Saturday, August 11, 2012

Los Angeles Post-Punk, Vol. 10


Featured Acts:

Arrow Book Club, Bakersfield Boogie Boys, Claude Coma And The I.V's, Concrete Blonde, Deviation Social, Dream 6, Ethyl Meatplow, fIREHOSE, Funeral, Gary Kail & Zurich 1916, God And The State, Great City, Hilary, Holly and Joey, Joe 'n' Mike, Josie Cotton, Magnolia Thunderpussy, Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo, Nadia Kapiche, Pat Smear, Q, Radio Werewolf, Systems of Romance, T.S.O.L., Tender Fury, The Alley Cats, The Coupe De Villes, The Crowd, The Go-Go's, The Halibuts, The Rave-Ups, The Rub, The Wake, Thelonious Monster, Twisted Roots, UXA, X

Pat Smear, Ruthensmear (SST, 1987)
1 Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo — Forbidden Zone (1980) 2:52
2 The Alley Cats — King Of The Street Fights (1981) 3:43
3 Tender Fury — Look Back In Anger (1988) 3:45
4 Dream 6 — Rain (1985) 3:16
5 Thelonious Monster — I Live In A Nice House (1992) 3:47
6 Funeral — Ant Trap (1981) 2:15
7 Josie Cotton — Johnny, Are You Queer? (1982) 2:47
8 Pat Smear — Sahara Hotel (1987) 5:24
9 Twisted Roots — Every Party Song (1986) 4:36
10 Claude Coma And The I.V's — Minimum Wage (1982) 2:41
11 fIREHOSE — Brave Captain (1986) 3:15
12 The Crowd — Right Time (1980) 2:30
13 The Go-Go's — Cool Jerk (1982) 2:31
14 Arrow Book Club — Get Down Part 4 (1980) 1:33
15 Bakersfield Boogie Boys — Flying Tigers (1980) 3:30
16 Great City — A Dollar, A Ruble (1986) 5:16
17 The Rave-Ups — Better World (1985) 4:54
18 X — Los Angeles (1981) 2:24
19 The Coupe De Villes — Waiting Out the Eighties (1985) 3:08
20 T.S.O.L. — Word Is (1982) 2:35
21 UXA — Paranoia Is Freedom (1980) 3:50
22 Hilary — I Live (1983) 4:25
23 The Halibuts — Shorepound (1984) 2:50
24 Magnolia Thunderpussy — Circle (1985) 4:33

The Rub, Bikini Gospel (Happy Squid Record, 1987)
25 Nadia Kapiche — Africa (1981) 5:15
26 Deviation Social — Machines Convulse (1984) 3:27
27 Q — Playback (1982) 3:07
28 The Wake — Forever's Fair (1985) 3:38
29 Claude Coma And The I.V's — I Don't Trust You (1982) 2:24
30 The Crowd — On My Own (1980) 2:18
31 The Alley Cats — Nightmare City (1981) 2:54
32 Gary Kail & Zurich 1916 — Life Is Ugly So Why Not Kill Yourself (1983) 7:05
33 Concrete Blonde — Joey (1990) 4:08
34 The Rub — Death of Pop (1987) 2:46
35 The Go-Go's — Lust To Love (1981) 3:28
36 Thelonious Monster — Sammy Hagar Weekend (1989) 3:00
37 Bakersfield Boogie Boys — Okie from Muskogee (1980) 2:01
38 X — Johnny Hit And Run Paulene (1981) 2:51
39 Tender Fury — Kill Cindy (1988) 3:16
40 God And The State — Anorexia (1985) 3:47
41 Radio Werewolf — Incubus (1989) 4:02
42 fIREHOSE — Under the Influence of Meat Puppets (1986) 1:58
43 Joe 'n' Mike — Everywhere (1989) 2:41
44 Ethyl Meatplow — Silly Dawg (1990) 3:37
45 The Rave-Ups — Remember (Newman's Lovesong) (1985) 3:01
46 Systems of Romance — Girls Want Thrills (1983) 3:19
47 The Halibuts — Gnarly! (1984) 2:42
48 The Rub — No Sympathy (1999) 1:59
49 Holly and Joey — I Got You Babe (1982) 3:36

I haven't given any credit as of yet to the many amazing music blogs that long predated mine, and from which I've drawn a lot of my material prior to purchasing a turntable. My rationale has been that I think some of them would not too much attention drawn to them due to legal consequences, especially as most of them contain entire LPs and EPs for download. As it is, a lot of these blogs have been somewhat gutted by legal actions during the years that I've been visiting them, especially those sites that housed their files on Megaupload.

