(15 MP3s and 1 video below the fold.)
Don't you love going to shows where tons of bands play and you know next to nothing about most of them? Sometimes it turns out to be a total disaster, but that is part of the fun. And on more than one such occasion I have discovered musicians who totally blew me away. Just remember the one important rule: Don't run away if it sucks. Unless it is the last band, of course. If you really can't stand it, do some drugs, or bang your head against a wall, that usually helps. I vividly remember the 1985 Total Music Meeting in Berlin, where I endured the tedious free jazz exercises of three academics who tried hard to prove that they could play wrong notes, too. Had I left at that point, I would have missed the fantastic and hilarious set of Phil Minton, Peter Brötzmann, and the late great Hugh Davies. I had never heard of any of these guys before.
In December I had the fortune to be in Berlin again to attend a Daniel Johnston tribute show, with 19 bands, a screening of the documentary The Devil and Daniel Johnston (featuring Gibby Haynes being interviewed in a dentist's chair, and NYC hipsters singing along to a religious song), and a remote video contribution by Kevin Blechdom and Planningtorock. Most of the names in the line-up were absolutely new to me, and I was prepared for the worst. Fortunately, it turned out to be really great, you can read more about it here. However, one performer stuck out of the crowd, and literally tore the place to pieces. That guy was Elvis Pummel, the king of Original 50's Punk from Dortmund, Germany.
This is what happened at the show in Berlin: He went on stage with an acoustic guitar, introduced himself, and started to play Sorry Entertainer by Daniel Johnston. It all looked deceivingly normal. However, after a short time he jumped down on the dance floor and went totally apeshit, screaming, rolling around on the floor, and strangling himself with the mic cable. At the very end of the evening (after 3am, when many people had already left) he played another song, this time with his band, the Indoor Surfers. He wore a strange mask and acted like he was being electrocuted, possessed by demons, or both. I was instantly hooked, and if I could show you a video of his performance, you would be, too.
Elvis Pummel ("Pummel" is a rather benign German term for slightly overweight people) has been around for a long time, playing live shows since the mid 80s, gaining local celebrity status in Dortmund, and winning the 1993 contest for Worst Guitarist of North Rhine-Westfalia. Among his influences he lists Ed Wood, Hasil Adkins, Kylie Minogue, the Backstreet Boys, Liberace, Bob Log III, and Michael Jackson. In 1998 Elvis recorded a demo tape and sent it to Crazy Love and Voodoo Rhythm Records. Within two weeks, Reverend Beat-Man had offered him a record deal on Voodoo Rhythm, and the result was the 7" vinyl single Pressed On Wax. It is long out of print, but here it is in its entirety in MP3 form:
Later he also produced a video for Play It, MTV!, featuring the mask I was talking about earlier. If you don't watch it right now, you could as well shoot yourself on the spot. Download the 19 meg AVI file here. (Be careful on Mac OS, it has no sound and crashes Firefox when played with the browser plugin, at least for me. VLC plays it fine, though.)
Here are some more Elvis Pummel MP3s, they are just too good to pass up:
My Last Night On Earth (Alternatake) (taken from the 7" single The Secret Deathwish Aftershow)
A Marvel Comic And A Blue Jeans | Knew This Before | That's About My Life | What I Do (from the album On Board)
Unfortunately, his website has recently disappeared. It had all the MP3s from On Board, the video I posted, and other interesting stuff. I hope it will return soon. UPDATE: Elvis tells me that the outage is the result of a hard disk crash on the server. It should be back up soon.
Crazy Love plans to reissue all Elvis Pummel vinyl singles on CD some time this year. Stay tuned and check their website regularly!
Thanks to the BAD TASTE LOUDBLOG, where I snatched some of the tracks above.
I always try hard to be a rebel, but the result is a funny clown! - E.P.