poison to the mind


Dave the dope fiend, shooting dope

When Tricky came to Australia in the wake of Maxinquaye, it might have been his first proper tour, and was almost definitely his first big chunk of dates outside of the UK. Martina was solidly entrenched in the co-vocalist position at the time, but surprisingly, rather than sing over tapes or do a sound-system-type thing with a DJ, he'd hired a bunch of professional (white) session blokeys to be a backing band. They were capable, too - about a third of the set was Maxinquaye material, another third was (often skeletal) versions of songs that would end up on Pre-Millennium Tension, but the final third seemed to be pretty much improvised. Tricky's only animated moments would come when he approached a bassist or keyboard player, dancing in front of them, geeing them up, giving them cues until he felt inspired to freestyle (at one point Mike Watt - in the country with Porno for Pyros - even came out and jammed. "Is there a My Quott in the house?!" I heard as Tricky's exhortations before Watt emerged).

The rest of the time he either clung to the mike with his eyes screwed tight, repeatedly asking for the lights to be lowered (by the end of the show, the only illumination onstage came from the exit door light in the wings), or headed back to the drum riser and shadow-boxed while Martina sang or the band played. Except for one time, where he took the mic back with him and sat on the edge of the riser, head in hand, and began declaiming the lyrics to Slick Rick's "Children's Story." As I recall, he took digressions and freestyled on the story as he went on and the band picked up, but his paranoid rasp was fantastically suited for (English native) Rick's tale of travails in ver 'hood.

When he came to record it later that year, though, he left the vocals all to Martina and hid the cover away on the B-side to a Nearly God single. Not that that's any kind of poor substitute - her detached tone also matches the song splendidly - but if anyone has bootlegs of Tricky shows from around that time, I'd love to hear from you...

Nearly God - Children's Story

And while we're at it, let's hear another two-person collabo take on it. Here's the man eternally in search of the perfect gimmick, Everlast, teaming up with human beatbox/sampler Rahzel - oddly enough, this one's a B-side too, from the former's "Black Jesus" single.

Everlast (feat. Rahzel) - Children's Story

Shit, even the Nearly God album is out of print now! You can apparently buy it on Napster though. There's a super-dodgy Best of Everlast & House of Pain that you can find in Dirt Cheap and Rock Bottom. I don't think it has any Rhyme Syndicate-era Everlast, and I'm sure it doesn't have the Butch Vig remixes of HOP. If I ever get the 7" out of storage though...

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send a St. Bernard

Alright, a couple more overlooked-even-at-the-time gems from underneath the landslide of snow and rocks. I left the faffing and intro at the end of the session version on the previous post to TEASE YOUR EXPECTATION for this next track, except then I decided four versions of one song made a much better post. You know, thematic consistency and all that.

So anyway, here's the Tweakin' Mix of "Rolling High", the original version of which appeared on El Producto - this remix only appeared as (possibly the only exclusive track) on 1998's Homebake compilation.

the Avalanches - Rolling High (Tweakin' Mix)

Perhaps more exciting, their cover of "Do You Know The Way To San Jose?", from an all-Australian tribute album to Burt Bacharach, entitled To Hal & Bacharach (there were one or two songs by lyricists other than Hal David, I think). This is also from 1998 or thereabouts.

the Avalanches - Do You Know The Way To San Jose?

And just because you're special and you deserve it, another track from the same presumably-never-to-be-reprinted-due-to-licensing-headaches compilation - here's musical & life partners Dave Graney and Clare Moore roping in the Dirty Three for one of their rare stints backing a vocalist. I think Dave was going through his brief period of being famous around this time, or maybe that had already passed like a ray of sunshine on a cloudy day. Anyway:

Dave Graney/Clare Moore/the Dirty Three - What The World Needs Now

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“Co-caine! Bub-bly! WHEE!”

Pretty much ever since The Avalanches' first full-length was released, people across the world have been whining "when will the Avalanches release something new?" You can't say they don't have a point - in the three years before Since I Left You they lost their original Japanese MC, played a bunch of interstate shows, released a single and an EP from their demo recordings, added Dexter as DJ, toured solidly around the country, released a polished EP and toured some more, released a four-track 12" of dancier non-rap material... and then spent the second 18 months just clearing samples for the album (filling in a little bit of time with shows and putting out the Gimix cassette).

And in the five years since then - scattered, occasional shows, adding members, dropping members, a handful of remixes, and devolution into a two-person DJ team. They've emitted smoke signals to the effect that more recording has begun, but no point getting excited just yet.

And who knows if anything new will even engender excitement once it emerges - the karaoke show that was the Since I Left You tour only served to disappoint in comparison to the thrilling chaos of their early shows, with members running across the stage rapping, trading instruments every song, even throwing guitars to each other mid-song, jumping over each other's backs to reach the theremin... No argument that the album (well, the original pressing, before so many samples got fucked out the side, at least) isn't a fantastic piece of work, but it's a polite record, a living-room House album, a (whisper it) headphone record. I miss the hip-hop group that was fun to watch, you know?

So let's crank up the nostalgia machine and revisit their very first single (note to collectors: the red vinyl was the second pressing!), the ramshackle rap mess of "Rock City". In case you like it, here's four fucking versions for your ass.

The original 7" version (Horse001-7):
The Avalanches - Rock City (7" version)

This one's from a radio session in September 1997:
The Avalanches - Rock City (radio session)

The re-recorded version from 1998's El Producto EP (no juxmo):
The Avalanches - Rock City (El Producto version)

And finally, a live TV appearance following that EP's release - the version of "Run DNA" they played on the same show often gets programmed on Rage, but this doesn't seem to be in the options. It got released on a compilation, though:
The Avalanches - Rock City (live on Recovery)

Well, the 7" is way out of print. The EP goes for big money these days (or did a few years ago. The Recovery CD of TV performances has gone OOP too, as did a sequel. And the radio session is from my own tapes. That's all well and good, we're not about posting commercially-available stuff here.
But would you believe that even Since I Left You is unavailable on CD right now? At least you can still pick it up on vinyl (along with ludicrously expensive 12"s of the title track and Since I Left You). Though then it's still the sample-censored version. Ah fuck it, let's hope they do put something new out after all, eh?

More old Avalanche excavation tomorrow? Anyone want it?

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