SST: Blasting Concept 1983

Meanwhile, down on the ocean beach at SST premises…

hermosab

 


1982

Bye bye Ladbroke Grove & Rough Trade !!

In 1982 SST continued to broaden their Hermosa / Redondo Beach label beyond its original inner core circle (Black Flag – Minutemen – Saccharine Trust) sifting peculiar talent among punk-rockers, surfers and freaks in larger LA area and even outside California. Stains, Overkill and Meat Puppets (via Thermidor label) had already been recruited the year before in ’81. Dual guitar Black Flag (on obligatory hiatus due to lawsuit) recorded phenomenal Demo ’82 which would be the central event of the year. Würm regrouped because Dukowski wasn’t allowed to play bass under Black Flag anymore. About that time Saint Vitus, the Subhumans, Dicks and Hüsker Dü (via New Alliance label) joined the SST ranks. According to signor Carducci, Bad Brains had an open offer too.

So, let’s bring Blasting Concept back in slightly different way, following a linear timeline more precisely, beginning with late ’82 / early ’83 recording activities with legendary SST house engineer and producer Spot.


1983

Various Artists: Blasting Concept ’83 Revisited

(1) Saint Vitus – The Psychopath (from “Saint Vitus” LP 1984) A

saint vitus

 

Saint Vitus – mammoth of a band (pulled out from La Brea tar pits!) –  recorded seminal self-titled album in late ’82 with Spot. The tapes were sitting on SST shelves until early ’84 waiting for the cash inflow. The album sounds immense in its primordial slowness.  Saint Vitus’ inclusion was indeed a tectonic move/ment for SST camp, not immediately recognized outside LA. It took many sloth years before humble Saint Vitus started to get reappraisal, mainly through fellow bands interested in heavy rock. Nowadays they are metal kings – highly appreciated grandfathers of (millennial) Doom or so called Stoner Rock.

(2) the Dicks – Pigs Run Wild (from “Kill from the Heart” LP 1983) B+

dicks

 

Heavy Texan punks Dicks didn’t shy away from blues-rock and soul while playing punk rock. Early songs from their first single and live split w / Big Boys are indeed classics but this debut LP brought something else to the table beside fearlessness. “Kill From the Heart” is (flawed) masterpiece that illustrates diversity of American punk-rock bands often superficially categorized same as juvenile and formulaic hard-core boybands.  Although I appreciate communist slant and passionate rage of young singer Gary Floyd, sometimes I’d rather hear about “pigs” (cops), “nazis” or “klan” in a more focused way. Also, I don’t mind “Dicks Can’t Swim” funk jam but it does sound hamfisted a little. “Kill From the Heart” was recorded probably in late ’82. Political and social activist Gary Floyd would soon leave for San Francisco… the rest of the band decided to return to Austin after brief Frisco scene try-out. Dicks (mk I) split up.

Indicative cover version: Purple Haze by Jimi Hendrix Experience.

(3) Husker Du – Deadly Skies (from “Metal Circus” mini-LP 1983) A

huskerdu

 

“Metal Circus” was finished very early in ’83. Typical hard-core songs from yesteryear were dropped from the repertoire and the world of rock music got an almost perfect mini-LP in rushed mid-tempo, but heavy enough. Buzz bomb from Minneapolis invokes Cold War dread on “Metal Circus”, even more personal than collective this time around. American individualism, you know. Using Minutemen spiel it could be dubbed “Buzz and Howl Under the Influence of Cold“.

(4) the Subhumans – America Commits Suicide (from “No Wishes, No Prayers” LP 1983) B

subhumans

 

The Subhumans, politically active band  from Canada, drove south from Vancouver bringing along spirited and moderately melodic take on old school punk-rock. It was not that dissimilar to the sound of their fellow citizens D.O.A., maybe a bit lighter.  Their second full length album “No Wishes, No Prayers” was recorded in late ’82 or early ’83 with partially changed line-up capturing original group’s last gasps. There was only one “No Wishes, No Prayers” pressing because the Subhumans had already split up before SST managed to put it out.

Indicative cover version: Screwed Up by Menace.

(5) Minutemen – Little Man with the Gun in His Hand (from “Buzz or Howl…” EP 1983) A

minutemen

 

“Buzz or Howl…” was recorded in two sessions: 01/83 and 05/83. Beloved caffeinated Californian leftist punks of the first order were enamored with politically charged UK art punk. More so than any other band related to SST. On the other hand, Minutemen were not ashamed of US arena rock that dominated their formative years too. Hard-rock moves to come (past one-off novelty trick “Project Mersh” EP) didn’t suit them. Their final album “3-Way Tie For Last” is actually an average 12″ EP stretched to a stodgy hodge-podge LP.

(6) Meat Puppets – We’re Here (from “Meat Puppets II” LP 1984) A

meatpuppets

It took only year and a half from art/redneck hard-core punk cacophony of “Meat Puppets” (ruined by drunken/affected vocals) to this evergreen masterpiece. “Meat Puppets II” was recorded in (eternal) spring of 1983. Cock your ears and hold the breath! They are here.

 

(7) Saccharine Trust – Our Discovery (from “Surviving You, Always” LP 1984) A

saccharinetrust

 

“Surviving You, Always” is Saccharine Trust’s first LP, recorded in October ’83. Saccharine Trust didn’t care for UK stuff (music) one bit, it seems to me. These insular jazz cats were influenced by James Blood Ulmer, Beat poetry & Old Testament in equal measure. Saccharine Trust never made it, God knows why. Were they ignored (by American college radio and common punk rock fans of the day) due to “non-communicative” material lacking obvious POP hooks. Or were they just lazing around in drunken stupor too much? A hidden SST jewel. Lovely black sheep.

Indicating cover version: Peace Frog by the Doors.

(8) Husker Du – Somewhere (from “Zen Arcade” dbl LP 1984) B+

huskerduzen

 

Somewhere over the rainbow? No such place on the horizon. Zen Arcade Tour de Force is still exciting conceptual double album done as a tribute to the Who (who are real rock archetypes for fucked-up childhood / upbringing). Hüsker Dü recorded “Zen Arcade” very quickly in October ’83 as well, desperately trying to reach see-through zen state of mind with high intake of amphetamines. I totally flipped out during crossover punk-rock / speed-metal side-B while revisiting whole album for the purpose of this blog post. Mind bending!

Indicative cover version (a howling scorcher): Eight Miles High by the Byrds.

 

(9) Würm – 98 DA (from “Feast” LP 1985) C

wurm

 

Würm tapes were recorded sometime during 1983 with Ethan James and then they were bunkered. Sound of “Feast” gives off great live feel from roomy acoustics of old Radio Tokyo studio. The evil content might be a required taste. The second coming of Würm could be regarded as warming up for SWA since they broke up right after completion of this mongrel album.  Würm was fronted by theatrical singer (Simon Smallwood) looming above band’s uncertain future like bad omen. The pattern continued later in SWA (Merrill Ward). Simon’s approach had more in common with lysergic madness though. “Feast” LP (1985) offers grotesque psychedelic hard-rock worth hearing in its entirety at least few times. Perhaps Dukowski had to vent his pent-up anger somehow.

 

(10) Black Flag – Nothing Left Inside (from “My War” LP 1984) B+

blackflag

 

Recorded in December ’83 under (outstanding guitarist & SST boss) Greg Ginn’s tight reins. “My War” is exceptionally important and influential work-out recorded during Black Flag’s transient line-up still without official replacement for original bass player Dukowski. Album grade was a bit lowered just because Dukowski’s propulsive aggro playing is somewhat missed on “My War”.

Blast your mind with half an hour long alternative take: Blasting Concept ’83 (ver.)

1984 can re-start right now!

Progressive punk rockers indeed. I’ll remain impressed forever.

Amen.

 

Don’t Look Back: Rijeka (SR Croatia)

Vol II: RI-Rock or Rock & Pop Music in Rijeka in the 1980s

Rijeka is the largest port city in the bay of Kvarner in the Northern Adriatic. It is (was) famous for its shipyards and quite tall soc-realist skyscrapers built on steep rocks looming above the narrow strip of land where the city center has been squeezed. Rijeka has nothing in common with capital city of Zagreb bar couple of edifices left after Austrian/Hungarian rule over the land. Rijeka used to have more punk rock bands per square km than any place in Croatia, closely following Ljubljana in whole ex-YU. The prevailing spirit of this city was closer to confrontational brand of punk rock played by teenagers crazy enough to raise hell and challenge (actually just tease) questionable communist morality and ethics along the way. Due to geographical position they gravitated more towards leading ahead Ljubljana (Slovenia) than to Zagreb. In addition, Rijeka had a very important focal point in ‘svengali’ figure Goran Lisica Fox, at the time just few years older than an average teenage punk. He was helpful in steering the collective energy towards some artistic goal (in post-punk sense) or eventual record label deal. Later on he founded Dallas Records, a small independent label of sorts.

