Tuesday, June 30, 2009


SPK were an Australian group who recorded into the late 80s and whose music ended up in the lower-case “industrial” zone – industrial as in disco-dance, heavy-BPM goth garbage; very popular in the late 80s as I’m sure you’ll recall. But in 1978 and 1979 they were an incredible upper-case Industrial band all the way, as it was defined at the time – jarring, abrasive, percussive, and other employing mangled synth sounds and rhythm patterns on scrap metal and cans & the like. I’m a recent convert to their early stuff. I wrote about it over here in 2004; here’s an excerpt from what I said then:

……I am floored by how fantastically harsh and rhythmically complex their debut 1979 singles are: “Contact” and “Mekano” in particular. These are the records that are not only mind-numbingly rare and collectable, but have been popping up on certain collectors’ lists of the world-beating best DIY 45s of that era. I’d have to agree. The 1979 version of SPK took a straight-to-the-gut punk rock approach to early industrial noise, and made a handful of tracks that you simply have got to hear if you haven’t before. I’d count them among my favorite discoveries of the many things I’ve undeservedly ignored over the years……

Both these songs are available on a CD compilation called “Auto-Da-Fe” (buy it here), but if you can’t find that, they’re available right here as well. Prepare to be floored.

Play SPK, "Contact"

Download SPK – “Contact” (from 1978 45)
Download SPK – “Mekano” (from 1979 45)

Sunday, June 28, 2009


I typically won't back away from my strong new wave (a.k.a "modern music") fandom during my junior high & high school days. While I'm proud of being a strong real-time supporter of THE CRAMPS and assorted hardcore bands (uh, SIN 34?) during their heyday, the truth remains that during 1978-1984 or so I was a huge fan of rock and roll that was far less cool. I was a teenager; I turned 12 in 1979, so the fact that I even knew where the left of the dial was is remarkable in & of itself, I guess. My favorite bands in coming years were Siouxsie & The Banshees; Bauhaus; Simple Minds; Cramps; Xmal Deutschland (who??); the Dead Kennedys (I'm far more embarrassed by that than the Smiths 45s I stockpiled around 1983-84); etc.

One song that totally stands up for me now & then is "Cuckoo Clock" by RACHEL SWEET, one of the Stiff Records mafia in the late 70s and a total Midwestern American girl. Yes, despite the fake British accent on this one. Hey, you might totally hate it, but it still brings a chortle to my belly every time I give it a spin. I've written before about how I'd sit by the radio and listen to boring FM rock, just hoping that I'd hear something even vaguely "new wave". Then I'd write down the name of the song, and when my parents would take me to Musicland or The Record Factory or Tower Records, I'd spend hours searching the stacks for those records, and generally lusting after records in general. I got the RACHEL SWEET "Fool Around" LP from 1978 (I bought it a year or two later) around the same time I got LOU REED's "Transformer" (because I heard "Vicious" on KSJO or KOME) and ROXY MUSIC's "Greatest Hits" (because I heard "Virginia Plain" and "Love Is The Drug" on some Casey Kasem countdown show).

See what you think about the track "Cuckoo Clock". I think it rules. I wish someone besides "The Mr. T Experience" would cover it.

Play Rachel Sweet, "Cuckoo Clock"

Download RACHEL SWEET - "Cuckoo Clock" (from 1978 "Fool Around" LP)

Thursday, June 25, 2009


When I think hard on what might be the greatest rock and roll songs of all time, I get stuck on a small handful that I’d easily listen to anytime, anywhere, tracks I doubt I’d grow tired of in any situation. Even if my car plunged off a steep ravine and I became stuck in a ditch with my hands bloodily pinned behind my back for five days & nights, steering wheel painfully thrust into my chest, with one song playing over and over on a Cassingle auto-loop. I’d probably want to hear PERE UBU’s "Heart of Darkness" if I were stuck in such a pickle. Then maybe “Gimme Shelter”, "Fallait Pas Ecraser La Queue Du Chat" or PINK FLOYD’s “See Emily Play”. Yet I swear I’d be just as pleased if this swaggering 1983 Heartbreakers-inspired punker from THE JONESES were keeping me company in my hour of darkness.

