Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Italy Records Alive and Well...the Go Help Re-start Label

In a world where things we can count on number less and less every day, I am refreshed as to what I grabbed on my latest office visit at Archer Record Pressing. There were times when I never thought I’d see this…the musical equivalent of a coelacanth or an Inverted Jenny stamp. Alas…a new Italy Records release.

Dave Buick has recovered from the shuttering of the Young Soul Rebels record shop (and occasional record imprint) and picked up where he left off with his seminal label in 2001. Man, was it seven years ago he released the Whirlwind Heat single?

Italy release lucky number 13 is the second Detroit-issued 7” by the Go in mere months, (the other done by a shady huckster with Polish Mafia connections and his hand in the pocket of the flexi-disc lobby) and proves they got the goods to seriously scare you.

I’ll admit right here and open up the argument…Bobby Harlow and John Krautner are the best songwriting duo from this city since Collins and Kroha teamed up South of 8 Mile and Dog Butt publishing. Yes, gasp in the grandiosity of the word. The Go are unrivaled as songwriters in this town and more people need to accept it.

“You Go Bangin’ On” hints at Beefhearty baritone barks, instead grasping a heavenly harmony that Harlow has already expressed his fear of having to recreate live. Marc Fellis steals the show here though…consistently underrated in this town for his drumming what he delivers here is so unflinchingly original and captivating that he gets the MVP award.

Flip is equally undeniable. “Maribel” (the entire first name of Detroit Cobras git slinger/brains Mary Restrepo for those keeping stalk at home) dabbles in Krautner’s bubblegum fetish with equal debt to the Beatles and Tommy James and other Sixties pop staples. “Is my teasin’ to your pleasin’?” is warmhearted wholesome lyric brilliance. This one definitely sounds like you’ve heard it before…touchstones your brain can’t specifically place turn into watermarks of songcraft.

This is the first smash hit of the new year. You need this. Never mind the pink on the Italy label is a darker hue than of years past. Never mind the band getting their name in their own personalized font on the label (a new step for Italy that lends it’s look to an early 70’s psych single) or even the switch from the classic FuturaBold font is negligible (although noticed by Italy nerd-hards like me). Instant classic.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Archival Detroit Soul Singles and My Weak Comparisons to Better-Known Motown Acts...

I’d like to fake that I know a thing or two about soul music, but in this town that could get me killed. Here’s a handful of archival release 7”s of rare Detroit soul. The stuff on Soul King was originally recorded under the auspices of the Gold Soul label in the late 60’s and early 70’s. Ron Murphy was the brains behind that operation and finally released them on his Soul King imprint in 1991 before quickly going out of print. (Full disclosure: Ron Murphy cuts vinyl masters for Cass Records. He’s a badass. He’s forgotten more about Detroit soul music than any one else will ever know). Coupled with the two Detroit Stars discs (which might be illegit, but I’m sure no one’s checking) I stumbled upon this batch of wax for review. Weirdly enough, you can’t find these in Detroit, or as far as I can tell, North America. The only distros I’ve seen carrying any of these are all in the UK, where appreciation for this stuff is rampant. So if yer so inclined, there maybe some searching involved. But that never hurt anyone.

My deal with soul is (in-brief) like this: Before the Dirtbombs recorded “Ultraglide…” I knew next to nothing about the genre. My education was Detroit oldies radio. The standards really. So for anything to get to me, move me, elicit a reaction, I think it needs to have some sort of connection or relation to those hits instilled in me at a young age. Tricky thing is, while Motown was busy becoming the multi-million dollar leader in independent black record production in the mix-Sixties, there were hundreds of others in Detroit hoping just to grab the teensiest slice of Gordy’s pie. So EVERYONE was trying to replicate the Motown sound and what results is a cottage industry of unimaginable magnitude. There is so much rare, unreleased, unheralded soul to be mined (and already mined) from this city that it’s breathtaking. Personally, I prefer the ends of the spectrum…gimme a scorching-fast barn-burning tempo or deathly slow tear-jerking ballad. I don’t want no in-between. Or gimme the top-of-the-line Studio A production with bells and whistles and back-up singers and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra overdubbed or gimme the crude two-track live recoding done in a living room on the Northwest side. No room for in-betweens.
So below, my reference points (as I would assume most everyone else’s) are the bigger, well-known Motown hitmakers. I haven’t written so much about soul, so maybe this is just more of an exercise than anything.

The Metros “What’s Wrong With Your Love” b/w “She’s Just Not Everybodys Girl” Soul King-401
Reminiscent of the mid-sixties Four Tops, these tracks were recorded in 1971. A-side produced/co-written by Fiery Bursey who had done previous time at Golden World and Motown. “What’s Wrong With Your Love” sizzles with Northern floor-filling aplomb while the flip is a midtempo swooning ballad produced by La Beat cohort Bill Smith, who shares writing credits on both tracks. Not bad, not killer.

Nelson Sanders “I Hold the Key” b/w “It’s Real” Soul King-402
Having done two records with La Beat, Sanders was paired with Onie Griner, Bill Smith and Eddie Robinson for these sides in 1969. Both of these songs are considered unfinished and it shows. “Key” is a slow piano-driven cut with pleading vocals a la Al Green with less refinement. “It’s Real” is another showcase for Sanders vocals and someone on some shit-hot bongo riffs. But there is definite questionable drumming on “Real” that takes away from the coulda-been-a-buried-album-track-of-a-Motown-one-hit-wonder vibe of the entire thing. This would not have gotten past Quality Control.

Doni Burdick “Candle” b/w “Whatcha Gonna Do” Soul King-403
Now THIS could’ve gone somewhere. “Candle” is an uptempo foot-stomping mover propelled by knockout horn stabs that vaguely hint at Stevie’s “Uptight”. The flip is more juice…them horns and drums so in-the-pocket they’re covered in lint and then, some tricky-smooth tambourine tomfoolery. Wow. Recorded in 1971 but could easily fool someone it was six years earlier. This one is worth searching for and paying the exorbitant import price.

Pat Lewis “Geni” b/w “Loves Creeping Up on Me” Detroit Stars-701
Lewis is highly regarded in Northern Soul circles and can command a good $2k for her most desirable stuff. “Geni” is dynamic and properly produced with horns, strings, tympani and the whole shebang, but is a bit airy and just doesn’t hit me. But “Loves Creeping Up on Me” is killer. While originally released (with the same backing track) by the Holidays on Revilot, this is supposedly the demo version the Holidays worked from. Lewis’ vocals do it silky justice. The bass/guitar interplay is reminiscent of a Hitsville smash a la HDH via the Supremes. The trebly git hook wrapped up in Jamerson-esque low-end movements is sublime. Dig it hard.

Margaret Little “Love Finds a Way” b/w “I Need Some Loving” Detroit Stars-702
A-side is predictable. Little’s voice doesn’t stand out in the least. Sax break is such a Funk Brothers lift that I feel like a witness to a crime. Flip carries more ambience but fails to deliver any interest. Unreleased for a reason?

