#17, NOVEMBER 2004



by Tony Rettman

Rusted door shuts. This is definitely the place. A jukebox blurts out the finest in shitty contempo commercial hate rock while two women on either end of the bar perform slinky, barely physical moves. All twelve dudes who are in the place are sporting mesh baseball hats in a non-hipster fashion while they puff on Pall Malls and swill Buds. Any one of these salt-of-the-earth types could easily turn any ironic mosh pitting three-inch CDR collecting ‘angry’ type into a pile of Manwhich in three seconds flat. And with that chest swelling thought in mind, I decide to settle in for an hour or two. The first woman to come by for a tip leans in on me and says, "You’re not going to believe this! See those guys on the other end of the bar?" I spy over and see a gaggle of Filipinos in flannel shirts and tattered baseball caps. "Uh....
yeah," I reply. "They just said to me ‘I got no money, but do you have pussy?’" She guffaws sweetly in my ear. "I guess it’s just gonna be one of those nights" she sighs and then looks me dead in the eye. "Now, I know YOU have a tip for me, right?" Her gaze seems so pure and believable you’d assume she was Jim Jones’s daughter herself. With that look planted firmly in my….um…left hand shirt pocket I comply with a dollar and she grasps it with what breasts she has. Many beers and singles later, my mind wanders to the usual shit. "Am I sick? What has happened in my life to lure me to places like this?" I look around me and see no one who is trying to climb the rungless ladder of life, and most importantly, no one who will hand me a cassette of him or
herself running a hair dryer through a delay pedal. Even though I’ve answered my own question, I still continue on with the self-loathing. "What makes me say the horrible things I say about people I’ve never met and treat people like such dirt…what the hell has happened in my life to make me such a grade ‘A’ asshole?" I pontificate on this while many trailer dwellers shake their fried eggs a few feet from my face. Now what this bar needs is the latest ZZ Top CD . . . have YOU heard it? Man, it’s the tits (no pun intended, I swear). Now, I’m not gonna claim to be wise to anything these guys have done in the past…oh…fifteen years or so. I do know I think Tejas is one of the greatest rock records of all time. I also know anyone who would deny Eliminator (the very soundtrack to Black Flag’s freak flag flying tours of the U.S. and Europe in 1984) is a limp chest pierced ass. And this latest one, Mescalero, takes the electronically tweaked boogie of Eliminator to a real fucked level. The genuine groove these guys have oozed since the ‘70’s is still dripping most certainly, but they have learned to take reign over the NASA-like technology at their fingertips and take everything to a new level of screwery. The window shaking reverbed out grit groove…the heavily processed fuzz…and when the fuck did Billy Gibbons's voice turn into a growl that would make Lemmy turn tail and run? Visions of King Tubby in a ten-gallon hat swim through the air above my bed every time I play this. The dirty electro jams are to be found HERE and not with that other trio so many sexless wonders jizz over

Look for Tony Rettman strolling around upper Manhattan this winter in his very own official Mescalero tour pancho!

Every once in awhile for shits and giggles, I flip through Al Kooper’s highly entertaining autobio Backstage Passes And Backstabbing Bastards and get so bogged down with a case of the chuckles, I gotta throw on one of his sides to drown out my smoker's wheezing laughter so’s the lil lady can catch some rest in the hay barn. More than usually, I throw on the second side of ‘New York City (You’re A Woman)’ (CBS, 1971), an LP Al recorded in both the legendary Trident studios in England and the CBS studios in L.A. with an array of 70’s session musician gods (Herbie Flowers, Sneaky Pete, Rita Coolidge, etc.). Sitting down here in the living room and letting the record play discharges many springs from my nogg. About three or four years ago, I lived in the middle of New Mexico (don’t ask) working this shit job in a record store. I was in a deep state of depression (as you should be when you live in New Mexico) and there was only a few records that would stir me from catatonic states of staring at six hour long video tapes of ‘Iron Chef’ while smoking enough pot to cripple your average sized polar bear. First, it was the first Blood, Sweat & Tears LP, ‘Child Is Father To The Man’ (CBS, 1968) an album that was such a grab bag of emotions that it would spark me out of sad sack mode and get me up and goin’ doin’ what had to be done…and in N.M. that wasn’t much. So I hadda comb the Koop’s post-BS&T solo albums thoroughly and this was the one that I settled on for total dorkdom reasons (but of course!). While perusing the thank you list I noticed Al thanked Gus Dudgeon and Spring for the use of a mellotron. Holy shit! Not only did the Koop hang with Bobby, Joni and numerous other high falootin’ types back then, but he was down with underground UK prog rockers as well. ‘This has got to be the one’ I thought as I conveniently stole it from my place of work. And it was. Koop keeps the vibe warm, fuzzy and funky for the most part with the stuttering piano lines of ‘Dearest Darling’ and the rags-to-eh-life-ain’t-so-bad story of ‘Back On My Feet’. But then you got his rendition of the John/Taupin composition ‘Come Down In Time’ that comes off rather straight until Al takes a solo that sounds like John Cippolina on crank and being played at 78 RPM. It’s one of my favorite sides of all time and I just needed to throw it out there. I wish I could tell you I lost my virginity to a Smegma record or something, but I am what I am and you are what you are…a turd. And Al will always be Al…not Mr. Kooper…that’s his dad. (Rest his soul.)

