Thursday, July 31, 2008

communiqué #12: salutations

A special thanks to Any Major Dude With Half A Heart for mentioning SibLINGSHOT ON THE BLEACHERS alongside several other sites in his Music For Bloggers: Vol. 7 post last week. It was gratifying on diving back into the blogging pool after my short break to find this site singled out for approval.

props and salutations. illustration by ib.

While I'm at it, I would also like to belatedly thank Fusion 45 for his extremely kind words of support in his Random Notes Of Import much earlier in the month. MJ@F45 has recently embarked on a new career at WNEW while continuing to serve up great music more frequently than is seemly on his own site too. Respect. There are two reasons, really, for my neglecting to bring attention to this sooner. Firstly, Sibling Whispers was not yet up and running at the time of this development as a regular feature highlighting what is happening elsewhere. Secondly - and a good deal more frankly - while it's obviously quite flattering to receive the odd testimonial, I was a tad reluctant to draw attention to it lest everybody out there conclude my ego had maybe taken flight.

I walk a tightrope, motherf@ckers! Of my inescapable, and no doubt faintly ridiculous, angst.

Anyway; thanks, people. Your support is greatly valued.

THE FALL: HIGH TENSION LINE from "High Tension Line b/w X-Mas With Simon" 45 (Fontana / Cog Sinister) 1991 (UK)


tea box: simtec simmons

when is a teapot not a teapot ?

This stunningly obtuse selection from the world of fine teas comes freshly brewed from the wonderful Office Naps - run with considerable style by DJ Little Danny out of Austin, Texas - a site I stumbled across by happy accident some time back, and have turned to on many an occasion subsequently looking to score a regular fix.

On a weekly basis since Office Naps' inception, Danny has consistently surprised and enlightened his hard core readership with some amazingly rare and hard to find "45rpm curios" from a variety of genres falling between '60s psychedelia and jazz obscura with unstinting dedication, all lovingly ripped from his own out of print collection.

His site is a treasure trove of unpredictable cool.

I can't imagine I might have happened on this Chicago release without DJ Little Danny's obsessive attention to delivering up such obscure gems, richly augmented through his regular supporting commentary.

Written by Maurice Jackson and released on his independent tiny soul imprint, Maurci, "Tea Pot" is an infectious machine driven jazz concoction which sheds much needed light on the late 1960's scene anchored in the mid west prior to the funk explosion ushered in with the dawning of a new decade and an audience thirsty for some deeply stirred bitches' brew. Like the best of teas its gently heated ingredients are infused with a flavour best sipped and savoured. Natch.

" 'Tea Box', for all its whimsical qualities, was not some after-hours lark of a studio engineer at loose ends. This selection was the handiwork of Simtec Simmons, the singer, guitarist and leader of aspiring Chicago R&B group the Tea Boxes. “Tea Box,” according to legend, was recorded at the behest of Herb “Kool Gent” Kent, a Chicago radio disc jockey who was taken with the sound of the rhythm machine and who in turn encouraged Simmons and his combo to record using it.

“Tea Box” features Simtec Simmons on guitar and two members of the Tea Boxes - his brother Ronald Simmons on bass and Bobby Pointer on the drum machine. Released on Maurice Jackson’s tiny Chicago soul label Maurci in 1967, “Tea Box” was, strangely enough, a good-sized regional hit, its anomalous and quirky appeal sending robots all over the upper Midwest to their local record shops for something they could finally dance to."

Simmons would later gravitate to a much harder edged funk sound on teaming up with fellow Chicago band leader, Wylie Dixon, scoring some respectable hits with their duo Simtec & Wylie, but as the 70s drew to its close, Simmons's appetite to win over the dance floor waned to the point of his quitting the industry for good.

This shit is too good to miss.

As is Office Naps, back after a fortuitously brief hiatus. Go visit today and grab yourself a cup.

SIMTEC SIMMONS: TEA POT from "Tea Pot" 45 (Maurci) 1967 (US)


the boys are back in town

the roof top concert, january 30th, 1969.

"i'd like to say 'thank you' on behalf of the group and ourselves and I hope we passed the audition."
"hello. hello. good to be back."

I know, I know : some people are clearly better off back behind bars, and the less said the better.

By the same token, though, I can't completely shake that unhealthy fetish for early Paul Gadd & Mike Leander proto-punk production; a glam chant straight off the terraces and onto a battery eating transistor radio. Even our school teachers warned us there was something decidedly unsavoury about Gary. God bless them. One glimpse of him oozing out of his lamé sequined suit on Top Of The Pops was all that was required for them to deduce that something deeply sinister was afoot, albeit in a pair of outsize platform boots.

And to think his jailbreak was strictly legal.

Something is rotten in the state of Denial. Goodness gracious.

THE BEATLES: GET BACK from "Let It Be... Naked" LP/CD (Apple) 1969/2003 (UK)

GARY GLITTER: HELLO! HELLO! I'M BACK AGAIN from "Hello! Hello! I'm Back Again b/w I.O.U." 45 (Bell) 1973 (UK)

THIN LIZZY: THE BOYS ARE BACK IN TOWN* from "Jailbreak" LP (Vertigo) 1976 (UK)

* link deleted.



Thursday, July 24, 2008

communiqué #11: gone camping

columbia F.B.2816.
illustration by ib, after the cure's "a forest".

