jueves, 30 de marzo de 2017

The Prats

The Prats were an Edinburgh-based punk rock group, active from 1977 to 1981. More recently, their track "General Davis" was featured in the opening credits of Jonathan Demme's 2004 film, "The Manchurian Candidate". The group was founded in 1977 at St. Augustine's Roman Catholic Comprehensive by Paul McLaughlin, David Maguire, Greg Maguire, and Tom Robinson, whose ages at the time ranged from 12 to 15. While their instruments were basic -including a cardboard drum kit- they were able to quickly produce a demo tape which they sent to a local indie label Fast Product, who also produced The Human League. Inspired by The Slits and Mekons, The Prats debuted with three tracks on the Fast EP "Earcom 1". In 1979, the band recorded a session for John Peel's BBC Radio 1 show. Peel also offered his fee from a DJing appearance in Edinburgh to finance a single release by the band. A series of singles then followed, including 'General Davis' and 'Die Todten Reyten Schnell', which was released on a German indie label. A number of line-up changes saw Elspeth McLeod joining to provide additional guitar (including on the single 'General Davis') and Jeff Maguire taking over bass duties from Tom Robinson. 

In 1980, the EP 'The 1990s Pop' was released on Rough Trade Music. This record contained four tracks: "Disco Pope", "Nothing", "TV Set", and "Nobody Noticed". "Disco Pope" received significant airplay under John Peel and was re-released in 2003 on Rough Trade Shops' compilation CD "Post Punk Volume 1". The end of school in 1981 meant the end of The Prats. With the appearance of the song "General Davis" on the soundtrack of Jonathan Demme's 2004 remake of "The Manchurian Candidate", starring Denzel Washington and Meryl Streep, there has been a resurgence of interest in The Prats, resulting in the release of a compilation CD, 'Now That's What I Call Prats Music' released by One Little Indian in 2005. [SOURCE: WIKIPEDIA

miércoles, 29 de marzo de 2017

The Wirtschaftswunder

The Wirtschaftswunder (sometimes simply called Wirtschaftswunder) was a German band consisting of musicians Angelo Galizia (vocals, Italy), Tom Dokoupil (guitar, Czechoslovakia), Mark Pfurtschneller (keyboards, Canada) and Jürgen Beuth (drums, Germany). They were part of the so-called Neue Deutsche Welle that emerged as part of the English new wave/post-punk movement in the early 1980s and included bands such as D.A.F., Malaria!, or ZK (predecessor of Die Toten Hosen). They entered the national arena with their single "Der Kommissar" (based on the theme music of the German criminal TV series "Der Kommissar" from the 1960s) and released their first album ('Salmobray') in 1981. Their most characteristic feature was Angelo Galizia's singing with a heavy Italian accent. After signing with label Deutsche Grammophon, they released their 2nd album ('The Wirtschaftswunder'), which was not as experimental as the first. After their 4th album 'Pop Adenauer' in the same year and their final single in 1984 they dissolved. The term "Wirtschaftswunder" (German for "economic miracle") describes the rapid reconstruction and development of the economies of West Germany and Austria after World War II. [SOURCE: DISCOGS

martes, 28 de marzo de 2017


Philip Lithman led a schizophrenic career, trying to make his way out of obscurity into the light of mainstream success, but then found a living as a valued sideman to the most obscure pop group of the '70s and '80s: The Residents. His dramatic, slanted runs up the fretboard have its antecedents in the British blues scene and art rock, most particularly Robert Fripp and Fred Frith (the latter also lending guitar to Residents recordings); his fingerwork earned him the nickname "Snakefinger". In the end, he died (suddenly, of a heart attack) while in limbo: not weird enough for The Residents, not normal enough for chart success or critical recognition. 

Born in London, England, in 1949, Lithman was coming of age in the psychedelic scene, but picked up the more menacing vibe that was permeating the last two years of that decade. In 1971, a 22-year-old Lithman came to San Francisco and met up with a strange group of art terrorists that would become The Residents. He accompanied the group for their two live appearances, as well as raising hell on live radio, playing violin in a screeching, free jazz joke. People dug it, but Lithman returned to England the following year, playing on two albums in the band Chilli Willi and the Red Hot Peppers with his friend Martin Stone (two of the members, Nick Lowe and Pete Thomas, would go on to fame working with Elvis Costello). When the group disbanded, Lithman returned to America, and settled in Los Angeles, where he shopped around demos for two years, trying to break into the mainstream rock scene in the style of the Eagles, Jackson Browne, and other soft rock standbys. Both Warner Bros. and RCA rejected him. In 1978, he returned to San Francisco and in the middle of shopping around another demo, reunited with his old friends, The Residents. The college-age pranksters had grown into a bizarre band with a cult following and their own label and now had a desire to add other artists to their label's roster -Snakefinger had returned. For two years, The Residents co-wrote and produced two Snakefinger albums ('Chewing Hides the Sound' and 'Greener Postures'), a single 'The Spot', and featured him on their albums 'Duck Stab' and 'The Commercial Album'. He also seared the ears with his unforgettable solo on their cover of "Satisfaction" -it needs to be heard to be believed. The solo albums, while a critical success ('Chewing' received a "classic" rating in the 1983 Rolling Stone Record Guide), seemed more about The Residents than Snakefinger: the similar demented pop of 'Duck Stab', the singsong lyrics, the weird and cool imagery. Given a chance, Lithman's Brit Rock purisms would leak out; in 1983 he toured, playing blues covers. In the early '80s, while The Residents were engulfed in touring, he formed a band, The Vestal Virgins, with members of Pere Ubu and assorted Bay Area groups, and recorded a third album, 'Manual of Errors'. Here was a breakthrough -with only a few songs co-written with The Residents, Lithman could make it as a true solo artist. In 1985-1986, Lithman returned to play a world tour with The Residents, documented on at least three releases as the "13th Anniversary Tour". This is a terrific example of Snakefinger's work -delicate slide work, menacing, distortion filled guitar (often in the same song). That year also saw the release of his most mature work to date: 'Night of Desirable Objects', recorded with The Vestal Virgins. The eclectic album represented the varying influences at work in Lithman's career, from Nino Rota and Miles Davis to folk and art pop. The Virgins hit the road for a support tour. On July 1, 1987, after a concert in Linz, Austria, Lithman suffered a fatal heart attack. The Residents, who were scheduled to use Lithman on their upcoming 'God in Three Persons' album, composed music for his funeral (later released on 'The Snakey Wake'). Since 1987, The Residents have kept Lithman's memory alive through re-releases of his Ralph Records material, including a B-sides collection. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

