Smegma-PIGS FOR LEPERS CD (Harbinger Sound); RUMBLINGS CD (Hanson, PO Box 7496, Ann Arbor MI 48107...both CDs are available through Forced Exposure)
Smegma are probably, nay, DEFINITELY my new all-time favorite noise-rock band this week! Really! Which is kinda funny, because I remember back during the GOLDEN AGE OF PEOPLE MAKING RECORDS IN THEIR BASEMENTS THAT I ACTUALLY WOULD WANT TO LISTEN TO I didn't care one whit about who these Smegma guys were for whatever odd reason you could come up with. Perhaps it was their sicko name (which I thought was a spoof on French jazz/progressive rockers Magma!) or my utter East Coast chauvinism (Los Angeles/West Coast stuff seemed "lesser"...I know not why), but I really didn't pay attention to these guys and misses for a much longer time than you could imagine. It's only after I took a chance on getting hold of the mid-seventies collaborations between Smegma and the infamous street singer Wild Man Fisher which had become available on vinyl (reviewed in issue #24 of BLACK TO COMM in case you care) that I began to not only appreciate the askew wonderfulness of Smegma but dug into their past and present catalogs, and ever since they got hold of legendary "punk beatnik" Richard Meltzer for their lead warbler chair let's just say that the Smegstock has shot up to unprecedented heights in the annals of BLOG TO COOLDOM. Hey, as you all know I gotta find a hook somewhere!
Anyway, I just got hold of these two Smegprizes and thought that a quickie year-end mention of 'em would make for a nice summation of the year 2006 proper, at least so's the two would QUALIFY for kudos come the year-end wrapup due in a few days. After all, given just how much this band has become a much-loved proto-punkoid aggregation still operating while all of those other seventies watermarks have sunk even lower, its sure nice to see some things STAY THE SAME esp. for connosewers of the noisier aspects of life, and as far as noise goes you can't do much better'n Smegma esp. for their fine mix of the smart set avant sound, primal preteen noisescronking and straight-ahead All-Amerigan garage band duncitude usually caused by too many back-to-back plays of FUNHOUSE and WEASELS RIPPED MY FLESH with a hefty sidestep into "Revolution 9" buffered by incessant HAZEL reruns.
Cee-Dee #1 PIGS FOR LEPERS is a swanky collection of past Smegma dribble dating from the beginning (known to you as the seventies) to early-eighties showcasing not only a lotta the fantab stuck record/tape-loop/free noise music these guys were dealing with even back then but other smart surprises including a live track from '74 when the band had pretty much forsaken their "straighter" post-Zappa musings for a sound that could be called industrial-waiting-to-be-birthed. This numbuh (rec'd at Pasadena Community College) seems (operative word) to be trying to top the whole Zappa/Beefheart/Hampton sense-o'-strange that's been already milked to death by that time, and with a vast array of sound-rattlers that make the standard vacuum cleaners and lawnmowers in rock music (talking Stooges, Electric Eels and Swell Maps amongst other worthies) sound about as on-cue as electric guitars, it's no wonder I thought of Smegma as the Amerigan DG-307 and maybe you should too. A fantastic mix of brilliance from the minds of dunces that makes me feel guilty about giving Smegma the poo-poo while forking money hand-over-fist for a load of subpar sputum that only petered out once new wave turned to gnu wave and all those "save the world" bands sorta revealed to us all what shuckdom really was all about!
Of course the real winner of the batch (and late contender for top disque of the year despite what I mighta said a post or two back) just has to be the recently-released RUMBLINGS Cee-Dee. These all-new Smegma recordings not only have Our Hero Meltzer as the lead singer and frontman (reports of slam-dancing punks in Portland struttin' to these old fogies have been resonating from here to Bizoo and back) but heralds a return to (after a few detours into pure mindmush white bzzzrt) the more rockism-oriented Smegma sound back when heavy Amerigan garage drones would collide with musique concrete before it all turned into a mass of zebra puke. Meltzer's vocalese/recitation fits the music superbly, especially when he prattles off some of his great patented nonsense lyrics akin to the time he wrote about when PBS decided to use a detailed drawing of a lung from a non-existent three-part episode of GILLIGAN'S ISLAND for one of their science programs or (in the course of a mention of an upcoming Cigar Store Indians concert) enumerated a variety of fictitious condensed canned soups closing out with none other'n a Cigar Store Indian flavored offering! I gotta admit that I really rolled on the floor during "Bunstuffer" when Meltzer was blabbing on about colloquialisms regarding a hamburger-esque (?) treat that one is still unsure of ever after three or three-hundred plays ("In Pittsburgh they're called tobos. Residents of Hartford on the other hand know them as sarsaps.")! Kinda reminds me of the great tail-wags-the-dog sorta tomfoolery I and a whole slew of other single-digit kids dealt with where the sound of words and their ranking in pre-pubescent silliness sometimes took a front seat to the actual (non-existent) meaning of the things. And for that I gotta congratulate Mr. M for being able to mix such kiddie gutteralness with an Andy Kauffman sense of puton!
Of course Meltzer's word punnage mixed with the Smegma-styled turntable/free blow sound as well as the old-timey rock refs. (title trackage actually a redo of the Link Wray classic "Rumble"!!!) makes for a true winner as twenties futurist manifestos shake hands with late-seventies punk drama while it all splatters outta your speakers into your mind's eye. And I gotta say that it's a modern-day WINNER despite (or because) of its great late-seventies sense of noise-as-rock which, as we knew even then, was a music that would find more acceptance in 2006 than in 1979 as long as we made it outta the twentieth century alive. Sometimes I'm not exactly sure if we did make it out OK, but if we did I'd think that Smegma should be the band playing the soundtrack for the post-POST-millenial scrunch!
Whaddeva (despite entering onto the laser launch pads at such a late date), PIGS FOR LEPERS ought to rank pretty high as far as reissued upheavals for the year go, while RUMBLINGS should do pretty swell in the current Cee-Dee sweepstakes top notch grabber or else this just ain't the ONLY rockism-oriented blog on the face of this prune-pitted earth of ours! But if anything, the whole mess makes me wanna trek down to Coraopolis (onna border of Pittsburgh) and visit none other than foul-weather friend Brad Kohler, and maybe we can not only listen to both of these fine platters but go out and down a few tobos ourselves. Well, it would seem a fitting enough way to not only celebrate the eternal spell of Smegma but the tasteful brainery of the one called Meltzer!
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