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Stars Pick Their Top 5! This week: The Flesh Eaters

The Flesh Eaters
The Flesh Eaters

They shamble up, out of the past and out of the dirt. The Flesh Eaters are an old-school bluesy punk band from the scene's early days in LA, alongside groups like X and The Gun Club. Their sound is raw, cryptic, tinged with death on every rough corner. Frontman Chris D.'s morbid yet poetic lyrics fuse wonderfully with the band's hazy production, minimalistic drums and the occasional saxophone or glockenspiel. After releasing their debut album in 1980, they're now working on their 10th album—their first in 15 years—set to release later this month. If their string of studio albums has any hint to their new release, expect entrancing, creepy garage rock with just enough camp and virtuosity for near-anyone to nod-dance to.

Get bitten by The Flesh Eaters at 191 Toole. 8 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 17. 191 E. Toole Ave. $22-$25. 21+. w/ The Mission Creeps and Kid Congo Powers

Patti Smith


I'd been a fan of her poetry and her excellent, indie-pressed single "Hey Joe"/"Piss Factory" (by song's end, conflating the revenge killing of an unfaithful mate in all other versions of "Hey Joe" with kidnapped Patty Hearst's co-option into the doomed Symbionese Liberation Army surpassed derangement into emotional transcendence, true-WTF-brilliance.) And her debut album Horses (on a major label!) continued the upward euphoric swing into pure, blissfully sexually prurient, defiant, tough female rock swagger, consciously connecting a throughline back to French symbolist poets of the late 1800s!

The Stooges

Tie between Fun House and Raw Power

Pure primitive accidental/cosmic transition of trailer-park-white-teen-outcast-James-Osterberg into James-Brown/Jim-Morrison/Mick-Jagger devil-spawn. The abrasive locomotive sledgehammer of James Williamson's guitars on "Raw Power" has still never been equaled.

The Velvet Underground

The Velvet Underground & Nico

Lou Reed's dark, funny, sad, sarcastically transcendent ode to New York's dark street life on this and the two immediate follow-up VU albums is unparalleled in tragi-comic brilliance.


High Time

Many prefer their first two albums for pelvis-ripping subversively anthemic, tear-down-the-wall exuberance, but this third, last studio album captures the MC5 at their fullest potency. "Sister Anne," "Future/Now" and "Over and Over" are unforgettable.

John Lee Hooker

Blues Alone

For literal moaning-blues-from-the-crypt/cave/basement of the soul, these songs from Hooker's late 1940s/early 1950s Detroit sessions still send chills down the spine. Rivals Howling Wolf for creepy, midnight, bad scene/dream loneliness.

Bonus choices from The Flesh Eaters:

THE ROLLING STONES (3-way tie of BEGGARS BANQUET / LET IT BLEED / STICKY FINGERS) Everything they did up through/including magnum opus "Exile on Main Street" was different shades of great. But these three were a distillation of phenomenal songwriting. The lyrics went into uncharted territory beyond what most so-called super-groups were doing (or would even dare going): "Sympathy for the Devil,"Jumpin' Jack Flash, "Live with Me," "Let It Bleed,""Midnight Rambler," "You Can't Always Get You Want," "Wild Horses," "Sister Morphine," "Dead Flowers" and pinnacle chaos anthem, "Gimme Shelter."

THE DOORS (first 3 albums)
Yes, you could do what Patti Smith would do a decade later even more easily in the 1960s (with psychedelics oiling the creaky hinges), mixing the darkly romantic, sick, dark, surreal dreams of the young teen subconscious into mystical, sexual, euphoric Top 40 hits! 

Don Van Vliet's most accessible (and debut) album features the delightful fusion/indescribable tension of Ry Cooder's bottleneck guitar with Van Vliet's absurdist, tragi-comic dada lyrics and unique blues growl, sparking exhilaration and raising the bar for where blues-rock could go.

With the exception of "Young Americans" (which is rock bottom on my Bowie-meter), I was a huge fan of all Bowie's LPs from "Man Who Sold the World" through "Low," then into kind of 'meh' territory thereafter. Bowie was already on a similar wavelength to notorious beat iconoclast William Burroughs, but you could really tell the two had become friends and were talking by this point. The first side of this LP (for me) is peak Bowie at his darkest and most punk, but side two is a bit forgettable.

Plus the songs:
  • "If There is Something" and "Mother of Pearl" by Roxy Music
  • "Gonna Fay's" by Lotti Golden
  • "Love is Like an Itching n My Heart" & "Forever Came Today" by The Supremes
  • "River Deep/Mountain High" By Ike & Tina Turner
  • "It's My Life" by the Animals
  • "Love Will Tear Us Apart," "Dead Souls," "She's Lost Control" by Joy Division
  • "Sex Beat" and "She's Like Heroin to Me" by the Gun Club
  • "Sex and Dying in High Society," "Our Love Passed Out on the Couch," "Adult Books," "The World's a Mess, It's in My Kiss" by X
  • "Dark Night" by The Blasters
  • "Dirty Nightgown" by Dave Alvin, "Vietnamese Baby" by The New York Dolls
  • "King Ink," "Several Sins" and "6 Inch Gold Blade" by The Birthday Party
  • "Long Time Man" by Nick Cave
  • "Ice Cream Phoenix," "Greasy Heart," "Hey Frederick," and "Eskimo Blue Day" by Jefferson Airplane, "Born This Way" by Lady GaGa (really!)
  • "Garbageman" by The Cramps
  • "White Room" by Cream
  • "Submission," "Seventeen" and "Anarchy in the UK" by The Sex Pistols
  • "Complete Control," "Janie Jones" and "Jail Guitar Doors" by the Clash
  • "Baby Doll" by Girlschool
  • "Ace of Spades" by Motorhead
  • "You've Got Blood, If You Want It" and "Shoot to Thrill" by AC/DC
  • "Moaning in the Moonlight", ".44" and "Evil" by Howlin' Wolf
  • "Sweet Dreams" by Jethro Tull

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