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Staff Picks: September 3, 2020

Staff Picks: Daniel

David Ruffin: My Whole World Ended (Motown, 1969)

I haven't listened to much music this week, but as I was driving across southern Virginia on the way to my hometown, I had an urge to listen to soul music. Switching back and forth between the soul station on satellite radio and Spotify, at some point the title track from this 1969 album by David Ruffin came on. It knocked me out instantly. The first thing that jumped out was the emphatic chorus, which has the same bittersweet quality of my favorite Buzzcocks songs. As I listened to this song repeatedly, I began to appreciate how perfectly constructed it is, building to that great chorus and even featuring a middle eight (with a key change I think?) that makes the final chorus sound even more powerful. And then there's Dayna Hartwick ripping it up on the piccolo flute... what a great track!

Staff Picks: Jeff

What’s up Sorry Staters?

I’m gonna stick with the theme of talking about bands' later records that most people never talk about:

So, what do you get when take the Oi! stylings from one of the featured bands on the UK/DK soundtrack, but then mix it with cheesy 80s production and the sensibilities of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal? You get the 1988 album Welcome To The Real World by The Business. I recently rediscovered this record stumbling into a bunch of killer songs by UK punk bands I hadn’t jammed in a while. Now, looking at the artwork on this record cover, you’d assume this is a last-ditch effort or a low-budget “comeback” album. At risk of getting my ass kicked by a bunch of tough English dudes, my guys in the Business look pretty dorky in this photograph. Almost like a signal of the shift in sound for The Business on this record, you can see the once cleanly shaven heads of the band members are slowly and coyly allowing some locks grow down to ear-level. But with defiant anthems like “Ten Years,” The Business make it clear in their statement, “We’re The Business from Lewisham, and it’s been ten years and we’re still standing here!”

While I think a song like “Blind Justice” is about as catchy as a classic Oi! tune can get, I think the enhanced musicianship and songwriting chops on The Business’s 1988 effort is dare I say… BETTER than their early records? Behind the veil of the sonic signature of this record, which you could argue is pretty dated, is a collection of great melodies and well-constructed songs. A song like “We’ll Take ‘Em On”, probably my favorite song on the record, is a perfect blend of melodic heavy metal harmonized guitar leads as well as huge and memorable vocal hooks. The title track “Welcome To The Real World” opens with a classic street punk high note riff and big sing-along gang vocal chorus that recalls their Oi! roots, but then throw in some gated reverb on the huge drum sound and a guitar solo that sounds like it’s taken from a major-key Iron Maiden song. I’m sorry to keep harping on this, but the guitar work on this record is absolutely amazing: tasty notes, cleanly played, and harmonized every 5 seconds. Perfect.

Sorry State used to stock reissue copies of Welcome To The Real World. I’m not sure if the record is still in print, but hopefully this staff pick will make Daniel wanna restock it, because I know he loves this record too. If you’re not an Oi! fan, which typically I’m not either, then maybe I can’t convince you give this album a shot. But never say never when you’ve reached the end of your tether…. Like mentioned above, here’s my favorite track if you wanna give it a listen:

Thanks for reading. ‘Til next time,
-Jeff

Staff Picks: Dominic

We had quite an active time last week preparing for the first of this year’s Record Store Day drops. In the process of opening up one the boxes of orders last week I had to let out a whoop of delight when I spotted a record that has had me kind of obsessed for over twenty years. I hadn’t realized it had been given a reissue as it wasn’t part of the RSD releases and it sneaked up on me. It’s a rare one and the chances of ever seeing an OG are slim to none. I’ve never seen one in the flesh and have guarded my CD version since the late 90’s, so a reissue was the only chance to own a copy on vinyl. The label Rockadelic did one in 1995 and hearing that version was my first exposure to the album but copies of that are hard to find and costly too now. Thankfully the good folks at Modern Harmonic have done a great job on the reissue and made this available again at an affordable price.
 
Kennelmus: Folkstone Prism. Phoenix International Records. 1971
 
To channel the SNL character Stefon, this album has everything- Morricone like spaghetti western soundtrack vibes, surf guitar sounds, Captain Beefheart and Zappa-esque moments, A Lee Hazelwood sounding song, images of Ravens, a cryptic title and a Jolly Roger pirate flag.
Yes, it’s true, all this and more are part of the mystique and legend of this record.

The band came from Phoenix, Arizona and were formed from the ashes of a typical mid-sixties surf-garage band doing British Invasion covers. A name change and new members brought in switched things up considerably and recording began in late 1970 on the Folkstone Prism album, the title originally meant to be Folkstoned, the idea to give people something to think about apparently. The record was issued with one side being all instrumental and the other with vocals. A couple of those instro tracks did have lyrics but main songwriter Ken Walker (real name Kennelmus Walkiewicz- see where the group name came from) did not think anyone in the group had the vocal chops to sing them and so they remained as instrumentals. That decision in hindsight seems almost genius.

Another interesting fact that was revealed in the liner notes was that the band members worked at a record manufacturing plant and actually personally supervised the making of their own record and made sure that all thousand copies were perfect. So, if you ever do see a copy you can be sure of the quality of the pressing-good luck on that.

