THE HARD ROCKING, NO SCHLOCKING CAREER OF SCOTT “DELUXE” DRAKE

SCOTT “DELUXE” DRAKE is an individual whom I’ve proudly been acquainted with for well over sixteen years now; back in my young twenties, his nascent band THE HUMPERS would crash on my floor and back up my toilet every time they came through San Francisco. Given their (undeserved) lack of profile at the time (1991 and 1992), a layperson like me was even given the opportunity to help book them shows at out-of-the-way dives across town, which they of course blew the doors off of. Of course, a limited subset of residents of Southern California had already been thrilling to the rock hijinks and shenanigans of Scott Drake and his older brother Jeff for almost a decade, with Scott in the glamtastic, HEARTBREAKERS-esque punk group the SUICIDE KINGS and of course vis-à-vis Jeff’s fantastic glory stompers THE JONESES. When The Humpers roared in with leather jackets blazing in the hot SoCal sun at the dawn of the 90s, the rest of the planet began to take some notice as well, and The Humpers cranked out several great loud-ass, Cleveland-punk-revering albums and 45s through the rest of the decade. Three of them came out on Epitaph Records not long after that particular label had generated a boatload of cash from several crossover punk rock hits, which enabled the smaller, more true-to-form bands on the label (like The Humpers) to tour to infinity & the great beyond, and to also generate a rabid, if small, following outside of the LA basin.

Eight years later, and after a brief one-album pit stop in a rawkin combo called THE VICE PRINCIPALS, the now-Portland, Oregon-resident Drake is still putting out hotshit new records under his own moniker, with longtime collaborator JEFF FIELDHOUSE (ex-Suicide Kings and Humpers, currently of 8-FOOT TENDER, who put out a 2003 CD with Drake as well). The brand new one is called “GRAND MAL”, and I was so impressed by the keep-the-faith roar of the thing, I reckoned it was time for a Deluxe Drake mp3 retrospective. Here are five love bombs from the man’s storied career – and do keep your eye peeled for the “Grand Mal” CD; it comes out officially on June 12th. (two tracks from it are below).

Play or Download THE SUICIDE KINGS – “Take Yer Medicine” (from 1985 7”EP on Adult Negro records)
Play or Download THE HUMPERS – “Up Yer Heart” (from 1992 CD “Positively Sick on 4th Street”)
Play or Download THE VICE PRINCIPALS – “Snitch” (from 2000 LP “After School With The Vice Principals”)
Play or Download SCOTT “DELUXE” DRAKE – “Grand Mal” (from 2007 CD “Grand Mal”)
Play or Download SCOTT “DELUXE” DRAKE – “Shanghai Cabaret” (from 2007 CD “Grand Mal”)

MARZIPAN – RARE SAN FRANCISCO 90s EAR-GRINDER POP

This 45 from a short-lived San Francisco band never really found a home in the ears of the rock and roll cognoscenti when it came out in 1992, and quite honestly I don’t even know how I came into contact with it. It was probably a promo I received during a time when packages of 45s were a dime a dozen, and most that I got sent (I did a fanzine at the time) were from labels who could afford to blast their records out to anyone & everyone, which usually meant they were marginal-to-terrible. But this MARZIPAN single, on Echonet Records, grabbed me quickly, and it’s still a favorite to this day. First, it’s one of the loudest records I’ve ever heard, despite being an ostensible (garage) pop record. Mastered so far into the red I could barely even record it for you, both “I Believe” and “Last Train To The Sun” benefit from a wall of guitar that defines everything else about the songs – which, at the end of the day, are happy little ditties of simple strum & sunshine. Some might attempt to link it to concurrent UK bands like My Bloody Valentine and the like, but you – you know better.

MARZIPAN were around at the same time as the heyday of Tom Guido’s PURPLE ONION nightclub in San Francisco, so not long after this single came out, I went to see them play to an audience of about 30 there one night. They were great! I went with the head of punk rock label Empty Records, then better-known for slammin’ near-HC bands like THE FUMES or wild garage punks like the SINISTER SIX. He made an attempt to sign the band on the spot, distinct pop leanings be damned – they were that impressive. Several months later the band was gone, and I’ve heard nary a soul speak positively or negatively of them since, which is a shame. Here is their one and only recorded legacy – hope you enjoy it.

Play or Download MARZIPAN – “I Believe” (A-side)
Play or Download MARZIPAN – “Last Train To The Sun” (B-side)

The Mooch

The Jensen part of the Earles and Jensen comedy partnership recently assumed a character, traveled over the pond, and harrassed the Arctic Monkeys for the purpose of creating a viral video YouTube craze. All parties were in on this, though band and management didn’t really understand what they bit off.

Here’s Jeff’s message to the people:

“So as some of you may or may not know, I went Europe a few weeks back to terrorize the Arctic Monkeys. They’re a hugely popular ”rock” band from Britain. Here’s a couple installments of the ”viral videos”. Unfortunately the label and Band’s management and I didn’t see totally eye to eye on this and I feel that most of the truly fucked-up stuff stayed on the cutting room floor due to it’s crude and abusive nature. C’est la vie. There’ll be a few more installments. Feel free to check youtube in a week or so. Query ’Artic Monkeys and Mooch.’”

Check some of it out….RIGHT HERE.


 

The Nashville Teens –Ella James

The Nashville Teens –Ella James/Same (Promo)–UA 50880 (1971 US)

This is an absolute killer version of The Move Song. If anything it rocks harder than the original and features some blistering lead guitar breaks and a wild pounding piano. The single was issued in the UK on Parlophone with Tennessee Woman on the B side. I assume that this was the same version as issued under the Arizona Swamp Company moniker (see review March 28th). Any other great late Nashville Teens tracks out there?

Click on title for soundclip

Gun Crazy

I’m not sure how this one escaped me for so many years. Directed in 1949 by Joseph H. Lewis from a screenplay by MacKinlay Kantor (based on his 1940 Saturday Evening Post short story) and blacklisted Dalton Trumbo masquerading as Millard Kaufman, Gun Crazy reset the standard for film noir and paved the way for the attractive, sympathetic albeit sometimes psychotic antiheroes that showed up two decades later in movies like Bonnie and Clyde (whose real-life characters inspired Gun Crazy‘s lovin’ couple on the run) and The Getaway.

Cinematically, the film’s often expressionistic; its startling and (then) innovative use of extended “backseat driver” takes, shot from within the getaway car, and get the viewer caught up not only in the characters’ predicament but the sexual excitement their larceny generates. And Russell Harlan’s black-and-white cinematography is right up there with his work on Red River, The Thing from Another World, and Blackboard Jungle.

Not again until Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway would the screen see crooks as charismatic as Peggy Cummins and John Dall. Director Lewis told critic Danny Peary in 1981: “I told John, ‘Your cock’s never been so hard,’ and I told Peggy, ‘You’re a female dog in heat, and you want him. But don’t let him have it in a hurry. Keep him waiting.’ That’s exactly how I talked to them and I turned them loose. I didn’t have to give them more directions.”

DO YOU KNOW WHAT IT MEANS TO BE EMULSIFIED?

Well you’re about to find out, courtesy of this insane 1963 soul workout from REX GARVIN, originally released on the world-famous OKEH label. I first came into contact with it vis-à-vis an ace GIBSON BROS cover of the song; later YO LA TENGO attempted it as well, though I am not privy to how that one turned out. I then heard Garvin’s original on the wild “party” compilation LP, “AT THE PARTY”, which is a must-track-down if you can ever find it (I’ll bet Norton Records might still have some).

In the course of my limited research on this song I’ve just now found out that a blog called THE STYPOD has posted both Garvin’s version and the two aforementioned covers. It can’t hurt for the ‘Twang to post Garvin’s version again, can it?

Play or Download REX GARVIN – “Emulsified” (A-side of 1963 45)

April Crumbers

One of the true joys of living in Berlin is the upbeat, positive attitude that is constantly being forced on us lucky inhabitants. A few years ago, there was the memorable academic get-together called The Power of Negation, which was such a groovy time that it had its own program of death-metal bands. Last year, the big art show — sold out, lines, extended because of popular demand, the whole bit — was called Melancholie. This year’s just opened at the Hamburger Bahnhof and the Medical History Museum at Charité, and it’s called Schmerz, thoughtfully subtitled by its curators in English: Pain.

I guess the art part is at the Bahnhof (whose central collection, particularly the Beuys, is painful enough), and the actual infliction-of-pain-and-relief-therefrom part (I hope that last part’s included) is at the Medical History Museum, a place I’ve yet to see. They’re walking distance from each other, across a bridge that was an important German-German checkpoint while the Wall was still up (the Hamburger Bahnhof, being smack up against the border, was maintained, but rarely used: I saw the awful Garland Jeffreys there once, surrounded by a display of vintage airplanes someone had rented the space for), and the path is lined with little poster-kiosks donated by one of the sponsors, Wall Advertising, each of which shows a picture of someone in pain or a means of inflicting pain.

Yup, I guess springtime’s in the air in Berlin, all right!

