IT'S A LIVING… BUT IT'S NOT A LIFE #12.93
J Church / Honey Bear ­ Back to School Issue
They cannot tolerate our minds

 

BUY SOCIETY IS A CARNIVOROUS FLOWER

Oh, I'm an idiot. People have been asking. Yeah, of course, you can order the new record directly from me. They're $9.00 ppd for either the LP or CD.

 

SOCIETY IS A CARNIVOROUS FLOWER INNER GROOVE

Everybody writes on that little groove after the last track on each side of their vinyl releases. I've been obsessed with it ever since I noticed, "Tear… Down… The… Walls!" on the four sides of London Calling as I overanalyzed that record. So, J Church usually does the same thing. I thought the little notes written on our latest record were obvious, but I guess I was wrong.

One side says "Twist". He's a friend from way back and one of my favorite contemporary artists, graffiti or otherwise. Wanted to even in a small way give him some props.

The other side says "Jesse" who, while not as legendary, is a good friend from here in Austin.

 

THE FEST 3

Looks like we are playing at the Fest 3 in Gainesville at the end of October. I'm not totally sure who we're playing with or when or where. But I know it's on the 30th. We'll be playing a Halloween show somewhere in Athens and then maybe a show in New Orleans either on the way there or on the way back.

 

EBAY

I'm selling stuff on Ebay again. I've got the J Church / Honey Bear stuff. But I'm also selling some DVDs cheap…

 

TOP TEN

The Bay Area was making cool music long before punk. Here's a new Top Ten: Best Pre-Punk San Francisco / Bay Area Rock Albums

1. Jefferson Airplane - The Worst of…
The Jefferson Airplane is one of my all time favorite bands. They're up there with the Damned and the Who and Coltrane. I love `em and it's hard for me to pick just one great record. So I'm cheating a little. But this was the record that introduced me to the band. My Mom would listen to it all the time and the song Later would really freak me out. I knew what was happening. But the structure was so mysterious to me. Same for White Rabbit… I love the competing vocals, the competing guitars, the frantic pace. I think Jack Casady is one of the coolest bass players of all time. This album also includes Crown of Creation and Volunteers, two of my all time favorite rock songs.

2. Creedence Clearwater Revival - Cosmo's Factory
El Cerrito's pride and joy, my first and fave album of theirs has got to be Cosmo's Factory. The same cool Aunt that got me into Exile On Main Street and Black Sabbath passed this record down to me. Six outstanding albums in two years? I wish I were so prolific. Shit, there are great tunes on every Creedence record. An intense and rugged affair, I had already known Who'll Stop The Rain, Lookin' Out My Back Door and Up Around The Bend from the radio. I love Marvin Gaye, but for me this is the definitive version of Heard It Through The Grapevine. Fuck me, there have been some great versions of that track! As far as great American rock, they're surely up there with the Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, etc.

3. Flaming Groovies - Shake Some Action
First coming together in the mid'60s, the Groovies were at the wrong place at the wrong time with their electric blues via British Invasion garage rock that was at odds with the far less agro scene at Winterland of the Fillmore. But by the `70s they were making some all-time classic rock records best summarized in Shake Some Action. Sixteen tight and emotionally driven pop songs with some of the most in your face guitars of the time.

4. Moby Grape - s/t
Skip Spence may or may not have been a genius. Having quit as the Airplane's drummer, he started Moby Grape to focus on his songwriting and guitar playing. The band's fantastic first LP showcases both with great structurally sound music ranging from rock to blues to country without insulting or merely dabbling in any of the genres. Despite the intricate and imaginative three guitar attack, the record still remains song-driven over classics like Fall On You and Omaha.

5. Sly and the Family Stone - Stand!
From '67 to '73, Sly and the Family Stone made some solid records. Only from San Francisco could you find a group almost evenly mixed black/white, men/women playing music unlike anything before. Sly Stone was the first to cross r'n'b with r'n'r to come up with a form of electric soul that felt like anthems and dance music at the same time. Stand! was the one I remember as a kid partly because I have a weird memory of seeing them do I Wanna Take You Higher live and I don't remember if it was on TV or one of the Crater Festivals my Mom used to take me to. The eloquent Everyday People is here too along with the title track, You Can Make It If You Try and the notorious Don't Call Me Nigger, Whitey.

6. Beau Brummels - Introducing
From San Mateo, the Beau Brummels were part of the American response to the Beatles and their 1965 debut is chock full of great songs on par with the best American pop rock of the time. Their greatest hits, Laugh Laugh, Still In Love With You Baby and the incredible Just A Little, are all featured here at the top of the batting order. But every track is a memorable tune. They really laid the groundwork for the poppier side of the Haight Ashbury scene.

