Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

Destroy All Monsters—
Days Of Diamonds EP


Released 1978 on Black Hole
The Seth Man, May 2004ce
Released in the middle of the era of Destroy All Monsters’ highest visibility with three self-released singles on the Ann Arbor/Southfield-based IDBI label (issued in the UK on Cherry Red), the 4-track “Days of Diamonds” EP displays far less studio polish but far more integrity to the band’s initial vision of an alternative free-form apocalypse drone jammed over and sideways into a stew of Grade-Z flicks, underground comix, fine art, and dark humour into a disjointed soundtrack of these alienated Michigan teens who would choose the title of the ultimate tag-team Godzilla flick for their own collision of fascinations, objects of desire, noise and dreams into homemade acid punk. Once personnel was overhauled to include ex-Stooges guitarist Ron Asheton and ex-MC5 bassist Michael Davis on bass, their sound began to move away from their earlier inroads of innovation to coalesce into one that of a working band releasing singles in a time of growing acceptance of the new punk rock currently making itself felt slowly but surely in between the Pacific and Atlantic coastlines of the USA.

The lineup of D.A.M. appearing on the EP is the extended seven-piece, consisting of (in the order they would disappear from successive D.A.M. singles) Cary Loren (rhythm guitar, vocals); Larry Miller (space guitar, vocals); Ben Miller (sax, vocals); Ron Asheton (lead guitar); Michael Davis (bass); Niagara (vocals -- although here is credited with ‘presence’) and Rob King (drums).

The back sleeve reads ‘this historic document does not represent the present incarnation of the Destroy All Monster Band’ and it’s true because it sounds NOTHING like any D.A.M.’s three singles released between 1978-79. And not only because a) the xerox/cut and paste hand stamped sleeve affair is far and away more damaged than those Niagara created for D.A.M.’s IDBI singles; b) it sounds more like the predecessor to Xanadu (who half of D.A.M. split off into for one sole EP are easiest to remember as Destroy-All-Monsters-without-all-the-famous-people) and c) the sonic image and feel is as C-46-recorded in as small a basement as can be. You can just see the half-empty beer bottles atop their amp heads stir with each successive blast. It’s most evident on the side one with the super-hammed up “Introduction” that seeps into the mid-tempo “Assassination Photograph.” This latter named piece is a horizontal, hunkered-down upchuck of Velvets-styled repetition and was the basis for the knocked-up and loaded “November 22” that made it’s way onto D.A.M.’s second single. But a year earlier in June of 1977 it was still a garaged-up and down-stream of consciousness gang-bang with Larry King’s Lou Reed-styled drawl crawl shouting over Loren’s distantly screamed lead from across the room as the whole thing sounds like “Get It On” -- but only if it was a burnt out automobile on blocks with the drummer from The Blue Things’ “One Hour Cleaners” shanghaied behind the drum kit in the boot. Cryptic non-sequiturs about cameras, Japanese tourists and remarks about film being a dead art abound while Michael Davis’ bass line furrows through with riffing offa his old band’s “Future/Now” epic to keep the Miller/Loren/Asheton guitars locked right in as the couplet “Shoot ‘em up, now/assassination photograph/Sure looks tough, now” returns over and over to swamp everything with its signal overload and Reedian steely-glare attitude. The slow brokenhearted strains of “Dream Song” enters as a soundless scream of loss over snaky, supersnazz sax while the trio of guitarists cluster, lock into each other and emanate louder and louder in the background. It’s the stuff of sore throats, lonely Sunday nights and frustration welling right before kicking a can outta the way especially during the perpetual “GO TO HEAVEN!” outburst near the end, just before it all prematurely runs off into a quick fade.

A count-off and the second side of the EP opens with its best-realised moment: the blaring and initialised “D.A.M.” for despite its rude sound presentation, the band are truly polished and caught in a Detroit freefall of stop and starts that twists into itself ceaselessly. Dating from an October 1978 session, the vocals are half-ad-libbed as much as the musical backing has been worked up into a corralled fracas of advanced segments that alternate between free-sax and lurching guitar interplay that slash and skitter along in this subterranean homesick muse all the way up until Ron Asheton’s tightly knitted freeform/burnin’ solo at the end. A hacking phlegm cough opens the stripped down finale, “There Is No End.” A double guitar sing-along vamp around the repeated “Springtime again/Summer’s gone/And winter’s been...” with no rhythm section present as vocals run up against it in the background with the mantra, “You never can tell/You never can tell...” and drive themselves far beyond breath control into garbledness, getting lost and riffing off it with “K-Tel...Magnavox...” as wordless vocal noises take the place of drums and bass due to lack of funds and/or beers or whatever...

Destroy All Monsters did not last for long after their initial burst in the late seventies and broke up soon after this EP was released. But after a long hiatus, the nineties saw the original Destroy All Monsters comprised of Mike Kelley, Jim Shaw, Cary Loren and Niagara reassemble as a collective with an emphasis on the visual arts, recently assembling a run of sizeable multi-media gallery exhibitions as well as unleashing recordings culled from their chequered past and present as well as an additional proliferation of films, drawings and magazines.