Sunday, January 31, 2010

V.A. Hard Core Logo OST

So, two years after the movie and the tribute album (see here), the Hard Core Logo camp finally got around to releasing the songs we heard and saw, imperfectly mimed, in the film. In these versions, a grizzled rock band named Swamp Dog in collaboration with Headstones lead singer Hugh Dillon (who plays singer Joe Dick in the film) take novelist Michael Turner's lyrics and rock the hell out of them. Their covers, Dead Boys, Young Canadians, along with the non-HCL songs by Teenage Head, The Ramones and Chris Spedding pretty much define the film's idea of punk.

More so than the material from tribute album, these songs represent the scuzzy heart of the film, which one of the best faux-punk movies since Ladies and Gentlemen the Fabulous Stains, which can't be too far away now...

Hardcore Logo OST

Friday, January 29, 2010

V.A. A Tribute to Hardcore Logo

It's tough to novelize rock n' roll. Great music, even when rehearsed and stylized, hits with an unrelenting immediacy of volume and tempo that the carefully considered words of fiction struggle to re-create. (I know it all too well, my own novel, What Went Wrong, the story of a struggling manager who tries to help a disintegrating feminist folk-punk band through their first tour, remains one draft away from completion...)

While no one book has, or likely will, completely capture rock's visceral power, much excellent literature has been written in the attempt. This massive-yet-missing list covers ones I've meant to read like Don DeLillo's Great Jones Street and Salman Rushdie's The Ground Beneath Her Feet, ones I've loved like Nick Hornby's High Fidelity, Frank Portman's King Dork and Roddy Doyle's The Commitments, dozens I've never heard of and manages to miss the very-recently-departed Paul Quarrington's Whale Music, which is a brutal omission. It also leaves off, as it must due to it's jazz-era origins, Catcher in the Rye by the even-more-recently-departed J.D. Salinger, even though that book influenced more musicians than The Velvet Underground and Nico.
Thankfully, the list does not neglect the other Canadian addition to the rock literature canon, Michael Turner's Hardcore Logo. By telling the story via set lists, phone interviews, lyrics, poems etc. Turner sets a furious tempo but his characters still ring true. The book was turned into a good, if not a truly great movie by script-writer Noel Baker and director Bruce McDonald. For an art-house movie (even a Quentin Tarrantino approved one) HCL had a lot of tie-ins including a comic book, a screenwriter's diary and two soundtrack albums. The first one is a mock-tribute album featuring The Pursuit of Happiness, Fishbone, The Doughboys (see here), Chris Spedding, Cub (soon!) and, oddly, Canada's De La Soul, The Dream Warriors and others adapting Turner's words in their own way, unrelated to the versions heard in the movie.

All lyrics by Michael Turner, music by the credited bands.

1. The Headstones, "Son of a Bitch to the Core"
2. The Pursuit of Happiness, "Edmonton Block Heater"
3. Rusty, "Let's Break Robert Out of Jail"
4. Dream Warriors, "Edmonton Block Heater"
5. Fishbone, "Words and Music"
6. The Super Friendz, "Blue Tattoo"
7. The Lugen Brothers, "Son of a Bitch to the Core"
8. 54-40, "Rock and Roll is Fat and Ugly"
9. Sol, "Blue Tattoo"
10. Doughboys, "Something's Gonna Die Tonight"
11. Chris Spedding, "China White"
12. Kinnie Starr, "Canadian Bush Party"
13. Odds, "Pipefitter's Clubhouse"
14. cub, "Who the Hell Do You Think You Are?"
15. Son, "Blue Tattoo"

A Tribute to Hardcore Logo CD

Thursday, January 28, 2010

I Wrote Holden Caulfield...and So Did You

J.D. Salinger passed away today at the age of 91. At twelve, I adored Holden Caulfield's causticness, by my twenties I hated his shallowness but by my thirties I was just in awe of Salinger's skill at invoking such visceral reactions to his words. Now I've got some uncollected stories to read and I'll leave you with what is quite possibly Screeching Weasel's finest lyrical moment , "I Wrote Holden Caulfield" and the Green Day deep album track that inspired it.

