Thursday, December 27, 2007


If you've spent time with any amount of regularity in a local bar (preferably one in your neighborhood that you don't have to drive to), and are fortunate enough to know the staff, you know that they can be like a second family. This is especially true if it's been your haunt for a long while. Bartenders can be surrogate parents, brothers, sisters, drill sergeants or shrinks. Sometimes they can be all in one night. And Ruthie, my favorite bartender of all time, often was.
Ruthie wasn't the owner of Pacific Shores, but she might as well have been. She was a rarity among bartenders, one that was equally comfortable with the career barflies that held down stools during the day and "those damn kids" that came in at night. I kind of straddled the chronological line. I was lucky enough to have started drinking there before the deluge of hipsters. I still count as one of my happiest moments the time the surley day bartender Dave bought me a beer. (It meant nothing to him, but to me, I had fucking arrived.) I owe that to Ruthie. As long as I was okay with Ruthie, I was okay with Dave.
Ruthie died earlier this year and there was a wake at the local Masonic Temple. There was no real eulogy. Instead the mic was passed as regulars related their favorite Ruthie stories. Most of them centered around her wit, her huge shrouded heart and her keenest of bullshit detectors.
A couple visitor entries at an online guide to San Diego are indicative of the way she was seen by younger patrons:
"The old lady bartender here is like Cruella DeVille minus the bank account. I swear she wakes up in the morning and has a bowl of cigerettes [sic] for breakfast. If she's working you better know what the fuck you want and you're best to not even smile at her. She will fuck your ass up! Seriously.. she can spot a smartass from 20 feet away. No shaninigans or you won't get a drink hipster!"
"Ruthie, the bartender who bears a resemblance to Carla Tortelli, takes umbrage with every stranger that walks in, frequently describing them in her raspy voice as "this cocksucker over here" or "fuckin' assholes," and regularly refuses to serve people who she doesn't like the look of."
Heart be still! She really was my type of people. Anti-fufu in all regards. I loved Ruthie and was smitten when, late one afternoon, I walked into the bar and she asked "Waddya want Tom, besides me?!" She was a good twenty years older than me, and, make no mistake, she was joking. But I still got the same feeling that I had the first time I experienced a reciprocated crush (and every time since). Even so, she really was too independent for male suitors even her own age, and probably thought of them as unneeded baggage. Besides, anyone her age would had a hard time keeping up with her. It was telling that she liked to go camping by herself.
I loved everything about that tough-skinned, raspy-voiced, frizzy haired beauty.
Everytime I hear "Here Comes a Regular" by the Replacements, I think of Pacific Shores. And everytime I think of the Shores, I think of Ruthie. I miss her. The world needs more people like Ruthie.
Now get the hell out.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007


When fucking around online (which, as you probably know, I do a lot of), I have a hard time deciding whether to hunt for music or read blogs. "Ah," you say, "you should just go to music blogs." Yeah, thanks, I'm on to them. The one thing about music blogs is that most of them write about musical facts, which is great if you want facts. I'd rather read descriptions of how the music felt, and maybe the writers' personal history with the music in question, especially with odd tangents thrown in there.
"I pulled up to a traffic light and there was a cop giving a guy a ticket in the parking lane. I was blasting "Ace of Spades" really loud and the cop, with his back toward me, started nodding his head. He slowly turned towards me and, with the pulled over driver's vision blocked by his body, the cop flashed the devil horns, with this weird 'you should have seen me back in the day' grin. (Devil horns, or metal horns, or whatever you call it. You know, the non-Hang Loose horns. I swear, metal heads invented the first-finger-instead-of-the-thumb version of the horns just to prove that they were capable of doing the version that was the biggest pain in the ass.)"
When a music blog writes bullshit like that, that I can read. Meandering. And if the blog in question is written by a musician (as opposed to an MP3 blog) that's okay too. It's like getting to know the musician rather than someone who listens to the musician. Not better necessarily, just a different person writing.
In the case of Khaela Maricich (aka The Blow), I had already heard her music, and had recently added The Blow to my "further listening" list. Tonight I happened by her blog, That Touch Me Feeling, and it had me listening to her music in a whole different light. Her last post (a few months old) has a video of one of her songs, "Hey Boy", being interviewed. The song is portrayed by a hand with a party hat on...well, you just have to see it. I found it really funny. She writes about her mom too. I love that shit.
Her second latest post is a letter to her own blog. Like the other post, it was imaginative.
And the post before that starts with, "Today was the day to seriously get down to business, and that meant standing in my underwear next to the front door, making a nest out of the twigs from my dead ficus tree." She goes on to write about the ficus dying "with only the attention of the large appliances," and her fear of moving into a new apartment.
It was good stuff. Too bad though, that these are old posts and it appears the blog is now dormant. But it did send me in search of "further listening."
Khaela Maricich's blog That Touch Me Feeling
Khaela Maricich entry at Wikipedia
BONUS! Kurtis Blow: When I was looking for The Blow mp3s, I ran across an mp3 of The Breaks by Kurtis Blow. The bass and the overall groove of it have always floored me. I could do with an instrumental version.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


Ike Turner died today, at age 76. Say what you will. Yeah, he fucked up; we all fuck up. But he made some kick-ass music. This one is sufficiently tweaked.
Details about his death at
Added 12/13/07: Six more MP3s from 1952-2006, an interview MP3 and lengthy write-up at Moistworks.