As the story goes, the first punk band in Rijeka, Croatia (and perhaps Yugoslavia; depending on point of view) was Paraf, a brainchild of teenager Valter Kocijančić. After having read news about thing called ‘punk’ in imported music papers (NME) he decided to form the very first YU punk band. The whole 1977 was spent mostly in the garage and the first official appearance of Paraf happened early in 1978. Their late debut LP “A dan je tako lijepo počeo…” (1980) was recorded with borrowed instruments at the time when band was going through the changes. The guitar tracks were mixed too low which brought extra disappointment.  Anyhow, punk rock mission accomplished, mischievous  front-man left to finish his studies and become teacher. The band transformed into Paraf II (~ Siouxsie and the Banshees) with significant line-up change & persevered as genuine post-punk band during the first half of the 1980s.

paraf

Unlike situation in Zagreb with very weak punk response, there were more late 70s punk bands of note in Paraf’s tow (Zadnji, Termiti, Protest, Mrtvi Kanal, KAOS etc.) in Rijeka.

Termiti (1978 – 1982) were only band from the first bunch of city punks that had enough recorded material for a long play record in the beginning of 1980s. Their sound was from the start enriched by little electric organ with 60’s overtones and the songwriting became more complex at the end. Stage antics aside, punk concerts (performances) by Termiti were pretty wild.

Istočni izlaz (1979 – 81) were high-school punk-rockers with clean-looking mod aspirations. Think of the Jam.

Actually Rijeka had all sorts of bands to offer. Hard-core punk, neither of UK ’82 nor US ’81 variety, didn’t catch on in the 1980s. After the initial punk-rock outbursts from almost every part of the city, Rijeka got veiled in dark-wave gloom. Art decade.

izleti

The next record “Izleti” (1981) by Paraf II (1981 – 87) is an exceptional album for the time and place although somewhat patched with silly/playful filler/arrangements. Singer Vim Cola was still trying to find her voice as a young woman in punk. One of their better songs ever called (Državni) Praznik and recorded during LP studio sessions, didn’t appear on the album in the end. Censored? Follow-up album “Zastave” (1984), Paraf’s final release, is indeed Croatian (and ex-YU) dark-wave masterpiece and a definitive (centerpiece) album from Rijeka – a tattered flag of bygone revolutions attached to some rusty flagpole in the remotest city corner, waving in a heavily scented spring breeze to attention of very few outside the inner punk rock circle. It was issued by (adventurous) Helidon record label from Slovenia. At that time a lot of young bands around the world were preoccupied with the ideas about totalitarian society par excellence and/or imminent nuclear wipe-out, wrapped up in a typically adolescent (and self-induced) Cold War paranoia. The small-scale war would happen soon enough though. This captivating album could have been one of the warning dreams.

zastave

Paraf – Zastave (1984)a definitive (postpunk) album from Rijeka

Mrtvi kanal (1979 – 1983) were second best post-punk band in town early on. They stood out of the punk crowd even with the casual first glance due to long-haired accordionist / synth player in the mature line-up. At their last stage, as late as 1983, this bizarre looking group managed to record seven energetic and provocative songs under the Stranglers or Joy Division spell. The recordings were put out on a split tape shared with their comrades Grč. “Mrtvi kanal / Grč” (1983) would be one of the first independently released cassettes on Slovenian label Galerija ŠKUC izdaja, and for sure the first one for a band from Croatia.