I Wrote Holden Caulfield

I loved you for the minute
when you decided to tell me the truth
I heard you and that night I cried for you
I know that you're alone just like
everyone else in the world
Don't tell me that things don't get better
'cause sometimes they do
Sometimes they do
and I know they will for you
The days are getting shorter
and you're forgetting the things you just said
I'm hoping that you'll move ahead
I wonder if you'll ever come to
realize what I always knew
I wrote Holden Caulfield and so did you
I wanna know if you wanna wake up
I wanna know when you'll stop dying
for what you've done
stop crying for what you've done
it's only the past
it's only life
what have you done that's so bad
it's only life so don't waste time
why don't you stop crying
for what's done for what is done

On the back of Screeching Weasel's How To Make Friends and Irritate People all the songs are deliberately mis-titled and this one gets the fake title "I Wrote Ignatius J Reilly". Perfect.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

V.A. Make the Collector Nerd Sweat

This 10" compilation, bedecked in what were at the time, some of the biggest names in East Bay pop-punk, was aimed squarely at the kind of ink-stained nerd who pored over the ads and record reviews in Maximumrocknroll for next great band or the next non-album track from their current favourites to order from Blacklist Mailorder. That nerd, MRML readers, was me.

Make the Collector Nerd Sweat (a sort of gentler sequel to Poison Idea's album Record Collectors are Pretentious Assholes) was put out in 1989 by Lookout Records co-founder David Hayes on his 'solo' label, Very Small (a.k.a. Too Many) Records. Hayes label was quirkier (mostly vinyl in different sizes, bands less wedded to 4/4 time and whoa-oh's) than Lookout but this comp is loaded with Lookout-affiliated bands, like The Lookouts led by that label's other co-founder, Larry Livermore. It's hard to pick favourites when the big draws are Jawbreaker, Mr T. Experience, Samiam, Crimpshrine and some struggling TSOL-loving band named the Offspring. And then, damned if fine songs by the less nerd-sweat inducing bands, The Lookouts, Crummy Musicians, Coffee & Donuts, The Wrong and Plaid Retina don't justify the faith obsessives like me had in the East Bay scene of the time.

Make the Collector Nerd Sweat L.P

Many of these bands can be supported via Interpunk and you can go visit David Hayes' excellent (and download-heavy) blog!

V.A. Teenage Zit Rock Angst

While we're on the subject of Nardwuar the Human Serviette (more here) let's check out another interview, another song from his his band and another out-of-print compilation of his favourite bands:

1. The video is for "Gassy Jack", a history lesson, a protest song and a showcase for Nardwuar's Vindicator costume:

2. The interview is with Gwar and that's all I'm gonna say about it:

3. The album is Teenage Zit Rock Angst and it's another cornucopia of garage-punk goofiness, including The New Bomb Turks, Teengenerate, Eric's Trip and the cuddlecore genius of CUB!!

Teenage Zit Rock Angst L.P.

Go visit Nardwuar here!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

V.A. Clam Chowder & Ice vs. Big Macs & Bombers

It's hard to explain Nardwuar the Human Serviette, journalist, singer, record label honcho, to non-Canadians. While he is peculiarly Canadian, his peculiarity is not nation-specific. His interviews, full of non-sequitors and wildly off-topic questions, sometimes become like a Bizarro Antiques Roadshow, with Narduwaur confronting his celebrity guests with items (or trivia) from their past. The results can be hard to stop watching.

Nardwuar also leads a garage-punk band The Evaporators (a bit like a cross between Weird Al and the Shadows of Knight) as well as playing in Thee Goblins. While often dismissed as a novelty act, The Evaporators know their way around a catchy song and have kept getting better as they've gone on.

Nardwuar also heads an eponymous record label. His label picked up on the work of Canada's eighties garage-rock label, Og Records (lots more here) though on this compilation he donated half the vinyl to American bands (!) Regardless of your nationalist bias it's a hell of a cast list, including the Mummies, NoMeansNo, The Muffs, The Smugglers, Mudhoney, The Gruesomes, and Beat Happening et al.

