Thursday, February 24, 2005

Put your bad records that make you act like a sex animal on the fire to burn

Download: HALF JAPANESE "Fire to Burn"

There was a brief time in the early 1980s when Half Japanese were clearly the best band on Earth. I never saw them with the "big band" but I did see them at a record store in North Miami twenty years ago, not long after the album this song is from, Our Solar System, was recorded. Especially live, there was such sexuality and pathos to their deliberate primitivism, as well as just that total joy in acting like a kid that so many of my favorite artists and people maintain well into and past adulthood. Mark Jickling is great on guitar here -- woah, it looks like he and Chris from the Tinklers have a new group that sets old Greek poetry to music, I have to hear that. David Fair was way more an important part of the band than I'd realized he'd be, until I saw them play back then. What a towering, strangely brilliant guy -- kind of like David Thomas minus the shoulder chip or something. Half Japanese was clearly a big influence on the development of the Int'l Pop Underground and I think Kramer copped more than a bit of his Reverbomatik schtick from the sound of their albums, as well. This song totally sounds like a Noise New York thing to me. Anyway, this here is one of my favorite songs about record burning, ever.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

In my own dream

Download: EDITH FROST "Dreamers"
Download: THE BEARER "35 MM Dreams"
Download: KAREN DALTON "In My Own Dream"
Download: LA MONTE YOUNG "Dream House 1973"
Download: DREAM LOVERS "Song For My Daughter"
Download: IVOR CUTLER "Glasgow Dreamer Episode 1"
Download: LOUVIN BROTHERS "When I Stop Dreaming"
Download: JEFF MANGUM "My Dream Girl Doesn't Exist"
Download: NEW ORDER "Dreams Never End (live NZ 1982)"
Download: TIM HARDIN "How Can We Hang On To A Dream"

Man, I've had the craziest dreams lately. Not sleeping that much as I race to finish the MBV book as well as do other writing for rent, etc. The more my sleep is interrupted the better I remember my dreams, it seems. Are you one of those lucid dreamers? I am way too insane to be able to do that. What do you dream about? Usually zombies and robots are trying to kill me in mine. And sure there's sex, but it's not robot zombie sex, hot as that would be of course...

To make up for not posting much the last few weeks, here's a mini-mix-tape for you. Songs I did not post 'cause you should have them already include everything by the Dream Syndicate, Suicide's "Dream Baby Dream," "Levin Dream" by Sneaky Feelings, Amp Fiddler's "Dreamin'," De La Soul's masturbation ode "Dreams of the Funky Towel," Husker Du's "Recurring Dreams," that great early Sonic Youth song "I Dreamed I Dream," the 14 Roy Orbison songs that would fit here, that lovely little Sun Ra ditty "I Dream Too Much," and Television's "The Dream's Dream" from the Portland bootleg.

The Edith Frost song is from her MP3 Interwebnet album Demos. The song by The Bearer is from the essential collection Messthetics Vol. 2. The Karen Dalton song is from her second album, 1971's In My Own Time, which remains un-reissued for some screwy reason. The La Monte Young piece is from the Fluxus Anthology CD, which is archived as MP3s at the always amazing Ubuweb. The Dream Lovers tune is from a great unreleased album by them; a shortened version of this song appears on the CD accompanying YETI 3. The Ivor Cutler thing is him reading from his book of the same name. The Louvins tune is a bit of a cheat since it's by no means rare, but I had to do something to honor this amazing group, especially considering that Charlie Louvin of the Louvin Brothers celebrates 50 years of performing at the Opry this Friday (!) and sure his voice is pretty much gone at this point but dammit that guy is so sweet -- you really should make it to the tiny museum he runs in Bell Buckle, TN in honor of his group sometime soon, it's heart-breaking and excellent, but there he is himself at his own museum, mere yards from grizzly photographs of his brother’s deadly car accident. Woah. The Jeff Mangum song is from that tape made of his infamous solo show at Aquarius Records of July 4th, 1996. The New Order tune may be shitty sound quality but I love the performance -- it's from New Zealand, at the Hillsborough Hotel in Christchurch, in December of 1982. The Tim Hardin number is from that two disc collection of his Verve recordings. It’s probably the only single song covered by Nazareth, the Nice, and Marianne Faithful -- aside from “Happy Birthday,” perhaps.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Anchor dragging behind

Download: MINUTEMEN "The Red and the Black (live)"
Download: MINUTEMEN "The Product (live)"
Download: MINUTEMEN "Political Song for Michael Jackson to Sing (live)"

You probably already know that there's a Minutemen documentary called "We Jam Econo" premiering this Friday in Pedro. These here MP3s were procured from the awesome Corndogs site which has a judicious selection of live Minutemen stuff as well as more recent Watt projects -- lots of it as flac files, and there's video, too -- easy way to lose an afternoon. The first tune sounds like a board tape, and it's labelled from December 1st in San Francisco, opening up for P.I.L. at the Stone.

