24.11.14

THE JESUS & MARY CHAIN : Cutmedeadnailmedownandkickmyhead (Vinyl bootleg, 1985).

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Jim & William Reid, long-estranged middle aged enfant terribles of the late '80s NME cognoscenti, unexpectedly reformed The Jesus & Mary Chain last year. They arrived back in Britain a week ago, following a slew of foreign dates, & tentative reports suggest that they're hellbent on playing their sole masterpiece - 1985's still unparalleled, ear-skewering Psychocandy - in it's entirety. 30 years ago they were, briefly, my favourite band - I was still in my late teens, after all - but I've not seen them perform live, or bought any of their records (their 1998 swan song, Munki, aside) since 1987. I'm actually quite excited at the prospect of seeing them again, no matter how unsightly a mid-rift (physically or musically) they might've developed since their student-baiting, p.a. upending heyday.

Cutmedeadnailmedownandkickmyhead was/is one of the earliest Mary Chain bootlegs, clad in a paisley-bedecked sleeve & comprising 2 complete (though characteristically succinct) 1984-5 shows. Specific dates & locations are not included (somewhere in England judging by the crowd's response) - the sleeve wryly suggests it was "recorded live at Westminster Abbey"- but the sound quality is superb (particularly on side 2), the feedback is utterly lacerating throughout (hooray), & their rarely aired Pink Floyd, Subway Sect, & Standells covers are all included.

There's no denying that they blew it with Darklands - a tactical retreat from pitiless white noise was (perhaps) understandable, but where were the songs? - but, for a fleeting, electrifying moment (captured in their early records & John Peel sessions, & at chaotic shows like these) it genuinely felt like The Jesus & Mary Chain might change everything. Which sounds hopelessly naive on reflection, of course.

Side 1: In a Hole / Vegetable Man / Taste the Floor / Ambition / Barracuda / The Living End / Jesus Fuck / Side 2: In a Hole / Vegetable Man / Taste the Floor / Ambition / Inside Me / Barracuda / Jesus Fuck.

Crack Johnny Crack

11.11.14

BASEMENT 5 : Silicon Chip EP (Island 10", 1980) / John Peel session 1980 (Radio broadcast).

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Reposted by request, & puzzlingly omitted from the otherwise authoritative 1965-1980/In Dub compilation, here are a couple of vital missing pieces from the Basement 5 jigsaw. "Silicon Chip" was the band's debut release (on 7" & extended 10") & even a cursory listen throws up all the usual "why wasn't this a massive hit?"-type misgivings. A rather weird, very under-rated single, it's quirky chart-friendly (this was 1980 remember...) veneer is offset by some cogent bottom end wobble, with trace elements of PiL & early On-U Sound very much in evidence (B5 were often lazily tagged as a "black PiL" after all). "Chip Butty" is, of course, a dubby versioned version of the a-side.

Their only Peel session was recorded on 21st April 1980 with Maida Vale whiz Tony Wilson - "another one", as Peel would wryly mutter. The line-up at this point comprised of Dennis Morris on vocals, the mysterious J.R. on guitar, Leo Williams on bass & T (aka "Tony") on drums (replaced on vinyl by PiL's Richard Dudanski). Essentially thrashed out live in a well-equipped BBC studio, it's heavier & rootsier than their records & goes someway to corroborating those "You had to see them live" testimonials we've all enviously read. The extended version of "Silicon Chip" is the high-point for me, but all of these BBC takes are superior to the official Island versions I think? Sound quality is A+ throughout (though "Immigration" unfortunately cuts slightly prematurely) - massive thanks to whoever had the foresight to archive it to cassette & take care of it for so long (in other words I've forgotten where I found it, sorry).

22.10.14

THURSTON + BECK : Mind Wars (Fonograf cassette, 2012)

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Mind Wars is an entirely instrumental improvised 2-track cassette collage, issued on cassette (manufactured by Burger Records) in a once-only edition of 270 hand-numbered copies, that was sold exclusively on Beck's 2012 Australian tour. There are no recording details included, but I suspect their collaboration was a long-distance affair.

If you are/were a fan of the messier Stereopathetic Soul Manure / Master-Dik annexes of these sonic elders' oeuvres then you'll probably enjoy this, though I imagine it's unlikely "listener enjoyment" was anywhere near the top of their must-do list when they recorded it.

Misdrawn

18.10.14

TRASH : On & On With Lou Reed (New World of Sound 7", 1992).

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Trash were an on/off New Zealand pseudo-"supergroup" (currently inactive), bringing together the licentious talents of Bruce Blucher & Paul Cahill (who'd previously played together in Cyclops & The Alpaca Brothers) with drummer par excellence Robbie Yeats (veteran of The Dead C, The Verlaines, The Renderers, King Loser & numerous others). The three of them also joined forces as Brown Velvet Couch, accompanying vocalist Viv Crowe, for an obscure one-off 7" on the short-lived Roof Bolt label in 1994.

Trash were decidedly less highbrow than most of the other bands they'd performed in - but exhilaratingly so. As you can doubtless surmise from it's titles, their debut 7" had it's tongue lodged firmly in it's beatnik cheek, but that doesn't make it any less terrific a record. A muttering, stumbling hangover of a 45, it's surprisingly ended up being one of the most fondly remembered releases of Dunedin's frenetic early '90s era, with a couple bearded / balding gents of my acquaintance laying claim to it's being one of their favourite 7"s ever. Even John Peel, whose support for the NZ scene was, on reflection, curiously half-hearted, deemed to spin it once or twice. No doubt it's unruly amateurism reminded him of Swell Maps, Mekons & the like?

Recorded by authentic NZ legend Peter Jefferies in July 1992, & released on New Jersey's New World Of Sound later the same year, both sides of this long-deleted 7" sound as snottily splendid now as they did nearly two decades ago. Tellingly, it culminates in an anonymous peal of salacious, chest-rattling laughter worthy of Sid James himself, & that's always a good sign isn't it?