The Stooges – “The Stooges (Deluxe Edition)” (WEA)

Disc One

1. 1969
2. I Wanna Be Your Dog
3. We Will Fall
4. No Fun
5. Real Cool Time
6. Ann
7. Not Right
8. Little Doll

Disc Two

01. No Fun
02. 1969
03. I Wanna Be Your Dog
04. Little Doll
05. 1969
06. I Wanna Be Your Dog
07. Not Right
08. Real Cool Time
09. Ann
10. No Fun

36 years down the line from it’s original release – “The Stooges” still defines the birth of Punk Rock. The Rolling Stones & The Who may well have forged the template expanded on by The Velvet Underground, The MC5 & a thousand US garage bands – but compared to The Stooges – they were just scratching their bollocks. Nothing had sounded like “The Stooges” before “The Stooges”. That cannot be ignored.

The original LP has now been expanded into a 2-disc bonanza - & the Rhino hallmark of quality is present & correct throughout. The packaging, sleeve-notes, photos & sound quality are exemplary. All your birthdays have come at once.

Disc 1 confirms everything you ever needed to know about Punk Rock. The Stooges famously didn’t have enough songs to fill the LP when recording commenced – so they buggered off sharpish to write some more – but not before having a massive ruck with John Cale about the volume levels of their back-line. The eventual compromise saw the volume of The Stooges amps fall from 10 to 9. Some compromise.

Disc 2 contains 10 alternative John Cale mixes that provide tantalising glimpses of what The Stooges sounded like when you turned the guitar down & the percussion up.

“The Stooges” is simply one of the most seminal debut LPs ever made - & this edition is the only CD version you’ll ever need.

The Stooges – “Fun House (Deluxe Edition)” (WEA)

Disc One

1. Down On The Street
2. Loose
3. T.V. Eye
4. Dirt
5. 1970
6. Fun House
7. L.A. Blues

Disc Two

01. T.V. Eye
02. Loose
03. Loose
04. Loose
05. Lost In The Future
06. Down On The Street
07. Down On The Street
08. Dirt
09. Slide (Slidin' The Blues)
10. 1970
11. Fun House
12. Fun House
13. Down On The Street
14. 1970

“Funhouse” has long been regarded by many as one of the ‘greatest LPs of all time’ - & if you don’t believe them (or me) – just ask Jack White. He’s been chosen to provide the cover sticker recommendation - presumably - as he’s from Detroit (or are The White Stripes on WEA in the US? – Conspiracy Ed).

Disc 1 houses the original LP in all it’s re-mastered glory – a guttural howl from the opening note to the close. The re-mastering process brings every nuance to life. The sound & scope of “Funhouse” is absolutely fucking enormous. The Stooges wanted to recreate their live set for “Funhouse” - & sitting here 30 odd years later with my headphones melting from the effort – I can assure you they succeeded.

Disc 2 collects 14 out-takes from the “Funhouse” sessions for those of you who missed out on Rhino’s “Complete Funhouse Sessions” box-set a few years back. Here’s the meat – without all that pesky gravy spilling down your (tight?) pants.

Again, the booklet comes complete with extensive sleeve-notes, previously un-seen photographs & plenty of insight from the boys themselves. Some of us have been waiting rather a long time for this brace of releases. For those of you who know what you’ve been missing – the wait is finally over. For those of you who don’t – buy on sight.

Jean Encoule – tMx 21 – 08/05

The Pathways – “Boat Of Confidence” (RiYL Records)

You could do far worse than a casual stroll along Brooklyn’s Pathways. The foundations for “Boat Of Confidence”, their debut LP, were laid earlier this semester with the blistering pop of their classic debut 45, “Productivity”.

The Pathway’s Anglophile influences are prominently displayed on their sleeves: Postcard Records, Orange Juice, Josef K – but it’s their instrumental similarities to younger sons of bonny Scotland, Mogwai (no, really, bear with me here), that really sets them apart. You see there’s a progressive element to The Pathways that simply cannot be filed under ‘pure pop punditry’. Try & imagine Tortoise (debut LP era) if they only played Pavement covers. Yeah? Then dress it in Death Cab For Cutie style melody. You should be just about there now.

