CERTAIN GENERAL - THE INVISIBLE BAND OF NEW YORK
'...the baddest, craziest, most misbehaved but mind bendingly brilliant band that was walking the Earth.' (Stephen Graziano - liner notes to ‘An Introduction To War’ - by Certain General)
New York and its grand CBGBs heritage between 1975-77 gets a lot of mentions these days. You know, the same old recollections about Television, the Ramones, etc - springing onto the world stage from a tramp's piss mattress stronghold on the Bowery. Many of those bands went on to global success and acclaim - Patti Smith, Blondie, the Ramones and Talking Heads to name four. Some - like the Heartbreakers,
Tuff Darts and Television - would soon split up. Others - like Richard Hell's Voidoids - proved to be way ahead of their time.
By the early 80s, New York City was making its presence felt in more eclectically extreme styles now it had helped change the face of music with punk rock. The dance element inherited from dead disco and happening hip-hop shot through the No New York movement and outfits like James Chance and his fearsome Contortions, ESG, Liquid Liquid, Konk, Defunkt, Teenage Jesus and the Jerks and Bush Tetras. This insidious movement wouldn't make its full presence known for another 20 years, although loud trumpets heralded the Mutant Disco thing which accompanied such garish dance appropriators as Grace Jones, Material, Kid Creole and the Coconuts and the Ze Records crew. Over in the UK, encouraged by The Clash, New York City now meant hip-hop - and we spent that period soaking up the new ghetto missives.
But there was another New York underground scene which followed after the punk boom and led right up to the entry of Sonic Youth in the mid-80s. We'll call it Invisible New York. Or rather, Parker Dulany, leader of Certain General, does. He also calls Certain General 'the invisible band'. The missing link.
As the 80s dawned, something still stirred in the East Village. Gaggles of drinking buddies turned their relentless gig-going and jam sessions into solid group projects. Certain General were one such group. They are one of the great lost bands of New York. Also one of the greatest. Over the years, they have released several albums - oddly,
mainly in France - which show that they were up there with the city's finest. At various points in their roller-coaster career, they have been the house band for both CBGBs and the legendary Danceteria. They should have been huge. A bunch of retrospective CD compilations which started in '99 scream it loud. Certain General music was powerfully dynamic, truly psychedelic and hauntingly melodic. Singer-writer Parker's unique brand of soul-baring confessional and a surreal way with words which sometimes boshed Beefheart's garden fence with an accidental football, always rendered whatever line-up happened to be with him unmistakably Certain General. Those lucky enough to be at their UK gigs in the mid-80s still speak in awe about those crazed nights. The sad sting in the tail is, as Parker admits, Certain General were also very good at shooting themselves in the foot, career-wise.
With CBGB's about to close after 30 years showcasing new talent - it's the end of an era. Certain General were as much a part of that era as any of the more well-known names.
Parker Dulany was born in Georgia and raised in New Orleans and had already started carving a reputation as a starkly surreal painter before the group started to take shape in late '80. Certain General's first Line-up saw Parker hook up with Texas-born guitarist Phil Gammage, bassist Russell Berke and former B-Girls drummer Marcy Saddy. Their main influence was James Chance's Contortions, who were part of the ZE Records onslaught which got christened NoWave. Their sound was ferocious JB (James Brown) grooves, wired to the gills, scraped with mad guitars and James Chance/White's convoluted vocalising.
'The Contortions were great,' says Parker, who now works as a teacher at a tough Brooklyn school but has started making music again with Phil Gammage. 'They were our main influence at first. We were the Contortions with a little bit of PiL, me doing my sicko poetry and Phil doing his thing We wanted to be a pop version of the Contortions. That's what New York bought us on.'
Their first gig was supporting DNA at a party in an old school on Avenue B and 10th Street. First club gig was at Hurrah's, opening for Liquid Liquid (the crew who supplied 'Cavern' as the main riff for Grandmaster Flash's 'White Lines’). Their first high-profile punter-conversion was the' Avenue B Is The Place To Be' festival in Thompkins Square Park in the East Village in August that year. As Certain General played more gigs, a downtown buzz started to build around these songs which managed to throw in the drama of the Doors, surf-music guitar lines, spooky bass cruises, violent Velvets-like feedback explosions and Parker's impassioned narratives. They played Club 57 on St Mark's Place which made them darlings of Keith Harring and the arty mob. 'We were hot overnight,' is how Parker describes it.
