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PIGSHIT: Ten You May Have Missed In 2019

PIGSHIT: Ten You May Have Missed In 2019
So even though Tarantino’s latest failed to put Paul Revere or his Raiders back up at the Toppermost of the Poppermost, and American Funnyman Neil Hamburger’s long-too-awaited Still Dwelling seems to have passed totally under the fryer, the Pig Player this past year was kept busy as always spinning, alphabetically as always…   

 

 

 

ALEX CHILTON
From Memphis To New Orleans
(Bar/None Records)

“Alex Chilton created a unique body of work when he emerged from a self-imposed exile in the 1980s” says the handy sticker on the shrinkwrap, and this stellar assortment more than ably covers each of the man’s bases, musical and otherwise. From the vengefully autobiographical “Lost My Job” to the Zappa-sharp “Guantanamerika” to, yes, the covers (a fine Brian Wilson-fashion “Let Me Get Close To You” plus a “Little GTO” that would impress Ronny and his Daytonas) there is something here for every ear …as was, more often than not, Alex’s wont in life. Personally, the real revelation to me was the anything but celibate “No Sex” guitar work, the “Dalai Lama” meets Alley Oop – hearing is believing – almost – and, most comi-tragically, how with just a twee bit of a tart-up “Thing For You” could’ve been one of Hall & Oates’ most ginormous-ever chart-toppers …sparing our hero from months of pushing brooms, washing dishes and trimming trees had only, alas, song met singers. “A solid collection for the super fan as well as the new listener,” to quote that sticker again? I’d recommend everyone steering this collection From Memphis To New Orleans to your player of choice asap.       

ALAN CLAYSON AND THE ARGONAUTS
Sol Nova
(Hookah Records)

After a performance last August by the one, the still only Alan Clayson at the Half Moon in Putney (I myself caught a Neil Innes show there a few years ago …but I digress) a gentleman claiming to own a record company expressed interest in immortalizing the man’s quite legendary “Sol Nova” upon ten inches of 21st Century vinyl. “While I was civil enough to him,” Alan reports, “I’m sufficiently battle-hardened by the business to expect nothing and be pleasantly surprised if it turns out he wasn’t talking crap. And, he wasn’t! He seemed to be someone with more money than sense – and I like people like that.” Or, as the official Hookah Press Release perfectly states, “On rare occasion a bright object will appear without warning in the night sky. This might be a sol nova; a star that, via a side-action of radio activity, has mutated suddenly into a celestial behemoth, swallowing and destroying all the planets in its orbit. And their inhabitants. Alan Clayson and The Argonauts have expressed this horror via a single of space-rock persuasion. Please try not to faint.”

FLAMIN’ GROOVIES
Between The Lines: The Complete Jordan/Wilson Songbook ’71-81
(Grown Up Wrong! Records)

Jordan/Wilson as in Cyril and Chris, that is. And while that musical team may for some inexplicable reason still not find themselves uttered in the same circles as Jagger/Richard(s) and, dare I say it, Lennon/McCartney, this above-superb compendium of shoulda-been-Big-BIG-hits from their Golden Decade sets records completely straight in a wholly, well, Groovie way. From the smartly Small Faces “Let Me Rock” clear through the too-bad-the-Ramones-never-got-a-stab-at “So Much In Love,” it’s plain this material, while planted in the past (eg: “Teenage Confidential” is the best song Gene Clark never wrote, while “Yes I Am” encapsulates the entire Aftermath LP in two and a half minutes flat) adroitly set the stage for the power popping paisleys of the Eighties and Nineties to come. Honestly, I still remember how absolutely floored I was when the magnificently Merseybeating “Yes It’s True” and especially “You Tore Me Down” first appeared upon my Pig Player 43-or-so years ago: I put my own band together within a week. P.S.: Also not to be missed in any way whatsoever is Grown Up Wrong’s I’ll Have A… Bucket of Brains collection of all the Groovies’ original, mainly Rockfield recordings from A.D. 1972. All together then, that’ll make four – count ’em! – versions of “Shake Some Action.”

JOHN & YOKO
Above Us Only Sky
(Eagle Vision)

Just when you thought there was categorically nothing left to see, let alone hear, about John Lennon comes this unexpectedly revealing study of J & Y circa 1971. Ostensibly a fly-on-the-studio-wall charting of the Imagine album sessions – quite possibly the most (over?) documented five days in recorded music history – Above Us Only Sky veers into all sorts of fascinating directions; most intriguingly into the backstories of both Yoko and John… which explains not only why the two got together, but why they stayed together. These 113 minutes also illuminate, as never before, the sly yet festering radicalism which lurks, not just lyrically, beneath much of the “sugar coating” which John later described, in perhaps attempting to excuse, the finished product’s orchestral gloss. Speaking of which, of particular note throughout is the ubiquitous, perpetually sunglassed Phil Spector: “a very heavy presence” in the understated words of Sounds photographer Kieron “Spud” Murphy. On much the other hand however is the vintage ’69 Bonus footage of John, Yoko, and Apple publicist Derek Taylor (!) busking “Oh Yoko!” in a Bahamian hotel room. Who knew Mrs. Lennon could be so skilled at harmony singing?!!      

LIBRARIANS WITH HICKEYS
“Black Velvet Dress” / “Alex”
(Big Stir Records)

For anyone out there who may still, for some unfathomable reason, question the power and the glory of the three-minute four-chord p-o-p song done right, “Black Velvet Dress” will in no way fail to raise you off your settee and shove things direct towards the nearest Volume UP knob. “I heard you were giving a funeral today” may indeed be the first words voiced here, but what follows instead is a deceptively cheery deep breeze through all the brightest and the best of a circa-’78 playlist from your most trusted music geek’s audio closet. Nostalgic? No. The word would be “timeless.” N.B.: stay tuned for the coda too. Meanwhile, “Alex” sports the exceptionally ethereal sheen of, say, the Springfield or even Who at their most subtle and nuanced …and the concluding 30 seconds are just about the most gorgeous I’ve spent all year. Oh! and Hunt down then repeatedly hear these Librarians’ “And Then She’s Gone” b/w “Until There Was You” as well. And let’s all hope their long-promised full-length album isn’t much longer overdue.   

 

KIMBERLEY REW AND LEE CAVE-BERRY
Enjoy The Rest Of Your Day
(KL Recording)

And on the subject of pop done right, connoisseurs of the jangle genre, while already well acquainted with Mr. Rew’s renowned past will be as tickled as I at the breadth, bravado, and downright panache he and Lee pack into this singularly unassuming little disc. Donning their Blue Caps straight out of the gate on “Flat Cat,” rollicking towards The Great Lost Buckingham Nicks gem “Jess,” the two can make one incredible string band (“Angel On Earth”) one moment, then with “Sad Case” ricochet with precisely the kind of Northern beat ballad last heard on your fave rave Hollies B-side. Lee’s “Backing Singer Blues” places her 20 feet from stardom, certainly, but in a less bitter, more sweet way while “All The Colours” and maybe even the T.Rex-y “Sister Cow” demonstrate a most fruitful future awaits K & L if ever they should decide to explore the wide wild world of children’s entertainment. No, really! These songs are exhilaratingly all-ages, you bet, but with a keen eye and ear towards the canny sophistication which comes with musicians and songwriters who’ve been around. All the way around. And don’t it feel good?    

“THE ROLLING STONES ROCK AND ROLL CIRCUS”
(ABKCO Films)

As the onslaught of over-boxed (not to mention all too frequently over-hyped and -priced) 50th Anniversary Christmastime Commemorative Issues roll onward and outward, how refreshing to hear – and see! – a package that more than deserves its place not only in socio-musical history, but right up there on your nearest collectors’ shelf too. This exquisitely restored and bountifully expanded edition of the Rolling Stones’ sorta-ill-fated 1968 all-star-and-then-some television spectacular is worth treasuring today if only to savor fresh commentary tracks from Mick and Keith, Marianne and Yoko, and director Michael Lindsay-Hogg …not to mention a bonus trio of additional Taj Mahal performances and even a Dirty Mac rehearsal of the latest Beatle B-side “Revolution.” Nevertheless, when all is said and sung, it remains The Who and their still-incendiary-after-all-these-years “A Quick One While He’s Away” that continues to steal the show; “for a brief moment it seemed that rock ‘n’ roll would inherit the Earth,” as no less an authority as official Circus chronicler David Dalton reminds us.    

