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‘Records Collecting Dust’: New doc on collecting vinyl with Jello Biafra and other fanatatics


 
As record collecting’s resurgence continues to grow, so does the sub-industry of proffering opinions about the phenomenon. Annual pro- and anti-Record Store Day think pieces seem to proliferate at a faster pace than vinyl sales themselves, the photo book Dust & Grooves is slated for a third printing this summer, and documentary films on the vinyl collecting hobby are growing in number, as well. That micro-genre’s 21st Century godfather is 2000’s Vinyl, noteworthy for predating the vinyl renaissance by several years, also noteworthy for painting a dismal picture of record collectors as sad old men who, having failed to connect with human beings in their pitiable lives, turn to hoarding media to fill an emotional gap or grasp at a sense of purpose. I frankly and flatly reject the implication that a love of collecting music lumps one in with doleful and socially isolated alterkakers who need suicide watch more than they need turntables. In mitigation, Atom Egoyan and Harvey Pekar are among the collectors interviewed, and that’s damn cool. Watch it here, if you like.

A more recent offering, 2008’s I Need That Record! offers a view of the obsession from a different sociological perspective, looking at the thinning of ranks in indie record stores (that retail niche has obviously rebounded since), seeking input from indie-famous crate diggers like Ian MacKaye and Thurston Moore, with a helping of righteous corporation-slapping from Noam Chomsky. And it offers a much more upbeat view of the collector.

And there is a new contender: Riot House has released musician Jason Blackmore’s (Sirhan Sirhan, Molly McGuire) hour-long Records Collecting Dust, which asks a laundry list of punk and indie luminaries questions like “what was the first record you bought?” “What was the last record you bought?” “If there was a gun to your head and you had to pare your collection down to five albums, what would they be?” It’s a really fun watch, and not just for the trainspotting. It’s a gas to see Keith Morris extol the virtues of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, to see Jello Biafra wax rhapsodic about Space Ritual, Mike Watt raving about American Woman, and David Yow talking about baffling his teacher and fellow schoolkids when he brought the Beatles’ trippy, bluesy b-side “For You Blue” to show and tell. One truly wonderful sequence joins Rocket From the Crypt/Drive Like Jehu/Hot Snakes guitarist John “Speedo” Reis in showing off his favorite children’s LPs on a toy turntable, and there’s even a segment with Dangerous Minds’ own Howie Pyro. I always enjoy tales of musical discovery, all the more so when they’re told by people who’ve made the music that warped me, and Records Collecting Dust is FULL of that, plus live performances by Jello Biafra & the Guantanamo School of Medicine, the Locust, and Big Business.
 

 
Though enjoyable, the film has its imperfections. It suffers from an abiding and ultimately irritating L.A.-centrism. I’d love to hear more tales of life-changing finds from people who hail from more culturally isolated areas, and so couldn’t just go to someplace like Wherehouse or Licorice Pizza whenever they felt like it, and had to really work for their scores. One other thing screamed out at me, though it’s not a flaw in the film as such, but more a consequence of the hobby’s demographic: the levels of vinyl-stockpiling depicted seem overwhelmingly to be a male phenomenon, so out of 36 interviewees listed in the credits, exactly two women appear, namely former Black Flag bassist Kira Roessler, and Frontier Records’ Lisa Fancher. Roessler makes one of the funniest observations in the whole doc when she describes how record stores magically cause men to shop in a manner stereotypically associated with women.

Another of the film’s truly brilliant moments is this fabulous sermon from Jello Biafra, which I’ve taken the liberty of transcribing in its entirety, because I 100% agree with every damn word of it:

I think part of the magic that vinyl, and records, and blundering into cool music you never knew existed still holds for me. I’m still a fan, and keep in mind “fan” comes from the word “fanatic.” I love to keep exploring, and even though I’ve got way too many records, I never buy one unless I intend to listen to it when I get home—I don’t always have time to listen to ‘em all now, but that’s the idea. I don’t buy it to scam or speculate, I buy it to listen to it. And there, that way, I never run out of cool music to listen to. I have no patience for these people who say “Oh, the whole scene died when Darby Crash died,” or “yeah, there’s no good bands anymore.” WROOOOOONG. Good sounds are where you find it so start looking, OK? Don’t be afraid to blunder into something cool. You never know what it might do to your life, or even your own music, or your band may finally start sounding different from all the other bands you like.

Records Collecting Dust began screening in California this month. Remaining showings though March are listed on its web page . If you’re on the fence about checking it out, perhaps these trailers will help nudge you one way or the other.
 

 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Ron Kretsch
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01.26.2015
11:54 am
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Legendary jazz bassist Charlie Haden plays with Minutemen, 1984
07.15.2014
11:36 am
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Revered jazz bass player Charlie Haden died on Friday at the age of 76. One of the hallmarks of his illustrious career (in which he won four Grammys) was his eclecticism, his ability to play with a wide variety of artists, a list that included musicians as disparate as Keith Jarrett, Ornette Coleman, Ginger Baker and Norah Jones. In the early 1980s, through his children’s listening habits, Haden became interested in the burgeoning American rock scene, including Meat Puppets and Black Flag.

