prowling the psychoness with Demented Are Go!

ROCKABILLY IS GETTING OLD, GOING ON 60 YEARS NOW.  DESPITE ITS AGE, IT HAS SOMEHOW REMAINED POPULAR ‘UNDERGROUND’ MUSIC FOR DECADES (with the exception of The Stray Cats cracking the top 40 in the 80’S), MANAGING TO CREATE NEW LEGIONS OF FANS EVERY GENERATION.   NOT THAT THIS HAS BEEN A STATIC JOURNEY.  ROCKABILLY HAS MANAGED TO RETAIN CERTAIN UNCHANGING QUALITIES WHILE UNDERGOING MANY SUBTLE TRANSFORMATIONS.

OR SOMETIMES NOT SO SUBTLE, AS IN THE CASE OF PSYCHOBILLY: THE INSPIRED INTEGRATION OF PUNK ROCKS’ SPEED, VOLUME AND ATTITUDE INTO SOME OF THE CONVENTIONAL SOUNDS AND INSTRUMENTATION OF ROCKABILLY.

IN ANY MEDIUM OF ART, THERE ARE INNOVATORS AND IMITATORS.  ONE COULD SAY THIS APPLIES ESPECIALLY TO ROCKABILLY/PSYCHOBILLY, WHERE THE INNOVATORS ARE FEW AND THE IMITATORS FAMOUS.  BUT EVERY SO OFTEN THERE ARE THOSE FOLKS THAT CARVE THEIR OWN DISTINCT MARK INTO THE LONG (AND SOMETIMES RIGID) TRADITION OF ROCKABILLY;  HASIL ADKINS WAS DOING HIS OWN WARPED VERSION STARTING IN THE LATE 1950’S, THE CRAMPS LAUNCHED THEIR NEW SOUND IN THE 1970’S AND THE 1980’S SAW A PSYCHOBILLY REVOLUTION COMING OUT OF THE U.K..

DEMENTED ARE GO! WERE A TRULY UNIQUE AND HILARIOUS PART OF THE FIRST-WAVE OF BRITISH PSYCHOBILLY,  ADDING FANGORIA-MAGAZINE-STYLE STAGE MAKE-UP, AMPED-UP GUITARS AND ABSURDLY TWISTED SONG LYRICS TO THEIR APPROACH.   [THE GUANA BATS ARE ALSO WORTH MENTIONING HERE – FUNNY, FAST & FURIOUS AT TIMES –  BUT THEY DIDN’T STRAY QUITE AS FAR AWAY FROM THE TRAD ROOTS OF ROCKABILLY AS DID DEMENTED ARE GO.]

DEMENTED’S 1988 ALBUM KICKED OUT OF HELL MIGHT BE CONSIDERED BY SOME (including us) TO BE A CLASSIC PSYCHOBILLY ALBUM OF THE DECADE .  THE RHYTHM SECTION IS RELENTLESS, WITH THUNDEROUS DRUM SOUNDS AND AN AMPHETAMINE-DRIVEN SLAP BASS.  THE GUITARS VACILLATE BETWEEN ROCKABILLY TWANG AND METAL DISTORTION……… AND THEN THERE ARE THE VOCALS.  SPARKY SOUNDS AS IF HE’S A BATTERY-ACID GARGLING DEMON CROONING OUT TWISTED MOUNTAIN BALLADS, BELTING OUT SUCH TENDER NUMBERS AS “SATAN’S REJECTS”, “CRIPPLE IN THE WOODS”, “HUMAN SLUG” AND “DECOMPOSITION”.

IS THIS MUSIC ROCKET SCIENCE?  NO.  IS IT SILLY OR ABSURD?  SURE, AT TIMES.  BUT THAT DOESN’T PRECLUDE IT FROM KICKING ASS!!   KICKED OUT OF HELL IS CERTAINLY NOT TO BE ‘TAKEN TOO SERIOUSLY’, BUT ALWAYS WORTH THE LISTEN.


