Monday, January 9, 2023

VA - I Hate CD's, Norton Records 45 RPM Singles Collection, Vol. 1 [2007] + I Still Hate CD's, Norton Records 45 RPM Singles Collection, Vol. 2 [2009] (6 x CDs)


VA - I Hate CD's, Norton Records 45 RPM Singles Collection, Vol. 1 [2007] + VA - I Still Hate CD's, Norton Records 45 RPM Singles Collection, Vol. 2 [2009] (6 x CDs)

I Hate CD's, Norton Records 45 RPM Singles Collection, Vol. 1          Understanding the degree to which the Norton Records aesthetic has permeated New York City’s local drinking water is a big part of being involved with fringey music of any stripe in this town. It doesn’t matter if you spent your formative years navigating the filthy bins of the old Midnight record shop, hurling your body into a sea of crusty vegans at ABC no RIO, or honkin’ and skronkin’ your nights away on an avant-jazz bill at Tonic, recognizing that the Norton record label is as authentically NYC as the ’86 Mets is something any local music kingpin, radio DJ, blogger, or zine editor has to reckon with on their way to the… middle. Begun in 1986 as an audio extension of Kicks magazine, Norton co-honchos Miriam Linna and Billy Miller have proudly allowed their passions for primitive soul, R&B and rock music in its wilder permutations to act as the accelerant for one of the most explosive and prolific independent labels of all time.

It is therefore expected then, that the track listing for Norton’s entry into the realm of strictly-digital releases (I Hate CDs is only available as a high-bitrate download. There is no physical element to the collection.) reads like an A-list of hollerin’ nobodies, never-weres, and who-woulda-thunks. Featured tracks from some of the label’s more recognizable re-issues (the Ramones, Big Star, the Sonics) are by no means necessary for full appreciation, nor are they necessarily the highlights for that matter. The real joys are delivered through the totally animalistic deepcuts from the likes of Roy Loney and the A Bones, Screaming Joe Neal, and Doug Sahm and the Pharaohs. Like the Cramps before them, Miller and Linna have established their own canon and sculpted a totally unique identity by cherrypicking their catalog from the detritus of rock & roll’s most hopeless talents.  As such, it’s difficult to pick out highlights from such an ace collection, but worthy of special attention are Andre Williams in an uncharacteristically presentable moment, the unique-in-a-sea-of-imitators 5-6-7-8s, the completely brutal guitar sound achieved by Jack Starr (summoning both Michael Yonkers and Metal Urbain in a song about eating chicken!), and Bunker Hill’s “The Girl Can’t Dance,” which in my more expository moments I have declared to be the most utterly psychotic R&B workout ever recorded. (Seriously. Bunker Hill could scare the Brainbombs all the way back to Sweden.)

Certainly, with 45 prophetic tracks in all (and with only one reaching beyond three minutes and change – most are barely north of two), there are bound to be a few less-than-stellar moments and for me they arrive in the form of the Dictators’ “Who Will Save Rock n’ Roll” (mostly for the overly-earnest postulating) and the extended version of “All Kindsa Girls” by The Real Kids, of whom a friend aptly remarked to me after a jointly-attended early ’90s reunion gig: “They’re like the Ramones – with Johnny on every instrument”.  Personal nitpicking aside, the only thing that feels absent from this otherwise thoughtfully assembled collection are the expected liner notes, through which the label owner’s irrepressible enthusiasm is typically conveyed. Billy and Miriam are as much a part of Norton’s releases as any of the artists they choose to celebrate, and I Hate CDs illuminates that it’s their sycophantic obsessions that help make their catalog such a joy to stumble through. Since this overview of the label’s output seems clearly aimed at newcomers to the party, I can’t help but worry that the coldness of the digital medium will only paint half the picture for those who download it and therefore won’t reap the joy of the six-point type liners and blurry black and white photos that the rest of us customarily associate with Norton product. I’m as big a fan of the right-clicking scene as anyone, but as I’m sure the label owners would agree, this would be even better were it released in a gatefold triple wax edition. But then again, maybe it's finally time for the iPod generation to get acquainted with the unique pleasures of the Legendary Stardust Cowboy. (

