Sunday, May 16, 2021

I'm a businessman - we mean business, man!

These '80s wise-asses finally got a bit more serious when the next decade caught up with them. This one includes an intriguing rewrite of an undeniable power pop classic.  

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


Saturday, May 15, 2021

The Flex - From the Vacuum (1985)

With it's rather obnoxious and LOUD, flared-out lettering adorning the sleeve, you might venture a guess that The Flex were a cabal of marauding metalheads or colorful skate punks.  The reality, in fact, is this (presumably) Chicago-native trio fall relatively in line with what I typically present you with on this humble site. From the Vacuum kicks off with the smart, incisive "China Dolls" flirting with post-punk undertones but ultimately revealing considerably more in common with contemporaries Wire Train and Translator. "New Wavelength" busts out the bands aptitude for jangly power pop, and what a glorious specimen this tune turns out to be. "What in the World?" indulges in biting, punky chords, and they circle their wagon back onto the pop trail for the winsome "Art Babies."  

By the time The Flex hit side two of this platter it's clear they have a bit of an identity crisis on their hands, with a haphazard melange of songs that run the gamut from the sloppy and unwieldy "Drunken Aerobics" to the dynamic, sax-enhanced "Tropikkana." Despite some occasional inconsistencies ...Vacuum is rewarding if not necessarily revelatory. 

01. China Dolls
02. New Wavelength
03. 20 Minutes Late for Cocktails
04. What in the World?
05. #16 to Rambach
06. Art Babies
07. Dschungle World
08. Draw A. Blank
09. Drunken Aerobics
10. Lovely Day
11. Sleeping Boys
12. Acceleration
13. Tropikanna

Monday, May 10, 2021

no clue

Sorry no lyrical clue this week. This is from 2003, and if you're into the sonic templates laid out by bands like Pinback and Wheat this might be up your alley. 

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


Saturday, May 8, 2021

Chameleons UK & Mark Burgess - random rarities

This is merely a self "curated" pastiche of various Mark Burgess and/or Chameleons tracks stitched together from bootlegs and fan-assembled collections I purloined all the way back in the Napster era. I paid no attention to sequencing, nor am I familiar with the sourcing of several of these tunes. There are a couple tunes from the odds and sods Chameleon's comp Here Today, Gone Tomorrow, an alternate version or two from the band's BBC Evening Sessions, a remix, demos, and even some unreleased bullion.  I included "Ever After" a song that appeared on the bonus EP that was bundled with Strange Times. For some reason this tune (possibly my fave Chameleons track overall) inexplicably didn't make it onto certain CD incarnations of that album. Also in this folder you can get an earful of Mark's pre-Chameleons outfit Mark Burgess & The Clichés, plus scarcities from some of his offshoot projects like The Reegs and The Sun and the Moon. In essence, I dedicate these melodies to you... Enjoy (or not).

Chameleons - Bobby Moore's Wine (Mad Jack demo)
Chameleons - Dear Dead Days
Chameleons - Ever After
Chameleons - Just Say No (unreleased)
Chameleons - Sally
Chameleons - Singing Rule Brittania (Radio One Evening Show, version two)
Chameleons - Splitting in Two (live)
Chameleons - Swamp Thing (loss mix)
Chameleons - The Healer (alternate version)
Chameleons - View From a Hill (Radio One Evening Show)
Mark Burgess - Mickey Mouschwitz
Mark Burgess & The Clichés - Leaving Town
Mark Burgess & The Clichés - Rock of Ages
Mark Burgess & White Rose Transmission - Digging for Water
The Reegs - The Dream Police
The Sun and the Moon - Angels
The Sun and the Moon - Love You, You Bastard

Friday, May 7, 2021

Sybil - Olympia 7" (1991, eMpTy)

Sybil.  Co-ed (weighted kinda heavily to the female end of the spectrum) Seattle denizens who later expanded their moniker to Kill Sybil featuring in their line-up drummer Patty Schemel who in a few years would make the migration to Hole just in time for their Live Through This and Celebrity Skin records.  After you take in this single you'll understand why it was a wholly logical move on her part, given this disc's a-side "Olympia" is blatant grunge-ola homage to Hole's first record, Pretty on the Inside, not to mention early Mudhoney. It's mildly amusing for the first thirty seconds but downright redundant for the duration.  By the time they hit the second song on the other side of the coin, "Dream" Sybil seemingly evolved into an entirely ball of wax, wielding jangly, indie-pop smarts and adopting a significantly more tuneful aesthetic, which fortunately carried over to Kill Sybil's lone, self-titled full length in 1993.

