Flip Nasty: The Bootleg No One Else Would Make (live, 1994)
Notes on 2000 CD re-release of THE BOOTLEG NOBODY ELSE WOULD MAKE:
In the late 1980's and early 1990's, the advent of portable DAT and Minidisc recorders gave rise to a prolific underground cottage industry: concert bootlegging. Enterprising young recordists, some of whom were stoned, smuggled their prohibited equipment into show after show by bands such as Pearl Jam, Metallica, Phish, and Harry Connick Jr. Once positioned in their typically terrible seats, they would point their little microphones (used here non- euphemistically), light their little Zippo lighters, and chronicle the magic of the moment. In 1992, Checkmate Records --always one move ahead of the competition (tm)-- made a policy decision regarding the label's stance on prosecuting bootleggers for their blatant phonoright and copyright infringement. Whereas labels such as Geffen, Atlantic, and Blue Note set a vigilant punitive industry standard that has evolved into present-day Napsteresque litigations, Checkmate decided to take the road less travelled and publicly condone bootlegging of all Checkmate artists. Smugly, the PR department sat back in their nerf-filled cubicles and waited for the flood of positively-charged permissive ions to overwhelm the record-buying public with love.
And then they waited some more.
After two years of waiting for even one single concert bootleg to appear in any of the literally thousands of underground newsgroup catalogues of such pirate albums, the label decided to take matters into their own hands. Checkmate keystone band El Squeako (later renamed Flip Nasty), already under a ridiculous contractual obligation to produce at least as many live albums as studio albums, was approached about the possibility of "going boot" for their next effort. The band, preparing to record their masterpiece Pronounced "Snausages" studio effort, reluctantly agreed to allow überprodusser Cat Mayhugh to once again sully their reputation with his ultra-lo-fi vision of musical mastery. Mayhugh decided at once to exclude the band from all planning stages. Working in secret with members of his clan, Mayhugh constructed a series of elaborate "Trojan Horses" in which he could conceal the infamous "Checkmate boom box number two" used to record albums such as Separate Ways and Checkmate. Mayhugh and his cronies would then plant these Trojan Horses --a condom machine, a replica of the ironclad USS Merrimack, a robotic bass player (predecessor of the John Fried 2000), and a tape recorder-- as inauspiciously as possible at low-key El Squeako preparatory gigs throughout the greater Denver metro area. Then working with associate producer Joh3n O'Meara, he exhaustively catalogued over 200 hours of recorded material. But it was only at this point that Mayhugh's true genius flowered. Analyzing dozens of bootlegs of other artists, Mayhugh made the critical decision to guide the selection process for this album by the hand of that very same stoned DAT-lugging miscreant and ensure that the aural quality of a true bootleg was preserved. "I was keenly aware that this was not really a bootleg yet, despite our methods. The tracks we recorded remained slick and --frankly-- professional. The whole project smelled of the literally hundreds of pesos poured into it. It was clear that something drastic would have to be done to deinstate the production quality to a whole new level of low fidelity." To that end, Mayhugh played the original material over the loudspeaker at Skate City and recombined the resulting ambient wash back into the original Trojan Horse recordings. "It totally sounds like someone recorded us on a piece of s*** pocket dictation tape recorder. I am completely embarassed to be obligated to promote this album for sale," said frontman Cody Weathers of the final product, "This kind of crap is precisely why I'm always reluctant to work with Cat Mayhugh. He's got some sort of vendetta against clean, audible, pleasant-sounding recording methods, and if you try to compromise and meet him halfway, he'll just b****-slap you and make it even worse. I mean, he doesn't even have a real stereo in his home studio; he's had these tin-can-and-twine dealies set up to play back driftwood-pressed records with a cactus needle stylus. That's his goal: 'does it sound like it's flotsam coming out of a f***ing tin can?' Well, I think he surpassed himself on this one."
