August 31, 2010


In 1965, while on a U.S. tour, Ray Davies of the Kinks smacked a Musicians' Union official in the face; as a result the Kinks were banned from playing the USA for 5 years. This turned them from British Invasion hitmakers into an obscure, exotic acquired taste. The Kinks' American record company shrewdly turned their inability to come over and promote their records into an asset, cultivating their faraway English quaintness and printing up Union Jack badges with the band's name on them. This pretty much started a whole subculture of American Anglophiles who, sick of Woodstock pompousness and L.A. cowboy fashion, turned to Old Blighty for their musical heroes.
California especially seemed to be fertile ground for this Anglophile cult, despite - or probably because - it was the epicentre of laid-back country-rock. Almost all future key players in the L.A. punk scene started out rabid Limey fanatics: The proto-Germs bonded over a love for Queen and Yes; Alice Bag was crazy about Elton John (and sported similar glasses!); future Frontier label boss Lisa Fanchier was a card-carrying Mott the Hoople fan club member; Rodney Bingenheimer's club was even called the English Disco! To top it off, L.A. band Sparks liked England so much they moved there (a move 180 degrees contrary to the more common westward trek of UK musicians at the time). No wonder the Los Angeles punk scene would stylistically become the most extreme one in the States, avoiding any boogie or blues inflections, instead focusing on fast, staccato rhythms and cheap transistor distortion.
Dangerhouse records pretty much epitomized all that was cool, new and extreme about L.A. punk; their legendary catalog of a little more than a dozen 7 inchers (Bags, Dils, Weirdos, Avengers etc. etc.) contains nary a clunker. Then there's Howard Werth's "Obsolete". The least favourite and collectable Dangerhouse release by about 1000 miles, everybody seemed to wonder what moved them to put out a record by an old English hippie who used to sing for prog rockers Audience. Well, now you know.
P.S.: The cover scans don't really do justice to its beautiful day-glo colours. I scanned both front and back because they fit together so nicely, just like those old Roger Dean gatefolds!

August 29, 2010


This beautiful French 10 inch declares Lionel Hampton to be squarely in the "R 'n R" (R et R?) camp, a reminder that back in the Fifties mr. Heybabareba was universally slagged off by Serious Jazz Critics. Also note that, while mr. Hampton is holding his cymbal in the air, there seems to be a piece of the cymbal stand still attached to it!

August 25, 2010


It took a while, but I've finally played the whole pile of 1-buck-each records I obtained a couple of weeks ago. So OK, there's loads of stuff I'll never play again (anyone looking for that elusive Red Beat, Weird Strings or Family Fodder 45, get in touch!), then there's loads of New Wave Hits I couldn't pass up (c'mon, Party Fears Two is a classic). Also a pile of Dutch stuff like Catapult and Long Tall Ernie & Shakers, some of which I won't play a lot but I feel it's my Patriotic duty to have them. That leaves about a dozen of true jewels, my current favourite being the Stick Figures 1981 EP. Never heard of them, but the sleeve looked cool, even though there's no info on it apart from the members' first names. A quick Google search taught me they were from Florida and put out this EP in 5 different covers, each designed by a different band member. One blog compared this EP to late-70s NY No Wave, but while there's scratchy guitars, weird noises and lopsided rhythms galore, there's also some nice melodies to be found, especially in Rachel (Nolastname)'s singing.
Whereas I usually and lazily get my mp3s from Soulseek, I had to do some old-fashioned vinyl ripping myself this time, as these tracks were nowhere to be found!

