Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Armand Schaubroeck Steals - Ratfucker

Armand Schaubroeck Steals are an extremely unknown rock band just waiting to be rediscovered and reissued by the right people. Led by Armand Schaubroeck, a man convicted of theft and possibly statutory rape (as his records would have you believe) at a young age, he was sent to juvenile and then adult prison for a number of years, before being released and starting a guitar shop business that soon made him a millionaire. Freed from financial constraints, his perhaps exaggerated obsessions with his (Catholic and otherwise) guilt and incarceration soon found an outlet in the extremely disturbed music he created in the guise of Armand Schaubroeck Steals. From around 1974 to around 1978 he released five albums and a handful of singles before disappearing into the rock and roll ether. They range from the interesting to the near perfect. The first, the triple LP A Lot Of People Would Like To See Armand Schaubroeck...DEAD! is a sublime masterwork in which Armand describes his young life, imprisonment and release, interspersing spoken word passages with songs in a wonderful theatrical style that impressed Andy Warhol so much that he considered turning it into a film. This is probably Armand's best work and somewhat of a lost masterpiece of theatrical rock.

He followed it up with I Came To Visit But Decided To Stay, another concept album, but this time focussing on a priest's obsession with a nun which disturbingly continues after her death. Although interesting, it doesn't beat it's predecessor or it's followup, the absolutely tremendous Ratfucker. Every track on Fucker is a nasty obscene chunk of pop genius. Musically it's probably close to the nastier sides of Lou Reed's catalogue mixed with the anger of Iggy Pop, but neither of them either made anything quite so deranged or absurd. Every song is filled with obscenity, as Armand take on the guise of yet another sick and twisted character and makes each of them more disgusting than the other, all the while managing to tie in enough pop hooks to make it a stupidly catchy listening experience. Gospel choirs and horn sections highlight the lives of his protagonists as they pimp women, men, themselves and steal, lie and cheat everyone they meet. It's just far too much fun to have been forgotten for so long. Even Armand seems to be in on the joke; hear how his voice almost cracks into laughter during the screams of "THIS IS MY FUCKING BLOCK!" on the title track. He's like a crack addicted Jonathan Richman, taking the best of rock and roll and putting it through a sieve so dirty that it's almost unrecognisable as pop music. Think The Birthday Party, think The Gun Club, think every sick and dirty rock and roll buffoon and multiply them by a hundred.

Armand would release two more LPs, a live record in which he dubbed Beatles-on-Ed-Sullivan style screaming girl audiences between live re-recordings of older songs, and Shakin Shakin, maybe his worst record but certainly still a lot of fun. After this Armand settled into his business and has remained mostly silent ever since. As all of these records recieved an extremely limited release and have never been reissued, they're VERY hard to get and that's part of the reason why I'm breaking one of my own rules by uploading a full album for you. God knows the only way these sort of forgotten classics do get release is by people making a noise about them. And then we can get the ATP folks to bother Armand and get him to come sing this stuff live for us!

I stumbled upon his music through a rather intriguing article on the Unsung section of Julian Cope's fantastic website. Copey has something of a knack for rediscovering unknown gems and writing about them in a way that makes them sound like something you HAVE to have in your life, and although the music doesn't always live up to the standards set by his always excitable writing style, thankfully A.S.S. don't really suffer from this. You can get more info at this great website or in another article from Perfect Sound Forever, and I really do recommend that you read those because they got there before me and gave far more of the back story, which is a great one. But really the best thing is probably to just listen. Listen, as loud as possible, play it to your friends and give it its dues, because this stuff is too much fun to be forgotten! Enjoy!

Armand Schaubroeck Steals - 01 Ratfucker
Armand Schaubroeck Steals - 02 Gigolo, Gigolo
Armand Schaubroeck Steals - 03 I Love Me More Than You
Armand Schaubroeck Steals - 04 Buried Alive
Armand Schaubroeck Steals - 05 The Independent Hitter
Armand Schaubroeck Steals - 06 Preteen Mama
Armand Schaubroeck Steals - 07 The Queen Hitter


Blogger yardbird said...

That's good stuff right there - I remember hearing his name, but never much of the music. Thanks!

