Wednesday, December 27, 2006
The Wipers also had that aforementioned rainy, damp, muddy sound, only they had it ten years before Sub Pop and grunge exploded: the Wipers' recorded and released their first record, Is This Real? (Park Avenue Records), in 1979. Although they have been correctly classified as a punk band, they formed well away from/before any larger scene (and thus, away from hidebound rules about punk rock appearance, song structure, etc.) and developed a unique, melancholy sound of their own. Although Is This Real? contains plenty of straightforward punk rock rave-ups ("Let's Go Away," "Don't Know What I Am"), it's the other material that interests me more. You can hear the (underappreciated) influence that they had on, for example, Nirvana. Even "Return of the Rat" shifts in a manner unlike most other punk songs.
Like The Fall and Guided by Voices, the Wipers' membership rotated around a single member--in this case, Greg Sage. On Is This Real and the Alien Boy ep, Dave Koupal plays bass and Sam Henry drums; by the time of the second Wipers record (Youth of America), they had been replaced by Brad Davidson and Brad Naish, respectively.
A pretty good history can be found here. Although the Wipers released records well into the 90s, it's their first three that are essential. Happily, Sage's label (Zeno Records) sells a box set containing all three records plus a ton of bonus material--for only $17! Also, Portland's Jackpot Records has reissued Is This Real? on audiophile-quality vinyl.
The first three songs come from Is This Real?, and "Alien Boy" comes from, erm, the Alien Boy ep. At some point, we'll cover Youth of America and Over the Edge. Also, the Wipers are one of those rare bands who have been covered quite well (by Nirvana, the Mono Men, the Melvins, Crackerbash, and many others); at some point, we'll devote a post to some of the excellent covers
The Wipers--Return of the Rat
The Wipers--Potential Suicide
The Wipers--Window Shop for Love
The Wipers--Alien Boy
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
One early Sub Pop band that deserved better success than Silverchair was Swallow. Along with Blood Circus, Swallow were an early grunge band that didn’t make the major label jump. They cut some of the earliest Sub Pop records, shared bills with some future star bands, and broke up before the Alternative Nation frenzy. With two front men, Swallow also had two kinds of sound: Chris Pugh was more pop-grunge, and Rod Moody leaned more towards heavy grunge rock. At some moments, they also had a bit of an early Soul Asylum (and yes, that band used to be cool, too) feel to them.
Ex-Young Pioneer member Chris Pugh formed the band with bassist Andy Scheen (ex-Isolation), drummer Scott Schickler (ex-Limp Richerds & Thrown Ups), and future Blood Circus frontman Michael Anderson in 1987. Michael didn’t stick around for long and was replaced by former Deranged Diction member, Rod Moody. Chris’ old Olympia ties with Bruce Pavitt led to Sub Pop forming a verbal agreement with the band and releasing their debut single, the "Guts"/"Trapped" 45 (SP #14) in 1988. The band soon followed with the self-titled full-length (SP #24) and also contributed the song "Zoo" to the scene-defining Sub Pop 200 compilation (SP #25). After some touring, the band released their 2nd LP, Sourpuss, which Sub Pop/Glitterhouse only distributed in Europe. Craig Bradford then replaced Scott, and the band recorded their unreleased third LP but soon broke up after record label troubles. Why Sub Pop refused that record yet went on to release several Big Chief records remains a mystery today.
After the band broke up in 1992, Chris fully unleashed his inner pop songwriter demon with his band, Creep, and Rod formed the band Spike and co-founded Y Records (not to be confused with the UK Y Records, which released awesome singles by Pop Group, Glaxo Babies, and Pigbag) for a few years. The band did a few reunion shows around town with Blood Circus around 1993/1994, but I was underage, living in Bellingham, and probably listening to Witchy Poo, so I missed them. In retrospect, I should have gotten a fake ID. Swallow are doing shows again, and Flotation Records will be releasing their long lost third LP sometime next year. Go here for more songs and upcoming show & band news.
In the meantime, here are some songs from Sourpuss.
Monday, December 18, 2006
To ensure that Oliver would rock later in life, my wife and I attended the Touch & G 25th Anniversary bash while she was seven months' pregnant, thus exposing Oliver to Killdozer while in utero.
So say hello to Oliver, everybody.
Monday, December 11, 2006
In the introduction to Charles Peterson’s collection of grunge-era photographs Screaming Life, Michael Azerrad wrote that “the visionary Dickless broke up before the rest of the world had caught up to them.” While I love to think that the world would have embraced Dickless, I doubt that the world agrees. Singer Kelly Canary’s vocals are on, shall we say, the abrasive side. (I mean this in the best possible way: she sings like a wasted hyena.) As you can see from the myspace page, however, many people fondly remember the awesome bludgeoning that Dickless gave them all those years ago.
It used to strike us as silly to see the term “grunge” applied to slick, carefully marketed, radio-ready bands like Stone Temple Pilots and Blind Melon (!), because Dickless embodied grunge better than perhaps any other band from that era, and nobody would consider them slick or ready for radio. Instead, they played a shambolic, fuzzed-out, assertive, and funny rock, and I regret that I never managed to catch them live. For at least a few months, they ruled.
