Sunday, July 31, 2022

Willie Nelson "No Place For Me" b/w "Lumberjack"


No Place For Me b/w Lumberjack

scum stats: estimated 300 copies pressed, supposedly 3-5 known in collections

Gotta say I was pretty wowed to find out that Willie Nelson's first record came out of Vancouver, Washington. Not Texas? Not Nashville? I'd known that Loretta Lynn's career had started in the Pacific Northwest, but I thought that was an anomaly, not something that had any parallels.

Kinda goes without saying that this single is hard to find. Rumor has it that the disc wasn't even available for purchase back when it was made in 1957. Supposedly people had to write in to the radio station KVAN where Willie was a DJ at the time (Vancouver which is right across the river from Portland, Oregon) and say how much they loved the record and then a copy would be mailed to them.

Damn...doesn't that just sound crazy thinking about? It certainly doesn't happen like that any more.

The a-side "No Place For Me" feels like a pretty solid, of-the-era country tune, Willie's voice rich and sonorous and strengthened by reverb, buoyed by picky guitar and with some fiddle buried deep in the mix. Before you know it, the damn thing is over in less time than it takes for me to microwave popcorn. That feels a little bit strange, could be good or bad depending on your mood or the day I suppose.

The flip is written by another DJ at KVAN at the time, Leon Payne, supposedly written about a local timber faller named Ray Norris. The stop-and-go, gas-and-brakes chug of this song feels pretty remarkable and noteworthy. The verse vocals presented largely without any accompaniment, the heavy-breathing intro and outro...just feels like there's something beyond the "old hat" vibe that most independent, Starday-pressend country singles from this time. Almost bordering on spoken jazz, Ken Nordine vibes. Heady stuff for '57, at least for me looking back 65 years later.

While it might be absolutely NO indication of what Willie would do come the rest of his career, man, first records with tales like this behind them just get me excited. Good times and good vibes.

Thursday, June 30, 2022

The Last Thoughts Of My Thirties

minivan window 

already down

Detroit wind whipping

my hair against

my face

the cool

interstate seventy-five air

chills my cheeks

sunburned by baseball

just a reminder

that I am alive


I just can’t keep from 



Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Cybotron "Alleys Of Your Mind"


"Alleys Of Your Mind" b/w "Cosmic Raindance"

scum stats: at least three labels with black printing, red labels with black printing, white labels with black printing. Anecdotally red/white labels are likely the first pressing, as those seem to turn up the least frequently. I'd venture the red label is the follow-up pressing and the white labels seem to relatively ABOUND in quantity. At one point 30 years after the fact Juan Atkins claimed that the white label was a bootleg, but I think that's the fog of the decades. Original pressings plated and pressed at QCA in Cincinnati, pretty sure that white label ran at Archer a few months later.)

The beginning of Detroit techno. Never mind that it's a wholesale lift of the hook from Ultravox's "Mr. X", all you need to know is that this is the shit.

Something shifted on my cell phone in the past week where the first thing to play when I plug into the car is no longer Mike Birbiglia's "Abby" but instead, Cybotron's "Alleys Of Your Mind."

This. Makes. My. Day. Every. Day.

I first heard this song on an "Old School Sunday" Detroit radio show...seemingly each one of the R&B stations in town sets up at a local spot with a club (read: not radio) DJ spinning live. None of the tracks get announced or even identified. 

Anyway, I was driving on Vernor headed west bound at the Gratiot intersection and this one drops. Sounding like nothing I'd ever heard before. Sounding like a BAND, a vibe I'd never thought I could gather from a techno record.

And...nothing. No idea what the song was or how to even try to find it.

A day or two later a call to dear band mate Mick Collins had the question answered in about ten seconds. Imagine my delight in finding out it was a DETROIT record.

In a few weeks one of those white label copies would be procured from People's Records. To later discern the story that Atkins and band mate Rick Davis self-released the record, essentially selling it out of the trunks of their cars and moving roundabout 25k copies in that manner.

As Atkins debut release, it's INSANE that the first lyrics he ever unleashed into the world (at a mere 19 years old!) are "Who'll cry for modern man?" I think about this line ALL THE DAMN TIME it's soo stupid good. 

To hear Mick talk about how it hit in Detroit...everyone heard it...and everyone freaked the fuck out. To the point where EVERYONE was bumping this song and loving the hell out of it.

Oh to have been around Detroit in 1981.
Photo on 5-20-22 at 4.40 PM.jpg

I've not stopped loving this record since. The Dirtbombs covered it on our Party Store LP back in 2011 and it's one of my happier full circles having made that happen. 

I've made a habit of grabbing any copy of this record I ever run into. So I've got some extras floating around here. They are all usually HAMMERED...a sign that a disc was a TRUE party record, getting played all the time, not kept in a sleeve, folks dancing so hard they bump into the turntable. Every copy of this disc has lived a full life no doubt. And that, more than anything, is the sign of the most important kind of records.

Saturday, April 30, 2022

More Trivia Questions

1.Richard Edson, Jim Sclavunos, Bob Bert, Steve Shelley. All were drummers in Sonic Youth. Match their name with the appropriate description


Who had a role in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”?

Whose dad won the Heisman Trophy?

Who was in a band called the Crucifucks?

Who plays drums on a Nick Cave and Kylie Minogue duet?


2. Spell Fela Kuti. Bonus points if you can spell Anikulapo


3. Which one of these people is NOT thanked in the liner notes to Nirvana’s In Utero?

Quentin Tarantino, Bobcat Goldthwaite, Pat Smear, James Osterberg. 


4. Produced by Kanye West, “Izzo” by Jay-Z features a sample of which classic Jackson 5 song?


5. Which sold more copies in week of release, Use Your Illusion I or Use Your Illusion II? Bonus points, what was the differential between the two within 10 percent?


6. Charlie Haden played bass on Ornette Coleman’s “Shape of Jazz to Come”. Two of his triplet daughters were members of which mid-Nineties Los Angeles band signed to DGC records? 


7. Animal Collective’s breakout album is titled “Merriweather Post Pavilion” after a well-loved concert venue. Which state is Merriweather Post Pavilion located? Bonus points…what city is Merriweather Post Pavilion located?


8. What was released first, Radiohead’s Pablo Honey or Smashing Pumpkin’s Siamese Dream?

Bonus points, name the exact date either of them were released:


9. “I’m eating mangoes in Trinidad with attorneys” is a lyric from which 1997 hit that samples both Audio Two’s “Top Billin” and the Bee Gee’s?


10. Originally recorded by Solomon Linda in South Africa in 1939 and released under the name “Mbube” which song seems to be resurrected every ten years or so in some movie or television commercial seeming kinda like some bullshit, but, you know, whatever, it’s cool, I guess. Pete Seeger with the Weavers and the Tokens are usually the versions you hear, but Ladysmith Black Mombazo, REM and a duet with Seth Rogen and Billy Eichner are also versions out there.




11. Which was released first…Nirvana’s “Nevermind” or Pearl Jam’s “Ten”? Bonus points, name the exact date either/both of them were released.


12. The video game Journey Escape features which rock and roll band?


13. The title track on Spiritualized’s 1997 album “Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space” is the only song on the album NOT entirely written by band leader Jason Pierce. A hit for both Elvis Presley and UB40, what song, originally edited out of the initial release of “Ladies…” was incorporated into this first song on the album?


14. Within 5, what is the BPM of Outkast’s “Bombs Over Bagdad”?


15. In the chorus of her song “Nude as the News” Cat Power mentions Jackson and Jesse, the names of the children of which of her musical idols?


16. What is the name of the Harlem Globetrotters theme song?


17. What is Stevie Wonder’s birth name?


18. The Black and Brown Trading Stamp Corporation was founded in Oakland, California in 1969, inspired by traditional “green stamp” booklets but instead focused on driving business to black-owned establishments in California. Who was the soul and funk singer who was depicted on the Black and Brown stamps, in addition to being the person who put up the money to start the company?


19. What year did the Fisk Jubilee Singers form?


20. According to “7 Rings” what are some of Ariana Grande’s favorite things?


21. What one specific thing do the bands the Fluid, the Melvins and the Jesus Lizard all have in common? 


22. True or false: every member of the Strokes has released a solo album.


23. Buju Banton, Louis Farrakhan and Ramadan are all mentioned in which Fugees song? 


24. Based on the gameplay of Terminator 2: Judgement Day, Revolution X is a 1994 video game “starring” which rock and roll band? 


25. True or false: The chorus of Vanilla Ice’s “Ice Ice Baby” originates from the signature chant of the African American fraternity Alpha Phi Alpha? 


26. Europe, Alabama, Boston, America, Kansas - which one of these bands was not formed in the place where they took their name from? 


27. How many times has John Frusciante joined the Red Hot Chili Peppers? 


28. The band Toto backs Michael Jackson on which song from his Thriller album? 


29. Ravi Shankar has two successful musician daughters. Name them. 


30. In 1997 Jimbo Mathus of the Squirrel Nut Zippers released an album titled “Play Songs for Rosetta” as a means to help raise funds for his childhood nanny, Rosetta. Who was Rosetta’s father?

Thursday, March 31, 2022

You Like Trivia Questions?

 Round One:

What is the b-side to Nirvana’s first single?

A copy of which album, numbered 0000001, sold for over $790,000 at Julien’s Auctions in December 2015?

In which city was Aretha Franklin born?

Whose 1979 album “Pink Cadillac” features two songs which were the last music ever produced by Sun Records founder Sam Phillips?

