Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Songs Chris D Taught Us.

To keep this robust, there are two download links to the song files- one here, and another right here.
Feel free to share- though I'd prefer you linked to the blog rather than just pass on a naked download link.

And this is what's in the files. Enjoy.

     track:                         by:                   originally on:
01 I Take What I Want    Ann Peebles     Straight From The Heart,1972
version appears on:       by:
Hard Road To Follow     The Flesh Eaters

The first of a pair of Peebles tracks here. Jill Jordan sang on this live, of course, and the recorded version, supplying the“girly” lines, though there exists at least one rehearsal tape wherein CD sings it all himself.  Which is kind of fetching.

02 Cinderella  The Sonics Boom!, 1965 
The Flesh Eaters Live 88 The Flesh Eaters
Great band, great track. You can hear the DNA of this one in Flesheaters tracks like “Eyes Without A Face” and “Life’s A Dirty Rat” here. I saw the Sonics play in March 2012 and can report they are still an amazingly tight outfit.

03 Gimme Shelter The Rolling Stones Let It Bleed,1969
Middle Of The Night  Divine Horsemen
What a great song for CD & Julie Christensen  to duet on. The female singer featured on the original, Merry Clayton, is well worth following up on, too- her 1970 solo album, also called“Gimme Shelter” is pretty great.

04 I Got The Will  Otis Redding  Tell The Truth
I Pass For Human     Chris D & Stone By Stone
"I Pass For Human" may be the most revealing album CD's ever done, and the painful themes of this Redding-penned song- "I got the will but can't find the way"- fit right in.

05 The Moon Upstairs  Mott The Hoople  Brain Capers, 1971
Dragstrip Riot        The Flesh Eaters
One of the more obscure numbers here, also one of the rockingest. Love that synthesiser. There’s a strong argument that  maybe these guys didn’t get the ongoing success they deserved, and despite the fact that everyone knows “All The Young Dudes” their wider legacy has certainly faded these days.

06 Slipped Tripped Fell In Love  Ann Peebles  Straight From The Heart,1972
Dragstrip Riot   Flesh Eaters
The second of our Peebles tracks. Slinky and smoky as all hell, there's an iron fist inside a velvet glove here. In case you are still uncertain, let me tell that you do indeed need to check this album out.
07 Voodoo Idol The Cramps Psychedelic Jungle,1981
Middle Of The Night   Divine Horsemen
A suitably spooky version of this early Cramps fave. I would have loved to hear the “Minute To
Pray” line up's take on this. Also to be found on the "Play New Rose For Me" compilation LP.


08 Field Of Stone David Allen Coe single, 1975
Middle Of The Night     Divine Horsemen
Whose version were they listening to- Tanya Tucker's  or David Allen Coe’s? Probably Tucker's, 
as it was a bigger hit and released earlier, but Coe's own version is worth a listen too.


 09 Rhymes Al Green  Al Green Is Love,1975
Hard Road To Follow   The Flesh Eaters   
A stablemate of Anne Peebles at Hi Records in the early 70s, soul maestro Green was in fine  form here, in the middle of a hugely productive period for him.


10 Frankie & Johnny Big Bill Broonzy
Time Stands Still, Chris D & Snake Handler (CD only) Divine Horsemen   
I went all the way from Harry Smith's American Anthology to the Elvis movie soundtrack and listened about 100 takes on this song  before picking this version, mainly because of the little details- Frankie’s red kimono and her stein of beer in particular. What a gal.And he looks like a dude, too.


11 Superlungs (My Supergirl) Donovan Barabajal, 1969
Snake Handler (CD only) Divine Horsemen 
Usually known for his folkie stuff, this is one of Donovan's less whimsical numbers, and another relative obscurity. And when I say whimsical, I mean this album also includes a song called “I Love My Shirt”.


12 I Don't Wanna Go Down To The Basement The Ramones The Ramones,1976
Gabba Gabba Hey-a tribute to the Ramones The Flesh Eaters
The Flesh Eaters were in some good company on this tribute album but this is the Ramones at their most minimal and the song doesn't give them much to work with. I was unable to trace full line up details for this but think it was the “Dragstrip Riot” band.