In 1984 he booked seminal San Pedro punk pioneers Minutemen as an opening act at McCabe’s Guitar Shop in Santa Monica. During the set he came out and joined the trio for “Little Man With a Gun in His Hand” from their hastily recorded EP Buzz or Howl Under the Influence of Heat.
 
Minutemen and Charlie Haden
 
The above picture comes from Mike Watt’s website; Watt’s caption reads, “santa monica, ca - 1984 / (from left) d. boon, charlie haden and mike watt (behind) / at mc cabes’. charlie jammed w/us in the tune ‘little man w/a gun in his hand.’”

This video comes from the never-released SST video Corndogs!, the only copy of which was stolen out of a van before it could be sent to the duplication plant—bootlegs of various bits have floated around for decades now. The quality of the video is pretty shitty, especially in visual terms, but even though the sound isn’t great, the overall effect still makes for pleasurable listening to my ears.
 

 
Here is a longer version of the same video, front-loaded with three other songs (“Two Beads At The End,” “Nothing Indeed,” “No Exchange”)—“Little Man With a Gun in His Hand” comes at the end.

Posted by Martin Schneider
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07.15.2014
11:36 am
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Mike Watt stars in new Sweet Apple video: a DM exclusive premiere


 
Dangerous Minds is proud to present the exclusive premiere of the new Sweet Apple video, “Let’s Take the Same Plane.”
 

 
Sweet Apple is the indie supergroup formed by J Mascis of Dinosaur Jr, Dave Sweetapple of Witch, and Tim Parnin and John Petkovic of Cobra Verde. Their current album, The Golden Age Of Glitter, is earning raves, and “Let’s Take the Same Plane” is the third of a planned six videos to complement it. (You can see the first two in this DM post from April.) This one stars Minutemen/Firehose bassist and stalwart rock lifer Mike Watt as a kayaker launching his boat and roaming out into the Pacific, shot on the same San Pedro beach where Watt took photos for his book On and Off Bass. And that’s pretty much it. That’s all it needs to be! It’s a disarmingly poignant video for the album’s most contemplative song, a lonely acoustic number with gorgeous backup vocals from the Screaming Trees’ Mark Lanegan and Rachel Haden of the Rentals and That Dog.

Here’s the video. Enjoy.
 

 
Mike Watt is currently a member of il sogno del marinaio, who will be touring this fall. Dates are listed at his web page.

Posted by Ron Kretsch
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06.09.2014
10:47 am
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‘No Slam Dancing’: Black Flag, Dead Kennedys and… Jon Stewart?


Henry Rollins and Greg Ginn during a Black Flag show
 
I’ve read an absolutely embarrassing amount of books on pop music for someone who’s never read Dostoyevsky, and over the years I’ve learned to make my recommendations with care. I’ve found out the hard way that not everyone is as interested in Ronnie Spector’s autobiography as I am (ingrates), and that it’s difficult to convince someone that you don’t have to be a metal fan to enjoy a book on the history of heavy metal. However, I’m completely serious when I say everyone will enjoy No Slam Dancing, No Stage Diving, No Spikes: An Oral History of the Legendary City Gardens—it’s just that universal.

To give you some background, City Gardens was a music venue in the most unlikely of places, Trenton, New Jersey, a city that’s been on the rapid decline for decades. After the assassination of Martin Luther King, riots ravaged the downtown, and even the cops were looting (for welding masks and catcher’s helmets to protect their faces from flying debris). Insurance companies began to drop businesses’ claims, deindustrialization exacerbated unemployment, and suburban flight grew in droves—Trenton, NJ remains a pretty dismal place, economically.

However, where there is a void, there is also opportunity, and a giant warehouse in a rough part of town became the site of a musical oasis, all through the tireless efforts of a few committed fans and staff. The actual City Gardens building had been re-purposed many times before, from a grocery store to a car dealership, but when it was reopened as a disco in 1980, local DJ Randy Now approached the owner, hoping to find a venue receptive to his New Wave tastes. What began as a few weekly dance nights quickly paved the way to booking some of the best bands in underground music.
 

The Descendents in front of their perilous tour bus
 
Before you write off City Gardens as just another scummy punk venue, realize two things. First, the Trenton neighborhood it called home was volatile. While slam-dancing can certainly incur some injuries, to say City Gardens was merely “violent” is an understatement. It saw a lawsuit in 1981, not a year after it began booking bands, when a woman was brutally beaten with a pool cue in inside the venue. And this is to say nothing of the skinhead riot that occurred later. The late Dave Brockie, better knows as GWAR singer Oderus Orungus, said City Gardens was so bad, they’d never go there as fans. Second, when I say “some of the best bands in underground music,” I think City Gardens’ booking philosophy is best summed up in Mickey Ween’s forward when he said, “they did not cater to the audience.”