Haven’t heard this one before? What, you don’t own the “Someone Got Their Head Kicked In” comp LP on Better Youth Organization records?? What the Joneses were doing on this thing is beyond comprehension – only their Los Angeles address and their nods to speedy punk rock form keep them in company with lunkheads like YOUTH BRIGADE, 7 SECONDS and AGGRESSION, and the raw glory of “Pillbox” stands out like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the Moishe's Pippic knish counter.

I don’t know all that much about THE JONESES, really, just that after this era in their career they piled their hair up in big poofy poodle cuts and released a mediocre album around 1985 called “Keeping Up With The Joneses”. Their checkered career is captured on the Sympathy CD “Criminal History” (pictured here), which “Pillbox” righteously and deservedly kicks off. I also know that Jeff Drake, more or less the band leader, went on to the SUICIDE KINGS with his kid brother Scott “Deluxe” Drake (later of THE HUMPERS and today’s SCOTT DELUXE DRAKE & THE WORLD’S STRONGEST MEN), and then later went on to the klink for various crimes. If pills are truly a gateway drug to a life of vice, then “Pillbox” is more than prophetic.

The song somehow correlates drug use and the love of a good woman into one fantastic, rollicking blitzkrieg of a glam/punk song. Every big of rockstar swagger you associate with kingpin swaggerers like the NY DOLLS, ROLLING STONES and aforementioned Heartbreakers is rolled up into this song, then played quickly and aggressively like the bastard sons of James Williamson might. The vocals are easily of a league with Mick and David Johanson, at least this one time, and you get the feeling that, A.) the band poured every ounce of talent they possessed into this one 2-minute masterpiece, and B.) that you’d have given a left arm to watch them play it in person. I’d heartily recommend a quick free play or download of “Pillbox” - like how about right here?

Play The Joneses, "Pillbox"

Download THE JONESES - "Pillbox"

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


If I was the sort of fella who liked to rank & order things, I’d probably have to call this song one of the five finest examples of 1960s girl group pop ever. SUSAN LYNNE’s “Don’t Drag No More” from 1964 may or may not have been the girl-group “answer” song to JAN & DEAN’s “Deadman’s Curve”, as it isn’t really an answer song per se. Yet the first half of the 60s was awash in these crazy dead-teenager anthems, always with some guy being warned not to go to fast, and always with a crying girl by his side as he breathes his final words, which are predictably some variation on “I love you”. Though this one doesn't actually capture the dying - just the warning, I discovered it on the “One Kiss Can Lead To Another” box set (pictured), an amazing artifact of 1960s girl sounds contained in a hatbox. It’s among the treasures of the era, and I want you to please give it a listen right about now.

Play Susan Lynne, “Don’t Drag No More”

Download SUSAN LYNNE – “Don’t Drag No More” (A-side of 1964 single)

Monday, June 22, 2009


As mentioned previously, I used to publish a music fanzine in the 1990s, and stupid me, I sold or gave away every copy of most of the issues until I only had one of each left (SUPERDOPE #1-4 and #7 – one copy!). I want to scan them and put them online for easy reading. I’ve noticed in a bit of searching that hundreds of old science fiction ‘zines are scanned and very easily accessible, but I have no idea how to upload them to host so they open with one click and can be read like a magazine. Like this one. If anyone knows how to do that and where to go, I’d be eternally grateful. Contact me at the link to the right.


(This is a re-post from early 2007)

In 1994, for about five minutes, I fashioned myself a budding record label entrepreneur to some extent. I'd heard pals wax rhapsodically about how incredibly easy and cheap it was to put out a 45, and for the most part - since I put out or helped put out all of two - it totally was. I started a label called WOMB RECORDS, and was lucky enough to be allowed to put out MONOSHOCK's first record, "Primitive Zippo" - a searing, wild-ass overloaded mindfuck that kicks off their posthumous CD, a disc that you simply must get. What was I gonna do next? Well, I kind of knew the folks in the GORIES a little bit, as I'd interviewed them for the fanzine I did in the early 90s, and I also met & hoisted beverages with Dan(ny), their guitarist, in Detroit in 1993. My friend Anthony, who ran PAST IT RECORDS and was in the Icky Boyfriends at the time, also knew Danny & the flaunting ladies from his brand new band, the DEMOLITION DOLL RODS. We decided to team up and put out their debut 7"EP together, so it ended up being a Womb/Past It co-production.

What was cool was that the two of us got to pluck the songs that would kick off this still-active band's recording career from a tape they gave us, and the Doll Rods gave us full rein to select our favorites, track order, etc. I think we chose pretty well. The band never really touched the Gories for raw, unadulterated stripped-down soul power, but I feel to this day that this is the closest that they came. It sold well enough that Anthony & PAST IT did a solo re-press of another 500 copies with a blue-tinged cover; I opted out and threw in the towel for record mogulship. If you ever see the black-and-white cover pictured here, that's the one that we did. If you never see it, well, here are the songs.

Play The Demolition Doll Rods, "We're The Doll Rods"

Download DEMOLITION DOLL RODS - "We're The Doll Rods" (Side A, Track 1)
Download DEMOLITION DOLL RODS - "Give It Up" (Side A, Track 2)
Download DEMOLITION DOLL RODS - "No Tickets, No Passes" (Side B)

Friday, June 19, 2009


The kind gentleman who runs Holy Mountain records actually tried to turn me onto the HIGH SPEED & THE AFFLICTED MAN record called “Get Stoned EZY”, a couple years before I was ready to open my cranium to it. I don’t know why this severe fuzzorama guitar-damage LP didn’t do me right on the first go-round, but it didn’t. Now only mere seconds into the incredible side-long track “Sun Sun” and it’s careful with that axe, Eugene. Steve Hall is the guy behind this one – I did some research and realized that one of the all-time great mp3 blogs, CRUD CRUD, already posted (and subsequently deleted) this track in 2007.

His write-up – which swipes from Tom Lax’s write-up – tells the tale better than I ever could:

“Among DIY psych & private press enthusiasts, The Afflicted Man (AKA Steve Hall) is pretty legendary. To the uninitiated, his is just a name. Maybe you might read a reference to it, some review by the Bull Tongue duo name drops Steve Hall or you see an Afflicted Man comparison in a Forced Exposure listing. You note the name and keep going. But, if you are like me, it is a name you never encounter in the record bin, because, hell, this shit is impossible to find. Even rabid music freaks are eluded by gems like Get Stoned Ezy. Too bad, because this stuff is dynamite. Grenchingly rabid guitar fuzz squall is what High Speed & the Afflicted Man is all about, perfect for the High Rise/Mainliner/Monoshock set. So what is the background on The Afflicted Man. I'll let my friend and colleague Roland Woodbe tell you. This from The Siltblog:

Afflicted Man (or Afflicted) was the charming moniker of a Londoner by the name've Steve Hall. Up to this outing, Afflicted Man's style could best described at stock-in-trade Brit DIY w/an almost Street Level sort've quality to it. Then at some point Hall lost the Afflicted tag & went on to the Accursed, which was a decidedly Nation Front styled punk trio who knocked out (at least) 2 lp's. And somewhere between that transformation came this amazing anomaly. Too freaked out for punks, too punked out for freaks, 'Get Stoned Ezy' is a bloodbath of pedal stomping carnage. Recorded & (originally) released in 1982, it must've felt like a rusty safety pin stuck straight through the heart of whatever DIY fanbase Hall had acquired. And for all the Pink Fairies or Hawkwind type's that mighta come across it, it was too primitive & animalistic for their quid. And forget about the psych & prog clowns. To them this must've seemed like a soundtrack to the Manson Family. In a country where the pigeonhole is everything, this record wouldn't play by the rules, was deemed "esoteric" & banished into the fog. See ya!"

Love it. “A bloodbath of pedal stomping carnage”. That tells you everything you need to know, sports fans – that and downloading the track below.

Play High Speed & The Afflicted Man, “Sun Sun”

Download HIGH SPEED & THE AFFLICTED MAN – “Sun Sun” (from 1982 “Get Stoned EZY” LP)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


I was exposed to the compleat early works of England’s late 70s/early 80s DIY critics' fave SCRITTI POLITTI as those “Messthetics” compilations started coming out. Oh, you mean that horrible mid-80s “new wave/disco” group? Yes, the very same. As it turns out – and I did actually know this already, but am pretending it’s a new discovery – the band started life as arty, highbrow intellectual class warriors with a feisty independent and DIY ethos before drifting into a “moderne rock of the 80s” mode.