With me not being the best of writers, giving a track by track review is not always easy but honestly the comparisons at the top really are fairly accurate. If you like psychedelic surf garage music and Ennio Morricone and Captain Beefheart and Frank Zappa and Lee Hazelwood, then this really is the record for you. It also doesn’t outstay it’s welcome, clocking in at just under forty minutes.

As a DJ, playing this type of music, I always wanted a copy to spin the track Think For Yourself, a great number which still makes me smile and jig around to the groove. Highlights are plentiful but opener I Don’t Know definitely sets the scene and just about prepares you for what is to follow. Some of the tunes also remind me of the cool bits from late sixties Ventures records and anything that guitar hero Jerry Cole cut, particularly the awesome Animated Egg LP and The Inner Sounds Of The Id LP. Check those out if you get a chance. On other cuts, interesting sounds are added. There’s a zither sounding effect used and a watery, bubbly bass sound that kinda sounds like the jug on the Thirteenth Floor Elevators to name a couple. The only complaint I could have is the sudden cut away from the second to last track to a spoof news report that to my ears is a little jarring but that’s a very small complaint on what is a thoroughly enjoyable listen.

Check out the clips below and do your own investigating and hopefully you will agree with me. We have a copy in stock and will get more for those that are interested. The best part of all this is that when I mentioned to Daniel that we had it and he saw how excited I was, he actually let me take a copy at no charge. What a class boss and top fellow. He really is awesome and knocks himself out every week to bring the Sorry State Universe to you all and makes working here the absolute best job ever and one of the coolest.



Staff Picks: Ava

Various: Speed Metal Hell Vol. 1 (New Renaissance, 1985)

Speed Metal Hell vol. 1 is a mid 80's metal compilation that really took me by surprise. Ripping guitars and drums backed with so many killer vocal styles is what really makes it. I love exploring these comps and finding all kinds of underground metal bands, allowing me to dive into so many discographies and have hours worth of records to listen to. The artwork and the name is really what made me interested, I mean, Barbed wire strings? So Sick. Battle Bratt's Henchman is probably my favorite track on there- Or Whiplash's Thrash Till Death. I love some good falsetto/vibrato action. Check it out if you love wicked 80's metal!

Staff Picks: Usman

DIG YOUR OWN GRAVE #1

This badass mixtape/fanzine release is brought to you by Suck Blood (Los Angeles) the same label who brought you KRIGSHODER KRIG I HODET, which Jeff wrote about a few weeks ago in his Staff Pick. I think Suck Blood came from the ashes of East 7th Punx, who knew exactly what they were doing and did it right. Sorry State has copies of this mixtape and the KRIGSHODER tape on the way. I am really critical of tapes. I think because I have made so many damn top-notch tapes it makes me judge the quality of other's work pretty heavily, cos I know how good a tape can get. I'm sorry I don't mean to brag about myself, I seriously suck at a lot of shit, including general life-skills and I only talk so highly of my tapes cos my friends have all affirmed their quality to me time and time again. Back in Indianapolis, I didn't have social media and I didn't have internet at home. I didn't know what bandcamp was (or that my address for shows was all over facebook haha). I say this cos when I got a band's tape, thats how I would know the songs. And man, so many tapes sounded like complete shit. To be honest, I just assumed that the recordings just sucked. I remember many years later finding bandcamps from bands back home and realizing it was the dubbing process/lack of care that made the tapes sound like shit. And I say all this, cos I am highly suggesting you pick up this mixtape with the fanzine that comes with it heavily in mind. The cassette itself sounds alright, one side sounds a bit better than the other. It's certainly not the best quality sound but very far from the worst i've heard. I'm assuming they just used mp3 downloads of the songs, but maybe I am completely wrong and they ripped their own records/tapes to get the tracks.

Anyway, the fanzine is where it's at... It is beautiful. Multi-color sheets bound between a screen-printed cover, it truly is gorgeous. The zine compiles interviews from a shit ton a bands, all of which I have never read before. Almost of the bands I already knew, so it was super cool to read interviews they had done when they were an active band. Retrospective interviews are great, but there's something special when you can capture the genuine feelings of the band at the time. Rather than interviews conducted after a band has broken up - they have time to reflect on their experiences and can rehearse the responses a bit more, for better or worse. Yeah, some of the interviews are kind of boring in the but the ones that aren't definitely make up for it. The coolest one I read was (unexpectedly) Vice Squad. Some of my favorites were Rudimentary Peni, Sacrilege, and Mellakka (of course). It's funny to hear what band's like to talk shit about, a common one was actually playing gigs haha. Anyway, this write-up will be kept brief. DIG YOUR OWN GRAVE #1 is an amazing release, so stoked they did something like this and I can't wait to see what comes next!!! Grab one if you get the chance and you'll definitely enjoy it if you like any of the bands on there.

Screaming Dead, Sacrilege, Rudimentary Peni, Disorder, External Menace, Exit-Stance, Mellakka, The System, Heimat-Los, Mau Maus, Flux of Pink Indians, Vice Squad, Acid Attack, Upright Citzens, Siege, Attak


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