Saturday, April 10, 2021

VA - A Wicked Good Time! (1981, Modern Method)

Population only counts for so much. Cities like Houston and Phoenix each boast roughly double the populous of Boston, MA, yet Beantown (at least during the eighties and nineties) outdid some of their larger locales in terms of pumping out renown bands by seemingly exponential margins. And it seems like that's how it went for not-so-renown Boston bands as well, the focus of A Wicked Good Time!  This bountiful seventeen song feast was issued by Modern Method Records, an in-house label for the wildly successful and still operating Newbury Comics chain.  Even though many Newbury Comics outlets resemble FYE's these days, the moniker for this record remains the store's slogan some forty years after the fact.

AWGT starts with a bang, via a combo called Pastiche, an edgy power pop act who only bore a trio of singles in their lifespan, sadly without a proper LP to show for themselves. Pastiche's hooky merger of guitars and keys should have cemented them as Boston's answer to the Pointed Sticks, and a definitive compilation of their studio recordings has been decades overdue.  The Outlets punky "3rd Floor for Me" is perhaps the most aggressive song they ever attached their name to, Swingers Resort were splendid power pop kids who really epitomized what was so enticing about that turn-of-the-decade aesthetic, and Future Dads wield a catchy sax line amidst their bangin' foray "New Feeling." And we're still not done talking about side one!  We're also treated to no less than two cuts from Boston's legendary punks La Peste whose "Lease on Life" plays out like a delightful re-write of Agent Orange's "Bloodstains." Finally, the Young Snakes featured future 'Til Tuesday front-woman Aimee Mann, who exudes a very different vocal dialect then we're used to on "Brains and Eggs." Love the Pylon-esque guitarwork on this one.

The album's second side is a bit spottier and somewhat more avant, with the likes of abrasive no-wavers Bound & Gagged, and on the opposite end of the spectrum Bird Songs of the Mesozoic (featuring Mission of Burma alum Roger Miller) whose instrumental "Pulse Piece" channels a Tubular Bells vein. We get another tasty nugget from Pastiche, and the otherwise unheard of Someone and the Somebodies lead us on a quick post-punk tear. Hometown heroes Boys Life also get it on the action with a pair of sassy, mid-paced punk churners.

01. Pastiche - Psycho Blonde
02. The Outlets - 3rd Floor for Me
03. Future Dads - New Feeling
04. Boys Life - I Wasn't Me
05. La Peste - Army of Apathy
06. Swingers Resort - Hit List
07. Young Snakes - Brains and Eggs
08. Vacuumheads - Preppie Girls
09. La Peste - Lease on Life
10. Suade Cowboys - Master
11. Bound & Gagged - Black Sand
12. Someone and the Somebodies - Before and After
13. Pastiche - This Reminds Me of the Future
14. Birdsongs of the Mesozoic - Pulse Piece
15. The Loners - Planet Spirit
16. Bound & Gagged - Personal Monsters
17. Boys Life - Heroes of the Dead

Doctors' Mob - She Said 12" (1986, Wrestler)

Doctors' Mob were part and parcel of Austin, TX's so called "new sincerity" indie movement circa the mid-80s, alongside contemporaries Glass Eye and the Reivers among several other bygone aggregations.  The word "sincerity" of course is subjective and is a lousy descriptor of any piece of music, but this guitars-y cabal were considerably amped-out and boasted the kind of integrity most of you will appreciate.  This three-songer finds the Mob applying a Husker Du-ish treatment to their cover of the Fab Four's "She Said, She Said."  They keep things at a rolling boil on this single's pair of crankin' originals, "Time's Up" and "Lost of Course," the latter of which appears to be exclusive to this 12". Additionally, there are two Doctors' Mob full lengths (1986's Headache Machine and '87s Sophomore Slump) to supplement this hearty appetizer.

A. She Said, She Said
B1. Time's Up
B2. Lost of Course

Sunday, April 4, 2021 Edmonton, Alberta or home in Halifax?

From 2001. A not-so difficult sophomore solo record to say the least - though technically it's not a "solo" affair.  Sorry for any confusion. Perspective is everything!

