I know, it’s taking me a while but I am slowly fixing audio and .jpg links in old postings! If you have a request for a specific one, post a comment and let me know.
When I was forced to move to my new host and I imported in all of my old postings going back to June of 2007, it was not a clean process unfortunately. You can read what I wrote to your heart’s content in these old postings, but audio links and picture links are broken (argh). But please know that in my spare time I will fix these old audio links, it will just take some time. I will go in chronological order from newest to oldest in terms of fixing audio links, but if you have a specific posting you’d like to see fixed leave a comment and let me know.
NORMALS “LIVE IN NEW ORLEANS, LA- CIRCA LATE 1978 OR 1979″
*9.26.2014 UPDATE: Whoops, both links below accidentally pointed to the same .rar file instead of 2 separate ones (Part 1 and Part 2). Fixed these links, so thanks to the person who pointed this out!
OK, finally (!)- almost 3 months later!- is the live Normals stuff I promised to post in my last Normals posting that had the 1980 New York interview and whatnot.
This is an especially inspired and energetic set from the Crescent City’s finest. I assume that the tight playing and in-your-face inspiredness of their set was typical of most of their live shows they played back then. I am not sure when this was recorded- maybe late 1978, maybe 1979- as it was on the 90 minute unlabeled cassette I got back in ’97 which also had that New York interview and some other stuff. But I assume this is before their relocation to New York City in the Fall of ‘79, when they were still based in the N.O.
There appears to be one unreleased track on here- “You Make Me Feel So Good” (Track 9)- UNLESS I am having a senior moment and am forgetting what Normals reissue this has already appeared on. The rest of the songs in this live set eventually appeared many years later on one of the various Normals post-mortem reissues that have come out over the years.
What’s cool is to hear a live version of “Almost Ready”, a live version of which has not appeared on any of the Normals reissues. Since it’s their most famous song, and a New Orleans punk anthem if you will, how about someone does a reissue of the original 7″, tack on this live version of the song, and then also include that alternate version of “Almost Ready” that was on Last Laugh’s “So Sad So Bad” reissue from a few years ago? Package it in a nice, thick, booklet sleeve with a bunch of band pictures, flyers and whatnot, and I think you’ve got a winner of a reissue right there. Easy for me to say, though, since I’ve never released a record eh.
What’s also cool about this 16-song live set is that it’s a mixture of their very early, more garage-y stuff from early 1978 (songs like Schoolgirl Domination or Dog In Heat); a song from their single; and then a bunch of songs from 1979 when they took a more melodic (yet still driving) direction (see Memories, You Took You Got, etc), some of which would eventually be recorded in a studio- the famous Memphis sessions.
Also cool is to hear some goofing off from the band (see Track 11), and some between-song banter, which shows that they were a “serious” band who could play their asses off tightly, but also had a sense of humor and had a good time on stage too.
Vacation To Nowhere.mp3
(Tuning Between Songs) .mp3
You Make Me Feel So Good.mp3
(Goofing Off Between Songs) .mp3
Dog In Heat.mp3
You Took You Got.mp3
Around The Downtown.mp3
Got You Runnin.mp3
So Bad, So Sad.mp3 (this one cuts out unfortunately)
NORMALS “RADIO INTERVIEW ON WPIX-FM NEW YORK, CIRCA JANUARY 1980″ (+UNRELEASED DEMO!)
*Be forewarned- this is going to be another long post, as I have a lot to say about The Normals and Louisiana punk in general! Yes, there is some audio included here so if you don’t feel like reading all this then just scroll way down below for it.
PART 1: BACKGROUND
I have been meaning to post this radio interview for a while, as it’s interesting, plus- surprisingly- I haven’t seen it posted elsewhere yet. I guess all of the buzz lately about the in-progress, 3-years-in-the-making New Orleans (although it’s not pronounced that way- I’ll explain later) punk documentary from Al Champagne and Pablo Romero-Estevez called “Almost Ready” finally prompted me to do so. Check out their bountiful Facebook page which is full of HUNDREDS of rare, vintage pictures and flyers from the late 70’s and early 80’s of all yer fave New Orleans/Louisiana bands from both the punk/KBD era and later HC era- The Normals; Skinnies; Mandeville Mike; Toxin III; Men In Black; Red Rockers; Shit Dogs (who were actually from another part of the state- Baton Rouge, but close enough); Sluts; Disappointed Parents; and many others.
