Saturday, February 26, 2011

Now that Jim over at The Houndblog seems to be on a bit of a semi-permanent vacation, I'm getting a lot of my musical education from Mr. Boogiewoody over at Bebop Wine Done Gone blog. Although less verbose than the Hound, his site gives you the lowdown on the best rock & roll, R & B, jump blues, etc. from yesteryear in a totally non-condescending and informative manner, posting cover art, a bio, tracks, clips and even downloads of old LPs not available anymore (and he's a rare example of a music blogger w/ a moral streak: he never posts from in-print material, preferring his readers to actually pay for this stuff. Who'da thunk?). I guess it's a part of my personality make-up which leads me to these obsessions: at one point in my life it was first-wave US hardcore, another time it was krautrock, and at other times it's been SST, ESP, FMP and other three-initial labels, but currently it's my desire to hear and know all about the great pre-rock & roll blues-derived music which has taken hold of me. If you think I'm going off on a tangent here, keep in mind that this blog is nothing but that: tangents. Above are a few songs and clips which may convince the doubtful. If those tunes leave you cold, you'd better check yourself for a pulse.

Monday, February 21, 2011

FLYING LIZARDS - 2CD (Cherry Red/2010)
I'm late for the party, but it's a good one. This CD and the contents within are about a million miles from most of the music which has been invading my head space the last 12 months, and if I'm feeling in a particularly uncharitable mood I might even be prone to dismiss it as a load of bloodless art-school nonsense which bears little resemblance to music I would consider "good", but today I'm feeling charitable. More than that, mood swings aside, the Flying Lizards were a pretty unique proposition as a "band" and left behind a swag of occasionally brilliant music which holds up well 30 years down the line.
If you're of a certain age, you likely remember the band's big mainstream hit from 1979, an eccentric, avant-pop take on Berry Gordy's "Money". What was originally recorded as somewhat of a prank became a surprise international hit for both the band and Virgin Records, and they were soon put in the studio to record a full album to capitalise on said hit. But we're getting ahead of ourselves here...
The brainchild of the Flying Lizards is David Cunningham. Born in Ireland in 1953, he moved to London in the early '70s to study music w/ the hopes of making a career as an experimental musician. Falling in w/ a motley crew of avant musos of the day (folks like Steve Beresford and This Heat's Charles Hayward, Michael Nyman and the perennial David Toop), he released a solo LP in 1976 called Grey Scale on his own Piano imprint. When punk hit proper for all to see in 1977, he saw the floodgates and music's possibilities open considerably. He recorded a totally deconstructed minimalist/dub version of "Summertime Blues" with Deborah Evans on vocals at the time and shopped it around. Virgin bit and the single was released in 1978. It didn't do a whole lot of business, though the follow-up, "Money", did. Virgin wanted an album and they got it, though possibly not the album they expected.
The Flying Lizards peaked in the UK at # 60 and received mixed reviews, an understandable reaction, as it's an album not fit for all musical appetites and one which, despite the backing of Virgin and a Top 10 hit in its grooves, doesn't really belong in the pop world. Strip the label logo from its sleeve and listened to w/out any surrounding context giving you hints and you'd swear this LP was released on Rough Trade or a similar imprint at the time. The Flying Lizards was Cunningham and anyone else he pleased. So for "their" debut he not only roped in Toop and Beresford to help out on instrumentation, but also journalist Vivienne Goldman and the likes of Bruce Smith (The Pop Group; Cunningham recorded their demos) and Charles Hayward of This Heat, a band he was producing at the time (and a band I really should write about one of these days, since they were a unit who tore the roof off my brain back in the '90s).
