombie-comedy which avoids all the obvious pitfalls of the genre (if there is one… I guess Return of the Living Dead falls in there: another film I have a great fondness for) and stands as one of the funniest films I’ve seen in eons. And I mean funny as in tears in the eyes, snot running out the nose, the whole coolness-extracting nine yards of giddiness that a really funny film makes you feel. The ever-present “joke” of the pic – that the two main stoners of the movie are caught in such a permanent hangover state that they only realize the world is full of zombies when they come knocking on (or down) their front door – could have bombed in lesser hands. SOTD succeeds because the characterizations of the two main hopeless cases, and the portrayal of a pub/TV-obsessed culture, is so spot-on it had me guiltily looking at myself and asking, Am I really like those guys? (The answer is, Yes, more often than I’d care to admit). Like Dawn Of The Dead, its obvious influence (well, duh), in the 21st century the dead come back to haunt the places that were special in their lives, but this time it’s the local pub, not the mall. I rarely see a contemporary film which blows my mind with its cleverness – SOTD is smart, not smart-arse: there’s a difference – so let me be that hyperventilating “friend” urging you to see this movie…

Two discs getting the heavy airplay this weekend: Chris D.’s Time Stands Still LP and the Swell MapsInternational Rescue CD. Time Stands Still was D.’s first solo effort, and his first release after the break-up of the “original” Flesh Eaters. There’s three versions of this floating around: the original Upsetter/Enigma LP, the 1993 LP/CD reissue on Dogmeat and the new CD reissue (w/ bone-arse tracks) on Atavistic. Take yer pick. My version is the Dogmeat LP (which, if I must reiterate, I have never had any involvement in). It’s a mighty fine disc and an excellent listen for a beer-drenched porch sitting or a rainy afternoon on the couch. D. enlisted an all-star gang of his pals to join in (John Doe, Jeff Pierce, all the usual LA suspects) and belts out an LP worth of acoustic rockers, ballads and torch songs which I can only assume was influenced by a heavy diet of ‘68/’69-era ‘Stones LPs at the time. My advice is to head straight to the b-side and sit in awe at the first three songs: “Sanctuary” (later remade by Divine Horsemen on their scorching Snake Handler LP), “Heat From The Sun” (the LP’s highlight, augmented by some beautiful violin work which adds to the Beggars Banquet feel of the number) and “Little Sister”, an up-tempo jamboree that’ll get the hip shaking. No matter how many times this little pearl gets reissued it’ll probably never find much of an audience outside of the true believers, but that’s their loss. Don’t make it yours.

Swell Maps need no introduction and I ain’t the one to do it anyway. International Rescue is a CD put out by Alive/Bomp a few years back which collates a whole bunch of their singles and odds ‘n’ sods (much like every Swell Maps LP), and for my money remains the essential ‘Maps platter. Every single song could have made a killer 7”, and the fact that the bulk of this was recorded about 25 years ago stands testament to a band whose music has stood the test of time and continues to surpass 99% of contemporary bands attempting the lo-fi punk/new wave/kraut angle in the 21st century. Simply awe-inspiring punk rock mashed up with a dash of Can and T. Rex which strikes a perfect balance of thrashing guitars, pop hooks and experimental wank. Kids, stack this up next to your Interpol CDs in ten years time and weep at your wasted youth

Monday, November 01, 2004

Inspiration has not really been flying my way the past week, so I’ve not been bothered to write a whole lot, if at all. I could give a belated farewell to John Peel, but it seems a bit redundant at this point in time. He was, needless to say, one of the good guys and a man responsible for bringing so much great music to the heathen masses. So there ya go!

I bought a CD on the weekend, so let’s give it a quick run through the wringer… EARTH’s Sunn Amps and Smashed Guitars compiles their live LP on Blast First from ’95 and a few demo tracks from 1990/’91. It was the last of the Earth discs I needed to get and, if anything, remains an album only necessary for those who insist on owning the complete Earth discography, such as myself. It contains one 30-minute live track recorded at the Disobey club in London, which I could gladly live without (“Ripped on Facist (sic) Ideas”), as it sounds like the “band” (that’s Dylan Carlson and Ian Dickson at that point) simply plugged their guitars in, set them up next to the speaker to feed back, then spent the remaining 28 minutes at the bar. It’s OK, but not a whole lot more than that. The remaining 4 songs are of much more interest: archival demo material featuring a more sludge-rock sound featuring Melvin Joe Preston and even Kurt Cobain on “Divine and Bright”. Despite the use of a drum machine (an instrument I loathe in just about any context) – though there’s some “real” drumming here, too – this is the stuff I crave. Doom, gloom, repetitive riffing and a pace that barely registers as a pulse, these lo-fi numbers move the heavens. It’s news to me, but Earth are actually still an ongoing entity, as Carlson keeps the name alive (in between bouts in detox and rehab) and plans on a Southern Lord release in the near future. People, do not start with Sunn Amps… - go to the four incredible Sub Pop albums instead: they’re all completely different from each other and stand as amazing documents of a band creating something entirely new with each and every title – but if you’ve been there and done that and still have an Earth craving that won’t quit, you could do worse than blowing your bucks on this.

