Warning: Site Under Maintenance With My New Host!

6.26.2014 UPDATE

The text for all old postings, going back to June of 2007,are now up on the site.  Now begins the process of restoring all audio links, fixing some .jpg images and cleaning up the look of these old posts.  Thanks for your patience.

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6.24.2014 UPDATE

OK, I was able to import in most of my previous postings- they currently go back to February of 2008.  But for some reason posts earlier than that (my earliest one goes back to June of 2007) did not import into my new host so those will be forthcoming.

BUT (and this is a big one!) I have to manually relink ALL audio files from my old host, so that is going to take a while (argh!).  I will start with my recent post (The Normals interview) and work my way down.  So please be patient during this fun, laborious process.  Also, some of the text sizes, fonts and pictures in posts look goofy and did not import in completely clean from the old host so I will work on standardizing text and making things look “cleaner”.

I guess if someone asks me later in the year, “So how did you spend your summer?” I can say “Fixing my website!” and then add the sarcastic “With all the mountains of spare time I have each day!”

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Just wanted to let everyone know that today, Saturday, June 21st, I am switching to a new host.  All of my previous postings will probably disappear but please know that I am performing background maintenance to ensure that all of these old posts, and their related links and audio files, are up and running by Sunday the 22nd.  Thanks for your patience!

The Normals

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.


The Normals put this artwork on a big banner and hung it up during some live shows.  Wonder if any of those old original banners still exist or if they are lost to history…

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.

PART 3: THE AUDIO

Interview, Part 1.mp3

Interview, Part 2.mp3

Patricia Field’s Ad and Closing Credits.mp3

BONUS TRACKS

Fan Interviews (Uncut Version).mp3

Normals- Shot Down (Unreleased Demo).mp3

*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!

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LOOSE INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT
PART 1

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”.

PART 2
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.
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ENDNOTES/EXTRAS
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
4.  38-36
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)
16.  Memories


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!

The Press

“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"???]

/files/98398-90993/02_Disco_Sucks.mp3″>Disco Sucks.mp3

Mr. Hobbs and The Gargoyles

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!

/files/98398-90993/02_Radix.mp3″>Radix (Live).mp3

ENDNOTES
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
comment.

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…


Happy 30th Birthday, Spinal Tap!

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

NECK TIE PARTY “STRANGER STILL” 3-SONG 7″EP
(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
were white.




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
tiny-sized scan.




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).


/files/98398-90993/02_Little_Dahlin.mp3″>Little Dahlin.mp3

Updates From Former Band Members!

Happy New Year,

I’ll finally have a new posting up soon- the holidays got the best of me, plus work has been way too busy.

I also wanted to let everyone know that former members of various bands have stumbled upon my site since the Fall which is GREAT, so check out the below postings and their comments section with the info they provided:

DEPROGRAMMER
Former singer Nita Banyaga left a lengthy comment with lots of great info about the early days of the band and her time in Deprogrammer.

INANIMATE OBJECTS
Heard from two band members- the guy who sang on their 1982 EP as well as a longtime member Ron Obvious who is still with the band- their most recent gig was on December 28th by the way.

(+other postings!  I’ll provide links when I have more time)

The Reaction

THE REACTION “ON THE BEACH / THE KIDS ARRIVED” 7″
(ST. JOHN’S NEWFOUNDLAND, CANADA- NEUTRON RECORDS, 1979)






Here is one variation of the painfully rare sleeve (maybe only
50 to 75 copies total?).  Rick Harbin on guitar; Terry Carter
(ex-Da Slyme!) on drums; and Mike Fisher, bass and vocals




A rather plain, no-frills back sleeve eh



In my view, this record not only teaches us about old Canadian music, but also teaches a few grammar lessons eh.  Nine times out of ten I usually eliminate “The” from the beginning of band names; I usually find it useless.  BUT in the case of this band, I think the “The” must be included before the band name so that we can accurately understand the meaning they were trying to convey with their name.  Just saying “Reaction” sounds kind of flat and non-descriptive like, “Eh, whatever”. But saying “The Reaction” has more umph! to it like they are in the lab doing a science experiment and pouring chemicals that are about to explode out of its beaker.  I picture the band getting on stage back in the late 70′s and introducing themselves by saying “Hey everyone- we’re The Reaction!  Are you ready for a reaction?!”  Followed by them wildly launching into “The Kids Arrived” or something.  Imagine if a band just got up there and said “Hi, we’re Reaction” (without the “The” in front of their name)- no punch or hook to it!

