Tuesday, February 5, 2013


Frances has raised protests about the photo shoots before. This time, it took forever to figure it out:

Frances: I don't want to look at the record.

Me: How about I put it behind you and you don't look at it?

Frances: I don't like records behind my back.

Me: Maybe you could hold it out to the side and look the other way?

Frances: I don't like to hold my arms like that!!!

And so on. The issue was simple though. She was TERRIFIED of the TERRIFYING cover of the CROMAGNON record. Skeletons sucking in the cosmos through plugs in their trepan-holes, a melty-face mountain moss mustache guy, acid all over everything. Yep. (Actually come to think of it, it was the cover that made her pull it out in the first place.)

Holy crap is this record scary! The hit is "Caledonia", the song that used bagpipes and demon vocals to invent black metal a decade and a half before anyone in Norway thought about burning a church. No, really: "The hands and nails / Frozen black / By twilight stripped of sinew / Sinew splintered / Splendor crackled / Swirling forest castle ride / Funneled through / Magenta hallways / Hell was but the froth..." Then there's like a whole side that sounds like an outtake from The Walking Dead where the zombies decided to have a hippy drum circle. And then side two is like that too except that there's this one track (called "Genitalia") of people screaming and squeaking (yes, squeaking) with a guy crooning over it like demon Bobby Darin. And another black metal song, minus bagpipes, plus hell-viola.

It's like the Fugs, or the Firesign Theater even a little bit, except if the Fugs and the Firesign Theater HATED THE FUCK OUT OF YOU AND WANTED YOU DEAD. This record has a nine-minute song with melting wails over a brutal two-chord acoustic guitar battery, which is called "Crow of the Black Tree".

The reissue I have, on Get Back from the late 90s, has this text in place of the band photo from the ESP-Disk original:

Since we handle the ESP catalog with care, it was our intention to reprint here the original back cover. Now watch what can happen when "The artists alone decide...": Mr. Grassmere didn't want this picture to reappear because his former buddy Brian Elliot died in a car crash long ago, & he didn't know how the third guy came onto the photograph... So what.


So recommendations. This blog is about recommendations.

Don't play the Cromagnon record at a party, unless it's a demon party.

Don't make a child hold the record, unless you want to TERRIFY the child. And you should not want to terrify a child.

If you reissue a record, do it with permission and work with the artist, if at all possible.


  1. Bravo, Matt and Frances. You've done it again, another entertaing and enlightening post. As you may know, this LP was big favorite of mine and Justin Kollar's back in the good ol' 914 days. Also, about a year ago, there was a real good article on them in Ugly Things magazine that cleared up a lot of questions and misconceptions about the Cromagnon legend... well worth checking out.