Friday, March 30, 2007


One of the first bands I followed with my then-frequent religious fervor when I moved to San Francisco in 1989 were WORLD OF POOH. Their bass & sometime guitar player BARBARA MANNING impressed me from the get-go with her lovely voice, totally off-beat, spiky sense of rhythm & song construction, and general falling-down, about to implode onstage persona (at least in that volatile band). I was an instant fan. I talked to her at one of their shows, probably late ’89, and she told me about this album she’d released called “Lately I Keep Scissors”; of course I went out & bought it, and I’m pretty sure that since that time I’ve owned every single piece of vinyl and/or CD with her name on it.

One great place to gain an overview of her oeuvre is the “Under One Roof” 45s collection, thought I’ll warn you that there are some mid-90s duds present that don’t really stand the test of time. One stunning track that does is one they inexplicably left off that collection. It’s called “8s”, and it came out on a limited 45 on the Majora label in 1992. Majora was an excellent label run out of Seattle, responsible for the bulk of the SUN CITY GIRLS’ 1990s stuff, along with great weirdo/noise/folk records from DADAMAH, EDDY DETROIT and LESLIE Q. The Manning single they put out was actually a team-up with SEYMOUR GLASS, the publisher of Bananafish magazine and a nominal noise musician in his own right, and also Manning’s longtime college buddy (Chico State, baby!). The song is haunting, distant and perfect – far better than the version that turned up the following year on an SF SEALS album. I’m still pretty bummed that Manning didn’t get her shot to participate in the 1990s female singer/songwriter financial sweepstakes & find a wider audience, but also pleased as punch that one reason she didn’t is she kept recording strange records with people like Seymour Glass, and always kept her songs one quirky step to the left of what was hitting big.

Download BARBARA MANNING & SEYMOUR GLASS – “8s” (from 1992 Majora 45)

Monday, March 26, 2007


If it weren’t for Phil Turnbull and his NO NIGHT SWEATS web site/mp3 archive, a lot of us might not have any idea of the thriving Sydney, Australia post-punk scene of the early 80s, and some of the wildly creative weirdo lost bands of the time. Several years ago Phil sent me a couple of these “Sydney Post-Punk Archives” CD-Rs, and one act in particular (besides SPK, PRIMITIVE CALCULATORS and the SLUGFUCKERS) really stood out: MAESTROS AND DISPOS, from approximately 1983-84. I was really dumbstruck by how gorgeously complex, tense & jarring this folk/pop music was, particularly the outstanding “Backslide”. The band never recorded a single 45, LP or even a cassette that we know of. Here’s how Phil describes them:

“Dual female vocals weren't heard much outside of folk circles and so the sound of Debbie and Ashley's close harmonies was bound to be memorable. However, the band were always a little tentative, seemingly a bit uncomfortable with themselves and each other, especially on stage. Their strong point will always be the direct, confessional lyrics which made a marvelous change from the bluster that other bands produced. In songs like Inertia and the gorgeous Backslide, simple guitar and drums, strong bass, floating melodies and emotional text combine perfectly.”

Phil’s site also posts a first-person 1984 account of the band live:

“….Maestros and Dipsos are a bright bustling idiosyncratic pop-rock band. Although they have been playing in Sydney for over 6 months they are still virtually unknown. This will change….Describing their music is difficult. After a brief statement like "um...really good" my usual sparkling fountain of verbiage dries up. Well diluted snippets of Beefheart, The Raincoats and the Fire Engines spring to mind while they play. As do subtle fractured hints of Sly Stone and the Velvet Underground. This is not to suggest that their songs are like these other bands; they just seem to approach melody and language with a similar sense of pioneering intelligence….That Maestros and Dipsos sound even slightly familiar is in itself surprising. The band is a heady amalgam of polarized musical tastes. Ashley's singing floats easily in and around the songs. Debbie's moves swiftly with assured, well measured grace. Lindsay plays ambitious melodic guitar, devoid of heroics and pretence. The rhythm section, Ian Cummings on bass and Gordon Renouf on drums, is a beguilingly simple fascination. As with the whole band generally there is a hidden depth to their playing. Eacj time Maestros and Dipsos play I've discovered more and more within their songs. Layers waiting to be unveiled. Maestros and Dipsos are offering you and I and intelligent and exciting alternative to hairy types being gorillas in pubs and chinless types being goats in clubs. Nowhere to go but up.....”

I love that the interweb can help bring back a band like this. Here are two mp3s of studio recordings that they did, with another one available by clicking here.

