Gene Loves Jezebel – Desire (Discover 1986)
This is the band of British Twin brothers Jay and Michael Aston. If you look them up, you’ll see that they look the same, sound the same, and sing the same way. They started in black and white but evolved into a very colorful band in the mid-’80s and MTV era. I’m saying colorful because they looked like a Glamrock band and brought something to the black and white goth scene of that time. For instance: They had the goth-like spider hair, but then in pink. Do you know what that spidery goth hairstyle is called? A tarantula top
The brothers Aston grew up in South Wales and spent much of their time fighting with the local rugby boys. “You had two options,” says Jay. “You either got beat up, or you fought back.” The Astons fought back. “Just because someones skinny doesn’t mean they can’t handle themselves.”
Music provided an escape: punk and post-punk. But also Bowie and Led Zeppelin were a significant influence. They were quite successful in their careers, even in the USA (they toured with The Velvet Underground, for instance). But eventually, after around ten years of making albums and especially performing a lot, the brothers were grabbing each other by the throat and separated. Both wanted to do more lead singing and have a more dominant hand in the songwriting. Since their split in 87, there are two incarnations of Gene loves Jezebel because neither one wanted to give up the name.
Bellatrix – Lost Project
After Metakross last week, we have yet another Russian act for you. This is Lost Project. They play a mix of synth-wave, darkwave, and industrial with a definite and deliberate retro feel. We play the instrumental track Bellatrix.
I love how it sounds like a video game for a bit before it takes off. I can imagine flying through deep space to this soundtrack.
Lost Project seems to be a solo project; I went to their VKontakte page, Facebook’s Russsian equivalent.
Even if you don’t speak Russian, go check out the page. Lost Project has regularly posted free tracks on there to download, some great ones among them.
I did hit the translate servers and what I found out is that Lost Project started in 2016 with two six-track new retro wave EP’s that are pretty good, and they have published new music regularly ever since.
On Spotify, the act is tiny, with only 127 monthly listeners and only one album published, the excellent Cyberdream:
To me, Lost Project sounds like the grandson of Jan Hammer.
The Teardrop Explodes – Poppies in the field (Kilmanjaro 1980)
The singing in this track reminds me of Sting, and I hate Sting. I don’t know why; I think it’s because of too much politics in his songs and his voice. Anyway, I love this song.
The Teardrop Explodes is a band from Liverpool founded by Julian Cope. He became involved in Liverpool’s emerging post-punk scene at an early stage. His first band was ‘Crucial Three,’ with two native Liverpudlians – Ian McCulloch (later of Echo & the Bunnymen) and Pete Wylie (who went on to form Wah!).
The band was soon signed by the indie label that was Zoo records. Fun fact is that Bill Drummond of the KLF was one of the owners. And another act on the label was Echo and the Bunnymen, so they just could not escape each other. The love/hate relationship and rivalry kept ongoing. Echo far surpasses The Teardrops, in my opinion, because they had much more success and much more continuous quality in their albums, at least in the ’80s.
Overall The Teardrops sound a bit poppy at first glance but have the right kind of emotion that develops slowly in their songs. I like that combination. Their best work is the first album from 1980: Kilimanjaro.
Anyways: Long story short: Julian Cope kept fighting with his band members throughout his career and sounds like a bit of an asshole if you ask me.
But you can’t deny the talent of him and the band. They were on Top of the Pops four times, And Julian was playing a different instrument each time. He was so wasted on acid the first time, and there was blood on the trumpet because he was banging it into his face too hard. I assume drugs are a recurring theme with Julian because of the lyrics and title of the song we’re going to play right now: Poppies in the field. Where poppies are, of course, the basis to make opium or Heroin, here we go.
Disarm – Smashing Pumpkins
The following song is our Infected Classic, Disarm by Smashing Pumpkins. I want to play this song today and dedicate it to my father.
It is quite an emotional song, but Billy Corgan, the lead singer, and songwriter has never been afraid to show emotions in his work.
When abuse is seen as a necessary, logical part of parenting, father abuses son, and in turn, that son abuses his son, so it is passed on and on. Hate gets passed to the next generation like a sickness. The only way to disarm it is with a smile. When you answer hate with love, the killer in you will kill no more. Ultimately, it’s about taking power away from the abuser. They want you to hurt; they want control over you. Smiling into the face of the abuser “disarms” them. It takes away the power of fear, their power over you.
My father lived through this at home as a kid, and he was able to break the cycle. I have been raised without violence because he was able to disarm the pattern. I am equal parts impressed with and thankful for that.
Corgan: “I wrote Disarm because I didn’t have the guts to kill my parents, so I thought I’d get back at them through a song. Rather than have an angry, violent song, I’d thought I’d write something beautiful. To make them feel really bad for treating me like shit and to make them realize what tender feelings I have in my heart.”
The original video is in black and white, Billy and the band hovering over his lost childhood, really beautiful. By the way, there is an old man in the video. The band wasn’t too happy with that; still, the director insisted he should be in there. So, guitarist James Iha eventually convinced his old English gardener to play the part. The gardener was reluctant because he wasn’t too keen on the bands’ music. In the end, they convinced him by saying that he had to start at the bottom and would need to work his way up to being in videos of bands he thought were “more worthwhile.”
Trouble – Mother’s Gone
What do the Smashing Pumpkins and Trouble have in common?
They were both featured in David Lynch’s movies or series. Lost Highway (song: Eye) vs. Twin Peaks S3
This band only recorded two tracks. And they were written specifically for the highly anticipated return of David Lynch’s cult television classic Twin Peaks season 3. The 7-inch single ‘Snake Eyes’ takes you back to when dark and slow jazz was the standard soundtrack to Film Noir. The instrumental trio Trouble includes David Lynch’s son Riley Lynch on guitar, longtime music supervisor for Lynch, Dean Hurley on drums, and Alex Zhang on tenor saxophone. The B-side to the single consists of the bonus ‘Mother’s Gone,’ and that’s the one we just played/going to play. It’s a menacing track that’s a lot more downtempo and even moodier than the A-side. You will probably never hear any more or new music from Trouble. But these two tracks will always have their place in a parallel cinematic universe, grinding out late night Roadhouse gigs in the fictitious town of Twin Peaks, Washington. Because, if you’ve seen Twin Peaks, you know that the soundtrack and music is an integral part of the whole mystery and experience. Also, Trouble only exists in the realm of Twin Peaks and not outside of it.
Riley Lynch has been playing metal mostly and asked his father that if he and some friends would make a song worthy of the show, his dad could put in. The answer was yes, but if the music sucked, they would not get a second chance.
Twenty-six years after the show was abruptly canceled in 1991 after only two seasons, the highly anticipated series of Twin Peaks was released onto the world in 2015. Of course, I have it on trusty DVD for only ten bucks through Amazon. I highly recommend watching the show if you haven’t already. Season 2 and especially three spiral out of control quickly. And with control, I mean anything that feels like a regular and understandable narrative. It is more like a work of art that you should immerse yourself in and let go of your desire to understand it. In season 3, every episode ends in The Roadhouse, with a band that closes off the episode. Alongside Trouble, you will also see The Chromatics, Nine Inch Nails, and Eddie Vedder.
Johnny Cash – Hurt
In our new section, “Cover Me!” we’re about to play “Hurt” for you. Originally a song by Nine Inch Nails, from the album The Downward Spiral. The song was released in March 1994. It was written and produced by Trent Reznor. But we’re not playing Nine Inch Nails this time.
What you’re about to hear is the version by American singer Johnny Cash. Signed to the legendary Sun Records in the mid-1950s, he forged a hugely successful career as a country singer with hits like I Walk The Line, Folsom Prison Blues, Ring Of Fire, and A Boy Named Sue. All his life, Johnny Cash also struggled with severe addiction problems. Alcohol, speed, pills…
In fact, you may have heard the story about Cash trying to smuggle over six hundred amphetamine tablets and almost five hundred tranquilizer pills across the Mexican border. He tried unsuccessfully to bribe a cop to get him out of Trouble for being caught. Johnny instead spent the night in jail and had to listen to a lecture on wasted talent. His record company finally dropped Cash in 1991.
Ten years later, legendary producer Rick Rubin – at the time best known for his work with Beastie Boys, Slayer, and Run DMC – sat Cash down in his living room and recorded the country legend performing songs with just an acoustic guitar. They had several sessions, and Rubin tried to get Cash to record the song Hurt, but the veteran musician couldn’t hear beyond the original’s industrial noise. “I think it was hard for him to hear it,” Rubin told Rolling Stone. “So I sent him the lyrics. I said, ‘just read the lyrics. If you like the lyrics, then we’ll find a way to do it that will suit you’.”
Finally, Cash performed Hurt in 2002. He agreed to record it at Rick Rubin’s home in LA. By that time, his health was failing. “There were times when his voice sounded broken,” said Rubin. “He tried to turn that into a positive in the selection of the music. It was a real struggle for him.”. It was his last hit song before his death.
The accompanying music video was awarded a Grammy Award. It is very powerful, Cash singing at home in the closed and abandoned “House of Cash” museum. Playing the piano, he’s surrounded by memories from his glory days as a performer that sit there, collecting dust.
Trent Reznor was in pieces when he saw the video. “It really made me think about how powerful music is. I wrote some words and music in my bedroom as a way of staying sane, about a bleak and desperate place I was in. Somehow that winds up reinterpreted by a music legend from a radically different era and still retains sincerity and meaning – different, but every bit as pure.”
The way Johnny Cash closes the lid on his piano and strokes the wood at the end of the song and the video is symbolic, a final goodbye. He died a half year later. The song’s album achieved Gold status in the US, the first time in more than thirty years for Johnny Cash.