Anniversary of the beginning… Anniversary of the end…

Recalitrant 8 IVI final edit

Eek! It seems like the conventional path of t-o-r-r-e-n-t-i-a-l blog posts to keep audiences/viewers engaged  (which is promotion edict 101) has clearly eluded thee writer/editor in question. Inexcusable this wide berth in activity, I know. But, let’s just forgive and forget, shall we. I mean, you’re not the only one with things to attend to: work, life, finances, and other time-consuming hiccups along the way.

It’s all very casual and convenient to skim through just one blog post. But might I say, all the writing, researching, and illustrating is quite a task that takes weeks, if not months to prepare. ‘Waa waa waa‘ you say, as you facetiously stroke those invisible violin strings. We’ll go ahead then, BE that way. But hopefully yours truly will find, someway/somehow, to more efficiently deal with these issues. I mean, the one I publish that is.

It may be noted this months cover story about depression is not entirely alien to yours truly, and may explain the lapses in productivity in regards to the ‘zine in question. Hopefully it will be an eye-opening experience for those who think that mental illness is strictly the disfunction of certain classes or types of people. Sadly, depression has no discriminating, partial preference for whom it decides to inflict.


COVER NOTE: This months brilliant rendering has generously been cleared for use by the talented kooreum_, aka 95Block, whose other tantalizing and impressive works can be seen at:  on Instagram, under the handle @kooreaum_, and redbubble.com/people/95Block. Cheers.

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P E T E   S H E L L E Y : Punk Pioneer Passes.

Pete Shelley 4Pete Shelley, front-man and songwriter for the Buzzcocks had died at age 63. He was survived by brother Gary, and second wife Greta.

Shelley was among the first proponents in helping to construct what would become the origins in England’s first wave of punk. He co-founded the Buzzcocks with vocalist and songwriter Howard Devoto in late ’75/early ’76, and eventually opened for the Sex Pistols some time later.

They produced three LP’s (and a number of singles, including the classic Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve) before disbanding in 1981. For the remainder of the decade, Shelley explored an interest in electronic music under his own name for a variety of singles and records. He notably re-united with co-founder Devoto in 2002 under the hybrid namesake ShelleyDevoto. The coyly, cheekily titled Buzzkunst was a new-wavey cocktail, that brought both parties proclivities for punk and electronic together under circumstances more amendable to advanced technology and tastes. The record was favorably received, but sadly a one-off.

The Buzzcocks however would be revived not shortly thereafter in both live and recorded iterations which saw a variety of festival appearances, and three additional LP’s added to their canon in ’04, ’06, and ’14, respectively. The mourned singer’s death was made public on social media, his cause of death reported as relating to heart failure.

SOURCE: https://www.theguardian.com/music/2018/dec/06/pete-shelley-lead-singer-of-buzzcocks-dies-at-63

V I N N I E   P A U L : Drummer passes, aged 54.

panteraAnother sad, untimely death has occurred in the world of rock, this time taking Pantera co-founder/drummer Vinnie Paul. Specific details regarding the drummer’s death have since recently been revealed as resulting from Paul’s being in the severe throes of coronary artery disease.

Paul was one of the founding members of the popular and influential metal/alternative band Pantera, along with brother/lead guitarist Dimebag Darrell, formed in 1981. The group would not achieve renown artistically or creatively until the 90’s, with the advent of vocalist Phil Anselmo. Crucially, to coincide with the newer energy and direction, it was indeed Paul who made the suggestion the band expunge their then more hair-metal inspired attire for more ‘comfortable’ clothes.
Paul also co-founded Damageplan with brother Darrell, who was viciously slain during a performance in late 2004. It is reported the gun-clad perpetrator (who ultimately added a security guard, a night club employee, and an audience member attempting to revive Darrell to his body count) had intended Vinnie Paul himself as among his intended targets.

SOURCE: https://www.billboard.com/articles/news/obituary/8462386/vinnie-paul-dead-pantera-damageplan-hellyeah

H E A T H E R   L O C K L E A R : An Actress in Trouble.

2018 has proven to be an eventful, yet disconcerting year for the former Melrose Place star, and ex-Mrs. Tommy Lee and Sambora. The veteran 56 year old actress has been hitting the headlines after a series of outrageous incidents, that some are attributing to a progressively worsening alcohol addiction.
Heather Locklear 95In February the Police where called to her residence to resolve a domestic dispute Locklear was having with her boyfriend, who was evidently on the receiving end of the star’s fury. Law enforcement’s arrival however precipitated further violence, this time directed at the Officers, three of whom she kicked, another female officer who she called a ‘c–t’, and almost all she threatened to shoot.
Most recently, a hugely inebriated Locklear again found herself facing legal reprimand, this time for assault on both an officer and a female paramedic, both responding to another domestic disturbance. For the latter assault, the actress could still be facing legal compensation from the complainant.
In terms of her career, the Golden Globe nominated star has seen a steady decline in popular, quality roles over the last decade (although she reportedly was offered Desperate Housewives but turned it down), but has still maintained a relatively active television career.

Which, she will likely be taking a indeterminate hiatus from, as prior to being detained, the star has done a variation of either rehab, or been assessed for mental health. Shortly after her most recent release, paramedics where once again alerted to her residence, after a family member’s suspicions of a potential overdose prompted a 911 phone call. Locklear was immediately admitted to hospital, where she was eventually stabilized.

As of press time, Locklear’s condition had not improved. In fact, it’s been reported she was re-admitted and placed on an extended psychiatric hold.

SOURCE: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-6466047/Heather-Locklear-57-headed-rehab-incident-placed-psychiatric-hold.html

W E N D Y   J A M E S : New LP.

Wendy J blend vers 2 (colorized E B) dummyFormer Transvision Vamp lead singer Wendy James has been making an artistically flourishing late career comeback, in her own right. As singer/guitarist and songwriter, her records in the last decade has had even some of her most ardently dismissive critics making recantations in her favor.
She’s now in the recording phase of her follow-up to last year’s well-received The Price Of The Ticket with a new full-length Queen High Straight. Similar to Price… James will again be working with Bad Seeds drummer James Sclavunos, and further planned participation with the legendary Lenny Kaye. Along with a new bassist (ex-Dark Horses’ Harry Bohay-Nowell), James is tentatively planning the inclusion of some ‘groovy new guitarists’.

In other James related news, Transvision Vamp has recently been anthologized and re-issued on vinyl. I Want Your Love compiles all three of their full-length albums, including annotations from James and main-songwriter/guitarist Nick Sayer.

S E B A S T I A N   B A C H : Brand New Come-bach!

Legendary Skid Row vocalist Sebastian Bach has been revealing and intimating what could amount to a new direction for the star. Bach, conversing on Detroit radio station WRIF 101.1 FM, discussed ending his contract with his previous Italian based record label, and that he’s already facilitating plans with a yet unnamed American company.
Bach also hinted that he may be disowning his previous suggestions of an acoustic based record,  for what he described as a ‘heavy metal’ ‘career defining’ album.

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Bach also surprised and delighted fans recently with a cover of Pantera’s Cemetery Gates during a solo concert in Canada. Bach, who formerly toured with the band in the early nineties, dedicated the performance to the recently deceased Vinnie Paul,drummerfor Pantera.

SOURCE: http://www.blabbermouth.net/news/sebastian-bach-is-looking-to-make-career-defining-heavy-new-solo-album/

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RM Deco Iheroes IIIVHèroes del Silencio are a Spanish rock band from the early half of the nineties. They’re blessed with singer who sounds like Eddie Veddar, and looks like he nearly got beat out of being cast as ‘art-school’ heartthrob in Melrose Place. When they play it slow, they’re like a less gothic Mission, and when they play fast they’re like a biker bar Zepplin, as is gloriously evident in the slow-to-fast tempo change of La Herida. In other words: a band with heart and spine of pure gold.

Appears on: El Espíritu Del Vino (1993)

One of indie music’s greatest losses has to be Tabitha Zu never putting out a proper full-length record. The more you listen to Apart‘s simple, swelling chord structure take its protracted paces malevolently under the barbed, sunshine girlie voice of Melanie Garside, the more you wonder who calls the shots at these ‘record’ labels anyway. She did go on to put out a solo record a year later, but not with the same zest as this atmospheric masterpiece.

Appears on: The Apart EP (1994)

marc IIHow absolutely criminal ex-Soft Cell vocalist Marc Almond, if recognized at all by the public at large, if for the dynamite hit Tainted Love, or, his duet with Gene Pitney. Not only was our Marc a prime mover with the misanthropist cognoscenti Of Nick Cave, Foetus, and Lydia Lunch. But, he was class act tragedienne on the mighty mic. The show-stopping What Makes A Man is an apropos cover as Almond plays effeminate protagonist in a alpha male’s hegemonic world.

Appears on: 12 Years Of Tears (1993)

bros IVIWhen you hear someone complain how these ‘pop stars’ don’t write or compose their own material, make sure to counter that argument with the anomaly of England’s Bros. Even if they weren’t exactly Gershwin, the monozygotic twins were a wildly successful act (aided by their blonde, blue eyed features). Madly In Love is given an effervescent remix, which compliments singer Matt Goss, who whoops and hollers like a white soul version of Michael Jackson – and nails it.

Appears on: The Best of Bros (2004)

mj IIIIVAnd speaking of Michael Jackson, do we all remember how great In The Closet was? Suspending the high concept razzle dazzle in both musical and visual concept, Jackson created this low-key wallop, in the form of an infectious loop slow-burning on a seductive rôtisserie. In terms of video, Jackson glows under the careful photography and direction of the late Herb Ritts, who also tags Naomi Campbell along. And Jackson spits out those come-hither lyrics with impeccable elan.

Appears on: Dangerous (1991)

Ever been to a Caveman Shoestore? Nope, me neither. Caveman is actually a Portland, Oregon trio from the early regions of the nineties. They sound like they should be playing with seething, ominous cool in the background of a noir-ish Gregg Araki film. Or maybe in an underground ‘edge-of-town’ club straight out of David Lynch. Pencil Sharpener is rough and evocative bedlam with a serenely edgy and angst-laden femme fatale vocalist.

Appears on: Master Cylinder (1992)

snapshot_005 BNow that so-called indie/alternative is, ‘cool’, it seems any other straight forward rock act will misguidedly be thrown to the bottom feeder for un-hipness. But, once in a while comes a band who, while lacking ‘minds-will-be-blown’ originality, have their skat together long enough to leave lesser mortals looking like amateurs. Romeo’s Daughter (a great name for a band, no?), have the gorgeously rich and controlled vocals of Leigh Matty, of which Treat Me Like A Lady is a prime highlight.

Appears on: Delectable (1993)

rosetta TIt was appropriate that the tremulous, powerhouse that was Mahalia Jackson would be the one to eulogize the assassinated Martin Luther King. But had he ever wanted to soundtrack his gloriously trail-blazing, butt kicking, and brazen revolution, he likely would’ve turned to Rosetta Tharpe, the blues rock dynamite to Jackson’s gospel fervor. She likely didn’t need to plug in her guitar, as the electricity she alone cooked up (as on Didn’t It Rain) would be enough to blow a Marshall through a window.


gathering 3Only in the mid-nineties could a Dutch metal band abruptly introduce the exquisite, powerful, and enchanting voice of  Anneke van Giersbergen, and actually surge upwards without missing a beat. But The Gathering‘s Giersbergen is no chest-beating vixen in spray-paint leather. She looks and sings like she just finished writing in her diary while listening to the Cocteau Twins and Babes in Toyland. Leaves is simply sublime, an oceanic storm undulating between crashing chords, and tides of soft ambiance.

Appears on: Mandylion (1995)

L.A.’s tween new-wave outfit Earth Dies Burning weren’t entirely popsmiths, but they weren’t anyone’s fools either. Wise beyond their years, but never relenting in their adolescent chutzpah, Another Six Year Old funnels all their aggro into pre-pubescent polemic. They sound like they grabbed whatever instrument they were forced to practice, and made a punk band. So bemusedly avant garde, their live appearance on New Wave Theater was excised from broadcast, and not shown until decades later.


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Even if BTS were to pack it in within the next 24 hours (heaven forbid!), they’ve accomplished more in their 5 year existence than most pop acts can only dream to achieve a fraction of, in both mass appeal and artistic credibility. Their newest single Fake Love is a somber and glittering volley, that takes ethereal early Coldplay caliber guitar filigree, and marries it to a crushing, impassioned pop melody. BTS at their disarming, down-tempo best.

Available on: Love Yourself: Tear (2018)

It’s been only a couple years since BlackPink graced the market, which, in K-pop terms might as well be as long as it took G’N’R to release Chinese Democracy. But despite the head-scratching title, Ddu-Du Ddu-Du is a skittering piece of pseudo-cyber hip-pop, with rapid-fire raps, and beauteously belted pre-chorus’. Even a sleep-deprived parole officer’s attempt to resist would be rendered futile. It casts such a mighty spell, if this were the mid-17th century, they’d be burned as witches. Black magic!

Available On: Square Up (2018)

K-pop’s biggest contenders Monsta X are coming out fighting like the infallible troupers they are. Jealousy is as pure and divine as pop gets, everything it’s supposed to be , really (bolstered with arguably one of K-pops most commanding vocalists). But that backbeat/production goes from slinky/smooth, to House-y/new jack, itching with digital oomph. And X’s resident rappers Jooheon and I.M. come out like caged savages, who react with a bravura combination of both jubilation and ferocity.

Available On: The Connect: Dejavu (2018);

Another brethren of the K-cognoscenti is NCT 127. It seems they to are discontent to stand by, and be steam rolled over by competitors. Cherry Bomb (definitely not the Runaways version) rolls in on woozy synths, proceeded by a bruiting beat that’s like the musical equivalent of narcan. This dynamite single practically needs a flowchart to keep track of every gloriously braggadocious twist, held together with remarkable élan by this posse of fresh princes’. Seek the ‘performance version’.

Available On: Cherry Bomb – The 3rd Mini-Album (2017)

What a marvelously good-natured and sincere throwback Shinee‘s 1 Of 1 was. An authentic facsimile of 90’s Stock/Aitken/Waterman pop and swingbeat, that’s buoyant and addictive. It’s like NKOTB meets Eternal, gets teleported into the 21 century with better technology and class and style to burn. And those voices…

Available On: 1 Of 1 (2016)
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She weren’t no riot girl, and she wasn’t no ‘angry female’ either. In fact, the wholly singular Royal Trux front-woman Jennifer Herrema took Keith Richards and Janis Joplin’s classic rock stance and slowed it to a bratty quaalude like crawl – without skimming any of the style.
In a wondrous class all her own, Herrema had a bourbon ‘n’ Marlboro clad croak, which nevertheless went down smooth ‘n’ easy thanks to her pulp-fiction like sex-appeal. But, as fashionista, you could say she was like a rock’n’roll/bohemian harbinger of what today, we call ‘street style’: 70’s shades, posterior hugging flares in ragamuffin disrepair, ratty tee thieved from the trailer park clothes line,  and a shaggy plum of beehive hair, crowned with a tattered curtain of bangs.

And yet, not only is her distinctive person carried off with commanding authority, so intriguing a presence was she, Herrema graced adverts for Calvin Klein, and later partnered creatively with clothing line Volcom, who paid specific sartorial homage to Herrema’s gritty and distinctive apparel.

RM border sep 2monochrome_black_white_scenery_ZTTTU10The impartial mental affliction Depression goes back decades. So why are we still unprepared, and why did Korea’s most promising talent became a casualty?

We often associate pop music and the performers themselves with joie de vivre, or rays of day-glo light in our grim-faced world. However, with an ever incremental frequency, the entertainment world is seeing the once enviable, happy lives of stars floundering, as the headlines betray that the rich, famous, and popular are not immune to the same debilitating, even fatal mental problems as their lesser mortals.
The recent disturbing passing of Shinee’s Kim Jonghyun has become the boiling-point of an issue that, has been much more malignant in the past few decades than we’ve been aware. Time flies, but the the writing has been on the wall-of-fame. We’ve just been too distracted to see it.

Only now are performers more articulate and vocal about their limitations and issues. But twenty years ago, when performers did not have the social media platform, nor existed in a era where the dialogue encouraged more empathy and education, stars Mel C 98 Btreaded rather lightly.

One example was Melanie Chisholm, better know as Melanie C, or Sporty Spice. At their peek, the Spice Girls would sell 20 million records worldwide, and go on to have 9 number 1 singles. A perfect platform for media scrutiny, and amplified insecurity.
It was not until much later (she was diagnosed in 2000) Chisholm would talk more frankly about her depression (which she suffered from in tandem with an eating disorder). In a recent episode of Bryony Gordons Mad World podcast, She detailed how feelings of low self-worth, guilt, and insecurity, compounded by the pressures of stardom and UK media’s often ruthless commentary,  amplified her quest for ‘perfection’ and to quantify her worth.

Brian Harvey 93 QTT O   Before the fervor of Spiceworld, the original (and arguably best and most talented) pop-star bad boy was Brian Harvey, lead vocalist in East 17. Seen as edgier rivals to Take That (they ultimately didn’t surpass them domestically, but were said to be more popular over the whole of Europe), the band were still worth their weight in gold, with a hugely successful X-mas number one, among other singles.
A decade after the groups last genuine album, the former pop-star was officially diagnosed with depression, but his struggles with the disease were much more public, and proved almost fatal after reports he had literally ran over himself with his vehicle in a failed suicide attempt. At the time, this incident became a source of comic relief rather than seen as a serious plea for help. Further troubling, and confounding incidents became a source of tabloid entertainment. Harvey continues to be vocal about his mental struggles, and even confirmed some of the suicidal ideations he has grappled with.

With such an open dialogue about depression and anxiety, how did we get it so miserably, hopelessly wrong in the case of arguably it’s first tangible casualty…”

Interesting that East 17’s rivals Take That were seen as the better groomed, more polished counterpart. As, much around the the same time as Harvey’s troubling battle with depression unfolded, former Take That member Robbie Williams himself eventually would disclose his issues with severe depression.
Williams (who revealed his diagnosis on air in 2003, but who was already in the stages of the disease during his tenor in Take That) as of late has described it as “a disease that’s in my head that wants to kill me”. He has even explained how this disease has immobilized robbie Williams SM II colorized C Bhis ability to return to music and performing saying “This job is really bad for my health. It’s going to kill me, unless I view it in a different way.” He even claimed his anxiety was so extensive he once couldn’t bring himself to leave his hotel suite for over a month and a half.

   As of recently, pop singers have become more ouvert about their struggles with anxiety and depression. Among the most prominent examples are Demi Lovato, whose has been open about her ongoing battle with depression and a clutch of other vices (including alcohol and cocaine). Lady Gaga, whose become a leader for the disaffected and outcast, herself can speak from experience, which, not surprisingly, led to a period of chronic depression.  And former One Direction singer Zayn Malik has also taken on the intrepid task of outing himself as disposed to anxiety – a key reason for recently bowing out of a performance engagement.

But coming back full circle, with such an open dialogue about depression and anxiety, how did we get it so miserably, hopelessly wrong in the case of arguably it’s first tangible casualty, the radiant Jonghyun? What made the gifted vocalist and songwriter feel so isolated, alone, and unspeakably grim he felt no choice but to take his life?

I asked why they live. They just live, just live on. If you ask why I die I would answer I am exhausted. I have suffered and pondered. I never learned how to turn this exhausting pain into bliss.” – Kim Jonghyun

   K-pop podcast K-pop Hot Pot, devoted an episode on the subject of his departure, and noted that Asian culture does not always ‘understand’ the severity of mental illness, if at all. Others have laid some of the blame at the rigorous pressures and demands of the genre itself as bringing many of it’s young stars to the breaking point. Or simply, the vulnerability that fame leaves it’s stars in, who must supply demand to a frantic fan base, but also weather the cutting, anonymous critiques ranging from their performances, to their appearance.
In what you could deduce as desperation, or a brave open letter, his own words articulate and crystallize the excruciating, immobilizing pain of driving through the emotional fire and hailstorm of mental  illness. It would be appropriate to let the late artist have the final word, which incidentally, one hopes is may be the beginning of our collective awareness. It may save lives. Maybe could’ve saved his.

   “I am broken from the inside. The depression that slowly gnawed away at me has finally swallowed me whole. And I could not defeat it. I detested myself. I grabbed my disjointed memories and yelled at them to pull themselves together but was met with no response.
giphy“I asked why they live. They just live, just live on. If you ask why I die I would answer I am exhausted. I have suffered and pondered. I never learned how to turn this exhausting pain into bliss.”
“They told me to find out why I hurt. I know too well. I hurt because of me. It’s all my fault and all because I’m lacking. Doctor, is this what you wanted to hear?No.have done nothing wrong.

   “What can I say. Just tell me I’ve done well. That this is good enough. That I’ve worked hard. Even if you can’t smile don’t fault me on my way. You did well, you worked hard. Goodbye.”

SOURCES: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/health-fitness/mind/melanie-c-battle-depression-desire-perfect-popstar-bryony/; https://www.nme.com/news/music/robbie-williams-mental-health-battle-2249671; https://metro.co.uk/2017/09/03/robbie-williams-says-his-return-to-fame-has-caused-problems-with-his-mental-health-6899687/; http://www.digitalspy.com/music/feature/a810549/17-popstars-talk-about-their-struggles-with-mental-illness/ :https://www.koreaboo.com/news/shinee-jonghyun-suicide-letter-surfaces-explaining-why-he-chose-to-end-his-life/; GIF courtesy of : https://imgarcade.com/jonghyun-everybody-gif.html

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M  I  K  E       N  E  S  S

Mike Ness C edit IIVImike ness XX5For every casualty in the live fast/die young lane, there are almost as many survivors  who’ve gone clean, but stay mean. Social Distortion’s Mike Ness is among it’s most vital statistic in favor of the latter, a true veteran having started as a scrappy Californian punk from the late seventies, to an accomplished and successful songwriter through out the nineties, and today. They’ve even been ‘sitting’ on material for a yet to be released full length, and what better time to turn our attention the mighty Mr. Ness.
In the nascent stages of his career as three chord punker with a quick ear for a good melody, Ness was a visual semblance of what the typical punk looked like in the eighties, with his own edgy twist: eye make-up, hair charged into orbit, and scrappy DIY clothes.
By the end of the decade, preceding his recovery from drug addiction, Social Distortion found audiences more willing to acclimate themselves to ‘alternative’ rock. Ness channeled his inner-rebel by reaching back into punk rock’s patrilineage – literally. He dropped the eye-liner and spikes, swapping it with a rockabilly styled pompadour, and the kind of 50’s greaser/rock ‘n’ roller stance that would’ve inflamed even a probation officer. And in his decade since debuting, his growing collection of tattoos further made for a visual, edgy about-face.

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Garbo talks … in German!

Literally screens most mysterious and enigmatic actress as she was meant to be seen (and for the first time heard): in the unfiltered milieu of the European cinema. Anna Christie (1930), was, on paper even, a respectable choice as a sound or, talking film for Swedish immigrée Greta Garbo.
Up until then, Garbo had cast a pretty impregnable spell on cinema goers as an artisan caliber vamp fatale. But with sound looming, and not even American film stars in the clear as far as the voice test was concerned, the trepidation met by actors/actresses without the safety net of having English as a first language was thrice unnerving.
Garbo of course flowered in the still embryonic stages of film’s technical and cinematic gestation (she had deliberately post-poned her talking debut until the medium had been given time to at least make reasonable improvements). Anna Christie (a film translation partly penned by Frances Marion from a play by Eugene O’Neill) revolves around the titular character’s returning to her birth father, a skipper on a barge with an obvious substance abuse problem, to reconnect after many years. When she becomes romantically involved with a fellow sailor, her undisclosed life as a sex trade worker, she is faced with a moral dilemma as to whether to reveal all.
The American version was a successful debut reinforcing Garbo’s position on screen. Simultaneously, her studio (MGM) green-lighted a German version of her sound debut, with different supporting cast and director. But this was no ersatz version of the English version…

Every raw nerve Feyder leaves open, for once,  gives Garbo an opportunity to really sink her teeth into something worthy of her art, and eclipse the artifice of her undeniable beauty.”

First, the German version has director Jacques Feyder. He takes a less overly sentimental, glossy approach to the play, and is less tentative in dealing with the new novelty of sound. He brings a refreshingly gritty realism to the picture, which gives it more gravitas and breath, and minimizes the theatricality or any potential of becoming disingenuous and melodramatic.

The players too (along with the remarkable director) bring all of the advancements and aura that was putting Teutonic cinema much further ahead on the creative food chain. The film does miss Marie Dressler’s priceless, ingenious performance, but her German speaking replacement Salka Viertel (who incidentally would become a close collaborator with Garbo screen writing some of her most accomplished films), is an arguably more subtle, scene-stealing substitute.

Garbo’s German leading man, Theo Shall, on the other hand brings much more warmth, personability, and dimension to his role than Charles Bickford. Bickford’s interpretation some could concede as terse, a bit abrasive, and strictly staid in quality. Which only threatens to drain the oxygen from Garbo’s spiritual aura with his mach 1 volts of hegemonic masculinity. Theo Shall also has better chemistry with Garbo, and is, to his credit, much more attractive and lively.

Garbo Anna 2And then, there’s Garbo. Whether because she had already put the most arduous task of completing her first English language behind her (the English version was released in February, the German version however did not debut until much later in December of 1930). Or, maybe being amidst an almost all European cast and crew (for what would’ve been the first time in years) encouraged her comfort level, Garbo is ablaze. So much so, she effectively neutralizes her English performance to something comparable to a stale dry-run of the real thing.

Garbo is emboldened, disquieting, and every raw nerve Feyder leaves open, for once,  gives Garbo a prime opportunity to sink her teeth into something worthy of her art, and eclipse the artifice of her undeniable beauty. She devours it with an exquisite passion.

The film as a whole is a profound improvement to it’s American predecessor. With a boost of Teutonic blood coursing through it’s veins, the film’s once stiff and (still) antiquated body becomes enlivened, with Feyder opening up the circulation, with fresh rather than stale air to breathe.

Audiences today are likely to take the film with a heavy dose of salt (especially with an all too tidy ending). Yet, the protagonist’s inner struggle to exorcise and quantify herself despite being corseted by a power deferential and sexual politics, remarkably, still has some grains of  validity, even in age of #metoo. And even if that amounts to hubris, time is exhausted, immaterial in defraying the blindly obvious: Garbo is luminous and immortal in the totemic hands of European film. Which makes one wonder, if Hollywood ever got it quite right to begin with.RM border sep 2RM ReReRM ALBU IIV

H A L F O R D

Made Of Metal  (2010)

Haldforf 3The annals of older rock star solo albums is, put even deferentially, a spotty affair. When even remotely successful, almost all that a mortal can attain to is to satiate audiences who, deep down, are rarely coaxed beyond satisfaction – and that’s, if it works.

Rob Halford (currently re-united with Priest), had spent a majority of the nineties wisely channeling his talents as singer for newer, more current metal trends in Fight (grunge)  and Two (industrial), respectively.

Assuming the leadership role under his own namesake, Halford (both band and performer) set a whole new precedent, which, he/they continues with aplomb on the dynamic Made Of Metal.

Three songs in, it’s clear Halford didn’t pluck this LP title in mere conceit: He and his band really are made of metal, in sound and spirit. Their agenda is clear and simple: to breath life into the kind of solid, punchy rock numbers that are so dangerously close to becoming derelict, they may as well be a chord change away from coming of their coil.

Made of Metal is a record that quantifies the counter argument, that aging gracefully when you’re passed your supposed prime is elusive.”

But this, quite unexpectedly, is evidently a strategic move by Halford, who uses this to establish common ground before sojourning into trickier territory. The kind only lesser mortals with lesser class would toy with.
It’s surprising how the subtlest twist gives a seasoned talent like Halford a whole new platform to shine as a performer. Anyone scared or bidding that this record will sink into the typical ‘saddle-the-best-tunes-on-top’, will find themselves confronted with a full giphysuite of twists and turns.

This isn’t ground-breaking or revolutionary, but then again, rock arguably isn’t strictly intended to be. What Made of Metal is, is a record that quantifies the counter argument, that aging gracefully and yet keeping things spontaneous and fresh when you’re passed your supposed prime is elusive.

Or, put simply, Halford has just come up with some really smashing tunes that work terrifically. There’s the unprecedented outlaw country twang of Till The Day I Die; pristinely cut rockers like swaggering Thunder and Lightening and We Own the Night, where a piano even manages to creep in; and arguably the highlight, the very personal Twenty Five Years chronicling his quest to maintain sobriety. None of it out of place or betraying pretension or gimmickry – clearly the man is made of more than metal.

“Halford shows that sometimes the old ways are the best ways with an album of what is essentially heavy metal comfort food, a biting sonic reminder of the glory days of the NWOBHM movement that takes that classic sound and adds enough new ingredients to make it feel fresh.” – Gregory Heaney, Allmusic.com

S P E C I M E N

Batastrophie (1983)

SpecimenIt’s almost amusing how a genre (whose patrons where once seen skulking around with snake-eyed glares, heaving black eye-makeup, and swathed in funeral appropriate apparel), despite a specific and limited time frame, has remained extant despite it’s emphasis on morbid mortality.

‘Goth’ still has it’s torch bearers, even if critical consensus esteems it as little more than comic relief, or, as John Lydon put it, ‘[glam]… but gone very, Dracula‘. Specimen were a typically good goth band: white hot guitars drenched in scathing reverb, high potency bass, and a dramatic (or was it, traumatic?) vocalist, veering nervously from amphetamine withdrawal, to glowering drama queen.

While not as respected or popular as The Cure or Sisters Of Mercy, they pimped a perfectly playful glam-racket. The coyly titled Batastrophie is all you need to get the picture, aided by less sinister, almost gleeful rockers like The Beauty Of Poison. But the standout is the chugging, prowling B-movie camp of Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, with it’s teetering, cinematic synths sinking amidst a bubbling lava of bedlam, and a bass-line worth pawning pearls for. Definitely not a drac….

Y O U N G   G O D S

T.V. Sky (1992)

Young GodsSometimes painted with the same brush as other Industrial acts, (Switzerland’s) Young Gods always heightened the more primal, extemporaneous elements of their material. And, despite some legitimate comparisons, their artistic ambitions and execution always engendered them a warm blooded interior, than a cold metal exterior.

T.V. Sky, isn’t even considered their best record, and it’s still an intoxicating long player that’s disquieting when it’s quiet, and composed even at it’s most combustible.
As if their Swans-purloined named isn’t indicative enough of both sonic heights and psychological depths, former Swans drummer Roli Mosimann produces this roaring LP. But, does so with an usually vibrant and detailed ear, that makes the pairing more collaborative, than indelicate interpretation.

Young gods 92 )03For the cherry pickers, there’s the marvelous Skinflowers, which despite it’s gravelly ‘croon’ and foreboding bass lick, manages to slink through it’s rapidly toggling chord changes with a stride that’s seductive.

There’s also the frenzied, imploding grandeur of Night Dance. Surely an antidote to any myopic spell, rolling and bouncing off a riff with a fervor that’s almost hypnotic. Not to be upstaged, Gasoline Man has a rapturous, pyrotechnic swagger that recalls J.G. Thirwell at his most playful and dangerous. And the title track is a thrash-y, revolving Priest-like fist pumper that sounds like it landed on the maniacal switchboard of Reznor himself, only to be lightly toyed with out of mere reverence.
With major player fans like The Edge and David Bowie, T.V. Sky and it’s performers exceed themselves with a walloping and imaginative record. Music for the gods…

F O R   A G A I N S T

In The Marshes (1990)

For AgainstOriginally a limited edition 10″ recorded at an earlier stage of their inception (but not released until ’90), In The Marshes is an invigorating, blooming mini-LP from the renowned, but less well known American band For Against.

They etched out a tense but sublime trajectory of post-punk rhythms bled through the wide berth of early dream-pop. This is an atmospheric and crisp sounding set of songs that, whether by intent or mere monetary imposition, creates tension, feeling, and wonder from the inside out.

Assisted by a well-executed and grime-y use of synths, For Against wisely redact the adolescent urge to flail around in mere sonic bedlam. Instead, early on their path is already defined without being worn-out and exhausted of spontaneity. They measure themselves out purposefully, with an exacting art that predates the slow-core sub-genre or style, but with-out narrowing the tempo.

An intelligent, invaluable release, now reissued with two bonus alternate tracks – out of the marshes, and onto the play-list.

S A I G O N   K I C K

Saigon Kick (1991)

Saigon Kick LPWhat a pitiable shame Florida’s Saigon Kick are most remembered for the slow-moving power ballad, Love Is On The Way. Rewind only a year earlier, and their self-titled debut extols a range of personality, exuberance, and adventure that the aforementioned ‘hit’ is surely a diminutive contrast of.

Some faulted Saigon Kick for their lack of brevity and wide-range proclivities, for better or worse. But as debut’s go, this is one confident, playful, sometimes multitudinous-in-personality record, that, at worst carries a spirited tune beneath it’s technicolor jacket.

As it turns out, the ends justify the means, with a clear definition of their identity slightly foggy, but still close and personal: A less pretentious Jane’s Addiction?; a strait-forward, straight shooting Faith No More?; a less rancorous Guns ‘N’ Roses?; a Los Angeles answer to Mother Love Bone?; a thinking man’s Skid Row?  Options seem endless, but thankfully, the songs straddle brilliance, whether by virtue of impulse, good song craft, or purely by genuine energy.

Saigon Kick 92 (8)The multiple personality and moods manifest themselves in the pristinely crafted pop-metal of What You Say, the punky shout along of What You Do, the hard rock kicks of Ugly and marvelous Down By The Ocean, the downbeat thrashiness of Month Of Sundays, the moving Come Take Me Know. Even the David Lee-Roth tom-foolery in My Life, almost works.
But one thing that is consistent is the band’s skillful playing: tight harmonies, stand-up guitar solos, et al. Lyrically too they give bite to the typical rock cliches with generous amounts of humor, poignancy, and topicality.

A colorful, catchy, artfully metallic hard rock debut, with a rare wit, good nature, spunk, and heart. It kicks… well, more than just Saigon.

in rotation A

East 17 12 inc BhFirstly we have UK pop act East 17’s 12″ maxi-single for Around The World (circa ’93). The original is a yearning, slightly above mid-tempo piece of ‘home-sweet-home’ razzle dazzle, that gets it’s new jack swing on with heart rested squarely on sleeve. All very nice, but it isn’t included here, so snap out if it.

If you thought they may have taken a bit too much of the usual edge off, they more than make up for it with some high-octane club remixes that are less torpid, more torpedo. Much of the exquisitely octave endowed Brain Harvey’s vocals are intact for remix one, courtesy of Development Corporation. And the plump, mega velocity synth chords actually buttress the track with an alternate weight.

The proceeding mixers called for the occasion aren’t going to be so easily outdone, thine listener. And Loveland almost vaporizes the original, with a moody, warbling undulation of keys, whoops, and few stray phrases from rapper Mortimer.
The ‘Global House’ mix also takes an irreverent approach, but is more light and upbeat in approach. Remixed by Dutch DJ Ben Liebrand, the Easties barely get a word in, and the groovy track floats on pseudo-symbol patterns and snappy brass keys that’s a damn fine song in itself. Edenic.

San E doit4funAfter nearly eclipsing Ravi on the bombastic brilliance of Bomb, Korean rapper San E. isn’t a pin-up/big name… yet. But on the strength of these digital download singles, his spectrum of ideas is almost enough to contain such a distinct, animate, and breezy personality.
Do It For Fun is a darker, Urban-centric, alt-rock backed platform over which to drop his sharp, elastic delivery, with music sounding Sane E Whatiflike it’s trying to crawl through a substance diminished brain. Somewhere in the middle the music alternates from bracing rock, to bass/piano heavy hip-hop before San E almost trails off like a twisted clown.
On the other opposite end of the labyrinth, is the sunshine-y, ember of feel-good pop of What If. A good-natured, funk-flavored stroll that showcases the more humorous and deft nuances in San E’s wordplay and timing, all buttressed with a sing-along chorus (both include instrumental versions).

Pschedelic furs ShockCritics tracing their careers from promising post-punk, to weighty new-wave were claiming to have been short changed by the Psychedelic Furs ’86 LP Midnight To Midnight. Even singer Butler himself later admitted to a semi out-of-body experience, front stage, lacquered in bad leather, slicked in copious hair product, realizing what a full-blown cardboard cut-out thing-y he’d become.

But if there are any gems to salvage (along with the top 40 Heartbreak Beat), it should be this wonderful single, Shock. Originally produced by Chris Kimsey, here, it’s made even more enterprising with a glittering life-line it gets thrown by Shep Pettibone, later known for his work with Madonna…

Cathy Dennis 12 inch II…And, this promising pop songstress, Cathy Dennis, who had among her biggest hits as performer with (Touch Me) All Night Long. But little known fact is she’s actually the crafty mind behind Kylie Minogue’s Can’t Get You Out My Head. Not to mention having written for her sister Dannii, Kelly Clarkson, Pink, S Club 7’s Never Had A Dream Come True, Katy Perry’s I Kissed A Girl, AND Britney Spears Toxic.

On her own, Dennis was an attractive, pert pop presence, with a clear, unfussy vocal. Her self-penned pop material proved surprisingly versatile when stretched and refashioned  for the dance floor, as this entertaining 12″ demonstrates. The starkest departures heard here are the fresh, minimal spin on the ‘Touch This’ mix, which pure drum pattern dance divinity. ‘Rhodesappella’ excises the drum track, leaving the warm, seductive keys and voices, for a more sensual twist.

530 superOn to some more genuinely rocking material, Five Thirty were an indie oasis before, wellll, Oasis. They had swinging tunes, and Supernova was a damn fine one. The 7″ is a knock-out, dear reader,  A. Knock – Out.

The A side is pure English swag with echoes of Mersey Beat, but with both hands firmly on the now. But the B-side… well. It’s a breath-taking and atmospheric lament (if the title Still Life doesn’t poke at what’s indicative, then maybe leave the site now) that’s the soundtrack for any indie tragidienne within a mile. Run to the shops and DEMAND a copy.

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Sir Elton. A legend. And deservedly so. He gave us Yellow Brick Road, Don’t Let The sun Go Down On Me, The One, and how many dozens more. He wrote some spectacular tunes for the Lion King. And then there was all that Diana business. But willing to suffer fools…? Let’s discuss.

giphy-1Our Elton has always been a bit of Divo. But he does it with such acerbic flare, it would be a public disservice NOT to let him roast these lesser mortals.

And age? Ha! You think that’s mellowed him, do you? You think it will ‘soften’ him, have you? Well, kiddies, you’re mistaken. Sorry! Case in point, a trip to Taiwan turned heated and hostile as fast as Slim Shady can say mommie dearest, when Elton was met by his most antagonistic of nemesis: the paparazzi.

Far from calm-cool-collected, the outspoken Duke Bitch-up called hell itself down upon some especially ruthless photographers. ‘Rude vile pigs!’ was Elt’s three word summation to a phalanx of cameramen. It’s like the equivalent of Machine Gun Kelly’s song-length diss at Eminem, or something. ‘Git owt uv Taiwain!’ admonished one. ‘Yeah we’d love to get out of Taiwan, ‘cuz it’s [meant] full up people like you! Pig! Piiiig!’.

You see, todays pop ‘stars’, they’re a bit – frilly, aren’t they? They’re all courting they’re own ego whilst making disembodied side-swipes at each other via social media – and THIS is their idea of straight shooting. Even the punk rockers have one a bit courtly on us.

Thankfully there’s Elton who fearlessly draws the line. Whether it’s cussing out paparazzi, making Madonna cry (probably), or lambasting recalcitrant security guards on stage, the wrath if Elt, shall be felt! Don’t let the sun go down on me, he sang once (twice, actually). Best you don’t, for if you do… you get SHADE, my dear.

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Rec Cover no7 K

Yes, and a hello to you too. We’re here again, after so  l o n g  an interlude in which time, a 50’s rocker has sued the BBC, an 80’s rocker has gone near deaf, and a double 00’s rocker is teasing us with an LP that’s ‘in the homestretch’.
And boy, can we here relate to being in the homestretch. As, Recalcitrant seems to always be in an extended phase of near completion, before another file marked ‘…to be done gets plopped down at the wee hours. But, it’s here, it’s here, at the very least, fashionably late.
Besides, would we/I dawdle if I didn’t come armed with more content,  m o r e  gloss, and  M  O  R  E  great and exciting music?  Well, I would least try. And just as the Bible says, you should forgive, ‘not up to 7 times… but 77 times’. Which, is fitting because this, is… Recalcitrant, blog-azine… #7!

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Recal news II

H U E Y   L E W I S : Dire Prognosis for Rock Singer.

Veteran performer and singer Huey Lewis, and his band namesake Huey Lewis & the News, have announced they will be canceling a series of six performances, after the singer disclosed via twitter he has been diagnosed with Meniere’s.

Meniere’s disease is comprised of a number of ultimately debilitating symptoms (including vertigo, ringing in the ear) targeting the victims aural faculties, eventually leading to permanent deafness.
The 67 year old front man (discovered by Nick Lowe), best known for hits like ‘Power of Love’ and ‘Hip to Be Square’, offered a treatise for the cancellations and his current condition since his dire diagnosis: “Although I can still hear a little… I can’t hear well enough to sing.” Lewis went to say he feels ‘horrible about’ the cancellations, before expressing a sincere apology, along with his desire to comply with doctor’s recommendation to discontinue any further singing engagements for the time being.

For more of Lewis’ statement go to the official Rolling Stone article https://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/huey-lewis-cancels-2018-tour-dates-due-to-hearing-loss-w519131

K Y L I E : Gold Against the Soul – New LP at 50.

kylie minogueIt been 30 years since the well groomed Neighbors star debuted with the international hit Locomotion. But now, the mature cancer survivor and 50 year old is putting out her first full-length in five years, Golden.

It’s a more daring musical volley for the singer, more known for dance/pop, as she incorporates Country flavor, in keeping with a majority of LP’s recording venue, which took place in Nashville, among other locales. Golden also has a more introspective slant, with Minogue co-writing all the tracks, some of them dealing with mortality, age, and the dissolution of romantic relationships.

To promote the new record, Minogue is planning an international tour to commence in the fall (the album has since gone to number 1).

For more information and to listen to and purchase the new record go to https://www.kylie.com

H E D L E Y : Dirty Little Secrets? – Hoggard Faces Allegations.

Former Canadian Idol contestant, and lead singer in successful pop/punk band Hedley, along with said band members, has become the latest in a disturbingly high frequency of male public figures accused of sexual misconduct.
Two separate incidents have been reported by victims, one from Ottawa, and the other Toronto, with detailed allegations about how Hoggard himself, aggressively pursued the complainants to engage in sexual acts they were uncomfortable with, even after explicit refusal.
Hoggart issued a statement that, addressing these incidents in particular, denied any culpability in the complainants version of events, insisting the liaisons were ‘consensual’ and the accusations ‘devastating’.
However in another statement, the singer did acknowledge a penchant for rock excesses that precluded any consideration or propriety for women, which he ultimately called ‘reckless and dismissive’.

For the full story reported by Judy Trinh, go to http://www.cbc.ca/news/entertainment/hedley-toronto-woman-1.4559347 (Warning, some the victim’s statements are graphic and explicit in nature.)

G A R Y    N U M A N ‘s  Orchestral Maneuvers:

Gary Numan 05Electro-pop pioneer and indefatigable performer Gary Numan, announced on his official website he’ll be doing a series of special performances (along with regular performances he’s been doing for his current LP Savage…) this November in the UK. The performer will be accompanied by the Skaparis Orchestra for 6 shows, which have apparently already sold-out.
Numan comments on his website in part: “I have often felt that my music has had, at times, a filmic quality but, with The Skaparis Orchestra joining us for these six shows, that mix of hard electronic and soaring cinematic atmosphere will finally come fully to life.”. Numan also promises “the biggest and most extravagant light show” to accompany the series of performances.

For more information on Numan’s performances with Skaparis, and other details regarding his latest release go to https://garynuman.com/news/

W E I R D O S : Live! And Well…

Weirdos IIIL.A. punk rock legends will be uniting once again as a unit, and touring across America this July. Besides dates in California, the Weirdos will be in Portland, Las Vegas, and Seattle. The Weirdos were among the first wave of L.A. punk bands (including Screamers, Germs, Bags, and X) in the late seventies, before disbanding in 1981.
They (primarily brothers John and Dix Denney, the only constant members) have staged a number of reformations since 1990, the most concentrated efforts being in the last decade or more, and since 2016 have managed to elicit original 1978 bassist Bruce Moreland.

For a full list of the Weirdos dates go to https://www.songkick.com/artists/208755-weirdos

A V R I L   L A V I G N E : In the ‘Homestretch’ with new material?

AvrilAccording to a not entirely vague Instagram post, punk princess Avril Lavigne has intimated she may well be into the process of writing/recording new material, which will be her first since her 2013 self titled LP.
The photo depicted a monochromatic singer with guitar and pen, with the legend ‘homestretch b**ches’. The record’s musical muse has not been definitively disclosed. In the meantime, Lavigne will be showcasing her voice-over animation skills for the  up-coming animated film Charming (which also includes in it’s cast Sia, John Cleese, and Demi Lovato), which has yet to given an official US premiere, as of press time.

For the full Billboard article on Avril’s album teaser go to https://www.billboard.com/articles/columns/pop/8313034/avril-lavigne-hints-new-album-instagram-photo

S I R  C L I F F   R I C H A R D : Sueing at 77!

Sir Cliff Richard, the long-standing and successful UK vocalist who started as the ‘English Elvis’, is currently a plaintiff embroiled in contentious litigation against the BBC.

Sir Richard is seeking to be compensated (with estimates being from $ 700, 000 US to upwards of the millions) by the BBC after, upon an internal disclosure from the Yorkshire police, filmed and reported a police raid in connection with allegations of abuse against the star. The 2014 incident, included video from inside the singer’s Algrave apartment during the police raid, along with coverage directly implicating the star in said charges.
Cliff Richard 61Sir Richard‘s solicitor Mr. Rushbrooke,  in statements regarding the lawsuit, accused the BBC of “relaying instantaneously and indiscriminately around the world highly sensitive and damaging information concerning [Richard] – all based upon an allegation of serious criminal conduct which he knew to be entirely false.”
The Yorkshire police acknowledged their complicity in tipping off the broadcasting company regarding the raid and the allegations (of which prosecuting attorney’s declined to file charges) and settled with the singer for over $ 700,000 US.
Sir Richard has since testified (reportedly quite emotionally) in court about the extensive damage to his reputation, and even physical health this entire episode has had on him, at 77 years of age. He related one particular incident in which he collapsed to his kitchen floor testifying: “I felt as though I was in a hole, with no means of getting out, and I was on my knees in the kitchen sobbing.”

He also expressed the anxiety the public disclosure and publicity would have on his personal relationships. The BBC has maintained they followed journalistic ethics, and justified their coverage as a responsibility to the public.

For more on testimony and other details reported by the Mirror go to https://www.mirror.co.uk/3am/celebrity-news/cliff-richard-insists-being-called-12360298

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Your cooler-than-thou friends might hastily toss pop/rock outfit T’Pau in the ‘eighties-fromage’ playlist. But then again, most of them couldn’t traipse as effortlessly across the vocal scale, hitting those joyous notes with any of the elan or skill of vocalist Carol Decker. Whenever You Need Me is a power ballad in the most literal and effective way possible, augmented by a distorted chorus and a piercing vocal. T’riffic!

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America likes to downplay it, but Europe (specifically UK) wasn’t the only place with it’s own ‘phalanx’ of what’s now known as shoegazers: aka, bands with lush/androgynous vocals, and loud/swirly guitars. Lulabox had a Curve-y caliber sound (dance-y, dark wave-y), but this album track is bubble-gum melodies sung with a breathy, feline finesse, beneath undulating, delayed guitars. In other words: a dreamy lullaby hell-bent for velvet.

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The days when a heavy metal band could part ways, and become two equally successful and important groups entirely, are more likely gone forever. When Dave Mustaine departed Metallica, he formed Megadeth. Ten years on he gave a post-grunge world this melancholy and mighty song, the title/chorus sung as a final parting shot by the protagonist as he departs off his mortal coil (erroneously interpreted as a pro-suicide song by MTV). Très bien!

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As industrial became a popular sub-genre in the ’90’s, one outfit able to stake claim to having been there close to the beginning was Belgium’s Front 242. A decade later they were entering the Billboard dance/club charts, were on the Wax Trax label, and had Anton Corbijn directing their promos. Despite it’s strict, austere rhythms, Tragedy (For You) has a faint pop sensibility, and a whisper of some breathing emotion.

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Best known for floating atop the charts for their trippy, barely reverent, and joyously fey rendition of the Beatles Strawberry Fields ForeverCandyflip were just as effective on their own. A sort of Happy Mondays meets Bros. doppelgänger good looks, Red Hills Road is a baggy piece of bubblegum with a simple but insatiable chorus. It has effervescent synths and keys spinning and spiraling behind, a perfect piece of confectionery that will will make you… flip!

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There have been many tributes to the late Kurt Cobain (from artists as diverse as Neil Young and Patti Smith). But one suspects if Kurt were around, he would likely be partial to Stinky Puffs surprisingly effective I’ll Love You Anyway. Performed/written by the adolescent aged Simon Fair Timony, Kurt had a taken a liking to the then 7 year old performer (as did many within the alt-intelligentsia). Further bolstering it was live accompaniment from none other than the surviving members of Nirvana themselves.

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For all the girdle-busting hubris, and shrill exorcisms that made up female rock on both ends of the spectrum, only a handful braved having a sense of humor. And no one seemed to be having more honest-hearted fun than C.S.F.H. (Cycle Sl**s From Hell). A sort of metallic En Vogue, swapping out octave-endowed divas with metal chicks, C.S.F.H. should’ve been huge. It never clicked, but not because of a lack of enthusiasm and tunes. I Wish You Were A Beer is thrashy, fist-pumping fun no one makes anymore. Cheers!

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Best known in mainstream terms for being Madonna’s producer, the distinguished and distinct William Orbit had been active for years as both remixer, and even co-founding his own duo Bass-O-Matic. As a solo artist, Orbit was equally impressive. His Strange Cargo series demonstrated a conceptual audio constructor with an identity all his own. By it’s third iteration, Orbit was well into his stride, and Touch of the Night is a brilliant,  late-night, pre-trip hop wonder.

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It seems like an eternity ago, but once upon a time, there was such a thing as a vocally towering metal-rock diva who knew the fine line between sexy and sleazy. Canada’s impressive vocalist and self-professed ‘Metal Queen’ Lee Aaron had everything a male hard rock fan could desire: killer looks, killer voice, killer backing band. She pulled off this irresistible rocker with class and aplomb. Which, considering it’s going title is Whatcha Do To My Body, is a testament to her charisma.

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Ex-Virgin Prunes vocalist Gavin Friday made a remarkable transition from death-rocker extraordinaire, to tasteful, well-groomed adult pop-star. His ’92 album had him looking and sounding remarkably handsome, accompanied by some mature arrangements to show off his impressive voice. But a vague skeleton from the past haunted the final track Eden, in ways words fail. With grinding, slowly exhaling guitars in the background, Friday croons with a recollection haunting and heart-breaking in this stellar song.

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Former VIXX member RAVI debuted with a stealthiness only minutely hinted at by the title of this walloping rush of K-pop-gone-K-hop (although the promo got him some flack). As a rapper, he has a hoarse croon, aided by a suave, charismatic personality. With it’s DMX-style chorus, this is ready to detonate at any moment, and guest rapper San E’s appearance is, well a dynamite counter attack. If Korea’s military arsenal is as acute and precise as this, seek the nearest bomb shelter.

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Though K-pop girl groups often get accused of being cute and coquettish, 4 Minute are cute, coquettish and… crazy! By Asian standards they’re somewhat brazen, but delightfully so – like Baby Spice with riled Timbaland beats. Crazy has a bridge with a honey covered, lush vocal for respite. But that band-aid gets ripped off pretty quick by those heavy, kick-boxing beats, and some rapier raps.

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It takes, at the very least, a good talent to dare be self-referential enough to announce they’re ‘one of a kind’. But the divine G-Dragon, is a great talent, and One Of A Kind is less self-aggrandizing, more abiding by the barre he sets for himself. Besides, he’s got a chilled, thuggish, slobbery beat and autotune/vocoder voices, all while sporting yellow corn-rows, relaxing with exotic animals, and seducing an over-zised Barbie.  G-licious!

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Easily K-pop’s edgiest and most daring outfit was 2NE1, who had a perfect balance, in it’s four members, of baby-doll cute, streetwise savvy, and simply great chops. Come Back Home is a sublime slow song: skank/ska verses roll along until that pristine, epic chorus showers in. Then, it takes a warped, trippy turn that somehow works wonderfully. Not even America is daring to combine risque signatures with classic girl-group pop.

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Whether or not they are the first bad boys of K-pop, is a matter of strong convictions arguing for, or against. But there’s no denying B.A.P. are a modern equivalent of what East 17 was in ’90: rough, streetwise, and ready to rumble. B.A.P. were less afraid to show their rock side, as they do here on No Mercy. It takes Queen’s ‘…Rock You’ stomp ‘n’ clap, and gives it a hip-happening swag. That booming drum break, like Queen, is killer.

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D U F F    M  C  K  A  G  E  N

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   Perhaps of all the Guns ‘N’ Roses members, the affable Duff McKagan was the most authentically/genuinely punk of them all, sheerly on the strength of his pre-G’N’R existence alone (indeed, it his him singing the Misfits Attitude on the ‘Roses covers LP).
But, far from being strait-edge, McKagan came as dangerously close as any (before or after him) of being yet another rock ‘N’ roll casualty (stemming from severe alcoholism). After a grim ultimatum from a physician, McKagan cleaned up, and managed to parlay his musical notoriety with the ‘Roses into successful musical endeavors with Sex Pistols guitarist Steve Jones (Neurotic Outsiders). But even more so with Velvet Revolver, re-uniting him with Slash, and giving Scott Weiland another avenue as front-person.

Speaking of which, as somewhat teased in previous conversation, Duff himself Duff 87 UK2(at)tempted fate with his own full-length solo effort Believe In Me. Sadly, critics – even with stellar augmentation from Jeff Beck, Lenny Kravitz, and Sebastian Bach – apparently didn’t back the titular sentiment, and the album reached a few dozen notches shy of the top 100.
Of course, the album sounds better today, and McKagan, even in the grips of substance abuse, demonstrates a gritty, impressive bellow of a voice. He’s a true survivor, and, he’s no nimrod either: subsequent to recovery, McKagan took a finance course, which eventually led to him furthering his educational acumen on a University level in Seattle, from which he’s born.
Business savvy, erudite punk, multi-talented, and, back with G’N’R? Maybe. But regardless, Duff McKagan is the among the few of the 1st class of genuine rock stars we have left. Cherish him. Believe me.

Multi-instrumentalist!: He may be known primarily as bassist for among Rock’s most successful acts, but guitarist?; pianist?; drummer? Yeah! In fact, among McKagan’s nascent efforts prior to fame was as drummer for Seattle band the Fartz, and briefly for the Fastbacks. A decade later, he took almost all duties upon himself (including production!) for his solo LP: vox, piano, drums, guitar, and bass.

Covorted with Iggy Pop and Black Flag!: Yep. As if having a band with a Sex Pistol isn’t enough to be wowed by, McKagan also was a performer and co-writer for the godfather of punk Iggy Pop. Still nonplussed? Well, reader, he was even able to procure, as guitarist for his second solo venture Loaded, ex-Black Flag vocalist Dez Cadena.

Duff 87And this wasn’t even his first brush with a Black flag: when he formed a band with Slash (Road Crew) a year after moving to L.A., among their many transitional vocal auditionees was second Black Flag singer Ron Reyes.

Last to see Kurt Cobain alive?: Well, almost. They apparently both boarded a Delta flight from L.A. to Seattle on April 1st, and Cobain sat next to McKagan. Cobain revealed he had made an exodus from, well, Exodus (treatment facility). Upon arriving at baggage claim, McKagen says he was greeted by a peer, who, along with Cobain excused themselves to have a cigarette.

Both McKagan and his friend observed Cobain seemed ‘down’, at which point it was suggested both should offer Kurt an invitation to stay with them. Sadly, by the time they located him, he was already in a taxi en route, for what was later revealed to be a purchase of bullets…

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K  a  t  e    P i e r s o n

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Athens Georgia’s B-52’s were at the top of Lennon’s a-list at the beginning of ’80 (even being a muse for the legendary Double Fantasy). No small part of that equation (including equal parts originality, humor, and tunes) was the bands double-taking stage apparel. The female vocalists in particular donned vividly authentic 60’s vintage attire, not least their wild and wonderful beehives.

Over a decade later, with Cindy Wilson taking a time-out, the star focused squarely on the lovely Kate Pierson. With her vocals rising to prominence in other non B-52’s appearances (such as R.E.M.’s Shiny Happy People and Iggy Pop’s Candy), Pierson‘s appearance took a considerable about-face. Gone was the scrappy beehive, replaced with long, lipstick red tresses. Still vintage in essence, but showcasing her Barbie doll like beauty to it’s best affect.

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Cop Shoot Cop indiecator 1992 BB 6

Nestled somewhere between the grime-y, well treaded cracks that was NYC’s ‘scum rock’ scene, and the Nevermind proffered alternative crap-shot, begot a blazing slab of concrete and compressed chaos, Cop Shoot Cop. And with a namesake like that, they had better be worth the NYC badge of underground honor from which they came.

Some have called them a sort-of industrial band. But if so, this isn’t a post-goth, technologically proficient machine, raging in war paint and leather. Cop Shoot Cop invoke that same metallurgical density, but with a less synthesized approach.

Formed in 1987, had the world not turned on it’s heel so as not let the full ‘In’ bloom reach its greatest potential in subversion, Cop Shot Cop could’ve been contenders, somebodies. Made up primarily of  bassist/vocalist Tod A. (nee Tod Ashley, ‘paste-up’ artist for Rolling Stone), sampler Jim Coleman (motorcycle accident survivor), bassist Jack Natz (ex-The Undead and Black Snakes, and whom the band allegedly found crashing in their rehearsal space), and drummer Phil Puleo, Cop Shoot Cop became a daring curiosity, primarily  for being maybe the only band able to fruitfully succeed in obliterating arguably a rock bands’s most crucial component: the guitarist.

By 1989 there were a couple of releases, one of which must have alarmed it’s patrons when it came stocked in a sleeve splattered with something resembling claret. These recordings are not for the faint of heart, and these before they even officially added Natz as second bassist, he playing the low-tuned strait man to Tod A.’s high velocity side show evangelist.

…There was some quote by somebody who said that [Cop Shoot Cop] had no more ideas about music than New Kids On The Block, which is probably true.” – Lead singer Tod A., 1992.

Their debut Consumer Revolt is a Foetus-inspired mass of destruction. Although the band would come wonderfully into their own on successive releases, this may be them at their unvarnished, bracing best (the sound bite Disconnected 666, re-recorded for the second time, is an amusing and deft collage showing there were wily slivers of humor).

Cop Shoot Cop 1989 neonWith their affinity for J.G. Thirwell (aka Foetus) still present (theoretically and literally –  he sat behind the mixing desk for a portion of this one), White Noise presents an outfit not content to rest on their interesting non-guitar sound alone.

An ultimately sharper and smoother unit, it takes their debut’s themes of consumerism to a more sinister plateau (“POVERTY! Real as it gets! Don’t think I won’t skin you when your skin is all that’s left…“- from Heads I win, Tails You Lose) On these vocalist Tod Ashley’s facetious disdain drips and slobbers all over the place with a darkly humorous punchline. The band sounds more in tune and intuitive to each other, rather just heaving bracing slabs of social commentary around.
But White Noise seems to be dissecting the broader picture in it’s state-of-the-world address that goes grimly beyond just the woes of commerce. It seems to dovetail it into what our greater responsibility or, irresponsibility is in how we either passively digest, or subsist from this ‘norm’, and it’s social implications at large.
This is somewhat clear on the LP’s penultimate track If Tomorrow Ever Comes, with it’s Tom Waits-ian gait, as it conjures rhetorically: “And if tomorrow ever comes/we’ll buy ourselves new boots and coats …We’ll watch ourselves on video … we’ll curse the day we were conceived … No shoulder to cry on“.

 

Around this time the band’s namesake inspired an ill-advised photo opportunity that unexpectedly turned it’s subjects into potential offenders (although their criminal records are said to be significant in themselves). While posing with prop guns during a photo session (sometime in late ’91), the band were disrupted by an outbreak between rival gangs within close proximity. Having gone to investigate, they neglected to disarm themselves of their props, upon which time arrived NYPD, who quickly presumed the band was complicit in the kerfuffle. Once detained, the band was ultimately penalized with $ 5000 in fines (each!) and probation.

Cop Shoot Cop 92 B&W IIA year after, Cop Shoot Cop joined fellow New Yorkers Helmet on the much more mainstream record label Interscope. According to contemporary reports, the band landed in the cross fire when a conflict of interest prompted some of the labels democratic backers to disassociate themselves from the label. This in the wake of a real-life cop (In Texas) being shot by a man apprehended with a cassette of Tupac Shakur… a fellow Interscope artist.

I don’t feel we talk down to people, I just feel we make comments on what we see … The primary force for being in a band isn’t to make political statements it’s to make good music.” – Tod Ashley, ’92.

Then came Ask Questions Later (which at one point had the going title Fistful of Dollars). This is their hands down master stroke – an impossible feat of guitar-less, art-industrial polemic.
A lot of this material has a melodic notch on it’s unbuckled belt, but this is no breezy pop record, unless a record that starts it’s first chorus with the lyric ‘Surprise, Surprise/the government, LIES!’ can fall into that classification.
Produced by Martin Bisi, Ask… is just swinging stuff that turns Cop Shoot Cop‘s cantankerous clatter into monumental gold. As a vocalist, Tod Ashley is seasoned and distinct in both style and phrasing, and his lyrics are just as intellectually juiced up, without the pulp that clogs much lesser mortals.

Ask Questions Later not only manages to be an inventive and sophisticated aural anomaly, but even allows itself some room for sly humor and a playfulness as seen in Everybody Loves You (When You’re Dead) where Ashley sounds like David Johansen as he’s backed by a bellicose boogie. The songs stick, the sound’s slick, the band’s sick.

Cop Shoot Cop 1992 live

By ’94, Cop Shoot Cop expand to a 5-piece with, cross your fingers, a full-time guitarist (Steven McMillen), for what the more ascetic would call an inevitable capitulation to tradition. Or was it…?

Their last record Release is still a tough beast loitering on the fringes of genuine underground credibility (like their other records, this also is recorded in NYC). Blue Oyster Cult this isn’t.
They’re still as analytical and visceral as ever. But the guitars, while not a complete intrusion on the formula, are not as lulling as one would imagine. For highlights see the the playful and punchy Any Day Now and Two At A Time.

This was the second in what was contractually to be a three album deal with Interscope. A third LP was said to have been recorded, but it appears Tod A. departed, and while the trio remained committed to it’s completion, Interscope shelved the record without releasing it. The band went their separate ways in a variety of fields both musical and artistic .

Five years later, portions of the press would be praising the so-called ‘new rock revolution’, which represented almost everything Cop Shoot Cop would’ve hated: nostalgia, excess, and convention (“I’d rather take that risk and say something that meant something now, and could possibly mean something ten years from now than just say OK … this is safe”. said Tod. A to journalist Sarah Pratt, in ’92).

Yet perforating the time capsule that embalms so many, today, and especially today, these records sound as post-modern and vital as ever in an era of ‘fake’ news and a population 1.3 pay cheques away from poverty. And don’t even get us started on who cops are shooting these days …

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One-in-a-Million?: debating the besmirched actress Anna Sten.

The weight of expectation can be an especially impossible obstacle to overcome, in any circumstance. But in show business and arts, it can be as good as a serpent’s kiss if word of mouth excels greater in theory, than it does in flesh. Money can buy the press, the publicist, and even the printed page. But it can’t buy the public. Monetary value is a  transient currency if after all, talk really is cheap.

And maybe no instance is more demonstrative of that presumptuous folly than what is known pejoratively in film footnotes as the ‘million dollar discovery’ by producer Samuel Goldwyn, Anna Sten.

Sten, before her arrival to Hollywood and subsequent ‘glamour’ make-over, had a wealth of potential in her own right (even upon conception her father was a theater artist  and producer, her mother a ballerina).  She was hand picked by the renowned Konstantin Stanislavski, who developed and masterminded the acting theology or system, dubbed ‘method of physical action’ ( a version of which was later adopted by Stella Adler and Lee Strasberg), later known domestically in the US as ‘method acting’.

Even with this substantial and accomplished acting pedigree aside, she had appeared in a number Russian and German productions in the late twenties. Her most accomplished and acclaimed film was a German produced translation of Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov (released as The Murderer Dimitri Karamazov).  This managed to kick start the cogwheels for Goldwyn, on the hunt for a successful box-office émigré, after his other successful discovery, Vilma Banky, went into permanent retirement.

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Before…
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…After! The Hollywood makeover complete.

She was described as a rival/successor to the Garbo/Dietrich phenomena of European actresses, Sten being Ukranian. That was foible number one, not merely because comparisons to Garbo and Dietrich are ambitious in themselves, but for the simple fact it can be argued both of those actresses celebrity, at this time, was becoming evidently less sensational and lucrative than it was years earlier.
Adding to the dynamic of this mis-step, is the fact that Goldwyn ignored the one simple factor that made Garbo and Dietrich’s Hollywood transition easier: they had established themselves, or, had their breakthrough in the European market first.
Further aiding them was the mentoring and artistic grooming they received from brilliant directors like Mauritz Stiller and Joseph von Sternberg, respectively.  In cinematic terms, Sten was largely left to her own devices, with a barely rudimentary grasp of English.

She did have an overzealous campaign launched on her behalf, a campaign one suspects likely didn’t reflect her own sentiments accurately. Goldwyn’s enthusiastic but misguided attempt to be a star-making impresario, not surprisingly, backfired and ended up amounting to a lot of hubris. But what did audiences actually think about Sten …?

Almost entirely on the opposing end of the spectrum as Goldwyn: ‘wooden’, ‘inferior’, were just some of the terms used to describe her. But was the jury pool tainted? Did she ever have a chance?

If Sam Goldwyn can with great conviction / Instruct Anna Sten in diction / Then Anna shows / Anything goes.” – Cole Porter lyric.

Today, her Hollywood debut, a handsome (though some say bowdlerized) interpretation of Èmile Zola’s Nana by director Dorothy Arzner, can be viewed several paces away from understandably apathetic and unforgiving eyes.

At worst, Sten, a natural beauty swathed in full Max Factor calibre masque, is slightly miscast, fumbling at times trying to (ful)fill a narrow archetype that requires more conjuring than acting (she joins the line-up of pre-code actresses who, for one reason or another, find themselves forced to perform in a ‘nightclub’).  Even still, she comes across much more playful and genuinely innocent in her more coquettish moments,  rather than hardened and worldly, or at a seeming romantic impasse, like you-know-who.

That aside, Sten is still a good actress. In fact, her ‘wooden’, ‘inferior’ acting is actually her relying on her most basic ‘method’ style and training: subtle, natural, and without stylization or synthesis.  Even better, and as a good balance, she’s much warmer and less inscrutable a presence on screen. Which, makes her a failure at being the nu-Garbo/Dietrich, but not at being an actress, or even a screen personality.

Evidently her worst critics ignored the way she handled her more difficult, emotional scenes (which she does with aplomb). Focusing instead on her mis-steps, and admitted flippant and sometimes casual proclivities.
But not even her detractors could deny one very obvious asset: Sten was stunningly beautiful to behold. Less an exotic, worldly femme-fatale, but more an ethereal, Pre-Raphaelite nymph, flouting and espousing her innocence at whim.

Of course the public was underwhelmed, and after two more attempts, her days of stardom (at least in this faculty – she did continue to work in films), came to a disappointing end.
Years later, in an interview with film archivist John Kobal, Sten was asked (in a series of prickly exchanges) what she ultimately thought, in retrospect, about the moniker. Without missing a beat, she concurred why not be called a ‘Million Dollar’ discovery? Proving once and for all you can put a dollar sign on pure class. Except maybe one: Priceless.

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From knocking on Alan McGee’s door at age 12 so he could accompany him to a Thin Lizzy concert, to bequeathing on the world among the most monumental movements in rock, Bobby Gillespie has rested upon his waif-like shoulders among the most exciting, extended careers in indie. He at variable times has been everything from bassist for the Wake, drummer for the Jesus & Mary Chain, and, of course, vocalist for Primal Scream.
But beyond that, Gillespie has arguably among the best tastes in the industry. Tastes that become all the more pronounced in his chic and groovy sartorial choices.

