Saturday, May 01, 2021

Full Moon Fever: An Interview with Matt Ellis & Shows # 880, 879, 878

Hamilton musician Matt Ellis has been played in many different bands such as The Vapids, Flesh Rag and PlasticHeads. Usually on guitar, Matt recorded a series of Ramones inspired EPs in 2020 at his home where he played all of the instrumentation. All of the proceeds from these releases went towards different non-profit organizations in Toronto and Hamilton. Following a remix, the addition of real drums provided by Jimmy Vapid of The Vapids, Curtis Tone from PlasticHeads and two new tracks, Full Moon Fever was released on vinyl at the end of February 2021 on Surfin Ki Records. With an obvious Ramones influence, the songs that make up Full Moon Fever pull from the Dee Dee Ramone penned catalogue of Ramones tracks with a dash of The Spits, DBOY and Seattle band HEAD.

“DMT Is Good For Me” starts off the album with a trip, literally. As the character in the song leaves the boringness of everyday life and unemployment through other means, the fast paced track attacks with heavy guitar riffs, escapist lyrics and a brief Johnny Thunders styled solo. “My Neighbourhood Is A Dump” is a gritty track that lyrically is just as catchy as the best Ramones tracks. With lyrics such as “Garbage fills the streets and no cares/This neighbourhood’s a dump” and “I don’t care/I don’t care anymore,” Ellis taps into a fervent frustration as the outside world and internal world of the character in this song falls into disarray and despair. “Flowers in the Moonlight” acts as sort of title track. A little more mid-tempo, Ellis gets more dynamic lyrically with words such as “The whole wide world is burning/But I feel nothing yet,” “Right now you have my heart/But I’ll show you my soul.” These words combined with a slice of UK punk and the chorus of “Like a flower in the moonlight,” provides the listener with a moment of thought symbolizing growth, despite the difficult times. “Monster Under My Bed” digs into B-Movie paranoia and is actually a track dating back to an earlier band called The Scabs that Ellis had with TV Freaks drummer Nathan Burger when he was 15, “Poison Holiday” brings in more of a grimy Spits influence with Ramones songs such as “Havana Affair." During these musical moments, the character in the song vents about not being able to sling hamburgers in Hamilton, avoiding the news and being stuck in a vicious cycle of a forced “Poison Holiday.”

“Die Tonight” takes the love song on with a morbid twist, “Rat Fucker” is an ode to a slimy, greedy individual. With razor sharp guitar licks, grimy, loud barre chords, a steady drumbeat and punchy basslines, Ellis sneers with contempt on this track. “Stay Home” is a pretty straightforward song with Ramones 1976 vibes. A more up-tempo track, the song descends into themes of mundane isolation, panic and anxiety. “PigHead” features buzzsaw guitars ala “Pinhead” as lyrically it comments on police brutality, “Missing You” blends Undertones-styled guitar leads with Ramones catchiness as a down on their luck love-sick character is stuck in a literal and metaphorical limbo, “Bad Day” starts off with a heavy drumbeat as a guitar slide transports us to a world of someone who “Had a bad day/And is gonna make you pay” and is at their breaking point.

“Walk Alone” ends Full Moon Fever. With its 80s punk riffs intertwined with darker lyrics such as “I always walk alone these streets at night/In the darkness I don’t feel alright” and a chorus of “Gimme my life,” the character in this song addresses the darkness of isolation as they look for some kind of meaning. At 18 tracks, none of the songs on Full Moon Fever go past the two-minute mark. Running through themes of isolation, frustration, boredom and escapism, Full Moon Fever delves into a manic dynamic of punk rock and suburban paranoia. Full Moon Fever more than anything proves that rock and roll will always rise above hard times. 

Grab a copy of Full Moon Fever on Vinyl over at Matt Ellis' Bandcamp page:

Continue reading for an interview that Revolution Rock did with Hamilton musician Matt Ellis:

RR: The new record Full Moon Fever had its start as several Ramones inspired EPs recorded in 2020. What inspired you to create these tracks musically or lyrically?

ME: I started recording the FMF album shortly after the first COVID-19 lockdown. I went stir crazy pretty fast and set up a recording studio in our spare bathroom. I started writing songs and they came out fast. The Ramones vibe or formula just kind of happened. They have a couple “rules” they used in their songs. All downstrokes on the guitar, minimal solos, and the songs are fast and short and to the point which I like. It all just came naturally because I love them so.

I wrote and recorded 4 songs a month for 4 months and released them every second Friday on Bandcamp. The money from each of the 4 releases was given to different organizations/non-profits in Toronto and Hamilton. Everyone seemed to like the songs so it was decided to remix and master them properly for an album.

Photo By: Nina Danger
RR: Although primarily Ramones influenced what were some other bands that you think may have influenced the sound of Full Moon Fever? 

ME: Some bands I’ve been enjoying are the great Canadian band DBOY who has a meat and potatoes punk rock approach that I really dig. The New SPITS album got a lot of plays on my turntable. The band HEAD from Seattle are definitely an influence on this album. The VAPIDS, because before I was in that band I was a fan. Jimmy Vapid was a big help with album artwork, drums and the other main man in this project. 

The album name FMF in part comes from Tom Petty, who I love as a songwriter. I took the name of his first solo record for my own. Also, my daughter was born on a full moon and it felt right to call it that because a lot of the songs come from my fear of the future she might have. It feels like the whole world has Full Moon Fever right now. 

RR: When/where did you record the tracks for Full Moon Fever and how did you get connected with Surfin’ Ki Records for the vinyl release?

ME: Surfin Ki records has released a number of Vapids records over the last 10 or so years. He also released the first Flesh Rag record. Carlo is the man behind the scenes and our Italian Rock 'n' Roll blood brother! A couple years ago Jimmy Vapid and myself got to hang out with him for a weekend in California. We had many beers and many laughs! I knew he liked my solo EPs so I remixed the songs as an album and had Jimmy Vapid and Curt from PLASTICHEADS play drums on tracks that originally had drum machines. I recorded two more songs for the LP to give it something fresh.

RR: There are some pretty cool lo-fi music videos that you made for some of the tracks on Full Moon Fever (“My Neighbourhood Is A Dump,” “Rat Fucker,” “DMT is Good For Me”). They all seem to have a different theme. Was there any aesthetic or mood you were going for when you were creating any of these videos and how did you come up with the tin foil monster for “DMT Is Good For Me”?

The music videos just came about by me trying to make the best of this messed up year. The whole album was recorded on an old MacBook I was given by my father in law. I filmed a couple videos on my cell phone by myself with a tripod and just figured it out on that old computer. The tinfoil monster just comes from my love of low budget movies and just being a goofball with cabin fever. I think DMT is actually a great drug but on the kind of budget I’m working with it’s very hard to present it in a visually stunning way. Let’s call it "low budget isolation madness."

RR: You’ve played in many different bands such as The Vapids, PlasticHeads and Flesh Rag. What was the first band that you played in and do you remember anything about the first live show that you played?

ME: The first band I played in was called ‘THE SCABS’ Nathan Burger was in the band from FLESH RAG and TV FREAKS. About 18 years ago we played our first show. It was a house party. We were like 15 year old kids and we wore lipstick and covered Misfits, GG Allin, Stooges and Ramones songs. Still cornerstones of my musical influence. The song ‘Monster Under My Bed’ from FMF was a Scabs song Burger and I wrote. It was a weird thing to record a song I wrote when I was only 15. But it works on the album and It was nice to put something from so long ago on vinyl.

