Wednesday, May 13, 2009

I'm just a singer (in a rock and roll band).

An old grad school friend recently did the 25 Things meme:

ok, 25 random things about me
Sunday, February 1, 2009 at 7:10pm

1. I live for spectator sports.
2. My true calling is to be a singer in a rock-n-roll band. . . .

It's funny but I remember her expressing the same John Lodge fantasy 22 years ago in the back garden at either Rigg's or Lucio's house or most likely in front of the Humanities Center nee English annex out on Campus Drive by Chi Theta Chi. So to aid and abet this project, I of course made a mix.

THE MJC Rawk Experience

Lucille Boggan, "Coffee Grindin' Woman"
The Avengers, "The Amerikan in Me"
The Avengers, "White Nigger"
Penelope Houston, "Bed of Lies"
Barbara Manning, "Every Pretty Girl"
Two Nice Girls, "Spent My Last 10 dollars On Birth Control and Beer"
Bedlam Rovers, "Big Drill"
Bedlam Rovers, "Star of the County Down"
Siouxsie & The Banshees, "Spellbound"
X-Ray Spex, "Oh Bondage Up Yours!"
X-Ray Spex, "Germfree Adolescents"
The Slits. "Typical Girls"
Pylon, "Cool"
Young Marble Giants, Searching For Mr Right
Kate Bush, "Hounds of Love"
Blake Babies, "Rain" (Demo)
L7, "Pretend We're Dead"
Bikini Kill, "White Boy"
Bikini Kill, "This is Not a Test"
Hole, "Rock Star"
Garrison Starr, "Superhero"
Sleater-Kinney, "I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone"
Sleater-Kinney, "Light Rail Coyote"

Lucille Boggan AKA Bessie Jackson—This is one of her more air-friendly offerings as it's merely suggestive rather than crudely explicit. Another song starts "My Nipples are Hard as Diamonds" and goes downhill from there, and you do have to wonder who paid to record that in the 1920s, but she is a Diva.

The Avengers were from SF and fronted by a teen-aged Penelope Houston sporting a blond crew cut she grows up and out and the more zaftig Penelope becomes a neo-folkie star in Germany! And at the Freight & Salvage on the Berkeley/Oakland line.

Barbara Manning another Bay Area fave solo or with her band the SF Seals. Yep, there's a big baseball thing going on here.

Two nice girls is three lesbians from Austin, TX; they also specialize in acoustic mix-ups like "Sweet Jane with Affection" (Lou Reed meet Joan Armatrading) or "I Feel (Like Makin') Love" (Donna Summer this is Bad Company).

Bedlam Rovers yet again criminally overlooked Bay area band, which on one track explores their Celtic roots. I mean c'mon the best band history I could find was in Italian, so now I'm gonna translate it for the poor guy.

X-Ray Spex's Poly Styrene and friends made a day glo punk classic one of the greatest debut albums ever

Ari Up, Palmolive, Viv Albertine, and later Budgie (who also drummed for Siouxie's Banshees) made uncompromising punk rock. They also made a joyously reggae-inflected cover of "I Heard It Through The Grapevine"!

Pylon was the greatest band to come out of Athens, GA and everyone from Michael Stipe to Kate Pierson will tell you so. Alas lead guitarist Randall Bewley died from a heart attack at 53 a few months ago.

Young Marble Giants out of Cardiff-area Wales made 1 2/3 full length records and were always sui generis. Colossal Youth was hands down the best disc of 1983. One of the greatest album covers ever, esp. in the Black & white Division. They're so cool they don't need quotation marks for their song title above.

Couldn't find my 7" copy of Kate Bush's "Wuthering Heights" to burn to MP3, so went with the title track from her best album.

Blake Babies were Julianna Hatfield before she became overexposed. Evan Dando was in this band for about three months and plays bass on this demo; another Beantown-area favorite mid-1980s. The other emergent songwriter was John Strohm, now surely the coolest lawyer working in Birmingham, AL!

[Correction 5/20/2009. Dando played on "Lament" Andy Mayer bass here on this Strohm-penned number from the first demo. My physical copy of Innocence And Experience just returned home complete with useful CD booklet after a long time away. Sorry for the confusion.]

And now for the big RRRRIOTTTTT GRRRRRLLL Conclusion . . .

L7 early radio-friendly version of the movement. "Good" (?) Presbyterian that I am, I'm all for somebody bustin' on Falwell, Reed, and their hypocritical ilk. Neither moral nor in the majority!

Bikini Kill: I know I know this is turning into a Julia Styles mopey, misunderstood–teenpic. Still those early records take few prisoners. Look elsewhere for their ratting out Sonic Youth on "Thurston Hearts a Who."

Hole never really got their due because of Courtney's various antics and the whole tidal onslaught that was associated with Nirvana. This record is bitchy but also a pretty "true" accounting of what was happening at Evergreen State College in Olympia, launching pad of so many riot girl rockers like as with the final band

Garrison Starr signed the biggest individual contract ever by an artist coming out of Mississippi, but Geffen was never able to launch her nationally; she's returned from LA and settled into pop country crossover land near Nashville. I've seen her play venues ranging from a back porch at an impromptu house party to a 10,000 seat outdoor amphitheater. Her best gig ever was opening for Cracker in Starkville at Rick's in 1998. She blew them off the stage; of course, it didn’t hurt that her backing band was essentially Wilco less Jeff Tweedy–through the John Stirratt/Jay Bennett Oxford, MS connection. They did the absolute best version of "The Chain" I've ever heard, including Fleetwood Mac live.

Sleater-Kinney: I could listen to Janet Weiss drum (see also Quasi, Heavens to Betsy, & Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks) or Carrie Brownstein play guitar all day long. A sociolinguist by training, Brownstein's NPR media blog Monitor Mix is worth a looksie.

I avoided more obvious choices like Pat Benatar's "Love is a Battlefield" or Liz Phair's "Supernova" as well as more well-known female artists like Joan Jett, The Go-Gos, The Bangles, and The Pretenders

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