Friday, July 25, 2008

Mats Reissues

Folks, I've got no time for blogging right now. I do however have the first four Replacements reissues sitting here (thanks PJ) chock full of bonus cuts and extensive liner notes and have been enjoying them thoroughly. I can't wait for the next round due in September. The thing that strikes me the most is how great they were right out of the gate. That, and Paul Westerberg's unlikely and prodigious talent as a songwriter in a punk rock band. So with that said, I've compiled a little post here starting with the two tracks from their first single. The non LP b-side, "If Only You Were Lonely" was recorded late one night on the fly without the band. Westerberg made several home demos on guitar and piano of songs that the band wouldn't play. Here's a few of them. Among those, an early version of "Answering Machine" and a couple more that didn't make it to the reissues.


"I'm In Trouble" mp3
"If Only You Were Lonely" mp3
by The Replacements, 1981.
available on Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash

"You're Getting Married" mp3
by Paul Westerberg, 1982.
available on Stink

"Bad Worker" mp3
by Paul Westerberg, 1983.
available on Hootenanny

"Answering Machine" mp3
by Paul Westerberg, 1984.
available on Let It Be


"It's Hard to Wave In Handcuffs" mp3
by Paul Westerberg, 1983.
available on Unintentionally

"A Little Bit Drunk #3" mp3
by Paul Westerberg, 1983.
available on Unintentionally

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Jerry McGill

In the mid‑seventies, when he was red‑hot, Waylon played Memphis, and his one‑time rhythm guitar player and road manager, Curtis Buck, a/k/a Jerry McGill, came to the show in drag. McGill, who had a Memphis rock and roll band in the fifties and recorded for Sun Records, was eluding prosecution for various federal crimes. He had developed a problem traveling with Waylon when they put the metal detectors in airports. But there had been times when McGill's guns—he normally carried three, counting the one in his girlfriend's purse—had come in handy, like the time the cop had McGill's boss under arrest at the Hyatt House on Sunset Boulevard, and McGill talked him out of it. It's a scene we'll save for the film version.

by Stanley Booth, from Hands Up! Gadfly, November 1998.

and then there's the film version...

In one scene, the camera follows (Randall) Lyon into Jim Dickinson's backhouse studio, where assorted people are sitting around ... Some of the musicians are jamming - Dickinson is playing an electric guitar, (Jim) Lancaster, is at the piano. McGill, his gaunt and tapered face resembling a cobra's, takes hold of an acoustic guitar and performs a song. When he's done, Lyon starts spouting a soliloquy, holding a bottle of champagne in his hand. The camera surveys the room, but his words are clear. "This is a dis-ass-trous period in our time. We got to respond to what's going ahn or else we got to hang it up with kinder-goddamn-garten." Dickinson accompanies with apocalyptic feedback from his guitar, and it all becomes too claustrophobic for McGill. The camera whips around at the sound of gunfire - McGill has drawn and fired his pistol. He smashes the bottle with the barrel and then puts the gun against Lyon's head. The voices that squealed when the bullets caught them off guard have suddenly stilled. The guitar continues, a soundtrack like the Wild West saloon player who knows it's best to never stop. The camera remains focused on the gun, the gun always, because whoever may say whatever, the subject in that room is the gun.

"I'm gonna whip you with this gun barrel," says McGill, whose eyes shine like B.B.'s. "Be nice, be real nice." Lyon is doubled over at the waist, his head, his life, in McGill's hands. Then McGill, he is no longer McGill, he is Pancho Villa, he is Jesse James, he is completely and totally Lash LaRue - turns to the camera, sees that it's pointed right at him (he's still holding the gun), and he says, for the camera's benefit, "I don't care nothing about that." He'll do it for the world to see! In an instant, the pistol is waved, smashing the bottle in Randall's hand, and following the instant, smashing the light. The guitar feedback stops with the sudden darkness and the scene, take one, the only take, is over.

by Robert Gordon, from It Came From Memphis,1995.

The above is a description of Jerry McGill's scene in William Eggleston's video-verite Stranded In Canton shot in and around Memphis and New Orleans in 1974 with a Sony Porta-Pak that was rigged to shoot in low light situations. It's a remarkable foray into early video by a great photographer. For years, it sat in a vault at MIT, until Eggleston and Gordon edited the thirty hours of footage into a film in 2005. When I saw a screening of it at Lincoln Center a few years ago, I asked Robert who the guy playing guitar with Dickinson was. His response: "Jerry McGill - the original Rock and Roll outlaw." Below is McGill's entire recorded output - a lone single on Sun from 1959. Billy Lee Riley is on lead guitar. These days McGill's whereabouts are unknown. He is rumored to be serving time in Florida for murder.

