Rare or Unreleased 20: BRMC

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club: «evoL» [mp3]

For some reason, psychedelia is usually sunny. Sun is life and life is consciousness and consciousness is psychedelic, I suppose. Whatever the equation, this unreleased demo and backwards ode to love (or is that ode to backwards love?) by garage-psych retro rawkers BRMC is perfect for strollling around on the spinning earth's ground, or for floating along on rolling moors'n'meadows, under the auspices of that burning star…


Net Nuggets 11: Love Would Be Much Better

Devendra Banhart: Live on Morning Becomes Eclectic [zip]

The sun's demanding. The grass smells of sausages, the bushes of condoms. Bodies dreaming of perfection lay marinated in sun block, hoping to wake up gorgeous. The streets are abuzz with people. Laughter in the distance. Still, «love, it would be much better…»

These live-in-studio recordings were aired on US radio station KCRW on 5 May 2004, as Devendra Banhart was promoting the remarkable Rejoicing in the Hands of the Golden Empress. The five last songs are backed by the Winter Flowers, Devendra Banhart joining them on one of their songs («Hey Ho»):
  1. This Is the Way
  2. The Body Breaks
  3. Todos los dolores (lla se van)
  4. Autumn's Child
  5. This Beard Is for Siobhan (a.k.a. The Daughter of a Man Was Mammalian and Oh so Well Brested)
  6. It's a Sight to Behold
  7. Will Is My Friend
  8. Hey Ho
  9. Michigan State


Rare or Unreleased 19: Jorge Ben Summer Solstice Special!

Jorge Ben: Raro '76-67 [.zip]
Technically, the summer solstice was yesterday. But I was severely hungover yesterday. So, a smidge belated, here's a solstice offering: some rarities by Brazilian singer-songwriter Jorge Ben, whose songs brim with light & love (for want of an expression less lame).

And I know you're gagging for it: Every week about a hundred people visit this blog for approx. four minutes. Yet only three or four trusty mp3 hunters consistently download the goodies that lie herein. (What do the rest of you people do here? Read?!) Of all the downloads made available on Toilet Guppies, the undisputed winner is my previous post on Jorge Ben. That Ben rarities comp has been downloaded about thirty times—twice as much as the second most popular download (the Birthday Party's official bootleg It's Still Living, brimming with dark & hate).

And seeing as there's such a wealth of great Ben material that's still, inexplicably, out of print—the consistently high quality rendering my previous sampler's selections a bit random—here's a follow-up with more sun loving sounds:
1. Meus filhos, meu tesouro
2. Hermes Trismegisto escreveu
3. Assim falou Santo Tomáz de Aquino
4. Velhos, flores, criancinhas e cachorros
5. Hermes Trismegisto escreveu
6. Paz e arroz
7. Morre o burro, fica o homem
8. As Rosas eram todas amarelas
9. Que nega é essa?
10. Porque é proibido pisar na grama
11. Rita Jeep
12. Comanche
13. Eu sou da pesada
14. Quanto mais te vejo
15. Frases

(For the nerds:
1-2 from from África Brasil (1976)
3-4 from Solta o pavão (1975)
5 from A Tábua de Esmeralda (1974)
6-9 from Ben (1972)
10-12 from Negro é lindo (1971)
13-15 from O Bidú—Silêncio no Brooklin (1967), backed by the Fevers
I highly recommend purchasing Ben's same-period albums that haven't been discontinued:
Jorge Ben (1969)
Fôrça bruta
Jorge Ben—10 anos depois
Gil & Jorge—Ogum Xangô


Rare or Unreleased 18: GvsB

Girls Against Boys: «She's Lost Control» [mp3]

An out-of-control girl can be a mixed curse. There's no way of being certain «other people» aren't really just a figment of your imagination—that they actually experience and feel anything at all—so some volatile girl with yo-yo moods, little self-discipline and no emotional restraint, feeding on the feelings of anyone who will stay, may provide a convincing case for the existence of other minds, whenever you're in the clutches of lonely, late-night solipsism.

And what better day to celebrate dysfunctional girls than on a Friday? When they willingly go out to losen the tentative grip they have on life (and on reality as a whole), dressed in black and wearing too much make-up, their self-medication a big «fuck you» to their team of doctors, specialists and therapists.

