Can’t imagine I’m the only person around who counts “Neatz Brigade” as their favorite The Obsessed track. Hell, the dudes in Germany’s Rotor liked it enough to cover it for their Festsaal Kreuzberg live record (review here), so figure they dug it well enough. It’s been featured for Wino Wednesday a couple times — once Wino sat in with the aforementioned Rotor to do it live in 2010, and once from the reunited version of The Obsessed playing it at Roadburn 2012 — and while The Obsessed‘s 1985 Promo Demo has also been presented in full, it’s worth highlighting the song individually as well as it appears there, if only because the raw, early version kicks ass. Not sure what more of an excuse I’d need at this point.
By the time it showed up on a proper studio offering, nine years would have passed, and it’s now been 21 since The Obsessed‘s final studio offering, The Church Within, was released in 1994. Still, it passes the age-old test of, “If it came in today, what would I think?” First, I’d think, “wow, this sounds just like that Obsessed song with the line about making love in a mausoleum,” and then I’d think it’s pretty kickass. If you’ve never heard it, the production on the 1985 demo version is as raw as one might expect, but 30 years after the fact, that sound has aesthetic appeal beyond heavy metal nostalgia, and “Neatz Brigade”‘s rolling riff comes through clearly as a signature piece. One can understand why, a nearly a decade later, it would still have enough life in it to show up on an actual record.
This is Wino Wednesday #197 as we march toward what I’ve decided will be the conclusion of the feature at #200. If you’re wondering if I’ve had second thoughts about ending the series at 200, absolutely, yes, I have.
Enjoy “Neatz Brigade” in all its scratchy glory and have a great Wino Wednesday:
The Obsessed, “Neatz Brigade” from 1985 Promo Demo
I’m not saying I’m doing a countdown or anything, but definitely as we get down to the wire on the last few weeks of having Wino Wednesday as a regular feature, it’s made me think about what are some of my favorite tracks the man has produced in his 30-plus-year career. And yeah, there are some classics along the way, between his work in The Obsessed, Saint Vitus, Spirit Caravan, The Hidden Hand, etc. More to the point, he’s been a part of shaping American doom as we know it today, in the part of the Maryland scene that still seems to be coming to grips with what The Obsessed accomplished during their run, and well beyond.
Over six years ago now, Wino joined forces with Clutch drummer Jean-Paul Gaster and Rezin bassist Jon Blank to form the Wino band and release Punctuated Equilibrium on Southern Lord. As a record, it seemed to draw together the various sides of Wino‘s songwriting that had emerged in Spirit Caravan, The Obsessed and The Hidden Hand, and while the band’s run would be cut short by the death of Blank following their 2009 European tour and Wino would proceed to use the moniker for his acoustic solo work — making his debut in that form with 2010’s Adrift while also fleshing out the Saint Vitus reunion — the record captured something of his work that none of the other bands had, and it retains a personality of its own listening back to it now.
I always dug “Secret Realm Devotion” and thought of it as what it felt like doing while standing around at an empty doom show waiting to watch something the world outside had no idea about. That’s not really what the song is speaking toward, as the lyrics show:
The patterns on the wall send messages to me A piece unto the whole through blindness I can see My heart’s like a bird in a cage, darkness obscures the display Emotion caused reason to bend, devotions obsession transcends Not a minute that goes by, without a presence in my brain No limit just the sky, it’s beautiful and it’s strange Secret realm inside heart beat turns the key Deepest love inside unlocks the mystery When I’m down inside a tear, wondering why I’m in this place Your comfort is so dear, when the moon is full I see your face Secret realm divine, ritual ecstasy, Leave this world behind, becomes reality You’re locked into my heart, I’m with you night and day From the altar of your star, to the gleaming crown Of the moonlight rays
But it was fun to think of it that way anyhow. Whatever it’s about, it’s a quality track that stands among my personal favorites from Wino‘s vast discography, and I hope you enjoy:
There has been a lot of quality video from this tour, which Wino undertook with Oakland, CA’s Saviours and Nick Oliveri after the three parties — Oliveri with his band Mondo Generator — opened for Clutch on their annual holiday run leading up to New Year’s 2013. It would also seem to have been the root of Wino‘s recent studio collaboration with Saviours (give me another week or two; we’ll get there) and for the advent of the yet-to-be-realized Royale Daemons collaboration with Oliveri, assuming that’s still a thing in the offing for somewhere down the line. Vague enough? Good.
