Category Archives: Vinyl records

OST – Velvet Goldmine (Music From the Original Motion Picture)

Album: Velvet Goldmine (Music From the Original Motion Picture)

Artist: OST

Label: Universal Music Special Markets/Island/MVDaudio

Release Date: April 05, 2019


Though poorly received when it came out in 1998, director Todd Haynes’ glam rock fantasy Velvet Goldmine has, over time, become a beloved cult classic. Whatever one thinks of the film’s reimagining of the relationship between David Bowie and Iggy Pop, though, the soundtrack is where it’s at. A mix of period cuts and glam rock covers performed by a pair of all-star bands made up of nineties alt.rock luminaries, the songlist is damn near impeccable, even with the absence of any Bowie cuts.

While the original compact disc version has been the perfect companion on many a road trip, MVD’s first-time vinyl reissue couldn’t be any more appropriate. Given the film’s time period and its musical metiere, letting the songs spin on wax (especially when as garishly colored as this half-blue/half-orange version) just fits. Needle in groove lets Teenage Fanclub & Elastica’s Donna Mathews’ version of the New York Dolls’ “Personality Crisis,” the Stooges’ “T.V. Eye” by the Wylde Rattz (AKA co-star Ewan McGregor fronting Ron Asheton, Thurston Moore, Don Fleming and others), and Placebo’s take on T. Rex’s “20th Century Boy” leap out of the speakers, teeth bared and power chords aflame. The less raging tracks fare just as well, especially the majestic interpretation of Steve Harley’s “Tumbling Down” from star Jonathan Rhys Meyers and the plethora of Roxy Music tunes (“2HB,” “Ladytron,” “Bitter’s End,” “Bitter-Sweet”) performed by the Venus in Furs, AKA Thom Yorke, Jonny Greenwood, Bernard Butler, Andy MacKay, and producer Paul Kimble. (For some reason Meyers’ take on Harley’s bizarre but affecting “Sebastian” didn’t make the cut on album.)

Speaking of Kimble, Grant Lee Buffalo, the band for whom Kimble played bass at the time, appears with an original: the pitch-perfect “The Whole Shebang,” which manages to sound period and just like its parent’s work at the same time. Ditto the two originals contributed by Shudder to Think, who ease back on their usual avant-garde weirdness to explore the diva-esque glam rock heart of their music with “Hot One” and “Ballad of Maxwell Demon.” Some actual vintage tunes appear as well: the real Roxy Music’s classic “Virginia Plain,” Lou Reed’s gorgeous “Satellite of Love,” T. Rex’s quirky “Diamond Meadows,” Brian Eno’s romping “Needle in the Camel’s Eye” (which runs over the opening credits in the movie) and, closing the LP, Harley’s breezy “Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me)” – quite possibly a lot of American glam fans’ introduction to this quirky British artist.

As both a sampler and a celebration of the seventies glam rock era, the Velvet Goldmine soundtrack is a gem. That it’s now out in the format that seems most natural to its era makes it gleam all the brighter.

DOWNLOAD: “Hot One,” “The Whole Shebang,” “Tumbling Down”


MY FAVORITE YEAR: Coltrane ’58: The Prestige Recordings

John Coltrane March 23, 1959 Rudy van Gelder Studio Hackensack NJ

Craft Recordings compiles a comprehensive set, Coltrane ‘58: The Prestige Recordings, of all John Coltrane recordings from a pivotal year. The 5CD box drops March 29, along with digital, while the 8LP version will be April 26. (Above photo: Esmond Edwards)


1958 was a landmark year for saxophonist John Coltrane, and by extension, for jazz as a whole as well. Coltrane had made his first recordings (in Hawaii with fellow Navy servicemen) some 12 years earlier and played as a sideman with Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk in the middle 1950s, not recording under his own name until his 1957 debut, Coltrane, recorded for Bob Weinstock’s independent label, Prestige. While Coltrane is a superb album, it only hints at what was in store for the groundbreaking musician.

In 1958, Coltrane traveled seven times to Van Gelder Studios, working with engineer Rudy Van Gelder. Showing up at the Hackensack, New Jersey studio on average of once a month between January and May, and once more in both July and December (the latter on the day after Christmas), Coltrane recorded 37 songs. Remarkably by today’s standards, each session took place in a single day, and no songs were played on more than one session.

Newly clean after a serious bout with heroin addiction, John Coltrane was man on fire throughout ‘58. And at the risk of gross oversimplification, the experience of listening to those sessions in chronological order reveals the almost real-time flowering of the saxophonist from merely a very good musician to a visionary one.

