The Record Collection: 1988 (61-71)

My album collection, presented in chronological order from when it was bought from January 1988 – revisited one at the time. This is the final round from 1988.

Green On Red | Here Come The Snakes | Red Rhino 1988 |

What comes after the blues? Green on Red went down to Memphis to figure it out, and teamed up with producers Jim Dickinson and Joe Hardy at Ardent. Only a duo at the time, leaving Dan Stuart and Chuck Prophet as core members, this album digs deep down in the American soil of country, blues and rock & roll and ends up somewhere between The Rolling Stones and Neil Young, where the three songs at the tail end of the album shines particularly strong. Here Come The Snakes might lack the youthful innocence and camaraderie of their previous efforts, but it sure adds another value. Something more severe.

The band members reconciled some years later, but dark shadows looms over Green on Red at this point in their career.

Various artists | Welcome to Comboland | Making Waves 1986 |

North Carolina must’ve been a joyous place to live in the 1980s, judged by the friendly atmosphere and cheerful indie presented on this compilation. Or perhaps it’s just a reminder of less cynical times, a time of less tension and a more laidback attitude. Or maybe it’s because of Don Dixon, being largely responsible for producing many of the bands presented here. His jangly signature sounds permeate the album of twelve artists from the state. The Connells are probably most remembered of these bands today, however, I urge everyone to grab a copy of this sampler. Just for you to enjoy forty-two minutes of Southern hospitality, including prime acts like Southern Culture on the Skids, Fetchin’ Bones and The Spongetones.

Naked Prey | Naked Prey | Down There 1984 |

The 1984 debut album from Tucson outlaws Naked Prey is a raw and ragged exploration of an acid drenched southwestern mythology at the crossroads of garage rock and country punk. Fronted by the one and only Van Christian, with lovely guitar work by David Seger. Produced by Dan Stuart, Steve Wynn and great cover shot by Scott Garber, this is a supergroup in my book.

Giant Sand | The Love Songs | Demon 1988 |

We are all things at different times. This album made such an impact on me that I convinced my pal to buy a ‘66 Barracuda. I still remember how we cruised down the road under a fingernail moon, while the pine trees transformed into cactuses, counting stars like neon lights from down the mud to way up sky. The car eventually got sold, but the The Love Songs still thrones up there as a one of my dearest favorite albums of all time. ‘Your passion is like world war three/my defense is a crumbling NATO.’ I mean, what’s not to love?

Jane’s Addiction | Nothing’s Shocking | Warner 1988 |

So, this was pretty mind-blowing stuff 30 years ago. It’s not quite as shocking today, but the cover art alone, the conjoined twins with their heads on fire, sets the tone for an ambitious and powerful album. Jane’s Addiction managed to unify punk, funk and metal into something cutting-edge and timeless. Nothing’s Shocking paved way for so much of the grunge craze to come, but this is smarter, more arty and engaging than most of them.

Thin White Rope | In the Spanish Cave | Frontier 1988 |

In the Spanish Cave is a tad brighter and varied than its predecessors. Ranging from almost joyous tunes (“Mr. Limpet”) to bulldozing guitar assaults (“It’s OK”), it features their most beloved song, the epic desert anthem “Red Sun.” In a thorough review celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2013, The Quietus points out how they created an alien take on the unfathomable vastness of the American landscape and its effects on the nation’s psyche, and how they used this landscape, not as representing a sense of freedom, but as an area of something uncanny and unsettling, summing up the album as a “potent, fantastical window onto a malign new phase of the American Dream.” Needless to say, this is one of my favorite albums of all time.

Creedence Clearwater Revival | Cosmo’s Factory | Fantasy 1970 |

‘They’re selling independence/Actors in the white house/Acid in digestion/Mortgage on my life..’ With all their standards and ballads on daily adult radio rotation, it’s often easy to forget how insanely cool CCR actually was. “Ramble Tamble” sounds like something The Cramps and The Dream Syndicate could’ve cooked up together a decade later, with the breezy mid-section as one of this album’s standout moments. But there’s a lot more gold here; “Run Through The Jungle” and the lengthy “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” are particularly great – and most of the other songs are established as beloved rock classics.

Hüsker Dü | Candy Apple Grey | Warner 1986 |

Signing a band like Hüsker Dü on a major label must’ve been a rather bold move back in 1986. But in hindsight this was a prophesy of new times for American alternative guitar rock, and soon bands like R.E.M, Dinosaur Jr. and The Replacements moved from indies to major – without losing their former edge. The Hüskers was constantly developing from underground punks to something far more diverse and mature, and in many ways Candy Apple Grey is the culmination of a journey they’d started on with ‘Zen Arcade’ only two years prior. It’s nothing but amazing to look back at their astonishing intense production and rapid progression, and no wonder they were about to burn out and implode just a year or so later. Candy Apple Grey gives us some of their finest songs, including “Don’t Want To Know If You’re Lonely”, “Sorry Somehow” and acoustic “Hardly Getting Over It.” What a truly great band they were.

True West | Hollywood Holiday | New Rose 1983 |

True West belonged to a group of likeminded 1980s Los Angeles bands dubbed ‘Paisley Underground’, along with The Dream Syndicate, The Bangles, The Long Ryders, The Rain Parade and others. It’s a shame that they’re largely ignored today, cause not only were True West the quintessential paisley band, a missing link between ’60s garage rock, trippy psychedelia (they do a mighty fine version of Pink Floyd’s “Lucifer Sam”) and Televison (check out “It’s About Time”), this album holds up very well compared to many of their peers efforts and is a lost classic of ’80s guitar rock. A little while ago I named Drifters (1984) their masterpiece, but after another couple of listenings to Hollywood Holiday I must reconsider that statement. Man, I’d completely forgotten what a tremendous album this is, from start to finish. I love the frantic guitar work between Russ Tolman and Richard McGrath on the almost Gun Club-like “I’m Not Here” and songs like “And Then The Rain” and “Throw Away The Key” would’ve been hits in the hands of R.E.M. Hollywood Holiday is produced by Russ Tolman (he later went on and made a great, still ongoing solo career) and The Dream Syndicate’s Steve Wynn. They knew each other very well as members of The Suspects, the short lived band they shared with Kendra Smith, later in the first incarnation of The Dream Syndicate and Gavin Blair, lead singer of True West.

Thin White Rope | Exploring The Axis | Frontier/Zippo 1985 |

Thin White Rope never really fit into the categories used to brand guitar dominated rock in the 1980s. They were too harsh to be labeled as jangle, too loud for the emerging alternative country movement and too dark to fit into the flowery Paisley Underground. Just as close to Television, Bauhaus and Joy Division than their more successful 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. Out of time back in the day, they are timeless in hindsight. Thin White Rope immediately introduced their main modus operandi. The first song off their first album, Exploring the Axis, is something of a surreal country-noir story entitled “Down in the Desert,” about a guy called Karl who headed south and came back changed by his experiences in the desert. (“Karl came back and he works and he smiles/But if you look closely there’s still something scared in his eyes…”) Based out in the Northern California university town of Davis, Thin White Rope often returned to the desert as a recurring trope in their songs, both emotionally and musically. “Soundtrack,” from the same album, also laid a sonic foundation for what to come later; their ability to let an austere tune about alienation (“Windshields are like TV screens/I’m not involved at all”) explode into a ferocious assault as a sneering Guy Kyser goes full Mad Max (“She throws firebombs on the highway/Glass splashing and bushes burning”), revealing a band with a constant underlying rage – a beast they sometimes tamed, sometimes let loose.

Oh yes, they held us in a firm grip out on that ledge, but one also softened with beautiful melodies and a sense of melancholia and human kindness; elements that would be more prominent later on in their career.

The Dream Syndicate | Ghost Stories | Enigma 1988 |

Ghost Stories is the fourth and final studio full-length album from The Dream Syndicate, until they finally returned after a 30-year long hiatus in 2017. Fronted by lead singer and songwriter Steve Wynn, The Dream Syndicate managed to keep a consistent and recognizable style all through the 1980s, but every album has its own distinct personality: The untamed ferocity of the 1982 debut, an album they’ll always be measured against, the grandiose and ambitious sophomore show, and their underrated third album, when they came out of the grey with upbeat breeziness. Produced by Elliot Mazer, ‘Ghost Stories’ ties together all this greatness into an album that sounds better and rocks harder than ever before. Wynn once described the album to me as “dark, noisy, and bratty but its also quite self-assured and not undone by production – neither too little nor too much.” He forgot to mention that the songwriting is ace throughout, there’s not a weak track here and Ghost Stories is one mighty, classic slice of 1980s guitar rock. Just hear the opening verse and try to turn off: “Every cloud has a silver lining/Every down has an answer, I know/But in my heart there’s no light shining/Just emptiness and faded glow/Raining down on the side I’ll never show…”

The Record Collection: 1988 (1-20)

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

Fetchin Bones | Bad Pumpkin | Capitol 1986 |

Underrated and sadly forgotten North Carolina quintet combining a kind of Southern jangly vibe with restless proto-grunge. They supported R.E.M and the B-52’s, whom they both are sonically related to. This is their second album, marking their move from small db Records to a major label without losing their spark. Rather this LP still holds up thanks to careful production by Don Dixon and tight songs throughout the record. And Hope Nicholls was a great singer back then, and she still is.

Ben Vaughn Combo | The Many Moods of Ben Vaughn | Restless/Making Waves 1986 |

‘I got a 1969 Rambler American/Baby aren’t you impressed/Sure I could have a Datsun 280 Z/But I’m not like all the rest’ Ben Vaughn blends humor and wit with classic American music; rock’n’roll, rockabilly and country twang. He’s been doing his thing since the early 1980’s, and has released albums better than this during his long career. But Vaughn and his Combo had such an irresistible charm on songs like “I’m Sorry (But So Is Brenda Lee)”, “I Dig You Wig” and “Wrong Haircut” that makes his debut album still a treat to listen to.

The Dream Syndicate | This Is Not The New Dream Syndicate Album… Live! | A&M 1984 |

Recorded live at the Aragon in Chicago one hot July night in 1984, when The Dream Syndicate toured on ‘The Medicine Show’ (released a month prior) with R.E.M. Only five songs long, but these are all classics – from a band in blistering shape. The classic line up of Steve Wynn, Dennis Duck, guitarist Karl Precoda on his last album with the Syndicate, and newcomer Mark Walton. Tommy Zvoncheck guests on keys, but this performance is first and foremost about four guys and great songs; long jams, feedback orgies and the joy of a sweaty club night. That’s rock and roll.

Guadalcanal Diary | 2×4 | Elektra/Asylum 1987 |

Producer Don Dixon is synonymous with some of the finest guitar rock of the 1980s, with a jangly signature sound that mainly captured the spirit of Southern indie and mostly known for his work with early R.E.M. Guadalcanal Diary, also from Georgia, never earned the same levels of commercial success. A new listen to the hands down masterpiece ‘2×4’ serves as a reminder on how that is just unfair. They shared some obvious similarities, but this quartet had a more direct and extrovert approach to their songwriting. This is their finest moment, an energetic and eclectic set of pure excellent songs.

The Screaming Blue Messiahs | Bikini Red | Elektra 1987 |

London based Screaming Blue Messiahs rose from the ashes of Motor Boys Motor (named after a 101’ers tune) exposing a crew owing debt to the likes of Bo Diddley, Little Richard and Captain Beefheart. With some adjustments to the line-up, the smokin’ trio was finally settled as the highly skilled outfit of Bill Carter on guitar and vocals, Chris Thompson on bass and Kenny Harris on thundering drums. Soon after they were renamed the Screaming Blue Messiahs. The Vic Maile produced ‘Bikini Red’ saw the band dwelling even deeper into iconic American pop and trash culture. Complete with references to Elvis, cars, booze, TV evangelists and fast living, the music itself proves an amalgam of rockabilly, rhythm & blues, hillbilly and surf fronted by Bill Carter who (with an American accent) declared that “Jesus Chrysler Drives a Dodge,” “I Can Speak American” and even “I Wanna Be a Flintstone.