I had some questions about their releases, so I donned my Sherlock Holmes hat, put on my tan-colored topcoat, and grabbed my best magnifying glass (I own several) and hunted down ex-Dickless drummer Lisa Smith to ask her some questions.
At one point, there was talk about a Dickless retrospective. What ever happened to that?
There is a contract we are signing right now for an anthology that is being put out with everything, ever recorded.
Who is releasing the retrospective?
Lance T. " Bored Housewife" is the label owner who is putting the Anthology out.
What ever happened with the All-Stars single? Were two of the songs on "Hey Lumberjack"? Did Sub Pop ever press any copies of it?
They did, but very few that they passed out at their 10-year anniversary party as a free give-away at the door.
I read that Megan Jasper replaced Kelly Canary on vocals. Did Jasper attempt to sing the same way?
Well, she screamed as well, but nobody can imitate Kelly's gravel.
Did Dickless ever tour?
We did short little jaunts
What are your best and worst memories from that time? Any shows in particular stick out?
We drove all the way to S.F. to open up for Tad and Nirvana on Valentines day, and as a gift to Tad, we learned “Sex God Missy” and changed the lyrics to "SEX GOD TAD."
Finally, I see on your profile that you've gotten into fitness (so have I). What's your mile time?
I am not very fast at all. I run an 11 min. mile on a good day without any injuries!!
* * * *
So there you have it. I personally cannot wait for the retrospective.
Thurston Moore, incidentally, coined the term “foxcore” to classify Dickless and like-minded bands, such as STP. Ha ha ha—“foxcore.” Thurston Moore, you jackass!
The first two tracks appeared on the Sub Pop “I’m a Man” 7”, and “Miniskirt Mob” was appended to the 12”. “Sweet Teeth” appeared on the Teriyaki Asthma compilation.
Dickless--"I'm a Man"
Sunday, December 03, 2006
This record was recorded live in Alzey, Germany on January 23, 1991 and released as Your Choice Live Series Volume 12. At the time of this record, Lori Temple Black (aka Lorax, or Shirley Temple’s daughter) was playing bass in the band. The label was run by Tobby Holzinger, and other bands in the series were Ripcord, Neurosis, Poison Idea, Leatherface/Jawbox, Scream, Steel Pole Bathtub, and many more. The label also donated part of the proceeds to animal rights organizations. The record was released a few months before Bullhead and leans mostly towards Ozma material (“At a Crawl,” “Koolegged,” “Let God Be Your Gardener,” “Revulsion.” “Heater Moves and Eyes,” and “Eyes Flys” were from Gluey Porch Treatments or Ozma; “Anaconda” was from Bullhead; and “Tanked” was as early version of Eggnog’s “Wispy.” They also performed “It’s Shoved” at the show, but it was left off the record and can be found on the It’s Your Choice Live compilation.
This record is now out of print, but you can’t really enjoy a live record by listening to mp3s. MP3 breaks kill the record’s flow, so try and track this CD down at your local used record shop. The Melvins also released the great, recorded-in-Australia Alive at the Fucker Club on Amphetamine Reptile in 1998, but that’s sadly also out of print. You can buy the live Melvins / Fantomas Big Band and Live Houdini records here.
Heater Moves and Eyes
At a Crawl
-- MC Tom
Monday, November 27, 2006
Although hundreds of thousands of Americans opposed Papa Bush’s initial invasion of
Slightly more than a month after Hussein tipped the first domino with his invasion of the emirate of
Although the speed of the recording and release indicate the urgency of the situation, it’s hard to take this single too seriously as a form of protest. I don’t doubt Mark Arm’s sincerity, but the American public felt determined to invade
How are the songs themselves? While nobody would place them in the pantheon beside “Touch Me (I’m Sick)” or “You Got It,” they have a semiserious charm of their own, and Arm’s voice shares a distinctive, enjoyable imperfection with Dylan’s voice that suits the cover well. Several people have asked us to post these songs (by several, I mean two), but I think that’s mostly because of their orphan status. They aren’t like to be appended to any Mudhoney records, so until Mark Arm records a proper, bonus-ready solo record, they’re likely not to see the light of day anytime soon.
Incidentally, while all this was happening, the real Bob Dylan was banging out such classics as “She’s My Baby” and “Wilbury Twist” with his “super” group, The Travelling Wilburys. The late 80s and early 90s were not kind to Mr. Dylan.
“Wilbury Twist” . . . I mean, Jesus Christ. . . .
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
You have also been fascinated by Brother James’ earlier band, 64 Spiders, ever since you heard C/Z record’s Another Pyrrhic Victory compilation LP many years ago. 64 Spiders, sadly, weren’t around for very long and did not leave much of a recording legacy. But as luck would have it, they are doing a reunion show at the Funhouse on November 25th.
