Posts Tagged ‘The Cramps’

Slim Harpo / Lazy Lester / Leroy Washington / Lightnin’ Slim

Sunday, December 29th, 2013

EXCELLO ROCKERS / Various Artists:

Side 1:

Listen: Shake Your Hips / Slim Harpo
Sahke

Listen: I’m A Lover Not A Fighter / Lazy Lester
LarryLesterLoverNotFighter.mp3

Side 2:

Listen: Wild Cherry / Leroy Washington
Wild

Listen: Hello Mary Lee / Lightnin’ Slim
Hello

EP’s came along from the labels for many reasons. Besides being generally rare due to their overall lack of substantial sales, as only the very biggest shifted sizable quantities, many were issued as promotional only. As a rule, they went to radio and the press, but on some occasions, to retail for in-store play, the latter being prevalent in the US during the early 1970′s.

EXCELLO ROCKERS wasn’t really any of the above though. It was about this time that England’s Ace Records issued a series of Excello artist compilations as indicated on the EP’s back cover. So what better reason was needed to create a classy promo only treat for the most informed industry friends and clients of the label? None. Clearly much care was taken in it’s preparation, right down to the cobalt blue and tangerine tri-centered pressing.

Three of the four acts here were amongst Excello’s best known and seemingly biggest sellers, given the number of singles each released during the label’s most active ten years, from 1962.

Then there’s Leroy Washington. His backwoods moonshine style was a template for so much of the mid and late 60′s output by the white British blues bands that I’m surprised he’s never name checked. Or maybe they didn’t even know he was their guy. Sounds to me like he, let’s say, rubbed off on many of his contemporaries. Perhaps without knowing, it could have been Leroy Washington who influenced Freddie King who influenced Peter Green or Kim Simmonds who influenced….the dominoes tip from there.

‘Wild Cherry’ was Leroy Washington’s first on Excello in 1958 with only two more to follow for the label during ’59 and ’60. The track is really blues on it’s way to becoming rockabilly, and wouldn’t have been out of place on the The Cramps BLUES FIX EP.

The Ikettes

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013

FINE, FINE, FINE / The Ikettes:

Side 1:

Listen: (He’s Gonna Be) Fine, Fine, Fine / The Ikettes
IkettesFine.mp3

Listen: How Come / The Ikettes
How

Side 2:

Listen: Peaches ‘n’ Cream / The Ikettes
Peaches

Listen: The Biggest Players / The Ikettes
The

Lord knows how many hours I’ve spent wondering what Ike Turner’s recording sessions with The Ikettes must have been like. Who exactly were The Ikettes in fact? Now there’s a mystery probably never to be unraveled lurking behind that curtain. No doubt these details have had inquiring minds swirling for decades.

Of equal interest is Steve Venet’s involvement, credited as Ike’s co-producer on these original Modern Records masters. Not only did he produce The Reflections, The Essex and the infamous GREATEST HITS FROM OUTER SPACE album, but he actually was in the studio with The Ikettes and basically, the players from The Ike & Tina Turner Revue. Wow.

He’s also one in the same as songwriter to a couple of my lifetime favorites: ‘Action’ by Freddy Cannon and ‘Primitive’ originally released in 1966 by The Groupies then covered by The Cramps on PSYCHEDELIC JUNGLE. Have mercy.

Ike Turner

Tuesday, September 17th, 2013

Listen: She Made My Blood Run Cold / Ike Turner
She Made My Blood Run Cold / Ike Turner

Lux and Ivy profusely praised Ike Turner, despite the various mainstream accusations, as being one of the most important contributers to their raw and primal style. ‘She Made My Blood Run Cold’ is easily proof. No shortage of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins or ‘Fever’ similarities either.

Who came first and gets the trophy? We’ll never know.

Wayne Fontana & The Mindbenders

Monday, September 10th, 2012

Listen: Game Of Love / Wayne Fontana & The Mindbenders
Game

At this late night moment, other than Dave Dee, Dozy. Beaky, Mick & Tich’s ‘Hold Tight’, I can’t think of any other song with a more powerful intro. Well hold on, there’s Inez & Charlie Foxx ‘Count The Days’ and The Cramps ‘Human Fly’ and….

Regardless, no one can deny ‘Game Of Love’. Doesn’t matter what genre you prefer. This single is absolutely top. Admittedly overplayed for thirty odd years but now almost as scarce on the airwaves as the US picture sleeve above, ‘Game Of Love’ also challenges David Bowie’s ‘Heroes’ for most perfect use of a metallic tambourine as a no turning back now arrangement accelerator. When that moment occurs at 0:14, the song and the whole world just elevates up a notch. Fact.

My Bloody Valentine

Monday, May 14th, 2012

Listen: Soon / My Bloody Valentine
Soon

Alan McGee had invited me down to an early My Bloody Valentine show at London’s ULU during February ’89, just after he’d signed the band to Creation. Seemed like every time I’d get back from the UK, there’d be a good reason to return straight away. New groups literally materialized overnight. It was a dream come true for an A&R rep with a frequent flyer miles addiction.

I timed this visit to take in the latest media invented genre, shoegazing, with My Bloody Valentine being crowned the apparent rulers. I do wish I could recall who else was on the bill that night. I want to say Silverfish and Spiritualized. Regardless, the whole thing was dead boring. Not a flipping song in sight the entire evening. Then and there, I never saw the point of this appropriately described genre. Dreadful stuff.

But fast forward a full year and a half. ‘Soon’ is the band’s new single, one of those records you hadn’t heard of when you left New York, but was everywhere upon arrival in pre-internet July ’90. Gary Crowley played me it that first afternoon. It was even on the car radio when we left his apartment. Just about every office at Island seemed to be blasting it the next day, each attempting to out hip the other. ‘Soon’ was most definitely my soundtrack to that visit.