This city is too filthy and sticky this weather to stay cooped up like chickens hiding from a fox.

"If you go out in the woods today

You'd better not go alone

It's lovely out in the woods today

But safer to stay at home

For every bear that ever there was

Will gather there for certain, because

Today's the day

The teddy bears have their picnic."

The song is widely acknowledged to have originally been written by John W. Bratton as an instrumental in 1904, one of a number of "'humorous' pokes at Theodore Roosevelt following his refusal to shoot a bear cub whilst hunting". The lyrics were a later addition by Irish composer James B. Kennedy.
We'll be safe.

We intend to camp out in a wigwam. And not feed the bears.
See you soon.
THE TEDDY BEARS' PICNIC from "The Teddy Bears' Picnic" 78rpm (COLUMBIA) 1933 (UK)


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

bubblegum: special k for the kidz

and don't forget to floss.

For a brief period between 1969 and 1970 Jerry Kasenetz and Jeff Katz's "Special K" productions very nearly came to dominate the charts and pollute the critical faculties of children everywhere.

Remember the awful 1910 Fruitgum Company ? How about Joey Levine and Kris Resnik's evilly Machiavellian Ohio Express ? Damnation bound and throwing up cartoon sparks. The very sound of their "Simon Says" is almost enough to drive you into the far corner of a rubber room without the aid of a straight-jacket.

Steve Dworkin, staff writer for Special K recalls:

"In 1969 I was a staff writer/producer at Super K Productions.
I had written "Bring Back Howdy Doody" as a joke, not expecting Kasanetz and Katz to go with it. At one point, K and K sent my partner Gary Willet and myself into the studio to record as many "bad" records as we could in one day, including "Bring Back Howdy Doody."
The session was... a tax writeoff."

"Bring Back Howdy Doody" later scored a hit for Lt. Garcia's Magic Music Box - under the pseudonym The Flying Giraffe - for K & K on the Bell label. The first recording undertaken at A-1 Studios in NYC, on which Dworkin was directly involved, had been intended for consumption in its original indigestible backward form but
was reversed under the instruction of K & K and found a home on the b-side to 1910 Fruitgum Co.'s nauseating smash, "Indian Giver".

You may recall the hit was later covered by the Ramones, NYC's junk gourmets of the Special K fad diet.

It should have all died there and then, of course, as the Bubblegum generation graduated first to amphetamines and later heroin in an attempt to erase the Special K experience and lose themselves to merciful oblivion, but 100% proof distilled evil - as we are now aware - is as prone to mutation as a t-virus. It may slumber for years like a sleeping curse, but allow it the opportunity and it will jump trains quicker than a hobo on the trail of spilled meth.

Watch out. Mr. Burns is back in business.

Credit to WFMU and The Bubblegum University.

1910 FRUITGUM COMPANY: WOW WOP (REVERSED) from "Indian Giver b/w Pow Wow" 45 (Buddah) 1969 (US)

STEINSKI: SIMPSONS REMIX from "Steinski's Simpson Remixes" MP3 (WFMU, New Jersey) 2005 (US)


further, pranksters, further

the electric kool-aid acid test.

From Psychedelic 60s:

"In 1959, Ken Kesey, a graduate student in creative writing at Stanford University, volunteered to take part in a government drug research program at Menlo Park Veterans Hospital that tested a variety of psychoactive drugs such as LSD, which was legal at the time, psilocybin, mescaline, and amphetamine IT-290. Over a period of several weeks, Kesey ingested these hallucinogens and wrote of his drug-induced experiences for government researchers. From this experience, Kesey wrote his most celebrated novel, One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, and began his own experimentations with psychedelic drugs."

The Merry Pranksters got their show underway with Neal Cassady at the wheel.

Their journey was an act in three parts;

"The first was the infamous Magic Bus Trip, from California to New York and back, in the summer of 1964. The second was the “ongoing communal life centered on aesthetic experience and experimentation” which happened at the Kesey homestead from 1964 to 1966. The third act consisted of the acid tests held around California from 1965 to 1966."

Kesey was arrested for possession of marijuana in 1965. In an elaborate bid to throw the dogs off the scent, he 'masterminded' his own suicide by instructing associates to abandon his truck on a cliffside road near Eureka.

His suicide note read, "Ocean, Ocean I'll beat you in the end."

Kesey fled to Mexico in the back of a friend's car, but was later apprehended and spent a further five months at San Mateo County Jail, Redwood City, CA.

astral piper: syd aged 16 at home on hills road, cambridge.

A decade later.

During the recording sessions for 1975's "Wish You Were Here" at Abbey Road Studios, England, usurped helmsman, Syd Barrett turned up unannounced with shaven head and loose kaftanesque folds not quite concealing his acquired bulk.

Captain Bligh later confessed he cried.

PINK FLOYD: WISH YOU WERE HERE from "Wish You Were Here" LP (Harvest EMI) 1975 (UK)


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

lost valley (of the dolls)

whiplash records EP200,
naugatuck, connecticut.
arthur 'killer' kane: self prescribing living statue, 'mister kool'.

