Saturday, September 11, 2010


Syd Straw on the two pics on top with Anton Fier down below gettin' after those skins!

Back in the old days, before the internets, if you wanted to find out or hear new music it was sometimes kinda hard. I remember I had read in some music publication talking about alternative bands that were on the scenes in NYC and LA about The Golden Palominos, and then heard one of their tunes off of their first full length album on KTRU (Rice University radio in Houston) and raced on down to the sorta weirdo hangout of a record store in Montrose that had all kinds of cool music I'd never heard before.

Their first album came out in 1983, and I thought it was cool as hell. I later got it on cd in the late 80's, along with the two following Palomino CD's.

So when I discovered the Palaminos, I just knew that they'd acheive some sort of commercial success, particularly after their sophmore effort VISIONS OF EXCESS came out, with Syd Straw singing some great country and western rock tunes. BLAST OF SILENCE was their third album and was much like the second.

After these albums, I more or less lost interest in new works of the band and stuck to listening to particularly the first two albums. They lasted a lot longer then I realized, when I looked them up on Wiki to get some personnel names, but the more advant garde they got the less they interested me. I'd love to have a live video with a good audio track of one of their gigs between 1984 and 1987.

But alas, fame never came, and I don't think any of these folks expected to become the next Fab Four in this band. The band itself had a solid core of well known alternative and NYC musicians in it: Anton Fier on drums, Bill Laswell on bass and Nicky Skopelitis on guitar. They had various regulars and singers and generally every album had more or less some of the same supporting musicians joining the Fier/Laswell/Skopelitis core of the first album.

They had some very noteworthy musicians who played with them, some a few times and some for years. Airto Lindsey and John Zorn were long timers of the band as well, appearing on the first album. There were guests and/or members in the band like Jack Bruce, Matthew Sweet, Johnny Lydon, Richard Thompson, Michael Stipe, Don Dixon, Peter Holsapple, Fred Frith, T-Bone Burnett, Amanda Kramer, Bob Mould, Lori Carson, Knox Chandler and many others.

Wiki says they held a couple of reunion shows this past May. I wish they could get on Austin City Limits, which would be the perfect venue for them and give us long time fans some kind of dvd reminder of that gig. Anton Fier is a relative unknown outside of really hardcore drumming fans like myself, and he's been playing on the New York City scene for decades, blazing new trails.

But the first three albums of the GP's are more commercial efforts than most would have expected from this experimental and avante garde bunch. The songs have clear lyrics and structure and verses and choruses and proper solos. Some are slower, including a few excellent ballads, and several of my favorites are driving hard rocking tunes. "I've been the one" sung by Syd Straw is a classic as is her version of "(Kind of) True". Classics.

Here's a write up I found at this site about the reunion they had in May of this year:

The 1985-’87 Syd Straw-fronted lineup of Anton Fier’s experimental and ever-shifting Golden Palominos will perform live in New York next month for the first time in more than 20 years in what the drummer calls “an experiment” that may be a precursor to a full-time reunion of the band beginning this fall.
The Palominos — Fier and Straw, plus
Jody Harris and Jim Campilongo on guitar, Tony Maimone on bass and special guest Robert Kidney on vocals and guitar — will perform with The Walking Hellos and The Wingdale Community Singers at Le Poisson Rouge in New York City on May 7 as part of the unveiling of Electric Literature’s fourth fiction anthology.

In a
note posted on the venue’s website, Fier writes that there were five different Golden Palominos lineups, but the Straw-era edition of the band — which recorded 1985’s Visions of Excess and 1986’s Blast of Silence — was the only one “that attempted to be a live, touring rock band.”

He adds:
“I am generally not the nostalgic type or one to look back… and in the past 23 years since the last Golden Palominos live gig, I have never before considered reviving a past version. But recently I heard Syd sing and I was struck by the beauty of it… and wanted to work with her again… so we’re giving this a try here and if it’s fun and exciting for us we might consider doing it again on a more full-time basis in the fall… so this is an experiment… to see if it is possible to go back in order to go forward.”

Fier formed the Golden Palominos in 1983 with
Arto Lindsay, John Zorn and Bill Laswell, and recorded through the ’80s and ’90s with a revolving cast of musicians (including Michael Stipe, Richard Thompson, Bob Mould and John Lydon) and developed a sound that touched on No Wave, free jazz, Americana and even featured some electronic flourishes. The band, which sputtered out in the late ’90s, probably is best remembered for its 1991 single “Alive and Living Now,” featuring Stipe on lead vocals.

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