The 1958 sessions yielded material that would see release on various albums, but only a handful were released during the period in which Coltrane was signed to Prestige. The five tracks recorded on February 7 yielded Soultrane, originally released the year of its recording. The box set’s remaining 32 sides would be scattered across other albums: The March 7 sessions yielded Kenny Burrell & John Coltrane (released 1963). Other tracks appeared on Lush Life and Settin’ the Pace (both 1961), 1962’s Standard Coltrane (1962), Stardust (1963) The Believer and Black Pearls (1964), Bahia from 1965 and The Last Trane (1966).

The tracks cut in gloriously pristine high fidelity by Van Gelder variously featured some of the era’s best sidemen, many of whom went on to greater fame themselves: Kenny Burrell on guitar, trumpeters Donald Byrd and Freddie Hubbard, Paul Chambers on upright bass, drummers Jimmy Cobb, Louis Hayes and Art Taylor, Tommy Flanagan and Red Garland on piano and trumpeter/flugelhorn player Wilbur Harden.

Coltrane’s earliest session from this banner year began with the saxophonist playing in a relatively conventional (yet transcendent) style; as the year progressed, Coltrane seemed to grow more ambitious. His famous “sheets of sound” (characterized as such by critic Ira Gitler) showed up early but became a central part of his approach as the year wore on.

The 8LP set opens with “Lush Life,” a cut that would be released as the a-side of a 1960 single. Six other tracks appeared as a- or B-sides on other Prestige singles (“I Want to Talk About You” and “By the Numbers” with Red Garland each saw release on 45s’ split across both sides). By the time of cutting the Sammy Cahn/Jule Styne chestnut “Time After Time” in December 1958, Coltrane had assimilated his adventurousness into a wholly accessible style. His approach seems almost effortless, true to the original melody yet unencumbered, unrestrained by it.

Hardcore Coltrane enthusiasts – and no doubt many others – will already own all of these tracks via their appearance on the aforementioned LPs and/or CD reissues. But that fact in no way lessens the impact or essential nature of the new Coltrane ‘58. Housed in a heavy cloth-bound binder, the set is spread across eight 180-gram vinyl LPs, each placed inside a black paper sleeve that fits into a heavier brown paper page of the 1 1/2” thick binder. The package also features a bound-in 40-page booklet that includes Grammy-winning music journalist/author Ashley Kahn’s superb essay, copious black-and-white and color photographs and reproductions of relevant memorabilia (Van Gelder’s handwritten notes, tape boxes and so forth).

The loving care that has gone into every part of this package more than justifies its cost. In fact, the music itself does that; as top-notch as it is, everything else included in Coltrane ‘58 should be regarded as bonus material.

TOM PETTY & THE HEARTBREAKERS – The Best of Everything

Album: The Best of Everything

Artist: Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers

Label: Universal/Geffen

Release Date: March 01, 2019


At first glance, you might ask yourself if The Best of Everything — which is subtitled “The Definitive Career Spanning Hits Collection” — was necessary. After all, there are already several other Petty anthologies including An American Treasure, which just arrived last fall and includes four discs. But An American Treasure — while comprehensive in scope — focuses mainly on deep cuts, live renditions and previously unreleased material. So being that there is little if any overlap between these two collections, the answer is a resounding “yes.” The Best of Everything serves a purpose and does it well.

Tom Petty’s death — on October 2nd, 2017 — left a gaping hole in the world of rock and roll. True, we’ve lost other plenty of other rockers, some quite recently. But there was something special about Petty. Back in the late ‘70s, when many music fans embraced either the corporate rock status quo or the more groundbreaking sounds of punk and New Wave, Petty was one of the few artists who could claim fans from both camps. And the ability to appeal to people of disparate interests and backgrounds never really left him. Petty and his Heartbreaker cohorts were unabashedly influenced by the artists who came before them (The Byrds, The Rolling Stones etc.) but they synthesized those influences into something that was fresh and perfectly in step with the times. And there was always something appealingly “normal” about Petty. He knew he was good but he lacked the arrogance of someone like Mick Jagger. He was Rock Star as Everyman and could be as critical of himself as he often was about the music business.

Likewise, The Heartbreakers were a tight and talented group of “regular guys” from Gainesville, FLA who happened to hit the big time. Mike Campbell was the perfect right hand man for Petty, an underrated lead guitarist capable of casually unleashing great solos and an adept co-writer as well. Keyboardist Benmont Tench was the son of a judge and probably the most intellectual Heartbreaker. Musically, he provided an essential component — which is no mean feat in a guitar-based band. Ron Blair’s rock star looks belied his penchant for stage fright and general shyness but he was a solid musician (check out the bass line in “American Girl”) and has the distinction of being both the first and third bassist in the band, following the sadly departed Howie Epstein. And while Stan Lynch fell out with Petty in the ’90s, there’s no question that he was an integral part of the band early on with his larger-than-life personality and drumming. In this writer’s opinion, The Heartbreakers were probably the greatest American band of the past 50 years.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers released their self-titled debut at the end of 1976. Over the next 40 years or so, they would provide the soundtrack to millions of American lives. Some albums may have sold better than others, some may have even been better than others, but Petty never made a bad record — which is more than most artists who have been around for four decades can say. Even the albums that were spotty had their moments.