Taken as a whole, their pre-1983 work is a mixed bag, but man, there are some really fantastic standout moments in their track record that I’ll rank up with the giants of shambling, post-punk independent rock music. And the thing is that these are definitely not grabbers, if you know what I’m saying. Even their best songs from their first single from 1978 (posted today) – “Is and Ought The Western World”, for instance, or that same EP’s A-side “Skank Bloc Bologna”, had to be spun repeatedly before their brilliance and sardonic charm sank in (I’ve known “Skank” for probably 25 years now due to its inclusion on the classic Rough Trade anthology “Wanna Buy a Bridge?”, but only after repeated recent listening did I remember enough to have the riff stuck in my head).

What’s generated any recent interest at all in SCRITTI POLITTI – aside from the fact that elements of the band are still performing under that name – is this relatively recent article on them in Perfect Sound Forever, and more importantly, the inclusion of two early tracks (“Is and Ought…” and “Messthetics”) in Chuck Warner’s Hyped2Death label series dubbed, that’s right, Messthetics. Their earliest records – the aforementioned 1978 debut, the two John Peel sessions EPs and the loose and experimental “Four A Sides” EP – are quirkily exotic and complex, like fellow travelers The Homosexuals or Beyond The Implode. There's also a real feel that this is a band who understands the vagueries of creating difficult rock music that transgresses the era and will stand the test of time, a la the SWELL MAPS, who were met with only slightly less critical and more popular acclaim than Scritti Politti in their earliest years. I’ll even put in for their 1981 pure pop single “The Sweetest Girl”, which I remember had the NME and Melody Maker critics raving, and which has some very Roxy Music-like shifts in tone and even some cool hypnotic dub elements, but after that it was clean synths, black female backing vocalists, and several UK chart hits. Actually, I take it back – after an awful 1982 white boy soul 45 called “Faithless”, they bounced back briefly with a loping and clever Jamaican-influnced pop record called “Asylums In Jerusalem” (that I only this week remembered that I had owned in high school in 1982!) before heading the way of their new brethren Spandau Ballet and the Human League and what have you.

That early stuff is worth exploring if you can seek it out, and if you're still interested, check out this "labour" of love from a dedicated fan, who has transcribed and archived every article he/she could find on the band.

Play Scritti Politti, “Is and Ought The Western World”

Monday, June 15, 2009


(Note - this is a re-post from last year. The songs were taken down by the previous hosting provider; thought you might want to scoop them up & read my tale as well)
Like a lot of teenagers, I had my share of angst-filled difficult years. Growing up in San Jose, California during the early 80s, and going to what could ungenerously be called a “burnout junior high school” (see another post I did on this here), there were a couple years there where I felt, um, kind of alone, or at least pretty much divorced from my peers. We’re talking Ages 13, 14, 15 – grades 8, 9, and 10 – and the years 1980-83. Perhaps not coincidentally, these were the years when I threw myself in completely and totally into rock and roll; more specifically, punk, new wave and American/UK post-punk indie music. Whatever it was we called it then, that was what I liked. I bought all the English papers (Melody Maker, NME, Sounds) when I could find them; I took monthly pilgrimages to the amazing record stores of Berkeley, CA; I listened to college radio something like 6-8 hours a day, and I even subscribed to TROUSER PRESS magazine. Once a mag that focused on British bands of the punk/pub rock/hard rock variety, Trouser Press toward the end got very new wave, and was sort of a hybrid American college rock / “Rock of the 80s” magazine toward its end. They had a small piece on Los Angeles "paisley underground" band THE THREE O'CLOCK around 1982 that struck a chord with me, all due to one quote. "We make music for kids who don't have any friends". I hear ya, brothers! I went out and bought their "Baroque Hoedown" EP posthaste, sound unheard (I thought that whole paisley underground thing was the sh*t for about five minutes).

