Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Kinks - Lola

(Pye, 1970)

German issue… same music, better sleeve (for whatever reason, the Germans typically had FANTASTIC ones through the ’70s). What interests me here is that both this and the French pressing, reviewed below, have the “cherry cola” lyric as opposed to the original “Coca Cola.” My understanding is that the Kinks made this change in order to satisfy the BBC’s policies regarding commercial placement, but was the re-recording in fact used across the board for the 7” release worldwide? Hardly a scandal, but I’m at least mildly surprised that the seemingly stubborn Ray Davies would let the international radio version of his comeback hit be the semi-compromised take, even outside of territories where such concessions would have been required for broadcast. Did any countries get the “Coca Cola” line on their 7”s? The good ol’ United States, perhaps? Lemme know!

Kinks - Lola

(Pye, 1970)

I can remember a grocery-baggin’ period in high school when I would shudder and reach for the dial each time the local classic-rock station trotted this one out, but calendars have changed and so have I, and I gotta cop now to MUCH toe-tappery whenever I hear “Lola.” Undeniable that the song’s instantly memorable, and, for those keen on expending at least minimal brain power on bigger-picture considerations, it DOES emerge from a particularly interesting time for the Kinks. The entire Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneygoround album is a transitional one in that it moves further away from the precious, hyper-conceptual British-isms of albums past by rocking harder (a move hinted at musically on Arthur) while also showing some of the country/Americana influences that would soon dominate the band on Muswell Hillbillies. “Lola” marries these two forward-thinking impulses quite effectively, its big, aggressive choruses alternating with rolling, string-pluckin’ verses, all with a pre-glam gender-bend story slathered atop it. I still have mixed feelings about the way an over-mannered Ray Davies delicately picks his way through the lyrics, but younger-bro Dave’s nasal owl-hoot actually works well here in the background as a complementary vocal part. Also intriguing is the B-side, “Berkeley Mews,” a Village Green Preservation Society outtake that is quite inessential but ends up fitting in surprisingly well – both in its faux-American barrelhouse shtick and sexually-confused lyrics – when paired (two years after its recording) with “Lola.” A relative rarity, the song was mysteriously left off of the late-’90s CD reissues and, on full-lengths, is only easily found on The Kink Kronikles and the 3CD Village Green deluxe set.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Kingsmen - Louie Louie

(Wand, 1963)

The best rock single ever? Maybe. Probably? Sure. No point word-wanking about this one; you’ve heard it ten-thousand times and know the deal. And so do I. Thing’s outstanding, stoopid, and perfect. But the B-side, “Haunted Castle,” has rarely received the attention it’s semi-deserved, it being a woozy booty-shake instrumental that manages to – at the very least – nobly stick its chin above the waterline of party-band competency. Catchy enough, and I always appreciated it when the now-dead Soiled Mattress and the Springs used to cover the thing in concert. The Kingsmen themselves apparently succumbed to ultra-litigious showbiz silliness soon after this 45rpm triumph, but at least we can still luv these two songs for the leering dance-wiggle scum-bash that they were and are. So thanks for that, fellas, and have fun at your next state fair or casino or resort appearance, where you’ll still be rockin’ hard despite, ahem, “several personnel changes” in recent decades that pretty much have you doing things phony-baloney style. Whee!!! And I suppose it’s amusing to note that I’ve spent many trashy hours in the vicinity of the old Wand Records headquarters at 1650 Broadway… these days that address is nestled among a McDonald’s and a Mars 2112 theme restaurant. Now, between that fact and the forehead-slappin’ retardedness of the Kingsmen's intra-band lawsuit-legacy, there are probably some deep and valuable truths or least LESSONS about Rock to be learned, but I’m too lazy to probe for them right now. Hey: time for a beer!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Killdozer - Short Eyes

(Amphetamine Reptile, 1990)

So what’s the deal with that “Featuring Tom Hazelmyer” thingy scrawled across the cover? I’d long assumed that he was just “featured” as an additional player on the disc, but I recently found out that I was WRONG. Oh how wrong I was. Yep, according to an informative interview with Mr. AmRep himself, he was temporarily standing in as THE guitarist for Killdozer while Bill Hobson was out on paternity leave, and during tour rehearsals there happened to occur a recording session that produced the find-em-nowhere-else songs on this single. So that’s interesting. As is this: while the addition of Hazelmyer hardly turns the band into Halo of Flies, there’s more liveliness and trebly elasticity on here than on any Killdozer release in many a moon. Crotch-oriented lyrics on both sides and some floor-rattling guitar on “Short Eyes” offer further guffaws and thrills, but, while a minor (and necessary) departure from the past, neither song is quite up to the sky-high thump-skree standards previously established by the band. Now, don’t get me wrong; I like this record plenty. It’s just that I know Twelve Point Buck, and this is no Twelve Point Buck.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Killdozer - Yow!

(Touch and Go, 1989)

Criticizing a single that has the best song from the best Killdozer album on one side, a superb Janet Jackson cover on the other, and label-chum David Yow on the sleeve is a total no-can-do; this is prime sleaze-grunge, heavy, scummy, and smart. “Lupus” adds horns to the band’s slow, crushing attack, and stars an especially animated Michael Gerald, who weaves summaries of the works of Flannery O’Connor around a genius chorus: “Lupus took the life of Flannery O’Connor / She wrote many books before death came upon her.” Ha! Funny rhyme, true biographical tidbit! The Jackson song, “Nasty,” tops most of what’s on For Ladies Only (where it wouldn’t have fit, thematically, due to those tracks coming from the late ’60s and early-/mid-’70s), thanks to a mostly-synthetic backing and a low, creepy vocal delivery. When Gerald finally breaks the slinky tension and lets loose with his standard growl-yell on the lines “I’m not a prude / I just want some respect,” that’s about as close as you’re gonna get to pure audio gold, mister. So pencil this one in at the top of your handy “to-get” list, and then go ahead and add the parent LP, Twelve Point Buck (which includes “Lupus,” but not “Nasty”) right under that – I’ll stack side one of that album up against that of almost any other record in terms of sheer perfection.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Killdozer - For Ladies Only

(Touch and Go, 1989)

Killdozer had a habit of slapping funny, unpredictable li’l covers here and there on their records, taking familiar hits of the past and, well, turning them into Killdozer songs – which more or less meant sludging ’em up with tons of bass and distortion while Michael Gerald lumbered his way through the lyrics in his Gene-Simmons-as-angry-drunk growl. Anyway, having already pulled this trick prior to ’89 with material by Creedence Clearwater Revival, Neil Young, and Neil Diamond, it probably wasn’t too shocking that the band decided to go ahead and record a full LP’s worth of ugly – yet faithful! – covers. Touch and Go went all out, releasing For Ladies Only in a few different configurations (CD, LP, picture disc LP, and 5x7”), and if you’re of the money-spending persuasion, it’s the fancy 7” set that you’re gonna want to possess, both for its unicorn-themed packaging and the presence of a bonus song included nowhere else. That’s right: not only do you get to hear world-famous standards by the likes of Deep Purple, Bad Company, Elvis Presley, Conway Twitty, Coven, Steve Miller Band, Don McLean, and James Gang as interpreted by beloved Milwaukee hitmakers Killdozer, but you ALSO get their spin on a Buffalo Springfield song AT NO EXTRA COST. And how is this exclusive performance of “Mr. Soul”? Does it live up to the rumbling, beer-addled heaviness of the rest of the collection? I wouldn’t know. The used copy I bought of this rare item was MISSING THE DISC WITH “MR. SOUL” ON IT. So who wants to send me a freebie?


While you prepare to mail me your personal copies of For Ladies Only, I’ll leave you now by reprinting the mini-bio (also exclusive to the 7”s!) that Steve Albini wrote for the band, what with it being a real super-hoot and all:

Killdozer may be a new name on the pop scene, but with their smart looks, peppy “now” beat and penny-perfect vocal stylings, that’ll change soon enough. Killdozer have the exciting sound of today, and on this, their first Dynagroove long playing album, they play their driving beat with a twist: Unicorns.

