4.11.15

UT : 1st John Peel session - 15th May 1984 (Radio broadcast).

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Though I was already a regular listener to Peel's show by the time UT recorded their first session for him, I've no recollection of him broadcasting it & was probably in the pub arguing about Echo & The Bunnymen when I should've been at home listening to it. That said, I expect I may have still considered their aloof abstractions slightly too challenging at that point - & too great a stylistic leap from my (then) beloved New Order, Sisters Of Mercy, & Three Johns. Even The Fall would've sounded unusually orthodox by comparison I thnk? It would be another year or so, following my discovery of Sonic Youth's Bad Moon Rising LP & its radical re-wiring of the electric guitar, before UT & I finally crossed paths.

It appears that a lot of other ardent tapers were similarly nonchalant as I've never managed to find a complete recording of UT's set - I've pieced this one together from 3 different sources, so you can expect some minor sonic turbulence, but the important thing is that it's complete.

Amusingly, the session was produced by Radio 2's Mark Radcliffe, who you're more likely to hear pontificating about archaic Manchester punk or extolling the (questionable) virtues of Elbow from Salford's garish MediaCity - an imperious glass citadel for corporate luvvies riding the BBC's licence fee gravy train - nowadays.

Track-list: Confidential / Absent Farmer / Tell It (Atomic Energy Pattern) / Phoenix.

3.11.15

LEGOWELT : 9Tz Tapes & Unreleased 1992-2015 (Archival recordings).

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"Music itself is, of course, very mystic. It has always been used in mystic rites. If you look at house & techno music, it's a kind of occult - from a certain perspective. People try to get entranced or take certain substances to get into a higher dimension. Musical notes & frequencies work on your brain on a certain way. It's occult because people don't really know what's going on, but they're compelled by it. In the Western world - around the 9th century I believe - they started using polyphonic music in Christian churches. That music came from the East, & was used to influence you to the point of being in a trance-like state.

Medieval music was also very simple in rhythm. It was just one drum playing the same pattern all the time, so it's not that difficult to make a transition to a more modern-sounding thing. They're very similar. Techno music is a little bit faster, & it's made with electronic instruments, but in the end it's pretty much the same.

I like it when music is very... unclear. It's nice when you walk down the street & it's foggy. Your imagination works differently because you cannot see things clearly, only shadows & outlines. If you use a lot of misty, foggy effects - like old delays, reverbs, & filters - the music becomes more shadowy. You can still hear the melodies but they're a little more buried. I would hope it makes it more exciting to listen to. The listener can disover secret melodies, & their imagination can be tested. For me, it doesnt really matter what you use to make music because inside the hardware there's a chip too. The whole hardware vs. software, digital vs. analogue thing, it's completely not important for me. I think purism is a very bad thing, because then you confine yourself too much. Purism can be a dead end." - excerpts from an interview with Danny Wolfers by Lauren Martin, April 2014.

I've cherry-picked 9Tz Tapes & Unreleased's track-list from the extensive (& constantly expanding) selection of gratis add-ons, off-cuts, rejects & remnants that Legowelt's Danny Wolfers regularly deposits at his official online outpost - no doubt there will be stacks more up-for-grabs by the time you read this. Though I'm happy to bypass most contemporary house & techno these days (with a handful of notable exceptions), Wolfers' productions - released under a baffling multitude of preposterous nom de plumes - have maintained a stubborn foothold on the playlist at Chéz Rooksby. Channelling, to all intents & purposes, Blake Baxter & Vangelis on a Maplins budget, his murky tech-funk squints inscrutably through an amorphous pea-souper of undulating cassette hiss, cabalistic attic static, & forensic hardware thrum. It probably goes without saying that Wolfers' singularly warped productions have little in common with the banal cut-&-paste faux-house music that today's somnolent nappy-ravers wave their flaccid glow-sticks at as, skint & bewildered, they listlessly lurch 'round Europe's mangy flyer-littered dance-floors, clutching their £5 cans of Red Stripe & uploading photographs of their tacky trainers to Instagrim, before (inevitably) dropping their vomit-flecked iPhones down an overflowing crapper. Turn the flamethrower on 'em.

n.b. Cassette recorder depiction by Mees Zikijer.

Acid in my fridge

7.10.15

THE NIGHTINGALES : Idiot Strength (Vindaloo / Rough Trade 7", 1981).

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I posted the 'Gales debut 7" a while back but the files vamoosed back up the digital wizard's sleeve when Hotfile finally waved its white flag & discharged itself from active duty.

Released in 1981 (with a little financial assistance from Rough Trade), "Idiot Strength" hasn't dated in the slightest - it's angular, it's contentious, it's got a bone to pick, & if it was released tomorrow you'd probably buy a copy. How sad is it then that it's music of this ilk - 35 years old, I might add - that remains the focal point of the Beeb's default substitute for John Peel, i.e. the lamentably half-baked Radio 6? You'd naturally assume that an entire station's worth of meticulously coached DJs would compensate for the absence of one tubby middle-aged baldie in a Kenny Dalglish T-shirt but, as a large percentage of its playlist still appears to be gleaned from repeats of sessions Peel commissioned or records he used to play, apparently not. The words "missed opportunity" spring to mind (as do "short" & "sighted").

Anyway... The Nightingales were made up entirely of ex-Prefects at this early juncture: Joe Crow (guitar), Eamonn Duffy (bass), Paul Apperley (drums) & Robert Lloyd (cakehole) - though half of them had departed before the year was out. Immediately hereafter, Cherry Red stepped in & began releasing a string of scrappily exceptional 45s, en route to the barbed & rambunctious Pigs On Purpose LP. Neither side of "Idiot Strength" was included on Cherry Red's otherwise comprehensive rash of Nightingales' CD reissues. Tsk.

Truculently provincial, The Nightingales remain one of the UK's finest live bands - establishing a revivified quinquagenarian vanguard alongside Vic Godard's Subway Sect, Davey Henderson's Sexual Objects, the intermittent Blue Orchids, & the perennial Monochrome Set - & have recently been confirmed as part of Stewart Lee's All Tomorrow's Parties line-up: slobbering broadsheet write-ups to follow, etc (providing ATP don't flick the "abort" switch at the eleventh hour again). Which is some sort of vindication I suppose?

2.10.15

RAINY DAY WOMEN : Frauen Für Schlechte Tage (Monogam 7", 1980).

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Apparently, back in the late 1970s, West Berlin's governing Senate operated a generous policy of offering super-cheap loans of several thousand Deutsch Marks to vermählten frish (newly wed) settlers. Realising it was too good an opportunity to ignore, Monogam Records' founders Michael Voigt & Elisabeth Recker entered into a literal marriage of convenience to finance the pressing of their initial brace of releases, a sequence of excellent NDW/post-punk 7"s that included Rainy Day Women's eponymous debut. Rainy Day Women was Michael & Elisabeth's own project - frigid synths, scratchy guitar, numb vocals - that's them on the sleeve. Definitely not to be confused with the sapless Australian indie featherweights of the same name.

Though it existed for less than 2 years, Monogam found both the time & money to shepherd records by the emerging Einstürzende Neubauten (their debut single in fact), Mania D., Die Haut, Mark Reeder's Die Unbekannten, P1/E, & Rudolph Dietrich (an early member of Kleenex), as well as Rainy Day Women's only other release - an impossible-to-find untitled 4-song cassette with little-to-no packaging or extraneous information.

By the mid '80s, having retired their joint imprint, the Voigts were both moving within Nick Cave's caliginous circle: Michael's People's Records financed the recording of Honeymoon In Red - The Birthday Party's troubled collaboration with Lydia Lunch - but ran out of money before it was completed (the tapes were subsequently mislaid for several years), while Elisabeth dated the (cough) "Black Crow King" for a time following his split with his long-term partner Anita Lane.

30.9.15

DICK CAMPBELL : Dick Campbell Sings Where It's At (Mercury LP, 1965).

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"In 1965 I played in a band in Massachusetts, Dick Campbell & The Scarlets, as a guitarist, lead singer, & writer. We cut a demo album in Boston. A friend of mine had once met Gary Usher (close friend of Brian Wilson & co-writer of his early Beach Boys masterpiece "In My Room") & through him I sent a copy of the demo tape to Gary in California & he liked it. He called me to say he thought he could use some of the songs I'd written with other artists & that I should come to L.A. to write & work with him. That summer I started out by car for California, but stopped in Chicago to see what reaction I might get to the album from the labels there. Vee Jay wasn't interested, & Chess was into black artists, but Mercury liked some of the tunes & wanted to publish them. Mercury particularly liked a couple of my folk rock type tunes, & moreover, since Columbia had Dylan & they didn't, couldn't I write 10 more & they'd cut an album of me singing them? Now, in hindsight, I probably should have continued on out to the coast & gone to work for Usher then & there since most of his happening stuff occurred in the '60s. But instead, I signed a deal with Mercury Records & recorded Dick Campbell Sings Where It's At, which was pretty much a blatant rip-off of Bob Dylan.

To be sure, I was backed up by some very good musicians who have gone onto much bigger things since this project. There was Mike Bloomfield on lead guitar, just fresh from recording with Dylan on the Highway 61 Revisited LP. Marty Grebb of the Buckinghams also played guitar & Paul Butterfield was on harmonica. Mark Naftalin (another Butterfield acolyte) played organ & Sam Lay (a member of Dylan's band during his polarising Newport '65 set) was on drums. A kid from a local group called The Exceptions - Peter Cetera - played bass & he later had a brilliant career as the lead singer for Chicago. By the time I got done spinning my wheels in the Midwest (including a tour with The Guess Who, an appearance at The Bitter End, & marriage plus 3 children) it was 1969 before I got out to L.A. & went to work for Gary Usher."

