THE DWARVES – “LICK IT / NOTHING” 45

This one just floored me when I first heard it, which occurred the same month or so that I bought THE DWARVES’ “Toolin’ for A Warm Teabag”, an EP that to this day rivals the first RED CROSS 12” for over-and-done punk rock godhead. I was just getting over the first show of theirs I’d seen in late 1988, which I’ll recount for you in a second, but when I got their ‘88 “Lick It / Nothing” single (a UK-only thing on Ubik records), I knew the DWARVES had been total superstars for at least a year following their loud-psych period (represented in the LPs “Horror Stories” and the earlier SUBURBAN NIGHTMARE record). I may not have been present at the creation, but I hooked on early & rode the violent wave for dear life. This single in particular still totally rules. That the band is still alive more than two decades after their birth is a musical abomination, though I certainly understand payin’ the bills.

Here’s what I wrote about the band and this era a few years ago:

Among the top 10 rock moments of my life was the first time I saw THE DWARVES in 1988 at San Francisco’s Covered Wagon Saloon. The band was in full bloom from their transition from horror-splashed 60s-inspired garage band to raging hardcore-inspired 30-seconds-flat punk rock band, but I didn’t know that yet. Expecting a heavy dose of angry, keyboard-driven psychedelia, I instead got a ballistic six song, five minute set with so much crazed misanthropic energy that the small crowd was driven into the nether regions of the club, fleeing singer Blag Jesus with a mixture of terror and shit-eating glee. Jesus would announce the song title (“This one’s called “Motherfucker”, or “This one’s called “Fuckhead”), and it was 1,2,3, panic for the next forty-five seconds. The whole band was totally nuts, but from this day forward my favorite Dwarve – nay, my favorite rock and roller – was bassist Salt Peter, who affected the most ridiculous bad-ass leather-jacketed rock poses you could imagine, a combination of the exceptionally effeminate and the Hell’s Angel-style ugly. I can’t do it justice in words, but the memories are strong. Needless to say, I was more than hooked, and I proceeded to attend pretty much every show they played in SF up until about 1991 or so, when they had convincingly passed into mediocrity and self-parody.

The band’s whole blood/sex/violence shtick was, I maintain, just that: a shtick. Sure, they might have been violent, hateful losers in real life as well, but there was a real tongue-in-cheek spirit and hidden intelligence there that was hard to locate on the surface. When I wrote the band a fan letter the next month, politely enquiring as to where I could find their “Lucifer’s Crank” cassette, I received a very friendly, conversational handwritten note back from Blag, patiently explaining their discography and thanking me profusely for my fandom. He then signed off with a “PS – Go Fuck Yourself”. The next year that amazing “Toolin’ For a Warm Teabag” 12”EP came out, still an absolute high-water mark for screaming, socket-bursting, in the red punk rock music. It approximates that first live show I saw quite well: 6 tracks, about 6 minutes, and every last one of them a killer. Soon thereafter the rest of the world began to find out. When Mudhoney came to town in 1990, a drunken Mark Arm couldn’t stop shouting “The Dwarves! The Dwarves! Fuck you up and get high!” to the crowd throughout his own band’s set – seems The Dwarves had made their Seattle debut a few days earlier, and secured their Sub Pop deal in the process. They also were playing their best new song since “Let’s Get Pregnant” or “Sit On My Face” – the masterwerk, the uber-genius, the supremely rarified “Fuck You Up and Get High”. Unlike so many of the fake-“dangerous” bands of the era (COWS, HELMET, HOLE, BASTARDS etc.), the 1987-1991 Dwarves stand up tall even today. I’ll advance the proposition that they successfully took punk rock as far as it had been taken up to that point, and subsequent blaze-punk bands like the Zodiac Killers are only basking in the mid-period Dwarves’ considerable shadow (good as they are). For reference, I wholeheartedly suggest the 39-track “Free Cocaine” retrospective CD; the out of print “Toolin’ For Lucifer’s Crank” CD, and the incredible (and incredibly rare) “Lick It / Nothing” 45, a thrilling encapsulation of their psych-to-punk transition that finds them right smack in the middle of the operation.