(Clockwise starting with main pic) Circia ’91: Gillespie’s Stones-y coiffure (and miming the famous Jagger lips insignia) is even more bad-ass than the originals, and remains his signature cut.  Circa ’86: Seen here approaching his mid-twenties and, much like his J&MC band mates at the time, playing all but strict homage to their elders the Velvet Underground: leather pants, shades, even his style of drumming. Circa ’94Around the time of the belated and awaited Give Out But Don’t Give Up, Gillespie grow his Keith Richards style shag out, in exchange for tresses evoking the era of free-love, or maybe the MC5. Circa ’91Ensconced amid party balloons, the success of Screamadelica gave Gillespie a reason to celebrate. He never let go of the shades, but branched out again with a rad, Electric Prunes worthy bowl-cut . Circa ’87Primal’s full-length debut Sonic Flower Groove was typical indie stance (the band had previously appeared on record in single form, which saw them included in the C86 compilation). Gillespie’s buttoned up shirts became more apropos with the LP’a title, but he switched hair-styles to a sharply parted in the middle, um, bob.  Circa ‘ 91Typical indie style, but with a more enhanced sense of history and flare than his contemporaries.

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T  H E  PU  N K/  DA N  C E   DALLIANCE:

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Do the Oil and Water of popular/underground music form any alliance?

Punk music. Dance/electronic Music. If ever there were two genre’s so diametrically incongruent to each other, in both style and objective, it would be these. Yet, one would be pleasantly surprised to find the haphazard gestation taking place over several decades or more. One that managed to bring the two into almost full uniformity bringing us into today.

Getting into the specifics, and trying to align the turning points with anything resembling an exacting or precise authority is always a crap shot. But there are some significant anomalies for consideration.
For punk, some early examples of band’s who incorporated electronic elements overtly were NYC’s Suicide and L.A.’s Screamers who employed synths and electronic piano (eventually being dubbed ‘techno punk’). Another vivid example was Ohio’s Devo, aligned with punk’s subversive momentum, but employing execution and performance as unusual as their use of electronic elements.

Contemporaneously were Parisian punk band Metal Urbain, who also employed, like Suicide, synthesizer and also drum machine. Another French trail-blazer rarely mentioned is early eighties performer Mopo Mogo, a pre-techno harbinger who takes Metal Urbain’s concept to a more thumping progression.

Also helping was the punk redux afforded by ‘Post-Punk’, which saw John Lydon’s Public Image Ltd. open the possibilities of punk even more. Now, bands could incorporate and experiment with a wider range of fringe genres including dub, reggae, and other more taboo genres.

Where is the nexus from 70’s punk, to ’90’s dance? That’s a tricky proposition … What’s interesting is how some of Punk’s most devote players and enthusiasts began to drift to the ‘dark side’ of dance.”

For instance, the NYC punk band Talking Heads’ side project Tom Tom Club gained success in dance clubs, while post-punk band Joy Division, after the demise of Ian Curtis, transmuted into the much more synth oriented New Order.

As the more challenging and more aggressive elements of the first wave of punk began to be co-opted by majors and refurbished commercially as ‘new wave’, their developed a more comfortable predilection to incorporate synth, dance-based elements into the fold.

It also fomented a desire to reclaim ownership of noncommercial music back into the underground. Boiling dance music down to a more cutting edge ‘new’ recipe, Chicago was introducing ‘House Music’ with it’s sub-genre ‘Acid House’ spreading to the UK.

So, where is the nexus from 70’s punk, to ’90’s dance? That’s a tricky proposition to pinpoint conclusively. What’s interesting is how some of Punk’s most devote players and enthusiasts began to drift to the ‘dark side’ of dance.

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Clockwise from left: Adamski, Moby, Atari Teenage Riot, Prodigy.

As some early and prominent examples, Killing Joke bassist Youth would not only became as equally, of not, more known for his affiliations with dub, but even made a career out of remixing many popular acts, and had a dance hit of his own as part of the duo Blue Pearl. Moby, now synonymous with dance/electronic, started his career in hardcore punk band Vatican Commandos (and even well into his stride, was covering punk songs like Mission To Burma’s That’s When I Reach for My Revolver, and Bad Brains Sailin’ On).
Even some of the elder statesmen of punk began dabbling quite explicitly in dance. ‘Pistol John Lydon lent his plaintive voice to Leftfield’s Open Up; German punk-priestess Nina Hagen had a whole album seemingly aligned with dance sub-cultures (including an extended collaboration with house star Admaski); And even Mick Jones of The Clash formed an outfit devoted almost entirely to a club-centric genres in Big Audio Dynamite.

With the alternative boom of the early nineties, music listeners and performers seemed to be relaxing much of the inhibitions that would once have provoked their ire and ignorance. Even Wattie Buchan of The Exploited was casually telling an interviewer he liked certain types of Techno. Whilst the players themselves were also espousing their punk credentials like Meat Beat Manifesto‘s Jack Dangers saying “We’re actually punks, because with samples, you don’t even need to put three chords together.”

What’s more, Techno/dance, once a largely laconic back beat, soon found an outlet for front people as capable of agitating as the first wave of punk in the seventies.”

Interestingly an inversion was seemingly on the ready. As ‘alternative’ became the nineties equivalent of ‘new wave’, i.e. an example of corporate homogenization, soon the once esoteric electronic/techno artists found themselves the nouveau, and some would say only, outlet for disaffected youth, no longer trustful in a post-‘grunge’ world.

What’s more, Techno/dance, once a largely laconic back beat, soon found an outlet for front people as capable of agitating as the first wave of punk in the seventies. By the mid nineties, techno was at it’s most precise, and in both delivery, style, and appearance, it’s front men were becoming something of cyber punks.
As examples, The Prodigy‘s Keith Flint, had a rapid-fire gritty delivery, while looking like Punk’s mad clown in ripped clothes, studs, eye-make-up and, of course, that double-hawk (for further enforcement, they enlisted punk guitarist Gizz Butt of the English Dogs).
Atari Teenage Riot used militant, brazenly political rhetoric, backed by speedy, thunderous beats (even using samples directly from punk classics like God Save The Queen and Sham 69’s If The Kids Are United).

Among Rave’s first stars Adamski also espoused an affinity for Punk (As a pre-teen adolescent he had his own punk band, Stupid Babies) .
And Sheep On Drugs were an electronic based duo, a sort of Pet Shop Boys gone anarchist, which also dabbled with razor-edged guitars. But most of all, amplified their presentation with biting social commentary, very much in a punk vein.

Of course, there are likely innumerable examples of this hybrid taking shape in one form or another. But illustrating the two genres close, unlikely alliance shows the level of punk‘s influence in even the most unlikely of places, and how it continues to give artists of many genres a game-changing outlook on composition, presentation, and content.

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S H E E P   O N   D R U G S

Greatest Hits

1992

sheep on drugs greatest 1England’s Sheep On Drugs weren’t quite heavy enough to classify as Industrial. Too verbose for dance. And they were too electronic to be punk. But whatever you want to call or classify them as, they always bite off more than they could chew in the most stylishly rewarding way possible.

As mentioned previously, coming on like a Pet Shop Boys gone gothic and anarchic on us, Sheep On Drugs had an acidic and analytical sense of commentary. But rather than being arch, they Sheep On Drugs Review 1Vdeployed punk’s penchant for sarcasm and dark humor. Arming themselves with witty retorts and comebacks, the barrel of fish they shoot into more a shark tank with them wriggling barefoot on the edge.

The music, (dis)courtesy of  Lee Fraser, itself is blissfully simple and brilliant, being a rudimentary rather than overpowering mix of three chord electronics, with an intermittently anxious and axe-like guitar thrown in for effect.
But it’s those lyrics, which manage to be playful and prickly, that really perforate. Front man Duncan X, isn’t a singer per say, but WHAT a presentation and presence he is. With a dry petulant delivery, he free flows and shapes the prose with the seasoned dexterity of an author – who’s maybe been forced to spend too many nights doing spoken word above the hum of apathetic and unworthy audiences.
Sheep On Drugs Review 2 VLyrically, Sheep On Drugs manage to pour out a flammable cocktail shaken like spray paint. The vandals ‘victims’ ranging from the usual suspects of avaricious yuppies (Catch 22, Acid Test), religion, American media (T.V. U.S.A.). To the not-so usual: over-privileged evanescent pop-stardom (15 Minutes of Fame), hegemony (Chard), auto-erotic car culture (Track X, Motorbike).

Maintaining an imagination (and assisted by a series of equally taut E.P.’s) while being pointed and direct in their criticisms (‘I saw it in a magazine/I can’t afford it, but it’s definitely me … don’t tell me money doesn’t matter/money matters more than ever‘ – from Catch 22), the music tricks/lulls us into thinking it’s subordinate to Duncan X’s tactless muse, but becomes disruptive yet tactical at precisely the best moments.

sheep QToday, very little of what Sheep On Drugs’ deft debut (even in that title) took aim at, and executed musically has come back with an expiry date. In fact, this would still unnerve the average EDM listener. What’s more, the source material for their cultural and social critiques, even 20 years on, have proven prescient in an age of millennials, money, and #metoo movements.

And not a thread of sheep’s clothing in sight – these wolves have already come out. Wanna play?

What the Critics said…:

“Boasting techno beats and rapped vocals with British accents, [Sheep On Drugs] made fun, club-friendly music that never did anything too original, but was at least commendable for its power on the dancefloor.” – Bradley Torreano, Allmusic.com.

“Terrifying live… Greatest Hits gathers together a few minor indie hits from last year, plus new material in a typically harsh mixture of curt guitar breaks, techno beats, and Duncan’s inspirationally random blatherings. Admittedly, little matches their debut single Drug Music, but Suzy Q and Catch 22 stand out as iconoclastic anthems for an emerging punk movement.” – Tim Marsh, Q Magazine (April  1993).

“I listened to this album in my car when it came out for 5 months straight … Forget what all these other loser[s] say, and get this.” – Tash A. Tobin, Amazon.com

W  A  R  R  I  O  R      S  O  U  L

Salutations From The Ghetto Nation

1993

warrior soul salutat  Now that New York’s mighty Warrior Soul have been gathering some optimistic reviews on the strength of their last full-length (last year’s Back On The Lash), a look at their Geffen era output (with the original line-up) seems only just. Besides which, Salutations From The Ghetto Nation, has become one of those prescient harbingers of the, as of press time, current state-of-the-world affairs, even 25 years later.

   If the noun Geffen wasn’t a tip-off, Warrior Soul were contemporaries of the you-know-who of Nevermind fame. But they, weren’t only there prior (Salutations being LP # 3), but were essentially the MC5 to Nirv’s Pistols: a more controlled and potent political beast, with equal caliber punk credentials.

   First track (and lead-off single) Love Destruction is a metallic attack that aims it’s barrel straight at corporate and political USA – it’s refrain a caustic indictment if ever there was. It’s musical components are no less octane and vesicant, sounding as if it’s tightly woven riffs and charging rhythm section could implode gloriously at any moment.

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   Warrior Soul aren’t just irritable polemicists who coast on autopilot once lift off has taken place. Salutations… contains a wealth of robust and impassioned material ranging from straight up rollicking (Ass Kickin, Punk and Belligerent indeed!), to a broiling ember (the gothic The Fallen, the beautifully haunting The Golden Shore), to chugging, thinking man’s head bangers (the undulating gem Shine Like It, the palm-muted The Party).

Review warrior II Although some may take issue with the full force of vocalist/lyricist Kory Clarke’s choice of prose and projection (he makes living in the political and social climes of America sound like subhuman torture), laconic and dispassionate he most certainly isn’t. His voice has as much gravelly gravitas, as it does pure soul. And his lyrics concisely purge his most righteous indignations.

   Maybe listeners still hang their hats on their well received debut. Or, maybe Warrior Soul‘s stripped bare and furious disaffection with America, articulated in such potent terms wasn’t vague and abstract enough to soften the blows for an increasingly solipsistic generation. But two decades later, Salutations… sounds like a terminal ‘told you so’ for a nation and society that’s gone from bad to worse. And for this, to true and only warriors, we salute you.

What the Critics said…:

“At the moment, Kory Clarke is a prophet raving in the wilderness; he deserves a significantly  wider audience.” – Valerie Potter, Q Magazine (December 1992)

“In what amounts to a near-perfect first half… some of the most refreshingly unique moments of the band’s career are pretty much spoiled by the lackluster string of songs that follow, sinking the remainder of the album in lumbering, uninspired epics topped with Clarke’s political whining.” – Eduardo Rivadavia, AllMusic.com

S  A  R  A  Y  A

When The Blackbird Sings

1991

Saraya   Maybe, possibly, some found vocalist Sandi Saraya (from which the band takes their name, Bon Jovi style, and why not?) a bit of a purist for her staunch reprisals against a vague net of female rockers and their skimpy sex appeal. Which led many to wonder whom precisely she might be referring to: was it, Doro? was, it Lee Aaron? Maybe, Lita Ford? Possibly, Vixen?

  Regardless, it never impacts, at least in terms of content and quality, the band’s second (and last) LP When The Blackbird Sings. Having dispensed with their keyboard player, the band is forced to tighten the coil around their performances considerably. Which here sound more spontaneous and rough, loosening the screws a little on any penchant to soften up for commercial sake.

  Saraya 91 F In terms of lyrical content, Saraya shows a welcome predilection for twisting rock cliches just enough to refashion, if not invert them completely. Opening track Queen Of Sheeba comes across as a linear observation (like a Bobbie Gentry’s Fancy for  Headbangers Ball). But here and there, one can pick up on the analytical pieces as Sandi sings about a nymphet (‘[learning] fast, learned young’) whose life is presaged by being told ‘Some people are just never mean to be heard/Some things are just understood.’

   On Seducer (with some startling docu/field recordings of users and their distressed families) we get a sobering character sketch of a drug pusher (Dr. Feelgood it isn’t), that manages to be genuinely effecting, rather than platitudinal, or worse, vaguely exploitive or celebratory.

 Saraya rev 1  Musically, Saraya deliver a calm, cool, controlled hard rock wallop that can be seductive (Sandi dusts a few pegs off a smarmy suitor on the sizzling Lions Den), enchanting (the soft/hard filigree of the title track), chart worthy (the catchy When You See Me Again), but as a whole struts it’s way smoothly and strongly from beginning until it’s schmaltzy, but lovely end.

   If nothing else vocalist, Sandi Saraya is arguably the astonishing and impregnable focal point of this commercially unsuccessful, but unfairly neglected record. Her voice is a ravishing diadem of class, passion, control, and impossible talent. Could she maybe, possibly deserve a place among the greatest female rock vocalists? That would be, a definitely.

B A R D O T S

Eye Baby

1992

Bardots eyeEven a few ‘Singles of the Week’ in the fussy English papers didn’t seem to widen The Bardots audience, beyond the very few appreciative and astute listeners. They have what you could call a typical indie sound: jangling, echo drenched guitars, refined, sensitive vocals, precise melodies. Where The Bardots begin to trail off the treaded pathway, is with a romanticism and intelligence that’s heady rather than haughty.

And there’s always a severe aura of tragedy in the air. Even those lush harmonies can’t hide the well of regret, unfulfilled expectation, and keening. Opening track Pretty ‘O’ is just many of the examples of superb beauty dancing with a hastily Bardots 92 IIIreassembled broken heart. Cruelty Blonde, maybe the LP’s most divine moment, is the kind of romantic yearning with an unrequited lump in it’s throat, all done with an aptitude, sensitivity, and drama.

If cornered, one could draw a cursory comparison to a more bookish Ride, or a less flamboyant Smiths. But those are just the preliminary findings. The LP is a slow-motion backstroke through a sea wealthy in imagination, superb execution, and a color pallet of mixed, immediate emotions. The Bardots seem to transport us to the emotional places of origin in dream like sequence – like a William S. Burroughs, but with a classicists shorthand; or William Blake with a guitar, instead of a paintbrush.

But the big words and treatises aside, these are just sublime, superb melodies strung like pearls handsomely across the beleaguered, ivory chests of introspective, bookish men, with a flourish of hope on their shoulder.

7 0   G W E N   P A R T Y

John Peel Sessions

1995

70 gween peelTo describe an artist or band’s music as ‘un-categorizable’ can often be a lazy intimation suggesting something too out there or discordant to have any appeal. In other words, it can be a good way to scare off the less adventurous.
But exactly how to define England’s inimitable 70 Gwen Party sure is tricky, but, away we go. They have a less romantic gothic underbelly, but one facing mercurial, frantic interruptions in the form of Fall style experimentation, brazen and bracing samples, and a Crass caliber electronic agenda of pushing extremes, in sound and message. Not quite industrial, not quite electronic, and not quite experimental.

70 Gwen Party image cBut for all the vociferous vehemence, there is an audible attempt to attain and ascertain a specific moment of respite, however vague and fleeting it may be. And much like he did with the Fall, the renowned and respected John Peel understands this duo in a way, not just betrayed by sentiment, but by the scope, momentum, and detail of these powerful, priceless recordings.

You could argue any number of bands during this time were kicking up an ‘artistic’ racket for racket’s sake. The difference here, is that 70 Gwen Party approach it with the totally unexpected and unorthodox  elements instrumentally. But only the chosen few seem to know, for any Big Black or Einstüzende Neubauten to truly transcend the skullduggery that buried so many lesser intellectuals, one needs, buried intricately but covertly within those black holes of bedlam, a very specific melody and destination. And guess who knows how to start that party…?

Pop classics they aren’t. But for sheer originality, power, and invention, nothing is quite as cerebral, bewitching, or even moving as 70 Gwen Party. Maybe not a party, but peeling, indeed.

t H e    R o  U Nd –  U  p :

Neneh Cherry buddy x BN E N E H   C H E R R Y  did the decent and proper thing, returning only a while back to show these newly appointed queens of hip-hop JUST how it’s done

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Cherry Bomb!: Neneh Cherry’s X-quisite single.

(which, by the way, is with class and integrity). The lead single (from her pre-urban friendly masterpiece Homebrew) was the double-standard inverting bounce of Buddy-X. But the maxi is a knock-out with a breezy and polished club mix by Masters At Work (plus their hip-hoppin’ R&B mix).

But the highlight is Falcon & Fabian’s remix, which inverts the sassier original into a warmer, almost downbeat groove of sublime, hypnotic proportion. If that’s not enough, in pops a blustery and brilliant Notorious B.I.G. (fresh from his appearance in Mary J. Blige’s Real Love) in both lyrical and free-styling top form.

Coolio Too HotFurther along the hip-hop vein is C O O L I O ‘s Too Hot single, which, is more or less, just as good a track as the more famous Gangsta’s Paradise. This could easily be the decade’s most sobering and articulate (without being preachy) treatise regarding the AIDS epidemic. Rather than attack the hot topic with bombast and paranoia, Coolio lends the track, musically and in prose, a sort of grace and humanity.
It’s flipside is the album track Exercise Yo Game (both songs are amended to clean versions for radio). A solid, more up tempo track that, like it’s namesake suggests, gives the animated and underestimated rapper a chance demonstrate his flow and wit. And they’re weren’t too many rappers willing to roll-the-dice with a lyric like “When you hittin’ dips better check yo’ clips and/Watch the police and the Bloods and the Crips”.

CL hello BitchesFormer 2NE1 singer/rapper C L really came out in fight-mode with the game-changing ferocity of this continental-meets-gangsta amalgam, Hello B*ches. You barely get a chance to take a decent enough breath, before the unashamedly Asian-centric performer (and what’s wrong with THAT anyway?) starts rhyming like a deferential school-girl mumbling sweet ‘n’ salty nothings under her gear-shifted breath.

Then comes the Bollywood style-chants, and she was obviously just warming up. Her tenacious and taut raps are wrapped delicately in the unassuming assets that are her versatility and profuse star quality. At only 3 minutes this more like hello/goodbye, but this is one unforgettable introduction.

There are people who put out singles with the hit-song, and some inessential live tracks, demos, and some outtakes. And then, there is  C R A N E S. Their 1993 single Jewel is a must simply for Cure singersRobert Smith’s invaluable mix, of the otherwise more Cranes Jewel B

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Gin & Jewels!: Cranes live up to the title.

paired down original. What follows almost clamors to rip the spotlight, even from that.

Second, a typically ingenious and appropriate remix of Clear from J.G. Thirwell (Foetus), giving it a grinding, sample heavy rusted wall of noise, more appropriate for a Chicago Industrial club, than for kids of the indie-cloth. An un-touched original Leave Her To Heaven II, is ever so good in a haunting, delicate, morose way – like seraph tears on an autumnal day.
The excellent single closes with a remix of the beautiful and devastating Cloudless, a Twin Peaks caliber piece, that sounds like the dark-wave mood music for a screen tragidienne. And done by none other than 4AD’s Ivo Watts-Russell and John Fryer, with distinct and characteristic sound-scaping. The title of the single says it all, really.

Mayhem Deranged Here I Go Again And now for a, uhm, Sigue-way into the next tasty piece of digital candy. Ex-Sigue Sigue Sputnik drummer Ray Mayhew plays band leader and front-man of the cleverly knighted M a y h e m   D e r a n g e d. The single Here I Go Again, reveals Mayhew is perhaps better suited standing front and center – he’s an appealing singer with an Idol/Iggy rasp and a bit of Johanson swagger thrown in, and, at 53 he still looks a pin-up.

And the song? Why, it’s pure straight-forward, chunky three chord rock, with a fist pumping, Pistol-popping, punchy chorus. Even the remix is a rave-worthy bauble spiked up a couple BPM’s, but with guitars intact. Play Again!

And speaking of r ‘n’ r (that’s ROCK ‘N’ ROLL my bed-friendly friends) the so-called ‘last b*tch standing’ (sort of) Courtney Love has issued a few rollicking singles (including a Courtney Love Miss Narcisstduet with ex-Wildheart Ginger Wildheart) after the under-rated Nobody’s Daughter became more chart-bomb than cherry bomb.

Her most recent, Miss Narcissist, is a more updated arrangement than the usual 3 chords scraping against a chalkboard approach that, not to her discredit whatsoever, may seem hackneyed in a post-millennial world. This time she mixes rock power with a steady wash of ethereal ambiance, without sounding out-of-breath , or like she’s playing catch up at the musi-nouveau finish line. Lyrically, Love gives some of her best prose in a long while, with a track as refreshingly abstract and painterly as the sleeve. Lovely!

Egghunt Me and YouAnd for the grande finale, we have what could be among Punk’s most sublime and invaluable singles. Egghunt is a 7″ brainstorming the combined talents of ex-Minor Threat members Ian Mackaye and Jeff Nelson.
The result is a post-punkish, forward thinking, double A-side that no modern device should be without. Me and You is a spacious dub-styled workout that pushes past the hardcore rush for an adept, infectious comedown, with a faultlessly catchy chorus. We All Fall Down is even better, a forceful, chunky rave-up. Like a less dank, gothic sounding Killing Joke, or like Dischord’s very own successor to PIL’s Public Image… only slightly out-doing it. Egg-ceptional!

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Drop Nineteens

Angel

Originally performed by Madonna

Drop Nineteens 92 Indiecator IVVFor a period, Drop Nineteens seemed among the most-likely-to-succeed in the American bid to successfully produce, domestically, a thoroughly American iteration of UK’s popular shoe-gaze scene. Their’s, while intermittently as swirling (with their signature hit Winona a prime example), also seemed as devoted regionally to other US indie-centricities: Sonic Youth style noise tunings, Pavement like lo-fidelity, or even Slint inspired signatures.

Among their debut Delaware‘s highlights was a hot-blooded and sincerely spirited take on Madonna’s 1985 single Angel. It seemed by the nineties Madonna was becoming a relatively fond fixture among the alternative cognoscenti, being covered By Sub-Pop’s Supersuckers (along with the aforementioned Sonic Youth), spoken well of by L7 for her ‘messy hair’, and even offered commendation by Kurt Cobain for bringing Vogue into the mainstream.

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Drop it like it’s Hot: Drop Nineteens re-visit Mizz Ciccone.

Unlike others to venture into interpreting the material girl’s vast canon of pop genius, Drop Nineteens volley is resoundingly and thankfully lacking in any of the tongue-in-check shtick, evident previously.
The guitars sound hot-wired and fried for full on faux metal-god solos. And their very subtle twist on the melodies betrays admiration and affection, rather than condescension and disaffection. The way they employ the opening pattern in the original as a breakdown mid-song and then fly tenaciously from there deserves some big plaudits somewhere.

A year later, Drop Nineteens were a much different band (not just in style, but also in
personnel). But Angel could easily be among rock’s less guileless and most innovative covers Mizz Ciccone ever locked ears on.

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Ah, that saying goodbye formality. Such a downer isn’t it? Well, even us respected journalists (‘mmm, maybe a bit of a stretch?’- Ed) need a little bit of tawdriness and meddling in celeb ‘biz to keep us … – humane.
K-pop is such a happy genre, where all the major production companies and  performers are like one big united, happy family who bend over backwards to support and build up each other and… yeah, suuuuuure.
As evidence of the competition and tension (compe-tension?), here’s the illustrious G-Dragon caught red-eyed getting riled at the 2014 Mama Awards. His band member/BF was accepting an award that won out over EXO. As fans screamed ‘EXO!’ over his acceptance speech, Dragon looks closer to breathing fire. The SHADE!

 

Graphic Design/Artistic director: Doran Scott
Words/Writing: Doran Scott
Research: Doran Scott
All words, graphics copyright ©® of Recalcitrant and Editor 2018.

1 Y e a r A n ni v er s a ry !

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    Yes, we back. After a long and miscalculated launch of issue # 5, it’s  R e c a l c i t r a n t  time! Last months cover story on K-pop, I am gleeful to report, prefaced a breakthrough for one it’s subjects, the divine BTS. A mention in People, and a remix of Mic-drop, have put them atop the Itunes top 10. Cool!
We have some sad news to report in the K-pop genre. And even sadder news in the alternative and post-punk worlds alike. But wipe those tears away – because this months issue is, as the English say, a corker. More news, more music, more pan-genre cross pollinating. We here don’t indulge in petty squabbling and foul-mouthed tirades. We see the good, great, and grande. Don’t believe me? Well, read on…

   p.s. I would like to thank Mae Dedman, who provided me with the inspiration and helped crack this months piece about isolated vocals. You da girl!

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D O L O R E S   O’ R I O R D A N: 1971 – 2018

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O’Riordan at the nascent stages of her career with The Cranberries, ’92.

 The world is alarmed to find that the beginning of 2018 has already started on a sad and sudden start. Cranberries lead vocalist Dolores O’ Riordan has died aged 46. Details as of press time are decidedly mum: It was confirmed she was found in her London hotel room, and she was in good spirits in her communications with band members and producer. A coroner’s report has been withheld from publication at this time.
   O’ Riordan rose to fame fronting the successful alternative band The Cranberries (opening for Moose during their salad days). Their first Stephen Street produced record contained the later hits Dreams and the marvelous Linger (with a promo directed by Jean-Baptiste Mondino of Madonna’s Justify My Love fame).

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Woodstock, ’94

  They achieved their greatest success some years later with the anti war chant grunge of  Zombie, which helped the record No Need To Argue go seven times platinum in the U.S. (and saw them awarded the 1995 Brit Award for best international group)

   The Irish born O’Riordan was known for her lush, sharp voice (akin to Sinéad O’ Connor), but also for being more tenacious than many gave her credit for. Lyrically, O’Riordan’s songs often dealt with the severity of war and impoverished countries. Before her death, she had currently been reconciled with her former band members since around 2009, and last year embarked on a tour that had to be discontinued due O’ Riordan’s back problem.

M A R K  E.  S M I T H: 1957 – 2018

Mark E 1      Prolific and prickly post-punk vocalist Mark E. Smith has died suddenly, aged 60, due to complications from respiratory problems.
 Smith was the indefatigable force behind the The Fall, active since 1976, and with a discography with a full-length record for almost every year since today. Smith has remained the only original member, in what was a dubiously rotating rooster of musicians and performers.
   Mark E. Smith was widely regarded in the music press as an uncompromising artist with visceral virtue. And was also noted as a prickly, cantankerous figure when discussing his, or current musical contemporaries or trends. But his influence on music at large is legion, with many in the press themselves noting his direct influence on bands openly accused of appropriating him (such as US’s Pavement).
His best material can be heard during the eighties, the latter half when he collaborated with then wife Brix. Smith was a personal favorite of John Peel, who recorded him multiple times throughout The Fall’s many iterations.
   Smith will be forever known for his droll, matter-of-fact voice which he delivered in a thick Lancashire, England drawl. As well as for his lyrical rhetoric. He was also as fearless and outspoken in person, as in music (his appropriately titled autobiography Renegade… was released just a decade ago), and an invaluable presence in an ever changing, evanescent musical clime unworthy of him.

C H E R : Takes a Chance on Mamma Mia

   Indefatigable Cher will be returning to the screen (albeit briefly) for a sequel to the successful film translation (based off the award winning musical franchise) of Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again. Rushes of her appearance have already been leaked for the hotly anticipated film, scheduled for release close to the end of July.
   Cher herself will also be taking a gamble on the broadway production stage with a new musical based on her life & career called The Cher Show. According to Variety, the show will officially open sometime in the fall.

L 7 : Back from the ‘… Dead‘ with Doc & Songs.

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   All-girl hard rock/alternative band L7 have the reached a commendable peak in renewed interest after their welcome reformation, crested by a new documentary Pretend We’re Dead, and some new recordings.
The L.A. foursome hit a peak in 1992 with their Bricks Are Heavy LP, featuring the signature tune after which the doc takes it name, abetted by a handful of raucous and impromptu publicity stunts (a racy promo poster, dropping their jeans on The Word, and flailing a tampon into an apathetic Reading audience).
By 1994, bassist Jennifer Finch departed, thrice replaced for 2 more full length recordings, before the band parted ways in 2001 declaring an ‘indefinite hiatus’.
Bassist Krist Novoselic had previously made L7 the subject of his own documentary around the time of their 1997 LP The Beauty Process… Their new single Dispatch from Mar-a-Lago is available now for download and on Don Giovanni Records, and they’ve just released another single, I Came Back to Bitch, with a new promo video.

B I L L Y   I D O L: Raising some ‘Yell’ with Summer Tour.

Billy Idol 90   Former Generation X lead singer and successful cross-over punk star Billy Idol has announced several European dates this summer.
Countries he’ll be appearing in include New Zealand, Italy, Germany, Hungary, Serbia, Poland, and Finland. Along with dates in his native UK, Idol will be in the United States prior to this for the Rockville and Carolina Rebellion festivals, respectively.  For further details go to billyidol.net/tour/.

M Y   B L O O D Y   V A L E N T I N E: New album… Soon?

My Bloody Valentine
TRUE ‘Blood’: (from Left) Kevin Shields, Belinda Butcher, Debbie Googe, Calm O Ciosoig.

     After what would the median career span for most bands, My Bloody Valentine finally followed up their landmark 1991 LP Loveless with 2013’s MBV. Now, according to an interview with Rolling Stone, guitarist and primary songwriter Kevin Shields has confirmed the band has been recording new material, which is planned for release this summer.
Shields also commented My Bloody Valentine will be more diligently promoting the new record this time, wanting to be more ‘organized’. And also seemed definitive a major part component of that would be through touring.
In the meantime, you can hear Shields collaboration with Ambient pioneer and producer Brian Eno, the 9 minute sound scape Only Once Away My Son, released at the end of last October.

C A R D I A C S: Tim Smith Health Concern

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Tim Smith (far right), with his band The Cardiacs, ’92.

 Punk/Prog cult band The Cardiacs founder Tim Smith and his friends are imploring fans and concerned alike a decade after complications from a cardiac arrest, in tandem with hypoxia, has left him in dire need of rehabilitation.
A recent statement featured on their website (which can be read in full detail at https://www.cardiacs.net/tim-smith-health-2018/), in part, details Smith’s ongoing health issues stemming from the aforementioned brain injury, which has largely left him struggling to rebuild control of his motor skills.

      It also goes on to document in detail the potential Smith demonstrated for recovery, but an absence of funding for him, and others befallen by similar circumstance. “Currently, there is a battle going on” says the statement signed by Tim, Jim, and Saras “to convince those that hold the purse strings that Tim is deserving of the chance to get the rehabilitation that could improve things for him. The hoops to be jumped within the system are numerous to say the least; even if Tim were to jump them all with ease, … it is STILL no guarantee of funding whatsoever.”
As a post-script, the situation appears to have grown more critical as Continued Health Care (CHC) have enforced revised funding edicts, coupled with Social Care (within Smith’s locality) pulling out supposed financial backing, leaving Smith delinquent (although both CHC and SC are implicating the other as the primary payee), and at risk of of receiving lower grade convalescent treatment.

K I M  J O N G – H Y U N: K-pop Singer dead at 27.

   Korean pop fans have spent the last several weeks in mourning upon hearing that singer/songwriter and performer in band Shinee Kim Jong-Hyan was found unresponsive in a Gangnam, Seoul tenement, and later pronounced dead.
The circumstances around his passing appear to be linked to an ongoing and profuse battle with depression.

His passing has ignited some discussion on social media, and his label mates on the S.M. Entertainment contingent (whom also participated in the super-group amalgam SM the Ballad), have been making vocal and visible efforts to commemorate and support the tragically departed singer.
   Kim Jong-Hyan had been a member of the popular band Shinee since their debut in ’08. He soon became a successful composer, giving his compositions to other S.M. artists like EXO, and later his own solo material (later writing a book Skeleton Flower… detailing his prodigious and growing work ethic). His last completed full-length, appropriately titled Poet \ Artist was released in January.


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   Though often associated primarily with America, England had some grunge mongers of it’s own, and the appropriately named Scum Pups where among the could’ve beens. This has all of Grunge’s elements down to a fine art: the unassuming verse of finger picked  echo-y chords, before a sledgehammer chorus of rasps, and sinking power chords. A pop song wrapped in a metallic, post-Nirvana rush.

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  Even after two years of fronting Transvision Vamp, Wendy James still couldn’t find enough sympathetic ears to make her Elvis Costello penned solo debut an artistic breakthrough, let alone a critical one. Do You know… is a superb highlight, using the showbiz milieu to indict via it’s embittered punch line.  It’s a slow waltzing and slowly rousing gem, giving James the chance to play the delicate tragedienne.

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  Better known as the bassist for most of Dinosaur Jr’s ’90’s records, Mike Johnson is also a welcome presence on many of Mark Lanegan’s solo recordings. But by ’94, Mike Johnson, with a clear deep voice and strong grasp on intimate dynamics, debuted as a solo artist in own right, and hasn’t looked back since. Seperation is simple enough, but his sturdy voice evokes a deeper context.

