Friday, December 31, 2004

midwest can be alright

rock'n'roll don't come from new york! just ask the gizmos. to start the new year off right, I will be DJing the #1 new year's eve event tonight according to our local newspaper. its not because of me, though. I (White Light White Heath), and my DJ partner in crime Jonny Yuma, will be teaming up with Wolfgang (of John Wilkes Booze). and better yet, the bands playing are great, too. the Gizmos were probably the first punk band in Indiana. this will be their latest reunion- and they are always a fantastic time. also playing is local powerhouse The Coke Dares, who have got to have one of the most energetic and catchy live acts of all time. are they a modern day Minutemen? maybe. shall I quote some blurbs? I shall.

Back in March 1976, when the Ramones were still a local New York band and the Sex Pistols weren't even a rumor in the U.S., a group of teenage fanzine writers, rock cultists, and heavy-metal dudes got together in Bloomington, Indiana, and recorded the first Gizmos EP. The strong influences of the Dictators, the MC5, the Stooges, the Velvet Underground, 60s garage bands, and 50s rockabilly crashed head-on with musicians self-trained on Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith, Black Sabbath, Santana, and Hendrix. These godfathers of Hoosier punk - possibly the first punk band in Indiana - opened for the Ramones in Nov. 1979.

The Coke Dares don't have time to drink their beer between songs, even when they play twenty five of them in a set. In fact, most people don't have time to buy another drink during their set, because even with twenty five songs, their set is usually done in that many minutes or less. But The Coke Dares aren't just blazing speed and screaming -- imagine twenty five of your favorite classic rock songs with all of the crap cut out of them, leaving you thirty seconds of the best parts of, say, "Walk Away" or "Radar Love." Born out of the idea that most bands play too long and don't really let themselves go enough to rock, and out of the members of the Panapoly Academy Legionnaires/Corps of Engineers, The Impossible Shapes, and Songs: Ohia/Magnolia Electric Co., The Coke Dares cram all they can in the shortest space possible and waste no time in hooking you and making you want more.

None of you reading this are probably anywhere near me, so it matters not if I tell you where it is. you have new year's plans already anyhow. but here are some tracks to whet your appetite, regardless. also, please consider donating to the red cross to help the tsunami victims.

The Gizmos - The Midwest Can Be Alright

Thursday, December 23, 2004

johnny cash christmas

There is nothing more appropriate for the holiday season than a little bit of ole JC. That's Johnny Cash, not Jesus Christ, but really, there isn't much difference, he has the voice of God, right? In 1972 JC decided to record an album of his whole extended family and friends. June Carter, Carl Perkins, Tommy Cash, the Carter Family, the Tennessee Three and the Statler Brothers all joined in on this project. Larry Butler produced and offered a piano instrumental as well. Between every song Johnny and various family members offer seasonal anecdotes about their Christmas memories from childhood and beyond. The songs are both traditional and original tunes. When listening to this LP you get a real sense of family- as if everybody's is sitting around on couches, chairs, the floor- in front of the fireplace. Sharing an eggnog and thinking of yesteryear. Each person takes a turn telling a story and singing a song. The album isn't great, but its a fun document. Enjoy these memories as you begin the holiday time with your own family.

Johnny Cash - Merry Christmas Mary
Johnny Cash - Christmas As I Knew It
Entire Cash Family - Silent Night

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

no-wave christmas pt 9: Davitt Sigerson

To catch up on what exactly is going on, read this post first. A summary: Ze Records, 1981, no-wave and mutant disco, christmas.

Davitt Sigerson grew up in New York and London, and read history at Oxford University. He has worked as a songwriter, record producer (Tori Amos, Bangles) and journalist, and as an executive in the music business. He lives in New York with his wife and their two daughters. He is working on his second novel. His first novel is called Faithful. The ninth track on the original Ze holiday compilation was from Davitt Sigerson. Visit a great Ze fansite.