What if the cutout bin of 2010 was a mid-sized city?

Slate ran this piece about Portland being a destination for indie rockers. The title is a slightly misleading. A city being described as an “indie rock mecca” implies that it is choked with fans and bands alike, when this little exercise focuses on established (term used relative to the genre discussed) names…..I hope you have some padding back there…..living next to normal people in a mid-sized city!!! Silly me, I thought that Stephen Malkmus lived in a home made entirely of tropical aquariums, fanned with palm leaves and fed grapes by that redhaired girl that used to be in Verbena. Guess what? You know what’s coming! I haven’t even read the piece.

I will do so now.

I’m back, and I was wrong about Malkmus’ home. It’s just huge. No aquariums.

This passage should irritate the guys in Pond.

If there’s any alluring indie mystique to Portland, it’s most likely due to the late Elliott Smith, who attended high school on the west side of town and recorded his most-loved work here. (Mercer even owns Smith’s old house.) Before Smith, Portland’s primary musical contribution to the universe was the Kingsmen’s “Louie Louie.””

There’s also a chance that it may irritate those tired of hearing about the late Elliot Smith and his marginal-at-best songwriting talents. Yes, it was a depraved tragedy that continues on open-ended (I can envision the first Mumblecore conspiracy/crime film being based on his death).

And let’s peruse this passage:

…it’s probably just proof that musicians like him (Malkmus) moved to Portland for the same reason as the rest of us: It’s easy to live here. In the words of a friend of mine who used to be the music editor at the local alt-weekly, Portland is like a resort community for indie rockers who spend half the year working themselves ragged on tour. You can venture into public dressed like a convicted sex offender or a homeless person, and no one looks at you askew. It’s lush and green. Housing is affordable, especially compared with Seattle or San Francisco. The people are nice. The food is good. Creativity is the highest law. For young, hip Portlanders, financial success is a barista job that subsidizes your Romanian-space-folk band or your collages of cartoon unicorns.

Read the last two sentences and try not to destroy your laptop with a vomit tsunami.

I imagine that it IS easy to live in a community that’s largely devoid of racial variety (they usually make up for this by screaming RACISM!!! at the rest of the country…over such things as the proven fact that 95% of the politicians nabbed in the Tennessee Waltz sting are black). And the people that perpetually walk in from of my moving vehicle, on a daily basis? They are rarely white. These are proven facts. Yet to some, they sound like the rantings of a Grand Wizard of the KKK.

That’s the PCeeeefic Northwest for you.

Lastly, I do not bemoan the sudden Mayor Giuliani-style disappearance of the crustie punks from Memphis’ streets (back around 2001). I did hear rumors of an underground Memphis-to-Portland railroad. The boarding fee was a Disrupt patch and a half a forty.

Slowbone – Oh Man

Slowbone – Oh Man/Get What You’re Given – Rare Earth RES 119 (1974 UK)

Slowbone were an East End combo formed by Barry Hart and Jeff Peters from 60s Psych band Turquoise. They released 2 other singles at the time on Rare Earth: Happy Birthday Sweet 16 and Hot California Beach (under the name Rough Riders). They were also the backing band on the Sonny And The Sovereigns single –School Is Out (also on Rare Earth, check out the October 30th 2006 post ).
Oh Man is a snappy uptempo Teen/Glam/Boogie workout much in the same vein as The Bo’ Flyers or April, while Get What You’re Given sounds more grown up and is in Freaky/Prog/Rock mode and I assume this is more in keeping with the material found on their posthumous Tales Of A Crooked Man and a Live at The Greyhound albums.

