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“Spaghetti Western Dub Vol. 1” Review By Post Punk Monk

Chopper Franklin’s “Spaghetti Western Dub Vol. 1” Was The Album I’d Waited Over 40 Years To Hear – by post punk monk .com

Chopper Franklin’s  - Spaghetti Western Dub - Post Punk Dub
Mather Louth + Chopper Franklin © Justin Rosenberg

Let me begin the tale in the following way. It was 1981 when listening to WPRK-FM the college radio station that I kept my ear glued to in the holiest of musical years. Slipped into the playlists was a single by a band new to my ears: Theatre Of Hate. The single was the stentorian fusion of Post-Punk and Spaghetti Western ethos and most importantly, the 12″ version was the song mixed into a massive dub concoction as produced by The Clash’s Mick Jones. I’ve had that 12″ single and the “Westworld” album for over 30 years.

Then a few years passed and at the decade’s midpoint, I was enamored of the 4AD band Colourbox. I bought everything I could get my hands on. In 1986 there was a CD compilation simply called “Colourbox” and it had another tantalizing glimpse of the mesmerizing fusion of Spaghetti Western music and Dub in “Looks Like We’re Shy One Horse/Shootout.” I couldn’t help but think that the two disparate styles of music got on like a house on fire. So when was someone going to really deliver the Spaghetti Western Vs. Dub goods that made all the sense on the world to my ears? As it turned out, I had to wait another 37 years, but ex-Cramps bassist turned Gothic Gunslinger Chopper Franklin has dared to venture in the dusty arroyos of the Spaghetti Western genre and has fused it with Dub to deliver a cinematic musical vibe chock-full of wild hybrid vigor. Ladies and gentlemen; we present “Spaghetti Western Dub Vol. 1.”

Moreover, he’s dared to create mostly vocal songs in the styles we’re talking about. I was astonished because the Spaghetti Western genre was primarily an instrumental groove. I love great guitar instrumental music, so I have a few Spaghetti comps I picked up in the 90s on the heels of the resurgence of surf rock I was enjoying at the time. These songs sported narratives every bit as evocative as the films of the genre itself, with antiheroes riding to their doom in a desperate moral vacuum not unlike the one in Film Noir… only set in the lawless West.

As Mr. Franklin has been helming the Gothic Americana group The Heathen Apostles for years, he wisely enlisted his vocalist in that group, the multifaceted Mather Louth, to sink her teeth into these songs. There were also male vocals courtesy of The Phantom Of The Black Hills, a Gothic Desperado band also on Franklin’s Ratchet Blade Records label [the man is a one man industry unto himself!]. When I pressed the play button I was rewarded with an album that I had high hopes for that easily surpassed my expectations.


Chopper Franklin’s  - Spaghetti Western Dub - Post Punk Dub
Ratchet Blade Records | US | CD | 2024 | RBR 752

“Blood, Tears, And Thunder DUB” featured the intro to the song rising in the distance like a cloud of dust as synth drones and reverberating vocal snatches came into focus like a whipcrack as Ms. Louth provided the omniscient narrator role to the tale of desperation and violence over the Dub Reggae rhythms that afforded Franklin a spotlight for his powerful bass work. Power which was absolutely matched by the verve of Ms. Louth who was blissfully, surprisingly, channeling the bold, brassy delivery of Dame Shirley Bassey on these songs! It was not enough to merely mix Spaghetti Western and Dub in this cauldron, but the element X of the vocals came in at a third angle to create an absolutely spellbinding fusion of genres. Gleefully mashing up wildly disparate vibes from the sixties and the seventies. Listen here.

The first song had been a pre-release single. So too was “The Scorpion Says DUB.” The interplay between the dubbed out, skittery rim hits and the rolling bassline was an evocative foundation for which Ms. Louth added the cream of her intoxicating vocals. Damnation has never sounded so luxurious! And while I think of Spaghetti Western, and Dub, for that matter, as instrumental music, the incisive lyrics from Mr. Franklin’s pen slice right to the dark heart of the genre with such poetic examination of the ripe themes we find in the Spaghetti Western genre. “Cowards and maggots” indeed!

Then the fever peaked on “The Day The Men Died.” The dubbed out melodica added a mournful mien as subterranean bass drone painted the bleakest of pictures. The only glimpse of hope in the soundstage was the subtle mandolin that was almost trampled under hoof. Throughout it thus far, Ms. Louth had been the dispassionate narrator, but the stakes got really high on this track and she was spitting out the lyric like Grace Jones in dominatrix mode. Eventually crossing the line into seething instead of singing. Biting down with violence on the lyric. The heartless reverb of the Dub mix only salting our wounds further. And then, in a masterstroke, the second vocalist entered the song.

