Somewhere in the middle of that clear soda guzzling decade we call the 1990’s, I grew pretty tired of where my beloved Hardcore scene was heading. I had no desire to sit cross legged on the basement floor of a church weeping to the strains of a band with a four word name nor did I want to revive the Youth Crew scene I already lived through. It was starting to feel that it might be time for someone to cue up ‘This Used to Be My Playground’ and led me down the aisle into the oblivion of normalcy.
Luckily, through the guidance of my older brother and some of his other recording hording pals, I found a new way to waste my time and money. They drew my attention to the mail order catalogs of the then just blooming Forced Exposure distro and record dealers like the highly estimable Paul Major. While devouring these hand stapled, pain-stakingly assembled lists of serial numbers and vinyl grading conditions, I was attracted to any record that was described with the words ‘crude’, ‘homespun’ ‘deranged’ or ‘fuzz drenched’. In my nimble little brain, I figured there had to some aesthetical parallel between something like Vicitm in Pain and anything considered ‘homespun’ or ‘deranged’. Am I right, people?
With this cockamamie philosophy as my guide, I found a good chunk of the psychedelic music that would soundtrack the twenty-something portion of my life while draining my wallet of what little salary I made as a school bus driver. I present to you below five of the roughest jams to send a cool breeze of freedom through my formerly flat-topped dome.
Please be rest assured I am bestowing these to you in a non-pissing contest style. We’re just two cool people sitting in a basement jamming some heavy jams. What can be more harmless and innocent than that?
VULCAN – ‘Hi C’ from Meet Your Ghost (1981)
Iowa resident Lyle Steece self-released his Meet Your Ghost album in the very un-psychedelic year of 1981 and thank the lord Rickles he did as it was the primary slab that got me chasing that fuzz monster that could only be summoned in the dankest and darkest of living rooms. As you would expect upon laying first earful to this gem, there is an obligatory dedication to Jimi Hendrix on the back sleeve of the album and there’s no doubt Steece conjured JH’s ghost as he laid this singular statement down in what I always envisioned to be the most dust caked, musty-ass basement in all the Midwest.
RAVEN – ‘Raven Mad Jam’ from a self-titled LP (1975)
I cannot claim to own an original copy of this wasted piece of plastic from the sadly departed Midwestern genius simply known as Raven, but I did score one of those thick-cardboard covered bootlegs that surfaced somewhere in the 90’s. Is that cool enough for you? I hope so! Obviously, it really doesn’t matter what format you jam this track on. As long as you yourself know in your bones ‘Raven Mad Jam’ is an eight minute testament to wild living and the joy it entails, that’s all that really matters. When Raven slowly utters the statement ‘Have you ever been fucked over lately?’ somewhere at the two minute mark, I get goose bumps time and time again. This songs is proof that freedom isn’t just another word for nothing left to lose; IT’S EVERYTHING…ya fuckin’ dipshit.
BLUES ADDICTS – ‘4/4 to 6/4’ from a self-titled LP (1970)
In my damaged brain, there are only two songs in the sonic universe with intros as menacing as this one from these Danish demons: Leeway’s ‘Rise and Fall’ and Raw Deals’ ‘No More Mr. Nice Guy’. What can I say? I huffed way too much paint during the Clinton presidency in the White House.
MONOSHOCK – ‘I Took You To It Baby’ from Walk into the Fire double LP (1996)
In the 90’s, Northern California’s Monoshock were like a lost radio signal sent out to freakazoids like me who were gobbling up all these overpriced psych re-issues and assimilating them from a post-Hardcore perspective. For a band to be projecting all this fuzz and sweat and violence in that time was both reassuring and revelatory for someone like myself who still wore an Absolution shit under his thrift store procured flannel. Do yourself a favor and score a copy of Walk into the Fire in all its’ reissued double vinyl gonzo glory from the Midheaven mail order racket.
J.D. BLACKFOOT – 'Epitaph for a Head; from the B-Side of his ‘Who’s Nuts Alfred’ 45 (1969)
J.D is an American Indian who has released a crateful of rather average records over the years, but this B Side to his Mercury debut single from ’69 is – to me – the ultimate statement in psychedelic excess and barrage…and it’s all delivered in two minutes! Take that you meandering hippies! And dig the way the closing drum solo rails off into sounding like the equivalent of your sister’s Bel Biv Devoe tape getting caught in your Emerson tape deck. Now THAT’S psychedelic, baby!
Rettman’s book NYHC 1980 – 1990 is available from Bazillion Points.