Rock Gods #190: Adventures in Our Little Music Scene

First The She Bows claim they were barred from playing Hamilton’s because they were too black. (The band has one black member, who does the Detroit covers in their sets, which are broken up into decades rather than any single genre. As you can imagine, they do a lot of costume changes.)
Hamilton’s acknowledged the heave-ho, but said it has nothing to do with musical miscegenation and everything to do with two of The She Bows spitting on an old man outside the club. This elderly gent, an accountant and money manager, is critical to Hamilton’s existence.
The band had no idea whom they’d insulted. They’ve lost a key money gig, and it serves them right. They tried to return to Hamilton’s under a different name, using a phony “manager.” Then they tried groveling. Now they’re circulating a petition. Just try not spitting, guys. We know phlegm-covered punk bands who could teach you a thing or two about offstage decorum. Not to mention fashion.

The Linear Blocks and The Parity Codes, complex pop, at the Bullfinch… Subdued show of BCH and Hamming at Hamilton’s… Reed & Solomon, unless it’s become Reed & Muller again in the last week, at D’ollaires. Polly and the Nomials may open…

Listening to…

Sleeping Bags, Pehr.
Sometimes a download of just a single song from a forthcoming album seems inadequate. When it’s a seven and a half minute burst of improv, proudly mastered after one take without any subsequent studio twiddling, you’ve got something hefty to promote the album with. It’s a beautiful burst of noise which could, if you wanted, be shorthanded as “2nd VU album,” but deserves its own 21st century considerations. It’s fluid, democratic, deconstructive and the soundtrack to my life right now as summer becomes fall and stuff gets more rigid.

Five-letter words

At the cineplex the other night, Mabel & Sally’s movie choice was between the one with the secret agent children who curse like this:
“Shi…take mushrooms!”
and the small blue Belgian creatures who curse like this:
“Don’t smurf with us!”
Since they’d just seen the expletive-repleted cinematic landmark The Blues Brothers on DVD a few days earlier, the girls and I were unfazed by all the blue language in The Smurfs:
“Smurf me!”
“No smurfing way.”
…but it did make more sensitive dialogue like “Smurf you later!” seem casually obscene.

Rock Gods #189: Adventures in Our Little Music Scene

Five friends from the music scene went out swimming at Point Beach last week.
Only four came back.
The other one was hired to play the Happy Hour at Clammy’s Shell Shack.
He’s Ben Arnold, and he’s back at the shack tonight and just about every weeknight until school starts. His predecessor in this hallowed gig blew town unexpectedly (Girlfriend? College? Skipping a loan? All have been deduced). Poor Clammy was tearing his hair out. Except there really isn’t a Clammy; he’s a corporate logo.
This is a seaside show worth wading for. Ben’s been bringing up guests like Stinglet. That faux-Brit leader of the Bobbie Truncheons, whose parents know him as Steve Ingels, turns out to be a divine duet partner. Our beloved Millie of the Model Marvels has guested as well. Ben’s being given free rein—“as long as I don’t scare the fish,” he says.

The Acharnians at The Bullfinch for two sets, one with the Ecbatana keyboard… Bridesman and Ampi at Hamilton’s… Dice-opolis and Megara at Hamilton’s. Hard hats required…

Five More Singles (or you could say ten)

Chris Arnott continues to spin his old 45s.

1. Shiv, Look Feel Down/VMJ, . Didn’t realize I owned as many Shiv singles as I do, or that this intense trio recorded that many. I don’t even recall VMJ and Shiv as being part of the same scene at the same time—VMJ was certainly older and wiser, but here they are sharing a red-vinyl 33 1/3 rpm single released on VMJ drummer John Nutcher own Caffeine Disk label in 1992. Both bands are thundering and uncompromising. According to historians, the autumn of ’91 was when “punk broke” with the release of Nirvana’s Nevermind, but the underground cognoscenti (and Nirvana itself) were several steps beyond that mainstream commercial release. It’s great to hear such a powerful, grinding, sputtering record (both sides!) from a time when so many studios were still dialing it down.
2. The Pist/Malachi Krunch split EP. Malachi Krunch does two songs, “Wound Up” and “Same Old Story (New Haven).” The first has an instrumental break reminiscent of the 40 lashes in Jesus Christ Superstar, while the other is an anthem decrying small-city apathy. I hadn’t realized until replaying it just now that the late great Wally Gates did the lead guitar on it. I checked the liner notes only because I don’t remember main Malachi Krunch guitarist Teo Baldwin changing up chords so often or so fast; that was Wally’s trademark. (Wallys ultimately joined the band for real, shortly before blowing town for Georgia.) The Pist was one of the most important punk bands in the state. Their three quick, articulate, variety-filled songs here show why.
3. Reverb, “The Man Who Came Back”/Tartan Keats, “Freshwater.” I have no idea how I came to have this, but I’m thrilled I do. It has a “US” side (Tartan Keats, one guy who sounds like several of the Velvet Underground at once) and a “UK side” (the pop-rocking Reverb). These opposing sides of the Atlantic ocean operate at startlingly different tempos and attitudes.
4. The New Rob Robbies, “Pig Day”/Vambo Marble Eye, “Jack Fallen”. Speedy punk-pop showcase on Chicago’s Off White label. The New Rob Robbies are relentlessly upbeat, with shoutalongs and yelps of “Yeah,” but also just plain relentless, with a neat reversal of the main riff as a coda. Vambo Marble Eye is more thrashy and straight-ahead, swirling like a studio cyclone.
5. The Monkees, Daydream Believer/ Goin’ Down. Since the other four singles on this day’s list are all two-band split deals, it’s tempting to think of this as one as well. The A-side is one of the higher peaks of commercial studio-concocted Monkeemania, with the cute one, Davy Jones, crooning a blissful love-despite-poverty lyric penned by John Stewart of the Kingston Trio. The songwriting credit on the B-side goes to all four Monkees plus Diane Hilderbrand (a bubblegum specialist who also wrote for Bobby Sherman and The Partridge Family. Since several Monkees have mentioned that Mose Allison was an inspiration for “Goin’ Down,” fan-scholars who clearly haven’t done the necessary earwork claim much closer similarities between the songs than actually exist. Several Monkees references use the same description: “’Goin’ Down,’ a variation of Mose Allison’s ‘Parchment Farm’”— not even getting the title right, and unconcerned that the riff both songs ride is derived from old talking blues and is not original to Allison. The pioneering heavy metal band Blue Cheer actually did a version of “Parchman Farm” retitled “Parchment Farm,” distinctly different from both Allison and Monkees, and not released until 1968; the version of “Parchman Farm” it resembles most is a bluesified one by John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers in 1966. The Monkees version shows that one can genuinely be “inspired” without using the word as a euphemism for theft. Allison’s “Parchman Farm” is a solo piano jazz melody with very few lyrics, about a penitentiary in Mississippi. The Monkees song (a B-side which didn’t appear on an album until Rhino’s Monkees reissue frenzy of the 1980s and ‘90s, though the song did grace no less than six episodes of The Monkees TV show) rides a horn-filled R&B riff, with Micky Dolenz deliriously speed-rapping a mordant tale about a man in the midst of drowning because he’s been stood up for a date.
Here’s the whole lyric, since I love this song—a true breakthrough for the Monkees as recording artists—so:

Floating in the river
With a saturated liver
And I wish I could forgive her,
But I do believe she meant it
When she told me to forget it,
But I bet she will regret it
When they find me in the morning,
Wet and drowned
And word gets round.
Goin’ down,. Goin’ down.
I’m coming up for air,
It’s pretty stuffy under there,
I’d like to say I didn’t care,
But I forgot to leave a note
And it’s hard to stay afloat
All soakin’ wet without a boat
And I knew I should have taken off my shoes
It’s front page news.
Goin’ down, goin’ down.
[sax break]
I wish I had another drink,
It wouldn’t so hard to sink,
I should have taken time to think,
Besides I got the picture straight,
She must have had another date.
I didn’t need this extra weight;
I wish that I could see the way to shore.
Don’t want no more.
Goin’ down.
I’m goin’ down.

Now I see the life I led,
I slept it all away in bed,
I should have learned to swim instead.
And now it’s really got me stumped,
I can’t remember why I jumped.
I’d like to get my tummy pumped,
And I can’t believe they drink this stuff in town.
This dirty brown.
Goin’ down [10x]

I wish I looked before I leaped,
I didn’t know it was so deep.
Been down so far I’m soakin’ wet,
And I haven’t touched the bottom yet.
This river scene is getting old,
I’m hungry, sleepy, wet and cold.
She told me to forget it nice,
I should have taken her advice.
I only want to go on home,
I’ll gladly leave that girl alone.
What a way to spend the night,
If I don’t drown, I’ll die of fright.
My Pappy taught me how to float,
But I can’t swim a single note.
He threw me in to teach me how,
I stayed there floating like a mama cow
And now I’ve floated way down stream,
I know this has got to be a dream.
If I could find my way to shore,
I’d never never do this any more.
They give you three, I been down nine,
And going down one more time.
Goin’ down, goin’ down.
Goin’ down, goin’ down.
Goin’ down, goin’ down.
Goin’ down, goin’ down.
I’m going home
Back to my friends

[More horns and ad-libs]

Now the sky is getting light,
And everything wil be all right,
I think I’ve finally got the knack,
Just floating lazy on my back.
I never really liked that town,
I think I’ll ride the river down,
Just moving slow and floating free,
With this river swinging under me.
Waving back to folks on shore,
I should have thought of this before.
I’ll float on down to New Orleans,
And pick up on some swinging scenes,
I’m gonna know a better day,
I’ll go down groovin’ all the way.
Goin’ down, goin’ down.
Goin’ down, goin’ down.
Goin’ on home

Rock Gods #188: Adventures in Our Little Music Scene

The area singer so fiercely associated with big-city cabaret that she’s known hereabouts as “Cabbie” has a simple rule for her live engagements these days: “I only work where there’s a curtain.”
The rule’s been in place for a year or so now, since Cabbie split the torch-song club scene for higher-profile proscenium/auditorium climes.
She broke the rule last Thursday at The Bullfinch in order to toast an old friend who’s getting married. Cabbie asked the band who happened to be onstage during this hen party—Rank Case of Reason, the onetime punks who’ve cleaned up their act in recent months—if they knew a certain tearswept ballad from a hit musical. They didn’t (or pretended not to), but they knew a saucier song from the same show. So that’s what got done, replete with struts and upthrust bums and all the thrills of, uh, cabaret.

Bergere Shepherdess at the Bullfinch with Pilgrim Revival… The Lincoln Rockers and Eastlake Style at Hamilton’s… Klismos and Wainscots, sedentary Euro dirges, at D’ollaire’s. Bet they’ll sell a lot of brandy…