Monday, April 9, 2012

New Wave for the New Week #149

Back in the '80s, there was a nifty little punk rock record shop here in Lancaster called Web Of Sound.  It was one of three havens for finding underground music in town - The Web was geared more towards the sixtiesish garage-y punk bands of the mid-decade who worshiped at the alter of The Seeds, after whose legendary 1966 album the store was named; BBC Records catered more to the New Wave hairspray kids chasing down the newest Smiths imports; Stan's Record Bar had a storefront on North Prince Street since my Mom bought her Elvis Presley singles there as a kid, and seemed to have at least one copy of everything you could think of (and if they didn't, they'd order it for you) - especially those even-then ridiculously high-priced colored vinyl punk 7-inches.

Stan's is the only one still standing, but The Web in its heyday was not just a record shop, but also a gathering place for the local scenesters, and, a place where you could get Bill or John or Rex behind the counter to play a record for you.  Not just a snippet of a song or two so you can decide if you want to buy it, but actually play the whole damn record!  And so it was that on one slow Sunday afternoon, hanging out at Web Of Sound, that I convinced Rex to spin Breakfast With The Holes by Les Black's Amazing Pink Holes.

Les Black and his band (Cheese Borger on bass, Kurt Turd on guitar, and Freddy Pants on drums) started making noise on the Cleveland scene around 1980, and quickly became known as one of those bands you either loved or hated.  Proficiency in musicianship was never important to The Pink Holes; they were snarky, foul-mouthed brats whose lives were steeped in punk rock and pop culture.  Had they picked up spray paint cans instead of instruments, they would have vandalized the neighborhood in extremely sloppy but wickedly funny graffiti.  Instead, they played extremely sloppy but wickedly funny music.

They released two records on their own Eldo Farms label. 1984's We're Glad We Are What We Are presented The Pink Holes to the world with a side of studio recordings and a side recorded live at a New Year's Eve gig at The Lakefront in Cleveland.  Both sides contain more covers than originals.  The originals make it clear that high art is not the aim here - consider "I.A.G.A.H. (I Ain't Got A Head)," the title track in which each member takes a turn rhyming his name with something foul, or the classic "More," in which we are directed to "..drink more liquids and eat more shit" because that's what we do every day.  Sure it's juvenile and stupid, but it's also fun and hysterical.

It's in their choices for songs to cover, though, that Les Black's Amazing Pink Holes really hit their mark.  Early on, a fairly straightforward (well, as straightforward as The Pink Holes can get) cover of "Ring Of Fire" belies what can happen to a song when these guys decide to gut it.  They slop through a killer rendition of the theme song from "Land Of The Lost;" The Shangri-La's "Heaven Only Knows" gets a snickering run through; "Proof Is On The Pad" is, in fact, the old Stridex jingle.  And it's worth the price of admission to stick around for their unlisted version of "Cum On Feel The Noize," which they seem to be making up on the spot.

Better still is the record that introduced my ears to the band, 1985's Breakfast With The Holes.  A six-song EP that boasts a free toy surprise inside on the front cover, Breakfast eviscerates "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" and "Long Tall Texan," celebrates Brooke Shields, explains the band's name in under a minute, and commits to vinyl the most uncomfortably funny Oedipal complex imaginable.  The whole thing closes out with the bizarre but wonderful "Baseball Park Fun," and a secret backtracked message that really only makes sense on vinyl.  Brilliant.

Although the band has soldiered on for going on three decades, they released nothing else until 2004, when an odd single showed up: Les Black's Amazing Pink Holes with Herschell Gordon Lewis on vocals (!) performing the theme to Lewis' 1964 splatter flick 2000 Maniacs!  To add to the oddness of this sudden release, of which 2000 were pressed (of course), the vinyl is actually a 6-inch single rather than the traditional 7-inch, and was pressed on splattered vinyl.

Both of the original Pink Holes records were reissued in 2000 on the SmogVeil label with bonus tracks.  Breakfast With Holes appends several early demo recordings, while the slightly retitled We're Glad We Are What We Are Revisited offers the full live show from which the original album's second side was culled.

For this week's NW4NW entry, enjoy two clips from Les Black's Amazing Pink Holes.  First up, a very early (circa 1980) video for "Proof Is On The Pad."  Then, The Pink Holes with Herschell Gordon Lewis on "2000 Maniacs."  Enjoy!

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