All this is rather fitting, as musically the debut is very much caught in a musical nexus of '79-period Rough Trade agit-rock (think Raincoats/Red Krayola/Scritti Politti anti-rock & roll), the aggro white funk of The Pop Group and rampant, anything-goes experimentalism of This Heat. In 1978, Cunningham listed his influences as "Surfaris, Talking Heads, Jonathon King, 10CC, LaMonte Young, Alternative TV, pornography, XTC, Dadaism, Siouxsie & the Banshees, video, John Cage and Joe Meek", a list which speaks volumes of where is head was at - mixing up the avant-garde with punk rock and surreal pop music - and one which was similarly a sign of the times (something tells me you wouldn't get away w/ noting "video" as being an influence in the year 2011). But all this is trainspotting. What you do need to know is that the debut is a fine thing to behold, and to hear. Critics at the time thought Cunningham's bubble had been burst, that the fluke single, viewed as a novelty hit, couldn't possibly see the "band" release a cohesive long-player when the band really didn't even exist. You could say that's partly true, in the sense that Flying Lizards isn't ten songs which resemble "Money", but also you could say that "Money" was the anomaly in Cunningham's catalogue, the rest of his output being much more representative of the music he wished to make, for the rest of the LP is hardly song-based at all. It's mainly made up of repetitive drum beats, both electric and acoustic, atmospheric electronics and occasional forays into actual song. Track # 2, "Her Story", most definitely sounds like it coulda been lifted off of The Pop Group's For How Much Longer... LP, or This Heat's debut: fitting, considering members of both bands play on it. On this CD reissue, you also get a few different versions of "Summertime Blues" and "Money", and by the third time you've heard either you'll likely want to press "eject", but that's okay as it means you can then stick disc 2 in.
On that silver platter, you'll find the Flying Lizards' 2nd LP, Fourth Wall, originally released in 1981. For some unknown reason, Virgin figured there to be still a remaining pulse of commercial shelf life in Cunningham's project and gave him the go-ahead to record another disc. The reception of the long-player was even more muted than that of the first album, though it has subsequently, as w/ all Flying Lizards product, become a cult item for admirers of pop music's oddballs. The "novelty" cover this time around is a version of Curtis Mayfield's "Move On Up" (a version which sounds like a studio toss-off, at best), a single which sunk w/out a trace at the time, though Cunningham dragged in a load of famous and infamous friends to help him out: Robert Fripp (his guitar tone instantly recognisable, w/ that thick, dense sound he mastered on discs like No Pussyfooting and Here Come The Warm Jets), Snatch's Patti Palladin, The Pop Group's Gareth Sager, Michael Nyman, etc. The end result is something even more abstract than the debut, being largely electronic sketches than fully-formed "songs", but something those w/ an open pair of ears will find most palatable.
Cunningham continued the name for a few more years, even releasing an LP of covers on the Statik label in 1984, but mostly since then he's stuck to producing and collaborations w/ all manner of avant-gardists. Much like his pals in This Heat, the project known as Flying Lizards were a strange mix of old-school and new-school players and sounds: ostensibly it's viewed as music belonging to a "post-punk" universe, though Cunningham's musical roots predate that world by a few years; they're also, more or less, seen as a band operating within the world of rock & roll, yet as w/ This Heat, Toop, Beresford, etc., Cunningham appeared to be a foreign traveller mixing in the world of populist music almost by accident. Regardless, the music he made under the name Flying Lizards is certainly worth an earload. Anyone whose output can, track by track, traverse a world of sounds which has me thinking of Joe Meek-style novelty-pop one minute, then spikey Brit post-punk the next, whilst in between venturing through improv, krautrock, No Wave, minimalism and beyond has to be doing something right. Nice package here, too - lotsa photos and extensive liner notes from Cherry Red - making it quite the deal. Discover or re-discover: whatever your choosing.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

I have no idea when this clip was taken - mid to late '80s, I presume - but that's not relevant. What is relevant is that it will likely blow your socks clear off. Brotzmann, Sharrock, Jackson and Laswell tear it up like no other quartet on earth. I was under the impression that my lust for "musical intensity" had dissipated to zip the last couple of years, but perhaps it just misses the visceral experience of a truly intense musical entity. This has given me my fix. It's good, real good.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

You'll have to excuse my absence of late. In what little spare time I have, the last week or two it's been dedicated to watching DVDs and reading books: not sitting in front of this recently-aquired MacBook and contributing to this blog w/ heart-stopping tales of musical ephemera. My guilty conscience has gotten the better of me, and so it's time for me to say something about something...
That record above, you probably know about it. I'm willing to bet that a certain, sizeable percentage of readers are wincing just thinking about it. The Dead Kennedys are/were a band who divide people into strictly pro- and anti- camps. I can handle that. For myself, they were, along w/ the Sex Pistols, the band who ruined any chances I held in my younger days of being a normal human being. Their ability in warping young peoples' minds was quite exceptional. When I listen to some of their records these days - a mighty rare occasion, and one I just did for the sake of this blog entry - they do somewhat strike me as purveyors of juvenile rebellion, a band custom-made for disgruntled suburban teens... but really, isn't that the case w/ most great rock & roll? What makes the DKs different? The lecturing, the political didactics, the smug pomposity of the frontman? Yes to all three, I suppose, but I guess that when a band hits your adolescent mind like a bomb, forever changing its circuitry, you can forgive that kind of crap 25 years down the line.
The subject of discussion is Plastic Surgery Disasters, their sophomore full-lengther, originally released in 1982 at the height of the US HC (man, I just love saying "US HC"!) explosion. As w/ their debut, it made a major splash in Europe and Down Under (the band charted here - like charted - a few times back in their early years), and probably sold a respectable amount of copies in their home country, I'm willing to bet. After all, the band were a big deal, one of the big-league hardcore outfits and one of the few to make a serious dent in suburban America. And that's possibly another reason to dislike them: perhaps you'd call them mall-punk. But that criticism says more about the critic than the music, and that's one point which is either lost or ignored by most critics of the band: just how good their music could be. Rad politics aside, Plastic Surgery Disasters is a really excellent and musical record w/ a wide variety of sounds clogging its grooves.
Biafra at the time claimed they were delving heavily into a new, psychedelic sound, and whilst some folks would say that the band was about as "psychedelic" as Sonny & Cher, I'd say the description isn't that far off. East Bay Ray's guitar work was never better, avoiding thrash/barre chords in favour of a massively echoed surf twang (his guitar work was always good, the only lacklustre outing being on the generic thrash of Bedtime For Democracy); Klaus Flouride was absolutely one of the most inventive, lyrical and expressive bass players of the era; and D.H. Peligro similarly knew about dynamics and went to accent certain parts of a song, giving the tunes a tension/release set-up which defines the best rock music. Sounds like I'm gushing, correct? You would be correct. Whatever embarrassments followed the various members throughout their subsequent careers, this is a disc to stand by well into adulthood.
As a single entity - a collection of songs making up something larger than the sum of its parts - it's a remarkable achievement. More than that, it strikes me as a definitive statement. Much like another classic statement of punk rock juvenilia, the Circle Jerks' Group Sex LP from 1980, PSD attacks every facet of square society and does it so relentlessly and effectively that the results are jarring. Well, shit... they were, and still kind of are now. Back when I first discovered and bought this album as a 14-year-old, I used to read the lyric sheet (actually a large, 20-page booklet w/ lots of Winston Smith collages) nightly, devouring its contents voraciously as if it were a sacred text. Embarrassing stuff, perhaps, but you'll have to forgive me for what happened 25 years ago, and failing that, I'd probably just have to tell you to go fuck yourself.
There's a bunch of great songs just on side one: "Well Paid Scientist" (probably the best flat-out hardcore song they wrote), "Government Flu", "Buzzbomb", "Forest Fire", "Winnebago Warrior" and "Halloween", the last being the highlight, both musically and lyrically (one of the best aspects of their early work was their equal disgust w/ both conservatives and liberals). The A side goes mainly for the short/fast/loud side of things, cramming in nine songs (if you include the introduction) in a relatively brief period, the songs twisting and turning and stopping and starting w/ aplomb, aided and abetted by the band's superioir musicianship; the B side having only five, longer tracks which stretch things out a bit and get more interesting, too. Best of the lot is "Bleed For me", also released as a single at the time, a number which starts w/ a relentless, aggressive four-to-the-floor beat after a creepy intro and then explodes into a truly ripping punk rock tune w/ Jello's growls (none of that warbling, thanks) tearing the song up. The song flat-out nails it. After that is a vaguely funky, mid-tempo tale of paranoia, "I Am The Owl", and two other, more "rock" oriented tracks to close it out, "Dead End" (a rare song from the band which actually appears to not be about politics, but instead about friends deceased) and "Moon Over Marin", another surf-damaged number (East Bay Ray had cut his teeth for years "on the circuit" playing in surf bands before the band formed in 1978; he and Klaus Flouride both being a good decade older than Biafra) which is probably the album's poppiest.
I was a big fan of "political" music (ie. - rad/leftist/fuck-society lyrical concerns) as a teen and into my early 20s, though my enthusiasm to hear what a musician thinks of the state of the world's political problems has decreased considerably over the years. It's not because I've become more conservative or apathetic, it's just because I couldn't give a fuck what someone whose prime "profession" or mode of expression is music thinks about political matters. To me it's simply not where I go to look for political commentary. And that's probably why I listen to Black Flag a whole lot more than I do the Dead Kennedys: their "politics" were primarily personal. But most of all, I listen to music because of one thing, the music. Dead Kennedys made a bunch of it, and the vast majority of it still sounds good to me. If you wanna debate me, I ain't going anywhere.
The band known as the Dead Kennedys tour here this April, for the first time since 1983. I was way too young to see them then, and though I definitely wasn't into punk rock as an 11-year-old (I was a New Romantic tragic. Suck on that one), I was aware of the band being in the country. It was a big deal at the time, the news even filtering through to a clueless spud like myself. This time they're playing without both Jello and Klaus (apparently he doesn't tour w/ them anymore), making the current band the biggest mockery of a supposed rock group this side of INXS. I won't be there to witness it, and frankly can't imagine why on earth anyone would want to.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Here's a preview of a new documentary coming out sometime soon: Dave Travis' A HISTORY LESSON PART 1. Travis followed the likes of the Minutemen, Meat Puppets, Twisted Roots and Redd Kross around LA w/ a camera back in 1984, scouting the dawn (or boom) of "psychedelic punk", as he puts it, and it's finally been put together as a feature-length film. Dave Travis is a compadre of Dave Markey and a long-time SST associate (he worked on Black Flag's "Slip It In" clip and Markey's 1991: The Year Punk Broke); his sister also happens to be Abby Travis, who's played in a zillion combos, even singing in Waterways with Ten East/Yawning Man's Gary Arce (a band whose sole album recording I happen to actually "own" - I paid for the damn thing! - but for various reasons will likely never see the light of day as a proper release). But all that's probably not too important right now. What is important is that this particular niche of west coast underground rock is finally and belatedly getting its due on celluloid. Well, I guess it has before, too, but I'm happy to see it documented once more. This is something to look out for...

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

I done did it: the Niche Homo cassette is done, cover completed, too (c/o Andrew Lang). See the post below if you're not clued in to what I'm talking about. I gave the comp' little thought - I just grabbed a pile of CDs and LPs sitting next to the stereo and made the tape from those selections - and I ripped out these brief descriptions, first take, with similarly little thought. You can spend a lifetime on this umming and aahing about choices or simply get it out of the way, pronto. The results are often the same. Some of this stuff repeats what I've said before on this blog. Read it and weep...

Elmore James - Hawaiian Boogie
Hard-arsed, shambolic and truly rockin' rhythm & blues from Elmore, ca. the early 1950s. The guitar work on this really does remind me of Keiji Haino w/ its shards of wild notes flying in all manner of directions. That's weird that I should say that. I don't even like Haino's music, nor have I listened to any of it for years, but this track still reminds me of him in places, which I guess means that all his hoo-ha about him ultimately being a "blues" guitarist might hold some water. Call this what you will, it still sounds more rock & roll than anything Elvis ever recorded.

John Martyn - Spencer the Rover
Possibly my fave Martyn track, though that's a hard one to pick. He wrote so many great originals that perhaps I shouldn't have chosen him covering a traditional tune to demonstrate his awesomeness... but I have. I'm thinking that if you don't get a sense of the despairing soul of the artist from this number, then you've got shit in your ears. I don't have much else to say about this.

