Saturday, December 13, 2008

One Of Wisconsin's Coolest Labels-Cuca Records! Elemental Instrumentals!

Cuca Records was founded in 1959 in Sauk City,Wisconsin.The city was and still is a small farming community, caught in a time warp, a rocking time warp,musically. The small modest studio began in a basement(see above) ,and was one of the most significant small independent studios around the Wisconsin area. A lot of unknown bands and people recorded there, and it was a place to get your feet wet,and make a 7" single, and have it pressed up, and sell it at your live shows,impress your friends, and parents. It gradually became one of the best studios, through simple word of mouth, and virtually every Wisconsin band from the late 50's-to early 60's recorded there. You couldn't beat the recording rates! For $37.50 you could record your two or three songs,with no clock bearing down on you, get 300 copies of your single,and make some cool music. Cuca Records boss Jim Kirchstein was one clever decent guy, buying a lot of second hand recording equipment, and setting up shop. But the music on this label wasn't always rock and roll,some of it was polkas,old timey folk music, Swiss yodeling, and whatever else anyone wanted to record. This release "Elemental Instrumentals captures the instrumental rock found all over the Wisconsin area at the time.
What it was possibly lacking in technical skill in recording made up for it two-fold in the sheer excitement and creativity. This release is pretty amazing for the unknown bands of this era,
one song that just stands out strongly are The Montereys doing a song called "Rocker". Released in 1959, it pre-dates the surf era and the song "Wipe Out!" by a good two-three years. Where did they find music like this? Tucked away in those small towns, where kids,their brothers and sisters took their high school band classes, and just liked to mess around playing live shows to make a few extra bucks.
I don't think anyone had "stardom" in mind, I think they were just messing around, and that's where some of the best music comes from.
Another stand out track is "The Lonely Huns" by the band Attila & The Huns from 1965, also predating and sounding wildly close to a version of The Midnight Cowboy theme, which by my estimate came out in 1969 or so. Unusual music to say the least, and is definitely caught in a time warp. We're talking Twilight Zone.
Curious stuff! Creative and unlike most of the rock around the Midwest, considering Wisconsin a landlocked state, instrumental and "surf " styled music thrived. Sara Records was also another label name under the umbrella of Cuca Records, along with the Night Owl label-also part of Jim Kirchstein's publishing company.
There's so much more to say about Cuca Records,and the famous Fendermen single,and I think I'm going to spread that out over several releases, because you simply can't pin down this label to any one style of music or sound. It's also hard to condense this music into one post here.
Cuca Records; It was just: come on in and record your best tunes. Which for most musicians meant, do your own thing. Some of the music is dated sounding, but perhaps that's why the music still stands up after all these years, it's not really following every trend, or style, and has a sound all of it's own. Listen and see. It well worth tracking down this release,and get the liner notes, and also read online for there are several articles on the net all about Cuca Records.
It's well worth investigating, and learning how a small label nearly in the middle of nowhere can make some very cool music. Link in comments section. Be sure to stay tuned for The Fendermen, more garage music from Wisconsin, and other rarities!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Knuckel Drager Live Photos

Madison,Wisconsin's Knuckel Drager rocks the house at
The Cactus Club in Milwaukee, opening up for The Lords Of Altamont.
Both bands were "on fire".
Photographs courtesy of & copyright Stephanie Soltes,
all rights reserved. See her myspace page here: tons of cool ass rock and roll and punk photos. Go see.
The Cactus Club is a fine place to see local, national and international bands, so go and support the place. It's a wonderful small club that is intimate, and has really great sound, and is battling to stay open,because it's a neighborhood bar,and the neighbors don't like the noise. Whatever happened to art?

Knuckel Drager - Slam Bang Showdown! & 13 Diabolic Hits - Madison Wisconsin Crazies!

Knuckel Drager is a fire breathing garage surf band from Madison Wisconsin.
I think there's 6 members in this band. I've tried to do a mask count, and I think
I counted 6 of them running around. Little else is known about them, they wear
scary masks, and play a brand of music that could be compared to newer
garage punk bands like The Mummies,The Bomboras and The Lords Of Altamont.
Those wild tear 'em up bands!
They're crazy onstage,and use a traditional garage band instrument -a keyboard,
but their keyboard breathes fire! I caught them at a few shows, and was pleasantly
surprised how truly fun and crazy they are. If I were you, I wouldn't miss one of
their shows,ever! It's exciting,and fun, and there's always a feeling of anything
could happen. And that's always fun for me, as an audience member.
Their music is wild, and usually instrumental, short bursts of speed garage surf.
And they even graced the stages of Gearfest 2001 in Austin Texas.
They're getting around, and I think it's great to have a band like this who really
put on a wild stage show and put so much into their shows, you'd be a fool not to
check them out, and I'd expect them to be snapped up by a small independent
label or just be sure-they're going to be putting out their own product like
these two fine releases here. They have a myspace page, at : and I would expect you to write them,
and check out their shows,(I'm certain they have a list of shows and dates posted)
and support them whenever possible by buying their stickers,albums,t-shirts,
and naturally their shrunken head necklaces.
I've got one hanging in my car right now, right around my rear view mirror.
And whenever I gaze at that green skull hanging there,I think of them.
I think I'm in love. Links are in the comments section.

Friday, November 14, 2008

WRIT Milwaukee Radio Charts From The Golden Age Of Radio

Click on radio charts to see them larger! Check out the competition in 1964 and 1966!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Couch Flambeau- Self Titled - Les Paul!

Couch Flambeau have been around since the early early 1980's, and continue to play shows around the Milwaukee area. Unusual for a band to even stay together this long, but then again, Couch Flambeau aren't you're usual band! They are a strange blend of punk pop metal rock with a sense of humor that maybe only Milwaukeens might understand.
Then again, some of their music and jokes tend to be very Spinal Tap. The recording,and playing is top notch, and they have three full length albums to date. They started out as The Couch Potatoes, and quickly changed that to the now Couch Flambeau-don't ask me what it means, but at least you will remember them, right?
I have their earliest cassette release Curiosity Rocks,which was recorded in 6 hours, and even then showed wild creativity.
They're fun and catchy and hard NOT to like!
They opened up for all of the cool Midwestern bands who blew through the area:
The Violent Femmes, Big Black,The Damned,The Butthole Surfers,The Replacements, and played many local gigs, with just about every other local band. They played every club in Milwaukee, that came along
(Cafe Voltaire,soon to be The Odd Rock Cafe or simply The Odd Rock ,The Underground,and many others) and were also well played on WMSE 91.7 FM the city's only college radio station that matters. They developed a fairly large cult following, and still really are a fun band to see, as they drag out most of their material at each show. (most songs are 2-3-4 minute compact little blasts). Always entertaining, never sucking! That could be their t-shirt logo along with a cool customed Hot Wheels car.
Look for their other releases: Mammal Insect Marriage (1983), The Day The Music Died (1985),and severals singles and EP's like "We're Not So Smart"/"Mississippi Queen"(yes -that old Mountain song from 1970! )(1986), and the brilliant Models EP (1987), and oh, don't forget Ghostride(1989).
All are highly prized,and worth finding! So get to it!
Here's a sample of what you've been missing. You're gonna like it- I'm sure!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Oil Tasters-Self Titled Album 1982 -Get Out Of The Bathroom!

This is the beginning of a new blog,which we wanted to feature mostly Wisconsin bands. And bands from the area around Wisconsin.
Some you might remember, and some you might not know anything about, if we present the music, pure and simple, that might make you want to hear it, and enjoy it.
The Oil Tasters weren't a punk band,just a different group of 3 guys (Richard LaValliere, Caleb Alexander, and Guy Hoffmann )who made music unlike
anything else, so it got tossed into "punk music".
True- they did have an unsual sound-drums, sax and a bass guitar only? Yeah, why not? The music is herky jerky and jazz-like, and angular, so "they" called it post punk rock. I don't know who they are-let's just say the critics.
At the time this album came out, in 1982 anything odd was classified in punk music. But then, there was always a built in small group of people, that came to love this band,and support them,wherever they played any shows. Unfortunately there wasn't enough local support, and clubs to play and make a living out of this, and each member grew and morphed into other projects. But in the early 1980's they were pretty much the "house band" at The Starship. The Starship was the best place to play, and get seen, and sell your music at that time. It was always The Oil Tasters,supported by 1 or 2 or even 3 other bands who opened up for them . Lucky Milwaukeans were able to hear this self titled album and singles by The Oil Tasters on WSOE soon to be WMSE 91.7 FM radio,which was the only college radio station, and it the THEE PLACE to hear when and where the next Oil Tasters show was going to happen.
The Oil Tasters bounced from Chicago to Milwaukee,to Madison for years, and quickly gained a serious fan following. First they released their singles in 1980,and 1981 and even got noticed by Bruce Pavitt who made home made cassette compilations called Sub Pop. The album featured here, is the culmination of their singles, and their one and only album which was
released on Thermidor Records out of Berkeley,California in 1982.
They are truly one of the most unique and wonderful bands to ever come from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and we only wish they'd reform, for a show again, and remind us how great they were,and still are.

I'm still new at posting on blogger, so please be patient ! Here's the real live music link below which will no doubt change your life, once you hear it. Thanks for coming to visit, and you are always encouraged to write comments, and share your stories of
Wisconsin music. And if you don't like this blog, then start your own damn blog.