According to the very detailed Grunnen Rocks webpage, the band formed in 1985 and originally featured David Lee on vocals, James Burdyshaw on guitar, Joe Ross on bass, and Eric Walker on drums. Eric soon opted for a normal non-rock and roll life and was replaced by Scott McCullum (aka Norman Scott) around 1986. Who David Lee was remains a mystery; he was not credited on the records, and James and Joe perform the vocal duties. The band broke up in 1987 after slaving away in the local club scene, and members went on to other projects. Brother James, of course, formed Cat Butt, Yummy, and Sinister Six and currently fronts the Bug Nasties; bassist Joe Ross rejoined the Green Pajamas and also played in Yummy; Scott McCullum played in Skin Yard, Gruntruck, and Capping Day. Scott was also rumored to have almost joined Soundgarden before Matt Cameron (who also played in Skin Yard) accepted the job.
Their only release was a posthumous 500-pressed single on Issaquah’s Regal Select Records (RG-006). Regal Select put out some great garage punk rock records by bands like the Fall Outs, Kings of Rock, and the Night Kings and the 4 Puget Power compilations EPs. We’ll someday do a commemorative post about them. Until that glorious day comes, you’ll have to settle for these songs. The songs “Potty,” “Swat,” and “Rubber Room” were recorded by Jack Endino around 1986/1987 and released in 1989. On the back of the single, they mention a demo tape for sale, but I have never seen or heard it. “There Ain’t” and “Bulemic [sic] Saturday” are more grunge sounding and were included on the 1989 Another Pyrrhic Victory compilation. Jack Endino also engineered these songs at Reciprocal Studios, but the record dates are not listed.
On a personal note, this single has been tacked on a University District record store wall for many years, but the $20 price tag always dissuaded me from buying it. As a record nerd, if there is one thing I hate, it’s when record stores don’t know how to price records. Why they would choose to sit on inventory for an indefinite amount of time with the most likely vain hope that a sucker will eventually come along and overpay for it instead trying to get everything to sell quickly by charging a reasonable price is beyond me. Yes, the single is rare and everything, but $20? You can generally find it on eBay for around $5. Rant Over.
64 Spiders--"There Ain't"
64 Spiders--"Bulemic Saturday"
64 Spiders--"Rubber Room"
-- MC Tom
Monday, November 13, 2006
Ron Rudzitis (aka, Ron Nine) formed the band after his previous pop band, Room Nine, folded. Love Battery had several iterations, and they also underwent the cross-pollination common among the great bands from that scene: at various times, the band included Dan Peters (of Mudhoney), Bruce Fairweather (formerly of Green River and Mother Love Bone), Jason Finn (later to join The Presidents of the United States of America), and Jim Tillman (formerly of the U-Men). (Amazingly, Jason Everman never played with them.)
The term “psychedelic” often appears in descriptions of their music—their Wikipedia entry uses that term, for example. I, too, classified their music using this term when first heard them, but the band actually shares little in common with music made during that 60s movement. Persons expecting to hear Nuggets-style jangle like the Cynics or a hard-psych band like Dungen would be in for a rude awakening. Their psychedelic influence appears to have filtered through some of the loopier British pop bands of the early 80s, such as Echo and the Bunnymen or the Teardrop Explodes. Swervedriver likely sipped a little from this same cup.
(This is not to imply that Love Battery actually sound like Echo and the Bunnymen; they don’t. What do they sound like, then? I’ve seen the term “shimmery grunge” used to describe Swervedriver, and that term works with Love Battery as well: the guitars sound grungy, yet they also shimmer.)
Their first release, Between the Eyes, was both a grunge lover’s dream and a record collector’s nightmare: SubPop originally released “Between the Eyes” as a 7” (with “Easter” as the b-side), and over the course of 2 years, it grew into a 10” EP and a full-length LP. The CD version my friend Dave loaned me to extract the mp3s contains seven songs, but the definitive version of Between the Eyes contains ten songs, three of which were culled from their subsequent record’s sessions. I culled my favorite tracks from the EP but am opting not to post the entire record, as it appears to still be available, at least via iTunes.
I recommend ignoring the lyrics. Make sure and visit Love Battery's official home page.
Love Battery--"Between the Eyes"
Love Battery--"Highway of Souls"
Friday, November 03, 2006
Another noteworthy band was Deranged Diction. Mostly remembered as the launching pad for Pearl Jam bassist Jeff Ament, the band also featured Green River and Mother Love Bone guitarist Bruce Fairweather and, once they moved to Seattle, future Swallow singer/guitarist Rod Moody. Their music was fast and pissed off but still less monotonous than your typical hardcore band. They would occasionally break the 90-second song rule and would sneak in the quick guitar solo (and even a bass solo for one song), which would probably annoy the hardcore punk purist.
