01/07/22 - Three Records - Fruit Bats

Before Covid came and changed everything for everyone, I was the Friday night DJ at the rowdy Bar de Courcelle in Montreal. I played from 10pm to 3am for over seven years. I also DJ'd 5pm to 10pm at two related bars on Wednesday and Thursday. During that time I found myself buying so much vinyl just to keep it fresh. On top of buying music to play at the bar I was also buying music to play at home. After a while I realized how much money I was spending (and how much space I was losing in my home) because of records. So I started this thing in my head called the "three records".
I figured that owning three records (albums or EP's) that really give an idea or feel or, well, just really speak for themselves bandwise, would save me some money. And be fun! Sometimes the three records come out in order and are easy to pick. Other times they skip over and bounce around. Anyway, here is the first "Three Records" entry: Fruit Bats.

Fruit Bats are an indie folk-rock act that grew from the four-track recording project of songwriter Eric D. Johnson into a touring band with an ever-shifting lineup.
1. Echolocation
2. Mouthfuls
3. The Ruminant Band

Echolocation: While there are certainly some standout songs on Echolocation, like "Need It Just A Little", "Strange Little Neck Of The Woods" and "Dragon Ships" this is an album that is bigger and better as a whole. It's a journey. A quiet journey but a journey nonetheless.
Personally, when I first heard this album, it reminded me of America. Heading west out of Philadelphia along big interstate highways to smaller two lane scenic byways and eventually, glorious quiet backroads. It feels like spring going into summer in the USA.
Released in 2001 Echolocation is an Indie-folk rock record. Bands like the Shins (who Eric would eventually join for a while) and Modest Mouse were all over college radio and music sharing sites like Audio Galaxy at the time. Fruit Bats were kind of a part of all that but also like a hidden gem. From but not of that world. The album feels like a new country music to me. The lyrics, the guitar work and the light electronics peppered throughout, I feel like you can draw a pretty straight line from this album to William Tyler or a band like SUSS.

Fruit Bats - Echolocation - Bandcamp

Mouthfuls: The opening song "Rainbow Sign" picks up right where Echolocation finishes up. Mouthfuls is a perfect follow up to Echolocation. It is equal parts a continuation and a next chapter. You can hear so much growth and change going on. To me it feels like the map which Echolocation was based upon was traded in for a much more in depth road atlas.
Probably the best known song from this record is "When U Love Somebody" (my old band actually covered this back 2006) but standout songs for me are "Slipping Through The Sensors", "A Bit Of Wind" and the gorgeous "Little Acorn".
Released in 2003, Eric (and his crew) have much more to say on this second release. He seems much more comfortable this time around. A bit more seasoned. A lot of the electronics are gone from this album, traded in for little flourishes of folk. To me it's definitely got a mid summer feel to it. Smart lyrics, great instrumentation and strong songs make this a great follow up and a lovely album.

Fruit Bats - Mouthfuls - Bandcamp

The Ruminant Band: I skipped over the third album by Fruit Bats because I feel like this fourth album solidifies the trilogy. I also wasn't much of a fan of that third record, it felt like a different band from a different time. When The Ruminant Band came out I'd lost interest and forgotten about Fruit Bats. I was on a solo tour and happened to stay with a friend who worked in the music world when I saw a promo copy of Ruminant laying on his coffe table. I fell in love with it after one listen. I'm going to stick with the map analogy: If Echolocation was a map of the USA and Mouthfuls an atlas, Ruminant Band is like an old beloved map that's tattered from so much use and hung on the wall as a memento of those early days.
Every song on the album is fantastic. If I had to pick a couple of standout songs (amongst all the standout songs) I would have to go with "My Unusual Friend", "Singing Joy To The World", "Flamingo" and the stunningly beautiful "Being On Our Own".
Eight years passed between the release of Echolaction and The Ruminant Band but sound, feel, and lyrically it feels like a lifetime. Summer's over, mid September, taking stock and getting ready for the winter. Thats' what this feels like to me. A character late in life. Looking back fondly. Or at least looking back without worry.

Fruit Bats - The Ruminant Band - Bandcamp

Thanks for reading!

01/03/22 - The Rat Patrol From Fort Bragg Mixtape

Before the Clash released Combat Rock, there was an album titled Rat Patrol From Fort Bragg. The initial draft was conceived almost entirely by Clash guitarist and songwriter Mick Jones. The bootleg recordings of the Rat Patrol sessions that would eventually surface years later reveal the proposed album to be not only superior to the actual release, but one of the greatest "lost" albums in pop music history.