From Wiki:

"Arthur Harold Kane Jr, was born in The Bronx, New York to Erna and Harold Kane. His mother died when he was a young man and his difficult relationship with his father went downhill. He graduated from Martin Van Buren High School in Queens, New York. He first played bass in the band Actress along the other original New York Dolls: Johnny Thunders, Rick Rivets and Billy Murcia, but not David Johansen."

After the gig was up for the New York Dolls, bass player Arthur Kane went on to join up with Blackie Lawless, who had briefly stood in for Johnny Thunders during the Dolls' addled Forida tour in 1975. Thunders and Jerry Nolan quit the band and founded The Heartbreakers with Richard Hell in the wake of his acrimonious split with Television.

Arthur settled on the name Killer Kane for his splinter project. Hardly inspired, but by this time he was understandably desperate to see his name in lights. His days of playing second fiddle were no more.

The bid for parity with those other Dolls who went on to achieve a degree of success was short lived if not hopelessly stillborn.

Disillusioned, Kane soon quit New York entirely and relocated to LA, but sunny California was as cruel if maybe a little warmer. While he survived Thunders and Nolan long enough to stage a reunion with David Johansen and Sylvain Sylvain in 2004, he succumbed to leukemia just two hours after being admitted to an LA emergency room with suspected fatigue in July of the same year.

The ranks of dead dolls lie swollen with entropy.

With thanks to Phil Milstein for the pic and vinyl rip.

KILLER KANE BAND: MR. COOL from "Mr. Cool" EP (Whiplash) 1976 (US)


(i belong to the) blank generation

stiff BUY 7, 1976.

sire 12" reissue, 1977.

After his alliance with Tom Verlaine - first with The Neon Boys and then Television - had fallen afoul, Richard Meyers hatched a gunpowder plot with his new band, the Voidoids, and immediately set out to coin and otherwise capitalize on the CBGB scene in New York City.

"Blank Generation" first saw light of day not as an a-side but on the flip to "(I Could Live With You In) Another World", released stateside on Ork Records and on Stiff in the UK in 1976.

What Hell lost in Verlaine he made up for through the shrewd recruitment of exceptional guitarist, Robert Quine to his team, with
Ivan Julien accompanying him on rhythm guitar and Marc Bell (Marky Ramone) on drums. A restless native of Akron, Ohio, Quine brought
an eclectic jazz oriented sensibility to the table and a lawyer's sharp nose for sniffing out the bullshit. Older than his peers, Quine had aquired a degree in law from Washington University in the mid to late 60's and had specialized in Tax Law for several years before meeting
up and working with both Hell and Verlaine in a movie memorabilia store in NYC. The antithesis of naive young street punk, what he also had in abundance was a raw enthusiasm for rock n' roll which stretched all the way back to his pre teens, coupled with an incisive encyclopaedic knowledge.

In short, he was a great fucking guitar player and his talent is etched deep into everything the Voidoids laid down on wax.

The energy of that New York borne scene through 1976-77 may be - fittingly - forever remembered as punk rock, but Hell's sloganeering "Blank Generation" just as perfectly sums it up. With a copywriter's intuitively deft touch for PR mileage, he labelled a generation as precisely as any expensively targeted advertising campaign.

original photograph by roberta bayley; robert quine far right.

Robert Quine went on to record with Lydia Lunch, and - perhaps most memorably - Lou Reed on 1982's "Blue Mask". He also stood in on numerous sessions for artists including Tom Waits and Marianne Faithfull.

Severely depressed after the death of his wife, Alice in August 2003 from cancer, Quine was unable to recover sufficiently to move on from his loss. He committed suicide by heroin overdose in his New York home on May 31, 2004, although there was some doubt as to whether his overdose was intentional or not.

From Lester Bangs, with characteristic restraint:

"Someday Quine will be recognized for the pivotal figure that he is on his instrument — he is the first guitarist to take the breakthroughs of early Lou Reed and James Williamson and work through them to a new, individual vocabulary, driven into odd places by obsessive attention to On the Corner-era Miles Davis."
I don't think I would argue.

RICHARD HELL & THE VOIDOIDS: THE BLANK GENERATION from "(I Could Live With You In) Another World" 45 (Ork / Stiff) 1976 (US/UK)


Monday, July 21, 2008

massachusetts (thrice): another view

varulven records 805-111.
feauring jonathan richman.

First off, let me explain why "Massachetts (Thrice)".

This is not the original version of "Sticking With You" from the unreleased 'fourth' album by the Velvet Underground, recorded in NYC between 1968-69 for MGM, and repackaged as "VU" on Verve in 1985. There never was really a 'lost' album as such, just a collection of unreleased songs which never made the final cut in the transition from MGM to Atlantic.

The original version of the song, penned by Lou Reed, is a much more laid-back affair and lacks the childish vitality and spark of this 1974 collaboration between Moe Tucker and Jonathan Richman.

It was released on the Boston imprint, Varulven, as a split 45 backed with "Count Viglione's Love and Flame featuring Lady Carolyn" in 1980, and remains - as far as I'm aware - out of print, although it was re-released as part of a five track EP, again on Varulven, in 1985.

The line-up features Willie "Loco" Alexander on keyboards and backing vocals; Jonathan Richman performing Lou Reed's original vocal part; and a possible - but uncorroborated - guitar part by George Nardo.

