Friday, April 29, 2011

Another UT Writers' Playlist


1.    THE KINKS – Kinks  /Kinda Kinks / The Kink Kontroversy (Sanctuary): The first batch of the deluxe Kinks reissue series. Even though I own probably 95.5% of the material, I’m amazed about the remastered sound, especially on Ray’s demos of songs such as “I Go To Sleep,” which no longer sound like crap. Also, a friend of mine donated one of his Kinks rarities for one of the bonus tracks, which is pretty cool.

2.   V.A. - Stray Rays (CD-R): Continuing with the Kinks, this is a CD that Bill, the ModMan behind The Anorak Thing ( made for me, which is comprised of choice Kinks covers, as well as songs that Ray Davies wrote that the Kinks never did such as “Little Man In A Little Box” by Barry Fantoni. A lot of musical holes and questions of mine were filled by this CD. Thanks, Bill!

3.  The Ernie Kovacs Collection (Shout! Factory DVD): An excellent collection of the late (he exited the world the same year Mike & I came in) television comic’s work. Not everything works & there are dated spots, but there are many bits of staggering genius. The mind boggles at the thought of Ernie’s imagination coupled with today’s technology.

4.   WINGS - Band on the Run (Deluxe Edition): I got this for a friend for Christmas and I saw the live in the studio DVD and was so impressed that I got my own copy. A great album, with songs like “Let Me Roll It”, which sounds more Lennon than Lennon. Can this be considered a Power Pop Masterpiece?

5.     JOHNNY HALLYDAY – La Roi de France 1966-1969 (RPM): I’ve heard a lot of negative things about Johnny Hallyday, the French Elvis, and I got this with a bit of trepidation. However, the songs on this CD such as his covers of “Black Is Black,” “Hush” and the Small Faces tune “My Way of Giving,” as well as the songs that feature the Darlings of Wapping Wharf themselves as the backup band are pretty creditable and entertaining. I also enjoyed RPM’s compilation of his ex-wife Sylvie Vartan.

6.    JEAN SHEPHERD – Ticket to Ride (Radio Spirits): A 4-CD set of the musings and observations of Jean Shepherd of A Christmas Story fame of Britain and Scotland on the verge of the Swinging Sixties while traveling with the Beatles on their Fall 1964 UK tour (he was interviewing them on assignment for Playboy Magazine). He doesn’t mention the Beatles until near the end, although he does talk a little bit about the Pretty Things, proclaiming them to look and sound “like the Four Andrews Sisters” (I wonder which Andrew Sister looked like Dick Taylor?).

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Mike Stax's Playlist of Current Faves

1.       THE DOWNLINERS SECT – Brite Lights – Big City (Hand of Glory, 2011) 7” EP. Are you kidding? I’ve fantasized for almost 25 years about what this unreleased 1964 EP might sound like, but never thought I’d ever get to actually hear it. Miraculously, the long lost master tape surfaced and fell into the right hands, so now it’s been released to the world. It does not disappoint. This is the kind of teenage punk rhythm’n’blues that first fired my obsession, and it never ceases to thrill me. (more on page 200 of the new issue)

2.       THE FLAMIN’ GROOVIES Jumpin’ in the Night (Sire, 1979) LP. I bought this and dug it when it first came out in ’79, and pulled it off the shelf every now and then for a spin. However, it wasn’t until a couple of months ago that it hit me just how great it is. Like most fans, I suppose I’d always felt it was overshadowed by the Shake Some Action album. That shadow has passed. This is every bit its equal; a brilliantly realized melding of Byrds, Beatles, and Aftermath-period Stones. Top picks: “Yes I Am,” “Tell Me Again.

3.       JONATHAN RABB – Rosa (Three Rivers Press, 2005) Book. Atmosphere is of paramount importance to me in fiction, and in this outstanding crime noir set in 1919 Berlin the atmosphere is so thick it feels like you’re swimming through it.

4.       THE MAGNIFICENT BROTHERHOOD – Dope Idiots (World in Sound, 2010) CD. From Berlin 1919 to Berlin now, and the impressive debut album by these Berlin-based garage freaks. Music Machine and Seeds influence abound in the guitar-keys-bass-drums format, but they put their own inventive twist on the genre with memorable songwriting, strong vocals and a natural sense of chemistry and energy. Fave tracks: “Last Song About You,” “Degeneration.”

5.       KELLEY STOLTZ – To Dreamers (Sub Pop, 2010) CD. Kelley Stoltz is one of those rare songwriters who manage to absorb ‘60s pop and beat influences and make them into something that seems new and fresh. There’s a strong Ray Davies flavor to his best work, that slightly whimsical sense of longing and nostalgia, tinged with darkness and regret—not to mention melodies you find yourself whistling unexpectedly weeks later. Top picks: “Love Let Me In Again,” “I Remember, You Were Wild.”

6.       THE CONTRASTS – She Didn’t Care (unreleased demo, 1966). Blistering fuzz guitar spattered greatness recorded at Gold Star by San Diego teen garage band. CD release on UT Records soon Read their story next issue.