“Start acting like it’s going to happen”, goes the chorus to stand out cut, “Party’s Over”, & who could argue with such a positive maxim. The Pathways couldn’t exist if they didn’t believe in themselves, could they? Lyrically dextrous, instrumentally colourful, rhythmically inventive, structurally challenging, sonically gratifying – yet still a collection of 13 x 3 minute pop songs. The best Pathways are always well trodden. You here me? Get walking.

Guy Debored – tMx 21 – 09/05

The Cravats – “Séance” (Demo)

Seminal art-jazz-punkers - & kings of the Redditch Sound – The Cravats are amongst us once again. The Shend, Robin Dallaway & Svoor Naan have been tinkering about in the DADA CRAVATS LABOROTARY with Paul Hartnoll of Orbital - & together they have created “Séance” - & what a little belter it is too!

Sounding not unlike Pere Ubu attempting to contact Ian Curtis live onstage in the theatre of the absurd, “Séance” is a mighty big monster of a record. “Is there anybody there?” demands The Shend. This is up there with Leftfield & Lydon as one of the dance/jazz/punk crossover workouts.

Marquee Smith – tMx 21 – 09/05

David Knowles – “Home” (Stovetop Records)

We rarely receive musical submissions as uniquely & lovingly presented as this these days. This cassette (I know, I’d forgotten how they worked too) EP arrived housed in it’s own screen-printed envelope containing hand written lyrics, a local bus timetable & several recipes for lentil based dishes (OK, so I made up the bit about bus time tables & recipes).

“Home” – a collection of 4 songs bound together by ideas of home - houses 4 x impossibly beautiful vignettes. Life’s dark, mottled underbelly. Suspension. Fragility. Hushed tones. Loudly whispered. Spectral vocals wrapped in a duvet of acoustic guitar with only the piano lamp left on in the corner of the room for comfort. The fidelity emphasis errs towards the lo end, not surprisingly, but this only seems to enhance the ‘art’ quotient of this beguiling artefact. For people who love songs about houses & cities & rivers & beaches:

“I love living in Portland & the northwest & I want to be able to write songs like my home looks” – David Knowles.

“Home” arrived accompanied by a ‘promotional item’ – another hand-wrapped cassette – featuring 4 x further excursions of a far more unorthodox nature. These soundscapes reflect the environment they were created in – as David himself attests:

“This is what surrounds us - & that is what music is about”.

Jean Encoule – tMx 21 – 09/05

The Scaramanga Six – “Cabin Fever” (Wrath)

This is one fucking good looking CD. The artwork can only be described as ‘groundbreaking’. You know? Like a Kango? The words “Cabin Fever” appear scrawled in white across a blood red splattered (silk-screened?) jewel case. The attention to detail is impressive.

The same can be said about The Scaramanga Six’s music. This is incredibly powerful stuff: dark, sardonic & quite possibly sarcastic too. “Cabin Fever” is their 3rd long player – this time produced by The Cardiacs’ Tim Smith - & includes previous 45s “We Rode The Storm”, “Horrible Face” & “The Poison”.

The Scaramanga Six have turned it on for “Cabin Fever”. Every knob in the house has been super-glued onto 11. Every fader is jammed open with pencils & chewing gum. The engineer had his children kidnapped during the recording sessions & they were only returned to him once the desired levels of intensity had been effectively stitched into the sound.

I’ve been playing this a lot these last few weeks & am really falling for it in a big way. My favourite track on the LP (as I type – I reserve the right to change my mind on an hourly basis, obviously) is “Electricity Bill” – check the “twat” after the second false start. Priceless.

The Scaramanga Six have talent, taste & humour in spades – all they need now is your patronage.

Marquee Smith – tMx 21 – 09/05

Luxembourg – “L v GB” – (Shifty Download Only)

Luxembourg are one of the best new groups in the UK – which is why I’m slightly disappointed (& confused) that this – only their second single – is available only as a download virtual 45. Not that I’m having a pop, mind - Shifty Disco are a reputable independent - & “L v GB” is another grubby pop gem dressed in thrift store chic – I’d just much rather have had another piece of vinyl to go with the other one.

