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The Greatest Story Ever Told (Gulcher Records) $10
Back at the dawn of No Future, before mid-70s boredom turned into late-70s hate, Rich Stim and Dave Mahoney were two young guys living in a trailer park. This trailer park was located in the small college town of Bloomington, Indiana. Rich was a newspaper writer by profession (obituaries and music reviews), but he longed to be a musician. He could play sax, bass, guitar, and other assorted instruments. Dave was a drummer, who even did gigs with a local country band. They both sang.
In 1975, Rich and Dave began working up a batch of songs composed by Rich. They called their project Chinaboise. In that very same trailer park lived Rich Fish, who soon moved into a house where he built a tiny studio in an empty bedroom (the teenage Gizmos would record there in '76 and '77). Rich Stim and Dave Mahoney soon joined their former neighbor in his home studio, where Chinaboise recorded a handful of tracks over a few months in '75. Stim asked guitarist Bruce Anderson to join them in the studio for a few songs. Bruce was invited because he was the driving force behind MX-80 Sound, the high-energy avant combo who Stim considered local gods. It turned out Bruce had been thinking about moving MX-80 Sound closer to rock music, and the Chinaboise duo would join MX-80 to record the classic Big Hits EP in 1976.
But back in '75, things were still kinda like the early 70s, and that's nowhere more evident than on this new Gulcher CD of Chinaboise music. If MX-80 '76 is like a pissed-off art punk finally lashing out, Chinaboise '75 is the punk's older boho brother smirking cynically and blowin' his horn. "The Greatest Story Ever Told" was released on the Bloomington 1 comp LP (BRBQ Records '75), but none of the other Chinaboise material ever came out officially. Well, Rich says they "handed out cassettes to some people in town."
"The Greatest Story Ever Told" is a great track. Stim's deadpan vocal and lyric combine with Bruce's jagged avant-metal guitar and Dave's drumming to sound not unlike the "new" MX-80 Sound to come in '76. Except this also has female vocals by Carolyn Boner and Kim Torgerson (who took photos of MX-80 over the years). Bruce Anderson also appears on the ever timely oil-crisis ditty "Living On Oil," the angular MX-80-like "Take Two," and "Self-Conscious Pisser" (vocal by Steve Hoy). The latter would soon become an MX-80 instrumental called "SCP." There's also an early version of MX-80's "Myonga Von Bontee," done here as a sax-and-drums duet by Rich and Dave. "Partners In a Crime" was also re-arranged as an MX-80 song; the version here features vocals by Stim, Dave, and Rich Fish, with only piano accompaniment.
There are a few tunes dominated by a sort of (pseudo-)beatnik campfire vibe--just Rich and Dave interacting like the doob's been passed for awhile. "Girl You Got It (So Go Get It)" and "Demons In The Lone Star State" both feature Rich on recorder! "Sodium Nitrate" is filled with back-and-forth hepster dialogue plus bebop sax. "Caught Between Dreams" moves the action to a jazzy little tavern just down the street. "Working Girl" has Stim's typical workaday lyrics turned inside out from the woman's point of view, with a lovely vocal by Holly Thomison. "Dear Tears" has a similar feel, with Kim Torgerson singing. These two tracks remind me of Stim's work in the 80s with Angel Corpus Christi (Mrs. Stim).
The most surprising sounds here are two tracks of spoken-word humor done in the Firesign Theatre style. "Breakfast at the Gables" has Rich Stim, Rich Fish, and Carolyn Boner doing a mock morning radio show, complete with sound effects and fake commercials. "In the Sahara" has Stim as a bad stand-up comedian, Carolyn and Kim as drunk audience members, Fish as announcer and a drunk, and drummer Brad Fox providing rimshots for Stim's jokes.
Yep, this is a weird one, Gulcher mulchers--lots of DIY fun, interesting musical approaches, and underground history in the making. The CD package includes cool early pix of the MX-80 boys and the rest of the crew, as well as an interview with Rich Stim (by yours truly).
Sphereality (Sympathy for the Record Industry) $10
1992 CD financed by the Sympathy empire and insanely recorded live at a 24-track studio over two tense days. Byron Coley, Forced Exposure: " . . . loose, juiced, brilliant acid-mumble-sprawl by the west coat's kings of lost chordage. Allowed 66 minutes to roam the walls at will, Crawlspace conjure up a world where twang = drone = fuzz = bup, and the look of everything melting is as natural as an un-de-fleeced pubis." David Sprague, Request: "Not since the heyday of ESP Records has head music been pushed to the glorious extremes Flowers' crew reaches. Those who've dreamed of a Can/Stooges jam session should consider the members of this formidable quintet their Prince Charmings." Yvonne Garrett, Rip: " . . . Crawlspace aren't easily accessible. Their music is more likely to consume the listener with its meandering guitars leading into walls of sound. . . . [Eddie's] lyrics have a warped but strong poetry to them. . . . Drop one or two and turn it up." With Eddie Flowers, Joe Dean, Mark McCormick, Keith Telligman, and Bob Lee.
żEt II Bluto? (The Lotus Sound) $10
1997 album with an expanded collective-improv 'Space that included these musicians in various combinations: Eddie Flowers, Joe Dean, Mark McCormick, Allen Clark, Dave Fontana, Greg Hajic, Keith Telligman, Todd Homer, Larry Robinson, and Paul Fontana. Edwin Pouncy, Top Magazine: "This latest selection from the Californian band is a gorgeous, multi-coloured blend of disharmony and psyched-out cacophony." Tony Rettman, 200 Lb. Underground: "The even mix of insane lucidness and focused flow conveys the ups, downs, and above middles of a trip in the same way the Dead's Anthem of the Sun did." Bruce Cole of the Screamin' Mee-Mees: "żEt II Bluto? sounds so cock, it's bogus!"
Law Where Prohibited By Void (Gulcher Records) $10
Deep beneath the surfaces of the so-called real world, located somewhere in the southern Republic of Kalifornia, the three boy-men called Crawlspace assemble their sounds in the Slippy Town Lifestyle Studio. This is the trio's latest public offering: a CD entitled Law Where Prohibited By Void, released by Gulcher Records. What's happening in Slippy Town? Rockin' in the toy box--plastic shiny shells with tiny digital memories of licks by Hendrix and Page--but also got them ol' fashion amps and guitars and stuff--fried boogie, flyin' fancies, rock trance, out grooves, blues power. Invasion of the B gurlz--'lectronic wheeze 'n free clattering sneeze--records and VHS loopin' while the big bass waddles like a sleepy duck. Themes from unsold 1960s cartoon pilots stacked in a corner next to Terry Riley's unreleased remix of Maggot Brain--explodin' into psychodelic noir and free-jazzin' seed-poppin' ganja huffs--ridin' the train back to your third childhood. Doo-wop streetlights from Mama Saturn flash into droning patterns and stuck-groove memories of KDAY (80s L.A. hiphop), KAAY (70s Southern hippie), and the rhythmic South-of-border end-of-dial shiftin' ever outward. All peace to the whirlin' scratchy presence of the late great Mr. John Lee Hooker--sometimes even one chord is too many. And then comes the whiteboy doper blooze: Sabbath's "Into The Void" reconfigured as semi-acoustic folk-jazz hoodoo hoedown. But there ain't no law nowhere--that's an illusion of humanity--nature still runs free. Yep. With 15 tracks and a total running time of 76 minutes, this is the first manufactured 'Space release since 1997's żEt II Bluto? CD (with many, many CDR and cassette releases in between). Rock on, y'all. With Eddie Flowers, Greg Hajic, and Joe Dean. Released 2003.
The Spirit of '76 (Gulcher Records) $10
Take me back. Yeah, take me back. Take me back to where I once beee-longed. (Elvis version of the Fab 4.) Git back juju. Man, I always hated "retro"--although I always loved "roots." What's the diff? Who knows, and who cares! After 15 years or so in the outer regions, the Crawlspace mamaship has touched down on solid rock again. Start wigglin' yer toes in mud and rollin' rugs off the floor.
What am I saying here, brothers and sisters? I'm saying . . . LET'S ROCK!
Out in Slippy Town, Republic of California, they got rock and revolution on their minds. R&R circa 1950-1976 (but time is an illusion). Revolution coz yeah, war still sux and racism still sux. But this is revolution thru tokin' and dancin'--not the kinda bad-vibe methods that W.'s cabal is using to fug up the whole party. What follows is the Crawlspace 13-point program, collectively known as THE SPIRIT OF '76:
1. "Theme For A Wet T-Shirt Contest" -- The boys in the band jam out an instrumental intro in honor of perky nipples 'n plump-dimpled butts. This ain't sexism, sisters, it's bowing before the holy twat.
2. "Califawnia Gurls" -- Original version was from 1976 by the Brooklyn trio called O. Rex (with upstate NY dude and Gizmos founder Ken Highland). Hey gals, if you refuse it, you just might lose it! Keep them snappers from snappin' too hard!
3. "Just Seventeen" -- Heavy Raiders tune from their "hip" 1970 album COLLAGE. Crawlspace will now paraphrase the prophet John Waters: "If there's hair, it's fair!" How many puritans does it take to screw in a light bulb? Nobody knows, because puritans won't admit they screw.
4. "Hey Joe (Version Version)" -- Mutation in action: Patti Smith's "Sixty Days" intro to her "Hey Joe (Version)" '74 single + the Arthur Lee/Love arrangement '66 = Crawlspace breathin' in some folk-rockin' air. The message is pretty muddled here, but yes, there is anti-Iraq War rhetoric improvised towards the end. I mean, really, man, can you BELIEVE the 21st century so far?!
5. "Fight For Liberation" -- Crawlspace stands for rock first, but we're also lefties somewhere down the line. Yes, art always outweighs politics, but sometimes they get all tangled up in a way that works. One of the best examples of that is Patrick Sky's 1973 album SONGS THAT MADE AMERICA FAMOUS. The original of this song was the opening track. It has a "message"--it's not very subtle--it sez look at the world from the bottom up. It's also funny!
6. "Take Your War On Vacation" -- This is our own personal rockin' take on the current insanity. Our philosophy of life: hey man, let's all just get stoned and forget about it--but if you just can't let it go, puh-leeze attack the right people and leave the rest of us alone! Can't we all just get along? Won't you please pass the bong?
7. "Leavin' Here" -- And if we can't find no peace, we might just gotta be gettin' outta here again! Where's my space suit? We based our version of Eddie Holland's "Leavin' Here" on the 1965 cover version by Ron Wood's mod band the Birds.
8. "Space Truckin'" -- Riff! Riff! Bang! Bang-a-bang! Whoosh! We take Deep Purple's 1972 classic and throw it in the furnace of our homemade UFO. Here we go again! Rrrrrrrrrroooooaarrrrrr!
9. "Rat Fink" -- From Allan Sherman's immortal album MY SON, THE NUT (1963). Crawlspace turns Sherman's version of "Rag Mop" into a stoned skunkabilly anthem. Everybody sing along: "R - A - T - T F - I - N - K! Rat fink! Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah!" The political ramifications of this track are open to debate.
10. "Never Never" -- When will we stop rockin'? The title sez it all! Git on board the rocket ship now! This is the third and final Crawlspace original here.
11. "Chemicals In The Mail" -- The spirit of . . . '78? That's the year the original of this killer was released by the C*nts. It's another song with a strong message: "I just turn the channels till I get chemicals in the mail."
12. "Erotic Neurotic" -- An abbreviated version of a long punk-rock song from 1977 by the Saints, quite possibly the best so-called punk-rock band that ever existed. So sayeth the mighty author of these words!
13. "Sympathy For The Devil" -- What can be said? Good and evil are illusions of the human brain. But if forced to choose, rock'n'roll must choose Lucifer. How'd the Horned One get such a bad rep anyway? This tune, of course, is the opening track from the best album (released '68) by the world's eleventh greatest R&R band. Yes, music fans, the beginning of this track is a jam coming out of a Roky Erickson song ("Children nailed to the cross!"), but we won't tell you which one! As for the end of the track, yes, there is something wrong with your stereo--impatient punks can simply turn it off, hippie rockers can pack another bowl and groove on . . . and on.
Crawlspace is Eddie Flowers, Greg Hajic, and Joe Dean. Robin Lehman plays synthesizer on "Space Truckin'." Front cover painting by Krazee Ken Highland, circa 1973. Released 2006.
Ignorance Is Bliss (Gulcher Records) $10
13 blasts of ROCK aimed at your hungry head. This time we've got no less than eleven new originals plus a couple covers. Here's a quick rundown. . . .
"(I Am) The Watcher": Remember that bald guy from the Fantastic Four comic books? I woke from a dream, and these words flowed directly onto paper. All wrapped up in total gnarl!
"Blame It On The Universe": Well, you know, you gotta blame SOMEBODY! And I figure why leave anybody out? Me included, y'know?
"Whatever Happened To Gloria?": Sendin' this one out to Gloria Leonard, Gloria Stavers, and Wizzard.
"(Here Come) Them Sexy Sixties": What happens when baby-boom chicks get "old"? So far, it's lookin' NOT BAD AT ALL! The dirty old men of Crawlspace give thumbs up. Yeah, there's a Rolling Stones reference--what's it to ya?!
"First I Look At The Purse": Yep, our take on the J. Geils take on the Contours/Smokey Robinson classic. Gimme some money, honey!
"Vote Yes On 69": Wobblebilly, baby! And the polls close early, so get on it! B-b-baby, beaver patrol!
"Women In Cemeteries (Throwin' Monkeys)": Hey, does anybody know what this one's about? Dunno. It sho' do jam, though!
"The Girl's Gettin' Lower": We give you the gift of 21st century concrete-swamp-rock. Burn it up loud!
"Rt. 1 Box 22N": All right, man, a little breathin' room for a couple minutes. Pack a bowl and let the delta flow.
"Mark Of Death": Second cover song, this one from the 1973 movie HORROR HOSPITAL and originally performed by heavy Satan-rockers Mystic (who?).
"Sara Jane!": Remember the chick who tried to shoot Gerald Ford? No, not the Manson broad--the OTHER ONE! Well, here's a scorcher that tells you the whole true story. Kinda.
"Not A Heartache": Is it gnu-wave or skunkabilly? Hmmm, you be the judge, dear listener. Do the push'n'pull!
"Some Shitty Girls": Hey, it's a bit of old-time Crawlspace improv! And an instrumental to boot. Dedicated to the late, very great Charles Gocher (Sun City Girls drummer).
Crawlspace is Greg Hajic, Joe Dean, Bob Lee, Grady Runyan (not on this album but next time!), and your non-humble narrator Eddie Flowers. Released 2010.