7.       JIM SULLIVAN - U.F.O. (Light in the Attic, 2010) CD. Jim Sullivan lived in La Mesa in the ‘60s, less than a mile from where I sit right now. He disappeared without a trace in the New Mexico desert in 1975. His 1969 album, U.F.O., is a haunted loner masterpiece, sounding a bit like Tim Hardin, but with a more wide open, West Coast vibe, complete with sterling backing from Wrecking Crew musicians. There’s a subtle, eerie depth to Sullivan’s songs that’s hard to resist: “It’s my time to go,” he sings on one track, “I just want the wind to blow / my ashes until they’re completely out of sight.” Sullivan’s strange, fascinating, doomed story is detailed in the liner notes of this beautifully put together reissue. Picks: “Highways,” “U.F.O.,” “So Natural.”

8.       ROY GAINES – Skippy is a Sissy (RCA, 1958) 7” single. I just heard this for the first time (thanks, Greg) and my drool-soaked jaw is still on the floor. Does anything rock harder than this superheated ’58 rocker out of Houston, Texas? I’m thinking not.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Writers' Playlists. part 4


 1.       Jah Wobble: Memoirs Of A Geezer (Serpent’s Tail, paperback). One has to have some belief in Wobble’s significance as a bass innovator to tolerate some of the more indulgent aspects of this book, but, when and if past that, his engaging (and surprisingly earnest) personality and raconteurial skills make for a smashing page-turner.

2.       Coo-Coo Party Time, et al: Seven Ways To Sunday (Thick Syrup box). With their boxed 3-LP debut, Half-Japanese were nothing if not audacious. Following suit, co-founder David Fair has compiled a reissue version of his stunning 1990 album as Coo-Coo Rockin’ Time that includes that album’s songs reimagined by six different acts; in other words, the original slab of genius plus six tribute albums to same, plus companion book.

3.       Red Saunders Research Foundation ( Documentation of Chicago’s jazz and early R&B scenes so overwhelming in scope and depth that all but the insane can bear to take in more than small chunks at a time.


1. Keith Richards – Life (Hachette Book Co) Keith's bio just confirms what we already knew-he is the coolest.

2. Nashville Teens - "Ella James" single (United Artists #50880) Monster version of Move Monster. Issued in the US in fave 45 lately.

3. Dave Davies - Hole In The Sock Of Album-Bootleg. I keep pulling this out every so often...all his KillerKool mid-to-late 60's singles and unissued album cuts.

4. "Spider" John Koerner, Tony Glover & Dave Ray - Lots More Blues, Rags & Hollers (Elektra EKL-267) Second volume of 2 in the series issued in late '64. The title sums it up. Includes the great Dylanesque "Lady Day" and some killer steel slide by one of my fave slide players "Spider" John Koerner.

5. Donald Duck Adventures - The Gilded Man by Carl Barks (Comic Book). Barks, the inventor of 'Uncle Scrooge' has been an idol of mine since I discovered who he was in the early 70's. This is one of my favorite comics. I managed to collect all of his work over the decades (over 1000 stories).

6. Mad Men - TV Show (A&E) One of the best. The show encompasses every aspect of the early 60's. Sort of an over the edge Peyton Place. I know—a new show—yes, it's GREAT! Highly recommended.


1.       Frankie Dymon Jr. – Let It Out (BASF) (LP). An album of black power ruminations from poet/activist Frankie Dymon JR. with music courtesy of Achim Reichel and crew. It fits nicely under the Krautrock umbrella; encompassing poetry, groove based rock, folk & Psychedelia and above all – it’s a freaky trip.

2.       Static Minds – Electricity (Custom Made Music) (CD) Hard rocking North Carolina band mixes the power of the MC5 with the stadium friendly sounds of early Kiss and put forth a stomper of an album that smells of muscle cars and good weed.

3.       Joachim Kuhn – Bloody Rockers (BYG) (LP) German free jazzer brews up a heady mix of the “New Music” and Psychedelic rock, spices it nicely, stirs it in a pot then lets it bore a hole in your brain.

4.       Les Variations – Nador (Pathe Marconi / Magic Records International) Not only one of the finest examples of French post psych heavy rock but one of the finest examples of heavy rock period.

5.       Young Flowers - Blomsterpistolen (LP) Heavy yet meditative and elongated psychedelic blues based rock from Denmark that serves as the perfect musical accompaniment for my writing forays.

6.       Cult Of The Damned (a.k.a. Angel Angel Down We Go) (Movie). This exploitation classic consists of a sadistic Jim Morrison type Psychedelic singer who chooses to wreck havoc on a wealthy decadent family through mind trips, LSD and murder!


1. WILSON PICKETT - Funky Midnight Mover: The Atlantic Studio Recordings (1962-1978) (Rhino Handmade) 6CD box. Finally the early works of the Wicked Man are reissued in the proper mono mixes on this complete overview of his Atlantic years. Not for completists – for soul fans, period.