One site that I will mention, though, is Pig State Recon, partly because they seem to post only single tracks or small compilations, and partly because I've used some of their choices as my own from the catalogues of some of the artists. Tracks from this set such as Twisted Roots' "Every Party Song," Magnolia Thunderpussy's "Circle" and Jon 'n' Mike's "Everywhere" were found on Pig State Recon (I actually own the Twisted Roots CD but haven't listened to it much). In a few cases we picked the same tracks for posting, such as Electric Peace's "Case of Dynamite," with no knowledge of the other.


This volume is much more band-oriented and guitar-heavy, straying quite a bit over into pure pop, than previous volumes. Two tracks (actually early demos) by the Go-Go's, when lead singer Belinda Carlyle, known as Dottie Danger when she was the chubby drummer for the Germs, was not quite yet the svelte vixen of MTV-fame, point somewhat backwards to their punk roots at the Masque.

Dream 6 renamed themselves Concrete Blonde upon the suggestion of Michael Stipe. This track opens their first EP, while "Joey," their biggest hit, comes from their final album of the 80's, Bloodletting. I find singer/bassist Johnette Napolitano incredibly engaging as a performer (as in this cover of Leonard Cohen's "Everybody Knows"), kind of in that vein of the sexy abject that I associate with early Martha Davis performances with the Motels. Their guitarist is another alumnus of the various bands supporting Sparks. 

Tender Fury is Jack Grisham's project after leaving the first version of T.S.O.L. and a little before a new-wavy band that appeared in an earlier volume here, Cathedral of Tears. They can join the ranks of those willing to fuck with Bowie with their cover of Lodger's "Look Back in Anger," though nothing beats The Associates releasing, as their first single, a dramatically re-conceived version of "Boys Keep Swinging" within weeks of Bowie's release. I regret including a track involving killing a girl named Cindy, not only for the implicit misogyny but also because my sister's name is Cindy. (For her 30th birthday I gave her a 3-CD compilation of songs that had the word "Cindy" in the title; happily, I hadn't come across this one).

I discovered the Bakersfield Boogie Boys on the Devotees compilation of Devo covers (from which I took Knife Lust's "Shrivel Up" earlier in this series). They took the fairly original tack of recording a non-Devo song in Devo style, hence the straight plagiarism of instrumentation and rhythm in "Okie from Muskogee." The Coupe De Villes are another quasi-novelty act, being the band director John Carpenter (The Thing) created to make music for his films. "Big Trouble in Little China" might be their best known track.

On the pure ambient or musique concrete front are Arrow Book Club, who existed for exactly one track on the Keats Rides a Harley compilation from Happy Squid, and Zurich 1916, a one album project of Gary Kail's that included singer Carla Bozulich (Ethyl Meatplow, The Geraldine Fibbers). This track was also chosen by Pig State Recon though I've been listening to this CD for months. The Ethyl Meatplow track here, "Silly Dawg," was produced by the legendary Geza X. 

The Halibuts were a bit anachronistic: a full-on, non-ironic, not entirely retro, mostly instrumental surf music band capable of some sublime stuff, putting the studio to good purpose. They recorded two LPs in the eighties which are still available for download, then took a break before releasing two more in the 90s. Josie Cotton also updated some past sounds, this time the girl groups of the 50s and 60s, though as the title of her most famous single, "Johnny Are You Queer?" included here, suggests her slyness in this project. The Go-Go's used to perform this regularly in their sets though didn't do much to transform it.

