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Soundbites

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THE GOD OF THUNDER MEETS SPACE ALIENS

It's a pretty slow week for music in the Old Pueblo, so allow me to indulge in the spinning of a couple of yarns concerning one particular show of note.

My father worked in radio pretty much his whole life, first as a DJ, and later in ad sales (that is, once he had a family to support). He would often go into work on Saturday mornings to tie up a few loose ends, and occasionally, I would accompany him. The highlight of these trips for me was to riffle through the reject pile--albums the station had been sent by record companies in the hopes that they might get spun on the air, but were deemed unplayable. While my dad was doing whatever it was he was doing, I would scour the stacks of these albums by acts no one had ever heard of--they were, after all, the dregs--and grab a couple that looked promising. To this day, I still have those albums--an early live Tubes double LP, a Dwight Twilley record, etc. And even though I knew that the ones I didn't take would find a new home in the trash bin, I still only allowed myself to pluck a couple of albums from the stack on each visit. I didn't want to be greedy, after all.

This often led to me having to choose between five or six albums that looked interesting, based solely on their album covers. And though I can rattle off a laundry list of albums that I took home, I can only recall one that I've regretted leaving behind. This being my heyday of KISS worship, I was intrigued by an album by a guy named Thor. The cover had a completely ridiculous photo of him, buff to the max, decked out in full Norse god regalia. What the hell could this guy's music possibly sound like? I would never find out--I didn't bring the album home. But ever since then, I've wondered what exactly it was that I left behind.

Later, I found out that Thor was from Vancouver, British Columbia, a onetime Mr. Junior Canada bodybuilding title holder who was attempting to parlay this recognition into a career in music. His live performances played up the shtick to the fullest--along with playing his brand of "warrior metal" or "muscle rock," he would perform feats such as bending metal poles with his teeth. But still, I wondered, what the hell did the music actually sound like?

A week or two ago, I received an e-mail from Thor's publicist informing me that he would be playing in Tucson soon, asking if I wanted a copy of his latest album to check out. Did I ever! I received a prompt response saying the package was on its way. Alas, I'm still waiting; by press time the CD still hadn't arrived. I guess I'll just have to go to the show this week and get an answer to my decades-old question. And hopefully, I'll get to see a metal pipe bent between the god of thunder's teeth to boot.

I've got a story about one of the opening bands on the same bill, too.

About a year and a half ago, I was in Springfield, Ill., the town in which I grew up. My father had decided that since he was now retired, and his family had all relocated to Arizona, it was finally time for him to make the move, too. So, I went back to help him pack up the contents of his house, to get the house in order, literally. After a long day of packing, I decided I had earned the right to go grab a beer or two at one of my favorite local pubs, so I headed out. Once there, I ran into an old acquaintance named Chuck Nolan. It seemed he, too, had begun doing some music writing, which led to him finding a pet project of sorts.

He had bought some old copies of Rock Scene magazine, a rag that existed in the '70s and focused on the bands of the day--with an emphasis on glam and punk--mostly via photographs. He had come across a photo and brief description of a band he'd never heard of, who were dressed in futuristic outfits and claimed to be from outer space. The band was Zolar X, and he was intrigued enough to do a little research and hunt down one of their albums. He was not disappointed in the glam rock he found in the grooves. So not disappointed, in fact, that he decided to hunt down the band's members to interview them for a whatever happened to ...? article, which eventually found a home in esteemed British rock mag Mojo. Zolar X, it seems, were actually from California, had performed at Rodney Bingenheimer's famous English Disco club on the Sunset Strip and had opened for the likes of the New York Dolls and Iggy Pop.

Hard to say who was the chicken and who was the egg here, but around the same time, former Dead Kennedys singer Jello Biafra decided to issue an expanded version of one of the band's albums on his Alternative Tentacles label. To promote it, the band had decided to regroup and embark on a tour. Chuck, meanwhile, had made the decision to go along with the band on tour, shooting footage for a documentary.

While in Austin, Texas, at South by Southwest, in March, I ran into Chuck. He said he had been out on the road for some time with the band, and had most of the footage he needed for his film.

That was the last I heard about Zolar X--until they showed up on this week's bill opening for Thor. I still haven't heard a lick of music from either of the acts, but I can guarantee that attendees will be treated to some serious old-school rock-show antics and theatrics.

It all goes down at Vaudeville Cabaret, 110 E. Congress St., on Saturday, Aug. 26. The show starts at 10 p.m. with an opening set from Sonic Titan. The cover charge was unavailable at press time, but you can call 622-3535 for more information.


ON THE BANDWAGON

Billed these days as Hank III, the grandson of Hank Williams and son of Hank Jr. mixes the honky-tonk you might expect with the punk rock he grew up listening to. Just don't call it alt-country. He'll be at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St., on Friday, Aug. 25. Bob Wayne and the Outlaw Carnies open at 8:30 p.m. Advance tickets are $19; they'll be $20 on the day of the show. Call 622-8848 for further details.

The Randies are touted as up-and-comers from Los Angeles who combine punky, straightforward rock riffs with pop hooks and, um, randy lyrics. They've been compared to The Runaways, The Go-Go's and Blondie, and seem to invariably get described as "charming." They'll be at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St., on Saturday, Aug. 26, along with The Rainman Suite and Stefy. Things get underway at 9:45 p.m., and cover is a fiver. Questions? Ring 'em up at 798-1298.


WISHES FOR A SPEEDY RECOVERY

Finally, we'd like to send our thoughts and good vibes out to Demon City Wreckers singer Jason "Blood" Mashburn, who has been holed up in the hospital for weeks now, with a battery of medical problems. Recent days have seen small improvements in his condition, and we just wanted to let him know we're all pulling for him. Get well soon, brother.

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