The following winter, the band played the new Ritz in New York. By then, the club had moved uptown to 54th Street. Although most of the magic the original place had was now gone, there were still plenty of great shows. Both Jane’s Addiction and The Red Hot Chili Peppers peaked their club band periods on that stage, Primal Scream did SCREAMADELICA, the return of the original Damned and Buzzcocks happened there, The Charlatans made their US premier, Ministry playing behind a chain linked fence, daring audience members dove into the mosh pit below from the second floor balcony during The Ramones’ two nights in February ’90 and a jungle red latex clad Lux Interior drank wine from a stray hightop sneaker shot onto the stage during The Cramps LOOK MOM NO HEAD show.

So the opportunity was set for My Bloody Valentine to prove their worth, become royalty, leave a most historical stamp on the moment, the way ‘Soon’ had and has. With intense crowd angst, the band came on to a visual storm of dry ice, saturated red and purple pulsing strobes and seriously tore into ‘Soon’. For a minute or so, the shrill and volume felt painfully positive, but the intensity of high end squeals and attempted white noise was unbearable. Ears were covered, the crowd physically gasping, it was relentless, horrible, unlistenable. Confused and tortured, many, and I do mean many, hit the exits. We tried, we wanted it to be as powerful as ‘Soon’ but we were defeated too, avoiding the surge for refunds at the box office window on the way out. This wasn’t art, it was insult.

Great single though.

Alabama Shakes / The Cramps

Monday, April 16th, 2012

Listen: Mama / Alabama Shakes
Mama

Never did I think a band would magically marry The Cramps to early Big Brother & The Holding Company. But lo and behold, Alabama Shakes have done just that with ‘Mama’. Now I love this band, and I’m rooting for them big time. I want them to win. Some of the same folks who championed these kids seem to already be dismissing their debut album for not being up to snuff. Trust me, that’s a crock of shit.

Angus Baskerville tipped me to Alabama Shakes last November, urging me to see them when they came through New York. Best advice I’ve had on a new band in years. I won’t miss them live ever.

‘Mama’ is the second of two songs hidden on the B side of their ‘Heavy Chevy’ 7″. I’ve played it about twenty times this past weekend. Wow, ‘Mama’ is beautiful but badly recorded, although not in my world mind you. To me it’s ugly and perfectly documented, just as I like it. Chances are the former may be how the pros in the know heard it, hence ending up as a throwaway B side.

Listen: I Can’t Hardly Stand It / The Cramps
I

‘I Can’t Hardly Stand It’, with one of Lux Interior’s most priceless vocals, was slotted as song two on side B of their ‘Drug Train’ single. It became one of the band’s classics.

Likewise, ‘Mama’, also song two on side B of a single, will be regarded similarly in the world of Alabama Shakes. Yet another detail in common with The Cramps. Looks like the stars are lining up for greatness to me.

May 21 and 22 at Roseland Ballroom can’t come quick enough.

Lux Interior / The Cramps

Saturday, February 4th, 2012

How Come You Do Me / The Cramps

Listen: How Come You Do Me / The Cramps
Listen: How Come You Do Me / The Cramps

Lux being Lux. (Photo: Dan Blackstone)

Above: Lux being Lux (The Academy, NYC, 11/25/94) (Photo: Dan Blackstone)

The Cramps, Toad's Place, New Haven, CN. 1998 (Photo: Duane Sherwood)

Above: The Cramps, Toad’s Place, New Haven, CN. 1998 (Photo: Duane Sherwood)

Below: A postcard from John Peel in response to receiving The Cramps FLAMEJOB package.

A postcard from John Peel in response to receiving The Cramps FLAMEJOB package.

It took a bit of coaxing to get me to my first Cramps show. They played a club in my college town of Rochester, N.Y., and I wasn’t particularly into their first album, which they were touring at the time. The argument putting me over the edge was based on logic. There wasn’t really anything else to do that night, a typical problem. Coincidentally, we had mutual friends in Eric and Mel Mache from New York City. Eric recommended we go along, see them and say hello. So why not? Thank you Eric. It changed my life. I’ve never been the same.

Why did any band other than The Ramones even bother to get out of bed in the morning to compete? The truly informed didn’t. The Cramps created a sound and a theater that scared off all the competition. It would indeed be silly to imply any part was bigger than the sum, but these parts were bigger than anyone else’s and hence the sum was historical, seminal, other worldly, untouchable. Like Ivy, Lux was a one off. Many have and are professing him to be the greatest front man ever. I agree. His perfect combination of spontaneity, teetering on the edge but never losing control has gone unmatched.

Did you ever see Lux do or say the same thing twice? No.

Did you struggle to watch his every move yet still need to watch Ivy, Kid, Bryan, Candy or Slim? Yes.

Did you relive every show in your mind for days and even years after? Yes. And we all still will.

If you never saw The Cramps, you will forever live in B.C. I am deeply sorry for you.

I was lucky enough to begin a long personal journey with them after that first show. It floored us all, and we were only too happy to say hello and invite them back to our apartments (another friend lived on the same floor) for some food and record playing.

The first of endless and unique Cramps experiences happened that very night. There was a strange noise in our bedroom where Corinne was trying to sleep, having an early wake up call the next day. She came out to the living room where the band and a few friends were gathered, saying something was making a flapping noise, it was giving her the creeps and could we investigate.

Lux and I went in to check it out. It was a bat. How did a bat get into the bedroom? To this day, we have no idea. At the time, The Cramps image was very graveyard/skull & crossbones/old Hollywood’s dark side. The bat seemed strangely relevant as that aura was rumored to follow them around.

Lux segued into an involuntary mode, capturing it in a glass casserole dish. We all had a look, then he set it free out the kitchen window. This actually tells you everything about him. He was instinctive, logical, fearless, strategic, courteous, kind and gentle all at once, truly a person beyond the beyond. We had ordered two pizzas, they never came, it was a quiet city in the late 70′s. Nothing was open, so The Cramps retreated to their hotel hungry, but content and pleasant.