2. V.A. - With Love: A Pot of Flowers (Ace/Big Beat, UK) CD. Pebbles before Pebbles. Dig the expansion with 14 mostly great extra tracks.

3. NIGHT SUN - Mournin’ (Second Battle, Germany) CD/LP. Legit reissue of German speedfreak hard rock from 1972.

4. THE FABULOUS COUNTS. Way underrated Detroit funk band. The 1969 Cotillion album (Jan Jan) has been reissued, but my dream is an expanded version that rounds up their non-LP Moira singles, plus the singles they cut as Lunar Funk and Bad Smoke.

5. DOUG SAHM - “Crazy, Crazy Feelin’” b/w “Baby, What’s On Your Mind” (Renner) 45. Killer horn-backed doo-wop ballad from 1961 backed with a fine bluesy rocker. Why have Sir Doug’s Renner sides never been reissued?

6. CANYON - “Top of the World (Make My Reservation)” (MagnaGlide/London) 45. Killer bubbleglam from Ashland, Ohio produced by Kasenetz-Katz that actually managed to dent the Top 100 in 1975 and, in UT terms, features two former Es-Shades. Now if I could only find a stock copy with the B-side.


1.       Miles Davis - Bitches Brew Live [Sony/Legacy CD 2011]. First off, Miles is sporting the funkiest outfits in the liner notes. Also, the music. The Isle of Wight set has been a favorite since Murray Lerner's Message To Love came out. Paired with essental early electric recordings of Bitches Brew tunes from Newport '69... but by '70 the band was taking things to a lithe, live level that became and remained so unlike what anyone else did, or could ever do.

2.       Death - Spiritual/Mental/Physical [Drag City CD 2010]. Great, recorded-in-a-garage punk from the Detroit trio. Tunes from their sole release, "For The Whole Wide World To See" (also reissued on Drag City), in demo version; rockin' jams (dig "The Masks": ad-libbed lyrics to the verse of "Got To Get You Into My Life" alternated with dirty thrash); sweet and surprisingly tender tunes like "The Change" and "David's Dream". Enjoyable even without knowing Whole World.

3.       The Electric Flag - Music From "The Trip" [Sidewalk LP, 1968]. Off-putting but somehow compelling, this early Moog rock entry and psychsploitation soundtrack pulls of the oddest full band score before swapping in some hot leads by Bloomfield & co. on side 2. Just generic enough the rest of the time that my girlfriend will actually listen to it because it sounds like Christmas music to her.

4.       Those Shocking, Shaking Days [Now & Then CD 2011]. Skull-smashing comp from erstwhile hip hop crate digger label. Smooth & beautiful packaging without, & deep tracks within, all gems from tiny Indonesian presses that'll cost you upwards of a grand to find online. Ranging from JB struts to blissed-out Western style psych, all with a thick veneer of jungle funk. Has not left the CD player.

5.       The Widow's Might [WFMU DJ promo, 2010]. Fall pledge drive promo from the ever-righteous "Sinner's Crossroads" show on WFMU. Every song that Kevin Nutt played in 2010 sent on data DVD - almost 700 tracks of gut-grabbing gospel. Heaven. Literally.


1. Kiki Dee - The Fontana Anthology (1963-1968) (KD-001) 2CD. Unauthorized two-CD set of virtually everything she recorded in her first five years has mucho sub-Dusty Springfield pop-soul-girl group guilty pleasure. (An official single-disc comp with slightly different contents has just come out on RPM.)

2. Peter Green - The Peter Green Story: Man of the World (Wienerworld) DVD. Excellent 2009 documentary, still unavailable on DVD in the US. Features plenty of new interview material from Green and fellow Fleetwood Macmen Mick Fleetwood, John McVie, and –most surprisingly –a wholly coherent Jeremy Spencer, who'd been hard to trace for decades after leaving to join the Children of God cult.

3. Peter Green - Blues-Rock God. Self-assembled 80-minute CDR of the highlights of Green's 1966-70 work, mostly with the early Fleetwood Mac and mostly with Green as songwriter/lead singer. Tortured white British blues-rock at its apex, especially the long version of his magnum opus "Oh Well."

4. John Walker & Gary Walker - No Regrets: Our Story (John Blake). Book. Overlooked recent autobio from two of the three Walker Brothers tells the whole story beginning to end with straightforward, engaging clarity.

5. Julian Palacios - Syd Barrett & Pink Floyd: Dark Globe (Plexus). Book. The most exhaustive bio of the legend to date. Another 2010 Barrett bio, Rob Chapman's A Very Irregular Head: The Life of Syd Barrett (Da Capo), is also recommended as a livelier read, though it's less intensely detailed.

6. The Agony and the Ecstasy of Phil Spector (VIXPIX Films/BBC Arena). Uneven but often compelling documentary, based around ultra-creepy interviews with the famed producer (likely the last he'll give) shortly before he went to prison.