The Phantom Of The Black Hills sang the point of view of a condemned prisoner of the song’s title. Here he reminded me of Zodiac Mindwarp’s grizzled delivery as he sang the tale of a vicious and unrepentant man of violence as he profanely spat in the eye of propriety to his very last breath. What a song and what performances! The singers here were singing like they meant every word.

Chopper Franklin’s  - Spaghetti Western Dub - Post Punk Dub
The Phantom Of The Black Hills and band with Mather Louth © CS Fly

The next track gave the spotlight to The Phantom Of The Black Hills after his, uh, arresting star turn in the previous song. The dark energy of the last song receded somewhat as “Gold In Every Hand” proffered The Phantom singing the verses in a very lazy Lee Hazelwood fashion as a world weary narrator before roaring more defiantly on the song’s chorus. Tar pit bass and vocal samples from actual Spaghetti Westerns pulling us along for the ride.

A dialogue sample of “String him up, muchachos!” opened the instrumental Dub of “You Can’t Drown Your Sorrows In Blood.” Mournful peals of tubular bells added their desolate vibe to the melodica that took the tuneful lead here in the absence of a singer this time. This track was along the lines of what I had been expecting up front by the project, but I hadn’t know what singing we’d be in store for on the album when I first was looking into it.

Chopper Franklin’s  - Spaghetti Western Dub - Post Punk Dub
The edition of 200 CDs comes signed in a screen-printed package

The perfect point between a vocal and instrumental number was reached on the haunting “The Ghost Of A Believer DUB” where film dialogue of a woman was given counterpoint by the mournful refrain by The Phantom Of The Black Hills, barely there in the mix as indeed, a ghostly presence in the song, singing “lay me down, in fields of stone.” Crafting a hook that gets caught in my mind for hours at a time.

The final “The Return of Revenge DUB” gave the bass guitar the last word on the album for an instrumental coda before the album had two bonus tracks added to the mix. It had been a radical tactic for Franklin to offer dub mixes of vocal songs in the first place, but the methodology of the album called for each track to gradually give way to Dub dissipation by the end of the cut as the version energy took over. On the last two tracks, we got to hear what were the “straight” Spaghetti Western versions of the first two tracks in all of their defiant majesty. All strings, horns, and rolling tympani. Does it work? Absolutely! But the world has no shortage of Spaghetti Western compositions already.

The great leap here was not only in making Dub mixes of such material, but then putting strong and charismatic singers in the songs. Giving me three different vectors of pleasure every time I listen to it. Marveling at how my wish for a full album of Spaghetti Western in Dub has finally been granted; magnificently, by Chopper Franklin with Mather Louth and The Phantom of the Black Hills. There are 200 signed and numbered CDs of this one in the band’s Bandcamp store with rich screen-printed artwork just begging to be taken home. And there’s an international version CD that features affordable postage to Europe! They have thought of their audience! If you’ve ever thrilled to a Spaghetti Western soundtrack, or chilled to a Dub version, then brother, have they got the album for you! You know the score. DJ hit that button!

Posted on  by postpunkmonk

Mau Maus Play Punk Rock Riot at the Hong Kong Cafe

Mau Maus punk rock riot

Fear’s Lee Ving and the Mau Mau’s Rick Wilder and the Hong Kong Cafe 12/31/80

On New Year’s Eve of 1980, the Mau Maus played main support to Fear at the last night of the first wave of shows at the Hong Kong Café. Also on the bill were the Circle Jerks and Angry Samoans, and the ensuing punk rock riot was a fitting end to a legendary run of shows at the club. Now, PBS has done an episode of Artbound featuring the Hong Kong Café and its running battle with the competing Madam Wong’s Restaurant. The following is part of the episode’s preview.

Mau Maus Play Punk Rock Riot

The Weirdo’s Dix Denny and Rick Wilder fight outside the Hong Kong Cafe

The shows and audiences could get chaotic, but it was all worth it to draw bigger crowds into Central Plaza. Bigger crowds meant more money spent at the bar and in the restaurant. And although it was mainly a business decision for owner Bill Hong, the Hong Kong Cafe ended up becoming hugely important to the punk scene. The blood-soaked shows were working — kids who had to be turned away at the door were scaling the roof and breaking in through the air conditioning ducts.

One person who was not a fan of the Hong Kong’s chaotic, punk-loving vibe was Esther Wong. In the beginning, Esther was actually quoted in the LA Times welcoming the competition in Chinatown, but that attitude changed very quickly. Tensions grew. On one side of the courtyard was Esther Wong and her skinny-tie-wearing new wave bands, and on the other was the Hong Kong and the punks. The LA press got wind of this tension in Chinatown and stoked the flames of the feud. The local media gave the whole clash a nickname that was probably intended to be snappy, but exposed the underlying racism lurking below the surface: the Wonton Wars.

