Monday, December 31, 2012

Best of 2012

 2012 was a part good, part crud year for me. Two good friends dying was the biggest thing to deal with. The rest was somewhat manageable but frustrating with too much lack of focus. I was at least able to be employed in 11 out of the 12  months. Also I have a few ideas that I'm planing on stop talking and writing about doing and actually complete them in the upcoming months.

Re: Music this year - I'm still very much burnt out on the lot of extreme metal.Then there's super praised stuff I just don't have patience for - i.e. Pallbearer's album which would've been better if the songs were shorter. Otherwise, there's a bunch of stuff I managed to listen to in between listening to way too many comedy & wrestling podcasts.


Terry Malts - Killing Time (Slumberland) Probably my favorite band of 2012. The first song I heard, "I Do" mixes Naked Raygun type of guitars,and Phil's often Joey Ramone-like voice. Though the Ramones-isms aren't super duper obvious. Instead, Terry Malts are an honest punk/fuzzed out power pop band with lyrics about love and relationships sometimes heartfelt othertimes just cynical and funny ("Waiting Room"). Their cover of Negative Approach's "Can't Tell No One". Other times they write anti-religious tunes "No Sir, I'm Not A Christian". At least one tune reminds me of proper 90's indie rock (i.e. - Seam) on "No Big Deal".  Lest I forget their weird-ass video for "Something About You" that does an intro like KISS' "Detroit Rock City" then some WTF-ery 'ala David Lynch. Granted I coulda saw these guys play live about 12 times this year but only saw them 3 regardless they were great every time.

Antiseen - Falls Count Anywhere: A Collection of Wrestling Songs (Rusty Knuckles) - Yeah, I have these squared circle classics on other albums and singles BUT this also has their cover of the Fabulous Freedbirds (R.I.P., Buddy Jack Roberts and "Bam Bam" Terry Gordy) "Bad Street U.S.A."

Aura Noir - Out to Die (Indie, Norge) Aura Noir started off doing so-so black/thrash but by about 2008 they streamlined their sound and made everything louder, heavier and gutted the thin 2nd wave black metal stylings with their thrash and focused more on what made their influences so great. Namely: Venom, Bathory, Sodom, Possessed & Morbid Angel (as Apollyon does have those flaming ghoul vocals) and really sometimes taking those influences and pushing it forward is ALL you need!

Demona - Metal Through The Time (Dying Victims) - Damn good Speed Metal from Montreal via Chile.  I wrote about Demona earlier. Spirialing guitars and thick and catchy but not overblown riffs. Really good vocals from Tanza who also does the leads. Hearing her accent the chorus of "Nightmare" is also really cool. Overall, very good mix of the past sounds while making it something of their own. Also nice to see the title track with guest appearances from a lot of the bands that inspired them (i.e. - the REAL Warrant, Sabbat, Wardance, etc).

Eat the Turnbuckle - Fans Bring the Weapons (Useless Drunk) Nasty, violent & heavy hardcore inspired by the squared circle. Namely, the likes of ECW, CZW and IWA Mid-South. Though they do have a bit of more "big time" influences as well. Speaking of, it starts with a cut up of Mean Gene (Okerlund) from various WWF stuff then goes into a bunch of Death Metal-ish/Heavy harcore tunes as if sung by D-Von Dudley or Brusier Brody himself. These guys won't be playing any Scion-fest (unless they can put their marketing team on a flaming table) nor will the creeps at All Songs Considered promote it on the twitterverse (I hate myself for even writing that). The lot of these guys were from Philly obnoxioids, Bad Luck 13 Riot Extravangaza who's shows at times became riots. Musically this is more in the vein of fellow Philly ragers, Bad Vibes & maybe a hardcore version of Impaled?   Bonus for doing a killer cover of Cocknoose's "Invader #1 Must Die" in their live shows.

Hawkwind Onward  (East World) Double CD of newer stuff and it's great to see Dave Brock (now in his 70's) still doing Hawkwind - sure, it's not gonna be Doremi Fasol Latido ever again but their spirit is definitely intact. 25 studio albums and still next to no bummers. And R.I.P. to Huw Lloyd-Langton you will be missed.

Dawnbringer - Into the Lair of the Sun God (Profound Lore) Chris "Professor" Black has done it again and made an excellent traditional Heavy Metal record and yeah it's a concept record about uh...I dunno but there's loads of great riffs, solos and Black's vocals are clear & passionate in the real sense and the in the same way that makes me love the sound of singers like Mike Scalzi and Bruce Dickinson. Songs are just roman numerals. "II" is very speedy and ripping and the ballad "V" doesn't turn up the suck either - especially with the doomy riff bit at 2:30. Now if they could just play the Bay Area with Slough Feg and Hirax.

Superchrist's  Holy Shit (Hell's Headbangers) - featuring guitarist Chris Black (and Ian Viper who also plays with Black in High Spirits) was nice and sleazy speedy punk/metal. .

Metz -  s/t (Sub Pop) Sub Pop put out something good and loud this year? Yeah and it doesn't sound like Jesus Lizard (Pissed Jeans are OK & all but really I think I heard enough J.L. soundalikes by 1995 but you could emulate far worse stuff like the shit my co-workers listen to). Really bombastic, shouted out vocals and with loud-ass guitars at nearly every moment. Curious to see what they're like live.

Lamps- Under the Water Under the Ground (In the Red) - Noise rawk and garage-racket mix that's somewhere between Pussy Galore and a buncha chaos.

Pins of Light - II (Alternative Tentacles) Rockin' Killing Joke/Hawkwind-gone punk stuff from Oakland with the vocalist from Cross Stitched Eyes. Very not the usual kind stuff in the Bay Area scene and that's makes it all the better. Completely spaced on the fact that Cross Stitched Eyes had an album out, too. But I can assure you that they were incredible when I saw them live in 2010.

White Hills - Frying on this Rock (Thrill Jockey) Big, heavy psych as usual but his time they pretty much stay on point with the rock stuff and avoid the ambient stuff (which I like just fine). Got to see them for the 3rd year in a row at Bottom of the Hills. Got to meet bassist/vocalist Ego Sensation and drummer, Adam after the show in April. Adam said he was sick of all these other band "white this, white that, White Fence White Denim". Which leads me to...

White Lung - Sorry (Deranged) Speedy punk from Vancouver, B.C. Very consistent from start to finish. Rather melodic guitars that change things up on each song. Pisser they couldn't make it to S.F. a few weeks back.

A few runners up:

Pharoah - Bury the Light (Cruz Del Sur) More traditional HM that mixes the likes of Manowar, Priest, Riot and even Rush (on the start of "Year of the Blizzard") but given those influences done with flair and chops instead of generic cheese (see 2000s power metal). Sure it's histronic and over the top. Vocalist  reminds me of Eric Adams, Halford and Graham Bonnet all the same time. Obviously this has NOTHING to do with:  the blackened/post-/stoner/sludge/deathcore/whateverthefuck

Hawklords - We Are One (Künstler) This is a different, now reformed version of Hawklords with long 'wind & 'lords bandmate Harvey Bainbridge, Jerry Richards (writer & producer for Hawkwind from the 90's-00's), Adrian Shaw on bass and writer for the Quark, Strangeness & Charm & PXR5 albumsCool interview that sorts out the details here. Only heard two tracks so far but hell, Nik Turner & co. still sound great. The title track has a kind of garage rock feel in the riff only cleaner mixed with Turner's trippy voice & the usual wah-wah guitars & space ritual electronics. Nice thing is the "hello and thanks list" had Dave Brock on it so doesn't seem to be much bad blood in the 'lords vs. 'wind camps.

Grails - Deep Politics (Temporary Residence) - Still sorting through this one and I like it but needs more time.

