THE POP GROUP – various live stuff, more 1980
Trouser Press sez it all:
“The seminal Bristol band synthesizes Beefheartian structures and tribal dance beats to create a didactic soundtrack that barely lets you breathe. Their two primary albums are alternately brilliant and intolerable, with exhortatory songs like ‘Feed the Hungry,’ ‘Rob a Bank’ and ‘Communicate’…[d]espite the limitations of their own records, the Pop Group made their influence strongly felt, both as credible rock minimalists ahead of their time and via the members’ subsequent musical ventures. Bassist Simon Underwood helped found Pigbag; multi-instrumentalist Gareth Sager formed Rip Rig + Panic; singer Mark Stewart is well known under his own name.”
These live tracks are just what Trouser Press mentions: funky and intolerable. Enjoy.
“ROKK Ã REYKJAVIK” soundtrack (1982)
The film in question here was an Icelandic version of “The Decline Of Western Civilization”. In the past, it’s only been available in the U.S. as an import VHS, but I’ve not yet heard of any plans for it here on DVD.
“It took punk two years to travel across the Atlantic all the way to Iceland back in 1979…”Rokk Ã ReykjavÃk” is an ambitious 2CD-compilation that gives you a great overview of the ReykjavÃk-anarcho-scene as it contains contributions from lots of different punk-bands ranging from many different directions. It was recorded in 1982, when the era was about to fade and a lot of bands split up. You’ll find some quite traditional, left-wing-radical UK-type three-chords-aggro-stuff performed by bands such as Vonbridgi and Fraebbblarnir. Some other bands are heading in a more pop-oriented, guitar-solo-based direction. The…BjÃ¶rk-fronted Tappi TÃkarrass adds elements of funk and jazz to their music, which makes it a good counterpart to the more traditional UK-oriented acts. Another band worth mentioning is Q4U, a riot-grrrl-combo in the vein of Siouxsie & the Banshees, with very humourous lyrics. “Rokk Ã ReykjavÃk” also contains contributions from some experimental, freaked-out surrealist acts like SjÃ¡lsfrÃ³un and Purkur Pillnikk, fronted by a very young Einar Ã–rn Benediktsson (later with The Sugarcubes…
Some of the best songs are performed by the band Theyr, which featured the drummer Siggtryggur BaldursonÂ (later with The Sugarcubes), as well as oneÂ actual former Killing Joke-member. Their music is slower and more gothic-oriented compared to the other punk-acts and the singer has an audible David Bowie-complex…My definitive favorite on the album though, is the dark, haunting andÂ heavily Joy Division-influencedÂ ”Where are the bodies” performed by post-punkers Bodies. The song was recently covered by Utangardsmenn, the most popular rock-band in Iceland today and it’s so advanced I’m surprised it didn’t give Bodies a breakthrough outside their native country. The CD-version of “Rokk Ã ReykjavÃk” contains one piece by oddball noise-avant-gardist Bruni BB and some traditional Icelandic Middle Age chanting by SveinbjÃ¶rn Beinteinsson, the founder of the Icelandic pagan-worshipping community.”
Somehow, even though I clearly remember copying everything from the 2xCD, there’s three missing tracks, so what’s below is about 90% complete.
THE STRANGLERS – live in Toronto, Canada, 1980
Two things I noticed: 1) “Dead Loss Angeles”, originally found on “The Raven” (1979), is one of my new favorite Stranglers songs; and 2), the Toronto radio station’s intro to the set uses the tagline “The spirit of radio!” to promote the station. This was in 1980. Rush’s album “Permanent Waves” also came out in 1980. Its leadoff song is called “The Spirit of Radio”. Rush were from Toronto. A + B = C!
RIB BIB – “MY IOYEY IST FUYUY” EP (2006)
For a while, I was in four bands at once. Sounds fun in theory, but in reality it was way too hectic, with scheduling rehearsals, shows and all. One time, three of the four bands had shows all in the same week. This led to a bit of burn-out on my part, but none of these bands are dead — some of them are just on hiatus. Rib Bib was kinda like Mission Of Burma meets Cluster, with a more genteel version of Wayne/Jane County fronting it. It was two basses, electronic drums, and my ex, in drag, as the lead singer — tension galore!
