Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Stinky Le Pew Has A Mixtape For You!

Hector, Buck Naked, and Stinky LePew
If you frequent the Twilight Zone blog, you may be familiar with Stinky and his masterful mixtapes, which often involve inventive themes. Stinky and I bonded over our mutial fondness for the music of Pearl Harbour, and his nom de blog is a tribute to the guitarist from Buck Naked and The Bare Bottom Boys (who backed Pearl on her last album).

Stinky graciously accepted my invitation to share one of his creations on this blog. Sound Effects Records No.1 features 22 songs that incorporate sound effects. Engines roar, thunder booms, crowds cheer, and coins clatter. 

If someone challenged you to make a playlist of songs that contain sound effects, you might come up with some of the more popular selections on this mix, but I guarantee that you wouldn't think of all of them! From girl groups to glam, golden oldies to New Romantics, skinheads to metalheads ... There's a method to Stinky's musical madness, and the message of this mix is that sound effects add a special touch to an eclectic range of tunes. He's promised me that Sound Effects Records No.2 is on the way. Merci beaucoup, Monsieur Le Pew!


Friday, November 2, 2018

Hope I Get Too Old To Rock And Roll Before I Die

This week it was announced -- or rather, confirmed -- that Hardy Fox has died. Mr. Fox announced his death himself a few weeks ago. In 2015, he retired from The Residents, and last year he identified himself as their primary composer. This is an unprecedented series of public admissions from someone who created music in anonymity for almost 50 years. 

After numerous solo releases under several pseudonyms, he released his first album under his own name, Hardy Fox (Heart). He also completed an autobiographical book called This before he died, which is available for free at In this book he mentions that Talking Light was his favorite tour (the one that introduced "Randy, Chuck and Bob"), but he was uncomfortable with Randy's onstage revelations about Chuck's private life:

"Randy (said) that Chuck was gay, lived on a farm, and was the composer of The Residents music," Hardy wrote. "Since these things were all vaguely true I only became more and more certain that I was this person and not a member of some anonymous music ensemble. The two were not compatible. It was a small death.

"It was the start of the end. Or maybe it was the end, and therefore a start. A start of a new expression of independence. I had to stop touring since it no longer worked for me, but I was not yet ready to be placed in the proverbial pasture. The Touring Residents went on their usual circuits without me. I stayed on the farm writing music that was not needed by the Touring Residents. After 2008, I made personal albums disguised as The Residents, as Sonidos de la Noche, as Chuck, and eventually as Charles Bobuck."

I saw The Residents only once, in 2010. I can't describe the sensation of seeing and hearing "the Singing Resident" in person. It was a voice I had known since my teens. The singer wore a mask that covered half his face. He called himself Randy Rose. It was a new way for The Residents to play with the ideas of identity and anonymity, public and private selves.  

Hardy Fox's announcement of his own death drew another contrast between the lives we lead in public and in private. For several weeks, in music news and social media, he was Schrödinger's Fox: perhaps still alive, possibly already dead. Only his close friends and caregivers knew for sure.

"Despite any formal training," The Residents' official website curiously states in its obituary for Hardy Fox, "his musicality was nevertheless unique, highly refined and prolific." In Hardy's own words, "I don’t compose. I am a builder. I construct music from things both found and played. Music pieces are contraptions. Music is a well-told lie."
photo by Leigh Barbier

The Residents continue as an entity that records and performs music. A new album called Intruders was released in October; a 50th anniversary European tour called "In Between Dreams" begins in January. 

Homer Flynn has allowed the mask to slip a little further. On Halloween, he appeared (uncostumed) at City Lights Bookstore to read from The Brickeaters, a novel credited to The Residents. In an April interview, Flynn said that he has "no intention of retiring." 

Hardy Fox is gone, but the music (and the well-told lies) of The Residents will go on.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Guest Spots: Hollie Cook

Ari, Tessa, and Hollie
This has been a busy year for Hollie Cook: her third album Vessel Of Love (produced by Youth) was her first to be released in the US (on Merge Records). She has a new single, a version of "Sweet Like Chocolate" (a UK #1 hit for Shanks & Bigfoot in 1998).  Mad Professor's upcoming compilation album Queens Of Ariwa includes another new Hollie track, "Sunshine Holiday".