Jimmy Reed - High and Lonesome
A killer Jimmy Reed track, and also possibly his "heaviest". Reed had a pretty light and breezy style, and one which is dead-easy to superficially copy. Not much fancy stuff on display, his schtick was a basic boogie-blues shuffle w/ few embellishments, a modus operandi copied by just about every bad-teethed limey w/ a guitar back in the '60s. Do I have anything else to add? Not really, but perhaps you will.

Eliza Randazzo - Circles
If you told the average collector-putz that this track was from a rare singer-songwriter record from the early '70s on Elektra, featuring David Crosby and Neil Young on guitars, written and performed by a short-lived fruitcake who bombed in the marketplace, lost her mind and died soon thereafter in a gutter w/ a needle in her arm, they'd be hoping to place a winning bid on an original LP copy on ebay and willing to skip a month's regular diet to get that imaginary record. Never fear, the album this comes from is alive and well today and regularly available on various formats for the plebs to consume. That's a good thing. It doesn't sound contemporary, which is perhaps why I like it. Randazzo is a music veteran, having played for years w/ the likes of The Red Krayola, though this track is from her debut solo album, Butterflies and Bruises, which came out last year on the Drag City label. It disappeared w/ nary a trace. It was my favourite record of 2010, and helped renew some sense of faith in contemporary music. This record moves me, and this track moves me the most. Deal with it. You guys will possibly think it's lame.

Bad Brains - Banned In DC
Here's a band who understood dynamics. When that opening drum roll explodes into a lightning-paced polka beat and HR screams out whatever he does, it makes me want to punch a hole in the wall. Failing that, it makes me punch the air. Richard Meltzer said a great thing in that Minutemen doco which came out some time last decade, so I'll paraphrase it: when you're growing up, good rock & roll was like an antidote to all the world's assholes; it was like the players of said music were the good guys and they were on your side. Somewhere along the line, the assholes took over, and suddenly assholes were the ones dominating music, singing songs for other assholes. The good guys were shut out. Punk rock hoped to rectify that situation. I think I've just totally misquoted him, and that whole argument is probably a bit archaic and quaint in this day and age anyway. The internet has levelled the playing field so drastically that the whole idea of a monoculture being enforced on youth doesn't hold nearly as much water as it used to. Am I rambling? Bad Brains are the good guys, even if HR is, from all reports, a flaming asshole.

Pell Mell - Nothing Lies Still Long
The is the opening track from Pell Mell's 1995 album on Geffen, Interstate. Do you guys remember the great major-label feeding freenzy of the early/mid '90s? You're probably too young. It was a truly bizarre moment in music history. Suddenly all these bands who previously could barely get arrested were having six-figure cheques thrown at them by A & R schleps in the hopes of them becoming The Next Big Thing. Someone actually thought that Tad and Royal Trux fitted the bill. Pell Mell released this record on Geffen because the label's A & R guy, Ray Farrell, who had signed Sonic Youth and Nirvana to the label and made 'em a mint, liked 'em a whole lot and had in fact been their manager back in the '80s. Is this interesting to you? Probably not. This minutae thrills me, sad as that may seem. Pell Mell are one of the great unsung American bands of the last 30 years; they're certainly the most expressive and lyrical of instrumental outfits. Every track takes a basic motif or riff and slowly develops and embelishes it during the song's lifespan, adding layer upon layer. It's not about solos, but every instrument working in perfect harmony with the others. I managed to say all of that without even mentioning SST.

