Thursday, August 27, 2009

temporary downtime

No post this weekend. Your humble blogger is moving residences and access to the Internets will be an iffy proposition for the time being. We are sorting out options and I hope to resume posting within a week or so.

In the meantime why not browse the blog's archives, discover some unheard music (to you), and feel free to use this post as a suggestion box for future topics!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

postpunk on the prairie: Rapeman

In 1987, Steve Albini had had enough.

Big Black had outlived its purpose - singer/guitarist Albini, guitarist Santiago Durango, bassist David Riley and drummer Roland all believed that they'd taken the Big Black concept as far as it could go within its constraints. And besides, Sant was entering law school that fall, so it was a convenient time to call it a day after a farewell tour and the obligatory final LP.

Then Albini got bored. Restless. Itchy to play out again - there was yet music to be played. And no band to do so!

Conveniently enough, Austin, Texas postpunk legends (in their own time) Scratch Acid had just broken up and had a phenomenal rhythm section just waiting to be taken. Rey Washam (drums) and David Wm. Sims (bass) hightailed it up to Chicago and joined Albini for his new project.

Calling themselves Rapeman after a very graphic Japanese serial comic (a name guaranteed to gain the hearts and minds of Albini's heretofore-underground female fan base), the trio gigged around Chicago and the American Midwest, played Europe, and recorded a few songs.

Then, they broke up. For the usual reasons, according to Albini - someone just didn't get along with someone else, the usual bullshit.

Certainly it didn't help matters that the name was keeping them off the radio (not that they were looking for that angle, mind you) and causing them endless frustration in touring Europe. So they too just called it a day - but in this case, listening to the music in retrospect you get the feeling that they were just getting started, that they'd just skimmed the surface of the power, the noise, the energy the trio was certainly capable of making. The sentence that was just beginning to write itself starting with the word "Rapeman" just didn't seem to have a period at the end of it.

Of course this wasn't the end for any of the members - Albini went on to sustain a prolific engineering career recording a gajillion (roughly) records for bands across the musical spectrum, and also performs indie-riffic music to this day with his latest project Shellac (with Todd Trainer and Bob Weston). David Wm. Sims rejoined Scratch Acid alum David Yow in the Jesus Lizard, and Rey Washam flitted about the underground scene with stints in Ministry, the Didjits, Tad, and quite a few other lesser-known acts.

Rapeman (Rx for short) did not leave much of a recorded legacy in its wake. With just two 7" singles, a 4-track EP and one full-length LP marking their existence, it's difficult to ascertain where they would have headed had the band continued. That being said, Rx finds Albini in true song-writing mode for the first time (as one wag put it, he actually learned to write songs!) and their recorded work showpieces the classic Albini guitar shards moreso than Big Black ever did.

The first Rapeman release was the 4-track EP Budd. "Budd" the song is about the sad sorrowful ending of one R. Budd Dwyer - just search the internets for the story. "Budd" and two other tracks were recorded live at Chicago's Exit on Bastille Day, 1988, while the last track "Dutch Courage" was "recorded dead at CRC, Chicago, Juneteenth, 1988".

Next came the "Hated Chinee" / "Marmoset" 7", a taster for the upcoming LP.

And then we have the LP Two Nuns and a Pack Mule, perhaps the best all-around album an Albini band has ever recorded. "Produced" by Fluss - Albini's cat, a clear indication of Albini's thoughts on what a producer should do, these ten bile and pile-driven tracks are about as good a showcase of the Albini songwriting style as you'll find. Abrasive, funny, sharp and cutting, these tracks address topics such as future Shellac drummer Todd Trainer's monobrow (err, the track "Monobrow") and a pair of female panties given to Albini, on Big Black's final tour, by Sonic Youth's Kim Gordon (the track "Kim Gordon's Panties").

Lastly, in 1989 the band released one final effort as part of the Sub Pop Singles Club monthly series of limited 7" releases. The instrumental tracks "Inki's Butt Crack" and "Song Number One" are as good as anything on the album or EP and could be an indication of where Rx would have gone had they continued.

I'm including all the above bar the "Hated Chinee" 7" (since I don't have it, and AFAIK the tracks are identical to the album versions) in one file linked below.

Here goes - enjoy!

