Tuesday, December 16, 2008

All Rise for the Queen of Siam....

Looking back at past years,age 12 to be exact, I , like most people get a kick out of pondering the lineage of my musical preferences. I find some value in returning to and revisiting so-called "Gateway" bands that turned me onto other things I might have missed out on. Bands that I dread to think that might not be such a deep part of my fabric today. The Culprit: Nirvana. Nirvana, they are what they are. You love them or you despise them. Either way, in the 7th grade, Nevermind was shooting to the top of the charts and it just caught me at the right time. There are more than a few catchy songs there and at the time my music collection was a couple of shoe boxes full of mix tapes my uncle Pete made for me. These tapes were chock full of '80's hair bands. Whitesnake, Quiet Riot, Cinderella, Guns and Roses, Def Leppard, Poison, and Van Halen all were represented. Other than these, I had a couple of AC/DC cassettes my dad gave me and Michael Jackson's "Thriller". Nirvana just opened me up to a slew of new shit. The Melvins, Sex Pistols, The Raincoats, Celtic Frost, Black Flag, The Germs, among other, were all names that Kurt Cobain and David Grohl would throw out in their interviews with Circus and Rolling Stone. Every penny I scrounged up would lure me down to the old Harlequin Records or Sound Barrier on a hunt for these new names. I'll always remember walking home from school after not eating my lunch at school for the past week so I could save the money and stop by the record store and buy The Melvins "Houdini". the one band that really caught my attention though was Sonic Youth. Watching 1991: The Year Punk Broke blew me away at that age. So I steadily started collecting every single piece of their history i could get my hands on. I kind of lost track of them after their album "Washing Machine" which I was never too fond of. But no matter, Daydream Nation and Bad Moon Rising were more than enough to make up for the direction they were heading in. Ahh, Bad Moon Rising, it's still my favorite to this day. One of my favorites' by any band really. It was this particular album that introduced me to a particular girl that I also have spent much time trailing throughout the years. That girl is Lydia Lunch. You know, I'm no historian when it comes to her. I have had an on again/off again infatuation with Lydia. On my time line of iconic crushes she fits somewhere after Samantha Fox,Ann and Nancy Wilson,and En Vogue and before Wendy O Williams, Rozz Williams ,and Amy Miret. I have collected her various albums ever since but by no means an impressive list. What I have I do love and as this is so, after putting it off for about a week, I'll get started throwing them out there.
Here is "Queen of Siam", which if I'm not mistaken is her first solo album after Teenage Jesus and the Jerks. It's amusing for what it's worth with a few great songs and a hilarious cover of Dusty Springfield's "Spooky" which is kind of out of place.

Queen of Siam

"Drowning in Limbo" is actually a reissue that combines two great albums on in one place, the soundtrack for "The Drowning of Lucy Hamilton" and one of my 2 favorites, "In Limbo". The Drowning... is a collaboration with China Berg of the band Mars, who'll pop up again in a bit. It 's dreary with a lot of droning clarinet.It's reminiscent of John Zorn I guess which is a good thing by my standards. In Limbo is performed with a more conventional band with Thurston Moore on bass and more John Zorn-ish horns squealing throughout. It's the sonic equivalent of a rainy Sunday afternoon. Check out the song "Some Boys", it's one of her best.

The Drowning of Lucy Hamilton

In Limbo

Next up is "Honey Moon in Red" which features the one and only Rowland S. Howard of the enigmatic "Birthday Party"(who will surely make a proper appearance here eventually). This one is the real prize of this lot. It is a more fleshed out,less stark version of In Limbo. while I love every last song on here, it cannot go unmentioned for the beauty lies in the sublime cover of the Lee Hazelwood and Nancy Sinatra duet, "Some Velvet Morning".
For the longest time I mistook R.S. Howard's voice to be Nick Cave's, but that is a tangent that will be left to itself for now. If you only download one of these album, make it this one.

Honeymoon in Red

One tangent I will embark on is this.Since I mentioned Lee Hazelwood and Nancy Sinatra duets, check out this version of "Sand" by Einsturzende Neubauten. It's a beauty.