Point is the tour-as-nexus also yielded much documentation, be it in full-set videos or clips of other on-stage jams between the various players. It must have been a good one, since nobody’s quite let it completely go. Fair enough to revisit, then, as we continue to wind down the Wino Wednesday feature on the march to number 200 in a few more weeks (this is #194, if you’re counting). This time around, it’s Wino and Saviours delivering a killer take on Motörhead‘s “Limb from Limb.”
The clip comes from Los Angeles, was filmed Jan. 11, 2013, at The Satellite, and even this wasn’t the first time Wino and Saviours had jamemd out — the band having brought the legendary frontman on stage at Scion Rock Fest in 2010 as well — but clearly by the time they got out to L.A., they were comfortable sharing a stage together. Of course, the song is the closing track from Motörhead‘s 1979 sophomore outing, Overkill, and it’s no less of a classic than that album as a whole, but Wino and Saviours give it its due, the former hanging onto the microphone in a manner that anyone who saw him with Saint Vitus over the last six years will likely recognize.
Hope you enjoy and have a great Wino Wednesday:
Saviours & Wino, “Overkill” Live in Los Angeles, Jan. 11, 2013
I’ve officially decided that I’m going to at least semi-retire Wino Wednesday after the 200th edition. A fictional document has been written in legalese, signed and notarized — yes, my brain has its own internal notary — and included in that are clauses stipulating that the feature can be revived pretty much any Wednesday I feel like it and that all parties involved acknowledge that 200 posts will be plenty and that if there are any complaints, I’ll simply point the complainer back to the 200 editions preceding, because there’s no way he or she possibly read them all. I’m sorry, just no way.
So that’s that. We’ve got eight more Wino Wednesdays to go, however, and this week’s comes from Spirit Caravan‘s recent appearance at the inaugural Maryland Doom Fest in Frederick, MD. Organized by War Injun drummer JB Matson, the festival was by all accounts I’ve seen a rousing success, and well deserved. Matson put together a killer lineup and Spirit Caravan were among the headliners, playing as the trio of Wino on guitar/vocals, Dave Sherman on bass/vocals and Ed Gulli on drums in place of Henry Vasquez, who was in Europe with Saint Vitus at the time, that band being fronted by original vocalist Scott Reagers at least for the time being.
What makes Gulli‘s presence in the trio so special, particularly for a song like “Kill Ugly Naked” — which was released on Spirit Caravan‘s classic 1999 debut, Jug Fulla Sun — is the fact that he played drums for The Obsessed when that band recorded it on their 1985 promo demo. Gulli and “Kill Ugly Naked” quite literally have 30 years of history between them. Fucking awesome.
The shot’s a little odd — a 16:9 aspect ratio, vertical, is just bizarre looking — and where Sherman should be there seems instead to be somebody’s elbow, but the sound is decent and you get a sense for how killer the performance was, so I’ll take it. Enjoy and have a great Wino Wednesday.
Oh, and if you’re wondering, the Maryland Doom Fest has already announced its 2016 dates. It’ll be the weekend of June 24, 2016, once again at Cafe 611 in Frederick. Excellent.
Spirit Caravan, “Kill Ugly Naked” Live at Maryland Doom Fest
The long-established tradition (around here) of Wino Wednesday returns after a two-week absence. Last week, with the Quarterly Review, there wasn’t really time to get one together, and the week before that, hell, I don’t even remember what was happening, but something that felt like a valid enough excuse at the time. Nonetheless, we’re approaching ever-closer to Wino Wednesday #200, so the only thing to do is plunge ahead once again like we never missed a beat. Did you notice it was gone the last two weeks? No, probably not. You have a life. I’m the only one who notices this stuff.
