Body Builder Xmas Special

It’s been hella quiet round here lately but that may change. I have been doing lots of music lately. This first track I’m putting up is  your Xmas present from me. Listen to it after eating to much. Love Steve.

SOUTHERN STEVE: BODYBUILDER.MP3

I’m gonna be the biggest man that I possibly can I possibly can I possibly can

I’m not fuckin’ with ya I wanna pump til my muscles hump and til the veins in my arms explode

I’m gonna be the biggest man that I possibly can I possibly can I possibly can

I won’t lie to you now (Why would I lie to you now?) I won’t rest til I look the best because I’m carrying the heaviest load

I wanna be a bodybuilder

I’m gonna be a bodybuilder

ooh ahh

(Merry Xmas.)

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Introducing the Song Archive

Another site makeover post:

I figured that new people coming here might not be able to get hold of all the different mp3s easily, especially if you are not blog-savvy. They are kind of scattered throughout the site.

So I have made an archive page where all the major recordings are listed and you can download from there, or go to the actual post in question if you want to know more about the song. The archive doesn’t include covers, or songs by other bands, but it does include collaborations.

This willl be updated as time goes on.

Happy browsing,

Steve.

Patrik Fitzgerald – Grubby Stories

patrik_fitzgerald

Come and get yer punk in Woolworfs...

Really, you’d have thought a guy who was like a cross between Johnny Rotten and Bob Dylan would have been more famous. Or, maybe, way less famous. But I don’t think anyone could possibly have predicted that Patrik Fitzgerald (born ‘Patrick’ Fitzgerald) would have been exactly as famous as he was, no more and no less.

Mp3 file: Patrik Fitzgerald – 10 Songs from Grubby Stories (1979)

This guy has been making a right  nuisance of himself since 1975; knocking on managers’ doors, painting his name on people’s cars, crashing parties, stalking people, busking outside funerals,  and playing so many solo acoustic shows in front of punk punters that eventually Polydor went “Oh, alright Patrik, you can have your bloody record contract if you’ll just shut-up!'”And so Grubby Stories was born.

(Disclaimer: story not actually true. I just wanted to make it sound exciting and I didn’t want to copy the Wikipedia entry).

The truth is, my sister came home with a copy of this record one day (after borrowing it off this jerk called Nathan (who I once saw in his underwear (which was red))) and we decided it was just as good as all the other music we liked, and never gave it back.

I’ve spent the last twenty-five years vaguely wondering why no-one else ever seems to have heard of it, except for all the people who have (and they all seem to be wondering why no-one else has heard of it either).

Apparently Patrik moved from Polydor after a few records, and continued to make records which apparently sound increasingly like David Bowie on a bad day. He now lives in New Zealand where he has a Myspace and does solo shows and stuff, and maybe walks on the same bits of dirt that Chris Knox sometimes walks on. But I wouldn’t really know about any of that. I’ve only heard this record.

The story behind this mp3 is that a few years ago I dug this old bit of vinyl out of my cupboard, recorded it onto my computer (before I realised what the earthing wire on the stereo was for) and then sold it for ten dollars just before moving to the tropics.

(Nathan: I lost your record, I’m very sorry.)

Anyway, here is Patrik Fitzgerald, the forlorn pioneer of folk punk, in all his two chord acoustic wonderness. Well, most of it is acoustic, but some of it is played by a band featuring members of The Buzzcocks and Penetration, whom Patrik somehow managed to get to sound a fair bit like early U.K. Squeeze. But the lyrics are the main thing, really; alternately weird and very strightforward, and all delivered with a cockney nasal despair which is truly beautiful.

If you like your punk music strange and offbeat, I strongly advise that you listen to these tunes, at once.

Mp3 file: Patrik Fitzgerald – 10 Songs from Grubby Stories (1979)

The Ten Songs:

  • As Ugly As You
  • Nothing to Do Around Here (with evil children)
  • All My Friends Are Dead Now
  • Adopted Girl
  • When I Get Famous
  • Little Fishes (brilliant song, my favourite)
  • But Not Any More
  • Conventions of Life
  • They Make It Safe
  • Your Hero

Not really a ‘fan’ any more…

When I was a teenager I was a fanatic follower of various bands and would have easily been able to tell you what my twelve favourite albums were. I would have been happy if someone asked me. Of course, no-one ever did.

