Saturday, January 31, 2009

dirty. tricks!!

SEEZ 04.

Norman Watt-Roy: bass; Charley Charles: drums;
Edward Speight: guitar; Chas Jankel: guitar keyboards;
Geoff Castle: Moog;
Davey Payne: saxophone;
Ian Dury: vocals.

Produced and recorded by Laurie Latham, Peter Jenner and Rick Walton.
Photograph by Chris Gabrin.

IAN DURY: PLAISTOW PATRICIA from "New Boots And Panties!!" LP (Stiff) 1977 (UK)


put your boots on your feet

TI 7050.

The history of Caribbean migration to the UK is well documented, but full of contradictions and convoluted misrepresentation.

Between the end of World War II in 1945 and 1960, Britain offered free entry to its shores for all Commonwealth citizens, including returning soldiers who fought for Queen and Country. The infrastructure and economy had been severely weakened by six years of pouring its resources into the war, and Britain - like the rest of Europe - was forced to rebuild. Restrictions were deliberated on in Parliament and broadly introduced in the summer of 1962, but despite growing concerns which were to culminate in Enoch Powell's "Rivers of Blood" speech in 1968, there remained a real need to shoar up a vacuum in this burgeoning era of economic prosperity. In short, British workers could pick and choose.

As the direct result of a shortage of unskilled labour, the British government appealed for migrants from the Caribbean to fill those vacancies; jobs paying under the minimum wage. Many of those who responded were adults in their 50s perceiving a better standard of living awaited them. Indeed, there also existed no small demand for taxi and bus drivers offering a significantly higher wage.

Contrary to those advertisments placed in order to cultivate interest, those migrants were far from welcomed with open arms. Many of those new arrivals gravitated to areas offering the most inadequate housing then available, and - alienated by the indigenous white working class - became largely disintegrated from existing cultural mores.

Newcomers looking for short term lodgings were greeted with handwritten signs in windows declaring: ‘No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs’.

Skinhead culture, of course, originally had its origins in Jamaica, an off-shoot of the popular Rude Boy dance hall movement back in Kingston. It found a second home here in the UK, and was quickly adopted by disaffected white urban youth whose own roots lay in the Mod scene which had earlier embraced black soul and Tamla Motown.

By 1969, the release of Symarip's "Skinhead Moonstomp b/w Must Catch A Train" - as a 45 on the tiny Treasure Isle imprint - officially announced the skinhead's arrival. Written by Monty Neysmith and Roy Ellis, and produced by Graeme Goodal - loosely in celebration of the '69 NASA moon landing - the song is clearly Jamaican in origin; a command to "put your braces together and your boots on your feet." A call to arms as much as an entreaty to party. It would be naive, and quite unfounded, to suggest as others have done elsewhere that this adoption of West Indian culture on the part of young white working class youth had anything to do with with racial connection or parity. The movement was a very conscious rejection of the Summer of Love and what were perceived as very middle class aspirations. In the decade to follow, with its crippling union action and economic recession, tv sitcoms like "Love Thy Neighbour" would be considered legitemate fodder for family entertainment. Oh, and if you'd asked a Caribbean immigrant then if he considered it possible for a black man ever to be elected to the Whitehouse he might not have laughed out loud, but I'd comfortably wager his white counterpart would have.

Never feel obliged to romanticize the past.

In the late 1960s one could not set oneself more apart from the prevaiing cultural norm than by donning oversized military style boots and shaving one's head. Less than thirty years after the liberation of Aushwitz, and old wounds still open or infected with guilt, as a 'look' it was deliberately confrontational. Peace and Love was very obviously not on the agenda.

This was football; fighting; dancing; and fucking. In that order.

Encouraged by its success, Trojan re-released the 45, and subsequently released a full album by Symarip in 1970.

You may have noticed that the images illustrating this post appeared in a very recent piece including an audio link. Yet again, the threat of DMCA action has prompted another Blogger Takedown. Having found a wealth of written material on this very subject which bears little resemblence to the actuality of that first wave of skinheads so far as I recall, I made the decision to expand on that original post rather than simply republish it as a token of defiance. Unfortunately, you will have to forgo any relevant accompaniment.


Friday, January 30, 2009

pensioners in gas meter scam

"Can I please see your most recent bill, sir ?"

Door to door tea-leafs looking to inveigle their way into the homes of the elderly, beware. Alerted to a bogus meter reader, this fragile OAP reaches inside his cardigan pocket for a well-oiled 9mm Parabellum.

Recent statistics suggest that as many as four in ten pensioners are suspected intravenous users. Police advise waiting until they are on the nod - generally anytime between the Trisha Goddard Show and Countdown - before even considering catching one off guard.

According to PC James R. Sneake, a community liaison officer for the Glasgow South-Side Division, there is an alarming trend for the elderly to seek out narcotics in a salacious attempt to hibernate through the winter months.

"Too impoverished to adequately heat their homes, " PC Sneake informed us, "a lot of those old bastards will shoot up virtually anything just to blot out the cold."