**Please do not reveal artist in comments!**


Saturday, April 3, 2021

radioblue - warehouse mLP (1989, mercybeat)

I've been a sucker for U2's tell-tale guitar technique upon hearing "Pride (In the Name of Love)" in '85.  The Edge's serrated but jangly, echoing chords are impossible to tire of, even in the hands of scores of other guitarists, albeit many less capable. radioblue were no doubt tuned into said innovation, but the Bono & Co. comparisons largely end there on the band's warehouse, mini-LP.  Poignant but anything but pompous, this Bethesda, MD foursome didn't merely posses a plethora of raw, tingly licks, rather the songs they're ensconced within were ultimately the main attraction. Sure, by twenty-first century standards this record doesn't strike me as nearly advanced as when these seven tunes were laid down in separate sessions circa the late '80 (side one was committed to 8 track recording apparatus, while the flip went the even more basic 4 track route), but the intervening decades haven't diminished a smidgen of power and appeal from "instead," "love tornados," and "empty sky."  Love what I'm hearing, even if I am three decades late to the party.  Two more radioblue offerings would surface in the coming years, neither of which unfortunately are readily available anymore.  

01. instead
02. siamese
03. everything for you
04. blues
05. untitled interlude
06. lvoe tornados
07. instrumental in d minor, a basic history of art
08. empty sky

Shelf Life 7" (199?, Cassiel)

I'm not sure what became of Shelf Life, if only due to the fact that I have no pertinent details on how/where they originated.  This single, apparently their lone release, doesn't even bear a copyright date, though a reasonable estimation is 1995/96. Nonetheless, it was a good era to be vending indie rock, and had Shelf Life stuck around for an album or two we might be remebering them in the same thought bubble as contemporaries New Radiant Storm King, The Multiple Cat and Raymond Brake.  I could go for a little more personalty here, but both sides still hit the spot with "Silver Lining" winning me over the most.  BTW Cassiel records was responsible for an early Mountain Goats single, and if you own it you've got a collector's item on your hands.

A. The Object
B. Silver Lining

Sunday, March 28, 2021

...and I'm losing all the stupid games that I swore I'd never play.

From 2000.  One of the first great albums of the twenty-first century.

**Please do not reveal artist in comments!**


Saturday, March 27, 2021

Land of the El Caminos - Subourbon (2001, boojm)

Though it does take me awhile (in this case almost five years!) I eventually make it through the mounds of bargain bin CDs I buy, and just a few months ago I slid this marvelous disk into my auto in-dash. Land of the El Caminos were a Chicago trio who really had their fingers on the pulse of the indie rock motherlode that befell an appreciative world in the 1990s.  Grabbing inspiration not so much from their hometown scene, rather Chapel Hill, NC, the Caminos pilfered a lesson or two from the likes of Small 23 and Archers of Loaf.  In fact mouthpiece and six-string wrangler Dan Fanelli bears a scratchy vocal timbre not far removed from the Archers' Eric Bachman.  No, you're not getting 75 mph pop-punk here, but instead a wiry, but melodically-enhanced splay of bittersweet notions and amped-up sonic appeal that doesn't lean too hard on your typical slacker fence posts.  The surprisingly sober Subourban emanates charm and "feels" for miles - or as long as it's eleven gallon tank will carry us on "Boxed in a Wind Tunel," Sold Me Out," and the concluding "Fragments," which features some shredding J. Mascis-esque fretwork. Two more LotEC albums exist, and I hope to get my mitts on them soon.

01. Slouching in My Spine
02. Boxed in a Wind Tunnel
03. We Never Learned How
04. Heaven
05. Keep On
06. Sold Me Out
07. Greener
08. So Sick
09. Knee Deep
10. Rock Star Crush
11. Fragments

Friday, March 26, 2021

Classix Nouveau - The Liberty Recordings 1981-83 (Cherry Red, 2021) - A brief review

Arriving in the London new music scene in 1979, Classic Nouveaux were born a few minutes late to be forerunners of the soon-to-be-ample goth and new romantic movements, but were nonetheless earmarked and shoehorned into the latter whether they desired said placement or not.  They bequeathed a catalog of memorable singles and albums, albeit the quartet never ascended to the echelons of the Duran Durans or Culture Clubs of the world, despite bearing a fairly unique image, not to mention a pedigree that consisted of two expats from punk ground-breakers X-Ray Spex.  While three quarters of this foursome brandished a well-coifed visual aplomb that could have comfortably slotted them amidst the rosters of A Flock of Seagulls and Kajagoogoo, it was frontman Sal Solo who bore the band's most striking visage. Egg-bald, with pasty white skin and gaunt facial features, Solo also dabbled in gender bending attire and makeup, with an austere, commanding poise to match.  Take even the most furtive glance at any Classix press photo and it's a cinch to determine who the alpha male of the group was.  Boasting several charting UK singles, sadly none of them were chart toppers.  They were hot to trot for a moment across the pond thanks to heavy rotation on MTV, but success was an even more elusive proposition in the States otherwise. Ironically, they translated best in former eastern bloc locales Poland and Yugoslavia, and even performed in those nations while the iron curtain was still a metaphorical sword of Damocles. Cherry Red has remastered and consolidated C/N's three (technically four) LPs with their accompanying singles and remixes into the handy micro-box The Liberty Recordings 1981-83. In addition to one stop shopping it also remedies the fact that the separate CD reissues of their album have fallen out of press.  