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Four Down, Four to Go...

Random unsolicited email today:

"My 6-year old son Evan has a habit of asking questions that are pretty
tough to answer. Examples from this week include:

What's your favorite cemetery where you have relatives that are buried?
Can a fish swim faster than a bird can fly?

And I'm writing you to share one that's pretty tough:

If the two dead members of The Who, and the two dead members of the
Beatles formed a band...

and the two living members of The Who, and the two living members of the
Beatles formed a band...

Which band would be better?

I can see it either way. Keith Moon, John Entwhistle, John Lennon and
George Harrison, OR Pete Townshend, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and
Roger Daltrey?

If it wasn't for Pete, the choice would be easy. What do you think?"


I live for emails like this. But don't unwisely invest too much in Pete's living. In my opinion, I don't particularly have much care for Daltrey or Entwistle. And Ringo gets unfairly bagged on (the fill on the Anthology version of "Strawberry Fields" alone make this man a visionary) . I feel like everyone else would very quickly choose the dead guys and for some reason that makes me want to pick apart the question even more. Now that I think about it, I'm very clear that I would much rather see Townsend/McCartney together than any other combo of those two bands. Paul is such a badass on bass...shit like "Taxman" or "Dear Prudence" or "Tomorrow Never Knows" are all undeniable. And Pete on guitar on "Pictures of Lily" or "My Generation" are ALL you need in my book. But then, do you take on Daltrey's voice as a liability? Because he's the only one there who doesn't play an instrument. You're left with a power trio and one in which both Pete and Paul can sing (in my opinion) better. With my rules, Daltrey can shake a tambourine and not have to sing. Do with that what you may.

If we were to slightly alter the challenge and took the two dead Beatles with the living members of the Who (Lennon, Harrison, Townsend, Daltrey) against Moon, Entwistle, McCartney and Ringo I would, on theory, select dead Who/living Beatles (while some may claim the three guitar vs. double drum/double bass argument is malarkey, I'm viewing it on far more intrinsic levels). Take into account the songs Pete/Paul/Ringo/Daltrey wrote vs. the songs Lennon/Harrison/Entwistle/Moon wrote. Or if you wanna ignore a lot of the crap, Pete and Paul vs. Harrison and Lennon. To me, that is CLEARLY Paul and get the punk and the melody. with Harrison/Lennon, you just get the melody. And if we view this above-board and pull the ever-bloody straight up Beatles vs. the Who, I'm left having to pick the Beatles if only for their consistency and paving the way for acts like the Who.

With that in mind, if we view this mathematically, Paul and Ringo would be the trump here. If we approach dead vs. living as a stalemate, equal, on-par, whatever...Paul and Ringo would be the winners in the two other categories (Beatles vs. Who and dead Beatles w/living Who vs. dead Who w/living Beatles) and Paul/Pete wrote the better songs vs Harrison and Lennon. So really, in this case, it is Paul who's living is the deal-breaker. Whatever team he's on, I'm joining. And so it is settled (in my mind) that the living members of the Who and the Beatles would be a better band than the dead members of the Who and the Beatles. Especially since dead people can't even play instruments. But if you're explaining it to the youth, you always choose the power trio over the four piece with two guitars.

Your thoughts?

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The This Many Boyfriends Club...

As threatened, here is my GarageBand cover of the Beat Happening classic. This is the first project I've ever completed in GarageBand. If the download doesn't work, email me at and I'll email you back with a copy of the song.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

When I Knew My Chicken...

There are certain musical moments in your life that clearly watershed. Moments that divide your life into before and after.

Hearing Brian May’s guitar entrance on “We Will Rock You” at a Detroit Rockers indoor soccer game at Cobo Hall (or was it Joe Louis Arena?) in fourth grade struck me. Bold, stinging and cocky, May’s solo is everything a rock guitar part should be and if forced to provide a template, I would point young axers in the direction of this otherwise over-wrought cliché’d arena rock.

But Winter 1995 into 1996 would leave me struck harder than any other event I’d witnessed at that point, and only a handful afterwards.

This was the season MTV had given a late night talk show to teenager Jake Fogelnest. While originally beginning as a cable access program, “Squirt TV” was shot in Fogelnest’s NYC bedroom and seemed like heaven. The walls were covered with ultra-hip posters…Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, “Mallrats”, Pavement, “Saturday Night Fever”, Mike Watt…there was a disco ball glittering away and Christmas lights wrapped around an otherwise ill-placed pillar made the place look like every 12-year-old’s dream club house.

And for a show that was on at midnight on Fridays, they pulled some sweet guests. Kevin Smith showed up with Joey Lauren Adams, Janeane Garofalo, Ad Rock, Beck and the Fugees (way before “The Score” blew up) all stopped in to chat on young Jake’s bed. As a Catholic-schooled pre-teen getting no love from the plaid-skirted counterparts, saving up my pennies to buy bootleg Nirvana CD’s and just recently discovering masturbation, “Squirt TV” was like an invitation to an otherwordly land where someone somewhat like me could be considered remotely cool, do something creative and have a viable outlet for it. I identified more with Jake Fogelnest onscreen during “Squirt TV” more than anyone else ever featured on a television screen before or since.

And the tease with the show was that it was so achingly hard to stay up until midnight. Occasionally there would be a party in someone’s basement on the weekend, Stephanie DiVirgil, Allison Glenn and Melissa Moultrie all had 8th-grade get-togethers where Spin-the-Bottle with hugging substituted for kissing was the norm. Why did dudes never host parties? Looking back, I’m glad there was still some innocence kicking around. I’d go to dances just to have a reason to wear my Silverchair t-shirt and look at girls I liked. Never danced. Not sure what I’d do if one of those girls I liked would’ve actually asked me to.

So after one of these girl-hosted parties, I came home on a wintery night to glowing television light. The rest of the house was asleep. And on came Cibo Matto.
I knew nothing about this band. They were martians as far as I was concerned. From the opening shot of Russell Simin’s bagel-on-a-hihat, snare, kick drum and floor tom, I was digging. I always appreciated a simple drum set and this would be the simplest in my world for some time, although there was always an affinity for Patrick Wilson in Weezer because he used Slingerlands. The bagel itself seemed so stupid yet so clever at the same time and I was transfixed by it. Focused really...that sort of tweener excitement that is totally unwarranted yet totally unexplainable. It just is. I think I ate more bagels after that and Simins is to blame.
But Cibo Matto destroyed my mind that night.

If I had to place the significance on any one thing, it was Sean Lennon and his fuzz bass. I don’t know if I’d ever heard a fuzz bass before that…maybe a Beck song or something, but I’m sure it would’ve been buried under the other 48 tracks of amazing shit.

But the fuzz bass was the only tonal element to this performance. It carried the voices and propelled the drums. And the whole song is pretty much just six damn notes, repeated over and over and over and over.

