Saturday, March 31, 2012

Boyd Reno is John Center

He's also Gray Beast, a musical collaboration with childhood chum, Lucas Spider. Both musicians jettisoned the Duke City for Seattle long ago, that doesn't mean that we don't miss them. This post is a teaser for a subsequent article that should tell you everything you ever wanted to know about Albuquerque's late, great  Oh, Ranger!

8 Tracks is kind of funny about posting the same artist more than twice, so I had to play around with the artist titles, 4 tracks from Boyd Reno is John Center (demos from 2009, still awaiting the next John Center album) and 4 tracks from Gray Beast's "The Album that killed its Parents" if you add those up, you'll see that it makes eight. As Paul Harvey would say "Stand by! for the rest of the story."

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Thursday, March 22, 2012

Sleaze Rock

Shabby,  dirty,  vulgar and tawdry. It's time for another edition of Dirt City Chronicle's "Sleaze Rock Specials."  I Love YouTube, let me count the ways... 1, 2, 3, 4  as in four morally suspect videos of shoddy quality. Go ahead and watch them, what happens in the Dirt City stays in the Dirt City.

This sleaze rock special is S.mouse! with "Poo on You" (the less said about it, the better ) S.mouse! is a fictional character from Angry Boys,  an Australian mockumentary. He's actually Chris Lilley, who's white and performs in blackface while wearing an afro wig.  Poo on him. Top You Tube Comment: "Yes I'm totally singing this fo da talet show XD"    MrNonvadidness

This sleaze rock special is a sordid, wide eyed "All Tomorrow's Parties" performed by Nico. The Teutonic  titwillow channels Bernadette Peters, it's damn near sacrilegous to bag on Nico, but this should prove once and for all that heroin does not enhance an artist's performance. Top YouTube Comment:  "Baked or not, I think her biggest problems here are an indifferent audience who won't shut up" mramone

This sleaze rock special features the trite hipster caterwauling of Our Broken Garden - Seven Wild Horses - In The Woods. Now we know why the Blair Witch was pissed off. Listening to this is like trying to taste air.  3:10 of droning vocals does not make for good music. Top YouTube Comment: "No more hipster videos in Beechtree forests please" theekrusher

This sleaze rock special crosses the line from sleaziness to crass ignorance. Let's not forget that Hitler was Austrian, as is  Nachtmahr (Thomas Rainer)  "Mein Name" is chock full of pseudo Nazi imagery. It could be parody or ironic satire, either way it's in poor fucking taste.  Top YouTube Comment: Ihr zerstört die Gesellschaft mit eurem Monotonen dummen Denken

Sunday, March 18, 2012

8 Tracks: Hey Joe

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Saturday, March 17, 2012

For a Song: Hey Joe

Ain't no hang-man gonna put a rope around me

It's a myth propagated by Hollywood, played out in countless westerns and horse operas. Long before Taco Bell hijacked the phrase "make a run for the border" it was associated with hope and freedom. Escaping over the border into Mexico was a way out for men facing the hangman or prison. Movie makers would have us believe that Mexico was a lawless land, where authorities were willing to turn a blind eye. There was some truth to the myth, but by the 1880's that was rarely the case.

Whatever tolerance Mexicans may have had for lawbreaking Gringos on the run had worn thin. An American outlaw  fleeing across the border was just as likely to run afoul of Mexican authorities. The Arizona cowboys who tangled with Wyatt Earp (well portrayed in George Cosmatos' 1993 film "Tombstone") were not welcomed in Mexico due to their tendency to rustle Mexican cattle and shoot Mexican citizens. It's highly unlikely that any of them looked to Mexico as a safe haven.

The experience of  Dave Rudabaugh (immortalized by Christian Slater in Young Guns) is a good example of the changing times.  Known as Dirty Dave, for his aversion to soap and water, Rudabaugh played out his rope in the States and fled to Mexico. Unable to lay low and blend in, Dirty Dave soon found himself in a fracas with locals in Parral, Chih. Rudabaugh shot two men dead and wounded another over a card game gone wrong. He then fled the cantina, only to find his horse missing.

