Tuesday, September 23, 2008

"Hang your holiday rainbow lights in the garden..."

Why is it that I always seem to be out of town when my favorite bands come to town?

Next month while I am away on vacation The National are playing a free concert on Fountain Square as part of a Barack Obama rally. The Breeders will be there too.

I'm gutted to be missing this one, for sure.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

"I've been on the other side..."

WWSU Playlist
Wednesday, 12 April, 1989
9 p.m.-midnight

David Bowie – “DJ”
H Ultra Vivid Scene – “She Screamed”
TOTW Love & Rockets – “So Alive”
H African Head Charge – “Thrown It Away”
DC NoMeansNo – “Dead Souls”
H Royal Court of China – “Half the Truth”
H Buck Pets – “A Little Murder”
PMLS Clock DVA – “The Hacker”
H No Name Bertha – “Mr. Raccoon”
PM REC Beatnigs – “Television”
H Dessau – “Isolation”
H The Brood – “Satisfied”

Nina Hagen – “Universal Radio”
H Arsenal – “Half Control”
TOTW Robyn Hitchcock – “More Than This”
H Keith LeBlanc – “Men in Capsules”
DC Capt. Sensible – “Glad It’s All Over”
H Mudhoney – “No One Has”
H Girl Trouble – “Wreckin’ Ball”
PMLS Darks Pandemonium – “Always Comes Evening”
H Pussy Galore – “Yu Gung”
Xxx Danielle Dax – “Pariah”
Xxx Danielle Dax – “Evil Honky Stomp”
Xxx Danielle Dax – “Hammerheads”
Xxx Danielle Dax – “Ostrich”
Xxx Danielle Dax – “Where the Flies Are”

The Smiths – “Girlfriend in a Coma”
H Batfish – “Another One Bites the Dust”
TOTW The Cure – “Fascination Street”
H Masters of Reality – “Kill the King”
DC Husker Du – “Hardly Getting Over It”
H The Cult – “Fire Woman”
H Meat Beat Manifesto – “God O.D.”
PMLS Band of Susans – “Hard Light”
H Dinosaur Jr. – “Poledo”
PMREC Flesh For Lulu – “Spaceball Ricochet”

Right. So I went a bit nuts with the Danielle Dax stuff in my second hour. It is only because I adored her work and bought everything she released.

Dax (born Danielle Gardner) began her musical career as a member of the avant-garde punk band The Lemon Kittens but soon went her own way with 1982’s Pop-Eyes, released independently on her own label, Awesome Records.

The original cover art for Pop-Eyes, which Dax created herself, was considered too “grotesque” for the delicate sensibilities of mainstream record shops and was discontinued after the first run, being replaced by the enchanting multi-layered photo/paintings of artist Holly Warburton, who went on to create covers for Dax’s subsequent releases Jesus Egg That Wept (1984), Inky Bloaters (1987) and Dark Adapted Eye (1989), as well as several 12” singles.

I first discovered Dax with 1984’s Jesus Egg That Wept and it remains my favorite of her releases. As you can see from the playlist above, four of the five songs I chose to spin were from that album: “Pariah,” “Evil Honky Stomp,” “Hammerheads” and “Ostrich.” It’s difficult to describe her earlier music, but the words experimental, minimal and innovative come to mind. An incredibly talented musician, she plays nearly every instrument on her albums, including drums, bass, flute, keyboards, tenor sax, synths, honky-tonk piano and even the kalimba!

By 1987’s Inky Bloaters, Dax had eschewed the 4-track recording and brought in a full band. She was still pushing the boundaries of surrealism with songs like “Fizzing Human Bomb” and “Sleep Has No Property,” but it also seemed there was a conscious effort on her part to make music a little more accessible to the mainstream – songs like “Big Hollow Man” and “Where the Flies Are” had already been released as 12” dance singles in her native England, a trend that continued when she signed to Sire Records in the U.S. and released 1988’s “Whistling For His Love” and “Cat-House.”

I’m not sure Sire quite knew what to make of Ms. D – they tried to sell her as a dance club artist, but her music had too much depth and complexity to be pigeon-holed so easily, and I think it hurt her. Sire released Dark Adapted Eye, which was basically a reissue of Inky Bloaters with the best tracks from the earlier albums tacked on. Ironically, Sire didn’t include the boogie-woogie gospel dirge masterpiece “Evil Honky Stomp” in this collection, probably because they were afraid of offending someone. The song itself is about racial bigotry and Danielle uses a variety of voices and tape loops to convey the absurdity and stupidity of hatred, and it’s omission from the album is a glaring example of how major labels simply “don’t get” true artistry.

Once Sire got hold of her it was the beginning of the end. She released her lone studio album, Blast the Human Flower, in 1990, with downplayed eastern instrumentation and simplified lyrics. I do not know if she did this because of label pressure to achieve some chart success, or if she had simply ran out of good ideas, but the album seems shallow and hasn’t stood the test of time.

Blast the Human Flower was also Dax’s last full album. After that there was a Janice Long Sessions E.P., a collaboration with Shock Headed Peters on a couple of songs, a track or two released on Sire compilations, and in 1995 she returned to a more experimental sound with the instrumental E.P. Timber Tongue. Her final release was a collection of hits and rarities aptly titled Comatose Non-Reaction: The Thwarted Pop Career of Danielle Dax.

Since 1996 Dax has worked in interior design and has appeared several times on the BBC interior design show Homefront.