 

SEX CLARK FIVE
The Orange Album
(Records to Russia)

It’s getting harder each and every decade to “miss” our beloved SC5, as they inch ever so closer to genuine mainstream underground acclaim and success: Now, in a mere 40 (!) minutes, are 23 (!!) good 2019 reasons why. Including “The Orange Album Song” (clocking in at 0:44), “Feel Too Hard” (adept vocal counterpointing), “Leni Riefenstahl,” “Jeanne d’Arc” and “Merchant of Venice” (acute melodic name-dropping; the latter complete with transcription sampling), “Those Days Are Gone” (psych!), “Cosmic Brain” (power!), “Home at Last” (pop!!), “Danielle” (I love the Honeycombs too), “Girl” (beats the Beatles’), “Hold On” (beats the Hermits’!), “Another Glad Life” (should’ve ended up in that Queen movie), “Dark Age Saint” (should’ve ended up on Disc 4 of the Kinks’ new Arthur box) …and I have still left a full ten other tracks thoroughly unaccounted for! Yes, James Butler and Rick Storey have produced yet another album which, remarkably, remains unfailingly loyal to their very own style of sound; as unmistakable today as it was in, unbelievably, 1985. If you missed them then, don’t miss them now.

SQUIRES OF THE SUBTERRAIN
Radio Silence
(Rocket Racket Records)

Our noble Squire may have taken ’018 off, but he’s back …in all of his “recorded in the basement on analog gear” splendor. And you know what? This whole project seems, and surely sounds, positively soused from start to finish. But, in the kind of way that might make even the 1972 Raymond Douglas Davies green with ARLD. Tracks titled “Fever Eyes,” “Whiskey Closet” and “Tequila And Gin” provide clues, of course; not to mention the “Last call, Harry Nilsson!” aroma ’round “Too Much Of A Good Thing.” Elsewhere though, there’s the “8th Wonder Of The World” (yep, it’s the eighth number of the program) which should immediately be sent David Lynch’s way, the severely alt. country – even Hank Hardwood might appreciate – “Shadow,” and the Bradley brothers’ brass-propelled clean outta Nola and into the swamp “House Of Ghosts.” Add a shot of Speedy Keen on the title track accompanied by the most, um, mischievously tuned pianos this side of Quadrophenia and the Radio Silence becomes truly deafening.    


JOHNNY THUNDERS    
Madrid Memory
(Cleopatra Records)

Had I been anywhere in Spain on the evening of June 14, 1984, I would have made damn sure I was right there cheering on everyone’s favorite Doll as he and veteran partner-in-grime S. Sylvain hurled themselves through this typically shambled set of classics, soon-to-be-classics, and Grade A clunkers to boot. Introduced with simulated lightning and, yes, thunder, then the dulcet tones of “Pipeline,” a JT resplendent in his finest Dr. as opposed to Sgt. Pepper matador finery kicks off with an expertly ragged one-two “Personality Crisis”/”Too Much Junkie Business” slap before settling into the slipstream of things, Madrid-style. That means a shot of “Tequila” mixed with the “Just Another Girl” guitar solo, Sylvain ravaging his portable 88’s for a Booker T. by way of Terry Adams “Green Onions” I kid you not and, ladies and gentlemen, Jerry Nolan beating beautifully during “Don’t Mess With Cupid” especially. Break the merriment with an interview segment featuring, and I quote, Composer and Painter Carlos Berlanga, Music Producer, Manager and Starmaker Miguel Angel Arenas and three-quarters of the Zoquillos Punk Rock Band, follow with a four-song acoustic encore featuring a flamenco “Eve of Destruction” (!)… all memories you can put more than your arms around. Then, for even more fun, Don’t Forget to check in to Room 37 on your way out.

 

 

 

 

 

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Featured Review

PIGSHIT: TEN YOU MAY HAVE MISSED In 2018

Lindsey Buckingham got kicked out of Fleetwood Mac (again), The Monkees made their first-ever Christmas album (!), and I am still waiting for that big Turtles Battle of the Bands Commemorative Special Anniversary Collectors Edition. In the meantime though, I remained happily singing along beneath headphones to (in strictly Alphabetical order)…  


EDGAR BREAU
Edgar Breau
(Flying Inn Recordings)

Understandably kept quite busy piloting Simply Saucer since his Patches Of Blue in 2012, this marvelous return to root launches from the man’s consistently astonishing acoustichords into realms only hinted at on previous releases. Meticulously, beautifully recorded by Jordan Mitchell and Adam Bentley at their TAPE Studio, the often haunting aural landscapes – evident often during each track’s decaying moments, so as to ensure the listener’s listening – support and perfectly compliment the album’s deceptively tranquil lyrics. And Edgar’s eye, not just ear for detail has rarely been as keen (“Days Of Golden Sunlight”) nor as sharp (“Mount Idaho”); even when cast with W. B. Yeats (“He Wishes His Beloved Were Dead”)!  Kim Deschamps’ pedal steel adds ideal touches, to the N.ville North of “Martha’s Back” for instance, and Colina Phillips’ vocal harmonies are of course, and I quote, knockout. Not since my most recent digital encounter with Johnny Dowd have I spent such a fulfilling three-quarters of an hour with the lights out, and the campfire slowly fading.       

 

“D.O.A.: A RIGHT OF PASSAGE”
(MVD Rewind)

Celebrating, if that’s the correct word, the 40th (!) anniversary of the Sex Pistols’ ill-fated inaugural tour of the U.S. – and subsequent implosion – this more-than-bountiful Blu-ray + DVD edition contains still-incendiary mosh-eye footage of John Paul Steve ‘n’ Sid wow’ing (all the while confusing, baiting, and too often inflaming) the unsuspecting denizens of Atlanta, San Antonio and Dallas et al, then heads to the very heart of the matter – the decaying rot of James “No Future” Callaghan’s once Great Britain – to watch Generation X record “Kiss Me Deadly,” ex-Pistol Glen Matlock’s Rich Kids attempt a pretty lame “Pretty Vacant,” and X-Ray Spex, the Dave Clark Five of the New Wave, belting out their cheeky “Oh Bondage Up Yours.” The bonus Punk Documentary That Almost Never Was featurette (actually, it’s longer than the main attraction!) is absolutely Required Viewing as well, if only to discover the hidden connection between p-u-n-k and High Times Magazine, followed by – wait for it! – vintage footage of Barbara Walters interviewing Malcolm McLaren.  

 

FLAMIN’ GROOVIES
Fantastic Plastic
(Sonic Kicks/Severn Records)

Technically a 2017 release, which didn’t arrive at the sty til early oh-18… but it’s still not a minute too late to miss! Jumpin’ just like the Groovies we all know and will always love, right off the bat “What The Hell’s Goin’ On” shakes solid not-so-slow death, maximum mid-range on each and every guitar with the rhythm a compressed Wall of Deep Sound. Even when riding NRBQ’s “I Want You Bad,” or their ol’ Bay Area Beau Brummel pals’ “Don’t Talk To Strangers,” the impressively intact C. Wilson/C. Jordan vocals most notably retain a sense of substance and style which has punctuated this band for (how can it possibly be?!!) fifty-plus years and counting. Sure, while the retro MAD Jack Davis/Beatles ’65 packaging may well point direct towards the Larry Williams bass beneath “Crazy Macy,” the “Street Fighting Man” licking “Let Me Rock,” and the wonderfully Flamin’ Springfield “She Loves Me” – to say nothing of the big beat ballads “Lonely Hearts” and “I’d Rather Spend My Time With You,” Fantastic Plastic bends, not buckles with the undeniable durability and strength of the Flamin’ Groovies …NOW.

 

THE JIMI HENDRIX EXPERIENCE
Electric Ladyland
(Legacy Recordings)

As the boomers – or at least their hearing – slowly but surely all f-f-fade away, what remains of the recorded music industry scramble to squeeze the last remaining blood off the tracks of warehoused catalog items prior to shuffling them permanently out to audio pasture. Hence the ongoing onslaught of Deluxe Remastered Super 50th Anniversary Numbered Limited Special Signed Commemorative Collectors Editions of each and everything from that White Album to Big Green Village Pink on down. But! One such big bonus Yule box deserves a fate much better than play-once-stick-up-on-some-shelf; in fact, its contents have aged not one note since first appearing upon countless turntables a half-century ago. Produced and directed in true cinematic fashion by Jimi alongside studio savant Eddie Kramer, a 2018/19 visit to Ladyland is every bit as mind-boggling and, yes, ear-shattering as it was circa ’68. And its Electric extras, including demos, out-takes, grungerful Hollywood Bowl concert plus expanded Making of Electric Ladyland Blu-ray only serve to enhance and enlighten this bona fide classic. Why, even its original Jimi-approved (but never used) front cover has been reinstated: another example of how this is one 50th Anniversary done entirely right.