lunes, 27 de marzo de 2017


NON is essentially the one-man project of noise monger and provocateur Boyd Rice, whose solo work is virtually interchangeable with that released under his NON alias. Rice's first work, originally titled 'The Black Album', consisted of looped bits of girl group and bubblegum pop songs worked into a numbing drone; it was released in 1981 by Mute under the title 'Boyd Rice'. Subsequent NON releases like the antagonistic 'Physical Evidence' (1982) and the textured noise of 'Blood and Flame' (1987) pushed the limits of aural accessibility. A compilation of NON's '80s material, some of it non-LP, was released in 1991 under the title 'Easy Listening for Iron Youth'. In the mid-'90s, Rice revived NON often; 1992's 'In the Shadow of the Sword' focused on social Darwinism, while 1995's 'Might!' was an opus of musically backed poetry inspired by author "Ragnar Redbeard"'s (likely Jack London) "Might Is Right". NON released the album 'God and Beast' in 1997, which sported the clearest production to date on any of the project's works. 'Receive the Flame' followed in early 2000 and 'Children of the Black Sun' in 2002, the latter accompanied by a DVD 5.1 mix of the album. While Rice was active in collaborations and with work under his own name, it would be almost a decade until NON returned with its next proper full-length, 2012's 'Back to Mono'. The album stepped away from the minimalism and ambience that had come to define NON, embracing again the harsh noise and hateful tones of the project's beginnings. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

domingo, 26 de marzo de 2017

Métal Urbain

Known as the first band to use synthetic percussion in a punk rock context, Metal Urbain used heavily distorted guitars, aggressive vocals, a synthesizer, and a drum machine to create some of the most original music of the punk era. Formed in Paris in 1977, this quartet had a unique approach that called into question the very nature of rock & roll itself. Despite their lack of usual rock instrumentation, they aligned themselves with the punk rock scene symbolized by the Sex Pistols, rather than the anti-rock camp of Throbbing Gristle. The elimination of a conventional rhythm section (i.e., acoustic drums and bass) helped to illuminate the possibilities for experimentation within the rock aesthetic and paved the way for further exploration throughout the post-punk era.
Metal Urbain were a band of many firsts. In addition to the aforementioned advances in the area of rock instrumentation, they released the first single on the legendary Rough Trade label. On their first single, 1977's 'Panik', Metal Urbain's unvarying drum machine program created a relentless attack that pushed the upper regions of punk rock aggression to new heights. Their follow-up single, 'Paris Marquis', was released on Rough Trade Records and was the first release for what became the most innovative and eclectic label of the post-punk era. Metal Urbain's vocals, sung exclusively in French, called for revolution to reveal the fascist elements of the political structure. They continued to carve their unique niche with their third and final single, 'Hysterie Connective', released in 1978 on Radar.

Metal Urbain broke up in 1979 with Eric Débris, Herman Schwartz, and Pat Lüger continuing in a similar vein with Metal Boys and Doctor Mix & the Remix, releasing records on Rough Trade. The following year, 'Les Hommes Mort Sont Dangereux' (which translates to "Dead Men Are Dangerous") was released on Byzanteen Records and compiled their singles along with some BBC sessions. In 1985, 'L'Age d'Or' was released on CD and double LP, compiling previously released material with additional demos, live material, and remixes. Nearly 20 years later, Acute Records released 'Anarchy in Paris!', a compilation of the band's '70s releases. The same label also reissued the output of Metal Boys and Doctor Mix & the Remix. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

sábado, 25 de marzo de 2017

Y Pants

Y Pants were an all-female No Wave band from New York City active from 1979 to 1982. The trio, made up of photographer/musician Barbara Ess, visual artist Virginia Piersol, and filmmaker Gail Vachon, developed a unique sound via their acoustic toy instrumentation of toy piano, ukulele and a paper-headed Mickey Mouse drum kit, augmented by electric bass guitar, Casio keyboards and various low-tech effects. Y Pants' feminist poetics and toy instrumentation made them a hit in Manhattans's art gallery scene, while their No Wave clout brought them to be regulars at punk rock venues like CBGB's. In 1980 Glenn Branca recorded their debut 4-song EP for the now legendary 99 Records, followed by a full-length LP two years later. Lyrically, most of the Y-Pants' material covered the off-kilter aspects of relationships, with explorations into the perils of laundry ("Favorite Sweater"), materialism ("We Have Everything"), patriarchy ("That's The Way Boys Are"), and a reworking of Bertolt Brecht's "Barbara's Song" from "Threepenny Opera". Musically they've been compared to their British post-punk contemporaries The Raincoats for their overlapping vocal choruses and kitchen-sinkish approach to sound, rhythm and composition. Novelist and critic Lynne Tillman wrote the lyrics for the band's song "Obvious". Y-Pants disbanded shortly after the release of their album, reportedly reuniting each year on the various band members' birthdays. Barbara Ess remained musically active throughout the 1980s, frequently contributing tracks to Tellus Audio Cassette Magazine and collaborating with Peggy Ahwesh on 2001's 'Radio Guitar' for the Ecstatic Peace! label. [SOURCE: DISCOGS]