Carlton Melton – Photos Of Photos (Agitated) - The more mellow" side of 'Melton but still pretty damn good. They never fail live.

White Hills / Farflung To Find The Secret Door / Fade (Cobraside Distribution)  - White Hills here is doing their ambient trip out thing and Farflung doing a killer space rock tune that sure sounds like White Hills (hmm...).


Dancer - s/t  7" (Daggerman) 3 songs of punky power pop and straight up power pop from the Bay Area. Nice and infectious stuff, nuthin' fancy. Funny thing is when I saw them with Terry Malts and Lenz - 3 of the 5 bands on the bill had really tall singers.

King Tuff - Screaming Skull / Love Potion (Sub Pop) 70's-styled strummy, glam-pop mixed with power pop with some nasly goofball on vocals. Super good, earwormy chorus & chords on the A-side. "Love Potion" has the same guitar tone as Bowie's "Suffergate City" but does  and a ton of bright guitar chords on side-B.

Warm Soda -   Reaction / In Another World  (Southpaw) - "Reaction" is just purely, perfect power pop with a bit of mid-70s styled punk. Super catchy, great build up, ticking time rhythm and and a lot stuff that takes from early Cheap Trick and maybe even 20/20. The flip is quite nice, too though more straight ahead with the guitars getting brighter/louder over time plus some nice drum fills. Helluva live act, too. Weirdly the opening guitar wails to "Reaction" to reminds me of some NWOBHM stuff.

Apogee Sound Club -  Belligerent (Fully Intercoastal) Solid rhythmic punk and never lets up which I dunno reminds me of the Minutemen or a less spastic Victim's Family and maybe Gang of Four (but I've never got into that band). I could be way off on all that but anyway, go see them live & listen to them here.

Conquest for Death  - One Definition Of Success  (Tank Crimes) Super fast hardcore on the A side with a ripper tune in Tagalog ("Mga Agawai"). The B-side has a few more mid-paced tunes including the excellent "Against the Wall"   Craigums' solo on "One Definition of Success" is ace. Really good lyrics about sexual assault and homophobia, bullying, and the title track deals with the band's perspective of making music and touring all around the world (not just the usual US/Europe/Japan trips but they've been there a plenty). Still probably the only band that I know of that's played 6 of the 7 continents. Looking forward to their Antarctica tour in 2013 with Tubby and The Tusks - the world's only all-walrus garage rock band. (Actual band may not yet exist).

Elegy - Cemetary Earth (Shadow of Fear) - For some dumb reason I thought this was gonna be either medicore crust, the 9459th Swedish death metal worship band or both. (Must've of been the old english "E" in the logo and the headstones on back). Instead, Elegy puts more of the rock n' roll and punk into their metalized hardcore. Somewhere around English Dogs, Inepsy, and Broken Bones. It gets better the more you hear it.

Unholy Two - Cut the Music (I'm the Nightstalker) / Razor (12XU) Menacing noise rock wreck on both sides. "Razor" has more of a "normal", bludgeoning riff mixed with even more feedback but the vocals are purely mental. Haven't heard many bands do this stuff since at least Trance Syndicate label . Also, if you've read my article on Kevin Sullivan in Atomic Elbow wrestling zine (and why WOULDN'T you humanoid?!?) I make the error saying the band is from Australia (but they did put out a release on Oz-land's Negative Guest List) and not Columbus, OH . Bonus for the Razor Ramon pic on the B-side label.

Hellfire - 2012 demo  Great speed/proper power metal and a bit of NWOBHM from some young guys from Daly City. The band's founder, guitarist Tony Campos is a pro BMX rider (!) Vocalist Alex Orozoco voice has a great range. Overall, the band shows lot of promise. Plus, they do an ace cover of Jaguar's "Axe Crazy" (or at least did on one live clip I saw). Thanks for Aesop at Cosmic Hearse for letting me know about these guys. Hopefully 2013 will see them release an LP (and maybe my lazy ass will actually see them). Check 'em out here


Astaroth - Satanspiritus / Lady of the Moon 45 (Unseen Forces) Wow! ORIGINAL "occult rock" - no fancy pants site webhype for these guys. Burning proto metal outta Detroit - the A side could be a little long is my only complain. "Lady of the Moon" comes off like a non-bloated take on The Doors on the B-side that doesn't sit around and play the same boring shit, instead it goes off trippy psych tune. "My love is Astaroth it's said /and you shall serve her 'til you're dead/I will see your soul in hell/ and I'll take your life as well" must've ruined a few grooves in late 60's.   Dig it.

Codeine - When I See the Sun (Numbero Group) This "complete the set" with all three of the albums from the first & greatest "slow-rock" band. 3 LPs in giant packaging, booklets and CD versions of each LP. Not a cure for the bummer moments of life but it helps.

Black Sabbath - "The Rebel" (Zella)  7" - I dunno if this is 100% legit. Tho' Goner Records had it in their mailorder for $8. So file under "not gonna see THAT everyday", 1 sided but no biggie as this is pre-album from '69 that sees them doing a sort of Beatles-esque (god I hate that phrase) tune with some of their trademarks starting to shine through: Iommi tone and Ozzy's warble-y/not all the clear vocals but it is certain them and it's listening to songs like this that make you forget all the bullshit that's gone on with their recent reunion. Though that said I managed to see it on youpube and they sounded pretty damn good despite Ozzy making part of "Paranoid" sound like he was teaching P.E. class.

Coloured Balls - Ball Power (Sing Sing) - I discovered these guys via one of those Fenriz mixes (that had their song "Human Being"). From there I've been reading up on them ever since. Aussie hard rock/70's rock stuff with some solid guitar tone & attitude. Lobby Loyde should be in the legions of guitar gods and seriously how many more times does anyone need to be told about Jimmy Page? (pun unintended). Now I wish only that Sing Sing would re-issue their singles on vinyl - especially so I can play "GOD (Guitar Over Drive)"." on my stereo instead of little 'ol computer speakers.

Razar - "Stamp Out Disco" / "Task Force (Undercover Cops)" - 7" (Sing Sing) I got this with the Coloured Balls LP 'cause the part of 2012 was listening to a lot of Aussie punk/glam, hard rock stuff (Skyhooks, Cosmic Psychos, Slug Guts, etc, etc). This is raw and mean Brisbane punk from '78. If they were from south side Chicago they could've been playing in the outfield during the disco demolition. The b-side's no slouch either as it sonically & lyrically attacks the cops. The cover of this 7" is also on Bloodstains Across Australia and was on a flyer from some schmo's last radio show.

Razor - Armed & Dangerous (War on Music) Nabbed this LP at S.F.'s excellent Thrillhouse Records. The first release from 1984 by these Canadian ragers. A wee bit into the power metal speed style and a little erm less unchained as they were on Evil Invaders. The title track is still a rager despite not going a 100 mph and there's an early version of their classic "Take this Torch".

Mythra - Death and Destiny (Buried by Time and Dust) Rockin' as fuck NWOBHM from '79 right up there with the equally under the radar Brits, Dark Star. Love the "Warrior of Time" and its use of the very British Status Quo "boogie speed". "Killer" is speed with a ton of guitar harmonies 'ala Diamond Head's "Helpless". Got the regular LP and missed the one that had the poster for the gig they did with Motörhead/Saxon/Girlschool/Saxon/White Spirit/Angel Witch and  (*exhale*) Vardis. I guess I'll wait for the super limited "time machine that transports you to that gig" edition

F.U. 2 - Punk Rock (1-2-3-4 GO!) Punk that was first throught to be the "secret Downliners Sect" album". I haven't heard Downliners Sect but I read they were a blues/R&B act in that goes back to the mid-60's. Therefore, it's "fake punk" that comes off quite er, punk. Though the Sect connection is "Stars in the Street" is a really nice romper. There's fast bluesy stuff on "Playing My Guitar".   "Sniffin' Glue" sounds more keyboard laden and silly like a Stranglers outtake but it's undeniably catchy. Also, 1-2-3-4 Go! Records is a store I need to get to WAY more in 2013.