Prior to becoming the president of Polydor Records in 1991, music critic/record producer Davitt Sigerson had an occasional career as a songwriter and singer. Six years after making a lyrically clever but musically bland solo album scorched with his unpleasantly raspy vocals, Sigerson formed a quartet with keyboardist Bob Thiele Jr. (a sideman on Falling in Love Again) and created an arty and idiosyncratic mixture of jazz-and-funk-inflected tunes given a surrealistic spin. Experiments in Terror is a descriptive mind-movie soundtrack with cryptic vocal passages in place of character dialogue. The electronic music and disembodied texts are reminiscent of Will Powers, but the Macadamians stimulate a wider variety of moods, using source material as far-ranging as George Jackson's Soledad Brother prison memoir. A concentration camp and the twisted, oppressive minds that run it - clinically described in the lyrics of "Arbeit Macht Frei" - are echoed in the pounding drums, crunching guitar and distorted solos. Intriguing and provocative. - Trouser Press

9. Davitt Sigerson - It's a Big Country

Monday, December 20, 2004

no-wave christmas pt 8: Was (Not Was)

To catch up on what exactly is going on, read this post first. A summary: Ze Records, 1981, no-wave and mutant disco, christmas.

What do MC5 guitarist Wayne Kramer, Mingus associate Marcus Belgrave, future Eminem accomplice Luis Resto, Mitch Ryder, Doug Fieger (of The Knack), Mel Tormé, Frank Sinatra, Jr., Leonard Cohen, Larry Fratangelo (P-Funk), Bruce Nazarian (Brownsville Station), Frank McCullers (Wild Cherry), Marshall Crenshaw, Vinnie Vincent, Bonnie Raitt, Carly Simon, Michael McDonald, Elton John, Michelle Shocked, Bob Seger, Neil Diamond, Roy Orbison, BB King, Glenn Frey, Ringo Starr, Jackson Browne, David Crosby, Conway Twitty, Waylon Jennings, Randy Newman, Marianne Faithfull, Kris Kristofferson, Joe Cocker, Travis Tritt, Stevie Nicks, Rickie Sambora, Joe Cocker, Garth Brooks, Ziggy Marley, Paul Westerberg, Bette Midler, Barenaked Ladies, the Black Crowes, Edie Brickell, the Chieftans, Hootie and the Blowfish, Dwight Yoakam, Lyle Lovitt, Ladytron, the B-52's, Bob Dylan, Iggy Pop, Elvis Costello, Syd Straw, Paula Abdul, the Rolling Stones, Willie Nelson, and the Roches have in common? They all worked with Was (Not Was) at one point in their career- either through collaboration or Don Was' extensive production career. Long before they were piped into every living room in America with their hit "Walk the Dinosaur", they were melding rock, funk, and god knows what in the early 80s for Ze. The eighth track on the holiday compilation was from Was (Not Was).

David was born on October 26, 1952 in a Detroit hospital, his 'brother' Don was born a few weeks earlier, on 13 September 1952, in a nearby hospital. Don's mother was a high school teacher and his father a high-school counselor.. David's parents were both entertainers. In the 1950s his father Rube Weiss played Soupy Sales' sidekick, Shoutin' Shorty Hogan, on the late night Soupy Sales Show, not the kids' version. Both sets of parents were tolerant of their children's eccentricities, which would eventually lead to Was (Not Was).

Although Don lived eight blocks away from David in Oak Park, it wasn't until Oak Park's Clinton Junior High-school in the 1960s that they met each other outside eighth grade gym teachers office while waiting to be punished. David had seen Don performing Midnight Special and a Dylan song in an eighth grade talent show and realized that he was different from other kids.

They would meet on the top of the high school bleachers and talk about how they were going to make a record one day. In the Humor Prison, which was the basement of David's parents' house, they would wear funny masks and make tapes on a reel-to-reel machine, and laugh till they couldn't laugh any more. The tapes would bear witness to their influences when young, MC5, Iggy & The Stooges, Frank Zappa, The Firesign Theater, Jazz (especially Thelonious Monk & John Coltrane) and Motown.

They called themselves Nirvarden Maverse (Don) and Ferguson Webster aka Webbo (David). At one time they published their own newspaper "The Daily Bot" full of fictitious news. The creativity didn't stop there. They ran a comedy troupe called the Maverse Players, dropped acid and wrote Dadaist poetry, and held a mock political convention. Their politics saw them getting involved with the White Panther movement and holding their own demonstration during the Vietnam Moratorium in 1969, which got them mentioned all over the USA.