1.       V.A. – Listen To The Voices: Sly Stone In The Studio 1965–70 (Ace). Having all these revolutionary Sly Stone production rarities in one place is a godsend. Includes a pair of stellar Beau Brummels tracks that most UT readers won’t want to miss.

2.       Bob Dylan – Bootleg Series Vol. 9: The Witmark Demos 1962–1964 (Columbia). Having circulated underground for decades, this version, finally, is the ultimate way to experience these early Dylan takes. Next up, I hope, will be a definitive 4-CD set of the complete Basement Tapes.

3.       V.A. – The World Ends: Afro Rock & Psychedelia in 1970s Nigeria (Soundway); V.A. – Afro-Beat Airways: West African Shock Waves, Ghana & Togo 1972–1978 (Analog Africa). Soundway and Analog Africa, among others in this field, are certainly having a detrimental effect on my bank account, but with such great music in my hands as a result I don’t mind one bit. Their superbly researched archival works do for African styles what Pebbles and its successor series once did for American garage rock.


1. Kaleidoscope – When Scopes Collide (Taxim). The great late-’60s band reconvened in 1976 for a one-off originally on Mike Nesmith’s Pacific Arts label. Chris Darrow, David Lindley (as De Paris Letante), Solomon Feldthouse, Chester Crill (AKA Max Buda, Templeton Parcely), etc., apply the Beacon from Mars treatment to Ellington’s “Black & Tan Fantasy,” Leiber & Stoller’s “Little Egypt” and the creepiest “Ghost Riders in the Sky” ever recorded.

2. Plimsouls – Live! Beg, Borrow & Steal (Alive). Argue all you want, but the Plims were the LA band of the 1980s. Nobody rocked it harder or had better tunes. This Halloween ’81 show from the Whisky a Go Go, with the Fleshtones joining them, proves it.

3. Coal Porters – Durango (Prima). Former Long Ryders’ ringmeister Sid Griffin took his latest UK-based band, the Coal Porters, to Durango, Colo., to record this CD with producer Ed Stasium (Ramones, Talking Heads, Smithereens). It’s alt.-bluegrass with a punk-ish knees-up.

4. Stew – The Naked Dutch Painter (Smile). A nine-year-old live album by Stew of the Negro Problem found in a 99-cent junk box. Includes some of the cleverest wordplay since Dylan stole Eric Von Schmidt’s rhyming dictionary in 1961. The 11-minute title track is a hoot, once you sort out the naked Dutch painter’s a woman.

5. Washington Phillips – Key to the Kingdom (Yazoo). Phillips, a Texas gospel singer with a voice like “God driving an ice cream truck,” recorded for Columbia in the late 1920s. A weird mix of musicians ranging from Ry Cooder, Will Oldham and Gillian Welch to Phish and the Be Good Tanyas have covered him, which says something as he cut only 18 tracks and played something that looked like a fretless zither.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Writers' Playlists. Part 3

Some more of our writers pick some recent faves...


1. Jim Keays – “Whiskey Woman.” The Masters' voice, aged like good liquor, on a fantastic cover of the Groovies' opus. With backing from members of fine Melbourne outfit the Pictures. Will appear on a forthcoming solo album that is gonna be almost too good to be true, and exactly the kind of record you've always wished your old heroes would make.

2. Hawkwind – “Needle Gun.” From mid-'80's album The Chronicle of the Black Sword, inspired by Michael Moorcock's Elric character, although this one is clearly about Jerry Cornelius. Compact and high energy stun-guitar rocker to rival Calvert classics “The Right Stuff” and “Ejection.”

3. The Raconteurs – “Broken Boy Soldiers.” I wasn't paying much attention at the time, but these guys were one of the great groups of the last decade or so. The mix of Jack Whites' blues rock raunch and Brendan Benson's classic power pop moves made for a perfect blend

4. Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band – “Rendezvous.” The late '70's Raspberries-lovin' Boss comes on all Searchers-meets-Phil Spector & the Wrecking Crew on this, his lost masterpiece. From the new set of pre-Darkness sessions, The Promise. I've loved this tune since the Greg Kihn Band first cut it in 1980 or so. Oh go on then, have a laugh...

5. The Bermondsey Joyriders – New London outfit led by Garry Lammin of the original Cock Sparrer line-up. I always though those guys were just some horrible Oi band, but, whatever they may have become, I've since found that their early stuff is just great, glam-influenced punk (check out their 1976 recordings on The Decca Sessions) and this new lot continues the vibe, albeit with a slide-heavy sound that sits in between the Gorillas and one of Tim Kerr's punky blues outfits like Jack O' Fire.

6. Honest John Plain & The Amigos - '”70s Girl.” Anthemic Mott-meets-Pistols rocker from Honest John Plain of the Boys and pals. From their rocking 2006 album "One More And We're Staying".

