Monday, 31 August 2009
The Walking Seeds - Bad Orb, Whirling Ball (Paperhouse 1990)
This is the first of a bunch of occassional Shimmy Disc related posts. Shimmy Disc was a hugely influential New York record label that released a dizzyling variety of psychedelic/folk/noise/outsider sounds from 1987 until people stopped paying attention in the mid-'90s. SOme of the most popular acts they worked with included the legendary Bongwater, King Missile (Dog Fly Religion), Jad Fair, Lida Husik, B.A.L.L., Shockabilly, Galaxie 500, Ween, the list goes on and on.
Bad Orb, Whirling Ball wasn't released on Shimmy Disc in the UK, but this great album was produced by Kramer and is a fantastic example of the Shimmy Disc neo-psych sound.
The Walking Seeds were from Liverpool and their grungey wall of fuzzed out rock 'n' roll made them one of the most exciting UK bands of the period. Their live shows were a howling mess of feedback and wah wah, beer and sweat, properly euphoric affairs. Here's what Julian Cope's fantastic Head Heritage website has to say about this great album:
"Every good thing in the World was invented in Liverpool.... ask any Liverpudlian and they'll tell you. Humour, football,fashion, culture ... all invented in Liverpool. Another thing they invented was "Grunge" music. Yes, in 1986, a good year or two before Sub Pop, hairy Liverpool beat combo The Walkingseeds produced a debut LP (on Probe records) of loud, fuzzy, demented evil genius. This LP marked a watershed and was almost certainly exported in numbers to Seattle - it mangled The Fugs and Blue Cheer with punk rock and set the tone for things to come. The album is called "Skullfuck" and I think you can buy it on reissue from Godbless records (or just ask the girl at the counter in Woolworths!). Of course, the British music press ignored them, first in favour of shoe gazing art school boys and then later the very American bands who owed most to Liverpools finest (I'm talking Mudhoney, Nirvana, Tad,etc) but The Walkingseeds walked on, losing some personnel to The La's, getting a second album out (1989's "Down wind of atonement.."), to some acclaim, on Glass records, and then, in 1990, releasing what for many is their defining work "Bad Orb...". Like "Downwind..." before it, this album is produced by the great Kramer and also features contributions from Sonic Youth associate and sometime Dinosaur Jr. member Don Fleming, but even without their stirling efforts this album would have been brilliant! Imagine an album where the vocals are bellowed, like on Floyd's "Nile Song", all the way through so you can actually hear the singer (Frank) going hoarse (and all in that american accent that only people from the north west of England can do!), an album of malign, choppy cosmic fuzz that Killing Joke would have died for, an album that twists American delta blues and English folk shanties into strange psychedelic vistas that far better musicians can only dream of!....... Imagine all this and you can probably hear The Walkingseeds! Hell, they even relieve themselves on the bloated corpse of The Beatles, turning in a cover of "She said, she said" which is both frazzled and spot on. "Bad orb..." is a relentless,cathartic, pysch-rock album that spins with malice towards it's final conclusion ... "You're not fit to live in normal society..." hollers Frank on the final track, harking back to their grizzled debut and paying tribute to the few strange werewolf misfits who liked 'em back then. Get this album, and if you like it then look for the other stuff. They went on to do a mini ("Dwarf") LP called "Sensory Deprevation Chamber Quartet" which was produced by The Bevis Frond (and good it is too) plus a lo fi live album called "Earth is Hell". A band this evil couldn't last and unfortunately they split amid recriminations and genuine heartfelt on-stage violence during the early 90's. Ah, The Summer of Love .... that was invented in Liverpool you know. P.S. After the split bassist Lee Webster (by far the most accomplished musician in the band) went on to form an outfit called Froth and then later Rhombus of Doom, while Frank Martin (Intelligent lyricist/great singer) and Bob Parker (guitar) formed a band called The Del Bloods. Stuff may still be available from both these bands. Tony Mogan was a decent drummer but I don't know what happened next for him."
Unfortunately, there's no live footage of the band available anywhere on the net, so here's a little taste of the album:
01 The Gates of Freedom
02 Weight of these Years
03 Mortal Blues
04 Broken Cup
05 He Said, She Said
06 Peter's Trip
07 Caged Beatnik
08 World's OK
Get it HERE.