Attack of the Killer Track! is a series that explores tracks from artists from a variety of genres. Some of the tracks were singles, some of them were obscure b-sides or long forgotten album tracks. One thing is certain – all of them are killer tracks.
I was shocked yesterday (3-13-17) to wake up to the news that John Lever – drummer for The Chameleons, The Sun & the Moon, and The Red Sided Garter Snakes – had passed away after a brief illness. It is not often that you find yourself in touch with your musical heroes, but over the last few years I’ve had the opportunity to do that many times. I’d been in touch with John to discuss his departure from ChameleonsVox as well as get information on his latest stunning project, The Red Sided Garter Snakes. It amazed me that not only had John read some of my ramblings on this site, he also seemed to like them. John’s body of work is incredible – his musicianship added that intangible quality to a song that made it rise above the rest. One of the first tracks that John cut with The Chameleons was In Shreds. A blistering punk tune, it was released in March of 1982. A more aggressive track than most of what would be featured on the debut album Script of the Bridge, it features stunning work from Mr. Lever. The song builds and build to a punk breakdown “It seems to me / to be so contradictory / it seems to me / you’ve become a part of the machinery”. Mark Burgess, Reg Smithies, Dave Fielding, and John Lever were on the cusp of something great – and you can feel it begin with this song. RIP John, your art will be here long after us mere mortals are gone from this Earth.
Black Swan Lane was founded in 2007 by Jack Sobel & John Kolbeck, formerly of The Messengers and the great Mark Burgess, formerly of The Chameleons UK and the Sun and the Moon (I borrowed this sentence from the BSL website, thanks Jack). The 1st three records (A Long Way From Home, The Sun and the Moon Sessions, Things You Know and Love) featured an impressive cast of musicians with a dizzying post-punk pedigree. I initially was drawn to the band because of the connection to The Chameleons – I stayed because of the heartfelt lyrics and melody infused post-punk styled music. Each record bore traces of a clear progression, improving upon the last. 2011’s Staring Down the Path of Sound seemed to be the apex of this journey – a masterful record that represented Black Swan Lane’s destination the entire time. In this day and age of sensory overload it raised the question – what will come next?
Compilation albums have always been a tough sell with me. Typically I hone in on a few acts that grab me – buy everything by those bands, and forget all about the compilation. There have been a few exceptions over the years – the Factory records box set, the Left of the Dial series, and anything associated with the Messthetics DIY series (to name just a few). When I got word that a tribute compilation album in memory of the Paris Angels Simon Worrall was in the works, I had a feeling it’d be a compilation that would sit comfortably on the (digital) shelf with my other favorites – and I was right. The compilation features musicians from Manchester, England from various levels of notoriety. To understand how or why these friends of Big Si (as he was affectionately known) came together to celebrate his life that was cut short far too soon in November of 2011, one must revisit the story of the Paris Angels.
1st entry in a weekly column entitled “Flashback Fridays” where I discuss albums that have impacted me over the years
My day began with somewhat of a bizarre exchange with Courtney Love Cobain on twitter. After reading about her campaign against my childhood (and let me be honest, adult) heroes The Muppets, I decided to drop Courtney a message letting her know how ridiculous it was to pick on Kermit the Frog (for those who don’t know, Courtney Love Cobain after selling her majority stake of rights to Nirvana’s music, was upset with The Muppet’s rendition of “Smells Like Teen Spirit”):