Iraq, I Roll, Iran

Crisis Iraq, I Roll, Iran 45 (Criminal, 1979?)

It is Thanksgiving time and I guess I should be thankful that the election of Barack Obama means that the United Stated will not have a stupid foreign policy (maybe still wretched but not ill-thought out), but part of me is a bit sad. Bad foreign policy means good songs. Often these songs are great-good, as in the Circle Jerks' "Paid Vacation" or Bob Dylan's "Masters of War." Other times these songs are good bad, like today's "Iraq, I Roll, Iran" by Crisis, a one-off band probably cobbled together to record this single.

One of plenty of "real people" records commenting on the Iran Hostage Crisis of the late 70s and Iran's Islamic Revolution, Crisis's ballad (of sorts) takes aim at the Ayatollah Khomeini (who else?) with a series of insults and challenges of the battered-brain variety usually associated with guys whose best retort is "Oh yeah?" Classic among the song's lyrics is the play on Ayatollah that comes after the guitar break. I am not gonna spoil it for you but do beg you to at least make it to there, because you are guaranteed a chuckle. Where Iraq figures in here, I don't know other than "Iraq, I Roll, Iran" makes a "good" song title.

Have a good T-day.


Messages for the Cakekitchen

Graeme Jefferies Messages for the Cakekitchen LP (Flying Nun, 1987)

One of the Big Lies taught in Rock History 101 is that there are Dead Periods when no good music is being made, a situation rectified by some savior band or artist. Thus, after its initial burst, rock & roll petered out and was about to die but then the Beatles came along and all was saved. At least until about 1973, when rock was taken over by bubblegum outfits and dinosaur bands, who would have sunk the genre if not for the rise of British Punk Rock, which saved the day...for a while. Come 1985, rock & roll was once again struggling to survive. Lots of bands but, man o man, they sucked. Rock was just about to be pronounced dead when Nirvana and grunge revived it. At best, this rundown is a surface level understanding of rock & roll. At worst, it is a lie created to market new trends. Either way, the line above is wrong. There are no Dead Periods in rock & roll.

While Elvis goes pop and invites Bill Haley and Pat Boone to further bleach rock & roll, rockabilly bands were still raging and so was a gritty R&B, code name for rock & roll made by Black folks. Instrumental surf bands, taking a hint from Duane Eddy and Link Wray, were multiplying, along with hundreds of teen garage bands. All there for the Beatles to "save." The mid Seventies saw glam, power pop, prog, krautrock, what we now call proto-punk, and dozens of Eastern European bands playing rock music underground, not to mention hundreds of loners and outsiders making private press records that are now gobbled up by collectors. And while the world suffered under the funk-punk and hair metal ballads of the late 80s, there was, at least in New Zealand, some fantastic records being made. One of the people making those records was Graeme Jeffries.

Messages for the Cakekitchen is Jefferies only "solo" record, sort of. It appeared after a couple EPs made under the name Cakekitchen and was followed by a few albums by a band of the same name. Prior to Cakekitchen, Jefferies played in Nocturnal Projections with his brother Peter, who later formed the 3Ds, another great Kiwi band. The brothers also recorded as This Kind of Punishment, making stand out records for Xpressway and Flying Nun. What Jeffries is doing now, I don't know. Searching for info on him doesn't lead very far.

Here are two cuts off of Jefferies Messages for the Cakekitchen LP. It is good, moody sounds for the approaching chill.


Flowers of Evil

Yvette Mimieux / Ustad Ali Akbar Khan Flowers of Evil LP (Connoisseur Society, 1968)

Somewhere along the vinyl time line, the spoken word music album died - not that it was a very rich sub-genre to start with. Though there might have been some classical music/poetry albums that preceded them, my first encounter with spoken word and music records were the Kenneth Rexroth/Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Kenneth Patchen poetry/jazz albums released in the late Fifties. Not only were my first listen to such records, but some of the first things that made me understand poetry. Since then, I've picked up nearly anything that mixes poetry and music. One of my favorite is today's featured album. Here the French actress Yvette Mimieux and Indian master musicians Ali Akbar Khan and Mahapurush Misra take on Charles Baudelaire's classic Flowers of Evil. Flowers of Evil is one of the highlights of French literature, as great set of poems that you should be able to find at any decent bookstore. This record, not so easy. For years I've owned a beat up copy, one that I've been tempted to throw up here, but with this kind of stuff, surface noise is to be avoided and the noise on that record was enough that it could be the fourth participant. Over the weekend, I found a nice clean copy for ten bucks. Not a bargain bin price but still affordable...and clean enough to warrant a post.

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