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Dandelion Wine

3 Jun

While I’ve been kinda ignoring this blog lately, I certainly haven’t been ignoring loud rock and roll as of late, no sireebob. It’s an everpresent reality at Chez PS Recon, and my wife will testify to this. So tonight I’m back to yammer on excitedly about a bunch of music that’s been rocking my world as of late. Don’t dawdle, step to it:

51ZaR97Yv9L._SS500_JOHN PEEL’S DANDELION RECORDS DVD (Ozit/Morpheus Records, 2008) As far as unwieldy DVDs go, this one takes the cake. Ostensibly the story of John Peel and Clive Selwood’s great Dandelion Records UK label from ’68 – ’72, this is everything producers/directors Chris and Tom Hewitt had stored up. And lemme tell ya, it’s a pantload. With no real rhyme or reason at work to the organisation, at times it’s like trying to get your head around an attic full of old photos, nick-knacks, and personal objects left behind by a crazy dead uncle. There’s no way this can be called a success in the conventional sense – anyone with only a passing interest in the label or mild curiosity about any of the artists included herein would turn this off halfway through the 45 minute(!) intro.

That said . . . there is an endearing, ragtag charm to this missing from most pro DVDs these days, and for those who persist, there’s any number of minor revelations: an intense KEVIN COYNE (RIP) fronting SIREN in one of his last performances; neat footage of the amazing TRACTOR in their homemade studio ca. ’71; a recent interview with proto-punk heroes STACK WADDY proving them bricklayers are still the kind of earthy, down to earth drunkards you always hoped they’d be, etc. etc. At 6+ hours, I could literally spend weeks with this and still not actually watch it all – maybe I never will. But not unlike a certain crazy uncle of mine this rambling DVD is growing on me, so I’m gonna say if Lost English Hippie is your bag, you could do alot worse than picking this one up. But don’t say I didn’t warn you.

165965ASYLUMThe Earth Is The Insane Asylum Of The Universe (Shadow Kingdom Records, 2008) ’85 demo by this foundation-building heavy Maryland band, proving from the get go Dale Flood was a impressive musical talent. Later recordings under the UNORTHODOX moniker were better produced, but the glorious homegrown DIY crunch at work here could never again be replicated – the sound/feel puts me in mind of those bitchen BLACK FLAG ’83 demos floating around out there. Curious to note how wide the influences were on these guys back then. Yes, WINO looms large and there are some slow, crushing ST. VITUS moments, but elsewhere the band dives through proggy riff change-ups worthy of vintage CAPTAIN BEYOND and then surfaces to rage in early CORROSION OF CONFORMITY/DIE KREUZEN fashion – with Dale bringing a deeply felt bluesiness to the proceedings even at his most aggro. God, how I wish more of today’s doom bands displayed such musical breadth/scope.

IMGGOTHIC HUTBig Holes! (Show Me Records and Tapes, 1989) Always avoided their Posh Boy Records LP from ’82, as I imagined it might sound horrid like CATHEDRAL OF TEARS or somebody. Whatever their origins, by the late 80’s John Dyer’s GOTHIC HUT weren’t gothic at all but as singular an underground art rock act as you might find in LA at the time. They’d layer on effects-laden, surf-inspired gtrs thick and sometimes impenetrably atop a laidback rhythm section, then cut it with John Dyer’s vocals that were alternatingly humorous or cooly detached. There’s also an appealing soporific quality to the proceedings that makes me think everyone involved was ordered to pop a few benzos before walking into the studio. All this somehow lent an accessibility to what otherwise would be called avant chamber rock. Los Angeles Free Music Society alum Rick Potts is a big part of the sound here, and in fact some of these tunes turned up (in slightly different versions?) on that sprawling 10-CD LAFMS box the Cortical Foundation released in the ’90s. But this doesn’t necessarily mean you gotta wear your LE FORTE FOUR ears to appreciate this; this blogger likened them to HUMAN HANDS and BPEOPLE – well worth searching out. John now lends his talents to X-RAY ACTRESS.

Freelive_albumcoverFREELive! (Island Records, 1971) Just to prove I don’t spend all my time listening to obscure and out-of-print records, I give you FREE. Simply the best hard rock band England will ever give the world. That’s EVER. Yeah ZEPP & SABBATH were cool as shit and all, but ohhh man nobody but nobody could beat the bros Paul (Rogers and Kossoff) when backed by this strong a rhythm engine. Unlike in spinoffs BAD COMPANY, every member here was a fullbore believer in the cause, living the beat day-in, day-out. Didn’t hurt that at this point no one had yet to succumb to liver burnout. The way these guys’d crawl all over often the quite simple melodies in that hard, slow, and precise way of theirs, with Koss divebombing in with intensely restrained, soulful solos . . . it’s blues rock made by a whole band of 6 Million Dollar Steve Austins, who’s collective sense of hearing/playing is so finely tuned they’re attempting music to rock even itty-bitty cicadas. We all know ”All Right Now” stuck but this entire record hammers home dozens of subtle points to the body/mind/soul if you let it.

You want in? Start with this bitchen Live disc wherein FREE come at you warts and all, and then work yr way backwards/forwards in their discography to really understand their particular form of genius. Then I promise you, too, will come to understand the beautiful wisdom of slowing the beat down for fucking eeeeevea.

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Imminent Rocking

30 Aug

5 great bands promising us new recordings before this year’s up. I can’t wait.

1. COBRA VERDE – These near alt.biggies haven’t released anything substantial since their Copycat Killers CD 3 years ago, hands down the most entertaining record ever to feature a cover versions of both PINK and EASTER MONKEYS songs. I love their Brian Ferryesque style & wit, but even if you don’t, you can always spend hours ogling the formidable midwestern punker donkeykick driving the whole shebang. They’ve managed to keep me smiling through some pretty shitty days over the past decade, and for this I thank em dearly. If only all the world was as glamourous as a COBRA VERDE song . . .

2. PRISONSHAKE – Saw these guys blow MY DAD IS DEAD away in Chicago back in ’91; they were totally commanding, hitting me like Jim Shepard’s VERTICAL SLIT reinventing THE ROLLING STONES catalogue. Afterward, I chatted with the drummer? bassist? (the one in the thick bottle glasses), who kindly floated me a cassette demo of what became their Della Street EP. This I listened to on my car stereo for years after. I always intended to check em out again, though never did; but with a double-LP due out this month, now seems to be a great time to do so. Go check out their smart and funny blogspot; along with the COBRA VERDE release, this one’s coming out on Scat Records.

3. ELOPE – Oh fuck yeah! The best band going from Ingmar Bergman country, they’ve apparently completed a fourth long player. Their first 3 receive tons of airtime on my I-Pod: the harsh, NEIL YOUNGish eclectic poprock of their S/T first, the uncannily STEVE HOWE & BODAST-like, psych-into-prog rocking of 3WD, not to mention the hangover haze of last year’s 9 Distilled Dreams. If there’s one band I’ve like to see do it live tonight, it’s these still-young men. Wanna hear who’s keeping 60’s-informed rock living and breathing in 2008? Point your ear horn here.

4. BACKBITER – Head BACKBITER Jonathan Hall (ex-PORNO SPONGES, ex-TEXORCIST) has been toiling away in backalley Hollywood shadows for far too long now. His Roky Erickson scream is still intact 20+ years on, and he’s somehow kept one of my favorite LA drummers (Bob Lee, ex-CRAWLSPACE, ex-CLAW HAMMER, ex-FEARLESS LEADER, etc) at his side for near as long. Their new stuff is more varied and rootsy than they’ve ever attempted before – mandolin now figures prominently! This is exciting news, as they’re clearly capable of reaching beyond the 60’s garage-influenced, heavy rock terrain they perfected a dozen or so years ago. Wish em luck finding a worthy label – one day soon you’ll be able to get it from them direct.

5. UNORTHODOX – The best early 90’s Maryland/DC doom band that didn’t feature Wino. Man, it must’ve been tough to keep your rocking original in the shadow of the almighty OBSESSED . . . but the two releases these guys once put out on Hellhound Records (Asylum and especially Balance of Power) were so confident with their mid-tempo, ever-shifting melody/riff approach that they floated out onto a beautiful, heavyass plane all by themselves. Dale Flood is an amazing lead player, great lyricist, and powerful singer to boot. Since their return in 2004 they’ve kept a relatively low profile but there’s a new CD coming soon on The Church Within Records. My god, how these metal lifers maintain even the smallest bit of sanity amidst all the extreme volume/hair/headbanging is beyond me.

Photo above of the recently-refurbished Record Plant in LA (where none of these bands will ever record) courtesy of none other than Ed Colver