Sunday, February 28, 2010

mind power: it is what it is

Continuing on the solid roll which began in earnest with 1972's "Get On The Good Foot", "The Payback" was Brown's critically acclaimed response to director Larry Cohen's decision to drop it as the soundtrack to his blaxploitation cash in, "Hell Up in Harlem". On the grounds that it just wasn't "James Brown enough".

Every inch as tightly oiled and sprung as Brown's superior "Black Caesar" soundtrack - the prequel - Cohen, clearly, must have harboured ulterior motives in declining the finished 'product'. That, or his brain was simply addled by all that white powder stepped on up in East Harlem.

Whatever Cohen's underlying issue with it, the title track itself - co-written with John 'Jabo' Starks - more than lives up to its bad ass reputation, post mortem.

A crime scene endlessly revisited in all manner of drive-by samplings, ongoing forensics continue to yield results. PhUnk. Black Punk spits all over Legs McNeil.

A full three years earlier.
 Written by James Brown, Fred Wesley and Charles Bobbit.
Recorded February to October 1973.

JAMES BROWN: MIND POWER from "The Payback" 2 x LP (Polydor) 1973 (US)

Friday, February 26, 2010

burn in hell in white flame, motherf@cker




"carry on with your threats to anyone/everyone. we all know who you are"

"ib are you really LOST? cause i thought you werent LOST. you mustnt [sic] put yourself down. get this into the real world - we're getting there."

Yes, folks. Just a few of the engaging witticisms directed my way these past couple of days. Jesus. You really couldn't make this kind of crap up.

And this strikingly perceptive summation:

"...i like that wood cut btw but yyyou [?] are a very angry person"

Anonymous, I'd like to say it's been swell knowing you. But. I'd be lying through my fuckin' teeth. Truly, I would.

If you really feel you must write again, be sure to do it in crayon.

You will find some pretty colours in the packet provided. The one with the farting Buddha all done up in pink.

Or Jay Cee on the lamb turned out like Charlton Heston.

We're all getting there, baby doll. It's just it takes some longer than others.

Recorded November 21st, 1961, Hollywood. Arranged by Don Costa.
Written by Erroll Garner and Johnny Burke.

photograph by richard kern.

FRANK SINATRA: MISTY from "Sinatra & Strings" LP (Reprise) 1962 (US)

Thursday, February 25, 2010

needles, pins. more needles

tales from the ripped, y'hear ?

"The word punk goes back to the 1960's... I remember getting copies of NME in the summer of '75 and they were calling AC/DC, the Bay City Rollers and Eddie and the Hot Rods punk rock. I remember seeing a big article on Eddie and the Hot Rods saying, 'Here Comes Punk', but they weren't punk rock then, they were doing 'Woolly Bully'. Here in the States in 1975, Creem magazine would call anything remotely hard 'punk' and that included Alice Cooper, the MC5 and the Dictators."

- John Holmstrom, "Punk. A life Apart", Stephen Colgrave & Chris Sullivan, 2001.

"Lester had a lot of problems. He grew up a 7th Day Adventist, and replaced that with rock and roll. He was always talking at you, like a preacher. I brought Lester to see the Ramones, we would drag him out of the house kicking and screaming. He was a real curmudgeon, and it got boring, so we started saying things to piss him off, and we would break into his house and steal beer...

It was like being with somebody's father. But I liked Lester anyway. He really could write about rock and roll. He got a lot of things wrong, he was too politically correct, but I liked him. Creem magazine was responsible for turning a lot of people on to Iggy and the MC5. Lester turned a lot of people on to a lot of stuff. I think John even read about the Dictators in Creem. Lester got bitter though."

- Legs McNeil, interview with Helen Wilson, Glorious Noise, 2002.

"The name 'punk' came from me. John [Holmstrom] wanted to call the magazine Teenage News, which I thought was a stupid title. Years later, I found out it was from this unreleased New York Dolls' song. I didn't know this at the time. I just thought he was being stupid."

- Legs McNeil, "Punk. A life Apart", Stephen Colgrave & Chris Sullivan, 2001.
Arranged and produced by David Bowie.

Well. It might be from James Cagney I heard it first . Or even Edmond O' Brian. Who gives a shit. Maybe Lenny Kaye used it first to reference The Standells. Or Dave Marsh doing the same with ? and the Mysterians.

It sure as f@ck wasn't Legs McNeil.

"All The Young Dudes" was allegedly written off the cuff by David Bowie for Ian Hunter. After Mott The Hoople rejected "Suffragette City". While Mott's version may lack the shanked razor edge Mick Ronson provided on Bowie's own demo recorded after the fact, I still think Ian Hunter's vocal here ranks as the finest out the corner of the mouth tirade I've heard this side of John Winston Lennon.

