Monday, February 07, 2011

Many of these songs, these bands, much of this music continues vital and current. The great music of earlier eras: Ellington, Armstrong, Parker, Coltrane, and Hendrix remains great, greater than PiL, Einsturzende Neubauten, the Birthday Party, Glenn Branca, and the rest. Those earlier, greater musicians are somehow tired to their times, while great music of 1981 plays on: unrestrained by shackles of period. Likewise, a prison of genre cannot hold these freedom loving noise makers. Those who must know "what kind of music is this?" will not want to enter these musical hallways. Those who are not satisfied with the answer: "it is the kind of music you hear" will want to go elsewhere for ball and chain.

BEST LPs of 1981

1. Einsturzende Neubauten: Kollapse (Zickzack, Germany)
2. PiL: Flowers of Romance (Warner Brothers)
3. Can: Delay 1968 (Spoon, Germany)
4. Glenn Branca: The Ascension (99)
5. The Birthday Party: Prayers On Fire (4AD)
6. DNA: A Taste of DNA (American Clave')
7. This Heat: Deceit (Rough Trade)
8. The Fall: Slates (Rough Trade 10”)
10. X: Wild Gifts (Slash)
11. David Byrne & Brian Eno: My Life in the Bush of Ghosts (Sire)
12. Rova Saxophone Quartet: As Was (Metalanguage)
13. Graham Lewis & B.C. Gilbert: Dome 3 (Dome)
14. Mission of Burma: Signals, Calls & Marches (Ace of Hearts)
15. Dark Day: Exterminating Angel (Lust/Unlust)
16. Half Japanese: Loud (Armageddon)
17. Mars: John Gavanti (Hyrax)
18. Crass: Penis Envy (Crass)
19. Colin Newman: Provisional Entitled the Singing Fish (4AD)
20. Jody Harris & Robert Quine: Escape (Lust/Unlust)
21. James Blood Ulmer: Are You Glad to Be In America (Artists House)
22. The Cure: Faith (Fiction, UK)
23. Magazine: Magic Murder and the Weather (IRS)
24. The Gun Club: Fire of Love (Ruby)
25. Black Flag: Damaged (Unicorn/SST)
26. Bill Dixon: In Italy Volume Two (Soul Note)
27. A Certain Ratio: To Each (Factory)
28. The Flesh Eaters: A Minute to Prey, A Second to Die (Ruby)
29. Tom Verlaine: Dreamtime (Warner Brothers)
30. Robyn Hitchcock: Black Snakes Diamond Role (Armageddon, UK)
31. Borbetomagus: Work On What Has Been Spoiled (Agaric)
32. Saccharine Trust: Pagan Icons (SST 12”)
33. Au Pairs: Playing with a different sex (Human)
34. The New Order: Movement (Factory)
35. Fad Gadget: Incontinent (Mute)
36. 8 Eyed Spy: 8 Eyed Spy (Fetish)
37. Jandek: Six and Six (Corwood)
38. Crispy Ambulance: The Plateau Phase (Factory)
39. Wire: Document and Eyewitness (Rough Trade, UK)
40. Method Actors: Little Figures (Armageddon, UK)
41. The Slits: Return of the Giant Slits (CBS)
42. Funkadelics: Electric Spanking Of War Babies (Warner Brothers)
43. Dorothea Raukes: Deutsche Wertarbeit (Sky)
44. Derek Bailey & Christine Jeffreys: Views From Six Windows (Metalanguage)
45. The Big Boys: Where's My Towel/Industry Standard (Wasted Talent)
46. Durutti Column: LC (Factory, UK)
47. Ikenga Super Stars of Africa: Ikenga Super Stars of Africa (Sonodisc, France)
48. Method Actors: Rhythms of You (Armageddon, UK)
49. A Certain Ratio: Sextet (Factory, UK)
50. Z’ev: Salts of Heavy Metal (Lust/Unlust 12” EP)
51. Pere Ubu: 390 Degrees of Simulated Stereo (Rough Trade, UK)
52. Whitehouse: Dedicated to Peter Kurten Sadist and Mass Slayer (Come, UK)
53. Husker Du: Land Speed Record (New Alliance)
54. Television Personalities: Mummy Your Not Watching Me (Whaam)
55. Red Krayola with Art & Language: Kangaroo (Rough Trade, Germany)
56. The Gun Club: Fire of Love (Ruby)
57. Gang of Four: Solid Gold (Warner Brothers)
58. Caberet Voltaire: Red Mecca (Rough Trade)
59. Eyeless In Gaza: Caught in the Flux (Cherry Red)
60. Prince: Controversy (Warner Brothers)
61. Section 25: Always Now (Factory)
62. The Fall: A Part of America, Therein (Cottage)
63. The Minutemen: The Punch Line (SST)
64. Bow Wow Wow: Your Cassette Pet (RCA cassette) 2nd version
65. Raincoats: Odyshape (Rough Trade, UK)
66. The Replacements: Sorry Ma, I Forgot to Take Out the Trash (Twin Tone)
67. King Crimson: Discipline (Warner Brothers)
68. 8 Eyed Spy: 8 Eyed Spy Live (ROIR cassette)
69. The Cramps: Psychedelic Jungle (IRS)
70. Liquid Liquid: Liquid Liquid (99 12” EP)
71. Nico: Drama of Exile (Aura)
72. Psychedelic Furs: Talk Talk Talk (CBS)
73. The Dictators: Live: Fuck ‘Em If They Can’t Take A Joke (ROIR cassette)
74. Moe Tucker: Playin’ Possum (Trash)
75. Elvis Costello: Trust (CBS)
76. Jandek: Later On (Corwood)

