Tuesday, April 29, 2008


As my cousin would say, “Dude – talk about ‘arguable’!”. If you’re even a half-assed SUN CITY GIRLS fan like I am, you’ll probably be hard-pressed to come up with their “best” moment in a discography with dozens upon dozens of LPs, CDs and 45s. Me, I feel like this Phoenix-cum-Seattle trio hit their peak in the early 1990s, when their clusterfucked sound had a really rough, frantic, exploding edge, underlined by great low-fidelity records like “Valentines From Matahari” and the slightly more big-budget (ha!) “Torch Of The Mystics”. They hadn’t lost themselves fully to experimentation just yet, and they didn’t yet sound completely bored with rock music – nay, they were helping to redefine it. Slicing in elements of Arabic traditional musics, Indian ragas, surf, hardcore punk and full-on dropout drone, the Sun City Girls were one of the great bands of the day. Live, they were a total hoot. I may have written about this once before, but I saw them one time when they put on a “traditional campfire hoedown” on stage, complete with campfire and all manner of bizarre behavior. Another time they rocketed from crushing Arabic punk rock to actually arguing in faux Arabic for about five minutes.

My favorite thing they ever did was this 1992 single on Majora Records, “Let’s Just Lounge / Immortal Gods”. The A-side was originally recorded by VICTORY ACRES, one of those weirdo Phoenix bands found on early Placebo Records comps like “Amuck” and “This Is Phoenix, Not the Circle Jerks”. The B-side was by our hero EDDY DETROITmore on him here. I’ve got a couple of other Sun City Girls rarities to throw up for ya in the near future, but here’s the one I like the best.

Play or Download SUN CITY GIRLS - "Let's Just Lounge" (A-side)
Play or Download SUN CITY GIRLS - "Immortal Gods" (B-side)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


When I first started collecting VELVET UNDERGROUND bootlegs - and this is arguable, but I think the variety & quality of their "unpublished" work easily rivals that of any other band, ever - I was told that one that I must hear was "Sweet Sister Ray". Apparently there had been this long, sweet, hypnotic drone the band used to play before launching into "Sister Ray" itself, and this lead-in was itself longer than the gargantuan "Sister Ray". So you put the two together and you'll got a hell of an evening. I don't know, I could just lock in and zone out with these all night, as many a "head" and a non-head has done for very near forty years now....you'll hear if you pay close attention that "Sweet Sister Ray" truly is a lead-in or a build up for the chaos to follow, though it must be said that the recordings are from different times and years.

"Sweet Sister Ray", nearly 40 minutes in total, was recorded on April 3rd, 1968 at La Cave in Cleveland, OH. You'll see that, coming from a vinyl bootleg as it did, it has been broken up into two tracks. "Sister Ray" #1 is from January 1970 at the 4rth Fret in Philadelphia; "Sister Ray" #2 was laid down in "1969" (that's all it says) at the Boston Tea Party in Boston.

Monday, April 21, 2008


Note: this review will be the third time I've posted the same CLAW HAMMER piece - once when I originally wrote it for my old blog, cropped & pieced together a second time on this blog when I posted some old compilation tracks of theirs, and now yet again when I post their debut 45. You know why? Because I'm lazy, that's why - and at least the words you read below were actually written in review of the 45 I'm posting today. CLAW HAMMER deserve a whole lot more hosannas than they've received to date - they're easily one the best live bands ever viewed - and I'll start the rehabilitation one single at a time - meaning more to come!

From Agony Shorthand, June 30th, 2006:

When CLAW HAMMER first came up through the Los Angeles micro-clubs, playing low on bills with punk & garage acts like THE LAZY COWGIRLS and their ilk, they were sort of a mystery act that took a while to get one’s head around. Were these guys approximating the MC5 playing for Deadheads? CAPTAIN BEEFHEART & THE MAGIC BAND playing acid-laced punk rock? Hampton Grease Band & Roxy Music freaks playing whatever the hell they wanted to play, and playing it really, really loud? Yeah, that one. It took me a couple shows to get the cut of their jib, but in due time they replaced the Cowgirls as “my favorite band”, and from about 1989 to 1993 or so they stayed in the proverbial catbird seat. I started my fanzine Superdope in 1990 and task #1 was to interview and glorify Claw Hammer, so I commandeered the band in their van in an alley at San Francisco’s most unsafe club ever, the 6th Street Rendezvous, and told ‘em I was their biggest fan and would they like to do an interview with me & be friends. They “made the cover” of my edition-of-400, hugely uninfluential magazine, and we did in fact become pals after that. In 1993 I was even their road manager/driver/drinking partner/merch dork on a 40-date North American tour. From that point on – after their first three (maybe two) albums and initial batch of 45s -- it was and continues to be my feeling that their creativity waned a bit and the mojo began to run dry, but when I come back to their early records, especially this very first single from 1989 on Australia’s Grown Up Wrong label, I remember why they were so incredibly special and unlike anyone else going at the time. Allow me to elaborate.

I remember that Eddie Flowers, creator/owner of the SLIPPY TOWN empire and then a sometimes-writer for Forced Exposure, did a piece on the early, early Claw Hammer for said magazine truly before even Los Angeles had woken up to the band (one could legitimately argue that LA never really did). Though I don’t have the article in front of me, Flowers saw the sonic connections that these guys were channeling, and how they funneled them into a sound that really hadn’t been heard before. Claw Hammer, for lack of a better word, were a “greasy” band (not just because of the Grease Band!), in that they played a relatively conventional brand of loud rock and roll that just bled and oozed raw grease and slippery counter-dynamics. When Jon Wahl and Chris Bagarozzi played guitar together, I swear to god at times it was like what everyone said Tom Verlaine & Richard Lloyd were supposed to have sounded like live – unpredictable bits of chaos, pure unbridled energy and extremely amplified sound, but never “showy” nor “flashy”. Just jaw-dropping, that’s all. These guys loved 70s rock – not just the cool stuff that everyone liked back then like The Velvets and the MC5 and the Patti Smith Group – but acts that have only in retrospect achieved complete critical consensus like the aforementioned Roxy Music, early Eno, Big Star, solo Syd Barrett and even (gasp) Steely Dan. They ingested it, turned it out and filtered it through their own experiences as teenage punks (Jon was in an Orange Country hardcore band wholly inspired by the MIDDLE CLASS called The Idle Rich) to create a rich stew of swingin’ punk rock boogie. That spirit was what Flowers captured in his article & what got the world to stand up and take notice – that and their first crop of singles, all of which were incredible.

Honestly, this review could be about any one of those first four 45s – this one, “Sick Fish Belly Up/Moonlight on Vermont”, “Candle Opera/Drop” or “Brother Brick Says/Don’t Walk Away”, so maybe I’ll cut it short and give you the name, rank & serial number of the “Poor Robert” 7”EP. The other two tracks were a frantic cover of the Beatles’ (!) “Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except for Me and My Monkey”, and a harmonica-blastin’ fast Beefheartian blues called “Car Down Again”. “Poor Robert” itself is a majestic 5-minute-plus tale of Robert “Wild Man” Fischer as told by a third party. Jon once told me the story behind it, but I forget now. I haven’t heard from any of those fellas for years now so I figured it was safe to write something nice about them without coming across as a backslapping logroller – and besides, I still love those early Claw Hammer records and play them repeatedly to this day, this one only being the most recent listen. I do hope you will join me in contemplative worship of them.

Play or Download CLAW HAMMER - "Poor Robert" (A-side)
Play or Download CLAW HAMMER - "Car Down Again" (B-side, Track 2)

Sunday, April 20, 2008


The 1985 debut 45 from Australia's SICK THINGS (recorded in 1981) remains in a class by itself for dirty, vile recording quality, and for bleakness one giant step beyond complete hopelessness. "Committed To Suicide / Police" features the vocals of one Dugald McKenzie, a (now-deceased) legend whom who've celebrated here on the 'Twang before for his work with VENOM P. STINGER later on down the road. I found out about them in the early 90s when someone put out a great LP of their recordings - mostly demos - called "The Sound of Silence". It's some real-ass hardcore ear-shredding, something that could likely find a home with noise fanatics, garage fiends, weirdo metal freaks & of course those devoted to ripping hardcore punk. SPK fans and LEFTOVERS fans can finally break bread together!

Play or Download THE SICK THINGS - "Committed To Suicide" (A-side)
Play or Download THE SICK THINGS - "Police" (B-side)

Monday, April 07, 2008


If you've followed this site at all since its transmogrification into an illegal mp3 posting center, you've probably heard a bit of hoot n' holler about the FLESH EATERS. I've posted the track from their rate "Take It!" flexi here, some stuff from a great radio show here, and some whompers from a live show in Detroit here. Now I'm going to spoon-feed you the B-side to a 45 that was given away in 1987 to entice folks to subscribe to Forced Exposure magazine. I needed little enticement by that point, but I guess I'd have done anything to get this record, so despite my current subscription, I begged my way into a copy of the DIVINE HORSEMEN / FLESH EATERS 45, as it had a live version of the song "Divine Horseman" from the '82 version of the Flesh Eaters - only one of the most powerful & greatest combos of all time. Thing was, the 45 I got in the mail had this giant vinyl globule on the Divine Horseman side, right at the start of the song (a demo of "Mothers' Worry"), and thus I've never actually been able to play that side. Thankfully I was able to get the flip side spinning, and not long ago I "digitized" it for your listening enjoyment.

Play or Download THE FLESH EATERS - "Divine Horseman" (live 1982) - B-side of '87 Forced Exposure subscriber-only 45