The last (and first since before the band was called Rachel Unthank and the Winterset) LP by the Unthanks is without a doubt a high point for those who love great music, even if not fond of folk. I could not imagine such a magnificent album was possible today. I pessimistically thought that such a delicate approach of music belonged to the past, to the golden years of English folk (the sixties and the seventies, from Sandy Denny to Mandy Morton). But heaven not, this is still possible and Rachel and her sister show us that it is. The lyrics are quite sinister and the general atmosphere quite oppressing, all that we like. The Here's The Tender Coming LP should be bought by anyone of you but in case you are not convinced, here a fake EP I imagined. In fact, the eponymous title is not my fave but the band played it on the Jools Holland show (see it here, it is magic) so if a single should be released from the album, there are chances it will be this one. However, on the B-side, I would like to see almost 2 of the 3 of my favorites songs from the album. There is the moving "Sad February" that you can listen on my D(k)oom compilation here, and the 2 following ones: "Lucky Gilchrist" (wrongly spelled on the verso cover of my DIM sleeve but it's too long to take it back), one of the rare self-penned song of the LP and which has a CSNY flavor and a final that is purely genius, and "At First She Starts", a wonderfull cover of the wonderfull Lal Waterson's original (that you can listen here) but very different. The original one was not far from Melanie and this one from Robert Wyatt or Nico. Both break our heart. For the sleeve, I chose a Thomas Withcombe painting since the tender has nothing to do with the tenderness as I thought first but with the boat who came to take the young men to dispatch them next in various ships going to fight the French during the perpetual wars our 2 countries did at these times. Enjoy it here and don't forget to get the album. Just a thing more: the 2 tracks in streaming below are the ones I chose for the B-side, not Here's The Tender Coming". Unfortunately, I did not find the words for "Lucky Gilchrist".
Here's the tender coming. Here's the tender coming, pressing all the men; Oh dear hinny, what shall we do then? Here's the tender coming, off at Shield's Bar, Here's the tender coming, full of men of war. Hide thee, canny Geordie, hide thyself away; Hide thee till the tender makes for Druid's Bay. If they take thee, Geordie, who's to win our bread? Me and little Jackie better off be dead. Here's the tender coming, stealing off my dear; Oh dear hinny, they'l ship you out of here. They will ship you foreign, that is what it means; Here's the tender coming, full of red marines. Hey, bonny lassie. let's go to the Lawe, See the tender lying, off at Shield's Bar, With her colours flying, anchor at her bow. They took my bonny laddie, best of all the crew
At First She Starts. First she starts and then she's startled. I see that light in her eyes Didn't you realise you were a bird, At dawn when you woke with air in your throat. So far doe-ray-me Sing to me loudly, Serenade me,Mess with the melody. Light and shadeAll my eyes can see.Oh but you are the phrase at the end of the bar, a long and high refrain. Hanging around for the choir to strike sound, So's you can holler your joy and your pain.
Among the large amount of singles from the punk era (I'll say 1977-79), the first one by this american man-band was one of the best and most fascinating. Honestly, I was sure that Skafish would become a star, at least that he would do a real and long career. Musically and visually, he had all that was needed to take a place in the music history. Something like a missing link between Zappa/Rundgren/Alice Cooper/Alex Harvey and Marilyn Manson/The Cars/The Liars. But that turned wrong. It is true that he failed to fullfill our hopes with his first album (and it must be specified that the 2 album versions of the songs from this first 7" are quite different and not as good). Over was the salvage and transgressive approach of music, the LP was weak and some songs rather embarassing. But here, in 1979 (in fact it is the formation of 1978 who recorded it), we have an undying classic that has never been obsolete since it was released and that I can always listen with the same excitement and thrill that when I bought it. It's not the case for all the singles from this period, lots of them being dear for me for personal reasons (because I was young most often). The B-side is also excellent and provides an insight in the more Zappaesque (but still punk) aspect of the band. It seems that Skafish came back in the music world and here is his blog and here the Skafish site. Enjoy this first great single here (rather honest rip from my own vinyl single).