That’s right, Unicorns. With Unicorns behind them, it won’t be long before people all over the globe are saying, “Killdozer? Fuck me, they’re okay.”

Now lets meet these exciting young men, the spearheads of the hottest new sound on the scene.

MICHAEL, who sings and plays guitar for the band, began his performing career early in life, when he joined his mother, a talented musician and entertainer herself, in an onstage rendition of “Tits Ain’t A Big Enough Word For These, Luv.”

“Mister Romance” (as Michael is known to his admirers around the world) is also a well-traveled, highly educated intellectual whose hobbies include lathework and cat polishing.

As for Unicorns, he likes them. “Yeah, I guess so,” he says.

BILL, who sings and plays guitar for the band, has been on the pop scene for a few years. Folks in the know recognize Bill playing the driving guitar on chart-toppers like “My Generation” and “Flying Purple People Eater.”

“Bill” (as Bill is known to his friends) is, like Jesus was, a carpenter, who would be better off learning a respectable trade like dopin’ and pimpin’.

Bill thinks Unicorns are alright. “Unicorns? They’re alright,” he says.

DAN, who sings and plays guitar for the band, enjoys himself the old fashioned way: by drinking himself completely stupid and smashing up the trailer every night.

“The Thinker” (as Dan is known to people who want to make him feel bad) has pen pals of both genders and a collection of different colored feathers. Some with no blood on them.

What does Dan think of Unicorns? They’re tops! “But not that fucking goat I saw at the freak house. That was a fake,” he says.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Kid Champion - Conscious

(Mint, 1994)

Now here’s an interesting fact for all you fact-loving fact-lovers out there: Know what manner of sexy “schwag” the CIA is handing out at college recruiting events in the year 2009? Psst: I do. Because I obtained it while up in Boston on my business trip last week. And, as you might imagine, the world’s premier intelligence agency is indeed distributing a giveaway well worthy of its high-tech reputation and mindblowing mega-budget. Which can mean only one thing.

A wallet-sized gratuity table.

Yes, friends, the CIA is giving out wallet-sized gratuity tables to the top college students of America, ensuring that they never need to pause for an embarrassing amount of time while trying to calculate 15% or – God forbid! – 20% of their next meal check. An outstanding and thoughtful offering from our beloved spooks. Personally, as one who appreciates the fine work done by the waiters and waitresses of this world, regardless of nationality, I’ll be sure to keep this durable (plastic!) item handy the next time I’m gaming elections in Central America or slipping out for a drink or two near Guantanomo Base. Your tax dollars at work!

Over to you now, Canada.

Hi, Canada here. We’ve got a band called Kid Champion, or at least DID HAVE, back in the mid-’90s, and they, on their one and only release, proved themselves to be a real crock o’ shit. Ha! JUST KIDDING (we love jokes up in Canada)… these folks were in fact kinda OK, more like a “thimble o’ shit” than a full-on “crock” of the stuff. Yeah? I’m saying: Imagine the ultimate Slumberland Records also-ran – complete with ethereal girl-sing and gauzy lo-fi shoegaze aesthetic – and you have yourself a mighty accurate ear-picture of what we’re dealing with on this one. Happens to be a micro-genre I like, though, so I’ll be snide but I won’t be dismissive. Worth a buck? You betcha.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Eddie Kendricks - Shoeshine Boy

(Tamla, 1975)

Kendricks is an ex-Temptations fella, and he’s doling out some sleek, breezy falsetto-funk here, making glossy genre-product intended for mature radio-ears in much the same way George Harrison did (within a pop/rock context) in the late ’70s. It’s fluff, DIG? The B-Side, “Hooked on Your Love,” is from his previous album and at least has a slightly more dramatic, Blaxploitation-esque feel to it thanks to some punchy string and bongo action, yet it still comes off as too slick and superficial to really take hold. Feel free to appreciate the arrangements and the overall, uh, professionalism of these songs, but you’d have to have a pair of mighty virginal ears to actually find yourself rocked and/or challenged by such stuff.

