More wicked records in this week. Probably the most exciting was a pretty comprehensive collection of records by The Who. This collection included some of the real Who rarities; The High Numbers 7″, The Kids Are Alright UK Demo, Substitute one sided demo, My Generation Brunswick issue, tonnes of TMOQ live albums etc. We’d never seen a High Numbers 7″ before, so that was pretty mind boggling. We also had a few song sheets and brochures too that will be going out soon.
From one youth movement to another: we also had a pretty big (500 12″s) hardcore and jungle collection (they just keep coming!!). This was a little more standard than most of the collections we’ve had – but some absolutely blinding twelves in there from DJ Ron to Adam F. Loads of stuff on Lucky Spin, Reinforced, Moving Shadow etc.
An ex colleague from my Selectadisc Nottingham days popped in today with a nice pile of records from Big L, Aphex Twin, Ice Cube, Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Thug Life etc. Exactly what you want!!
We have had some serious CDs pass through the shop this week. All the Grateful Dead “Dicks Picks”, so many Jazz titles, some nice Death Metal (Autopsy, Entombed, Darkthrone, At The Gates etc), tonnes of reggae (including a copy of Darker Then Blue – the best reggae soul comp ever!).
Were trying to make a few improvements in the shop at the moment so if you have any ideas please feel free to message us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Few events this week that I highly recommend; firstly our very own Toru is playing this Thursday with Rory, Nugget, Will etc – all Reckless regulars mashing down the place.
Also our friend Ilan is putting on Luke Eargoggle & Piers (Cocodisco): https://www.facebook.com/events/323002971427137/
Can’t wait for this, Cocodisco was such a great night and Luke Eargoggle is just banging.
This weeks TOP TEN is from the wicked Ellie from Snob & Good Throb
Top 10 Birds of the Avant-Garde – Jazz to Punk
- Oum Koulsoum – Inta Omri LP (1972) Koulsoum was a brilliant singer, actress, superstar and prodigy of performance whose career grew to sensational levels of popularity in Egypt in the 1940s and 50s. It seems she made about a million records (it’s hard to tell because of spelling variations of westernised versions of her name), but I have a soft spot for this particular live recording. Crazy long, hypnotic intros and the sound of the crowd screaming for her all add to the sense of pay-off when Koulsoum’s other-worldly voice kicks in. I don’t understand the Arabic lyrics, but I’m almost certain she’s singing about love and loss – tied together with a mournful and theatrical glamour. A guy I bought this record off also told me she was remarkable in her time for pushing at the edges of relatively taboo subjects (such as women’s sexualities) in a mainstream public context – pretty great. (N.B. her name is sometimes also spelled Oum Kalthoum, Umm Kulthum, and other variations)
- Alice Coltrane – Lord of Lords LP (1972) Coltrane’s album Journey In Satchidananda is an amazing record and more well-known, but I thought I’d go for Lord of Lords as a personal favourite for listening to on long journeys. I don’t really have the music terminology to properly describe it but what I love about this record is that the music swells in such an intense way – between jazz, western classical and eastern sorts of scales and sounds. It’s kind of cinematic and kind of scary at times, it almost feels like you’re in a car accelerating towards a wall and you’re not sure if it’s ever going to slow down! A titan of the jazz world (or for music generally) and true bird of the avant-garde.
- Shirley Collins with Davy Graham – Folk Roots, New Routes LP (1964) You’re probably wondering what a folk LP is doing on a list with ostensibly says it’s about ‘avant-garde’. Well, actually ‘avant-garde’ methodologies have often involved looking to (or appropriating) past histories in order to approach or conceptualise the future – and Shirley Collins is one such example! In the 1970s she was looking to folk traditions of English working class and gypsy songs for inspiration, against the grain of a period in which capitalism was biting back against hippy and related countercultural movements of the 1960s (which may have been perceived as ‘failed’ in the mainstream). Ultimately though, this record just had to be on the list because Collins’ incredible voice positions it among my few most treasured all-time favourites.
- Suburban Lawns – Janitor 7” (1980) Suburban Lawns were a Californian post-punk band formed by art students and fronted by the inimitable Su Tissue. They seem to have made a few fun TV appearances, including in the New Wave Theatre section of Night Flight, a cable TV arts show which showcased many of the US’s most influential punk and new wave bands as they emerged. While Suburban Lawns may not fit particularly easily into the (extremely loosely-defined) theme of ‘avant-garde’, Su Tissue absolutely does push at the limits of more typical expectations of front-person charisma and punk style. She squeals, yaps, croons and warbles exemplary lyrics such as ‘I’m a janitor, oh my genitals’, while smouldering with an air of punk nonchalance and ambivalence to the puppy-like boys bouncing around her. She wavers between the appearance of an unassuming playground loner and stern librarian, holding the band together with her addictive melodies.