MOE TUCKER & FRIENDS: ANOTHER VIEW (I'M STICKING WITH YOU) from "Another View b/w Of Yesterday" Split 45 (Varulven) 1980 (US)


massachusetts (twice)

the mighty jonathan richman.

Born in Natick, Massachusetts on May 16, 1951, Jonathan Richman moved to New York City in 1969 hoping to cement his infatuation with the Velvet Underground. That's 'GLUED" to you. After a spell sleeping and living on the Velvets' then manager, Steve Sesnick's couch, Richman returned to Boston nursing a somewhat bruised ego. Down but never out, he recorded a session of demos with John Cale in 1972.

"She Cracked" can be found, of course, on 1976's debut proper, "The Modern Lovers", released on Beserkley. The original demo, I think, is just a little superior.

Thanks to WZJN for engaging me in thinking more on Massachusetts following yesterday's Barbarians post, and Jon for reminding me that
I'd completely neglected to mention Jonathan in an aberrant fit of premature senility.

JONATHAN RICHMAN: SHE CRACKED (1972 DEMO) from "Rough Trade Shops: Rock and Roll 1" 2 x CD (ROUGH TRADE) 2001 (US/UK)


Sunday, July 20, 2008

the barbarians: moulty

not quite black leather barbarians, but barbarians nonetheless.

laurie LR 3326. written by e. greenberg & d. morris.

Pre-dating The Seeds even, The Barbarians - formed in 1963 - were a proto-punk garage band straight out of Provincetown, Massachusetts. Their original line-up - consisting of Jeff Morris; Jerry Causi; Bruce Benson; and Victor "Moulty" Moulton - cut their first 45 in 1964 on tiny Massachusetts local imprint, Joy Records, a primitive British Invasion inspired number titled "Hey Little Bird".

Long haired and uniformly shod in jesus boots as part of some half-hearted gimmick, the real star of the band was Moulty himself, their one-handed drummer (and vocalist on this, their most infamous single) who sported a hook as the result of a tragic childhood accident.

Following a well secured appearance in Santa Monica's Teenage Music International show - sharing centre stage alongside a host of first division heavyweights including the Stones, James Brown, Chuck Berry, and the Beach Boys - the Barbarians were invited to record an album on Laurie; their predictably self-titled debut hit the racks in 1965. Although it featured the off-handedly cool (excuse the pun) "Are You A Boy, Or Are You a Girl ?", the LP itself is merely interesting.

The real jewel in their crown of thorns is the autobiographical, "Moulty", apparantly recorded during the album sessions as throwaway filler, but subsequently released as a 45 on Laurie in '66. The song by all rights should just be a rudely executed tear-jerker - a garage junk fileaway - but no, this 'nugget' actually goes far enough to rival the Stooges for pure punk attitude and pulse quickening heart. And it didn't even make the album's final tracklist.

But wait, it gets way more interesting.

The rest of the Barbarians don't even make an appearance. Recorded
in New York City after all but Moulty packed up their equipment and
fled back home, it transpires those musicians more than ably backing Victor Moulton are none other than The Hawks, or - to the still clueless - Bob Dylan's The Band. And none of the Barbarians - especially Moulty it would appear, ashamed to be seen milking his disability - wanted the song released in the first place. Producer, Doug Morris, however, could smell a hit when he heard one and went ahead and printed it up as a shiny new 45 regardless. Tempers frayed, the group soon walked.

The Barbarians bravely kept right at it, evolving into Black Pearl by 1968, but the real hero here is undoubtably Moulty and his righteous call to arms.

Don't Turn Away.

THE BARBARIANS: MOULTY from "Moulty" 45 (Laurie) 1966 (US)



rubber biscuit

josie 803. $100.

Performed by Charles Johnson; Nathaniel Epps; Shedrick Lincoln; Samuel Strain Jr.; Paul Fulton. Written by Charles Johnson. Released in August 1956 on Josie Records.

THE CHIPS: RUBBER BISCUIT from "Rubber Biscuit b/w Oh, My Darlin'" 45 (Josie) 1956 (US)


deodato, carly and carole

creed taylor industries.

Recorded by Eumir Deodato in Brazil, 1972 and featuring a stellar line-up including several members of the original Os Catedráticos (with whom he'd recorded since 1964), the title used for the album's release in Brazil on the Equipe label.

Thanks to the mighty Loronix for filling in some of the blanks. More Deodato.

Unfortunately, I was unable to source any pictures of Carly and Carole getting it on.

EUMIR DEODATO: CARLY AND CAROLE (Dedicated to CARLY SIMON & CAROLE KING) from "Skyscrapers" LP (CTI) 1973 (US/Brazil)


take five

columbia records CS 8192.

Featuring cover art by Neil Fujita, the album comprises all original compositions in a variety of time signatures.

Dave Brubeck
: piano
Paul Desmond: saxophone
Eugene Wright: bass
Joe Morello: drums

Written by Paul Desmond. Wickedly restrained - but flamboyant enough - drumming from Joe Morello in the breaks.

THE DAVE BRUBECK QUARTET: TAKE FIVE from "Time Out" LP (Columbia) 1959 (US)


Saturday, July 19, 2008

sibling whispers #7: les strokes

Switch the dial for a blistering set by The Strokes from 2002, at La Mutualité, Paris, France over on Art Decade. Posted by Mike. Complete with authentic accompanying franco-twittering to make you wish you were actually there. Nice.

san quentin

original punk rocker, and still king of the hill, mr. johnny cash.

JOHNNY CASH: SAN QUENTIN #I from "Johnny Cash At San Quentin" LP (Columbia) 1969 (US)

JOHNNY CASH: SAN QUENTIN #2 from "Johnny Cash At San Quentin" LP (Columbia) 1969 (US)


alan vega & martin rev

my crude photoshop remix.

Suicide toured with the Clash in 1977. Bottles were thrown. People spat. Fucking assholes.

SUICIDE: CHEREE (REMIX) from "Cheree / I Remember" 12" 45 (Red Star) 1978 (UK)


vladimir cosma

kiss by the hotel de ville by robert doisneau, 1950.

Thinking on Emmett and his wife honeymooning close to the Seine as we 'speak', it brought back to me my first - and, alas, only - visit to Paris in the 80's.

It is a city unlike any other. The light, too, diffused and gentle, immediately brings to mind the Impressionists chasing on the heels of those famous street photographs by Robert Doisneau.

These f@ckers didn't paint like that for no good reason; the light itself is genuinely different.

While I was in Paris I walked (literally) in the footsteps of mad genius, Erik Satie on the daily route he took between his squalid studio apartment and the cafés where he passed time in the company of other artists. When I say squalid I don't mean romantically low-rent ; I mean filthily 'apart' in the truest sense, filled with the debris of his long distance work ethic and - allegedly - smeared with his own faeces in some prototype 'dirty protest'. There were no prison warders for him to offend, of course. He installed himself in a Devil's Island of his own making.

I was a good deal younger then, granted, and far more impressionable.

More than any other single composer, I believe Satie was the harbinger of 20th Century music. Everything from three chord rock n' roll to electronic experimentation. Some 'experts' have uncharitably labelled him a charlatan. What the fuck does that mean ? What weight does such a diagnosis ultimately carry ?

Erk Statie was a middle-aged, bespectacled punk who sought and found momentary peace in those silences between notes.

You may recall the seminal French movie "Diva" directed by Jean-Jaques Beineix. The film was revered for its stunning performance by Wilhelmenia Wiggins Fernandez of Alfredo Catalini's aria from "La Wally". More than that, though, Vladimir Cosma demonstrated a devotion to Satie in his accompanying soundtrack.

I hear young muslim gangbangers have all but taken over the Champs-Élysées these days. A boulevard for colours to be flown. The Place Pigalle probably operates a one-stop picture framing service for the tourists.




Friday, July 18, 2008

i have always been here before

roger kynard erickson's
all-seeing eye, or some outlandishly fiendish occult plot ?

This song was recorded in Roky's manager's office in Marin County, California during an acoustic solo performance in which the Aliens were notable by their absence.

"from the gargoyles to stone henge from the sphynx to the pyramids
religious temples praising the devil right

to the devils club as it strikes midnight..."

Hear that first line quoted above ? I'm still not convinced.

Ever since my friend, Gus - an Erickson aficionado - first brought this song to my attention a couple of years after its original release, I have been stone cold certain Roky actually sings "From The Gorbals to Stone Henge"...despite the odds. Even listening to it now, having finally sourced the lyric on the web somewhere in a bid to lay old ghosts to rest, I continue to harbour grave doubts.

Gargoyles just don't do it for me.

Call me crazy, but I have always been here before.

As for Roky, well; he uncovered more plots than in 'The Da Vinci Code', and I still think he's more sane than those people who rushed out to purchase Dan Brown's doorstop of a book.

ROKY ERICKSON: I HAVE ALWAYS BEEN HERE BEFORE from "Gremlins Have Pictures" LP (Pink Dust) 1986 (US)


kankan blues

Quite unbefittingly, this acoustic piece comes not from South Africa but far to the north-west in Mali, on the border with Senegal.

Like Baaba Maal, the mood is lazy and fatalistic.

KANTÉ MANFILA & BALLA KALLA: KANKAN BLUES from "Kankan Blues" CD (Out Of Africa) 1991 (Africa)


keep on pushing

remembering those ordinary people who
refused to bow to tyranny. photograph by james nachtwey.

Nelson Mandela - along with seven others - was imprisoned on Robben Island in 1964 where he served eighteen years of his twenty-seven year sentence. While many people will of course be celebrating his 90th birthday today, let's all try to remember the struggle for democracy on the African continent is ongoing. As the crisis in twisted clown, Mugabe's Zimbabwe deepens just next door - and in South Africa itself with regard to Zimbabwean refugees - it is imperative the world doesn't lose focus. Any Major Dude With Half A Heart remembers his brush with the apartheid Security Branch in the late 80s and makes a compelling case for keeping Mandela's achievement in context while celebrating his triumph. There is no cause to be complacent.

THE IMPRESSIONS: KEEP ON PUSHING from "Keep On Pushing b/w I love You (Yeah)" 45 (Karusell) 1964 (US)


Thursday, July 17, 2008

surf's up

...are you sleeping, brother john ?

Brian Wilson on perhaps one of the most beautiful songs ever recorded:

"One night in early spring 1971 I drove to the beach, parked the car, and walked out onto the deserted sand. If Marilyn, sleeping in a separate bedroom that night, had known where I was going, she would've hidden the car keys, perhaps robbing me of the inspiration that led to one of my best and least-known songs. Of course, she would've had good reason. Lately, I'd been depressed, preoccupied with death. I'd ordered the gardener to dig a grave in the backyard and threatened to drive my Rolls off the Santa Monica pier."

Written by Brian Wilson and Van Dyke Parks. The second arrangement is assembled from original 1966 studio sessions from the aborted "Smile".

THE BEACH BOYS: SURF'S UP from "Surf's Up" LP (Brother) 1971 (US)



SMiLE (2004)

lieutenant pigeon

stop the pigeon...

This song perfectly encapsulates the grey twilight of the early 70's up and down the sewage stoked shores of these hallowed isles.

An era of miners' strikes and constant power cuts as a consequence. Unemptied refuse bins piling on the streets and troops deployed to clean up the decaying heaps.

Nobody seemed to mind too much. The miners were heroic then, the martyrs of Great Britain's declining heavy industry and just in their demands for better pay.

The winter was long and filled
with blackouts; kettles were boiled and baths filled with military precision lest the lights blinked off and caught you in the dark. Children padded home from school through the sleet and snow and watched what they could on the tragic lantern before the cathode rays invariably died.

Late at night their parents secretly cursed those same strikers they countenanced by day. Heavy metal canisters of Calor Gas appeared in every house like early Christmas presents.

Fast forward a mere decade, and the miners had a much tougher time of it as they fought to preserve their jobs and dignity under Tory prime minister, Margaret Thatcher.

This was Lieutenant Pigeon's only big hit. From Wiki:

"A spin-off from the experimental music band, Stavely Makepeace, fronted by Rob Woodward; Lieutenant Pigeon's sound was dominated by the heavy ragtime-style piano played by his mother, Hilda Woodward."

Written by Nigel Fletcher and Woodward - and recorded in Woodward's front room in Coventry with his mum tinkling on the ivories - this was one of Jarvis Cocker's Desert Island Discs when he guested on the very wonderful BBC Radio 4. My station of choice.

Ideal for any funeral as an antidote to the bogus angst of the Big Chill.

LEUTENANT PIGEON: MOULDY OLD DOUGH from "Mouldy Old Dough b/w The Villain" 45 (Decca) 1972 (UK)


Wednesday, July 16, 2008


left to right: brian chevette; ian woodcock; phil rowland; andy blade.

Eater were one of my faves 'back in the day', as the cliché goes. This probably had more to do with their considerable youth - drummer Dee Generate (né Phil Rowland) was purportedly only fourteen years old when the band signed to Dave Goodman's 'The Label' - than their inspired mix of glam and proto-punk, a wicked blend of Alice Cooper; T.Rex; The Velvet Underground; and Bowie. They looked and sounded ridiculously young on record and I was too.

According to Mark Perry's Sniffin' Glue fanzine, issue #8, with regard to their first single:

"...this single is crap. It's not even good crap, it's just a waste of time."

The above condemnation really is
a shame. Mark P. formed the inimitable Alternative TV in Deptford, south-east London in 1976 alongside Glaswegian, Alex Fergusson on guitar, later of Psychic TV. This group in turn - owing more to Zappa and krautrockers, Can - also produced one of the best albums of 1977, "The Image Has Cracked" on Deptford Fun City Records. An invocation of slow motion riot.

And this was a year which produced more great records than you could shake a stick at.

Mark Perry did not often get it so wrong.

From Punk 77:

"Eater produced 5 singles and 1 album in their career spanning from December 1976 to January 1979 and all on Dave Goodman's The Label. They originally had a one year contract that was due to end November '77 but this was extended."

Eater should have been huge; a perfect teenage hybrid of the Ramones and Bay City Rollers. I'm still at a loss why this wasn't the case.

"Walter Lure comes from the USA ; Lou Reed comes from the USA ; Richard Nixon comes from the USA...
Gary Gilmore came from the USA !!"

EATER: OUTSIDE VIEW from "Outside View b/w You" 45 (The Label) 1977 (UK)
EATER: THINKING OF THE USA from "Thinking Of The U.S.A." 45 (The Label) 1977 (UK)
EATER: MICHAEL'S MONETARY SYSTEM from "Thinking Of The U.S.A." 45 (The Label) 1977 (UK)


sibling whispers #6: central podcast

The theme for podcast #120 is threats and promises, and features fourteen contributors. Stay tuned and hear brother Matt's introduction at 15:49 followed by his contribution.

sucking on my ding dong

the velvet underground with john cale in the foreground at the dom, april 1, 1966. Photographs by Andy Warhol.

This is potentially the longest song I might ever get round to posting on SibLINGSHOT ON THE BLEACHERS. Turn up the heat.

I was listening attentively to the Ian Curtis and Joy Division version I posted a couple of days back, and while it was seldom off my turntable in 1981, it occurred to me then that the original just can't be beat.

No, sir. Not by a long short.

I suspect Mr. Beer N. Hockey might wholeheartedly agree. In fact, I may have inadvertently offended his sensibilities by not opting for this classic jazz "fuck you" from the very off.