The trend is expected to worsen in line with the current economic downturn.

"Who knows when the situation will stabilize," he continued. "Some of these f@ckers are even turning to prostitution in a bid to finance their habit. It would certainly appear they have no shame."

Visibly disgusted, he added:

"In my day, a bottle of Jamieson's and half a brick of shortbread was considered quite adequate. But not now. They seem determined to chase the illegitimate, non-taxable high. Who knows where it will end ? I never once imagined I might live to say this, but I consider myself fortunate that both my parents are dead."

Producerd by Craig Leon and Tommy Erdelyi.
Recorded at Plaza Sound, Radio City Music Hall, NYC.

With a tip of the trilby to Doc 40. And a pinch of salt.

RAMONES: YOU SHOULD NEVER HAVE OPENED THAT DOOR (DEMO) from "Ramones" CD Remaster (Sire / Rhino 2 x CD) 1976 / 2001 (US)


chain gang cupid

"cerambycidae #1". photograph by insect lab

"Aren't you going to do something," she demanded.
"No, Bill," he replied, dismissing Mildred and
choosing to address the organ-grinder face to face.
" I'm all out of rejoinders, and - besides -
this game was fucking rigged right from the start."

Vinyl rip from Office Naps.

CHARLIE'S WAY: CHARLIES TUNE from "Charlie b/w Charlie's Tune" 45 (Revlon: "A Charlie Record") 1974 (US)

Thursday, January 29, 2009

club minutes: dealing with cancer

"What the fuck was that ?"

Ralph Hubert "Sonny" Barger, 1965.

Every time I see Oakland flash up on Feedjit, I start a little (Frank; if that's you, apologies).
A hard-nosed businessman to the last, I'm not quite convinced Sonny Barger would approve of this choice cut, but I'm all out of Merle Haggard.

Still. If Harley-Davidson and (much older) Indian motorcycles were the officially ubiquitous oil-bleeding bad boys Stateside, Norton - alongside Triumph, naturally - was their very British counterpart.

HASIL ADKINS: WE GOT A DATE from "Out To Hunch: West Virginia Recordings (1955-65)" LP (Norton) 1986 (US)




albert with an 'e'

Albert Speer ; before and after an 'e'.

photographs by david lees, 1970.

ec•sta•sy |ˌɛkstəsi|
noun ( pl. -sies)
1 an overwhelming feeling of great happiness or joyful excitement : there was a look of ecstasy on his face | they went into ecstasies over the view. See note at rapture .
2 chiefly archaic an emotional or religious frenzy or trancelike state, originally one involving an experience of mystic self-transcendence.
3 ( Ecstasy) an illegal amphetamine-based synthetic drug with euphoric and hallucinatory effects, originally promoted as an adjunct to psychotherapy. (abbr.: MDMA) .

ORIGIN late Middle English (sense 2 ): from Old French extasie, via late Latin from Greek ekstasis ‘standing outside oneself,’ based on ek- ‘out’ + histanai ‘to place.’

Had only they been able to introduce some MDMA into der
Führer's tea... we all might have been able to make sense of his vegetarianism.

"Now they know how many holes it takes to fill the Albert Hall..."

Apologies to anyone arriving here seeking out the Shamen. Think on it as a strictly limited edition; hardly fair, but no more than one might legitimately expect. We live in a constantly changing paradigm...

for your digital delectation

Written by Eric Spear - no relation to Albert with an 'e' - in 1960:
"a cornet piece, accompanied by a brass band plus clarinet and double bass."

A then unknown musician from Wimslow, David Browning, was contracted by Granada Television (ITV) to supply trumpet for the original theme - and its re-recording in 1964 - for the princely sum of £36. Of course, had he opted instead for royalty fees he would still be coining it in today. Under two score no doubt seemed like a relatively huge sum half a century ago.

As upbeat as Weatherfield, Greater Manchester itself.

If you ever wondered why Steven Patrick Morrissey is such an unapologetic miserablist, here is your cue.

DAVID BROWNING: CORONATION STREET THEME from "Coronation Street" (Granada Television) 1960 - 2009 (UK)


goodbye coney island

Two years ago, apparently, the Brooklyn Museum staged a small exhibition of no more than 50 photographs entitled "Goodbye Coney Island".

"The collection "traces the evolution of this fabled part of New York over the past 125 years," over which time it has undergone many transformations."

I would have liked to have seen that. This is where the internet excels; as a means of bridging the geographical gulf.

ho•mun•cu•lus |hɒˌmʌŋkjʊləs|
noun ( pl. -li |-lʌɪ|or -les )
a very small human or humanoid creature.
• historical a supposed microscopic but fully formed human being from which a fetus was formerly believed to develop.

ORIGIN mid 17th cent.: from Latin, diminutive of
homo, homin- ‘man.’

Glenn Jones: guitars; Chris Fujiwara: bass;
Chris Guttmacher: drums, percussion; Robin Amos: vocals, synthesizer.

And, yes, the second featured track from this indispensable album does sound uncannily like Krautrockers, the mighty Can.

