Stiff Little Fingers: Inflammable Material (LP) 1979

Stiff Little Fingers
Inflammable Material
Rough Trade (1)


Rating: ***** (Good Shit)

Released February 1979 (UK only) reached #14 in UK

While this Belfast outfit started as Highway Star (named after Deep Purple’s best song), these teenage punks proved to be much more than another covers band, first with their classic debut single (“Suspect Device”/”Wasted Life”) released in 1978, and then this kick-ass long-player that housed both sides of the debut single along with a nonstop onslaught of classic cuts.
This is what rock and roll is supposed to sound like, youngsters playing their hearts out.  This is the greatest album ever recorded in Europe.  I might have said that before, and I might say it again, but it’s still the truth.
(author of Kalamazoo: Growing Up Sideways in the 1970s)

Les McCann: Invitation to Openness (1972) LP

Les McCann
Invitation To Openness
Atlantic (SD 1603)
Produced: Joel Dorn
Released: 1972
Rating: **** (Recommended) 
McCann’s definitive 1969 live set was a hard act to follow, but this date from the early 70s proved he still had a lot to say.  While the popularity of 1969’s “Compared To What” probably had something to do with his focus on vocals for some of the material that followed, this set sticks with the instrumentals, offering “The Lovers” as the centerpiece of this meeting, the side-long cut completely improvisation, the rhythm digging deeper into the groove as the thing progresses, Detroit’s Yusef Lateef bringing in some sounds from around the globe as he alternates between instruments, the guitarists also getting room to wind their licks into the groove.  The thing builds up to a near frenzy and then settles down just to build up again and climax like a multiple orgasm.  Get together with your lady or just turn out the lights, light up a number and lay back and enjoy this thing.
Side two sounds slightly anti-climatic after that opening, but flip her over and sink your needle into those grooves as well.  Some might not dig the electric funky playfulness of “Poo Pye McGoochie,” but others will find that it fits just fine, like going out to play after getting some loving from your woman (or your man).  Backed with a crackerjack team of musicians, McCann delivers the goods.  
Besides Lateef on sax, oboe, flute, plum blossom & bells, the set features two guitarists (Cornell Dupree & David Spinozza), two bassists (Bill Salter & Jimmy Rowser), and five percussionists (Bernard Purdie, Al Mouzon, Donald Dean, Buck Clarke, & Ralph McDonald).  McCann plays piano and Moog.
— winch
(author of Kalamazoo: Growing Up Sideways in the 1970s)

SHOES: Present Tense (record review)

Present Tense
Elektra (6E-244)
Producer: Mike Stone
Rating: **** (Recommended)
Second set from this Midwest outfit, released October 1979 (US & UK), reached #50 in the US
This band was bit like fellow Illinois rockers Cheap Trick except while Trick had heavy hard-rock leanings, this group leans the other way, sort of a mix of Trick and the Raspberries.  While everybody had to mention the Beatles influence, this clearly comes from the Midwest, sounding like they were influenced by many artists, including perhaps the Everly Brothers.  Of course, that group came from the early days of rock & roll, and showed elements of their Kentucky home, while this clearly comes from the “present tense,” the urban world of the late 70s.  The music is clean as the streets of a new subdivision.  

Some of the material leans deep into pop territory, but other cuts have enough to remind you that they were still a rock-and-roll band.  A couple of the cuts sound quite a bit like Cheap Trick, and other cuts almost hint back to the Beach Boys, but they have a sound all their own, and when it comes to polished power-pop, this is about as good as it gets.  Many bands tried to copycat this sound in the years and decades that followed, but most couldn’t pull it off like this outfit.
 The lineup included Jeff Murphy (guitar, vocals, songs), Skip Meyer (drums), Gary Klebe (guitar, vocals, songs), and John Murphy (bass, vocals, songs).