I must point out in a separate paragraph something that I thought was very nice to see on the film’s site- a rare live picture of the mysterious Fugitives whose only song committed to vinyl, “Mystery Girl”- a great, very catchy tune- was on 1980’s No Questions, No Answers comp LP on Vinyl Solution (and then rediscovered when it was comped in 1998 on Killed By Death #22). The only other picture I’ve ever seen of the Fugitives was the small one on the back of that 1980 comp.
The Almost Ready Facebook page also highlights some powerpop, “New Wave” and “not-punk-but-in-the-same-spirit” type-of stuff if that’s your cup of tea- The Cold (with Ellen DeGeneres’ brother Vance on bass); The Dukes; The Models; RZA; and many others. AND lots of rare pictures of “national” acts playing down in New Orleans like The Ramones, Iggy Pop, The Cramps, The Misfits (including their infamous 1982 cemetery arrest incident!) and more. The site is great (is this enough of a plug for it?), and I for one am very much looking forward to seeing the documentary when it’s completed. Some of my wife’s relatives are from New Orleans and I have taken MANY a memorable trip down there over the years so I also have some personal connections to the city.
[Not to get off on too much of a tangent, but New Orleans is very unique charming city, all of the tourist-y or drunken, Bourbon Street frat boy
stuff aside of course- it’s in the South but not like the rest of the South in many ways. The food is different, the musical scenes and ethnography is rather unique, language, accents and euphemisms are different, etc. And you can get hot, fresh beignets (the official state doughnut of Louisiana- yeah, you right!) 24 hours a day at The Café du Monde which has always been a plus for me. And let’s be clear- the unique drawl of the city is why it is not pronounced how it is spelled- think “Nu-AW-linz”, like it’s all one word and not two, and I guess it could even be “Nawlins” (although some people think that’s how tourists trying to “be down” and cool pronounce it). I have NEVER heard someone from down there pronounce it like it is spelled, “New Orleans”. Personally, when I see that way, I picture some linguist carefully enunciating every single letter and that’s just not the way it rolls off the tongue of Crescent City area natives.]
PART 2: THE RADIO INTERVIEW
ANYWAY, here is the deal with this late-period Normals interview which is below. This was recorded during the 6-to-9 month period in late 1979 and early 1980- with manager and road crew in tow- when the band relocated and lived in New York City trying to “make it” and get the elusive record deal. Well, that didn’t work out and in some ways that is why I feel sad when I listen to this interview- not because the band sounds sad in the interview or talks about depressing things. Quite the contrary- the band sounds excited and enthusiastic as you will hear. I feel bummed because, from being schooled via the liner notes from 1998’s great Your Punk Heritage reissue CD, I have heard of what stress and disappointment was going on behind the scenes- this New York period of the band ultimately led to their demise and their break up. In New York City, original drummer Chris Luckette left (and was quickly replaced with Mike Fell who is in this interview); they only had like 12(!) gigs total in 9 months which must have been very disheartening for a band who loved to play live; and they (meaning 9 people- the 4-person band, their manager and the 4-person road crew) ALL lived in the same apartment in the Bronx. Plus the band was full-time and it sounds like no one had day jobs to support things. But as you will also hear in the interview the bass player, Steve Walters, was no longer living with everyone else- they say in the interview, while chuckling, that he was “kicked out” so I wonder what happened there.
I mean, shit, it must have been frustrating because you are a tight, loud band with good songs and an amazing single under your belt but no record labels seemed to care in the Big Apple. In 2014 punk hindsight, it’s easy for us all these years later to say “OF COURSE no major label was going to sign a punky band like The Normals! Why didn’t they just do the DIY-thing and self-release their LP or other singles?!”. But I guess back in 1980 a few U.S. bands had been signed to big labels without having to water down or “new wave”-ize their sound too much so there was some hopes or dreams to chase. Plus the DIY route didn’t become the go-to, standard and assumed method of releasing a full-length “debut” LP until several years later during the ’80 hardcore era. In the late 70’s you might have a single or EP on an indy label (as did The Normals) but the hope for many bands was to get a big label to release the rest of your output.
This interview was making the rounds in the tape trading world (at least in my circle of traders) back in the mid 1990’s- I got it from good ol’ reliable J.T. as part of a nearly 90-minute Normals tape that he dubbed for me which- aside from this interview- included the astoundingly good “Almost Ready” 7″ of course; the unreleased “Vacation Is For You” LP (before parts of it were officially released in ’98 on the Your Punk Heritage CD); and some enthusiastic live stuff circa 1979 when they were still in N’Leans (I gotta rip those tracks one of these days!). Interspersed within the interview are some early, raw Normals demos circa early 1978 like “No Cigars” and “Seventeen Percent”. These early demos, a few of which were on Your Punk Heritage, were not officially released in their entirety years later until late 2006 on the nice 1978 Recordings CD that was on the Nat Records label out of Japan. Now I am not sure if those early demos were part of their playlist during the radio interview or were spliced in later by someone but they could most likely could have been on the actual tape that The Normals brought to WPIX-FM that night. I included the entire playlist from the radio interview side of the cassette below so you can see what all was included. I did not include rips of all of most of these tracks, as many of them have been officially released on various reissues that have come out over the years.
But what I have included is a song that, for some odd reason, has never been released- a very good, catchy, hooky rave-up called “Shot Down”. This song sounds like it could have been recorded in late 1979 during the Memphis recording session that eventually spawned the “Vacation Is For You” LP. But I scratch my head wondering why it was never included on any of the various Normals reissues over the years since it’s definitely not a cutting-room floor track. I guess the band or someone associated with the band would have to explain that glaring omission.
Back to the interview- my favorite part is at the beginning of it when “Almost Ready” is over and the DJ is almost speechless and is genuinely surprised by this song that he admits he has never heard before that night. The interview starts with a bang and they definitely have this DJ’s attention! (By the way, the DJ never says his name so he’s kind of a mystery guy). The band tells him “Almost Ready” was released “nearly 18 months ago” (the single came out in August of ’78 so, doing the math, that is why I’m placing this interview in early 1980). Then, funnily enough, the DJ and band clear up that they are NOT the English synth band The Normal with the TVOD/Warm Leatherette 7″ and that this band has an “S” on the end of their name. I wonder how many times the band had to repeat the same speech to people in New York or other cities- both how they were not “The Normal” AND how their single came out 18 months ago.
I kind of did a loose transcript for the interview below which has some more musings of mine and nuggets of info that the band mentioned which helps put all of this in historical context.
*Dig the Patricia Field’s fashion store ad at the end of the interview which has a cool UK DIY song playing in the background (“In A Moment” by Airmail, which was actually later comped on Messthetics #6) while what sounds like a drag queen talks about what fashion accessories and clothes could be gotten there (a referee jacket, anyone?). I dug around on the interwebs and it turns out that there is a backstory behind that Patricia Fields aka The House of Field store (which was located at 10 East 8th Street in Greenwich Village)- go here to read that.
** Also cool which I included are uncut fan interviews (including the “25 cc’s of morphine” girl and “the pussy guy”) which, for some reason, were cut out of the fan interview track that was on 1998’s Your Punk Heritage CD. The fan interview track on the CD is only like 30 seconds l
ong while the one I included is more than twice that length.
There is ALSO a backstory behind the station that this interview was on, WPIX-FM, which was not a college station on the low end of the dial, but you can dig around yourself for that whole thing or else this will be my longest posting ever. Argh, the researching madness never ends!
LOOSE INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT
The band members who do most of the talking on the interview appear to be guitarists Charlie Hanson and David Brewton. But what I love to hear is when bassist Steve Walters talks, because his New Orleans drawl is nice and THICK.
The band talks about the gumbo mixture of circumstances and culture down in New Orleans that is conducive to punk.
How the Sex Pistols show in early 1978 was influential for the band [my note: the Pistols’ Louisiana show was actually not in New Orleans but in Baton Rouge and took place on Monday, January 9, 1978 at a place called The Kingfish Club- go here for more on that night. Kingfish, by the way, was the nickname of notorious 1920/30’s Governor Huey P. Long, Jr.]
The band talks about going back to New Orleans “in like 3 weeks” for a show- does anyone know the date or venue of this return show? I guess I’d have to dig around old issues of Final Solution ‘zine to figure out the particulars- another research project!