Up Beat: The Mostly Complete Discography 1988-1989

(1988 Touch and Go Records T&GLP#34)

01 Budd
02 Superpussy
03 Log Bass
04 Dutch Courage


(1988 Touch and Go Records T&GLP#36)

01 Steak And Black Onions
02 Monobrow
03 Up Beat
04 Coition Ignition Mission
05 Kim Gordon's Panties
06 Hated Chinee
07 Radar Love Lizard
08 Marmoset
09 Just Got Paid
10 Trouser Minnow

Rx's descriptions for each track:
1. We don't hate vegetarians, we just think they're funny
2. Singular eyebrow as a fashion statement / Drunkasexual
3. Puny but angry
4. Professed goal of space program: conception and birth in space
5. Blatant Coachmen ripoff
6. Lotten flucking ruck
7. Golden earring tribute / reptile tendencies
8. Lincoln Park Zoo Nocturnal Mammal Building / failed hummer
9. Bonus Edgar Blossom muchas gracias
10. Men suck

(1989 Sub Pop Singles Club SP40, limited edition 1500 black vinyl, 1000 clear vinyl)

01 Inki's Butt Crack
02 Song Number One

"Inki's Butt Crack" is credited on the label to (Spencer, Moore, Mascis) - as in Jon Spencer, Thurston Moore, and J Mascis - but this is a joke. The song is a variation on Mendelssohn's "Hebrides Overture (Fingal's Cave)".

edit: Removed link.

Friday, August 14, 2009

friday fizz: The Charlatans (UK) 89-91 rarities

Twenty years ago this year a small Northwich, UK band plied a 3-song demo tape in hopes of gathering a following in the UK North West. Riding the coattails of the big Manchester triumvirate Stone Roses / Happy Mondays / Inspiral Carpets, this band really sounded like none (well, perhaps the Roses a bit) and endeavored to separate itself from the pack.

Twenty years on and this band - despite hardship, ugliness and sad stories that would break up most other bands - carries on.

The Charlatans (UK), of course, is this band.

Well before the success, well before winning the Madchester Survivor game (hehe), they had some wilderness years and in fact looked set to not last much beyond the first quarter of the 1990's.

Starting in 1989 with a three-song demo, the band ended up doing a couple John Peel sessions (March 1990 and January 1991) and ultimately saw its guitarist leave due to - in essence - realizing he had pretty much exhausted his limited skill set.

I'm at this time leaving the albums and singles out of the discussion. Instead I'm using this spot to pass on some really unheralded rarities, performances, and classic tracks that haven't much been seen or discussed.

First off we have the aformentioned 3-song demo featuring (rather) polished takes on "Indian Rope", "You Can Talk To Me" and "White Shirt". "White Shirt" is the surprise here in that it's much more jaunty, bouncy than the take they'd do on the debut LP Some Friendly - and in fact I like this version much better.

Then we get the first Peel session, recorded in March 1990 and featuring the first of the "lost" Charlatans tracks, "Always In Mind", among three others.

Then, they returned to Peely's show with a session recorded in January 1991 featuring the next "lost" track "Between 10th And 11th" - a track as good as any released from this period - along with two others.

And finally we have an embryonic take on "(No One) Not Even The Rain" recorded for Mark Goodier in October 1991.

I used the best sources I could locate to make this post. I do apologize in advance for the relative lo-fi of "Then" / "Can't Even Be Bothered" / "Opportunity Three" as I do not have *any* other sources of these besides lo-fi transfers and/or original 128kbps MP3. I cleaned them up the best I could but I have to use this opportunity to ask my readers - do they have *any* of this material lossless and/or high quality?

Regardless.... it's all good.

THE CHARLATANS / Rarities 1989-1991
a Power of Independent Trucking special

01 Indian Rope
02 You Can Talk To Me
03 White Shirt
-- Demo cassette, 1989

04 Always In Mind
05 You Can Talk To Me
06 Polar Bear
07 Then
-- John Peel session 20 March 1990

08 Between 10th and 11th
09 Can't Even Be Bothered
10 Opportunity Three
-- John Peel session 22 January 1991

11 (No One) Not Even The Rain
-- Mark Goodier session 5 October 1991

- - - -


1-3 / 192kpbs MP3's I found on some blog, remastered by your humble blogger

4, 6, 8, 11 / officially-released "Forever" 2xCD compilation

5 / B-side on "Indian Rope" CD single

7 / VBR MP3 found on the intarwebs, cleaned up by your humble blogger

9, 10 / 128kbps MP3's found on the intarwebs, cleaned up by your humble blogger

The note that came with the 89 Demo tracks imply these exist as lossless SHN files somewhere in the world - help me locate them!

Also... what else was broadcast on that Goodier session? That's an interesting one to track down because the date implies it was just around the time the "Me. In Time" single was released - guitarist Mark Collins' first record with the band.

Are their any other radio sessions pre-1992?

- - - -

Part I / Part II (split RAR files, as usual, have to grab both!)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

midweek musings: Dinosaur Jr's Farm LP

Just a quick blurt to note that the new Dinosaur Jr effort Farm is the best new material I've heard from any band in the past 5 years. Easily. Heir to the Neil Young/Crazy Horse throne? Yep.

Just goes to prove that the magical combo of J Mascis / Lou Barlow / Murph can't be beat. 2007's comeback LP Beyond clearly was no one-off magical smoke-in-the-bottle effort.

No links to the record this time. You all must buy this immediately, to get Dino Jr the market recognition they so sorely deserve. Farm even tops most of their classic 80s output, believe it or not.