Who played the guitar solo on David Bowie’s song “Let’s Dance”?

Everyone knows Lou Reed, Mo Tucker, Sterling Morrison and John Cale. Name anyone else who was a member of the Velvet Underground.

Pitchfork’s review of the 2006 “Shine On” album by rated 0.0. There was no written review, instead, just a link to a 10-second YouTube clip of a monkey peeing into its own mouth. What band released “Shine On”?

An RIAA “diamond” award signifies album sales in what amount?

Only two songs from Disney animated films have reached number 1 on the Billboard hot 100 chart. Name either of them.

The band named MC5…what does “MC” stand for?

Round Two:

Jake and Jamin Orrall are best known for their group Jeff the Brotherhood. What was the name of their band before Jeff the Brotherhood?

Eric Stefani is an original member of No Doubt as well as Gwen Stefani’s older brother. Name one of two different television shows he worked on after leaving the band.

What is the name of the Hannah Montana theme song?

Sun Ra plays on a 1966 album dedicated to what crime fighting duo?

Who currently owns Hank Williams 1941 Martin Acoustic guitar?

The Who released an early single of the songs “Zoot Suit” and “I’m The Face”. What was the band name credited on that single?

The Church of John Coltrane is located in which city?

Pink Floyd derived their band moniker from the names of two different blues singers. Name either of them.

Kurt Cobain shares songwriting credit with Dino Valenti on one song. Name that song.

What song starts out with “Fuck all you hoes…get a grip motherfucker”?

Round Three:

There are two proper nouns mentioned more than once in LCD Soundsystem’s song “Losing My Edge” name them both.

What country is William Onyeabor from?

Who is the only person to have played in both Nirvana and Soundgarden?

Which one of these groups has not released a single on Sub Pop - Beach Boys, Melvins, Shonen Knife, Smashing Pumpkins, the White Stripes?

Brendan and James are brothers. Brendan played in Fugazi and James played in the Make-Up. What is their last name?

What is the name of the founding female member of Os Mutantes?

Under what name was Jandek’s first album “Ready For the House” originally credited?

Properly spell “Les Rallizes Denudes”

What country are Boards of Canada from?

Beyonce, Allison Krauss, Henry Mancini or John Williams. Who’s won the most Grammys?

Friday, February 25, 2022

My Briefest of Interactions With Mark Lanegan

I'm pretty sure I said "hi" to him backstage at the Queens of the Stone Age gig at St. Andrew's Hall on September 13th, 2002. But that's inconsequential.

August 20th, 2004 the Dirtbombs played the Pukkelpop Festival in Belgium. We took an overnight ferry from Brighton, UK where we'd performed the previous evening. We arrived on the festival grounds pretty early. I set up my drums as soon as I was allowed so I could go and check out Joanna Newsom's even-earlier-than-ours set on the other side of the grounds. Her opening with an a cappella, not even singing through a microphone version of "Yarn and Glue" in the middle of a mostly empty tent in this empty Belgian field still sits with me as one of the most unafraid performances I have ever witnessed.

Anyway, our set time was during a very un-rock and roll daylight, we're not a big draw and there's not too much of a crowd watching us. But the stage was HUGE...maybe the biggest one we'd ever play. With tons of overhead space, room for Troy to stomp around with a festival length cable...I mean, it really felt like we were probably just a little too small to be included in such an affair but we were going to our damnedest to make sure we took full advantage of our inclusion in such reindeer games.

We played hyper fast and found ourselves walking off stage with 10 minutes still left in our allotted time slot. As a total anomaly, bad form even, we say "fuck it" and go back to do an encore.  Bands our stature do not garner festival encores. According to my hand-written tour diary " the end of By My Side I did a headstand on my bass drum, stood on it, then started tossing shit like it was salad. I noticed Greg Dulli stage right mid-set and was trying to see how close I could get the drums to him. Troy swears the rack tom was twenty feet in the air. I threw the bass drum over my head backwards (not before a quick cursory saftey check" and snapped bits off the rim."

Looking back 18 years later and I still feel the adrenalin rush in my chest reminiscing. It felt unhinged in the best way. Throwing and destroying equipment is 100% patently dumb and played out...but it is so fucking fun and the crowd eats it up every damn time.

I am being completely honest and serious when I say that I must've thrown my bass drum at least twenty-five feet from where I was situated on the drum riser. Never before and never since would I be given an opportunity to so wonderfully transform potential energy into kinetic energy via the destruction of the tools I needed to make money.

When I finally walked off stage, I was hit with an instant wave of feeling like I needed to vomit. I had pushed myself SO hard that it only caught me the second I stopped doing it. Right at that moment, a guy walked past me and said "Good show, I grabbed one of your sticks!" to which I had to awkwardly ask for it back, as I wasn't sure if I'd be able to find the exact ones in Europe and it was still the beginning of the tour.