With or without the gum.

Thanks to The Gazzetteer for the link to the Legs interview and the nudge. And Jonathan Richman apropos of nothing less than a bee in the ear.

MOTT THE HOOPLE: ALL THE YOUNG DUDES from "All The Young Dudes b/w One Of the Boys" 45 (CBS) 1972 (UK)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

julie's been working for the DWP

First there is a weekend strorm in a teacup concerning allegations that fat boy, Brown physically hauled junior staff out of their seats in a blind rage. Then, Chancellor, Alistair Dowling confides to Sky News that "the forces of hell were unleashed" from No. 10 when he first forecast the worst economic downturn in sixty years.

Well. The teacup is upset. Slapped out the master's hand; trampled into fine powder as the footwear begins flailing.

Both Scots, in the most tenuous definition of family, it is like waking up to find the creeps from the debating society have taken over the school canteen. By default. That their dads work for the KGB.

Bad enough when they first start dishing out the slop. Insufferable when the lorries stop rolling in and they turn on each other with knives and forks.

"Bleak House" by Mervyn Peake.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

bleecker and drookit

I had no real idea who dunnit, but I came across it while 'shopping' for spoils from Allen Ginsberg's "Howl". This is not it.

From Wiki:

"[Eric] Drooker grew up in Manhattan's Stuyvesant Town, relatively close to the Lower East Side, which was then a working-class immigrant neighborhood with a tradition of left-wing political activism. Drooker developed an early interest in graphic arts and cartoons, particularly the woodcut novels of Frans Masereel and Lynd Ward and the underground comics of Robert Crumb."

The illustration - a woodcut, I believe, or something in lino with real fur trim - is from his 1992 collaboration with Ginsberg, "Illuminated Poems", published by Four Walls Eight Windows, NYC.

The last time I dallied with Ginsberg, Punk Rock and Old Pond, and the Nova Connection, it accompanied a line or two on tired facial hair. The pressing need to abolish the ugly. These days, I am a prickly peach. A potato gone to seed.

I f@cking hate telephones.

ALLEN GINSBERG: I'M A VICTIM OF TELEPHONES (DEC. 1968) from "Disconnected: Dial-a-Poem Poets" LP (Giorno Poetry Systems) 1974 (US)

Monday, February 22, 2010

from sad syd to sid sack

not so much a scoop as a sunday afternoon dip.

The more tremulous amongst us will recall the laudanum tinctured scribblings of frock coated raconteur, Nick Kent.

For a sustained period in the 1970's, Kent was Lester Bangs' very English counterpart; waxing lyrical on the pages of the New Musical Express with a necromancer's eye for illumination every bit as keen as a freshly resurrected Richard Dadd.

A Victorian wastrel with an appetite for the sordid and burlesque.

So. I am scouring the Sunday papers, disaffected with usual compendium of bad news print, when I stumble across a spread with Vicious and Rotten bleeding out in saturated colour. Nick Kent has a new book out, "Apathy For The Devil", a 400 page annecdotal account servicing his fixation with the brightly burning and the dimmed. And the office machinations of a successful periodical at pains to capitalize on every passing fad.

I am less interested in the column inches allowed Julie Burchill and Tony Parsons than Kent's personal dealings with Malcolm McLaren, the Fagin of the 'old' King's Road. I watched Parsons recently on a celebrity Mastermind. His specialist subject was "Punk Rock: 1977 - 1979" and quite frankly, he was shit. The boy looked at Johnny and promptly forgot.

I digress. What was arresting in Robert Sandall's review of "Apathy For The Devil" - a ridiculous title; as absurd as my new masthead, brothers and sisters - is the coverage it gives to Kent's being drafted in by McLaren to teach the newly assembled Sex Pistols those rudimentary chords to a number of songs by The Stooges. Concerned, it would seem, that the journalist was an undermining influence, on Jones in particular, McLaren quickly instructed Glen Matlock to get rid of him.

To quote directly from Sandall's article, Kent was unperturbed:

"I was a middle-class druggie fop and they were working-class spivs who would steal the gold from their mother's teeth."

And that was that. Save for the fact that one year later, at the 100 Club, Kent was subjected to an "unprovoked bicycle chain attack" by Matlock's substitute. Stitched in place with all the glee our Malcolm could bring to bear.

So much skullduggery. Of course. By all accounts - and I do mean all - Simon John Ritchie posessed all the traits of an emotionally retarded playground bully.

Lacking any talent beyond the strictly photogenic, he always sappeared quick to step out from behind his bass to play to maximum applause. Smack the f@cker in the teeth and he'd back down. Lose your bottle and he'd pick it up off the floor and jam in it in your face.

