Tuesday, March 2, 2010

More Early 90's Flashbacks

Awhile ago, I was looking for a tape. I grabbed this mix tape my friend Kirsten made in 1994 (most of it is from 1990-92). The tape has a bunch of Nirvana demos. Tonight was the first time I've really listened to Nirvana in I dunno...14 years? I discovered them through KZSC with their killer song "Negative Creep". More about station here I caught the last half of the song one night. I though "Who DOES this?!?...Damn, this is AWESOME!" While I've heard them sporatically in recent years - Noteably my friend Bill on KZSU playing a bootleg version "Teen Spirit" with Kurt telling the audience it's just a rip off of Boston's "More Than A Feeling" which they also play a few bars from.

My friend Kirsten was the only person I ever knew that was in the Sub-Pop collector's club. She was also the only one I ever knew that liked Bang Tango , Sisters of Mercy AND Mudhoney. Her & I were friends from the SJSU's radio station, KSJS. I met her in September '91 she was wearing a Nirvana shirt just right before they blew up all over MTV. I told that I liked them too. It was hard at first to find people who liked the same music as me. Not so much at the radio station but the gangsta rap lovin' (mostly) white jock/wannabe frat boy contingent in the dorm wasn't exactly receptive to say, Dinosaur Jr. much less Napalm Death or Japanese noise.

Kirsten was into all of the other Seattle & Sub-Pop bands (even Pearl Jam and Mother Love Bone....yeesh!) and we talked about that a lot. At the same time she was also into a lot of what the station was playing: The Pixies, KMFDM, Foetus, Ride, Lush, Swervedriver and a bunch more. She was a lot fun to be around while we never dated we got to hang out a lot at the station and at shows. She wore Doc Martens and had long straight hair which she usually dyed black or various shades of red & purple. Not that I gave a crap about being trendy or "hip" but she was ahead of the curve on that whole thing. Oddly enough, the very practical clothes worn by punk & metalheads - i.e. Docs and flannel shirts did become trendy, "hot commodities" for jocks and trend zombies. We got to hang out a bunch of shows at the Cactus Club, Marsugi's - which I went to about 3 weekends in a row and One Step Beyond.

Back to the tape - as part of the Collector's Club, Kirsten got a lot of rare b-side tracks in her collection. She wrote me a list of them: Unsane, Fluid, Urge Overkill, and Flour

She also had the very awesome "Another Damned Seattle Compilation" which was all Seattle area bands covering songs by The Damned. (Ex: Love Battery, The Fluid, Gas Huffer). I heard this album in between bands at the amazing 5 band bill of
Quicksand/Gray Matter (D.C.)/Hammerhead/Melvins/Helmet. While not perfect (as in far too many wannabe AliceinPearlGardenPilots bands) San Jose shows in '92-'93 usually even played good music in between bands. I heard most of the Pixies "Trompe Le Monde" one night at Marsugi's, the Cactus Club would put on the ld Target videos on their overhead video monitor in between bands. You could sit at the bar and watch Black Flag and D.O.A. Even better, my friend Matt once saw a Target Video of MDC circa 1982 the same night he was went to see MDC in 1992! To think in that in the land of ultra lounges and "every 4-6 months there might be a show worth seeing" there used to be quality live bands playing at least 2-3 times a month. Sometimes on the same night and across the street from one another. That said, Kirsten & I were part of the same 20 people that went to (almost) every Sleep show in San 'Ho.

Anyway, the Coffin Breakcover of "Love Song" is killer. Very close to the original but still with a few variations. Check out their song "Kill The President" poppy & sarcastic as fuck. Bush the elder is on the cover of the 7". Then "Just Say To Religion" is not that far off from early Corrosion of Conformity. Their Sabbath cover "Hole in The Sky" is pretty ace, too. Any band that can rip it up on Sabbath and The Damned covers has my approval.

