Sunday, April 25, 2010

Neneh Cherry - Raw Like Sushi

Cindy and Autumn, Leather Trio Productions.

Neneh Cherry - Raw Like Sushi - Buffalo StanceCindy: "...just the girls on the block with the nasty curves, wearin' padded bras, suckin' beer through straws..."
Autumn: Cindy has the headphones on. She's listening to Neneh Cherry. She's acting all strange. I think she likes this album a lot.
C: Did you say something, Autumn? Huh?
A: "Buffalo Stance" means attitude. It means keep your head up and don't take any shit. It means survival.
C: Ooh, this song has lotsa naughty cool words. I want Neneh Cherry to be my mom.
A: She already has two kids and they're probably not brats like you.
C: Maybe Joyce would be my mom too.
A: Joyce sent us the Neneh Cherry CD that Cindy is listening to. Joyce would know how to handle Cindy's back talk.
C: "God, you're so digital, girl. You're like one of them cabbage patch creatures." What a cool song!
A: Gimme those headphones.
C: Ooh, raw like sushi. Soundin' good in a buffalo stance.
A: Hey check this out: "my first kiss--hit and miss--he wasn't impressed cause I wouldn't get undressed." This is the best album of the 90s.
C: Gimme those headphones back. "Chocolates, bananas, donuts and salami. Ain't gonna fit cause you're full of baloney."
A: Look Cindy, your hair's all messed up. Better give those headphones to me.
C: "My body's clean, but my mind is bad."
A: "Get spooky."
C: "Get funky sex."
A: "Totally outa control."
C: You know I suppose we could just play it through the speakers.
A: More fun this way.
C: Definitely.

Album Network, June 9, 1989

You can buy "Buffalo Stance" at iTunes right here:
Raw Like Sushi - Neneh Cherry

Sea Hags

Autumn Meredith/Leather Trio Productions/San Francisco
One summer night in 1985, me, Cindy and Colleen all went to see the Sea Hags at the VIS club on Divisadero. Cindy was just out of high school and a major misbehaver. Colleen was only 16, and even wilder. I was a sweet and quiet girl of 18. It was Cindy and Colleen who caused all the fuss and made noise, not me. ("Stop lying, Autumn, you were a brat too!" -Cindy). Was not.

Back then the Hags were just a trio ("a leather trio!" -Cindy again), but they sounded basically the same as they do now with cool crunching guitars and wild songs. You can hear for yourself on their debut album just out on Chrysalis. My favorite song is "Doghouse" cause it just crunches. Colleen's favorite is the rockin' "Someday," a cool SVT cover. Cindy likes that riff rock stew, "Back to the Grind." And all three of us think the singer Ron is a stone fox. ("So girls of America you better beware, but since we saw 'em first we got rights." -Colleen). Got that? So everyone rush out and get the Sea Hags cool album. Hi to Tom Silver and Geina Horton at Chrysalis.

May 19, 1989, Album Network
Sea Hags at iTunes Sea Hags - Sea Hags

Ramones - Pet Sematary

Autumn Meredith/Cindy Jacobson, Leather Trio Productions.

Cindy: "How does it feel to be deleted and re-entered?" That is what Yvette said to me the last time I called the Album Network headquarters. I don't know about you, but it sounded naughty bad to me.
Autumn: I think she was talking about the computer.
C: Oh.
A: Hey look, we just got the new Ramones single, "Pet Sematary," in the mail.
C: Well put it on.
(Three minutes and thirty-two seconds later.)
A: Pretty cool.
C: It's so Ramones.
A: The only thing missing is Dee Dee shouting...
C: One, two, three, four!
A:...at the beginning. Other than that...
C: It's very Ramones.
A: Right. It appears last year's Ramonesmania compilation was just the end of Ramoning chapter one. Cause here we have further proof that punk rockers don't have to grow up.
C: They just stay in a cool cartoon world. Like us.
A: "Pet Sematary" has the right guitar crunch, the cool Joey Ramone vocals and a song that is frightening.
C: Oh so scary. So everyone get yourself a copy of "Pet Sematary" right now.
A: And play it a lot.
C: "Gabba gabba we accept you one of us."
A: Oh look, it has "Cindy Is a Punk Rocker" on the b-side.
C: The song they wrote about me. So who's this Sheena person anyway? I'll bet she's never been deleted and re-entered.