Friday, December 31, 2010

As I type, the Internet and old fashion media look at the year 2010. So let us return to the past. Let us return to 1980, but before we go there, I must admit I might have it all wrong. The turn-of-decade sea shift from “classic rock” to “new wave” could be about Glen Thrasher changing from child to something vaguely resembling a man: the changes not about everything or anything changing in music. A musical change I perceive obvious could be unfathomable to those not Glen Thrasher. During the period 1977 to 1980 Glen Thrasher changed from a high school boy living in the suburbs who never went anywhere after dark into some semblance of an adult. He became “a man” with an apartment in a dangerous major American city, a girlfriend, and a string of jobs. Nightlife consisted of going to bars to watch live music 2 to 7 nights per week for the next 20 years. (For those that doubt Atlanta was a dangerous city those years, remember, this was the era Atlanta was called Murder Capitol of the Nation. It was also the period of news cycle driven missing & murdered black children of Atlanta. Assumed to be the work of a serial killer, these headline-making crimes were attributed to my fellow Georgia State University alumni, Wayne Williams. At the time of his arrest I was working in the G.S.U. registrars office. I looked up his file and discovered his class schedule and determined we were enrolled in an introductory English composition class together. I cannot say if Wayne attended the class. I certainly do not remember him. A side note worth mentioning: his file was unusually slim. I assume the police had already been there to remove anything/everthing more interesting. Every other student file I ever saw contained an essay written by the student at the time of their application for admission. I would have enjoyed a look at Wayne’s essay.) I found something in the world outside of Glen Thrasher to parallel these changes within. It was inevitable. I imagined changes in the music. Also inevitable. Most of my new life revolved around music: buying records, spinning records at small radio stations, going to see bands at seedy bars, writing about music: live & recorded, and before long attempting to play in bands before audiences. I associate personal changes with musical changes, real or not. Sea change, or song remains the same, 1980 was another remarkable year for music. As with 3 years preceding there are many records good enough to be the best record of many a lesser year.

Best LPs of 1980

  1. Graham Lewis & B.C. Gilbert: Dome (Dome, UK)
  2. Half Japanese: Half Gentlemen/Not Beasts (Armageddon)
  3. Information/Blinding Headache/Mofungo: Tape #1 (cassette)
  4. The Feelies: Crazy Rhythms (Stiff)
  5. Young Marble Giants: Colossal Youth (Rough Trade, UK)
  6. The Raincoats: The Raincoats (Rough Trade, UK)
  7. Swell Maps: In Jane From Occupied Europe (Rough Trade, UK)
  8. Joy Division: Closer (Factory)
  9. Borbetomagus: Sauter, Dietrich, & Miller (Agaric)
  10. Captain Beefheart: Doc At the Radar Station (Virgin)
  11. Martin Rev: Solo Album (Lust/Unlust)
  12. Graham Lewis & B.C. Gilbert: Dome 2 (Dome, UK)
  13. Dead Kennedys: Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables (Alternative Tentacles)
  14. The Mekons: The Mekons (Red Rhino, UK)
  15. Caberet Voltaire: Voice of America (Rough Trade, UK)
  16. Magazine: Play (IRS)
  17. The Cure: Boys Don’t Cry (PVC)
  18. Glenn Branca: Lesson No. 1 (99 Mini-LP)
  19. Talking Heads: Remain In Light (Sire)
  20. The Fall: Grotesque (Rough Trade, UK)
  21. Elvis Costello: Get Happy (CBS)
  22. Durutti Column: Return of the Durutti Column (Factory)
  23. Soft Boys: Underwater Moonlight (Armageddon)
  24. Colin Newman: A-Z (Beggars Banquet, UK)
  25. David Bowie: Scary Monsters (RCA)
  26. Pylon: Gyrate (Db)
  27. The Cure: 17 Seconds (Fiction, UK)
  28. X: Los Angeles (Slash)
  29. The Flesh Eaters: No Questions Asked (Upsetter)
  30. The Fall: Totale’s Turn (Rough Trade, UK)
  31. Siouxsie & the Banshees: Kaleidoscope (Polydor)
  32. The Boys Next Door: The Birthday Party (Missing Link, Aus.)
  33. The Jam: Sound Effects (Polydor)
  34. The Ex: Disturbing Domestic Peace (Verrecords)
  35. The Dicks/The Big Boys: Live at Raul’s (Rat Race)
  36. The Pop Group: For How Much Longer Can We Tolerate Mass Murder (Rough Trade, UK)
  37. John Fahey: Live in Tasmania (Sonet)
  38. Bill Dixon: In Italy Volume 1 (Soul Note, Italy)
  39. Magazine: The Correct Use of Soap (IRS)
  40. Art Ensemble of Chicago: Full Force (ECM)
  41. John Zorn: School (Parachute)
  42. LaDonna Smith & Davey Williams: Direct Waves (Trans Music)
  43. Tom Waits: Heartattack and Vine (Asylum)
  44. Elliott Sharp: Rhythms & Blues (Zoar)
  45. Kurtis Blow: Kurtis Blow (Mercury)
  46. 999: Biggest Prize In Sports (Polydor)
  47. The Clash: Black Market Clash (Epic)
  48. John Zorn: Pool/Hockey (Parachute)
  49. Various Artists: Wanna Buy a Bridge? (Rough Trade)
  50. Anthony Braxton: Seven Compositions 1978 (Moers)
  51. Bow Wow Wow: Your Cassette Pet (EMI cassette) 1st version
  52. Killing Joke: Killing Joke (Editions EG)
  53. Suicide: Alan Vega & Martin Rev (Ze)
  54. Lewis & Gilbert: 3r4 (4AD)
  55. Sam Rivers: Contrasts (ECM)
  56. The Undertones: Hypnotized (Sire)
  57. Elvis Costello: Taking Liberties (CBS)
  58. Steve Beresford: The Bath of Surprise (Piano)
  59. The Clash: Sandinista! (CBS)
  60. Fela Kuti: I.T.T. (Polygram)
  61. Psychedelic Furs: Psychedelic Furs (CBS)
  62. Circle Jerks: Group Sex (Frontier)
  63. Prince: Dirty Mind (Warner Brothers)
  64. Jim Carroll Band: Catholic Boy (Atco)
  65. ACDC: Back In Black (Atlantic)
  66. Jah Wooble: The Legend Lives On… Jah Wooble in “Betrayed” (Virgin, UK)
  67. Caberet Voltaire: Live at the YMCA (Restless)
  68. David Moss: Terrain (Cornpride)
  69. Robert Ashley: Perfect Lives (Private Parts) (Lovely)
  70. The Last Words: The Last Words (Armaggedeon)
  71. Harold Budd & Brain Eno: Plateaux of Mirrors (Editions EG)
  72. Various: Decline of Western Civilization (Slash)
  73. Van Morrison: Common One (Warner Brothers)
  74. Michael Hurley: Snockgrass (Rounder)
  75. The Teardrop Explodes: Kilamanjaro (Mercury)
  76. The Units: Digital Stimulation (415)
  77. Jon Hassell & Brian Eno: Fourth World Volume 1: Possible Musics (Editions EG)
  78. The Ramones: End of the Century (Sire)
  79. XTC: Black Sea (Virgin)
  80. The Cramps: Songs The Lord Taught Us
  81. Motorhead: Ace of Spades (Mercury)
  82. Vic Godard & the Subway Sect: What’s the Matter Boy? (MCA. UK)
  83. The Associates: The Affectionate Punch (Fiction)