The Nerves: One Way Ticket (record review)

The Nerves
One Way Ticket
Alive Natural Sound (0090)
recorded:1976 – 1979
Rating: ***** (Good Shit)
This 2008 comp provides a comprehensive overview of this classic power-pop outfit, opening with two unreleased songs recorded for Bomp Records in 1977, “One Way Ticket” (Peter Case) and “Paper Dolls” (Jack Lee), the first number flipping the theme from “The Letter” by the Boxtops, this one focusing on leaving instead out trying to get to a woman, the similarity pointing out an influence on this outfit.  It’s a great song, killer start to this set, and Jack Lee’s contribution is equally cool.  Following that pair, the set offers the four songs from their only release, a 1976 E.P. from their own Nerves Records.  All of these four songs are good, especially the first two, Jack Lee’s original version of “Hanging On the Telephone” (later a hit for Blondie) and Peter Case’s “When You Find Out.”  The other two are good too, Paul Collins’s “Working Too Hard” looking back to the Beatles as well as foreshadowing his work with The Beat.  The set also includes two killer demos from 1976, Jack Lee’s “Stand Back and Take a Good Look” showing a Velvet Underground influence (or perhaps it was just influenced by the garage groups that influenced VU).  While “Many Roads To Follow” (Case-Collins) clearly fits in with the sound of this band, the acoustic sound makes it unique.  It’s clearly influenced by the Beatles, but it’s completely American, coming out of the more reflective side of 60s garage.  While reviewers often point out the DC5/Beatles influence on this band, this acoustic number reveals something that shows in all their songs, an influence that came from the States more than England.  This group might have gotten it from England, but England got it from Middle America in the first place, and this band brings it back home.  When I listen to the Nerves, I hear this band grabbing the baton from Alex Chilton.  

The set also features post-Nerves material from the late 70s and live cuts from the Nerves 1977 tour.  Some of these come across as almost filler, but the strong cuts are plentiful, more than enough to make this album a worthwhile grab.
This band splintered into the Plimsouls and the Beat, as well as other groups, and the sound heard here influenced countless artists.  The Nerves not only set an example that many followed, they also set a bar that most bands could only attempt to reach.
— Winch
(author of Kalamazoo: Growing Up Sideways in the 1970s)

Frank Zappa: Chunga’s Revenge (LP 1970)

Frank Zappa
Chunga’s Revenge
Reprise (2030)
Producer: Zappa
Rating: **** (Recommended)
Released November 1970 (US & UK)
While this still has plenty of his lunacy, Mr. Zappa started getting more focused in the 70s.  This album certainly has its share of annoying material, more griping about life on the road and such.  As if anybody could possible care about his problems as a rock star with loads of loose groupies, the portrait of the struggling artist and all that crap.  Fortunately, this also includes some of his strongest instrumentals to date, including the title track, “Transylvania Boogie,” and the brief “Twenty Small Cigars.”

 While half of this set is fairly forgettable, the other half makes this more than a worthwhile grab for fans.


The vocal cut “Sharleena” is an excellent addition to the Zappa catalog as well, with Frank returning to doo-wop for inspiration.  While half of this set is fairly forgettable, the other half makes this more than a worthwhile grab for fans.
Musicians include Aynsley Dunbar, Ian Underwood, Max Bennett, John Guerin, George Duke, Jeff Simmons, Sugar Cane Harris, and of course the Phlorescent Leech & Eddie (vocals).  Classic gatefold by Cal Schenkel.
— Winch
(author of Kalamazoo: Growing Up Sideways in the 1970s)
PS: I’m putting together a list of the best albums ever.  Any suggestions?

NRBQ: All Hopped Up (1977 LP)

All Hopped Up
Red Rooster 101 
Rating: **** (Recommended)
After releasing a steady stream of records for a few years (1969 – 1973), NRBQ took a break from issuing albums.  During this time, they continued recording, dates that ended up on this set–the first release on their own Red Rooster label.  

     While side one ain’t bad, the flipside is even better.  There, three of the four members each offer two songs.  The side opens with Al Anderson’s classic “Ridin’ in My Car.”  Like other NRBQ numbers, it has a charm that few groups could claim.  Anderson came aboard after the second album, and this cut proves how well he fit into the group, and/or how well this group could play his songs.  Following this cut, founding members Terry Adams (Kentucky) and Joey Stampinato (New York) each offer a song, both NRBQ essentials.  While those three cuts are hard to follow, the side is fairly solid from go to whoa, concluding with a unique take on the theme from the Bonanza TV show.
While this might not be as consistent as some of their albums, the strong cuts certainly make this another essential set for fans and a good introduction for strangers.  Quite simply, NRBQ is one of the best bands this world has ever seen.
— Winch (author of Kalamazoo: Growing Up Sideways in the 1970s)

J-O-B: High School Art Teacher

  I’ve had about 300 jobs, but this is one of the few that belongs on my GOOD SHIT blog.
Timeclocking with Winch
Issue #2: 
High School Art Teacher
(long-term sub assignment) 

I always start the day with a question to get the students thinking about important issues:  “A lot of the good bands had mascots.”  At least it seems that way.  “Screamin’ Jay had Henry, his skull on a stick.  Alice Cooper had his snake Yvonne.”

“Iron Maiden had Eddie the Head.”

“Exactly.”  Case closed.  “If you had a band, what mascot would you have?”

“My mascot would be the Michelin Man.”

“How come?”

“Cuz my band would be called the Michelin Men.”

“Awesome.  What about you Meagan?”

“My mascot for my band would be my man.”









“If you were trapped on an island and could only take three things, what would they be Meagan?”

“An Ipod and a boat.  And my man.”

“What about you, Tristan?”

“I’d take food, flint, TV, Meagan, a waterbed, music, duct tape and shoes.”

“What if you could only take three?”

“That’s easy.  Food, Meagan, and a waterbed.”

“Just the essentials, eh?”


“What about you Sally?”

“I’d take my girlfriend, some seeds, and a hut.”

“Excellent.”  That should do the trick.  “What about you Joe?”

“I’d take a gun, a survival knife, and a girl.”

“Uh-huh.”  I believe it.  “What about you, Hailey?”

“I’d bring a roll of duct tape, a bag of food, and bottle of nail polish.”

“Indeed.”  What’s life without nail polish.  “What about you, Jeremy?”

“I’d bring a fridge full of food, a lute, and a Toyota Celica.”



“Thanks.” That kid’s always got my back.








“You know Mr. Winch.  I feel like my goals in life are different than most people’s.”

“What’s your goals?”

“I just wanna ride a wild rhinoceros.  That’s it.”








“Anybody do anything interesting over the weekend?”

“I played a lot of video games and ate a lot of sweets.”

“Cool.  Anybody else?”

“Me and my friends had a Silly-String fight in the middle of the night.  All over the neighborhood.”

“Cool.”  That sounds like some good old-fashioned fun.  “Anybody else?”

“On Saturday night, this guy OD’ed on heroin in my kitchen.”

“He died?”









“Oh no.”

“You okay, Ashley?”

“I can’t stand up.”

“How come?”

“I think I just glued myself to my chair.”








“Check it out, Mr. Winch.  We’ve got mustaches.”

“Uh-huh.”  Thanks for sharing.

“Can I dip my bare feet in a bucket of paint and put footprints on the wall.”

“Sure.”  Why not.


“What’s she doin’?”

“Puttin’ footprints on the wall.”

“Can I do that too?”

“Go for it.”

“What about painting my eyeballs with acrylic paint?  Can I do that?”

“No way.”  That’s not a good idea.

“There’s no way that can hurt you.”

“That’s not true.”

“Yeah huh, I read that.”

“On the internet?”

“Where else.”
















“You know with the internet, there’s really no reason to have school no more.”

“Oh yeah?”

“Yeah, if you wanna know something, you just Google it.”

“But at school, you get to paint footprints on the artroom wall.”

“That’s true.”








“Can Ewalanii cut people’s hair?”

“Just clean up the mess.”

“Can she get art credit for it?”

“Sure.”  I don’t see why not.  “Just clean up the mess.”

“Of course.  We know what to do to make Winch happy so we can do what we want.”