Certain General's first dabble in the studio came via a local fan/scenester called Perry Brandston, who also got them playing parties, galleries, lofts and after-hours. The 'Perry EP' has only recently surfaced. Four tracks - 'Touch', 'Fun With A Gun', 'Naked Major' and 'Just In One Instance' - which bristle with clipped, rampant energy.
I wasn't there then so I have the great honour of quoting Stephen Graziano - the group's late former manager and loyal friend - from his sleeve notes to one of the retrospective CDs:
“The CG sound was a real post-modern collage: surf and spy themes played by both bass and guitar, chopped up by military or funky beats; feedback howls and percussion fests mixed up with train wrecks and continual instrumental interjections. At two-minutes long - the average length in those days - they contained enough ideas and points of reference that you could spend more time elucidating them than actually listening to the songs. The sound was full of familiar elements, but they were all joined in weird and wild and wonderful new ways. All the while, Parker Dulany's kaleidoscope poetry, alternatively surreal, mundane, horrific and expressionistic, pieced together a meaning more through juxtaposition of images rather than through narrative tale. The effect was a veritable Pipe bomb of images, musical styles and cultural references, exploding in the audiences' heads. CG shows were always characterised by their crazed energy - such was the pronounced sense of anarchy projected by the band that things often seemed on the verge of riot....Certain General gigs were more than just a band onstage. They were invitations to riot, to be free, to question authority and limits, to do your own thing. They messed with your head, but shook your booty with equal measure.”
Certain General were a group exploding with talent and ideas who didn't have the patience or inclination to go the normal music biz routes. They found their own gigs, playing relentlessly up and down the East coast at clubs which would book them at the drop of a hat and liked to put on their own events. They made and distributed their own flyers. They were self-contained, like a kind of drunken commune living for the group and bent on having the maximum good time. They were staunch indie pioneers (meaning independent).
The original line-up also recorded the 'Holiday Of Love' EP in summer '82, as well as a welter of other stuff. Produced by Peter Holsapple (mate of REM) and mixed with Michael Gira of the fearsome Swans, it emerged in late '82 on the arty independent Labor label. It still sounds stunning, mixing the modal Eastern psychedelia-meets-'The End' of the epic 'Hello My God' with the dark descending nightmare of 'Leader-Out'. Other songs recorded around this time manage to straddle Doorsy mantras, Phil's surf music obsession - he even had a sideline band called the Corvairs to exercise it even further - and a fascination with the moody bassline of 'Shakin' All Over'.
The EP, which remains Parker's favourite, got played on the radio and suddenly 'all America was talking about Certain General'. So why do they never get mentioned alongside legendary outfits like the Contortions, Liquid Liquid, Bush Tetras, etc? Certain General were the equal of any of them in terms of innovation, musicianship and vision.
The answer can be summed up in two words: Russell Berke. The man was a brilliant bass player but also a liability, seemingly hell-bent on blowing any opportunities. A definite shit-on-your-own-doorstep scenario. 'He picked fights with everyone,' says Parker, ruefully. 'Peter Holsapple, Michael Gira, Hilly Kristal. He always got into fights and just alienated people. We had tours of California and Florida lined up - and he wouldn't go. If we had done that everything would have changed, but he wouldn't go. And he was older and more dominant than us. We were like little kids so we couldn't do anything. Plus he was bigger and a black belt! Fucking prick...'
Despite the trail of wounded, Certain General continued to attack the New York clubs. 'We were the house band at Danceteria', says Parker, adding that Certain General were asked to reform to play the club's 25th anniversary celebrations earlier this year. There was also
A7, Peppermint Lounge, Hurrah!, Heat, Irving Plaza, the Ritz, 8BC, Max's - and of course, CBGB's. 'Hilly loved our band,' recalls Parker.
He didn't love their bass-player. In the summer of '83, Russell left to be replaced by an old mate of Parker's called Joe Lupo, who added to the mayhem. According to Graziano, Lupo was 'the plutonium rod that fuelled the Certain General party reactor'.
Unbelievably, getting shot of Berke counted against the group as far as the ultra-fickle New York club crowd went. 'He was a great bass-player and added a lot to the band,' admits Parker. 'But later people didn't know about the early days. But New York was like, "They're not as good they should be." We had been so good then when Lupo took over on bass, we weren't as good as we could have been - unfortunately. We sort of saturated it very early. Then it was never as good as the first time. I'm being completely honest here, probably revealing too much. That's my take. We were so good then...' He sighs, while I'm aghast - my first time was in' 83 and they were fucking amazing! He's basically saying that the first line-up were the world-beaters. 'But we always shot ourselves in the foot.' Then lapsing into teacher-speak: “Here's what was an A plus band but only a B plus now.”