viernes, 24 de marzo de 2017

The Flying Lizards

The Flying Lizards are remembered by most listeners as new wave one-hit wonders thanks to their deliberately eccentric cover of Barrett Strong's "Money," which became a surprise chart success in 1979. But The Flying Lizards were in fact the brainchild of David Cunningham, a well-respected avant-garde composer, producer, and visual artist, and it became one of the first salvos in a long and fascinating career. Cunningham was born in Ireland in 1954, and once told a reporter he first took up music in school as a way of avoiding playing rugby with his schoolmates. Cunningham later developed a keen interest in both music and visual art, and he left Ireland when he was accepted at the Maidstone College of Art in Canterbury, Kent, where he studied film and video installation. While in school, Cunningham began doing live sound for rock bands playing on campus, which led to an interest in recording and music production.

In 1975, Cunningham self-released an album of minimalist music, 'Grey Scale', and using borrowed gear he recorded a deliberately harsh and minimal version of the old Eddie Cochran hit "Summertime Blues", with art school chum Deborah Evans contributing flat, tuneless vocals. Cunningham claims the low-tech single cost just 20 pounds to make, and after it was turned down by a number of labels, Virgin Records picked it up for release in 1978, under the assumption that it was inexpensive enough to recoup its costs quickly. Released under the name The Flying Lizards, 'Summertime Blues' attracted enough press attention to sell a few thousand copies, putting the project solidly in the black, and Cunningham decided to take another stab at reconfigured pop. With its clanking prepared piano, crashing percussion sounds (a combination of tambourine and snare drum), and another monotonic vocal by Evans, "Money" was considerably more manic than "Summertime Blues," through the recording budget was similarly cheap, and the single became an unexpected chart hit both in Europe and the United States. 

Cunningham's deal with Virgin was for only two singles, but with "Money" climbing the charts, they signed him to a new contract, and The Flying Lizards' first album soon followed, which featured dub-style audio experiments with improvisational musicians Steve Beresford and David Toop, and bent interpretations of pop music constructs along with the two freak hit singles. The album sold just well enough to justify Virgin financing another Flying Lizards LP, but 1981's 'Fourth Wall' put its focus on the eclectic experimentalism of Cunningham's music, and despite the presence of another bent cover of a pop classic (in this case Curtis Mayfield's "Move on Up") and contributions from Robert Fripp, Patti Palladin, and Michael Nyman, the album was a commercial disappointment though it received strong reviews. 

By this time, Cunningham was devoting much of his time to producing other artists (including This Heat and Wayne County), and after releasing 1984's 'Top Ten' -which combined Cunningham's eccentric take on pop with sleek electronic textures and the vocals of Sally Peterson- Cunningham retired The Flying Lizards. Since then, he's continued to create multimedia installations, produced a number of Michael Nyman's film scores, staged improvised performances with other visionary musical artists, and composed music for film, television, and dance projects. An unreleased dub music project from 1979, in which Cunningham reworked recordings by Jah Lloyd, received a belated release in 1995 as 'The Secret Dub Life of the Flying Lizards'. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

jueves, 23 de marzo de 2017

The Desperate Bicycles

The Desperate Bicycles were an English punk band who released a series of independent recordings in the late 1970s and inspired many other bands to do likewise. The Desperate Bicycles pioneered the do-it-yourself ethic of punk, adopting a proselytising role exemplified by their ardent exhortation: "it was easy, it was cheap– go and do it!". The group have been described as "DIY's most fervent evangelists". 

The Desperate Bicycles formed in March 1977 "specifically for the purpose of recording and releasing a single on their own label". The band initially consisted of Nicky Stephens (keyboards), Roger Stephens (bass), Danny Wigley (vocals), Mel Oxer, (drums) and Paul LeClerc (guitar). The band's name derives from a passage in J. B. Priestley’s 1930 novel "Angel Pavement": "Turning into Angel Pavement from that crazy jumble of buses, lorries, drays, private cars, and desperate bicycles…". In October 1978 vocalist Danny Wigley expressed the motivation driving The Desperate Bicycles' independent stance: "The biggest hurdle is just believing you’ve still got some control over your life, that you can go out and do it".

In March 1977 The Desperate Bicycles booked a studio at Dalston in East London to record their first single. The band possessed only an amp and a bass-guitar and the studio supplied the other instruments and equipment; "with a lot of courage and a little rehearsal" they recorded two songs, "Smokescreen" and "Handlebars". The first record was released in August 1977 as an edition of 500 pressings on the band’s own Refill Records label. The records cost £153 to produce, which comprised the three hours studio time, the price of pressing and the sleeves. The record was unusual in that it featured the same tracks on both sides and was a mono recording. The song "Handlebars" ends with The Desperate Bicycles' strident DIY rallying cry "it was easy, it was cheap -go and do it!". Roger Stephens and Danny Wrigley hawked the 'Smokescreen' single around the small independent record shops, and distributors such as Virgin and Rough Trade. The first pressing sold out within four months resulting in a profit to the band of £210. Using this money a second pressing of 1,000 was made, which sold out in a fortnight. The profit from that was used to finance the pressings of The Desperate Bicycles' second single.