Which is where The Best of Everything comes in. It offers 38 tracks spread across two CDs (or four sides of vinyl). There are also some great photos, plus liner notes from Cameron Crowe. Admittedly, you don’t get many previously unreleased songs here — just two, in fact. But the quality of the music that you do get is so consistently top-notch that this hardly matters. The Best of Everything collects material from Petty’s solo career, his later efforts with Mudcrutch (TP, Campbell, Tench, Tom Leadon, and Randall Marsh) and, of course, plenty of stuff with The Heartbreakers. The songs aren’t arranged chronologically but this is an advantage in a way because it makes the listener realize that Petty was writing great songs throughout his career, even after he stopped being a regular presence on the charts. Most of the big hits (“Free Fallin’, ”Refugee,” “American Girl,” “Don’t Come Around Here No More,” etc.) appear on Disc 1. But there are some on Disc 2 as well, along with some excellent lesser known songs.

Even at 38 tracks, not all of Petty’s best work is represented and naturally fans will argue about what should or shouldn’t have made the cut (I, for one, wouldn’t have minded a couple more songs from Echo or Long After Dark). But again, this is a minor complaint. The number of great songs here is truly striking — as is the variety of those songs. Witness the title track from 1985’s Southern Accents, a breakthrough ballad that even this Connecticut Yankee can appreciate… The biting commentary of “The Last DJ,” which was banned by Clear Channel for telling some inconvenient truths about the music business… The Zeppelin-esque blues-rock of “I Should Have Known It” from 2010’s Mojo… Sad, beautiful ballads like “Room at the Top” and “Dreamville”…. And the back to basics rock and roll of “You Wreck Me” from Petty’s massively popular solo disc, Wildflowers.

Taken as a whole, The Best of Everything offers ample proof that Tom Petty was one of the most important and consistent figures in American rock and roll. These lines from “Walls,” a deceptively simple single from the overlooked She’s the One soundtrack, provides a fitting epitaph:

“Some things are over
Some things go on
Part of me you carry
Part of me is gone.”

RIP, Tom. We’ll never forget you.

ROCKIN’ IS MA BUSINESS – Blurt’s Rock & Roll Roundup Pt. 6


And business is good, whether your thing is punk, power pop, garage rock, rockabilly, glam, action rock, and their various spinoffs and offshoots. Our guarantee to you: no Nickelback allowed. Go HERE to read Dr. Denim’s first installment of the series, HERE for Pt. 2, HERE for Pt. 3,  HERE for Pt. 4, and HERE for Pt.5.  FYI: links to key audio and video tracks follow the main text. Pictured above: Deniz Tek; photo by Anne Tek. (We meant to get this column out before the end of 2018, but life happens. So consider this a round-up of the best rock & roll from the last half of the previous year.)


Austin’s reactivated Crack Pipes often get tossed in the “garage rock” bin, and while that’s not inaccurate, the quintet has never been a sixties revival act, not even in its earliest days. That’s especially true on Fake Eyelashes (Super Secret), the Pipes’ fifth album and first in a baker’s dozen years. The Pipes distill the raw end of their record collections down to tracks both sweet (“Fake Eyelashes,” “Medusa, Do You Mind?”) and savage (“Lil Cheetah,” “(I’m a) Moon Man, Baby”). Adding bits of soul (“Sha-Zam”), country (the title cut), psychedelia (“Giraffe”) and the blues that shaped the band’s core back in the day (“Sweet & Low”), the Pipes rip on all cylinders, letting strong songwriting power the performances, instead of the other way ‘round. Just to reiterate that this is no retro garage rawk project, the record’s sole cover comes from the catalog of alternative rock icon Grant Hart – and it’s the rocking “You’re a Reflection of the Moon On the Water,” from 2009’s Hot Wax, too.

The Morlocks (American division) hail from the original 80s garage rock revival; amazingly, nearly 35 years after their inception, they’re still standing (even if singer Leighton Koizumi is the only original member left). Bring On the Mesmeric Condition (Hound Gawd!/Rough Trade) – only the San Diego quintet’s fourth studio album in its career – doesn’t alter the original formula an iota. The Morlocks still write tunes that sound like long-lost Nuggets gems and perform with the kind of energy that could only have generated following the late 70s punk rock wave. Which is to say that “Down Underground,” “Easy Action” and “Bothering Me” explode out of the speakers with killer riffs and snarling ‘tude, with Koizumi’s pop-eyed growl as the eye of the hurricane. Not too many of these bands are left, and even fewer can do this bop with any real verve or authenticity. Four decades into their career, the Morlocks still have the goods in spades.