- Poison Girls – Hex LP (1979) Vi Subversa is surely among the most distinct vocalists of all time. Sometimes I get annoyed that discourse about Poison Girls usually starts with something along the lines of – ‘wow, she was a working class mum in her 40s AND she was in a band??!’ (as if the two were somehow mutually exclusive), but there is something to be said for how she shone a light on the lack of diversity in punk (sadly, an ongoing problem), and offered up something new and different. What I focus on more though is the amazing way in which she innovated against punk’s established tropes, unabashedly blurring lines between music and spoken word performance (and later experimenting with her voice as a texture in increasingly weird and cool ways). This album touches on important subjects including anarchist ideologies, mental health, changing nappies, and what it means to be an old tart.
- Hagar the Womb – The Word of the Womb 12” (1984) I’ve indulged myself with two UK anarcho-punk records for this top 10, but I couldn’t resist. My favourite thing about Hagar the Womb, apart from their ear worm songs of course (hello, ‘Idolization’), is that they really seem to embody an amazing energy of feminist collectivity. A chorus of different voices come through in the record, the vocals sometimes at the slippery boundary between laughter and rage. They made an important contribution to London’s DIY scene in the early 80s, with an ethos of participation and anti—virtuosity as an aesthetic and political project. There is something quite sarcastic about this band that really exemplifies the ‘fuck you’ energy of punk in a very satisfying way.
- Johanna Went – Club Years [DVD] (2007) This DVD features live footage from Went’s club performances 1977-1987, and a bonus CD of recordings from her Slave Beyond the Grave single and Hyena LP. Went collaborated with a variety of musicians to create wild improvisatory performances in punk venues which consisted of singing, screeching, writhing, shouting, jumping, humping and dancing with large-scale objects such as a vagina the size of an adult crafted from pink and red fabric which spews bloodied tampons. It’s intoxicating, hilarious, ferocious, sensual, and very pleasurable!
- V/A – Slum Dunk presents Funk Carioca compiled by Tetine 2 x LP (2004) ‘Avant-garde’ after the postmodern era must surely be about challenging distinctions between ‘high’ and ‘low’ culture, right? Well, this record is crass, trashy, and sexy music emerging from a DIY punk spirit which definitely seems to challenge the status quo. I had to have at least one dance record on this list and this compilation seemed like a good choice from what I’m currently spinning as it often gets me going, even at my lowest ebb doing mundane chores such as my annual scrub behind the toilet in my flat. It’s a compilation record of a genre that emerged in working class Brazil in the 1980s, characterised in part by spare, sexy electronic drums and bass and sounds like it’s been made in somebody’s bedroom. Tetine, the electro/post-punk duo that put the record together come from a space of somewhere between DIY punk, poetry, and art theatre. A special mention here goes to Deize Tigrona’s track ‘Injeção’ which the sleeve translation says opens with a memorable (and horny) verse: ‘Ai, ai… When I go to the doctor’s I’m feeling a little ache. Why don’t you give me an injection? Prick me, doctor! Injections hurt when they enter, they rub when they enter. Oh my god, my butt can’t bear it any longer.’
- Space Lady – The Space Lady’s Greatest Hits LP (2013) There’s a really long history of women artists appropriating material from male ‘greats’ in weird and wonderful ways, and the Space Lady continues that tradition with the Casio keyboard as weapon of choice. With her touring and reissues (she has original songs but many cover great 60s tunes) her ethereal voice has now achieved iconic status. I love that she has a very up-front commitment to spirituality, the environment, and caring as a political philosophy – and that’s reflected somehow in the dreamy aesthetic of her music.
- Woolf – The Right Way to Play 12” (2012) This band have been a pillar of DIY music in London for quite a while, due much credit for having a great deal of influence on the growing army of pissed off women and other people forming new and exciting bands as punk music-making here has diversified over the last five years or so. I love them for their blatantly queer feminist ethos and aesthetic, and they have unapologetically grated against the ears of norm men making hardcore pastiche bands at many a gig. I’ve had the pleasure of sharing the stage with them a few times (one infamous moment being an overheard comment by a man in the audience suggesting that us lesbians should get our own scene), and I’m a sucker for their classic crowd-pleasers such as ‘Witch’. This band exemplifies punk as a long-standing site of dialogue between music and art, and they’ve worked with the artist Oreet Ashery to create a great live score in the recent past. Many of the records on this list are quite different to one another (even if their histories overlap), but what is cool about looking at Woolf next to a band like Hagar the Womb is to see that there’s also an amazing continuum there of women and others at the vanguard of innovation in DIY music – a transgenerational connection which is so much more than mere reproduction or recycling of past histories.
I should mention that Snob – are absolutely wicked. Buy their records and go see them live!!!
Till next week…peace!