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Heavy Rotation 47: It’s All Coming Together Now Edition

June 6, 2010

Another week, another selection of varied tunes for your perusal. Except this week. Well, there are tunes, but they’re all up in each other’s bidness, as you’ll have bludgeoned into your head with this extremely wordy issue of Heavy Rotation. Many thanks in advance for those who wade right in.

If you’ve still got time to spare, take a look at these:

http://thisstuffisfree.wordpress.com/2010/06/04/free-magic-tricks/

http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com/2010/05/sneaky-hate-spiral.html

http://hiddenleaves.wordpress.com/2010/06/06/shit-laertes-says/

Earlier, more varied and economical editions available here:
The Heavy Rotation Archives

….

Bauhaus – Rose Garden Funeral of Sores (Live).mp3
Pixies – Hey.mp3

First up: Goth pioneers Bauhaus drop their art-damaged punk all over John Cale’s dark musings on Jesus’ Marys: the virgin mother and the attentive prostitute. From the street hassle of being a virgin mother:

Virgin Mary was tired
So tired
Tired of listening to gossip
Gossip and complaints
They came from next door

to the epicenter of the pointless, projecting gossip:

And a bewildered stream of chatter
From all sorts of
All sorts of
Untidy whores
Came from next door

The song tracks the petty travails of being a legend in your own time, a position made less envious by being linked inextricably by the savior of the world, a man of impossible standards and unconditional love.

Peter Murphy struts, vamps and screams, playing off the lyrical surges while his bandmates chime in with hoarse, whorish shouts, channeling the tormented/tormenting taunts of “screaming whores” with guttural barks of “UH!”.

But their choice don’t seem to matter
They got swollen breasts and lips that putter
And their choice of matter and their scream of chatter
Is just a little parasitic scream of whores
Screaming whores
In the rosegarden funeral of sores

And now the Pixies…

From the most Biblically obsessed of their albums (1989’s Doolittle) comes this perverted love/lust song, filled with contaminated yearning and cursed fatalism. Riding a bassline they wouldn’t top until later that album (I Bleed), Black Francis unleashes his naked desire only to find it anchored to the dead weight of a self-destructive relationship:

Hey!
Been trying to meet you
Mmm…
Hey!
Must be a devil between us
Or whores in my head
Whores at the door
Whore in my bed

But hey!
Where
Have you
Been?

If you go, I will surely die.

We’re chained…
We’re chained…
We’re chained…
Chained…

As the track heats up, Black Francis obliquely quotes “Rose Garden’s” screaming whores:

‘UH!’,
Said the man to the lady
Mmm…

‘UH!’,
Said the lady to the man she adored
And the whores like a choir go ‘UH!’ all night
And Mary, ain’t you tired of this?
‘UH!’
Is
The
Sound
That the mother makes when the baby breaks!

[I’ve been listening to these two tracks for the better part of 15 years and never saw the connection until just last week. Go figure.]

Bauhaus – Rose Garden Funeral of Sores (Live)

Pixies – Hey

Pixies – Hang Onto Your Ego.mp3
Public Image Limited – Public Image.mp3

The Pixies cover a Brian Wilson track that got deep-sixed by Mike Love for being too cynical and “out there” for the average boomer, taking an angular, guitar-heavy run through the greatest Beach Boys track never to hit the airwaves. (What if it had? It might have changed the face of “classic rock” completely. I think it would have hit Jimmy Buffett’s pocketbook the hardest…)

As the band warms up for the run, Black Francis fires off “Hullo, hullo, hullo…” quoting the opening of P.I.L.’s opening salvo Public Image, another deconstruction of rock ego and myth-making. Why this appropriation? Perhaps to indicate that Hang Onto Your Ego could have been a generational kiss off to a generation of undemanding Beach Boy fans.

I know so many people
Who think they can do it alone
They isolate their heads
And stay in the safety zone

But what can you tell them?
What can you say that won’t make them defensive?