The Ar-Kaics also party like it’s 1965, though not nearly as raucously as their elders. That has less to do with energy than style on In This Time (Wick/Daptone), the Richmond act’s second LP. The quartet comes off less as sneering punks than brooding nerds, with a midtempo rhythm drive that calls to mind folk rock more than garage punk. That doesn’t mean the band can’t rock out when required – cf. “No Vacancy” or “She’s Obsessed With Herself.” But moodier protopsych fare like the seething “Distemper” and poppy “Some People” are far more common. Similarly, Boston’s indefatigable Muck and the Mires share a devotion to sixties pro-am rock, particularly the party variety, but the quartet’s songs simply transcend such easy classification. Muckus Maximus (Rum Bar), the group’s latest EP, spills over with catchy tuneage, “Break It All” and “Loneliness” sure to bring smiles to faces.

Nearing their (gulp) thirtieth anniversary, the Bottle Rockets lean into their Americana side on their thirteenth album Bit Logic (Bloodshot). That doesn’t mean the veteran Missourians have discovered their inner Chris Stapleton – just that Brian Henneman dials up his Willie ‘n’ Waylon influences so they’re a bit more obvious, as on “Way Down South,” “Knotty Pine” and the title track. The band also gets poppy on “Maybe Tomorrow” and “Saxophone” without losing the rootsy influence. Henneman’s trademark wit is in fine form, poking wry fun at humanity in “Doomsday Letter” and “Human Perfection,” and at the music industry itself in “Bad Time to Be an Outlaw.” The Rockets keep their Southern rock edge low-key and avoid their Crazy Horse side, but that doesn’t make Bit Logic anything less than (yet) another solid Bottle Rockets LP. For a taste of the louder version of, turn to Austin’s Western Youth, whose self-titled, full-length debut (self-released) cranks up the amps even as it keeps to the virtues of songcraft. Frontdudes Taylor Williams and Graham Weber write tunes with melody, heart and just the right touch of soul, and their dedication to the electric guitar as the guiding force of the band keeps soft rock Americana clichés at arms’ length. Check out “Hangin’ On” and “Dying On the Vine” for the Youth at their best.

For Oldest Friend (Off the Hip), its first LP in seven years, Perth, Australia’s Painkillers expand to a four-piece, as singer/guitarist Joe Bludge and drummer James Baker (Hoodoo Gurus, the Scientists, Dubrovniks, etc.) joined by bassist Martyn P. Casey of the Triffids and Nick Cave’s Bad Seeds and guitarist Richard Lane of the Stems and the Chevelles. The addition of two such notables really doesn’t change anything – Bludge still writes country-flavored guitar rockers that teeter between cynicism and sentimentality and sings them in a raw voice devoid, for good or ill, of polish – everybody just stays out of his way to let him express himself. Redolent of everyone from Johnny Dowd and Townes Van Zandt to the Jacobites and the Velvet Underground, Bludge’s vision doesn’t any room for bullshit – “$6 Chicken,” “Honey Bees” and the title track drop pretenses and shoot straight to the heart of barroom prophets everywhere. “I’m doin’ it all over in a rock & roll band,” he declares in “Drunk on a Train,” and that about sums it up.

In case you’ve ever wondered what barbers do in their spare time, the Cutthroat Brothers have the answer. Real life haircutters (though the album cover is a bit too reminiscent of a classic Monty Python sketch to make anyone comfortable sitting in their chairs) Jason Cutthroat and Donny Paycheck (who originally beat the skins for Camarosmith and the mighty Zeke) work out the demons on their self-titled debut (Digital Warfare). Paycheck keeps the rhythmic heart throbbing for Cutthroat, whose grunged-out slide guitar and sedate vocals give basic riff-rockers “Oceans of Blood” and “Kill 4 U” a current of menace and a bucket o’ guts. The pseudo-sibs also bring surprising soul to “Violent Crime,” a ballad (!) that has more in common with Nick Cave than Roy Orbison. Perfectly produced by Jack Endino, whose relationship with Paycheck extends through Zeke to the bands the drummer signed to his sadly defunct Dead Teenager label.