JOHN & YOKO
Imagine / Gimme Some Truth
(Eagle Rock Entertainment)

And! Not to be one-upped by that above-mentioned White anniversary, the Lennon quarter of our forever Fab equation is more than fairly represented by these 152 (!) minutes of gorgeously upgraded sight and sound, centered on and around the recording of his most popular-ever long-player. The original 1972 Imagine film – the world’s first “video album” as it turns out – is still a joy to behold, guest-starring Dick Cavett, Jack Palance, George Harrison and, ever the debonair perfectionist, Fred Astaire …though it’s still not entirely clear who that man and/or woman wandering around London in a black bag is. 1999’s Gimme Some Truth: The Making of John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ Album is just that; to watch things getting, um, testy as Phil Spector tries voicing his high “Oh Yoko!” harmony in the Lennons’ right-by-the-kitchen Ascot Sound Studio is, as Yoko says, “home cookin’.” Self-indulgent, ultra-big-budget glorified home movies, you say? Well, I say Where else are you going to be able to watch Miles Davis shooting hoops with John Lennon as Andy Warhol skulks in the shadows with Jack Nicholson, shooting off Polaroids?!

 

CHRIS RICHARDS AND THE SUBTRACTIONS
Peaks and Valleys
(Futureman Records)

Barely a minute into this disc and we’re already thoroughly, willingly submerged by every single Vox-happy, ooooh-ahh’ing, tom-tom’d beat; long a specialty of Chris’, but the first we’ve heard from this incarnation of his since 2012’s Get Yer La La’s Out. And now with Andy Reed – yes, he of Bay City’s Reed Recording facility – on board, the musical team is complete, and completely compatible. Andy’s keyboards, be they a Wing-y Moog on the “Weekend,” dash of Mellotron (“The Coast Is Clear”) or strings “Wrapped In A Riddle” color but never overwhelm he and Chris’ angular axes and luscious vocals. Yes, those vocals! Meanwhile, “Maybe That’s All” is the BEST track Cheap Trick hasn’t cut …yet, and “Call Me Out” stars guitar lines worthy of, dare I compare, ex-Mac Lindsey. But it’s throughout the four infallible minutes of “In A Sense” all of these Subtractions’, er, pluses ring finest as Larry Grodsky’s drums pitch against, then wash amongst the 6-strings, Todd Holmes’ lock-step bass, and (speaking of Bay City again) wholly Roller-worthy backing choral. Bonus Points are due too towards Chilton/Bell’s “Thirteen”: it takes a big band to tackle Big Star, but it’s just one of many many peaks Chris has hit herein. As he regularly does.     

SEX CLARK FIVE
Mrs. Von Braun You’ve Got A Lovely Daughter
(Records to Russia)

Four songs, Seven inches, Nine minutes: my still favorite strum ‘n’ drummers from Alabama offer vinyl obsessives ample reason to heave their latest too-big-stickered Record Store Day hauls off the turntable, making way for something altogether groove-ier. Track-by-lovely-track then, the final 30 seconds of “Saint Barbara” would not have sounded a tad out of place inside a Saucerful of Secrets or even The Who Sell Out, why “Quasar” wasn’t chosen as The Big Bang Theory theme I’ll never know, cue up “Painting” if you ever wondered what Del Shannon (!) produced by Joe Meek (!!) would’ve sounded like, and “Paper Rock Saber” takes a mere three-minutes-five to flawlessly encapsulate those first four Doors albums …with Sexier lyrics and vocals, it should go without singing. Which reminds me: Their grand new Live! album (SC5 in NYC for CMJ on 11/1/91) should be grabbed ASAP as well. “A typically out of control show,” in their own wide words.

 

LANE STEINBERG
Lane Steinberg & His Magical Pony
(Lane Steinberg)

Leave it to Lane to again provide me with just about the fun-nest, most rewarding forty minutes I’ve spent (after taxes) all year. This time ’round and ’round however, the man is joined by a stellar assortment of fellow DIY-at-home writers and players: R. Stevie Moore, Irwin Chusid, the remarkable David Grahame and, for a splendidly understated little trio of Broadway-bound trinkets, the piano of Tot Taylor. One screen over, “You’re Not Connected To The Internet” sports a decidedly dial-up sound, “Everyone Thinks I’m Happy Now” rests upon one phenomenal cat indeed, “Crazy As A Shithouse Rat” must certainly be The Title – perhaps even Zeitgeist? – of The Age, and “Another Early Autumn” with perhaps even “Portofino” makes one won-won-wonder why Lane isn’t writing (for starters) Brian Wilson’s next couple of albums. After all is said and sung, I will conclude by saying “Magical” only begins to describe the ever-melodious goings-on in and around this astounding collection …and, come to think of it, this one too.

 

TODD AND JINGYU
Find Me Find You: A Story
(Todd Lerner Music)

Delicate yet disarming, always enchanting yet occasionally striking; purely adjectively speaking this seemingly merry skip down a romantic trail belies the over ten years it took to write and record. For not a solitary word or chord is ever overwrought or self-consciously labored. The piano-focused à la Left Banke Michael Brown/Odessey and Oracle Rod Argent arrangements – which, most cleverly, build and bloom as the album progresses – remain sparse, while often nuanced (the vocals especially). Speaking of which, Jingyu and Todd’s voices mix, match, then will overlap and counterpoint …the better to subtly conjure the musical dialog their dance relates. Then, as in “Everything Is Good,” a simple whistling “da-da-da” can, and does, suffice. Then, a minute later, “Where It Goes” demonstrates a remarkably complex, though again seamlessly tossed-off mastery of time and tempo. Find Me Find You is truly unlike anything I have heard this year; I now hope you hear it soon yourself. P.S.: and, as the couple themselves suggest when cueing up the tracks, “if one listens in order they tell a fully-integrated story on finding romantic love.”    

 

“WHITE LACE AND PROMISES: THE SONGS OF PAUL WILLIAMS”
(Curry Cuts)

For those who may have in 2018 – or, for that matter, 2019 – question the very concept of the “tribute album” (not to mention the compact disc itself), I would suggest even a cursory listen to any of the twenty-three tracks on this downright delight-filled, yes, tribute to iconic songwriter / singer / actor / supreme 70s talkshow guest Paul Williams. Everything about this endeavor, right down to Craig Dorfman’s rock and roll reporting introductory notes reflect much, much love within its labors. As its subject unquestionably deserves. From the Davenports’ “Evergreen” clear through Brandon Schott’s “I’m Going To Go Back There Someday” the material, as challenging as it may be stands not only the test of four decades’ time, but also the approaches, often whimsical yet always respectful, each participant offers. And while several bravely recast, as in “update” I suppose one could say (Cait Brennan’s “Old Fashioned Love Song” and even more so XNYMFO’s “Dangerous Business”) the existing templates, wisely none ever stroll too far from the indelible, impactful originals. Even Sitcom Neighbor, as they take my All Time Fave PW tune “Out In The Country” straight back to America …as in Gerry, Dewey etc. that is. Paul Williams is most deserving of such a talent-heavy nod, of that there can be no doubt. Thankfully, Andrew and all at Curry Cuts have now produced it.         

 

by Gary Pig Gold

 

Categories
Features

PIGSHIT: IF YOU CAN FIND IT, BUY IT.

It was two score (that’s forty years) (I think) and several tens of thousand dollars ago (of that I’m sure) that I decided to get into the Record Business. For real. (Sort of.) I mean, Frank Zappa, Frank Sinatra, even those Beatles had their own labels. Why not me ??!

So armed with nothing but a basement full of innocence and ambition, not to mention several unwitting pals with pockets much deeper than mine, I spun my proto- (fan)zine The Pig Paper off into – you guessed it – Pig Records, and one momentous afternoon in June of 1978 several dozen fresh-from-an-unsuspecting-Capitol-Records-of-Canada-pressing-plant-during-the-graveyard-shift boxes of 45’s landed on my doorstep. Last time I checked, original copies of these discs, “with picture sleeve and rare two-sided printed insert,” go for several dozen dollars – U.S.! – over there on eBay. Yet I actually have three or four M+ copies left (without the insert though) stashed in a closet upstairs. Get in touch and I’ll make yez a deal, ok?

In the meantime, with the more than able assist of Treat Me Like Dirt: An Oral History of Punk in Toronto and Beyond author Liz Worth, let’s properly commemorate the 40th Anniversary of those seven little inches that could, shall we?   

Our Cast of Characters:

Edgar Breau – Vocalist and guitarist for Simply Saucer

Kevin Christoff – Bassist for Simply Saucer

Chris Houston – Bassist for the Forgotten Rebels, and so much more!

John Balogh – Hamilton promoter, comedian. The two not necessarily being mutually exclusive

Stephen “Sparky” Park – Guitarist for Teenage Head, Simply Saucer and the Loved Ones

Tom Williams – Co-founder of Attic Records

 

not to mention yours quite truly GPG – Founder of The Pig Paper, then Pig Records.

