by John Paul McBain
Where are all of the good bands hiding? How come I can’t find anything worthwhile? What happened to songwriting and originality? Why isn’t Grand Funk Railroad more popular? Why don’t guitars sound like guitars nowadays? How come Shel Talmy doesn’t get as much work as he should? I’m just full of questions lately. But anyway….. I came across vital information on some intriguing records that I simply must have. Have you heard them? Have you seen them? Can you help? Do they even exist?
All information courtesy of Spartacus Record Guide, 2001 edition.
Five piece outfit out of Norway. Led by frontman, Jan Daak and guitarist Oskar Fleevhoven, Golem first set the Norse scene alight with their 1971 debut, “Atomic Treehouse”, a potent mixture of late era British Freakbeat and primitive synthesizer experimentation and tape manipulation ala avante garde icon, Karl Stockhausen. Includes the anti-hit “The Sun Is Melting”, a thirteen minute assault on the pop senses in which Golem throw song structure out the window and create a baroque mini masterpiece around walls of deliberately out of tune 12 string guitars, sub harmonic synth tones and Jan Daak’s incessant chorus which translates as “Tarpits, tarpits, mustard gas, kill”. This is followed by a nine minute drum solo and a coda which consists of Fleevhoven re-stringing his guitar over tape recordings of Gamelan monkey chants and radio static.
Golem went on to release 5 other LPs, including the 4 record boxset, “The Lies Of The Mandrill: Vol. One”. Disbanded in 1975 after Fleevhoven was arrested on weapons and treason charges. Jan Daak passed away in March of 1982 after a long and painful battle with adult Chicken Pox. Their catalogue is currently out of print.
Golem 45s – $200-350 VG to Mint
Golem LPs – All single LPs: $100-170 VG to Mint
The Lies Of The Mandrill: Vol. One – $950-1200 VG to Mint
2. The Death Warmed Overs
Released one self produced 45 in 1979 on their own “Decapitation Records”. The A side, “I Want To Skin My Family” is a brilliant twist on teen angst that weds the melody of The Tonight Show with primitive drumming and incoherent vocal outbursts that resemble nothing less than a rage filled recitation of a William Blake poem. The B side, an instrumental entitled “Karen Ann Quinlan Is A Faker” spotlights guitarist Scott Twayfield’s complete lack of finger skills and melody. Tempos speed up throughout, solos are attempted and quickly crumble. A complete disaster. Towards the end you can actually hear the bass player throw his instrument down and walk out of the room in disgust. Punk rock perfection.
Originals are hard to find and quite expensive. Expect to pay upwards of $250 for a clean copy. Only 20 copies pressed.
3. Atlantis Pompeii – My Kingdom For A Spaceship (Flavius IV, 1977)
Late seventies Italian Prog Rock. Released one album on the Flavius IV label. The brainchild of Ernesto Pregolini, a one time member of the mid sixties orchestral pop band, “Raphael”, Atlantis Pompeii only had one song to their credit, the album length cut, “I Lap From The Molten Core” a Can inspired 42 minute opus that deals with mans inhumanity to man AND human/alien cross pollination. Pregolini reportedly took over three years and half a million dollars to complete this LP, a unlikely mix of Hammond organ, theremin, wah wah and orchestra. First editions included Pregolini’s 950 page self help guide, “My Triumph Over God and The Andromeda Menace” a muddled tome of Old Testament misquotes, theories on possible pre-history alien visitation and personal grooming tips for the new millennium. Original copies in VG to Mint…$175-215. Add additional $100 for self help guide. Reissued in mid eighties with bonus tracks and live cuts. Currently out of print.
4. Thomas Aquinas, Jr. – Bohemian Nazi (FVK Records, 1966)
Late entry into the 1960s New York Folk movement. Aquinas, Jr., real name Barry Washburn, caused quite a stir on the coffee house scene with his first single, “The Death of Everything You Hold Near and Dear”, a savage attack on Modernism that builds to a climax in which Aquinas Jr. utters the classic line, “March poets and puppies to the river and drown them, hit them with shovels and bloody them, it’s time for Dylan and Lassie to die.” Banned from the East coast club circuit for repeated drunken assaults on the audience, Aquinas, Jr. retired from the music business in 1968 and is currently planning a comeback.
5. Great Salt Lake – Visions Of Drug Faeries (Deram Records, 1968)
Over the top fuzz driven raga pop from this mysterious four piece out of Brixton. Opening cut, “Epileptic Dandelion Nectar”, launches the listener into the stratosphere with a dizzying wash of echoed wah wah and distorted drums and bass while the singer, Kenneth St. James, sings of “…butterfly jelly and mushroom coated eyes..”. While some may see fit to point out that the songs central riff is a thinly veiled rip off of “Don’t Sleep In The Subway” one cannot dispute the power and energy exhibited by this fearsome foursome. The rest of the album is in a similar vein with side two’s closer, “I Can Smell The Seasons Change” a highlight. UK psych at its finest.
Original copies are scarce. Recently sold on EBay for $2000.