Originally formed in Missoula, Montana in 1982, the group comprised skateboarding college students and was one of the few original bands in the area. Along with Jeff and Bruce, the band also featured former Renobs singer Tom Kipp and drummer Sergio Avenia. The band performed original material as well as Flipper, Circle Jerks, Black Flag, and Dead Kennedys covers during their live sets. In 1983, the band released a limited edition half studio/half live tape called No Art, No Cowboys, No Rules. The band also contributed a song to the 1983 Mystic Record’s We Got Power compilation LP and the 1984 Bad Compilation Tapes’ Eat Me cassette. Kipp then left the band when they decided to move to Seattle. Tim Healy filled in for vocals during last few Montana shows, and Rod Moody joined the band once they arrived in Seattle. The band eventually broke up in mid-1984, when Jeff and Bruce left for Green River.
Outside of an August 1993 Goldmine article about Pearl Jam’s family tree, Deranged Diction isn’t that well documented. Luckily, I tracked Rod down, and he was kind enough to answer a few questions about the band.
When were you in the band?
Why did the band relocate to Seattle?
I joined the band after they moved, so I'm guessing that Missoula was boring and they were looking to find a more active scene.
What did you think of Seattle's hardcore/punk scene at the time?
It was fine. Lots of fast, loud bands with lots of attitude and little substance. Of course, I'm old now, so I can say that. I was pretty removed from the punk "community" for the most part. Just went to shows, played shows, then jumped on the bus back home to my safety zone in West Seattle. Back then I thought it was pretty amazing though. Once things shifted into metal territory, I lost interest--temporarily at least.
Did the band tour at all?
No, just played Vancouver BC and Tacoma, once each.
Who did you share bills with?
Husker Du, Butthole Surfers, Stalag 13, Boot Boys, Rejectors, Accused, Circle 7, Mr. Epp, Silly Killers, Malfunkshun, Aerobic Death, LockJaw, Spluii Numa, He-Sluts, March of Crimes, Extreme Hate, DSML, and probably a few more.
Mark Arm once said that Diction went from being "one of the fastest bands around to one of the slowest and weirdest." How did that happen, and are there any recordings from this era?
I think he was exaggerating, because apart from a couple of slower songs (one dirge and a couple midtempo tunes) we kept things pretty fast throughout. But, yeah we were leaning toward the direction that early Green River eventually nailed. Jeff was moving away from his early influences like DC hardcore and was immersing himself in Bad Company and Kiss records. I started bringing my songs into the band, some of which were a bit more midtempo punk, and I started playing guitar with them, which crunched up the sound a bit. No recordings from this time apart from a couple of cheapo rehearsal tapes.
Did Tim Healy, Tom Kipp, or Sergio Avenia end up in any other bands?
Don't know about Healy or Kipp...never knew them. I do know Kipp is living in Seattle -- here's a link.
Sergio moved to New York over 10 years ago and began playing jazz with many excellent musicians and drove a taxi in Manhattan. He later moved back to Seattle. Andy from Swallow was playing jazz with him recently, and he tells me Serg is focused on piano now instead of drums.
Why did the band break up?
This is a bit hazy.... Jeff claimed in an interview that he didn't think the rest of the band was taking it seriously. I honestly can't remember what led to the breakup. I just recall us not practicing for a while, and then discovering we were no longer a band. I seem to remember someone else telling me that Jeff was jamming with Mark, and I was like "oh, really?"
Where you any bands in between Diction & Swallow?
Yeah, I was in a bar band playing covers. Mostly tasteful covers, at least.
Any reissue plans?
I've heard rumors, but I'll believe it when I see it.
The below songs originally appeared on the 11 song No Art, No Cowboys, and No Rules tape and were later included on the BCT Eat Me compilation tape.
Borderless Countries Tapes, Schizophrenic Records, and Enterruption (now based out of the very cool Electric Heavyland record store in Wallingford) also reissued the Eat Me and I’m Buck Naked tapes as the Hardcore Amerika–the Reagan Years CD a few years ago. It might be out of print, but you can go here and see if there are any reissue plans.
Mad Props to Rod for answering my questions and go check out the reformed Swallow (we’ll get to them shortly) and his new band, Twink the Wonderkid.
Kill or Be Killed
-- MC Tom
Monday, October 30, 2006
Saturday, October 21, 2006
Formed in the mid eighties as the Dwindles, the band consisted of singer/guitarist Rusty, bassist Lisa King, keyboardist Randy Willoughby, and drummer Jim Hunnicutt. They later renamed themselves Pure Joy after the Teardrop Explodes song and made their vinyl debut with a self-released, self-titled EP in 1986. The four-song EP contained the song "Ocean,” which was played on the long-gone local radio station KJET and included on the Lowlife Compilation LP (Ironwood Records). Welcome to My New Psychotic Dream was supposed to be their debut record on No Big Business Records, but after their financer ran off with the master tapes, it remained unreleased until Flydaddy Records released it on CD in 1994. By the time of this record, Randy had been replaced by future Nirvana soundman Craig Montgomery, and the nine songs are more developed than on the previous EP. While this record was unreleased at the time, the song “Standing on a Bridge” was included on the C/Z records compilation, Secretions (CZ006). The band then stripped down to a three-piece, with future Sister Psychic/Lawnmowers member Andy Davenhall taking over on drums for their next record, the “Now I Know” single on ex-Silly Killer/Chemistry Set member Bryan Learned’s Fat Bald Records (FB11). Popllama released the Carnivore LP in 1989, and Kurt Bloch’s No Three Records put out the live EP, Sore Throte, Dead Goat (N3-10), in 1990. Pure Joy then disbanded, and Rusty went on to Flop who recorded two records on Frontier and one on Epic.