A quick HIGH FIVE

1) LOVE – Forever Changes CD

Beloved by everyone and their dog, you don’t need me to tell you anything about this. I saw Arthur Lee and the gang here when they visited our shores early last year and it would undoubtedly rank as one of the finest live shows I’ve ever laid witness too. Like Ralph Malph, he’s still got it. However, I don’t know how anyone else originally felt about Forever Changes when they first heard it, but for me, well, I’ll be honest: I thought it stunk. Of course I was young and stupid, but when I first heard this about 7 years ago at a friend’s place (on my insistence), all I could hear were strings, a sappy vocalist, acoustic guitars and mariachi horns. And lots of songs which seemed to trail off into meandering directions, never following a standard verse/chorus set-up. Now you can take all those derogatory descriptions I just threw at them, turn them around and use them as a complement instead. Nifty or what?

2) THE CONTORTIONS – Buy LP
Snow-white funk/jazz/punk by and for obnoxious NYC art-fag upstarts. Again, that’s both an insult and a complement, but I like this nevertheless. Most No Wave does not budge me an inch, though this, at the best of times, moves me a mile.

3) 13TH FLOOR ELEVATORS – Easter Everywhere CD
I seem to be on a bit of a Roky trip of late, for no other reason than he is a perennial fave who gets the dust-off every 6 months. No reappraisal is necessary here: for myself this remains one of the half-dozen best rock albums released in the ‘60s and the high watermark for American psychedelia any time. Funnily enough, my favourite song here is not sung by Roky: it’s “Nobody to Love” with Stacy Sutherland on vocals. The fuzzed, ascending/descending guitar line, which runs the length of the whole song and never stops, is the key here: it is a Great Rock Riff we should all bow to. Not a dud to be seen, and the version of “Baby Blue” brings a tear to the eye and beats Dylan’s original by a mile. An embarrassing confession: I smoked a big joint early last Saturday evening and put this CD on to measure its pot-album potential. Halfway through “Nobody to Love” I think I saw God and he looked like Roky. True story.

4) THE SOFT BOYS – Invisible Hits LP
A friend gave me this a few weeks back, generous gent that he is. It’s a compilation from 1983 which puts together a whole bunch of early (‘78/’79) material from the band on one, excellent disc. A musical anomaly at the time, the Soft Boys make more and more sense as the years go by. If I’d seen them as, say, an 18-year-old back in ’79, I probably would’ve bottled them and cursed their name to anyone within earshot. After all, what the fuck do Steeleye Span, Fairport Convention, Syd Barrett, Captain Beefheart and the Kinks have to do with punk rock? Well, case by case, some have a whole lot and some very little, but that’s not the point. The Soft Boys created a brilliant, very English punk/new wave take on late ‘60s Brit psychedelic pop, stewed it up with the demented rhythms of the good Captain and did good. Contrary to popular belief, I enjoy a solid pop tune just as much as the next guy, and the Soft Boys straddled that line between straight pop and more expansive, psychedelic ambitions perfectly. The two highpoints here are the rambling choogle of “Wey-Wey-Hep-Uh-Hole”, which sounds like a lost track from Clear Spot, and the instrumental medley of “The Asking Tree/Muriel’s Hoof/The Rout Of the Clones”, a multi-faceted epic romp that sounds like it was zapped straight out of ’67 London, part Piper At the Gates of Dawn and part Liege & Leaf. The rest ain’t bad either.

5) BURZUM – Filosofem CD
…and now for something completely different. What you may need to enjoy this album, is to throw any context it exists in out the window. Like, forget about the murders, the church burnings, the corpsepaint, the dodgy politics and the general idiocy that is Norwegian Black Metal. I say this because I can’t imagine any fan of, say, Flipper, Drunks With Guns, Boredoms, early Royal Trux, Damaged-era ‘Flag or Solger not liking this album purely on its musical merits. It's lo-fi hate-rock of the highest calibre. If that’s what it takes to enjoy this disc, then so be it. For me, I think context is half the matter which makes it more enjoyable. Not that I think killing your friends over petty matters and scene politics is a laudable act, but if this was made by a group of NY art-school scenesters and not a lone nut who currently rots away in a Norwegian prison cell, it probably wouldn’t have the same visceral impact. But why would I – or you – even want to enter the headspace of such a guy? Does it make for enjoyable listening? In a word: YES! Don’t ask me why. I figure the music of Burzum is on the same level as a good horror flick: it’s a scary place to be, but it’s nice to visit every once in a while.