The new line-up started recording in earnest. New songs like 'Maximum G' and 'Jack In The Heart' were astonishing roller coasters of light and shade dynamics, crashing garage punk riffs a la Love, but a deadly controlled power which knocked you sideways when they turned up the heat. The results would eventually surface on the ‘November's Heat’ album in November the following year.
By that time, I'd found myself on board the Certain General crystal ship sailing a sea of sourmash bourbon into some of the best nights of my life.
Certain General came into my life almost by accident. It was November '83 and my first night in the Big Apple. I had been flown to New York courtesy of Specimen, the goth-glam funsters who ran London's Bat Cave. They were planning to take their cobwebs and lace glam-sleaze style across the US. Although I'd never done such a thing before, I was supposed to orchestrate a nationwide press campaign from the offices of Sire Records, their US label. The limited budget meant that a NY writer mate called Steve Mirkin had arranged for me to stay at the Eleventh Street apartment of Marc Mikulich, who fronted another great group from that era, the Band Of Outsiders.
The Band Of Outsiders also merit special mention here as they too were battling against New York's abrupt loss of interest in their own at this time. But they were often spectacular. A twin guitar fest loaded with emotional ballads and sonic benders on a par with Television and often recalling the Velvets. I'd already plugged their self-financed 45, 'Done Away'/'Tote Bag Ladies' a couple of years earlier in Zigzag.
Marc was the perfect host. The various never-before-encountered blends of sourmash bourbon flowed and he got his mates over, including the other Outsiders and Certain General. For the next three months I went on the rampage with and saw gigs by both outfits. We played Danceteria and I got them both to play the Bat Cave night at Irving Plaza with Specimen. By coincidence, both Specimen and Certain General were booked by the late NY club-booker Ruth Polsky who was known for astutely bringing over UK groups like New Order and Echo & the Bunnymen to the US. Many groups owe their US careers to Ruth, who also ran things at Danceteria. She quickly became a great friend. Ruth is central to this story. From when she saw Certain General at that first gig, she was on board pushing them, eventually becoming their manager. When she died in '86, it would take the spirit out of the group.
Throughout Certain General, Parker has been the only constant member. It's his vision. He's been fortunate enough to be accompanied by outstanding musicians on the way, but it's always been his baby, apart from the very beginning. He seemed to have this power of turning everyone from industry types to punters into besotted fans. Ruth Polsky, Stephen Graziano, myself...I always felt Parker was one of the most charismatic front men I've ever seen. It's a long-running personal beef that he never got the breaks and rewards that lesser talents were given. That's half the reason I'm writing this - but in the process I find out that a lot of that was the group's own fault!
Back in November '83, this was like a dream come true. Hanging out in the East Village with these talented maniacs, checking out Land-marks like the Dom dancehall where the Velvets first played - or the Gem Spa where the first Dolls album cover was shot, drinking and shooting pool at CBGB's, feeling the latent energy coursing under the side-walks and spouting up like steam out of the subway vents. Then there was the hip-hop and graffiti. The whole city seemed so alive and happening compared to the UK, which desperately needed something to wake it up.
In late '83, Certain General still seemed to rule New York. On the East Village grapevine they seemed to be regarded as the band most likely to...do anything from getting blind drunk to being world famous.
New York City in 2005 is safe and sanitised thanks to the late 90s zero tolerance campaign which strove to stamp out not only the dealers, hookers and robbers but, apparently, the poor, mentally ill and inactive. In 1983, the East Village still hummed with the electricity of artistic creativity in the face of danger. By then it was relatively safe to walk up Avenue A, but further East it got progressively more bombed out, funky and crime-ridden. From B to D there was still a dealer on every corner. But it was cheap to live in the war zone and there were a hell of a lot of groups. The golden age of CBGBs had passed, sure, but the place still acted as a haven for new or lesser-known bands to tread the hallowed boards.
Danceteria is one of the New York clubs which has also sunk into legend along with the Paradise Garage, Hurrah and the Mudd Club. It remains one of the best clubs I've ever been to - four floors catering to groups, hip hop, disco and chill out. Madonna alternated between being cloakroom girl, lift operator and podium dancer.