Though much of Sings Where It's At's charm derives from it's audacious & incessant ersatz Dylanisms, further redeeming qualities seep through in due course, Dick's stylistic remit ultimately having been markedly broader than simply replicating "that Wild Mercury Sound" Zimmy was hungrily pursuing. Nonetheless, I'm still unsure as to whether I should listen to it at face value or not - was it simply a better-than-average cash-in, or is there an element of deadpan parody at play, for instance? Wittily satiric titles such as "Despair's Cafeteria", "Don Juan of the Western World", & "Approximately Four Minutes of Feeling Sorry For D.C." allude to the latter, but the entire album is such an entertaining listen that I don't think it really matters as, at half a century old, it's obviously something more substantial than mere kitsch appeal that keeps me tuning in.

Ridiculously, it's never - never!! - been reissued.

The Blues Peddlars

27.8.15

XTC : Live at The Old Waldrof, San Francisco - 25th February 1980 (Radio broadcast).

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One of the first & best British new wave bands, XTC scraped into the U.K. charts a handful of times during their long & turbulent "career in rock" but never quite captured the greater listening public's imagination or gained the support of the (then) all-important serious music press, earning themselves the undeserved (& peculiarly English) epithet of "irreverent underachievers". Hailing from nethermost Swindon - "a gritty little concrete industrial blob" as their agreeably eccentric frontman Andy Partridge once painted it - this unabashedly provincial ensemble formed in the early 1970s & stumbled along under a succession of ill-considered handles (Zip Code & The Helium Kidz, Star Park, Skyscraper, The Snakes), before settling on "XTC", around the same time that they discovered punk & began mailing demos to John Peel. Stylistically scattershot - much to their record company's chagrin &, ultimately, to their own fiscal detriment - their first two Virgin albums came & went in a squabbling maelstrom of Farfisa-infested, adrenalin-chraged post-punk power-pop. Merely frenetic on vinyl, their new wave-era live shows could be heart-stoppingly ferocious, wildly accelerated affairs, as this cudgelling FM radio broadcast affirms.

Recorded (yet again) at San Francisco's Old Waldorf Music Hall on 25th February 1980, the first show of a 2-night residency, XTC's set herein is an unusual selection of classic early singles ("Making Plans For Nigel" had recently scrambled into the top 20 in the U.K. & Canada), superior LP tracks (Real By Reel", "Battery Brides", "Complicated Game", the little-heard "Crowded Room"), & a few rarely-performed B-sides (I don't think I've ever heard them play "Heatwave" or "Instant Tunes" before). It's split fairly evenly between Partridge & his prudent songwriting foil Colin Moudling, & the disparities between the duo's compositional styles couldn't be more pronounced: inserting Colin's measured "Ten Feet Fall" (incidentally their debut U.S. 45) between the spasmodic double-whammy of Andy's "Scissor Man" & "Heliopter" here illustrates how melodically divergent the two of them were. At their finest - & particularly during Go2 or Drums & Wires' most inventive moments - early XTC sounded like a breakneck hybrid of Devo & The Kinks, minus the former's absurdist mechanised theatrics of course, but steeped in the unassuming parochial essence of Ray Davies' pebble-dashed lyrical Everywheresville.

Following XTC's dissolution in the early 2000s, Colin retreated into wilful non-musical obscurity & hasn't seemed to be in much of a hurry to talk to anybody since, but there are dozens - perhaps hundreds - of Andy Partridge interviews online. I recommend you do yourself a massive favour & read all of them, beginning with this relatively recent & particularly candid one. Then go & check out his inimitably unorthodox boutique record label. He may be a certified garden shed looney & a walking disaster area but I can't help liking him.

Set-list: (Intro tape) / Beatown / Real By Reel / When You're Near Me I Have Difficulty / Life Begins at the Hop / The Rhythm / Meccanik Dancing (Oh We Go!) / Heatwave / Scissor Man / Ten Feet Tall / Helicopter / This is Pop / Battery Brides (Andy Paints Brian) / Statue of Liberty / Instant Tunes / Crowded Room / Are You Receiving Me? / Complicated Game / Making Plans For Nigel.

n.b. Eternal gratitude (once again) to Mr. Hammer.

● Instant Tunes

19.8.15

ROBERT FRIPP : Mark Radcliffe session - 12th November 1996 / Robert Reads Hardy - 15th December 1996 (Radio broadcasts).