AL KOOPER is a good lookin' gus, no?

…And since we’re on the subject of rock autobios, ya know I just got done with Keith Emerson’s ‘Pictures Of An Exhibitionist’ (John Blake, 2004). I do not feel the need to defend my interest and/or love for either E, L or P. Give a listen to any portion of any ELP bootleg from the early 70’s and tell me some of Emerson’s shenanigans don’t sound like anyone of your fave rave cassette noisers. And even though I’ve got myself all lathered up here in ‘I know better’ mode, I gotta say this book paints these guys out to be the rod assed poo-faces you all expect them to be. Except for Keith of course. He paints himself up to be a right lad, doesn’t he? Between all the highly exciting talk of time signatures and visits to Aaron Copeland’s boudoir, there’s some plugged in recounts of sex, drugs and Tchaikovsky that are sorta gross. I mean, Emo admits to ELP enjoying the same groupie at the same time…ya know…a gang bang, a three way…whatever you kids call it these days. All I gotta say to that is YE-UCK! Why didn’t they find a real short girl so they could kiss each other while going at it . . . . . . Jesus . . . . . The recounts of The Nice coming to America and then burning its flag is pretty engaging, as are all the stories about P.P. Arnold (in the words of my father, ‘Now there’s a broad!"), but other than that, Keith’s scribblings are dullsville, baby . . . dullsville.

What's a better look for Keith.. the one pictured above or the 'gourd down his pants' look from the cover of 'Love Beach'... Let us know, or in the words of Infest 'VOICE YOUR OPINION!!!!' I mean, this is an election year!

I know you kids and you wanna get contemporary. I don’t blame you. Who wants to read some old fart go on about records that were old when he wasn’t even born yet? Hell…I know I don’t! So let’s go…Religious Knives is the dynamic duo of Mikey Bernstein and Maya Miller, who you might know as the leather and lace that makes up the quartet of Double Leopards. They’ve been gigging around lately under the RK moniker and handing out the odd CDR here and there. The one I’ve gotten a hold of is custom made for the deepest, darkest set of headphones you can find. The twenty-minute piece that makes up the disc starts off in some dank forest full of brass bees and suddenly drops you into an absolute nothingness that tightly squelches. You eventually drop back into the fore mentioned forest to attend sonic boner camp with the Catholic priest of your choice. Those who want to be stabbed by these sounds (ho ho hee hee…lemme go change my britches) should virtually hightail it over to Chris Freeman at www.fusetronsound.com and see if he’s got any left. And since we’ve mentioned Chris…

Gang Gang Dance have proven themselves to be one of the most absorbing and infuriating bands to dwell in the east, let alone Brooklyn. Their live sets are constantly erratic in quality. Sometimes they come off like prime era Virgin Prunes (minus the candle holders and silly make-up of course) and sometimes they come off like pointless image conscious crap. Luckily, their deluxe packaged debut LP on Fusetron captures them in a splendid light and it’s got me scratching both my scalp and my crotch to raw proportions. The A Side comes off like a more maleficent Rip Rig Panic while the B Side brings back the thought of ‘dark’ English bands from the 80’s and just when you think you gotta hold on the sucker, it lurches in a million wonderful directions at once. Fluttering drums, chicken fucken good guitar scratch, Godz like vocal rambling…it’s a workout. Reminds me that words like infuriating and unpredictable are good words…aren’t they? www.fusetronsound.com

I’m not going to claim to be some sorta expert on this ‘new blossoming’ thing going on in Finland. But I know I’ve dropped a bit of change on the stuff and I must say this Lauhkeat Lampaat single is my fave among the whole lot. It sounds like someone squished Malachi’s ‘Holy Magick’ LP onto a morsel-sized single. These two dudes tingle with organic oneness as easily as your momma bakes me cookies. Non-retarded handmade covers and almost zero info to be found anywhere on the thing makes me even more impressed and interested. pokrecords@yahoo.com

‘What’s the nastiest part of your hate?’—Kim Fowley. When you’re stepping down hard into a sea of puckered nowhere, you don’t see much hope. The most hopeless thing I saw in awhile turned into the most hopeful act I’ve witnessed in years. Yesterday when I was walking home from work I saw your average asshole princess bitchface yakking away on her cell phone-cum-calculator with no regard to where she was, who she was or where the hell she was going. She yakked and yakked and yakked until she walked right into a six foot female black beauty/genius who promptly did what this idiot’s mother should of done a long time ago…she backhanded her solid and cold. The vigilante slapper kept right on walking without even a hint of disgust in her eyes. It was almost as if a higher force had beamed her down into mid-town Manhattan to show this woman her expendability. The whole action threw me back mentally and almost physically. My first nose full of crisp autumn air finally hit me and it felt almost palpable. The sound of Elton John singing ‘Son Of Your Father’ jumped to a superhuman volume in my headphones and I think I might have skipped all the way home. Now, I can sense some of you might think I’m some heartless sicko who gets off on seeing random acts of violence. Oh contraire my beloved meat hook. It’s quite obvious at this point in time we have no one to trust in keeping each other in line but ourselves. Pointing out the selfish assholes whose only place on this earth is to better themselves in some false sense of security should be our number one goal in this place and time. If you know who I am and know what I look like and you ever see me acting in such a way, please…slap me silly. If you don't know what I look like, I'm usually scratching my ass and eyeball at the same time whilst deejaying Italian disco music or whatever someone told me is cool this week while also trying to maintain ''Street Cred" the whole time. It's a dirty job for a money hungry jerk like me, but it keeps me in dog food. Oops! A twenty just fell out of my colon! BTW, I answer to the name 'Slime'...

The Punk Rock scene at the Jersey Shore in the early eighties was just as dismal as you would imagine it to be. A small gaggle of acne scarred kids who saw one too many Quincy episodes for their own good and bands just as moronic and misguided as their attitudes. Due to a new generation of Punk Rock record collectors, this era and area has been cracked open for reexamination. Kids and collectors the world over are now paying top dollar for records my friends and I practically shat on at the time they were released. Man, if I only had that Partners In Crime record Tim McMahon and I smashed with a hammer behind the Thriftway in ninth grade...I could maybe buy an iPod today! Nonetheless, it doesn’t really matter how much money these revisionist clowns throw around. Anyone who ever had to sit through one of the never-ending sets by the likes of Chronic Sick (a gang of feather haired jocks who wore swastikas in the middle of their foreheads while playing such love paeans like ‘Man Rape Blues’) knows the worth of these bands and their ‘scene’.
One band that stood out from the rest of these beach bums was The Worst. Although they struck the same dumbo poses as their ‘ShoreCore’ peers, it was fairly obvious they were ahead of the game as both careerists and sonic sculptors. They gigged regularly at Max’s Kansas City as early as 1979, sharing bills with the likes of The Bad Brains and The Misfits, plus they were managed by famed NYC scenster/svengali Terry Ork. Musically, they aped neither the U.K. nor the just-burgeoning Hardcore sound of the west coast and instead played a meticulous, hook filled metal-influenced-before-metal-influence-in-Punk-was-cool brand of power rock that was honestly something all their own. The evidence lies in this recently released CD entitled ‘The Worst Of The Worst’ (oh how clever!) that compiles the band's entire recorded output (a 7’ e.p. from ‘82 and a 12’ e.p. from ‘83) as well as an unreleased lp and a live set recorded at Max’s in ‘79.
By the time The Worst got around to committing their sounds to wax, they were seen as being pretty passé in the eyes of the newly christened Hardcore gods of punk. Stage get-ups consisting of leathers and shades and tunes about drugs and chicks didn’t sit too well with a nation of Jello Biafra worshippers. Plus it was pretty apparent by the band's sound that they had influences that predated 1977...a definite no-no. Large portions of the previously released tracks on this disc sound like early Blue Oyster Cult jacked up on hyper pills, complete with frighteningly accomplished guitar solos and tight ass stop/go rhythm gaps. There are some moments in these tunes that turn into more or less generic thrash, but they’re presented in such a contrarian and crotch-derived manner you can’t help but be intrigued by the band’s cocksureness and/or stupidity (take your pick).
In the liner notes that accompany the disc, The Worst’s unreleased LP from ‘84 (or so) is labeled as ‘Heroin Hardcore', which makes it sound like a promising and demented gem, but it’s pretty much dire push button dreck. Their lead vocalist Do It (named after the anthem recorded by early 70’s U.K. proto-metallers The Pink Fairies) was long gone by this time and the vocals provided by their guitarist lack punch and venom. The live set tacked on at the end is fine and all, but doesn’t really provide me with any puzzle pieces to make the band's story any clearer. Looking back, I guess it’s kinda good a CD like this could come out to showcase The Worst as what they were. A tight, kick ass Rock band neglected due to time, place and numb nutted outfits. But I swear to God, the moment I hear about a Chronic Sick box set coming out, someone’s gonna die. www.partsunknownrecords.com

