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Friday, April 9, 2010

22. "Alive Again" by Live Skull

If asked to cite one truly great band who's almost completely forgotten, I might well point to Live Skull. Thanks to a rave in Spin, I picked up Live Skull's
Dusted at a tender age, having only read about Sonic Youth and the like, and still harboring suspicions that this whole "punk rock" thing might just be an attention-grabbing put-on. I've still never heard anything quite like it, although at this point I can make connections with all kinds of influences; it still hovers around my personal top 10 records when such things are called for. Thalia Zedek's subsequent band Come got a little more notice and sound positively prescient post-Yeah Yeah Yeahs, but I still prefer the textural guitar tangle of Live Skull.

This song is one of the bonus tracks on the out-of-print CD... it still isn't "on" the album as my mind hears it, because I listened to the thing on cassette so many millions of times. And it's not the greatest showcase of the band, sounding a little more like Patti Smith-meets-Shriekback (NTTAWWT) than the usual controlled sludge-feast. That was a relief for me, because the guitar parts on most LS songs would be damned hard to master in 24 hours, if ever. And to entertain myself alone, I recite my best approximation of Zedek's poetry from the original track stereo left, and something I wrote myself stereo right. Because like the judge said, it's all about me.

Rex Broome ~ everything except:
Eden Hain ~ viola



This isn't the kind of thing most people would want to listen to more than once, if they're even able to get all the way through it... after all, the original is only a bonus track on a difficult art-guitar record nobody's ever heard, and my cover is very true to the atonal, sensory-overload spirit of the thing. But I like the way I got my two overdubbed guitars to seem to "interact" with each other, and the stereo poems are just like on the original. Except that stereo right track, which is the poem that I wrote for the recording, and it's not too bad... which is a good thing, because Thalia Zedek's poem on the left channel is way better than most poems intoned over arty rock music.

My enjoyment of it is a little bit dulled by the fact that I'd go on to do too many other things like it on 39-40... confusing overlapping vocals, slashy noodling guitars, no real focus. But it was a legitimate treatment of this particular piece, I think.


Surprisingly my original poem seems to be devoid of clever references to anything.

However, interjected into Zedek's poem is the question "Does the home secretary have the barest faintest inkling of what's going down?" or some misquote thereof; it's line from The Fall's "Telephone Thing".

"The cat's going nuts" at the end is a description of what was happening in the room as I finished recording the vocal.

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