Friday, 31 October 2008

Spooky Tunes & Creepy Beats

Halloween's not such a big deal here in Wales.
But I am off to a party in a bit, so maybe things are changing.
Not yet the North American alternative to the Mexican Day of the Dead festival; but I'm sure we'll get there.

And here is a wonderful collection of spooky beats that will go down well at any spooky gathering: Allhallows' Even or not.

Now deleted, this album really came about due to a renewed interest back in the late nineties of Jesse Franco's movies and in particular the way the soundtrack to Vampyros Lesbos was being used by many DJs as part of their sets (a wonderful piece of lounge/mondo jazz created by Hubler and Schwab back in 1968 - very available across the net: seek it out it's well worth it).

So this is not a soundtrack album, neither is it a remix of the original movie's soundtrack; but it's an album that was inspired by the movie and its original soundtrack.
With the likes of Rockers Hi Fi; Dr.s Rockit (no relation) & Israel; DJs Wally & Hell; and the wonderfully monikered Witchman, here are some fantastic variations and subversions of the original tunes all accompanied by downbeat, trip-hop and jungle beats mixed up with new grooves and original movie samples - including some wicked screams that create some really neat crescendos.
The album is dedicated to the memory of Soledad Miranda, who was Franco's muse.
She died in a car crash in 1970, not long after the release of this now cult movie, apparently en route to meet Franco about discussing a contract for a new series of films they were to make together.
With that in mind, this is a great album to drive to...
It certainly keeps me awake on those long motorway drives; the beats meet the white lines perfectly, and those screams make sure you don't find those lines too mesmerizing or hypnotic.

Various Artists - The Spirit of Vampyros Lesbos (1997)

Minus 8 - Spirit of Vampyros Lesbos
Higher Than God - Stroemberg
Rockers Hi Fi - The Lions and the Cucumber (bigga bush's Transylvania boogie mix)
Dr. Israel - Vampya Killa
Dr. Rockit - The Lion and the Cucumber (the doctor and the rockit remix)
Project Pollen - Frauleinsuppe
DJ Wally - Necromix
Witchman - Les Boss Electros (return of the big man)
Cristian Vogel - People's Playground (Soledad Mix)
DJ Hell - Nadine De Uskudar
Two Lone Swordsmen - Morpha
De Chico - Future Fruit
Alec Empire - The 6 Wisdoms of Aspasia

Get this collection of creepy beats here, includes CD artwork.
So whatever you do this Halloween: have a good one!
And for those real freaks out there: Happy Samhain!

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Gone All Technical

Thought I'd bring this little theme I seem to have accidentally created for myself to an end - I like to do things in threes - with a note (or two) from Doctor Technical himself.

For some reason this album didn't get an independent CD release, but was released as a back to back CD along with his first solo album Earthed to the Ground.
So if you'd bought Earthed to the Ground on CD you may have been put off from buying the double package; which is a shame, as I think The Agents of Chaos is the better of the two albums.

Brock, always a cynic of modernity and its consequential apathy, always scratched beneath the surface; often beyond the confines of our own societies and our own race.

His cynicism often manifests in tales of future dystopic warnings; void-like soundscapes that bring to mind Roger Dean topographies; or sci-fi inspired noodlings creating everything from airy-interstellar ambient sounds to sounds capturing the moment one is sucked through a black hole!

If Calvert was Philp K Dick, Brock was more Ray Bradbury; but with a big chunk of JG Ballard thrown in; and that's what makes him interesting.

Brock's cynicism prevented him from appearing on television.

(Recently omitted from the excellent BBC documentary about Hawkwind, in which the BBC stated that the reason Brock wouldn't take part was because Nik Turner was taking part! Suggesting a kind of hair-pulling, handbags at dawn problem between the two. There may well be a problem between the two space cadets, but that's not the reason he refused to take part - but it makes for a better narrative in the documentary! Especially when the real reason is that Brock believes television is for squares and dead heads.)

So his hatred of the medium allowed Bob Calvert back in the Quark, Strangeness and Charm days, to front the band when they were asked to appear on Marc Bolan's kids' TV show Marc.
Brock refused to be part of their mimed performance; not wishing his cover to be blown.

