Pop Culture Gadabout
Friday, January 19, 2007
      ( 1/19/2007 03:15:00 PM ) Bill S.  

"YOU DON'T NEED SOUND WHEN TWO PEOPLE SCREW!" – Mebbe you can carry this Wayback Machine bizness too far? While I was prepping the review for that recent Sneakers reissue, I learned of the existence of a recent exhumed set of tunes predating the material in Nonsequitur of Silence, featuring many of the same parties in a high-school band called Little Diesel. Future dB's Peter Holsapple, Will Rigby & Chris Stamey – along with that other NC power-pop giant Mitch Easter – all had a role in Little Diesel, and the results have been recorded for CD posterity by Telstar Records as No Lie. Originally recorded by Stamey "in his bedroom" back in 1974/5, the seventeen tracks were cleaned and polished by him in 2006 (to demonstrate the difference, a '74 version of one cut is appended to the disc) – then released with high school yearbook pix of all the players on the label side of the CD. Someone's old girlfriend must be getting misty-eyed, one suspects, but is this teenaged material at all listenable?

Surprisingly, much of it is – though I won't be tossing away my dB's or Let's Active discs any time soon. What we've got here is the work of a brace of enthusiastic high schoolers showing off their smarts with a buncha cool covers (Robert Parker's "Barefootin'," MC5's "American Ruse," Bowie's "Rebel Rebel," and more) and dipping their toes into the act of writing tunes themselves. Holsapple appears to've been the primary creative force behind the band's three original tracks: "Kissy Boys" attempts to mesh several New York Dolls songs ("Private World," "Jet Boy," "Lookin' for a Kiss") in a manner that must've really discombobulated NC teens back in the mid-seventies; Holsapple/Northcott's 'Flamingo" is an appealingly adolescent paean to a local drive-in with some Manfred Mannisms inserted into the chorus; "Teenage Heartbreak Lament," the only track featuring Peter's engagingly fallible vocals, sounds like somp'n Head East might've concocted. Yeah, we're in the seventies, alright.

Though Little Diesel has great taste in covers (you just know that the MC5ers who gave us Back in the USA would've been tickled as hell to know that real-life teenagers were recording "Ruse"), on more than occasion (a decidedly unsexy "Barefootin'," a you've-gotta-be-kiddin'-me cover of "Riot in Cell Block No. 9") you can hear the material defeating 'em. Like most young bands, LD frequently shores up its lack of experience with youthful enthusiasm. Lead singer Bob Northcott is an inspired babbler – particularly when it comes to tackling psychedelic poesy like "Pictures of Matchstick Men" – while young Rigby gets a lot out of his small drum kit and electric guitarists Holsapple and Tommy Eshelman (who appears to do the big solos) provide plenty of good garagey noise. At times, I'm reminded of more willful garage primitives like Thee Headcoats, though here, of course, the low-fi sound is no affectation – just the best these kids kin do at the time. "There are some moments," Rigby states in the liner notes, "where the drumming makes me wince," but really he's got nuthin' to be embarrassed about. His work certainly sounds more solid than many sixties garage icons.

Holsapple disappears with the last three re-polished tracks – to be replaced by Stamey & Easter with Chris Chamis on a second set of (barely heard) drums. Perhaps the wildest cover comes from Diesel Version 2.0: a shambolic remake of Kool and the Gang's "Hollywood Swinging" that I never thought I'd hear from this crew. Instead of reiterating the song's basic lyrics umpteen times over its funkbeat, Northcott starts improvising by throwing in the Neil Young slam from "Sweet Home Alabama." The move may not make a lotta sense, but I'm guessin' it drew cheers from the scattered Carolina kids who heard it in one of Diesel's occasional concerts.

All in all, this makes for an amusing musical footnote. But what I'm really waitin' for is a new disc from the revived dB's (I see from the band's website that some tracks from this future release are already cropping up). All this teenaged nostalgia is fine as far as it goes, but in the end, this power pop lover has an ear out for more maturely hooky goods . . .

UPDATE: Will Rigby emailed to correct an error that Bifocal Boy originally made while misreading the tiny CD booklet print. Contrary to what I originally wrote, Will plays on the disc's last tracks: there are two sets of drums on cuts 15-17, though only one of 'em comes through clearly in the mix. My mistake has been corrected.
# |

Pop cultural criticism - plus the occasional egocentric socio/political commentary by Bill Sherman (popculturegadabout AT yahoo.com).

