PUBLIC IMAGE, here LTD. – various stuffs (1978-1983)
The live compilation: at the video store I run with my friends in Los Angeles, we specialize in out-of-print, hard-to-find and just plain bootleggy weirdness. I recently bought for the store a Public Image Ltd. DVD compilation, and I’ve just grabbed the audio right from the video, so here you go. One thing I did not include was the legendary “American Bandstand” appearance from ‘79, since I though it redundant to have a track of them lip-synching. I guess I could’ve grabbed the audio of Dick Clark introducing them beforehand, but whatever. Something of note that is on here is the entire 12-minute “interview” with Tom Snyder that appears on the new double-disc DVD set called ” ‘The Tomorrow Show’: Punk & New Wave”.
The ’78 gig: the sound quality of this recording is janky, but I’ve included it here for historical interest, for this Belgium show in ‘78 was the very first PiL gig EVER, according to the fan site Fodderstompf —
The ’79 Peel Session: if “Metal Box” (aka “Second Edition”) had sounded only half as incredible as the versions of these three songs, then they would’ve sold ten times more copies. Produced by none other than Tony Wilson, these fiery versions of “Poptones”, “Careering” and “Chant” actually made the hairs on my arms stand straight up, and upon hearing them for the first time recently, I was reminded of just what made me apeshit over PiL in the first place. These recordings can be found on the three-disc box set “Plastic Box” that came out in ‘99, which currently fetches insane out-of-print prices, upwards of a few hundred dollars.
SHRIEKBACK – “TENCH” EP (1982)
I’ve stayed away from the catalogue of Shriekback, price
because of a bad experience with some random dance mix 12″ of theirs from the late ’80s I heard once. Upon its opening notes, sale I thought “How could that guy from that band I liked, and that other guy from that other band I liked have produced THIS?!?!” However blanded-out their later output might be, I was shocked to find that their first record, an EP from 1982 called “Tench”, provided many surprises, all of them good. Apparently, I listened to its tracks out-of-order; the first one that came up in the iPod was “Accretions”, a super-funky freakout which, according to Allmusic, is rather pushed farther down the track order, something like fourth, but remains the most memorable out of a stand-out mini-selection of varied and mysterious songs. Of the band, Trouser Press sez:
“Barry Andrews was a founder of XTC and later the organist in Robert Fripp’s League of Gentlemen. David Allen was coincidentally replaced in Gang of Four by League bassist Sara Lee. Together with guitarist/vocalist Carl Marsh and a drum machine, Andrews and Allen formed Shriekback, a cagey dance band with solid rhythms and insidiously weird vocals. The playing is top-notch, a slithering swamp snake that oozes cool malevolence on ‘Tench’’s six tracks. Shriekback abounds in originality and creativity, if not warmth. Despite changes in personnel, Andrews has remained the band’s core, preserving its spirit of prickly iconoclasm and imaginative exploration.”
What intrigues me most about the record, besides Dave Allen’s superior bass work, is the incoherent mumbling of vocalist Carl Marsh. In that song “Accretions”, he sounds like an even more-hyper-than-usual version of the Virgin Prunes’ Gavin Friday, all warble and no foundation. His voice adds a beautiful uneasiness to the track —
DOW JONES AND THE INDUSTRIALS
Hailing from West Layfayette, Indiana, DJATI were an unpredictable band, lurching from Midwestern college radio rock quickly over to grainy synthpunk, all within a few years. Their total recorded output consists of half a side of a split LP with another local band called the Gizmos (the LP was called “Hoosier Hysteria”), a three-song 7″, and a track on the “Red Snerts” compilation from ‘81, released by Indiana record label Gulcher Records (and now re-released on CD).
The early work is somewhat forgettable, but it’s the last few songs, especially the creepy “Indeterminism” from the 7″ (with its slow, languid march towards an existential dead end) and “Ladies With Appliances” (with all its Devo-esque suburban dread) that get repeated listens from me.
Also, here’s an article about the recent passing away of Dow Jones drummer Tim North.
SUBURBAN LAWNS – discography (1981-83)
My first exposure to the Suburban Lawns was on the “Best of New Wave Theater, Vol. 1″ videotape. Their self-titled LP, at the time of my discovery (around ‘97 or ‘98) was relatively easy to find in used record stores in Los Angeles; it’s since nearly vanished. I was always more in favor of Side 2, with tracks like “Janitor”, “Computer Date” and “Mom and Dad and God”, than Side 1, which I can still barely even remember.
From the most excellent Mr. Bill’s IRS Records Corner:
“Suburban Lawns formed in Long Beach, California in 1978, though several members had know each other longer and played together previously under various names such as The Fabulons or Art Attack (two were students at the famous California Institute of the Arts). They found their stride with a quirky tune called “Gidget Goes To Hell” released in 1979 on their own indpendent Suburban Industrial Records and got a boost when a music video for the tune ran on “Saturday Night Live”.
Thanks to continued airplay (from Rodney Bingenheimer & KROQ), the band was able to license thier self-produced debut LP to I.R.S. Records for a whopping $25,000 — more than it cost to produce — and get picked up by Ian Copeland’s Frontier Booking International. The arrangement gave them terrific opportunities to open for and tour with dozens of great UK and US bands.
The five members of Suburban Lawns took on stage names that would put smiles on the faces of anyone culturally literate: Su Tissue (Sue McLane), Vex Billingsgate (William Ranson), John Gleur (John McBurney), Frankie Ennui (Richard Whitney) and Chuck Roast (Charles Rodriguez). Su was the usual “front-person” though lead vocal duties switched from song to song with everyone except Chuck Roast singing at least one song.
Despite the regional success of the debut LP, a follow-up was a long time coming. And a long time in the pop-world often leads to turmoil brewing within bands. Shortly after Richard Mazda took on production of the their follow up, Baby (which ended up as an EP), John McBurney departed the fold. Other issues took their toll and Baby was released with little fanfare and less promotion. Soon after it hit the street the band folded. Despite a “fan club” address on the sleeve the Lawns were done.”
“DR. MARIO” – original NES soundtrack (1990)
Unlike my contemporaries, who favored titles like “Contra”, “Metroid” and “Zelda II: The Adventure of Link”, I preferred my Nintendo childgasms to come in the form of puzzle video games. Besides the usual “Tetris” fixation, I was enamored of the similarly-themed “Dr. Mario”, essentially “Tetris” with pill capsules.