Tuesday, March 28, 2006
Here's some other shit I'll fly through...
DC3 - Vida CD (SST/1988)
The giveaway sign that a band ain't too hot is when the only listenable songs on their album wind up being cover versions. Apply that rule here. DC3 was Dez Cadena's post-'Flag outfit and released a slew of entirely unlistenable LPs throughout the '80s. My brother won the LP version of this in '89 as a giveaway at 3PBS (along w/ LPs by SWA and Run Westy Run: true story!) and, prior to recently "winning" a copy of this on eBay for, oh, I don't know, I think it was $1.50, I hadn't heard it for a decade. Let's make it simple: if you absolutely MUST buy one DC3 album in this lifetime, make it this one. It has three songs you need, and all are covers. They are: Groucho Marx's(!!) "Your Mother", John Lee Hooker's "Bang Bang, Bang Bang", and last but certainly not least, their scorching rendition of Hawkwind's "Psy Power", worth it (note: that's $1.50) for the last track alone. The rest I could live without, easy. DC3 were constantly compared to Mountain and/or Deep Purple and, frankly, I see no comparison. If they simply pulled off a second-rate '70s stoner-rock appreciation, I wouldn't complain... but what did DC3 sound like? Covers aside, I can think of no-one else they bring to mind. BAD ROCK was their thing. Dull, off-kilter vocals (Dez was a killer screamer, but as a singer...), swooshing keyboards which, at their best have an Eno/Dik Mik vibe and, at their worst (which is often), are caught somewhere twixt Wakeman and Emerson, and some of the most uninspired songwriting this side of a Foghat LP. I guess you could say my ownership of this CD = too much time, too much money.
UNKNOWN INSTRUCTORS - The Way Things Work CD (Smog Veil/2005)
I was a little slow off the mark w/ this one: a contemporary SST "supergroup" featuring a bunch of folks you may actually care about. Their names are Mike Watt, Joe Baiza, George Hurley and Jack Brewer. That is, 2/3 of the Minutemen and 1/2 of Saccharine Trust. It's "jam-time" all over again, though let it be said, this is no October Faction or Minuteflag (both of which... gulp... aren't that bad, and you know that if anyone in the year 2006 is going to attempt a reappraisal of such maligned discs, it'll be me. One day). The UI keep it tight, jazzy, funky and I dig this a whole lot. Best of all they sound angry for a bunch of old geezers and even reprise an old Minutemen track ("Punk Is Whatever You Made It To Be") to decent effect. Whack it on after blasting Saccharine Trust's "improv" disc from '85, Worldbroken, and you've got two worthy discs mining a very similar vein. It didn't change my life, and I never expected it to, though here's hoping the CD they're recording right now - with Pere Ubu's Dave Thomas on vocals - will make a bigger impact.
THE CLEAN - Anthology 2CD (Merge/2003)
I had a major boner for many things NZ back in the '90s, though somehow these guys passed me by. Let's travel back to the glory days... Alastair Galbraith, This Kind Of Punishment (and all their spin-offs), Dead C., Terminals, Dadamah, even the Gordons and Bailter Space (esp. Tanker). They've stood the test of time and then some. Truth be told, I haven't listened to anything these people might be up to since about 1998, nor have I kept up w/ anything NZ at all since then, though maybe I need some catching up. In the meantime, The Clean are doing me just fine. With Hamish and David Kilgour at the helm, I'm well aware of the fact that these chaps are held in my high esteem by many yanks, and after flogging this the last few days, I may as well join the chorus. Without the way-out experimental leanings of the Xpressway crew (though there's some very fine Kraut-grooves throughout) nor the occasionally annoying Angloid fixation of some of their other brethren, The Clean were clearly the most outright VU-obsessed of the litter. I've foolishly left both CDs out of arm's reach right now (one in the car stereo, one in the work computer), though I can clearly recall one track plainly ripping off the riff to "What Goes On" and another steals from the Stooges (first album), though being New Zealanders, I can forgive them. Sure beats making a career out of ripping off Joy Division (and as much as I love JD...) and lends the band some grit when things are getting awfully pleasant. Just when you think the well has run dry, you go and discover - yet again - your new favourite band for the next fortnight.
LOU REED - Metal Machine 2LP (RCA/1975)
I've been giving Berlin and Blue Mask a whipping of late. Don't ask me why, the urge just hit me. Lou is just such a fucking clown - a plainly ridiculous human being and a web of contradictions, genius, wasted talent and awful/lukewarm/brilliant musical outings - you gotta love him. I bought this at the Camberwell market about 12 years back for, if memory serves, $2. The stall was run by an old lady who was selling this, the Shaggs and a bunch of Can LPs... all for $2 each. Who could pass up on such an offer? She was either a junkie or selling off the goods of a recently departed hip offspring. I'd vouch for the latter and was only too willing to help her out in her time of need. I have never listened to MMM all the way through, and I say that as a man who stills owns over half-a-dozen Merzbow CDs. Even Lou himself has stated that anyone who does is an asshole. Hell, even Lou himself has stated he's never listened to the whole thing in its entirety, and he is an asshole. But it's a nice thing to have, if only for those self-aggrandizing liner notes and the fact that a thousand squares demanded their money back after purchase, expecting a re-run of Sally Can't Dance (or some other piece of horseshit Lou was foisting onto the public at the time). Best line: "My week beats your year".
Two stories about MMM: about 5 years back, when I was working for a CD chain, I requested to my straight manager (his favourite artist of all time? Chris Rea) that the store carry MMM as a stock item. He patronisingly told me it was the worst record of all time and set me a challenge: he would order it, but if it sat there for more than a month, I'd have to buy it. We shook hands and agreed. It sold within a week. Given the unbelievably square area the store was situated in, that is nothing short of a miracle.
Back in the mid/late '90s I had a very embarrassing habit: I would collect Top 10 lists from my friends. Yeah, as in Top 10 Albums Of All Time. I still have them sitting in a file here, ready for the bribe money to flow in one day. It's an odd assortment. There's a couple of low-rent celebrities in there (Neil Hamburger, Jad Fair, Jason Willett... by the way, try to guess who has both the Beach Boys and 2Pac in their respective list), though they're mostly from friends of mine you, dear reader, don't know of (except for the ones who actually read this thing and remember me pathetically badgering them for a list 10 years back). One is Dr. Jim's. Nice chap, good friend, lover of fine music. Amongst his oh-so-predictable sundry list of recordings by the likes of Neu!, Stooges and The Fall, lies MMM. He really does like it - as a piece of music - and despite what Brother Lou says, Dr. Jim is not an asshole. I once dropped by his place - uninvited - and he was pottering around the house w/ the goddamn thing blaring away like he actually enjoyed the thing. Another miracle.
And when I get a minute I will try to cover some stuff by Archbishop Kebab, Leviathan, Siouxsie and the Banshees(!), The Ex, Redd Kross, Patti Smith, Grant Hart, Nurse With Wound and some other shit...