February 14, 2012 § Leave a comment
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.
February 2, 2012 § 1 Comment
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.
January 27, 2012 § Leave a comment
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!
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 Heartbreakers‘ Love 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.
January 25, 2012 § Leave a comment
Click on thumbnails to enlarge.
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.
January 23, 2012 § Leave a comment
Click on thumbnails to enlarge.
Note: since we all know what happend to Megaupload, the previous uploads are missing and for the time being cassettes will be available only in streaming version. Sorry for the inconvenience! I’ll sort it out soon..
This is a double feature cassette that is propably consumed by the hundreds of time I listened to it. Here are two of my favourite bands from the 90ies: the ass-kicking, tampon-shoving, definetely pro-feminist riot grrrls L7 on Side A plus the pro-feminist, animal-friendly, anti-fascist, gay-positive boys from Manitoba (CA) Propagandhi on Side B. Talk about being angry & pissed.
I came to know of L7, as many kids did, thanks to their huge hit Pretend We’re Dead: twenty years later that song still kicks ass by the way. What I immediately liked was their thick heavy fat sound, a perfect match with their flippant middle-finger attitude. L7 weren’t pretty, sexy or delicate girls: they were heavy, rude and direct, but they were feminine nonetheless and didn’t pretend to be boys. I found this incredibly cool and, yeah I found L7 to be quite sexy, in a way.
Fun fact: on their The Beauty Process: Triple Platinum album there’s a song entitled Lorenza, Giada, Alessandra. These are the names of three Italian hardcore L7 fans who came to know them and became friends with the band during the Hungry For Stink tour. L7 were so kind to dedicate a song to them. True story: I knew the girls! I can only imagine how they felt the first time they read the tracklist to the album. Ain’t this a wonderful little story?
How To Clean Everything is Propagandhi’s first album and when it came out I immediately fell in love with it. The lyrics were so smart, angry and funny, and the music was fresh, powerful and original. That said, listening to this record now, you can tell the band was quite young at the time and it can’t but sound a bit naive. For instance in certain occasions they ended up finding themselves entrapped into some kind of catch-22 situations. Everybody loved Ska Sucks, as it was a funny little ska-core song, but as it was intended to be “against” stupid ska songs, it backfired and the band started hating it quite soon. The same more or less applies to Haillie Sellasse, Up Your Ass: a reggae song against rastafarianism and religions in general. The lyrics and message of the song, conveyed once again through the code it’s supposed to be against (you know, like writing a book to express the idea that books suck) though witty are a bit confused and superficial. That and the spelling mistake in the title. Still I can’t do anything but love this record: at the time I didn’t find it naive at all, it was just perfect the way it was, and still is nowadays even with the inevitable hindsight that comes with age. I found out that I’m not the only one who has the same opinion. Here’s what vocalist Chris Hannah said about How To Clean Everything in a 2009 interview:
I dig it. We still play songs from that record. When I hear them and I play them, the message still resonates with me and I can see the 20 year old Chris writing those songs. It’s still fun, I still get a kick out of it. When we play them these days, they seem seamless in the set, with the new songs. There’s a bit of a difference in terms of the depth and dimension, but they’re still fun to play.
I just don’t like when I hear that record, like when I hear that actual record, that recording. That moment in time. I’m just like, “Jesus Christ, turn that fucking thing off”. But I don’t regret it. I’m not trying to hide that record from people. I just can’t lie to people and tell them we’re going to make another How to Clean Everything.