So…
Hang on to your ego
Hang on, but I know that you’re gonna lose the fight

They come on like they’re peaceful
But inside they’re so uptight
They trip through the day
And waste all their thoughts at night

But how can I say it?
How can I come on when I know I’m guilty?

Speaking of which, John Lydon (the former Johnny Rotten) sends the Sex Pistols’ fans running for the shelter of their now “status quo” punk bands with the debut single from his new project, Public Image Ltd. His last words as Rotten were, “Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?”

Cheated by your manager. Cheated by your label. Cheated by your smack-addled murderer of a bass player. Cheated by the revolution that never was. Cheated by fans who wanted nothing more than a soundtrack for drunked, drugged-up mosh pits.

Lydon flips the script, announcing punk is over with a bruising bassline thundering over some exploratory soundcheck/reality check “hullos.” A farewell to Rotten/Sex Pistols/McLaren/Punk “Scene.” If his fans couldn’t be bothered to bootstrap a musical revolution, he’d just have to do it himself.

You never listen to a word that I said
You’ve only seen me
For the clothes that I wear
Or did the interest go so much deeper
It must have been
The colour of my hair

Public Image

What you wanted was never made clear
Behind the image was ignorance and fear
You hide behind this public machine
Still follow same old scheme

Public Image

Public image you got what you wanted
The Public image belongs to me
It’s my entrance
My own creation
My grand finale
My goodbye

[Yet another connection made only recently, although, to be fair, the Rough Diamonds compilation which contains this Pixies track is only a few years old… Still…]

Pixies – Hang Onto Your Ego

Public Image Ltd. – Public Image

Pixies – Ride the Tiger (Demo Version).mp3
Pixies – Ride the Tiger (Album Version).mp3

Since we’re already in a Pixies mood, let’s take two looks at the same track and the difference a great producer makes.

Let’s go ahead and clear the air: Steve Albini is an asshole. But he’s an uber-talented asshole who doesn’t glorify his own position. As is the case with most albums he’s produced, Albini credits himself with nothing more glamorous than “recording.” He knows what he’s looking for and he doesn’t fuck around.

There are plenty of anecdotes out there dealing with his “hands off” production technique. During the 1988 Surfer Rosa sessions, the most famous Albini-ism was his direction, which consisted of declaring things to be either “pussy” (in need of improvement) or “not pussy” (good to go).

So, listen closely to the two versions.

The demo version (taken from the Rough Diamonds compilation) runs nearly a minute longer. There’s a bit more space between the verses, giving Joey Santiago a chance to run through about a half-dozen ideas, casting liberal (for the Pixies) amounts of guitar squall/skronk here and there much like he did in “Vamos.”

The chorus and bridges linger for a bit too long, but that could just be 20+ years of hindsight speaking. All in all, a little unfocused but still a track that thousands of bands would kill to have in their catalogue, perfectly demonstrating the Pixies’ flawless command of the quiet/loud dynamic.

Now listen to the album version.

It is tight. Economical. No wasted effort anywhere. Santiago’s guitar scribblings are limited to propelling the song thru some lingering notes and restrained strumming. Pay special attention to the bridge between the first chorus and second verse, when he pulls the listener along on a thin strand of sustained feedback, using a couple of held notes to tie it all together and letting the rhythm section (and Kim’s backing vocals) do all the heavy lifting.

And Lovering’s drums. Those are definitely “not pussy.” It makes the drumming on the demo version seem so… serviceable. Of course, this may be nothing more than better miking and mastering, but that’s why a great producer is worth the $$$.

Of course, the song itself rocks hard, alternating between melodic and stormy, riding a metaphor from the Gaza Strip to the Cradle of Civilization.

Pixies – Ride the Tiger (Demo Version)

Pixies – Ride the Tiger (Album Version)

-CLT

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26 comments

  1. All this grunting, uh!!ing and whoring around in the first two tracks had me aroused. Hang Onto Your Ego snapped me out it as did Public Image. So, in Albini-speak: Bauhaus — not pussy. Pixies — pussy (sorta).