Photo By: Nina Danger
RR: You play guitar primarily, but also play drums and bass. What was the first instrument that you played? Was it the guitar and what was the first guitar you played do you remember?

ME: I can barely play drums! But bass I have played in a few bands and Guitar.... yes! My first guitar my parents bought me at a garage sale. It was a cheap one but it was almost unplayable. After singing in the Scabs I wanted to learn guitar and my parents helped me buy a proper one. A cream colour Fender Strat. Kinda like the one Wayne really wants in Wayne’s World! I played it for a coupe years and sold it. I really wish I still had it.

RR: Ramones have lots of albums. What do you feel some of their under appreciated albums are and do you have a favourite one in general?

ME: My favourite album is the first album. Its simplicity and power is unmatched in a debut album. The first 3 or maybe even 4 albums are perfect! The “best” I’d say is Rocket to Russia as it has the perfect hard punk songs to pop songs ratio. It should have made them huge and been a hit! The most underrated is Too Tough To Die. Tommy Ramone stepped back behind the board to produce and it shows. The Dee Dee songs he sings are killer! The demos he sings on from that album are some of my favourite Ramones demos! A couple people have said my album is Dee Dee Ramone influenced and they'd be correct. His songs are always my favourites.

RR: What’s next for you musically?

ME: I’d really like to get back to rehearsing and record our second album with PLASTICHEADS. We had a European tour get cancelled because of COVID. I really miss playing with that band. I play bass in a side project with TJ and Burger from TV FREAKS called ANXIOUS PLEASERS and we are releasing a limited tape and the songs will be on Bandcamp very soon. We recorded them December-ish 2019 and decided to put them out after waiting this long.

I think I’d also like to do another solo album but I’m in no rush. Right now working alone is the only thing I have creatively. It's different but has been satisfying. FMF has sold really well and people like it so maybe I’ll give ‘em more of what they want. I’m not reinventing the wheel, I’m just continuing in a musical tradition. You don’t need to come up with a new style or sound but if you can connect with people and the songs are good, that’s what really counts. FMF Is kind of an end of the world type album and sadly there is no shortage of inspiration at the moment.

Show 880 (Originally Aired On May 1st, 2021)(Rolling Stones Sticky Fingers, Iggy Pop, Bob Dylan, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Matt Ellis):

1. Rolling Stones - Bitch (Live)
2. Rolling Stones - Dead Flowers
3. Iggy Pop - Glow in the Dark 
4. Jon Spencer Blues Explosion - 40 LB Block of Cheese
5. Jon Spencer Blues Explosion - Calvin 
6. Alex Chilton and Hi Rhythm Section - Boogie Shoes (Live)
7. Art Bergmann - Your Second Amendment 
8. Neil Young - Monday Morning 
9. Willie Dunn - Wounded Lake 
10. Bob Dylan - Hard Times In New York Town (1961 Home Tape Demo)
11. Bob Dylan - No More Auction Block (Live at Gaslight Cafe, Greenwich Village 1962)
12. Bob Dylan - Baby, Let Me Follow You Down
13. Bob Dylan - Song To Woody 
14. Bob Dylan - Masters of War (Whitmark Demo)
15. Bob Dylan - Oxford Town 
16. Bob Dylan - Mama, You’ve Been On My Mind (Another Side of Bob Dylan Outtake)
17. Guided by Voices - Trust Them Now 
18. White Lung – Blow it South 
19. Dumb – Artfact 
20. Teenanger – Straight to Computer
21. Girlfriends & Boyfriends - Stephaney 
22. Paul Jacobs - Half Rich Loner 
23. Daniel Romano - Don’t Turn Around Janet
24. Teenage Art Scene - Rocket
25. Dinosaur Jr. - And Me 
26. Dean Marino - Footnotes 
27. Property! - The Isolator 
28. Pale Lips - (You Make Me) Wanna Be Bad
29. Matt Ellis - Stay Home 
30. Richard Hell & The Voidoids - Crack of Dawn (Demo)

Show 879 (Originally Aired On April 24th, 2021) (The Kingsmen, La Luz, Triptides, The Byrds Fifth Dimension, Bob Dylan, Souvenir):

1. The Kingsmen - Louie, Louie (Shindig 1965)
2. The Kingsmen - Haunted Castle
3. The Kingsmen - Money 
4. La Luz - Tale of My Lost Love
5. Triptides - It Won’t Hurt You 
6. Triptides - Let It Go
7. The Byrds - Mr. Spaceman 
8. The Byrds - Eight Miles High (Alternate RCA Version)
9. The Byrds - What’s Happening ?!?! 
10. The Armed – An Iteration 
11. Special Interest – Young, Gifted, Black, in Leather 
12. Psychic Void – Alley Dweller 
13. METZ – Slow Decay 
14. Sam Coffey & The Iron Lungs - Spirit Of The Radio 
15 The Coathangers - Stasher
16. Cold Warps - Everyone I Know
17. No Museums - Perimeter Won’t Tighten Anymore 
18. Johnny West - The Stillness of Us 
19. Cory Hanson - Limited Hangout 
20. Bob Dylan - Country Pie 
21. Bob Dylan  - Woogie Boogie
22. Bob Dylan - Father of Night 
23. Bob Dylan - Days of '49 
24. Bob Dylan - Billy 7 
25. Bob Dylan - Big Yellow Taxi [Joni Mitchell cover] 
26. The Glebes - Theme 
27. Klazo - This and That 
28. Priors - VideoDrome
29. The Famines - The Second World War 
30. King Khan Unlimited - Megpie Eyes 
31. Souvenir – I'm Leaving 
32. Fitness – Priest's Feet 
33. Chad VanGaalen – Nothing is Strange 

Show 878 (Originally Aired On April 17th, 2021)(Unwound, Muddy Waters, John Lurie, Matt Ellis):

1. Unwound – Look a Ghost 
2. Tunic – Shaking Hands
3. Japandroids – Racer X 
4. Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Government Came {Ashes to the Sea or Nearer to Thee}
5. Neil Jarvis - Get The Band Back Together
6. Bill Jr. Jr. - Renaissance Man
7. Not You - Mabel
9. Neil Young - Come Along and Say You Will 
10. South River Slim - Blind Lemon Girl
11. Hank III - 7 Months, 39 Days 
12. Townes Van Zandt - Turnstyled, Junkpiled 
13. Muddy Waters – Long Distance Call 
14. Muddy Waters – Long Distance 
15. Muddy Waters - The Same Thing 
16. Muddy Waters – The Blues Had a Baby and They Named It Rock and Roll 
17. John Dwyer - City Maggot
18. John Lure - Al Is Hated 
19. John Lure - Al Al Al Al 
20. Marvin Pontiac - I Hope She Is Okay
21. Marvin Pontiac - My Little Garden Gnome 
22. The Lounge Lizards - The First and Royal Queen 
23. Tuns – In Another Life 
24. Spencer Krug – Fading Graffiti 
25. Born Ruffians – Beyond the Lightning 
26. Dry Cleaning – Unsmart Lady
27. Pony – My Room 
29. Matt Ellis - Monster Under My Bed 
30. Matt Ellis - My Neighbourhood Is A Dump 

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Collapse: An Interview with Chris Murdoch of Souvenir & Shows # 877, #876

Souvenir is a band out of Halifax, Nova Scotia featuring bassist/vocalist Lachie MacDonald (Tom Fun Orchestra, Great Plains, Dyscontrol), guitarist/vocalist Dave Banoub (Jon Hynes) and Chris Murdoch on drums/vocals (Word On The Street, Weekend Dads, Outtacontroller). Produced by Charles Austin (Outtacontroller, Future Girls) out of Ocean Floor Studios in Halifax, Collapse is the debut full-length album from Souvenir. With all three members contributing vocals and songs, Collapse features nine songs and album cover artwork by illustrator Raymond Biesinger. The album was released in February 2021 digitally, roughly one year after their six-track EP Beating Into Dust.

