In the future, reviews will be published quarterly. M&M is too busy working on his weekly 2-hours punkradioshow (check it out here) but I am really happy to welcome a great new contributor to the Batarang Review Gang : StevenVDW! We got a shitload of exciting records so let's get on with it immediately...

 
 

JANUARY - FEBRUARY - MARCH 2006

 

The College Years - ALL-AMERICAN PLAYBOYS (Attitude Records - CD)

Aaalriiight maaan, more neo-billy “rawk’n’roll” stuff. With lots of horns this time, and I like horns if well used, only this sounds like Andy G. and The Roller Kings if they were really lame and on Gearhead or something. It’s boring, generic, clean-cut and well, just not working me. I can’t listen to this for three songs in a row; it’s just too…obvious? Not that that means anything, it sounds accessible enough and plenty of people will like this kind of thing. It’s a party, but one I’d rather stay away from. At least I got this in the mail for free, the people of the “Attitude” label better buy me a drink. *sAm*

 

O Começo Do Fim Do Mundo - Brasilian post-punk 1982-85 - AS MERCENARIAS (Soul Jazz Records - LP)

“The beginning of the end of the world”. Woohoo this is the real thing. Four angry girls, nothing could hold them back: not the holy church (“Santa igreja”), not the police (“Policia”), not the military dictatorship that was in charge back then. This band should have been huge but never even made it outside of Sao Paulo! Nothing more to say. No fillers, just killers. If you’re gonna buy just one of the SoulJazz releases I’d pick this one. First 1000 copies come with a free 7” so hurry up ignorant fools. *StevenVDW*

 

Colour Green – SIBYLLE BAIER (Orange Twin - CD)

Goddamn what a beautiful record this is! One Sybille Baier recorded these 14 intimate & fragile folk gems in Germany between 1970 and 1973. During some kind of existential crisis, a friend of her took her out on a road trip across the Swiss Alps and Sybille felt her spirits rejuvenated afterwards and recorded these delicate songs on a reel to reel tape machine in her bedroom. Until now, only her close friends and family had heard these songs but thanks to her son Robby, these beautiful recordings are now being issued officially. Like the brief liner notes state : “The songs on Colour Green are intimate portraits of life’s sad and fragile beauty”. If you like the music of Vashti Bunyan or Nick Drake, you should definitely check this timeless record out! I think it’s damn cool that amazing music like this continues to be discovered! *luKe*

 

Let It Bloom - THE BLACK LIPS (In The Red - LP)

Aaah, yes, woe, yeah! The new Black Lips album is in the post and I’m all giddy like a 13 year old schoolboy who just discovered his dad’s hidden Penthouse collection. This album contains some true gems when it comes to depraved ‘60s garage rock’n’roll drugsfuelled hippie nonsense punk debauchery. They sound a bit more “pop” and “accessible” then on their previous albums, but in a really good way. My favourites at the moment are “Gung Ho”, “Take Me Home”, “Gentle Violence”, their fabulous cover of Jacques Dutronc’s “Hippie Hippie Hoorah”, the incredibly geniously stupid “Dirty Hhands”,…the list goes on and on. With 2005 dead and buried I’m going to have to say that this was my favourite record of said year. Oh yeah, the keyword here is “drugs”. Find the dragon! *sAm*

 

Stuck on you/Fuck me dead - THE BRIEFS (Zaxxon Records - 7")

The Briefs are catchy as catchy can be. That’s catchy as in “noise annoys” and catchy as in “teenage kicks” and not catchy as in the shit your 16 year old neigbourpunkbrat digs. I haven’t heard any of their albums and I probably won’t buy one as to me this kind of music was made for the 7” format. Two songs: the great “Stuck on you” (awright!) and “Fuck me dead”.
*StevenVDW*

 

Love And Dust/Just Wanna Go Out/Do What You Want - THE BUSY SIGNALS (Douchemaster Records - 7")

When a Tyrade, a Krunchie, a Carbona, a Terminal Boredom contributor and some foxy looking chick team up to play punk/powerpop that seems to be inspired by everything from The Beat to The Buzzcocks, and then release it on a label like Douchemaster Records, you just know that magic is bound to happen. And such is indeed the case because when the two song on the a-side; “Love and dust” and “Just wanna go out” already score way above average, “Do what you want” on the b-side is an absolute killer! Get this one, The Suspicions 7” and The High Tension Wires album and you have about the best that the dubious “powerpop” genre had to offer us in 2005. *sAm*

 

Keep On The Sunny Side: Her Life In Music - JUNE CARTER CASH (Sony 2005 – 2CD)

I figured this would be an interesting compilation with some cool, some okay and some pretty lame material, but to my surprise this is absolutely great from start to finish. This collection spans almost sixty-five years, from June’s earliest Carter Family recordings at the age of five on Mexican border radio, 1939, to her posthumous 2003 solo album. In between you get to enjoy her wonderful music in various shapes and forms: with the Carter Sisters (with and without Mother Maybelle), with her first husband Carl Smith, with country satirists Homer & Jethro (here are two cats that deserve a decent multi-disc retrospective), and some great solo 45s, such as 1953’s Juke Box Blues, and the spaghetti western-tinged “The Heel” from 1961, which sounds like Lee Hazlewood had a hand in it (he didn’t). The bulk of disc 2 consists of some duets with Johnny, and her pièce de résistance, the 1975 solo album “Appalachian Pride”, which is included in its entirety. It disappeared from the market soon after release and hadn’t been reissued since. It sounds so fresh and timeless with a production so subtle and restrained it’s hard to believe this is actually a mid-seventies country album. All in all, this is a fantastic overview (great music, lengthy, interesting liner notes and tons of pictures) of a very small, but amazingly consistent musical oeuvre, and a worthy tribute to one of the grand ladies of country music. Can’t recommend it enough. *tOm*

 

BILLY CHILDISH is Dead (Cherry Red - DVD)

Like a lot of you out there I’m a huge Billy Childish admirer and love every band or project he was in so I was very excited when this 90-minute documentary about the man came out. The maker of this film, Graham Bell, spent several months with Billy and interviewed him on various subjects; from his view on music and the arts in mainstream culture, popularity and how people see him, to his abuse by his father as a child and his drinking problems. Mind you that it’s not a “Childish idolization movie”. Also the less bright moments of his life are brought into the spotlight and other people also have their say about him, such as “kids” director Larry Clark, Holly Golightly and a totally incomprehensible Shane McGowan. Apart from that you naturally get a lot of live footage from The Milkshakes, Thee Mighty Caesars, Thee Headcoats and The Buff Medways (no Pop Rivets) and some of it is even filmed in Belgium! Also a lot of his poetry is being read (by Billy himself as well as by others), and you get to see a lot of his paintings and other art, a side of his repertoire some of us music freaks might be a little less familiar with. I think Billy Childish is one of the greatest and truest, most prolific (more then 100 albums, more then 2500 paintings!!) underground artists of our time and I’m very glad he’s not dead, as the title suggests. If you are even slightly interested in the man’s work and personality, then this dvd is an absolute must have. *sAm*

 

The Fatals - THE FATALS (Yakisakana Records - 10")

The Fatals are the new kings of the garage, even if it’s a very noisy and distorted garage. Who could expect that France (yes France!) would ever boast tens of great garagepunkbands ? Yep France is noisy punkrock ground zero and the Yakisakana-release are the ones to track down. You probably all own one or two Fatals singles, so you know what to expect. This 10” is without any doubt their strongest effort yet. “Threat me bad” takes their songwriting skills to new heights, “Captain cavern” is frantic psychobilly and there’s a great stripped-down Oblivians cover. Les Fatals end up with their best song yet : “Don’t need you”. Most essential release in a long time. *StevenVDW*

 

Shake All Night - FE FI FO FUMS (Boom Boom Records - LP)

This wild threesome recently put on a great show at the mighty Pit’s bar and afterwards, it seemed like everybody wanted a copy of this ‘thick cardboard sleeve’ record! The Fe Fi Fo Fums sound very similar to The Mummies but nothing wrong with that as long as the band ain’t a weak imitation and knows how to ROCK! (The Suspicions, who opened for the Fe Fi Fo Fums, sounded like Supercharger but couldn’t stand on their own : I really got a déjà vu-feeling, so-so copycats if you ask me…) “Shake All Night” features 13 party wreck & roll anthems like the mighty “My Baby Got The Boom Boom” and the incredible single “Electrofize Me”. I highly recommend this album ‘cuz this band really succeeded in capturing the drunken madness of their live shows onto a slab of vinyl. Altogether now : “That’s Cool!! That’s Trash!!!” *luKe*

 

Scorpion Stomp #2 - THE GOLDEN BOYS (Perpetrator Records - LP)

Right from the start (the Lee Hazlewood-penned “Cold hard times”) you know this is something different. If you’re looking for the next distorted assault on r’n’r, skip this! I had only heard the great SSLD single. These songs have that same countryfeel and are not a bit weaker. Most of the songs were written by Matthew H. while James Arthur of Fireworks and Feast of Snakes fame is drumming. They seem as much influenced by country as by Thin White Rope, Cheater Slicks (“Friday night”!) and Demons Claws (some bands that came to mind while listening) but still have a sound very much their own. The Golden Boys hail from Texas and the desert is omnipresent in this music as the vultures on the sleeve suggest. Personal faves are “Happiness” (“happiness is a lie!” – might give you a clue), “Party” and “Whisky bottle”. What more is there to say : great record all the way, probably not for the average garage fascists' taste, but who cares about them anyway. *StevenVDW*

 

The Gospel Swingers – THE GOSPEL SWINGERS (Lonestar Records - LP)

This amazing record’s been out for a couple of months on the obscure German Lonestar label but since it received almost no media attention, it had to be included in Batarang’s Picks! The Gospel Swingers released a rather obscure 7” on In The Red in 2001 and it took the band 4 years to come up with a follow-up. It may sound cliché but it was well worth the wait ‘cuz The Gospel Swingers’ eponymous debut album is a five star release! The band includes 3 members from The Now Time Delegation (Alex Cuervo on bass, Kari Luna on organ and Chris Merlick on guitar) and shares the same high-energy organ-driven soul stomp. In The Gospel Swingers however, Lisa Kekaula is replaced by Quincy Holloway, a young black American who screams at the top of his lungs without losing the slightest bit of soul! The band, expanded in several songs with clarinet, trumpet, trombone and saxophone, plays very tight and sounds like Booker T and The MGs on speed (they even cover Booker T’s “Bootleg”!). Thanks to Tim Kerr’s very powerful production, the great songs really blast out of the speakers which makes this unique garage/soul outfit even more exciting! I don’t know if The Gospel Swingers are still active but I do know that Alex and Kari are now glittering in This Damn Town. This album however, is too good to be ignored so don’t be a square and buy it on sight ‘cuz it would be a real bummer for both the band and the fans if this instant classic would be left unnoticed. Like I said before : Five Star Release! *luKe*

 

For The Season - THE GRIS GRIS (Birdman Records - LP)

I was very impressed by their selftitled debut album and now The Gris Gris, led by ex-Mirrors Greg Ashley are here with a second one. It has some noise, some ballads (“Medication nr.4”), some gospel (“Down with Jesus”), some Sonic Youth, some folk/Americana, some of a lot of stuff. It’s beautiful, weird, haunting, athmospherical and replayable. Apart from the “usual” instruments it also includes organ, accordion, mandolin and 12-string guitar. Some will love it, some will hate it, some (like me) will think it’s a wonderful record. *sAm*

 

Abscond – SKIP JENSEN (Demolition Derby LP)

This is the vinyl version of the Skip Jensen full CD that came out on Delta Pop Music a couple of months ago. I’m glad it’s finally available on vinyl too ‘cuz this kind of bluesy lo-fi trash works so much better on vinyl! Last year, the debut album by The Demon’s Claws, the band in which Skip Jensen plays drums, received mixed feelings although I personally think it was one of the real highlights of 2005! I don’t rate this album as high but it is still a very groovy record that you might like. Give it a try! *luKe*

 

Play, Loose, Die - THE MIGHTY GO-GO PLAYERS (Alien Snatch Records - 10")

Mon Dieu! Apparently it was not enough for Piero Gogoman and Marco to only making noise with the fatals en sud de France because they also are stirring up trouble everywhere with the mighty go-go players. It’s your typical wild and noisy ’60 inspired trashy rock’n’roll drenched in all the Muscat wine and absinth that 3 generations of goatcheese eating peasants could produce. Piero goes totally zany on the organ and vocals, and although it’s quiet raw and noisy and “damaged” like the fatals it has more of a party vibe to it. Another very worthwhile alien snatch release! *sAm*

 

Headache City - HEADACHE CITY (Shit Sandwich Records - LP)

Shit Sandwich brings us this “Headache City”. I didn’t know what to expect and man am I surprised. There’s keyboards in every song, but all you “fuck new-wave” scum need not run for cover. Album starts incredibly strong with “Haha”, “Kneejerk reaction” and “Pony up”. Mark E Smith can be proud of Mike Fitzpatrick’s snarling vocals, and there’s most definitely other Fall and Swell Maps influences. “Tearjerker” is an appropriately entitled, uh, tearjerker and “Suicide summer” and “Livin on the edge of a knife” may not be the most uplifting of songtitles, they do not in any way sound depressing (maybe a little ironically). Yet another great album with “Headache city” as the obvious highlight. Hope they can make it to Europe. *StevenVDW*

 


The Last Waltz - KILLDOZER (Crustacean Records - LP reissue)

