The Record Collection: 1988 (41-50)

The album collection in chronological order from when it was bought. Revisited one at the time. Part 4.

Russ Tolman | Down In Earthquake Town | Demon 1988 |


This is the second solo effort from Russ Tolman, a close associate of the jangle/underground scene in Los Angeles and former frontman of True West. This paisley packed album includes a fine list of guests, such as Steve Wynn (they used to run the label Down There together), Dave Provost and Chris Cacavas, and engineering credits goes to Brett Gurewitz (Bad Religion, Epitaph). Tolman is a good, confident songwriter, and he crafted a varied and enjoyable album down in his earthquake town. It has aged rather well too, with its laidback feel and sunny LA vibe, rich instrumentation, including some mighty fine Southern horns it’s just one of those timeless albums that deserves far better than being swallowed in the sea of time.

Bruce Springsteen | Nebraska | CBS 1982 |


I listened a lot to Born in the U.S.A as a young kid, and know his catalog fairly well, but the lo-fi sounds of Nebraska remains my forever favorite. Not sure why I bought it in the fall of 1988, wasn’t a huge fan of Springsteen, but might be the cover art that appealed to me. Nebraska is actually my sole Springsteen LP in the collection and the one I always return to when I need some advice from the Boss.

E*I*E*I*O | Land of Opportunity | Demon 1985 |


This Wisconsin quartet played some mighty fine heartland Americana way before that was a hip term. There was nothing fancy about them, but on the other hand, this is one of those albums that never sounds outdated. Great vocals by frontman Steve Summers, strong songs throughout the whole album, and T-Bone Burnett lends some guitar assistance and co-production by Steve Berlin are just some of the treats on this debut. E*I*E*I*O fits nicely among likeminded peers such as BoDeans and Rave-Ups, but they never really got as recognized as deserved.

Thin White Rope | Moonhead | Frontier/Zippo 1987 |


Just as close to Television, Bauhaus and Joy Division than their contemporary counterparts in ’80s American underground (R.E.M, The Replacements, Pixies), Thin White Rope’s desert psychedelia was a far more vast and difficult creature to cast than most of their peers. Their second album Moonhead is a somber, bleak masterpiece, allowing for more space, tension and dark power than on their debut. Moonhead is one of the lost classics of the decade, once flourishingly described by British psych-guru Julian Cope: “[Guy] Kyser mumbles stripped down considerations about life, sex and death, and he seems a scientist who describes microscopic life forms. Mankind is reduced to puppet-like dimensions: around us, there’s an enigmatic, useless, obscure universe, apparently enemy of any feeling and thought.” For sure! It was a huge favorite 30 years ago, and it has followed me all my adult life without losing an inch of its majestic strength.

Giant Sand | Ballad of a Thin Line Man | Zippo 1986 |


Back in 1988, 30 years ago, I was still fooling around with music, everything was new and of interest, heading in all kinds of directions at the same time even though I was pretty much already set on the American underground train. I had already bought Storm a couple months prior to Ballad of a Thin Line Man, but it was here they turned into my forever favorite band. And just like I was searching for my musical bliss at the time – still am – Howe Gelb and his Giant Sand had just started to stake out their own course – still are, and that it was one of the reasons I love em. They would go on to make better albums later on I guess, but this one still holds a special place in my sandy heart.

The Gun Club | Miami | Animal 1982 |


‘Come down to, the willow garden with me’ Jeffrey Lee Pierce invites us to Miami, but we steer off the highway and enter into his dark mind, the willow gardens and deep into the very heart of Gothic American mythology. ‘Miami’ is a swampy blues album built on a punkish attitude, draped in voodoo rituals, deserted honky tonks and desperate fever. It has been a big favorite for 30 years, loved for the cover alone with its emerald-green sky and the palms raising majestic behind the trio in front of the image. Two of them look at something in the horizon; Pierce is dressed in dark, hair-dyed blonde, looking down to the ground. I’ve always linked this album to Jim Jarmusch’ ‘Stranger Than Paradise’, following a shabby trio through the Midwest and down to a run down tourist hub in Miami. There is not much paradise to find here, nor in Jeffrey Lee Pierce’ postcard from the south. But it is one damned journey.

Various artists | Rockabilly Psychosis and the Garage Disease | Big Beat 1984 |


I was a huge fan of Tales From the Crypt, Haunt of Fear and all the other early 1950s horror and gore stories from EC Comics (republished in the 80s). This album cover – and they mattered a whole lot back then – is a homage to the wicked and wild era of degenerate fun. And so is the music, a really cool collection of, well, rockabilly psychosis and the garage disease.

Mojo Nixon & Skid Roper | Frenzy | Restless/Enigma 1986 |


This San Diego based twosome was never about being too serious. Titles like “Gonna Put My Face on a Nuclear Bomb”, “I’m Living With a Three-Foot Anti-Christ” and “The Amazing Bigfoot Diet” says it all. They were hilarious and heartfelt, and they rocked big time with their infectious rockabilly blues. Mojo is hollering his lungs out while Skid is jamming on the washboard. There is just loads of party fun here, I’ve always had a soft spot for the satirical highlight and more mellow “Feeling Existential” with Steve Wynn on guest vocal:
‘Your goatee is growin’
In front of your fake French café
You’re readin’ Kirkegaard
Underneath your very black beret
Smokin’ filterless Camels
That stink just like Gitanes
Drinkin’ some espresso
Droppin’ all the names’

Giant Sand | Valley of Rain | Amazing Black Sand/Enigma 1985 |


Bought in October, anywhere 1988, my third Giant Sand LP that year, and one of the albums I’ve listened to the most my entire life. 30 years down the road I’m still amazed by how cool it is. Little did I know that these desert punks would soon blossom into something totally unique and follow me close until this very day. One of those random love stories I guess. A nice landscape, indeed…

The Beat Farmers | Tales Of The New West | Demon 1985 |

Here’s to having a good time, new western style. The Beat Farmers might came just a bit too early for the alt.country craze, but who cares. The San Diego based quartet’s debut album is packed with unpretentious, tight and fun songs. Great originals, cool covers and then there’s Country Dick Montana.
‘I was walkin’ down the street on a sunny day
Hubba hubba hubba hubba hubba
A feeling in my bones that I’ll have my way
Hubba hubba hubba hubba hubba
Well I’m a happy boy (happy boy)
Well I’m a happy boy (happy boy)’
There’s really nothing do but to raise the glass and sing along.

Reklamer

The Record Collection: 1988 (31-40)

The album collection in chronological order from when it was bought. Revisited one at the time. Part 3, Spring 1988.

Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers | It’s Time For… | Rough Trade 1986 |

This album is summer to me. To be just about sixteen and hear “Just About Seventeen” for the first time was just about right on time. I immediately fell for Richman’s naive and almost childlike qualities, but behind the immediate charm are somber songs (“Ancient Long Ago”, “When I Dance”, “The Desert”) with enduring qualities lasting way past being seventeen and well into adulthood. This album still evokes the endless summer days of youth.

The Legendary Stardust Cowboy | Rock-It To Stardom | Big Beat 1985 |


Yee-haw, this is a way out rodeo ride from the cattle ranch to outer space and back by the one and only Legendary Stardust Cowboy from Lubbock, Texas. “Paralyzed” is the obvious novelty hit here; jaw-dripping hilarious and remarkably addictive. The Ledge made some wild rockabilly/psychobilly stuff back in the days, sometimes out of tune – “Who’s Knocking On My Door!” barely holds together and “Fly Me to the Moon” is, well, let’s say a bit weirder than Sinatra’s smooth version. “I Walk a Hot Wind” wouldn’t be totally off on a Cramps-album, and so it goes. Rock-it to Stardom is one helluva joyride even though it’s a bit overwhelming to digest all at once. Bowie was a fan and a friend, and supposedly invented Ziggy Stardust based on this here cowboy. The Ledge is still out there; whooping and a hollering to the moon.

Various artists | Don’t Shoot | Zippo/Demon 1986 |


Americana or alt.country were not frequently used terms when these (mainly) L.A cowpunks came riding into town. This collection serves as a great introduction to the scene, including core figures from bands like The Long Ryders, Green on Red, The Rain Parade, Giant Sand and many others doing a fine mix of covers and originals. Danny & Dusty kicks the whole thing off with previously unreleased “Bend in the Road”, the outlaw brotherhood anthem is still the highlight from an album filled with delightful neon dust from the sunset highway.