Oh Man is bound to bring a smile to your face and get your feet tapping…

Click on title for a full version of Oh Man

10/21 LA- Where The Action Was rock history tour

For immediate release
 
September 18, 2007
 
New Hollywood Rock and Roll History Tour stars Phil Spector and Bobby Fuller

LOS ANGELES- Esotouric, the eclectic collective whose offbeat bus tours expose LA's secret history, returns to founder Kim Cooper's rock and roll roots on Sunday, October 21, when they launch WHERE THE ACTION WAS. This new tour, co-hosted by pop critic Gene Sculatti, explores the musical history of Hollywood and the Sunset Strip through visits to celebrated nightclubs, recording studios, record label offices and other places of subcultural importance.

The launch date is no accident, falling one day before Bobby Fuller, the gifted rocker whose "I Fought The Law" is one of the great singles of the 1960s, would have turned 65. Fuller's mysterious 1966 "suicide" (thought by many to be an unsolved murder) is one of several storylines followed on the neighborhood tour, which also explores the life, the highs and lows of super-producer Phil Spector, the racially mixed psychedelic lions Arthur Lee & Love and the folk-rocking Byrds and their extraordinary entourage of self-proclaimed freaks and go-go dancers.

On WHERE THE ACTION WAS, passengers will make a fascinating journey back in time, from the mid 1960s through the punk era, when Hollywood was ground zero of a series of cultural explosions that started in the music industry, but quickly spread to film, publishing, fashion and lifestyles. The area covered is relatively small, but packed with important spots including nightclubs (Whiskey A Go Go, Pandora's Box, Rodney's English Disco, The Masque), record labels (Capitol, A&M, RCA), teen hang-outs (Ben Frank's, Canter's, Tiny Naylor's) and some familiar locations with unexpected rock and roll connections. Artists featured include Herb Alpert & Tijuana Brass, The Beach Boys, The Buffalo Springfield, The Doors, The Bobby Fuller 4, The Germs, The Grassroots, Jan & Dean, Janis Joplin, Arthur Lee & Love, The Mamas & Papas, The Monkees, Elvis Presley, The Rolling Stones, Sonny & Cher, Phil Spector, Iggy & the Stooges, the Velvet Underground, Frank Zappa & the Mothers of Invention, and many, many more.
 
Illustrated with an elaborate onboard slide show featuring rare vintage photos, album art, concert ads and ephemera, and hosted by a pair of historically minded music fiends eager to share fascinating tales, WHERE THE ACTION WAS is a must for rock fans or Hollywood dwellers who've heard the famous names, but need some help figuring out where is all happened.

The tour visits the unassuming intersection where teens rioted over an unfair nightly curfew (inspiring the Buffalo Springfield's Stephen Stills to write "For What It's Worth"), the hotel where Janis Joplin died, the one-time roller disco parlor where Prince made his L.A. debut, the notorious Continental "Riot House" hotel in which Led Zeppelin partied with teenage groupie queens, the Hullaballoo Club (later the Aquarius and now Nickelodeon), Ciro's, PJ's (later The Starwood), the Troubador, and many more. It explains how Canter's Deli's continued popularity as an after hours gathering spot is directly tied to its willingness to serve hairy weirdos in the 1960s, reveals how Elvis Presley's shopping trip to Wallich's Music City influenced L.A.'s surf and hot rod music scene, and recalls a time when the Tropicana Motel was simply THE place to go for star spotting.

WHERE THE ACTION WAS is a long overdue celebration of the people and the venues that made Southern California the center of the rock and roll world for more than two decades.

The tour will conclude with a snack break at Scoops, the avant garde gelato shop featuring high concept flavors inspired by Esotouric tours. Available for purchase on the tour will be autographed copies of Gene Sculatti's "The Catalog of Cool," Kim Cooper's books and back issues of Scram magazine.

ABOUT THE HOSTS: Co-host Kim Cooper is the editrix of Scram, the acclaimed journal of unpopular culture that over 22 issues has celebrated neglected musical genius, and spawned the anthologies "Bubblegum Music is the Naked Truth" and "Lost in the Grooves: Scram's Capricious Guide to the Music You Missed." Her latest book is the best-selling volume of the 33 1/3 series of little books about great albums, on Neutral Milk Hotel's "In the Aeroplane Over The Sea."