After Flop broke up in the mid 90s, Rusty, Jim, and Lisa reformed Pure Joy and put out two more full-lengths. The Getz, The Worm (The Great Utopia/Flydaddy, 1997) and Gelatin and Bright (Book Records, 2003) were damn fine pop records that were out of step among all the lousy nu-metal bands that were clogging the airwaves at the time. Between Pure Joy records, Rusty also put out a solo record on Book Records and did a Sub Pop single of the month (SP473) in 1999. Rusty currently plays in the band, Llama.
New Psychotic Dream
Standing on a Bridge
Calvin and Hobbes
-- MC Tom
Friday, October 13, 2006
Malfunkshun formed in 1980, when Wood was only 14 years old, and they disbanded in 1988 (they were, for all intents and purposes, a high school band). Although their recorded output was limited to a handful of tracks on compilation albums, they achieved a fair amount of local notoriety. In the early 90s, my brother interviewed Lori Black during her second stint in the Melvins, and she singled out Malfunkshun as among the best bands from that era. (The Melvins later covered “With Yo’ Heart Not Yo’ Hands”; someday, we’ll post it here.)
I feel rather unqualified to write much about Malfunksun; they disbanded very early in the grunge years, and the only songs they released while together were on the Deep Six compilation. Histories of the band can be found elsewhere on the web, but I’m not too certain how trustworthy they are. On the wikipedia page, for example, the writer claims that SubPop opted not to sign the band because they weren’t “Grunge enough.” This claim strikes me as preposterous; they sounded as sludgy as anyone.
However, Malfunkshun also sounded more schizophrenic than their peers: a typical song also included a track of shredding guitar on top of the heavy 70s bottom end, and Wood’s vocal style owed more to glam rock (and, dare I say, hair metal) than to the MC5 or the Stooges. Wood’s love shtick, well, it was a bit unfortunate, but I hate to think that his legacy includes Dr. Seuss hats and glitter. He died at the disgustingly young age of 24 and had already started to outgrow the college campus, fly-your-freak-flag look. Furthermore, the look is almost refreshing: it indicates he didn’t subscribe to adolescent boundaries in taste, whereby one wouldn’t permit himself to like both Kiss and Black Flag at the same time.(Also, in the interests of full disclosure, I should note that I wasn't immune to the freak-flag silliness at that age either. Although I never owned a Dr. Seuss hat, I did play in a band with a song called "Hippie Woman Child" (thankfully, I didn't pen it), and not only did I own a pair of small, rectangular sunglasses, but I also owned a beaded necklace, and I was even known to wear both at once.)
Wood’s death happened just before—literally days—the planned release date for Mother Love Bone’s Apple, their heavily hyped major label debut. His heroin overdose also began a tragic and stupid trend in the northwest, but nobody needs to hear that lesson again. Kevin Wood, the band’s guitarist, later found a reasonable degree of local success with the Fire Ants (with ex-Nirvana drummer Chad Channing), Brad, and Satchel (the latter two of which also included Malfunkshun’s drummer, Regan Hagar). I think I saw the Fire Ants play at Bumbershoot one summer. Whoever it was played absolutely dismal white funk with falsetto vocals. They also smiled a lot; the white funk made them happy. Maybe it wasn’t the Fire Ants. Come to think of it, I probably saw some other band.
An interview with Kevin Wood, can be found here. Also, a movie about Andy Wood premiered at the 2005
The first two tracks come from the infamous Deep Six compilation (C/Z Records, 1986), and the latter two come from Another Pyrrhic Victory (C/Z Records, 1989). Both are long out of print.Malfunkshun--"With Yo' Heart (Not Yo' Hands)"
Malfunkshun--"Stars n' You"
Malfunkshun--"My Only Fan"
Thursday, October 12, 2006
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
The band was originally formed in ‘89/90 by Dylan, future Kill Rock Stars’ head honcho Slim Moon, and Greg Babior in Olympia, Washington. Greg and Slim didn’t stick around long and were then replaced with Joe Preston and Dave Harwell for their debut 1991 recording, Extra-Capsular Extractions. Recorded by Mike Lastra at Portland’s Smegma Studios and featuring guest vocals by Dickless’ Kelly Canary & Kurt Cobain, Earth’s debut confused the hell out most hipsters who were expecting the ‘Sub Pop’ sound. Joe Preston soon left the band for the Melvins, recorded the great Lysol and solo EP on Boner, and then set off to join as many bands as possible. The remaining members (with some help from Laceration’s drummer Joe Burns) then released Earth 2 in 1993, which was pretty much ignored at the time yet has become the definitive drone metal record. Several line up and records later, Earth broke up and Dylan vanished from the public eye. But Dylan couldn’t stay away from the drone metal spotlight for too long and resurrected the band with Adrienne Davis a few years ago and released the great Hex LP on Southern Lord Records in 2005.
