Razorcake Podcast #38: With Russ Van Cleave

Jan 16, 2009

Razorcake Podcast #38: With Russ Van Cleave


1. Off With Their Heads - "I Am You" from From the Bottom (No Idea)
2. Delroy Wilson - "Better Must Come" from Trojan Jamaican Superstars Box Set (Trojan)
3. Drive-By Truckers - "Sinkhole" from Decoration Day (New West)
4. Beach Boys - "Wild Honey" from Wild Honey (Capitol)
5. ALL - "Can't Say" from Dot (Cruz)
6. Charlie Ryan - "Hot Rod Lincoln"
7. Clairmel - "Boots And Bras" from Boots And Bras (No Idea)
8. Spoke - "80 Percent" from All We Need Of Hell (Kung Fu Zombie/Allied)
9. Radon - "Wasting Time" from We Bare All (No Idea)
10. Joy Division - "Warsaw" from Substance 1977-1980 (Qwest)
11. Roland Kirk - "One Ton" from Volunteered Slavery (Rhino/Atlantic)
12. Fugazi - "Furniture" from Fugazi EP - dis129 (Dischord)
13. Blind Willie Johnson - "Dark Was The Night" from The Blues: A Smithsonian Collection Of Classic Blues Singers, Volume 1
14. The Dubliners - "The Old Triangle" from The Best Of The Dubliners (Epic/Legacy)

OFF WITH THEIR HEADS: Track 1, Side 1 off of "From The Bottom", the new album by the current champs of feel-bad rock and roll amongst the Razorcake set. This is the follow-up full-length to "Hospitals", 7"s and various comp songs. It did not disappoint.

DELROY WILSON: A classic early ‘70s cut from a reggae icon. I became curious about Delroy Wilson, a.k.a. "The Cool Operator," from his being mentioned in The Clash song, "White Man in Hammersmith Palais" and got into him from there.

DRIVE-BY TRUCKERS: I was really pleasantly surprised to see Drive-By Truckers-related items in some of the Top Fives in Razorcake an issue back and thought this would be a good opportunity to play one of my favorite tracks for some of you Razorcakers. My friend, Scott, got me into these guys several years ago and I've since become a pretty big fan of just about everything that them and Jason Isbell (now a solo artist) have done. Maybe it helps living down here where they seem to have a really strong following, but they definitely are a great live band and some of the best songwriters around to boot. Their full-lengths have a lot of material and knowing where to start can be a tough decision. My recommendations would be The Dirty South or Decoration Day.

BEACH BOYS: "Wild Honey" was recorded during the Beach Boys infamous post-Pet Sounds days when increased drug use and paranoid schizophrenia were beginning to get their hooks in Brian Wilson. This album marked a return to form, but kept the best elements of the experimental side of the Beach Boys. I thought the Beach Boys were an all sun, fun and girls pop band when I was a kid. Apparently, Ronald Reagan thought that was the case as well when he had them play at the White House in the ‘80s. This record is one of my favorite records ever, not just for how great it is, but for the misconceptions it started to unravel for me regarding what I thought the Beach Boys were all about. It also started to open my eyes to the musical brilliance of Brian and Co. during these years.

ALL: I've been an ALL fan for a good while and thought sandwiching them between two artists they've covered would be a great opportunity to play a great B-Side from the "Dot" single. Which brings us to...

CHARLIE RYAN: If this song sounds familiar, it may be because ALL covered it on Allroy's Revenge, a great record in its own right. I think the musicianship here is top notch, especially the way these guys emulate the different sound effects. That was a common thing to do in country music in the early days and I think this is one of the best examples. Charlie Ryan was an early rockabilly pioneer who performed on the Grand Ole Opry. He passed away earlier this year.

CLAIRMEL: The members of Clairmel have been mainstays of the Tampa and Gainesville music scenes for a good fifteen years now. In addition to Clairmel, members have also played in Don't Be One, Awake, M.A.Y., Dogs On Ice, Watson, and Vagina Sore Jr. Along with Spoke, Radon, Bombshell, Less Than Jake and the Doldrums, Clairmel was one of a handful of Gainesville bands to release some of the first 7" records on No Idea Records. They have an extensive discography which is certainly worth checking out if you've never heard them. An extended version of this song appeared as a hidden track at the end of their LP Fair Weather Fan.

SPOKE: I think everything that Spoke recorded is available on Done and All We Need of Hell. At the time of this writing, both are available on CD via No Idea for $1.99 each. Compared to Radon and Clairmel, it took me a little while longer to get into Spoke, but when I finally did I was hooked deep. Member Jon Resh wrote a great book about his experiences with Spoke called Amped: Notes from a Go-Nowhere Punk Band that is hysterical and further cemented my love for this band.

RADON: This has got to be one of the very best songs from a band that has written, in my humble opinion, at least a dozen absolutely timeless songs. Despite their obvious success around town, Radon never really pursued the band as a full-time touring venture. The words for this song were actually co-written by fellow Gainesville band dude, Jeff London, who sang with Fay Wray and King Friday. Radon released Metric Buttloads of Rock! They also still play together on occasion and have even been caught out of Gainesville a couple times in recent years.

JOY DIVISION: This is the first song on Joy Division’s very first release.

ROLAND KIRK: Also known as Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Kirk was a very influential late ‘60s jazz saxophonist who was well-known, not only for his great music, but also for his unique approach which is certainly evident here.

FUGAZI: This is a song from a later Fugazi EP.

BLIND WILLIE JOHNSON: I think I belabored the Blind Willie Johnson story via the microphone enough already. If you’re into old blues and country recordings and you start trying to find out about them, it’s really amazing to discover how many of these absolutely incredible artists either just disappeared altogether or went on to live a life full of poverty and misfortune.

THE DUBLINERS: It should be obvious after listening, but The Dubliners were a tremendous influence on The Pogues, as well as a great band in their own right. RIP Ronnie Drew.