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On the one hand, the lifespan of this post may only amount to a matter of scant minutes as Herr Fripp is notoriously exacting with regard to copyright (& who can blame him, it's his livelihood after all?). On the other, all of these tracks were originally recorded for the BBC & have been "officially" released in the past as digital loss leaders c/o King Crimson's own DGM website. So who knows, perhaps he'll turn a blind eye on this occasion?

Performed live on 12th November 1996 for Mark Radcliffe's Evening Show (at the Beeb's since-demolished Oxford Road studio in Manchester), these 4 relatively brief (but nonetheless remarkable) Frippertronic exercises are book-ended by amusing & enlightening chats with stand-in host Stuart Maconie, Radcliffe & his his sidekick Lard (ex-Creeper Marc Riley) both having cryptically absented themselves on the night in question.

Fripp appeared on Radcliffe's show again the following month, reciting a quartet of Thomas Hardy readings in his rhotic Dorset burr for broadcast on 15th December, accompanied by his own gentle ambient soundscapes. Apparently only a couple of the poems were used on the night, but I've been able to include the complete set here - thanks once more to DGM's cavernous annals - with Robert's own potty-mouthed introductions intact.

If you're so inclined, a dumbfounding myriad of King Crimson & Fripp-related paraphernalia (including hundreds of hours of historical recordings unavailable elsewhere) are available from DGM's vast & constantly expanding archive. I recommend you peruse Robert's minutely detailed online diary while you're there, though sadly it only seems to updated sporadically nowadays.

● Horse Trumpets

20.7.15

SPK : At The Crypt (Sterile Records 1-sided C-90, 1981).

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Though arguably responsible for more unintentionally titter-worthy sub-T.G. codswallop than most Industrial acts in the early 1980s - i.e. viscera-encrusted sour-faced Antipodeans barking in die Muttersprache over looped recordings of Der Führer & camp Bobby O (...if only they'd known!) sequencers & ultimately sounding about as frightening as Freddie Starr's farcical Hitler-in-gumboots - on a good night SPK were still more than capable of engendering a venally thrilling typhoon of blood-tinglingly brutal white noise & depraved synth corruption, providing the planets aligned & the drugs kicked in on time, as this tour-de-force London performance-cum-assault demonstrates. It's an profoundly oppressive din.

"In 1980 we were performing in a squatted railway arch in Atlantic Road, Brixton. There were riots going on at the time, a response ti Thatcher's racist policing operations. The street outside was strewn with rocks & the burned-out shells of cars, the end of the road was blocked by rows of policeman. we'd seen SPK perform a few weeks earlier in Heaven, a gay nightclub, where they'd turned strobe lights on in the face of the audience. Whether this was an SPK stunt, or Heaven's usual policy, I never found out. But we knew they were coming to see us in the railway arch, so in homage we'd turned the strobe lights on the audience. I remember Graeme (Ravell, aka Operator, aka Oblivion) complaining in the pub afterwards that he thought he was going to have a fit. We became friendly & they invited us to play with them at The Crypt, a youth centre in North London, at the height of their noisy period. I recorded the show on my Walkman, & I think it's the only live recording they ever allowed to be released. If you listen carefully you can hear me & my brother arguing over the Walkman's switched on or not" - Nigel Ayers, Nocturnal Emissions.

A 1-sided cassette, At The Crypt was recorded at the venue of the same name in Paddington (also known as the Cryptic One Club) on 25th April 1981 & was released later that year on Sterile Records, a label founded by that evening's support band Nocturnal Emissions. SPK's line-up on this occasion was Operator (synth, tapes, metal, & vocals), Tone Generator, aka Dominik Guerin, (synths & visuals) & Mike Wilkins (guitar & bass).

By 1984 it was all over. Signed to WEA on the back of a Neubauten / Test Dept.-led metal-banging music press fad, the by-then hopelessly watered-down SPK (complete with a newly-instated "sexy" female vocalist) secured an appearance on The Tube & managed to make themselves look not only completely ridiculous, but also pitifully ineffectual. Machine Age Voodoo, their debut major label LP, arrived & departed without anybody really noticing & shortly thereafter they were discreetly dropped.

Ex-frontman Revell disbanded SPK in 1988 & now makes a mint composing scores for big budget schlock in Hollywood.

Set-list: Berufsverbot / Emanation Machine R.Gie 1916 / Ground Zero : Infinity Dose / Stammheium Torturkammer / Serenade / "John" / Victim.

●  SRC 4

6.7.15

MANIA D.: Li(f)ve In Düsseldorf & SO (Eisengrau C-50, 1980).