Monday, December 20, 2010

I recommend Keith Richards “Life” to anyone who still cares about rock ‘n’ roll music. This is the story of the Rolling Stones. The Rolling Stones are what rock ‘n’ roll is about. Younger people don’t get it. For many under 50-year-olds, no doubt for many over, the Rolling Stones are just this crap old band that has put out mediocre music for decades. I agree with all that, and think they would be better off if they had broken up in 1973, leaving a clean legacy, much as the Beatles did. The old Rolling Stones vs. Beatles war is done. The Beatles won. It was a massacre. But history has not had its final say. The Stones put out 7 brilliant rock records that stand up well, as far as I am concerned they put to shame, any and all of the Beatles discography. In case there is doubt those 7 records are: Out of Our Heads, Aftermath, Between the Buttons, Beggar’s Banquet, Let It Bleed, Sticky Finger and Exile On Main Street. I find it curious I can put "Life" at the top of my favorite books of 2010 without shame. Probably says something about 2010. Probably says something about me.


  1. Keith Richards: Life (Little Brown)
  2. Patti Smith: Just Kids (Ecco)
  3. Tana French: Faithful Place (Viking)
  4. Rob Young: Electric Eden: Unearthing Britain’s Visionary Music (Faber and Faber, UK)
  5. Jennifer Egan: A Visit From the Goon Squad (Knopf)
  6. Lane Smith: It’s A Book (Roaring Brook)
  7. Paul Auster: Sunset Park (Henry Holt)
  8. Abdul Salam Zaeef: My Life With the Taliban (Columbia)
  9. Cynthia Ozick: Foreign Bodies (Houghton Mifflin)
  10. Karl Marlantes: Matterhorn (Grove/Atlantic)
  11. Mick Houghton: Becoming Elektra: The True Story of Jac Holzman’s Visionary Record Label (Jaw Bone)
  12. Martin Amis: The Pregnant Widow (Knopf)
  13. Greil Marcus: When That Rough God Goes Riding: Listening to Van Morrison (PublicAffairs)
  14. Philip Dray: There is Power in a Union: The Epic Story of Labor in America (Doubleday)
  15. Chris Hedges: Death of the Liberal Class (Nation)
  16. Jonathan Franzen: Freedom (FSG)
  17. Ian McEwan: Solar (Nan A. Talese)
  18. Declan Kiberd: Ulysses and Us: The Art of Everyday Life in Joyce’s Masterpiece (Norton)
  19. Andrew Hsiao & Audrea Lim: The Verso Book of Dissent: From Spartacus to the Shoe-Thrower of Baghdad (Verso)
  20. Orly Castel-Bloom: Dolly City (Dalkey Archive)
  21. Christopher Hitchens: Hitch 22 (12 Twelve)
  22. Safiya Bukhari: The War Before: The True Life Story of Becoming a Black Panther, Keeping the Faith in Prison & Fighting for those left behind (Feminist Press)
  23. Eric Davidson: We Never Learn: The Gunk Punk Undergut, 1988 – 2001 (Backbeat)
  24. Julian Rios: The House of Ulysses (Dalkey Archive)

Saturday, December 04, 2010

The music is flowing as it has never flowed before. The era we are living is so overloaded with popular art in every form, no one should claim able to keep up. I certainly do not claim any such thing. The music I hear is a tiny slice of what is available, determined by my own habits. I listen to what I want to hear: records on display at my local record shops, records written about in a few favorite publications, something played and/or reviewed on N.P.R., something a friend recommends and very little else. I never hear much of the music most America is hearing. No doubt I miss great stuff. I could wait and check out the various lists as they are posted and published. I would rather my choices remain my own curious slant on what is good. I have already seen the Mojo Magazine “50 Best of 2010”. One of my choices, Gonjasufi’s “A Sufi and A Killer” is something I learned about from that list, checked out on the Internet, and picked up next day. I don’t want to allow my list to be corrupted. A year from today, my 2010 favorites will probably look different. These LPs and CDs are my favorites heard from the trenches of my own personal battle. As always, I list my choices in order of preference. Everything is subject to change within moments of being posted.

Best LPs & CDs 2010:

  1. Swans: My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky (Young Gods LP)
  2. Circle Pit: Bruise Constellation (Siltbreeze LP)
  3. Roky Erickson: True Love Cast Out All Evil (Anti LP)
  4. Fabulous Diamonds: Fabulous Diamonds II (Siltbreeze LP)
  5. Brian Eno: Small Craft On a Milk Sea (Opal CD)
  6. Getatchew Mekuria, The Ex & Guests: Moa Anbessa (Terp LP)
  7. US Girls: Go Grey (Siltbreeze LP)
  8. Kate Nash: My Best Friend Is You (Fiction CD)
  9. Dead Weather: Sea of Cowards (Warner Brothers LP)
  10. Massive Attack: Heligo Land (Virgin 2-LP)
  11. The Roots: How I Got Over (Def Jam CD)
  12. Z’s: New Slaves (Social Registry 2-LP)
  13. The Thermals: More Parts Per Million (Subpop CD)
  14. Various: Stroke, Songs For Chris Knox (Merge CD)
  15. Lower Dens: Twin Hand Move Ment (Gnomsonsong LP)
  16. Caribou: Swim (Merge LP)
  17. Weekend: Sports (Slumberland 2-LP)
  18. Barn Owl: Ancestral Star (Thrill Jockey CD)
  19. Martin Rev: Stigmata (Blastfirstpetite CD)
  20. Johnny Cash: American VI: Ain’t No Grave (American Recordings CD)
  21. Thee Oh Sees: Warm Slime (In the Red LP)
  22. The Dead C: Patience (Ba Da Bing LP)
  23. Liars: Sisterworld (Mute 2-LP)
  24. Evan Caminiti: West Winds (Three Lobed LP)
  25. Wild Nothing: Gemini (Captured Red LP)
  26. Hole: Nobody’s Daughter (Mercury CD)
  27. Trash Kit: Trash Kit!! (Upset the Rhythm LP)
  28. Tape & Bill Wells: Fugue (Immune LP)
  29. Grinderman: 2 (Anti LP)
  30. Goldfrapp: Head First (Mute LP)
  31. Indian Jewelry: Totaled (We Are Free LP)
  32. Bryan Ferry: Olympia (Virgin CD)
  33. Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba: I Speak Fula (Sub Pop CD)
  34. Wetdog: “Frauhaus!” (Captured Red LP)
  35. Joanna Newsom: Have One On Me (Drag City 3-CD)
  36. She & Him: Volume Two (Merge CD)
  37. Laetitia Sadier: The Trip (Drag City LP)
  38. Gonjasufi: A Sufi & A Killer (Warp CD)
  39. Naked on the Vague: Heaps of Nothing (Siltbreeze LP)
  40. Mathis Hunter: Soft Opening (Shakedown LP)
  41. Brian Jonestown Massacre: Who Killed Sgt. Peppers (a LP)
  42. Vaselines: Sex With An X (Sub Pop CD)
  43. Robyn Hitchcock & the Venus 3: Propellor Time (Satorial LP)
  44. Stereolab: Not Music (Drag City/Duophonic Ultra High 2-LP)
  45. Pit Er Pat: The Flexible Entertainer (Thrill Jockey LP)
  46. Erykah Badu: New Amerykah, Pt. 2: Return of the Ankh (CD)
  47. Nice Face: Immer Etwas (Sacred Bones LP)
  48. Psychic Ills: Astral Occurrence (Spring Press LP)
  49. Psychic Ills: Catoptric (Social Registry LP)
  50. Tandoori Knights: Curry Up It’s the Tandoori Knights (Norton LP)
  51. Sleigh Bells: Treats (Mom & Pop CD)
  52. Noot d’Noot: From Every Since (Shakedown LP)
  53. A Frames/Climax Golden Twins: AFCGT LP + 7” (Sub Pop LP/7”)
  54. Trans Am: Thing (Slumberland CD)
  55. Various: Shangaan Electro: New Wave Dance Music From South Africa (Honest Jons 2-LP)
  56. Effi Briest: Rhizomes (Sacred Bones LP)
  57. Titus Andronicus: Monitor (XL CD)
  58. Woven Bones: In and Out and Back Again (Hozac CD)