7. Imperial State Electric. Nicke from the Hellacopter's new group follow a Raspberries + MC5 = Kiss formula and deliver a super hard-pop album,

8. Psycho Daisies – “Sonically Speaking.” Couldn't let this issue pass without mention of the death late last year of the great Florida guitarist Johnny Salton, best known for his work with Charlie Pickett & the Eggs. A rabid fan of great guitarists from Johnny Thunders to Nick Saloman to obviously Jeff Beck, John had a great feel and usually a great tone (and taste enough to cover the Crawdaddys!), and this mid-'80s album from his own post-Eggs outfit sits for me alongside records by his fave artists of the era, including the Gun Club and the Dream Syndicate

9. Led Zeppelin - IV or whatever you wanna call it. I'm now the big brother I never had...

10. And on my latest car-tape - Wooden Shjips - 'We Ask You To Ride', Paybacks 'Black Girl', Sensational Alex Harvey Band 'Midnight Moses', Dengue Fever - 'Tip My Canoe' & 'One Thousand Tears of a Tarantula', Devotions 'Rock'n'Roll Sister', Swedish Magazines 'Head On Ice' (Best Bon/Vanda & Young-era AC/DC-style song in decades came from Tasmania in 2005), The Steppes - Tourists From Timenotyet, The Hitmen 'War Of Hands of Time', Free - ' Fire And Water '


1. SONICS – Explosives (LP Buckshot, 1973) The earliest, rarest and best Sonics reissue, featuring the top 11 tracks from their first two LPs plus a 45-only track, all in gloriously earsplitting Mono.

 2. AGGREGATION – Mind Odyssey (LP LHI, 1969) Many mainstream '60s psych LPs sound first great and then cheesy; this elegant tribute to mind expansion takes the exact opposite route.

 3. V.A. – RELAXED JOURNEYS VOL 2 (CD Chill Tribe, 2006) A superb Norwegian selection from the vast European underground of modern psychedelic electronica; consistently cinematic and melodic.

 4. BELA BARTOK – The String Quartets (2-CD Philips, 1994) The master of eerie modernism brings the listener into a space of sharp corners and not much comfort with this terse, almost skeletal chamber music.

 5. EZRA POUND – The Cantos (anthology book, 1965) One needs two dozen reference works to understand the "meaning" of this magnum opus of modernist poetry, but Pound's unparalleled grasp of rhythm and sound requires no explication.

 6. MASTERS APPRENTICES – Vol 2 (EP Astor, 1967) To complement your original mono album you need this marvy EP with two non-LP Bower masterpieces, and I finally scored a clean one!


1) Forever Changes: Arthur Lee and the Book of Love by John Einarson. You've all probably finished reading it by now, but I didn't get it until Christmas.



A pair of music blogs that never fail to entertain. The former primarily covers European '60s Mod, Freakbeat and whathaveyou with scores of rare goodies, and the latter regularly presents well-prepared mixes of old and new sounds.


Online scanned copies of the Ugly Things of the 1960s. They're not always easy to read, but they're quite often interesting.

5) Simon and Garfunkel. A Long Island theater's recent presentation of rare S&G clips inspired me to take their five original Columbia LPs off the shelf and re-enjoy them.

6) And finally...for some modern music grown from '60s pop seeds. I'll vouch for him:


1) Don Fardon – Selected 45’s ‘67-’69 (Young Blood, Vogue/Hit-ton). Top mod pop club sounds par excellence from the ex-Sorrows frontman—big interview with “the tallest man in British pop” in UT #32!

2) Julien Covey & the Machine – “A Little Bit Hurt” (Fontana). A whopping blue eyed soul two sider from the former Brian Auger and Graham Bond drummer, co-written and produced by Jimmy Miller. Covey went on to popsike greatness as Philamore Lincoln.

3) The Smoke –“ Have Some More Tea” (Metronome). Yorkshire lads of “My Friend Jack” fame make it big in Germany with a stunning fuzz laden tale with obvious drug references. Where’s the UT story?

4) Marquis of Kensington – “Flash” (CBS). The Kinks’ manager Robert Wace and record producer Mike Leander are broke, and crank out an instro monster that becomes a hit in Das Vaterland! They find a guy on the King’s Road to act as the Marquis on the record sleeve and TV appearances!

5) Small Faces – The Autumn Stone 2 x LP (Immediate). Simply the best album for a lazy Sunday afternoon!

6) Hellraisers: The Life and Inebriated Times of Richard Burton, Richard Harris, Peter O’Toole and Oliver Reed by Robert Sellers (book). A whole lot more “sex, drugs and rock’n’roll” than the recent Keith Richards biography!


1. MICMACS (French film -Warner Brothers Ent.) Capra collides with Terry Gilliam's Brazil in an unexpectedly fun movie.

2. WILLIE EGAN - Wow Wow: Rockin' the Blues (CD -Empire Musicwerks) Upbeat proto-rock foot stompin' jump blues with crazy early-Ernie Freeman guitar.