Then I got into playing music and stopped listening so much. When you are spending every day jamming or performing, or listening to your friends’ bands, you don’t listen to recorded music for entertainment. Well, I didn’t, anyway. I needed a break from it. Silent time was good time.

For the last ten years or so I have been getting increasingly into music but something has changed… I’m not a fan any more.  For example, I used to love The Buzzcocks to the point where I would have argued heatedly if you pointed out that A Different Kind of Tension is a bad record in a lot of places. Now…I’d probably be the one telling you that.

I don’t want to hear Pete Shelley’s bad songs! Can’t I just listen to the good songs? Isn’t that what compilation albums are for?

I’ve been this way for a while. I remember laughing, years ago, when someone tried to defend London Calling as a “brilliant punk album.” My point was that lots of the second half is bullshit. (I can’t even remember how a lot of those songs go, they are so ordinary. I just want to hear Hateful and Coca Cola). But this guy was prepared to stand there and say that “every song is totally fantastic and that The Clash were the best band ever.”

I kind of miss that. I don’t seem to be able to defend bands any more. And there’s virtually no single album from back then I’d listen to the whole way through.

Consequently when I come to review my list of top twelve albums I have a lot of caveats and a lot of my favourite bands don’t even make it. Here’s an alphabetised list of what I’m talking about…

The B52s: The self-titled debut is easily on the list of favourite albums but Wild Planet suffered incredibly from difficult second album syndrome. I loved the direction they were going on Mesopotamia but let’s face it, they didn’t really have the talent to sustain it. The rest of their stuff is wack. ‘Love Shack’ included.

The Buzzcocks: The first two albums are great punk but  eh, I’m not happy with Singles Going Steady as a choice here. I prefer a compilation called I Don’t Mind The Buzzcocks and even that has some shit choices and key songs missing.

The Clash: This band really do not have a single LP that makes the list, let alone a double or a triple. Sandanista is just crap. I love the songs ‘Stay Free’, ‘All the Young Punks’  and ‘Safe European Home’ so much that I can say Give Em Enough Rope is my favourite record by this band but that is about all I can say.

The Cramps: This band had flashes of total genius on every early album but I can’t imagine sitting through a whole record and Off the Bone has all the wrong songs on it. How can you say it is a “best of” without ‘Teenage Werewolf?’

Devo. OK, this is an exception. Duty Now For the Future is amazing, and I could say it is one of my favourite records by a favourite band. Are We Not Men is close behind.

The Gun Club: Fire of Love is one of my favourite records but I actually don’t like much else by this band…so I couldn’t say they are one of my favourite bands.

Hunters and Collectors: The Jaws of Life. This is the best record ever made in Australia, although I don’t listen to much other HanC and find their early stuff a bit too arty (although the Towtruck EP is sublime) and their later stuff too wussy. I think this is almost brilliant by accident: a confluence of a very good band in perfect form with a great producer.

The Jam: I love this band, and Sound Affects is probably in my top twelve, but Dig the New Breed is another option. So, probably an exception, altough once again I’d really rather just make my own compilation…

Joy Division: Lots of Unknown Pleasures is actually kind of boring and maudlin and most of their really good songs are not there. Whoever chose the tracks on Substance has parts of their brain missing. I can say that Closer is may favourite record by this band, and that they are one of my favourite bands. But strangely, this does not translate into saying it is one of my favourite albums.

New Order: ‘Procession’ is my favourite song and I have gotten exquisite pleasure listening to this band on early recordings but would not put either Movement or Power, Corruption and Lies on my list, and actively hate a lot of their new stuff.

The Ramones: End of the Century. I hate a lot of the Ramones later work but the songwriting is good enough on this record to carry it. Only a few tracks stink. I would miss ‘California Sun’ and ‘Sheena but there really is a lot of filler on those early records and I couldn’t listen to a whole one.

