Friday, October 30, 2009

tea for two. or three.

(l to r) keith cross; peter dunton; bernard jinks.

To more or less quote Johnny Thunders verbatim:

"Do you want the 'lectric shit ? Or the hippie shit ?"

I had not heard T2 previous to the inclusion of "No More White Horses" in Emmett's October playlist. From their sole album, "It'll All Work Out in Boomland", released through Decca in 1970, it would appear this overlooked London trio have been kicking up a gentle storm ever since drummer and songwriter, Pete Dunton rediscovered the original reels in his attic and remastered the LP for CD reissue in 1992 with three bonus cuts originally recorded at the BBC.

Incorporating some exceptionally fine guitar from Keith Cross, T2 have been favorably compared to Cream and Procol Harum elsewhere on the net, but to my ears there is more of a Space Oddity vibe to the group in their more reflective moments; faint mellotron laced echoes of a shared fascination, perhaps, with Syd Barrett's Pink Floyd, and a healthy tendency to flirt with some popular motifs more commonly touted on the Franco-European charts between 1968-70.

And there lies the crux.

Had David Bowie not been quite so persistent, we might just as easily be waxing lyrical on the overlooked gem which was "Hunky Dory". Studiously maligned and dismissed by serious progressive types, were it not for shrewd market placement "The Man Who Sold the World" might have found himself fitting shoes somewhere off the Kings Road. Were it not for Mick Ronson and the Spiders from Mars, there quite possibly would have been be
no third Stooges album.

Or über selling "Transformer".

And were it not for "Ziggy Stardust" there might feasibly have been no triumphant collaboration with Brian Eno in the shadow of the wall.


"Do you want the 'lectric shit ? Or the hippie shit ?"

The existential angst or the bubblegum ? It all tastes good to me

Word to the wise, though: it might seem a mere trifle, but never underestimate the damage a bad hair day can inflict on a career. David Bowie learned that lesson quicker than most. Or Faust. That which was acceptable on a geography teacher or social worker in 1970 did not book one a gig on Top of the Pops.

Keith Cross: guitars, keyboards, harmony vocals;
Peter Dunton: drums, lead vocals;
Bernard Jinks: bass guitar, harmony vocals.

Recorded at Morgan Studios.

Arranged and produced by T2 and Peter Johnson.

Engineered by Mike Butcher.

T2: J.L.T. from "It'll All Work Out In Boomland" LP (Decca) / CD (SPM) 1970; 1992 (UK)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

saturday maybe


Recorded on the 9th September, 2009 - 9/9/9 to those of you with a morbid fascin
ation for emergency services numerology - "The Grass is Always Greener" is the second EP release from Nashville's Max and the Wild Things. Something of a minor cause for celebration in my own household, it further cements my partisan allegiance to siblings Aidan and Cole Traynor, and third man, Clint (Max) Wilson; replacing one-time wild thing, Brendan Leahy, on drums.

More than merely a celtic thing, listening to these Aidan Traynor compositions is a bit like being blasted back in time to the Pixies 4AD debut release with the mushrooms poking their crowns t
hrough the short grass; a chill dew on the collar.

Spare and electric and temporarily unhinged, the sound is at once as exuberant as a puppy digging for ribs, and as amnesiac as a pirate mining for azure on a cloudy weekend.

Stripped to the bone and confusedly eloquent.

As with their first release, "Hands Down Mans Down", the four songs featured were recorded at Welcome to 1979, "utilizing only analogue equipment manufactured in the mid-seventies as the perfect antidote to compressed digital orthodoxy". To quote myself.

That alone is enough to make me prick up my ears. Produced and engineered by Chris Mara, Mickie Martel, Bert Stone, Neil O'Neil and The Wild Things, it also leads off with a brand new studio outing - with brass ? - of the sublime "Without a Sound" featured here this summer, live in The Basement.

Last time around, zero siblings commented. Leaving me in a minority of one. I must reveal I was inordinately disappointed. Until. My friend Gus brought it up at my wedding reception. Somebody, clearly, was listening in after all; for a moment there I felt almost on a par with John Peel. Without the salary
and pension, of course. Or a f@cking radio show even.