The drummer and guitarist had left the band soon after the recording of the 'Smokescreen' single, with the drummer being replaced by Dave Papworth, then aged 14 years. The new line-up went back to the studio in June 1977 and recorded another two songs, "The Medium was Tedium" and "Don't Back the Front". The second single was released in February 1978 in a pressing of 1,000 and sold out in a week. "The Medium was Tedium" incorporates "it was easy, it was cheap -go and do it!" as a refrain, urging others to follow the band’s example. "Don't Back the Front" contains the lines: "cut it, press it, distribute it / Xerox music's here at last". For The Desperate Bicycles 'do-it-yourself' "meant the overthrow of the establishment music industry through people seizing the means of production, making their own entertainment, and selling it to other creative and autonomous spirits". With the profit from their second single the group pressed a further 2,500 copies of each of their singles, and also purchased some more equipment.

In the second half of 1977, with a single in the market-place, The Desperate Bicycles were invited to perform at Eric's Club in Liverpool. The band were unprepared for a live gig –"Our first purpose was just to make and sell records". But with characteristic enthusiasm and persistence they re-learnt the songs they had recorded and wrote a batch of new ones. They set up a rehearsal room at New Cross in South London in order to practice the new material. On New Year’s Eve 1977 The Desperate Bicycles hired a van and drove to Liverpool for their first gig at Eric’s Club. The 'New Cross, New Cross' EP, consisting of six of the additional songs they had written, was released in May 1978. The Desperate Bicycles performed sporadically in 1978, including a Rock Against Racism benefit with Sham 69. In July that year they released another single. By October 1979 Roger Stephens and Dave Papworth were replaced by Dan 'Electro'/Driscoll (guitar) and Jeff Titley (drums), with Nicky Stephens taking up the bass-guitar. 'The Remorse Code' album was released in February 1980, reaching number 10 on the UK Indie Chart. The Desperate Bicycles disbanded in 1981. Danny Wigley and Jeff Titley, with Dennis Burns and Cameron Allan, recorded as Lusty Ghosts on the Refill label.

The music of The Desperate Bicycles has been described as: "Spindly, fuzzy, guttural guitars through puny amplifiers, reedy, wheezy organs, out of tune electric pianos, cardboard box drums and monotonous declamatory yet somehow utterly reasonable sounding vocals". Another reviewer described them as "a shambling wreck of a psychedelic post-punk band". The writer Simon Reynolds states that the group's music "was almost puritan in its unadorned simplicity, its guitar sound frugal to the point of emaciation" or "For the Desperate Bicycles, it was as though sloppiness and scrawniness became signs of membership in the true punk elect. The very deficiency of traditional rock virtues (tightness, feel) stood as tokens of the group's authenticity and purity of intent". The Desperate Bicycles were a group of amateur musicians who remained determinedly independent. Their enjoyment of the creative and technical processes of making music is revealed in their recordings. The example they set, their energy and enthusiasm and the simple message of "go and do it!", inspired a generation of punk and post-punk bands to follow in their footsteps, in both the UK and further afield. [SOURCE: WIKIPEDIA

miércoles, 22 de marzo de 2017

Bush Tetras

New York's Bush Tetras had a no wave link, via guitarist Pat Place's association with James Chance, but the band's sound was neither frantic nor disjointed enough to be properly categorized with those bands. They played scrappy post-punk, with fellow Americans Pylon and Konk and Brits Delta 5 and Au Pairs as close contemporaries. If there's any one song the Bush Tetras are known for, it's 1980's "Too Many Creeps" -the band's most representative song and also the catchiest, made by the kind of jagged rhythms, slicing guitars, and sniping vocals that were used throughout their short lifespan. Perhaps the song wasn't quite insistent or hypnotic enough to become a smash single of the new wave era (released on the small 99 label, its reach was limited), but it could be argued that Romeo Void wouldn't have become popular without knowing about it. That band's "Never Say Never", a genius single in its own right, seemed to take a couple cues from the Bush Tetras; during a 2003 episode of VH1's Bands Reunited series, Romeo Void guitarist Peter Woods matter-of-factly confessed to being inspired by the sound of Place's guitar. 

After Place, bassist Laura Kennedy, drummer Dee Pop, and singer Cynthia Sley made their debut with an EP centered around "Too Many Creeps", signed with the U.K.'s Stiff label, and recorded another EP, 'Rituals', produced by The Clash's Topper Headon. The live cassette 'Wild Things', which included a cover of John Lennon's "Cold Turkey," was released by ROIR in 1983. By this stage, the Bush Tetras -along with Konk, fellow New Yorkers Talking Heads, and Manchester's A Certain Ratio- went outside the realm of Western music for inspiration. African and Caribbean influences played a significant role in their sound. This same year involved the exits of Kennedy and Pop and an eventual split. 

Post-breakup, most of the members went on to short-lived groups. Pop, his Tom Verlaine/John Cale-associate wife Deerfrance, and former 8-Eyed Spy member Michael Paumgardhen formed Floor Kiss; Sley and ex-Richard Hell & The Voidoids Ivan Julian had The Lovelies; Place helped out spoken word artist Maggie Estep. A while after these less significant projects dissolved, ROIR compiled all of the Bush Tetras' studio recordings and threw in some demos for 'Better Late Than Never'. ROIR being ROIR, it too was a cassette-only release. 