This was not just a punk or hard rock club. For every Black Flag and Danzig (who had their very first show there), there was a Bo Diddley, Sinead O’Connor, Lydia Lunch, Iggy Pop, DEVO, Bauhaus, The Ramones (who played numerous times), Ricky Nelson, The Violent Femmes, RIcky Nelson, or Toots and the Maytals! The Daily Show‘s Jon Stewart was bartending during a Butthole Surfers set with a topless dancer and some careless DIY pyrotechnics! The Beastie Boys almost didn’t play and got their tires slashed, presumably for being late! Someone threatened to break down the dressing room door to stab Jello Biafra! The chaos and sheer wildness of City Gardens is what truly made it unique, and it even hosted all ages shows!
 

Al Jourgensen of Ministry
 
Co-Author Amy Yates Wuelfing pinpoints the preposterous success of it all:

City Gardens was in the middle of nowhere. Not Philly, not New York, but it was still a big club.  That fact that it was so close, and in the middle this dead zone, made the community of people who went there stronger and tighter. It was almost like college, you saw the same people all the time so they became your friends. That was the main thing for me. And unlike the clubs in Philly and New York, the pretentious element wasn’t really there.

What’s truly captivating about No Slam Dancing is the story-telling—it’s a complete oral history, meticulously collected from the memories and reflections of bands, employees, regulars, and all manner of City Gardens alumni. Over a hundred interviews were conducted to create an amazing compendium of anecdotes, and they don’t pull punches. Not everyone comes off well, and sometimes everything goes wrong, but the spirit of the moment is exciting and ambitious, and it’s all the more inspiring when you realize the entire fourteen year musical renaissance of Trenton, New Jersey was built from the ground up by Randy Now, the hobbyist DJ with a day job as a mailman. It’s an insane story, and I highly suggest you pick it up.

Below, Jon Stewart, Ian Mackaye and others talk about City Gardens in a trailer for Riot on the Dance Floor: The story of Randy Now and City Gardens.
 

Posted by Amber Frost
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04.09.2014
02:48 pm
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D. Boon lives! The Minutemen documentary “We Jam Econo”

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As Brad noted last year at this time, it behooves us to remember D. Boon, guitarist and singer for one of L.A.’s most innovative punk bands The Minutemen. His death after a van crash in Arizona 25 years ago today shook the entire L.A. scene, and nothing was the same. But the influence of the band survives and thrives, in no small part due to We Jam Econo, the Minutemen documentary directed by Tim Irwin. Here’s part one—if you like it, buy the DVD!
 

 
Get: We Jam Econo - The Story of the Minutemen [DVD]

 

Posted by Ron Nachmann
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12.22.2010
11:31 am
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Download 911 American Hardcore Tracks From 1981-1986 For Free

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Steven Blush, author of American Hardcore: A Tribal History, has uploaded 911 hardcore tracks of his favorite bands for free.  Some of the artists include: Flipper, Minor Threat, Bad Brains, Minutemen, Hüsker Dü, Dicks, Butthole Surfers, Cro-Mags and more!

Travel on over to 24 Hours of Hardcore compiled by Steven Blush and download the goodness while it lasts. 

Side note from Steven: “COPYRIGHT HOLDERS: I will delete your tracks at your request.

(via Das Kraftfuttermischwerk)

 

Posted by Tara McGinley
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12.02.2010
12:18 pm
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The Minutemen Have Disbanded
03.28.2010
03:29 pm
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No, not Mike Watt’s band. The OTHER Minutemen. The racist, belligerent, uneducated psychopaths who decided to “protect our borders” from… uh… our entire service economy. I always considered these guys some of the biggest pricks in our country… who VOLUNTEERS their time to “beat up the damn Mexicans”?

I grew up by the border and regularly witnessed the reality of border crossing… large groups of desperate, hungry people walking through huge passages of 120º, inhuman conditions to try and get to the other side, in the (often vain) hope of getting some money from menial labor to send back to huge families in Mexico (labor that “real Americans” aren’t willing to do anyway). People cross in large groups for safety in numbers—many don’t make it back alive; they drop dead from dehydration or heat stroke, or literally get picked off by human predators who hunt these people to rape them or rob them of what little savings they are bringing with them. Often the only way to get across is by paying Coyotes, professional border-crossers who are adept at smuggling people across, but usually charge what amounts to somebody’s entire life savings to get across. And they often just run off with the money, or kill for it. It’s hellish. Oh, and what does that sound like, by the way? Like every story of how white America got started? The pilgrims, the pioneers, the Mormon Battalion? That’s what it sounds like to me. If the American dream still exists anywhere, it’s here, with people who are willing to sacrifice anything and brave any danger for the chance for a better life.

Now, imagine going through all that, and having some scuzzy fuck with a “Don’t Tread on Me” hat shoving a gun in your face and telling you you’re taking American jobs—cleary not his, though, because he has nothing better to do then sit in the middle of the desert looking for people to fuck with.

Fuck them. May they stay dispersed forever.

(AlterNet: National Minuteman Border Group Disbands)

Posted by Jason Louv
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03.28.2010
03:29 pm
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