DAVID BOWIE – live on “Musikladen”, 5.21.78
A killer band backed Bowie for his “Low And Heroes” world tour in ‘78, including guitarists Carlos Alomar and Adrian Belew. While in Germany, Bowie and the band laid down a 45-minute set for the television show “Musikladen”. My favorite performances from this gig are “Heroes”, “TVC15″ and the opening instrumental “Sense Of Doubt”. The “Alabama Song” cover is also pretty lame.
THE PIPKINS – “GIMME DAT DING!” (1970)
The Pipkins were the grandfathers of Gorillaz — a 1970s cartoon band never meant to exist in the flesh, salve
instead taking shape only in playful album form. I guess you could call The Pipkins a novelty act, online but such a tag would diminish the truly psychotic nature of this record. Here, the uneasy blend of funk, honky-tonk, Herb Alpert cheese and Wolfman Jack vocals makes for a great cock-eyed listen.
From the online record store website of BadCat Records:
“The early-’70s saw an explosion of English pop acts hit the American charts. One of the odder entries were The Pipkins. The brainchild of producer John Burgess, The Pipkins were a one-shot studio entity built around the talents of singers Tony Burrows, Roger Greenaway and writers Albert Hammond and Mike Hazelwood.
The concept actually started out as a paid commission. In 1970 Hammond and Hazelwood were asked to write a song for the UK children’s television show Oliver and the Underworld. The goofy ‘Gimme That Ding’ attracted considerable attention, Columbia Records even electing to release it as a single. With Capitol acquiring American distribution rights, ‘Gimme Dat Ding’ b/w ‘To Love You’ (Capitol catalog number 2819), enjoyed a similar reaction domestically, eventually going top-10. More than willing to jump aboard The Pipkins bandwagon, Capitol wasted little time releasing a supporting album. Produced by Burgess, the cleverly titled ‘Gimme Dat Ding’ is pretty hard to adequately describe. Imagine Edison Lighthouse or White Plains-styled British pop, but speeded up to 90 rpm with running commentary from Wolfman Jack (Burrows furnished the bass voices), and you’ll get a feel for tracks such as ‘Sunny Honey Girl’ and ‘My Baby Loves Lovin’ ‘. Add a dollop of English music hall influences (’Busy Line’ and ‘Are You Cookin’ Goose?’) and you’ll start to get the idea. The album actually managed to hit #132 in the States.”
NICK GILDER – “YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE” (1977)
Nick Gilder left his post as singer for the Canadian band Sweeney Todd in the mid ’70s in order to kickstart his solo career, and his first album was “You Know Who You Are”, a sugary collection that unfortunately came too late, as glam was quckly evaporating by ‘77 — hell, even T. Rex went a little harder-edged at the time with his final record “Dandy In The Underworld”.
Gilder’s voice is truly strange, in that he sounds more girlie than Diana Ross. He’s got a ridiculously high vocal range, and it’s most curiously on display for “Tantalize”, a swirling synthy piece of craziness that got me hooked on the rest of the record right away. I first heard it when it was played for me by a fellow KXLU DJ years and years ago. He briefly flashed me the cover art and briefly whispered one word, “Tantalize!”, before he played the track in question. Its “Fox On The Run”-style intro was undeniably strong, and it took me another few years to track the LP down, since I could never remember the name of its singer —
NOICE – “TonÃ¥rsdrÃ¶mmar” (1979?)
Noice were a Swedish adolescent punk pop band who debuted in 1979 with this album, “Tonasdrommar”. Subsequent records went in a more New Wave direction, leaving the leather jacket look behind. The album’s vocals are surprisingly well-rendered, harmonies and all. Not sure if the kids wrote any of the material themselves, or if they had the whole affair shephered by a Kim Fowley-type character, because a Noice fan page I found claims:
“Noice got their key to success by winning the rockband competition ‘ROCK 79′. They were contracted by the record company Sonet and the music publisher/producer Ola HÃ¥kansson. He believed in their talent and helped them releasing their first single.”