The original lineup got back together in 1995. 'Boom in the Night', another retrospective on the by-then-evolved ROIR, functioned as a CD version of 'Better Late Than Never', with all but one track from the earlier release included. It came out just before 1997's 'Beauty Lies', an album of new material that came and went without much notice. It had the bad fortune of predating the rocketing interest in post-punk that took hold during the early 2000s. In 1997, the Bush Tetras recorded the album 'Happy' for Mercury. Before it was released, Mercury was sold, its A&R staff laid off, and the album shelved. ROIR issued the album for the first time in 2012. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

martes, 21 de marzo de 2017

The Gist

The Gist was formed by Stuart Moxham as a side project from his post-punk/twee pop pioneering band Young Marble Giants, but their first single appeared on the racks six weeks prior to the split of Young Marble Giants, in December of 1980. 'Embrace the Herd', the group's lone LP, was released in May 1981. Reviewed favorably but not quite as glowingly as Young Marble Giants, the record shared a similar knack for dynamic but understated arrangements. A couple singles followed afterward, with the band dissolving by 1984 or so. For The Gist, Moxham recorded with a number of friends rather than a fixed set of bandmates. Former Young Marble Giants members Alison Statton and Phil Moxham helped out, as well as various people from fellow Rough Trade artists Essential Logic and Swell Maps. Moxham later issued a number of records under his own name. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

lunes, 20 de marzo de 2017


One of the most talented and prolific bands on cult Manchester label Object Music, precocious avant-pop group Grow-Up released a pair of great lost albums, drawing comparisons with XTC, Captain Beefheart and even Weimar cabaret, but ultimately sounding like no-one else. 

In 1978, aged just seventeen, John Bisset-Smith was a student at Rochdale Art College, and an early member of the Manchester Musician's Collective. At about the same time Bisset-Smith was invited to audition for Spherical Objects, a new band being put together by songwriter and Electric Circus deejay Steve Solamar. Bisset-Smith remained with Spherical Objects for two years, recording the albums 'Past & Parcel' and 'Elliptical Optimism'. By 1979, however, the precocious guitarist was growing restless. 

Grow-Up recorded their debut EP 'Stay Awake' at Graveyard Studio on 17 February 1979. Released in April on 7" as OM 05, the record contained six short songs, four of which -"River", "Stay Awake", "Photo" and "So Long" lasted barely a minute. Grow-Up also featured on the next Object album project, also released in April and drawn from the talent pool of the Manchester Musicians' Collective. Now dominated by groups, gigs were organised on a rota basis at the Band on the Wall on Swan Street, and later the Cyprus Tavern. 

A short list of better known MMC bands includes Warsaw/Joy Division, Fast Cars, Frantic Elevators, Spherical Objects, The Not Sensibles, Slight Seconds, The Passage, A Certain Ratio, Grow-Up, Crispy Ambulance, Manchester Mekon and Dislocation Dance. A Manchester Collection, curated by Solamar and released on Object as OBJ 003, featured Grow-Up, IQ Zero and Manchester Mekon, as well as Fast Cars, Mediaters, Fireplace, F.T. Index, Slight Seconds, Vibrant Thigh, Property Of... and Picture Chords. Grow-Up contributed two of the best tracks, "You Are The One" and "Night Rally". 

In July 1979 Bisset-Smith cut his last album with Spherical Objects, 'Elliptical Optimism', and the first by Grow-Up, 'The Best Thing'. Both were recorded in tandem over five days at Pluto Studio, and produced by the band along with engineer Phil Ault. By turns touching, slapstick, humorous and barbed, the album boasted accomplished harmony, brass and woodwind arrangements, and intriguing lyrics from Bisset-Smith. 

Released in October as OBJ 005, 'The Best Thing' was some way ahead of its time, and attracted excellent reviews. The original Spherical Objects parted company in September 1979, after John Bisset-Smith moved to London to study at Ravensbourne art college. However, his place would be taken by Grow-Up guitarist Roger Blackburn, and there was no acrimony. 

With Object concentrating on album releases, the very last single on the label came courtesy of Grow-Up. Recorded at Revolution on 10 April 1980, and released in July as OM 12, lead track "Joanne" was described by the band as a 'quality pop song', while the flip featured a sequence of brief musical skits by Roger Blackburn: "Affirmation of Existence", "Reaffirmation of Existence" and "Swept Away", as well as Bisset-Smith's "GGGDADGADADAD". This attempt to enter the Guinness Book of Records went unnoticed by the compilers, and soon afterwards the original line-up went their separate ways. 

In February 1981, Steve Solamar decided to abandon his past life and identity to become a woman. Having failed to find a successor to take on Object as a going concern, the label closed down, although Solamar did finance the recording of a second Grow-Up album, 'Without Wings'. The album was recorded at Revolution in Cheadle Hulme (Manchester) in August 1981, with Stuart Pickering engineering. With Bisset-Smith now based in London, the new Grow-Up comprised two fellow students, Tony King (bass) and Harry Van Rooij (drums), along with regular guitarist Roger Blackburn.

Several tracks embrace an overt jazz feel, while overall the sound was more robust than on the Object releases. Although Solomar met the studio costs, manufacture and distribution was left to the band. The result was a disaster, and relatively few copies of the album reached the shops. "Do Choose", one of the two unreleased demo tracks from 1982 which close this double archive set, sets the scene for the end of Grow-Up. Indeed it would be another sixteen years before Bisset-Smith released another record. [SOURCE: LTM RECORDINGS

domingo, 19 de marzo de 2017

Nash The Slash

Imagine a blend of Gary Numan, early Pink Floyd, Jean-Michel Jarre, and The Stranglers and you have a sense of Nash the Slash's music. Born in Toronto in 1948, for much of his musical career Jeff Plewman zealously guarded his identity, appearing on-stage as Nash the Slash with his face swathed completely in surgical bandages. One of music's true eccentrics, he was the type of artist who appeared on an instrumental LP that billed itself as playable at any speed. 

Plewman first surfaced as Nash the Slash in 1976 as an electric violinist and mandolin player with vocalist, bassist, and synthesizer player Cameron Hawkins as FM. Rejecting the conformity of AM radio, they experimented electronically in the manner of Brian Eno. Similar to Andy Warhol and his Exploding Plastic Inevitable live presentation that helped launch The Velvet Underground, FM's hometown concert debut in Toronto blew away the crowd with an assault of visual images coupled with sound. It set the pattern for Nash's solo career, which began in 1978 with an audiovisual collaboration with painter Robert Vanderhorst, who would reappear later in Nash's career. Following his quirky vision, Nash wrote the music and played all the instruments, even handling the engineering and production at times during his first several albums. An exception was one tune that Daniel Lanois produced on 1982's 'And You Thought You Were Normal'. 

Nash regrouped with different incarnations of FM over the years. While his unconventional ideas limited collaboration possibilities, he recorded and toured with Numan. Nash scored soundtracks periodically, notably releasing a CD of his score for the 1991 Canadian cult favorite "Highway 61", which featured singer Jello Biafra of the Dead Kennedys in a small role. Nash's first two albums were repackaged on CD in 1997, and he continued to work on new material. However, he announced his retirement in 2012, stating on his website that he was "rolling up the bandages" given changes in the music scene and his own personal waning enthusiasm. Jeff Plewman, aka Nash the Slash, died in May 2014 at the age of 66. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

sábado, 18 de marzo de 2017

The Screaming Tribesmen

The Screaming Tribesmen was a rock band formed in Brisbane by Mick Medew, John Hartley and Murray Shepherd. After their 'I Don't Wanna Know' EP and a string of successful singles, including 'A Stand Alone' and their first hit, 'Igloo' which was penned by Medew and Died Pretty frontman Ron Peno, the band moved base to Sydney, home of their label Citadel Records. After relocation to Sydney, and a number of line-up changes the band settled on its most successful lineup of Medew, ex-Radio Birdman and The Hitmen guitarist Chris Masuak, bass player Bob Wackley and drummer Warwick Fraser (ex-Feather) who replaced Michael Charles after the recording of the 'Date With A Vampyre' EP. The Vampyre EP reigned at the top of the Australian independent charts for over 40 weeks, while the band toured constantly in support. The follow-up 'Top of the Town' EP released on the boutique Rattlesnake Records label saw a change in direction for the band as it morphed into the sound of their first full-length release 'Bones and Flowers'. 

The band toured the US on the strength of the album and at home they enjoyed a run of Australian Alternative No. 1 hits as well as gaining Stateside attention with regular airplay on the US College Radio circuit. Their 1988 single "I've Got a Feeling" featured heavily on US MTV's 120 Minutes, hitting No. 1 on the KROQ charts in LA and No. 7 on Billboard's modern rock chart. Internal disputes after their US successful tour saw the lineup dissolve after a performance in front of 200,000 people at Sydney's Bondi Beach at a protest concert, "Stop the Ocean Pollution". Medew formed a new lineup featuring members of Melbourne band Radio Luxembourg, Jeff Silver and Ritchie Hine and former Kings of the Sun guitarist Glenn Morris. This line-up released two albums, a collection of covers 'Take Cover' and 'Blood Lust'. Morris departed and was replaced by Brian Mann, while Ritchie Hine was replaced by Celibate Rifles sticksman Paul Larsen

Mick Medew continued to tour, write and record with various line-ups until 1992, when he retired the name, re-emerging after a decade long hiatus as Mick Medew and the Rumours featuring ex-Screaming Tribesmen and Lost Boys Chris Dixon and Ash Geary, with bass player Paul Hawker. In January 2011 Medew performed a set of Screaming Tribesmen songs in Sydney with former guitarist and songwriting partner Chris Masuak. In June 2011 it was announced the 'Bones and Flowers' era line-up of Medew, Masuak, Wackley and Fraser would reform for a series of shows on the east coast of Australia beginning with The Gathering Festival in Brisbane on 17 September. The band subsequently announced shows in Melbourne (23 September) and Sydney (24 and 25 September) on the back of CD re-issues of 'Date With a Vampyre/Top of the Town' and 'Bones And Flowers' through Australian label Grown Up Wrong. The band played at the Azkena Rock Festival in Spain and toured France throughout June 2012. [SOURCE: WIKIPEDIA

viernes, 17 de marzo de 2017


Snatch was the duo of Patti Palladin and Judy Nylon, a pair of expatriates who recorded their punk scree at the former's flat in London, England. They recorded a demo with a number of songs in 1976; Bomp's Greg Shaw offered to release anything from it, and the 'I.R.T. & Stanley' single, featuring two of the demos, was released in February of 1977. Their next single, 'All I Want', added drummer Jerry Nolan, bassist Bruce Douglas, guitarist Keeth Paul, and pianist Nick Plytas to the lineup. It wasn't released until March of 1978. The 12" 'Shopping for Clothes', released on Fetish, took even longer, surfacing in April of 1980. Palladin reached her greatest level of fame as the detached voice behind The Flying Lizards' version of "Money (That's What I Want)". [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

jueves, 16 de marzo de 2017

Paul Roland

Paul Roland (born 6 September 1959 in Kent, England), is a singer-songwriter, author, journalist and paranormal researcher. Since the release of his first single 'Oscar Automobile' with the Weird Strings in 1979, Paul Roland has been spinning his tales against a backdrop of gothic rock, psychedelic pop, folk and, occasionally, baroque strings. His character creations include a Regency magistrate, various 19th Century murderers, a retired executioner, an opium addict, and an entire court of medieval grotesques. Paul Roland's first album (credited as Midnight Rags) 'The Werewolf of London' (1980), with historical and supernatural themes was picked up by Armageddon Records in the UK. It was there that Paul Roland met Robyn Hitchcock who later appeared on tracks for Paul Roland's second album. After an abortive flirtation with the music business, when he was managed by David Enthoven (manager of Roxy Music) and June Bolan (widow of Marc Bolan), Paul Roland returned to Armageddon Records for the mini-album 'Burnt Orchids'. Its title track was the first to feature Paul Roland backed by a small string and woodwind ensemble, a trademark of many of his albums of the 80s and 90s. 