Friday, December 7, 2007


Back when I was about 20, I used to hang out at a small record store called Monty Rockers. When I say hang out, I mean all damn day. In the morning I would ride my entry level Honda 90 about ten miles east, park my ass on the floor by the magazine rack, and read fanzines, listen to music, and shoot the bull with the owner, Dan McLain, until the early evening. Every once in a while, in mid-afternoon, the cooler next to the bar-like counter would be be put to use, dispensing cheap beer (still another reason to hang out).

It was easy to eat up a whole day. McLain knew music and loved to talk about music. He wasn't some dorky orator of trivia, he was at his best when he was turning you on to a particular record. He would describe music in less than academic terms, and always reacted to music physically. Let him loose on a personal favorite and he'd really go nuts. He would sing along, holler, raise his fists in the air, and slam the counter like an evangelist (and you walked out a believer). This is how I was turned onto Gene Vincent and his Blue Caps.

Behind the counter in his store, up on a shelf, was a record that wasn't for sale. It was McLain's prized beat-to-shit copy of Gene Vincent and his Blue Caps' (self-titled) second album. It was long out of print, and reissues were rare back then. The first rockabilly revival hadn't even hit yet. The only Gene Vincent cut readily available was "Be-Bop-A-Lula" on a 45 (most likely backed with "Woman Love"). So, with a lack of any real context, my first exposure to Gene Vincent and his Blue Caps second album, arguably one of the best rockabilly LP's ever recorded, was something I wasn't prepared for. Augmented by McLain's animated proselytizing, I was blind-sided.
McLain knew every nook and cranny of that album. Once the needle dropped, he was almost conductor-like, pointing out the screams, yelps, catch-your-breath panting, and the short rapid fire guitar solos. Not only was this my introduction to Gene Vincent and real rockabilly abandonment, but also to the genius guitar playing of Cliff Gallup.

My guitar idol worship years had already passed a couple years earlier, when I got into punk rock (for obvious reasons). Thanks to the guitar idols of the 70s, solos were thought, rightfully so, to be self-indulgent and unneeded. Short, economic solos were nonexistent in mainstream rock; every guitarist seemed to be a prima donna or a "guitar slinger" (rock n' roll's version of a monster truck driver).

The Blue Caps' record from two decades earlier, though, was different. Between the yelping, screaming, panting, and a rhythm section-gone-wild, were compact, perfectly paced solos. Every note in place, fast and frantic, and exceptionally clean. Archetypal rock and roll licks in their purest form, before they were fucked with. Stonehenge, man.

I would soon learn that Gallup wasn't alone. There were a lot of excellent rockabilly guitarists in the early days; Scotty Moore, Paul Burlison, Eddie Cochran, Billy Lee Riley and James Burton, just to name a few. But none as revered over the years as Gallup. The respect for his playing amongst other guitarists is such that for years technical guitar freaks have studied his tablatures and his playing style. In 1993 guitar virtuoso Jeff Beck recorded a whole album of Gene Vincent covers, playing Gallup's solos note-for-note. (Not surprisingly, the album was meant not as a tribute to Vincent, but to Gallup.) Though, despite the adulation of other guitarists, Gallup's name is known little out of the circles of other players and rockabilly fanatics.

A few nights ago, while making the rounds of MP3 blogs, I ran across a posting an MP3 of Gene Vincent and his Blue Caps' "Who Slapped John?", from their first album, Blue Jean Bop. It's an excellent introduction to Gallup's playing. Though the song is short, clocking in at under two minutes, Gallup manages two solos before the one minute mark, and a third before all is said and done. (I lost count of the screams and yelps of the other band members).

The amazing thing is that "Who Slapped John?" is not unique. The bulk of Gene Vincent and his Blue Caps's first two albums rocks as hard and as efficiently. I don't usually recommend that anyone buy anything, but these albums represent rockabilly, and rock n' roll, at its very best (with sweat you can hear).

Shortly after my introduction to Gene Vincent, his first five albums began to be imported as French reissues. When they got to Monty Rockers, I worked for a day in McLain's shop in exchange for the first three. A whole day for a couple hours of recorded music. But it was, and remains, the highest reward for a day of work I've ever received. And today you can get the first two Vincent albums online, on the same CD, for under twenty dollars. (What the hell are you waiting for?)

