Saturday, May 07, 2005

Saw you in the bathroom

REMA REMA "Rema Rema"
Walked into the great Ozone3 shop tonight to see if Bruce might perhaps have any record mailers but apparently I’m not the only one who wants them, so he said “nope!” I turn and look on the wall and there is a record I’ve been looking for for like a dozen years, ever since I got rid of it: REMA REMA! One of the greatest and dumbest records ever made. Hooray. AMG calls it "an energizing slab of lunkheaded artsiness"! I can’t believe a store with at least two DJ type dudes working at it actually sold this thing – that they didn’t pick it up first I mean. This song “Rema Rema” is soooooo good isn’t it? It’s like the high-on-cleaning-fluid version of “Hey Bo Diddley!”

The band Rema Rema had one four song 12" called Wheel in the Roses as their only release, which happened to be the first 12" on 4AD. Half the songs on it are really really good. Band members included Marco Pironi (who later went on to join Adam and the Ants), Mick Allen (ex-Models) and Mark Cox (both later of Mass and The Wolfgang Press). [Not saying they were a SUPERGROUP, just saying…] I first heard this song on that ultra-rare and awesome F.E. 7” where Big Black covered “Rema Rema.” OK I'll post that version here too: here you go. Never thought you'd see me post a tune by my arch nemesis did you? Time heals all wounds or something. Besides, Big Black's take sounds pretty bloated and pompous and at least a bit queer-baiting (of the high school variety -- the "Jimmy's on Byron's back" bit). Maybe it's harsh to call that queer baiting? Anyway, it's almost quaint.

Dude selling this 12” on eBay says this: the highly influential Burundi drum sound pre-dated that of Adam and the Ants and Bow Wow Wow. The song 'Fond Affections' was covered by This Mortal Coil on the LP It'll End In Tears. OK. Time for bed now.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

how was steve your arch nemesis??

5:08 AM  
Blogger Mike McGonigal said...

Ack, I don't want to rehash that crap -- google my name and Albinin's or Big Black and I'm sure somethign will come up, even though this all happened in the '80s, very pre-Internet.

2:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And what about the "queer-baiting" slur - no, I don't "know" at all. More info please...

10:02 AM  
Blogger Edward III said...

As one who was there as it unfolded, I'll recount the fracas so it's not lost for our digital posterity. Back in the day I read Forced Exposure more than I read Chemical Imbalance, so my take's probably a little skewed towards the queer-baiters... anyhoo...

When McGonigal was putting out his fanzine Chemical Imbalance... wait, what? Oh, fanzines were these paper things we had back before Al Gore invented the Internet, they were usually stapled together and Xeroxed and... what, what's a Xerox? Oh, forget it.

Look, McGonigal nagged Albini into letting him put an unreleased Big Black song on a 7"... look, I don't care if you don't know what a 7" is, whippersnapper, just listen along and try to follow the context, okay? Where was I?

Yeah, so, McGonigal puts out this single but Albini's buddies at the Forced Exposure fanzine started riding Steve’s ass about it, because they thought McGonigal was an art fag... what, I can't say that anymore? Jesus, okay, so they start riding Albini's ass, but not in a queer way (not that there's anything wrong with that), giving him a ration of shit 'cause now Albini had made Big Black not cool by cavalierly handing out unreleased songs to conceptually fey fanzine publishers. Probably some sour apples there too since FE had already put out its own unreleased Big Black tune on a fanzine-accompanying 7” – “Rema Rema”.

So the Forced Exposure guys, Jimmy and Byron (no, really, they were *not* gay), started printing nasty things about McGonigal in Forced Exposure, and Albini and Lydia Lunch jumped in, and bad feelings were had by all (unlike a flame war, this unfolded over several decades, because that's how long it took things to happen before we had all these worldwide Internets).

Albini printed a short story penned by Byron (the Forced Exposure Byron, not Lord Byron; remember, Lord Byron=gay and probably arty too, FE Byron=definitely *not* gay) in the liner notes of Big Black's terrible Headache EP, and that short story artfully described McGonigal protruding from the keister of a Floyd the Barber's patron, only to be dispatched by a shot to the head from Patrolman Barney Fife. Boy, was it funny!

Truth be told it was a shameful experience for all parties and Big Black broke up when McGonigal gave birth (anally, of course) to Dave Riley’s love child. Who’s Dave Riley? Well, that’s a story for another time children.

By the way that Big Black Rema Rema link isn't working anymore, did you get a letter from Albini's lawyers or what?

1:18 PM  
Blogger Mike McGonigal said...

Thanks for writing, Edward.

If the download no longer works that means it's been used a lot -- I have no server right now so I'm using these "You Send It" thingies, which expire quickly if there's a lot of interest and not so quickly if there is not so much...

As is usually the case with these things, i have a very different memory of this stuff than you seem to -- from my perspective, steve and i were friends -- i was 17 years old when we first got in touch. i got his number from our mutual friend, who was corey from touch and go's wife for a number of years.

i was a fan of albini's stuff but not like a HUGE fan of it, anyway i was bored in the suburbs of miami at the time and i'd call him about once a month at most and we'd chat half an hour to an hour or so -- sure, he never called *me* but he didn't like ever tell me to fuck off or anything!

he did say he didn't like the poetry in c.i. at the time (to which i agree today wholeheartedly), but said he didn't like poetry in general, that it was for "pussies."

i was about to head to college and he said "one word for you mcgonigal -- pussy! be sure to get laid as much as you can!" of course, i never forced him to give me a track for one of my singles; i never even paid him a cent or anything. then his letter of attrition to the f.e. powers that be came out in an issue of f.e., the gist of which was that i was really lame because i was a fat little mama's boy, if i remember correctly. perhaps i'm exaggerating it all through faulty memory? i think i have a copy of it somewhere...

i was never insinuating that anyone here is or is not "gay," FYI -- but f.e. seemed to me and others at the time to be at least a tad homophobic, which is all i was pointing out, that the "jimmy's on byron's back" line always seemed essentially just hall buddy joking about queer baiting. i didn't mean to make a big deal about that but it is part of what makes the song's approach feel strange and daed to me. you dig?

as to the whole "feud" with f.e., i am actually pretty proud that i helped stir things up by basically proposing a different approach to things.

i am not so proud of those early issues themselves or the *way* that i proposed a different approach; a lot of what i printed especially when this was happening, when i was 17, 18, 19... it was fucking dreadful and pretentious and all of that for sure. i couldn't write to save my ass at the time.

i finally met albini in person at the chicago noise pop fest, whenever that was -- 5 years ago? i went over to just intrdoduce myself and shake hands. i kind of felt like punching him so i just muttered the fucking serenity prayer under my breath or whatever and went over, extended as much warmth as i could and was met with, well, not much back. it was anticlimactic and strange, but i was glad i'd just been like "i just want to introduce myself since we've never met --i hope you're doign great!" or whatever. mac from superchunk was right there and said how he couldn't believe we'd never met before.

f.e. was far more professional in every way. it was done by people 5-15 years my senior --adults, basiclaly-- and it did a great job turning lots of folks onto amazing music of the day. it was ahead of the cure in many respects -- alan's great lamonte article an obvious case in point.

i've never been pals with byron coley, and i personally like to think i wouldn't treat even the most shit-heeled sycophantic blowhard kid the way he treated me in print, but whatever -- i have been a total ass enough times in my life i can't judge others even/ esp. when i perceive that they're asses right to me. tom greenwood actualy said the other day how coley's written a novel and i'm really curious to check that out.

i'm working on a c.i. best-of cd/ book this summer, and i am psyched as hell -- we printed a lot of amazing stuff. i don't feel the need to toot my own horn here and list the best of the best of, but the book's gonna be a benefit for a local portland rehab clinic that specializes in "lost causes" and i'm really psyched about it. it'll be interesting to see how the thign is received!

10:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just wanted to point out, in the interest of creating a complete record, that the f.e./c.i. feud was also visually memorialized in the Baboon Dooley comic strip. Or was Baboon disparaging you on other grounds?
Anyway, I found out a couple of months ago that my mom threw out my complete set of FE when she was "straightening up" the attic. Apparently, she opened an issue to see what junior was reading all those years ago and read one of Nick Cave & Lydia Lunch's one-act "plays." Don't know if you remember those. Talk about blowhards.
I gave away my FE singles, including Rema Rema, a few years ago. I'd forgotten how good the 4 A.D. bands were. Big Black on the other hand . . . Remember those T-shirts that said "Big Black Power Tools -- Made in Chicago." Dopey from the get go.
You keep up the good work, laddie.
Ch. Eph. Martin, III

11:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Didn't Tom Lax's Siltbreeze fanzine also poke fun of Mcgonigal in a similar anti-gay fashion? Maybee it was a Tom Hazelmyer cartoon or something. I just read there was a Siltbreeze book compiling all the fanzines and an all-unreleased LP of Siltbreeze label artists coming out soon. Anyone know a release date?

12:34 PM  
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