Those missing the wild ‘n’ crazy guys in Guitar Wolf will likely warm to the bluesy garage rock sounds emanating from fellow Japanese combo King Brothers. This trio aren’t the maniacs that Wolf are – let’s face it, no one is – but Wasteland (Hound Gawd!/Rough Trade), its debut album, has plenty of wild-eyed thrills. “Bang! Blues” and “No! No! No!” don’t mess around in the group’s mission to make “Kick Ass Rock.” Melbourne’s Beat Taboo similarly channel the unhinged spirit of the early garagabillies on its debut album Dirty Stash (Off the Hip). Over trashy twin guitars and a rhythm section (including OtH majordomo Mick Baty) as comfortable with rockabilly grunge as swamp rawk, Pange De Bauche growls, howls, rants and croons his way through “Lick My Wail,” “Cat Lady Man” and “Voodoo Beat” like the successor to Nick Cave and Tex Perkins.

Considering how tense modern times are, it takes some balls to sing “I’m a gun and I’m gonna kill you.” But that’s the Blankz for ya, apparently, at least on its third single “I’m a Gun” b/w “Bad Boy” (Slope). With analog synth sharing space with crunchy guitar, the Arizona quintet’s new wavey punk pop is big on old-fashioned pop hooks and sneering attitude. Better is the band’s fourth single “(It’s a) Breakdown” b/w “You’re Not My Friend Anymore” (Slope) – both tunes let the keyboard take the lead and feature stronger vocal performances.

Protopunk legend Deniz Tek has had a productive decade – between Radio Birdman reunions and side projects, he’s released three solo albums in the past five years. That includes the brand new Lost For Words (Career), which, as might be gathered from the title, dismisses lyrics and vocals in favor of an all-instrumental program. Unsurprisingly for the guy that wrote “Aloha Steve and Danno,” surf rock is the biggest building block – cf. “Eddie Would Go” and “Hondo’s Dog.” But there’s more to Lost For Words than refried Dick Dale, with the influence of spy movie soundtracks (“Lies and Bullets”), spaghetti western cinematic twang (“The Barrens”),  Southwestern folk rock (“It Shall Be Life”) and groovy soul (“Boneyard”). The record also includes a pair of Birdman tracks: an instrumental reworking of the title track to 2006’s Zeno Beach and the otherwise unreleased “Vanished.” Another highlight of an always interesting and frequently brilliant career.

Speaking of legends, Paul Collins still walks the earth, dropping power pop nuggets as he goes. The erstwhile leader of the Beat resurfaces after a few years off with Out of My Head (Alive Naturalsound), the follow-up to 2014’s Feel the Noise. Though he’s in his sixties, Collins has managed to hold on to the boyish quality of his voice, which gives simple, lovelorn ditties like “Kind of Girl,” “Beautiful Eyes” and “Emily” a certain poignancy. And while rockers like “Midnight Special” and “Go” don’t exactly set amps on fire, they’ve got enough verve to at least rearrange the furniture. “Killer Inside,” meanwhile, explores an area of rock noir that’s not usually on Collins’ itinerary, and does it quite well, too. Seattle’s Cheap Cassettes work similar terrain on the Kiss the Ass of My Heart EP (Rum Bar), the follow-up to its excellent debut All Anxious, All the Time. Leader and former Dimestore Halo Chaz Matthews likes simple, traditional pop melodies roughed up with rock & roll guitar and vocal grit, making “Black Leather Angel” and the title track balms for pop fans in studded belts.

Chicago musicmaesters Rick Mosher and Kenn Goodman have an estimable career going back to the eighties with the Service, the New Duncan Imperials and their industrious indie label Pravda. The Imperial Sound, the duo’s latest music project, blends airy power pop with horn-driven soul on its debut The New AM. If anything defines this record, it’s taste. Guitarist Mosher and keyboardist Goodmann keep their licks straight and to the point, and the horns augment the tunes perfectly. Given the LP’s title, it’s unsurprising that Mosher’s melodies betray a love of the smarter side of 70s pop and soul, and his arrangements keep ‘em clean and sweet. While Mosher’s plainspoken voice suits “Daylight,” “The Sun Goes Out” and “Back On Your Table” just fine, he also brings in friends for other tracks, highlighting singer/songwriter Nora O’Connor on the straight soul of “Yesterday,” R&B belter Robert Cornelius on the funky “A Man Like You” and the duo of Kelly Hogan and Peter Himmelman on the snappy “Ain’t Crawling Back.” Every track is catchy and to the point. Folks who wondered what happened to these folks after the New Duncs petered out will be happy to tune up The New AM.

