Monday, November 03, 2008

TWO LOST ONES FROM 100 FLOWERS

“Lost” might be a bit of a misnomer, since both finally turned up on the “KEATS RIDES A HARLEY” reissue CD a couple of years ago, but hey, until then these were l-o-s-t, baby. You wanted ‘em, you had to come into my room, or you had to buy an original “Keats” LP and an original “Life Is Ugly, So Why Not Kill Yourself?” compilation LP. 100 FLOWERS, as you may know, were the URINALS after the Urinals decided to take it up a notch – or down, depending on one’s point of view. They existed from 1981-1984, and nearly everything they ever recorded, I think save these two songs, was packaged on a great CD called “100 YEARS OF PULCHRITUDE” that you can still find.

Here’s what I wrote about it a few years ago:

“….I still marvel at the clean break this band made from their original sputtering, spastic sound simply by changing their name. I'm speaking, of course, of the immediate 180-degree transformation from the URINALS (1978-81) into 100 FLOWERS (1981-84), with all 3 original members still in tow. I'm sure I once knew why they made the switch; probably a rejection of the punk rock rootz in favor of the more wink-nod cultural revolution moniker 100 FLOWERS. And not like The Urinals had a real high profile when they were around, but my sources tell me 100 Flowers barely registered in and around LA the three years they were existent, despite high-profile comp appearances on punker collections "Hell Comes To Your House" and "Keats Rides a Harley". When this near-compleat compilation came out almost 15 years ago in the early days of CDs, somehow it ended up remaindered and priced to move in a hurry, so my cousin gobbled up a couple dozen of them and handed them out like aspirin to anyone who'd take one. I took one. Though it is certainly not without its meandering moments and some misfired art-funk overreach, "100 Years of Pulchritude" is one of those great lost essential CDs that needs to be added to your collection ASAP.

100 Flowers were a real unique & strange animal. Three UCLA grad students/professors, who were sworn to punk brevity and form but were also quite resistant to all its manifest trappings. They created a minimalist stew of buzzing chop-chop-chop guitar, way upfront funk bass and a skittering percussion that kept the beat and took it off course as well. If they weren't "post-punk" I'm not sure who were. Their M.O. was likely to keep it as real as possible, which meant pleasing themselves foremost & hoping a few others might get wise to their charms. Their debut LP featured one member, John Talley-Jones I believe, lounging completely nude, dangling his participle for all the world to comment on (only the Don Bolles weenie-wagging on that VOX POP EP comes close). If I had to pick a favorite of these 28 kinetic, wildly different set of tunes, it would have to be the bonzai "Motorboat to Hell" from their one and only LP, as well as that record's closer "California's Falling Into The Ocean". Both have the crazed, attacking drive of the second two Urinals 45s, but add a dollop of breaks and quick jumps that show not only more instrumental proficiency, but a real attempt to branch out and paint with a new artful & brainy pallatte. By the time they put out their final EP "Drawing Fire", they were headed in a more atmospheric & dense direction ("Triage" and "Contributions") that was getting mighty boring mighty fast, which might be why they scattered & went on to new projects. Still, those tracks (and the omission of the fantastic "Salmonella" from "Keats Rides a Harley") don't mar anything -- the CD is one of those overviews that duly unwraps a band's hidden charms, and gives them their due way past what they likely reckoned to be their shelf life at the time. Track this down if your interest is at all piqued; at the least it might be a kick trying to locate a CD that's been unavailable for years, right? (Or you can order it right now
directly from the artist -- not quite as fun but so much more spiritually fulfilling)….”

Get that, get these, and call it a day, why don’t ya?





Download 100 FLOWERS – “Salmonella” (from 1981 “Keats Rides a Harley” compilation)
Download 100 FLOWERS – “Sensible Virgin” (from 1982 “Life Is Ugly…” compilation)

4 comments:

bob reich said...

I am psyched that you have decided to keep mp3blogging.

I do have one complaint about divshare though... it strips the tags off the mp3s. Arrgh.

But anyway, keep it up!

andrew said...

Nice to see you fighting the good fight Jay.

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