Plus I was also one of the Loved Ones’ other guitarists it seems.

 

Edgar Breau: Sometimes I felt like if you were loud – if your songs were short, fast, loud, and ugly – it was a pretty good fit for what was going on. It wasn’t as wide open in terms of what genres bands could play within their own set. Now I think it’s really opened up. Back then, it was just a little bit more narrow.

Kevin Christoff: We didn’t sit down and consciously try to write punk stuff. And a lot of songs that came out of that period, if anybody heard them, probably went right through them if it wasn’t their style, or if it wasn’t the kind of thing they were wanting to hear.

GPG: This would have been late 1977, into ’78. We decided we were gonna record Simply Saucer. You see, I’d been carrying around for years in the back of my mind the first discussion I ever had with Steven Davey of The Dishes: One momentous night he hands me an advance copy of their first EP Fashion Plates to review. I open up the sleeve, pull out the record… but for some reason I don’t see Columbia or Warner Bros. or anything at all like that on the label. Well, it turns out The Dishes had put this record out THEMSELVES. “You mean, you can do that? In Toronto??” Steven said “Sure! All you need is a tape, tell them what you want on the label, then you take everything out to this place called World Records in Oshawa,” I think it was, “and they’ll do the rest.” That definitely put the bug in my ear to start Pig Records someday, someway.

Kevin Christoff: When it came down to choosing the single, “She’s A Dog” was a conscious decision. The song was popular in shows. It’s memorable in a very simple way. Whenever we’d play a lot of people would call out for it, so it seemed to be a logical choice. 

I think it’s more pop than punk, personally.

GPG: We held a charity corn roast up on Hamilton Mountain to raise money to make the single. We were going to go into Grant Avenue Studio, Daniel Lanois’ soon-to-be stomping grounds, but we couldn’t afford it. I guess we didn’t sell enough corndogs. So the only other recording studio available in Hamilton was in this guy’s basement.

Edgar Breau: I think the guy’s name was John Boyd. It was not a great studio at all. It was a mistake to record there.

GPG: The second we start, John’s saying “IT’S TOO LOUD!!!” And I said, “Then you just pull the faders down. You’ve got to capture this. You don’t want to turn them down. They’re not the Eagles; they’re something else.” Long battle short, he just barged upstairs at one point and said “You mix the damn record.”

Kevin Christoff: It was kind of funny. I guess the guy got supremely disinterested in what we were doing because he ended up leaving us pretty well in charge. He went up to watch the hockey game or something like that, ha ha ha, which suited us fine.

GPG: Next I remember taking the tape into Toronto for mastering, and the guy had no idea. He said, “This is distorted.” I said, “I know.” And he reached for some knob – “I’ll fix that.” And I go “Well, no, you can’t; it’s supposed to be distorted.” He goes, “But you actually have distortion on tape!” I said “I know. And it took a long time to figure out how to get that, by the way.”

There was a day when they wouldn’t have cared so much. Those first Who and Kinks and even Stones records still sound amazing, even though to many people they’re such quote unquote terrible recordings.

Chris Houston: It was so hard then because these people would go into a studio, and they wouldn’t connect with the studio. So you’d have these horrible records of these great bands, and you wanted to love the band…

GPG: It was hard in those days to put out your own record. It took a lot of effort and money to press a thousand 45’s. Then mailing them out to all the fanzines and record reviewers and college radio stations, and anyone else you’d tracked down who you thought might be interested.

To help get the word out a bit more I decided to plaster as much of Toronto as I could with flyers announcing The Very First Simply Saucer Pig Record! But I thought I’d be smart and use wallpaper paste instead of staples; that way, our handiwork couldn’t get so easily ripped down off all the telephone poles. So I brought along my friend Martin E-Chord, who handled the paste bucket as well as played lookout, and by the time of the first train home in the morning we had the downtown core pretty well covered. Or should I say plastered.

I wasn’t all that smart though: by the time we got home the Metro Toronto Police had already called my house. “You have to come tear all your flyers down.” Seems the cops were already pretty familiar with anything “Pig.” They knew where I was. 

John Balogh: A lot of those bands, at the onset, didn’t realize they were in the School of Hard on You. We all felt like we were the underdogs, and we were typically the underdogs. We were the bands that radio didn’t play, television didn’t show, and we were the unspoken at the dinner table.

GPG: But I did it because it was fun, and because I thought Edgar and the band deserved it.

And you know what? I can remain extremely proud to this day that I was the only person who managed to get Simply Saucer onto vinyl at the time. Since then, many, many others thought that maybe they could’ve done a better job of it, and believe me I would’ve been right there to help in any way I could if that had happened. But no one else at all stepped up to bat. No one.

Kevin Christoff: But, we got some good reviews over the single. We got some positive press on that. Some people maybe didn’t like it, but you get that, right?

Stephen Park: There was something in Record Mirror that compared us with the Who and we just were floored. We couldn’t believe it! But that was somewhere in England, and it just seemed so inaccessible. We didn’t seem to be able to capitalize on some of the interest that the single was generating.

GPG: Cub Koda – remember “Smokin’ In The Boy’s Room” by Brownsville Station? – he loved Saucer. He gave “She’s a Dog” an amazing review in Goldmine, about how all the “dog, dog, dog”s in the chorus were driving his wife crazy. But how to make best of all this press that was coming in from literally all over the world? I was just one guy, with a bunch of Sharpie pens and cardboard mailers, working out of the basement.

Tom Williams: But most people were like one- and two-men operations. They didn’t have the distribution, they didn’t have the know-how, there was no support system in terms of national radio, national television; newspapers tended to ignore the local acts, there were no consumer music magazines that meant anything – a couple of trade publications that didn’t mean a lot. It was kind of a baby industry, really. I mean, it really was a bunch of people playing Let’s Make Records! I think we were pretty naïve and we said “We can do this,” and if we’d actually known what the stumbling blocks were we probably wouldn’t have.

But we did, and I think that’s always the way. Because when you’re young, you can do anything. In theory.


www.GaryPigGold.com

(EDITOR: To find out just what has been going on with Simply Saucer since that time period, check out the website for the band. And to check out the music from this particular piece of Canadian music history, check out the video below of “She’s A Dog” from Simply Saucer.)

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Featured Review

Gary Pig Gold Celebrates Mothers Day …50 Years Later

The first Friday of most every month throughout 1967 and into ’68, I was formally excused from school so that my mother could take me all the way into Toronto for orthodontic appointments. As due reward afterwards, I would be treated to a tasty french-fry-and-chocolate-milk lunch in the sumptuous Eaton’s Department Store cafeteria, then left for an hour alone in the adjacent Music Department while dear mom ran her errands elsewhere.

Gawd, I truly was deep in pre-teen heaven in there, believe you me: Guitars – just like the one Tommy Smothers played on TV every week! – lining each wall, while right over there were more record albums gathered alphabetically together in one place than my wide young eyes had ever ever seen. 

But it was while methodically flipping through that “Misc. M” bin one innocent Friday in search of the latest Monkees long-player that I came across an image which shook me to the very core of my hitherto safe, sound, Micky’n’Mike-loving spine:

A foreboding, dark purple sci-fi sky shot through with lightning bolts, beneath which were strewn an above-motley crew of comic-book cut-outs (some of whose eyes were obscured with sinister black bars!) And in front of all that stood what appeared to be a group of bearded, ugly, definitely NON-Monkee-looking men wearing… wearing dresses and standing by a mess of rotten vegetables which for some reason spelled out the word “mothers.”

Subconsciously at least, I recognized this was sort of, for some reason, like the picture on front of my latest Beatle album. But I also instinctively gathered something BAD was afoot.

So for the next several months, as if revisiting a decaying body rotting in the back woods or the scene of some other such crime, I’d patiently let Dr. Shanks, D.D.S. rip around my mouth, rush with Mom to scarf down some Eaton’s fast-food, then creep back towards those record racks to check if …IT… was still hidden there. Why, one grave Friday I even showed the offending, but somehow alluring record jacket to my mother (who, immediately sensing things untoward indeed, said “put that down, Gary. We’re going home.”)

Flash forward a couple’a years:  By now, my comparatively straight teeth and I were enrolled in the local high school, specializing in Fine Arts and pouring over my latest charcoal still-life when the most incredible music suddenly burst from the record player at the back of the room. It was Eric Shelkey’s turn to bring vinyl in to accompany the day’s lesson y’see, and Eric, being by far the most freeeky, out-there student in all our Grade 9 Specialty Art class (I mean, the guy wore little round eyeglasses just like John Lennon, and his hair actually reached below his shirt collar!) certainly did not disappoint with his choice of music. Yep, instead of the usual docile strains of Tommy Roe or, at worst, Blood Sweat and Tears, the room was this morning filled with fully-stereophonic snorks, wheezes, electronic noises (much like those the microphone made in the auditorium downstairs when it wasn’t working), and some creepy voice which kept whispering “Are you hung up?” over and over again.

