Friday, March 5, 2010

The Fantastic Story of Ed

In honor of the upcoming Pong (3rd!) record release show, tomorrow night in Austin... We're gonna be skipping over the The Clash in discography series, and jumping to: the mighty Ed Hall!!

"Pay For Me" [live] from Love Poke Here (1990)
7/11/92 Norman, OK show: pt.2, pt.3, pt.4, pt.5, pt.6.

This was originally just going to be a bunch of videos because there are some cool ones out there, and some good stuff missing. But then I remembered about the album-by-album artist biographies. So here we are.

Ed Hall were an Austin trio of deranged folks making deranged music for deranged fans. Gary Chester on guitar/vocals, Larry Strub on bass/vocals, and originally Kevin Whitley on drums/vocals. When Kevin left to play guitar with Cherubs, the kit was manned by Lyman Hardy from Houston underground heroes Bayou Pigs. More of the background in this cool Myspace tribute site or even Wikipedia. Chester, Hardy and Lyman later formed Pong with a couple of other Austin luminaries, and they are releasing their 3rd album tomorrow night, playing live and everything!

Two songs from Texas comp The Polyp Explodes (1988).

Ed unleashed havoc on the world by contributing to the 1988 comp The Polyp Explodes (FREE!), with such other distinguished mayhem-inducing artists as ST-37, Crust, and Miracle Room. Their two songs were "Dirt" and "Sister Ruth." You can hear the Ed-ness just starting to form. The sister is trying to scam card-readings and $80 mojo candles, and the ravings of "Dirt" would re-appear on debut album Albert, but with a different name - and a different songs would steal its title. (Really??)

"Reading" [live from 2003 Reunion] from Albert (1988)

Albert (1988) 6/10 - Still kinda putting it together at this point, the debut doesn't quite have the pummelling heft or slicing cleverness of later releases. I think Ed found their niche with pseudo-insightful humor that poked holes and pierced bubbles - rather than stoopid funny, poo-poo jokes, etc. Still lots of great noise rock and several really good songs.

[Lala goned.]

"Turkeey" [live Austin 1996 SXSW] from Love Poke Here (1989)

Love Poke Here (1990) 9/10 - This was my first Ed Hall record, after seeing them open up for Butthole Surfers a couple of times in May 1990. I still consider "Pay For Me" one of the greatest live show kick-offs. Maybe a little heavy on drummer-sung tunes (never a good idea), this one houses multitudes of all-time favorites: "Blue Poland," "Hearty Tom Foolery," plus the whole run from the awesome "Buddha" to the end. Still one of my absolute favorite albums!

[Lala goned.]

By this time, Ed Hall were getting hugely gigantic in Texas and landed a part in Richard Linklater's Slacker (1991). The band finishing a show to an improbably empty house while a bouncer picks up the photographer, and Whitley as the guy whose friends dump his typewriter over the bridge.

"Luke Flukenstock" from Gloryhole (1992)

Gloryhole (1992) 10/10 - Wow. This album delivers on all the promise. Being contrarians, every song is named for some fictitious character, from "Rachel Hourglass" through "Sandra Gubernatorial" (which is their cover of Kiss ballad "Beth" already retitled "Deth" on the 7" single). "Hortense Buttermilk" is actually the driving psych anthem "Grumbler." And "Buster Enamel" is a second go at crowd-pleaser "Buddha" from the previous one. They're pretty much all standouts!

"Guido O'Brien" from Gloryhole (1992)

The embedded videos here are from the Trance Syndicate Love & Napalm vhs comp. There were two 7" and one CD comps by this name, plus the videos. Wally Rowell, who did film projection at their live shows, directed both. I always wondered if this was the same Wally film-maker who used to come to Star Laser Force back in the day, but never figured it out for sure. Ed Hall live shows were just completely epic.

"White House Girls" from Motherscratcher (1993)

Motherscratcher (1993) 8/10 - Just a week ago, I made this my #2 Record of 1993, and it was awfully close to #1. First record with Lyman on the sticks, and he brings a more solid, less frantic beat. The songwriting would have to take a dip after the heights of Gloryhole, but there's too much good stuff here. Any remaining punk has fully given way to pure weirdness, and the instrumental jams are among their very best.


La La Land (1995) ??/10 - I'm ashamed to admit it, but I've never owned this album. When it came out, I just didn't dig it. Looking back, that was probably sour grapes - since I was living in abject poverty and angry despair. But that's not the case anymore, and so I've got no excuse. I won't cover up this part, but I'll add on later when I've rectified the situation.

Oh, and Pong will be releasing their 3rd album, Escobarb (2010), tomorrow night at the Continental Club in Austin!! Free cd if you dress up like a robot.

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