Reviews

Ray Farrell

Problemist 9 Times Sanity LP

PROBLEMIST are a San Francisco group that quietly makes tapes and communicates with experimental bands around the world. Organized religion is the target here, not only as a big business, but also on its subtle effect on people’s fears and behaviors. But this isn’t a noise band; it’s a mixture of electronic and rock that is aggressive, eerie, and not too arty.

Boyd Rice / Frank Tovey Easy Listening for the Hard of Hearing LP

Boyd Rice is NON and Frank Tovey is the main FAD GADGET. This is a stripped-down noise record that plays with rhythms and repetition created by mainly non-musical objects. A party record.

Psychic TV N.Y. Scum LP

There are three off-shoots of THROBBING GRISTLE. As this is Genesis P. Orridge’s group, it will also be the most dangerous. Their experiments in video and live performance may tell more about them than their records can. Anybody (Genesis) who sticks needles through his penis deserves needles through his penis.

Naked Prey Naked Prey 12″

Remember hard rock? This Arizona band sounds like they’ve been isolated for ten years, but they’re really good—like ALICE COOPER but more on the “lonesome” side. It’s slightly metallish without the power for power’s sake.

Hunting Lodge Nomad Souls LP

HUNTING LODGE are much more rhythmic and less cluttered here than in some past releases. This is closer to CABARET VOLTAIRE but less obtrusive—and no electronic clichés.

Arto Lindsay / Ambitious Lovers Envy LP

Arto is a veteran of more experimental/no wave jazz groups (DNA, LOUNGE LIZARDS, etc.) and he’s been heading toward jazz lately. This record’s kind of slick and subdued, but he’s one of the few improv dudes who can make you laugh. Some Latin stuff, sardonic dance music, and some of what he’s known for—but you can’t hear his guitar. Cool lyrics and vocals.

The Homosexuals The Homosexuals Records LP

This is a posthumous release of demos this band recorded on cassette, so the sound quality is raw—but that doesn’t bother you. Their music is fast pop similar to the SWELL MAPS and early XTC. You can probably find some of their old singles used.

The Fall The Wonderful and Frightening World of the Fall LP

There’s three new records by these guys, and it’s all like this LP. They’re faster and funnier than ever. Mark Smith maintains his tradition of never really “singing” the songs. They confidently thwart trends. They laugh while their peers join mindless tribes or dress up like gauchos just to get on MTV. All three records are available on one cassette.

Slovenly Even So 12″

It’s unfair to compare a very original band to another just to help explain their sound. But I will. A little like the MINUTEMEN, but fuller and less manic; a little like the FALL, too. The lyrics are offbeat and are used more for sound/mood than message. Most of them used to be a band called TOXIC SHOCK.

17 Pygmies Jedda by the Sea LP

Some people and songs from SAVAGE REPUBLIC here, but in a different direction. 17 PYGMIES are quieter (even mystical) on this musical trip to Israel. Like SAVAGE REPUBLIC, a knowledge and love of ethnic music from all over the world comes through. At times, they sound like a Herzog soundtrack. I guess if you like BAUHAUS and their ilk you may like this, but there’s no inherent doom and gloom here.

Half Japanese Our Solar System LP / Sing No Evil LP

1/2 JAPANESE have been around since the mid-’70s and they still sound like a garage band. They’ve created a romantic jungle planet. Our Solar System is raw and crazy, and makes you sing along, while Sing No Evil is slicker and R’n’B-ish; it’s their Exile on Main Street. There’s also a new JAD FAIR solo record with the VELVET UNDERGROUND’s Mo Tucker on drums available by mail. If you’re in the mood for a V.U. record and want some fun, play these.

Dumptruck D is for Dumptruck LP

Don’t be fooled by their title—they’re pretty cool. They remind me of early TELEVISION and DB’S pop, but without any love songs. I can’t call it neo-psych because it’s not ’60s-ish and they don’t rewrite Sam Shepard plays for songs. It’s real good.

Christmas Ballad of the Invisible Girl / Wilhelm Reich 7″

CHRISTMAS area fun thrash-pop trio who love their rock ’n’ roll. Hardcore no, but thrash, yes. (Is there a difference yet, Tim?) “Ballad” has a wild country kick to it, and “Wilhelm” sounds a bit like MISSION OF BURMA. But believe me, folks, I’ve seen ’em and this disc is just the top of the iceberg. Hot damn iceberg!

Children’s Crusade Children’s Crusade cassette

This Ohio band is two guys—one sings, the other plays all the instruments. Hints of CHROME, but it’s more like the SOFT BOYS or early PINK FLOYD. Psychedelic.

The Three O’Clock Sixteen Tambourines LP

A classic case of a band softening up with age. It’s too bad, ’cause it’s not like they can’t pull out the stops if they want (as in “Jet Fighter”). This isn’t psychedelic music, but that prettier ’60s paisley pop that degenerated into the “Up with People” movement. I’m certain that they won’t get that lame, but if they think their SALVATION ARMY period was kid stuff, then modern corporate rock has a new group to chew up and spit out.

The Dream Syndicate Tell Me When It’s Over 12″

This UK-only release offers the title cut (taken from their LP) and three live tracks. I’ve heard them play a lot wilder than this. “Tell Me When It’s Over” presents the band in one of their earliest and probably tamest performances, as if they’re afraid they won’t hear each other if they turn up the volume. So you gotta play this loud enough to make any sense of it. Here, they kiss their garage band days goodbye, and the comparison to the VELVET UNDERGROUND holds less water. Great liner notes, though.

V/A Blood on the Cats LP

The first “psychobilly” compilation mainly features British “blood” bands. Side one is weird gothic post-punkabilly—the songs are miniature trash psychodramas that don’t really rock, ALIEN SEX FIEND track excepted. Side two has SCREAMIN’ LORD SUTCH, who sounds a lot like a local TV host for Chiller Theater; the STINGRAYS, OUTCASTS, and RICOCHETS, who rock out in a real punkabilly style; and the PANTHER BURNS, who thrash out an alternative version of “Red Headed Woman” recorded at a Memphis high school radio station with an orgone accumulator replacing the bass. SHOCKABILLY’s very best song (“City of Corruption”) closes the album.

Alien Sex Fiend Lips Can’t Go 12″

ALIEN SEX FIEND would like to lead all those innocent young STRAY CATS fans into the bottomless pit of crazed rock ’n’ roll fire. The only trouble is that they’ve just taken a crash course in rock ’n’ roll trash where sex, cars, booze, and music all get confused and the metaphors get real slippery. There’s a lot of Iggy’s sexual and comical influence, as well as a weird disco accujackabilly track that gives the finger to the rock ’n’ roll purist. But I’ve gotta feel that rock ’n’ roll in my face, nice and cold. Try again, boys.

The Cramps Smell of Female 12″

This is a live recording of new songs and a few covers. The CRAMPS understand real rock ’n’ roll so well that they write songs that can easily be mistaken for ’60s classics. OK, so the production lacks the usual CRAMPS punch. So what? It sounds great on my lousy stereo. You hopin’ that Jack Douglas will produce ’em? What makes this different from other CRAMPS records is that here you can follow and comprehend Lux Interior’s comic book scenarios with ease. The kind of rebellion the CRAMPS inspire is wanting to be a kid as long as you live. That’s cool.

Alex Chilton Live in London LP

This was recorded in 1980 with the SOFT BOYS as a back-up band. He covers old ghosts like “The Letter” and “September Gurls,” as well as R&B and rockabilly. Better sounding than most of his latest work. Chilton is the only guy that could musically give FLIPPER a run for the, uh… money. A current pick hit.

The Cramps Transylvanian Tapes LP & Tales from the Crypt LP

These are two separate “disques especiale,” as they say in the biz. They’re made up of demos from the real early days, as well as comical Chris Spedding sessions and the wild Chilton tapes. There’s live versions of the obscurities and B-sides of singles. This should satisfy you while Lux stays nailed to the parlor TV.

Pop-O-Pies The White EP 12″

Perfect! Captured on record before they become a “good New Wave” band. Anybody that’s from New Jersey, has worked in a bakery, thinks California is funny, and will play one chord for an entire song is OK with me.

Tav Falco’s Panther Burns Blow Your Top 12″

Not as hot as before. In fact, this is contentabilly, or even “whichwayyougoinbilly.” Still, the PANTHER BURNS have that certain—dim the lights—”mysterious” edge. “Panther Man” makes the STRAY CATS sound like a showbiz snowjob. Keep cool, fans, ‘cause ol’ Gustav is already lookin’ for a hotter band.

Rank and File Sundown LP

The Kinman brothers could pull any sound off. The WHO, the VELVET UNDERGROUND, any real rock ’n’ roll. I’m biased. If I didn’t think the DILS were better, I’d really like this record. But there was something about the way the DILS could play “Mr. Big” right before the EVERLY BROTHERS’ “Cathy’s Clown” and be more energetic and original than RANK AND FILE will probably ever be. But Chip and Tony are different now. They’re friendly! Shit, they’re almost as warm as Springsteen.

Shockabilly The Dawn of Shockabilly 12″

Also known as EUGENE CHADBOURNE’S CHADBOURNES, SHOCKABILLY cover ’50s and ’60s hits. It’s like when you sit in the bathtub and sing “96 Tears” by recall… you sing the organ intro, what you remember of the lyrics, and your own transcendental version of a guitar solo. You follow that with a quick trip through the funhouse and outcomes “shockabilly.” Same ballpark as PANTHER BURNS, but outfield.

Mission of Burma Vs. LP

Boston really loves its rock ’n’ roll. MISSION OF BURMA aren’t hardcore or the typical Boston bar band. This first album is faster and louder than their other stuff, at least most of the time. The almost accidental meshing of the guitars is better than ever.

Meat Puppets Meat Puppets LP

The MEAT PUPPETS have nothing to do with punk or psychedelia. This is thrash in a wind tunnel. It’s so frenzied, it moves as fast as the human brain. Your opinion is genetic. It depends on what you ate. Or what your mother ate.

V/A Cleveland Confidential LP

Cleveland is a city of neuroses, both real and imagined. This record proves that the city still has the best psych-garage bands. An old PAGANS track is featured, as well as great stuff by the WOMANHATERS, OFFBEATS, MENTHOL WARS, and more. Even the “artband” track is gonzo.

Thee Milkshakes Please Don’t Tell My Baby / It’s You 7″

This British band does it up like PRETTY THINGS/KINKS circa ’65 with a punk tinge you can feel. Nice sound too, crude like live. Betcha the BEATLES sounded this wild before they started making records. This outshakes most “mod” bands.

39 Clocks Subnarcotic LP

This is the second album from this German group. It’s like meeting the VELVET UNDERGROUND and SUICIDE in a rainstorm. It isn’t gloomy either, it’s a lot of fun. They don’t get too wild but the rhythm is rigid. They even do “Louie Louie” without making it sound old.