Music from the Commodore Amiga games Sensible Soccer and Cannon Fodder
The Stranglers “6 Songs” 1986. Comp EP, Liberty Records, Greek import. Today, August 28th, is Stranglers’ vocalist/guitarist Hugh Cornwell’s 70th birthday (b. 1949). UK pub rock goes punk goes new wave/post punk, this EP is a collection of singles from the 70′s through 80′s. On Side A: “Nice ‘n’ Sleazy,” which went to #18 in the UK in ‘78 and appeared on their LP Black and White; “Strange Little Girl,” a single from ‘82 that hit #7 (UK) and was originally written back in ‘74, the year The Stranglers formed; and “No More Heroes,” one of my favorite Strangler songs, all swirly keyboards, which went to #8 and was the title track from the 1977 album No More Heroes. On Side B: “Golden Brown,” a decidedly unpunk single that hit #2 in the UK in early ‘82 (their highest chart hit), it’s a sweet Donovan-esque lilting number with baroque harpsichord, some psychedelic guitar and saxophone; “Hanging Around,” definitely more of a rocker which appeared on their 1977 debut Rattus Norvegicus; and “La Folie,” an ephemeral 1982 single from their album of the same name (released in late ‘81) which went to #47 in the UK and was sung in French by bassist Jean-Jacques Burnel.
Sonic Youth “Death Valley 69″ 1985 EP, Homestead Records/Blast First Records. First released as a 7″ single in 1984 and then included on Sonic Youth’s second LP Bad Moon Rising (1985), “Death Valley 69″ features no-wave artist Lydia Lunch on vocals along with Thurston Moore on vocals and guitar, Kim Gordon on bass, Bob Bert – who is currently touring as part of Jon Spencer’s Hitmakers band – on drums, and Lee Ranaldo on guitar. It is a dark, loud, powerful post-punk noise rock masterpiece. This was the first song I ever heard by Sonic Youth; a friend of mine had this EP in ‘85 and I listened to her copy obsessively after making a tape (our vinyl copy is a relatively new acquisition). “Death Valley 69″ is about the Charles Manson murders of 1969 which puts its sinister vibe into serious context. The B-side of the EP has the tracks “I Dream I Dreamed” (a no-wave shoegazer), “Inhuman” (industrial-tinged noise rock), “Brother James” (driving dissonance in minor, creepy as hell yet weirdly catchy) and “Satan is Boring” (all no-wave, really really creepy chanting, no discernible melody or beat).
“The Boy Who Destroyed The World”
Wipers “Alien Boy” 1980/2019 Record Store Day release. Jackpot Records, 4 song EP from the original master tapes, first time reissued. “Alien Boy,” along with the B-side tracks “Image of Man,” “Telepathic Love” and “Voices in the Rain” also appear on the Wipers’ 1980 debut album Is This Real? initially released on Park Avenue Records and then reissued on SubPop in 1993 without the band’s involvement. Apparently the tracks were first recorded on a four-track recorder in the Wipers’ rehearsal space and then rerecorded more professionally for the LP. I can’t be sure about the masters used for this RSD 7″ but the sound is pretty good: a punked-up, Devo-ish weirdness and a lot of high-end tension in the guitar.
The track “Alien Boy” is about James Chasse, a Portland, Oregon man who suffered from mental illness and was a friend of Wipers frontman/guitarist Greg Sage (their conversations inspired much of the lyrical imagery on Is This Real?). Chasse (aka Jim Jim) was killed by two Portland police officers in 2006. Sage wrote in a 2007 website entry for Zeno Records about Chasse’s death at the hands of the Portland police: “The Sad Facts: Jim’s toxicology came back clean, no drugs – alcohol. All 17 of his ribs were broken. His lung was punctured. He suffered head trauma from being kicked while he was on the ground. He was not taken to a hospital, but to jail. He died in the back of the squad car. Medical Examiner Reports: James Chasse was bludgeoned to death. Witnesses claim excessive force was used. It would seem that the police would have known that Jim Jim was disabled since he spent so much time on the streets. So far the PDX police claim that his death is Justified!” There was additional public outcry about the incident and after a few years and investigation, the officers were mostly exonerated but steps were taken for the police to change their training on dealing with their response to citizens with mental illness.