Tue 22 May 2012
So this collection has been getting quite a few hits lately, thanks to an appearance on BoingBoing and a lot of tweeting and shouting. Thanks to everyone who has forwarded the link and downloaded the tunes. Various band members have been appreciative in comments an in emails as well — it’s been great fun hearing from them.
Like the past collections, this one has a few oddities. On a whim, I decided to include a track from Neil Young’s “electronic” album Trans, a sweet one written, purportedly, for his autistic son who apparently responded more directly to the vocoder voice than to an unmodified human one. Also a little strange will be the two tracks by Peter Ivers, the first from one of his solo efforts and the latter the ditty he wrote for David Lynch’s first feature Eraserhead. Ivers was, of course, the host of LA’s New Wave Theatre on which many post-punk bands appeared. He was murdered in his apartment in 1983 in a still unsolved case. One occasionally hears about a Peter Ivers’ cult revival, and I must say I find much of Terminal Love, from which this track is taken, pretty great.
The track from Aurora Pushups might sound anachronistic — some of the members of this band played in Zolar X — but I find it really catchy. The B-side, “Victims of Terrorism,” was included on Jon Savage’s Black Hole Califironian Punk 1977-1980, and they are if anything more out of place there than here.
There’s also a cameo by ex-Dead Boys singer Stiv Bators, who moved to LA in an effort to become a punk-pop singer. Well, it’s part of the history! Seemingly out of place will be Phranc, the self-described “All-American Jewish Lesbian Folksinger,” but I thought to include her due to her previous membership in Nervous Gender (included in the first volume) and because I saw her open for The Smiths at Jones Beach back in the day.
Several bands have appeared in earlier volumes of this collection: Gleaming Spires (who, by the way, formed as the backing band of Sparks in the mid-70s) with their most famous tune “Are You Read For the Sex Girls,” whose video is incredibly boring and well worth watching; 17 Pygmies with another catchy tune with a female vocal; two tracks from the art collective Monitor, the second sounding like a cover of an ancient African ritual, and Outer Circle, the A-side from their second, final EP which could have been a hit if it were more professionally produced (and didn’t have such odd, misogynistic lyrics). The singer of Outer Circle, Steve “Spit” Spingola, went on to sing for the Fontanelles, who are best known for a track featured in the movie Hobgoblins; I prefer the track here over that one.
Also included are a few tracks from the ever-resourceful Steaming Coils and Freshly Wrapped Candies, another funk rap by Rand Kennedy, one final track from Null and Void (members of whom, by the way, worked on the first Berlin album), a bouncy one by Human Hands, a dark one by the Shadow Minstrels, and Cipher, this one with a strong, Siouxsie-ish vocal track. This collection starts with a very concrète Kommunity FK, who I’m beginning to think were terribly underrated — they only managed two LPs before last year’s La Santisima Muerte which I hear is very good.
While it’s never quite clear where the Cramps should be placed, geographically, they were originally from California and did record most of their records here, hence their inclusion. I never listened to them when I was younger but am now a huge fan. 45 Grave are often credited with starting the deathrock movement with their cover of “Riboflavin-Flavored, Non-Carbonated, Polyunsaturated Blood,” and I prefer the earlier, Darker Skratcher version to the glossier one from their LP. Pompeii 99 is kind of an earlier manifestation of Christian Death, joinging Rozz Williams after Rikk Agnew departed; this is one of their goofier tracks.
Running through this collection are a number of tracks by woman performance artists — Marina La Palma (is this title really Esperanto?), Marnie Weber, and most infamously Johanna Went. Marnie Weber (whose earlier band, the excellent Party Boys, are twice represented here) has sporadically recorded several LPs over the years, as well as having gained a reputation as a sculptor, film and video artist, costume designer, painter, etc. You can visit her website to find out more.
Partly Cloudy could almost be called a female performance act, as most of their tracks involve a sort of spoken comedy routine by vocalist-musician Aliz over some very compelling, industrial-ish backing tracks. Not unlike many LA bands included here, they seem not to have recorded anything past this first LP. I can’t find much else about them on the net.