Co-host Gene Sculatti is a writer, editor and music-business veteran whose work has appeared in USA Today, Rolling Stone and Creem. Gene was Editorial Director of Warner Bros. Records and Director of Special Issues for Billboard magazine. His book "The Catalog of Cool" was the bible of pre-internet hepcat exploration. Gene is also author of "Too Cool," "San Francisco Nights: The Psychedelic Music Trip" and "The 100 Best Selling Albums of the 60s."

Upcoming Esotouric bus tour schedule:
Sat Sept 22 – In A Lonely Place: Raymond Chandler's LA tour
Sat Sept 29 – Blood & Dumplings (San Gabriel Valley true crime tour)
Sun Oct 7– Reyner Banham Loves Los Angeles (architecture/urbanism tour)
Sat Oct 20– The Real Black Dahlia tour
Sun Oct 21 – WHERE THE ACTION WAS (rock history tour)
Sat Oct 27 – Haunts of a Dirty Old Man: Charles Bukowski's LA
Sun Oct 28 – Hallowe'en Horrors featuring Crimebo the Clown
 
For more info on Esotouric, visit http://www.esotouric.com

PreKom Krumbs

I’m sitting here waiting for the phone call that’ll tell me that the SXSW crew is in town and it’s time to head off to the ICC to put up the stand in the trade show for PopKomm, which opens tomorrow. So I’ve got a couple of very minor things to post here before that all happens, and I’ll likely have an overall PopKomm post this weekend.

* * *

First, some good news. My favorite street artist, Nike, hasn’t been much in my eye recently because her pieces have started disappearing at an alarming rate. Hell, if I knew how to take them down, I would have nabbed the girl with the green hair not far from my house before someone else got it. But over the weekend, I was up in Prenzlauer Berg, and found the first of her paintings I’ve seen dated 2007 — the latest one I’ve seen til now was 2005 — and the good news is, she’s still painting babes:

Just…not that kind of babe.

* * *

Two more restaurants we won’t be eating in:

Bogus Restaurant, on the corner of Choriner Str., Oderberger Str. and Schönhauser Allee. Since I’ve never seen anyone other than the odd service personnel in here, it may be accurately named.

Restaurant Nemesis, Haupststr. corner of Helmstr. in Schöneberg.

You gotta wonder: what are these people thinking?

* * *

Finally, a quote from the old Dame herself: David Bowie allegedly told people he liked Berlin because it was a “city full of bars with sad and disappointed people.” No argument there, Dave, but I fail to see the attraction.

THE BRENTWOODS, MATRIARCHS OF THE 1990s OLDIES SCENE

Anyone who’s heard THE BRENTWOODS’ 1994 LP “Fun In South City” – and there aren’t many of us, unfortunately – is still trying to get that ringing sound out of their ears & get that leg to stop twitching. I figured it was high time that I posted a few tracks from that album; no full LP from us – what do you think we are, some sorta illegal Rapidsharing site? I wrote a little bit about this on my old blog – so here’s what was said:

THREE CHEERS FOR THE LOST 1990s “OLDIES” SCENE!….Anyone out there remember a San Francisco Bay Area 1950s teen-sound combo called THE BRENTWOODS, who were active just over a half-decade ago? Their profile was so low, despite an impressive pedigree (Darin and Karen, ex-SUPERCHARGER + an ex-TRASHWOMEN & more), that even those of us who were living here pretty much missed them (I had to order their wildly underpressed LP “Fun In South City” directly from the band, who lived about 8 miles from my house). I just digitized their entire 1994-98 ouevre minus one single I could never find, and the whole package is quite a hoot. Comprised of five 45s and an LP, the Brentwoods’ work is not for the audiophile nor for the easily annoyed. Their m.o. was flat-out, full-contact dance party rock, with a heavy tilt toward a mongrelized farfisa-drenched garage punk/good-time oldies mix, all recorded more or less live and on cheap equipment to boot. Lots of screams, yelps and hollers, and you certainly have to love the chutzpah of a band that puts its woefully inept female singer (who sounds like she might be about 15) front and center, and then encourages her to yell herself raw.

