Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Tall Dwarfs-FORK SONGS CD (Cloud Recordings)

Remember the eighties? I sure do, and every day I make a special attempt to forget 'em! If you ask me (which you probably wouldn't but since you're reading this just humor me) the eighties were one of the most unfun, dull and outright contradicting times that one could ever have the displeasure of living through, with squeaky-clean antiseptic entertainment and general ginchiness on one hand (a sorry state o' affairs that I valiantly tried to fight off with my own fanzine noodlings of the time!) and a sick decadence on the other that seemed even more nefarious than the late-seventies sleaze of Larry Flynt and child pornography (and their defenders) that unfortunately led to all of that horrid NAMBLA/Queer Nation and VILLAGE VOICE-sponsored sexual role elitism that never did get washed outta the Amerigan/World mindset like it shoulda. Television was pretty much rotted out for good at least on the network level (though the indie scene was still ripe with fifties/sixties classics and even PBS was hopping with old moom pitchers and perhaps a Groucho Marx or George Burns tossed into the usual heady mix!) and if it weren't for the Monkees revival in '86 I don't think I'd've dared to go near a radio that only seemed to play Genesis! However, conscious-of-other-peoples'-feelings me has gotta admit that if you happened to think that the eighties were a particularly boffo time in your own personal existence I have nothing against you. I mean, there were a few oases of gulcherally-significant reasons for not slittin' the ol' throat during those rather wasted times, and guess what but rock & roll was just one of 'em.

And when it came to that good ol' rock & roll there were plenny of spiffy acts that were comin' outta the various garages and basements of mid-Ameriga/World worth the time and energy to seek out. True most of 'em seemed to go woosh past the consciousnesses of the same people who would normally eat this self-produced blare up, but even a gonk like myself'll admit that searchin' for such under-the-radar wares was almost as good as finding 'em wherever they may be! But then again way too many of these eighties underground platters continue to remain way-elusive, and frankly I'm not planning on dying until I finally get hold of a copy of Lul's INSIDE LITTLE ORAL ANNIE which I have been vainly searching for these past twenny years with nil success!

But at least some of the better groups to lurch forth from the froth of eighties complacency have made it to my eardrums for which I am thankful, these Tall Dwarfs being amongst 'em. And if it weren't for such acts as the Dwarfs along with a wide array of bubbling-amongst-the-underground aggregates (the Droogs and Halo of Flies not forgetting a handful more come immediately to mind) who knows, I might actually have taken that big plunge off Lemming Mountain thus denying an entire generation of rockism fans not only twenny-five whopping fanzine issues but three good years of personalism disguised as the very blogposts you are now devouring with abounding glee, and I'll bet you're pissed off about that, right?

Anyway, the Tall Dwarfs hailed from the land of New Zealand which had a slight reputation for a certain breed of underground rock whimsy and charm at the time, though considering how little if any I've heard of bands other than the Dwarfs to have popped outta that island/nation at the time (only the Membranes and Verlaines, both of whom remain a specifically blocked memory) I really can't comment. But at the time I sure wanted to hear 'em all. Too bad the lack of money (and the usual lack o' notoriety that woulda guaranteed the entire Flying Nun catalog heading my way considering that I "was" the Toby Mamis of the eighties) helped keep this budding rockism fan in the dark with regards to the entire eighties NZ world of post-Barrett mimicry!

At least I did get hold of these bozos and boy was I glad about that! And I'm glad that I had the smarts to pick up this 2005 Cee-Dee edition of some great Tall Dwarfs material if only to remind me as to what an entertaining delight these New Zealanders used to be especially during a time when the entire concept of rock & roll seemed to be torn twixt pretensions on both a mainstream and underground level. But (thus tossing the entire concept of the Dwarfs as an eighties creation pure and simple!) the reason this duo succeeds the way they do is because the Dwarfs have nada to do with the eighties music-wise, in fact borrowing their entire oeuvre from various sixties/seventies accomplishments making them stars of that decade in the face of a whole lotta conformist adversity!

So thankfully there's very little eighties moosh here bub! And not only that, but the duo of Alec and Chris really know how to take their influences and stretch 'em like Robert Mapplethorpe's sphincter as they do Syd here, Lou there and then (gulp!) Donovan, and when you're not looking Marc, Kevin and Big Star get slipped into the mix as well. If there's anything here that even resembles some graspable identifying point from the punk era of bright new ideas it might be the likes of Mark Beer or even Brian Sands and their smart pop twists and turns for a new audience. If the Tall Dwarfs were from England and around during the same period that Beer and Sands were recording their various masterpieces they mighta put out a single for Rough Trade if they got lucky, these Dwarfs being pop-crazy enough with a strong sense of UK addled to appeal to the same sort of audience that put the likes of Marc and Syd in the charts only a few years earlier. Maybe not, but the fact that we have all of these great Tall Dwarfs recs/Cee-Dee's to listen to is a great consolation considering all of the forgotten talent that sorta got wooshed under the rug of eighties underground talent while a lotta lesser names grabbed all of the accolades and glory that the Dwarfs shoulda at least latched onto even a little smidgie bit.

So if smart seventies pop with electronic and tape loop effects and a general demeanor that sounds like the best 1969 album that Harvest never released with a Monty Python sense of something completely different tends to fill your bill, try picking FORK SONGS up...and if you do so you'll even get the inclusion of their 1987 Extended Play DOGMA slapped on at the end. It's a real wowzer with a strange spoken-word piece similar to "The Gift" and numbuhs that sounds like they were taken from one of those 1969 foreign films that you weren't allowed to watch on the late show back when you wuz a kid!


Anonymous said...

weird, when I got the LUL album it was already mythical and it took me a few months to get it right after its release... I don't remember why I wanted it in the first place, perhaps you do remember and can tell us

still I don't like it too much

Christopher Stigliano said...

I gotta admit that the hype about Lul having influences as wide-ranging as Metallica, Wire, MX-80 Sound and Chic was what got this kid's attention all aflutter especially in a day and age when underground music seemed to be falling into a huge rut it never really climbed out of. And I also should tell you that what I have heard of this band via a blog which has posted some soundclips did seem engaging enough, so let's just say that as far as I'm concerned the hunt is still on. But why no reissues or major clamor for these Lul-sters? The usually "all-encompassing" blogs devoted to "punk rock" out there are certainly shirking their doody!

Anonymous said...

Two of Lul went on to be in Solbakken, who are still going. According to this, the first 2 Lul LPs were released on one CD, with extras:

Christopher Stigliano said...

Don't you hate it when you find something you've wanted for years via the internet, email the seller in question as directed, only to hear nada back for who knows what occult reason these teasers may have in their brains??? That happened to be a number of times, via the Miller Brothers (selling a CD-R of Destroy All Monsters rehearsal tapes), Gunter Hampel (ditto a live CBGB Lounge disc) and now Lul (see previous comment)! Sheesh, ya kinda wonder why these putzes even bother to go to the trouble to blab about their supposed wares inna first place!

Anonymous said...

Go the Amazon Seller route via that other link I sent you - it'll be cheaper as well!

muddroe said...

just saw this link to lul
came up in google. listening to it now. kinda into it.

Anonymous said...

Got that Lul CD... it contains 36 songs (!) - ie Colony 12", and the Autolocation and Inside Little Oral Annie LPs.

Can definitely hear MX-80 Sound there...