Archive for the ‘ Punk ’ Category

Bintangs “Genuine Bull”

Genuine Bull

Commonly referred to as the Rolling Stones of the Lowlands, Bintangs are also one of the longest lived Dutch groups (they’ve been at it since the late 50s).  Prior to Genuine Bull, Bintangs had released 3 albums in the late 60s/early 70s and some fine garage rock/nederbeat singles a bit earlier (seek out 65’s “Splendid Sight” and 67’s “Please Do Listen”).   After years of personnel changes, Bintangs had finally stablized a solid lineup in 1974 and released arguably their finest album to date.

Genuine Bull was first issued in 1975.  Produced by Steve Verroca and recorded in Rockfield Studios in Monmouth, Wales, the lp is usually considered one of the best by a Dutch band.  Exile On Main Street must’ve been a major inspiration for these guys but I also hear, more distantly, the primitive, tribal sounds of Captain Beefheart and Dr. John etched deep within Genuine Bull‘s grooves (another point of reference: Roy Loney and the Flamin’ Groovies).  The album’s foundation is blues-rock (a medium Bintangs would never stray from) but this fine lp’s tense guitar playing and angst fueled vocals will also appeal to garage-rock and proto punk fans.  The first three tracks of Genuine Bull show off this lean, hard rock attack and the world is a better place for it.    The guitar work on Stone’s inspired gem “Hobo Man” is imaginative, “Insight Inside Out” is a raw garage rock/hard rock shouter, and “Agnes Grey,” one of the LP’s finest numbers, is downright epic.  Other tracks such as “New Orleans, New Orleans” and “Biyou Woman” stand out for their evil hoodoo swamp rock thang.   And while the latter description might sound strange knowing this band hails from the Netherlands,  Bintangs make their odd stew of American roots music work for them in spades.  Also of note is “Do John,” another swampy rhythm & blues number with a killer Bo Diddley beat, greasy harp and stellar guitar solos.   Genuine Bull is loaded with great moments like these; there’s plenty of character to be found here.

Overall, I can’t imagine anyone complaining about this group’s delivery.  Bintangs’ songwriting is very solid; the musicianship while reckless in a Rolling Stones/Faces manner, is still very impressive at heart, showing off lots of skill and talent.   Groups from the Netherlands always had a knack for mutating American blues and rock n roll traditions into something original and bracing.  Had the Rolling Stones released a record like this in 1975 it would have been seen as a blessing.  Genuine Bull is a much better album than It’s Only Rock N Roll or Black And Blue and stays true to rock n roll’s roots whereas the Rolling Stones of the mid 70s were studio slick and formulaic.

Bintangs have never really received their due.  It took almost 25 years for Genuine Bull to be reissued for the first time in 1999 (on cd).   The 2009 deluxe version (double disc) by Corazong is highly recommended as it includes tons of extra tracks and rarities.  So if you’re into pure rock n roll, ballsy, bluesy and decadent, check this great album out.

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“Hobo Man”

;) MP3 Album | 2009 | Corazong | download ]
:) Original Vinyl | 1975 | search ebay ]
8-) Spotify link | listen ]

The Dawn of Punk-Blues

Few periods in pop music have a more distinctive and immediately identifiable sound as the ’80s. And after hearing most of the garbage that choked up the airwaves (and still on those nostalgic 80s shows/stations) it seems that’s about the only thing it had going for it. But well buried in the gut wrenching cesspool of cheesy synthesizers, lifeless drum machines and teased hair an ugly breed of bottom feeders worked in futility to claw their way out of the muck. Among them was one particularly grotesque strain – an ungodly rocknroll hybrid that can be best described as Punk-Blues. Don’t ask if it’s even a real genre (for what it’s worth, All Music is now using it), but there was a rash of like-minded roots-bashing bands in the 80s that would aptly fit that tag. Of course the origins can be traced way back to Howlin Wolf’s earth shattering electrified blues onto the cranked-up snarl of the Pretty Things, CCR and Capt. Beefheart—and so on…

Some essential albums:

Gun Club Fire of Love (1981)

Fire of Love

The first album to successfully wed the harrowing delta howl of Son House with the intensity of punk rock. Basically they did to the blues what Cramps did to rockabilly. Brimming with reckless slide guitar and twisted southern gothic lyrics that’ll have the PC crowd pulling out their hair, this is an original and utterly astounding blast of pure energy.

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Gun Club – For the Love of Ivy

:) Vinyl | 1981 | Ruby | ebay ]

Gun Club Miami (1982)

Miami
Extremely dark with a more pronounced country feel than its predecessor, no other rocknroll album has captured the unsettling eeriness of pre-war blues/country. Complaints abound regarding the mix, but it never bothered me in the least. Ranging from haunting, desert-road-weary C/W of “Mother of Earth” to unforgettably fierce covers of “John Hardy” and Jody Reynold’s “Fire of Love.” One of the greatest albums ever. Really.

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Gun Club – Mother Of Earth

:) Vinyl | 1982 | Animal | ebay ]
8-) Spotify link | listen ]

Also recommended: Death Party EP, the Las Vegas Story

Poison 13 s/t (1984)

Poison 13
Led by guitarist Tim Kerr (Big Boys, Jack O Fire etc), Austin’s Poison 13 were like a snottier version of the Gun Club with equally slicing slide guitar wreckage and buzzsaw power chording. “Biggest Mistake” may be the quintessential punk-blues cut. Their reworking of Willie Dixon’s The Seventh son is nothing less than genius. Not a weak cut.

This album, along with their fine 1985 EP First you Live and early demos, was released on the Subpop collection Wine is Red, Poison is Blue.

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“Poison 13 – My Biggest Mistake”

:) Vinyl | 1984 | Wrestler | ebay ]

Alex Chilton Like Flies on Sherbert (1979)

Like Flies On Sherbert

Chilton strung out on smack slobbering over a stack of Chess and Sun 45s. It may be an acquired taste, but this charming disaster of a roots-rock album is loaded with amazing tracks like “Hey, Little Child” and “My Rival.” This album’s endured a far longer residence on my turntable than any Big Star release.

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Alex Chilton – My Rival

:) Vinyl | 1979 | Aura | ebay ]
8-) Spotify link | listen ]

Also recommended: Tav Falco and the Panther Burns Behind the Magnolia Curtain (Chilton on guitar) and Blow Your Top EP

The Scientists Heading for a Trauma (1985)

Heading for a Trauma
Off-kilter, noisy swamp-rock from this crew of Aussie minimalists. Funhouse era Stooges violates CCR while Suicide pukes in their faces. Something like that. Frontman Kim Salmon groans and shrieks over barrages of hypnotizing fuzz guitar. “Murderess in a Purple Dress” is a force to be reckoned with. Also includes a nice rendition of Beefheart’s “Clear Spot.”

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The Scientists – Swampland

The Scientists The Human Juke Box (1987)

The Human Jukebox
Human Jukebox shows the Scientists willfully wiping away any last trace of commercial potential they might have had by unleashing this severely damaged six song album. Making their earlier recordings almost seem polished, this masterwork of trash shifts from the grinding, cheap-piano-driven “Brain Dead” to the delightfully droning blues crawl of “Shine.”

Since their songs appeared on different albums, often overlapping, Sympathy for Record Industry’s CD collections are a perfect source for their best tracks.

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The Scientists – Human Jukebox

:D CD Reissues | Sympathy for the Record Industry | search amazon ]
8-) Spotify link | listen ]

Alan Vega S/T (1980) / Collision Drive (1981)

Alan Vega Collision Drive

Speaking of Suicide (Vega actually described his former band as “New York City Blues”), the headband-clad madman released two great solo albums with (gulp) drum machines. No need to fear, in Vega’s able hands it works brilliantly. It’s more on the rockabilly side (I’ve heard it described as electro-billy), but tracks like “Bye Bye Bayou” show him sloshing around in the same swampland the Scientists inhabited (Scient. even covered Vega’s “Raver”). Raw guitars (albeit rather mechanical – in a good way) managed to sneak on board, but Vega keeps a foot firmly grounded in the bleak territory Suicide roamed.