The band mentions the Tulane University station- WTUL- who, incidentally had an influential show that played punk early on [my note: the show was called “The WTUL New Wave Hour”, and you can read more about it here].
The band disses Cheap Trick and Joe Jackson, which is funny.
They brought in a tape with the 1979 Memphis demos on it, which they say was recorded “within the last 3 months”.
The band reads song credits on the air: “Don’t Pick Me” by The Normals; “A Hard Day’s Night” by The Beatles; “Ain’t That A Shame” by Brian James; and “Shot Down”, the elusive unreleased track which I included above. [my note: looks like the WPIX show that night was not just playing punk-y stuff because The Normals were there, eh].
The DJ asks why they moved to cold New York City (which was 32 degrees on the day of the interview)- they talk about their bigger ambitions to expand their influence outside of Louisiana [my note: for those of us who grew up in areas with four distinct seasons, 32 degrees can be balmy in the winter- especially after this past January when the temperature with wind chill was negative 45 degrees by me. But 32 can feel cold to a person from warmer climates not used to brutal winters- The Normals incidentally did not bring it up or complain about it, just the DJ].
They talk about how they opened for national touring acts in New Orleans, like Miles Copeland, and got New York contacts for booking agents and how “the word spread” about how good The Normals were.
Briefly mention about kicking bassist Steve Walters out of their apartment
They actually say they’ve played “just about every place” they can think of [my notes- this differs from what the Your Punk Heritage CD liner notes say, but I am going to cut them some slack since they wanted to make a good impression on their big radio interview and didn’t want to let on that they were actually frustrated from not getting many gigs (12 total in 9 months!)].
Here are the venues they mention playing in NYC during their sojourn- Tracks (twice); Hurrah’s (3 times); Max’s Kansas City (“quite a few times” but no specific number); but not CBGB’s this time around. They say that they played CBGS’s “the last time we were down here” [my note: this was actually July 5 through 7, 1979 when they played there- see flyer below].
DJ asks about the existence or growth of Southern punk- oops, I said “The P Word”- excuse me,”new wave”- audience or scenes. David Brewton says Atlanta has a big scene. And points out that smaller Southern cities like Biloxi and Bay St. Louis have scenes too- he calls the latter a “small hick town”.
David Brewton talks about doing mail order for punk records a few years earlier because there were “only two record stores” stocking that stuff. [my note: oh, the things we take for granted nowadays with the accessibility thanks to the information superhighway! No one nowadays is geographically isolated when it comes to acquiring or accessing good music- a kid in the smallest Southern town can get online and hear and buy whatever their hearts desires].
The band credits David Brewton with writing most of their material.
The Normals talk about how after the “Almost Ready” 7″ came out, someone brought over a copy of The Normal “TBOD” 7″ and that is how they found out about the existence of that UK band. The band also says how that the guy from The Normal never released another record under that band name [my note: so were they inferring it was because of The Normals?]
Then the talking portion of the interview abruptly cuts out, comes back in briefly, and then back out for good so perhaps some of this interview is missing and is actually longer- if you know more, please leave a comment and let me know.
Here is the complete interview track listing that I promised from above. Like I said, I don’t know if all of these songs were played that night in 1980 they were being interviewed on WPIX or if some were spliced in later but here is what makes up the full 40 minutes of what was labeled “Radio Interview” on the old 90 minute Normals cassette I had dubbed for me in the mid 90’s (originally it came to me with no track listings of course- ah, the good old tape trading days).
1. Interview, Part 1
2. Shot Down
3. Interview, Part 2
5. You’ve Got Nothin
6. (Fan interviews)
7. No Cigars
8. Seventeen Percent
9. Jump Back
10. Running Around
11. Running Around, Take 2 (alternate version?)
12. You Took You Got
13. (slower, ballad-y song- almost reggae-ish- forgot the name. Perhaps another unreleased one?)
14. (Patricia Field’s Ad just before 38:30 mark)
15. (DJ reads closing credits at 39:30 mark)
Here is a flyer from the band’s second
visit to New York which they reference in the above interview- at CBGB’s, no less, between July 5th and 7th of ’79 (and
before they relocated to The Big Apple later that year). Man, I bet
they played their hearts out at these CBGB shows more so than usual and
it would have something to see. The Normals got around- you will notice
that the quirky artwork for the flyer (a lightbulb with glasses,
anyone?) is by some guy from Oakland named Pete Thorpe.