“Recorded 11/16/96 on Killdozer’s Fuck You We Quit Tour at The Unicorn in Milwaukee, Wisconsin” Yep this is Killdozer, one of my favorite eighties bands, don’t expect subtleties. Originally released on Man’s Ruin in ’97 but long since unavailable, Crustacean decided to reissue these 13 live gems. First dissappointment : only Michael Gerald from the original lineup, no Hobson bros WTF, I’m retarded!! Well ok, it has Eric Tunison of Die Kreuzen. Enough namedropping. I let the music speak as ABBA (another Killdozer favorite) sung. “This song is for the nation of Sweden” says Gerald in the intro and off we go for the demented grunt “Porky’s dad”. Sounds great. Actually the whole album sounds great. Personal faves are “man of meat”, the epic “I’ve seen grown men cry” and “Richard” (“but you can call me dick”). As the thrue fan probably expected there’s silly jokes, great covers (“Sweet home Alabama” called “Way down in old Alabam” and “Song for grand forks” here), tongue-in-cheek-socialist artwork (“Mao Tse Tung, friend of the peasants, Chinese Revolution, 1949”, yeah right). Comes very limited on 500 handnumbered red vinyl lp’s with a cd with two extra-tracks, lots of pictures, flyers and posters and a free Crustacean SXSW 2005 sampler (flushed it after listening one time). *StevenVDW*

 

Cantes Gitanos - LA NINA DE LOS PEINES (Flamenco Vivo 2005 – CD)

You’re probably familiar with Sam Phillips’ famous words on first hearing Howling Wolf: “This is where the soul of man never dies”. I get the same feeling every time I listen to Andalusian flamenco singer La Niña de los Peines, “the girl with the combs”. Love at first sight it wasn’t though. My first acquaintance with Pastora Pavón – that’s her real name – was on the excellent “Early Cante Flamenco” compilation on Arhoolie, but for some reason, none of the music really clicked. Yet. 2003’s “Hot Women”, a Crumb compilation of old 78 recordings by “Women singers from the torrid regions of the world” also featured a tune by La Niña, and this time I fell for her hard.
Pastora Pavón was born in Sevilla in 1890 in a family of gypsies. She made her professional debut as a singer in 1903. Her first commercial recordings hit the stores as early as 1910. By then she had already firmly established herself as the undisputed queen of Andalusian cante. After the Spanish civil war, her traditional style began to fall out of fashion and her career started to dwindle. She died in 1969. In the 1990s, her work became popular again, resulting among other things in the release in 2004 of a box set containing 258 cantes recorded between 1910 and 1950, on no less than 13 discs.
In my opinion, La Niña de los Peines ranks as one of the great masters of twentieth century European folk music. This is achingly beautiful stuff that speaks straight to the heart. The raw intensity of the singing, the aggressive yet graceful stop/start guitar playing, and the stark, skeletal sound make for a package that may appeal more to fans of pre-war Mississippi country blues than to the average world music beardo. Federico García Lorca, who was a great admirer of her music, called her a “sombrío genio hispánico, equivalente en capacidad de fantasía a Goya y a Rafael el Gallo”. I think this can go untranslated.
This CD consists of 19 songs, eight of them recorded in 1928/29, and twelve between 1946 and 1950. Although a bit short (56 minutes), this is a fine introduction to her work, mainly thanks to the thick, tastefully designed booklet, which has extensive liner notes in Spanish, English and French, a lot of pictures, and transcriptions of the lyrics. Really annoying, though, is that the track list only mentions the style of the cante (seguiriyas, alegrias, etc.) instead of the song title. Fortunately, in flamenco (as in many other kinds of folk music), songs were generally named after their opening line, so you can check the lyrics if you want to compare the track list with that of other releases (which, of course, is a hassle). Another criticism concerns the somewhat muffled sound, yet for once the Inquisition-style noise reduction doesn’t bother me much. If you let the music take possession of you, you’ll stop noticing halfway through the first song. It’s that good. If you’re willing to settle for a release with more basic (read: tacky) packaging, look for “Mirame A Los Ojos” from 2000, which contains some absolute killer tunes that for some reason didn’t make it onto the Flamenco Vivo collection. Both Niña volumes in the Maestros del Cante Flamenco series on Planet Records are also great. *tOm*

 

Get it Straight - THE MODERNETTES (Sudden Death Records - CD)

Lately I reviewed the “Vancouver Compilation” album which also came out on Sudden Death records and I was somewhat disappointed that The Modernettes weren’t featured but guess what? Sudden Death now just released this full album of material by this Canadian powerpop phenomenon! This includes their genius “Teen City” EP, and that alone is worth getting the cd for! Also 3 songs of their “Gone but not forgotten “ LP, their “View from the bottom” EP and a whole bunch of live stuff, which is of pretty decent quality. In their heyday they were described as “warped sixties guitar pop” and if you like stuff à la The Pointed Sticks or Epicycle or just good pop/rock’n’roll/punk stuff, then I’d highly recommend this. *sAm*

 

Southern Trash - THE JEFFREY NOVAK ONE MAN BAND (P-Trash - LP)

When the Jeffrey Novak 7”s were already a bunch of neat collectibles, this album blows them all away! Totally fucked up, aggressive and out of control one-man punk. If The Reatards were a one-man band, it probably would have sounded like this. Although lo-fi, it sounds very full for something that is made by a stoked up kid from Tennessee around his 20s. Sounds like a full punkband actually. He does some great covers like The Pack’s “We better get ready” but his originals like “Medication” and “Tonight” are just as good to say the least. Jeffrey is a sensation, and YOU need him. *sAm*

 

Nouvelle Formule... - LE TOUT PUISSANT POLY RYTHMO (IACP Music 2005- CD)

The liner notes to the Soundway compilation “The Kings of Benin Urban Groove 1972-1980” said that these folks were still around, but that they had just recorded this comeback album/greatest hits collection or whatever you want to call it came as a complete surprise. Then again, this release doesn’t cater to foreign afro funk fans or world music enthusiasts. It’s clearly a trip down memory lane intended for the domestic oldies market and the occasional expat who’s managed to scrape together a decent living abroad. Just take a look at the cover art: a crude cut-out of the five principal band members placed in a vaguely Mediterranean setting of a white country house with the Mont Ventoux or some other snowy mountain top sitting in the background. The ultimate wet dream or escape fantasy of the average middle-class African? Surprisingly, the music is great. Some of their most popular songs revisited in a tasteful, timeless, no-frills production. Apparently not all of those old Cuban or African geezers need Ry Cooder or Nick Gold around to prevent them from ruining their reputation with an unforgivable crime against music. In this respect, this record has only two minor flaws (probably resulting from the couple of overdubs that were subsequently added in Paris, as mentioned in the liner notes), and those are a) the “fonky” 80s slap bass in one song, and b) the lousy “Poly Slow (Mawu)”, which drowns in cheesy synths (which is a rather big-ass flaw, now that you mention it). Then again, these guys were renowned for playing just about anything, and rather than a bunch of musical opportunists, it makes them the ultimate pan-African dance band. The line-up here includes most of the original surviving members plus, among others, the great Sagbohan Danialou, one of West Africa’s greatest and best-kept-secret contemporary musicians. If you’re interested in this particular release, good luck finding it. I stumbled upon it in African import shop Musica Nova in Brussels, and an internet search will get you only two useful hits (including this review, probably), and a couple of dead links. According to the liner notes (which are lengthy and informative, although a little “à l’africaine” – and that’s cool too, of course), there’s a second volume on the way, but first let’s hope this one gets at least some basic kind of distribution outside of their home country. *tOm*

 

Silver & Gold 1973-1979 - PRINCE FAR-I (Blood and Fire 2005 – CD)

Deejay and producer Prince Far-I, né Maurice Williams, doesn’t need a lengthy introduction. Nicknamed “The Voice of Thunder”, his gruff “rockstone” voice earned him his present reputation as one of the most interesting deejays of the mid and late seventies. In that respect, it’s a bit weird that most Far-I releases on the market are dub albums. This, then, is that must-have introduction to the man’s peak period vocal output that a lot of people have been waiting for. The earliest tracks on here were cut for the Soul Beat and Micron labels (some originally credited to King Cry Cry, his first nom de guerre), but as of 1975 most were released on his own Cry Tuff label. All historic, first-choice material that’s never been reissued before. The opening cut – a storming take on The Slickers’ “Johnny Too Bad” – deserves world heritage status, but his own, original Cry Tuff rhythms are exceptionally strong too. The five glorious dub cuts add further evidence to the strength of his rhythms and bring some welcome diversity to the listening program: great as his deep, guttural growl may be, 70 minutes straight of Prince Far-I’s stark and even-paced preaching might turn out to be a somewhat tedious listen. Three more Cry Tuff cuts by prime Jamaican soul singer John Holt round out this excellent package. *tOm*

 

Tennessee Rock 'n Roll - RAT TRAPS (Your Permanent Records - 7")

New band out of Henderson, TN featuring the amazing Jeffrey Novak on drums/vocals, his sister April on guitar and her husband Joe on another guitar and singing. What you get here is more of that angry, pissed off KBD-style punk stuff about how people die everyday and the fact that there’s rock’n’roll in Tennessee. Lucky for me I’m addicted to this kind of thing. Great stuff and my favourite new-a-days “family band”. *sAm*

 

Raxola - RAXOLA (CD)