Roads: I don't always have the answers to the questions you ask me anymore. Maybe it means I don't love you, or maybe I love you so much more. I can't put my finger on it --it's quite hard to define. But I can't answer yes or no when you ask me if you're mine. CH: Many, many roads that a man must follow. Some bring joy, others sorrow. I don't know which road I'll take tomorrow. I can't always give you comfort when you're feeling oh, so blue. Maybe it means I've got someone else, or maybe I don't have a clue. Well I won't bet my life upon it unless your love is true. Instead of being lost in time, I'd rather be lost in you. CH. I can't always savor the flavors that I need to be tasting with you. Maybe it means I'm distracted --maybe distracted by you. Well I can't get inside your mind, no matter what I try. Darling, if you live without me, will you really truly die? CH. I can't always buy the moments that I need to be spending with you. They're quite an expensive pleasure --I'm not sure what I should do. Well I can't put my money down to make you happy, dear because diamond rings don't mean a thing if you don't want to be here. CH
Scared: Spicy auburn daughter of the sun, in the rain, your father sleeps, his hatchet stance be stung. Would the moon, your mother, cast an eye over every passion pair to capture you and I? You've been hearing naiads in the stream wash their tales of awkwardness, whisperings of me. Are you pushing nails into my brain? Cling to me like creeper then you question me like chain. CH: What are you scared of? I don't kill little girls. Sugar in your pockets can't remain. Turn their secrets to the air and wash them in the rain. You are not so bound to think things through. Analyze to paralyze when you must feel the truth. CH. Bridge: The desert blooms between us in a heat borne by a fog. I can feel your father steaming, trying to burn this water off. Shimmer-dancing daughter of the moon, wrapped in sheets of gossamer, I'll spin you out real soon. You've become a hammer in my heart. Fastened like an April bud, I'll chase you, chase you like a spark.
Act Your Age: Slacker child, what will you do if I don't look out for you? It's a wonder that you grew. Youth is such a stupid stage, try to learn to act your age. Slacker child, start sowing seeds, I know what you really need. All you do is f*** and feed. You can't run --you're in a cage. Try to learn to act your age. Slacker child, McManager, huddled in your can of worms. Shut it, twig, and hear my terms. You can't eat your daily wage. I will make you act your age. Now I have anecdotes to tell, might as well get comfortable. Slacker child, how will you live? I have lost my will to give all my money through your seive. Time has come to turn the page, try to learn to act your age. Slacker child with c*** in hand, this, you think, makes you a man. Tell me son, what is your plan? I'm your father, not a sage. You're the one to act your age. Father of the slacking one, you raised not an idiot son. I know what it is I've done. I can face my own mistakes. This is how I act my age. Now I have rumors to dispell, might as well get comfortable. Father, why you endless rage? Don't forget I'm not your age.
Do You Want It?: Fancy rolls, diamond rings, lots of women, lots of precious young things. Playground children eight years old can't kick the habit of the candy he sold. Dirty money from his crimes, he spells disaster with his criminal mind. Pre-Chorus: When he finds a victim, he gets that lust in his eyes. Gonna sell the substance 'til the day that he dies. He says.... Chorus: Do you want it? Would you lie to get it? Give me your bottom dollar and I'll give it to you. Do you want it? Would you lie to get it? Give me your bottom dollar and I'll see what I can do. See the girl? Ran away. But he's got tricks to make her stay. Sells her body on the street. He gives her crack and then he treats her like meat. She's alone, can't escape. One day it's torture and the next day it's rape. all her dreams down the drain, chasing the dragon flying up in her brain. Pre- Chorus/Chorus. See the blood on the street where the lead and flesh both meet. Nasty boys have nasty toys: assault machines make such a deadly noise. Don't be late when you pay or else he'll blow your f***ing head away. Living on borrowed time, but guns can't save his life this time.
Bloom: Shut mouth, open eyes, touch face when it sighs. Do you love me, or do you love love? I love you like a dog would. Chorus: Baby, when you're in bloom, there ain't no one can resist you. At least I know I can't, and I'm as close to no one as anyone gets. Open mouth, shut eyes, kiss lips with mine. Do you feel me, or do you feel you? I love you like a heart would. Chorus. Surely if you love me, you will learn to keep me. Share time, share space, eating roses by the fistful. Chorus.