I know this post is long, but one more thing I had to include. This is a flyer for what looks like this was
their last show while they were based out of New Orleans, and before the
relocation to New York City later in 1979. They played this show with
The Cold, so maybe Ellen DeGeneres was there watching her brother Vance
play bass. Interesting how The Normals called it a “Tour of The West”,
sounding like they would return to New Orleans at some point after they
triumphantly conquered the country. Unfortunately, and sadly, that
would not happen and the band would meet its demise in the sometimes
unforgiving environ of New York City (does that sound too dramatic?). Ironic to me in this flyer is how, post-Normals, drummer Chris Luckette ended up playing in The Cold.
But even though they broke up in 1980, The Normals were not gone forever. They did their first reunion show in New Orleans in 1981 and then did them every year until 1984. Then it was sporadic after that and it appears that the final one was as recently as 2000- nice!
“NOT-A-TOP-SHELF-RECORD-FROM-START-T0-FINISH-BUT-BEEN-MEANING-TO-POST-THIS-FOR-A-WHILE” SERIES, PART 1
THE PRESS “JIMMY JIMMY” 3-SONG 7″EP (LOS ANGELES, CA- ETC. RECORDS, 1979)
All copies were sleeveless, presumably, which means that band information is scant.
And it really doesn’t help that there are no specific names given in the songwriting
credits on the labels- it’s just credited to “The Press” on both sides. But at least
we know that the world-famous “T. Toons” produced both sides, whoever the hell he was!!
The first time I (and probably many others) heard of this record was when the best song on the record, “Hacker”, appeared on the great No One Left To Blame comp LP in 2001. I am guessing that copies of the EP- even though there might not have been many floating around back then- sold for next to nothing before their comp appearance. Since that time, copies have spiked as high as $700(!) on eBay (back in 2004 or a minty copy) and as low as $89 (just earlier this year for a more beat-up copy). Gotta love the price range, LOL.
I know nothing about the band, other than the fact that the song “Disco Sucks” was written by one “P. Donahue” (finding that out took some digging around!) and the drummer on the EP was Dusty Watson who went on to play with the Stepmothers and then a lot of rock, metal (Lita Ford in 1983, anyone?) and surf bands. In fact, he currently plays drums for latest incarnation of Seattle’s famous Sonics (!?!).
“Jimmy Jimmy” is a more traditional rock song, played at a slower pace (but with some very strong drum parts from Mr. Dusty Watson!), and is actually an anti Jimmy-Carter tune. They even go so far as to say something like “Nixon did a better job than you” (!). Ouch- pretty bad indictment! “We Dig Nixon”, perhaps?! I don’t think the band was approaching it from a conservative, pro-Nixon stance but I think they just didn’t like Carter so perhaps they were disappointed liberals or something.
“Disco Sucks” is my least favorite song on the EP and also appeared on the mostly-crappy The Insane Darrell Wayne’s No Disco Album comp LP. The only decent tracks on that 15-song LP are The Vectors; the Tokyos (with a non-EP, comp-only track); and The Bags disguised as “Sgab From The Planet Zed”. Kinda ironic how a comp complaining about crappy music actually was pretty bad itself.
“Hacker”, the last song on the record, is a ripper and quite a quick, raw workout with more strong drumming from Mr. Dusty Watson. And nice distorted- and almost growling- guitars including a good tinnitus/mosquito sounding solo in the middle. They really let loose on this one, thankfully. And I love the drum/guitar trade-off near the end of the song, nice way to close it out.
At least they nailed it on one song. [And as a sidenote, isn’t that just what we enjoy about the whole KBD thing sometimes?! You find a mystery record, wait patiently through a few so-so songs and hope that you’re going to find that one gem of a track (usually the last song or a piss-take afterthought) that makes your day. I mean, of course it’s nice to hear a 7″ with all solid songs on it but, for me at least, it’s nice to find that one blazing song that was probably a happy accident of sorts. ‘Cuz it begs the question, what caused them to let loose and get all over-the-top on that ONE song?? Was it a feeling of “We have nothing to lose anyway so we might as well let it all hang out for a few minutes”???]
Thanks to A.W. for helping provide rips of this one way back when!
P.S. Anyone have rips of that 2nd Press 7″, of which only about 10 test pressings exist and which was never officially released? It’s been on my mp3 want list for a while, and the songs on it are “Hostage in the Embassy” and “President’s Wife”. How 1979/1980 of them to have a song referencing the Iranian hostage crisis. Perhaps it was another way for them to criticize Jimmy Carter (?). And maybe President’s wife refers to ol’ Rosalynn Carter…
MR. HOBBS AND THE GARGOYLES “TOTAL AMNESIA/RADIX (LIVE)” 7″
(HOUSTON, TX- PRIMORDIAL, RECORDED 1982/1983)
Looks like a big, rectangular price sticker was removed from the right-hand front of this
sleeve eh. Minimalist, homemade artwork and I love how Mr. Hobbs has the 3D/shadow effect
and the Gargoyles is in a total cheesy early 80’s font complete with “dramatic” horizontal
lines and shading. For some reason that font brings back a lot of memories from that era
to me like the TV show That’s Incredible or something.
This copy is stamped #351 with what I am assuming was one of those hand-held stamping machines
that automatically advanced to the next number for you (I used to love pounding on those things
back then when I used them for school projects many years ago). I guess that approach is less strenuous on your hand that handwriting each number with a pen, eh. But how many total copies
of this record were pressed? 500? 1,000? The record stamping device was set to go up to a
max of six digits, or 999,999 total, but I doubt that many copies are out there.
I likes how these labels look with the black lettering over the silver background, and the font used for the Primordial label and band name. The label’s logo looks like one of those ancient computer-type fonts that are now all the “retro rage” in 2014.
Not a punk record or band but I think this is one of those outsider, homemade type of records with the do-it-yourself spirit and quirkiness that appeals to some punk fans (at least this one, eh). And you gotta love the band name- who the hell is Mr. Hobbs and why was he associating himself with some gargoyles?! Must be some inside, “wink wink, nod nod” band joke that none of us are privy to. “Total Amnesia” is more of a psych song but maybe when it came out it fell into obscurity and/or was ignored because it was “too punk for psych fans but too psych for punk fans” and couldn’t find a big audience in either camp (?). [I wonder what the Houston punk crowd (Really Red et al) thought of Mr. Hobbs, if they knew about them at all back in ’82/83]. Plus the song length of 4:28 is very un-punk. And then the flip is 7:27- ouch! Way way more than the “2:36 max” song length rule for punk. I am not really into the flip, “Radix”, but more about that tune later. I want to concentrate on the song that continues to grow on me since I first heard it about 3 years ago (thanks again C.S.!), “Total Amnesia”. I think the combination of the thin production, whiny guitar noodling, in-the-red bass playing and soft-spoken, whisper-y vocals hits it right on the money. I find myself tapping some of the catchy drum parts that were probably purposely meant to have a hypnotic quality to them and the chorus is also catchy and hummable. Charming little ditty and nothing over-the-top (not that it was meant to be) and really solid tune. Too bad Total Amnesia has remained so obscure since it came out over 30 years ago. The instrumental flipside, “Radix”, is rounounced like “Radicts” (‘member that late 80’s NYC band of the same name?) and not the phonetic pronunciation of “Ray-dicks”- at least the band says “Radicts” at the beginning of the song. It was recorded live and maybe some of the punch was lost in the live recording process or something because this tune does not really grab me. It kind of meanders along for me at a mediocre pace- and really feels like it’s over 7 minutes! And maybe the absence of any vocals takes away some of the “umph!” it may have had if singer/guitarist/band leader “The Invisible Man” (aka Curt L. Schwebs) had sung on it. Oh well, can’t win em all. At least the A-side is a memorable one!
