Monday, April 30, 2007


SCOTT “DELUXE” DRAKE is an individual whom I’ve proudly been acquainted with for well over sixteen years now; back in my young twenties, his nascent band THE HUMPERS would crash on my floor and back up my toilet every time they came through San Francisco. Given their (undeserved) lack of profile at the time (1991 and 1992), a layperson like me was even given the opportunity to help book them shows at out-of-the-way dives across town, which they of course blew the doors off of. Of course, a limited subset of residents of Southern California had already been thrilling to the rock hijinks and shenanigans of Scott Drake and his older brother Jeff for almost a decade, with Scott in the glamtastic, HEARTBREAKERS-esque punk group the SUICIDE KINGS and of course vis-à-vis Jeff’s fantastic glory stompers THE JONESES. When The Humpers roared in with leather jackets blazing in the hot SoCal sun at the dawn of the 90s, the rest of the planet began to take some notice as well, and The Humpers cranked out several great loud-ass, Cleveland-punk-revering albums and 45s through the rest of the decade. Three of them came out on Epitaph Records not long after that particular label had generated a boatload of cash from several crossover punk rock hits, which enabled the smaller, more true-to-form bands on the label (like The Humpers) to tour to infinity & the great beyond, and to also generate a rabid, if small, following outside of the LA basin.

Eight years later, and after a brief one-album pit stop in a rawkin combo called THE VICE PRINCIPALS, the now-Portland, Oregon-resident Drake is still putting out hotshit new records under his own moniker, with longtime collaborator JEFF FIELDHOUSE (ex-Suicide Kings and Humpers, currently of 8-FOOT TENDER, who put out a 2003 CD with Drake as well). The brand new one is called “GRAND MAL”, and I was so impressed by the keep-the-faith roar of the thing, I reckoned it was time for a Deluxe Drake mp3 retrospective. Here are five love bombs from the man’s storied career – and do keep your eye peeled for the “Grand Mal” CD; it comes out officially on June 12th. (two tracks from it are below).

Play or Download THE SUICIDE KINGS – “Take Yer Medicine” (from 1985 7”EP on Adult Negro records)
Play or Download THE HUMPERS – “Up Yer Heart” (from 1992 CD “Positively Sick on 4th Street”)
Play or Download THE VICE PRINCIPALS - "Snitch" (from 2000 LP "After School With The Vice Principals")
Play or Download SCOTT “DELUXE” DRAKE – “Grand Mal” (from 2007 CD “Grand Mal”)
Play or Download SCOTT “DELUXE” DRAKE – “Shanghai Cabaret” (from 2007 CD “Grand Mal”)

Friday, April 27, 2007


This 45 from a short-lived San Francisco band never really found a home in the ears of the rock and roll cognoscenti when it came out in 1992, and quite honestly I don’t even know how I came into contact with it. It was probably a promo I received during a time when packages of 45s were a dime a dozen, and most that I got sent (I did a fanzine at the time) were from labels who could afford to blast their records out to anyone & everyone, which usually meant they were marginal-to-terrible. But this MARZIPAN single, on Echonet Records, grabbed me quickly, and it’s still a favorite to this day. First, it’s one of the loudest records I’ve ever heard, despite being an ostensible (garage) pop record. Mastered so far into the red I could barely even record it for you, both “I Believe” and “Last Train To The Sun” benefit from a wall of guitar that defines everything else about the songs – which, at the end of the day, are happy little ditties of simple strum & sunshine. Some might attempt to link it to concurrent UK bands like My Bloody Valentine and the like, but you – you know better.

MARZIPAN were around at the same time as the heyday of Tom Guido’s PURPLE ONION nightclub in San Francisco, so not long after this single came out, I went to see them play to an audience of about 30 there one night. They were great! I went with the head of punk rock label Empty Records, then better-known for slammin’ near-HC bands like THE FUMES or wild garage punks like the SINISTER SIX. He made an attempt to sign the band on the spot, distinct pop leanings be damned – they were that impressive. Several months later the band was gone, and I’ve heard nary a soul speak positively or negatively of them since, which is a shame. Here is their one and only recorded legacy – hope you enjoy it.

