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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


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


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.