Up To Her: Nobody called me today, I sat in my chair, and I thought about America. You used to know me, so tell me straight, am I worth the time that I'm taking up with fucking up? I want to win her heart. Everyone says that I ought to have another heart. Chorus: But I leave it up to her. I look her in the eye. I try to say the words --I know the words. I love you, will you walk that knife? Nobody said what to say. I follow my heart, If I fail, then I'd fail anyway. You used to know me and know my ways. What do you think, am I sailing for a sunny day? I'd like to think she pretends. All of my life, I've been lonely, now it just might end. Chorus. Somewhere in the way she moves, I think that I should be more nonsensical. I want to take my dreams like burning corks floating on the sea that spell her name, bobbing for the angels. Chorus.
Short Leg: Eighteen and feeling mean. Leaping in love with the junkyard queen. Darling, if I could, I'd hold you down. Don't trip on the short leg now. Antiques all new and clean. Mistaking myself for Jimmy Dean. Darling, if I could, I'd cause a frown. Don't trip on the short leg now. CH: I will bounce back from this, I do bounce back. Nineteen and living lean. Nothing for me on the classroom scene. Darling, if I could, I'd be your clown. Don't trip on the short leg now. Twenty and I loved you plenty. Saying crazy things I knew I meant, yeah. Honey, how'd I turn out to I let you down? Don't trip on the short leg now. CH. Bridge: There's no one in the world I can hold. There's no one in the world that's my own. Twenty-one, I'll need someone. Doing all the things I've always done. How about you, would you like to drown? Don't trip on the short leg now.
Dollface: Dollface likes me all tied up, she likes to make me sweat. She plays her game of chess, and I can't beat her yet. Dollface knows that she's in charge, she knows I cannot swim. Puts me on her diving board, makes me jump right in. Dollface has a little house which has a blackened wall, which has a little window so I might look right through. Dollface hides herself inside, but I can't tell you why. She takes her boyfriend in --can't look him in the eye. And when I ask her why, Dollface likes to tell a lie. Dollface likes me all tied up, I never see her crying. She says, "Take a moment to eat those words, swallow your pride, and choke to death." Dollface likes me all tied up, but I can hear her screaming. CH: Dollface, Dollface, set me free. Take off your mask and look at me. Dollface has a little heart that hides inside her breast. Dollface has a china mask that covers all the rest. Deep inside her little heart, there lies a dormant seed. Dollface starves herself to death --she can't take what she needs. Dollface has a little dream inside her hidden mind. She ties it up like me, and it gets left behind. But she runs 'round in circles, and so it comes again. Dreaming makes her vulnerable like paper in the wind. Dollface has a little world, it's almost just like ours. She takes her boyfriend in, and her mask hides her scars. She says, "Take a moment to eat those words, swallow your pride, and choke to death." Dollface needs my helping hand, but I am all tied up.
Courage: I ask the Sphinx a question, unlike the proud before me. Can I subsist on nothing? Will my beloved ignore me? Chorus: You know the right thing for you. Move that stone and move along. I come to face a traitor. I come, no gun beside me, to stop and still the clockworks, and with no mask to hide me. Chorus. At my feet, wash away what was fear yesterday. Blood for blood, love for love, courage brings my little dove. I give my heart an answer: be brave, the truth is simple. Chorus.
Lying Down: A long, smooth stick that prods the sand by the hardly stream that drifts and spreads, absorbs the sun and spies its end in cold, crashing waves. A poet, he, small and sad, touched by ghosts with pleasant hands. "Wriggle, words that torture me, from this wand for all to see." Chorus: Oh, heart, we are a line. We move, we don't slow down. But somewhere, sometime, we sped up, and now I'm lying down. Then the shadows slowly grow. He crosses dunes like sleepy snow. "This day I walk into the sea, and time forgets its name for me." Puddles gather, rains anticipate --the hardly stream must re-create. Lick and roar, those briny pores swallow all then shut the door. Chorus. A loving pair --her shorts to there-- stagger through the shine of moon and tumble, fumble, mumble, crumble, strip, rip, and dip their lips. Awkward, young, impatient, heavy, wet, "I'll make you gasp, I will deliver," whispers he. "I will receive," much sooner than she thinks. She quizzes, puzzes --he just buzzes-- "My love," she points and pauses, "look what's written where we lay." But crazed and nearly bursting to commence the act he kisses hard and rolls her over, leaving imprints, crushing insights, cutting strings. Chorus.