Understandably I suppose, just like my mother had back in Eaton’s music department, our usually pretty patient art instructor Mr. Pollard walked quickly to the back of the classroom, turned the volume all the way down, removed the offending twelve inches from the turntable, inserted it back in its sleeve, and told Eric he could pick his record up after class, thankyouverymuchnowpleasegetbacktoworkeveryone. Of course, me being me, I made sure to follow Eric out into the hall afterwards to find out the name labeled onto the middle of this wondrous, forbidden twelve inches. Most obligingly indeed, but being careful to check both ways first to see if anyone was looking, he pulled the album slowly from his portfolio case.

AND THERE IT WAS. That same diabolical image which had haunted my post-orthodontic Fridays all those years ago! 

Winking most conspiratorially, Eric invited me over to his place to listen to the entire record that day immediately after school. I naturally began saving up my allowance and bought my OWN copy a couple of months later, locked myself in my room… and it would be quite some time until I ever listened to Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn and Jones Ltd. – or anything else, for that matter – quite the same way ever again.

I couldn’t say it then, but I surely will now:  Thank you, Frank Zappa. Especially for your music. Especially for that one particular album released a full half-century (!) ago this very month.

 

 

 

 

www.GaryPigGold.com
 

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Featured Review Reviews and Suggestions

Gary Pig Gold’s TEN YOU MAY HAVE MISSED In 2017

Lindsey Buckingham and Christine McVie released a new CD – together!, Chuck Berry released his last CD, and Jan & Dean’s REAL Filet of Soul finally arrived …after a quite, well, fishy 52-year delay. Nevertheless, I still found ten more vintage-2017 gems to recommend to each and everyone. In, as always, strictly alphabetical order they are: 

 

 

 

THE BEACH BOYS
Sunshine Tomorrow
(Capitol Records)

Conventional misinformation always had it that, soon after Brian Wilson lost his great big SMiLE in 1967, he retreated for a decade or so beneath the covers of his Bel Air bedroom. In truth, the Beach Boys simply followed him there, built a studio downstairs, and got straight to work writing and recording several of the finest albums they, or anyone else for that matter, produced as those Sixties slowly turned Seventies. The proof of this fine period of work begins with the two-and-a-half hours (!) of studio and live material from ’67 Sunshine Tomorrow contains, focusing primarily on sessions which begat the Smiley Smile, Wild Honey, and ill-forsaken Lei’d in Hawaii albums. Audio savants Mark Linett and Alan Boyd do their usual stellar job restoring and refining the Boys’ original work …so much so that an additional 138 – I kid you not – tracks from the time, released recently as two digital-only companion compilations, are worth your undivided attention, and frequent listens, as well.  
 

 

 

ALAN CLAYSON AND THE ARGONAUTS
This Cannot Go On…
(Rush Music)

Superlatives such as Legendary, Heroic, Lionhearted, Maverick, Icon(oclast) are being tossed ’round far too indiscriminately these days, but in the case of Alan Clayson, and his Argonauts’ first utterly new album in three decades, they really only tip the sonic iceberg so to speak. For instance? Had songs such as “The Refugees” and “Looking For A Monday” found their way on to any Roxy Music record, I might just have given B. Ferry the time of day after all. Also “Angelette” lolls in precisely the mode of shepherd’s pie balladry Ray Davies once served, “I Hear Voices” may at last be The Great Lost Saucerful of Secrets Bonus Track we’ve all been waiting for, and “Lone Cloud” sends Donovan Leitch scurrying deep into Joni Mitchell’s nearest ice cream castle. Later, Alan’s old chum John Otway adds theremin to “The Local Mister Strange” – get this one over to Simply Saucer asap! – and “If I Lost You” could’ve, would’ve, should have been one big hit single …especially if “Teenage Runaway” ended up on its flipside. Oh! and in the 7-inch dept., could this here “Landwaster” be the same Claysong which appeared on the Argonauts’ Virgin vinyl debut circa 1978?! Somehow stacking perfectly strangely alongside the Sex Clark Five’s latest [see below], maybe Rock ‘n’ Reel Magazine said it best when declaring that, quote, Somewhere there is a parallel universe where Clayson and the Argonauts are (dare I repeat it?) Bigger than the Beatles.

FLAMIN’ GROOVIES
Live 1971 San Francisco
(RockBeat Records)

For those far from the know, the Flamin’ Groovies were one of “those” bands who may have sold too criminally few records back in their day (1969 through ’79, very roughly) but had, and have, an impact FAR above, and light years beyond rote chart positions or ticket grosses. Proof? Close your eyes, bask in the delightfully semi-fi quality of this vintage fifty-three-fifty and you could be perfectly excused for thinking CBGB circa Son of Sam as opposed to that wascally Bill Graham’s Fillmore in the equally terrifying age of Jethro Tull and Tapestry. Launched with a much-needed wallop of Shepherd’s Bush to the Bay Area via “I Can’t Explain,” our night jumpers take one “Sweet Little Rock ‘n’ Roller” to show Keith R. who the real, as opposed to “New” Barbarians really are, wrest “Shakin’ All Over” clear out of – guess who? – Chad Allan & The Expressions’ grip as, c/o Roy Loney, they “get down with” a touch of pure Vincebus-worthy Cheer …and, speaking of turning air into cottage cheese, flawlessly insert an intermediate seven minutes into “Road House” which bring all new meanings to “raw” and “power,” believe you me. P.S.: At about mid-point Roy introduces “a new song; it’s gonna be on our next album,” and out pours a “Slow Death” which, as it always did and continues to, takes a mere five-and-a-half minutes to exile those Stones, for starters, clean off any main street we’d care to roam. Cap it all with 480 full seconds of “Louie Louie” before the Groovies go “Walkin’ The Dog” clear into proto-punk-power-pop-whatever immortality, and all that’s left to do next is for you to go reach for their new album too. Got it?      


RICK HARPER
debased
(HiVetiver Records)

Hard to believe it’s been over 30 years now since this most esteemed, fully self-contained singer/songwriter/arranger/engineer/producer/multi-multi-instrumentalist first entered this Rock and Roll Reporter’s headphones. And this collection of, according to the liner notes, demos sent to the Library of Congress for copyright protection etc. is a treat even a long-time listener as I wasn’t completely prepared to gulp this year. Right from the proverbial get-go (Track 01: “I Just Wasted Another Day”) Rick’s turn of phrase, to say nothing of chords, twist and turn yet still always excite and astound. Yes, this is one disciple who spent more than his fair time beneath all the latest Capitol and Columbia releases back in the day. The subtle yet superb moves upon the mixing board – on that Master Volume during “I Sank” for example – matched with the typically, ultimately triumphantly Harper rear-view of life (“You Sold The Harp”) and lust turned to rust (“It Was All Wonderful”) keeps far more than the ear engaged. Then there’s “But It Never Did”: rarely has derailing sounded quite so, um, on track. And the concluding “The Dane” honestly just has to be heard …nay, READ to be fathomed. So! Far from wasting any days, as 01 may claim, debased shows Rick not only maintaining his standards, but remaining in the process as prolific and prodigious in 2017 as he was back circa 1987. And, I should know.  