10:28 pm, August 15, 2007  
Blogger Bob said...

Is that the guy who ran/runs House Of Guitars in Rochester?

10:32 pm, August 15, 2007  
Blogger Chris Lerch said...

Yep...that's him. Famous for its wild commercials:

10:57 pm, August 15, 2007  
Anonymous Duncan Walls said...

Having lived most of my life in the Rochester Area it has been virtually impossible to miss Armand. I am luckier than most in that I have a working relationship with Armand and brothers Bruce & Blain, who along with Armand's son Dylan run the House of Guitars (or the HOG as we affectionately call it here) day to day ops. The HOG has got to be one of the coolest stores on the planet, with collectible guitars (and new drums, guiatrs, basses, keys, etc) everywhere that entice pros from all over to shop there when they are in town. They also have TONS of CDs and TONS of Vinyl displayed in their own ragtag you can buy it if you can find it in their mega-store. Two of Armand's longtime employees are lead singer Greg Prevost and Andy Babiuk (author of book "Beatle Gear") of ultra-cool retro-gurus The Chesterfield Kings.

Armand still plays once a year at the Bob Dylan Birthday Party hosted by Americana band HUNU (formerly known as The Colorblind James Experience with ten CDs/LPs, a whole 'nother story waiting to be talked about)and MC'd by yours truly, now in it's 21st year. He usually plays solo with his ONE of a kind Gibson made 335 styled stereo electric dobro and does something like "Ballad of Hollis Brown" or some other very early Dylan. A True original.

There are a few VERY rare 45s lurking about that conatain Armand's earlier efforts under names like The Churchmice and Jerry Porter. Used to own them; wish I had them to post now for you all. Armand has alos issued a series of LPs on Mirror Records featuring other local artists, most notably the solo efforts of Bat McGrath & Don Potter, who recorded for Epic and RCA in the late 60s and after splitting up did solo projects. Don Potter ended up on CBS for a couple of 45s, then moved to Nashville where he eventually became the Judds lead guitarist and bandleader. Bat was Van Halen's karate-expert bodyguard before returning to music, when he went to Nashvile and with Don's help broke into the publishing end of the biz, writing a #1 for Wynona Judd and several other mainstream country hits.

Hope this expands the Armand knowledge. Arond here, he's kinda taken for granted, with many of those same LPs you mentioned being ignored and dumpstered by many. I concur that a reissue program should be instigated. Don't hold your breath. Armand is notoriously slow to move on stuff like that.

Duncan Walls

7:32 am, August 16, 2007  
Anonymous Jason said...

Thanks for the link... and the praise... I've collected some of the HOG commercials on my site as well. Armand's son has recently sent me a treasure trove of pictures and clippings which I will add to the site as time allows me to do so... There continues to be talk of reissuing stuff on CD, but as of this point, the word is that it will NOT be the entire catalog - most likely Ratfucker alone. What a shame...

3:42 pm, August 16, 2007  
Blogger james flames said...

thank you! this stuff is hard to find.

9:15 am, August 23, 2007  
Blogger Tink said...

Thanx 4 the upload it's great to hear these tracks again and yes if they are released i would be the first to buy them as they were very difficult to get hold of back in the eighties.
Tink London, England

10:52 am, September 03, 2007  
Blogger Devil Dick said...

wow, this sounds very similar to root boy slim but dirty...

any connection?

Good stuff either way.


8:04 pm, October 15, 2007  
Blogger Economy Films said...

Get your Churchmice 45 right here

10:25 pm, December 11, 2007  
Blogger Jef Elf said...

PLEASE repost these songs!

12:42 pm, January 17, 2008  
Blogger Lars Watkins said...

Please repost! I came across a copy of "...Dead!" while doing a show for my local college radio station. I can't play it on the air but I listened to it and fell in love. Where can I find other stuff by him?

7:11 pm, January 23, 2009  
Blogger Al said...

This album is available through Mirror Records for $27.98. Please support your local musician.


Mirror Records
645 Titus Ave.
Rochester, NY 14617

11:07 pm, October 05, 2011  
Blogger Assman said...

2:13 pm, June 08, 2012  

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