Play or Download MARZIPAN – “I Believe” (A-side)
Play or Download MARZIPAN – “Last Train To The Sun” (B-side)

Thursday, April 26, 2007


Well you’re about to find out, courtesy of this insane 1963 soul workout from REX GARVIN, originally released on the world-famous OKEH label. I first came into contact with it vis-à-vis an ace GIBSON BROS cover of the song; later YO LA TENGO attempted it as well, though I am not privy to how that one turned out. I then heard Garvin’s original on the wild “party” compilation LP, “AT THE PARTY”, which is a must-track-down if you can ever find it (I’ll bet Norton Records might still have some).

In the course of my limited research on this song I’ve just now found out that a blog called THE STYPOD has posted both Garvin’s version and the two aforementioned covers. It can’t hurt for the ‘Twang to post Garvin’s version again, can it?

Play or Download REX GARVIN – “Emulsified” (A-side of 1963 45)

Tuesday, April 24, 2007


There is an unparallel sense of teenage joy & punk rock lust that comes screaming off the grooves of all the early 80s RED CROSS material, particularly their masterpiece LP, "Born Innocent", one of my favorite records ever. Here's what we had to say about that one on our old blog Agony Shorthand when we put digital pen to digital paper a few years ago:

"I'm forsaking the commoner's spelling of the band's name, "Redd Kross", in favor of the band's original, pre-threatened lawsuit moniker and the one that graced the first editions of this incredible record. You know, take a step back for a second here with me. We talk a lot about raw DIY masterpieces here at Agony Shorthand, records in which the relative lack of talent of the musicians & general bash-it-out spirit speaks louder and more forthright than records made by professionals in search of dulled edges and easy winnings. That said, why don't we bray about RED CROSS more often? It's not that I'm not a fan or even a newcomer to the early (1979-82) band's charms -- my two college radio shows in the 80s were called "White Trash" and "Notes and Chords Mean Nothing To Me" in honor of tracks performed by the stellar McDonald/McDonald/Housden/Lea lineup captured on this record. No, I reckon I've just taken for granted how genius this stuff is after listening to it ad nauseum for so many years. Whenever I'm asked for a list of my Top 20 albums of all time (which is never, but I'm ready!), I always have 1982's "Born Innocent" fired up and ready to go. Now I will proceed to impart several of my many reasons for having it loaded and at the ready. "Born Innocent" saw a band in which half the members -- the very young but already veteran LA punks, Steve and Jeff McDonald -- were overcoming early teenage ineptitude and were learning to play fast, loose NY DOLLS-style cockrock, with the wild abandon and revved-up tempo of peers like Black Flag, the Descendents and the Circle Jerks. Stuck on the other pole were their new rhythm section recruits Tracy Lea and Janet Housden, two very young, musically unexceptional party girls who were chosen mainly for their willingness to take direction and party hard on a moment's notice with the McDonalds. You couldn't have asked for a better yang for the ying, if you know what I'm saying.

"Born Innocent" is the fruit of this polarity -- a rollicking, shambling goodtime punk rock party record full of joy, bacchanalia and plentiful offerings to the garage/trash gods. No matter how often the subject matter approaches topics friendly to dark pop culture-obsessed 16-year-olds (Charles Manson, Linda Blair, "Beyond The Valley of the Dolls" etc.), you still walk away with an ear-to-ear grin and an urge to hear the thing again & again. Top representative moment that sums up the pituitary joi de vivre of the disc: the inept, three-second "bass solo" that pokes its head up for a nibble at the end of "Kill Someone You Hate". Love it. My favorite "cassette tape" for years was a side of a C-90 I titled "Red Cross - The Early Years"; it had their first EP, "Born Innocent" and every one of the many comp tracks made by the 1979-82 model(s) of the band: "Notes and Chords", "Rich Brat", "St. Lita Ford Blues" etc. Of these, the very best two are included on the CD reissue of "Born Innocent": the bafflingly named motorized screamer "Tatum O'Tot and the Fried Vegetables" (in which the band truly sounds like they can PLAY) and my all-time fave "Notes and Chords Mean Nothing to Me" -- a trite statement of purpose to be sure, but a killer harmonic punk rock song in anyone's book. That tape enlivened many a car trip for years, just as "Born Innocent" will your music collection -- indeed, your life -- when you click this link and order the expanded compact disc version today!

