Tuesday 8 September 2020

Kramer - Being Absurd

Short bio:
Mark Kramer (born Stephen Michael Bonner, 1958 in New York City, United States) known professionally as Kramer, is a musician, composer, record producer and founder of the New York City record label Shimmy Disc. He was a full-time member of the bands New York Gong, B.A.L.L., Shockabilly, Bongwater and Dogbowl & Kramer, has played on tour (usually on bass guitar) with bands such as Butthole Surfers, Ween, Half Japanese and The Fugs (1984 reunion tour), and has also performed regularly with John Zorn and other improvising musicians of New York City's so-called "downtown scene" of the 1980s.

Kramer's most notable work as a producer has been with bands such as Galaxie 500 (whose entire oeuvre he produced), Low (whom he discovered and produced), Half Japanese, White Zombie, GWAR, King Missile, Danielson Famile, Will Oldham, Daniel Johnston, and Urge Overkill, including their hit cover of "Girl, You'll Be a Woman Soon".

My introduction to the world of Kramer began when I started buying albums released on his Shimmy Disc label. As I've stated before on this blog, my favourite record label of the 1980s/early 90s was Flying Nun, but I'd say during that period Shimmy Disc were a close 2nd. Through the label I discovered such great bands as King Missile, When People Were Shorter and Lived Near the Water, The Tinklers, Japan's Ruins and Boredoms. At the time, B.A.L.L. were particular favourites, even managing to see them play live at the Fulham Greyhound around 1989. If I had to pick one band he was in that stood out more than anyone else, it was the wonderful Bongwater. Releasing 4 excellent albums (plus a couple of EPs and 1 single) from 1987 to 1992, to this day I often go back to those albums, never tiring of them.

For this collection I decided to concentrate on albums released under his name only, plus various compilation tracks credited only to him. I chose nothing from the album "Let Me Explain Something to You About Art", from 1998, as it featured only 3 very lengthy tracks which wouldn't fit on this collection. Also not included are any tracks from "The Brill Building, Book Two, Featuring Bill Frisell", released in 2017. His debut solo release, 1992's "The Guilt Trip" I think is his finest work. The album's cover is a parody of George Harrison’s "All Things Must Pass", and like that album it's a sprawling triple album (or double CD). Not surprisingly selections from this album feature most here, 7 tracks in total.

He's recorded several other albums either in the bands mentioned in the bio, or collaborating with other artists such as Jad Fair, Ralph Carney and Daved Hild, John S. Hall, Daevid Allen, Dogbowl and Hugh Hopper. Most of them are definitely worth purchasing. Maybe one day I'll do another Kramer compilation, featuring my favourite tracks from these collaborations plus tracks by B.A.L.L., Shockabilly etc.
As ever, info containing track origin & year of release is tagged in the music files and in the download file. I hope you enjoy this latest collection, and stay safe!

  1. Hello Music (4:31)
  2. She Won't Let Go (3:53)
  3. Strings (3:35)
  4. My Way (2:36)
  5. Insight (3:06)
  6. Got What I Deserved (4:53)
  7. The Well Hung Jury (3:03)
  8. Save the Last Dance for Me (3:05)
  9. The Slider (1:55)
10. Sshhh (3:33)
11. Who Are You Today? (6:22)
12. Big of You (3:53)
13. The Opium Wars Have Long Ceased (2:50)
14. Walk on By (3:04)
15. The Ephus Ball (2:01)
16. Charlotte's Brain (2:57)
17. My Rock 'n Roll (2:52)
18. 69 Annee Erotique (4:15)
19. Don't Come Around (3:42)
20. Do Wah Diddy Diddy (3:33)
21. The Maximus Poems (3:48)
22. It Never Stops Being Absurd (5:33)