    Had the Pixies written Ride the Tiger in the last week, it could have gone down something like this:

    Float, float, float
    Float, float, float
    Float, float, float

    Activists here with sticks
    Out here near the Gaza Strip
    Fighting Israeli pricks

    Let’s ride the flotilla down toward Gaza

    Let’s ride the flotilla
    Let’s ride the flotilla down toward Gaza

    Let’s ride the flotilla
    Let’s ride the flotilla down toward Gaza

    Float, float, float
    Float, float, float
    Float, float, float

    Dead sea make it float
    Listen to Israelis whine
    Dead sea make you CHOKE!!

    Let’s ride the flotilla down toward Gaza

    Let’s ride the flotilla
    Let’s ride the flotilla down toward Gaza

    Let’s ride the flotilla
    Let’s ride the flotilla down toward Gaza

    Bash!! Whack!! Twack!!
    Let’s ride this flotilla!


    • Ha! Interesting rewrite there, e3h. The best thing about those protestors (beyond their ability to write a catchy tune) is that they never fail to bring a rock to a tank fight.

      Great stuff, e3h. This sort of rewritten “standard” should coax Alan Truitt out of self-imposed exile. It’s the kind of thing he does best. (Not counting self-exiling.)


  2. *Thwack!


  3. I got a real David Bowie meets The Doors feeling from Bauhaus, which was my favorite. The Pixies threw me off a bit, but not in a bad way. Great musical journey there, CLT. Thanks.


    • You’re probably more right than you think, Dan. Bauhaus definitely owed a thing or several to Bowie and the low-slung voice of Peter Murphy certainly helps with the Doors comparison, especially when the Doors themselves were prone to leap off in various semi-poetic, art-damaged tangents themselves.

      Thanks for riding along, Dan. Future posts should run much lighter, Pixies-wise, but they are my favorite band of all time so I can’t guarantee a complete removal.


    • I’m no Pixies expert by a long shot, but I’ve never heard a song of theirs that I didn’t like. It rather stuns me that I never bought one of their albums.

      Anyway, I got to say that I liked the demo version of Ride The Tiger better than the studio version. What can I say? I just prefer my sex messy. The studio version was still very good, but just a little too clean.

      Sorry. Did I say “I prefer my sex messy”? I meant to say “I prefer my sex messy”.

      Er…There I go again.


    • Well, you should probably rectify that, Sedate Me. Start with Doolittle or Surfer Rosa/

      Both versions have their merits, and Joey Santiago seems to be having a bit more fun in the demo. Besides, who wants clean, clinical sex/songs?


    • One thing I learned from Pixie Kim Deal’s twin sister, Kelley, was to never sign for a courier package, especially ones with heroin in them.


    • HA!

      Those hilarious Deal sisters and their unwashed hair! I suppose the heroin was used to cut down their cigarette intake to 1 pack/hr.


  4. Being thanked in advance for wading in actually prompted me to take the special care to read this more slowly than usual, over some days in fact…(which may also have something to do with my ‘sleep deprived mania’…!)
    In fact, I got so carried away with the ‘wordy’ Heavy Rotation that I have yet listen to all the tracks. I enjoy reading your musical thoughts, I love it when someone that puts that level of effort to capturing what they love in, or are interested in, in music, and this one, though word heavy, reads like a breeze.
    Highlights were the comparison of the Pixies demo vs post production, and reflections on the Public Image Ltd


    • Ruby –

      I’m so glad the advance thanks got us off on the right foot. I knew this one was a little overweight (at 1,300+ words) but I kind of got carried away with lyrics and rambling and trying to make some points that seemed rather obvious to me but might not make sense outside of my own head.

      Thanks for all the kind words and for making your way through what seems to be some sort of love letter to the Pixies. Which I guess it kinda is.


  5. Hey is my favorite Pixies song, edging out Gouge Away. Gouge Away is more Pixies than Pixies with its loud/quiet/loud formal, but Hey is unconventional from beginning to end. If you examine the song, it shouldn’t work. But it does, brilliantly.

    As you probably know, The Beach Boys did release I Know There’s An Answer on Pet Sounds, which is pretty much the same as Hang On To Your Ego. Sloop John B is the track from that album that never gets the credit it deserves.

    Don’t feel bad about blinding flashes of the obvious, CLT. It was only about a year ago that I discovered Bauhaus’ Telegram Sam was a T. Rex cover.


    • o/o –

      Great observation on Hey. It doesn’t have any of those key elements one would associate with a successful track, but nonetheless here it is, and it’s amazing. It’s got a very deliberate and quiet insistence to it that plays off the desperation in the lyrics. Plus, Black Francis loves words for how they sound and in this case, it all pays off.

      My favorite song is No. 13 Baby, which is very much unlike the Pixies as well. It does do a bit of the loud/quiet/loud, but it runs nearly 4 minutes long (epic by their standards) and it fades out (which they NEVER do). It just kind of grooves along to the fade, meaning it could go on forever but instead goes on just long enough.

      I was aware of the Beach Boys alteration. It seems that the “ego” lines were just not working/too out there. From what I can pick up, Brian’s acid damage was the problem, but a quick read of the lyrics seems more like an indictment than an existential release of yourself.

      Thanks for the reassurance on myopic hindsight, o/o. I’m feeling a little better now. (But seriously, 15+ years? Stupid brain.)


  6. Killer links followed by killer music, CLT!

    (Thankfully, the two killers cancel each other out, leaving me totally “not killed”.)


    • Hooray! Not dead!

      Glad you dug the whole thing, bschooled. Thanks for the visit.


  7. I love the Hyperbole girl, she is freaking hilarious!

    I’ve never told you my process for processing your Heavy Rotations. I open it first thing in the morning and let it marinate in a window until I eat some breakfast, during which I’ll play a song or two. Then, I’ll leave it until lunch again. See, I have this thing about listening to music only while I eat. So if you have a lot of songs on a particular posts you may stay open in a window until my first or second dinner. Maybe even my third dinner if I want to hear things again.

    Anyway this collection was a perfect compliment to my meals today. I loved Hang Onto Your Ego the best this time but it made me really miss Eggo’s. Or maybe it was only typing that that made me think of ‘leggo my Eggo’ and subsequently miss Eggo’s.


    • That is quite a process, Scott. If I’d known that you would only listen while eating, I would have started adding and subtracting tunes depending on whatever weight I thought you were currently at. Lord knows, one can’t have too many dinners. Or too many excellent tunes.

      My apologies on the Eggo thing. I realize that this will be an issue as long as you continue to live in a foreign country that fails to recognize Eggos as a viable breakfast, lunch or 3rd dinner food.


  8. This post couldn’t have come at a better time. Just the other day, I inquired of my Tumblr followers of any morbid/bleak/gothic sounding albums. I specifically referenced The Cure’s Pornography, but my only response was someone recommending some obscure death metal band. Imagine my delight when coming across these Bauhaus fellows! Very dark. They’re everything I was looking for. As for the Pixies, this post will also come in handy when I try to persuade my mother (Elizabeth3Hersh) into buying me tickets for the upcoming Pixies concert. I still can’t wrap my head around the fact that they’re coming to Las Vegas. Great bands NEVER come to Las Vegas. After all, the music scene here is dominated by angsty teenage boys with straightened hair and “snakebite” lip piercings. Timely post!!

    BTW, I’m posting this under my sister’s account.


    • You’ll love Bauhaus, bebe’s sister. They’ve all kinds of dark fun. Start out with any of their compilations for a quick overview. They tended to do better as a singles band, but the albums are highly recommended as well. (Grain of salt needed for “Burning From the Inside” which is pretty much 3 separate solo albums with Kevin Haskins drumming on all of them.)

