As any serious collector of religious music will tell you, no one makes rockin’ records like rock-’n’-roll-hating gospel evangelists, particularly those who come strapped with catalogue-ordered electric guitars. Doubting Thomases with turntables need to check out the excellent vinyl-only compilation LifeIs A Problem released by Mississippi Records. Rev. Utah Smith’s heated opener, Take A Trip, is just a warm-up; sacred steel innovator Rev.Lonnie Farris gets down to roof-raising business with When The Saints Go Marching In, and SisterO.M. Terrell cranks up the intensity with the title track on the way to ElderCharles Beck’s heathen-ripping Rock ’N’ Roll Sermon, Pts. 1 and 2, and that’s only side one.
Should anyone require additional buying incentive, this limited-run LP comes with a fantastic bonus 7-inch of This Old World Is In A Terrible Condition by the prescient George “Bongo Joe” Coleman and his badly battered oil drum. Dopeness on wax.
Listening to the amazing Life Is A Problem set got me going back through some Jesus rock faves, and the one that stands tall above the pack is the NewCreation’s self-released Troubled album, reissued as a snazzy digi-pak disc by San Francisco’s CompanionRecords, which has built an impressive rep reissuing thrift-shop finds. A copy of the original generic-looking Troubled LP (pressed in an edition of 100 copies!) was evidently “discovered” in a second-hand shop back in 1988, and the Shaggs-meet-the-Velvets-in-church glories of the Vancouver trio quickly spread through the collector community, who went gaga over the apocalyptic vibe of the inspired “real people” performances.
Miraculously enough, this reissue helped reconnect the New Creation’s Chris and LornaTowers with drumming pal from Toronto Janet Tiessen, who then recorded a delightfully doomy new album, A Unique Disaster, which is also available through the Companion site. Amen. www.companionrecords.com
Attack of the instro-hipsters
As with every other compilation Nick Saloman (of Bevis Frond infamy) has assembled for PsychicCircle, his second set of instrumental groovers, Return Of TheInstro-Hipsters, Vol. 2 has a couple of certified corkers, some great tracks you’ll already know and probably own, padded out with some ho-hum obscurities that make for a pleasant listen but are ultimately forgettable.
The interesting twist here is that Saloman ventures beyond the late 60s and early 70s freakbeat and prog-pysch stuff he knows best, with enjoyable results. He includes a few dance-floor jazz scene gems like HaroldMcNair’s growling floor-filler, The Hipster, Tony Newman’s swank Soul Thing and KennyClare’s skin-bashing Hum Drum, but the real surprises are SoundsSensational’s Night Cry (lifted from the B-side of Paul McCartney’s Love In The Open Air, a little-known tune from the soundtrack of The Family Way), and the JohnnyHarris Orchestra’s theme song to Britpop star Lulu’s short-lived TV variety show, cleverly titled Lulu’s Theme. Charming. www.soundlinkmusic.com