Speaking of hooks, “The Kids Arrived” has some very catchy ones.  Overall, I think the song is very late 70′s Canadian in some ways- full of melody, as was a lot of late 70′s Canuck punk songs.  But, for my ears, too much late 70′s Canadian stuff had just TOO MUCH melody underlying it and not enough punch.  But not here!  “The Kids Arrived” is a great punk rave up, if you will, with a nice mixture of melody, drive and punch throughout it.  As well as sounding so darn URGENT which is always a plus.  The melodic, high-pitched guitar hook at the various breaks is very catchy.  But add to that the dirtier guitar strumming that follows the chorus- this adds the drive, bite and punch to the song. During these parts the bass is running a parllel track with the guitar and both sound like they are racing each other in a way with that “duh nuh nuh nuh, NUH nuh nuh” type of effect.  And some well-placed hand clapping (again, very late 70′s Canadian) is a nice touch in the middle.

“The Kids Arrived” also teaches us the other grammar lesson in my view, that of plural words vs. possessive words.  For the longest time I thought the song had an apostrophe-s in it like “The Kid’s Arrived” (aka “The Kids Has Arrived”) and thought the band was talking about one, singular kid arriving all by his lonesome some time ago.  But after a while I realized the proper song title is actually “The Kids Arrived” and described a plural GROUP of youngsters taking over the town.

I (and many other people, I assume) first heard “The Kids Arrived” when the song was included on 1999′s great, legit Smash The State Volume 3 comp LP put together by Frank Manley.  Volume 3 (and the first two in the trio of comps for that matter) was a great comp with well-done research and a great, informative booklet insert and was released during a time when lots of disappointing, sub-par, barrel-scraping, hit-or-miss, quickly thrown-together KBD-type comps were coming out far too often.  Volume 3 was also the first time I was actually able to hear tunes from the almighty Da Slyme double LP so I am forever grateful for this, as 1999 AD was back in the pre-internet blog days when Da Slyme was a mythical type of record and no one had it on their tape trading lists except for one person I eventually discovered.

Anyway, for many years I wanted to hear the- gulp!- “other side” of The Reaction 7″.  As usual I was worried that it would be a dreadful, throwaway “other side” as happens far too often with many KBD singles.  Earlier this year I was able to hear it (thanks again P.R.!) and, while “On The Beach” is not a wild punk rave up like The Kids Arrived and is much more mellow, I was pleasantly surprised by how soothing and catchy it is.  It has grown on me with each successive listen, but I don’t mean “It’s grown on me” like I hated it at first but repeated listenings has numbed me and eased the pain and I’ve gotten used to it.  No- I liked it at on first listen and it’s subtlety is further appreciated by me as time goes by.  I think there’s some DIY-ish aspects to it which is always a plus when applied properly.  And the type of “DIY-ish” quality that I refer to in regards to this song are not the ramshackle, sloppy, out of tune DIY- which, of course, is great in its own regard- but more of the “charming U.K. DIY” kinda like The Record Players’ Don’t Go Backwards.  On The Beach is a long song (over 6 minutes!) by traditional “2:36-max-length” punk standards but it’s very hummable and I think it’s a nice song to wind down with when you need a break from whatever wild, raw, frothing mad KBD song you just wildly pounded your fist to (does that sound too dramatic?!).

/files/98398-90993/02_The_Kids_Arrived.mp3″>The Kids Arrived.mp3

Thanks again to P.R. for the rips of both sides of this single!



ENDNOTES
If you are interested in hearing more by The Reaction, you can go here on YouTube to see them playing an unreleased song called “Get The Rods Out”.  The song was uploaded by the band over 6 years ago actually, and it is from circa 1980 when it looks like The Reaction was appearing on a local public access-type of TV show in Canada.