The success of the album led to Paul Roland's first tours in Europe, label deals in France (New Rose Records), Germany (Pastell), Greece (DiDi Music), Italy (Diva Records), the USA (Revolver) and Japan (Century Records) and offers to work with film composer Michael Nyman and members of The Velvet Underground. Other cult figures such as Robyn Hitchcock, Nick Saloman (a.k.a. The Bevis Frond), Nick Nicely, and Andy Ellison (of John's Children) made guest appearances on Paul Roland's subsequent albums, several of which are now listed as highly collectable including the psychedelic classic 'Danse Macabre', the acoustic based mini-albums 'A Cabinet of Curiosities' and 'Happy Families' with stories of eccentric characters, the rockier 'Duel' with its medieval-tinged three-song suite "The King Must Die" and the folk rock outing 'Masque', 'Roaring Boys', a mini-album of cover versions entitled 'Strychnine', 'Sarabande' and 'Gargoyles' which completed the first chapter of the Paul Roland discography in 1997. That year, Paul Roland took a seven-year break from music to raise his two young sons, and write a series of books on mysticism and true crime. 

In 2002 Paul Roland returned with an appearance at the Herbstnächte-Festival in Berlin in September of that year. After that a series of re-issues appeared, beginning with 'Duel' which was released by Haunted Forest Records in Greece (2002). In 2004 Paul Roland returned with his first new album in seven years, the largely acoustic 'Pavane', which was released on Paul Roland's own label Gaslight Records. The album provided a further glimpse into his mind including a brief baroque instrumental piece that he had discussed recording with film composer Michael Nyman many years earlier. This album was re-issued by Black Widow Records in Italy in 2006. In 2007 Roland released 'Re-Animator', his first rock album for many years. It featured musicians who have recorded with Caravan, Jimi Hendrix, Steve Hillage and many great musicians of the 1960s Canterbury music scene. This album was released by Black Widow Records in Italy and re-issued as an expanded edition by Syborgmusic in Germany. In 2008 Paul Roland’s album 'Nevermore' was released on Syborgmusic in Germany. This album has a selection of songs in a variety of styles from seafaring folk to psychedelic pop and more whimsical fantasy this time inspired by Edgar Allan Poe and Jules Verne. The album 'Grimm' (2011) is a true solo album. Paul Roland played every instrument on the album and engineered the recording in his own studio. All of the songs are based on the dark fairy tales by the Brothers Grimm, so there is a touch of the macabre and the doomed romantic about the lyrics although the musical setting is baroque acoustic psychedelic pop. In 2015 the album 'Bitter and Twisted' was released by the independent record label Sireena Records in Germany. In February 2016 Cherry Red Records in the UK released a compilation album (as a double CD) called 'In The Opium Den - The Early Recordings 1980-87'. Compiled and curated by the artist, 'In The Opium Den' is a comprehensive anthology of Paul Roland’s early works, including his first three albums plus A and B sides, EP tracks and unreleased tracks from the period, spanning his output up until 1987. In January 2017 Paul Roland's new album 'White Zombie' was released by the Italian label Unifaun Productions ‎. [SOURCE: WIKIPEDIA

miércoles, 15 de marzo de 2017

The Shower Scene From Psycho

Championed by luminaries like John Peel, The Shower Scene From Psycho are a captivating absurdity. Labouring at the far end of the universe (aka Melbourne, Australia: 1982) their compelling brew of fuzz guitars, virtuosic theremin solos, helium vocals and outbursts of delirious musique concrete noise is a sound unheard before or since. A post-punk re-imagining of 60s bubblegum pop concocted from strategic cover versions and peerless originals that will leave you singing along as your ears melt. Initially focused around deconstructing pervasive pop hits ("One", "Purple Haze") the band grew into a fascinating beast producing otherworldly eccentric epics ("Lost In Spaces", "Candy Machine") and dark humanistic masterpieces ("In My Mind"). [SOURCE: AUSROCK FORUMS

martes, 14 de marzo de 2017


It certainly wasn't by design that the South Bronx-based group ESG affected post-punk, no wave, hip-hop, and house music. They opened for Public Image Ltd. and A Certain Ratio, they released records on the same label as Liquid Liquid, they had their music sampled countless times, and they became a playlist staple at '70s dance clubs like the Paradise Garage and the Music Box. The group's only aspiration was to play their music -simplistic in structure and heavy on rhythm- and sell lots of records. 

The four Scroggins sisters -Deborah (bass, vocals), Marie (congas, vocals), Renee (vocals, guitar), and Valerie (drums)- formed a group with the support of their mother, who bought instruments to keep her daughters busy and away from trouble; at the time, each sibling was teenaged. Basing their sound on a mutual love for James Brown, Motown, and Latin music, the sisters went through a number of name changes before finally settling on ESG. "E" stood for emerald, Valerie's birthstone; "S" stood for sapphire, Renee's birthstone; and as for "G," well, neither Deborah nor Marie had a birthstone beginning with that letter, but they did want their records to go gold. After permanently adding non-relative Tito Libran to the lineup as a conga player (some male members came and went prior to this), ESG was officially born. 

The group began by learning and playing songs by the likes of Rufus and The Rolling Stones; they also learned from watching music programs like "Don Kirschner's Rock Concert and Soul". The Scroggins' mother had barely scraped up enough cash to buy those instruments, so she didn't have enough left to get them music lessons. The group entered talent contests and even won a few of them. After performing at one particular New York show that they did not win, a judge named Ed Bahlman, the owner of 99 Records (a record shop and a label that included Y Pants, Liquid Liquid, Bush Tetras, and Konk on its roster), was impressed enough to take them under his wing as a manager and producer. At this point, ESG had a few of their own songs. Figuring people would know when they screwed up a cover, the group decided to write their own songs in order to sidestep audience knowledge of when mistakes were being made. 