  1. The Velvet Underground: The Quine Tapes (Sundazed 6-LP)
  2. Orange Juice: Coals to Newcastle (Domino 5 CD plus DVD)
  3. Bob Dylan: The Bootleg Series No. 9 – The Witmark Demos: 1962 – 1964 (Columbia 2-CD)
  4. The Rolling Stones: Exile On Main Street (with Bonus disc) (2 CD)
  5. Kleenex/Liliput: Live Recordings, TV-Clips & Roadmovie (Kill Rock Stars CD+DVD)
  6. Various Artists: Worried Now, Won’t Be Worried Long: Field Recordings from Alan Lomax’s ‘Southern Journey’, 1959 – 1960 (Mississippi LP)
  7. Various Artists: I’ll Be So Glad When the Sun Goes Down: Field Recordings from Alan Lomax’s ‘Southern Journey’, 1959 – 1960 (Mississippi LP)
  8. Various Artists: Wave The Ocean, Wave the Sea: Field Recordings from Alan Lomax’s ‘Southern Journey’, 1959 – 1960 (Mississippi LP)
  9. Various Artists: I’ll Meet You on That Other Side: Field Recordings from Alan Lomax’s ‘Southern Journey’, 1959 – 1960 (Mississippi LP)
  10. Various Artists: I’m Gonna Live Anyhow Until I Die: Field Recordings from Alan Lomax’s ‘Southern Journey’, 1959 – 1960 (Mississippi LP)
  11. Fucked Up: Couple Tracks (Matador 2-LP)
  12. X: Aspirations (Rocknroll Blitzkrieg LP)
  13. Various: Fanajana: A Collection of Recordings and Photograhy from Madagasikara (Mississippi LP)
  14. Kebab: We Live in a System (Softspot LP)
  15. Interference: Interference (The Social Registry 2-LP)
  16. Black Tambourine: Black Tambourine (Slumberland LP)
  17. Kevin Dunn: No Great Lost, Songs, 1979 – 1985 (Casa Nueva CD)
  18. Z’ev: as/if/when (Sub Rosa LP)
  19. Various Artists: Deutsche Elektronische Musik: Volume Two: Experimental German Rock and Electronic Musik 1972-83 (Soul Jazz 2-LP)
  20. Various Artists: Deutsche Elektronische Musik: Volume One: Experimental German Rock and Electronic Musik 1972-83 (Soul Jazz 2-LP)
  21. The Scrotum Poles: Auchmithie Forever (Dulc-I-Tone LP)
  22. Mike Rep and the Quotas: Stupor Hiatus (Silt Breeze 2 LP)
  23. Sweet Talks: The Kusum Beat (Sound Way LP)
  24. Hedzoleh: Hedzoleh (Sound Way LP)
  25. White Stripes: Under Great White Northern Lights (Third Man 2-LP)
  26. Ozzie: The Parabolic Rock 1975 – 1982 (S.S. 2-LP)
  27. Various Artists: Brazillian Guitar Fuzz Bananas (Tropicalia in Furs 2-LP)

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Flood + snowballs = avalanche. And so it continues. 1979 has 28 LPs of a quality I would consider to be #1 in some ordinary year. Thousands of records -- worthy but lesser quality -- follow in the wake of these 60 gems. This was the “indie rock revolution.” It began here and continued onward, into the current decade and century. 1979 was a very good year for music by any objective standard. At risk of encouraging the tossing of genre names, 1979 was the beginning of the “post-punk” era (1979 – 1982). These 4 years are 2nd only to the proudly nameless 1968 -1972 period as great rock moment


  1. The Fall: Live At the Witch Trials (Step Forward)
  2. Pere Ubu: New Picnic Time (Chrysalis)
  3. Public Image Ltd: Second Edition (aka Metal Box) (Virgin)
  4. Swell Maps: Trip to Marineville (Rough Trade)
  5. James Blood Ulmer: Tales of Captain Black (Artists House)
  6. Red Crayola: Soldier Talk (Radar)
  7. This Heat: This Heat (Piano, UK)
  8. Wire: 154 (Harvest)
  9. Air: Air Lore (Arista Novus)
  10. The Clash: London Calling (CBS)
  11. The Fall: Dragnet (Step Forward)
  12. Magazine: Secondhand Daylight (Virgin)
  13. Joy Division: Unknown Pleasures (Factory)
  14. Caberet Voltaire: Mix Up (Rough Trade)
  15. The Gang of Four: Entertainment (EMI)
  16. The Slits: Cut (Antilles)
  17. Throbbing Gristle: 20 Jazz Funk Greats (Industrial)
  18. XTC: Drums & Wires (Virgin)
  19. Elvis Costello: Armed Forces (CBS)
  20. The Jam: Setting Sons (Polydor)
  21. Buzzcocks: Singles Going Steady (A&M)
  22. Soft Boys: A Can of Bees (Aural)
  23. Linton Kwesi Johnson: Forces of Victory (Island)
  24. Graham Parker: Squeezing Out the Sparks (Arista)
  25. The Talking Heads: Fear of Music (Sire)
  26. The Mekons: Quality of Mercy (Virgin, UK)
  27. Cecil Taylor: 3 Phasis (New World)
  28. Various: Tooth & Nail (Upsetter)
  29. Lou Reed: Bells (RCA)
  30. LaDonna Smith, Davey Williams & Andre Centazzo: Velocities (Trans Museq)
  31. Tom Verlaine: Tom Verlaine (Elektra)
  32. Leonard Cohen: Recent Songs (CBS)
  33. Marianne Faithful: Broken English (Island)
  34. Michael Jackson: Off the Wall (Epic)
  35. Only Ones: Even Serpents Shine (CBS, UK)
  36. The Pretenders: The Pretenders (Warner Brothers)
  37. Angelic Upstarts: Teenage Warning (Warner Brothers, UK)
  38. Patti Smith: Wave (Arista)
  39. Arthur Blythe: Lenox Avenue Breakdown (CBS)
  40. John Fahey: Visits Washington DC (Takoma)
  41. Lizzy Mercier Descloux: Press Color (Ze)
  42. Ian Hunter: You’re Never Alone With A Schizophrenic (Chrysalis)
  43. Crass: Stations of the Crass (Crass)
  44. The Residents: Eskimo (Ralph)
  45. Ornette Coleman & Charlie Haden: Soapsuds, Soapsuds (Artists House)
  46. Anne Lebaron, Davey Williams, & LaDonna Smith: Jewels (Trans Museq)
  47. Nurse With Wound: Chance Meeting On A Dissecting Table of a Sewing Machine (Dirter)
  48. Alternative TV: Vibing the Senile Man (Deptford)
  49. Fred Frith & Henry Kaiser: With Friends Like These (Metalanguage)
  50. Germs: GI (Slash)
  51. ACDC: Highway to Hell (Atlantic)
  52. Neil Young: Rust Never Sleeps (Reprise)
  53. The Ramones: Its Alive (Sire)
  54. The Undertones: The Undertones (Sire)
  55. Adam & the Ants: Dirk Wears White Socks (Do It, UK)
  56. Richard Lloyd: Alchemy (Elektra)
  57. David Bowie: Lodger (RCA)
  58. Peter Tosh: Mystic Man (Rolling Stones)
  59. Bob Dylan: Slow Train Coming (CBS)
  60. Robert Fripp: Exposure (EG)

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Teal Triggs: Fanzines: The DIY Revolution (Chronicle Books) This is a beautiful, folio-sized, 256-page history of zines, that is long over-due and as close to perfect as anything I have seen. It has page after page of full color cover reproductions with accompanying brief descriptive words. It is magical to witness all my old pals enshrined in what amounts to an art-book: Rollerderby, Nancy's Magazine, Murder Can Be Fun, Answer Me!, Vague, Sniffin' Glue, and many other deserving and not-so deserving zines from "back in the day". One sad omission I cannot stop myself from whining about is my own valiant effort, LowLife. Perhaps, I imagined those 17 issues: mailed out to addresses all over the country. Or perhaps not. 20 plus years ago the Rev. Ivan Stang published a very nice run-down of then current zine-world called High Weirdness By Mail (Simon & Schuster, 1988). Stang found a place for LowLife despite the fact my magazine was in adolescent form. His description remains a source of pride: "A generally disgusting celebration of everything uncouth... ...No reason for this to exist. Pretty damn cool!" Thanks Ivan. You remain in my prayers. While on the subject I should also complain about two other fine Atlanta zines not included: Useless Knowledge and Ratlanta. In fact there are thousands of worthy zines omitted from this hefty book. There is no way to include everything, but my pitiful feelings remain hurt. For the rest of the world, for anyone who is sane, this book will look fine sitting upon the better coffee-tables.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

I have taken many weeks to gather my memories of 1978 music. There was a lot to consider, more than 1977 or '76 or any of the years I have thus far considered going back to '65. '78 was the year the gates opened wide and the punk/new wave/post punk flood began in earnest. That flood would never subside. In fact "flood" does not do justice to the changes that began in '78 and continue to this very year, this very day. "Snowball" would be a better analogy, but I am getting far ahead of myself. After '77, it seemed unlikely another year would follow to rival the great sounds of Richard Hell, Peter Tosh, Ornette Coleman and the rest of that year of great records. Yet here it was, the very next year and again there were 20 -- perhaps 30 -- records of #1 quality. So much good music, 32 years later, I am still trying to catch up with the music 1978 had to give. The meaning of such terms as "punk" and "new wave" quickly began to blur, losing whatever meaning they ever had. "Post punk" hardly solves the happy problem. Good music never needed a pigeonhole to fill. Pere Ubu, Television, Magazine, Public Image Ltd., Wire and many others were playing music not easy to shove into any labeled boxes. These new sounds resonate decades later, as fresh and difficult to simplify as the day they were released.

Best LPs of 1978

1. Captain Beefheart: Shiny Beast/Bat Chain Puller (Warner Brothers)
2. Pere Ubu: Dub Housing (Chrysalis)
3. Air: Open Air Suite (Arista Novus)
4. Sun Ra: Lanquidity (Philly Jazz)
5. The Contortions/Teenage Jesus & the Jerks/Mars/D.N.A.: No New York (Antilles)
6. Big Star: Third (PVC)
7. Pere Ubu: The Modern Dance (Blank)
8. Wire: Chairs Missing (Harvest)
9. Television: Adventure (Elektra)
10. Magazine: Real Life (Virgin)
11. Public Image Ltd.: Public Image (Virgin)
12. Lou Reed: Street Hassle (RCA)
13. X-Ray Spex: Germ Free Adolescents (EMI)
14. Crass: Feeding the 5000 (Crass)
15. Lee Scratch Perry: Roast Fish, Collie Weed & Corn Bread (Upsetter LP)
16. The Clash: Give Em Enough Rope (CBS)
17. Siouxsie & the Banshees: The Scream (Polydor)
18. Patti Smith: Easter (Arista)
19. The Talking Heads: More Songs About Buildings & Food (Sire)
20. Elvis Costello: This Year's Model (CBS)
21. Ry Cooder: Jazz (Reprise)
22. David Behrman: On the Other Ocean/Figures in a Clearing (Lovely)
23. La Dusseldorf: Viva (Radar, UK)
24. Funkadelic: One Nation Under A Groove (Warner Brothers)
25. Devo: Are We Not Men, We Are Devo (Warner Brothers)
26. Radio Birdman: Radios Appear (Sire)
27. Ornette Coleman: Body Meta (Artists House, France)
28. Residents: Duck Stab/Buster & Glen (Ralph)
29. Culture: Two Sevens Clash (Lightning, UK)
30. The Saints: Eternally Yours (Harvest)
31. Throbbing Gristle: DOA/3rd & Final Report (Industrial)
32. Sam Rivers: Waves (Tomato)
33. Air: Montreaux Suisse (Arista Novus)
34. Willie Nelson: Stardust (CBS)
35. The Jam: All Mod Cons (Polydor)
36. Various: Pebbles, Volume 1 -- Original Artyfacts From The First Punk Era (Mastercharge, AUS)
37. Peter Tosh: Bush Doctor (Rolling Stones)
38. Cecil Taylor: The Cecil Taylor Unit (New World)
39. LaDonna Smith, Davey Williams & Ted Brown: Folk Music (Trans Museq)
40. XTC: White Music (Virgin)
41. Al Green: Truth 'n' Time (Hi)
42. Tom Waits: Blue Valentine (Asylum)
43. Bob Marley & the Wailers: Kaya (Island)
44. XTC: Go 2 (Virgin)
45. AMM: To Hear & Back Again (Matchless)
46. Brian Eno: Music For Films (EG)
47. Henry Cow: Western Culture (Recommended, UK)
48. The Ramones: Road to Ruin (Sire)
49. Adverts: Crossing the Red Sea (Bright, UK)
50. Alternative TV: The Image Has Cracked (Deptford, UK)
51. Holy Modal Rounders: Last Round (Adelphi)
52. Parliament: Motor Booty Afair (Casablanca)
53. The Rezillos: Can't Stand the Rezillos (Sire)
54. Johnny Thunder: So Alone (Real, UK)
55. Bootsy Collins: Player of the Year (Warner Brothers)
56. Kraftwerk: The Man-Machine (Capital)
57. The Only Ones: The Only Ones (CBS, UK)
58. Townes Van Zandt: Flying Shoes (Tomato)
59. John Prine: Bruised Orange (Asylum)
60. Flamin' Groovies: Now (Sire)
61. Alternative TV: What You See (Deptford)
62. Joe Ely: Honky Tonk Masquerade (MCA)