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die wunderbare Klänge von Deutschland

THE DOLLAR-BINS OF THE WORLD ARE FILLED WITH MANY, MANY RECORDS.  SOME OF WHICH ARE PROBABLY THERE FOR A GOOD REASON: THEY’RE NOT REALLY THAT GOOD.  OTHERS HAVE BEEN WRONGFULLY RELEGATED TO AN UNKIND FATE, LANGUISHING IN DARK OBSCURITY WITH LITTLE HOPE OF GRACING THE MODERN TURNTABLE.

WE’VE TAKEN MANY OF THESE ALBUMS HOME OVER THE YEARS WITH HIGH EXPECTATIONS, ONLY TO HAVE OUR ENTHUSIASM SQUASHED BY SOME TRULY MEDIOCRE, IF NOT POOR, RECORDS.  HAPPILY THOUGH, YOU OCCASIONALLY GET LUCKY AND FIND A JEWEL AMIDST THE JUNK –  MUSICAL SCRAPBOOK OF GERMANY vol. 1 IS ONE OF THOSE GEMS.

CAVEAT: WE LIKE TRADITIONAL GERMAN MUSIC.  BUT, WE HAVE RESCUED SOME FAIRLY AWFUL RECORDINGS OF BEER-HALL SONGS AND TRADITIONAL HUNTING SONGS.  WE’VE ALSO FALLEN PREY TO COVERS FEATURING SOME LOVELY Fräulein PRESENTING MUGS OF BEER OR FLOATING IN ALPINE VISTAS, ONLY TO FIND THE RECORDINGS WITHIN TO BE LACKLUSTER.

MUSICAL SCRAPBOOK OF GERMANY vol. 1 HAS A NUMBER OF THINGS GOING FOR IT.  IT CONTAINS SOME VERY FAMOUS SONGS (WHICH MANY WOULD RECOGNIZE EVEN IF THEY THINK THEY KNOW NOTHING OF GERMAN MUSIC) THAT ARE CROWD-PLEASERS FOR SURE.  YET THE QUALITY OF BOTH THE RECORDINGS AND THE PERFORMANCES ARE WHAT PUT THIS DISC ABOVE MOST OTHERS (it is on the TELEFUNKEN label after all).  THE TONE IS CRISP BUT DYNAMIC, THE VOICES ARE (mostly) REALLY GREAT, AND THE ACCORDION SOUNDS ARE AMAZING (SOMEONE NEEDS TO TEACH ME THE ENGINEERING TRICK).  THE HORNS HAVE THAT WONDERFUL REVERB PRESENCE, LIKE THEY’RE PLAYING AT THE OTHER END OF A VAST BEERHALL FROM THE MICS.

SO IF YOU HAPPEN TO SEE MUSICAL SCRAPBOOK OF GERMANY vol. 1 DISCARDED IN A DOLLAR BIN NEAR YOU AND YOU JUST NEED TO DON YOUR LEDERHOSEN AND HEAR ‘In München Steht Ein Hofbräuhaus’, DON’T BE AFRAID TO BRING IT HOME.  IF NOTHING ELSE IT ALSO PROVIDES AN AMUSING WAY TO WAKE UP YOUR HUNGOVER ROOM MATES [ALBERT].

Pharaoh Overlord is there for you

PHARAOH OVERLORD.  THE NAME MIGHT NOT RING TOO MANY BELLS.  A PART OF THE SELF-PROCLAIMED “NEW WAVE OF FINNISH HEAVY METAL” RELEASED BY THE EKTRO LABEL OUT OF PORI, FINLAND, P.O. IS NOT HEAVY METAL.  THEIR FIRST ALBUM ‘1’,  FROM 2001, IS STONER-ROCK BLISS.  REPETITIVE, FUZZED OUT, MINIMALIST INSTRUMENTAL ROCK…

….AND SOMETIMES YOU JUST WANT TO HEAR BIG SLABS OF ROCK’N’ROLL. 