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   Along with the GBH’s and Exploited’s, there was this hearty and fine bunch of 2nd wave UK punks brilliantly named One Way System. They almost toured with Circle Jerks, but on their own they had things close within their grasp. Jerusalem is a signature tune, calling out a lack of transparency in the punk community. But the song itself is an impregnable rocker, with a zealous rasp, that just lifts that fist straight in the air.

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   You have to give them a little props. When everyone’s gripping about them being ‘sell-outs’ The Rolling Stones just keep kicking against the prigs, and have over a half a century in rock music to show for it. Even in the tricky latter half of the nineties they managed to score a hit with this sexy rocker, with it’s K.D. Lang chorus. Mick has lost none of his swag, and Keith is still a muse for millions.

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   This lament could almost be a cover of an old torch or blues song, it’s so good. The much missed Rozz Williams makes a distressing reference to his ‘mortal coil’: an unfortunate premonition as Williams would be dead two years later, of suicide. With just voice and piano, Williams prose are simply beautiful and heart breaking at once. ‘This is my favorite sad story…’ he sings. Our too. 

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   The fact that this all German speaking industrial band would have a successful single in the late-nineties shows how much the musical climate changed. Nevertheless, RammStein before and after, remained the same fantastic successors of the German industrial mettle (and allegedly beloved by David Lynch). This slick track from their first record is a crystalline piece of damn good record making.

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   Texas’ Pain Teens have been called industrial, but KMFDM they ain’t. There’s is a human horror story of samples, fried guitars and other uncategorizable experiments in three chord rock. Living Hell, however is less an exorcise, but more a straight-forward fuzzing and buzzing downer of a rock song with the kind of pungent, self-loathing lyrical anecdote to make Frankenstein himself shed a tear.

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   We know she loooves rock ‘n’ roll. But this reaaally brings the point home. And rather than simplistic come-hither lyrics, madame Joan Jett comes totally clean about what a cad her romantic interest is. But, she provides the semi-final twist of retribution by the end of verse two. And, she does so over a power chord structure that has stadium anthem spelled all over it.

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   There’s a reason Canada’s Matthew Good Band rose to the ranks like they did. They rocked, but they also had incandescent, sublime works like this. Good’s lyrics are as inscrutable as ever, yet the core ideas seem to creep unlawfully in. His lyrics would be naught without a soaring tune behind it, and, you guessed it, Strange Days is exactly that, and just a devastatingly bit more. 


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   No, you cheeky mares, DANNII Minogue. I can hear the (internal) corrections of : ‘doesn’t he mean Kylie?’. Which, you could say has been the lovely Danni ‘s (sister of Kylie if you haven’t done the math) re-occurring Achilles heal.

   But while accruing a not dissimilar trajectory, she’s proven herself an arguably more accomplished actress (sorry Kylie), as well T.V. Presenter/Personality. And even if she may not have as many chart toppers as you-know-who, she has a worthy discography of Dannii 91 Londonsnappy singles (with over a dozen of them reaching # 1 on the Dance charts) sung with a slightly deeper tone, that would be the envy of any pop star with even half her class and perseverance. Perhaps her best being 1997’s club make-over LP Girl, in which she actually gained a commercial/artistic upper hand over her older sis.

   The X-factor judge has a nifty new single out, Galaxy: a wistful piece of dance pop that’s up there with the best of her material as she approaches her 3rd decade as a recording artist (but if the sleeve is anything to go by, looking as if her musical debut must have been aged 3).

  Okay, so her “oeuvre” may not be anymore intellectually demanding that any other pop star. Whatever.  She’s the last of a generation of beautiful pin-up celebrities who actually had to sing and act and stuff, rather than just show up to the latest club an inebriated hot mess, or post lurid pix on social media that are merely an imagination dissolvent. Put simply: if the Hemsworth brothers had two hot sisters who could not only act, but sing, dance, and also look pretty, they’d be the Minogues. 

Sampled Madonna!: Yessir. Not only has Dannii gone on record citing the Material girl as a major influence on the fledgling popstress (Minogue eventually had a pop hit with a song Madonna allegedly declined, Baby Love). But, capitalizing on the ‘mash-up’ trend, Minogue’s Don’t Wanna Lose This Feeling was remixed with a backing entirely replaced by Madge’s Into The Groove. Groovy!

Dannii 92Married a Nip/Tuck star!: Before his American breakthrough in the series Nip/Tuck, and the blockbuster Fantastic Four films, actor Julian McMahon began his nascent acting career in the Australian series Home and Away, where his co-star was … you guessed it, Dannii! He even appeared in a music video with her, and would eventually be wed in ’94. The union sadly ended by ’95.

Had her own fashion line!: Woah! It’s true before Gwen, Avril, and the Olsen Twins, Dannii had a successful clothing line spurred on by fans inspired by her sartorial concoctions on the t.v. series Young Talent Time. The fashion line sold out in Australian K-marts in less than 2 weeks.


Bleach 91 mainjpg   It may be close to impossible to ascertain today (particularly with the burgeoning ‘shoegaze’ revivalism), but, once upon a time, Bleach were a compelling force just as  industrial strength and permanent as their namesake would suggest.
Based out of Ipswitch (same home of The Adicts), at the beginning Bleach were like any number of other bands aiming for Sonic’ perforation with a ‘Valentine’s kiss – at least at cursory glance.

   But unlike their mortal peers, Bleach betrayed a much more pronounced affinity for early Post-punk (PIL, Killing Joke, Banshees). From Guitarist Neil Singleton’s Keith Levine styled guitar, to brother Nick’s ample, coagulating bass, to Steve Scott’s methodical, spacious drumming… and then, there was their lead singer.

    Vocalist Salli Carlson had a seraph sweet swoon to her voice. But just as emphatically, and with with a split personality like volte-face, could hector with a kind of eloquent command, whatever/whomever the target. Carlson also held in her possession a more varied and articulate way with words and subject matter alike. Unlike even the best of the shoe-gazers, words were not just ‘sounds’.

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   Bleach (formed in 1989) debuted with Eclipse EP, which starts with the straight forward indie fair of Decadence. But it’s what follows that provides the real wallop. Wipe It Away is a hostile, proletariat/working class fit recited against a flickering and intense drum before a haze of flayed guitars burgeons blindly by. Carlson never resorts to noxious screams or empty pyrotechnics to demand attention: She conveys all the tension and desperation while maintaining a deferential poise that almost amplifies every raw nerve.
   It concludes with Crimson ‘O’ , which takes Siouxsie & the Banshees Metal Postcard and turns into a sepulchral, swirling masterpiece which ends it’s 8 minutes plus with some dour cello, and a protracted tantrum of guitars. A truly memorable end to a brilliant debut.

   They followed with Snag EP. This time showing an explicitly tuneful side with Seeing and Dipping, maybe their catchiest. The one that got people’s attention was the jangle-choked-crunch of Bethesda, reportedly about a small town with strong, far-reaching cells of incest. 

Whether because the recording’s performances were merely off, a lack of new ideas, or playing it too safe were that inscrutable gulf standing between good and great, is a matter of conjecture. “

   The knock-out is the 6 minute emotional tirade Burn. At a time when many young women were approximating rage with decibel slaying roars and screeches alike, Carlson takes a less obvious approach, but comes off to penetrative effective. She captures the vacillating, fractious mania of a scorned women with both uncommon vulnerability and disquieting vitriol (these two releases where compiled as one self-titled disc in Germany) .


   Their last proper single before releasing their full length was Shotgun, a spacey and buoyant track with great riffs, and a snappy rap breakdown by Carlson that’s become their signature. But again, it’s the rest of the material that really shines. Bone is another treasure with intriguing lyrics and an unfussy, emotionally complex melody, that’s just simple rock ‘n’ roll at it’s most affecting and effortless.
Bleach live 2The 10 minute b-side First & Last is a corker. Divided into what starts as a moody, crawling piece of nineties style post-punk, before an abrupt sea change slows things to a Slint-style crawl. It eventually gallops back towards it’s intended destination, but not without a series of mercurial dips, upon which Carlson returns to invoke a series of pleas amidst the churning, plunging maelstrom. A must.

   Then came the anticipated full-length, Killing Time. It’s hard for one to quite put a finger on why this isn’t as resounding as the last three recordings (critically, this was to be their first domestic introduction outside Europe). There are certainly many highlights, and the songs individually are up to par with what one would come to expect.

  Perhaps the switch from 3 song format to long player was a trickier transition than appreciated. Original engineer Nigel Palmer (who participated in all their recordings) still understands how to capture their distinct aura and sound. But whether because the recording’s performances were merely off, a lack of new ideas, or playing it too safe were that inscrutable gulf standing between good and great, is a matter of conjecture. 

  One component could be Hans Venmans heavy mastering that over-rides both band and engineer with a sonic overload that mutes all the band’s subtle impact. Compare Killing Time‘s mix of Shotgun and First (now abbreviated to half) to their previous iterations, and the latter are much clearer and less nondescript.

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   But Bleach still manage to make a good, if not stunning, accounting of themselves. There are a clutch of genuine highlights including the flawless Trip & Slide (released as a single in the U.S. in a slightly remixed format, along with the fine Surround, issued as a promo in edited, LP, and remix versions), which captures all of their velocity, emotional and instrumental. 

   Carlson’s sublime Paint My Face sees her assume a protagonist repressing her autonomy for a suitor’s shallow ideal. While Push addresses the age-old dynamic of a family’s aggressive ‘motivation’ masking their own vicarious self-fulfillment. Headless‘ main riff threatens to spin wildly out-of-control, before regaining semi control for it’s lush chorus, before tumbling back for it’s conclusion.

Although their name is routinely coughed up when discussing Shoegazing’s golden age, a more thorough review almost expels the comparison.”

   Killing Time reached the independent top 10, but was not as artistically profound an entity to crest the attention, momentum, and wonder that their 3 EP/Singles carefully accrued. Not to mention consumer confusion when Nirvana’s debut Bleach was re-issued through English distribution concurrently (the advent of other bands named Bleach after their demise didn’t help). Critic Jason Ferguson’s deduction that Bleach were a ‘soundalike’ to Th’ Faith Healers is wholly inaccurate. Bleach follow a precise, methodical, and vulnerable trajectory that’s the polar too the free-style ‘lurch’ing bedlam of Th’ Faith Healers.

   Although their name is routinely coughed up when discussing Shoegazing’s golden age (they were included in the genre’s 2006 anthology Like A Daydream…), a more thorough review almost expels the comparison. This by virtue of performance (forceful rather than passive), style (Post-punky rather than dream-poppy), and content (explicit rather than vague).   But like any bleach, once properly absorbed, it’s only that much harder to wipe it way.


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J A R V I S   C O C K E R

Jarvis C AfterJarvis beforeForget the Blur and Oasis fued, or Elastica’s legal woes for ‘borrowing’ from Wire. Brit-pop’s greatest star was  J a r v i s   C o c k e r . As deft and deadpan as any writer would dream to be, and, when the occasion called for, a tragic analyst of lower/middle/upper class,  for the superb cocktail of acidic irony, Pulp.
But it wasn’t all Brit award headlines and top ten hits (like the classic Common People). In fact, would you believe Pulp formed as early as the late seventies, and by ’83 had released their first record? They remained in the modest echelons of the indie-pop for another decade, before the breakthrough in the brilliant His ‘N’ Hers, and Different Class.
But our Jarvis, stylistically, had a few kinks to iron out… almost literally. With a frizzy plume of hair and heavy pair of spectacles (even the occasional facial hair), he looked a shade unassuming: like a lanky Smiths fan still in his first art-school semester.

   Some time later, he slicked down his mane, but kept the glasses, and kept to a strict wardrobe of V-neck cardigans, and well-worn vintage items of dress. But by the nineties, Cocker started asserting his chicer side, ditching the specs, grooming his hair into a slicker side-part, and branching out outside the indie parenthesis of dress: opting for smart suits, glamorous dress shirts, but cultivating a keener eye for vintage flair. Not so common after all, eh Jarvis.


B E Y O N D   U N P L U G G E D

How isolated vocal tracks

can be an instrumentalists loss, but an artist’s gain.

   Who would have thought, that in the music market’s many repackaging and reissues of best-selling or landmark albums, future audiences would actually have a thirst for the many suppressed outtakes, alternate versions, and even demo versions of their favorite songs.
Even more unlikely is the clandestine rise of a capella or, isolated vocals from any number of songs. While initially this sounds like a dull and pointless exercise, isolating vocals performances can often reveal the true brevity and nuance. What’s more, in what could be music’s oldest tradition, singing a capella can often break down genre specific barriers, creating an experience more intimate and naked.

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O’ CONNOR: Nothing compares…

  Among the more astute performers to implement  sole vocals on both record and performance (deliberately and before it was de rigueur)  was the misunderstood Sinéad O’Connor. In fact, she quite possibly could be the rawest, rarest of talents to truly come alive and transcend the margins of a capella. In fact, even her most depreciated records always have a standout in their marvelous lone vocal track. In fact, her most stunning example of such was her notorious SNL performance which by itself was a stunning piece of anti-sexual abuse protestation read defiantly through Marley’s War. That it was eclipsed only by her defiant dismantling the likeness of the then Pope by hand, speaks for itself.

   Some of rock’s greatest moments, shed of their thunderous backdrop, become powerful totems that strike the same raw chords, but from very unusual and unique angles.
Take for instance Soundgarden‘s Black Hole Sun. Listening to the cadences in Cornell’s delivery, especially when he hits those gravely high notes, is almost chillingly beautiful.

   Equally in depth is Alice In Chains breakout Would? Finally vocalist Layne Staley is getting some respect for his distinct, diminutive voice, and this vocal track, stripping away all the music, is a haunting, wrenching example.

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CORNELL: Outshine the ‘Sun’.

   Pantera‘s Phil Anselmo could be dismissed as a Black Flag/Priest fan with an optimum growl. But listen to Hollow, were Anselmo demonstrates the full dexterity of his voice going from a peerlessly controlled croon, to guttural galvanization without barely enough time to blink.

   Stunning too is Disturbed‘s brilliant take on The Sound Of Silence. Vocalist David Draiman knocks the pneumatic life out of the original, and scorches it bare-handed with  a hearty, impassioned roar.

   But it’s not only rock that’s making the solo voice a revelatory experience. Say what you will about clean cut pin-up Shawn Mendes, but listen to a live performance of him singing Mercy (with the full band deleted almost entirely), and you’ll hear some breath taking intonations that elevate him beyond the auto-tuned nobodies he’ll get lumped with.

In what could be music’s oldest tradition, singing acapella can often break down genre specific barriers, creating an experience more intimate and naked.”

   Ditto for Lady Gaga, whose tributary rendition of Sting’s If I Ever Lose My Faith, amplifies the fact this lady, at her core, is quite simply talented as heck. And even Justin Bieber singing Love Yourself live (leaving just the scratch vocal) enlivens a new respect.

   But even more mighty is Michael Jackson’s isolated vocal for You Are Not Alone. A beautiful and disarming reminder of what was lost, yes, but also what we so undeservedly gained, even during these ‘tabloid’ years.

   There are many other examples (Twenty One Pilots‘ goner is stripped to a truly striking affect; Judas Priest‘s Night Come Down reveals an invaluable, glorious stalwart in Rob Halford), but for the most part, many of these isolated vocals provide us the audience an insight and vantage from which our senses can digest the recordings we otherwise very easily take for granted.


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Bee‘-witched. Bothered. ‘Bee‘guiling!

Q U E E N  B E E, 1955.

Queen Bee 55

   She spent the thirties making her film company (MGM) millions. Then made a triumphant, Oscar winning comeback in the forties (Warners). A decade later, the movie star to end all movie stars found herself adrift in a precarious existence of free-lancing and one-offs. And, it’s profound although ultimately sad, that even today, the same grim reality hovering over her, also does any actress upon whom father time is creeping up: middle-age.
   Besides that, Crawford usually played the strong, but sympathetic fighter in a world of privilege and/or patriarchy threatening to topple her.
   With youth behind her, Crawford the actress was proving to be at least, a seasoned, maturing interpreter whose strong personality perforated her most well-groomed, feminine attributes. But at her best…

   Crawford‘s commitment and authenticity in playing the manipulative, hypocritical, but clearly insecure and domineering dowager is a divine balance of movie mechanics, and nuanced character immersion. “

   Queen Bee is an exiguity in the Crawford canon, in that, she plays, not the central heroin, but the claws out ruthless villain-ess. The film itself (purchased by Crawford and directed by Ranald MacDougall, whom she hand picked) is a respectable foray into familial psychology/dysfunction. But it’s the psychopathy of reigning ‘queen’ Eva Phillips (Crawford) that is the incendiary wick that’s slowly dissolving this dysfunctional house of wax.

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Killer ‘Queen‘: Crawford Slays as Eva Phillips.

  The film is fine: dramatic, well-lit and engrossing. But it’s Crawford who is the revelation. Her commitment and authenticity in playing the manipulative, hypocritical, but clearly insecure and domineering dowager is a divine balance of movie mechanics, and nuanced character immersion.  

   She’s never mannered or over-the-top. In fact, for some of her detractors, Queen Bee is Crawford‘s perverse Blonde Ambition moment where we watch her pull away the tinsel from her brittle public image (in her scandalous autobiography, adopted daughter Christina Crawford related how Crawford‘s portrayal of Eva Phillips was so true-to-life, the heroin’s grim finale invoked Christina to nightmarish proportions).

   Above all, it shows Crawford is worthy and capable of roles requiring a more complex, and analytical approach. Just watch the scene where her ruthless antagonista breaks down tearfully, after realizing the sobering consequence of her deceitful checkmate.
   In Queen Bee Crawford proves her mettle with a convincing, delicious characterization others would play too dull, or too superficially flamboyant (in one scene between the beleaguered husband and herself, he attempts a stipulation: ‘I’ve made a decision’ he says. Crawford, without missing a bitchy beat, replies ‘Really darling? A whole decision, all by yourself?”). All hail the Queen.


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fashion Ph Andrew Eldritch

   With a voice that’s part Leonard Cohen, part Ian Curtis, Sisters of Mercy front man and impresario Andrew Eldritch is as infallible a figure aurally, as his visually. Going almost nowhere with a pair of shades and well-worn leather jacket, from his beginning in the early ’80’s, and over a decade on, Eldritch has a knowing flair for keeping it fresh, and uber-cool..  He’s practically solitaire in the department, which keeps him from being the butt end of death-rock jokes, as far as ice is from vapor.                                                                (Clockwise, far right) Eldritch in ’88 adds a flower to his lapel, and with short-lived facial hair; ’92, cropped hair, and slick motorcycle boots; late ’00’s, Eldritch goes blonde; ’87, ‘Stop, thy does protest me own coolness’; ’90, Eldritch grows his hair head-banger length and endorses flowery turtlenecks to dangerous proportions; Mid ’80’s, after he ditched the side-burns and fedora.; ’92, sleek combo of tattered trousers and new romantic top.


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RM ALBU IIV

S U P E R   J U N K Y   M O N K E YScrew Up, ’94.

SuperJuMo Scr   Words escape. Metaphors, comparisons … almost useless, obsolete. Such is the dilemma facing one trying to describe, with any accuracy and justice, just what universe Super Junky Monkey takes you in, through, and out of.

   Super Junky Monkey is four Japanese ladies that sound like they’ve been locked in their rooms, and told not to come out until they could play their instruments blindfolded. They also sound like they’ve been sneaking out of the house to the local record store to devour as much Bad Brains, Fishbone, and whatever metallic, funk inspired noise they could get their hands on. The result is a spell-binding detonation that almost blows a hole out of the ’90’s grrrl group glitterati.

Super Junky III   Unlike other well-known Japanese girl bands like Shonen Knife or 5.6.7.8’s, Super Junky Monkey are neither ironic nor adorable. They are behemoths with the musical and idealogical prowess to leave any of their male contemporaries scurrying, panting with their tales between their legs, bloods of tears careening down their faces.

   This record goes from Helmet-style riffing, to beefy funk, to trance like hip-hop, to the kind of kind of Jap-psych that comes almost without even a second thought. Screw is nothing to laugh at.

   And it’s not a USA alternative appropriation either – far beyond it. It’s a twisted, high velocity motor-bootied beast drawn in anime, but unleashed in 6-D. In other words, it’s totally awesome, terrifying, exhilarating, and exciting. A screw up? As if. But again, words escape. Except maybe a couple: Buy this. Now.

G I T A N E   D E M O N E, Stars Of Trash,’99.

Gitane Star   After departing L.A.’s irreligious icons Chrisitan Death, Death Rock’s own Marilyn Monroe Gitane Demone began her solo career with dalliances in a number of genre’s that, above all else, showcased her superlative, piercing, and torch-y voice.

   A decade into her career, she hit a stunning emotional and creative peak with the rock abetted lament Stars Of Trash, a glittering, engrossing, and grande tributary to what appears to be a series of personal losses, or even the misbegotten who’ve lost their way. Despite her classically sturdy pipes, Demone is at her best as the gutter-glam rocker, and here’s she gets an appropriately toxic and buzzing backing on Rock ‘N’ Roll Child and Solitary War.

gitane De review   But she doesn’t rest the weight of interest on mere performance or style. She comes prepared with some very personal, but very well crafted material. There’s also a wider berth for Demone to place herself within more musically restrained, eloquent settings, and arouse even more affecting ardor.  Valentine for instance could almost be an edgier, gothic Bette Middler – which is a very good thing indeed. But she’s no drama queen, able to caress great amplification from a mere hush as on  The Only One.

   She gets starkly personal in addressing those she’s lost for whatever reason, as on the down tempo guitar delay of I Lost A Friend to Heroin. Most sublime of all is Shangri-La-La-land, a crushing, chorusy chord progression, that floats aloft some hazy synths. It could easily be about the late, departed Rozz Williams, her former band member/collaborator (who took his life just a year prior to this record’s release). To make that point as emphatic as possible, she ends the record with Memoriam, where she addresses a ‘dear friend’ with the last line ‘you have left me…’.

   Stars Of Trash, despite such a variety of style and mood, is an altogether brilliant work, thoroughly complete and harmonious in content, arrangement, tunes, and range. Gitane Demone. Not for a second trash, but definitely the star.

A L I C E   B A G, Alice Bag, ’16.

alicebag   Ever since the King of Pop pulled up alongside her intrigued as she stood waiting to catch sir Elton (true story!), L.A. punk Latino harbinger, and all together dynamo Alice Bag won’t be going complacently or quietly, even at 60 years young.
In factthis new record is a two-hands-ringing-your-collar knockout, that retains a steady quotient of Bag‘s forceful and inimitable personality, along with a wise(r) world view that doesn’t poop her (s)punkier self’s party. And, unlike her punk contemporaries as doomed as Darby Crash, or just excessive as Belinda Carlisle, Alice Bag hasn’t let drugs or other rock clichés eat away at her talent and tenacity.

alice bag IV   This self-titled LP is like the comic book heroine of every thinking girl/woman’s dream: She’s feisty, articulate, introspective, and a consummate underdog. Bag and Bag is remarkable. Whether gnashing her teeth on garage-y, surf-y punk (Hypocrite, Programmed, Modern Day Virgin Sacrifice), or more dialed down, melancholy ersatz girl-group (He’s So Sorry, Weigh About You), our Alice has this in the b.a.g.!

   Lyrically Alice Bag has lost none of her analytical, witty bite. In fact, she’s gained. Topically ranging from domestic abuse, body issues, mid-life philandering from a female victims perspective, or the judicial double standards threatening women, Bag is in top form. Never sounding militant or shrill, she instead sounds impassioned, and in full control of whatever end of the emotional spectrum she needs/decides to be on.

  The LP ends with a duel Chicano imbued twist, even sung in her native tongue for the wistful conclusion. Altogether, Alice Bag, the record, the woman, could very well be the among the last, if not only, genuinely vital forces in rock we have left.

M O N S T E R   M A G N E TDopes To Infinity, ’94.

Monster Magnet dopes   Providing a genuinely erudite appreciation for the Progressive Rock pantheon, Monster Magnet hit creative pay dirt with Dopes To Infinity. Whatever audiences and critics had to say about the bands previous releases (including one release on Caroline that featured a diminutive 32 minute track), this record comes full (out of?) bodied, flowing in an aurora of dazzling authenticity to the Prog-fathers, but with one ace-of-spade: great rock tune-age.
But Monster Magnet aren’t entirely re-using and recycling. They’re basically a ballsy rock band with great tunes, filtered through a kaleidoscope of psychedelic nuances and bursts, and a convincing, swelling sense of tenacity.

Monster Magnet 92 II   The LP is a thrice strong starter with the slow-motion head banging of the title track, then the all out rockin’ Negasonic Teenage Wasteland. Followed by Look To Your Orb For the Warning, which despite a head-scratching title, stills brings us a soft cocktail of descending barre chords, before a bellicose D tuned thump lumbers through.
Elsewhere, Monster Magnet show an invigorating level of variety, whether dialing it down to mere acoustics, or pushing the mellotron aside to just rock out, they got this. They still fry things up cerebrally for the finale, going out on a looping, trans mutating, hallucinogenic groove. Simply put?: Dope.

R A Y   L A M O N T A G N E, Til The Sun Turns Black, ’06.

Ray Lamon Sun   On his second album, Ray Lamontagne manages to seduce and intoxicate listeners from spitting distance by the sheer magnitude of his pure, soulful voice, and the intimate, stark settings he casts them in.
Folk rock can be an iffy proposition both in a market producing yet another singer/songwriter by the bus load, or by it’s learned ‘heard-it-all-before’ enthusiasts quick to map the path back to the Tim Buckleys, Nick Drakes, etc. And for anyone less than a casual listener, it can just be another arduous exercise in hackneyed, overly sensitive schmaltz.

Ray Lam   Lamontagne is another beast, possessing a gritty, throaty, and affecting set of octaves (sort of a more refined Mark Lanegan), which he sets hauntingly to some potent, introspective, crushing word pictures. Lamontagne’s work is almost gothic in nature, as the LP’s namesake can only hint at. The arrangements allow him to breath and bleed out his greatest woes and reservations in a hush or howl that’s almost impossible not to be moved by (as the penultimate and disquieting title track demonstrates).

   But it’s not all dank and dire: he also allows some old school soul to appear au natural, and even when it’s just guitar and voice, at it’s core, Ray Lamontagne still leaves us with breath-taking glimmers of hope and respite. He has an edge and sincerity that, on this priceless record, make him shine like the sun, if ever it turns black.

 

THE   R O U N D U P : Singles/Maxi/12″/7″/Remixes:

(Clockwise starting with large image) GD X TAEYANG’s, Good Boy (Digital Download) is one track download that’s an electro-sonic, hip-hop masterpiece with a smooth, mellow chorus, and a glitch-y beat that’s so catchy, it’s practically a felony. Good? ‘Tis Baaaaad!; ELECTRIBE 101, Talking with Myself (Maxi) is a ’91 single filled with the juiciest set of remix’s you could ever demand be stocked. The original is a seductive, savoir-faire-centric sachet down a love-at-first-sight dilemma. There’s a jazzy mix, a piano mix, extended mix… a remix master 101; DEPECHE MODE, Walking in My Shoes (Maxi), is a toxic sounding and contrite piece of redemptive religiosity that’s appropriately flanked by grunge-y bass/guitar, and stark piano. They spared no experiments with choice of remixers, and the results are essential with credits including Portishead, but it’s William Orbit who steals the show. Also includes the marvelous My Joy.

(Clockwise starting with large image) ABRASIVE WHEELS, Jailhouse Rock (7″) is among the more genuine and playful covers of the rousing and totemic Elvis staple. But original B-side Sonic Omen is even better. A ragingly catchy three chord rocker that makes it’s namesake suggest something playful and invigorating. A keeper.  THERAPY?, Stories (single) is a string assisted fist pumper from the otherwise bleak masterpiece Infernal Love. An alternate version that deletes the back beat leaving the string arrangement is interesting. But Consolidated’s remix of Isolation is a grinding, nine-inch-nailed, loop-centric industrial slab which barks AND bites. TRISOMIE 21, Come Into Paradise (Man Is The Mix, remix album) France’s Trisomie 21 have been releasing great Dark-wave, ambient styled music for well over 3 decades. This 2004 remix is an intoxicating chill-out that elevates the remix to seductive art form, rather than redundant, repetitious fodder.

TRANSVISION VAMP, If Looks Could Kill (Single) Tran Vamp didn’t always exceed themselves in the b-side department. But their last single, the under-rated bauble in bauble in consideration here, had some tasty delicatessen fresh outtakes on offer. My Friend the Tom Cat is a breezy, vintage little come-hither track with a snazzy organ line courtesy of keyboardist Tex Axile. The highlight is Puppy Dog Tails, a high-NRG dance/rock number that, while short on much of melody, still manages to impress. GERI HALLIWELL, Look At Me (Single) the debut of ex-Ginger Spice was a Vogue-style romp, made only more indelible by a comical Britain’s Got Talent contestant. But judging by the two remixes included (particularly Terminal Heads ripping, glitch-y reconstruction), Halliwell might have been better off playing it less safe in pop, than in Dance. CHER, Strong Enough (Strong Enough, Single), was a disco-centric hit proving Believe was no one-off. This begot the new generation of remix masters able to get their paws on her material and make dance-floor worthy. Above all is arguably the Club 69 Future Anthem Short Mix Edit, which throws out the syrupy sentiment, and lacquers it into a pumping work-out. So good in fact, she used it for the the intro to her tour shortly after.


   See, now wasn’t that a laugh? Not ha ha laugh, but a smirk-inducing and informative look into rock/pop, pop/rock, rock, and… okay, okay a little pop.

   What’s next? Coming soon we’ll be discussing the million dollar discovery that lost a million dollars… umm, we’ll explain later. Plus, a new portion about some lesser known, great covers and their performers. And, just maybe, the dance/punk, metal/punk connection. Whatever tickles my fancy. Cheers for viewing, peace. P.s., this junk is copyrighted dear children.

 

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Another month (umm, or more, ah-hem), another rollicking rampage through the crannies and nooks of the genre that’s gone back to the underground, whether by choice or necessity.  This month’s installation comes perforated with much tears and regret over the truly stunning departure of Chris Cornell, this months top story.

Maybe by design, this month has a certain grungey feel, with other gen-x themed tales of railroaded L.A. goddess (and Nirvana label mate) Inger Lorre. Also the bald and the beautiful. ‘Whatever does this mere child mean?’ you ask. Well, you know which way to the move screen down, don’t you. Then off you go, and enjoy another bone grating, sweat soaked post from…


 RM News IIV

C H R I S  C O R N E L L:

 R.I.P. 1964 – 2017

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The world is both deeply shocked and saddened upon learning of the abrupt demise of among one of Alternative Rock’s most immense vocal talents, Chris Cornell.
His death was almost immediately reported as suicidal in nature, but his widow had attempted to supercede this with an alternate treatise, citing his death as the possible result of complications from prescribed medications (such as Ativan) which may have compromised his inhibitions, and/or augmented suicidal tendencies.With the release of his autopsy, it was confirmed by a coroner his death was the result of suicide by hanging.

Cornell had initially began his nascent musical career behind the drum kit before being coaxed into vocals. With Soundgarden, he was not only a vital participant in helping bring Seattle’s distinct crop of metallic punk/punk metallic bands to a larger range of listeners (from metal to mainstream). But was among the first to procure major label backing.

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Soundgarden, 1989, photographed by Michael Lavine.

The band was generally both critically and professionally successful (aided by touring with more established acts like Guns ‘N’ Roses) But they achieved their greatest stroke of crossover appeal with 1994’s Superunknown LP, and it’s signature single Black Hole Sun, aided by the MTV award winning promo. They were eventually (with a handful of other nominations beginning as far back as ’90) awarded a handful of Grammy’s for the LP a year later.

After Soundgarden’s disbanding in 1997, Cornell focused on solo performances and releases (which he previously showcased on both the Singles and Tank Girl soundtracks). But his most popular second act was as vocalist for the singer-displaced Rage Against The Machine, eventually performing under the new name Audioslave.

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Soundgarden, 1992, photographed by Mark Seliger

As of 2010 (with Audioslave dissolved a few years prior) Soundgarden amended the previous tensions that hastened their end, releasing and touring new material, their first in some 15 years. It was amidst performances (as well the possibility of a new LP ) with the reconvened Soundgarden that came the unsettling news. Besides Pearl Jam’s Eddie Veddar , Screaming Tree’s Mark Lanegan (whose Uncle Anesthesia Cornell produced), and handful of others, Cornell was among the last of a handful of Seattle/Grunge’s first wave of lasting celebrities survived by the thread of other untimely and drug-related deaths (Andrew Wood, Kurt Cobain, Layne Stayley).

Cornell leaves behind a priceless catalogue of supreme vocal performances, not just with Soundgarden and Audioslave respectively. But also as the primary vocalist of the evanescent Temple of the Dog. A band and record devoted entirely to commemorating the memory of Andrew Wood. Backed by former Mother Love Bone (future Pearl Jam) members Jeff Ament and Stone Gossard, some Cornell’s most invaluable vocal performances can heard here (along with Eddie Veddar). A recording that, heard now, is all the more prescient considering it’s intent, but also for it’s lyrics, such as these (from Times of Trouble), which are almost painful presentiments:

Don’t try and to do it/Don’t try to kill your time/You might do it/Then you can’t change your mind/You’ve got to hold on to your time til you break through these times of trouble


M A N I C  S T R E E T  P R E A C H E R S:

Send Away the Tigers Re-Issue!

Yes, to mark it’s first decade in rotation, the Manics have re-issued their 2007 top 5 LP RM MANISend Away the Tigers. They’ve spared no expense with the compact disc version coming buttressed with 2 discs worth of bonus materiel, AND a DVD of a their Glastonbury showcase the same year.

Not to be left out of the increasingly lucrative vinyl market, it will also be issued on LP, with bonus material that includes rare studio and cassette demos from the record’s playlist to entice even the casual fan.

The record is considered pivotal in reorienting the band both creatively and commercially after their two previous LP’s left their usually solid critical backing questioning the Manics foothold at rock’s forefront.

In other Manic’s news, a new documentary about the band, Escape From History is creating some buzz. It is said to detail the period of renown surrounding their dark masterpiece The Holy Bible, and the misfortune suffered by the disappearance of Richey Edwards, and their resounding breakthrough with Everything Must Go in his absence.

J O H N  L Y D O N :

PIL Documentary and Brexit Reactions

RM 4 LYDOIn more documentary news PIL frontman John Lydon is also the prime subject with a new doc entitled The Public Image is Rotten. It premiered at New York’s Tribeca Film festival near the end of April, and will have it’s second screening this June at the Syndey Film Festival.
Lydon (whose Mr. Rotten’s Songbook was sold out even before official press release) has also garnered some attention for his more sympathetic and non partisan stance regarding current U.S. President Donald Trump, and specifically Brexit. While describing Trump as ‘complicated’, he did concede the U.S. media were culpable in ‘smearing’ him.

