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The Godawful Nymphs

I’m currently reading Keith Morris’ highly entertaining memoir “MY DAMAGE”. He’s a legendary gadfly and roustabout who sang for Black Flag, Circle Jerks and a variety of lesser lights, and he’s been a man on the quote-unquote scene in Los Angeles for four decades.

I’ve just finished the part that takes place in the late 80s, in which Morris gets sober and tries his hand at “managing” a couple of LA soon-to-be buzz bands, The Hangmen and The Nymphs. Ah yes, The Nymphs.

What a train wreck. I saw them play at the Anti-Club in LA around 1988 or ‘89, opening for someone I’d come to see whom I’ve now forgotten, and was sort of excited to check them out because Manfred Hofer of The Leaving Trains was in the band.

Their frontwoman was an instantly unlikable – if gorgeous – prima donna named Inger Lorre. She’s popped up in rock scene tell-alls of various sorts since then, starring in her own depraved 90s passion play of LA sleaze, drug abuse and reputation-chasing. She and the band were less than zero at the time, not even a buzz band yet, and yet she strutted & preened & vamped her way through a couple of songs before everything totally imploded.

She started screaming at the guys in her band, for what transgression I don’t know – and then stomped off the stage. They coaxed her back, and they started another song, and then in the middle she just lost it, and went off on the band again. Dropped the mic, screamed herself hoarse, and then completely left the club. The band thought it was hilarious.

Mind you, it was wasn’t the heshers and hair farmers she’d later recruit to be in her dumb band. These were regular fellas like Mr. Hofer of the ‘Trains. They giggled to themselves – clearly, they’d seen this before – and waited for her to return. When she didn’t, they ripped out a short version of “Interstellar Overdrive”. She didn’t come back, so they stopped.

That was my experience with the godawful Nymphs. Thanks to Mr. Morris for reminding me that they’d existed.

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I’ve been in a giving mood this week. First there was this FLESH EATERS tape. Then I bestowed upon you this 1976 PERE UBU tape. Then I gave you the blessed gift of my podcast/radio show. Now I would like to present you with a top-dog live tape of THE LAZY COWGIRLS, playing at Maxwell’s in Hoboken NJ on November 5th, 1988.

I wasn’t there, but this was in the era in which I saw every one of the band’s west coast shows. They were hitting especially high gear around this time, after they’d put out “Third Time’s the Charm” but before “How It Looks, How It Is”. The Cowgirls were such a juggernaut of a live band. I’m not sure how well it translates for people now; I’ll always be tainted by memory and by the formative nature of the years in which I saw them play a couple dozen times.

Anyway, I want you to hear it, for it is good.

Download THE LAZY COWGIRLS – live at Maxwell’s; Hoboken NJ 11-5-88

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Kim Gordon Sounds Off

This is almost certainly the first and last time I’ve ever linked to ELLE magazine, but it’s a great piece about an intense, iconic and extremely interesting woman.

I recall a surreal moment in which she and I got within two or three feet of each other; way back in 1988, Mudhoney crashed on my college rental house floor, and Mark Arm left his sweatshirt at our house.

That’s OK, the next night Mudhoney opened for Sonic Youth in Los Angeles at The Roxy, so I brought the shirt to the show, and the bouncers or whatever let me backstage.

I bounded up the stairs, turned the corner into a tiny room, and totally made a sitting-on-the-floor-indian-style conversation between Kim, Thurston, Lee Renaldo and Mark Arm crash to a halt, with me nearly stepping all over Kim with my clumsy, unbalanced entrance. Her eyes just locked in with mine, and it was clear that her expression was caught between “that’s so nice of you to return his shirt” and “who the hell are you?”.

I mumbled a hello, thanks, really glad you’re playing here in LA, OK, thanks, gotta go – and tripped back down the stairs, back with the common people, where I belonged. Great night – and that show was captured on a widely circulated bootleg as well. Anyway – totally love Kim (I can call her Kim, you see), and this article’s well worth a read.

Kim Gordon Sounds Off

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In 2006 I recounted the story of then-underground (and really good) band WHITE ZOMBIE playing live on my radio show back in 1988 in Santa Barbara, CA. Thanks to modern analog-to-digital recording technology, I’ve finally digitized that cassette. It’s a psycho-head-blowout 34-minute performance, and you can download the whole thing right here.

Download WHITE ZOMBIE, live on KCSB-FM, May 25th 1988.

Here’s my original post on them on my extinct Agony Shorthand blog:

I did my “undergrad work” at a beachfront college in Santa Barbara, CA, and one of the perks of being located where we were was that it was the perfect place for a touring band with a day off between San Francisco and Los Angeles to park themselves for a night. As it so happened, I had the 8-10pm DJ shift on KCSB-FM on Wednesday nights, and we had an aggressive music director (Eric Stone, now residing in where-are-they-now files) who was a total success at grabbing these bands from the road & plopping them down for a live in-studio set on my show. One such show was released on vinyl & CD as “Radio Cowgirl” by the LAZY COWGIRLS – though this session actually interrupted someone else’s show, not mine. Stone came to me one day in May 1988 & told me that WHITE ZOMBIE were going to come to the station to play on my show, and at the time, that was kind of a coup. White Zombie were cresting the wave of lots of noise/grunge-era hype emanating from their new low-print-run record “Soul Crusher” and their previous mini-LP “Psycho-Head Blowout”, which was already out of print & a collector’s item a year after it came out. Their sound at the time was a brutal, dissonant clatterfest that was somewhere between out-and-out rocking and completely unlistenable nonsense.

Once they arrived at the station, it was obvious that a publicist had put them up to this, because the NY ‘tude they were throwing off was off the charts. The tigress of a bass player “Sean” was pretty friendly, the drummer & longhaired guitarist were completely unmemorable, and “Rob Zombie” – wow. After one song, he sighed and muttered into the mic, “Hoooomph. Why are we here?”, and wouldn’t look anyone in the eye the whole time. And on a nice May evening in Santa Barbara, he was wearing a trench coat and compleat grunge garb. Full-on junkie behavior, but I’m sure that wasn’t it. I saw him holding a flyer from the band’s show in Seattle a couple days earlier & saw that the brand-new Mark Arm/Steve Turner band MUDHONEY had opened for them; I asked him how they were & he spat back with condescension“Hooomph. Good – if you like Green River”. You ever met a musician like this before? A full-blown rock star in their own mind? Ironically this guy did in fact became a rock star only a few years later, and I never in a million years would have imagined it at the time given White Zombie’s unrelenting, caterwauling, noise-laden sound. I guess they timed their ascent in tandem with that of “nu-metal”. and went through some serious sell-out sound changes & milked it to the top, but I’ve honestly barely heard that stuff outside of the ubiquitous “More Human Than Human”.

On my radio show in ‘88, however, and please believe me when I say this – they were fantastic. I have a tape somewhere, and I remember that they were absolutely massive toward the end, when they played a wild original that was louder than loud – like the first-LP DIE KREUZEN (here I go again) playing BLUE CHEER backwards, sideways and in Esperanto. Then they followed it up with a cover of KISS’s “Rocket Ride” – and although Kiss might just be the lamest band of all time, it was fantastic. So pumped up from this experience, I took the bass player’s advice and went to their show in Los Angeles that weekend. It was at a floating, no-fixed-address club called “Alcohol Salad”, and this time it was located downtown, in the heart of skid row. Those of you that know LA know that in the 1980s, downtown was not just a terrifying place, it was simply not an area where nightlife ever happened. Anyway, we made it from the car to the club & back alive, and good thing too as White Zombie were (again) on fire. At the time I called it “one of the best shows I’ve ever seen”, which sounds ridiculous now, but I’m telling you, there was so much raw energy & crazed balls-out guitar fireworks going on, I instantly anointed the previously ignored guitarist Tom Guay my new rock hero. Rob Zombie did a couple of complete back flips in the course of the evening’s entertainment, the crowd went wild, and it was really some kind of happening. For one night, we were all New Yorkers. I don’t know what got me thinking about this band today, but I figured maybe you too might have your own White Zombie tales to tell, good or ill.