Just to compliment that wonderful piece of footage (Crikey, those were the days: this was mainstream weekday kids' TV!), here's a much better version performed by Inner City Unit with Calvert as a guest vocalist, captured at good ol' Dingwalls in Camden Town - boy, do I remember those pillars.
Wonderful stuff this:

However, back to the matter at hand.
Never one who wanted to grab the limelight, it's kind of understandable why it took Brock so long to release any solo albums.
I guess technology helped.
And from the very early eighties, Brock was spending more and more time on stage fiddling with Korgs and Rolands, adding enormously to Hawkwind's spacy sound and atmosphere, but the sound was beginning to head in a different direction.
Church of Hawkwind probably best captures that change, and in many ways The Agents of Chaos album kind of carries on in that mode.

There is a very heavy keyboard presence on many of the songs, synthetic beats are also used; but of course no Dave Brock album would really be a Dave Brock album without those pounding Westone guitar chords and that folksy, bluesy, ever-so-English voice of his.

Dave Brock - The Agents of Chaos (1987)

Hi-Tech Cities
A Day
In the Office
Hades Deep
Words of a Song
Wastelands of Sleep
Into the Realms
Mountain in the Sky

Vinyl rip @256 kbs.
Get it here

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Living in the Future

If Philip K Dick had made records this is what they would have sounded like.

This has to be one of the most paranoid (but preternatural with much of it, like all good sci-fi) albums ever made.

And despite the obvious link to the previous post, this is the absolute antithesis to the music Nik Turner went on to make when he left Hawkwind.

This was Robert Calvert's last proper album (1986), and the minimalist and pared down keyboard, synthetic beats and clipped guitar sounds that he uses to accompany his words only add to its bleak, dystopic poignancy.

From the opening words:

'I was kept in deep freeze
And allowed to grow'

the listener is aware they are in the presence of a master metaphysician; but one with an awful lot on his mind.

Test-tube conception, vivisection, surveillance (on and off line), medical and bio-ethics, eugenics and insanity are all topics Calvert examines and shares with the listener on this album.

I say share intentionally, for as with much great poetry (and Bob Calvert was a poet), the narrative voice possesses your mind, it virally infects and infiltrates your 'own' thoughts.
We share and hear his voices - for voices he had - but perhaps they're not really that dissimilar to the voices we all have in our heads.

The album ends where it began, with a different version of the opening song.
So the circle is complete: and it all goes round and round...

But this time the song has a heavier vibe and the delivery is more embittered and angry - no longer the passive, will-less victim, but now a rebel, a fighter: the fighter pilot he apparently always wanted to be, perhaps.

I was fortunate enough to see Bob Calvert perform with his band the Starfighters several times when he made a comeback in the mid-eighties on the back of this album.
He would often play a noise generator oscillator type thing; and boy was he manic with it; the sounds he used to create from this thing would send you spinning round the venue, whipping you from one side of the joint to the other; and he would do this while maintaining the most manic of expressions, as if these sounds were emanating from his very troubled being.

I'd gone to see the band one night at The Jolly Boatman, an old boathouse that had been converted into a music venue perched on the edge of the Thames in Kingston, London, and found myself standing at a urinal, as you do, when Bob came alongside to use my urinal's neighbour.
Now it's difficult enough to talk to another guy who's pissing alongside you while you're pissing alongside him, right.
But here was Bob. Fully donned in leather flying cap (one of those old World War 2 things with the ear flaps), goggles that covered pretty much three quarters of his face, brown leather flying jacket with a big sheepskin collar, white silk scarf, a pair of those flying trousers that have sticky-out hoops on either side of the thighs and knee high brown leather riding boots.
So I didn't get to talk to him.

I still regret that.
Because that was one of his last gigs; a couple of weeks later news was announced of his death from a heart attack at his home in Ramsgate, England.
He was forty-three years old.

Much of Bob's music has been re-released on CD, so if you like this or find it interesting do go and check out his other albums.
And certainly acquire a copy of Captain Lockheed and the Starfighters, as it is truly essential; and considered by many (myself included) to be the greatest Hawkwind album they never made.

Robert Calvert - Test-Tube Conceived

In Vitro Breed
The Rah Rah Man
I Hear Voices
Fanfare for the Perfect Race
On line
Save Them From the Scientists
Fly on the Wall
Thanks to the Scientists
Test-Tube Conceived

This is a cassette rip of excellent quality @256 kbs.
I have let a couple of tracks run into each other as the segues are too vital to break.
You'll get the picture.
And you can get it here

Saturday, 25 October 2008

Of Local Interest

I went to see Nik Turner and his band last night.
Nik is our local underground music celebrity.
Mind you, Hawkwind had so many pass through their ranks, you may well have your very own local ex-Hawkwind underground music celebrity living in your neighbourhood.
But Nik's great. He's been doing it for a bloody long time; and he's still damn good at what he does.