Monday, December 3, 2007


I like Bob Dylan's music as much as the next guy, but in terms of my record collection, there is a gaping hole when it comes to his catalog. I have a few of his, all relatively early (Blonde on Blonde being the latest) and of course I know there's lots more out there considered "essential" listening. I'll get to it when I get too it (so just back off). I've given up buying shit just because it appears on lists. Devouring all of the "essential" albums of Dylan (or any artist) has never been a top priority for me, especially one with a shitload of stuff that's constantly referenced and tirelessly revered. The guy already has about five or six in my not-the-vastest collection, I gotta leave some room for the young guns. Which brings us to Karen O (Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs) and Cat Power's Dylan covers on the recently released I'm Not There soundtrack. Give me a Dylan cover in the hands of an younger artist that I already have a favorable opinion of and I'm a fly on stink.
These and three more Dylan covers at The Runout Groove
12/27: If those links go dead, try the ones at Twelve Major Chords
Added 12/4: Ran across a long blurb about the movie and three more non-soundtrack covers (13th Floor Elevators and Marrianne Faithful) at This Recording

Saturday, October 27, 2007


Speaking of Dick Dale (see last post below), here's some Peel Sessions that may or may not have been released. Recorded in 2002, they're a little meatier than his older output, but the ol' cuss still has it. Now if he'd only lose the pony tail and the headband that he's been sporting in recent years, we could relax a little bit over here.

Dick Dale: Avalanche (Peel session), Jesse (Peel session), Gremmie 02 (Peel session), Surf Trip (Peel session) at the Runout Groove
When in Ocean Beach, eat at Hodad's

Friday, October 26, 2007

Lights out, light up.

Troll the MP3 blogs enough and you'll run into posts about Mulatu Astatke, often referred to as the father of Ethio-jazz (or Ethiopian jazz). Though the jazz tag is really a little misleading, his music is indefinably other-worldly. Without knowing anything about him, it would be hard to peg the orgin or era of the sounds that you're hearing.

Much like Quentin Tarintino's serendipitous inclusion of Dick Dale and other surf music in Pulp Fiction's soundtrack, Astatke's music has enjoyed a slew of new attention from the inclusion on the soundtrack to Jim Jarmusch's Broken Flowers. If you haven't seen the film, it is highly recommended that you listen first context-free.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Rehab, Schmeehab...

Oh, the injustice. The guys at my local record store don't know who Sharon Jones is, and Amy Winehouse is in Target. It begs the familiar rhetorical question: If Amy Winehouse and Sharon Jones got into a fight, who would win?
Answer: Trick question! Lemmy is God!...oh, I mean Sharon Jones would beat the snot out of Winehouse.
Dig the real deal, Soul Sister #1, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings:
100 Days, 1oo Nights at Earfuzz, Loaded to the Gills, and Little Mike's
Got a Thing on My Mind at Little Mike's
This Land is Your Land at Little Mike's
Just Dropped in to See What Condition My Condition Was In at Cable and Tweed
Sharon Jones at Daptone Records

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Stop Listening To Bob Marley

In the years preceeding Marleymania, more than a few reggae recommendations came stateside from UK punk rockers (via the music press), and additional exploration quickly spread through their US counterparts. But before all that, the soundtrack to The Harder They Come had already introduced reggae neophytes to the Maytals, the Slickers, the Heptones, Scotty, Jimmy Cliff and others. And, in hindsight, by featuring multiple artists it was a far better set of training wheels than any single artist, Bob Marley or otherwise, could provide.
Chris Blackwell fucked that right up. The first release on his Island Records had been Millie Small's My Boy Lollipop. It became an unlikely hit, charting even the US. Convinced that Bob Marley could be the big international breakthrough artist he'd been waiting for, he took Marley's bare-bones Jamaican masters to England and laid overdubs of British session musicians over them. He then put the bank on Marley.
It was a move taken right out of UK's Trojan Records' playbook. Trojan had already made their mark a few years earlier, disinfecting scores of reggae songs to make them more palatable to English ears. But Trojan's approach wasn't nearly as narrow in scope, distributing promotion evenly among dozens of reggae artists.
If you grew up in the Marley era. or are otherwise on the fence about reggae, download these cuts and let them simmer. If the only reggae that you've really heard is Bob Marley, stop listening to Bob Marley. There's far more adventurous stuff out there.
Start From Scratch Reggae Starter Kit:
From The Harder They Come Soundtrack:
The Maytals - Pressure Drop MP3 [1]
Originals of songs covered famously by other bands:
Daddy Livingstone -A Message to You Rudie MP3 (covered by the Specials) [2]
Willie Williams - Armagideon Time MP3 (covered by the Clash) [2]
The Paragons - The Tide is High MP3 (covered bt Blondie) [2]
Junior Murvin - Police and Thieves MP3 (covered by the Clash)[2].
BONUS: An excellent Trojan cut:
MP3 Hosts:

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Five O'Clock World

If their bio on Subpop's site is to be believed, Pissed Jeans are office zombies by day, wild men by night. It goes on about the "straight" world they inhabit during the day (one as an insurance claims adjuster another as an account manager), inferring that their co-workers are clueless about their night job as a band. Whether or not it was even relevant, but intrigued by their anti-social band name, I skipped right to the download.
It's a pretty mean racket. Imagine My War-era Greg Ginn (playing uncharacteristically sloppy), sitting in with Flipper, with Darby Crash singing. Derivative as hell, but considering that the source material is a few decades old, and that they do seem to have a good grasp on it, you have to give the the benefit of the doubt. After all, even if only for this one song, they made dirty noisy sloppy post-hardcore sludge that begs to be played loud. And it sticks in your head. That is a good thing. They should quit their day jobs.
Interview @

Sunday, July 8, 2007


Photo: John Denny (Weirdos), Darby Crash (Germs) and Tomata du Plenty (Screamers) singing back-up vocals for Black Randy and the Metrosquad at the Masque, ca 1978. Original full size photo by Douglas Cavanaugh, can be found on Kristian Hoffman's site here.

The context in which the 77-78 era of California punk rock is experienced is everything. A lot of online sources get things a little skewed, some do a little research and get it right, and some "I was there" sites give interesting first-hand accounts.

One thing that needs to be remembered is, first and foremost, it was an full-on DIY phenomenon. People with little or no experience put out records and fanzines, and they were every bit as essential to the scenes as the bands were. There were no web pages, no MySpace, no Pro Tools, no mp3's or YouTube. Just scrappy kids that couldn't take the crap they were being fed any longer. Take DIY out of the equation, add thirty years and try not to choke on the words "punk's not dead."

The Skulls-Victims (What Records) [2]
5. Something I Learned Today

Compilations of Dangerhouse bands (and two Weirdos comps) are available at
Frontier Records.
Recommended reading: "We Got the Neutron Bomb" by Brendan Mullen and Mark Spitz

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

It Belongs to Us Dickweed

Fuck it, even George Bush isn't going to screw me out of this one.

Some music gets me off in a completely different way than music I listen to day in and day out. It's like hog dogs on a stick, or fried chicken: I absolutely love them, but indulging more than a couple times a year isn't a good idea. They're treats.

Circus music is like that. The San Diego State Aztec Fight Song is like that (don't ask, I've have no clue. I didn't even go to school there). Sky Saxon's voice is kind of like that. And, once a year, Stars and Stripes Forever by John Phllip Sousa is like that. I don't know why. It's one weird quirk.

I'm not going to let George Bush take that away.

Stars and Stripes Forever at Call Me Classical

Have a seat George...

"George, it's never a happy occasion to have these talks, and I think you know what's coming. We've given you every opportunity to improve your attitude, and your work habits. We've reminded you of your job description and let you know over and over again what we expect from you. We've had this talk repeatedly and things don't seem to be improving and, frankly, we don't think they will. It's never easy when it comes to this but, George, we feel it's best that you part company with us, find another position that would be more suited to your range of skills. We wish you the best of luck with whatever you choose to do at your next place of employment."
Enough is enough.
Let's Impeach the President by Neil Young at Inflight At Night
I Accuse You Mr. Bush by Keith Olbermann text at
I Accuse You Mr. Bush video commentary at
Illustration by Shepard Fairey

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Spacemen and Song Poems

After browsing through the incredible, ofttimes oddball, Waxidermy site, I found myself wandering aimlessly all over the internet. Good luck following the long-winded tangents that follow. (It starts with a nutty song, passes through alien abducted artist, past a pot smoking ball-player and back to vintage rock n' roll roots.) If you want to skip to the MP3 links, they're at the bottom of the post.

It started at Waxidermy, where I found a few song-poems. For the uninitiated, song-poems are songs created around poems or lyrics that people would send in with a fee and in return receive a recording of their work made into a song by complete strangers, usually musicians trying to eek out a living making music by whatever means necessary.

The particular song-poem that wound me up was "Space Scene," a song so brilliantly naive that it might as well be performed verbatim on Saturday Night Live. Sample lyric: "I'm a spaceman, zippin' and-a zappin, here and there, dancin' my life away." (Even if you're not into oddball stuff, consider throwing your friend into a pool of confusion by sticking it in the middle of a mix CD.) This is where I should have stopped, but I didn't.

Next stop: The Spaceman of Ocean Beach. In searching for a generic spaceman picture to accompany the Space Scene link, I ran into a whole YouTube page dedicated to Clint Cary, better known as the Spaceman of Ocean Beach, and his friend Bob Oaks. Spaceman, a painter, came to Ocean Beach (in San Diego) in the early sixties. He claimed to have met aliens from a planet called Rillispore, and that they essentially gave him the responsibility of assigning seats for a mankind-saving journey back to their planet.

If you ever met Spaceman, you were likely to be assigned a mysterious number, given to ensure passage on the flight to Rillispore. XIB/2 was Spaceman's number, and others were doled out in numerical order. (XIB/1, in case you're wondering, was some higher power's number. Why a higher power would require a ride on a spaceship is anyone's guess.)

Bob Oaks, also in the clips, was one of his best friends, a jazz musician who lived his last 30-odd years in the big cottage on the north side of the OB pier. Oaks met Spaceman when, as a favor for a friend, he picked him up from the airport upon his first arrival. They remained close friends until Spaceman's death in 1993.

Oaks is credited with tempering the community's view of Spaceman, preventing him from being seen as a total crackpot. While Spaceman's life was at times disfunctional, and his stories literally unbelievable, he was smart, well spoken and harmless (at least in his later years).

If you've spent much time in O.B.,
the Spaceman/Oaks footage on YouTube should be considered required viewing as it provides some insight into the orgins of Ocean Beach's "anything goes" reputation. And taken as a whole, the clips paint a wonderful picture of friendship between two aging artistic eccentrics. (Here's another little blurb, from Citybeat's site.)

Next stop: Bill "Spaceman" Lee. Still needing an image of a spaceman, any spaceman, I happened upon a site for a documentary about Bill "Spaceman" Lee, a former Red Sox pitcher who was, in his day, the best known pothead in baseball. He's always been one of my favorite ball players. (I have a penchant for the oddballs, especially in baseball.) His observations about baseball, and life in general, went way beyond those of a normal ball player. At times insightful, often out there and almost always hilarious. The guy had brainy swagger.

"I think about the cosmic snowball theory. A few million years from now the sun will burn out and lose its gravitational pull. The earth will turn into a giant snowball and be hurled through space. When that happens it won't matter if I get this guy out." - Bill Lee

As it turns out, after being pretty much blackballed from the major leagues, Lee became a baseball mercenary, playing anywhere in any league that would hire him, including Russia and Cuba. You can view the trailer of the documentary here, read an interview here, and read more about him here. And don't miss the excellent quotes at Baseball Almanac.

SNAP! Shit, now I have one weird spaceman song, two unrelated spaceman sites and zero images. Again I search, this time for song poems...anything but spaceman. Now I end up on the American Song-Poem Music Archives, an exhaustivelly annotated overview of the genre.

Here comes the crafty seque back to MP3 blogs: The American Song-Poem Music Archives site is run by Phil Milstein, the same guy that does the highly recommended Probe is Turning-On the People. His latest post there (Session 157) is great, ten-plus downloads of songs that inspired early rock n' roll artists. Plus, there's keepers all over the site.

If you actually read all of that, my hat's off to you. Thanks for indulging me. I was just too stoked to find sites about two of my favorite square pegs to not go off.

Ralph Lowe's "Space Scene" at Waxidermy
(Photo above is the Ocean Beach version of Spaceman in the mid-sixties. I gave up on the generic image)

Wednesday, June 20, 2007


Barstool Mountain's first post from the Top 100 Drinking Songs is "A Six Pack to Go" by Hank Thompson. I think he posted it early as a result of my last post, where I all but begged for it. Someone in Chicago buy the man a beer and send me the bill.

"A Six Pack to Go" is a near perfect drinking song. It has the requisite twang, pedal steel, easy-to-remember lyrics and just a dash of remorse.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Charges of Voter Fraud Not Yet Filed

I used to drink a lot. A lot. I drank nightly for roughly 10-15 years. And it wasn't really what you'd call casual drinking. A twelve pack a night was not unusual, it was the norm. At my worst, I closed my favorite watering hole every night for two weeks straight, unintentionably. (I mean, really, if a streak was intended, I'd still be there at last call tonight.) It is with an abundance of drinking experiences, combined with a lifelong obsession with music, that I feel qualified to critique a list of "Top 100 Drinking Songs" posted on the blog Barstool Mountain.

Let me start by saying that I don't mean to look a gift horse in the face. Overall, the list is excellent. If you like drinking songs (and you know you do), then you really should check it out. He's going to be posting mp3s of the songs periodically, and there's some real gems in there. (Digitized "Six Pack to Go"!?! I've got my finger on the "Save as" button now!), But there is one thing...

Wait, before I go further I should add that I can't really fault the host. The list, originally posted on his other blog, Big Rock Candy Mountain, was culled from a vote, by whom I'm not sure (and don't really care). Apparently even some of the his favorites missed the cut. So, he's not to blame for the travesty of which I'm about to inform you. Please, steady yourself. I really don't want to be the one telling you this. But, fraught with worried caution, I must.

Jimmy Buffet is on the list.

Worse, Gang Green is not.

Contrast and compare:
Buffet's "Margaritaville": "Blew out my flip flop, stepped on a pop top"
Gang Green's "Alcohol": "I'd rather drink than fuck!"

Okay, you claim, I'm citing unrepresenative lyrics, selected to support my argument. Alright then, let's use the harshest lyrics from Margaritaville: "Wasted away again in Margaritaville"?!? That's it? That's all you've got? No goddamn self-respecting (or self-loathing for that matter) drunk is going to sing about some fantasy place called "Margaritaville."

"Free Beer City" maybe, but "Margaritaville"?!? I don't think so. Poseur.