Some more similar-minded bands: the Birthday Party and Nick Cave’s early work – Pussy Galore – Blood on the Saddle –  the Gibson Bros – Tav Falco and the Panther Burns – Honeymoon Killers – the Fall – Charlie Pickett — and of course the Cramps.

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Alan Vega – Bye Bye Bayou

:) Original Vinyl | search ebay ]
8-) Spotify link | listen ]

The 90s was also redeemed by a largely unnoticed (that is until the White Stripes came around) resurgence of the style, with great bands like the Gories, the Oblivians, The Chrome cranks and the Cheater Slicks giving the stale US punk scene a much overdue kick in the ass. Stay tuned for part 2.

It’s All Meat “It’s All Meat”

It's All Meat

It’s All Meat were a late 60s/early 70s band that hailed from Toronto and released this excellent album in 1970 (Columbia).  Prior to that, It’s All Meat had been known as The Underworld.  The Underworld released a superb, crude garage single (“Go Away”/”Bound” – the label is Regency) in 1968 and also recorded some fine unreleased material captured on acetate.  As mentioned before, some of the members of The Underworld would form It’s All Meat.  In 1969 this new group would release their debut 45, “Feel It” coupled with “I Need Some Kind of Definitive Commitment.”  The A-side combined MC5 energy with New York Dolls-style swagger and features plenty of feedback and great guitar breaks.  It’s one of the great proto-punkers. 

Their album was released the following year and feartured 8 fresh original numbers written by drummer Rick McKIM and keyboard player/lead vocalist Jed MacKAY.  There are a bunch of good, solid stonesy garage rockers that form the axis of this lp: “Make Some Use Of Your Friends,” “Roll My Own,” “You Brought Me Back To My Senses,” and “You Don’t Know The Time You Waste.”  The latter track would be released as the group’s second and final single but “Roll My Own” and “Make Some Use Of Your Friends” were just as good, featuring fine psychedelic guitar work and raw vocals.  Other note worthy tracks flirted with blues (“Self-Confessed Lover”) and folk-rock (“If Only”) but the lp’s brightest moments were its two 9-minute marathon compositions.  “Crying Into A Deep Lake” was full-blown Doors psychedelia with spacey keyboards and spooky Jim Morrison influenced vocals.  The other lengthy track, “Sunday Love,” sounds like a strange Lou Reed/John Cale concoction with lots a great psychedelic guitar noise and soft folk-like passages sprinkled with light garage keyboards.   So while these last two tracks are very long, they never wear out their welcome and are required listening for both garage and psych fans.  The album’s production teeters between a primitive recording sound and the typical major label gloss, making it just right.

It’s All Meat is a fine, consistent trip all the way thru.  It’s one of the best late period (really late) garage rock albums I know of.  The album’s hard rock and proto-punk sounds give it a nice,  visceral edge.  It’s All Meat was reissued in 2000 by Hallucinations though originals are not hard to come by either.

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“Make Some Use Of Your Friends”

:) Original Vinyl | 1970 | Columbia | search ebay ]

Death “For The Whole World To See”

For The Whole World To See

Death’s 1974 demo album, released for the first time last month on Drag City, is rupturing the walls of the reissue scene, partly due to the recent NY Times article and its aftermath, but mostly for their obvious claim to one of the first slots in the history of punk.

Death was brothers Dannis, Bobby, and David Hackney, who started off playing RnB but switched to aggressive power-pop after witnessing an Alice Cooper show. Their after-school garage practice sessions soon yielded a trio that was tight, ferocious, and way ahead of its time.

The brothers managed to get signed by Groovesville and even got as far as Clive Davis’s interest but refused to change their name from Death for more commercial opportunity. In 1976, after a dissolution with their record company the Hackney brothers pressed 500 copies of their single: “Politicians In My Eyes” b/w “Keep On Knocking,”  reportedly trading  for $800.  Sadly, brother David, the group’s spark and fervent leader passed away in 2000, too soon to get the recognition he knew would one day come.