A. Olympia
B1. Push Me Down
B2. Dream

Sunday, May 2, 2021

think i was cooler when I hated myself...

From 1996. Despite being released by a major label, this one might have met a better fate had this trio stayed indie.  

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


Saturday, May 1, 2021

Brakes - For Why You Kicka My Donkey? (1979, Magnet)

The largely under-referenced (online anyway) Brakes were a London quartet, falling several few notches shy of punk. Think more along the lines of pedestrian power pop and pub rock with slightly more enlightened songwriting.  The closest comparison I can draw on their home turf might be The Flys, and stateside they bore a sonic resemblance to oft overlooked contemporaries the Tuff Darts and A's. Speaking of all things North American, For Why You Kicka My Donkey? never enjoyed the light of day in the U.S., but was somehow deemed fit for a Canadian audience. Some of the better songs here border on phenomenal, not the least of which, "The Way I See It," emanating a glorious pop acumen. "Blame it on the Brakes" bleeds shades of Cheap Trick's "Auf Eiedersehen," managing to insert some faint glammy tinctures in the process. "Last Man at the Station" is equally effective, and their reading of Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone," if not wholly innovative, puts a spicy spin on things.  

01. What Am I Gonna Do?
02. I Don't Know Nothing About Hollywood
03. Doing Life
04. Who's That Man
05. Like a Rolling Stone
06. Blame it on the Brakes
07. The Way I See It
08. Last Man at the Station
09. Strange Man in the City
10. Yesterday's Arrival
11. It's a Shame

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Your famous last words started once your fingers hit the snooze...

I hope you willing to indulge me this week with one of my most listened to albums of the last six months.  It's a tribute album filled wall-to-wall with thoroughly unrecognizable contributors. No household name talent here.  So why not go with one of the original album's by the band in question?  Well, it's quite possible I shared one of them already on a previous Mystery Monday.  More significantly, their material is stimulating enough to translate effectively in virtually any set of hands that pick them up. To me this band's first three albums are to die for.  BTW, the physical CD version of this album was bundled with a label sampler that I'm omitting as it's irrelevant to the tribute - plus too many of the groups sound alike.

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


Saturday, April 24, 2021

Uanattached - s/t ep (1988, Throbbing Lobster)

Yet another Beantown proposition, who to their/our detriment only produced this one platter, a mere ep no less, but hey, I'll take six songs over four any day. The Unattached were one of those rare acts that knew how to mix it up from song to song without exuding anything resembling an identity crisis. Bearing a rootsy and rollicking no-frills penchant these four guys (who by the group pics on the back cover misleadingly suggest they were headbangers in the making) were potent rock and roll purists touching on such local luminaries as the Del Fuegos and the Neighborhoods. My pic hit of this platter is none other than "It's Only Love" a power pop basher that would have done the likes of Material Isssue more than a modicum of justice. To the contrary the bluesy slow jam, "Down" which concludes this joint is a lazy maneuver that luckily doesn't mar the whole of the record.

01. Yeah
02. Close Your Eyes
03. Midnight Love Thang
04. Help and Sympathy
05. It's Only Love
06. Down

Sunday, April 18, 2021

I know when everybody's got one you want one too.

It's time for another round of four eps. A dazzling quad-fecta of unrelated artists spanning as many decades as there are titles occupying this weeks folder. 