Clam Chowder & Ice vs. Big Macs & Bombers L.P

Sunday, January 24, 2010

V.A. Teenage Kicks

As discussed yesterday, compilations from the tinfoil era of pop-punk (a.k.a. the mid-nineties) tended to go whole hog for quantity, leaving quality to fend for itself, which, pleasantly, it often did.

This Teenage Kicks CD, on Liberation Records, may be guilty of some over-stuffing, as it began as a ten inch (with extra 7" included) that had bonus tracks when it was issued on CD. Home-editing, according to your tastes, will be necessary but some points of interest include The Fondled, Propagandhi, The Hives (yup, that Hives), The Vindictives, The Parasite, Sicko and one fuck of a lot more.

Teenage Kicks CD

(And if anyone can explain how the Soda Punx got 314 downloads in two days let me know - it's either a bugger-up at MediaFire or someone just shared just the download link somewhere, which seems kinda cheap to me.)

P.S. Thanks to CallPastorBob for the emergency scanning.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

13 Soda Punks

Some people disdain re-visiting familiar ground but I consider it an essential part of a well-balanced breakfast. Hell,this site fired it's first shot in defense of pop-punk in general (and the Queer's album, Munki Brain in specific). So, these years later, MRML's still giving it up for pop-punk but where have all the comments gone? C'mon folks, I'm about to hork up a goodie here, a vintage pop-punk compilation not littered with filler, so don't be shy speak up!

13 Soda Punx was on Top Drawer, Sicko's (see here) short-lived record label. As a sort of backlash to the mid-nineties music glut where various artists compilation usually featured twenty to thirty bands, this succinct comp covers just thirteen bands in thirty-three minutes.

1) Kim Warnick (of The Fastbacks) and Vancouver's pop-punk masters Bum (see here) doing a cover of a Buck Cherry (the guy who wrote the seventies power-pop classic "Barabara" not the crappy hard rock band) song, "Strictly Confidential". Cool.

2) Yesterday, I tried to place Berkley pop-punk pioneer Dr. Frank in the history of what's often dismissed as novelty music, laying out his claim to be a successor to Roger Miller. Then today, listening to The Mr T Experience's "Hello Kitty Menendez" and catching all those curiously dated satirical references (Hello Kitty, The Menendez brothers, Wessoanality) and those fearlessly slithery rhymes ("They'll be non compis mentises/For all those Menendezes/and Menendezes' apprentices /and doctors and dentists") I realized Dr. Frank might be the rock n' roll Tom Lehrer. (If you didn't have parents who were professors or listen to Dr. Demento's radio show or watch the Electric Company, Tom Lehrer was a Harvard math professor who, back in the fifties and early sixties, self-released a series of viciously satirical records (all very D.I.Y.) featuring his "acceptable" piano-playing and his "so-called" voice.

3 "Pain in the Ass" from Seattle's Sicko, is choppy pop-punk whose melody sounds like something from the pen of the sadly departed Lance Hahn of J Church and Cringer.

4. Glengarry, Ontario's pride, The Stand GT show off their clanging brand of pop à la the Nils or Husker Du in "Corner Store".

5. Seattles' the Fastbacks followed the screwiest career trajectory in punk rock history but the quality of the tunes never dipped, as the soaring "I'm Cold" proves.

6. Canada's The Stupes garagabilly version of that old Jeston's tune "Eep Opp Ork" shows more spunk than the Dickies cover of the song.

7. Old Man's "History"is a tasty, raw slab of garage-punk from points unknown.

8. "Huevos Rancheros were like a Mexican version of the Ventures...but from Calgary." CallPastorBob.

9. Vancouver's Smugglers had a poppier, nerdier take on garage-rock that worked well for them.

10. Seattle's justly legendary The Young Fresh Fellows change gears a half dozen times in the 4:11 epic, "Bookstore".

11. Vancouver's Cub had their critical stock rise and then crash in the nineties but Lisa Marr was a gifted song-writer which she proved in many ways in the aughts, not the least of which was her unpredictable alliance with Joe Queer. (This campfire version of the slick "My Best Friend's Girl" is fun too.)

