“Flies Like Holidays” Compilation (1982)

How is it that I continue to find myself buying records like Flies Like Holidays? They’re more expensive than buying something new, and unlike a new release inevitably these experimental albums only get spun once or maybe twice on the Rega. Wouldn’t I be a smarter consumer if I spent the money I dropped on Flies Like Holidays on both the new Pearl Jam and Mark Lanegan albums, both of which are highly acclaimed? Logically, yes. But for some reason, which I’m sure is some kind of subconscious psychological hangup rooted deep in my childhood, I’m drawn to the oddities. I don’t think it was always this way – as a teen and into college my tastes were pretty straight-forward rockist, and even when I branched out later it was into mainstream pop or when I stepped out into a more foreign style like opera, the safe choices – you want to check out opera, get some Pavarotti; reggae? Bob Marley. I worry sometimes that perhaps there’s just a hint of pretentiousness in some of these obscure purchases I make these days. But then again, it’s not like I’m sharing my fascination with Nurse With Wound with people at work. Hell, most people I know don’t even know I have a blog, so while I’m still sharing these it’s kind of anonymous. I just don’t know. Maybe it’s a stone best left unturned.

Which brings me to Flies Like Holidays. Because our friends over at Easy Street Records are doing deliveries during COVID Lockdown 2020 I wanted to get some money their way because, you know, I’d like to still have a record store to go to when all this bullshit is over (or at least in remission while we await the next inevitable killer virus, and don’t even start with the killer hornets). I found this on their Discogs PAGE (which you should check out – support your local record store, dammit!) and it seemed weird and interesting and why not.

Portland’s Pigface Records, which was and is again operated by members of the band Smegma, put together and released this compilation, collecting 10 songs from seven bands (Smegma contributes three and Gormet Dogs two) and packaging the entire thing in individually decorated jackets. Rancid Vat’s punkish cover of Hoyt Axton’s “Joy To The World” (made famous by Three Dog Night) is a highlight, irreverent and snotty even when it does follow the originally somewhat. Jungle Nausea’s “Sympathy” channels the best of the no wave movement, simple bass driving it forward, odd horn bursts, and vocals that clearly don’t give a damn. It just oozes indifference in the best way possible. In contrast, Gormet Dogs and Smegma bring heavily experimental vibe to their recordings, the compositions songs in name only.