"Sand" by Einsturzende Neubauten

The last of these is a collection I came across last week called "Hysterie". It's a retrospective that spans her involvement with Teenage Jesus and the Jerks, 8 Eyed Spy, Beirut Slump, and a few other odds and ends. Unfortunately, neither this compilation nor I delve too deeply into her works with "Clint Ruin" aka J.G. Thirwell of Foetus but I did choose to include their cover of B.O.C.'s "Don't Fear the Reaper for it's own sake. Maybe Stinkfist will end up here some other time?

Don't Fear the Reaper

That does it for Lydia Lunch herself except for a few scraps I have left. Her Bibliography page, and some videos I thought did some justice.

Before I end this thing for the day, I want to share this last piece of the puzzle with you.
the "No New York" compilation. The story goes like this: Brian Eno was in New York to produce the new Talking Heads album. He happened to be in the audience at a festival where a few of the New York's vaunted "No Wave" bands were playing and came away impressed with some of them, namely Mars, Teenage Jesus and the Jerks, D.N.A., and James Chance and the Contortions. He offered to produce songs for these four groups and long story short, No New York was born.

No New York

I'm not sure what tomorrow's going to bring. I've got a few direction i might head in. So stay tuned and thanks is due to all of you that return..........Troy


RyGar said...

Although I've read her interviews, and a bit of her fiction, I don't think I've ever listened to Lydia Lunch. "Death Valley '69" is one of my favorite Sonic Youth tracks, and the fact that she collaborated with Rowland S. Howard (love the Birthday Party), Thurston, and others... She's definitely been on the right track. I'll check it out.

Skot said...

Now that brings me back. Speaking of Junior High and Nirvana, do you recall Mr. Welch throwing a fit over the word "horny" in Lithium during science class when he let you play it?

TMM said...

Yeah, and he also freaked out over my Tool shirt that the wrench/phallic symbol on the back...

ido said...

Dude, were we separated at birth or something?!?!?!?!? NIRVANA totally rocked my depressive 11-year old psyche. It was BLEACH that grabbed me by my smooth adolescent ballsack and dragged me down the path to darkness. Hear SONIC YOUTH's "Daydream Nation" soon after and felt like the hand of some god came out of the heavens. I completely lost it with their early work and got as much as I could. Their passion, distortion, and nihilism (with those early records) is what really struck a cord with me. BAD MOON still rules my world, along with EVOL (i start crying like a little girl during "Secret Girl", no joke) and CONFUSION IS SEX. Everything post '92 makes me sad inside, although I did see them twice (once in 2001 and once in 2003, both times in Osaka, Japan).

I started digging Lydia from her contribution to the lyrics (second verse) of "Marilyn Moore" and of fucking course "Death Valley". Once Atavistic started re-releasing her stuff on cd around '97 I started snatching as much of it as I could. I have everything you've posted here, including some more. I was planning on posting it on my blog and still will, since she means a lot to me. I also have a lot of stuff from the so called "No Wave" scene, which is pretty much all I listened to in high-school. Also have some pretty kick ass cassettes of Glenn Branca's guitar symphonies. Unfortunately I don't have the hardware to convert that stuff to mp3s or else I would definitely share it.

Lydia's spoken word, though, is not good. At all. Its heavy-handed and self important, and just doesn't have the brilliance that her early music held. Its worth listening to at least "Universal Infiltrators" to get an idea of what she was working with. I've listened to some of her more recent work, but it seems too much like a re-tread of paths she has explored before.

Thanks for posting this stuff and getting the word out.

Oldboy said...

Thanks Troy, I love Lydia Lunch,most of her shit I've lost over the years so this is a sweet hook up!

Kendra said...

yeah, but Mr. Welch was still the coolest.

Also, it was nice to think about Harlequin and The Sound Barrier again.

Skot said...

God, I miss those two shops.

Anonymous said...

thanks for this stuff like you when i first got into punk lydia lunch was a name i read often and even now seems mystical and mythical to me.
ray ss


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