They both attended The University of Michigan Ann Arbor, but Don dropped out after the first year. After getting married in 1972, Don worked as a journeyman musician getting work where he could. There was not much money and Don was worried about how to feed his family. David was married in 1980 and moved to LA where he worked jazz critic for the "LA Herald Examiner". The geographical separation didn't stop David and Don staying in contact. There were long phone calls where they would write songs. Some of these appeared on the first album, "Was (Not Was)".

It was during one of these phone calls that Don told David his money problems had got so bad, that he was going to turn to crime to solve them. Don had hatched a plan to rob a dry cleaners. David decided to travel back to Detroit so that they could to make a record together, rather than let his long-time friend turn to crime.

Above text ripped from the super-exhaustive history at their official website. Where you will also discover that they are about to go on a short tour! Here are the dates:


8. Was (Not Was) - Christmas Time in Motor City

Buy their reissues here.

Friday, December 17, 2004

no-wave christmas pt 7: Material

To catch up on what exactly is going on, read this post first. A summary: Ze Records, 1981, no-wave and mutant disco, christmas.

The seventh track on the holiday compilation was from Material. Even today Material has new releases all the time under the healm of Bill Laswell.

One of the most high-profile projects of the endlessly prolific bassist and producer Bill Laswell, Material pioneered a groundbreaking fusion of jazz, funk, and punk that also incorporated elements of hip-hop and world music well before either's entrance into the mass cultural consciousness. Formed in 1979, the first Material lineup consisted of Laswell, multi-instrumentalist Michael Beinhorn, and drummer Fred Maher, all three staples of the downtown New York City underground music scene. The group, plus Kramer and a few others backed Gong's Daevid Allen during his New York visit, resulting in the album About Time by New York Gong. After Material's debut LP under their own name, Temporary Music, the group's ranks swelled to include figures ranging from Sonny Sharrock to Henry Threadgill to Fred Frith, additions which yielded 1981's superb Memory Serves. A guest list running the gamut from Nile Rodgers to a then-unknown Whitney Houston distinguished the avant funk of 1982's One Down, the final Material LP before a nearly decade-long hiatus; Laswell finally reassembled the troops in 1989 to record the atmospheric Seven Souls, which spotlighted the spoken word performances of the legendary William S. Burroughs. 1991's The Third Power brought the group back to its soulful roots, with guests including Herbie Hancock, Sly & Robbie, Maceo Parker, and the Jungle Brothers.

7. Material w/ Nona Hendrix - Its a Holiday

Buy some Material goods.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

no-wave christmas pt 6: Kid Creole

To catch up on what exactly is going on, read this post first. A summary: Ze Records, 1981, no-wave and mutant disco, christmas.

The sixth track on the holiday compilation was from August Darnell aka Kid Creole (and the Coconuts). Here is the official (?) Kid Creole website.

Thomas August Darnell Browder (aka August Darnell) was born in Montreal on August 12, 1950, the son of a French Canadian mother and a Dominican father, but was raised in the New York City borough of the Bronx. In 1965, he formed the In-Laws with his half-brother, Stony Browder, Jr. He earned a master's degree in English and became an English teacher, but in 1974 again joined his half-brother as bass guitarist, singer, and lyricist in Dr. Buzzard's Original "Savannah" Band, a group that mixed disco with big band and Latin styles. In 1976, Dr. Buzzard achieved a gold-selling album with its self-titled debut release, but its subsequent recordings were less successful. Darnell began to write and produce for other acts, co-composing Machine's 1979 chart entry "There But for the Grace of God Go I" and working with James Chance among others. In 1980, he became a staff producer at ZE Records and created the persona of Kid Creole (the name adapted from the Elvis Presley film King Creole) with a backup group, the Coconuts, consisting of three female singers led by his wife Adriana ("Addy") Kaegi, and a band containing vibraphone player "Sugar-Coated" Andy Hernandez (a/k/a Coati Mundi), also from Dr. Buzzard. Kid Creole was a deliberately comic figure, a Latinized Cab Calloway type in a zoot suit and broad-brimmed hat who sang songs like "Mister Softee" that found him decrying his impotence while being berated by the Coconuts. Off the Coast of Me, the first Kid Creole & the Coconuts album, was released in August 1980 by ZE records worldwide through a distribution deal with Island Records and through Antilles in the USA. It earned good reviews for its clever lyrics and mixture of musical styles, but did not sell. ZE made a deal with Sire Records in the States (in turn part of Warner Bros. Records), and Sire released the second Kid Creole & the Coconuts album, Fresh Fruit in Foreign Places, in June 1981. It reached the charts briefly, and Coati Mundi's dance single, "Me No Pop I," was a Top 40 hit in the U.K. Fresh Fruit was a concept album that found the Kid Creole character embarking on an Odyssey-like search for a character named Mimi, and it was given a stage production at the New York Public Theater. Kid Creole & the Coconuts remained a compelling live act with an imaginative visual style, which led to film and television opportunities. They appeared in the film Against All Odds in 1984 and continued to be tapped for movie projects in subsequent years, either for appearances or music: New York Stories (1989), The Forbidden Dance (1990), Identity Crisis (1990), Only You (1992), Car 54, Where Are You? (1994).