So here you go: an inexplicably out-of-print cover version of «She's Lost Control». The original by Joy Division lacks the confidence that sometimes comes with a modicum of technical ability, but Girls Against Boys were still in their tight & ballsy prime in 1995. Not only does their rendition surpass the original; it's one of GvsB's most glorious moments, kicking so much arse it's been stuck in my head for the better part of fourteen years. (Which is about as long as it's been out of print.)

To coincide with the various artists tribute album, A Means to an End—The Music of Joy Division, GvsB released this bottom-heavy and über-kool tribute to the humourless division as a single. Needless to say, it didn't fare well. But it certainly deserves to be played.

Every Friday night.


Net Nuggets 11: Larkin Grimm

Larkin Grimm: Some songs, live on Airborne Event [zip]

Watching Larkin Grimm performing live earlier this year, sat there on the floor on the front row so stoned that the outside world could only be viewed through a button hole (a kind of tear in the fabric of nothingness), with everything out there conflated into two dimensions—the third dimension reduced to the distance between the mind and the flat film it perceived out there, beyond its touch—the thing that most obviously grabbed one's attention (and the only thing on which it seemed possible to maintain focus) was Ms. Grimm's remarkably large, perfectly round and absolutely wide open mouth, wherein words like fragments of reality reside—the important ones, to do with the body, the mind, nature, the city, the mythological, the everyday, woman, man, sweet revenge, bitter hate, the impending apocalypse and, somewhat miraculously (yet at the heart of it all), love.

Manichean and Christian seeds of thought have rendered our minds too fallow for us to be able to fathom or reconcile any longer something as basic as, say, the vengeful God of the Old Testament with the forgiving Jesus of the New. And we've only been as illuminated as we've been dulled by the Enlightenment. But there's another body of knowledge; one that doesn't pit an «evil» against a «good»—one that doesn't reduce reality into two words, and to which all such reductions are banal, anyway. It's from this rage, intervowen with compassion (and knowing no such distinctions), that Grimm's words spring. The Age of Aquarius, from Hell. From the mouth of the universe. From that mouth, enunciating every syllable of weird truth swirling from within it:
The pine cone told me what to do, and I obeyed:
«Remind Apollo of the boaster whom he flayed»
I asked that butcher if he ever felt dismayed
Counting organs in the body when the flesh is stripped away
Without a mind
Without a body or a mind
Without a mind
Without a body or a numb and useless mind

The usefulness of being still has come and gone
Just like the jolt of cruel dreams before the dawn
Or like that melting piece of ice you sit upon
Becoming number than the feathers of a molting yellow swan
Without a mind
Without a body or a mind
Without a mind
Without a body or a numb and useless mind

I guess I'm sick, I can't get up, I try and try
I wipe the crusted-out mascara from my eye
And hear the songs people sing before they die
There is a world above the blankets that are blocking out the sky
Without a mind
Without a body or a mind
Without a mind
Without a body or a numb and useless mind

In streets where glass is ground into a powder fine
The drifting wind will blow it grinding through your mind
And the curves where skulls have cracked and teeth have been realigned
Hold trees where multitudes of pissing dogs encounter the sublime
Without a mind
Without a body or a mind
Without a mind
Without a body or a numb and useless mind
I have nothing to add.

Here are the details:

1. Hope for the Hopeless
The album version of this bears the mark of co-producer Michael Gira's typically stoic approach to lust for vengeance, remaining unnervingly in control throughout, whereas this rendition spirals upwards into a malignant but righteous incantation for someone's final downfall. Although I seem to remember this being dedicated to members of the Bush administration, its topical content is never explicit, leaving the song open for the delight of anyone holding a grudge—not to mention gluttons for punishment, longing to be cleansed of all their sins. The only hope for the truly hopeless is the ultimate redemption, the inevitable manifestation of hopelessness waiting for them at the end end of their rope, at the end of this tune.
(Original version on Parplar.)

2. Be My Host
A song for brave threnodist Marissa Nadler, this track is unalloyed love. A love song from the mouths of all bad spirits.
(Original version on Parplar.)

3. The Butcher
Along with Parplar album track «Dominican Rum»—and possibly the title track off of Grimm's second album, 2006's The Last Tree—«The Butcher» puts Grimm up there with the most accomplished lyricists ever. (No exaggeration.) It's astounding how words that on the face of it have nothing to do with your life can seem to speak from its core. This is spiritual music, without the bullshit, and the feeling of well-being in the face of the song's mortality and sorrow is the strength brought on by the sound of perfection.
(A studio version has yet to be released.)