CUL DE SAC: STRANGER AT CONEY ISLAND from "ECIM" LP (Northeastern) 1993 (US)

CUL DE SAC: HOMUNCULUS from "ECIM" LP (Northeastern) 1993 (US)


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

anatomy of a sketch

detail from "anatomy of the neck".

from the sketchbooks of leonardo da vinci.

Very often, the working sketch delivers more of interest than the finished article; certainly, it reveals more on the mechanics of the creative process and the thinking from concept to final delivery. It is the same in music. In many cases, the very polish of post-production may detract from the rudimentary vitality of the demo or live performance. The definitive 'end product' may disappoint precisely because it tries too hard.

The choice of producer is often key; as is the faith an artist places on his own editorial capability. Phil Spector is an obvious candidate in support of this argument. Lennon vetoed the democratic process and ran off with the master tapes for the album which was to be released as "Let it Be". His trust in Spector was implicit and impulsive in equal measure, in sp
ite or because of the artistic integrity allowed George Martin for the better part of a decade. Moreover, it was Lennon's intent to close McCartney down and usurp the authority of partnership.

Similarly, Leonard Cohen made the decision to "collaborate" with Spector on "Death of a Ladies Man" and repented at his leisure as he witnessed the legendary Sam Peckinpah of the recording studio hijack his project entirely.

Of course, the demand fo
r more insight on the part of the 'consumer' presents a rich seam to be mined retrospectively by the Recording Industry; the opportunity to generate still more profit without investing in the standard - and escalating - costs of delivering 'product' from scratch.

Beatles fans deliberated privately for years as to how "Let It Be" might have sounded had Spector been denied the keys to an armoury volatile enough bring about a military coup. They had to wait 33 years - 23 years after Lennon's assassination - until "Let It Be... Naked" was ultimately repackaged with Martin reinstated behind the desk.

The end result, so far as I am concerned, is far from conclusive. Undoubtably, I can do without those saccharine strings Spector imposed on "The Long and Winding Road"; but then again, I always f@cking hated that song anyway. But what about "Get Back" ? Arguably the best song on the 1970 LP, and the album's original working title. Come on. Without Spector's hamfisted touch, what was once a blistering finale soon pales into the dental x-ray of an elderly daschund with no appreciable bite.

And that alone leaves those reheated leftovers hard to swallow.

Ultimately - as is often the case - I tend to side with John's original gut reaction. Phil is definitely a dangerous idiot - with all the subtelty of a .357 magnum loaded on coke and one too many martinis - but man, does he pack some punch.

And then again, I could wax on about this song's origins; but like somebody once said... let sleeping dogs lie.

THE BEATLES: GET BACK from "Let It Be" LP (Apple) 1970 (UK)

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



old tongues

"the ladies' lament from the ballad of sir patrick spens".
elizabeth eleanor siddal, 1856.

"In the reign of Alexander III of Scotland, his daughter Margaret was escorted by a large party of nobles to Norway for her marriage to King Eric; on the return journey many of them were drowned. Twenty years later, after Alexander's death, his grand-daughter Margaret, the Maid of Norway, was heiress to the Scottish throne, and on the voyage to Scotland she died."

To reiterate. From Wiki:

"Born in 1950 into a Romany (Roma) family, Jackie Leven spent his childhood and teenage years clearly marked out as an outsider in the clannish, insular world that was Fife, Scotland at that time. Although Scottish himself, neither of his parents were from the area - his father was an Irish Cockney
, his mother was from a large Northumberland (Geordie) family, and adapting to existing cultural norms was a hard, if not formidable task for such incomers."

A traditional Scots lament.

JACKIE LEVEN: SIR PATRICK SPENS from "Fairytales For Hard Men" LP (Cooking Vinyl) 1997 (UK)


jackdaws and crows


a small, gray-headed crow that typically nests in tall buildings and chimneys, noted for its inquisitiveness. • Genus Corvus, family Corvidae: two species, in particular the Eurasian C.

Jackdaws are very cool birds. Ferociously intelligent but not as obviously malefic as carrion crows or ravens. I am guessing they have a lot in common with their ancestral velociraptors.

I am no ornithologist, and I am fond of domestic cats, so this is purely conjecture in the loosest sense.

A long time ago now, I lived next door to a small farm. I have witnessed firsthand the lethal work of crows hunting in packs; dropping off fence-posts and telegraph wires to worry sheep and feast on newborn lambs. They go for the eyes. Plucking them up like precious gems. Ravens, especially, have a bad reputation. In folklore they are harbingers of doom, their song the voice of the dead. In times of war they are notoriously populous. Hanging over battlefields in droves and feeding on the fallen.

Jackdaws, like magpies, have more agreeable traits. Natural thieves, they are drawn to small shiny objects - jewelry - which they covet and use to line their nests just like young women in synthetic leisurewear:

"A covetous fellow, like a jackdaw, steals what he was never made to enjoy, for the sake of hiding it."

- John Gray, "Beggars Opera", 1728.

Of course. All that glitters will eventually rust.