As for Brexit, Lydon addressed the issue on ITV stating that the proletariat had spoken and that “…I’m one of them and with them”.

Meanwhile, figures from the rock world have been and remain fragmented as to their stance: Morrissey, like Lydon, was surprisingly favorable (calling it ‘magnificent’), but his former band mate Johnny Marr derided the majority as ‘not knowing what they’re doing’. Other nonplussed citizens were Liam Gallagher (‘Stop the world I want to get off’), Damon Albarn (‘Democracy failed us’), and Portishead’s Geoff Barrow (‘Well done you f—ing idiots’).

E X P L O I T E D:

Wattie Buchan on the Mend

RM 4 WattAfter completing a two month tour of Europe (including dates in Germany, Spain, Italy, Netherlands, Serbia, Croatia, and Switzerland), the band have announced on their Facebook profile that two dates have been cancelled after a practitioner advised vocalist Wattie Buchan to suspend any further performances . The band went on to state that his “his health really is in a bad way”, so much so he has been checked into a London clinic for a period of a month or more. The band have decided to resume performances as scheduled at the Motorock Festival in Slovenia, sans Buchan. We wish Buchan a full a happy recovery.


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The great pop song that never (nor nearly) was, ex-Thieves and later Bernard butler collaborator McAlmont was an immaculately voiced and flamboyant chanteur of the first hierarchy. Either is a shimmering guitar/R&B message-in-a-bottle that kicks the quiet out for it’s chorus of snarly guitars and detonating drums.


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Forget Days of Thunder, ex-Lone Justice vocalist Maria McKee is best heard when her sharp, shivering , superb voice wraps around it’s own congealed air and defrosts like a warm, glittering mist. Breathe is a simple, twang-led roll through an arduous hill of love’s ‘flame’. Translation?: Damn fine stuff.


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Long standing institution 2nd wave punks who put their money where their mouths are… if they even have money to put down to begin with. Rats doesn’t resort to quick ‘n’ easy punk by-laws of fast/loud/vulgar. They have too much thought to invest and be gleaned. Rats is priceless punk polemic with that divine lyric: “All that money spent on war/could be used to feed the pooooooor.”


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Do Erasure ever get the respect they deserve? People care more about Vince Clarke having started and left Depeche Mode and Yaz respectively.  But as recent compilations prove, they were as tight as Pet Shop Boys, and less gothic than Depeche Mode. And vocalist Andy Bell is a godsend prima divo no one got around to giving bravos to. This is high-octane modern disco, dramatic and tragic to the core with lyrics and melody only an aged probation officer could resist…and even then.


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Former Godflesh cohort Justin Broadrick spuriously deduced the once behemoth Head Of David’s drum-machine based direction as ‘Bon Jovi’ calibre. Whatever, …Primitive is still an industrialized pound of (un-fleshly) grade A rock, with calm, collected, and billowing riffs. Not to mention vocalist Stephen R. Burroughs controlled grit. This may not slobber with the same scabrous tenacity as before, but it’s still has flavor in every bite, and is smooth to sink your teeth into. Grrr!


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Sometimes linguistics can be a deterrent to a non francophile. But only the most insincere could fail to find Parisian’s distinct Metal Urbain remarkable. With a vague, choppy electronic drum beat, they make other punks-of-the-month look moribund by comparison. Their oeuvre should be appreciated as a whole, but this performance of Paris Maquis serves to tantalize.


RM 4 CICE

He had matinee idol looks, made anything he wore look runway ready, but most importantly, composed his own material. No wonder he was procured by the Pet Shop Boys nascent label Spaghetti and groomed for stardom. For whatever reason, it never happened on a scale he audibly deserved, but this is exhibit B in the defense gallery for wistful, willowing, club-thumping pop ballad of ’92. Expect no worse than a hung jury.


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Wedged between The Adolescents and the terrific D.I. (who later recorded a version of this band’s Duh’ Youth In Asia), was this wonder of a punk band from California. Their recorded output is poultry to say the least (one 7″, only released a few years ago, and a demo at that). But the Agnews could do no wrong at this point, and although there’s almost little known from their vocalist Jay McCarty (who helped start the band with a then 11 year old Alfie) , the exiguity of his work in no way diminishes his protracted menace and delayed charisma.


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An astounding and impregnable piece of metal by blokes competing with rugrats half their age. Songs rarely grab you out of your comfy chair barely 1/3 a second into it’s start time, then leave you white knuckled , gasping for mercy 1/3 a second after it’s over. Is it heavy? ‘Yes’ would be an understatement, and with drummer Scott Travis, it’s even more painful, and twice as killer. Genius!


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The great Miss Amos has an equally deft and expansive way with covers (From Nirvana to Rolling Stones). All of which she lends her distinctively femme-centric world view with both an elaborate and intimate hush. She made a full-length of covers, all written by men, and all interpreted by women. Joe Jackson’s Real Men (a song questioning the status quo’s prescription of masculine standards) makes perfect sense coming from her, and she gives it a kiss of subdued, glorious life.


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RM 4 AMUS ARM 4 AMUS BHard to believe (but not really), but Nirvana front man Kurt Cobain, looking more like hardcore, gut-busting take on Neil Young, actually gathered much if his initial spark of punkish inspiration from premiere Stooge, Iggy Pop.

After all, Pop gathered much of his notoriety from his wild dervish of a stage presence. Nonetheless, along with calling Iggy his ‘idol’, Cobain told MTV in 1993 that Pop was “pretty much the only person that [sic] I’ve that I really, really admire.”
The feeling was evidently mutual with Pop commenting that the first time he saw Cobain perform at the Pyramid in NYC he thought “Oh dear, this boy’s got the s**t”. According to his widow Courtney Love, it was alleged post-humously Cobain had even allotted a song he had penned specifically for Iggy.


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At a time when a ‘rock’ band requires little more than the staid rudiments of shaggy coif, ten day stubble, and flannel dress shirt, that minute cluster of time when a rock band knew how to dazzle the mind, singe the ears, and blaze the eyes is as entirely evanescent as it is invaluable.
The sensational phalanx of misfortune that begot L.A.’s sure-to-be-huge Nymphs could almost write itself: band makes headway, band gets signed, band’s record is shelved, band’s exasperated singer tinkles on the desk of her record company (true story), band implodes. It all sounds like a wild script even a soap opera scenarist’s belief would be laid incapable of suspending. But it happened, and in even more gritty technicolor than any prime fidelity film-strip has yet to be invented for.

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Nymphs, in L.A., 1989.

The band is often cited as either contemporaneous of Jane’s Addiction (also L.A.) and Guns ‘N’ Rose, or largely a hybrid of both whose trajectory many predicted they would, in the least, rival/equal. This kind of cheer leading happens almost all the time, to any number of bands. But in the rare instance of the Nymphs, it was as equally inevitable, as it was deserved.

Already having signed G’N’R, the Nymphs completed record was inexplicably postponed, which, not to their unwarranted chagrin, began draining the oxygen from the initial anticipation.”

Not only possessing a glittering edge, but they had that flaming haired, one-in-a-billion vocalist of theirs, Inger Lorre. Looking more like Ziegfield Follies beauty resuscitated back into the turn of the 21st century, and fed nothing but The Stooges and L.A. punk, Inger wasn’t no dress up dolly pushed to the front. She was a talented musician and composer in her own right, and much of her contemplative, tortured prose only embellished a great band further (so great, in fact, Iggy Pop insistently requested drummer ).

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What sours the story by this point is their first contact with record company Geffen. Already having signed G’N’R, the band’s completed record was inexplicably postponed (Lorre claims Axl Rose further complicated matters by manipulating office politics to spirit away the band’s producer for his own means), which, not to their unwarranted chagrin, began draining the oxygen from the initial anticipation.

What’s more, by the time Geffen did release their divine, faultless debut in 1991, was also around the same time they achieved unprecedented success with, yep, you guessed it, Nirvana’s Nevermind LP, a striking success that all but threw a neutralizing gauze on the band’s once bubbling excitement.
To add poetic injustice to injury, Cobain’s soon-to-be wife Courtney Love, aired some soiled laundry with her debut LP, Pretty On The Inside, by interpolating an acrimonuous phone message from Lorre in which she calls Courtney ‘Stupid’, and that her ‘reputation is sh*t in this town’. Lorre’s complicated relationship with Love was never officially mended.

:Nymphs promo for Imitating Angels, a song Lorre wrote for a friend who committed suicide. A sadly appropriate track under the circumstances.

To attenuate an already disenfranchising experience for the band, tragically, Lorre’s fiance, Sea Hags bassist Chris Schlosshardt, died of a drug overdose, and so substantial a tragedy it was, it pretty much hastened the end of the Nymphs (Lorre denies she was terminated, as has been reported). Prior to their saddening end, Lorre was featured in a European television show performing a demo with Jane’s Addiction bassist Dave Navarro, which clearly alludes to the prematurely departed Schlosshardt (this track has never been officially released by either party, and is not known to be available.)

Lorre eventually connected with another doomed talent, Jeff Buckley, who can be heard singing back-up on Theif Without The Take her 1999 solo LP Transcendental Medication.

 

In the great and only rock ‘n’ roll fashion, The Nymphs lived fast, died young, and left a good-looking corpse. And one that still leaves her finite inheritors eating glittering dust under a fabulous, indefinite shadow.

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Inger Lorre, photographed by Michael Lavine in 1991.

RM ETER IV

J  I  L  L    E M E R Y

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Was In A Girl Goth Band in the ’80’s!: Yessum! Jill Emery (b. 1962) started her bad-to-the-bone bass playing career in an L.A. goth band Super Heriones with Eva O. But leaning more towards the punk and metal pyrotechnics in their sound helped augment them above their peers in the L.A. scene. Madame emery would re-unite with Eva later…

Quit Hole, and lived to Tell About It!: True and True! She had joined the bracing monolith that was Hole in ’89 (shortly after the demise of Super Heriones). But after Courtney decided to take the band in a less bracing, more pop direction, Emery put her foot down and turned on her heel leaving Hole and the million selling record to come in her rear view. The gall!

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Played with Rozz Williams!: The ever worthy Emery, while primarily Hole’s bassist at the time, also moonlighted for Shadow Project, featuring former band mate Eva O. AND thee Rozz Williams. She is featured on some of their earlier records.

Was a Latter Member of Mazzy Star!: Not content with coming through a sojourn in three bands unscathed (not including her own band Teardrain), Emery was a contributor on Mazzy’s Star’s 1996 LP Among My Swan. Perhaps somewhat more dialed down than her previous musical outings, but also shows our Jill has no limits.

Is Currently an Artiste!: Woah! Jill Emery, a painter! It’s true. Forget all this riot grrrl nonsense. Miss Emery has REAL art to create and tend to. Her work has been described as “outsider… folkified art”. Rockin! To check out her edgy and cerebellum splitting pieces go to: http://jillemeryart.blogspot.ca/


RM ITHA IIV

F E A R , SNL, 1981.

Among U.S. hardcore’s most celebrated and legendary (and often romanticized and exaggerated) preliminary shock waves was L.A. antagonists Fear and their stunning appearance on NBC’s Saturday Night Live in fall of 1981.

Invited at the behest (or conspiracy as some entertain) and on the verbal stipulation by former cast member John Belushi, Fear’s inclusion on, of all things, a live taping, even on clear white paper seems like a combustible accelerant in a still punk-paranoid early ’80’s.

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Fear seized the moment, enlisting a cattle call of punks to demonstrate the authentic energy of the burgeoning underground punk scene. Among the enlistees were Minor Threat’s Ian Mackaye (who some claim can be heard hollering ‘New York Sucks!’), Negative Approach’s John Brannon, and Cro-mags John Joseph (who recently regaled listeners of the Turned Out A Punk podcast about the experience, also editorializing about the phantom participants who later claimed to have been present).

The performance itself is still a corker of vituperative goading and unbridled bedlam, by both band and audience alike, of course, all in love/hate jest. It was all too much for SNL producers who, before Fear could start their third song, faded abruptly to commercial. The band would be permanently barred from ever returning.

Fear first performance on Saturday Night Live (1981)… and their last.

In it’s aftermath, there were a variety of reports as to the estimated damage, some claiming it incurred upwards of $ 20,000. Frontman Lee Ving, took it all in hyperbolic, droll aside telling the reporter after being asked about the damage, that it wasn’t $10, 000, “…we caused $500,000 worth of damage, … ‘cause we’re professionals, and I counted the damage myself.”  It would later be confirmed the potential arrears where no more than $40.


RM 4 Bria II

In the Shortlist of most genuinely recalcitrant , transparent ‘pop-stars’, the gifted, but beleaguered Brian Harvey is nothing if not the top of the lot.

As primary vocalist for the so-called ‘boy band’ East 17, Harvey, and composer/member Tony Mortimer, achieved a status capable of rivaling the then nabob’s, Take That.

Where East 17 deviated was in their rich inculcation of more rough, real, and roughshod style, which bled into everything from their sartorial and lyrical style, to proposed deportment and stance. None of which seemed overly inauthentic, but, as a selling point was countered by seemingly strict guidelines that proved his crowning glory, to his achilles heel.

On their debut record Walthamstow East 17 addressed the usual laddish distractions (with an alarming frankness). But the majority of material, musically driven by Urban, House, Pop, and Hip-hop, dealt with issues ranging from the ethical (the laundry list of political woes and objections in “I Disagree“), social (“House Of Love”), and mortal (“Gold“).

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Harvey, 2nd from left, is seen with the band in the early ’90’s. Mortimer is kneeling at front. Left and right are Terry Caldwell and John Hendy, respectively. The latter make-up the most current iteration of the group.

They improved upon this substantially with 1993’s Steam, interpolating Slim Shady calibre hard hitting raps, but achieved their first number one with “Stay another Day“. Sounding like a drippy ballad at first, when one realizes it’s actually addressed to Mortimer’s deceased brother who committed suicide (“I touch your face while you are sleeping/and hold your hand/don’t understand what’s going on/Good times we had return to haunt me”).

And at the core of this is Harvey’s marvelous voice. A truly great instrument that infuses all of Mortimer’s material with the grit, soul, and pathos it demands.

In what would become the subject of less conjecture than tasteless comic relief, Harvey claimed he had woofed down three baked potatoes, which caused him to disgorge them by leaning out his car, which ultimately rolled over him.”

But of course, pop bands are never or even rarely meant to outlive their 5 record contracts, and East 17 were not immortal enough to keep the usual disenfranchisement of tension, changing tastes, and whatever else at bay.

But, if anyone ever let their genuine selves prove to be no fetter especially considering their teenage audience, it was the roguishly charming hip shooting Harvey. He got himself ceremoniously shown the nearest exit by his band mates after his loose and frank comments regarding the use of E, which, depending which report you believe, he is said to have openly recommended as “cool”, even suggesting their use could improve one’s person (Harvey insists he was railroaded by the group’s management).  Considered so crass, these sentiments were even a topic of conversation in British Parliament.

East 17 perform their number 1 Stay Another Day on Top Of The Pops.

Harvey has released solo material, sadly it’s been ignored, and, in an even more disconcerting bid, entered a Eurovision contest, only to be eliminated early on. As a result, his public relations has become as progressively alarming, dramatic and episodic as his brief stint on I’m A celebrity…Get me Out of Here.

Harvey’s began to gather concern when, in what is widely considered a suicide attempt, he ran over himself with his car. In what would become the subject of less conjecture than tasteless comic relief, Harvey claimed he had woofed down three baked potatoes, which caused him to disgorge them by leaning out his car, which ultimately rolled over him.

The extensive damage the accident caused Harvey was so dour, he required 12 hours of surgery, and it was feared he would be unable to walk without the aid of a wheelchair. He thankfully recovered, as feisty as ever (including a truly bizarre episode in which he figuratively opened up shop outside Downing Street, insisting to see Prime Minister David Cameron,  with a colossal binder which he claimed would corroborate a paper trail indicting the government had embezzled money from him) but his ills turned from physical to mental, when he revealed he had been coping with severe depression.

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Brian Harvey’s public art installation: stills of him smashing an award bequeathed to him by the music industry.

In one of his most astounding and reckless acts of auto destruction and frustration directed towards the music industry, which has largely disowned the singer, he was accompanied and recorded by bystanders on a mobile phone taking a gold record shadowbox, presumably presented to him, and demolishing it in a furious fit, book ended by the vitriolic post script “THAT’s what I think of yer f**king music Industry.” It’s an easy gesture for today’s so-called rebellious ‘punk bands’ today to deride the music industry… without even selling a handful of them to begin with. But it’s a truly daring soul whose actually sold that many records to make such an unbridled, condemnatory statement with the hubris to back it up.

His former band mates attempted a re-union as part of televised series of comebacks (which also included contemporaries Eternal), but his presence soon became unwelcome. Nonetheless, Harvey remains a tenacious, true blue bad boy, with a mo-hawked heart, and a voice and heart of a seraph. Still slinging it (quite literally as reports surfaced for a time of him being on ‘benefits’ and entertaining serious suicidal ideations), we hope Brian hangs in, and, stays another day.


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B I L L Y   C O R G A N

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… A F T E R!
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B E F O R E …

Despite being dissed by Kim Gordon and falling out with one-time significant other/collaborator Courtney Love (not to mention confounding and even incensing long-time fans), Corgan remains a prolific, gifted writer among the alternative/’grunge’ glitterati.

Before the boldly bald head he adorned for the latter half of the ’90’s, in the beginning, during his days on Indie labels Caroline and Hut, Corgan donned tresses just a couple inches longer than the aforementioned female contemporaries. A couple years later, and with the success of Siamese Dream, Billy axed the Axl-esque inches, exchanging it for a more boyish, unassuming coiffure. Perhaps all the time he spent playing all the instruments on that record gave him limited time to fuss over his curly and unruly mane.


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COUNTER CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Never afraid of extremes in her personal statements lyrically, visually Ani Difranco was no preening kitten right from the offset. She’s been every color, had every length, braid, dreadlock. But at the beginning difranco was totally shaven, adding the odd plum of wild hair for measure.; Every white mans nightmare, the supremely talented Skunk Anansie vocalist Skin was statuesque, gorgeous, talented, and even she replaced her shaven head with ringlets could scare you into oblivion.; Pop smart duo Banderas. Their best song She Sells, speaks of women being used as objects to sell anything ‘from an airline, to a cheesecake’. And with shorn heads, they weren’t blowing hot air either.; If anyone stands as devoted to the shaven head, while still maintaining an ethereal beauty, it was Sinéad O’Connor , not even pururbed when comedian Andrew Dice clay dubbed her spuriously as ‘that bald chick’. Joan Jett goes bald on Roseanne, to celebrate the turning of the millennium; Parisian born, L.A. resident Rachel Rosenthal, was a radical and renowned performance artist, and leaderess of the most striking bald heads.; It was an effective embellishing stage t(r)ick when Silverfish’s Lesley Rancine would whip her jet black hair around, but going clean shaven made her even more dangerous and singular than the other riot missies.


RM ReRe

RM ALBU IIV

L A R D, Pure Chewing Satisfaction, 1997.

Jun18_03 IIIVJun18_04 IIIVA collaborative volley primarily between Ministry’s Al Jourgenson and Jello Biafra, upon the initial reserves of the notion this most-unlikely-to invokes, Lard ends up creating more surprises, not only because it works, but because it challenges the two performers from almost dissimilar fields, which in the process breathes life into each other’s standing genre.

Biafra by this point is already prolific in a variety creative and political roles. With one indelible band legacy behind him, a new career as a comedic polemicist in spoken word, and having become Tipper Gore’s primary opponent, Biafra’s wit, rancor, and elastic voice could never have been better.
Jourgenson is no Johnny-come-lately either, not only co-founding the long standing and evolving Ministry, but also a variety of energetic side projects (including Palehead with another punk primary, Ian Mackaye), that toned his fluidity as armchair aural assassin.
Operative since at least 1990, they hit a shattering stride with this incendiary, atmospheric LP that sounds like a creative, industrial strength detonation. That, for intent and purpose, should’ve been the coup de grâce to the profusely diluted state, both in content and substance, of what ‘alternative’ had become.

Hard to swallow for the faint of heart, but even more to chew on for the rest… but satisfaction nonetheless.

What the Critics said…:

…a dark, frightening look at everything wrong with America. The lyrics are pessimistic and apocalyptic in the extreme.” – Adam Bregman, AllMusic

While the songs are politically themed, the actual feel of the song isn’t as serious as most political anarchy songs are. Lard was quick to become a lighter Ministry: just with a different singer.” – Blindsided, Sputnikmusic.com

The result is adenoidal banshee-wailing over great crushing walls of buzzing guitargood, loud, rebellious summer album, and it’s a blast to listen to.” –  John Krewson, A.V. Club

B O B   D Y L A N, Together Through Life, 2010.

RM 4 BOBD IVAfter a walloping semi-make over with 2006’s Modern Times that brought an exciting edge to an already profound 50 year career, Dylan showed a renewed vitality that stayed course with Together Through Life.
Exchanging the once clear throat and caricature nasally delivery for a guileless Waits-ion croak, Dylan brings a refreshing life and complexity to his body of work with a maturity and creative renewal. One that nearly no one else with his position or prolificacy would even bother or successfully mount with results teeming with as much spark as this.
Dylan’s writing is sharp, entertaining, and uncluttered in this collection of songs backed with a vintage sounding backup of outlaw countrymen who can both boogie and barnstorm, like they do on the finale It’s All Good, but also bring down the house with a slow boil of bluesy lamentation, à la Forgetful Heart.
So distinctive from his previous iteration, it’s sharply divisive to anything he’s done prior. But if this is the second chapter, we clearly haven’t seen nothing yet. The times are a changing, and it’s all good.

Amateur video of Bob Dylan performing Forgetful Heart in Istanbul.

N I C K   C A V E  &  T H E  B A D  S E E D S, Let Love In, 1994.

RM 4 NICK IIThere’s a reason ex-Birthday Party singer Nick Cave has been able maintain such a reverential standing with peers and press alike: his records are stunning. Let Love In is no exception, finding the magnificent Cave in rare form offering one treasure of a song after another on a collective whole that’s wildly menacing (Loverman, later covered by Depeche Mode’s Martin Gore and Metallica), to gloriously, beautifully dirge-like (Nobody’s Baby Now).

The high point, or heartbreaking, devastating low point, is the penultimate Lay Me Low. An unprecedented lament in which Cave envisions himself posthumously being collectively besmirched and inspiring ‘a sigh of relief’ among those survived by him. It’s a movingly articulated soliloquy, that has to rank as among his, if not music’s, most fiercely elegiac transcriptions.

You know an LP is a stunner when it’s book ended by two versions of the same song, Do You love Me?, one introductory, one haunting, and both seem as vital and distinct as the other. Certainly, Love is one way to describe one’s affection for this spectacular masterpiece. Do yourself a favor, and let love in.

Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds promo for Loverman.

G O D F L E S H, Pure, 1992.

Lots of bands were kicking around both before and during the time of this LP’s release. And even more could unleash a restless blast of dungeon ‘n’ dragon like roaring noise. But the true artistes aspired to something more than just noise-as-punishment wallpaper. Only a handful invoked something genuinely brutal, but at the same stripped it of it’s wily shell, encouraging the cohabitation of an ethereal, almost fragile component into a narrow, soulless void.RM 4 GODF III
Godflesh, take the extremes of early Swans, and shade them with an impressionistic and introspective inner choir, allowing it to incubate in an otherwise cold and hostile environment.
But beyond the emotional landscape, Pure integrates a number of striking musical dalliances that give it a variety to match it’s pungent and mercurial transmutations. Hard to explain without difficulty the true scope of a record as vociferous a behemoth as this, but Broderick’s balance is game-changing, mind boggling, and somehow heart wrenching. A stunning accomplishment, pure and simple.

Godflesh’s promo for Mothra.

U . X . A ., Come Back To Haunt You, 1980.

San Francisco’s U.X.A. (United Experiments of America) fronted by the wonderful, smokey hued voice of singer De De Troit, remain an invaluable part in the seam of San Fran’s indigenous punk scene.RM UXA
Troit’s phrasing is almost a direct silkscreen taken verbatim from Johnny Rotten. But she infuses it with her own languorous, but feline intonations, and her vocal tone is pure golden.  The band knocks out some distortion fried licks in a beat that’s everywhere from galloping (Tragedies), to traditional (the acute and undulating Paranoia is Freedom), to menacing slow core (the marvelously moody Death From Above, which ends in a fit of raved up aggression). Maybe not as legendary as The Dead Kennedys or even The Avengers, but at the very least a solid collective with a true blue grande front woman, who’ll surely keep coming back to haunt you.

U.X.A. live performance of Death from Above.


RM SCREEN III

S M A S H I N G  B U M P K I N

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Hoodoo Ann

1916, Silent, B&W

Directed by: Lloyd Ingraham:

While most are generally loathe to sit and watch an antiquated, Victorian silent film for any longer than it would take a 12 year old to turn a Barbie into a skinhead, acquiring that patience can lead to some wonderful, even profound discoveries.

Hoodoo Ann is considered director D.W. Griffith’s (who wrote the screenplay under a pseudonym) less legendary strokes of overall innovation, at that year. But Griffiths ‘less legendary or innovative’ is other people’s rare masterpiece.
The same equation applies to the films star, Mae Marsh. Griffith conducts simple, fairy tale-like symphonies with another hand that’s whimsical, Dickensian, and stunningly gritty, even by today’s ‘standards’.

Marsh plays the titular protagonist as orphaned adolescent. Marsh’s comprehension level and brilliance in finding a successful balance in the impossible task of trying to imbue her characterization with enough rudimentary drama for the average film goer, and yet bringing her own complex disembodied undercurrent is, simply put, masterful.

You could dispel Griffith as exploiting systemic problems to dystopian histrionics. But history has, and even continues, to validate his bracing worldview.”

Griffith, as writer, refuses to make the milieu of the orphanage anything less than what it actually is: a cruel, harrowing, and unnaturally cold arrangement, environed by a psychologically exhaustive Darwinian caste-system. You could dispel Griffith as exploiting systemic problems to dystopian histrionics. But history has, and even continues, to validate his bracing worldview. And director Ingraham (an actor, also credited with directing a segment of Intolerance) shows he’s benefited gracefully under the tutelage of Griffith.

RM 4 HOOD 2Ann, despite salvaging a self-centered, nasty little princess from a fire, is absorbed by guilt for stealing, or ‘borrowing’, the girl’s doll which she coveted, but whom her detractor refused to share with her.  Anne eventually finds a home, even the romantic interest of a lad in her adoptive parents block (played with amiable grace by Robert Harron). But when she fires an antique gun in an attic (re-enacting a scene from a film), and believes she’s wounded and killed her neighbor, her past deed serves to presage what she feels is retroactive clemency upon her… until the expected denouement.

Despite it’s simple (but clever) plot, it’s a marvelous example of Griffith’s storytelling, and the magical vice grip storytellers had on their craft. It also shows Griffith could spot a star a mile-away with one eye closed, and Marsh is no exception, proving her invaluable worth with her warm, funny, and heartbreaking performance.


RM TIME III

A n d r e w   W o o d,  1966 – 1990.

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There could be no better way to bookend this months edition than by commemorating the first casualty in Seattle’s vanguard, the talented Mr. Wood.  Not only was their a great deal of bonhomie between him and Cornell, but almost everybody can testify to the same feeling in their associations with him.
Wood was also something of an anomaly in the Seattle scene, shamelessly capitulating to his Glam tendencies with his first band Malfunkshun, forming it at only fourteen years old, which enabled him to entertain his elaborate and playful penchants.

With Mother Love Bone, Wood arrived a seasoned, but still an exuberant and boundless talent.  To illustrate how invaluable and brave a talent he was, Wood was the Freddie Mercury to Kurt Cobain’s Neil Young: both able to compose punchy crossover rock songs, but balanced with an introspective side. They may have come at rock from almost polar ends of the spectrum, but in terms of talent, they were practically equals.

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Of course, Wood, battling herion, may have been the first of Grunge’s elite to pass in such circumstances, but, would unfortunately not be the last. It is widely known friend Cornell and the remaining members of Mother Love Bone would coalesce for the Temple Of The Dog LP, which featured Eddie Veddar, whose vocal audition on a separate occasion the remaining nucleus of Mother Love Bone would enlist before it transmuted into Pearl Jam (in fact, Pearl Jam’s first single Alive, was originally composed by Andrew Wood under the title Dollar Short).

It seems Wood’s premature demise off (t)his mortal coil continued to have a profound effect, not just emotionally, but creatively, sending an ironic ripple of success to those so mused. After Pearl Jam, Alice In Chains guitarist/lyricist Jerry Cantrell wrote his own song eulogizing Wood and the circumstances surrounding his death: that song, Would?, featured on the Singles soundtrack (along with Mother Love bone), proved Alice in Chains commercial breakthrough.

RM 4 WOODBut all this talk about the help he gave in aiding other people’s success, makes one wonder what his own deserved success might have been like: his cover on Kerrang, Spin, or even Rolling Stone? Top ten album? MTV video music awards? It’s almost too profoundly bitter and tragic to fathom. But, even if he hadn’t, without him, we may not be discussing any of Soundgardens, Pearl Jams, Chains, or dare one say Nirvanas, without the golden hearted, perfectly pitched, priceless personality of Andrew Wood.

If his stilted whirl at stardom was a crown of thorns, than believe him when he calls himself ‘stardog champion’. ‘Dog’? Hardly. ‘Champion’? Undoubtedly. Star? Absolutely. Worthy of a temple? Never more today, never less then.


And, on that lachrymose not, R E C A L C I T R A N T  bids you a slight farewell, until next time. Special thanks go out to Gareth Thomas of Wales for helping provide me with all the magazines that help give this blog the pix and kicks it needs, otherwise we’d all be stuck looking at stick figures with mo-hawks. Also thanks to those who’ve subscribed, what an honor to have your attention. And thanks to WordPress for giving me the opportunity to make my wild dreams a reality.

P-O-P- Z I L L A!

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…Late, but ever so fashionably so. It’s been long… w a a a y too long. But here we are, discussing pop, rock and… Madonna?! Hey, here at Recalcitrant, we give a high-five, a slap on the back, and even a shiny smiley face sticker to anyone who tickles our creative fancy.

   This month, somewhat in abbreviated form (at just over 5000 words), we look at rock in a pop place.  But, not to groan begrudgingly my head banging babies, there’s more than enough of the rock you love (or hopefully will come to love) to keep you perfectly up at night. So, why are you wasting your time reading this introductory nonsense? It’s Recalcitrant 5, celebrating 100 views!


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R A N C I D: New LP & Tour.

   Yes, you’ve probably already heard (the news, even the album itself), but Rancid‘s new album Troublemaker, is available as a digital download and in vinyl format. To coincide with it’s release, Rancid have commenced a North American tour that will end in late August. The so-called ‘Boston to Berkeley’ tour will be headlined with Dropkick Murphy’s, and also includes The Bouncing Souls, Kevin Seconds, and Jake Burns of Stiff Little Fingers.

Rancid
Out come the wolves? Critics sharpen their teeth…

 Reviews for the new LP (produced by Bad Religion’s Ben Gurewitz) have been both favorable and pointed. Rolling Stone Australia criticized the album claiming that “nothing grabs you by the throat with the life-affirming power of their classic mid-Nineties output.” While AllMusic reiterated that basic reservation saying “Troublemaker is exactly what a Rancid fan would expect a Rancid album to sound like” and that their “sound can’t help but feel a little too safe and sanitized.”
However others, like Pitchfork, while referring to the band’s arrangements as “ephemeral and formulaic”, ended a  positive note as saying it’s as “good as a latter-day Rancid album gets…”. And Drownedinsound.com who called it “classic Rancid” and a “…return to force”.

R I D E/S L O W D I V E: LP’s here after 20 years!

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A pair of ‘shoes’: Ride & Slowdive make up for lost time.

   Yes, Ride‘s new album Weather Diaries is now available for purchase and download, their only proper full length since the deleted 1996 LP Tarantula. To buttress this exciting re-union LP, Ride will be embarking on a steady international tour beginning in July, well into mid-December. The tour will also include a number of appearances at festivals including the the Green Man Festival in Wales, the Pitchfork Music Festival in France, and the Rolling Stone Weekender in Germany.

   Fellow ‘shoegazers’ Slowdive meanwhile have also issued their first proper recording in over 20 years, and have been getting some sterling praise that was largely withheld from them since their original activity. The self-titled LP is also being supported by a number of cross country tours that, according to their official website, will see them in Germany, Denmark, and the Netherlands in September/October. Then in North America throughout late October/November.

H E N R Y   R O L L I N S: Return of Henry & Heidi Podcast!

   After almost a year, Henry Rollins popular podcast Henry & Heidi is slowly making a comeback after it almost abruptly ceased broadcast. Due to an overwhelming schedule of performances, both spoken word and in front of the camera, the podcast was temporarily postponed. But, in the last few months, has been making baby steps toward activation, with recent installments regarding the conception, publishing, and aftermath of his Grammy winning book Get In The Van, and even his first, his first concert, and ultimately last sojourn into mind-altering drugs (!).

C O U R T N E Y   L O V E: Playing by the Roles!

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Hello Kitty! Love plays a wealthy mum.

 In what may arguably be her most important and substantial lead role since the late nineties, Courtney Love has completed the Lifetime picture Menendez: Blood Brothers. The film is a dramatic reconstruction (based on court manuscripts) of the notorious slaying committed by the Menendez brothers (motivated by allegations of abuse), Erik and Lyle, of their wealthy parents Jose and Mary Louise “Kitty”, played by Love. Love was given a much more challenging role compared to her other biographical portrayals, as, speaking to Good Morning America, the actress explained there was very scant available resources to base her interpretation on in either text or archival footage.
Love is also currently working on an autobiography, with plans for a return to recording to begin soon after.


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There’s the dilettantish way of paying homage to underground art, and then there’s PJ Harvey‘s gob smacking clip for Mansize. Whether she actually draws from artist Pipilotti Rist is immaterial, Harvey’s bold b&w one shot video is as rudimentary a protestation to the state-of-art video, then and now. And the Steve Albini produced song is as emasculating as it is immaculate. 


Usually known for their more humorous lyrical antidotes, Dead Milkmen‘s Secret Of Life is among their more wistful, bittersweet songs. Allegedly inspired by a cult, the band can’t but help to ham it up for this promo which is blockbuster in wild execution of transliterating, if not budget. Secret…, whatever it’s premise, is still a forlorn gem.


