This, That or Other

The Beach Boys Are America’s Greatest Band. Period.
by John Paul McBain

Wouldn’t It Be Nice, Don’t Talk, I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times, Don’t Worry Baby, Surfs Up, Cabinessense, You’re So Good To Me, Let Him Run Wild, In My Room, Sail On Sailor, Every last scrap of Smile, Surfer Girl ( The Hawaii 1967 version ), Carol Kaye’s bass on Sloop John B, The string break on You Still Believe In Me, Smiley Smile ( contrary to popular belief, its a landmark LP ), Please Let Me Wonder, Til I Die, The intro to California Girls, Friends LP, Our Prayer, Do You Like Worms?, Did I mention Good Vibrations? No? Well then….Good Vibrations, the many Heroes and Villians themes, the drums of one Hal Blaine, The silence before the choruses on The Little Girl I Once Knew, Meant For You, Can’t Wait Too Long, AND Dennis Wilson. Dennis never got props for his songwriting, singing and drumming. Check out the “Live 1964” video for proof of his unheralded garage punk skinsmanship.

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Wish List

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.

1. Golem

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.

Off With Their Heads

Bands/Musicians Who Don’t Deserve Cult Status

by John Paul McBain

1. Groundhogs.

Overly wankish. British to a fault. Too much boogie. I hate slide guitar in the “traditional” style.

2. Hawkwind.

Lose the saxophone, Mr. Brock. And could you please write something that’s NOT in E major? At best, considering their vast back catalogue, I might be able to fill one 90 minute cassette with serviceable music. Also very British.

3. Captain Beyond.

First record starts with a promise then lapses into overly-though out math metal. Emphasis on metal. What do fans see in these windbags?

4. Bob Dylan in the 70s, 80s, 90s and Today.

Fell victim to the “now” sound. His seventies and eighties catalog is a litany of hippie ideals, overwrought coffeehouse mumbo jumbo and marshmallow L.A. “mellow mafia” sounds. Hung out with The Grateful Dead (don’t worry they’re comin’) and lost his balls in the process. Turned into a pasty faced golem. Nowadays, resembles Nosferatu.

5. The Grateful Dead.

Dirty Hippies.

6. Gram Parsons.

Average songwriter, average singer (he aint no George Jones), rubbed elbows with the Rolling Stones, was partially responsible for the “No Depression” sissy country craze and died like a deified rock n roll martyr. Well boo hoo hoo cause you still suck. Chump.

7. French Bands.

The French think that they’re better than you. (Didn’t we save their asses in WW II?)

8. The Damned.

The first album is a classic. Then they lost Brian James’ attitude and songwriting. Singer and wacky bassist/guitarist battled for domination. End result was poorly executed punk rock and goth spittle. Singer sported a Bela Lugosi look. Came off like Count Chocula.

9. Tom Waits.

It’s not him. It’s his fans. For that alone I must condemn him.

10. Frank Zappa.

Same reasons as Waits. But that’s just the beginning. Big smarty pants know it all who felt the need to rub our noses in his awesome talent. Made fun of punk rock. When he parodied it on record and on the stage he came across as a frightened little brat. Frightened because he had built a career on soulless guitar wank. He felt threatened All technique, no substance. Reagan Youth had more talent and substance within their first record than Zappa could ever muster even with the aid of his chart reading, “you’re so funny AND smart, Frank!” stable of self-fellating session cats. Always fell back on laughs and fart jokes when he should have been working on a proper bridge. His fans are the worst. It’s like hanging out with Moonies. One guy I knew years ago would not listen to punk rock because “they’re not in tune.” He couldn’t play it either. He even made fun of Greg Ginn!

Best Non-American Guitar Player

My Reasons For Selecting George Harrison As The Best Non American Guitar Player Ever

by John Paul McBain

Eric Clapton. A big pussy. All of his stellar moments (his solo on World of Pain, Blind Faith, I Ain’t Got You…..uh..that about covers it) are nothing more than mistakes. Glitches. Fuck him and his slowhand.

Jimmy Page. Way too British. All that crushed velvet and nose sniffing arrogance. Plus Led Zep were too proficient. Proficiency = nap time. (Wanna hear Page in his prime? Pick up a collection of his mid sixties session work and witness a smarty pants whiz kid who didn’t give a fuck about nothin’. His solo on The Third Gear’s take of “Leave My Kitten Alone” is completely over the top and groovy.) And Pagey picked Robert Plant over Steve Marriot! What a chump.

