Frank Gutch Jr: Mad Anthony: Madder Than You Think, Requiem For Some Heavyweights, Collecting Vinyl, and one little measly note (but a note of distinction)…..

FrankJr2I’m sitting at the computer this morning listening to Cincinnati’s Mad Anthony (on off-pink vinyl) because I am lucky enough to have people out there who have my interests at heart, this time DBAWIS‘s own Roxanne Tellier.  A few weeks ago, the band’s name came up in conversation (on the computer, of course) and Roxanne put a bug in my ear.  If they ever play in your area, she said, miss at your own risk, which is akin to a dare in my neck of the woods.  Put Roxanne’s weight behind it and it becomes a double-dog dare.

The music gods must have heard because, strangely enough, the band was scheduled at the Axe & Fiddle in Cottage Grove, Oregon shortly afterward.  Was I going to miss Mad Anthony?  What?  And suffer the wrath of Roxanne?!  Not on your life!  Anyway, the last time I followed a DBAWIS recommendation, I ended up at the Doug Fir Lounge in Portland, watching Denmark’s Alcoholic Faith Mission put on one of the best shows I have had the pleasure of attending in the last number of years.  I wasn’t going to chance missing another outstanding show.

madanthonyI am beginning to think that DBAWIS + Recommendation = musical odyssey because my night at the Axe & Fiddle was another experience which makes me wonder why people prefer to stay home and listen to Led Zeppelin or Clash box sets rather than head to the pub for live music of real worth.  Now, I’m not saying that we should head out to the bar every night, but would it hurt some of you pedantic ignorami to take the wife out for a bit of music now and again?  And I’m not talking tribute bands or superstar extravaganzae.  Nothing says I’ve stopped caring about music more than scoring good seats to a Paul McCartney schmoozefest or tickets to a Stairway Denied show (Stairway Denied, in case you don’t know, is one of a long string of bands whose sole reason for living is playing, ad infinitum and with much less talent, the music of Led Zeppelin, though there have been bands who have lowered themselves to the level of Journey, even).

Zoe-Muth-2Well, the ol’ Axe & Fiddle has Cottage Grove covered, though one would never know it by the resounding lack of interest.  I’m sure they have their good nights, like the night Zoe Muth & The Lost High Rollers passed through for the second time (the first, unfortunately, found them playing the Batcave while Batman & Robin were on a mission, evidently).  While not sold out, it was a good crowd and I could see a few people who had stumbled upon the first Muth show quite by accident pointing out the various band members to friends they had obviously convinced to attend.  This night was Mad Anthony’s first time through.  Do the math.

One reason that I dearly love the indies is that most of them have their wheels on the ground and know that without airplay or publicity, they face such nights, so when Mad Anthony hit the stage, they might as well have been playing to a full room.  I could see them striking that first wall-of-sound chord and screaming “Hello, Houston!” as easily as I heard them say “We’re Mad Anthony, Cottage Grove, and we’re here to rock the house!” which is a paraphrase of their opening because when they struck that chord it reverberated on multiple levels.  Loud, distorted and in-your-face describes the first couple of songs— raucous and wild and pounding.  Three guys on what seemed like a much smaller stage than the one on which Muth and band played, rocking in freefall abandon.  Impressive in its power, the music melted together into a cacophony of noise rather than any real musical coherence.  But slowly, the sound took its shape, the sound man listening with one ear as he spun dials or slid pots, looking for the sweet spots.  Two short honks and a bleat, it seemed, and Anthony all of a sudden did not seem all that mad.

The set was tight and professional, songs bleeding into one another one time and comments separating them at others.  I hear some of the songs they played as I sit here— Forget About Us and Weekend Lover (which sounds amazingly like a couple of Ireland’s The Riptide Movement tracks) and You Never Call (which sounds even more like TRM) all from their latest album titled, simply, Mad Anthony.  They packed in a ton of songs in their all too short 40-minute set.  In that short time, I went from struggling to separate instrument sounds to feeling as if I were hearing music I’d had in my collection forever.  Call it mass hypnosis because I was not the only one under their spell.  One other than myself spent the set pointing and screaming at the band, whooping and hollering as if maybe the band had the stature of a Led Zeppelin, and he was only drinking water!  Suffice it to say that at least two fans were born that night.  Although I have a feeling the sound man liked these guys too.  I could tell.

madanthonylpcoverSo who are Mad Anthony?  Three guys.  Ringo Jones, whose madcap and zany antics drove the show, is main vocalist and guitarist.  He flailed the guitar— I mean, flailed!  And danced the dance of the madman.  His guitar solos were a runaway train and his songs tracks on which the train sped.  Adding second vocal and guitar is Adam Flaig, who tweaked and cajoled the guitar more than played it, using amp as much as guitar to make exclamation points.  Together, they make up the musical portion of the act, working around and with one another in a sort of maniacal guitar ballet.  No bass.  Yep.  No bass.  What they have is a bottom heavy drummer to make up for it, though, and I couldn’t tell you his name because, like an idiot, I assumed he was on the albums/singles and he isn’t.  Is it Marc?  Hell of a drummer, holding down the beat even when Ringo and Adam tried to take it right from under him.

The comparisons to The Riptide Movement, by the way, apply to only a few songs, but when they apply they really apply.  All in all, a very good night, as far as I’m concerned.  And the more I hear this latest album, the more I like them.

Good show, guys.  Bands like yours help keep the music alive.  Now if we can only convince people that music keeps you young, maybe we could get a few people in the bars where the real music is happening.  Or get you guys into bigger venues.

Matt-Zeltzer1On another note, the opener at the Axe & Fiddle was a guy named Matthew Zeltzer and let me tell you, he was damn good!  Straight solo acoustic with an outstanding voice.  Did a Townes Van Zandt song that sent chills up my spine.  Townes himself would have been pleased.  You can check out his music here, though he has not posted anything for awhile.  Still, the EP is worth hearing and gives you a good idea what he could do live.  I don’t need to hear it.  I heard him live.  If you ever see his name on a bill somewhere, don’t miss him!

Requiem For Some Heavyweights…..

You know you’re getting old when the numbers of musicians you have admired over they years start dropping in larger and larger numbers.  As I have stated many times, I am afraid to turn on the computer anymore for fear of finding out more have left us behind.  Add to that the number of bands biting the big one and the fear turns to paranoia.  Somehow, it seems a game is afoot and it doesn’t seem to be a fun one, either.  Not to me.

fleetwoodmacoriginalI think we all know that bands don’t last forever (and there are some we wish wouldn’t), and we learned that early in our musical lives when everybody’s choice, The Beatles, disbanded (to so many peoples’ horror).  Fleetwood Mac may have existed as three or four different lineups but the real Fleetwood Mac to those who really knew the band ended after Then Play On.  The later versions of the band may have carried the name, but the band was no more.  The Rolling Stones?  Dead after Mick TaylorThe Who?  Without Entwhistle and Moon, a mere shadow of its former self.  And before you go running home to your mothers, I don’t mean to denigrate the later lineups.  I just mean to say that they were different bands.  Perhaps it would have seemed clearer had I named the Stones dead after Brian Jones, but I loved Taylor’s guitar work and thought he brought so much to the band.  Still, I suppose the correct call should have been Jones.  But I digress.  The point being that when a band disbands, it disbands and all connection to the original should be severed, name and all.  With exceptions.

researchturtlesearly1aOne of my exceptions is Research Turtles, the Boys From Lake Charles.  When word came down the pike that founder Jud Norman had taken the name but left the band’s alter ego The Flamethrowers to themselves, I freaked.  There are few bands these past handful of years that I revered as much as I do those guys.  Did.  Because they are now Jud and only Jud.  Judson, to me, because I know his music like the back of my hand.  You have to understand the importance of the move.  The Turtles were the original side of a cover band, The Flamethrowers.  They were the same guys.  You saw one, you saw the other except Research Turtles were the guys playing originals.  I heard the cover band knock off a few rocking tunes, sure, but there is only so far you can go with AC/DC and Kinks covers.  Great for the bar scene, just not the real thing, if you get my drift.  Would I go to see The Flamethrowers?  In a heartbeat.  Those guys can play!  But my heart was in the Turtles.  I am sad.  Sad but hopeful.  Hopeful that Jud continues to create and that Logan Fontenot begins.  Logan has been writing, he told me not long ago.  He started writing seriously towards the Turtles’ end.  Which proves there is a future.  Just not as Research Turtles.

the-fire-tapes1Another real blow came less than a month ago.  Charlottesville’s The Fire Tapes, even before their album release party for their second album, Phantoms, announced an hiatus.  Hiatus, to me, is breakup.  At least, until the band proves it otherwise.  What a stunner!  A recent and successful East Coast tour.  A 45 released on the tiny WarHen Records label with full album to follow.  And they break up.  There is indeed a story behind this but I do not know nor do I care to know the details.  The fact of the matter is that the band is no more, whether it be for the present or forever.

firetapesphantomsWhat we are left with is, to my ears, a brilliant epitaph, if epitaph it turns out to be.  This is what I am in the mood for anytime— a step into psychedelia, a deep and dense psych.  Their first album, Dream Travel, did a plenty good job of it but I think Phantoms goes even further and in as good a way.  They placed alternate versions of the two sides of their single on the album— Skull Xbones and Elements— and I dig them.  They tossed in a long and somewhat involved nine-minute-plus song to kick off the album (Scarlet Cliffs) and five other beauties and then… hung it up.  For now.