You can find a clip from the song here (this is made of archives of the band from various eras but a nice illustration actually)
Don't ask me what is the forgotten song of this post, there's none, except maybe that "Witching Stone" is for me an absolute classic that should be the biggest hit of the year and I doubt it will be. It's rare I'm so sure that a song is such a standard but here I am. Few are the albums I've listened so often in so little time than Six, and I did not know this band before so nothing to do with a fan attitude. Moreover, this Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits and Nick Cave filiation is not my usual glassubeer but honestly, I'm sure that none of these great ancestors would have been able to compose such a wonderfull and varied collection of songs, with this morbid flavor and this dereliction that the BHP exhales over the whole LP. Buy it. For now, no other song that Witching Stone seems to be more appropriate for this blog so here it is. And don't forget to look at the video illustrating the song. It's a great one. You can see it here.
In a perfect world, Simon Finn would be a respected artist, one of the few able to turn the misery of our human condition in words and music. But the planet has much better to do, for example to wonder whether the n Neil Young is better than the n-1 one, or whether Bob Dylan will concede some of his precious time to record a decent album. So, to imagine that a single could be released from the new Simon Finn is surrealistic. I don't care, I've done it. I've made my subjective choice (a pleonasm actually) among the 14 songs and considered that "Zoo" could be an A-side of a French single since there is something of the tradition of what we call here "la chanson Française" in this song (if Simon Finn reads me, he'll understand since he talks a bit French). The B-side would be my fave song of the album (after all, this is me the boss in this virtual affair), "Party Lines". The sleeve may seem a little mysterious for you but here's the story. Actually, I had the privilege to show the house of Gustave Moreau, the symbolist painter, to Simon Finn some days ago, during the week he spent in Paris between his concert in Gennevilliers and his next in Lille. He seemed to appreciate what he saw, and since he showed me one painting he told me was his preferred one. I was quite surprised since it's not a typical Moreau's one but I thought it would be a nice hommage for this fine souvenir to take it as the cover of this fake single. It represents the sirens, not quite the same as a zoo, but after all, the zoo Simon is talking about is linked to the relationship with women, so it is much more appropriate that it would seem at first. Enjoy here but then please buy the Rats Laugh Mice Sing album, and also the masterpiece he released 2 years ago and called Accidental Life. Exceptionnally, I decided to put both songs on streaming below.
Zoo. All of these years that I was with you I felt like I lived in a zoo. Caged and contained and though it seems very strange, it was I that fed you. Oh days come and go, in this land of so-so, are our numbers now many or few? So in the pit of the night, in this place of unlight, if you should find yourself feeling blue, knit your toes into knots, think of millions of dots, and pretend you have friends in the zoo. Daytime, nightime, flay time, night crime, in my slight line. So if life seems somewhat sparse, here on the perimeter's arse, just remember, don't cause a to-do. For it's just vibrational forms, that trouble our dorms, over time you'll adapt to the zoo. Whatever you try, best pay no attention to cries, or wolves with sad eyes, or pacing cats with so little to lose. No, don't trouble yourself by life abusing itself, it's quite normal here in the zoo.
My fave song on the great Lil' Beethoven album... is a bonus track on the Deluxe Edition. It's called "Wunderbar" and it is not sung by Russell Mael (and not sung at all actually) but taken from a certain Gunter Koch, a German radio football commentator. Apparently, this song could be only anecdotical, but, as often with Ron Mael, it becomes impressive and somewhat "inquiétante" (take a dictionary, I can't find a better word in English). Yes this piece of strangeness is addictive even in its ability to distillate a poisoning atmosphere due to the music, not so funny and giving to this song a kind of military flavor reminding the dark hours of German history. It would have magnificiently fitted in a Cabaret style film. Maybe one future day. The 2 other bonus tracks (on the virtual B-side) are fine too. One is a kind of explanation of the Lil' Beethoven concept by a talking and not singing Russell Mael. The last one is an instrumental version of "The Rhythm Thief" and it's a delight. I truly like Russell's voice, but the instrumentals Ron create can stand by their own. Honestly this man is a genius, even if in the past, he often lost the touch, Sparks being for example quite embarassing to hear in the nineteies. But these dark times are over now, and with Lil' Beethoven they became again the great band they had been long ago. For the sleeve, I chose a fantastic series of pictures of young asian girls in underwear playing football in the mud. It is, Sparks fans will admit, exactly in line with a Sparks imagery. Unfortunately, although these pictures are easy to find on the web, none credit the photograph and since I don't speak Korean (I'd say these girls are Koreans but nothing sure) I can't give the credits I would have liked to find. I post this one as Sparks are releasing their 22th album, based around Ingmar Bergman, and I hope this will add another gem to their long career. Enjoy here.
This is the 6th single by Alternative TV and, after 5 ones belonging clearly to punk-reggae area, this is the one that marked the divorce of Mark Perry with this movement. Similarly to Johnny "Rotten" Lydon, Mark "P" Perry decided to leave rock to Clash and 999, new wave to Wire and XTC, pop to the Buzzcocks and to look for something else. On the back of the sleeve, one can read "atv memorial single", and actually, there'll be no 7" released by Mark Perry under this name until the first reformation in 1981 with Alex Fergusson. To separate all his new stuff from ATV, he'll change the name in Good Missionaries at the end of the year, and with Dennis Burns, he'll try a really extreme approach of music, most of us found too difficult to follow at the times, and still not palatable enough today to be appreciated. This is not the case with this single, because "The Force Is Blind" manages to conciliate real experimentation with pleasant hearing (not for everybody I'll concede). There are not so many of song achieving that, and this strange piece of music never ceased to fascinate me over its issue, 30 years ago. This sounds as fresh (or rotten) today as it was then. The text (written on the cover but that I've rewritten below) seems to describe a police intervention during a punk meeting, but I'm not sure. The B-side ("Lost In Room") belongs to the classic Alternative TV style, with a riff repeated ad libitum, and Mark Perry, in a sort of maniac Peter Hammill or Kevin Coyne way, claiming his feeling of despair and madness with his idiosyncrasic spelling and voice. Both were recorded live but it's not so evident when listening to it. Once again, to tell you to enjoy it is maybe not so much appropriate but however, it's here.
The Force is Blind. Kiddies giggling playing with their toys. “Let’s play drummers make a lot of noise”. The thap’s running and they’re doing fine. The kids have energy and lots of time. Death defying moments of art against time. Kat’s had a vision just like mine. All this attention is strangling me. But the food’s hot and admission is free ! They came and stopped the fun. They stood us against the wall. They put handcuffs on the innocence. THE FORCE MUST BE BLIND ! THE FORCE MUST BE BLIND !
And now two very rare songs by the great Bastards. They were both released on two 7"EP compilations edited by the Treehouse label under the common name of Scumbait. To my knowledge, none of them feature on any CD, but maybe I'm wrong (don't hesitate to tell me). "Parade" is the oldest song recorded by the band and it's clear that the final Bastards style is not totally mature (what a strange word for such a band). There's a Husker Dü flavor that would disappear later on. More an historical document than a true lost gem (and the sound is really crappy). Not the same story for "Shuddup (You Like 'Dat)", one that was forgotten from the Monticello sessions and it's quite difficult to understand why. This a fantastic piece of Bastards meatsound. The sleeve is a DIM one. Don't know why this picture makes me think to the Bastards approach of music, but so it is. Some among you would have preferred me to put the whole EPs online for dl. I've hesitated but my aim is to treat bands individually and I stick to this initial idea. Since I'm an Unsane and Drunks with Guns amateur, be sure that these songs will be on this blog one day or another. Meanwhile, enjoy these rarities on the compilation here.
Another doom founding members, the quartet Asbestosdeath will become the trio Sleep after this second single (the first being Unclean). With Fu-Manchu and EyeHateGod, Asbestosdeath will edict the rules of the sludge approach of doom. Rising from the Black Sabbath muddy riff side (more the 1st LP than the further ones), they created a true musical equivalent to the disgust that overflows us when looking at this unholy mess that they call the world. Dejection is a good title. This is both vomiting and shiting our inside out. Contrary to the historical legend that uses to localize the sludge birthplace in Louisiana, this comes from San Francisco. Actually, the band was from San Jose in California, but it's a funny symbol of what the world has turned in, to see that the flower power craddle was 30 years later such a dirty coffin. What's great in this single, it's that both "Nail" and "Scourge" did not become historical document without much musical relevance, but are still as seminal now that they were almost 20 years ago (oops, so long?). I would like that more bands take this angle of attack of doom today. But don't be nostalgic. After some uncompromising achievement, Sleep disbanded and gave birth to 2 very different bands: High on Fire with Matt Pike (a kind of doomster Motorhead) and Om with Al Cisneros and Chris Hakius (Black Sabbath goes mystics without Tony Iommi). None of these 2 bands really touch as much as Asbestosdeath and Sleep did, but this is not the place to talk about it. This single has been DCfied on an EP with the Unclean 7", but as usual, I like to have it the way I bought at the time. Dear "saprophages", enjoy the dejection here.