The second and third tunes are from the Minutemen's gig at Flynn's on Miami Beach on August 2, 1984, which was broadcast live on the radio. I used to have a cassette copy much closer to the original master than these MP3s -- in my first year at NYU, I lent the tape to my pal Greggg who was so blown away by it he said "Man, I'd be more careful with that tape than I would be in getting a girl pregnant!" I've since lost that tape, and never gotten anyone pregnant. That I know of anyway.

So, I was at that show at Flynn's, and, as it was the best show I'd ever seen (and perhaps since!) I snuck out to the one the next night even though it meant I got grounded for two months afterward. I'd gotten in the first night at 4AM; it was summer vacation time but my folks were not happy about their delinquent stoner almost-tenth grader getting in so late after being out with people in their twenties all night!

The only time I ever shaved my head is when Dennes Dale Boon passed away -- a friend from SST called to tell me that the Minutemen's van had flipped. Fuck, I must have cried for days! They were my favorite band and that guy had such a warmth of spirit -- we corresponded really briefly around the time of this show. I still think about D. Boon all the time. I even wonder if there is any truth to Glenn Branca's assertion that the FBI had D. killed. Probably not, but who knows?

PS: In case you were wondering, I do not look good as a skin, as my scalp is kind of blue.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

I like it that way


Hope all my single brethren and sisteren had a groovy holiday yesterday, and maybe even picked up some chocolate half-price today? Yes. Me, I went to a 5-course dinner hosted by my friend Jason who's one of the best fancypants chefs in town, followed by late night making out with a rad girl -- that's about as livejournal as this dorkblog is gonna get! A'ight.

New Zealand still on the brain -- OK, I'll go with it. The Jean Paul Sartre Experience made three albums, all of them worth hearing. Their first, 1987's Love Songs, is the best one. This is from the walk-into-Pier-Platters-go-straight-to-the-New-
Zealand-section-and-buy-any-cool-looking-record-by-a-band- you've-never-heard -before era. That's how I got turned on to the brilliant JPSE (though it was reissued a year later Stateside by Communion), as well as the very great and still not yet reissued Alpaca Brothers EP, Look Blue Go Purple and the Bird Nest Roys, and ohhh man how I wish I still had my copy of DR501(c)3 or whatever it's called, you know, the first Dead C album on Flying Nun? "The Wheel" -- now there's a song...

PS: This link comes from Gerard via Brian Turner, just so you don't think I'm into saran wrap like that or anything.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Why don't you do yourself in

Download: THE CLEAN "Getting Older (demo)"

Got New Zealand on the brain very much lately for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that I've turned a new friend on to the Jean Paul Sartre Experience and her unbridled interest in that band is really cool, and has me digging out all manner of brilliant NZ early '80s noise-pop. Here we have a vaguely narcoleptic take ca. 1980 or so of "Older" by one of our favorite bands ever ever ever. It's from the out of print and hit-or-miss Clean disc Odditties (culled from two cassette-only releases, Oddities 1 and 2) which shows that a lame little toss-off tune by a group you adore is still better than almost anything else. This is why pre-Tommy Who bootlegs are so great, and why people who think only pristine, finished versions of albums that appear solely as the artist intended are totally tools.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

I feel my power?

Download: BLACK FLAG "I Love You (demo)"

Sorry to not have posted yet this week -- am super busy. This song is for you, baby, in honor of St. Valentine, who is of course the saint who invented greeting cards, and red candy.

I doubt you'll be blown away when I tell you that in the early '80s, Black Flag were one of the most weird, powerful (l-o-u-d) bands around, especially live. But they just seem either taken for granted or seen as macho prigs today (how DID Kendra manage to stay in that band, anyway?) Getting hair-whipped by Greg Ginn was a rite of passage for all geeks -- and anyone within five feet of the stage would get drenched by the paranoid pothead's sweat as it flew from his locks. This song is from the '82 demo, the time when the group was land-locked by a bad record deal and forced to wait years to re-record and release the same material. I think that experience kind of made everyone in the band insane.

I used to have a cassette that was totally high generation of this material, but this doesn't sound too bad. You can't hear Dez too well on this version, and that's not good -- when Dez Cadena and Greg Ginn both played twin leads in this band, it approached the zig-zaggin' free jazz hardcore Marquee Moon of your dreams. He gets a lot of flack, but Henry was a really good front dude for the first few years -- he was obviously really smart and could yell very well. He had not yet become a tool, is what I'm saying. Listening to this stuff for the first time in years, Henry's lyrics seem so weirdly self-actualized they coulda been written by Stuart Smalley in a fit. At the time they sounded so intense; now they just sound silly. That's probably my own age showing more than anything, though...

I once witnessed Henry be rather sweet, humbled even, in front of my friend the Chairman, about a year after this song was recorded. The Chairman was in his late 30s or early 40s, bearded, big, and spoke slowly. He sounded kind of like Tom Waits and dressed in Hawaiian shirts he got at thrift stores and flea markets, and he knew a lot about music. When the Chariman entered the record store I worked at and spent all my free time in, Yardbird Records, whoever was sitting in the shop's sole chair would get up and let him sit in it... I just realized this is not a very good story at all, but so Black Flag were in town and the promoter for the club they were playing at (Richard Shelter for Flynn's) was driving Hank around. They came into the store and Henry all coolly asked if we had this one particular John Lee Hooker record (maybe it was one of the ones he made with the Groundhogs?) and the Chairman schooled him for twenty minutes on John Lee Hooker, like, just flat-out schooled him. It was beautiful. I told you it was a lame story! Nils has the best Henry story, anyway.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Ice cream stains on pantyhose

Download: SCHLOCKHAUSEN "Cracker"

When I got stabbed in the heart twelve years ago, I had no insurance. So naturally, the hospital kicked my ass out as soon as I could stand upright. (I'm not bitter about this or anything -- the wonderful people at the Bellevue E.R. totally saved my life!, and this thing called Crime Victims Services ponied up the dough for the surgery.)

Considering what had happened (it was a mugging and I didn't have any money...), after collapsed lung and open heart and lung surgeries, everyone who came to visit me there thought I'd be in the hospital for a loooooong time, so they brought me things--big-ass books and Walkmans, stuff like that. Never mind that I was too out of it to read anything at the time, but it was nice to be thought of as someone who does read books.

I remember, after a scant nine days in the hospital, most of that spent in intensive care, getting booted out of there that day, then lugging these two shopping bags full of stuff by myself from the hosptial to the curb, and finally realizing that old people walk really slowly because they have no fucking choice, alsothinking I might be having a heart attack right then, but no, I was wrong, that's just what it feels like to recover from that kinda trauma.

I went to stay with my friends Robert and Michael, who had this really cool building out on the cusp of Wmsburg and Greenpoint—out of all my pals they actually had room for me and are just great people. I convalesced there a week, and I still owe them for that. Robert and Michael were best pals with two girls, Kate Schmitz and Sally Ross, as well as my own friend from art school, Alex Brown. I had the hugest crushes on both Kate and Sally but got to be pretty good pals with Kate despite the fact I'd occasionally just go totally doe-eyed with her in the middle of a conversation. This was vitiated by the fact that she either never noticed or pretended not to notice, and my heart has thankfully since learned not to get too hung up on both unavailable people and friends.

Anyway, all these people were a little bit older than me, just by a few years, but all were really talented and obsessive and busy and totally fucking fun. Especially Robert, who was emotionally volatile and at least a little bit of a drunk I think it's fair to say (I was already a junkie, though I thought I was keeping it secret, hah). Robert was like Joe Brainard meets Ed Gein; he did these brutal cutups of comic strips that were amazing.

So this here song is by Robert, whose art just keeps getting dirtier and stranger and better across the board. He should be one hundred per cent famous! This song rules. His wall of large paintings on paper at the "Nuggets" show I curated at Big Cat a year ago was one of the hits of the show, and it was really a great event, too. This is what his wall at the show looked like. And here is what he looks like. And here's what I wrote for the show's "program": ROBERT MCCORMACK lives in New Jersey somewhere. I once described his work as “a Philip Guston wackypack” and that’s pretty lazy but you get the idea. I love his work. Robert describes himself as “very dirty and very gay” so you should befriend him right now.

Hippie music with flute alert!

Download: ROBBIE BASHO "Tassajara (Zen Shinji)"

That’s Robbie Basho on six string guitar and Susan Graubard on flute. This is from Basho’s fourth album for Takoma, The Falconer’s Arm Volume 1, my personal favorite. The tune doesn’t appear on either of the Basho CDs that exist, and sure, it’s crazy hippies skipping naked through the fields intoxicated by Near Eastern exoticism and the musky scent of their own nakedness music, but I still kind of love it.

PS: Speaking of Fahey's label, I just got this on vinyl yesterday and will post something from it soon. The same day I picked up this for cheap(ish) in absolutely mint condition (did I really just say that? please kill me) so I'll be rocking it when I next DJ out and about.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Her planet and her head were one

Download: MYSTERY ARTIST "Song"

I'm not saying the name of this band even though it'll probably be readily apparent 'cause if I told you who it was ahead of time you'd probably be all like "Dude doesn't that group suck as hard as They Might Be Giants?! I don't need any faux-smartypants collegeboy shit on my computer, well, any more of it anyway!" but I'm telling you, this song is worthy. It's from 1988, the song. I used to walk throughout Long Island City listening to it on my walkman, and...

*WHISPERING* OK if you've made it this far I can tell you that the song is called "When She Closed Her Eyes" by King Missile back when they were called King Missile Dog Fly Religion which is when Stephen Tunney AKA Dogbowl was still in the group and they were at their total best at that time. It is off of a record called They that I like very much, in small doses. Dogbowl's FLAN album is fucking good, too. The book of the same name, published by 4 Walls Eight Windows some dozen years ago, is also really good -- it's about a guy who wakes up and the world is on fire and he and his talking fish have to get crosstown to find his girlfriend. It's like that Hal Hartley movie abou tthe end of the world meets that "Big Fish" movie, only far better than either of them.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Are you coming to or coming from?

Download: SLAPP HAPPY "The Drum"

I'm surprised how few friends know this song and it's apparently not in print anymore (and no one aside from other old farts seems to care about Bongwater's cover of it) so I post the song here. I think of this tune as a crucial part of any "indie" musical education, if not classicke rocke 101 then I guess 201, up there with "Shoplifting," "Armenia City in the Sky" and "Political Song for Michael Jackson to Sing." It's from the album Acnalbasac Noom -- the original versions of songs that later appeared on 1974's tamer Casablanca Moon. Surprise, the label (Virgin) said these versions were too rough and weird or whatever, so Slapp Happy re-recorded 'em.

The thing is, who ever thought that Slapp Happy were gonna sell any records in the first place? Why not go with their raw, freaky versions made with the raddest musicians working at the time? Would you ask the Shaggs to redo "Foot Foot" to make it more radio-friendly? I know things were different thirty years ago, but S.H. singer Dagmar Krause is hardly Eric Carman, same for songwriter/ guitarist Peter Blegvad. Robert Wyatt was quoted at the time as saying " I'd like to see Slapp Happy go straight to number one." But as much as he looks like God, I guess he in fact is not God. Do take a minute to soak that in; I'll wait.

The "raddest musicians working at the time" line refers to the fact that the Noom recordings were done in 1973, in Germany, at Faust's Wumme studio, the converted schoolhouse where all that Faustmagik happened backintheday: Faust the backing band, Uwe Nettlebeck the producer. FUCK! You could make a great record under those conditions.

Now, I fully understand that this sort of thinking which I occasionally slip into -- "Ohhh my Gawd, how can you not know every obscure musician/ artist/ author/ painter that I randomly happen to be obsessed with since I am a complete dork tryping this in my underwear right now???!!! What the fuck is wrong with you?! You never hard Skip Spence or read Against Nature? You never jerked off to a Gustave Moreau painting (not that I ever have, really -- I'm not that into mythology) and dreamt you were Victor Brauner's best friend? You do not own every single Document reissue?" -- is not the very friendliest train of thought, but I do hope it is tempered by a preacherly enthusiasm or at the least a doddering, Professor Doofus-ish uhh, "charm." I abhor obscurantism for its own sake, and always have. I think it's that ELO maimed me at such an early age? Ehh, whatever. Please stop me before I talk about ELO again.

Elitism and snobbery are unpalatable traits except when flirtingly handled by a cute person you want to have sex with, or when you're talking about a really, really obvious and objective f-a-c-t -- like how U2, Coldplay, Interpol and Modest Mouse are each far worse than Supertramp... But then, it's like, why even bother? The older I get, the less snobby I am. Really!!!

Plus also too -- wasn't that an experimental British band in the early '80s with a girl singer? Plus Also Too? -- I only get a Scrawl album returned for my search results -- now there is a band neither over nor underrated, Scrawl -- uhhhhh, where was I? Ohh yeah, cute girls tend to like those bands I just mentioned. So you're pretty much fucked (or more precisely not-fucked) if you act all ultra-exclusionist snob-boy about it all.

Anyway, back to work for me -- wish me luck getting over this cold everyone in Portland seems to have this week, despite the weather being scarily Spring-like.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

I'd move in a hurry

Download: BOBBY Charles "Tennessee Blues"

Another song from the great Bobby Charles album made with folks from the Band. I had cool but frightening apocalytpic nightmares last night, centered on the part of East Tennessee I used to live with my ex-wife -- Oak Ridge, "atomic city." So I feel obliged to post this song as I very much related to it at one point. Super busy day; gotta bail or I'd write more. Later.