They came back through town again a year or so later, summer ’81, this time to promote PSYCHEDELIC JUNGLE. Kid Congo was now in the band, it was one of their classic lineups. Duane Sherwood, a friend like myself from their first time through, and I met up with them prior to the show. We were beyond ecstatic at the mere thought of seeing The Cramps that night, not to mention spending some time together. We went to the venue in the late afternoon. It was a gorgeous June day. The equipment was there but the band had wandered off looking for food, so we waited. Soon, edging their way over the hill leading down to the club were, initially, three spiked/halos of hair, two black and one orange, immediately materializing into the full bodies of Lux, Kid and Ivy. Nick followed, sans the big hair. Even when not trying to make an entrance, The Cramps always would.

They seemed pleased to see us, and did some catching up, even though we didn’t really know them that well. Welcomed into the dressing room as they got ready, Lux and Kid were using industrial strength spray from a case they’d brought along to put their hair in order for the show.

This time, the set was even more jaw dropping than the year before. Nothing was compromised, didn’t matter that they were in a small town, the power was unstoppable. Lux was now on stage and his uncontainable gift was unleashed. The ceiling tiles were dismantled, he sliced himself with glass, removed pretty much every stitch of clothing, this was just how it was, nothing fake, pure raw uncensored Lux.

The Cramps were still at their beginning stages then, not playing big venues, often not working with responsible and respectful professional promoters every night. This show was no exception. A local amateur had brought them in this time, offering transportation from New York, then on to Cleveland to begin the originally scheduled tour itinerary. This was a last minute fill in date. Despite selling out the club, and honoring exactly what they been contracted to do, he chose not to be upstanding and return his professional responsibility, therefore unreachable the next day.

The Cramps were stranded with no credit cards or vehicle to get them on to Cleveland. My phone rang around 11 AM. It was Ivy. She said “Kevin, we’re in trouble. Will you help us?” After a quick update from her, I put the phone down, rang Duane and we high tailed it over to their hotel, each in our separate cars to pick them up and figure out the next move. We all came back to my house. I had an American Express card and literally $110 in the bank. I offered them the use of my credit card to rent a vehicle, the look of relief on Ivy’s face will never ever be forgotten. She promised they would pay for the car in cash once they got to Cleveland and hooked up with their crew. I trusted them. And they didn’t go back on their word, I never for a second thought they would. Our friendship was sealed. Little did that promoter know, he did the band and I the biggest favor ever via his unprofessionalism. He did not have the last laugh.

The whole day was not terrible though. Duane took Lux, Ivy and Nick junk shopping. Kid and I stayed back taping the new Siouxsie & The Banshees album. Kid was thrilled that I owned it, as it had just been released. When they returned, Lux spent some time going through my records, trading obscure anecdotes about many of the singles, seeing the sparkle in each other’s eyes as we drooled over the vinyl. His knowledge was frighteningly deep. He was not a fake. The band treated us to a late lunch before heading out of town. We saw them off, and still relive it to this day.

I would travel to New York and Toronto religiously to catch shows over the next few years. Never did this most important band, the true kings and queens of rock and roll, make me or any of their fans feel uncomfortable, or like second class citizens. By ’84 I had relocated to New York, working A&R at Elektra, then Island. I always wanted to sign them, but could never get the green light.

Then in ’92 I started my own imprint, The Medicine Label, through Warner Brothers. Timing is everything and things happen for a reason, it’s true. This was no exception. Had I been able to do a deal with them prior to Medicine, I would have always been struggling to get them the deserved attention within the label. Now I was in charge of the budgets, and could call some shots. The timing was right. Lux and Ivy agreed and we got into business together. It was one of the greatest periods of my professional and personal life. I knew they were all things good and honorable, but to experience their integrity, self respect, flawless instincts, dedication to their art, confidence in their self image, protection of their musical accomplishments, all done with great dignity, taught me much about business and life. Lux and Ivy included myself and Duane, who came to New York to work with me at Medicine, on the making of the eventual FLAMEJOB album. They had never shared this process with anyone before. I am forever honored.

Lux would spill brilliance at every turn, the littlest things had his mark all over them. He once sent along some works in progress on cassette, labeling it ‘The Cramps On Drugs’, crossing out ‘Drugs’ and writing in ‘Medicine’ above it. One of hundreds and hundreds of brilliant ideas constantly flowing from him. Lyrically, his mind was of a higher form of life.

From DRUG TRAIN: “You put one foot up, you put another foot up, you put another foot up, and you’re on board the drug train.”

From INSIDE OUT AND UPSIDE DOWN WITH YOU: “From your bottom to your top, you’re sure some lollipop.”

When the album was finally finished, Lux and Ivy had me over to their house in Los Angeles to hear it. The three of us sat in their meticulously clean and fantastically furnished home, and listened to FLAMEJOB together. They glowed with pride and they deserved to, having made their best album yet, full of all the fire it’s title accurately describes.

The Cramps were never afforded national TV or any radio play of substance. We released ‘Ultra Twist’ as a first single, and when it entered the alternative charts, the band would actually hear themselves on the radio in some cities. Either Lux or Ivy would be sure we knew. And when our publicist Lisa Barbaris, got them on Conan O’Brien, Lux was over the moon. His band was finally going to be on television, a medium he’d been so influenced by as a teenager. Warmed our hearts to deliver this for them, and they always were thankful. He asked if he should tone it down for the broadcast, “God no, go over the top”. Which he did. But to ask first, again proved his respect for others and his responsibility to those he worked with.

It’s impossible to forget the many, many pulverizing moments of Lux on stage, and also realistically impossible to chronicle them all, but here are three:

1 – Playing The Ritz in New York during the LOOK MOM NO HEAD tour, Lux was hit dead center by a hurled high top sneaker. Seamlessly strutting over to it in very high black heels and what was left of a tattered and stage weary matching pair of synthetic pants, he picked it up, filled it with red wine, drank every drop and returned it deep into the shocked audience without flinching or missing a beat.

