Wednesday, June 01, 2005


Compilations: the Big Time Syndrome

Thought I'd get started writing about various compilations that seem somewhat slightly important.

I can think of a few reasons why someone might be interested in the Bigtime Syndrome. This CD came out in 1987 and documents a number of good to very-good indie bands who got screwed over by the Bigtime label before and/or after it died. I'd guess that a lot of people will have heard a lot of the songs elsewhere (though my guesses on things like that are often wrong). If you don't know Truck Train Tractor by The Pastels (one of the best fake What Goes Ons ever recorded) or Play My Song by Redd Kross (a remix, but I see no reason to pick it over the version on the reissued album) or Rebecca Wants Her Bike Back by The Jazz Butcher Conspiracy, I'd strongly advise you to either get this comp or, better, to track down the album(s) that these songs appear on.

Fans of The Exploding White Mice who don't have turntables might want to check in for a CD appearance of Blaze of Glory (no relation to Game Theory) though I'm really jonesing for the b-side, a cover of John Kongos' He's Gonna Step On You Again.

As for me, I wanted the CD because it's the only digital appearance of a fairly strong song by Christmas (they turned into Combustible Edison; leader Michael Cudahy lost on Jeopardy to that braniac guy) called Babyman, featuring an especially strong guitar on the chorus that always reminds me momentarily of something or other by Live Skull. Weird.

In fact, I'd stake a claim that this is the best non-album Christmas song, not that there are all that many. It definitely beats their overly reverent cover of Ring My Bell (b-side of the Stupid Kids single). What else is there? Hmmm, there are those cuts on Bands That Could Be God (thank you Gerard, we love you) and the Throbbing Lobster comps., the Ballad of the Invisible Girl/Wilhelm Reich 7" and a live track from this comp, also home to a very good live Richard Davies track and various other things that might interest various people (though some of those various things, including the Davies cut, can be found for free on epitonic).

I used to have a friend who had heard Christmas demos, so they're probably out there somewhere. If I've missed anything, it'd be great to find out. They're kind of underdocumented on the ol' internet thing.

Babyman by Christmas

...and as I think about it, I'm not sure how easy it is to get Rebecca Wants Her Bike Back on CD these days, so here it is, just to be safe:

Rebecca Wants Her Bike Back by The Jazz Butcher Conspiracy

[Brief note. The new Believer music issue is out and is just about exactly as ghastly as I expected. The one redeeming part, also as predicted, is Douglas Wolk's essay on the Fall and their new Peel Sessions box, and conveniently it's available online in full. So spare yourself several hours of blithe-wit-induced euphoria and click here for the Fall piece. Or ignore me. If you do, let me know if you think Rick Moody really meant to reference Branca rather than Chatham. Or rather, if referencing Chatham was an obnoxious way of avoiding a name that his readers might know thanks to that copy of Goo that they love so. I just get a little suspicious about a list that's so specific, except when it comes to naming any one particular free-jazz artist...indication of grandstanding beyond the call of duty, not that the opening line, "I like music that makes other people uncomfortable" isn't a great big red sign with flashing lights.]

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