Despite the aforementioned inclusion of two X-Ray Specs (Jak Airport and BP Hurding) Classix did not specialize in avant punk meanderings in the least, instead opting for a more current and streamlined forte wherein the band opted for a quasi-noir tact on their debut platter, Night People, a record that at it's apex yielded a catchy-as-all-get-out stunner of a single, "Guilty." It's driving rhythm and keen melodic strengths garnered them modest chart placement in their native Britain, and the video was a cult hit in America thanks to the quickly burgeoning MTV.  Night People wasn't Classix' most accessible record, and that could be due in part to Sal's discernibly gruff vocal aplomb on several of the deeper album cuts.  Still, the album offered plenty of fun respites with some tunes even exuding a mild theatrical sway (e.g. "Inside Outside" and "Tokyo).  Comparatively raw and frenetic stacked up to later triumphs La Verité and Secrets, Night People was fit for release in North America as a self-titled release with a slightly altered and reshuffled song selection and entirely unique art.  But why?  I have yet to come across a definitive account for the alternate Yankee version, but strictly by virtue of my own perceptions, I reckon Liberty wanted to substitute some of Night People's less approachable cuts for a smoother listening experience for discriminating American ears. Both versions of the record are presented in their entirety on The Liberty Recordings, with unique but contemporary b-sides added to each. 

1982's La Verité massaged and contoured Classix' overarching approach without blunting it.  "Because You're Young" is bejeweled in soaring hooks, and a more pronounced new-wave aptitude is present on the record with an abundance of soothing, lucid keyboard fills.  Less consistent than the debut, it spawned the combo's biggest hit, "Is it a Dream' (scaling it's way to #11 in Britain).  Truthfully, La Verite houses a handful of tunes that should have been as prominent as the aforementioned, namely "Never Again" and "Because You're Young." "1999's" post-punk sub-context is a relative anomaly here, and a highly  rewarding one at that.  If you're seeking an analogy that correlates with Classix' musical development at this phase of their tenure, you could make a solid case that La Verite was their equivalent to the Psychedelic Furs Forever Now, as both were key transitional albums that blended a retention of the band's respective nascent gestures, simultaneously forecasting what would shortly be in the offing. A generous ten bonus cuts, including a cavalcade of single versions/edits and worthy non-LP b-sides are appended.

Classix Nouveau's swan song, Secrets found the band making a break for the dance floor without tripping over themselves, and better yet, maintaining enough restraint to keep themselves from spilling over the brink altogether.  More in keeping with what David Bowie was offering around the same era than caffeinated troupes like Dead or Alive, Classix Nouveau adopted sophistication as their new calling card on Secrets, splitting the difference between rhythmically sentient appeal and plush, deftly crafted songwriting. Though a departure from their early modus operandi, "Forever and a Day" and "Never Never Comes" downplay the melodrama, and instead reroute the emphasis on accessibility, if not sheer infectiousness.  As with the other albums in this collection, we're treated to a phalanx of supplemental material, entailing extended remixes, and a fine stand-alone single "The End...or the Beginning," which preceded the album.  

In 1985 the band called it a career, with singer Sal Solo literally going solo with his first album Heart & Soul arriving later that year. He soon thereafter pursued arranging and performing Christian music.

Classix Nouveau's The Liberty Recordings 1981-83 collection is available direct from Cherry Red Records and Amazon

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Soak me in soul-shifting light...

Hard to believe this one has reached the thirty year mark. One of '91s most transcendent and immersive albums. This is the 2005 reissue including seven blissful b-sides to fill out the disc. Enjoy.  

**Please do not reveal artist in comments!**


Saturday, March 20, 2021

The Unknown - s/t (1988, Fetal)

According to the mighty Discogs, there are/were no less than fifty bands running amok at one point or another named The Unknown.  I wouldn't have guessed there would have been quite that many who would have opted for such a self-deprecating moniker, but so it goes.  This one was a Maryland quartet who slotted in comfortably with the college rock set, specializing in "serious," but breathable tunes. The pensive "Eternity" and "Perfect Ground" bleed melancholic, naval-gazing hues, without emanating anything overly indulgent. While the aforementioned were pleasant enough, the band up the ante on side two of The Unknown, which is where these guys really sink their teeth in, with the strident, up-tempo "Dear Mrs. Jones," followed-up the even janglier "Slow Song" wielding tingly arpeggios like there's no tomorrow.  

I was only able to find a couple of relevant references to these guys, including the Unknown's follow-up, Fall, here. On YouTube you can check out frontman Jonny Alonso many years after the fact performing a solo version of this album's closing piece "Songinsee."

01. Eternity
02. I Wonder Why
03. Perfect Ground
04. The Clock
05. Dear Mrs. Jones
06. Slow Song
07. Salvation
08. Songinsee

Friday, March 19, 2021

Perfect Vision - ...Our Broken Crown ep (1984, Leave it Art)

This was a sweet dollar bin surprise I snagged a few years ago (not that you see many quality dollar vinyl bins anymore, but I digress).  Perfect Vision, were a creative synth/post-punk proposition from Cambridge, England.  From what I've been able to glean the band had two lead singers, one whom sounded mildly akin to Peter Murphy, and likewise one who bore a slight vocal resemblance to Dave Gahan, but largely that's where the comparisons ended.  Our Broken Crown gets off to a dissonant, art-damaged start with a foray titled "Laugh at the Breakage," that sad to say could frighten you off from the rest of the record.  I wouldn't let it, because side two is wholly redeeming with these chaps making considerable melodic strides on "This Hook" and "Swim to Me," the latter of which could adequately compete with the best of anything the Comsat Angels gave us in the earliest phase of their tenure. Poking around the blogosphere, I soon realized there were other sources discussing Perfect Vision, but the songs I'm presenting here are rips from my own copy of ...Broken Crown.

01. Laugh at the Breakage
02. Drive Me
03. This Hook
04. Swim to Me

Sunday, March 14, 2021

I wanna go bang on every door...

No clue other than the title.

**Please do not reveal artist in comments!**


Saturday, March 13, 2021

Dramarama - The Best Was Yet to Come (199?)

Well, another week of embarrassingly minimal content for ya'll. Sorry folks.  Dramarama.  No strangers to this page, but I haven't followed up on them in awhile. This was a fan-curated collection of songs, seemingly thrown together haphazardly, but the emphasis on songs that were recorded when they were on their last legs in the '90s (pre '00s reunion of course).  We get what appear to be demos of songs re-recorded and properly made available for public consumption, ironically just in the last few years. "It's Only Money," "Swamp Song" and "Everyday" eventually appeared on their last LP, Color TV"Indian Gin and Whiskey Dry" was their contribution to a Bee Gees tribute, and likewise was "Raw Ramp" for a Marc Bolan & T. Rex covers comp.  I think "Sincerely" (Dwight Twilley cover) and "7 Minutes More or Less" were taken from the band's 18 Big Ones hits collection. I don't know where "Crime Scene" is from. Might just be a random outtake.  Anyway, it's a neat, but curiously random listen.  Enjoy.

01. Crime Scene
02. Sincerely
03. Indian Gin and Whiskey Dry
04. Prayer for Survival (acoustic)
05. It's Only Money
06. The Swamp Song
07. Everyday
08. 7 Minutes More or Less
09. Raw Ramp

Sunday, March 7, 2021

And if all the world's a stage, count me out of this play...

I was reminded this weekend that it's the twentieth anniversary of this one.  My favorite album of 2001, a debut so good the band didn't release a follow-up for another decade!  This is the two CD version with an equally populated bonus disc of all the contemporary b-sides and more.  Awe inspiring stuff.

**Please do not reveal artist in comments!**


Saturday, March 6, 2021

DT and the Shakes - Masquerade (1990, Impact)

Not to be confused with a covers band of the same name, this DT and the Shakes called the environs of Washington D.C. home and were mostly active in the late '80s, bleeding into the next decade a tad as well.  Per the Washington Post (who provide more details than I ever could) this foursome were purveyors of "garage thrash." Fairly accurate assessment, as were other acts in their league like early Soul Asylum plus late, great lesser knowns Carnival Season, Finger and The Junk Monkeys. Call it a melodically-informed holy racket, or whatever, but despite the 31 year-old carbon date on this sucker, I'll take "I Found My Disguise" and the dazzling title cut over most of what passes for 'rock' these days.  The only legitimate curiosity surrounding Masquerade is the inclusion of no less than four, minute-long unlisted pieces which are predominantly mellow instrumentals providing no logical continuity or segue, and add not one iota to the eight structured songs that surround them. Why?  Because they could I suppose.  I included them in the audio but omitted them in the tracklist below.  