April 28, 1989, Album Network

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Cindy on the Late Seventies Denver/Boulder Music Scene

I didn't live there, I never went there, and I was just a spunky pre-teen sprog at the time. But I still feel nostalgic about the late seventies Denver/Boulder underground music scene probably because of its connections to San Francisco where I grew up. Well I guess I should start by mentioning Jello Biafra, who is originally from Boulder. But the real bridge and the only reason I know anything at all about this scene comes from the Varve, who are one of San Francisco's own. But not really. They have Boulder roots. Denver too. Another young sprog in the late 1970s, Dalton Rasmussen, and another San Francisco transplant, Joseph Pope, have compiled a vinyl/CD/booklet release called Rocky Mountain Low that documents this period of the Colorado music underground. Included are the Varve's roots, and some cool bands like the Jonny III and the Front. And oh yeah, Jello.

Jo Ann Gogue of the VarveFor me Denver's Guys and Boulder's Profalactics rule the Rocky Mountain Low compilation. The Guys were the Shangri-Las mated with the Ramones minus the Queens accents. All crazy energy and fun. I wish I had been there. The Profalactics are hard to describe. Kinda scratchy. In late 1979 both groups exploded and a Varve was formed. Jo Ann from the Guys and Sue and Carolyn from the Profalactics grabbed LA transplant and super cool blond Kelli Kozak (my true sister), and proceeded to quirk up Boulder. And then they moved to San Francisco. I was way underage, but I was able to sneak into two Varve shows in the early eighties. I remember sweating. I remember squawks of color.

Leroy Smith of the Jonny III
It was Jo Ann Varve, with her cool pink cowboy boots, who told me about the Denver/Boulder scene. She kept talking about this band called the Jonny III. She was president of their fan club. Aleta from the Guys wrote "God of Rock and Roll" about the band's singer and guitarist, Kenny Vaughan. The Jonny III never made a record, but they have two songs on the Rocky Mountain Low compilation, the punky "Cardboard Bachs" (oh such clever spelling) and the poppy "Hey Baby." But these tracks barely hint at the band's legend. Jo Ann played me stuff, showed me pictures, described the endless late night dance parties in Denver and Littleton. It was the energy of Eddie Cochran and the Ramones combined. Plus they had a string of classic songs written by Kenny Vaughan and the band's drummer, Leroy X. And stinging guitar work from Kenny, who now lives in Nashville where he's a highly regarded studio and live musician. I want to be there.

Kenny Vaughan and Kristine Oliver, Sweethearts of the Rodeo
Beyond the Jonny III and roots of the Varve, I'm really liking two other bands on Rocky Mountain Low, Boulder's Transistors and Denver's Front. The Transistors had groovy Asian goddess Karen Nakai (called Karen Sony here) on bass, who Autumn just adores. ("She's my long lost Japanese sister. I have their single." -Autumn). Later Karen would sing in Boulder's China Breaks and then she ran away to Southern California where she disappeared in the LA haze.

Karen Nakai
I'd never heard of the Front before, but their one track here, a Stooges cover, has the right spirit, all punk tension and teen nerves. More of this please. Lead singer Steve Knutson now works for Rough Trade, who used to have a store here in North Beach that later moved to Haight Street. But, like the kind of music on this compilation, it's gone now.

Get yourself a copy of Rocky Mountain Low at: Rocky Mountain Low - the Front, Jonny III, Roots of the Varve, and Jello!

Get it now. You'll wish you had been there.

Photographs by Joe Beine
top to bottom:
Jo Ann Gogue (Varve), Mercury Cafe, Denver, 1982
Leroy X Smith (in a post-Jonny III band with Kenny), Mercury Cafe, Denver, 1982
Kenny Vaughan and Kristine Arnold (Sweethearts of the Rodeo), Auraria Campus, Denver, 1987
Karen Nakai (China Breaks), Blue Note, Boulder, 1981

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Autumn's Guide to Cool Girl Drummers: Witch Baby

"'Witch Baby, come out and play drums for me,' Cherokee said. 'You are the most slinkster-jamming drummer girl and I want to dance.'"

Dangerous Angels Weetzie Bat BooksI first discovered Witch Baby in Francesca Lia Block's Weetzie Bat books in the nineties. She was a bit like a wilder version of me. The dark haired tomboy. Always hiding and snail-curling. Covering herself in protective mud. I never played the drums, but I could have. Maybe. Witch Baby teaches herself, playing with her hands. Later she joins the Goat Guys, her step sister Cherokee's band, and finds a rhythmic partner in her childhood crush, Angel Juan, who plays bass. He calls her Niña Bruja and they forge an alliance that's never severed even when Angel Juan goes away.

"She imagined that her drums were planets and the music was all the voices of growth and light and life joined together and traveling into the universe."