Various artists | I Was A Teenage Zombie | Enigma 1987 |

Still haven’t seen the movie, but suspect the soundtrack is superior to the comedy-horror flick. This is a decent selection with some of the finest indie artists of the time picked from the Enigma roster. The db’s, Smithereens, and Los Lobos are all in here, and the Fleshtones got a minor hit with the theme song. The highlights are Violent Femmes’ “Good Feeling” and The Dream Syndicate with the haunting masterpiece “Halloween.”

R.E.M | Chronic Town | I.R.S 1982
R.E.M | Murmur | I.R.S 1983 |
R.E.M | Reckoning | I.R.S 1984 |

I discovered R.E.M with ‘Life’s Rich Pageant’ as a 13-14 year old kid, and immediately fell in love, not only with R.E.M but in alternative American guitar rock in general. So when I finally switched over from cassettes to LP’s in 1988, purchasing their back catalog was obviously a high priority. One lucky day I went home with ‘Chronic Town’, ‘Murmur’ and ‘Reckoning’ bought from a friend, meaning days and weeks of deep listening. Humming along to barely recognizable lyrics. R.E.M might went on to release better albums later in their career, but these three albums, they’re all equal to me, really captures all I love about them. And they still sound as adventurous and amazing as they did on that February day in 1988.

Green On Red | Gas Food Lodging | Enigma 1985 |

Green On Red released nothing but excellent albums between 1982-88, and some great moments in the years after. This is the band in its prime; Dan Stuart, Big Dog MacNicol (RIP), Jack Waterson, Chuck Prophet and Chris Cacavas made one helluva great line up, supported with fine production from Paul B. Cutler of the Dream Syndicate. From the blazing opener ‘That’s What Dreams’ to the campfire version of ‘We Shall Ocercome’, this is rootsy ragged rock at it’s finest, but side 2 with ‘Sixteen Ways’, ‘The Drifter’ and ‘Sea Of Cortez’ are particular standouts. Heck, all of them are.

Thin White Rope | Bottom Feeders | Zippo/Frontier 1988|

Not too many bands can boast a recorded history without any major flaws. But Northern California’s Thin White Rope are one of those. They made great studio albums throughout, well known for their even more ferocious live shows of massive wall of guitars and bulldozer sound. The group never really fit into the categories used for branding guitar dominated rock in the 1980s. Thin White Rope were too harsh to be labeled as jangle, too loud for the emerging alternative country movement and too dark to fit into the flowery Paisley Underground. ‘Bottom Feeders’ is an EP of four originals and two covers (Jimmy Reed’s “Ain’t That Loving You Baby” and highlighted with a blistering live version of Suicide’s “Rocket USA”) and tucked between the bleak masterpieces ‘Moonhead’ and astonishing ‘In The Spanish Cave’. But there’s no reason to ignore this little beast of chainsaw guitars, raspy vocal and spooky vibes. Great cover art by Steve Blickenstaff.

The Dead Kennedys | Frankenchrist | Alternative Tentacles 1985 |

In an ideal world, songs about corrupt government, robots replacing the working class, suburban decay and structural racism would be of out of date some 30 years down the line. Alas, as we all know, the topics raised on ‘Frankenchrist’ are more relevant than ever. “No wonder others hate us/And the Hitlers we handpick/To bleed their people dry/For our evil empire”, Biafra sings on the album standout ‘Stars and Stripes of Corruption’ like an omen for the presidency and leadership in 2018. ‘Frankenchrist’ might lack the immediate punk anthems of its predecessors, but musically this is also Kennedy’s best and most diverse album, where they expanded their punk roots and embraced a far more eclectic sound to include surf, Latin, psychedelic and synth elements. The album is mostly remembered for the massive controversy that followed, when the band was brought to court – and to their knees – due to the inlay poster ‘Penis Landscape’ by H.R Giger. Such fools, when the real concern should’ve been on solving the real problems outlined here. ‘Frankenchrist’ is an underrated gem in the band’s catalog.

The Replacements | Let it Be | Twin/Tone / Zippo 1984 |

This is just the ultimate album when you’re 16 and life to go. The Replacements’ combination of restless energy and slacker attitude, teen angst and drunken confidence hit like a bomb when I bought ‘Let It Be’ in 1988, and it became the soundtrack into adolescence. “How young are you?/How old am I?/Let’s count the rings around my eyes” is just an ace opening statement into an album packed with classic coming of age tunes miles ahead from their previous more punk based efforts, sometimes like a mix of the Stones’ swagger and ‘Born to Run’ era Springsteen. The album cover is perfect too, remember how I just wanted to climb that roof and squeeze in between these four hoodlums from Minneapolis.

Green On Red | Gravity Talks | Slash 1983 |

I first heard Green On Red on the ‘Slash Cuts’ compilation, where “Five Easy Pieces” was a standout. Driven by Chris Cacavas’ psychedelic keyboard swirls and Dan Stuart’s snarling vocals, the band found their own place in their infancy combining 60’s garage/psychedelia and Dylanesque folk-rock. Gravity Talks is a very fine document of this epoch, provided by a bunch of clever outlaw kids from Arizona still not sure about where to go. I love the nervous desperation that hangs over the whole album, a youthful energy impossible to replicate later in a career. ‘We don’t pretend to know everything or speak out loud like our parents did’, Stuart sings on the anthemic “Brave Generation”, name checking Fitzgerald and Faulkner on a coming of age story of growing up between the Vietnam war and Cold War anxiety: ‘We’re not beat, we’re not hip, we’re the Brave Generation, what a trip.’

The Del Fuegos | Boston Mass | Slash 1985 |

Yet another album bought off the ‘Slash Cuts’ compilation I guess. There was nothing hip or super fancy about the Del Fuegos in 1988, still aren’t. But their basic and credible urban heartland rock ‘n’ roll has some strong timeless qualities – and time has fared rather well with this one, their second album. Fronted by the Zanes’ brothers and produced by Mitchell Froom, Del Fuegos’ hammered out a couple of easy to like bar room and streetwise backroad tunes – equally perfect for both purposes (not at the same time though). This is the ‘sound of our town’, that’s the sound of Boston, Mass all right.

The Dream Syndicate | Medicine Show | A&M 1984 |

Following their raucous debut full length, The Dream Syndicate signed with a major label, teamed up with renowned producer Sandy Pearlman (Blue Öyster Cult, The Dictators, The Clash) and spent five months in the studio to finish their Medicine Show. It was met with various receptions at the time, but has gained favorable to classical status over the years. Pearlman and Syndicate shaped a far different sound for this album, more related to Television, The Cars and Neil Young than Velvet Underground. This is American gothic stories filled with some of Steve Wynn’s most memorable characters on songs like “Burn”, “Armed With An Empty Gun” and “Bullet With My Name On It.” But the panoramic widescreen vision reveals in its full on side 2: The title track, the blistering jam “John Coltrane Stereo Blues” and “Merritville” are all epic and has deservedly so become standards in the band’s catalogue. Medicine Show was obtained at a time when learning the lyrics was part of buying an album. I memorized all of these songs by heart, and they’re still holding on to me.

Hüsker Dü | Warehouse: Songs And Stories | Warner 1987 |

Could have been the one to boast Zen Arcade or New Day Rising as my entry points to Hüsker Dü, but as it happened their swan song Warehouse: Songs and Stories became my gateway album. I discovered them without any anticipation or deep knowledge about their astonishing back catalogue. I was just thrown into this sprawling sonic assault of thin fuzz, frenetic pace and way to clever poetry for a kid my age. It was almost too much. I guess the sheer intensity and emotional depth did resonate very well at the time. And the songs are catchy as hell. I didn’t care to much about the front cover though, but adored the back cover; those three weird and average looking guys laying on the grass surrounded by psychedelic blasts. 30 years down the road it still sounds like an amalgam of 60’s pop anthems filtered through a punk psychedelic odyssey, I particularly recall “Ice Cold Ice”, “Could You Be the One” and especially “She Floated Away” being played nonstop. Warehouse: Songs And Stories is a breathtaking kaleidoscopic soundtrack of youth, the sound of a band that had finally grown up – but also a band that were falling apart. In the end, I guess everything does.

The Del-Lords | Johnny Comes Marching Home | EMI America 1986 |

Of all the albums bought in my pioneer days, this is the one I probably know the least. I don’t recall the actual purchase, nor the songs in detail. So with a bit of excitement I drop the needle and press play. Just like the first time. The archetypal 80s sound aside, time has fared rather well with Johnny. The cover doesn’t lie. These four tough, denim and leather dressed New York guys could’ve been lifted straight outta ‘American Graffiti’, cruising down the main drag and looking for trouble at the soda shop while hanging round the jukebox. And it’s pretty much that kind of music they make; no nonsense rock rooted directly back to the 1950s with a modernized and radio friendly sound – and some nice parts of chiming Byrds-like guitars. Not bad at all, formerly Dictators’ and front man Scott Kempner is a great songwriter and assembled a more than decent cast of characters, including Eric ‘Roscoe’ Ambel, for The Del-Lords. Sometimes all we need is to rock out, have a good time and don’t worry too much. The sound of carefree times has no expiration date.

Danny & Dusty | The Lost Weekend | A&M 1985 |

When you’re 15-16, life’s at the crossroads. Your path is not yet set, there are choices to be made; sports, school, or well, smoking and drinking. Now, I’ll never blame Danny & Dusty for leading me down the wrong road, but those two fellas on the cover sure seems to have a good time! Who doesn’t wanna join in on their drunken choir? And Danny & Dusty sounds just like a couple friends having the time of their lives. It certainly helps when they happened to be Dan Stuart and Steve Wynn, joined by a fine group of likeminded ramblers from The Long Ryders and Green On Red/The Dream Syndicate. They dropped most of their gloomy credibility and pretensions outside and entered the bar with nothing but good intentions: to sing, drink, shoot stories, long on talk and short on cash, and drink some more. ‘One’s too many, and a hundred’s not enough’ as they say in the legendary movie The Lost Weekend (I watched it immediately after buying the album.) The result is loose and spontaneous, but not too sloppy, rather it’s rowdy, confident and has actually aged very well. The songs are great, from when the word is out until we knock on heavens door begging for hangover relief on Sunday. Chris Cacavas is perfect as the barroom pianist, Dan and Steve know how to tell stories about winners and losers in the shadow of the Hollywood neon glimmer. Lebowski might be the dude, but these guys, they were the real dudes.

The Cramps | Psychedelic Jungle | I.R.S. 1981 |

‘Primitive, that’s how I live.’ Lux Interior holler and howls all the way through ‘Psychedelic Jungle.’ The Cramps’ second album is onehelluva slow burning garbage crate digging bonanza of 1950s sleaze and dark shades, a wild, weird and wicked entry to a world of voodoo rockabilly, haunted garage rock and deranged punk. I discovered the band, as far as I remember, with a live version of “Sunglasses After Dark” played on radio, and was immediately hooked. I don’t play this too often though, must’ve been years since I was reminded to not eat stuff from the sidewalk

Year of the Rooster: Retroåret 2017

Fortiden blir lengre for hvert år. I 2017 har det kommet så mange flotte reutgivelser og samlinger at man nesten ikke trenger å høre på ny musikk. Vel, bare nesten da. Vi har feiret at Bob Seger og Yoko Ono, for å ta to vidt forskjellige artister som eksempel, har kommet på plass i de digitale platehyllene, men aller viktigst var selvsagt at hele katalogen til ECM nå endelig er tilgjengelig i sin fulle bredde. Kvalitetsgarantister som Numero, Strut og Light in the Attic, og vår hjemlige Runde 2, bidrar til å pumpe ut gull fra arkivene, og eldre utgivelser blir til stadighet støvpusset og nylansert. Dette er mine fem favoritter fra retroåret 2017:

Hüsker Dü: Savage Young Dü

Numero er alltid en kvalitetsgaratist, og markerer sitt katalognummer 200 med praktboksen Savage Young Dü der de dokumenterer den tidlige fasen til Hüsker Dü. Her får du 69 låter, derav 47 tidligere uutgitte, som følger Minnesota-trioen fra den spede begynnelsen i 1979 og fram til de signet med SST i 1983. Dette er en viktig og fullverdig dokumentasjon av et band som utviklet seg fra ubehøvlet punkrock til et av de aller mest sentrale bandene i framveksten av den amerikanske undergrunnsscenen. Savage Young Dü høres digitalt, men nytes også i fysisk format i kraft av en massiv og godt illustrert bok.

