Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

Album of the Day 10/28/10

Tons of new stuff waiting in the wings: Mick Rock’s latest photo exhibit at Morrison Hotel Gallery; a punk/skinhead photo retrospective at the Calandra Institute in midtown; Middle Eastern groove band Copal’s new album, and much more, check  back in a few hours. In the meantime, as we do every day, our 1000 best albums of all time countdown continues all the way to #1. Thursday’s album is #824:

The UK Subs – Crash Course

Believe it or not, the prototypical oi punks’ first live album made the top ten on the British charts in 1980. This is the original, classic lineup with Charlie Harper backed by Nicky Garratt on guitar, Paul Slack on bass and Pete Davis on drums. Unlike so many of the hardcore bands that followed in their wake, the Subs’ irrepressible sense of humor and genuine defiance are in full effect here: Harper always let it be known that he and the rest of the crew were just glad to be able to make a living without having to work for some slimeball boss. The original vinyl album has 20 tracks; the cd includes the bonus ep with four additional live songs recorded considerably earlier. Unfortunately, you can’t download the big 20-inch UK SUBS stencil that came with the record, an absolutely brilliant piece of marketing that literally can still be seen 30 years later in places where long ago, punks used to get together. All their early hits are here: the hardcore classic I Live in a Car; the Subhumans-style reggae-rock Warhead; a trebly New York State Police (without the loud lead bass on the studio version); a comfortably unhinged Emotional Blackmail; the punk-pop of Tomorrow’s Girls and Teenage (Harper was 36 when he sang “I don’t wanna be teenage”). After awhile, a lot of this starts to sound the same, but there literally isn’t a bad song among the total of 24 tracks here. Harper has assembled several different outfits to back him over the years, Garratt and later bassist Alvin Gibbs rejoining at times; after a detour into a more metal-oriented direction in the mid-80s, they’d make a return to their punk roots in later years to cash in on the nostalgia circuit. Now in his late sixties, Harper remains as unstoppable as ever and still tours. Here’s a random torrent.

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October 27, 2010 Posted by | lists, Music, music, concert, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Album of the Day 10/26/10

Every day our 1000 best albums of all time countdown continues all the way to #1. Tuesday’s album is #826:

The Anti-Nowhere League – Live in Yugoslavia

In 1982, these comedically assaultive British punks added a second guitarist to fill out their live sound and then went on a brief tour of Yugoslavia where they’d be pretty much under the radar, working up new material and arrangements – such as there are arrangements in punk rock. Audiences there loved them, and this thunderously entertaining album is the result. It’s got most of the best tracks off their debut We Are…the League, from the previous year, including the hellraising anthem Let’s Break the Law; the woozily insistent title track; the hilariously filthy Reck-A-Nowhere and So What; the society-done-me-wrong number For You; the kiss-off anthem Woman; and a deliciously over-the-top version of I Hate People (“I hate people…they hate me!!!”). There’s also some some equally ferocious stuff, like the defiant ode to living on the dole, Let the Country Feed You and the stomping Going Down, which hints at the Motorhead-style biker rock they’d digress into later in the decade. Over the years new versions of the League have assembled behind leather-clad frontman Animal and toured; practically thirty years since he first was banned from the BBC, he’s as amusing as ever. Here’s a random torrent.

October 26, 2010 Posted by | lists, Music, music, concert, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Album of the Day 10/19/10

Every day our 1000 best albums of all time countdown continues all the way to #1. Tuesday’s album is #833:

Stiff Little Fingers – Nobody’s Heroes

Possibly the longest-running of the classic punk bands from the 70s, Belfast’s Stiff Little Fingers are still touring, but in over thirty years on the road, frontman Jake Burns hasn’t lost a step. This 1980 album is the classic lineup including Henry Cluney on guitar and Ali McMordie (one of the most brilliant, unsung players from the era) on bass. We picked this because while it’s not as blisteringly assaultive as their 1979 debut Inflammable Material, or as diverse as 1981’s Go For It, it’s probably their most consistent one. Smalltown anomie and the desperate need to escape it pervades this album. The songs snarl with contempt for authority and conformity: Gotta Getaway and At the Edge resonate as potently now as when the album came out. Wait and See is one of their funniest songs, a snide slap back at everyone who’d dismissed them in their early days, “You’re not good enough to be a jazz band.” The album’s high point is the antiwar anthem Tin Soldiers, still a concert favorite. There’s also the defiant title track, the caustic Fly the Flag and an energized cover of the Specials’ Doesn’t Make All Right. The 2003 cd reissue also included a couple of cuts originally released on mid-90s greatest-hits compilations, including the amusing anti-censorship You Can’t Say Crap on the Radio along with the topical Troubles-era Straw Dogs and Bloody Sunday. Everything the band released through the decade of the 80s is worth owning, along with their handful of live albums: they’re still ferociously good in concert. Here’s a random torrent.

October 19, 2010 Posted by | lists, Music, music, concert, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Weak Records Get Off to a Strong Start

New Swiss-based label Weak Records don’t use their name sarcastically: from an astrophysical point of view, it is actually the “weak forces” in the universe that hold it together. Their brand is defiantly DIY, angry and completely unwilling to give up on having fun. In other words, late 70s/early 80s punk rock style. Their initial release, the Weak Records Sampler #1 has been assembled to coincide with current Weak artists’ tours, live shows and writing and it makes a great introduction to some people who deserve to be better-known than they are. Weak Records was conceived as a platform for poetry as well as music, and there are a couple of spoken-word tracks here as well. Brett Davidson’s To Do List cynically litanizes a series of mundane and no-so-mundane projects that might be possible with a little respite. Bobby Vacant’s Cancerland savages endless bleak cloned suburban rot over a contrastingly pretty acoustic guitar background.

The music here is upbeat and funny. Mixin’ Bowl, by Riders of the Worm blends echoey, off-center riff-oriented Chrome Cranks garage punk with a late period Man or Astroman feel. I´m Not Your Dog, by Police Bulimia matches snapping bass to trebly percussive punk guitar with an early 80s vibe: “If you try to subjugate I’ll kick you in the head.” All of these are streaming at the links above. Weak Records’ latest live show features Bobby Vacant & the Worn with Brigitte Meier on bass on September 3 at 9 PM at Werkschau Nr. 6, Bahnstrasse 22 in Bern, Switzerland, where Weak Records’ newly launched, cynically amusing oldschool punk rock style fanzine Savage Laundry will also be available.

August 31, 2010 Posted by | Literature, Music, music, concert, poetry, review, Reviews, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Song of the Day 7/23/10

Our daily best 666 songs of alltime countdown is working its way through the top ten: six days left before we reach the greatest song ever. Friday’s song is #6:

The Dead Kennedys – A Growing Boy Needs His Lunch

Hang in there: the DKs open the song by running a whole verse without lyrics, East Bay Ray’s macabre surf guitar sounding like a guitar army. The song is on Frankenchrist, the greatest punk band’s greatest album. It’s a random series of observations that any relatively perceptive kid could have made in 1985: the idiocy of Elvis worship; how multinational corporations take their poison to the third world when the FDA bans it here (they don’t anymore); the sick and twisted world of CIA black operations. And how does the average person respond: “Turn on, tune in, drop out? Drop kick, turn in, tune out.” Bassist Klaus Flouride practically breaks his low string in disgust at the end.

July 23, 2010 Posted by | lists, Music, music, concert, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment