Monday, December 19, 2011

Favorite Live Shows of 2011

This year was a bit different in that I saw far more things outside the usual Heavy Metal scene which while I saw a good bit of, I also got quite burnt out on. Though, I was excited about discovering older bands. (More on that in the Best Records List, coming soon). Also, there was a big lack of hardcore/punk shows. Well, there's another thing I didn't catch up on a lot save MRR and the weekly read through of Terminal Boredom.  Still, I did see both Saxon and Motörhead, along with the triumphant return from Noothgrush. So, here's a bunch of gigs in no order of preference: 

1) Motörhead/Clutch at The Warfield - February 2nd -  Clutch was pretty damn rockin' but more importantly Motörhead played nearly everything I wanted them to play and I made eye contact with Lemmy & was a mere 20 or so feet away from him! So, can't complain...other than their $40 shirts. 

2) SWANS at The Regency - March 1st. First time I've ever seen a show here, big venue and pretty pricey ticket through the usual ticketbastard but this place worked great for Michael Gira & co. who were one of the heaviest/loudest shows I've ever seen. (Next to Iron Maiden in 1985 & Foetus Inc. in 1991).  Plus, it was great to see the first band that really made me explore things outside the Heavy Metal and Hardcore/Punk.

3) Hans Keller/Spectrum at the Blank Club, April 25th. I recognized one of the Hans Keller  feller on keyboards & f/x from a few other shows in SJ in recent years & from Good Karma Vegan cafe. Really neat psych band that’s been going for awhile. Spectrum (featuring Sonic Boom of Spacemen 3) did a bunch of their ol' faves: “Honey”, an fast & fuzzed out version of Spacemen 3's “Revolution”, his own purty 'lil tune: “How Does It Feel” and so on all to a sparse but very enthusiastic crowd. Every once in a blue moon San Jose "gets it" and this night was one of them. 

4) Amber Asylum/Wolvserpent at Thee ParksideMay 17th  Amber Asylum never disappoints with their sullen neo-classical sound. This time with just 3 members (Sarah R-B on violin/viola, Leila also from Hammers of Misfortune and Vastum on guitar/keyboard & occasion vocals and founder Kris Force on violin, vocals & samples) they sounded fantastic. Onward to Wolvserpent- this band I intially thought from the stuff I read would be just another doom/drone act. Yet the duo of Blake Green and Brittany McConnell worked in the way someone such as Swans do with "maximal minimalism" and stretched out two-three notes in a hypnotic fashion. Amber Asylum did another great set at The Elbo Room in early November (with a bunch of pretty good Black/Doom Metal bands - Fell Voices, Ash Borer & Lycus) with what looked like dueling violins for a few moments from Sarah & Kris along with some neat visuals from outer & inner space.

5) Andre Williams at The Hemlock, June 25th. Heard this announced on KFJC a bunch the week before and figured first the guy's an absolute ROCK n' ROLL/SOUL KING on par with James Brown and George Clinton and I'm gonna see 'em for a scant $12 at the friggin' Hemlock! A definite can't miss gig which turned out to be filled with many kinds of greatness - Williams & co possessed pure showmanship and a level of ribaldry on par with Russ Meyer's "Faster Pussycat, Kill! Kill!". Lots of tunes that were lewd but not crude and 100%  energy at every turn. The backing back was the pretty swingin' and often twangy openers, Jail Weddings from L.A. I also hugely recommend the documentary,  Agile, Mobile, Hostile: A Year With Andre Williams from 2008 which you can view here

 6) Earth at the Catalyst on July 21. Went down to Santa Cruz with a friend on a whim for this. A beautiful foggy night down the coast that mixed very well with Dylan Carson's languid, twang. Some French-Canadian openers whose name escapes me had a great bass tone but song-wise they were pretty snoozy. Only shitty thing was the way-too loud reggae band upstairs. Ugh. 

7) Dirty Ghosts/White Hills/Carlton Melton at The Rickshaw Stop, Sept. 15th.  Dirty Ghosts were "kinda there" with an decent but very uneven 80's new wave/semi-garage rock sound. The vocalist was all over the place tone wise - sometimes she was Pat Benatar other times I dunno what. However, White Hills was a massive wave of thundering psych from the first note to the last. They played a number of tunes from their latest album, the excelled, Hp-1. Namely the album opener, "The Condition of Nothing" took off with a giant roar with all four members in top form. The more straight-ahead "Upon Arrival" had a loads of big riffs and a super-catchy low-end. Guitarist Dave W. looked straight outta Hawkwind (always a good thing) with a red & white shirt & silver (machine?) face paint along with a gold top Les Paul. Bassist Ego Sensation rocked out with a killer clear Dan Armstrong bass which accented her outfit of snazzy red & spangly pants & a shiny silver accented & flared shirt. White Hills really knows how to do own the stage. Carlton Melton did the quite intro into huge middle-end bit that work fantastically and melted some minds including my own. You can catch some of their set hereAlso had a plenty good time with friends over beers & the 2nd (aka: the last good) Def Leppard LP before the show. 

