In 1988, the legendary Kendra Smith left Opal, the band she'd founded with David Roback shortly before he was ejected from the Rain Parade in 1983. In 1989, she resurfaced briefly on a record with no name, which I'll have to call a double-B-sided single for lack of anything better to call it. "Stille Im Meine Hamburg" is Smith's contribution, and it's nominally the A side; the other side is an inept "funk" instrumental called "Clothesline" by Hillel Slovak and Keith Levene (written by Tyrone Fattay). The discography on an unofficial Kendra Smith website1 describes this record as a bootleg. Maybe it is.
It's a nifty little record, a 45 rpm 7". Side A is mono; side B is stereo.
The sleeve is orange, with "Kendra Smith" on one side and "Keith Levene & Hillel Slovak" on the other, white type, all caps, maybe 16-point Palatino. The type is centered, not quite a third of the way down from the top.
The record proper is clear vinyl, with a large-sized hole in the middle. This is a thorn in my side beause some years ago, during a move, I misplaced the spindle-enlarger thingy for my turntable: Therefore, I must center the record by eye. I've been looking for those little plastic three-legged-spider-y things that you can wedge in to make records like that fit a normal spindle, but I've had no luck yet.
The label is silver with black type. It states that the thing was released on "Overzealous Records", gives a catalog number of "Jenny 20" (at any rate, it's conventionally interpreted as a catalog number), and says "Mono" on one side and "Stereo" on the other. Okay.
We won't discuss the Slovak/Levene thing, because it's crap.
"Stille Im Meine Hamburg": The label says it was written by "Little Cory". Okay. This might be the Joshua Corey mentioned in the credits of the Guild of Temporal Adventurers Ep, but then again it might not.
The song is weird. The vibe is a bit like those old Velvet Underground demos from 1965: A little wobble, a lot of murk. It sounds as if the backing tracks were recorded on a cassette deck, and then re-recorded live along with the vocal onto another cassette deck. Yeah, when I say murk, I mean murk. It's murky as hell. I'm pretty sure there's a bass in there and there's definitely at least two electric guitars (one strumming the chords, and another one doing noisy feebacky stuff at the beginning and the end). There may be drums, or it may be somebody banging on some boxes. You just can't tell. A church bell tolls on the down beats. It's just the kind of mystico-obscuro stuff Smith does best.
As a song per se, it's a nice little lullabyish waltz thing, a little bit sad and a little bit distant. Babelfish translates the title as "Silence in my Hamburg". The lyric is in German. Smith apparently spent much of her childhood in Germany because her father was in the military.
It's nifty. Not earthshaking, but nice to have, if you're a Kendra Smith fan, and (of course) indispensible if you're a Paisley Underground or Kendra Smith completist. Out of print? Oh, yeah.
"The German Phoenix