I dunno.  After watching band after band beat their heads against the brick wall before hanging it up, I am not as hopeful as I once was.  Of course, there are bands which counterbalance the trend:  The Green Pajamas, who have been together since ’85 or ’86 and are still going strong (when they can find the time to get together to record or play the odd gig);  The Swimming Pool Q’s, who refuse to give up, playing at least once or twice a year when not going on short mini-tours for the fun of it;  and there is always Oami, who came together after a seven or eight year hiatus for a tour to be happening soon.

Come to think of it, I am quite thankful.  The Fire Tapes could just as easily have broken up before recording or even during, leaving us with scraps instead of the outstanding album which is Phantoms.  But I mourn when bands I love disband.  It’s just the way I am.

By the way, WarHen Records pressed only 100 of those puppies on vinyl.  I’m not sure if there are any left for sale, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.  You can listen to the album here.  If you like it, here is WarHen’s contact info:  You’re welcome.

For the Musically Adventurous!!!!!

It has just been brought to my attention that Jackpot Recording is offering a string of free downloads by bands and artists who recently played Portland, Oregon!  For a short time, you can download FOR FREE live tracks recorded by the likes of Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, The Alialujah Choir, Gary Ogan, Emily Wells, among others.  This doers not happen all that often, folks, and doesn’t happen often enough.  Follow this bouncing link and you might well be surprised at what you find!  Click here!!!!!

Diving For Gold:  Another Look at the Little Record With the Big Hole…..

Only these days, it is more the little record with the little hole.  For some reason, possibly having to do with pressing plants, the “spindle” holes in 45s are being replaced by LP-sized holes (not the size of LPs, Dipwad, but the size of holes they use on LPs), which is neither here nor there.  A lot of them are also spinning at 33 1/3 RPM, too (yet if they are 7-inchers, we still call them 45s).  I scratch my head and wonder why, but what difference does it make as long as the music is there?

the-who-substitute-reaction-2I remember the glory days of the 45.  I remember wanting them— all of them— and a little portable 45 player too.  The big guys had them and I liked the music at least as much as they did, so why not?  Little records + big hole = dream world for me.  It wasn’t until I went to college that I even knew they had 7-inchers with little holes, outside of the childrens records I had been given.  The first one I ever saw was a British copy of The Who‘s Substitute, which I had bought through a distributor I found in the classifieds of Billboard magazine.  It was a beauty, too, with a sky blue colored label and those little centerpieces included on the record, made so you could pop them out to play on a regular 45 spindle.  It was odd but boy was it pretty!  After that, I went nuts, spending as much as six to ten bucks to score two or three British 45s, one being Cream‘s Wrapping Paper, then #1 on the UK charts.  When it came in the mail, I slapped it on the turntable expecting to be blown away but got instead some lame trad jazz track with warbled vocals— not really rock at all.  Luckily I was saved by Side Two, a smokin’ version of Cat’s Squirrel.  Killer track, that.

I think I could only afford a relative few 45s back then.  And when US 45s were going for 69-79 cents a pop, it was a bit much.  Still, I treasured what I had.

richardyounglionsIt seemed every time I had a jingle in my pocket, I headed down to Thompson’s Record Mart in Eugene.  They had listening booths and what seemed like a ton of 45s and I went through them all.  I know I’ve mentioned in earlier columns that I scored a few Moby Grape 45s there, Sean & The BrandywinesShe Ain’t No Good, Richard & The Young LionsOpen Up Your Door, The Who‘s I Can See For Miles and numerous others.  I mean, it was an adventure!

That adventure became a journey when I continued on to find that some 45s had non-LP B-sides— that the world of promos was a world in itself, many of the tracks released in no other form.  I found a Black Sheep 45 titled Stick Around which had Foreigner’s Lou Gramm (then known as Grammatico) on lead vocals;  a 45 by a little known band out of Memphis known as Leviathan, whose one LP on Mach Records (then distributed by Hi Records) is going for big bucks— both tracks on the 45 non-LP, by the way;  a promo of Crowbar‘s Oh What a Feeling, stereo long version on one side, stereo short version on the other.  That’s is barely the beginning.