Finally, if you enjoy what you've heard here, dive into, Smooth Studio Crafted Teen Fodder over on Amazon downloads, which evidently compiles an early DT&S ep and single.  

Thirty Miles
Brother John
Garage Song
I Found My Disguise
Take a Dive
Last One Out

Friday, March 5, 2021

Expando Brain - Prouder Than Chowder 7" ep (1989, Vacant Lot)

By the looks of the record sleeve you might surmise Expando Brain weren't competing on the same wavelength as contemporaries U2 or Tears For Fears. The Flaming Lips might be a safer bet, but let's not carried away. Truth is, I've already shared a record (Mother of God...) by these Massachusetts natives several years back, and had some positive props to drop on them.  As for the record at hand, Prouder Than Chowder's copyright date is 1989, three years succeeding the Mother of God LP, leading me to think even before I slapped in on the turntable I'd be an encountering an older and more advanced Expando Brain.  In actuality these five songs were tracked in 1985, one year before the aforementioned album.  "I Blame You," and the even more inviting "Woodblock" hint at some of these guys' lovingly rough hewn, albeit vaguely tuneful attributes.  Perfect for the late night PM slot on your local college station. Side two offers a trifecta of serrated, minute-and-a-half bangers wherein E/B indulge their DIY punk itch exuding a combination of tension and gleeful abandon.  

01. I Blame You
02. Woodblock
03. Relationsheeps
04. Drug Yacht
05. God's Words

Sunday, February 28, 2021

I picture myself a happy man, and the picture don't contain your face...

From 1994. One of the best (and perhaps one of the only) non-sellout major label debut albums I've encountered.

**Please do not reveal artist in comments!**


Saturday, February 27, 2021

J & M Chain - Send Me Away - Early Demos

Ok, so right up front this is not an official releases, so lower whatever expectations you may have down a notch or three.  Even if you're an established customer of the brothers Reid (William & Jim), aka The Jesus and Mary Chain, remember that sixth generation cassette copy of Psychocandy your friend passed along to you in high school which was later partially chewed up by your tape deck?  Well, the fidelity of that maimed cartridge might actually be actually be preferable to this quite literal bundle of hiss, that in some cases could pass for recordings tracked inside a mine shaft. Per Wikipedia, the Reid Brothers were essentially gifted a Portastudio in 1983, in which they cut several demos (and from the sound of things their teeth as well).  I don't have any specifics on what year these thirteen songs were committed to tape - possibly 1983/84, and in fact some of them appeared with slightly souped up audio refurbishing on the two disc, deluxe reissue of Psychocandy from a few years ago.  Presented here is a more thorough selection of tracks from the Chain's nascent era, featuring early stabs at "Never Understand," It's So Hard," "Inside Me," and "Something's Wrong," all of which were rerecorded for Psychocandy and surrounding singles.  There's two versions of "Upside Down," plus the scarcely heard "On the Wall" and "Up Too High," the latter resembling the sonic aptitude of New Order's earliest rumblings, circa Movement. Even of the audio is sketchy from song to song, this collection of prototypes offers an inside peak to what this band would unleash on an unsuspecting, and ultimately grateful world in 1985. I believe this bootleg was originally offered on the now vanquished Pyrolysebred music blog, so I would like give credit accordingly.

01. Up Too High
02. On the Wall
03. Never Understand
04. Taste the Floor
05. Upside Down
06. In a Hole
07. Something's Wrong
08. Inside Me
09. It's So Hard
10. Send Me Away
11. Just Out of Reach
12. Vegetable Man
13. Upside Down

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Richard Hell and The Voidoids - Destiny Street Complete (1982/2021 Omnivore). A critique.

It's difficult to fathom spending five years (presumably anyway) preparing and perfecting one album, and later desperately wanting a do-over, if not a veritable re-recording.  Nonetheless this is the prism through which one Richard Hell (aka Richard Meyers) viewed his second album with The Voidoids, 1982's Destiny Street.  Typically superseded in stature by the band's debut, Blank Generation, regarded as a touchstone salvo in the early canon of punk, Destiny simply wasn't considered a desert island necessity by comparison. It wasn't an album heard blaring out of car stereos in 7-11 parking lots or dormitory windows contemporary to it's Reagan-era launch - and certainly not today. 