Now back to our regularly-scheduled programming, scheduled for this coming weekend....

Friday, August 7, 2009

friday fizz: Stone Roses Elephant Stone findings!

Where I work, there is a tradition where on Fridays, management rolls around pallet loads of soda for us peons to enjoy, for free. Believe me, if you knew where I worked, and the attitude about any employee getting ANYTHING from there besides a paycheck, benefits and stress, you'd understand this is a big thing. Anyway, this tradition is called Friday Fizz.

Today we have our own Friday Fizz here on the PoIT.

Your humble blogger made several discoveries today, having taken the day off work for various sundry reasons.

First: I have discovered what I believe to be the original, pre-John Leckie, mix of the Stone Roses "Elephant Stone", as mixed by Peter Hook (New Order/Joy Division bassist, and producer for the "Elephant Stone" sessions) before John Leckie came on board and remixed it for the Roses' debut release on Silvertone.

And anybody who has an original Elephant Stone 12" or CD single already has this ;)

How? That's for you to discover ;)

It's funny - this has been under the fans' noses for 21 years now and I've NEVER known anybody to mention, discuss or even think about it. But I do like this mix - it's far less busy than Leckie's mix, it's more organic-sounding, and I'm just pleased as punch I'm able to bring this out.

Second: Well, I had some other stuff to post here about the "Elephant Stone" CD single, but in the end it's just a bunch of technical bullshit that 99% of my readers won't understand. But if you've ever listened to a rip of your original Silvertone ORE CD 1 on your iPod or computer, and you wonder why it sounds so horribly shrill, rest assured it's not your box but it's Silvertone's horrible mastering of the 7" and 12" mixes (the other B-sides are not affected, oddly enough!).

So... I present:

"Elephant Stone" mixes

-- a Power of Independent Trucking exclusive!

01 Elephant Stone (John Leckie 12" mix, fixed and remastered by The PoIT)
02 Elephant Stone (John Leckie 7" mix, fixed and remastered by The PoIT)
03 Elephant Stone (Peter Hook original mix)

Grab it here, lossless FLAC for everyone's pleasure.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

New Order: Part 2 of a series, 1985-1989

Last week we gave ourselves a good hit of early New Order, finding the band transitioning from the shadows of Joy Division to electro-indie- rock trendsetters.

This week, Part II of the PoIT's New Order MegaSubstance MegaSpectacular, we become megastars.

Bernard Sumner realized he didn't have to be so dramatic and Peter Hook started getting even more creative and melodic on bass. Steve Morris became the human drum machine and Gillian Gilbert brought even more electro flourishes to the mix.

They also didn't forget their roots as a guitar band.

We start the proceedings with a song that probably should have gone in last week's batch (a stunning "Skullcrusher" live from Barcelona, Spain in July 1984) but for two reasons it's here in this batch: 1) I forgot to put it in last week, and 2) the song did end up seeing release as an instrumental track in 1987.

Many of the following have either never been released officially on CD or have found themselves bastardized in order to fit on existing compilations (hello "The Perfect Kiss" and shouts to "Shellshock"). Other tracks ("Let's Go") have NEVER been heard in this form except on bootleg, and yet others ("The Happy One") exist in snippet-form only.

So onward we proceed from 1985 through 1989, the last year New Order could safely call themselves a true indie band.

NEW ORDER "I'm not grown up and I'm not a boy..." 1985-1989, anthologized

01 Skullcrusher (with lyrics, 7 Jul 1984 Studio 54, Barcelona, Spain)
02 Let's Go (unreleased original 1985 vocal)
03 The Perfect Kiss (12 inch complete version)
04 Love Vigilantes
05 This Time Of Night
06 Sunrise
07 Elegia
08 Sooner Than You Think
09 Shellshock (12 inch complete version)
10 Weirdo
11 As It Is When It Was
12 Broken Promise
13 Way Of Life
14 Bizarre Love Triangle
15 All Day Long
16 Every Little Counts
17 True Faith (The Morning Sun extended remix)
18 1963
19 Paradise (remix) ***** see below!
19 Temptation '87
20 Salvation Theme
21 Touched By The Hand Of God (early version)
22 Sputnik
23 Don't Do It
24 Fine Time
25 All The Way
26 Love Less
27 Guilty Partner
28 Run
29 Vanishing Point
30 Dream Attack
31 Round & Round (7 inch mix)
32 Run² (unreleased instrumental mix)
33 MTO
34 MTO minus mix
35 The Happy One (full version re-assembly)

Four RAR files this time, as usual, you must download each one!

Part I / Part II / Part III / Part IV

***** I forgot to include 19 Paradise (remix) in the fileset so please grab it here. It should still sort correctly but yes, there will be two Track 19's. I think everyone will be OK with this ;)

(note - if having trouble extracting "Temptation '87", download that track only here .... and if you're having problems with "Guilty Partner" that can be downloaded here.)