Certain General were like the house band at Danceteria. I caught a few gigs over the three months I was there. One in February '83 stands out particularly as a band at the peak of its powers. One of those magic nights when you know in your deepest soul that this lot are firing on every cylinder fit to bust the doors off Heaven itself. The major highlight of the set was 'Voodoo Taxi', a wired, crashing epic which got frightening in its intensity. A true story about an NY cab ride in 18-inch snow. Phil's guitar exploded into sonic smithereens and Parker often shot beyond the outer limits. They sometimes recalled the Birthday Party or Velvet Underground in the wildness, but the dynamics and mood was four individuals straining at the leash to hit some euphoric plateau - and often getting there having burst into flames on the way up. 'In A Bad Way' was another haunting, brooding classic, easily as good as anything Television ever mustered. Fuck, they were frightening at times.
The gatherings in Marc's apartment saw the place christened Club Po (Po' as in Poor). Both Outsiders and General and a bevy of mates would gather and, awash in a sea of bourbon, formulate plans to take over the world. One thing I was sure about was the total injustice that these two groups, who were the coolest thing I'd encountered for a long while, remained so under-rated. Out of one of these piss-ups they came up with the idea of joining forces to release an album on a new label which Steve Graziano was setting up - called most appropriately, Sourmash. The groups were going to gig their asses off and pool their resources to get the album. I was sure that if they were heard in the UK's current musical climate they'd clean up. It became a crusade. Each group supplied a pair of studio recordings. Certain General's were original mixes of 'Sympathy' and - gulp -'Voodoo Taxi' that would appear on November's Heat, while the Outsiders had two tracks which had been produced by Ivan Kral from the Patti Smith Group. They then recorded a joint night at CBGBs to provide another two songs apiece. Complete with photo of Marc and Parker taken in the former's front room, the album was called Far Away In America.
I wrote the sleeve-notes on the spot before returning, elated, to the UK - although my return to these shores didn't go without incident. That day saw a final farewell session at Club Po before I scuttled off to JFK to get the plane, which I roundly missed, necessitating a lengthy return on the subway through the worst areas of Brooklyn laden with bags which all daubed with graffiti. Damn that moonshine whiskey! As fate would have it, the two groups were playing Danceteria again that night - joined together to form the Dead Rabbit Gang and supporting Bo Diddley.
On my return, I spent '84 pushing the two groups in the UK. I wanted to tell the world, and did in Zigzag when I got back to London. Then I brought them to London.
More NY gigs financed the arrival of both Certain General and the Band Of Outsiders in the UK in May '84. At the time, I was sharing a house in Wandsworth, South London, with Youth, then conducting Brilliant after Killing Joke fragmented. Poor guy had to put up with nine visiting New Yorkers kipping in the front room. I'd assumed the mantle of booking agent, tour manager and publicist. It was chaos, but great having Club Po re-united in my front room. They played clubs around London, including a stormer at the Bat Cave. The Certain General set of that time became known as their classic selection, including soul-mining gems like 'Nowhere', 'Keys In The Carpet', 'Shelter The Girl', 'Jack In My Heart', 'Maximum G' and 'That's Where I Hang'. When both groups had played their rotating sets, they all got up to blast through 'Sister Ray' or the Stones' 'Jigsaw Puzzle'. It was wild, euphoric and hairy but the trip paid off in terms of attention and good reviews.
As a result, Certain General got a deal with a French label called Le Invitation Au Suicide, who released November's Heat. It was an unexpected success. Certain General were suddenly massive in France. The record was voted Album Of The Year by several magazines, they were on TV and could play sell-out shows.
The UK jaunt had been enough for drummer Marcy, whose cool Mo Tucker meets John Bonham approach had bolstered the group from the start. I felt guilty that maybe it was me and Youth's outrageous domestic scenario situation that had prodded her out of the band to go settle in Canada. In came Vinny De Nunzio, a fine drummer who'd served with the Richards Hell and Lloyd, the Feelies and the Outsets with Ivan Julian. Re-christened Vin Rouge - because of the colour his nose went after a few red wines - he added a deft, assured power to the group. His first tour with CG was the infamous Killer Death Tour of the Deep South.
The 1984-'85 period saw Certain General reach their peak. They played a wildly successful support at New York's Beacon Theatre with The Cure in November '84. By now they'd honed the sound to become the quintessential classic New York rock 'n' roll band. You only have to listen to the stuff they were laying down after their debut album ‘November's Heat’ was done and dusted. Much of this wouldn't surface in the US until 2001, when Sourmash - still being upheld by the faithfull Graziano - released ‘An Introduction To War’, a double CD which boasted one live CD from '81-'82 and another of mainly '84 studio stuff. To my mind, it's the best Certain General on record.