13 Ghost The Neats The Neats, 1983
I Pass For Human   Chris D & Stone By Stone   
A legendary Boston group from the early 80s, who never achieved great success but yet are still spoken of in the same breath as REM by those in the know. Despite the generally jaunty feel, this is actually a  pretty sooky break up song- “Look through me and watch me fade, as you turn another page”. Thanks to Chris Haskett for the tip. 

14 Slow Death Charlie Pickett  single 1981
Dragstrip Riot (vinyl only) The Flesh Eaters    
Charlie Pickett is a national treasure and he really does justice to the Flamin' Groovies’ 1972 original. Thank god this early output is available on the "Bar Band Americanus" collection. Apparently it was hearing this version that led to CD’s interest in the track.

15 Baby Won't Ya MC5 High Time, 1971
Woman Hell CD single The Flesh Eaters   
The MC5 had plenty of suitably grunty tunes  in their repertoire. CD played it smart by avoiding more obvious choices and going  with this. Check out the way the full-on 4/4 choruses segue into that great lurching-but-swinging rhythm for the verses- "Baby let's have a good tiiiiime!.


16 If You Want Blood AC/DC Highway To Hell, 1979
Women Hell CD single The Flesh Eaters   
A great tune from the last real AC/DC album- ie the last one Bon Scott sang on. As any Australian of a certain age will tell you, they just weren’t the same after he died.  

17 Agony Shorthand The Flesh Eaters Disintegration Nation EP, 1978
Dragstrip Riot The Flesh Eaters   
…and here CD goes back to that original single, the one that started it. Did he really ever have a 
girlfriend who worked at the Ivar? Who knows- it doesn't really matter, does it?

Mother's Worry.

Byron Coley was the best, most consistent chronicler a guy could hope for, so it seemed only right to ask for his take on this whole shebang. I am very happy he sent me this: 

Barefoot on the Accelerator
            Looking over the list of songs generated here, I find myself surprised by how damn many cover songs Chris D worked into the sets of his various bands. It has long been my contention that Chris is among the most gifted wordsmiths Los Angeles ever generated. His gushing, lop-rhythmic descriptions of desolation, longing and salvation are still capable of stunning me with their unexpected turns of phrase, and the gut illuminating power of their deep pulp/noir roots. But lists don't lie. The guy apparently knew a great song when he heard one, and felt little impulse to compete with other form-masters on their own turf.
            Chris's own early songwriting, so memorably referred to as “blabbermouth lockjaw of the soul” by Richard Meltzer, created a compressed universe of glottal-sound that is still unmatched in terms of raw spurt. But he was absolutely willing to pay tribute to people like Ann Peebles (whose sultry arrangement of Sam & Dave's “I Take What I Want” was the basis for the Flesheaters's version), rather than attempt to create a secondhand soul ballad with his own pen. Which was probably a damn good idea. Chris's delivery of this sort of material, and the stage presence he manifested while performing it were definitely referencing people like Al Green and Isaac Hayes. And it could seem a bit of an odd fit conceptually inside the later-period Flesheaters, whose sound was so fucking heavy, but they made it work. And when he started incorporating learned soul-bits into later material, they sounded right and unforced because he had spent the time working out the gestural language of the music, figuring how it could fit in with the rest of his musical vision. It was the same with the country material that Divine Horsemen experimented with. The idea, I think, was to pick songs with crucial formal elements and figure them out in a new setting before trying to do originals in that mold.
            Of course, all of Chris's bands have known their way around the dynamics of rock and punk, so when they've done these sorts of tunes it's largely been for live gigs or comps or just for the sheer pleasure of doing them. My favorite cover of their is not represented here, which I guess makes sense, since it's the Flesheaters Mk. V covering “Pony Dress”, a song originally done by the Flesheaters Mk. III a few years earlier. They just shred themselves on that one. But they were always doing that -- delivering so much more than you'd ever expect or hope.
            So much guts. So little glory. Fuck the world.
--Byron Coley

For my part, I'd just like to thank Byron, Bruce Milne and Chris D. 
TJ Honeysuckle/Trevor Block, Melbourne Australia 2013

Dedicated to the members of all the bands featured.
No rights reserved.

Life's A Dirty Rat.