P.O. DOES THIS WELL,  BUT DON’T EXPECT ANY COCK-ROCK, SPEED-METAL OR SCREAMING VOCALS FROM THIS ALBUM.  1 SPECIALIZES IN THE SLOW BUILD.  THE TYPE OF LONG, METHODICAL SOUND CONSTRUCTIONS THAT REALLY PULL THE LISTENER IN.  THE SONGS ON 1 ARE HYPNOTIC AND GROOVE HEAVY, STRIPPED DOWN TO JUST THE STANDARD TRIO OF GUITAR, BASS AND DRUMS.  ANOTHER (RATHER KICK-ASS) INTERPRETATION OF SPACE OR KRAUT-ROCK.

WE’RE NOT GOING TO BOTHER WITH THE USUAL TRICK OF COMPARING THEM TO OTHER BANDS, OR EVEN WITH COMPARING THIS RECORD TO ANY OF THEIR OTHERS (WHICH ARE ALL QUITE DIFFERENT).  WE’RE JUST GOING TO RECOMMEND CHECKING IT OUT IF YOU’RE IN THE MOOD FOR SOME TRANCE INDUCING ROCK.

                     http://grooveshark.com/#/album/+number+1/3956502

the timeless space of Windy & Carl

GIVEN THE BENEFIT OF HINDSIGHT, IT’S EASY TO LOOK BACK NOW AND SEE HOW INVENTIVE THE 1990’S WERE MUSICALLY.  DESPITE OUR PREFERENCES AMONGST THE VARIOUS  STYLES,  THE DECADE GAVE US TRIP-HOP, GRUNGE, IDM/DRUM & BASS, BRITPOP, SHOEGAZE, A NEW GENERATION OF ‘ALT-COUNTRY’, NU METAL AND………’POST-ROCK’.  THOUGH WE’RE LOATH TO USE THE TERM, ‘POST-ROCK’* BREATHED NEW LIFE INTO THE EXPERIMENTAL MUSIC STARTED BY THE ‘KRAUTROCK’ GENERATION OF THE 1970’S, ONCE AGAIN TESTING THE IDEAS OF WHAT A BAND WITH CONVENTIONAL ‘ROCK INSTRUMENTATION’ COULD DO.                                                         * [perhaps we could just call it “drift”?]

MOST LIKELY WE’LL RETURN TO THE SUBJECT AGAIN IN FUTURE POSTS AS THERE ARE QUITE A FEW BANDS (MANY ON THE CHICAGO-BASED KRANKY LABEL) WE FEEL HAD A SOLID CULT-FOLLOWING THAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN MORE WIDELY RECOGNIZED.  A FEW BANDS THAT HAVE BEEN (questionably we might add) LUMPED INTO THE GENRE; LABRADFORD, STARS OF THE LID, AMP, THIRD EYE FOUNDATION, HOOD, FLYING SAUCER ATTACK, ROTHKO, BOWERY ELECTRIC, MANUAL, DISCO INFERNO, WINDSOR FOR THE DERBY, AUBURN LULL, CUL DE SAC, BARK PSYCHOSIS AND WINDY & CARL.

WINDY &  CARL ARE A HUSBAND AND WIFE DUO FROM MICHIGAN THAT STILL PERFORM LOVELY WASHES OF SOUND TODAY‘FORMED’ IN 1993, THEY’VE RELEASED OVER 10 ALBUMS IN THE PAST 18 YEARS.  ONE OF OUR ENDURING FAVORITES IS THE 1997 ALBUM ANTARCTICA.  PART OF THE DARLA RECORDS “BLISS OUT” SERIES,  ANTARCTICA IS A TIMELESS EXAMPLE OF BEAUTIFUL AMBIENT SOUND.  IN THREE TRACKS SPANNING 40 MINUTES, WINDY & CARL SKILLFULLY CRAFT SURPRISINGLY FULL, MINIMALIST SONGS UTILIZING VERY SPARSE INSTRUMENTATION.  WAVES OF SHIMMERING GUITAR, BASS AND QUIET LOOPS BUILD AN ARRAY OF WARM DRONES AND SPACIOUS MELODIES THAT NEVER FEEL COLD OR DISTANT.  PERHAPS MORE LIKE A WARM BATH, OR A SOUNDTRACK FOR REMOTE VIEWING.

CHECK OUT ANTARCTICA, SEE IF ITS POWER TO LULL WORKS ON YOU.  AND IF YOU FIND YOURSELF NEAR DEARBORN MICHIGAN, STOP BY THEIR RECORD SHOP ‘STORMY RECORDS’.

CURVE….the darker side of shoegaze?

“SHOEGAZE” IS OVER TWENTY YEARS OLD NOW (DOES THAT MAKE IT ‘CLASSIC ROCK’?).  IT HAS BEEN CONTINUING A STEADY INFLUENCE OVER THE YEARS ON NEW BANDS, WHILE RE-ISSUES OF ‘CLASSIC’ SHOEGAZE ALBUMS ARE STARTING TO EMERGE.

EXACTLY WHAT, OR WHO, IS SHOEGAZE IS A WIDELY DEBATED TOPIC, THOUGH POP HISTORY HAS CHOSEN CERTAIN BANDS AS EXAMPLES OF THE TIME AND PLACE IN (mostly) BRITISH MUSIC TO TYPIFY THE SOUND.  RIDE, SLOWDIVE AND MY BLOODY VALENTINE ARE WIDELY CITED, THOUGH CHAPTERHOUSE, THE HOUSE OF LOVE, THE ECSTASY OF ST THERESA, KITCHENS OF DISTINCTION AND CURVE AREN’T USUALLY TOPPING MANY LISTS.

WE SUPPOSE SHOEGAZE IS A SOMEWHAT SUBJECTIVE (AND GOOFY) TERM TO BEGIN WITH, AND MOST LIKELY NOT EVEN THE MOST APPROPRIATE FOR A BAND LIKE CURVE.  CURVE DIDN’T REALLY SHARE THE SAME DREAMY, SOFT-EDGED WALL-OF-SOUND APPROACH AS A NUMBER OF THEIR CONTEMPORARIES.  THEY HAD MORE OF A KNIVES-OUT ATTITUDE THAT WAS SOMEHOW AGGRESSIVE YET…..SEXY?  A BIT MORE MENACE THAN MELANCHOLY?  THE VOICE OF TONI HOLIDAY COULD SOOTH LIKE A LOVER THEN TURN LIKE A LOVER JILTED.  THE MIX OF LIVE AND SEQUENCED DRUMS HIT YOU HARD IN THE FACE WITH DEAN GARCIA’S BASS LINES DRIVING AND SNAKING THE RHYTHMS FORWARD.  THE GUITARS MIGHT DRAW THE MOST COMPARISONS TO OTHER SHOEGAZE ACTS (AH, THE DUELING FENDER JAGUARS!), BUT THERE IS A SUSTAINED SHARPNESS IN SOUND AND ATTACK WITH THE GUITARS THAT OTHER BANDS ONLY TOUCHED IN DYNAMIC MOMENTS.

CURVE RELEASED TWO ALBUMS IN 1992.  THE DEBUT FULL-LENGTH ALBUM DOPPELGANGER AND PUBIC FRUIT, A REPACKAGING OF THEIR FIRST THREE E.P.S (FROM 1991) TOGETHER WITH THE SINGLE “FAIT ACCOMPLI”.   BOTH ARE FANTASTIC RECORDS DEMONSTRATING THE BAND AT THE HEIGHT OF THEIR POWERS, WORTH TRACKING DOWN IF YOU DON’T OWN THEM, OR RE-VISITING IF YOU DO.

WE (AND OTHERS AS WELL) FEEL THAT CURVE SHOULD HAVE BEEN HUGE.  THEY WERE DANCEABLE WITHOUT BEING CHEESEY, HAD CATCHY POP HOOKS IN THEIR SONGS WITH SOLID ARRANGEMENTS, A STRIKING LEAD SINGER WITH A GREAT VOICE AND WERE TALENTED MUSICIANS BOTH ON STAGE AND IN THE STUDIO.  CURVE CERTAINLY HAD THEIR FANS, BUT NEVER WIDE-REACHING SUCCESS, ESPECIALLY IN THE U.S. (YET WITHOUT THEM THERE WOULD BE NO GARBAGE, SCHOOL OF SEVEN BELLS, PAINS OF BEING PURE AT HEART, ETC.).    WE’LL LEAVE IT AT THAT, AND FOR YOU TO DECIDE……..

