Posts Tagged ‘Buzzcocks’

Pete Shelley in London, Britain - Oct 1977VARIOUS

Pete Shelley, the lead singer of the English punk rock band Buzzcocks, has died, as BBC reports via the band’s management. Shelley reportedly died at age 63 of a suspected heart attack in Estonia, where he was living at the time. On 6th December 2018, Buzzcocks singer and songwriter Pete Shelley died at the age of 63.

The Buzzcocks were formed in Bolton, England, by singer/songwriter/guitarist Shelley and singer/songwriter Howard Devoto, after the two met at the Bolton Institute of Technology (now known as the University of Bolton) and traveled to London to see a Sex Pistols gig. Buzzcocks then debuted in 1976 and opened for the Sex Pistols in Manchester.

Buzzcocks released their first EP Spiral Scratch in 1977, and went on to record nine studio albums. Devoto then left Buzzcocks in 1977, and Shelley became the frontman. Their most recent album, The Way, was released in 2014. The band is known for hits such as “Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve)?” and “Why Can’t I Touch It?”

A re-issue of the Buzzcocks’ first two albums, Another Music In A Different Kitchen and Love Bites, is due for release on January. 25th, 2019.

The band’s Twitter account posted the following statement:

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For their 40th Anniversary, we’ll re-issue our first two albums, Another Music In A Different Kitchen & Love Bites, viaDomino Recording Company on January 25th, 2019.Both Lovingly re-mastered, with newly curated booklets featuring a Jon Savage penned essay & unseen images.

Like many bands first albums, “Another Music In A Different Kitchen” collected material written by the group – in particular Pete Shelley and Steve Diggle – that had been amassed during the previous years, going back to 1974 and 1975. According to Tony McGartland in his Buzzcocks: The Complete History, the songs were sequenced in the order that they were written. The play through seems to bear this out: the album begins in fast protest punk and ends in the seven minute, definitely non punk length Krautrock of ‘Moving Away From The Pulsebeat.’

Most of Shelley’s songs on the first side concern the vicissitudes of romance, but the opener Fast Cars name drops US campaigner Ralph Nader in an ecological diatribe: “They’re so depressing going ’round and ’round/Ooh, they make me dizzy, oh fast cars they run me down.” ‘No Reply’, ‘You Tear Me Up’, ‘Get On Our Own’ and ‘Love Battery’ are sharp, short (all under two and a half minutes), speedy disquisitions on the tortures of interpersonal communication, love and lust played with a perfect balance between pace, abrasion and melody.

Side closer ‘Sixteen’ is something else. It’s longer and contains an avant-garde breakdown around two minutes in, recorded with each group member isolated and unable to hear each other. “It started off as a false ending,” Shelley told me in 1977: “All sloppy, and then it carries on longer so that people are thinking, “Oh I’ve just clapped but they’re not thinking — what’s up?” and then it comes back in again.” It was, as John Maher added, “A remnant of our chaos days.”

Would Shelley like to be sixteen again? “In some ways yes, in some ways no. The words go: “And I wish I was sixteen again/Then things would be such fun/All the things I’d do would be the same/But they’re much more fun/ Than when you’re twenty one.” Things like going for a drink — now the novelty’s worn off but the enjoyment’s still there. There’s no difference between doing something when you’re 16 and 22, except there is a difference if you’re doing it for the first time.”

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about the song is its rapid fire, venomous ending:
“And I hate modern music/Disco boogie and pop/They go on and on and on and on and on/HOW I WISH THEY WOULD STOP!” Never has a truer sentence been written about the true impetus behind Punk: not just boredom with progressive rock or dinosaur sixties acts but an intense disgust with mainstream pop music, which in 1976, the year of number one singles by Elton and Kiki, Abba, the Brotherhood of Man, Adge Cutler & the Wurzels, seemed not to have anything to do with teenage life and certainly nothing to do with excitement or the true teenage news.