Around 1994, some friends and I drove from Bellingham to Seattle’s Velvet Elvis for a Thanksgiving Day Earth show only to find out that band had canceled at the last minute. Since we were already there and made such a big effort, we decided to stick around and watch the other bands. Earth’s replacement was a New York hardcore band called State of the Union and their signer went on a twenty-minute lecture on the genocide of Native Americans in the 1600’s. It was not a fun show and I will carry the disappointment of Earth’s cancellation to my grave. Luckily, a Portland friend taped this solo Dylan Phase 3 era show on his hand held tape recorder at the X-Ray Café a few months later. It’s crude and lo-fi, but if that bothers you then you are a pussy.
Earth – Live at the X-Ray Café
Buy the Sub Pop reissues here.
-- MC Tom
Thursday, October 05, 2006
Seeing Mother Love Bone at Bumbershoot when I was fourteen or fifteen years old was one of the formative moments in my musical education. They seemed to possess all of the swagger and volume of the hard rock bands I liked at the time, with none of the misogyny, tastelessness, vacuity, or Bacchanalian overkill of, say, Guns n’ Roses or Dokken. Hindsight I gained a few years later, of course, corrected my youthful misimpressions: Mother Love Bone didn’t sound like the second-coming of rock; they sounded like the Cult.
However, watching Mother Love Bone in that pavilion and hearing very early Soundgarden the University of Washington station, KCMU, led me to investigate other bands from the region—specifically, Mother Love Bone’s divorced parents (Green River) and newly estranged sibling (Mudhoney). And although Mother Love Bone made the first impression, Green River made the lasting one. I bought the Rehab Doll record first. And when I admitted to my buddy Dean that I preferred Rehab Doll to Guns n’ Roses, he called me a homo or something.
Green River’s Dry as a Bone EP (their best record) and Rehab Doll still hold up pretty well. After giving those records a decade-long rest, I pulled them out not too long ago and found that I liked them even more than before. A good friend loaned me the CD SubPop issued with both records (plus two unreleased tracks), and I’ve been spinning it pretty frequently. In fact, a couple of weeks ago, one of the later songs on Rehab Doll (“Porkfist”) came up on my iPod while I was running by Lake Michigan. It gave me a little lift.
Green River were the first grunge rock stars. Their name popped up frequently alongside those of contemporaries Husker Du and Sonic Youth, and they wrote the first grunge staple, “Swallow My Pride,” which both Soundgarden and the Fastbacks covered. Two guys later went on to jaw-dropping levels of fame in Pearl Jam, but everybody already knows that.
What you may not know is their first record, Come on Down (Homestead Records, 1985). I don’t believe it has ever been reissued, and frankly, beyond Pearl Jam completists, I’m not certain that much of a market for it exists. This record, more than their others, embodies the grunge sound—it’s thick, slow, sludgy, and hard. However, it’s also their least interesting record. They're clearly a young band, still finding their bearings. Except for “Come on Down” and “Swallow My Pride,” I don’t find much to recommend it; furthermore, Green River recorded a superior version of “Swallow My Pride” for Rehab Doll. Still, it’s an important record in other regards (it’s the only one on which Steve Turner appears), and I don’t expect it to be reissued anytime soon.
Incidentally, web reviewer extraordinaire Mark Prindle thinks little of Green River, especially Rehab Doll. His reviews should be taken with a grain of salt; after all, he owns everything that Johnny Cougar ever released. Then again, he also has a jaw-droppingly comprehensive collection of records by the Fall, so he's allowed to love "Hurts So Good" as much as he wants. I mention his page only because I like it.
Finally, a decent entry on Green River can be found on wikipedia, and this Mudhoney page also has a good history of the band.
Green River--"Come on Down"
Green River--"New God"
Green River--"Swallow My Pride"
Green River--"Ride of Your Life"
Green River--"Corner of My Eye"
Green River--"Tunnel of Love"
Thursday, September 28, 2006
Alice 'N Chainz originally formed sometime in the early eighties with Layne on vocals, Nick Pollock on guitar, Johnny Bacolas on bass, and James Bergstrom on drums. In 1986, they went to the famed London Bridge Studios and recorded their first 3-song demo tape. Produced by Timothy Branom and engineered by former Enemy drummer, Peter Barnes (check them out on Killed By 7" 1-5 or Screaming Fists vol 2), the demo features a guest horn section, took them several months to finish, and cost them around $1600. While it's rarely discussed nowadays in the post-grunge and modern day indie rock age, Seattle actually had a pretty large hard rock/metal scene in the 1980s. Metal Church, Queensryche, TKO, and Rail were the big local bands, and bands like Mistrust, Heir Apparent, Myth, Overlord, and Fifth Angel were supposed to be the Next Big Things. Alice N Chainz should then be placed in this hard rock/metal context and not in the post-punk or grunge one, and obviously, their demo sounds nothing like their later recordings.
