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Music You've Never Heard #41 To #45
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41. Runrig

I can't tell you how big this band is in Scotland. Bigger than U2, bigger than the Beatles. Seriously Thirteen studio albums, including some that were lovingly recorded in Gaelic. I was working for a record store when "The Cutter And The Clan". A major label was trying to promote the band in the US. When that failed, I saw the CD in tons of bargain bins for a dollar. That that's realy a shame, because their songs are really amazing - huge sounding pseudo-traditional tunes full of bagpipes, authentic arrangements, and great lyrics about blood and swords. Along with Battlefield Band and The Young Dubliners, I wish British traditional rock would make it big here in America someday.

http://www.runrig.co.uk/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Runrig
http://www.ceolas.org/artists/Runrig.html

42. School of Fish

Sometimes I hear a band and I want to hate them. They just seem too smarmy... too much like the zeitgeist of the times. I wanted to hate The Strokes, The Offspring, even Radiohead when they came out. But then I was won over by their music. Every time I hear "Three Strange Days" by this band, I'm amazed at how good that CD is. They remind me of the Toadies, Sponge, and Dada... all nineties bands I wish turned into something instead of imploding.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/School_of_Fish

43. Scraping Foetus Off The Wheel

I bought the cassette "Hole" from the Northern Lights music chain in Minneapolis. I don't know why - I think a friend of mine who was also into punk music thought the name was funny. When I went home and played it, the music genuinely scared me. Screaming vocals and dark dark keyboards came crashing out of my boombox like the music was trying to escape and strangle me. For a while, I kept the cassette under my bed in a box, afraid to play it. There were movies in the eighties about backwards masking summoning the devil, and if there was ever satanic music... this was it.

The band is actually a guy named J.G. Thirwell (aka Clint Ruin). He records as "Scraping..." as well as just "Foetus", "Foetus Corruptus", or "You've Got Foetus On Your Breath" The name changes with just about every CD. But even though I called it "punk", this isn't thrash music. Many songs have a carefully constructed wall of keyboards, and a few CD were recordings with string orchestras. But all the music is incredibly dismal, with song titles like "Water Torture" or "Lust For Death". But for some reason, playing such scary black music makes me feel incredibly alive.

http://www.foetus.org/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foetus_(band)

44. Scruffy The Cat/Charlie Chesterman

I walked into a record store in Boston in the nineties. I was searching thru the bin of used records, when the clerk asked me what I was looking for. "Scruffy the Cat", I said... did the clerk know of them? Know of them? he replied. Here, let me call up the lead singer, Charlie Chesterman. I bet he'd like to talk to a fan. After a minute when the clerk talked to Charlie and asked him about plans for the weekend, I got to speak to one of my favorite songwriters. I spent the time grilling him on why he hadn't recorded anything lately, and Charlie sounded sheepish.

My brother bought the cassette as a joke. And I stole it from him when he went to college. For years, the band was a private joke between me and my brother, a fond memory we shared. To this day, we'll sometimes quote lyrics to each other: at a boring family reunion recently, my brother turned to me and sang, "Life is fun... so much fun... surprise surprise... hide or run". I wish someone would reissue their great albums "Boom Boom Boom Bingo" and "High Octane Revival" on CD. Pretty please? With extra tracks? Or is that asking too much?

http://tinybum.com/
http://www.geocities.com/boomboomboombingo/

45. Self

I heard this band used toy pianos, so I bought a copy of their CD "Gizmodgery". Wow! Was I blown away. What I thought would be a cute gimmick (see Roger Miller, Laurie Anderson's tape bow violin) turned out to be an entire album's worth of amazing music. I bought as many of their old CDs as I could - but they are a hard find. After being dropped from their label, the band broke up due to the death of their lead guitarist and general apathy. That's a crime - it's proof that the "industry" kills vibrant creative artists. I'd rather have a single CD from bands like this than a thousand by a top 40 pop artist. Damn the man.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self_(band)



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Yeah, Runrig are one of those bands you either have to [i]be[/i] Scottish—or a total xenophilic music-geek like me—to love.

You ought to hear the album Groovy Neighbourhood by Pianosaurus, which is all toy instruments. And then there’s Plastica:



If that’s not enough toy instrument madness for you, they also take a stab at Dream Theater. (original for comparison)

I love Self, and I wouldn't have expected to, but yeah, Gizmodgery is ace. The album before it is pretty good too.

You should post a link to his version of "What A Fool Believes" if there's one out there.

Well - I for one have heard of Runrig, and even went to a concert of theirs in the early 80s.

But then, I guess that's not too surprising... :-)

Don't overlook The Residents' 4-song "Goosebump" -- all kids instruments, in 1978 or thereabouts. It was included on as bonus material on the Duck Stab/Buster and Glen disc.

And if you like Self, check out Wired All Wrong. It's a harder sound, but some great Matt Mahaffey tunes on the disc.

Thanks for the tip! Yeah, I should have added the Residents. "Mark of the Mole" is my favorite, I think... or there's a rare live disk that I like. What a great weird band. Never heard of Wired All Wrong - thanks for the tip!

I missed seeing Runrig when I was in Scotland around 18 years ago. I regret not seeing them.

One of the early Runrig members, Robert MacDonald, was briefly a history teacher at my school. He later died of cancer at a far too early age.

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