From Hawkind (psychedelic rock) to Inner City Unit (arty post-punk), from Inner City Unit back to Hawkwind, from Hawkwind to Nik Turner's Fabulous All Stars (thug jazz/R&B dance band), from the All Stars back to Hawkwind, from Hawkwind back to the All Stars, from the All Stars to Galaktikos (back to psychedelic rock) to the Nik Turner Band (back to thug jazz & R&B with a funky twist), which is what I experienced last night.

The original Fabulous All Stars, formed in 1987, featured two saxophones, bass, Hammond Organ and drums.
The incarnation that Nik has up and running at the moment, has himself on sax and flute, accompanied by guitar, bass and drums; and the more pared down sound creates a raw, but dancy sound.

The slap-happy six-string bass player certainly added to the upbeat groove, but the counterpointing Nik used to create before with the other sax and the Hammond Organ has now been replaced with some excellent synchronous playing between his sax notes and the guitar.
In other words they were often playing the same notes at the same time.
And I thought that gave it a kind of Mothers' sound; which is no bad thing in my opinion, as the Mothers' sound was one of the greatest sounds ever created.

So Cheers Nik.
And, Nice one Dave! Good gig.

So I've managed to come up with something from back in the day, 1987 in fact, when Nik Turner first started touring with his then new band The Fabulous All Stars.

And this is a nice bit of history.
A bootleg soundboard recording from the Sir George Robey Pub in Finsbury Park, North London, on a Club Dog night.

History, because as Nik was telling me last night, the pub is no more (another wonderful independent music venue gone from London's ever decreasing, and now, ever so corporate music scene); and history, because it captures Nik Turner's new direction right at the beginning.

So I've retained much of the audience ambiance on this recording; because the Club Dog audience were a very special audience indeed.

At that time the Robey became the centre of the London underground scene. As well as Nik, I saw bands such as Gaye Bykers on Acid, African Headcharge, Daevid Allen (with and without Gong), Tony McPhee, Loop Guru and loads of other bands I was just too wasted to remember.

But Nik was always a firm favourite.
And everybody would always get on down; and much jigging, sweating and rubbing of bodies would occur.

It was always interesting to see those with Mohawks mix with Skinheads, Angels, Crusties, Hippies, Rastas and Cheesy Quavers all dancing together to tunes such as 'Sidewinder', 'So What' and 'That Mellow Saxophone'.

Unfortunately, the bootleg ends rather abruptly, so we don't get to hear Nik's ever crowd-pleasing version of Glen Miller's 'In the Mood'.
It has many restarts, and each one plays the melody faster and faster until everyone literally falls down in a big heap.
Everyone except Nik that is, he's the only one still standing; and I've got the feeling that as long as there's one person to answer back to his frequent refrain: 'Do you want some more?' Then Nik Turner will probably go on standing forver.
Good on ya, Kadu Flyer: may your Kadu keep you aloft for a long time to come.

If you are interested in Nik's music, some of Inner City Unit's music is still available; check out his official site; his myspace page; or if there is any interest expressed here, I MIGHT, MIGHT just be able to get a more up to date soundboard recording to post...

Nik Turner's Fabulous All Stars - Live Soundboard Recording (1987)
Cassette rip @ 256kbs.

Please be aware, this is a soundboard recording from a North London pub back in the eighties.
Don't get me wrong, this is perfectly listenable to (I'd give it a B+ for sound quality), but Gus Dudgeon it ain't.

But if you, like me, believe that quality of music is greater than quality of sound, then you, like me, really don't give a shit.
Enjoy; and get it here

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

'Now you just drop them damn pants...'

Yiiiiii-Haaaaaaaaaaaaah! Hang ‘em High!
And why not.

And once you’ve got over the ‘wu-uh-uh, wu-uh-uhs’ and ‘This vibrator’s my baby’ from 85, by 1990 RevCo had really gone to town; or should I say, gone to Texas.

You may well know the track from the album of the same name; but the 'Take ‘Em Right Off Mix', a lesser heard version, is without doubt the most spectacular.
It’s certainly a lot faster; chanted more than sung; and includes the great dueling banjos’ riff interjecting the chorus.
Didalee-dee dee-dee dee-dee dee.

All good stuff; and a firm reminder that perhaps it’s not a good idea to go off on that canoing trip with Burt Reynolds.

On the flipside are two live tracks: an excellent version of 'Stainless Steel Providers' followed by, well, it almost sounds as if they're not quite sure what to do, as they have several false starts; including the opening bars from Led Zeppelin's 'Over the Hills and Far Away'.
Well, it was recorded in Texas.
But they settle on a version of 'Public Image'! With an industrial twist, of course.

Personally I was rather disappointed with the Beers, Steers & Queers album.
But this release made up for it, big time.

RevCo's lineup by this time had altered several times.
Credited on this release are Luc Van Acker, Chris Connelly, Alien Jourgensen [sic], Paul Barker, William Rieflin and Phildo Owen.
With 'Additional Cocks': Michael Balch, Jeff Ward, Trent Reznor, Mark Durante, Mike Scaccia, Martin Atkins, Terry Roberts, William Tucker, Chris Chambers, Billy Jackson, Keith Dailey, Lance Boyle, Ralph E and Joe Kelly.

I have no idea what they all did; but it seems like an awful lot of cock-play.

And who are those guys who appear on all their covers?

Revolting Cocks - Beers, Steers & Queers - Remixes (1990)

Beers, Steers & Queers - Drop Your Britches Mix
Beers, Steers & Queers - Take 'Em Right Off Mix
Stainless Steel Providers (Live)
Public Image (Live)

Vinyl rip @ 256kbs
Grab it here
Don't forget to squeal now: SQUEAL...!

Monday, 20 October 2008

Ministerial Conception

Their first, and dare I say it: their best!
This is the original Vinyl release.
It has been re-released on CD, but boy, it could be a completely different album!

All the way back in 1985, along with artists such as Foetus, this is really where industrial dance music begins to rear its angry, noisy head.

Ministry had already released their dour album With Sympathy, and it was perhaps due to that album receiving such a poor reception that made Al Jourgensen change his musical direction and sound.

So RevCo began as a side-project for a frustrated Jourgensen, and along with Richard 23 (Front 242), Bill Rieflin and Luc Van Acker (both jobbing musicians) a new interesting sound was developed, and with this album they made themselves very noticeable indeed.

(The band was a very multi-cultural affair; including a half-Cuban half- Norwegian, two Belgians and a North American!)

The album begins with '38': a stonking beat greets the ear, and instantly one strives to turn the volume up - this is a great album to drive to; motorways or city driving especially.

Immediately the mood is set; the rhythm section forming the tightest of industrial beats; overlayed by Jourgensen's sinister whisperings concerning his 38. This is juxtaposed alongside sampled news bulletins about a disaster occurring where the death toll is '38, 38, 38'.

So it's a bit like Paul Hardcastle's '19', only twice as good (sorry couldn't resist that one!).

Throughout the album the textures are quite thin; and the mutilayering that occurred later on in Jourgensen's career (I'm thinking of Ministry albums such as Land of Rape and Honey & The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste; and even other projects he was associated with, such as Lard)
have yet to manifest.

'No Devotion' is a classic example of this, and in some ways is not that far away from, dare I say it, chill or ambient music; similar to sounds outfits such as the Orb or Invaders of the Heart were creating in the late eighties and early nineties.
It's still industrial, but the factory is on a go slow; if you get my drift...

I guess the real hardcore sound didn't really occur until The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste, and what makes this album seem lighter in its production is the lack of the metal guitar; here the bass is more prominent, creating a more dancy feel.
But this album certainly realizes the darkness and morbid elements that became so much a part of Ministry's and Jourgensen's sound and image.

The references to Union Carbide, lest we forget, refer to the North American chemical company that was responsible for killing an estimated twenty-thousand people during a leak at their plant in Bhopal, India, in 1984.

I can still remember the images shown on TV at the time.
Kids with their eyes burned out; those unable to breathe due to their lungs being scorched by noxious chemicals that were used in the manufacturing of pesticides.
Well, that's what happens when you build a chemical plant in the middle of a town; strange that it was a town so far away from their own plants back in the USA.
But that's just one of those things, I guess.

The title track for me is the most interesting, as you can really hear the studio and the new technologies of the time becoming integral to the creation of the industrial sound: lots of programming, layering and sampling; which when you think about it was fairly progressive for 1985.

Revolting Cocks - Big Sexy Land

We Shall Cleanse the World
Attack Ships on Fire
Big Sexy Land
Union Carbide (West Virginia Version)
TV Mind
No Devotion
Union Carbide (Bhopal Version)

Vinyl rip @256kbs
Get it here

Friday, 17 October 2008

Herbaliser: my favourite Blend

Ooh, I do like a good Ninja Tune.
And boy, is this a good Ninja Tune.

In my opinion, Ninja Tunes Records from London are one of the best electro/breakbeat/jazz/hip-hop/trip hop/downbeat labels in existence.
(They've been around seventeen years now! Damn, that makes me feel old.)
And The Herbaliser has always been one of the best acts on their roster.

Jake Wherry & Ollie Teeba (The Herbaliser) soon joined up with Matt Black & Jonathan Moore (Coldcut), the instigators of the label, and soon became one of Ninja's most dynamic acts.

Collaborating with the likes of Roots Manuva, Blade, Dream Warriors, DJ Food and What? What? (aka: Jean Grae, the New York rapper, who appears as guest vocalist on this little gem; bringing some East-Coast groove to The Herbaliser's dark trip hop beats), The Herbaliser soon gained a reputation of excellence, and their album Blow Your Headphones from 1997, was innovative in ways that would change the way trip hop and British hip hop music would sound in the future; by bringing a great deal of downbeat and jazz vibes to their sound.

This e.p. comes from the same period as that release, but the remixes of the track 'The Blend' are quite superb.
Jean Grae's lyrics and delivery are subtle enough to sit nicely within The Herbaliser's downbeat sound.
And as for the extra track: 'Mrs Chombee Takes The Plunge': wow, what a tune!
Trip hop never sounded so good. Dark and ever so slightly menacing, the track builds and builds creating the most curious of ambient moods.
Chill, it ain't; but it is very, very cool.

Original Ninja Press Release:
'Mr Tall and Mr Small creep out of 'nam and jump up behind you to hit you with more of those Herbalised Akai dinners. Having travelled across Europe, carpet bagging their Remedies, they came back to southwest London. Hanging up their trainers and fighting the playstation for the dark winter months, they called the TrainTrax their home. Now the dashing duo, with international entourage, don their hoodies and once again serve up a musical smoothie. The cinematic overtures, laced with beats, scratches and a blend of jazz create a herbal brew to spin any openmind. Jetpacking it across the Atlantic, What? What? shows you how it's done and wraps up the 212 the 718 & the 516 flavour.
The Blend blended by Peanut Butter Wolf, Jonny Cuba and The Herbaliser. Mr Chombee chomped by DJ Food. '

The Herbaliser - The Blend (1997)

Original Blend
Herbal Blend
Mrs Chombee Takes the Plunge
Cuban Blend
Peanut Butter Blend

MPEG-4 files, with CD artwork.
Get it here

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Did YOU Ken John Peel?

I went to see publisher, now poet, Felix Dennis perform a poetry set in Cardiff last night.
And most enjoyable it was too, with a good time had by all (except for the drunken punk who looked like the original bass player from Queens of the Stone Age, and his equally drunken girlfriend, who were evicted

although they may well have had a good time - in their own little way).

Dennis made his name back in the sixties, as a co-editor of OZ Magazine.
He along with his co-conspirators were indicted under the Obscene Publications Act, and were tried at the Old Bailey Court in Central London - all three of the accused attended court in drag; this didn't go down too well, and they ended up being imprisoned.

They were acquitted on appeal, but in prison long enough to have had their hippy locks shawn - the state always has to have the last word, right!

During the trial, the accused found themselves being supported by many, including John and Yoko, who went on to record a song about the proceedings: 'Do the Oz'.

Marty Feldman, Caroline Coon, George Melly, Edward De Bono and John Peel all spoke up on behalf of the accused in court, as well as defending the right to freedom of expression and freedom of speech.

But the judge failed to find their arguments convincing, and nothing could remove the horror he had experienced from seeing a cartoon depiction of Rupert the Bear with an erection. He had to send them down.

Dennis has moved on somewhat since that time, and there is no way I am going to give his full autobiography here; as very full it is. But it is fascinating, and well worth checking out. So here's a link.

As for the poetry. Well, it's decent enough.

