R.E.M. – Chronic Town (1982)

SAM_0062REVEALED: DARKNESS, STROKES IN SCALP DEAL  Fans Fear Hammond Will Not Recover Curly Mop
(New York City, New York) – Details have today emerged of a deal between the respective managements of The Darkness and The Strokes to stem the tide of male pattern baldness in The Darkness lead singer Justin Hawkins in time for the release of the pop metal band’s 2012 LP Hot Cakes. In exchange for a ready supply of their coarse Mediterranean locks, The Strokes received substantial “irony” payments, which will allow them to affect different detached poses in relation to their art. In addition, the band will retain “pop sheen veneer” options, which the scruffy, leather-clad neo-punkers hope will reverse sliding fortunes as they ready promotions for their difficult fourth album, Angels.

Justin Hawkins was understandably nervous about the move: The history of intra-band, let alone inter-band, hair transplants has not always been a pretty one. For every Status Quo/Rick Parfaitt/Francis Rossi miracle, when blond hair took to brown follicles, there are ten R.E.M./Mike Mills/Michael Stipe disasters where, after an uncertain and frizzy start, Stipe was forced to give up, shave his head and, at times, affect a silly blue make-up eyestrip mask.

And don’t let’s even get started on the tragic early 90s cross gender hair transfer between Celine Dion and Michael Bolton.

Accordingly, the be-spandexed lead singer was initially in favour of the less invasive Scorpions Manoever, so named for the famously all-balding heavy metal band, whereby whatever remaining hair is sprayed high with a “thickening” agent. It is said that his similarly thinning haired guitarist brother, Dan, who pointed out how thoroughly ridiculous the Germans looked by their Love Bite album, persuaded Hawkins otherwise.

Negotiations were no less fraught on The Strokes side with bassist Nikolai Fraiture arguing that irony and pop sheen veneer were “the last refuges of a scoundrel” and would cost the band their remaining shreds of street credibility. He was voted down 5 – 1 by the rest of the band who were intent on avoiding what another member called “the dead end of cult hero-dom.”

However, while The Darkness seems to have more hair than ever, there is photographic evidence that Strokes guitarist Albert Hammond, Jr, once the band’s hairiest member, may be suffering permanent follicle depletion as a result of the deal; and neither group seems to benefitted public imagination capturing-wise.

Albums Compilations Reggae

Dubble Attack – The Original Pantomine Dee-Jay Collection 1972-74 (GREL601) (1989)


(Kingston, JA) – Jamaican MC Waanriddim is a DJ with a difference: the rapper born Neville Richard only ever rides a single backing track.

“Ain’t But De Waanriddim” (Studio Waan 7″), the Kingston DJ’s debut single, is currently number 18 on the Billboard download chart. It is featured on Waanriddim’s first album, M’ Riddims All Sound De Same (Studio Waan double 10″), a 27-cut “megamix”, which comes out next week. Waanriddim’s sophomore LP, currently under production, is due a few days later on the Channel Waan label. All will utilise precisely the same riddim and feature Waanriddim’s “singjay” style toasts and a few dubs.

One-Rhythm albums (full-length LPs made up of various artists’ vocal, dub, instrumental and DJ versions ‘pon the same backing track) are now relatively common, but, according “Prince Asbo”, a poster on reggae re-issue label Blood and Fire’s message board, “a One-Rhythm career is unique and marks a developmental leap in the history of Jamaican music.”

Some critics have questioned whether a DJ can sustain an entire career comprised of a lone backing track. However, an anonymous Friday Night BBC Radio 1 Dancehall Reggae presenter has suggested that there are “only about four rhythms currently being used in the whole of ragga anyway, and no one has noticed.”

Editor’s Note: Top drawer Greensleeves compilation from roots reggae’s golden age courtesy producer Glen Brown. I am on the look out for sister collections of singers (Boat To Progress! – The Original Pantomine Vocal Collection 1970-74) and dubs (Check the Winner – The Original Pantomine Instrumental Collection 1970 -74).

80s Albums

The Wonder Stuff – The Eight Legged Groove Machine (GONLP1) (1988)

SAM_0047LOCAL DRUMMER FORCES PARTY HOST TO PLAY CRAP DEMO           Attendees At OSU Campus Get-Together Humour Mediocre Percussionist, Offer Vague Critiques

(Columbus, Ohio) — Guests of Stephen Mears’ 26th Birthday party on 245 Chittenden Avenue were obliged to listen to Columbus band Jareez Kidz’ demonstration CD by the group’s drummer, Peter “Dragon” Tashoni, last night.

“This first one’s about race relations,” announced Tashoni to the assembled crowd prior to cueing up “Brothers Under the Skin”, a patronizing and listless funk workout that began the three track demo.

“Oo, listen to this bit,” Tashoni ordered as several attendees edged away. “This [breakdown] is so wicked.”