An alum of early incarnations of coveted proto-punk combos Television, and to a more minimal extent The Heartbreakers (Johnny Thunders' deal, not Tom Petty's) Hell turned out to be his own toughest critic. So much so that in 2008/09 Destiny Street was re-recorded with brand new vocals and guest guitar parts in lieu of the album's master tapes thought to be permanently lost or misplaced.  This version of the album was re-christened Destiny Street Repaired.  Fast forward ten years to 2019, when most of the original 24-track masters were recovered and returned to Richard Hell, and at long last he was able to do the proper remix/remaster he had wanted to for some-odd decades.  All three configurations of Destiny Street and album's worth of demos have been accumulated into handy two disk CD set, Destiny Street Complete, along with a remixed version of Destiny Street on vinylBefore we get into the mechanics of all these iterations, here's a quick thirty-thousand foot on where the Voidoids came from and how they carved out a corner for themselves on Destiny Street

If Richard Hell was to call it a career after his mid-70s stints with Tom Verlaine in Television and his briefer run as a Heartbreaker, his legacy would've largely been cemented right then and there with his name embossed in gold on top.  Even though he didn't stick around to track any officially released recordings with either of these contingents, he did perform with them, and is said to have been part of the construction crew that erected the stage at CBGBs.  Luckily for the world at large Hell was still brimming with creativity and not about to transition to the role of spectator anytime soon.  The original lineup of Hell and the Voidoids was it's most renown, with Hell hooking up with guitarist Robert Quine (1942-2004) a man who found himself in the company of Lou Reed circa the Velvet Underground's late '60s prime and went from there.  Quine's post-Voidoids resume included collaborations with Matthew Sweet, Lloyd Cole, John Zorn, and Lou Reed on his Blue Mask and Legendary Hearts albums. The rhythm section of the Voidoids was filled out by second guitarist Ivan Julian and drummer Marc Bell, with Hell adopting the role of bassist as well as frontman.  

Even back in 1976 when the Voidoids debut single, "Another World" on Ork Records, and their considerably more visible first album, Blank Generation in '77 surfaced, Hell & Co may have epitomized punk at that juncture in the genre's infancy, albeit by today's standards not so much.  Lacking the rip-roaring crush of guitars that made the Ramones...well, the Ramones, nor the in your-face angst and histrionics of their UK contemporaries, the Voidoids were nonetheless equal parts attitude and wry romantic inclination, that in their more thoughtful vestiges aimed a wink and the nod to the likes of Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers.  Blank Generation spawned two bona fide classics.  First, the title cut could arguably described as an indifference anthem, a veritable slacker screed wherein Hell declares he can quite literally take or leave the auspices of his soon to be bygone scene.  The additionally well-received "Love Comes in Spurts" was even brattier and faster, not to mention sardonic, with some Tom Verlaine-esque guitar antics ricocheting throughout it's New York Dolls-y canvas.  The album as a whole isn't the consistently classic totem it's oft chalked up to be, but sonically all ten numbers composing Blank Generation share concomitant DNA and a discernibly casual gait.  

This finally catches up to the belated follow up album I really intended to discuss, Destiny Street (Complete).  I say belated due to the five year layover between it and BG.  You'd think with this reissues' two fairly thorough sets of liner notes by Hell himself (including a reprise of those which appeared in Destiny's initial CD reissue from 1991) there would be a more thorough account for the half-decade lapse, however details are sparse.  He does however mention he begged Sire Records to release him from his contract and reluctance to tour after a brutal three week run opening for the Clash in Britain.  Then there was the matter of making lineup alterations to the Voidoids themselves.  Quine stayed on board, but Ivan and Marc failed to migrate from the original lineup.  Fred Maher filled in Marc Bells stead on percussion, and moreover, the Voidoids added a real asset to the band in guitarist Naux (birthname Juan Maciel).  Naux's pedigree was a bit lean at this point in his career, previously fronting a little known, but often excellent no-wavish tinted combo China Shop, whom I've written up on these pages. Sadly deceased some 27 years later in 2009, Naux wielded a dexterous, artful and challenging acumen, wherein he was effective in the realms of post-punk, funk, and myriad points in between.     