That said - “L v GB” is another octave wavering quaver of a tune. Expanding on the minor glory of “Let Us Have It” with ease, Luxembourg are keeping the pressure piled firmly on pop’s young pretenders with another slice of genuine quality. Streets ahead.

Evan Halshaw – tMx 21 – 09/05

The Envelopes – “Sister In Love” (Brille)

Scando-folk? Is that a wise way to describe anyone? Especially if your trying to sell them to an unsuspecting public?

Thankfully The Envelopes are trying far harder than the press bloke from Hall Or Nothing. “Sister In Love” throws the Violent Femmes up against the wall & slaps them around a bit with a freshly caught Rainbow Trout.

Things get really amusing when – firstly - one of the blokes from Test Icicles (Who? Come on – of course we’ve heard of them – he’s called Sam E - & his group are shit) gets all analogue with his retro-future cross-faders & then major label Devo clones, Clor, get Mike Oldfield’s “Tubular Bells” out. Farcical.

Seven out of ten for the a-side – nought out of ten for the remixes. What time do you think it is? 1987?

Mike Twat – tMx 21 – 09/05

The Empty Vessels – “If It Came Down To It” (Demo)

This - the second string of demos from The Empty Vessels - is a far more measured set than their previous collection. Development has obviously been taking place in both their rehearsal rooms & their recording studios – for which they should be rightly applauded. “If It Came Down To It” flirts with melody at the same time as scratching around in the dirt for a living - like Pete Doherty fronting the Pop Group. “Reassurance” sounds like a bloke looking for his lost dog - eventually going barking mad himself in the process. “You Know” is quite possibly the best tune here.

This is still fractal at best, however, & to be honest there isn’t really enough here to hang a hook on - yet alone a hat. The Empty Vessels want to be art – but even artists need songs.

Mike Twat – tMx 21 – 09/05

This Et All – “You’ve Driven For Miles” (Double Dragon)

Leeds (collectively) probably wish the NME hadn’t featured them quite so forcefully just the other week: the trouble with hype? You have to live up to it. This Et All fail miserably in this department. Despite being associated with Dance To The Radio & having all the right mates, they sound like a watered-down pastiche of At The Drive In – without the tunes. Maybe it’s because I’m not a Londoner – I’m from Ryhl, by the way – but I just don’t care about this week’s culturally relevant regional hotspot.

Evan Halshaw – tMx 21 – 09/05

BabyShambles – “Fuck Forever” (Rough Trade)

It’s all going tits up for Pete Doherty:

A) Sanctuary Records, owners of Rough Trade, are seconds away from financial meltdown - £180,000 in the hole at the last count – smarting from investigation from ‘the powers that be’ regarding ‘irregularities’ with their German bank loan. The good old days of The Strokes & a resurgent Rough Trade are a long way behind them now.

B) BabyShambles were widely regarded as the worst group on the festival circuit this summer.

On top of all that - his tabloid romance with Kate Moss has fatally wounded his outsider rock chic to the point where he’s in danger of becoming a parody of himself before he’s even finished his debut (solo?) BabyShambles LP.

“Fuck Forever” was originally a Jamie Reid Sex Pistol’s poster design - & it’s fundamentally redundant that Doherty thought that no one would notice it’s appropriation – regardless of whether the title was pastiche or homage.

As for the song – it’s very hard to get away from the ‘shock tactics’ of it’s title (a ruse highlighted by the song’s ‘they’ll never play me on the radio’ refrain – Stiff Little Fingers did that first with “You Can’t Say Crap On The Radio”, fact fans) – but musically it’s Doherty’s most successful marriage of The Smiths & The Clash yet – a sure sign that his eyes are firmly on the overground prize & that the underground can surely go fuck itself.

Some wags have pointed out that it should have been called “Fuck Waiting About Forever Just To See BabyShambles Fail To Turn Up (Again)” – but I wouldn’t know anything about that, guv.