Well, turns out I found some friends soon enough, and as it turns out a lot of that THREE O'CLOCK material was too weak for words, but there were a few numbers that were bouncy, fake-English-accented soda-pop psychedelia. Who doesn't dig their cover of THE EASYBEATS' "Sorry"? Or even their smash alternative nation hit "Jet Fighter"? Once I got to college I learned a little more. Turned out the band actually was a ripping, punk rock version of a psych band called the SALVATION ARMY in their early days, and they actually had released a 45 called "Mind Gardens / Happen Happened" on Mike Watt's New Alliance Records in '81! Son of a bitch! I was just then getting way into all that New Alliance/New Underground/SST stuff, and though it seemed sort of incongruous for me (still does), once I heard it on an LP called "Befour Three O'Clock: Happen Happened", I was floored. What a great 45! Though you might have a good laff at the psych-by-numbers song titles, listen to this record - it's fantastic. Again, from 1981 - band changed their name the next year, and started making music for teenagers without friends from suburban rock-n-roll hesher towns like mine.

Play Salvation Army, "Mind Gardens"

Friday, June 12, 2009


Once you’ve gladly and willingly zapped a few brain cells, it’s not hard to give yourself totally and completely to the utterly destroying riff that underlies this 1990 single from the ACTION SWINGERS. “Bum My Trip” was such a revelation when it came out, hot on the heels of similar releases by bands like Pussy Galore, the Honeymoon Killers, Union Carbide Productions and the like. Totally dumb, totally mindless rawk and roll from a New York-based, revolving-door band who never even touched the limited greatness of this one song, not even on their debut record’s B-side.

The band was essentially vocalist/guitarist Ned Hayden and whomever he could get to play with him. Luckily for him that often included Julia Cafritz and Bob Bert from Pussy Galore, and at other times included J. Mascis, Don Fleming and other leading lights from the scumrock & indierock nexus. I remember a lot of noise and excitement about “Bum My Trip” when it came out, and the 45 definitely made its way to a lot of mix tapes I was mixmastering at the time. I never again heard a track by them that could touch this circuit-blowing powerhouse. Please enjoy it responsibly this weekend.

Play Action Swingers, “Bum My Trip”

Monday, June 08, 2009


My friend JB was really big on going to record swaps and scooping up CD-Rs of Masque-era Los Angeles punk bands a few years ago. As it so happens, this period and scene of music (Los Angeles 1977-82) happens to be about my favorite music ever created anywhere. So naturally when a CD burner came with my then-new computer, I was all over his collection of LA punk stuff like the proverbial white on rice. Back in 2004, on my old blog Agony Shorthand, I reviewed this amazing disc he let me burn that had some SCREAMERS ’78 live stuff (from The Masque, of course) and an incredible set of WEIRDOS rehearsals and/or demos. I’m still a little lukewarm on the Screamers in general, but my rabid enthusiasm for all late 70s WEIRDOS stuff – especially the first two 45s - is unflagging.

Here’s what I had to say about this bootleg back then:

“….Ahh, the Weirdos. Now we’re talking. What a powerhouse. Listening to this helped me realize (again) that in their earliest incarnation, they were easily one of the top 10 punk rock bands ever, right up there with fellow Californians CRIME and THE BAGS, and often surpassed both for sheer wall-to-wall sonic roar. Unlike a Screamers’ performance, which appeared to be more akin to a lecture or an art opening, the Weirdos were all about fun, just letting it rip and maximizing audience enjoyment (and I’ve seen the videos to prove it, and saw the band in 1985 on their first of many reunion showcases). Some of this sounds like the same practice tapes that led to the posthumous bootleg “Ranting in a Rubber Room” double-7”, but I could be wrong – nevertheless, every song is gold. “Message from the Underworld”, “Neutron Bomb”, “Teenage”, “Do The Dance” and this incredible start-stop number (really fast and short) that I don’t know the name of (my research assistant believes it may be called “Scream Baby Scream”). The recordings are raw and unkempt, just the way you like ‘em, but mixed loud and in the red…..”

I thought about sharing them with you, in the interest of being a good musical citizen and all. All song titles are within the .zip file itself. Thanks again to superstar record swapper JB and his golden collection of Masque-era bootlegs.