Not enough doom on this blog, that's what I was thinking this evening looking at it. Doom is the music I listen to most of the times. I must say that I began to listen to doom (and sludge) as soon as the "genre" was born (around 1989). This is not a reason to believe that I got better judgement about what is a good and a bad doom band, but I can sure tell what I consider to be a band I respect and a band I despise. And the US Sea of Bones belong to the former category. This LP, was released in 2007 but I only discovered it some weeks ago on a blog (sorry I forgot which one) and it was immediately one of my fave records. Some say that it sounds like the French Monarch but I don't find this is true. It's a perfect mix between the post-Neuro(I)isis school and the more sludgy approach that I find so tasteful in bands like the French Eibon and the German Omega Massif. Yob and Buried at Sea can be cited but in fact I find Sea of Bones more sapid that these bands. The "Chapter IV" that opens this 3 songs LP (and that I've included in my first d(k)oom compilation here) is in particular a kind of masterpiece, a war climax reigns on it with a sense of danger that is the great achievement of this style of music, next to which all the rest sounds often so bleak and weak (not everything but so much, in particular this pathetic old school post-Zeppelin style wrapped in Stoner suits or, worst, in the stinky Rock attitude). The fact is that this record is great, that's all, and that the 3 chapters are instant classics. Doom may have seemed to be a musical cul-de-sac at its birth since the codes could have made inovation quite difficult. It was, and it still is not the case. Each month a great doom record is released (recently the Manatees and Flood) and I surely must miss some other ones. Don't hesitate to go to the Sea of Bones myspace here. The album is free to download on their site, which is great, but I hope this band will publish CDs and sell them by millions soon (you may say I'm a dreamer....). Enjoy it here.
This is the first single Joachim Breuer released. At this time he was the leader of the Bastards. "Who Cares" is emblematic of his particular approach of guitar and more generally of rock. Something rude, raw, rough, anything with "r" at the beginning and something hard at the end. It's muddy, sludgy, it is not smelling good but strangely there's something elegant in all this mud. Later, I'll post several Drunks with Guns songs, and here, there's nothing elegant. The B-side (but there's no really A and B sides actually) is quite in the same vein, but the title will stick to the band and honestly, it's one of the best song title I know, one who summarizes the metaphor coming to thought at the end of some tiring day where everybody seemed to take your head for their toilet bowl. There will be 2 more singles before Joachim Breuer stop the Bastards for Janitor Joe. All quite difficult to find but gathered on a LEP (long EP) released by Glitterhouse with the Fall sounding title of You didn' give a damn about the exploding man because you killed him (sic). Later, some CD versions of Monticello had this complete LEP as bonus tracks. But, you know the philosophy here, it's better to listen to songs in the context of their initial release. This is it. Enjoy on the compilation here.
Do I need to present the great Kim Fowley? I don't think so. His first real album was in 1968 the outrageous Outrageous LP, a devil of a disk, mad as few can be, wild and still unmatched to this day. From this essential LP was drawn this single. I own a specimen but I don't remember how I got it (in 1968 I was too young to buy it so I must have found it much later but where, I don't know) but I must say I am really glad to have it with me. Moreover, the song of the A-side should have been a hit since it had all the qualities of a standard. But the times were not ready for it. All they could tolerate was provocation from poets like Jim Morrison, not from someone so "sulfurous" than Kim Fowley. In 1985, Sonic Youth covered this song and proposed a great version of it. It would have been a better idea to back Kim than Iggy Pop but it was not their choice. On the B-side, "Wildfire" represents the other style that one can find on Outrageous, the experimental one, a kind of "Antonin Artaud makes rock music" approach that is as vivid today that it was at this time. Because, this music is, like Beefheart's one, still contemporary and has aged more than well. There is actually not many able to propose something as exciting than this today (but there are exceptions of course, and I don't know everything). I'll post many more Kim Fowley records and forgotten songs on this blog because his vast discography has been shamely very badly released on CD and not always easy to find on existing blogs. My single is only wrapped in paper so I did one of my DIY cover. This is a picture from the Outrageous LP, a really provocative one. See by yourself. After Alex in Hitler, you might have understood where my heart is when we talk about rock imagery. Enjoy the sound of Kim here.