Mike Twat – tMx 21 – 09/05

Editors – “The Black Room” (Kitchenware)

Birmingham’s Editors probably spent as long looking through their parent’s 80s record collections for influences as they did thinking of their appalling name (about 5 minutes). “Lights” is Echo & The Bunnymen, “Munich” is A Flock Of Seagulls, “Blood” is Joy Division, “Fall” is Magazine, “All Sparks” is Joy Division (again), “Camera” is Simple Minds, “Fingers In The Factories” is Living In A Box, “Bullets” is U2, “Someone Says” is Joy Division (again), “Open Your Arms” is Joy Division (again) & “Distance” is Blancmange.

Tonight, Matthew, I’m going to be Editors.

Harrison Bored – tMx 21 – 09/05

Los Raw Gospels – “El Fantasma” (Dull City)

Norway’s Dull City Records – the label that brought you The Coyotemen, The Bad Preachers, The Sternosnake, Sloggy, The Mutants, Lo-Lite & Jolly Jumpers – now bring you Los Raw Gospels! Hurrah! Constructed from various members of Black Time & Blood Safari, Los Raw Gospels deal low-slung, dirty-assed rock’n’roll directly from the hip. Los Raw Gospels take out the trash – make no mistake. Their twin-guitar slinging frenzy is admirably held down & slapped about a bit by drummer Fiery Jack – leaving Jay Deluxe free to scream - & Tony Mortis free to shout.

Los Raw Gospels – coming to a street corner near you - anytime now. Marquee Smith – tMx 21 – 09/05

Various Artists – “Fruit Machine” (Blang)

Subtitled, “26 Seeds From The London Underground”, “Fruit Machine” is an eclectic collective of London based artists – many of them associated to The 12 Bar Club in Denmark Street. Compiled by Joe Murphy – aka Sergeant Buzfuz – “Fruit Machine” brilliantly showcases the alt.cream of our capital’s raw talent mountain.

The quality threshold throughout is unusually high for a project of this type. The sheer variety of alt.genres included perfectly reflects the vast breadth of influences vying for the attention of your average noughties musician (not that I’m implying any artist present on “Fruit Machine” is average, you understand?).

The Broken Family Band, Chris TT, Sergeant Buzfuz & The Dirty Pins (awesome) may well be familiar to some – all have been busily picking up work & plaudits over the last 12 months - & all are well represented individually here on “Fruit Machine”. Milk Kan, Lou Psyche & Jet Suzette, Timothy Victor, The Adams, & The Teanbeat (who’s “Urina” could quite possibly be my favourite moment on the record) won’t be far behind them.

At the end of the day, “Fruit Machine” is a challenging & rewarding collection done for love not lucre. We all know how admirable that is - & we all know how much these people need your support.

The Katestar – tMx 21 – 09/05

Zombina & The Skeletons – “Staci Stasis” (Ectoplastic)

These instantly loveable Scouse bone rattlers return with their most accessible release to date. “Staci Stasis” is classy pop, energetically delivered, barbed with an irresistible bubblegum hook. Zombina & The Skeletons deserve their place in your closet.

“Astroboy” ain’t no slouch either – an altogether tougher swagger along the same thoroughfare, admittedly – but no less convincing, none the less. “Red Planet” is the bonus nugget - & what a garage-tastic taster it is too. Zombina & The Skeletons blend a 60s garage sensibility to a 50s b-movie perspective & immerge with a sound all of their own.

Mike Twat – tMx 21 – 09/05

The Delights – “Society” (Philosophy)

The Delights claim to ‘cut across post rock pretentiousness with a sincerity & urgency that is totally refreshing’ is lost on me. “I like you, you like me. Let’s form a society.” Yeah, you can almost here the barricades crashing down from here, can’t you?

Marquee Smith – tMx 21 – 09/09

Ciccone – “My Summer Never Comes” (Human)

London based Ciccone (chick-oh-knee) are mates with Art Brut – fact fans – so much so that they both recorded their first demos in the same flat! Allegedly blended from a professed shared love for Blondie, VU & Television, Ciccone sound nothing like their ‘influences’. “My Summer Never Comes” is ordinary beyond belief - & one can only speculate as to why such luminaries as Steve Lurpack & the late John Peel showed any interest whatsoever. Maybe it should have been called “My Chorus Never Comes” – or am I just being nasty now?

