Mars – The Complete Studio Recordings NYC 1977-1978

“There’s a section in Marc Masters’ excellent No Wave book that lists the bellicose reactions to Mars from the late-’70s music press. New York Rocker’s Andy Schwartz rallies against the ‘total absence of any human feeling save a kind of neurotic violence,’ while an anonymous critic declares them ’empty and arty.’ But the vacuous barbarity of the Mars sound is exactly what made them tick. They were a band perfectly capturing the essence of downtown New York while living in the belly of a bankrupted city. This album collects all 11 studio recordings the band made during its two-year lifespan. Mars resolutely practiced a brand of nonmusic that was atonal, out of standard tune, and leaned heavily on unconventional song structure. For a band that started from a deliberately limited palate, it’s fascinating to hear how they slowly chipped away at their influences. The key to Mars was to devolve, not evolve. …”
W – Mars
YouTube: The Complete Studio Recordings NYC 1977-1978Z, Live At Irving Plaza, Live, Live At Artists Space, 78+


Bush Tetras – Too Many Creeps / You Can’t Be Funky (1980)

“… ‘From our English shores, the sound of Bush Tetras was both jarring and warming,’ says [Hugo] Burnham. ‘Jarring because, well, it just was. And warming to my ears because Pat’s guitar playing was not a million miles away from our own angry, sonically annoying, percussive, nasty-funk playing [Gang of Four guitarist] Andy Gill. Like minds—how exciting. And women, too. OK, that’s not such a big deal today, but right then it was a bonus, even though it should not have mattered.’ The early ‘80s were heady, adventurous times in the New York scene. Punk rock had kicked open a lot of doors and various strands of dissonant art-rock, reggae and funk had rushed in and found hungry audiences. Not large audiences, mind you, but that wasn’t necessarily the point. It was before MTV spread the smooth stylings of Duran Duran and Culture Club, before New Wave was marketed to Middle America, before a mainstream hit became the Holy Grail. The first edition of Bush Tetras only lasted until 1983. …”
WBUR – Bush Tetras: 3 Women Playing Punk-Funk, 1980. They Didn’t Catch On. Now They’re Back. (Video)
W – Bush Tetras
Genius (Audio)
YouTube: Too Many Creeps (Live), You Can’t Be Funky

Lester Bangs – Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung (1987)

“The late rock critic Lester Bangs was, like many of his colleagues, a frustrated musician. He even recorded a handful of records: the single ‘Let It Blurt’ and hard-to-find LPs with his New York group Birdland and the Texas-based Delinquents. But his finest hour may have come when he played typewriter at Cobo Hall in Detroit with the J. Geils Band. I’m serious—he played typewriter. The details are contained in a hilarious piece, ‘My Night of Ecstasy With the J. Geils Band,’ part of the recent posthumous collection of Bangs’s writing, Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung. … He even took a curtain call. This strange routine is much like Bangs’s writing—it’s funny, dumb, inspired, fantastic, and self-aggrandizing all at once. As a critic commenting on his chosen field, popular music, Bangs was a creature of polar opposites—genius and buffoon, observer and participant, fabulist and mundane reporter, sober analyst and drunken fantasist. He stood apart from his colleagues by virtue of his willingness to take a creative dare. That daring, which may be seen in his stage shot with the Geils Band, is also vastly apparent in the 370-plus pages of Psychotic Reactions, collected by fellow critic Greil Marcus. …”
Reading: Lester Bangs Played Typewriter
W – Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung
W – Lester Bangs

Accordion & Voice – Pauline Oliveros (1982)

“We’re huge Oliveros followers here so it’s just fantastic to see this classic album brought back to life by the ever-reliable Important Records. We’re beginning to wonder just how the label has such a good line in to all these quality releases, but the less known about that the better, we’re happy to carry on consuming week in, week out. ‘Accordion & Voice’ was the first of Pauline Oliveros’s works as a soloist and was originally released back in 1982 when I was but a crawling nipper, although she had released a whole catalogue of electronic work she never recorded anything quite like this before. This is odd because originally Oliveros had trained as an accordion player, something which she excelled in and composed with for many years before she discovered the beauty of synthesis. Here we hear her composing (and performing) using merely accordion and voice, yet the way she works with these elements could almost be synthesis or processing. In fact hearing this now makes me think of Islaja, Fursaxa or even Grouper, as her carefully measured drones wash over each other and her ethereal vocals soar overhead. There is however a restraint and spiritualism in Oliveros’s compositions that set her apart from any other composers or artists, this was present in her electronic pieces (most notably ‘I of IV’) and is more than evident in both pieces here. ‘Horse Sings from Cloud’ is probably the best known work here, but the later ‘Rattlesnake Mountain’ is just as essential, showing off some quite serious accordion skill and allowing the instrument time to breathe. This is an influential and seriously important album for anyone interested in experimental music to any degree – Highly Recommended.”
All About Jazz
Guardian: A guide to Pauline Oliveros’s music (Video)
Discogs (Video)
YouTube: Accordion & Voice (1982) FULL ALBUM 42:27

Patti Smith – Hey Joe (Version) / Piss Factory (1974)