The sound of Souvenir combines elements of bands such as Jesus Lizard and Fugazi, but there are also influences of bands such as Dinosaur Jr. and Husker Du that find their way into the songs at times. “Blood From A Stone” opens Collapse. With its commanding drum intro from Murdoch, MacDonald’s bass comes in as it builds with the drums before Banoub’s guitar adds more tension to the opening moments of the album. With lyrics such as “Took my breath/Left me surrounded by silence,” “Tear it down/As the bricks become shadows,” and “I wanna watch the water rise/See the buildings fall into the sea,” vocalist Dave Banoub sings in grizzled tones evoking different images of difficult situations, the silence, existential thoughts and the things left unsaid. “Circles” continues with a more punk aesthetic. The nostalgic vibes of this track bring up a late 80s/early 90s alternative and punk sound while still sounding like its own thing as lyrically it delivers abstract images sung by Lachie MacDonald that seem to portray being stuck inside your own head. “I’m Leaving” begins with a tense bassline before the drums and droning guitar come in. With plenty of space in this song, Souvenir conveys a weary urgency. “Holding Pattern” switches up the pace a bit as it drifts with its own momentum and picks up the tempo at differing points. While there are not many words in the song, the music provides a certain mood as phrases such as “Holding pattern/Hopeful action” bring up images of desire and the bogged down hopes that come with them.

Distortion and feedback lure you in on the opening moments of “Ransom”. As the song arrives, the melodic vocals sung by drummer Chris Murdoch demand your attention. “Ancient Door” opens up to sounds pulling in the influences of Jawbox and Fugazi as the words “The gate it’s everywhere” are sung throughout the song by Lachie MacDonald. “Heavy Weather” is a quicker, punkier track sung by guitarist Dave Banoub while “The Long Way” ends Collapse. With vocals once again by guitarist Banoub, it is the longest track found on Collapse at just over six minutes. This song showcases the mood and aesthetic that Souvenir maintain throughout this release. Whether it is a faster track or one of the longer tracks, the heavy bass, drums and alt rock/punk influenced guitar builds up around each song as the lyrics fall into place.

Throughout Collapse, influences of bands such as Dinosaur Jr., Jesus Lizard, Jawbox, Fugazi and Husker Du come to mind. Lyrics convey characters or situations that seem to be falling apart or are just about to. However, the final track shows shades of hopefulness. The final part of the song propels with an incendiary guitar solo that escalates as the song draws to a close. With Collapse, Souvenir define their sound like something nostalgic that is hard to forget.

Listen to Revolution Rock's interview with Chris Murdoch:

Show 877 Playlist (Originally Aired On April 10th, 2021)(Chris Murdoch Interview):

1.  Destroyer - Savage Night At The Opera
2.  The Weather Station - Atlanta
3.  Ian Daniel Kehoe - Time Through Faith 
4.  Ryley Walker - Axis Bent Course in Fable
5.  Teenanger - Blinds Drawn 
6.  Viagra Boys - Best In Show II 
7.  Viagra Boys - Secret Canine Agent 
8.  Souvenir - Blood From A Stone 
9.  Souvenir - Ransom


10. Souvenir - Promises 
11. Souvenir - Circles


12. Weekend Dads - Falcon 
13. Outtacontroller - R. Stevie Moore 
14. The Birthday Party - Zoo Music Girl 
15. The Birthday Party - Cry 
16. The Cure - Primary
17. The Cure - Other Voices
18. Public Image Ltd. - Flowers of Romance 
19. The Replacements - I Don't Know (Demo) 
20. The Replacements - Beer For Breakfast 

Show 876 (Originally Aired On April 3rd, 2021)(Olivia Jean & April March, Dan Sartain, Dry Cleaning, Alice Cooper):

1.  Olivia Jean & April March - Punkette
2.  Dean Drouillard - Hollowed 
3.  Reigning Sound - A Little More Time 
4.  Dan Sartain - Walk Among The Cobras Pt.I 
5.  Dan Sartain - Replacement Man 
6.  Dan Sartain - I Don't Want To Go To The Party 
7.  Dan Sartain - Swap Meet 
8.  The Kommenden - Television Years 
9.  Beams - Break Glass Ego Death
10. Dry Cleaning - Oblivion 
11. Dry Cleaning - Strong Feelings 
12. Gang Of Four - What We All Want 
13. Death From Above 1979 - One + One 
14. Alan Vega - Nike Soldier
15. Suicide - Johnny
16. Alice Cooper - Caught In A Dream 
17. Alice Cooper - Is It My Body 
18. OFF! - I Won't Be A Casualty 
19. Wired Wrong - If Life's So Short 
20. Brain Itch - Forced To Pay 
21. The Mark Inside - Coming of Age (At The End of Days) 
22. Nick Cave & Warren Ellis - Hand of God 
23. Leanne Betasamosake Simpson - OK Indicts 
24. Michael Feuerstack - Time To Burn
25. Willie Dunn - Broker 
26. Trophy Knife - Again and Again (CJAM Live Off The Floor)
27. Trophy Knife - America's Favourite Pastime (CJAM Live Off The Floor)
28. Trophy Knife - Man of Action 

Saturday, March 27, 2021

World's Most Stressed Out Gardener: An Interview with Chad VanGaalen & Show # 875

World’s Most Stressed Out Gardener is the follow up to Chad VanGaalen’s 2017 album Light Information. If we are counting the two outtake albums that were released in 2020 (Odds & Sods 2, Lost Harmonies), it is his ninth studio album. Released in March 2021, World’s Most Stressed Out Gardener is an eclectic collection of songs from VanGaalen. The music that he creates while it is sometimes folk, sometimes psychedelic, sometimes indie rock, sometimes strange, is really its own thing. The universe in which the songs of Chad VanGaalen belong is a strange, wonderful, kind of messed up, cosmic place at times. As we enter these worlds we find ourselves absorbed by the sounds and stories that he produces. World’s Most Stressed Out Gardener offers more variety musically than ever before on one of his albums, but still has the same feel of the best of Chad VanGaalen’s work.

“Spider’s Milk” starts off World’s Most Stressed Out Gardener. With a collection of guitar, drums, mesmerizing vocals and other sounds such as fuzz pedal and warm bass melodies, the song transports into a place of contemplation. With lyrics such as “And I don’t know how It goes/On and on,” VanGaalen seems to be questioning the existence of life itself as he juxtaposes the music with characters that “Lived on the spider’s milk all summer.” A little after the halfway point the music picks up the pace and propels itself at a faster pace as reverb drenched vocals fill the void before slowing back down again. A short instrumental track called “Flute Peace” comes in next featuring a collection of Eastern sounding instrumentation from flutes, drums and acts as a brief interlude before “Starlight”. This track starts off with whirling sounding synthesizers, what sounds like wind chimes and birds before heavy bass and drum patterns arrive. This kaleidoscopic track features a psychedelic kraut rock influence, as VanGaalen’s trademark multi-layered reverb loaded vocals get hazy and infiltrate this track. He questions with words throughout the song such as “We’ll keep moving around it/Until we find our way/It doesn’t make sense but it makes way,” “And the light that becomes us is just feeding on fate.” This track is an example of Chad VanGaalen’s songwriting abilities and how they differ greatly from others. “Where’s It All Going?” is a laid back, calming song. With its airy acoustic folk dynamics and eerie vocal inflections, it delves into existentialism as it also features a darker character driven narrative combined with self reflective inner thoughts. “Earth From A Distance” is a longer floating instrumental piece that features sweeping synthesizers and is very cinematic sounding. This song would not sound out of place in an episode of Twin Peaks or in 2001: A Space Odyssey by Stanley Kubrick.

“Nightwaves” is a more upbeat garage track, featuring synthesizers and other Eastern sounds. The song lyrically scrolls into themes about the endless newsfeeds of social media and the emptiness that they induce. “Plant Music” is a lighter, yet still somehow disturbing instrumental track featuring stringed instruments, again dipping into the sonic spaces of Eastern music. “Nothing Is Strange” is an off kilter folk track in which VanGaalen’s voice is all warbly. Lyrically, with words such as “Turn up the radio I think we’re dead/And floating around like some ominous sound,” and “Don’t head to the hills when you hear the bells break/Cause there’s nothing you can do and there ain’t no escape,” VanGaalen portrays a dark, apocalyptic, end of the world setting in song. “Golden Pear” is another off kilter folk inspired track. With fuzzy guitar, field recording sounds, VanGaalen elicits an emotional response from the listener with surreal lyrics about a magical pear.

“Nightmare Scenario” is a feverish paranoid garage rock track that channels driving off beat rhythms about a character that is “Stressed out all the time when you should be feeling well,” that picks up at one point sounding influenced by Buffalo Springfield’s “Mr. Soul” before it trails off into another musical direction and world. “Samurai Sword” was the lead off single for World’s Most Stressed Out Gardener. This folk track is catchy and is about a missing sword and shows VanGaalen’s story telling abilities through song with words such as “It has a blade that has been tampered by the blood of the gods and a tiny little sticker of a dog,” and “Folded over a million times/By the lonely blacksmith that lives in the skies,” that in-between acoustic guitars and layered vocals, features VanGaalen playing copper plumbing pipes like a xylophone. The final track “Water Brother” transmits a neoclassical, cello heavy cinematic influence. Lyrically, the song ends the album in a haunting introspection with lyrics such as “Dear people/Are you satisfied with what became of all this chatter?” and “She was a healer of the spirit that lives in the water,” Chad VanGaalen ends World’s Most Stressed Out Gardener on a rich musical soundscape peppered with rhetorical questions reflecting what we could call a cosmic folk tale. Like his illustrations and animations, the songs that Chad VanGaalen creates capture a sense of something of the unknown, the otherworldly, visually and sonically. With World’s Most Stressed Out Gardener, Chad VanGaalen digs deep to show us a world that is dark, multifaceted and sonically captivating. 

Listen to Revolution Rock's interview with Chad VanGaalen:

Show 875 Playlist (Originally Aired On March 27th, 2021)(Chad VanGaalen Interview):

1.  TUNS - We Stand United
2.  Les Shirley - 23
3.  Painted Shrines - Not So Bad
4.  Clara O'Page - Wild Woman
5.  Willie Dunn - Son of the Sun
6.  Chad VanGaalen - Nightwaves
7.  Chad VanGaalen - Nightmare Scenario


8.  Chad VanGaalen - Samurai Sword
9.  Chad VanGaalen - Wind Driving Dogs


10. Chad VanGaalen - Mind Hijacker's Curse
11. Chad VanGaalen - Leaning On Bells
12. Chad VanGaalen - Nothing Is Strange
13. Serge Gainsbourg - Melody
14. Serge Gainsbourg - Ballade de Melody Nelson
15. Mike Krol - California
16. King Khan Unlimited - Bedwetter
17. The Cheetahs - The City Is Dead
18. Chang-A-Lang - Throwaway Litres
19. Trout - Easy Breezy
20. Kim Gray - Restless Legs
21. Knickers - Bored In The Supermarket
22. Kid Congo Powers & The Pink Monkey Birds -  Sean Delear
23. Chad VanGaalen - Where Are You?

Saturday, March 13, 2021

Patti Smith - Hey Joe/Piss Factory & Shows # 874, 873, 872

Prior to the release of Patti Smith’s 1974 single Hey Joe/Piss Factory, Smith was a poet and a rock music writer/critic. She had several collections of poetry published in 1972 (Seventh Heaven, Early Morning Dream, A Useless Death) and 1973 (Witt). Smith began performing her poetry accompanied by guitar. Lenny Kaye would provide the electric guitar at these readings, this eventually led to Smith performing rock music. On June 5th 1974, Patti Smith went into Electric Lady Studios and recorded two songs. The first was a version of the song “Hey Joe."  A song covered by many 60s garage bands and one that has a long complicated history. Many people know the version by The Leaves, Smith’s version differs greatly from other versions and draws on mostly on the version by Jimi Hendrix. It begins with a brief evocative introduction that was influenced by poet Arthur Rimbaud and is a lament about fugitive heiress Patty Hearst and her kidnapping. The song features lead guitar by Tom Verlaine (of New York band Television), guitar from Lenny Kaye and piano from Richard Sohl. With no drums or bass, the song evokes a beat poet-like performance as it switches the meaning of the original song around, portraying Hearst as “Joe” with the gun in her hand. Patti Smith makes this song her own as it challenges rock conventions with themes of female rebellion that can be read in many ways. It is subversive, it is different and it and exudes a proto punk aesthetic.

The B-side to this single is the longer track called “Piss Factory”. This song started as a poem that was written about a time when Smith worked at a baby buggy factory. "Piss Factory" is a longer freeform Beat poetry rant that musically features guitar from Kaye and piano from Sohl that musically operates as a jazz song of sorts. Lyrically, Smith tells the tale of a teenage dropout working at a factory in New Jersey. Said to be autobiographical, “Piss Factory” brings the gritty horrors of this job to life conjuring the heat, boredom, tension, despair, on the job politics, sexism, alienation and is unapologetic. Although there is much more to this song, it is impassioned and also shows a determination to strive for something better and to not let one bad experience ruin your own ambitions in life.  The Hey Joe/Piss Factory single was originally released independently via the band’s own label, Mer Records. The songs that make up Smith’s debut single are a precursor to the highly influential and critically acclaimed album Horses that would be released in 1975.  Patti Smith's influence is vast, long lasting and was not only an influential component on the New York punk movement of the late 70s, but also has influenced many others such as R.E.M., U2, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Sonic Youth, PJ Harvey, Martha Wainwright, Shirley Manson (of Garbage), and Orville Peck (to name a few) in the decades that followed. "Piss Factory" and "Hey Joe" are early examples of how Patti Smith would mix rock music with poetry to create something different, something new. These songs and others in Smith's catalogue are also testaments to why Patti Smith is known not only as "The Godmother of Punk", but also the "Punk Poet Laureate." 

