no. 9

American DIY/punkwave LP tracks and unreleased tracks from the letters A, B & C (Hyped to Death CD #68)


Our hero: Lester Bangs had only his own fame as a writer to blame for why he never found stardom as a performer (well, that and the cough-syrup). But of course nobody ever wanted to see him quit writing So Lester left the world with one devastating single and two criminaly-obscure LPs. The earlier sessions here come from New York, 1979, when Lester was playing with Mickey Leigh's band the Rattlers. Though cassettes got passed around, nothing hit vinyl til 1986, when Mickey put out the Birdland LP himself (and paid for partly by selling ads on the back cover -a stroke of D.I.Y. genius he'd cribbed from Caribbean soca bands). The second LP -and Lester's final session- was recorded in Austin toward the end of 1980 backed by the Delinquents, whose Brian Curley released the LP in '81. Several songs appear in both places, but they're radically different because Lester taught the bands his songs by simply singing them acapellaand let everyone figure out the arrangements themselves. So here's our favorite version of "Walls," from Austin, and "Kill Him Again," from NYC. Brian played for 3 years with Roky Erickson and then led 27 Devils Joking. Mickey's most recent projects have been Stop and Heat (and picking up the pieces after his brother Joey Ramone's death). Dionysus has reissued the Birdland material (and the Rattlers, too!), and the Delinquents tracks will be out on Brian Curley's resurrected Live Wire label later in 2003.

The Northeast: The Propeller Cassette set a standard for unintentionally crappy fidelity that even Danny & the Dressmakers might envy. Which is doubly a pity because it's the only place to find Art Yard. (Here's a somewhat cleaner version of "Something" dubbed off a reel 20+ years ago. ) When Judy Grunwald split from the Maps, Bob Valentine, Dan. Salzmann and James Clements continued on as Artyard (briefly adding T. Max of The Noise fanzine). Art Yard were flat-out amazing for a year or so, but then leader Valentine retired (and later moved to Israel), Jim did Radio Novena and Dumptruck, and Dan. joined Christmas, who appeared in early '84 on Bands that Could be God, put out by Radiobeat and Conflict, Gerard Cosloy's hyper-opinionated (and incredibly entertaining) fanzine. 'God marked the first vinyl appearance of Moving Targets, Sorry, Salem 66 [Judy from the Maps] and Busted Statues. J Mascis' Deep Wound is there, too. Christmas appeared twice again in '84 on the first two Throbbing Lobster comps, and "Boys Town Work Song" from Let's Breed gave the world its first taste of the sessions that would become their incomparable In Excelsior Dayglo LP on Big Time. After the overlooked Vortex LP, Michael and Liz went on to Combustible Edison.

Jeri Cain Rossi came east from Denver with her snarling "I Left My Heart" 45, and revved it up even louder with her new band. And though Black Cat Bone never put a record out, they got plenty of attention for their stage shows and demo-tapes in mid-80s Boston. "Cut Off Man" follows up on the double edge of the James Brown song "It's a Man's Man's World" from Jeri's 45. And yes, the ending is deliberately cut off. Jeri's now a successful writer and film-maker in New Orleans: her newest novel is (not coincidentally) entitled Red Wine Moan...

One day in '83 I spied fellow collector Morry [he's now Maureen] McCarthy with his usual box of '68-72 psychedelic treasures at a record-fair in Hartford, and sitting beside him was a younger collector named Wayne Rogers. Neatly stacked on the table beside them were a dozen copies of the most crudely put-together LP since Great White Wonder, with these magical numbers written on the top copy: "#113/130." Too bad it was new, but Wayne had listened to the classics with care and his Crystallized Movements' Mind Disaster was an instant classic. I greedily bought everything Wayne had left, but I sorta made up for it by talking Psycho Records in the UK into reissuing it in a more respectable edition of 1000 (with artwork by me, though I stole the concept from the unbelievably handsome Loving Sandwich LP). "Sandy"s the token garage-popsong. Almost 50 of Wayne's other projects are available from twistedvillage.com. Agitpop debuted in 1985 on the Community 3 label (with "Eskimo Kiss"), before riding the alternative-radio rock trend to three more LPs and then a name-chance to Cellophane. John DeVries went on to Grand Mal, Rick Crescini's now in Pimp Fizz, and Mark LaFalce's new band is August Spies [pronounced speese for some reason]. Plans are afoot for The Lost Antipop Tapes.