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"Bettina (Köster) & I ran this store called Eisengrau in Golzstrasse. It was a clothing store, but also a hangout for peopl eot exchange ideas & listen to music. There weren't many places like that in West Berlin. We had a pinball machine that someone had brought round. It was a big, empty store we had painted iron grey. That's where the name came from. We sold dyed shoes & T-shirts from New York by Wiebe whose clothes we had on commission. Wolfgang Müller sold his fanzines. And out of sheer boredom I put up a knitting machine & designed by own knitwear - lots of grey & colours that didn't match, weird patterns, simple hems, fringes & those multi-coloured knit pants for men. Later, I continued the store with Blixa Bargeld & we also sold the Eisengrau Allstars Tapes, which were live & rehearsal recordings. Unfortunately I don't have a single one left.

The first Mania D. took place in September 1979 in Wuppertal. We rehearsed in the basement of Blixa Bargeld's storefront apartment in Langenscheidstrasse. Blixa wanted to start a band too, & asked us if we were interested in joining. We said "Sure we do!". Those were the beginnings of Einstürzende Neubauten. As spontaneously as we came together, we went our separate ways again. The most important thing for us was having fun, getting along. We didn't have a business strategy or anything, like they did in England, where pop music was conquering the world.

We were strong women, not delicate fairies, not flute players. We wanted to make a point of that. The hippies did the exact opposite. Although I did knit. But on a knitting machine. That was the slight but significant difference!" - Extracts from a conversation between Gudrun Gut & Robert Defcon, June 2014.

Recorded at Düsseldforf's Ratinger Hof pub & the SO36 club in Berlin (which, remarkably, is still open for business), released in miniscule quantities (possibly as few as 20 copies) on their own hand-crafted Eisngrau cassette label, & allying punishing post-punk bedlam with clandestine Weimar-era cabaret jazz, the music contained on this often astonishing Mania D. tape (their only other "official" release besides a precursory 3-song 7") reminds me of absolutely nobody else. Virtually every other Eisengrau title I've heard to date has been just as extraordinary - be it an anarchic early Einstürzende Neubauten performance or the eccentric Die Tödliche Doris' vulgar vaudeville - indispensable stuff. Box-set now please.

The striking colour photographs were taken on location at Teufelsberg (aka Devil's Mountain), Grunewald, West Berlin by saxophonist Eva Gössling in 1979.

History: here / interview: here.

18.6.15

SON HOUSE : Top Gear session - 6th July 1970 (Radio broadcast).

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"Several years ago when I was driving to Frank Freeman's Dancing School in Kidderminster with Captain Beefheart, the Captain told me that the person he most admired was Son House. And if somebody had told me two or three years ago when this programme started thatwe would be having Son House on Top Gear, I wouldn't have believed them, but we do & it's a joy that he is, because Son House basically is where it all began."

Remarkably, Eddie James "Son" House Jr. was 68 years old (& still touring!) when he recorded this session for John Peel's Top Gear show back in July 1970. Transmitted on 11th July - producer John Walters' birthday - Peel appeared both delighted & somewhat flabbergasted to have Mr. House on his show - "the nicest show we've had for as long as I can remember".

Earlier that month, Peel had attended a Son House performance at Oxford Street's 100 Club & was reportedly furious that some factions of the audience were rude enough to talk throughout his set, culminating in Peel clambering on stage to reprimand the culprits, demanding they either be quiet or go home, & offering to personally refund the cost of their tickets so that the rest of the crowd could listen undisturbed.

The session was taped on 6th July at the BBC's Playhouse Theatre in London's West End, & was produced by Walters with engineer Pete Ritzema. A recording of the complete hour-long show is available online if you can be bothered to search for it - replete with further sessions from Kevin Ayers' recently-formed Whole World troupe & Bristol's best-forgotten East Of Eden.

Track-list: My Good Gal / Monologue 1 / Death Letter / Monologue 2 / Grinnin' In Your Face.

(Son House portrait by Robert Crumb from his Heroes of The Blues Trading Cards series.)

Mississippi Department of Corrections

17.6.15

DAVE GRANEY & THE CORAL SNAKES : At His Stone Beach EP (Fire 12", 1988).

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Dave Graney - droll lounge-loving troubadour, safari-suited cowboy punk, laconic Renaissance man, eccentric Australian icon, etc - formed legendary post-punk band The Moodists in 1980 from the debris of Adelaide-based outfit The Sputniks with long-term partner / drummer Claire Moore, & Steve Miller, later drafting in Chris Walsh (The Negatives, The Fabulous Marquises) & ex-Fungus Brains guitarist Mick Turner (a member of The Dirty Three nowadays), to concoct the anomalous mid-'80s leather-clad ex-pat scuzz triumvirate of Engine Shudder, Thirsty's Calling, & Double Life, bagging themselves a gone-in-a-heartbeat Creation Records' contract into the bargain, before discreetly disbanding eight years later:

