Saturday, December 11, 2010

Bands I got into by writing for the I-94 Bar

1) Sonic's Rendezvous Band. They were only a rumor when I first read about 'em in Creem ca. '76: a Detroit "supergroup" made up of refugees from the MC5, Stooges, Rationals, and Up. Guys like Geoff Ginsberg and "ig" shared their tape stashes with me, and eventually I wound up writing a history of the band for the Bar that wound up in Easy Action's SRB box set. To my ears, maybe the fullest flowering of Dee-troit ramalama.

2) Dictators. I thought they were a joke when I saw them open for Jeff Beck in Albany in '76, but I found out better when I saw 'em twice at Clearview in the early '00s. Definitely the best live band on the boards at that time, and they also made a great comeback album, D.F.F.D.

3) Nomads. The best live band I've ever seen after the Clash and the Dictators. Now approaching 30 years as a band, these Swedes swallowed all of rock 'n' roll whole (well, only the coolest parts -- mainly rockabilly, garage, and punk, but with a heavy edge) and spit out something that was theirs alone.

4) Celibate Rifles. Sure, sportscaster-by-day Damien Lovelock has the same flat, nasal, EveryAussie's voice as the singers from Men At Work, Midnight Oil, and the Hoodoo Gurus, but he pens some above-average socially conscious punk lyrics, and has the hellacious guitar tandem of Kent Steedman and Dave Morris, plus whoever's in the rhythm section at the moment. The most consistently great Orstralian band.

5) New Christs. Rob Younger's post-Radio Birdman bests RB on melody and emotional intensity. Distemper from '89 is their magnum opus, but you can't beat their early singles, collected on Lance Rock's Born Out of Time, either.

6) Died Pretty. In a just world, these guys would be as big as U2 and REM, but supposedly when they got their big shot at the States in the early '80s, the CBS flack responsible for their publicity was irked by frontguy Ron Peno's bisexuality and dropped the ball. Doughboy Hollow, their best moment, remains an under-appreciated classic.

7) Turbonegro. The first time I saw the mighty Me-Thinks, they impressed me by opening with three songs from Apocalypse Dudes, the best rock album I'd heard in 20 years. Imagine a Norwegian hybrid of Alice Cooper and the Village People, with great (if very transparently derivative) songwriting, a ten year old boy's obsession with profanity and scatology, and real dementia. Happy Tom, the ideas guy, works as a management consultant in Oslo, which in a perverse way makes sense.

8) Yayhoos. What? A band with four lead singer/songwriters? How are you going to market that? Dan Baird (ex-Georgia Satellites, whose voice is a litmus test for how prejudiced you are against rednecks), Terry Anderson (pride of Bunn, NC), Eric "Roscoe" Ambel (Steve Earle sideman, ex-Joan Jett's Blackhearts and Scott Kempner's Del-Lords, bar owner and rootsy-rock producer extraordinaire) and Keith Christopher (who made friends with every single person at Poor David's the night I saw 'em there) remain (when together) the best American band this side of Los Lobos, and a lot funnier to boot.

9) Saints. These despoilers exploded out of backwater Brisbane at the same time as Radio Birdman was doing the same thing in inner city Sydney, but they arguably accomplished more with less. The original Saints kicked up as much racket with just three pieces as Birdman did with a lot more firepower (their BOC-influenced lineup including two guitars _and_ keys), and they released the very first punk single in the UK, beating the Damned and the Sex Pistols to the punch. They went on to release three albums before imploding, but frontguy Chris Bailey, who looked like he could honestly give a shit about _anything_, kept the franchise going for 30 years until 3/4 of the 'riginals reunited at a festival in 2007.

10) Ed Kuepper. The man behind the guitar in the 'riginal Saints, ol' Ed's kind of the Aussie Neil Young: he keeps releasing albums with the same songs on 'em, but they're really _great_ songs. Interestingly, neither he nor Bailey has taken shit from anybody over the years for "not being punk anymore." I rue the day I sold my copy of I Was A Mailorder Bridegroom.

3 Comments:

Blogger Fast Film said...

Whom would you say is the equivalent of each working within the current music milieu? (I can't tell if Turbonegro is extinct or not and it's probably not clear to them either.)

5:43 PM  
Blogger The Stash Dauber said...

Wowzers. That's a tough question, one I'm not really qualified to answer, because I've become so Fort Worth-centric in my frame of reference. I will say that the Nomads, Rifles, NCs, Yayhoos, Saints, and Ed are all still active to one degree or other, and when they are, no one is better at what they do than themselves. I'd also highly recommend Yayhoos Terry Anderson and Eric Ambel's solo work to anyone who's unfamiliar. There are three D/FW bands I'd place in the same general category as SRB, the Dics, and Turbo: E.T.A., the Dangits, and the Black Dotz. I should also have mentioned Gluecifer, who are also inactive as far as I know.

6:09 PM  
Blogger The Stash Dauber said...

The other thing, Heather, is that my listening habits have changed a lot since then. From 2002-2004, I got very local-centric for economic reasons because I was trying to make a living writing about local music -- a fool's errand. But I was also tired of listening to the same record over and over. When I was at SXSW, everytime somebody handed me a promo CD that they promised sounded "just like the MC5," I'd think, "Oh no, not again!" These days I listen to free jazz, dub reggae, singer-songwriters, Boris, the Flaming Lips, Krautrock, whatevah. Can't eat the same food every day.

6:24 PM  

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