Sunday, 18 May 2014

PORTISHEAD REMIXES & GONGA


So no one who comes to this blog should be surprised by my eclectic taste in music however as you know I do tend to try and blog the rare,obscure and original but there are a few "popular" bands that I really do like a lot and I have taken some stick from people for this, for example, I'm a huge fan of Radiohead, Gorillaz and Portishead to name but a few and when I do take stick from people my answer is always the same and that is that sometimes bands are hugely popular not because of current trends or because Radio 1 or whoever says these are the bands you should like but because they are simply REALLY fucking good! All 3 bands i mention in my opinion fall into that category.

I was introduced to Portishead by a friend around the time of their stellar Mercury Music Prize winning and double platinum selling album "Dummy" when i first heard the album i really didn't know what to make of it the "Trip Hop" genre was in it's infancy and there really was little to compare it to but upon repeated listens it just really got me and I've been a huge fan ever since and would definitely place "Dummy" highly in my all time top list of favorite albums. However not only are these guys great but they are probably the least prolific band in history having issued just 3 studio albums and a live album in their 20 years to date as a band the last album being some 6 years ago now! There are countless EP's which mainly contain variations of album tracks but apart from the official albums you would be lucky to find maybe 3 songs on these numerous EP's that are not on the albums. So as far as these guys are concerned there really is not a lot of their music to listen to, so whilst doing some research on Portishead at my most beloved of holy temples online discogs.com just to be 100% sure there was no more music to be had by this band other than what I owned I came across this release (see picture at top) it was listed under the "unofficial" releases category but the cover looked so professional and if you know the cover of "Dummy" you will understand why it caught my eye! So i had a look and it turned out to be, from what my research tells me, a complete collection of their remixes to date. However being an unofficial collection it was not available for purchase nor available to download anywhere but being the complete trainspotter that i am I have managed to assemble this 20 track collection track by track and even managed to find a bonus alternative remix version they have done giving you 21 tracks in all! This has all been meticulously tagged and ordered to match the information on the release page where I found it (see the full in depth details HERE) so if you decide to download this then it will appear under album artist Portishead and all the tracks will have the individual artists as "contributing" artists so there's no worries about having 21 tracks by 20 artists all over your chosen media player!!

Now it has to be said the remix is a bit of a minefield it's also a damn convenient cop out for a lot of artists that just can't be arsed to actually give you some original work and just enlist some name to rework one of their tracks and to be honest it's a culture that has been done to death and is ultimately in the main part boring but occasionally there are remix artists of such high caliber that treat the act of remixing seriously and whilst utilizing elements of a track leave their stamp on it so much that in some cases it may as well be one of their own tracks ( Justin Broadrick is another master of this kind of remix and most definitely falls into that category see my post on his collected remix works HERE ) and the majority of these remixes on this collection firmly carry the sound of Portishead.

It is quite a collection as well featuring big hitting artists such as Paul Weller, Depeche Mode, Massive Attack and Gabrielle!!! Yeah THAT Gabrielle I know, I know bet you never expected to see that name on my page but stay with me here! To bands so obscure that you wonder how they ever managed to get remixed by Portishead!! Baby Namboos? Machine Gun Fellatio?? But it also features some of their very earliest work for the Mo Wax label which I think predates even "Dummy" I'm not gonna gonna go into a big description on each remix here they are varied and different and above all interesting and the variety of artists here is quite, well, not eclectic really but definitely unusual and a set of artists you're unlikely to see compiled together anywhere else. All I'll say about this collection is if like me you find Portishead's sparse and brilliant beats, atmosphere and film noir-esque music as irresistible as i do and like me you have done their 3 albums to death then you will absolutely love this double CD collection. I also wanted to put this up here because anyone else who may come across this, what is effectively a "bootleg" the same way as I did will not have to spend hours sourcing each track individually cos I have already done it! And beleive me this collection is NOT available anywhere else on the net at least not presented in it's entiritey like this. Enjoy

Portishead Remix CollectionMediafire

So..... going to the absolute opposite end of the musical scale (see what i did there ) I was on my facebook page the other week there and right at the top of my newsfeed was a youtube video from cult nation with the heading "SICKEST Black Sabbath cover you will ever hear" was I intrigued?? You have to ask???!!! This was Gonga Featuring Beth Gibbons : "Black Sabbeth" (Now you see what THEY did there?) my favorite song? by my favorite band? sung by Beth Gibbons? (Portishead's astounding vocalist in case you didn't know or wondered what relation this part of the post has to the first) so after i stopped shaking and twitching I hit play...... But before we get to that after hitting play I did some research turns out Gonga are a stoner rock band from Bristol and having some 3 albums behind them and are known for having previously featured vocalist Joe Volk who is now a renowned solo artist he left after their 1st 2 albums and they are now an instrumental band. For this years record store day they record a stunning and faithful rendition of "Black Sabbath" by Black Sabbath and enlisted the services of Beth Gibbons to sing it (Portishead if you didn't know are named for their hometown Portishead a satellite town of Bristol so Bristol stoner band/Bristol based female vocalist makes sense?) and released it as a lushly packaged highly limited 12" single backed by "Calumet Altar" from their recent album "Concresence" So seeing as this post is about Portishead remixes and poor Beth Gibbons barely gets a look and as she is one of the best contemporary female vocalists on the planet and because i don't have a record player and so I therefore HATE "record store day only" releases and mostly because it's BLACK FUCKING SABBATH!!! sung by Beth Gibbons I figured this would be a neat little addition to this post! so here you go Gonga's "Black Sabbeth" 12" feat Beth Gibbons an absolute fucking stroke of genius and believe me it is REALLY good!!! Oh and take a look at the foldout lush packaging (Fucking Record store day BAHHHH!!!)


