Monday, December 21, 2009

YURT - EGE ARTEMIS YURTUM ( 2009 ) - full album download

Legions of Yurt, sonic guerillas, cerebral oscillators and other assorted hellspawn - On this, the occasion of Grianstad an Gheimhridh 2009 ( Winter Solstice ), The sonic elders of YURT are pleased to announce EGE ARTEMIS YURTUM, a celebration of voluminous soundwaves for your pleasure.

Tracklist -
1. Flight of the Intergalactic Mallard
2. Run the Gauntlet
3. Bushmeat
4. Mog's Brain Tumor Diagnosis
5. The Fear of all Sums
-Running time aprox. 52 minutes

This is available to download for free at one of the link options at All MP3 files contain full artwork and lyrics. You are permitted to redistribute at will, however, if posting on a blog or similar, please let us know and more importantly, link directly to the source rather than re-upping files elsewhere so that we can can monitor the volume of traffic. Your comments and feedback are very welcome. The sonic elders of YURT have spoken.

Monday, December 7, 2009


VOIVOD - INFINI ( Relapse )
The last collection of the now deceased Dennis Piggy D'Amour's amazing guitar riffs are here and Voivod had a major obligation to pull out a stormer of a record, which they more than succeeded in doing. This shines brighter than it's worthy predecessor KATORZ and seals what may very well be the last new Voivod record the world will see. A sad day for loud guitar music indeed. Fate has dealt a cruel hand to the band that gave the world DIMENSION HATROSS, but the good news is that they're back touring to spread their enigmatic and twisted tones!!!

JOHN FOXX - MY LOST CITY ( Metamatic )
Definitely one to file next to Coil's Musick To Play In The Dark series, this is slow burning stuff from a resurgent and very creative Mr Foxx alternating between airy choral passages - IMPERFECT HYMN & BARBICAN BRAKHAGE, and ambient stretches MAGNETIC FIELDS, HIDDEN ASSEMBLY,CITY OF DISAPPEARANCES. Strains of Robin Guthrie or post 80's Vangelis spring to mind and as MY LOST CITY floats by and the cumulative effect is that of someone who spends way the fuck too much time on his own in a basement studio noodling away. Unsurprisingly, Foxx described one of his musical lulls as "living like a ghost in London". That insular tone is apparent in the music although he came across as a decent bloke in the SYNTH BRITANNIA documentary, unlike many of his glory grabbing contemporaries desperate to cling to something. It's all a very long way from his synthlore classic METAMATIC back in 1980 and even further away from his Ultravox associations. GOOD.

Hematophagous habits seem high on PV's priorities. For every great stride forward their ranks swell. I suggest this is because they have become worryingly drawn towards the blood of youth, swooping down from the dusty rafters and splattering product upon us in the manner that a flock of bats might emit a spray fetid warm guano as they approach to sink their fangs into some victim or other. That said, BEWARE OF THE GOD is a concise slab of punk and tracks such as SEX KILLS, I AM THE ONE, FATAL DISTRACTION and NEW DARK AGES are as good as anything the band has penned. Wretch Falafel disemboweled the album in detail upon it's release -

Majestically creepy dark modern classical from Poland. Not quite the satanic howling,  nightmare head spinning and lofty orchestral bashing of the legendary Elend, this is more of a tense and understated gothic soundtrack ( and I mean real gothic - nothing to do with tossers who wear mascara and sulk to get laid!! ). RORATE COELI has a piano signature with more crawling suspense than the Omen soundtrack and enough swooping flocks of crows to leave a right fucking mess on your windscreen. Elsewhere ULTIMATO RATIO REGUM is all huge organ sounds and creepy orchestral dissonance. Why these people aren't as big as their music sounds is baffling!!! Masterful stuff indeed... I want more!!
It's Creative Commons so download it for free here

CHUCK MOSLEY AND VUA ( VANDULS UGENST ALLLIDERACY ) - Will Rap over Hard Rock For Food ( Reversed Image Unlimited )
A VERY welcome return to music for Mr Mosley who's been MIA since his last band CEMENT vapourised some time in the mid 90's. This is, as you'd expect, a hybrid of punk, metal and Mosley's atonal yet dulcet vocals and stands shoulder to shoulder with his greatest work on FAITH NO MORE's wonderful INTRODUCE YOURSELF yonks ago. He can still swing it from big throbbing riffs and tonsil torture to alt. rock stylings as twee as a post Ben Deily Lemonheads and make it work effortlessly. Insipid metallers would often complain that he couldn't sing for shit when indulging in the Patton/Mosley argument thing. The same people would probably consider the noodlings of John Coltrane or Albert Ayler talentless because they broke the precious rules a little.