In the course of putting this together I had to make some choices about what went in, and what stayed out. There are a few also-rans and curiosities, which I think are worth noting:

I Like It Like That    Chris Kenner      single, 1961        
Dragstrip Riot     The Flesh Eaters 
A near thing that just missed out on inclusion. Although not a straight cover, it’s better than even money that this sprightly number, co-written with Allen Toussaint, influenced CD when it came to the writing of the title track from “Dragstrip Riot”.

Cyrano De Berger’s Back               X             See How We Are 1987   
A Minute To Pray, A Second To Die          The Flesh Eaters
John Doe brought this to the table in 1981 for the Flesh Eaters, then returned to it in 1987 with X, at a time when Dave Alvin had replaced Billy Zoom in the band. So what you have is two former  Flesh Eaters  playing in X, covering a song they originally did when they were in the Flesh Eaters. That all makes my head hurt a bit. Anyway, it’s out.

Howl      Allen Ginsberg    1955    
Poison Arrow, Come Into This Place        The Flesh Eaters, Divine Horsemen
CD borrowed the part of the opening line of Ginsberg’s beat poetry classic for “Poison Arrow”, which he later re-wrote for the Divine Horsemen as “Come Into This Place”. Recordings of Ginsberg reading “Howl” are easily available but run for over 20 minutes- too long to include here for the sake of a few seconds.

What Is Red.

Chris D has always been a very literary kind of guy- so here is a page about words- words about him, words suggested by or referred to by him, and words written by him.

It's surprisingly hard to find much contemporary written material about Chris and the various bands. I have no idea why this would be- I would have thought they were pretty high profile.
Anyway, this edition of Forced Exposure from summer 1987 covers a fair bit of ground, including details of how the Divine Horsemen's tour van was stolen in New Orleans, with all their gear in it.

This is a good one. It came with a flexi disc of the Meat Puppets, Tex & the Horseheads and the Flesheaters, doing "River Of Fever". The mag has a column by Chris and also includes a fairly long and pretty funny tour diary thing by Byron Coley, covering a tour the band did in July 1982, which took them as far east as Boston. That amazing cover photo is by Phil-In Phlash, so I'm guessing it was indeed taken in Boston.

This is a kinda odd thing. Ignore the (excellent but unrelated) Frank Frazetta cover- this is the story of legendary Scottish cannibal Sawney Bean, who was rumored to have robbed, killed and eaten unwary travelers in the 1500s. And done some other unsavoury stuff, too. This was published in 1979, the first book by author, LA Morse, who went on to better and more interesting things, including "Video Trash & Treasures". Included here just for the hell of it.

Now, you can watch Maya Deren's "Divine Horsemen" as a film- it's right here- or you can read it as a book. I like the book- it has less of the slightly self-conscious artiness of the film, and it lasts longer.
I borrowed this copy from a high school library in suburban Melbourne back in 1984. I guess I really should think about returning it soon.

Go man go, like a racetrack! I make a point of buying any Ace paperbacks that I find in thrift stores or junk markets- this is a particularly good one, and always reminds me of "Twisted Road".

Chris listed  some authors worth seeking out in the Divine Horsemen track "What Is Red", including James M Cain, Harry Crews, Chester Himes, James Ellroy & Jim Thompson. All highly recommended:
BUT if you really want something to browse while listening to these tunes, I'd suggest one of Chris' own books, just because you know. If you don't have 'em, well, there are links included so you can sort that out.


Post-Civil War, embittered Confederate veteran and sometime bounty hunter Santo Brady drifts from town to town in the rural Deep South. He reluctantly rescues half-breed Indian prostitute Lucy Damien from a backwater whistle stop only to have the whole world fall in on his head. They embark on a freight train-hopping odyssey to New Orleans, unaware that Lucy’s rich white father and psychotic brother from St. Louis are hot on their trail. Sidetracked by a band of sadistic train robbers, Lucy is kidnapped, and the wounded Santo goes on a harrowing mission to track her. Reminiscent of such classic period noirs as James M. Cain’s PAST ALL DISHONOR and Cornell Woolrich’s WALTZ INTO DARKNESS, Chris D. delivers a tragic tall tale plunging headfirst into a wild heart of darkness.