Gonga : "Black Sabbeth" 12"Mediafire

Saturday, 17 May 2014

WINO FUCKING INSANITY (UPDATED 4TH TIME AND FINAL VERSION)

                      

*UPDATE* - So... I finally got round to moving all the links here from zippyshare to mediafire as I got sick of the links expiring and even though I considered deleting the post altogether all messing round with the links over the 3 or 4 times I've updated this post was so time consuming and because I love his work I decided Wino deserved a permanent home here! I have removed the Shrinebuilder stuff and will NOT be re-upping it so don't ask as it's on Neurot Recordings and those guys are fucking Jedi's at finding links to their releases and will shut you down quick as fuck (There's a small hint as to who killed my 4shared account!!!) I have added some new stuff (Place Of Skulls and Mystick Crewe Of Clearlight) and edited the blurb so here you go for the 4th and final version a near as damn it discography of Scott "Wino" Weinrich Read On and Enjoy

I am a huge fan Of Saint Vitus and mainly because I am an absolute sucker for the voice and music of the legend that is Scott "Wino" Weinrich (pictured above), This man is to me the Lemmy Kilmister of the underground and his influence is no less important! There are now 4 things that will survive nuclear war Cockroaches, Twinkies, Lemmy and WINO!!!!

Having been making fucking awesome music with many GREAT bands over the years going back as far as the late 70's which gives him a staggering near 35 year career playing some of the mightiest metal to ever grace this earth! Having played in LEGENDARY bands such as The Obsessed, Saint Vitus, Spirit Caravan, The Hidden Hand and more recently a solo album, Premonition 13 and as 1/4 of Doom supergroup Shrinebuilder with Scott Kelly of Neurosis, Al Cicernos of OM/Sleep & Dale Crover of Melvins, The mans musical CV is just untouchable! So I figured a retrospective of his work was long overdue on here!

So what you're getting  here is near as damn it if not complete Discographies of....

The Obsessed
The Hidden Hand
Spirit Caravan

Plus some other choice Wino bands such as the Premonition 13 album his solo album, Place Of Skulls & A Guest Appearance with The Mystick Krewe Of Clearlight !

There is TOO much stuff to go into BIG individual descriptions on every band he has been in, if you know Wino then fill your boots if you don't know Wino then i suggest you start with the  recent post I did on Saint Vitus (HERE) and continue from there So lets get started....

The Obsessed : Wino's first band and where Saint Vitus nicked him from Formed in Maryland USA they released a stunning debut 7" in 1983 that is long out of print broke up when Wino jumped ship to Saint Vitus then reformed The Obsessed when he quit Vitus with a new line up in 1990 they then broke up again 1994 after a fairly disastrous spell with a major label. Compilation album "Incarnate" contains the mentioned 7" plus a bunch of rare and unreleased tracks spanning their career NOTE I have changed the running order of "Incarnate" to make it chronological ok? Also here are their 4 albums go get em (for a more detailed look at their discography and a band history go HERE )

Incarnate Comp - Mediafire

The Obsessed (1990) - Mediafire

Lunar Womb (1991) - Mediafire

The Church Within (1994) - Mediafire

Spirit Caravan : So never one to stand still here's Wino's next band, taking their name from an Obsessed song which the also re-recorded on Sp[irit Caravan's 2nd album "Elusive Truth" this pretty much takes over where The Obsessed left off, heavy, groovy, stoner, fronted and written by the guy who helped invent the genre what more is there to say? First album "Jug Fulla Sun" is a personal favorite every song is a killer however all the stuff they released is pretty great but i find 2nd album "Elusive Truth" to be a little slick compared to "Jug..."! You have both albums here as well as the rare "So Mortal Be" 7" the "Dreamwheel" 10"/CDEP and also the 8 alternate versions/demos unreleased tracks from their double compilation/retrospective CD "The Last Embrace" thats all the Spirit Caravan There Is... (If you want to know more about their discography/members etc go HERE )

Jug Fulla Sun - Mediafire

Dreamwheel EP - Mediafire

Elusive Truth - Mediafire

So Mortal Be 7" - Mediafire

The Last Embrace - Mediafire

The Hidden Hand : Wino's band from 2004 - 2007 and probably the heaviest band he's done they released 3 albums and a couple of EP's and were an utter juggernaut of a band, there's no "better" or "best" for me out of the bands Wino's been in but i do love all of the Hidden Hand stuff maybe a bit more contemporary and less retro than previous projects and heavy as shit this is another Wino triumph! (Go HERE for more info on the band and releases)

Divine Propaganda (2004) - Mediafire

Mother Teacher Destroyer (2004) - Mediafire

Split EP W/ Wooly Mammoth (2004)  - Mediafire

Devoid Of Color EP (2005) - Mediafire

The Resurrection of Whiskey Foote (2007) - Mediafire

So that's the discographies out the way here's the (so far) one offs and his most recent work

Mystick Crewe Of Clearlight - A bit of an unknown band having only released one album and one split CD with Acid King on Mans Ruin records bopth in 2000 it was rumored that Wino was actually in this band he was in fact not. these two tracks from the Split EP with Acid King are great groovy stoner with some brilliant organ work and Wino guests on the first of 2 songs here "Buzzard Hill (My Backyard)" I've given you both songs here as even though Wino only sings on one they are both great! and i strongly recommend if you like these to seek out their great self titled album even if it doesn't have Wino on it!

Place Of Skulls In the short period between Spirit Caravan Breaking up and the formation Of The Hidden Hand in 2003 Wino provided guitar,vocals and wrote some music in  Place Of Skulls the band of one Victor Griffin (ex - Pentagram) I have no idea why his tenure with Place Of Skulls only lasted for one album 2003's "With Vision" perhaps there wasn't room for two stoner kings in one band I don't know but if you are a fan of the work of either Wino or Pentagram you will most definitely like this album a LOT again this is great stoner rock of the highest quality!

WINO - Punctuated Equilibrium his debut solo album and not a million miles away from everything he's ever done, it's Wino it does what it says on the tin i.e. retro stoner of the highest quality this is the full version with the 4 track bonus EP not just the 10 track CD version! both the album and bonus EP are 320KBPS but the bonus EP appears to be a vinyl rip and very quiet the quality is good tho you just need to turn up the volume!

