Liner Notes 16: Tos

Sometimes referred to as the “amp wizard”, the curator of this playlist is exactly that: a sonic sorcerer! If you have seen him shrouded in smoke, you will know Tos for his contribution to one of the heaviest bands on the northern hemisphere: Sunn O))). But his musical influence reaches further than the sound he produces through his Moog synthesiser. Originally a guitarist (he played in band like God and Beaver in the 80’s and 90’s), Tos is a collector and restorer or vintage amplifiers, which is what brought him into the brotherhood of Sunn O))). When you speak to him, you’ll find Tos to be a modest, kind, and enigmatic man of few, well-chosen words. His humor is unmistakably Dutch and he is truly a treasure trove of stories and anecdotes from many years of being on the road.

The bearded one has chosen some of his favorite jams for us, a fantastic mix ranging from psychedelia to punk that will hopefully inspire you to add some titles to your record collection. What connects these songs is that they’re all played with elements of what is his humble opinion “the king of the single coil guitar pickups”: the P-90. This device was introduced by Gibson post-WWII, and its characteristic raw and powerful tone helped define the sound of blues and rock’n’roll. When a young Tos was given two of these magical objects by Captain Sensible (guitarist in The Damned) he discovered that this was the key to much of the music he listened to in the 70’s!

Words: Clio Leeuwenburgh

  • Track 1SparksThe Who

    As one of the most legendary rock bands of all time, The Who made a name for themselves by writing monster hits like 'My Generation' and the rock opera Tommy, which features this song. Famous for their (quite literally) explosive shows and parties, the Londoners were no strangers to sex, drugs & rock'n'roll and left a trail of destruction, eventually leading to the untimely death of drummer Keith Moon. Get your pinball game on while listening to this instrumental track!

  • Track 2Dreams Of Milk And HoneyLeslie West

    This is a total proto-metal banger that will make you want to grow out your hair and run away to Woodstock with that cute girl you made eyes with at the record store. Cited as being the band that turned Ozzy Osbourne on to American rock, Long Island's Mountain man Leslie West has got the killer groovy riffs and bluesy voice that are perfect mixtape material for a road trip to Paradise.

  • Track 3Archangels ThunderbirdAmon Duul

    From the album Yeti, German prog rock masters Amon Düül show their experimental side with this psychedelic freak jam. Catchy melodies with slightly unsettling vocals and esoteric lyrics, this track has all the markings of a kraut classic.

  • Track 4Faith HealerAlex Harvey Band

    If your body's feelin' bad... Alex Harvey's eccentric rendition of Faith Healer will get you back on your feet. The atmospheric track has an unsettling quality to it that evokes scenes from a religious revival show, not far from the group's magical live performance. From a working class Glaswegian to frontman of various glam and blues rock bands, Harvey even shared the stage with The Silver Beetles (who later changed their name to, you guessed it: The Beatles) in 1960.

  • Track 5Fish/See Her ToniteDamned

    Widely credited for their major influence on goth subculture (frontman Dave Vanian had a penchant for drama and even worked as a gravedigger), The Damned are a welcome addition to any compilation. The punk pioneers conjure up a vision of the type of bad girl in ripped fishnets, a leather skirt, teased hair and smeared eyeliner with this '77 classic. Don't you wish you were seeing her tonight?

  • Track 6Better Off DeadWipers

    The first release of The Wipers is only a 5:37 minute self-released EP, but the band's influence reached far and wide, counting Nirvana and The Melvins among their fans. Known as the first Pacific Northwest punk band, their characteristic distorted sound made The Wipers a household name in the underground scene.

  • Track 7Beyond ModerationLewd

    SF/Seattle punks The Lewd only lasted four years until disbanding in 1982, but their obscure Kill Yourself 7" can still fetch up to a hundred bucks. Beyond Moderation is a pissed off anthem with snarling vocals and the frustration that any futureless youth can relate to.

  • Track 8RequiemKilling Joke

    Now is when we veer into 1980s post-punk territory for the first time, a slower but powerful track describing an apocalyptic scene full of sadness and broken glass. The ominous electronic intro and Jaz Coleman's angst-ridden vocals make for a beautiful warning for what we may have already become. He later described humanity as "Passive zombies. Dumbed down to obese, lethargic corpses".

  • Track 9Executive OutcomesGolden

    As the only track recorded around the millennium, Golden is all controlled chaos and carefully placed spaces. With elements of math and post-rock, the exceptional musicianship especially shines through in its groovier parts. Unsurprisingly, all members have various well-known projects including The Fucking Champs, The Make-Up, Extra Golden and most notably, drummer Jon Theodore went on to join The Mars Volta and is currently in Queens Of The Stone Age.

  • Track 10Now Is The TimeWipers

    Back to the Wipers, with the thought-provoking line: Now is the time, where is the truth? A mantra that still rings true and stands the test of time. Looking back at the band's discography, Over The Edge is a clear link between the punk and grunge movement that came out of Seattle a few years later.

  • Track 11Sick Of Being SickDamned

    This is a rare one that appears on the later released Peel Sessions and as a B-side of Stretcher Case Baby 7" that came out shortly after the debut album Damned Damned Damned. Fun fact: singer Dave Vanian and Sex Pistols enfant terribile Sid Vicious were both invited to audition for the band but only Vanian showed up, and subsequently got the gig.

  • Track 12Baby, I'm DownLeslie West

    Here's where a more powerful Leslie West comes in, his distinctive raw voice melancholy but hopeful. But the real strength of the song is in the delivery and guitar solos, unsurprising from a man who "didn't give a shit about lyrics"!

  • Track 13Sister BurningAmon Duul

    Another oriental-tinged magic carpet ride from the 10-headed commune, this time the opening track of Yeti, surprisingly upbeat track recounting a witch hunt resulting in the death of the narrator's sister. Since we're on the subject, the last witch to be executed in Germany appears to be 15 year-old Veronika Zeritschin, who burned at the stake in 1756.

  • Track 14Wild And ExcitingEarth & Fire

    Dutch prog rock-turned-pop outfit made a splash in the European charts with their catchy riffs and catsuited frontwoman Jerney Kaagman. The self-titled album wasn't an immediate success but gained considerable recognition in Japan, where the band released a split 7" with Dutch contemporaries Shocking Blue. Leaving their progressive and symphonic roots behind, the group's 1979 single Weekend became a number one hit in seven countries.

  • Track 15I Feel AlrightDamned

    The third Damned song and closing track of the playlist is a noisy Saturday night party banger that sounds like it inspired the cake fight which resulted in the iconic album cover. Just four young punks having fun playing rock music, what's not to love? But what I really want to know though... Is who the fuck is Keith!?