Recorded at Scepter Studios, New York City in September 1967, the blistering "Sister Ray" not only fields the original and best line-up bar none - featuring Sterling Morrison; John Cale; Maureen Tucker; and Lou - but is also a distinct improvement on the fantastic plastic four's debut. And that is no small achievement.

Stripped of chanteuse, Nico's partridge feather bedding chamber sighs, the sound throughout "White Light / White Heat" is much more an impenetrable spider's web. It drips venom all over the fucking carpet.

No bass either on this one. Just howling electric organ and full-on Vox.

Andy, too, gets kicked to the kerb on production duties. The song is recorded in one fluid take, needle tracks and all. It is a righteous blast which has never been equalled, and perhaps never shall.

A group composition, produced by Tom Wilson - who apparently did little more than punch the record button - and engineered by Greg Kellgren.

The summer of love really ended here. Go suck your ding dong.

I'm counting on the fact that each and every one of you owns this one already, of course.

THE VELVET UNDERGROUND: SISTER RAY from "White Light / White Heat" LP (Verve) 1967 (US)


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

i go to sleep

imogen cunningham (1883 - 1976): the unmade bed, 1957.

Proof once more that sometimes the best songs recorded are those first fragmentary exercises in plucking substance out of the ether.

Better remembered as a 1981 hit for Chrissie Hynde - Davies' then wife - and The Pretenders, the original unreleased demo from sixteen years earlier leaves it completely in the shadow of his unmade bed.

Recorded around the time of "Kinda Kinks", this is possibly my all time favourite Raymond Davies composition.

THE KINKS: I GO TO SLEEP (Bonus, Unreleased Demo) from "Kinda Kinks" CD Reissue (PYE/Castle) 1998 (UK)


kit lambert's hall of the mountain king

the who on target.

From "The Who Sell Out" sessions, which featured collaboration with John 'Speedy' Keene - of Thunderclap Newman - on the track "Armenia City in the Sky".

This manic jam on "Hall of the Mountain King" from Edvard Greig's "Peer Guint Suite", first performed in 1876, was produced by
Kit Lambert at London's Kingsway Studios sometime between may and december, 1967, but didn't make it onto the album. Ultimately, it just didn't conform to the LP's conceptual remit but it was finally reinstated as a bonus track on the remastered CD reissue in 1995.

The faux 'Radio London' jingles which sequence those tracks on the original release were actually produced by PAMS Productions in Dallas, Texas, and prompted a series of law-suits at the time since PAMS - responsible for literally thousands of radio station stings throughout the 60's and 70's - alleged the commercials were reproduced without consent.

THE WHO: HALL OF THE MOUNTAIN KING from "The Who Sell Out (Sessions)" CD Reissue (MCA/Polydor) 1995 (UK)


Monday, July 14, 2008

sibling whispers #5: soul food & a place to eat

untitled anthropometry (ant 100) by yves klein.

Brothers and sisters, ladies and gentlemen; here is a site not to be missed.

The "Voice of Angels", the glass armonica.

If you are in need of repair and your soul hungers for a soothing touch, you really must reach out and shake The Singing Hand. I guarantee you will not be disappointed. Sweet dreams.

and if that don't work...

FACT 40: live at the moonlight club, London; 3rd april, 1980.

Hey man, you shouldn't do that... don't you know you'll stain the carpet.

"...previously unused studio material and a live recording of Joy Division's last concert. Originally planned for release in August, it was eventually released on October 8th 1981."

Probably not as strung out and rarefied as the Velvets, this version nonetheless brooks no bail.

JOY DIVISION: SISTER RAY from "Still" LP (Factory) 1981 (UK)


what the world needs now...

the cat is in his hat, the confession's in the bag.

This post is partly inspired by Matt's latest on Perceptions. Delusions. This Burt Bacharach / Hal David song is pretty much what I imagine cops in the early 70s might have listened to over a martini or two when they came home to an empty apartment after a hard shift on the beat.

Probably, I'm nowhere near the mark.

BURT BACHARACH: WHAT THE WORLD NEEDS NOW IS LOVE from "The Bell That Couldn't Jingle b/w What The World Needs Now..." 45 (A&M) 1968 (US)

TOM CLAY & THE BLACKBERRIES: WHAT THE WORLD NEEDS NOW IS LOVE / ABRAHAM, MARTIN & JOHN (MEDLEY) from "What The World Needs Now... / Abraham, Martin & John (Medley)" 45 (MoWest) 1971 (US)


Sunday, July 13, 2008

not so breaking news: swan fungus in the shit

swan fungus threatens to escalate.

I hadn't checked in on Swan Fungus for a little while, so I was dismayed to learn of this development. Hopefully, this situation might still be amicably resolved...

breaking news: stabbing at t in the park

detail from hieronymus bosch's 'last judgement' (triptych, centre panel), 1482.

Apparently a 22 year old man is fighting for his life after being stabbed at T in the Park. Read about it here.

This just substantiates my denouncement of this event, I feel. On a far more ironic note, folks, at least Altamont fielded a better soundtrack. And it was free.

Police are searching for a man with "mullet style" hair in connection with the incident. I kid you not.

Mad dogs and (non) englishmen.

television personalities: 14th floor redux

stairwell to heaven.

Note the complete absence of graffiti in this picture, clearly demarcating a better 'class' of stairwell.