Pagan Altar - The Time Lord (Shadow Kingdom) I still had Pagan Altar in the "could use some better vocals" column. But on one hand Terry Jones' "slowed down Katon De Pena" voice comes off pretty nice here. (And yes, I love Katon's voice).  But I think well, duh, that's part of the charm - you might not always "get it" but it did and does set P.A. apart from the tonnes of doom that came after them.

Poison Idea - Darby Crash Rides Again (Southern Lord) - Everyone and their dog brings up the USHC generica but weirdly despite their equally if not more intense HC tunes, P.I. seemed to never get the same praise as the Circle Jerks or even later bands like Cro-Mags. Either way, P.I. this has their first release from 1982 and a bunch more stuff from various Portland live shows and some live stuff on KBOO.

Older stuff I also loved: 

Blue Oyster Cult - Secret Treaties (Columbia) I've gone back & forth with BOC and heard so much about their first 3 albums that I hadn't really latched onto tho' one of my first rocker friends Kenny had the 1st album t-shirt back in '80 'round the time he was getting me into them, Nazereth & The Scorps. I often found their stuff from 1976-81 hit and miss - for every 4 solid tunes there were weird fillers. This album has NONE of that. The Meltzer (not his relative, wrestling journo, Dave) lyrics are really interesting and damn catchy especially on "Flaming Telepaths".

Contr Act -  Cyrillic title (translated to Warriors of Rock) (Werewolves) Siberian (Russian) power/speed metal in the fine tradition of Noise Records on some Belrussian label with only 3 other releases. Not much info on this act but they did make some very cool Kai Hansen-era Helloween/early Blind Guardian inspired speed/power metal sung in Russian. Not much on them on the web cept on their label site and a wee bit on Metal Archives.  I got CD for $5  I did at Amoeba. But NWN! has a copy here. Also listen here.

Dark Heart -  Shadows of the Night (Roadrunner) One of those records I was afraid of getting instantly disappointed by via the very Duran Duran looking artwork. Turns out I was way off. Rather solid NWOBHM with some nice "ah-ah-ah-ahhhhhh" backing choruses; riffs. Not far from the likes of 1st album and early singles-era Def Leppard, Dark Star, and Angel Witch.

Ded Engine - s/t  aka: Hot Shot (Pentagram) - 1985 LP debut of what some called the "American Judas Priest" to some but not as slick or obvious as Malice. Ded Engine was from Detroit and were part of the better side of Michigan metal in the 80's - i.e. Repulsion. "Scream" gets right out of the gate & tears things up sounds closer to Hallow's Eve or Exciter. Weirdly I have no idea why this wasn't include in this era's greatest metalsploitation film. (much less any horror flick). Regardless, check this out it's worth your time.

Mercyful Fate - 1st EP (Rave On) - Bought this a second time (first time I trade my friend Steve in high school this EP for something shitty like Reckless something hey I was a dumb 16 yr old). Sure enough I bought this the day before King's favorite holiday. Went back to Amoeba SF where I got this just yesterday and there's 2 copies just sitting there. I have no idea if this is a super sneaky bootleg but all the right  details seem to be there. Either way, fuck it - I have their first three on vinyl (Melissa  and Don't Break the Oath I bought when "metal was dead" in 1994 for $4 each).

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Gettin' Bratty

First things first - this blog hasn't bit the dust but I have been working on other things and trying to sort out everyday life junk since last time. But I have a bunch of backlogged posts and ideas for posts one of which is  this.

In punk and metal there's several bands with "Brats" in their name - so I'm gonna sort 'em out for ya.

Let's start in Denmark with the short-lived but tremendously underrated Brats. These Danish Brats started in 1977 not long after the UK & US punk explosion. Their releases span just 2 years but in this time they moved from raw punk, to a combination of punk & hard rock to heavy metal.

Their line up originally had just 1 future Mercyful Fate member - Hank Sherman known then under his "nom du punk", Hank De Wank. The rest also had punkoid names: Franz De Zaster on vocals, Mikey Rat on bass and Eddie Haircut on drums. Between the these first two line-ups they released: 1 LP, a split 7" and had an LP worth of material from the early days that thankfully was released in 2008.

The Brats first official release is 3 tracks on the Dane punk comp. Pære Punk (Pear Punk? not 100% sure about this translation). Their 3 tracks on the comp: "Dreams", "I Do What I Wanna Do" and "Magazine" are all filled with great riffs, raw Ramones-y/Rotten-y vocals and super catchy parts. Much of this proves that punk didn't die after 1978 as it was plenty alive int the rest of Europe and of course continued in the US & UK if you just looked beyond the generic history (i.e, "Sex Pistols break up = punk is dead").

Other early songs showed up later on several 1990s punk compilations such as: 1997's Bloodstains Across Denmark and  1998's Springtime In Belsen. Of course being an obscure punk act they show up on Hell, Norway's finest compilation(s): Killed By Death - in this case #007. This KBD comp also features The Cleavers from Portland who I wrote about on my other blog.

The line up changed in 1980 with Hank playing guitar alongside Michael Denner, (Lars) Monroe on drums (plus the occasional synth and piano) as well as new vocalist Yenz (Leonhardt) on lead vocals.

The 1980 Brats album is much light years ahead in production and song structure. In part this had to do with being on a major label, CBS. CBS who would also sign fellow Danes, Pretty Maids several years later. During their  time with CBS  (which was really the Dutch division which unfortunately didn't expand into the UK or US) - Brats released a split 7" with the short-lived act, Tyrantz. There's at least 3 different versions of that split 7" shown here. The band sold a good amount of record (I dunno the exact number) in France and also got some radio play in The Netherlands. The Dutch CBS also put out the Brats 1980 LP. (Collector nerd note: first pressings came with a sticker.)

The 1980 songs mix the original punk energy with often longer songs - the shortest being the excellent "Punk Fashion" clocking in 1:34. The mellow intro into fast and bombastic riffing of the 2nd track "Tame Me (Insomniac)" has a chord progression that's foreshadows build up on Mercyful Fate's "Come to the Sabbath". The poppier mid-paced "B-Brains" recalls the Damned crossed with the NY Dolls - especially in Yenz's vocals. Other things that reference their Fate-ful future are the church bells in the  long, semi-ballad "Complex (Don't Destroy Me)" and the lyric "you are the future/the next decade is yours/there'll be 1000's of maniacs/and they won't find no cure."

The short-lived and very appropriately named Danish label, Diamond Records released 1980 Brats on CD. I luckily was able to score a copy of this around 2002 at Rasputin's in Campbell, CA. Prior to this Brats were a band I knew of and every once awhile you'd see bootleg tapes of theirs at the original Berkeley Rasputin's Records (Telegraph Ave location next to Bank of America) but paying $8-$10 for 1 tape was out of my range then - even if it was filled with killer Denner/Sherman riffage.

The last Brats line up had new vocalist King Diamond from short-lived hard rockin' proggers, Black Rose. The band also saw Michael Denner placed by new 6-stringer Carsten Van Der Volsing. They recorded an album-length demo in January 1981 which wound up on bootlegged tapes that got traded around a bit as Mercyful Fate's popularity grew in the early 80's. As for the change to a more metal focus sound Hank said in an interview with Snakepit magazine:

It was specially my progression into the heavier stuff and of course King's vocals so it was a very natural transition. Also remember IRON MAIDEN and other band started to hit the scene and of course that also inspired us. 