We loved the first album from Justine and the Unclean as a wonderfully tight collision of glam, power pop, punk and hard rock. Unsurprisingly, Heartaches and Hot Problems (Rum Bar), the Boston quartet’s follow-up EP, is just as good. From the turbocharged pop of “Be Your Own Reason” and the bare-knuckled punk ‘n’ roll of “The System is Set to Self Destruct” to the deadpan boogie of “Margaritas and Secondhand Smoke” and genre-agnostic rawk of “Monosyllabic Man,” the Unclean waste no time on anything other than good tunes and hot rockin’. Frontperson Justine Covault seems to have picked up the long-abandoned baton of Nikki & the Corvettes, a most welcome infusion of new energy into the artery-hardened revenant of rock & roll. Though pulling from the same elements, Giuda ups the glam quotient considerably on its latest seven-inch “Rock ‘n’ Roll Music” b/w “Born Under a Bad Sign” (Rise Above). All power chord riffs and choral chants, the Roman quintet has never been about anything other than a good time, and with drums that seem to beam straight from the British charts circa 1972, it can’t do anything else.

At its best, rock & roll should have an edge of danger and insanity, as if things might threaten to fall apart any minute. There aren’t many contemporary artists who embody that edge more than Obnox, AKA Lamont “Bim” Thomas (pictured below). The Clevelander’s latest album Bang Messiah (Smog Veil) – his tenth in less than a decade – is a half-hour of his stripped-down blend of punk, hip-hop and electro rock, starting with an obscenity-filled rant called “Steve Albini Thinks We Suck” and ending with the simmering electro-thwomp “Fluss.” In between you get straight rap cuts like “Rally On the Block,” mutant R&B like “Peek-a-Boo” and punk rock tantrums like “I Hate Everything.” Thomas is definitely not everyone’s flagon of cyanide, but there’s no denying the guy oozes rock & roll attitude in a way far too many rockers of his generation eschew.



The Ar-Kaics – “No Vacancy”:


The Blankz – “I’m a Gun”:


The Bottle Rockets – Bit Logic Bandcamp:


The Cheap Cassettes – Kiss the Ass of My Heart Bandcamp:


Paul Collins – “Go”:


The Crack Pipes – Fake Eyelashes:


The Cutthroat Brothers – “Kill 4 U”:


Giuda – “Rock N Roll Music” 7-inch Bandcamp:


The Imperial Sound – “A Man Like You”:


Justine and the Unclean – Heartaches and Hot Problems Bandcamp:


The King Brothers – “No Want”:


The Morlocks – “Bothering Me”:


Muck and the Mires – Muckus Maximus Bandcamp:


Obnox – “Cream”:


The Painkillers – “Oldest Friend” Bandcamp:


Deniz Tek – “Burn the Breeze”:


Western Youth – s-t Bandcamp:



Album: 3x4 (2LP, colored vinyl)


Label: Yep Roc

Release Date: February 22, 2019

The Paisley Underground finally goes overground in a long overdue tribute to… itself!

BY FRED MILLS (vinyl photo from the author’s collectionI)

This gem, from the estimable Yep Roc Records, whose equally estimable David Shaw spearheaded the project, is nominally titled “3 x 4,” and of course if you consider that it has American rock heroes Rain Parade, The Dream Syndicate, The Bangles, and The Three O’Clock all covering each other, three tracks apiece, the title is technically accurate.

One might alternatively propose, however, that the project is  ∞ x 5 since the sonic ramifications are so much more than the sum of its parts. Let us duly note that the four bands enlisted for submissions are not only temporally, geographically, and (reasonably) stylistically linked, and therefore, we presume, more than just a little familiar with one another’s respective oeuvres; their aesthetic and philosophical roots are more than just a little in synch. These are, after all, among the rock ‘n’ roll badasses that populated the early/mid ‘80s SoCal Paisley Underground. Admittedly, in their time the Bangles took their tunefulness to the bank to a degree considerably more lucratively than the others, but if you fast-forward to 2019, everyone involved has earned a degree of musical stature and industry respect that will leave ‘em all with some terrific stories to tell the grandkids.

There is literally not a duff note heard over the course of the two platters, and if I were to single out any tracks they would be the staggering cover of DS’ “When You Smile” by Matt Piucci and his gang; the Bangles very nearly out-DS’g the DS with their throbbing “That’s What You Always Say”; and of course the Steve Wynn-helmed crew (who?) covering timeless RP gem “You Are My Friend.” Writes Wynn, of the tune, in the copious liners to this brilliant, colored vinyl, must-own David Shaw-overseen project, “This song broke my heart when it came out…”

Steve, me too. As did all of you folks in the bands every time you released a record. The paisley underground community was very much a real entity, and not just a journalistic label, that spread far and wide. Thank you forever from my pointed little head.


Rumor has it that one can acquire this on digital devices or play it on an outdated technology referred to by some as “compact disc,” but why would you? See the photo above for reference and, yes, you are welcome.

DOWNLOAD: This is the kind of release you need to grab every song and listen to them one-by-one and back-to-back. Then go track down the original versions – I’ll be glad to make a Spotify playlist for ya if you’re lazy….


ROBERT ELLIS – Texas Piano Man

Album: Texas Piano Man

Artist: Robert Ellis

Label: New West

Release Date: February 15, 2019

Less than a minute into Robert Ellis’ latest, brilliant effort, Texas Piano Man, you can’t shake the feeling that he’s channeling the ghost of Harry Nilsson. Who else besides Ellis, but possibly Nilsson, could manage to take the chorus “I’m fucking crazy” and turn it into a wedding-caliber love song (“Fucking Crazy”)? And that’s just one song in.

Ellis puts down the guitar on his fifth LP and sits behind a piano for an even more relaxed vibe, and his wit still shines through just as strong with this outing. Songs like “Nobody Smokes Anymore” (“the last years of your life are so shitty anyway”) and “Passive Aggressive” are among some of the best he’s written in an already impressive career.

Likely because of the piano, there is a distinct ‘70s vibe to most of the songs here, which just goes to highlight Ellis’ chameleon-like tendency to seamlessly slip in and out of genres, from honky tonk to Americana, folk to rock. He caps off this nearly flawless collection with “Topo Chico,” an ode to Mexican sparkling water that manages to best Nilsson’s “Put the Lime in the Coconut.”

CRUCIAL TRACKS: “Fucking Crazy,” “Topo Chico” and “Nobody Smoked Anymore” (below: for vinyl enthusiasts)

THE GERMS – What We Do Is Secret [RSD Black Friday LP; blue vinyl]

Album: What We Do Is

Artist: Germs

Label: ORG Music/Rhino

Release Date: November 23, 2018


The Germs may have only released one proper studio album before frontman Darby Crash died, but you’d be hard-pressed to find more than a handful of more influential hardcore/punk rock bands to come out of that era. Everyone from the Minutemen and L7 to Soul Asylum and Pennywise owe a debt of gratitude to that Southern California band of nonconformists. So, it’s frustrating just how few songs the band managed to record during their four years together.

Thankfully, ORG Music has just re-released this gorgeous blue vinyl limited edition copy of their 1981 EP What We Do Is Secret. Originally put out in 1981, just a year after Crash’s suicide, this 7-song album pulls together live tracks recorded between 1977 and 1980. The songs are sloppy, loud, a bit amateurish, all which add to the odd brilliance of the band.

Their cover of Chuck Berry’s “Round and Round” is one of the highlights of this mini-album that hovers around the 20-minute mark. The last two songs in this collection, “The Other Newest Ones” and “My Tunnel” captures the band playing a frenetically impressive live show on December 3, 1980 at LA’s Starwood. The songs show a band that was destined for much bigger things, but sadly, Crash intentionally OD’s on heroine just a few days later.

Unlike The Eagles or Steely Dan, polished studio musicians searching for perfection, a band like The Germs were about immediacy, spontaneity, and living that ethos that anyone (literally anyone) can be in a band. And while The Eagles and Steely Dan may have found a much, much bigger audience, they manage to do so without a fraction of the passion that a band like The Germs had.

DOWNLOAD: “Round and Round,” and “The Other Sweetest One”


Watch Rabid New The Beasts (of Bourbon) Video / Album Incoming


Legendary Aussies pull no punches, based on early estimates….

By Fred Mills

The mighty Beasts of Bourbon are returning – or, more accurately, the members – Tex Perkins, Kim Salmong, Boris Sudjovic, Charlie Owen, Tony Pola – have regrouped as The Beasts, and the Bang! label is prepping to release Still Here on Feb. 15. Here’s the scorching first video, “On My Back,” followed by the label’s press release about the record. We are advised that you can preorder the import album here in the States, on both CD and LP,  via Forced Exposure.

After an extremely emotional final performance with the Beasts of Bourbon, Tex Perkins hit upon the idea of getting all of the band’s members, past and present, into a recording studio with no particular agenda. It was more of a celebratory thing he had in mind than anything else. Sadly, bassist Brian Hooper didn’t make it along as he passed away a week after the Beasts last show. Assembled in Soundpark Studio a couple of weeks later were Charlie Owen, Boris Sujdovic, Tony Pola, Spencer Jones, Kim Salmon, and Tex Perkins. They were unprepared save for some sketchy ideas, loose ends, and a couple of covers. With limited time the band knocked together a collection of jams pretty much true to the crazy M.O. employed back when The Axeman’s Jazz got laid down in that fateful eight-hour session in 1983. Songs weren’t so much learned as ideas were thrown together and recorded the moment they began to coalesce. Captured were: Brian Hooper’s “What The Hell Was I Thinking”, James Baker’s “Drunk On A Train”, Boris’ “Don’t Pull Me Over”, Kim’s “Pearls Before Swine”, Tex’s “On My Back” and “Just Let Go”, and Spencer’s “At The Hospital”. There was also Zappa’s “The Torture Never Stops” and Warren Zevon’s “My Shit’s Fucked Up” (was there ever a more appropriate cover for the Beasts?) Add to that some untitled jams that became the hilarious “Your Honour” and “It’s All Lies”. Sound like an album? You betchya! Deeply sad is that Spencer was only around long enough to make it onto one track. Absolutely wonderful is that he did make it onto the recording. And with such a funny and typically Jones style piece of observation as “At The Hospital”. With respect, this isn’t the Beasts of Bourbon. It would need to have Jonesy on every track to be that!


