Major League Music – #8 Chicago White Sox

Chicago – Sufjan Stevens

In 1917, the Chicago White Sox won their second World Series Title.  Their star player back then was a guy called Shoeless Joe Jackson.  He was called that because he once went out to bat shoeless, as he had blisters and as was the crudity of the baseball fans back then, someone heckled him and called him “A Shoeless Son of A Gun” and it stuck.  You may have heard of Shoeless Joe, as he was played in the film ‘Field of Dreams’ by Ray Liotta (R.I.P) about 70 years later or so.  Oh and continuing the ‘players named after items of clothing theme’, the head coach of the White Sox in 1917 was the amazingly named Pants Rowland.

It would be 87 years before the White Sox won the World Series again, that period is second longest period between championships in baseball history.  The longest is well over 100 years (held by the other team in Chicago, The Cubs, although they had a curse put on them, so at least they had an excuse for not winning).  In 2005, the White Sox soared to victory thrashing the Houston Astros 4 nil.  The series was famous for hosting the longest individual game in World Series history, with the Sox winning in an incredible 14th innings.

In the 1980s two major genres of music saw their growth in and around Chicago.  The first one was house music, which started when DJs like Steve ‘Silk Hurley and Frankie Knuckles started messing about with disco records to give them a deeper bassline.

Jack Your Body – Steve ‘Silk’ Hurley (1986, RCA Records)

The second genre that exploded in Chicago was industrial, when the Wax Trax! Label started putting out records by the likes KMFDM, Front 242 and most influentially Ministry.  The early Ministry records had a greater dance edge than some of their later works.

Cold Life – Ministry (1982, Wax Trax! Records)

Elsewhere Chicago has spawned a number of decent guitar bands over the years, but as we’re going to revisit Chicago when the Cubs roll into town, we will look at them then.  So instead, I’m going to talk about friend of Barak Obama, Chancellor Bennett or Chance the Rapper to his friends.

No Problem – Chance The Rapper (2016, Self Released)

This weeks new band plucked from obscurity by the method of a random Google search are apparently all about ‘channelling their inner Jesus and Mary Chain and scuzzy fuzzy drone attacks’ – but as ever, we will be the judge of that…Ladies and Gents, here’s Horsegirl.

Billy – Horsegirl (2021, Matador Records)

Next week its the turn of Baltimore.

In Praise of the Band TShirt – #4

Wonderment – Thousand Yard Stare (1991, Stifled Aardvark Records, Taken from ‘Weatherwatching EP’)

My Thousand Yard Stare TShirt was not like the one in the picture.  My one was long sleeved and it had the words ‘Thousand Yard Who?’ emblazoned on the front.  Which is rather apt because Thousand Yard Stare were yet another one of those bands that promised so much, had (some of) the records to match but the public failed to keep their end of the bargain and refuse point blank to take them to their hearts.

Take ‘Wonderment’ from the ‘Weatherwatching EP’, it’s a tremendous five minutes or so or indie pop excellence.  It has a terrifically chunky riff that flies through it from the start and then after a minute or so is joined by the half sung half preached vocals which talk about “throwing garden benches” should at the very least been enough to catapult the band into staple indie disco favourites, but no they remained in indie obscurity for a while at least.   Most of their releases deserved better especially this one.

Standoffish – Thousand Yard Stare (1991, Stifled Aardvark Records, Taken from ‘Hands On’)

The media seemed to love them as well,  Gary Crowley for instance, used to host an indie show on GLR on a Sunday lunchtime (which I have mentioned before) and he used to play them all the time.  A few months later Crowley was appointed editor in chief of a new indie style magazine called ‘Rage’ which for about six months threatened to be quite a good read, until he did a ‘Sex’ issue in which indie bands talked about sex and where they bought their pants.  The band on the cover….Thousand Yard Stare….one of whom was stark bollock naked….’Rage’ went bust the very next week.

Buttermouth – Thousand Yard Stare (1991, Stifled Aardvark Records, Taken from ‘Hands On’)

I loved my Thousand Yard Stare TShirt, it was I think the first long sleeved band TShirt I ever owned, having bought it at a James show where they were the support band (might have been at the cavernous Brixton Academy).  I used to wear it to school when I was in the Lower Sixth much to the annoyance of the teachers who wanted its sixth form pupils to look ‘Business Like’ – well the boys at least, the girls it seemed to wear what they like.  One girl who shall remain nameless (to protect them from ridicule) used to wear a Ministry TShirt once a week.

Stigmata – Ministry (1988, Sire Records)

Anyway, I used to argue petulantly that rock music was my business and as I had pretty much made up my mind that even at 16 and a half that I wanted to be a music journalist, I was, when you think about it, wearing clothes that were in keeping with ‘that business’. 

Based on that argument my teachers somehow manage to land me a weeks work experience at the local ‘Medway News’ in their Reviews Department but my 200 word review of Mint 400 at the Bull & Gate failed to be published, I can’t think why.  If you ask me the pensioners of Hempstead Valley were exactly Mint 400’s target audience.

She Hangs Beautiful – Mint 400 (1992, Incoherent Records)