The five songs on side two reflected the group moving away from simple love tropes into something more complex: as Shelley sang on ‘I Don’t Mind’, “Reality’s a dream.” Unlike the increasing militarism and violent posturing of the Clash, Buzzcocks aimed to explore male sensitivity and frailty (‘This pathetic clown’) – which in pop terms was still new, exactly what punk had set out to be. They began to use love songs as a conduit through which they could talk about other things: the nature of human relationships in a capitalistic society, the nature of reality itself.

Onstage Buzzcocks did not present as macho. Sometimes they’d try a group uniform, like the Mondrian shirts of early 1977, but mostly they just dressed as themselves: Diggle and Maher in various permutations of Mod wear, Paddy Garvey in leather jacket and skinny tie, and Shelley in a bewildering variety of styles. “It’s no good me wearing anything like that (bondage pants),” Shelley told me; “I’m just not the fashionable shape.” “You put those clothes on and you become a different character,” Diggle added: “I don’t feel myself, I feel like somebody else.”

‘Fiction Romance’ continues the themes of ‘I Don’t Mind’: male frailty, the commodification of emotions, the difference between reality and fantasy. Steve Diggle’s powerful ‘Autonomy’ spells out the true theme behind Punk: self determination. “It’s a discussion between two sides of your personality,” he told me; “It’s about discipline in yourself, like when you say you’d like to do something and you haven’t got control, you’re not autonomous. Like giving up smoking, which I’m trying to do now and it’s very difficult. I haven’t got control of myself.”

Shelley’s pell-mell ‘I Need’ tackles the capitalist perplex head on: “I used to only want but now I need/To get by with what I got but now I need.” After a fine bass led instrumental break, Shelley lays it out again: “I need sex/I need love/I need drink/I need drugs/I need food/I need cash/I need you to love me back.” ‘Moving Away From The Pulsebeat’ continues the breakneck pace: lasting at least three times the standard punk rock single, it features some stinging psychedelic solos and some rapid fire classic break beats from John Maher.

There’s a pause, then the riff of ‘Boredom’ returns: back to the beginning. Another Music in a Different Kitchen is a perfect circle: thirty five and a half minutes of tuneful, exciting and thoughtful music that stretched the boundaries of guitar pop music at the same time as it delivered on the group’s promise. It was a critical and a commercial success, reaching the UK album top twenty in March 1978 and staying there for nearly three months. But Buzzcocks had no time to rest on their laurels.

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Behind the chocolate box cover, Love Bites is an album of paradoxes if not clashing opposites: real/imaginary, past/future, love/lust, connection/alienation, commerciality/experimentation. It’s to the group’s credit that they walk the high wire with ease: the attack is less punk, more measured and on occasion psychedelic, as befits the perceptual and philosophical nature of Shelley’s lyrics. The glossy pop star photo on the sleeve is matched by stranger photo realist portraits on the inner, by Robin Utracik of the Worst: Shelley in particular looks dishevelled, having just vomited when the source photo was taken.

Love Bites hit its moment. The reviews were good, and so were sales: it reached number 13 in the album charts, Buzzcocks’ best showing. They immediately went out on their fourth tour, Beating Hearts – supported by Subway Sect – which was marked in this year of Sham 69 by skinhead violence and stage invasions, definitely not what Buzzcocks were about. The fifth single of that year had already been recorded: ‘Promises’ and ‘Lipstick’, the latter of which used the same riff as Magazine’s debut ‘Shot by Both Sides’. Buzzcocks had reached their commercial peak, but Pete Shelley was deeply troubled.

Late 1978 was a harsh place, with competing styles and fads and the relentless pressure of rapid fire novelty that punk had set up. The pace was killing and on top of that the impetus of 1976 punk had faded. Shelley also felt that the original sense of community had gone: “Once we were in the music industry, people had become more diversified, there was nothing really to pull people together again.” More importantly, the constant touring was driving him mad: “It was a bit unnerving. When we did the Love Bites tour I was convinced by Richard not to leave the band. It was all getting too much for me.”

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Manchester outfit Buzzcocks’ innovation in punk was making the personal political. They didn’t go for grand statements like the Clash or the Sex Pistols would, they didn’t brand themselves experimentalists a la Wire. Yet there was something profound in the art of Buzzcocks writing high-energy songs about relationships and anxieties, Pete Shelley’s emotive yelp giving the songs their sneer and their heart. Shelley and guitarist Steve Diggle’s twin buzzsaw guitar attack was bright and the rhythm section of Steve Garvey and John Maher were what gave the songs propulsion. Singles Going Steady has all the trappings of a greatest hit compilation, mind boggling when you consider everything on the album was written, recorded and released during a span of two years. Unfortunately, Singles’ slight revisioning of Buzzcocks as a premiere singles act pushes some of their experimental tendencies to the wayside but that’s a small complaint when you’ve got some of the best pop songs including the eternally incandescent “Ever Fallen in Love?” in your arsenal.

Spectres

Spectres release their second album Condition via Sonic Cathedral. The follow-up to their acclaimed 2015 debut, Dying, it was recorded by Dominic Mitchison in the band’s adopted home city of Bristol and mastered by Frank Arkwright (Mogwai, 65daysofstatic) at Abbey Road in London. It’s louder and more abrasive than their debut, but also a real progression. It sounds huge and adds a genuinely innovative and confrontational edge, partly inspired by last year’s remix album, Dead, which saw everyone from Factory Floor to Richard Fearless instructed to “kill” the songs from Dying. “There were discussions about experimenting with electronics, but the idea soon petered out when we realised we still wanted to experiment with guitars,” reveals singer and guitarist Joe Hatt. As a result tracks such as End Waltz have a relentlessly pounding, almost techno structure, in contrast to the kinetosis-inducing dirge of Dissolve – the first single from the album that came with a suitably stomach-churning video late last year. Elsewhere the almost restrained (by Spectres’ standards) white noise and wordplay of A Fish Called Wanda and the sprawling Colour Me Out are counterbalanced by brutal assaults such as Neck and Welcoming The Flowers, which keeps threatening to drown itself in its own roiling diamond sea.

LP – Limited-edition Black vinyl LP in a Gatefold sleeve, featuring lyrics and artwork by Laurie Lax and photography by Stephanie Third.

LP+ – Limited-edition Cream vinyl LP in a Gatefold sleeve, featuring lyrics and artwork by Laurie Lax and photography by Stephanie Third.

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Semper Femina is Laura Marling’s sixth album – an intimate, devoted exploration of femininity and female relationships, and among her finest work to date. Written largely on the tour that followed 2015’s Short Movie and recorded in Los Angeles with production from Blake Mills, it is at once a distinctive and musically compelling collection of songs, run through with Marling’s fierce intelligence; a keen, beautiful and unparalleled take on womanhood.

2LP+ – Limited Deluxe 2LP Edition including Bonus Material Live tracks and digital download card.

2LP – Standard Version with Download.

Buzzcocks timesup

‘It’s the Buzz, Cock’. Howard Devoto read this headline from a January 1976 Time Out review of ‘Rock Follies’, the 1970s TV musical drama following the ups and downs of the fictional female rock group, ‘Little Ladies’. Adapting and appropriating it as the name for his new band that he had just formed with Pete Shelley having realised what a Sex Pistol was before anyone else. Buzzcocks formed having witnessed firsthand the white-heat of the early Sex Pistols. Howard and Pete went about organising the now infamous 1976 Lesser Free Trade Hall gigs that brought punk to the provinces and galvanized the new Manchester music revolution. The plan was to simply play support to the Pistols and then see what happened next…Featuring the original line-up of Howard Devoto (vocals and songwriter), Pete Shelley (guitar and songwriter), Steve Diggle (bass guitar) and John Maher (drums), Time’s Up was recorded at Revolution Studios, Bramhall Lane Stockport on the 18th of October 1976. The session, recording Buzzcocks’ live set at the time, cost £45 and was engineered by Andy MacPherson.

LP – The long-out-of-print Time’s Up 12” Vinyl LP, re-pressed on heavyweight black vinyl with a printed inner sleeve.

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In early 2016, the release of Talk Tight put Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever on the map with glowing reviews from Spin, Stereogum, and Pitchfork, praising them as stand-outs even among the fertile landcape of Melbourne music. Chock full of snappy riffs, spritely drumming and quick-witted wordplay, Talk Tight was praised by Pitchfork “for the precision of their melodies, the streamlined sophistication of their arrangements, and the undercurrent of melancholy that motivates every note.” The band was born from late night jam sessions in singer / guitarist Fran Keaney’s bedroom and honed in the thrumming confines of Melbourne’s live music venues. Sharing tastes and songwriting duties, cousins Joe White and Fran Keaney, brothers Tom and Joe Russo, and drummer Marcel Tussie started out with softer, melody-focused songs. The more shows they played, the more those driving rhythms that now trademark their songs emerged. Since then, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever rode that wave from strength to strength. Touring around the country on headline bills and festival slots all the way to Bigsound, the entrenched themselves with their thrilling live shows while prepping their next release. The French Press levels up on everything that made Talk Tight such an immediate draw. Multi-tracked melodies which curl around one another, charging drums and addictive bass lines converge to give each track its driving momentum. Honed through their live shows, this relentless energy carries the record through new chapters in the band’s Australian storybook. Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever’s songs have always had all the page-turning qualities of a good yarn and The French Press is no different. Somewhere between impressionists and fabulists, lyricists Fran Keaney, Tom Russo and Joe White often start with something rooted in real life – the melancholy of travel on French Press, having a hopeless crush on Julie’s Place – before building them into clever, quick vignettes. The result is lines blurred between fiction and reality – vibrant stories which get closer at a particular truth than either could alone. Blending critical insight and literate love songs, The French Press cements Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever as one of Australia’s smartest working bands.

LP – Black Vinyl with Download.

LP+ – Limited Loser Clear Coloured Vinyl with Download.

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This remixed and expanded reissue of Soundgarden’s Ultramega OK is a long-planned correction of the legendary band’s Grammy®-nominated debut full-length. The album was originally recorded and released in 1988 on SST Records. While the band enjoyed working with the original producer, Drew Canulette, they soon realized they weren’t quite happy with the final mix. Thus, shortly after the album’s release, the band decided to remix the album for subsequent pressings. However, success intervened: the band rapidly scored a deal with A&M and began work on their major-label debut, Louder Than Love, and the Ultramega OK remix project fell by the wayside as Soundgarden climbed their way to (ultra)mega-stardom. In 2016, after worldwide success, a breakup, a reunion, and many albums and tours, the band finally acquired the original multi-track tapes to Ultramega OK and carved out time to dig into the remix. They handed the tapes over to longtime friend and engineer Jack Endino (Nirvana, Mudhoney, Screaming Trees, Skin Yard), who worked with the band to create a fresh mix of the album that, for the band, ties up this persistent loose end and remedies the sound of their debut full-length. While they were at it, the band dug out six early versions of tracks that wound up on Ultramega OK. The songs were recorded in 1987 on 8-track tape by Jack Endino and Chris Hanzsek at Reciprocal Recording in Seattle, and mixed by Jack Endino in 2016. These versions feature the band in raw, powerful form – sonically closer to the band’s Endino-recorded six-song debut, Screaming Life – and provide a fascinating window into the development of songs that eventually became staples of the band’s set. The six songs comprise what the band refers to as Ultramega EP, and they are included in this reissue. Hailed as grunge innovators, Soundgarden redefined rock music for a generation. In the late ‘80s, the band – singer Chris Cornell, guitarist Kim Thayil, bassist Hiro Yamamoto, and drummer Matt Cameron – combined a punk ethos, brutal metal soundscapes, and Cornell’s ravenous roar to capture the attention of the masses. Jagged and ferocious, their music was deeply at odds with the synth-pop and hair metal which dominated the ‘80s airwaves. Early indie releases, including seminal Screaming Life and Ultramega OK, quickly led to a dedicated indie following as the band toured on both sides of the Atlantic. Subsequent albums, including Badmotorfinger, Superunknown, and Down on the Upside, achieved multi-platinum sales and launched the band to international fame.

2LP – Double Black Vinyl in Foil-stamped Gatefold packaging with custom dust sleeves plus Download.