6. August Darnell - Christmas on Riverside Drive

Buy Kid Creole and the Coconuts CDs

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

no-wave christmas pt 5: The Waitresses

To catch up on what exactly is going on, read this post first. A summary: Ze Records, 1981, no-wave and mutant disco, christmas.

The fifth track on the holiday compilation was from the Waitresses. Here is a Waitresses website.

The Waitresses existed for the purpose of performing the witty, often female-oriented songs of guitarist Chris Butler, who had previously led a series of new wave bands in Cleveland. The personnel of the band as of its 1982 debut album, Wasn't Tomorrow Wonderful, was, in addition to Butler, singer Patty Donahue, backup singer Ariel Warner, reed player Mars Williams, bassist David Horstra, drummer Billy Ficca (a once and future member of Television), and keyboardist Dan Klayman. The group recorded two albums and a mini-LP in the early '80s.

The Waitresses' 1982 debut album, Wasn't Tomorrow Wonderful?, was a unique and fairly important moment in early-'80s new wave, though the band failed to gain momentum from their success and effectively broke up within two years of releasing their first record. Lead singer Patty Donahue's singing ranged from a playful sexiness on the well-known hit "I Know What Boys Like" to a half-talk, half-yell with shades of post-punk groups like Gang of Four and the Raincoats on "Pussy Strut" and "Go On." The guitar and bass were bizarre and funk-influenced in much the same way as other well-known Akron, OH, groups like Devo and the Pretenders. Wasn't Tomorrow Wonderful? was, in a sense, the brainchild of Chris Butler, who wrote most of the songs and co-produced the album in addition to playing guitar. Butler's version of new wave was danceable and fun, certainly, but witty and insightful lyrics were also an essential ingredient. Ultimately, though, it was Donahue's attitude that gave the music its personality and made the album a critical and commercial success.

Their subsequent EP further samples some of the Waitresses' smart new wave charm, including the silly but cute "Square Pegs" (theme from the short-lived TV show of the same name), the live recording of the ska-inflected title track, and the priceless "Christmas Wrapping," one of the best holiday pop tunes ever recorded (and some say pre-dating Blondie's foray into rap, Rapture). Patty Donahue died of cancer in late 1996. - AMG

5. The Waitresses - Christmas Rapping

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

no-wave christmas pt 4: James White

To catch up on what exactly is going on, read this post first. A summary: Ze Records, 1981, no-wave and mutant disco, christmas.

The fourth track on the holiday compilation was from the James White aka James Chance aka James White and the Blacks aka James White and the Contortions. Here is the James Chance website. Visit the amazing New York No Wave Photo Archive.