Hopefully you did, but if not, that link still works. Meanwhile, there's this bootleg I bought in 1993 or so that serves up 6 fantastic demos from the same era, including one ("It Doesn't Matter") that didn't make it to the album. Some of the versions - "Solid Gold" for instance - are barely recognizable, and they rule all the same. Here you go, my friends.

Play or Download RED CROSS - "Everyday There's Someone New (demo)"
Play or Download RED CROSS - "It Doesn't Matter (demo)"
Play or Download RED CROSS - "White Trash (demo)"
Play or Download RED CROSS - "Self Respect (demo)"
Play or Download RED CROSS - "Pseudo Intellectual (demo)"
Play or Download RED CROSS - "Solid Gold (demo)"

Monday, April 23, 2007


VENOM P. STINGER were a simply overpowering Australian band from the late 80s and early 90s (post-SICK THINGS, pre-DIRTY THREE, and containing members of both); I was lucky enough to see them twice live in San Francisco & Los Angeles in a late, late incarnation of the band, but if I'd had my druthers I'd have seen the lineup that recorded the amazing "Walking About / 26 Milligrams" 45, which is easily one of the Top 200 singles that I know of. Well, this cool fella Kent from Iowa was kind enough to "friend" the Detailed Twang MySpace site this weekend, and right there on his page is the following YouTube video of "Walking About". Wow! I dug a little deeper and there's one on YouTube for "26 Milligrams" too - both are amazing. Now you can watch them both right here.

Saturday, April 21, 2007


The song "Getting Nowhere Fast" has been restored for your downloading pleasure on our Monday, April 16th post on GIRLS AT OUR BEST. The song is now complete, and can be played or downloaded.

Thursday, April 19, 2007


I once remarked in the early 90s that if I ever had to rip off the record, film and pop culture ephemera collection of one single individual, I’d have chosen Larry Hardy’s – Larry of course being the wunderkind behind IN THE RED RECORDS, for many, many years one of the world’s finest rock and roll record labels (still is to this day). I said this not because Larry’s vast holdings were necessarily more valuable than anyone else’s (of course I’d truly go into Joe Bussard’s basement first), but because he seemed to have every cool record that I wanted that had just gone out of print, and because he always seemed to get that edition-of-100 7” single that I always found out about one minute too late (from people like Larry).

Naturally it was Larry who turned me onto this 1986 scorcher from THE WORKDOGS on “King Dog Bisquet” records. This two-man, lo-fidelity, crazed blues/comedy band have played with many heavyweights over the years, but back in ’86 they were just starting to build their mythos and put their raw sounds out directly to the people. “Funny $” has a riff that will claw its way into your cranial lobes and never leave, which I assure you will be crazy-making for most folks, but me, I’m happy to have it bouncing around in there. It’s a marathon workout by “garage punk” standards, too – at least six or seven minutes, right? For fun, here’s the phonus-balonus liner notes they included with the single way back then:

The Workdogs are the hot, new blues sensation that has all of New York on it's ear. A two man rhythm unit employing the services of a third - replacable - instrumentalist, the Workdogs have cut a wide swathe across the contemporary music scene. Equally versed in rock, jazz, trash and noise as well as their acknowledged mastry of the blues idiom; the 'dogs are in high demand - not only for their legendary live performances but also as New York's premier rhythm section for hire.

In spite of the Workdogs' phenominal popularity, little is actually known about Robert "HiRex" Kennedy. His name appears on the 1980 census three times - aged twenty seven - residing in Los Angeles, New York and Helena, Arkansas. Sources in these cities describe him variously and contradictorily.

It is thought that Kennedy spent his teen years following the fabled "Dumb" John Gomer (Cosmar) who apparently was his first and only teacher. Gomer would play the blues but he would (or could) not sing them; perhaps this accounts for "hiRex's" idiosyncratic vocal techniques. Likewise his lyricism, in which verses have little logical sequence and may - as rumour has it - flow directly from his subconscious mind. Besides these many intangible nuances his work is spiked with vocal asides, topical references and other special effects that suggest the buffoonery of the Workdogs' live performance.

Of Scott Jarvis we know considerably more. Jarvis' North Carolina Piedmont background is well documented. He himself often speaks fondly of his maternal great grandfather who is still something of a Piedmont legend for his drumming at most major local sporting events - especially baseball games. This, apparently, is the inspiration for Jarvis' sobriquet: "Blind Frothin' Baseball."

Sometime during his twenties, "Frothin" became acquainted with J.F. "Peck" Curtis and subsequently taught him everything he knew: the "controlled skid", the "hesitation recovery", the "stop immediately" and the "blues waltz" to name a few. Listening to his playing, one might think that he had set out deliberately to develop a style that could never be reproduced by machine - an all too common practice at the time. in fact, first person accounts confirm Frothin' Baseball's obsessive - some say superstitious - distrust of the newfangled technology.
Perhaps this explains the Workdogs' shunning the recording studio in favor of live performance. It is said that the 'dogs will set up anywhere, anytime and do virtually anything to hold an audience's attention. Numerous stories and hundreds of "bootleg" tapes attest to this fact. Yet these two sides are currently the only Workdogs material available anywhere in print, a sorry situation that King Dog Bisquet hopes to soon rectify.

Play or Download THE WORKDOGS – “Funny $” 45

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


I wasn’t exactly looking for a nonsensical east coast heir to THE FUGS and the HOLY MODAL ROUNDERS who played sideways pop tunes in an absurdly playful, demented manner, but when this 7” arrived in my mailbox in 1991 I immediately pronounced it one of my favorite records, and FLY ASHTRAY one of my favorite bands. I quickly interviewed them by mail for my fanzine; I struck up a “pen pal” friendship with Glenn Luttman, the band’s drummer; and I pimped them to the pals and non-pals wherever I could. For a couple years there Fly Ashtray, on the strength of some excellent 45s and EPs (“Let’s Have Some Crate” from 1993 being a particularly good one), built up a nice foaming head of underground steam. Sure, you could quibble with the “silly” aspects of the band – the meaningless song titles, for instance – or with the sometimes directionless timbre of the music itself, but when the band were hitting on all cylinders, they made a joyful, strange noise. Believe it or not, they soldier on in 2007. Check out both their web site and MySpace page for evidence. Me, I think this 45 is their “apotheosis”, and I’m pleased as punch to broadcast it to the World Wide Web this morning.

Play or Download FLY ASHTRAY – “Soap” (A-side of 1991 single)
Play or Download FLY ASHTRAY – “Bip” (B-side, Track 1 of 1991 single)
Play or Download FLY ASHTRAY – “Feather” (B-side, Track 2 of 1991 single)

Friday, April 13, 2007


Truth be told, I think SACCHARINE TRUST were sort of also-rans in the early 80s Los Angeles rock scene, which produced so many incredible bands that it made Sac Trust, a fine combo, maybe the 47th most important band of the “scene”. But they certainly had their moments. Early on, on comp tracks like this one and on their debut “Pagan Icons” EP, the band played a great angry, off-tempo artpunk with really frothing, weird-guy-rants-n-raves vocals from Jack Brewer. You can totally see how it attracted the attention of Greg Ginn and the SST crew, and Saccharine Trust were one of the very first bands to be signed to that label. I can remember back to when the only non-Black Flag records in SST’s catalog were Minutemen, Stains and Saccharine Trust records, along with 45s from Overkill and Wurm. Later, Saccharine Trust went sideways with a sort of mutant, art-damaged punk jazz, with some improv flourishes. Only their second album. “Surviving You, Always” really did it for me during this era, and only then on a few tracks like the excellent “Cat Cracker”. After that LP they went off into the freakzone, like so many of the SST peers, and I stopped paying any sort of attention, as did everyone else not named Dave Lang (with all due respect!).

One classic scorcher of theirs was “Hearts and Barbarians”, released on the “CRACKS IN THE SIDEWALK” 45rpm EP comp put out by Mike Watt’s New Alliance records in 1980. I love the hardcore punk tempo but the restrained vocals, the snaky guitar line, and the general sense of evil and/or loss in this one. They had a couple others this smoking, but not many. See what you think by playing or downloading it below.

Play or Download SACCHARINE TRUST – “Hearts and Barbarians” (from “Cracks In The Sidewalk” compilation EP)

Thursday, April 05, 2007


No, not these guys – these guys are THE SONICS, still the standard-bearers for the form, but two low-circulation screamers from 1966, both of which are absolute monsters. Listen and marvel as the singer for the REASONS WHY goes absolutely apoplectic over a girl - quite possibly the most over-the-top, "savage" vocal performance of the day. Thrill to the stunning, wall-of-guitar intro to THE SPLIT ENDS' "Rich With Nothing", and then quietly add this to your mental list of the rawest & best 60s punk songs.

I know both numbers because of a bootleg LP called “I WAS A TEENAGE CAVEMEN” , yet both are also available on various semi-legit LPs and CDs as well. They’re also available right here, at no charge to the customer.

Download THE REASONS WHY – “Don’t Be That Way”
Download THE SPLIT ENDS – “Rich With Nothing”

Monday, April 02, 2007

RESIDUAL ECHOES / WOODEN SHJIPS / NOTHING PEOPLE, live 3/29/07, Hemlock Tavern, San Francisco

First post of mine in a while that doesn’t contain an mp3, sorry about that folks – always throwing curveballs over here. Last Thursday night I attended a pretty good one @ San Francisco’s Hemlock Tavern, my first chance to see a couple of these bands, and a third date for me in as many months with local psych wizards the WOODEN SHJIPS. I learned a few things, too. Like that all that noise the NOTHING PEOPLE make on their 45 comes out of just three people, two of ‘em married if you can believe it! The band were every bit of hot n heavy as I’d imagined they’d be, a full-on take-me-back-to-’75 blend of heavy pre-punk space-out in the mold of Simply Saucer and Debris, featuring long-ish jams built into compact and punkish song structures. They traded instruments like they were fantasy baseball players a week before the season, lining up 3 different ways for only six songs by my count. Fantastic band, easily one of the best going right now.

WOODEN SHJIPS I’m almost getting used to now. They always play four songs, each usually clocking in around 8-10 minutes, three of which have been the same each time I’ve seen them, along with one “wild card”. This time it was “Shrinking Moon For You”, the biker-damaged art/psych monster that introduced the band to the world on last year’s 10”. Having played that thing several hundred dozen times, I guess a live version that didn’t hue to the script in my head would be a little disappointing, and it was, which probably says more about me than them. The bass player is the secret weapon of this band – the guy who looks & moves almost exactly like a pokerfaced Bob Weir, holding down an unchanging rhythm for the entire song while total keyboard & guitar chaos swirls around him. It’s that sort of Teutonic krautrock efficiency, among other things, that distinguishes this band from others who pretend to hold a foot in their camp. I’m counting on more nights out in front of crowd making these guys totally unstoppable a year from now.

I’d only heard a few songs from RESIDUAL ECHOES (pictured here) previously (loud, free, knuckle-dragging wooly mammoth rock), and some folks were muttering about how they’d recently recast the cut of their jib. No kidding! They were an absolute note-perfect knockoff of an SST band, circa 1984-87 or so, and if Greg Ginn had been in the audience and this was twenty years ago there’d have been backstage contracts signed & champagne a-flowin’ after the show. The smoking-fine female bass player even looked & headbanged the part perfectly, like she was Sylvia Juncosa or Kira Roessler reborn. I tried egging her on in encouragement, yelling “KIRA’S GOT THE 10 AND A HALF!” after every song, but getting no response, I slunk to the back of the room. But seriously folks, the RESIDUAL ECHOES’ “new direction” sounded like “Metal Circus”-era HUSKER DU crossed with some weird amalgamation of DAS DAMEN, late-period BLACK FLAG, and SWA. I dug it, if only because I felt like I was back at the Anti-Club in LA in 1987 at an SST barbeque, hoping I wouldn’t get caught with a beer in my hand. Maybe take that away and they were just OK, but I’m interested in hearing where they’ll take this on vinyl.