4. Sugar Hill
Visceral lyrics weren't invented by the Stones or Black Sabbath. A traditional American folk song, «Sugar Hill» has been recorded by the likes of the Carter Family, but never by Grimm on any of her albums. As per traditional custom, the lyrics have been slightly reworked by the singer.

5. One Sweet Drop
Another original song that's yet to be given the studio treatment, this one's all broken heart and prayer for sleep.

6. They Were Wrong
Less precious than the album version, for some of us this—along with Entrance's «Lost in the Dark» (with its lines like: «Some fatal night when the dark truth hits you / I won't be there to fake a smile»)—is the most chilling song imaginable. No kind words here. But then, you can kill with kindness. To those the song would apply to, there's a tenderness to the delivery of the lyrics' brutal truth—a truth you'd never even hear from a lover, friend, family member or therapist (and least of all an enemy)—that you cannot really expect, so should accept with gratitude. What's the point in indulging in hope, when there is none?
(Original version on Parplar.)

All the above songs were recorded on 10 November, 2008 for Dan Bodah's show on WFMU. Grimm, who sings and plays guitar, banjo, guzheng and the guitar case, is accompanied here by John Houx, who plays the guitar, guzheng and sings back-up.

Anyway, if you want to get your eyes poked out and if you want to get your thrills, if you want to get your head knocked out, download «Sugar Hill» and the rest of these songs. Do yourself that favour. Then go buy Parplar, and if you like that, Larkin Grimm's first two albums.


Rare or Unreleased 17: The Stones

The Rolling Stones: «Schoolboy Blues» (a.k.a. «Cocksucker Blues») [mp3]

A little Sunday tune to go with this day-after-the-night-before.

In 1970, the Rolling Stones formed their own record company, but were informed by label Decca that they still owed them one final single before the corporate pimps could cut them loose. So Mick Jagger and Keith Richards recorded this for the big wigs. Naturally, it wasn't the Glimmer Twins' fault that Decca could never release it…

The would-be single remained unreleased until 1983, when The Rest of the Best—a West German Stones compilation—appeared, with «Cocksucker Blues» as a bonus single.

Alas! the world wasn't ready. Four weeks later, that version of the Rest of the Best comp was discontinued.


Net Nuggets 10: Goodbye, Upopulær!

Peter Bjorn & John: «Lay It Down (The Golden Filter remix)» [mp3]
After about three years of giving underage queers and disaffected trendies a day-glo place to shine, irregular Oslo club night Upopulær! has finally become too popular for its b(r)itches. Tonight has been announced the last ever «official Upopulær!»

From Upopulær!'s electro-punk beginnings through to raves for drunks and now its '90s retro Eurotrash ending, we here at Toilet Guppy's don't really have any rarities or Internet exclusives to fit the gloriously mucky club night's bill. But I did manage to dig out this old beauty—the Golden Filter's sassy remix of Peter Bjorn & John's more or less recent single, the deliciously catty «Lay It Down». Attitude, darling!

You probably won't have heard the track at Upopulær!, but it'll have to do…


(Saturday 13 June at Revolver, Møllergata 2, Oslo. Doors open at 10:00 pm. Entrance: kr. 100.)


Rare or Unreleased 16: Meret Becker

Meret Becker: Some songs off Noctambule [.zip]

On 1 October 1995, Meret Becker and her band of merry musicians (including Alexander Hacke of Einstürzende Neubauten) played a show at Berlin cabaret venue Bar Jeder Vernunft. A recording of the gig was released as Noctambule in 1996, but has long been out of print.

The tracklist includes songs and interpretations of German giants of culture such as Weill-Brecht, the brothers Grimm, Brahms and, er, Einstürzende Neubauten. (Becker's rendition of Neubauten's «Schwarz» even exceeds the original.)

So, here are, in my mind, some of the best tracks off the unjustly discontinued album:
  1. Schwarz (words/meolody: Blixa Bargeld, NU Unruh & FM Einheit)
  2. Ballade vom Ertrunkenen Mädchen (words: Kurt Weill/melody: Bertolt Brecht)
  3. The River (words: James Joyce/melody: Dorothy Carter)
  4. Das Vögelein (words/melody: trad.)
  5. Maskerade (melody: Dorothy Carter)
  6. Gut' Abend, Gute Nacht (words: trad/melody: Johannes Brahms)
Oh, and a little YouTube delight to finish off with: Around the period of this recording, Meret Becker duetted with Blixa Bargeld on Neubauten's tale of love and missed connections, «Stella Maris»:


Festival Time!