On Sale Now!
Measure by Measure:

A Romantic Romp with the Fat and Fabulous
By Rebecca Fox & William Sherman

(Available through Amazon)

Measure by Measure Web Page

Ask for These Fine Cultural Blogs & Journals by Name!

aaronneathery.com News
Aaron Neathery

American Sideshow Blow-Off
Marc Hartzman

Arf Lovers
Craig Yoe

Sean T. Collins

Barbers Blog
Wilson Barbers

The Bastard Machine
Tim Goodman

The Beat
Heidi MacDonald

Kevin Church

Big Fat Blog
Paul McAleer

Big Mouth Types Again
Evan Dorkin

Laura "Tegan" Gjovaag

Blog This, Pal!
Gordon Dymowski

Rod Lott

Cartoon Brew
Amid Amidi & Jerry Beck

Cartoon Web Log!
Daryl Cagle

Clea's Cave
Juana Moore-Overmyer

Collected Editions

The Comics Curmudgeon
Josh Fruhlinger

The Comics Reporter
Tom Spurgeon

Christopher Butcher

Comics Waiting Room
Marc Mason

Comics Worth Reading
Johanna Draper Carlson

a dragon dancing with the Buddha
Ben Varkentine


Electromatic Radio
Matt Appleyard Aaron Neathery


Eye of the Goof
Mr. Bali Hai

Fred Sez
Fred Hembeck

Greenbriar Picture Shows
John McElwee

The Groovy Age of Horror
Curt Purcell

The Hooded Utilitarian
Noah Berlatsky

Hooray for Captain Spaulding
Daniel Frank

The Horn Section

The House Next Door
Matt Zoller Seitz

Howling Curmudgeons
Greg Morrow & Friends

The Hurting
Tim O'Neil

I Am A Child of Television
Brent McKee

I Am NOT the Beastmaster
Marc Singer

In Sequence
Teresa Ortega

Innocent Bystander
Gary Sassaman

Irresponsible Pictures

Jog - The Blog
Joe McCulloch

The Johnny Bacardi Show
David Allen Jones

Dirk Deppey

King's Chronicles
Paul Dini

Let's You And Him Fight
One of the Jones Boys

Mah Two Cents
Tony Collett


Michael's Movie Palace

Nat's TV
Nat Gertler

Ned Sonntag


News from ME
Mark Evanier

No Rock&Roll Fun
Simon B

Omega Channel
Matt Bradshaw

Pen-Elayne on the Web
Elayne Riggs

Peter David

Dorian White

Progressive Ruin
Mike Sterling

Punk Rock Graffiti
Cindy Johnson & Autumn Meredith

Revoltin' Developments
Ken Cuperus

Marc Bernardin

Matt Hinrichs

Self-Styled Siren

Spatula Forum
Nik Dirga

Tales from the Longbox
Chris Mosby


The Third Banana
Aaron Neathery & Friends

Thrilling Days of Yesteryear
Ivan G. Shreve, Jr.

Toner Mishap
B2 et al

Trusty Plinko Stick
Bill Doughty

TV Barn
Aaron Barnhart et al

Unqualified Offerings
Jim Henley

Various And Sundry
Augie De Blieck

Video WatchBlog
Tim Lucas

When Fangirls Attack
Kalinara & Ragnell

X-Ray Spex
Will Pfeifer

Yet Another Comics Blog
Dave Carter

A Brief Political Disclaimer:

If this blog does not discuss a specific political issue or event, it is not because this writer finds said event politically inconvenient to acknowledge - it's simply because he's scatterbrained and irresponsible.

My Token List of Poli-Blogs:

Roy Edroso


Jane Hamsher

James Wolcott

Lance Mannion

The Moderate Voice
Joe Gandelman


Amanda Marcotte & Friends

The Sideshow
Avedon Carol

Skippy, the Bush Kangaroo

Talking Points Memo
Joshua Micah Marshall

This Modern World
Tom Tomorrow

Welcome to Shakesville
Melissa McEwan & Friends

Blogcritics: news and reviews
Site Feed

Powered by Blogger

    follow me on Twitter