The Gun Club are a well-known band that I wasn’t going to include since they seem a bit “roots” rock to me, but there’s no way to hear these tracks without thinking they are a bit too spastic to be traditional. Pop Art are the only “jangly” pop band that I know of from LA that cannot be associated with the Paisley Underground (outside of the Three O’Clock, most of that genre’s music leaves me a bit cold, but I’m trying…). The very psychedelic Drowning Pool recorded a handful of LPs and EPs, and I’m looking forward to hearing more of them as I love the weird, seemingly Yes-inspired “Festival of Healing.”
What I know about the rest of the bands here — Blissed Out Fatalists (who seem to have stolen a page from Jesus and Marychain’s playbook), Infantry (I really wish I had a better version of this track), Puppies (from San Diego), Cathedral of Tears, Shiva Burlesque (who actually have a substantial catalogue), Mnemonic Devices, Subjects (who I think might be from San Francisco…), Transport, Bone Cabal, Readymades and Burning Image is so pathetically little, I’ll just let you hear the songs and Google them if you want to learn more. I can tell you that if-then-else is basically The Weirdos doing an all synth album, and there is a nice post about Wog over at A Viable Commercial. Their LP sounds like it was recorded in a bedroom with a Casio keyboard, but actually many of the tracks are pretty compelling.
I’ll be slowly working on a volume 4, most likely the last one, over the next couple of months — new bands appear all the time the more I dig — so please stay tuned.
1 Kommunity FK — Incompatible Disposition (1983) 2:48
2 Neil Young — Transformer Man (1982) 3:23
3 Party Boys — Nora (1986) 3:53
4 Drowning Pool — Festival of Healing (1987) 2:56
5 Peter Ivers — Sweet enemy (1974) 2:46
6 17 Pygmies — Suit Of Nails (1985) 3:35
7 Gleaming Spires — Are You Ready for the Sex Girls? (1981) 3:59
8 Marina La Palma — Mi Ni Parolas (1984) 2:51
9 Blissed Out Fatalists — Everything & Nothing At All (1987) 3:03
10 Phranc — One O’ The Girls (1985) 4:58
11 The Cramps — Green Fuz (1981) 2:08
12 Infantry — The Call (1987) 3:50
13 Monitor — Amphibious (1981) 3:10
14 Wog — I Had a Notion (1988) 5:54
15 The Gun Club — Devil In The Woods (1982) 3:05
16 Outer Circle — My Mona Lisa (1984) 3:53
17 Pop Art — Never No (1987) 2:31
18 45 Grave — Riboflavin-Flavored, Non-Carbonated, Polyunsaturated Blood (1980) 2:38
19 Stiv Bators — Evil Boy (1979) 3:17
20 Puppies — Mechanical Beat (1981) 2:45
21 Human Hands — Jubilee (1981) 3:59
22 Cathedral of Tears — Calm Storm (1984) 3:00
23 Mnemonic Devices — Marriage Of Convenience (1982) 3:42
24 Freshly Wrapped Candies — Cherry Tomato (1989) 2:22
25 Shiva Burlesque — Arabesque (1990) 5:14
26 Pompeii 99 — Android Police (1982) 3:00
27 The Fontanelles — Passion Kills (1987) 2:57
28 Steaming Coils — Carne De Sol (1991) 2:59
29 Drowning Pool — The Italian Pop Song (1990) 5:37
30 Rand Kennedy — Smith’s Room (1983) 2:24
31 Null And Void — Un Sedatif Ce Soir (1980) 4:34
32 Cipher — Body Chemistry (1981) 2:09
33 Marnie — Everyone Loves Olga (1988) 3:09
34 Monitor — Mokele-Mbembe (1981) 3:23
35 The Gun Club — Preaching the Blues (1981) 3:59
36 Subjects — Augie (1982) 2:36
37 Transport — Body Buildings (1982) 3:49
38 Bone Cabal — I O Betulah (1983) 4:34
39 Shadow Minstrels — The Guest (1983) 2:30
40 Partly Cloudy — Bus Ride (1987) 3:16
41 Aurora Pushups — Angels on Runway (1978) 2:54
42 Readymades — Terry Is A Space Cadet (1977) 4:18
43 Burning Image — Time Is Running Out (1984) 4:09
44 Party Boys — I Love You (1986) 3:22
45 if-then-else — Sidewalker (1981) 5:23
46 Johanna Went — Slave Beyond The Grave (1981) 2:50
47 Peter Ivers — In Heaven (1977) 1:46