An Addiction to Origins
“Record collecting is an infinite journey backwards”
Many have tried to compose a complete history of Albuquerque's music scene and many have failed. The downfall of most music scribes attempting this is that they fail to grasp the complex nature and immense depth and variety within the Duke City's local music scene. A little over a year ago I took on this challenge and set out to write as complete a history of 'Burque's garage / punk / soul beat scene in the 1960s as has ever been written.... I'm leaving it up to you to determine whether I failed or not. While not on the scale of Doctor Zhivago, it is of epic proportions. The size of which led my older sister (a retired librarian and school marm) to say that there were too many words. Well, powder my fuse. Imagine that, a librarian complaining about too many written words.
When writing pertains to historical facts, leaving something out for the sake of brevity is akin to writing a history of the Civil War and ignoring The battle of Gettysburg. If there's anything that I've learned from years of reading Rolling Stone, Creem, Goldmine, Bomp and Trouser Press, it's that pertinent facts such as recording labels, session players, release dates etc. are the holy grail for a music completist. Leave them out at the risk of killing your music nerd street cred. I blame Twitter for this aversion to reading. That social networking service favored by none other than Donald Trump has conditioned users to peruse snippets of text enhanced with emojis. Anything longer than a single line of text is too fucking long. Shortened attention spans, the bane of writers. Fuck Twitter.
Compleat: (the archaic spelling of complete preferred by persons who obsessively pursue a philosophy which includes the completeness of something) In this case, something being every recording ever made by which ever artist your mind is tangled around at the time. In the mid-1970s, I was lucky enough to be stationed just outside the Bay Area (Travis AFB) which gave me access to two of the greatest record stores ever conceived. Aquarius Records at its original store in the Castro District and Recycled Records in San Francisco's North Beach ("I'll buy anything." owner Bruce Lyall once declared, in jest) Both shops survived well into the next century. Aquarius finally gave up the ghost earlier this year, while Recycled Records having diversified, transitioned to online sales.
I started out in the mid 1970s, a crate digger obsessively seeking out every record put out by The Flaming Groovies. To this end I navigated San Francisco's bus routes, all but invisible to the Castro clones congregating along Clone Canyon. Aquarius Records was an isle of normality in an ocean of strange. Known for its commitment to unique and rare releases, Aquarius originally opened in 1970 and had two storefronts on Castro Street. The shop moved to Noe Valley in 1983, before settling at its final location in the Mission District. My biggest scores at Aquarius? “Sneakers” an ultra rare Flaming Groovies ep from 1968. I also scored a copy of “Spunk” the Sex Pistols' de facto alternative debut album, released prior to “Never Mind the Bollocks” both for the ghastly sum of $19.99 each.
Truth be told, collecting is not really about music. Collecting is about collecting. The principle of delight, the quest for a positive emotional reaction upon discovering something unexpected. Here's the kicker, having carefully curated everything I could find, I wound up selling or giving it all away. I know, I know..... a real collector does not sell. I might be a collector, but I ain't no fucking pack rat. Having ditched vinyl in the early 1980s, my collection was top heavy with cassettes, a format that was rapidly in decline. I welcomed the advent of compact discs with open arms. The first compact disc I ever bought?.... “Flyin' the Flannel” fIREHOSE's first album after signing with Columbia Records. Described by Greg Prato at AllMusic as “one of the great lost rock gems of the '90s.”
"Gunter Glieben Glauten Globen" Gather 'round, I got something to say. A quick rundown on Dirt City Chronicles podcast episode #48..... beginning with another dose of stoner doom from ABQ expats, Boar Worship. Just can't get enough of this band's enrobing wall of sludge. Sun Dog's “Share Your Love” flows with a majestic cock-of-the-walk swagger not heard since Robert Plant's Led Zep heyday. It's refreshing to hear a local band draw on such classic influences. Colin Roxford's vocals have got me all teary eyed and shit.... I just may go out on a limb and declare Sun Dog the best band currently active on the local scene. Nod your head up and down if you agree. Sun Dog is Colin Roxford, John Deyhle, Maxwell Graves & Luz Allison. They work with Will Byrne at Juniper Lab Studios in Sandia Park.
Naturally my opinion is pliable and liable to change at any given moment. These are the salad days for Albuquerque's legion of metal/grind/crust/noise fans. No shortage of talented local bands to be sure. Hanta (named after the virus) describe themselves as “4 boys making loud fun” I'll be blunt, there's nothing truly distinctive about their relentless grind. It's a bit derivative though not without some redeeming qualities. Gnosis is far more experimental. “Simulacra” their 2015 album is a disjointed journey into sound. The basic tropes: a heady mix of shape shifting experimental noise augmented by rock and jazz instrumentation, coupled with cryptic lyrics delivered with the effect of someone whispering into your ear. It's a bit jarring at first, but it grows on you like mold.
It's damn near Christmas and in all likelihood this will probably be my last podcast episode for 2016, a year derided by most as the worst year ever. I beg to differ, I've been around long enough to have seen worse, 1968 for instance. MLK and RFK were assassinated and Richard Nixon was elected. That was a bad year. Some advice on how to survive the Trump years.... when life throws you curve balls, you bear down and learn how to hit a fucking curve ball. In case you missed them the first time around, I present for your reading and listening pleasure: 'Burque Garage: Original Artyfacts from Albuquerque's First Rock Era 1964-69 (in two parts) and From 'Burque to Blackpool, The Classic Era of Duke City Soul. Keep those cards and letters coming in. Feliz Navidad y próspero Año Nuevo. Boy Howdy!
Black Wizard ~ Boar Worship
Share Your Love ~ Sun Dog
Contact High ~ Weird A
Corn Dogs to Carbon ~ Hanta
Daedalus in Velvets ~ Gnosis
Eat the Rich ~ Constant Harmony
Bad Vibrations ~ The Flossies
Riding ~ Litter Brain
Red Riding ~ Big Girls
Zip It ~ Gods Got a Gun
Don't Tell Me ~ Weedrat
10,000 Miles to Graceland ~ Colour Me Once
Shit Down All Throats ~ Boar Worship
Unsanitary Coral Extraction ~ Hanta
Walk My Way ~ Sun Dog
Highway 64 ~ Italian Rats
Apocrypha / Other Planes ~ Gnosis