And there lies the rub. If Nick Kent had not been stoned when everybody else was hoovering up the amphetamine sulphate, he might well have got the boot in first. Don't feel too sorry for him though. One good smack deserves another.

El Sid turned blue on heroin while his mother idled through his last convulsions. Right next door. Nick Kent lived to tell the tale.

There's a karmic symmetry to that.

And I'll wager Nick Kent never dashed his cat's brains out on the bathroom door.


Sunday, February 21, 2010

some kind of hollocaust [reduxe]

A deceptive lull from the raging tempest of Amon Düül's abrasive 1969 debut; which on the whole is a splendid regurgitation of everything which made the Velvet Underground bad, dangerous and hard to get along with. Reheated over the coals of a collective opt-out which was, in truth, every father's worst fear.

Without exaggeration, the sound of the original Amon Düül is of communal exorcism. A vast communal dirge of tribal stomping; self eviscaration; and the channeling of the ancestral dead.

It should not be confused with the progressive experimentation of Amon Düül II, the splinter cooperative responsible for the Liberty issued "Phallus Dei" (in that same year); "Yeti" (1972); and a host of Planet Gong inspired studio embellishments and proto Lydonish utterances. Amon Düül, I, is what huddles at the source of the fictional "Nung" river of Kurtz's "Heart of Darkness".

"Kaskados Minneleid" is a pastoral recouping in the glow of the seventeen minute insurgence which is "Ein Wunderhübsches Mädchen Träumt von Sandosa", an uncontained riot presided over by shamans intent on invoking a violence the Velvet Underground were too aloof or listless to persist with. 

A primal trance where a deified Maureen Tucker watches over a bloodied sisterhood backlit by torches. Flesh for the vat. Flints in the ashes.

The original Amon Düül were responsible for just three releases between 1969 and 1971, culminating in "Disaster".

All three albums allegendly spring from one epic 'jam' recorded in 1968. A forth, "Paradieswaerts Duulis" - predating "Disaster", and released on Ohr in 1970 - is a wholly different regrouping comprising just three songs and seemingly recorded at a much later date; certainly after Amon D
üül's demise.

Peter Leopold; Ullrich Leopold; Rainer Bauer; Ella Bauer; Uschi Obermaier; 

Helge Filanda; Angelica Filanda; Krischke; Eleonora Romana.

AMON DÜÜL: KASKADOS MINNELEID from "Psychedelic Underground" LP (Metronome) 1969 (Germany)
from "Psychedelic Underground" LP (Metronome) 1969 (Germany)

Saturday, February 20, 2010

izzy wizzy, let's get busy

I may well have heard this modal reworking of the Rodgers & Hammerstein classic first performed not by John Coltrane but by Harry Corbett and friends. With puppets. The son of a Yorkshire coal miner, Corbett's early ambition to pursue a career as a musician was thwarted by deafness in one ear.

I wonder how this sat with Syd ? I like to think it might have been a favourite.

John Coltrane: soprano saxophone;
Steve Davis: bass;
Elvin Jones: drums;
McCoy Tyner: piano.

Produced by Nesuhi Ertegun, Engineered by Phil Iehle and Tom Dowd.
Recorded at Atlantic Studios, NYC, October 21st, 1960.

JOHN COLTRANE: MY FAVOURITE THINGS from "My Favourite Things" LP (Atlantic) 1961 (US)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

zippo magic for eskimos and UFO's

columbia 45: DB8214

more paisley pattern than you can shake a staff at

A perfect 45. Peerless, and nearly 45 years since its original release, still wholly inimitable.

Involving all the studio trickery that producer, Norman Smith could muster in the early summer of 1967, the real magic of "See Emily Play" is in the song and its performance; the otherwordliness that an allegedly resistant Syd Barrett brought to bear on the recording session.

Childhood friend, David Gilmour - invited by Barrett to those very sessions - later went on record as saying this marked the point of the tipping of the scales and the first outward manifestation of Syd's withdrawl into secrecy and detachment. Ill at ease with what he considered a betrayal on Norman's part, Barrett was appalled by the sheer weight of the production values and retreated into the corner to lay down some traditional slide guitar. Whipping out a Zippo lighter in protest. Just to demonstrate how it ought to be done.

He appeared not to acknowledge Gilmour's intrusion. Or recognize him at all.

Much of what transpired during those sessions is anecdotal and uncorroborated. No paperwork exists in EMI's archive, and the 4 Track master reel was either wiped for subsequent reuse or lost entirely. Hence, the fact "See Emily Play" remains unissued as a genuine stereo remix.