Lennon threw in a few tasty bass chords that to this day still sound so sick that I wish that dude was in the Dirtbombs. And then, solo time…

Begun with guttural screams from the two pint-sized Japanese women (and thus showing me what I imagined the Boredoms were like) Lennon unleashed a brash, feedback-sparked display of dexterity that seared my vanilla mind. Lennon was playing a badass Guild Jet Star bass through an Ampeg SVT…the shape of the Jet Star is arguably the coolest body of a guitar with the Fender Jaguar as the only close competition. The women were jumping frenzied on the bed and Simins held true on his stuttered hat/snare/kick combo that I still, for the life of me, cannot replicate.

Then vocals and drums together as the bass drops out. I secretly want to do an album of just vocals and drums…inspired by this moment, Co-Real Artist’s “What About You”, COCO’s cover of “Superfool” and Beat Happening’s “The This Many Boyfriends Club”. Beat Happening’s song is just a cappella with feedback, man, I’m tempted to just GarageBand that thing once I’m done here.

Cibo Matto closed the show with a Casio keyboard cover version of Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun” which I took as totally devoid of irony.

Not long thereafter I found a used copy of CM’s “Viva! La Woman” at Desirable Discs in Dearborn. I bought it expecting facsimile of the version of “Know Your Chicken” I’d heard on “Squirt TV”. I was cruelly disappointed. The two versions shared lyrics and nothing else, the album rendition just crappy with keyboard bits and affected vocals.
I would find an EP on El Diablo Records years later with a vaguely faithful rendition of “Chicken” as I had become attached to. Neither Simins nor Lennon play on it. It is only somewhat satisfying although pretty accurate to the version I love. Here are the El Diablo versions...

"Know Your Chicken"

"Black Hole Sun"

No matter what music I would get into later on, I could always come back to “Know Your Chicken” and still be impressed. I met Simins last year and wanted to be a prick to the guy. I think I gave him shit about Blues Explosion, but I had to give sincere praise for the bagel and everything else on “Squirt TV”. He laughed and said he knew we would be friends. Not exactly the reaction I was looking for, but I rolled with it. The bagel was just from a catering tray and he was sparked with inspiration. I thought I'd never get that explanation.

As I pulled out my dubbed-from-TV clip of “Chicken” I try to notice things I hadn’t before…the Devo “Freedom of Choice” LP resting against the bass drum, Yuka Honda’s t-shirt that appears to be made by Tannis Root, Lennon playing through an Electro-Harmonix tube pedal (probably)…it is a satisfied feeling looking back at a memory of days past with knowledge attained since. It shows all the years passed by have not been a complete waste.

Cibo Matto would perform in Detroit at the Shelter on February 18th, 1997. My brother Stephen and best friend Nick Orozco had all geeked ourselves up to go. I’d even heard the band interviewed on Martin Bandyke’s radio show and actually learned from there that their bass player was Sean Lennon was John and Yoko’s kid. It was actually Yoko’s 64th birthday so they spun the Beatles “When I’m Sixty-Four”. As Nick and Steve and I got to the Shelter door, we were crushed to find out that the show was sold out. To add insult to injury, both Nick and my brother knew the guy working the door, Damon from the Notre Dame alum ska band the Exceptions. We walked away bummed. I would never try to see them again.

When I first got word of YouTube and how it worked, the “Squirt TV” version of “Know Your Chicken” was the first thing I searched. Sadly, it’s not there. I’m tempted to figure out how to transfer my static-y VHS version so that some other wide-eyed malcontents might gain the same inspiration from it I did.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Jealous Night...

I arrived too early. I had too much time. The first band had not even started yet.
When Porchsleeper finally took the stage, my ears were battered with 5th rate Big Star aping. Guitars too metallic and loud, no dynamism between the songs and a particularly (memorable) terrible lyric somewhere along the lines of “I can’t get over all these coffee shop kids. When I was young, kids didn’t drink coffee.” I definitely understood the presence of “sleeper” in the band name. I yawned. Time wasted.

Siddhartha didn’t really take the stage or properly start a song as they were more ambling around, slowly, calmly setting up before inconspicuously rumbling into what felt like a jam made up on the spot, complete with lyrics about the Chinese shooting down satellites. And not far behind was the song where they all shout “Revolution!” and they pretend, along with the crowd, that revolution is really what we want. The dual guitars made for tasty licks and more than once Marlon Hauser’s vocals dipped into Lenny Kravitz territory. I thought it was funny when he started repeating “nigger” over and over again into the microphone, but then again, I missed the context.

The Sights were the Sights. Although playing new songs, those new songs sounded exactly as the Sights have sounded ever since Bobby Emmett joined the band almost 4 years ago. Even with Pete Ballard on second guitar (occasionally pedal steel) it sounded like the same old Sights. Which is wonderful, as I love the band. They were drunk and a handful of people explained their disappointment in the performance. Someone came up to me and said “What do you think of the the new poppy, radio-friendly Sights?” and I thought they were joking. There is nothing different here. Mrs. Baranek (Eddie’s mom) and I were in clear agreement that they could do with far less drinking and f-bombs. The repeated requests from the stage for booze or brews gets tired and depressing quickly. And the overzealous expectation for the crowd to sing along to “Scratch My Name in Sin” was discomforting…I sincerely felt awkward. But the teaser three-seconds of “Got What We Want” snuck into the ending of “Nobody” was clever and made up for previous discomfort.

By the time the encore rolled around I didn’t really feel one was deserved. Eddie invited a bunch of people onstage to sing the backing vocals on “That Ain’t Right”, mainly members of the Decks and the Displays, junior achievers in the current crop of Detroit rock. But they took forever to start the song…I’ve always felt any momentum for an encore needs to be quickly translated into a song or else, just don’t fucking play. What I though would be hackneyed and embarrassing was actually wholesome and sweet. The Displays are all of 12-years-old and the Decks are (probably) still teenagers and they were all into it. Eddie handed his guitar over to one of the Displays boys (Brandon?) for the last verse, a simple “bam-bam” guitar part executed to-a-T until the chord change, where a wonderfully mangled noise came from the guitar. I don’t think anyone was expecting the kid to get the change right, and I’m sure Eddie probably didn’t think to tell him the next chord, but it was all light-hearted and fun. I laughed not because the part was played wrong, but because everyone was enjoying themselves.

They closed the with “Jealous Night”, their clear-and-present lift of Van Morrison’s “Moondance” that I lovingly released on LP. It was at this point my jealousy reared its ugly head.

A Sights show is one of the rare events that can make me simultaneously feel young and old at the same time. With the Sights decidedly East side crowd I would run into all sorts of characters that bring teenaged memories swirling back into my head. Hell, Eddie (the only East side member of the band) and me go back to when his band was called the Same and was still playing suburban coffeehouses. Anyway, I saw no less than 5 people I went to high school with. Kids who I had to write raps with in speech class. Kids who asked me what records they should buy from Car City. Kids who sat the bench with me freshman year baseball. Kids who had shitty bands that sang songs about “South Park”. Kids who’s driveways I painted with Grape Mad Dog 20/20 vomit.

