Dead Kennedys – Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables

Tomorrow I’m going to the Jello Biafra & the Guantanamo School of Medicine gig at the Melkweg in Amsterdam. I’ve never seen him live before, so I’m looking forward to it and I’m very curious. As you probably all know Jello Biafra was the singer of American punkband The Dead Kennedys and therefore the album of the week is ‘Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables’ by that band.

The album was released in late 1980, which means I was 2 years old at the time of release. Difficult to believe really, as I do think that the album still sounds great today. Some of the (mainly political) lyrics might be a bit outdated, others could’ve been written nowadays, considering the state the world is in at the moment. Anyway, so I was too young to catch the album around the time it was released, but I do still remember how I became aware of ‘Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables’.

As my parents lived quite close to the German border when I was growing up, we used to go shopping in Cologne, as it was much cheaper. The great thing about Cologne was that there was a Saturn, a massive electronics shop with a record department that looked like a library. So me and my older sister would save up ahead of one of those trips, so we could buy cd’s/vinyl at great prices.

During one of these trips my sister picked up a vinyl copy of ‘Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables’ and we both loved that record! The venom in the lyrics, the meaning of the lyrics (as far as I could understand them at 15 years old or so) and obviously Biafra’s voice and the aggressive riffs, it was the perfect record for a 15-year-old.

The record has too many great songs to really pick any one of them, so just have a listen for yourself (if you haven’t already).

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Slayer, chicken nuggets and rare vinyl

During my study in journalism, I ended up at Dutch music magazine LiveXS for an internship. I really enjoyed it and luckily I could stay on after my internship had ended. It took me a little while longer to complete my thesis because of that, but who’s complaining…

One of the interviews I did during my period with LiveXS was with Slayer. Their album ‘God Hates Us All’ was about to be released (so it must have been in 2001) and they had a press day at the Americain Hotel in Amsterdam. I was due to interview them somewhere in the afternoon.

Promo copy of Slayer's 'God Hates Us All' that I dug up from my collection.

The reason I can remember it was somewhere in the afternoon, was because when I arrived, the biggest box of McDonalds chicken nuggets I’ve ever seen was sitting on the table in between them. As I tend to do regularly when I’m a bit nervous or when I want to break the ice a bit, I made a really stupid joke (well, I don’t intend the jokes to be stupid, but they usually come out that way…). It went something along the lines of ‘Ha, I see you’re enjoying the typical Dutch cuisine while visiting Amsterdam!’ They actually thought that was pretty funny and so immediately the atmosphere was relaxed and cool and the interview could start, while we were all muching away on chicken nuggets.

Now my sisters husband (then her boyfriend) is a big Slayer fan, so he asked me if I could get them to sign a record. I usually didn’t do that when interviewing somebody (still regret not getting Joe Strummer of the Clash to sign anything!), but I decided to see how the interview would go and if we got along well, why not?

We did get on very well and at the end I got the record out, explained to them about my brother and asked them to sign it. The record was a picture disc and an official release. Can’t remember which album/song it was, I’d have to ask my sister/brother in law about that… But when they saw the record, the guys from Slayer first went quiet. A bit of a weird response, right? They asked me where I got that record. ‘Some record fair, I think’, was my reply. After that, to my surprise, they took a picture of the record. When they saw my puzzled look, they explained to my why. Turned out that the guys from Slayer had never seen that particular record before and they didn’t even know it existed. They took a photo of it to make sure that the record company could send them some copies, because they thought it was awesome. It is a bit of a weird experience to show a band an official release that they’ve never seen before though!

I’ll try and annoy my brother in law to get a photo of the record, so I can post it here!

21st Century Digital Girl

YouTube, Spotify, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter… They have all made our life just a little bit easier. Or not?

When it comes to music, I think they have. But they’ve also taken away some of the excitement of discovering new music, getting bootlegs from your favourite artists or seeing the video for a new single for the first time. Let alone the joy of going to recordshops (even though I still experience that, but a lot of younger people probably don’t even know what a recordshop is these days…). Yes, I am one of those people who vividly remembers the time before the internet…

When MTV still played music and you taped (yes, on videotapes!) programmes like 120 Minutes (‘alternative’ music) and Headbangers Ball (rock and metal) on Sunday nights. Religiously. And when I was in my early teens, the village where I lived didn’t have MTV, so I would cycle to my grandmother, 7 kilometres away, to watch it there.

But what I remember also is eagerly waiting for the postman to get to my house. To deliver an envelope to your door from Italy or the UK or whatever place in Europe with cassette tapes (yes, really!) or a video tape with bootlegs on it. Or rare recordings. And you had a tradinglist that you sent to people by mail (you know, in an envelope, not by e-mail) so they could see what you already had and choose one in return that they didn’t have yet.

And discovering new bands was a bit more complicated than it was now. You actually had to read music magazines, watch MTV or… god forbid… talk to people about music! In a way I do miss that era a bit. Or am I just getting old?

 

Greg Cartwright, garagerock genius

The Oblivians, The Compulsive Gamblers, Reigning Sound… Three brilliant bands and they’ve all got something in common: Greg Cartwright.

He’s played in or contributed to several other bands, but the three bands above stand out for me. If you want to know more about this genius from Memphis you can check out the Wikipedia page about him, I’m just gonna let the music do the talking.

Beeb Beeb, Beeb Beeb, Yeah!

I would like to write about my love for the grand institution that is the BBC. From what I gather, a lot of UK residents have a love hate relationship with their national broadcasting company, but I love it! I’ve got five BBC channels in my digital channel packet (BBC1, BBC2, BBC3, BBC4 and BBC World) and they’re probably the channels that I watch the most. Not just for the comedy series, the news and the documentaries, but mostly for their music programming.

The music documentaires, gigs and old Top of the Pops footage on Friday and Saturday nights on BBC 4 have my dvd recorder working overtime on the weekend. They’re informative, well researched and full of new footage. And most of all: they’re diverse. From Motörhead to documentaries about British folk music, from a night about The Kinks to a look at different record labels. Add to that the broadcasts from festivals, programmes with old footage of Top of the Pops and Later… With Jools Holland (granted, that’s shown on BBC2, but still) and it’s pure enjoyment for music lovers. I’m most certainly quite happy to shell out an extra € 10 a month for the privilege of watching all of this.

And let’s not forget their unbelievable contribution to music through the various BBC sessions recorded by a variety of artists for BBC radio. From The Beatles to Belle and Sebastian and from Jimi Hendrix and The Who to The Pixies and Tindersticks, they were all happy to come into the studios and play for ‘the Beeb’. Just look at the list of artists who have released an album based on their BBC sessions.

Based on all of this, I dare to say that the BBC have contributed and are still contributing an awful lot to popular music. If only I could spend a day in their archives… 😉

 

Album of the week

Every week I want to write about an album of the week. A record that I love and that means something to me. Could be a well known album, but can also be a more underground artist. We’ll see.

The first album I want to discuss is an album that’s been out of a while, but I’ve only recently purchased on vinyl. I’ve got it on cd for nearly 20 years now, but this is one of those records that I just needed to have on vinyl. I’m talking about ‘Sweet Oblivian’ by Screaming Trees.

It’s one of the few albums that I’ve played on a regular basis for such a long period of time. It’s dark, it’s gloomy and it’s brilliant. I’ve always loved singer Mark Lanegan’s voice, even in the other projects he has been involved in since Screaming Trees (Queens of the Stone Age, The Gutter Twins, Soulsavers, to name but a few), but to me nothing has ever come close to this album.

Screaming Trees first formed in 1985, but became well known to the public during the ‘grunge’ era of 1991/1992. I think that in the whole wave of bands like Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Alice in Chains etc, Screaming Trees were slightly underrated. And so was (is?) this album. It was their sixth album already, but by far the best if you ask me. From hit single ‘Nearly Lost You’ to songs like ‘Dollar Bill’ and ‘Troubled Times’, to me there isn’t a bad song on the album.

I was fourteen years old when ‘Sweet Oblivion’ was released. A gloomy teenager in a small village, this album suited my mood perfectly. I remember that one of the venues I used to go to for gigs, Noorderligt in Tilburg, had booked Alice in Chains with Screaming Trees as support. I wanted to go. So did half of the country I guess, because the gig was sold out in minutes (as far as I can remember). Unfortunately I never got to see Screaming Trees live. I did see Mark Lanegan on several occasions, but how I would love to hear him sing a song like ‘Shadow of the Season’ live…

 

Welcome, I guess…

I had a blog once. Years ago, before Facebook and before Twitter. I updated it religously for about 3 years, but for some reason I stopped. The blog doesn’t exist anymore, but I would love to read back what I wrote about back then.

My aim with this blog is to talk and write about music mostly. There will probably be some other topics that I’ll discuss, but it will mostly be about the beautiful art of rock ‘n roll. I contemplated going back to music journalism for a while, as a volunteer next to my ‘normal’ job, but I figured a blog would be nicer. At least here I don’t have an editor chasing me because a deadline is looming. Or being forced to write about artists that I don’t really care much about. Anyway, guess what I really want to say is: welcome to my blog and I hope you’ll enjoy it.