"We lived & played in the derelict, bohemian Melbourne suburb of St. Kilda & when we travelled to Sydney, we played almost exclusively in the derelict, bohemian inner city suburb of Darlinghurst. In Australia, the suburban pubs were where you went to pursue a career in music. We only played the inner city venues. We never even really tried to venture any further. In essence, most of the inner city crowd all came from the outer suburbs & didn't really want to go back. In late 1983 we moved to London where we spent the rest of what was our career... Our friends & contemporaries were The Go-Betweens, The Birthday Party, The Laughing Clowns, The Triffids, The Died Pretty, The Beasts of Bourbon... Our first shows in the U.K. were opening for The Fall & The Go-Betweens. I would characterise it as more of an inerior, mythological trip we were on. All the music we heard & the magazines we read were imported. It was all exotic & so very far away. I loved living in London & touring in Europe. It was dramatic & exciting. I learned so much & was able to dive into my obsessions & interests: pulp crimes books & rock music. Saw lots of great live music. I landed in 1983 with £70 & spent 40 on a leather jacket. I never intended to return to Australia but ultimately didn't have the right heritage or visa to stay."

When The Moodists formally fractured in 1987, Graney, Moore & Walsh briefly renamed themselves The White Buffaloes & released their comprehensively shunned My Life On The Plains LP, wherefrom Graney's Buffalo Bill-indebted raconteur-persona slowly began to evolve. Resting place of the classic "Robert Ford on the Stage" & the unassumingly lovely "Girl In The Moon" - still two of my absolute favourite Graney songs - its covers of Gram Parsons, Fred Neil, & "The Streets of Laredo" must have sounded resolutely alien alongside Surfer Rosa, Isn't Anything, Viva Hate, & Daydream Nation. But I wouldn't know because, like virtually everybody else, I was too busy dribbling over Hairway To Steven to give it the time of day (sorry, Dave). The White Buffaloes were pre-dated by a formative & equally short-lived incarnation of The Coral Snakes - featuring ex-Orange Juice / Josef K guitarist Malcolm Ross (who'd appeared in The Moodists' terminal line-up with O.J.'s David McClymont) & Rudi's Gordy Blair on bass - who only managed to record a solitary e.p. for Fire Records in 1989 before visa issues finally forced Graney & Moore back to Australia. Produced by Barry Adamson, At His Stone Beach's four croon-fronted piano-led songs similarly made little-to-no impression. At this point, Graney maintains, he was largely concerned with becoming a writer for other artists - preferably female vocalists - which perhaps explains why this germinal clutch of songs sounds so different to The Moodists' well-established vernacular? Though Graney's major breakthrough followed a couple of albums later with the reformed Coral Snakes' Night Of The Wolverine LP in 1993, it's My Life On The Plains, & particularly At His Stone Beach, that I still pluck off the shelf most frequently.

Reportedly, Graney is currently supervising the digital release of the acoustic demos for Night Of The Wolverine & some unreleased late-period Moodists recordings. Let's see what happens.

Je te tire mon chapeau: The Beige Baron at Brown Noise Unit.

Another life flashed before my eyes

9.6.15

KLEENEX : Live at Concordia, Zürich - 12th (or 13th) March 1979 (Cassette recording).

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"It was a small scene & everybody knew everybody. When we started, we just had four songs & we played for our friends. We played the four songs in fifteen minutes & they'd say "Go again! Go again!" so we'd play the songs again for four hours. We thought it would be fun to do the single with our four songs for our friends - the same four songs we would play at gigs for hours & hours until we got tired. Somehow John Peel got the E.P. & he played it over & over. Rough Trade heard it - they organised a tour for us in England. We were on a package tour with The Raincoats & Spizzenergi. It was a great experience.

In the beginning, we were just in Zürich & we never thought that we would go abroad. The Kleenex company found out about us & they said we had to change our name or otherwise they will call Rough Trade to destroy all the records & we couldn't sell them anymore. We had to pay thousands of Swiss francs for this so we had to decide to change the name. Also, Regula Sing left & then we thought we were city indians or small like Liliput, little girls.

We had great support in Zürich, it all started with this youth riot. I was a bit older than the people in the riots, but it's a small town & there were these political questions & we had to say what we thought. We didn't have songs like "Fuck The System" like other bands had. We didn't throw stones & smash windows. We stood there & played songs. Though it sounds like nonsense words, it always had to do with the situation." - Excerpts from an interview with Marlene Marder by Jason Gross, Perfect Sound Forever, May 1998.

Parenthetically, I've dragged the lake (so to speak) hoping to discover what Kleenex's former members have been up to since Liliput separated in the mid 1980s, but details are scant - that's to say: non-existent. Other than Klaudia Schifferle 's well-documented subsequent career as a prolific & highly respected painter / sculptor, the only other information I've found refers to Marlene Marder's work with the World Wildlife Fund. Any more for any more?

