FMF Episode #32 – Guns

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DJ:  Ready, aim, fire.  Welcome to today’s FMF Episode all about the hottest topic in America right now, guns.  No other country in the world compares to the USA when it comes to guns, gun sales, gun deaths, school shootings, you name it.  Whether you like it or not the facts don’t lie; America has a gun fixation.  Today’s topic isn’t meant to stir up controversy, create heated arguments, or divide anybody further than they might be divided.  

Today’s theme is just bringing attention to how guns are connected within different genres, different mentalities, and different beliefs about them in the music world.  You’ll more than likely hear more anti-gun than pro-gun songs in the music world, because artistic people tend to lean a little more pacifistic overall, though there are always exceptions. 

To start off the show, we have Canadian punks The Rebel Spell with an assault of a track against rifles.  The Rebel Spell put out a few LPs and EPs before the tragic end of their tenure when lead singer Todd Serious died in a rock climbing accident.  Completely devastated, the band split after a few benefit shows following the news.  Fellow Canadians and FMF favorites Propagandhi covered this track in a tribute to Todd with profits going to Unistoten Camp and The Wildlife Defense League.  As Todd takes the first person perspective of the rifle, he reminds at the end of the track that “I am not leaving, and I am your fault”.  Powerful.  Rest in peace, Todd!

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DJ:  Yeah, sometimes we get weird and put all of the “The” bands together in one set.  The Breeders, not The Beatles, played us “Happiness Is A Warm Gun” from their 1990 LP Pod.  Kurt Cobain would go on to list it in his Top 50 by Nirvana list in his journal which we made a Companion Playlist for; check it out sometime! 

Neo-psych favorites The Black Angels reminded us “Don’t Play With Guns” in their track from 2013.  The band takes their name from The Velvet Underground’s track “The Black Angel’s Death Song”. 

We got a nice taste of ooze when The Cramps dropped by.  For how influential and unique the band is, “Bikini Girls With Machine Guns” was their only UK Top 40 single.  Mixing elements of old rockabilly acts like Link Wray and Ricky Nelson in with surf rock bands like The Ventures and adding a horror show aspect to it gave the band a one-of-a-kind sound.  The band split after lead singer Lux Interior died in 2009. 

On the topic of early punk, did you notice how similar “Machine Gun Etiquette” sounded to “I Am A Rifle”?  Almost like they were going for a certain vibe, yeah?  The Damned have long been hailed as punk pioneers and are known for being the first punk band to release a single in the UK with 1976’s “New Rose”.  Seems a bit redundant to brag about that in the punk world, but that’s just me.  1979’s Machine Gun Etiquette would end with “Smash It Up Parts 1 & 2”, the band’s unofficial anthem. 

Jumping into Set 2, we’ll hear from Johnny and about Johnny.  With more gun warnings coming from The Fabulous Johnny Cash; here’s “Don’t Take Your Guns To Town”.

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DJ:  Portland, Oregon veterans of the music scene Dead Moon cap off our 2nd set.  Dead Moon was hugely influential in the 90s resurgence of garage rock.  Dead Moon’s lead singer Fred Cole apparently used to use the original mono lathe that The Kingsmen used to record their version of “Louie, Louie” to master the band’s tracks.  On a random related note, The Kingsmen actually recorded “Louie, Louie” exactly 55 years ago today, on April 6th, 1963.  Dead Moon would go on to record 10 studio albums over the years, ending their run when Fred Cole died last year of liver failure. 

Junior Walker & The All Stars kept the soul moving after Har Mar’s Sam Cooke tribute song.  Junior played saxophone and might be the only real soul lead singer/sax player that I know of.  “Shotgun” was a massive hit for the band, and in 1965 it hit number one squeaking past Sam Cooke’s “Shake” and The Temptations’ “My Girl”.  Further connecting it to this playlist, later in 1965 Jimi Hendrix would play backing guitar for the duo Buddy & Stacy on Night Train.  The song they would cover? “Shotgun”.  We’ll get to more Jimi later on. 

The man that “Shotgun” overtook, Sam Cooke, was shot famously shot by Bertha Franklin in LA in 1964.  Whatever story you choose to believe, that he was justifiably murdered, murdered in cold-blood, or just in the wrong place and wrong time, the details of Sam’s shooting will forever be cloudy.  His reported last words were “Lady, You Shot Me”.  Minneapolis kimono-sporting underwear jockey Har Mar Superstar gave us one hell of a tribute to Sam, and continues to do so with his Sam Cooke tribute shows including a performance TONIGHT at The Dakota Jazz Club in Minneapolis.  It’s sold out, of course. 

A classic proto-punk track from Mission Of Burma followed our Cash intro with “That’s When I Reach For My Revolver”. 

Up next, we’ll be doing a little tribute to the musician, producer, songwriter, and Grammy-winner Tim (Timebomb) Armstrong.  Tim won a Grammy for co-writing P!nk’s single “Trouble” back in 2003 along with 7 other tracks on the album.  He’s also one of my favorite artists to watch live, as I have no damn idea how he plays notes accurately with his guitar at his shins.  Much love, Lint.  Here’s a set featuring side projects, solo works, produced works, ex-wives, and, well, Tim Armstrong.

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DJ:  Rancid always cited The Clash as being one of, if not their biggest influences.  When Tim produced Jimmy Cliff’s Grammy-winning LP Rebirth, he would help Jimmy record covers of Rancid’s “Ruby Soho” and The Clash‘s “Guns Of Brixton” along with co-writing multiple tracks.  Check back for another special set of The Clash in our upcoming “Crime & Punishment” FMF episode. 

Another Armstrong production, Hellcat Records alumni F-Minus’ “Final Bullet” preceded those smooth reggae vibes of Jimmy Cliff.  Tim started Hellcat with Bad Religion guitarist and Epitaph Records CEO Brett Gurewitz. 

Armstrong’s ex-wife Brody met Tim in Australia in 1995.  She moved to LA in 1997 to be with him and formed The Distillers the following year.  We played “Bullet And The Bullseye” from their sophomore album Sing, Sing Death House.  It’s a fantastic punk album, and it’s also a shame that Tim and Brody had such a rough and public divorce.  Brody is married to Queens Of The Stone Age frontman Josh Homme now and the two have three children.  I’m glad Brody settled was able to find happiness, however, I will say I think her punk music was way better than her solo stuff. 

The man-of-the-set himself, Tim Timebomb played us a ragtime cover of Rancid’s “Gunshot” from his solo single series. 

Up next is a tune from legendary songwriter Warren Zevon.  “Lawyers, Guns, And Money”, tells the story of an American traveler in South America and Cuba who runs into some real trouble and asks his dad to send “lawyers, guns, and money” to bail him out of the jam he’s in.  Sounds like a pretty bougie American thing to do, but not at all inconceivable! A bit later in the set, we’re featuring Orlon Gunner’s “Your Love Is A Gun” for this week’s Set 4 Score.  More on Orlon afterward, in the meantime here’s “Lawyers, Guns, And Money”.

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DJ:  Orlon Gunner is the pet project of Canadian artist Robert Bernard Armieri.  Robert is also the co-founder of Housecreep, a website that searches past crimes by addresses so you can see what kind of creepy stuff has happened in your neighborhood.  Yeah, no thanks.  Kudos for the concept, but I just don’t want to know!  A new album of material is expected late this year, so keep checking back to his website for more info! 

Before Orlon, we played some BoDiddley-inspired tracks and even Bo himself.  Kings Of Leon’s sophomore release was just as raucous and gritty as their debut, full of garage rock and blues riffs.  The album would launch them into fame and be the last of its kind with the band moving towards a more “accessible” rock sound.  We played “Pistol Of Fire” from the 2004 LP. 

After Kings, we heard Bo Diddley and his biographical beat featured in “Gun Slinger”.  The famous Bo Diddley drum beat can be found in numerous songs pre and post-Diddley’s career, but he absolutely made it his own and made it cool.  One, two, three…one, two!  Dan Auerbach formed The Arcs in 2014 after a solo project morphed into a full band.  They released Yours, Dreamily, in 2015 to much critical acclaim.  Instead of a follow up to an album, or even a follow up to The Black Keys’ Turn Blue, Dan decided to put out that solo album last year.  Waiting On A Song, Dan’s second solo effort, channels all kinds of retro sounds, from soul/funk to surf and garage rock. 

In our upcoming Bang Bang set, we’ll hear “that Kill Bill song” everyone knows, some Ty, and some Green Day playing us some punk music that isn’t necessarily tied to some form of rock-opera format.  Here’s Ol’ Blue Eyes‘ daughter Nancy with Billy Strange’s tremolo-laden guitar doing the Sonny & Cher track “Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)”.

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DJ:   Throwing it back to the 90s era Green Day, Billie Joe wrote “Bang Bang” when he was testing out his brand new studio.  Written from the point of view of a mass shooter, the song addresses the problems we’re dealing with in America right now.  Billie Joe described the song as “the most aggressive single we’ve ever had”. 

LA hardcore punk band The Bronx chimed in with “Guns Without Bullets” from their self-titled debut; the first of 5 self-titled albums.  The Bronx also performs as a mariachi style band as Mariachi El Bronx and has released 3 full lengths under the pseudonym. 

Garage rock mainstay Ty Segall played “Bullet Proof Nothing” from the 2010 Caesar single.  Ty’s full catalog finally hit Spotify with the addition of Drag City Records’ catalog; save for Joanna Newsom.  I can understand his argument for not streaming it, citing royalties for artists being weak.  I’ll continue to buy records from the artists’ online stores or shows to make up for the streaming. 

Wanda Jackson followed up Nancy with her 1967 track “This Gun Don’t Care”.  You can really tell what time period the song was recorded in, as Wanda was re-marketed as a country artists in the later 60s, but the track features that fuzzy rock guitar sound that Keith Richards so eloquently spread onto the world.  Jack White would produce Wanda’s comeback 2011 album The Party Ain’t Over with some of Nashville’s most talented musicians performing covers of classics. 

Alright, moving into our final set of the day, we hear Joe Strummer in the background.  Joe scored the soundtrack to the Alex Cox 1987 movie Walker, which we’re playing a tune from now.  Coming up, we’ll hear more from Joe with The Clash doing “Washington Bullets”.  This set ends with a 12-minute epic from Jimi, so prepare yourself.

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DJ:  Just unreal.  That guitar melts my ears every time I hear it and I just can’t comprehend its nature.  Gone too damn soon, for sure, Jimi.  Hear more from him on our 27 Club Companion Playlist

Before that incredible climax of a finale, Franz Ferdinand played us their single “Bullet” from their 4th LP, 2013’s Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action.   The band released their 5th LP in February of this year, moving towards a more electronic/dance sound.  Shocking, right?  I get that its fun to dance, and keeping up with the times is important, but it just seems like too many rock bands are gravitating towards that electronic sound.  Can we just have a damn drum kit already!?

Anyway, The Sonics of Seattle, Washington sang “Shot Down” from their garage rock staple Boom.  If you like that rough, gritty garage sound that we love to play here, that album is a must have. 

Usually, when we announce these themes, people jump right to a track that they’re reminded of.  Like when we did the Yeah episode, everyone I mentioned it to wanted that stupid Usher song on the playlist.  With today’s theme, I figure at least a few people would expect to hear Bob Marley & The Wailers doing “I Shot The Sheriff”.  Though known to many as an Eric Clapton track, this 1973 cut is about taking down that corrupt lawman that’s terrorizing your town and is still just as relevant today as ever.  No people should live in fear of the ones they’re paying to protect them. 

And on that note, we close our guns episode.  Ammo out, unloaded, safety on.  It’s time to relax!  Happy Friday and thanks for joining us on Feel Me Flow!  

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