diskant is an independent music community based in Glasgow, Scotland and we have a whole team of people from all over the UK and beyond writing about independent music and culture, from interviews with new and established bands and labels to record and fanzine reviews and articles on art, festivals and politics. There's over ten years of content here so dig in!

 Subscribe in a reader

Recent Interviews

diskant Staff Sites

More Sites We Like

diskant rewind: Bargain Bin Culture #1

Posted: June 7th, 2008, by Wil Forbis

(Originally posted December 2001)

Bargain Bin Culture by Wil Forbis

So this was it… this was supposed to be my big break. When diskant contacted me about writing a music column, I figured I’d hit the big time. No longer would I be a part time loser with a full time absinthe addiction, travelling the streets, forlorn and dejected.. By wielding the vast power and clout that came with an organization such as diskant, I’d be on the inside track of the music business. No longer would I have to stand in 100-person lines to watch the big acts; instead, the bouncers would simply wave me through. No longer would I have to hide in the bass drum to get backstage, I’d simply flash my diskant badge and I’d be smoking crack with Axl Rose and Dr. Dre. (On that note: Marceline, where is my diskant badge? You said you’d mailed it weeks ago.) THIS WAS THE BIG TIME, BABY.

The problem came when I sat down to write. As a writer, you’re not so much a self-motivated creative force as you are an ANTENNA TO THE UNIVERSE. You sit down, tune in to the cosmic A.M. and spit out what the great Gods talk at you. Unfortunately the Gods were about as quiet as Harpo in the Marx Bros. films. I just couldn’t get the juices flowing. It seemed a simple enough task – all I had to do was lay down my thoughts on the music of the day. (Sure, most music of today sucks, as did most music of yesterday and will most music of tomorrow, but there’s still plenty of chill stuff to hip people to.) It wasn’t that I didn’t have anything to say about it, it was just… it had all been said before. So, I was sitting there, feeling the rage of literary impotency wash over me and my eyes desperately cast themselves about my bedroom for inspiration. Could that pile of dirty socks speak to me about the state of modern music? For the first time, they were quiet. What about my collection of 1960s erotica? It too held its tongue. But then my eye settled on the darkest corner of my room and Shiva, Jesus, Elvis and all the other Gods of inspiration spoke to me. In that corner, you see, lay my record collection… my beautiful record collection… comprised mostly of obscure audio treats I’d picked up at a variety of pawnshops, garage sales and home invasions throughout the years. These records had eased the pain of many a lonesome night and spoke singularly about me – about my tastes and my ideas. Who else would have an album by the 1970’s progressive rock band, Kayak, next to the Broadway soundtrack for “A Chorus Line.” Or the Brothers Johnson’s 70’s funk masterpiece, “Light Up The Night,” sleeve to sleeve with Robert Goulet’s “Summer Sounds.” None other than little old me, that’s who! And I realized that I finally had a tangible theme I could work with! By examining records like the vinyl that lay resting amongst the filth-strewn contents of my room I could provide a look at the history of rock and roll. Because the albums that end up in the used bins and pawnshops truly are a genre unto themselves. They’re the one hit wonders and the no-hit flounders. They represented lifetimes of rock and roll dreams gone up in smoke due to record company bankruptcies, changing fads, lack of talent or plain ol’ tragedy. These records were the grimy old men who sit at the end of the bar… and at last someone would tell their story!

Now, I’m sure that moving introduction has brought one thought to your head. “Are you gonna review some fucking records here or what?!?” Well… ahem…. Yes, I am actually. First up is one of the all time favorites from my collection: REGGIE KNIGHTON! Who is Reggie Knighton you ask? I asked the same thing when I came across the album in a record store many years ago and the 25 cent sticker on its cover lured me like a siren call to seek an answer. I often pick up albums I’m completely unfamiliar with if the cover is attractive enough and price is low. (A rule I’ve applied to women with painful and itchy results.) Reggie’s self titled 1977 debut fit the bill. On first listen there wasn’t much there. Musically, Reggie pretty much followed the rules of his times: power rock of the Paul McCartney and Wings variety with some vague country tinges. I gave it a few spins and realized that, while it wasn’t bad, it wasn’t exceptionally good. So I filed it away, content that I’d gotten my money’s worth. The record sat unlistened for several years till I pulled it out again on a whim and gave it another listen. And this time, I really listened… It remained clear that Reggie would never go down as one of rock and roll’s most exciting musicians. But as a lyricist – Knighton isouttasight! Whereas P-Dogg and Wings always used their mid tempo rockers to ramble on about love and relationships, Knighton was yelping out verses on topics like sexual diseases, drug dealing, robot chicks, alien chicks and finally, radioactive chicks (the best kind). The guy was clearly not your average 70’s rock crooner. For instance, snort up some lines from his musing on the cyborg women of the year 2177, “Tricentenial Woman.”