I Still Hate CD's, Norton Records 45 RPM Singles Collection, Vol. 2          Forty-five more 45s from the roots-rocking storehouses of Norton Records, this set crams more oddities, outliers and forgotten one-hitters into a three-disc set than anything since the first I Hate CDs. There are a few well-known names – rockabilly founding Father Charlie Feathers hiccupping his way through “We’re Getting Closer to Being Apart” and girl group grandmere Mary Weiss (with the Reigning Sound as back-up) urging us all to “Stop and Think It Over.” There’s loose garage cannon Andre Williams covering the always fun, always raunchy “Daddy Rolling Stone” and Arthur Lee of Love stealing a big dollop of “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” and calling it “Stay Away.” Suzi Quatro’s first band, the Pleasure Seekers, rips through a sublimely unpremeditated “What a Way To Die,” and the Dictators execute “16 Forever” with unadulterated skeeze.

Every variety of stripped down, pre-Beatles mayhem gets a track or two – rockabilly, jump blues, R&B, doo-wop and the kind of bone-simple garage rock that makes “Louie Louie” sound like Sondheim. There’s no real logic to the sequencing, either. Tracks are organized not by style or date or, even alphabetically, but rather like a really demented back-yard party where someone’s weird uncle is spinning from a box of discs, he found at garage sales. It’s all, or mostly all, good stuff. (The lone track by the Real Kids feels both out-of-place and sub-par.) But no question, the best cuts are the weird ones. Here’s the R&B oddity T. Valentine goofing through his mid-1960s how-could-that-be-a-hit classic “Lucille, Are You A Lesbian?” There’s the Saxons caravan chugging a whacked out “Camel Walk.” And don’t look now, but isn’t that late 1960s soul man (Jewish division?) Nathaniel Mayer insisting that he “don’t want no bald headed woman telling him what to do?”  There’s something unsettling about this mega-stack of records with holes in the middle getting wrapped up into a digital box set – like certain developing countries that are skipping whole phases of technology and going straight to the future. And when singles, like maraschino cherries, were clearly meant to be consumed one by one (with lots of brown liquor), it is somewhat daunting to dig into a big lot of 45. Yet these are minor existential concerns, and no concern at all next to idea of missing Dixie Dee and the Rhythm Rocker’s ghostly “Maxine” or the lovely harmonies of Mighty El Dukes doo-wop “Walking Beside You” (like Curtis Mayfield’s Temptations, but rougher and plainer). You could spend your whole life looking for these songs in attics and basements and local Goodwill stores…does it make them any less cool that you can download them all in one shot right now? (