The year is 1987, and outlaw Ray Diamond’s mother Lorna is the queenpin of a cesspool of crime and perversion in Mystic, Georgia. When Ray is discharged from the Navy in San Diego, he absconds with a .45, planning to rob and drug deal his way east to his hometown. But when Ray arrogantly knocks over a mob-connected El Paso liquor store, he doesn’t count on the owner’s psychotic son Eli dogging his trail, and his life corkscrews deep into nightmare. Back home in Mystic, Ray’s girl Connie Eustace resorts to stripping at Mama Lorna’s club to make ends meet. After witnessing a murder by the local sheriff, she goes on a drug and drink bender. Barely holding on until the long overdue, strangely changed Ray returns, Connie jumps from the frying pan into the fire.

"A Minute to Pray, A Second to Die" is the long-awaited mega-anthology from musician/writer Chris D., singer/songwriter of the bands The Flesh Eaters and Divine Horsemen. Included here are all the song lyrics Chris ever penned from 1977 till now, plus poetry, short stories, dream journal entries and excerpts from as-yet-unpublished novels. A treasure trove for Chris D.'s fans and an introduction for everyone else to one of the most neglected literary talents of the last thirty years. 

Recovering addict and Nam vet, Milo, is resigned to his spartan life as caretaker of St. Margaret’s cathedral in 1989 Manhattan. Guaranteed perpetual employment by Monsignor Aloysius, an old WWII comrade of his dead father, Milo’s life starts to unravel when ex-CIA friend Dave goes off the deep end. Not only is Dave the heist man whacking drug dealers in Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Bronx, he’s also hatching a hare-brained scheme to plunder Brooklyn mob boss Nunzio’s treasure trove of paintings and objets de art recovered from the Nazis at the end of WWII -- which is conveniently stashed in St. Margaret’s cellar. Complicating matters is ex-Viet Cong Yuen -- a man with a very personal grudge against Milo and Dave -- now working for the Hong Kong Triads. When he arrives in the Big Apple to do business with two-timing underboss, Carmine, throw in hotheaded rehab priest Father Culkin, single mother Marie trying to stay straight, Nunzio’s homicidal daughter Sarah, Milo’s best friend, writer Jack, and you have a recipe guaranteed to erupt into an out-of-control urban holocaust.

Outlaw Masters of Japanese Film offers an extraordinary close-up of the hitherto overlooked golden age of Japanese cult, action and exploitation cinema from the early 1950s through to the late 1970s, and up to the present day. Having unique access to the top maverick filmmakers and Japanese genre film icons, Chris D. brings together interviews with, and original writings on, the lives and films of such transgressive directors as Kinji Fukasaku (Battles Without Honour and Humanity), Seijun Suzuki (Branded to Kill) and Koji Wakamatsu (Ecstasy of the Angels) as well as performers like Shinichi 'Sonny' Chiba (The Streetfighter, Kill Bill Vol. 1) and glamorous actress Meiko Kaji (Lady Snowblood). Bringing the story up to date with an overview of such Japanese "enfants terrible" as Takashi Miike (Audition) and Kiyoshi Kurasawa (Cure), the book also provides a compendium of facts and extras including filmographies, related bibliographies on genre fiction including Manga, and a section on female yakuzas. Illustrated with fantastic stills and posters from some of Japan's finest cult and action films, this is a veritable bible for fans and newcomers alike.

Impossible Crime.

There remains a further task to complete this project- well, two tasks, actually. One is probably within my means but I'd be happy for someone else to take it on. The other...is pretty big.
The simple one is to make a compilation of of the Flesh Eaters/Divine Horsemen versions of all these tunes, in the same order. No real reason but it would complete and complement these originals. That's a pretty simple job. If anyone wants to do it and email a link I'll happily share it. Otherwise, I'll do it when I can.

The other, bigger, job is to go through all Chris' output and identify all of the (many, many) film references, and then compile as many trailers, stills, lobby cards etc as possible for them. A big ask I know but again if anyone feels up for it, let me know. The material is out there- here's the trailer for "A Better Tomorrow":

And here's the trailer for "Gate Of Flesh", with English subtitles:
It would make a great blog, I think. But until someone writes it...