CURTIS KNIGHT Featuring JIMI HENDRIX 
Live At George’s Club 20 (1965 & 1966)
(Dagger Records)

“I’d like to let everyone know that this is being recorded live here at the fabulous George’s Club 20,” frontperson Curtis Knight claims right off the bat (“Fabulous??” laughs his guitarist “Pretty Boy Jimmy James”). And “This,” says the accompanying booklet, “is what Chas Chandler heard when he first encountered Jimmy James in the summer of ’66.” Now, a half century later, we hear a curious but most enjoyable – at times even illuminating – glimpse into the audio closet of a bona fide pioneer honing his craft …in what I’m sure all involved thought at the time was the privacy and security of Hackensack, New Jersey. Sure, there’s de rigueur slops across “Land Of 1000 Dances” then, with the bassist a full half-step sharp (!) for the first 30 seconds, “What’d I Say” (though Jimi manages some “fabulous” variations upon Uncle Ray’s lyrics here and then there); meanwhile Curtis, on “I’ll Be Doggone” and especially “Ain’t That Peculiar” demonstrates he’s certainly no Marvin Gaye. But what salvages it all, and then some is, not surprisingly, Jimi’s six strings. “Get Out Of My Life Woman” absolutely hints at the style, substance, and majesty the world would soon, er, Experience in a little over a year, while “I’m A Man” and “Driving South” together provide a fiery, downright savage eleven minutes that makes this trip back to Hackensack wholly worth it. “Eat that guitar,” Curtis cries at one point. “He’s doin’ it with his teeth, y’all. Eat It! EAT IT!” He does. And it’s spectacular


RICHARD X. HEYMAN
Incognito
(Turn-Up Records)

If the names, songs, and/or sounds of Terry Melcher, Michael Brown, Emitt Rhodes, Bernard Webb, Steve Lillywhite, Phil Seymour, Ron Flynt, C. J. Ramone, Dino Danelli, either Pernice Brother, “Guitar Keith” Allison, Richard Manuel, Ben Gibbard, Jimmy Greenspoon, Eddie Kramer, Sufjan Stevens, even Phil Ochs mean anything whatsoever to you or your record collection here in 2018, you would be more than well advised to immediately sort one-man-wonder Richard X. Heyman’s 12th (!) release into this lofty company without question or hesitation. Period. It’s truthfully no surprise to these here ears that, just as on his previous eleven albums, the playing on Incognito – all by Richard, practically all by himself – is measured yet spirited, the arrangements, both instrumental and vocal, even more so (nice to hear those acoustics, Richard!), and the melodies… the melodies! Just check again some of those synonymous names I dropped above to give you but an inkling of what’s been thoroughly achieved on this disc, and the levels to which it, and Richard, without doubt belong. Exclamation point!      

 

 

ROLLING STONES
Sticky Fingers: Live At The Fonda Theatre 2015
(Eagle Rock Entertainment)

For those still making Strolling Bones, Steel Wheelchairs and/or World’s Oldest Rock and Roll Band jokes I could occasionally – occasionally, that is – empathize while watching the DVD portion of this concert package …particularly as the groove flops then flats out altogether during “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking”: won’t you come home, Bill Wyman! And while we’re on the subject of ex’s, Mick Taylor’s guitar could have resuscitated “You Gotta Move” and “Wild Horses” within two or three bars. But enough of my yakkin’. “All Down The Line” and “Bitch” could be performed as heartily by NO other septuagenarians within my reach, I never thought I’d live to see these Stones entice “Sister Morphine” out of bed, and about that other Mick you say? Straight after warning the Fonda Theatre the band’s about to play us Sticky Fingers “in the order of the 8-track tape” (then teasing, or perhaps threatening, to bring Satanic Majesties on stage as well one of these anniversaries) he launches into a quite solid hour of leaps, bounds, sweeps and, yes, sways – vocal and otherwise – that are a true miracle to behold. The man has still gee-oh-tee eye-tee, I swear. Yet I must also quibble at the way the black-and-white faux-backstage interview clips are ruthlessly razored in to, and haphazardly amongst the concert footage itself: there’s a reason someone invented the Bonus Menu, you know. But stick squarely with the audio-only disc of this fine From The Vault edition and I’ll be sure to meet you all back here in time to review Black and Blue: Live 2025.           

   
SEX CLARK FIVE
Ghost Brigade
(Records to Russia)

In the grand tradition of Chad & Jeremy’s “Progress Suite,” or perhaps even that first Nirvana’s Story of Simon Simopath, my forever favorite band from Huntsville, AL have, utilizing seven primary characters – including God, a cavalry troop, World War I soldiers plus various vandals and mercenaries – plus 23 songs, and all in a record 46-minutes-13 produced not a Rock… gawd, no… but a genuine Strum and Drum opera! Most likely the world’s first, in fact. With music as if Joe Meek had heard an even newer world, and in the concluding forty seconds of “Christmas Truce” a soaring, divine, altogether heavenly choral I do hope to hear piping out of each and every shopping mall come Xmastime 2018 forward, Ghost Brigade is now destined to spend far more time occupying my better senses than, say, that great big 50th Anniversary Pepper boxtravaganza. Why, my Brigade even came equipped with a full-color 16-page libretto! As Sex Clark James Butler explains, “It has a hero, a heroine, a good guy and a bad guy, love denied and love conquering all. What more could anybody want?” To which co-SC5 Rick Storey helpfully adds “It even has a plot, I think.” 

 

SQUIRES OF THE SUBTERRAIN
Slightly Radio Active
(Rocket Racket Records)

Barely a year has crept by since, hmm, could it really be 1998 that a Christopher Earl creation hasn’t lodged for many an hour upon the ol’ Pig Player, be he solo or in total cahoots with other wild wonders (e.g.: Big Boy Pete or even Hank Hardwood!) Because there’s always so much in each release to hear, be buoyed along with and, yes, marvel at you see. “What Was That” you ask? Well, this disc’s very first 30 seconds say, and set it, all. Up. Dueling riffery and oh, those ahh’s. By a minute-thirty we’ve added trashy Trashmen drums and Entwistle-y trumpets, only to be sprinkled with some swarmandal and loopy Linda McCartney moogery. Nice looonnnng fade, too. Elsewhere, “The Last Rose (Of The Season)” may at first glance plant an XTC in its pear tree while “Letters To Heaven” arrive via the far-Left Banke, “Fireworks In Her Eyes” ends our wait for that fourth – or was it fifth? – Buffalo Springfield long-player and “Around The World (Of Hurt) In 80 Days” sports an actual five syllable lyric. And why “Eventide” didn’t feature beneath the credits of some seventh season Mad Men episode I’ll NEVER know. Yep, Mr. Earl, after all these years, definitely remains my main Squire. Become Slightly Radio Active yourself and make him yours.

 

“TO LOVE SOMEBODY:
THE SONGS OF THE BEE GEES 1966-1970”
(Ace Records)

One of the great joys of the post-mixtape age – even though we had to scale down from 90 magnetic to 80 digital minutes – was the speed and ease with which compilation discs could suddenly be burned. Choose > Copy > Export > Paste > Save! But heading 2017’s list of Damn! Why Didn’t I Think Of Making That?? comps must surely be this remarkable collection of early Brothers Gibb covers, running good gamuts from soul (Percy Sledge’s “I’ve Gotta Get A Message To You”) to ska (Pat Kelly: “I Started A Joke”); from the spicks (Los Bravos’ “Like Nobody Else”) clear through, so to speak, the specks (the dark side of Goon Moon’s “Every Christian Lion Hearted Man”!) Not to mention April Byron, the Liz Taylor of Australia I’m told, and her extreme fantastic rarity “He’s a Thief”: quite possibly my Record of the Year …or of 1966 even. Expertly assembled and annotated by Ace’s own Tony Berrington, To Love Somebody proves, as few elsewhere ever could or have, the abundant treasures still to be found in even the first five years of Barry, Robin and Maurice’s vast, exceptional compositional canon. Which, come to think of it, gives me hope there’s still more April Byron records out there left to track down too. Excuse me then…

 

Gary Pig Gold 
www.GaryPigGold.com

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Artists & Bands Featured Review Reviews and Suggestions

Pigshit with Gary Pig Gold: TEN YOU MAY HAVE MISSED In 2015

Just on the off chance you’ve already made it through all 18 discs, 20 hours, and/or 379 tracks of Bob Dylan’s Cutting Edge Collector’s Edition, then may I suggest you now turn both ears immediately towards…
driftingsand21 DRIFTING SAND Summer Splash (Piña Colada Records) To fill that sonic gap in a year which saw exactly zero new Beach Boys or even Laurie Biagini albums, Rick Escobar and all his fellow Surfer Spuds from the far left coast produce thirty-four-minutes-thirty-four of sounds, sights and even aromas which conjure those Modern Lovers of yore hijacked by Keith “Beachcomber” Moon. Bravely mixing a clutch of entirely too-cool-for-words instrumentals – Dan Burdick’s lonely trumpet being particularly effective – with Muscle Beach Party-pedigree songs to evoke your fave rave Surfaris B-side, Drifting Sand can, will, and do rhyme “splash” with “such a gas,” “July and August” with “Robert August” (!) and, on “Beach Tour USA” alone toss an M.Love-ly sax solo over carnival barking unheard since our last visit to “Amusement Parks USA.” Top with an ultra-vibra-spaghetti-slappin’ cover of Hazlewood/Sinatra’s “Sand” and the end result may well be the sophomore Fantastic Baggys LP we never thought would ever reach shore. P.S.: and guys? When you’re ready to do your next album, lemme know. Coz have I got a song for You!!

wheel of talent2 THE FLESHTONES  Wheel Of Talent (Yep Roc Records) Technically speaking, this 2014 beaut didn’t arrive in the sty, courtesy of our pals over at Rock Beat International, til just a few months ago. But no problem! ’Cause any year’s an ideal time for those Fabulous F-tones. And as ever and always, these veteran garage czars’ unfailing, unflinching embrace of all things rock and naturally roll are intact from the very get-go herein: “Available” blasts direct into the backyard on wings of brazen brash ‘n’ trash …yet with some incongruously appropriate cellos and violas to boot. Likewise, a good half of this talented Wheel – notably “The Right Girl,” “Tear For Tear” and “For A Smile,” the latter featuring the Southern Culture Skid-vocals of Miss Mary Huff – somehow bring a Shadowy Meek sheen of pure pre-Beatle UK pin-up pop to the proceedings (attention! John Waters) without sacrificing one iota of the oomph. Elsewhere, “Roofarama” speeds Jimi’s “Crosstown Traffic” all the way downtown, “Hipster Heaven” sounds tailor-made for the nearest USB latte turntable, and “It Is As It Was” manages to spin the entire Fleshtone fable in a Schoolhouse Rock! as opposed to School of Rock manner; Ghetto Recorder Jim Diamond professorially sees to THAT. And, for anyone left out there who all these years later still doesn’t get the message? Right there on Track 4, “Remember the Ramones.” Got it!