Show 874 Playlist (Originally Aired On March 20th, 2020) (Dry Cleaning, The Fall, Danny Kroha, Leonard Cohen, Bill Calahan & Bonnie Prince Billy, Chad VanGaalen):

1.  Property! - In Gloom
2.  Dry Cleaning - Scratchcard Lanyard
3.  The Fall - Fit And Working Again (Live)
4.  The Stools - Life's Hard Lover
5.  Dishpit - Family Man
6.  Melvins - Bouncing Rick
7.  Channels - Airstrip One
8.  Coriky - Say Yes
9.  The Pink Noise - On Trial
10. Danny Kroha - Detroit Blues
11. Snake River - High Rides
12. Liquor Mountain - Hand Claw
13. Astral Swans - Tokyo
14. La Luz - Black Hole, Weirdo Shrine (Live)
15. Kairos Creature Club - Voodoo Success
16. U.S. Girls - Junkyard (Birthday Party Cover)
17. Virgo Rising - Sleep In Yr Jeans
18. Elephants and Dogs - Damned If I Do
19. Leanne Betasamosake -Simpson I Pity The Country (Willy Dunn Cover)
20. Leonard Cohen - Diamonds In The Mine
21. Leonard Cohen - Famous Blue Raincoat
22. Leonard Cohen - Love Calls You By Your Name
23. Chad VanGaalen - Night Waves
24. Sliver Jews - Random Rules
25. Bill Callahan & Bonnie Prince Billy feat. Cassie Berman - Wild Silence
26. Bill Callahan & Bonnie Prince Billy feat. Cooper Crain - I Want To Go To The Beach
27. Paul Jacobs - Underneath The Roses

To hear this program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and click the March 20 file to download/stream the episode.

Show 873 International Women's Day 2021 Playlist (Originally Aired On March 13th, 2021)(Patti Smith, Essential Logic, The Weather Station, Maow):

1.  Patti Smith - Piss Factory (Land (1975-2002) - Arista Records  - 2002)
2.  Patti Smith - Break It Up (Horses - Arista Records - 1975
3.  Patti Smith Group - Pumping (My Heart) (Radio Ethiopia - Arista Records - 1976)
4.  Patti Smith Group - High On Rebellion (Easter - Arista Records - 1978)
5.  Essential Logic - Aerosol Burns (Fanfare In The Garden - Kill Rock Stars - 2003)
6.  Essential Logic - Music Is A Better Noise (Fanfare In The Garden - Kill Rock Stars - 2003)
7.  Red Krayola - Born In Flames (Fanfare In The Garden - Kill Rock Stars - 2003)
8.  Pylon - Stop It (Gyrate - DB Records - 1980)
9.  The Weather Station - The Robber (Ignorance - Fat Possum Records - 2021)
10. J.R. - PAL (J.R. EP - 2019)
11. Julien Baker - Heatwave (Little Oblivions - Matador - 2021)
12. Honshu Wolves - AHA (Cosmic Creature Capture - Voodoo Rhythm Records - 2021)
13. Lie - Good Boy (You Want It Real - Mint Records - 2020)
14. Energy Slime - It's Cold (It's Cold - Mint Records - 2017)
15. Peach Kelli Pop - Cut Me Off (Lucky Star EP - Mint Records - 2020)
16. Necking - Big Mouth (Cut Your Teeth - Mint Records - 2019)
17. Maow - Sucker (The Unforgiving Sounds of Maow - Mint Records - 1996)
18. Lungbutter - Solar (Honey - Constellation Records - 2019)
19. Switches - Stole All My Stuff (I Just Wanna - 2014)
20. Cub - Everything's Geometry (Come Out Come Out - Mint Records - 1995)
21. The Shiverettes - Dark Cycle (The Sled Island Lemonade Stand Vol 1 - 2020)
22. Moe Tucker - Fired Up (Single Version) (I Feel So Far Away Anthology - Sundazed Records - 2012)
23. Patti Smith Group - Frederick (Wave - Arista Records - 1979)
24. Patti Smith - People Have The Power (Dream Of Life - Arista Records - 1988)
25. Patti Smith - Beneath The Southern Cross (Gone Again - Arista Records - 1996)
26. Patti Smith - Banga (Banga - Columbia Records - 2012)

To hear this program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and click the March 13 file to download/stream the episode.

Show 872 Playlist (Originally Aired On March 6th, 2021)(Kafadan Kontak Records, Cloud Nothings, Murder Records, Sloan, PJ Harvey, Nick Cave & Warren Ellis):

1.  The Painkillers - Tomorrow
2.  Cruzer - Living In Crud
3.  Lame Brain - Down, Down To Goblin Town 
4.  Los Cowabungas - El-Ciclope 
5.  Whitney K - Trans Canada Oil Boom Blues 
6.  Crack Cloud - Image Craft 
7.  Black Country, New Road - Science Fair 
8.  Kiwi Jr. - Tyler 
9.  The Hard Liquors - Absinthe
10. Paul Leary - Born Stupid
11. Rick White - Lucky For Me 
12. Sloan - Underwhelmed (Original Hear & Now Version) 
13. The Hold Steady - Family Farm 
14. TV Freaks - Living Wrong
15. Cloud Nothings - The Mess Is Permanent 
16. Cloud Nothings - The Spirit Of 
17. Jeff Rosenstock - Hey Allison 
18. Thrush Hermit - The Ugly Details 
19. The Super Friendz - Come Clean 
20. Certain Someones - Certain Someones 
21. Sloan - Stood Up (1995 Single Version) 
22. Nick Cave & Warren Ellis - Old Time
23. PJ Harvey - C'Mon Billy (Demo) 
24. PJ Harvey - The Mess We're In (Demo) 
25. Blessed - Structure 
26. The Pointed Sticks - All That Matters (Live San Francisco 12-15-1979)
27. Souvenir - Heavy Weather
28. PRIORS - Fox Force Five 
29. Psychic Void - Wash It Down 

To hear this program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and click the March 6 file to download/stream the episode.

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Revolution Surf 2021 & Show # 871

Surf rock is known for its reverb drenched guitar sounds and solos, drums and relation to surf culture. Starting in the 60s it has since infiltrated several genres of music. But, Western surf music or surf music with Wild West elements is kind of hard to pinpoint. You could go back to the early days of the Spaghetti Western movies and more specifically the films of Sergio Leone, which featured music from Oscar winning Italian film music composer Ennio Morricone. He often created epic, cinematic soundscapes in Western films incorporating elements of surf rock, along with other genres such as country as well as unconventional sound effects at the time. The music that he created for Sergio Leone’s Spaghetti Western films are iconic. He used elements of surf music, combined with horns, acoustic guitar, Spanish guitar, 60s inspired psychedelic and fuzz guitar, all mixed together. He created a mood that would suit whatever scene it was accompanying in the movie. Morricone who passed in 2020, couldn’t have predicted the influence that his music from this time period would have on rock, indie rock, surf music and other genres of music. The soundtracks to the Dollars Trilogy (Fistful of Dollars, A Few Dollars More and The Good, The Bad & The Ugly) have gone on to influence music in unexpected ways. Just listening to the theme music to The Good, The Bad & The Ugly separate from the movie is quite moving. When combined with the film, it creates an even greater effect on the viewer/listener. Of course, this wasn’t the only type of music Morricone would create when combining music for films. With approximately 500 film scores to his name, other films such as Once Upon A Time In The West, The Thing, The Untouchables, Cinema Paradiso, and The Hateful Eight are just some of the great film scores he created during his lifetime. With Morricone’s music, it's something you need to experience to grasp the full effect. However, surf music or surf guitar finds its way into all kinds of music nowadays it seems. But, Western themed surf music basically has elements of country mixed in with it.

The Ventures are a very well known surf rock/instrumental band. Known as “The band that launched a thousand bands,” their innovation and instrumental abilities have not gone unnoticed. In fact for last year's episode of Revolution Surf, we mentioned their experimentation with the space themed surf/instrumental genre. The band had its beginnings in the late 50s, 1958 to be exact. Bob Bogle first met Don Wilson in 1958 at a car dealership of all places, and after finding they had a common interest in music they decided to form a band. They then added Nokie Edwards on bass and Skip Moore on drums. Bob Bogle initially was the lead guitarist, but would switch to bass when Nokie joined the group, Don Wilson was on rhythm guitar. Nokie Edwards guitar playing and style is heard all over The Ventures early records. Having played numerous versions of Top 40 hits of the day reworked in their own style, in 1963 The Ventures released an album of instrumental/surf based country songs called Play Country Classics. On this album the band tears through country classics such as “I Walk The Line”, “Wildwood Flower”, “Lovesick Blues”, “Oh, Lonesome.”  This is just one of the over two hundred and fifty albums that have been released by The Ventures, starting with 1960’s Walk Don’t Run.

These are not the only examples of Western themes appearing in surf music or vice versa. Toronto’s The Sadies have blended garage, surf, country and folk in their music as well. Starting with their first album, 1998’s Precious Moments, The Sadies blended elements of Ennio Morricone, The Ventures, country, folk and rock. Songs such as “Dying Is Easy”, “Seventy-Six”, “Clear A Path”, “Cheat”, “Wagon Wheel”, alongside tracks such as “Pretty Polly”, “Cowhand” and “Little Sadie” all exemplified an aesthetic that The Sadies would explore. This was just the beginning for the band who have now not only released numerous albums of their own, but have also provided backing music for artists such as Andre Williams, Gord Downie, Jon Langford, John Doe and Neko Case to name a few. They have since expanded their sound incorporating elements of surf, country, folk, garage and psychedelic country aesthetics into their sounds. Albums such as Stories Often Told, Pure Diamond Gold, Favourite Colours, New Seasons, Darker Circles and Northern Passages are all good examples of this. Their albums and live shows are something not to miss. Wherever the origins of surf music combining with country, folk and other genres to have Western or Wild West themes originates from, the music is ubiquitous.

Revolution Surf Wild West Playlist (Originally Aired On February 27th, 2021):

1.  The Sandblasters - Tarantula Taco (Space Bar-B-Q - Mostly Harmless Music - 1996)
2.  The Reverb Syndicate - A Shadow Descends on a Dusty Town (Mondo Cacti - The Reverb Syndicate - 2011)
3.  The Reverb Syndicate - Six Shooter Shuffle (Mondo Cacti - The Reverb Syndicate - 2011)
4.  Monaci Del Surf - Lo Chiamavano Trinita (Monachai Del Surf - Inri - 2012)
5.  Twin Tones - Agua De Coyote (Agua De Coyote Single - Devil In The Woods - 2020)
6.  Beach Bomb - Dunkelheit (Dunkelheit - 2020)
7.  Spindrift - Speak To The Wind (The Legend of God's Gun - Tee Pee Records - 2020)
8.  The Bradipos IV - Titoli (A Fistful of Dollars) (For a few Guitars  (A Tribute To Morricone's Spaghetti Western Themes) - Dancing Bear - 2002)
9.  Charades - The Rider (Cool Cool Japan Soundtrack - GTJ - 2020)
10. Trabants - Train To Durango (Nel Cuore Di Una Terra Selvaggia - Lolipop Records - 2018)
11. Huevos Rancheros - The Lonely Bull (Muerte del Toro - Mint Records - 2000)
12. Atomic 7 - Stab and Steer It (En Hillbilly Caliente - Mint Records - 2004)
13. Les Jaguars - Appalaches (Appalaches - Disques Francbec/Disques Merite - 1996)
14. Urban Surf Kings - Cowboy X (Bang Howdy Partner - USK International - 2008)
15. Rev Hank - San Cristobel Showdown (El Camino De Los Muertos - Reverb Ranch - 2020)
16. Ramblin' Ambassadors - Standoff At Calfrobe Bridge (Ramble On - Mint Records - 2012)
17. The Catamounts - Six Shooters At High Tide (Nuomatac - Transdigital 66 - 2016)


18. CARLO - John Steele (CARLO - 2018)
19. Les Guitares Du Diable - Galaxie (Le Teenage Party - Philips - 1963)
20. The Zombrain - A Saga de Cavaleiro Noturno (Surfin' at Bauru River - Tudo Muda Music - 2020)
21. The Reverb Syndicate Theme - To Mondo Cacti (Mondo Cacti - The Reverb Syndicate - 2011)
22. Mystery Action - Spaghetti Western Suite (Surf Mix) (Surf Britannia 2 - Sharawaji Records - 2020) 
23. Twin Tones - Condado de Ladrones (Capello Di Mariachi - T-Vox Records - 2008)

24. The Losers - Snake Eyes Surf Age Nuggets (Trash & Twang Instrumentals 1959-1966 - RockBeat Records - 2012)
25. Link Wray - Deuces Wild Early Recordings (Early Recordings/Good Rockin' Tonight - Ace - 2015)
26. Luau or Die - Western Promises (Dead on the Floor Vol. 3 - 2017)
27. Los Plantronics - Bobby Peru (The Worst is Yet to Come (1995-2017) - Jansen Plateproduksjon - 2017)
28. The Ventures - Squaw Man (In The Vaults Vol 1. - Ace - 1999)
29. C & C Surf Factory - Don't Blame the Buclkle if the Belt's Too Tight (Garage City - Six-Shooter Records - 2015)
30. Secret Agent - Desert Mission (Mata Hari EP - Olare Records - 2019)
31. The Tremelo Beer Gut - Diablo Mountain Sunrise (Under the Influence of... - Crunchy Frog - 2000)
32. Los Plantronics - The Good The Bad & The Ugly (The Worst is Yet to Come (1995-2017) - Jansen Plateproduksjon - 2017)

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Women's Public Strain & Other Music: An Interview With Patrick Flegel & Michael Wallace & Show # 870

In September 2010, the Calgary band Women released their second and final album Public Strain. Recorded in the dead of winter in Calgary, Alberta with Chad VanGaalen over a ten-month period, the album sessions were tense. In terms of sound, Public Strain helped identify a voice for the musicians in the band. With comparisons to bands such as Caribou, The Velvet Underground, Deerhoof and Abe Vigoda, Women shaped a sonic depth with their sound that explored elements of post punk with noise rock. It features darker more jarring sounds, while at the same time pop sensibilities lurk beneath. Experimentation also runs deep within this album, while comparisons can be made to other bands, Women often veer off from that moving into unexplored territory. Public Strain creates a certain mood that you can feel with every listen.

“Can’t You See” opens in a haze of guitar feedback as melodic bass from Matthew Flegel plucks its way through the screeching drones, bowed guitars from Chris Reimer, cello and haunting, yet poppy vocals provided by vocalist/guitarist Patrick Flegel. The atmosphere created here is darker, moody and often referred to as a nocturnal ballad. It contrasts pop elements with more dissonant and experimental ones. “Heat Distraction” is the opposite of the opening track. With its bright guitar interplay and deep bass tones that seem to sink below all the instrumentation, this track has several different time signatures that shift from one form to another seamlessly. The drums from Michael Wallace drive this track as Patrick Flegel and guitarist Chris Reimer sing in abstract lyrics such as “Programmed without form/Programmed without sound” and “Austere known your pen/Throats inside of glass/Hanging next to me” that further adds to the mood of this track and album. “Narrow With The Hall” features clouds of feedback with eerie vocals that float on top. 60s sounding bass melodies jump in with marching drums as the guitar feedback switches forms. The harmonies provided by the Flegel’s on this track were compared to bands such as The Zombies while the track was once described in Pitchfork as producing “a unique, gray-paisley vibe-- the sound of vintage psychedelia bleached of its color.”

“Penal Colony” brings in more pop melodies that rise to the surface as ringing guitar, subtle drums and cello rise and fall slowly in the background. This track adds touches of psychedelia as well into the mix. The sounds of The Velvet Underground and Syd Barrett come to mind when hearing this, but it is its own thing. With lyrics such as “Faces start to blend/Meet a sudden end/And you're gone completely/I know that it's hard to go” the song seems to pull from a personal feeling of exile. “Bells” is an instrumental interlude of sorts. It is a drone heavy, noisy ballad that builds tension and ambiance. “China Steps” arrives with drums where you can hear the squeak of the pedal as bass and two opposing guitars attack the sonic air. About halfway through after a heavy song transition, the vocals come in. Drawing comparisons to 80s Sonic Youth, “China Steps” treads through its sonic landscape never afraid to move forward. “Untogether” features unnerving, disorienting melodies with more experimental indie rock sounds, while “Drag Open” is a visceral onslaught of guitar, bass, drums and feedback. The middle section of the song changes pace, like a change of wind direction. As the song slows down, the song builds up tension, mood and trails off in hazy sounds.

The mid-tempo “Locust Valley” arrives next. The memorable guitar melodies float in between the bass and drums. With krautrock dynamics and unmistakable vocal melodies, it moves with urgency. This is also one of two songs that reference American artist Ray Johnson. Johnson was a seminal figure in Neo-dada and Pop Art who was referred to as “New York’s most famous unknown artist”. Locust Valley is the town Johnson lived in New York State. Women also referenced Johnson on their 2008 debut album with their song “Sag Harbor Bridge”, which was the place of Johnson’s death. “Venice Lockjaw” arrives next. Another highlight among the often experimental and noisy post punk sounds found on Public Strain, this song adds further psychedelic, paisley beauty as it contrasts the music with darker lyrics. The term “Venice Lockjaw” once again refers to artist Ray Johnson, who handed out pins with this term at an art exhibition in Venice in 1990.

“Eyesore” ends Public Strain. With jangly guitars, syrupy basslines and compelling drums, this is the longest track on the album. With words such as “Spill and heat consume both of the lights/They were flashing white and ecru pale” and “I just could not/Tell against your will/Give out your number now,” the lyrics evoke a feeling that is open to interpretation (like many moments on the album) that resemble some similarities to the lyrical style of David Bowie’s Low album. Public Strain ends in a fade out. Throughout this album, there is a contrast between noise, dissonance, psychedelia and pop melodies. Each track offers something that sounds new and fresh with each listen. As a whole it creates a mood that surrounds you that is hard to resist. The lyrical content of Public Strain has been described as cycling “through insomnia, paranoia, resignation and euphoria, to capture a band with an undeniable voice coming into full awareness of their craft.” And while the lyrics are often darker and compliment the at times brooding music, Public Strain is more than just a dark record. Throughout the walls of noise and experimentation, there is something hard to define. Even after ten years of its initial release, Public Strain burns with a passion and intensity that is timeless.

Women toured heavily from 2008-2009 prior to Public Strain’s release in support of their 2008 album Women. They also toured in support of Public Strain, but that tour was cut short in October 2010. Following a show that occurred in October 2010 in Victoria BC, Women stopped playing as a band. The band members went their separate ways. Bassist Matthew Flegel and drummer Michael Wallace went on to form the band Viet Cong (before changing their name to Preoccupations), guitarist/vocalist Patrick Flegel would continue creating music eventually creating music as Cindy Lee and Christopher Reimer joined the band The Dodos as their touring guitarist while collaborating and creating music until he passed away in his sleep unexpectedly in 2012. In 2020, Flemish Eye and Jagjaguwar announced a reissue of Public Strain along with an EP of outtakes and rare tracks called Rarities 2007-2010 in celebration of the album’s 10th anniversary.

Grab a copy of Public Strain from Flemish Eye or Jagjaguwar.

Support Patrick Flegel’s latest project Cindy Lee here.

Listen to Revolution Rock interview with Patrick Flegel (of Cindy Lee/Women):

Listen to Revolution Rock's interview with Michael Wallace (of Preoccupations/Women):

Public Strain Playlist (Originally Aired On February 20th, 2020):

1.  Women - Pinky (CBC Radio 3 Session) (CBC Radio 3 Session - January 2010)
2.  Women - Drag Open (Public Strain - Flemish Eye/Jagjaguwar - 2010)
3.  Women - Locust Valley (Public Strain - Flemish Eye/Jagjaguwar - 2010)
4.  Women - Bullfight (Live Session) (CJSW Live Session 2010)


5.  Chris Reimer - Mustard Gas (Hello People - Flemish Eye - 2018)
6.  Preoccupations - Pointless Experience (Viet Cong - Flemish Eye/Jagjaguwar - 2015)
7.  Preoccupations - Zodiac (Preoccupations - Flemish Eye/Jagjaguwar - 2016)
8.  Cindy Lee - I Want You To Suffer (What's Tonight to Eternity - W.25TH / Superior Viaduct - 2020)
9.  Cindy Lee - Bondage Of The Mind (Cat O' Nine Tails - CCQSK Records - 2020)


10. Chris Reimer - First Cut/TV Water (The Chad Tape - Flemish Eye - 2012)
11. Chris Reimer - Waving Goodbye From A Tree (Hello People - Flemish Eye - 2018)
12. Preoccupations - Unconscious Melody (Cassette - Mexican Summer - 2013/Flemish Eye/Jagjaguwar - 2017)
13. Cindy Lee - The Promise of Lonliness (Tatlashea - Isolated Now Waves - 2012)


14. Women - Eyesore (Public Strain - Flemish Eye/Jagjaguwar - 2010)
15. Women - Penal Colony (Public Strain - Flemish Eye/Jagjaguwar - 2010)


16. Women - Service Animal (Rarities 2007-2010 - Flemish Eye/Jagjaguwar - 2020)

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Junior Murvin's Police & Thieves & Show # 869

Jamaican musician Junior Murvin is perhaps best known for his song “Police & Thieves”, however he started his career recording under the name Junior Soul.  Influenced by Curtis Mayfield as a youth, Murvin first began performing live in Montego Bay, but then after his family relocated to Kingston.  He would audition for producer Lee “Scratch” Perry and Coxsone Todd.  His audition was unsuccessful, but this didn’t deter Murvin.  He had minor hit for the Crystal label in Jamaica with his song “Solomon” in 1972.  He also wrote songs for artists such as Derrick Harriott and Keith & Tex.  Performing in Kingston hotels and tourist hotels, Murvin also played with The Hippy Boys, The Mighty Falcons and The Tornadoes.  Following a second audition for legendary and innovative producer Lee “Scratch” Perry at his Black Ark Studio in 1976, the two decided to record his song “Police & Thieves”. With Perry’s studio backing band The Upsetters and a small lyrical adjustment, the song was recorded by Perry and released shortly afterwards. Reportedly improvised as The Upsetters performed the music, dub and remix versions done by Perry quickly followed. However, the song about police brutality, gang war and societal unrest, became a hit in Jamaica. 