More metallic 2nd-era line up

King-era Brats or super early Fate (note the cross is right-side up)?

1981 Flyer from Denmark (I wonder if this is the Swedish Overdrive on the bill)

Several of the demo tracks became Fate songs. The neat thing about these changes between Brats and Mercyful Fate is how many different versions there are. In some cases, there's 2 different versions of what later became an album track on Return of the Vampire, Melissa and Don't Break the Oath.

Brats 1981-era songs and their various "Fate-ful" incarnations:

Some Day = On a Night of Full Moon  ->  Desecration of Souls
Death Kiss = Walking Back to Hell   - >  A Dangerous Meeting
Love Criminals -> Into the Coven
Nightriders  -&gt ;  Curse of the Pharaohs
Powers of Darkness -> Return of the Vampire. 

Few metal bands aside from Hellhammer had a similar song writing process. For more see/hear Hellhammer's - Demon Entrails of the band's 1983 recordings and the Celtic Frost's - Demos '84 & '85.

Yenz later showed up in all sorts of bands. First with the chee-zee Geisha.Their song "Shock Rock School" is a "should been in a B-movie" soundtrack. Other members of Geisha had connections with King Diamond's solo band and Motörhead as Mickey Dee was once the drummer. Geisha comes off like the Danish version of Helix for what that's worth (3 kroner?). Dumb & slightly rockin' and at least sometimes fun. Later Yenz was in power metallers, Iron Saviour, and goth-cheese meisters, Lacrimosa. 

In 1973 Hollywood had the rather good proto-punkers Berlin Brats. Berlin Brats' sound is a rawer mix of the dirtiest side of the Stones and NY Dolls. They were called by Rodney Bingeheimer "The West Coast's first Punk Band". Their song "(I'm) Psychotic" uses a similar call out chorus as The Sonics' "Strychnine" and the spelled out bit 'ala W.A.S.P. "L.O.V.E. Machine".

Their last show was headlining S.F.'s Mabuhay Gardens with the Avengers. Their break up lead to another rather good and also overlooked West Coast punk act, The Mau-Maus.

Hollywood Brats - Pretty boys with an ugly rep. 

'Round the same time of the Berlin Brats, Tinseltown had the Hollywood Brats who had the incredible "punk as fuck before punk" tune "Sick on You".   Hollywood Brats were underground shock-rockers who according to
were banned for like for puking in the drinks and throwing an ashtray at Bryan Ferry's head
 The (Hollywood) Brats showed nothing but contempt for the audience. Men wanted to fight them. Crowds tried to beat them. 
Hollywood Brats' mayhem continued with a load more of controversy on the local scene. I wonder if their crazy antics would continued had they crossed paths with the Berlin Brats? Or any of these other Bratty bands.

Over in Detroit there was the glam punk of the Trash Brats. The Trash Brats started in 1986 and ran 'til 2002 (with a few reunion shows in 2010). Trash Brats mixed the catchy chorus of Hanoi Rocks and the riffing of the classics like NY Dolls/The Heartbreakers and at times overlapped with mid-paced pop-punk with actually pretty good results. Weirdly they opened for Kid Rock in one of the bigger venues in Detroit and appeared on a garage rock comp back in '86  under the name Brat. There's a good interview with at the Detroit Metro Times. This one's below is a killer pure punk tune.

Going back to Denmark and the modern-era we have Scavenger Brats who have a tune of rather rippin' thrash metal that mixes (proper-era) Slayer, Dr. Know, Sacrifice (Canada) and The Accüsed. Scavenger Brats have also been named checked in the "new wave of whatever the fuck it is" scene in Kopenhavn.

During coke n' spandex-era Hollywood were the "not quite from Flatbush", Brookyln Brats - Their sound was the bog-standard "American" hard rock/lite metal. Lots of groggy mid-paced tunes with the mechanical echoing drums and really dumb, uninspired choruses - 'ala every KISS record in the 80's. Swimming somewhere between a dull ocean of early 80's KISS, Quiet Riot and Whitesnake. There's a few "almost" moments on "We Live to Rock" but it's way too stuck on the chorus repeating 8000 times.

What in Hades? Marvel Comics, Tony Danza AND Brookyln Brats!?!? 

I used to see this picture disc taking up space at Dublin, CA's The Record Factory between the Bathory and  Black n' Blue LPs. The only one who championed these guys was Metal Forces, not-too-metal writer, Kelv Hellrazer Regardless of how far he's on the "false-o-meter" - I do admire that Kelv dug deep into the treacherously fluffy, Aqua-netted, tight trousered ditch that was 1980's hair farmer rock and A.O.R.  Now more information than you require about Brookyln Brats.

If you still need cheese there's always New York's Battle Brat. Not only were these guys were cursed with an incredibly generic sound that floated somewhere between Icon/Dokken/Keel - they also had some of the worst album covers this side of Nuclear Blast's department of photoshop horrors. That said, they did have some OK speed metal tunes early on that come off like a discount Agent Steel.


Lastly, metal-archives has an entry for a circa: 2004 umlauted Chicago thrash act, The Bräts. While on  the surface this isn't anything special check their lyric topics: Clones, Blood, Killing, Death, Rocking Out. Now the question is did they ever cover Alice Cooper's "Clones"


1) Denmark's Brats info from the liner notes of 1980 Brats CD, The Lost Tapes - Copenhaven 1979 LP and Snakepit magazine No.14 - Hank Sherman interview. I have yet to hear or see anything on the other pre-Mercyful Fate-connected bands like Starchaser and King's other early band, Brainstorm. However, I can't forget the post-Brats/pre-Mercyful Fate band, Danger Zone. Danger Zone was Michael Denner's project after he left Brats. He decided to play with King, Hank, drummer "Old" Nick Smith & Timi "Grabber" Hansen. As the metal-archives entry says: 

Michael Denner, Timi Hansen and (Ol') Nick Smith joined Hank Sherman & King Diamond in their new band Mercyful Fate.The rest is history... 

2) Much more detail about the Brats vs. Mercyful Fate versions can be found in the massive Mercyful Fate/King Diamond article and interview in Chips & Beer magazine #2.

3) Carsten Van der Volsing - played with Mercyful Fate on their first two demos: March 1981 (where he played bass and guitars), April 1981 and Burning the Cross June 1981 demo). Benny Petersen (of early 80's speedsters, Evil who did a killer EP featuring a great advice tune called "Take Good Care of Your Balls") showed up on demo #3 and "Burning the Cross". We don't hear from 'ol Hank zee Wank again until the first s/t EP in September 1982.

4) Some of Brats (DK) images from:

5) Berlin Brats info from line notes to their CD, Believe it or Rot (1973-1976) via Rachet Blade Records.

6) Discogs mixes up the info for the Hollywood Brats & (Danish) Brats on their page for the The Whiplash Tapes comp and links the (Danish) Brats as the artist to "Be A Man".

7) "American" style production/sound was used as a generic catch all for "making a shitty, super-polished record" usually with a with full of bad ideas U.S.-producer: Michael Wagner's work with Motley Crue and Raven. Or when Krokus went from being a pretty good Swiss heavy rock/metal act (on Headhunter) to doing naff tunes exactly like every fluff rocker on the Strip.

8) Metal bands named Brat in it's single form also show up in metal-archives. One of which was from Largo, Florida between 1981-84 and sound like a mix between Armored Saint, early Jag Panzer & GWAR! (Well the occasionally the vocalist & the backing chorus reminds me of  them). Check 'em out.  The second Brat were from Philly and were ex-members the even more generic named The End.

9) No, I'm not gonna write about Da Brat. She's not exactly underrated. Same goes for the Lower Class Brats.

Monday, July 23, 2012

For David B.

