Nation Of Ulysses [Not a tape!]

February 15, 2012 § Leave a comment

 

This not a tape of mine, I found this picture here and I just couldn’t resist reposting it.

If you dig the mAKE uP check N.O.U. out.

 

Cuaderno Latino (Modern Classical Guitar) [TDK D60] – A story as I remember it

February 14, 2012 § Leave a comment

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My dear friend Teo has studied classical guitar since the age of ten. To be precise, his mom made him and his brother Tommy study it. While Tommy didn’t stick to it, Teo slowly grew fonder of his instrument and with the years he also started growing his own tastes, until moving altogether from a classical approach to the world of flamenco. I don’t know exactly how he came to it, but I believe one of the steps that lead him toward this other form of expression and “break the chains”, so to speak, was meeting Marco Pisoni, a classical guitarist whom, for a while has been his maestro and through whom he discovered modern latin american composers such as Leo Brouwer and Heitor Villa Lobos.

Like I said, I can’t remember exactly how the story went (I will ask Teo soon and maybe add a note to this post) nor  how exactly he came to know of Marco Pisoni and these modern classical authors, what i do remember is listening to Teo practicing a piece called Choro N°1 one night at his place. I was astonished: the music itself was truly beautiful, funny and enjoyable,  but what really made my heart skip a beat was that I was asked to listen and watch him play. You see, the last time I had heard him playing classical guitar was a long time before, when he had just started: he wasn’t usually sharing with others the music he was studying, instead I heard him more than once playing electric guitar. It was like there was a difference between the music he liked to play and the music he had to play. Then, once again, he was preparing for an exam (I think), and for the first time it seemed that he really liked the tune and the music he was studying. Yes, as I recall there had been the odd piece of music which he enjoyed more than others, but this time it was different, it was like he had found something. And this “something” beamed through when he was playing, curved on his guitar, grunting at every small mistake he made while trying to get it better and better and truly enjoying it. And if you ever been lucky enough to hear somebody play or sing for you in the same room, you know what this means.

So yeah, I fell for this music too. I gave the Choro N°1 the nickname of “El toquiño” (you may see that on the tape card. Of course it has nothing to do with the homonymous guitarist) and I remember nagging Teo in several occasions to have him play that and other tunes over and over. Marco Pisoni was sometimes playing live with a duo called Clasico Fandango in which he was accompanied by a percussionist and we had the chance to see them play live at the local library. Teo also managed to get two of the Cds they recorded and lent them to me for a while: from those Cds I made this collection. Some years later, when Cd-burners were already a common thing he also made a mix-cd and gave it to me before I left for Norway for a year. I still listen to this music to these days, it’s beautiful music (if you care to listen you’ll find out yourself) but now I do know that I was never quite into it, as much as I was into Teo being into it.


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Encoded from a TDK D60 cassette.
Noise, cracks and hissing are intentionally left untouched.

The Misfits – Collection II & I [TDK D46] – Enter “Alex The Fur”

February 6, 2012 § Leave a comment

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We were thirteen or so, my friends and I were just staring moving our first steps into music and we had just found out about this incredible band called Metallica. We knew every single song by heart, but we wanted more and we were constantly craving for new Metallica songs, therefore we started hunting for bootlegs, looking for rarities and covers. One of my friends managed to find a really good one on which Metallica played many songs we never heard of: one of them was called Last Caress. Then I remember a picture of Cliff Burton wearing this awesome T-shirt sporting a great big skull: we all loved that T-shirt…

Enter my friend and ex bandmate Alessio “The Baron”. Alessio at the time was a sort of  myth. A couple of years older than us, he was (and still is) a huge guy with long curly hair and a thick beard which at the time earned him the nickname of  “Alex the Fur”. He had a little radio program at the local radio station called “Sudden Impact” which we all used to listen (thinking about it, we were probably his only audience). He was a skater, he loved horror movies and according to one guy at school who knew him personally, his bedroom was a “heavy metal temple”.  He was the one to ask to for all music matters, as he seemed to know everything of almost every band ever existed.
So one day we got on our BMXs and went looking for this oracle to ask him about this great song we’ve heard. We found him skating along the streets, we never met him before, but his huge figure was unmistakable. We shily introduced, finding out with a pleasurable surprise that he was a truly funny and friendly guy. Finally one of us dared to ask: “We all love Metallica and ther’s this one song which doesn’t feature on any of their albums: the song is called Last Caress.”  Alex The Fur looked down at us fresh newbies with short hair with a bit of a scornful smile and, raising an eybrow, he spoke enlightening us:  “That song is featured in a very rare Metallica EP, which I own of course. It is not an original, but a cover from a band that is no more. have you noticed the skull tattoed on Cliff Burton’s shoulder? That’s their logo. Their founding member is called Glenn Danzing and their bass player, Jerry Only, is James Hetfield’s older brother.”  This last bit of information later proved to be just a legend, but none of us could know at the time (not even Alessio,  you’ll find out the reason why in the next few lines), still these few infos were enough for us to jump back on our BMXs and venture for yet another two big quests: that of the mythical Garage Days EP, and the even harder quest for The Misfits.

