Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Kongress-"Tough Guys Don't Dance"/"Talk Talk" 45 rpm 7-inch spinner (Starborn)

As we all know wonders never cease, and that includes the wonders of discovering various lost artyfacts from the second psychedelic era such as this obscure outta nowhere single. Heck, even an eagle eye obsessive-compulsive about this kinda stuff guy like me never even knew that Otto von Ruggins' infamous Kongress even put out a record until now, and that's after a good quarter century or so of seeking these En Why underground rarities which only makes me wonder what else out there in the vast world of self-produced singles and elpees needs to be uncovered! I think I know why this particular platter remained buried under the weight of Clash Nu-Disks all these years and if you ask me it wasn't black magic that did this 'un in (more or less it was horrible distribution and promotion, but I'll let von Ruggins answer that for us one of these days).

Documenting the final Kongress lineup with the soon-to-be star of the Mudd Club Marilyn front and center, the dark gothic Can-like stylings of the Geofrey Crozier-manned version had by this time given way to shorter, "snappier" numbuhs that were more attuned to NYC '80 than '76. This single does convey the group's "new music for the end of the world" stylings with Marilyn clearly coming from the Niagara school of talk-sing as she rich-bitches up "Tough Guys Don't Dance" in a way similar to (but not as good as) her predecessor Iolsa Hatt. Meanwhile, von Ruggins and band perform a music that continues on the legacy of the original variant's stark electronic drive heavy on the gothic portable organ. There's an electronic pulse here that's well attuned to the club hopping set of the early-eighties, but frankly I don't hold it against 'em one bit. More "new wave", but in an intense Max's Kansas City way that would appeal to fans of the Comateens and Dizzy and the Romilars (both of whom I believe shared stages with Kongress) 'stead of those who fondly cozied up to the entire Madonna/Danceteria chic that would eventually wipe this particular era of underground off the map.

Flipster shows von Ruggins going back to his roots with a cover of "Talk Talk" which has Marilyn nonchalantly rattling off the lyrics whilst von Ruggins filters the spirit of '66 through the amorality of '79 En Why See. Best version heard in awhile; not as good as the Space Negroes' but better'n Alice's (which was no slouch itself). Oddly enough the label this left-fielder appeared on was owned and operated by one Mr Brian Ross, the same guy who had a hand in the packaging and handling of the Music Machine so it's no wonder why Kongress paid homage in this fashion (or maybe they were offered a deal they couldn't refuse?).

Given how this one flew under the radar for so long it's no surprise that it somehow missed getting slapped onto one of the myriad assortment of seventies punk/wave collections that have been flying around these past twentysome years. If someone out there is thinking of compiling a disc of rare recordings that came outta the En Why See/CBGB/Max's underground this would be a good candidate for inclusion, and I'd do the job myself (have loads of unheard seventies rarities of both an official and unreleased variety lingering in my "collection" that would make a splendid MAX'S KANSAS CITY VOLUME TEN) but frankly, I'm too poor to even consider thinking about doing one. And also too chicken, which helps!


Anonymous said...

Did you know that Marilyn is going to be performing in NYC on Oct 28 at the Mudd Club Reunion? The Comateens are performing too. Ann Magnuson, Pheobe Legere... The line-up is here:

Anonymous said...

This might come in handy:

Bryce Henry said...

Hey, alright! Thanks for that link Anonymous poster. Been waiting to hear this'n for awhile.