PINK FLOYD: THE SCARECROW from "The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn" LP (Columbia EMI) 1967 (UK)


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

mildew on my mirrorball...

And lava on my lamp.

Twin snare attack from the most kick-ass, bubblegum-baiting, glam backing band Mike Leander could hope for. Also released as a 45 in July, 1974. Going it alone for a string of hits, they sounded infinitely snide and genuinely antagonistic. Don't allow the discomforting guilt by association force you to turn the other cheek.

John Springate: bass, vocals; Gerry Shepard: guitar, vocals;
Harvey Ellison and John Rossall: saxophones;
Pete Phipps and Tony Leonard: drums.

Produced by Mike Leander.
Written by Gerry Shepard and John Rossall.

THE GLITTER BAND: JUST FOR YOU from "Hey!" LP (Bell) 1974 (UK)


richard allen lvs mick ronson

LF 13723 .

Formed in a dreary suburb of Manchester in 1976 and billed support to the Sex Pistols at a gig in the Lesser Free Trade Hall in that same year (The Buzzcocks also made an impromptu appearance), Slaughter & The Dogs were the missing link between the Glitter Band, football terraces and punk. Their first 45, "Cranked Up Really High b/w The Bitch" was released in May, 1977 on Rabid Records - not to be confused with the significantly younger and trendier Swedish label - also the original home to sterling performance poet, John Cooper Clarke, with his Curious Yellows. And the Nosebleeds.

The follow-up was released on Decca as a 12", and of course I was among those intellectually challenged fresh-faced upstarts who rushed along to my local independent record shop to purchase a copy. Not clever, no, but good fun all the same. After a fashion. It all depends on how inebriated or sickly tense you are.

Wayne Barrett: vocals; Mike Rossi: guitar;
Howard 'Zip' Bates: bass; Brian 'The Mad Muffet' Grantham: drums.

Produced by Nick Tauber; engineered by Adrian Martin.

Rumour has it that Wayne Barrett later became a successful used car salesman, although this development is possibly apocryphal.

A rather silly piece of rabid nostalgia.

SLAUGHTER & THE DOGS: WHERE HAVE ALL THE BOOT BOYS GONE ? from "Where Have All The Boot Boys Gone ? b/w You're A Bore" 12" 45 (Decca) 1977 (UK)



Monday, January 26, 2009

paradise lost

engraving by lodovico cardi cigoli, 1559-1613.

Beelzebub stands immobilized in ice, tethered to the centre of the earth.

Possibly, his birth sign is Taurus. If you looked up at the stars once upon a time, you just might have seen him tumbling past Hyades.

Be•el•ze•bub |bɪˌɛlzɪbʌb|
a name for the Devil.

ORIGIN from late Latin Beëlzebub, translating Hebrew ba‛al zĕ b ū b ‘lord of flies,’ the name of a Philistine god (2 Kings 1:2), and Greek Beelzeboul ‘the Devil’ (Matt. 12:24).

Formed in Cardiff, Wales, 1966 and their first release for the label most famous for deploying tin soldiers in Itchycoo Park.

"Originally written by Lucio Battisti for Patty Pravo as "Il Paradiso" it was translated into English by Jack Fishman and was recorded by the group Amen Corner as their debut single for their new record label Immediate Records and produced by Shel Talmy."

Bubblegum with just a hint of fish n' chips.

Andy Fairweather-Low: vocals; Neil Jones: guitar; Allan Jones: saxaphone;
Mike Smith: tenor saxophone;
Michael John "Blue" Weaver: keyboards;
Clive Taylor: bass; Dennis Byron: drums

AMEN CORNER: (IF PARADISE) IS HALF AS NICE from "(If Paradise) Is Half As Nice b/w Hey Hey Girl" 45 (Immediate) 1969 (UK)

anonymous crack


A b-side I've played more times than may be strictly sensible. Stay off the tracks.

Malcolm Owen: vocals; Paul Fox: guitar;

John "Segs" Jennings: bass; Dave Ruffy: drums.

"For Malcolm who lived for the crack - shine on."

THE RUTS: THE CRACK from "West One (Shine On Me) b/w The Crack" 45 (Virgin) 1980 (UK)


Sunday, January 25, 2009

hole in one

The sky is a deep blue bleeding into black like a bruise in full bloom, but if you look straight into it you can see the faint yellow corona of light pollution from all those little sprawling towns and - further out still - the hub. A web of twinkling Christmas tree lamps. A daisy chain of faltering blips and wish you were here lies.

There are stars up there too but the vinyl interior gets in the way.

A hoarfrost is collecting on the fences and trees but inside the car it is warm. They rolled out onto the greens forty minutes ago and sit idling now on the 9th hole.

"Fuck sake, you silly cunt," Peter says from the back seat. "There's already three on the go. Wind down the windows a bit."

Paterson sniffs and continues rolling the joint. The glove compartment lid is down on his knees, and the glow from the dashboard, and he flicks the wheel on his Zippo. When they rolled in off the back-road he slipped the tab from inside the lighter case, and thinking twice, ripped only half off before swallowing it. He has to work in the morning and he would be better off at home in bed right now. He feels more drunk than stoned and the alcohol fuels the current mood of defiance. He knows he will regret it.