Engineer, Jeff Jarrett's recollection is of an extended, meandering piece cruelly edited down by Smith for radio play; its bridges recorded at Syd's intended pace and doctored to pander to the prevailing zeitgeist. However intriguing, Smith's creative overruling - his determination, maybe, not to be outdone by George Martin - was inspired. A little short of three minutes, he achieves more here for the Pink Floyd than The Beatles ever did over both sides of their supremely overrated "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band".

Pink Floyd performed the song on three separate occasions in July, 1967 for the BBC, broadcast live on 'Top of the Pops". While it sealed international recognition for the band, Syd seethed at his being cast as a model pop idol in the same mould as so much industry fodder.

As I touched on in 2008, when contrasting both incarnations of the Pink Floyd:

"There is only ten years between them, like warring siblings, but a lot of water under the bridge. Pink Floyd's "Animals" was their contribution to 1977's summer of contempt, and the ostracized Syd was by that time as bloated and confused as Roger Waters' mutinous vision.

Pink Floyd may not have been flavour of the month on the Kings Road in 1977, but you would have been hard pushed to find anybody with a safety pin through their nose who had a bad word to say about Syd Barrett.

Originally released on June 16, the flip side to this single would later be found too on August's "The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn", hitting the shops as the solstice celebrations faded towards autumn with the approaching equinox. Wizard. If you hadn't bought "Emily" a month or two earlier you might possibly have been in for a rude awakening since it didn't make the album. While Syd was on the throne, the Pink Floyd were still very much a singles band. Fast forward ten years and the deal couldn't have been more different."

One might speculate endlessly on Syd's mental condition till the cows come home or are ravaged by dogs. On "Atom Heart Mother" or "Animals".

Over the "Dark Side of the Moon".

Having pevaricated with the best of them
, revisiting the scene of countless accidents and incidents along the way, in the end I am more inclined to believe his paranoia was less as a result of undiagnosed Schizophrenia than the impact of too many drugs on a guileless underlying personality. Much like Brian Jones, it was not the betrayal of any regal blues legacy which did for him in the end, but the brutal machinations and sibling rivalries within the family unit he once presided over. With so much personal identity invested in it, steal it away and there is scarcely anything left of substance.

Syd Barrett was a mover; no architect he. A casualty in a feudal game of chess, his emotional ruin was orchestrated with a clinical disregard for cause and effect. Far from being some unfortunate plagued by demons or rendered unfit by mental illness, he simply floundered in the attempt to assert authority outwith the Pink Floyd. Both his solo albums, "The Macap Laughs" and "Barrett", continue in the same lyrical vein he was previously applauded for, but the tone is at odds with the painstakingly crafted stadium filler the 'new' Pink Floyd would become adept at. Neither are the product of a "broken mind", or some idiot savant, no matter how difficult it may have been to tease a performance from him or polish this newer material into broadly marketable 'units'.

In an interview with Giovanni Dadomo from 1971 - unpublished until 1974 when it appeared in issue #9 of the Barrett fanzine, 'Terrapin' - our crazy diamond is strikingly coherent if noticeably weary, to the point of spent:

GD: Are you into other people's music?
SB: I don't really buy many records, there's so much around that you don't know what to listen to. All I've got at home is Bo Diddley, some Stones and Beatles stuff and old jazz records. I like Family, they do some nice things...

GD: What about the future? Are you looking forward to singing and playing again?
SB: Yes, that would be nice. I used to enjoy it, it was a gas. But so's doing nothing. It's art school laziness, really. I've got this Wembley gig and then another thing in summer.

Syd Barrett was always a raw and mercurial talent.

If the litmus test for creative flair is the calculated cynicism which would deliver "The Final Cut" just fourteen years later, I do not believe Roger Keith Barrett would have cared to participate. Let alone turn up for the exam.

Allow me to add this. There is on hell of lot of dreary motherf@ckers out there passing for 'normal'. Not one of them would I invite home or break bread with.

Syd Barrett: guitar, lead vocals;
Roger Waters: bass, vocals;
Richard Wright: keyboards, organ, vocals;
Nick Mason: drums.

Produced by Norman Smith.
Engineered by Jeff Jarrett.

PINK FLOYD: SEE EMILY PLAY from "See Emily Play b/w The Scarecrow" 45 (Columbia/EMI) 1967 (UK)
PINK FLOYD: SCARECROW from "See Emily Play b/w The Scarecrow" 45 (Columbia/EMI) 1967 (UK)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

colour as our keyboard

detail from "farbstudie quadrate" by wassily kandinsky, oil on canvas.