Here are the great, very informative 1999 liner notes from Smash The State Volume 3 related to The Reaction with some key info highlighted, and with also some of my commentary in brackets:



“Believe it or not, St. John’s, Newfoundland’s first punk band may not have been the mighty Da Slyme.  According to Wallace Hammond, Da Slyme’s bassist, co-founder, compiler and archivist, among other things, recorded Mike Fisher and Rick Harbin’s art-rock, hard-rock band sometime in 1977.  Apparently, at least two of the tracks he laid down on tape were borderline punk.

In any case, the Reaction’s real birth occurred when Terry Carter (aka Pasquale Neutron), another co-founder of Da Slyme, returned from broadcast school in Halifax, Nova Scotia where he’d been turned onto the raucous sounds of the Sex Pistols and the Ramones.  Since Carter’s departure for Halifax in early 1978, Da Slyme had replaced him on drums with, according to Carter, the more competent Justin Hall.  Luckily, when Carter returned to St. John’s in December 1978 he spotted an ad Fisher and Harbin had placed in the Memorial University of Newfoundland’s Thompson Students’ Centre looking for a drummer to play punk and new wave music, and so the Reaction was born.  They took their name from a line in the Jam song “All Around The World”.  Their first gig was around a month later, opening for Da Slyme.

Although the Reaction was modelled after The Jam and other Mod bands, their set lists also included numbers by Elvis Costello (“Less Than Zero”), Eddie and the Hot Rods (“Do Anything You Wanna Do”) and the Sex Pistols (“Anarchy In The U.K.”).  In the early incarnation they played mostly covers- to guarantee club gigs.  They initially snuck in a few originals, including “The Kids Arrived”, “No Excuses”, and the “Rest of It All”; the last two songs were never recorded.

Gig-wise they started by playing at the university and the legendary scumpit Middle Earth bar, where Da Slyme also played.  In the oddly named town of Old Shop near Trinity Bay, the Reaction had a fairly decent following, where the local youths had been exposed to the Ramones and caught the punk bug.  Whenever the Reaction played St. John’s, the so-called “Old Shop Army” kids would pile into town for the gig.

Later, the Reaction went out on the “Bay Circuit”, a tour of bars along the coast outside St. John’s, initially playing contemporary punk and new wave covers. However, Carter admits that was a less than successful recipe: playing songs by underground British bands did not go over too well with musically conservative bar audiences who’d never heard the originals.  They soon learned to throw in some high-energy 60s classics such as “Satisfaction”, “Ready Steady Go” and “Respectable” and often ended the evening with “My Generation”, which allowed Carter to indulge in a Keith Moon once or twice, kicking his kit over while the guitarist and bassist did the splits and hammered their instruments.

Still, it was tough being in the forefront of the new music scene.  Carter penned “The Kids Arrived” in response to people who were really negative about this new breed of musicians.  At a gig outside of St. John’s, one unhappy bar patron bought a copy of the record so he could smash it while the group was on stage [Idiot!  He's one of the reasons their single is so damn rare!- ed].  ‘”The Kids Arrived” is a bit of self-vindication: it’s a big ‘fuck you’ to people who did nothing but criticize”, declares Carter.



He’s gonna be on the stage tonight
He’s gonna kick it out with rage tonight


They never call him for a loss
He’ll finally show them who’ll be boss
Move over- the kids arrived
He’ll be alright…
Climbing the greased ladder rung by rung
Singing a song that must be sung


[Pretty urgent lyrics!- ed]


They recorded the single at Echo Recording Studios in St. John’s in March 1979, later pressing around 500 copies at World Records in Toronto.  Mike and Terry came up with different picture sleeves, but they only made 50-75 of each [Ouch!- ed].  The single quickly made it into local jukeboxes, including the one at the Middle Earth.  Distribution, like all the records on this compilation, was DIY.


Also in the spring of 1979 the band recorded three more songs at Echo Recording Studios: “In Tune With The Times”, “Trials In Error” and “Till Midnight”.  They appeared on a posthumous cassette entitled “Underexposure” that was released in 1981 on Wallace Hammond’s Vicki Beat label [anyone have this cassette?- Ed].  The original group lasted for 10 months, until Carter left the band in October 1979.