Hollie is also in demand as a guest vocalist, and she sings on new releases by The Orb, Gentleman's Dub Club, the Rotten Hill Gang, and They Say Jump (the latter featuring Hollie's longtime drummer and deejay Horseman). 
Paulie and Hollie

Hollie Cook's mother is a singer, and her father is apparently also a musician of some sort. She has shared stages with Ari Up and Mick Jones, and both Jah Wobble and Keith Levene guested on Vessel Of Love

Hollie and Charles Rowell from the group Crocodiles had a duo called Psychic Dancehall (Fall fan alert!) They recorded versions of "He Hit Me (And It Felt Like A Kiss)" and "Long Lost Lover" (originally by the Love Joys) on their 2011 album Dreamers

Hollie has also covered The Whispers' "And The Beat Goes On", the Shangri-Las' "Walking In The Sand", the Classics IV's 1968 hit "Spooky", the Andrews Sisters' oldie "For Me You Are" and the Carpenters' "Superstar".  She contributed a version of "You Know I'm No Good" to an Amy Winehouse tribute album. Hollie shares with Pearl Harbour and Amy Winehouse an appreciation for the girl groups of the 60's. I shared Hollie's version of Rachel Sweet's "It's So Different Here" in my last post.

Hollie Cook has immense talent as a songwriter and performer. Her records evoke the pre-digital days of classic reggae and dancehall. Her lovely voice recalls the pure and simple charms of singers like Caroll Thompson, Susan Cadogan and Dawn Penn. Hollie prefers to call her own music "tropical pop". I highly recommend all three Hollie Cook albums, and the dub LP produced by Prince Fatty.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Gareth Two: Gareth Liddiard

Fiona Kitschin and Gareth Liddiard during the first TFS American tour.
Tropical Fuck Storm is an Australian group led by Drones singer/guitarist Gareth Liddiard, with guitarist Erica Dunn, Fiona Kitschin (Drones) on bass, and drummer Lauren "Hammer" Hammel. Tropical Fuck Storm's debut album,  A Laughing Death In Meatspace, was released earlier this year in Australia, and will see US release on October 26 on the Joyful Noise label. TFS has returned to the USA in October for a two week tour with Modest Mouse. 

Tropical Fuck Storm also recently released split single with Liars. The b-sides of the first four TFS singles have wonderful non-LP covers of Australian artists (Lost Animal, The Nation Blue, Divinyls, and the Bee Gees). I have become obsessed with the song "Lose The Baby" -- the understated menace of the Lost Animal original as well as the supersized TFS version, with Liddiard and Dunn's guitars and the backing vocals by Dunn and Kitschin.

Here are a half dozen cover songs and the originals that inspired them: Lose The Baby, It's So Different Here (Hollie Cook/Rachel Sweet), Baby Doll (The Duke Spirit/Alex Chilton), You Can't Take Love For Granted (Marti Jones/Graham Parker), Flatlands (Mark Lanegan/Chelsea Wolfe), and Neon Lights (Kevin Kane/Kraftwerk).


Friday, September 28, 2018

Gareth One: Gareth Sager

Gareth Sager & The Hungry Ghosts have just released Juicy Rivers, a new album on Scotland's influential Creeping Bent label. Guests include Davy Henderson (Fire Engines, Win, Nectarine No.9, and Sexual Objects) and the late great poet Jock Scot. "Ten stunning tracks of avant-punk funk sound and fury," the press release calls it. 

Perhaps best known as guitarist for The Pop Group and Rip Rig & Panic, Gareth Sager has had a lengthy and fascinating musical career.  Two years ago the equally fascinating blog Nothin' Sez Somethin' indulged my obsession and allowed me to go into excessive depth about Gareth's post-RR&P music:

The Bristol band Head; Sager's first two solo albums; his group Pregnant; and his collaborations with aforementioned Creeping Bent associates Davy Henderson and Jock Scot (plus a few tracks from the reunited Pop Group).

Further listening: Gareth Sager's mixtapes for Lynchland and The Voice Of Cassandre; and his recent interview with Mike Watt.  Photo from Sager's Twitter: members of Head (stoned?) on Kerouac's headstone.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Pearl Harbour (Part 2): The Missing Years

Promo photo for Here Comes Trouble.
Looks like the same bikini, 25 years later!
Back in the USA, there was a gap in Pearl's musical activities until she became inspired by a SF rockabilly trio known as Buck Naked And The Bare Bottom Boys. She started writing songs with the band, but Buck Naked was tragically shot to death in 1992. The resulting album, Here Comes Trouble, was dedicated to his memory. East Bay Ray played lead guitar, and the group recorded covers of You've Got My Number (Why Don't You Use It) by the Undertones, and the Richard Berry classic Have Love Will Travel

Pearl with East Bay Ray in 1995
The album went unreleased until Pearl met a former classmate from her childhood in Germany who had started a record label. Here Comes Trouble (1995) was Pearl's last solo album. She guested on a 2002 record by rockabilly band The Colts, singing Brand New Cadillac and her best known song, Fujiyama Mama.

Since then, Pearl has parlayed her longstanding passion for vintage clothing and collectibles into a line of custom designed handbags. She has appeared in several books (including an interview in 2005's Wacky Chicks by Simon Doonan) and films (including the 2012 documentary The Rise And Fall Of The Clash).  

Pearl in the film Siren by Viv Albertine
Pearl in 2018
Here's Pearl on the end of the Clash: "It is hard to replace people. It is hard to replace your youth. You can't have money and pretend you don't.  I don't see it as much of a mystery that when you get a little bit older, you can't be a crazy-ass punk unless you're a loser." 

Promotional comic for Here Comes Trouble
Things I would love to see or hear: "Two Bullets" by Pearl Harbour And The Palaminos (a song from the film Sid & Nancy that did not appear on the soundtrack album); the "Killer Joe" music video (directed by Don Letts); Siren (a 1986 film directed by Viv Albertine); and the Pearl Harbour comic book!

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Blogging About Music Is Like Tweeting About Architecture

URGENT UPDATE: I Hate The 90's was hit with increased ISP fees and is in need of donations. This blog (despite its name) is a priceless repository of alt-rock from that magic decade, and Chel has always been very responsive to requests. Now she has a request for her readers: a few bucks to keep a fabulous music blog alive. Let's do it!

The Bleak Bliss crew is armed with crates of Caroliner, and Nathan Nothin' is dishing up sizzling hot dubplates like a stoned short order cook.  

Die Or DIY's rock tsar Jonny Zchivago took a vacation -- all those Jandek Mondays must have been too much to bear. RYP stepped out of the Twilight Zone for a vacation of his own. Coincidence?

Alabaster Jones, pharmacist at the Proto Punk Apothecary, has a black bag of bootlegs from the Runaways, Dead Boys, Heartbreakers, MC5, Only Ones, Patti Smith, Iggy, Dictators, Rocket From The Tombs, and more junk in a similar vein. Bootlegs are also behind the counter at Doom & Gloom From The Tomb and the mighty mighty McKenzie Tapes.

Voodoo Wagon and its sibling blog Floppy Boot Stomp have live recordings ranging from old punks (Television, Buzzcocks, Husker Du) to old farts (Beefheart, Zappa, Neil Young, Miles Davis) and points in between (PJ Harvey, Mazzy Star, Tom Waits). 

If punk rock changed your life, answer me these questions three: why does Dr. Drunk Ruin Everything? Why Do Things Have To Change? And am I destined to be Old, Weak, But Always A Wanker? Don't answer that last one.

Down Underground has done the world a service by compiling the complete discography of Scotland's sound sculptors The Rezillos. The Swinging Singles Club is back to its regular rotation after a season-long survey of the recorded works of Homer & Jethro

Y'all like mixtapes? I like the mixes Matt makes at Bigger Splashes, Jay Hinman's Dynamite HemorrhageIan Manire's  Musicophilia, Chris Bond's Vibracobra23, and (last but most bestly) Roy Pearl's The Un-Herd Music.