2 – At Trenton’s City Gardens, where the stage was accessed via a walk from the dressing room through the crowd, usually along the right wall, Lux began the show in a two piece jungle red, thin rubber ensemble, with matching spikes and a string of pearls. As the mayhem progresses, he eventually breaks a bottle of wine, using the glass to slice up his outfit. First of all, the tight rubber pants, although red, had a skin-like implication, so that as he sliced, the unsettling illusion of tearing his own flesh aghast the crowd. As the pants retreated from the damage, Lux was suddenly wearing a few fringes of rubber, much like popped balloons, shamelessly revealing all. Once the sonic annihilation of encore, ‘Surfin’ Bird’, was complete, the band needed to get back to the dressing room. A bit tricky when you’ve now decimated your clothing. Not a problem for The Cramps though. A spotlight suddenly flashes onto that side wall. Lux leads the band through the now parting sea of a crowd, wearing what’s left: the heels and the pearls, and flawlessly returns to the dressing room, Ivy, Slim and Harry, equally beautiful, following behind.

3 – A real feat was accomplished by Lux over a two night engagement in ’97 at London’s Astoria. The second night being the greatest theater I have ever seen by a band in my entire life. And the first night started the process. Lux then slyly began a slow but steady loosening of the stage floor boards near the drum kit via his legendary mic stand iron works. That second night, he continued the process. Even the sight of a shirtless and joyous John Peel being body surfed atop the mosh pit could not top Lux. By the time of the final encore, ‘Surfin Bird’, Lux had chewed up one of Ivy’s boots, teething it puppy style. He picked Ivy’s strings with his teeth, as she lay on her back, arching herself in a yoga stance with Lux between her legs separated only by the guitar, simulating the most erotic oral sex imaginable, all set to a soundtrack of screeching feedback. He had now abandoned all but his g string and heels along the way. Once that sonic crescendo of white noise feedback had been reached, whereby Ivy, Slim and Harry have left the stage, Lux scales the top of the right PA, partial mic stand and 2 bottles of half drank wine in tow. He proceeds to guzzle one, then the other, pitching both onto the stage’s center, where he began the evening. Of course they smash into shards. He then dives from the PA onto the broken glass, microphone in mouth, howling as you would know him to have coined, lands front torso onto the glass, slithers himself snake-like towards the loosened floor, and with mic stand now doubling as a crow bar, proceeds to undo enough of the remaining bits to make his exit into the darkness of his self made floor cave. No one was ready for this. The roar of those 3000 people still makes me tingle. It has to be the ultimate rock and roll moment of civilization, past, present and future. Backstage after the show, Lux is sitting quietly picking bits of glass from himself, and asks humbly, “How was it tonight?”

Lux knew he was an untouchable performer, but he never used his knowledge of this talent arrogantly. He was just the most amazing spirit and always will be.

The Handclappers / D. D. T. & The Repellents

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

Listen: Three Gassed Rats / The Handclappers
Three

I’m just loving estate sales these past few weeks. Schlepped my tired bones to another one in 5 Towns Saturday morning. I really thought twice about it. Listing his phone number in the post, I called the guy the night before. This fellow was kind of short, probably having gotten so many calls already. I wanted to know, did he have any records, given none where listed in the ad. Seeing as the number was listed, why not ring?

He proceeded to say there were a few, but that his Dad worked for WABC in the 60′s, so most of the good stuff was long gone, plus he ‘knew his stuff’. Oh boy, a little knowledge can be more dangerous than a lot, but I got up, showered, and braved a NYC snow storm. That, by the way, means an inch or so, but the city cripples and these moments make for perfect opportunities to buy records at just this kind of event.

Waiting in line at 7am with a bunch of desperate, unwashed dealers, hoping to make their rent for yet another week is pretty fucking ugly and depressing. Why am I here?

Well guess what, these records are two of about fifty examples of why. Yes, his Dad worked sales for WABC in the early 60′s, and was more fun to talk to than the records he sold me, well almost.

I shudder to imagine the stuff that he unloaded prior, but the remnants were just fantastic. All $1 or less, and in unplayed, untouched, almost unbelievable condition.

‘Three Gassed Rats’ is from ’61, on the London Records distributed Collier, most likely the imprint’s sole release, a surf wannabe. Gassing any animal is not my idea of an ethical procedure, but clearly from title alone, worth a 50¢ gamble. Plus, I love anything to do with London Records. Thinking back, that parent company picked up many a local release, giving each it’s own label identity. Smart move on London’s part. The examples are becoming endless.

What do I know about The Hanclappers’ origins? Nothing. What I do know is this one is a rad Link Wray attempt, and hopefully they were from Kansas or somewhere equally unlikely.

Listen: The Fly Swatter / D. D. T. & The Repellents
The

Oh yes, D. D. T. & The Repellents. no doubt, another regional release scooped up by a major. This literally crosses The Ran-dells ‘Martian Hop’ with The Chipmunks, throwing in a little, very little, Dick Dale. This one pre-dates The Cramps’ ‘Human Fly’ by about fifteen years. I guess you could call it Surf. Don’t know, nor do I know squat about the band.

Generally, I despise when anyone writes on the record label, or even the company sleeve. In this case though, I appreciate the identification. Top of the pile, this former WABC employee’s decided to announce that particular stack, about thirty in total, by price and decade.

I bought them all. And finally, I can say that indeed, DDT did a job on me too.

Primal Scream

Monday, November 14th, 2011

Listen: Swastika Eyes / Primal Scream
Swastika

Yesterday’s Super Furry Animals post had me recollecting those last few years of Creation Records’ partnership with Sony. During summer ’99, Alan McGee was shopping for one of the US outlets to release the upcoming XTRMNTR album by Primal Scream. So he brought Bobby Gillespie into the New York office to play me a few tracks. As often as Primal Scream had changed direction, so too did I change my interest in them. Given their most recent sound at that point was directly influenced by Rolling Stones style blues rock and despite the resulting single ‘Rocks’ achieving by far Primal Scream’s biggest US radio breakthrough yet, this Southern boogie woogie couldn’t have been further from my musical palate in ’99. So I was rather uncomfortable about wasting Bobby’s time. Alan insisted otherwise, that instead I would love where XTRMNTR was heading, being well aware of my insatiable taste for dance, techno and the like.

Was he ever right. This album wiped the floor with all their previous material including SCREAMADELICA. Most critics still attach to that one, and in the bigger picture, I suppose I agree. But for Primal Scream specifically, nothing touches XTRMNTR. Alan suggested I visit Bobby and Andrew Innes at their Primrose Hill studio to hear the finished version. The place was jammed tight, and jamming out. Besides listening to the album, we found plenty to agree on in general: The Cramps, Suicide, and a bottomless pit of records. Easy conversation when it came to musical history, plus any reason to go to London.

‘Swastika Eyes’, the single and album version produced by the band and Jagz Kooner, actually takes my preference over The Chemical Brothers’ mix, also included on XTRMNTR. In fact, my belief was this track could perform as well as ‘Block Rockin’ Beats’ or ‘Setting Sun’ had for The Chemical Brothers at radio in the States, with Primal Scream coming off the back of their biggest US airplay record as well. Suspiciously, senior management at Columbia agreed after a quick conversation of presenting said theory. The green light was on.

Suddenly, out of nowhere, ‘Swastika Eyes’, by then at #22 in the UK Pop chart, was too controversial, too insulting, to issue here. Huh, this from the company that changed music with Bob Dylan? This from the company that was having platinum success with Nas? Honestly guys, was spineless suddenly part of the label’s character description? Now in hindsight, having dropped 50 Cent around then too, it clearly was play it safe.

Turns out the whole idea was moving forward based on the Southern boogie style of ‘Rocks’, and when so and so finally got round to listening to the music, it was easier to stubbornly remain rooted in the musical past than embrace tomorrow. Indeed, a policy good for Our Lady Peace, but not Primal Scream.

Keith Wood over at Astralwerks, who released the album in America, didn’t have any such corporate trappings.

Gus Jenkins

Monday, October 3rd, 2011

Listen: Chittlins / Gus Jenkins
Chittlins

Damn, I wish I knew more about Gus Jenkins. I know he recorded as early as ’56, under the name Gus Jinkins, and he’s up there as one of the most mysterious raw blues obscurities around.

Someone at Capitol decided to release ‘Chittlins’ via their newly formed subsidiary, Tower, in late ’64.

The Tower label went on until ’68, amassing a small, but fairly collectable bunch of releases, the most famous of course being all the very early US singles by The Pink Floyd. But there were more, Joe Meek masters by Heinz and Tom Jones, Ian Whitcomb & Bluesville, The Chocolate Watch Band, The Standells…pull up a Tower discography sometime. Nice stuff.

Even on first listen, you’ll agree, a wonderfully noticeable amount of Gus Jenkins’ swagger may have influenced The Cramps just a bit, and even more, The Rolling Stones, sounding not unlike any number of tracks from their first few albums.

According to BILLBOARD’s November 14, 1964 RnB DJ Roundup below, along with Jimmy Reed’s ‘I’m Going Upside Your Head’, Ed Wright at WABO Cleveland was spinning it, Ed Hardy over at KDIA in San Francisco chose ‘Chittlins’ as well as Little Jerry Williams’ ‘I’m The Lover Man’, a filthy sleaze fest of a single, a no fucking around must for every collection. And let’s not forget WYLD’s Ed ‘Screaming’ Teamer in New Orleans, who was not only jamming Gus Jenkins and Little Jerry Williams, but was playing the mad great ‘My Country Sugar Mama’ by Howlin’ Wolf.

X

Saturday, October 1st, 2011

Listen: The New World / X
The

I saw one of the greatest bands in the solar system tonight at Irving Plaza in New York, and one their greatest shows ever.

X

Seen them many times, worked with them at Elektra, was a fan prior. But let me tell you, there is no other punk band in the universe from the era that a) still exists in the original lineup and b) can even begin to compete. They have scared off all the competition. Deservedly so.

X are presently touring, performing the LOS ANGELES album in it’s entirety, plus a ton of greatest hits. Yes, be relieved, they have survived the hump from has beens to legends. And thank God they did. We lost The Cramps, The Ramones and The Gun Club. The White Stripes and L7 threw in the towel. Only Suicide can stand proudly next to them.

If X come to your neck, don’t fuck up your remaining years on earth and miss this one.

Thankfully, tonight they played ‘The New World’. Funny listening to the recorded version now. It’s so much faster and, dare I say, pop or slick. Still, in it’s day, who was speaking out about injustice and corrupt politics. Maybe there were others. I only remember X.

Elektra UK had half a brain then. Unlike the US side, they released ‘The New World’ as a commercial 7″ (in the US it was serviced as a promo only 12″). Half a brain? Yeah, in the era of picture sleeves, how could the company not house this in one? The UK never took to X. Their loss.

A very rare 7″, but as it probably plays out, not as rare as finding a person that wants one.

Yes, we vinyl collectors are dying off. Someday this 7″ will be in the Smithsonian. Neither of us will be around, but my bet is, it’s a Mona Lisa.