Bahlman booked ESG at punk clubs. The group's sparse, heavily rhythmic, and unpolished sound fit right into the New York scene in which Bahlman's label was a significant factor. They debuted in 1979 at a place called the Mechanical Hall. A four-song repertoire was all they had to work with, and after those songs were over, the crowd asked for more. The same four songs were played over again. At another early gig, ESG opened for the Factory label's A Certain Ratio. ESG didn't know A Certain Ratio, but Factory head Tony Wilson asked the openers if they'd like to record something for his label. This resulted in 'You're No Good', a three-song single produced by Martin Hannett. The songs -"You're No Good," "UFO", and "Moody"- remain the group's best-known material. These three songs are among the best to have come from New York's no wave scene, a scene that ESG had little business being part of. ESG wasn't self-consciously arty and they didn't come from a punk background; they simply wrote and played their music without conceptualization. None of this matched with the no wave bands, but the sound the group made certainly did. 

The three songs from the 7" were issued in the States on 99 with three live songs from a Hurrah's appearance added. A year later, 99 issued another three-song single in the form of 'ESG Says Dance to the Beat of Moody'. This proved to people too dear to Factory and Hannett that the group had their own sound down and didn't need any outside influence or manipulation. A good debut LP, 'Come Away with ESG', came in 1983 and continued in the vein of the previous releases. After that, the group went dormant for several years. One major factor was Bahlman's decision to shut down 99. A legal battle with Sugarhill over Grandmaster Flash's sampling of Liquid Liquid's "Optimo" caused him financial and mental stress, with Sugarhill's fall into receivership -and inability to award 99 their due settlement- acting as the final straw. 

ESG would soon become victims of uncleared samples as well. In fact, there was a period during the early '90s when rap singles using the siren sound from "UFO" seemed more common than ones that sampled James Brown. ESG resurfaced for a number of small-label releases during this period, and a 1993 release was pointedly titled 'Sample Credits Don't Pay Our Bills'. Throughout the '90s, ESG's stature as an influential group began to rise, with groups like the Beastie Boys and Luscious Jackson citing them as a profound discovery. The value of the group's rare early releases responded in kind, which was remedied somewhat by the U.K.'s Soul Jazz label. 'A South Bronx Story', a compilation that included all the group's best material, was released in 2000. The renewed interest helped lead to another resurfacing that culminated in a 2002 album, 'Step Off', for Soul Jazz. With a revamped lineup that included Renee Scroggins' daughters, Nicole and Chistelle, 'Step Off' was met with the consensus that the group had picked up exactly where it left off. A reissue of 'Come Away with ESG' followed in 2006. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

lunes, 13 de marzo de 2017

The Slickee Boys

The Slickee Boys were a Washington, D.C. area punk-psychedelic-garage rock band whose most-remembered lineup consisted of guitarist Marshall Keith, guitarist Kim Kane, singer Mark Noone, and drummer Dan Palenski. The group was named after a G.I. slang term for the rockabilly-inspired Korean street toughs who sold black market goods to American soldiers. The band has become a legend in the D.C. punk community. They were known for their wild costumes and graphics. 

The band was founded in the mid-1970s by guitarists Kim Kane and Marshall Keith, with Kane as principal songwriter, and featured Martha Hull on vocals. The band released its first EP, 'Hot and Cool', in 1976. In 1978 Mark Noone replaced Hull as the singer, with the band benefitting from Noone's showmanship as well as his songwriting. In 1983, a music video for their song "When I Go to the Beach" placed second in MTV's Basement Tapes competition. In 1988 after a short European Tour, founding member Kim Kane departed to focus on his band Date Bait. The band soldiered on with long-time roadie, John Hansen, taking over on rhythm guitar until they called it quits in 1991. They hold the record for the most performances at 9:30 Club - 81 shows. Roadie, soundman, and guitarist John Hansen died on Friday, September 17, 2010, at the age of 47. His sister reported that he had committed suicide.

In the mid 80's The Slickee Boys formed their alter ego rockabilly band, The Wanktones. At some venues, including the now-defunct DC club The Wax Museum, The Wanktones "opened" for The Slickee Boys. On their first album released as The Wanktones, 'Have a Ball Y'all', the members are listed under the following pseudonyms: Del Marva, Bo Link, Mo Sloe, Ersel Wank, Floyd Glen Bernie, and Elmer Preslee. 'Live At The Fontana Bowlarama' was the second album by The Wanktones, released in 1999. [SOURCE: WIKIPEDIA

domingo, 12 de marzo de 2017

Motor Boys Motor

By 1981, Stiff and its original pub rock crowd had all moved on and matured, but there was still a great deal of talent playing pubs like the Hope and Anchor. The label couldn’t resist picking up one such band, Motor Boys Motor lead by a former Stranglers roadie, vocalist Terry Moon. Taking their name from Joe Strummer’s 101’s song, they went on to cut an album for Albion before guitarist Bill Carter and bassist Chris Thompson formed The Screaming Blue Messiahs, who had a mini-hit with "I Wanna Be A Flintstone". 

As soon as the NME caught them live, they were in love. “Motor Boys Motor are an R&B band,” they reported in 1981, “and that doesn’t mean they have anything to do with Q-Tips or other pallid revivalist staxboys. No, Motor Boys Motor come out of a rougher place, where early Yardbirds meet Howling Wolf. There’s something more modern in there too, a bit of Pere Ubu and sound for sound’s sake –plus Beefheart and early acid sounds, really psycho-delic.” [SOURCE: STIFF RECORDS