BB before ABBA

ABBA…….. WE KNOW VERY FEW PEOPLE THAT ARE INDIFFERENT TO THIS BAND.  THE VERY MENTION OF THE NAME USUALLY PROVOKES JOYOUS SMILES OR VENOMOUS RANTS.  AS MOST FOLKS KNOW WHO THEY WERE AND WHAT THEY DID,  WE’LL SPEAK NO MORE OF THE SWEDISH SUPER-GROUP.

BUT WE’VE LEARNED FEW PEOPLE KNOW ABOUT BJORN AND BENNY’S MUSICAL LIFE BEFORE THE WIVES JOINED IN.  THEIR DEBUT (and only) FULL-LENGTH RECORD IS THE 1970 RELEASE LYCKA.  AN AMALGAMATION OF POP AND FOLK STYLES, IT IS PROBABLY BEST DESCRIBED AS SWEDISH SIMON & GARFUNKEL.  THIS ISN’T A CRITICISM AT ALL, AS MOST OF THE SONGS ARE QUITE LOVELY AND WORK BEST IN THEIR NATIVE LANGUAGE.  LYCKA IS VERY MUCH A RECORD OF ITS TIME.  BROWN SHIRTS BEFORE SEQUINS,  THERE REALLY ISN’T ANY INDICATION OF THE DISCO-TINGED POP THAT WAS TO COME LATER.   THE CHARMING BEER-HALL-SOUNDING FOLK TUNE “HEJ, GAMLE MAN!” IS THE ONLY SONG ON THE RECORD WHERE BOTH THE WIVES APPEAR, AND ALSO THE FIRST RECORDING OF THE QUARTET BEFORE THE FORMATION OF ABBA.

FOR LISTENERS WHO ENJOY LATE 60’S/EARLY 70’S POP-FOLK, THIS RECORD MIGHT BE RIGHT UP YOUR ALLEY, DESPITE HOW YOU FEEL ABOUT “DANCING QUEEN”.

Durutti Column, the eternal underdog

VINI REILLY IS NOT REALLY A HOUSEHOLD NAME, DESPITE RELEASING OVER 37 ALBUMS UNDER THE DURUTTI COLUMN MONIKER  OVER THE PAST 31 YEARS, PLAYING GUITAR ON MORRISSEY’S DEBUT SOLO ALBUM AND BEING A PART OF THE ORIGINAL FACTORY RECORD LABEL.  THOUGH PERHAPS NOT ONE OF FACTORY’S MOST FAMOUS BANDS, THE DURUTTI COLUMN IS CERTAINLY ONE OF ITS’ MOST ORIGINAL, ENDEARING AND ENDURING.

FACTORY RECORDS HAS GARNERED A BIT OF ATTENTION OVER THE YEARS AS THE LABEL FOR SUCH NOTABLE U.K. BANDS AS JOY DIVISION, NEW ORDER AND THE HAPPY MONDAYS.  THE 2002 FILM ’24 HOUR PARTY PEOPLE’ CERTAINLY  HELPED REFRESH THE FACTORY NAME IN OLDER LISTENERS’ MINDS AND INTRODUCE IT TO A NEW GENERATION AS WELL.   THOUGH THE DURUTTI COLUMN RELEASED THEIR DEBUT ALBUM ON FACTORY IN 1980 (WITH SANDPAPER SLEEVES ASSEMBLED BY THE LADS IN JOY DIVISION NO LESS), THEY’VE NEVER QUITE ACHIEVED MORE THAN A CULT LEVEL OF STATUS ON THE WHOLE. 