Velvet Underground: I’m almost tempted to say Loaded just because the two singles were so good, but really The Banana Album is their best work and if it isn’t in my top twelve, I don’t know what is. I’m not even sure if I like this band the rest of the time.

So, y’see what I’m saying, right? I’m just not a fan any more. A lot of music is just too…bad.

March of the Stickmen

Here’s a double-take of one of my favourite discoveries of the last few years – Philadelphia band The Stickmen, who emerged in the post-punk chaos of the late 70s, made a few albums, had white vans that broke down, got given pretentious labels by critics, drank milkshakes, broke up, got mortgages, died tragically, reformed, had children, gained PhDs, got cynical, moved to the tropics, put out compilation albums, all the usual things.

Actually, some of that was me rather than the Stickmen. Sorry.

Anyway, what can you expect to hear? Imagine what the B52s would have sounded like if only their mothers had stopped drinking when they got pregnant, and then if their rhythm section got kidnappped and somehow replaced by some of the guys from the Birthday Party without anyone noticing, and then the resulting ensemble tried to play two different songs at the same time.

Or just listen to the tracks. Whichever you prefer….

I got these tracks a while back over on one of the usual post-punk haunts, PPJ I think, but they aren’t there now so I’m putting them back up for you. They are both from the Instiable compilation CD, and they both rawk. Frenetic dum-drums, bonky bass, twisty geetar, krazee v-v-v-vocals, squonky saxophone and gosh-darn weird clavinet! Go!

GSS

A Career in Virtue

Great Southern Steve – A Career in Virtue (mp3)

Here’s some more banjo folk from the Live at Home album, as a few folks liked the Golden Retriever tune from a few posts back.

This song, however, is anything but jaunty, although it does have kind of sombre sea-shanty thing going on. It’s based on a banjo riff I wrote when I was about nineteen. It’s worth remembering the things you wrote when you are nineteen because they are often more natural than things you write later.

Anyway, I had in mind for the lyrics the character of a priest in a remote location, who had brought his wife along, promising glory in the service of God, but delivering misery in the service of his alcoholism.

Yes, I know, what a cheery thing to write about. I’m such a ray of sunshine.

The final part was written over here in Melanesia. ‘Blacktop’ is what they call a ‘tar’ road, to distinguish between that and most of the roads, which are just dirt. It is dusty, hot and everyone drinks too much.

Anyway here it is.

So starch my collar up and bring my liquor down

And I’ll kill the memories that dog my days

Even if I’d lived across the other side of town

I’ll bet this would have happened anyway

I gave up a career in virtue

For the chance to hold you by my side

I promised that nothing could hurt you

Sweet innocence,

You know I lied.

Local Heroes Sw9 – Drip Dry Zone

Buy it from Amazon...

Buy it from Amazon...

In the heady year of 1980, when I was ten, Kevin Armstrong (guitar, vox), Kim Barti (drums), and Matthew Seligman (bass) recorded and released a hidden classic of British post-punk, the album Drip Dry Zone. The trio were later joined by Thomas Dolby on synths for a subsequent release called New Opium, before Dolby went solo, Armstrong decided to become a session musician rather than a front man, and Seligman continued with the Soft Boys and then also turned to session work.

I know it is a cliché to say that bands “should have gained more recognition” when all you really mean is that you like them. So, to cut to the chase, I really like this band. They have hints of XTC, the Clash, the Soft Boys, the Jam, and the Police, but with a great deal of their own charm. The bass playing is wonderful and the guitar is layered and intricate, the songs well written, the singing grainy and emotive and very English. All in all, the sound is a winner.

Local Heroes SW9 were a British post-punk band not afraid of being clever, and this may have cost them the exposure that many lesser and more derivative acts attracted.  But it’s not too late. Check out these two tracks, and if you want to buy the album (really, it’s all good), click the cover to go to Amazon, or start by reading this thread at Charlie Gillett’s website. It tells the story of how the digital re-release of the two albums was inspired, and contains posts from Armstrong himself on its creation.

Cheers,

GSS.