STIFFS LIVE / PAC-MAN FEVER / 100 FLOWERS / SILBERBART / LES VAMPYRETTES

In an effort to completely get my old blog (Post-Punk Junk) out of my system, sickness and also in an effort to bring to you, tadalafil the ECR reader/downloader, sildenafil completely up to speed — I’m going to be posting over the next month pretty much everything that I used to have up on PPJ, album-wise, that I’ve haven’t already re-posted. I’ve done some catch-up posts in the past here on ECR, but after this next 4 weeks or so, I’ll be completely caught up, and will resume the new podcasts as well as new downloads once it’s all done.

“STIFFS LIVE” (1977)

Here’s a solid live compilation album from the early heyday of Stiff Records, recorded at a moment in time where the label sent its brightest stars out on the road under the banner of a package tour. Wreckless Eric comes off as the most shambolic, crazy and entertaining of the bunch — not an easy feat considering that Elvis Costello, Nick Lowe and Ian Dury were shoved onto the same bill! At one point, at the beginning of one of his two songs (I forget which one), Eric drunkenly mumbles “My guitar doesn’t work,” at which point you can hear someone in the audience say back to him “Try playing it!”

The Allmusic review puts it best:

This is punk music, no question; songs like Costello’s “Miracle Man” and the singalong encore of Dury’s “Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll” have attitude to spare, and this 1977 tour is legendary for its tales of drunken excess. But it’s punk of a different stripe, punk with a loose, shaggy feel (especially on Lowe’s and Goulden’s numbers), a sense of history (Costello sings a Dusty Springfield ballad written by Bacharach and David) and a wider range of influences, from Wallis’ psychedelic raveup to the slippery R&B of Dury and his Blockheads. ‘Stiffs Live’ is both a priceless historical document and a terrifically good time.

Various Artists – “Stiffs Live” LP (ZIP file)

BUCKNER & GARCIA – “PAC-MAN FEVER” (1982)

Normally I only post things I like, as opposed to things that make me want to pull my intestines out through my ears. This record is truly repugnant, awash with chokingly lame pap, but worthy to have for historical reasons — sort of. Allmusic sez:

Buckner & Garcia are the team behind the 1982 novelty hit “Pac-Man Fever,” a Top Ten single that became a ubiquitous pop culture phenomenon. In 1981, Jerry Buckner and Gary Garcia were living in Atlanta, writing ad jingles, and doing voice work for radio. Struck by the emerging video game fad, the two wrote and recorded a tribute to the king of the arcade and shopped it around to various major labels. There were no takers, but the song was released locally and became an instant hit after airing on a morning show. Brisk sales followed and CBS decided to take a shot; they requested a full album within one month’s time and Buckner & Garcia set about quickly learning every popular arcade game they could. Since sampling technology was unavailable, most of the album’s video game sound effects were recorded in public, directly off the machines. After a bit of national media coverage, both the single and album broke in a major way; “Pac-Man Fever” sold over two million copies, accounted for most of CBS’s profits that quarter, and even inspired a German-language version by Gerald Mann (titled, naturally, “Pac-Man Fieber”). The follow-up single, “Do the Donkey Kong,” wasn’t nearly as successful; feeling that the duo had run their course, CBS declined to issue their 1983 song “E.T. I Love You” as a single, offering it to radio stations only despite a favorable response from Steven Spielberg. Buckner & Garcia returned to Atlanta and rejoined the radio business; they wrote and recorded several more novelty ditties over the years, and began selling them as the self-produced album Now and Then off their website around the turn of the millennium. Retro-fueled interest in early video games also prompted the duo to re-record the Pac-Man Fever album for its first release on CD.

Apparently, everyone who’s bought the CD version of the record on Amazon is completely pissed off that they weren’t getting this original version — the way it’s being sold is a little misleading. It’s likely that because they couldn’t get CBS (or whatever parent company owns its catalogue now) to spend a dime re-releasing such a kitschy turd, they had to come up with different recordings of the same eight limp songs. I haven’t heard the “new” versions, but if they’re even a single percentage point worse than these originals, I’d recommend not tracking it down.

Just to warn you: when I was ripping Side Two of this LP onto CD, the CD recorder messed up the first time, so I had to do it over again; I was so repulsed at the thought of having to listen to the song “The Defender” a second time that I quickly fled the room.

Buckner & Garcia – “Pac-Man Fever” LP (ZIP file)

100 FLOWERS – “100 YEARS OF PULCHRITUDE”

The fiery L.A. punk band The Urinals chose to change their name in 1980 to 100 Flowers after they decided they wanted to play shows in a variety of different venues, but not necessarily with such a sour moniker. I’m not sure it would’ve made any difference, for the music of 100 Flowers is quite uncompromising and abrupt, just like any classic punk band, only with a more emotional or Fall-like approach. This is music made by quivering white kids, no doubt.

The “100 Years” discography CD was issued by Rhino in the early ’90s, and I’m not sure if it’s still available through all the regular channels.