Suede-headed girl duo Banderas would probably fit in more comfortably today, both visually and even stylistically. But in ’91, their swaggering Stephen Hague produced single She Sells, a splashy, smartly observed and versed analysis of women used as bait for commerce, didn’t get the justice it deserved. Mostly because they didn’t sell themselves as glamour-pussed pop princess’.


Underneath the gravelly voice, trashy biker attire, and misanthropy-swathed stances, lie a band with arch sensibility, and good ear for a sing-along melody. Anti-Nowhere League played themselves off as the roughest of bunch, but For You is almost romantic in it’s pristine chorus of allegiances and bonhomie. Like old-school rock teddy bears swathed in chains, shades, and Ace of Spades. Metallica was allegedly listening.


Although much of what got passed along as ‘alternative rock’ in the latter part of nineties pretty quickly betrayed itself as redundant assembly line skronk, Canada’s Matthew Good Band was an undisputed and sparkling exception. The morose but less showy torment of Good makes his compelling lyrics an even greater asset.


Although everyone wants to believe the rise of punk on a national scale only convened post-Nevermind, history shows some where making modest, but even more radical attempts to supplant mediocrity. TV series New Wave Theater was the last bastion of genuine art, and among it’s many stunning guests was Unit 3 & Venus. A sterling concept of punk parents allowing their remarkable 6 year old daughter to front them.


Sometimes compared to B-52’s, Voice of the Beehive, true, had two female vocalists, and cavorted around in colorful get-ups, while singing eccentric songs of love and loss alike. But Beehive are not 60’s revivalists, and their songs have a sincerely poignant angle of people offering more than good stuff. Monsters and Angels is remarkable pro and con from the female vantage point with a popping chorus.


Diamonds are forever, although Diamond Head got a bit of flak for being too ersatz Zepplin. No indication of that here, on this punchy, power chord charger, with marvelous vocals. Could almost pass for a more skilled take on punk, certainly encapsulating all it’s energy and easy abandon.


In a world where the rock ballad can often be translated ‘schmaltzy’, ‘histrionic’, ‘fluff’, only a precious few can come through the other side with the same grit they’ve spent hours trying to establish before. Skid Row had that most under-rated of vocalists and lyricists Sebastian Bach, and this is totemic example of his tortured lyrics put into full, mighty swing. But when he hits that high note during the end, he brings down the house in one breath-taking exhalation.


As one non plussed Youtube commentator expressed, Killing Joke, besides the Beatles, have to be the most ripped off band in history’. Indeed, no song could corroborate that argument more than this, a thrilling, disdainful, and facetious swipe at the Thatcher/Reagan era. For those who think they’re ‘copying Nirvana’ might want to remember this is called living in the Eighties, not Nineties. And if they’re still flummoxed, check the release date for further confirmation.


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D I A M A N D A   G A L Á S

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   Although her perforation into mainstream culture has been contained to merely an exiguous series of ephemeral, sharp bursts (one provocative Vanity Fair photo spread, a semi-diced appearance on the Natural Born Killers), to hear Diamanda Galás, an opera and blues inflected soprano/contralto-on-a-dirty-dime, with a caterwaul so primal and shocking it could strip floors to the foundation… well, is to hear something unlike any other.
At a time when others would need to wake up well before bed time to even think about doing the kind of things Diamanda could do half-asleep, the overall listening experience has had her labelled ‘performance artist’ rather than either performer, or artist. In honor of Galas’ latest release(s) All The Way, we look at some of the few anecdotal asides of one of rock’s most bravest, brutal, and boundless belles.

SERVED ICE CREAM BY GREGG GINN’S FATHER?(!): On his podcast, Henry Rollins regaled listeners of once escorting Galás to the amiable home of Gregg Ginn’s father Mr. Ginn (also father to artist Raymond Pettibon). Ever the host, Mr. Ginn zealously had the svelte Diamanda served an over portioned bowl of ice cream. Rollins, sensing the gastronomic conflict of interest, politely exempted eating duties of the empty-calorie baiting confectionery from an unsurprisingly overwhelmed Diamanda. A true gentlemen!

WAS A GUEST ON JON STEWART’S SHOW!: Before amassing crossover success with The Daily Show, actor/comedian Jon Stewart had previously hosted another late night talk show The Jon Stewart Show on MTV. When Galás was promoting her collaborative record with Led Zepplin’s John Paul Jones in 1994, she performed for the future political satirist with Jones. The show was eventually canceled in 1995.

APPEARS ON AN ERASURE SONG!: …And she didn’t even have to ask! The same year she appeared on the Natural Born Killers soundtrack and made her LP with Jones, her services as vocalist extraordinaire were requested by UK electro-pop duo Erasure. An unlikely alliance, she was nonetheless compliant, and the track Rock Me Gently (a ballad!) was even released as a single. However less progressive radio formats opted to edit her contribution out.

TENACIOUS AIDS ACTIVIST!: Galás (whose brother, playwright Philip-Dimitri, succumbed to the disease and passed away at 32) has long been a vocal and often fierce advocate for AIDS activism. Having once been arrested for protesting (in a cathedral!) an edict against implementing education on the disease, she also placed United Colors Of Benetton in her cross hairs when she burned their ad on stage, (encouraging onlookers to do likewise). Not to mention derisively condemning Axl Rose’s attempt to fund raise for the disease.

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BANNED BY MTV!: Oh my! Indeed her 1988 promo video Double-barrel Prayer was given a hostile reception when it touched video stations hot hands for potential rotation. They deemed it their ‘most offensive’ clip of that year, but the art of the banned video would later be used to greater promotional effect by others in her wake. As for Galás, she only rarely, if ever, ventured into the medium of music video again.


   K Pop II C2

 F l a w l e s s  in technicolor, dazzling in couture, AND, spiriting away’s America’s thunder, are you ready for the K-POP phenomena?

   The mention of Korea these days has no less than a few bridled with the fear of nuclear assault, or, one can only dare imagine what else. But the public at large aren’t the only ones who should have cause for concern. The medium of pop music and it’s current quality also stand in the cross-hairs of Korea.

   Yes, we’re talking about the rise of K-pop. Maybe easily dismissed by lesser, more ignorant, mortals. But even a passing glance at the phenomena reveals that everyone involved are not the kind that leave room for error – they send it bolting through the door marked exit.
The genre has been around since, well, Korean has been making pop. But it appears that, rather than stay a provincially contained force merely serving to co-exist with their much more successful American markets, they’re now attempting (brilliantly) to supplant and cast a wide shadow over them.

   Which is an exhilarating template from which to make and market pop that doesn’t just merely serve as a cordial bystander – this is an appetite whetting line in the sand, and Korea, let it be said, are not just the tortoise to America’s hare, they’re both.

What’s most exciting is, these young men look like more authentic King’s Road punks than any of even the American bands, and could more than likely wipe the floor with them in terms of knowledge.”

  Though one could argue the state of American pop is more like a complacent, resource free emperor leaning on past glories, making it easy game to be usurped. But Korea aren’t leaving anything to chance.

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Wham Bang!: BIGBANG on a demure fashion day.

   Among the harbingers of K-pop’s current status in BIGBANG. As of now, they stand as the most daring of any so-called boybands. Not just for their wild and ingenious wardrobe and fashion (BIGBANG make Gaga look almost cartoonish, and play with the kind of looks any other men would only attempt in a  suicidal exchange for his life and well-being). But for their sublime use of genres, sometimes within the same song (Bang Bang Bang for instance starts as typical EDM before an abrupt halt welcomes a chorus that’s pure modern Hip-hop).

What’s most exciting is, these young men look like more authentic King’s Road punks than any of even the American punk bands, and, what’s more, could more than likely wipe the floor with them in terms astute and well-versed knowledge.

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In the brick of it: GOT7 reach new heights.

   Today’s most popular K-pop band, arguably of course, is GOT7. These Korean men possess the kind of complexion the entire population of rich Beverly Hills housewives, on a good day, would go bankrupt three times over for. GOT7 come armed with two rappers (the affable Jackson, and the wonderfully composed Mark), and a trigger happy magazine full of great singles that have included updated G-funk, glitchy EDM, and straight up dazzling pop.

   Among their rivals are BTS, a K-pop band who are the very living definition of ebullience. Character can always take you far, but BTS have enough to throw into an unforgiving hurricane, let alone the wind. Just on the strength of single ‘Fire’‘s energy and meticulous production snap alone they deserve the Billboard music award. But, like many of this genre, these young men aren’t just showing up and looking pretty.

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T-riffic: BTS – Would you dare try steal their lunch money?

   Their video for ‘Not Today’ is like a high-scale MGM musical production: state-of-the-art choreography that would have even an above average back-up dancer in tears; production values and concepts they probably you’re likely not see even in a full-length film; and, oh yes, a wardrobe of cutting edge styles so ahead of the curve, your great grand kids will only then becoming the wiser to.

   But for sheer vocal talent to truly renew your belief in a higher power, EXO hit some notes and harmonies slightly beyond the realm of extraordinary.  Whoever’s writing their material has a unique way with a melody putting a twisted haunt on it, like in ‘Monster’. Or maybe they know they have a legion of young men with just that rare, magical equation that makes the impossible possible.

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Thumbs like it hot: EXO

But EXO aren’t just K-pop’s Boyz II Men. They know the competition is near impregnable, so only the best qualify. Making the eerie dance floor scorcher ‘Wolf’ a magnum triad threat of dance, voice, and rap.

   Among the newer entries is the suave MONSTA-X. They come locked and loaded in much the same quantity as would be required. But they may catch their rivals off-guard yet, with some premium singles in ‘Hero’, a mercilessly catchy mix of hip-hop samples and thudding b(re)ack beat. And the sublime down tempo ‘Shine Forever’. They also have the galvanizing, tight rap skills in just two of it’s members, who dazzle with the kind of slick motor mouths a puny white boy would give a life their insurance policy for.

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Monsta’s Ball: MONSTA-X, unfazed by random confetti.

   There are many others in the field, some all-girl and multi-sex outfits who offer what US has clearly lost almost for good: a genuine innocence and love for what they do.  Pop stars are either trying to go ‘adult’ on us with a phalanx of wild abandon off stage, trying to transition into more ‘mature’ and respectable sounds, or, simply try to hoodwink us into buying into this months image. Which is nothing new, if only they had the legitimate personality and talent to brace themselves upon, of which, let it be said, only a fraction have.

   The more riled could argue K-pop’s is equally as complicit. That K-pop is merely a well constructed appropriation of North American pop culture. Perhaps. But Koreans do it with an enthusiasm that’s disarming as it is peerlessly disciplined (it’s no bid deal for the median K-pop promo to rack up 30 million to 100 million views on Youtube) . But like Oscar Wilde said, ‘talent borrows, genius steals’. And K-pop has spirited away America’s thunder, in what could be, the figurative heist of the 21st century… with a great big bang.


   Madonna III C

 How pop princess  M A D O N N A  keeps her art in a punk place.

    There’s no arguing it today some 35 years into her career that, despite the requisite ebbs and flows in popularity, Madonna was, is, and remains the Queen Of Pop. What may be more of a stretch in terms credulity is her place in the underground, alternative, even, dare one say, rock arena.

   Such an argument would seem as easy to contest. But a closer examination between the fine print reveals no one as highly intelligent and intrepid as Madonna would’ve drawn  and exposed herself to solely every art form except rock and the underground, and been able to spread it across a career nearing it’s fourth decade.

 madonna 83 B  Although dance has been her choice of musical operandi in terms of genre, it’s in execution and attitude that Madonna betrays herself as the savvy and recalcitrant subvert with a genuine, as her LP title suggests, rebel heart.
Simply because this flies over the heads of her largely mainstream audience, doesn’t diminish the obvious if esoteric reference points that insightful listeners can pick up on. It’s somewhat inaccurate to place her in the same parenthesis as Janet, Britany, or Kylie (who also challenge and celebrate liberal femininity, but with a less lucid polemic) : Madonna belongs in the common room with Toyah, Nina Hagen, even Siouxsie Soux… sort of.

  Even before her first decade, she had Sonic Youth paying, however arch or sincere, homage to her (along with Minutemen’s Mike Watt).  Henry Rollins wrote a spoken word piece about her and recently reveled in the L.A. Times he used a well-worn Like A Virgin as balm before the storm of playing any of the demanding Black Flag performances. By the end of the decade, even L7’s Jennifer Finch was coming clean about her approval for Madonna, and her relevance in bringing the messy look to womens fashion.

Because to me  P u n k  R o c k  is thinking outside the box, outside of the program, outside of… establishment.” – MADONNA

   In the nineties, as she sojourned into running her own label, among her most sought after acts weren’t pop-stars, but acts like Rancid, Hole, and even Marilyn Manson were entertained as a potential act for her roster. She was able to procure The Prodigy, The Deftones, and Story Of The Year – hardly radio friendly acts even by today’s standards.  But all illustrate the expanse of her taste for the heavier side of pop. Not just stopping at her former Label, recently Madonna made headlines for being among the first Madonna 1990 I Cmainstream artists to publicly defend Russian punk band P***y Riot (seen with their band legend scrawled on her back), even paralleling her own defiant flouting censorship worthy acts to their’s.

   Even before she was famous, among Madonna’s formative influences were NYC punk vocalist Debbie Harry and Chrissie Hynde, an original component of England’s early Let It Rock/Sex-shop punk scene, later of the Pretenders. And obviously that part of music history was not lost on her, for Madonna faithfully homaged these elements both in her early looks, as well more specifically in her Drowned World tour where she can be seen wearing Vivienne Westwood bondage trousers and thrashing Steve Jonesy-esque guitars (as an anecdotal side-note, she even had Greil Marcus intellectualizing her, only a year after he published Lipstick Traces…, his tome dealing primarily with the Punk zeitgeist).

Regardless of whether her critics and detractors continue to esteem her in a lower echelon of music,  little more than a dilettante with an avaricious, calculated investment in what will sell her forever transmuting image – no matter. She’s proven to be culture’s punctilious trend-whisperer, and music’s, both pop and rock, intrepid and indefatigable elder stateswomen … and it all started as a drummer who took over vocals in a band that played CBGB’s.


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RM ALBU IIVI   G   N   I   T   I   O   N

Complete Services

(LP Compilation, 1994)

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   Being related to the famous, notorious, well known etc. can often provide opportunities for like-minded family members who may also share a similar penchant for a creative field. But, it can also cast such a shadow that the less analytical make so little wiggle room, those who happen to come in tandem are often dealt the short end of the stick, undeservedly or not.
In punk rock terms, such a scenario is lamentably applicable to the MacKaye brothers. Ian, of course, went on to mortality as front man for Minor Threat and Fugazi – that Minor Threat sleeve forever copied and homaged. Little do many know the bald headed waif with his head buried between limbs is actually brother, Alec. But again, in cruel irony, the indelible is not dissociative.
Ignition 2  It could be easily excused, where not for the body of work Alec, however modest in terms of Itunes receipts, has accrued in a priceless series of musical ventures. It began in modest with The Untouchables, then the marvelous The Faith. But perhaps his most daring, personal, and twisted stroke of autonomy was with this exhilarating collection (which collects the bands entire recorded output and inception from 1986, until 1986) performed aptly under the name Ignition. Indeed, following his own emotionally raw and lucid destiny despite a glut of the opposite to ensure how out of step he ventured to be, this whole ouvré can only now be seen for helping set in motion the de riguers of latter punk, also known, in pejorative vernacular, as ‘Emo’.

It’s a rewarding and demanding listen, where songs don’t so much stand out as if to be cherry picked, but ignite like northern lights in one unfurling volley.”

   But this ain’t that. Mackaye, cut an indomitable figure on stage, like a tortured Iggy doing it less for shock than out of a sheer expression of desperate restlessness. And, backed by D.C. punk stalwarts like Dante Ferrando and Chris’ Bald and Thompson, this is post-punk free of all it’s pretense, but brimming with a no-rules waywardness, even by punk standards. It’s a rewarding and demanding listen, where songs don’t so much stand out as if to be cherry picked, but ignite like northern lights in one unfurling volley.
But of course, there are highlights. But it’s really the environment and energy Ignition create that hit hardest. And it’s one that can be appreciated when one considers what they can come up with, even within the modest confines of an independent studio.
Rather than rivals though, the MacKaye brothers compliment each other (MacKaye’s produced a couple of these tracks), existing as becoming role models but with ultimately dizygotic musical genetics.

N  I N A    H A G E N, Street, (1991)

   There’s never been as animated, combustible, and boundlessly talented an individual as Nina Hagen. Since the late seventies, Hagen has held audiences, on all sides of the world, in the palm of her hand with equals parts death grip, delicacy, and childlike hubris.  In less appreciative terms, the less adventurous would brand her an ‘acquired taste’.Nina Hagen
That’s a bridge Street attempts to pave, with the singer somewhat dialed down. But her dialed down, would be everyone’s else’s high functioning but mercurial. That’s not to suggest Hagen is capitulating to compromise. Somehow Hagen manges to make this homage to rock’s indelible moments pollinating in urbane/hip-hop terrestrials a work of joy, class, and personality.
On opener Blumen für die Damen, Hagen brings the thumping Euro-boogie factor with rap accompaniment. Followed by the smooth Divine Love…, an inspired and grooving swing through samples and back beats.
But while the majority of the material concerns Hagen’s fling with Street sounds, there’s the usual brushes showing her nervy, uncategorizable side. Such as the punchy power chord chomp of Berlin (Is Dufte), which interpolates Free with grandoise ease.
It may not rank as among her best statements in the hearts of critics. But, as the sentiment in this record’s penultimate song (where she raps deliciously) counters, you’ll still want to vote Nina IV President.

C O N C R E T E   B L O N D E , Bloodletting, (1990).

     L.A.’s Concrete Blonde have more going for them than a female front person/bassist, and this record has more than just ‘Joey‘. Concrete Blonde evoke a typical L.A. feel in their performance and style: sweltering beneath the color, feeling the edge in a calm slow burn, and hip to it beyond the average person’s years.
No greater introduction does one need, with that slinky, Nosferatu in-lipstick opener, also the LP’s title track, with it’s crumpling, sinking chord progression, and whisking drumbeat.Concrete Blonde 1990
The band a show a breadth of variety including rave-ups (Sky Is A Poisonous Garden, The Beast), lower key laments (I Don’t Need A Hero, Lullaby), and pure untouched rock ‘n’ roll, all with a grit and twang that keeps things uniform and uncluttered, but with the spirit and soul always to the front.
Lyrically, this record paints a variety of feelings in colors haunting, bitter, and downright defiant (‘I don’t need a hero/I don’t need a soldier/I did when I was younger/now I’m so much older/I don’t need a father/don’t wanna be your mother’). The most heartbreaking is the ghostly Caroline where singer Johnette Napolitano plays commentator to the song’s namesake as she seemingly sinks lower into a downward spiral.
To close, is the misunderstood but downright crushing cover Tomorrow, Wendy, whose protagonist lashes out in frustration to a higher power through an avowed death wish. All of this would be bluster in the hands of another singer. Not Napalitano. Her soulful, raw voice , delicate and yet rousing, is another pure ingredient that makes this worthy, if not written in concrete, definitely in blood.

D A N Z I G , Danzig III: How The Gods Kill, (1992)

   Danzig 92 IVWith a reputation, not in the least unwarranted, as rock’s most stoic, humorless, and unromantic vocalist, Danzig’s third LP came, and still comes, as a welcome and pure surprise.
As a vocalist and performer Danzig is anchored by a stealth and infallible beast in his backing band. But Danzig steps into broader territory letting the dank-secularist he’s buckled down by, wander off a little as he stays off that ruse to let in another dimension: bluesy torch vocalist. And what a vocalist he is. Part Presley/Orbison, and other parts unbridled animal, his control and range never get the awe they’re worthy of. But with this third installment, now there’s no excuse.
Danzig’s material is also of a stalwart calibre. From the heaving, pulsing Dirty Black Summer, to the bluesy mist that sprays off Bodies, to the perfect mood and performance of Anything, highlights are a plenty (not to mention that scorching riff in Do You Wear The Mark).
But it’s the slower numbers, the title track and marvelous Sistinas, that betray Danzig as less imposing, and undulating with more pure unadulterated soul than maybe intentioned.  That’s really more scary than any shade of black or bull’s horn you can throw around.  Truly killer.

J U D A S   P R I E S T, Defenders of the Faith, (1984).

   Following the champion, crushing success of Screaming For Vengeance in terms of commercial and creative heights was never going to a piece of cake. But, in it’s own right, Defenders… is both a worthy and special beast altogether.
Judas Priest 84 II  The band come firing back rapidly with more great tunes, and a few new twists to add to the plot. It’s not hard to imagine what made Priest such a scary proposition to a paranoid media, but, today, most of these records sound, quite simply, like great rock ‘n’ roll, pure and simple. Sad that many gravitate towards Zepplin as some sort of safe house for hard rock. Yet, there’s more debauchery and freaky juju going on at any random day of their existence than Priest put together. When Priest put down their guitars, they went home to their wives. Go figure.

   But their increased control of their faculties only made them greater forces to be reckoned with, which may explain why everyone was so scared. Defenders… is a band in it’s stride erecting a neon skyline of dazzling riffs, shooting drums, and sparkling, soaring vocals. No tunes about stairways to heaven… this is rock heaven. How could it not be a vocalist as flawless and spectacular as Halford, back when being called spectacular actually meant something.
As a game-changer, Priest give us the slinky, spider crawling Love Bites; A mid-tempo power rocker chant in the glorious Rock Hard, Ride Free; and they out due themselves in terms of balladry, even by previous standards with the divine Night Come Down. Elsewhere you get what you expect, which is a lot, and they hand it to you like it was all in a day’s work (Freewheel Burning, The Sentinel). For the true rock lover, this is the kind of faith you’ll want to keep.


RM TIME III

 Jeanne Eagels, 1890 – 1929

Jeane Eagels Vanity Fair C

  Before Winehouse, Cobain, or Vicious… WAY before, stage and sometime film actress Jeanne Eagels set the tragic template for too-fast-to-live/too-young-to-die ethos when she died of effects stemming from heroin, alcohol, and chloral hydrate, aged 39.
The troubled actress had the the kind of deep, dark, bottomless eyes that betrayed whatever woes she was direly attempting to suppress through various dalliances with substances. By her twenties, she had already lost her father, and a child with her first husband, under indeterminate circumstances.

jeanne eagels
During her salad days as an aspiring actress, she graduated from hometown Kansas theater performer, to NYC chorus girl, to supporting player, to star (appearing alongside George Arliss, Ina Claire, and Leslie Howard).

Jeanne Eagels Jealousy 29
Jeanne Eagels and Anthony Bushell in Jealousy: he was later replaced, but her last completed film is no longer extant.

 She had made a number of appearances in full-length and short films during her career, but the stage offered her her most rewarding and renowned role playing the good-hearted by defiant sex trade worker Sadie Thompson in the Somerset Maugham’s Rain. Five years later she was being groomed by MGM for potential stardom and cast opposite their dynamite leading man John Gilbert in the Man, Woman, and Sin.

Jeanne was much superior to us. Movie actors are crazy to be worshiped. She wanted to be understood and appreciated.” – John Gilbert

   Silent films give audiences today only a partial experience of Eagels radical subtlety, but a few years later, Paramount Films put Eagles in another Maugham setting, as the woman scorned to end all women scorned in The Letter. As irony would so sadly take the last curtain call, the film would’ve potentially launched into a wider audience she so deserved, but she was gone by the time if it’s release. For her striking work, Eagles would become the first actress nominated for an Academy Award posthumously. We still love the woman she killed.


    Cheers to those who took a few thousand seconds to entertain this succession of novel asides. There are tentative plans to include potential interview subjects, so stay tuned. Peace!.

RM 3 Cover


Yes, another month, another carefully prepared, delicately served crazed culinary concoction.  New features, old features. Either way, it’s a raw deal being a 12 O’clock boy, in a 9 O’clock town. This issue’s theme seems to be shades. The ones you put on your face, but hopefully none of the kind you get when your gleefully disowning modernist pap. Reader, I bid you the best…


What’s Old Is… N E W S, again: 

C h u c k   B e r r y : Rock Pioneer, passes aged 90.

Yes, it’s a sadder world as one of rock’s originators Chuck Berry has passed at the age of 90. Officers were called to the ‘unresponsive’ rock legend at his home, reports major media outlets, with subsequent efforts to revive him unsuccessful. He is survived by his wife Toddy, and Children Charles Jr. and Ingrid.

RM 3 CBBerry was one of rock ‘n’ roll’s prime architects, in style and influence. Known for his
dynamic, head-bobbing and animate performances, it has been said the nascent beginnings of many an unknown rocker was not complete without a full grasp of his classic song Johhny B. Goode (later covered by Judas Priest). His influence is legion with everyone from John Lennon, Bruce Springsteen, and Bob Dylan offering their praises.

Although he had his most successful chart entry with My-Ding-a-Ling, a tongue-in-cheek chunk of levity, He is best known for his invaluable output on Chess in the mid to late 50’s with hits including Sweet Little Sixteen, Brown Eyed Handsome Man, the aforementioned Johnny B. Goode, and the million selling, #1 Maybellene.

Berry was the recipient of Lifetime Achievement Award at the Grammy’s in 1984, and two years later was an inductee into the Rock ‘N’ Roll Hall of Fame. Prior to his passing, Berry was still performing, and even in the process of promoting some of his first newly record material in almost 40 years. The posthumous recordings, which he intended to release simply under the title Chuck, are planned for release in mid-June. Rest in Peace Mr. Berry and B. Goode.

G B H : Latin American Tour this May!

One of UK’s most beloved, long standing punk bands GBH will be touring this coming gbh3April to May with dates in Latin America, but have already kicked off with a double bill with the Angelic Upstarts in the UK.
In other GBH news, the band was able to raise funds in the amount of $ 4,500 this year for Scottish charity Waverly Care and it’s support centre Milestone, a fundraiser assisting those diagnosed with HIV and Hepatitis C. The funds were raised via the proceeds culled from the Punk For Pam annual festival. Colin Blyth, the bands guitarist, organizes the festival, whose late sister Pam fell victim to the disease before sadly succumbing to it in 2011.

As a memoriam, Blyth has held the festival in her namesake and, since it’s inception, has accruedproceeds in the amount of $ 15,000. This years performers besides GBH, also included The Exploited and The Varukers.

C R O – M A G S ‘ s  John Joseph: Autobiography re-issue!

RM 3 JoJoNYC vocalist John Joseph’s 2007 autobiography, The Evolution of a Cro-Magnon, is said to be scheduled for a re-issue according to a recent Turned Out A Punk podcast, featuring an interview with singer. The well received memoir is a compendium of Joseph’s Dickensian childhood being shuttled around foster homes, to his early exposure to CBGB’s and the punk glitterati of the time (he related an anecdotal story about first meeting Johnny Thunders in the interview.), to survival in the deadly climes of New York, to being front-man.

Joseph told TOAP host/vocalist Damian Abraham about one prison, which held the book in it’s library, that the book was such a sought after commodity, there was a nine person waiting list to read it. This reissue comes a little less than a year after the release of his former bandmate Harley Flanagan’s equally well-received biography Hard-Core: Life Of My Own.


D e c a p o l i s: 10 Totemic Treasures…

R M 3 alice bag

And YOU thought all the first/second wave punk energy had puttered out? L.A.’s almighty Alice Bag returns with this amazing piece of garagey punk brilliance. Directed to those misbegotten missies who feel stymied by corporate media’s obsession with Photoshop ‘beauty’, it’s a call to arms that’s been a long time coming. And Alice ‘Misdemeanour’ Bag isn’t going to let age stifle her fluorescent rage or flawless Chicano passion. The woman is a mother, 2 time author, and punk legend pushing 60, putting out slam banging r’n’r (that rock ‘n’ roll, kiddies) . What’s your excuse?

R M 3 shelter

Post hardcore shouldn’t be allowed to be this catchy. What’s more, it’s boundless in both
enthusiasm, energy, and ethic. Shelter didn’t write poppycock about wanting to die young, getting laid, or an insatiable need to say inebriated. Quite the opposite. Songs about countering those denying creation as ‘reality, ‘praising others’ despite recriminations, and here, the emotional/moral deficit of pre-marital sex.

R M 3 cockney rejects

Playful, pile-driving hams of the highest order, Cockney Rejects deflated almost all of the
intellectual posturing that punk was threatening to become. And they did so with such relish, to resist would be almost miraculous. They soon tried a more AC/DC calibre of rock, but they’re beloved to this day for songs like this which is all one could ever need: levity, licks, and a lob of proletariat solidarity.

R M 3 eddie cochran

Cochran had it all: good looks, personality, swag, and tunes, tunes, tunes. Sadly he died
tragically before the momentum he deserved could be fully reaped a plenty. But there is the music, and this performance is simple rock putting it’s impregnable legend on the name for posterity and beyond. And you know all the teenagers that appeared in his presence probably got grounded for life by their parents.

R M 3 Opus III

She’s got the voice of a serene seraph, backed by some rigorous, new-agey dance grooves circa 1992. But she looks more like a skinhead dressing up for her prom, with beaded bangs draped over her shaven cranium. And yet, she STILL looks like the most beautiful and enigmatic in the room, if that room were the size of Australia. She’s never over the top, just blithesome, mysterious, and slightly coquettish. Not made like this since, um, forever. 

R M 3 power of dreams 2

Everyone’s falling out their chairs for all those ‘cathedral’-band reunions. But the aptly named Power of Dreams deserve to be in equal contention, if this swirling, pop perfect piece is anything to go by. Lyrically things take a dark, heavy turn as the protagonist invites into ‘Cathy’s world’, one of evident molestation and dysfunction. Rather than being exploitative or crassly polemic, Power of Dreams have all the class and sensitivity to give this the impress it needs. Powerful.

R M 3 super junkie monkey

When woman are given instruments and a true rock spirit, amazing things tend to happen .That’s thrice fold when they’re Japanese and sound like Faith No More on a Bad Brains binge. These women couldn’t play badly, even if they wanted to. And thankfully, they don’t. This sounds like Red Hot Chili Peppers fronted by Yoko Ono possessed by the spirit of Fishbone. Yes, it’s that good. And they’re hasn’t been anything as good since.

R M 3 wendy o W

There’s a reason Wendy made Kerrang’s cover (Kover?). While her female (and even male) peers sported big hair and clashing clothes, Wendy only need chaps, a bikini top, and chunky metal back beat to get her point across. Already a Grammy nominee, this rough rudiment of fist-pumping reverie is ’80’s metal with a few notches of fun switched casually on. And who, I ask, WHO could qualify as envoy for every raw-deal handed Dickensian dish?

R M 3 Henry Rollins II

Few artists do as articulate and astounding a job as observing and surmising, however complex, the loner/loser/outsiders pathology, diffidence, and unease in the social war-zone as vocalist/performance artist Henry Rollins. I Know you is like finding a disembodied voice opened up and read a page from your most anguished diary entry you could never even bring yourself to pen. Both highly personal and painfully prescient.

R M 3 whitney houston

At her height, Whitney was pop prima you could bank on. Then things took a sordid turn, before Whitney collected herself, though many of her battle scars ended being worn on her once flawless voice. But that’s the pop world. By the time Whitney wrapped her weathered heart around this Dianne Warren penned, Dave foster produced gem, she had become something of Mahalia Jackson-esque survivor, pouring momentous soul into this stirring performance.


Eternally Yours…: G L E N   M A T L O C K!

RM 3 matty

1) Wrote Pretty Vacant which was inspired by Abba? Umm-hmm. The original ‘Pistols bassist appropriated Pretty Vacant’s main riff from Abba’s S.O.S., demonstrating that which would later be generally accepted as physical fact: our Glen was not only the most proficient musician of the lot, but also a huge piece of the songwriting puzzle.

2) Performed and/or recorded with Iggy Pop, Sid Vicious, The Damned, The Faces, and Primal Scream?Uh-huh. After giving his 2 weeks to old man McLaren (r.i.p.), Iggy, the real wild child for sure but also a connoisseur of raw talent, plucked Matty for his Soldier LP. And being the good chap he is, he even played with friend and later replacement Mr. Vicious for the paucity of his existence.

RM 3 glen matlock Noel

3) Was in a Band with Midge Ure?Ah Vienna. Midge Ure was never cooler than singing and playing guitar in the Rich Kids. Even if their first full length got the thumbs down for it’s production/recording, the songs still rock. And there are the Peel sessions, which are available. Did I mention the band also featured Steve Strange…

4) Released a solo record on Creation?Yup. With Creation records housing break-out talent like Oasis, Ride, and Primal Scream, where more appropriate than Creation to release Marty’s solo LP Who’s He Think He Is When He’s At Home (1996). A perfectly timed release for the label as the same year saw the original ‘Pistols line-up reconvene for the Filthy Lucre tour.

5) Played on Wendy James latest Solo LP (yes, that Wendy James)If you think our Glen a fool by this point… you so wrong! If Matlock decides to join the personnel that includes James Williamson (Stooges), Lenny Kaye (Patti Smith Band), and Jim Scalvunos (Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds), that’s more legend on one record than his most famous band combined (did I mention thee Wendy James?). So there.


A-muse-d: Stars give plaudits to their heroes:

RM 3 Rob Zombie
Rob Zombie inspired by
RM 3 Lux
Lux Interior.

Vocalist, artist, and successful director Rob Zombie (nee Rob Stryker) has, despite humble

beginnings in NYC’s so-called Lower East Side ‘scum-rock’ scene, became among the more distinctive and recognizable figures in Alternative metal in the ’90’s both with his band White Zombie and as a solo artist. But even he, of impending height and majestic dreads, has been reduced to something of a bashful school boy teeming with awe in both the presence and mention of his heroes, Lux Interior.
Lux, of course, was the pyschobilly originator and unequalled wild child of legendary punk band the Cramps. A kind of scarier Jerry Lee Lewis meets Dracula in heels and leathers: he never failed to make an impression on anyone, any age.
Zombie eventually got to meet his hero, and upon Interior’s passing payed homage affectionately telling Spin “He was a one-of-a-kind force of nature that seemed to be frozen in time – a time when rock was mean, lean, and dangerous’.


RM 3 Mission II Ca

In a world of high art concepts, credibility, and just plain raw power (both literal and
figurative) UK’s The Mission (called The Mission UK in the US, to inhibit any confusion with the other band with Mission in their name, who were called Mission of Burma. Clear?) always got excluded from the more accomplished echelons their peers enjoyed, or were simply deemed overwrought to a fault, by even their most lenient of critics. Sometimes even by fans of Goth itself.

