Archive for the '80s' Category

“You sold the cottage” by Martha and the Muffins

martha.jpgBefore another month goes by, I have to make another post. I have many on deck, and a big project to procrastinate from, so I’m hoping to squeeze in a few posts this week before we go on vacation the first week of August. & on the cusp of something great is the perfect time to post about Martha & the Muffins (later M+M), one of the greatest Canadian bands of all time. & that’s saying a lot.

This track, from their 3rd LP, This is the Ice Age,  is one of my favorites, and demonstrates their keen attention to sound. Their albums are so amazingly mixed it gives me goosebumps to listen to them. Also, this album’s cover is just gorgeous in every detail, down to the tiny typography.

This is the Muffin’s first album produced my Daniel Lanois, the production genuis– he happened to be the brother of Jocylene, the band’s new bassist. Lanois, with Brian Eno, is responsible for blowing the world’s mind with the production on the Joshua Tree. The band eventually had 2 Marthas (!) and even featured Tim “not that Tim Gane” Gane and his brother Mark. Talented siblings.

Martha & The Muffins, “You sold the cottage” from the This is the Ice Age LP on Virgin (1981).

You should pick up a copy of the reissued Danceparc cd ASAP.

Here’s a video of the group performing “Echo Beach,” from their first album.

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/CyzsBqk8u1w" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

 & a mix I recently made featuring their great track “Cheesies & Gum” about 1/3rd of the way in (track 6).

“Subways” by Urban Verbs

urban.jpgUrban Verbs reunited recently. My friend Haley told me in advance. I was meaning to post this a while before Haley, outta nowhere, asked me about them. NPR has a recording of the show. A good band that you can learn about here. The fact everyone will tell you bout them is that this is Chris Frantz’ (Talking Head/Tom Tom Club/Producer of less-popular Happy Mondays albums)’s little brother Roddy’s band. I bet they hate hearing that all the time. The baggies of water on this cover freak me out a bit; don’t like thinking about wet photos.

Urban Verbs, “Subways” from their self-titled LP on Warner Brothers (1980)

Guess where I usually am when I think about this song?[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/tebluTKKTAQ" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

“Sunny Day,” by Pigbag

pigbag.jpgPigbag is an absurdly funky post-punk ensemble. I ripped this track (the version from the Stiff US 12″) recently for a mix I listened to while training for the 2008 Buffalo Marathon (which I ran last week and got a PR of 3:44!). It’s got all the Pigbag trappings, frenetic funky beat, horn blasts, and countless changes. Theses guys are tight.

I was prompted to post this track this yesterday when I saw that the always fantastic Fantod Under Glass has made available a live Pigbag LP that I didn’t even know existed. Head on over and check it out.

More on Pigbag here. This band has been getting ripped off for years, but somehow still sounds incredibly fresh.

Pigbag, “Sunny Day,” from the 12″ single on Stiff Records (1981)
[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/tDRPfHxSvlo" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

“And He Descended into Hell” by Microdisney

crooked.jpgA strange, downtempo, twangy number from Microdisney, which feaures Sean O’Hagan of The High Llamas and Turn On (and, frequently, of Stereolab).

This album will feel familiar to any High Llamas fans, as it includes many lush arrangements of strangely-worded pop songs. Plenty of banjo as well. What’s a little strange about it is that the songs sound almost like they’re trying to be conventional… something I think O’Hagan is incapable of. I wonder if that’s the major label influence.

The first time I came across this album was in the mid 90s at School Kids Records in Carrboro, NC. There was a title card for them in the CD stacks, but no discs. I later found this LP at a store in Cleveland, and noticed Sean O’Hagain was involved. Needless to say, I think $1.99 was a deal.

Microdisney, “And He Descended Into Hell” from the Crooked Mile LP on Virgin Records (1987)

Phantom Tollbooth two-fer

tollbooth.jpgA few days ago, I went on a long walk on Brooklyn in search of some clementines. I ended up getting some at a produce stand in Cobble Hill, which is separated from my neighborhood by the Gowanus Canal, a filthy, opaque body of water that fills with poop when it rains. Jonathan Lethem called it the only body of water in the world that’s 90% guns in Motherless Brooklyn.

Anyway, when I was walking across it, I was reminded by Phantom Tollbooth‘s song “Down by the Gowanus,” and here it is, a fittingly fractured, sludgey ode to the canal. It’s short, so I’ve also included the brief instro freakout “Circle of Wolves.”