D.C. After the Stroke Band (Valdosta, GA) Don Fleming hit the bright lights of Tidewater, Virginia and teamed up with Elaine Barnes and Steven Soles, who soon formed D.C.'s amazing Velvet Monkeys (who're everywhere on Homework). But first they were Citizen 23, who contributed "Janie" and "American Neutron" to the No Room to Dance compilation from Tidewater's Taj Mahal club. More on the saga is at Don's Instant Mayhem website. Chalk Circle were the first all-girl punk band in D.C., playing thoughtful punkcore during the heyday of hardcore, but unfortunately these two songs on the Mixed Nuts compilation and a track on a WGNS cassette were all they ever released. Bassist Chris Niblack went on to No Trend and guitar/vox Sharon Cheslow later co-authored and contributed photos to Banned in D.C.[1988], and played with Kathleen Hanna in Suture 1991-92 (the band that became Bikini Kill). Sharon now performs with Coterie Exchange and runs Decomposition (label and distribution). Scott Wingo had been in D.C. '79 punks Trenchmouth, but found a far prettier sound with fellow guitarist Jay Moglia in the Crippled Pilgrims. "A Side He'll Never Know" is but one of the gnarl-pop classics on Head Down Hand Out, the 'Pilgrims first of two LPs on Fountain of Youth. Scott & Jay did the Rambling Shadows next (and lots more we're still itching to hear). Asbestos Rockpyle did an EP and three cassettes but the "Police State" 45 remains their magnum opus. Singer/lead guitarist /lyricist/producer Paul R.W. Clark released cassettes on his own and contributed songs to several Mystic compilations. Anatol Sucher, who wrote the music, here, moved to Santa Cruz, where he ran a spin-off cassette label called Warped West, and later recorded solo and with Fizztabs, Twelve Tablets and Noisemoustache in S.F. (The photographer for the live shot of Paul was Dave Waldman.)We've already raved about the packaging for Craig Bevan & the Tourists' LP (all the songs printed on one label, generic cover), but it's also a phenomenally varied release, as you'll hear from "Let's Glow" and "Friends." They ventured East from Wilkes-Barre, PA to play D.C. on a fairly regular basis -and saw the Sex Pistols in Virginia. Bob Gryziec [the Buoys] plays bass with Zydecoal (on Pelican), and Craig's in NYC running LF Records and producing everything from hip-hop to music for Inspector Gadget.

The West: The Colorplates honked and raved through the Seattle scene from 1980 to 83 or so, led by Harvey Tawney and Tom Dyer, later of Green Monkey Records. They're the same band as the Adults who lead off Homework #10. Nothing ever came out on vinyl, but we're hoping for a reissue (including some brilliant Ornette-icized cover-versions): see greenmonkey.com. Bassist Bob Blackburn went on to Liquid Generation (Green Monkey 009). Alternate Learning [ALRN] were Scott Miller's second band (after the never-released Lobster Quadrille) out of the amazing Davis/Sacramento scene [True West, Dream Syndicate, Twinkeyzz+++]. They did a frantic punkwave 7" (that still holds the world's record for the number of inserts -a sort of newwave jigsaw puzzle), but ALRN truly hit their stride on this LP, where you'll recognize the first stirrings of the sound made famous by Game Theory. Since GT's demise, Scott's helmed the Loud Family (www.loudfamily.com, natch). The San Francisco postpunk sounds of B Team's "Buy American" EP got bought by hardly anyone, since Faulty Products went out of business before it even hit the stores. Singer Todd Stadtman's now in lush-pop scenesters Zickzack [also ex-Blitz: Teenline #7] and Greg Baker played with Tools and Yo (making him the only artist with more H2D appearances [10] than Don Fleming[8?]). It took three years for San Francisco's Bob to follow up their timeless "Thomas Edison" (Homework #7: 1980), and their "Backward" LP was, well, baffling. "Bye Bye" mixes [the] Bob's trademark vibraphone lead with backwards guitar, Novak's lush electrowave production values, and a heady dose of early-70s hard-rawk. But who forgot the cowbell?