As has been recorded, Wayne Hussey and Craig Adams were previously guitarist and bassist in Sisters of Mercy, respectively. They, for reasons that can be drawn from a hat at random with a aged papyrus reading ‘creative tensions/differences’, formed their own band, first named the Sisterhood, which even Hussey copped to as a tacky move.
After some numerically entitled EP‘s (compiled as The First Chapter, which includes a RM 3 Mission IIIfine cover of Patti Smith’s Dancing Barefoot), the band released what is regarded as their most goth-sounding record, God’s Own Medicine. But again, the harsher tones of magazine reviewers would underline it as, maybe a great record by them, not a necessarily a great record per say. There are some superb moments, such as singles Stay With Me or Wasteland, a bruiting, undulating ripple of chorus-y guitars, slap-shot upon by a flawless chorus.

If there is a cupped hand full of reservations beginning it’s slow drip into incredulity, It’s Hussey’s blustery, histrionic delivery, say some. His croon is pure Barry White in black leather, which is a good thing. And he clearly has a much better, wider ranged singing voice than his contemporaries. But it’s the lapses into bravado that almost call the whole enterprise off. Plus, songs like Love Me To Death, have gorgeous, sturdy melodies, but lyrics that only slightly rival even an astute romance novel at it’s least indelicate.

The Mission aren’t pretending to create cerebral art or be ground breakers: And for it, they should be high-fived, rather than hip-checked, especially if they have the chops to do so.”

Children marked them as heretics in the cross hairs of those from who Batcave did come. But that’s nonsense, as, Children shifts their strengths comfortably where they belong: straight forward, sensitively inclined hard rock. If production from John Paul Jones doesn’t lend the record enough weight, some of their best material is here, even of a calibre to make their most apathetic listeners fall comfortably under it’s romantically torn spell.

Of course, Jones let’s the band makes their own stubborn mistakes that, by this point are almost hallmarks (a sentimental cover of Aerosmith’s Dream On, and the folk filigree of Black Mountain Mist). But so what? The Mission aren’t pretending to create cerebral art or be ground breakers: And for it, they should be high-fived, rather than hip-checked, especially if they have the chops to do so (particularly Hussey, who betrays himself as a pristine, highly proficient guitarist).
Highlights include Tower of Strength, a fantastic single with great chord progressions crashing and culminating into a wall of savvy string arrangements. Also the bleak finale Hymn (For America) is a revved up and low riding rocker which drips in a lacquer of heavy-lidded death-gazing. Children may not be great, or even decent goth album, but it’s damn fine rock record.

^ The Mission perform Wasteland in 1991 (note the coy interpolation of Sister’s Marian).

Carved in Sand is another solid release with all the elements you’d expect from The Mission: atmospheric hard rock, with a darkened twist (such as the surprisingly taut and fist-pumping Deliverance), and a heart of gold. But the Mission still can’t extract or even subdue a predilection for high drama and occasional classicism. This record is book ended by what may be among their most unsuccessful attempts at either. Amelia’s aim is true: a sexual molestation incrimination that is intrepid for it’s subject matter, but Hussey performs sans audible control or restraint, it cancels itself out as exploitative and asphyxiating to the point of overkill.
But there is the infallible Butterfly on a Wheel. A gorgeous ballad with an impeccable melody and poignant lyrics (christianed to All About Eve’s Julianne Regan, but for reasons he won’t disclose) that makes the imbalance of Amelia all but forgiven. And when the drum kicks into high gear, and Wayne glides on those notes, it’s simply a watershed few could never equal.

Mission IVI editWith their second guitarist gone, and their drummer only soon to follow, Hussey had intended to play it solitaire with an updated, floor friendly sound. They ended up issuing it under The Mission name, and despite entitling it Masque, they don’t appear to have much to hide behind. Of course, as a classic rock band trying to integrate dance/world elements into the arrangements, it’s bound to induce some fidgeting and chagrin. Especially from those who counted on The Mission to bring them the chest thumping goth rock they love, for those who found Alien Sex Fiend to capricious and edgy.

They seem to make a partial success of easing themselves into less familiar terrain without making a doing a complete 180 on the formula they’ve constructed for themselves. And they do so well enough to make Shades Of Green Pt. 2, Even You May Shine, and Never Again sound as good as any of their other singles. These and other key tracks were cherry picked for their first best of compilation, Sum and Substance, thus segregating the first phase of their career in the ’90s, of which the latter saw them lagging in the race to remain relevant, and accused of appropriating Zepplin. By 2000, a renewal of sorts resurrected them as indefatigable elder statesmen of Goth’s original, and arguably, only wave.

RM 3 Mission 5


C O S M E T I C  renovation:

L  I  T  A    F  O  R  D :

RM 3 Lita B
B E F O R E :
RM 3 Lita A
A  F  T  E  R:

She strode ‘into L.A. with a guitar on her shoulder, and the shirt on her back’. Before she
could legally drink she was an axe-slinging guitar prodigy in the belatedly influential The Runaways (with Joan Jett). When the public failed to latch on to an all-girl rock band, Lita
almost spent the rest of her days as an aerobics instructor (before a potty-mouthed reply to a belligerent ‘student’ got her dismissed).
She made a return to music, but, unable to find a vocalist she liked, hired a coach and spent some further time training her voice and being able to sing and play guitar simultaneously. Along with the new challenge came a foxy new volt-face: slimmed down, peroxide and permed tresses, and the discovery of a healthy helping of Max Factor. By ’87, she had achieved success greater than her previous band and almost equal to Jett herself, even dueting with Ozzy on ‘Close My Eyes Forever‘.


F A S H I O N   PHYLE: Shades (Homme)

RM 3 Shad 1(Left to Right): L o u   R e e d, harbinger Of the black shades stance; Carrs guitarist R i c  O c a s e k, You’d NEED to be that cool to be eligible to produce a Hole one-off;  Damned’s  C a p t i a n   S e n s i b l e, The REAL slim Shady!RM 3 shad 2(Left to Right):Motorhead’s  P h i l   ‘P h i l t h y   A n i m a l’, coolest of the biker motif torchbearers; Sisters Of Mercy’s  A n d r e w   E l d r i t c h, images sans shades only less rare than Johhny Carson spottings; Soundgarden’s  C h r i s   C o r n e l l, a damn fine cut of shade, but just as becoming without.RM 3 shade3(Left to Right): Anti-Nowhere League’s  A n i m a l, almost naked without his Raybans; Manic Street Preachers  J a m e s   D e a n   B r a d f i e l d, Cool as a cuke in shades; Shamen’s  C o l i n   A n g u s, almost always masked beneath sunglass.


RM 3 Pale Saints III D 5

At a time when UK’s ‘celebratory’ ‘cathedral’ clique of My Bloody Valentine acolytes slumped themselves into an anticlimactic overstaying of their (un)welcome, both in the UK and the US, one of the few bands to let the backwash glide off their backs was Pale Saints. Indeed, it was certainly rare for an English band in any one of UK’s sub genre’s to make an equal if not a larger impression on critics, than in their homeland. Pale Saints had picky periodicals like Alternative Press, Spin, and Flipside laying down the vine leaves in their acclaim, and, for once, it was totally deserved.

Like many, the band debuted with a series of EP’s, the first being Barging Into The RM 3 Pale Saints IPresence Of God. It’s a smart, scraggly piece of stark syncopation, an added benefit being that vocalist/bassist Ian Masters is not only more adept at singing (which he does in a blissfully sharp, yearning style) than his peers, but he crafts songs that are not so superficially pop, but still hold melodious virtue. At this point, they sound like a doomy, pendulous take on McCarthy, which is a lot to be thankful for with just one 3 song EP.

Half-life simplifies their approach, showing at heart Pale Saints are a well intentioned indie band with the aptitude to comfortably vacillate between challenging and offbeat arrangements, and the more straightforward, dreamy sojourns indicative of their label 4AD. Masters is also strengthening his capability to compose rousing musical soundscapes of an almost band-less nature. The finale A Revelation, is just that. These EP’s (plus some odd goodies) were compiled as Mr. Dolphin, titled so because it’s swimming with near genius?

At times the playing and interpretations are so excitable and accelerated, it both threatens the performances and material, and yet makes it a wholly compelling listening experience that perforates our comfort level.

Their first proper LP The Comforts of Madness is a scabrous and equally ebullient mass of music that almost cartwheels past it’d destination in record time with minutes to spare. At times the playing and interpretations are so excitable and accelerated, it both threatens the performances and material, and yet makes it a wholly compelling listening experience that perforates our comfort level. And with this, it makes the slower moments like Sea Of Sound and Deep Sleep For Steven truly intoxicating respites you could almost drift on. No wonder Alternative Press put them on the cover. Their Madness may not be always so comforting, but it sure is flammable and eclectic property you’ll want to stay at more often than not.

^ Pale Saints Perform Blue Flower, 1991.

After catching their breath with EP/teaser Flesh Balloon, 2 year later they released In Ribbons, both of which signaled the permanent inclusion of guitarist/singer Meriel Barham. In Ribbons lacks the brisk fervency of it’s debut, but weather that’s an automatic negative is eventually demonstrated to be, at the very least, very debatable. This time they don’t seem so overly agile and hungry for the kill: Masters has let his confidence as band leader and writer into it’s welcome place, and the music, while not as vociferous and demanding as their debut, seems to prosper exquisitely.

R M 3 Pale Saints 2Meriel is a great addition, being equally an ace vocalist, but in somewhat different markets to corner. Producer Hugh Jones helps the band to inhale more often, meaning the range of materiel here is given a sparkling veneer. Weather it be frolicking lead off track/single Throwing Back The Apple, the delayed guitar anguishes of Hair Shoes, or the wondrous, succinctly heartbreaking build-up of finale A Thousand Stars Burst Open, the performances seem more focused and relaxed. Which is appropriate, as this swarm of ideas and emotions deserves such, from pert and care-free (Featherframe) or protracted and methodical (Neverending Night). Even Flipside had nothing but appraisal. Regardless if it comes in ribbons or rags, what’s inside is divine.

Ian Masters decided to leave to explore his own unique muse in Spoonfed Hybrid, leaving The ‘Saints back to a threesome with only two original members. Meriel enlisted Colleen Browne (ex-Heart throbs) to fill the vacated Bass/vocal slot. This line-up released Pale Saints last full-length Slow buildings.

RM 3 Pale Saints I editA commendable effort at the very least, Meriel was certainly more than a capable front person, but not all of the mercurial abstraction that Masters took with him is a void impossible to fill (guitarist Graeme Naysmith is still an invaluable rudder of ideas, passages, and energy), audibly at least (the 10 minute plus Henry is an exquisitely uncoiling piece of Red House Painters slowcore showing Pale Saints were a band, not Ian Masters and friends).

Perhaps had they changed their name or substituted themselves as an offshoot or side project, their transitioning alternative-edged slant would have gathered them some perked ears, instead of shrugged shoulders.

It’s as good Breeders’s Last Splash, or Belly’s Star (maybe, better?), but perhaps due to
timing, or the hubris surrounding ’70’s pub revivalism, it never cultivated more than a
distracted pat on the back. On the sleeve, the band is pictured reclining on what looks like a sink or bathtub: It’s a dire word picture as, for many critics, this when it started to go down the drain. Slow building perhaps, but a lovely and inviting piece of architecture nonetheless.

If any band can put together a body of work brimming with this much feeling, imagination, vim, melancholy, and wit, and do it in only five years and with as much class and integrity, they certainly wouldn’t be as content with being unheralded as Ian Masters. All Pale the King.

RM 3 Pale Saints IV edit


RE:… R E V I E W E D!

RM 3 Fugazi 2

F U G A Z IIn On The Kill Taker, 1993.

Originally produced to bludgeoning effect by Steve Albini, Fugazi re-recorded the first
genuinely polarizing record of their then over 5 year career. …Kill Taker is surely a more grating and vociferous approach for a ‘post-hardcore’ band, but, it’s still a stellar piece of noise adventure with a stoic side.

They haven’t lost any of their ear for smart and tuneful compositions, just because they’ve propelled themselves into a more bracing atmosphere. But, why that wouldn’t seem both logical and appropriate to some, seems a flummoxing protestation to conjure.

If anything, the walloping energy gives anyone expecting the same old product a chance to reorient themselves to performers who hold no impregnable track record or currency in the art of predictability or commercial pandering, even prior to this band’s inception.

…That doesn’t suggest it’s a harried In Utero-esque trick pony, going out of it’s way to serve some kind of bellicose gauntlet to perceived rivals or detractors. Fugazi don’t require such a grandstanding move.”

But, that doesn’t suggest it’s a harried In Utero-esque trick pony, going out of it’s way to
serve some kind of bellicose gauntlet to perceived rivals or detractors. Fugazi don’t require such a grandstanding move. They’ve simply made a galvanizing, knee-jerk LP, which showcases all the range of their distinct emotional outlook, and even more distinct attack. And it does so without betraying any calculation, guile, or smoke and mirrors.

Fugazi aren’t a singles band, so highlighting the ‘best of’ in just one album is a superficial
touchstone that would be fair to avoid. In For The Kill Taker is a frenzied wash of vitality and exuberance, buttressed with bursts of excitable and ominous asides, traversing it’s own raw and vulnerable landscape, and coming out survivors in the end. Will you?

S L A V E S, The Slaves, 1990.

L.A.’s Rik L Rik (originally of the F-Word and Negative Trend), cutting a decadent totem of bare feet, glam-ish jet black hair, and form fitting trousers, along with some solo outings, was the lead vocalist for this invaluable enterprise of edgy, infallible L.A. style rock. The Slaves is a desirous collection of smart playing, bruiting and blooded vocals, and appears to have no equals, even if the L.A. scene in the late ’80’s, a hotbed of ‘Metal Years’ crimped hair, warpaint, and spray paint clothes, isn’t saying anything.

Even the tricky proposition of covering Joy Division’s Transmission turns out absolutely
brilliantly. Mostly because Rik has a comparative voice that refuses to be a retread of the
original, and both him and band alike breath some blood into the proceedings, heightening the excitement.

The standout maybe Poverty Of Love, which starts with that boyish, soul-baring baritone and some acoustic strums, before tearing the curtains off for some dreamy hard rock, with whatever spotlight almost inessential, as Rik throws his grit-inflected upper register into a lachrymose sky. An entertaining and endearing way to immortalize the gifted Rik, who sadly died in 2000 of brain cancer.

T A N Y A  D O N E L L Y, Love Songs For Underdogs, 1997.

Most artists don’t have as hard a go as Madame Donelly did in finding an avenue for their full songwriting autonomy. She largely had to play understudy to Kristen Hersh in Throwing Muses, then had trouble squirming her way between both Deal sisters in The Breeders. After a piecemeal of being given the odd full writing credit over the the course of both, she finally got to be boss with Belly, so, why the need for a solo album you may ask?

Because even when your the primary songwriter, you still need to delegate to your RM 3 TDIIrespective members. And, even if you don’t, You still need to fall somewhere within the parenthesis of your band’s familiar identity. Love Songs… doesn’t seem to have impacted many, coming as it did just a couple years after Belly’s last record, but that’s not because it’s a vanity piece with pale conceits to stardom. But even if it were, there’s a glorious amount to suggest, in a judicious world, Donelly should’ve have been as big as the Lilath monilith to soon come, without all the shoddier baggage that came with it.

She brings her infallible chops to the occasion, along with variety, heartbreak, and just plain unadulterated soul. Acrobat begins as a simple, moving acoustic observation, then flutters through some Kate Bush style abstractions, without being a knock-off or put upon. Mysteries of The Unexplained and the sorrowful Manna grows more toward an adult alternative vein, but doesn’t suffer her any loss of credibility.

But it isn’t all walks through the prairie field. Donelly sounds is equally as stomping frying her electric guitar amp for sexy stompers like Lantern and Breathe Around You and the white noise-ish Bum, perhaps to an even more vigorous degree than she displayed previously. Her melodies are expertly crafted throughout, but the standout may very be Clipped, with it’s dueling verse and it’s sun bright, lofty chorus.

More than just love songs, now’s never been a better time to be an underdog. And if your not, tune in anyway.


J E R R Y  C A N T R E L L , Boggy Depot, 1998.

Although the late Layne Stayley was the harrowing and wrenching voice behind Alice In Chains, guitarist/songwriter Jerry Cantrell was sort of grunge’s own Johnny Marr to Layne’s Morrissey. And Cantrell could sing. His harmonies in fact are an unimpeachable plus to many of his band’s classic material.

But with their singer stepping away (for what would be indefinitely, sadly in more ways than musical), and Cantrell with material waiting to be realized, he scratched the solo itch, releasing the delayed but enriching Boggy Depot.

RM 3 JC IINot entirely a vast departure from his previous band’s pedigree (both ‘Chains drummer and bassist feature on this album), this is still a cogent and entertaining exhibit for Cantrell’s mostly underestimated talents as vocalist and guitarist.
He broadens the spectrum of musical influences and references that might result in his teenaged grungester listeners becoming violently unhinged. But where as his then contemporaries often got the balance of acoustic maturation and rock integrity way off balance, Cantrell does so with minimum effort. And his voice is a treasure that never gravels to grating and grimy gravitas.

Even if some of Cantrell’s excursions may be questionable (the psychedelic opus Breaks My Back), or led some critics to append Boggy Depot to the next wave of pallid grunge rockers, Cantrell still beats them 3 to 1, since he can do himself what most bands need 3 or 4 to do. The material is well-crafted, and maybe it seemed elitist to write off any grunge-affiliated project. Their loss. Their snobbery. Maybe the bogs in their ears, for Cantrell doesn’t write pap. And he obviously doesn’t perform it either. Happily unchained.


‘E X I T’   ENDUCTION   H O U R

E X I T   S M I L I N G  (1926; Silent)

RM 3 ExitDespite being primarily renowned for her accomplished stage performances, Beatrice Lillie was given a starring role in what was Hollywood’s rush to procure a variety of talents. Ranging from Opera singers, dancers, theatre stars, and, in Lillie’s Case, comediennes.

Lillie was given among the major studios (in the case MGM) more deft and rewarding attempts to spark theatre renown into box office fireworks. It wasn’t entirely a breakthrough, but, even with the disadvantage of being silent, Exit Smiling is still more successful to behold today, then it was once the bookkeeper put the losses down on paper.

Exit Smiling pits the Violet (Lillie) as an ‘actress’ (in all but her mind only, as she’s really
just a menial servant/happenstance bit player) travelling with a shoddy theatre ensemble, attempting valiantly to realize her dream of playing the lead role as the ‘vamp’. Amidst this she becomes especially fond of another member of the cast, Jimmy (Jack Pickford): but she’s unaware he’s actually using it as a covert to escape false charges potentially severing him and his sweetheart.

What’s most refreshing about this film (directed, produced, and co-written by Sam exit smiling edit2Taylor) is the magnitude of Lillie’s wit, timing, and thoroughly modern performance. There is no mawkish histrionics or overly animate slapstick. Lillie is total class and matchless in tomfoolery long before the Carole Burnetts and Lucille Balls set the standard for women in comedy. Heck, it’s not long before you even forget Lillie’ a woman, and just a naturally endowed jester of the highest order.

The film itself does more than merely compliment this, but is well put together scenerio which manages to nail it’s pejorative indictment of the then era’s flakey drama. And how it conjured the penultimate, bittersweet conclusion in which Violet finally gets the chance to play the vamp is both golden and grande.

The film is also given an edge for an unprecedented downbeat ending. But while it’s a solemn end to an otherwise ingratiating and invaluable film, it also comes equipped with good support, great situation and slight gags, and precise and priceless performance by Lillie. You only assume you can find performers this gifted. And what an exit that would be.


T I M E, Takes A Cigarette…

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As members of a newly extant Lush reconvene for a successful re-union of live shows and material, it’s quaint to think they’re among the many of that time simply reinvigorated by circumstance and the so-called ‘nineties revivalism’.

For Lush, their 6 year strong career was actually hitting a peek as fellow peers were seeing something of a decline. Mostly due to a dazzling but not altogether disingenuous appropriation of Brit-pop currency. It came to literal dead-stop when long time drummer Chris Acland, was found dead on October 17th 1996, a victim of suicide.

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Left To Right: Vocalist/guitarist Miki Berenyi, Bassist Steve Rippon, Acland, and Guitarist/vocalist Emma Anderson, 1991. 

For someone whose life ended under a cloud of alleged depression (with Lovelife producer Pete Bartlett go as far to claim the drummer was near destitute), Acland leaves a compendium of interview clips and photos that show a soul of a much livelier, good-hearted pedigree. Something corroborated by his many friends and peers (including Pulp’s Jarvis Cocker).

^LUSH, Canadian (MuchMusic) interview, 1992.

There has been a measure of speculation as to the circumstances surrounding and motives why Acland hastened his own end: music industry pressures, disillusionment with not achieving greater stardom as a band, depression.

Sadder still, as Lush and many other of the bands in their ilk enjoy a rejuvenation among
younger generations, it is all the more disenchanting Acland, a primary part of that nucleus, is not here to see it. And even sadder for us, that he’s not here to add the warmth and amiability in such legion paucity today.

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Left to Right: Anderson, replacement/current Bassist Phil King, Berenyi, and Acland, photographed by Michael Lavine (of Nevermind, Notorias B.I.G. fame), 1994.

All this so-called ‘writing’ is of course copyrighted, owned by me, so, paddle off if you think you you’re going to hoodwink me. 

Next month? Hmmm, who knows, there’ll be more  f a s h i o n (bald beauties?), a  little  C I N E M A,  some more enthused discoveries, and yes,  R O C K,   R   O   C   K  ,   ….

R     O     C     K   !   !   ! Until then… Peace.

 

 

 

R M 2 Cov


What’s Old is… N  E  W  S, again:

S E N S E L E S S things: Re-union gigs this March!

 

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Sense-less & Sensibility:

 The could’ve beens, should’ve beens are back and reuniting for 2 lone re-union gigs this
month. The band’s official website announced the they will perform at The New Adelphi Club, in Hull UK on March 19th, and O2 Sheperd’s Bush Empire UK on Saturday March 25th, marking their first performance together in over 20 years (although vocalist/guitarist Mark Keds and drummer Cass Browne are currently working as a unit in Deadcuts).
   The band was originally active in the late eighties, and hit their stride marrying tuneful
precision and punkish abandon well into the nineties with prize-worthy gems like Too Much Kissing and Easy To Smile. They appeared alongside many of the era’s major acts at festivals like Reading and Glastonbury, and also a handful of television appearances on The Word and even Top Of The Pops. After disbanding in 1995, the individual members splintered into a variety of projects, notably guitarist Ben Harding who found success with 3 Colors Red, Keds who was briefly in The Wildhearts, and drummer Browne who was apart of the wildly successful Gorillaz project with Blur’s Damon Albarn.

S L O W D I V E: New Recordings!

After slowly mounting a re-union of live performances mined from their Creation-era back- catalogue, Slowdive has released a newly recorded track after a wide berth of almost 22 years.

RM 2 Slowdive
When The Song Hits: Neil Halstead, The Johnny Depp Of ‘gaze.

   The band had been fielding a substantial quota of requests to re-unite, and now comes Star Roving, that picks up right where they peaked in the nineties.
Halstead sparked fans hope with his collaborative effort with Seefeel’s Mark Van Hoen under the Black Hearted Brother nomer, an electronic-based venture that was counter intuitive to his alt-country outings both solo, and with Mojave 3, a band he also fronted with Slowdive’s Rachel Goswell and Chapterhouse’s Simone Rowe.
The band continues on a nationwide blitz of tours, including dates in Europe, and, at the
beginning of April, a number of dates in the U.S. and Canada, some of which are already sold- out. In July they’ll be apart of Madrid’s Mad Cool festival, where they’ll be part of a roster which includes headliners Foo Fighters, Kings Of Leon, Wilco, Green Day, and Rancid!

R E D D K R O S S: Hit the Road!

In more tour news, L.A.’s Redd Kross will be embarking on a 2 month tour of the States which includes dates in Canada, and ends, fittingly, in L.A.

C U R V E: Digital Discography blowout!

   For any either curious or simply frustrated by the lack of extant material available for
digital download from their considerable discography spanning from 1991 to 2003, Curve have made their back catalogue almost entirely available, along with a trove of other goodies, on Bandcamp.   

RM2 Curve
Curve-erts: Basking in arc light.

From their first triad EP’s, to out of print singles, to all the major LP’s, Curve had made
these, along with other rarities (including an EP of Foetus remixes), available for any who
either missed out on their collection the first time, or, are looking to get with the digital
age. Many of the bands singles and EP’s especially are in still exceptional, ravishing form, and listeners can finally get ahold of stalwart LP’s like Cuckoo and Come clean, or complete their collection with a number of tha band’s self-released material.

   A much more humble and less commodisized operation than the other major downloading outlets, Bandcamp is a donation based website that connects members (who sign up free of charge) with thousands of artists of varying genres and recording histories. Curve’s slender visability on major downloading applications compared to other artists is an ironic solidification of their independent credibility, which at the time was a subject of much contention.

K I T T I E: bassist Trish Doan, passes aged 31.

In more somber news, since print of last months installation, it’s been confirmed Kittie
bassist Trish Doan has passed away, aged 31. The Korean born bassist joined in 2006, but left after only 2 years, later revealing the departure was due to an eating disorder she was
suffering concurrently within her placement in the line-up. Thankfully she re-joined in 2012, and was still an active member until her untimely death on February 13th. It is not entirely conclusive the circumstances of her death, but their documentation the musician was suffering from Depression.


C    O    S    M    E    T    I    C     renovation.

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B   E   F   O   R   E
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A   F   T   E   R

 In 1991, Therapy’s primary vocalist/songwriter Andy Cairns was largely indistinguished from metal/grunge’s brethren of bruiting, bashful, and bitter ‘angry young men’. He had the nose ring, the 20 day, homeless man stubble, and a mop of sweat drenched tresses to whip in the puss of anyone who might mistake him for any Johnny-come-lately.
   By 1992, when, as Flaming Lips front man put it, major labels were signing any ‘alternative’ band that walked, Therapy? found themselves a deal after only 2 mini albums. But Cairnes was no docile doe in the greedy grip of the corporates. In fact, aware he was likely signed with his his Seattle-esque appearance in mind, he almost immediately chopped his hair, trimmed his beard, disowning any prediliction to conformity. Not to worry. Unlike their many peers who came and almost as quickly were gone, Cairns is still making gritty rock some 26 years later, the paucity of which only shows their value.


D   E   C   O   P   O   L   I   S:  10  Totemic  Treasures

RM 2 D 1

Cooper plays voyeur to an autodestructivee, unrequited object of affection in this single that should have sold millions (they went out and bought I’m Too Sexy instead). Everything clicks with just the right weight, atmosphere, and pace that elevates this power ballad somewhere atop the Janie Got A Gun vein. And did Madonna lift the concept for this promo for her 1993 clip Bad Girl (directed by Fight Club’s David Fincher) only a year later?

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Even if those other ‘gazers looked like a phalanx of reticent and angsty art students listening to Byrds for hours on end, the record shows we had some respite in the form of these Bolan- imbibing blitzkrieg rockers. There was not a teasing comb, feather boas, satin blouse or shade of red lipstick they didn’t have a dalliance with. As it turned out, they were like the male consortium of Lush, with a high enough voice to shatter any silent matinee idol for life.

RM 2 D 3

Reconvening after over a decade of abstinence, The Misfits re-launched with a new vocalist, Michale Graves, who turned out to be at worst a respectable replacement for the invaluable Danzig. With the advantage of major label (Geffen) amenities, they never sounded so robust. The title track (with a segregated intro originally performed on Jerry Only and Doyle’s side project Kryst The Conqueror), is a full-fisted, palm-muted, doo-woping wallop of metallurgy, betraying lyrical asides to Bret Easton Ellis’ titular book.

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Living well and truly up to their namesake, Rubella Ballet were like birds of paradise in a
murder of old crows. They had savvy melodies to burn, and a polemic which they blew kissed through clouds, rather than brow-beaten on soap-boxes. Even the vociferous Crass (where the band met) were left under their amiable spell. The promo betrays a band on a meager budget, but the track is every color of the rainbow…even black.

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With, ahum, two bands under his belt and in his pocket, vocalist Rob Halford sojourned into au currount metallics of the late nineties with this Nine inch Nail-ed (and indeed produced and released by Reznor himself) industrial-metal knockout. It didn’t enrapture audiences perfectly content with Manson, White Zombie, and …Powerman 5000 ? But it wasn’t for a lack of content. Two out three ain’t bad… Beware of the NC-15 video!

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‘Pistols Paul Cook and Steve Jones almost immediately after the implosion of their first famous band, became a much demanded pair for a number of artists including Johnny Thunders and Joan Jett. On their own, they threw up this snappy piece of punk’d bubblegum. Both the ‘soundtrack’ to The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle and it’s single contain alternate vocals from both Cook and Jones. To befuddle matters more, this clip contains even more Cooks’ and Jones’ singing the chorus. Silly Things.

RM 2 D 7

So exactly, why did everyone stop paying as close attention to the formidable Miss Cherry? Perhaps her successive (but not as successful) releases after the bounce of Buffalo Stance were decidedly more subdued affairs. But she kept her integrity and keen ear largely intact. And that voice belied a great deal more heft than acknowledged. Woman is a torchy Portishead styled lament for the fairer sex complete with orchestra, funk, and glittering, cinematic promo. A scorcher.

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Originally recorded in 1993, this musical spoken word album was released posthumously, and is an astonishingly jarring and jaundiced stream of conscience delivery layered atop a mercurial volte-face of style(s) and substance(s). The lead-off track is a nightmarish piece of punkish prose where she loads her disaffection and alienation into her protagonist’s perverse vantage. A doubly prescient recording as, not only did her woes with the first Bush re-activate with the election of her son, but the finale Face To Face With Death proved horribly true when Acker succumbed to breast cancer in 1997.

RM 2 D 9

Only in the early eighties would a UK 2nd gen punk band, getting exiguous exposure on a national chart show, equate even moderate success as a death knell to it’s credibility. Somehow, only 5 years after the Billboard wouldn’t even name God Save The Queen in the number 1 slot, Top Of The Pops invited The Exploited to mime to it’s simplest, catchiest rave-up. After this, sales for the initially successful single waned, so hastening punk’s cavorting with the enemy…for a while.

RM 2 D 0

Sometimes a good song is a good song, regardless of the hype, heavy rotation or genre. And Reba’s interpretation of Fancy is a great one. Whether singing about AIDS or Frito Lays (!), ain’t nobody got the sass, brass, and class of Mizz McEntire. This is a stomping, gritty tale of Dickension proportions of a destitute, sickly mother sending her 18 year old daughter off in a red dress with ‘a slit from the side clean up to my hip’ with advice to ‘just be nice to the gentlemen’.


D     I     S     S  – claimor

afrocentric A

   Now that rap has seemingly, commercially at least, jettisoned it’s one time abundance of
personality, invention, and bravery, in exchange for repetition, celebrity, and creatively
sedentary chart filler, it’s almost arcane to find any contemporary rap that bespeaks that the glory days are bound to reconvene.

   Rap seems to have been co-opted and made a consistent retail by a phallanx of whites
consisting of middle-class suburbans, erudite counter culture revivalists, or, simply,
impressionable, low-income teenagers who are mad at everything and everyone, but aren’t without a cogent means to expound why.

   Rap music’s build up from underground spoken word, to pungent and esoteric niche, to
commercially auspicious sub-genre, to flagrant baiting of transparent white values, to
impregnable force that record buyers could neither tame nor discount has been among music’s most fascinating accelerants. Even able to singe rock and metal (once the alienated white male’s sole outlet for catharsis) melding into an ember of what once seemed a mutually exclusive existence.

   But as rap has now reached the zenith of commercial viability, with that comes the danger to be easily hoodwinked: a style almost beyond the point of critical evaluation. The
disenfranchised turning a judicious afrocentric weapon of autonomy, polemic, and outrage into, well, a franchise. White pubescents presumptuously believing a few blasts of the top ten over the car stereo somehow engenders them an epiphany of the African American experience from slave to superstar. And that’s if they even care at all, perhaps just limply, implicitly complying with the de rigueur of ready-made, off-the-shelf rebellion.

African Americans are becoming, and already are uncomfortable with what’s essentially a shallow, racially discriminate supposition of their social class, educational aptitude, and ethical rectitude.

What’s fortunate is, as many within the creative context of rap/hip-hop are startlingly aware of this, have taken the underground… well, back to the underground. In a congruent climate to that which existed in the eighties, where post-punk and rock began to foment as a reaction to tepid, fabricated ‘new wave’, African American artists are similarly repudiating the commercial compromises to produce a challenging, authentic… alternative. It’s a bold and exciting reclamation of what would otherwise limp moribund into a state of diminutive redundancy and cyclonic slogans wearing a shallow hole into the ground.

It’s hardly surprising the median African American man/woman would see, with disturbing frequency, that music (commercial rap/hip-hop) that’s supposed to represent their unique experience in a pale-toned patriarchy, often oversimplifies and/or makes caricature of what could be have, and has entertained, the potential for solidarity, into what essentially imposes a white middle class rule-of-thumb in calibrating afrocentricity: Is it all wine, women, ‘thug life’, and the glorification of criminality as a means of Darwinian survival in a white only Dickension world?

Poet/writer R e g  E.  G a i n e s performs ‘Cab’. Lyrical, funny, biting, and genius. Just as rap was supposed to be.

You can’t (nor shouldn’t) be alarmed African Americans are becoming, and already are
uncomfortable with what’s essentially a shallow, racially discriminate supposition of their
social class, educational aptitude, and ethical rectitude. In such a climate, great and
challenging things are happening under the radar, and indeed have, as they were when rap, before the monetary floodgates began trickling, was essentially performed, advertised, and coordinated at a guileless grassroots level.

The potential and magnitude of these artists is by large legion. But the perspectives and
insight is invaluable, glimmering with a clarity, levity, and brevity that pop tainted (or is it
contaminated?) modern hip-hop seems entirely disinterested in engaging.

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There may be those that claim this class of hip-hop is merely an antiquated attempt to capture the glory days of yore. Or, is an over righteous sedation of ‘Gangsta rap’s more direct, uncompromising, and provocative prose, one that’s trivializing a hardly fought, painstakingly gained soapbox to never dishonor or betray. That’s an argument with admitted weight. But as complaints mount that rap is descending into puerile, misogynist solipsism – that it perpetuates cliches about African Americans – That it’s uses of soliloquy are being attenuated and abused, projecting, however consciously, a philosophy of extreme violence as a means for, at most, survival, at least, fantasy employed and directed at perceived rivals. But generally as a, probably even the only, constructive means of amending conflict.