Richard Hell & The Voidoids

Sunday, January 30th, 2011

Listen: (I Belong To The) Blank Generation / Richard Hell & The Voidoids
(I Belong To The) Blank Generation / Richard Hell & The Voidoids

The other day at a friend’s office, I noticed a recently compiled anthology, punk or CBGS’s themed, or both. Can’t remember, but the packaging caught my eye. Very striking black and white design with bold, jungle red font. The real surprise was the inclusion of those most commonly eliminated bands: The Cramps, X, The Gun Club and Richard Hell & The Voidoids. I’m forever baffled that anyone with two brain cells to rub together could omit those four bands from punk anthologies, yet they do. I almost wanted a copy of this one, but having rid my life of new cd’s, I set it down and kept moving. Did make me think, will these final years of compact disc releases become collectable, as fewer and fewer get manufactured.

Richard Hell & The Voidoids ‘Another World’ was one of the first Stiff singles, the seventh (Buy 7) to be exact. That initial Stiff handful, probably issues 1-10, got worshipped by everyone. It was like a complete set, everybody needed to own the lot. With two songs on the B side, Richard Hell & The Voidoids’ seemed real value for the money. The original Craig Leon produced ‘(I Belong To The) Blank Generation’ doesn’t top the later Richard Gottehrer album and US single version, mostly due to Robert Quine’s more timid solos. I wouldn’t want a record collection without this recording though.

Listen: You Gotta Lose / Richard Hell & The Voidoids
You Gotta Lose / Richard Hell & The Voidoids

‘You Gotta Lose’, a track never to make the album, nor it’s subsequent cd reissues, might just be one of their best. From a time when guitars were the required lead instrument, Craig Leon and band certainly knew how to get those tones down right and documented well. As on the later re-recorded version of ‘(I Belong To The) Blank Generation’, the jagged Robert Quine style might have single handedly invented industrial. It wouldn’t surprise me to find Gang Of Four were fans.

Listen: Love Comes In Spurts / Richard Hell & The Voidoids
Love Comes In Spurts / Richard Hell & The Voidoids

The best punk pout I can think of and if ever there was a better play on words, let me know.

James Burton & Ralph Mooney

Monday, January 3rd, 2011

Listen: Corn Pickin’ / James Burton & Ralph Mooney
Corn Pickin / James Burton & Ralph Mooney

I wonder if ‘Corn Pickin” ever got played on Country radio back when released in ’68. According to THE AIRHEADS RADIO SURVEY ARCHIVE, it got no Pop play whatsoever. By far not a complete overview of airplay, it’s a pretty good source, and really fun to troll about on if you have a few hours to kill. But be forewarned, you will need a few hours.

Recorded, most likely cheap and on the fast, his collaborative album with pedal steel player Ralph Mooney yielded this one single, which was dreadfully out of tune with the times. Being, I’m guessing, an LA music scene player/celebrity, and fresh from resident guitarist on SHINDIG (and member of house band The Shindogs), turns out ‘Corn Pickin” foresaw the whole country/rockabilly west coast fad by about fifteen years, when The Long Ryders and others would find it musically fashionable.

Much appreciated by guitar players universally, putting in his time with Ricky Nelson during the late 50′s, when you really had to be able to play if you wanted to make records, meant his tones and clarity were unmistakable.

Did you know James Burton’s an inductee of the Rockabilly Hall Of Fame? Did you even know there was a Rockabilly Hall Of Fame? I didn’t until tonight.

It’s a fun website. But until The Cramps are in (The Stray Cats and not The Cramps – huh?), it’s a little hard to take it seriously.

Ricky Nelson

Sunday, November 28th, 2010

Listen: Lonesome Town / Ricky Nelson RickyNelsonLonesomeTown.mp3

Somewhere during their DATE WITH ELVIS / STAY SICK period, The Cramps were doing ‘Lonesome Town’ live. It was around then that I’d joined Island Records and rang Lux and Ivy to update them with my new contact info.

Ivy and I got into a long conversation about all kinds of trivia, which was not uncommon. She and Lux were always the most interesting and intriguing people. We would sometimes stay on the phone for hours.

As we were winding it down, I asked would she like any records from the label.

“What do you have?”

“There’s Robert Palmer, U2, Anthrax, Grace Jones, Julian Cope……”

“Hmmm. I’ve never heard of any of those people. Do you have any Ricky Nelson records?”

The Future Sound Of London

Saturday, October 16th, 2010

Listen: We Have Explosive (7″ Edit) / The Future Sound Of London FSOLExplosive.mp3

May ’97 in London had a few really rainy, cold days. You’d have sworn it was February. Perfect, just as England should be.

I know, I was there. I think it was a trip to hear the new Primal Scream album, maybe meet with them about releasing it through Columbia via Creation Records’ deal with us. And just by coincidence, The Cramps were playing two nights at The Astoria….just by coincidence. Working at major labels, where the entire senior staff were asleep at the wheel musically, did have it’s benefits.

‘We Have Explosive’ had peaked at #12 a few weeks earlier, and was still all over Radio 1. Can vividly remember shivering in Gary Crowley’s car, as he unsuccesfully atempted to coax heat out of the dashboad, on our way to Jakes from the Sony Building, via Marble Arch on a nasty day in nasty traffic, and this one lifting the mood 1000%.

Not only one of the best artist names ever, turns out FSOL were also tops at documenting a precise musical snapshot of that very moment in time.

Jerry Lee Lewis

Tuesday, July 6th, 2010

jerryleelewissmashep, Jerry Lee Lewis, Bob Dylan, Sirius

Listen: High School Confidential / Jerry Lee Lewis JerryLeeLewisHigh.mp3

“Sounding as good as the day it was recorded”. Bob Dylan thinks so. Me too.

Have you ever listened to Bob Dylan’s THEME TIME RADIO program on Sirius? It is the best radio I have ever heard. Honestly, right up there with a lot of the BBC’s output through the years. Mind you, he has an army of researchers helping out, and credit is due there as well. For true, THEME TIME RADIO is simply worth the price of a Sirius subscription.

So yeah, he played this one the other day – well I heard it the other day – it could’ve been a repeat. I always hoped The Cramps would cover ‘High School Confidential’. They would have shredded it.

