Real Life Rock Top 10 (05/88)

1. Primitives, “Crash” (RCA UK)
The bounce of the Jamies’ ’58 “Summertime, Summertime,” toughened up with ’88 cynicism and doubt: from its first bars, a natural hit.

2. Del-Lords, “Judas Kiss,” from Based on a True Story (Enigma)
Eric Ambers singing may be too open, too faceless, to make this explosive cut last, though Syd Straw’s edgy back­ing vocals help—but it doesn’t matter. Seventeen years ago the Rolling Stones’ “Dead Flowers” was a good idea; now it’s great rock ‘n’ roll.3. Eric Clapton, Crossroads (Polygram reissue, ’63-’88, six LPs, four CDs)
This is overkill—disturbing, desperate moments lost in a 73-cut assemblage of dross and dates, confusion and careerism. It’s got that acrid digital sound, complete with jumps and drop-offs, lacking all warmth and presence, turning what once were shocks into lifeless exercises in remix. “Layla” is a horror: what you get along with all the words, as if they were the point, is a man singing to a backing tape.

At its most distinctive, there was something heroic, something tragic, about Clapton’s playing—you don’t sense self-expression so much as struggle: the resistance of the music in the guitarist’s mind to his will to realise that music, his resistance to losing himself in the sound he can make. What’s being transcended is a kind of neurotic distance, a wish to disappear, to cease to be; the result is focus, elegance, balance—not blues. It’s there in the solo in Cream’s ’66 “Spoonful,” especially the three final notes; most of all, it’s in the long, unsatisfied, unsatisfiable solo that ends Dave Mason’s “Look at Me Look at You,” which closed his ’70 Blue Thumb LP, Alone Together. That performance is not on Crossroads, and I’m glad.4. Reverend Lonnie Farris, Vocal and Steel Guitar (Eden Records, c/o Document Records, Eipeldauer­strasse 23/43/5, A-1220 Vienna, Austria)
Walk into a room where this is playing and you’ll ask what it is before you say hello. What it is is (a) what Eric Clapton wanted on the Bluesbreakers ’66 “All Your Love,” and (b) an L.A. minister with a steel guitar that sings like a Leslie. The shimmering, liquid chords are so evanescent you see them more than you hear them; Farris’s guitar doesn’t talk, it paints.

5. Alex Bennett, A so-far undenied report, in two parts (Alex Bennett Show, KITS-FM, San Francisco, April 4)
Part one: Yoko Ono is married. Part two: she got married four months after John Lennon was shot.6. Deficit des Années Antérieures, When a Cap Is Rising (Big Noise/Red Rhino 10-inch LP, UK)
Tape collages with song overlays, ’82-’86, from a Belgian outfit: what Wire would be if it were a little more arty, but no less sly.7. Coolies, “Coke Light Ice,” from Doug (DE)
Doug is a “rock opera” tripping on its own parodies, but this tune may emerge in years to come as a classic of redeemed triviality, which in some times (these) is at least half of what pop is for: a full-length song, driven by undifferentiated paranoia, about one man’s inability to get more Coke than ice out of his favorite hamburger joint.

8. Rykodisc, press release for The Atmosphere Collection: 8 Hours in the Big Apple (April 1)
Including “Gowanus Canal,” “Busy Office,” and “Haitian Taxi Driver,” this eight-part ambient CD set is “intended for ‘passive’ listening,” “designed to pummel the listener into resigned desperation,” and “can be programmed to play all day… thus inducing a low-range psychosis in most listeners.” It’s just a joke—but why? Folkways once put out Sounds of the Junkyard, featuring “Burning Out an Old Car.” And the fidelity today would be so much better…9. House of Schock, “Middle of Nowhere” (Capitol)
Best post-Go-Go’s record, by the drummer, who had the only good smile in the band.Kurt_Zagon_Above_the_Law_Henry Silva_Nico10. Henry Silva, in The Manchurian Candidate (1962, MGM/UA) and Above the Law (Warner Bros.)
The linkage between the villains Silva plays in the new Above the Law (a sort of Chuck Norris-bloodbath for leftwingers) and the re-released Manchurian Candidate(the best American movie made between Citizen Kane and The Godfather) is a nice twist. It half implies that after the failure of the Soviet-Chinese Communist-American fascist Manchurian Candidate plot, the Silva character went over from the KGB to the CIA, found work as a torturer in Vietnam, made his pile with Company cocaine, and then—

Village Voice, May (?) 1988 (TBD)

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