Born Siegfried in Milwaukee, USA. James moved to New York where he initially took the name James Chance, this Ornette Colman influenced experimental saxophonist forged the uncompromising Teenage Jesus And The Jerks with Lydia Lunch in 1976. The following year he left to form the Contortions, who debuted in 1978 on the album No New York, produced by Brian Eno, which chronicled the city's seminal no wave movement, an experimental fusion of punk with free jazz. In 1979 Chance with the Pill Factory issued the maxi single EP, Theme From Grutzi Elvis, the original soundtrack of Diego Cortez's movie 'Gruty Elvis', prior to changing his name and founding a new act, James White And The Blacks. The members of his previous group, Pat Place (guitar), Jody Harris (guitar), George Scott III (bass) and Don Christensen (drums), Adele Bertei (organ), accompanied the saxophonist on his funk/disco project long-playing debut Off White. The same year he also record for Ze records with his band the Contortions the album BUY. These two albums are considered to be James' best work. James' two combos the Contortions or the Blacks where the most important and influencial bands from the New York's short-lived No Wave movement, playing a noisy, clattering avant-funk that drew from punk and free jazz. In 1983 James completed a third album for ZE records : James White's Demonics.

Aside from a few live recordings, the original Contortions lineup didn't release much more material. Although James continued to lead versions of the Contortions through the early '80s, the original lineup split up in 1980. Place went on to join the acclaimed Bush Tetras, while Harris, Scott, and Christensen formed the Raybeats.

4. James White - Christmas with Satan

Buy James Chance stuff

Monday, December 13, 2004

no-wave christmas pt 3: Three Courgettes

To catch up on what exactly is going on, read this post first. A summary: Ze Records, 1981, no-wave and mutant disco, christmas.

The third track on the holiday compilation was from the Three Courgettes. Here is a website about what main woman Barb Jungr is doing these days.

She's called 'Britain's answer to Juliette Greco and Serge Gainsbourg', 'A British Piaf', 'legendary' and 'a cult'. The leading singer and song stylist of cabaret and chansons in Britain and a driving force of contemporary European cabaret in the world, Barb Jungr has a unique recording and performance history.

Born in Rochdale in the northwest of England to Czech and German parents she sang in folk clubs at school, jazz and blues bands at college, in theatre in London and began recording for CBS records in the late 1970πs with a 'single of the week - almost' in the NME. Forming the Three Courgettes she toured with Kid Creole and appeared on the original alternative cabaret circuit in the UK.

She formed The Three Courgettes (Island Records) with Michael Parker and Jerry Kreeger, and busked new wave versions of gospel classics in the Kings Road and Portobello Market in the late 1970's, where the band were discovered by Island Records, subsequently touring with Kid Creole and the Coconuts and all manner of other acts (Sade, Mari Wilson, The Jets and many comedians). The Three Courgettes recorded a special Christmas track for Michael Zilkha's "Ze Christmas Album". After the Courgettes parted she recorded for Magnet Records and released an album.

3. Three Courgettes - Christmas is Coming

Buy Barb's most recent album

Friday, December 10, 2004

no-wave christmas pt 2: Suicide

To catch up on what exactly is going on, read this post first. A summary: Ze Records, 1981, no-wave and mutant disco, christmas.

The second track on the holiday compilation was from the NYC duo, Suicide. Here is a website. There is even a book coming out early next year about them. Do yourself a favor and at least pick up their first two albums. And delve into the archives to check out some real Suicide idolatry at 20jazzfunkgreats, where I won a contest to help find the modern Suicide (my entry was Ghost Exits.)

Although they barely receive credit, Suicide (singer Alan Vega and keyboardist Martin Rev) is the source point for virtually every synth pop duo that glutted the pop marketplace (especially in England) in the early '80s. Without the trailblazing Rev and Vega, there would have been no Soft Cell, Erasure, Bronski Beat, Yaz, you name 'em, and while many would tell you that that's nothing to crow about, the aforementioned synth-poppers merely appropriated Suicide's keyboards/singer look and none of Rev and Vega's extremely confrontational performance style and love of dissonance. The few who did (Throbbing Gristle, Cabaret Voltaire) were considered too extreme for most tastes.

Suicide had been a part of the performing arts scene in New York City's Lower East Side in the early/mid-'70s New York Dolls era. Their approach to music was simple: Rev would create minimalistic, spooky, hypnotic washes of dissonant keyboards and synthesizers, while Vega sang, ranted, and spat neo-Beat lyrics in a jumpy, disjointed fashion. On stage, Vega became confrontational, often baiting the crowd into a riotous frenzy that occasionally led to full-blown violence, usually with the crowd attacking Vega. With their reputation as controversial performers solidified, what was lost was that Suicide recorded some amazingly seductive and terrifying music. A relationship with Cars mastermind Ric Ocasek proved successful, bringing their music to a wider audience and developing unlikely fans (Bruce Springsteen went on record as loving Suicide's Vietnam-vet saga "Frankie Teardrop"), but after numerous breakups and reconciliations, Rev and Vega settled for being more influential than commercially successful.