As a performer, he's very charismatic and very confident.

He did at times become a little too whimsical for me, but he mixed it up with some serious verse.

One poem about Eva Braun's suicide was particularly moving; juxtaposed with a projected montage of images of her frozen smiling corpse alongside other stills from the bunker.
Pretty deep stuff.

Especially when it follows a poem about his old border collie!

Undoubtedly his most entertaining verse were those poems that dealt with popular culture; whether it was harking back to the sixties or responding to the hear and now.

And he's done a bit of an Angela Carter, but rather than updating classic fairy tales as she did, he's chosen to breathe a bit of vitriolic breath into nursery rhymes.

The illustrations accompanying this post are taken from his book: Nursery Rhymes for Modern Times; and in a William Blake like fashion, by looking at the pictures you can get a pretty good idea as to his poetic voice and subject matter.

The illustrators are Bill Sanderson & Sebastian Kruger.

I thought I would share with you a poem of his about a man that I am sure is still close to many people's hearts, that being the British Broadcaster (he was more than a DJ) John Peel.

If you know nothing about John Peel: well, shame on you.
But in essence, he, pretty much alone, brought alternative and minority music to millions, and he did this, via the BBC from 1967 until his unexpected demise in 2004 (he was sixty-five years old).

During his life he reached out to many in need of finding out about new music; and his shows reached alternantive and underground music fans through all the decades he worked.
From hippys to glam fans, from reggae to punk, from new wave to no wave, from nose-bleed techno to 1930's jazz: John had it covered; and not only could he blow your mind with his strange juxtapositions; but he had a sixth-sense for knowing what was going to be the next big cross-over act (The Faces, T Rex, The Pistols, the Undertones, Nirvana, Cornershop, The White Stripes, the list could go on).

Anyway, here is Felix Dennis's homage to John Peel.
I have included the words here, but it is well worth downloading (it's less than 2 mb as a straight Mpeg4 - take you seconds!), as you hear Dennis introduce the poem and then it is sung by a rather dissonant young choir to a lone piano, to the tune of the traditional 'Do you Ken John Peel' about the eighteenth-century huntsmen.
(I realize I'm not really doing it justice in my description; but honestly, it is very good; and if you were a fan of John Peel (the broadcaster, not the huntsmen), then it is an interesting curio.)So, just something brief for now.
Grab it here

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Floppy Boot Stump

When Stump sprang to life in the mid-eighties, they came like a breath of fresh air.
And for a while they were one of the best kept secrets of the London underground scene.
So I was able to see them in intimate venues such as the Marquee Club and Dingwalls.

An awful lot of mid-eighties' music was all very nihilistic and full of doom and gloom. The mainstream scene had gone back to its pre-punk state, and it was as if the late seventies hadn't really happened.

Everybody was feeling oppressed by Thatcher's regime; now post-Falklands and reveling in the destruction of the mining industry (which was pretty much the death knell of Trade Unionism in the U.K.) and brimming with the kind of nationalist pride and arrogance that many of my contemporaries found repugnant and alienating.

And then came Stump!
A band full of subversive joy and colour

Their sound was quirky, funny, intelligent and masterfully performed.
Beefheartesque in its syncopation, but so, so tight. And rather than a Howling Wolf style growl coming at you, Mick Lynch's delivery was more reminiscent of Andy Partridge after a mega-shot of vitamins.

They became a cult over night. And more and more people were turning up at the gigs; many of them adopting a clone-like appearance of Lynch (he sported a natty hair horn, rather in the manner of TinTin) and emulating his every jerky St.Vitus-like movement; which I must say is really the only way to respond to Stump's music.

And then they appeared on national television, via Channel 4's cult music show The Tube.
And damn. The whole world found out about them

So, the secret was out, no more intimate gigs; now selling out 2,000 plus venues.

You can read all about the band's rise to fame and their rapid disintegration on Kev Hopper's (bass player) excellent site.
He has also made all of his own music available for free there.
So go there and check it out.

But in a nutshell, what happened to Stump was what happened to so many bands.
They put out their music, usually on a small indie, or in Stump's case their own label, Stuff;
they gain attention, a major takes an interest (Chrysalis, in this case), they lure the band in with a contract, take control, and it then all goes down the pan.

But anyway, Stump in the early days were a magnificent band; and they certainly brought me a whole load of pleasure.

