Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Radical Unknowns

Of all the Anarcho-Marxist-post-punk-ska-dub bands who were around at the tail end of the eighties into the nineties, RDF were perhaps the most interesting.

Mark Astronaut (The Astronauts) was undoubtedly the wordsmith of the alternative generation. Lyrically he was unsurpassed, he could always nail it, delineate it perfectly, in the most brilliantly savage and naked way possible.
But RDF ruled when it came to structuring their songs, and Chris Bowsher was never afraid to move away from gritty, socio-realist lyrics into more expressionist and figurative territory.
His imagery left its mark; abstraction often reveals a greater sense of truth.

The heavy dub and bass sodden sound that accompanies much of his downbeat delivery makes for the perfect marriage; and like any good marriage moves from the calm to the tempestuous in a moment; in the most unpredictable fashion.

They may not have been as big as The Poison Girls or Jah Wobble's Invaders of the Heart, and they certainly didn't sell as many records; but for those of us who were around at the time, we all knew; we appreciated Radical Dance Faction; it was our little secret.

I'm afraid I've let my anorak slip on this one; and whereas I am normally very fussy about detail, the track titles for this selection are unavailable.
I know, very slovenly on my part, but it's somehow indicative of that early nineties period...

'Tension Town' is the only track that is repeated from my earlier RDF post, but this version is much expanded, with a long dubby outro (O, whatever happened to the long dubby outro?).
The tracks come from two vinyl albums (Hot on the Wire and Borderline Cases, I think...); and if there is any real RDF aficionados out there who want to share their knowledge and give us the titles then they will receive much kudos.
O yes!

RDF - 17 tracks - eighty-five minutes worth.
Decent cassette rip @320kbs
Radicalize here

Wednesday, 21 July 2010


For anyone interested in the further adventures of Dick Lucas, here's what I think is his best post-Culture Shock album to date; an album he made in 1991 with the band Citizen Fish: Wider Than a Postcard.

In some ways Dick returned to his roots with Citizen Fish, with echoes of The Subhumans in the band's sound and songs. But Dick could never veer too far away from the ska sound Culture Shock had developed, so Citizen Fish ended up sounding like a fusion between Dick's previous two bands - with a dash of Radical Dance Faction thrown in for good measure.

(Citizen Fish and RDF often featured on the same billing, and RDF's sound certainly rubbed off; the stretched out, dubby 'Smells Like Home' that closes Wider Than a Postcard is just so RDF [no bad thing in my opinion].)

But essentially Dick had got harder [!] his politics and his scorn were even more vitriolic.
The songs became heavier and the lyrics became discourse.

And whereas Culture Shock were always a dance band who did politics: Citizen Fish were a political band who did dance.
The audience tended to sit down when Citizen Fish played.

But you know how it is.
Anarchists never dance. Right!

Citizen Fish - Wider Than a Postcard (1991)

Sink or Swim
Language Barrier
Same Old 'Starving Millions'
Conditional Silence
Big Big house
Mind Bomb
Chili Pain
Give Me Beethoven
Talk It Over
Central Nervous System
Traffic Lights
Smells Like Home

Decent vinyl rip @320kbs
Fishy tales here

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Sign o' the Times

Time was everything in the eighties.
Time was money.

But the times, like the decade, were a changing.
Time was running out.
No longer on our side.

Time for change.

Time was up for Culture Shock, too.
Time to call it a day.

But still time enough to end with a flourish.
Time enough to go out with a bang.

(Dick never whimpered.)

But time is an endless song.
Time is the muse; and the muse is always the times.

Time, gentlemen, please!

Time's up.
Time to go.

Culture Shock - All the Time (1989)

Twenty Questions
Upside Down
The Time it Takes
Four Minutes
Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland Dub

Excellent vinyl rip @320kbs
Travel through time here

One of the most commonly used nouns in the English language.

Monday, 5 July 2010

Killer Ween

To finish up my brief foray into the wonderful world of Ween, I've saved the best till last.

In 2008 Ween released a live album capturing a concert from 1992, entitled At The Cat's Cradle.
They did this in response to the previous live release Paintin' The Town Brown, put out by Elektra Records during Ween's association with the label.
An album apparently Ween were never happy with; not truly capturing the essence of their live shows during their early days - Elektra deciding to release songs mainly performed with a band touched up with a large dose of production, rather than raw recordings made by Ween as a duo, which is how the majority of their early shows were played; right up to Chocolate & Cheese in fact.

At The Cat's Cradle is still available, and I do recommend you go out and buy it, as it's a great recording of a classic Ween 1992 set.

What is harder to find now is a copy including the free limited edition DVD that came with the initial release - although it can still be tracked down with a well aimed search; something I highly recommend - I mean, it's not of the greatest visual quality, and some of the camera work is a little baffling, but it's great to see Ween perform early songs as a duo, often to very small audiences, and often in venues that have the look about them of a caravan site social club.
But that doesn't seem to deter or limit their performance at all; they give it all they've got; go completely nuts, playing as if their very lives depend upon it.

In the sleeve notes, guitarist Dean describes this period in Ween's career as really running out of steam.
The duo format determined and regulated by the tight frame and structure of the Dat player became boring to them, and they moved into the more conventional band format allowing for improvisation and more spontaneity.
Totally understandable of course, especially from a guitar player of Dean's ability, but then again, some of their early songs are just so perfect: 'Marble Tulip Juicy Tree' is a quite wonderful and brilliant song.
I haven't got a fucking clue what it's about, but it's simply amazing.

All the tracks on the DVD are different, or at least different versions of those on the CD, and the quality of sound is very good.
My recording level is a little high - I had to rip this from my Playstation: it's a long story... - but there's no distortion; just mind your lugs if you're using cans.

Ween - Live 1991 - 1992 (various locations), (2008)

Captain Fantasy
You Fucked Up
Listen to the Music (studio out-take)
Don't Get 2 Close 2 My Fantasy
Cover It With Gas and Set It On Fire
Marble Tulip Juicy Tree
Gladiola Heartbreaker
Common Bitch
The Goin' Gets Tough From the Getgo
Old Queen Cole
Shalom Absalom (studio out-take)
Don't Laugh I Love You
Mountain Dew

Excellent DVD audio rip to mp3s @320kbs
Go back to the future with Ween here

Friday, 2 July 2010

Teenie Weeny

Two stoned teenagers recording daft numbers in a bedroom?
Yep, that just about sums up Ween's second cassette only release.

But there's already something there: seeds are being sown.
Genre subversion, psyche and folk (both of a very twisted variety), humour, satire, and chinks of the sublime that tentatively reveal where Ween were going to go; all in extreme lo-fi; enriching it no end; creating an intimacy that's genuinely authentic: no pretense; just natural and raw creativity; and a big old dose of fun.

So enjoy this piece of embryonic Ween, and hey, if anyone has a copy of Ween's first release The Crucial Squeegie Lip and they would like to share it or knows of a link to it (not bit torrent) I'd really appreciate a holla.

Meanwhile Ween go on and on; and long may they reign; and long may they commission artwork such as this recent tasty piece by Justin Hampton.

Ween - Axis Bold As Boognish (1987)

I'm Killing It (Kill Everything)
Tweet Tweet
On the Beach
I Like You
David the Negro
The Iron Whore
Sitting on my Ass (Wanton Nougat)
Smoke in my Brain
She Said, She Said
The Journey Into Dinh
Gene's Lament (Tree Love Theme)
One Love For Boognish

Cassette rip @320kbs
Get down with the Boognish here