The band had an inexplicable attachment to their hometown of South San Francisco, a blue-collar suburb with a decaying bowling alley from which the band took their name. A good two thirds of the songs have references that only an upper Peninsula maven could figure out, including many that mention the cryptic “Buri Buri”, which I believe is a So. SF neighborhood & which The Brentwoods have made into a teen dance of their own. Listening to each stomping, screaming 90 second track, it’s clear there’s really not a lot to figure out here – The Brentwoods were an oldies band, they thoroughly enjoyed going to parties, and they planned to take the USA by storm with dances like “The Bug” and “The Doofus Stomp”. Another key draw here are the frequent vague jabs made at thin-skinned ex-Supercharger guitarist Greg Lowry and his then-band the RIP OFFS. The LP’s cover art alone is one long cartoon about how the Brentwoods and their fans could easily beat up the Rip Offs (cleverly cloaked as “The Riff-Raffs” here) in a street fight. If you loved the calculated no-talent genius of SUPERCHARGER, and it would be hard not to, you just might be able to handle this. Now the trick is getting Radio X (Darin’s label) to get back in business, put it together and push it out to the kids. Good luck!

and

BRENTWOODS : “GO LITTLE SPUTNIK / SOUTH CITY SHINGLE & SHAKE” 45….I professed my undying devotion to this near-mystery mid-90s rave-up party band last year in the pages of Agony Shorthand, and included a veiled whine about the 45 of theirs I was missing. Well what do you know, vocalist Patty up & sent me the one I was missing (autographed!), this after I called her a “woefully inept” singer “who sounds like she’s 15”, She knows and you know I meant it in the very best sense of “woefully inept”. The 45 that escaped me is as pepped-up bonkers & go-go-go as their other ones – quick, bursting with energy and teen screams, and recorded so on the cheap that I’ll bet the session’s donut run cost more than the “studio time”. It also includes the band’s usual array of unfunny but nonetheless charming skits and spoken tomfoolery bookending the two songs. I’ll take it! Hats off to Patty and her crrrrrrazy 90s shenanigans!

Play or Download THE BRENTWOODS – “Buri Buri Bash” (from “Fun In South City” LP)
Play or Download THE BRENTWOODS – “Little Barfy Bobby” (from “Fun In South City” LP)
Play or Download THE BRENTWOODS – “Go Go Shingle & Shake” (from “Fun In South City” LP)
Play or Download THE BRENTWOODS – “Chow Fun San Mateo” (from “Fun In South City” LP)

That music writer that you hate….

Another music writer recently expressed a fear that he might be becoming “that guy that we used to hate.” Specifically, it’s the music writer that can only pull passion, or maybe just general interest, out of old music. We used to make fun of “that guy.” We convinced ourselves that no matter what the future year might be, it would yield amazing new sounds for us to go nutz over.

“l’ll never end up like that. What an old, jaded asshole.”

Well, guess what happened?

BUT THERE IS A HAPPY ENDING TO THIS PHONED-IN POST!!!!

These albums came out this year. They did it for me. AND….I’m leaving some out (not intentionally). AND….we’ve got 3.5 months to go.

Thurston Moore Trees Outside the Academy (Ecstatic Peace) – I can’t review this because I’ve already done so for Vice and The Onion (look for it next week). Great album.

Shocking Pinks s/t (DFA) – Review forthcoming in October issue of Spin. That and, I don’t feel like it.

Liars s/t (Mute) – It’s no “lie” that this is a fine album!!

Pelican City of Echoes (Hydrahead) – Breaks absolutely no new ground, but the damn thing is catchy!! Well, catchy for something that gives off very little emotion.

Jesu Conqueror (Hydrahead) – J.K.B lookin’ healthy for his age!! Granted, he did form Napalm Death at age 4.

Pinback I’m a Humorless Dick (Touch and Go) – First three songs? Unbelievably catchy. I’d like to attribute them to the guy from Three Mile Pilot.

