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Monday, 20 October 2014

Theoretical Girls - "Theoretical record 1978-81 (Expanded Die or Diy? Edition)" 2014


I've been in lots of theoretical groups (and theoretical girls),but its when they became real that the problems began (with the girls too). Theoretically, the Theoretical Girls, featuring Glenn Branca and Sonic Youth producer Wharton Tiers, should be terrible, at least in the power pop driven environment of 1978. Detuned guitars,monotonous song construction, simplistic repetitive drumming, virtually no vocals,all adding up to a mudslide of driving noise. There were no records(one single?) either,just live performances to be experienced once then forgotten.

For a non-rock group they sure could make an exciting driving rock like effect;best encapsulated in the ultimate distillation of the rock essence in a two minute tune, the eponymous “Theoretical Girls”. Where the lyrics consist only of their name and the endless 1,2,3,4 count-in,repeated through out. This posthumous collection all the disparate shards of their recorded existence from 1978 to 81,with live recordings and the odd released and unreleased studio effort. Pure dissonance you can dance to. After this Glenn Branca started to have pretensions in becoming a serious composer with his “Symphonies”,and is now taken very seriously indeed. It was left to his fans,Sonic Youth, to carry it on (or rip it off?)and develop this into a kind of pop music.

Track Listing:

1. Theoretical Girls (Live)
2. Computer Dating 
3. Contrary Motion 
4. Europe Man 
5. Lovin In The Red 
6. Mom & Dad 
7. U.S. Millie 
8. No More Sex 
9. Keyboard Etude 
10. Electronic Angie (Short Version) 
11. Chicita Bonita 
12. Polytonal 
13. Parlez-Vous Francais 
14. Theoretical Girls (Studio) 
15. You Got Me
16. Fuck Yourself
17. TV Song
18. Glazened Idols
19. You.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

The Static ‎– "Theoretical Record" (Theoretical Records ‎– TR 02) 1979

 

I have released many theoretical records in my dreams, but not many of them reached the sublime heights of the sole theoretical release by The Static. The profoundly accurate “My relationship” has to be in my top ten songs of all time. In two words,and less chords,or dis-chords, it accurately recreates the awful tension of emotional/sexual relationships perfectly. The horrendous subtle,and unsubtle, control of the person you 'Love' or 'Possess'. The petty jealousies, the little irritations that grow incrementally into Titanic problems......you know what I mean? Hopefully you don't identify with this tune and have a blissfully unproblematic and happy 'Relationship'. If so, well done. Then listen to this and understand the other side of the coin. I'm not Bitter, honest!

Tracklist:


A My Relationship
Bass, Backing Vocals – Barbara Ess, Drums, Backing Vocals – Christine Hahn, Guitar,Vocals - Glenn Branca
3:05
B Don't Let Me Stop You
Drums – Christine Hahn, Guitar – Barbara Ess, Guitar,Vocals - Glenn Branca
5:01

Download theoretically HERE!

or an Alternative Theory HERE!


Saturday, 18 October 2014

The Static - "Live at Riverside Studio's, London, 02/24/1979"


