Oblivians-Sympathy Sessions

October 14, 2008

Oblivians

Sympathy Sessions (Sympathy for the Record Industry 1996)

http://www.mediafire.com/?4wozdutmtii

Outside of the Buzzcocks, Undertones and Stiff Little Fingers, I never really got into the poppy punk anthems of contemporaries like the Clash and Ramones. All of the 77-82 punk bands have moments which leave me humming like the fool I am, but I feel more kinship with those who twisted it into grubbier forms. Whether it be the bizarro concoctions on Wire’s first three albums or the Killed by Death series, punk just seemed like it should be alien, aggressive and ugly in its own beautiful manner. My wussy teen years led me to ignore the 60s Nuggets, Pebbles and Back from the Grave comps, but they felt like a stirring slap in the face once I heard the roots on punk in all its catchy and primitive glory.

One of the bands that opened my eyes to the gruff history of punk were the Oblivians. At the time, I had no inkling of their influences and garage rock had more to do with Animal House than anything else. However, their debut singles and eps captured what I always wanted from a punk band. It had a nasty streak a mile wide and the band played the living shit out of each song.  It was fast, shitty-sounding and their live set was a simple reminder that rock and roll can stir you like a gospel anthem in a church full of hopped up folks speaking in tongues.

Sympathy Sessions collects their early singles and eps for the Sympathy label and includes some of their absolute peaks and only a few meager valleys. Their collaboration with Quintron stands as the pinnacle of their career, but this is a great representation of what made them so immediate and special. No frills or ambition to make a grand statement; Sympathy Sessions is a reminder of punk’s kinship with 60s rock, gospel, R&B and the power of a bad attitude. It is a revival session for folks with a hankering for trouble.

Various Artists

Killed by Death: Volume One

http://www.mediafire.com/?jdyu7mmbtwl

Johan Kugelberg is somewhat or directly responsible for many things that I love in life: Ugly Things magazine, The Monks reissue and the major label debut of Thomas Jefferson Slave Apartments and V-3 as well as his crowning achievement, the first four volumes of Killed by Death.

The early Killed by Death comps document punk’s most belligerent and brilliant moments circa 1977-1982, but later comps piss in the bathwater and shine a light on lesser mortals. However, the first four volumes may be the most primal collections of punk I’ve heard. It belongs next to the Nuggets, Pebbles and Back to the Grave compilations as a logical extension to their documentation of the rawest nubs of rock. You can hear the groundwork for hardcore and other offshoots of punk in each track. However, these tracks bear little resemblance to British punks like the Clash, Sex Pistols, Buzzcocks and the Damned. The Ramones, Dead Boys, Voidoids, Dickies and Pagans were more up their alley.

Punk has always been a singles scene for me. Outside of the Wipers, Wire, Clash, Pere Ubu, Drive Like Jehu, Cheater Slicks, Oblivians, Saints and Real Kids, I cannot name many punk albums that I will listen from end to end without complaint. Therefore, these comps appeal to me because they skim the fat and leave us with the most lean, deserate sounds of American punk. Personally, I strongly believe the first volume of Killed by Death is flawless in every way. It captures the crude, ham-fisted glory of all that was great about this era in music.

Bassholes

Out in the Treetops 2×7′

http://www.mediafire.com/?inckeqvszxj

I don’t quite know why the Bassholes occupy such a tender place in my heart. Only the Cheater Slicks consistently rival their ability to take garage rock and pervert it into something entirely their own. I love the Nuggets, Pebbles and Killed by Death comps, but most of it draws from the same well. The Bassholes are a stripped-down reduction of rock and roll, blues and punk like many other bands in the same vein, but their version is so much more eccentric than the rest. I always wondered why John Fahey reissued their Blue Roots album alongside Derek Bailey, Cecil Taylor and Charlie Feathers, but repeated listens convinced me that they were innovators who channeled their roots into new, exciting directions.

Don Howland is the main dude and his previous band, The Gibson Brothers, released some great albums on Homestead Records, but they were to focused on the canon. The Bassholes generally break punk and blues down to a minimal pound and wail that embodies all that is raw and immediate about punk rock. This double 7-inch includes covers of The Who’s “Tattoo” and The Stooges’ “Raw Power” and both are mangled beyind recognition. The others are originals, but one reminds me of an unlikely hallucination of Joy Division recording for In the Red or Crypt records.

Various Artists

Chains and Black Exhaust (Jones 2002)

http://www.mediafire.com/?n0ilvmzd2dk

A Memphis DJ who wrote for Wax Poetics magazine released this comp of 60s and 70s of downright raw and nasty funk and rock in the vein of Funkadelic’s Maggot Brain minus the long, drawn out monologues about, well….maggots on the brain. This comp is a tribute to the influence of  Jimi Hendrix and Eddie Hazel to be exact. Most, if not all artists are African-American funk bands who are in love with the power of Motor City rock and roll. Some of the instrumentals have been sampled by hip-hop artists and it’s not surprise since the instrumental tracks picture a world where George Clinton took over Stax records.

The most “recognizable” band on here is Black Merda whose self-titled album is fiercely funky psych-rock album, but you will want to track down the scarce discographies of LA Carnival, Sir Stanley and other lost pioneers of an era where funk-rock didn’t mean a bunch of surfers wearing socks on their ding dongs. It is a perfect snapshot of a time where Motown, Stax, Nuggets and fried guitar riffs all went together like peanut butter and jelly. In particular, Grand Am’s “Get High” mostly consists of the aforementioned chorus and puffing sounds, but the guitar playing on this is so primitive and unhinged that it bashes you on the noggin. I cannot tell you much about the artists here because many of these tracks were neglected by history and only resurfaced due to the diligence of this wonderful DJ. I only wish today’s soul music and r&b could achieve the psychedelic pinnacles achieved here.