The Katestar – tMx 21 – 09/05

The Knockouts – “System One” (Hightown)

The Knockouts rose from the crash that killed Luton underground stalwarts, Thrilled Skinny, sometime back in the early 90s. “System One” is their fourth LP in 10 years - & what a joy it is to behold. Peddling fare best described as ‘instrumental punk, surf & roll’, The Knockouts are a valiantly sturdy combo & “System One” is a remarkably entertaining vehicle. Primed to burst. The Knockouts can make stars appear in front of your eyes. Marquee Smith – tMx 21 – 09/05

Los Tromos – “Boooo” (RunDevilRun Records) Rakias – “Street Parade” (RunDevilRun Records)

The first two releases from fledgling Greek label Run Devil Run Records hit the Bunker just last week. Brilliantly packaged in gatefold super-thick card sleeves, with inner picture bags – both releases are fantastic looking items - & UK/US labels could pick up some important style tips here.

Los Tromos – a 4-man band of brothers - drop 11 cuts of punk fuelled guitar pop informed by the Ramones, 70s NY Punk, 50s horror movies, Pixies, Sonic Youth & Rocky Erickson.

Rakias – a 1-man army – leaves Kathodos (his previous group of 3 x LPs) to deliver this - his first solo LP. Acoustic punk, sung in Greek – The Violent Femmes meet The Clash.

Louis XIV – “The Best Little Secrets Are Kept” (Atlantic)

In April 2003 San Diego’s Louis XIV crawled from the wreckage of Convoy (bostin’ name, boys – how come you never made it? – Monikers Ed) – shook themselves down/ ruffled the feathers of their boas/applied the Max Factor - & turned into the world’s ‘sexiest’ New-Glam combination (in their own minds).

Jason & Brian – the songwriter/guitarist duo who front Louis XIV – apparently don’t have too much trouble ‘getting laid’ – a fact that comes over loud & clear on their debut LP for Atlantic Records (we know you really wanted to put it out on Steve “West Bromwich” Albini’s latest imprint - pity it didn’t work out – Independence Ed): “The Best Little Secrets Are Kept”.

Louis XIV would like you to think they are glamorous – after all - they’ve been listening to enough T-Rex, Gary Glitter & Slade. They’ve copped the Mick Ronson feather cut – they’ve matched Bowie’s level of eyeliner abuse – all they need to do now is write a song as good as “Metal Guru” & they’re there.

“The Best Little Secrets Are Kept” opens with the sound of a string quartet stretching their bows (never trust this approach – Intros Ed) - before slouching into their opening statement of intent - “Louis XIV”:

“Me, me, me - is all I really wanna talk about”

Fuck me, Jason/Brian. What a fucking surprise. The drums stomp, the guitars preen - & 30 years of musical progression falls twenty flights down the stairwell.

“Finding Out True Love Is Blind” starts off trying to be Stoogesque - but turns into Mercury Rev before you can say: ‘there are too many instruments in the mix’. “Paper Doll”, too, would give it’s middle eight for Iggy’s torso – but ends up working out with Jane’s Addiction down the local gym instead - & we all know it’s a thin line between love & stupidity. By the time we reach “A Letter To Dominique” – things have gotten so convoluted - & Jason & Brian have gotten so frustrated – that they resort to lifting “Metal Guru” wholesale. Actually, let’s clear that piece of fuzzy logic up some: what they actually do is fucking steal the chord structure, the sound, the string arrangements, the vocal inflections - & the FUCKIN tune. This is nothing short of parody - Louis XIV – you are a tribute group - & I claim my $10. The fake British accents on the farcical “Illegal Tender” have to be the most pretentious vocals committed to tape since Freddie Mercury popped his sling-backs. The further use of Marc Bolan’s property on “Hey Teacher” should alert Rolan’s lawyers – sort these clowns out, boys.

“The Best Little Secrets Are Kept” rolls down the hill quicker than a 7.5 ton lorry with a faulty air-break. Louis XIV are possibly the most contrived bunch of secret Beatles fans that ever secretly wanted to be Rolling Stones. Cometh the desperation – cometh the men.
Guy Debored – tMx 21 – 08/05
Contact: - Punk Rock …and Roll