August 23, 2010


(Wot, Als Je Haar Maar Goed Zit without the yellow? No, it's the Avengers!)
Two more Dropstyle finds. There have probably been more Avengers than Antidotes; this is the Dutch mid-80s version. They put out three pretty good 7 inches but were either 5 years too late or 5 years too early to earn the appreciation they deserved. First EP Escape In Time was recorded without a bass player and sounds like a mid-90s Crypt record, raw and primitive. The All I Ever Wanted 45 from a couple of years later is a slicker affair, with typical late-80s production, but still great songs. Singer Jeroen Vedder and drummer Jerry Goossens would later write Dutch punk history Het Gejuich Was Massaal, as well as compile the I'm Sure We're Gonna Make It CD. I used to see those Avengers EPs in record stores everywhere, for years. By 1986 the novelty of self-released records had worn off; before, people would buy anything that looked interesting, now they would only check out the stuff that was part of their particular clique. Which to today's collectors is good news, 'cuz you should be able to find these EPs at a reasonable price!
Rubber Doll (from Escape In Time EP, 1986)
Standing On The Outside (All I Ever Wanted 7", 1988?)

August 13, 2010


In the midst of Dropstyle's one-buck-each feeding frenzy, I bumped into this one. Feeling a little guilty already about scooping up so many beauties at next-to-nothing, I told Benno: you should keep this one, it's worth a few bob! The next day, as I resumed my vinyl hunt, Benno said: guess what, I've found two more copies of that EP, want one?
Hometown Atrocities is a fairly typical late 80's UK punk sampler. It's also the holy grail for Radiohead collectors, as Headless Chickens feature one Thom (then still plain "Tom") Yorke on guitar and backing vocals. I Don't Want To Go To Woodstock is a nice piece of slightly glammy pop punk, a bit out of step with the other 3 bands that are more U.S./Dischord-y, as a lot of UK bands were at the time. Like Mad At The Sun, whose track This Could Be... rises above most of their UK "Emo" peers thanks to some nice staccato guitar and its raw, basic production.

August 11, 2010


Even though I never heard Modern English, and always had a vague suspicion they were a sub-Joy D. doomy kind of band, I had to scoop this one up. Big surprise! Their Swans On Glass/ Incident 45 from 1980 is actually a slab of great, catchy, scratchy and slightly unhinged post-punk, sort of like the Scars circa "Horrorshow".

August 09, 2010


One of 86 seven inch records I bought at the great Dropstyle (Hoorn, NL) record store last week; they held an insane summer clearance sale with all 7 inches going for 1 Euro each!
Never heard of XXOO, but a peek at the back cover of their 1982 EP revealed this is actually Half Japanese. Apparently, they used the name XXOO ("kisses and hugs") to highlight their sensitive side, playing 3 love songs that sound like a blueprint for Daniel Johnston's career. How Will I Know? is the only original; That's What They Say (Buddy Holly) and Tracks Of My Tears (Miracles) are covers.

August 01, 2010


A Mekons fan once wrote: "Rock is the only kind of music that sounds better when performed by people who can't play". This doesn't hold true for every type of rock though: nobody wants to hear badly played funk, jazzrock or metal. But badly played punk, garage and soul: can't get enough of it! Personally, I'd like to rephrase above saying as "rock (punk/garage/soul) sounds just as good when performed by people who can't play", as I like slickly-produced, well-played punk (Rezillos, Generation X) as much as I like the Mekons. Likewise with soul, I love slick stuff like Etta James + strings just as much as yer ultra-primitivo Fortune records stuff.
One of my favourite soul singers, Joe Tex, put out loads and loads of singles in a bewildering variety of recording quality and slickness. In his case, I prefer his more primitive stuff, which for some reason can mostly be found on the "big" Checker label (I guess some smalltime producer leased them the recordings). 1963's "You Keep Her" was an answer record to James Brown's "I Found Someone"; I love the flubbed trumpet note in the first chorus. "Baby You're Right" is more or less the same song (or vice versa as an earlier recording predates "You Keep Her"). Both songs sound like they're recorded in some barn using one microphone. Joe Tex would achieve superstardom only months later with the great "Never Been In A Riot"... er, "Hold What You've Got".
You Keep Her
Baby You're Right