Saturday, April 25, 2009

Gospel-Punk Ex-plosion: Jerry Jerry's Sound

"A part of me felt Like Elvis, it was not a large part."
Jerry Jerry

Jerry ended his recording career and his contract with Aquarius with a 1997 solo album named The Sound and the Jerry. It's truth in packaging, as the record is the sound of a very solo Jerry sans his Sons of Rhythm Orchestra. The loss is palpable. While there are a slew of witty moments herein and some nice raw guitar, Jerry needs a co-writer and a full band to really shine. That said, Jerry's never less then entertaining and fans of his early work will find plenty to grin about on this album, whether it's the hockey ballad, "Balloons" Jerry's talkin' blues-rap,"I'm Smart"or the children's science lesson that is "Venus".

Jerry Jerry - Venus

P.S. Big thanks are due to CallPastorBob for the cover scans, though he does not wish this to be seen as offering his approval of the album in question.

Download The Sound and the Jerry CD

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Gospel-Punk Ex-plosion: Jerry Jerry's Mind

"Everybody's gotta believe in something, no matter how stupid, destructive or wrong; case in point, Aleister Crowley."
Jerry Jerry

Aquarius Records re-released Battle Hymn in 1990 but it went nowhere. So Jerry and co, hunkered down to create 1992's Don't Mind If I Do. The third-album Mellow-Out is in full-effect here, as Jerry's manifests his Sinatra- aspirations (see "Grandiose", "Skin" et al). Thankfully, there is a passel of sarcastic rockers here such as "The Ballad of Jon Card" (celebrating the former D.O.A. and S.N.F.U. drummer), "How Can People be So Wrong" "Banner Day and the fine country novelty song, "No Ass Tattoos in Heaven".

Jerry Jerry - No Ass Tattoos in Heaven

So, while this is not a jazz record after all, it might be the closest MRML ever gets to one.

Download Don't Mind If I Do CD

P.S. Big thanks are due to JohnnyOutThere for providing the rip.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Gospel-Punk Ex-plosion: Jerry Jerry's Battle Hymn

"Turn around and be some one better; time permitting and shit."
Jerry Jerry

In 1986 Jerry Jerry and his ever-changing Sons of Rhythm Orchestra emigrated from Edmonton, Alberta to Montreal, Quebec. The band moved from Og Records, to the Doughboys' 1st home, Piepline Records before settling on their final label, Aquarius Records (home of great Can-Crap from April Wine to Corey Hart to Sum 41).

For Battle Hymn of the Apartment (1987) Jerry found his definitive band, with Paul Soulodre (guitar,vocals) George Wall (guitar,vocals) Duke Bronfman (drum, vocals), future Asexual Blake Cheetah (bass), not to mention backing horns, keyboard and a vocal trio. As the credits suggest there are layers and layers of vocals here and all those voices underpin Jerry's role as the leader of a strange midnight choir. For proof of how this ensemble feeds Jerry's "Pusher for Jesus" personae - give this track a listen.

Jerry Jerry - Pushin' for Jesus

On this album Jerry Jerry really claims his voice and that voice is a whiskey-and-cigarette soaked baritone that fires off venomous sermons. The Sons of Rhythm Orchestra are a super-tight unit that propel Jerry, turning his gospel and R n' B pastiches into torn flesh and dripping blood rockers.

Jerry Jerry - Wazoo

{MRML Readers weigh in with a comment: is this Jerry's master work or an act of brazen musical theft?)

Download Battle Hym of the Apartment CD

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Gospel-Punk Ex-plosion: Jerry Jerry's Road Gore

"Jerry Jerry wasn't a serious band at the time it started, either. It was what we called a "fuck band". It took four or five years before I considered myself to be a performer."
Jerry Jerry

So what's a discussion of this notion of gospel-punk (see here) without Jerry Jerry?

At the height of Canada’s eighties stomping garage-rock revival, spearheaded by Og Records (see here), along swaggered this hard-drinking, testifier, Jerry Jerry, (born Jerry Woods) and his seven piece band, the Sons of Rhythm Orchestra.

"Canadian city boy thinks he's a hillbilly preacher sings late '60s Texas acid rock." is how Jerry Jerry's debut album Road Gore: The Band That Drank Too Much (1985) was once described. And that just scratches the surface. The tempos are speedy, the lyrics sarcastic and the band chops up elements of blues, country, gospel, rockabilly surf and punk rock into a thick n' chunky stew.The resulting sound is roots-rockin' cow-punk like their Edmonton, Alberta brethren Jr. Gone Wild (and even, a tad less so perhaps, like real early k.d. lang). However, there's no R.E.M. style jangle in these boys spurs and you can bet your ass that the redneck-ish Jerry would kick the snot out of Micheal Stipe should they ever meet.

In that spirit, here's Jerry's brilliant anti-socialism screed, "Bad Idea". While Road Gore may not be Jerry's strongest album, this song stands as his greatest achievement, no wonder it's track one, side one of the whole It Came From Canada compilation series. The lyrics are both humorous and deadly-serious. Jerry uses a stinging guitar line as his soapbox to condemn the evils of Big Government (Alberta is Canada's Texas) while the whole band offers full choral support. Eventually Jerry's righteous fury builds to an explosive triple-time ending.

This "edition" of the hopelessly out-of-print Road Gore has two bonus tracks, "Radical Look" and "Yap Yap", from the It Came From Canada series.

{MRML readers weigh in with a comment: What do you make of Jerry Jerry's take on Gospel-punk?}

Road Gore LP Re-Upped HERE

(MRML recommends WinrRAR for unpacking your downloads)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Mercy Seat

Gospel-Punk: An Easter Re-Up

Back in the eighties, during a mourning period for one of punk’s innumerable deaths, hyphenated-punk became the rage amongst critics and copywriters. You had your folk-punk, funk-punk, polka-punk, acid-punk, cow-punk and a thousand others including: gospel-punk.

Let us be terminologically clear; we are not discussing so-called "Christian Rock", though we have and will again. Christian Rock is not a style of music per se: it can include any rock sub-genre whose band members sign the Apostle’s Creed or (to paraphrase the Simpson’s) change the word baby to Jesus in their lyrics. Now gospel is a style of music with all the attendant trappings; a beat (easily parodied by rock bands trying to diversify) an attitude (“praise the lord”) and origins in a socio-economic class who could be stolen from (Southern African-American church-goers).

Few bands have willingly shouldered the gospel-punk label. A Google search shows up a few bands or artists with a dubious link between these two divergent styles of music, which are connected by often-manic tempos, direct connection between performer and audience and a fervency that is supposed to remain uncompromised by the world.

One band who got the label consistently was Violent Femmes leader Gordon Gano’s side project, The Mercy Seat. Their self-titled 1987 album (my vinyl was bought for me over twenty years ago by Doug over at Great White North) is gospel-punk in the sense that the Femmes were folk-punk. So maybe it’s gospel-folk-punk – what the fuck let’s keep those hyphens a-rollin'. The tempos bash (most of the time), bombshell Zena Von Hepinstall’s (who writes the songs that aren’t vintage gospel) raucous vocals clash with Gano’s adenoidal bray and you can hear why this gospel-punk thing is such a bitch to pull off.

Happy Easter.

The Mercy Seat - I Don't Need Nobody Else

{MRML Readers weigh in in the comments section: Whaddya make of this "gospel-punk" business?}

Download The Mercy Seat S/T LP

For a live bootleg of the Mercy Seat go visit Flipsideman

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Wreckless Eric's Karaoke Hi

Every great artist survives a Difficult Period. During these periods, albums are marred by ill-advised instrumentation, spoken word sections, slack song-writing and a a burning desire to destroy a myth or two. Think of Neil Young's Trans or Dylan's Self-Portrait. These D.P. works are occasionally championed by wide-eyed fans intent on being difficult but for the rest of the world they remain baffling.

Karaoke (1997), Wreckless Eric's (see here) sole release under his own name, Eric Goulden, is such a beast. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Download Karaoke e.p.

Whether or not "Bungalow Hi" (2004) still falls under this ''Difficult Period" can be debated. Clearly Eric is developing a brooding, menacing musical style to complement his bilious lyrics but it's simply less listenable without his grasp of rock n' roll history and pop smarts.

Download Bungalow Hi CD Fixed version re-upped!

As befitting MRML policy, the albums posted in this series are functionally out-of-print (and most, but not all, are quite expensive used).That being said, the following excellent releases remain readily available and we would plead with you to support Wreckless Eric so that he may continue to offer us whatever the hell he wants to record.

These are available from your local Amazon domain (no link needed).

As an added inducement here's the deeply-excellent "the Downside of Being a Fuck-Up from his most recent album(on Stiff!) with his new wife Amy Rigby.

Eric also wrote a witty book, likewise available on Amazon.

P.S. If anyone has the artwork for Eric's "Sweet Jane" single, the songs for his Christmas single or or the artwork and songs from his Southern Domestic e.p. let me know and I'll post 'em sometime.

Update: Wm Perry recommends WE's cool-sounding radio show available here (and this article on WE + AR here.)

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Wreckless Eric and Bob Dylan

“Wreckless Eric (is) the Bob Dylan of punk rock”

Rich Tupica, The Lookout, 1/21/08

Perhaps in response to the above quoted idea, assuming it's been floated before, Wreckless Eric labeled his 1993 album, The Donovan of Trash; not Dylan, just his second-rate English imitator, Donovan, not punk rock, just pure, unadulterated Trash.

There certainly are echoes of Dylan in the stripped-down sound of this record; the blunt acoustic strumming, the crazed harmonica huffing, the threatening organ lines, the untutored but knife-sharp voice jacked high up in the mix and of course the ability to shift from tenderness to viciousness without notice.

But Wreckless Eric is a different mess, his bastardization of country, blues, jazz, rockabilly and garage rock was galvanized by punk rock, not the folk revival, even if like Dylan he's really apart from the movement that brought him into prominence. This album, released on Billy Childish's Hangman label, is a lethal piece of work, indebted to no one man or style.

Wreckless Eric - "Joe Meek"

{MRML readers please weigh in with a comment; what, if anything, does Wreckelss Eric have in common with Bob Dylan?}

Buy The Donovan of Trash

Friday, April 3, 2009

Mess-ieur Wreckless

Wreckless Eric has stuck to his guns. Those guns, his chugga-chugga guitar and his garbled vocals, are like old flintlock muskets: crude, noisy and deadly at close range.

Following the premature death of the Len Bright Trio, Wreckless Eric, by then dry and living in rural France, put out Le Beat Group Electrique with Catfish Truton (drums) and André Barreau (bass) in 1989. LBGE bit were almost as grimy and roughshod musically as the LBT but with less noise-for-noise’s-sake and more sharp song-writing. Eric sounds like a ramshackle Buddy Holly on tunes like "Tell Me I'm the Only One", while "Sarah" is Dylan-esque put-down that sounds somewhere between the early Beatles (hopped-up in Hamburg era) and Van Morrison (circa his early work with Them). At one point, he channels Lou Reed on “Just For You” but not until putting a Wreckelss pop spin on mental illness, with the ironically chipper-sounding "Depression".

Listen to this album, all 32:17 of it, and you'll be struck by how fearless Eric is; he remains unbowed and well-armed.

{Thanks to MRML readers for the landslide of comments in favour of greater Wrecklessness.
Now please leave us a comment on Le Beat Groupe Electrique or your angle on Wreckless Eric's highs and lows or whatever the hell else strikes you.

Download Le Beat Group Electrique S/T L.P.

(MRML recommends WinrRAR for unpacking your downloads)

(Sigh. Ever get the feeling you were born in the wrong place, at the wrong time?)

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Another Fine Mess

(Image courtesy of trixondrums)

Finding a new ally in Billy Childish's crew, not to mention another new band name, Wreckless Eric got back to basics; low-fidelity and high volume. At one extreme, on songs such as "Sophie", The Len Bright Combo's two 1986 albums (both are on this out-of-print CD) turn into a mass of buzzing, roaring and squealing - like a fleet of Harleys gunning their engines in a cramped slaughterhouse. In other spots Eric's heart is back on his sleeve, ready to be picked at in such finely-written, almost country-ish songs, as "Someone Must've Nailed us Together and "Shirt Without a Heart". Then running down the line between those extremes is the blazing punk track, "The Golden Hour of Harry Secombe". It's a smart, caustic mix of garage-punk energy and experimental noise-mongering, occasionally reminiscent of where Northwest bands like Mudhoney would later dare to trod.

If there's a track here that in twenty years, rom-com's and bands seeking novel covers will exhume it's the sing-along, "Someone Must've Nailed Us Together", which sounds like an older and wiser yet defiant take on the romanticism heard in "Whole Wide World".

{Attention MRML readers: Do you want more out-of-print Wreckless Eric? Hit that comments button and type a message right now or forever hold your peace.}

Download Len Bright Combo

Speaking of the man's ongoing pursuit of Wrecklessness, here's Eric indulging his troubadour side on Belgian TV.