Take #3, 
Recorded 14th July 1970, Abbey Road Studios.
Syd Barrett: guitar, vocals;
David Gilmour: bass; drums.
Richard Wright: organ, piano, harmonium.

Engineered by Peter Brown.
Produced by David Gilmour and Richard Wright.

Because life is duller without a little Syd.
SYD BARRETT: DOMINOES from "Barrett" LP (EMI Harvest) 1970 (UK)

excerpts from the ghost train


You might recall sly stooping, a little
frozen rancour on the turnstile.
A ladybird caught in the corner
of my mouth, pubic hairs
between my teeth. Snowballs.

Slipping in front of a House of Cards.


And then there was the barker
belching, tempting good grace.
The taint of cockles and
whelks, snails on the puckered lip
of a lurid painted precipice.

A wall of sudden death.


Of course, that is the wicked thing
about detours. Shortcomings.
Often there is just dereliction in
addressing the germ of things.


And again. The old lady in the sideshow
was only so much of a charlatan
as demand allows. Fair game for change.
A pastry in a blonde wig on a Saturday.

Black and Tan. Ill.

Stiff as a motherfucking board.


Rusting zippers and jammy fortune,
fair to middling.
The running soft to firm.
Long gone now, I expect.
A faltered scam laid out flat on the slab.
Or spirited away in a puff of smoke;
There is magic in a gypsy funeral.


A halogen lamp on a stairwell. A bike
of wasps travelling in circus formation.
The unstung heckler at the back of the tent.
A collapsed lung. A handkerchief waiving.

Hammer and tong on a bed of nails.

illustration by ib.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

the dub that would not die

#LPIR 0001.

"an i far an i... a toot' far a tooth..."

Resurrected. From the excellent Trojan 2007 remasters, originally mentioned here; issued on the twin CD, "
Ape-Ology". To what extent Scratch utilized the engineering skills of Osbourne Ruddock or Jammy on this is subject to dub-ate.

King Tubby would revisit Super Ape on "A Noisy Place" on his Home Town Hi-Fi.

THE UPSETTERS: RETURN OF THE SUPER APE from "Return Of The Super Ape" LP (Lion of Judah / Upsetter) 1977 (Jamaica)

Monday, February 15, 2010

the flywheel gathers impetus on the down time

My amiable and anonymous contact from Oreaganomics e-mailed me out the blue late last week to tip me off to this burnt offering by G.O.A.T., Garden on a Trampoline, a project fronted by James Eric:

"James has been actively recording since the year 2000, but started writing songs after a near-death experience left him with only one lung and a weakened immune system back in 1996 during his senior year of high school after contracting a rare, life-threatening bacteria."

- Bio, CLLCT, G.O.A.T.

Now. A word or two regarding CLLCT: both Oreagonomics and G.O.A.T. are represented by The Collective Family - CLLCT - an online community engaged in the FREE distribution of music by its subscribing artists; a selfless ethos designed to promote open communication and the dispersal of independently created music without bias.

Or capitulation to market forces. To date, CLLCT represents 712 artists, and 1281 releases. Its community is constantly expanding.

And, quite unlike superficially similar resources, CLLCT does not operate on any prerequisite engineered to capture personal details or lock its users into a contract. In short, the material hosted is available for direct download without limit or restriction.

Eric recently uploaded a new collection of self-penned material to CLLCT, "Postcards from Telstar", very loosely a paean to electronic postcards as transmitted from the communications satellite adrift in perpeptual orbit.

Most of its songs touch on a multitude of personal themes Joe Meek was never able to candidly explore. What those postcards most apparently share with Meek is the dark heart of alienation guided by an obsession with unseen forces. The gravitational pull of massive astral entities. Dwarf Stars and holes seeded with dark matter.

Lend G.O.A.T. your ear. Then proceed to the "complete BS... from way back" of "Self Assembled Martyr" by Oreaganomics: a drunken, fumbled communion in a mobile church with a jug of Thunderbird served up in the chalice. Unholy bullshit, maybe, but - lest we forget - one of Oreaganomics came into the fold after abandoning his calling. Reminds vaguely of Holy Modal Rounders and the Fugs.

Half-assed, vicarious fun.

Lend both ears. Better still, call CLLCT; 100% toll free and serving the people.

GARDEN ON A TRAMPOLINE: GOODBYE HORSES (Q.LAZARUS COVER) from "Postcards From Telstar" Digital Download (CLLCT) 2010 (US)
OREAGANOMICS: SELF ASSEMBLED MARTYR from "Apathy Is A Girl With A Penis (2nd Version)" Digital Download (CLLCT) ? (US)


Sunday, February 14, 2010

february 14th, sunday, roller girl

The rain was just beginning to hiss when I stole out my front door this morning. Leaving my wife in bed with her mouth fastened on the pillow; a tidy pocket of drool collecting in the corner of our marital bed.

