Homer Henderson – Lee Harvey Was A Friend Of Mine


Review by Cub Koda

To many, Homer Henderson is the country version of Weird Al Yankovic, writing and singing funny songs on a number of politically incorrect subjects. In reality, this is only one side of his musical makeup, an oeuvre that also encompasses hard Jimmy Reed-blues and electronica. This collection brings together all of Henderson’s early 45’s, issued on a number of small imprints in Texas. The emphasis is on the humorous side of Homer’s work, with such gems as “Pickin’ Up Beer Cans on the Highway,” “Lee Harvey Was a Friend of Mine,” “I Want a Date With a Cowboy Cheerleader,” “Nightclub Cancer,” and “Hillbilly Pecker” being counted in the lineup — all minor classics of dark humor. Liner notes from Nick Tosches, whom Henderson sometimes collaborates with, make this one fun package, with some solid music in between the laughs. If you’re looking for something different, look no further.

Pere Ubu – Heart Of Darkness


By Gregory Adams
Tim Wright, the founding bassist for Cleveland-area avant garde rock group Pere Ubu, died over the weekend of unspecified causes. The musician’s passing was announced earlier today (August 6) through former bandmate David Thomas’s Facebook.

“Tim Wright died Sunday, August 4 2013,” Thomas wrote, adding that he heard the news through Wright’s longtime partner Mary Ann Livchak. “He was an original member of Pere Ubu and later a contributor to the No Wave scene of New York City.”

Pere Ubu began in 1975, with Wright joining up with former Rocket from the Tombs members Thomas and Peter Laughner, as well as keyboardist Allen Ravenstine, guitarist Tom Herman and drummer Scott Krauss. Pere Ubu’s debut single “30 Seconds Over Tokyo”/”Heart of Darkness” was issued later that year. Wright left the group in 1978, before the band issued their debut LP The Modern Dance.

After his departure from Pere Ubu, Wright moved to New York and joined Arto Lindsay’s No Wave project DNA, playing with the act until it folded in 1982. After DNA, Wright composed material for Mission of Burma, Peter Murphy and Living Colour and worked in the studio with Dio and the Dixie Chicks, among other accomplishments. Wright also recorded solo LPs, with the last being 2008’s Behind Your Back Door.

Patti Smith – Gloria


Bearing probably the most famous opening line of the entire American punk scene — “Jesus died for somebody’s sins, but not mine” being every bit as corrosive a start as “I am an Antichrist/I am an anarchist” — Patti Smith’s complete re-imagining of the ’60s garage classic “Gloria” both sums up her entire persona and sets a standard that was so hard for the next generation of punks to live up to that most of them didn’t even try. More poetic than Jim Morrison, and far less prone to idiotic drunken rambling as well, Smith was the first mainstream rock and roll poet to deserve both sides of the appellation: the song’s first section, Smith’s own “In Excelsis Deo,” features some haunting imagery, but it’s also so rhythmically interesting that the shifts into and out of Van Morrison’s cocksure strut “Gloria” are utterly seamless. Further, Smith performs the oldie with more intensity, humor and openly sexual hunger than anyone since Morrison himself back in the days of Them, helped immensely by her stellar band, almost certainly the best group of musicians (Television was their only real competition) to unite under the rubric of punk.

The Darling Downs – Gather Round (Stomp it Down)


The Darling Downs stand out as the most unlikely of collaborations between longtime members of the fertile Australian rock scene. While it is not at all insane to imagine the driving force behind The Scientists, Beasts of Bourbon, and The Surrealists, Kim Salmon, working with Died Pretty’s energetic frontman and songwriter Ron Peno, the improbable happens when you consider the result that might flow from such a teaming.

Gary Stewart – Empty Glass (Live at Billy Bobs)


Stewart released the first live album of his career in 2003 with Live at Billy Bob’s Texas, an album that proved that despite his low profile he was still a formidable honky tonker. Stewart took his own life in December of 2003 following the death of his wife of 43 years in November. He was 59. His heyday was in the ’70s, but Gary Stewart deserved to be celebrated for his considerable talent, tenacity, and influence. While much of what passes for contemporary country music in the ’90s and 2000s sounds like reheated Eagles and Lynyrd Skynyrd, what’s really annoying is what a youth-driven market it has become, leaving many great country performers of the ’60s and ’70s out in the cold. This is especially irritating when considering the career of Gary Stewart, one of the greatest of the hardcore-honky tonk school who, at his peak in the mid- to late ’70s, could write and sing circles around just about any contemporary country star you could mention.