'Uptight' was inspired by Victor Bockris's Velvets book of the same name and it shows. Guitars thrash and jangle and the energy level is lethal. 'Keys In The Carpet' is dedicated to Patti Smith. That shows too in its 'Gloria'-style takeoff rush. 'Nowhere' captures the majesty of the Byrds and creates the kind of spell that could make Television special in their early days. By 'Dead Rabbit Gang' they're getting into psychobilly territory. All these influences - there's 'Shakin' All Over' again - are mentioned because, although there'll even be a mood not unlike Jefferson Airplane's 'White Rabbit' creeping through 'Steamy', it always sounds like nobody else but Certain General. They're always punching the air in triumph through these magnificent songs.
Certain General returned to France - where they were now treated like visiting royalty - and the UK in February '85 and played more spectacular gigs. Ruth was fielding offers from UK labels, including Fiction and Virgin. 'There were a whole bunch of opportunities that we were turning down for no reason.' One UK major offered a major deal but, because it involved the group relocating to London for six months, it was turned down because Phil and Vinnie wouldn't do it. In fact, Phil left after the tour to concentrate on the Corvairs. 'That screwed that again,' says Parker. When French label Barclay offered something of a mega-deal, they went with that in favour of a smaller advance from a US independent. If Certain General had released the '84 stuff then in the US, they could have been up there with any of the legendary American groups from that era.
'I truly believe that if we'd have just released An Invitation To War on a record right after that when we were so red hot in the mainstream of American music, everything would have changed,' says Parker. 'If we'd have put the record out on an American label and taken three grand instead of sixty thousand from France, it would have opened up the American market. It would have happened. That was at the time when the Replacements and the Dream Syndicate were coming out and all we had to do was put it out. It kind of got swept under the mat. From just being in the wrong place at the wrong time. You know how fucked everything was. We all should have stuck tight there and then.'
Tragedy was lurking around the corner and, essentially, cut short the group's climb. In September '86, I moved to New York. A permanent Club Po was in operation. Certain General had a gig at the Limelight, the converted church on Sixth Avenue. I was supposed to meet Ruth Polsky in the doorway, where she was doing the guest list. A row with the missus at the time resulted in us being half an hour late. When we got to the club, we couldn't help noticing that there was a yellow cab lodged in the doorway. It had lost control and mounted the sidewalk. Somebody said there was a body underneath. It had happened half an hour before...
We duly went in and watched the new line-up of Certain General play a blinder. Parker now describes it as his 'solo band'. Guitarist Sprague Hollander was another dynamic player but it was more Parker's show. All evening we were wondering where Ruth had got to. Talking now about that night's amazing gig (and Parker had also been late to meet Ruth in the Limelight doorway because he'd forgotten his guitar), he says, 'I always thought it wasn't us, it was her. All the people that worked there had a bad feeling. They were going from room to room constantly looking for Ruth while we were on. I didn't want to play...'
Next morning Parker got the call saying that Ruth had been killed the previous night. That was her under the cab. The impossibly distraught Parker called me and I accompanied him to identify the body. Words can't describe how we felt. It hit Parker hard and still haunts him. We went back to his place, bought a bottle and hammered Led Zeppelin for the rest of the day.
The music eventually carried on, although it would be 1999 before another great album recorded in that period, These Are The Days, finally got released in the US. Certain General's line-ups changed but Ruth's passing had taken away a lot of the joy and momentum. 'Ultimately it was Ruth's death that really stopped it,' says Parker.
I moved back to the UK in 1990, but still kept in touch with Parker, who continued with his music but needed to get a steady job when he started a family with the lovely Mary-Beth. At one point I bought him an acoustic guitar so he could write songs again. He had another stab in '96 with a solo album, Mr Parker's Band, produced by ex-Zodiac Mindwarp-Cult bassist Haggis. At the time, I was churning out the dance remixes and turned 'Mr Vinegar' into a big beat blaster called 'Club Po Reunion'.
Three years ago, the original Certain General line-up got together to demo some songs with a view to making an album. No guessing which of the four put the dampers on that. Parker didn't let that Berke stop him. 'Just another breadcrumb in the stupidity of Certain General' is how he describes it.'
This year he's started recording again with original guitarist Phil Gammage - Parker's words and Phil's music. What I've heard sounds amazing. The mood is mellower and matured with Parker reaching new lyrical horizons on tracks like 'Heels In The Hallway', 'All My Movies' and 'Politician'. Phil Gammage has always been a phenomenal guitarist but his salvo on 'Circus Everywhere' is outrageous in a kind of intricate Bob Quinne assault fashion. The best ones for me are when they hit opiated dream-state mode and go striking out into space. Tracks like 'In The Park' and jaw-droppingly beautiful 'All My Movies' are gorgeous, with more than a touch of the Velvets when they decided to be gentler.