Donald pulls on a joint and hits the button which makes the windows slide down smoothly. It's his car. He can do what the fuck he likes in the final analysis.

The cold air rushes in and sobers them all a little. There is not enough of a breeze to disturb the Rizla papers.

"Ha!" Peter laughs,"That's fuckin' better!" He and Mikey punch each other back there in the dark and fidget like schoolgirls. Mikey drains a bottle and hurls it out the passenger window.

There is a lot of inconsequential bickering and Paterson is unsure how much time has passed. Peter is trying hard to ride his case, but he is limber and relaxed and shrugs it off. Donald switches the headlights back on again and the halogen glare reaches deep into the hedgerow bordering the drop. Putting those big lights on is reckless. If the police pass by on the road they will be seen.

"Are you up on it, yet, you daft cunt ?" Peter asks. "It's three o' fuckin' clock in the morning, you stupid fuck!"

Paterson turns to say something but at the same moment catches something out the corner of his eye.
A naked figure sprints out of the darkness directly in front of their car, stick thin and white and trailing a mane of lank hair. It lunges past, its scissoring limbs picked clean as bones in the headlights, and turns to them with its mouth hanging open. There is something awful in its eyes; a baleful germ of recognition which makes Paterson's hair stand on end.

They are all peering through the windscreen, the dog breath on it, then it is gone.

Just moths and crane flies.

"What the fuck was that ?" Paterson gasps.

Nobody says anything for a moment. Peter and Mikey start giggling.

"What ?" he says. "What the fuck are you talking about, you crazy cunt ?"

illustration: "ludifero" by franz von stuck, 1891.

where the spirits are

photograph by Eliot Elisofon, 'Life Magazine', 1959.

Female guitarist, Pirako Kurenai and her male accomplice, Kageo. With a nod to Swan Fungus.

SUISHOU NO FUNE: YOUR TEARS FALL FROM THE SKY from "Where The Spirits Are" CD (Holy Mountain) 2006 (Japan)


Saturday, January 24, 2009

new years's resolution

The apartment was a small collection of rooms she knew only too well. It was not just that it was limited. She had spent so much of the past eight years in here that each skeletal skelf standing upright between its floorboards had grown as familiar as the fingers on one hand.

"Fuck," she said. "You need to get out of here. We need to get out of here."

He looked up at her and nodded. Lit another cigarette and exhaled a plume of acrid smoke. He thought it covered his sigh. She heard it all the same.

She had grown sick of his sighing. He, in turn, was weary of her constant protests; interruptions; and dismissals. He was just plain tired.

"Yeah. You said that earlier," he said.

He neglected to add that not five minutes before, he had given up the same response. He watched a larder beetle drop into a gap between the floorboards to escape a shaft of paling sunlight. It wasn't that they were everywhere. It was that the actuality of their cohabitation was tacit which aggravated him more than just a little. And their deftness in eluding rent. They scurried while he squatted.

She looked at him in disgust and hurried into the kitchen. He overheard the sound of crockery scraping and knocking against the taps. The sound of running water and plumbing groaning. He wondered how many cups might survive the tea making ritual on this occasion ? If he would be prompted to go outside and grudgingly purchase some more.

"You know, " she said, her colour rising in spite of her determination to remain unperturbed. "You really ought to do something."

He belched out more smoke, and rose to his feet irritably as the coughing started up again.

He could hear the children fighting in the next room.

"Yeah, " he said. "You said that earlier."

loudon done right

Emmett and Mike over on Art Decade have whipped up something of an Alex Chilton and Big Star limousine buffet this past week. You might not want to miss it. A good deal of those tracks (and the odd supporting link) featured are kind of hard to find.

This Loudon Wainright III song - a studio version of the Chilton acoustic segment originally aired on WLIR Radio in 1974 - is just a small taste of what's on offer. I am loving listening to this but it has plunged me into a minor dark night of the soul. The brandy does little to help matters, of course. I will weather the storm. I just have to remind myself to lock away those razor blades.

Excuse me while I go 'pop' some olives. Or make some cheese on toast.

All that's missing is a Gideon's Bible.

BIG STAR: MOTEL BLUES (DEMO) from "Ardent Studio Sessions (1972-73)" CD (Bootleg) 1973 (US)

$6 motel recovery

My PC is badly in need of one of its regular dusting downs; a time-consuming process which fills me with dread. It has already gone into thermal shutdown mode twice this morning in order to protect itself from permanent damage, so if I suddenly disappear into the ether you will know the reason why.

My Hard Drive is choking on unnecessary data. My memory is failing. Were REM not senior citizens - or close to it - they would probably have called themselves RAM. As it is, I tend to be less gung-ho about such technical matters than someone significantly younger.

I perspire and curse a lot, and my hands perceptibly tremble.

And that's just on account of the alcohol.

