Friday, September 03, 2010

TOP 40

(in no actual order whatsoever except for #1 and #2 which are like a combo pack)

1. TOUCH AND GO: The Complete Hardcore Punk Zine ’79–’83, by Tesco Vee and Dave Stimson, Edited by Steve Miller (BAZILLION POINTS). The entire original run of 22 issues, now reprinted in a one very big book. In case you didn't know, this fanzine, the work of two writers Tesco Vee and Dave Stimson, pulled together basically everything that happened in the USA after the Ramones & CBGBs, with the Midwest given its proper place as bands like The Fix and The Necros are covered right along with bands like Black Flag and The Teen Idles. And the UK, Japan, and more are covered too. Anyway, Tesco's so famous that I didn't even really know about the writing of Stimson before getting this book. His low-key pen-name "DS" must not've called too much attention, but now I can see what a great writer this guy was (is?). Plain, tough, honest, and, yes, passionate. Definitely some inspiring stuff here, although as another great music zine writer Jimmy Johnson recently said, "The words in Touch And Go can't be reproduced anywhere in the human language. It's the product of a time and a vantage point that can't be recreated." True, though I'm still ripping off their Top 40 idea for this post... stay tuned next week for the Bottom 40! Aw, forget it, we'll do it right now since it's so obvious: 1. Pitchfork website, 2. Altered Zones website, 3. Best Coast, 4. Best Coast saying "slow my roll" while smoking weed with Freddie Gibbs, 5. Vampire Weekend, 6. MGMT, 7. almost literally any band that sounds like Animal Collective... man, it's gonna be boring to think of 40 of these... oh look, somebody already did it for me! (Actually I like Zola Jesus and Tamaryn alright, and I might even like a couple other bands on that list, but the only other one I've actually heard is Best Coast.)

2. WHY BE SOMETHING THAT YOU'RE NOT: Detroit Hardcore 1979-1985, by Tony Rettman  (REVELATION RECORDS). I've been reading (and in fact editing and publishing) Tony Rettman's writings on hardcore punk since his January 2002 piece on the Killed by Hardcore LPs basically blew my mind and maybe yours too. Now it's almost a whole decade later and Tony's been busy doing various things, such as writing this definitive history of Detroit and Midwest hardcore. Great read, tons of photos and repros, great companion with the Touch & Go book, etc. Interviews with everybody except Corey Rusk, which isn't as big of an omission as you might think... the story of his involvement in the scene certainly still gets told.

3. THE GORDONS 1st LP. Way into the bass on "Right On Time."

4. FUNKADELIC Standing On The Verge Of Getting It On LP (WESTBOUND). From 1974, possibly their 2nd best album, possibly even their best. "Alice In My Fantasies" and "I'll Stay" double shot just basically destroys everything... and if all Side B filler could be as heavy as "Good Thoughts, Bad Thoughts"...

5. TO LIVE IS TO DIE: The Life and Death of Metallica's Cliff Burton, by Joel McIver (JAWBONE PRESS) I don't know if I'd call it a great biography, but this book still does a great job of bringing Cliff to life as a friend, bandmate, and all-around well-adjusted music-lover. Until reading this, I didn't realize just how much his sounds, music, and melodic/harmonic sensibility has inspired me over the years, and how much it is always reverberating deep inside. Also keeping an eye on Jawbone Press... I've gotta read their book A Wizard A True Star: Todd Rundgren In The Studio!


7. METALLICA Ride The Lightning CD (ELEKTRA)

8. METALLICA Master of Puppets CD (ELEKTRA)

9. EDDIE HAZEL "California Dreamin'" on the stereo at Myopic Books.

10. THE BEATLES Let It Be CD (EMI). New remastered version, impulsively bought by Angelina at the counter of a Casey's General Store in Des Moines, IA during a car trip from Chicago to Omaha. Listened to it about 25 times on said car trip and its return... dude I love "The Long And Winding Road"... Sir Paul thought of it as a Ray Charles type song, which makes me like it even more, and wonder if this exists, and of course it does... definitely not as good as the Beatles, mainly because it's too slow...

11. sweet clutch of un-named ROBERT HOOD tracks on a mix CDR, will research and get back

12. RED FAVORITE s/t LP (STREAMLINE) This was slated for LP release a couple years ago on the Spirit of Orr label, but that ended up being a CDR-only edition of who knows how many, and has now been released on vinyl deservedly but quietly by Drag City's Streamline subsidiary. I got mine for a mere $8.99 used at Reckless, but it's a really fine psych-folk record of stony acoustic guitar dreamscapes augmented by carefully applied vocal support and some far-off ingredients that sound like the world's tiniest mellotrons or something. It's been in the works since 1998, and it indeed sounds very much like that year to me, when people still found out about new bands and even upcoming festivals by reading actual paper (or, for the futuristic, subscribing to the Drone-On list-serv) and the first Six Organs of Admittance LP had just come out of the shrouds of Northern California with hand-painted covers... if you were there, you'll dig the Red Favorite LP.

