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by Josh Antonuccio

7 Apr 2011


In the Bible, there is an interesting story about a largely disregarded prophet named Jeremiah.  Jeremiah was a prophet in Israel, before and after its capture and exile to Babylon.  In a time when most people in that nation were living in what they thought was “love, peace, and happiness”; Jeremiah was walking around telling everyone that judgment and destruction were imminent.  For telling the inevitable truth, Jeremiah was ostracized and out of sync with the culture around him, all the while attesting to a future doom that was yet to come.  In the same vein, a largely unknown folk songwriter at the onset of the 1970s named Bill Fay released the album Time of the Last Persecution from the fringes of the music culture, heralding the end of the era of hippie idealism with messages of judgment, human despair, and eventual consummation. 

Bill Fay’s recording career was short, to say the least.  Besides a 1967 single and two albums released within a year of each other, there is not much material to draw on.  His third album Tomorrow and Tomorrow didn’t see the light of day until nearly 30 years later.  Just last year, Fay released a double-disc collection of both old and new material titled Still Some Light, which featured a collection of songs from his 2009 home studio recordings.  Beyond that there is not much to speak of.

Although his first self-titled debut album received some notice at the time of its release (with the gorgeous song “Be Not So Fearful”), it would be his second, Time of the Last Persecution, that would remain firmly fixed in the imaginations of many, especially notable fans such as Wilco, Six Organs of Admittance, and Sonic Youth member/Wilco producer Jim O’Rourke.

by AJ Ramirez

5 Apr 2011


Today marks the 17th anniversary of the suicide of Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain, so in tribute to Mr. Unwilling Voice of a Generation I’d like to briefly draw attention to one of his group’s underappreciated gems. Specifically, I’m talking about the first brand-new release the grunge trio unleashed upon the world after conquering the mainstream with its blockbuster second album Nevermind—a song the group elected to issue on indie label Touch & Go as a split single with Texas noise rockers the Jesus Lizard.

It’s wonderfully perverse that Nirvana put out “Oh, the Guilt” in such a manner. Prior to the single’s February 1993 release, Nirvanamania was still riding high, as evidenced by the Christmastime arrival of the rarities collection Incesticide to satiate fans eagerly awaiting a new studio album. So what did the group follow that with? A rarity!  The single had a worldwide pressing of 200,000 copies (only a fraction of the million-plus sales “Smells Like Teen Spirit” racked up in the United States alone), with many of them issued as vinyl records, then considered a dead format by all but the tiniest of labels.  It’s now widely available due to its inclusion on the 2004 box set With the Lights Out, but in case you haven’t had the opportunity or drive to scour through three dense discs of odds-and-ends to uncover it, it’s high time you learned that “Oh, the Guilt” is one ripping piece of scuzz-filled rock

by George de Stefano

4 Apr 2011


It sounds like the wildest party ever, with a rogue’s gallery of guests. It’s a “Wang Dang Doodle”, and Howlin’ Wolf’s spreading the word: “Tell Automatic Slim, tell Razor Totin’ Jim / Tell Butcher Knife Totin’ Annie / Tell Fast Talking Fanny / We gonna pitch a ball, down to that union hall / We gonna romp and tromp till midnight / We gonna fuss and fight till daylight / We gonna pitch a wang dang doodle all night long”. Besides those four characters, the invitees include “Kudu-Crawlin’ Red”, “Abyssinian Ned”, “Pistol Pete”, “Fats and Washboard Sam”, “Shaky”, “Boxcar Joe”, “Peg” (just Peg?), and “Caroline Dye”.

“Wang Dang Doodle”, one of the hardest-rocking tracks on Rocking Chair, celebrates extreme, even violent pleasure. This party sounds more like a riot: “Tonight we need no rest, we really gonna throw a mess”. The revelers, Wolf promises (threatens?), will “break out all the windows” and “kick down all the doors”.  Wolf certainly sounds like he can’t wait to “romp and tromp” with this rowdy crowd: he delivers the song with his typical gusto. But he actually didn’t like “Wang Dang Doodle” at all, according to the biography Moanin’ at Midnight.  Co-authors James Segrest and Mark Hoffman quote the song’s writer, Willie Dixon, on Wolf’s reluctance to record it: “He hated that ‘Tell Automatic Slim and Razor-toting Jim.’ He’d say, ‘Man, that’s too old-timey, sounds like some old levee camp number’”.

by Jason Mendelsohn and Eric Klinger

1 Apr 2011


Klinger: All right, Mendelsohn. I was 13 when this album exploded into our culture, and for a young teenager in the early ’80s, Thriller was quite literally everywhere. It became so ubiquitous—and so tied with the tweens that were fast becoming his primary audience—that I couldn’t help but resist it with every fiber of my being. This seemed to be a record custom made for the Silver Spoons and Facts of Life set. It wasn’t the rock that I was just starting to fall in love with, so on top of all that I just couldn’t process its sound—Eddie Van Halen notwithstanding.

But as much as Michael Jackson’s astonishing fall in the ’90s made it impossible to assess Thriller’s impact, his posthumous beatification has made it just as impossible to be realistic about this album. So there’s never really been a good time to talk about Thriller, but in the interest of Counterbalance, we have no choice.

Mendelsohn: Oh my. I have to say this and then I will move on. This guy was a complete freak and to this day, I am still amazed that there are people out there who can be brought to tears by the mere mention of his name. Do you remember when we were at the local watering hole, quenching our thirst on the day Jackson died? That was a spectacle. And then the bartender gave everybody free shots, but they weren’t good shots, they were weird and fruity and left a strange taste in my mouth. Completely befitting the man we were drinking in remembrance of.

by Evan Sawdey

1 Apr 2011


30 Seconds to Mars has literally pulled off the impossible: its has transcended the dreaded status of being known as “an actor band”.

While the band was initially seen as nothing more than an alt-rock outlet for Requiem for a Dream actor Jared Leto, the group slowly began to amass fans, initially on the strength of its 2006 single “The Kill” (from its sophomore album A Beautiful lie), and very much solidifying its mainstream acceptance with 2009’s “Kings and Queens” (a song which bares a very heavy U2 influence), the accompanying music video for which was nominated for Video of the Year at the following year’s MTV VMAs.  Now, the band is capping off a successful year of touring behind This Is War by being one of the headliners at this year’s Bamboozle Festival, going on from April 29th—May 1st in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

Before that takes place, however, 30 Seconds to Mars’ guitarist Tomo Milicevic sat down to answer PopMatters’ famed 20 Questions via e-mail (Milicevic, born in Serajevo, has been playing with the band since A Beautiful Lie).  Here, he reveals Leto’s advice about push-ups, forgets to answer a few questions, and lets us know that one his hidden talents is astral projection . . .

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