An odder Tennessee Waltz, it would be hard to imagine. Buckle up your leg.

MAX AND THE WILD THINGS: SATURDAY IN MAY from "The Grass Is Always Greener" EP (WT1979) 2009 (US)


Sunday, October 25, 2009

white horses

The act of wielding even a virtual pen can be cathartic, for sure. The act of discharging it like a weapon - a greasegun - might even be exhilirating.

But. We all pay allegiance to a nominal form of self-censorship at the very least. I falter with a foot in both camps; less is more, undoubtably, and sometimes less is worse than nothing at all.

I constantly hover - like the best of us - on the dial. I am as prone to prevaricate as a motherf@cker.

And still. It is that act of wavering which lets the worm off the hook even as the net hoovers up the innocent. I have had a bellyful of the sanctimonius - anonymous - in recent weeks, let me just say; enough third form juvenile chest-beating to tempt one to pick up a cosh. Where the f@ck do these c*nts find the nerve ? Between choosing to stand up in the stirrups and mouthing off a liturgy ?

F@ck 'em and the pristine white horse they rode in on.

I didn't get to my age - pardon my rat's whiskers - without confronting arch self-righteousness when it raises its contorted head. Dress yourself up like Sid Vicious and I might just kick you in the f@cking face. Clad yourself in robes and I might piss all over your sackcloth.

The high ground is not secured through weekend free minutes. You don't fortuitously land on it by leaping to conclusions; you don't f@cking scale the perimeter by playing go-between. And I don't relish being sermonised at, 2nd or 3rd hand, by an ill informed novice stuffed full of certitudes.

Don't be too hasty in raising the blade. In the end even Robespierre jawed off his head.

Go f@cking hug a tree the next time you want to get off. I've hugged several, we all think that we're the first, and I'm still waiting for the grass to grow.
Over my hooves. Under my shoes.

To summarize - in the clearing, after burning - suck my crushed white chalk.

JACKIE LEE: WHITE HORSES from "White Horses" 45 (Philips) 1968 (UK)


not a leg to stand on...

you've got a lot of nerve...

I remember reading somewhere, vaguely, that Bob Dylan once attempted to make a go of it peddling bespoke wooden legs.

Handcrafted prostheses, to be more precise.

Is there even a splinter of truth in it, does anybody know ? Or is the tale entirely apocryphal ?

I admire the idea of it, the screwball absurdity of the very thought; the monocular attention to detail.

Had Dylan not gone stellar on the back of a purloined, well-timed lyric or two, I can envision our sage hobbling into such a entepreneurial cul-de-sac. Squirreled away; ornately skulking in the sawdust of his folly.

Had Zimmerman not come over all electric, we might have had prosthetic:

A rabid mob on pogo sticks on the fringe of a motorcycle accident. Baying for blood as the carpenter hops in the wings, knock-knock-knockin' and chalking on his board.

BOB DYLAN: MOTORPSYCHO NITEMARE from "Another Side Of Bob Dylan" LP (Columbia) 1964 (US)

Friday, October 23, 2009

ticket to ride

I. I am LAYZEE BOY, lionhearts; crusaders. Furious as a pope. Flaccid and prone.

occasionally rampant.

# 1 with bass from Albert Dennis.

# 2 performed with friction:

Sue Schmidt: Guitar, Violin;

Peter Laughner: Guitar, Vocals;
Debbie Smith: Bass ;
Anton Fier: Drums.

PETER LAUGHNER: BAUDELAIRE from "Take The Guitar Player For A Ride" 2 x LP (Tim/Kerr) 1993 (US)

PETER LAUGHNER: DEAR RICHARD from "Take The Guitar Player For A Ride" 2 x LP (Tim/Kerr) 1993 (US)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009



It has been a while
since I had any truck
with gurus.

The wheels
came off, then, and
I don't intend
to begin fiddling with
a socket wrench now.

Not in this lunchtime.


Of course,
I am not suggesting that
not one of those fΩckers
can be trusted.

(we all need a little help,
from time to time,
just to join up the dots...)


On the whole,
I am inclined to observe
though, it does not pay to
hitch a lift with strangers.

