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 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.

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!


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.

L7 – Smell The Magic / Propagandhi – How To Clean Everything [TDK F60]

January 23, 2012 § Leave a comment

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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.

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

Babes In Toyland – Nemesisters [TDK F-60]

January 19, 2012 § Leave a comment

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I’ve been reading on different occasions that the rock world is quite misogynist. I didn’t quite get what this meant until I found out that many of my peers back in the 90ies regarded female rock bands or female musicians (apart from folk singers and such) as novelties/jokes. I wasn’t shocked or anything, I didn’t get it then and I still don’t get it nowaday. What’s so strange about a female rocker? I liked many of the bands that came out of the so called Riot Grrrl movement such as L7, Bikini Kill, Huggy Bear and the Babes In Toyland. While reading White Line Fever some years ago I was happy to find out that even Lemmy, not your average politically correct chap, had the same point of view.

However, liking female bands and all, and having sometimes different opinions than some of my prejudiced peers, sometimes I liked to think of myself as a being quite liberal and open minded. A pretty smart guy, you know?
Up there at my uncle’s I had a very dear friend who was also into music, a lot, but being the closest record shop 30Km away from his village, and being basically the only metalhead/punk around he didn’t have many chances of getting new music. So everytime we met, he was eager to listen all the news stuff I bought up as his Metallica and Slayer tapes and the few CDs he had were almost falling apart from consumption. I was truly happy to share my new findings with him, but I admit I also took a bit of pride in what I regarded as a “mission”:  the city-boy “educating”  the country-boy friend. So then, one winter among the cassettes I brought with me I had Babes In Toyland. He just saw the tape and asked about it and I remember replying something like: “Naah, I don’t think you’d like them, they’re too strange for you I guess. Maybe in some time.”  What did he do? He trusted me of course: I was his friend! So much for the smart, open minded guy. Yeah, we were sixteen o seventeen, but that’s a pretty lame excuse for being an asshole.
I’m sorry Pal.

B.I.T were never exactly a riot grrl band in my opinion and certainly they were not grunge (now that I think about it: what’s grunge?!) but sure they did rock. They were a nasty powerful trio, abrasive, harsh and metallic and they had a terrific drummer called Lori Barbero. Fontanelle was the album that made them known to a greater audience thanks to the association with grunge and a single called Bruise Violet which featured in a quite famous compilation (more will come on this). Nemesisters was their last record and well…let’s say that I do own Fontanelle on CD while Nemesisters is only on a copied tape. Still is not that bad a record in my opinion, not as bad as AllMusic says at least.

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Originally recorded on a Sony HF90 cassette.
Noise, cracks and hissing are intentionally left untouched.

[Side B] Man Or Astroman – Project Infinity / Propagandhi – Less Talk, More Rock [A pusher’s gift]

January 16, 2012 § 1 Comment

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Side B of this tape features simply the “best of” two records which I had on vinyl: tipically you would tape some of the songs you had on vinyl or CD so that you could listen to them on your Walkman. The process was much slower than covnerting or transferring files, and the lenght of the tape was another limit to your playlist. I wouldn’t go back to those days, but with hindsight those limits can be seen as qualities: the attention and dedication you put into choosing which songs to record, made for tapes that you’d literally tear apart by endlessly listening to them. Making a proper mixtape would take hours adding meaning and “aura” to the object itself. If you ever made a mixtape for someone you loved, you know what I mean.


I bet almost every music enthusiat could recall where they bought almost every record they have: in fact I clearly remember the day I bought Project Infinity by Man Or Astroman. That day I went to my favorite record shop, New Zabrinskie Point and left with this Lp plus After Dark  by the mAKE uP and Dead Cool by Chrome Cranks (check’em out!) having spent all my money. I was happily broke. Later I checked with some friends at a park in Milan where notoriusly people went to buy and smoke weed and hang out. Police knew all about it, but for quite some time they didn’t bother too much. I saw a wallet on a bench. I sat down next to it and let it slide in my pocket. I met my friends, let it out and opened it: a fac-simile driving license with the picture of a north-african guy sporting a funny face and something like 300.000 Liras* in it: I had found the wallet of  a pusher. Of course, the thought of giving it back didn’t even cross my mind: we split the cash and had fun. Cherry on top: that day a dealer had paid for my music.

For the record: Man Or Astroman were an American surf-space-age-punk band, but that’s quite reductive, as they were one of the craziest nerdiest bands around in the 90ies. Check out their Wiki page for more infos!

Not much to say about Propagandhi now, more will come soon.

*300.000 Liras (roughly 150€) was quite a sum in 1996, specially for us kids: mind that for the three vynils I had spent less than 40.000 in all and THAT to me was already a lot of money.

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Originally recorded on a DK D-60 cassette.
Noise, cracks and hissing are intentionally left untouched.

[Side A] Arturo – Ar-cor / Anarki og Kaos: Norsk Punk ’79-’81 [Teenage Angst]

January 16, 2012 § Leave a comment

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I remember listening to Arturo on a road trip with my friend Diego. We were 18, it was early november and were speeding on the highway at 140Kmh in Diego’s Fiat Panda, windows rolled down, screaming the lyrics at the top of our lungs. We were coming back from a short visit at my uncle’s in the mountians: four wild days of no sleep, weed, partying and alcohol. Four days of exorcism, trying to forget, trying to mend a broken heart. I can’t imagine a better soundtrack to this than some raw, fast, juvenile, stupid, passionte, angry, desperate hardcore punk.  I want to be speechless / Tears in my eyes, rage in my heart [Senza Parole (Speechless)]. Teenage angst at its maximum.

For the Italians: you may find all the infos you need about Arturo on Wikipedia. For the non Italians: Arturo are (were?) a hardcore-punk band from Turin. Ar-cor was their first album released on Panx Records in 1995. Sorry if you don’t understand Italian: the lyrics sometimes are quite good.

Anarki & Kaos – Norsk Punk 79-81 is a norwegian punk-rock compilation released in 1992 on Voices Of Wonder records. I bought it in Olso in 1996, during my first trip to Norway. If you’re into early punk-rock and like digging for rough gems I strongly recommend it. It’s still possible to find it here and there, legally or not: you choose. Featured here three of my favorite songs and a fourth which I wonder why I taped.  Diego used to say that Monster by Front Page reminded him of  Time Warp from The Rocky Horror Picture Show: in fact he’s right…  Du Er En Dritt (more or less: You’re An Asshole) by Rough Trade says it all in 22 seconds, while I suspect that Holocaust by Sjølmord may have “interesting” lyrics: it’s sung in German, so it’s hard to tell. About the last song…I think I should have taped this one instead.

One of best things about C-60s was the fact that you could tape a full album and you had some blank space to fill at the end of each side: main course plus a dessert. In this case I could tape a full album on one side plus four more songs: ask a punk about economy.

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Get to Side B

Originally recorded on a TDK D-60 cassette.
Noise, cracks and hissing are intentionally left untouched.

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