30.5.10

impLOG : "Breakfast" 7" (1980)

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I originally posted impLOG's infamously elusive "Breakfast" over a year ago, & STILL it "languishes in Reissue Waiting Room Hell". Surprisingly so, in fact - there's been so much interest in their remarkable "Holland Tunnel Drive" 12" that I figured some enterprising opportunist might've stuck both of their 45s onto CD by now, supplemented with whatever contemporaneous junk Don Christensen could find in the attic. C'mon Soul Jazz, get your act together!

To reiterate: impLOG's "Breakfast"/"She Creatures" 7" was released in 1980 on the band's own Log label. A copy'll currently set you back $500 on Discogs. The "Holland Tunnel Dive"/"On B'way" 12" followed later the same year, courtesy of Charles Ball's pre-eminent Lust/Unlust. Christensen & impLOG co-conspirator Jody Harris had previously played together in The Contortions. Harris went on to found The Raybeats & collaborate with Robert Quine (on the Escape LP, another vital Lust/Unlust artifact). Each of impLOG's 4 officially released tracks could conceivably be by a totally different band. I like that. Though you might've missed it, Christensen temporarily revived the impLOG moniker in 2005 for the Philip Glass remix project, Glass Cuts.

Breakfast Creatures

29.5.10

ROBERT QUINE & FRED MAHER : Basic (1984)

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Ah yes, the intangible, enduring allure of the 2nd hand record shop! Before I found a copy of Basic in the stuffed racks of this musty emporium last week I'd not previously heard of it. Now, of course, I'm semi-outraged as to why it's been unobtainable for so long - the cursory CD reissue appears to be rarer than the original LP, for God's sake!

An instrumental collaboration between Robert Quine & Fred Maher (Material, Scritti Politti), Basic was recorded at Quine's home studio in N.Y.C. in early '84, while both of them were still fresh from their brief tenure as fellow Voidoids (on 1982's Destiny Street) & in Lou Reed's last great live band (during his Blue Mask / Legendary Hearts period, alongside bassist Fernando Saunders). For whatever reason, Quine never got 'round to releasing a bona fide solo album, but Basic comes pretty close - Maher's unobtrusive bass & electronic percussion providing a stripped back, metronomic anchor for Quine's thoughtful, serpentine Fender wrangling. Alongside his well documented interest in The Velvet Underground & involvement in New York's formative punk scene, Quine cultivated an ongoing passion for contemporary jazz, & perhaps that's why parts of Basic remind me - a stereotypically ill-informed jazz novice - of Mile Davis' early 70s electric work, albeit with something of an Eno sensibility? Lester Bangs: "Someday Quine will be recognised for the pivotal figure that he is on his instrument - he is the first guitarist to take the breakthroughs of early Lou Reed & James Williamson & work through them to a new, individual vocabulary, driven into odd places by obsessive attention to On The Corner-era Miles Davis." N.B. Edifying Quine site here.

PATTI SMITH : Hey Joe (Version) (1974)

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On the off chance you've not heard it before (it's a nightmare to track down afterall), here's Patti Smith's cover (of Jimi Hendrix's cover of The Leaves' cover) of Billy Roberts' "Hey Joe". Her debut, it was recorded at Electric Ladyland in 1974 in glorious mono, financed by her long-term confidante Robert Mapplethorpe, & released through their own Mer label. Her group at this point consisted of Lenny Kaye (guitar), Tom Verlaine (guitar) & Richard Sohl (piano), with Kaye also bagging the production credit. The b-side is the better known, arguably superior "Piss Factory", Patti's semi-autobiographical, semi-Surrealistic detailing of woeful factory assembly line travail. Though an outstanding track, "Piss Factory" is easily obtainable c/o the Land compilation so I'm not including it here. Satisfyingly, both sides of the 7" have retained their propensity to astonish, their allusions to Patty Heart, the S.L.A. & Rimbaud, combined with the singularly baroque sound, defiantly placing the group well outside the early 70s, Eagles-inhabited "rock" enclosure. One of the greatest singles ever, basically.

23.5.10

MARINE GIRLS : On My Mind 7" (1981)

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Strange how the least pre-possessing of bands are often the ones that endure. Who would have thought, for instance, that Young Marble Giants' solitary LP would be selling more copies than ever, 3 decades on? Ditto Marine Girls, whose Beach Party & Lazy Ways LPs continue to acquire new admirers on the back of Cherry Red's re-reissued 2-fer CD compilation. Your copy, like mine, probably doesn't include their standalone "On My Mind"/"The Lure Of The Rockpools" 7", originally released by In Phaze in 1981 to little fanfare (though strangely I do recall Smash Hits raving about it!) & rebooted the following year by Cherry Red. I suppose it's fair to say that Marine Girls played a pivotal role in the emergence of the bloodcurdling "Twee" scene but, as their contribution is wholly inadvertent, I'm happy to forgive them. For further reading, check this excellent Marine Girls retrospective interview, c/o the sadly defunct Plan B magazine, & the short piece by Tracey Thorn here... Pass the Oxy-Gum.

17.5.10

D'MARC CANTU : MLK Liveset 15th January 2010

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I'm really loving D'Marc Cantu's stuff at the moment, though sadly he hasn't released that much (under his own name at least), just 2007's single-sided, very limited No Control 12" (you'll find it on iTunes) & the current Another Number EP, both c/o Creme Organisation. Dubby, druggy & pointedly low tech, it's exactly the kind of minimalist dancefloor-directed electronica I wish Cabaret Voltaire had experimented with in the wake of 1983's The Crackdown (Micro-Phonies struck me as such a massive missed opportunity that I still find it depressing to listen to!). Cantu's Another Number 12" is peculiarly good - dominated by slippery acidic sequentials, a clattering drum machine, & what sounds like a very overworked Space Echo, it's 5 opaque productions veer gloriously close to visceral, Detroit-indebted perfection. It's "Hungry For People" is, without a doubt, one of my favourite techno tracks of the last few months (just so you know).

As his 2 official releases are both still easily obtainable, here's a link to a way too brief Cantu live mix from Jak-Nation instead (it's podcast #5, scroll down slightly & right click). Recorded on Martin Luther King's birthday (you'll understand why that's significant when you listen to it) &, crucially, a showcase for his own productions, it starts out pleasantly enough but, rest assured, shadows begin to gather as it progresses....
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1.5.10

MICK FARREN : Vampires Stole My Lunch Money (& Related MIsdemeanours), 1976-1979

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A slew of cracking late 70s entries from Baron Farren, self-facilitating late 60s counter culture media node & savvy off-his-trolley gobshite - ex-International Times, ex-Deviants, ex-White Panthers, ex-Nasty Tales, ex-New Musical Express (see "The Titanic Sails At Dawn"), Phun City founder, formidable novelist (20+ at the last count) & prolific biographer (including 4 on Elvis Presley), proto-punk catalyst & rampant self-promoter. His anarchic, drug-sodden, subversive Ladbroke Grove exploits remain (quite rightly) legendary, & his recollections of those insane times, collected in Only Anarchists Are Pretty, are an indispensable read. The minutiae of his personal history is so spectacularly labyrinthine that even an abridged precis would have you scrolling wearily through several dozen feet of cross-eyed blogroll, but this Your Flesh profile is a good place to start. As is his personal blog, Doc 40.
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Post-Deviants, & reignited by the emergent London punk scene, Farren's rough & ready Screwed Up E.P. appeared on Stiff in 1977 (yellow vinyl, naturally). It was his first full-on release since the 60's ground to a such a messy halt & inconclusive halt, 1976's tentative (but nonetheless great) "Play With Fire" 45 (on Ork) notwithstanding. For the uninitiated, Screwed Up includes a re-recorded "Let's Loot The Supermarket" that leaves The Deviants' original (from Disposable) coughing up hairballs. Vampires Stole My Lunch Money followed a year later on Logo & is a gutter-surfing, nihilist masterpiece, a bawdy celebration of Farren's self-destructive social life, all told. It's certainly the Farren record I listen to most & is, in places, as ferocious & primordial as anything The Deviants scrawled their name across (but then, all of this stuff is). Shamefully, Vampires... has only been reissued once to my knowledge, as a scarce & expensive Captain Trip CD in 1998. The stellar backing band includes Larry Wallis, Wilko Johnson (on amazing form), Chrissie Hynde & (Curved Air's) Sonja Kristen, & the entire album - not quite punk, not quite heavy metal, but totally "fuck you" - sounds as thoroughly pissed off, irreverent (& relevant) as it ever did, & it's frankly outrageous that it's been allowed to slip out of print. Musical fads may come & go, but this kind of searing, visionary spleen-venting never goes out of fashion - crucially, Farren understands that the simplest & most effective method of deconstruction is with a single, well-placed housebrick. 1979's non-LP "Broken Statue" 7" (Logo) brought his brief solo tenure to an end, a Deviants' regrouping already in his crosshairs. It is, needless to say, borderline barmy, successfully marrying Beefheart, early Dr. Feelgood & Lester Bangs into a malicious, mangled boogie. Perhaps I'm hyperventilating over nothing more than above-average pub rock, Farren & co. certainly spent a lot of time in pubs afterall, but there's no denying that there's a deeper, dissolute honesty & anger present here that's absent in so much current music, rock or otherwise. If you're voting on 6th May but consider the current options utterly toe curling, perhaps make a point of spoiling your ballot paper with a big, ugly "FARREN!" instead?
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N.B. I've withdrawn the Vampires... link as the entire LP is now readily available on CD. Gratitude, etc: Short Sharp Kick In The Teeth, La Casa De Tocamela Rouge, & Sons Of The Dolls, purveyors of superior linkage.