Stung In the Heart
In this recurring dream of mine I’m in a field of gold. I’m alone, the wind is blowing, summer wheat smell invades my senses. I’m relaxed but expectant, when, from a distance he arises like a scarecrow, gaunt and measured, from a far-off part of the field. He bats his eyelashes and lets his metaphorical hair down. We begin doing yoga as the sun sets behind us. Before we fall into a deep, smooth sleep he whispers softly in my ear, “You’re my desert rose.”
This desert rose
Each of her veils, a secret promise
This desert flower
Anyways in case you couldn’t tell, I never have that dream but I do really, really, really enjoy Sting, or, referring to the good ol’ name he was born with, Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner CBE (sorry to out you on such a public forum Sting but the name was just too good).
So, imagine my surprise when amongst the music that I’m not cool enough to listen to I find something, rather, someone, who really understands me. And as if it could get any better, it’s on an album that features covers of songs by Kurt Weill, a leader in the avant garde music scene in Berlin of the Twenties. I had to listen to this, and you will too:
Having little to no knowledge of Weill’s body of work, I soon learned that he was well worthy of covering and honoring, and he absolutely is revered and respected on this album with performances and covers of his songs from such superstars as Lou Reed, Tom Waits and John Zorn. Weill wrote and collaborated with Bertolt Brecht on such masterpieces as The Threepenny Opera and The Seven Deadly Sins. He scored the Broadway musicals One Touch of Venus and Lost in the Stars. Langston Hughes was even quoted as saying “Weill was a truly universal artist, who could with equal justice be claimed by Germany as German, France as a Frenchman, by America as an American, and by me as a Negro.” So this guy truly was a force to be reckoned with, a force worthy of the combination of the tooty tuba and operatic gravel of Sting’s voice that had to come together to create this fantastic ode to a fantastic man.
This song is part legend and part reality. Relatively lost in the haze of youtube videos and vinyl compilations (well, at least here at the KSPC library) I doubt it will ever get airplay, or should even be played on the air at an independent college radio station. But maybe by bringing it to light I’ll get that moment I’ve always hoped for, the moment I’ve always dreamed of when Sting one day looks me in the eye and says, “Hey kid, you done good.”
This week’s Spin Doctors pick was not found by me.* It was found by DJ Natty, host of the wonderful KSPC program Squaremont (RIP). We were looking for Rancid records in the vinyl library when Natty pulled down a record by a band called Princess Tinymeat. Obviously, this record attracted us for the reason any of the records I write about for these posts do, it is glaringly ridiculous and baffling.
What does it mean? Who is Princess Tinymeat? Personally, I think of the Venture Brothers’ character Princess Tinyfeet, but not all people have the same level of intimacy with Adult Swim’s programming that I do, especially not PT themselves considering the album came out several decades before the show (or Adult Swim for that matter) was created. So what’re we dealing with here? Transsexual royalty with feelings of inadequacy? A small steak with a tiara? A third obvious misinterpretation? I still don’t know, but the music’s good.
The record, Herstory, is a 1987 compilation of PT’s various singles and EPs. Formed by experimental musician Daniel Figgis, at the time recording under the name Haa-Lacka Bintii (of fucking course), the band seemingly didn’t release much music. This compilation covers most if not all of their released songs. For the same reason I was drawn to Princess Tinymeat in the first place, the last track on the record, “Devilcock!,” immediately attracted me.
“Devilcock!” is a throbbing (heyo) cut that, to my relatively uneducated ear, falls somewhere between industrial, goth, and post-punk. The drums pound and crack. The bass bobs. Distorted washes of guitar dart in and out. Bintii’s voice is surprisingly high. I always expect the vocalist of any goth-sounding band to sound like Ian Curtis but Bintii does his own creepy and deranged thing on this song. Since these posts are first and foremost about the music, I’ll get out of the way now and let you listen for yourself.
*Actually, I initially saw this record when I was reorganizing the P section of the vinyl library a couple weeks ago. Princess Tinymeat is a great enough band name that it stuck with me even though at the time I was in a re-alphabetizing fervor and could be stopped by nothing short of a bomb threat. Even then I probably would’ve hung around a little longer to get a few more 7 inches filed and to see whether the dude even “had the balls.” It should also be mentioned that the Princess Tinymeat LP was misfiled so clearly I did a good job.