Gang Green, on the other hand, seem focused. They've dedicated practically their whole existence to drinking. From the omni-present Budweiser logos, to their succinct nü-Foster Brooks lyrics, just about every thing they've touched has drink stink on it. And, their lyric, "I'd rather drink than fuck!"? Hard to find a more declarative drinking statement.

Gang Green's MySpace page with four downloads:

Friday, June 8, 2007

Stop. I'm just finding this out.

On September 19, Moby played with Flipper. Yet the earth continues to rotate.
Check your disaster kits now.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

"Look, I'm John Denny!"

Visit punk oriented mp3 blogs enough and you'll eventually run across Black Randy downloads. They'll come and go, and it's often the same songs. I've always put off posting the links, until now. I thought I lost "Give It Up or Turn It Loose" for good, and I panicked. Eventually I found my way back to the site that I originally downloaded it from a year ago, and ran across one of my comments on the page with the post. It was about a night in a hotel room with Middle Class, Alice Bag and Black Randy (after a San Diego show).
Middle Class had stored their equipment that night in my Mom's garage, and I went with them, Black Randy and Alice Bag to a hotel on Rosecrans to whoop it up. I've always had a few vivid mental snapshots of that night. Alice Bag playing the Bay City Rollers on a portable cassette, Middle Class sitting on the edge of the bed, and the most memorable, of Black Randy with a lampshade on his head saying "Look, I'm John Denny!" [John Denny, as in the singer for the Weirdos.]
After re-reading my comment from a year ago, I wondered how accurately I remembered the incident. I thought I remembered it clearly, but it was about 1978 or '79. Regardless, I proceeded to download "Give It Up..." and was preparing to post a link when I decided to search for an image of Black Randy that wasn't already all over the web.
On the second page of the search results, I hit paydirt. This wasn't just an uncommon Black Randy photo. This was one of him replete with a lampshade on his head. In a case of mega-deja-fookin'-vu, the pose was exactly as the one in my mental snapshot, with one hand holding up the edge of the lampshade. Too weird.
I'm thinking this must be a gag that he did all the time back then. So, I click on the photo. It takes me to Alice Bag's online photo album at Flickr. The photo was from San Diego, on a trip with Middle Class. (I'm in utter amazement at what can be found online.) Upon closer inspection he's holding the San Diego phone book. That night he had called for cab for me (and gave me cab fare) to get back to my Mom's. Even weirder. What are the chances? (Note: Besides the lampshade, the John Denny "wardrobe" included the clear plastic cover of the lampshade as a tube top. I had forgotten that part.)
This is not to illustrate that I was in some sort of hip inner circle. I barely knew Middle Class and had never met Alice Bag or Black Randy before that night. No, this is to illustrate that I can actually remember something.
And I've written this embarrassingly long thing just to tell you this: download "Give It Up and Turn It Loose" before it's gone for good. Random, yes, and technically it's not a Black Randy song. It's an instrumental by the Metrosquad, his ragtag band of ersatz J.B.'s. Think about that: a ragtag version of James Brown's J.B.'s. Playing trashy punk funk. What are you waiting for?

Last Days of Man on Earth has all 13 cuts, including Give It Up or Turn It Loose, from Black Randy's Past the Dust, I Think I'm Bowie, each posted individually. Give It Up.

Monday, June 4, 2007

I Don't Want to Know Anything About Al Garcia & the Rhythm Kings

Spread the Good Word usually has some good stuff, so when they take requests for reposts of old mp3s, it's pretty certain that there will be some keepers. I haven't listened to all twelve reposts yet, but I snagged a few before they were even halfway through playing.

I am quite certain Al Garcia and the Rhythm Kings were hitting it before they recorded Exotic. I don't know anything about them, and I don't want to know anything about them. All I know is that they they make music sound drunk. At least on this song. And that's all I need to know. It is a spectacular acheivement.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

In Your Face: The Woman Who Wore Out Miles Davis

Miles Davis: "Betty was too young and too wild for the things I expected from a woman...Betty was a free spirit - talented as a motherfucker...she was raunchy and all that kind of shit, all sex...I just got tired of it."
Betty Davis: "The music is physical, and it's about sex. In the sixties everyone was into dope and staying high. Now it's sex. Man and woman. My lyrics go right to it. I don't beat around the bush. It's hip to eat pussy these days. Really hip."
Phew! Really. A lesson in How Reissues Can Reap Long Overdue Respect, Betty Davis is finally getting credit as a trailblazer, not only as a woman (or a black woman, or an overtly sexual black woman) but as a musician who called her own shots and had a significant influence on other musicians.
Married for a short time to Miles Davis, she helped revamp his career, both musically and stylistically. Among her collaborators, friends and lovers were Jimi Hendrix, Sly Stone, Mark Bolan and the Chambers Brothers. She wrote her own songs, assembled her own bands and, for part of her career, produced her own records.
Her music was sexy, but it wasn't sultry. It was hard and raw. She wasn't your typical soul songstress or as dance-ably funky as her contemporaries. What set her apart is that she didn't care. She was in your face.
She Was A Big Freak at The Stranger
Liberated Funk, an excellent lengthy bio in Wax Poetics (newsstand only, no online content)

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Forget All You Know About Dave "Baby" Cortez

It's probably not much anyway. Most who know of him, know only of his one big hit, The Happy Organ. Forget that song. This is a whole other Cortez, wilder, with a crazy beat. Hopped up on goofballs no doubt.

Dave "Baby" Cortez - Hurricane at Funky16Corners

Q: Are We Not Okay to Like Yet?

Continuing the WTF trend (of the Kraftwerk cover below), an albums worth of rare early ('74-'77) and unreleased Devo tracks.

A: Not If You're Party to This

Monday, May 21, 2007

World Music, Trastos style

A Japanese band doing a cover of a song by a German band.
Close enough.
Buffalo Daughter - Autobahn at Bury Me Not

Led Steppenmountain

Four free live downloads at the Black Keys myspace page. (The links may be temperamental, so two of the cuts were also posted here.)

Sunday, May 20, 2007

I knew Kip Tyler and, Mr. Interior, you're no Kip Tyler

On first listen, Kip Tyler's "She's My Witch" sounds an awful lot like a song the Cramps would have covered. Maybe they have. Regardless, their shtick is the same. And Tyler's shtick seems to be copping Link Wray's. You know, kinda sinister sounding.
Check the flip and, lo and behold, it's a song called Rumble Rock, a rather tame rumble-themed song that pales in comparison to Wray's Rumble, which of course is the yardstick by which all rumble matter is measured.

Kip Tyler photo from Wang Dang Dula

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Cravermania Hits, Smoking Jackets Fly Off Store Shelves.

Rex Garvin and the Mighty Cravers' "Sock It to 'em J.B. Pt. 1," is one of those high energy stomps you wish would last longer. But it is only Part 1. So, do you listen to Part 2 and risk loosing the pace? Maybe, if you had the record. But you don't have it and neither do I. End if dilemma.

You'll probably never have another shot to hear Part 1 (which would be a shame because it's a A-1 keeper), unless you head over to Funky16Corners and get it before the link goes cold.
And yes, it is the song the Specials covered on their second album. (Jeez, did they write anything back then?)

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Well, I'll be damned.

What would it be like if there was a party with PiL, Ennio Morricone, the Slits. King Tubby and that guy from the Fall, all...sitting around drinking beer (or in Morricone's case, probably wine), watching the Beastie Boys audition?

Long live William Hung.

Honestly, didn't think they had it in them. But I like.

"Yeeehhh, the Monkey Speaks His Mind..."

Sometimes when you hear a song, you may not run out and hunt for it but you really hope that you might hear it again. If you're a regular listener of the Swami (Saturdays 10 PM - 1 AM, on 94.9 FM in San Diego, or streaming here) you might have heard The Monkey, by Dave Bartholomew, a semi-spoken song about three monkeys hanging around in a tree and talking, basically saying "no way did those fucked up humans come from us".

If you don't know who Dave Bartholomew is, he's worked with something like half of New Orleans at one time or another. Starting in 1949, he had a hand in records by James "Sugarboy" Crawford, Chris Kenner, Huey "Piano" Smith, Smiley Lewis, Frankie Ford, Shirley and Lee, Roy Brown, Fats, Lloyd Price, you get the idea. He was a busy guy, and a central figure in early New Orleans R & B. The Songwriters Hall of Fame lists 428 titles under his name. Dude was a machine.

Probe Is Turning On the People posted The Monkey a while back, and now, through some sort of hocus-pocus html, the particular post ("session") can now be linked, without scrolling. Probe's cool.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Hey Gomez, check it out!

I think most people would agree that that the French language sounds sexy. And I'm sure there's a simple explanation, but I don't want to know it. I don't want to over-think it. I have too much invested in it, as something of hot-ness. Hell, I even like seeing French text in print, and I don't speak or read French. Anyways, here's some vintage French pop by Clothhilde. That's it. Now run along, go out-Serge your friends. ("What? you don't know Clothhilde?")

Clothhilde - Saperlipopette at BlowUpDoll
5,22.07: More Clothhilde posted:
Clothhilde -La Ballade Du Bosso at BlowUpDoll
NOTE: You have to click through a couple screens for the downloads.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Will you take $135? It's got a "Z" in the name.

It never ceases to amaze me what collectors are willing to spend on something that is rather insignificant. In the comment section of a post at Killed By Death, someone mentioned that Taang Records (in San Diego) is displaying the Cardiac Kidz 45 with a price tag of $150. In relative terms, it makes whatever is being paid for the Injections and Xterminators 45's seem like a bargain (last time I checked they were at about a C-note each).

Considering that the Cardiac Kidz were about a tenth tier punk band in their heyday (when there were only about nine punk bands in San Diego) and that their music is wholly unremarkable (and they have a "Z" in their name) , one can only surmise that punk collectors heavily prioritize scarcity. Whatever. Good for them...

I knew one of the guys in the band, Steve Lightfoot, and, though I wasn't too nuts about his band, he was a nice enough guy. So when I saw his record posted, I was prompted to do a web search of his name. Boy, did that open up a can of worms! The most prominent search results were about a Steve Lightfoot who theorizes that John Lennon's murder was the result of conspiracy by Nixon and Reagan, and it was Stephen King who actually pulled the trigger.
Now, I'm not saying, by any means, that this is the same Steve Lightfoot, but on the site promoting his theory, he cites a visit to the San Diego's main public library as the place he discovered "codes" in newspaper and news magazine headlines that lead to the his conspiracy theory. (This was in 1980. The record was released in 1979). Here's where it gets really interesting. Lightfoot lived a couple blocks from me in the mid-80's and right around that time there was a van that would be parked on the street in the neighborhood, covered in various signs and photocopies touting the same conspiracy theory!

It very well could be a coincidence and there could have been two different Lightfoots in the same area at the same time. It should be noted that nowhere in the "Conspiracy" Lightfoot's extensive ramblings and bio does it mention living in San Diego for an extended period or being in a band called the Cardiac Kidz (though it does mention that he was a B+ student in high school because his parents preferred that to straight A's).

So, save yourself $150 and check out what one of San Diego's early crappy punk bands sounded like and, as a bonus, read about the "biggest story since Christ" [sic]

The Steve Lightfoot Exhibit @ the Kook Museum
(really, I don't make this stuff up)

Who the fuck is DJ Thursday?

Almost every mp3 blog has some sort of disclaimer stating that the mp3s are posted for promotional and/or educational reasons and, while that may sound like a bunch of malarkey (and in some cases is), at Soul Sides it really rings true. A few months ago, the host, Oliver Wang, posted a couple of mp3s of the Kashmere Stage Band, a tight, very funky, high school band from Texas and I went right out and bought it. So, I guess mp3 blogs work.

The Soul Sides site is really one of the best mp3 blogs around, in any genre. Wang has an encyclopedic knowledge of the music he features. He's just just released his second compilation of obscure and overlooked soul/funk related cuts, Soul Sides Volume 2, this one all cover versions. He'll be at the Kava Lounge in San Diego for a release party on May 19th at 10:00. (The Kava site looks a little hippie-ish, but if you click on nightlife, you'll get an idea if it's your bag or not). It's a chance to support a guy who really is passionate about sharing music. (If you do go, make sure to ask the bartender about DJ Thursday.)
If you're not in San Diego, you can find O's other pit stops here.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

If you're so famous, how come I've never heard of you?

Ooh, this is a perfect song to listen to while driving. You start lulled into zombie-driver mode, listening to an uptempo lounge-ish version of Winchester Cathedral. Then, BAM! A little more than two minutes into it, all hell breaks loose.
Psychedelic? Maybe not. but it is a pretty noisy racket.

If you're into this kind of oddball shit, the BellyBongo Archive has a huge amount of lounge, psych, personal pressings and one-man bands.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Howdy, from the Keith Richards retirement party!

Four words that don't belong together: Brian Wilson doing rap. Yes, it is every bit as bad as it sounds. It's fucking unlistenable. Do not subject yourself to it, lest you wrench. To quote the host, Dust on the Needle, it is a "thorough desecration of his own titanic talent". This is not Brian Wilson "warts n' all". It's all warts.

There are two types of people who never dismissed Brian Wilson, those who "get it" and those who just wonder what all the fuss is about. This will tip the scale. It'is almost Mike Love bad.

Above: MC Wilson with fellow shark jumper Steve Jones.

Sunday, May 6, 2007


I've been waiting (and hoping) to find a multi-song vein of Jessie Mae Hemphill. Just look at the picture. Smoke in one hand, gun in the other. I'd like to think she's waiting to pick off Sheryl Crow should she cross the property line.

I bought her first Highwater single about 20 years ago in Memphis. I think it had just come out. It was the cover that sucked me in. Cowboy hat, tube top and bitchen guitar (a Silvertone?), in glorious black & white. Primitive? Hell yeah. It had raw written all over it.

5 cuts and background info here.

Thank you Diddy Wah.

"Super garage girls are these chicks!"

As a test post, might as well post something to check out, like this link to the boss Office Naps.

Just read what reader Rockin'n'Rollin' had to say: "More girls!Super garage girls are these chicks.Yours are Excellent quality, best ever that I've listened of Bittersweet and luv'd ones."

Check: The Bittersweets' "Hurtin' Kind"
Probe is Turning on the People is a stealthly awesome site. Beyond its primitive design and bare-bones text is a surpringly varied and informed selection of good ol' fashioned oddball shit. And some of it is really great. Case in point: "Stonger Than Dirt" by the Ardells, an instrumental smash-up that sounds like the Sonics beating the bejesus out of the Surfaris in a battle of the bands contest.

ESSENTIAL: Session 134 (cut 6): the Ardells' "Stronger Than Dirt".