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Box #57

23 Jan

Used to be, you couldn’t keep me away from this blog for too long, but now I don’t seem to even check in to say hi. So hello again, and howya doing, me I’m fine thanks. The excuse I’ll offer up is I’ve recently gone through a major relocation (from London to North Yorkshire) and still haven’t really got my feet firmly planted on the ground, nor got my proverbial shit together. But while unpacking some left over boxes recently, the following oddball selection of records slid into my sweaty little hands. And I thought oh, what the hell. So here I am again, PS Reconizing again.

One of these days I’ll get my life in order, and this blog will again, as the song goes, cut you into little pieces. You just wait.

1. NICK TOSCHES AND HOMER HENDERSONSweet Thighs Of Mother Mary” (7″ 45, Chaldea, 1998) Sure Nick Tosches has an ego the size of a NY city block, but he’s also given the world a great run of cutting novels/bios and deep-reaching music texts that stand with some of the best toughass lit to come out of late 20th Century America. Homer, well, he’s another kettle of fish entirely: a sort of Emmett Miller of the post-Roky Erickson TX generation, producing songs that lurk in the liquor store parking lots of our collective imaginations, utilizing all appendages (head, hands, feet, liver) to their fullest potential. But damn does Homer’s drawl suit the twisted religious visions Nick’s lyrics dredge up here, as he conjures up a lo-fi musical accompaniment that is as beautifully crafted as it is unexpectedly weird. Coulda used an entire album of varied stuff like this, this pair’s clearly capable – but outside of 3 songs, this meeting of the minds didn’t seem to come up with anything else. Ah well – I guess it’s back to Nick’s books then. When’s Nick gonna write that bio of Hubert Selby Jr. we all know he’s got in him?

2. BE-BOP DELUXEModern Music (Harvest Records, 1976) BE-BOP DELUXE has got to be up there with, like, VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR and the MAN band with Those Brit Bands Most Likely To Be Overlooked By Us Dumbshit Americans. BBD’s distinctive mix of overly arranged pomprock slickness, Bowie-derived stylistic elements (skinny suits, ironed hair, thin vocals) and that hot-shit lead gtrist named Bill Nelson, well, wasn’t exactly gonna grab yr average KISS fan and wrestle em to the floor. But I’m agreeing with THE MECHANICS Dennis Catron: this record’s mix of ROXY MUSIC futurism and TODD RUNGREN ambition ain’t at all half-bad. No siree, although it maybe a tad over long in the end. Heck if Peter Hammill had mellowed the fuck out and joined up with COCKNEY REBEL, I couldn’t have imagined they’d have put out something as attractive as this. It’s not Bill Nelson’s frequent solos, but his neat gtr runs, eloquent fills, and multi-part harmonics that stick with you about his playing. And while he ain’t Hendrix, the guys that were trying to be Jimi at this late stage (think Frank Marino) aren’t the ones you realistically wanna listen to anyway. I’m still tripping on the way the vocals sound sorta like Vitus Mataré in TROTSKY ICEPICK. To be inadvertently put in a TROTSKY ICEPICK state of mind . . . that’s a rare talent indeed.

3. comp-tev1-f1VARIOUS ARTISTSEnigma Variations 2-LP (Enigma Records, 1985) Laugh if you want but for an 80′s independent label sampler, this one’s hard to beat. It’s a double record set, it still goes for pennies in those few used records stores left standing in America, and it’s got: gnarly NAKED PREY trampled by a drunken TEX & THE HORSEHEADS carrying a bloody REDD KROSS playing clever GAME THEORY smoking desert GREG SAGE while painting GREEN ON RED. And half the time, these were non-album tracks. Hey somebody, anybody! Get the full Enigma LPs by all these folks back on to CD and pronto. Being that this was Enigma, there’s some useless filler in here too, esp. on the synth-heavy final side. But while I usually don’t have patience for the garish ineptitude of CATHEDRAL OF TEARS or the collegiate smarm of GET SMART!, when they’re followed respectively by Alex Gibson’s ominously gorgeous PASSIONNEL and a very young and reckless LEAVING TRAINS . . . well, I can sit still and then some. For a few months there, Enigma was actually pretty good at collecting all the killer SoCal bands not on SST, and this one proves it.

4. SUPPER SESSIONBreed For Speedlove” (from the Rubbing Souls and Scratching Holes 7″ 45, Piece Of Mind, 1991) Raymond Pettibon now sings – well, intones at least – with THE NICHE MAKERS, but back in the early 90′s he was content simply to write messed-up lyrics for others (one being art gallery owner Richard Heller) to bring to life. Here, it’s a moving bit of hate mail to the Bruce Springsteen School of mid-80′s Americana poprock – you know, those industry pawns that always seemed to tuck their white t-shirts into tightbutt, ripped jeans prior to stepping in front of MTV’s cameras. If you’re wondering, yes I’d reckon this actually beats that BREWS SPRINGSTEIN parody cut tucked away on The Melting Plot comp all them years ago. And when they start in with that refrain of lord speed run fucker, can’t drive, I always sing along.

Look Behind You

9 Dec


No, I’m not exactly back in action just yet, but in the meantime . . . do read Joe Carducci’s touching tribute to SAINT VITUS and the singularly heavy drum style of Armando Acosta (RIP) over at The New Vulgate. Fittingly, Joe ends by locating VITUS in the larger pantheon of great but criminally-ignored bands hidden down in the South Bay during the 80′s – SACCHARINE TRUST, OVERKILL, SLOVENLY, SECRET HATE:

‘Ray Farrell . . . referred to the SST bands as “neighborhood bands”, which made me think that that might be the secret, maybe only in the south bay did rock music continue to be a folk music like rock and roll had been for the sixties garage bands and the rockabilly bands of the fifties’

We at PS Recon couldn’t agree more.

Take Us Now

25 Apr

SACCHARINE TRUST‘s Jack Brewer has started a curious new YouTube channel that those interested in his very personal, unflagging search for artistic truth would do well to check out. But it’s this archival clip that has me floored today: SACCHARINE TRUST at their last show before their initial spilt in 1986, after which Joe Baiza quickly formed LATINO BABY JESUS and Jack delved further into free-flowing spoken arts. Through a haze of muddy sound and the accumulated cultural baggage of two dozen long years, the awesome musicality, far reaching poetics, and deeply felt spirit of the greatest SoCal rock band of the 80′s (you heard that right) is still clearly recognisable. In Saccharine we do indeed Trust.

The Vitus Touch

6 Feb

Saw SAINT VITUS play this week here in London – what a rush.

Looking even more out-of-time than he did 3 decades ago, greyhead Dave Chandler was so glad to finally have a sizable audience in front him that he played his skittery breaks and white noise solos like he was a giddy teenager. Mark Adams kept his head down, playing his bass smooth and economically. Wino fractured into a wraith of hair, tattoos, and piercing, psychotic eyes halfway through the first song. And new drummer Henry Vasquez was good & effective in a vicious, animalistic sorta way – though I missed Armando Acosta’s languidly loose basskicks that once dragged their records even slower than anyone thought possible. Regardless, when they collectively dug their hooves into songs like “Living Backwards” “Look Behind You” and “The Troll” we knew we were staring at geezers who’d completely changed the sound of rock and roll, for all time.

But can we finally agree to quit with the quips that SAINT VITUS were somehow merely a BLACK SABBATH clone? If BLACK SABBATH were a rich, hearty bowl of minestrone soup, then SAINT VITUS could only be that soup if it was boiled over a high flame all night long, leaving but a viscous sludge stuck the bottom of the pot. And them two meals ain’t nothing like each other. See em live while they still stand, and check out a great, recent interview with Dave Chandler here (so it was OVERKILL who first brought em to the attention of Greg Ginn! Merrill Ward deserves a lifelong pension for such foresight).

Thanks to whenwedie for the killer photo of Vitus live in SF last week

Open 24 Hours

7 Nov

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Beneath nobby knees, stripey socks, and the formidable hit of a dozen cups of acidic coffee, lay the baddest 5-piece band ever to stalk the Earth. The flipside of their TV Party 45 EP (SST Records, 1982) proves it once and for all:

Thanks to Glen E. Friedman and We Got Power for the image

SST Reinterpreted, UK-Style

24 Nov

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Recent posts by a couple fellow bloggers (here and here) hipped me to an early 90′s SST Records tribute single by England’s proto-emocore DRIVE. Taking on THE DESCENDENTS and THE MINUTEMEN – not to mention Raymond Pettibon – all on one measly 45! That’s the kind of moxie I can get behind. Sure DRIVE sanded down the more subtile rhythmic kicks & leaps that made the originals so goddamn compelling, but that’s probably by necessity – what, you think you could top the Watt/Hurley or Lombardo/Stevenson rhythm sections? These Liverpudlians sound genuinely excited to be rockin’ these tunes (though it woulda been way cooler to hear em sung with a Scouse accent). Yes it’s mighty reassuring to know there’s at least a few rocker types wandering around here who had their heads spun by the very same Blasted Concepts that hit me so hard upside the head all them years ago.