* * *

In line with the theme of pain, commercial forces are making themselves felt, too. All over town, billboards showing athletes in pain have gone up: woman collapsing into the arms of friends, guys writhing on the ground — all courtesy of Reebok. They’re not claiming their sneakers will keep you from hurting, just urging a little moderation on the exercise front, with their Go Run Easy campaign.

Living, as I do, in a neighborhood in which you can sometimes actually see people exercising — a far more uncommon sight than it is in the States — I have yet to see anyone pushing it much past an amble, let alone collapsing from torn ligaments or whatever. That said, there’s one thing every German jogger considers essential: the proper costume. Back when I lived on the edge of the Tiergarten, I used to exercise walk (just cardio-vascular stuff, nothing fancy) there, and would get the blackest looks of contempt from Germans who’d trot by, clad in hundreds of dollars worth of lycra, spandex, Gore-Tex, Nike, and so on. I had the temerity to wear normal sweat pants and a t-shirt or sweatshirt, depending on the weather. These days, an inspection of the contents of my iPod would, I guess, be another mandatory test — although I don’t own one and hope never to, but that’s another discussion entirely.

* * *

Just about a year ago I wondered about the building on the corner of Torstr. and Prenzlauer Allee, and, thanks to my great network of readers, had the answer almost immediately. Given the ghosts and other Burden of History appurtenances inherent to it, this article (also sent in by an observant reader) ought to make your skin crawl. The thing is, what evidence is there that there’s any demand whatever for something like what these Brits have planned for the building? The last real-estate bubble I lived through, in late-’70s/early ’80s Austin, featured a couple of joints like this, but they went bust practically before they opened (although not before robbing Austin’s great painter/poster artist Guy Juke of about six years’ worth of paintings, in one case). My prediction: despite the noises they’re making right now, the new owners will quietly change their plans and it’ll become mixed-use office and residential space. Meanwhile, just cleaning up the pigeon poop is going to be a major project.

* * *

And on the neighborhood restaurant beat, two additions. Bandol on Torstr. has opened, looking very, very authentically French. However, it’s going to be a long, long time before I set foot in there. For one thing, the menu is only available in chalk, written on the walls. This means that you have to actually be inside the place to figure out what’s on the menu at any given time. Not that they actually want you in there; there’s a huge, thick reservation book prominently placed at the entrance, something I’ve never seen in a Berlin restaurant — or one in my neighborhood, at any rate, and the minute you approach, you start to get the fish-eye from the guys working there. From what I’ve gleaned walking past the place, which I do nearly every day, the prices will run around €40-50 a person, with wine (no wine list in evidence, although presumably once you’re seated you get one). It seems to be doing well late at night with a bunch of West Berlin-looking folks, the sort one used to see around Grolmannstr. in the old days. And, given that the first main dish I saw written on the wall there was a cassoulet made of fish, I’m not in a particular rush to go there even if I do stumble upon the money. Fish??

But I hope they never get a website, because I get about 35 hits a week from people looking for them.

The neighborhood’s other addition is as light and airy as Bandol is dark and crowded. Alpenstueck (no prissy umlauts for them!) opened in a hurry on the corner of Gartenstr. and Schröderstr., hardly a high-traffic area, in a space that was first a jolly DDR chess-club bar which was rudely turfed out to make room for a succession of eye-blindingly awful art galleries, the last of which lasted something like three years, and caused me to dub it the Gallery of Mildly Talented High School Students. I’m not sure what’s going on at Alpenstueck, which is austerely undecorated and offers chairs that look like they were lifted from a high-school cafeteria. They’re not taking any chances by offering southern German food, although I do like the fact that the kitchen seems to be open to the dining room, which is very unusual in this country (although maybe there’s a law against it, knowing the German food-phobias). Dunno if I’ll ever be in the mood for it, with Honigmond so close at hand, and the sourish middle-aged crowd it draws not looking like the most congenial company.

Berlin’s best pizza, too, has, whether temporarily or not I can’t figure out — new quarters for the summertime, at least. Pizzeria la Rustica, the low-priced member of the stunning Muntagnola restaurants, has moved into an S-Bahn bogen on the edge of Monbijoupark. They have more than pizza there at all times, too, so this partnership with the Ampelmann folks looks like a win-win situation. I haven’t checked it out — hell, I haven’t been to La Rustica in a long time, sad to say — but allegedly there’s info here.

Oh, and one last tantalizing sight: the place next door to Kuchi, the “extreme sushi” joint on Gipsstr., which is called — get ready… — “Next Door To…”, has stuck up four articles from a Japanese magazine showing four regional styles of ramen. It’s a tiny space — it’s where M. Vuong started, in fact, all those years ago — but it’d be nice to have another ramen joint in the ‘hood.