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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

 

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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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GARY PIG GOLD’s NOUGHTIE TWENTY-ONE

Despite an alarming amount of critical mass to (and by) the contrary, there truly was much, much more worth hearing this decade just past than those big Big Star, Beatle, Bob Dylan and even Neil Young box sets.

No, really!

So then, strictly alphabetically speaking as always, here’s what I spent much of January 1, 2000 through December 31, 2009 listening very closely to whilst Rock and Roll Reporting…..

Apartment – Sparkle Bicycle
Waikiki Record (2008)
http://www.myspace.com/apartmentjp

Tatsuya Namai’s radiant pop of the Daniel Johnston-meets-Shonen Knife variety.

Alex Brennan – The Last Smile Of The Pied Piper
xtoalex@hotmail.com (2004)

Hopefully Mr. Brennan will be duly hired to give the Beach Boys’ catalog that Beatles Love treatment when the time inevitably arrives.

Lindsey Buckingham – Under The Skin
Reprise Records (2006)
http://www.lindseybuckingham.com/

Once insane, always insane.

Candypants – Candypants
Sympathy For The Record Industry (2000)
http://www.amazon.com/Candypants/dp/B00004YWQ0

Ronnie Spector fronts Elvis’ Attractions …and THEN some!

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PIGSHIT by Gary Pig Gold – GARY SEES A SIMPLY SAUCER

pigshitlogo-webIt really is difficult to recall just how, well, dire popular music had gotten in the dregs of those dreaded late Seventies. For example, no sooner had Frampton come alive than those once mighty Bee Gees kept stubbornly somehow stayin’ alive, thanks to a wicked strangle-grip atop global play and sales lists which spanned the better part of an entire calendar year, I kid you not.

Now despite, or more likely because of the above-mentioned audio scourges, valid, vital new sounds were already festering worldwide up and out of (barely) the literal underground via various Saints, Pere Ubu’s and Pistols. Why, even my hitherto genteel homeburg of Toronto was at this very time busy producing more than its fair share of severely alt. rock combos: Anyone remember, f’rinstance, Canada’s homegrown Ramone brothers, Teenage Head? Howzabout those North Country proto-Go-Go’s, The B-Girls? Not to even mention them dapper darlings of the Ontario College of Art-rock scene, The Diodes??

In fact, it was at just one such way-back art college anti-shindig that my “Pig Paper” photographer John Pinto struck up a most timely discussion on The Kinks with an intense young guitarist-songwriter-and-then-some named Edgar Breau, who sooner than you or I for that matter could say “I’m not like everybody else” invited us over to Canada’s most musical of all towns (Hamilton, by the way) to hear his very own band belt out a cacophony or two.

That band, it transpired, turned out to be none other than Simply Saucer.