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SSR Picks: July 29 2021

For whatever reason, my brain isn’t seeing things in the wide-angle, synthetic view that I try to take with my staff picks, so instead this week I’m just going to tell you about 5 things I’ve recently listened to.

Poly Styrene: Talk in Toytown 7” (1980)

Despite being a pretty big X-Ray Spex fan, I’ve never checked out Poly Styrene’s solo material. In fact, when I came across this single I had forgotten she had a solo career, and consequently went in with zero expectations. “Talk in Toytown” is a reggae-inflected, synth-heavy song that I like. While it doesn’t have the anthemic exuberance of X-Ray Spex, it has similar artsy cool to her old bandmate Lora Logic, who I’ve been listening to a lot lately.

Destroy All Monsters: What Do I Get 7” (1979)

Third single by this post-Stooges Ron Asheton band. We’ve had those singles come through the shop a few times and I’ve always passed on them in favor of things higher on the want list. Now I’ve fixed the first of three mistakes. I listen to Destroy All Monsters’ compilation CD all the time… it’s in that pocket of hooky rock and roll where I’d place the Heartbreakers.

Various: Recommended Records Sampler 2x12” (1982)

The copy of this double LP I picked up is warped and the first couple of songs on each side don’t play, but there’s still a wealth of great music here. Recommended Records released a slew of music in the 80s with an eclectic roster that drew from across the left field, from free jazz to post-punk to 20th century classical. All of that and then some is represented here. While some artists on the label are a lot to handle in larger doses (I struggle to get through entire Residents albums), the sampler format works well here.

Pink Lincolns: Back from the Pink Room 12” (1987)

Florida’s Pink Lincolns are one of those bands I stumbled onto semi-randomly in my youth. I can’t remember if I knew their name because Ben Weasel wears a Pink Lincolns shirt on the insert of a Screeching Weasel record, or if I just ordered all three volumes of their Sumo Fumes series of EPs because they were super cheap, but I had them when I could count the number of pieces in my 7” collection on my fingers and toes. The Pink Lincolns may very well be the band who introduced me to Wire, which is crazy to think about. Anyway, Back from the Pink Room still sounds good to me, snotty and obnoxious like Boogada-era Screeching Weasel, but with more nuanced, UK 77-influenced songwriting (think Buzzcocks and Generation X). I come back to this record every few years and I’m always glad I did.

Public Image Ltd.: Commercial Zone 12” (1984)

I thought I wrote a little about Commercial Zone when I chose Public Image’s Live in Tokyo as my staff pick some time ago (turns out I was remembering incorrectly), but I have been on the lookout for this record for a while and finally got a copy. I love the first three PiL albums, but nothing later in their discography has ever moved me. Commercial Zone, a kind of “lost” album between the third and fourth ones, which is about as close as we’ll ever get to another great PiL album. Some of these songs appear on This Is What You Want, but they’re de-sucked here. They might lack the monstrous tone of original bassist Jah Wobble, but they still have some spark of PiL’s original brilliance.

What’s up Sorry Staters?

Every week, when the time comes to write one of these bad boys, I always try to see if I can bring some attention to a new release we have available in the store. But I gotta be honest, with the exception of the Neos reissue, I haven’t given proper attention to any new release. Definitely not enough to write a thoughtful description. It’s not that I don’t care. I think the new Sial 7” is amazing and inventive, but I haven’t spent enough time with it. Maybe I’ll write about Sial next week by the time it sells out haha.

Instead, I’ve just been listening to The Damned a lot. Big surprise, I’m back on my bullshit. As I’m sure is also the case with many of Sorry State’s punk-ass readers, I love The Damned. Like, I loooooooveeee The Damned. I think I’ve probably told just about everyone I know that Machine Gun Etiquette is for sure in my top 3 favorite records… by any band EVER. Lately though, surprisingly enough, Strawberries has been moving up the ranks as one of my favorite Damned albums. I don’t know why exactly, but this record is really resonating with me lately. Maybe it’s because of the kind of mood I’ve been in.