THE BLANKZ- It’s a Breakdown 7”

Album: It's A Breakdown 7"


Label: Slope

Release Date: January 04, 2019


As Clay Davis in the Wire says “SHEEEEEEEEEEEEEET”! This is one incredible slab ‘o’ wax from the packaging to the short sharp and shock songs. The Blankz are from Phoenix and if you haven’t heard of them, don’t pay that no mind because I’m here to tell y’all this right here is some impressive music coming out of the Southwest that you need to take heed of. Taking subtle cues from Social Distortion’s Mike Ness with a dash of Rocket from the Crypt, the band come out guns a blazing on the title track “It’s a Breakdown”.  With lyrics like “Hang myself or Hang around” you know they ain’t messing around. It’s a joyful slab of pop punk yet it has some interesting subtext lurking just beneath the surface. The organ is a welcome addition and works really well in giving the tune a retro and more sophisticated feel. “You’re Not My Friend Anymore” is a slightly weaker tune but still packs a punch and shows just how talented the band is and how they’ve mastered the pop-punk genre. The production is excellent on these two tunes and makes me look forward to a full record when that day comes. I must also mention the 3-D packaging the glasses, the sticker and the deluxe sleeve. Most LP’s these days don’t put in as much effort so kudos to label and band for giving us a deluxe collectible for my own vinyl porn collection.

DOWNLOAD: “It’s a Breakdown” “You’re Not My Friend Anymore”


RISE AGAINST – Career (Vinyl Box Set)

Album: Career

Artist: Rise Against

Label: Interscope/Ume

Release Date: November 20, 2018


There aren’t a ton of punk rock bands outside of the greats from the late- ‘70s through early ‘80s, who are strong enough to justify a career-spanning vinyl box set. Chicago’s Rise Against though clearly have earned that distinction.


Raised in the indie punk scene – the band’s first two albums were released on the Fat Mike-helmed, Fat Wreck Chords – the band came about their experience the tried and true punk rock way: touring the country is a crappy van and sleeping on the floors of fans after shows. So, their jump to Geffen Records for their third effort, though it brought about some predictably, if relatively muted taunts of “Sell Out!” seemed like a natural fit for an impressive band looking for a bigger soap box to stand on.


Geffen, alongside UMe has collected the band’s first eight records (everything but 2018’s The Ghost Note Symphonies, Vol. 1) into one massive archival set. Each record is pressed on 180-gram vinyl and comes with a hard cover book of Rise Against’ s oral history and a slew of rare band photos. The set includes The Unraveling, Revolutions Per Minute, Siren Song Of The Counter Culture, The Sufferer & The Witness, Appeal To Reason, Endgame, The Black Market and Wolves.


Of all the albums in the collection, their 2001 debut, The Unraveling, is fittingly enough their most uneven. There’s a powerful rawness to the songs, but singer Tim McIlrath was still finding his voice (figuratively and literally) and relied more on screams rather than the measured vocals he would perfect on later albums. The guitars, as well, slathered in distortion, don’t leave much space for any other instrument to be heard. But the band quickly learned from those mistakes in time for 2003’s Revolutions Per Minute and it’s follow-up the next year, Siren Song Of The Counter Culture. The latter houses the song “Swing Away Life” which remains their most recognizable song and one of the best slow-tempo punk anthems of the 2000s. Both records are among the band’s best efforts with a more cohesive sound and powerful political lyrics that are clear enough to be heard this time around.


The Sufferer & The Witness, released in 2006 continued the streak of great, political punk rock, but they slipped slightly on the mediocre follow up, 2008’s Appeal To Reason. The last three entries in this collection, however – Endgame, The Black Market and last year’s Wolves – found the band back to in top form. Over the course of nearly two decades, Rise Against has slowly and methodically carved out a niche for writing savvy political anthems that move easily from modern punk folk to distorted rock, all while ignoring current music fads in favor of a formula that have managed to perfect. This gorgeous box set is the perfect acknowledgement of that dedication.

DOWNLOAD: Plenty to choose from….