Thursday, March 11, 2004

Yuck, I'm running late today and I don't have time to write as much as I'd like. Today I'm featuring tracks from Kim Fowley's 1979 masterpiece (of sorts) Sunset Boulevard. One of the smartest things I've heard said about this record: two people were arguing about it and one insisted that the record was just plain bad. The other replied, "bad compared to what?" Maybe you have an answer to that question, but I still don't. I'd be remiss if I didn't point out the incredible similarity between Kim Fowley's and Sonic Youth's lyrical styles.

I'm giving you two songs from each side. Here's In My Garage, which features Kim doing an incredibly low rent impersonation of Bob Dylan that somehow fails to derail the song (a generous interpretation of the lyrics could conceivably have Kim predicting the ascendancy of hip-hop). The backing vocalist would probably be Dyan Diamond, who also gets a co-writing credit and who sounds a lot older than the teenager that she was. The last song on the side is the title track Sunset Boulevard. Lots of great lines in this one, but I think my favorite is when Eve comes back with "I want to know about boys in England" and Kim gets thrown for a loop for a second.

From side two, here's another Diamond co-write Love Is A Game. The spoken section of the song (it starts off "1978, America USA" and just gets better) is one of my favorite moments on the record. And finally here's Black Camels of Lavender Hill, which appears to be Bruce Springsteen's version of Sid and Nancy as performed by Kim. I especially love the part near the end where he's clearly making it up as he goes along, and that confession at the very end "[burp] don't believe a word of it it's a hustle man" has so many levels to it that I wouldn't even know where to begin talking about it.

Here are the quotes that Kim includes in the liner notes:

I never wanted to be famous, but I always wanted to be great-Ray Charles

How much you learn depends on how much you can stand-Raquel Welch

Cruel but interesting-Sandy Robertson, O.B.E.

He travels the fastest who travels alone-Rudyard Kipling

The public is wonderfully tolerant. It forgives anything except genius-Oscar Wilde

I know of two versions of this album: one on PVC and one on Illegal Records. The PVC version has better sound and includes an inner sleeve with (generally accurate) lyrics so I'd go for that one if you have the choice. As of now, there's no CD version, but the record has been made available for legal download in a couple of places.

If anyone knows what happened to Dyan Diamond after her solo album, I'm somewhat curious (not hugely interested, just somewhat). I see that there's a Venus and the Razorblades reunion, but her name is conspicuously absent from the web site. Dead? Married? Sex change? The Internet isn't telling me.

Tomorrow: no more Kim Fowley.

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