Jeff Beck. His reputation amongst the fusion crowd soured me on him decades ago. He ruled the earth in the Yardbirds circa 1966 and his solo career started with a promise but that old Brit “I’m above all of this rock ‘n’ roll nonsense” attitude crept in and because of that (and losers like Jan Hammer) we were left to convince ourselves that “Wired” was a truly monumental album. It’s not.

Richie Blackmore. Did some mindbending work with Screaming Lord Sutch, made a Stratocaster sound listenable, was responsible for the best non-American seventies hard rock record, “In Rock”, then took himself (and his wizards hat) too seriously and dropped the ball. Has he died yet?

The Rest Of Em’. Peter Green. Yawn. Keith Richards. Wanker. Brian Jones. One of the best. Dead as a doornail. Eddie Phillips of The Creation. Up there on my all time list. The guy from The Who. Good from 1965 to 1970. Then bloody awful. Who else is left. Ah screw it.

That leaves George Harrison. Granted, he twanged inept on those early Beatles discs and even worse on the outtakes, at times sounding like he couldn’t even spell “guitar”, but boy oh boy did he improve fast. One would assume that as The Beatles songwriting kicked up a notch he felt the pressure to step out of his Carl Perkins worship phase and find his own thang but I still can’t figure out what the catalyst was. What was he thinking when he did the solo on “HeyBulldog”? His contribution to that track is instantly “musical” and druggy at the same time. First solo I ever learned note for note. Maybe it was all of that Eastern/sitar mumbo jumbo that sent him into space. Or good old THC. None of this matters cause when The Beatles called it a day he played his trump card with “All Things Must Pass”, by a country mile the best post-Fab record of them all. And the only good one for that matter. His songwriting, dynamics and slide solo on “Wah Wah” are the foundation on which his greatness rests. A standing in music history that even the Traveling Willburys can’t undo. Meanwhile, Paul smoked a lot of pot and remained loyal to his hairy hippie wife. These factors, and the love of his own voice, killed his career. Ringo. Ever succinct and steady on the skins. Completely devoid of talent as a solo artist. John. His groundbreaking 1st solo LP and then nothing for the next decade or so. Gave up greatness for an artsy fartsy loudmouth wife.

So in the end George is the last man standing. He’s the coolest Beatle and the best British export since…….hmmm…ah forget it.

What’s With All Of This Jeff Buckley Nonsense?

Frankly I don’t get it. All of that self loathing and choir boy innocence crap. And what’s with his teat lapping fans? Buncha goth/hippie college sissies who eat up every sub-Barry Manilow record his estate dishes out. I hate Buckley fans. They probably can’t take a punch so if you come across one of them during your travels clip em’ on the jaw for me, won’t you? Or even better, mention that you have connections in the record biz and you heard tell of a soul searching bootleg collection making it’s way through the offices of Sony entitled, “Have My Silk Shirts Arrived Yet?”- The Jeff Buckley Answering Machine Tapes Vol. 1 through 7. Discuss at length the palpable pain evident on the opening track of volume 3, “This is Jeff, can I get a large pizza to go?” Music for jellyfish.

Your Band Sucks

These simple tips will help make your next trip to the record store a much less confusing venture. Follow these rules and I promise that you won’t walk out with an Everclear CD.

  1. Is there a photo of the band anywhere on the packaging? If so, is the guitar player holding a seven string? Does the guitar have stickers and/or hot rod flames adorning it? If you answered yes to either of these queries put the record down and move on. These clowns are “extreme” and therefore are up to no musical good. Sid Vicious played bass with one string. Seven strings? Oh grow up.
  2. Does the band have a way too long thank you list? That always spells trouble. A sign that they are a pack of beer guzzling goons and most likely Metallica fans. A true punk doesn’t thank his own mother.
  3. Is the band’s name mono syllabic? Like Korn? Or Staind? And, like these two god awful bands, do they still use the 80’s metal wacky spelling variation? If so, AVOID AT ALL COSTS. One syllable bands are like cockroaches these days. Don’t give them your hard earned money. Starve them out of existence.
  4. Do they look “Punky”? Every Seattle band as of late is a mish mash of seventies New York and Johnny Thunders Junkie Chic. They have no sense of respect. Or taste. The Seattle scene is a big joke. Fucking bands even sing about themselves for cryin’ out loud. One of these days I’m gonna start ticketing these bastards for making complete asses out of themselves. “This is the Rock Police. Step away from the tattoo parlor and put your hands where I can see them. Is that a CBGB’s shirt under your leather jacket?” If you have to look punk then you aint no punk at all.
  5. Is The CD Close To Seventy Minutes In Length? Uh oh. Not a good sign. Nobody, and I mean nobody, is worth listening to for more than 45 minutes. Chances are you’re gonna get stuck with a mountain of filler and ballads.
  6. Is There A Hidden Bonus Track? Does it sneak up on you long after the record has presumably ended? Are they expecting me to jump up out of my seat and exclaim, “Wow, these guys are so tricky!” Just let me hear your damn record without all of those overplayed gimmicks. I hate it when people tell me, “No, don’t turn it off! Just wait for 10 minutes and you’ll hear the singer playing Kumbaya on the zither. It’s fuckin’ hillarious!” Yeah, real funny. I don’t give a fuck, I wanna hear Flipper NOW!

Happy shopping!

Heroes of the 70’s

by John McBain

1. Nick Mason

Another Brit, you say? Absolutely. While no other band fell to Earth faster than The Floyd, even their mid seventies crapola had its moments. Case in point; More. My second favorite Soundtrack. What makes this so mindblowing? Nick Mason. While he did tend to play his drums like a 12 year old girl at times, he knew his limitations, never improved, played just like he did in the Barrett era, had a cool mustache, and never spoke.

Back to More. Do this for me, won’t you? If you don’t own this reefer masterpiece, rush out and buy it, smoke ’em if you got ’em, and at around 3 a.m. drop the needle. (Vinyl always sounds better) You’ll soon realize that Nick was the secret weapon. The most stoned out drummer on the planet.

Now onto my favorite Nick experience and the greatest rock soundtrack of ’em all.

Pink Floyd Live At Pompeii: It simply doesn’t get any better than this. The band is at a creative peak, There’s lots of footage of lava and boiling mud, Gilmour is so stoned that he spends a lot of time sitting, it features the definitive version of Echoes, we get to see the band ordering pie, Waters comes off as likeable, and Mr. Nick Mason is front and center at all times. I must admit that part of me loves this movie so much because I had the same purple butterfly shirt that Nick sports on most of the live footage. Regardless, it stomps all over Syd, makes a mockery of Dark Side, and in the end it will always be in my video collection. Drug abuse never sounded so good.

2. Mel from Grand Funk.

Why? His tone was buttery and monstrous, he smoked a pipe, and he was the bassplayer in Grand Funk Railroad! Do I have to continue?


3. Ringo’s drumming on the Plastic Ono Album.

Every one of you over blown Neil Peart worshipping, rototom slapping; Rat Salad loving drummers could learn a thing or twelve from this gem. Ringo takes a song, strips away the fat, lays down the beat, and literally redefines the art of timekeeping. Soul to the tenth power. At times his tempos are so slow that they almost stop. And check out the slap back echo on “I Found Out.” This guy’s got a backbeat that is untouchable.

Greatest Moments in Rock History Continues…

by John McBain

GREAT “MOMENT” #412: THE “I AIN’T NO MIRACLE WORKER” GUITAR SOLO

The Brogues were nothin’ special. Just another band. At times, completely forgettable. But anyway…. the guitar solo. The moment occurs as the solo starts to take off. First we hear a five or six notes. Nice. Melodic. Whatever. Then IT happens. SCREEEEEEEEEFIZZZZZZZZZZZ! WHAT THE HELL? Sounds like the guitar was dropped in a bathtub. Then, as if nothing happened, the song continues. And they left it on the record. How cool is that?

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Records That Let Their Freakflag Fly

Records That Let Their Freakflag Fly: Greatest “Moments” in Rock History
John McBain, of Wellwater Conspiracy, lets his freakflag fly, and is rambling about the greatest “moments” in rock history:

THE FIREBIRDS/31 FLAVORS CROWN RECORDS (1969)

I get a real kick out of late sixties exploitive “psychedelia”. Sure, the Beatles were this and that, and they broke a lot of ground, but try to talk to me about I Am The Walrus and the conversation ends right there. I’ll take the 1001 Strings version on any given day. Same goes for bands like Blue Cheer. While I’m happy that they will always be there for me, massive burnout set in years ago. I tried their later albums (awful), picked up their post-Cheer stuff (once again, horrid), and finally resigned myself to the fact that it ended abruptly with Outside/Inside and there was nothing that I could do about it.

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