Lal & Mike Waterson: Bright Phoebus

Nydelig remastering og reutgivelse av et særs vanskelig tilgjengelig album, opprinnelig utgitt i 1972. I tillegg til the Watersons ble innspillingen gjestet av nær sagt halve den britiske folk-scenen på 70-tallet: Martin Carthy, Richard Thompson, Ashley Hutchings, Dave Mattacks, Tim Hart og Maddy Prior er alle med her, på en plate som jevnlig og rettmessig beskrives som ‘a folk-noir masterpiece’.

Neil Young: Hitchhiker

Man blir aldri ferdig med Neil Young. I hvert fall vi som er ekstra glad i den midtre 70-tallskatalogen hans. Hitchhiker har ligget på lager i hans legendariske arkiver altfor lenge, selv om mange av låtene herfra har sivet ut i årenes løp. Sammen med produsent David Briggs gjennomført Young såkalte ‘full moon sessions’ i årene 1975-77, og det er fra en slik kveld disse opptakene stammer fra. Nærmere bestemt 11. august 1976. Sammen med etablerte klassikere som “Pocahontas” og “Powderfinger” dukker også uutgitte “Hawaii” og “Give Me Strength” opp på en skive som bærer med seg den endeløse solnedgangen fra California på 1970-tallet slik bare Neil Young klarer å fange den.

U-Men: s/t
(Sub Pop)

Jeg har så vidt nevnt U-Men her inne tidligere, og nå har jammen meg Sub Pop skrapet sammen hist og hint fra dette oversette bandet fra Seattles pre-grunge periode. Mark Arm (Mudhoney) har skrevet liner notes, og han beskriver dem egentlig bedre enn noen andre: The U-Men are one of the best bands I’ve ever seen. They were hypnotic, frenetic, powerful and compelling. It was impossible to resist getting sucked into their weird, darkly absurd world. They effortlessly blended The Sonics, Link Wray, Pere Ubu, and Captain Beefheart. Their shows were loose-limbed, drunken dance parties and no two shows were alike. The U-Men were avant garage explorers and, most importantly, they fucking rocked.

VA: Sweet As Broken Dates: Lost Somali Tapes

Det kommer tonnevis med samleskiver fra hele globusen i løpet av et år, enten det er psykedelisk rock fra Ghana eller strupesang fra Tibet som blir dokumentert. Så mye fet musikk fra alle verdenshjørner og tidsepoker, så liten tid til å sette seg inn i alt. Denne får lov til å representere musikk som ofte blir ignorert, i hvert fall med vestlige øyne. Sweet As Broken Dates: Lost Somali Tapes er ikke bare en musikalsk skattekiste, som omfavner funk, Afrobeat, reggae, folk og mer, men også en kulturell dokumentasjon over et land som var – og sikkert er – langt mer enn borgerkrig og flyktninger. Vakker musikk, trist bakteppe.

…best of the rest…
The Replacements: For Sale: Live At Maxwell’s 1986
Drivin ’N’ Cryin’: Mystery Road (Expanded edition)
Buffalo Tom: Let Me Come Over: 25th Anniversary Edition
Throbbing Gristle: 20 Jazz Funk Greats (Remastered)
Fingers Inc.: Another Side
Acetone: 1992-2001
VA: Wayfaring Strangers: Acid Nightmares
Jackie Shane: Any Other Way
Mulatu Astatke: Mulatu of Ethiopia

Retroåret i spillelister

Vil du grave litt mer ned i musikk fra fortiden, nær og fjern, så har jeg plukket ut noen anbefalte spillelister på TIDAL laget i 2017, som inkluderer både strømlinjeformet country, punk, psykedelisk soul og frihetsjazz for å nevne noe. Bør være litt for enhver smak, i hvert fall for den som er nysgjerrig på musikk. God fornøyelse!

Murder Ballads: Stories of Misery & Mayhem

Murder ballads have a history that goes back to pre-modern times, with many originating in England and Scotland and written down, printed and sold on broadsheets already in the 17th century as true crime novels of their time. These dark and often grotesque stories have endured during the centuries in their purest form or mutating into something slightly different as they found new life on the other side of the Atlantic with the European settlers. A classic example would be the Appalachian murder ballad “The Knoxville Girl”, which can be derived under various names back to English ballads from the 1500s. But murder is also a frequent topic in American ballads, as Library of Congress states: “Many murder ballads were composed in America, especially after famous murder cases. An example is “Pearl Bryant,” a fictionalized account of the murder of Pearl Bryan in Kentucky in 1896.” This playlist is a collection of some of the most famous Murder Ballads, including “Tom Dooley”, “Stagger Lee” and “In the Pines”, as well as some more recent examples of the genre. [Ill: “Anguish”, Albrecht Schenck, public domain]

Rumba on the River: Congolese Classics

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) harbors one of the most varied and vibrant music scenes in Africa, particularly centered on the capital of Kinshasa. Formerly known as Belgian Congo and Zaire, DRC started to develop a pan-Congolese musical identity after World War II with Latin tinged Rumba as the main craze. The formation of the popular and highly influential Le Grand Kallé et l’African Jazz (African Jazz) in the early 1950s turned out to be an important event in terms of shaping a unique musical identity as well as giving voice to a rising national self-confidence. African jazz also introduced African music to Europe, and their “Indépendance Cha Cha” (1960) is commonly considered as one of the first Pan-African hit songs. Congolese rumba (or Soukous) is still an important and integrated part of Congolese music, alongside added inspiration from funk, psychedelia and later hip-hop and electronica. Follow the musical development from colonial to modern times and gives you a glimpse into a highly exciting and energetic music scene.

Country Got Soul

It came out of the south. Centered in the ‘Country-Soul triangle’ of Memphis, Nashville and Muscle Shoals in the 1960s, Country Soul was the merging of country and soul music, bridging two genres sharing so much of the same genealogy. The styles were largely segregated at the time, exacerbated by racial identifications of their respective fanbases, but drew from the same musical lineage of gospel, rhythm & blues and folk. The irresistible and triumphant mixture of country and soul worked in favor of both styles and transcended the ‘musical color line’. This playlist guides you through some classics from the Country Soul triangle and beyond.

Surfin’ the Gutter: L.A. Punk Classics

Los Angeles and its surrounding areas are crucial for the birth and development of US punk music. A social movement of Regan-era misfits grew out of the vast and affluent suburbs of Orange County, California, and spawned the birth of hardcore punk in the late 1970s (Santa Ana’s, The Middle Class, Hermosa Beach’ Black Flag, and others). The Los Angeles punk scene is also closely associated with the birth of the melodic and super catchy pop-punk scene (Bad Religion, Descendents, NOFX), and Southern California is thus to a large extent responsible for the alternative rock explosion of the 1980s and 1990s. Enjoy this selection of vintage SoCal punk classics, including FEAR, The Germs, The Dickies and loads more.

Soft Rainbow Summer: Sunshine Pop

The soft, sweet sounds of Sunshine Pop (or Soft Pop) naturally arose in 1960s Southern California, drawing on several vibes of the era, including folk, psychedelia and easy listening. Characteristics include lush vocals, light arrangements and an overall sunny vibe. Groups like The Beach Boys, The Mamas & the Papas, The Turtles, The Association and the 5th Dimension are commonly considered important influences and popular archetypes of a style more than often populated with lesser-known acts. Sunshine Pop has amassed quite a cult following over the years, highly regarded and saved from obscurity by notorious album collectors from all over the world. Let the sunshine in! (Cover picture: Summer Nomads, Life Magazine August 14, 1970).

Electric Samurais: Japan Inside/Out

Japan boasts an extremely eclectic and wide-ranging music scene with prime artists on every level of the musical scope and beyond. This playlist is by no means an attempt to capture the entire national music identity of Japan, but is merely a glimpse into some of the most exciting, experimental and ethereal music coming out of Japan from the 1960s and onwards. Dig into this collection of gems from naive pop art to pure noise bliss.

Psychedelic Africa: Rainbows Over Sahara

Afro rock, psychedelia and raw funk played an important role in the music scene of many African countries from the 1970s and forward. Zamrock came out of Zambia to characterize a scene that was equally inspired by Jimi Hendrix and James Brown (including bands like Witch, Ngozi Family, Amanaz). Nigeria has a long and rich history, not to mention other West African countries like Benin and Togo, and of course among the Tuareg people of Niger and Mali. This musical journey takes you through some of the many highlights from the psychedelic sounds of Africa.

United Forces: Metal Punx

Metal heads and Punk kids used to squat on separate sides on disgruntled youth. But during the 1980s, the two camps found common ground through numerous crossover acts. This playlist highlights some bands and albums that helped unite metal and punk, tearing down subcultures’ dividing lines and paving way for new directions in hard rock in the years to come. Kicking it off with S.O.D’s “United Forces” as the perfect embodiment, and also including D.R.I, Black Flag, Metal Church and tons more.

Touch & Go: 30 Years of Discomfort

Touch & Go is among the most important independent record labels in alternative rock, not only for being home to 1980s pioneers like Butthole Surfers and Big Black, but also for providing a crucial nationwide network of underground culture. Touch & Go started out in 1979 as a music fanzine based in Lansing, Michigan, before turning into a record label that soon relocated to Chicago. Touch & Go soon enough broadened their hardcore punk roots (Negative Approach, The Meatmen) and expanded into unknown sonic terrain with seminal acts like Scratch Acid, Killdozer, Slint and Urge Overkill, and into the 2000s with bands like Yeah Yeah Yeahs and TV on the Radio. Corey Rusk has been in charge of Touch & Go since the early 1980s, and still maintains the label, while now basically handling back catalog. Join in to a trip in the archives and some highlights from a catalog packed with gems, presented more or less in chronological order.

Black Gold of the Sun: Psychedelic Soul Explosion

In the latter part of the 1960s, many soul and R&B artists started to embrace the psychedelic rock sounds of the time, leading to a new and exciting hybrid dubbed Psychedelic Soul. The style turned out to be an inventive and influential musical trend especially for the subsequent birth of funk and disco, which eventually replaced it in mass popularity. Join in for a ride back to the heyday of psychedelic soul and artists like The Temptations, Curtis Mayfield, Shuggie Otis, Sly & the Family Stone, and many others.

Jazz Is Freedom

Jazz is all about freedom from musical boundaries, exploring the unknown and looking ahead. This daring attitude resonates well with the avant-garde jazz pioneers in the 1960s, and on this playlist we pay tribute to just some freedom fighters – from Ornette Coleman and Pharoah Sanders to torchbearers in the modern day.

Wild Rodeo Ride: Cowpunk Classics

Cowpunk was term being used in the 1980s to describe bands that married traditional country and untamed rockabilly energy with a punk attitude. Los Angeles was a particular hotbed of cowpunk, and the scene is a precursor to the wave of the 1990s and what is being called Americana since turn of the century. This playlist gives you a taste of some cowpunk classics, including true pioneers and artists based more in the outskirts of the style.