“Good.”  I’m glad you figured that out.

“Just don’t play dubstep.  That makes Winch change into a different person.”

“I know, I’ve seen that happen.”








“Hey Mr. Winch.”


“Did you know that race car spelled backwards is race car?”

“Cool.”  When you’re subbing, you learn something new every day.









“You know what, Mr. Winch?”

“What’s that?”

“Bodily functions are hilarious.”

“Yep.”  That’s true.
















“What’s happening?”

“Nuh’un, Mr. Winch.  What’s up with you?”

“I dunno.”  Just checking on the progress of the projects.  “Whaddya up to?”

“Nothin’ too much.  I’m just trying to waste some time.”









“Does anybody want to learn calligraphy?”



“You got all the pens and stuff?”

“Yeah.”  I came prepared today.

“That’s sick, Mr. Winch.”

“Sick as in cool?”

“That’s right.  It’s tight.  Calligraphy is cool.”

“Want me to show you how to do it?”



“I’m not really interested in that.”















“Hey Jesi, what kinda chips are those?”










“Rowe sucked.”

“That’s what I said.”

“I hated that middle school.”

“Same here, I hated it too.  I got expelled two times at that school.”




























“Hey Mr. Winch, what was your favorite year of your life?”


“But it just got started.”









“I can’t picture a teacher havin’ fun outside of school.”

“Probably because that never happens.”

“That’s what I thought.”









“Mr. Winch, I need to talk to you.”

“What’s the deal?”

“I need to talk to you about your wife.”

“My wife?”  I don’t have a wife.

“She’s giving me too much work.”

“My wife?”

“Isn’t Mrs. Lynch your wife?”

“I don’t think so.”

“Oh, I thought she was.”

“Why’d you think that?”

“Your last names kinda sound the same.”

“But if we were married, they would be exactly the same.”

“Oh yeah.  That’s true.”








And then there’s parental involvement: “I dunno why all my kids have such a bad attitude about school.  I tell them that school is like a prison sentence.  You’ve just gotta do your time.”




















“I went to an Iron Butterfly concert last year.”

“Really?”  I can’t say I’ve done that.

“Man, those guys are old.”











“Jez, you scared me, Mr. Winch.  For a sec, I thought you were Jesus talking to me.”

















“Dang Dixon, you’re tripped out.”

“Dang Mike, I know that.”

“It seems like you’re high on drugs all the time.”

“I just did so many drugs in my life that it changed my personality.”

“But you’re not stoned right now?”

“No, but a stoned state of mind is like a permanent part of me.”


















“Mr. Winch, how many seasons are there?”

“Four.”  Last time I checked.

“I thought there was five.”

“Nope.”  Just four.  “Winter, spring, summer and fall.”

“But what about autumn?”

“Oh yeah.”  I forgot about that one.  “I guess that makes five.”

“That’s what I thought.”

“I’m glad you set me straight.”

“If you’re gonna be a teacher, you probably should know stuff like that.”






















“Hey Mr. Winch.”


“Thanks for being our art teacher.”

“No sweat.”  This kid stole my heart the moment I met her.

“Okay.  Hopefully I’ll see you later.”


“Are you gonna come back sometime?”

“Of course.”  This is my school.  “You’re not gettin’ rid of me that easy.”

“Okay good.  Gimme the deuce.”

“Huh?”  I have no idea what she’s talking about.  “Whaddya mean?”

“The deuce.”

“Oh.”  I get it.  “Peace out.”

















“I just want to let you all know how much I enjoyed this sub assignment.”  It was the best one so far.  “It wouldn’t have been the same without all you folks.”

“Yeah, it woulda been pretty boring without us, Mr. Winch.  It woulda just been a room with a bunch of chairs and tables.”

“Yep.”  That’s true.

“Mr. Winch.”


“Your dad must’ve been a real butthole.”

“Huh?”  I don’t think talking about my dad like that is appropriate.

“Your dad must’ve been a real butthole, cuz you’re the shit.”

“Oh.”  Thanks, Kayla.