Sounds like it should be one big unworkable concept or a lame ethno-beat mess, but it's neither. For a man who's made very many questionable records, you can't help but liking Jah Wobble. From his peaks with METAL BOX & RISING ABOVE BEDLAM to the unforgivable piss that was the hopefully deleted and rare PSALMS, it's been a roller coaster of quality. Here Mr Wobble, his wife, Zi Lan Liao on Chinese zither, a host of classical Chinese instrumentation and a few wailing mourning vocalists drift through a feast of Chinese experiments about Dragons and Happy Tibetan Girls and Yellow mountains which avoid all sickening new age trappings. Wobble's throbbing bass maintains a low profile in the mix initially but rises into that trademark Wobble sonic backbone whenever the moment merits it... A killer of an album for headphones, a melting pot of an experiment in respectful hands and a big scary Chinese demon thing on the cover to top it all off.

RAPHAËL BADAWI - Symphonie du Chocapik 2.0
A relatively new discovery, symphonic mayhem, baroque vocals, Manic electronic pulses, classical synth gallivanting across 24 tracks straight out of Poitiers, France. Seemingly structured in 4 distinct blocks, it's hard to keep up with the schizoid frenzy that's supposed to be about something to do with a bong and the wanderings of a girl and her cat. Again, there's a visible synthetic aesthetic here that harks back to the influence of Walter Carlos but there's so much more to it than just that. In stark contrast, some of the other offerings reside firmly in avantegarde noise territory, but it's in the realms of neo-classical insanity that Raphaël Badawi really flexes musical muscle and punches well above his weight!!
It's Creative Commons so download it for free here

SOISONG - xAj3z ( Self released )
If it wasn't enough that Peter "Sleazy" Cristopherson gifted to the world the excellent THRESHOLD HOUSEBOYS CHOIR and is proactive in the glory and general din of the resurrected Throbbing Gristle, He had to outdo himself by collaborating with Ivan Pavlov AKA CoH, creating SOISONG. Not only did this maiden full length and the all too brief masterpiece "qXn94" from last year come in startlingly creative origami packages, but this ( just to be extra awkward ) is an octagonal CD. It makes as much sense as the titles of these records, but where the last one was a pretty dark affair, "xAj3z" is blissfully stuffed with all manner of creation from the vocal stylings of T-HU RI TOH and PAER TAHM ( A little like Walter/Wendy Carlos' vocal trickery on the Clockwork Orange Soundtrack ) to a menagerie of synth tinkling and other genre defying noises that make it difficult to even describe. Sleazy himself reckons it's probably the best music he's ever made...and with stiff competition in his own extensive back catalogue ( including some hundred billion Coil releases) that's something he's probably thought long and hard about!

CLUSTER - Qua ( Nepenthe )
The first new studio material in 14 years from this hugely influential duo, and as you'd expect with an entity of this pedigree, this is quality stuff. Curious sequences chime along, punctuated by all manner of bubbling synth, sneaking melody, background drone and percussive chunk of scrap metal. It defies the temptation to sound like anything from the Cluster of their golden days yet fits perfectly with anything they've done in the past. As music like this exists on it's own it follows that the song titles are complete gibberish - YMSTROB, XANESRA, SO NEY - It all looks like bad scrabble but none of this matters when Roedelius and Moebius are well on form and quite obviously having a blast if they're still being this inspirational at a point where their collective age is 140!!! Touring in 2010 and playing in Dublin in early February.

THROBBING GRISTLE - The Third Mind Movements ( Industrial Records )
Originally an exclusive product to sell at US gigs earlier in the year, this is probably the most cohesive reunion recording, willfully embracing the ambient noise influences of their fruitful separate musical ventures - Threshold Houseboys Choir, Coil, CarterTutti etc. It would be pointless consciously avoiding the utilisation of all this knowledge in TG in favour of leaning towards the post-punk noise pollution that suited them in the 70's. And fortunately the Genesis P-Orridge contribution seems to take second seat in all of this which means that there's no continuation of the ALMOST A KISS abomination that soiled the otherwise wonderful PART 2 - THE ENDLESS KNOT. Being that the PTV3 sound is guitar driven and psychedelic at the moment, it would find an uncomfortable home in THE THIRD MIND MOVEMENTS in any case. Although 10 separate pieces of discord, the whole album locks in as one big piece and is more than worthy of the TG mark of quality!