Many reported that Tashoni then played “air drums” along with his recorded performance of the band’s cover of The Wonder Stuff’s “Red Berry Joy Town”.

Clifford Snoats, the handsome and well-regarded local music critic, was not at the party but received the Jareez Kidz demo two weeks ago. He gave the disc a cursory listen and dismissed it as “typical bland, uptight college student funk”, pouring particular scorn on the drummer who he said “sounds like he’s playing with frickin’ knitting needles”.

“Put it this way,” Snoats added, “If this is funk, James Brown must be having epileptic fits in his grave.

Those who offered comment to Tashoni at the party said that the middling jam band’s CD was “uh, pretty cool” and “sound[ed] professional”. The only criticism came from Lane Avenue Camera Corner employee Eric Carter who, adopting recording studio lingua, ventured that “the vocals sound a bit buried in the mix”.

Tashoni later told reporters that, “Eric obviously doesn’t know what the fuck he’s talking about.”

“Pete was, like, begging to play his shit-ass demo all night,” reported a disgruntled Mears. “Thank fuck it was only three songs or everyone would’ve left.”

“It totally killed the buzz,” agreed housemate and party co-host Oscar Rentz. “Fortunately, Steve quickly put on one of the party playlists we’d created back on, which got things pretty much back on track before we started hemorrhaging too many guests.”

Tashoni plans to make a copy of the disc, which was recorded at Gravity’s Angel Studios last June, for his uncle Tony, who used to play in a band once.

Editor’s Note: Not my usual style, the Wonder Stuff début offers a tough, funny take on snotty 60s Psychedelic Garage Rock, and north England folk-pop in the manner of Shack, the La’s, et al. This mint copy was bought for me a couple weeks ago a local boot fair by a client who already owns four (!) copies and cites it as his favourite record. In’t that nice?

Incidentally, does anyone else think that Hazel Pitt’s sleeve design strongly presages Intro Design’s work of the following decade? 

Albums New Age

Express Rising (ER-3014) (2013)

Meets Knowledgeable Fan In Convenience Store Parking Lot Who Confirms This

(Chicago, Illinois) — Dante Carfagna, aka Express Rising, today expressed bewilderment when he learned of a man who did not just purchase Express Rising music, but actually listened to it.

“You’re only supposed to say you listen to it,” Carfagna told reporters after the incident. “[Express Rising music] is really meant more as a sort of, I suppose, ‘pretension barometer’.”

Carfagna was made aware of the phenomenon when a male in his mid-30s calling himself “a fan” approached the Windy City eccentric outside a 7-11 in Chicago’s Dog Patch neighbourhood. “He was asking some very detailed questions about the creation of the beat for a song buried somewhere deep in the last third of the first record [Express Rising’s long-out-of-print 2003 Memphix Records debut].” Carfagna recalled. “Well, obviously, I don’t know, so I pawned him off with some bullshit about speeding up a Salsoul Orchestra sample so fast that all that was left was a pulse beat.”

“Anyway,” Carfagna continued, the pitch of his voice now rising, “My point is that he could have only asked that question if he’d listened to most of the album. I’m simply flabbergasted that someone, anyone, has the willpower to sit through [my music].”

“What’s more, this man leads me to believe there may be others who do the same thing!”

The DJ, who has just released a likewise eponymous follow-up Lp through the Numero Group, began to shake his slowly from side to side. “Well, at least we can be sure they don’t enjoy the experience,” he said at last, by way of rationalization.

Other music you may be surprised to learn that some people actually listen to includes Public Image Ltd., Aphex Twin, The Fall, dubstep, Van der Graf Generator, reggae and opera.SAM_0052

Editor’s Note: All kidding aside, this is a lovely record of outsider, lo-fi foktronica that shares more in common with John Fahey and Numero’s Guitar Soli comp than Entroducing.SAM_0053

Albums Soul

Eddie Kendricks – Boogie Down! (STML 11266) (1974)

EddieKendricks’ People…Hold On (1972) is a masterpiece. Boogie Down!, released just two years later and produced by the same team, isn’t quite in that league, but still maintains high adult standards. The difference has everything to do with timing. People‘s “Girl You Need a Change of Mind” sounded like proto-disco with enough sixeventies grit and social consciousness to counterbalance the genre’s twin bug bears, over-slickness and dancehall frivolity. While not entirely succumbing to these, Boogie Down! simply lacks the absolutely killer tunes and surprising arrangements of that remarkable previous Lp. The hit title track is a case in point: Stretched out over seven minutes, “Boogie Down” neither builds to sustained fever pitch or shuddering climax…it just kind of keeps going and peters out. Nonetheless, the ex-Tempts’ falsetto remains a compelling instrument throughout. I’ll take it for <£1.

Best dated mid-70s lyric: “Let my love flood your Watergate”.