Premonition 13 I know nothing about this band except that it would appear to be/have been Wino's latest band before he rejoined Saint Vitus this album "13" is from 2011 and is their only album so far you get more high quality Wino stoner but more akin to the heavier Hidden Hand stuff than say the more retro 70's vibe of Spirit Caravan.

Mystick Crewe Of Clearlight tracks from Split CD W/ Acid King - Mediafire

Place Of Skulls - "With Vision" - Mediafire

Wino solo album - Mediafire

Premonition 13 - Mediafire

SO That's your lot I'm sorry for the lack of my usual intensive blurbs but seeing as how I've uploaded you 17 albums of sheer WINO goodness here I hope you will forgive my sparse descriptions I am hoping that readers of this blog would be familiar with the man and his work but if not well here it is in all it's glory a near as damn it complete history of the Music of Scott "Wino" Weinrich a more impeccable back catalogue you'll be hard pressed to find 20 albums of all killer no filler no frills no bullshit BALLS OUT FUCKING ROCK.
That is all! The files range from 192KBPS lowest to 320KBPS CD rips from my own CD's but it's all good quality otherwise i would've omitted it from the post. Enjoy!


Friday, 16 May 2014

Henge Demo


 


Henge are a band from London who i knew nothing about till recently I received a message about an upcoming local (Liverpool) gig featuring Portuguese heavy psych band Black Bombaim who I strongly recommend you check out, Local stoner/psych masters Mind Mountain (who I hope to do a post on soon) but the opening band was called Henge who as i said were unknown to me, so I checked out their bandcamp page and they had a 4 track demo available to download free so I downloaded it and I was shocked by how utterly GREAT this band were....

I have listened to this Henge demo MANY times since downloading it's been one of my favorite listens since i got it but I find it hard to categorize them as to my mind they have a pretty damn original sound they are sorta slow to mid paced with a really dirty fuzzy guitar sound and a nice deep clean bass (switching to distorted in the right places) providing a great bottom end and whilst these traits would seem to be fairly common the riffs and song structures are most definitely not! what I also like about this band is that their singer has a unique vocal style which reeks of tortured anguish and  "don't give a fuck" but not in the punk/metal/thrash sense of screaming and shouting about it you can easily understand what he is singing about! And the combination of all these elements is a truly great one!

This band have a proper despairing feel to them the songs feel like they are coming from a sense of anguish and desperation but instead of being intense and uptight about it it feels more like these guys have resigned themselves to their fates and have decided to form a band to play songs about it! I don't know why but whenever I listen to Henge i get images of road movies and obscure biker films in my head! I doubt that was their intention but I could well see these guys sound tracking some low budget violent movie of that type!

I'm not doing a good job of describing this band here i just read back what I've wrote so far and i have decided i have no idea how to give you a firm idea exactly what they sound like I have been listening to them whilst I have been typing this out and I'm still not able to nail it and i think that's a good thing bands make it too easy these days to simply pigeonhole them because most bands are pilfering stuff from elsewhere so you can easily say they are this, that, whatever type of music and there's not enough bands around these days that defy easy categorization but Henge are most definitely one of them! So what I will say is if you like your music dirty, despairing, fuzzed out and with just the right amount of "heavy" I would most definitely say these guys are for you!

You can download their demo free from their bandcamp page HERE however there are 4 tracks and you have to download them separately so i decided to package them them up together for you and upload them to mediafire for your convenience and so you have no apathetic excuse to go "Ugh you have to download the 4 songs separately I can't be arsed" but do still check out their page. They are also on facebook HERE where you can get all the up to date info on what they are doing.

I'm so glad i discovered this band as I had no idea they existed till i heard about the upcoming gig and it was mere curiosity and wanting to know some of their songs before i see them that made me do so because I really like this demo a lot and have played it to death and I am also stoked that now i know ALL of the 3 bands on the bill are great making it a potentially brilliant night. Do yourself a favor give your ears a treat to the Henge demo.ENJOY!



Henge DemoMediafire


BURNING FLAG - UPDATE


So if any of you saw my previous post on Burning Flag you will know that I'm a fan (If not you can read it HERE ) They were kind enough to give me an exclusive on their as yet released debut CDEP it was on here for 6 weeks free of charge before it was available anywhere else.

The CDEP is now available to buy for a mere £2.50 (including postage in the UK) and after they gave it to you readers free of charge and in advance I think if you liked it you can damn well dig in your pockets and go buy the CD I mean SHIT what's £2.50 the cost of your morning coffee on the way to work? a a 1/4 of the price of 20 cigs? less than the cost of a pint? Why not have one less pint/coffee/smoke and buy this EP which will be your's to keep forever? It's a gift to yourself that keeps on giving! Below is a link to the shop section of their site, you can also buy one of there awesome T-shirts in all sizes from girlie to XL for a very reasonable price too. I bought a CD and A shirt myself!


(Dave gives a max 2 thumbs up score for BF merch!!)

These guys are a great band and everyone i know who has now heard them now like them VERY much this band are destined for big things you will be kicking yourself when they are popular and the CDEP starts turning up on ebay for exorbitant prices! (Actually maybe i'll buy two or three hmmmm!!!)

Buy the CD & Shirts Here -


Go Like em on facebook as well they are doing plenty gigs and fests over the next few months including Scumfest in London so if you wanna get the latest news and check em out live do so here -




Friday, 9 May 2014

BLACK FLAG



Well this post was supposed to go up along with th Black Sabbath one in Febuary celebrating my 1st year of blogging however i have tried to write Black Flag up so many times and it's so hard for me not to go into epic rambling when there is so much to tell I've tried my best not to ramble and give you the best of basic information about this might band but every time i returned to the post it was exhausting me! But here it is a mere 4 months late.......

So as many of you who have followed this blog from it's humble beginnings will know that I kicked off this blog 1 year ago as of 13th of Feb (2.13.13) by uploading the first 40 releases on SST records this unfortunately became a bit of a killer for me as no matter how much SST stuff I posted up there were always requests for more.However after 4shared killed my account off all the SST stuff was lost along with many hours of my write ups! However some of you may have noticed that a bit of SST stuff has been creeping back in recently (BLA'ST!, Saint Vitus, Good For You) This is because I found it a bit lacking on my behalf that I was into so much SST stuff but i owned a very small percentage of it (That is on CD as I owned a shitload on vinyl but sold it all when my record player broke) with the availability of downloads i had previously seen little need to replace my vinyls with CD however I was inspired by one key event.. it was my 42nd birthday on Dec 8th last year and my lovely girlfriend asked me what I would like for my birthday and i said that it was shameful that i didn't have the whole Black Flag discography on CD only maybe 4 or 5 and she generously filled in the gaps in my Black Flag CD collection as my present and the end result was this.....


Inspired by this I have recently completed CD collections of the SST works of BL'AST! Saint Vitus and Husker Du! (Minutemen is in my sights next) Anyway in celebration of the fact that I now own the complete works of Black Flag on CD and also (even if it is very late) to celebrate the fact this blog is now 1 year old i figured I would celebrate the first year of trials and tribulations by how i began the blog with SST and Black Flag!

So as you may have guessed with my saying I'd be doing two posts on my two favorite bands that this is the sister post to Black Sabbath (HERE) having done extensive posts on the works of this great band in the past i don't wish to repeat myself too much here however i have to do them justice so here goes I will try my best...

Let's break this down first up we have "The First Four Years" now whilst this is a compilation of singles and comp tracks I decided to break this down into it's various parts within the folder and have added the "TV Party" EP to it so inside the folder you will find everything separated into it's own folders for each release along with the relevant artwork as this is far to important a section of Black Flag's catalog to hand it over as a mere compilation. Henry Rollins said in his book "Get In The Van" that The First Four years comp is "The densest batch of jams outside of "Fun House" by The Stooges" and a more fitting description there isn't! So in it parts you have SST001 "Nervous Breakdown" EP starting out life as Panic shortly before the recording of this EP the band discovered there was another punk band called panic and decided to opt for the new moniker of Black Flag which they lifted from a popular american brand of roach killing spray the nihilistic connotations of this are obviously apparent?

So with a line up of Keith Morris on Vocals, Chuck Dukowski on Bass, Greg Ginn on Guitar and Robo on drums they recorded the "Nervous Breakdown" EP this was originally recorded in 1978 and slated for release on home of proto-hardcore and LA punk Posh Boy records however after much messing around Posh Boy declined to release it and Greg Ginn sold his ham radio business Solid State Tuners and the various patents that went with it to form SST records and release the EP himself! The original press of 500 copies was sold out of the boots of cars and shopped around to various record stores on sale or return basis! It would appear that due to the number of pressings and the variations of this record that they needn't have worried about having their unsold records returned!  In a mere 6 minutes this This EP tore up everything that anyone thought they knew about "punk" and can be solely credited with inventing the sound that would spawn the term "hardcore". From the gnarly thrashing guitars of Greg Ginn to Keith Morris's Snotty vocal style there's not an inch of room to spare on this EP from the opening chords to the end this EP just grabs you by the hair and drags you through the dirt of the backstreets and seedy dives of LA and leaves you behind a dumpster in some forgotten alley!

Next Up is the "Jealous Again" 12" why they chose to put this out as a 12" i don't know as it clocks in a mere 20 secs or so longer than "Nervous Breakdown" so it's 2 years since they began and already Keith Morris is gone and late 1979 is replaced by Ron Reyes on vocals,This 12" is still in the same raw basic hardcore style of "Nervous Breakdown" and has many of their most well known anthems on it aside from the title track there's "Revenge", "No Values" the controversial "White Minority" and of course the Chuck Dukowski sung "You Bet We've got Something Personal Against You" a serious dig at former vocalist Morris's appropriation of Black Flag songs and riffs for his then new band Circle Jerks. As well as some demos recorded and released on the "Everything Went Black" and of course the famous appearance in  Penelope Spheeris "The Decline Of Western Civilization" Documentary Reyes tenure in the band was short lived. So after 6 months of searching for a singer Black Flag finally asked SST office regular Dez Cadena to sing for the band and this to my mind is where Black Flag moved into the musical territory that made them the legend they are today. If you listen to the "Six Pack" and "Louie Louie" singles (tho the latters a-side run through the old cover band classic is nothing spectacular Dez's take on "Damaged I" on the b-side is just ferocious) and the 2 compilation tracks "Clocked In" from "Cracks In the Sidewalk" or "Machine" from "Chunks" and you will hear a way heavier more complex gnarly and all round menacing Black Flag setting the template for forthcoming album "Damaged"

Interlude.... So I have at this point been coming back and forward to this post for about 2 months now I have  been avoiding it due to the mammoth task this write up is and also because I have written up all this Black Flag stuff before but much as i respect Black Flag and the fact that they are my favorite band I think at this point I'm gonna have to call a halt to the "History Lesson" here. If you want to know more about the history of Black Flag I cannot recommend highly enough you read Steven Blush's book "American hardcore" which has a full and lengthy chapter on Black Flag with input from the majority of the band or Henry Rollins "Get In The Van" which chronicles the end of Dez's era as vocalist and the entire story of Black Flag from 1981 - 1986.also worth checking out because it's way easier and cheaper to get is James parker's "Turned On" a biography of Henry Rollins whilst unofficial and also written way after the fact by someone who wasn't "There" the majority of the book covers Henry's time in Black Flag and has some choice stories from some of the people on the periphery of the SST machine like Ratman and his brother who built the famous Black Flag speaker racks and people like Mugger and Davo who were essential parts of the Black Flag machine.As I'm beginning to realize that the amount of time and work i've put in here so far and I've only just covered "The First Four Years"

*UPDATE* You can read almost the entire "American Hardcore" Book online FREE including the comprehensive chapter on Black Flag and SST I mention above so you now have NO excuse to not have a read and get the inside story for yourself! I have tried to link you to the beginning of the Black Flag chapter, but the link below the picture below will take you to the middle of the Chapter just scroll up a bit and look for the title "BLACK FLAG & SST : THIRSTY & MISERABLE"



So If you have just read the above passage then on we go.....