When punk and new wave hit the markets, I grabbed 45s by Richard Hell and The Zeros and Talking Heads and Pastiche and The Dead Boys, among a ton of others.  My collection grew and while it never became massive, it wasn’t small.  Many of my 45s became collector’s items worth beaucoups bucks.  I had no idea when I got them.  I just loved the music and the coolness of having it on 45.

bigstar1I ended up giving many of those records away, believing that when someone really wanted something more than did I, it was the right thing to do.  Big Star‘s September Gurls promo— gone.  Little Roger & The GoosebumpsStairway to Gilligan’s Island— gone.  Richard Hell Ork EP— gone.  ShoesTomorrow Night 45— gone.  I had a bunch of Pac NW 45s on the Jerden, Piccadilly, Crest, and Burdette labels— mostly gone.  I even had a very rare copy of a band who attended the University of Oregon while I was going there that I gave away— The CrittersIn Time b/w You Better Slow Down— which I gave to a friend and Pac NW record collector.  Most were received with tears in the eyes, they were that sought after.

For myself, the fun has always been in the searching, so giving them to people who really appreciated them was a no-brainer.  Sure, I liked most of the music, but the music was slowly becoming available on various 60s and 70s compilation albums.  I could replace the music.  I could never replace the fun I had finding those 45s, though.

45-rpm-records2Which makes me wonder why, in this day and age, more people aren’t out there looking for today’s music.  This is the Golden Age, my friends, more than even the 50s, 60s and 70s.  These are days of the indie, of 7-inchers, of EPs and of colored vinyl.  These are days of damn good music, too.  Put that all together and you have ready-made collector’s items made for the big scoop.  And I’m not saying go out to buy anything that’s rare.  I’m saying you should be making an adventure of it.  Find the bands!  Find the music!  Listen to what you buy, just treat them like vinyl gold, that’s all.

Had I been lucky enough to have had children who loved music as much as do I, I would be out there with them scouring the used record shops and the Net, looking to find the music worth finding.  I would help them build their own collections, if they wanted, and I would share the fun and excitement.  Fishing, hunting?  Child’s play.  Record collecting!  That’s the ticket!

Here’s the kicker.  If you do your research and if you pay attention, you can find amazing music on vinyl, 45 and otherwise.  The aforementioned WarHen Records have a number of 45s available in extremely limited pressings, the new Fire Tapes album (they won’t last tricyclerecordslong) and an album by Dwight Howard JohnsonBomp Records has some mind-boggling LPs for sale, some on colored vinyl (even the same titles of some on different colored vinyl).  They have a number of 45s and EPs too.  There are labels all over the place with deals I can’t believe.  Tricycle RecordsSmall Stone RecordsAlive Records.  It makes me wish I was young again.

Where would I start?  With The Fire TapesPhantom vinyl LP and their WarHen 45— Skull Xbones.  And I would go from there.  At this point, there seems to be no real limit.  And the vast majority of titles are in such limited quantities, it’s downright freaky.

But I shouldn’t be beating you up over this.  You will do what you will do.  Know what, though?  If you have a friend who loves psych, that Skull Xbones 45 would be a natural for Christmas.  Just sayin’.

Music Notes smallNotes…..  Back in the eighties, I worked across the street from the legendary Rainbow Tavern, which had not only local and regional but national acts.  One of the acts I “saw” there was Red Dress, which had an underground “hit” with Money Dreams b/w I Like To Eat My Mouses Raw.  I stood in the rain one evening, watching Red Dress and especially head dress Gary Minkler wow the crowd with a theatrical version of Mouses that placed them very high in my estimation.  It rocked!  Well, Minkler is back with a band called The Gary Minkler Combination and I’m happy to report that he hasn’t lost it.  Here is a live track from a recent show.  Wish I’d have been there.


Frank’s column appears every Tuesday

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DBAWIS ButtonFrank Gutch Jr. looks like Cary Grant, writes like Hemingway and smells like Pepe Le Pew. He has been thrown out of more hotels than Keith Moon, is only slightly less pompous than Garth Brooks and at one time got laid at least once a year (one year in a row). He has written for various publications, all of which have threatened to sue if mentioned in any of his columns, and takes pride in the fact that he has never been quoted. Read at your own peril.”

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