After Layne joined Diamond Lie, former guitarist Nick Pollock started My Sister's Machine with ex-members of Mistrust and released a few records, followed by Tanks of Zen and, more recently, Soulbender. Johnny Bacolas and James Bergstrom would go to form Second Coming, who still gig and record regularly.
And according to the demo’s thank you notes, if you are “Blonde, Tan, Tastey [sic], And Tight,” the boyz in the band love you lots.
Oh yeah, “Over the Edge” is not the Wipers’ song.
Alice 'N Chainz - "Lip Lock Rock"
Alice 'N Chainz - "Fat Girls"
Alice 'N Chainz - "Over the Edge"
Monday, September 25, 2006
(1) To my knowledge, Bundle of Hiss never introduced a song called “Russian Winter” by attempting to burn a Soviet flag, only to destroy their set’s momentum by failing to get the flag to ignite.
(2) Bundle of Hiss likely never credit carded themselves into massive debt because of a large Aqua Net, smoke bomb, and fish-net stocking budget.
(3) Bundle of Hiss—and this is the most important difference—were awfully good.
I didn’t learn this until recently, when I picked up a used copy of Sessions: 1986-1988, a posthumous collection of most of their demos released by Loveless Records in 2000 or 2001. The CD includes two demos: one from 1986, with original singer and founding member Russ Bartlett, and one from 1987-1988 with guitarist
I didn’t post any songs from the first demo. Barlett’s voice is fine, but the band hadn’t found its bearings yet. They lumber through several sludgy and uninteresting attempts at post-punk. The Lane-era songs, however, contain much more power and purpose. I could give or take Lane’s voice (think Andy Wood), but he managed to marshal Peters and Danielson into a formidable rhythm section. Several tracks are great—really great—early era grunge.
It’s a shame that this band was more heard about than actually heard.Bundle of Hiss--"White"
Bundle of Hiss--"Drown"
Bundle of Hiss--"Rables"
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
Known for their insane live shows (the most notorious show was when they were banned from Bumbershoot for setting a moat under the stage on fire), the U-Men were also one of the first Seattle bands to tour. However, for people like me who didn’t learn about them until Gas Huffer, the band also left behind a great vinyl legacy.
Singer John Bigley, guitarist Tom Price, drummer Charlie Ryan, and bassist Robin Buchan formed the band in 1981. Robin soon ditched the band and was replaced by Jim Tillman just in time for their self-titled debut EP on Bombshelter Records (run by Bruce Pavitt and Russ Battaglia) in 1984. A 2nd EP for Gerald Cosley’s pre-Matador record label, Homestead, soon followed in 1985. The U-Men were also featured on C/Z record’s Deep Six compilation in 1985, along with Green River and the recording debuts of Soundgarden, the Melvins, Malfunkshun, and Skin Yard. Further records include the 1987 “Solid Action” 45 and 1988’s Step on a Bug–The Red Toad Speaks LP, which were both released on Fallout Record’s label, Black Label. Former bassist, Tom Hazelmeyer, also included the U-Men’s cover of the Wheels’ “Bad Little Woman” for the first Dope-Guns’N-Fucking in the Streets 45 and released the posthumous “Freezebomb” 45 in 1988.
During a brief U-Men hiatus, Tom and Charlie also played in David Duet’s (a short-time singer in Girl Trouble) band, Cat Butt. This is the line up that recorded the song, “Big Cigar” on the Sub Pop 200 compilation. Tom and Charlie soon rejoined the U-Men, and Cat Butt went on to greater things on Sub Pop.
After the U-Men called it quits in 1988, Tom Price played in the Kings of Rock (who have since reformed), Gas Huffer, the Monkeywrench, and the Del Lagunas (Gas Huffer’s instrumental alter-egos). Charlie Ryan later played in the Crows, Bottle of Smoke (with David Duet), and the Right On (with Night and Days/Night Kings member Rob Vasquez). John Bigley also sang for the Crows and currently owns the Capital Club and Barca Lounge in Seattle. Bassists Jim Tillman later played in Love Battery, and Tom Hazelmeyer left town and formed the Halo of Flies. Another bassist, Tony “Tone Deaf” Ransom, supposedly moved to Alaska.
All these songs are included on the Chuckie Boy Records retrospective. You can buy it here.