Shellac (the new one) (Touch and Go) – Dunno the title. You know the Earles drill re: looking things up! SOMETIMES I DON’T FEEL IT!!! I’ve only heard a collective four minutes of this album. Clearly I’m qualified!! I felt some rocking within the rigid confines of a Shellac record, where you get what’s expected. It shines with amazing cover art and packaging that exceeds the combined cost of every rainbow bumper-stickered Ford Ranger in the parking lot of a Lisa Lampanelli show. HeyOhhhh!!!!

RELAPSE TRIPLE-SHOT COMBO #5: Brand new albums by Coliseum, Baroness, and High on Fire – Coliseum could probably kick my ass. In the street…not with their music. I like the idea of Baroness. I like that Savannah, GA is on the map. Oh, if I just felt the same about this guy’s vocals….. High on Fire? The only band with a name this bad that I’ve listened to repeatedly…..

 

 

 

Ponys

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Slacker Cats: Second Pass (of sorts)

I don’t remember my first mentioned ABC Family’s Slacker Cats. I could go back through my blog and read the exact post. Because I control the weather here at failedpilot.com, the decision has against any research (at all). I do remember the tone. I didn’t find it especially funny. I found it weird and crude for an ABC Family program with Walmart spots. My first impression of the jokes? Early South Park (pre-good); maybe Family Guy’s pop-culture-references-as-a-crutch. Good news! Slacker Cats has changed for the better, or I’ve lost more of my mind. Your choice. I must reiterate: Cats are the thinking-person’s pet. Please allow five minutes for my trademark critical train wreck:

“Buckley” (voiced by Harland Williams) – The overweight cat. The cat with a heart. Gets along with owner (a single white female). One of two main characters. The flawed hero. Wears a fanny-pack that became a bad punch line. Sleeps under a specially-made “Best Cat in the World” blanket. The still-unfortunate slang “Slacker” does not apply to Buckley.

“Eddie” (voiced by the Ebony/Redbook-approved Sinbad) – The bad cat responsible for the schemes that make up each plot, as well as most of the “adult” humor.

“Dooper” (voiced by Emo Phillips) – Homeless, possibly drug-addicted cat. Lives in a fridge box. Other than my affection for all things CAT, the V.O. is the only reason this post is being written. That and the fact that I’m obviously out of material (saving the good stuff for an upcoming live performance – I spread it thin). Ten years ago, I made a career-killing joke about Emo Phillips. My career…his died in some other fashion.

“Tabitha” (voiced by one of the Desperate Housewives) – Not a Tabby. Fills the batty, air-headed, “all women are crazy” stereotype. Most of the show’s pranks end with her as the butt.

“Mrs. Boots” (voiced by the hilarious Niecy Nash, a performer rocking the previously unknown void created by the need for a poor-man’s Wanda Sykes) – Fills the all-hefty-Black-ladies-are-sassy-and-act-like-underpaid-student-loan-customer-service-employees stereotype.

Why am I doing this? Why was it allowed to go this far? Did I just write all of this? Lisa Lampanelli is enjoying her first appearance on my TV (I’ve yet to endure the female Don Rickles, the white Carlos Mencia), I have a couple of deadlines burning a hole through my brain, and I’m absolutely beat ragged…..

 

 

The Casuals –Tara Tiger Girl

The Casuals –Tara Tiger Girl/Nature’s Child –Parlophone R5959 (1972 UK)
Tara Tiger Girl was sandwiched between The Casuals’ Decca period and The Witch on Dawn in 1974.
The Casuals at this time were most likely Ex-World of Oz Chris Evans and his Kansas Hook/ American Jam Band cronies in full-on Pure Pop mode. Nature’s Child also appeared as the B side of The American Jam Band’s American Jam single.
Tara Tiger Girl is a fine Psych/Pop number very much like The Move circa 1968 albeit with a vocalist sounding a lot like Anthony Newley in very tight loons! The tune is damn catchy anyhow, with some nice Psych touches. Enjoy the fun!

Click on title for a full version of Tara Tiger Girl