Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Take the Guitar Player for a Ride
Genres: Alternative Rock, Folk, Pop, Rock
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is going to be hard. Okay: listeners who only know Laughner from the Lester Bangs obituary or some o/s punk webzine shouldn't expect snot-clogged shrieking ala Richard Hell. I/o/w, this isn't punk. Laughner's voice and mentality are steeped in 1960's streetwise hipster argot, and on first spin most of it sounds like a less assured Lou Reed trying to do "Blood On the Tracks." One song in particular (won't say which) sounds like it was penned in a musty corner of Warhol's Factory while "Spanish Harlem Incident" played. So, not the Clash.Many of these are bedroom demos, or, more to the point, parents'-house bedroom demos. (Young musicians will get the distinction.) They're full of the high-end fuzz of a cheap microphone, the cagey feel of being overheard by Dad, but also the plowing fury of someone who wants to break out.What hits you first is its sheer heart. If only Lou Reed could've hit those notes, Dylan come up with those riffs, Tom Verlaine turn those phrases! This is great music, heartbreakingly great at moments, but it is so crushingly sad. Sad far beyond the work of fellow corpses Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain and Jim Morrison. Those artists knew their talent, so no matter how angst-hobbled their songs, spirit poured from every chord. Hearing them can be a renewal in which you are touched by life at its rawest. Peter Laughner--well. You feel the life, quiveringly real, you believe he means every word, more than you've ever meant anything--so what if the phrasing all sounds like "Berlin", Laughner felt "Berlin" way more strongly than Reed ever did--but none of it sets you free.Kim Gordon once defined rock 'n' roll as the public act of believing in yourself. Laughner didn't believe, and that's the sad clot at the heart of this music. His songs are impassioned, his voice urgent and wonderfully wry, his lyrics arresting. But his flailing for joy makes you sadder than Morrison ever could with all his art-directed gloom.Pain is the sharpest parameter of our lives and, if honestly expressed, casts the shadow of its opposite. Whatever wound Laughner carried in him (and you feel it, believe me) fueled his art but sucked down all else. His is a losing battle captured live, the death-throes of a great talent that never knew itself, that thought it needed death to be real. I love this album, and I've only felt strong enough to listen to it five times."
ALONG FOR THE RIDE
K. H. Orton | New York, NY USA | 03/12/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"To some, Peter Laughner was just another self-desructive, showy hack on the CBGB PUNK scene. To others he was a shadowy, peripheral, even influential figure in bands like Rocket From The Tombs, Pere Ubu & Television. Still others may remember him a bratty, self importnant Rock critic for CREEM magazine. Regardless, at 27, he wound up like his fellow staff writer, Lester Bangs---dead. Unlike, Bangs he didn't leave much of an archive behind to remember him by. This is pretty much it.
Like Laughner himself, this record is a glorious mess. Essentially, a bootleg. In terms of influences, Laughner wears them on his sleeve. Lou Reed, Brian Eno, Dylan, early Elvis Costello, The Stooges--just to name a few. There's even some Captain Beefheart-ish moments like, "Life Stinks".
The first half consists of acoustic bedroom demos, while the second features some stellar live work. At the very least Laughner was a fine guitar player, as evidenced on his stab at Richard Thompson's epic, "Calvary Cross". His subtlety can be found in "Lullabye" & in his sideman work on "Don't Take Your Love Away" ( featuring what sounds like Alex Chilton? on lead vocals). He even shows considerable Blues chops on the closer, "Me & The Devil Blues".
True standouts are "Amphetamine" & self-penned literary name droppers like, "Baudelaire" & "Sylvia Plath". Each characterized by sprawling, poetic lyrics & catchy hooks. Despite any literary pretention, both songs are moving. Though he definitely has a chip on his shoulder, lines like, "let's see you do something as graceful as Sylvia Plath" are enough to silence any detractors.
In short, he was versitlile--- touching on it all from purile punk, to bedsit strumming, to Rock God grandstanding.
In the end, this is an oddly touching record. Though not destined to go down in history as a Guitar God, this one goes to show Laughner's talents were prodigious. If anything, this collection serves as a faded snapshot of someone who "could've been a contender"."
Thomas Plotkin | West Hartford CT, United States | 03/29/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Several reviewers here have mentioned that this is painful listening, not because of the lo-fi or poor performances or inaccessability, but because of the sheer, tragic sense of what-might-have-been if only Peter Laughner had been saved from his demons. Listen to the first half of Disc One of the Pere Ubu box set Datapanik in the Year Zero, covering the year before he got fired from the group he founded, then listen to the Rocket From the Tombs CD, and then listen to this collection of home demos and live bootlegs: and that's pretty much the complete oeuvre of this genius songwriter, heart-felt guitarist, and nearly-unknown secret influence on all subsequent Indy/Punk/Alternative rock after his death at 27 from acute alcoholism in the late '70's. This music is the razor-wire, painfully sincere testament of a young man who lived and died chasing down a sound, the perspective of how it feels to be living like "a shadow on the wall..." Unlike his work with RFTT and Ubu, this is singer-songwriter music, in the vein of his idols Lou Reed and Richard Thompson; Peter was a storyteller at heart, shy and lacking confidence, who needed to hide behind a Band, the thugs of RFTT or the loonies of Ubu. By himself, it's a whole other story, just a sensitive young man, his trembling expressive voice, and his axe. The last two songs were recorded at his bedside, alone on acoustic guitar, the night before Peter died. I defy anyone to listen to them without crying.
Rumor has it his estate is compiling a much fuller and more lavish box of his demos/live tapes to supplant this out-of-print collector's item. Here's hoping."