Posts Tagged ‘Greg Shaw’

Review: Black Lips @ GAMH

8 October 2008
Chaos is the name of the game at a Black Lips show. Photo by dk.

The Great American Music Hall opened its hallowed doors Monday (and Tuesday) night for the lunacy of Atlanta’s Black Lips. It’s tempting to say that the Lips’ brand of garage-punk went out of style shortly after the 1972 release of Lenny Kaye’s famous Nuggets compilation, but in truth this kind of music has always lived in the margins of popular culture. It’s no coincidence that the Lips were mentored by Bomp! Records impresario Greg Shaw. The living legacy of Shaw’s musical vision was on display Monday night, and it was a sight to behold: pop music laced with the psychedelic fuzz of garage rock and performed with the frantic, anything-goes spirit of punk.

The gilded hall was about half full – to be expected considering the day of the week and the musical margins mentioned above. But this was no passive audience, content to sit back and nod along. More than half the people in the building were involved in a rather feisty mosh pit, and the energy on the floor was matched by the whirling dervishes on stage. When the band launched into ‘O Katrina!’ and ‘Bad Kids’ the stage became an ocean beach, pounded by wave upon wave of bodies. By the end of the night, that stage was littered with crushed beer cups, stray brassieres, a set of car keys, and a lone Chuck Taylor high top. Impressive damage for a crowd of about 300 people.

Black Lips are gloriously ragged, but there’s a method to their madness. Drummer Joe Bradley is steady as a rock, and bassist Jared “Hondo” Swilley is on point enough of the time to provide a solid bottom, freeing guitarists Cole Alexander and Ian St. Pe – and I swear I’m not making these names up – to wander off key, elicit feedback with their mic stands, or climb the speaker stack in a big floppy pilgrim hat. Late in their set, Alexander (the pilgrim) called to the stage hands “I’m tangled up real bad here.” He was talking about the myriad chords connected to his effect pedals, but could easily have been referring to his band’s psychedelic web of sound.

Who Put The Bomp!

31 January 2008

Bomp! - Saving The World One Record At A Time

Greg Shaw was some kind of music fan. As a teenager in the mid-60s, he helped found the fanzine Mojo Navigator – one of the first publications to present serious writing about rock music, and a prime inspiration upon the birth of Rolling Stone. During this time, he secured the first published interview with The Doors. After Mojo Navigator folded he partnered with future wife Suzy to start up the highly influential magazine Who Put The Bomp! (later known as simply Bomp!), which Shaw then spun off into Bomp! Records, his Los Angeles record store and label of the same name.

Shaw was a true believer in the healing powers of rock & roll, and one of the early champions of the ‘garage bands’ of the 1960′s. In his world, The Standells were as big as The Beatles, and The Seeds were greater than The Stones. Incredibly, he predicted in print that the sound of his beloved garage bands would lead to a mid-70s music revival, accurately describing the punk movement three years before it happened.

Bomp! Records produced albums by many punk and post-punk luminaries, including Iggy Pop, Devo, and The Dead Boys. Shaw: “I know how to find good music that isn’t getting any exposure, and I can give it a little bit of exposure, and that gives me more pleasure and satisfaction than anything else I can think of doing.” He worked tirelessly doing just that until his death in 2004, along the way providing a guiding hand in the careers of modern day fuzzmeisters such as The Black Keys and The Black Lips.

Bomp! – Saving The World One Record At A Time serves as a scrapbook of – and tribute to – Greg Shaw’s work. Here Suzy Shaw and Bomp! contributor Mick Farren compile highlights of Shaw’s various publications, from his beginnings as a Tolkien/Hobbit geek all the way up to the lost mockup of the final, previously unpublished issue of Bomp!. It’s all presented in facsimile form, so it feels like you’re flipping through the original publications. This is a revealing look at the essence of a guy who believed that “fans should have absolute control over the direction of rock & roll” and lived his life as an example of how to make it happen.

*****

[The double-disc collection Straight Outta Burbank: The Bomp! 25th Anniversary Collection is an excellent primer on the sounds that Greg Shaw loved and worked hard to champion.]

*****

Read the New York Times’ obituary for Greg Shaw.


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