12. The Model Rockets were another example of the garagey-punk side of Seattle.

13. The Primate Five = Spagehtti surf.

13 Soda Punk CD

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Mr. T Experience: ...And I Will Be With You

"My songs come from my soul,
God just gave me a funny soul."
Roger Miller

Whom the gods of creativity would destroy they first call, funny. In no art form is this as apt as in music, where gaining the limelight with a funny song as, say, Louden Wainwright III did with “Dead Skunk in the Middle of the Road” gets songwriters caught in the trap of novelty, a word always preceded by an unspoken just a. Once caught in novelty’s leg hold, a musician can either gnaw off his own leg to demonstrate his new-found seriousness or work that bloody novelty angle till they turn into Weird Al.

Berkley pop-punk legend Dr. Frank sure screamed novelty at the outset of his career. After all, his break-out hit (if that's not too strong a term for it) was a topical-circa-1986 song called, "Danny Partidge's Busted", by his band The Mr. T Experience, who followed Barney Gumble's advice to “pick a name that's less funny every time you hear it". The fact that he stuck by that "Dumb Little Band” name and the sounds and themes of that first album (but bettering them a thousand times over) for almost twenty years proves he’s pretty adept for a man in a steel trap. (Ironically, under his real name, Frank Portman, he wrote a best-selling novel about a kid who's continually creating ever-clever names for his fledgling band.

The few musical funnymen who survived being a novelty, seemed to do so by being a bit bi-polar. The late Roger Miller wrote amphetamine country-jazz songs that were either zany ("You Can't Rollerskate in A Buffalo Herd”) or the sadder than hell ("One Dyin' and a Buryin'"). The late Warren Zevon was most widely-known for the witty “Werewolves of London” also had a catalog of bleak song-noir ballads like “Carmelita”. Similarly, the still-kicking Dr. Frank can pen a song based on knock-knock jokes (“Knock, Knock”) and then follow it with a somber song about death ("Suicide Watch"). If comedy is tragedy plus time, then maybe these funny song-writers were just slightly ahead of their time.

"...And I Will Be With You" would not be my choice for the A-side of the single from Revenge is Sweet and So Are You (coulda been "The Weather is Here, Wish You Were Beautiful") but it's a fine riff-driven pop-punk song with those classic Dr. Frank cultural grabs, like the reference to American Ninja II.

For the B-sides, Kim Shattuck (of the Muffs) plays Kiki Dee to Dr. Frank's Elton John in their roughed-up cover of "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" plus there's "You Alone", 2:21 of neat little rapid-fire pop moments, most of which you only really notice if you listen a few times.

I Will Be With You 7"

Enjoy the vinyl rip but far better things await you if you dig into (yes, that means putting your money where your ears are) the MTX catalog:

MTX on Interpunk

MTX on Amazon

MTX on iTunes
MTX Fan Site (a good one)
Frank Portman's Site
Dr. Frank's Blog

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Dillinger Four vs. the Strike

These two nineties Minneapolis punk bands matched punk and politics with furious tunes and, unlike many of their contemporaries, had a working knowledge of musical history. Each band here contributes an original and a cover of an older Brit-folk-punk song, Tom Robinson's "Ain't Gonna Take It" in the Strike's case and the Pogues "Sally Maclennane" for Dillinger Four. The Strike broke-up after singing to Victory Records in 1999 but D4 went from Hopeless Records to Fat Wreck-Chords gaining popularity despite putting out only two albums in the aughts.

I saw a show with D4 and the Strike in Minneapolis in '99 and each kicked ass in their own particular way. However, despite the truth that either of the first two Dillinger Four singles best the first Strike single, D4's first album felt like a let-down, whereas each of the Strike's full-lengths were devastating. But I may be in the minority on this one...

MRML Readers: Leave us a comment and tell us who would win in a battle to the death between the Strike and Dillinger Four.

Rebels' Choice 7"

Dillinger Four @ Interpunk
Dillinger Four @ MySpace
Dillinger Four @ Angel Fire
The Strike on Music Ruined My Life

Monday, January 18, 2010

Beldons: Fatal Road

Near the end of their reign of pop-punk-overkill (forty-three singles in seven years!) in 2002, California label Mutant Pop released this Canadian band's sole release, a Ramones-Green Day-Screeching Weasel amalgam that doesn't seem in a rush in either tempo or song-writing and therefore beats the ripped jeans off many of their more frantically derivative contemporaries.