My reference to Topanga Canyon in a recent post no doubt prompted me to dig this out. I've touched on Spirit previously - their 1968 debut, specifically - but since we are at the beginning of a new year, it seems fitting to dredge up a release from 40 years ago precisely... Actually, I have also featured "Ice" from "Clear", too, so just to keep the threadbare Charlie theme running a while longer let's turn our attention to their second release for Ode - an imprint of Columbia - "The Family that Plays Together Stays Together".

Not as jazz oriented as either their debut or "Clear", this LP, I would argue, is far more conventially alligned and radio friendly. This track showcases some nicely underplayed acoustic work from the late Randy California. The sound of Los Angeles, CA before Helter Skelter.

Randy California: guitar, vocals; Mark Andes: bass; Ed Cassidy: drums;
John Locke: keyboards; Jay Ferguson: vocals, percussion.

Produced by Lou Adler.

SPIRIT: SHE SMILES from "The Family That Plays Together Stays Together" LP (Ode/Columbia) 1968 (US)

an unaccountably false economy

beware of false profits.

And trumped up balance sheets. The money-lenders conjure them up out the darkness only to justify their bonus.

In spite of those recent bail-outs and very public censure, the practice of collecting obscenely huge bonuses appears to continue quite unabated.

detail, "the money-lenders" by quentin metsys, c. 1515.

Friday, January 23, 2009

charlie don't surf

Capitol 2530.

Blank Stares and Cricket Claps put together a post in December last celebrating the sometimes overlooked vocal talent of - genuine surfing - Beach Boy, Dennis Wilson. Dennis, of course, got in some bad out of family company with one Charles Manson, and that post featured "Never Learn Not To Love" from 1969's "20/20", allegedly co-written with Spahn Ranch's most wanted.

Charlie don't surf, but Dennis does.

On June 19th, 1969 Capitol released "Break Away", a joint Brian Wilson and Reggie Dunbar composition, as a summer 45. In the previous month of that same year, Terry Melcher visited Spahn Ranch to "audition" Manson with Family female members lending support. By June, Charlie had began his babbling with regard to "Helter Skelter" in earnest, and by the time Bobby Beausoleil was dispatched with Mary Brunnner and Susan "Sexy Sadie" Atkins (aka Sadie Mae Glutz)† to extort neighbour, Gary Hinman in the run up to the Tate murders, this song would have been all over the radio. The encounter with Hinman in his Topanga Canyon residence ended with Beausoleil stabbing him to death after holding him hostage for a couple of days. One of his female accomplices daubed a Black Panther paw print on the walls in Hinman's spilled blood, and smeared the words "Political Piggy". Breaking away was never a realistic option with Charlie on the prowl.

Helter Skelter. Coming down fast.

Produced by Brian and his ogre of a father, Murray Wilson, this has always been one of my favourite Beach Boys singles. "20/20" was to be the last album release for the Capitol label. The effects of Wilson Sr.'s bullying were to linger well into the next decade and beyond, much like those correctional facility childhood ghosts which continue, doubtless, to fester and feed Manson's institutional madness.

† Thanks to Nathan Ø for noticing my 'squeaky 'gaff. Incidentally, that mugshot of Manson reminds me of a colour R. Crumb strip I have secreted somewhere which alludes to the origins of Mr. Natural as ex-con, pimp and petty gumball machine thief. Comic book art in imitation of something darker. And still f@ckin' funny.

THE BEACH BOYS: BREAK AWAY from "Break Away b/w Celebrate The News" 45 (Capitol) 1969 (US)


peter's trip

Paul Beaver: synthesizer; Michael Bloomfield: guitar;
Harvey Brooks: bass; Marcus Doubleday: trumpet, flugelhorn;
Barry Goldberg: organ, piano, harpsichord;
Nick Gravenites: guitar, vocals; Bobby Notkoff: violin;
Buddy Miles: percussion; Peter Strazza: saxophone.

A cautiously representative sample from the score to the 1967 cinematic fest which was the love child of Peter Fonda and Jack Nicholson. Sidewalk was a subsidiary of Capitol, under the creative wing of Mike Curb.

There are unexpected encounters with brilliance peppered through this, like finding sparkling veins on a subway wall.

THE ELECTRIC FLAG: PETER'S TRIP from "The Trip (Soundtrack)" LP (Sidewalk) 1967 (US)
THE ELECTRIC FLAG: SYNESTHESIA from "The Trip (Soundtrack)" LP (Sidewalk) 1967 (US)
THE ELECTRIC FLAG: GREEN & GOLD from "The Trip (Soundtrack)" LP (Sidewalk) 1967 (US)

Speaking of trips, visit this recent post on Doc 40 with its link to New Scientist, for a mindwarping exploration of the universe as hologram. Philip K. Dick would have lapped it up.


Thursday, January 22, 2009


VIN 45013.

Beware nobody's watching you, brothers and sisters. Loose lips sink ships; shop your granny; who are the brain police ?

SEX PISTOLS: SATELLITE from " Holidays In The Sun b/w Satellite" 45 (Virgin) 1977 (UK)


i iive on the west side...