2. Suicide - Hey Lord

Get your Suicide goodies here.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

no-wave christmas pt 1: Cristina

For the next nine posts we will be fully exploring one of the oddest of Christmas compilations ever issued. At the height of NYC's mutant disco and no-wave scenes, the last thing you would expect would be songs of holiday "cheer". But that is exactly what they delivered (to mixed results).

In 1981 and 1982 Ze Records published its own Christmas album under the supervision of Michael Zilkha. All the American artists on Ze answered the call and came up with a Christmas track. Cristina, with the two Was false brothers, went to Detroit to record Things fall Apart, David & Don Was also recorded Christmas Time in Motor City with their band Was (Not Was). August Darnell drew inspiration from New York for his Christmas in River Side Drive. Chris Butler composed a piece for his band The Waitresses entitled Christmas Wrapping, later covered by Spice Girls. Matieral, Bill Laswells gang along with the Diva, Nona Hendryx, recorded It's a Holiday during the 'Bustin Out' sessions. James White, in the 1982 version, spent Christmas with Satan. Davitt Sigerson shared his angelic version of It's a Big Country. Alan Vega and Martin Rev offer the magnificent Hey Lord by Suicide.

Ze recently released an update to their holiday album with new tracks and a new package. Check it out! In the meantime here are the tracks in their original order ripped from the vinyl, so apologies for any pops, crackles or skips.

The opening track on the holiday compilation was from Ze's sweetheart, Christina. There is a great website with all the information, pictures, etc that you would ever want, and here is a snippet.

She had a keen mind, biting wit, and a model's beauty. Her career barely lasted a half-decade, yet she worked with movie star Kevin Klein, Grammy Award-winner Don Was (Bonnie Raitt's Nick of Time), The Knack's Doug Fieger, sax radical James Chance, and August Darnell, aka Kid Creole. Her legacy? Some brilliant singles, two albums, praise from Siouxsie, Blondie, and the fifth estate.

Cristina Monet was destined for greatness before she ever cut a record. She attended Harvard (where she won the History and Literature prize in her sophomore year) and London's Central School of Drama. While working as an apprentice theater critic at the Village Voice, she met her future husband, fellow writer - and heir to the Mothercare fortune - Michael Zilkha.

In 1978, Zilkha was keen on starting a record label that married punk with disco. Towards this end, he had purchased the publishing to "Disco Clone," a ditty by a fellow Harvard undergrad thespian of Cristina's, Ronald Melrose. "When Michael bought 'Disco Clone,' I said, 'That is, without doubt, the worst song I have ever heard,'" recalls Cristina. "'It is so bad that the only way you could record it would be as Brechtian pastiche.' And Michael said, 'Do you want to give it a shot?'"

With her dramatic training, Cristina - multi-tracked into a chorus of cooing clones - easily assumed the role of a Halston-clad disco bimbo. Finding a leering lothario to narrate the tale proved harder. "All the boys turned into pussycats in front of the microphone." Finally, she approached Kevin Klein, then on Broadway in On The Twentieth Century. "I nipped backstage and said, 'How would you like to make some money?'" He agreed.

John Cale produced the track. Island Records head honcho Chris Blackwell dug it. "Suddenly, I was a solo recording artist, on the newly-formed ZE Records/Island," gasps Cristina. Surprise! "Disco Clone" would go through several incarnations, prompting Blackwell to dub it "Island's most expensive failure," but its charms didn't escape notice. Melody Maker called the disc "artfully dumb," anointing it Single of the Week.

1. Cristina - Things Fall Apart

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

chairkicker's christmas

While I am more than a little disappointed that no one left me ANY comments on the AMAZING King Diamond Christmas song, I will continue to give out mp3 presents, regardless. You ungrateful bastards. Sheesh.