Grč I (1982 – 87) evolved in a rabid beast of a band gradually. Early period captured on the previously mentioned cassette presented them as politically charged followers of Pere Ubu, sort of similar to SexA in sound but less arty and more sinister. Over the period of few years they grew heavy body and became scary axe swinging Goths who favoured razor sharp Killing Joke sound (when KJ themselves were going through troubled synth-pop phase!). In a way they shared (confrontational) interests and subject matter with Trobecove krušne peći (Zagreb) too. Recent vinyl reissue of “Sloboda narodu” (1987/2016) is highly recommended. Grč were type of Goths leaving unsavory odor of sweat and stench of carcass after them, not patchouli scent. They were also into pretentious rock performances so common in Rijeka. Truly remarkable sound thou.

grc

KAOS (1979 – 1984) also brought forth two distinct appearing forms: early punk-rock lasting up to ’81 and then synth-punk (1982 – 84). Unwanted loss of drummer worked well for them eventually.  The best songs by KAOS are based on rhythm-machine matrix. Dorotea (another exceptional female punk vocalist) reminded of Nina Hagen a bit because of her high-pitched warble. KAOS’s later phase (issued on CD recently) is highly recommended.

Ogledala (ex Istočni izlaz, Kum) (1982 – 87) were brokenhearted young men with healthy power pop instincts and origins in mod-punk band Istočni izlaz. Their direct lyrical expression matched with grandiose and spacey arrangements (Echo & the Bunnymen / U2 / Simple Minds) that included synth, was very close to being over the top. They wore their hearts on their sleeves (instead of zips, chains and badges). Material recorded in 1984 in Ljubljana for potential album that never materialized (unearthed in 2008 for a CD issue) shows fine ideas gone in unpleasant direction sound-wise in the studio (bloody big drum sound!). If they had stayed closer to their live sound it would sound much better today, less pompous at least. It seems that Ogledala often got carried away while daydreaming. Dreams are free, motherfuckers! Excellent drummer, by the way.

Quiet (and quite depressive) new-wave rock band Konjak (1981 – 85) existed on the margins of the city scene until the lead guitarist/singer joined Paraf II and broke up the band for good.  They left interesting demo tracks behind (mainly recorded in 1982). Konjak preferred dry (guitar) sound and bare bones rock arrangements. Might have been influenced by Azra a little bit.

Umjetnici ulice (1982 – 83) were balancing between punk rock and new wave while their passionate singer tried to steal the show.  He continued his now decades long artistic career with dark-wave group Let 2 (1984 – 86). Let 2 lasted few years as rock spinoff of electronic experimental performance group Strukturne ptice (1982 – 87). In the end they managed to overshadow Strukturne ptice with activity and became a warming up platform for Let 3.

Idejni nemiri (1982 – 88) transformed from anything goes punk-rock to an average pop-rock band after collective hiatus (traumatic experience in JNA?).

Fit (1982 – 91) also started early in the decade and went through few developmental phases: from punk-rock beginnings over mid-1980s dark alt rock (usually connected with the likes of Echo & the Bunnymen or U2) to EKV (Belgrade) sisterhood. It resulted with PGP RTB record contract and debut album (Goth-rock; Cult, Mission) produced by EKV boss Milan Mladenović.

Other groups in Rijeka that shared EKV art-rock visions to some extent were Grad and Laufer.

Demo part of the scene in the mid-1980s was captured on independently released VA record “Rijeka – Paris – Texas” (1987) showing the sugarcoated pop melody on the rise. These pop bands probably belonged to Paris quarters of Rijeka. Grč, Let 2 and Let 3 were definitely from Texas side of town. Some of them participants eventually managed to release debut LP and the best one, without any doubt, was by Let 3.

Let 3 (1987 – ) might stand for the third attempt for successful flight. They really did it their way despite having their flight feathers dirty with resin and blackened with tar. As original Grč guitarist joined the group they succeeded the title of Croatian Killing Joke with the difference that Let 3 really ended up mainly as surrealist jokers. The dark and psychedelic phase of Let 3 was short lived compared to circus rock career that followed. They have been into cross-dressing, surrealist exhibitionism & most importantly into Rock Theater as a way of life since then. “Two Dogs Fuckin’” (1989) is a brilliant record thou – as shameless and disturbing as two shabby dogs mating in the middle of Korzo promenade.

let3

Power-pop group with older and experienced musicians with Jugoton record contract and better connections in Zagreb were Xenia (1981 – 85). The first single & “Kad nedjelja prođe” LP (1983) are well crafted new wave influenced pop rock records.

Synth pop duo Denis & Denis (1982 – 1986) gained popularity throughout the whole ex YU thanks to strong voice and sensual sighs of female singer. Their early hits like Program tvog kompjutera or Soba 23 are on par with commercial UK synth pop. Minimal synth demos recorded in 1982-83 are a bit closer to post-punk spirit though.