One thing that always annoyed me about the UK Punk Rock scene was this obsession with the 'No Future' 'Career Opportunities' 'Right To Work' nonsense. The suggestion that if only we all had a job,a few quid in the pocket, and new TV, everything would be alright. It was a simplistic message to explain away their anti-social behaviour,alongside Boredom(yaaaawn); and attracted the kind of 'Punk' that produced the embarrassing cliché that adorn many postcards today.The UK Subs and Sham 69 are typical of this so-called street punk approach,dumbing it down to the level of conventional politics. No-one thought that 'No Future' applied to the Royal Family as well ,or sing about the right NOT to work(except maybe Crass of all people). No Future applies to everyone,and the horror of the human condition specifies that we are all future wormfood. Having a career changes nothing about this hopeless situation. An angle more than adequately covered by the nascent Industrial scene in the UK,but not really addressed in Punk Rock UK.
Wire,to their credit were never part of the general Punk Rock direction,and as a result were popular in the USA,who's Punk equivalents never touched on this ,frankly, socialist approach. Something that was alien to them completely. The yanks liked the bands who rocked like the Damned,X-Ray Spex,and the Stranglers, or the bands who looked to the future like Wire, the Pop Group, and the Gang of Four(they obviously never listened to the lyrics,but 'they rocked maaaan').
The early New Yawk 'punk' scene had little in common with the UK variant, and I'd hesitate to call it 'Punk'. Proto-Punk were The Ramones, Heartbreakers etc, dressed down guitar rock were Television, Patti Smith post-Hippie,and proto-post punk were Talking Heads. Only Richard Hell and the Voidoids got close,probably more like a prototype No Wave band if anything?
Which brings us to what I consider to be the real US equivalent of UK Punk/Post-Punk, the aforementioned NO-Wave clique. This encapsulated the real 'end of the world' feel that Punk Rock should have been about. The discordant noise that repulsed trad rock fans really put the torture of the human condition into a sonic aspect. They didn't need or want to be liked ,there was just an unstoppable desire to spew forth this horrible noise that they had trapped inside. Something that Americans have always been good at, and the emotionally repressed Brits never, without the help of booze and drugs. “I'm so Bored with the USA” sang The Clash about a country that only evokes extreme feelings. Whether it be hate or love, one thing that you cannot say about the USA is that its 'Boring'?! No-Wave was these extremes of emotion in action,but still had more in common with Industrial and so-called Post-Punk in th UK ,than the Punk Rock itself; but nevertheless the closest the US ever got to the perfect punk philosophy embodied.
Mr. No-Wave was undoubtedly Glenn Branca, co-creator of the detuned Guitar onslaught concurrent with the more music schooled Rhys Chatham. His first trio, The Static, unleashed this monstrous noise from 1977 to 79 to various audiences in the New York downtown arty scene. Largely under represented on vinyl,except one great single, and a few compilation appearances, I have managed to unearth a live concert from 1979,ironically, in London,at the very arty Riverside studios. Another bizarre trait of the Americans is that they always have to leave it to the Brits to appreciate the good things they have first, and send it back to them before they realise what they had!? Without the UK the only music they'd have in the charts would be the complete and utter shite of Billy Ray Cyrus and the Eagles. Now that would be 'Boring'!But as always it would be the extreme end of boredom,very American?

Friday, 17 October 2014

Wire - "The 1976 Demo's" (unofficial release)


Prince Edward and Antonin Artaud were listening to some random punk rock numbers, when Edward slipped on Wire's 1976 Demo's LP.

“Who are these rowdy yobbo's making this god awful racket?” said Artaud.

“Why, that'll be Wire. One of the cornerstones of intelligent art punk ,and prolific Avant gardist musicians.” countered Edward Windsor smugly.

“Nah! Can't be them,'cus their songs don't have guitar solo's in 'em!This band is positively festooned with crappy guitar solo's!” added Artaud spitefully.

Then, accompanied with farting sound effects, in strutted an irate Alfred Jarry.

“ Course it's facking Wire yoo Cant! They sacked off the wanker who did the fackin' solo's, and edited 'em out of the fackin' songs! This was obviously recorded before this historic decision was effected-ahhhhh!”

A stunned silence ensued before Jarry added,pataphysically of course,

“Yoo Fackin' Kaaaaannnnnntttsssss”

And exited stage front into the first rows of seats of an emptying theatre.

“Well fuck me!” exclaimed a clearly agitated Antonin Artaud.

“As I am a closet Homosexual predator I will later....oh.....and by the way, did you know that Prince Harry's real father is obviously James Hewitt and absolutely NOT prince Charles?”

 Thank you Antonin, Edward, and Alfred, for putting us straight on several facts there,especially the one about Harry Hewitt!

This artifact, reveals a very different Wire to the one we know and love from Pink Flag onwards.Just look how hard and dishevelled they look on the cover!There are some patently terrible songs here,how right they were to sack that awful lead guitarist and his sub-pub rock solo's. 
In less than a year and a half's time, Wire were to progress rapidly on to Post Punk masterpiece “Chairs Missing”; such pace of change as to mirror the Beatles from “Love me Do” to “Tomorrow Never Knows”(the track that was the beginning of modern music?). In Wire's case its from “Mary is a Dyke” to “Former Airline”,which only took two years compared to The Beatles four!

This isn't the worst Demo's collection from the Punk annals,that pedestal goes to Joy Division's 'Warsaw Demo's',especially the track “Gutz”which is even worse than Colin Newman busting a blood vessel on the track “Bitch”. He must have been drunk!



Track Listing:

A1 Prove Myself
A2 Mary Is A Dyke
A3 Bad Night
A4 Can't Stand It No More
A5 Love
A6 Midnight Train
A7 What Is This Feeling Called Love
A8 Tv
B1 Lost Boy
B2 Johnny Piss Off
B3 After Midnight
B4 Fade
B5 Bitch
B6 Roadrunner



Thursday, 16 October 2014

Wire ‎– "Live At The Roxy, London - April 1st & 2nd 1977"


With stuff like '154' , 'Y', 'Closer', 'Metal Box', and other genre defining releases of the so-called 'Post-Punk' period; I, for one, never called these records/bands Post-Punk, because as far as I was concerned the 'Punk' era hadn't ended. These were Punk records; not 'Punk Rock' i'll admit,but definitely a progression of the original Punk ethos. Progressive punk is, for me, a better description. Post-Punk was shit like Bauhaus, ABC, Duran Duran, and all that 'New Pop' crap.The stuff that gave us the phrase,'Like Punk Never Happened'.

The most progressive of the class of '77 was Wire,who in the space of three years evolved from probably the purest manifestation of the 'Punk' sound, to virtually Avant Garde. 
On EMI's 'Live at The Roxy' compilation from '77, they stood out as the most different,and intelligent of the groups featured. Yet their songs most accurately reflected the Year zero philosophy of those punk svengali's down the Kings Road. Short,Sharp, Shock rock, with absolutely NO guitar solo's. These songs really did make the Pistols sound like Bad Company, with Albert Steptoe on Vocals (to paraphrase Captain Sensible);which in retrospection they actually did! The band members didn't behave like Rock Stars either, another Punk prerequisite! Looking at the photo's of Wire at the Roxy,they didn't dress like a punk was supposed to either; just have a butchers at Lewis's shirt! This ,of course, makes them Punk as Fuck!

So in tribute to this pûrity of objective,here is Wire as they were first heard by the public; both sets from April fools day, and the following day, live at the hallowed Roxy Club in Covent Garden,in 1977. One has to say that the April the Second performance is by far the superior one,with added bite and aggression. Even Graham Lewis can be heard calling a punter a 'Fucking Little Shit' with his clipped downtown Grantham, Lincolnshire ,baritone. Slightly tailing off halfway through the 'shit' bit. Oooooh those filthy punk rockers with their spitting and their habits!?


(Its interesting to see how EMI boffin's edited bits of dialogue together for the compilation LP.The same happened to Johnny Moped's performance,which you can check out in it's entirety HERE)




1. The Commercial
2. Mary is a Dyke
3. Too True
4. Just Don't Care
5. Strange
6. Brazil
7. It's So Obvious
8. Three Girl Rhumba
9. TV
10. Straight Line
11. Lowdown
12. Feeling Called Love
13. NYC
14. After Midnight -
15. 12XU
16. Mr Suit -
17. Glad All Over




1. The Commercial
2. Mary is a Dyke
3. Too True
4. Just Don't Care
5. Strange
6. Brazil
7. It's So Obvious
8. Three Girl Rhumba
9. TV
10. Straight Line
11. Lowdown
12. Feeling Called Love
13. NYC
14. After Midnight -
15. 12XU
16. Glad All Over
17. Mr Suit






Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Desmond Simmons ‎– "Alone On Penguin Island" (Dome Records‎– DOM 33.1 ) 1981


Just as Colin Newman records sound like Wire, but without Gilbert and Lewis, and Dome sounds like the stuff lurking in the background of a Wire album,but without Newman,Gilbert, Gotobed and Lewis. This album by Colin Newman band member,Desmond Simmons, on Dome Records Incidentally; sounds like a Colin Newman impression without any member of Wire involved at all!(although it was produced by Gilbert and Lewis,Colin Newman guests on a few Vocals,and Robert Gotobed Drums!)

Never having heard this until recently,(thanks to Rainier,can we call you 'Prince'?), I was surprised this made it to Dome Records? As Dome was set up to see how far one could go and still be able to call it music! I paraphrase Bruce Gilbert here, but there is no evidence of this objective on Desmond’s record. Its fairly straight forward post-punky experimental pop.....er....like Colin Newman's solo stuff; which this sounds almost exactly like,but not as good!? Still a fairly entertaining listen,(especially,”Caste from Hawaii”, “Phone Ringing (version 2)” and “To be Lost”), which is the primary objective of popular music anyway is it not?

Tracklist:


A Caste From Hawaii
To Be Lost
Beacon Hill Six
April Waits
The Gymnast
Bing Crosby's Hat
Man The Lifeboats
Phone Ringing
Counterpane
By Air Or By Sea
Panthenon
Tracers
Alone On Penguin Island
(With CD bonus tracks)


or

Colin Newman ‎– "Not To" (4AD ‎– CAD 201) 1982


The third solo album, and thankfully the Band return,including Robert Gotobed,a guest appearance from old buddy Bruce Gilbert, and Dome records recording artist, Desmond Simmons. Songwriting makes a come back also with some Newman originals,a Graham Lewis penned number(You,Me,and Happy), and even some old Wire tunes(5/10,We Meet Under Tables) that never made it to the recording studio proper. Probably his best album,full of quality avant-pop of wire-esque proportions,only let down by an 'orrible Beatles cover to close side two.

Tracklist:

Lorries 3:51
Don't Bring Reminders 3:27
You, Me And Happy 2:37
We Meet Under Tables 3:47
Safe 2:34
Truculent Yet 3:49
5/10 3:32
1, 2, 3, Beep, Beep 2:14
Not To 3:33
Indians! 3:05
Remove For Improvement 4:07
Blue Jay Way 3:11
or

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Colin Newman ‎– "Provisionally Entitled The Singing Fish" (4AD ‎– CAD 108) 1981


Colin Newman's attempt at an experimental album turned out to be like his first solo album, but without any vocals!? This would be ok if the music could stand up on its own merit,but it's nothing more than backing tracks for tunes that were never written! He must have had a tape full of demo's that never got finished,and thought that rather than write a new album he'd use these for the second solo record instead. A easier way to compete with the prolific production rate of his former colleagues. He does a Mike Oldfield and plays all the instruments himself,as all the band on “A-Z” had been sacked off,luckily, for us, to return for the next record.

A kind of post-punk elevator music,that is ultimately......very boring? It has a certain period charm,but Colin should have stuck to what he does best; slightly experimental pop songs.