Most of the time
it is a good deal safer
just to keep on walking,
raw soles on terra firma.


Then again.
I am often full of shit.

anybody got a purple ohm ?

illustration by ib.

chicken little & the morning which wasn't

Right now I am hanging out my window, gasping for air.

Well, alright. Not right now, eggsactly, but somewhere between pulling on a cigarette and banging on this keyboard.

The still life looking west along the river is cast in grey. If it were not for the ever incipient rain I might describe it as ashen.

I got up this morning to make a toilet trip in the dark and guessed it to be 4 or 5 AM. It was 7:28. My alarm went off before I got one foot back into bed. I am glad I no longer work the night shift. I am glad I have not been forced to so for close to a decade. Cursing under my breath and lurching this way and that like a drugged hippo, I admit I felt bad for those habitually compelled to rise well before dawn: postmen; bus drivers; bakers and janitors. Schoolchildren with their hair on end chasing the milk round.

All manner of early risers and the plain nocturnal.

We are not designed to withstand such abuse. There is no benefit beyond the monetary in turning night into day or defying the biological clock. Unless it be to get the jump on the assassin creeping down one's hall; blade drawn and knotted with resolve. Fight or flight, in short.

Empirical evidence points incontrovertibly to the negative impact on long term health engendered through the night shift. I am aware of a handful of scientific papers which attest to as much; none commissioned in China - I am given to understand - the tiger which has forgotten how to sleep. At the mercy of party stimulants, restlessly pacing, its veins have all collapsed.

Still. Nobody lasts too long in China anyway. Serf or emperor, prole or government official.

Leaving aside the fact that the Chinese have demonstrated a knack for sewing a silk purse out of a pig's ear and making chicken noodle soup out of what's left, there is little on their agenda that one might seriously want to emulate. We are already drowning in our own pollution. We don't need any tips.

This brings me back to the dread I experienced when I stirred to find my morning snoring. Everything is back to front.

I am busy playing hooky and I know it can't last.

illustration by ib.

POPOL VUH: MORNING SUN from "Nosferatu (Soundtrack)" LP (Brain) 1978 (Germany)
DAEVID ALLEN & EUTERPE: GOOD MORNING from "Good Morning!" LP (Virgin) 1976 (UK)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

crumbs of discomfort

illustration by robert crumb, garish colour by siblingshot.

I see from the Sunday papers that wayfaring Clevelander, Robert Crumb has now illustrated The Book of Genesis: "All 50 Chapters!". I may get around to perusing it in the near - to middling - future, but that will be as close to Genesis as I shall allow myself to stand. A Trick of the Tale, or not; King James version or otherwise.

I gather his illustrations remain faithful - not just in spirit - to the letter of the text. As hard to swallow as Jonah, on balance, albeit a different story altogether.


And God said, "let there be light," and there was an illuminated manuscript:
$29, including ship

There is a creationist born every minute.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

young team revisited

Two fairly early soundscapes from Glasgow's Mogwai which run together almost seamlessly and build on the spidery experimental elegance of Tom Verlaine at his most concise, or Chicago collective, Tortoise.

It's a Sunday thing. Rebus on a bus pass; a restricted service.

The first cut - recorded by Andy Miller - was released in January 1997, coupled with "Helicon 1", on a vinyl 7" distributed through Wurlitzer Jukebox and features the line-up as listed. It was reissued months later on the retrospective CD, "Ten Rapid", on Rock Action.

"Tracy" can be found on their debut LP - recorded and mixed at MCM Studios, Ha
milton, in the summer of the same year - with Teenage Fanclub's Brendan O'Hare attending drums in uncharacteristically restrained fashion. O' Hare also provided photography originally utilized on the cover, subsequently revised for its 2008 re-release, but vacated the chair before "Young Team" hit the shops. The line-up since then has oscillated to accommodate minor changes in direction.

Stuart Braithwaite: bass, guitar;
Martin Bulloch: drums (drumkit), guitar;
John Cummings: guitar, bass;
Dominic Aitchison: guitar, bass.