Bobby Hackney’s sons, members of Rough Francis, are responsible for digging up the old demo tapes that would become For The Whole World To See, and promoting Death’s music in their live performances. This is the kind of recording that’s usually only rumored about, a thing of legends. Listening to unearthed recordings is always magical, but when it’s something as blisteringly hot and grossly unheralded as Death, the experience is flat-out jaw dropping. 

Thanks to all who sent this in. Death’s record is a mind blower on first listen and a clear early contender for reissue of the year.

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“Politicians In My Eyes”

:D CD Reissue | 2009 | Drag City | buy from drag city | amazon ]

Odds n Ends | Lost singles and forgotten tracks…

Zakary Thaks – Face to Face
Zakary Thaks came from Corpus Christi Texas, an area that was considered a hotbed for such groups. Much of their reputation rests on 1966’s Bad Girl, an incredible single notable for its jaunty start-stop tempo. They managed to release 6 great 45s throughout the decade, some of which were local hits. Most of their 45 releases are originals and cut while the group were still in their teens (they covered just one Kinks track, I Need You – a good version too). Face to Face, their second J-Beck single released in 1967 was arguably the group’s finest moment. It begins with one of the all time great guitar intros and is no doubt one of Texas’ prime garage punkers. The intro sounds like swirling police sirens but Face to Face is also anchored down by a good chaotic fuzz guitar solo and an uplifting chorus. This single was a huge regional hit (selling over 6,000 copies) giving the Thaks major local popularity and momentum to break into other regions/states. The group was poised for a major breakthru but alas, it wasn’t meant to be. All the group’s singles and outtakes have been compiled on BeatRocket’s excellent Form The Habit.

It’s almost unfair to call the Zakary Thaks a garage rock group. Their sound was definitely raw but they were great musicians, well above the typical garage band standard. Also, their sound was constantly evolving and changing throughout the 60’s – just listen to all of their singles. The first time I heard Face to Face my head was blown off clean, it’s a terrific song from a group that were ahead of their time.

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“Face To Face”

:) Vinyl Reissue | “Form The Habit” | Beat Rocket | buy from sundazed ]

The Mind’s Eye – Help, I’m Lost
This group was short-lived and from San Antonio Texas but their single is excellent and worth the search. The B-side had come from Louis Cabaza, Steve Perron and Chris Holzhaus’ prior group, the Argyles. Bill Ash played guitar for the Mind’s Eye briefly and prior to this was a member of the Stoics. The Stoics released a double sided garage rock gem in Enough Of What I Need/Hate – suitably underproduced and menacing. The Mind’s Eye’s only A-side, Help, I’m Lost, is a primitive garage psych classic. Perron’s vocals are mad while the string arrangement adds a sophisticated texture to the swirling organ and acidic raga guitar solo. This single was recorded in 1967 and released off the Jox label. As with many great singles from this era, it received very little commercial feedback and sank without a trace. Many of the Mind’s Eye members went on to form the Children, who would release a good psych pop record in 1968 (all the above tracks were released on Gear Fab’s Rebirth reissue by the Children).

The Stoics:

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“Enough Of What I Need”

The Mind’s Eye:

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“Help I’m Lost”

:D CD Reissue | 2002 | Gear Fab Records | buy from amazon ]

Morning Disaster – Black Leather Books
This track was never released. Morning Disaster were from Colonial Heights Virginia (a Petersburg suburb). They recorded two other good psych pop tracks that also went unreleased at the time: Song of Innocence and Urban 44. All three tracks appeared on Aliens, Psychos & Wild Things Volume 3 ( a great compilation of local Virginia garage psych bands). Not much is known about the group but I believe these tracks were recorded in 1968 with Black Leather Books/Urban 44 as a projected single. Stanley Rose, vocals and guitar, had written all three tracks and been in prior garage bands the Lost Cause and Fugitives. Black Leather Books is his finest 3 minutes, a demented masterpiece of spacey psychedelia with compelling lyrics “all of your children, waiting in slumber, sad golden children, waiting in slumber.”

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“Black Leather Books”

:D CD Compilation | 2003 | Arcania Int’l | buy from amazon ]

Thor’s Hammer – The Big Beat Country Dance
One of Iceland’s finest groups, Thor’s Hammer (in Iceland they were known as Hijomar) released singles, eps and a few albums then eventually morphed into progressive rock group Trubrot. The late 60s albums were more in a pop-rock/psych-pop mode though perhaps their best work was the 1966 ep titled Umbarumbamba. This disc featured four hard hitting rockers: My Life, I Don’t Care, Better Days and the Big Beat Country Dance. My Life, Big Beat Country Dance, and I Don’t Care are acknowledged killers but Better Days is also pretty good. Big Beat Country Dance sizzles from the intro and forges on with a skull crushing intensity that never lets up – these guys knew how to raise hell. The group recorded these sides in London’s Lansdowne studios. Every song is full of frenzied drum work and walls of guitar distortion. This ep is essential for fans of freakish mid 60s beat sounds.

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“The Big Beat Country Dance”

:D CD Reissue | 2004 | Big Beak UK | buy from amazon ]

The Damned “Machine Gun Etiquette”

The Damned were one of the first British punk bands to release singles and albums. They got a headstart over rivals the Sex Pistols and were a group full of volatile personalities who could explode at any given moment – musically and emotionally! But unlike the much overrated Sex Pistols, The Damned could actually play their instruments and write catchy tunes. They excelled at the art of creating good ole fashion sloppy rock n roll and when they did actually get along with one another, the Damned were capable of making some outstanding music. Captain Sensible, Rat Scabies, and Dave Vanian were all rock n roll wildmen and contributed greatly to the Damned’s unique sound and group concept. Alongside their debut Damned Damned Damned, Machine Gun Etiquette is one of two Damned classics and a must own for fans of popular punk rock.

Machine Gun Etiquette was released by Chiswick in 1979, a year in which many punk artists were simmering down, writing more pop friendly material. The group had briefly broken up only to rejoin again without the help of guitarist Brian James. Saints (another fantastic group) bassist Alby Ward was brought in to fill in the missing gaps and give the group a fuller sound. I think Machine Gun Etiquette is a much stronger effort than 1977’s Music For Pleasure – an album that was produced by Pink Floyd’s Nick Mason. Etiquette seems to pay homage to many of the Damned’s classic rock heroes, most notably the MC5 and the Doors. So in this sense Machine Gun Etiquette has more of a classic rock feel, notable for its strong garage rock and psychedelic influences. They cover the MC5’s Looking At You and while not as good as the original, the Damned’s version still packs a visceral punch to the gut. These Hands has some cool fuzz guitars but also recalls the Doors’ carnival organ sound of Alabama Song – even the vocals sound like a punked up Lizard King. Another track, I Just Can’t Be Happy has that vintage American garage ethic, right down to the cheap organ sound and classic handclaps – great song, should have been a hit. The first two tracks on the album, Love Song (check out that thick, dense bass work) and Machine Gun Etiquette are a bit more original, both being breakneck punkers of the highest order. Vocals and searing guitar solos create a pile-driving intensity, this was some of the most exciting music the Damned had ever laid to wax. Anti-Pope, Melody Lee, the experimental Plan 9 Channel 7, Liar and Noise, Noise, Noise (there’s some nice feedback on this tune) were just as good and furious garage punk-rockers in their own right. The whole album is very consistent and possibly the best disc this group has ever recorded – depending on your point of view. Machine Gun Etiquette has lots of pounding drums, angry vocals, inventive guitar solos and even a few weird experiments. It’s an album that’s bound to please both garage and punk fans.

The 80s were very unkind to the Damned as they suffered a major downward spiral. The group plunged headfirst into the New Wave/Post-Punk scene and while doing so lost all credibility with the underground rock community. Their true forte was rock n roll and during the early to mid 80’s the group released a series of half-baked goth-rock albums. In terms of quality, none of these later albums came close to their 1977 debut or Machine Gun Etiquette. The great thing about Machine Gun Etiquette is that it’s rock n roll pure and simple, hit home straight as an arrow. There are no MTV pop or reggae tracks that plague this album, just straight up rock n roll. Groups like the Clash, the Jam, and PIL were notorious for sticking a few awful reggae or soul experiments on their albums – you could call this branching out but it definitely diluted the impact of a punk record. So it is with these two early albums that the Damned’s reputation rests firmly as one of the most visionary punk rock groups ever. This is a great record similar in style to Wire’s equally good 154 lp – try playing these two scorchers side by side!

