Saturday, April 16, 2011

Omni: from the not so lucky country, back to US.

Americans make great music. There might be a lot of shitty things we hate about this place, but no one can argue that we make some of the greatest fucking music ever produced by the human species. Many of us are descended from British settlers, and the language we speak is still called 'English', but now it is they who emulate us. This is no great revelation. For instance, The Rolling Stones have never been anything other than a rhythm and blues band, trying their very hardest to emulate their idols: Chuck Berry, Scotty Moore, Jimmy Reed, Bo Diddley, Howlin' Wolf, Lightnin' Hopkins, the list goes on, and on, and on. Led Zeppelin were the same.

I hear people comment with some degree of incredulity that it is the Europeans- the Germans, for example- putting together all these collections of American music and then selling it back to us. The Bear Family label is a good example, not to mention all the hundreds of rockabilly comps like the Desperate Rock'n'Roll or That'll Flat Git It serieseses.

I'm not really leading up to any major point here, only that...DUH! We humans frequently take for granted what is easily accessible or at least familiar, and rhythm and blues, rock'n'roll, country and rockabilly certainly are that to Americans. It isn't really surprising then that an Australian label is now giving us back some of the bitterest, weirdest, not-square-est country music we've ever made. I'm talking about Omni Recordings, a project of basically one guy who happens to have a taste for American country music and has licensed quite a wide range of it from Columbia and other original labels. In many cases, he is using the master tapes and reissuing recordings that were previously available only on 78s. A friend of mine who works for Allmusic got this as a promo, and I decided I could no longer be aware of the great shit Omni was doing without asking for some of it for WCBN. As a college radio station, it just isn't in our budget to go out and buy everything we want, so we have to ask for freebies. That is how things work. In the old days, radio was free advertising for record companies.

So I wrote to Omni, and I asked nicely and said please, and would you believe, I received a reply saying they were trying to cut down on promos because postage was so expensive from Australia but what the hell, since I made a great case for WCBN. Two weeks later a box arrived, with 12 CDs in it. It was far more than we expected, and then last week another bigger box with even more goodies in it arrived, and all we've done is fax the guy some money for the international postage. We now have practically the whole Omni catalog.

This post is basically me urging all three of you to buy something from Omni. Even if you don't like country, there is probably something there you will like. He is reissuing Bruce Haack, for example, for all you vintage electro heads. Keep the man solvent so WCBN can keep playing more great American music. And all music. On this phony, dying-music-industry-created "record store day", be glad there are still labels out there making great stuff available to you.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

What a nice young man...

Sunday, April 10: Another record fair at Weber's. (Next one July 10.) I broke my usual rule of avoiding the collectibles or pretty much any record priced higher than $1. The reason some people have this rule is obvious: because if they didn't, they'd either go home frustrated because they couldn't buy all this stuff they really wanted but was out of their price range, or they'd go home knowing they were going to spend the next six months eating out of dumpsters and hitting up relatives to pay the rent.

There was this one dealer with a corner spot who had hundreds of 45s, in stacks and in boxes, no sleeves, no order, no prices. They were filthy and beat up. How much did he want? A dollar a record! Crazy record fair motherfuckers: I swear I am not imagining that you think I was born yesterday because I am a girl. Well then, kindly bend over and suck my dick. Come back when it's quarter to four and you still somehow have 40 boxes of records to carry back out of the basement.

Anyway, close to the crazy man, there was another man, with one box of quarter 45s and a table of newer, pricier stuff. I made the mistake of looking and got a Talking Heads album of demos they made for CBS in 1975, before they had Jerry Harrison. I also got a 3-CD box of live New York Dolls from 1973-1974 (sound isn't bad) and the Bruce Haack LP "Electric Lucifer". It's not an original, it's the first reissue, but I am not a collector, I am a listener. I also picked up the Dick Hyman "Age of Electronicus" LP, which is Dick doing whacked out versions of the day's hits on the Moog. For instance, check this one out:

There's lots more great stuff in this list but I can't remember what it all is right now. Anyway, you don't need a list. You're probably wondering if I'll ever upload an album and post a link to it on this blahg. Hmmm. I wonder, too.

Now, back to the title of this post. I think my eventual stack ended up totaling in the $60 ballpark, but the nice man at this table knocked quite a bit off, asked me for $40, and said me and my accompaniment were the nicest people who had been at his table all day. Aww, shucks. What a nice young man.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Lightning Strikes!

One post per week. Maybe then you'll click on the ads enough that this will be worth my while. No just kidding. Saturday April 2 the B-Side hosted Providence's Lightning Bolt. It is my belief that much of the audience did not know what hit them.

Instead of setting up in the middle of the floor, as they are known to do, the duo stuck with convention and used the stage. Presumably half the crowd was just there for a spectacle and expecting insanity, so they created it. The last time I got so crushed by an audience surging towards the stage was probably the time I saw the Ramones about a million years ago. Funnily enough, that was in Providence. Anyway, there wasn't really enough room to move for people to get out of hand, but somehow a few of them managed to levitate out of the mob enough to crowd-surf. They nearly destroyed the suspended stage lighting in the process. To their credit, NZ staff on the premises did not freak out or try to stop people from...uh...dancing.

Well. It's been some time since I was pressed hard against so many sweaty youths. As much as I enjoy it, this time I opted out of elbows in the throat and armpits in the nose and heads in the chin, and retreated to higher ground behind the mob.

For some time I lived far away in an exotic land where rock & roll was still new, fresh, and forbidden, and on the rare occasion a band managed to play a few songs on a stage before the authorities shut them down, the teenage audiences would lose their minds and go into this frenzy of emotional release. They needed to blow off steam and rock music, the heavier and louder the better, was their way of venting, rebelling, escaping, shocking, and banding together. In writing this appears to sound tame and obvious, but this was a society where expressing your individuality was frowned on, where no normal kids would dare to scream in public or behave in any way that might embarrass their families.

In a weird way, this crowd last night reminded me of those days when it was clear the kids didn't care what was in front of them as long as it was loud and they could rip their shirts off and scream their lungs out and then go home and change back into their public persona.

Are you still reading this? Wow, thanks, I guess. This is why I don't post every week. Who wants to read it, anyway.