The Mau Maus’ Nickey Beat, Rick Wilder, Scott “Chopper” Franklin, Michael Livingston

Punk music in Chinatown burned bright, but it burned fast. Within a few years, the genre had evolved and by 1981 bands like the Bags, The Alley Cats, and the Dils who helped define the sound of first wave LA punk had drifted out of the scene. Punk wasn’t dying, but it *was* changing. The music was being overtaken by hardcore bands and audiences. It was faster, harder, more aggressive, and tended to bring in a very different crowd. Madame Wong’s managed to survive punk and the introduction of MTV in the early 80s, but the bottom line is that even if you were successful, there wasn’t a lot of money in running rock clubs. After a while, the hassle just wasn’t worth it anymore.

Heathen Apostles Show at Bar Sinister

The Heathen Apostles will be appearing at Bar Sinister, Southern California’s premiere Gothic club, this Friday, December 8th. Also on the bill at the  show at Bar Sinister will be Jason Charles Miller and Carrellee, and it will feature DJ Purgatory. Heathen Apostles Show at Bar Sinister

Chopper Franklin’s New Spaghetti Western Music & Dub

The Heathen Apostles’ Chopper Franklin’s “The Scorpion Says DUB” is the first single from the album “Spaghetti Western Dub No. 1” (out January 26, 2024 on Ratchet Blade Records). It’s a groundbreaking Spaghetti Western Dub single that fuses the vast, arid landscapes of new Spaghetti Western music and the heavy rhythms of Dub Reggae. You can listen and download HERE, and watch the lyric video HERE.

Chopper Franklin - New Spaghetti Western Music

In the spirit of The Clash, Bad Brains’ and Public Image Limited’s brews of reggae and punk, Franklin takes his original Spaghetti Western compositions and remixes them with the deep, bass-heavy, echo-drenched soundscapes of Dub.

Chopper Franklin - New Spaghetti Western MusicIn a world where music can often feel predictable, Chopper Franklin’s upcoming album offers a refreshing departure from the ordinary. Known for his relentless energy and innovation, Chopper has played with legendary bands and artists (The Cramps, Wanda Jackson, Nick Curran), as well as creating his own projects, often pushing the boundaries of musical genres. “Spaghetti Western Dub No. 1” also features the epic vocals of Chopper’s bandmate Mather Louth (Heathen Apostles) and Ratchet Blade Records labelmate the Phantom of the Black Hills (hillbilly/thrash outlaws). They’ve sang on genre-bending songs like “The Scorpion Says Dub” (the album’s first single), “Blood, Tears and Thunder Dub” (a tale of a good man forced into an outlaw gang) and “The Ghost of a Believer Dub” (a story of a good romance gone bad) that transcend boundaries and invites listeners on an unforgettable journey.

New Spaghetti Western Music Dub Album - Chopper FranklinThe “Spaghetti Western Dub No. 1” album will be released on Ratchet Blade Records, a label known for its dedication to unique and innovative music. With an impressive roster of artists who push boundaries and challenge expectations, Ratchet Blade Records is the perfect platform for this innovative musical experiment.

Heathen Apostles Partnering With Gothic Rock Agency

Heathen Apostles Partnering With Gothic Rock AgencyHeathen Apostles are proud to announce their new partnership with Gothic Rock tour agency Rocky Road Touring (@rockyroadtouring), a bespoke agency with offices in both the United States as well as the United Kingdom.

The band is excited for this new chapter, as the agency is already home to a large selection of icons spanning across the many sects of gothic music (such as Peter Murphy, Sisters of Mercy, Killing Joke, Fields of the Nephilim, and Diamanda Galas). Henceforth, the band will be represented abroad by agent Dana McDonald, and any booking inquiries should be directed to her via dana@rockyroadtouring.com. Offers are already starting to come in for 2024, so if y’all want us in your neck of the woods, be sure to reach out.

In the 1990’s Dana was invited to move to NYC to take the position as Exclusive Talent Buyer for the legendary, Coney Island High. The list of artists whom she booked and promoted at this point is an innovative, exciting, and very diverse roster including The Damned, Modest Mouse, John Cale, Incubus, Alan Vega, 311, Queens of the Stone Age, The Ramones ( last NYC show ) and the list goes on. Around the year 2000, Coney Island High closed and lots of her beloved artists came to her directly asking her to book them a NYC show. She ended up booking them tours rather, and also separately, managing artists, and her agency, DNA Artists was born. She also continued her career as an independent promoter in NYC cultivating weekly and annual events such as Small Beast and The Official ,Annual, Lou Reed Birthday celebration which she continues to co-produce and curate.

From 2017 and up until March 2020 Dana was Head Talent Buyer for renowned NYC venues, The Bowery Electric and Berlin ( NYC) where she booked and promoted 50 local, national, and international shows per month. Most recently she has been specializing in Artist development and booking International Tours. 