So 1981 Henry Rollins is in on vocals and Dez Cadena is on rhythm guitar Having signed a deal with a local label/Studio Unicorn due to them having distribution by major label MCA Black Flag entered the Unicorn Studios to begin the sessions for the album that is still the template and the benchmark for ALL raging hardcore "Damaged" (MCA utterly hated the album and withdrew their distribution,one of their execs was famously quoted as saying "As a parent I found this to be an Anti-Parent record" Black Flags response to this to add the sticker pictured below to the album cover to obscure the MCA logo)



To my mind this is a damn near perfect hardcore record from the packaging to the songs,lyrics and sound this is a moment captured in time that can never be copied or equaled the Ed Colver photo on the cover of a shaven headed Rollins reflected in the shards of a fist shattered mirror whilst a strikingly powerful image could not have even begun to prepare people for the contents of this album, whilst i have to admit over the years i have grown to dislike opening track "Rise Above" due it's chanted choruses and, what comes across as a little corny in 2014 is the whole "we are tired of your abuse try to stop us it's no use"  compared to the rest of the album, with the exception of  TV party which is in a similar vein, whilst that song is quite a clever satire "Rise Above" is kinda like teenage rabble rousing type of stuff, however that being said and it being a purely personal opinion the opening cymbal and descending riff is just mind melting and the dynamic on display with Robo hitting the snare and hi hat for a full minute whilst Ginn rides that riff before unleashing the bass drum for the 1st verse is sheer musical annihilation where the weight of the entire sound can be felt crashing down upon your head! This album is definitely not an easy listen this is an album chock full of distorted dueling guitar, rumbling bass insanity and Rollins back when  he had something to prove to the fans and to his band and i have to say that Rollins sonic resemblance on this album to the vocals of Dez Cadena who preceded him is definitely apparent, this is a far more raw Henry Rollins in both experience and age than the vocal style he would later make his own on other albums this is especially noticeable on closing slow crawl "Damaged I" I once heard a quote about this song that said "Rollins screams himself hoarse until you literally feel the spit frying on the back of his throat" and i don't think i could sum up his performance here any better! For all the Rollins bashing there has been over Black Flag's career and how he "ruined the band" I don't think this album could have been any better than it is how it is and how it was captured even if say Dez had retained the vocal spot instead of moving to guitar.

So as many of you may or may not know Unicorn were a mess of rip-offs the story has been well documented elsewhere so Black Flag were thrown into 2 years of litigation and legal battles which nearly killed the band and SST records it was only Greg Ginn and the SST crews complete faith in their band and vision that saw them through this, Banned from releasing anything under the Name Black Flag due to still being under contract to Unicorn Black Flag released the Double compilation album "Everything Went Black" this contained a side each of pre- Rollins demos from each of the preceding 3 singers and is a blistering document of the early era of the band. It came packaged in Pettibon artwork with pseudonyms for the  members and no mention of Black Flag to be seen anywhere on it's cover in a vain attempt to keep money flowing for the court case but prevent the band getting into further legal strife however this once again landed them back in court and Greg Ginn in jail! During this time Black Flag had burned through drummer Emil and had recruited Chuck Biscuits of D.O.A. they then secretly recorded the much bootlegged "1982 demos" being the front runners and the benchmark for the US hardcore scene Ginn was extremely (And justifiably) paranoid about having his new material ripped off before Black Flag even had a chance to record it, to the point where all SST outsiders were banned from any Black Flag practices. These 1982 demos are the only place you will ever here any post "Damaged" material with the mighty Dez/Ginn 2 guitar line up whilst the quality of the bootlegs are nowhere near the standard of their recorded material this recording does set the template for the rest of Black Flag's musical career and contains songs that would eventually end up on albums as far ahead as "Slip it In" and "Loose Nut" to say that Ginn  had vision is an understatement! There are some blistering versions of the forthcoming material on here mainly drawn from what would become "My War" however there is a seriously painful crawl through "Nothing Left Inside/Scream" where Ginn and Dez go into solo meltdown it is in fact so insane i think I may have only made it through the whole 12 minutes of it once maybe twice! A CD version of these bootlegged demos entitled "No Deposit No Return" was released and had a 1984 Radio Tokyo session tacked on as bonus a live in the studio run through 3 tracks from "My War" and is pretty great quality and some blistering versions of the band at their peak! below you will find links to The "Everything Went Black" album (minus the radio commercials) the "1982 Demos" and the Radio Tokyo session.

So Moving on after 2 years of no recording and touring the "Damaged" set to the point of exhaustion (Ginn's paranoia about his new material being ripped off also extended to live shows so by this point they had been touring the same set for almost 3 years on their trademark extensive jaunts round the shithole backwaters of the US) Black Flag whilst financially almost ruined freed themselves from the court case with Unicorn and were finally free to record their new material some 2/3 years after writing it! "My War" with it's jazzy time signatures and full second side of sludge filled jams was a shock to fans, having not been given the opportunity to be introduced to this new material gradually through live shows etc it must have been a lot to take after the sheer scraped-raw-bludgeon of "Damaged" it is at this point Ginn's vision starts to skew because he made one hellish mistake at this point by maneuvering bass player extraordinaire Chuck Dukowski out of the band Ginn felt that Chuck's style was too "free" and basically wanted dull metronomic bass playing to back his ideas so he famously donned the "Dale Nixon" pseudonym and handled bass duties on "My War" himself. Although like many of Black Flags recordings "My War" suffers from quite flat production and coupled with the fact that the material was written for 2 guitars but recorded with one and Chuck being out you'd think this to be a terrible album but you couldn't be more wrong having enlisted the services of one Bill Stevenson on drums whilst Descendents were on hiatus this album just crackles with (for the time) fresh ideas and unique music you cannot fault any of the material on here you have 6 blistering tunes on what would have been side A on vinyl whilst the 3 smoldering slow jams on side B can be pretty much credited with inventing Sludge metal! My opinion is biased but there is not a bad song on this album tho the three slow jams are a mission for the uninitiated the rewards are there! just take one listen to the pummeling title track and you will be convinced!