David (left) with my friend and my parent's friend, Jim

That's Borowy not Bowie

I’m really hating to find out about more and more people I care about either people whose music & art I’ve loved or people I’ve known dying in the last several months. The latter part of this came up this yesterday afternoon – when I got an e-mail from my dad about his friend from way back, David who was found dead in Golden Gate Park on July 8th. The story however, just got into the news via the Bay Area Reporter.
The tragic way he died mentioned in this article was in some ways how he lived but that’s not really the person I knew and and not really the person my family was friends with.

I first met David around age 12 – he was part of the circle of gay guys my dad would go out drinking with in S.F. and in Oakland. Their S.F. haunt was Sutter’s Mill on (Sutter Street in the Financial District not far from where I worked in the mid-2000s). In Oakland they went to the White Horse (at 66th and Telegraph). Funny thing was David’s full name sounded a LOT like David Bowie. So, my sister and I at first joked that our dad was now friends with the Thin White Duke. Turned out that David had a few Bowie records in his collection as did my sister (she had recently saw him play at the Day on the Green) so they instantly connected. 

  Darci, Darci!

David was from Chicago but oddly enough talked with a NYC accent. He worked for many years at an ad agency called Darci. Anytime we would pass a billboard on Highway 80 going on or off the Bay Bridge he could point out and say “Darci!”. Darci also did radio ads – namely the one for Oxy zit pads. Those ads were run a lot on David’s favorite station, KQAK (“The Quake”) which was the “Rock of the 80’s”/new wave spot on the dial.  The other funny thing was he had his own slang or at least used terms I never heard anyone else say. If he hadn't seen or done something in awhile it was "I haven't watched that show in days!" which meant years & years.  Or "I haven't had this ice cream in days!”

He was 24 when I first met him and was balding, which made me think he was more in his mid-30’s. (Then again I thought that 24 was “hella old” then). From 1982-84 he was a close friend of my dad’s and eventually got to know my mom pretty well.  Eventually he met my uncle, aunt, cousins and even my crazy grandma (Oy!).  He was there for both my sister and I’s high school graduations, and he was there when my sister married her first husband.

Familiar Values not "Family Values"

During those years that David and my dad were good friends -  my Dad was part of an organization in the Bay Area called Gay Fathers which was just that - a gay fellers support group who were dealing with issues of divorce, family, and life in general. While this sounds very normal nowadays - in the shadow of the iron fist(s) of Reagan and the religious right it was all too necessary. This group was VERY needed for kids like my sister & I. The group would meet on Sunday nights in various churches. You gotta love that about S.F. – even in the era of thickheaded televampires like Jerry Faldwell  - these churches had no issues with gay organizations. 

Another thing about the Father’s group meetings was how truly nice everyone was, how many friends and acquaintances my dad had there. (Also, the tons of food was nice). Additionally the meetings had a group for the real young kids (ages 0-12) and the 12 & up group which my sister & I were in. These youth groups were where we made several friends. Namely, my friend Zack who I played video games with (at Oakland’s “Gametown USA”) and watched a lot of football with. Whereas, my sister was friends with an older, late high school aged guy named Aaron, who had a bad-ass record collection and also friends with some nice girls from Foster City – one who was a year younger than me & the other was a year older than my sister.  All of us kids participated in the Gay Freedom Day Parade (now the GLBT Pride Parade) but I had to keep it a secret 'cause I didn't want anyone to know I was in any way associated "with a bunch of faggots!" as the braintrust of Pleasanton would often say. 

    Heavy Discussions

The youth group meetings were run by a 40-something former New Yorker named Marty. There were some heavy issues discussed in the group. The main topic was “have you told any of your friends about your dad?” I let everyone else go before me. I believe my sister said she was able to tell a few friends and they were OK with it. I think in part her friends having a positive reaction was due to her being part of the New Wave and Punk scenes. The fact that those scenes were OK with everyone from Bowie to Marc Almond of Soft Cell to Gary Floyd of The Dicks* was impressive. However, in my closed minded group of rocker dudes, I may as well have been in the Joe McCarthy-era and said my dad’s a friggin’ commie. This was still the time when I was getting in a lot of fights and I didn’t wanna give those shitbags at school another reason to taunt me. Sure this is now ironic ‘cause these dillrods loved Motley Crue, Judas Priest, and Aerosmith. But long story short, I had to live a “double-life” when it came to my dad’s post-divorce relations.

Anyway, David was friends with several people in the father’s group and hung out and partied with a few of them. Along with my dad (and my uncle’s) friend from way back in high school – Cliff. Now, David was more on the for lack of a better term, “femme” whereas Cliff was pretty “butch”. For some silly reason I had a hard time thinking people like Cliff were actually gay. I think TV and movie stereotypes really wrecked my brain. But moreso it didn’t help that I played baseball on my street with this older kid named Jimmy that would get mad and shout “arrgh, you faggot!” anytime I’d get a good hit. Or equally dumb, he would make a limp wrist gesture and say “Miracle on Polk Street!”  when one of us would hit a homer. (“Jeez, if they’re really ‘in the know’ how come they don’t say ‘Miracle on Castro Street?!” I would say in my head). Though, overall my dad had friends that were a wide spectrum of personalities and so on. Among the many progressions that GLBT Rights movement has made, I have to say I’m VERY glad the “limp wrist = queer = wrong” nonsense has gone the way of Ollie North’s career.  ("Who"? Exactly!)

A Yellow House in Alameda 

David also liked weed a lot and bought some of the last batch of primo stuff that my uncle was growing on his property in the Sierra Foothills (the stalks got nearly 5 ft high!). When my uncle stopped growing “the hoon” (as he called it), David grew his own. From his Alameda house you could see the pointy leaves not-so-slyly shadowed by an overlapping fern. 

David’s place was a neat little yellow stone, 1 bedroom cottage in Alameda – on (or near?) Lincoln – which was a short trip from my Dad’s place on Broadway Terrace in Oakland. I really liked the drive over since we went through the futuristic looking Posey Tunnel which often went well with the synth-based tunes on KQAK. He also lived near a market called Ralph’s (not the L.A. one) where I’d got on errands buying bananas and milk for him (presumably while he made either phone calls to guys he wanted to connect with or something else more “adult” or clandestine? Other times when he was hanging out at my dad's place he wanted me to go down to "'da Oriental rug place and lemme know 'da price of the Persians" I had little clue what he meant - so I just stuck to running food errands for him. For these Alameda-based errands, it's usually get $5 (which usually went into my candy/soda/rock n' roll tape budget). 

I spent several Saturday afternoons at David’s eating food (lots of Sara Lee cakes and sandwiches), listening to Grace Jones and Kraftwerk records.  I wasn’t much into Ms. Jones' and Kraftwerk was then a "too weird" - those were some of his fave artists and hell, at least it wasn’t Quiet Riot!  As for the Sara Lee cakes he bought at least 3 of every few days yet he seemed to eat these in moderation and never got fat off of them. Plus, I did a lot of reading (comics, zines and the occasional E.A. Poe or fantasy novel). I also remember a simple, albeit pretty sleazy looking print he had up in the living room that was simply titled “Wet”. However, it was much more suggestive and wasn’t exactly pornographic. This was mixed in with in with several Patrick Nagel prints and a really neat poster he got when visiting his mom in Tucson that featured all the hot peppers of the Southwest. 

The summer of ’83 we went to the beach few times. The first trip was the Father’s group’s summer party thingy on Stinson Beach in Marin County. I hadn’t ventured out that part of the Bay before (unless I was on a road trip as a wee lad). On the drive over – David asked me some basic questions – if there were any girls I liked at school – I said “yes, but I’m too shy to ever really talk to them”. Just the fact that I had someone else that I could talk to about these things made me feel comfortable. Plus, we talked about some of the b.s. I was dealing with in school – being bullied and feeling out of place, etc. David also told me if I ever get offered weed to “just try it”. I told him, “I dunno – it might mess me up”. He said – “if you just do a little off a joint it won’t kill you”. (Granted, I tried it a year later and got into it for the following 2 years. But I eventually just, uh, “burned out” on it). This was’nt long after the kids in the Father's group were talking discussing drug experiences: mushrooms, acid and speed - so the talk about drugs and use of drugs was becoming more common among people I knew. 

June '83 at the Gay Freedom Day Parade with David, my sister and my dad. Zack (left) and I are on (plastic) horns

Sometime around ’85 my dad wasn’t talking to or seeing much of David – apparently he had been hanging out with strange men in strange situations. Since A.I.D.S. was really big in the news then my dad and his friends got tested. Luckily none of them came up positive. However, David refused to get tested. Prior to that it seemed like he was just with various guys that were “just a little weird”. His refusal to get test was really scary – especially knowing that In the around ’87 (when I was 17) asking my dad “hey, what happened to_____” from the Father’s group? 9 times out of 10 the answer was “he died of A.I.D.S.” Meanwhile, I was feeling uncomfortable hearing A.I.D.S. jokes from comedians (i.e. Sam Kinison) and metal bands (i.e. - Metallica's “Master of Puppets” liner notes and the song “Anally Infected Death Sentence” from knuckledragging thrash act, M.O.D.).

Also, around this time, David getting into what my dad called “nose candy”. While I had heard about drugs in the gay scene such as weed and amyl nitrate (or as I heard them called “poppers” which sounded like something they’d get out of a vending machine at Lucky’s). But I never heard much about anyone getting into coke until then. I associated it with warmed over hippie-era bores like Jefferson Starship and closer to home - one of my former BMX racer friends who I knew around the time I met David. I saw him a few more times around age 15 when I suppose he had been bouncing back & forth with drug issues. Though, he seemed OK a few years later when I was 16 and didn’t show signs of an addict but my dad and his friends were more privy to these adult matters.

Out in the (Northern) California Sun

Going back to the trip to Stinson Beach - when I asked David about how he knew he was gay – he told me this really interesting story about being attracted to seeing the boys in high school in the swimming area. His school had a glass bottom swimming area that was apparently built over one of the hallways. So, he often would go over to the hallways and check out the guys swimming in their Speedos and Hang Ten trunks.

Later that same summer, David, my sister and I took a few trips to the Crown Beach on the Bay side of the Isle of Alameda. The Beach was fun although we more waded in the water than swam. It was here I discovered the strange jellies – not full-on jellyfish that were scattered by the thousands along the shores. When I realized they weren’t poisonous I immediately checked them out and soon enough began throwing them at my sister and David because that’s what dopey 14 year old boys do. 

The Power of Bea Arthur

The following summer of ’84 –  David was over my dad’s place quite a few times. My dad would make cheeseburgers like a beefed up (pun intended) version of our favorite junk food dive in Dublin, CA (Fandango’s). The one time we got to watch TV during dinner was when David was over and we got to watch his favorite shows: The Jeffersons and Maude. Regarding the latter show – he David would say of Bea Arthur “Maude gives great attitude and dishes it out!”

The funny thing was anytime we would watch TV with David, he’d make an “oooh-ooh” sounds anytime some hot guy was on screen. One time particularly he did this while the Atlanta Falcons’ lineman Bill Fralic walked to the ring when we were watching battle royale during Wrestlemania II on Showtime (I was watching for the storylines and I think he was watching it for the oily dudes).

In summary, David was one of those people who come into your life that is simply unforgettable. He was often a very welcoming presence when times were not good. Certainly he lived a very complicated but interesting life and I thank him for being such a good friend to myself and to my family.

ENDNOTES: Contrary to what anti-gay obsessive’s would have you think – every gay guy my sister & I met NEVER did anything weird or creepy to us. Occasionally I’d hear at the Father’s group someone say to my dad “you have really good looking kids” or “your son is gonna look really good when he gets older”. But nothing was ever insinuated and I always felt safe in that environment. Later in life, it was great to be able to talk with these issues with my friends who’ weren’t ANYTHING like those dickweeds by my high school who were always frothing with rage at anything “gay” or “faggy”. Again, even though I did have to live a “double life” whenever I got the question “hey, what’s up with your dad – is he meeting any women?” - I do feel like I gained a lot of experience from people like David and the Father’s Group.

*= Rather good early 80’s punk group from S.F. (via Texas) who’s openly gay singer. I’m pretty sure my sister saw them a few times at The Mab. Vocalist Gary Floyd wrote great classic & sarcastic tunes such as “I Hope You Get Drafted”, “Hate the Police”. In recent years got back together and played gay bars such as The Eagle and have had their early records reissued.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

New/newish bands worth your time

1) Demona - Chile via Montreal 'bangers & speed ragers with really great vocals. Admittedly, I rarely discover newer Metal bands that I'm 100% into on YouTube. YET early this spring I stumbled across their name after checking out a bunch of stuff on HeavyMetaller1978's incredible list of clips of HM/NWOBHM rarities. More on point, Demona are led by Tanza on vocals and guitar. Although, I believe she did all the instruments on her earlier releases. She has a really great guitar tone and lead playing that reaches back to a variety of sounds (hell, some "metal through time" acts I've barely even heard! But definitely check out their site for more info on Poltergeist, Wardance [Germany] and the REAL Warrant). Interestingly, Tanza's a second generation metaller as her father Mauricio "Jackie" was in the Vina del Mar thrash acts Distorsion and D.O.D. The latter band released a demo in 1989. Other than Metal-Archives, information seems to be hard to find on this band.

Demona's "The Assassin" - conjures up everything from Iron Angel to early Kreator (in the riffs) to Sentinel Beast to Destruction in the solos. Yet there's something very punk the way Tanza sings - very raw and straight ahead. Yet there's many wild changes that again conjure everything that's great with '85-'86 Speed Metal. I love how she throws in a very Germanic thrash style emphasis on the end of phrases:  "No one knows what's go-ing ONNNN!" Add to this the phonetic parts "Thee Ass-azz-siiin! which makes like an early Metallica slogan of the Young Metal Attack. Lastly they just released their excellent debut LP, Metal Through The Time which you can get from Germany's Heavy Forces Records.


2) Acid Evil - One woman possessed Thrashin' Black Metal Attack from Quito, Ecuador. I had been schooled a bit on Ecuadorian Metal via KZSU DJ Your Imaginary's friend visit there a few years ago. On his trip he scored me a CD-R comp of local Metal/Punk/HC bands from the national museum (erg, I forget the name of the comp and it's likely in the dark catacombs of my collection at the mo', but trust me, it's good!). Acid Evil's recording is pretty raw to the point you can hear her changing chords that are in the mix too often (and weirdly sound like a cat sneeze after awhile) down the neck but that adds to the charm. I would be curious how she would sound with a slightly better recording. That aside, "Baphomets Command" is fierce and challenges me enough to seek out more. The second version of this is a lot clearer (yet still quite raw and uncompromising) If you're dismissing this as "just another Destruction rip off" you're brain's er, cracked. At the 2:35 mark she pulls off the always impressive "fast now faster" bit.

Their myspace  features 2 more songs "Toxic Mind" that has yet another Goblin sample along with a great build up in the chorus and a neat mix of repetition and variation in the riffing."Noctrum Polaris" is feels a bit longer and uses a similar formula as "Toxic Mind" but in the chorus does a "1 riff/pull back" approach. Then they layer a bunch more notes immediately after. You can get the (very limited) split tape between Acid Evil and Demona was available on their site but check their Facebook for further updates/availability.

3) Heavy Cross - Not to be confused with the Georgian band of the same name or this Black Metal/Punk band. Anyway, THIS Heavy (as in fuckin' traditional/Heavy Metal) Cross will be soon releasing (on 31st of May)  their debut 7" on Hells Headbangers. The A-side."Street Wolf" is an fantastic, classic FWOSHM styled number that doesn't come off obvious and clunky like say, Priestess or some shit. The flip, "Red Light Woman" is a sleazy (but not stupid)* mix of 70's Alice Cooper, a lost Brats (Denmark) demo and NWOBHM acts like Nightime Flyer.  Sure these riffs/solos have been done before but it's the spirit of the thing that makes it stand out. Dig it:

* sleazy (but not stupid) = Venom's "Poison", Mercyful Fate's "Nuns Have No Fun", Nasty Savage's "XXX" and "Dungeon of Pleasure". Sleazy AND stupid = Motley Crue, Posin', Steel Panther

4) Gouge - Yet another upcoming release by Hells Headbanger's. Dirty, filthy Death/Grind with a strong Repulsion/Master/Slaughter (Canada, of course!) influence. Punishing riffs and wild, wailing solos from outta nowhere. Lately, I've not been nutsy about "regressive Death/Grind Metal" but this hits all the right spots and has all the right amount of grit, grime and gnarl. It was hard to find other info on them other than this but go forth or forever pose!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Coolest/Weirdest Things I’ve Seen At Shows

1. Sept 8, 2001 - “The Groovemaster” moving through the crowd outside after Creation Is Crucifixion/Kalmex & The Riffmerchants/Critical Art Ensemble show @ AK Press. “Excuse me but can the Groovemaster please get though...the group of us parted like the Red Sea and the Master of all things Groove put on his “jam box” to some killer (and yes, groovy!) jazz-funk! That man is a legend in my mind. He should be the mayor of Oakland - “One City Under A Groove”! 

2. A weird wizard looking guy with big Santa Claus-ish bag @ ‘Maiden 1985 AND Ozzy 1986 at the Cow Palace shows – supposedly he was a HUGE acid dealer in the 80’s.

3. Legions of heshers throwing beer bottles in line during Iron Maiden/Twisted Sister show @ Cow Palace March 21, 1985. The heshers (& I) were behind a steel railing and throwing bottles – attempting to make it into a garbage can that was approx. 30 feet away. After about 40-45 tries one lucky guy sunk the shot with no, “backboard” or anything – just a perfect shot like a Larry Bird 3 pointer. The crowd errupted with a bunch of “Fuck Yeaaaaahs”! and “Wooooos!” The cops stopped it immediately after. Man, just like Dio said it was like broken glass you got caught before you see it. 

4. David Yow nearly landing on me and a lame ass stage diver falling on me during Therapy’s set when they were opening for Jesus Lizard/Helmet show @ Warfield April ‘93.

5. Earlier at the same show, I was interviewing the band Therapy? And hearing Helmet play BOC’s “Cities Of Flame (With Rock N’ Roll)” during soundcheck. Still regretting not taping that & bootleggin’ it.

6. Seeing and pushing back into the pit - a mosh-tress - a fully moshable/stage-dive-uponable matress at 924 Gilman circa: 2005 during Vitamin X. 

7. Seeing a giant vat of Capt’n Crunch Crunchberries backstage @ One Step Beyond in Feb ‘93 while interviewing the Melvins

8. The band Abstain playing under 1-2 small red lights giving them the look of the insert photos from Celtic Frost's Morbid Tales LP while me & another guy calling out names of pro wrestlers in between every song. 924 Gilman, January 1998

9. Some lame guy whining to Buzz from the Melvins near the end of their set @ One Step Beyond. “C’mmmoooonn! King Buzchzzzooo....We-REACH...C’mooonnn! We-Reach!” The curtain closing and then-bassist & known junkie, Lori saying “Stoo-pid!”

10. Poison Idea’s Jerry A breaking a tooth and cutting off their set. July ‘97 Bottom of the Hill

11. Every Slobber show – grass throwing, annoyed college students trying to study outdoors on Friday night, grass throwing, 40 oz. of root beer drinking, clown suits, cardboard John Wayne, rubber corpses, 

12. Having my ticket nearly melt in my hands while in line for Ratt/Fastway/Mama’s Boys, San Jose Civic, July 1984

13. A guy in a yeti suit moshing to Connoisseur in August 2011 at Gilman

14. Ditching my friend Steve’s jam box in the bushes while he & I thought about going to see local fluff rockers Air Raid, Pleasanton Civic Center, March, 1985.

15. A pool of blood and stale beer oozing on top of a ledge @ the Uptown in Minneapolis, 1993 after the Dumpster Juice show. 

16. Adam Vomit of The Toilet Boys clocking some dopey bro-down with his bass at the Cactus Club, San Jose 1998. 

17. A guy in an Oakland A's lucha libre mask moshing at 924 Gilman St., 2004. 

18. Some idiot turning on the fire prevention sprinklers @ One Step Beyond, Santa Clara, CA 1992 – Melvins show.

19. Watching cop car after cop car pass by on way back to Disposable Heroes of Hip-Hoprisy show April 1992, San Jose, CA only a day after the LA Riots began

20. Being called “Lil Lemmy” after talking to a girl after a High On Fire show in S.F. who had a   Motörhead patch on her jacket. Funny thing is I look nothing like Mr. Kilmeister but whatever, I'll take it as a compliment. 

21. Sleep playing an early version of Jerusalem while they opened for Hawkwind. A friend of mine went out to play 3 games of pool at the start of the song, came back and they were still playing. San Jose, Cactus Club, 1994. 

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Bangin' in Belgium - Shockwave Video Review

NOTE: I wrote up this review initially in 1996 (!) when I rented this vid from Palo Alto's (now MV's) Videoscope. I figured I'd unearth this since it might be of interest to yas.

 Shockwave was a one shot Heavy Metal festival in 1985 put together by the owners of the underground Belgian label, Mausoleum (who used the similar logo as the 1983 horror film). The organizers wanted to film the bands live but ran into a connundrum - this is underground Heavy Metal on small indie labels but we could at least get coverage from the Metal fanzines like Metal Hammer (which was then only available in German), Aardshok - or better yet, Kerrang or Metal Forces. MTV's not going to touch this with a 50 foot pole. So they decided to do it themselves and the results are on. "Shockwave" was also the title of a rather good Beligan band o' Motörbangers called Killer. The cover to Killer's Shockwave" always reminded me of the movie poster of The Keep.

Since many bands were starting to release videos, the label saw it fit to not just focus on one band (and really didn't Mausoleum have 40+ bands signed by mid-1985?!?) and showcase many a metaller from Belgium, Germany, the UK, and 1 act from the USA.

Belgium's Lion's Pride - have a couple of OK but very standard riffs the vocals are in that mid-range of rough but sort of melodic sound like say, Loudness or a early 80's metal version of the guy from Agony Column. A little bland overall but sometimes interesting. I do remember seening their LP in the Record Factory in Dublin, CA sitting on the shelf for close to a year. They even put the damn thing on an end cap - thinking "somebody's GOT to buy this..." This isn't from Shockwave but this is from the same-era.

Polish bangers T.S.A. (T.S.A. stands for "Tajne Stowarzyszenie Abstynentów", which means "Teetotallers Secret Association") are up next. They were the first Polish band to make it outside their counties borders. (Turbo and Wilczy Pająk (aka: Wolf Spider) were only known by a few tape traders. Some goes for Vader who didn't take off 'til 5-6 years later). As of 2010 these guys were still playing shows (or at least some form of them). Their singer looks like Rudy Schenker of the Scorps. On a similar German metal tip, their 2nd tune on the video "Race Machine Hero" is a nice, tight speedy number that sounds right off of Accept's "Restless & Wild". Even rougher vocals than Udo. oh and, never mind the lame drum machine intro/outros.