The original mix of Destiny Street is suitably enough presented first on disc one. Shortly after it was released in 1982, Hell had serious misgivings about the album as it was presented for public consumption, particularly with the guitar mix.  From a listener and fan's perspective I find nary any fault with Destiny Street's original iteration, but naturally the architect had considerably more invested in it.  As for the songs themselves, Hell states in the more recent set of notes that this was the Voidoids playing "real gone rock and roll, something like I grew up on."  If Blank Generation had a casual temperament, DS was wonderfully and unabashedly loose and rollicking, with Hell & Quine exuding five solid years of wood-shedding and a noticeably advanced aptitude across all tiers.  The proceedings start off with a sheer BANG! in "The Kid With the Replaceable Head," a fevered, high-energy, 145-second surge that out-rocks (or for that matter out-punks) anything the Voidoids previously placed their stamp on.  The song's effect is visceral to a fault, and I'd have to think it might have rubbed off on the Replacements by the time the famed Minneapolis quartet hit their stride in the mid-80s.  "Lowest Common Dominator" is another frenzied romp, "Ignore That Door" plugs into what the Heartbreakers initiated and inserts brief but dizzying guitar solos for good measure.  In terms of outright "catchiness" the prize is awarded to "Downtown at Dawn," a sassy, rhythmically aware banger that sounds like something the Rolling Stones might have misplaced for Tattoo You or Emotional Rescue.  Countering the aforementioned insurgent slammers, is Hell's confessional ballad, "Time," the album's thoughtful comedown that gracefully sidesteps any potential preciousness.  On top of all this, would you believe they made time to wedge in not one, but three covers?  The Kinks' roosty 1965 number "I Gotta Move" and Them's stomping "I Can Only Give You Everything" fit like a glove amidst everything else shakin' on Destiny Street, with the latter culminating in a deliciously shambolic ending. A reading of Dylan's comparatively sober "Going Going Gone" is another mellow respite. And while it's not necessarily an embarrassment, Destiny's concluding title cut is a drivel-y, indulgent narrative with a funky back-beat that nonetheless would have more appropriately served as a b-side.  Thankfully it doesn't undercut any of the otherwise phenomenal material Hell & Co. brought to the table on the Voidoids sophomore (and regrettably final) outing.  

The remaining half of Destiny Street Complete's first disk is a largely re-recorded (or Repaired) version of the album from 2009.  The redo was in large part due to the seemingly safe assumption (at the time anyway) that the master tapes had hopelessly disappeared, rendering a proper remix of Destiny to Hell's satisfaction an impossibility.  With Quine having passed away in 2004, and more recently mach-two Voidoids guitarist Naux, Hell decided to recut his vocals and bring aboard some several guest guitarists.  They include original Voidoid Ivan Julian, and additionally Marc Ribot, and Bill Frisell. A backup of the original rhythm section tracks were luckily preserved in Richard Hell's personal archive.  The Repaired incarnation of Destiny Street maintains the aesthetic of the original artifact with Hell's vocal parlance virtually unchanged, and the guitars more lucid in the mix, but not quite as biting as the more familiar takes.  In short, it's an interesting but not necessarily crucial update...perhaps with the exception of the primary architect's sanity and perfectionism.  As mentioned above, in 2019, the bulk of Destiny Street's original master tapes were recovered in a storage space, and on disk two of DSC, Hell finally gets his wish for the proper remaster he has been pining over for decades.  To my ears it doesn't futz with the original mix much at all.  As remasters usually go, Destiny Street's modest 2019 refurbishing is a tad clearer and more lucid.  Most notably, the volume is thankfully not pushed into the red, as remasters so often do more harm than good.  

The lengthier half of disk two rounds up an additional twelve tunes, predominantly demos of several album tracks, an ep's worth of worthy outtakes (e.g. "Funhunt" and "Crack of Dawn") and material from a pair of surrounding singles.  All interesting inclusions, but not crucial for the appreciation of the main course. Whether your a die hard acolyte of Hell and/or the Voidoids from the original inception of punk or a newcomer every version, variation and alternation of Destiny Street is now available at your fingertips direct from Omnivore Records as digital downloads or a well present two CD set.  Amazon has you covered too, and don't forget the stand alone vinyl LP variant of the 2019 remastered version of the album.

Sunday, February 21, 2021

You warned me of the potential cost, of losing myself to those who are lost.

A sheik update on keyboard-driven pop, circa 2015. 

**Please do not reveal artist in comments!**


Saturday, February 20, 2021

X-tal - The Humboldt Desert 7" (1991, Alias)

Even for someone like myself who gorges himself on "fringe" bands from the last century, even my fringes have fringes, so to speak.  I'm not talking about weirdo/outsider purveyors, so much as artists I didn't have an adequate time to investigate due to be so deluged with everything else that dropped onto my plate.  I knew of San Fran's X-tal (by name anyway) when they were still active in the '90s, but didn't hear a note until well into the 2000s.  Looks like I neglected on a genuinely talented bunch who emanated shades of the Feelies and Velvets not to mention oodles of other substantive, left-off-the-dial types.  The deftly written "The Humboldt Desert" is a near toe-tapping ditty about...deforestation?  Strangely enough X-tal's formula works like a charm here, as well as the two songs on the other side of the coin.  "More Fun in the New World Order" is not a sardonic cover of rewrite of the X staple, rather a riveting 86-second original railing against U.S. involvement in the Gulf War.