Quirk Out is without doubt their finest product.
It really captures the dynamism and peculiarities associated with their soft, elastic, bendy kind of sound; often instigated by Hopper's seguing, fluid bass notes (apparently he was a big fan of Percy Jones who played with Brand X and occasionally with Eno).

Juxtaposed with Chris Salmon's angular, dissonant, metallic guitar and McKahey's intricate drum patterns their sound was both immediate and novel.

But they could also do hum-along tunes, and the deferential homage to their roots: 'Our Fathers', has a a wonderful melodic drive, yet still retaining a quirkiness.
They were never a pop band. And that is what Chrysalis failed to recognize.

The most challenging piece on the mini-album is 'Big Part Actor'. A choppy and belligerent chant, accompanied by the most angry of slide guitar screeches; reminding me a little of Beefheart's later Magic Band Virgin period, with albums such as Doc at the Radar Station and Ice Cream for Crow.

Along with Quirk Out I have included their 12" release 'Chaos'.
This was taken from the only album they made with Chrysalis, A Fierce Pancake, and was one of the best tracks on the album; but the difference and mediation of their style is readily apparent; their sound far more tamed and watered-down.

I have really included it for its original flip side.
'Ice the Levant' is one of their very early songs, and again is a fine return to form.

The final track is a neat bit of musique concrète, entitled 'Safe Sex'; something that was on the mind of many back in the late eighties.
(Interestingly enough, for those that are interested in such things, Stump dedicated their album to Wilhelm Reich!)

Similar in construction to Roger Waters' 'Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave and Grooving with a Pict', 'Safe Sex' with its rapid montage of squirts, breaths, groans, squelches and beats is quite mindblowing.

Makes my dogs go ape.

Play it on your cans: ooh it makes you spin...

Sanctuary Records have recently released a Stump Anthology, including the excellent sessions they did for John Peel (Peace be Upon Him).
So, if you like this, or find it interesting, go out and buy it.

Stump - Quirk Out (1986)

Tupperware Stripper
Our Fathers
Kitchen Table
Everything in its Place
Big Part Actor

Stump - Chaos 12" (1988)

Ice the Levant
Safe Sex

Both ripped from vinyl @256kbs
O, and if anyone was wondering, the quality of this rip is excellent: very little surface noise.
So, go get them both here.

Cream Corn Surfing

I know, I know.
Butt hey, it is the best of the bunch. And I'm really posting this for its wonderful cover art.
And together with this U.K. cover; this is the perfect package.

I'm not sure how available this was elsewhere, butt in Britain it is one of the more sought after pieces of Surfers' vinyl.

And what a cover!
Who she is; I have no idea. Butt who cares!
She is wonderful; and I'm glad to own a little piece of her.

So much better than the U.S. package:

Leary chose this image while looking through some photos at his dealer's house. Apparently.

As for the story behind the alternative U.K. cover; well I don't know it, but if anyone does know anything...

I mean, if it is your Nan or something...
Recorded after the band had put Rembrandt Pussyhorse together in 1985, Cream Corn from the Socket of Davis was quickly assembled and released due to their album being held up by legal problems; something that dogged the band throughout their career.

Well, we can't all be Sting, right.

'To Parter' is one of the greatest Surfers' songs ever recorded. Leary's picking is superb and tight, butt still managing to retain the Surfers' spontaneous spirit.

The title really comes from the fact that it is two tracks, the first an instrumental, somewhat reminiscent of the Magic Band on a good day; and the second a warped kind of sea shanty with Haynes performing some of his greatest lyrics:

'And all the sailors who were junkies
All went sailing out to sea,
And the white man sold quaaludes to the monkeys,
And they all died high up in the trees

And all the teachers who were flunkies
They all taught you and me,
And the white men, I'll be goddamned if they're
still selling quaaludes to the monkeys,
And they're all you and me dying high up in the trees'

I once heard 'Moving to Florida' described as the most annoying piece of music ever recorded.
It is obviously intentionally humorous. Butt the speaker did have a point.
Haynes does start to become infuriating, so much so its as if the rest of the band lose patience with him, and just decide to play over the top of his insistent 'Seasick Steve' kind of ramblings (see I can be topical!).

'Comb' begins with animal sounds created by a feed-backing guitar, juxtaposed with Haynes retching (he liked to include a barf, 'Lady Sniff' from Psychic... Powerless... Another Man's Sac features the sound of a right good chuck hitting the toilet pan); he then seems to go on and rant about Lou Reed, through the medium of Gibbytronix, of course.