Download MAESTROS & DIPSOS – “Backslide”
Download MAESTROS & DIPSOS – “Inertia”

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


Mom, if you're reading, I'm only repeating the name of the band. Things were different in the 70s, mom. You remember. So here's Side A of a 45 that everyone needs to hear and then hear again. Best as I know it - and you can find a lot more detail in an issue of Ugly Things from a few years ago (sense a pattern this week?) - the FUCKIN' FLYIN' A-HEADS were an out-of-time, out-of-their-element, outcast bunch of freaks on the island of Oahu, making an unholy din & some wild-ass psychedelic punk rock in the late 1970s. At least a couple members were Japanese. I found a copy of this 45 in the late 1980s at a San Francisco metal store called "Record Vault", after seeing Byron Coley namecheck it in passing (yet with glee) in an old Forced Exposure. Good enough for me. I sold it on eBay a few years back for far less than anticipated. I think it's still awaiting full discovery by the populace at large, and I'm posting it here to do my part. Wow. Clear the room, you're gonna need the space.

Download THE FUCKIN' FLYIN' A-HEADS - "Swiss Cheese Back" (A-side of 45)

Monday, March 19, 2007


One of the more wacked records I’ve been turned onto in recent years is this raspy, tuneless 1965 single from a Rochester, NY act called THE CHURCH MICE. I first heard of the record when it was pictured and briefly discussed in Johan Kugelberg’s Ugly Things feature on “primitive shit rock” (which I in turn wrote about here). A little research on the web brings me IT’S GREAT SHAKES which will tell you far more about the record – and why it’s important that you hear it – than I ever could. Finally, even crazy old Julian Cope got into the act and wrote up a piece on the ‘Mice and about the even more bent offerings from Armand Schaubroeck that followed this release. Schaubroeck is a real cult figure that I haven’t quite cottoned to just yet, but this 45 certainly leads me merrily in that direction. Easily one of the 1960s’ strangest pre-punk records.

Download CHURCH MICE – “Babe, We're Not Part of Society” (A-side of 45)
Download CHURCH MICE – “College Psychology on Love” (B-side of 45)

Friday, March 16, 2007


I used to listen to a lot of reggae and dub at the end of its golden era in the early 1980s, via college radio shows like Spliff Skankin’s on KFJC (great nom de plume, Spliff!) and Doug Wendt’s commercial show “Midnight Dread” on a commercial San Francisco station called “The Quake”. I always took to the dub stuff the most – the sinewy, echo-laden headcleaners from the likes of the Twinkle Brothers and King Tubby – but I got way deeper into obscure rock music and dropped all reggae & dub when I headed off to Bob Marley University, aka UC-Santa Barbara. It took probably 15 years before I was ready to take up the flag again around 1999, and when I did, it was dub only for the most part – to this day I have an aversion to most (not all) vocal reggae post-1970 or so.

Oddly enough, it was two chapters in an out-of-print book called “The Secret History of Rock” that got me going again; the chapters were on Tubby and Lee “Scratch” Perry, and they totally got my interest piqued. A friend then bought me AUGUSTUS PABLO’s “King Tubbys Meets Rockers Uptown” and that was all she wrote. For 8 years I have been a dub collector, I guess you’d say, if collecting means amassing a library of CD-Rs burned from others & from Soulseek, and CDs actually purchased with real cash money at great dub-laden stores like Streetlight Records in Santa Cruz, CA. A lot of my pals think that dub is kinda lame, or reeks of the reggae that they learned to loathe, and I guess I understand. I’ve been there. Yet the form, which to my ears truly existed in its top guise from about 1972 to 1982 (or thereabouts), is as wild, wacked and unpredictable as many of the rock bands we frequently revere. I’m going to post what I could very legitimately argue are 3 of the top dubs of all time. If you’re newly interested in the genre, I hope this is a portal to another dimension for ya. If you’re an old dub hand, well, then you probably have these already, but it can’t hurt to listen to them again right now at top volume, right?

Download AUGUSTUS PABLO – “King Tubby Meets Rockers Uptown” (buy the CD here)
Download GLEN BROWN & KING TUBBY – “Version 78 Style” (buy the CD here)
Download IMPACT ALL-STARS – “Extraordinary Version” (buy the CD here)

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


The TOUCH-ME-NOTS are a great husband/wife guitar & drums duo from Oakland, California who are working hard on rejuvenating the long-dormant genre of “Ozark punk”. You might recognize this form as having formerly being the province of acts like ’68 COMEBACK, WALTER DANIELS and smaller players like Jerry Lee Lewis and Charlie Feathers. They’ve recently attracted some deserved attention for their stripped-down, bonzai tear-it-up style, which essentially consists of a loud twangy, toothless racket, with the occasional side trip into Lieber/Stoller & girl group territory, made by two of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. They’ve recently released their debut 10”EP “Sheldon Munn” on France’s Yakisakana Records, as well as a second 45rpm disc on Nasty Product. I’m solidly in their camp, & hope you will be too. Here are 3 samples for your listening pleasure:

