Following the passing of glam magnate Kim Fowley earlier this week, Zak Olsen from The Frowning Clouds takes us through some of his favourite musical fatalities of the twenty-first century – from Beefheart to Bo and beyond.
My favourite Kim Fowley song is ‘I Hate You’ off International Heroes. For some reason this album seems like his most ‘serious’ one and even then he’s kind of doing a Bowie piss-take. Unleash the beast.
Kevin Ayers was in The Soft Machine and then he ditched ’em ’cause he had his own fish to fry, and he offered up quite a buffet. My favourite song of his is probably ‘Town Feeling’. He wrote a sweet song on the first Soft Machine album called ‘We Did It Again’ too. Such a dude.
Seriously, such an overlooked shredder. His proto-psych jam ‘Spanish Guitar’ has some crazy overdriven/feedback guitar and Arabian sounding scales. It honestly sounds like some west coast 60s band trying to do a ‘raga’. ‘I Can Tell’, ‘I’m Sorry’, ‘Here ‘Tis’, ‘Cops ‘n’ Robbers’: all awesome songs.
Too many songs to choose from but maybe ‘The Ostrich’ by The Primitives, who were one of Reed’s bands prior to The Velvet Underground. He worked for a songwriting firm and had to make cheap records that imitated the hits of the day. I think ‘The Ostrich’ is like his version of ‘The Twist’. He also tunes every string on his guitar to the same key on this song. Also a shredder.
Syd Barrett/Nick Mason
Put these two together cause they’re both in Pink Floyd. Obviously Nick Mason didn’t have the raw song writing chops like Barrett but he was still really really good and would prove that later. They sing really well together and it’s hard to choose one Pink Floyd song but maybe ‘Flaming’ or ‘Echos’.
Joey/Dee Dee/Johnny/Tommy Ramone
Ramones are the best, here’s ten reasons why:
‘Commando’, ‘Havana Affair’, ‘Today Your Love/Tomorrow The World’, ‘What’s Your Game?’, ‘Danny Says’, ‘I Remember You’, ‘Here Today, Gone Tomorrow’, ‘I Don’t Care’, ‘Swallow My Pride’, ‘I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend’.
King of pop, demo version of ‘Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough’ is beyond human. You could tell it was going to be a hit straight up.
Dickie Peterson (Blue Cheer)
When Blue Cheer tried to record their second album, the engineer said they were way too loud for the studio, so they packed up their gear and set up on some wharf in San Fran and recorded it outside instead. Cool. Can’t really go past their slaughtering of ‘Summertime Blues’. Jimi Hendrix hated them too, I don’t know why but thats also cool.
I heard his solo stuff before Big Star. The album Like Flies on Sherbet is a ramshackle album done really quickly with no rehearsing and it’s half covers. The originals on it are amazing though and my favourite is the song ‘Like Flies on Sherbet’. By this stage Chilton was disillusioned with the music industry because he wrote two extremely commercial albums in Big Star and no one gave a shit. He was then influenced by the ‘new’ punk thing and did some lo-fi kinda stuff which I think is cool.
Apparently Beefheart used to starve his band of food and sleep as a way to try and gain ‘control’ over them. Obviously this is cruel but he got some good results and in the end who cares if a couple of feelings were hurt in the process of really making some true ground breaking shit. So many good songs – ‘Moody Liz’ and ‘Beatle Bones’ are some of my favourites.
The Troggs are cool because they’re four tradey blokes from nowhere England and accidentally somehow had a hit with idiocy which is ‘Wild Thing’. Again, they have so many good songs but ‘Maybe The Madman’ or ‘Give It To Me’ or ‘Girl In Black’. I think they’re like the Ramones of the 60s. Good simple rock’n’roll.
Alan Myers was the drummer of Devo. I read that in the early days of Devo they used to tie one hand behind his back at rehearsal and he’d learn the songs like that so it would eliminate typical drum rolls and give it more of a robotic vibe. Then he’d untie his arm and have a whole extra arm to drum with! One of my favourite Devo songs is ‘Shrivel Up’.
The Frowning Clouds will perform tomorrow night at The Shadow Electric with The Living Eyes, Contrast and Zig Zag. Their latest album Legalize Everything is out now via Rice Is Nice.