Chopper Franklin to Release Spaghetti Western Dub Album

Spaghetti Western Dub Album - Chopper FranklinFrom the Ratchet Blade Records “Spaghetti Western Dub No. 1” press release: Get ready to embark on a sonic journey like no other as rock & roll veteran Chopper Franklin is set to release a Spaghetti Western Dub album, a thoroughly groundbreaking record that fuses the vast, arid landscapes of Spaghetti Western music and the infectious rhythms of Dub Reggae. The single “The Scorpion Says DUB” will be out 11/17/23 and the album will have a January 2024 release date date.

In the spirit of the Clash, Bad Brains and Public Image Limited’s brews of reggae and punk, Franklin takes his own original Spaghetti Western compositions and remixes them with the deep, bass-heavy rhythms and echo-drenched soundscapes of Dub. This fusion of styles is something you’ve never heard before, and it’s all happening on Ratchet Blade Records.

Spaghetti Western Dub Album - Chopper FranklinIn a world where music can often feel predictable, Chopper Franklin’s upcoming album offers a refreshing departure from the ordinary. Known for his relentless energy and innovation, Chopper has played with legendary bands and artists (The Cramps, Wanda Jackson, Nick Curran), as well as creating his own projects, often pushing the boundaries of musical genres. “Spaghetti Western Dub No. 1” also features the epic vocals of Chopper’s Ratchet Blade Records labelmates Mather Louth (Heathen Apostles) and the Phantom of the Black Hills (hillbilly/thrash outlaws). They’ve sang on genre-bending songs like “The Scorpion Says Dub” (the album’s first single, out 11/17/23), “Blood, Tears and Thunder Dub” (a tale of a good man forced into an outlaw gang) and “The Ghost of a Believer Dub” (a story of a good romance gone bad) that transcend boundaries and invites listeners on an unforgettable journey.

The new Chopper Franklin album will be released in January 2024, and “The Scorpion Says Dub” single will be released Nov. 17th on Ratchet Blade Records, a label known for its dedication to unique and innovative music. With an impressive roster of artists who push boundaries and challenge expectations, Ratchet Blade Records is the perfect platform for this musical experiment.

The Mau Maus of Hollywood and New York

We came across this article on owaahh.com comparing the Mau Maus of New York with the Mau Maus of Hollywood. For those that don’t know the two histories, it should be an interesting read:

The image that comes to mind whenever you hear of the Mau Mau is that of Kenya’s dreadlocked freedom fighters. Not a gang of Puerto Rican thugs or even a Hollywood band, right?

In 1954, a brutal gang appeared in Fort Green, Brooklyn. The Puerto Rican gang called itself The Mau Maus, of course after the Kenyans. This was at the height of the State of Emergency and Britain was filled with headlines about a bloodthirsty savage group of ingrates who were roaming the forest and defying the perks of being subjugated by a foreign power.

Mau Maus of Hollywood and New York

Gang members: L-R Carl Cintron, Carlos Reyes, Melvin Torres & Israel Narvaez (most likely showing the middle finger)

The Mau Maus effectively died out in 1962 with the conversion of one of its main leaders, Nicky Cruz, and the arrests of others. Others moved to rival gangs, but the history of the Mau Maus as an exceptionally brutal gang remained set. Cruz had joined the gang at the age of 16; he rose through the ranks through violence and uncanny leadership, becoming Warlord of the gang only six months later. He later converted to Christianity and renounced the thug life [I had to say that, it was just opportune].

The Mau Maus was formed by breakaway members of the Apaches. They first sought permission from the established Chaplains, another gang, to set up a Puerto Rican gang in Brooklyn. The gang took the name the Mau Mau Chaplains, more commonly known as the Mau Maus. Their insignia was the crimson MM for the Mau Maus right on the breast of special sweaters made for members.

Although gangs had roamed New York before the Fifties, the Mau Maus represented a new wave of teenage gangsters who were less unbridled about brutality than their older counterparts. The gang has been termed as the most feared gang in New York between 1955 and 1958.

________

There is another group, a music band, called the Mau Maus. The band was started in 1977 by Rick Wilder after the breakup of the Berlin Brats. It featured Wilder in the lead, Rich Sherman on drums, Roderick Donahue on bass and Greg Salva on guitar. The punk rock band was based in Hollywood, California. They appeared in the movies Rock n Roll High School albeit briefly, and Cocaine and Blue Eyes.

The band only has one album Scorched Earth Policies…then and now but is said to be working on the second one.

Mau Maus of Hollywood and New York

Mau Maus of Hollywood, 1982

The band members changed often, but they all had a notorious reputation as trouble makers starting riots and shooting heroin. The group was, however, virtually unknown outside the LA punk rock scene because of Wilders aversion to major record labels. The Mau Maus of Hollywood fizzled out in the 1980s, although its members still play to date.