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


Saturday, April 17, 2021

The Heebee Jeebeez - All Sales Are Vinyl (1998, Mooey Bueno)

This week I stuck primarily to reviving dead links (see my last two entries for details), and I didn't have a chance to fool around with my turntable or tape deck...but I do have this, and it's more promising than you might surmise from this quartet bearing a rather hokey moniker.  Details are a bit scant on the Heebee Jeebeez (boy, I hope that name didn't doom them from scoring gigs) but this Bay Area export were a talented combo, specializing in plaintive, sonically spartan power pop who wagered on the trebly end of the spectrum.  No overproduction or slavish studio pizazz here - not by a longshot in fact. It's a bit tricky to link them to the modus operandi of many (if any) of their '90s contemporaries. Cockeyed Ghost perhaps, but even that comparison isn't especially accurate.  All Sales Are Vinyl is saturated with concise, incisively catchy salvos, with "Somebody Else's" and "Outside" winning the most points with yours truly.  The Heebees only falter on the unlisted concluding cut, "Push It," which can easily be excised from your playlist if you so choose.

01. Don't Tell Me
02. Calling All Over
03. Come On
04. Outside
05. Walk Away
06. Out of Time
07. Somebody Else's
08. Favorite Song
09. Anytime
10. Certain Kind of Girl
11. Told You
12. Wherever You Go
13. Push It

Long, long overdue re-ups, part 2

This is a completely different set of restored links than the one I posted a few nights back.  I think I've attended to all (if not most) of your requests from the past four months, and have renewed a couple dozen more on top of that.  Again, sorry for the extended delay.

11th Hour - 7" ep

84 Nash - Band For Hire   

9353 - Overdoses at Your Mother's House

Arcwelder - Jacket Made in Canada/This, singles (MP3/FLAC)

Jon Auer - 1994 demos

Band of Susans - Blessing and Curse ep & Peel Sessions

Bender - tape

Big Star - live Chicago 6/8/94 

The Black Watch - Short Stories ep 

Blake Babies - Sunburn demos, Nicely Nicely ep, live Columbus, OH 1991 (FLAC only)

The Blases - s/t

Blue Movie - Hearts in Clubs & Milking the Masters

The Books - Expertise  

Brown Lobster Tank - Our First Album

Cactus World News - Spin Radio 1986 concert LP

Cameraface - After the Scream  

Change of Heart - Soapbox

Citrus Groove - Sunswayed ep

Comsat Angels - Red Planet ep, Unravelled, demos & live

Corduroy - Dead End Memory Lane & Lisp ep 

The Crime - Crash City USA

Cucumbers - Who Betrays Me...

The Dads - s/t  

The Downsiders - All My Friends Are Fish & s/t

Even the Odd - s/t

The Fluid - Clear Black Paper & Freak Magnet

Fossil - s/t

Fudge - The Ferocious Rhythm..., Southside Speedway, singles

The Fugue - Waiting for Something 

Furys - Indoor/Outdoor ep

G-Whiz - Eat at Ed's LP and split 7" w/ Lonely Trojans

Huw Gower - Guitarophilia ep

Happy Hate Me Nots - Out

Harvey Street - What About George? ep 

Imitation Life - Scoring Correctly... & Ice Cubes and Sugar  

Instructions - s/t

Jane From Occupied Europe - Coloursound

The Johnsons - s/t

Lifers - This House 

Liquor Giants - Every Other Day at a Time & Here

Lotion - two eps

Lovers Under Pressure - The Elvis Years & Island tape

Ludicrous Lollipops - A Part & Scrumdiddlyumptious eps

Marshal Fields - s/t  

Material Issue - Eleven Supersonic Hit Explosions

Mega City Four - live album, Terribly Sorry Bob, Magic Bullets, cd singles

Mercyland - No Feet on the Cowling

Not Shakespeare - ep & Edge of the World

The Ocean Blue - s/t LP live (MP3/FLAC) & Cerulean (MP3/FLAC)

One Million Pieces - Deep Dark Hole 7"

Outskirts - Heaven's on the Move ep

Plasterscene Replicas - Glow (MP3/FLAC))