3. SENTARIANS "Don't Go" b/w "Flight" 45 (Jadt Records) Are they garage or are they surf? Either way, this is an insanely great 60's waxing!

4. SLEEPY EYES OF DEATH Volume II set (Japanese films -Animeigo) Chambara films don't get any better than these nihilistic, blood-soaked, mini-epics starring Raizo Ichikawa, the Japanese James Dean.

5. M.C. BEATON "Hamish Macbeth" novels (Constable & Robinson Pub.) Don't ask. After reading every hardboiled novel I could get my hands on, these books are nice light detective reading with a Scottish Highlands setting. Haggis and tea anyone?


1. Anything by Buddy Holly. He is God to me.

2. Anything by The La's. In my humble opinion, one of the best British bands ever.

3. The Four Lovers - 1956 (Bear Family CD). Pre-Four Seasons. Cooler than you might think.

4. Eddie Cochran Box Set (Bear Family CDs). An unbelievably talented young man. Good looking too.

5. Dale Hawkins - "Susie Q" (Checker 45 RPM). Just played it five times in a row. Pure genius.

6. The first three Ramones albums (Sire Vinyl). My affection for the Ramones keeps on growing.


1. Josh Ritter's oeuvre. I haven't had much luck with music from the 2000s, but this tremendous singer-songwriter is one of the few present day artists to really grab me, and every one of his albums is as good as the last.

2. Paul McCartney "Back Seat of My Car." Many listens via ipod over the last few years have cemented its place as my choice for most perfect pop epic ever.

3. Jonathan Franzen – Freedom. Book. After all of the hype it was hard to resist this one, which is way overlong and is most certainly not the great American novel, but is a legitimately modern variation on previous generations' "great American novels," even sharing with Hemingway, Updike, Irving, et al misogyny thinly disguised as a failed attempt to convince the reader that he's that rare man who actually understands women. The weirdest thing about this book is the myriad of details that sound like they came directly from my life, as if Franzen knew me and decided to mock me.

4. Happy Dragon Band - S/T. LP. This is actually the same people behind the faux-Doors album by the Phantom, but in a weirdo synth-heavy proto-new wave mode, except that once the new wavers got hold of synthesizers they never did anything as creative as this.

5. Winner Take All Politics by Hacker & Pierson and Griftopia by Matt Taibbi. Best of the many books I've read about what really caused our economy to collapse. Peripherally related to rock and roll because Taibbi wries for Rolling Stone, which these days is far more interesting for its political and/or social commentary writing than for its pathetic attempt to still be musically relevant.

6. vintage videos by Kaleidoscope (the UK psych band) and Group 1850 (among others) on Youtube

It continues to amaze me how people dig up stuff I never knew existed in the first place. Bands we think of as obscure and weird actually appeared on TV in their heyday, and I have to assume they blew away their contemporary audiences the way these videos blow me away now.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Writers' Playlists. Part 2

More Ugly Things writers pick their recent favorites....


1.  White Fence - S/T + ...Is Growing Faith (Make A Mess/Woodsist, LP/CD) - Bedroom loner-psych from Darker My Love frontman. Melodic, jarring, scorching and gentle at once. My generation's Dan Treacy?

2. Maniac (Blue Underground, Blu-ray) - Early 80's splatter that matters! FINALLY the crazed Frank Zito (Joe Spinell) meets a deluxe treatment. Co-produced and directed by all-time great character actor Spinell.

3. Wreckless Eric – His back catalogue kept findin' my ears during the production of the issue you're holding in your hands. Particularly the Len Bright Combo albums and Le Beat Group Electrique.

4. Biters - S/T + It's Okay To Like Biters (Underrated, 10”/CD EP) - This is what Cheap Trick would sound like if they were still vital, shot with some 70's junkshop glam. Essential power pop.

5. Kevin Coyne - Marjory Razorblade (EMI EUR, CD) - Sublime, poetic semi-acoustic (and acoustic) roots sojourns peppered with the occasional rocker. Slot this in next to Beggar's Banquet and ya may find it at the head of the table.

6. Caravan - Caravan (Island, LP) - Ideas that wouldn't catch fire with me elsewhere beautifically coalesce on this outing from the Canterbury scene. I keep comin back...


1. Orange Juice – Coals to Newcastle CD box set. This fabulous reissue of the entire recorded output of the mighty OJ has seen a lot of play in my household, particularly their frequently slighted third album. Witty, charming, and one-of-a-kind, OJ were post-punk gems. I also enjoyed Edwyn Collins' 2010 solo lp Losing Sleep.

2. Emma Donoghue - Room: Hands down, the best book of 2010 for me. A thrilling, disturbing, suspenseful, and moving reading experience.

3. The Marvelettes. Always amazing.

4. The Smiths - Unreleased Demos and Instrumentals bootleg. Like most reasonable folks, I'm a bit skeptical of bootlegs. This one, however, delivered exactly what it promised. This collection of previously unheard goodies from my favorite band made my year.

5. Jon Savage's Black Hole comp of California punk, reviewed in this issue of UT.


1.   DAVID BOWIE - Best of Bowie (EMI DVD). This greatest hits package gathers up a whole slew of well-produced videos from the Dame’s lengthy career, including Julien Temple’s Jazzin’ for Blue Jean, the terrific promos for the Lodger material, vintage clips from The Old Grey Whistle Test and Top of the Pops, and the original Mick Rock shorts from the Ziggy Stardust era, later poached by Todd Haynes for Velvet Goldmine.

2.  EARL SLICK BAND - debut album (Capitol LP). First of two albums of melodic Seventies hard rock featuring a post-Bowie Earl Slick on guitar and a post-Stories Bryan Madey on drums, as well as the considerable vocal and songwriting talents of Jimmie Mack. The second, Razor Sharp, is heavier but I prefer the debut, especially for its wry homage to the legendary PJ Proby.

3.  DOMINIC FRONTIERE - A Name for Evil / The Unknown (La La Land CD). Beautiful yet eerie orchestral pieces by a modern American composer who found his niche doing film and TV soundtracks and whose style, fittingly, echoes Bernard Herrman. This release pairs a minor Robert Culp horror flick and perhaps the best of the many Outer Limits episodes that Frontiere scored, “The Forms of Things Unknown.”

4.  TOM NEWMAN - Fairie Symphony (Decca LP, Esoteric CD). Having engineered Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells and Hergest Ridge, Newman appears to have spent the rest of the Seventies reading Tolkien and watching A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The resulting instrumental suite, featuring Newman’s old mate Jon Field (ex-July, Jade Warrior), is exactly the sum of its parts, recalling those first Oldfield works and later Jade Warrior releases like Kites or Way of the Sun and displaying the same effortless ability to shift between ambience and electric ferocity before stealing away to dreamland.

5.  STUART MACONIE - Cider With Roadies (Ebury Press). A hysterical troll through UK life in the Seventies, Eighties, and Nineties with one of Britain’s finest rock journalists, Maconie’s 2005 autobiography addresses every musical trend therein, from loving ELP to hating Napalm Death and raising a glass with Morrissey. A real-life High Fidelity.

6. GARY MOORE - Back on the Streets (MCA LP, Grand Slamm CD). 1978 solo debut from late Irish guitar hero, backed up by former bandmates from Thin Lizzy and Colosseum II and including the melancholy hit “Parisienne Walkways.” A personal favorite of mine, it showcases in one place the hard rock, blues, and prog/fusion genres that Moore mastered in his varied career, sadly now concluded. RIP Gary.


1.  Design - Design and Tomorrow Is So Far Away. CDs. Dreamy sunshine pop from the early seventies that somehow sneaked under the radar. Impeccable and complex harmonies, strong playing, crystal production ... and great songs. Faultless, gorgeous, summer music. Out of print.

2.   Sly & Robbie – Hot Dub. CD. A showcase for subtly mind-blowing musical muscle. Deep as a springwater well, bright as the Jamaica sun. Out of print.

3.  Howard Roberts - Antelope Freeway and Equinox Express Elevator. CDs. Two stunning albums from a jazz guitarist that defy categorisation (and therefore sales). Electric, avant garde, eclectic, hip, trippy, downright hilarious ... and out of print.

4.   John Le CarrĂ© - The Russia House. Book. A late convert to the cause, I’m scarfing up everything by Le CarrĂ© that I can find. Currently trying to make this one last more than the single sitting that would finish it. We are not worthy!

5.  Raymond Chandler – The Little Sister. Book. I’m always reading something by Chandler, and have been for decades. The two-volume Library Of America edition is my bedside bible.

6.  Osho – The Buddha Said. Book. Osho is as big a Buddhist Bullshitter as any (and it’s a crowded field), but this commentary on some of the Buddha’s more useful quotes is, unusually, both insightful and a damn good read. Avoid everything else Osho does like the plague, though.



1.  Slacktone – Into The Blue Sparkle (GoBoy) CD. For my money, Slacktone is the best neo-surf band around – all their records come highly recommended, but they really take it to another level live, most recently contributing a blistering set at an Eddie Bertrand benefit gig in Huntington Beach.

2.  The Renegades – Cadillac, Thirteen Women (Norton) 45s. Superb Birmingham beat/rock ‘n roll combo took a retooled version of Vince Taylor’s “Brand New Cadillac” to the top of the charts in Finland, then unleashed a wild version of Bill Haley’s “Thirteen Women.” Great sounds and I love the optional center!

3.  Richard Podolor – BB Polka (Radio) 45. He produced Three Dog Night among others, but I’d rather dig his fluid guitar lines in the Super Stocks’ “Midnight Run” and the full bodied sound he got on the Roosters’ incomparable “One Of These Days.” This vintage instrumental really shows his prowess as a player - great picking throughout.

4.  Classic Surf Films From The 50s & 60s (Tropics Entertainment) DVD. I never tire of watching vintage surf docs – this box from 2008 has four of them, all featuring terrific footage, some good music, and narration chock full of surfing’s unique, often humorous lingo.