Now, as much I know some people think the first Damned album is the be-all end-all, I’ve also learned there’s a whole category of Damned fans out there who think that their prime was basically 79-84. Like, no Brian James necessary. Once the band broke down their creative restraints and made an ambitiously leftfield record like Machine Gun Etiquette, it does seem like moving forward that the experimentation flood gates were totally open. By the time you get to the Black Album, you have 17-minute long epics like “Curtain Call”. Still, amongst all these forays into adventurous and unusual songwriting, The Damned still always manage to squeeze in some amazing 3-minute pop bangers.

A song off of Strawberries that I’ve reacquainted myself with lately that’s really grabbed my attention is “Under The Floor Again”. Listening to this song the other night, I came to the realization it might be one of the band’s all-time best. This song in particular is such a lush and ethereal composition. The vocal melody is classy in its pop familiarity yet sweepingly sophisticated as it flows with the subtle chord changes. I will say that Dave Vanian seems to have a penchant for the dramatic. It’s not exactly musical theater, but Vanian’s performance does have a certain performative flamboyance to it. Still, unless you’re a total curmudgeon, all pretense is easily suspended when you realize that whatever perceived extravagance thinly veils complex, mature and expressive songwriting. I think more noticeably on this album than previous moments in their catalog, The Damned incorporate clear influence from 60s psychedelia – oh yes, sitar included. When you blend that ambitious 60s influence with a campy, yet sincere goth sensibility, you’ve got magic. Then out of nowhere, the band breaks into this slow, dreamy passage with ghostly vocals that sounds like it could have been on a Pink Floyd record. And I mean that in a good way. It’s amazing. Also, Captain Sensible’s lead guitar playing during this passage is so killer. The lyrical content describes a rather depressing loss of hope and the begrudging decision to disconnect from normalcy in order spend life underground. Perhaps metaphorical? Or maybe not? All you need is darkness, isolation, beer – and then maybe you feed the rats every once in a while. Yeah, pretty goth. Somehow, I do identify with the sentiment sometimes.

That’s all I’ve got. As always, thanks for reading.

‘Til next week, I’ll be under the floor again,


What’s up Sorry Staters? Are you feeling good? I certainly hope so. We missed you last week, but the big dawg needed his break. We haven’t been slacking here in the meantime. There’s been a ton of great used records processed and some cool new stuff added to the bins.

Personally, I have had the roller coaster emotional ride this week. Some shitty life stuff mixed in with some good things. To hell with the bad stuff and cheers to the good things. With your indulgence I shall tell you about a good thing that happened to me and use that as my focus for my pick this week.

So, for several years now I have been a listener to an online radio station based in Brooklyn called The Face Radio. Started by one man, Kurtis Powers, with a two hour show each Sunday, it has now flourished into a full schedule with full days of new and diverse shows seven days a week. For the past few weeks, I have been guesting on one of the shows called Worldy hosted by DJ Matt Pape. His format is an open one, music without borders but not necessarily World music as it is typically viewed, hence worldy. I like that, as it keeps things open and doesn’t end up in a musical cul-de-sac. Anyway, Matt and Kurtis invited me to join the Face DJ family officially and so now Worldy will be co-hosted each Monday by Matt and yours truly. I’m well chuffed. We are going to have a lot of fun and although perhaps not the slickest on the mike will guarantee top quality tunes presented with sincere passion. Hopefully that comes across and we provide a fun couple of hours.

This past Monday we did an all-Latin music special that took in Afro-Cuban, Jazz, Salsa, Boogaloo, Funk and Disco. I think it was a fun listen. You can check it out here in the archives. We called the show Cuba Libre, and I played a song called that from the album which will be my pick for you all this week. The album is called Ritual by Nico Gomez And His Afro Percussion Inc. It came out on Omega International in 1971 and was released in Holland primarily, with a pressing also in France and Australia. Featuring an instantly attention-grabbing sleeve, it is chock full of Latin funk bombs and has been a DJ favorite for many years, demanding top dollar. I first became aware of it in the late 1990s when I picked up a facsimile pressing that was available back then. I had no clue what it was, but knew instinctively that it was going to be good. It’s since become a must have in the record box when out spinning records of this sort. There’s barely a duff track on the whole thing but people pay big money for the title track Ritual and one called Lupita, plus the one I mentioned, Cuba Libre. There was another reissue in the early 00s and finally a full reissue from Mr. Bongo in 2013 that should make it easier for you to track down. Rather than me describe how awesome those tracks sound, just click the links above and let your ears tell you for yourself.

Nico Gomez, real name Joseph Van Het Groenewoud, was born in Holland and spent his childhood living in the Caribbean where he became a musical prodigy and proficient in Afro-Cuban and South American styles. Moving back to Europe, he developed a career starting from the late 1950s as a band leader, composer and musician. He plied his trade primarily in Holland and Belgium and among other projects he was in the Chakachas who were a European-Afro-Cuban studio group that went on to have a huge hit with the song Jungle Fever in 1970. Most would agree though that the Ritual album is the one.

I won’t keep you much longer but did want to quickly mention that we just got in a couple of cool reissue singles from Breakout Records. They have put out the two 45s by English band The Cybermen that originally came out in the late 1970s on Rockaway Records. Particularly the first self-titled E.P., these are good punky pop new wave records and worthy of your $9. Fans of John Peel rock, KBD and Doctor Who step this way.

Okay, thanks for reading. I hope I have steered you towards something good and I’ll see you next time. Cheers – Dom.

Hello readers,

Thanks for reading. This Staff Pick will be a bit unorthodox, as I am on vacation with my partner Red. The picture above was taken yesterday, in the backyard of where we’re staying. I'm very grateful to be able to take a vacation like this; it is a privilege. The house where we stay has a fair amount of records actually (and a ton of books) since it was Red's grandparent's crib. There is not much that interests me though. It's mostly like Beatles and other '70s rock alongside a lot of classical music. I listened to the first Hawkwind LP the other day. That was my first and probably last time haha. There is a Bad Brains 12" here though too... it’s kinda warped and sun-bleached to hell. It's just a re-issue too, but I don't care it's still coming home with me, with permission of course haha. I don't own any Bad Brains stuff. When I was young I heard the were shitty homophobes so I had always completely avoided their music. I remember hearing HR had apologized for such behavior over the years. I don't know if it that is true, but I ended up checking them out eventually. The 1982 cassette is fucking insane. It's a shame they were (are?) shitty bigots. It's also strange to me that a band with such ideologies could make it so "far" in the world of punk. But, I wasn't around back then so I have no idea how things worked. It's not like MDC could post online after the gig and say Bad Brains was homophobes.

Another band I had always avoided from a young age was Skrewdriver. I grew up in Indianapolis, Indiana. When I was getting into punk and hanging out there was lots of spikey punks and plenty of skinheads. Sometimes Skrewdriver would come up, and skinheads would defend their first album tooth and nail. I didn't care if "first album wasn't racist" I still never gave them my time of day. These people were wrong anyway when they thought the band wasn't initially "racist." Let me give a little history on the band before I explain why Skrewdriver was always fucking racist. It's kind of funny that the band wasn't really into Skinhead when they began, but after pressure from their label they adopted the attire. I can't remember where I read that, but the Discogs page says it too so I assume it’s accurate. However the Discogs page is wrong about their '77-'79 line-up.

Whoever wrote that is mistaken, cos the line-up was not the exactly same during those years. The popular story is that Ian Stuart started the band, they broke up in the late '70s but reformed in the early '80s releasing Back With A Bang! (The bang is racism I guess haha.) Yes, the band did break up in the late '70s and reformed with Ian Stuart being the sole original member. Yes, they lyrics became blatantly racist when the '80s came around. But it is not just to say the band was not racist in their early years. During their All Skrewed Up era the band in fact played R.A.C. gigs and B.N.P. benefit gigs alongside other right-wing bands. So anyone who claims the first line-up is not racist, is under the wrong impression. The very wrong impression. Yeah, the songs do not contain hate speech on All Skrewed Up, but they were played at militant right-wing gigs. As a result of gigs like this, skinheads went out to terrorize immigrants and blacks alike, and they especially targeted business owned by these demographics. Enough said.

I got into the Templars at a young age. They seemed cool for a number of reasons but namely cos they were Oi! and didn't have hate songs. I mean hey, they had a black guy in the band... I was always weirded out about the patriotic lyrics that popped up in some of their songs though. As I got older, I closely re-evaluated songs like Stick To Your Guns. When I listen to it now it just sounds like some rhetoric you'd hear from the NRA. How did I not see it like this before? It's funny how you interpret things in different ways as you get older. But there is not many ways you can interpret this video of Templars covering Case of Pride (Skrewdriver) in front of an American flag haha. Alright that's all for now. Thanks for reading. I hope everyone is well. Oh shit, I forgot to mention... to be transparent, I do own a copy of All Skrewed Up. I picked it up on tour in like 2015 at Reckless Records. I understand why people defend it so much, cos it is in fact a very well written album. Welcome to the paradox. Alright, thanks for reading. I hope everyone is well. 'Til next time..

I haven’t felt inspired by any of my recent acquisitions. Lots of flea market and thrift store purchases because...why not? If the cover is cool enough, it’s worth spending $1 or less on ‘em. Honestly more embarrassed by my other purchases; am I really old enough that all the music I listened to in middle school is getting a vinyl repress? The nostalgia is deadly for my record budget! I’m already losing Sorry State cred on our Instagram, I can’t do it on the newsletter too. So I looked through my shelves and stopped at my ever growing Star Trek section and decided to pull some out and write about one of the less embarrassing facets of my collection.

I’m more of a TNG gal, but vinyl wasn’t big in the early 90s so I’ve accepted that most of the Trek records I own will be from the original series. As much as Captain Kirk bugs me, I have to admit I’ve grown fond of these radio plays and read along records. These short, simple stories are the perfect way to get in my Star Trek fill without sitting down for an episode that inevitably turns into four more and falling asleep on the couch.

I started my Star Trek record collection with a few of the movie soundtracks and slowly came across so many other cool things! My absolute favorite is definitely the Trek Bloopers I found at a used book store a few years ago. I mean, come on, William Shatner bloopers? So fucking funny. And my very first Record Store Day purchase was Trek related, of course. The repress of ‘Mr. Spock’s Music from Outer Space’ was a no-brainer for me. But after I put it on...I can’t say I’m a big fan of Leonard Nimoy’s voice but my collection wouldn’t be complete without it.

I just think it’s a cool thing- letting two of my interests combine. The more I dig into my collection for the newsletter and the more I buy, I feel like my records are becoming a great reflection of my interests and taste. I have some really cool true crime related records I’ll talk about eventually. I’ve started grabbing records (usually classical) if they have an old painting I like or recognize from my art history classes. All of this is to say, I guess, that the further I dig myself into this record collecting hole, the more reasons I find to expand my collection or dig through a section at a store I’d normally glance over.

Seeking respite from a nigh-endless barrage of recent hardcorepunkmetal mania, I was thrilled to stumble onto the new(ish) split from West Coast freaker stalwarts Bastard Noise and Amps For Christ in the SSR racks the other day.

Now these are—of course—two projects I love and respect, but they’re also two projects I’ve failed to follow closely over the last decade or so. Still, I could roughly assume some traits about what I was purchasing, and thankfully I assumed correctly.

Man Is The Bastard offshoot Bastard Noise continues to churn terrifying hellscapes recalling Gollum as he spouts humanity’s last rites from the bow of a sinking ship, and OTHER Man Is The Bastard offshoot Amps For Christ gloriously persists in that singular realm of energy-starved cyborgs jamming prog-noise-bluegrass for birds. These things bring me great comfort, and this record appropriately rips.

Big ups to Raleigh’s To Live A Lie Records for securing such behemoths of weird, and apologies to Eric Wood for the bootleg shirt (a friend made like 15 of ‘em in 2006). <3

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