Countrypolitan: Country Pop

With its blend of string-laden pop, sweet vocal harmonies and sensible country tunes, Countrypolitan followed the Nashville Sound as a hugely popular style throughout the late 1960s and 70s. Here are some radio friendly chartbusters alongside other favorites from the era.

The Nashville Sound

When the honky tonk of the early 1950s turned into rockabilly, the country roads led to a more prop friendly format known as the Nashville Sound. Studio producers Chet Atkins and Owen Bradley helped develop this style, replacing hillbilly instruments with strings and background choruses in an effort to reach the more adult oriented and commercially broader Nashville market. While honky tonk lyrics often dealt with working class issues like alcoholism, failed marriages and adultery, the Nashville Sound offered a more escapist approach both in tone and prose. Enjoy some of the era’s prime material, featuring timeless songs from the likes of Jim Reeves, Patsy Cline and many more. The Nashville Sound would later become known as Countrypolitan, distinguished from the Nashville Sound by even more lush arrangements and softer sounds.

Jazz Got Soul

Soul Jazz developed in the 1950s and is characterized by its mix of jazz, soul, blues, gospel and rhythm & blues, and closely associated with the hard bop style. We’ve picked out some groovy and soulful favorites that fit into this rather open category, including Cannonball Adderley, Lee Morgan, Jimmy Smith and other masters of soulful jazz.

More Sad and Slow Hits

In the early 1990s some bands started to turn inwards, imploding rather than exploding, in direct contrast to the prevailing indie/rock and post-grunge hegemony at the time. Terms like ‘slowcore’ and ‘sadcore’ were used to describe such artists that played really slow or really sad music. Or quite often both. Slowcore is not defined by one clear identity, but relates to hushed shoegaze, bleak singers / songwriters and experimental post-rock outfits that all found a common affinity in doing it slow. Press play and be patient.

Memphis Got Soul!

When President Barack Obama paid tribute to Memphis soul in 2013, he called the sound of Soundsville, U.S.A. “A music that, at its core, is about the pain of being alone, the power of human connection and the importance of treating each other right. After all, this is the music that asked us to try a little tenderness. It’s the music that put ‘Mr. Big Stuff’ in his place,” referring to Jean Knight and Otis Redding. Memphis soul grew out of Southern soul in the 1960s, immortalized on labels like Stax, Hi and Goldwax. Commonly described as more sultry and stylish than its origins in Southern soul, Memphis soul was a defining direction until disco changed the scene in the later parts of the ’70s. This is a collection of (mostly) vintage gems from a wonderful period in the history of music.

Intricate Guitars Inventive Rhythms

Math Rock is a term first used in the latter part of the 1980s and 1990s to describe a wave of inventive, new bands more than willing to stretch the limits with rhythmic structures and time signatures. Artists like Bastro, Shellac, Hella and Don Caballero are prime examples on bands shirking complexity in favor of simplicity and angularity in favor of the straight ahead sounds. Math Rock is no strict genre, more likely to be rejected by the ones involved, and is related to post-hardcore and emo as to jazz, prog and punk. The common denominator is their willingness to experiment, their openness for the adventurous and their courageous attitude toward the unknown. We cherish all of these with handpicked delights from just some of the names tied to the sound of intricate guitars and inventive rhythms.

1980-tallet: 200 Favorittalbum

Denne lista over de 200 beste albumene fra 1980-tallet er ikke satt sammen av et panel med eksperter som har kåret en objektiv og endelig avgjørelse (som om det skulle være mulig). Dette er en liste over mine favoritter. De fleste ble oppdaget på 80-tallet, spesielt etter 1986, og står dermed selvsagt ekstra sterkt i internminnet. Andre har blitt ervervet og verdsatt i ettertid, og bidrar (heldigvis) til at sjangerbredden er noe variert og at tilsiget er konstant økende.

Et kjapt blikk på de 200 avslører at amerikansk gitarrock stod – og står – høyere i kurs enn, la oss si britisk synthpop. Ei heller er sjangre som hardrock og hip hop overrepresentert for å si det forsiktig – og mange av tiårets storselgere innen pop og rock gikk under denne radaren da, og har blitt liggende senere. Men noe skal man også ha til gode. Dette er min liste pr nå, og den er på langt nær hugget i stein. Tvert i mot, jeg gleder meg til å flikke på den, og bytte ut med nye favoritter ettersom de kommer min vei. Dette er uansett alle vinnere.

Utvalget er begrenset til to album pr. artist, så her er det mange darlings som er killed. Albumene er satt opp i rekkefølge, men etter de 20-30 første må det sies at den eksakte plasseringen er noe lemfeldig organisert. Uansett, skal du først ha med deg 200 80-tallsskiver på en øde øy ville jeg startet omtrent her.

Pixies: Doolittle (1989)
Sonic Youth: Daydream Nation (1988)
Dinosaur Jr.: You’re Living All Over Me (1987)
Nirvana: Bleach (1989)
The Replacements: Let It Be (1984)
R.E.M: Murmur (1983)
Violent Femmes: s/t (1983)
Pixies: Surfer Rosa (1988)
Beastie Boys: Paul’s Boutique (1989)
Giant Sand: Valley of Rain (1985)

Gun Club: Miami (1982)
The Feelies: Crazy Rhythms (1980)
The Dream Syndicate: The Days of Wine and Roses (1982)
Hüsker Dü: Warehouse: Songs and Stories (1987)
Wipers: Youth of America (1981)
Minutemen: Double Nickels on the Dime (1984)
Butthole Surfers: Locust Abortion Technician (1987)
Thin White Rope: Moonhead (1987)
Green on Red: Gravity Talks (1983)
Public Enemy: It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back (1988)

R.E.M: Reckoning (1984)
Mudhoney: Superfuzz Bigmuff (1988)
deLillos: Suser avgårde (1986)
Meat Puppets: II (1983)
Sonic Youth: Sister (1987)
Dinosaur Jr.: Bug (1988)
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds: Tender Prey (1988)
The Smiths: The Queen is Dead (1986)
Nomeansno: Wrong (1989)
Hüsker Dü: New Day Rising (1985)

Dead Kennedys: Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables (1980)
Brian Eno & Daniel Lanois: Apollo – Atmospheres & Soundtracks (1983)
Talking Heads: Remain in Light (1980)
Black Flag: Damaged (1981)
Giant Sand: The Love Songs (1988)
Slayer: Reign in Blood (1986)
David Bowie: Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) (1980)
Jokke & Valentinerne: Et hundeliv (1987)
Joy Division: Closer (1980)
Julee Cruise: Floating Into the Night (1989)

Fugazi: s/t EP (1988)
The Replacements: Tim (1985)
The Stone Roses: s/t (1989)
Raga Rockers: Maskiner i Nirvana (1984)
The Rain Parade: Emergency Third Rail Power Trip (1984)
Tom Waits: Rain Dogs (1985)
Jane’s Addiction: Nothing’s Shocking (1988)
Green on Red: Gas Food Lodging (1985)
N.W.A: Straight Outta Compton (1988)
Killdozer: Intellectuals Are the Shoeshine Boys of the Ruling Elite (1984)

deLillos: Hjernen er alene (1989)
Leonard Cohen: I’m Your Man (1988)
Godflesh: Streetcleaner (1989)
Arthur Russell: World of Echo (1986)
Naked City: Torture Garden (1989)
Descendents: Milo Goes to College (1982)
Cosmic Psychos: Go the Hack (1989)
Tad: God’s Balls (1988)
Big Black: Songs About Fucking (1987)
Swans: Children of God (1987)

Butthole Surfers: A Brown Reason to Live (1983)
The Dream Syndicate: Live at Raji’s (1989)
Thin White Rope: In the Spanish Cave (1988)
The Cramps: Psychedelic Jungle (1981)
The Pogues: If I Should Fall From Grace With God (1988)
Barracudas: Drop Out With the Barracudas (1982)
Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers: It’s Time For… (1986)
Bad Brains: s/t (1982)
The Fall: This Nation’s Saving Grace (1985)
Sunnyboys: s/t (1981)

Bad Religion: Suffer (1988)
The Soft Boys: Underwater Moonlight (1980)
Faith No More: The Real Thing (1989)
Bruce Springsteen: Nebraska (1982)
American Music Club: California (1988)
Metallica: Master of Puppets (1986)
Napalm Death: Scum (1987)
The Waterboys: This is the Sea (1985)
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds: Kicking Against the Pricks (1986)
Hasil Adkins: He Said (1985)

Soundgarden: Ultramega OK (1988)
Lounge Lizards: s/t (1981)
Cowboy Junkies: The Trinity Sessions (1987)
Rapeman: Two Nuns and a Pack Mule (1989)
Orchestra Baobab: Pirates Choice – the 1982 Sessions (1989)
Massacre: Killing Time (1981)
Michael Jackson: Thriller (1982)
Guns N’ Roses: Appetite for Destruction (1987)
King Sunny Ade: Juju Music (1982)
Knutsen & Ludvigsen: Juba Juba (1983)

The Birthday Party: Junkyard (1982)
The Jesus and Mary Chain: Psychocandy (1985)
XTC: English Settlement (1982)
Prince: Sign ‘O’ The Times (1987)
Tom Waits: Swordfishtrombones (1983)
The The: Infected (1986)
Talk Talk: Spirit of Eden (1988)
dePress: Block to Block (1981)
Brian Eno & David Byrne: My Life in the Bush of Ghosts (1981)
Motörhead: Ace of Spades (1980)


My Bloody Valentine: Isn’t Anything (1988)
The Pogues: Rum, Sodomy and the Lash (1985)
This Heat: Deceit (1981)
Paul Simon: Graceland (1986)
Richard & Linda Thompson: Shoot Out the Lights (1982)
Dire Straits: Making Movies (1980)
The Go-Betweens: 16 Lovers Lane (1988)
Young Marble Giants: Colossal Youth (1980)
Echo & The Bunnymen: Ocean Rain (1984)
Prefab Sprout: Steve McQueen (1985)

The Cure: Pornography (1982)
The Wipers: Over the Edge (1983)
Neil Young: Freedom (1989)
Dumptruck: for the Country (1987)
The Jesus Lizard: Pure (1989)
The Gun Club: Fire of Love (1981)
Donald Fagen: The Nightfly (1982)
Elvis Costello/The Costello Show: King of America (1986)
Lou Reed: New York (1989)
Dexy’s Midnight Runners: Searching For the Young Soul Rebels (1980)

Scratch Acid: Berserker EP (1987)
Pylon: Chomp (1983)
David Sylvian: Secrets of the Beehive (1987)
Anthrax: Among the Living (1987)
Scientists: Weird Love (1986)
AC/DC: Back in Black (1980)
Talking Heads: Stop Making Sense (1984)
Orange Juice: You Can’t Hide Your Love Forever (1982)
Flipper: Album – Generic Flipper (1982)
Danny & Dusty: The Lost Weekend (1985)

Mission of Burma: vs (1982)
Iron Maiden: Number of the Beast (1982)
Slint: Tweez (1989)
Roky Erickson: The Evil One (1980)
Alice Donut: Donut Comes Alive (1988)
Died Pretty: Free Dirt (1986)
The Legendary Stardust Cowboy: Rock-It to Stardom (1984)
U2: War (1983)
Killing Joke: s/t (1980)
Circle Jerks: Group Sex (1980)

Saccharine Trust: Paganicons (1981)
Squeeze: Argybargy (1980)
Radka Toneff: Fairytales (1982)
Kate Bush: Hounds of Love (1985)
Fang: Landshark (1982)
Steve Earle: Guitar Town (1986)
Moving Targets: Burning in Water (1986)
The Long Ryders: Native Sons (1984)
Swell Maps: Jane From Occupied Europe (1980)
Tears For Fears: Songs From the Big Chair (1985)