 1.  The Beatles – At The Hollywood Bowl. Nearly 50 years after the Fabs’ first US performances, this blast of energy remains infectious fun.

2.  Budgie – Bandolier. I’m not a huge hard rock fan, but took a chance on this disc based on a recommendation from the Galactic Ramble book – and it is indeed very solid early ’70s heaviness.

3.  It’s A Beautiful Day – S/T. I already knew "White Bird," but was pleasantly surprised to find the entire LP is a varied, engaging SF psych record.

4.  Mi Generacion – S/T. My fave recent "discovery" is Wah Wah’s 2 LP (plus 7") reissue of this Spanish band’s early ’70s recordings, which sound like prime-period CSN crossed with Peruvian group We All Together.

5. Os Mutantes – Mutantes. The second album by these kings of Brazilian tropical psychedelia is as tuneful as it is eccentric.

6.   Strange – Souvenir Album. Another megararity reissued by Shadoks, this Pacific Northwest group’s sole LP occasionally reminds me of early Neil Young in "desperate loner" mode.


1.  Carol Clerk – The Saga Of Hawkwind. Book. Filled with enough backstabbing, bitchiness and bitterness to make the Beach Boys seem like the best of compelling accounts of the band's life and times, and some excellent music. Unmissable!

2. Ninni Holmqvist – The Unit. Book. In this unsettling tale, people over 50 and 60 are sequestered from society, but must submit themselves for drug and psychological testing, then donate their organs, little by little, until the final decision... Logan's Run without the lasers.

3.  Carlos (IFC) DVD. His shaded mug adorned a Black Grape CD, now he's rotting in a French prison. A compelling six-hour look at one of the '70s' most notorious -- and equally iconic -- terrorist figures.

4.  Roy Buchanan – Live: Amazing Grace (Powerhouse Records) CD. Tom Principato releases a nifty 45-minute live comp of one of rock's most underrated backwoods guitar heroes. Listen to the one-two punch of "Hot Cha" and "Amazing Grace," and you'll understand why.

5. Stiff Little Fingers – Guitar And Drum. CD. More of a cult band than ever, Jake and company still have plenty of fire left in them, as the thumping anti-boy/girl band title track should amply demonstrate.

6.  The Vibrators – Pure Punk. CD. 28 well-performed covers laid down by one of the ultimate '77 survivors...the most fun comes in hearing songs not commonly associated with Knox and co., such as the Stranglers' "Get A Grip On Yourself."


1. Jim Sullivan - U.F.O. (Light In The Attic) CD. Lonesome country rock songs performed by Jim Sullivan, backed by the wrecking crew - my favorite re-issue of the year.

2. Damien Jurado and Richard Swift - Other People's Songs Volume One (self-released) CD. Two of America's finest contemporary songwriters get together for a hazy covers album that lives online, free for everyone to enjoy (download and stream at

3. Ted Lucas - The Om Album (Yoga) This is the album that you always wished a stoned folkie would make - side A is perfection.

4. Talk Talk - Laughingstock (Verve) I've had the hardest time finding this album on LP. Finally picked up the Verve re-issue at the excellent De Capo Records in Utrecht, Holland.

5. One Trip Pass - ( I can look at Jay Carroll's mood boards for days and days.

6. Alec Soth - Broken Manual (Little Brown Mushroom) Soth's new photo book and essays are about Americans that live off the grid in self imposed exile.

Among UT readers, clearly I have no friends. If I did, at least somebody would’ve busted my chops (or presently barren noggin) after last issue; after that ‘playlist’ photo of me sporting a Sonny Bono wig. Actually, that was me letting my hair grow out c. ‘85/86 …briefly, in a less than successful response to UT#4 (or was it 99th Floor #7?). It’s Ugly Things, after all. I thought you were supposed to send in an old photo.

1.  Beau Brummels: With the last decade - whatever it was called - finally behind us, I am firmly decided on Reissue of the Decade: The Beau Brummels’ Magic Hollow box set on Rhino Handmade. Really, I’ve know this since receiving an advance copy back when. But recently, I got too deeply involved in it again, particularly WB era Non-LP ‘n’ rarities (“Lower Level, “Lift Me”, “On the Road Again”, “Glass”, etc. etc.). For those in similar awe of Valentino & Elliott, prepare to get Brummeled beyond belief with expanded editions of Triangle and Bradley’s Barn (Rhino Handmade, again). The latter corrals two discs of outtakes and some amazing Sal solo outings like “Friends and Lovers” which is stylistically more deserving of the earlier, orchestrated Triangle. On the subject of Triangle, my absolute favorite BB’s track for awhile now is “Nine Pound Hammer”. Sal Valentino recorded one magnificent vocal after the next throughout the Brummels’ original ‘60s run. But “Hammer” has to be one of his absolute best.
That’s my list. Lately, nothing else comes close.