Monday, May 7, 2012
Grudge on Mighty Mouth Music
It's weird when all of these seemingly random things you've been thinking about happen to come together. I think this one actually started when I found out that Word bookstore in my neighborhood was hosting a music book club with Daphne Carr and Tobias Carroll, the first book being "Hot Stuff, Disco and the Remaking of American Culture" by Alice Echols. This was the last era of music I would ever choose to read about but knowing the editor of The Best Music Writing series wouldn't steer me wrong I gave it a chance. It was a little challenging getting through the playlist in the appendix, or maybe just plain embarrassing on the train, but I'm starting to come around to thinking there might just be some positive things to come out of this seemingly commercial, easy to hate target.
For one, the politics of the disco scene...it was the only place for lots of previously marginalized groups to have a cultural voice...hell, to have a place to just get together. I also like the idea of these audiophile extremists coming up with a perfect listening environment, with massive sound systems for listening parties that evolved into the later clubs. To think you would go over to this empty loft and just hang out with other people and listen to an album sounds like I might be into that today...and not because it's being hosted by a record label, thanks.
It's also good to step out of the music you listen to everyday and think about why people like Skrillex or whatever contemporary form of disco is going on these days. Does Disco still suck? That's too easy.
So what does all this have to do with this single from Might Mouth Music? This single by the band "Grudge" was the early creation of Canadian disco star Laurice. From this interview Dean at MM did, he had a pretty insane career and this bizarre single was probably the first thing released on vinyl from the still producing pioneer, and leave it to this punk reissue offshoot label to rerelease this piece of work from 1973.
"When Christine Comes Around" sets the tone for this borderline gag single with some gorilla sounding hooting right off, leading into a real deep groove with an alternating slightly bluesy bassline. The guitar, the parts that make it past this almost funk foundation are covered in gutsy distortion....I could hear this being a real precursor to the Hunx sound, and they should absolutely be covering this in homage to the sound as much as the gender politics. But then again they might want to steer clear after the "I'm gonna smash her face in" lyric What!!!? Is Laurice just playing a complete lunatic? He's delivering this vocal in a kind of effemenate mocking tone while he's slowly getting more and more demented: "No one can hear her screaming..."
I don't know who would have even bankrolled this thing back in '73, and definitely not these days. There's a sort of honkeytonk Jerry Lee piano roll added to complete the extra layer of creep, along with this '50s "uh huh ha" chorus and surf style Chuck Barry hollow body guitar. He's really fighting that Madmen nightmare of normal culture in the early '70s that must have driven Laurice completely crazy...really this thing belongs in the Rocky Horror picture show, all bubblegum pop with a real twisted mean streak. Almost parodying the entire genre before it's born.
But the A-Side was just getting started, he might go even further with "I'm gonna smash your face in" which aside from being self explanatory (and definitely a single that you would pick up without a sleeve sight unseen) could even be a kids classic album with an early Ramones slant, but still heavily '50s pop, or would this be considered early Weird Al? It's that far out there...but there's always someone that has to be out there working in the opposite of popular culture...it's still shocking to hear this sweet mean pop and from this time period. Dick Clark would have never played this single, which counts for a lot
"...behind this dungeon wall" ? That's a lyric. "Its time for you to pay the price for calling me a queer". That's another one.
There's also a baritone elvis impersonator voice that echo's from beyond the grave combining the Smashing face lyric with lonesome tonight? Impressive. "Begging me for bread and water". Another lyric delivered in creepy enunciated, proper english style. Employing a friend even to record some frightening cries from the female character he's going on about. Super extended long mix of this one with verse after verse. I get the feeling he was pretty serious about practicing what he preached.
Pick this one up from Mighty Mouth Music, leaving no stone unturned. They also have a full length LP of Laurice hits...which were obviously numerous. The first Volume of many.
This Saturday's book club is "But Beautiful: A Book About Jazz" By Geoff Dyer. I don't know anything about Jazz either and this ended up being abstract fictional essays about the greats, now I have to go listen to that Spotify channel that Dan Hewins made.