R.I.P. Mark E. Smith, 1957-2018
"New Facts Emerge" came out in late July last year; the singles box (Seven discs! Eight hours!) came out four months later; they're my Christmas present from me to me.
"New Facts Emerge" - it merits seven bottles, if not eight. Bludgeoning, bruising, then it takes you on a short cruise: bloody hell this is good. It also grows on you with repeat listenings. However - and this is critical - while many long-term Fall fans seem contemptuous of the band's turn to powerful cranking rock, most Fall fans would find it difficult to come up with a Top 10 of the band's best 10 songs - you won't have that problem much with Judas Priest, or Alice Cooper, will you?
Flash House are from London and play thrashy but articulate gutter punk. The Scandis and various bands from Australia and the American Midwest perfected this style in the early ’90s. They just weren’t as hirsute.
Sometimes you wonder why the English didn’t achieve more prominence in the trash-punk field while grunge was cutting a swathe, but they were buried under all that Britpop nonsense. Fuck me, I mean, Oasis were less a band than a series of Beatles songs masquerading as headlines. Flash House and their ilk are making up for lost time.
In these times of limited attention spans and information overload, every band needs a tagline. A way to be noticed. Flash House’s is: “Rock ’n’ roll dystopia. Fast songs played by slow minds”. It fits like a thumb in your bum.
This one's an undiluted broadcast of a red-hot show by the Coop and the boys at the Mar Y Sol Pop Festival in Puerto Rico in 1972. That's to say, the original Alice Cooper Band, and not the crack session players and paid employees who followed.
Crank it. What you're hearing is the Alice Cooper Band at the peak of their powers. They're band in all senses of the word and a gnat's dick away from world domination with the release of their "School's Out" album.
The back story is the band was on a festival bill in Puerto Rico with the likes of Al Kooper, the Allman Bros, Emerson. Lake and Palmer, the Faces and David Peel and went on at 5am. You can't tell from the energy levels. A review at the time describes a festival beset by chaos, numbing humidity and massive financial losses. They would say that, wouldn't they. Let's hope the bands got paid.
Lou’s semi-lost period of the mid-‘70s - post-“Coney Island Baby” and before “Street Hassle” - gets a lot of bad wraps. Not without reason. A big part of why is “Rock and Roll Heart”, an album in the Reed canon that receives little love.
Why? Maybe it wasn’t seamy enough, maybe the production was so-so. The songs seemed weak. Lyrically, it was wishy-washy. The list could go on. Maybe Lou talked everybody out of listening to it when he thoroughly dissed “Coney Island Baby” for being commercially successful. My own take is a little of all of the above. Second-guessing Lou is pointless - and not just because he’s dead.
So you might approach this double CD live release from the esteemed UK label Easy Action with a degree of trepidation. Rest easy. It’s not the born-in-Detroit, Wagner and Hunter-fuelled thunder-and-lightning of “Rock ’n’ Roll Animal”, or the boozy, coked diatribe fest of “Take No Prisoners”, but it’s not without its own considerable merits.
What do you get when you mix two veterans of the SoCal punk rawk scene with a couple of its UK equivalent’s most storied names? This here disc, guv’nor, and a fine slice of rockin’ psych-tinged pop it is.
Sometimes worlds collide in the best way possible and here’s a prime I’ll-have-one-thin-and-crispy-with-the-lot-and-don’t-forget-the-anchovies example. Genres are less a restrictive tag than a challenge for these guys.
Alfie Agnew (a real-life maths professor) and Sean Elliott (he’d be the madman) are the US-based principals in Professor and The Madman. The pair played together in D.I., a long-running off-shoot of the Adolescents and Social Distortion, the former being from where Agnew came.
Rat Scabies, of the (stillborn but legendary) London SS, The Mutants and of course The Damned, was co-opted as a recording member after guest-playing “Smash It Up” with Agnew and Elliott at a US show. The hook-up with Paul Gray - surely the best bassist The Damned ever had (and he’s back with them now), whose prior form includes Eddie & The Hotrods and UFO - came via Facebook.
Lovely LP. Ugly, too.
The Tall Grass is Jamie Hutchings (Bluebottle Kiss) and Peter Fenton (Crow). Never heard those two bands, but I gather "Down the Unmarked Road" is a notable departure for both of them. Like Rheyce O'Neill's "Ubermensch Blues", they've focused on the meaning of the songs to create a bittersweet landscape rich in Australiana.