The Leaving Trains
By 1987, SST Records had gone from being a tiny label that putting out a few amazing bands to one that seemed to put out a seemingly limitless supply of dreck that everyone else was wise enough to pass up on (like Zoogz Rift, Tom Troccolli's Dog, Painted Willie and a host of others equally dreadful). That's why when a band called the Leaving Trains put out an LP titled Kill Tunes
on SST, I passed it by without a second thought as I flipped through the stacks, relegating it in my mind to land of records best left unheard. But when a friend gave me their second LP, Fuck
, I realized how wrong I was.
With blistering guitars, pounding drums, a thumping bass and a cross-dressing singer, the Leaving Trains put out one of the best records of 1987 and barely anyone noticed (though Tom Waits did cite them in a NME interview as one of his favorite bands along with the Pogues and may or may not have referenced their frontman, Falling James, in "Gun Street Girl"). The record veers from amped up punk to softer moments that recall the Velvets on their self-titled third album, and fits in with L.A. peers like X and the Gun Club.
Unfortunately, Falling James (the band's founder) has always had a penchant for dumping band members, so it's been rare for any one lineup to have lasted for more than one album, which has led to a lot of inconsistency and may be why the band has never gotten more recognition. Their follow up to Fuck
, for instance -- Transportational D. Vices
, with a third configuration in jut as many LP's -- is nowhere near as good as its predecessor.
Here's the lead track from Fuck
(retitled "Temporal Sludge" from "Temporal Slut" in what I assume was an effort to get more MTV air play: