Having little more space for records, I now shop for quality rather than quantity. I also try to replace lost cassettes or cds with pristine vinyl, and at the Archive of Contemprary Music’s sale the other day my quantitatively meagre take included PIL’s Second Edition and the Hoodoo Gurus’ Mars Needs Guitars (1985). Great price, too: together for a whopping 10 bucks (thanks, Phast Phreddie). Had the PIL on cassette until grad school, when a tool roommate stole it. Now I have this, again:
Mars Needs Guitars I picked up because my cassette copy has languished in a gutter somewhere around exit 105 of the Garden State Parkway since 1988, and because I figured my 1.5-year old daughter might like it. She’s cool like that. And she did, digging “Bittersweet” and especially “Death Defying,” which is now officially the ‘ooo-eee” song, if by request.
She liked it enough to give it her stomp of approval:
And then she had her babybear weeblewobble step on it too.
She’s a new wave gal.
This being Lost Oughts Friday, I’m handing you the treat of treats: Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet. Most known for the incidental and theme music for The Kids in the Hall, SMOASP were much more, a guitar-instrumental outfit easily transcending the surf genre; their only peers were the Mermen, Link Wray, and maybe Dick Dale. And they had a fantastic name.
They’re also known for 2/3 of the band going on to form Phono Comb, a one-album-wonder in turn known for being Jad Fair’s backing band in the mid-to-late nineties. Bassist Reid Diamond died of cancer not too long ago, so there won’t be a reunion, sadly. I had a chance to see SMOASP back in 1995, right before the breakup, but stayed home for some reason that mght make me want to kill myself if I happen to remember it.
The above theme and a slew of early singles were collected for the fun-as-drugs Savvy Show Stoppers in 1990; its consistency and quality allows it to pass as a real album. Try these yummies:
1991’s Dim the Lights, Chill the Ham ups the proverbial ante; song titles, for one, improve considerably. You have to have nifty song titles if you’re gonna record instrumentals. And then there’s a Sonny Bono cover, “Bang Bang,” which can never be a bad thing. We’ll ignore his political ‘career.’
1993’s Sport Fishin’ changes things up, partially due to the presence of that Albini fuckbird behind the board, and due to what looked to be growing ennui with their path, hinted oh so subtly with the track “We’re Not a Fucking Surf Band.” But changes are good, here, especially, as the guitar sound gets larger, and Albini’s recording methods lend themselves to SMOASP’s at once versatile and strong rhthym section; never before has a ‘surf’ band had three equally-skilled lead players. Maybe the Ventures, but their experiments were awful. On Sport Fishin’, the drums click, the melodies embarrass the sun, and the ideas swarm like bats from a freshly opened cave.
Best of all, they come from Canada, that country that becomes more like its own country the more this country becomes some weird, theocratic, economically fragile, war-mongering fuckstain. That I love.
Have an average, good, great, or awful weekend.