13. FREE s/t (ISLAND) I feel like bassist Andy Fraser doesn't get talked up enough regarding this band. Not only did he and Rodgers do all the songwriting, but he was also the perfect set-up man for the band's power trio sound... his bass lines grooved hard (the most important thing) but also (via tricky upper-register turnaround melodies) covered tons of arrangement space so that Kossoff and Rodgers could really stretch out their respective wailing styles.

14. UFO Phenomenon LP (CHRYSALIS) Possibly my 2nd-favorite Schenker-family hard rock record of the 1970s. (Right now Virgin Killer is still #1.) I'm not sure if Lights Out has aged as well, but this, UFO's third LP and first with Michael Schenker, still sounds great. For me it's ultimately because of their way with a hard edged folk ballad, especially on my favorite numbers like "Space Child" and the glorious "Crystal Light".

15. This YouTube of a rather feral UFO, live in 1975 on Don Kirshner's Rock Concert. Schenker is pretty fantastic in this clip, though Pete Way is a little hard to take with his 'blatantly make love to the lead guitarist' move. I do enjoy the 'laying on back' move, though... he must be totally waysted.

16. CACTUS "Evil, Part One" live clip on YouTube. This should actually be in the Top 5 but I just remembered to put it on here. It was posted on a while ago by sometime Blastitude contributor Charles Lieurance, and it's been haunting me ever since, especially when it gets into Jim McCarty's extendo guitar solo throwdown, backed only by Carmen Appice's increasingly grooving/stomping drums. It starts really getting good around 3:26, and is also particularly unbelievable around the 5:40 mark.

17. PAUL KANTNER & JEFFERSON STARSHIP Blows Against The Empire LP. Got this weirdly heavy album for 4 bucks during a quick nostalgic visit to the most important record store of my life, Kanesville Kollectibles in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Also grabbed TANGERINE DREAM Stratosfear for 4 bucks, which remains a little more oblique at this early stage of listening.

18. BLUE OYSTER CULT "(Don't Fear) The Reaper." Along with all-timers "Vera Gemini," "Morning Final," "Debbie Denise," and new rising fave "True Confessions"... love Allen Lanier's wry lead vocal on that one, his only lead vocal as a member of the Blue Oyster Cult.


20. TODD RUNDGREN Something/Anything MP3s. Cranked while driving around in the 90 degrees Fahrenheit. The reason I'm not too into this Altered Zones type stuff nowadays is that it had already been completely done by 1974 or so, with actual songs, better playing, and much better recording quality. Sure, you could say that this music is simply the new DIY punk response to bloated corporate art rock, but this stuff is also bloated, intentionally, in all of its possible aesthetic choices, while basically saying "Yeah, but I barely wrote a song and then I recorded it terribly" as its only saving grace.   


22. EPMD Best of Mix by Cosmic Strictly Skillz Kev, and lots more Cosmic Kev elsewhere on the same notably Philly-themed blog...

23. DONNA SUMMER "I Feel Love." Live version... don't miss her doing the Robot and the Queen Tut halfway through... this "Last Dance" is cool too, I think from the same concert... basically the closest I can get to enjoying Broadway show tunes... and here's another great clip of a mixing session with Moroder for the Live and More album (1978)... dig her speaking fluent German...

24. THE CLEAN "Point That Thing Somewhere Else." Live version from Syd's Pink Wiring System.

25. EYEHATEGOD "Take As Needed For Pain." This page has the entire lyrics to this song as "Breast Fed From A Dog/Since The Day I Was Born/Severe Allergic Infektion/Lousy Lust Pimp/Narcotic Induced Hypo-Thermia," and I don't doubt that it's correct, even after listening to the song and not being able to really make out any of them.

26. SEALINGS. Here's a band that's pretty lo-fi, heavy, two guys playing guitar and bass to a drum-machine, song titles including words like "dead," "ghost," and "witch"... Altered Zones should be all over this! Could it be, have I SCOOPED the Zone? Anyway, these guys are from England and yes, they are somewhat lo-fi, but they have actual heavy riffs and strong vocals, so it doesn't matter. Driving and detached ("zoned" out, indeed!) and just melodic enough to remind me at times of... Nirvana?