Before I was even half way there I had to stop. Sheltering in a doorway to allow my circulation to recover from the endless cocktail of cigarettes and carbohydrates. I was starched and gagging for a nicotine fix but I had a plan.

I was downtown by the back of ten. Not bad for a fat man on two bad feet. The streets were still relatively empty. I felt a little smug until I put my hand on the first door on my list. The grills were up but there was nobody home.

F@cking Sunday shut out, St. Valentine's Day or not.

I made a mental calculation. If I crossed the street to buy some socks, I might still make the florist's before the rush. £4.99 for three f@cking pairs. Since my wife has commandeered the washing machine I have sixteen individual socks without a partner. Short of a summary amputation, I am a sole trader on the hop. I walked a block and bought a packet of cigarettes. Stood in the rain, and smoked two right off the bat. I paid for the socks and came back out to find a queue of elderly women waiting to get inside and make off with the shelves of freshly baked bread. Bastard.

The "Pound-Stop" directly across was open and in business. A steady trickle of teenage boys and pensioners in baseball caps. Emerging with two foot square packages to bring back home to wives and partners with blackened eyes. Fat lips. Bruises. The bigger the better to make an unflinching declaration of love.

"Get that fucking kettle on, doll. I'm parched."

Well. Our foray into Helmand Province is rolling nicely, thank you. Paved with a Georgian blood sacrifice in Vancouver ahead of the luge.

I smoked another cigarette and extinguished it just in time to get in there and buy red roses. My relief was almost palpable, incurable romantic that I am. Still. Better to capitulate in time than bleed out on the tarmac.

"See ? It ain't f@cking loaded, muthaf@cker..."

BIG STAR: YOU GET WHAT YOU DESERVE from "Ardent Studio Sessions (1972-73)" CD (Bootleg) 1973 (US)
THE ROLLING STONES: OUT OF TIME from "Aftermath" LP (Decca) 1966 (UK)
HEATWAVE: BOOGIE NIGHTS from "Boogie Nights b/w Too Hot To Handle" 45 (GTO / Epic) 1976 (US)

Saturday, February 13, 2010

heavy sarsaparilla

...any allusion to crème brûlée is entirely coincidental.

If you are diligent in keeping an ear close to the tracks, you will probably be familiar with Milwaukee's Creme Soda. Their sole release, 1975's "Tricky Zingers" has gathered a fair bit of attention; more so the proto-punk babble of the 45 it spawned, "(I'm) Chewing Gum", backed with the strikingly gentle, "Roses All Around", from the same album. The blog Ugly Things picked up the gum under a feature on "Primitive Shit Music" a few years back, as did The Lunatic Asylum operating out of Canada.

Somewhere down the line, although I forget where precisely, it adhered to my shoe - my sneaker soul, to be unkind - and I've never quite managed to scrape it loose. Carapaced on the outside only, "(I'm) Chewing Gum" attached itself like a limpet somewhere on my drive. Very occasionally I might stumble on it, and evey time I do I am reminded that what made Milwaukee famous is far from all she wrote.

The disparate four piece seemingly forged a working aliance sometime in 1972. Maybe they were just bored. It stretches credulity to believe they might have found genuine favour in their native Wisconsin, but who can say for sure. In an interview from 1974 which eventually ran, after a fashion, in an undisclosed Chicago based periodical, Creme Soda appear distracted if not downright uncooperative. Well. Keen to point out that they make use of a kitchen sink where a cowbell is suspected, at least.

That is not to suggest that Creme Soda were not prepared to make a desparate (lemonade) stand:

"On June 29, 1974, at about noon in downtown Milwaukee, at the southeast corner of Water & Michigan, on the fifth storey ledge of the Mitchell Building, Billy Tanon announced to the world that "Creme Soda is more than just soda-pop!" Armed with a megaphone he proceeded to 'broadcast' that mesage for five hours, all in vain - the world just wasn't listening. However, the police were listeningand helped our hero down from the dangers of the open ledge..."

- Nozmoe Wrabenawitz; sleevnotes, "Tricky Zingers", Trinity Records.

There is no mention that Tanon's antics attracted a crowd.

Unlike the Wild Bunch down in San Rafael, they bit the dust without much stir. Spilling copious amounts of syrup where William Holden and Ernest Borgnine laid it down in blood. Or. As copious a measure of Creme Soda as the tiny Trinity imprint could muster.

"Tricky Zingers" is an contrary animal. Every song on it wanders off tangentially at the drop of a hat, jerking the listener's ears this way and that as they stamp over tumbleweed before reining it in and heading off to the drugstore. As many flavours as sodas on the counter or out front in the gumball machine. "Keep It Heavy", in particular, is a wonderful song - a pristine gem with traces of Eno's "Baby's On Fire" as reinterpreted by Peter Laughner - wholly at odds with their Hasel Adkins tinged "(I'm) Chewing Gum". If Greg Shaw of Bomp! Records - who signed off the LP with on a glowing note - held real collateral then, Creme Soda might have made it onto a million doorsteps with the morning's milk delivery.

Then again, probably not. There and gone in the time it takes to grow a beard.
Billy Tanon: guitar, mandolin, bass, harp, bowed guitar, vocals;
Art Hicks: drums, bongos, dahka-de-bello, vocals;
Jim Wilson: bass guitar, piano, percussion, vocals;
Ron Juntunen: electric guitar, acoustic guitar, slide guitar, bass.

Recorded at Trinity "multi-hundred dollar international" Studios, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

CREME SODA: KEEP IT HEAVY from "Tricky Zingers" LP (Trinity Records) 1975 (US)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

le prugne elettriche #0532

Reprise 0532.

Mere mention of the legendary 1972 compilation, "Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era" - a double LP featuring the Barbarians' "Moulty", among a plethora of assorted lysergic and garage distillations - is sufficient to prompt the reversed guitar intro to this Annette Tucker and Nancie Mantz penned 45 to begin percolating in my brain.

Compiled by Elektra impressario Jack Holzman and Lenny Kaye, it is almost impossible to overrate the spell this release wielded over a generation of apprentice troglodytes desperate to escape the indulged mainstream of the early to mid seventies. This was especially true in the UK where merely a documented association with the US underground merited appreciation.

While The Clash famously dug deep in Jamaican dub to chanel an untapped resource, it was always first and foremost the frenetic angst of the Stooges and the MC5 to the remote junkie glamour of The Velvet Underground which fueled the devolution from studio excess to the rudimentary copycat two chord thrash of punk. Rock n' Roll. A straight line back through Lenny Kaye himself, as an integral part of the Patti Smith Group, to Fred "Sonic" Smith and the anarchy of 1960's Detroit.

And for all that The Damned's guitarist Brian James wallowed in the delinquency of the Stooges' first two Elektra releases, Captain Sensible remained unrepentantly vocal in his allegiance to Syd Barrett's Pink Floyd and all things Psychedelic; if not phsychotropically deranged.

The Electric Prunes were cultivated and seasoned in the urban heat of the San Fernando Valley, Los Angeles, grown from the seeds of a group originally known as The Sanctions. Through their association with sound engineer, David Hassinger of RCA, the Prunes were introduced to Leon Russell who operated his own home-based Sky Hill Studios and encouraged to cut a demo. Their first single "Ain't It Hard b/w Little Olive" flopped abysmally. Their second, a composition by the established songwriting partnership of Tucker and Mantz - this time around cherrypicked by Hassinger - peaked at number 11 in the Billboard Charts. It barely scraped the Top 50 in the UK, but that alone was sufficient for it gain cult notoriety, championed as it was first by DJ John Peel and later, Annie Nightingale on BBC Radio 1.

The looping reversed guitar which opens the 45 was allegedly recorded in Russell's home studio on a 1958 Les Paul with a Bigsby Vibrato Unit.

Lead guitarist, Ken Williams observed: 

"We were recording on a four-track, and just flipping the tape over and re-recording when we got to the end. Dave cued up a tape and didn't hit 'record,' and the playback in the studio was way up: ear-shattering vibrating jet guitar... Forward it was cool. Backward it was amazing. I ran into the control room and said, 'What was that?' " 

The rest, as "Nuggets" attests, is punk rock history. Less kaftan and beads than homicide tainted insomnia and a trolley ride on a psychiatric wing. Quaaludes.

James Lowe: vocals; 
Ken Williams: lead guitar; 
James "Weasel" Spagnola: rhthym guitar;
Mark Tulin: bass;
Preston Ritter: drums.
Recorded at American Recording Company, Power House, Hollywood, CA.
Produced by David Hassinger.

THE ELECTRIC PRUNES: I HAD TOO MUCH TO DREAM (LAST NIGHT) from "I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night) b/w Luvin'" 45 (Reprise) 1966 (US)

plucky beggar

If Jil is Lucky, I am too. Fortunate that this overture was not rudely swallowed in the ocean of spam promising Ugandan tax free dollars and counterfeit pills to graft on an erection.

Jil, it appears, is a twenty-four-year-old itinerant "wanderer". Living in Paris for now, quite possibly flying by night at Harlem’s All Saints Church, or promenading on the Andes Road. According to his EMI sponsored press release, he handpicked those musicians who trade notes on his LP "between Prague’s ghetto and the fiery neighborhoods of Algeria’s Sidi Bel-Abbès".

I don't know quite whether to believe this or not. The world is framed by spin.

Jil's "world', on the contrary, "is deeply religious. My brother is the muslim, the pope is on my right, the Hindu one behind, and my feet form the ninth branch of a menorah..." And so on.

Whatever the prosaic reality - prozac, even - I found myself quite enjoying a number of those songs which punctuate the chutzpah. This one in particular, which reminds me vaguely of something Tom Verlaine's Television might have transmitted during, or just after, their "Adventure" broadcast of 1979.

If you are less insulted than impressed, Jil is Lucky will be performing in London at The Monton Water Rats, March 9th. And if that still doesn't appease said injurious slant, one might still procure a ticket for their February 13th show at Le Rack AM, Bretigny Sur Orge.

photograph by raphael lugassey.

JIL IS LUCKY: I MAY BE LATE from "Jil Is Lucky" LP (Roy / EMI) 2010

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

beat the devil's tattoo

The new album from L.A.'s Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, "Beat the Devil's Tattoo", is rolling out now in chop shops here and in their native USA, with Raveonette Leah Shapiro continuing to 'temporarily' sport the rocker patch formerly inked like a rod on one-percenter, Nick Jago's back.

Riding in formation over the full tilt engine throttle of 2008's entirely instrumental digital download, "The Effects of 333", "Beat the Devil's Tatt
oo" - title track and promo 45 - is a measured exercise in ominous tub thumping and clubhouse steel. Less flying their colors than surfacing out of a hangover on the morning of a funeral run. Expectorating a lungful of anticipated ashes.

The yellowed mattress on the floor.
A hulking Indian fork down in the weeds.

Stay with it, and the heel jams down to kick start it in the spitting February rain.
Like properly cured leathers, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club have aged rather well.

Peter Hayes: vocals, guitar, bass, synthesizer;
Robert Levon Been: vocals, bass, guitar, piano;
Leah Shapiro: drums, percussion.
Recorded The Basement Studio, Philadelphia, PA.

BLACK REBEL MOTORCYCLE CLUB: BEAT THE DEVIL'S TATTOO from "Beat The Devil's Tattoo" LP (Abstract Dragon / Vagrant Records) 2010 (US)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

off the hook

bev davis and barbarians, toronto, 1965.

"This photo was taken at the Ford Hotel in Toronto. The 2 clean cut young men were in a band called The Barbarians. The impossibly young woman is me. Geoffrey Morris, me and Bruce Benson... I just noticed the phone off the hook."

A re-up of a post from July 20th, 2008; a post that keeps gathering comments, most recently in the shape of this anonymous recollection of a louche teenage Victor Moulton, baiting the lines down by the pier:

"I knew Moulty when he went to Thompson Academy, a school in Boston Harbor, which was a private school for "wayward" boys. He was KOOl, good looking and polite for a heroin junkie..."


"Pre-dating The Seeds even, The Barbarians - formed in 1963 - were a proto-punk garage band straight out of Provincetown, Massachusetts.

The 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, 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 an appearance on 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 hawks. laurie LR 3326. written by e. greenberg & d. morris:

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 healing arms.

m-m-m-m-moulty ! don't turn away.

jackperson59: I'm still waiting for that pic you promised of your sister, her schoolfriends and Moulty posing in his parents' backyard. E-mail me and I'll gladly tag it on here.

THE BARBARIANS: MOULTY from "Moulty b/w I'll Keep On Seeing You" 45 (Laurie) 1966 (US)


a shoe box. strings. a rollerskate

Engineered by David Howard Baker, Apostolic Recording Studios, New York City.

SONNY SHARROCK: BLIND WILLY from "Black Woman" LP (Vortex) 1969 (US)

savage fingers forge peaceful

Recorded March 21st, 1974: Studio A, WKCR FM, Columbia University, NYC. 

Sonny Sharrock: guitar;
Abe Speller: drums;

Jose Santos: percussion;
Dave Arches: bass;

Linda Sharrock: vocals.


Warren Harding "Sonny" Sharrock: August 27th, 1940 - May 26th, 1994.
Linda Sharrock, top, by Peter Bastian.

SAVAGES: PEACEFUL from "Live Broadcacast WKCR: 21/03/74" (Archive) 1974 (US)
SAVAGES: SWEET BUTTERFINGERS from "Live Broadcacast WKCR: 21/03/74" (Archive) 1974 (US)