VARIOUS ARTISTS – “HAPPINESS OF THE KATAKURIS” soundtrack (2001)
Japanese film director Takashi Miike is a unique bird. Stylistically, he’s a loose amalgam of John Carpenter, Fassbinder and Russ Meyer. Yeah — you heard me. The British website Midnight Eye, currently the most well-thought-out resource on current Japanese film anywhere (in English) on the web, puts it like this:
“Takashi Miike hardly requires introduction anymore. His sudden rise to fame over the course of 2000, when his films ‘Dead or Alive’ and ‘Audition’ made the rounds of international film festivals leaving audiences shell-shocked in their wake, proves the impact of his quite extraordinary work. Miike is one of a rare breed: a director with originality and a truly unique vision on his art and the world. He has walked the tightrope between the artistic and the pragmatic for [fifteen] years now with hardly a misstep, an amazing feat considering he has directed more than  films.”
The working conditions on most Japanese films are the complete opposite of the bloated lethargic Hollywood way of doing things. Principal photography on nearly all of Miike’s features usually takes three weeks straight (with no days off); it’s how he’s able to produce such a ridiculously large body of work. With such a short timeframe, and with the same genre conventions overlapping in many of his films, Miike builds in left-field stylistic loopholes that make it clearly known that he’s in this to have fun, in spite of the creative obstacles moviemaking can throw at whoever’s at the helm.
This is none more apparent than in Miike’s first musical, the frenetic “Night of the Living Dead”-meets-”Sound of Music” non-stop nonsense of “Happiness of the Katakuris”, a remake of the Korean horror/comedy “The Quiet Family”. Claymation, impromptu J-Pop and karaoke numbers, zombies, non-sequiturs, and one very, very big sumo wrestler’s corpse all make for an unsettling good time — and unfortunately, the soundtrack has no American or European release. I’m not sure what effect listening to these tracks without knowing the film will have, but hopefully this will make you not only spend with the film the bestest ninety minutes of your 2007, but it’ll also make you seek out some of Miike’s other films.
PLASTIC BERTRAND – “CA PLANE POUR MOI” (1978)
This album is sure to make any frown turn upside-down. Most everybody I mention Plastic Bertrand to have no idea who I’m talking about, even when I say “You remember, from that scene in ‘National Lampoon’s European Vacation’, when they’re running through the Louvre? You know — that song that’s playing…?” But everyone, once they’ve heard the title track, picks up on it pretty quickly.
Trouser Press sez:
“One of the first punk gag records and still one of the greatest, ‘Ã‡a Plane pour Moi’ was a major European hit in late ‘77 and early ‘78, launching the career of blond Belgian pretty boy Roger Jouret, aka Plastic Bertrand. Scuttlebutt at the time claimed Bertrand was the invention of some anonymous French studio pranksters; in fact, Jouret had already played drums in an earlier Belgian punk trio called Hubble Bubble (whose one LP was notable for a trashy cover of the Kinks’ “I’m Not Like Everybody Else”). Together with producer/songwriter Lou Deprijck, he created the persona of Plastic Bertrand, a jolly satire on the safety-pin image and jackhammer crunch of punk.
‘Ã‡a Plane pour Moi’ (’This Life’s for Me’) is truly great dumbness â€” Bertrand singing verbose, seemingly nonsensical French lyrics over a classic three-chord Ramones roar with Spectorish saxes and a winning falsetto “oooh-weee-oooh” on the chorus. [The album] also contains more of the hilarious same â€” a spirited remake of the Small Faces’ ‘Sha La La La Lee’ and ‘Wha! Wha!,’ wherein Bertrand does barnyard animal imitations.”
In the face of this, I was surprised that there was more than this one album; Bertrand churned out enough stuff over the years to even have a greatest-hits package CD! But this album is a tight, quick romp, with all the songs based around a similar 1-2-3-4, 1-2-3-4, 1-2-3-4 snare smack. I also appreciated the goofy sax work throughout. Before long, all the songs here will have you singing along, even if you have no idea what the words are.