Here’s a Japanese Billy Squier EP with two live tracks on Side A and a round-up of three hits on Side B. I used the Google Translate app to read some of the liner notes and they seem to be pure stream-of-consciousness, with the writer noting that the EP is being released to coincide with Squier’s Japanese concerts that May but that the EP won’t be out until June, and that he’s writing the notes in mid-April, so he’s never seen Squier play but surely they’ll be good concerts because the live tracks sound ok. It’s a riot. At least the music’s good.
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).
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.
With so many big names of 1980s college rock involved in this 1976 indie release before they became semi-famous—Mitch Easter, Chris Stamey and Don Dixon—it’s sort of surprising how underwhelming this rare EP is. They would learn how to write classic songs soon enough.
This is my Easter-related post: With so many big names of 1980s college rock involved in this 1976 indie release before they became semi-famous—Mitch Easter, Chris Stamey and Don Dixon—it’s sort of surprising how underwhelming this rare EP is. They would learn how to write classic songs soon enough.