MOGWAI: HELICON 2 from "New Paths To Helicon" 45 (Wurlitzer Jukebox) 1997 (UK)
MOGWAI: TRACY from "Young Team" CD (Chemikal Underground) 1997 (UK)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

brain negatives / black holes collide

Klaus Dinger: japanese banjo, drums, guitar, voice;

 Michael Rother: guitar, deh-guitar, bass, double bass.

Recorded over 4 nights in December 1971; Windrose-Dumont-Time-Studios, Hamburg.
Engineered by Conny Plank.

see below.

NEU!: NEGATIVLAND from "Neu!" LP (Brain Metronome) 1972 (Germany)

90% dark matter

or, negatives, doctoring the tardis.

I took our three kids to this science fiction exhibition.

All summer they had begged me to take them. And
finally I am motivated sufficiently to plan an outing.
Finally, here, I have change enough to rouse myself.

They seem a little hesitant.

Smiling and laughing as we walk to the subway, but
dragging their heels; frowning and rolling their eyes as
we stop off at the ATM. They ask me how much
this excursion will cost. They examine the crisp notes
I fold and slip inside my pocket, estimating what else
this small fortune might purchase.

Don't worry
, I tell them. I still have enough for cigarettes.

The event, of course, is a dire miscalculation.
They are thoroughly disillusioned. In and out of there in
less time than it takes to wait in line and shovel down
a cheeseburger. All the dads in there get egg on their face.

Life is often like this, I say. Let it be some kind of lesson.

Outside we recoup and gather our losses. I smoke one
cigarette after another and eye up young women pushing
two-year-olds in buggies. Chasing after waifs on reins.

The cigarette burns down and I am forced to seek out a
bin to dispose of it in. It is far too risky just to flip the butt.
My three kids lecture me on the perils of smoking for a
while and grow tired of it enough to suggest we go back in
to the big gallery upstairs. After all, they tell me, it is free.

, dad, my son says. You are crazy to give them a bean.

Wise guy. This time around we fare much better.

There is a benign recycled footwear exhibit where two of us
faff about
and try out odd oversize boots. And generations
of antique stuffed animals; they could not begin to do
this shit now, thankfully, but they remain here for posterity.

For better or worse. Row upon row of pinned butterflies.

Finally, we gravitate to a corner full of black yawning holes.
A universe built on 90% dark matter. A shiny apparatus.
Two PhD graduates lecture us on universal quantities. Shy,
mildly appreciative of a reception. Ursa Major; Chandra.
For minutes longer, they captivate our small community.

In the end, I think, we are all of us consumed by uncertainty.

for n-one

Kim Gordon: bass, vocals;
Thurston Moore: guitar, vocals;
Richard Edson: drums;
Lee Renaldo: guitar.

The 80's may have begun blandly, and gotten progressively blander still, but there was still proof positive under the swab that not everyone hankered to collaborate with Trevor Horn's bloated vision of a new era. A choreographed jackboot dance of all singing extras juggling day-glo fish, tied off with ribbon and lipglossed pouts.

I may have slipped into a coma for a while as all around me struggled to strike a coquettish pose, but Sonic Youth fashioned a dark fairytale on their debut EP which kissed me awake with the sleep of the dead grafted on one eye.

Borrowing from influences as remote as Joy Division and engineered by Don Hünerberg, who helped shape the Voidoids' "Blank Generation", this is the sound of cancer in remission. The disinterred rumblings of a runaway train.

Written, produced and arranged by Sonic Youth.
Engineered by Don Hünerberg.

Recorded and mixed at Radio City Music Hall (New York, NY, USA)
between December 1981 and January 1982.
Made in New York City.

SONIC YOUTH: I DREAM I DREAMED from "Sonic Youth" 12" EP (Neutral Records) 1982 (US)

Sunday, October 11, 2009

just do it

A re-up, to those in the loop, from July last year.

"...If The Stooges and MC5 were progenitors of punk in the U.S., then Pink Fairies were sperm donors who refused to fuck about."

illustration ™ NibE AIR.

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

Saturday, October 10, 2009


The steam locomotive whispers
up to the platform,
and we disembark. A little
Beyond the clock, the panes
of glass,
it looks a lot like a gymnasium.