Thanks to Metallica, The Misfits were getting the fame they didn’t have while still together, but their records still proved to be hard to find. Infos about their biography were nowhere to be found, more to this, their discography was quite tangled up (you can check for yourself here) and the record shops were full of bootleg material, most of it worthless due to the horrible sound quality.  Some lucky guys, among which Alessio of course, managed to find at a record fair a much coveted copy of the Beware EP , which featured Last Caress in its tracklist (he had to tape it to oh so many people) but all the rest of us were left to the easier to find Legacy Of Brutality, Walk Among Us, Heart A.D. and Collection I. We had to wait until 1995 when all of a sudden a new Misfits collection was released featuring Last Caress in good sound quality along with many other precious gems. Still the CD provided almost no infos, no dates, no names, anything. The quest was still on.

More about the Misfits will follow in the next posts…


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Encoded from a TDK D46 cassette.
Noise, cracks and hissing are intentionally left untouched.

The Cramps – Songs The Lord Taught Us – [A few undisputable facts]

February 2, 2012 § 1 Comment

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A few undisputable facts about The Cramps.
The Cramps were, and still are the most deranged and dangerous band ever. There will never ever be a  cooler or better sounding alias than Lux Interor. Poison Ivy was (and still is) one of the sexyest women in rock’n’roll. Lux Interior & Posion Ivy have been together from 1972 until Lux left (t)his world 2009 (R.I.P). They were the one and only rock’n’roll couple, here’s your thought for Valentine’s Day (Of The Dead). The title of their first album, this album, is one of the greatest titles in rock music ever: remember to file under sacred music. They played in a mental hospital, and watching the tapes now, the only difference between the inmates and the band seem to be the instruments. They were outcast. They were ghouls of rock’n’roll feeding on the flesh of dead and long forgotten music, sucking out the excitement and danger of a genre that was later deprived of all of these juicy features. They were the Dr. Frankenstein of rock’nroll. They were the Frankenstein monster of rock’n’roll.  They told us how to be cool, in one easy lesson. The Cramps were not  ironic: though dripping with black humor and the sexyest sleaziest lyrics you may find around, they were dead serious at what they did. Pictures are worth many words on this issue. When they played in Italy for the first time ever in 1980 in Milan (supporting The Police, believe it or not), people were so astonished and puzzled that most of the audience was just staring at the stage, jaw to the floor: at the zombie dance nobody moved. True story. When me and my friend Alessio “The Baron” put together a band we couldn’t find a bass player: we decided that we didn’t need one, because The Cramps didn’t have one. I wasn’t a very good singer so I soaked my voice in echo, as Lux Interior always sounded like two (haunted) singers howling from a cave. Their drummer sounded like a robot and looked like a zombie. We didn’t have a drummer at first, so we played with a robot: a drum machine called Mr. Grady. When we found a drummer he said never held a pair of sticks before: we gave him a Cramps tape, and a week later we had our first rehearsal together.

A few words on Man Or Astroman: here. To this I may add that Destroy All Astromen! is maybe their best album (even if it’s not an album). Or at least it is my favorite…


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Encoded from a TDK FE60 cassette.
Noise, cracks and hissing are intentionally left untouched.

Blue Öyster Cult [original tape] – The coolest uncool band ever

January 30, 2012 § Leave a comment

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This tape is the first of some exceptions I’ll probably make along the way: as you may see from the picture this is an original cassette although not an average one. It was part of an Italian booklet-series-cum-tape called “Rock – Storia e musica” published in the early 80ies (here‘s a complete collection on sale on E-Bay): the booklets sometimes were hastily assembled, and with hindsight one may realise that the informations were sometimes inaccurate. Also the style in which these short biographies are written is funnily rethorical and overblown: it looks like in those times music journalist still had to prove that rock music was something “important”. Nonetheless this series was very popular back then as it provided lots of useful informations in a time when even sorting out an album discography (not to mention the  singles) could have required a lot of research. Also, each booklet, dedicated to a single artist or band, came with a sampler or even a full album. My uncle passed on to me an almost complete collection when I was thirteen or so, and it was as if I found a goldmine!

I didn’t know anything abouth Blue Öyster Cult, but being into heavy metal I immediatly sniffed something when I saw the picture on the cover of the booklet and read titles such as Black Blade, Hot Rails To Hell and Dominance and Submission. At that time I was also reading The Stand, which quoted (Don’t Fear) The Reaper, this way turning this tape into a perfect soundtrack for the book. And this is how it started…

As sometimes happenes, you develope a certain fondness, a weird unexplicable attraction for a particular band, even if you never exactly fall for it. In my case this happened for BÖC: slowly along the years I ended up owning five or six vinyls all bought at second hand stores or thrifts markets at ridicolous prices: it looked like everybody got rid of their albums. Yeah, they are a dinosaur band now and their last records suck, and I also know that  BÖC are regarded as one of the uncoolest band ever, but at the cost of sounding like Homer Simpson defending Grand Funk Railroad (I wanted to link a YouTube video, but they’re all gone: thanks.) I have to say that  frankly this seems unfair to me.

Here’s a few informations in no particular order  that should be enough to tempt you into listening to BÖC.
They have some marvellous sci-fi lyrics written by writer Micheal Moorcock; if you do like Motorpsycho you must know that they entitled thei 2010 album Heavy Metal Fruit quoting a BÖC song, meaning they like BÖC too; their guitarist “Buck Dharma” was Patti Smith‘s lover; they featured in one of the funniest Saturday Night Live skit ever; if you’re into great guitar solos and great riffs BÖC are good for you. Last but not least the proof of them being a great band is in the pudding of their live records, which by the way are often better then their studio albums in terms of production and sheer energy: try listening Side A of this tape! All the tracks here are taken from their double album Extraterrestrial Live, which features some of their best songs ever such as E.T.I, (Don’t Fear) The Reaper, Godzilla and Dominance And Submission. Here’s another reason to like BÖC: this live version of Godzilla features silliest attempt at censoring I ever heard. While introducing the song, singer Eric Bloom shouts “Holy shit, it’s Godzilla!” but an incredibly clumsy “ding dong” sound covers the horrific scatological word providing the listener with a most precious and savourable “whathefuck-moment”.

I almost forgot: BÖC have an incredibly cool logo! I like it even more than the band or the songs themselves! In fact it’s engraved or painted on every single guitar or guitar case I own and even on my car. To this day I still couldn’t find a good BÖC t-shirt though, but the quest goes on.


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Encoded from an original cassette, no infos about the manufacturer.
Noise, cracks and hissing are intentionally left untouched.

VVAA – Heroes & Cowards/English Waves! [A rough guide to punk rock ]

January 27, 2012 § Leave a comment

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Another one from the “private library” at my uncle’s.
This tape is a selection of two vintage punk rock samplers/compilations from Stiff Records and RCA Victor entitled Heroes & Cowards and English Waves!. This was my very first taste of what English punk rock  meant apart from The Sex Pistols and The Clash: these two records were the hunch I needed to start digging deeper and deeper. With hindsight I reckon they’re both quite interesting in terms of selection and quality (see for yourself by clicking on the links above) my favorite being the Stiff one: you know, we love our label… Strange fact: combining these two records you have the full tracklist to the infamous Snuff Rock EP by Alberto Y Los Trios Paranoias a parody of punk rock so good it may actually be the  real thing: try listening to Kill (which mocks The Damned, who mocked The Shangri Las) or Gobbin’ On Life!

Note:

As you may see by the front card, Side A & B of Gary Gilmore’s Eyes 7″ by The Adverts replaced Patti Smith‘s Piss Factory and The HeartbreakersLove Comes In Spurts. These two  tracks, followed by Sonic Reducer by the Dead Boys (on the tape the song comes after a ten seconds gap after Bored Teenager) were part of a compilation called Punk Collection, an early Italian attempt at describing (but mostly selling) punk rock.


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Originally recorded on a TDK HF60 cassette from vinyl.
Noise, cracks and hissing are intentionally left untouched.

Red Hot Chili Peppers – What Hits?! [TDK CDing I 70]

January 25, 2012 § Leave a comment

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Minutes ago, a friend of mine commenting on this tape said at first she couldn’t recognize the band. I have to agree with her: if you’re used to what Red Hot Chili Peppers are now it may be hard to recognize them at all.

Blood Sugar Sex Magik, the album that made’em big stars, was a real watershed for RHCP and in fact proved to be close to being a perfect record: a bunch of great songs, a bunch of not-so great songs, a perfect timeless-yet-zeitgeist production and a perfectly coherent iconic artwork. Unluckily after BSSSM, RHCP already having a fifteen years career, seemed to have lost their momentum, turning quite fast from being a weird funk-punk machine (which often flirted with metal) to a colorful pop band with a couple of template-songs: the fast one and the ballad.

That said, on this non-hits collection (Under The Bridge being their only chart success at the time it was released) one may really find the best examples of RHCP pre-hits era. Here you may recognize the debt that the band own to Gang Of Four and how comes that Flea flirted with Fear.  Best tracks in my opinions: the Sly And Family Stone cover of If You Want Me To Stay and Show Me Your Soul whcih some may remember from the soundtrack of Pretty Woman.

In the 90ies 70  and 74 minutes cassettes became quite popular: as the capacity of the CD was 74 minutes, albums and compilations started being longer then before, therefore a C-46 or a C-60 cassette often wasn’t enough to tape a whole album.


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Originally recorded on a TDK F60 cassette.
Noise, cracks and hissing are intentionally left untouched.

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