You Are Here3 GARFIELDS BIRTHDAY  You are Here (Pink Hedgehog Records) Another holdover from ’014, “recorded mostly at home with files winging their way from Dorest to Yorkshire via Bristol then back again” in the words of the handy enclosed press sheet. In other words? The fourth, and positively most welcome to date collection of smart, stylish poppin’ rock from the British brothers Felton, Simon and Shane, this time with none other than Lucky Bishops/Schnauser man Alan Strawbridge on drums. And that’s an important factor indeed, lest the Feltons’ files end a tad too GarageBanded as they travel the virtual UK. To wit, as soon as their “Magic Bike” gets rolling we are finely assaulted with a great big meaty and beaty bounty – yes, this being Century 21 the Magic Bus has been downscaled somewhat, but the drive is every bit as present and potent. “Carpet Ride” similarly soars Armenia City’s skies with, and I quote, “one eye on the future and one foot in the past.” Witness as well how “It’s Your Lucky Day” somehow Cyrkles clear ’round those Basement Tapes while “Lunar Eclipse” happily weds Kurt Cobain verses to killer-kilter XTC choruses. Shane Felton’s fearlessly inspired lead guitars are a vital part of the equation throughout, but particular notice must also be paid to the other Felton, Simon’s, magnificent vocals …on “Oxford” (most importantly); a masterful performance, and song, whose files deserve to be shared this very instant with Art Garfunkel for starters. Which reminds me: visit the Pink Hedgehog for a copy of Simon Felton’s recent Emotional Feedback as well. You will be doubly glad you did.

The Grip Weeds4 THE GRIP WEEDS How I Won The War (Jem Recordings) With their latest release, the Grip Weeds have gone and done, by my count, two outstanding things: (1) claimed full lineage at long last to their Richard Lester-ized namesake, and even more importantly (2) made the best album of their career. Here’s how: As no less an authority as Phil Spector once explained, some artists sing ideas, and that the Grip Weeds always have. And it helps immensely, to say the least, that they most fortunately number within their ranks a member who is equally talented on the other side of the microphones too. That would be Kurt Reil, who once again has twiddled knobs brilliantly inside the band’s own House Of Vibes studio to create textures that are lush but not cluttered; bright but never brittle. Overall, the sounds this time out contain much more bite and snarl – in Kurt’s vocals, pointedly – which suits to a “t” the confusion, conflict and, yes, warfare which always seems to boil below the surface. Several short, mainly instrumental segue pieces play a key role as well in making this disc an end-to-end singular experience. Ah! The long-lost art of the Album as a totality. What a concept! But then about two-thirds in, beginning with the completely Zombie-able “Heaven and Earth,” comes a trio of more nuanced numbers which relax things to a whole loftier level. In fact one of these, “Over and Over,” not only serves as a much-needed truce during this great War, but thanks in big part to the lead vocal of Kristin Pinell – always the Grip Weeds’ not-so-secret-anymore weapon – may honestly be the highlight of it all. Which reminds me, Kurt and brother Rick: Where’s HER album already?!!

Pop Spaceman5 RICK HARPER  Pop Spaceman (HiVariety Recordings) Hey, have you noticed everyone and their roommate lately is not only a singer/songwriter/player, but a bonafide home recordist in addition it seems? Well, listen: Rick Harper, in case you hadn’t noticed – and you certainly should have by now – has been toiling at all that and so much more since ’way back in the primordial pre-laptop daze, I kid you not. Which is why he’s so damn good at it, dammit, as Pop Spaceman, the latest in his Demo Teasers series, surely demonstrates. Along with Erich Overhultz’s occasional keyboard, Rick sing/write/plays up a one-man storm of not only undeniable Songs for our far-out Times (“Pax: Kiss of Peace,” “Wind Idiot,” and “Ca$h Poor,” you bet) but offers as well an unusually good selection of classic Rickenharper-clever chord and monumental chorus compositions (“Not About Us” and my favorite “Pretty Fool”). Each note is not only expertly played, but oh-so-properly placed as well: a supreme proficiency at the fine art of orchestration which is even more apparent during the 14-minute “Music From the Film, Cue 1,” a score of truly cinematic proportions which, for best results, requires secure headphones, a recline position, and lights right off. Interesting how this Pop Spaceman appeared on the ol’ Pig Player right alongside Eddie Cochran just the other night …and fit in just fine.

Lemon Clocks6 THE LEMON CLOCKS  Time To Fly (Jam Records) Rather than attempt myself to adequately describe the tight ‘n’ tart dayglo delights of this disc, let us turn instead to the wise words of the three Clocks themselves, Stefan Johansson, Todd Borsch, and Jeremy Morris: In the land of ELECTRIC TOMATOES we can always find the TIME TO FLY. When the FUTURE IS THE PAST we can bend the clock and make time last. We hear the RAINBOW ECHO all around. Our ring is a promise that is growing underground. We will WALK UPON THE WATER because you just CAN’T KEEP A GOOD MAN DOWN. It all happened JUST IN TYME during an UNDERWATER DREAM. AND I FOLLOW in TIME until we’ve FINALLY FOUND OUR HOME. Our lemon clock life is like a GROOVY MOVIE with a very happy ending. It’s full of peace and love coming down from above. So LET THE SUNSHINE IN and let it in your heart. You’ll be really glad you did! It’s THE BEGINNING OF THE END and it’s also THE END OF THE BEGINNING…

Mariam7 MIRIAM  Down Today (Norton Records) As if co-launching Brooklyn’s greatest-ever fanzine (Kicks) then coolest go-to music stop (Norton), as well as providing big beats behind the Cramps, Zantees and A-Bones wasn’t more than enough already the one, the only Miriam Linna again steps from behind her Pearl’s to deliver what must be 2015’s rock-candy ear necessity #1! Alongside producer/multi-musician Sam Elwitt, a dozen sweet Sixties slices of strictly 7-inch caliber are fully reheated and served anew… but with nostalgia thankfully taking a distant back seat to respect and utmost finesse in both arrangement (Gregor Kitzis’ occasional strings, for example, always augment; never swamp) and performance (Miriam has added a definite Bazooka Joe as opposed to Bubblicious snap to her Lisa-Jenio-meets-Mary-Weiss pipes). To wit, the Dave Clark Five’s “Don’t Be Taken In” now sounds more like one of December’s Children, while “One More Rainy Day” – the flip of my favorite Deep Purple (!) 45, by the way – quickly turns, somehow, into a full-on Joey Ramone-opus. But after reveling in a half hour of such Evie Sands, Terry Reid, Neil Diamond et al chestnuts, it’s actually one of Mr. Elwitt’s two own compositions, the wholly ’67 Gibb-worthy title track, that just might steal the show. Yes, in yet another year when words like “power” and “pop” continue to be thrown around far too liberally, Miriam shows not only how it’s done, but precisely how it should be SUNG. Hear, here, for yourself.