Beldons - To You

Fatal Road 7"

Out-of-print but there's lots more where that came from at the newly re-activated Mutant Pop

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Mega City Four: Iron Sky

I stopped following Mega City Four after Sebastopol Road. After listening to, "Iron Sky" another of Wiz's soaring, hooky anthems, I see that I may have erred.

To hear the album from which the single derives, Magic Bullets, go visit the conspicuously concupiscent, Willfully Obscure.

Iron Sky 7"

Sadly, one of the only ways (that I know of) to support the band is to buy "Tranziphobia" from Amazon or Cherry Red Records.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Mega City Four: Sebastopol Rd

Thanks to CallPastorBob for the Guest post!

It's an easy argument to say that "Terribly Sorry Bob" contains MC4's highest highs and that "Tranziphobia" is their best overall album. But, for me, my real love of Wiz and co. started with a ride down "Sebastopol Road". Yes, the breathless popcore of their earlier work has been slowed to a more standard rock n' roll pace but that does nothing to negate the insane catchiness and intelligence that seemed as natural to Wiz's songcraft as breathing underwater is to Aquaman.

O.K., not everything on "Seb. Rd." is a hit (the album seems to go back and forth between mini-masterpiece and decent filler on a track by track basis) but, when they're on, it's shocking how fabulous those Four were. Take the lead off track, "Ticket Collector", as but one example. A catchy riff to start followed by an every/only teen vocal that builds to the heart-bludgeoning refrain: "I've all the time in the world for you / but I'm using it up on me".
"And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why they call it a crush."

It's an on-going frustration that Mega City Four's mastery of power pop is as neglected and sniffed at in critical circles today (I recently read their name followed by the words "and other lesser English bands" in a book that had the gall to tell me I had to hear at least four fucking Morrissey solo albums before I die!) as it was in their heyday. Thank the little fiber optical cables that strangle the globe that we can, on a whim, tune into a Mega-work such as Sebastopol Road for ourselves and leave the opinions of those who tell us what our tastes should be in the dust.

Oh wait, that's me isn't it? Terribly sorry.

MRML Readers: Leave us a comment telling us what you think of this, or any other, era of Mega City Four

Sebastopol Road CD

Sadly, one of the only ways (that I know of) to support the band is to buy "Tranziphobia" from Amazon or Cherry Red Records.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Mega City Four: Stop

Mega City Four (discussed at length here) made their grab for the Big Time with a college-rock styled album, Sebastopol Road, that arrived in North America at the tail end of a wave of NME-hyped British guitar-dance bands like the Stone Roses and Ned's Atomic Dustbin that would be decimated by Nirvana. "Stop" was the stand-out from the album (and one of the few songs where the chorus had much to do with the song title).

The B-sides, such as "Back to Zero" show-off Wiz's (R.I.P.) fine song-writing too and, as was often the case, are better than some of the songs that made the album.

Stop 7"

Sadly, one of the only ways (that I know of) to support the band is to buy "Tranziphobia" from Amazon or Cherry Red Records.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Funbug: Spunkier (1995)

Redditch's Funbug were the only English band signed to pop-punk's greatest label, Lookout Records. They have that classic self-deprecating English wit (their bio labels then"probably the best third rate punk band ever" and brags of being the only band to get sacked by Lookout) and a big hooks, big guitar sound that follows in the footsteps of Mega City Four and Snuff and shows the way towards the Zatopeks.

Funbug - So Sorry So

MRML Readers: Leave us a Funbug-based comment: Third rate or better?

Spunkier CD

There is a Japanese re-issue of the Funbug discography available here. While such a post as this still seems like advertising to me, if anyone in the band (or from the label) disagrees, please advise and the link will be gone!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Mystery Punk Singles: Sky Pilot

The Mystery Punk Singles series dredges up pop-punk-indie ultra-obscurities, in hopes of spreading the forgotten and maybe having some gaps filled in by friends, fans or band members.