I’m sure someone could prove me wrong on this, but I think that Homestead Records pretty much ruled the late 80s– I’m only appreciating how much this is true in hindsight. Most everything they but out but the Dinosaur Jr/Sebadoh/Big Black stuff bored me to tears back then. Maybe this is grown up rock.

Phantom Tollbooth, “Down By The Gowanus” from the Power Toy LP on Homestead Records (1987)

Phantom Tollbooth, “Circle of Wolves” from the Power Toy LP on Homestead Records (1987)

3 solo works by Pere Ubu’s David Thomas

Due to some irritating computer problems across three systems, I’ve been unable to post lately. Sorry for the delay. I hope, in the mean time, you’ve found that I’ve posted many great new music blogs to the Now Rock N Roll Now! section of the sidebar. Click through to find some great tracks.

vocal.jpgToday’s post brings together three tracks from Pere Ubu frontman David Thomas. The first two tracks are from the Vocal Performances 12″, and they suggest that Thomas may have been a bit reigned-in by the structure of Pere Ubu. The “Sloop John B” cover is just strange, and sounds like it was recorded secretly in a public place. The version of “Petrified” (which also appears, in a more fleshed out vein, on Songs of the Bailing Man) is a bit more engaging, but still feels like it was made for an empty audience. I think the sleeve for this disc is a masterpiece of graphic design.

David Thomas “Sloop John B,” from the Vocal Performances 12″ on Rough Trade Records, 1981

David Thomas “Petrified,” from the Vocal Performances 12″ on Rough Trade Records, 1981

moreplaces.jpgThe third track in this post is David Thomas amongst friends, including Pere’s Tony Maimone on Bass. It’s more of a groover in the off-kilter Pere Ubu style.

David Thomas & The Pedestrians “Enthusiastic,” from the More Places Forever LP on Rough Trade Records, 1985

Relately and belatedly, RIP Jim Jones.

“Rainbow” by Jerry Adams

adams.jpgSmooth reggae groove with some nice synthy effects. Honestly, though, I just think this one is a great song.

This one is also produced by T.T., who I noted in drnrn!’s first real post. I’ve managed to track down several other cuts produced by this guy, and I’ll post some more soon. This, I think, is the most traditional one I’ve got.

Jerry Adams, “Rainbow” from the Tuff Beat 12″(1980)

“Back Too Black” by Keith Levene

levene.jpg btooback.jpg

Strange white-vinyl EP from PiL’s (and early Clash member) Keith Levene released about a year after he left the group. I had to post both the front and back cover images because I love the picture of him with the boombox. You really get the sense that he’s going it alone until you realize someone had to take that shot.

Levene left PiL over disagreements during the recording of their breakthrough This Is What You Want… This Is What You Get (which was rerecorded after Levene’s departure). Levene released his versions of the songs on Commercial Zone. This is pretty much where PiL changed course, from great post-punk band to pretty-great pop band. I still got love for you, late 80s/early 90s PiL!

But my loyalty lies with the originals like Levene and Jah Wobble, who continued to release interesting, funky, and inspired music well after their PiL years. This rough and dubby track is representative of the whole EP, which lived on a Penelope Spheeris movie soundtrack and on his Violent Opposition album.

Keith Levene, “Back Too Black” from the 2011 Back Too Black LP on (1984)
Keith and Jon Lydon on Tom Snyder’s Tomorrow Show (around the release of Second Edition, I believe):[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/uc3KDmX96jw" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

“Nadine” by Kevin Dunn

independents.jpgStrange, fuzz-rock cover of the Chuck Berry Classic from the guy who produced Pylon’s “Cool” and co-produced the B52s’ “Rock Lobster.”

 

The backing vocals on this sound different to me every time I hear them. Some great out-of-control noises on this one as well. Based on this recording, I bought a copy of Kevin Dunn’s C’est toujours la meme guitare LP, but it was shattered when it arrived in the post.  If anyone has this album, I’d LOVE a rip of it.

 

Kevin Dunn, “Nadine” from the A Declaration of Independents compilation LP on Ambition records (1981)

“The Man in the Dark Sedan” by Snakefinger

snake.jpgSnakefinger is lauded for his masterful guitar work, but I think his real genius lays in his ideas about percussion. This album, and this track in particular, give you a taste of that.

A frequent collaborator with the Residents, Snakefinger appears on most of their most recognizable recordings, like “Eskimo” and Tunes of Two Cities. He was set to lay down tracks in 1987 on the Residents’ God in 3 Persons album (which ruined my mind forever when I was 13), but he died of a heart attck while performing on stage just before the sessions.

Snakefinger,”The Man in the Dark Sedan,” from the Greener Postures LP on Ralph Records (1980)