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Staff Picks: August 6, 2020

Staff Picks: Daniel

High Tide: Sea Shanties 12” (Liberty, 1969)

I recently scored an original US pressing of this heavy psych banger from 1969. It first came on to my radar when a used copy came through the shop a year or two ago. My friend Phil bought it before I could listen to it, but at some point I checked out Sea Shanties online. It grabbed me from the first listen, and I revisited the record every few weeks. Rock didn’t get much heavier than Sea Shanties in 1969. Their heavy, fuzz-drenched guitar sound gets compared to Blue Cheer, but High Tide reminds me more of Sir Lord Baltimore’s 1970 album Kingdome Come. Like that record, Sea Shanties is not only very heavy for its time but also fast and chaotic. Sir Lord Baltimore generated tension by double-tracking the guitars, but on Sea Shanties, the second guitar spot is filled by an electric violinist which also gives this album a similar feel to Amon Düül II’s Yeti album. I’m a sucker for two-guitar bands, and the way the guitarist and violinist sometimes harmonize with one another and sometimes play across and through one another’s melodic lines hits the sweet spot.

Sea Shanties hasn’t seen a vinyl repress since a 2009 Sundazed reissue, and since even that seems to near the $100 mark on Discogs, when a clean original US copy popped up for around that price I jumped on it. I also started doing some research into High Tide and its members, though I haven’t found much. High Tide has a second album from 1970 that I’m looking forward to checking out, and they stayed together throughout the 80s and 90s, releasing music during that period with a revolving door lineup. Vocalist / guitarist Tony Hill seems to have focused most of his energy on High Tide, but violinist Simon House has a much longer resume, serving time in the Third Ear Band and joining Hawkwind for Hall of the Mountain Grill, which might be my favorite of their many albums.

Staff Picks: Dominic

I was looking through my phone at old photos and found one from four years ago that has me here at Sorry State before I began working here – Ava and I recently celebrated our first-year anniversary of being part of the SSR family- and it’s a picture of me buying the record that I am going to suggest to you all this week. It was a sealed copy and quite expensive and so I had to bring something in to trade. I brought in a sealed copy of Nirvana’s Bleach and we worked it out. Some of you might think it was an odd trade but I had been looking for this particular record for a while and have a play copy of Bleach so wasn’t too bothered about letting it go.

Anyway, as we hit August and it is officially summer, this one might be appropriate.
 
J.K. & Co.: Suddenly One Summer. White Whale. 1968
 
There’s something about records that were made in the year of one’s birth that intrigues me and I wonder if anyone else feels the same? It doesn’t always follow that you will like them but more often than not I do. This one I certainly do.

So, what’s the deal? Okay, it’s a pop-psych record of real class and distinction and will appeal to anyone who digs that type of thing. It has elements of all the great records from that period. Think Beatles post Revolver, Bee Gee’s 1st, The Left Banke, Zombies, Aerovons, Gandalf, Bobby Jameson, Sagittarius and Love, to give you some references.

The story goes that fifteen-year-old Jay Kaye, son of Mary Kaye the renowned guitarist, raised around music all his life, accompanied her to Vancouver where she had arranged studio time for him to record. Already mature beyond his years and quite a gifted musician and budding songwriter, Jay arrived at the studio with his songs and presented them to producer Robin Spurgin, who was immediately impressed. Spurgin had a worked up a good resume by this time recording several of the better local bands and he enlisted another teen prodigy, Robert Buckley to help with arrangements and members of underground group Mother Tucker’s Yellow Duck to play. Over the next few weeks this group worked on what was to end up being Suddenly One Summer. Taking in the local music scene as inspiration and the previous couple of years of summer of love style music and most importantly, LSD. Kaye freely admits that psychedelic experimentation was a big part of the creative process.

Armed with the record in the can, Kaye initially tried to use his family connections at Capitol to have the album released but they wanted to change things and rerecord some stuff. Instead, they took it to White Whale, who flipped for the record and it was one of their in-house producers who came up with the title because Kaye came into their office and blew them away suddenly one summer. White Whale did a good job initially promoting the record locally with billboards and store displays and underground radio particularly liking it. Trying to build on that the label decided to put out a single but foolishly picked the first track off the record which was barely thirty seconds and meant as an introductory piece of music for the rest of the album. Naturally this sunk without trace and other than some live shows that Kaye did with a new band not much else happened and everyone moved on with their lives. It wasn’t until years later when records from this era were starting to be rediscovered that interest in it started back up again. New York label Sundazed did a pretty nice reissue job back in 2001 and that version is pretty easy to find. Originals do show up but still command decent money.

Key tracks are the lysergic Fly with backwards playing tapes ala Beatles, Christine, that begins with a drum break for the sampler ready producers, Crystal Ball, a quick acid guitar groove and O.D. a prime West Coast psyche tune. Elsewhere you have some trippy sitar on Magical Fingers Of Minerva and a harpsichord track that might have been a Village Green out-take.

Clocking in at just over thirty minutes, the album doesn’t outstay it’s welcome but hopefully now that you know about it, you can welcome it into your life. Take the trip.

Staff Picks: Ava

Vampyr: Cry Out For Metal (Hot Blood Records)

Hailing from Germany, Vampyr are one of those legendary one-and-done bands with Cry Out For Metal being their only release. Every song has a mandatory head banging riff. The contrast between the true speed metal songs and the straight up heavy metal, hard-driving rock songs make a perfect anthem worthy album. Starting off the album with the epic "Sinner" really hooks you into listening to the full album in one sitting. Hell Bent Angels has got to be my favorite track on the record though.. Wolfgang Schwarz's Vocals have a small range but an insane amount of power and a beautiful south German speed metal style behind them. The lead guitars are insane and those solos...WHEW boy does this record kick ass. Definitely a gem of 1985 speed/thrash metal. 10/10 Recommendation for fans of Tyrant, Jag Panzer, Lizzy Borden, Armored Saint.

Staff Picks: Usman

I have been really feeling compilations lately. I used to love them when I was younger. They are a great way to hear new bands. At least they used to be before the internet took over everything… I think the last compilation I was really into was the Killed By Finnish Hardcore bootleg, and that was 8 or 9 years ago. Haha, I just realized I didn’t have internet at my house back then, I wonder if there was a correlation with my obsession of the LP. I do want to apologize for not writing about something available at Sorry State, or a new release in general. This is rather a “Suggested Listening” than a Staff Pick. The Tsjernobilly Boogie LP is relatively affordable though if you can find one second-hand. Also, ANYONE reading this is more than welcome to e-mail me (in.decay@yahoo.com) and I’d gladly put this on a tape for you with a cute lil’ cover!! I actually think this release was originally on cassette format before being pressed on vinyl, but I haven’t confirmed that. According to discogs, there was a booklet “issued” with the disc but they all burned up or something before they could retrieve them. Bummer, cos I would absolutely love to know some information about a few of these bands! It’s not often I hear a compilation where I enjoy listening to every song. Side A opens up with Kafka Prosess. They deliver the goods; fast, pummeling hardcore with melodic elements, traditional X-Port Plater style. Also, these tracks were exclusive to the release at the time! This is a great way to start off a compilation. It lets every listener know you simply are not fuckin’ around. In 2000, Skuld Releases did the Ingen Fattige, Ingen Rike compilation LP which featured these tracks as well as their split with Disorder (UK). You can still find these cheap second-hand.

Barn Av Regnbuen follows with four songs. Barn Av Regnbuen is a band I’ve heard before after checking the X-Port Plater catalogue, funny though I don’t remember them being this good! After hearing the tracks on this compilation I re-visited their previous material and I have been enjoying it a lot! I see why I probably passed them over at first. They incorporate what I call “weird” elements into their HC, haha. But the other more traditional elements keep me listening, cos they play it well. It also makes the “weird” shit even cooler. Now I regret not getting their first EP in the past.

Overlagt Drap rules!! It sounds like shitty rock-n-roll with a “dirty” punk edge. They appear to be the only band on this compilation that sing in English. I know very little about the band, I know they have two other appearances on compilations, using the same songs. One appearance was on a US label as benefit for Green Peace. The other appearance was before the Tsjernobilly Boogie LP on a compilation on Norwegian tape label Den Onde Sirkel, who released some badass stuff like Asta Kask.

Brent Jord finishes off the B side with 3 tracks. I wish there was more. These might be my favorite tracks on this compilation!! I know nothing about the band, and of course, these are the only songs I can find of theirs. It reminds me a bit of Stengte Dører and Svart Framtid, some of my favorites.

Angor Wat opens up the B side with a groovy HC track, a great song to start the B side. They are the last band on the compilation I had heard of (there was only three bands I knew previous to listening). Angor Watt sticks out from the compilation in this way that it sounds more metallic rather than melodic like the rest of the bands.

Following Angor Wat is TMB (The Midnight Blues). They lay down 3 tracks of RAGING HARDCORE!! The first track sounds kind of like Disorder (UK) but more ripping, while the other two songs sound pretty different. They almost sound like a German band. The way the vocalist sings reminds me of Vorkriegsjugend especially.

Jesus, this LP just gets more and more HC!! Josva lays down some off-the-hinge HC tracks. The first and third songs barely hang by a thread but in a good way, kinda like Wretched (Italy). The middle song is quite different than the ones that surround it, with a sort of English vibe. I think it is because the vocalist sounds like the dude from early Chumbawamba recordings to me, haha.

The last two tracks on the compilation really contrast the rest of the compilation. But I enjoy them so much… it’s a great way to finish off a compilation like this. Dead Swingers is the first of the two. They are much more melodic and “punk” rather than HC. There are many layers to the song, with multiple tracks for the vocals and guitar parts that create a really encompassing atmosphere. They had a cassette some years before this LP where their compilation track came from called Nisseland. I would love to hear more, but I got to find some downloads…

Det Glad Vanvidd finishes off the compilation with like a 7 minute long song, haha. I don’t think I could listen to a song that long generally, but for some reason it doesn’t feel that long when listening to the LP. They incorporate strange elements into the song…there is like a bird “caw” that echoes frequently in the distance, synths, and other dissonant sounds. I think they might have more material released than any other band on this compilation, but unfortunately I think they were more an “experimental” band so I’m not sure I’d suggest diving deep into that one.

Shout to the Hardy Boys, WHAT UP! Michael told me about this compilation recently otherwise I would’ve never known it existed. Those two punk-ass mofos have shown me and friends countless HC bands, cheers yall! Till next time..


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