This is from a precious, four song, promo only 7′, sent round to radio and press when Smash signed him, and licensed some of his original Sun sides for a GOLDEN HITS package. It’s a beauty, right?

But can you imagine seeing Jerry Lee Lewis in his prime? I saw him play New York about fifteen years ago, he’d signed to Sire at the time. I always say either you’re the real deal or you’re not, therefore age doesn’t really matter. Think, Little Richard vs Candlebox. And Jerry Lee Lewis is clearly the real deal. Obviously the stage show was not as physically chaotic as in the aforementioned heyday, but still he radiated a kind of ‘higher form of life’ glare.

Next day he turned up in the office to see Seymour Stein, who was just down the hall. The glare is even more intense up close, strange odor (not bad, but strange) and his skin was a grey-ish, lavender color. It was all just fantastic.

Kid Congo Powers

Tuesday, May 11th, 2010

CrampsGoo, The Cramps, Kid Congo Powers, Lux Interior, Ivy Rorschach

CrampsGooB, The Cramps, Kid Congo Powers, Lux Interior, Ivy Rorschach

Listen: She Said / The Cramps CrampsSheSaid.mp3

There are not near enough Cramps singles with Kid Congo Powers. There are many members who traveled through the band’s revolving door of a rhythm section (which in the early lineups redefined the term ‘rhythm section’ to mean drums and 2nd guitar/avant noise inventor), but very few were real Cramps. Others might contest my statement, including Ivy herself – and if anyone would know, it would be her. But this is my opinion – and other than Congo, Bryan Gregory, Nick Knox, Slim Chance and Harry Drumdini, there were no other REAL Cramps beyond Lux & Ivy. Well maybe Candy Del Mar, maybe.

The shows I saw with Kid were all priceless, for everything else there’s Mastercard or some such smart ass slogan. Hair, clothes, swirling on stage tornado – he will never be topped.

And talk about a lovely person, with a gentle smile and the sweetest sense of humor. Kid Congo is just a higher form of life.

‘She Said’, Kid’s first 7″ with the band, is so Cramps – it almost out Cramps The Cramps. Like the rest of the band, Kid stripped his contribution to the song of every excess not needed and documented the raw, naked power of primal purity.

CrampsCrusher, The Cramps, Kid Congo Powers, Lux Interior, Ivy Rorschach

Listen: The Crusher / The Cramps CrampsCrusher.mp3

PSYCHEDELIC JUNGLE was my favorite of the early few albums, a hard and unsteady position to take when you’re tampering with a few of the wonders of the world. But, yeah, if forced to choose in front of a firing squad, I’d go with PSYCHEDELIC JUNGLE.

‘The Crusher’ was one of the two singles from it, and like ‘Caveman’, will time travel you back to their live shows from ’80/’81- or sadly inform you of what you missed.

CrampsKick, The Cramps, Kid Congo Powers, Lux Interior, Ivy Rorschach

Listen: New Kind Of Kick / The Cramps CrampsKick.mp3

Have a look back at my L7 post from May 4th, 2010. It ends with the following few lines:

“………a song as good as ‘Drama’, which also has one of the two best guitar solos ever committed to tape. EVER. And the other one is..coming soon.”

Well come it has – the world’s other greatest guitar solo ever committed to tape. Yes, it’s the great Kid Congo Powers break on ‘New Kind Of Kick’, B side to ‘The Crusher’, above. B side!!!!!

If I am unfortunate enough to be inflicted with Alzheimer’s Disease, I hope it doesn’t erase my memory of Kid letting it roll out of him as though he were having a simple drink of water, seemingly something anyone could do. When the band launched into ‘New Kind Of Kick’ live for the first time, I stood in anticipation and wonder: how is he gonna pull this one off. Wow. He showed me.

This particular occasion was at the old Peppermint Lounge on 44th Street, the last week of that club’s lifespan at said location. And thank the heavens above – I have a tape of it. So powerful was that show – I’ve never even needed one listen to relive it’s force.

GunClubBeastPS, The Gun Club, Sympathy For The Record Industry, Jeffrey Pierce

Listen: Walking With The Beast (Single Version) / The Gun Club GunClubBeast.mp3

When Kid decided to go back to Jeffrey and The Gun Club, I was not happy. And I doubt I was alone. There was no place for Kid in The Ramones or Suicide, so the only other seminal, world great band, The Gun Club, was the logical move. Their album, THE LAS VEGAS STORY, is flawless, scary almost in it’s greatness. ‘Bad America’, ‘Stranger In Our Town’, ‘Give Up The Sun’, ‘Eternity Is Here’ – forget it. And the US tour in support was debilitating to those not ready, even those of us that were. Kid played flawlessly, all the while swigging from a bottle of…..Pepto Bismol.

It doesn’t get any more Kid Congo than that.

I’ll never forget my lucky date seeing that show: 8/8/84. Another one I have a tape of, now a file, and in between, a cd. When I need to be swept into oblivion, I put it on.

Here’s the 7″ version of ‘Walking With The Beast’ and a very different version from that on the album. You need both.

Duane Eddy

Monday, November 30th, 2009

DuaneEddyRebelUKA, Duane Eddy, Lee Hazelwood, Jamie, American London, Reprise, RCA

Listen: Rebel-Rouser / Duane Eddy & His Twangy Guitar DuaneEddyRebel.mp3

Did you know that Duane Eddy combined single-note melodies by bending the low strings and adding echo, a vibrato bar (Bigsby), and tremolo – thereby producing a signature sound unlike anything that had been heard prior – the sound that would be featured on an unprecedented string of thirty four chart singles, fifteen of which made the Top 40 and sales of over 100 million worldwide? Me neither. I read it on Wikipedia.

He was not alone in the creation. Then disc jockey Lee Hazelwood became his partner in 1954, taking on role of producer and co-writer. ‘Rebel-Rouser’ is one of those songs that probably every last human being has heard, but didn’t know it. Well I hope so at least. Peaking at #6, it was also his biggest chart success.