A football stadium.

There are rows of benches
and the grass
on the pitch is bald where we
stand; patiently,
bellies knotted and growling.

On either side,
climbing up from the dug outs,
we are separated -
wheat and chaff, home or
away - grumbling linesmen
scribbling, bored,
on contracts laid out civically.

Stamped. Filed.
Ushered off on stiff legs.

Even the children have fallen quiet.

This was the dream, a
breakfast of eunuchs, which set
me tumbling.
Sprawled on the floor at 3 AM.

Wheezing with Olympian effort.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

emotion tree

She sat barefoot in the middle
of the floor,
on sunlit boards browning
in late afternoon.
Surrounded by lengths
of copper tubing.
Attaching paper notes
to curling branches
with surgical precision.
Tied off with string. Wire.

"How do you like my emotion
?" she asked.

I licked the gummed margin
spilling tobacco,
and spoke out the corner
of my rolled up twist.

"It looks like it needs a Valium,
" I said.

On a good day
I feel a lot like Jim Thompson.

On a bad day
I sound like Ernest Borgnine.

illustration by ib.

sliding windows and moonbeams

Taking up the slack from a recent post by Sheridan Dupre III, stepping off sun dappled kerb into twilight, here is a positively chilled vibe lingering in the shadow.

Because less is more, and I've been feeling a mite agitated of late. Spiky.

Lonnie Liston Smith: keyboards;
Donald Smith: flute;
Cecil McBee: bass;
Lawrence Killian: percussion, congas;
Art Gore: drums;
Michael Carvin: percussion;
Leopoldo: percussion;
Don Hubbard: soprano saxophone.

Produced by Bob Thiele and Lonnie Liston Smith.

photograph by charles harbutt.

LONNIE LISTON SMITH & THE COSMIC ECHOES: SHADOWS from "Expansions" LP (Flying Dutchman) 1975 (US)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

why balk at dressed crab ?

A third rate actor poses on the White House lawn on January 20th, 1981. The grocer's daughter seeks a second marriage.

Fittingly, Ronald Reagan was born in an apartment above a local bank in a red brick building in Tampico, Illinois. The nest he was spat into, then, was literally built on nickels, dimes and dollar bills.

As the 1970's collapsed under the weight of industrial action, the philanthropic lawyer from "Hell's Kitchen" paired up with the grocer's daughter from Grantham and distanced himself forever from those Dead End Kids. Hand in hand they prowled the international stage, dispensing theatrical one liners with the honed delivery of snake oil salesmen. Pyramid sellers. The applause, of course, was deafening. A veritable standing ovation. Emboldened, they schemed.

Thatcher curried domestic favour by repackaging publicly owned assets and selling them back at a premium. Agitated by costly advertising campaigns - paid for out the public purse, of course - a nation bickered and scratched itself bloody just to grab its rightful share.

"But you already own a piece of the pie!" bemused observers offered.

"Well. Now I own it twice!" the stampede cried.

Public housing; the railways; telecommunications. Name it. No corner was immune. Painted clowns juggling stock; blue chip investments for dummies.

This is what I remember, chiefly. Mind you. I was mostly otherwise preoccupied.

Together, the odd couple cooked up and served a new world economic model which continues to limp on - bandaged and freshly sutured - terminally
beyond rehabilitation; haemorrhaging good money after bad.

Mrs. T was delighted. Ronald McDonald got the bone.

The dish they contrived, a nouvelle cuisine concoction of little substance, reaped dividends only for the most acutely self-serving. A recipe for disaster.

As was reported earlier this month in the international press, upwards of 10,000 still on the payroll of the bankrupt investment bank, Lehman Brothers, stand to profit from a bonus pool valued at approximately $2.5 billion. Barclays Bank, the British financial institution which stepped in to salvage the mess, confirmed the rumour.

Before Reagan came to power, Super Tax on the wealthiest of US citizens - those earning in excess of $1 million per annum - stood, as it had without significant cause for repeal since the 1950's and 60's, between 85 - 90%; coinciding with unprecedented rates of fiscal growth. Today, as the world totters on the brink of a sucking economic black hole, that rate currently stands at less than 35%.

