Saturday, May 30, 2009


Don't cry, Anicka. The Hoffster doesn't sign for anybody.

ILLES, Ne Sirjatok Lanyok (Don't Cry, Girls) (Hungarian LP from 1973)

For crate diggers and the more adventurous psych funksters, the wonderful world of Hungarian rock has always been a daunting venture, kinda like renting a David Lynch movie. There are moments of pure brilliance; the trouble is wading through all the garbage to find ‘em. Illes has always been Hungary’s most rewarding band, probably because they were like big rock stars back home, the Budapest Beatles. They even released a White Album (technically called Human Rights), although they did it in 1971, long after the Beatles had ceased to be a working entity. And while none of Illes’ albums are as great as the REAL White Album, or even Rubber Soul for that matter, there are a handful of psych funk breakbeat gems on each one of ‘em. And since, through the magic of Ebay, you no longer have to book a flight to Budapest to rifle through Laci Bacsi’s smoke-filled vinyl storeroom just to find ‘em, it’s easier than ever to start diggin’.

This is Illes’ final album, 1973’s Ne Sirjatok, Lanyok (Don’t Cry, Girls). They’ve added synthesizer on this one, and finally turned to the funk (presumably to attract some young Lanyok), so there are some dancefloor-ready funk MONSTERS on here, along with some occasionally surprising robotic krautrock moves that we’ve never heard from these guys before. And if Illes’ earlier albums found them looking backward a lot, trying to catch up to what was done years before, Don’t Cry, Girls actually shows them to be ahead of the curve, at least when you consider the rest of Europe was busy making Jethro Tull and Emerson Lake & Palmer rich. The minimal robot-like funk dance beat of “Say What You Want” will remind you a lot of Kraftwerk, and you might even mistake the wriggly synth accents in the trippy minor-key psycho freakout “Yes” to be the work of some 60’s-obsessed neo-psych group like Bevis Frond.

But the best thing here by FAR is the utterly AMAZING “Crazy Girl.” It’s a blisteringly fast-paced freak funk breakbeat mother with fire-alarm synth and rolling T. Rex/Steve Peregrine Took hand drums, a big old fat chocolate sundae for percussion fans. Imagine an early 70’s Giorgio Moroder single mixed with the Normal’s “Warm Leatherette” and sprinkled with some Gap Band, and yeah, two of those references actually came later on the musical timeline! So how could a band trapped in the creative wilderness of Eastern Europe manage to be both behind the times and well ahead of them? Maybe because, in those years between 1971 and 1973, Illes stopped emulating their older heroes and started listening to their younger fans. It’s like the Knack once said. The old-heads might not like it. But the little Lanyok understand.

BEST SERVED WITH: Goulash and Elsa Pataky. Or, better yet, Goulash ON Elsa Pataky.

Monday, May 18, 2009


Robert Smith...

THE CURE, "A Few Hours After This..." (1985 B-side)

As promised, another Cure B-side from the "Inbetween Days" single, and another lost jewel that probably should have made it on to an album. This one finds Robert Smith jettisoning his entire band and working with only a string section, as an experiment that he later claimed "wasn't entirely successful." Well, I think it was. And it makes me wish he'd re-record "Disintegration" with the London Symphony Orchestra. Well, Robert, how 'bout it?

...and his dog.

Incidentally, with lyrics like "We can roll around and find out upside down" and "Squeeze me till I'm dry," not only is our boy Robby still happy, but downright FRISKY, if'n ya know what I mean. It's the 80's Goth equivalent of Robert Plant's "Squeeze my lemon baby, till the juice runs down my leg," although the thought of Robert Smith barechested in a leopard skin codpiece just made me dry heave. But hey, they're both Roberts, and they both had a pretty substantial mane of hair. And one of 'em once said "Does anyone remember laughter?" although it really applies to the other. Go figure.

THE SQUID POP METER SEZ: Another 10 out 10
BEST SERVED WITH: Chardonay and Anti-Depressants. Or maybe a mud shark and a groupie.

Thursday, May 14, 2009


A REAL exploding boy. No wonder it's such a feel-good song.