Download TOUCH-ME-NOTS – “Goin’ To Gut Gevoren” (from “Sheldon Munn” 10”EP)
Download TOUCH-ME-NOTS – “Celebrity Roast” (from their first 45)
Download TOUCH-ME-NOTS – “Bag O' Money” (from their second 45)

Thursday, March 08, 2007


Back in the 80s I used to read Gerard Cosloy's CONFLICT magazine so intently that his bands, the ones I'd never even heard, often became my bands, and since he incessantly and most often deservingly hyped up the ones he dug, I knew their ins & outs pretty well. One I always wanted to hear was DIG DAT HOLE. They were often described in Conflict's pages as being a wild-ass BIRTHDAY PARTY-inspired antecedent, very much in the same school as some other great bands of the day like the Laughing Hyenas and Pussy Galore. They actually imploded even before they got a 45 out the door, and all that ever existed from them was a single cassette tape (pictured here) and an aborted LP, neither of which I've heard in their entirety. The story I got from the interweb says that 2 of the guys moved to NYC and quickly started COP SHOOT COP. They were interesting for about ten minutes in 1990, weren't they?

So here it is in 2007 and I've procured a solitary song of theirs from the cassette and aborted LP called "A Similar End", and - whoa. Absolutely fucking scorch. This has aged like a bottle of fine barleywine, and blows away a fair majority of the musical landscape between 1987 and 2007, wouldn't you say? Wow.

Download DIG DAT HOLE - "A Similar End" (from tape and aborted LP)

Monday, March 05, 2007


I just don't have time to put any real thought into writing about "cultural" stuff these days. The no-look-hand-pass mp3 blog thing is incredibly easy - post the song, write some inane text and boom, there you go. Yet here's an attempt to provide a bit of a peek into some films I watched over the past month. Perhaps there are some titles that you recognize. Perhaps, like me, there are some that you will enjoy. Please allow me to continue:

DESPERATE MAN BLUES - I was so excited to find a DVD documentary about legendary record collector Joe Bussard that I bought this thing without knowing a thing about it, & after watching it I'm glad I had the gumption to do so. The DVD's actually two docs in one - one made by an Australian crew a few years ago about Joe & his foibles, and another similar one made by heroic archivists Dust-to-Digital just last year. If you have a place in your heart for the thrill that comes from rescuing some incredible pre-WWII musical artifact from oblivian (which Bussard has built an entire life on) or from hearing it, then this snapshot of a true American giant is for you. A-

THE DEPARTED - Watched this the night before it took the Oscar for best picture so I could say I'd seen at least a couple of the films that were up for the just about everyone, I dug it. For a 2 and 1/2-hour movie, it moved quickly & played like a great thriller, and I thought the concept of setting up the two different "rats" in the Boston police force and playing them against each other was pretty clever. Even Leonardo DiCaprio was great. Good one, Martin. I'm not sure that guy's even made a movie I can remember since "GoodFellas", and the only thing I remember about that one was the whole funny-like-a-clown bit..... B.

PAN'S LABYRINTH - Believe the hype - very enjoyable, fantastic dazzler about a young girl who escapes her mother's shacking up with a sadastic fascist military commander during the encroaching Spanish civil war by inventing an alternate-but-parallel below-ground reality, full of spooks both comforting and terrifying. Much more violent and creepy than I'd anticipated, which was all well & good. Very well done, just don't take yer little ones. B+.

DEATH OF A CYCLIST - I ventured to a historic San Francisco theater to watch the revival of this 1955 Spanish film directed by Juan Antonio Bardem, about an adulteress and her lover who mow down a cyclist on a back road, and then spend the rest of the movie writhing with guilt. I was a little taken aback by the horrifyingly moralistic way the film wraps up, and the syrupy strings & weeping melodies that came up during every dramatic moment made me feel like the film was more 1945 than it was 1965, if you know what I mean. I guess I was a little disappointed, but that Lucia Bose was quite a dish. C.

THIS IS NOT A PHOTOGRAPH - THE MISSION OF BURMA STORY - For Burma fans only, is what I'm recommending. A documentary on how the band made their way back to live & recorded action a few years ago, very well done & with some outstanding archival footage as well, but maybe lacking any sort of broader theme beyond "Mission of Burma are back and isn't that great?". B-.
TALLADEGA NIGHTS - Absolute garbage, full of clunking jokes and bizarre non-sequiters that go nowhere. Only thing I laughed at were "Ricky Bobby's" redneck kids, but this one was snapped off about two-thirds of the way in. Excruciating. D-.