7.The Great Society - Somebody To Love
As much as I love the Jefferson Airplane, I'm totally intrigued by The Great Society and that's mostly because of this weird little record on Harmony that I picked up on a whim. Grace Slick's previous band, this record includes the original version of Somebody To Love as well as some other fantastic numbers like Born To Be Burned and Nature Boy. More precise and musically educated, The Great Society were like an academic version of the Airplane with much clearer, notated reference points in jazz, blues and Indian modal playing. Not the greatest recording, but it's enough to make the band totally mysterious and intriguing.

8.Blue Cheer - Vincebus Eruptum
Okay, they weren't really that great of a band and most of their other albums sort of stunk. But this is a great one for the sheer absurdity of it. Hey, Summertime Blues right? It's the all time, ultimate Closet Classic.

9.The Grateful Dead - Anthem of the Sun
Yeah, I know it ain't cool. I mostly hate `em and the fans drive me up the wall. But they inspired Black Flag and even Tim Yo would defend them. I've got to be honest with you and say that I like a couple of the Dead's albums. Anthem of the Sun doesn't feature Truckin' or Touch of Gray or any of the songs we've come to hate. It's their second LP and is probably their most wildly experimental with huge walls of electronic noise that are often more like Can or Neu than the band you're thinking of. What can I say? I'm trying to be honest here. I ain't cool.

10. The Charlatans - s/t
Their only release while still a band, the Charlatans' self-titled debut didn't light the world on fire like a lot of people hoped. Knowing they were the first band on the Haight-Ashbury scene, I first heard this record expecting some sort of acid freak out. Instead I get this chilled out, easy going, folk rock record. A lot of people think it's a bit too tame. But I've always thought it was sort of enjoyable despite the occasional corny hillbilly tunes.

 

IN THE J CHURCH VIEWING ROOM

BAADASSSSS (dir. by Mario Van Peebles)

Man, I was so fucking excited when I heard that this film was being made. When I was a kid, I would spend weekends with my Dad. There are two things I remember doing. One was shopping for model ships and airplanes from World War II. The other was going to see two or three movies in an afternoon. We saw EVERY Hong Kong action movie and EVERY blaxploitation flick that came out in the early `70s. So Melvin Van Peebles and Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song holds a special place for me in my memories.

Based on his father's book, Mario Van Peebles recreated the story of the making of Sweet Sweetback… and the incredible struggle it took to get it funded and distributed. First, the major studios wanted nothing to do with a film about a black man turned revolutionary who kills a cop and gets away with it. They didn't want anyone making a film where city cops are exposed as racist and crooked. The racist unions wouldn't allow him to make a movie with a crew of whites, blacks, Latinos and Asians. To make matters worse, real racist cops step in and arrest half of the crew illegally.

Basically, this film is American Splendor meets Reds. It's the story of a guy working outside of the system eventually developing support from committed people who understood his vision with the ultimate triumph being the movie itself. Like Reds, there are talking heads giving testimonials throughout. My favorite scene in American Splendor is the final moment where you get to see Harvey's actual retirement party with no actors and all real people. At the end of Baadasssss you get to see the real people and I thought I was going to cry. It's a great movie all the way to the very last second.

WATTSTAX (dir. by Mel Stuart)

Late one night when I was a kid, I was watching TV by myself like I did almost every weekend in the wee hours (I still can't sleep). I came across Wattstax one night and it blew me away. I had never heard of the Watts Riots. I certainly had never heard of the Wattstax concert. It was a totally eye-opening experience.

Now over 30 years later, Wattstax is finally out on DVD and it's beautiful. It's probably the best music documentary ever made. Seven years after the riots in Watts, a concert was thrown at the LA Coliseum where 100,000 people came out to remember the event. The film covers the concert with amazing sound quality and some of the only live footage I've ever seen by amazing groups like the Staples, the Emotions, the totally amazing Bar-Kays… You also get the criminally underrated Carla Thomas with one of the greatest voices of all time coming through crystal clear in this new digital release.

Along with the music you get the classic between song banter with Rufus Thomas and the audience, you get Richard Pryor at his peak, you get Melvin Van Peebles doing his thing and you get Jesse Jackson hosting. Most fascinating to me, however, are the many interviews with just regular folks in Watts. Completely engrossing, the comments are sad, funny and let you emotionally know what the concert was about.

 

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