The Triffids: Born Sandy Devotional (1986)
Motor Boys Motor: s/t (1982)
Living Colour: Vivid (1988)
P.I.L: Metal Box (1980)
X: Los Angeles (1980)
The db’s: Stands For Decibels (1987)
Hoodoo Gurus: Stoneage Romeos (1984)
Agent Orange: Living in Darkness (1981)
The Psychedelic Furs: s/t (1980)
Eyeless in Gaza: Red Rust September (1983)

ESG: Come Away With ESG (1983)
RUN DMC: Raising Hell (1986)
Galaxie 500: On Fire (1989)
True West: Drifters (1984)
Minutemen: What Makes a Man Start Fires? (1982)
Jokke & Valentinerne: Alt kan repareres (1986)
Black Flag: My War (1984)
Minor Threat: Out of Step (1983)
Divine Horsemen: Devil’s River (1986)
Naked Prey: 40 Miles From Nowhere (1987)

The Feelies: Only Life (1988)
Stan Ridgeway: The Big Heat (1985)
Green River: Rehab Doll (1988)
Coil: Horse Rotorvator (1986)
D.O.A: War on 45 (1982)
Dead Kennedys: Frankenchrist (1985)
David Lynch: Eraserhead (1982)
The Cramps: Songs the Lord Taught Us (1980)
Wall of Voodoo: Call of the West (1982)
The Beasts of Bourbon: Sour Mash (1988)

The Waterboys: A Pagan Place (1984)
Beastie Boys: Licensed to Ill (1986)
Dead Moon: In the Graveyard (1988)
The Pretenders: s/t (1980)
Los Lobos: How Will the Wolf Survive (1984)
Suicidal Tendencies: s/t (1983)
Camper Van Beethoven: Telephone Free Landslide Victory (1985)
Violent Femmes: Hallowed Ground (1984)
Lloyd Cole & the Commotions: Rattlesnakes (1984)
The Rainmakers: s/t (1986)

Rockpile: Seconds of Pleasure (1980)
The Crucifucks: s/t (1984)
Glenn Branca: The Ascension (1981)
M.D.C: Millions of Dead Cops (1982)
Dumptruck: for the Country (1987)
The New Christs: Distemper (1989)
Bitch Magnet: Umber (1989)
Oxbow: Fuck Fest (1989)
Lard: The Power of Lard (1989)
Alphaville: Forever Young (1984)

Bjørn Hammershaug

Adjø Solidaritet: 1980-tallet – 100 Favorittlåter

For noen er musikken på 80-tallet ensbetydende med spjåkete metal eller dyster synthpop. For meg var 80-tallet først og fremst synonymt med en musikalsk oppvåkning, der første halvdel stort sett handlet om barndommens tilfeldigheter, men som i siste halvdel fant en form som har vært et fundament siden: Amerikansk undergrunnsrock, både i ulike punka varianter og i mer roots-orientert form.

Denne lista preges ikke uventet av nettopp låter fra denne opplysningstiden: Fra undergrunns-pionerer som The Feelies og Sonic Youth og punk fra Descendents og The Dead Kennedys, via janglerock (R.E.M) og ørkenrock (Giant Sand). Men i denne – for mange sikkert ensartede – miksen er det også funnet rom for mer enkeltlåtfavoritter fra artister som Jona Lewie og David + David. Kun én låt pr. artist, likevel er det altfor mange som ikke har fått plass, for mange til å nevnes, men dette summerer i det store og hele opp mitt 80-tall på låtsiden.

Sonic Youth: Teen Age Riot (1989)
Dinosaur Jr.: Freak Scene (1988)
Fugazi: Waiting Room (1988)
Pixies: Debaser (1989)
Violent Femmes: Blister in the Sun (1983)
Nirvana: School (1989)
The Feelies: The Boy With The Perpetual Nervousness (1980)
Mudhoney: Touch Me I’m Sick (1988)
Wipers: Youth of America (1981)
R.E.M: So. Central Rain (1984)


Tad: Loser (1989)
The Dead Kennedys: Holiday in Cambodia (1980)
Giant Sand: Thin Line Man (1986)
The Replacements: I Will Dare (1984)
The Dream Syndicate: Halloween (1982)
Butthole Surfers: Hey (1983)
The Gun Club: Carry Home (1982)
Julee Cruise: Falling (1989)
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds: The Mercy Seat (1988)
Brian Eno: Weightless (1983)


Thin White Rope: Red Sun (1988)
Hüsker Dü: She Floated Away (1987)
deLillos: Sveve over byen (1989)
The Church: Under the Milky Way (1988)
World Party: Ship of Fools (1986)
Echo & the Bunnymen: The Killing Moon (1984)
Jokke & Valentinerne: Tida er inne (1987)
Slayer: Angel of Death (1986)
John Cooper Clark: Beasley Street (1980)
Minutemen: This Ain’t No Picnic (1984)


Raga Rockers: Når knoklene blir til gele (1983)
The Cramps: Sunglasses After Dark (1980)
Meat Puppets: Plateau (1984)
The Smiths: Bigmouth Strikes Again (1986)
Black Flag: Rise Above (1981)
Alice Donut: Lisa’s Father (Waka Baby) (1988)
The Dicks: The Dicks Hate the Police (1980)
Nomeansno: It’s Catching Up (1989)
Lard: The Power of Lard (1989)
Green on Red: Sea of Cortez (1985)


Cosmic Psychos: Quarter to Three (1988)
Kjøtt: Jeg vil bli som Jesus (1980)
NWA: Straight Outta Compton (1988)
Jane’s Addiction: Mountain Song (1988)
The Cure: Just Like Heaven (1985)
Suicidal Tendencies: Institutionalized (1983)
Lillebjørn Nilsen: Aleksander Kiellands Plass (1985)
Laibach: Across the Universe (1988)
Public Enemy: Bring the Noise (1988)
Lounge Lizards: Incident on South Street (1981)


Pylon: Crazy (1983)
American Music Club: Highway 5 (1988)
The Pogues: Thousands Are Sailing (1988)
David + David: Welcome to the Boomtown (1986)
Rod Stewart: Young Turks (1981)
dePress: Bo Jo Cie Kochom (1981)
Tears For Fears: Head Over Heels (1985)
Imperiet: Märk hur vår skugga (1987)
Swans: New Mind (1987)
Killdozer: Man of Meat (1984)


Young Marble Giants: Searching for Mr. Right (1980)
Big Black: L Dopa (1987)
Bad Religion: I Want to Conquer the World (1989)
Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers: Just About Seventeen (1986)
Agent Orange: Bloodstains (1981)
Naked Prey: What Price for Freedom (1986)
The Jesus Lizard: Blockbuster (1989)
Died Pretty: Blue Sky Day (1986)
Flipper: Sex Bomb (1982)
Bad Brains: Pay to Cum (1980)


Tom Waits: Cold Cold Ground (1987)
Dire Straits: Tunnel of Love (1980)
Helmet: Born Annoying (1989)
Scratch Acid: Mary Had a Little Drug Problem (1986)
Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band: Against the Wind (1980)
L7: Bite the Wax Tadpole (1988)
Prince: Sign O the Times (1987)
Green River: Swallow My Pride (1988)
Bitch Magnet: Americruiser (1989)
The La’s: There She Goes (1988)


The Waterboys: Church Not Made With Hands (1984)
Wall of Voodoo Mexican Radio (1982)
Faith No More: Epic (1989)
Zero Boys: Livin in the 80’s (1980)
The Bangles: Manic Monday (1986)
Descendents: Suburban Home (1982)
Motor Boys Motor: Drive Friendly (1982)
Massacre: Killing Time (1981)
Stan Ridgeway: Camouflage (1986)
XTC: Dear God (1986)


Soundgarden: Ugly Truth (1989)
Arthur Russell: Treehouse (1986)
The Stone Roses: Fools Gold (1989)
Madonna: Like a Prayer (1989)
The Rain Parade: Look At Merri (1983)
Yo La Tengo: The Evil That Men Do (1989)
Jason & The Scorchers: Broken Whiskey Glass (1985)
The Boomtown Rats: Banana Republic (1981)
Bruce Springsteen: Atlantic City (1982)
Metallica: Master of Puppets (1983)

Bjørn Hammershaug

…the longlist….
Cowboy Junkies: Misguided Angel (1988)
Eldkvarn: Kungarna Från Broadway (1988)
Talking Heads: Once in a Lifetime (1980)
Buffalo Tom: Sunflower Suit (1989)
Go-Betweens: Was There Anything I Could Do (1988)
Mission Of Burma: That’s When I Reach For My Revolver (1981)
Neneh Cherry: Buffalo Stance (1988)
Opal: Happy Nightmare Baby (1987)
The New Christs: No Way on Earth (1989)
Billy Joel: A Matter of Trust (1986)
Lee Clayton: 10 000 Years/Sexual Moon (1983)
The Triffids: Wide Open Road (1986)
INXS: Never Tear Us Apart (1987)
Dinosaur L: GoBang! (1982)
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers: The Waiting (1980)
Naked City: The Sicilian Clan (1989)
Chris Isaak: Blue Hotel (1987)
E.S.G: Dance (1983)
Sunnyboys: Happy Man (1981)
John Mellencamp: Rain On The Scarecrow (1985)
Glenn Branca: Lesson No. 2 (1981)
Beastie Boys: High Plains Drifter (1989)
Electric Light Orchestra: From the End of the World (1981)
Steve Earle: Guitar Town (1986)
Joy Division: Islolation (1980)
The db’s: Bad Reputation (1981)

15 Ways to Nirvana: Albums That Shaped the Band

black_flag_warNirvana frontman Kurt Cobain was 27 years old when he ended his life in his Seattle home on April 5, 1994 – leaving this earth perhaps the most iconic cultural figure of his time. As Cobain biographer Charles R. Cross emphasized, ‘He isn’t the last star in rock ’n’ roll, but he is the last true Rock Star that we’ve had to date who earned Icon status. He existed in a period that is now lost to history, when a rock artist could be played on all formats of radio, when rock was the dominant musical form.’

The tragic story of Nirvana’s rise and fall, and grunge’s parallel emergence from underground cult to worldwide phenomenon, have been duly told and retold over the years. This article instead looks closely at the musical building blocks that set the foundation for Nirvana, illuminated by 15 selected albums, in an attempt to grasp the essence of their subsequent sound – and thus get a little closer to explaining their unlikely success.

As Cobain himself said, ‘I think we sound like The Knack and the Bay City Rollers being molested by Black Flag and Black Sabbath.’ An assessment not without accuracy or charm.

Nirvana leaned against the obvious persuasions of hardcore and hard rock, but this was interspersed with a broad and more commercially friendly side that appealed far beyond the inner clique. Sub Pop’s Jonathan Poneman put it this way, ‘Part of what was so captivating about Nirvana’s music was not so much its stunning originality, but its remarkable fusion of so many different strands of influence.’

Kurt Cobain was very open to the music he liked and took inspiration from, and shared passing lists of Nirvana’s favorite bands, albums, and songs. Such was the case in this famous paper in which Kurt scribbled down Nirvana’s Top 50 favorite albums – a list that has led many fans to increase the volume of the album collection.


These were not necessarily Cobain’s favorites, but rather 15 bands and albums that are co-responsible for laying the musical groundwork for Nirvana – and by extension, for the development of the alternative rock into the ’90s.

* * *

black_sabbath_bsBlack Sabbath:
Black Sabbath (1970)
Black Sabbath were the foundation for what would become heavy metal, and, naturally enough, their debut album is one of rock’s dark mastodons. The rainy intro opens the gates to a post-industrial wasteland in 1970 Birmingham, with a resonance that carried itself to the ears of a couple of boy ears on the west coast 10-15 years later.

