Tony Coulter here, with a second post from my new digs in Portland, Oregon. I should say right off the bat that if I write about Portland, my intent is not to promote the place as the perfect spot for a hipster jamboree. I happen to have just moved here, so, naturally, Portland's on my mind; if I had moved to Sandpoint, Idaho, I'd be writing about Sandpoint, Idaho. In fact, to prove it, I'll just go ahead and throw in two things Idahoan. After all, Idaho and Oregon are neighbors, aren't they?
Anyhow, I was originally planning to do a post on some of Oregon's musical highlights (from my perspective, of course). I abandoned that as too broad a topic, but if I had done it, I'd have urged you to listen to the Lollipop Shoppe, Beauregarde, the New Tweedy Bros., the New Dawn, Hunger, Smegma, Jungle Nausea, the Parasites of the Western World, and Jackie-O Motherfucker, among others. Digging deeper, I would have recommended Delvin Ford, Bob Desper, and Nun-Plus.
All of the above have actually already been played on FMU -- so you can check them out by trolling archives of yore. What I decided to do instead was to highlight some LPs from Oregon and Idaho that I've discovered since moving here four months ago. These are things I would have played on my FMU show if I were still on the air. I will also show you pictures from a high school yearbook I found in a junk shop, and from a book put out by a Berkeley dentist.
Sounds and sights await you past the fold:
The Chameleons: Spring Fallout (Meta Records mr 81-07-01, 1981)
First up is a fine unknown Portland LP, released in 1981 and camouflaged behind a very drab cover. Overseen by group leader Richard Crandall -- rhythm guitarist, keyboardist, vocalist, and inventor of a digital piano called the "Albatross" -- the Chameleons cover a pretty broad range of styles, from pseudo-country to post-punk. There's an underlying artiness and eggheadedness, and unusually interesting lyrics. I've chosen two of the post-punkier tracks (even if the lead guitarist hadn't gotten the memo), which you'll find below the portrait of Herr Crandall and his digital sidekick.
Richard Crandall with the "Albatross"
Stauz: My Stars! (Stauf Enterprises, 1981)
Moving on to a second disc from Portland -- and also from 1981 -- we enter trickier aesthetic waters. The duo known as Stauz has definite outsider, "real people" qualities. That is to say, they don't possess much in the way of conventional musical skill, they are frequently "out of tune," and their songs have a strange, somewhat unhinged obsessive quality. Nonetheless, they are unique and I genuinely like them -- I hope you will too. As Stauz themselves remark, "Jealousy has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the science or philosophy of jello, jellocy."
The Mission Street Salvation Band: Adriel (Flock of God) (New World NW 1004, 1973)
Next up is a 1973 Jesus rock LP by a band from Dallas, Oregon (a town not too far from Portland, but closer to Salem). This is heartfelt, like the best of this kind of stuff, and has a nice laid back quality. The track I've chosen has a rather stoned-out groove and features striking harmonica playing, which is unusual for not really being blues-based. The atmospheric shot of the band on the back cover both reminds me of the cover of the New Dawn LP, and suggests the band probably had real roots in the counterculture -- that is, they probably found Jesus on an acid trip.
Jim Ballou: Key to a Fantasy (Musicmaker Productions, 1988)
Crossing the border into Idaho, we turn next to a fascinating record from Sandpoint, self-released in 1988. Like Stauz, Ballou is perhaps an "outsider" artist -- but, probably unintentionally, there's also a kind of echo here of certain kinds of faux-guileless indie rock. Ballou, however, is completely sincere, and the album has a delicate and touching charm.
Stone Garden: Stone Garden (Gear Fab GF-188, 2002)
Last month, while rooting around a local Portland junk shop, I came across a 1970 yearbook from a high school in Lewiston, Idaho. Flipping through it, I was startled to discover a picture (see below) of just about the only psych band from Idaho I'm familiar with: The Stone Garden. Apparently, they played the graduation dance! Perhaps they even played the song about the end of the world I've posted underneath their action shot.
Lewiston High School, Lewiston, Idaho - The 1970 Bengal
The "Stone Garden" yearbook has other charms as well. It's quite fascinating flipping through it to see how much the '50s and '60s overlapped in that time and place. Loafers and pom-poms rub shoulders with shaggy hair and swirly psychedelic art. Talking about swirly psychedelic art, here's my favorite example, taken from the yearbook's flyleaf and drawn by someone whose name I can't quite make out:
Thomas McGuire D.D.S.: The Tooth Trip (Random House/Bookworks, 1972)
Turning next to a book I found awhile ago, it occurs to me that I'm not sure I'd want an acid head for a dentist -- but in Berkeley in 1972, pretending to be an acid head apparently struck Doctor Thomas McGuire as a good way to attract customers. How else to explain the fisheye lens and the Blue Cheer album cover on the ceiling? In case you've forgotten what Blue Cheer's Outsideinside looks like, I've included a photo of a copy "Lynette" bought for ten cents.
Here's the book's title page:
Lynette's ten-cent copy of Blue Cheer's Outsideinside
That's it for this week's installment. In two weeks time: an interview with Smegma!