The Rub, whose "The Death of Pop" is probably the catchiest, most perfect song in this group and would not seem out of place in Nick Lowe's catalogue, was a band I discovered when going through the Happy Squid website (the band doesn't even appear on Discogs). They released two LPs, one in the 80s and one in 2001 that sounds like it was probably recorded in the 80s, though I have no proof of this. Far better known is Thelonius Monster, a veritable staple of the post-punk scene whose singer / songwriter Bob Forrest is not out of place with those other melancholy ironists of Los Angeles, Randy Newman and (in a much different way) Tom Waits. 

I wasn't sure if the Alley Cats could be considered post-punk at first as much of their material seemed pretty much classic guitar-driven "punk," but I gave their first LP a closer listen and (I don't know how I missed it) their "King of the Street Fights" is really amazing, kind of like a Bob Dylan recreated or misremembered after doing tons of heroin (the vocals remind me a bit of the boys over at Fourwaycross). The band's bassist and co-singer Dianne Chai is one of the many Asian American women in the scene, Maggie Song of the Fibonaccis, and Cyrnai's Carolyn Fok being two of the others.

Among the bands I know almost nothing about are growly Funeral, the new-wavy Great City, the truly creepy, satanic Radio Werewolf, and the antic Systems of Romance. Joe 'n' Mike are basically the songwriters of The Last; they recently posted a number of their demos for free download online. Holly and Joey are Holly Beth Vincent of Holly and the Italians (I'll have some of their stuff in the next volume) and Joey Ramone goofing around. Magnolia Thunderpussy were a band from Westwood who finally got around to releasing their material online. Deviation Social is actually a one-man industrial act from San Francisco who performed often in L.A. I mistakenly included this track early on and decided to just leave it. 

Nadia Kapiche was the name Toni Childs adopted when she was first starting out in L.A. (her other early band, Toni and the Movers, included eventual Bangles bassist Michael Steele). The Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo are, of course, an early incarnation of Oingo Boingo, formed mostly to compose the soundtrack to Richard Elfman's made-for-cult-status B-movie Forbidden Zone. Did I mention that this version of the band appeared on The Gong Show? Bill Bixby gave them a "10."

Pat Smear is, of course, Pat Smear; this is the first track from Ruthensmear, his debut solo album. X is, of course, X, one of the few L.A. bands I knew about as a teen in New Jersey. This is from their first album, produced, as with most of their LPs, by Doors organist Ray Manzarek. fIREHOSE is the Minutemen after they continued in the wake of D. Boon's death. U.X.A., which stands for United Experiments of America, was fronted by the singer De De Troit, whose vocal stylings bear more than passing resemblance to John Lydon's in this track (particularly on the obscure Sex Pistol's track "Schools are Prisons"). UXA were not strictly an L.A. band but moved around quite a bit, and only managed this one LP.

The Crowd were pretty good power-pop band who seemed to absorb a lot of post-punk influences from overseas (the usual suspects, Gang of Four, the Clash) without sounding derivative, but also without quite finding a sound of their own. They lasted one LP, but as with many of the bands covered here, it would have been great to see where they could have gone had they a contract. Likewise, Claude Coma and I.V.'s were a compelling band from San Diego and could have had some national reputation with their populist leanings. I found a copy of their very rare LP Manslaughter online that I plan to rip soon.

The Rave-Ups (originally from Pennsylvania) had a minor hit with "Positively Lost Me" which, thanks to fan Molly Ringwald, was featured in the John Hughs movie Pretty in Pink. The folks at Allmusic think they were ahead of their time with their country-rock elements, but I don't know much about country rock. I would have included the single mentioned above, which is pretty catchy, but it's way too long and the initial hook just becomes obnoxious after a few spins. But these two tracks are really good and give you an idea of what the fuss was about.

3 comments:

  1. The disk 2 link goes to Volume 9 part 2.

    Thanks for putting these together. Brings back memories...

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  2. Thanks... I was wondering why no one was downloading part 2!

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  3. Sure good to see all this beautiful madness brought together in one handy blog - it could well be a virtual recreation of a mid-80's downtown LA street scene festival! Truly, 80's SoCal was a singularly amazing time/space axis.

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