Black Sabbath‘s leaden sound spawned many bastard children over the years, not least of which includes Nirvana’s debut album. Bleach plods though the same muddy tracks – which would help define grunge in the late 1980s.




iggy_raw_powerIggy & The Stooges:
Raw Power (1973)
Iggy Pop was one of Cobain’s role models, with similarities in both music and attitude. Iggy was a demon on the stage, writhing on the floor, rolling around in broken glass; he was as an out of control force of ‘raw power’, destructive drug use and uncontainable energy. Cobain absorbed this persona into Nirvana, not least in their early gigs where anarchy and chaos were prevailing forces. Musically, of course, proto-punk machinery from Detroit also had an obvious effect on Nirvana. The Stooges – and Raw Power especially – are punk rock required reading.




Destroyer (1976)
There’s an obvious superficial distance between the cynical, flannel-clad Seattle rockers’, and pyrotechnically-aided arena rock of four men dressed like superheroes. Yet Kiss was an integral part of growing up in the ’70s and ’80s, and they offered a sense of escapism to the misfit youth of the time. Like it or not, Nirvana has roots elementary school scribbles of Starchild. They recorded a cover of ”Do You Love Me” off of Destroyer, which also includes “Detroit Rock City” – later paraphrased as “Sub Pop Rock City” by Soundgarden. And as fate would have it, on a December’s day in 2013, Kiss and Nirvana were both inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.



Never Mind The Bollocks Here’s The Sex Pistols (1977)
With their first and only album, Sex Pistols sent shock waves into the establishment, catapulting punk into a mass movement that shaped culture and opened up opportunities for a new generation of artists in its wake – a similar effect to what Nirvana would repeat 15 years later. Could it be a coincidence that Nevermind and Never Mind the Bollocks… made their greatest mark not by shaping musical trends but in shaking the music industry and the cultural establishment? Both mark the boiling over point of an underground phenomenon – the beginning of a new era where the boundaries between alternative and mainstream became more porous. A game-changing work of its time and a killer plate of punk rock to boot.



cheap_trickCheap Trick:
Cheap Trick (1977)
‘I’ll be the first to admit that we’re the ’90s version of Cheap Trick or the Knack’ stated Kurt Cobain in his liner notes for the compilation album Incesticide. Cheap Trick had a penchant for British pop invasion (think The Kinks) which they used as the foundation for their fusion of power pop and hard rock, with a dash of punk. Their eponymous debut is chopped a bit rougher than their later more radio friendly sound. If you’re wondering whether Cobain was referencing the same Knack that produced the one hit wonder, “My Sharona”, you’d be right. In the Cobain biography Heavier Than Heaven Kurt meets up with a friend in 1988: ‘There’s this great record that I’ve discovered that you HAVE to hear. Kurt pulled out Get the Knack. Romero thought Kurt was being sarcastic, and inquired, ‘Are you serious?’ ‘You’ve got to listen to this – it’s an awesome pop album,’ was Kurt’s deadpan reply.’


neil_young_rust_never_sleepsNeil Young & Crazy Horse:
Rust Never Sleeps (1979)
‘It’s better to burn out than fade away.’ The stanza, taken from Neil Young’s “Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)”, is the penultimate line of Kurt Cobain’s suicide not. Young would dedicate the entirety of his 1994 album Sleeps With Angels to Cobain. Like Iggy Pop, Young had been trying to contact Cobain shortly before he died. In Young’s autobiography, he writes: “I, coincidentally, had been trying two reach him through our offices to tell him That I thought he was great and he should do exactly what he thought he should do and fuck everybody else…” Neil Young was early to popularize the flannel shirt as the preferred rock uniform. The echo of his thundering guitar rang deep into the forests the northwest, earning him the title, ‘Grandfather Of Grunge.’



young_marble_giants_youthYoung Marble Giants:
Colossal Youth (1980)
Minimalist and magical: Young Marble Giants’ first album from 1980 is a something of a forgotten masterpiece, and it has its natural place here as a representative of the British post-punk that Cobain felt most at home in. Far from the angry, snot-nosed punk image his stage persona let on, Cobain shared much of their introversion, as well as their self-destructiveness. Together with their Scottish counterparts, The Vaselines, these Welsh were among Cobain’s most relatable artists. In an interview with MTV Brazil in 1993 Kurt Cobain underlines that he was ‘heavily influenced by them’ – less in sound than in terms of ‘their emotions, the feeling, the sincerity and their fantastic songwriting.’




Album – Generic Flipper (1982)
Kurt Cobain could make a band cool by simply muttering their name in passing – as he did The Vaselines – or by sporting a concert T-shirt in public – as he did with his well-worn Flipper shirt. And glory to him for that – if there’s a band that deserves to be lifted out of obscurity, it’s Flipper. The San Francisco band’s epic debut from 1982 check’s every box in the rock handbook: rule breaking, destructive, infantile and reckless. Flipper slowly cranked their songs through a meat grinder, without fully knowing what would come out the other side. En route, they stumbled upon such punk anthems as “Sex Bomb” while blazing a magnificent trail to madness.




black_flag_my_warBlack Flag:
My War (1984)
As pioneers of American underground rock into the ’80s, and originators of the California hardcore sound, Black Flag is obvious primary school curriculum for Nirvana. On their later album, My War, the band took punk into a slower, heavier and more militant territory. This had a clear effect on bands like Melvins and Nirvana. Black Flag frontman Greg Ginn started the SST label in 1978, which went on to become one of the most important publishers of the ’80s – and a role model for Sub Pop’s rise some years later.




husker_du_new_dayHüsker Dü:
New Day Rising (1985)
New Day Rising marks an important transition for the power trio of Hüsker Dü. Without losing their frenetic power and strength, here they write pop-flavored melodies that shine through the layers of treble fuzz, albeit not overpoweringly. With a little more polishing, New Day Rising could have been the Nevermind of the ’80s. As Krist Novoselic admitted, ‘Nirvana’s blend of pop, punk and metal was nothing new, Hüsker Dü did it before us.’ From the same circuit and time period, it is also worthy to mention the parallel developments by The Replacements, Butthole Surfers, and Meat Puppets – all of whom were significant fertilizers for the ripening of Nirvana.



beat_happening_jamboreeBeat Happening:
Jamboree (1988)
Sub Pop rapidly grew into a multinational brand in the ’90s, but they initially came from a proud tradition of strong underground labels from the heyday of SST, Touch & Go – and K Records in nearby Olympia, Washington. K was formed in 1982 by Calvin Johnson, the frontman of Beat Happening. Lo-fi aesthetics dominated the label’s releases, casually produced by friends and acquaintances in the region, which helped chart course for the “alternative revolution” and the rise of indie rock as a mainstream phenomenon. Musically, there is a certain distance between the compact guitar rock of Nirvana and the more quirky indie pop of Beat Happenings, but the relationship can be illustrated by this quote from the band: ‘We are Beat Happening, and we do not do Nirvana covers. They do Beat Happening covers, so let’s get that straight.’



Twelve Point Buck (1989)
Madison, Wisconsin band Killdozer ruled the 1980s underground, along with acts like Butthole Surfers, Laughing Hyenas, and Scratch Acid (pre-Jesus Lizard). Their slow, sludgy punk-on-downers sound distinguished them as early predecessors to grunge, especially for the periphery scene outside of Seattle. The band became known for its original and unexpected cover songs – such as a throaty rendition Don McLean’s “American Pie” – a talent Cobain and Co. also became known for after the live recording, MTV Unplugged in New York. They worked repeatedly with technician Butch Vig in Madison’s Smart Studios. As a result of hearing Killdozer’s 1989 LP Twelve Point Buck, Nirvana hired Vig to work on In Utero. After Cobain’s death, Killdozer also record 1995’s God Hears Pleas of the Innocent with Steve Albini.


dead_moon_graveyardDead Moon:
In The Graveyard (1988)
Barbarous garage rock has a long history in the Pacific Northwest, with bands such as The Kingsmen (“Louie Louie”) and The Sonics as key originators. Portland-band Dead Moon push forward this rich legacy and remind us that neither Nirvana, nor grunge as a whole, appeared from nowhere. Unlike Nirvana and the landslide that followed in their wake, the Dead Moon remained in the garage while the other left the scene in limousines. And there they still had it pretty good until dissolving in 2006.




Surfer Rosa (1988)
Telling the story behind “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” Kurt Cobain confessed, ‘I was trying to write the ultimate pop song. I was basically trying two rip off the Pixies.’ And indeed, Nevermind shares countless similarities with Pixies, in song structure and, notably, in the powerful soft-loud dynamics that Nirvana would further perfect. Sound engineer and producer Steve Albini was commissioned to produce In Utero as a result of his signature work on Surfer Rosa.




Ozma (1989)
Seattle rock’s anomalous emergence came out nowhere, and in a matter of years the city’s musical profile transitioned from a loser-like sense of coolness to streamlined factory for mass culture. But one band never changed. Melvins were heavier, stickier and gloomier than all the others – and they were among Cobain’s biggest musical influences, especially noticeable on Bleach. Melvins would later serve as role models for an even heavier, slower and more somber drone rock formulated by bands like Earth and Sunn O))). Melvins have definitely left a heavy imprint in the rock history books, and their first two albums are authentic sludge rock at its best.




Bjørn Hammershaug
Originally published on October 12, 2014.

The Replacements: Getting Nowhere Fast

The Replacements ble dannet i Minneapolis, Minnesota i 1979. Hoveddelen av karrieren bestod de av Paul Westerberg (gitar, vokal), Bob Stinson (gitar), Tommy Stinson (bass) og Chris Mars (trommer). Bandet ble oppløst i 1991. Bob Stinson døde i 1995, og erstatter Slim Dunlap ble i 2012 innlagt på sykehus etter et alvorlig slag. Paul Westerberg og Tommy Stinson spilte inn veldedighets-EP’en Songs For Slim, og annonserte en reunion høsten 2013. Det blir deres første konserter på 22 år.

Hør 10 favoritter i WiMP

The Replacements: Stink (Twin/Tone, 1982)
‘This is the Minneapolis Police: The party’s over!’
Slik innledes Stink på myndig vis av en lovens håndhever på en aller annen hjemmefest. Et par ’fuck yous’ senere – historien vil ha det til av en ung Dave Pirner (Soul Asylum) – og The Replacements overtar ballet med sitt latterlig fengende tenåringsanthem ”Kids Don’t Follow” og langfinger’n ”Fuck School”. På denne måten fulgte Minneapolis-bandet opp debuten Sorry Ma, Forgot To Take Out The Trash med en 8 låter snau EP, sommeren 1982.

Da var The Replacements allerede relativt etablert i den lokale undergrunnsscenen, der de sammen med Hüsker Dü var de absolutt mest sentrale. Debuten ga ikke noen spesielle signaler om annet enn nok et punkeband grodd fram fra forstedenes trygge, kjedelige rammer og middelklassens snevre trangsynthet sett gjennom øynene på de unge og utålmodige. Amerikansk punkrock, i hvert fall den som dannet grobunn for og som senere ble definert som indierock, er i stor grad et slik suburbia-fenomen, et uttrykk som ikke ble skapt først og fremst ut fra sosial undertrykking og klassebevissthet, men heller sosial utbrytertrang og mistilpasning. Amerikas velfriserte plener og velordnede nabolag har vist seg å være det fremste arnestedet for ungdommelig misnøye og aggresjon uten nødvendigvis noen andre fiender enn de nærmeste.

Skole, autoriteter og arbeidsgivere blir i løpet av 15 effektive minutter behandlet med virilitet, klarsinn og humor etter denne tradisjonen. ’Hey, Merle, I was wonderin’ if ya had any ‘ludes on ya?’ synger Paul Westerberg på ”Dope Smokin Moron”. På ”Stuck In The Middle” tar de for seg oppvekst i Midtvesten: ’Ah, there ain’t nowhere to go/When you’re stuck right in the middle’, mens de på ”God Damn Job” skriker etter en eller annen jobb for å tjene litt cash. Enkle emner tilpasset enkel tregreps hardcore garasjepunk er altså lyden av The Replacements anno 1982, der tilbakelente ”Go” representerer det mest interessante musikalske innslaget – som et gløtt mot senere utvikling.

