PPM70. LP / CD. Edition of 500. Black Vinyl. Full color printed cover. Full color Inner sleeve. Liner notes.
Made mostly in Eugene’s living room in Greensboro, NC on Jan 21st and 23rd, 2020 during a family visit between Sunwatchers tours by the NC native McHugh, Bad Scene was recorded live in single takes to Jim’s portable multitrack rig. Augmented by overdubs in some cases to create chamber-quartets or full-band vibes, all songs remain, at their hearts, duets — with one notable, freaky exception.
McHugh envisioned a casual snapshot of his friendship with Doc Chadbourne, who he has revered since he was a local teen teaching himself guitar enough to start punk bands in 1990’s Greensboro. Recent years, they’ve grown close as collaborators: touring together in duo and with Sunwatchers, and McHugh produced 3 Characters (Amish, 2018), the celebrated 2xLP of songs by Minutemen, Doug Sahm and fellow Greensborian Henry Flynt made by Eugene with Sunwatchers as his band.
As 2020 grew monstrous, motivations behind the project shifted. Empty months compelled McHugh to expand arrangements and edit passages into new forms. The snapshot became an oil-painting portraying their tandem energy: figurative and abstract all at once, cast in dayglo chiaroscuro — a sonic fact made manifest by Gary Panter’s amazing cover art. See: the title track, a Ten Years After tune with tear-ass guitars crazed ragged by a rhythm section cut from the Swell Maps’ funny papers.
The soul of Bad Scene, tho, lives in the stark numbers, spacious and comfortable to reveal the personal bond that propels them: Doc’s Shockabilly classic “Hattiesburg, Miss”, Woody Guthrie’s dire “Hang Knot”, and a raging take on the IWW anthem “We Have Fed You All A Thousand Years” that recalls D.Boon, Bill Orcutt, Doc’s historical Albert Ayler versions and, of course, Utah Phillips, with whom Eugene shared stages at folk festivals more than four decades back.
Resonant from beyond the grave is Jimmy Carl Black’s voice on Willin’ — the throbbing sore thumb in this dual fist of duets. Smacking of Michael Hurley, Keith Hudson, and (tourmates of Doc’s at their peak mid-80’s weird) Butthole Surfers, its basis is a 2007 Tokyo audience tape of Eugene and Jimmy playing the Lowell George gem on what would be their final tour as The Jack and Jim Show. Spaces gouged in the song by Jimmy’s rusty/tipsy singing, and widened subsequently by his two-ton rhythmic pocket in Tokyo (and as the drummer on the original Little Feat version!), provided impetus for Doc and Jim to layer improv on the archival recording; back in Brooklyn as the weather warmed, it transmogrified in the studio of McHugh’s frequent cohort Jon Erickson into the seasick country-dub creation you hear now.
Jim McHugh is a musician and producer from Reidsville, NC now based in Brooklyn. He is founder of the jazz-punk band Sunwatchers, whose prolificacy, inclusionary leftism and scorching telekinetic playing has garnered international acclaim since their formation in 2013. Currently, Jim is completing a home-recorded solo LP, honing a duo project with the renowned Downtown NYC drummer Jonathan Kane (Swans, La Monte Young’s Forever Bad Blues Band, Rhys Chatham), and finalizing a benefit album of Sunwatchers rarities. He produced and played guitar on the last known recordings of the late free-jazz pioneer Arthur Doyle, has composed film scores, was leader of the Athens, GA free-rock cabal Dark Meat, and has performed and recorded extensively with Brigid Dawson of Thee Oh Sees among many others.
Virtuoso of guitar and banjo and inventor of the electric rake, Dr. Eugene Chadbourne is a flat-out legend in musical realms too plentiful to list. He’s been active as an improviser, songwriter, protest singer, collaborator, composer and producer of DIY releases since the early 1970’s, when he left the US as a Conscientious Objector to the VietNam War. Based in Greensboro, NC since his 1982 relocation from Manhattan, Doc has played, toured, recorded and released records with everyone from Derek Bailey to Frank Lowe to Sun City Girls to Camper Van Beethoven to John Zorn to Brian Jackson to The Violent Femmes to Anthony Braxton to Keiji Haino to Han Bennink to Peter Brotzman to Jimmy Carl Black and Sunwatchers.
1. Bad Scene
2. Hattiesburg, Miss
3. We Have Fed You All A Thousand Years
5. The Boy With The Coins
7. Hang Knot
8. Dry Brain
9. Hangin On A Star