Set-list: You / Nighttoad / Hedi's Head / (Unknown) / Madness / (Unknown) / Nice / Ain't You / Lust - Thumblerdoll / I Love You (1) / I Love You (2) / Beri-Beri.

Never mind the bollocks

8.6.15

PINK INDUSTRY : What I Wouldn't Give (Zulu 7", 1984).

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"Nothing that's got any potency is ever accepted by the established art world at the moment of potency... it's only in retrospect that they're able to assimilate it into their culture" - Jayne Casey talking about the KLF, though she might just as well have been talking about her own unjustly neglected Pink Industry.

Big In Japan & Pink Military - two storied arbors of Merseyside's punk &s post-punk eras ("A magical portal where a generation of Liverpool musicians discovered the lexicon of life", she says) which both included Jayne as vocalist - have never really captured my imagination (look, I've tried, but...). Pink Industry, however, are a band that I've admired since the early 1980s - from the moment I heard John Peel broadcast their penultimate session (of four) for him. August 1983, in fact.

Following the dissolution of the short-lived (but highly regarded) Pink Military in 1981, Jayne dispensed with the idea of joining another default-4-piece post-punk guitar band, choosing instead to collaborate with local multi-instrumentalist Amrbose Reynolds (who'd also played briefly with Big In Japan, as well as the embryonic Frankie Goes To Hollywood). Pursing a distinctly more electronic (& experimental) direction than before, the duo operated a revolving door policy as far as supporting musicians were concerned, though guitarist Tadzio Jodlowski would be recruited on a full-time basis in time for their second LP.

Perpetually hampered by a debilitating dearth of funds & a frustratingly "make-do" collection of equipment, it's (arguably) the band's fleshed-out BBC sessions that capture them at their most impressive. Sadly, said recordings are only accessible via grainy Youtube uploads (from disintegrating timeworn cassettes) nowadays - though a handful of them allegedly appeared on a limited edition pressing of an already impossible-to-track-down Brazilian Pink Industry compilation CD a few years ago. Of their trio of cheaply recorded (at home) but near-perfect LPs, only the first, 1983's Low Technology, has ever been reissued - carefully repackaged & sympathetically remastered by Germany's Isegrimm label. It's a dispiriting situation, but perhaps Jayne & Ambrose prefer it that way? After all, sometimes it's better to simply draw a line & walk away...

1984's provocative "What I Wouldn't Give" 7" - with it's cheeky Morrissey-bedecked sleeve - slid briefly into the top ten of the independent singles chart upon release but still passed most people by. A lot gem, it's one of Pink Industry's finest productions: Jayne's carnal drawl - a sort-of Marlene Deitrich-meets-Lou Reed affair if you can imagine that? - weaves an enticing path between Ambrose's languid dual basses, the pulsating drum machine, & an apparitional sax submerged in a slough of opiated sound effects. An unusual, thought-provoking, & curiously timeless record by one of the '80s great "lost" bands.

Leave it buried at the bottom of the bed

6.6.15

NICO & THE FACTION : Live at Gaskessell, Bern, Switzerland - 28th November 1986 (Cassette recording).

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"I don't have a home. (On my passport) it says "ohne festern Wohnsitz", which means "without a fixed address". And I prefer that, because it's like being married when you have a home. God, it's terrible. I lived on a ship, but I don't live there anymore. I live in Brixton now. Hell's Kitchen on the Lower East Side in New York is much more dangerous. When you live in a dangerous place, you also become increasingly dangerous. You might just wind up in jail.

I grew up on opera with my mother taking me when I was a child & it sort of got branded in my brain. But I always preferred jazz already, as a young adolescent I preferred jazz,  free jazz. I met Bob Dylan & he sort of changed the idea that I had that I should only sing torrid, torrid songs, you know, love songs. I started singing Bob Dylan songs - when I was on three Ready, Steady, Go! shows in England, two Dylan songs & one Gordon Lightfoot song. (Dylan) sang me a number of songs when he used to baby-sit for my son, & so I asked him if I could have if I could sing that song, he sent me a demo with the melody & the lyrics. Dylan's manager, Albert (Grossman) bought me a ticket & said I should come over there (to America). That's how I met Andy again, whom I'd met previously in Paris. I only wanted to be with the underground people, I wasn't interested in fashion anymore, & I also had studied acting with Lee Strasberg, which helped me a lot to sort of discover myself like all young people always have to discover themselves.

(Jim Morrison), he was my soul brother. He taught me to write songs. I never thought that I could. He really inspired me a lot. It was like looking in a mirror then. Musically, I might get inspired by Egyptian music, & some Pakistani music. Arab music. I love Arabic music. Music like Philip Glass, Stockhausen, Steve Reich, I love that too. I want to write more songs in India. I'll stop there for a month. Then I have to go to England & continue singing. I would have liked to have gone to the Amazon river, just sail along & record my record there with the drumming..." - Extracts from an interview by Steven Walker, Melbourne, 19th February 1986.