'Tornadoes' is aptly titled as it delineates in sound just that: a tornado.
Butt it's a kind of psychobilly tornado... predicting a sound they would go on to explore on in their 88 release Hairway to Steven.

I think this is one of their best packages; not as bombastic or as shambolic as their first e.p. butt actually proving that as a band they were a pretty hot outfit, and a world away from any of the material they would go on to release post-88.

This e.p. was really the beginning of the end.

Butthole Surfers - Cream Corn from the Socket of Davis (1985)

Moving to Florida
To Parter

Ripped from vinyl @ 256kbs

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Monday, 6 October 2008

Full Fat To Go

This may well be available elsewhere out there in Blog-Land, which does kind of go against my own manifesto for this site.
But as it is one of my all time favourite pieces of post-punk music, my blog would not really be 'mine' if omitted.

And who knows! I may be able to introduce this wonderful recording to those who may have never encountered it.
Coz if you haven't, and you like post-punk, post-hardcore, industrial or sludge, then boy, do you need this in your life.

Undoubtedly the greatest of all Jello Biafra's collaborative projects - and he's collaborated with many - the delivery, lyrics and music create such a wonderfully compatible mix, the band is akin to that old couple who still walk hand in hand down the street: sublime soul-mates; the manifestation of a perfect marriage.

If it were any other genre, this band would be considered a Supergroup. All the members were associated with outfits considered to be by many the best in their class: the Dead Kennedys, Ministry, Revolting Cocks, 1,000 Homo DJs, Nine Inch Nails, and that's without mentioning the dozens of other side-projects and collaborations each of the members were and still are associated with.

And the expectancy and apprehension associated with this fusion of greats definitely lived up to all expectations.
Not only do we hear Biafra's superbly savage and satirical witticisms totally enhanced by the brilliance of the music; but the e.p. moves from hardcore/industrial ('The Power of Lard'), to thugish post-punk ('Hellfudge'), into what I believe is the conception and birth of Sludge metal ('Time to Melt').

'The Power of Lard' is both rousing and anthemic. A call to arms for those who find the clinging, turgid, stodgy mentality of bourgeois mainstream life comparable to atherosclerosis or coronary heart disease.

'The Power of Lard' is Asprin for the ears. Warfarin in sound.
Statins for the soul!

Play it very, very loud. You'll get it.

'Hellfudge' is a return to one of Biafra's favourite targets: hypocrisy and corruption associated with evangelical Christianity, especially the television version.

The song could be seen as an attack on one preacher in particular; that being Jimmy Swaggart; and although not mentioned in the track, the sex scandal at the heart of the song; the line 'All rock music is pornography', which is a direct quote from Swaggart; and the final clue, just in case you're not convinced comes with the lines:

'There's a whole Lotta Shakin' goin' on in here
But don't tell my cousin OK?
Great Balls o' Fire'.

And if you haven't made the connection yet, Jimmy Swaggart was indeed first cousin of 'The Killer', or to quote the man himself, and I always love a bit of tmesis: 'Jerry Lee Motherfucking Lewis'.

What appears on the flip side is something entirely different.
Not something that one can easily attribute to the Kennedys, Ministry or Rev' Co'.

None of those bands had previously been associated with anything quite like 'Time to Melt'; a thirty-one minute grinding piece of sludge metal, which as stated earlier: I really do believe is a track that is the first of its kind; a track that inspired and gave birth to a whole new genre.

I know the Melvins (and possibly a few other U.S. bands that could be mentioned) were around and active at this time (The Power of Lard was released in 89), but nobody else was sounding as sludgy and dirty as this; and certainly not for thirty-one minutes.
And check out some of that dissonant feedback Jourgensen creates as the track progresses.
It sounds like an encroaching army of chattering demonic insects.

Reading through the lyrics of 'Time to Melt' now, also reminds me that there's nothing original to be found within the lyrics of the new waves of emo and screamo bands.
Biafra's words could readily be used in any number of band's 'new releases'.

Except one may become very aware of a sudden change in quality, right?

Lard - The Power of Lard (1989)

The Power of Lard
Time to Melt

Ripped from vinyl @ 256kbs

This product is totally endorsed by me.
So if you ain't got it:
get it here

It'll change your life forever, and hey, it never did me no harm.