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“Machine Gun  Etiquette”

:D CD Reissue | 2007 | Chiswick | Machine Gun Etiquette ]
:) Original Vinyl | 1979 | Chiswick | search ebay ]
8-) Spotify link | listen ]

Q65 “Revival”

Along with the Outsiders this was one of Holland’s top groups. They predated the MC5 and Stooges by a few years, their sound was powerful blues derived garage rock with a nasty edge. Willem Bieler’s vocals were spit out with venom and in Frank Nuyens they possessed one of rock’s great underrated guitarists.

Revival was their second lp released in 1968/1969. Prior to that Q65 had released a superb 1966 debut, plenty of great non-lp singles and an outstanding blues rock ep titled Kjoe Blues. It was a time of transition for the group, Bieler was tired of the club circuit and opted out for military service. Other members were making new music under the name Circus. These new tracks reflected the psychedelic era but it wasn’t long before Circus folded and Hans Van Hemert released a new Q65 album titled Revival. Revival was made up of earlier singles, stray album tracks and Circus material. Much of the music had more of a psychedelic vibe but still bore many of the classic hallmarks of Q65.

Revival opened with Cry In The Night. This was one of the Q’s greatest punk rockers, a pulverizing monster that stood out for it’s vicious, out of control guitar breaks and Bieler’s deranged vocals. So High I’ve Been, So Down I Must Fall is similarly excellent but more in an acid punk style. This track has more mental guitar work and a brilliant outsider feel – a very intense, emotional track. The album’s variety could be considered it’s strength. One track, World of Birds covers the exotic folk-rock spectrum and is notable for some fine psychedelic guitar work while It Came To Me is fast and furious blues-rock. Ridin’ On A Slow Train may be the best of the 3 Circus tracks, it’s overloaded with guitar effects and distortion. The other two, Fairy Tales of Truth, a nice psych pop number highlighted by mellotron and Sundance, a bizarre psychedelic instrumental are also very worthy.

Q65 would go on to make two more albums in the early 70’s, Afghanistan and We’re Gonna Make It. These are generic hard rock albums that are nowhere near as good as their 1965-1969 peak. During their peak I would say that Q65 recorded just one bad song, a cover of Otis Redding’s Mr. Pitiful (on their debut album). The rest of their catalog is ace, a strong body of work that stands up to the best the Yardbirds, Pretty Things and Outsiders have to offer. While Revival may not be a cohesive listen, this is because many of the tracks were recorded during different periods within the group’s lifespan. Each track is strong though and you could proudly stand this along side CQ or S.F. Sorrow as one of the classic acid punk albums.

There are great cd and vinyl reissues of Revolution and Revival that are somewhat hard to find but preffered. Rev-Ola’s best of Nothin’ But Trouble is recommended but omits a few essential tracks. During their heyday Q65 were one of the best rock groups around.

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“So High I’ve Been, So Down I Must Fall”

:D CD Compilation | “Nothin But Trouble | 2008 | Revola | buy from amazon ]
:) Original Vinyl | 1969 | Decca | search ebay ]

The Fugs “Village Fugs”

Village Fugs

This is also known today as The Fugs First Album. These guys weren’t really musicians, certainly not vocalists, they were beat poets and activists that wanted to be musicians. The record was made possible because their friend Harry Smith, curator of the Anthology of American Folk Music, convinced Folkways to let them record in their studio. Thank you, Harry Smith.

A classic. What we have here is not only a genuine artifact from the downtown 60s scene, but actually a pretty listenable record. The Fugs pumped up their line up for this record with Peter Stampfel and Steve Weber from The Holy Modal Rounders (pictured right), and Steve even contributed one of the Fugs most well loved songs, Boobs A Lot. Ed Sanders and Tuli Kupferberg are the real poet masterminds behind the Fugs, however, and their songs are often offensive or hilarious, concerning sex, drugs, and politics.