All the same, we come back to Wino Wednesday in style today, with The Obsessed‘s 1999 compilation, Incarnate. The first Wino-related release on Southern Lord — it was catalog number “sunn3″ — it was a posthumous issue, The Obsessed having broken up following the release of 1994’s The Church Within, though a split 7″ with The Mystick Krewe of Clearlight also surfaced in 2001. By the time Incarnate showed up, Wino was about four years deep into the tenure of Spirit Caravan, who started out as Shine in 1995, and had released their debut album, Jug Fulla Sun, the year before. Still, the collection of demos and other odds and ends served well to tie up The Obsessed‘s run, and its 2003 reissue (also on Southern Lord), along with Wino‘s involvement in Dave Grohl‘s Probot project, would help introduce him to a new generation of fans.
It’s a 59-minute run, so not a slight undertaking, and of course being a comp it brings together recordings from various sources, but if you’re going to listen to it front to back, it’s probably not your first time hearing this stuff. Playing it now to write up this post, it seems eminently worth a revisit. Still not sure the status of The Obsessed‘s reunion, as it seems to have given way to that of Spirit Caravan, but we’ll see how it shakes out. In the meantime, enjoy and have a great Wino Wednesday:
As I suppose will happen when you’re approaching your 200th Wino Wednesday — this is #190, so if there’s a countdown (and there isn’t), then the countdown is on — I went to look up the date when Wino was at Reggies in Chicago early in 2013 and found the info in another Wino Wednesday post. File under “Go Figure.” The date, incidentally, was Jan. 6, and it was after he and Mondo Generator and Saviours finished touring with Clutch for their annual holiday bonanza, and that other clip was of Nick Oliveri and Saviours and Wino jamming out a cover of Savoy Brown‘s “Hellbound Train,” a song Wino had also been performing for over a year in the duo Wino & Conny Ochs.
That set-finishing jam seems not to have been the only exceptional circumstance around those shows. “Dark Ravine” was a track originally included on the first Wino & Conny Ochs album, 2012’s Heavy Kingdom (review here), and as Wino did tours in that duo in Europe and the US, it’s easy to imagine that material was pretty fresh in mind. Still, it’s an interesting take to hear him perform the song solo; its already lonely, melancholic vibe becoming only more so for the solitary rendition. The camera in this clip sticks pretty close to the man himself — it’s a tight shot the whole time through — so there’s not as much a sense of what the crowd’s response would’ve been, but the song sounds good anyway, and we get a little of that good acoustic fuzz, so I’ll take it.
Been curious to see what Wino‘s going to do next, touring-wise. He’ll play with Spirit Caravan at the Maryland Doom Fest at the end of the month, but with the status of his spot in Saint Vitus questionable, it’s kind of an in-between moment. In the past, that’s brought about new projects, and there have been murmurings in that direction with the Royale Daemons collaboration with Oliveri, but nothing has materialized there as yet, so time will tell what’s actually going to happen.
One thing’s for sure, more Wednesdays. Enjoy:
Wino, “Dark Ravine” Live at Reggies, Chicago, Jan. 6. 2013
The Texas Cannonball, bluesman Freddie King included “Going Down” on his Leon Russell-produced 1971 album, Getting Ready, and it’s a smokin’ number with of course King‘s stellar guitar work and a post-Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters meld of blues and heavy rock and roll. The song was written by Don Nix and is identifiable early by its repeating “down, down, down, down” hook and accompanying instrumental descent, and King is somewhat malleable to its sliding groove — less than a decade earlier, he’d touched on surf and bossa nova on separate albums, so maybe malleability wasn’t a problem for him. The song’s been covered plenty of times over the years, and even Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow touched on that hook with “Self Portrait” from their first album, but King‘s version remains the definitive.
We don’t get to see the entirety of the jam Wino plays off it, but a glimpse is better than nothing. The show was April 18, 2015, at Ace of Spades in Sacramento, California, and Wino was there solo, supporting Black Label Society. He has a bassist onstage with him, and one who matches him for quick turns in the solo, which makes it all the more exciting, but I’m not sure who it actually is. Either way, we get to hear some of Wino‘s “unplugged” fuzz, which is a pretty delicate balance for a hollow instrument to strike without going all to hell in noise and a mess of feedback. Not exactly Wino‘s first time at the dance, so it’s not a surprise he’d nail it, but ultimately all this video does is make me hope that sooner or later he comes back to the eastern seaboard and that “Going Down” makes its way into the set, because I wouldn’t mind seeing the whole thing for myself if given the chance.
