Thursday, May 03, 2012
Charles Douglas - Not Your Kind of Music - The Basement Tapes 1995-1999
Pre-order info coming soon:
Charles Douglas was rescued from bargain-bin obscurity in 2010, when Broken Horse
reissued his 1999 studio album The Lives of Charles Douglas. Produced by Maureen "Moe"
Tucker of The Velvet Underground, who also played drums on it, the album was recorded
against a gritty NYC backdrop of alcohol, drugs, and fast food—when Charles was twenty-
one years old and recently released from a mental hospital.
Described by Mojo as "the best New York record you've never heard," The Lives of Charles
Douglas won favourable comparisons to The Velvet Underground, Lou Reed, The Ramones,
Luna, and The Strokes. It also earned him new fans in the shape of Marc Riley, Gideon Coe
and Lauren Laverne (6 Music), as well as Andrew Weatherall, Robert Pollard, film director
John Waters, and members of The Pastels, Cornershop, and The Jesus and Mary Chain.
Always one step ahead, David Bowie was already a Charles Douglas fan.
Not Your Kind of Music: The Basement Tapes 1995-1999 continues the baffling and addictive
musical journey of Charles Douglas. It compiles two previously released albums (The
Burdens of Genius and Minor Wave) with two impossible-to-find cassette-only releases (The
Spiders Are Getting Bigger and Haunting & Daunting) to create a 67 track (yes, you read
that correctly) lo-fi odyssey. Had it not been for bad timing, mental illness, rampant drug
abuse, and a penchant for burning bridges, Charles Douglas might be thought of today as a
songwriter on par with Stephen Malkmus, Beck, Daniel Johnston, Robert Pollard, and other
members of the indie-rock aristocracy.
Recorded by Charles in the basement of his parents' house in Allentown, Pennsylvania, this
two-disc collection bookends the period that includes the recording of The Lives of Charles
Douglas. Away from the bright lights of NYC, Charles wrote and recorded endlessly in the
basement on a Tascam 8-track, under the watchful eye of his cat Milly and an army of spiders
and roaches. Although Charles was signed to Elektra Records at the time, the label refused
to release any of his albums because they were deemed too uncommercial. Caroline Records
eventually stepped in and released them, but none of them sold more than a few thousand
Playing all the instruments himself, and in the grips of drug addiction, Charles continued
to pound out a series of peculiar, genre-defying records. His songs range from gleeful
stoner anthems ("Super High," "Monkey Island") to deranged anti-folk ("The Rabbit Never
Gets the Carrot"), to proto-LCD Soundsystem electro pop ("Thee Hipster") to rock 'n' roll
("Good Authority") and even rap ("Please Don't Hurt Them"). Many of the songs detail his
obsessions with pop culture icons, including Dennis Wilson from the Beach Boys, Prince,
Drew Barrymore, Grandmaster Flash, and Grimace from McDonalds. The epic 26-page
booklet accompanying this collection describes the making of the albums in further detail.
After the release of these homemade albums, and The Lives of Charles Douglas, Charles
recorded a final studio album in 2002 titled Statecraft—with Joey Santiago from The Pixies
on guitars, and Sonic Youth's producer Wharton Tiers on drums—and then retired from
making music at the age of 25. He currently lives in Los Angeles with his wife and his two-
year-old daughter, and works as a novelist and screenwriter. He has been sober for over a