Pere Ubu – Final Solution / Cloud 149 (1975)

“It’s difficult to believe that ‘Final Solution,’ the A-side of Pere Ubu’s second self-released single, was recorded in 1975; no one back then was making music that sounded like it, and for that matter, very few bands in Ubu’s wake did either. It wasn’t so much the sound of the future as it was a distressed, twisted reflection of the band’s immediate environment. Sometimes absurdist, sometimes harsh and chilling, ‘Final Solution’ — like much of Ubu’s early music — was essentially the sound of the bleak industrial wasteland that was Cleveland, OH, in the ’70s. It was also the sound of the alienated misfits who lived there — singer David Thomas’ character in the song is ugly, unbalanced, and seeking escape and release in rock & roll. Despite the title, ‘Final Solution’ was never intended to evoke memories of the Holocaust; it was actually Thomas’ play on a Sherlock Holmes story called The Final Problem. When some later punk bands employed Nazi imagery for shock value, Ubu dropped the number from their repertoire to avoid any confusion. It’s debatable as to whether the lyrics of ‘Final Solution’ even support a reading that dark. On the one hand, its angst sounded so frantic and claustrophobic, and the dissonant noise of the band so furious, that it was easy to hear suicidal implications in the song’s title and chorus. …”
Genius – Final Solution (Audio), Cloud 149 (Audio)
YouTube: Final Solution, Cloud 149

Glenn Branca – The Ascension (1981)

“If one chooses to categorize the music on this recording as ‘rock,’ this is surely one of the greatest rock albums ever made. But there’s the rub. While sporting many of the trappings of the genre — the instrumentation (electric guitars), the rhythms, the volume, and, most certainly, the attitude — there is much about The Ascension that doesn’t fit comfortably into the standard definition of the term. Not only does the structure of the compositions appear to owe more to certain classical traditions, including Romanticism, than the rock song form, but Branca‘s overarching concern is with the pure sound produced, particularly of the overtones created by massed, ‘out of tune,’ excited strings and the ecstatic quality that sound can engender in the listener. Though his prior performing experience was with post-punk, no-wave groups like the Static and Theoretical Girls, it could be argued that the true source of much of the music here lies in the sonic experimentation of deep-drone pioneers like La Monte Young and Phil Niblock. Happily, the music is accessible enough that one can jump right in, regardless of one’s direction of approach. Branca‘s band, unlike some of his later enormous ensembles, is relatively modest (four guitars, bass guitar, and drums), so the sound is comparatively clear and each member’s contributions may be easily discerned. The chiming notes that begin ‘The Spectacular Commodity’ are allowed to hover in the air, awash in overtones, before being subsumed into a rolling groove that picks up more and more intensity as guitar chords cascade one atop another, threatening to, but never succeeding in, toppling the whole affair. ‘Structure’ plays with sonic torque, whipsawing between two differently stressed voicings of the same theme, pulling them back and forth like taffy.  …”
allmusic (Audio)
W – The Ascension
Discogs (Video)
Soundcloud: The Spectacular Commodity (Excerpt)
YouTube: The Ascension 1981 (Full LP) 42:11

Jacob Miller – Healing Of The Nation (1978)

“Jacob Miller returns yet again to one of his favorite themes, the legalization of ganja for ‘Healing of the Nation’. This time around he addresses himself directly to the Jamaican government, with a series of respectful and well reasoned arguments. ‘You no fight against the rum-man, you no fight against the wine-man, you no fight against the cigarette smoking, yet you know, yes you know, these things give cancer.’ Instead, the Jamaican government expends vast amount of   resources chasing down and jailing the colliemen, when in fact, according to Miller, collie cures cancer. There’s little, if any research, to support that claim, but still the singer has a case to make  when he declares that an end to criminalization would bring about a healing of the nation. …”
W – Jacob Miller
Discogs (Video)
YouTube: Healing Of The Nation / Dub

Return of the Cold Crush: Charlie Chase on the Early Days of Hip-Hop

“Hip-hop’s birth on the streets of the Bronx is a well-documented moment in New York’s musical history. In the late 1970s, DJ Kool Herc isolated the drum break; Grand Master Flash turned art into science with the ‘quick-mix theory;’ stumbling upon the scratch, Grand Wizzard Theodore gave the genre its signature sound, then, in 1982, Afrika Bambaaata took the whole world to ‘Planet Rock.’ Those are the broad strokes. However, many of the music’s earliest pioneers receive less recognition than they deserve. As a fearsome crate-digger, block-rocking DJ and founding member of the legendary Cold Crush Brothers, Charlie Chase is one such character. This interview, which took place in 1998, began in Chase’s modest, record-strewn Bronx home. While there, he handed me a tape of his most recent labor of love: a version of Cold Crush’s 1981 battle with Theodore’s crew, the Fantastic Romantic Five. The vocals, Chase explained, were remastered from a fourth – or fifth – generation cassette, and all the music had been painstakingly re-recorded – a process that involved more than 8,000 individual edits. …”
Red Bull Music Academy Daily (Video)

New York Rocker

New York Rocker published 54 issues between 1976 and 1982. They had a small staff, no more than a half-dozen full-time at most. The peak of its circulation was around 35,000 copies a month. But as they say, it was incredibly influential. And more than being influential, it was just a great paper. And it still is, if you can find the back issues. The writing is excellent, the tone is smart and punchy, and it’s also deadly serious. They covered national stuff really well but also managed to stay really hyper-local. Especially as the paper went on, its correspondents weren’t just fans active in their own cities and scenes, but also fans of a truly remarkable breed. In one issue, there’s a photo of a Sex Pistols gig, and the photo credit is ‘Steven Morrissey,’ who ran the band’s fan club. Another issue has scene reports from Cleveland credited to James Jarmusch. In 1981, they gave R.E.M. their first national press which allowed the band to trademark its name. Time and time again, they were on top of things, in a totally sincere, uncynical, and self-aware way. They charted what’s now blurrily called American indie rock, but they also had a pretty major hand in inventing it. It’s a really dated name now, New York Rocker. …”
NY Rocker
New York Rocker: The Covers (1976 – 1982)
W – New York Rocker
amazon: New York Rocker

Crazy Rhythms – The Feelies (1980)

“The Feelies formed as a four-man rock band in a New Jersey suburb whose biggest 20th century shakeup was a textile strike. They wrote some original material and learned a couple of Beatles songs. They took their show 20 miles southeast to Hoboken, drove to Manhattan under the Hudson River, tucked in their shirts, pushed their glasses up on their nosebridges, and unleashed a kind of hypnotic punk-lite so buttoned up that it sounds choked– like they counted to four and grabbed an electric fence. Did I say the Feelies are a rock band? I misspoke. They’re a particle collider. Crazy Rhythms, their 1980 debut, has none of the attitudinal markings of rock– no looseness, no swing, no danger, no laughs. Its cover– a band portrait on a sky-blue void, echoed 14 years later on Weezer’s ‘blue album’ — is bland and eerie. It looks like a misplaced rendering of four boys whose closest contact with rock music came from fixing radios. The title of the album appears as some innovative form of non-joke. …”
W – Crazy Rhythms
W – The Feelies
allmusic (Audio)
Discogs (Video)
YouTube: Crazy Rhythms (Live)
YouTube: Crazy Rhythms” – Full Album 10 videos

The Flying Lizards – Money (1979)

“The Flying Lizards were an experimental English new wave band, formed in 1976. They are best known for their deliberately eccentric cover version of Barrett Strong‘s ‘Money‘ featuring Deborah Evans-Stickland on lead vocals, which reached the UK and US record charts in 1979. The group disbanded in 1984. Formed and led by record producer David Cunningham, the group was a loose collective of avant-garde and free improvising musicians, such as David Toop and Steve Beresford as instrumentalists, with Deborah Evans-Stickland, Patti Palladin and Vivien Goldman as main vocalists. In August 1979 the band appeared twice on BBC’s Top of the Pops performing their hit single ‘Money (That’s What I Want)‘. They also appeared in February 1980 performing follow up single ‘TV’. Virgin Records extended the band’s recording contract after the success of ‘Money’. The group released their début album The Flying Lizards in 1980. The album included two songs – ‘Her Story’ and ‘The Window’ – written and sung by Goldman. Their single issues included their postmodern cover versions of songs such as Eddie Cochran‘s ‘Summertime Blues’ and ‘Money’.  …”
W – The Flying Lizards
Discogs (Video)
YouTube: Money