Monthly Archives: November 2005

Angry Red Planet

So I was like 16 or something and Angry Red Planet was playing at this place called the Hole in the Wall, which was really just a big open space above Isis, you know that bar in Pontiac. So anyway, me and this guy Chuck went to see them but this really crappy band opened (Scott Campbell’s Band) and we threw the empy brown bottles of Rush that we were huffing at this guy as he played Syd Barrett-era Floyd songs. We came to see Angry Red Planet man, not some washed up hippy shit! So then another opening band comes on, and they suck, they called themselves Black Rose and the only reason they got to play was because the bass player Gino was a bartender downstairs and scored the room for the show. Then there was some fight over whether or not some guy was a poser, probably initiated by the Apple Sids, the toughest punk gang to ever come out of the rich areas of Farmington and Bloomfield Hills. No posers there! “Daddy! Can you buy me Walk Among Us? It’s only $50″ And then some girl got sick in the only bathroom in the place, which didn’t matter since the toilet was broke anyway. Then I drew a skull on the wall with my sharpie and finished the bottle of Mad Dog that I brought in.

So then Angry Red Planet comes on and they’re great. And we all slam. It was good.

Angry Red Planet was this really good Detroit hardcore band back in the mid-80s. They release a couple of records through Touch and Go, and played quite a bit around town. They were a favorite of mine and have long since broken up. Their first full length (Little Pigs, Little Pigs) had a hand screenprinted cover and was numbered. I have number 165.

If anyone knows Cory Rusk, have him get off his ass and re-release all the old Touch & Go stuff digitally. Emusic would be a great place.

This song is called Mediocrity and is from the 7” Gawker’s Paradise, which sadly is unavailable.

The Song
Mediocrity (2.3MB MP3)

The Site
Touch and Go Profile

Chris Whitley 1960 – 2005

Wow, what a horrible fucking birthday present. To wake up and find that Chris Whitley had died.

For those of you who have heard his music, or seen him perform, you already know that there was no one else like him.

For those of you who don’t know, he was one of the last great keepers of American music. He made many of his own guitars. He didn’t really try to sell a ton of records. He could alternate from a solo acoustic dirge to a raucous punk noise in a matter of seconds. Danial Lanois counts him as a favorite artist. He played a mean guitar and sang like a tortured angel. His latest effort Soft Dangerous Shores is on my top 10 list for 2005. He never made a bad record, and few of them sounded alike. You should get to know him.

Rest in peace.

This is Poison Girl by Chris Whitley from the album Living With the Law

The Song
Poison Girl (3.2MB AAC)

The Site
Official Site

The Album
Living With the Law

Poi Dog Pondering

In 1988, I was stationed at Ft. Bliss, El Paso. What a shithole. But it wasn’t so bad, I drank a lot at the El Paso Surf Club. Met many of El Paso’s lovely ladies to the dismay of my current Michigan-based girlfirend, did the whole Juarez thing, and visited a record store / head shop where I picked up the 4 song, self-titled EP from Poi Dog Pondering.

Hi Frank! I loved you immediately. The band was led by Frank Orrall, lead singer and songwriter and consisted of anywhere from 3 – 14 other people. Someday I’d like to meet Frank Orall. He seems like a really groovy cat, and in a way I’ve known him for almost 20 years.

Poi Dog Pondering was a band from Hawaii, that moved to Austin, and then later to Chicago. In each town, they seemed to pick up the vibe of the city and incorporate it into their music. Or maybe it’s the other way around.

Initially a folky, gypsy style band with guitars, violins, and various other exotic instruments (my pal Jake played a bizzare Brazillian percussion thingie on one of their tracks), Poi Dog have made their way to being a funky rockin band complete with a hip-hop dance troupe.

This song catches them at one of my favorite spots, a transitional point where the songs became very focused, and the subject matter grew to new areas. This song also illustrates that they might be the best live band on the planet. And I, one of their largest fans, have to humbly admit to never seeing them live.