Amos Milburn - Chicken Shack Boogie
One of Amos' big hits, if not his biggest. Throughout the late '40s/early '50s, LA-based boogie-woogie pianist Amos Milburn had a shitload of 'em, most of them about boozing & broads, and then his star was dimmed by the onslaught of rock & roll "proper", a genre he helped create. That's an injustice, but the world's full of 'em. He died broke and bitter like so many do. Think of that next time your shitty noise band can't get a gig: he had over two-dozen genuine hits, yet was probably hoodwinked into signing a contract so rotten that he never saw a cent from any of it. Not only that, but his music, now 60+ years old, is the sound which moves mountains. "Chicken Shack Boogie" is a change of pace for Amos: it's a fast & furious rocker, whereas most of his music has a boozy, mid-tempo groove. Actually, a lot of his hits are merely the same basic riff repeated w/ different lyrics, a shuffling groove w/ him singing about getting wasted over the top. He might've been a one-trick pony, but it was a hell of a trick. Being one-dimensional didn't hurt Slayer, AC/DC, Motorhead or the Ramones one bit.

William Parker - El Puente Seco
An unusual track from Mr. Parker. It's from an album of his which sees him teaming up w/ some African musicians doing something which sounds like it could be lifted off one of the Ethiopiques records. Always keep 'em guessing. This track's a faux-Latino one, hence the name, and it's pretty repetitive and possibly one-dimensional, though it's a dimension I don't mind being stuck in. I've got about 50 albums w/ Parker's name on 'em, about 20 as leader. 90% of them are unreal. An awesome strike rate for the best "jazz" muso alive today. I met him once - I like saying that - and he was a complete jerk. I jest. He was lovely, couldn't believe a dumbfuck Australian had even heard of him, let alone owned a bunch of his records.

Brian Eno - Always Returning
The best Eno track of them all, from my fave Eno album of them all, 1983's Apollo. The only other Eno song which rivals this as a fave is "Needle In A Camel's Eye", but that's rock & roll. This song isn't. Space-rock minus the rock w/ a muzak/Satie piano melody taking the rein, mixed up w/ strange electronic effects. Light a bowl, play it loud. That's livin'.

Joe Houston - All Night Long
Joe Houston was one of the big honkers & screamers of the late '40s/early '5s R & B scene, a man who blew his tenor sax as if he was possessed. He gets a gravelly, occasionally shaky tone on his horn which often has me thinking of Ayler. A lot of the '50s/'60s free-jazz pioneers got their start playing in R & B combos (such as Coltrane and Ornette), and I'm willing to bet that Ayler heard some Houston in his time. This is a party song par excellence, and one which requires little explanation.

Die Kreuzen - Halloween
This is a CD-only bonus track from the band's 1988 meisterwerk, Century Days. I bought the album in 1990 at the age of 18 and was pretty soon convinced that I'd just heard one of my favourite ever records. 21 years later, I stand by that claim. I wrote to them and told them as such soon thereafter. Their bassist, Keith Brammer, wrote back and told me I wasn't an idiot. I needed that. A lot of folks only like their debut, which is short/fast/loud hardcore punk, dismissing their later forays into arty post-punk heavy metal. Whatever. I've wasted enough time in my life defending this band. By this stage you either dig it or you don't. This is their version of the theme song from John Carpenter's Halloween, a great film w/ an equally great soundtrack. Die Kreuzen do it justice and then some.

Meat Puppets - Like Being Alive
The last track from their 1989 LP, Monsters. I know a lot of people don't like this album much, and it's a good thing I couldn't give a shit what a lot of people think. I bought it the day it came out: I was THAT kind of eager beaver. I never even found out until many years later that Derrick Bostrom used a goddamn DRUM MACHINE on this record; I always just thought the production was super-slick and Bostrom was a stop-on-a-dime skinsman. Monsters is mostly made up of anthemic psychedelic heavy metal, though this track sees the record out on a more downbeat note, slightly countrified like it coulda been ripped from II or an early '70s Neil Young disc. Great stuff.