This reissue comes highly anticipated, as most of you probably never even got to see the original Philips lp. There’s a bootleg but as it’s suffering from poor sound quality this lucky man is holding a precious little gem, packed in a simple cardboard sleeve with the original “artwork”. Contrary to The Kids, Raxola didn’t sell a lot of records back in 1978 and that’s a shame as this reissue proves. You probably know “84’s man” and “Kill your son” (wrongly credited to Lou Reed) from the “Bloody Belgium” and “Bloodstains” comps, and great as these tracks may be, there’s even better ones here. Listen to the downward creepy “Thalidomide Child”: a malicious slab of two-chord-heaven (As Eric Oblivian says “whenever simple works that well, it just smacks ya in the head”) or the great “I can sleep”, the staccato “Wait for the war”, “Anxious” and so on, all songs written by Eef–“Yke”-Kengen. The Raxola-sound may not have been as raw as some of the Kids and Chainsaw stuff, not as “sophisticated” as the Mad Virgins tracks, but “Yke” is Bloody Belgium’s king of punk. Buy the cd through Goner or straight from the band. *StevenVDW*

 

I wanna be an angel/Waiting for WW3 - RAXOLA (7")

Like so many original punkbands Raxola is back. I was a little sceptic about these two new songs after hearing the slightly embarrassing new recordings by The Kids and De Brassers.
First song “I wanna be an angel” was recorded in England with old pal Brian James of The Damned fame while doing a small UK-tour with The Guilty Pleasures. Surprise : it’s a great song, even if it is not “punkrock”, rather huh indie (“we don’t care, we play music and our spirit remains the same” says Kengen). For some reason this song got stuck in my head, can’t be bad. Second song “Waiting for WW3” is a slow, even more effective version of their “Wait for the war”. A pity these songs aren’t released on a 7” – I hate cd singles, even when they come in a cardboard sleeve, so if there’s any labelheads reading?? *StevenVDW*

 

The Sexual Life of THE SAVAGES - Post Punk from Sau Paulo, Brazil (Soul Jazz Records - LP)

After reissuing tons of Jamaican music, jazz and Latin stuff SoulJazz now ventures into postpunk territory. Those of you who start pukin’ by simply hearing the pp word better not read further. Yep this is music influenced by the likes of DNA, Delta5, Bush Tetras and Gang of Four but also by Defunkt, obscure filmscores and other stuff. Straight from the Sao Paulo Megalopolis (20 million people are packed there), all these songs were recorded in the first half of the eighties. Almost all of it is sung in Portuguese and there’s samba and bossa references galore. Comp starts incredibly strong with two As Mercenarias tracks: “Inmigo” is great but nothing could prepare me for “Panico”, a song that could be on Bloodstains across Brasil. None of the other tracks can equal the As Mercenarias tracks, but there’s more great songs: Gang 90’s “Jack Kerouac” is great, as is the Muzak’s “Ilha Urbana”. Again, you narrowminded garagepunkpurists, run for cover. All others, check out this beautifully packaged and documented album. "The Sexual Life (…)" comes in a vinyl and cd version for your lounging pleasure. *StevenVDW*

 

THIS DAMN TOWN/THE GUILTY HEARTS (Sonico Records split 7")

I only got hold of this split now, although I guess it was released in 2005. Two tracks by This Damn Town, two by Guilty Hearts. Oh boy, This Damn Town’s sound more and more has this BIG sound (slow, heavy) you either love or hate, and some even compare them to Danzig. I’ve been loving Alex Cuervo’s songs from the days he was with the equally great Blacktop and I think both of their songs are good, even if they are remarkably similar. Hell, my wife likes ‘em so I better call’em great. The Guilty Hearts songs have more of a typical garageband, but these songs rule. “Seven days seven ways” is a supergarageclassic in the making. Period. As all This Damn Town-related releases this split comes in a beautiful sleeve. There’s a lot more This Damn Town releases coming, looking forward to those. *StevenVDW*

 

Mata al Contacto - TRAILERPARK TORNADOS (Big Neck Records - LP)

Although their previous single didn’t really do much for me this full length has totally won me over again. Really great fun yet angry fistpumping slamdancing-and-a-drink-spilling hardcore/punk stuff making you wanna go back to those highschool glory days spend drinking 20 cents carlsquelle beer in the park trying to look “punk” or whatever. “Do the dahmer”, “Crowbar”, “No Dice”, "Bad Love”,…are all raging goodies who even have some sing-a-long capacity in them that will appeal to any GG Allin fan, but not in an annoying or boring way. Djeez, before you know I’ll be listening to “This is Boston not LA” again. Recommended! *sAm*

 

Annie Get Your Gnu - THE WILDEBEESTS (Screaming Apple - LP)

Whoaaa!!! Le nouveau WILDEBEESTS est arrivé!!! Goddamn I really LOVE this band!! They have the right tunes and never disappoint. This new long-player, their fourth, is another high mark in their 10-year career! Their 60s garage punk is right up their with the very best 60s garage beat punk EVER RECORDED! It took some time until this record saw the light of day but when you hear it, you realise why : THE WILDEBEESTS waited until they had 14 blistering tracks that would leave competition far behind. A song like “Lucinda” is like the ultimate jukebox song while rippers like… oh shit… I can’t concentrate while listening to these amazing tunes, I’m going to get me another beer and play this record all over again for the 27th time 'cuz THE WILDEBEESTS are the only thing that matters to me right now!! *luKe*

 

Messenger Man - WILLI WILLIAMS (Blood and Fire 2005 - CD)

Willie Williams’ signature tune is the 1979 Studio One classic Armagiddeon Time (itself an update of Coxsone’s classic late 60s “Real Rock” rhythm), which was covered that same year by a certain Brit pop band called The Clash, and which Charlie Parker impersonator (a good one at that!) Forest Whitaker had pumping through his car speakers in the mildly entertaining “Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai” twenty years later. This, William’s first full-length after a decade of musical activity, dates from that same era (recorded 1978/1979, released 1980), which means it’s a bit late to make for a crucial roots record, although – after a couple of spins – I’m beginning to find it quite enjoyable (more so than some of the earlier roots albums that did enter the reggae canon), and some songs are genuine killers. Best of all – although that’s a matter of taste – are the eight (!) previously unreleased dubs by Scientist (King Tubby’s), Errol Thompson (Joe Gibbs Studio), Solgie Hamilton (Channel One), and Jerry Lion at Summer Sounds in Toronto, Canada, where Williams began residing in the mid-70s. Unfortunately, we’re left guessing who did which dub; some additional track-by-track info would have been nice. *tOm*

 

MORTIKA – Rare vintage recordings from a Greek underworld (Arko Records – CD)

Rembetika is the music of a Greek sub-culture of outsiders and deals with typical underworld themes such as drugs, theft, passion, murder & prison. The music sprang out of the jails and hashish-dens of Greek towns and became the popular bouzouki music of the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s. To me, rembetika is the saddest music in the world but also the most beautiful. Twenty of the recordings on this terrific collection were recorded commercially between 1927 and 1946 and several of them are previously unreleased on compact disc. The last song was recorded in 2000 by Nikos Vrachnas who died Jan 26th 2004. He was one the very last to sing and play in the old Piraeus style. Even though you have all the Rounder compilations and a couple of other ones on various labels (Trikont, Nascente, Lyra, Heritage, Arhoolie, Alma Criolla) there is still much to discover here! The mix between familiar (Andonis Dalgas, Markos Vamvakaris, Marika Papagika, Rita Abadzi) and unknown artists (Zouridhakis, Yiorgios Katsaros, Manétas) is exemplary while the chosen songs are simply wonderful. The song titles should give you an idea what the music is all about : “I Creep Along The Walls”, “Oh Mother, I Can’t Stand It”, “Heroin and Hashish”, “The Loser”, “Hash Smoking Chicks”… this is no music for the faint of heart! The fascinating fat booklet features intriguing pictures and many interesting essays like ‘Drug themes in rembetika’ and ‘The Instruments’. It makes ‘Mortika’ a perfect companion to 2 classic essential books about rembetika : Gail Holst’s “Road to Rembetika” and Elias Petropoulos’ “Songs of the Greek Underworld”. Another triumph of this beautiful release is the stunning mastering : vintage rembetika never sounded so good! If you want to find out more about this heavenly CD, check out the label here. Beware : very addictive stuff! *luKe*

 

Golden Afrique Vol. 2: Highlights And Rarities From The Golden Era Of African Pop Music (1956-1982): The Great Days Of Rumba Congolaise And Early Soukous (Network 2005 - 2CD)

Congotronics 2: Buzz’n’Rumble From The Urban Jungle (Crammed Discs 2005 - CD)

I wish I could do both of these releases justice with a more in-depth review, but since time isn't on my side you'll have to do with whatever it is that follows this none-too-promising first sentence. I figured that reviewing these together I would be able to try and make some fancy comparisons and draw some semi-interesting parallels, you know, Golden Afrique focusing on the rise of popular Congolese music in Kinshasa and Brazzaville during the first two decades of independence, and Congotronics dealing with the retro-futuristic hybrid of Congolese folklore and the wild noise of recycled junkyard finds that's emerging in the Democratic Republic’s capital another two decades and a civil war later (“Mad Max in Africa – The Album”!), but alas, dear reader, alas! I feel the same about Golden Afriqe Vol. 2 as with the first volume (which focused on francophone West Africa): this is pretty great, but it could’ve been better, the main issues being the track order (which at times seems arbitrary) and the considerable overlap with other more or less easily available releases. That said, there’s still a lot to discover here for everyone, and this is a total labor of love put together by some extremely knowledgeable people. It’s a pity though that they have chosen not to include any of the bands of the so-called new wave(s) of Congolese music: the groups around producer Verckys as of the late sixties (the garage bands!), and youth bands like Papa Wemba’s Viva La Musica and Zaiko Langa Langa in the seventies (the punks!). On to the glorious racket of Congotronics, which of course is a total blast – how could it not be? The DVD is a pretty basic affair (five full street performances and a videoclip, all edited from souvenir shots not intended for DVD release) but that doesn’t make it any less great. Top notch entertainment! *tOm*

