Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Claw Hammer live 1992

I was pretty shocked to see that this clip is 25 years old now. I can’t think of another band that I saw more often in the late 1980’s/early 1990’s than Claw Hammer. Just one of the best live bands at the time and one that played out a LOT. Unfortunately, there is not a lot of video out there though there is an early public access tv thing that is not yet on youtube. What I like about this clip is that it does capture their live power - as well as Al Hambra, Rob and Bob’s hair and Jon’s tucked shirt (thanks Whittaker!) looking like he was outta a 1972-3 J.C. Penney catalog. Man, did I proselytize about these guys to the extent that I even won over my hardcore Lazy Cowgirls contingent to going to see them at EVERY possible opportunity. Gotta hand it to Dave Laing and Dog Meat/Grown Up Wrong Records (and Eddie Flowers' write up in Forced Exposure) for really getting the ball rolling. Dog Meat of course was responsible for putting out the posthumous Imperial Dogs lp and then Grown Up Wrong put out the first 45s by both Claw Hammer ("Poor Robert") and Crawlspace ("Silent Invisible Conversation") - both bands I religiously followed at the time in LA. The Imperial Dogs lp was a MAJOR deal at the time to me and my friends. As I followed Australian rock pretty close in the era and it was funny that Grown Up Wrong put out the two best local bands of the time . . . . that we had to get on import!

Friday, February 3, 2017

Terry Knight: Songwriter/Beatle Bones 'n' Smokin' Stones

Anybody who delves deeply into the Grand Funk Railroad catalog will eventually end up at the first two Terry Knight and the Pack lps, or the great early 1970's cash-in lp, "Mark, Don and Terry, 1966-67." As far as I can discern, the two Terry Knight lps were never released in New Zealand. Yet, as a SONGWRITER, Terry Knight had a number one hit in New Zealand in 1969 with Shane's cover of his great Paul-is-Dead Beatles oddity "Saint Paul," which is played on oldies radio here as much as say Tommy James' "Crystal Blue Persuasion" from the same year. Shane was the singer with the great Pleazers who had a NZ nugget with a tribute to the late, great Ray Columbus (seen below). Say what you will, Knight had a knack for writing great songs referencing both the Rolling Stones and the Beatles. Yet what the "Mark, Don and Terry" lp is missing is perhaps one of Knight's finest moments, the Pack's awesome Stones inspired debut 45 "How Much More (Have I Got to Give)" from 1965 which abounds with Stones references (and the plight of long-haired men in Flint, Michigan). I can picture Greg Prevost, Peter Zaremba or Mike Stax just tearing up a cover of this Terry Knight nugget. And I am not sure how Knight's great Dylan swipe missed the compilers of one of my favourite boots of the last 15 years, The Dylan Kynd.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Sounds Single of This and Every Week/The Saints on Return of the Saint/Don Rickles and the Germs (Repost April 2012)

So the Dickies were the first of the Masque-era Los Angeles punk bands to hit the UK followed by the Go-Go's the following year. And although Alice Bag's memoir may be the superior read, you could do a lot worse than the excellent first half of Belinda Carlisle's memoir Lips Unsealed for some debauched tales of the era. I digress. The Saints were among the first to show the Brits how it was done, after the Ramones of course, and shared the stage with them as well in the UK. I am reminded of Dylan in No Direction Home trying to divine where all those early songs came from. Do Chris Bailey and Ed Kuepper wonder the same thing? Dylan and the Ramones where living in one of the most culturally rich cities in the world surrounded by scenes which offered early support. The Saints incredibly created some of the 1970’s most perfect music while in Brisbane. Anyone who has not heard The Most Primitive Band in the World which dates from 1974 really needs to do some backpedaling. While Brisbane 1973-74 was not like the backwater portrayed in the seminal Australian film Wake in Fright (which each and every reader of this site needs to see), it was close enough which makes the foundling Saints’ achievement even that much more incredible. These were not kids hanging out at the Riot House, seeing Iggy crawling on the sidewalk on the Sunset Strip, or camping outside Freddie Mercury’s hotel room and then forming a band. As I have said before, one of the truly unacknowledged cultural movers and shakers of the last half century is named Lenny Kaye. It was his Nuggets comp that hit Brisbane in 1974 - two years late you may note - (along with the contempo Dolls, Stooges, MC5, various 50's greats, the Missing Links etc) that powered this earth shattering music. Proof that record nerds who are fine musicians can change the cultural world, no? Anyway, here you have the review that changed the game, and an interesting video curio. My old pal Maxwell in LA is who hipped me to the original Saint on telly. So it makes total sense that the actual Saints who by then had decamped to the UK make an appearance on the Return of the Saint show in 1978. In the same year, and it is buried back in my subconscious that I saw it at the time it was broadcast (along with Joe Namath’s short lived Waverly Wafers), the Dickies appeared on Don Rickles’ CPO Sharkey AND the Germs got their first name check on national US television. Check it all out below.

Now this is the kind of thing that I would screen if I was given an IMAX theater with a bar:

Friday, January 13, 2017

Lemming "Father John," "Queen Jacula"and "Lucifera"/"Don't Look Behind (Trampa macabre) (repost January 2014)

One of my favorite contemporary video pieces that I saw in Mexico City back in January (2014), at the show "La voluntad de la piedra" at el Museo de Arte Carrillo Gil, was "Don’t look behind (Trampa macabra"), Leo Marz's giallo-inspired, critical exegis of terror (or is it curatorial horror given the Mexican art world cameos).  I doubt Leo is familiar with most excellent Dutch glam rockers Lemming but I think he would like the low budget Argento/Suspiria vibe that their Dutch television performances from 1974 to 1975 reek of: the essential "Father John" (about a monk!) and "Queen Jacula."  And I will posit it here first. Is not Lemming's great dancer in these clips, Lucifera (RIP), the continent's low budget glam answer to Stacia? Thanks to Robin for originally introducing me to the greatness of Lemming back in 2006.

Marz's full piece is now

Trampa Macabra from Leo Marz on Vimeo.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Magazine Love/Rupert Murdoch and the Masque/Memories from Over the Edge

I have a distinct memory from the late 1970’s of flipping through copies of New West magazine (we must have briefly had a subscription). Los Angeles magazine already existed (and was almost purchased by the New Yorker). But New West for those that don’t know was an attempt by the Rupert Murdoch-owned New York magazine to break into the Los Angeles/California market with a California-centric take of new journalism mixed with the cultural and political coverage found in its east coast brethren. New West was launched before the bicentennial, hitting the stands on 12 April 1976. However, what I didn’t know until stumbling onto a stack of New West in a thrift store about 25 years ago (and currently residing in the barn) was that the Masque and LA punk was presented to suburban Los Angelenos and San Franciscans in non-sensationalist manner. In addition, it turns out that the article (which is spot on and could have been written today) was written by none other than the screenwriter of the Waitakere Walks favourite Over the Edge, Charlie Haas. In fact the music sensibility of Over the Edge is made even more clear by this great write-up on the Masque, and was not some random music supervisor's choice. Photo of Chloe Pappas, stylist of the Screamers was taken by Matthew Rolston, likely still a student at that time at Art Center in Pasadena and Interview magazine photographer. Who knows if Rolston has a large set of yet unseen Screamers and Masque-era photos. A second Masque coffeetable book may need to appear. In any event, enjoy this slice of late January 1978, and hopefully it will change your perception that the Masque was limited to the pages of Slash, Flipside, Search and Destroy and Lobotomy. The LA Times via an old fave Kristine Mckenna did shine a light but no thanks to the likes of the other staffers (Go-Go's classis "Robert Hilburn" anyone? but who knew that it made it to the pages of glossy magazines. "You don't love me/You love magazines/Those glossy pages they go to your head"

Thursday, December 22, 2016

"Brothers and sisters, I wanna see a sea of hands out there, let me see a sea of hands. ."

Your bluff has been called and you are clearly a liar if you tell me your family aint dysfunctional. But siblings playing music together – a no brainer, no? Back in LA I used to have the Allman Brothers lp with the cover I have scanned featured prominently on my record shelf facing forward more as an art curiosity featuring the Allman’s Planet of the Apes/inbred mugs scribbled by whoever the bootleggers hired cheap outside the local high school art class. That said, I really like listening to the Miami-Macon Sessions (not sure if issued in 1972 or 1975) – just a bit grittier than the later studio versions of some of the songs on Eat a Peach and I keep revisiting it. Duane Allman’s solos on Melissa are worth it for the price of admission alone.

 Along the brother line, the last and only time I saw the Sun City Girls (with Six Organs on the bill) with my pal Joseph in Hollywood was truly a masterclass in rock trio dynamics. It is cliché to say that the brothers have a telepathic connection but that night propelled by the monster drumming of the much missed Charles Gocher, the room levitated. In my opinion (at least this week), the most important and influential band to evolve out of US hardcore, a point which only took 30 years to manifest itself to the masses (though Forced Exposure had kinda nailed it as early as 1987), led by brothers Rick and Alan Bishop. Funeral Mariachi is the saddest lp of the past decade hands down.

But sibling rock (though I know all genres have their long lists) really is in a class unto itself and my bookshelf is filled with critical breakdowns more heavily weighted to this class than any other: Ron and Scott Asheton, Kris and Kurt Kirkwood, Karen and Richard Carpenter, Nancy, Suzi and Patti Quatro, Phil and Don Everly, John and Dix Denney, the Bishops, Jeff and Steven McDonald, the Barrett Brothers Helen, Betty and Dot Wiggin, Solomon and Jay Gruberger, Angus and Malcolm Young, the Cowsills, Chip and Tony Kinman, David and Hamish Kilgour, Frank and Rick Agnew, Ann and Nancy Wilson, David Sylvain (Sylvain) and Steve (Jo) Jansen, the Jacksons, Epic Soundtracks and Nikki Sudden, Johnny and Ronnie Van Zant, Kim and Kelley Deal, Ray and Dave Davies, the aforementioned Allmans Brothers, Vicki and Debbi Petersen, Rich and Chris Robinson, Liam and Noel Gallagher, Tom and John Fogerty, Ernie, Ron and Rudolph Isley and Tim and Sean Presley. Do the Bradys and Partidges even count – they do in my book insofar as a simulacrum of the real thing.

A few years back I had been obsessed with Jay and Solomon Gruberger – not only their music with O Rex and that first Afrika Corps lp, but particularly with their music writing that I could lay my hands on. Their odd competitiveness in each having their own fanzine sold me. Such an obsession had already happened last century for me with my lifelong obsession/love of the music and very idea of the Bee Gees and the Beach Boys. Not sure if the Grubergers would have liked to be in such company given the lack of heaviness such as heard in their beloved Mountain. The Bee Gees and Beach Boys though are really their own category. It is three brothers dynamic that Brian Wilson speaks to in his “spiritual love in music” intro to the Gibbs. Take a look at Brian Wilson’s induction of the Gibb Brothers and tell me there is anyone else who really grasps that dynamic as much as Brian Wilson – it is very similar to that telepathic twin dynamic. I rewatched that heartfelt induction recently (having taped it live on videotape when first broadcast and forgotten about the JT cameo) which put me on to thinking about sibling rock and watching the CCR induction again as well minus Tom Fogerty. Is the animus between Tom and John any less heated than between Pettibon and Greg? Sure there are lots to add to the list so go ahead.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

John Cougar Mellencamp Covers the Stooges/The Great American Songbook Part 1

So when somebody decides to release another cover record of the “Great American Songbook” we all know its fraudulent nature from the get go when the likes of this Pop/Williamson composition is not in there. A nausea inducing cover to those partial to the Gulcher/Gizmos/MX-80 crew Weltanschauung, to me it sounds like JCM's very Jobriath-y influenced interpretation. Did Mainman still have some interest in the publishing rights to have JCM record this? Weary of the waltz and mashed potato schmaltz? Look no further! At last someone has made this recording easy to share so I don’t have to tear up the barn looking for it. Recorded in 1975 (!!), lp released in 1976, only to appear as a 1998 CD bonus track: