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Staff Picks: November 19, 2020

Staff Picks: Daniel

Public Image, Ltd: Live in Tokyo LP (1983, Elektra)

This week I priced a used copy of this record and realized I’d never heard it, so I threw it on. I remember flipping past this one in used bins all the time in the pre-vinyl resurgence era, but given that my interest in PiL more or less stops after Flowers of Romance, the 1983 date on it made me assume this wasn’t worth listening to. If I knew more about the album, I’d have been even more scared, as John Lydon is the only key member left from the group’s golden era, with guitarist Keith Levene and bassist Jah Wobble absent from this recording. My light research tells me that Rotten drafted some “rock guys” into the band in order to pull off this gig, and people seem to view Live in Tokyo as a weak and sloppy interpretation of the band’s classic material.

A few months ago I watched the film The Public Image Is Rotten, which was one of the best rock documentaries I’ve ever seen. Like the Radio Birdman documentary, it’s a “warts and all” affair in which no one comes off smelling of roses. I was in the dark about PiL’s history, and the film shed some light on the band’s tumultuous story, which is tied up with Rotten’s sense of alienation after the Sex Pistols’ messy breakup and strong senses of paranoia, alienation, and anger that seem to have been with him throughout his life. Those must have been at a high ebb around the time of this gig.

Coming to Live in Tokyo with very low expectations, I enjoyed it. As you might expect, the instrumentation differs vastly from the album versions of these tracks. Jah Wobble’s booming, dub-influenced bass is replaced with a plonky, Talking Heads-y tone that leaves more room for the other instruments. The guitarist keeps Keith Levene’s chiming sound, but makes his parts more conventional and legible. It’s also interesting to hear material from PiL’s fourth album mixed in with the classics, particularly “This Is Not a Love Song,” which sounds right at home alongside “Annalisa” and “Flowers of Romance.” It sounds like a PiL cover band, but given that production is such a big part of PiL’s studio albums, it’s interesting to hear these songs de-weirded. Maybe it’s because I’m puzzled by it, but I’ve returned to this record several times since I first thew it on.

Staff Picks: Jeff

What’s up Sorry Staters?

I was thinking about this the other day: Over the course of 80s US hardcore releases, several bands have covered classic rock bands. Whether the intention was a genuine nod to the old rockers or to be totally tongue-in-cheek, I feel like a current band attempting this task now and doing it gracefully would be hard to pull off. Now, a few examples would be the Dicks’ version of “Purple Haze” by Jimi Hendrix, The FU’s doing “We’re An American Band” by Grand Funk (and I guess Verbal Abuse too for that matter…), Bl’ast doing “School’s Out” by Alice Cooper, and I’d even lump in JFA doing faithful interpretations of old 60s surf standards. But one cover that stands out to me is Naked Hippy’s take on a KISS tune.

I hate to overuse this term, but I feel like Naked Hippy is one of those bands that is pretty “underrated” -- or at least they don’t get talked about very often. Around the Sorry State camp, they’re definitely considered a gem in part because we always talk about how much we think they kinda sound like Direct Control. Not only musically, but for whatever reason, the singer’s voice does kinda sound like Brandon to me. Are the dudes in Direct Control KISS fans? I don’t know.

Naked Hippy, for the way they sound, seem kinda late to the game with their LP coming out in 1989. By this point, KISS had already been doing records with no makeup and amping up the 80s hair band cheese of the era. Still, Naked Hippy decided to take a crack at a rendition of “Do You Love Me” off the 1976 album Destroyer.

For sure, it definitely seems to be a big joke. Especially when you’re hearing that intro with vocals over just drums saying “you like my seven-inch leather heels” and know that Paul Stanley is genuinely talking about his actual wardrobe on stage. But then, you hear Naked Hippy doing this song, and you just know the dude who sang for the band is probably just a suburban dude in jeans and a t-shirt. What’s cool about this cover is that while they kinda start at a steady tempo like the original, they do the chorus at a ripping pace that just sounds like the killer hardcore you’d find on the rest of Naked Hippy’s record. I can’t help but think to myself “I don’t care if this mean to be a joke, it rips.” Then again, this is also coming from a dude who has a soft spot for KISS. Also, funny side note: knowing KISS and how intense they are about merchandising and copyright, the song is titled “Love Song” on the Naked Hippy record, I assume because they were genuinely worried about legal action!

Unfortunately, there’s not a link with just this song on youtube, so here’s the link to the whole LP with a time stamp. Hope I did it right:

The whole LP is worth checking out if you’re not familiar. ALSO, if there's any crucial silly hardcore covers of old rock songs that are super weird or that I wouldn't know about, definitely hit me up and let me know!

Thanks for reading!

Staff Picks: Dominic

Greetings everyone in Sorry State Land. I hope that you are all dong okay?

This week my recommendation for your listening pleasure is a little different but hopefully an enjoyable one. It’s a Word Jazz album from the master of the genre and someone who whether you know his name or not, you probably have heard his voice at some point. I am referring to the late Ken Nordine. His deep voice was behind countless commercials from the mid 1950’s onward and he released a bunch of records featuring his distinctive voice over a cool jazz backing. His weekly radio show Word Jazz was broadcast for several decades.

The particular record that I love and want to highlight is the following:

Ken Nordine: Colors. Philips. 1966

I first became aware of this record through a CD reissue that came out in the 1990s and then later via the Welsh group Super Furry Animals who sampled a snatch of one part of Orange.

Before the internet and online selling it was quite a tough record to score as an original and it took me until just last year to finally find a copy in a store-still my preferred way to find and buy records.