Tracklist:


Fish 1 2:31
Fish 2 1:49
Fish 3 3:04
Fish 4 4:58
Fish 5 4:05
Fish 6 2:17
Fish 7 2:30
Fish 8 4:07
Fish 9 3:45
Fish 10 3:01
Fish 11 1:58
Fish 12 3:34

or


Colin Newman ‎– "A-Z" (Beggars Banquet ‎– BEGA 20) 1980


I know we're straying off the true DIY path somewhat,but I feel obliged to push forward the three Colin Newman solo efforts. Wire were incredibly influential figures for the disenfranchised young person who wanted to make interesting music,and the only way was to do it themselves!
Newman was the working class member of the group,and always the most 'Pop' orientated among his art school buddies in Wire. This is evident on his inaugural LP, “A-Z”, which is basically ,Wire, without the background sonic footprint of the lads from Dome.
I first heard this album via one of those in-house BBC video's on the Old Grey Whistle Test, for the track “B”. I assumed that all the song titles would be letters from A to Z, but was disappointed to find that “B” was the sole appearance of the alphabet on the whole record. The songs however were as inventive and memorable as anything on “154”, with “B” being one of the weakest. Here hide the melodies that were missing from Gilbert and Lewis' numerous releases in 1980,something you can tap your foot to,and hum along after it stops playing. Is that such a bad thing? It's certainly more difficult to create than endless drones and formless ambient Industrial workouts. Colin Newman was undoubtedly the craftsman of the group, and its proven on this and his third effort “Not To”. Arty pop that a larger common denominator can find something to cling onto. Better still, merge this with a Dome record,and you've got perfect Avant-Pop; aka Wire.

Tracklist:


I've Waited Ages
& Jury
Alone
Order For Order
Image
Life On Deck
Troisième
S-S-S-Star Eyes
Seconds To Last
Inventory
But No
B
 
or

Monday, 13 October 2014

Cupol ‎– "Like This For Ages" (4AD ‎– BAD 9) 1980


Yet another Gilbert and Lewis pseudonym was Cupol,which was a sort of urbane urban ethnic version of Dome. A prototype Dome,with prototype drones,and hints of something ethnological lingering in the backwoods and ,more obviously, in the artwork. All this on a 12incher that plays at 33rpm on one side and 45rpm on the other. This can lead to some interesting speed experiments when not concentrating. Unfortunately ,the limitations of digital files means that the playback speed is frozen in a binary straitjacket.

The closest Gilbert and Lewis ever got to a commercial single; which is,not very.

Tracklist:


A Like This For Ages 4:31
B Kluba Cupol 20:28


or


B.C.Gilbert & G.Lewis ‎– "3R4" (4AD ‎– CAD 16) 1980


I know of two other Gilbert and Lewis albums from the period of the Dome albums;one of them is “3R4” from 1980. How this escaped the Dome Moniker eludes me? It's quite a bit more Ambient than Dome I suppose,and far more Eno;more Drone than Dome. Largely consisting of two lengthy atmospheric,and I repeat, Ambient tracks, and two short preludes to the former. For want of a better word,and for all intents and purposes, this is Dome 1and a half-ish. Music that crawled from and to the 'art-space'. Made for contemporary dancers,performance artists,and cheese and wine evenings at an exhibition. The beret and sandal crowd would gag if they knew it ended up in the sweaty bedrooms of a few hundred young men filed between 'Document and Eyewitness' and 'Music For Airports'. One of the many incidents where Street culture and the bourgeois world of 'fine art' mixed uncomfortably in one small room.

Tracklist:

A1 Barge Calm 1:11
A2 3. 4... 17:03
B1 Barge Calm 1:08
B2 R 20:03

or

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Dome - "Will You Speak This Word" (Uniton Records ‎– U 011) 1982


For some reason Dome 4 isn't called Dome 4!? It's called “Will You Speak this Word”!What word they want you to speak isn't clear,but tribal could be one guess. Yes, tribal drumming is a major contributory factor on Dome 4;What for? Well, maybe as an interesting juxtaposition between modern electronics and the primal instruments of our ancestors. That along with a bit of free Jazz horn blowing,and lashings of ambience,the boys have thrown the experimental kitchen sink at this one. Coming out at a time when we had similar efforts from PiL and This Heat, the opening track could easily be from “Deceit”, and the next couple of tracks from “The Flowers Of Romance”. This yearning for the modern primitive was obviously in the air around 81/82, with all that industrial percussion, and Adam and the Ants/Bow Wow Wow Burundi beat stuff in the charts. Gilbert and Lewis were not immune to musical fads after all.