8) Saxon at The Avalon Sept 30th. A bunch of weird openers but a near packed house even during the early part of the festivities. The first was some young lads (and by that I mean 10 & under) playing classic rock/metal cover tunes. I just hear the last half of their take on AC/DC's "Long Way to the Top" which as much I can do without AC/DC and covers of 'em was quite energetic and done real well, especially considering their ages. The next band was Hatchet who were every shitty thrash cliché in one band. "C'mon let's start a fuckin' pit" repeat 800 times, etc. Hilarity did ensure though with a very drunk and wobbly Paul Baloff clone on the floor mosh and slowly walking around the floor during their set. Next up a bunch of comically bad prog-metallers that barely played a note I liked. After about a 1/2 hour, Saxon finally got going with a load of great tunes including some new ones that well, sounded like their slower, 2-3 chord rockers. Biff Byford was looking and sounding in good form as was the rest of the band that included classic-era Nigel Glockner on drums (just like on "The Eagle has Landed") and guitarist Paul Quinn on guitar. A few other highlights was the rest of the set and encores: "Crusader", "Strong Arm of the Law", "This Town Knows Who To Rock", "Motorcycle Man", "Denim and Leather", "The Power and the Glory",  All sorts made it out to this from teenagers to older dudes like mesellf and even older heshers. Yeah, so they didn't do "20,000 Feet" but look at that set list!

9) Frisco Freakout at Thee Parkside Oct. 8th. A great day in general that started with a trip to the incredible Green Apple Books where I picked up the bio of Dusty "The American Dream" Rhodes & an issue of Draw! mag followed by excellent pizza at Pizza Orgasmica.  
Anyhow, the Freakout Fest started a bit rocky with the first so-so band that sounded like someone's embarrassing uncle's garage project that did a private press LP in '72 that should've been kept just that. Also, some shitty DJ just had to play the Dead for 4+ hours in between bands. (Ever heard of Hawkwind? I hear they have a few records around) and the outside DJ put everything on too fucking loud. However, things got going right after the first dud band. Highlights included the un searchable named, Joy (from San Diego) who mixed a bit of fast punky tunes with their sort of 70's psych sound, Outlaw were moody but pretty rockin' -  they did a nice version of “In Heaven” from Eraserhead.  Z-Trane Electric Band had some good guitar parts that were more in the way of surf and early rock n' roll than psych but it overlapped pretty well. Dahga Bloom (right before Melton) mixed up 60's psych and pop but fuzzed it out enough to fall on the latter. To top it off, Harderships (featuring Issah from Earthless + Jefferson + Camilla from Assembled Head in Sunburst Sound) did a good mix of 70's rock and psych that took a 'lil while to sink in but got on fine by the 3rd tune.  Carlton Melton start in the warbly melt-down and pick things up with Andy hammer the shit out of the drums through latter part. One of the Earthless folks did guest guitar from the floor.  Assembled Head kept the heavy psych going with pop melodies and harmonies all of which transitioned perfectly. Including this absolutely perfect number. This fest also gets bonus points for the former BMX racer who looked like Barış Manço who I talked with for several hours & we realized that we might've raced against each other in the early 80's in Fremont. 

10) Noothgrush/Human Anomaly/Dispirit/Connoisseur at 924 Gilman St., Oct. 22nd.  I missed Agents of Satan and Atriarch as I was out to dinner with the Human Anomaly folks.  Connoisseur had a moshing yeti and they did a great mix of punk, hardcore, grind and power-violence. Dispirit was interesting but impossible to see amongst the absolute red & black. H.A. confused and amused the usual Gilman crowd with their neat mix of prog and 70’s jazz fusion. Their guitarist, Lance twice played sections that reminded me of Jeff Beck. Noothgrush was as punishing as they were many years prior at Gilman.  While I saw Nootgrush them a few months earlier at the Elbo Room (with Winter and 4 too many Swedish Death Metal influenced hardcore bands). They were great then but I think overall this was a much better show - especially with more diverse sounds on the bill. 

Honorable mention: Carla Kihlstedt at YBCA in July: I hadn't seen Kilhstedt in Sleeptime Gorilla Museum or Tin Hart Trio much less the bevvy or other performers she's collaborated with. Nor had I ever read Jorges Luis Borges but this was a night to see/hear something different, even if this might've been a bit over my head. However,  the music was an interesting mix of vocal choruses, jazz, classical and a variety of other things. Afterwards, I met a German girl who in a Belphegor shirt who told me she was flying all over the country to see these performances. (She was also planning on seeing Belphegor again in Germany in a few weeks). Crazy that. 

Pics below in order are:  
Human Anomaly, Assemble Head in Sunburst Sound, Saxon, Andre Williams, Earth, White Hills, Spectrum, and SWANS

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

METALSPLOITATION! - (Con't) - What are your Italian zombies doing in my cinema?

Hmm...what's this "Music by Accept? Saxon? Scorps? Motley Crüe? Awesome! Claudio Simonetti? Never heard of 'em. Rick Springfield - ah, whatevah this looks killer!"

 Demons or Demoni (its international title) uses the "movie within a movie" format. While people are being killed in the movie the people are watching and then being they are then killed by demons in the theater. A woman on screen's neck is being cut up while a woman in the theater dares to look only to have her own neck sliced up like a Thanksgiving turkey. In fact, this movie seems to take a liking to ripping necks apart and goughing eyes apart - the latter almost as much as fellow Italian horror director Lucio Fulci. Back to the music, there's an uncredited anthemic metal rager called "Night Danger" by Denmark's pretty good band, Pretty Maids.

Thus began my obsession with Italian horror and more specifically Dario Argento movies. Although, Demoni isn't considered a "true" Argento movie as it was directed by Lamberto Bava. Regardless this Heavy Metal and Horror connection sent me back to Pleasanton's then godly Aspargus Video. My mom's then boyfriend, Bob drove me over there after a trip over to The Record Factory in Dublin. While I asked him dumb questions like "what's a skeptics? I asked him this 'cause I just bought Agent Steel's - Skeptic's Apocalypse LP. I wasn't so sure what they were on about. (I later found out it was some crrrazy UFO/aliens theme). I remember the night I got this video tape from the store and several times I rewound the scene with 'Maiden (one of my fave horror movie scenes ever).