I feel the need to publish a compilation of songs that could be affiliated to the doom style. There is no real explanation to do it here but this is the music that I listen the most to, and I want to share it with the few ones who take a look on this blog. Maybe they will find their happyn... sadness, in this 6 songs compilation. On the first side is doom as most describe it and on the second one, doom mood songs from 3 magnificent LPs I can't stop playing again and again (in particular the Rose Kemp one). Let's say that Black Heart Procession is a mix of Velvet and country doom whilst Rose Kemp and Unthanks are more folky doomish. These 3 songs are for me real masterpieces. On side 1, the Yob piece is from their last LP and is one of the most frightening piece of music I've heard in my life. Even Khanate is less "lugubrious". Unfortunately, the rest of the LP is weaker but still an excellent one. Sea Of Bones is a revelation for me and stands as the best sludgy doom band with the French Eibon and the German Omega Massif. But maybe I miss some other ones, I can't listen to everything, I got a work to live. This "Chapter IV" got all I love in doom. Last, in sandwich between Sea of Bones and Yob, a band called Ever Circling Wolves that I discovered in the Swamp compilation of the fantastic Doomed to be stoned in a sludge swamp blog. They are Finnish and the sound of the guitar reminds me the monstruous Entombed. This is the only track of this compilation (sorry for mispelling the name of the track, it's "Alone, Into The Silence of Ice") immediately found my own taste of shit (or of piss, it's up to you). A great achievement. For the DIY sleeve, I chose a photograph by Roberto Kusterle. His work is a perfect equivalent of doom music and must be explored by those who like these atmospheres. Let's have a look. I had to chose one song for the streaming hearing. It was impossible so I decided to put the one by the Unthanks. Don't ask me why, I dunno. For the next post, back to the old forgotten vinyl songs. But today is Sunday Doomy Sunday for everybody. So tear it here.
Tony McPhee is another great composer too often forgotten in the various rock anthologies, maybe because he was first known as a sort of English Hendrix, but he was not. It would be too long to describe his strange evolution during the 70's, but let's only say that he created the one and only example of a progressive blues style, although this definition seems too narrow for such a man. The most important was that, like Peter Hammill, Alex Harvey or Kevin Coyne, and contrary to most of the English blues rock heroes, he managed to have an intimate approach of the music, able to talk about very personal feelings and experiences shared by most humans using their cortical complexity and analyzing their condition and their environment. Here, we find him in 1974 in a very very depressed mood. The Solid album is quite a masterpiece but honestly it is not an easy album. One of the most unconfortable to hear in the history. It seems your head is maintained under water during the whole LP. The music here has no equivalent, nothing comparable to it. It is the Groundhogs in their complete singularity. This depressed album was not a commercial failure at all, reaching n°31 in the UK, the best place since Split 3 years earlier. Two singles were drawn from the album. Here is the first one, again with a self-made cover because there was not anyone when it was released. I chose a superb photograph from Antoine d'Agata (I think it's from him). It is an anachronism since he's born in 1961 but however, it is a great picture for the lyrics and the music of this song, a real gem that certainly could not have been a hit, but the melody is really first class to my ears. The B-side was not on the Solid album although in the late reeditions of the LP, it was added as bonus track. But I like to ear songs in their original context and most often, I stop Solid after "Joker's Grave", the last song on the original album, a closing song that was not conceived to be followed by anything else than silence and a kind of internal frightening. So, here they are both in their single contexts.
An advice. Listen to the song reading the lyrics.