Throughout their amazing career, the Big Boys combined passionate (and intelligent) political and artistic attitudes with a passion for skateboarding We here at H2D don't know squat about the art-history of the skateboard scene, but we sure hope the 'Boys are getting proper credit for their always-wild and handsome graphics. "T.V." comes from their rare Where's My Towel EP, but everything's reissued on Touch & Go nowadays. "Participate! Your history is happening right now" -Tim Kerr. Here's a couple of Big Boys fan-sites: (one) (the other).

The Midwest: Chicago's Bonemen of Barumba were the joint folly of Tom Jonusaitis and Mark Panick who met through the Chicago Super-8 artfilm crowd. The Bonemen of Barumba concept came to them on a fieldtrip to New Orleans and when they got back home their newly-invented "krewe" found some community grant money and built a wildly-decorated Bonemen "junglemobile" float out of a 1964 Mercury station-wagon for the Villa Park Fourth of July parade. The music-scene wasn't quite sure what to make of the Bonemen's 10" EP, but they gave as good as they got: "Everybody had their own superiority complex" says Tom. But after a B/o/B LP for Enigma flopped, the Bonemen hung up their breechclouts... B.P.A. [Byproducts of America] debuted on the legendarily scarce Hospital Records double-EP in 1981, and followed it with this 12" EP, featuring the wonderfully gnarled "Bus." (A too-rare exploration of Ohioan musical territories first opened up by Pere Ubu.) B.P.A.'s Tim Schwallie and Todd Witt later collaborated in the Wolverton Brothers. Current projects with Hospital Records' Uncle Dave Lewis t/b/a...

Amoebas in Chaos led off Gulcher's Red Snerts, but like the Gizmos, Social Climbers, Jetsons/Unattached, Keepers, Malcolm Tent, etc., etc. they ditched the Hoosier State and moved East. Their LP's on the Hardly Music label [Dow Jones, Last 4 Digits, Observers, Mr. Tent.] Rick Wilkerson's now with Tombstone Valentine (on Aether/Or), Rich Lamphear did some time with the Accidents and Way Out West, and he and Lynn Shipley have recorded a CD slated for '03 release Jim Jacobi wrote this about "Ghosts" and the Crap Detectors' Diseases on Display LP: "Some guy (who will remain nameless and is deceased) asked me to write a song about his feelings about his breakup with a girl friend and he'd pay for the LP" Which funding-scheme would make the Crap Detectors' third LP another worthy candidate for the D.I.Y. Hall of Fame. A fine slice of audio sociopathy, anyway. Jim's two newest releases are a 23-year Jim Jacobi retrospective called "Crap Circles" and a Joe Jakimbi CD titled "I'm Datin' Satan." The Cubes did one of the obscurer 45s on Detroit's Tremor label, but after their first vocalist left, Tom Rossiter joined for an even more obscure split LP with the Amerikats and several compilation tracks: "Only Trying To Help" comes from Tremor's Mandatory Music LP. Almost everything was recorded for free (more D.I.Y. bona fides) by engineers-in-training at a recording school in Chillicothe. Tom and Cubes founder Al Sanchez next got signed to Elektra as synth-poppers Circuit 2.


Home * back to liner-note index

If you're just seeing one big screen now -without a directory on the left- click HERE for our easy-to-browse frames version.