And while we’re mentioning those dudes at the Parts Unknown label, let’s talk about another pretty marvy thing they’ve recently pulled out of their asses. YDI were a gnarly as shit Hardcore band that survived on the crap hole streets of Philly back in the early 80’s. My brother had their ‘A Place In The Sun’ 7” back in ‘84 and it was certainly the sickest thing I had heard in my life at that point, right up there with the Negative Approach 7”. The photos I saw of them in fanzines supplied the same reaction I got from seeing the back cover of ‘Flex Your Head’ or the photos on the above mentioned NA 7”. I felt both allured and frightened, a pretty exciting and new thing to be felt by a 12 year old kid in the middle of suburban Jersey. Their singer was a huge African American skinhead who went by the name of Jackal. In all the photos I saw of him he was wearing this bad ass leather vest that had the names of his favorite HC bands written all over it, with a huge Germs circle on the back. The rest of the band looked pretty urchin-esque as well. Their 7” had tracks on it with titles like ‘Out For Blood’ and ‘Mad At The World’ and it all sounded pretty believable. I mean, these guys lived in Philadelphia, the most hopeless, useless, and overall crappiest burg to live in all the world. I’d be pretty pissed if I lived there as well.
But anyways...time goes by and my brother ends up working with this guy who becomes the new bass player in YDI. He tells my brother they’ve ‘changed’ a little...that they’ve gone the Metal route that a lotta ‘Core types were
going at this time. I was majorly bummed, especially when I got my chance to finally see them and the guitarist did a ten minute guitar solo while wearing fingerless tiger stripped gloves. They put out an LP named ‘Black Dust’ in '85 or ‘86 complete with photos of them posing in leather pants and fur looking coats. Again, major bummer. But the fuckers hadda big impact on me and they’ve become something of HC lore as the years progressed.
And now those smarty pants at Parts Unknown have scooped up all the YDI output (even the demo dude!) and put it out on a slice of tinfoil with the title ‘Out For Blood’. If your log swells at thoughts of lawnmowers being run through Marshall stacks while a dude who makes John Brannon sound like Carole King bellows away, then this sucker should send you to heaven, hell or wherever the crap you wanna go. And this ‘Black Dust’ LP sounds fucking great now! Like Celtic Frost gone Oi! or something. If I ever run for office, I will surely have the track ‘Not Without A Fight’ be my rally theme. Which will promise me a vote from Chris Gray, my brother, and possibly the dudes who run the Parts Unknown label. Hoorah! 4 more years! Wrap this sucker up with kick ass photos (complete with the bad ass leather vest) and liner notes by Tesco Vee (I shit you not my pal!) and you got something to give the grand kids. www.partsunknownrecords.com

Jackal of YDI pictured with 'bad ass leather vest'
apparently at the dry cleaners.