Monday, November 28, 2011

Stoned (Again?)

I meant to release this way back in 2008 but it's still relevant to the "weird experience on weed thing". This took place at a party at the great but short lived  Stanford party house that KZSU DJ, Big Chief once lived at. 

No, it wasn't quite like this but...damn...eating 2 squares of weed cake tonight was fuggin' weird. I hadn't had any weed as in smoking it. Having an interesting, fun time at a KZSU friends b-day party. Talking with friends old and new. The delicious yellow cake filled with the cannibus and before that was the baked potato with the cannibus butter. Oh, so good but oh, so dumb after 4-5 beers. Strangely, the last time I had gotten high off of weed was around 2003 when at a friend's house San Francisco party. My friend's roommate peer pressured me into "burning the green" again -especially since I said (and truthfully) I hadn't had any since June 1986 at the Metallica/Ozzy show. That stuff was pretty powerful but I 'spose that's stating the obvious as the permutations of weed have advanced into turbo level now. I was used to the regular strong but not too strong of Reagan-era sensimilla not this harsh stuff they had in S.F. that night. Then again, I've often been a total lightweight.

My mind's didn't get too warped but things did indeed slow way down yet at the same time I was able to talk and respond well and only rarely missing my train of thought. But jeez, how did it hit me not until close to an 40 minutes-an hour after eating it? I was talking with a friend of mine near the BBQ I suddendly hit me in the back of the head like a rock. I pointed to my friend and said to her "whooaa...hold on! Holy shit, dewd, I'm fuckin' high off that weed cake!" Strangely, the cake even gave me cotton mouth to some degree. Cotton mouth was my least fave side effects from smokin' weed. (Somewhere after the stench of the stuff).

Anyway, later tonight, after a long "back to normal" stretch" I was listening to Legendary Pink Dots on the way home. A contemporary version of the trippiest of trippest parts of Pink Floyd and something slooowwwww and just wuhh...

Now excuse me I gotta prepare for dealin' with the real world tomorrow. Saaaad! No more weed be it cake or otherwise for me, thank you.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

In a race track far, far away...(BMX Obsesso con't)

Surgical Droid 2-1B from Empire Strikes Back 

reminded me a lot of Clint Miller of Team Kuwahara 

Kuwahara was the top Japanese BMX company that made the bike for E.T.  They along with Araya Rims (not made by the guy from Slayer) were the top 2 companies from Japan for BMX equipment. Going back to my last post's Hesh-BMX connection is this image found whilst looking for 80's BMX:

2nd from right & 2nd from left made the right t-shirt choice. 

Monday, October 17, 2011

Team Cliff Burton?

Snagged from BMX Plus! forum and also a reminder of a "full-circle moment" as not only was it sort of recently the anniversary of Cliff's tragic death in September 1986.

Also, two weekends ago I was at the Frisco Freakout Fest and spotted a guy in a BMX Reunion shirt. We talked about old school BMX for quite a while and we realized that we might've actually raced against each other at the Fremont ABA track (in Jan-March '83).

Anyway, here's Cliff is holding a copy he just signed of one of the greatest (and most opinionated *) 80's Metal zine, Kick Ass. 

* As in editor "Nasty" Bob Muldoney hated King Diamond and Mercyful Fate along with W.A.S.P. The first he called Queen Rhinestone and the latter's singer was deemed Faggy Balless. On the other hand, he did support TONS of killer bands such as Burton-era Metallica, Bathory, Nasty Savage, Overkill. In addition, it was one of the few bigger circulation Metal zines that supported crossover bands (i.e. Broken Bones, C.O.C., etc).

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Metal RAPsodies

"Here we go"

Let's forget the "official-dumb" of rap-rock/rap-meddle from the late 90's-2000s. Instead, let's focus on the earliest crossovers where they didn't make crappy wrestling intros and the like. Most known is RUN-DMC's re-make/collabo with Aerosmith on "Walk This Way". At my high school throughout most of the year they'd have a lunchtime DJ. The DJs would play everything from Run-DMC, Whodini, Prince, Beastie Boys to the tired ass-AC/DC, Aerosmith & Fred Zep songs that all the conservative heshers at the stoner wall loved (that shit was 8 years too late for my friends & me as we were down with Celtic Frost & Mercyful Fate).

While my own music taste was mostly Hard Rock and Metal - I also was taking in a lot other stuff from other friends. Namely, there was Fred who was in a breakdance crew in 8th grade and schooled me on Egyptian Lover, The Time, LL Cool J, etc. In our junior year art class he was wearing this shirt that said "Throw That 'D" with a duck scratching records on turntables on it. I asked him what that was from and he said from this rap band called 2 Live Crew...I just saw them in Oakland last night". I put going to see a (then unknown) 2 Live Crew in Oakland on par with seeing Baloff era Exodus - you have no idea what kinda mayhem is gonna be unleashed.

"You might get paid-but your metal ain't real." 

Before he was praising many a baby's backs and after his posse was on Broadway, Sir Mixx A Lot was down with Metal Church and did this ace version of the Sabs "Iron Man". 

"They couldn't kill the beast - along came the onslaught of Scorpions  and Priest." 

Going back to 1984-85, I saw an ad in Hit Parader from Megaforce Records that advertised (alongside new albums from Exciter, Anthrax and TT Quick) a mysterious artist named Lone Rager called "Metal Rap".  Lone Rager was Johnny Z., the head of Megaforce along with members of Blue Cheer and The Rods. Plus the "Children of Steel singers - a chorus of kids from ages 3 months to 10 yrs. old". I knew what the record looked like for years but never heard what is was. It seemed no one even in collector mega nerd circles even knew about this record or at least cared out it. Sure enough my friend Crow found a cheap copy for me at Amoeba one day and I've cherished from that day on.

Peep the crazy Heavy Metal history and geography lessons in the lyrics - totally fresh any day of the week!

What OTHER Metal or Rap song has ever repped Blue Cheer, Accept and H-Bomb!...etc, etc!?!?

Next up is Anthrax who in 1987 did not one but TWO rap tunes. The first and lesser known is their collabo with UTFO called "Lethal". Joey Belladona's voice doesn't come in until 1:46 which is proceeded by some nice riffage by Scott Ian (said riff sounds like it's a left over from Fistful of Metal or the Armed and Dangerous EP). The line from UTFO "devoted to demolish to slay anyone" easily could've been a line by the (one, true) Slaughter. Though, it is REALLY cheesy hearing a then-"true metal" frontman singing "If the girrrl wanna git it oooon....teylll the girrrrl!"

The second Anthrax-hip hop tune is "I'm The Man" which I can pretty much recite every line of. The song references everything from Sam Kinison to the Fat Boys (note the "yeaaaaah" & the 'lil beatbox bit) to the Mentor's El Duce, and even a tiny clip of Metallica's "Master of Puppets" (@ 1:55). "I'm so bad I should be detention" always cracks me up. I saw them play this tune as their final song when they opened for KISS in 1988 at the SF Civic. Scott Ian had a giant "Not" sign and they jump all over the stage. Totally rad and it sure beat going to school and scooping ice cream for shitty customers at work. My friends and I were planning on doing a lip synched version of "I'm The Man" at the lunch-time talent show (which stupidly didn't let you play live music - it had to be faked) but we couldn't get it together. My plan was to do the totally def UNcensored version.

A few years later when working the late shift at a beach side liqour store in Aptos, CA - the local college station, KZSC played the Public Enemy-Anthrax collab, "Bring the Noise". While I was burnt out on Thrash Metal I continued to get into various hip-hop bands - especially P.E. The open chords of this grabbed me and the tempo of the song gave me a much need jolt of energy and hence I heeded the words "turn it up!"

Call the "cool police" - I still love this

 The first college station I heard was KSJS. Along with their usual mix of proto-EBM, punk, goth, etc. was this odd band from Wisconsin, Couch Flambeau. These guys were pretty silly but a lot of fun. More importantly their songs were pretty rockin'. This one is called "Satan's Buddies" and it has a somewhat of  hip-hop feel in the beginning which is very remincent of Faith No More's "Epic". They also diss Sonic Youth for making the song "Satan is Boring" which was likely Thurston & co's diss on bands like Possessed and Slayer. Couch Flambeau made weirdo punky rock n' roll that may that didn't compromise ('ala ideally what much of early hip-hop did).

Along with Faith No More there were a few other bands that mixed rock and hip-hop such as MCM and the Monster who got lost in the shuffle between the rise of "thrash-funk"/"punk-funk" (or whatever the hell Limbomaniacs, Fungo Mungo and all that was) and Red Hot Chill Peppers.

Nerd note: MCM &The Monster once opened for Exodus. Plus, Exodus once played with the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Dutch "party rappers" Urban Dance Squad at Oakland's Henry J. Kaiser Arena in July 91. This is sort of idea was possibly inspired by bands wanting to reach out to other audiences  other weird but interesting tours such as the Sisters of Mercy/Public Enemy/Gang Four (oh, and Warrior Soul) tour of 1991.

There was also the pretty damn silly Metal MC who, is on the short list of MCs with that part of their name at the end (See: Young MC). These dudes look rather hair-farmerish, so they were more like sucker (metal) MCs.

The front cover tells you that there's a deranged metal/rap guitarist behind it's own "Tipper sticker" but really it should've just warned you from a lame record company gimmick. 

In the 90's there was several pre-Shrimp Basket collabs such the ones from the ill-fated Judgement Night Soundtrack as well as Ice-T's notorious Metal band, Body Count who inspired this classic Congressional jam led by Col. George Taylor.  Now, wasn't reading this better than buying a $20 "Rap Sucks" shirt?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

As opposed to Bloodbad?

This video is a part live show or live in front of 20+ people rehearsal thing that gives off the odor of a frankensense and myrr scented WAY-off Broadway play about the crucifixion. I mentioned these Seattle-based holy metallers, Bloodgood earlier in a post on similar minded Jezzo-rockers, Stryper. This video is the first time I've ever seen any band use a guy dressed up like Jesus on stage and recreate the scene(s) from 31 (or 32?) A.D. This is an otherwise goofier version of Jesus Christ Superstar (which is pretty goofy unto itself). Though that movie reminds of my former friend,(Danny) in Pleasanton who was a born-again Christian that loved the above mentioned bumblebees. Said past friend & I's conversation went like this:

(Danny): What? You've never seen a movie about the Bible?
(Me): (*Sheepishly*, pun intended) Nope, not yet.
(Danny): Well, you SHOULD!
(Me): Uh, ok like Jesus Christ Superstar
(Danny): Noooooo! That's blasphemous (note: in his universe this movie was "blasphemous" but listening to Blue Oyster Cult, Van Halen and his being a racist dick wasn't? Weird.)
(Me): Oh, I...didn't know that (I only thought "hey it has Jesus in the title - it must be about the Bible and filled with holy stuff).
(Danny): See, you gotta watch The Greatest Story Ever Told and The Ten Commandments.

A few years later via a Billy Crystal record, I found out what a insincere joke The Ten Commandments is - Moses never landed on the Planet of the Apes. Additional viewings of this scene from Mel Brooks always great History of the World Part 1 also underscored that point.
No idea about the latter movie but it sounds a little assholish for them to called it "Greatest Story EVER Told", Tintin in Tibet was a lot more interesting and it didn't confuse or give me nightmares (save the bit about the Yeti).

 had told me told me when I mentioned not seeing ever seeing a movie about The Bible before The thing that makes me uneasy about this is that I actually quite like the vocals mixing Saxon's Biff Byford & a touch of Mike Howe from Metal Church but while both have done a few missteps in their career, they never did play high school drama-power ballads like so:

So, Invisible Oranges can write a bunch of articles about what mode/key Metallica songs are in but who's ever gonna school you on late-80's Christian drama metal? 

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Great Goats Goring on Grass for the Government? Or how my day went

Today was odd but plenty interesting. I had not only a job interview my former hometown of Pleasanton. This is the town that inspired for my old and soon to be sequeled zine, Stoner Wall. Though, today's trip was very Eric B. & Rakim - Strictly Business.
I had a job interview in Hacienda Business Park, an area I knew all too well. My family and I first knew it as the cow fields that were the background to the Denny's- which along with the 7-11 both on Hopyard Rd. still exists! Said Sevvy was the on that many a weed deal was made and also the place where I first heard Destruction's "Bestial Invasion". Since I got over there early, I went around the block to a section which I didn't recognize. Although other places while refurbished/painted and (over)developed were quickly becoming familiar. I can still take a quick look around the crux of Hopyard and it's environs and say "that's where I got high with Reid, that's the business park where I got drunk with Darren, and that's the concrete where Chad & I spray painted Slayer". The Lucky's store on Hopyard/West Los Positas also remains. This was where my Ozzy/W.A.S.P./Slayer worshipping friend, Steve worked at for over a decade.

Anyway, I went around block to kackin' Starbucks (yeah, YOU try to finding something decent in strip-mall overkill at 9am) all in my business clothes as I waited for my tea while some goofy Hot Topic looking Batista kids took orders from a cluster of people including one woman who I wondered if I had went to school with.

On top of this stale environment we were blasted with the latest Joss Stone/Sheryl Crow/whoever thee fuck makes the rest of this of the wave nauseating MOR tunes that fit perfectly with the "blandness eternal" motto of Starbucks (and CVS, Trader Joe's, and Whole Foods for that matter).  Mercifully there was a seat outside and there was only one way I could resolve this problem of  "horrible music in a familiar but even worse visual environment than I came from". A simple click the iPod and viola:

"Screams-dreams!" (Lalonde's guitar says: *Bhew-whip!*)

(*going over my resume *) "OK, let's tell her that I worked over here, did these responsibilities that fit in with this part. Then I'll tell her this transitions well with that requirement and..."

"Demons dog domain
Keeping me insane
Evil curse my soul
Burning awaaaaaay-ahhhrrr!
...The Exorciiiiisttt!

Even feeling overly hot (near 90 today in now overcrowded oven known as the Tri-Valley- don't miss that!) and in a not-too comfy tie, dress shirt sitting at an outside table at again the green and white corporate beast - the riffs kicked in, my fist was clenched and as Amebix would say - the power remains! The power from many moons ago - that came from blasting this same album on Steve's Panasonic jam box down the streets of Val Vista that well, possessed us to bark out emulations of Jeff Beccara the rest of the Pinoleian Death Metal kings. But yeah, I'm all business maaaan!

Oh, gotta go to the interview...
The interview went well - but was weird know that the interview went over every possible detail for my job. Odd considering it's a scant 2 month gig. Since I also had an appointment with the agency that set me up with this company - I had to jam up to their office ever further up to Walnut Creek. Thankfully, Candlemass' "Tales of Creation" and leftover, surprisingly well-done chai tea kept me company.

Walnut Creek or at least their downtown looks like Palo Alto's downtown on steroids. A clusterfuck of a mall,  mixed with tightly packed office spaces, horribly configured parking lots, chocked with traffic on all sides. Along with a bunch of other chainstores/upscale restaurants/bistros with "artistian" fucking everything.
Speaking of chains at least local interesting ones from the past - I spotted a Kapser's Hot Dogs around the corner from the office. I didn't bother eating there but 15 year old me would've been there in a flash. 21st century me - didn't think that there would be franknveggiefurters. At the office, I did some generic paper work but the two women I worked with there were really accommodating and down to earth - not drones like so many others.

Part of me wanted to stop and do more research/archeology for Stoner Wall but I was a little pressed for time and not knowing the area these days, feared the worse for any traffic going south after 3pm. So, I bolted back home took care of a few other job things and ate a bunch of cheese.

After finishing stuff in one of my online classes (this one was Intro to Tech Writing), I went out for a bike ride at somewhat prog rock length of around 4 miles at Shoreline Park. I found a new detour to the left side of the wooden bridge. This detour looked from the distance a narrow path that twisted and turned towards NASA and the Air National Guard facilities on one side and a looked like it had a possible path going all the way out to the other side of the bay to Milpitas. Unfortunately, the only the first part is true. The route to Milpitas is cut off by fences but on second thought it makes sense as it's the continuation of the wildlife preserve. The bird population isn't just the usual ducks and seagulls (though they can amuse and interest me as well) but also egrets, non-mallard ducks, terns, red-winged blackbirds, pelicans - who thankfully are the non-boring riff  kind.

I kept wondering "how long does this path go on?!" while some knob-end from Google blazed by me - missing hitting me by a mere 5 inches. Regardless, I rode on looking at some military plane and plane & blimp hangars as well as an RV lot?

Yep. Top secret, too I'd guess. As said before, I didn't find a path across the bay but shortly after seeing a jack rabbit pass from about 40 ft. away - I spotted something baffling. Goats! Gorging on grass and on government territory near a golf course (where some annoying looking yupster-military mix dudes were playing a few holes. Remember: only miniature golf is REAL!). It looks like NASA or the Air National Guard at Moffett Field had hired them to clear some brush along side the golf course. I'd thought that maybe there was a team of them at one point and the others got laid off due to budget cuts. I dunno - but I do wish I had heard Mercyful Fate once I spotted them. I think it was Burning Saviours "Spread Your Wings" that came on instead - which would of been fine when I was photographing birds! Smartphone, my ass!
Whoa-holllld the bus!...Is that what I think it is?  
Goats on government property, even!? Crazy that.
The one on the left just caught on to what I'm up to and will be filing a report with the CIA.

On the way back a live version of Mercyful Fate's "Evil" kept me pedaling around but not until I saw another egret and got a pic of him.

Also on the Mercyful Fate tip, was spotting a ruined bridge (as in the place you're supposed to wait for the master. Well, that yeah that happens "later on" but "Come to the Sabbath", already!)
Back on the bike and Swans' "Will We Survive" came on in a near triumphant moment of going away from this new founded twisty path and back onto the familiar 2nd bridge area overlooking the reed filled banks of Stevens Creek.  Then it was back to "on your left" and "on your right" to the random bikers, walkers & joggers on the path home.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Never mind the Royals - Here's Filthy, Rich and Catflap

Oh yeah, those 2 money draining, mass distracting, "what education/economic crisis?" idiots are getting married tomorrow. But fuck all that - here's something REALLY important and worth your time from the UK - Filthy, Rich and Catflap. This fine show is from 1986 and features 3 of the 4 stars from the legendary  (NOT a term I throw around easily) BBC show "The Young Ones" -  Nigel Planner is the stumbling alcoholic showbiz agent "Ralph Filthy",  Rik Mayall's the completely mental and egotistical "Ritchie Rich" along with his roommate and often drunk minder - Adrian Edmonson as "Eddie Catflap".

Instead of the rigors of student life, vampire landlords and Motörhead cameos we have the tales of consistent failure in attempting to break into the entertainment industry. The show maintains some of the same elements that made the "The Young Ones" so classic. Namely, jokes that range from the silly to observations on fame and the media to funny word play. The latter is used mostly by Richie who say "I'm not gonna go to pris(on)", "the crits (critics) will slaughter me!" Similar to The Simpsons it has gags going on in the background. One of which appears in episode five where Richie and Catflap go out to clubs & eateries named "Stringos", "Hippos", and "Lampos" before a final 3am  gorging on Papadum-os.

A lot of the commentaries and jokes are based around British b-level celebrities from the past such as the oft-referenced Jimmy Tarby" Tarbuck who was comparable to maybe Merv Griffin. Also mentioned/referenced are game shows such as "Blankety Blank" and "Celebrity Squares" which were UK parallel shows (not directly related, mind) to America's "Match Game" and "Hollywood Squares".

One of my favorites is in the game show parodies is Richie's guest appearance on the hilariously titled show "Ooer Sounds A Bit Rude". Unlike the Young Ones' direct parody of a real show "University Challenge" (from the same titled episode) this twists the game show from a happy, joyful setting to a place focused on shouting directors going off on camera ops (a thing I know a bit about having worked on a TV news programme) along with the general fakeness of the talent which quickly gives way to utter chaos. Another treat is the visuals on the show - the loud 1970s colors in the "Ooer" scene is only a mild exaggeration of the things worn by Charles Nelson Reily on Match Game or Charo on Hollywood Squares.

Another part of "F, R and C"'s charm is the random bits of slang and language. In one scene Richie is shocked and exclaims "Wot in the name of Satan's Porsche?!" Satan's Porsche woud''ve made a great Butthole Surfers song. A few more of my favorite lines involves a scene with a series of milkman murders. "This is the most milkman shaped stork I've ever seen." Other parts that should give you a few larfs is the lawyer named "Pervy Spurty", and what to do with dead milkman, and why one "little drinky" won't help you sleep.

Along with the entertainment industry, the art world also gets a great send up in the 2nd episode which features the fantastic comedy duo of Steven Fry and Hugh Laurie as Catflap's French patrons. This parody deals brillantly with the whole "what is art?" question and seemingly predicts the forthcoming nonsense of  Damien Hirst and Neckface.

It would be interesting if the show were on now as it could easily play off the contemporary TV show formats of "reality", unfunny "ironic/post-modern" sitcoms and the entertainment shows that report on other entertainment shows so uh, people can be "entertained" or the talk shows that invite other talk show hosts that go into the never-ending cultural-socio abyss. Now I need to watch a bunch of "Bottom" -  the next main venture from Mayall and Edmonson from (1991-95).


Saturday, April 9, 2011

Fun with YouTube

As you know YouTube can give you weird random selections/suggestions when you're searching for oh, say French Death Metal from 1996:

Or let's say you were looking for other Death Metal related stuff such as this early, overlooked Swedish stuff band, Exempt. It tells you to check out Three 6 Mafia. OK, maybe 'cause they're name is really 666 but musically totally, different head totally. That said, I wonder if Gangsta Boo is down with slithery, downtuned Morbid Angel meets early Unleashed style DM with a hankering for hammer-ons/pull-offs?

Another unintended random barrel o' laughs was this top suggestion I got whilst going through the band who's name can't-be-pronounced-unless-done-with-a-raspy-kackle, Baxaxaxa.

Lastly, I wanted to note that I had a great experience with the previously mentioned band Asgard. I played them a few times on my old show on KZSU, "Bloodstains Across Atherton" and about a year later my friend who was then the Metal Director got an e-mail from Xavier's Asgard's bassist, which was really cool. Makes up for all the times that I thought no one was listening or gave a shit.  

Friday, April 8, 2011

Early viking imagery and lyrics in Heavy Metal

Early Viking imagery on LP covers comes up with the 1984 comp, Dutch Steel (which either consciously or unconsciously touches on the Viking and other Germanic tribal history in The Netherlands and other low lands  in this is also touched on in the Frisian-born rune magick writer, Freya Asywnn's book. (1)

Even earlier than Dutch Steel on the viking style was the compilation Metal Maniaxe (Ebony Records, 1982). Ebony was the home to bands such as Ebony label home of NWOBHM bands such as Grim Reaper, Savage, and Chateaux.

I think he's only sporting the pentagram because it's Ebony's logo.

Additionally, Iron Maiden twice invoked the viking theme with their 1981 and 1982 songs "Invasion" and "Invaders". The original "Invasion" was sung by Paul Di'Anno and was released several times. First on their vinyl debut, 1979's The Soundhouse Tapes, followed by the Harvest Records release as the B-side to "Women in Uniform" (a cover of the Aussie 70's rockers, Skyhooks). Lastly. it appeared again on the 1990 CD version of the "Women in Uniform" EP Here's a few of Invasion's lyrics:
The Vikings are coming,
You'd better get ready for we're having a fight
The longboats are coming,
Looking like dragons in the dead of the night
Muster the men from all the villages
You'd better get ready to fight with your enemies

Beacons are burning,
I'm giving the word to get ready to fight
The battle is nearing,
You'd better get ready to fight for your lives

Muster the men from all the villages
You'd better get ready to fight with your enemies
The Norsemen are coming, The Norsemen are coming
The warnings are given, The Norsemen are coming...

Apparently the band wasn't satisfied with this version and once Bruce Dickinson took over vocals they changed the lyrics and the structure to become the still viking focused and equally awesome, "Invaders".

Flashing back to 1978, in Sweden, Heavy Load was a band with a strong Judas Priest-influence. Although fairly unknown outside of Sweden their early 80's LPs managed get into the UK, Germany, Norway and parts of the USA. (Anyone remember the "imports section"?, I do!).However, their influence has been pretty minimal outside of hardcore collectors and tribute acts like Helvetets Port who even show a copy of their classic Death Or Glory LP in their "Lightning Rod Avenger" video. (2) Commercially speaking it may not been to their benefit to be outside of the era's the usual Deep Purple/Rainbow-styled "hårdrockare" norm of Silver Mountain, Universe and Yngwie Malmsteen. (3) Over a decade before anyone said they played "Viking Metal", HL's Wahlquist Brothers sung lyrics such as:

"Thor is riding the sky again  
Hear the thunder feel the pain
When we hear the heathen cry
We draw our swords
And the Christians will die,
Feel the pain, feel the pain" (4)

Heavy Load also had several albums covers that took in viking or at least the romanticized version of vikings (horned helmets, shown here (5) as well as below.

A magazine interview (6) quote from the band says "What we're about as a band (is) reviving the viking spirit that's so much part of our tradition."

Although other covers went for more of the party rock n' roll tradition.  

The halmark for the later, Viking/Pagan sound came predominately from a trilogy of albums by Bathory (which of course you should be familar with!) 1988's Blood Fire Death, 1989's Hammerheart and 1989's and 1991's Twilight of the Gods (all titles from Black Mark).

Norway did take to the Viking theme in Metal until the formation of Enslaved who's early sound was strongly influenced by Bathory along with the closer to home bands like Mayhem and Darkthrone. As great as they've been there's been plenty said about these bands. Nowadays, the theme has lost much of its appeal as its ranged from boring folk LORPing-beer hoisting silliness (7) to all-out ignorant shit i.e. - NSBM-tards using viking/Germanic imagery.

1 - Freya Aswynn's has collaborated with Current 93 and Sixth Comm. She is also known for her writings and magick work with runes. "In some sense, one could say she has been to the Runes what Timothy Leary was to LSD." from discussion with Christina Oakley Harrington at Treadwells London
2 - That said, HL's sales in Sweden were often quite strong: "...their first release out selling AC/DC and Black Sabbath for nine weeks in 1981" (Kerrang!, Issue 37)
3 - From "Son Of The Northern Light" the last song on their good but weirdly sung/produced debut Full Speed at High Level (Heavy Sound, 1978)
4 - Both Silver Mountain and Yngwie wrote songs titled "Vikings" (Shakin' Brains, Roadrunner, 1983) and "I Am a Viking" (Marching Out, Polygram, 1985). Jens Johansson later played with Yngwie's Rising Force. His stint in the band was mostly known for doing a highly unnecessary variation of "Dueling Banjos"-gone-metalic-rococo with Herr Malmsteen. On a similar note there's a song by the NWOBHM act Blitzkrieg (featuring the mighty vocals of Brian Ross) called "Vikings".
5 - I'm aware that the artist for Heavy Load's LPs also seemed to predict ultra-bright blonde look of a certain former Ichiban but that's probably coincidence. Me thinks he was more influenced by a continuation of Dust's Hard Attack sleeve by the legendary Frank Frazetta.
6 - I'm not sure of the mag or which band member but it's over on this FB page
7 - So says me who used to go ape for Finntroll and Korprikilanni.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Where are all the songs about BMX?

Early Death Metal style Cruiser Class
Circa: '82

Skateboarding has it's share of songs starting from the mid-60's extension from surf songs. Then into the 80's the deluge of "skate punk" "skate hardcore" bands (The Faction, The Boneless Ones, JFA, Suicidal Tendencies) and the skate-connections with Anthrax, Metallica and Overkill. Not to forget Pushead and his designs for Zorlac boards. I like skateboarding but more for the aesthetics not for the actual activity. I found that you couldn't go in as many places. Hence no dirt riding = no fun. Also, I wasn't keen on getting tripped up by pinner sized rocks on my Gemco-bought boards.

Enter BMX, which I was totally obsessed with from 1979-84 and have re-obsessed myself in recent years from utter hatred of X-Games/freestyle crapola the latter of which I hated in the latter half of 1983 when Hutch was making pink frames (what is this, the Vinnie Vincent Invasion?) and within the next year flourscent neon blasted their ways through their own visual hell of neo-freestyle, surfing, and a few years later the jock-ulars (jocks+populars) at my high school where sporting key-lime colored shorts with bright orange "Life's A Beach" tees.

Moreso, BMX it was becoming like skateboaring with more street than dirt and really I was about both. When the X-Games stuff gave way to a glut of even worse corporate sponorship than we had in the 1980's era (I'm not saying BMX wasn't totally mainstream, it would be apt to say, compare it to the growth of Thrash Metal as it often got mainstreamed/family oriented in a few years time but this is different than the completely whored out Mountain Doofuses that represented the sport in the mid-late 90s. In short, the early era racers mostly endorsed things that had to do with their sport. This Scholastic Deth song sums it up better in "Extreme = Mainsteam" I can't find the lyrics. (Not like you can't schnoogle "Scholastic Death + blogspot") tho' this pic says a lot about it:

 Yuppie-jocks win again!
   Aka: the fall of Bob Haro.
Anyway, how come with all the millions of kids out there that have at one point or another been into BMX are there so few songs about it? Here's a few I've found here 

SundayBMX21 "bring me the horizon, four year strong, the devil wears prada all good bands that are fast"

Yikes! On Vital BMX's Forum I found this guy who's at least in the general vicinity of good-to-great:

procesion by New Order
sonic reducer by dead boys
pillbox by the joneses
romeos distress by christian death
rest in piss by brotha lynch
old school shit by eazy-e

I found a clip from Matt "Freestyle Mainstream dude I barely paid attention to" Hoffman's* video game features the great: Bad Brains, Newclus, Pailhead, the not too bad - Stone Roses and the truly awful Static X. About a year ago I got a cheapo pop punk compilation (Know Your Neighbours #1) that I HOPE would be saved by a song called "BMX" by The Bigoz Quartet, instead I got super generic whiny pop punk crap that references the movie "Rad" which should've been called "Sad".

The so-so pop-punkers Bouncing Souls released a tune simply called "The BMX Song" which is pretty fun and references even Timmy Judge (not my fave but they get points for diggin' deep).

If i had money i'd buy a new BMX
it's a long walk through the city in the
rain it's along walk from train to train.
We'll build a ramp and do some tricks and
try to impress some chicks then we'll put
on some really dark shades and run over
all the dorks with rollerblades...
crossups, tabletops, endos curb endos,
timmy judge! get rad!
if i had money i'd buy a new BMX

On the better side o' things, customized van-rockers, Fu Manchu have 2 BMX connections - the song “Anodizer” which mentions number plates, tuff mags, (GT) Pro Perform(a) bikes. Tho’ I have no idea what 4130, throwin’ tabs and KT scars are.  Plus, their tune called “Mongoose” which seems to be about the OG BMX scoots: “A back road in a dirt town lives…all time/Out on the street they ride…the mongoose flies on by”. Though the best BMX-music connection I've found so far minus Fu Manchu is on a Morbid Angel fansite outta France  

I like to ride my BMX bike and do some silly things with that. Whatever. I definitely like to play and have fun. I think that's great.

Keep in mind this is called "silly" AFTER Trey discussed his admiration for Deepak Chopra, Tony Robbins AND that he has a Doom II clan called "Sailor Scouts".

* ENDNOTES: Hoffman was, in his early racing days on Skyway's team which at that point I wasn't following too closely then. I mostly checked out the first wave of freestyle when R.L. Osbourne of BMX Action and Eddie Fiola (also of Skyway)  Skyway as you may know was the company that made the first plastic-ish mags out of some material called Zytel aka: Tuff Wheels (Mark) I/Tuff IIs and their respective knock-offs from ACS, et. al. Also 1985 most thing BMX for me (going back to the Hutch reference above) were quite pukey lookin'
The total highlight of '85 was the colors that popped up. CW made an exclusive deal with Skyway to make lavender Tuffs, which were soon followed by light green, orange, pink, etc... This was definitely a bright year!

Ugh, fuck that noise! What's wrong with the colors you already have? Red, black  and white work fine for most Metal covers.

Monday, January 17, 2011

3 headed beast covers from the same mother?

Anyone know what Trillion sounds like? I used to see that record all the time. There's a copy of it at Vinyl Solution in San Mateo that's been there since at least 1998. I at least know the Rankelson is horrid UK glam. 

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Back in 2 shakes of a goat's tail

My proper (i.e. much faster/stronger) computer is in the shop. So I'm writing this on my old turtle speed Mac. I should be able to post much more of the backlogged drafts and much else in the upcoming months once I get this issue and a few other "everyday life" issues sorted. I'm aimed for the end of next week. In the meantime, please check out any of the older posts you might've missed. Also, don't forget about my other blogs, Chainbreaker  - on politics and music, as well as my latest venture for you to (head) lock your brain around - Squared Circle Pit.