Low is a trio from Duluth, Minnesota, who make very slow music. That's not the only thing there is to their music, or even the most important thing, but it's what you'll notice first. Low plays songs stripped to their bare essentials: slow tempos, quiet voices, powerful lyrics, and minimal instrumentations. Low could be described as "Joy Division meets Simon & Garfunkel".

"Despite the commerce involved, we hope you will consider this our gift to you. Best wishes. - Mimi, Alan & Zak"

This perfectly sums up Low. They are wonderful, gentle people. A number of years ago they put out a holiday EP on their own label, Chairkickers Union. Amongst covers of traditional tunes such as Silent Night and Little Drummer Boy, they also drop a gorgeous Blue Christmas. Also, they have a number of originals, and it was really difficult to choose which songs to post here, so I ended up posting 3 of the 8 songs on the CD. Low have an amazing new album produced by David Fridmann (Flaming Lips, Mercury Rev) coming out on Sub Pop Records on January 25th. Its their first for Sub Pop and their 7th overall. Stay tuned for more Christmas goodness in the coming weeks... and buy it at Insound!

Low - Just Like Christmas
Low - If You Were Born Today
Low - One Special Gift

Monday, December 06, 2004

no presents for king diamond

I hate to say it, but I just realised how many Christmas type songs I was wanting to post this season and decided that I need to interrupt the regularly scheduled broadcast of whatever the hell it is that I normally put on this blog and begin the holiday onslaught unto thee. Normal music will be back after the break, but in the meantime, prepare yourselves...

Widely regarded as the finest vocalist in all of death metal (who possesses a multi-octave range), theatrical rocker King Diamond first rose to prominence as a member of Mercyful Fate, before launching a solo career on his own. Born Kim Bendix Petersen in Denmark on June 14, 1956, the future King Diamond was originally drawn to theatrically based hard rock due to such trailblazers as Alice Cooper, and soon began fronting local bands in the '70s, including a punk metal outfit called the Brats. Shortly thereafter, the group mutated into Mercyful Fate. Diamond, by this time, had developed an interest in the occult, which reflected in the new group's subject matter, as the frontman began wearing makeup (which resembled a cross between his hero Cooper and Kiss' Gene Simmons).

Diamond's series of gothic-operatic concept albums in the late 80s are unparalled in their scope and pure thrashy awesomeness to this day. In the early 90s, Diamond found his name embroiled in controversy -- due to a Geraldo Rivera TV special on music with supposed "hidden messages". Kiss' Simmons served a lawsuit against the singer, claiming that the makeup design Diamond had been using too closely resembled the one that Simmons used in the '70s and early '80s, which resulted in an out of court settlement and with Diamond being forced to modify his makeup design. (This further pushes the idea that Gene Simmons is indeed the world's biggest douchebag.)

King Diamond - No Presents for Christmas

Oh yeah, you wanna buy some King Diamond now dontcha?!

Thursday, December 02, 2004

beakers & blackouts

Love him or hate him, Calvin Johnson of K Records has had quite an impact in his existence. From Beat Happening to Halo Benders to Dub Narcotic to the vast array of artists on his label. To further add to the legacy is his good taste. In recent years he has taken to doing DJ tours where he is known to drop everything from dub 45s straight from jamaica to the newest Kelis remix to unknown punk from his region. Today we have two recent reissues out now on K.

The Beakers were a hack fit of four art-bashing funk wave arbiters who skronked into action Jan. 1980 and expired in Jan. 1981. In between they toured up and down the west coast, released a 45 and songs on two compilations, played shows with Delta 5 and Gang of Four, and recorded several times. The majority of the 17 songs on Four Steps Toward a Cultural Revolution (KLP163) have never been released before; the handful that were once available are now long out of print. The four Beakers, George Romansic, drums, Mark H. Smith, guitar and vocals, Jim Anderson, sax and vocals, and Frankie Sundsten, bass, were an abrupt, powerful force on the Seattle musical scene, who through the force of their personalities and charmingly abrasive music made that town quake, dance and smile.

"Scarily fine talent... Mark H Smith's team had talent by the truckload. Spiky guitars, left field words, great rhythm section... They were the key movers in developing the alt West coast artpunk sound." - Jon King, Gang of Four

"Nowhere! Out there! Crazy cross-eyed American funk keeps on swinging." - NME, 1980

The Beakers - Red Towel
The Beakers - Football Season's in Full Swing

The Blackouts were the best Seattle band you never heard of. To those who bought their records and attended their shows, this is no secret. But for the majority who didn't, this exciting anthology--long overdue--thankfully now exists. Sequenced in reverse-chronological order, it begins with their last recordings, which were produced by Al Jourgensen and originally released on Wax Trax! (three Blackouts later worked with Jourgensen in Ministry after the Blackouts demise). The album ends with their debut 45 “The Underpass”. Included on History in Reverse (KLP165) are three previously unreleased songs from the Wax Trax! session.In 1979, following the breakup of the notorious Telepaths, several members (guitarist Erich Werner, drummer Bill Rieflin, synth/sax player Roland Barker and bassist Mike Davidson, later replaced by Paul “Ion” Barker) re-formed as a new musical alliance--the Blackouts. They had an implosive intensity and were the antithesis of the bar bands that dominated Seattle's anemic local music scene. Intentional, dynamic songs were the Blackouts' stock-in-trade. At this they excelled. Over the next six years they released four singles and EPs on four different labels (Modern, Engram, Situation Two, a subsidiary of 4AD, and Wax Trax!) and relocated to Boston, then San Francisco. Few bands from that era can claim as impressive a legacy as History in Reverse

Thanks to 20 jazz funk greats for alerting me to these great history lessons in the first place. Buy em both here.

Blackouts - Idiot
Blackouts - Being Be

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Wednesday, December 01, 2004

colourbox world cup theme

Last week, grapejuiceplus beat me to the punch with his wonderful little Colourbox post. But hey, this isn't a race, this is an education er somethin. So here is MORE Colourbox, because I know all you huge Colourbox fans out there are just chomping at the bit for more, More, MORE!!! errmm... yeah. here are 2 tracks off two different EPs. Colourbox later teamed with AR Kane to make the #1 hit Pump Up the Volume under the moniker M/A/R/R/S. Think of this as a precursor to my week long celebration of MARRS where we will dissect all of the samples that I can find in full form!

Visit the awesome eyesore 4AD database for all your 4AD needs.

One of the legendary 4AD label's earliest and most under-recognized acts, Colourbox was among the first artists outside of the realm of hip-hop to rely heavily on sampling techniques; ultimately, their arty blue-eyed soul -- a fusion of far-ranging influences spanning from classic R&B to dub to industrial -- reached its commerical and creative apotheosis through their work on M/A/R/R/S' seminal "Pump Up the Volume" project, a reflection of the group's long-standing interest in the burgeoning underground dance music scene of the 1980s.

Colourbox was primarily the work of London-based brothers Martyn and Steven Young, who recruited vocalist Debian Curry to sing on their 1982 4AD debut "Breakdown"; Curry was replaced by Lorita Grahame in time for the trio's 1983 re-recording of the same track, this time produced by Mick Glossop. Colourbox's self-titled debut EP -- a collection of dub and scratching experiments heralding their first plunge into sampling technology, edited down from three hours of studio sessions -- appeared later that same year, with the single "Say You" following in 1984. After another 12-inch, "Punch," the group issued 1985's "The Moon Is Blue," a teaser for their upcoming full-length LP, also a self-titled affair; "Baby I Love You So" and "The Official Colourbox World Cup Theme" both appeared the following year.

In 1987, at the behest of 4AD chief Ivo Watts-Russell, the Young brothers teamed with labelmates AR Kane as M/A/R/R/S to record a single fusing the rhythms and beats from classic soul recordings with state-of-the-art electronics and production. Complete with scratches by champion mixer Chris "C.J." Mackintosh and London DJ Dave Dorrell, "Pump Up the Volume" -- a breakthrough effort heralding sampling's gradual absorption from hip hop into dance music and ultimately the pop mainstream -- soon topped the British charts, the first 4AD release to accomplish the feat. Plans for a follow-up never materialized, however; stranger still, despite M/A/R/R/S' success both the Youngs and Colourbox seemed to vanish, with no future recordings forthcoming. - AMG

Colourbox - Nation
Colourbox - Baby, I Love You So