Hope you enjoy, ignore the whistling goon and have a great Wino Wednesday:
Wino, “Going Down” live in Sacramento, CA, April 18, 2015
As for how Scott “Wino” Weinrich came to front Bedemon at the Psycho California fest this past weekend, that — as one might expect coming from the doom outfit who are rightly considered legends despite never having played live before — is something of a long story. Bedemon‘s collection of rare tracks and demos, Child of Darkness, was reissued earlier this year by Relapse, and I guess that’s as good a place as any to start while the band fills in on the rest:
BEDEMON has never performed a single show, ever, with any line-up. When discussion of possibly appearing at Psycho California first came up in November, we were honored. As the months have passed though, determining who would be in the band has proven to be a real challenge on many levels for many reasons. Ultimately, due to prior commitments, neither long-time member bassist Mike Matthews nor current BEDEMON vocalist Craig Junghandel will be able to participate at the Psycho California show. There was some talk about possibly having PENTAGRAM vocalist Bobby Liebling do the set, having appeared on the 70s songs contained on their Child of Darkness: From the Original Master Tapes release which has just been reissued by Relapse Records in both CD and vinyl form, but in the end it was felt that his focus needed to be on PENTAGRAM, who are also appearing at Psycho California and additionally are currently finishing up a new studio album for release later this year.
Yet despite these seemingly insurmountable setbacks, you can’t kill BEDEMON that easily and doomed you will be, Psycho California, as Greg Mayne of PENTAGRAM’s classic 70s line-up will be appearing on bass. Mayne also has BEDEMON ties himself, as he was in the line-up that recorded the 1986 BEDEMON sessions after Mike had moved to Washington state. This will be the first time Mayne and O’Keefe have appeared on stage together in nearly 40 years.
And speaking of Geof O’Keefe, better-known as the drummer for the 70s PENTAGRAM who recorded the original studio versions of “Forever My Queen,” “Be Forewarned,” “Last Days Here” and others, at this show he’ll be playing guitar.
“People not familiar with the early beginning of PENTAGRAM might not realize that when Bobby and I put the band together back in the fall of 1971,” says O’Keefe, “I was originally the guitarist for the first two versions of the band. I’ve actually been playing guitar longer than drums. Not only is this the first time I’ll be playing guitar live on stage but it’s the first time I’ve stepped on a stage in 30 years. I couldn’t be more excited and appreciative to be part of this special and historic experience!”
So with Junghandel and Liebling not singing, who will be handling the BEDEMON vocals? Stepping in on this very special occasion is a rather unique guest and another DC legend in his own right: Scott “Wino” Weinrich! (SAINT VITUS, SPIRIT CARAVAN, THE OBSESSED, PLACE OF SKULLS, SHRINEBUILDER, THE HIDDEN HAND as well as having released a number of great solo projects).
Says O’Keefe of these developments: “While I am really disappointed neither Mike and Craig can perform at this particular show due to prior career commitments, this is an amazing line-up for a very special show. I’m excited to have my old buddy Greg Mayne on board. I haven’t seen him in nearly thirty years and haven’t played with him in forty. And Wino is a DC legend and international star in his own right and it’s an honor to have him guesting on vocals.”
So what becomes of it? Probably nothing. I don’t think we’re going to see Wino fronting a reactivated incarnation of Bedemon anytime soon. One never knows, but Bedemon released their proper debut full-length, Symphony of Shadows (track stream here), in 2012 and seem to be content to do their own thing, and with the Spirit Caravan reunion ongoing and the new Wino & Conny Ochs just out, it seems more likely that if Geof O’Keefe (interview here) was itching to keep the band moving forward, he’d find a situation a little less complex to enter into with a frontman. Though Wino-fronted Bedemon would be pretty badass.
That’s the impression the video below of “Time Bomb” gives, anyhow. Filmed at Psycho California in front of what’s clearly a packed house, Bedemon‘s first show ever featured this track off Child of Darkness and it looks to have been every bit the landmark occasion one might expect.