John Zorn - Little Bitterns
A few of my music-dork pals think John Zorn isn't worth the time of day, dismissing him as an overly prolific purveyor of cartoonish clown-metal who displays poor taste in who he chooses to associate with. Two words to say: either GET FUCKED! or LISTEN UP! Zorn releases a shiteload of music on a yearly basis - the last few years have been particularly prolific - and it's 80% good-to-great-to-unreal. That's a strike rate better than your band, and Zorn has the balls and/or stupidity to release it all. His cottage-industry label Tzadik is all about documentation, something lost in this world of MP3s and blogs, and I'm hoping he can keep on doing it. I've got more of his albums than I care to count right now, though I can say that the last couple of years, or maybe even 4-5 years, have been his best yet. Musically, it's all over the map, and this track's a good example of it. It's a drone-y surf/blues number w/ Marc Ribot cutting it on the strings, sounding like the musical nexus of Ry Cooder, Pell Mell and the Meat Puppets.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

A quick plug from moi... the other night I had an old friend over for dinner. He's been living in the UK for the last four years, more or less, and has come back for a few months to tie up some family business. He's my vintage and similarly has been through the wringer in regards to working like a schlep in "the biz" over the years in many guises: writing, performing, retail, label, etc. By halfway through the evening, one of intense verbal diarhhea, we were both grumbling like a couple of old grouches about The Kids. "I've only noticed this lately, but for the first time in my life, I now sense a generation gap", he said. "I couldn't give a fuck about what the youngsters are doing musically these days, it's just a rehash of better things from years past. It just doesn't interest me". I concurred and sipped my Portello in agreement. And that grouchiness takes hold of me 90% of my waking life, but occassionally the mask slips and I can accept the fact that these young folks we shake our canes at - the good ones - are merely younger versions of ourselves.
Take the UK fanzine by the name of Niche Homo, for example. It's written and published by two young gents from Leeds by the names of Nick Bannerman and Nick Jones. There's interviews, reviews, rants and more, mostly covering the contemporary underground, often veterans still active, and the latest issue, # 4, is 80 A5 pages of good toilet reading. I've even perused its wares whilst off the shitter: a compliment paid. The latest ish has some excellent interviews w/ the likes of contempo hepsters Thee Oh-Sees and the Sic Alps (two bands I'm yet to even properly hear), both of which I read all the way through, despite my lack of knowledge (and possibly interest) for their sounds, as well as indepth interviews w/ veterans/old geezers, The Homosexuals and Ramleh (both well worth reading, especially since, in a former life, I was quite a fan of both). There's no real record reviews, but a rundown on what albums to listen to at what time of the day (which range from the Dead C. to Slayer to Ella & Louis) and an extended rant on the joys of record collecting (including dawn-of-the-'90s Sub Pop singles... sheesh, if you were there, you'd be aware of the fact that it wasn't that exciting back then...) by some young guy who'll no doubt regret penning the piece in years to come. In each issue there's also a "Mix Tape War" which involves three music-nerd putzes - usually involving the editors - taping 45 minutes worth of sonics by whomever they please and then getting the others to comment on their choices. I've done this before w/ friends, and whilst it may be diagnosed by medical professionals as a distinct sign of social retardation, I can also say that it is, or at least often can be, a great deal of fun. When Nick Bannerman recently asked me if I'd do a "session" for inclusion in # 5, my immediate reaction was that I was too old for this shit - after all, I haven't made a mix tape for anyone in over 15 years - and then again I softened up and realised it'd be a lark, a neat little project and it'd keep me off the streets for a few evenings. And let's face it, the offer flattered my monstrous ego. On top of that, I'm happy to help them out.
God knows who the fuck could be bothered printing a real bricks 'n' mortar fanzine in this digital age, and I know, too: two insatiable music dorks by the names of Nick Bannerman and Nick Jones. Glad to know 'em. Their youthful enthusiasm, zest for all things obscure and relentless obnoxiousness reminds me of myself from a certain day and age, and I know that I pissed off a whole lot of old geezers w/ my similar rants.
I have made my cassette w/ contributions by the likes of Die Kreuzen, Elmore James, Meat Puppets, William Parker, Amos Milburn, Bad Brains, Pell Mell, etc. The judges await in the UK. In the meantime, I have two 45-minute sides of a tape, featuring everything from Dead Moon, Henry Flynt, Sun City Girls and Hendrix to the Velvets, Flying Fuckin' A-Heads, Lightnin' Hopkins and more. Time for me to do some writing and listening.