U-Men - Shoot 'Em Down
U-Men - Bad Little Woman
U-Men - Solid Action
Monday, September 18, 2006
I had bought a drum machine and a Fender Jazzmaster guitar and started playing songs by myself and a drum machine. I had a Fender Champ amplifier that I played the guitar through an old Sun Beta Bass amplifier that I would put the drum machine through. I slowly taught myself how to play guitar and had many friends who were great guitarists gave me tips along the way. I quickly put together a few songs and in my mind I could hear the finished product. In June of 1987 I took my 1986 tax return refund of about $500.00 and bought time in a small 8 track studio (Reciprocal Studios) in Seattle’s Fremont/Ballard neighborhood with a friend named Jack Endino--Tad's MySpace page
Below, I noted an early TAD single that had eluded me because of the record store’s collector-level price tag; this was another. (SubPop’s Fuck Me I’m Rich compilation included the two songs, but alas, that is now out of print, and we sincerely doubt that SubPop will reissue it.) We later found a copy on vinyl. But at one time, in one region, this single was very much in demand.
Although these tracks should be credited to Tad the person and not TAD the band, a listen will make it clear that Mr. Doyle had pretty clear musical intentions before recruiting Kurt Danielson, Gary Thorstensen, and Steve Weide to flesh them out. It’s a template for later TAD songs: a steely, almost tribal rhythm section provides the song’s foundation, and a layer of feedback seethes throughout. “Ritual Device” (which a friend considers Tad’s best song) is the quicker of the two, whereas “Daisy” sounds like shin-deep mud, if mud had a sound. Both rock, of course: the former kicks you repeatedly in the chest, and the later pummels you with a tire iron.
TAD lacked Nirvana’s pop sensibility and Soundgarden’s arena rock power and looks, so their failure to achieve anything beyond a respectable level of cult status surprised nobody. However, TAD’s best songs were incredible, and Doyle had personality and humor to spare. Sub Pop created a hell of a myth around the guy by emphasizing that he came from Idaho, dressed like a lumberjack, and had once worked as a butcher. In truth, he studied percussion and was smart as a tack. A long essay remains to be written about TAD’s sense of humor, but I don’t have the time to write it. Suffice to say that the band couldn’t have worked without both sides of his personality.
The nascent Sub Pop released “Ritual Device” in August 1988. Its catalog number is SP19. (For all intents and purposes, the catalog numbers for Sub Pop begin at SP10, so this was the label’s ninth release.) Both were included on Fuck Me I'm Rich, and "Daisy" was also later released on the "Wood Goblins" ep.
Friday, September 15, 2006
Thing is, there was no grunge lexicon. So practical joker Jasper asked the Times to simply give her some terms, and she'd translate them into grunge.
Here's what the Times printed:
bloated, big bag of blotation - drunk
bound-and-hagged - staying home on Friday or Saturday night
cob nobbler - loser
dish - desirable guy
fuzz - heavy wool sweaters
harsh realm - bummer
kickers - heavy boots
lamestain - uncool person
plats - platform shoes
rock on - a happy goodbye
score - great
swingin' on the flippety-flop - hanging out
tom-tom club - uncool outsiders
wack slacks - old ripped jeans
Left, the cruel, petulant prankster Megan Jasper. Top right, the victims of this heinous action.
We actually remember reading this grunge lexicon in Newsweek, who reprinted it not long after the Times piece. It was pretty clear to everyone that somebody had pulled the Times's leg. The Baffler first called public attention to the prank.
Wikipedia has a pretty decent article about "Lexicon of Grunge: Breaking the Code." Jasper tells the story herself in the movie Hype!
If you haven't already figured it out, we actually are a couple of lamestains.
Thursday, September 14, 2006
Three weeks ago, I was hunting around The Hype Machine for the first time, punching random bands into their search engine. I entered "TAD," and to my pleasure and surprise, some blogger had posted mp3s for TAD's split single with Pussy Galore. This took me aback. When I was in my late teens and early twenties, this single would taunt me from the back wall/glass cases at the Cellophane Squares in the U-District and Bellingham.
The surprise was so great that I spilled coffee on my flanel and dropped a heroin needle on my Chuck Taylors.
Coincidentally, my brother (who will also post here) and I had been talking about this very 7" a couple of months earlier. He had gone on a grunge tear at the local record stores, snapping up all of the formerly overpriced grunge records he could find, now that the genre was at a popular nadir. Between those records, the ones we already had, and the stuff that I've unearthed on the Web, we had accumulated a pretty decent collection of records that few people felt they had a use for anymore.
And what better repository of useless records and information than the internet? Thus, the blog.
What will we dump--er, add here? Well, Pearl Jam never did anything for either of us, and they're already pretty well represented on the internet. So there will be none of that. There will also be no Mad Season, no Candlebox, and no Alice in Chains (unless we can figure out a means of digitizing their glam metal demo tape).
Did I say no Mad Season? No Mad Season. We'll basically limit ourselves to rare-ish stuff by the bigger artists and unheard or forgotten (sometimes justly) stuff from lesser-known artists. We also don't want to limit ourselves to grunge, either. However, most of the bands we want to focus on could conceivably share bills with one another.
We both lead busy lives, so we'll likely update lamestain only once a week. The songs will add will be dictated by what vinyl we're able to digitize. We also probably won't give away complete LPs that are still in print.
So, without further ado . . .
"Okay, could we get our dollar back, Bruce?"
Soundgarden: "Sub Pop Rock City" (from the Sub Pop 200 compilation)