Archive | Angst RSS feed for this section

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.


GreateSST Hits

7 May

No, this is not the start of a new SST Records-related series of posts. It’s just today’s fleeting desire to gab about a few nearenuf, shouldabeen, honest-to-god almost hits from the SST RECORDS family, ca. world domination period (’86-’92). Yeah you probably cried sell-out back then, but in 2008, with 20-20 hindsight? Well listen again:

1. DOS – “Taking Away the Fire” – (Dos LP, New Alliance Records, 1986) The early DOS song you’d hear spun the most on LA’s KXLU radio, probably since it’s got vocals. The wiggly, prog bass harmonics were totally haunting & singular ringing out amidst the bland sea of tunes by THE CULT and SISTERS OF MERCY they was pushing hard back then. And I’ve always interpreted the lyrics as Kira struggling to come to terms with her drastically less intense, post-BLACK FLAG existence. I admit I was one of the last to truly get the awesome power of DOS, but once I did . . .

2. ANGST – “Some Things (I Can’t Get Used To)” (Mending Wall, SST Records, 1986) Frank Fucking Black covered this, but forget about that for a sec. ANGST was this cool mid-80’s SF trio whose strummin’ sound harkened back to mid-60’s political folkrock as often as their vocals summoned up the blunted tonal palette of amazing, recently deceased Bay area bands like THE SLEEPERS and NEGATIVE TREND. All their records have a handful of rueful, biting keepers on em. This was their most serious contender in the Reagan-era, personal-is-political sadcore sweepstakes.

3. ALWAYS AUGUST – “Flatlands” (Geography EP, SST Records, 1988) Not actually a hit by any stretch but it’s the one I most-associate with these Virginia hippie jazzbos, as a pal of mine spun this rec alot back then. Dig that fretless bass! It’s the very best DEAD-inspired coalescing on a label that was infamous throughout the land for a burning, heretical DEADication. For a moment there, I actually believed this kinda freeform, barefoot sound was gonna REIGN SUPREME over the underground for the next decade. Boy, was I ever wrong. This tune along with a whole gaggle of wildly disparate, Ginn-approved tunage can also be found on the quaintly-titled SST Godhead Storedude In-Store Play Device #5 cassette, freely available for public bemusement/befuddlement here.

4. GRANT HART – “2541” (2541 EP, SST Records, 1988) Out of all the early SST signings, HÜSKER DÜ interested me the least. Maybe it was because I had no line on em – they were a 1000 miles away in Minneapolis, not a 15 minute drive down PCH in Hermosa Beach. Or maybe, it was their drug choice (heroin) that rubbed my then hyper-caffeinated metabolism the wrong way. Whatever, I shied away for years – until it was just about over and bitchen solo projects like Grant’s Intolerance started to emerge (read what the astute Aussie blogger at Lexicon Devil had to say about that period here). “2541” saw Grant revisiting his early HD years via a cool, Tom Pettyesque pop rock tune that suits his ernest vocals like a homeknit sock. Me, I suspect he could’ve eventually out-Westerberged ol’ Paul, if only the music industry had cut him some slack.

5. ALL – “She’s My Ex” (Allroy’s Revenge, Cruz Records, 1989) Goofy as you may think this one-time college radio staple is/was, this comes from the very-best ALL record of alltime (Allroy’s Revenge), an LP every one of you so-called rocker types should explore in fine detail before you die. While this particular track is pure pop pabulum, the rhythmations that Bill Stevenson, Stephen Egerton, and Karl Alvarez get up to elsewhere on this rec are unparalleled, especially given how damn radio-friendly so many of the tunes are. And if this is just too embarrassing for you to revisit, try this: pretend singer Scott Reynolds is singing in Swahili, and this will go down like a 6:00 am whiskey flip.

6. JACK BREWER BAND – “Why Did God Create Assholes” (Harsh World, New Alliance Records, 1992) He had songs I liked better, but after a handful of beers, few punch lines sounded more right on. This was the one the audiences (ok, me) cried out for more than any other, “Dog’s Liberation” aside. And boy, Jack loved to give audiences what they loved – when he wasn’t making them feel kinda worried/uncomfortable, anyway. Saw him do this live opening for SONIC YOUTH on their Daydream Nation tour, in all his clutzy glory. He nearly brought down the house.

Thanks to lasvegashardcore for the photo