"When the Clash went back into the studio to record their 5th LP they were not in good shape. Drumming prodigy Topper Headon was drawing ever-nearer to the rock bottom of his nasty heroin habit, while lyricist Joe Strummer and bassist Paul Simonon had re-hired their old manager as a means to wrangle the group's increasingly unwieldy sound and image. Mick, the band's only real and functioning musician, was both at odds with Joe's desire to get back to basics and at odds with the manager's desire to wrestle creative control from him. But instead of a compromise, Mick decided to go all in on his idea for a new Clash record. As the only one with producing and engineering know-how, there wasn't anyone around to stop him... yet. Rat Patrol would essentially be Mick's ultimate statement, a highly mechanized and expansive hybridization of New York funk/hip-hop and the jungly, reggae-inflected new wave of their Sandinista! days. Jones' presented the "finished" product to the rest of the Clash and their label, and the reception was almost unanimously negative. Joe Strummer and manager Bernie Rhodes balked at the extended running times of several of the tracks, "Does everything have to be a bloody raga?!" Rhodes would famously say. CBS execs saw the album's bizarre hybrid of underground genres as a threat to its marketability. Jones was outnumbered, and CBS hired former Who producer Glyn Johns to remix the album to a single LP. Jones was inconsolable. So upset that the rest of his band had so thoroughly rejected his work, he could hardly bother to show up to the remixing sessions hosted by Johns, often arriving hours late after several of Jones' tracks had already been remixed. Several of Rat Patrol's best tracks were removed outright, other tracks' lengths were cut in half, verses were changed or left out, and samples and effects stripped away, the result of which is the final product Combat Rock."

I spent the last year or so, on and off, working on what became this mixtape. I sourced the tracklisting from various bootlegs, coming up with what I think was the closest to what could have been Mick Jones double album. Some of the bootlegs I found had simply replaced versions of songs from Rat Patrol with the versions that appeared on Combat Rock; but I opted for finding the original alternate versions (early on I even editing together the Combat Rock version with the lesser quality sounding Rat Patrol bootlegs). While making this Rat Patrol Mixtape, I wanted to leave Combat Rock as it's own thing. I'm not really a fan of that record, I've always found it a bit thin sounding and while there are certainly some fantastic songs on there, It never felt very cohesive to me. Anyway, I wanted Rat Patrol & Combat Rock to be two separate releases.

I was able to fill in some of the missing songs or alternate versions by taking them off of the various Clash compilations and boxsets. Just recently (May 2021) I found some high quality rips of "Know Your Rights", "Inoculated City", "Car Jamming", "Atom Tan" and "Death Is A Star" from the recently auctioned single Rat Patrol Masterdisk acetate! That made it possible for me to go back and replace the edits I had done with these much better sounding and better quality files. Lastly, and this is where I might get some blowback, I decided to use the Rankin' Roger takes of "Rock The Casbah" and "Red Angel Dragnet". I agree with the Clash/Joe Strummer in using the version of "Rock The Casbah" that appears on Combat Rock. It's definitely the stronger and, I can imagine, more fun to sing version of the song. But like I said, I wanted this to be different from Combat Rock (as well as the "Rock The Casbah" single). As for why The Clash/Joe Strummer went with the absolute garbage version of "Red Angel Dragnet" from Combat Rock when they had this excellent version with Rankin' Roger sitting around is beyond me. The quality of this version of "Red Angel" is not the best because I had to cut loops, lay them under and reedit the base track from the Combat Rock version together with a fairly crappy sounding bootleg of the Rankin' Roger take.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy my experiment with what should have been Mick Jones masterpiece.

01/01/22 - DJ Marc Francis - New Golden Jawn

New Golden Jawn is a 53 minute DJ mix (by me) to help start 2022 off on the right foot. (Jawn is Philadelphia slang for anything - literally anything. Jawn is used as an all encompassing substitute for any person, place, or thing. Like this mix, a chill ass but funky jawn.)

The Jimmy Giuffre Three - The Swamp People // Submarines - Modern Inventions // Half Moon Run - On & On // Cocteau Twins - Sugar Hiccup // Gary Numan - Music For Chameleons // Skiftande Enheter - Snubblar Genom Dršmmar // Tim Burgess - I Got This [Andy Votel Remix] // Kiyosumi Kurokawa - Metal // Nena - Lass Mich Dein Pirat Sein // Munya - Benjamin // Angel Olsen - New Love Cassette // Asher Gamedze - Slyabulela

Anyway, I hope you enjoy my New Golden Jawn!.

12/23/21 - Blog, Mixtapes, Alternate Versions Of Albums And Other Curiosities

I am going to post blurbs, blogs, mixtapes, and whatever else I might find interesting on here in hopes of people some day stumbling upon it. Thanks for stopping by!