27. Chrissy Murderbot's Year of Mixtapes Week 26: Ragga Jungle. Nice spot around the 50-minute mark when heavy Cutty Ranks "Limb By Limb" remix gives way to what sounds like a chopped-in sample from "Live and Learn" by Alton Ellis, or some other Studio One single... and then a few minutes later Dawn Penn's all-time great "You Don't Love Me No No No" makes an even-more-ethereal-than usual appearance.

28. HAWKWIND Space Ritual. "Welcome to the oceans in a labeled can/Welcome to the dehydrated lands/Welcome to the self-police parade/Welcome to the neo-golden age." 

29. VARIOUS ARTISTS Greasy Truckers Party.  I LOVE BRINSLEY SCHWARZ. (And HAWKWIND.) (And MAN.) (Not so much MAGIC MICHAEL, but sure, why not, him too.)

30. TANGERINE DREAM Frankfurt Universitat 6.19.1971. (live bootleg downloaded from this WFMU page, links may still be active)

31. As always, the first four FAUST albums. Especially the debut, which surprises me every time, for some (wonderful wooden) reason.

32. JOHN COLTRANE Live At The Village Vanguard Again! LP (IMPULSE!) One of the truly sick jazz lineups of all time with Coltrane joined by his wife Alice Coltrane on piano, Pharoah Sanders on tenor sax, long-time bassist Jimmy Garrison, and Rashied Ali on drums. Love the band photo on the cover... what a buncha nerds! Except for Rashied, who looks cool as hell. Anyway, there are two songs on here, old favorites "Naima" and "My Favorite Things," and the band takes them so absurdly out, while remaining so absurdly musical, that it's just mind-scrambling. On "Naima" Pharoah sounds like he's playing his sax inside a giant fishbowl for like six minutes straight. Plus, David S. Ware is on this record... he was in the audience!

33. YAHOWA 13 I'm Gonna Take You Home (from the box set on CAPTAIN TRIP). Wow, no matter how soft your spot may be for the Golden Sunrise album, this is possibly the best Yahowa-related album other than Penetration, and it has a far better cover than Penetration, so you know.... Very raw but well-recorded live power trio jams that actually remind me favorably of their Swedish contemporaries Trad Gras och Stenar. Yod's singing only ruins it in a couple places!

34. DEMDIKE STARE Symbiosis CD (MODERN LOVE) Wow, this is like the 2nd band on here from this decade! I'm getting so contempo! This might even be a "witch house" band, are you with me Altered Zones? Thing is, they are "witch house" without trying, because they're from over there in England, while Altered Zones seems to exclusively promote bands that are really trying hard and have like 7 superimposed triangles per blurry image and/or band logo.

35. TIN MAN Scared LP (WHITE DENIM) Oh hey, this is new too! Also roughly 20 times better than anything ever thought of on Altered Zones. Minimal techno but with completely narco-fogged pop vocals. Like 80s synth pop with a house music twist ... but the vocals are played back at 16 RPM! (Those alt-zoners love it when shit is slowed down! It's totally influenced by DJ Screw! It's just like you've been drankin' dat sizzurp!)

36. SCISSOR GIRLS We Space With Phantoms CD (ATAVISTIC) Released in 1996 but I still can't believe Azita's bass playing, such cool rhythmic patterns over the rock-solid drums by Heather M.

37. INCANTATION Onward To Golgotha CD (RELAPSE). Really good technical but ferocious death metal from John McEntee's long-running Johnstown, PA based band. This is their debut album from 1992, and look how good they still are 17 years later, in this live clip from 2009!

Also, this live in Mexico clip from 2003 has a nice eerie look...

38. DADAWAH Peace & Love LP (DUGOUT) AKA Ras Michael & band, heavy Jamaican album from 1974... don't file under dub, this is deep and slow Nyabinghi-derived groove. Should also actually be #1 on this list.

39. "Regard du Fils sur le Fils" ("Gaze of the Son upon the Son") by Olivier Messiaen. Steven Osborne, piano.

40. LINDSAY BUCKINGHAM "Trouble." I've been in love with this song since I first heard it 29 years ago on the clock radio that sat beside my bed. Drums are by Mick Fleetwood, but according to Wikipedia they only used a 4-second loop for the entire song! I'm actually not sure if that's true listening to it... there are little two-hit pickup fills throughout the song, seemingly in different places. These may have been overdubbed later by someone else, but they sound like Mick's style to me, something he would play live. Either way, I'm not surprised if it is a loop, as the song is such a great example of that subtle new wave technoid feel that was always Buckingham's ace in the hole.

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