JELLO BIAFRA AND THE GUANTANAMO SCHOOL OF MEDICINE - The Audacity Of Hype (Alternative Tentacles Records)
A move a lot of people have been hoping for, Jello back fronting a band with that familiar warbly voice box of his, spreading righteous venom and guile. The existence of this has a lot to do with a miniature mid life crisis after seeing Iggy on his 60th birthday and realising he's still got a few years of punking left in him yet. No doubt the realisation that the best way to put paid to parasitic DK alumini was to do a record and make it damn good also factored. THE AUDACITY OF HYPE is a success in that regard. It's brash and noisy and gives out a lot. Jello isn't prone to being stuck for a lyric or idea and so NEW FEUDALISM, ELECTRONIC PLANTATION and THREE STRIKES give you an idea of the range of subject matter. It's as close to what the Dead Kennedy's might now sound like as he's come with his wealth of musical projects over the years ( along with maybe the DOA record ). As one of American punk's worst cases of factual diarrhoea, Jello's well on form!

The wasp in the jam jar returns. Slayer have pretty much investigated all avenues they can within the product description of Slayer so, as with CHRIST ILLUSION, this is the familiar Slayer that we all know and love. No more experiments with over-heavy riffage like the DIABOLUS/GOD HATES US ALL era, or ill-conceived punk cover slop, this is that thin buzzing Slayer that was pretty much perfected in the late 80's - Angry, evil and riddled with very silly Hanneman/King tag team axe shredding. Utterly stubbornly SLAYER, just like it says on the package, It's album 11 and maybe the world doesn't need much more Slayer, but after all these years, on their patch of musical territory they're still untouchable!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Thursday, November 26, 2009


A 5 minute dissection of the monumental workload that is Robert Crumb's BOOK OF GENESIS ILLUSTRATED. Most of the originals are on display in the UCLA Hammer Museum until Feb 7th 2010. It took Crumb 5 years to complete... gives me a headache even thinking about how someone could remain focused throughout the execution of such a task but the results are no less than stunning!!! The entire old testament deserves this treatment... unfortunately Crumb's not the man for the job as it's a lifetime's work and I can only imagine he's lived with holiness and hellfire and brimstone for a little too long at this point!!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Short Mark Pauline / Survival Research Laboratories documentary on VBS.TV

The Survival of Mark Pauline Mark Pauline is the founder of Survival Research Laboratories, a mythical moniker among weird-techies, art-punks and general violence seekers across the globe. Pauline began his work in the 80s in the San Francisco punk and art scene defacing billboards and organizing public pranks. Through the decades, he has become a pioneer in technological and performance arts. His vaguely anthropomorphic creations are some of the most dangerous machines ever made, rivaling the military, but instead of turning their threats on us, the machines blow each other up and let us watch.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


New book from Ian Shipley about his exploits as a gravedigger out now with bozart on cover!!!!
order here...
WRETCH FALAFEL will have a review of this up very soon. Meanwhile, here's the cover art. Click on image to enlarge!

Saturday, October 17, 2009


A horror story for the music enthusiast... Tradition dictates that I begin by laying down hard facts I have absolutely no basis for... You're bound to have at least 5 different favourite bands of all time before the age of 18..... If you're a complete fuckhead with no integrity, you'll probably have more 'cos your crap friends made you like all stuff they unwisely spent their money on... so anyway... there you are, skipping home like a rent boy on Good Friday, with the new album by your very very favouritest band of that week of your life... you run to wherever you have access to musical hardware, whether it be state of the art Technics or orange and black Steepletone... plastic wrapper is ripped from product... play procedure is activated and... excited smile disintegrates through nervous eagerness and nausea until forced smile disappears... out of the speakers melt this unfamiliar spew... Panic!!!!!!... Shit, they've put the wrong record in the sleeve... Check the centre label... no... Ok, maybe some other band was pressed on the vinyl and was labelled as your desired product accidentally, or by some disgruntled youth at the pressing plant who reckons he's hilarious... try and match lyrical content with that which is printed on the sleeve... A feeling of disgorgement overcomes you... Suddenly it all becomes very clear... the band that meant so much to your bad life has finally gone shit... Fanaticism for this band's sense of infection and principle simply vacates your body and drifts out the nearest window... numerous attempts are made to allow that period of time where the record might grow on you... hmmmmm... no, it's still crap... Within minutes, your new record by your very, very favouritest band of that week of your life is laid in it's permanent resting place... on the wrong side of that copy of "Bat out of Hell" you've had since you were eight... It is never brought up by you in conversation and only ever spoken of with abrasive venom... So much for a safe bet. " Well..... ", say the smart arsed, "It's never going to happen to my favourite band 'cos I've got such an awesome taste in music etc etc........." .........WRONG ....... Band gets popular... disposable money means cocaine for brunch... band with solid idea of what compels them suddenly become "Artistes".... extra truck is needed on the road to house ego... songs disappear, only to be replaced by doctored studio jams which take months to record... Line-up fluctuations are a good signal...... as are big ass contracts, albums being released when you know the band's been on the road for the last 11 months, or just the follow up to a damn good record. Whatever the excuse, a bad record from a good band is still a bad record, so let's examine the culprits.  

Prime beef.... step on up BLACK FLAG... many called them the baddest band in the land, but after Dez Cadena finally vacated and left MY WAR as hollow unfinished business, they jammed on the breaks, took a swift left at ass-water junction and down the urinals of hair, metal-envy and road burn. Think about it...SLIP IT IN, IN MY HEAD, LOOSE NUT... what a puddle of fucking donkey skutter... I mean, Come on!! .... This band wrote Nervous Breakdown, The DAMAGED album.... a severe case of crumbling from monuments to mole hills.
The crossover between punk and metal is probably a major stumbling ground for the weaker of the species. Many have successfully milked the best of both genres, but the histories of SUICIDAL TENDENCIES and CELTIC FROST map the ugly side of things. For a bunch of idiot kids who thought they were hispanic homies, ST vomited one of the great glorious rackets of hardcore punk's wonder years. They looked like filthy east LA scum, ruined dozens of white dinner shirts with badly drawn skulls and pathetic grammar, and were apparently fond of skateboarding and posturing. Fair enough... a bit of juvenile negativity was never really a problem, but when the abrasive torrent becomes a vomitorium of whingey self pity, mini-trasher emotive melodies and stupid bandanas, you can't help but wondering how ST slipped by the first Nuremberg wallet chain trials. As for the chocolate munching alpine twits - the European ambassadors of metal operatic pomp doom - CELTIC FROST - Not only did they boast a seminal use of corpse paint and one Thomas Gabriel Warrior, the worlds third ugliest man (after Aristotle Onassis and Andrew Lloyd Webber), but one of the most laughable falls from grace.  

Onwards into the trappings of consciously trying too hard to design a saleable commodity which no one subsequently bought, these HR Giger buddies turned to pink plastic trousers and poodle haircuts. And the reason? ... maybe it was because Poison, Motley Crue, G'N'R and Faster Pussycat were all charting and poor Thomas Fischer wasn't getting any pocket money off the dodgy accountant at NOISE INTERNATIONAL. Whatever sad motive lay behind it, Celtic Frost created a COLD LAKE and sank very deeply into it. No doubt now manning petrol pumps & guitar shops in the alps. Quite often, it'll take a long time off the cocaine to realise just how knee deep in the sludgy rectal drippings you actually are. For a prime example look at BLACK SABBATH. Were the following really necessary or remotely in keeping with the first 4 years of records....  
1. Bill Ward's Underpants on the cover of SABOTAGE  
2. Rock'n'Roll Doctor  
3. Live Evil  
4. Ian Gillan  
6. That "..featuring Tony Iommi " nonsense  
7. Tony Martin 
9. The return of Dio  

9 steps to fucking hell if you ask me - It all started with a public display of bad underpants and went skew-ways from there. Only the immense weight of quality from the early years pulled them out of that one - Which, I guess kind of made their reformation a guardian JCB or something, which eventually excavated and restored a relic of world heritage. And maybe, just maybe, Tony Iommi can sleep without incontinence pants now. Poor disillusioned child... And sometimes, even the bands themselves will hide away their records, stash them among their mothers scratchy Carol King originals and run. I'm all up for experimentation, but an adequate group of musicians will fall harder than a shower of feckless losers when said experiment exits to the world via the ringpiece. Let me tell you a story. Once upon a time there was a little old Southern Californian punk rock group called BAD RELIGION. They recorded a fist full of EPs, and an adequately seminal punk album. Following on from this - acoustic guitars, concepts, swirling underproduced keyboards and riffs straight from the new Journey album. Rehabilitated punk elders Graffin and Gurewitz were left to complete their INTO THE UNKNOWN "Observation" alone as various peripheral musicians from the original band dropped their hardware and vacated. Personally, I blame Greg Graffin, only a career micro-biology could possibly confuse anyone into writing songs with titles like " CHASE THE WILD GOOSE ". Betchya that's not exactly a live favourite there Greg. Redemption overkill in subsequent years gave this toss a hiding place. Somehow, the lesson learned for all to heed is along the lines of - Southern Californian punk rock and King Crimson (not that there's anything we dislike about them) DO NOT MIX.  
Onward down Gock Highway we pass more fast lane wreckage than it's possible to actually give a toss about..... although It's nice to see various members of the Eagles splattered out as roadkill. This is where they always belonged... But let's not get sidetracked, this is about bands that had worth at some point, let's see if we can find any corpse matter specific to our study... there is of course the matter of the phenomonal retardant of many late 70's punk bands. The 80's (bless 'em) crept over the roof tops like a heavy mist of Agent Orange and the punk casualties were tremendous. I summon to the dock THE DAMNED and the STRANGLERS. Our question - why must we see your utterances of guff clogging up every second hand section from here to Camden Market and beyond. It's odd that parts of a bands discography can be spread across both collectors record shops and car boot sales. It's possible that your actions led countless reformed pensioners attempting to relive past glories with poorly disguised dogshit, where once there were simple but vital and edgy tunes. Our evidence.....
EXHIBIT 1 - SLF... The world is not a better place as a result of FLAGS AND EMBLEMS or any subsequent MOR crud. (It's not actually a worse place, but just fuck off anyway).  

EXHIBIT 2 - THE RAMONES... End of The Century, Suburban Jungle, Pleasant Dreams.... Time and money would have been better spent on rehab. Luckily, redemption followed.  
EXHIBIT 3 - PUBLIC IMAGE LIMITED... Where once there was a highly infuential and innovative industrially laced grindstone, there now lies a career of equal length featuring crap flat straight rock and miserably uninterested vocals. Almost became Billy Idol for a while there!!!!  
EXHIBIT 4 - THE VIRGIN PRUNES... (see Public Image Limited for exactly the same answer!)  
EXHIBIT 5 - WIRE... (as above!)  
I could go on and rip up the tracks of every influential band that springs to mind... they've all got their stinkers and the best ones fall hardest. It stands to reason. They've got more to loose than your average punk toss. Miles Davis had his stinkers, As did Hawkwind, Motorhead, Lee Scratch Perry, Funkadelic... etc... Next time there's a picture disc copy of "The Black Album" by the Damned, "Second Coming" by the Dickies, or jaysus forbid, "The last man in Europe" by the Blades handing amongst the U2 promos in some dingy record hovel run by wankers, remember that it's dosh which could be better spent on destroying your liver. - BOZ

Friday, October 16, 2009


THE ENCROACHMENT CODEX II - images by Boz Mugabe opens this Sunday, 18th October 3-5pm at the COURTHOUSE ARTS CENTRE, Main St, Tinahely, Co Wicklow. Runs until Friday 13th November.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

FolkStreams - Stoney Knows How ( Film by Alan Govenar, Bruce "Pacho" Lane 1981 )

Fascinating glimpse into the working life of Stoney St. Clair, old school tattooist and ex-sword swallower.

FolkStreams » Stoney Knows How

Friday, October 2, 2009


Engaging public conversation between Amanda Palmer and Henry Rollins at the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles. 94 minutes and a lot of candid ground covered!!!

Lots more interesting stuff at

Monday, September 28, 2009

Friday, September 25, 2009

FOR THOSE ABOUT TO POP, WE SALUTE YOU! Part 2 - The Diasopric Gem Clusters (appeared in THE DEVIL ON 45 issue 4)

In recent times, ( or if you're under 25, in this lifetime ), there has been a justified vilification of poptones to the point where there'll be extensive queues, lynch mobs, tar, feathers and paperwork to beat the Mahon tribunal when the Nuremberg trials of pop drag Mike Stock, Matt Aitken, Pete Waterman, Simon Cowell, Louis Walsh and others through the streets of Europe where they can be prodded, punctured and smeared with excrement for the audio diarrhoea they have nurtured in the name of a quick buck.

And to set a tone old crones always meander off on, there actually WAS a time of wonderful popular music.. sometimes cheesy, sometimes heavily sugar frosted, even downright weird, but definitely not ushered into the realms of success solely by business projections or slimy marketing ( at least not to the point where product was downright tertiary ). And it wasn't age dependent either, a fact that was proven beyond doubt with “ A Tower Of Strength” - Frankie Vaughan ( Phillips 1961 ). A weird and wonderful little single right at the birth of soul this side of the planet, it crops up from time to time on the lower budget end of shabby dog-eared Burt Bacharach compilations that you'll find hamsters living in at the back of any CASA shop. Although this was also a hit in the US for Gene McDaniels ( Bacharach's publishing people had a real bad habit over subsequent years of allowing the running of what were tantamount to illegal dog fights with two artists versions of the same song at the same time ), this outlandish, hyperventilating and altogether lovably eccentric performance belies the stiff era in which it existed. What should still be a dancefloor stomper all these years later was seen as a slightly novelty R'n'B cut when Bacharach finally discovered that his songwriting pen was leaking gold. This version was his first number 1 (of many) in England. As for Vaughan, an old variety performer who popularised canes and top hats a decade previously was never going to remain marketable to spotty teens once the 60's kicked in!!! But good old Frankie was true to his word as a "tower of strength" and became a mediator between Glasgow youth gangs in the late 60's after being shocked at the blinding level of violence during a visit there. Strangely, Mr Bungle of all people were most recent to dig up and revitalise this song. And of course the Mission did a completely different song in the '80s but I can't help thinking it borrows ever so slightly from hooks and ideas in this. Still, nothing beats the splutter, skip and crackle of something pulled from the open cast soil of Oxfam if you happen to strike gold!!!