DuaneEddyStalkin, Duane Eddy, Lee Hazelwood, Jamie, American London, Reprise, RCA

Listen: Stalkin’ / Duane Eddy & His Twangy Guitar DuaneEddyStalkin.mp3

It’s B side, ‘Stalkin” is a whole other story. Now this is more the dark side sound that helped invent one of the most potent threads in music, a line followed by The Gun Club, Tav Falco’s Panther Burns, The White Stripes and most importantly, The Cramps. And of those bands alone, there were endless unsuccessful imitators.

It just oozes of girls in tight sparkly capri pants and spiked heels, slowly grooving their hips to the the record as it spun in the jukebox at a local malt shop.

DuaneEddySurfinPS, Duane Eddy, Lee Hazelwood, Jamie, American London, Reprise, RCA

Listen: Your Baby’s Gone Surfiin’ / Duane Eddy DuaneEddySurfin.mp3

Everyone jumped on the surf craze in the early 60′s. For Duane Eddy, it actually was a perfect fit. He kind of invented the sound, a seamless musical transition from rockabilly to the white kid, carefree, silver spoon lifestyles of surfers. Despite ‘Your Baby’s Gone Surfin” hardly denting the Billboard Hot 100 (#93), I remember it vividly. Even bought the single, or had someone buy it for me more likely. Little did I know, his band, The Rebels, had become Phil Spector’s regular studio outfit. Makes perfect sense then that The Blossoms, also vocal backup regulars on Spector sessions, provided all the singing here. Yes, that’s Darlene Love you’re hearing, just as you might be suspecting.

DuaneEddyShuckin, Duane Eddy, Lee Hazelwood, Jamie, American London, Reprise, RCA

Listen: Shuckin’ / Duane Eddy DuaneEddyShuckin.mp3

B side ‘Shuckin”, you gotta love the song titles, sounds like a routine jam with the sole purpose of churning out a flip to ‘Your Baby’s Gone Surfin”. Even so, the natural groove makes it a keeper. How many of these would they knock out in a day? I’m scared to reckon. Somewhere there are tape vaults….

DuaneEddyGuitarWasMadeUSB, Duane Eddy, Lee Hazelwood, Reprise

Listen: This Guitar Was Made For Twangin’ / Duane Eddy DuaneEddyRepriseUSB.mp3

Once the Nancy Sinatra success train was powering full steam ahead, on her Dad’s Reprise label, with Lee Hazelwood ably handling all production and songwriting, my guess is he suggested Duane Eddy be added to the roster. A seemingly under thought covers album of then current day hits, THE BIGGEST TWANG OF THEM ALL, allowed for one original ‘This Guitar Was Made For Twangin”. Despite a basic instrumental re-write of ‘These Boots Are Made For Walking’, he retains full writer credit, well at least as far as the label copy reads. I have to believe behind the curtain, there was a handshake share with Lee Hazelwood, writer of ‘Boots’ – or maybe not. He was the producer, it didn’t sell, and who cares anyways. Luckily the track was issued as a single.

The Cramps

Saturday, August 15th, 2009

A band like The Cramps don’t come along once in a lifetime, they come along once.

Footage from their Australian tour in support of FLAMEJOB. Thanks to Lindsay Hutton at The Next Big Thing for the tip off.

The Everly Brothers

Thursday, May 21st, 2009

everlywakeps, everly brothers, phil everly, don everly, cadence

Listen:  Wake Up Little Susie / The Everly Brothers EverlyWakeUp.mp3

 

 

everlycathy1,everly brothers, phil everly, don everly, cadence, warner brothers

Listen:  Cathy’s Clown / The Everly Brothers EverlyCathy.mp3

 

 

everlybabyoutjail, Everly brothers, phil everly, don everly, cadence, warner brothers

Listen: I’m Here To Get My Baby Out Of Jail / The Everly Brothers EverlyJail.mp3

 

 

everlydontletwhole,Everly brothers, phil everly, don everly, cadence, warner brothers

Listen:  Don’t Let The Whole World Know / The Everly Brothers EverlyDontLet.mp3

 

Talk about remembering your childhood. ‘Wake Up Little Susie’ precedes mine, but I still seem to remember this record being out. I’m guessing it was played for years after hitting #1 in ’57. I’m pretty sure my babysitting cousin Peggy would let the changer keep repeating it endlessly on my parents Living Stereo console, during which she would lock me in the bathroom, while she and her boyfriend made out (I’m guessing). 

There’s something to be said about siblings, and how their voices are magic together. The McGuire Sisters, or Ray and Dave Davies – you’d think John and Exene were family members sometimes. I wonder what Ron and Russell would sound like if they sang together?

Here’s something interesting, for what sounds like the ultimate white pop music, both ‘Wake Up Little Suzie’ and ‘Cathy’s Clown’ scaled to the #1 spot on the pop AND the RnB charts. Can you believe that!!!

After the brothers bailed  for Warner Brothers in 1960, their original label, Cadence, continued to release the odd single in the hopes of grabbing another hit. One such 7″: ‘I’m Here To Get My Baby Out Of Jail’ snuck out in August ’62. Not as wild as the title suggests, it’s nonetheless grown on me over the years. The record’s humble chart run and placing (6 weeks, #76) in Billboard being part of the attraction. I love a flop.

By ’63 the hits had pretty much dried up – and not surprisingly, the British Invasion crippled them as it did so many other clean cut late 50′s/early 60′s teen stars. They released a version of ‘Love Her’ in that year, only to be usurped by The Walker Brothers rendition. In fact, ‘Don’t Let The Whole World Know’, the B side to ‘You’re My Girl’ (#110, 2/65), is a total cross between The Walker Brothers and The Cramps, two acts everyone, even The Everly Brothers, wishes they were like.