“Dirt” – Spider Heart

Just discovered this incredible new band today, Spider Heart from San Francisco.  They could best be described as a cross between early Wire, the Stooges, Jane’s Addiction, Black Sabbath, and the Nymphs.  But even that description falls far short.  There are few bands that can be described as true originals and Spider Heart is one of them.   Lead singer May Black has been described as a cross between Iggy Pop and Janis Joplin and damn if that’s not an accurate assessment.  Except I would also throw Inger Lorre, Courtney Love, and Darby Crash into that mix.  This is authentically dangerous and thrilling music and if you like what you hear, do yourself a favor and check out their awesome EP “Dirt” available on iTunes and Google Play.  And of course, you can also enjoy them on Dave’s Strange Radio!

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“Jesus Don’t Want Me For a Sunbeam” – The Vaselines / Nirvana

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The Vaselines’ most famous song, mainly thanks to Nirvana’s memorable cover on their MTV Uplugged Live performance in 1993. Released in 1988 on the EP “Dying for It,” the song is a bitter answer to the traditional children’s hymn “Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam,” on par with XTC’s “Dear God” and Patti Smith’s psycho-sexual “Gloria” in terms of its anti-religious sentiment. However, “Sunbeam” may be more powerful because the music is so deceptively mellow, the lyrics hit like a fist. You can now find it on the excellent Sup Pop released compilation “The Way of the Vaselines.”

Oddly, the song is called “Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam” on all the Vaselines’ recordings even though the lyrics say “Jesus Don’t Want Me for a Sunbeam.” Nirvana’s cover is titled the same way as the lyrics.

I’ve included Nirvana’s version below:

Trivia note: Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love named their daughter Frances after the Vaselines’ Frances McKee.

“Clouds” … aka “Both Sides Now” – Hole

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Hole’s pulverising Velvet Underground-style cover of Joni Mitchell’s most famous song. From Hole’s 1991 debut album “Pretty on the Inside,” this will probably piss off a lot of fans of the original. I don’t think it approaches Judy Collins’s very famous cover version from 1968 (one of my Top 10 favorite songs of all time), but I have to give it up to Courtney and company for their original interpretation here.

“Bob and the Monster” (2011) dir. Keirda Bahruth

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Nowadays, most people know Bob Forrest as the counselor with the hat on numerous Dr. Drew Pinsky reality series (“Celebrity Rehab”). However, lesser known these days is that Forrest was also the leader of Thelonious Monster, one of the most highly-regarded alternative LA bands of the 1980s / 1990s. Along with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Jane’s Addiction, and Fishbone, Thelonious Monster was part of a vibrant and exciting Los Angeles music scene that didn’t involve hairspray and makeup.

Forrest and his band had several shots at the brass ring, including record deals with RCA and Capitol Records, but never broke through the way the Chili Peppers and Jane’s Addiction did, mainly due to Forrest’s excessive substance abuse. Forrest’s low points were extremely low, including washing a syringe in dish soap that an HIV-positive drug shooting buddy had just used because he did not have one at the time. Even Dr. Drew, who knew Forrest as a frequent guest on his nationally syndicated KROQ-FM talk show “Loveline” assumed Forrest was dead at one point.

But Forrest did manage to clean up. And after several humble years working as a dishwasher, started work in drug counseling, where he has had tremendous success helping addicts stay sober.

Forrest’s story is told in an excellent documentary called “Bob and the Monster.” The movie has been on the festival circuit since 2011, but is now reaching video with an added coda discussing events since 2011. “Monster” is not just a terrific time capsule of a great era in recent music history, but a compelling story about how anyone, no matter how low they’ve sunk, can turn their life around and make a tremendous difference in the lives of others. Featuring interviews with Anthony Kiedis, Flea, Courtney Love, Gibby Haynes, Keith Morris, and Steven Adler among many others.

Also highly recommended is Forrest’s autobiography “Running with Monsters” which has just been released as well.

Fun facts I learned about El Duce, the late lead singer of the Mentors, from Al Jourgensen’s autobiography “Ministry: The Lost Gospels According to Al Jourgensen”

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El Duce was the lead singer of the debauched punk-metal band The Mentors. They became notorious in the mid-1980s during the Congressional hearings over wicked rock music and were called “the worst of the worst” of all bands recording at the time. Lyrics from their song “Golden Showers” are part of the Congressional record: “Bend up and smell my anal vapor / Your face is my toilet paper.” Sorry, but that s–t is funny!

Here are some of the highlights about Ministry’s Al Jourgensen’s brief friendship with Duce during the late 1980s/early-mid 1990s. Considering how debauched Jourgensen’s autobiography gets, the fact that Duce outdebauched Jourgensen is really saying something.

1. Al Jourgensen first met El Duce on the floor of a bathroom in San Francisco, naked from the waist down, lying in a pack of Dorito chips and vomit. Duce announced to Jourgensen that he had gone to high school with Jourgensen’s drum player. Duce then pissed all over himself, threw up, and passed out in his vomit, urine, and Doritos. Jourgensen helped Duce get himself together and take him to reunite with his drummer. When his drummer saw Duce, he almost stormed out and bailed on the show. Apparently, Duce allegedly attacked his drummer’s sister.

2. Duce tried to have sex with Jourgensen’s mom … in front of Jourgensen’s stepdad. Duce said, “Hey, that’s a pretty hot little b—h,” tackled Jourgensen’s mom, and tried to hump her. Jourgensen had to stop him by breaking a beer bottle over Duce’s head.

3. Duce used to go into Walgreens and steal Listerine and Scope because they had alcohol in them. Unfortunately, he would drink the mouthwash in the store, pass out, and then get arrested for theft.

4. Duce got so drunk one night he passed out. Jourgensen and his bandmates put lipstick on him and dressed him in women’s lingerie. They left him underneath the ice machine of the hotel. When the maids discovered him, they freaked out and started hitting him with a mop and spraying him with cleaner. Duce looked down at himself and said “What are you hitting me for? I look godd–n good today!”

5. Duce and his band the Mentors got paid $20,000 in beer to record an album. They got so messed up they never got halfway through a song before passing out. To add insult to injury, they recorded the album on a microcassette (the type of tape that used to be in answering machines) and turned in the microcassette to the record label. I don’t believe that album was ever released.

This clip is from the infamous Nick Broomfield documentary “Kurt & Courtney” where Duce claimed that Courtney Love offered him $50,000 to “whack” Cobain. While Cobain conspiracy theorists believe that Duce’s subsequent death in 1997 was due to his admission of this plot, it was likely due to the types of things that happen when you’re a degenerate drunk and proud of it. Duce got demolished by a train when he was wasted and tried to play “chicken” with an oncoming train to impress some fans. Unfortunately, his leg got stuck on the track and realizing his death was imminent, continued to “Sieg Heil” the train before it demolished him.

By the way, Jourgensen’s autobiography “Ministry: The Lost Gospels According to Al Jourgensen” is simultaneously hilarious and horrifying. It’s one of the wildest rock and roll memoirs ever written and makes Motley Crue’s “The Dirt” look like “The Bridges of Madison County.”

“Celebrity Skin” – Hole

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Courtney Love has gotten an incredibly bad rap over the years. No matter what her association with Kurt Cobain (personal, professional, or otherwise), she’s a terrific artist in her own right and this song is proof positive of this.  A wonderful “f–k you” to everyone who thought she was riding in on the coattails of Cobain.  Love, love, love this song!!!!