The RPM label in ole Blighty is a pretty fascinating little operation putting out these trainspotter type compilations of stuff from the 70’s that no one I’ve asked knows shit about. Not that I went around to anybody’s house with a list or anything, but they did seem pretty befuddled by the names. The two that have been getting the most jam time around here have been the two ‘Junk Shop’ collections, one collecting ‘Soft Rock’ and the other ‘Glam Ravers’.
       The Soft Rock one has apparently been compiled with the endorsement/involvement of the people who used to do ZigZag, the utmost hippest underground rock mag of the UK back then and it really does reek of the whole singer/songwriter obsession that comes from the pages of the few issues I have lying around. The opening track of ‘Pinball’ by Brian Protheroe sets the pace for a clutch of self-absorbed acoustic based tunes that sound great with the lights dimmed and a few sad drinks under your belt.
       Clifford T. Ward (anyone willing to get rid of a copy of his first one on Dandelion?) sounds just be-yout-a-full singing about a gal whose attention he can’t attract in ‘Wherewithall’ and how the fuck did I go around all these years without hearing Tim Rose’s version of "(You’ve Got To) Hide Your Love Away"? The Sarstedt Brothers I have never heard of in my whole life and then I hear this song on here (‘Chinese Restaurant’) and I feel like a chimp with a thumb in it’s ass. It’s right up there with any song by Ernie Graham, Tony Hazzard, Mickey Jupp or any other Englishman you don’t care about but me and other bearded bozos do. A Leo Sayer track on here from ‘73 has me digging through dollar bins, as does tracks by John Howard, Laurie Styvers, and Lesley Duncan. I thought I had it somewhat down pat when it came to mellow early 70’s UK jams. Jeeze...I are dummy, no?
The Glam Rock one (titled ‘Velvet Tinmine’..get it? get it?) is similarly humbling to dork boys in rounding up one hitters from nowhere. Some of them are just Slade wanna-bes with doubled up drums, but some of these tracks are really something...enough to shake a scarf over your head to and everything. Iron Virgin (yes, you read that name right) are certainly the winners in the Slade/Quatro side of things, and I’d say Bearded Lady are a close second with the track ‘Rock Star’. As far as the Bowie/Bolan biters go, Brett Smiley (trust me, I WISH I was clever enough to make up names like this) has a great vacant rave-up with ‘Va Va Va Voom’ and Shakane’s ‘Love Machine’ sounds like a ‘Slider’ out-take. But my favorite tracks on here are the ones that don’t necessarily make me think of platform boots or dudes who wish they were chicks.
There’s this track from ‘74 by a group named The Damned (not the one you’re thinking of) that has a brainsick electro-beat with a guitar filled to the gills with fuzzbox. Simon Turner’s ‘(Baby) I Gotta Go’ sounds like The Television Personalities being fronted by someone in a frilly shirt. Last but not least is a weirdo brother team with the name of Stavely Makepeace who apparently put out a fistful of self released singles recorded in their living room in the 60’s and 70’s (isn’t that always the way?). Their contribution to this (‘Slippery Rock 70’s’) sounds like a budget Giorgio Moroder (did I just hear all of Brooklyn drop a collective load of love sauce?) trying to download Gary Glitter’s hard drive. Anyone who gots more info on these guys has GOTSTA GIVE IT UP. I forgot to mention Ricky Wilde’s ‘I Wanna Go To A Disco’ and the glam tune Nick Lowe made under the assumed name of Tartan Horde, but maybe I should save that for next time... www.rpmrecords.co.uk

IRON VIRGIN: No caption needed.

So thanks for reading this crap. And remember I’m no one. Don’t get so worked up about things I write. If it gets your undies in a bunch...it’s not my fault, is it? Perhaps it says something about you and your insecurites as a person. Hmm??? O.K. your hour’s up....see you next week at three and I promise I’ll keep it all above the waist......
If you wanna send me 45’s by The Munx, The Washington Flyers, The English Rose, John Howard, Chemotherapy, The Coloured Balls or Keith Hudson, that would be great. If you wanna send me something you made yourself, that would be EVEN BETTER...get in touch at trettman@hotmail.com and we’ll work it out from there...