Postscript
Harbin and Fisher recruited another drummer and continued gigging, including a trip to Toronto where they played a few gigs (one at the Ontario College of Art) and recorded a number of tracks while Tom Atom at Cottingham Sound.  Interestingly, Tom Atom was also the engineer of the Arson and Fits’ singles (see Smash The State Volume 1).”

Strychnine September 14th Reunion Show- Updates?

Back in mid-April I happily reported that Strychnine of “Jack The Ripper” fame was having a reunion show in a Cleveland suburb on September 14th (thanks to former member Spike McCormack for getting in touch and providing that info to me back then).  Since then I was of course planning on going to this once-in-a-lifetime reunion show, but unfortunately something came up and I was not able to make it to the show this past weekend (damn).

So my question is- who went and how was the show?  Please either leave a lengthy comment; post a feed of some pictures and provide a link; or- better yet- post some video or audio somewhere and give a link to it.  Or, best yet- Strychnine members: how do ya think the show went?

Thanks!

Vamps

BANDS-WHOSE-NAMES-BEGIN-WITH-THE-LETTER “V” SERIES: PART 5


VAMPS “FORMULA X / I USED TO BE COOL” 7″
(SAN ANTONIO, TX- BEEHIVE, 1979)






Here is the first, somewhat elusive 7″ (at least to me) from San Antonio’s Vamps.  The singer of the Vamps was Frank Pugliese, whose distinctive singing style I really dig.  He could be singing about tying his shoes or going to the grocery store but as long as he does it in his own cool way then I’m all over it.

Frank later went on to the mostly-great Mystery Dates in the early 80′s, then the Sons of Hercules who started in the early 90′s and are still around. When I posted the 2nd Mystery Dates EP about 3 1/2 years ago I went into detail about related musical history, including how The Vamps opened for the Sex Pistols in January of 1978, so re-read that posting for more info.

The Vamps released three records while they were around, all on their Beehive label, with their most well-known (and punkest) song being “Carving Knife” which was from their last record, a 4-song double EP.  That tune was on a few different comps in the late 90′s/early 2000′s when the Vamps were rediscovered (which, incidentally, was after the post-Vamps band The Mystery Dates were rediscovered in the mid 90′s when EV released that wild, barnstorming EP with all unreleased tunes).  Most of the Vamps tunes are pretty catchy, with a sort of 60′s garage influence to the but without a frothing-mad, over the top KBD style so if you’re looking for that sort of stuff then you probably want to go elsewhere.

I’d have to say that my favorite Vamps songs are Carving Knife, and then the two songs from this 7″.  “Formula X” is a catchy, mid-paced tune that I find myself humming.  I am usually not into the “Ahhh ahhh ahhh” background singing but it totally works here, as does the subtle organ playing.  And of course great vocals and great lyrics like “You’re like a viper just waiting to strike, but you ain’t got nothing on me”.  The flipside, “Used To Be Cool”, is played at a slower pace but is more wild.  When the loud guitar kicks in right at the start, and Frank does this long blood-curdling scream just afterwards, then you know you’re in for a good time.  Awesome vocals and singer Frank is very Frank throughout the whole tune.  A prominent component of the song is some organ (Frank’s brother Joe was the full-time keyboard player) but it fits well into the song and is not overwhelming or wanky.  I just wonder what specific person inspired this tune- who was this gentleman they sing about that used to be cool, was the hottest thing going and had all of the women?

/files/98398-90993/02_Used_To_Be_Cool.mp3″>I Used To Be Cool.mp3

Big thanks to blog commenter Brad C. for providing the rips!

———————————————————-
BONUS TRACKS!!
For the sake of completion, here are the other two Vamps records, both from 1980.


VAMPS 2nd 7″ (BEEHIVE 102, 1980)
/files/98398-90993/02_What_About_Me.mp3″>What About Me.mp3

*Like the first 7″, this one was released without a picture sleeve and I possess no scans of the labels- do you?


VAMPS DOUBLE 7″EP (BEEHIVE 103/104, 1980)
DISC 1

What’s Your Excuse
I Need Somebody

DISC 2
Carving Knife
Too Late

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