With typical dunderhead arrogance he marched back into the establishment to demand his horse back. Rudabaugh was promptly shot dead and decapitated. His head was impaled on a post and displayed for three weeks. Many U.S. outlaws met their end south of the border, waylaided for the boots on their feet or the horses they rode in on. There's no real way of knowing how many outlaws actually found Mexico to be a place where "they could be free"

Country music is brimming with odes to Mexico (Riding my Thumb to Mexico- Johnny Rodgriguez, I Got Mexico- Eddy Raven, Blame it on on Mexico- George Straight, That's Why God Made Mexico- Tim McGraw, Stays in Mexico- Toby Keith, just to name a few) all without exception take a romanticized, simplistic view of life on the other side. There's not as many rock songs that deal with the subject, with the most obvious being "Hey Joe" a song with a back story as seedy as any criminal making tracks for the border.

An unapologetic murder ballad, "Hey Joe" uses a chord progression based on the circle of fifths. Country singer Carl Smith recorded a song called "Hey Joe" in 1953. It's not the same tune, although both songs use a "question & answer" format ( "Hey Joe, what are you gonna do?, Take my pistol, and kill her before I’m through") Billy Roberts' original could have been based on a traditional ballad "Little Sadie" which is about a man who shoots his cheating wife.

It could also be a coincidence that Roberts' girlfriend, a folk singer named Niela Miller recorded "Baby, Please Don’t Go To Town" in 1955, a song that uses the same exact chord progression as "Hey Joe." The similarites between "Baby, Please Don't Go to Town" and "Hey Joe" are such that you can't discount the probability that Roberts nicked the music from Niela. The original lead sheet and lyrics were registered for copyright by Billy Roberts in 1962. To further muddy the water, Scottish folk singer, Len Partridge claimed that he co-wrote the song in 1956, while Billy  was staying in Scotland. It's a dubious claim at best, and Partridge never pursued it in a court of law.

Most versions of "Hey Joe" (including Hendrix's) credit Billy Roberts as the author. The original lyrics don't always match other versions, Roberts' version begins with the line "Hey Joe, where you goin’ with that money in your hand? and then continues with "Chasin’ my woman, she run off with another man, Goin downtown, buy me a Forty Four"  Hendrix on the other hand starts with "Hey Joe, where you goin' with that gun in your hand" that line is repeated, then he answers, "I'm goin' down to shoot my old lady, You know I caught her messin' 'round with another man." 

Chester Powers beget Chet Powers, who beget Jesse Farrow, who beget Dino Valenti.  He was a singer/songwriter who relocated to Los Angeles from Boston just as L.A.'s nascent folk rock scene was starting to coalesce. Valenti had written the ultimate hippie anthem "Get Together", ("Come on people... smile on your brother, everybody get together right now.") However in 1963, flower power was still four years away. The Kingston Trio & We Five both recorded the song, but neither version was a hit. Which brings us back to Billy Roberts and "Hey Joe." As he was prone to do, Valenti found himself in a legal tangle following a drug bust.

As his good friend, Billy was feeling sorry for Dino. With legal fees piling up, Roberts signed over the songwriter credit for "Hey Joe" so that Dino would have some form of income after his release from jail. Some claim that's nonsense and that Dino Valenti simply stole the song from Roberts (who apparently stole it from Niela Miller) Nonetheless, a remorseless Valenti took credit for writing the song and taught it to David Crosby, who taught it to other L.A. musicians including Jim Pons, of  The Leaves and Arthur Lee of Love. (Sonny & Cher even picked up on it, with Cher recording her own version)

As some folks like to say, "don't fuck with karma." Valenti's quintessential Summer of Love anthem, "Get Together" turned out to be a bonanza. First The Jefferson Airplane included it on their debut album and then in 1969, it was a smash hit for The Youngbloods (two years after they had first recorded their version) Not that Valenti saw any money from the song's huge success, having sold off the royalty rights to pay for a lawyer to help get him out of jail. Dino who was now the lead singer for Quicksilver Messenger Service, simply rolled with the flow.

The Leaves, a Los Angeles garage punk band recorded the first rock version of "Hey Joe" in 1965. They gave the songwriting credit to Dino Valenti. Their first version was poorly recorded and ended up sounding like a demo, it flopped. They went back to the studio and recorded a cleaner version, this one hit.  In 1967, The Music Machine deconstructed the song, turning it into a psychedelic sludge fest. Sean Bonniwell brazenly mixed original lyrics with improvisations like "I guess I'll take my life down in Mexico" or "Hey Joe you can't die until you talk" and my favorite "I see that death is the glove that fits the hand of time" (all the band members wore a single black glove, a quirk made famous by Bobby Jameson and of course Michael Jackson )

When The Leaves broke the song on the national scene, David Crosby was so excited about the part he had played in its success, that he insisted that The Byrds also record it with himself on vocals. This version admirably sticks to Roberts' original, even if the tempo was too fast and Crosby's vocals were totally inadequate. The Leaves' version hit the charts in 1966, the same year Hendrix started playing it and also when Chas Chandler (ex-bassist for the Animals, turned manager & talent scout) turned up in New York City.

There's also a question whether folk singer Tim Rose stole the song or not. Rose started playing the song in 1966 at Club Wha?  Which was fine, except he claimed that it was an arrangement of a traditional song he had heard while growing up in Florida, and gave himself the songwriting credit. Rose would go so far as to record the song under a different title (Blue Steel .44) and throughout his lifetime steadfastly refused to relinquish his claim on the song. (He also stole "Morning Dew" but that's a different story)

Chas Chandler caught Rose's act at Club Wha? and set out to find someone to record a rock version for release in the U.K. It just so happened that Jimmy James & The Blue Flames (Jimi Hendrix) were booked at Club Wha? the next night. To Chandler's amazement, Hendrix was already playing his own version of "Hey Joe" Chas swept up Jimi and took him to London where they recorded a single (Hey Joe / Stone Free) he took it to Decca's Dick Rowe, who naturally passed on it  ("not very impressive is it?") Eventually he signed Hendrix to Reprise and the rest is history.

"Hey Joe" was the only cover song included on Hendrix's debut album "Are you Experienced?" On the album sleeve, "Hey Joe" is described as ""A blues arrangement of an old cowboy song that's about 100 years old." This and Tim Rose's claim that it was a traditional song led to much confusion in the U.K. (traditional songs can't be copyrighted, so anyone is free to play or record them without a fee) Jimi Hendrix gave Billy Roberts credit in the U.S., but took the credit for himself in the U.K.  In order to tailor the song to the times, Hendrix had taken a few liberties with the original lyrics, he felt this justified a song writing credit.

British mod band, Marmalade in need of a cheap B-side, recorded "Hey Joe" because they assumed it was a traditional song. The song became a moderate hit in England, but then as one band member stated: "The bloke who wrote the bloody song, came out of the woodwork and demanded his money" It doesn't say who that "bloke" was, but I get a feeling it was Tim Rose. The cover versions kept coming, The Shadows of Knight (killer) Wilson Pickett (awkward) Patti Smith (strange) Roy Buchanan (excellent) Cher (dog poo) Music Machine (wickedly good) The Byrds (stiff) Love (Arthur Lee could sing from a phone book and sound good)

Deep Purple stretched the song out to almost eight minutes and then gave themselves songwriting credit. Frank Zappa's parody of "Hey Joe" titled "Flower Punk" (from the album "We're only in it for the Money") captures the essence of the song in all it's sleazy glory "Hey punk where you goin' with that flower in your hand?" "I'm goin' up to Frisco to join a psychedelic band" it rips the hippie movement "Hey Punk, where you goin' with those beads around your neck?", "I'm goin' to the shrink so he can help me be a nervous wreck" Zappa totally kills it, even Tim Rose didn't have the nerve to claim this version as his.

The romantic notion of Mexico as a place to escape from the law has been replaced over the years by a more jaded view. "Let's drive that old Chrysler down to Mexico, boy!"  ZZ Top's "Mexican Blackbird" is about the pursuit of tequila and brown cooter, rather than freedom. "If you're down in Acuna and you ain't up to being alone" Generations of young Texan males motored down to the border towns looking for some tush "They all call her puta 'cause no one really knows her name" just go first, you don't want ZZ Top's sloppy seconds. "The wings of the blackbird will spread like an eagle for you."

By the 1980's Texans heading for the border had pharmaceuticals in mind "Take me, Mexican Caravan, south of, south of the Rio Grande" The Butthole Surfer's "Mexican Caravan" spoke for a new generation of border hoppers "Take me to that Miguel town, where I can score some of that heroin brown" the outlaw mystique was shot to hell "Push me into the garbage can, teach this white boy to be Mexican" with that I say, Adios Cabrones! "Push me into the Rio Grande, give this white boy the big suntan" but, I leave secure in the knowledge that I answered the age old question: "Hey Joe... where you gonna go?" 

Monday, March 12, 2012

Death By Misadventure- Andrew Wood

"You ever heard the story of Mr. Faded Glory? Say he who rides a pony must someday fall."

I've touched on this before, many Northwest rockers of the 1990's were poorly prepared for the pressures of stardom.  A few Seattle based vocalists, survived the rise and fall of grunge rock.  As most dull boys tend to do, they played it safe and lived to tell the tale. However, they all paled in comparison to Andrew Wood. The Love Child was born to be the stardog champion, he had the looks and charisma that all his contemporaries seemed to lack.  A natural showman, Andrew craved and thrived under the spotlight. 

Raised in Bainbridge Island,Wa.  Andrew formed Malfunkshun in 1980 (he was 14 years old) with his brother Kevin and drummer Regan Hagar. Malfunkshun is generally credited as being one of the first grunge bands, although Woods would describe them as  a glam rock band. Malfunkshun's music was more experimental and psychedelic than the heavy, stunted sound of grunge. Wood, was not a product of the grunge era, his style owed far more to Robert Plant, Freddie Mercury and the hard rock bands of the 1970's. 

As front man for Malfunkshun, Andrew took on the persona of  Landrew the Love Child.  described as "a hippie, glammed-out rock & roll god, equal parts Marc Bolan and Jim Morrison" Long before anyone coined the term "grunge" Andrew Wood was drawing attention.  Malfunkshun recorded a handful of demo tapes, but the major labels showed little interest.  In 1987 after fledgling indie label, Sub Pop turned them down as "not being grunge enough" the band's fate was sealed.

The next step for Andrew was Lords of the Wasteland, a cover band notable only because it brought Woods, Jeff Ament & Stone Gossard together for the first time. Both Ament and Gossard were former members of another seminal Seattle "grunge" band, Green River. With the addition of ex-Skin Yard drummer Greg Gilmore and Green River's Bruce Fairweather, The Lords evolved into Mother Love Bone. Andrew continued to perform with Malfunkshun throughout 1988, before they called it quits later that year.  

 Wood's exuberant, outlandish onstage personality was fueled by drug use. Like Brad Nowell, Andrew was lured to heroin because he felt it made him larger than life. The drugs transformed him into The Love Child, a figure that spoke in an effeminate voice and stared at the world in childlike wonderment.  By the time Mother Love Bone formed he was already deep into his addiction, which prompted a stint at a rehab center. The resulting moment of clarity catapulted MLB to the forefront of the Seattle rock scene.

1988 was a pivotal year for grunge rock, Nirvana released it's first single "Love Buzz" on Sup Pop and Mother Love Bone was signed to Mercury Records, a subsidiary of Polygram. As part of the deal, the band would receive their own exclusive label, Stardog Records.  Mother Love Bone's first release "Shine" (a 5 song ep, with a hidden track) came out in 1989. All Music would gush, "the record contributed to the buzz about the Seattle music scene" MLB's updated Led Zep riffs, sold well enough to warrant an album.

Chloe Dancer/Crown of Thorns starts with Andrew at the piano, his voice is soulful and mesmerizing. Even a casual listener can appreciate the depth of talent, the range, the vision. Andrew and Mother Love Bone were stoked at the positive reception the ep received. (two years before Nirvana's "Nevermind") "Shine" marked the dawn of a new era in rock music, it was so good that now you can't help but wonder, how the fuck did this get overlooked?

Heroin use was rampant in Seattle, especially amongst the uber hip grunge pioneers. Andrew had been a heavy user for four years, this despite numerous attempts to clean up. Soundgarden's Chris Cornell would later sum up the prevailing attitude "We worked together at a cafe. I never said, What the fuck is wrong with you?" Cornell continued "I'm sure there were enough people in his life saying that to him." It seems that Andrew's charisma and self confidence led to the misconception that he had it under control.

"for my mommy's memory, that's all she wrote boy...that's all she wrote for me"

In late 1989, Mother Love Bone journeyed to Sausalito, Ca. to record "Apple" their debut album, at The Plant with producer Terry Date. (they would finish the process at London Bridge studios in Seattle) Although the band had been together just over a year, the sessions produced an album that ranks as one of hard rock's best. Rolling Stone would describe it as "Succeeding where countless other hard rock albums have failed, capturing the essence of what made Led Zeppelin immortal."