“Patti Smith’s ‘Piss Factory’ was in many ways the punk rock shot heard around the world. In 1974, as the New York Dolls were falling apart, the CBGB’s scene was just beginning to incubate, the Ramones were starting to come together, the Sex Pistols and the Damned were learning glam rock covers, and Richard Hell was ripping up his shirts, Smith and three musician friends — Lenny Kaye and Tom Verlaine on guitars, and Richard Sohl on piano — walked into Electric Ladyland studios in New York to set two of Smith’s poems to music during an hour of studio time paid for by Smith’s close friend, photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. Smith and Mapplethorpe then pressed and distributed a single of the two songs cut in that hour, and if the results didn’t sound like what came to be known as ‘punk rock,’ their daring and audacity set them apart from anything else on the rock scene at the time, and Smith’s willingness to seize the means of production was a crucial early salvo in the DIY revolution punk would help to spawn. ‘Piss Factory’ was a vivid bit of post-beat poetry in which Smith half sang, half spoke a claustrophobic rant about a horrible job she held while growing up in New Jersey. Smith made the heat, boredom, tension, and fights with her older co-workers seem as real and as hurtful as a car wreck, while Sohl’s bop-influenced piano drove the verse along with a sure and potent power. At the song’s end, Smith promises to herself that she’ll never go back to the blue-collar trap, declaring, ‘I’m gonna get on that train and go to New York City/And I’m gonna be somebody/I’m gonna be so big!’ Seventeen years later, Patti read “Piss Factory” to kick off a rare public performance, held to benefit AIDS-related charities; after she read the final line, Smith looked up from her pages, and with a quiet smile that betrayed the cocky kid still lurking inside her, said, ‘And that’s just what I did.'”
Discogs (Video)
YouTube: Piss Factory, Hey Joe

Junior Byles – 129 Beat Street: Ja-Man Special 1975-1978

“A collection of four Junior Byles tracks from his post-Lee “Scratch” Perry era and seven tracks from lesser-known artists like Rupert Reid, Pablo Moses and others, 129 Beat Street highlights some of the best cuts from the little-known House of Music studio operated by Dudley ‘Manzie’ Swaby and Leroy ‘Bunny’ Hollett. In addition to that unifying theme, all the classic roots tracks are held together by thumping bass, exquisite singing and strongly conscious Rastafarian messages. While most of the reggae from the same era came from such big name studios as Black Ark and Studio One, this compilation demonstrates that the supply of talent in Jamaica was extremely pervasive, as is clearly evident on standout tracks like ‘Chant Down Babylon,’ ‘See the Dread Deh’ and ‘Remember Me.'”
W – Junior Byles
Discogs (Video)
YouTube: Dave Robinson – My Homeland, Junior Byles & Rupert Reid + Ja-Man All Stars – Chant Down Babylon, Rupert Reid – See The Dread Deh, bim sherman – mighty ruler

Au Pairs – Inconvenience / Pretty Boys (1981)

“Blasting into the post-punk consciousness with a tremendous debut album, the Au Pairs, fronted by lesbian-feminist Lesley Woods, played brittle, dissonant, guitar-based rock that shared political and musical kinship with the Mekons and (especially) the Gang of Four. The music was danceable, imbued with an almost petulant irony, and for a while, very hip and well-liked by critics. Unlike many bands of the day, however, the Au Pairs (at least initially) backed it up with searing, confrontational songs celebrating sexuality from a woman’s perspective. Also, they took swipes at the conservative political climate sweeping England after Margaret Thatcher’s election as Prime Minister. Occasionally, Woods‘ commitments to sexual and social politics made her sound inflexible, doctrinaire, and hectoring (especially on their OK second album). But, at first blush, the Au Pairs were a mighty intimidating proposition, able to take on so much and deliver great music in the process. After a desultory live album in 1983 (Live in Berlin), the band split up, and Woods and her bandmates have maintained a low profile. ”
Genius (Audio)
YouTube: Inconvenience / Pretty Boys

Public Image Limited – Memories / Another (1979)

“… A series of staged wedding photos show John Lydon posed in tie, trench coat and moustache with (I believe) his real wife Nora by his side as ominous fingers appear from above, poised to either peruse this page of a altogether grim and cobwebbed photo album or moments away from tearing them apart and discarding them forever. And just as the music of Public Image Limited constantly threatens to split off from itself in a rage, it also manages to holds itself together by a thin yet unbreakable thread of underscoring, bloodline bass lines and rhythm. And because of this near-magnetic force field, all instruments hold together in a simple, abrasive and ever-corroding atmosphere where no matter how much of the music falls away (or off the sonic map altogether), the bonds of the simple, forcefully played rhythms yoke all elements unswervingly together under conditions of severe austerity. ‘Memories’ is altered from its original setting on ‘Metal Box’: not only in the manner of its extended length and additional Leslie-amplified guitar line from Keith Levene’s barbed wire straddling guitar parts, but the mix is also significantly different: the album version sees Lydon’s vocals crammed behind the massive backing track, only surfacing noticeably for a middle stanza or two (most noticeably on the ‘I could be wrong / It could be hate’ passage) but here on the single his hair-on-fire vocals are thrown up so high in the mix, it even blares over the metallic cog constructions of the over-phased hi-hat and drums. The dub pendulum ballast of Jah Wobble’s bass, while not always present, is so hypnotically strong it’s not readily apparent when it vanishes from time to time in the mix. …”
Head Heritage
W – “Memories”
Genius (Audio)
Discogs (Video)
YouTube: Memories 7″ (Mix), Another 7″ (B-side of Memories)