This is Big Constellation by Poi Dog Pondering from the live album Liquid White Light

The Song
Big Constellation (8.0MB MP3)

The Site
Official Site

The Album
Liquid White Light

Maria McKee

There was (as there almost always is) an alternative country scene in the mid to late eighties. A couple of these groups flourished (Los Lobos is a great example) and some should have hit it bigger than they did. Lone Justice was one of them. They did alright, releasing 3 albums and touring with U2. Then they broke up.

That’s when things got really good. Lead singer Marie McKee began releasing albums, her first (self titled) dipping into polished country, Her second (You Gotta Sin To Get Saved) explored ragged and glorious Byrds-styled music, then for her third (Life is Sweet) she started channelling Mick Ronson and put some glam touches in. I know, sounds like it shouldn’t work, but it did.

Maria continues to put out great albums, her latest, Peddlin’ Dreams is well worth picking up. If you’re lucky enough to see her live, go for it, she’s a great performer.

This is Absolutely Barking Stars by Maria McKee from the (apparently out of print) album Life is Sweet

The Song
Absolutely Barking Stars (5.5MB MP3)

The Site
Official Site

The Album
Life is Sweet

This is not an ad

For those of you who buy music from any site besides emusic, I say you are just fools!

This past week, emusic added both Dischord Records and V2 records to its stacks.

Note that these are straightforward MP3s with no DRM or other crappy restrictions. You pay a monthly fee and get a number of tracks to download.

You own the files, they are yours, you may do with them what you will.

Don’t be dumb, go get emusic.

Billy Falcon

What to say about Billy Falcon. Well, for one, I shouldn’t like him. He’s a barstool rock guy from Jersey who writes songs for crap bands like Bon Jovi. He had a brief, and some would say unfortunate, foray into a new wave dance thing in the 80s with someone named Myla. He has an album with a bad pun on his name (a pet peeve) called Falcon Around. Billy Falcon has really bad hair and a rose painted on his guitar.

But here’s the thing. He writes amazing songs. No, for real: amazing. songs. He has one of the most plain, but expressive voices I’ve ever heard, which means I can sing along with my plain and less expressive voice. His new wavey album is one I’m still searching for because when I was 15, it was really good (if anyone has a copy they’d like to part with, email me). The rose on his guitar is for his daughter Rose. That last one counts for a lot in my book.

This album was one of the first records I bought when I came home from the war, not feeling quite fit back into reality, and having no real direction. I heard this song on the radio in Grand Rapids, back when GR had a halfway decent station. The album is called Pretty Blue World, which was really sort of an idea I needed to begin believing in again.

My love of this record probly has a lot to do with timing and circumstance, as many do, but that doesn’t change that fact that this simple song is still one of my favorites. A terrific ode to love and what really matters in the world. This song was the runner up in my official wedding song contest. (Sorry Billy, Blue Rodeo’s Lost Together beat you on that one).

This is Power Windows by Billy Falcon from the album Pretty Blue World.

The Song
Power Windows (5.5MB MP3)

The Site
Official Site

The Album
Pretty Blue World

Big Chief

I know about Iggy, and the MC5, and even fucking Bob Segar and fucking Ted Nugent. I know they have rabid fans, I know about the “Influence” they’ve had over countless bands and their supposed greatness.

However, the best album to ever make its way out of Detroit is the soundtrack to Mack Avenue Skullgame by Big Chief.

It’s a concept record disguised as a soundtrack to a movie that never existed. A street opera that could have only come from Detroit.

Big Chief released 3 or 4 full lengths albums in the early to mid-nineties, alternately fighting and blowing the lid off that that “grunge” thing. They pre-dated the Beastie Boys in adding back in old school funk into the world, and could easily beat down any sludgy-guitared Seattle band.

Mark, one of the guitarists, is an artist in the Detroit area, and notably did the album cover for Soundgarden’s Badmotorfinger, as well as all the Big Chief covers and several others. He’s also a kickass painter. Barry, the lead singer was the vocalist for hardcore favorites The Necroes, and last I heard, he was a jungle DJ in Chicago. Life is odd.

Anyway, check out this track, I think it’s one of the best on the record.

This is No Free Love on This Street by Big Chief from the LP Mack Avenue Skullgame.

The Song
No Free Love on This Street (5.5MB MP3)

The Site
Allmusic Profile

The Album
Mack Avenue Skullgame