Pt.1     Pt.2 


Track list

Vol.1 CD1

01 Dictators Who Will Save Rock And Roll? 3:00

02 Readymen Shortnin' Bread 2:42

03 Legendary Stardust Cowboy I Hate Cd's 3:28

04 Bunker Hill The Girl Can't Dance 1:55

05 Herbie Duncan Hot Lips Baby 2:21

06 Andre Williams The Monkey Speaks His Mind 2:52

07 Incredible Kings The Limp 2:07

08 Screamin' Joe Neal Rock & Roll Deacon 2:11

09 Dale Hawkins Number Nine Train 2:23

10 Ramones I Want To Be Your Boyfriend (1975 Demo) 2:22

11 Don Covay Switchen In The Kitchen 2:27

12's Harlem Shuffle 2:21

13 Daryl Britt And The Blue Jeans Lover Lover 1:38

14 Jack Starr Chicken 3:20

15 Mary Weiss A Certain Guy 2:55

Vol.1 CD2

01 Screamin' Jay Hawkins I Hear Voices 3:06

02 Wade Curtiss & The Rhythm Rockers Puddy Cat 2:43

03 Kid Thomas Rockin' This Joint To-Nite 1:58

04 Shades Of Night Fluctuation 3:34

05 Big Star September Gurls 3:01

06 Triumphs Surfside Date 1:41

07 Johnny Clark And The Four Playboys Jungle Stomp 2:28

08 Doug Sahm And The Pharoahs Slow Down 2:47

09 Reign Zippered Up Heart 2:34

10 Esquerita Rockin' The Joint 2:50

11 Hasil Adkins Chicken Shake 2:40

12 Sonics Busy Body 2:33

13 Johnny Powers; A-bones New Spark 3:10

14 Monacles I Can't Win 2:13

Vol.1 CD3

01 Long John Hunter Hey Mrs. Jones 2:19

02 Real Kids All Kindsa Girls 4:57

03 Ramones Judy Is A Punk (1975 Demo) 1:35

04 Scotty Mckay Bad Times 1:53

05 Question Mark And The Mysterians Are You For Real? 2:36

06 Roy Loney; The A-bones Stop It Baby 2:15

07 Stud Cole The Witch 2:05

08 Alarm Clocks Marie 2:29

09 Creations Better Watch Out 3:35

10 Sabres My Hot Mama 1:46

11 Hentchmen Hot Rod Millie 2:32

12 Jerry Mccain And His Upstarts A Cutie Named Judy 2:03

13 Unknown Group I've Had Enough 2:23

14 Neanderthals Twinkle Toes 2:28

15 Link Wray & The Raymen Vendetta 2:42

Vol.2 CD1

01 Gino Washington Out Of This World 2:13

02 Jolly Green Giants Busy Body 2:04

03 Wade Curtiss & The Rhythm Rockers Maxine 2:56

04 Little Johnny And The Silvertones Rock 'til The End Of Time 2:14

05 King Khan It's A Lie 2:50

06 Excels Let's Dance 2:05

07 Jerry Lee Trio Banshee 2:14

08 Del Tinos Go Go Go 2:38

09 Mogen David Wrath And The Grapes Of Wrath Little Girl Gone 3:03

10 Nathaniel Mayer I Don't Want No Bald Headed Woman Telling Me What To Do 2:31

11 C.j And The Casuals Study Hall 2:52

12 Artesians Trick Bag 3:12

13 Guitar Frank Wild Track 2:11

14 Benny Joy Little Red Book 2:07

15 Andre Williams And The Eldorados Daddy Rollin' Stone 2:41

Vol.2 CD2

01 Jades Surfin' Crow 2:09

02 T. Valentine Hello Lucille Are You A Lesbian? 2:10

03 Pleasure Seekers What A Way To Die 2:16

04 Real Kids Common At Noon 4:03

05 Tyrone Schmidling You're Gone I'm Left 1:58

06 Mary Weiss Stop And Think It Over 3:18

07 Rivieras Surfin' Fun 2:03

08 Big Brown My Testament 2:20

09 Charlie Feathers We're Getting Closer To Being Apart 2:28

10 Arthur Lee And The American Four Stay Away 2:25

11 Jackie And The Cedrics Scalping Party 2:32

12 Ron Haydock 99 Chicks 2:01

13 Church Keys Viva Viva Rock And Roll 1:48

14 Figures Of Light It's Lame 2:33

15 Jaguars Railroad Drag 2:17

Vol.2 CD3

01 Ready Men Disintergration 2:26

02 Gene Summers Fancy Dan 1:56

03 Hentchmen So Many Girls 1:59

04 Little Victor Papa Lou And Gran 2:27

05 Dictators 16 Forever 3:15

06 Lewis Reed Merry-Go-Around 2:03

07 Saxons Camel Walk, Pt. 1 2:19

08 Carl Canida Party Date 3:04

09 Poontang Perkins Put De Pot On Mary 2:11

10 Bob Vidone & The Rhythm Rockers Weird 2:13

11 Rudy Ray Moore Rally In The Valley 2:14

12 Migthy El Dukes Walking Beside You 2:22

13 Elroy Dietzel; The Rhythm Bandits Rock-N-Bones 1:57

14 Mad Mike And The Maniacs Quarter To Four 2:23

15 Rhythm Tones Wobble Wickie 2:41