For some, gambling is a motherf@ckin' religion.
Do they hack your limbs off for that ? Or stone you to death in a football stadium ? Oh shit, pardon me; only if you're a woman or don't have enough dough to grease some sweaty f@cker's palm. Pardon me. I'm forgetting myself.


I don't think I like you, you anonymous c*nt.

GENE PITNEY: MECCA (SPANISH VERSION) from "Gene Pitney: Español" LP (Musicor) 1966 (US)


f@ck you and the horse you rode in on

scam 101.

Jon posted California's The Dils some time back with good reason, so in reply here's The Germs.

Written by Darby Crash; Lorna Doon; Pat Smear, "
Forming" is generally conceded as representing the first punk 45 to come out of Los Angeles, California.

And what a ge(

"...recorded on a Sony 2-track in Pat's garage and arrived back from the pressing plant with the note, "Warning: This record causes ear cancer" printed on the sleeve by the plant staff, much to the band's displeasure."

This, their second single, remains my personal favourite. Despite the contentious imagery, which I am quite convinced "anonymous" will secretly (or otherwise) relish: here and here. F@cking delusional, presumptuous simpleton.

Vinyl rip courtesy of Killed by Death Records.

THE GERMS: LEXICON DEVIL from "Lexicon Devil b/w Circle One / No God" 45 (Slash) 1978 (US)


wainright's gentlemen

A Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman concoction.

Starting out with good intentions as a soul outfit - Wainright's Gentlemen, in 1965, featuring one Ian Gillan - Connolly, Priest and Tucker soon stopped off at the Sweetshop and filled up on plenty of bubblegum. Glam without the glamour; just a heap of alcohol abuse and rampant cynicism.

Brian Connolly: vocals; Steve Priest: bass, vocals; Andy Scott: guitars, vocals, keyboards; Mike Tucker: drums, vocals.

THE SWEET: LITTLE WILLY from "Little Willy b/w Man From Mecca" 45 (Bell) 1972 (UK)


wash and go

I grew up with this song. An overly dramatic changeling from the start, easily given to outbursts of melancholia bordering on the derisively maudlin.

Originally released as a 45 on Monument in 1964, next to "Running Scared" this has has always been my favourite Roy Orbison moment; the David Lynch movie, "Blue Velvet" did little to alter that fact. It peaked at No. 9 (revolution) on the Billboard Charts, but made the No. 1 spot here in the UK, where record buyers may have been fewer in number but made up for it by being more attuned to quiet desperation. Something to do with the rain, probably.

Composed - in the operatic sense - by Roy Orbison and Bill Dees.

Of course, the longer you grow in the tooth the more you realize it's less to do with the "l" word than just getting on with it. The melodrama is just an unwanted complication; a tv movie you somehow can't switch off.

I've been saving this for a while.
Like that last cigarette in the packet.

ROY ORBISON: IT'S OVER from "It's Over b/w Indian Wedding" 45 (Monument) 1964 (US)


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

cellular mutation

Why ?
doesn't a reputable telecommunications corporation invest in the development of a cellphone incorporating a built-in cigarette lighter?

I would certainly purchase one. Not only would it conserve limited pocket space; one might also entertain callers with the gasping soundtrack to a lingering death by infinitesimal degree.

My original intention was to use "Light My Fire" as a punch-line here, but since that's a trifle obvious let's go instead with something very similar in treatment - complete with keyboard solo* - originally penned by Burt Bacharach and Hal David for Dionne Warwick. Ha! But then I changed my mind (or what's left of it) again...

Goodbye George.

* The Stranglers: Walk on By, 1978, from the white vinyl UA 7" freebie featuring a three minute organ fill by Dave Greenfield very much of the same flavour as Ray Manzarek's.

DIONNE WARWICK: WALK ON BY from "Make Way For Dionne Warwick" LP (Scepter) 1964 (US)


i forgot to remember...

Sun 223.

An impulsive reaction, partially in response to the optimistic charge of watching Barack Obama's inauguration and the ushering out of the infinitely corrupt on tv, and - more directly - in reply to How Marvellous's very recent mention of Jim Jarmusch's excellent slow burning 1989 budget anthology.

Written by Herman "Junior" Parker and Sam Phillips. The b-side to the original 45 was a Charlie Feathers' composition.

ELVIS PRESLEY, SCOTTY AND BILL: MYSTERY TRAIN from "Mystery Train b/w I Forgot To Remember To Forget" 45 (Sun) 1955

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


march 4th, 1865; inauguration, the second.

verb [ trans. ]
begin or introduce (a system, policy, or period) : he inaugurated a new policy of trade and exploration.
• admit (someone) formally to public office : the new president will be inaugurated on January 20.
• mark the beginning or first public use of (an organization or project) : the museum was inaugurated on September 12.

ORIGIN late 16th cent.: from Latin inaugurat- ‘interpreted as omens (from the flight of birds),’ based on augurare ‘to augur.’