Soon thereafter Greg Dulli came by and said of the five times he'd seen the Dirtbombs, this had been the best. He then introduced everyone standing around and my mind was blown when it became clear that the guy who'd grabbed my stick, whom I'd assumed was just a rabid fan, was actually Mark Lanegan. He and Dulli were playing later in the day as the Twilight Singers.

We'd see Blanche and the Kills and the MC5 and Franz Ferdinand and the White Stripes the next night at the festival and my overwhelming take away from it all was that I just felt so lucky to even be there. As a fan, this was just about the most fun I could ever ask for. And the fact that, even if only for a second, it seemed like Lanegan was a fan of what I was doing, all these years later, is still humbling.

Monday, January 31, 2022

Liner Notes For "Arise, Dan Sartain, Arise!"


    The first time I met Dan Sartain I left my grandfather’s funeral early to make it happen. I was

wearing a suit.

    I ran to the show straight from the service, clearly not in my usual duds, but respectable and

tailored enough that I didn’t feel like I was sticking out at the suburban Detroit club on a Sunday


    I’d been hipped to him by the British mag Careless Talk Costs Lives. They hyped the fact that

by the release of Dan Sartain vs. the Serpientes he had already self-released three albums.

Something about that review, the portrait it painted, just made me feel like I HAD to meet Dan.

    This guy was my age at the time (21 years old, give-or-take) and I couldn’t wrap my head

around someone so young had enough material to even fill three full-lengths, let alone the

gumption to ACTUALLY release them.

    Nevermind those self-releases were micro-editions and that it would take me YEARS to track

‘em all down, when you’re dropping a lyric as deadly as “You don’t know what it’s like to be

alone...You don’t know how it feels, to have the cobras snapping at your heels” you are clearly

wise beyond your years or distribution reach.

    Seems like the first dozen or so times I caught Dan live, he never had the same backing band.

Always hustling, always moving, don’t have the time to run tour dates past the bass player, if he

can’t do it, oh well, there’s some other dude who can figure it out and is ready to roll. Shit, that’s

how I got dragooned, happily, into drumming for him back in 2007 and again in 2008.

    To know Dan is to ALWAYS be intrigued and to never be surprised. His is a personality where

anything seems possible at any time. Like on that ‘07 tour, there was the faint possibility we

would play Dan’s local hometown Birmingham, Alabama morning television talk show. Local kid

done good, playing the big venue in all made sense to me why it might happen. And

when Dan said “If it actually goes down, I think we just play ‘Where Eagles Dare.’” You know,

the Misfits’ song with a chorus of “I ain’t no goddamn son of a bitch!”

    In a vacuum, the idea seems self-defeating and ludicrous, just bad all around. Career-killing. But

to hear the thought coming directly out of Dan’s was the most sensible, clear-headed

thing I had ever heard. It made perfect sense to me. Much in the same way he gently unfurls the

lyric here “There’s a rooster in the henhouse...with a big ole dick.” Of course the rooster in the

hen house has a big fucking dick. That’s WHY he’s in the hen house. Shit, do I have to spell it

out for you? Don’t you get it? How clear does it have to be?

    Consistently varied and predictably matter WHO is backing him...the shows

are always flat out great. Because DAN is always great. Because people, like myself, are eager

to get behind him and help spread the word. He garners enthusiasm. He makes you want to do

whatever you can to help evangelize his work...his music, his lyrics, his personality...because

you feel like the world is a better place with more people knowing about him.

    Some say this record is a “return to form” and to that my simple response is...Dan has NEVER

lost his form. While stylistic dalliances have come and gone and inspirations and muses have

been chased and abandoned, the quality of his output has NEVER suffered.

To me, that is the truest form of artistry. Warhol was churning out silk-screens until his dying

breath, however bored he may have been of the experiment, because that’s what people

WANTED from him. Were he alive today they would STILL be asking him for silkscreen


    But a musician? What a tight-rope one must walk. You can’t ignore your past, yet you can’t

wholesale regurgitate it either. How does one conjure something that is both familiar yet new

and engaging all at the same time?

    I don’t have the answer. I don’t know how to do it. But I know that’s what *I* want and suspect

that’s what most others look for in the music that grabs them, that captivates their minds, that

moves their souls, that sits with them after months, years, decades.

    All of that encapsulates how I feel about Dan Sartain and not just this album, but life entirely. In

his own unique way, Dan holds a mirror up for us to look at ourselves. You recognize a visage

from the past, with memory of how things used to appear. But the focus of attention goes to the

changes...the wrinkle, the fade, the signs of time passing. Therein lies the truth, therein lies the

message, when at its deepest, provides the listener, the viewer, life, with the most pure


Ben Blackwell

Psychedelic Stooge

December 2020