a chalk mark on the ground…

 

Sometimes you just have to get down and dirty to cleanse the palate or mind of the shit that is spewing forth.

Dan Stuart and Chuck Prophet were in the grip of some serious problems when Al Kooper took a deep breath and decided to produce Scapegoats. At the time Green on Red IMG_3297.JPGwas just Chuck and Dan, the other members of the band over the years had been shed as things got harder and darker and more dangerous.

It’s an album that keep it light for the first two songs and then heads for the gutter. It’s the type of alcohol and drug fueled honky tonk boogie woogie music the great Orangoutang in charge never got with. The world may be a better place if the chief hunchmeister had hefted a six pack of Miller Lite and got down and dirty with Chuck and Dan.

So take a deep breath and head into the hinterlands of Chuck and Dans dark world of roosters, guns, graveyards, tears and dying lovers. There are tender moments here, and deep down you truly understand that when things are good that is the moment they will inevitably get darker. That love story will end up with the lover cleaning vomit and blood off the bathroom tiles eventually.

This is simultaneously a terrifying and comfortable record. It has the country vibe that is so familiar however the lyrics are dark, at times making Tonights the Night sound like nursery rhymes. This is a disquieting record, it’ll keep you awake at night, it’s drive you to play it again and live with it daily, it is cautionary and deep down we all wanted that rock and roll life.

All the way through it is Al Koopers organ holding things together as the main protagonists whirl out of control.

Baby loves her gun
for a little fun
she likes to drive nude at night,
shootin’ out street lights
baby loves her gun
It’s just a little one

 

 

yesterdays hazy, tomorrows a blur…

The dysfunctional 80’s have come full circle in more ways than one. The political ramifications of, well I am not going to bleat on, but we are currently experiencing the final outcome of dissolving the power of collective bargaining. In another full circle for me Dan Stuart has now drawn a line under his career maybe.

So I have been enjoying Dans music recently, actually since the first time I heard Green on Red I have been enjoying Dan’s music. It is some of the rawest, emotional and honest songwriting around.  Yes throughout most of the 80’s/90’s Dan and Green on Red were on the messier side of live performances, they could however be totally captivating in their own manic way.

Dan is now an older wiser but just as cynical on his new album the Unfortunate Demise of Marlowe Billings. He is in a reflective mood it seems, looking at his own past and his current situation. He has been forced into more of folk/songwriter than rock star, there I however a sense that he is ready to bust out the electric and rock it up at any time, maybe just waiting for the right invite.

 

rolled his eyes and puked his guts, there ain’t no free lunch today…

Beginning with the statement “we are the most professional band in the world” and then immediately descending into the murkiest psychedelic countrified mess achievable.

IMG_1076Yes it’s live with. no overdubs and may sound a little as if it is recorded with a pillow over the microphones at times but thats probably what they sounded like on the night. Before Uncle Tupelo became Wilco and Billy Bragg somehow won an Americana award there was Green on Red and the strangely named Paisley Underground. Or as my friend Dave used to say it’s what you get if Hank Williams joined The Damned. They may have actually founded the entire Americana genre along with The Long Ryders as an alternative to the pop country that was springing up in the 80’s.

Killers, alcoholics, addicts and road weary musicians inhabit the songs. Dan Stuarts voice sounds like it is living the stories he sings and Chuck Prophet’s guitar barely holds it together throughout the show. The rest of the band stumble along as if their lives depended on it or at least their sanity.

The album ends with a stumbling version of We Shall Overcome which in some way sounds like a statement more of desperation more than defiance.

It’s a pretty green and red vinyl too, not that that combination necessarily works together when they can bleed into each other though.

IMG_1075

 

 

We’re not freaks, we’re not hip…

There is something really comforting about a bands first record when it references almost every cliche from the sixties. Nasally vocals, swirly Augie Meyers organs, plinky pianos and 12 string guitars and self conscious lyrics as well as disjointed backing singing and the shifting tempos as the band gets excited halfway through the song.

16640562_10210377113978085_1001641991647560160_n

There is also something to be said for the almost innocent amateurism that shines through with every track. The seeming disbelief that someone is taking the time to record this and the vaguely seedy feel to the songs. Late nights, cheap booze and bad taco’s is the fodder of this album and it’s a good one.

The Green On Red saga continues, they may be one of my favorite memories of the 80’s.