I thought I was getting a bargain. A pair of jeans for - substantially - under a tenner. And not too bad a cut.

Of course, since I have recently persuaded myself - with no real evidence - that I have visibly shed some weight, I purposefully went down a "dress size" at the time of purchase. They have lounged in their plastic carrier bag for the past couple of weeks, until today, when I was looking for something to wear for an especially pressing engagement; a 'back to work' focused interview for lone parents with (or without) a lone ranger fetish.

Bathed and shaved, I donned a fresh pair of still fairly damp socks and padded off in search of those jeans. I gave up long ago on any attempt to appear trendy or even vaguely up to date with current sartorial fashion for the younger man. I sucked in my gut and wrestled the denim over my thighs. There was a brief moment of irritability as I struggled with the zipper - no button fly for me - and it was then I realised the garment was lacking a button (or stud, or whatever the f@ck you call it). The very thing required to fasten yourself in without resorting to some William Shatner inspired corsetry.

Some f@cking bargain.

Frugality is very often a false economy. And no indicator of common sense, it would seem. You might just have to start the inaugural ball without me.

Oh. And in case you're wondering... That "lone ranger fetish" reference ? Getting up in rubber masks and skin tight baby blue romper suits is not my bag, but it does remind my of a very peculiar and funny story...

Monday, January 19, 2009


"guard duty station". photograph by richard calmes, vietnam 1968-9.

Having given up the middle ground,
the guards laid down their cards.
Three of a kind. A couple of pairs.
Nothing out of the usual.
The high ground stood out against the clouds,
bald and distant and aerated;
the lowlands stripped and blistered.

It was, they agreed - taciturn and scowling -
crudely uneven of hand.
And folded.

sibling whispers #21: excavated shellac

This Kurdish oud solo, recorded possibly in 1926, comes from the first ever post on the excellent Excavated Shellac - an esoteric blog dealing exclusively in extremely hard to come by 78s from around the world; dusted down, painstakingly researched, and re-recorded on digital format for the benefit of visitors of discriminating taste:

"A weekly blog dedicated to 78rpm recordings of folkloric and vernacular music from around the world. These items are from my own collection and have been transferred to the best of my abilities, without the aid of expensive noise reduction software. They are for research purposes only."

Originally thought to have been recorded in Iran at the time of its original posting - where material of Kurdish origin was "routinely confiscated and destroyed" (as in Turkey, where possession of such material was illegal until 2003) - it now appears that the musician was likely Lebanese in origin, and the solo recorded in Syria.

An Aladdin's cave of preciously exhumed and catalogued treasures. Blink, and you may well lose out forever.

É: SAMAII HIJAZ KAR KURDI from "Samaii Hijaz Kar Kurdi" 78rpm (Odeon) 1926 (Lebanon)


Sunday, January 18, 2009

communiqué #21: devil's advocate

image forwarded from sara smith.

I am unsure whether the recent sender of images of the suffering being endured in Gaza is seeking to redress the balance after my posting a photograph from the Holocaust, or is doing so merely in an attempt to educate me in outrages I am already painfully aware of. I suspect we have all become inured to images of the atrocities attributable to world conflict to one degree or another. Darfur; Rwanda; Bosnia; Somalia; Vietnam; Korea; Burma; Uganda; Tehran; Tibet; El Salvador; Afghanistan; Iraq; Cambodia... The list is endless. A plague of images. Of blighted lives.

Many of these conflicts continue unabated largely after generations of unresolved dispute. The names of invading or occupying forces may change, the borders may recede or advance from one outcome to the next. There is only one far from superficial constant: the endless suffering of people deemed expendable by one authority or another.

The situation in Gaza is as ugly as in any conflict, the effects of Israeli offensives on a largely invisible enemy untenable in humanitarian terms. The parallels with the sectarian situation in Northern Ireland as it stood until recent times have been familiar to all of us for years. If pressure is to be brought to bear on Israel to cease its offensive - as it rightly should - then pressure must also be brought to bear on Hamas to negotiate. Hamas is a very different political animal to Fatah, its Palestinian predecessor. Hamas refuses to negotiate. In measurable terms, casualties sustained by Israel are dwarfed by those of its neighbour in this most recent turn of events. That much is inarguable. And as such, as a state it has exposed itself to just accusations of inappropriately brutal force, or as it maintains, counter force.

Certainly, too, Israel must now shoulder the incandescent and impotent fury of thousands of Gazans once resistant - privately at least - to Hamas, without persistently shirking responsibility.

Let your outrage pour forth for those innocent men, women and children maimed and slaughtered on the streets of Gaza. Atrocities continue to occur; not least as the result of substantiated reports of the illegal use of phosphorus, which beggars belief. But do not delude yourself that Hamas is an instrument of freedom; it is undeserving of the moral high ground.

This is the last I intend to engage in discourse on this subject. For the forseeable future, at least. I am not qualified to speculate on these events with any degree of authority beyond mere gut reaction. I have no agenda beyond the simple wish, shared by the many, for an immediate ceasefire. And no reasonable expectation for reconciliation.