Set-list: My Heart is Empty / Purple Lips / Procession / Harry Hudson / Janitor of Lunacy / König / Frozen Warnings / You Forgot to Answer / I'll Be Your Mirror / Tanamore / Eulogy to Lenny Bruce /
Fearfully in Danger / Genghis Khan.

Das lied vom einsamen mädchen

4.6.15

THE CURE : Live at Markthalle, Hamburg - 16th October 1980 (Cassette recording).

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""It's fun watching people disintegrate." C'est la bloody vie. Crumpled in the back seats of a minibus erratically bumping & grinding through the wasted plains of Benelux. Acne, dirty clothes & hotel rooms. Unglamourous "sufferings". The pitfalls of this falsified situation. A bedroom-bound school band sensible enough to remember & retain the aura & values of those Saturday gigs in the church hall - uncluttered & direct. Dancing down the lonely aisle of my teens, only to be stopped in my tracks by the eerie cascade of Seventeen Seconds. Morbid, hateful, tender & frightened. Growing up in public, exploring & expanding the grey matters of one black & white incident, canning a mood & repeating it relentlessly in the bedsits of (other) young lovers. Sometimes it's hard to believe all that sound is emanating from just the 3 figures washed in the alternating blue, white, red, green floods of light. "All Cats Are Grey" drifts by through the clouds of dope smoke hanging in the hall. I close my eyes & think of Hawkwind, the Buzzcocks, Pink Floyd, Joy Division. "I'm still not sure what people make of us. We did a gig with The Fall, & Mark E. Smith just sat there saying we were a bunch of art school wankers, & there he was going through the same old motions, pissing himself up to bring out his feelings. Who's totally wired?"" - Excerpts from Playing For Today, an article by Simon Dwyer, Sounds, 8th November 1980.

Side 1: The Holy Hour / Play For Today / Three Imaginary Boys / Primary / 10:15 Saturday Night / Accuracy / In Your House / At Night;
Side 2:  M / Fire in Cairo / Boys Don't Cry / Another Day / Jumping Someone Else's Train / Another Journey By Train / Grinding Halt / A Forest / Seventeen Seconds.

Everything's coming to a grinding halt

3.6.15

TALKING HEADS : Live at The Old Waldorf, San Francisco CA - 3rd December 1977 (Cassette recording).

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By the time Talking Heads played this December 1977 show, their "Psycho Killer" 45 was already an established underground hit & David Byrne was well on his way to becoming a commanding on-stage presence - terse & economical rather than, as per somewhat muted earlier recorded performances, nervous & reticent ("I was a peculiar young man", quoth he, "borderline Asperger's I would guess").

With Jerry Harrison on-board, filling out their once-skeletal sound with keyboards & additional guitar, the band sound lean, tight, & super-confident. Recorded at Bill Graham's Old Waldorf music hall in San Francisco, their set was broadcast on local FM radio & quickly bootlegged as part of the oft-referenced Sharp Objects series. In addition to offering an opportunity to hear formative versions of these songs before Eno fed them through his subtle textural processing devices for More Songs About Buildings & Food, it's also far better than anything on the officially released - & profoundly disappointing - The Name Of This Band Is Talking Heads live LP.

Sadly there were no Question Mark & The Mysterians covers on this occasion, just a smidgen of 1910 Fruitgum Co. flavoured bubblegum.

n.b. Tina Weymouth photograph taken from Big Star #3, pub. 1978.

Set-list: Uh-oh, Love Comes To Town / With Our Love / The Book I Read / Artists Only / Stay Hungry / The Big Country / New Feeling / Thank You For Sending Me An Angel / Who Is It? / Psycho Killer / No Compassion / No Compassion (Reprise) / 1-2-3 Red Light.

I wish you wouldn't do that

2.6.15

SLEEPARCHIVE : Elephant Island EP (Sleeparchive 12", 2004).

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Teutonic basement techno with a gratifying android crunch.

Some time ago, a friend of mine was listening to a Sleeparchive mix on his iPod while wandering across town to pick up some lunch. Passing a bustling building site, he instinctively leapt into the street, confusing the sounds on his headphones with the clatter of falling masonry & fearing imminent death. I can't think of a greater recommendation than that, frankly...

Listening back to "old" (a decade being a relative eternity in club music terms, of course) productions like this, it's not difficult to see why so many admirers of progressive electronica were comprehensively dismissive of - for instance - Factory Floor's app-driven Blast First era.

Sleeparchivist Roger Semsroth is currently based in Berlin & continues to release new music under various guises, here & elsewhere.