Friday, September 25, 2009

Over the Edge Rock and Roll

As a cultural artifact, Jonathan Kaplan's 1979 film "Over the Edge" has far more resonance to me personally in 2009 than the other 1979 music film I love, "Rock n'Roll High School."* The soundtrack is great too. It is a universe where Van Halen and Cheap Trick sit snuggled side by side with the Ramones and the Cars. You can also toss in Devo, Ricky Wilson-era B-52's and the Pretenders even though they are not on the soundtrack. It is all good. I just enjoy the American new wave of the non-post punk variety (although I like that too). Are the Pretenders considered English - they had a single or two in 1979 though their eponymous debut did not come out until January 1980. The kids of New Grenada would have played the heck out of it. Which brings me to the real subject of this post which is the pre-Cars output. Matt meet Ric and Ben.

In 1976, as Roxy Music opened for ELO at various US dates in support of the Siren lp, the pre-Cars band Cap 'n Swing was cutting some of the best Roxy Music/VU/Steely Dan hybrid tracks and getting primed for those arena lights. The first two tracks below are "Come Back Down" (3 demo versions exist) and first lp mainstay, "Bye Bye Love."

Without getting bogged down in lineup changes with various assorted Modern Lovers (including Jonathan Richman suggesting a pre-Cap'n Swing band name), it should be noted that Ric and Ben did record a folky/CSNY-y lp in 1973 "How's the Weather" under the name Milkwood. You can check out Ric on the cover with the 'stache putting him neck and neck with Chuck Negron as the standin for Dusty in Floyd Mutrux's "Dusty and Sweet McGee" (1971). In case you are curious, the third track is "Bring Me Back" from the 1973 lp in all its denim glory.

* NB: "Rust Never Sleeps" is obviously another 1979 favorite though technically it is a concert film.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

1974 Was a Great Year for Videotape

The last time I saw Don Waller he was walking in Beverly Hills on Wilshire Blvd. by the Rolex building. Would have been within the past year or so on the way to my old job. The time before that he was talking to American Original Ron Asheton backstage at the El Rey Theater. He was definitely not wearing pants like those sported in the clip below.

In 1974, on the East Coast we have the amazing Television rehearsal tape in Terry Ork's loft (the subject of a longer post forthcoming). In the midwest, we have Victoria Vein and the Thunderpunks on a local OK television program. On the West Coast, we now have the Imperial Dogs live at Cal State Long Beach on October 30, 1974. Unless a live 1974 Stooges at the Whiskey video materializes, this may be IT:

She Said to Me/She Smiled Wild

I wouldn't trust the description of a "basement" psych lp as far as I could spit. Exhibit A is the Les Temps Heureux lp on Shadoks. "En Ces Juis" has a few sleeper tracks that make me wonder how closely folks listened to it. Not a single review touched on how ace some of this is - well, mainly the track below. I picked up the 1971 demo lp last year on the basis it had some folky/basement psych vibe from the description. I guess it sort of does. Hackamore Brick it ain't but that is a singular species. Who woulda thunk some straight-ish looking French hippies could crank out such a catchy, garagey, VU-styled chugger like "She Said to Me"? In 1971! Am I off on this one? It would have made a great single a-side.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

CLE via Japan or a Pre-Electric Eels - Ladies and Gentlemen, Murahachibu

One of my numererous intentions is to share with you various pre-punk favorites from the dark ages. Not unlike the South Bay's unheraled Clap, what happens when you get a garagey/glammy, Stones-influenced band: something not unlike the Dolls. You also get, in this instance, something approaching the brilliance of "Flapping Jets" by the Electric Eels. This track, appropriately titled "Ah," is from 1971's "Kutabirete." If I could turn it up to 11 for you I would.

Here is string of clips from a Japanese dvd, looking like outtakes from Bob Gruen's "All Dolled Up"!! Anyone have spare Marahachibu vinyl to trade?

Now a live version:

Friday, September 18, 2009

Angel Face/Monoshock/The Devil Probably

High energy rock 'n roll from France in the me decade? You bet. Have you not heard the proto-punk/glam lp by the Frenchies. Another time, mate. Metal Urbain are too easy. Here we talk about Angel Face. About a year or two ago, I tracked down a test pressing of a 45 from the lp pictured here. There is an in depth history of Angel Face in a recent Ugly Things which is worth reading. Recorded in the 70's, these guys remind me at times of the earliest, pre-vinyl SoCal incarnation of Monoshock from the late 80's. I have been listening a lot to the Angel Face lp and, yes, the 'Shock has a few things in common with these guys. I imagine Angel Face like the long hairs populating Robert Bresson's late period "Le Diable Probablement"(1977)("The Devil Probably"). Richard Hell, writing about Bresson's The Devil Probably, perfectly encapsulates the magic of it:

And then, after falling in love with Bresson, I come to this particular movie and for the first time find someone, twenty-five years later (when I encountered the movie), but of course independently of any knowledge of me or my local world but in the same period (circa 1977) when I was experiencing these things -- and he's perfectly comprehending them and presenting them with the greatest delicacy, respect, and highest artistry. So it wasn't all a dream! How amazing. I existed and Robert Bresson said it matters and is interesting. I not only was but I was worthy of the most careful consideration. To tell you the truth I knew this, but still it is most gratifying to hear it from Bresson. It is so cool to be verified by the filmmaker whom one already loved above all others! So maybe you'll laugh at me, but I'm confident of it and I don't care.

A great movie worth checking out as is anything Hell writes. So, think I have figured out how to add audio to this thing. Let me know if it works. This is "Pride" from "A Wild Odyssey." Check out 1:42 after the noodly synth intro. Pure Monoshockian madness ensues.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Jesus Was a Crossmaker/Jesus in 3/4 Time

JD Souther's self-titled first lp is really one of the standouts of the early country rock lps. Why this one is not more well known is beyond me. First side is paydirt. I guess his success as a songwriter kinda ruins his street cred? Sartorial style gets him an A as well. Dig his various guises through Miami Vice and beyond. Saw JD earlier this year (along with various Eagles and Jackson Browne and his mom in the crowd), supporting his jazzy new lp. Solo guitar/piano for over two hours. May be someone's hell but not mine. Spoke to JD after the show and he said he is not that keen on the self-titled lp and the Longbranch Pennywhistle one. Not sure why that is. Picture is the Spanish sleeve for the first single ("The Fast One" also covered by then-girlfriend, Linda Ronstadt, a few years later). For some reason "Fast One" was not the a-side. Unfortunately, none of JD's Eagles tracks were covered by Peter Laughner on the WMMS Coffeebreak show for posterity. Check out JD two years later cashing that songwriting check here:

The Fast One is here: