Here we are: half way through the huge Nomads’ 7-inch catalogue. In this fourth round of our thorough review of their 7-inches, PopDiggers continues in the same style as before to compile what The Nomads have to say about each one of them. Earlier reports covered 1981–1985 (Part 1), 1986–1989 (Part 2), and 1991–1993 (Part 3), respectively. This time we set out to investigate the subsequent bunch – seven 7-inches to be exact – starting with Wasn’t Born To Work (1993) and ending with Iron Dream (1996).
This part coincides with the 1990s’ peak of The Nomads’ 7-inches release rate. The Nomads churned out no less than twenty singles during this decade – distributed on almost as many record companies, which represents a small part of the plethora of labels that participated in the resurrection of the vinyl single at the time. When it comes to The Nomads, their peak equates to the impressive rate of one 7” released every six months!
Because The Nomads were approached by many labels at the time, they had the advantage that they could be selective and, consequently, to choose only the most interesting offers. Around this time, The Nomads became free to make a number of handshake agreements with the labels around the globe that they felt most attracted to. This became possible because their contractual restrictions terminated with the agreement The Nomads made before the recording of the album Powerstrip (1994). So, instead of being contracted as before by Amigo and Sonet, they negotiated a deal with Sonet which meant a rather generous advance (which would be used to cover the cost of the recording) combined with that The Nomads retained the master rights to their upcoming recordings.
As before, we steadfastly continue to explore each 7” according to this winning three-piece formula:
- Discographic facts (title(s), composer(s), record company, year of release, and other facts of interest – according to discogs.com, 45cat.com and the discography on The Nomads’ website);
- Content description (details relevant to the song(s) on the 7” in question);
- Testimony (selected memories that The Nomads want to share with PopDiggers).
The testimony section is the largest and most important of these, as it is in this section that the members of The Nomads provide information about what actually happened behind the scenes and report on conditions that prevailed when the 7” in question was made.
This time, too, PopDiggers have the pleasure to investigate what the members Nix Vahlberg, Joakim E. Werning (formerly Ericson) and Hans Östlund have to say about the present fourth batch.
Both Wasn’t Born To Work and A Certain Girl are from the album Sonically Speaking (1991). Wasn’t Born To Work is also the B-side of their first Sonet single with Can’t Keep My Mind Off You on the A-side (previously presented in part 2) of this series.
A Certain Girl was first recorded by Ernie K-Doe in 1961 (Minit). It is written by Allen Toussaint (1938–2015), but this song belongs to those he credited to his parents by using his mother’s name, “Naomi Neville”, as a pseudonym. (No kinship with the Neville Brothers, even though they also come from New Orleans). A Certain Girl was also covered by The Yardbirds in 1964.
Shake It Records contacted us from out of nowhere and wanted to do a single with us. We thought that was cool because Shake It Records released two great singles by The Customs around 1980. Especially Long Gone is fantastic. Peter Greenberg, formerly with DMZ and then Lyres, played that scorching guitar in The Customs. It wasn’t until later we found out that Shake It also has a very respected record store.
A Certain Girl ended up with a really good arrangement, we think. It was a song that we knew of since long. Primary inspiration was the version by The Yardbirds – one of the few occasions when Eric Clapton uses a fuzz box. But we also knew the Ernie K-Doe original through Ulf Lindquist, our former producer at Amigo Records.
The title Rat Fink A Boo Boo was taken from the Ray Dennis Steckler ‘60s’ low budget movie Rat Pfink A Boo Boo. We thought it was a funny word sequence. That’s all. Our Rat Fink A Boo Boo has nothing to do with the film itself, which none of us has endured to watch until the end, by the way. Rat Fink A Boo Boo was recorded live at Ritz in Stockholm in 1992, most probably by Kenta The Taper (mentioned in Part 3 of this series).
The back cover shows a photo of us in Basque Country. The photo was taken by “Äckel-Olle” (≈ “Disgusting Olle” in English). He is a dear friend of ours, who wanted to be called just that at the time. Maybe he thought the name was appropriate since he was involved in the records by the below-the-belt band Onkel Kånkel. He helped us on some of our tours, selling merchandise and such. And he was also one of the founders of Freak Scene Records in Stockholm.
A. Wasn’t Born To Work (live) (B. Fröberg, N. Vahlberg, H. Östlund, T. Johnson)
B. Call Off Your Dogs (live) (J. L. Pierce, P. Case)
[Munster Records I Ref. 7061 / 1994]
Freebie with the Munster edition of the LP Powerstrip (1994). Plain black and green labels. Limited edition of 1,000.
Live recordings of two previously released songs that had been released as studio recordings before. Wasn’t Born To Work was originally on the album Sonically Speaking (1991) and as well the B-side of the first Sonet single (see Part 3).
The Nomads’ Call Off Your Dogs first appeared on the album Hardware (1987). It is composed by Jeffrey Lee Pierce of The Gun Club fame and Peter Case (The Nerves, The Plimsouls and The Breakaways). Call Off Your Dogs was also recorded by The Droogs about the same time and included on their album Kingdom Day (1987). On the Droogs’ album, Steven Soles is credited as the third composer of Call Off Your Dogs.
Since we wanted to be a little bit cautious and save the studio recordings from the Powerstrip session for later releases, we instead contributed with two live recordings on this bonus single. It came free with the LP Powerstrip, which resulted in it being a fairly low-budget edition with plain labels and a non-fancy record cover. It is merely a give-a-way to provide the buyers of the LP an extra treat.
Call Off Your Dogs was a live favorite of ours for a long time, perfect for wrapping up the main show or as an encore. We got that song from Peter Case in 1986 when he played in Sweden, but we knew about Call Off Your Dogs sometime before that. Every time we met Jeffrey Lee Pierce from The Gun Club during the mid-‘80s, he suggested that The Nomads should do this song that he had written with Peter Case. “Someday we let you hear it”, he said. But nothing came to fruition. It was not until Nix more or less pushed Peter Case into a corner when he visited Stockholm, something started to happen when Nix asked him to play this elusive piece once and for all. Finally, Peter Case backed down and strummed Call Off Your Dogs on his acoustic guitar and basically came up with the lyrics ad lib. After many ifs and buts, Nix left Peter Case’s hotel room at five in the morning with a demo cassette with the template for this track that first emerged on the Hardware album.
As for the Call Off Your Dogs track on The Droogs’ album Kingdom Day – this is best explained by the fact that members of The Droogs hung out with Peter Case in Los Angeles, which led to The Droogs were also offered Call Off Your Dogs. Their version has practically the same lyrics as those Peter Case came up with in his Stockholm hotel room. Kingdom Day was made virtually simultaneously with Hardware, but we actually think The Nomads were the first to release Call Off Your Dogs on record. When The Droogs visited Sweden in 1989, we spent a day with them which ended with all of us playing Call Off Your Dogs together.
Because this single was released a long time ago, we have forgotten where or when these recordings took place. They are either recordings that we happened to get from someone here in Sweden or from some live performance abroad that was floating around.
The A-side, (I’m) Out Of It, is taken from The Nomads’ album Powerstrip (1994). It is written by The Nomads together with Scott McCaughey, singer and songwriter of the Washington state based groups The Young Fresh Fellows and The Minus 5.
The B-side, Fan Club, is a cover of an original first included on The Damned’s debut album, Damned Damned Damned (1977). Fan Club was written by Brian James and recorded during his rather short stint with The Damned before he formed the ephemeral group Tanz Der Youth.
When Dave Crider, founder of Estrus Records and singer/guitarist of The Mono Men, visited us in Conrad Uno’s Egg Studios in Seattle during our recording of the album Powerstrip, we decided to cut an Estrus single from this session that would become included in the Estrus Crust Club – a subscription series for the most dedicated fans of Estrus Records. Such agreement became natural since Dave Crider had recommended Egg Studios to us. He had also been supportive in many other ways. Other recordings that were important to our decision to use Egg were especially The Devil Dogs’ Saturday Night Fever as well as stuff by Mudhoney and The A-Bones.
Egg was our first studio session abroad. Even though the financial advance that we had negotiated with Sonet covered studio time, travel and lodging, it still corresponded to less than the costs of a standard recording in Stockholm.
Before we went to the States, we prepared ourselves by recording a demo session with Chips Kiesbye in Thunderload studio located in the Solna Centrum subway station – ran by the Wahlquist brothers of ’70s metal legends Heavy Load. But we did not really manage to gather all the parts needed for completion of a full-length album. In particular, not all lyrics were well developed and elaborated. When we mentioned our dilemma to Conrad Uno after we arrived at Egg, he told us to talk with Scott McCaughey: “Scott is very prolific and has no problem coming up with great lyrics”. Scott McCaughey (pronounced “McOi”, by the way) was a new and really nice acquaintance. He worked at Egg Studios and was also band booker at Crocodile Café in Seattle, where we made our live debut on American soil. And he really was as good as Conrad Uno has told us. The day after we asked him, Scott gave us these hilarious lyrics to (I’m Out) Of It. Scott is a wonderful guy and we are very happy that he seems to be well on his way to recovery after the stroke he suffered some time ago.
Our covers, on the other hand, were not in short supply. We had quite a lot of covers in our repertoire with the intention of putting them out as exclusive tracks, B-sides on singles and such. Fan Club was one of them. The choice came naturally, since we are great fans of The Damned. Especially their first album was like an explosion at the time. The Damned released the first British punk album and debuted with the punk-narrative single (New Rose).