So Will I: Sweet little line of color and sound, I can't see the shape you follow as the song breaks down. Soft little pace creeps with the ground. Will my blanket shield you when I turn around? Sweet little spot, mumbled and hot, creepers spill like ivy that the seed forgot. Soft little nest, bitter and blessed, linger for the first and only time we kissed. Chorus: I see anger in your eyes, I'm not blind, I'm not blind. I say dogs and babies die; so will I, so will I. Sweet little drop of liquid and silk, pushing slowly, sliding coarsely like spider's milk. Soft little bud yearns for the flood. Speak the drop as if it were your aching blood. Chorus. Soft was the whispered breath, muttering and stuttering. Hot thorns with blood to press, always wistful, wondering. Sweet little face of mangoes and sand, please don't slide aside from shape in my shaking hand. Soft little eye, deep as the sky, I would be your chattle if you wouldn't cry. Chorus.
Offhand, I'd say that this is our worst or second-worst live album. The recording quality is terrible. Most of these are from open stages without board-direct recording, meaning we captured them with a boom box on our table, wherever that might be. That predominance was due, in large part, to John Steideman getting fed up with hosting open stages. His replacement at the Mercury (who also ran the Coffee Grounds stage), Michael Engberg, was a nice guy, but had a very murky PA.
Roads: recorded outdoors at Java Creek, where we first met Derek Sanchez (playing the open stage with future wife Kelly Kyrik). This is just Fried and myself. Solid playing from Fried, sub-standard from me.
Scared: Me alone at Coffee Grounds. Decent representation of how I initially played this live. By this point, I was fairly serviceable on acoustic, having been much more active playing solo in Oregon during the year. I actually don't embarass myself.
Act Your Age: Also solo at Coffee Grounds. This song isn't quite up to par, and I hadn't really practiced it, so you can hear me reaching for things throughout. With the right arrangement, this would be a decent entry on a box set disc.
Do You Want It?: Me & Speranza at Coffee Grounds. This period was when I first started to earnestly get into playing hand drums in any capacity. This is a one-of-a-kind handmade cone-shaped drum, about 8" in diameter. I love how it sounds. I was definitely influenced by the stellar play of my college buddy, Robert, into seeing the real possibilities of carrying a song with hand percussion. This version is going along nicely until I decide to alter the melody for "down the drain." That, my friends, is a regrettable decision. Otherwise, this was a nice twist on a song that we hadn't played for years.
Bloom: Same gig, next song. Decent version, but
Up To Her: This was recorded at Mercury with local guitarist Bill Groh spontaneously sitting in --he asked after my first song if he could noodle, and I agreed, having heard him play solo several times before. John Steideman was filling in for Michael Engberg, so the sound was typically good. This was a fun gig.
Short Leg: solo at Coffee Grounds. As I mention, this is only a few days after I wrote this song. Oh, that's cute, it cuts out.
Dollface: with Fried & Speranza at Java Bay, with me playing conga. I typically struggle with the words to this song live.
Courage: decent version from Java Creek.
Lying Down: Trying so very hard to speak like a human being between songs. Somehow heckling self. I don't know why I never really caught on. Some decent ideas here --a little shaky.
So Will I: Java Creek. Speranza loved the chorus effect on the host's amp.
500 Miles/Back in the USSR: Fried's maniacal backup vocal is the highlight of this entire album. I'll just point out that he has no microphone. Speranza and I switch instruments at the break in the medley because he couldn't sing and play at the same time for 500 miles.