However, “Will You Speak this Word”, is probably the most rewarding and consistent of the four eighties Dome albums.

Ps,

it's official, Dome 5 is good!

Tracklist:


To Speak
To Walk, To Run
To Duck, To Dive
This
Seven Year
Atlas
 
or

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Dome ‎– "Dome 3" (Dome Records ‎– DOME 3) 1981


Gilbert and Lewis must have spent the whole of 1980-82 in the recording studio,narrowly avoiding a severe case of rickets due to lack of sunlight. They seemed intelligent enough to take an alternative source of vitamin D with them,and called it Vitamin Dome accordingly. If the four Dome albums from 80 to 82 were in fact vitamins, the first is B, feeding the central nervous system;Dome 2 is a fruity C,saving your teeth from sonic scurvy;and this one(3) is clearly the sunshine of the series.....Vitamin Dome, saving your Bones with their Drones. The forthcoming Dome 4,or “Will You Speak This Word”, is vitamin K, 'cus I don't know what it does, except aid the development of foetus’s. Apparently, embryo's(like what seems to be pictured on the album cover?) and upwards are supposed to enjoy a bit of Mozart? However, my unborn daughter had to endure a lot of Joy Division, Throbbing Gristle,Free Jazz and worse, to no great adverse effect. The now teenage Nancy(check out her blog), does not care for these musics, preferring Rammstein, Skrillex, and bloody Nirvana!?Proving they couldn't give two squirts of maconium what they hear through the uterine wall. It may have been different had I beamed some Dome in her gestating direction? Probably not!
Rhythms play a more prominent role in this murky party music from the padded cell next door. Even some vocal rhythmic patterns are employed,as “An-An-An-D-D-D” reminds me of Philip Glass's “Einstein on The Beach” somewhat(which,ironically,was played while Nancy was emerging from the womb!?). I can see this album as a soundtrack for the Michael Clark Dancers, or the Ballet Rambert; with the bourgeois art elitists in the arts centre audience, sneering behind stroked beards and reading glasses, at the fact that tonight’s composers used to be in a 'Punk Rock' group!
  
Tracklist:


A1 Jasz
A2 Ar-Gu
A3 An-An-An-D-D-D
A4 Ba-Dr
A5 D-D-Bo
A6 Na-Drm
B1 Ur-Ur
B2 Danse
B3 Dasz
B4 Roos-An

Friday, 10 October 2014

Dome ‎– "Dome 2" (Dome Records ‎– DOME 2) 1980


Dome 2 sounds like Dome too, but better. There's less tracks than Dome on Dome 2,but Gilbert and Lewis were on a roll. Two albums in a year,and more to follow on their heels,they established a Dome sound swiftly. An intriguing cross-bred dark ambiance, with repetitive avant rock riffs drifting in and out of the smoggy reverb. Beats are allowed to occasionally provide respite for the casual avant-gardiste looking for Wire-isms,but there is no Colin Newman to donate a recognisable tune to the recipe; this cake does not rise. Its a flat lumpy Gateau,with an unknown gas escaping from the lumps;probably a Black Forest gateau due to the Krautrock ingredients folded into the mixture. The sweet black cherries represented by the Opening track(S) ,”The Red Tent parts 1&2”,part two being the closest we get to a lost Wire classic. The chocolate sprinkles,are “Twist Up”, where The Residents meet Glenn Branca. The creamy filling of the remaining tracks ooze into the half speed tape closer, so reminiscent of the indigestion one experiences after consuming this seventies classic dessert. This album is of course not a seventies classic,but ,unlike Arctic Roll,made the eighties its rightful home,as Dome grasped for the future. Yes, kids.......Pop Tarts!

Tracklist:
The Red Tent I
The Red Tent 2
Long Lost Life
Breathsteps
Reading Prof. B
Ritual View
Twist Up
Keep It


or