I tried digging a
little deeper and couldn’t find out much about the band. I found out that singer/guitarist/songwriter/band leader
Curt L. Schwebs (credited on the back of the sleeve in the band lineup
as “The Invisible Man”) also played bass for a stint in the Houston
“rock, punk and dance music” (?!) band The Businessmen sometime during the 80’s or 90’s. On that Businessmen site, I also happened to notice that someone credited on the back of the Mr. Hobbs sleeve, Kenny Knight, had a stint playing drums in that other band too. I have heard that some (how many?) copies of the Mr. Hobbs 7″
surfaced about 4 or 5 copies ago, supposedly from a band member or
associate (which one?). A few copies have been sold on eBay over the
years, some of them out of Wisconsin, so maybe a former band member or
someone associated with the band relocated at some point from Texas to
Wisconsin with some unplayed copies of the record in hand (?). It’d be
great to hear the back story behind Mr. Hobbs and The Gargoyles, or any
interesting info about them, so if you know anything please post a
And on the back of the sleeve there is a memorial to
Douglas Yankus who died in 1982 at the age of only 32. So I looked him
up and found out that he was in some late 60’s/early 70’s Wisconsin
psych band called Soup that psych fans are into and that he actually
died from complications related to diabetes. An interesting aside, but nothing to directly do with Mr. Hobbs and The Gargoyles. I am grasping at straws here…
I was reminded about a week ago that today, March 2nd, 2014 is the 30th anniversary of the theatrical release of one of my FAVORITE movies of all time, This Is Spinal Tap. So I wanted to make sure I take a few minutes to recognize this milestone and put all of my other upcoming postings on hold for now.
For me, Spinal Tap is a timeless classic that I can watch over and over again, right up there with the skateploitation classic Thrashin’ (which is a movie I should discuss at another time).
Director Rob Reiner packed so damn many laughs throughout the entire movie that it takes multiple viewings to catch all the subtleties of everything going on. And it takes age too, I think. Because when Spinal Tap came out I was in middle school and remember being a bit baffled at the marketing campaign they had back then. Were they a real band? If so, why had I never heard of them? Oh, they’ve been around since the early sixties? I remember seeing them on the cover of Billboard Magazine in the Spring of ’84 and assuming they must be real if they were on the cover of a magazine like that. But then I got confused because I recognized one of the band members as Lennie from the TV show Laverne and Shirley and I thought, wait, how is he in the band? I thought he was just an actor. Then someone called it a mockumentary and at the time I had no idea what that meant.
But I finally saw the movie a few years later, then a few years after that, then a friend of mine (Dave, RIP) got heavily into the movie in about 1990 or ’91 and so then I watched it many times with him and we both laughed our asses off and would casually quote the movie or, out of nowhere, sing Stonehenge or Listen To The Flower People or Sex Farm. Then some years later my brother bought me a Spinal Tap DVD for Christmas and it’s been viewed many times since then. Do they have midnight screenings of Spinal Tap? If so, I should probably go so I can sit in a room full of other fans who can quote in at will.
The trio of Michael McKean, Harry Shearer and Christopher Guest were/are just hilarious. They all went on to Saturday Night Live, but I remember the ’84-’85 season of SNL very fondly as Guest and Shearer were in the brilliant cast that season. But I think JUST that one season, along with Martin Short, Billy Crystal and many others.
Anyway, I could go on and on about Spinal Tap but I promised myself I would do a short posting and just quickly commemorate the 30th birthday and be done with it. So here’s to another 30 years of us treasuring Spinal Tap. The original movie, that is- I personally never got into any of the reunion stuff or live concerts of the band post-1984.
P.S. As usual, I have a lot of good music postings planned so stay tuned in the coming weeks for a new post of something somewhat obscure.
NECK TIE PARTY “STRANGER STILL” 3-SONG 7″EP When I first listened to the EP in its entirety from start to finish “Little Dahlin” and “Squash…” kind of blend into each other and play together like one long song but I split them apart here. If you want to be a purist, then open up yer sound editing software and cut and paste both songs together so they’re one long track in their original incarnation. The band has a cool Facebook page, so check out it out- there’s lots of great, fun, vintage pictures of the band playing (both on stage and off-stage).
(LONG ISLAND, NY- LITTLE BORIS, 1981)
There is a LOT of funny stuff happening on the front of the sleeve (more commentary
on that later!) And more later on the THREE different sleeve variations that exist
as well. Perhaps an episode of It Never Ends is needed! The record also came with
a sticker insert, but then some of those were an orange day-glo color while others
The back of the sleeve is more tame and we see that this was the band lineup:
Antino Teterone- Vocals
Bwap Masterson- Bass
Caleb Macabre- Guitar
Mike Ock- Drums
You will also notice that the credits section include “Maxx The Dogg” for his
barking on the last song (listen carefully and you will hear it). This has to
be the first time I’ve ever seen a dog credited for helping to add additional
audio on a punk record- hilarious!
