Sunday, July 04, 2004


Catholic Discipline-UNDERGROUND BABYLON CD (Artifix Records, PO Box 641, Moreno Valley, CA 92556-0641, or try

I reviewed a CD-R of some live Catholic Discipline show (with a few other niceties including lead Disciple Claude Bessy opening a Sonic Youth bootleg with a high-larious anti-censorship rap) in the latest BTC, but since that issue closed up shop this new legit CD (obtained via eBay , try getting' your copy there!!!) has made its way to my door and I couldn't be happier, at least until the entire Velvet Underground and Electra box set finally arrives. And it's a mighty fine just-pre-hardcore Los Angeles rock here courtesy Mr. Kickboy Pampers himself (a guy of whom it seemed a vast majority of the hipster underground gang despised with Richard Meltzer being the one lone holdout...congratulations Richard!!!) at that which reminds me of a lot of their comrats in arms of the day (Germs, Bags, Alleycats, Plugz...) in that although they're firmly entrenched in the then-contemp punk modes (no-chord thrash etc.), there's still a hefty amt. of mid-sixties Southern Californian garage band credo present to please you on that sainted level. I believe I once made a point that there seemed to be very little difference between BLOODSTAINS ACROSS CALIFORNIA and HIGHS IN THE MID-SIXTIES, LOS ANGELES VOLUME ONE back when those two stellar platters came out in the late-eighties or so, and a CD like this only proves that I was right all along! And to add to my not-so-obtuse point-making, the fact that many of these late-seventies Los Angeles underground bands (and more, such as Pere Ubu) not only covered the Seeds (Catholic Discipline do "Tripmaker" here) but were influenced by 'em as well only proves that punk rock as a whole was not exactly revolutionary, but reactionary as the pundits were pointing out even then. A music with roots despite what the square critics of the day (no names, in order to prove that I'm not as grudge-holding as some may make me out to be!) who thought the style was drawn from the air would lead you to believe. There are a few extraneous items tacked on like Phranc doing "Pablo Picasso" live in the studio on Meltzer's HEPCATS FROM HELL radio show and some of Bessy's nineties stuff, but I guess it fits in on the whole, as opposed to in it!

Bob Hocko and the Swamp Rats-DISCO STILL SUCKS! CD (Get Hip, PO Box 666, Canonsburg, PA 15317, or try

Another relative "oldie" (meaning, it's been out for over a year, but I just got it because the money ain't exactly flowin' my way like water) that I would have been frothing at the mouth to get back in 1984 or '94 for that matter, but, I dunno, maybe I am getting a bit jaded over a lotta this. I never thought I would ever develop a ho-hum yawnsville attitude towards a music that's always been my sole reason for existence, but man, it seems as if NOTHING is lighting my pitted butt these days the way it did when I was reading about Pere Ubu thinking "THIS IS THE GROUP FOR ME!!!!" back when I was first diving whole hog into all of this rock & roll music! (I was such a fanatic back then...In fact, I still remember actually finding copies of Tim Buckley's LORCA and STARSAILOR back in '78 after about a good year-and-a-half of fruitless searching, overjoyed to the point where I thought I was going to lose control of my senses, and my bowels for that matter over finding such long-obscure items that truly were going to expand my listening parameter even more!) But nowadays, eh! Funny thing is, I haven't "heard it all before" and I know there's a lotta fine rockism out there waiting to be uncovered, but it's not like it was back in my import bin-hopping days when I'd see some probably horrid krautrock monstrosity and pick it up thinking it was the bee's knees in a Kraftwerk cum Amon Duul vein!

Anyway, I wasn't that rah-rah over picking this CD by Pittsburgh garage "legends" the Swamp Rats up, but I still harbored perhaps a small, glowing coal over having once wanted to hear the thing (back in the early-nineties when the original release was thwarted by their old manager) so badly that I used to imagine what their over-the-top take on "Gloria" might have sounded like. Well, there's no "Gloria" here, but this collection still packs a wallop, not only with the familiar oft-comped tracks ("Louie Louie," "Psycho"...) but newer soon-to-be-classics like "Tobacco Road" and "She's Got Everything," not forgetting an original proto-metallic cruncher entitled "Hey Freak" which might make 'em frontrunners in the "Garage Band Hall of Fame" sweepstakes more sooner than later. The weird, acoustic folkie things (Peter Paul and Mary???) that close the CD are an interesting insight, but I wouldn't want to play them that often! Neither will you, but pick it up anyway.

THE SIAMESE STEPBROTHERS CD (Cunieform, PO Box 8427, Silver Spring, MD 20957-8427)

Despite this being yet another MX-80 Sound side-project I missed out on when it first came out, I wasn't that jazzed. Yeah, both Bruce Anderson and Dale Sophiea are their usually atonal selves and even former Grateful Deadster Tom Konstanten plays fine jazz-inspired keyboards that don't necessarily hearken back to past lysergic endeavors, but Henry Kaiser's slick presence and a general ho-hum attitude bring the proceedings down quite a bit. I never did care for his stuff anyway (it seemed too...I dunno, tasteful????), but if you like MX-80 or even Kaiser by all means gogoGO!!!!!


Hey, is it me or is it the times we live in that make these old David Bowie recordings sound so much better'n I thought they would here in 2004??? I mean, I liked Bowie just as much as the next turd back when stuff like "Jean Genie" and "Rebel Rebel" were making the AM-band sound so refreshing next to the Vickies (Carr and Lawrence) back in the early-seventies, but only ten years later the guy seemed such a shuck joke changing styles and personalities faster than you could say "Bobby Darin." (And that's pretty close to the facts, since as it was pointed out in BRAIN DAMAGE fanzine, having David Bowie produce the Stooges would have been akin to Bobby Darin producing the Trashmen...mull that one over for awhile!) Maybe it's the raging take of Chuck Berry's "Around and Around" that zoned me in, or the Velvets tributes/covers (including one with Lou Reed handling the throat chores!) or even the superior to the LP version acoustic demo of "Quicksand" as well as a spirit of the early-seventies that stood against the creeping tide of laidbackisms just like the Stooges and Lou and all the rest. But then again, maybe pop music in general is so dire in these sorry times that a whole lotta the early-seventies schlock & roll sounds superior in comparison...hey, things are so comparatively low-energy (or downright hollow) that even a bornado of a band like Bread sound fantastic on tracks like "You Showed Me" (mid-energy Badfinger!) and even their space-y "Guitar Man"!!!! I'll take an MOR hit like Skylark's "Wild Flower" with that crazed 1969 Pink Floyd Gilmour guitar lead and mellotron over a whole lotta alternative hipster music being made for me and my all-encompassing psyche anyday! Let's face it, punk rock really was rock & roll's last chance, and the fact that it didn't succeed when it should've 'n not fifteen years too late only goes to show you how much contempt we should show for the business end AND the fans who helped suppress the garage for years on end!

Bob Urh and the Bare Bones-THE HOO DOO GARAGE DEMO! CD-R (write to or

I get demos from young upstarting rock & roll bands on an occasion or two, and frankly it's not like I'm the kinda guy who anxiously awaits playing these things. Hey, you know just as well as I that underground rock today ain't what it was twenty/thirty/forty years ago, and the prospect of me sitting through a demo tape of some unknown band aping their schtick off of the entire history of rock & roll and doing it horribly doesn't exactly cozy up to me when I could be doing something much more worthwhile, like watching the morning farm report. (There are a few exceptions natch, like this demo tape I got from a late-eighties New York band called the Disposable God Squad who played this mad, intense rush of seventies power pop sounding kinda like the Raspberries trying to sound like early Blondie with a mad dash of Velvet Underground and a cover of Nick Gilder's "Hot Child In The City" thrown in. Naturally they went nowhere.)

However, I must 'fess up to the fact that I found a demo by some new rock aggregation that actually gets my juices flowing. Bob Urh's the leader of this band which plays a mean selection of acoustic blues that at times reminds me of the Rolling Stones when they were doing their slide guitar "tryin'-to-be-authentic-blueswampers" routine to a lotta the new, kinda post-alternative stuff that one could hear played at the CB's 313 Gallery next door to the famed CBGB once you get past the reams of self-important singer-songwriters and gals who are trying more than ever to become the next Joni. A lotta these groups put out recordings, and a lotta these groups met extremely unkind fates, but one thing you could say about ALL OF 'EM is that they were bands that had something good to say for once! (I'm still looking for the lone disque by this NYC band called Lucky, whose rockier numbers resembled the Heartbreakers' "So Alone" while they could get into these jazzy blues jams where the bass guitarist switched over to an acoustic stand-up!)

Anyhow, Bob Urh and the Bare Bones do a good creepy blues-rock thing that actually captured my attention, which is strange considering just how much I've become disillusioned by the blues idiom at large. Still, the nice, spidery acoustic sound helps convey the dark rural energy these guys ooze, and for being a buncha whites playing a music even the blacks won't go near anymore they do a much better job at it than those British second-wave blues guys in the late-sixties like Joe Cocker wigglin' and writhin' all over the place!

No comments: