vrijdag 6 maart 2015

* Akron, Ohio *

UK-label Soul Jazz Records has been releasing lots of interesting stuff in recent years, ranging from Jamaican reggae to Deutsche Elektronische Musik, and from New Orleans Funk to the Punk 45-series.

The latter started in 2013, with a first volume called 'Kill the Hippies! Kill Yourself! - underground punk in the USA 1973-80'. 2014 brought vol.2 'There is no such thing as society - UK punk 1977-81' and vol.3 'Sick On You! One Way Spit! - proto-punk 1970-77'.

Early 2015 a fourth and fifth volume were released simultaneously. Each one covering the music scene of a mid west US-city in the 70s. 'Extermination Nights in the Sixth City' is about Cleveland Ohio, home of Pere Ubu, Rocket from the Toombs, Pagans, Electric Eels, Mirrors and Human Switchboard.

'Burn Rubber City, Burn!' contains music from Akron, Ohio. Finally there is a CD-companion to the 1978 LP 'The Akron compilation' (released by Stiff in London), with bands from "the rubber capital of the world" (since Akron was home of the major tire and rubber companies Goodyear and Firestone).

Stiff, famous for clever marketing, released the LP in a nice gimmick-sleeve. "Scratch 'n' sniff the tire on the front cover to experience the delightful fragrance of Akron" it said on the inner sleeve. Yes, one fingernail-scratch across the top right corner was enough, and still is after 37 years, to smell rubber!

The LP itself offered 14 tracks by 10 acts. The Waitresses, the band that had a minor US-hit in 1982 with 'I Know What Boys Like', contributed three tracks. Jane Aire & the Belvederes and Rachel Sweet sang two each. Tin Huey, Chi Pig,  Bizarros, Rubber City Rebels, Sniper (?), Idiots Convention (?) and Terraplane (?) all had one track. Missing, unfortunately, were Akron's most famous sons, Devo.

Soul Jazz did include Devo on their Akron-CD (also available as 2LP), but not with any of their signature-songs, like 'Mongoloid' or 'Jocko Homo', nor their classic re-working of 'Satisfaction' (clip!). Instead, 'Burn Rubber City' has two a-typical Devo-tracks from 1978 that previously appeared on the fake-bootleg-EP 'Mechanical Man'.

Six bands of the Stiff-LP are on the Soul Jazz-comp as well. The Bizarros (3x, including 'Nova', on YT in early version), Tin Huey (2x), Rubber City Rebels (2x, alas neglecting this energetic self titled tune), Jane Aire & the Belvederes ('When I Was Young'; great song, but not on YouTube; a link to her non-album Stiff-single 'Yankee Wheels' is all we have to offer here),  Chi Pig and The Waitresses. Last band is listed with 'The Comb', and Chi Pig with two songs, of which 'Apu Api (Help Me)' is supposed to be track 13. Only after the CD was pressed Soul Jazz discovered they'd made a mistake and included an unlisted song instead: The Waitresses with 'Clones', previously known as the mystery track on the Stiff-LP. Future Soul Jazz-editions will have 'Apu Api' for 'Clones'.

If you've tried some of the links above, you must have noticed that most Akron-bands on the Punk 45-album are not exactly PUNK at all, and there is no Akron-sound either. Whatever, I like 'em for various reasons. And I was glad to discover some songs I hadn't heard before, most notably those by Denis DeFrange and Ralph Carney. They led me to another compilation-LP from Akron, that I've completely missed back then: 'Bowling Balls from Hell', released in 1980 by Clone Records, the label of Chris Butler, mainman of The Waitresses. Soul Jazz cherry picked three songs from that LP, including 'The Manikin Shuffle' by DeFrange, but sadly left out his 'Bowling Ball Theme' and Carney's 'Hose Anna'.

PS: Rachel Sweet wasn't even remotely punk, in sound nor attitude. So it's not surprising she didn't make it unto the Punk 45-volume. But she was on the Stiff-LP with the cool song 'Truckstop Queen' (released when she was just 16), hence included here. For Stiff she recorded a few more 45s and two albums. In 1990 she could be heard on the soundtrack of the John Waters-film Cry-Baby, doing a great version of Wynona Carr's 'Please Mr. Jailer' (lip-sync: actress Amy Locane).


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