Pluto - Shake Hands With the Future & singles 

The Reels - s/t  

Right As Rain - s/t ep & Undertown

Sheriff Jack - Let's Be Nonchalant ep

Shortfall - Hooray for Everything

Small 23 - Cakes ep, singles, split single w/ J Church

The Squalls - Rebel Shoes

Starry Eyes - s/t ep

Sweet Jesus - discography 

The Talk - Not Just Hearsay

The Tickets - retrospective

The Town Cryers - All's Well ep 

Timco - Friction Tape & singles 

Ultracherry Violet - I Fall to Pieces & demo

Ups and Downs - singles & Rash ep 

V/A - Fish Hips & Turkey Lips

V/A - The Kitty Comp - Pts 1 & 2

V/A - Metrojets, Vols. 1 & 2

V/A - Propeller

Venus Beads - Incision, Black Aspirin/Transfixed, A Client/Shackled, first single

Velvet Elvis - s/t & What in the World

Verbow - Chronicles

Verichrome Tulips - Le Lac Leman

Vigil - s/t

Visitors - No Sign of Intelligent Life

Voodoo Gearshift - s/t

Walt Mink - El Producto & Listen Little Man/The Poll Riders Win Again!

Werefrogs - It's Real 7" 

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Long, long overdue re-ups, part 1.

Well, I'm about four months behind my game in refreshing dead links you've requested.  Here's the first of what's looking like three tranches of updates I hope to be posting this week/weekend, and possibly into next week.  The emphasis in this list is on requests that were posted in December and January. Thanks so much for your patience, and btw, I'm looking into a more permanent storage solution that I might have up and running later this summer or fall.

Off Broadway - live in the studio & unreleased 

Gladhands - All is Well (That Ends Well)

Senselesss Things - Empire of the Senseless

Buzz of Delight - Soundcastles ep

Bangtails - Hypnotic Downpour ep

Winter Hours - live Cabaret Metro 1989 (MP3 or FLAC

Dramarama - Live at House of Blues San Diego 2008

Summercamp - unreleased second album & Tonight ep 

Reeve Oliver - California ep, You're Gonna Win ep & Reevolution ep

V/A - 2015 Chanukah Singles bundle 

Riff Doctors - tape

Hege V - House of Tears

Sheer Thursday - Expecting the Grass 

Frontier Theory - Atlantic & No Waltz in the Meadow 

Pop Art - Long Walk to Nowhere, Perfect Mental Picture, s/t ep 

Parasites - Pair of Sides

New Math - Wake the Dead

Pooh Sticks - Formula One Generation 

Study of the Lifeless - s/t  

Edge Park - Personal Fable

The Restless - s/t LP

The Pony - Thorns and Cutlery

The Dentists - Heads and How to Read Them, Powdered Lobster Fiasco, Naked ep  

The Numbers - Add Up

Redd Kross - Third Eye demos

Otis & the Elevators - Some Career & Cross the Bridge

Third Floor Strangers - Last Chance

The Suburbans - Pop Life

NoNames - End of the Beginning 

Nothing But Happiness - Detour

China Shop - Atomic Notions ep 

Parallel 5th - s/t ep 

Boys Life - s/t ep

Expando Brain - Mother of God LP 

The Bardots - Eye-Baby & Sad Anne

Velo- Deluxe - House of Sin Recordings

Antenna - two eps 

The Special Goodness - At Some Point... 

Cost of the Living - Comic Book Page & Day of Some Lord 

Opossums - (marsupial eruptus)

Alcohol Funnycar - singles

Menthol - USA Capable 7" 

Newkeys - Acts of Love & Not Just Alright 7"

Enemies in the Grass - Blind Crossing ep & 7"

Kid With Man Head - Awful, Terrible.... 7" & demo

Pitchfork - Needle in a Haystack demo

Gentleman Jesse & His Men - Singles and Rarities 

Shaking Hands - No Laughing Matter ep

The Wrench - Worry When We Get There & Cop Krueller ep

People Have Names - 7" 

The Scruffs - 7"

Sammy - Babe Come Down 7" & Chili Lite 7" 

Gathering Ground - Figure it Out ep

The Hook Generation - s/t ep 

Populuxe - tape

V/A - Wiener Dog Comp - part 1 & 2

The Mockers - Culprit and the King 

Loomis - You're No Tiger... & How Much is Too Much

Troubled Hubble - The Sun Beamed...

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Underneath silk riches sixty six million giving slaves...

Two CD compilation of b-sides spanning this band's career from 1991-2003, including an entire disc dedicated to covers.

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


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.