This album should be viewed along side another album called Virgin Fugs, which is a bootleg containing outtakes from the same recording sessions. Songs vary from stony diatribe drones to loose pop songs like Supergirl, one of my favorites. And I’ve always got a big kick out of Nothing: “January nothing, February Nothing… Reading nothing, writing nothing, even arithmetic, nothing… Harry Smith and Allen Ginsberg, Nothing Nothing Nothing.” The aesthetic of the Fugs is instant punk, not the sound particularly, but the do-it-yourself approach. The sound of Village Fugs teeters between that of a skiffle group and an amateur R&B combo. The percussion is always plentiful and varied, like they raided some restaurant’s kitchen, and Ken Weaver rounded it out on the drums.

It may not be music you put on to relax to, or set the mood, or dare to DJ with… but you have to hear it!

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“Supergirl”

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The Soft Boys “Underwater Moonlight”

Underwater Moonlight

While we’re a little ahead of the era, I’d like to throw in this post-70’s classic from The Soft Boys. Full of great songs, that get to you slowly, and jangly guitars, Underwater Moonlight is their masterpiece 2nd record and (excuse my indulgence) it fucking rocks.

First off, any album that opens with I Wanna Destroy You would make the cut any day. A serious blast from the speakers and dual guitars stabbing all over the place, a great harmony line sings the title, but Robyn Hitchcock says the “You” part with an ‘F off’ sensibility, and thus bridges the gap between The Byrds and punk rock. By Kingdom of Love, we’re in for the ride. It may take a few listens to get used to these tracks, but they will become anthems to you; each track on Underwater Moonlight is a treat. There are Television-like bass and guitar runs, breakdowns and some gnarly licks like in the bluesy I Got The Hots. Lyrically, Underwater Moonlight is extremely weird and surrealist. Take this bit from Got The Hots for example: “When you see her your eyes awake, electric bulbs on a birthday cake. Would you care for a lump of steak?” But the lyrics never sound dumb and they won’t embarrass you, just don’t try figuring them out.

Insanely Jealous is a powerhouse track with an almost 80’s dance beat sound to its pulsating high-hat pinching rhythm. Tonight and the surf-inspired instrumental workout, You’ll Have To Go Sideways are personal favorites and Old Pervert beats with intense authority, showing some Capt. Beefheart influence. It’s an album that will slowly work its way into your psyche and eventually become a simple classic.

The 2001 Matador re-release includes a 2nd disc chronicling the rehearsal takes leading up to Underwater Moonlight. These are not throw-away tracks by any means (especially Only The Stones Remain) and it’s a beautiful reissue. This may not mean much to you, but this is an album that I carried around with me for a whole summer, dinging up the case, dripping paint on it somehow, and making it all the more VG+++ in my mind.

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“Insanely Jealous”

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Black Sabbath “Black Sabbath”

Black Sabbath

“In the beginning, there was nothing. And then Black Sabbath said “LET THERE BE METAL!” (had to quote this guy). But considering, before this self-titled destroyer was unleashed, the closest things we call metal are a handful of Yardbirds and Zeppelin tracks and Iron Butterfly, Sabbath really did spawn a whole new genre, in Satan’s name.

Just imagine as a kid in 1970, heavy into tracks with overdrive guitars, you put this on the record player, we hear burning leaves, a distant church bell, a rising storm, the ungodly slow crunch from the band kicks in with scary timing, a whole new sound. We’ve just spun Black Sabbath by Black Sabbath from Black Sabbath. Sick.

The album is rooted in hard rock and the blues still, of course. The Wizard is a smokin’ workout with a harmonica lead and Ozzy’s characteristic vocals. N.I.B. is easily another defining track for early metal. There are some more period piece numbers too, such as Evil Woman. It’s still got the heavy detuned power chords and shredding, but there is a bluesy beat to it with a poppy chorus. They take it down almost all the way to folk on the intro to Sleeping Village, before their instrumental assault extending into the 10-minute Warning.

Black Sabbath would go on to release a solid string of excellent records (their first four the best), including the tour-de-force, Paranoid. I chose to review this one today because it has the scariest cover. Happy Halloween!

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“Black Sabbath”

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