80s Albums

Ellen Foley – Spirit of St. Louis (EPC 84809) (1981)

SAM_0033CLASH’S JONES PRODUCES NEW FOLEY LP ‘FOR A COUPLE OF BLOW JOBS’                                                                 Throws In A Few Songs For Reacharound

(London, England) – The liner notes for Ellen Foley’s new album, Spirit of St. Louis, tell an interesting story: “Produced by my boyfriend for a couple of blow jobs”.

The unusual production deal was hashed out over drinks at the Roxy nightclub in London’s Covent Garden, during which time the ex-Meat Loaf singer bemoaned the lack of a sympathetic producer. “‘I’d do it for a couple of BJs’,” the Broadway singer/actress reports Mick Jones as saying. “Well straightaway, I’m like, ‘When can I suck you off?'” The couple agreed that the Roxy men’s room was as good a place as any and commenced fellatio in short order.

It was during this first round of head giving that the Clash guitarist proposed to sweeten the deal, offering to “throw in a few songs for a reacharound”. It was no sooner said then done. The final dick smoke occurred later that night in Jones’ Manhattan hotel room.

Jones pronounced himself satisfied with the deal, though Foley giggled to friends, “the joke’s on Mick, really, I would’ve given him head for free.”

Though uncommon, this isn’t the first time sexual favours have been used as payment or part-payment for album production. According to Beatles manager Brian Epstein, he allowed George Martin and three other Abbey Road engineers to masturbate on him as compensation when recording for Please Please Me over-ran. The account, originally published in Epstein’s autobiography, A Cellarful of Noise, is disputed by both Martin and EMI studio logs which show that Epstein actually gave up royalty points in exchange for the bukkake session.

Editor’s Note: It’s a connoisseur’s choice, but, when asked, I always cite Sandinista! as my favourite Clash album. Yes, I know London Calling, or even the US edition of the debut, are probably the better records and yet there’s something wonderful about Sandinista!‘s waywardness that sets it apart; something that says “we’re going for it here and we’re doing whatever comes into our minds”. Liberating stuff. Lately, however, I’ve begun to feel that the US 10″ of Black Market Clash might just edge the treble Lp for the top spot. It’s got the same raggediness and diversity of sound while achieving the concision of the earlier records.


Anyhoo, I’ve seen Ellen Foley’s Spirit of St. Louis referred to as “sides seven and eight” of Sandinista! and finally got the chance last week of putting this notion to the test. Certainly it was produced by Mick Jones (aka “my boyfriend” – it actually says that on the sleeve – see the second picture – ugh!) around the same time as the Clash’s fourth long player, at the same studio with the same engineer, using the same musicians and it features several songs written by Strummer/Jones.

Fussy and commercial with nods to Foley’s kooky ‘all-round entertainer’ past, Spirit couldn’t be more different from Sandinista!; perhaps only in the sense that the Clash seemed to attempt anything and everything that took their fancy does the record make any sense on that continuum.



David Bowie – The Next Day

Penits 1Penits 2I’ve only listened to The Next Day once–sounds like a good David Bowie record.

UPDATE: The first Lp sounds like a good David Bowie record; loud drums predominate on sides 3 and 4 making it sound less like a good David Bowie record.

Jazz Uncategorized

Hear me talkin’ to ya – Nat Shapiro and Nat Hentoff (Penguin 1837) (1962)

Hear MeAs I reclined, I felt myself get high: A gradual relaxation, a sinking almost, transpired and I was gently sucked in to the armchair, lopsidedly smiling. John Coltrane, surely the most heaven-sent of all musicians, syncopated a Mixolydian short story about his Phrygian wife. St. Ethelburga’s bells chimed the midnight hour on the offbeats. So funky.

I must capture this moment.

Albums Gospel Soul

Sam Cooke – The Man And His Music (PL 87127[2]) (1986)


Like his contemporary Ray Charles, Sam Cooke found a way to infuse his music with a gospel tinge that translated into popular acclaim. The difference is that Charles kept the gritty, raucous feel of a Sunday meetin’, at least on his Atlantic sides, while Cooke seemed bent on making records designed to appeal to a cross-section of the country. To my taste, despite the grace (perfection, even) of the man’s voice and phrasing, Cooke’s early pop novelties are too smooth, too ingratiating to work as anything more than pleasant Capital Gold fodder.

SAM_0041The music released with the Soul Stirrers during the first half of the 1950s (as evidenced by the Peace In the Valley CD I bought with Mrs. Asbo last week) prior to the headlong dive into commercial waters was already fully mature, has dated less and resonates far more deeply. And yet, so too do his final performances (on the fourth side of best of Lp pictured which I purchased the weekend before), especially the glorious “A Change Is Gonna Come”. It’s as if his innovations were a few years too early; so, again for me, the music that most resembles classic 60s soul is the most satisfying. It sounds he was just hitting another artistic peak when he was killed.