Andy reed8 ANDY REED  Relay Vol. 1 (Futureman Records) This little seventeen-minute EP demonstrates the absolute best case imaginable for the wealth of miracles found lurking, quite regrettably, in the nether regions of that musical so-called subculture. Relay 1 happens to be Bay City, Michigan one-man audio factory Andy’s first solo release since 2008 (in the meantime, he is also a member of the Legal Matters who I raved of as one of 2014’s Missed); it, and Vol. 2 are apparently due together soon on an up-coming Futureman vinyl release. Til then, this digital trailer recalls, on say “Dreaming Of The West Coast,” Bruce Johnston by way of Eric Carmen… BUT, luckily, with only the most attractive vocal characteristics of both. “I Love A Long Goodbye” features an octave-leaping melody of Jimmy Webb proportions – and that’s one comparison I rarely get to make anymore! – while “Darlin, You Don’t Know” is a drop-down wonder; an around-the-wide-world trip of sound in three and a half minutes flat. In all, Andy’s work is smart and detailed, sometimes stark, sometimes dense. Someone get this man a gig scoring indie films, quick! Meanwhile, as we await that Relay vinyl, you should seek and love his Oddities And Entities collection as well, which holds over thirteen years’ more rare and precious gems.

thewind39 THE WIND  Re-Wind (Cheft Records) Though it seems more like 300, it’s actually “only” been around thirty years since the original Queens-by-way-of-Miami, Lane Steinberg/Steve Katz/Stephen Burdick-model Wind last made us an album. And it HAS been worth the wait, for the trio’s deftly under-troubled skinny white approach serves as even more urgently-needed fresh air against our current century’s assaults upon ear canals. F’rinstance? “Fight Like A Girl” needs less than three whole minutes to perfectly encapsulate, then broaden wildly upon its Buddy ‘n’ Beatles For Sale history of every little AM radio thing. Spin the dial further and “Think On Your Feet” crouches in some recessed corner of an Emitt Rhodes session, “Which Part Of Goodbye?” really could be The Great Lost Wings B-side we’re still queuing for, “Baby, I Can Take A Punch” finds Todd Rundgren pillow-fighting Squeeze while “There’s A Clamoring” and even more so “Let Me Show You How It’s Done” point Badfingers in thoroughly the right direction. Still, Messrs. Katz and Steinberg roll their tan sleeves all the way up to mix “ambivalence” and “after-dinner mints” with some lo-gummed “Sugar Sugar” keyboard for “Yes And No” …and isn’t “Weak Spot” the theme from Craig Ferguson’s late late, extremely great talk show?! Whatever the cases may be, David Grahame’s co-production keeps all sounds – vocals first! – ice-clean, clear, and to-the-heart at all times; it does take a brave man, not to mention fabulous material, to mix this way. But that’s always been, and apparently continues to be, The Wind. Hopefully it won’t be another thirty years before another album blows our way.

Frank Zappa Roxy10 FRANK ZAPPA  Roxy: The Movie (Eagle Rock Entertainment) Delayed even longer than the mighty Wind is this nifty, sometimes tough, and often quite bitchin audio/video record of Frank and his Mothers’ three-night stint at the Roxy Theatre in Hollywood during December of ’73. Why it’s taken sooo long to reach us is – Surprise! – NOT the usual legal morass ‘n’ molasses which coats most things Zappa. No, this time it was a simple [sic!] case of technology sufficient to sync the Roxy audio with the Roxy video not being at hand until just a couple’a years ago. Meaning we can all finally not only hear, but see FZ sucking down endless Winstons, seated on-stage in chair having make-up touched up as George Duke pulls a “Big Swifty,” watching Ralph Humphrey drum duel Chester Thompson with a lot of “Cheepnis,” then even manning an extra set of traps himself to help beat off the “Uncle Meat” variations. Later Bruce Fowler and Napoleon Murphy Brock go trombo-a-saxo too all over their “Be-Bop Tango” before Carl and Rick and Jane (then Lana, Brenda et al) are coerced on stage to, um, dance to it …a sight even more unsettling than I’d imagined all those years ago under headphones spinning Side 4 of Roxy & Elsewhere when I should have been doing my homework. Caveat Emptor however: as Gail Zappa (RIP) of the esteemed Zappa Family Trust says (admits?) in the accompanying liner notes, Frank indeed “shows up here at his geekiest,” as many of the fiercely wrought arrangements, not to mention between-song “announcements” attest. Of course, a mere five years pre-Roxy such a disclaimer would NEVER have been necessary regarding the original Mothers of Invention and those things they did, but…

Gary Pig Gold

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Pighsit by Gary Pig Gold – IT’S BEGINNING TO SOUND A LOT LIKE… WELL…YOU KNOW WHAT

XmasPigshitImageAhhh, Christmas! That magical time of year when we share love, presents, and our special musical tastes – both good and bad. Like those mounted singing bass sold down at Wal-Mart, seasonal music is an acquired, personal taste that says more about the listener than the actual music.

So, always nosy, Gary Pig Gold, alongside veteran r-n-r reporter Ken Burke, decided to ask their many music-minded acquaintances the following questions:

1) Which seasonal / Christmas recording do you never tire of hearing? What’s special about it?

2) Which seasonal / Christmas recording irritates you?

Guess what they said?

Steve Lester of Wix Records

1) That’s easy. “Santa Claus is Back in Town” by Elvis Presley. Seasonal or not, that sucker rocks! Who needs flying reindeer when you can have a “big black Cadillac”! I also have to give der Bingle’s “Melekalikimaka” an honorable mention. It has such a hypnotic, ethereal quality. I once listened to it twelve consecutive times with no intention of stopping there until family members intervened.

2) I normally don’t like to answer negatively slanted questions like this. But in this case I’ll make an exception: That Elmo and Patsy thing was criminal!!!

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Gary Pig Gold wonders WHO PUT THE BOMP? Why, GREG SHAW, Of Course!

PigshitOctober16Personally speaking, I can solidly claim that the very first record ever released on the Bomp! label, the Flamin’ Groovies’ 1974 seven-incher “You Tore Me Down,” actually caused the sonic earth to move beneath me in ways matched only by, I kid you not, you-know-who on The Ed Sullivan Show, my first discovery of Elvis’ Sun sessions, and my pal John’s bringing the first Ramones record home to our innocent little Canadian turntables via the Bowery, very very late one long-lost Friday ago.

Yessir, that little Groovies record, and the joyous singles (and albums) (and magazines) Bomp faithfully sent my way throughout the Ford and Carter administrations – while those less fortunate amongst us were stuck listening to the Cars and pondering the fate of J.R., just to put things in their improper hysterical perspective – duly inspired this here Rock and Roll Report-er to start my own fanzine. Then my own band. Then even my own record label! You could say, then, that “You Tore Me Down” single-in-handedly spared me from a life of University study and squarely set me down the road to where I type today.

And then, when Bomp founder / mastermind / domo-major Greg Shaw Himself actually blew my way in early 1978, his raw, unbridled enthusiasm instantly swept aloft all of us riding the then-new Toronto punk wave, in turn inspiring such things as, oh, off the top of my once-buzz-cut scalp, Teenage Head (the band), SCTV (the television show), and possibly even Maggie and Ronnie (the weekend that almost brought down a Canadian Prime Minister, via that guy in the once-Rolling Stones).

So! Just who was this Greg Shaw fella then, you might well be asking?

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Pigshit By Gary Pig Gold – DENNIS DIKEN and his BELL SOUND – “Late Music”

PigshitSept25CoverArtDiscriminating consumers of only the best in rock ‘n’ pop have long revered Dennis Diken as drummer with those rightfully legendary Smithereens. Yet did you know that in between making Jersey beat, Dennis has penned some of my all-time favorite liner notes (The Beach Boys’ Lost and Found collection, for example), hosted some of my favorite radio shows on mighty WFMU-FM, written on and about anything and everything from Otis Blackwell to Allen Funt, and even popped up recently in reverent celebration of Ringo Starr’s 69th birthday within the pages of USA Today ?

Now, having lived as I have in the New York City vicinity for nigh on twenty years, one cannot help but cross frequent musical paths with Dennis and his drums, accompanying Bill Lloyd one moment, Mary Weiss the next. But even all of the above totally failed to prepare me for the track which appeared circa 2001 in answer to my request for him to be part of a Gene Pitney tribute disc I was compiling: A wholly, perfectly roller-rink rendition of “Only Love Can Break A Heart” that featured Dennis on not only percussion, but vocals as well! Who knew?!!

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PIGSHIT by Gary Pig Gold – YET ANOTHER 25 ALBUMS YOU SHOULD ADD TO YOUR COLLECTION

Believe it or not, I’m really only half-way through my most sound suggestions…..

51. Nelson, Rick: “In Concert, The Troubadour, 1969”
Wherein the very first cathode teen idol grows up, grows sideburns, and dern near invents the whole No Depression crusade in the process.

52. NRBQ “You Gotta Be Loose: Recorded Live in USA”
For once I can whole-heartedly agree with Elvis Costello: NRBQ truly are the greatest live r ‘n’ r band on this, or indeed any other planet.

53. Ochs, Phil “Gunfight at Carnegie Hall”
Defiantly draped in a gold lame suit fit for The King, and rubbing ears even deeper in it with his Pistols-caliber Buddy Holly medley, Phil’s 1970 concerts made Dylan’s ‘65 Newport Festival debacle seem so thoroughly innocuous by comparison that these tapes were only deemed releasable in O Canada at the time.