100 Flowers – “100 Years Of Pulchritude” CD (ZIP file)

SILBERBART – “4 TIMES SOUND RAZING” (1971)

This epic slab of German prog was first introduced to me by the Reverend Magog, curator of the Beer And Jesus Archives. His last appearance on my radio show a few years ago yielded a spin of “Brain Brain”, a psychotic sonata by Silberbart, who only put out this one album in ’71. Of this album that’s truly legendary in prog nerd circles, Dag Erik Asbjørnsen, author of “Cosmic Dreams At Play: A Guide To German Progressive and Electronic Rock”, sez:

This album contained just four songs: ‘Chub Chub Cherry’ (a short heavy rock song which sounded like a freaky version of Cream), ‘Brain Brain’ (16 minutes of acid nightmares, continuously shifting tempo in an amphetamine-driven mayhem), ‘God’ (a much more melodic attempt with powerful guitar arrangement, sounding like Black Sabbath meet Hendrix with a collective paranoia) and ‘Head Tear Of The Drunken Sun’ (finished it all with 12 minutes of hazardous power trio pyrotechnics). As you will have gathered, this is an extreme album in many ways: the raw power, the cranky vocals, the restless arrangements, not forgetting the ugly silver gnome on the front sleeve! All trace of Silberbart disappeared after this album, which in itself gained them no recognition at all. A real shame, as some of their ideas were quite remarkable. Silberbart were a true power trio.

Each of the four tracks holds it own separate geeky pleasures, my favorites of them being the brief creepy titular chorus of “Chub Chub Cherry” and the rockin’ bridge of “Head Tear…” that comes in for about one minute, at around three minutes in…

Silberbart – “4 Times Sound Razing” LP (ZIP file)

LES VAMPYRETTES – “BIOMUTANTEN” 12″ (1981)

This spooky slab was an early-’80s collaboration between Can’s Holger Czukay, and producer/knob twiddler Conny Plank (the man behind the board for most of Kraftwerk’s seminal work, as well as Devo’s “Q: Are We Not Men…” album). The title “Biomutanten” is a perfect description of the squelchy organic-sounding weirdness of these two tunes, and the sound of it all bears a closer resemblance to Plank’s work with Moebius at the time, rather than Czukay’s 1980 solo album “Movies”.

Also, I must say, I absolutely love Google’s “automatic translation” feature, since it doesn’t so much “translate” as it does “make Dadaist poetry out of seemingly innocuous elements.” There’s little info on the “Biomutanten” 12″ out there on the Web, and one of the few things I did find about the record elsewhere was something written in French on a blog from a few years ago. Here’s how Google “translated” it (the entry makes reference to “woebot”, which is a music blog of the same name that contained a Les Vampyrettes entry a few years back):

When I would have 5mn I would also say that Vampyrettes, it is not badly like disc but from there to make of it a cheese like our friend woebot… Mainly I say that to see whether one can the détrôner in Google on research Vampyrettes. Because, instead of Vampyrettes, there are especially researchers of words of to the favour of the autumn. Therefore, Vampyrettes. Vampyrettes I repeat it.

Les Vampyrettes – “Biomutaten” 12″ (ZIP file)

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759 Responses to STIFFS LIVE / PAC-MAN FEVER / 100 FLOWERS / SILBERBART / LES VAMPYRETTES

  1. Scott says:

    I came to ECR post-Post Punk Junk, so I really appreciate you putting these up.

    I can’t wait to listen to these! Except maybe Pac Man Fever. Maybe I can wait a little while for that one…

    Cheers!

  2. James says:

    100 Years Of Pulchritude turns up in the cheap bins from time to time (I’m guessing a distributor, or Rhino themselves, remaindered a warehouse full at some point). I paid about $3 for a still-sealed copy at a cororate chain store around 2000. I don’t think it’s currently in print.

    Mayve I should be embarassed to admit it, but I got a strange kick out of “Centipede” from the Buckner and Garcia record, when I downloaded the LP from Post Punk Junk. It transcends the concept (in a bargain basement sort of manner) and reaches a sublime level of goofiness. Or something. Hearing a grown man cooing in a baby-talk voice to an insect he is about to exterminate can have that effect. If I’m listening after too many cups of coffee.

  3. Smoggo says:

    so true…pac-man fever is the worst piece of shit ever…when someone gave me an original copy via thrift store i was elated…until i put it the needle to the groove. yuck!

  4. Dude says:

    that translation is too funny. “Vampyrettes I repeat it.”

  5. Dude says:

    Vampyrettes I repeat it. Too funny.

  6. mcspicious says:

    ..maybe in LA you can find 100 Flowers but not here in Chicago…have looked a long time on the interweb too, no dice. As for Hawkwind, Martin Popoff”s Guide to Heavy Metal does a pretty good job sorting out the “real” records, The Illustrated Collector’s Guide to Hawkwind, less so…eMusic has a lot of the dodgier stuff to sample…

  7. Phill says:

    Silberbart is fucking nuts.

  8. spencer says:

    the wreckless eric live songs are sahweeet!

  9. Thank you SO much for the Silberbart album. This is the most striking, original music I have heard in ages… Good keerist they just don’t make them like that anymore…

    RADIO ZERO

  10. Ajax says:

    I strongly disagree with your assessment of Pac-Man Fever.

  11. This is a great and very informative blog I tried this the other week after I saw it advertised and you sum it up right.. Just brilliant!!

  12. .maybe in LA you can find 100 Flowers but not here in Chicago…have looked a long time on the interweb too, no dice. As for Hawkwind, Martin Popoff”s Guide to Heavy Metal does a pretty good job sorting out the “real” records, The Illustrated Collector’s Guide to Hawkwind, less so…eMusic has a lot of the dodgier stuff to sample

  13. tim barrett says:

    100 FLOWERS is very high quality punk – don’t know how I went 30 years without knowing of them, but now you’ve fixed that! (-: