So when I started this documentary project on the Sound Station last summer in 2011 it was really to celebrate something that was pretty unique to my dear old town of Westfield, New Jersey. The hope is that this story turns into a comeback for a little cultural mecca that was just starting to gets it’s legs back. Embraced by the local NJ music scene like The Court Tavern was this was just another unexpected blow. The record store was going through a resurgence finding their audience on facebook and throwing free shows they were able to stick their heads-out from the recession but nothing could prepare them for this. This is a place where there was always a steady diet of discovery of all sorts of genres funk, jazz, soul, hip-hop or whatever your discerning rock taste was into. Chances are Bob would always have a recommendation for you and if he didn’t I was usually was just happy to be able to walk into the place and talk about music — music therapy. Just knowing the place was there gave musicians and music fans like myself comfort.
Ava shopping for records at the Sound Station
Anyway, most of you reading this already know this but for the one’s that have not stepped into a record in years. Maybe it’s time to consider stepping into one because it’s a sort of experience that can’t be replicated. My hope is that this short inspires you in some way and we can do an update as the tale unfolds. Stay tuned!
Just one of many amazing Blues, Soul and Funk records I found at Sound Station
Music to discover or rediscover: Problems MP3 by Lee Fields & The Expressions Greasy Spoon MP3 by Mel Brown from Chicken Fat Radio MP3 by Raphael Saadiq from Stone Rollin’ One More Night MP3 by CAN from Ege Bamyasi Black Snake MP3 by Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears from Scandalous
All towns have stories. Sometimes it’s just nice historical folklore or a tale about some out of the ordinary or weird thing somebody did. These are songs that remind me of the suburban town Westfield NJ. This could be your town.
West Of The Fields MP3 by R.E.M. from Murmur I always considered this my hometown’s theme song but always at the same time I wondered where the fields were? Since we only have sports fields and no wheat or corn anywhere. It’s freaking suburbia where the MILF’s run wild in their black suburbans and kids jockey for overpriced educations. It’s mostly a young republican mill except for small subculture that makes it bearable.
The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy) MP3 By Simon & Garfunkel. Ok So speaking of class systems. Us alternative kids referred to the preppy 80’s rich kids in our high school or wanna bes with the upturned polo collars as “Groovies”. I think it was Susan Fried who repurposed the term in 85′ or so (or at least I heard her say it first) and it caught on pretty quick and they started calling themselves Groovies themselves. oh “the irony my snossages” as my HS English teacher Mr. Barner would say. We were making fun of them since they were all John Hughes characters. We would hear shit in the halls like “Did you hear about the [insert groovie name here] party this weekend? or did you hear about such and such groovie chick gave groovie jock a BJ last night” etc, etc. We phrased it sarcastically like it sounds in this song all spacey and shit and created a pretty obvious line between the alternative punk kids and them. For Whom The Bell Tolls MP3 by Metallica slowed down to 33 1/3. Hilarious. Sound totally what the black psyche metal kids are into these days.
Quick Chek Baby MP3 by the band DUH. DUH were a punk band of which half were from Westfield and New Brunswick NJ. This is a track from their album/cassette demo which I called Trout I even made an album cover because of the last track of the same name and first song called “Fish House Row”. This tune directly references and describes Maulers which was the term we used for the heavy metal kids who hung out at the 7-11 type quick stops and malls and drove down the shore a lot, smoked Marlboro Lights and went to LaMours or at least as described in this song. Sort of derogatory since it’s slang and means not upper class or brass knuckles. These were the long hairs who wore tight white washed jeans and drove Cameros. Now it’s all fucked up because of that other Jersey Shore show but whatever that element is not worthy of a song. The music they like was awesome because it resembled some of thrash the skater kids liked so we invited them to our outcast parties and wrote songs about them.
Devil Town MP3 by Daniel Johnston from 1990 All towns have their demons. My town had the famous John List murders where he offed his family and resettled down south only to be found after the debut of America’s Most Wanted. The day of the show back in 1989 we all got together and watched from a house right around the corner where the gruesome scene took place some 18 years before where he shot his wife and three children with .22 caliber gun. A year after the murders the house mysteriously burned down. Crazy Train (cover) MP3 by Pat Boone from In A Metal Mood.