* See comments below for updated information. [ed. July, 2009]


"Lovestruck" mp3
by Jerry McGill and The Topcoats, 1959.
out of print

"I Wanna Make Sweet Love" mp3
by Jerry McGill and The Topcoats, 1959.
out of print

William Eggleston is the subject of a major retrospective coming to the Whitney Museum in November.

Standed In Canton will be available as a Book/DVD by Twin Palms Publishers this Fall.

Top photo: by Randall Lyon from It Came From Memphis by Robert Gordon.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Search And Destroy

One evening, a few weeks ago, I was sitting at the computer working and listening to itunes, in shuffle, when Iggy and the Stooges came up and caught me by surprise. I hadn't listened to this record in quite some time. "Search and Destroy" came out of nowhere and ran through me like a shot of adrenaline, just as it has repeatedly since I was a teenager and bought the Raw Power LP out of the cutout bin at Streetside Records in St. Louis. After listening for a few moments, I realized I was listening to the bastardized remix that Iggy decided he had to do in 1997. I've never liked it. The original, mixed by David Bowie, is brutal. A lot of people, including Iggy don't like that one either. What's great about it is what's wrong about it. James Williamson's guitar is way too loud and it comes at you in spastic fits. It sounds like you're in a rehearsal studio, standing between the PA and guitar amp. And then there's the song. Iggy took the title from a Time Magazine article about the Vietnam War. He wrote it in London, high on dope and casually sitting under an oak tree in Kensington Park in his cheetah jacket. At the session they recorded a sabre fight with antique swords. I don't know if translates, but the attitude does. This is a nasty record and I love it.

So, with my temporary burst of energy, and after explaining to my son about The Stooges, I prompted him to get his shoes on and we were out the door. It was late, and we were on a quest. My copy of Raw Power on vinyl disappeared years ago. I'm not sure if I loaned it to someone or a roommate walked off with it, but I had to hear it. I had the fever, you see. Or maybe just a bad case of the Boogie Woogie Flu. First stop was Earwax on Bedford Avenue. I talked to the guy behind the counter explaining what I was looking for and trying not to appear totally insane. It helps to have a kid in tow, but considering the nature of my request it could be bring into question his safety. Luckily, they know me. They had a sealed copy of a reissue on 180 gram vinyl, that by all accounts looked like the original. I wasn't convinced. They even got Fabio (the owner of the store) on the phone. I talked to him for a bit, but he wasn't 100% sure either. I didn't buy it.

It was 9:00 already, and they were getting ready to close. We said our goodbyes. Realizing that stop number two - Academy Records - would also be closed, I picked up the phone and called my friend Nicholas Hill who lives around the corner. I asked him if he had it - he thought he did, but wasn't sure - if you saw his record collection, you'd know what I mean. We went over there and Lincoln played with the kids while Nick and I retreated to his basement. There was a fair amount of Iggy and even a bootleg of yet another (horrible) set of Raw Power mixes, but no dice on the genuine article. I was losing steam and it was a school night. I scooped up Lincoln and we went home.

After he went to bed, I checked out eBay. Nothing. Only the reissue that I had seen earlier. Then I looked at the Iggy singles, and found this curious item that we have here: a white label DJ copy of "Search and Destroy" Stereo on one side and Mono on the other. This is interesting for a few reasons. There are two versions of Raw Power on Vinyl and on CD, and bootlegs of varying unlistenable quality claiming to be the "definitive" mixes, but I'd never seen a Mono mix anywhere. Also, a Mono mix of Iggy and The Stooges, would have meant that the record company somehow thought that this was going to get some radio play on the AM dial for which these type of singles existed. Not much chance of that. Not in 1973, and not ever. So, I broke my six-month long moratorium on eBay purchases and placed the opening bid. Luckily, no one else needed to have this record as badly as me and 2 days, 6 hours, 46 minutes and 17 seconds later, it was mine. In the meantime, I looked for a used copy of the LP in town. I couldn't find one. It's not a rare record, I just couldn't find it, so I relented and bought the reissue. Afterall, it turns out to be the original mix, but something sounds different to me in the transfer. So, after leaving town and returning this week I heard the single - as I remembered it, a glorious noisy mess. Friends, this is what madness looks like, and this is how "a streetwalkin' cheetah with a heart full of napalm" is supposed to sound in Stereo and in Mono.


Search And Destroy (Stereo)
by Iggy and The Stooges, 1973.
out of print

Search And Destroy (Mono)
by Iggy and The Stooges, 1973.
out of print


Search And Destroy (Remix 1997)
by Iggy and The Stooges, 1973.
available on Raw Power

this one is actually pretty great.
Search And Destroy (Rough Mix)
by Iggy and The Stooges, 1973.
WABX Detroit
radio broadcast
available on Rough Power