Reviewed by Music/Program Director Brian Turner

VARIOUS It Came From Memphis Volume 2 (Birdman)
Utterly jawdropping collection that follows up on the mid-90s disc which accompanied Robert Gordon's "It Came From Memphis" book, a fantastic read which put a long-overdue spotlight on some of the folks inhabiting the corners and jukejoints in the shadow of Elvis and Al Green (and even lesser known than Alex Chilton and Big Star). While Volume 1 introduced listeners to many of the modern scenesters carrying the traditional roots torch into the modern day (it was my first introduction to Lorette Velvette's great solo stuff), Volume 2 scrapes up some insanely incredible archival material mostly from the mid 60's to 80's and what a carnival of sounds. Besides some odd pieces of history (BB King's first recording, under the name BB Cunningham, plus a very bizarro version of Chuck Berry's "Memphis, Tennessee" by pro-wrestler and Andy Kaufman asskicker Jerry Lawler), we're treated to out-of-nowhere blasts of distorto blues from Moloch (who used to travel to open punk shows in New York in the 80's), the Bootleggers, and fife-and-drum legend Otha Turner. A huge cog in this big wheel through the years has been Jim Dickinson (producer of Big Star, Replacements, pappy to 2/3 of the North Mississippi All-Stars), who is well-represented in many of these ensembles (Mud Boy and the Neutrons, the New Beale Street Sheiks, and offering some almost Hasil Adkins-in-the-red-times-four vocals to Soldiers of the Cross'incredible, burning, "Go Down Slow". Dickinson clearly was a guide in leading the town's various session cats and talents into some wild realms that continued to filter through the 90's. Tav Falco and Panther Burns (who, along with Alex Chilton, helped drag Memphis into the "new wave" of the 80s) does a version of "Train Kept a Rollin" on local TV that sounds it had a flying saucer landing right on the set, then gets literally barked at by the show's hostess, who accuses the band of being "anti-music" and "bitter" and refuses to let them start their second number. May many more volumes of this stuff keep flowing!

TOWER RECORDINGS Folk Scene (Communion)
It was possibly one of the most fun WFMU benefits ever when we got to include both Prince Paul and the Tower Recordings on a bill at the Smackmellon Warehouse among others. For the uninitiated, the NYC-via-Connecticut collective has been floating down the Hudson on a very strange kind of lillypad for the last six years. Both embracing the ambiguity and shrouds of mystery that bands like Blowhole, the Shadow Ring and Six Organs of Admittance have cloaked themselves with, as well as creating a very rooted existence among other downtown moon-howlers like Hall of Fame (who share members with TR), each new recording by these folks has been most welcome. While some tend to peg them as merely a neo-folkie band of experimentivists (and indeed one can detect a love for the sounds of Anne Briggs and the Incredible String Band, especially in TR guitarist PG Six's recent solo record), they seem to be much more embracing of a wider spectrum of sounds than they get credit for. This new release (which is a reissue of last year's 10" LP with 14 new tracks added) is much more akin to Faust's "Tapes"; a superb display of the vast possibilities of sound, with many short pieces acting like sketches leading you from mindframe to mindframe.

LANGUAGE REMOVAL SERVICES Sampler V.2.0 (Language Removal Services)
Not quite an artist or creative collective by definition, LRS see themselves as an actual public service of providing insight into individuals' unique methods of communication via their non-verbal appropriation of sounds. Seemingly by removing words by digital editing, one can see distinct habits of throat-clearing, saliva use, fumbling, swallowing, etc. and how all this strung together actually creates its own language. This disc chronicles the non-verbal communications of Maria Callas, Marilyn Monroe, Princess Diana, Sly Stallone, Noam Chomsky, Bob Guccione, William Burroughs, Thelonious Monk and others, and they'll do it for you too, of course, as part of their service. Amazing note: Record Fair Director Mike Lupica walked in as I was screening this and correctly identified the gutteral grunts of Henry Rollins without even knowing the concept. That is very impressive (or worrysome, maybe Mike has spent too much time with Hank?) They are next year offering the first of their Ecstatic Opera series, a version of a 1904 aria sung by Adelina Patti. (

PHANTASM Wreckage (Deep Six)
This rocks mightily! Phantasm were a bay area punk/thrash/metal hybrid that featured Ron McGoveny (who preceded Cliff in very early Metallica) and the soaring vibrato vox of Katon W. DePena (who also fronted the band Hirax). The live half of this disc especially, recorded in 1987, has a most pleasing all-these-elements-don't-make-sense-at-all-but-rock-amazingly vibe, like the greatest bunch of metal kids you ever saw going nuts in their dad's garage with lots of raging/sloppy Greg Ginn-isms shredding everywhere.

VARIOUS Can't Stop It! Australian Post Punk 1978-82 (Chapter)
A much welcome anthology indeed. While many folks have already seen how bands like This Heat, the Fall, Contortions and Raincoats have manifested themselves by influencing various UK, American, and New Zealand indie rock releases of the 80s, and 90s, few have seen what kind of din had been drummed up in Oz. Besides the Moodists, Apartments, and the (legendary and totally insane) Slugfuckers, I hadn't heard of any of the other bands included (Essendon Airport, Xero, the Limp, Ron Rude, Tch Tch Tch (clicking noise with your tongue!) and the wonderfully named People With Chairs Up Their Noses) but thanks to the compilers at Australian label Chapter Records (with some help from David Nichols of the Cannanes) here is a very generous helping. Like a lot of the DIY-aesthethic stuff of the post-punk area, much of this is crudely recorded, ultra-low-tech and scabby, and at times shimmering with precious pop elements found on early Television Personalities records. Can I reiterate how great the Slugfuckers were!?

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