Regarding Egg Studios, it was – it is now closed down – a fairly unpretentious studio, located in the basement of Conrad Uno’s detached house in an ordinary residential area. The session was characterized by a friendly and intimate atmosphere. When the inspiration did not flow as it should, we and Conrad went to a nearby bowling alley and relaxed for a while or loosened up with Margaritas and watched TV sports in his living room. Our visit lasted in total of about two weeks, of which the actual recording corresponded to ten days. After the recording, Hans and Nix helped with the mastering on site.
We were very pleased that Dave Crider managed to recruit Peter Bagge to make the black and white picture sleeve, since we liked his cartooning works, especially the comic book Hate. His drawing on the back of the record sleeve was based on a promo image from our photo session with the famous Sub Pop photographer Charles Peterson.
This single contains two original songs that are also album tracks. Dig Up The Hatchet is picked from Powerstrip (1994) and The Goodbye Look from Sonically Speaking (1991). The Nomads had help with the songwriting from Chips Kiesbye regarding Dig Up The Hatchet and from Tommy Johnson on The Goodbye Look.
This was our first Japanese release. Kunio Yoshiwara runs the record store Barn Homes in Tokyo and also this label, 1 + 2 Records. He showed interest in releasing a single with us and we thought it was a good idea. For a while, we had a distant hope that this maneuver would open the doors for us to tour Japan. Instead of, and some compensation for it, 1 + 2 Records released the live CD Made In Japan (Recorded in Sweden) in 1995.
Dig Up The Hatchet and The Goodbye Look are two songs that previously had been released as album tracks. Dig Up The Hatchet is from Powerstrip and, since Kunio was particularly fond of The Goodbye Look, we asked Sonet for permission to use it for inclusion on this single. That way, it became a solid two-sider.
Interestingly enough, Chips Kiesbye wrote lyrics for Dig Up The Hatchet. This may be the first time Chips was involved in The Nomads’ songwriting. On the Sonically Speaking album a few years earlier, his collaboration with us was limited to production. Dig Up The Hatchet was the beginning of a long songwriting teamwork with Chips that continues to this day, Chips and Björne are particularly active together in this respect.
“Tummen” Johnson helped out with the lyrics to The Goodbye Look. But our collaboration began to wane a little bit after that as his inspiration had dried up after writing a series of really good lyrics to both the Hardware and Sonically Speaking albums. At Egg Studios we sometimes waited in frustration by the fax machine for his lyrics to show up for some of the Powerstrip tracks. A few times, a poor transmission resulted in that parts of the text sent was unreadable, which increased the aggravation even more. It was certainly a different world then in terms of communication technology.
The photo on the front sleeve is from the Charles Peterson session we mentioned earlier in this part in connection to (I’m) Out Of It. Joakim is sporting a Dead Moon T-shirt and Nix advertises the shady music bar Agapo that we always frequented when we were in Madrid.
A. Wimp (live) (J. Escovedo)
[Carbon 14 I U-4476M / 1995]
Carbon 14 Wrestling Foundation Presents A Rock And Roll Tag Team Spectacular!
EP compilation (33 ⅓ RPM). Free with # 6 of Carbon 14 fanzine.
On this EP, The Nomads perform a live version of Wimp; a cover of a The Zeros’ song that The Nomads had previously released a studio version of on a single (see Part 3) in 1993. The sleeve only tells that the current Wimp track was recorded “live in Sweden”.
Carbon 14 was a Philadelphia based fanzine of art, film, music and wrestling (!). About 25 7” came free with the fanzine between 1995 and 2004. The other three groups represented on this EP are: Mono Men, Southern Culture On The Skids and The Friggs.
Carbon 14 was a cool fanzine with an enthusiastic crew that wrote about bands that played our kind of music – The Lazy Cowgirls, Jeff Dahl and stuff like that. Although we never met the people behind Carbon 14, the fanzine supported us through the years. They sent some copies of the fanzine and asked us if we were interested in participating on a record that came with the fanzine. Since we were also interviewed in Carbon 14, this EP became a way for us to reach out.
Unfortunately, we do not remember more about our live version of Wimp than the sleeve says: “Recorded live in Sweden”. The demand for studio recordings from different labels was greater than our supply and we had to root out a live recording for this one. We only played Wimp live during a rather short time period around the mid-‘90s, but Wimp was on our radar long before that. Nix produced a mini album with The Spanks in 1988 – a Belgian garage rock combo to which Nix successfully proposed to include Wimp in their set list.
Speaking of Wimp, there is an amusing link between Wimp and Call Off Your Dogs. When Peter Case conceived the lyrics to Call Off Your Dogs during his stay in Stockholm (see the testimony for Call Off Your Dogs earlier in this part), Case then became aware of the similarity between the prolonged “i” in The Zero’s “W-i-i-i-m-p” and the stretch of vowels in the chorus of the song in making; “Call Off Your D-o-o-o-g-s”. Wimp made an imprint on Call Off Your Dogs that way. Peter Case’s The Nerves and Javier Escovedo’s The Zeros shared the same Los Angeles music scene in the mid-´70s, so the influence may have crept in that way.
Regarding the other bands on this EP, all-girls Friggs did some really good songs. Mono Men and The Nomads warmed up for Southern Culture On The Skids during a short US tour in 1995, about the time this record was released.
A. Kinda Crime (N. Vahlberg, H. Östlund, B. Fröberg, T. Johnson)
[Explicit Sounds I ES 002 / 1996]
Split single. The Invasion Of Powerful Guitars – Featuring: The Nomads and Holy Curse. (Clear vinyl.)
Kinda Crime is a track from The Nomads’ album Powerstrip (1994) – which together with Dig Up The Hatchet composes a Sonet CD single. Kinda Crime on this 7” is, however, a demo version The Nomads recorded in Stockholm (November, 1993) as a memorandum for the upcoming session in the USA leading up to the Powerstrip album.
Explicit Sounds was a short-lived French label that existed long enough to release five or six 7-inches between 1994 and 1997. This single is split between The Nomads and Holy Curse, a garage rock band from Paris, France.
This version of Kinda Crime is from the demo session Chips Kiesbye produced at Thunderload Studios (mentioned earlier in this part, see (I’m Out) Of It/Fan Club) just a month before we went to the US to record Powerstrip. Explicit Sounds probably pressed it in 500 copies, which was the standard batch for this type of release.
Hans’ guitar has a very heavy sound for a demo. The intro riff is definitely inspired by how Don Gardner kicked off his 1966 soul raver My Baby Likes To Boogaloo, but here the riff is played a little faster and is moreover used with ingenuity in a completely different setting.
Holy Curse is French still going on strong veterans of Radio Birdman style garage rock and very much into the same type of music as us. We have met them a few times in Paris.
A. Iron Dream (J. Gann)
B. Edvin Medvind (bob hund)
[Man’s Ruin Records I MR-023 / 1996]
(Clear vinyl.) Edition of 2,000.
The A-side is a cover of Iron Dream, originally recorded by the short-lived Los Angeles punk rock group Kaos in 1980. It was first released as one of three songs on their only 7″ on What Records?, named Product Of A Sick Mind. Iron Dream is written by the guitar player and singer of Kaos, Johnny Stingray, also known as Jim Gann.
Edvin Medvind (≈ Edwin Tailwind in English) was among the first recordings that the Swedish indie rock group bob hund made in 1992. It was eventually released on a limited edition three song 7” in 1994.
Man’s Ruin Records (based in San Francisco, California) was founded by graphic design artist Frank Kozik with the slogan “Empty Pleasures and Desperate Measures since 1994”. This label managed to release more than 200 titles in small editions (less than 5,000) before it folded in 2001.
These are two outtakes from the Powerstrip session in January 1994. Iron Dream is a cover of a song that we found on a bootleg LP that included the little known group Kaos, which belonged to the Los Angeles punk scene together with bands such as The Germs and The Weirdos.
But Edvin Medvind stands out from our ordinary choice of covers. The story behind it is that we got to know the members of bob hund, particularly Tomas Öberg, in the beginning of the ‘90s. We went to bob hund’s first gig ever and quickly became their fans and watched their shows as much as we could. When they threw a release party for their first album on Silence Records in 1993, bob hund did not want to play themselves. Instead, they wanted bands that they knew to play bob hund’s songs. The Nomads had the honor to be one of these specially invited bands. We played Edvin Medvind live and we learned it from an early demo cassette and from bob hund’s shows. Conrad Uno helped with singing on our version. Must have been the first and last time Conrad Uno sang in Swedish…
We met Frank Kozik when we did two sold out concerts at his home ground in San Francisco in 1995. Then it took a while until this single came out. His label Man’s Ruin was just up and running then. Frank Kozik was a highly sought after graphic artist, especially by grunge bands. But since he was an old punk, he was also into our type of music and eager to release something with The Nomads.
However, it was a bit unfortunate that Frank used Viking platitude in combination with a hot rod concept as a marker for The Nomads as Swedes at a time when the Viking theme was also used by Swedish white power rock bands. Although the risk of connecting us to that questionable scene was small, it still felt a little uncomfortable.
When these two outtakes were put back to back, they really made a nice two-sider.
Thanks to Björne, Hasse, Joakim and Nix for sharing your memories/photos and for reviewing the text.