Bonussporene underbygger The Replacements’ rølpete omgang med klassikerne i denne tidlige perioden, der versjonene av Hanks ”Hey, Good Lookin’” og ”Rock Around The Clock” (!) vel mest er for kuriøse innslag å regne. Men så, helt til slutt. Et aldri så lite gullkorn. ”You’re Getting Married” er et nydelig soloopptak med Paul Westerberg, fanget hjemme i kjeller’n og med crappy lyd, men som viser det følsomme låtskrivertalentet Westerberg i sin pureste form.

Stink er ikke bare et historisk minnealbum. Energien som spruter ut er like smittsom i dag.

The Replacements: Hootenanny (Twin/Tone, 1983)
’Hootenanny is to folk music what ‘jam session’ is to jazz, namely a gathering of all sorts of people.’

På sitt andre album søkte Minneapolis-kvartetten tydeligvis mot det spontane og umiddelbare som opprinnelig lå i dette uttrykket, og de ønsket å ta essensen tilbake fra den kommersielle betydningen det med årene hadde blitt tillagt:

Today, folk music is practically in the Big Business category and the word ’Hootenanny’ has even made Webster’s (…) Luckily, for us folkniks, the essence of the old Hootenanny – its immediacy, variety and incredible excitement – still remains.

Utgitt bare et par år etter debuten var The Replacements allerede på dette tidspunktet på vei ut av den mest tradisjonelle gatepunken og inn i mer variert terreng. Hootenanny er på mange måter en overgangsskive, og som så ofte for slike har den blitt noe oversett i årenes løp. Hootenanny har ikke punkenergien til forgjengerne og den har ikke den lurvete skjønnheten som preget de to neste (Let It Be og Tim). Men det betyr likevel ikke at den er uinteressant. Den har noe av det tidlige 80-tallets uskyld over seg, før ’indierock’ ble et husvarmt begrep uten særlig betydning og det meste allerede var forhåndsdefinert, gjennomlyttet og analysert allerede før det var utgitt. Det er en slags prøve-feile, anything goes-holdning her som er ganske så sjarmerende.

Blant låtene finner vi mørke ”Willpower” og alvorlige, mer følsomme ”Within Your Reach” som to høydepunkt. Den instrumentale surfsaken ”Buck Hill” låter som REM fra omtrent samme tid (rundt Murmur). ”Lovelines” er småjazzy Minutemen-light, og legg til de mer trampende hardcore-låtene, så står vi igjen med en ganske eklektisk plate, som med en del slurv og tilsynelatende likegyldighet ikke klarer å skjule flere perler. Best av alle; ”Color Me Impressed”:

’Everybody at your party/They don’t look depressed/Everybody dressin’ funny/Color me impressed.’

Slik åpner de flotteste tre minutter på Hootenanny, med en poplåt som fremdeles står seg som en av 80-tallets fineste. Her hører vi også hvordan Paul Westerberg er i ferd med å finne balansen mellom sinne og sårhet, og det er nettopp denne følsomheten som gjorde The Replacements til noe mer. Dette fikk prege etterfølgende plater i større grad, men det var Hootenanny som åpnet porten.

Sistesporet ”Treatment Bound”, en sjanglete akustiker et sted mellom Beck og Dylan, og stilen signaliserte at andre sider ved Paul Westerbergs tanker var i ferd med å bli anerkjent innad i bandet. Den er et stilsikkert postkort fra grøftekanten og teksten oppsummerer på få linjer mye av bandets essens:

We’re gettin’ no place fast as we can
Get a noseful from our so-called friends

We’re gettin’ nowhere quick as we know how
We whirl from town to town treatment bound

First thing we do when we finally pull up
Get shitface drunk try to sober up

There’ll be no pose tonight no money in sight
Label wants a hit and we don’t give a shit

Dette var før infrastrukturen var på plass (selv om USA fremdeles ikke er noe mekka for småband på tur). Det var band som The Replacements som tråkket løypa, og få gjorde det med større innsatsvilje. I kjølvannet fulgte alkohol, dop og endeløse mil i skitne stasjonsvogner, konserter for en håndfull mennesker, før de vendte tilbake på veien. Men jobben skulle betale seg, selv om prisen for enkelte i bandet ble lovlig dyr (særlig for Bob Stinson som snart ble tuppet ut av den grunn, og som ble funnet død av en overdose noen år senere).

Det hører også med til historien at Hootenanny ble omfavnet av mange sentrale kritikere i sin samtid, og den gjorde at The Replacements virkelig ble lagt merke til utenfor Midtvesten og den indre krets av fans.

Denne reutgivelsen fra 2008 inneholder hele 6 ekstra spor, stort sett råmikser, alternative versjoner og demoer. Mest for de hardbarka, med andre ord.

The Replacements: Let It Be (Twin/Tone, 1984)
Det er vanskelig for meg å skrive om Let It Be uten å tillate en smule personlig inngang. Denne utgivelsen er for sterkt knyttet til min egen musikalske oppvåkning til at jeg egentlig er egnet til å stille meg helt objektiv til dens kvaliteter – nå snart 30 år etter at den ble utgitt.

I løpet av noen korte sommermåneder i 1988, finansiert av en gavmild arbeidsgiver og salg av en ganske omfattende kassettsamling, kjøpte jeg et knippe skiver som jeg den gang ikke selv visste ville danne et fundament, være retningsgivende for senere musikalsk styring. Ja, de ble sentrale for alt som senere skulle skje mellom mine ører og en platespiller. For å nevne noen og de viktigste: Hüsker Dü (Warehouse), Dinosaur Jr. (Bug), Pixies (Come On Pilgrim, Surfer Rosa), Violent Femmes (debuten), Dead Kennedys (komplett), REM (Murmur, Reckoning), Giant Sand (Love Songs), Thin White Rope (Moonhead), Butthole Surfers (Hairway To Steven), Minutemen (Double Nickles On The Dime).

Og Let It Be av The Replacements.

Det er unødvendig å si at alle er klassiske skiver for meg, og de har da også blitt kanonisert til det kjedsommelige av andre utallige ganger. Det hadde derfor vært mer interessant å høre hva en 16-17-åring i dag ville ment om disse enn en med tilstivnede meninger, men den evnen til hukommelsestap og nullstilling har jeg ikke utviklet til fulle foreløpig. Derfor:

Omslaget på Let It Be viser fire ugredde lømler sittende på et hustak, stirrende uinteressert mot ingenting i alle retninger. Bak seg hadde kvartetten da et knippe løfterike, om ikke definerende, plater rotfestet i en klar garasjepunk-filosofi. Forløperen Hootenanny pekte riktignok videre med en stemning av mer eklektisk new wave og melodiske oppbygninger, men er likevel å anse som en lillebror i forhold til Let It Be. Her krysses endelig vokalist Paul Westerbergs sårbare sider og melodiske teft med det øvrige bandets rufsete arbeiderklasse-fyllik-sullik-image i det som er sjeldent øyeblikk av bedugget klarsyn.

Tittelen, arrangementene, låtskrivingen, popen hinter like mye mot The Beatles som The Clash – holdningen, rølpen, bluesen og aggresjonen mot Rolling Stones og Faces. The Replacements nærmet seg altså et klassisk rockuttrykk på det som ble en grunnstein innen 80-tallets undergrunnsrock. Det unge bandet vokste raskt opp, bare et par-tre år etter den utagerende punken har de snublet inn i voksenlivet til et band med fokus på å skrive gode, mer ‘seriøse’ låter, i den klassiske rockbetydningen, og bry seg mindre om hva hardcorekidsa måtte mene.

Forfatteren Michael Azerrad skriver i sin bok Our Band Could Be Your Life (2001) om mange av de bandene som er nevnt overfor, og om Let It Be poengterer han noe av dette:

The dividing line between the indie and major worlds was between punk-derived music and the blues rooted fare of the bloated, indulgent, aged superstars who had attained seemingly eternal life on classic rock radio. The Replacements were a bridge between the two.

Hvor kommer dette bedre frem enn i deres versjon av Kiss’ ”Black Diamond”. Her møtes de utilnærmelige tegneserie-dinosaurene fra 70-tallets arenarock og de tøffeste gutta i gata fra 80-tallet i et definerende øyeblikk av det som skulle utvikle seg mot collegerock, americana, grunge, indierock og what not. Allerede innledningsvis får vi et frampek mot det som følger, på en av platens aller beste enkeltspor. Singlen ”I Will Dare” er ikke historien om musikalske vågestykker, men om rastløs kjærlighet, en Springsteen for generasjonen etter Mary og ’the screen door that slams…’ der Westerberg trakterer mandolin og Peter Buck (REM) spiller gitar:

Call me on thursday, if you will
Or call me on wednesday, better still
Ain’t lost yet, so I gotta be a winner
Fingernails and a cigarette’s a lousy dinner…

Med denne sjanglete sjarmbomben førte de inn på en vei som vennene i REM og en drøss andre senere kunne følge til større kommersiell suksess. Det er dette spenningsfeltet tusenvis av band senere har forsøkt å gjenskape. Noen få klarer det, de fleste er langt unna. The Replacements var blant de første, og her er de på sitt beste. Selv om de fletter inn akustiske låter og bygger ut lydbildet en del, har de fremdeles rom for den rene punken i sitt uttrykk. Energien i låter som ”We’re Comin’ Out” fremstår da også sterkere i kontekst som denne, rammet inn av mer edruelige låter. Det er et lite stykke mellom denne og finstemte øyeblikk som ”Sixteen Blue”, men det er som nevnt i grenselandet mellom den da falmende punken og den gryende collegerocken The Replacements med Let It Be ikke bare markerte seg, men egenhendig satte markøren ned i bakken.

Let It Be ble varmt mottatt i sin samtid, og hyllet blant annet i trendsettende magasin som Rolling Stone og Village Voice. Hypemaskinen hadde startet sitt møysommelige arbeid, men The Replacements lot seg ikke affektere av den grunn. De sank ned i en pøl av intern uro, plateselskapstrøbbel, fyll & fanteri. Alt ved det samme med andre ord. Selv om deres etterfølgende skiver alle har gode kvaliteter, påfølgende Tim er kanskje deres aller beste, så vil det alltid være Let It Be som er deres store merkestein i min historie om bandet.

Yeah, I know I look like hell, I smoke and I drink and I’m feeling swell…”

Av de nevnte platene og bandene innledningsvis er det flere som har skapt kraftigere spor etter seg. Mange ble inspirasjonskilder for band og musikalske uttrykksformer gyldige over 25 år senere, slik nevnte Azerrad trekker frem så fint i sin grundige bok. Hva med The Replacements? Tja, som de i sin samtid ikke i første rekke utfordret det musikalske grensesnitt, slik har de ettertid heller ikke blitt stående som de største pionerer eller de mest utfordrende band å bli kjent med. Men deres ærlighet, energien, viljen, den nødvendige trangen av å dra seg i håret, kaste bakrusen av seg, og kjøre videre, spille videre, gi alt for enhver pris, den kraften er noe de deler med andre uavhengig av tid, sted, og musikkform.

Lyden av kjeller som leder mot asfalt som fører til røykfylte klubber er nemlig en rute som bærer et ekko The Replacements ga sin helt spesielle klang til. Den sitter fremdeles igjen i vegger og på tak der ute i forstaden.

Bjørn Hammershaug

Zero Boys: Livin’ In The 80’s

Av de utallige punkbandene som sprang ut fra den amerikanske undergrunnen på sent 70-/tidlig 80-tall, står Zero Boys og deres debut Vicious Circle (1982) fremdeles igjen som et landemerke av en skive. I 2009 samlet Secretly Canadian hele bandets tidlige katalog over to nyoppussede utgivelser: Den klassiske debuten og deres aldri fullførte andreplate + EP’en Livin In The 80’s.