Or even the heart-pulling but unsettling melancholy of the Bad Seeds. There is still the old bite and unpredictable edge, which made Certain General special but delivered with a deeper passion. That multi-budget wanker singing 'You're Beautiful' in a squeaky voice for every sad lunchtime office piss-up. Nah, these are love songs.
Parker doesn't even know if these songs will come out under the Certain General name. They should. And they should get released too, if there's any justice. But there usually isn't (as Certain General found out first time round). 'Americana' is quite in at the moment. This is Americana. Universal Americana with knobs on which seeps into the consciousness - rather than whacking it with a mallet. I'm just glad Dulany and Gammage are returning from the wilderness and working together again.
The story of Certain General has been a spontaneous combustion chain of celebrations, incidents, tragedies and sheer bad luck. Also some of the most beautifully untamed music of the last 20 years. The success that could've been theirs in '84-'85 was made all the more painful in the mid-80s when Sonic Youth bust out and set wheels spinning frantically that Certain General had already got off the starting block. They are the missing link. The invisible band.
There are several CDs which more than represent this group's natural magic:
‘An Introduction To War’ - Sourmash, 2001
The first CD consists of studio recordings made in New York City between '83 and '85. All the early classics are here, including 'Keys In The Carpet', 'In A Bad Way', 'Shelter The Girl', 'Nowhere', 'That's Where I Hang' and their gripping take on Billie Holliday's 'Strange Fruit'. (The song 'Dead Rabbit Gang' - inspired by one of the Bowery's most feared street gangs - would later lend its name to a floating group composed of sundry Generals and Outsiders). The line-up here is Parker, Phil, Lupo, and Vinny DeNunzio on drums [with Marcy Saddy on a couple of tracks]. Passion, mystery and opiated romance run riot and much still sounds jaw-droppingly good as the group's internal dynamic goes ape.
The second CD is culled from live performances with the first line-up (Marcy on drums, Russell on bass) at CBGB's between '81-'83 on five different occasions, some in Trenton, New Jersey. Top versions of 'Holiday Of Love', 'Gun Flower', 'Leader Out' and Iron Butterfly's 'Inna-Gadda-Da-Vida'. Together with Stephen Graziano's affectionate yet informative sleeve-notes, this is a great place to start.
‘November's Heat’/’Ancient Toys’ - Fantastica 2001
‘November's Heat’ is the France-only album which sparked the cult of Certain General which survives to the present day, especially in France. Originally released on L'Invitation Au Suicide in November '84, this was recorded from the end of '83 with the Dulany, Gammage, Lupo, Saddy line-up. Towering stuff like 'Maximum G', 'My Gang In The Woods', 'The Shang' and 'Voodoo Taxi'. One of the all-time great New York albums.
By the time ‘November's Heat’ was started, the group already had enough material down to fill two albums which, apart from the Holiday Of Love' EP, never saw the light of day this limited edition featuring a second disc called ‘Ancient Toys’.
‘These Are The Days’ - Fantastica 1999
Another retrospective. These were mainly written on Parker's Eighth Street roof during the scorching summer of '85 and recorded between November '85 and December '87 [plus three from '89]. Spanning the period when Ruth Polsky tragically died and Parker was in deep mourning, the album is dedicated to her memory. Yet another batch of deeply turbulent songs, 16 in all, including the spine-tingling 'Killer In Our House', 'Love Life' and 'Favouirite Alibi'. Ex-Voidoid and Outset, Ivan Julian, who played on Sandinista!, features on two tracks.
‘Signals From The Source’ - CBGB 1999
'The reality of this entire adventure is Hilly Kristal's belief in Certain General', says Parker in the credits. It's the first line-up - Parker, Gammage, Berke and Saddy - revisiting the early stuff in CBGB's basement studio and produced by Genya Ravan, Parker and Peter Holsapple (who once made a great single called 'Big Black Truck' and also plays guitar on the album). Konk pop up as a brass section. Many of the early standouts are present and correct, including all the 'Holiday Of Love' EP and the 'Certain General Theme'. 'Everything is different, I don't think it's as good,' says Parker Dulany.
Dedicated to the memories of Ruth Polsky and Stephen Graziano.
Kris Needs tMx 20 07/05