      Also recommended for morbid/bleak/gothic:

      Joy Division – Substance
      Singles & b-side collection from one of the darkest bands in music. Hell, the lead singer committed suicide. Turned into New Order after that, but were still good while travelling in a very different direction…

      Shriekback – Oil and Gold
      Bits and pieces of the Gang of Four create some of the bleakest nihilism ever gouged onto wax. Some tracks rage, while others bleed out over minor chords.

      Sisters of Mercy – Floodland
      Perhaps their most theatric album (feel free to substitute “pompous”), “Floodland” is gothic writ large. RE: “This Corrosion” – 11 minutes of larger-than-life, sunglass-wearing-at-night, turn-up-and-scare-the-bejeezus-out-of-the-parents GOTH FUCKING ROCK. Big basslines stand out in a genre that usually considers a rhythm section to be an afterthought. Huge choral backing vocals.

      Jesus & Mary Chain – Darklands
      Less agressively anti-social than their debut while still retaining the lyrical snarls and bites. A deeply wounded record, played slowly over restrained distortion and (gasp!) some actual acoustic guitar. Like staring into the abyss and seeing yourself staring back.

      Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds – Let Love In; Murder Ballads
      More bluesy than anything else listed and prone to taking the piano out for a spin, Nick Cave and his Bad Seeds disappear inside projected psyches, conjuring up murders, rapists and quite frequently, Satan himself. If you like “Murder Ballads,” you’ll probably be willing to check out more of their catalogue.

      Best of luck with the Pixes tickets. I love the band and that should be reason enough for e3h to spring for tickets. Have I ever steered her wrong?


  9. MY EYES ARE AS BIG AS SAUCERS. I AM SMILING LIKE THE CHESHIRE CAT.

    Joy Division- Easily one of my top three favorite bands. Substance is fantastic. A friendly man at Barnes and Noble got me into them. New Order can never compare. Maybe I just don’t “get” them, but NOTHING compares to Ian’s deep baritone. I should add that I really loved New Order’s Movement, but it just gets cheesy from there. New Order lyrics….no comment….

    Shriekback- I’ve never heard of them, but that description has me sold. Bleak and nihilistic? Perfect.

    Sisters of Mercy- I am drooling. This sounds like Robert Smith meets Adam Lambert. At least, the THEATRICS of Adam Lambert. (My mother doesn’t believe me when I say his music is terrible.) I have my fingers crossed for organ playing and drawn-out, exaggerated moaning. I might play this album at high volumes to witness my mom’s reaction. I’ll have to exit the room with heavy eyeliner and a possessed look in my eyes.

    JAMC- I downloaded their entire discography the other day but I’ve only listened to Psychocandy. I’m now listening to Darklands. It’s much different than Psychocandy, but equally lovely. I feel like it’s oddly familiar/comforting and I can’t tell if this is because I’ve heard it or because of that “staring into the abyss” effect. Probably the latter.

    Nick Cave- Murder ballads! The only thing close that comes to mind is “Suffer Little Children” by The Smiths, but even that isn’t exactly a “murder ballad.” I’m looking forward to listening to this one. Maybe I can quote this album and scare my friends. (“Rachel, are you okay?”)

    Anyway, thank you very much for these recommendations! I am probably the only one of my friends who cares about the 1980s music scene so it’s refreshing to talk to someone who agrees with me.


    • You’re welcome, Rachel. Enjoy the music. Careful with Shriekback though. Their output (other than Oil and Gold) is very hit and miss.

      A couple of quotes (to scare parents and friends with):

      The Curse of Millhaven – Nick Cave

      Well, I confessed to all these crimes and they put me on trial
      I was laughing when they took me away
      Off to the asylum in an old black Mariah
      Well it ain’t home, but you know, it’s better than jail
      It ain’t such bad old place to have a home in
      La la-la-la, la la-la-lie
      All God’s children they all gotta die!