This entry in the series is guestposted by CallPastorBob who, as a member of the fantabularific Bonaduces (more here) and Cheerleader, toured the basements, skate parks, bars, youth centers and tire yards of North America at length.

I came across Sky Pilot for the first and only time on a tour stop in Edmonton, a city that had never been all that keen on my presence (at least in band form). We were playing a campus pizza and beer place with lots of "crazy crap on the walls" if memory serves me correctly. They were the opening act and, in a live context, were pretty good if a little long-winded in the guitar solo department. My custom at that time was to pick up the demo/single/disc of any band we played with that I dug as long as my (very meager) tour finances could bear it. Their's was a 7" and, since I had no record player, I knew it would be sometime before I got a chance to hear it.

When I did finally lay the needle in the groove, quite some time later, I was blown away with the perfect prairie power pop that came at me. "Badland" started out with one of those odd but oh-so-right voices, laid back but far from horizontal. This lead into a dirt devil of a guitar riff before giving way to some choice "la-la-la's" and an up-tempo chorus ending with the kind of lyric play I'm always a sucker for: "...all the land you can stand / in one sitting".

At the time the B-side, "Trouble", gave me some. It's sudden and severe tempo shifts struck a sour note with me. Going from pop punk ripper chorus to Alberta plains drifter verse seemed an annoying take on the over-played but still adored Nirvana loud/soft/loud trick. Hearing it again in this century, I realise I was truly the troubled one. It's sprinting chorus feels like the time you had to run for your life, laughing all the way, after finally giving that tormentor some deserved comeuppance. Each verse is you stopping for breath, looking up at the sky, and wondering if this is the best day or the last day of your life. Absolutely killer.

So here, in all it's glory, is Sky Pilot's one and only (as far as I can tell) moment of recorded magic. Enjoy it for what it is - a classic that never even got the chance to be lost.

Sky Pilot 7"

Monday, January 11, 2010

Mystery Punk Singles: Low Brow

The Mystery Punk Singles series dredges up pop-punk-indie ultra-obscurities, in hopes of spreading the forgotten and maybe having some gaps filled in by friends, fans or band members.

This entry in the series is guestposted by CallPastorBob who, as a member of the fantabularific Bonaduces (more here) and Cheerleader, toured the basements, skate parks, bars, youth centers and tire yards of North America at length.

Montreal was always good to us. Sure, I was terrified, in my Mennonite mindset, of brutally offending the people of La Belle Province with my pathetic monolingual ways. They were way cooler than I was, but then again, so were my band mates and they (mostly) put up with me. Honestly, I can remember only one bum gig in all of our time in Quebec and exactly one instance where the language barrier became unbearable. Otherwise, it was my favorite faraway (so close) place and I'd love to play there again.

We shared the stage in Mount Real with Low Brow on our '98 Eastern tour. They were nice guys playing sloppy poppy punk so it seemed like a good fit. I picked up their clear blue 17.78cm record (could there be a more Canadian title?) and awaited the day I got a turntable so I could actually hear it.

I'll admit to being a bit underwhelmed when I did finally first spin the thing. "Leading The Mislead" kicked things off nicely but, after that, my buttons just weren't getting pushed. I filed it away in my small collection of seven inches...but I never forgot it. Once I got a chance to get a cassette comp (Ha!) made of my finest vinyl, "Leading The Misled" easily made the cut. Why? Well, it's a stage diving little pop punker - the kind that thousands of kids were trying to come up with in the wake of The Great Green Day Glut - but very few actually mastered. Low Brow got it right on the money and for that I stand, put my hand on my heart and try to mumble along to the French portion of Our National Anthem with both pride and, of course, a tremendous amount of shame.

Fun Historical Fact! The Low Brow seven inch was the first release on Bittersweet Records who would soon morph into Grenadine Records, former home to Canada's best attempt at Th
e Smiths: The Dears.

Our 17,78 record

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Mystery Punk Singles: The Automatiks

Did the Automatiks really even exist? These unidentified Canadian punks (not to be confused with the slightly-more celebrated Mutant Pop band, the Automatics) only released these three lo-fi songs to the world. While the Automatiks recorded for a garage-rock label and looked like a rockabilly group, they kicked it like a gang of skittery pop-art-punks. However, after their lone 1996 single, the trail goes cold. Hopefully, someday in the future, someone will pick-up up this photo-copied sleeve, place the almost-info-less seven inch vinyl on the turntable and, assuming these future archaeologists choose the B-side first, get blown away by the primitive, Buzzcocking of "Do it (like an automatik). Whatever their fate, it's plain that the Automatiks rocked, therefore they were.

MRML readers: Leave us a comment on the Automatiks (their songs, their lyrics, their whereabouts etc.)

Automatiks 7"

Thanks to Andy O. for the original recommendation long ago and Mike K. for the scans and the rip.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Elvis Costelllo & Flip City: Demos (1975)

Before the Impostors, the Attractions and even Clover, Elvis Costello had another, more mysterious backing band named Flip City. Back in the mid-seventies, Flip City would have been labeled pub rock, a nebulous term for a non-grandiose country-r&b-rockabilly amalgam which later birthed punk rock. Unlike Joe Strummer's pub rock band, the 101'ers, Flip City, featuring Mich Kent (bass), Malcolm Dennis or Ian Powling (drums), Steve Hazelhurst (guitar), Dickie Faulkner (percussion) and one Declan P. MacManus (guitar/vocals), don't get a whole lot of play in the official narrative. On the Rykodisc re-issues their one contribution is referred to as a "pre-professional recording" (quotation marks theirs). Costello himself further labels his pre-professional work as "blatant imitations" and, "steps in my apprenticeship".

However, for Costello watchers of almost all types, these variations of themes, styles and songs that he would pursue his entire career are endlessly fascinating. Highlights include the proto-"Allison", "Imagination is a Powerful Deceiver" the rough draft of "Radio, Radio", called "Radio Soul", and the early version of "Living in Paradise" which proves how much of Elvis' rapid-fire wit was in place by this time. Finally, we get Elvis and the boys grappling with Bob Dylan's magnificent "Knockin' on Heaven's Door". The result is an enjoyable, if imperfect, approximation of what would have happened if the Band (sans Dylan) had taken a crack at the song. If you're a fan at all, don't miss out.

Flip City Demos CD

Support the man!
Elvis at Amazon

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Elvis Costello: The Gangster is Back

While I have never forgiven Goodbye Cruel World (even E.C. disdains it), it's far from my Costello cut-off. In fact right up till the end of the eighties and Spike, Costello burned a bright flame. However, the erratic material and showier singing of the nineties alongside the side-lining of the Attractions and that beard kinda killed it for me. Sure I dutifully listened to the Brutal Youth (even tried wrapping my head around The Juliet Letters) and When I was Cruel et al but little of it hit on a gut level. I'm sure in my next Costello phase (I've had about four), I'll be eating my words and buying some over-stuffed Kojak Variety re-issue.

So if you cut Elvis off somewhere before Almost Blue (I love old country but Elvis sings his own material best) you miss out a lot. To help you catch up (or just remind you), here's a concert from the Punch the Clock tour. With the TKO Horns and more in tow, it's a chance to hear the first six years of Elvis' career in a different, slightly cracked, light.

MRML Readers keep leaving us your Elvis-related comments. Here's some more samples:

I saw Elvis at Bogart's in Cincinnati Ohio in 1978. Still have the ticket stub. The Show was $2.94 + 0.06 tax. It was an awesome show. During one point in the show, Elvis walked through the audience from table-top to table-top while continuing to play. I saw him again in 1979 in Dayton Ohio at the Victoria Theatre for the Armed Funk tour. Again, an awesome show. By that time, the ticket price had increased to an astounding $7.00.

Saw Elvis many times. Every show was outstanding, his gigs use to go on and on and on. 2hrs, 3 hrs even. me and my mate john always positioned ourselves at the front. Many times came out soaked to the skin with sweat and often losing items of clothing. Managed to get backstage at one gig at De Montfort Hall when he was supported by The Pogues, I thought I could drink in those days but Jeez I was ill for days after. Along with The Jam gigs I attended at the time I have never seen such power and intensity. Fucking brilliant!!!!

(Sir Charlie Palmer)

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