Not all is grumpiness in my world, however, as I received the following exciting items in the mail this very afternoon: Bobby Beausoleil
Lucifer Rising Suite 4LP box; Dan Melchior Und Das Menace Obscured By Fuzz LP; Mayyors 12”; ridiculous Velvet Underground 7x7” reissue box on Sundazed; and, at long last, Forced Exposure issue 7/8. DANG. Sorry, Eddie Kendricks, but you and your scratched-to-all-heck 45 just can’t compete with a nerdy haul like that. SO GET OFF MY TURNTABLE!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Kathode - Kathode

(Denied A Custom, 1996)

Japanese release from these Michigan scruffies, and it’s pretty-OK, pretty-brutal stuff nestled within your standard grind-y framework: short songs, high-screech/low-growl vox, much drum-driven speed. Nothing especially noteworthy about the actual sounds contained herein (though still a fun slab o’ metal), but it is VERY worth noting that the drummer is a teenaged, pre-celeb Andrew W.K., credited in the liners as both “Glaucomanie” and “Andrew Graucoma.” And while there’s little in Kathode’s sound to suggest the bulldozer-pop of Andrew’s post-2001 career, the electronically-screwed speaker-assault of “Return” on side B definitely calls to mind his solo work (Ancient Art of Boar, “Old Man” on AWKGOJ) and his sonic/social/spiritual ties to Wolf Eyes. Considered alongside AAB, the Pterodactyls, and W.K.’s contributions to Labyrinths & Jokes, it’s actually quite amazing how wide-ranging the guy’s interests and abilities were at such a young age… as another piece of the larger career-puzzle, this record makes for a revealing chunk.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Juicy Eureka - Track 29

(Juicy, 199x)

Neil Mackay! Neil Mackay from LOOP! Neil Mackay from HAIR & SKIN TRADING COMPANY! Here? Neil Mackay with uninteresting musical comrades! It’s true, I’m afraid. Juicy Eureka is a major step back from the fucked trance-based hard-rockisms of Mackay’s previous bands, opting instead for a watery sound topped off by his girlfriend’s flat yowl. Faint traces of the much-loved Loop/Hair & Skin narco-pummel are identifiable in the locked-in rhythm section, but the whole thing is utterly – tragically! – lacking in the crucial “oomph” department. It’s tiresome, really. Still, completists will dig knowing that there’s an album out there. Me? I’m not interested. Not at all. That’s what my tattoo says at least.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Tom Jones - Green, Green Grass Of Home

(Parrot, 1966)

On most of his hits, you hear Tom Jones singing and you KNOW it’s that hairy strutter Tom Jones making with the sweet lady-swoon vocalizing – whatever you think of the guy, at least give him credit for uttering distinctive throat-sounds on a regular basis. But this one? This INTERNATIONAL CHART-TOPPER OF (SOME) RENOWN? Well… not so much. “Green, Green Grass of Home” ain’t the Jones I semi-know! Rather, it’s maudlin plastic soul that’s halfway between Dusty Springfield and early Bee Gees, and Tommy’s restrained to the point of facelessness; he needs to be belting songs out, not crooning them. Fat, theatrical Elvis woulda handled this ditty far better and far more convincingly. Aural dirt to be brushed off of one’s shoulder. Next is “If I Had You,” a song coincidentally ($$$$!!) written by Jones’s very own manager, and it happily sounds more like the dude we all know and laugh at, rockin’ and swingin’ as it does like the early Stones if they came up in the Vegas casinos. Which might sound like a jibe or a jab, but casinos can be fun, and the sassy parrot tipping his cap on the swirly yellow-orange label of this single (a la Capitol!) is most DEFINITELY fun. So? Buttons. You sew buttons.