2LP+ – Limited Double Loser Blue Marbled and Violet Coloured Vinyl in Foil-stamped Gatefold packaging with custom dust sleeves plus Download.

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The husband and wife duo of Alaina and Patrick, otherwise known as Tennis, return with Yours Conditionally, their new album on the band’s own label Mutually Detrimental. Building on their dreamy combination of perfect melodies and classic songwriting, Yours Conditionally sees a full circle return to their nautical roots of sorts, with the duo even writing part of the album while sailing at sea, what Alaina calls “a grandiose gesture”, a necessary venture of revisiting the past to reinvigorate the present. However, the pair dig deeper and darker this time round, with the resultant album wedding discussions of identity and self-sacrifice to some of their most pristine and infectious hooks yet. Achingly beautiful lead single In the Morning I’ll Be Better, written about the “precariousness of our lives”, sums up this paradox completely, with gorgeous melodies belying its subject matter of Riley seeing a family member through a serious illness. Please Don’t Ruin This For Me and Fields of Blue also deliciously straddle the light / dark divide, while others, like Ladies Don’t Play Guitar and the divine swoon of Modern Woman hit the pop bullseye square on the nose while unpacking conflicting themes of feminism and industry archetypes. Taken in toto, Yours Conditionally sees a band at maturation point, looking fondly to the past while also staring down the uncertainty and confusion of the future without flinching. This is Tennis at their contrary, compelling best.

LP – White Vinyl.

Shins

The Shins release of their fifth studio album, Heartworms. In contrast to 2012’s Port of Morrow, Heartworms ushers in a return to the handmade. Heartworms is, as always, entirely written by James Mercer, with exception of So Now What (produced by band member Richard Swift). Heartworms is the first Shins album to be self-produced by Mercer since Oh, Inverted World in 2001. Heartworms features Mercer’s most diverse lyrical palette to date. The result is a cohesive, yet genre defying album marked by Mercer’s distinct voice and melodic composition. Unified by his singular vision, Mercer creates a sound that is both familiar – a nostalgic nod to the album’s predecessors – and distinctly new. The album’s first single, Name For You, is a resounding call for female empowerment inspired by Mercer’s three daughters.

LP – 180 Gram Vinyl with Download.

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Cameron Avery has arrived as a new breed of nocturnal crooner, a train-wreck romantic creating timeless, ambitious music for the modern age. Utilizing his soulful wit, shrewd arrangements, and a deep, husky baritone, Avery harnesses the dark power and humor of artists like Nick Cave, Scott Walker, and Tindersticks to expertly walk the fine line between vulnerable and venerable. Hailing from the late 2000’s-era Perth, Australia, a healthy scene of hard-hitting garage rock bands, including a long stint as the drummer of Pond, Avery found his musical footing while playing with friends but sought the reward of his own outfit. Encouraged by his friend Kevin Parker of Tame Impala to record on his own, Avery started The Growl as his solo project in 2007, making an EP and an album of aggressive, distorted psychedelic rock and roll. When Parker asked him to join Tame Impala as its touring bassist in 2013, Avery jumped at the chance and rose with that band to the top of the psych-rock heap, but all the while remained focused on carving out his singular identity as an artist and following his own muse. On a break from touring, Avery decided to head to the US to work on his album. He would settle in Los Angeles at the behest of Jonathan Wilson, the Echo Park musician and producer who also encouraged Avery to shine a spotlight on his baritone singing voice, unlike the snarling, obscured vocals of The Growl. It was a lofty idea, but one to which Avery aspired, encouraged by the challenge. Melancholic machismo is written into the very DNA of Ripe Dreams, Pipe Dreams. From the classical, finger-picked guitar on the opener A Time and Place and the orchestral vamping of Do You Know Me By Heart? to the bombastic, self-assured swagger of Dance with Me. He takes an emotive page from the Leonard Cohen songbook-of-longing on Big Town Girl just as naturally as he thumbs an aggressive note of Bad Seed strut and Cramps rut on Watch Me Take It Away. And by the time he purrs that earnest refrain of “Baby, it’s you” on the album’s closer C’est Toi, Avery has surely mastered that drunken tightrope dance. Now a resident of New York City, Avery looks to continue his search for the ultimate sensations from a fresh vantage point.