Of course, when pop music did go haywire ( across some sort of sea thing ) in the states at the turn of the 60's, the roots were some genuine guitar bandits - Richie Valens, Dick Dale and Link Wray - fused with the multi-vocal harmonising Four Freshmen, one crazed hit-spewing genius named Phil Spector and subsequently the Beach Boys, who's commercial success ultimately kickstarted the craze of surf music. Out of this monster came the mediocre, the brilliant and the ridiculous.

Whilst attempting to create an original composition to back the inane SURFER JOE, a high school dance band called the Surfaris reworked a 12-bar Dick Dale/Duane Eddy thing they were calling STILETTO and accidentally composed WIPEOUT, one of the genre's enduring instrumentals. It was significant for Ron Wilson's signature drum breaks, which were direct lifts from his high school marching band drum cadence. And while WIPEOUT put their name on the surf route forever, the flipside for a later single, ( the hot-rodding SCATTER SHIELD ) was to provide their finest moment. I Wanna Take A Trip To The Islands - The Surfaris ( Decca 1964 ) with a singing, drum rolling Ron Wilson and featuring the fabulous backing vocals of The Honeys is a perfect 1 minute and 35 seconds of surf pop. Thin production ( a classic trick to ensure that the tracks sounded good when broadcast on a small beach radio ) along with an 9 second guitar break and some of the best drum fills you're ever likely to hear in pop made this a huge hit in Australia and New Zealand in 1964. Whilst on tour there backing Roy Orbison and the Beach Boys, Ron Wilson was to end up at loggerheads with Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys over the heavy butt ends of his sticks being used to slowly destroy the expensive Rogers kit and hand picked Buddy Rich cymbals Dennis owned.
With a huge glut of bands ever expanding and diluting, and most contributing one ( if they were lucky ) memorable track to the genre, the Surfaris went the way of the surf music trend..... but try telling that to zimmerframed guitarists Bob Berryhill and Jim Fuller who persist in dragging separate versions of the Surfaris around sad old audiences who can't leave the beach for some reason or other. And adhesive to the formula of rock'n'roll bucket-kicking of the member who mattered, Ron Wilson died penniless in 1989 at age 44 of a brain aneurysm.

Any mention of pop would be pointless in any context without a look at the madness of Phil Spector and the brief period of wonderful music that flowered from his "Wall Of Sound" layering approach. Under all the eccentricity, he had a point when he explained his preference of singles, describing albums as " Two Hits and 10 pieces of junk " - A chunk of wisdom which is painfully obvious from many early soul albums, full length releases by the 4 Tops being prime examples. The diamond of the Spector oeuvre was undoubtedly He's A Rebel - Crystals ( Philles 1962 ), although the Gene Pitney penned track wasn't actually sung by the Crystals at all. Spector, typically paranoid that someone else would release a version ( it had already been stupidly rejected for the Shirelles for lyrically being a tad controversial ) figured that the New York based Crystals couldn't get out to LA in time to record and used another girl group, the Blossoms, featuring the vastly superior vocal talents of Darlene Love. The track is faultless 60's R'N'B ( and just think of the fucking bilge that stakes a claim to that genre now!!! ) and is an oddity for Spector in that he didn't flood it with layered orchestral strings... in fact it could be the only one of his major works that this applies to. And with regard to the identity crisis.... A failed attempt to graft Love onto the real Crystals as a new lead vocalist meant that they either had to lip-sync or deliver inferior versions OF HE'S A REBEL live, doing themselves no favours. Meanwhile Darlene Love fought for recognition before retiring from music and eventually resurfacing as Danny "I'm Gett'n too old for this shit" Glover's wife in the LETHAL WEAPON films.

Over at Motown, the concept of girl group complications was pretty much defined forever in the rivalry between Diana Ross and Martha Reeves, both personally and professionally. The ceaseless cat scrap had it's source in a relationship between Ross and Motown honcho Berry Gordy. This meant favouritism with the Supremes being given prime material and although Reeves had an astute business mind and was forever on the back of the publicity people at Motown, the lighter poppy Supremes always seemed to overshadow the sassy Vandellas ( it is alleged "Jimmy Mack" by the Vandellas was held back because it's quality would damage Supremes record sales ). To illustrate a point, the early mega-hit The Supremes - Can't Hurry Love ( Motown 1964 ) is up there with the pulse of anything that claims to be a dancefloor classic whether you're a Northern Soul snob or someone who accidentally knows this because of crimes against humanity Phil Collins perpetuated. However, if it's bubblegum versus gourmet soul, Martha Reeves And the Vandellas - Bless You ( Motown 1971 ) didn't sell worth a shit, is a fairly unknown track ( strangely for a composition by The Corporation, who were responsible for I WANT YOU BACK by the Jackson 5 - which was also huge ), yet for my money is pretty much one of the best singles ever to come from the Motown stable, and that's a risky and aggrandising representation. However, the Motown issue in depth is the subject of volumes of books, not scruffy fanzines, so some distance from the topic is necessary......

.....And what the hell was it with Sandie Shaw - Girl Don't Come ( Pye 1964 ) that the old hags who like to ban songs with "double entendre" titles overlooked? Was it Ms. Shaw's bare feet?... Was it those killer cheek bones and stunning 60's everygirl mod looks??? ... or simply that alluring melancholy that seemed to enshroud much of what she recorded until her shithead manager decided that she was past it and threw her into the eurovision with a petty song by that awful cunt Phil Coulter? I'm kind of astounded that this hasn't been mentioned much over the years. It has been argued that the likes of Petula Clark and Lulu were the best of British, and technically they were probably stronger vocalists, but until PP Arnold came along and made a complete joke out of the lot of them with that soul powerhouse dwelling within her vocal chords, Sandie Shaw mesmerised in a strangely understated sort of way ( and at least she could lip-sync unlike many of the artists of the time!! ). GIRL DON'T COME is the high point of a run of hits from '62-'66 which made her the most successful female artist of the decade, although to return to the initial point, I can't see a record label allowing any innocent female artist ( apart from Missy Elliot ) to release a song with a title like that!!

Later in the decade when people started guzzling psychedelics, the pop mod thing progressed with chart hit contenders like PP Arnold and Chris Farlowe now rubbing shoulders with the likes of Humble Pie, The Small Faces and The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown. It made for some interesting, scatty and short-lived genius, before spawning a huge glut of pretentious anal art shit. One overlooked intermediary were Atomic Rooster, formed by a scruffy organ pumping catweasel fresh from The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown called Vincent Crane. The Rooster were schizoid at the best of times, but had 2 or 3 hits, the best and least successful of which, Atomic Rooster - Stand By Me ( Dawn 1972 ) was a weird soul metal hybrid... it wasn't Black Sabbath and it wasn't Sly and The Family Stone but incorporated the finest elements of both. Even weirder, with Immediate Records soul crooner Chris Farlowe singing, it made for one unlikely marriage, but it worked in so many ways with the pumping piano, wakka wakka guitar, big brass and powerful vocals. This crossover from soul to hard rock existed in very few bands of the era as the standards being set by Black Sabbath and Deep Purple kept the stragglers on their toes!!

Later in the 70's, the popularisation of punk and it's morphosis from incompetent garage rock into incompetent pop produced some wonderful results. Although the vogue of the era dictated that it was forbidden to admit predating the Pistols, some bands simply didn't want or need badly enough to be part of the youthful nonsense of it all. One such example was the Stranglers and if it wasn't bad enough having keyboard player who looked like ( and played as well as ) Deep Purple's John Lord, and a drummer who was quite obviously 120 years old, their lovingly non-ironic Stranglers - Walk On By ( United Artists 1978 ) was an utterly unique and peerless prog punk rendition of Burt Bacharach & Hal David's classic. With the addition of JJ Burnell's trademark growling bass, Hugh Cornwell's deadpan vocals and Dave Greenfield's keyboard noodlings, they made it their own, losing none of the pop hook of the Dionne Warwick version despite NEARLY going on as long as the Issac Hayes version. In the process the Stranglers created one of the all time great cover versions. Burt Bacharach hated this but seemingly Dionne Warwick loved it! Not to get complacent, they went on to pull the evocative harpsichord driven Golden Brown ( United Artists 1981 ) out of nowhere, delivering to the world of pop one of it's greatest songs. PERIOD!

On the subject of incompetents learning in public under the guise of punk, particularly in relation to small insignificant singles that were never going to set the world ablaze, Belfast's Good Vibrations promoted such bands with no ambition other than to release a couple of 7"s locally, but where Rudi were firm favourites, it was the chirpy Undertones that eventually made the label the globally renowned incubator it is now considered by trainspotters of the perfect pop punk single. And although huge wads of attention are now directed towards The Outcasts, Ruefrex, Protex, the Xdreamysts etc, a little band from Dundalk just south of the border had within them one of the most grossly overlooked jewels of all. Static Routines - Rock'n'roll Clones / Sheet Music ( Good Vibrations 1979 ) showcased an unpretentious punk philosophy that only ever needed 2 tracks to lay down. Driven by tin pot drumming, rudimentary fuzzy choppy guitar, plonky piano and a couple of great pop hooks, it captures the threads of innocence that weave through many of the Good Vibrations platters. Bassist Conor O'Mahony eventually managed Something Happens & Keyboardist Declan Lynch became a Hot Press writer. This is a masterpiece that sadly ( along with DANCING IN THE GHETTO/AMUSE YOURSELF ('79) by the Greystones based Strange Movements ) does not to date exist on any of the label anthologies.