D. Boon‘s high-end chankin’ & now Frank Navetta‘s chunk-style riffin’ may be gone forever, but I don’t figure the extended families of THE DESCENDENTS or THE MINUTEMEN will be calling it quits anytime soon. There’s just too much caffeinated energy and restless orneriness fueling that collective clan to lay still in the cemetery for long.

DRIVE – “My World
DRIVE – “This Ain’t No Picnic

SST Remembered, UK-Style

3 Nov

OK so somebody at that bastion of liberal UK journalism The Guardian has gone and written a not-exactly glowing remembrance of the 30th Anniversary of SST Records. Though not without a handfull of factual errors and a hedging-their-bets, begrudging take on things that continually reminds me I don’t live in SoCal no more. But hey I’m not complaining – us ex-pats gotta take what we can get.

Relatin’ Dudes to SST

4 Oct

Man oh man oh man did I ever hoot outloud when Donut Duck over at the SST Records-loving blog, The Blasting Concept, published this post about an unknown mid-80′s bass & drums duo who once called themselves THE CHASTITY TWINS. While these CHASTITY boys never left the garage, a pantload of SST Records sure as hell found their way into their bedrooms. The TWINS not only worked up a bunch of instrumental MINUTEMEN tunage, but they also tried their hand at BLACK FLAG, GONE, and frickin’ PAINTED WILLIE songs too. Nuts! The bassist goes for it like only a teen who’d recently fallen under the gargantuan spell of Watt’s Thud Staff could’ve. And all in gloriously muddy, lo-fi cassette deck fidelity – though this kinda microsubcultural homage couldn’t possibly exist any other way. Download their entire Dudes Jammin’ ’86 spiel tape here.

Projected Annihilation

9 Aug

Get your doom nod on with footage of a Scott Reagers-era SAINT VITUS, thundering through “Zombie Hunger”, live December 20, 1984.

Note: the DK sticker on Dave’s gtr; not one but two BLACK FLAG t-shirts clothing the band; plus Henry Rollins working up a sweat and getting off down in front, no doubt gearing up to join Brother Ginn for the main attraction.

What a voice! What a headpounding riff! What a solo! Aaahhhhhooooooooooo!

For more from this gig, including clips of BLACK FLAG and openers TOM TROCCOLI'S DOG(!) check out all of downtownlive's uploads here.

Blasting Minds

19 Jul

So you wanna talk about redefining rock LPs of the 1980′s? Ya just gotta include THE BLASTING CONCEPT VOLUME II in there, chief. Anyone who hoped those “difficult” mid-period BLACK FLAG and SACCHARINE TRUST records were just a fluke couldn’t deny that, by 1985, SST Records had undergone a complete and total aesthetic overhaul. The HC punk had become heavy, found hippie, turned jazzy, gone fishin’ and then . . . well, kids everywhere were shaking their heads in utter disbelief. This just wasn’t what they wanted their oh-so precious punk rock to sound like. Ever.

THE BLASTING CONCEPT VOLUME II encapsulated those revelatory changes, and suggested a dozen more. It was a bold, powerful, collective artistic statement that directly challenged unexamined musical prejudices throughout punk & underground scenes at the time. While the first BLASTING compilation merely corralled previously released material on a handy 12″, most of this stuff never turned up anywhere else, making it primary SST documentation. Yes it’s got the most boring cover in SST’s early annals; but do check out the original, unused Pettibon artwork in the backpages of Joe Carducci’s Rock & the Pop Narcotic – a very different graphic representation to ponder when cracking an ear to this aural wonder. Blow by blow, it’s

SAINT VITUS: “Look Behind You” – One of my fave early VITUS cuts. Carducci makes mention of a creeping paranoia floating around SST back then, and VITUS pins it here with a singularly leaden, dull blade. Ouch. This version beats the slightly later, Wino-led version what with more inspired vocals by Scott Reagers and superior drumming from Armando.

DC3: “Theme From an Imaginary Western” – Dez the crooner, won’t you take the mic? Oh my god, how I love this. It’s hard, heavy, and poignant – brings tears to my eyes. And these eyes don’t cry easily.