LP – With Download.

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Throughout years of traveling, John Andrews has documented his life with his home recordings. His first record, Bit By The Fang, found him living in the amish country of Lancaster, PA. On his latest record, Bad Posture, he waves farewell to Pennsylvania and greets the wooded hills of Barrington, NH. These songs were written slowly and quietly throughout the winter, usually late at night next to the wood stove. It was recorded in Andrews’ barn with the doors ajar, welcoming the springtime — inviting the outside noises in. You can hear the crickets chirping and the occasional truck driving by. The songs themselves lend their hand like slow backwoods Beatles demos covered in a thin blanket of tape hiss. Andrews’ band, The Yawns, has been crystallized with staples from the New England freak scene: Rachel Neveu and Lukas Goudreault (MMOSS / Soft Eyes) and Joey Schneider. The album was mixed with headphones at the foot of Emma Critchett’s grave, who lived in the Yawns’ house during the 1800s. The record is an ode to her and all who have lived there. It paints a picture of living in the “freecountry” on the precipice of a rapidly changing political climate.

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Sonic Jesus is an Italian musical project lead by multi-instrumentalist Tiziano Veronese. Since signing to Fuzz Club, the project has released a split single with The Black Angels and been remixed by Sonic Boom aka Pete Kember. Their internationally acclaimed debut Neither Virtue Nor Anger; an industrial barrage of hypnotic, dark psychedelia. Sonic Jesus’ new album Grace goes beyond the past boundaries, pushing towards enthralling melodic horizons and modern pounding beats, delivered by a new-found pop sensibility. There’s still a darkness brooding beneath the noise but these new tracks see the project take on a magnificent and insatiable new form.

Available on 180gm white vinyl and CD.

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From adversity can come triumph, and from catharsis inspiration. Such has been the case for Gnoomes, the threesome hailing from Perm, Russia, whose second release for Rocket Recordings, Tschak! arrives in the wake of considerable turbulence and tumult within their personal lives and society itself, all of which has only been fuel for a creative epiphany that has seen them create a deeply evocative work rich with vibrant experimentation and saturated in a widescreen sense of wonder. It may only have been eighteen months since Ngan!, the band’s first release for Rocket, whose self-styled ‘stargaze’ approach marked a glorious collision between melodic sweetness, skysurfing guitar experimentation and motorik magnificence, yet the band have already moved on to a sonic landscape still more adventurous and ethereal on Tschak!, not to mention an emotionally resonant approach that’s bewitching to witness. Taking in torrents of guitar noise and electronic extrapolations both blissfully kosmische and aggressively abrasive, it exists outside of all or any convenient genres, a vivid and singular work by three dreamers-at-heart forced to manifest their vision into a psychic defence to the circumstances surrounding them. Working in splendid isolation thanks to a studio space provided by their work for a local radio station, the band had time and space for the alchemical process of creating Tschak! entirely on their own terms. Central to the this were a collection of Russian synths that they gathered, whose eccentric arpeggios and analogue textures form crucial ingredients on songs like Severokamsk and the title track, arriving at a sound that forms a star-crossed and timeless marriage between the experimentation of krautrock and the lineage of Warp Records. Forging forth into unknown realms both physical and metaphysical, Gnoomes recently completed a UK tour – including an appearance at Liverpool International Festival Of Psychedelia. Yet with the dreamlike radiance of the potent and otherworldly Tschak! on their side, this adventure is already well on its way.

LP – Limited Green Vinyl with Download.

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Psych-pop masterpiece from two of the best to ever do it. Los Angeles native and weirdo-pop enthusiast Ariel Pink joins forces with lo-fi pop pioneer R. Stevie Moore in a crazy freak-out extravaganza. Back in 2012, two leaders of the modern psych scene colluded together in making a 60+ track album. Here, we have the definitive collection of songs from ‘Ku Klux Glam’. Re-mastered and compiled by R. Stevie Moore, this is a presentation of this record in it’s clearest form.

Tape – Double 63 Track Tape.