A rudimentary pattern begins to emerge.

Eat the rich.

At the very least, fire up the pot and send out some seasoned invitations.

illustration by ib.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

travelling with demons, 5:9 - 8:34

for the record:

Protect me from the mangled utterances of
witchfinders and the convoluted,

the diapered rebuke of incontinent dribblers.
Flycatchers and the sanctimonious;

"My name is Legion, and we speak for the many."

Protect me from rulers smiting down the left hand.
Churchwardens waxing promiscuously.

Deliver me on those days when the postman strikes,
dyslexic, slovenly and ambidextrous.

"My name is Legion, and we speak on behalf."

Protect me from arbiters of moral diseconomy,
ambulance chasers and the self-deluded;
social workers, priests and customs investigators,
the recently excised or circumscribed.

"My name is Legion, and we are fewer than before."

main picture:
aramaic book script, mesopotamia, overlaid on hamesh;
'protection from the evil eye'.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

grease monkey

Take that thumb
off your clitoris,
the gym skirt
to your stick shift,
and jamb it

Straight up -
under the hood -
your stalled and
dragging tail pipe.

You give me gas.

engine block photograph found trailing on a thread.

under the floorboards

A swaggering Jagger & Richard composition from their fabulous "Aftermath", this is proto-punk '1-2-3-4' at its most infectious.

Restricted by the limited coverage independent distribution allowed- or, more prosaically, confined to minor celebrity in their native Pennsylvania - Bob Hocko's Swamp Rats gnawed their way into the daylight of small town McKeesport in 1966, gravitating to the bright lights of nearby Pittsburgh in the whisker of time it takes a pocket of rodents to get fruitful and multiply.

Not so much a garage exodus as furred mutation under the floorboards.

Less than two years after the reported outbreak, pest control finally disposed of the carcasses and declared a decontamination zone. Something of a record. By which time, of course, the virus was clearly beyond federal containment; jumping state boundaries as a nascent plague which would establish itself, most famously, in neighbouring Detroit.

Turning on a pin.

Or the rivet underpinning an AMC cooling unit straight off the production line.
St. Clair label photograph cribbed from Office Naps.

SWAMP RATS: IT'S NOT EASY from "It's Not Easy b/w No Friend Of Mine" 45 (St. Clair) 1966 (US)
SWAMP RATS: IT'S NOT EASY (ALTERNATIVE VERSION) from "Disco Still Sucks!" CD (Get Hip) 2003 (US)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

shooting stars and piano tuners

detail from a photograph by norman snyder.

I was looking for this photograph by veteran New York photographer - and 'Time-Life' art director - Norman Snyder. I found it in a second hand hardcover I've had now for many years.

Sadly, said copy is a survivor from those pre-internet days when I would scour and pillage all manner of source material, scalpel in hand. The mutilating window I sliced a couple of decades ago has all but rendered the original quite unusable, but here it is; minus hand-tooled boots on grit.

True grit. That all three of his subjects made it is something of a happy accident. I don't remember what originally captivated me on the reverse side of the page.

Harper Simon is a resident of Los Angeles. The long rider this song is culled from is scheduled for release October 13th. Curiously, he refers to his CD as an "homage to the LP".

Snyder died in Manhattan on May 28th this year, age 72. Last month, I gather, they held a memorial service for him on Amsterdam Avenue and 76th Street. All over, they are dropping like flies. In later years he made the transition into piano tuning and restoration - an altogether more genteel profession. Music must have been very dear to him. The smell of varnished wood and the echo of countless fingers on ivory keys.

The song made it into my mailbox earlier this week. I almost missed it. I'm glad I didn't. There is something in it which makes me recall Nick Lowe working at a distance. Or Neil Young at his least abrasive. The eloquence of populism with an emphasis on pop.

If you can't wait until mid October, Harper Simon's homage to the glory days of 33 1/3 and the odd necktie party is available for immediate download via iTunes.

Oh, and my wife thinks he is "cute".

HARPER SIMON: SHOOTING STAR from "Shooting Star" LP (Vagrant Records) 2009 (US)