Pioneering all girl pop-rock band Cacadou (Look) (1983 – 91) might have had hearts in the right place in the beginning but producers slicked their sound on debut LP too much. Too bad.

Industrial rock band Transmisia (1987 – 9?) (Red Lorry Yellow Lorry, Killing Joke, Big Black) and post HC noise rockers Regoč appeared on the scene at the end of decade but their debut records would see the light of day in another decade and other countries (Italia, USA, Slovenia) altogether.

Don’t Look Back vol. II: Rijeka (1-2-ex-YU!!)

Paraf – Reforma školstva  (’78) – radio session

Istočni izlaz ( w / V. Kocijančić) – Plava koverta (’79) – radio session

Paraf – Visoki propisi  (’80)

Termiti – Mama, s razlogom se brineš (’80)


Paraf II – Državni praznik (’81)

Termiti – Kišni razdraganci (’81)

KAOS – Samo prvom klasom (’82)

Konjak – Pretežno vedro (’82) – demo

Grč – Ja imam pasoš (’83)

Mrtvi kanal – U ludnicu (’83)

KAOS – Roboti (’83)

Denis & Denis – 28 minuta do 5 (’83) – demo version

Xenia – Vjetar u kosi (’83)

Cacadou (Look) – Sama (’84) – demo version

Ogledala – Kako ti je sada (’84) – live in Split

Paraf II – Nikad nikad nikad (’84)

Let 2 – Ne trebam te (’84)

Grč – Crne rukavice (’87)

Transmisia – Šume umiru (’87)

Strukturne ptice – Zbog zvuka i pobuđivanja (’87)

Grad – Grad (’87) demo

FIT – Rijeka (’88)

Let 3 – Sam u vodi (’89)

APR ’17: Gnod – Just Say No to the Psycho Right-Wing Capitalist Fascist Industrial Death Machine

gnod 2017

Sve češće se spominju Gnod – free form rock kolektiv iz Manchestera (Salford). Ne, ne sviđa mi se baš cover art, ali je privukao pažnju. Gnod muzika se pak u potpunosti uklapa u soundtrack ove blog kolumne. Gnod – triple repetition psych noiseniks on fire. Comfort food (for thought). “Stick in the Wheel” ~ the Ex / Talking Heads kanalizirani kroz mentalne smetnje i  rhythm & (white) noise.

Ne Ne Ne,  sve što uvek volim reći jeste Ne Ne Ne!!!

(Disciplina kičme)

Sag Nein / Nein Nein Nein / Negativ Nein / Das Leben ist nicht bunt / Geballt gehen wir zugrunde / Sag Nein / Nein Nein Nein / Negativ Nein / Doppelnein / Drei mal Nein / Aber Nein / Nein Nein Nein / Sag Nein / Nein Nein Nein / Negativ Nein / Sag Nein / Negativ Nein / Asyl-Exil / Hier nicht und da nicht / Frag mich nicht ich weiss es auch nicht / Aber Nein / Nein Nein Nein / Aber Nein / Hauptsache negativ Nein / Negativ Nein / Mit einem Schrei geht es zugrunde / Mit meinem Schrei / Sag Nein / Sag negativ Nein.

(Einstürzende Neubauten)

the Renderers: A Dream of the Sea

renderers

Amidst their stellar discography, The Renderers are best known for their album A Dream Of The Sea, released in the mid-nineties by  Siltbreeze, and now issued for the first time ever on vinyl in a gatefold jacket on the band’s own label. Various forces were at work – a revered label, increased attention towards New Zealand artists – but the greatest achievements were within the band itself. Maryrose and Brian Crook reached a new level of insight and honesty with their lyrics, forming a wave of insight and metaphor that is as forceful today as when first written. Songs draw from ghostly sea tales and personal demons, where the specters as much rise from the waters as emerge from within oneself. The forceful songs are propelled by tornados of guitar play, always rumbling and screeching underneath the singing. There’s a connection to be heard between The Renderers and Dead Moon, both bands dedicated wholly to the music they create, a fact clear in every note they play. When Buzzfeed gets around to making a list for it, A Dream Of The Sea will inevitably be listed amongst the greatest New Zealand rock albums of all time.