Your Food Poke it With A Stick (WhoreDog) 1983. This is the last of my Louisville posts (at least for the time being) and I am going out with a bang. Your Food is another amazing band that came out of the Louisville School of Art Scene in the late 1970s / early 1980s that I discovered on Bold Beginnings. The singer, Doug Maxson had previously been in the punk band The Dickbrains who were also featured on Bold Beginnings.
I remember as a teen in St Louis, seeing “Poke It With A Stick” in cut-out bins and being curious about it. Alas, being the old codger that I am, I actually lived at a time where there was no internet to research interesting bands. Without word of mouth, a sample on a friends comp tape, hearing it on college radio or seeing the band live, any purchase made back then was made purely on faith. Something I have never had a large supply of.
So until a few weeks back, I hadn’t heard it. I would have liked it LOTS back then too. Where the Dickbrains were a pretty standard Midwestern style punk rock act, Your Food was a big step into Midwestern art punk mixed with New Southern weirdness. The approach of the band was very similar to bands like Pylon, Oh-OK!, The Embarrassment and Get Smart! This is fitting because Louisville geographically exists right at the entry point of both the South and the Midwest and you can hear this in Your Food’s music.
Like the bands I listed above, Your Food had a crack rythm section in Charles Schultz and Wolf (not a punk rock name) Knapp.
Like the bands I listed above, Your Food had a crack rythm section in Charles Schultz and Wolf (not a punk rock name) Knapp. Each Your Food song follows a similar pattern with Charles and Wolf creating a unique rythm which they then repeat over the duration of the song. John Bailey then adds some seriously noisy guitar scronk over the top of it. The whole effect can be very reminiscent of European post-punk (LiLiput comes to mind) until you hear Doug’s Psycho Killer fa-fa-fa-vocals sung in a distinctive Louisville drawl which automatically transports you back over to this side of the Atlantic.
So….”Poke It With A Stick” being Louisville’s first punk LP, shot to the top of the nascent college radio playlists, correct? Umm, no…they were too wrapped up with Ultravox in 1983.
…and that’s a shame too cuz “Poke It” is a great record and seems strangely timeless when you listen to it (unlike, say Vienna by Ultravox). The key songs on it are the three that were on Bold Beginnings; Leave, Don’t Be, and Here as well as Foreign and the uber-cool Cool. In fact, the only throwaway is the last song Order which is a poorly recorded live track.
If you are interested in the entire 3 year Your Food saga (82 – 84), I highly recommend going to the Your Food myspace. Doug tells the tale much better than I could and it is an incredibly entertaining read, especially for anyone who has toured in a shitty van.
I have also included the early demo tracks that feature Tari Barr on drums. Because the Your Food sound was so set by its rythm section, these songs sound different and more rooted in Velvets-style droning. A couple of them were revamped for the classic lineup of the band and it is neat to hear them in thier embryonic form.
If you have been reading the comments on some of the other Louisville posts you know that Wolf moved to New York and became a North Jersey hillbilly. Doug has also been around the site and is currently playing guitar in the excellent band Minnow who are opening up for Slint in Chicago on July 14th.
I have a bunch of other Your Food obscurities that I have been rockin’ out to. If there is interest in the comments, I’ll definitely make a second Your Food post down the road.