      Now I got shrinks that will not rest
      With their endless Rorschach tests
      I keep telling them that I think they’re out to get me
      They ask me if I feel remorse and I answer, “Why of course!
      There is so much more I could have done if they’d let me!”
      So it’s Rorschach and Prozac and everything is groovy
      La la-la-la, la la-la-lie
      All God’s children they all have to die

      Nemesis – Shriekback
      We feel like Greeks, we feel like Romans
      Centaurs and monkeys just cluster round us
      We drink elixirs that we refine
      from the juices of the dying
      We are no monsters, we’re moral people
      and yet we have the strength to do this
      This is the splendour of our achievement
      Call in the airstrike with a poison kiss

      Priests and cannibals, prehistoric animals
      Everybody happy as the dead come home
      Big black nemesis, parthenogenesis
      No-one move a muscle as the dead come home


  10. I risk tossing into the mix a song from a band that came out of the same British post-punk scene as Johnny Lyden’s Public Image. Actually, I think the drummer is/was a member of Public Image Ltd. This song is also about whoring. So, it arguably belongs here.

    The song comes from the ironically named 1978-81 band, The Pop Group, who were anything but. I can only imagine what kind of world in which The Pop Group would top the charts. They are, as they say, an “acquired taste” and are accordingly obscure. But I’ll bet my left nut members of The Dead Kennedys, Sonic Youth and Nine Inch Nails owned copies of Pop Group albums in their youth. Until a recent British TV show (Ashes to Ashes) featured their music and cover art, few who weren’t in the scene had ever heard of them. Oddly, they may be more popular now than ever and, like nearly all the other bands featured here, are supposedly reuniting.

    The Pop Group contained quite the variety of musical styles.(punk, funk, free-jazz, dub, noise music and dashes of disco and new wave). They didn’t simmer these styles into a stew, they put them in bumper cars and “had at it”. Groovy beats were interrupted with piercing noises and some songs just turned on a dime or stopped outright.

    The lyrics were a mix of very blunt political imagery, chants and rants (one song’s lyrics was an Amnesty International report) and/or vague poetry and most of them were shouted, screamed, punctuated with random wails, or sung as background wolf howls in what would otherwise seem an instrumental piece.

    In short, The Pop Group was the kind of band that, when you’re done listening, you say either “What the fuck was that shit?” or “What the fuck was that shit…and why did I like it?” Listening to their music, I keep getting the impression they were high school students who were often told they could get straight “A”s, if “only they applied themselves”…and laid off the drugs.

    “We All Prostitutes” – by The Pop Group


    • Spectacular write-up, SM. I’m familiar with the Pop Group thanks to the anonymous tipster, MEK, who shot me that track a few months ago. It’s caustically great stuff.


  11. Good plug for Mr. Cave. He is not a “sad old beanpole with a head full of charcoal,” as a snarky Cleopatra writer once put it. Also highly recommended is Mr. Cave’s cover of Lenard Cohen’s Tower of Song, which can be found on the I’m Your Fan album, and the album No More Shall We Part.

    If bleak is your thing and you have time on your hands, Godspeed! You Black Emperor’s F# A# (Infinity) is worth a listen. Tom Waits is great too, but not exactly bleak and definitely not gothic. He’s just old, drunk, and sad in way that makes angst seem trivial.


    • Those Cleopatra writers were awfully snarky for a second-hand label. I kid because I love of course, having bought many a Cleopatra compilation in my day. The snarkiest writer gave us the Goth Rock book, which slagged at least as many bands as it praised. Possibly more.

      I’ve given Godspeed… a few tries. Some stuff hits and others go sailing off in a cloud of nu-prog that leaves me wondering where the song went. Still, I keep at it because they come so highly recommended.

      Tom Waits is great stuff. He does great lyrics even if he can’t sing any better than Dylan.



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