Most alarmingly though were the actual kids that an all-ages show is wont to bring out. These young ones made those high school memories quickly swirl away into the ether and instead made me wonder about my impending loss of medical insurance, the jaded feelings creeping into my being, my usual of staying in on Friday nights and what in the hell I actually plan on doing with the rest of my life.

Where I went to grade school, 1st graders and 7th graders (along with 2nd graders and 8th graders) were paired off into a “buddy” system. The elder pupils would read to the younger ones once a week, we’d attend mass together and make crafts with each other. Shit like that.

Because I was deemed “responsible” my 7th grade year I was paired with a hellion by the name of Matthew Yee. It was thought I could be a good role model for him. He was just spazzy, nothing inherently wrong with the boy. I’d later find out his dad went to high school with my parents and was the photographer at my sister’s baptism. A few years later I tried to pawn off a VHS of some Cinemax boob-core on Matt and one of his pals for $5. He lived in the neighborhood and rode his bike past the house often. I have no idea how the subject came up. They had to have asked me as there’s no way I would’ve approached them…I hope. Something along the lines of “You got any porn?” with me thinking I could milk some $$ outta the kids, my entrepreneurial teen spirit glowing through any morals or compunction I may have had at that point. But thank God the transaction didn’t go through. Oh the delinquency of minors…

Anyway, it wasn’t Matthew Yee I saw at the Magic Stick. It was a girl who was in his class. A girl who’s the daughter of the man who would’ve been my Spanish teacher in high school had I actually taken Spanish. I understand the age-difference is six or seven years at the most (making her 17 or 18), but the feeling of seeing someone who seemed who distant before, hanging out right behind you, in the same spot I was ten years ago…I realize that youth is slowly dripping through my fingers.

My sister, 16 months my junior, asked me what age 24 is like the other day. I told her 24 feels like the first time people actually expect something from you. And talking to high school buddies, I could understand why. Auditor. Television cameraman. Deliveryman. Human-resources director. And me, whatever the fuck I am.

I find myself missing being the young guy at the shows. For years I could always find myself as the youngest one at shows at the Magic Stick or the Gold Dollar. It seems like I spent three years of my life being 18 years old. And it was all so brilliant and bright, a time unrivaled in my life where everything was fresh and exciting. Consequently, I wouldn’t want to be 18 years old in the current local musical climate. I am so thankful for being around the White Stripes and Detroit Cobras and Rocket 455 and the Hentchmen, when all of these bands were playing the small bars almost once a month and there were no more than 100 people there to check it out. I just can’t see myself getting excited about a Hard Lessons show in the same way if I was a youth nowadays. Maybe you just make do with the hand your dealt? Regardless, irregardless, I would not trade my time for any others…forget the Grande with the 5 and the Stooges, John Lee in the Black Bottom, Little Stevie at Motortown revue…the late 90’s Detroit rock scene is still where I’ll put my money any day.

Two guys I graduated with walked right past me. I am unrecognizable in my 4-month-old beard and I both relish and abhor it. I had to shout to get their attention. They kept up on my stuff in the Metro Times, agreed that Cat Power’s latest record was shitty. Asked why I didn’t have the Raconteurs on my top ten list. They’d even started a band.

We realized it’d been 10 years since we first met during freshman year of high school. All three of us were now sporting full, admirable beards. Standing there, bearded, the lights brightened to drive the drunks out like roaches, the uncomfortable lapse in conversation amongst old-time friends and newfound strangers was an apt end to a jealous night.

Where has the time gone?

Friday, January 19, 2007

Updating and Becoming Hi-tech...

Put links to some of the songs on "Most Recent Mix..." so scroll down a bit and download if yer curious.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Most Recent Mix...

I was in a mix CD club last year. 12 people from all across the country made 11 copies of their own mix and mailed them off to the rest of the gang. Here's the mix I made and the notes that accompanied the CD. I'm not going to wax rhapsodic about the cultural significance or any bull like that, so just absorb. And if anyone knows how I could upload mp3's on Blogger, that'd be a plus too.

1. the Walkmen “Louisiana”
My personal song of the summer…makes me imagine slow sunsets. Still not sure if the horn section sounds mariachi or Caribbean. Opinions?

2. Elektricni Orgazam “PoDJimo”
I had no idea punk music existed in Serbia in the early ‘80s until the Dirtbombs played there. This CD cost the equivalent of $3 new.

3. Brenda Holloway “Think it Over”
The best Motown song you’ve never heard. A classic at Northern Soul all-nighters.

4. Seu Jorge “Rebel Rebel”
After dozens of listens I still crack a smile every time I hear this.

5. Swamp Rats “Hey Freak”
Why they never released any originals in the Sixties is beyond me, but this is as close to the Rosetta Stone garage punk will ever find.

6. the Politicians “Commodities”
Unknown, unreleased early ‘80s UK band, found on an acetate. Any one know anything else?

7. Co-Real Artists “What About You (in the World Today)”
The only necessities for making a perfect song are vocals and drums.

8. the Gories “Land of 1000 Dances”
Taken from a live performance on Detroit-area cable access TV. Peg’s maraca breaks in the middle, they stop, and then start the song from the beginning. Mick’s screams are pure distilled rock and roll.

9. the Prats “Disco Pope”
Teenage Scot brats who can barely play. Too bad they grew up.

10. Electric Prunes “Vox Wah-Wah”
I bought a wah-wah pedal immediately after hearing this.

11. the Victims “Perth is a Culture Shock”
The best punk band ever. Never wrote a bad song. The precursor to hardcore?

12. the Satintones “Motor City”
An ode to the home town. But really, fuck this place.

13. Jarvis Street Revue “20 Years”
Taken from what some consider the first environmentally aware album, “Mr. Oil Man”

14. the Hives “Uptight”
Non-album b-side written by their engineer. Gives me a boner.

15. Flat Duo Jets “Pink Gardenia”
Down-home punk instrumental? These guys never got their due.

16. Public Nuisance “Small Faces”
And these guys never released an album. The closest American Sixties youth ever came to freakbeat.

17. Dan Sartain “The World is Going to Break Your Heart”
Po’ boy from Alabama writes ‘em like nobody else. Not released (at the time) and probably will be in a different form.

18. Karate Party “One-Two-Three-Four”
Released one single and became the A-Frames raison’d’etre. Essential.

19. Stevie Wonder “Uptight”
Live from some TV performance…this is the tempo I always thought the song should have been.

20. Rodriguez “Establishment Blues”
Unknown in his hometown of Detroit, Rodriguez is a superstar in South Africa and Australia. He still fills stadiums there.

21. Crème Soda “(I’m) Chewin’ Gum”
Predates the Cramps. The rest of their stuff sucks donkey balls.

22. Compulsive Gamblers “The Way I Feel About You”
I’ll let you in on a secret…this was Greg Cartwright’s best band.

23. Nick and the Jaguars “Ich-I-Bon #1”
The first white act on Motown/Tamla, these Fifties greasers were trying to replicate the success of “Tequila”. They failed.

24. Jon Wayne “But I’ve Got Texas”
An in-between-take joke told by country and western session musicians? Sample lyric: “I had to jack-off the dog just to feed the cat.”

25. The Blow “The Touch Me”
“The Bonus Album” is easily their best record. All the rest…blows.

26. The Oblivians “Blew My Cool”
Recorded in the former dojo where Elvis studied kung fu and karate chopping p’nut butter and ‘nana sandwiches with a quickness.

27. John Krautner “Tower of Diamonds”
He plays in the Go. This is a demo. It almost made me cry.

28. The Music Convention “Belly Board Beat”
An original copy of this record supposedly commands $1000. Idiots.

29. the White Stripes “Love Potion Number 9”
Live from the Gold Dollar at their second show ever. Don’t let your little brother put this one on Soulseek.

30. Kelley Stoltz “Old Pictures”
Ok, this one made me cry. From an Aussie-only tour CD. Buy everything this man has done…you will not be let down.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Starry, Starry Desperation...

The Starlite Desperation clambered through Detroit in October and I missed it. Shows them for playing the Belmont, as I was not the only soul who was absent from the performance they would rather be attending.
But I’ve been lucky to rub my paws all over a CD they were hawking at the show. “Don’t Do Time” is the initial release on what appears to be the band’s own Double Zombie imprint.
I had a long and storied love of this band that was initially ready to be spilled all over here. But I’ll save that for when people actually care about my life. I’d rather just talk about the songs on this CD.

Leaning mostly towards new jams, I’m curious as to whether these are completed versions ready for the supposed Capitol album and just pressed as a stop-gap tour scratch generator or if there’s (believably) problems on Cap’s end.
Track by track? Why the hell not…

1. We Don’t Do Time
Prototypical Starry D’s. Dante’s guitar stings all over this thing. Jeff’s drums with his usual hi-hattiness. “We fix cake in the dried up lake where the piranhas go” is essential Adrian lyricism…most likely non-sense, but oblique enough for possible probing and (gasp!) meaning.

2. My Violin
Is this the GarageBand Secret Agent Guitar Riff #3? This killer gives hope. I always thought Starlite got left out of NME rock resurgence and recognition. This song makes me believe they can’t be counted out just yet.

3. Born to Be Dizzy
Originally featured on “Violate a Sunday” and the most lackluster track from that EP. Bass line unconsciously playing a mirror part to Zep’s “How Many More Times” in a not-foxy way. Boo.

4. I Lost My Bees
Most people don’t know, but included in GSL’s 2005 singles club series. More spooky aura filled goodness. “All the chickens are sleeping with the trees” shows Dante can rock a tricky animal lyric without coming off as idyllic Joanna Newsom fanciful lands of glorious colors and unicorns and crap like that (which I’m not wholly against…I love Joanna, but sometimes, you know, you ain’t in the mood). He speaks of creepy, mentally disturbed animals with possible deformities. We like.

5. New Year’s Bathroom Magic
Essential. I fell in love with this song when I first heard it. A suite really…when the power-chord Ramones-ish guitar kicks at the 1:53 mark I am delivered to a different state of mind. “Happy New Year and joy to the world, magic in the bathroom imagine you’re a girl” and “Oh true, what does that mean when you’re Porcelain concubine, porcelain queen” are two of my favorite lyrics of the past 50 years. Everyone should hear this song.

6. Mona Lisa Snake
From “Go Kill Mice” and easily the standout track. Dante successfully pulls out his Asheton guns without falling on mimicry or imitation. Added to the saxaphone howling and this is the greatest song that wasn’t included on “Funhouse” but could’ve been. And the title is badass. Almost as essential as “New Year’s Bathroom Magic”.

7. Crenshaw Creature
Crenshaw obviously the Los Angeles street name. Maybe this is about a crackhead? First of the songs credited as “Recorded by Dante Adrian at Phantom Power” which I’m deducing is home laptop recordings. Don’t take that for fact, but I can’t imagine any “studio” getting sounds like those on the Phantom Power tracks. I mean that as a compliment.

Starlite is usually on the mark when the guitar and bass are doing slightly different movements and the chorus on this song is the perfect example of that. As someone who has no understanding of notes or chords or progressions, I can only say it’s something I get the vibe on the Victims’ “Television Addict” and “Perth is a Culture Shock”. I would love a proper, musicological explanation of whatever this phenomenon is one day.

8. Sally From the Valley
A reference to Slick Rick’s “Lodi Dodi”? Possibly. The only acoustic guitar I can think of on any Starlite tracks, slightly reminiscent of “Hot for Preacher”.

9. Escape from Witch Canyon
They were doing this on the 2004 West Coast swing where they opened for the Dirtbombs. Bass guitar doing high-to-low divebombs is something I personally attach with Kevin Peyok, but is accomplished here without fault. “And everyone knows that witches burn” over a perfectly actualized/realized/completed/resolved guitar formation. I wish I could explain it better. The feeling where they hit an unexpected chord that fits so well that it becomes expected…don’t the German’s have a word for it?

10. The Monk
Phoned in. An unimaginative title should be all you need to discern whether any effort was put into a song. And it works for us here.

11. A Common Cold
Another favorite from the ’04 tour. Doubled vocals are wonderfully confusing and this is another song with that over-reverbed, tremeloed Halloween sound effects record guitar vibe. I keep thinking he’s singing “green manilishi” but have to reassure myself that’s not the case.

12. It Rhymes with ‘Bitch’
B-side to the first single. I searched for ages for this 7” on Catchpenny. Recorded in 1996, this is fuzz punk that makes me want to type the words “Joy Division” that were possibly mentioned in label ad-copy for this single. I, in good-conscience, offered a white vinyl “Lafayette Blues” single in trade to anyone who could offer this in return. No one ever took me up on it (some 30,000 members of the White Stripes email list the main offenders). They were smart. I wouldn’t trade this either.

13. Strange World
Another Phantom Power phone-in. A sketch really, could develop into something more substantial, but in this state, negligible. Need I again point to the lack in a creative title?

14. Clean Slate Club
Oh the cunning word play. Treads the same ground as “The Gold Rush” from “Go Kill Mice” does. Phantom Power not-so-bad.

15. The Life
There are some tempos that just obliterate my entire being in a bad way. As soon as this songs begins, I want to skip over it. Slow and plodding with serpentine guitar wrapped all around it, if it were sped up or slowed down significantly I would dig it. Really fast punker or suuuuuuper-slow swamp dirge is the way, all this mid-tempo bullsnark just grinds my gears.