Download THE WEIRDOS – “REHEARSAL/DEMOS 1977” (this is a .zip file)

Friday, June 05, 2009


I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’m a total full-blown sucker for the large hooks, gum-smacking vocals and general bouncy feel of 1960s girl group music. The trashier and more “teen”-sounding, the better. I have a pretty good digital selection of this stuff, and I don’t post enough of it on this blog. I want each of you to become a fiend for this stuff the way I am – and I suspect that there’s still a few great reissued 60s girl group songs out there. There are so many compilations in the racks, some of dubious origin, and yeah, I’ve bought a lot of them. They almost always contain two or three mindblowers, and 28 boring toss-offs. I’m going to start posting some of the mindblowers for you here.

One of my all-time favorite girl songs is “Please Don’t Talk To The Lifeguard” by DIANE RAY. It first reached my ears on the Boyd Rice-curated "Music For Pussycats" compilation, and I've since found the song on at least two other CD collections - so it's out there if you need it. Or just download it here – but no matter how you come to it, it’s a glorious slice of total teen trash. My other selection today is not quite as buoyant, but arguably as good. I love the mournful “It Hurts To Be Sixteen” by ANDREA CARROLL – the backing rat-a-tang, rat-a-tang, too-tang too-tang really says it all about not growing up fast enough, doesn’t it? Enjoy these tracks – more are coming.

Play Diane Ray, “Please Don’t Talk To The Lifeguard”

Download DIANE RAY – “Please Don’t Talk To The Lifeguard”
Download ANDREA CARROLL – “It Hurts To Be Sixteen”

Thursday, June 04, 2009


(Re-post of this fantastic 1980 UK post-punk masterpiece which has gone criminally unheard)

I have only known the brilliance of this 1980 British punk song for about six years now, having heard this for the first time fairly recently, but damn if “Getting Nowhere Fast” isn’t one of the classic songs of that or any other era. GIRLS AT OUR BEST! have a terrific fan site that is located here; I myself wrote a thing about them in 2003 right about here.

As I said then, “’Getting Nowhere Fast’, from their 1980 debut 45, is one of those face-slapping moments any music obsessive lives for - a fantastic, classic, top-tier rock and roll song that I’d never heard before, at a time when sometimes I snobbishly think I’ve heard everything brilliant this era had to offer. Picture a driving, snotty, femme-voxed cross between “Pretty Vacant” and “Suspect Device”; “Getting Nowhere Fast” is easily as good and catchy as both.....”. Alas, beyond this record’s outstanding Siouxsie and the Banshees-esque B-side “Warm Girls”, the band never duplicated their feats here, but I could play this song on endless repeat for at least a couple of hours – what about you?

Play Girls At Our Best!, "Getting Nowhere Fast"

Download GIRLS AT OUR BEST! – “Getting Nowhere Fast” (A-side of debut 45)
Download GIRLS AT OUR BEST! - "Warm Girls" (B-side)

Tuesday, June 02, 2009


(Note - this is a re-post from a couple years ago)

A few years ago I picked up a book about a late 1980s San Francisco club called THE CHATTERBOX that I used to go to when I was underage. I wrote a piece about it for my old blog Agony Shorthand – check it out by clicking here. The funny thing about it was just how long-past that era seems now. “Long-haired punk”, or glammy, grungy metal/punk, or even speed metal are all totally antiquated forms of rock and roll, but in the Chatterbox era, man that was IT. Those were the bands the Chatterbox made their stock in trade – bands that wore scarves, bands that didn’t bathe, bands that drank way too much, bands with tire tracks on their arms, bands that held up JOHNNY THUNDERS as a patron saint, and even East Coast bands like SLOTH.

I saw SLOTH at the Chatterbox, actually. I had purchased their 45 “Fetch The Wedge/Miss Sleazy Underbelly” on a recommendation alone (this was before Soulseek and mp3 blogs, kids!) and dug it a lot, and they stumbled into town not long after that. I don’t think they wore any scarves – they were more like a bunch of dirty pizza delivery guys with long hair and t-shirts kicking out the motor city jams. Tons of attitude and west coast dissin’, but all in good fun. At least two guitarists – maybe three? Listen to this 45 and you’ll hear THE HEARTBREAKERS, STOOGES, STONES and all the hesher heroes of long-haired punks everywhere. Great record, way OOP as they say.

Play Sloth, "Fetch The Wedge"

Download SLOTH – “Fetch The Wedge” (A-side)
Download SLOTH - "Miss Sleazy Underbelly" (B-side)