Now I know that in the future
Things won’t be this way
A hundred years from now the world will see…
Automatic women who change their looks every day
What a place for a guy like me to be…

Or how Ă”bout his lyrical assertion that Uganda’s despotic leader, Idi Amin, had syphilis, in “VD Got To Idi.”:

VD must have got To Idi Amin
Dah dah, dah dah
Maybe that’s why he like to chop
All his people’s heads off
He seems to like to do that at the drop of a hat
(Chopping sound) Just like that

And let’s dig Reggie’s ruminations on the life of a Police officer in “Public Servant.”:

You say that you hate me, but without me would you do?
Call a hippy? (What would you do?)
Call a junkie? (What would you do?)
You can’t fights guns and knives without police power!

But I don’t want you to get the impression that Reggie was a hardass. He could be just as tender and loving as the next guy. In “Girl From Pluto” he offers tribute to his alien girlfriend who’s his “lovin’ mama from outerspace, down to earth as a girl could be. ” (In the seventies, it was popular to call your girlfriend “Mama.” I don’t even want to analyze the Freudian implications of that one.) In “Jenny” he lays out his plaintive pleas to his disfigured girlfriend not to run away and join the circus. In “Glows In The Dark” he examines the trials of having a luminescent girlfriend with such magnetic poetry as “I’m in Love with a girl, Who glows in the dark, We can’t go out at night, For a walk in the park.” How can you hear to this stuff and not feel a tear come to your eye? What I’ve always found fascinating about the Knighton legacy is that the guy could have very easily been a traditional pop star. He had all the requirements: a decent voice, handsome features, long hair – he was another Dave Mason waiting to happen. Yet for some reason, Reggie felt the need to push these crazy sci-fi lyrics on America, and he paid the price.

He released one album after REGGIE KNIGHTON, which continued his themes with songs like “Rock ‘N’ Roll Alien” and “Clone In Love” and then dropped out of site. Maybe he got sucked into a UFO and is sexing up a robot prostitute as we speak. I certainly wish him the best, and “the best” usually involves robot prostitutes.

So, I know your head’s probably reeling form such a far out dude as Reggie Knighton, thus, I thought I’d finish off this column with a more earthbound, but still eclectic album from my collection. I chose PERISCOPE, a 1994 compilation from Olympia’s Yoyo recordings, because it was an early predecessor to a lot of the diskant faves. (Indeed, it was sent to me by …Trail of Dead’s Jason Reece, who signed off his enclosed note saying, “Goodbye, my fiend.” To this day I’ve never figured out whether he really thought I was a fiend or he just forget the “r” in friend.”)

So what’s on it? Quite a bit of good stuff, actually, and I’m not a big fan of “indie-pop” which is I guess what this would be called. The album starts out with “Bloody Breath” a surprisingly catchy hardcore number by the Mukilteo Fairies, a band that featured the aforementioned Jason as well as guitarist Quitty who’s now with Tight Bros. From Way Back When. The next highlight is a contribution from the band Excuse 17, whom were a female fronted guitar pop band. That’s followed by Oly stalwarts Fitz of Depression, who offered “Piss Butt” which was no better or worse than any of their other material. A couple of forgettable bands down the groove and we arrive at Cub doing “Flaming Red Bob Sled” followed immediately by a geeky, Ramones style rocker, “Chubbette” by the Crabs. Side A finishes out with “High,” by Appleseed. (…Trail of Dead fanatics might be interested in the fact that the singer in this band was the singer in an earlier Jason Reece project called Honeybucket.)

Side B kicks off with a distorted chord progression over a droning bass note as supplied by the Bloodthirsty Butchers. This delightful tune, entitled “I Hate You” is one of my favorites. Neutral Milk Hotel’s “Bucket” has a melancholy kind of fuzz and Long Hind Legs provides a somewhat atonal dirge called “Dress in My Bed.” The next tune, by Tattle Tale, is probably the mellowest song here, all acoustic guitars and cello. Its sedating effect is immediately countered by Team Dresch’s “Fake Fight” which definitely has a catchy vocal line. Copass Grinderz then offer a yawn inducing high-speed fuzz-fest (Sort of what Mukilteo Fairies would’ve sounded like if they were lame) which, in a bold turn of events, turns into a slow-speed fuzzfest. The album rounds off with Beck doing his early country/folk thing. (Keep in mind, this is way before he’d entered his eclecto-rock phase or even Winona Ryder.) It’s actually pretty interesting to note how many of the performers on this album went on to some level of success. Unlike a lot of the stuff I’ll review, you can actually track down a copy without driving yourself insane. Start by going here: www.buyolympia.com

So that’s it for now kiddies.

I don’t want to be no Adolph Hitler, mama. I just want to sing my love songs to you.
Reggie Knighton

Wil Forbis

Wil writes for the delectable Acid Logic webzine, as well as for this crackin' outfit here. He's also an obvious habitual liar, going on how he describes himself in his other writings. Truth is, Wil is a two foot tall computerised metal monster who likes nothing better than to CRUSH, CRUSH and CRUSH humanity to within an ounce of its puny life. When he's not CRUSHING, he enjoys tennis and jogging.


Comments are closed.