The rest of tape is filled with Urge Overkill and Afghan Whigs (more on them later).
Urge Overkill started like a Big Black-type of band - big harsh percussive and often punishing (their first EP is suuuper rare). They later turned into a pretty straight up hard rock/power pop band. If you hear "The Kids Are Insane" you'd swear the vocalists was Gene Simmons. And hell, "The Candidate"also sounds like KISS if they had Neil Young's Crazy Horse backing them. I forgot about somewhere around '94 when they did the dodgy song for the so-so Tarntino movie "Pulp Fiction". Really Urge was a friggin' arena rock band with a smaller budget not a bad thing, for the time but this era did give way to utter kack like greenapplequickstep and Paw.

The Afghan Whigsstuff was really good. Like Urge Overkill, their first release is really dirty and unkempt very unlike what they later evolved into. Kirsten gave me 5 tracks from "Congregation" (1992) and "Gentlemen" (1994) which is mid-paced, swaggery but laden with catchy chourses. Lyrically they were pretty much about drugs ("I'm Her Slave") and random shit "Turn On The Water" (I think it might be a drug OD reference) which had a crazy video of the band sitting in a bathtub while flooding an apartment. The song is pretty loose and funky. The rest is often in the similar direction. Good stuff that's got a decent amount of staying power.

Kirsten & I had a Media Studies class with Professor Baran. Baran was always a fun professor. He had a really thick Boston accent which sometimes was hard to figure out. He knew how to entertain the class often to the point of going over the edge.
In his smaller classes he would often tell severely un-P.C. jokes about Polish & Italian people.

Professor Baran: (Towards girl in the front row of class):
"Are you Italian?"
Girl: "Yeah..."
Professor Baran: "Oh, I thouat so...I kin call by yah mustache!"
Class: "Ohh...! Whoah!"
Professor Baran" "My motha's Italian!"

Having said that he always told the person he was joking. Still it was a bit out of order I'd say. Suprisingly, there were no students that railed against him or called for his firing. Now if this was UC-Berkeley or UC-Santa Cruz things would've been a shit storm of speech codes. I loved that SJSU wasn't really uptight yet in general people weren't bigots either. I became way more aware of the world going to school here. Yet it was considered a "3rd rate" after the more prestigious Stanford and Berkeley.

Kirsten & I were in a class of about 200 people. Prof. Baran used a 48" TV to show videos. For the section on "Violence & The Media" he had us watch "The Simpsons". "I only showin' ya this 'cause I know it's infAMitive for yah!" He joked. (It's the episode where Marge complains about "Itchy & Scracthy"). During that winter semester I saw a lot of shows at the San Jose's best "hole in the wall" club - Marsugi's. I got hammered with Kirsten & her lovely lady friends on kamakizes while watching the Seattle punk band Zip Gun & the San Diego kinda-grunge band, Olivelawn. The latter did their semi-hit "Hate Makes The World Go 'Round" later covered by local power-poppers, Overwhelming Colorfast. Marsugi's was the size of a cheap but decent sized apartment. The stage was a scant 4" off the ground. Think Thee Parkside cut in half. Lots of bands played here: Gwar (who sprayed their red "blood" everywhere), Mudhoney and even some band whose name rhymes with "bin-ana".

Kirsten & I continued to see each other at shows and around the station in this time. We ended up having some friends in common and made mix tapes of the various Nirvana bootlegs & Melvins stuff we each had. (At one point I had 4 different Nirvana bootleg singles). She ended up dating and eventually marrying, Jon, a who was the production director at KSJS. He was also in our friend Jody's band - Jennifer Rambles On. Looking over my live show list, I saw Jennifer Rambles seven times between December 1991-May 1993. I didn't even like their vocals much (kinda bordering on Smashing Pumpkins) but the combo of Jody's bass and Jon pounding drums made them really worth watching.

I fell out of touch with her after she graduated in the first half of 1994. In the early 2000s I read a few things about her & John's band Andalusia. The weekend of 9/11/01. I saw them play at the Works Gallery on North First Street in downtown S.J. They played a great show - often ethereal tracks that moved from introspective to full on loud-ass jams. They played with a bunch of video projections showing "Un Chine Andelou" and "Freaks". I caught up with them a lot and also a few months later I got them booked on KZSU's Wednesday Night Live. I tried contacting them a few weeks after that since they lived nearby but their website hasn't been updated since November 2003.

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