Alaska's 2 songs are really 2 songs too many. This is the unholy equation of: Bon Jovi + John Waite (the guy mostly know for that P. Diddy sampled on "Missing You") + Tesla = puuuuke! The only "significance" this band had was Mel Galley, Bernie Marsden and Don Airey played in the early, slightly listenable version of Whitesnake. Although, Airey at least played on much better records with Ozzy and Colosseum II. Regardless of their rock resumes this is pure pomp rock hell.

Belgium's own Crossfire laydown a couple of good numbers. The Metallion site puts it aptly: "The band's music is a mix of NWOBHM, Quiet Riot and AC/DC and is nowhere near as thrashy as one would expect...Fans of everything from NWOBHM to boogie metal to Motorhead may find something here, while others may be disappointed by the lack of distinctiveness or creativity." Although supsrisingly they make all of these things work. Also, they had a song called "Killing A Cop" which granted wasn't as threatening as M.D.C. or Ice-T to "the man" but still - Belgian cops were (and probably still are) dicks to metalheads & punks. As Ali "TheMetalion" writes (again from The Metalion). And yes, they have silly mustaches and spandex but at least they did it then when that was pretty normal.  Besides, Mantas' Beligan doppelgänger is on left guitar. (Not sure if which of excellently named 6-stringers this is: Nero Neerinckx or  Rudy Van de Sype). This tune may or may not be from "Shockwaves" but it filled with some raw imagery & a rather rippin' tune'. 

Germany's Faithful Breath make some vague hard rock/sometimes Metal sound with this collision of Raven/Accept and Nazereth. All of this is odd since they started in the early 70's as a prog band! Plus, they all wear furs and the vocalist has a generic but nice viking helmet (Note: real vikings DIDN'T wear horned helmets but still they do look pretty rad if you're in a German metal band in the 80's). This isn't from "Shockwave' but it was a great song from them the exudes tough & true 80's power metal. The visuals are super-discount video but I admire bands when they just do these cheap-ass videos with the intent to just have fun and rock out. Who needs some "conceptual video" like Queensryche when you can kick ass on a viking boat made of Legos on a lake? Even the ever fading color of the video gives it that extra charm. How I love my "discount metal".

McCoy (featuring John McCoy from Gillan and Mammoth) are pretty awful. There's no clip of their footage but when you can imagine how half-assed they are with lyrics like ones here (OK, the riffs in here are good but maaaan!). Often their tempos trudge like a turtle on downers then they throw in dull "bluesy" tempos and there was some "biker mama" type in band that just made it weird and lame.

Next up with "On the Attack" is New York's Blacklace. Maryann Scandiffio's vocals here clumsy sort of like a off the mark Halford. The riffs are OK but the song's overall is a chock-a-block with dull cliches. bit above passable, the riffs are good & tight. Yet the solos and overall structure are pretty generic. Guitarist Carlo Fragnito's Eddie Van Halen-ish hot doggin' on the fretboard is no help either. The next tune this tune's in someway isn't too far from Christian Mistress. Visually there's an excess of stripes, fringe and lace aren't exactly making them standout in Circa: 1984 HM. Although, they do a bit better on the next tune "Call of the Wild" but that's due to their answering the question "What if Krokus circa: Headhunter had a female singer and sorta sounded like a Christian Mistress outtake?"

Lastly and not live at all is Venom's videos for "Witching Hour" and "Bloodlust". These are more like "performance" videos. Especially considering the massive amount of guitar wailing during "Witching Hour" which show Mantas not even holding his guitar! Still, these are 2 pretty potent versions of two of their early 80's classics. If you want to experience these songs in full - go check out the 1996 reunion show at Dynamo or their '85 "Hell At Hammersmith" video.

Endnotes: Zoinks! After writing all this I found someone's done an entire blog for this videotape! Let me introduce you to your new friend, Shockwave Heavy Metal Blogspot

Some old rants against bad music writing

AKA: The Metro’s Fails and Bad!

Flipping through the kitty litter liner alt-weekly Silcon’s Valley Metro in recent weeks has been more than enough to rile my music geek status. Buried among the random articles about random “cool stuff” in the nowheresville ‘burg of Morgan Hill and ads for the ultra lounge pestilence was some music blurbs. Keep in mind the Metro has had a horrible record of supporting good, local music. When Sleep, Neurosis and the Melvins were playing shows they got not next to no coverage. Whereas if one of ex-pro skater Steve Cabellero’s shitty bands had a show at the Cactus Club then there would be at least several paragraphs. (Same went for the equally awful "scene mag" City Revolt). Funny how that one turned out. No one’s ever listed Shovelhead or Soda as an influence.

Some emo-indie nerd in the August 27th-September 2 edition wrote about the upcoming Metal Masters Tour by referencing nothing abot the music. Here’s the blurb in full

“Metal Masters Tour
WHILE THE LEGACY of Judas Priest certainly extends beyond Ron Halford's coming out of the closet, the synthesizing punk rocker known as Atom and His Package immortalized the significance of that event in a song called "Hats off to Halford." "When Rob Halford came out of the closet, it may not have been a big thing," sings Package, "Well, today we're one step closer to hearing the metal dudes sing, 'I wanna be, I wanna be a homosexual.'" Join Judas Priest for their "Metal Masters Tour," which also includes Heaven and Hell, Motorhead and Testament.”

Oh, Halford is gay is old REAL old news but this is still annoying as fuck. “While the legacy...extends beyond coming out of the closet...” then is goes into referencing the not-metal at all 90’s blip on the map, Atom And His Package and even throws in a reference to Sloppy Seconds (by changing the words of their “I Don’t Wanna Be A Homosexual” to “I Wanna”). Oh, yeah never mind Judas Priest helped define Heavy Metal throughout the late 70’s & into the 80’s. Or never mind that they’re playing with Atom’s moment in the indie rock/college radio sun was amusing for a short spell but really does anyone save this Metro writer, go back, listen and talk about how stands the test of time?

Secondly and equally dumb was this jab at Cheap Trick.

“Over the years since Perry's departure, Journey has had a slew of temporary lead singers, but in 2007 the group made headlines for choosing Philippines native Arnel Pineda after guitarist Neal Schon saw videos on YouTube of Pineda performing covers of Journey songs. Pineda's spark onstage has reignited Journey's fire, and the group is performing with more dynamism than fans have seen since the Perry years. Sister act Heart and '80s hair band Cheap Trick open. (CY)"

80s? Hair Band? Seriously? First off all this easily could’ve been fixed with a simple search on AMG, Discogs or even Wikipedia. Cheap Trick’s first album came out in 1977 and they continued making some of the best hard rockin’ power pop of the latter half of that decade. Around 1982 they started sucking with too many “yes men” and guest producers around them (George Martin being one of them).

If anything Cheap Trick’s "hard rock vs. pop" stuff formula worked for them and only was a curory influence on bubble gum/big hair bands of the 80’s. The only one that took maybe a direct influence from C.T. Was probably fellow Illnoisians (Illinoisers?), Enfu Z’ Nuff. ‘The Trick’s music was featured in a variety of movies that have a cult following: Meatballs, Heavy Metal, and the ultra-awesome “Over The Edge”. Lest, we forget that they did the theme song to the otherwise, crappy sitcom, “That 70’s Show” because they were a band from the 70’s! Cheap Trick wasn’t a friggin’ ‘hair band’. Besides, what “80’s hair band” has ever done a theme song to "The Colbert Report" much less had an official day?