Difficulties plagued Mother Love Bone during the recording process, some of which were related to Andrew's worsening addiction. The band however soldiered on and finished the album on schedule. You can draw several parallels between Andrew Wood and Bradley Nowell, even if their musical styles were world's apart.  Both were heroin addicts, Nowell died of an overdose in Petaluma, Ca. during his final tour and Wood started his slide towards tragedy while recording "Apple" in nearby Sausalito.

Just like Andrew Wood, Bradley Nowell would also die of an overdose with an iconic debut album set for release. On March 16th, 1990 as Stardog/Mercury was making the final preparations before the "Apple" release, Wood's girlfriend found him comatose in his apartment. Andrew had succumbed to a lethal dose of heroin. He was rushed to a hospital, where an examination showed no brain activity. His family then requested that he be taken off life support and Andrew passed away three days later.

After a short period of mourning and the anticipated hand wringing and hesitation by Polygram/Mercury executives, "Apple" was released on July 19, 1990 to rave reviews. How much of an impact would Andrew Wood have had on the national music scene? We'll never really know,  Andrew like Layne Staley had God given vocal talent, it's a shameful though inevitable waste. "Apple" withered on the charts, the release of Nirvana's "Nevermind" in 1991 would wipe the slate clean.

Following Wood's death, Chris Cornell (Andrew's room mate) teamed up with Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament to record a single in honor of Andrew. The project resulted in the "Temple of the Dog" album, recorded at London Bridge studios in Seattle and released on A & M records in 1991.  The musicians involved included Matt Cameron of Soundgarden, plus Eddie Vedder & Mike McCready (who were working with Gossard and Ament on the project that would eventually come to fruition as Pearl Jam.)

The single "Hunger Strike" was a duet between Cornell and Vedder, two more songs would emerge as  rock station staples, "Say Hello 2 Heaven" and "Reach Down" (both of which were written in tribute to Andrew Wood.) The album's success brought fitting closure for Andrew Wood's family, friends and fans.  A 2005 documentary " Malfunkshun: The Andrew Wood Story" was released on DVD in 2011 packaged with two cd's of music including never before released material from Malfunkshun. 

The documentary opens with David Wood, Andrew's father speaking at his memorial service, "You guys got to take care of yourselves, I can’t go through this again. You guys in the band, well, I bet you feel like you’re sold out, but Andy didn’t do this to you. He had everything in the world to live for and he lived for you. I hope you go on to be the biggest stars you can be. I want to see you guys on TV, but if you guys got to get another singer, don’t get a junkie.”  At the time of his death Andrew Wood was just 24 years old.

 "All I can say is that my life is pretty plain"

On the degenerate scale of outlandish drug use, Shannon Hoon ranks in the middle. Not that he didn't try, rather his time ran out before he could fully explore his capacity for depravity. There was something pathetic about Shannon, it might have been that Blind Melon was so obviously a flukey one-hit wonder.  Whatever it was, his death drew more derision or contempt than sympathy. His life hardly caused a ripple, his death barely raised a blip.

Hoon, the Indiana boy who grew up doing what Indiana boys do (he lettered in several high school sports) wanted to be a rock star. After graduation, he played with a few Lafayette, In. bands before striking out for Los Angeles.  Hoon had few attributes that made him stand out from the crowd, but he could sing.  It was his voice that led to an invitation from his future band mates, Brad Smith and Rogers Stevens  to join a band they were forming. 

Taking their name from a Cheech & Chong skit (Blind Melon Chitlin) they quickly landed a contract with Capitol Records.  Around the time Shannon Hoon joined Blind Melon, he befriended his sister's high school pal and fellow Hoosier, Axl Rose.  Guns N' Roses was in the studio recording the Use Your Illusion I and Use Your Illusion II albums. Axl invited Hoon to sing backing vocals on several tracks, most notably "Don't Cry" and "The Garden"

In 1992 Blind Melon released  its eponymous 1992 debut album, produced by Rick Parasha. The album stalled out for ten months before MTV picked up on the video for Blind Melon's single "No Rain." Soon, there was no escaping this pleasant little folk/rock ditty. Not on the radio and on MTV where it was in heavy rotation. The catalyst for all this attention was the presence of a pudgy girl wearing a bee costume, "The Bee Girl" won over the hearts and minds of millions, who also happened to like the song.

The album exploded on the charts and would eventually sell over 2 million copies. However, something didn't seem right, those that bought the album soon realized that "No Rain" was not representative of the album's overall sound. (a sure sign of a one hit wonder) To make matters worse, that goddamn Bee Girl seemed to be getting more attention than the band itself. In order to hit while the iron was still hot, Blind Melon hit the road and would keep right on touring for the next eighteen months.

Shannon Hoon had never been the most stable of lead singers, but now the pressures really started to build. Endless rounds of touring, appearances and the overwhelming need to follow up on their success pushed him to the breaking point. This culminated in his arrest for indecent exposure following a show in Vancouver, B.C. in 1993. According to police reports, Hoon raised the ire of the Canucks by performing his last three songs naked and then urinating into the audience.

While American sentiments towards Canada usually lean in the direction of "piss on them" it was inexcusable public behavior. Blind Melon's bus was blocked from leaving the venue as police moved in to arrest the lead singer. Hoon climbed out of a window and onto the roof of the bus, there he screamed incoherently at the police until his band mates talked him down. Shannon then spent the night in the drunk tank, followed by a couple of court dates and a fine.

Hoon's Canadian escapades came just a week after the entire band had posed naked on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine. (a career highlight, no doubt) Hoon who would often perform wearing a woman's dress was starting to come undone (to quote a notable Canadian, Burton Cummings)  Blind Melon's appearance at Woodstock '94, kept them in the spotlight, after which they retreated to New Orleans to continue working on their long delayed second album. 

"And it rips my life away, but it's a great escape" 

Blind Melon was often tagged as a pleasant alternative band with an affinity for neo-folk rock.  A Hootie & The Blow Fish for the hard rock crowd, so to speak. The band however, (especially Shannon) was coming from a much darker place. As a result "Soup" would be a sharp departure from their debut. On the second album Blind Melon's jam band tendencies came to the forefront, while at the same time, the lyrical focus was muddled.  Despite a flurry of hype, the album sank rapidly after its release in 1995.

To compensate, Blind Melon resorted to what had worked for them with the first album,  non-stop touring.  Hoon made an effort to clean up, returning to his hometown of Lafayette, Ind. where his girlfriend gave birth to a baby girl, whom they named Nico Blue. Shannon relished fatherhood, to outsiders it would seem that he had turned his life around. After a stint at a rehab center, Shannon and the band returned to the road. They even had a drug counselor shadowing Hoon to keep him off  drugs.

Shannon wasn't done with drugs, and after just a handful of concert dates, his counselor was fired for failing to keep him clean. Shannon's drug abuse had run rampant during the band's previous stay in New Orleans (while recording "Soup") Now in the fall of 1995 they rolled into the Big Easy once more for a show at Tipitina's. Hoon loved the city, but as he told The New Orleans Times-Picayune,  "(It's) a city where one's will power is tested daily"  It was a test that Shannon was not equipped to pass.

Shannon Hoon spent his last day alive wallowing in Crescent City debauchery. Then after a daylong drug binge, he retired to his tour bus (parked in Tipitina's parking lot) The following morning (Oct. 21st. 1995) a sound man boarded the bus to wake Hoon up. Instead he found him dead from a cocaine overdose. An ambulance was called, but he had been dead for several hours. A close friend would later say "He wasn't at wit's end, I know this guy didn't want to die."

The band had spent the last three years trying to distance themselves from "The Bee Girl" and now with Shannon's death, that's all they were remembered for. A single ("Toes Across the Floor") was premiered on MTV, but its reception was so tepid that it was quickly pulled from rotation. Shannon Hoon's death didn't result in tributes and accolades from the rock community. Even in death, he  had little value as a long term commodity. Blind Melon made a halfhearted effort to continue and then disbanded. 

 "Live fast die hard and leave an unwashed, bloated corpse that stinks like shit"

Those that live in gloom are doomed, but nobody deserves to die alone. If I've learned anything from this ongoing series of the trials and tribulations of dead rock stars,  it's that they all had one thing in common: they died alone.  There was however, one  notable exception, GG Allin. Many have called him "the most spectacular degenerate in rock & roll history." which would be a fair and accurate assessment.

Throughout his musical career Allin had promised to commit suicide onstage. Whether one believes that  he actually carried out this threat or not,  depends on how you choose to define  "onstage." GG Allin considered the entire world his stage.  His last live performance  was at a punk venue in Manhattan (The Gas Station) When the show  was interrupted by a power outage, Allin simply continued out into the neighborhood streets.

A bloodthirsty crowd trailed along, goading him on like some blood soaked ECW wrestler. Allin's final sojourn started out with him naked and smeared with his own feces. After roaming the streets for several hours, the  mob arrived at an apartment (where a wild party was raging)  Allin had somehow donned a pair of crusty shorts. (rather than his customary stage apparel, a piss stained jock strap)

At the Manhattan apartment, Allin consumed massive amounts of drugs and alcohol. GG eventually found himself sitting on a living room couch, where much to the amusement of party goers, he ingested  large amounts of heroin.  It didn't take long for Allin to slip into an unconscious state. Several of his fans stopped and snapped pictures of him, not realizing that he was already near death.

The next morning, his motionless body (still sitting upright) finally caught the attention of someone sober enough to distinguish between the living and dead.  GG Allin exited this world in the middle of a party crowd, but he might as well have been on the moon."I've hit the bottom of the glass, there's just one way to go, the world I've chosen for my own is one you'll never know, when I die, when I die, down to Hell is my final destination"

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Sleaze Rock

Sleaze Rock, is a new feature at Dirt City Chronicles. It's inspired by  former Albuquerque resident Mike Judge, and his cartoon characters, Beevis & Butthead who always took great pleasure in skewering music videos of dubious quality. While I like to think that I have a discerning ear for good music, I'm also a big fan of bad music. The worse, the better and there's no shortage of horrendously  ill advised music videos on You Tube

This sleaze rock special is the vomit inducing ditty "Capricorn Girl" from Electric Black Horse. Hijinks and shenanigans ensue as these guys give the middle finger to good taste and the general public.  That lead singer is not fooling anyone, he's not a stud, he's a chipmunk. Top YouTube comment:  " i know these guys well, the things they do behind closed doors are sick i tell ya, sick" fullertonslim

This sleaze rock special comes to us from South Africa's Juggernaught. No goat is safe when these shirtless madmen are about.  At the end they unearth their forgotten past, (back when) they were a synthpop band doing cover versions of Ministry's "With Sympathy" Top YouTube comment: "I didn't realize that the word "beard" could be used to describe a sound" pyrewulf

This sleaze rock special: The White Trash Cowboys present their self titled opus du pew (from the same guys that brought you "Hey Numbnuts") Giving white trash a bad name and proud of it. This is what happens when the family tree doesn't branch. Top YouTube comment:  "these guys and texas hippie coalition should do a show where the bar burns down."  chokeonit

This sleaze rock special is a duet from bi-polar afflicted Emilie Autumn and limp dick depression sufferer Spreng of ASP,  who poses the question ''willst du mich leiden sehen?'' or ''do you want to see me suffer?" .... and after this you will, in the worse way!  Top YouTube comment: "Uneducated indoctrinated weak-minded wretches. If you weren't so disgusting i would feel sorry for your brains"  jbac13

Van Life: Fast Heart Mart

It's been some convoluted times for me, but I'm still out there playing and singing.

Fast Heart Mart (Martin Stamper) eminent sidewalk musician, who formerly made his residence in Albuquerque, but now belongs to the world, checks in with some interesting videos. Martin has been living in San Diego since December (can't say I blame him.)

Here's Martin performing "Depression Proof" from the inside his trusty van, followed by a tour of his iconic home on wheels.  For those of you out there who don't know about Fast Heart Mart, there's a nifty introductory video Martin shot at Joshua Tree.

And last but not least, there's Fast Heart Mart performing at Moldspores, during his stopover in Albuquerque. As I watch this, I'm reminded.... there's a whole bunch of "blues men" out there, devotees of RL Burnside and Junior Kimbrough. They travel around Texas and the South, playing what is becoming known as "deep blues."

These musicians fancy themselves as reincarnated versions of Robert Johnson, and some may well be. But, what bothers me is that they jet off to Australia or Europe and travel from town to town in big gas guzzling V-8 motored pick-up trucks. That's not the stuff that true troubadours are made of, Robert Johnson walked to most places he played at.

I'm not saying they should hoof it. Convert a van and travel the country, hit the small burgs, meet the common folk. Fast Heart Mart is the link between, the America of Woody Guthrie (it's the centennial year of his birth) and the America of today. You can show your appreciation by tossing a few dollars into the suitcase, the next time you see him.

Saturday, March 3, 2012