Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Cowboys International®

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Cowboys International® was a short lived, super tight, kaleidoscopically fantastic project from that liminal period in British music when punk, post-punk, new wave and new pop were all swirling around in some sort of fertile, hazily defined stew. Unconcerned with where one genre ended and another began, songwriter Ken Lockie, unsung genius if there ever was one, got together a group of players that included Keith Levene (PiL) and Terry Chimes (The Clash) to record 1979's The Original Sin. The album was named a Melody Maker top 20 album that year, but it didn't make the lasting, meteor-sized impact it should have, and after it's initial release was out of print for more than 20 years.

Thanks to some cosmic benevolence, a few years ago Lockie released an expanded reissue of album titled Revisited, ensuring that you can get your grubby hands on it today. Terry fucking Chimes man, he really seals the deal here - the drumming is amazing. And the production (even on CD) makes the ears warm like a whiff of poppers.

Cowboys International - Aftermath (Radio Mix)
Cowboys International - Future Noise
Cowboys International - Many Times (Revised)
Cowboys International - Wish
Cowboys International - Here Comes A Saturday

The rest of the album is as good if not better than the tracks above - you can and should buy it at CD Baby.


Shortly after the release of this album the Cowboys dissolved and Lockie, after a brief and unproductive stint playing keyboard for PiL, moved to New York, where he apparently got swept up in the downtown dance scene as Dominatrix.

Dominatrix - The Dominatrix Sleeps Tonight (1984)

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Only Men Fall in Love

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Home Service was a short-lived project by David Motion and David Fraser that bore several releases on their own label Crystal Groove Records as well as a 7" single of "Only Men Fall in Love" on the Beggars Banquet subsidiary Situation 2.

Alhtough Home Service didn't last long, Motion became enamored with the recording process during the Home Service project, and went on to become a successful producer, recruited to produce a number of bands including Strawberry Switchblade. He talks a bit about Home Service and his beginnings as a producer in an interview on the Strawberry Switchblade site. More recently he's scored films and produced a number of ditties for commercials - full bio on his music career here. And, you can listen to some of his current work on his Myspace. It's super interesting to me that someone behind such a leftfield track as OMFIL would go on to make music for mainstream commercials. But I guess a lot of musicians have that trajectory.

This is actually ripped from a 12" of OMFIL that US label Cachalot released in 1981. It's played pitched way down, beecause playing it at it's intended full 45 was WAY TOO FAST! I Can't believe it's that fast, and now understand why Andrew over at Lovefingers posted it at 33 a while back.

Home Service - Only Men Fall in Love
Home Service - O.M.F.I.L.

Bonerus - A whole shitload of Strawberry Switchblade demos, Peel Sessions, outtakes etc. available for download on the Strawberry Switchblade Site. Good stuff!!

Friday, February 16, 2007

The Queen

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Ms. Lunch is the mistress of off-key insouciance. She sings like she's coming down off the Anna Nicole Smith cocktail (too soon?), and it's sloppy and lazy and perfect. From her 1980 debut Queen of Siam:

Lydia Lunch - Atomic Bongos
Lydia Lunch - Spooky

Atomic bongos is my jam du jour, and Spooky is a rendition of an old Classics IV song from 1967. Here is the original for comparison and contrastison:

Classics IV - Spooky

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Way of the West

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I don't know much about this Boston band Way of the West, and Google didn't help, but it's pretty good shit. I tracked this down after hearing "White Boys" sandwiched in between The Hawaiian Pups and Cluster by one of the DJs at The Echo. I think it was at an Ariel Pink show.  If you know anything about these dudes, do tell.

Here's a folder with all their singles and a few extras:

Don't Say That's Just For White Boys (1980)
Drum (1981)
See You Shake (1981)
City for Lovers (1984)
Feel the Steel (1984)


Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Y Pants

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Y Pantssssss! I've mentioned before that I LOVE girl drummers - add Virginia Piersol of Y Pants to that list. Y Pants, part of the DIY No Wave stew, got started out on toy instruments (the toy piano of my childhood sounds JUST like the one they play), and threw the heaviosity of earlier punk and experimental acts into relief with their awesome softness. Creative girls, these ones, birthing surprises at every turn despite the super simplicity of their playing.

They recorded their first EP in 1980 with the legendary Glenn Branca, and released an LP, Beat It Down, in '82. Both releases are included on the 1998 CD release of their catalog issued by Periodic Document. Note the covers of songs by The Rolling Stones and Leslie Gore, as well as lyrics based on Emily Dickinson's I heard a fly buzz when I died. For an idea of just how radically they altered the originals I've included the original Leslie Gore recording of "That's The Way Boys Are" (1964) for comparison and constrastison.

Y Pants - Off The Hook (Rolling Stones cover)
Y Pants - Beat It Down
Y Pants - Love's A Disease
Y Pants - The Fly (words by Emily Dickinson)
Y Pants - The Code Of Life
Y Pants - That's The Way Boys Are (Leslie Gore Cover)

Lesley Gore - That's The Way Boys Are

Friday, February 02, 2007

Diagram Brothers

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Diagram Brothers ('79-'82) were a high-concept postpunk group from Manchester made up of four science students who devised strict constricts for their songs and diagrammed the planned unfoldings of their studio sessions, interviews, shows, and record sleeves. Says bassist Andy Diagram (also trumpet player for Dislocation Dance):

"The music was made to a strict formula, or set of rules. All the guitar chords were based on discordant notes, all the beats were very simple rock or disco, and all the words were very straightforward and down to earth."

Diagram Brothers - We Are All Animals
Diagram Brothers - I Would Like To Live In Prison
Diagram Brothers - Bricks
Diagram Brothers - Discordo

The expanded "Some Marvels of Modern Science" can be downloaded in it's entirety for free over at Mutant Sounds, or purchased from Darla.