16. Our Product
A-side of the first single. Starlite the way I’ve seen them live has never sounded like this and I regret it. More overblown fuzz urgency with a tricky delayed change on the guitar transitions during the verse that I was amazed to have taught myself. Searing screech solo. A genuine gem to finally have on CD. I’ve spent some time with this song and I want to spend more with it. Probably the record in my collection most-prized by me and least-prized by anyone else in the human race. That’s a good idea for a article…record in your collection that is indespensible to you, but would be worthless to most anyone else. Anyone, please post your answers in the comments section.

17. Out of Town
Downbeat muck. Really should’ve ended the CD with “Our Product”. Another Phantom Power phiasco. Oh well…it is only a CD-r. I can’t imagine you’ll be able to find these songs anywhere. Maybe I’ll figure out how to post Mp3’s on here soon. Make me look like I’m not entirely out of my gourd.

So whether this is preparation for the long-rumored new disc on Capitol or evidence of something a little less rosy, this ain’t bad. Would’ve been cooler if it was a CD-r or handmade as an unspoken disclaimer for the demo-ish nature of some of the songs. And I don't mean to unfairly bag on the Phantom Power tracks, but they just retread familiar SD ground with out shedding any new light or ideas, certainly the uninitiated will not share my distaste and my complaints are probably only agreed with by Mike Clark and Dave Buick. Either way, any Starlite is better than no Starlite. Get this if you can. If you need it, I may hook you honkeys up. Just ask.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Horror's Glories...or How I Wrote 'Higgle-Dy-Piggle-Dy'

When it comes to music criticism and appreciation, I will be the first to admit to my hypocritical nature. When choosing a band name, you must do all that you can to be absolutely sure that you pick a name that hasn’t been used before. So when a band like the (John Speck) Fags comes around and you know they have full-knowledge of the Ypsilanti teen-punk vehicle for Carrie Smith of the same name, I can’t help but feel a little bummed.

But with bands like the Muldoons, the Hentchmen, the Shams or even the Mystery Girls, I find an appreciation in the reappropriation of an old moniker or the not-giving-a-fuck-ness of not even caring if someone’s used the name before.

And the same can be said about lifting lyrics or titles or melodies from somewhere else. When Jet’s “Are You Gonna Be My Girl?” first landed on radio the bastardization of Love’s take on “Little Red Book” and Iggy’s “Lust for Life” was downright enraging.

But when I listen to the Gories (who by the way, stole their name from an episode of “Gidget”) crib the chord progression to the Troggs “From Home” and do “Rat’s Nest” or pull the Cobras “I Wanna Be Your Love” as the basis for “Nitroglycerine” I absolutely relish in the historical context the band has chosen to include themselves in.

Likewise, when a group of rich kids are in a band together, I’m instantly put off. At the same time, sometimes those rich kids manage to pull one over on me. My only real example for both sides of this is the Strokes, who I initially wanted to hate, but ended up honestly appreciating.

And when a band gives themselves a “look” or “stage-outft” it’s usually absurd and with no meaning. I recall MhZ (prounounced Megaherz, or if you ever saw them live, Mega-hurts) wearing this douchy powder blue jumpsuits. No explanation, no seeming reason, just stupid really. And the band sucked too.

But with someone like the White Stripes or the early all-black incarnation of the Mooney Suzuki, it was understood. And it was cool. And it was badass.

So it’s fairly easy to say that I can go either way with the Horrors. Name already used by Iowa teen punks on In the Red just a few years ago, songs “inspired” by the Monks, the Ramones and others, and supposedly a bunch of upper-crust Londoners playing dress-up most commonly referred to as the second-coming of Edward Scissorhands.

All that needs to be determined is if I want to like the Horrors. The fact that Ben Swank knows them and vouches for them is a plus. The idea of a confrontational lead singer in the Alan Vega might-beat-you-up-if-you-dare-look-at-him-wrong sense is also a welcome return. At the same time, I’m immediately wary of anything British. Anything. And the fact that they’re already NME cover stars without even releasing an album, rather just a handful of singles…actually, I dig the singles part, it’s the NME I can’t stand.

My first word on this band was from Dirtbombs UK booking agent Ed Stringfellow. He’d said he was vying strongly to become the Horrors booking agent and said that my name had come up in talks with them. He was hoping I could put in a good word for him.

I thought it was weird that a band from Iowa that the Dirtbombs had played with once on a terrible night in Buffalo was suddenly in-demand in the UK and even moreso that my name had come up in conversation, but figured the world’s a small place and soon forgot about it.

I would later come to find out that there was a UK band called the Horrors and the Ben they knew was Swank, not Crackwell. After a care-package of all things Horror arrived many moons ago I became reluctant to listen to any of it. I didn’t know if I would like it or hate it. Didn’t know if I wanted to like it or hate it. I was confused.

So today I popped the DVD of “Sheena Is A Parasite” onto my trusty PowerBook. The Chris Cunningham clip was impressive, but still left much to be desired. No real clear shots of the band as a whole. But then again, maybe that’s the point?

The audio of “Death in the Chapel” was fine. Not offensive, not admirable. Upon second listen the searing guitar solo sticks like dirty underwear flung against a wall. That's a good thing. “A Knife in Their Eye” with it’s approximation of the Monks jam “Higgly-Dy-Piggly-Dy” is wonderfully worked to a song that retains all of the bounce of the original.

I detect a dedication to the Fall amongst all this debris…Faris Rotter’s vocals recall those of Mark E. Smith and even the guitar tones (tones dude…dude, tones!) and the Vox Continental owe more to the walking-corpse who wrote “How I Wrote Elastic Man” than the Elastik Band.

Having heard all they have to offer (or really, all I can find short of their cover of “Jack the Ripper”) I gotta say I dig it. Toss in the limited edition fanzine complete with a CD of their favorite US psych-punk 45’s and I will honestly admit hipping me to the Driving Stupid “Horror Asparagus Stories” as it was a track that somehow slipped past me. Add directions on how to modify effects pedals, tips on altering your pants for a perfect pair of drainpipes and an A-Z guide to the best in obscure British rhythm and blues, freakbeat and psychedelia and it’s clear…the Horrors not only have the right intentions (which it seems TOO many bands have lately) but they also have the proper execution.

Then again, I’m sure you could twist the facts just a bit and hate it. You decide.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

I tried...

At first today was gonna be a rant about the Starlite Desperation. But the computer shut down before I could save or memorize any of it.
My second attempt was a love letter to Cibo Mato's performance of "Know Your Chicken" from SquirtTV. And the computer shut down on that when I was just about finished.
So now I must regale you with record collecting haikus...

You're VG minus
With slight ring-wear on jacket
I can learn to love

Compulsive Gamblers'
First single search eternal
Curses on eBay

Chronological maybe?
Or big fucking pile?

Don Johnson album
Mint condition, autographed
In the dollar bin

Monday, January 08, 2007

Happenings Record Show One Day Ago...

For the past ten years I’ve been a regular attendee at the quarterly Roseville record show. Oh the treasure and sundries I have viewed at these shows.

I made it to the show yesterday later than normal. I can usually be found walking in as soon as the doors open at 10am. I slept in and cruised in a little after noon. This disturbed me to no end. While I kept waking and going back to sleep, I couldn’t help but imagine what rarities were being scooped up for mere pennies while I was too lazy to rouse myself. As anyone who's every been to the Roseville show knows, that is never the case.

Armed with my trusty Vestax portable turntable I paid the $3 entry fee, collected my admission ticket for future raffle purposes and made my way to my usual first stop…Rod Branham’s table.

Branham is in his mid-fifties, a retired hippie if you will, having done time at the Grande Ballroom digging on the Stooges and the MC5 way back when. With his doting wife always at his side behind the tables he is sometimes clad in a loud tie-dyed shirt and his longish hair is usually threaded through the back of a baseball hat. This day he was wearing a Stooges cap replete with “Free John Now” and White Panther “Music is Revolution” pins. His stock is always fascinating…while selling me many of my prized 60’s garage singles, he always has a great batch of soul and blues items as well. He puts some stuff on eBay under the seller name “rerun45” and it’s worth checking his auctions from time to time.

I’ve got many a jams from Rod over the years…the Quests “Scream Loud” on Fenton, Roy Junior “Victim of Circumstances” on Hickory, my first copy of the MC5 “Looking at You” on A-Square, the Beaux Jens “She Was Mine” on Sound of the Sceen, the Mama Cats "Miss You" (written by Bob Seger) on Hideout and countless other garage rarities currently in my coffers. And I think he was responsible for the Michigan Mayhem compilations, so much respect sent his way as those are essential in my book.

Rod can be a little overpriced, but as one who consistently turns up records I myself can’t find anywhere else, I find no problem with him. He supposedly even snagged a clean-but-cracked copy of the Keggs single at one of these Roseville shows of the past few years. I guess someone just walked in and picked Rod's table as the place he wanted to trade his stuff. What luck. Rod must just give off that record radar and the gems just find their way to him. As with most dealers, the more you buy, the more they knock off their listed price. But he had nothing that tugged at my loins this day, so I was off to other lands.

I soon found a copy of Robin and the Three Hoods “That’s Tuff” on Hollywood and snagged it for $10. Came home and found a copy of the same song, albeit on the Fan Jr. label, that I had bought at the previous Roseville show from who I believe to be the same seller. Such are the perils of my existence. I hope the same doesn’t happen to you.

Later I was “recognized” by a dealer as “the guy who did the liner notes for the White Stripes DVD.” Wow. Pretty surreal and cool and weird all at the same time. I mean, how do you recognize someone from liner notes? I guess he knew who I was before? But recognized me with the beard? I don't know. I spent a few minutes discussing the intricacies of the White Stripes cover of “Jack the Ripper” in relation to Screaming Lord Sutch’s penning of tune and not, as he thought, the Link Wray song of the same name. I also explained its similarity to the version by the One Way Streets featured on the “Back from the Grave” compilation.

He had a nice stack of paper goods and I got flyers from the ’89 and ’90 Dally in the Alley, along with two issues of Hoofsip (a zine by Dan Augustine of the W-Vibe), some old playlists for Radios in Motion and other assorted ephemera for $25. The Dally flyers were ideal for their mention of two Gories performances, letting me add those two shows to my in-progress complete master list of ever Gories show ever.
I am a dork.

My final stop was some random dude’s table. He’s got grey hair, probably in his mid-sixties and on this occasion, had a moustache. He’s kinda shrouded in mystery…he sets up, at most, once a year at the record show, but doesn’t do eBay, doesn’t have a store, doesn’t sell out of his house. In this world, that’s quite peculiar, and for some reason, makes me respect the guy even more. I imagine he was a cross-country hitch-hiking beatnik badass back when that meant something. And that he bought every record he saw.

He had lots of stuff from the HBR and Bangar labels. The Bats, Guilloteens, Positively 13 O’Clock, Unrelated Segments and W.C. Field’s Electric Memorial String band were all HBR titles he had (of course no copy of the Thirteenth Floor Elevators) and I fretted about the 13 O’Clock version of “Psychotic Reaction” for some time even though it had a significant skip in it. Even for only $10, I couldn’t justify it. Gregory Dee and the Avanties, Mojo Buford and the Accents were all Bangar stuff that he had (and of course, no copy of the Shandells’ monster “Gorilla”) that I ultimately passed on.

But this brings me to an interesting feeling that comes over me in record show situations. With the Positively 13 O’Clock single, I got excited. Never, ever a good thing to happen at a record show, as it clouds your judgement. As my Sixties garage knowledge is pretty confined to local Michigan releases and the more-elite of the Back From the Grave releases, anything else remotely interesting befuddles me. So I start to have rapid-fire succession of thoughts: “Is this comped? Have I heard it? Is it super-rare? Is this criminally under-priced? Ohmygawd did I discover this? I bet no one’s ever heard it before. They’re gonna write a story about me in the newspaper. Holy shit, holy shit, holy shit.”

But that has never been the case. At the Roseville record show I’ve never discovered anything, never got a smoking deal, never nothing. For me, it seems the dealer is always right and that is never in your favor. Actually, I got copies of the Henry and June and Detroit Cobras singles on Human Fly a few years back for $15 each and that was pretty cool. But other than that…

But this guy also had a copy of the Detroit Sex Machines “The Stretch” which was amazing. There was talk in some circles that this single didn’t even exist…that it was a complete modern fabrication that existed only as a Soul Fire reissue. Well I held one in all it’s resplendent glory yesterday. Found it inconspicuously in his soul box (which I had no idea why I was going through) and just stared at it for awhile. Trying to decipher his pencil-written code on the paper sleeve was tricky. It seemed, appropriately, that it was priced at $2000. But then there were also little squiggles that made you think it could possibly be $350. As I put it back down, the guy next to me asked if he could see it. We were both tempted to ask the price, but neither of us did. Another customer, with a large stack, refiled the single and the owner started to ask about it. He said “What’d I have that for?” to which other customer replied “Two” and he shook his head in agreement.

He also had a copy of the All Night Workers “Why Don’t You Smile” single, famous for being one of the pre-VU Lou Reed tracks along with “The Ostrich”, “My Iconoclastic Life” and “There’s a Tiger In My Tank” (and others, I’m sure) that were ish’d on know-nothing labels back when Lou was a production line songwriter at Pickwick Records. He had it priced at $70. I was tempted. It was a DJ copy. I had no idea what they usually sell for. I listened to it and determined I liked the Del-Monas cover version much better. I also think the DM's version is the basis for the fuzz bass part in the Dirtbombs song “Cedar Point ‘76”.

