Friday, February 26, 2010

Go!

Although we in the Bay Area are quite lucky when it comes to our weather, that isn’t to say that we haven’t been without our cold and dreary days in the past couple of months. But spring will be upon us in a few weeks, which brings nicer weather, housecleaning, and strawberries. It also brings horrendous allergies into my life, but that’s a different story. The point being is that we need an upbeat soundtrack to welcome us into the springtime and prepare for what will hopefully be an awesome summer. Spring is a time for action, and Fu Manchu’s getting some with their 1997 album The Action is Go.

Fu Manchu originated in the mid ‘80s as a Black Flag-influenced hardcore band called Virulence. They released an album on Alchemy that I’ll post sometime unless one of my friends’ blogs beats me to it. I like to think that the reason they changed their name to Fu Manchu is because the members of Virulence realized that intoxicated fans might have a hard time pronouncing their name. Of course, Virulence also sounds like the name of that suburban garage metal band from down the street that sucks, so there’s another good reason. Anyway, Fu Manchu released a so-so seven-inch on Slap a Ham and eventually weaned themselves off the whole hardcore thing for the most part.

Like many bands influenced by the mighty Flag, Fu Manchu explored ‘70s stoner rock and liked the results. But unlike the stoner/doom bands that gain more recognition amongst people I know, Fu Manchu doesn’t evoke images of drug-assisted suicide. Instead, I think of sunny days, smoking weed, and hot girls. A much more upbeat approach to these tunes that I personally find preferable to the doom and gloom. Plus, this album opens with a song called “Evil Eye” and closes with an SSD cover that makes complete sense. As far as I’m concerned, there’s nothing to dislike here. You might not agree, but you probably listen to fashionably-depressed music to fit in anyway.

Fuck that noise. This post implores you to get out of the house and get some fresh air. Enjoy the upcoming sunny days. Eat some succulent strawberries and get to know somebody special, if you know what I mean. The Action is Go!


Friday, February 19, 2010

Brooklyn

Brooklyn was a project with members of the Beastie Boys, Bad Brains and Murphy’s Law that didn’t last very long. But a demo was recorded in 1987, and here it is. The good news is that Beastie Boys fans might get a kick out of one of the songs being re-used for “Pass the Mic” when they released Check Your Head five years later. The bad news is that this demo is one cringe-worthy moment after another. Despite the lineup, don’t expect a hardcore punk band. Remember that the Beastie Boys had long ceased to be a punk band by this point. The Bad Brains had also recently released I Against I, which punks often scornfully called “I Against Hardcore.” Some punk influence comes through at times, but Brooklyn was definitely going in an “alt-rock” direction that would turn off anybody looking for high-fives and stagedives. If you’re not irritated enough by Adam “MCA” Yauch’s vocals to turn this off, then see if you can make it far enough to hear Brooklyn break out the acoustic guitars and attempt a love song.

The best part about the whole thing is that they apparently spent $20,000—MCA’s Licensed to Ill tour money—to record this demo. But then the Beastie Boys got into legal battles with Def Jam and no labels were interested in pursuing things further with Brooklyn anyway. Whether or not that’s a shame is entirely up to you. Can you pass the endurance test? Find out by clicking the link below.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Pay to Blog!

I don’t think this record needs any introduction. Now, there are some in the world that claim that the Out of Vogue seven-inch by Middle Class deserves recognition as the first American hardcore record. Like someone reviewing American Hardcore for Hit List magazine once said, ignore them. Despite being released in 1978, it should be noted that Out of Vogue had little to no effect on anything. Meanwhile, the Bad Brains damn near started a revolution when they dropped a bomb called the “Pay to Cum” b/w “Stay Close to Me” single two years later. They inspired audiences wherever they went, and also hung out with and taught young kids in burgeoning hardcore bands to play better (i.e. faster and harder). Can anybody say the same thing about Middle Class? Probably not, so give this record a listen and get over the Californian’s arrogant propensity for claiming to have been there first in everything.



Friday, February 5, 2010

You Want the Personal Touch?

Sid Vicious died 31 years ago this week, so we’re gonna look at his lone solo album through The Evil Eye this week. The Sex Pistols were the first punk band I heard nearly twenty years ago, and I made it a point to absorb as much information as I could about them and this whole punk thing I was getting into. Eventually, this led me to Sid Sings, released posthumously in 1979. I was about fourteen years old when I got this album, and I’ll admit that I listened to this as much as any other punk band I was into at the time. The padlock and chain were around my neck and I had not one, but two Sid Vicious T-shirts that I wore regularly. I actually still have the one with the “SID VICIOUS DEAD” headline on the front page of the Sun, but it’s far too small to wear at this stage in the game. My sister even named one of her cats Sid because of that shirt. I think she thought it was funny that her little brother was trying to be some fuckin’ punker kid like she might have thought about at that age.

Malcolm McLaren was once quoted as saying that if Johnny Rotten was the voice of punk rock, then Sid was the attitude. Well, right before they go into “My Way,” you distinctly hear a woman yelling, “you’re a poser!” in the background. She might have a point there. Despite forming a potentially great band with New York Dolls Killer Kane and Jerry Nolan, Sid’s oh-so punk attitude apparently didn’t have any room for writing new songs like Johnny was for Public Image Limited. Not only do you get lo-fi versions of “My Way” and Eddie Cochran’s “Something Else” from The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle, you also get a Vicious rendition of the Pistols’ “Belsen was a Gas.” The rest of the album consists of familiar favorites from Iggy, the Dolls, and the Heartbreakers. And there you have it: Reduced to a mere cover band. Mimicking the voice of punk more often than not. The punk attitude had nothing original to offer after all.

I still have this album, and it’s safe to say that it’s not going anywhere. As much as I can’t stand it now, there’s no way I can get rid of it. Not because of sentimental value, but because it’s pointless to sell it back to the record store. I’d get next to nothing for it. Give it away? Like anyone wants it. I suppose I could just throw it away or leave it out on the sidewalk like the turd that it is, but that would mean I couldn’t pull it out of the punk rock toilet and share it with you today. And wouldn’t that be a shame?

Make sure you wear gloves when you pull out this turd here.