Dead Kennedys | Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables | Cherry Red 1981 |
Dead Kennedys | Plastic Surgery Disasters | Alternative Tentacles 1982 |
Dead Kennedys | Bedtime For Democracy | Alternative Tentacles 1986 |
Dead Kennedys | Give Me Convenience or Give Me Death | Alternative Tentacles 1987 |


In the summer of 1988 a friend of mine sold his LP’s when switching over to CD. I couldn’t afford buying a whole lot, but I managed to get hold of four albums by Dead Kennedys and almost completed their catalogue in one big swoop. Hit packed Fresh Fruit… and Give Me Convenience… became instant faves, and turned me on to a long and lasting relationship with not only Jello Biafra but to all the tentacles of the Alternative Tentacles universe. I learned a lot from the Kennedys, approving their anger and enjoying their satire. In the era of the Trump Empire a band like Dead Kennedys is sorely missed, even though much of their socio-political message is just as relevant today.

The Replacements | Pleased To Meet Me | Sire 1987 |


The transition from being a underground punk to gain mainstream fame reached its zenith with ‘Nevermind’ topping the charts in the early 90s. But the road to Nirvana started some years before, and The Replacements is a prime example of this journey (they even got their own “Never Mind” here). This is of course mockingly illustrated with the cover art, and in the music. Without losing sight of their punk roots in Minneapolis, this is the sound of a band growing up and – under the supervision of Jim Dickinson in Memphis – entangling deeper and wider than ever before. The Replacements were never about perfection, faults and flaws played an integral part of their sound and was something they built their entire recording career on. But they never sounded so imperfectly perfect as on Pleased To Meet Me. I’m still listening, looking at the stars and dreaming of the skyway.

Motor Boys Motor | Motor Boys Motor | Albion 1982 |


Taking their name from Joe Strummer’s 101’s song, Motor Boys Motor made just one album before guitarist Bill Carter and bassist Chris Thompson formed the Screaming Blue Messiahs. They were children of the pub rock craze, spiced up with avant rock influences (Beefheart, Pere Ubu) and R&B/blues roots. Some cool moments here and there, some silly ones (“Here Come the Flintstones”), they never really surpass the killer opening track “Drive Friendly” and never got quite as hazardous as the striking cover art.

deLillos | Suser avgårde | Sonet 1986 |


Det må ha vært sommeren 1985. Jeg hørte fast på Ungdommens Radioavis på den tiden – mediemangfoldet var noe begrenset – og den sommeren spilte de låtene fra rockemønstringen på høy rotasjon. Jeg husker ikke så mange av de andre finalistene, men «Siste sommerferiedag» med deLillos festet seg umiddelbart – den traff nok en dypt iboende melankolsk nerve – og ble min favorittlåt det året. Jeg satt hjemme og ventet på at den kanskje skulle komme, hver lørdag tror jeg det var, for det var ingen andre muligheter enn å sitte foran radioen og vente. Litt senere hørte jeg «Johnny Fredrik» og så viste Halvsju videoen til «Tøff i pyjamas», og sammen med Jokke ble deLillos mitt første og største norske favorittband. Suser avgårde er den eneste LP-platen i samlingen som jeg faktisk kjøpte først på CD – i 1987 må det ha vært, deretter på nytt igjen på LP året etter. Uansett format, ‘Suser avgårde’ er en fantastisk bra plate, fri for dødpunkter, som hver gang gjenskaper følelsen av ungdom og sommer, der naivisme og uskyld møter gryende voksenalvor og usikkerhet. Jeg var allerede godt kjent med musikken til R.E.M, The Chills og Jonathan Richman, og det var først og fremst i denne musikalske tradisjonen deLillos hørte hjemme i mitt hode. Men de sang på norsk, og de talte til meg uten omveier. Det var ikke noe jeg heller ville bli enn en forsoffen student som flanerte langs brosteinslagte bygater, gå på fester med søte piker og drøssevis av vinkasser, ja bare suse avgårde inn i livet.