(Does anyone have a CD of all Lou’s pre-VU stuff? I’ve got bits and bobs here…the repress of “The Ostrich” 45 on the hilariously goof’d Dickwick label and the Beechnuts on the “What a Way to Die” comp, but it’d be nice to have it all in one place, you know?)

The only things I bought from this guy were the 3rd Power 45 and a promo copy of the mono/stereo New York Dolls “Trash” for $35. The 3rd Power were a Detroit band from the late ‘60s that you can find listed on a bunch of old Grande Ballroom posters. This was the only thing they ever released. It lacks the tenacity of the Up “Just Like An Aborigine” but I would group it in a similar category. The New York Dolls label was just too pretty to pass up.

At the 2pm they held a raffle for three $25 prizes. Or was it $50? Either way, I lost. I’m trying to imagine how many of these record shows I’ve been to, somewhere near 30 I’d imagine, and am wondering what the chances are that I go to every one for the rest of my life and continue to not win the raffle. I have never won and probably never will.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Singing the lazes of the Child Ballads...

The Child Ballads Cheekbone Hollows (Pop. ½ Life) EP Loog

I really want to love this with every ounce of my being. Stuart Lupton, as most people have forgotten, was lead singer of Jonathan Fire*Eater. While I have vague memories of Fire*Eater while they were together (my friend Trevor telling me that the cassette tape of an early White Stripes show reminded him of JF*E and seeing Wolf Songs for Lambs in cut-out bins for years after its release) I never really got to fully experience them until they were gone. No live bootlegs to be found, no clips on YouTube…it leaves me with a very ideal histrionic view of the band. There hasn’t been anything to fuck up how much I love Jonathan Fire*Eater.

That is, until this Child Ballads record.

Really. The Walkmen, consisting of 3/5’s of the Fire*Eater dudes, took the band’s sound in a logical direction without rehashing anything. Apparently even a song like “Little House of Savages” was a melody/chord progression/whatever kicking around back in the Fire*Eater days. But what we get with Lupton and the Child Ballads is deflating.

The title track is choice. Lupton’s unadulterated lift of the coda to Bob Seger’s “Night Moves” is possibly intentional, but nevertheless maintains the sanguine demeanor of the original. These lyrics (reproduced on the back cover of the CD) give a clear view that Lupton’s libretto holds the same vim as back in the JF*E days…

I bought a white chocolate tea in the park on my lunchbreak.

I bought a painting off the street of a haunted lake.

I tried hard to make my world an exciting place.

But I keep hearing talk of the doom,

and they’re sending the meek home.

And that’s not half as bad as the shadow

that’s caught in the hollow of your cheekbone.

But from there the inspired moments become less and less. Maybe he’s just a lyrics and voice man? A role he could play with impunity in Fire*Eater but one that merely exposes weaknesses with limited instrumental accompaniment with Child Ballads?

Because the instrumentation is spare…Lupton on acoustic guitar occasional leads lent by Judah Bauer and some other dude in pure Keef-ian style. Besides that, Betsey Wright on Wurlitzer, Farfisa, viola and vocals…none of which ever fill-out the picture completely. Hugh McIntosh on drums and shakey-cha-cha maracas and whatnot is solid but not enough.

A song like “Green Jewelry” just floats aimlessly in front of your face, starting with a likeable jaunt, but slowly repeating, repeating, repeating until you realize you’re staring at an unfinished idea gussied up to appear “done”. I’m not buying it.

Listening to this entire EP is a feat of strength. It’s 27 minutes of a lot of the same acoustic guitar usually reserved for open mic night at the corner coffeehouse. But the lyrics may still grab you. Lupton’s poetry studies at George Washington University have kept him on his toes. If I were in charge, this would’ve been an above-average single with “Cheekbone Hollows” as the a-side and “Laughter From the Rafters” as the flip. As an EP, it fails to keep yer attention. But I believe there is still hope. Hell, Lupton is the one who came up with the name for this damn website. I just stole it. Lord, please let genius befall this man in more palatable ways. Amen.

Dig on the song "Cheekbone Hollows" and try to piece it all together at...

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Ben's Wantlist for 2007...

Will buy or trade for any of these reasonably offered. Releases in bold are especially wanted. Question marks indicate I'm not sure if they even exist. Send any leads my way...

Compulsive Gamblers Church Goin’ 7” (got a copy 5/7/07)

Suicide Cheree 7” (got a copy 4/28/07...and one with"Ghostrider" as the flip on 5/24/07)

Jazzie Red I Am a Dope Fiend any format (got a copy 5/24/07)

Sonic Youth Stick Me Donna 7” (got a copy 4/28/07)

The Fabs That’s the Bag I’m In 7” (got a copy 4/18/09)

The Lee VI’s Pictures on My Shelf 7”

The Scientists Frantic Romantic 7” (got a copy 5/24/07)

Bill Fay Screams in My Ears 7” (got a copy 6/19/07)

Pixies Monkey Gone to Heaven 7” (got a copy 2/9/07)

Pixies Velouria 7” (got a copy 3/19/07)

The Horrors Sheena is a Parasite 7” (got a copy 3/19/07)

Melvins Spit it Out 7” (got a copy 11/17/09)

V/A Dope, Guns and Fucking in the Streets Vol. 1 7” (got a copy 4/28/07)

House of Freaks Crack in the Sidewalk 7” (am now convinced this doesn't exist)

Soul Brothers Six What You’ve Got 7” (got a copy 4/23/07)

Sleater-Kinney Fortunate Son CD-single (swore I saw this evidence otherwise)

Billy Bao Bilbo’s Incinerator 7” (got a copy 3/30/07)

The Headcoats You Make Me Dance (You Make Me Die) 7” (got a copy 5/14/'s a 12")

The Headcoats A-Z of Your Heart 7” (got a copy 2/9/07)

The Headcoats I’m Hurting 7” picture disc (got a copy 4/16/07)

The Headcoats Organic Footprints 7” (got a copy 2/9/07)

Eric’s Trip Belong EP 7” (got a copy 3/19/07)

Eric’s Trip Gordon Street Haunting 7” (got a copy 7/10/07)

Cat Power Undercover 7” (got a copy 3/30/07)

Six Organs of Admittance s/t LP (got a copy 3/7/07)

The Prats Jesus Had a P.A. 7” (got a copy sometime in 2008)

Church Mice 7” (got a copy 3/19/07)

Jarvis Street Revue Mr. Oil Man LP (got a copy 10/5/09)

The Black Diamonds I Want, Need, Love You 7”

The Elois By My Side 7” (got a copy September '09)

The Monks Complications 7" (got a copy 6/19/07)

Beck Pay No Mind 7” (got a copy 3/12/07)

The’s 1st 7” (got a copy 11/28/07)

The Fastbacks A-A-A 7" (got a copy 7/23/09)

The Kinks The Village Green Preservation Society 7” (got a copy 4/23/07)