Here’s the insert sticker that came with the record,
in its orange color variation. I think I heard one
time that this thing measured at like 5 x 7 inches,
but of course you would never know that from this
The band (l to r): Antino (vocals) / Caleb (guitar) / Bwap (bass) / Mike Ock (drums)
This is the original picture that was used for the above sticker insert.
Dig the singer’s moustache, which I think is a solid runner up for “best punk moustache”.
(#1 of course goes to Pat Fear (RIP) from White Flag…)
First off, gotta love the band name which is a slang phrase from the old West for someone being hanged. Or it sounds like some kinda phrase that the Mafia would use.
Secondly, whatever the record sounds like (only one song will appeal to “purist” fans of crazy KBD-ish punk), you can tell these guys were having a good time and having FUN which is always a plus and brings a smile to my face. The whole fun thing was lost on many bands from the KBD years who took themselves too seriously eh.
I mean, just look at the crazy artwork on the front of the sleeve (see above)- a band member with a big, unkempt 70’s beard has a sockpuppet (?!) on his hand and he looks to be having some sort of serious, pissed off dialogue with it. Hilarious. And then the other artwork- two outstretched arms are reaching out (and about to be bit by) what might be snakes. But they actually look more to me like two electric eels. And then one arm has this heart tattoo on it, like one of those heart tattoos you may see with a heart and the word “Mom” above it. However, this tattoo has a 13 letter(!) abbreviation on it and god knows that those 13 letters stand for. Must be some kind of in-joke that only the band (or maybe only the artist) understood. The artwork definitely lives up to the record title “Stranger Still”…
The good time vibe comes through on all 3 songs, from the over 6 minute(!) title song which is a post-punkish type of thing done at a slooooowww pace. During this song, they try a little bit of everything as various sound effects and instruments pop up all over the place. According to one of the sleeve variations, this song was in the Top 5 for airplay at WUSB SUNY Stonybrook in Long Island at the time, right up there with Agent Orange’s “Everything Turns Grey”.
The second song, “Little Dahlin”, is kind of a punky send up of a doo-wop song from the late 50’s or something. With repeated listens, this song is a catchy one that has a tongue-in-cheek vibe throughout it from the self-mocking “Wee ooo-ooo-ooo!” chorus to the hilarious spoken word part near the end of the song between a guy and his lady. The guitars sound nice on this tune and the pace is a nice, quicker one. And then the sound effects at the end of the song with the sped-up noises is funny.
For my ears, the highlight is the last song “Squash…” in which they really let loose and play fast, like they’re racing each other to the end of the song (which I think is always a good thing for bands to try to do). The vocals get all snotty during the chorus, the guitar is on-point, and the drumming is one of the real highlights of the song. Total manic crazy drumming which- as one person properly observed- brings to mind the hyperactive drumming on the 1st Damned LP. The way he plays, I myself picture him practically standing up from his drum chair so he could play so manic and maintain that pace for the length of the whole song. And dig those “Oh my” falsetto background vocals. And listen carefully to the crafty lyrics that maintain the “squashing” theme throughout them- first a dog meets his maker, then a cat, then a duck, and finally someone who unfortunately gets drafted into the Army who doesn’t want to be squashed.
I first heard of the band back in 2005 when “Squash…” was included on the last-great vinyl KBD comp, Staring Down The Barrel. It was a total standout track, and when I first heard it I was like “What the hell is this? Where’s this record been hiding all these years? How come I never heard of them before?!” I’ve been wanting to hear the entire EP for some time, so thanks to Andrew for providing the rips!
The version of “Squash…” that was on Staring Down The Barrel has the ending sound effects edited out but here I included the unedited version of the song. And the ending part is pretty funny to me- the singer’s voice is slowed down to a sludge pace where it sounds like he’s saying “Sheee-ittt, Mo Fo’s!!” and “C’mon, little doggies”. Very funny. Thanks for the laughs, I chuckle every time I hear it.
When I first listened to the EP in its entirety from start to finish “Little Dahlin” and “Squash…” kind of blend into each other and play together like one long song but I split them apart here. If you want to be a purist, then open up yer sound editing software and cut and paste both songs together so they’re one long track in their original incarnation.
The band has a cool Facebook page, so check out it out- there’s lots of great, fun, vintage pictures of the band playing (both on stage and off-stage).