The album itself began originally as a commission from the Fuller Paint Company for a series of radio advertisements but due to the popularity of the spots the concept was expanded and a full album with 34 different colors and hues being rapped about by Nordine over a cool jazzy background similar in feel to some of the exotica records made by Martin Denny. It’s a fun listen and you can pick out your faves based on your color preferences etc. To me, his voice is quite soothing and reminds me of listening to radio late at night back in the day. I highly recommend picking up a copy if you see it but definitely take a listen on line. I’ll provide a link below.

Ken Nordine passed away last year aged 98 and for those interested I’ll post a link to a NY Times obituary.

Staff Picks: Usman

Macrofarge / Euthanasia split 7" (MCR-024)

I wanted to write about the Doom "collectors" boxset, but that was already sold-out even before last week's newsletter. It's kind of funny how often stuff sells out from the newsletter before it's even released, but the highlights of the week for us here still need to be talked about even if they sold too quick. I dunno, I guess it's a good thing that people are scooping up new releases all the time, but also means you gotta keep up to date on yer own to know whats all coming out and coming in. This isn't some massive label with a bottomless budget where we can afford to stock a million copies of everything, so there are definitely some titles you gotta race to get sometimes. Daniel prices everything really fair in my opinion, especially the used titles. Sorry State was my favorite record store for years before I got a job here. There were times we'd be on tour and I wouldn't even care to look at the local shop cos I was so spoiled to have SSR in my city haha. One of my all-time favorite record stores (in the States) is Extreme Noise in Minneapolis. Everyone working is a volunteer, and every title has such an exact mark-up that all the records prices end in some odd number of cents. That shit is like a science, a beautiful balance. Punks putting in work for the sake of it needing to be done without need for monetary compensation, its beautiful. Records need to be made and distributed. How else will our culture survive? Our anti-authoritarian and anti-capitalist principles are passed down through materialized goods. It seems weird to say something bought and sold could be anti-capitalist, but these are not "consumer goods." These are tools, tools that spread our ideologies of resistance and sometimes they can even network insurrectionary actions. I know not all punk bands are that political, but if you don't hate the fucking cops and prison system - what the fuck are you doing here? Like I said, records need to be distributed. Downloads are cool too, I guess. But nothing beats holding the record cover in one hand, while yer other hand is cranking that volume knob to maximum.

Anyway, I fucking love Macrofarge. I think they are an extremely "over-looked" band, and in my opinion everyone who doesn't know they exist should have the pleasure of checking them out. I remember the day I discovered them, it was through Disrupt. I was looking at the Smash Divisions EP cover, it's an illustration of three punks arm in arm while all of em are holding 40s (HELL YES). The one on the right side is wearing several patches, one of which was Macrofarge. I spotted two Swedish bands who I recognized and loved already, Crudity and Anti-Cimex, so I was really excited to check out Macrofarge. If I remember right, it was actually kind of difficult to find rips of their material at the time (it was before everything in the world was on Youtube), but I did end up finding some material on Soulseek. I played that shit for years before I could find any copies of their stuff for sale in the States. If you are patient you can find some compilations they appear on and the flexi I am writing about for fairly cheap, I just don't see them too often. I decided to write about Macrofarge cos to me their sound is somewhere between Doom and Bastard. Pummeling fast drumming with fairly straight-forward powerful guitar riffing, brought together with loud and semi-guttural vocals. Their Stop Your Nonsence demo has less of the Bastard vibe, while this flexi and their tracks on the I Will Take No Orders From Anyone!! compilation have this extra element of metallic insanity that reminds me a bit of Bastard. While I have the flexi pictured for this Staff Pick, I might enjoy their compilation tracks even more... It seems as though Macrofarge would only get better as time went on. I wish someone would release some type of compilation/discography of all their material. I would love to hear more stuff and learn some more about them. I don't have the new FLEX book yet, but maybe I will learn some new shit in there about the band! (p.s. We do have copies of the new volume on the way). I only have this 7" split and I Will Take No Orders From Anyone!!, but feel free to hit me up for a tape dub if you'd like. I have a few of those Doom boxsets for distro too ( Thanks for reading, 'til next time...

Staff Picks: Rachel


These weekly staff picks have been getting me super nostalgic. I have stories attached to most of my vinyl collection and figuring out what to write about these past few weeks has brought back a ton of those memories. My first music industry related job was an internship for Graveface Records in Savannah, GA. I credit it to starting my record obsession.

The owner, Ryan, is probably the most hard working person I’ve ever witnessed and it made a huge impression on me. I helped pack Graveface releases surrounded by boxes and BOXES of shit. Record back stock, taxidermy, vintage halloween decorations, probably a lot of other weird stuff I couldn’t even imagine. Graveface Records was a small record store filled with oddities when I worked there. Although I haven’t been back in years, I see through social media that they’ve expanded their retail set up into what used to be the storage room I worked in, broadened their product line up to include anything a weirdo would ever want, and most impressively, Ryan Graveface continued the Graveface Records releases along with starting Terror Vision and having a constant stream of obscure horror movie soundtracks released on vinyl.

“Beyond Human” is a compilation of bands based in Savannah, GA singing about serial killers. Because, including everything I mentioned, Ryan has one of the most impressive true crime collections I’ve ever seen. He made this record to help raise money for the, now open, Graveface Museum. I’m convinced Ryan never sleeps because he now ALSO has this museum right in the tourist-y area of Savannah showcasing his insane collection. It also includes a retro horror-themed pinball arcade. You ever want to play pinball, buy a raccoon skull, and see the biggest John Wayne Gacey painting collection in the south? Graveface is the place.

This write up turned into a love letter to Graveface instead of talking about how freaking awesome the compilation is (because it is). That’s okay. I’ll talk about music next week, I promise.

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