Come Home MP3 by The Dismemberment Plan from their record Change. This band’s music always reminds me of vacant streets at night. DC in particular where there is barely anybody milling about. Concrete.
Suburbia MP3 from the 1984 movie soundtrack composed by Alex Gibson. This is some lonely shit. In highschool we must had watched this movie and Repo Man 100 times each. Sometimes just looping them again and again back to back. We were white advantaged punks trying to get a clue. You could not make a movie like this today. The TR (or The Rejected) gave us a framework as we didn’t have it even 1/10 as bad mostly. Got a burn man?
This was fun. We’ll probably work on a Part II. There is always a story to tell.
Record Collecting: Another journey to the Sound Station in Westfield another batch of scores all in one fell swoop!
Man I heart Truth and Soul records. Fallin’ Off The Reel III is a great archeological compilation with groovy space jams by Cosmic Force, the wah wah love of Timothy McNealy, and some truly great bass playing by Black Velvet. This shit is hotter than lava. Also on here is soul-tastic Lee Fields & Explorers. All the tracks are great if you want some funk/soul tasters. You should take a bite out of this one.
If your a fan of this re-insurgence of psychedelic rock music of the Black Angels variety then you should pay attention to these Bay Area mystics and check out the space-outs music of Lumerians. All their jams occur on the far away planet of Transmalinnia which is like distorted pompeii keyboard trip that will make your eardrums vibrate. Except is one or two notches louder and could easily knock down any arena.
Way back in the mid-80’s there was a great local alternative band called Animation that borrowed from Echo and The Bunnymen, Lou reed and whatever was hip at the time. The town benefited from having a pretty decent local record shop called the Music Staff. Life was good. Animation’s release Loud Day had everything; a great intro song with a stomping bass part promised you that the rest would be great and it was with suburban themes and a cover of The Velvet Underground. It didn’t get any cooler. Ok maybe, I’m lying. Westfield High School in the 80’s was not a normal place when I think about it. One of the school clubs was called the Young Leftist and another one The Radical Rock Reactionaries (RRR) that was found by the Margulis Brother’s Oren (88) and Gil(86). They put on shows and is where I got my taste of original live music not just attendee but as a musician. i was part of the scene and where i got to know the Don, Jerry and Bob from the Whirling Dervishes (pictured) – i probably saw them play more times than I can count. The good thing it was great every time. One of the bands RRR got to play early on was Animation who originated black T-shirt as far as I was concerned. Other bands that made appearances for RRR were Hoboken’s Tiny Lights, Das Damen (SST), the Whirling Dervishes of course, Spiral Jetty, The Unemployed (haha a one off band of mine) and Psychic Fair (WHS 86-88). There were probably others and maybe I’ll remember them later but in the meantime here are some selects by said “local” bands that enriched my life and introduced me to whole other world of alternative music. Another band that was in a parallel music universe to Westfield was Skunk from Maplewood, NJ. Enjoy. More later.
New Jersey yielded some great hardcore, Thrash and punk bands in the 80’s. One of them was a band called DUH with ties to Westfield, NJ which featured drummer Ben Forgash and guys from Rutgers( think one was named was just “J”?) I can’t remember exactly. Anyway, I’m not even sure that this 11 song record was called Trout (I made that shit up but it seems appropriate). Whatever the case here are 11 tracks I made from a cassette I had of their full length demo lp. I saw them play a few times in high-school and I always thought they were sort of goofy and sometimes akin to the philly band that did bitch’ camero. These guys wrote songs and goofed very sarcastically about fishing, Apex tech and Quick Chek (making fun of jersey maulers chicks with lots of hair spray). Your normal white suburban textbook theme i guess looking back at the songs now.
01 Fish House Road 02 Poison Ivy 03 Put the mask on 04 oeieoeo 05 Swamp Thing 06 Chopping up your friends 07 New by Ronko 08 Anaconda 09 Quick Chek Baby [ Download mp3 ] This is a WRSU classic 10 Apex Tech [ Download mp3 ] 11 Trout
I’ve also discovered a great list of older thrash/Hardcore by Dirge and Ripping Corpse, etc up on FB the other day. You’ll find old demos and out of print 7 inches and lps and some hilarious photos. Check out NJHC Jerseyshore reunion group. later.