If anything else, let these three songs be a taster of sorts for the remainder of X-tal's recorded output, now  available at your leisure on Bandcamp

A. The Humboldt Desert
B1. Damp in the Trenches
B2. More Fun in the New World Order

Friday, February 19, 2021

V/A - Scream the Compilation (1987)

So yeah, there was a time when major labels (in this case Geffen) would not only take a chance on (relatively) unknown quantities but even compile a good ten of 'em on one LP, no less.  Scream (The Compilation) is fairly common, though it never made it into the digital era.  The basis of this record was to expose the world at large to a handful of Southern-Cali hopefuls who frequently played a mixed-media, multi-stage venue in Los Angeles, Scream.  The club, which was said to be a melange of live music, art installations and even intermittent freak shows sounds like the subject of a fascinating documentary, and while this record would surely serve as the soundtrack, it ironically consists entirely of studio material.  But that's fine, given that live cuts from fresh and/or arcane acts aren't always the most ideal way to introduce unknown talent to virgin ears.   

Scream... kicks off on an ambitious note with a band that already garnered a growing profile, and would soon be known to the universe in a couple more years. I opted not to go with the proper spelling of this quartet, nor the song title to keep the higher ups at bay, but the version here differs from the one that made onto their renown sophomore LP.  Caterwaul and The Abecedarians specialized in dazzling guitar-laden post-punk, the latter of whom I eventually became a serious follower of.  The Delta Rebels, souped-up bluesy hard rock was a sheer kick in the ass, while the similarly minded Hangmen kicked up a ballsy cloud of dust of their own, channeling a hint of southern rock in the process. At this stage in their tenure TSOL (True Sounds of Liberty) had more of a jones for metal than punk, and it comes across in Jack Grisham's wanky and somewhat contrived vocal affectations on their spin of Hendrix's "All Along the Watchtower." And although the audio may be a bit bumpy on my rip of the Kommunity FK track that concludes this record, it's a smashingly stimulating four minutes of modern rock bliss. Immensely recommended.

01. Janez - Pugs in Zen
02. Caterwaul - Manna and Quail
03. Human Drama - Wave of Darkness (Highway 99)
04. Francis X and the Bushmen - Grey Talk
05. TSOL - All Along the Watchtower
06. Delta Rebels - Teenage Lipstick Girls
07. The Hangmen - Rotten Sunday
08. Tender Fury - Slaughter the Lion
09. Abecedarians - They Said Tomorrow
10. Kommunity FK - Something Inside Me Has Died (remix)

Sunday, February 14, 2021

People breaking the law just to make ends meet.

A solid career summation of these one-time Minneapolis mainstays.

**Please do not reveal artist in comments!**


Saturday, February 13, 2021

Vauxhall Seraux ep (1987, Uncarved Block)

Vauxhall Seraux were a New Jersey trio that are/were seemingly impervious to search engines, though the music on this EP isn't quite as clandestine - in nature anyway.  V/S's somewhat ubiquitous stripe of snyth pop could have straddled the Top-40/college divide effortlessly, though I can't vouch for them receiving a considerable amount of airplay in either arena.  Benefiting from two capable vocalists in Michael Miller and Chip Daggett, they commandeered their compact troupe through catchy, albeit none-too-innovative titles like "Come Away" and "Too Young," yielding similar results akin to higher profile contemporaries OMD, Hipsway, and the like. Despite some patently obvious 80s-isms I enjoyed this one.

01. M.D.Y.M.
02. Goodbye Yesterday
03. Come Away
04. Too Young
05. When I Touch
06. untitled outro

Sunday, February 7, 2021

Accolades arrive too late, the firing squad can hardly wait.

Ok, I've got something a little different for you this week. How about an entirely, 100% unreleased album, and an ep by the same band that never made it to the marketplace either?  Admittedly, these guys were a fairly unknown quantity when they actually had proper releases to their credit, but this stuff is too good for me to sit on forever.  This quartet's music was very much in tandem with the brutal throes of winter, and was as icy and foreboding as the frozen Michigan hinterlands they once inhabited. Consider yourself warned...or delighted. 

**Please do not reveal artist in comments!**