 

Hot in the heels of last years’ Konono N°1 CD comes this second volume of Congotronics, a series devoted to the wild hybrid sounds of heavily distorted traditional trance music from the suburbs of modern-day Kinshasa, Congo. The originally-unwanted distortion is the result of the DIY amplification of the instruments : the hand-made microphones were built from magnets salvaged from old car parts and plugged into amplifiers. The trademark electric likembes (amplified thumb pianos) are joined by makeshift percussion made out of car parts, sardine cans, drain pipes, and other garbage while megaphones are used to cope with the sheer volume of the handmade sound systems. Sounds interesting? Wait until you hear the music! It’s the ultimate clash between rural traditional music and ecstatic suburban sounds. The live recordings on this CD of several bands from various parts of the Congo are largely similar to Konono’s sound which means : “Ambiance”!!! Some bands use hypnotic balafons, while others add delicious accordion sounds to spice things up. All of them are exemplary and fascinating all the way! To make this CD even more essential, the nice folks at Crammed Discs included a 41-minute DVD, showing six of the bands during the recordings in Congo. If this music doesn’t groove you, you better stop buying records altogether and start collecting stamps! I, for myself, can hardly wait to see some of these bands live! Totally incredible stuff!!! *luKe*

 

STUDIO ONE ROOTS 2 (Soul Jazz Records 2005 - CD)

So far, I’ve given this only one thorough listen on my shitty Aldi discman – no, I don’t have an MP3 player (the technologically impaired shall inherit the earth), but I guess neither discmans (discmen?) nor MP3s players do these bass-heavy reggae grooves justice... - hey, what’s an MP3 player filled with nothing but roots reggae? An i&iPod! Okay... bring on the fucking tomatoes...). Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that one listen is enough to give this one a royal four stars, although it’s still a notch below the first Studio One Roots collection. Lyricwise, the cry for repatriation to the African homeland doesn’t sound as loud as on the first volume, which is good news for people who don’t dig the weird, otherworldly charm of that sectarian Afro-biblical babble as much as I do (I hope I don’t scare off too many people with my sectarian Belgo-biblical babble...). So what do we get? Tough rhythms, superb vocal harmonies, super catchy sing-along material, several moody (sax) instrumentals (Cedric ‘Im’ Brooks, Tommy McCook...), some oddities (Prince Francis’ “African Skank”, which is a Scotty/Dennis Alcapone style deejay toasting over a frantic mento/calypso rhythm – and an eerie tune by a group called The Saints!), and the obligatory Count Ossie burru drum tune. I still believe that this Studio One series needs more releases that focus on one particular artist, but as long as Soul Jazz puts out comps this strong, you won’t hear me complain too often. *tOm*

 

STUDIO ONE WOMEN (Soul Jazz Records 2005 - CD) + STUDIO ONE LOVERS (Soul Jazz Records 2005 - CD)

I guess it’s fair to lump these two together, although the Lovers comp of course also features some Alberts, Basils and Johns (Tomlinson, Daley and Holt respectively) in addition to the Myrnas and Doreens (Hague and Schaeffer), and if you like boy/girl duets, you get both Bob & Marcia and Freddy & Jenny. Don’t let the Lovers theme fool you, this is another rock solid collection of hits and oddities, with some super rare gems among them (“How Could I Live” by The Sharks!). “Studio One Women” makes a fine companion to the 2000 Heartbeat release “Feel Like Jumping: The Best of the Studio One Women” (or did you think Soul Jazz was first with its Studio One series?), and while the Heartbeat comp includes Dawn Penn's original “No no no”, Soul Jazz offers even better sound quality (as on all of their Studio One releases - you gotta give'em that). Two minor complaints: next time, try to throw in some more songs from the early Studio One era (man, “I’m In Love” almost sounds like Sade-gone-reggae, and I don’t mean the Marquis), and work on those liner notes: sure, I wanna know all about Coxsone’s mum and Alpha Boys’ School’s Sister Ignatius (I’m not making this up, folks), but I also wanna know what year this or that song was recorded in, and sadly, that kind of basic information is lacking. Maybe I’m being impossibly harsh, but then again Soul Jazz releases don’t come cheap. *tOm*

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