caroliner rainbow | a bit frightening
as i've mentioned before, in the middle of the 90's i started a degree as a mature student.
everyone seemed so YOUNG.
i felt so OLD.
i made some good friends - as you do.
but there was one guy on my course who had a remarkably similar taste in records to me.
we'd spend afternoons listening to kenny process team, old ron johnson records, wingtip sloat.
stuff like that.
then one day i stumbled across a record in his collection by a band called caroliner rainbow open wound corale and i was fascinated.
the record came in a hand made cover - basically a brown envelope with bits of paper stuck to it.
inside the music was surreal campfire country rock played by deranged psychopathic aliens.
yes, that's a good description.
i had to get me some.
a few weeks a later my copy of "the cooking stove beast" by caroliner rainbow susans & bruisins dropped through the door.
the record was more of the same - wierd and otherworldly, it left me feeling slightly queasy but wanting more.
the cover this time was made from what can only be described as 2 metres of filthy and stained material.
it wasn't (and still isn't) nice to touch.
i still feel the need to wash my hands after playing it.
the same friend that introduced me to caroliner went on a shopping trip to london - we met in the pub when he got back:
him: you'll never believe what i saw in rough trade.
him: a caroliner t-shirt!
me: no!?! did you buy it?
him: because it was an old potato sack with hole cut in it for the arms and head and the word 'caroliner' scribbled across it in felt tip pen. i'm not paying £10 for that.
i was in college one day using the computers and stumbled upon an interview with the band.
they were asked about their hand made covers.
the interview went something like this:
interviewer: so you hand make all your covers then?
caroliner: yes - we use junk we find in the streets on california.
interviewer: that will explain why the cover of my copy of [album title] smells of incense.
caroliner: your lucky man, some of them smell of shit.
a couple of years later i was in the rough trade shop in covent garden and happened across a copy of "sell heal holler" by caroliner rainbow customary relaxation of the shale.
(they keep changing the suffix of their name)
the record was even more out there. barely audible songs hidden under layers of grime.
this time the record was wrapped in disposable incontinence briefs packaging.
it's got some nasty stains on it again.
i still knew very little about the band and so i did a bit more research.
they claim to make music channelled through the spirit of caroliner the singing bull - a side show act from the USA of the 1800's.
caroliner's act was to write and perform her own songs.
(you read right)
the story goes there family owned the bull and, on it's death they ate it which gave them the power of remembering the animal's songs.
at least that's how i think it goes.
eventually i got bored with the records - like you do with everything - and they were left filed away on my shelves.
fast forward to 2002 and i'd just gone to live in italy (a whole different story for a whole different blog!).
there was a record fair in a town only an hour's drive away.
wandering around the stalls there were the usual offerings - hundreds of nina hagen records (looking back i wish i'd bought them), endless aisles of dire straits records, you know.
but in one corner there was a stall selling old punk records - dead kennedys, pistols etc.
i started to have a casual flick through and suddenly, there in front of me was an object that at once terrified me and made my heart race.
it was a caroliner rainbow 6 LP box set.
6 LPs in a found box.
i opened it - it was basically the band's back catalogue to date gathered together, hand made sleeves and all, in one handy-scary-filthy-wonderful-sickening-bewildering package.
i handed the bemused stall holder my 40 euros and drove home.
it frightens me but i LOVE IT.
go here for more info on caroliner rainbow.