Of all those not inconsiderable penalties incurred at the expense of one's health - physical or otherwise - as the result of living in a multi-storey block, perhaps the one which rankles most is the lack of facility to take the stairs.

I mention this having just partaken of an especially deep bath, and being startled once again by my thickening midriff.

Certainly, the very act of settling sardine like - as opposed to standing, like any sane person, under a refreshing shower - merely accentuates the problem. What is mentally stored as one's self image, taut and youthful, is immediately dispelled as cruel falsehood. Ha! Ha! Ha!, is the none too gentle truth. When was the last time you wearily huffed and puffed your way through a self-imposed regime of stomach crunches ? What happened to the mind cleansing routine of karmic yoga ?

It is not that I'm rigorously opposed to taking the long way down. I have done it on several occasions - in both directions - despite the fact that the journey covers over twenty floors, and proves quickly exhausting. The worst of it is the stench of piss in the gloomy stairwell which prevents one from stopping to catch one's breath. The sticky slap of one's soles on the stairs.

The stomach turning spectre of the human sized lump of excrement blocking one's path.

I have done the "stairs" on several occasions. Mostly when the power to the lifts has gone down. Once when a murder in those same lifts caused yellow police tape to cordon off the easier route for several long hours.

At least we didn't dip our toes in spilled blood.

This last was not so unpleasant. I was visiting another (identical) tower block with my son, and the stairwell there was considerably better maintained. There were no ill met inebriates or intravenous users hunched on a landing half way up, either. All the lights were on and nobody was at home.

This song by Dan Treacy is not altogether new. I posted it previously over on Art decade. I happen to like it very much, so don't expect any apologies from me for going over the same old ground.

Should you happen to chance on this post, Dan, I hope you are in good health and no longer dwelling in such conditions.

TELEVISION PERSONALITIES: 14th FLOOR from "14th Floor b/w Oxford St. W1" 45 (Overground) 1978 (UK)


goin' back to miami, part iv: end titles

ratso and the cowboy.

Closing our brief Florida Fantasy season, here's the great John Barry, renowned Golden Globe and five-time Academy Award winner.

Best remembered by Harry Nilsson's rendition of Fred Neil's coach-tripping "Everybody's Talkin'", the soundtrack to Midnight Cowboy is crammed full of superb supporting instrumentalisations and mini mind movies to sleaze on.

Released in the same year that 1967's flower child spectators at Altamont Speedway ultimately crashed and burned, Barry presents an entirely breezier take on an era where New Yorkers frozen on the seamier side dream of honeymooning in the Sunshine State.

JOHN BARRY: FLORIDA FANTASY from "Midnight Cowboy" LP (Capitol) 1969 (US)


Saturday, July 12, 2008

wedding song

one to tie the knot two.

Well, well... It would appear today is a big day for Emmett.

Let me be the first in the global village to toast him and his new wife. Hip, Hip Hooray!

"Planet Waves" LP (Columbia) 1974 (US)


pink fairies: down and out in neverneverland

peter pan needn't apply; wendy really ought to bring a chaperone.

Exploding onto the UK scene in 1970 out of the still smouldering ashes of The Deviants and The Pretty Things, Pink Fairies were the darlings of Ladbroke Grove and the underground free press.

Sex Pistols' Johnny Rotten had not one bad word to say of the Fairies, something of an achievement given his zeal to rubbish anything outwith his small coterie built around Finchley, Fullham and the Kings Road. If The Stooges and MC5 were progenitors of punk in the U.S., then Pink Fairies were sperm donors who refused to fuck about.

They also could turn it down a notch too, to great effect, on quieter tracks like "Heavenly Man" which - to my mind - recalls the best of the Twink's ex-band, The Pretty Things, and dare I say it, the Pink Floyd.

Paul Rudolph (guitar, vocals); Sandy Sanderson (bass); Russel Hunter (drums); and the effervescent "Twink" (John Alder) on drums and vocals.

If you can't groove to this LP, you're already dead.

This is much more my cup of tea, down in the park or otherwise. Maybe I should've led off today's preceding post with 'twinks' in the park...

PINK FAIRIES: DO IT from "NeverNeverLand" LP (Polydor) 1971 (UK)

PINK FAIRIES: HEAVENLY MAN from "NeverNeverLand" LP (Polydor) 1971 (UK)

PINK FAIRIES: WAR GIRL from "NeverNeverLand" LP (Polydor) 1971 (UK)


t in the park

twats in the park.

I'm not a fan of music festivals, I must confess. There is something about queuing up in the rain to file into a huge open space flanked by portable toilets waiting to throw up their effluent which sets my teeth
on edge.

Would you bed down on a concrete stable floor on minimum wages just to muck out for R.E.M. and the Verve ?

This weekend's 'T' in the Park festival in Balado, Kinross-Shire, Scotland is no exception. Rest assured, I shall not be there.

For a hilariously scathing - in the main - account of 1985's Live Aid fiasco, head over to Any Major Dude With Half A Heart. You won't be disappointed. And you can reLIVE it from the comfort of your very own sagging chair in front of your monitor.

Hunching curmudgeonly crab-like over a table in some dimly lit venue is infinitely more my style.

I do like Tennents' Lager, though.

And they've banned consuming alcohol in public spaces, too. What is the world coming to ?