The standing of women in this complicated mileau is also at risk of being attenuated and altogether degraded. At the beginning, rap had Queen Latifah, Monie Love, and Sister Souljah as female role models. Somewhere in the mid-nineties, female rappers became more sexualized, using innuendo and frank, explicit rhymes as a means of leveling the playing (battle)field. But, along with a sea change in oration, female rappers like Foxy Brown and Lil’ Kim bequeathed on their public a sartorial range to equal, even bypass, this new stance.

S i s t e r  S o u l j a h, described as a ‘raptivist’, on Phil Donahue, sounding like she’s 20 years ahead, rather than behind.

Frustratingly, this potentially befuddled people’s notions, as, the distinction between this
and the burgeoning presence of ‘video ho’s, didn’t allow for any emphatic, cogent treatise to counter the umbrage being posed by a few, but vocal discerning: were they deflating stereotypes? Were they inhibiting, or inhabiting them? Now, among the more prolific and publicly engaged female rappers, this archetype seems to be  none abating, as viable as ever.

But even more exciting, is the African American sliver of performers who are tracing their
roots to a very long and rich musical descendancy: rock and punk. From documentaries about all black proto punk trio Death, to Afropunk, African American’s are asserting their roles in variety of musical sojourns. Although astonishingly marginalized, there has yet to be anything to suggest their place and influence from early garage of the sixties affinity for Blues, to hardcore punk bands like the Bad Brains. Or even recently in the buzz generated by NYC punk band Cerebral Ballzy, roles are quietly being redefined, and integrating exhilarating ways for African Americans to (re)introduce and re-assert themselves in a creative environ beyond rap or hip-hop (which, today sees a large introduction of whites appropriating the genre, but also it’s style, and even diction).

If today’s complacent and vapid rap ‘stars’ are what hair-metal was in the eighties, hopefully the unsung intelligentsia, in as an abrupt a volte face as alternative was in the nineties, of the genuinely alienated will reap and be vindicated for their blood, sweat, and teen spirit. Having neutralized every disingenuous charlatan with a doo rag and a potty mouth, in this sublimity of potential presentiments, real Afrocentric punk/urban/underground oriented artists will see, along with an unsuspecting world: instant nirvana.


RM 2 Adorable

With an impulsively concocted cock-of-the-walk attitude, Adorable had a forceful personality that aptly connected the dots between sincere indie-pop star, to flashy, carefully trailing- the-rails rock idol. Though they played both aspects of this duality with equal aplomb, a lack of timing, distribution politics, and putting the egocentric component of their agenda into overdrive (proto-Oasis, a thunder to be stole had it been able to strike for them to begin with), abbreviated them just as they were revolving into their stride.

Sunshine Smile EP is considered their first official release (the band, previously known as
Candy Thieves with a different member, recorded a 12″ which was never properly released), is a heck of a way to begin any entry: cherubic bubble gum guitar picking, gets backhanded by undulating feedback, with a heaven sent melody that cools, crawls marvelously back, and then speeds it’s pace to a crunchy finale. Perfect.

This, and single I’ll be Your Saint (but sadly not some of the a-side, ace-level b-sides that
accompanied their respective EPs) bookend the marvelous LP Against Perfection, their debut. Adorable exemplify, if not gross originality, as would be called out by erudite listeners who bespoke their Echo & the Bunnymen/Jesus & Mary Chain DNA, a band with every requisite required to foment a truly great rock ‘n’ roll swindle: attitude, raw emotion, and tunes, tunes, tunes.

We never did get to set the world alight, but we got as far as striking the match.Piotr Fijalkowski)

There’s everything from the snarly dissaffection of Favorite Fallen Idol, the paternally
fractured word picture of A To Fade In, the glorious churning, tripping (and trippy) build-up of Sistene Chapel Ceiling (accompanied by a deft paint-splattered promo), and finally the romantic melancholy of penultimate Breathless. If they claim to be against perfection, they’re otherwise only out of spitting distance from it. An encouraging, exciting enterprise.

Amidst what should’ve have been a happening, breakthrough record, came distribution squabbling between Creation and SBK of which they apparently received the lethal brunt. Besides this, the band somehow managed to get on the collective decollatege of most journalists, mostly due to disproportionate evaluations of themselves, and presumptions of their destined trajectory (an assertion that perhaps was misunderstood or, has been exaggerated), however arch or merely tongue-in-cheek. It was a crucial demographic to alienate (some nonplussed reviews of live shows only hastened critics exasperation), not least of all during what should have been an accelerant to their flame throwing build-up. A P.R. miscalculation en excelsis.

A D O R A B L E‘s Official Promo for Sistine Chapel Ceiling.

A year later the group resumed recording under different, more commercially broader climes, but returned with a renewed and subdued outlook for LP Fake. Maybe not as arrogant and in your face as it’s older brother, Fake is still becoming to the listener (however checkered at this point) because the band haven’t lost their craftiness. They’ve simply channeled it into something that captures them at a more tempered, paced, and poignant interim: A Darklands to their Psycho-candy.
But Adorable still rocks, however. Kangaroo Court starts with a rigorous, snotty bass lick,
before vocalist Ptor begins his snappy soapbox against his humorless critics with bull’s eye prose. Here, unlike it’s debut, Fake isn’t as easy to fasten to the gods of yore, which gives the LP more of it’s own identity, thus heightening the why-not paradox of their stilted ascension.

Strangely, Adorable, at least in fickle music terms, could’ve have been Brit-pop’s god children, if not the elder statesmen, with this LP, but it wasn’t to be. Since the release of their last record, the band have not performed, recorded, or released, save for 2008 compilation Footnotes 92 – 94 (this compiles the singles, key tracks, and the plum of the b-sides from both eras). Ptor can be occasionally be seen performing acoustic solo sets in more intimate settings, adorable to the end, still nowhere in sight.


RM2 Old Skull

Every avenue in the combustible commodity that is the public’s eye view of arts and
entertainment has always fancied the distracting respite of seemingly prodigious, precocious, or simply gifted before the time young peoples functioning something almost exclusively wrought by their older generation. Vaudeville, film, and music all have a legible hand in either promoting or exploiting this rarified creatures.

Music especially has given us a share of ‘stars’ and ‘talents’ we simply can’t lock our eyes
away from, that is until the calendar flips towards their pubescent rites, and we simply replace the old(er) with young.

For punk, most of this is largely inapplicable to a degree. In fact, youth’s quaking
precipice towards pre-adulthood and the resultant disaffection or abstraction it creates is a wholly more independent platform, defying show business politics and ageist austerity.

In eighties, performers like Venus DeBuane, the McDonald brothers adolescent band Red Kross, Earth Dies Burning, or Stinky Puff’s Simon Fair Timony, were anywhere from 6 to 11. But alas, for the most part, these ventures deployed either a young child surrounded by adults keeping time, or simply were a group of friends flirting with punk’s anything goes motifs as a covert with an ulterior aside.

What makes this thrice unsettling is the fact that we’re hearing content from someone of such slender age, speaking obvious reality we often push or disquiet within our own conscience – the fears of adults transmuted through a worldview of children, whom the adults are supposed to have ensconced in the first place.

Wisconsin’s Old Skull challenges, maybe even hunts-to-it’s-death, this prototype like it were old news before they even came kicking and screaming into the world. These are not rambunctious, Dennis-The-Menace-meets-Ramones slips of brats. Whatever they’re channeling creates a disorienting, recriminating swarm of petulance, fear, angst, and agony. Hanson they ain’t.

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Their debut LP Get Outta School, is either the worst record ever made or the best, depending on where you stand. With a mean age of 9, Old Skull are like ADHD Crass minotaurs who make Negative Approach and Minor Threat at their most tentative and unrehearsed sound welcoming. On Homeless, Old Skull boil down to vapor even punk’s basic rudiments with provocative analysis :”People that don’t have homes/I look in their eyes/And I see sadness… They’re not getting good enough education because of war games”. 

What makes this thrice unsettling is, not just the content, not the telepathy illuminating itself on the darkest recesses of our ‘mature’ mind. But it’s the fact that we’re hearing them from someone of such slender age, speaking obvious reality we often push or disquiet within our own conscience. It not only perforates our own comfort level, but where we believe we stand as far what our and others children are witness to, and what environ they’re actually absorbing.The fears of adults transmuted through a worldview of children, whom the adults are supposed to have ensconced in the first place.

However crude their non-sequiturs sound to us, the record creates an almost singular experience where we’re sharing a bleak experience with performers who, unlike many of their older mortals building their foundation from the creative strides and influence of others, Old Skull have no contemporaries, and acknowledge no authority but themselves. With their unadulterated imagination, they function exclusively within their own vacuum, unintentionally creating a ground zero. So they are, as Flipside Magazine stated, “ahead of their time, and don’t even know it”. Even Julien Temple’s Sex Pistols Doc commented how the 6 year olds ‘understood’ the band more than the adult did.

Elsewhere, the subjects are so ramshackle, they don’t even seem to be pre-meditated. A.I.D.S. is another uncomfortable treatise from people who ‘don’t know much’ about A.I.D.S., but become more unhinged and “feel afraid’ the more their little minds ruminate on it and the few key statistics they know: ‘dirty needles’ ‘99% chance’ ‘nothing you can do about it.
Save the vigilante fantasy of Kill That Man, the rest is an aggravated aggregation of non-pubescent mores: Skateboarding, the “principal’s a fool!”, the slightly melodic killing a dead eagle (which we’re informed you can’t do ‘just like you can’t kill the devil with a bomb’), skateboarding, etc. On Hot Dog Hell and Ogre On The Hill, we’re given a flash of young consumerism. On the former, vocalist/’guitarist’ J.P. becomes agitated when he’s served a lousy hot dog (not to mention the quote in advert exclaiming “Tiffany can kiss our a$$”). They’re probably a nightmare to babysit, but when let loose in the musical playpen, they make anything on Amphetamine Reptile sound disproportionately tame.

A few years later (which, for a band who debuted when they were nine is almost a full growth spurt), a newly arranged Old Skull returned older, but slightly more world weary with C.I.A. Drug fest. No longer sounding like a bunch of knee-high nihilists, the band is adopting rudimentary things like chord progressions and basic musical form. But Nevermind Juniors it isn’t.
They’re still as vociferous and totally defiant in creating whatever racket coursing through their pre-pubescent bodies – they just have some simple structures to hang it on. Kind of like what Slayer might have sounded like had they started at age ten.

Never trust anyone over 10! (Ad handle for their debut LP)

There’s the usual youthful chest-beating of Kick Ass (guess who that’s about); a remake of Homeless which for what it loses in shock-value gains in fervence; Willie’s Nightmare whom we gather has made them ‘mad’, but musically lives up to it’s namesake; Punkland envisions paradisiac conditions in an all punk world; original vocalist J.P. (now a spirited little spitfire of a drummer) returns to vocals for Pizza Man, and sounds like he’s having his cavities removed with an ice-pick. All while hectoring a pizza man about what toppings he wants and vows ‘If you are late?/You will give it to me for FREEEYAH”.

The same conceptual rush that made their first record such a jarring impression isn’t entirely worn out second time around, containing even more disconcerting polemic. Pissing Pot and the title track are spoken word pieces delivered over a slowly incendiary, whimpering churn that would rile any proud countrymen. But when filtered through the grouchy mouth of a 12 year old seems a diabolical execution that’s simultaneously confrontational, yet lulls both offended and apathetic alike into it’s own soapbox.

A lot of the bands intellectual bite lays at the feet of J.P. and James ‘Spike’ Toulan’s father Vern, guitarist for Missing Foundations. Many were almost immediately suspicious Vern Toulan was orchestrating Wizard of Oz style in reverse using the young performers as McClaren-esque conjugates for his own experiment. But, even if he is the McClaren to their ‘Pistols, the performances are all their own, and his few contributions would be rendered immaterial without the vibrance and spunk of his adolescent mouth-pieces – itself, a genius move.

It all ended rather tragically, however. Taking their political ethic to it’s most austere conclusion, they took up the squatterpunk lifestyle, playing intermittently in a handful of separate projects and some brief reformations of Old Skull.
Their father, allegedly reduced to vagrancy though able produce a documentary, met an abrupt demise, following his ex-wife, who had passed earlier. A decade later, the destitute, drug addicted and depressed Toulan’s soon followed their father through the mortal door marked exit: J.P. committed suicide in November of 2010, followed by brother Jamie, months later on the day Of what would’ve been his brother’s birthday. As if the cruel fate of this and actually being homeless wasn’t enough, it would go on record when asked what his last words for concluding an interview in 1989, J.P. replied: “Die Stupid”. But, you can’t kill a dead eagle…


R E :… R  E  V  I  E  W  E  D

T  Y  P  E    O    N  E  G  A  T  I  V  E, October Rust (1996)

RM2 Type O

Having hit a breakthrough with Bloody Kisses, their follow-up took a few years longer than previous successive releases, and upon hitting even half-attentive ears, it’s easy to see why.
October Rust is an extraordinary record of gothic, metallic alternatives, rather than goth metal alternative. This is where rupturing bellows and Sabbath sludgery (amalga)mates with swirling twin Cocteau-esque guitars, with no musical flourish, reference, or idea (bells, piano, strings) too taboo to encompass.

Rather than stumbling over conceit or ‘creative’ excess, or, limiting themselves to a finite subscription to hard rock’s rule-of-thumb, Type O Negative make their expansive, exacting, and exceptional sound seem effortless. And they do so over the course of a wide variety of tones, time signatures, and templates.

Steele’s subjects are beginning to broaden beyond deadpan T & A (a kink not entirely ironed out here), elevating themselves to astute and introspective word pictures. From his days as a park groundskeeper in Green Man, to Red Rover’s elegy to his Father, or the invaluable metaphors of the astonishing Love You To Death, Steele’s becoming more intrepid in penning lyrics that are personal and vivid, without confusing obfuscation for imagination.
The quality of the compositions is an astounding accomplishment for a band most would only hold in half-regard as misanthropist oriented, protracted head bangers. Steele throws one sophisticated melody in tandem to another marvelous chorus gliding on a wave of tuneful jubilation – and not one second of it sounds the least bit forced or contrived.
The band themselves are there to match Steele moment to moment in not letting the superb material go to naught. They bring all the right fervor, levity, and tenacity to material that is a tall order for any seasoned musician.

Type O Negative also seem to be one of the few bands who can withstand the vitality and breadth needed to make a longer song an interesting whole, rather than a stretched out idea(l) overstaying it’s welcome. And it’s all held together with not only that winking, noir-ish humor too few miss because of either ignorance or miscalculation, but it’s Steele’s steady hand to modulate his voice with perfect control, whatever the mood calls for, often within the seismic structures of the songs themselves: from baritone heavy, to hushed, to yearning, and back again.

Loosing none if their deadpan humor either, they also tempt fate with a pulverizing yet sincerely executed cover of Neil Young’s Cinnamon Girl. Which, is appropriate as, Rust clearly never sleeps. An autumnal, aural wonder.

L   E   E   W   A   Y, Desperate Measures, 1991.

New York’s Leeway present themselves as a forceful, formidable exercise in the time specific transmutation that was Crossover, or, where the staunch divide between strictly punk and strictly metal began to coalesce.

There’s isn’t only an opposing metal attack than L.A.’s glammed up phalanx in geographical terms. These kids come from the hard (often deadly) streets of New York, and their grittiness is almost unwittingly aural on this, their second LP. Which is another hair to split as this clearly (and thankfully) dictates the subject matter. No puerile paeans to scoring babes (although 2 minute Warning makes a maladroit attempt), as singer Eddie Stutton spray paints the walls with empirical prose pictures about a seedy world of ‘Dope’, ‘Kingpin’s, and ‘No Heroes’ going and gone awry.
But rather than just make cut and dry insights of the current world affairs variety, Stutton addresses his own angst and diffidence in a clear and empathetic manner.

Musically, the band are just what you’d expect from young men weened on Bad Brains, Agnostic Front, and other metal merchantmen. But they are a taut, adept brethren with just the right balance of sheer technique and velocity to make them a rousing alternative to anyone who wanted Nirvana and Pearl Jam to play a little faster, harder, with better solos and singer who’s like Andrew Dice Clay or Joe Pesci’s Kerraang subscribing little brother.
Stutton sings with a warts and all, throaty holler. He rarely induces himself to vapad screetching or guttural excesses, simply allowing the voice he has to actually sing, even when he cuts off or is marvelously off key.
With such a wide berth of anything to complain about, why not give this crossover bauble some leeway?

M   O   B   Y, Ambient, 1993.

RM 2 MobyBefore Car commercials, Gwen Stefani, or being hectored by Slim Shady at the MTV awards, Moby was becoming a nascent presence on the underground dance/house music scene in the early nineties. Even prior to this point he was himself, something of a seasoned, accomplished musician with credits including hardcore punk band Vatican Commandos, an early line-up of Ultra Vivid Scene, and allegedly one hot minute playing bass in Flipper (a claim vigorously countered by drummer Steve DePace).

He gained considerable momentum hi-pitching Twin Peake’s theme to rave-worthy and rave-heavy heights. But on Ambient, Moby displaces the hyper, impulse-driven energy, to a lower, more atmospheric octane that may not have has many thrills and pills, but is equally imaginative and dynamic – just in a more subtle, naunced, and ethereal way then listeners up to that point may have been accustomed to.

If nothing else, Ambient proves Mister Melville Hall can wrap his fingers around any sub-genre with the flourish, deftness, a pure depth of a true music lover. More than merely an ersatz Eno, A lot on here rivals the ambient-centric soundscapes that appeared on many later records, simply for their appropriate restraint, variety, and shading.

Even with a commercial breakthrough still many years off, Ambient shows it was the world that needed to catch up with him, not the other way around. Ambient isn’t a music soundtrack to set the night on ablaze… but maybe one to watch it slowly burn.

N E W   Y O R K   D O L L S, One Day It Will Please Us Even To Remember This, 2006.

The band that even the ‘Pistols can’t discredit heartily, New York Dolls have left their impregnable legacy as harmbingers of punk, and even as performers themselves. But considering that this is their third ever release (sans many live, demo, and ‘hit’ compilations), and one coming over 30 years after their last recording session of new material, some couldn’t blamed for being even a little incredulous.
Even not having been extant as band for that many decades, and with only two original members remaining, from the few turns of One Day…, it’s clear these dolls haven’t lost any of their zip. As a matter of fact, with the ‘new rock’ revolution proffered and hyped by the media and the bands themselves (the ‘The’ phenomena), it’s clear who the real McCoys are, and even with disingenuous brats to one third their age, New York Dolls flick off their clamoring competition with a veteran’s savoir faire.

The band don’t bother playing catch up to the ubiquity of modern trend. That agenda never played into their trajectory, even in their prime. Instead, they continue right where they left off, and somehow they sound as visceral and vital as ever.
The band do take some chances to prevent any stagnation, but their vice-grip on what makes an authentic rock record is infallible, and, in 2006, quite unrivaled.

Whether it’s the bouncy boogie of the clever Dance Like A Monkey, the bluesy weariness that runs down the face of I Ain’t Got Nothin’, or the posterior smacking likes of Take A Good Look At My Good Looks, this is class A material with heart, sizzle, and sex appeal. The kind which is made all the more invaluable considering what passes for rock, punk, and glam these days. For a band who once sang about having a Personality Crisis, they’re evidently having no such complications. ‘One day’? Try every day it should please you to remember especially this.

F  A  S  T  B  A  C  K  S, Zucker, 1993.

Seattle’s Fastbacks have more than just their geographic locale and their affiliation with Sub-Pop as time served in the vast world of would-be punk bands. Fronted by both Lulu Gargiulo and Kim Warnick, they not only by this point had been performing for over a decade (even acquiring Duff McKagen for a brief time on drums), but on Zucker, they perfected their penchant for precision pop and buzzy, buoyant back beat into a sublime formula, without sounding like a formula at all.

RM 2 FastbacksThis is what the Ramones had always been aiming for all along. But where as the Ramones can only go so far in equalling the cherubic vocal harmonies of the Ronnettes, both Gargiulo and Warnick reach closer to that constellation to disarming effect.
Even better, where a lesser punker would stockpile aimless ‘angst’, Fastbacks realize it’s much within their class and range to opt for real melancholy instead. Where as others obfuscate a lack of good material with a battering ram of scree(tches), Fastbacks have the kind of deft ear for perfect pop melody that, if they so choose, would put them on the top of any pop-stars list in need of resuscitation.

There’s all kinds of goodies to savor here: the wistful, and covertly aching rave-up of the speedy Gone To The Moon; The slow waltzing, dreamy guitars and vocals of All About Nothing; the girl group slow churn of They Don’t Care; and the swelling finale That Was. Hell, even a cover of the 1967 Bee Gee’s hit Please Read Me, and a walloping instrumental win them extra points.

Not to go unmentioned is the multitasking Kurt Bloch (yes, another Kurt, i know). Not only the band’s guitarist, but co-writer and producer. He’s the savvier, more refined production alternative to Jack Endino’s more surging, grittier approach. He’s works wonders on the band’s royal flush of flawless material and poppy punk, not pop-punk. A great introduction to a great band. May you be very happy together.


M  A  E   the roads rise: Divastruction.

RM2 Mae Murray
Sexy Bee-east: Mae Murray in the lost film Circe the Enchantress, 1924.

You wouldn’t say she ever got a standing ovation for her screen performances. But the word enchantment, both in her film titles and her authorized biography, was appropriate as she was a rapidly moving delicatesse of graceful dance moves, uncanny emoting, and disorienting, infantile whimsy.
Her reputation as egocentric, avaricious, borderline personality totemic of all things delusional, Cyreniac of the silent era is surely not without credence: where’s there’s smoke…

Nonetheless, despite an exhaustive and surreal rise and pendulous fall from New York born dancer, movie star, marriage into aristocracy, to impoverished, fading pantomime of her former self, Murray most frequently comes up when the silent decad(anc)e is discussed.

She began her career in earnest acting and dancing alongside Irene Castle, but allocated greater autonomy as a dancer in the Ziegfeld Follies. No spit in the bucket as, being part of the Follies was apparently akin to an unoffical ordination into film work and beyond. To illustrate it’s luster and taste-making, Diana Vreeland, once reminisced about seeing one of Follies dancers Dolores who was ‘very highly paid just to walk across the stage – and the whole place would go to pieces’.

Eventually films beckoned, and Murray, with director/husband Robert Z. Leonard, began to seduce film goers with her grande standing sartorial and film presence (the studio was dubbing her the ‘Girl with the bee-stung lips”), although the more discerning reviewers were not reticent about Murray’s superficiality and lack of acting aplomb. Even some her contemporaries took umbrage: Louise Brooks “She was a most ridiculous woman, and a most ridiculous actress”.

Not an abundance of Murray’s films are either available to the public or even known to exist. She did appear with Valentino, and was briefly, briefly directed by Josef von Sternberg. The crown jewel of her appearances is Erich von Stroheim’s The Merry Widow. Although their association together was, to quote Kurt Cobain’s simile about himself and Courtney, ‘like Evian water and battery acid’, their divergent dedication to decadence fomented a genuine tension producing in Murray what is regarded as her most compelling and complimentary screen volley.

(Early 2-color test film featuring Mae Murray)

She ill-advisably terminated her film contract, and would regret it almost immediately. She did make a few sojourns into sound film, but the suspension of disbelief and abandon of the twenties gave way to the dire and gritty rigors of the Depression.

When she was approached to be the protagonist in Billy Wilder’s faded-silent-star-gone-crazy black comedy Sunset Boulevard (which also would have re-united her von Stroheim), it was recorded she took exceptional offense to the very notion, and, later upon completion, the film itself.

If nothing else, Murray brought true joie de vivire to her dancing and film roles, even if her jarring histrionics threaten (and sometimes succeed) in perforating the very platform she stands on. Regardless, her insular fantasy of self-belief is a moving stroke of defiant self-creation, the god-sister of auto mythology. If decadence were rebellion, Mae Murray would be a Medea in lipstick traces of which every Gaga and Lypsinka would count first in their matrilineage.

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…R e i t e r a t i o n a l l e !

R M 2And so concludes another dim spangle of pseudo journalistic triteness on the otherwise drab dress of your holier than thou chest thumping ‘maturity’. Yes, oh how one aims for pedantic like worthiness. 
In recap, real rap and urban are good. Very good. Fraudulent, profit hungry sell-outs, mmm, hate to say it, we’re kindly escorting you the door marked exit.
Exciting, boggling, or maybe even unstomachable music can be made at any age, and How. Sometimes no matter HOW good you are, you still fall on deaf, dumb, and bland ears. Victom 1? Adorable.

And finally divadom is a hard and harrowing cross to bear. But only the godlike can do it in face full of sincerely scrawled warpaint (Mae, we still love you). And, great rock STILL exists. You just have to find, or, maybe it will find you…

Peace! Cheers!  And     R    O    C    K   ‘  N  ‘    R    O   L   L    !

First blog post

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What’s  O  L  D  Is NEWS Again..

H  o  l  e/L  o  v  e: Not in a nineties mood:

   In the flux of ’90’s’ revivalism (ulgh), One of the era’s most recognizable figures remains a hold-out, at least as far as nostalgia is concerned. Courtney Love, the media-centric riot grrrl turned film ingenue, has remained seemingly reluctant, if not vehement altogther, in either re-issueing or compiling her band Hole’s three album’s worth of material.

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COURTNEY LOVE: Montage of ‘eeelch!’.

Former bassist (from 94 – 99) Melissa Auf Der Maur revealed on the Nardwuar the Human Serviette Radio Show she had broached the subject of commemorating the bands ouvre with former Miss Cobain (er, and former Miss Moorehead). Love seemed disinterested by the idea, seemingly directing her focus to the then new material released under the same band legend, with her the only original member (the original line-up did a two song re-union at a screening of drummer Patty Schemeal’s documentary ‘Hit So Hard’).
Neither their bracing debut (which Love still pulls sparingly from on occasion during live sets), nor the breakthrough “Live through This’ has been dealt the same honor of re-issue status by as equal or even lesser contemporaries.
A curious move, as, the original LP was considerably doctored upon release(omitting the fantastic Rock Star for Olympia due to the lyric “How would like to be Nirvana/So Much fun to be Nirvana/…I’d rather die”, without changing the switch out on the sleeve), and whose B-sides and outtakes range from the full version of the title track (featuring Cobain on backup, which were mixed way down on the release, but which Courtney leaked to the Bootleg series “Outcesticide”). To ‘Old Age’, originally composed by her late husband (with the intro tacked on to the front of’Credit in the Straight World’, but which appeared on the former) and performed a year Later on ‘MTV Unplugged’.
Courtney also claims Kurt lent vocals to ‘Softer, Softest’, but, unless anyplans to give a proper re-issue are forthcoming, most of this material will remain vaulted, various bootleg versions notwithstanding.

H  e  n  r  y   R  o  l  l  i  n  s:  Popular Weekly Podcast in Limbo?:

   During the beginning of 2015, vocalist, spoken word performer, and actor Henry Rollins debuted a weekly podcast serial, with co-host Heidi May, regaling listeners on a random assortment of biographical experiences from his days in working in pet stores, to the monumental task of fundraising for the Memphis three.

   Despite it’s clear popularity, the podcast was, without explanation, suspended, and over a year later has not been re-activated. Rollins did make a passing post on his Facebook account remarking about it’s eventual return. He was busy starring in feature length film He Never Died that year, and this year had leading roles in two other feature films. As well, Rollins is a regular contributor for the LA weekly.

I  a  n   M  a  c  k  a  y  e: Denies performing with Al Jourgensen!

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IAN MACKAYE: Now you see him, now you don’t!

Yes, yes. Sadly it appears the beloved Pailhead (an industrialized, hardcore informed collaboration one-off), and their subsequent live iteration have been exposed as hoodwinking attendees in the late ’80’s.

According to former Minor Threat/Fugazi (currently of the Evens) vocalist Ian Mackaye, he revealed in an interview that he initially acquiesced to Ministry’s Al Jourgensen kindly invitation to contribute vox and lyrics to a project later released under the nomer Pailhead. However, when it was elected to do live performances of the material, Mackaye
‘politely’ declined.

No less deterred, it is claimed (by Mackaye) Jourgensen proceeded with live shows, but used (gulp!) a shaven-headed roadee resembling Mackaye. Sadly, the conceit was a little too successful, as Mackaye subsequently encountered attendees, or friends of, who ‘swear’ they indeed
witnessed Mackaye as party of this live interaction.

Jourgensen was more successful in procuring another punk, Jello Biafra, for the marvelous Lard ensemble, with Biafra remarking dryly that fans are always asking when Lard will re-unite, which, is at least a step forward from always asking when the Dead Kennedy’s will re-unite.

D E C A O P O L I S: Ten Totemic Treasures… 

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A D A M S K IGet Your Body (Fr: Get Your Body 12″, 1992) :

A remixed version off Adamski’s second LP is a wildly collaborative effort between the animated Adamski, and the even more anime new wave Nina Hagen. Invigorating dance floor done de rigueur. Get this ‘body’!


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B E E F, Lazen Hags (Fr: Low Slung Town LP, 1991) :

Coming off like an anarcho-tinged version of the Smiths, this 1990 single turned out to be something of an anomaly. With scowling, deadpan bass, and nimble, roughshod riffing, It’s kind of what Sinead O’Connor might have sounded like had she signed to Crass records, and not Ensign. Singer Jane Stokes looks like Debbie Harry and Jean Seberg, sounds like Ari Up, but acts quite unlike anything seen before. Hag-tastic!


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A P P E N D I X, Kuitenkin Kuolemme (Fr:Ei Raha Oo Munn Valuuttaa LP, 1982) :

Frankly, they haven’t been bothered, or, are capable to come up with a punk band as exciting as this… 20 years later. Finnish punks all had great style, and Appendix was arguably the most popular. They all look like they could be models, But fare from pretty vacant are they. Especially with singer Mikki Borgensen leering into your soul while pouring you some milk. Don’t pronounce it, rock it!


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B R E N D A   K A H NI don’t sleep I drink coffee instead (Fr: Epiphany In Brooklyn LP, 1992) 

Not another female singer with an acoustic guitar, you say. Well yes… but no! Brenda was described by one plussed Youtube viewer as a hybrid of Violent Femmes and Ani Difranco. Quite accurate. But Kahn’s got a voice sharply nuanced, ambivalent voice which she uses to construct shaky, uncomfortable milieu. And she wears motorcycle boots with unshaven pitties. Epiphanies!


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G I T A N E   D E M O N EHeavenly Melancholy (Fr: Facets In Blue, Comp. LP, 1993)

After bidding farewell to the dank-ship ‘Death’ grip, Gitane debuted as solo chanteuse with equal measures technique and gravitas. This what Madge’s Erotica might have sounded like if someone let a few shafts of warmth in. Skip the remix, this has enough undulating oomph to help even Hilary Clinton get her groove back.


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L I G O T A G ECrime And Passion (Fr: Crime And Passion 7″, 1983) 

Would you believe Beki has actually expressed a level of contrition over this “glam-punk” volley, grouped together in tandem after her departure from Vice Squad? Whatever. Beki sounds incredible, looks sensational (in a punked-up Tarzan Jane two-piece mini-dress), and this single (b/w Vanity) is a fist-pumping slice of crafty, literate 2nd-wave sizzle. Yum!


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S C R E A M E RS, 122 Hours Of Fear, (Fr: Live At Target VHS, 1978) 

So, we hear a LOT, about so-called ‘originality’. About bands who were ‘ahead of their time’. But then you have the Screamers, and those descriptions would be prosiac, no less oversimplification. This band was so damn radical, they didn’t even bother with studio recordings, and lead singer Tomata du Plenty is beyond worthy of his band’s namesake…on a good day.


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T R I B E, Joyride (I Saw The Film)(Fr: Abort LP, 1992)

No, not that, Joyride. Boston’s much beloved Tribe were sort of a sophisticated bunch, coming off as many parts Pixies, as they were Go-betweens or Sisters of Mercy fronted by Pat (Bag) Morrison. Basically everything Shakespear’s Sister aimed for, but didn’t get quite right. ‘Joyride’ sounds like a number 1 smash from ’92, slam-banging as many hot-wired chords, bursts of smooth frenzy, and catchy as a vintage McDonalds advert. I’m LOVIN” it!


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O L D  S K U L LHomeless (Fr: Get Oughta School LP, 1989) 

R&B had New Edition, Pop had Hanson, Country had Billy Gilman (yessss, reader, Billy Gilman). So why can’t US hardcore have it’s own pre pre pre-pubescent misbegotten skate urchins spitting declamatory prose like:”They don’t have enough money to pay the rent. Because they don’t have good enough jobs. Why don’t they have good enough jobs? Because of War games. Makes me feel dumb, and i’m pissed OOOff!”. No arguments here.


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 C A R O L E   P O P EFrancis Bacon  (Fr: Francis Bacon, Single download, 2005)

You know how some singers from decades past just keep serving up placid, unchallenging drivel, while cashing the cheque? Not Carole Pope. Her voice is just as pitch-perfect and savvy as it was 3 decades ago, and her latest material shows there’s no excuse for not setting the bar higher, just because your backing band wasn’t even drawing breath when got your first nomination. Respect.


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S U N S H O TStop Me (Fr: Caughtintheactofenjoyingourselves LP, 1992

They had a drum machine, but weren’t Sisters of Mercy. They had phlangey guitars, but weren’t Curve. Comparisons aside, they did have the mezzo-esque voice of their seductive singer, and a guitarist whose brother was an original member of All About Eve/Sisters of Mercy. But, um, Stop right there, because this is murkier, crunchier, and more atmospheric than the lot. Like Sarah Brightman weened on Nine Inch Nails.


 D I S S – claimer

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With The re-release of Penelope Spheeris’ triad of documentaries depicting various iterations of the L.A. music scene should come a healthy re-evalution of the merits of all films, especially the last, released in 1998 to mostly abbreivated, anemic audience and playbox.

    Focusing less on the musical clime of punk in the late nineties, Spheeris redirects her attention away from a genre no longer a social taboo, but a small fringe of so-called ‘Crust punk’s.

Taking punk’s ethical stance to greater extremes, they largely repudiate adjoining themselves to the status quo by means of homogenization, commerce, etc. Instead relying on solidarity, community, even if it leaves them largely smoldering between the cracks of society. Sadly, this intrinsic point has been lost to most.

Even with the passing of almost 20 years, Spheeris bracing, unflinching portaiture is still being picked and squinted at by grubby hands, and closed minds.

Case in point, a ‘Podcast’ episode from the Outside The Cinema, which featured three ̵