The album Police & Thieves, which contained the song of the same name, was released through Island Records in 1977.  The album, often viewed as one of the best produced albums to come out of Perry’s Black Ark Studio, is now seen as a classic album that dug deep into elements of roots reggae.  The overall feel of the album is also heavily seeped in soul influences.  Murvin’s falsetto vocal often rises above the music, operating in conjunction with the socially conscious lyrics.  The opening track “Roots Train” blends roots reggae and soul with infectious, dance inducing rhythms.  With lyrics such as “You gotta be righteous/You gotta be clean in thought, word, and deed/To get on board the train”, Murvin sets the tone for this album with its rich soulful, reggae elements in combination with lyrics drawing on spiritual salvation and signaling positivity in a sea of negativity.  “Solomon” is a reworking of Murvin’s earlier hit.  This version, with its soulful horn sections and heavy bass and drums, captivates the listener.  “Tedious” is pulsating with its burning dub rhythms as the lyrics urge for unity in a land that is divided.   Like many of the songs created during this time period, they were often reflections of the ongoing struggles of the common people in Jamaica.  Crime, corruption and political related issues ran rampant.   Socially conscious lyrics run not only throughout the Police & Thieves album, but throughout the music that was created by Junior Murvin's career.  Other tracks such as “Lucifer” has drawn comparisons to Max Romeo’s “Chase The Devil”, with its heavy lyrical weight and even deeper bass and drum grooves that compliment this darker track in a distinctive way.  “Workin’ In the Cornfield” contrasts the hard working individual with the wealthy.  

With its lyrical context and mesmerizing music complemented by Lee “Scratch” Perry’s use of space and innovation, Police & Thieves was destined to become a landmark album for roots reggae music. Throughout all the tracks on Murvin’s debut, the songs captivate as they search for hope in bleakness. It’s not hard to see why this album works so well. But, the story doesn’t end there. In addition to the album, the single “Police & Thieves” would receive an even bigger response in the UK. It became a club hit there. The song became an anthem with the disenfranchised black community in the UK when the Noting Hill Carnival broke out in a riot in 1976. The song was then covered by The Clash. The band's Joe Strummer and Paul Simonon were involved in the riots and inspired to cover the song. Murvin’s version was re-released as a single in 1980 climbing the Top 40 UK singles charts to number 23. “Police & Thieves” appeared in the 1978 movie Rockers by Theodoros Bafaloukos and in Guy Ritchie’s Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels in 1998. It was also re-recorded several times by Murvin, in addition to being covered by other artists that were inspired either by his or the version done by The Clash.

Two other songs of note that were recorded with Lee “Scratch” Perry were the songs “Bad Weed” and “Philistines On The Land”. These songs along with their B-sides used similar rhythms to “Police & Thieves”. But, the two would never record another album together again. Throughout his career Murvin worked with a number of different producers such as Joe Gibbs and Errol Thompson in 1979 for the single “Cool Out Son”, Henry “Junjo” Lawes for the 1984 album Muggers In The Streets, Prince Jammy and King Tubby.  The song “Cool Out Son” was later featured on the soundtrack to the Skate 3 video game in 2010.  In 1982, Murvin worked with reggae musician Mikey Dread. With Dread at the controls, he produced the album Bad Man Possee, which delved even further into dub rhythms. Murvin continued making music throughout his life. He released eight full-length albums and many singles. The music always retained that soulful, roots reggae influence balanced with a social consciousness that resonated with audiences.

Punky Reggae Party Playlist (Originally Aired On February 13th, 2020):  

1.  Junior Murvin - Police & Thieves (Police & Thieves - Island Records - 1977)
2.  Big Youth - Screaming Target (Screaming Target - Trojan Records - 1972)
3.  Mikey Dread - Love The Dread (Dread At The Controls - Trojan Records - 1979)
4.  Bob Marley - Punky Reggae Party (Jamming/Punky Reggae Party Single - Island Records - 1977)
5.  Desmond Dekker & The Aces - Israelites (Israelites - Pyramid - 1968)
6.  Charley Pride - The Snakes Crawl At Night (Country Charlie Pride - RCA Victor - 1966)
7.  Brent & Harry - Foolin' Around (16 Great Country Songs by 16 Great Canadian Country Artists - Banff - 1963)
8.  Brent Williams - Saginaw, Michigan (On The Go - Paragon - 1970)
9.  Brent Williams - Anybody Goin' To San Antone (On The Go - Paragon - 1970)
10. George "Wild Child" Butler - Open Up Baby (Open Up Baby/Big Momma, Little Momma Single - Jewel Records - 1967/Open Up Baby - Charly R&B - 1985)
11. Little Walter - Just A Feeling (Teenage Beat/Just A Feeling Single - Checker Records - 1955)
12. Sister Rosetta Tharpe - Rock Me (Rock Me/Lonesome Road Single - Brunswick - 1938)
13. Lee "Scratch" Perrty - Roast Fish & Corn Bread (Roast Fish, Collie Weed, and Corn Bread - Lion of Judah - 1978)
14. Max Romeo - I Chase The Devil (War Ina Babylon - Island Records - 1976)
15. Burning Spear - Marcus Garvey (Marcus Garvey - Island Records - 1975)
16. U-Roy - Chalice In The Palace (Dread In A Babylon - TR International/Virgin Records - 1975)
17. Rough Francis - Waxed Curb (Urgent Care - 2020)
18. Big Joanie - Baby Rust (Crooked Room EP - Sistah Punk Records - 2016)
19. JONCRO - Degenerates (Lions Den Session - 2020)
20. JONCRO - Bunununus Riddim (Dub Plate) (Bunununus Riddim (Dub Plate) Single - 2020)
21. Culture - Two Sevens Clash (Two Sevens Clash - Joe Gibbs Record Globe - 1977)
22. Dr. Alimantado - Born For A Purpose (Born For A Purpose/Reason For Living Single - Ital Sounds - 1977)
23. Augustus Pablo - King Tubby Meets the Rockers Uptown (King Tubby Meets the Rockers Uptown - Yard International/Clock Tower Records - 1976)
24. Toots & The Maytals - Monkey Man (Sweet And Dandy - Beverley's Records - 1969)
25. Un Blonde - Spine (Un Blonde EP - Yew Nork - 2013)
26. Yves Jarvis - Victim Sundry Rock Song Stock (Victim Sundry Rock Song Stock - Flemish Eye - 2020)
27. OGBMs - Ousah (The Ends - Black Box Recordings - 2020)
28. OGBMs - Not Again (The Ends - Black Box Recordings - 2020)