I wasn’t a nice person when I was a kid. I’ll be honest. I went to TWO Cure concerts back in the late 80’s and early 90’s (the Disintegration tour and the Wish tour) not so much because I loved the band, but moreso to make fun of all the freaky Living Dead Dolls who got dressed up in their black eyeliner Subbacultcha finest to be in the presence of the mummified corpse of their hero, Robert Smith (who, by that time, looked like he’d been feeding off several of his morguemates for a half dozen years). They put on a good show, sleepwalking through endless Kraftwerk trances like “Pictures of You” and “A Forest,” and Robert didn’t move much so he didn’t break a sweat. I think I wore a bright yellow shirt that day just to be different.

It wasn’t always that way with the Cure. For a period of about five years, somewhere between the bottomless suicide pit of “Pornography” and the creeping malaise of “Disintegration,” Robert Smith was downright happy. He wore fuzzy bear suits, glow in the dark paint, and sang practically giddy songs about cats, caterpillars and even going to bed with another HUMAN BEING! Our little Hot Topic boy was growing up, and even starting to mingle. Could a roller skating party be that far off?

Somewhere during Robert’s happy period, there also came an abundance of songwriting, where suddenly Cure singles came equipped with not one but two or even THREE B-sides, and they were even starting to put some thought into ‘em. “The Exploding Boy” comes from 1985’s “Inbetween Days” single, and you can tell – the similarity’s obvious. Both have the same strumming Spanish guitar rhythm, both have short, choppy verses with repeating lines, and both deal with leaving someone. (compare “Knew if I turned, I’d turn away from you, and I couldn’t look back” with “Go on, go on, just walk away”). Yet as good as “Inbetween Days” is (and for years it was my favorite Cure song – how imaginative, right?), “The Exploding Boy” is even BETTER – and that’s because of that warped, distorted, fucked up drunken saxophone that weaves in and out of the song like a psychedelic hornets nest. You can tell Robert’s happy – he even gets off a few grunts after each chorus – which, for him, is the equivalent of Howard Dean’s infamous campaign-ending shriek. “The Exploding Boy” is pretty much “Inbetween Days” on acid, which is always an improvement where music’s concerned (how do you think we got through Doors albums?), and not only is it the Cure’s BEST B-side, it damn well might be their best fucking SONG ever, and hardly anyone but the most die-hard Cure fans and Hot Topic Club members have even HEARD the damn thing. I don’t think they’ve ever played it live – nor do I think they even COULD – and it would’ve certainly livened up the proceedings on “Head on the Door” (“A nightmare of you, of death in the pool” – how’s about swapping THAT one for starters?). Here, for three minutes, the Cure put aside their “black is how I feel on the inside” persona and just sing for the sheer fucking joy of it. For three minutes, “The Exploding Boy” is the closest the Cure gets to unbridled, mind-altering bliss. Why, I betcha Robert was so happy during the recording session, he changed into a dark brown shirt.

SQUID POP METER SEZ: A perfect 10 out of 10
BEST SERVED WITH: That's easy. Pop Rocks and Coke. Bingo!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


This is NOT Lucifer's friend. It is, however, Lucifer's really REALLY annoying wing man.

LUCIFER'S FRIEND, "Ride the Sky"/"Horla" (German Vertigo label, 1970)
Between the screaming Valkyrie battle cry that opens this little black slab of insanity and the mastodon-in-heat mating call synthesizer shrieks that circle above, "Ride the Sky" has often been cited as the inspiration for Led Zeppelin's Valhallan epic "Immigrant Song." The two of 'em certainly SOUND like they could both summon up their own personal Ragnarok easily enough, but musically, I gotta admit - I hear more of Black Sabbath's "Paranoid" or early Deep Purple in THESE punishing psych metal grooves. The non-LP "Horla," meanwhile (not a tribute to the giant carpet-munching pinball-spewing mine demon from Star Trek's "Devil in the Dark"), is simply a good excuse to summon up a big ol' demon-worshipping guitar riff that's hairier than Fergie's armpits and then jam the living daylights out of it. Those searching for breaks will probably get some mileage out of a very cool bass and drum breakdown. Those searching for a cheap and easy way to peel the paint off your walls will find two sides of crushing hard rock that could only come from Satan's REAL friend. That sound you hear is the sound of Jimmy Page weeping.

BEST SERVED WITH: Andechser Doppelbock Dunkel and a shot of Jagermeister, sipped from inside a pentagram drawn with the blood of Abe Vigoda.