SWA: “Mystery Girl” – Not my fave SWA song, as it’s got one of them distended, disjointed riffs that clutter up their early LPs. But Merrill sounds E. Bloomin’ hot and raring to go-go-go, like he’s about to whip his dick out in front of whatever loser audience ain’t gonna be able to handle SWA this week. You might, but me? I don’t ever fast-forward past this one.

BLACK FLAG: “I Can See You” – One of the more off-kilter melodies Ginn came up with in FLAG, and when he solos I start feeling a bit woozy. But lyrically it fits the rec perfectly, as if Ginn’s responding to the VITUS track above. Who says he didn’t grow eyes in the back of his head?

GONE: “Watch the ‘Tractor” – One of GONE’s defining moments: pure metallic punk/prog mayhem bliss. A buddy of mine always maintained GONE was responsible for the very best in-store performance ever in the greater Washington DC area, which is totally believable if they sounded anything like this.

WÜRM: “Death Ride” – I am one yahoo who actually digs Simon Smallwood’s vocals and the BLUE CHEER bronco these guys saddled on their Feast LP. WÜRM were far too early in the scheme of Heavy Revival to be considered anything more than a joke. But like VOX POP, they helped reintroduce OTT metal to punkers in LA, back when you were still making excuses for owning Haysi Fantayzee records.

OVERKILL: “Over the Edge” – OVERKILL put out the best SST LP most of you never bothered with, and this singularly-great MÖTÖRHEAD bomb is an outtake from that crucial rec. Merrill’s vocals are buried which makes him sound even more feral, and drummer Kurt Markham positively murders. I can’t not bang my head hard when this one comes on.

SACCHARINE TRUST: “Emotions and Anatomy” – A short outtake from their Worldbroken live record, so it’s got Mike Watt playing bass. At the time, this kinda deep searching, exploratory sound got me thinking there were absolutely no more limits to just how far out underground rock could be taken. You younger free-rock types oughta all come pay your respects.

PAINTED WILLIE: “The Big Time” – Not a bad bit of REDD KROSS-like sneer from guys who struggled to find their voice after the brilliance of their initial Ragged Army 7″ 45. Most of their records suffer from shitty production, but as I always empathized with punkers who tried rocking it hard and heavy, no doubt I’d have paid to see em do it live if I could.

ANGST: “Just Me” – Depressive folk rock that nicely illustrates the strengths of this Bay-area band. Again I’ll maintain that this is entirely in keeping with the vibe (if not the sound) of primo SLEEPERS/NEGATIVE TREND material.

MEAT PUPPETS: “I Just Wanna Make Love to You” – I prefer the PUPS covers of “Child of the Moon” and “No Quarter” but they’re all zigzagging stripes off the very same three-legged zebra. I always laugh when Curt maintains she don’t love you anymore/ she likes my love better.

MINUTEMEN: “Ain’t Talkin’ About Love” – Here you probably figured Merrill Ward or Henry Rollins would be the first to come out of the closet with a love for VAN HALEN. Nope: it was Boon who was the real Diamond Dave aficionado all along. I love that, in true MINUTEMEN fashion, they’ve parred this back to only the 3rd verse and the hey hey heys.

HÜSKER DÜ: “Erase Today” – a great New Day Rising-era outtake. This doesn’t actually sound like much else here, but that just illustrates how distinctive these guys’ sound actually was. I’m not a huge HD fan, but this is a classic midwestern barnburner anyway you wanna cut it.

OCTOBER FACTION: “I Was Grotesque” – Lifted from the their less-than successful second LP, wherein Dukowski, Ginn, Baiza, Stevenson et al tried to FACTIONalize within the unnatural confines of the studio. They couldn’t pull it off and I admit it: I sometimes skip past this one. But I’ll always admire their impulse to take the music one step beyond.

TOM TROCCOLI’S DOG: “Todo Para Mi” – A far from ideal cut to end things on, given the quality of all that came before. Me I woulda chose Tom’s cover of ANDY & THE RATTLESNAKES “Patience” which ended his own DOG LP from this same year. But really, what better man to bring down these BLASTING curtains than the hippiest, deadheadiest SST roadie of them all? Anybody who couldn’t deal would’ve given up loooong before this track; those who stayed to appreciate it no doubt went on to form all my favorite bands over the next couple decades.

——–

Paging Greg Ginn: re-release this lost treasure! It’s one that’ll blow minds, forevermore.

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