Moving swiftly along as did the band... 1984 and this would see 3 albums being released "Family Man", "Live 84" and my personal favorite "Slip It In". "Family Man" was a bold move for a band whom until recently had been the front runners and flag bearers for the hardcore movement in the States, one side Of Henry Rollins recently developed Spoken word talents one side with 4 instrumentals and what would appear to be an improvised 9 minute all band track "Armageddon Man" I quite like this track however it's repetitive riffing and wild soloing whilst a great example of Ginn's free approach to guitar maybe a bit much for the die hard fans! The instrumentals are actually pretty great and really show the band flexing their chops especially Bill Stevenson who's drumming is just phenomenal here! Henry's spoken word is part claustrophobic dirty nasty and dark and part humorous have a listen to title track "Family Man" and then "Rattus Norvegicus" and you will see what I mean! Not something to listen to if you're not in the best of moods but I personally love it! "Live 84" which was originally a tape only release due to it being a full 75 mins of Black Flag live at what was supposedly their peak however much as it's a ripping run through some of their best material i always felt that this album was not the tightest most "on" live performance considering this is a band who practiced 8 - 12 hrs most days and are the only band to ever try to book rehearsal space on a Christmas day I would've expected a tighter performance but this is a warts and all no overdubs live no bullshit performance from The Stone San Francisco August 1984 and by far not the worst live album you will ever hear. So finally for 1984 at least we have "Slip It In" to me this IS Black Flag at their very best taking the sound of My War and giving it a far more sleazy edge everything on this album is razor sharp the rhythm section of Kira and Bill are locked together tight and Greg Ginn's riffs and guitar work in general are just on fire! Rollins has really found his groove here as well and his performance is just stellar from the sleazy spoken lines of the intro to the title track through blistering hardcore (albeit hardcore Black Flag style!) songs like "The Bars" and "Wound Up" to the slow crawl of "Rats Eyes" he is really in the pocket and it seems he has finally settled in to his role as front man for the biggest underground band in America at that time even though this was his 3rd album with the band. On a side not it is rumored that the regimen of rehearsal and live playing through 1984 left drummer Bill Stevenson with a sort of nervous tick when he went to his doctor about it he was asked if he had been around a lot of automatic gunfire! Yeah he's that good! There is not in my opinion a bad song on this album I defy anyone to not have there head nodding and their teeth gritting all the way!

1985- 1986 So into the final years for this band and we have no less than 5 releases to cover (tho one was recorded in 1985 and not released till 1989) ! Firstly we have album number 5 "Loose Nut" now regardless of the hardcore opinions on this band at this time Black Flag were still by far the biggest draw on the underground scene live in 1985 a ton of people were coming to see them and their music still continued to sell well and they even drew some celebrity attention (John Belushi for one was a fan) However "Loose Nut" was certainly a lot different than it's predecessor and it holds a special place for me as this was the first Black Flag I got to hear I was sold it by an older punk who assured me it would blow me away and was easily the equal of the thrashing British punk rock i was listening to at the tender age of 14 years old! So he took my money and sent me on my way sniggering behind my back as he had just got rid of what he thought was a bit of a turkey onto me and took my pocket money for the privilege!! So I got home put the needle to the record and title track "Loose Nut" EXPLODED out of my speakers it may not have been fast or strictly speaking "punk" either but this was a heavy groove the like of which i had never heard! It was nothing like anything else i listened to and i didn't at that time have any kind of reference points for it, all i knew was this band was effecting me in some way and i loved them! Best way i can describe this album is this is kinda what I'd loosely describe as Black Flag's "party" album!!! as far as accessibility goes i suppose this is as close as you are ever gonna get with these guys! there is a definite "rock" feel to this album albeit rock filtered through Black Flag's unique and skewed perception! However bear in mind that the most prized and most played music for the band at this time was early ZZ Top, Dio and Dio era Black Sabbath! This album is chock full of fat riffage and the guitar tone is gnarly and pretty heavy Take one listen to anthem "Annihilate This Week" and you will see what i mean, whilst it may have it's memorable and rocking tunes it's not without it's darker moments like "This Is Good" with it's skronky spiraling riff or "I'm The One" again laden with Ginn's trademark discordance but this album is definitely the one where Black Flag started to ROCK bear in mind also that some of the songs on this album and "Slip it In" had been written and recorded on the 1982 demos that pre-date "My War"! In the interim between "Loose Nut" and the next album Henry was doing some spoken word shows and Ginn decided to record an Instrumental EP this was "The Process Of Weeding Out" EP  it's said at this time Ginn  had become bitter and resentful of the adulation Rollins was receiving as the bands front man and had become obsessed with instrumental music and smoking BALES of pot (the clue is in the title of the record!) I find the 4 instrumentals here whilst again showcasing the bands immense talents as musicians are not as immediate as the instrumentals that made up part of the "Family Man" album and are in fact a little dare i say it... boring? Not a bad EP as such but definitely not the first one I would reach for when listening to these guys however it does have one of their best Pettibon covers and looks way better than it sounds......