Witch Baby has two books of her own, Witch Baby and Missing Angel Juan, but you should read all five of the original Weetzie Bat books (collected in Dangerous Angels). And the sixth one, Necklace of Kisses, where Weetzie has a crisis and Witch Baby shaves her head and goes to college in Berkeley. Witch Baby is the best girl drummer cause she lives inside her rhythms, expressing all her inner turmoil and desire. She's the mud-caked, cool-jamming, purple-eyed girl who fends off clutch pigs, photographs dreams and talks to ghosts.

This is part two in the series, Autumn's Guide to Cool Girl Drummers

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Golden Gate Park and the San Francisco Scene

by Cindy Jacobson/Leather Trio Productions

Golden Gate BridgeI'm I-Beamin'. I'm Sidewalkin'. I'm Sugarcubin'. I'm just a-Ikky Boppin' on down Haight street. I go across Stanyan street and what do I see in Golden Gate Park? Hippies and punks. What a strange culture clash. They're playing Hendrix-like acid rock out of tiny battery powered amps. They're playing saxophones and singing songs. The hippies are clumped in a group. The punks are clumped in another group. They're kinda looking at each other, checking each other out. Like, are we the same thing a generation apart? Hmm... I continue walking through the park past the children's playground and get lost somewhere, just watching people, thinking about stuff.

I'm thinking about the odd mix of rock music this city has coughed up. From the Haight-Ashbury sounds of the Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead to the quirky Varve and the mighty Metallica. What a strange culture clash. Of course there's a load of bad mainstream bands here, but if you came to San Francisco right now you'd probably think the underground scene was pretty dead. So look closer. The metal scene still thrives and there's this weird urban folk movement going on right now with people like Barbara Manning and Penelope Houston making records and playing acoustic gigs.

It's Penelope Houston's place in all this that has me really intrigued right now. Twelve years ago she was all punk rock and short blond hair, shouting teen rebel lyrics over a high speed din of churning guitars in San Francisco's coolest punk band, the Avengers. The Avengers lasted through the brief gasp of punk's first wave, opened for the Sex Pistols at Winterland and never released an album. Which is the kind of stuff real rock and roll legends are made of. In 1983, four years after the band's demise, CD Presents issued an Avengers album consisting of their one single plus assorted demos and stuff. So you can hear what they sounded like. You can also read the interview with Penelope in the latest Flipside for more insight.

A couple of months ago, Subterranean, the label that gave us Flipper, put out Penelope's first album, Birdboys. And it's a quiet delight, a silent joy. Like a steady breeze blowing through Golden Gate Park. It has loads of pretty songs with razor sharp emotions and evocative melodies. So what happened to the nineteen year old girl who used to shout "fuck you!" over crashing guitars in 1977? Well, she's grown up. And she doesn't shout. She sings. She even has a real nice voice. Penelope may not be a rebellious punk rocker anymore, but she's got the same spirit. The same "I don't care what you think I'm going to express myself any way I want" attitude that punk rock, no, that rock and roll is really all about. So everyone go check out Penelope's sweet folk album on Subterranean. Me, I'm just sitting here in Golden Gate Park, thinking about stuff. I'm wondering why listening to the Avengers and then Penelope's new music isn't such a strange culture clash. And I'm wondering about those hippies and punks... It's all the same isn't it? Hmm...

April 7, 1989, Album Network

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Mighty Metallica by Keisha

Keisha W. Leather Trio Productions.
Autumn asked me to write about Metallica cause that's how we met. This was in 1987. I went into the Record Vault to buy Garage Days Re-Revisited (now on Garage Inc) and I met Autumn there. There weren't too many girls who liked Metallica so we knew we had something in common right away. We've been friends ever since. First I have to tell you about the two cute minitapes that Elektrika has put out. They have Pushead covers and extra bonus b-sides. "Eye of the Beholder" minitape has "Breadfan," a Budgie song, and "One" minitape has "The Prince," an awfully cool Diamondhead song. You should also get the Diamondhead album from that Turtle Blade (Metal Blade) label. It's called Behold the Beginning and has liner notes by Lars. Diamondhead made metal music back when James and Lars were wee and had not yet made a band. The wee Lars was very much impressed with Diamondhead and the Metallica boys have now recorded three of their songs for Garage Days releases.

On my skateboard I have a sticker that says, "language of the mad." Wanna know why? Go get your ...And Justice For All CD right now and put it in your player. Oh, already in there? Where it belongs. Now go to song six, "Harvester of Sorrow." You will hear crunch c-c-crunch c-c-crunch. This is not a pretty kind of song like the kinds of songs they play on the radio. It's a real kind of song. For me Metallica music has the same rhythm as the streets. Crunch c-c-crunch. And songs with the language of the mad people I pass by. Metallica reflects my world. The rhythms, the noise. That's why it says "language of the mad" on my skateboard. That's the world I live in.

March 10, 1989, Album Network