Corrupting Youthful Ideals of Weirdo Music
Recently, my wife posed a challenge for me - come up with some of the music which warped the sensibilities of my 16-year-old mind.
I came up with the following suggestions for a possible soundtrack:
(1) Cream Corn from the Socket of Davis EP, Butthole Surfers (1985). The song list is short: "Moving To Florida," "Comb," "To Parter," and "Tornadoes." And each one is exquisitely strange, especially the first track, with its non sequitur references to "sausages which dance like Ray Bolger on the hood of a car in a traffic jam" and "potty train the Chairman Mao."
(2) Psychocandy, Jesus & Mary Chain (1985). When the feedback kicks in, more akin to a Hoover vacuum than a Fender Twin Reverb, you know you have something different going here. This band never quite captured this sort of ambience again, and it's a shame. The last thing these guys needed was more production.
(3) Sonic Youth, Sonic Youth (1982). The album which started it all. Originally on SST, recently re-released on Universal.
(4) What Makes a Man Start Fires?, The Minutemen (1983). "Our band is scientist rock." One cannot underestimate the impact of this band, nor overlook this album, and it is decidedly not mainstream. Angular lyrics, chunking guitar noise, dynamic and fast interplay.
(5) Frankenchrist, Dead Kennedys (1985). Probably the most intriguing Dead Kennedys project, at least over time. It's a departure from the short form punk style of hardcore (see In God We Trust, Inc.) and brings in much more instrumental focus. Jello Biafra is all over the map on this one, lyrically, but once you actually sit down and decipher what's being said, you'll find a lot there that still applies today. I went and picked this up just for "Hellnation" after the 2004 election.
(6) Like Flies on Sherbert, Alex Chilton (1980). Not what you'd expect to follow from Big Star. This takes various stylings in Memphis R&B, soul, blues, and disco -- and shakes them all up in a bag, scatters them on the floor, and the result? Well, it is what it is. A self-conscious turn towards self-alienation in the career of a complex character.
(7) Damaged, Black Flag (1981). Returning again to West Coast punk (and yet another entry from SST Records), this marks the debut of Henry Rollins behind the mic. With Greg Ginn's signature guitar backed by Chuck Dukowski's boundless energy on bass, this is a centerpiece of not just punk, but rock music.
(8) Zen Arcade, Husker Du (1984). Aw hell, let's just continue the SST kick. Reportedly recorded in one take, this double album is a masterpiece of midwestern psychedelia-cum-punk.
I guess the only things missing here might be Meat Puppets II and Bad Brains' I Against I. OK, and Saccharine Trust. Sheesh! What a bogart!