 So next up we have 6th and final album "In My Head" this was an all new Black Flag album no songs from demo's or any leftovers and coming hot on the heels of "Loose Nut" you'd think maybe they were being too prolific? but if you have followed any part of Greg Ginn's career you will know this guy is simply a riff dispensary able to generate this stuff right off the cuff! Whilst this album still retains some of the rock sensibilities from "Loose Nut" it does suffer from what in my opinion is a slightly muffled production this does not detract from the quality of songs on display here and this album contains their one and only MTV video "hit" "Drinking And Driving" in which a bare chested long haired Rollins prowls round a junkyard! This album whilst having rocking moments here and there is maybe a little more minimal in sound than "Loose Nut" and is not an easy groove either the songs are peppered with Ginn's uncomfortable fretboard runs throughout, this an altogether more "cerebral" album than "Loose Nut" where the music aims for the head rather than the hips however the riff of title track "In My Head" whilst still has those fretboard runs has an utterly irresistible groove to it which if you're head isn't nodding immediately then you should check your hearing! The cassette and later CD versions of this album contained 3 bonus tracks "I Can See You" "Out Of This World" and "You Let Me Down" that did not appear on the vinyl these were augmented by a further unreleased track from the session "Kickin' And Stickin'" and released as the 4 track 12" "I Can See You" in 1989 long after the band broke up the reason for this being i guess to give the fans a chance to own these tracks on vinyl? however I have given you "In My Head" and " I Can See You" as separate links below even tho they were all recorded at the same session I lived with "In My Head" too long as a 9 track vinyl album and felt that it should be heard in it's correct and original running order and that these two records should be heard separately. So last release for 1985 was the Live "Who's got the 10 & 1/2" album recorded at the Starry Night In Portland Oregon August 85 the original vinyl only contained 9 songs (one of which was a lengthy medley of Slip it in/Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie so you could say 10 songs) however there was a subsequent 12" "Annihilate this Week" with a further 3 tracks from the set and the cassette and later CD versions contain 14 tracks which I'm guessing is the full set? This is a fairly tight run through mainly Loose Nut/In My Head material with a smattering of the hits as well however whilst it's a better quality set than Live 84 i feel the guitar is far too quiet and the drums too loud and being the only Flag release to feature drummer Anthony Martinez who is a good and capable drummer he is NO Bill Stevenson so to my mind it's a bit of an unessential live album really but worth having... but what is better is i managed to find a bootleg soundboard recording of Black Flag's very last show live in Detroit 28th June 1986 with the line up of Rollins/Ginn/Martinez and C'el Revuelta stepping into Kira's shoes on bass whilst 12 of the 15 tracks on this live recording are culled from Loose Nut and In My Head it's a good set whilst not classic Black Flag it certainly has in my opinion a better rawer sound than "Who's Got the 10 & !/2" and is worth having for the insane jam on "Swinging Man" (*NOTE* this is track 13 in the file it is mistakenly tagged in the file as "Nothing Left Inside" but I never got round to changing it sorry) However much as it's a great set and a piece of history it's still a band on their last legs half the band are new and the other 2 hated each other! It does end with the trademark closer from the early days "Louie,Louie" and a more fitting end to the story their couldn't be. Shortly after this Rollins received a phone call from Ginn  saying he was leaving the band which as it was his band was pretty much the end of Black Flag by this time Ginn had moved on to his instrumental power trio Gone (featuring the mighty rhythm section of Andrew Weiss and Sim Cain who Rollins would later enlist for his own Rollins Band poetic justice???) And that folks as they say is that..... Or is it????

Fast Forward to 2013 some 27 years since the last Black Flag show and some ex members of Black Flag decided that an appraisal of Black Flag's music was long overdue so enter FLAG [][][][] a band consisting of Keith Morris, Dez Cadena, Chuck Dukowski and BIll Stevenson with Stephen Egerton of Descendents and ALL fame replacing Ginn  on guitar they ripped out some blistering live sets (See my post HERE for the evidence) so much so that Ginn was outraged, lawsuits were filed and it was a big damn mess! I am not getting into that here though you can easily find out everything about this with a quick google search! So what was Ginn's major response to this apparent affront to him? To enlist Jealous Again era vocalist Ron Reyes and some unknowns on Rhythm section and reform Black Flag! This line up hastily recorded an album entitled "What The...." and a more appropriate title you could not find really!!! Whilst as I've said Ginn  can churn out tunes quicker than most people blink that's fine for his solo work and numerous projects however to resurrect the Black Flag name and release this album well to my mind it's a bigger insult to the name Black Flag than the excellent,blistering and faithful reproductions of the music that FLAG[][][][] are touring that caused him to reform Black Flag in response! I am not even gonna review or dissect it there's a link below you can make up your own mind about it but with this cover how could it not be a fuckin turd.....



So that's it folks the Under The Surface Black Flag mega post I really don't have any clever words to wrap this up it's been exhausting work even with the comparatively minimal write up i have done here my words can't really do justice to what this band means to me, one of the most important bands of the 20th century I just wish that bitter old bastard Ginn would've just let it lie!!! Here's your links please...ENJOY!


First Four Years + TV PartyMediafire

Everything Went BlackMediafire

DamagedMediafire

1982 DemosMediafire

My WarMediafire

Radio Tokyo SesssionMediafire

Live '84Mediafire

Family ManMediafire

Slip It InMediafire

Loose NutMediafire

In My HeadMediafire

The Process Of Weeding Out EPMediafire

I Can See You EPMediafire

Who's Got The 10 &1/2? (Live '85)Mediafire

Last Show (Live '86)Mediafire

What The....Mediafire


Afterthought.... Over the last few years i have amassed quite a few little Black Flag and related curiosities, Ray Pettibon art, Flyers, Promo and live photo's so as I feel that Pettibon's art and those famous SST promo photos were such an important part of the Black Flag package I decided along with the music to upload my Black Flag "Images" file so here is a link to some photo's, flyers, parodies etc a kinda scrapbook to accompany the music, so here you go.......

Flyers & StuffMediafire




Sunstone Records




As you readers will know this blog is normally all about the free music however I was quite surprised recently to find out that someone that I work with is running a small record label and have thus far released 4 7" singles! So always being a champion for local underground music I thought I'd give them some well deserved space on my blog.

Sunstone Records is run by Sie Norfoilk, Ant James and Will Crighton (my aforementioned colleague) I don't know much about how they got together and started Sunstone but here's what they have to say in the "about" section of the label website....

" Sunstone is an independent record label based in the North West of England, with a taste in electronics, psychedelia, prog, twisted folk and more  It's not about hobbies, it's how we are "

which is a fair point! They have released 7" singles by Klaus Johann Grobe, Lords Of Thyme, Three Dimensional Tanx and Balduin so far but would seem to have plans for further releases by Trappist Afterland and Nine Shields according to their artist roster.

Will was kind enough to give me a sampler CD featuring the A sides of their first four releases whilst not all of it was my cup of tea I was very impressed by the somber yet uplifting acoustic sound of Lords Of Thyme who's vocalist Michelle Griffiths is one VERY talented lady and the uptempo Hammond driven garage psych of Three Dimensional Tanx left me with a big smile on my face and I will definitely be pestering Will for more of both these bands.

These guys definitely know their stuff and by  what I hear can sniff out the fakers a mile away! Their releases are of a high standard both visually and musically and I really hope that they continue to work at it and have much success with this label, They are in the process of sorting out the digital side of things so stay posted but you can go check out the label and buy the records here...

http://www.sunstonerecords.co.uk/

and in the meantime here are some links to videos of the A-sides of 3 of  their 4 releases

Klaus Johann Grobe - Youtube

Three Dimensional Tanx - Youtube

Balduin - Youtube

and here's a live performance of Lords Of Thyme's gorgeous Sunstone A-side "Proud Maisrie"

Lords Of Thyme - Youtube

Go show some support to this cool small label because you will kick yourselves in the near future when their artists are the names on everyone's lips!

Martin Bisi


Martin Bisi is an artist I thought I knew very little about though, it would seem from the research i have done I am very familiar with some of his work. Having remixed tracks for Swans, contributed to releases by Angels Of Light, Sonic Youth and The Body Lovers and his close association with New York bass god and producer extraordinaire Bill Laswell all of whom are firm favorites here it would seem that Mr Bisi has been a part, albeit an unknown one, of my listening for quite some time!

I normally view solicitation for inclusion of music to this blog with very jaded eyes however I was recently contacted by a very pleasant chap called Thomas Lebioda (A musician and producer in his own right) who is releasing Martin Bisi's new album "Ex-Nihilo" his first album in 7 years,exclusively in Europe through Thomas's Sheffield based label Labelship with a view to me including it on here I was initially skeptical due to the fact that though I had heard the name I had believed myself unfamiliar with Martin Bisi's work.

So I had not had a chance to do much blogging recently nor to have a proper listen to the "Ex-Nihilo" album however I have been giving it a listen last couple of days when time has permitted and I have to say I have been very pleasantly surprised. The first thing that struck me about this album was the use of choral vocals throughout, whilst this did actually put me off to start with Bisi has woven them into his songs almost as part of the instrumentation using them to great effect to raise his music to great heights and to add atmosphere with a very decent sense of dynamics. Instrumental opener "Nihil Holy" whilst clocking in at 4 mins feels more like an intro or doorway to the album with it's foreboding pounding drums,strumming, random horns and the mentioned choral vocals. Whilst it has no real tight structure as such it's certainly a compelling I would say almost "Industrial" intro bringing to mind the likes of Laibach and Coil. However second track and what I would consider the first proper song on the album "Sin-Love-Hate" is a great almost laid back number it has a feel of some of the more sedate moments on more recent albums by Sonic Youth however Bisi's use of multiple instrumentation,piano and crowd & choral vocals gives the song depth and builds it to a point that when the horns kick in near the end it's at once dense and busy but still retains the groove of the song.Next Track "Mermaid Song" is a great number and this is where i feel those choral vocals really hit the mark the track begins gently and beautifully enough but it builds and peaks without becoming too much and brings to mind some of the work of something like Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds but that is just in the general feel of the song as i can't stress enough that whilst this album is most definitely coming from a post-punk perspective Martin Bisi has created something that whilst having familiar overtones is completely original and has a sound that is very definitely all his own.

This album has been a very surprising and refreshing listen I can honestly say even with my vast musical tastes I have heard nothing really like this before this album is as sedate and uplifting as it is bombastic and in places almost frightening with some of the more intense musical parts, for example the peaks of the track "Invite To Heaven And Hell" are intensely layered and discordant but at the same time those choral vocals, used the way Bisi has keep things "in check" but at the same time during the albums nosier parts can be quite intimidating albeit in an absolutely genius way, and the track "Fine Line" builds to a peak that would not be out of place on something by the more recent work of the recently reinvigorated Swans (anyone who knows me knows that is HIGH praise) and Bisi's vocals range from the quiet to loud to almost troubador-esque in places keeping things interesting.

I don't normally do "teasers" for albums but after a little negotiation Thomas and Martin have agreed I can have 2 tracks for you guys to check out which i think is more than fair considering that it's almost 1/3 of the album and also the obvious amount of work that has gone into the creation and promoting of this album. So below you will find a link for a file containing 2 tracks from the album "Sin-Love-Hate" and "The Mermaid Queen", if you like these tracks I cannot recommend that you either buy the album on vinyl or digitally as whilst these two tracks are both great and both will give you a feel of what to expect from  the album I will say that they only begin to reveal the rewards on offer throughout the full album. My initial skepticism when Thomas first contacted me has been utterly shredded this is an album that commands your attention throughout and has something for everyone, at least, that is everyone with an open mind and a taste for the original. Whilst the amount of different instrumentation and the unusual elements weaved into this music could be challenging I find that the more i listen to it it's more compelling than challenging and that this will definitely be getting some heavy rotation round here.

Before I post the link I'd like to thank Thomas for contacting me and drawing my attention to this album because i know for a fact i would never have heard it or checked it out otherwise, I'd also like to thank Martin for his permission to give my readers a taste of his album. Something as good and original as this does NOT come along often and I cannot urge you enough to have a listen to this sampler because I guarantee you that you will most definitely be desperate for more! Outstanding stuff!

Ex-Nihilo Sampler - Mediafire

You can buy the album on vinyl or digitally and check out some of the labels other releases from Labelship here..... http://www.labelship.com/