WHY?  WELL, IT COULD BE THE “WRONG TIME, WRONG PLACE” PHENOM.  MORE LIKELY, IT MIGHT BE THAT THE DURUTTI COLUMN IS NOT FOR EVERYBODY (MOSTLY INSTRUMENTAL GUITAR PIECES AREN’T EVERYONE’S CUP OF TEA).  THE RELEASES ARE PARADOXICALLY CONSISTENT, YET ALL OVER THE PLACE STYLISTICALLY.  THE BACKING INSTRUMENTATION VARIES WILDLY FROM SONG TO SONG; FROM JUST SOLO GUITAR OR PIANO TO THE ADDITION OF VIOLA, DRUM MACHINES (OR LIVE DRUMS – USUALLY THE EXTRAORDINARY BRUCE MITCHEL), SYNTHESIZERS OR HORNS.  SO EVEN FOR SOMEWHAT DIE-HARD D.C. FANS SUCH AS OURSELVES, WE DON’T LIKE EVERYTHING THAT GETS RELEASED, OR MORE APPROPRIATELY PERHAPS, WE DON’T LIKE EVERY PIECE ON EVERY ALBUM.  WE APPRECIATE THE ARTISTIC ATTEMPTS MADE ( IT IS TERRIBLY EASY TO GET PIGEON-HOLED AS A MOSTLY-INSTRUMENTAL MUSICIAN) BUT NOT ALL THE RESULTS OF SUCH EXPERIMENTATIONS.  WE  SAY “MOSTLY” INSTRUMENTAL BECAUSE VINI DOES OCCASIONALLY SING, AND THOUGH SOME CRITICS HAVE MADE HARSH EVALUATIONS ON HIS VOCAL PROWESS, WE FIND HIS VOICE CHARMING AND HONEST.

IT IS HARD TO CHOOSE ONE ALBUM OUT OF SO MANY RELEASES, BUT TODAY WE’RE OFFERING UP THE 1989 ALBUM VINI REILLY AS A POTENTIAL FAVORITE (OR THE ONE THAT WE COME BACK TO THE MOST, CLOSELY FOLLOWED BY THE 1986 RELEASE CIRCUSES AND BREAD).  ON THE WHOLE THIS RECORD STANDS APART SONICALLY IN BEING THE RECORD WHERE THE D.C. DISCOVER THE JOY OF SAMPLERS…… AND WONDERFUL, ATMOSPHERIC SAMPLES THEY ARE, ADDING GRACIOUS OPERATIC VOCAL LINES TO HEART-WRENCHING PIECES.  VINI REILLY  IS ALSO PERHAPS THE MOST ACCESSABLE ALBUM FOR THOSE NOT FAMILIAR WITH D.C., BEING EMOTIVE MORE OFTEN THAN CHALLENGING.  IT IS GENUINELY ARTISTIC WITHOUT BEING PRECIOUS OR PRETENTIOUS.  AS VINI REILLY TOLD THE QUIETUS IN 2009 “All I’ve ever tried to do is be truthful”.  THE QUIET BEAUTY OF THIS ALBUM TRANSCENDS THE TIME AND PLACE OF ITS CREATION, CERTAINLY MAKING IT WORTH PULLING FROM THE AURAL DUSTBIN.


the summer sounds of…..Aphex Twin?

IT IS NATURAL FOR PEOPLE TO ASSOCIATE MUSIC WITH ANY NUMBER OF THINGS; FRIENDS, PLACES, RELATIONSHIPS, SEASONS…… BUT SOMETIMES THOSE ASSOCIATIONS CAN SURPRISE YOU.  TAKE SELECTED AMBIENT WORKS II BY APHEX TWIN FOR EXAMPLE, WHICH FOR SOME LISTENERS MIGHT REMIND THEM OF ALL SORTS OF VARIOUS EXPERIENCES – FOR US IT’S A SUMMER ALBUM.  NOT THAT THERE IS ANYTHING IN ITS’ MOOD, TONE OR COLOR  THAT SUGGESTS ‘SUMMER’ AT ALL, MOST PEOPLE MIGHT SITE THE ANTITHETICAL WINTER TO DESCRIBE THE FEELING OF THE RECORDS.  YET FOR US THERE IS THAT DIVINE STRANGENESS AT WORK IN OUR MINDS THAT LINKS SAWII AND THE VERY PARTICULAR SUMMER HEAT & HUMIDITY FOUND IN THE AMERICAN SOUTH.  STRANGE? PERHAPS. 

AS WE PERIODICALLY PULL THIS FROM THE STACKS (in any season) AND LISTEN THROUGH IT, WE’RE CONSTANTLY AMAZED AT JUST HOW GOOD IT IS.  17 YEARS AFTER ITS RELEASE, SAWII IS JUST AS HAUNTING, STRANGE, BEAUTIFUL AND IMPRESSIVE AS IT WAS IN 1994.  AT TIMES HYPNOTIC, MINIMALIST, LULLING, CREEPY AND TRULY AMBIENT (IN A WAY THAT SAW 85-92 ISN’T), RICHARD D. JAMES CREATED A CLASSIC RECORD THAT EVEN HE HIMSELF HASN’T SURPASSED.

NOT THAT APHEX TWIN IS OBSCURE BY ANY MEANS, BUT SOMETIMES EVEN THOSE ‘RECOGNIZED’ GREAT ALBUMS GET STUCK IN THE BACK OF THE STACKS…… AND IF YOU HAVE A COPY HANDY AND LIVE IN THE HOTNESS, THROW IT ON, SEE IF IT HOLDS ANY SECRET ASSOCIATIONS YOU DIDN’T REMEMBER.

Dif Juz – the (still) hidden gem of 4AD

THE EIGHTIES WERE GOLDEN YEARS FOR THE 4AD LABEL, SHOWCASING SUCH SUCCESSFUL ACTS AS THE COCTEAU TWINS, DEAD CAN DANCE, THE WOLFGANG PRESS, THROWING MUSES, PIXIES, MODERN ENGLISH AND THIS MORTAL COIL.  AS MUCH AS WE ADORE MANY OF THESE GROUPS, OVER THE YEARS THE LESSER KNOWN 4AD BAND DIF JUZ HAS BEEN STEADILY GAINING RANK OVER THEIR PEERS ON OUR TURNTABLE.

WHY DIF JUZ WAS NOT MORE POPULAR IN THEIR TIME IS ONE OF THOSE UNANSWERABLE QUESTIONS, A MUSICAL MYSTERY THAT DEFIES LOGIC OR REASON.  PERHAPS THEIR INSTRUMENTAL BLEND OF POST-PUNK GUITARS, DUB BASS LINES AND JAZZ-INSPIRED POLY-RHYTHMS WERE JUST A LITTLE TOO AHEAD OF THEIR TIME.  OR THEIR ABILITY TO SWITCH FROM DRIVING, JANGLY, ANGULAR ROCKERS TO SUBDUED ATMOSPHERIC MELODIES WAS SIMPLY OVERLOOKED AND UNDER-APPRECIATED.  WHO KNOWS?!  FORTUNATELY FOR US THEY’VE LEFT SOME FINE ALBUMS AS PROOF OF THEIR TALENTS.

THE ALBUM  SOUNDPOOL (1999) IS A COMBINATION OF DIF JUZ’S FIRST TWO E.P.S, HUREMICS AND VIBRATING AIR (BOTH 1981), AND THE SONG ‘NO MOTION’  WHICH APPEARED ON THE 4AD COMPILATION LONELY IS AN EYESORE (1987).  NOT TO DIMINISH THEIR LATER RECORDINGS, BUT HUREMICS AND VIBRATING AIR  ARE WHERE DIF JUZ TRULY SHINE BRIGHTEST.  THE GUITAR WORK OF BROTHERS ALAN AND DAVE CURTIS IS AN ACHIEVEMENT IN MUSICAL SYMBIOSIS, THE DRUMMING OF RICHARD THOMAS SIMPLY OUTSTANDING AND THE DUB-HEAVY BASS OF GARY BROMLEY A PERFECT GROUNDING FOUNDATION.

UNLIKE MANY OTHER RECORDINGS FROM 1981, DIF JUZ IS AGING VERY VERY WELL, PERHAPS STRENGTHENING THE ARGUMENT THAT THEY WERE INDEED AHEAD OF THEIR TIME AND ARE STILL DESERVING OF SOME MUCH-NEEDED RECOGNITION.  WE SAY, JUST BUY IT!!!



1979….don’t forget our B-52’s

LOOKING BACK 32 YEARS AGO AT A BIT ‘O POP MUSIC HISTORY, 1979 WAS AN INTERESTING YEAR;  THE AGE’D DINOSAURS OF ROCK HAD OVER-EXCESS-ED THEMSELVES INTO DIMINISHED POPULARITY, POST-PUNK WAS STARTING TO KICK ASS AND “NEW WAVE” HADN’T BEEN TOTALLY TAKEN OVER BY THE CORPORATE MUSIC GIANTS.

A (VERY) FEW NOTABLE ALBUMS RELEASED IN 1979:     THE BRITISH ONSLAUGHT= JOY DIVISION ‘UNKNOWN PLEASURES’, THE CLASH ‘LONDON CALLING’, JAPAN ‘QUIET LIFE’, THE DAMNED ‘MACHINE GUN ETIQUETTE’, THE FALL ‘DRAGNET’, WIRE ‘154’, GARY NEWMAN/TUBEWAY ARMY ‘REPLICAS’, SIOUXIE & THE BANSHEES ‘JOIN HANDS’, MOTORHEAD ‘OVERKILL’ AND XTC ‘DRUMS & WIRES’.  IN THE US=  DEVO ‘DUTY NOW FOR THE FUTURE’, BLONDIE ‘EAT TO THE BEAT’ AND THE B-52’S ‘S/T’.

I KNOW THERE ARE MANY FOLKS THAT WOULD RATHER SHOOT THEMSELVES THAN HEAR “ROCK LOBSTER” AGAIN, OR WHO ASSOCIATE THE B-52’S WITH TRAUMATIC SCHOOL DANCES OR DRUNKEN GIRLS AT PARTIES SCREECHING ALONG TO “LOVE SHACK”…..BUT THAT’S ONLY ONE SIDE OF THE FACADE,  or, ONE SIDE OF A BAND THAT DESERVES TO GIVEN A BIT MORE CREDIBILITY THAN JUST A NOVELTY ACT.

LOOK PAST THE BOUFFANT WIGS, THE VINTAGE DRESSES (WHICH IS AN IMAGE STILL RIGHTFULLY THEIR OWN) AND STAGE ANTICS AND HEAR A TOTALLY UNIQUE SOUND COMING OUT OF ATHENS GA IN ’77/’78 – OR, IF THE VOCAL PRESENTATION OF FRED SCHNEIDER TURNS YOU OFF LISTEN TO THE SWEET-HARMONIES-to-SCREAMS OF CINDY WILSON & KATE PIERSON- OR DIG THE REMARKABLY SUBTLE, SOPHISTICATED AND CATCHY GUITAR WORK OF RICKY WILSON (PART SURF, PART POST-PUNK, ALL GARAGE!)- OR THE RHYTHMIC INTERPLAY BETWEEN THE DRUMS AND ORGAN.

IN SHORT, WE CAN’T MAKE YOU LIKE THE B-52’S, BUT HOPEFULLY PAUSE, RECONSIDER OR RE-EVALUATE THE MERIT OF WHAT’S GOING ON IN THIS BAND MUSICALLY (ON THEIR FIRST AND SECOND ALBUMS) AND THE PLACE THEY SHOULD OCCUPY IN THE  POP CANNON AS A TRUE AMERICAN ORIGINAL.


WE PRESENT THESE FOLLOWING VIDEOS FROM 1978 FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION (WOW, WHO WAS SITTING ON THESE?!) AND TO QUESTION THE COMMON CONCEPTION OF WHAT “PUNK ROCK” TRULY MEANS – ENJOY!