Summer is upon us, and you know what that means: Mandatory attendance at the music festival of your choice! Which, if you've got any sense, you should make the DIY noise fest at the most happening farm currently in existence. For on the 19th to the 20th of June, Støy På Landet kicks off in Selbu—the rural heartland of the heaviest traditional binge drinking of illegally potent and recklessly homemade alcohol in the world, about two hours out of Trondheim, Norway.

From last year's bash, this is what you might expect:

Or, if you're more melodically inclined, here's something for you John Fahey/James Blackshaw fans:

And if you think watching Apple Macintosh lower case noise artistes may prove a tad boring after a while, there's even free form angst to keep things visceral:

And if that proves a bit taxing on your nerves, let your mind curl up in a foetal position to the strains of what reality sounds like, beneath its layers of colour and texture:

It's intimate, it's in remote, beautiful surroundings (with a breathtaking view), most likely full of delightful and gracious oddballs, is only NOK 300 (€34), and you can get your tickets here.


Rare or Unreleased 15: Codeine

Codeine: «Atmosphere» [mp3]

Codeine was a '90s New York band—one of the more sophisticated acts on the otherwise teeny-oriented Sub Pop roster, and subtly innovative. The trio's songs were extremely slow, which made their melancholy music sound downright depressing to a lot of people. A fitting group to interpret Joy Division, then.

In 1995, more than a decade before post-punk became so fashionable again and Joy Division experienced its renaissance with Ian Curtis biopic Control and a slew of reissues, Hut Recordings put out the various artists tribute album A Means to an End—The Music of Joy Division, which was discontinued as quickly as the few copies sold out.

Here then, is a largely neglected and forgotten band's able version of one of Joy Division's last and most accomplished tracks, «Atmosphere».

Tender, understated, unpretentious and unlike Joy Division, Codeine somehow always managed to stay clear of maudlin sentimentality and self-pity on their two albums and one EP, even as the subject matter they explored was invariably one of loss or longing. They weren't depressing. They were simply straightforward.
People like you have it easy
Face like the sun, walking on air


Net Nuggets 8: BJM—Live!

The Brian Jonestown Massacre: «Hide and Seek» (live) [mp3]
We liked the same things, but always for different reasons. But whether standing in the middle of the cramped crowd in London's Koko in 2006, or up by the front of the stage in the Hague in 2007, holding this girl I was playing emotional hide and seek with—stoically, almost cruelly using strategic omissions and tactical evasions to avoid revealing the true extent of our feelings (if she knew just how devoted I was to her she'd surely have eaten me alive)—I actually got that obscene cliché about music bringing people together. Finally, as we left the venue high from the soaring performance of this song in particular, we loved the same thing for the same reason.

Although a staple of Brian Jonestown Massacre shows, initially «Hide and Seek» was released in its nascent demo version, recorded solo way back in 1995 by Anton Newcombe, then in a radio session band rendition as an added bonus on a career retrospective. Yet none of these versions capture the upwards spiralling elevation of the group's live performances of the song. (No recording could, which is why you should catch them live.)

Nick Cave, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen are all masters at capturing the loss of love with their eloquence, clever turns of phrases, and penetrating vision (no pun intended). Sometimes—when they can get their minds out of the abyss—they even manage to replicate the rush of being in love. Better lyricists than Anton Newcombe by far, they've nevertheless never created anything as transporting as Newcombe and his Massacre do with their live rendition of «Hide and Seek».

Listening to it brings out love—not the romantic delusion, but a directionless joy without meaning or reason that can lift anyone out of any conceiveable funk. Gratitude at being alive and conscious in song format, its gradual euphoria isn't so much hope as the foundation upon which hope is built, and so towers over hopelessness. What lifts it above most rock music is that it isn't about having a good time, but about rapture.

From what I can gather from the unintelligible singing, «Hide and Seek» is a love song. The delivery of this particular performance, however, steps inside the melody and only uses the lyrics, scales them like a ladder to be discarded once at the top. The slowly, steadily swelling, wordless interludes appear, almost impossibly, to rise and rise, yet never quite reach a climax. (Or maybe it's already there?) It either swoops you up out of death or down towards it, but never into it—a raven taunting a dog, and a transcendent hovering, as near death as it is held up by life.

Which is why we'd feel so high when we left the gig, this song the single point that locked us into each other, completely.

So Death, if you're reading this:


Get a recording of the entire gig here.