Zero Boys ga et frampek mot det som ble kjent som ‘american hardcore’; raskere, hardere og tyngre enn den britiske punken. Parallelt – om ikke forut for – mer kjente navn som Bad Religion, Hüsker Dü, Descendents og T.S.O.L., og i det umiddelbare kjølvannet av pionerband som Black Flag, Minor Threat og Bad Brains oppstod Zero Boys, midt i Amerika. De fleste andre amerikanske band hadde (og har) gjerne utspring fra kulturelle metropoler som San Francisco, Austin, Chicago, Boston eller New York. Zero Boys kom fra Indianapolis, et sted uten særlig dype tradisjoner for motkulturelle uttrykk. Men den amerikanske punken hadde stor innflytelse og utbredelse på grasrotnivå, og bidro til å skape grobunn for nye scener fordelt over et større geografisk område (Necros kom fra Maumee, Ohio, Meatmen fra Lansing, Michigan, 7 Seconds fra Reno etc.). I et intervju med Maximum Rock’n’Roll fra 1982 sier vokalist Paul-Z (Paul Mahern):

I stay here because it feels real. The kids around here appreciate the few shows they do get to see. Also, to be a punk from Indiana means that you went looking for punk rock – not because all the kids at school are punks. It’s real rebellion.

Zero Boys: Vicious Circle (Nimrod, 1982)
Historien om Zero Boys tør være kjent for mange fra småsteder som føler misnøye med forholdene og søker ut. Paul Mahern trålet byen rundt på jakt etter plater på slutten av 70-tallet, en fan av Kiss, Sabbath og Aerosmith. Han rasker med seg en utgave av Creem med Sex Pistols på omslaget, og dermed var det gjort. Han startet band umiddelbart, og i 1979 var Zero Boys en realitet.

Etter EP’en Livin’ In The 80’s intensiverte de øvingen og satte seg fôre og lage en plate i stilen til Germs, Dead Kennedys og Circle Jerks. Vicious Circle er huggende riff, bjeffende vokal og frenetiske gitarsoloer, men også med en viss pop-sensibilitet som gir seg utslag i fengende melodier Ramones-style. Bandets sosiopolitiske profil gir seg utslag i tekster både om skyting mot maktpersoner i samtiden og retter en langfinger mot gamle dinosaurer (’Don’t wanna hear no more ’bout Mick Jagger’s old bones…’). Legg merke til den hvasse lyden, det ekstremt tighte uttrykket og den fandenivoldske viljen som lyser gjennom hele albumet. Vicious Circle frigjør enorme mengder energi og en låttittel som ”Amphetamine Addiction” virker ikke være tilfeldig. Dette er motsatsen av hippienes fredsæle tåkemantra.

Den profilerte skribenten Jack Rabid (fra The Big Takeover) har sørget for innsiktsfulle liner notes, og jeg lar hans ord virke støttende til mine egne vurderinger:

The young Midwest quartet was surprisingly tight, with a precision rarely associated with the new American hardcore: leaner, faster, meaner, more riotous, and eight times more explosive than on their previous, respected Livin’ in the ’80s 7″ EP. And the recording quality was impeccable, zooming past like an amplified dragster.

Etter Vicious Circle spilte Zero Boys en del konserter i midt-vesten, sammen med Beastie Boys i New York, men kom ikke noe særlig videre og brøt raskt sammen av alle de opplagte årsakene. Et par skiver midt på 90-tallet er mest for komplettister. Vicious Circle er stedet å starte, og det er egentlig sjokkerende hvor fet denne platen låter over 25 år etter at den ble spilt inn – og det i løpet av to kjappe dager!

Denne reutgivelsen, remastret fra de opprinnelige tapene, inkluderer også de to sporene som ikke ble med på originalplaten: ”She Said Goodbye” og ”Slam And Worm”.

Zero Boys: Histoy Of (Secretly Canadian, 2009)
Zero Boys’ første utgivelse var singlen ”Livin’ In The 80’s”, med det smått fantastiske tittelkuttet og ditto ”I’m Bored”. To år med intens jobbing resulterte i debuten Vicious Circle, og etter ytterligere turnévirksomhet begynte de på sitt andre album. Før de rakk å gjøre dette ferdig, ramlet bandet sammen. En kassettutgave av History Of ble skrapet sammen i cirka 100 eksemplarer.

History Of har ikke debutens stramme fokus, men viser et band som kanskje kunne utviklet seg i andre og vel så spennende retninger som det hardcore-rammene kunne by på, både i form av et mer metallisk sound og noe seigere rock-orientert uttrykk. Det er ikke riktig å si at de rakk å finpusse veien videre, og opptakene viser i like stor grad et band som ’kunne blitt’ enn et band som ’ble’. Gitarist Terry Howe lar for øvrig sitt mørke livssyn prege deler av låtmaterialet, hans tekster omhandler stort sett enten å dope seg eller å forsøke å streite seg opp. I følge den noe rotete coverteksten til Eric Weddle dreier en låt som ”Splish Splash” om å ikke ende opp som Germs’ Darby Crash. Crash tok livet sitt med en overdose heroin i 1980 (dagen før John Lennon ble skutt). Howe holdt seg helt til 2001 før han gikk samme vei.

Zero Boys vil nok, tross et par 90-tallsskiver og jevnlige reunions, for alltid bli husket for Vicious Circle. Og det er da ikke alle forunt å etterlate seg såpass!

Bjørn Hammershaug
Foto: Secretly Canadian/presse

Dinosaur Jr.: You’re Living All Over Me (1987)

Første gang publisert: 06.08.05 – i forbindelse med bandets konsert på Øyafestivalen 2005

I 1991 besørget J. Mascis for at undertegnede fikk nesten varige hørselsskader da Dinosaur Jr. spilte på Aker Brygge i Oslo. I en av konsertens ytterst få feedback-avbrekk rekker en publikummer å smette inn med utropet: “Hey J, we don’t hear your voooice!!” J ser opp fra de lange hårflokene, smiler(!) og mumler: “That’s good” før han trøkker ned et par av de mange fuzzboksene med en bestemt fot og fortsetter med sitt. Når han 15 år senere står på scenen i samme by (Øyafestivalen 2005) er det ikke lenger i kraft å være blant de ledende artister i sin samtid, men med visshet om at han har etterlatt seg et legat som vil vare lenge etter at siste gitarskrik har stilnet. En av de sterkeste i så måte heter You’re Living All Over Me og ble gitt ut i 1987.

1987 huskes som et særs godt plateår for oss som begynner å dra litt på årene. Bare sånn i farten kan nevnes Sonic Youths Sister, Hüsker Düs Warehouse: Songs and Stories, Pixies’ debut-EP, Butthole Surfers’ Locust Abortion Technician og The Replacements’ Pleased To Meet Me. Alle står de trygt på hedersplass, om enn med litt støv på, og sannelig dannet de presedens for det meste annet som har kommet opp der i ettertid. Sammen med disse 80-tallspionerene innen amerikansk indierock (og det ordet hadde faktisk en betydning på den tiden) finner vi selvsagt Dinosaur Jr med sin andre utgivelse. Det er ikke bare en kultklassiker fra sin tid, det er en plate som også står seg svært godt snart tjue år senere.

You’re Living All Over Me var et stort sprang fra den fine, men noe usikre og ujevne debutplaten til trioen fra Amherst, Mass. De tre var på den tiden. J. Mascis, et slacker-ikon før termen ble oppfunnet og et idol det var lett å identifisere seg med for ungdom som sluntret skolen, røykte pot, snublet i kjærlighetslivet og spilte luftgitar. Sammen med den “nerdete” bassisten Lou Barlow og alltid trofaste Murph stødig hamrende bak trommene utgjorde de en merkelig, sprikende og sterk enhet både musikalsk og personlig. Bakgrunnen hadde de i hardcore/punk, noe de tok med seg videre i karrieren, men det var med en mer sensibel stil de skulle vekke oppmerksomhet. Hjulpet frem av datidens kultlabel #1 SST (Meat Puppets, Soundgarden, Sonic Youth, Hüsker Dü) havnet Dinosaur Jr. raskt i samme toppdivisjon.

Mascis hadde til gode å polere det elegante gitarspillet som skulle dominere senere plater på 90-tallet, men til gjengjeld hadde de på You’re Living All Over Me en jomfruelig råskap som bare Bug (1988) eventuelt kan måle seg opp mot. Her er det dissonans, vreng, wah-wah og flanger i en mer post-punka attitude som gjelder, der senere Dinosaur-skiver gjerne henfalt i mer sober kledning, med bedre lyd, et mer gjennomtenkt sound og enda tristere sanger. For Dinosaur Jr. bragte først og fremst gitaren til heder og verdighet – inkludert gitarsoloen – i indiekretser. Mer enn noen andre benyttet Mascis instrumentet som forlengende talerør av sitt akk så sorgtunge blikk på tilværelsen, og han viste at det fantes en middelvei mellom hardrocken, Hendrix, punken og “wall of sound”-støyen à la Hüsker Dü, noe som kommer sterkt frem på You’re Living All Over Me. Her spilles det HØYT. Høyt, desperat og hjerteskjærende med effektiv pedalbruk som hjelpemiddel, men også drivende, melodisk og strukturert. Som en syntese av, tja, la oss si Black Flag, Sonic Youth, The Cure og Neil Young er You’re Living All Over Me en av de store platene innen pre-grunge amerikansk gitarrock. Mascis’ gitarstil, bandets slacker-image og deres balanse mellom melodier og støyutbrudd, samspillet mellom dynamikk og energi, kan dessuten høres som en direkte foranledning til Nirvana og deres suksessformel på Nevermind noen år senere.

Dinosaur ville likevel ikke hevdet seg med den alltid dominerende gitarbruken alene. J. Mascis skrev i tillegg låter med en melodisk kraft og en underliggende sårhet som få andre. You’re Living All Over Me er ikke nødvendigvis den beste samlingen låter samlet på en Dinosaur-skive, selv om ”Little Fury Things”, ”Sludgefeast”, ”Raisans” og ”In A Jar” alle er av klassisk materiale. Men ingen av de senere platene deres fanget riktig den samme gløden og villskapen, med foreningen av slow-motion støyrock, hardcore og fengende popmelodier. Dette blir klart allerede på anslaget, ”Little Fury Things”, som åpner med forrykende gitarer og desperate skrik (“What is it? Who is it? Where is it?”) før melodien slår inn og Mascis kommer inn med sin søvnige, vablete stemme: “A rabbit falls away from me, I guess I’ll crawl, A rabbit always smashes me, again I’ll crawl…” I løpet av tre minutter er platen signert, selv om den aldri faller inn i ett spor og blir forutsigbar, i sin kombinasjon av gråtkvalte melodier og gjennomtrengende slagkraft.

Selv om lyden på You’re Living All Over Me kanter over mot det søplete, og av og til druknes i gitarslam, kan ingenting skjule den suggererende flyten som preger denne platen. I tillegg til ovennevnte signaturlåter gis det også rom for bandets mer eksperimentelle sider, som Lou Barlows “Lose” og “Poledo”. Særlig sistnevnte kom lofi-bølgen i forkjøpet, en trend Barlow selv skulle bli den fremste eksponent for med sine mange prosjekter (Sebadoh, Sentridoh, Folk Implosion). Peter Framptons ”Show Me The Way” virker som den naturlige avslutter på en plate som fremdeles tangerer det meste av gitarrocken som slippes i dag.

You’re Living All Over Me er stoner-rock for slacker-kids, hardcore for softcore-fans og støyrock for pophoder – og står igjen som en av 80-tallets fremste undergrunnsplater.
Bjørn Hammershaug