As things rolled over into the dirty 80's, pop was not just pop, but packaging too... it always had been in a way but this was a first generation of Chameleonic Bowie fan entering the music world via punk and broadening into all manner of musical arena - Electronic, new wave, salsa, goth etc... Some of the heavy hitters of punk went underground while others courted this need for image with a lustre for the potential fruits of pop success. If Richard Branson, still clinging onto his post-Pistols trophy frontman like he was hot property, allowed John Lydon the benefit of the doubt with PUBLIC IMAGE and the doubt of the benefit with METAL BOX, then clearly ( at least in commercial terms, even for an old prog gimp ) he considered him to be severely ripping the piss with what came next. Public Image Limited - Flowers Of Romance ( Virgin 1981 ) and the album of the same name were with in the genre of popular music, but were not POP music as such. The largely drum loop based spearhead single, layered with keyboard noodlings, a cello tune-up and Lydon's catterwalling made for a legendary Top Of The Pops appearance and shot the single into the top 30 ( Not to mention making the album their biggest seller to date despite attempts by the label to limit the pressing ). This was a triumph of the will for anti-pop which has certainly never been repeated and is unlikely to happen again with such severity. Even watching the TOTP footage now, it's hard to believe that it was a hit single! And in terms of legacy, FLOWERS OF ROMANCE was the first major love/hate watershed for PIL fans and remains to this day the perfect pop song with which to empty a party!

Not quite as strange in musical content, but an unlikely portal to the pop world nevertheless, Laurie Anderson - Oh Superman ( One Ten 1981 / Warner Brothers 1981 ) was originally a small run of 1000 of a recording made by the New York performance artist with a NEA grant. The minimalist track consisted mainly of a (sub-Steve Reich ) looped phrase with a vocoded semi-spoken vocal. Lyrical content pointed ambiguously at the LE CID opera by Massenet and the Iran hostage crisis of '79/'80. Somehow this sat comfortably in a middle ground with all of the experimental post punk music coming out of Europe and John Peel ( the most important fan to have on your side in these circumstances ) took to it's inarguable elegance and charm. With this came a call from an English distributor mistaking it for a commercial release, requesting 40,000 copies within a week. Quite by accident Anderson, who was more famous for her violin contraptions and performance art, was suddenly signed to Warner Brothers for 8 albums, some great, some not so good. In 2002 she became NASA's first artist in residence. She married Lou Reed in April 2008. OH SUPERMAN and the BIG SCIENCE album ('82) unsurprisingly remain her finest musical moments.

In dealing with the devil, we finally arrive back at those whores of 80's pop, the hellish vermin who ruined it all forever - Stock, Aitken & Waterman. It almost pains me to have to include one of their productions, which is unfortunately tangled with a much more interesting tale of a Baltimore hairdresser turned shit eating drag queen, born Harris Glenn Milstead, who cut his teeth in various off Broadway stage productions, and was a major player in John Waters films before embarking on a hard edged disco pop career in the wake of the first wave of New York mutant disco ( Suicide, Kid Creole, Was Not Was etc ). The big hit, Divine - You Think You're A Man ( Proto 1984 ) was a nasty, nasty dancefloor anthem from a 300 pound man with a very gruff singing voice who had the phones hopping with complaints from irate mothers after a Top Of The Pops performance to promote the single. Further Divine appearances were subsequently out of the question and none of the follow up records ever scaled such lofty heights!! Interestingly, the track itself was written by Geoff Deane, former Leyton Buzzards and Modern Romance vocalist. Divine died of heart failure in 1988 age 42, shortly after being cast in the mainstream sitcom MARRIED.... WITH CHILDREN. There's a horrible pointless 2005 dance mix of this which sort of scrapes the 80's dirt from under it's fingernails, sanitises it and kind of misses the point.

And as the music industry in general reaches another corner with uncertainty over formats, the allure of a pop record has long been killed off as anything but an exercise in business and finance. Is it any wonder that the most inspirational slice of unadulterated ( albeit slightly "remixed" ) pop for as long as most people can remember is the glorious youtube pisstake Shakira featuring Danzig - Hips Don't Lie ( Source unknown Youtube 2006 ). But pop WAS once upon a time a genre of reputable and thoughtfully crafted soundbites - a sugar fix that would never kickstart a revolution and made no such claims for itself - Why it became a dirty word is down to a few dirty old men who stole the soul and replaced it with backing tracks, bimboys, bints and ledgers! - BOZ


Thursday, September 24, 2009