Friday, July 29, 2011

RRR Record Store Record

RRR - Record Store Record.
RRR - RSR. LP + Tote Bag

I once had that Ron Lessard in my back bedroom you know.  It’s true. About seven years ago Steve Underwood needed somewhere for one of his star performers to kip during a UK tour and I was the chosen one. Ron had played Manchester under his Emil Beaulieau guise and had shown us that noise needn’t be someone leaning over a table full of gadgets trying to deafen everybody. Ron kipped in the back bedroom where I now type this. Before hitting the hay we spun some records and the day after, along with the Durgmeister, we killed some time before the Leeds show by watching an old Jacques Tati film.

What I liked about Ron was his boundless enthusiasm for all things noise related [except noise records at one in the morning after a hard day on the road that is] he showed me an Emil Beaulieau release in which the label responsible had made the covers from the cut centers of old vinyl records, ‘why didn’t I think of it before’ he said slapping his forehead. In the short space of time I was in his company he seemed to be forever on the look out for new ideas for his RRRecords label.

I’m not alone in having serious respect for Ron and his label. He’s single handedly released some of the most seriously outlandish and some would say insane, noise related releases ever; the 500 artist locked groove LP, the 1000 track locked groove LP, the Pure CD series, the state by American state series of box sets that kicked off with the 10LP California job, the Recycled cassette series, the hand made sleeves and inserts all of it released without much in the way of fanfare but all of it received with that knowing feeling that the Ronfather has done it for the noise cause once more.

Perhaps the Record Store Record may be seen as his most outlandish release yet. Not because of the bag that comes with it or the deluxe gatefold sleeve with inserts but because the Record Store Record is actually a record with only the sound of record shops on it. Lesser labels might have issued this on CD or cassette but then that would have lessened its effect. It had to be vinyl of course. This record then is, in essence, a portable record shop. If you’ve never been in a record shop, and I bet there’s plenty of people out there in far flung places who haven’t, then this is your chance to experience them in the comfort of your own home.

It will come as no surprise to those who’ve had the chance to visit some of the shops involved here that people do what people do in record shops; they talk shop, they talk shite, they answer the phone, they joke, order pizza, wrap packages, they even play records. Some try to make noises out of stretched Sellotape but if you hear as much of stretched Sellotape as I do then you’l know that this can become irritating very, very quickly. This is pure audio verite for those who’ve never shopped at five of the best record shops that cater to the noise record buying public. The shops involved were Second Layer in London, Hospital Productions in New York, Weirdo Records in Cambridge USA, Sarvilevyt in Lahti, Finland and of course Ron’s own shop in Lowell. You kind of get the idea without playing the damned thing of course which is all part of the beauty and the madness of it.

Its this over the top absurdity that makes this such a stand out release. Tote bag in RRR camo colours, deluxe sleeves .. no expense spared on something that for the most part will be played just the once and in some instances not at all. I can see people buying this just for the bag. Ron is also so unassuming as to put the photos of his RRR shop on the insert and in true ‘lets totally confuse em’ RRR fashion puts the photo of Second Layer on the cover, a shop that still carries the signage of its previous owner Sound 323.


Saturday, July 16, 2011

The New Blockaders - First Live Performance

The New Blockaders - First Live Performance
Hypnagogia CD. GIA06.
300 Copies.

First Live Performance was given the vinyl treatment by Vinyl On Demand a few years back and as with pretty much everything else with TNB’s name on it disappeared in an instant. I’ve just been looking at my own copy. I gently eased it from its bubble wrapped chrysalis and stroked its textured sleeve, my spine going all tingly and the hairs on the back of my neck stiffening. TNB have that effect on some people.

First Live Performance was June the 8th 1983 remember. A time when punk had stubbed out its last meaningful fag and Trevor Horn jacked in singing with Yes to form ZTT. Its worth bearing this in mind whilst listening back to these two eighteen minute tracks.

As ever its the sheer ferocity of the delivery that knocks you sideways. The junk noise chaos that emerges from your speakers is a staccato one, each painful spike in volume coming at you like heavyweight jabs whilst that undercurrent of discomforting shuffle and scrape forces you to rethink during its course. How did they do that? Why does it still sound so fresh and vital? This is head clearing junk noise and electronic squealing par excellence that even after all these years never fails to fill you with astonishment and admiration.

The sound quality and production on these two 18 minute outings far surpasses the live material that turned up on disc 4 of Gesamtnichtwerk it is also a far more forceful outing than Live at Hinoumea and Live at Anti-Fest.

Much has been written and said about TNB’s early work, some of it even by me, the only thing left to be said is this; if you don’t have these two live events, in whatever format you choose, you aren’t just missing a few pieces of the jigsaw you might as well not have it. Essential in every way.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Godspunk Volume 10

Godspunk Volume Ten.
Pumf CD. Pumf 686.

Its not often that I find myself writing about celebrities but after what happened last week I find myself in the curious position of emulating the work of a tabloid journalist. Let me say from the outset that I have no interest in celebrities and their comings and goings and who shagged who and which footballer’s spent this on that and which MP’s been caught with his trousers down, I really couldn’t care less about any of it, but there we were on the last night of our holiday on Paxos sat at the table of an al fresco restaurant, the Ionian sea lapping the harbor wall,  me swirling the last of my wine and puffing on a post prandial gasper, when I heard American voices.

But first some information; We rented a villa in Loggos. Loggos is a small port on the tiny island of Paxos which is just off the island of Corfu in Greece. Paxos has the benefit of having its own built in lower order filters. First you have to get to Paxos by hydrofoil or ferry, then onward by car or bus or foot, the roads are tiny, steep and winding, the harbor is shallow and unsuitable for larger boats. There are no big screen sports bars, no all night nightclubs, two for one drinks offers, gangs of drunks in states of disarray chucking each other in the sea at four in the morning. In other words its very quiet and thats why we like it.

So there we are at around 10pm on Thursday evening at the back of a slowly emptying restaurant and these Americans come in. There’s three blokes who all look like they know which end of a surfboard is which and a blonde with big tits in what Mrs Fisher likes to call a ‘fairy dress’ - meaning all bits of tassels with lacing up the back - and after a small kerfuffle in which they moved from the harbor side of the restaurant they came and sat at the next table to us. The blonde was sat in profile about six feet away and I was damned if I didn’t know who she was. The waitress emerged and became excited, then she disappeared again only to re-emerge within seconds with her daughter by her side to ask the blonde if she could have her autograph. I sat swirling my wine and thought, well she must be someone famous and put the old grey matter to task. Mrs Fisher burbled in one ear about next years trip and alternative destinations whilst ‘awesomes’ and ‘dudes’ in west coast accents appeared in the other. And then a lightbulb came on and it struck me. I was sat but six feet away from Pamela Anderson.

My first instinct was to keep this information from Mrs Fisher. Mrs Fisher was sat with a view of nothing but the back of her head and has terrible eyesight to boot, even with her glasses on. I reasoned that if I did tell her she would blurt out an inappropriate ‘WHO?’ in a voice loud enough to turn the heads of diners across the bay. My next thought was that I had my camera in my bag and that a photo of me and Pamela would not only make the blokes at work incredibly jealous [most of the blokes at work are of the kind who think that anything with blonde hair and big tits is proof of Gods existence] but that I would have something to email and a memento of the evening. And then the cogs went round once more. I became involved in my own reasoning batting ideas hither and thither and whilst Mrs Fisher bandied about ideas about next years return trip I thought my thoughts. At heart I couldn’t care less about celebrities and film stars but here I was sat six feet away from one of the most famous blondes of recent years. This would probably be the only opportunity in my entire life to get photographed with a famous blonde with big tits but still I dallied and thought on. Then I thought, why bother them? I wouldn’t like to be harassed during my meal. But then maybe she likes the recognition? Maybe she wallows in the adulation of the hoi poloi and has no qualms about strangers putting their arms round her for nothing more harmless than a split second snapped photo. But then what if she hates being photographed in such a way? Especially by English tourists with half a litre of white wine in them stinking of fags and Trumpers cologne. And on it went.
In the end I decided it was in the best interest of everyone to leave them be. Even if she was the kind of person that feted public affection I wasn’t going to pester her only to find out when it was too late that one of the surf dudes was really an employed body guard who has a black belt in everything and takes exception to Miss Anderson’s evening meals being interrupted. It could have all got very embarrassing. They ate their food, drank their beers and then they left and while they walked away all I could think to myself was ‘you used to suck on Tommy Lee’s todger’. Because I knew more about her than she knew about me. I had anonymity on my side and Pamela had none [a Google search for Pam returns 53 million returns] and ultimately I respected her privacy and even felt a little sad for her. She cant go anywhere without being recognised and I can go where the hell I want. Even now as I write about this I find myself feeling slightly uncomfortable in a sleazy journalist kind of way. After they’d left I told Mrs Fisher who’d been sat at the next table and she squinted at the couple now locked arm in romantic arm walking slowly back to their digs along the harbor road. ‘Fucking slapper’ she said folding her napkin ‘are we off or what?’

All this apropos of nothing. I’ve been listening to the new Godspunk comp as I typed those words and I get the same kind of feeling as when I’ve reviewed the previous nine - lots of throw-away guff and the odd diamond.
UNIT with their godawful xylophone agit punk bore me to tears now. I wish they’d go away. Even Howl In The Typewriter's form seems to have dipped - no ballsy pop anthems of silliness, just silliness. There are highlights amongst the 26 tracks, thirteen bands and 80 minutes but you’ve got to dig to find them. Foxhole UK with their guitar and drum raw punkyness lifted my spirits as did the fact that someone left UNIT to go on their own and dish up the best track of the lot - The Red Guards offer the comp what seems to be a straight lift of a Chinese approved pop tribute to Mao Tse-Tung. A bizarre thing in its own right and as anyone who has had to endure Chinese pop music will confirm, its forced enthusiasm and straight forward delivery is both irritating and catchy at the same time.

After that ... not much really and I did listen to it all including the hidden track at the end. Honest.

Hello Pam, where ever you are.