Sunday, October 31, 2010

You're gettin' another ramble-on this week. Chalk it up to the economy drive (which I'll get around somehow, so don't worry Kyoko) and a general yawn-inspiring existence that's typical of this 21st century miasma we're now wallowing in. If you think that I'm a particularly slothful person the rest of the year you should see me now...I think it all has to do with the change in the weather and the impending lack of sunlight that gets those ol' brain syntaxes snappin', but I've been wrong before and could be again. Whatever, right about now all I'm doin' is flashin' back to this rainy Saturday in October a good 39 years back and to the surprisingly happy memories I have of...reading a 35-cent DC WORLD'S FINEST special in my uncle and aunt's sitting room while my mother and said relatives were holding a garage sale and of course doing miserably considering the horrid weather.

I actually re-purchased the exact same copy of this WORLD'S FINEST ish about a decade back and recall that it pretty much consisted of those oft-reviled pre-new trend Batman sagas (before they put the yellow bullseye around the bat on his chest) back when the dynamic duo would tangle with aliens and indulge in other by-then worn out sci-fi plots. Only this time the Dynamic Douchebags (which is what a few anti-Batman snides were callin' 'em way back when) were doing it with the help of Superman, a superhero who would have been better off playing hide the kryptonite with Lois Lane back in Metropolis. Nothing that would get you excited, but just thinking of those joy-filled memories and eyeballing that particular issue feeling warm and secure as the rain pounded away sure ranks with the rest of my budding comic book obsessions that would grip me throughout my pre-adolescent days and even well into my later high school years! (My reading of the final issue of the Avengers' Kree/Skrull War saga around two-thirty AM towards the end of a rather potent New Year's Eve party at our abode also rests well in my cranium not to mention a whale of a lot of flea market and garage sale finds that sure have me zoning back to the days when 20 cents really meant something!) You can bet that I'll be scouring through boxes of offal to find that particular issue because...well, there just might be a rainy Saturday left in this Fall season and why waste it?

Hey, it's HALLOWEEN too! Now that's something that really doesn't send an electrical jolt through my spine the way it did way back when, but like in the case above those memories sure bring back loads of funtime feelings, good 'uns that is which I must admit were in short supply during those growing up days where really were the best and worst of times. I remember when we kids took Halloween real serious-like, not only in the selection of our costumes but plotting our trajectories and then (after hitting a good ten or so streets) trekking back tired yet happy in the thoughts of wallowing in all of that sweet booty we had received out of the goodness of our neighbors' hearts. Yeah, Halloween was a serious holiday to the point where I recall reams of kids scouring the neighborhood well into the dark of night (long after I had retreated back home due to exhaustion) just swarming all over the place having fun and maybe getting hit by a car or two which seemed the norm. Kids back then really canvassed a whole slew of areas both familiar and foreign, and in fact I recall loads of youngsters from the black neighborhoods hitting our pad knowing that they were going to be leaving with more candy and other junk food thrills than they'd see for the next 364! Yeah I am sad to see this youthful pastime relegated to just a handfulla brave souls thanks to the creeps and fear-filled out there just like I shed a tear at the demise of a whole lotta things that have vanished from my life o'er the past few decades like funtime television. sleek automobiles and high energy rock & roll. And really, I don't think it was black magic that did 'em all in but something more nefarious, like the spiritual successors to the moral uplifters and Werthamites who thought we'd all be better off holding hands while singing "Kumbaya" (while elevating the worst aspects of our society to the forefront at the expense of everything that was good and just). It only goes to show that we never shoulda let these nebs get the upper hand in the first place and that those old time fogeys who were railing against 'em and their reforming ways were right after all!

I could go on and on (to the point of onanonism) 'bout all of this (and more) but I won't lest I end up sounding like one of those guys I remember when I was a kid who think the world went to hell in a handbasket back in 1964, only to be topped by even older people who said it was 1919! But hey, why should you lumpen lumps be denied of my regaling you with tales of funtime late-period baby boomer activities even if I was on the peripheral edge of it all? Sure beats some of those tepid eighties underground rock memories that one can find easily enough with the sleek click of a mouse!

Since there ain't been any new material scooting its way to my door thanks to the self-imposed depression here at BTC HQ, I've been digging further and further into the archives for tasty treats that I've somehow let slip to the back ot the bus. And considering the hefty Flamin' Groovies homage paid last post I figured why not dig up a few more of their platters which I must admit to having ignored these past coupla years, rockism ingrate that I am. A shame too, since the Groovies were just as important to the early-seventies bubbling under the surface hotcha rock scene as the Stooges and Dolls, and the fact that most wonks out there don't rank 'em up with those acts only goes to show you what short shrift the Groovies continue to get even from the kinda folk you thought would be front and center cheering on the lads like they did with every other outta the garage combo of the seventies and onwards! And hey, some of those groups weren't even worthy of the slightest "rah" let alone their own cheerleading section, and that gets me blood boiling mad!

It's as important to define the difference between the early Flamin' Groovies and the latter variation just as much as it is to do the same regarding the Velvet Underground. The early Groovies were born of mid-sixties San Francisco at its best with a heavy influx of Detroit high energy and perhaps some Velvet Underground for good measure. The later group was a return to the British Invasion roots which yielded a number of highly entertaining albums which also made for wondrous late-seventies cut out consumption. And yeah, I guess we can argue from here to Odessa and back as to which version of the Groovies was the best'n all, but right now I'm concentratin' on those early recordings where the Groovies were doing a three-way teeter between fifties homage, mid-sixties goodtimeyness and late-sixties high energy. Quite a combination to mix up there, and believe it or not but the Groovies were able to do it all with relative ease 'stead of ending up looking like a doof cross between Sha Na Na and the Jefferson Airplane'r somethin'!

Although it may seem like heresy to some of you regular readers I absolutely positively did not cozy up to FLAMINGO when I first gave it a spin way back in that transitional in more ways'n one year of 1978. Looking back from a gulping thirty-two years it's hard for me to understand why considering how this sleeper really said way more 'bout rock as an up-and-throbbing entity than anything hitting the airwaves but I gander it was my own nebbish nervousness combined with a lack of direction (after all, I was feeling out music of all sorts by myself on my lonesome w/o any sibling or peer guidance unlike the vast majority of you) which eventually led to a whole number of stupid gaffes and other goofs especially when it came to picking the right records to pick up at flea markets. Excuses aside I can't see how FLAMINGO would fail to satisfy a great many rock & roll maniacs of the day who sorta got their teeth cut on old instrumental rock 45's and came of age with the Stones and Byrds then got left in the dark with the hippoid upheaval of the late-sixties. Just what Doc Rock ordered stuff here with an overall mood that was pretty alien to the mode of the music changing to Melanie in the earlier portion of that decade. With a rockabilly base shuffled through the Stones and strained through the best that San Fran was offering. Served up on a Detroit-inspired platter too making me wonder how those legendary gigs with the Stooges, Alice and MC5 went over with the teen polloi of the day.

The Big Beat reish I'm spinning also has a flurry of bonus tracks including a take of "Walking the Dog", "Louie Louie", "Rockin' Pneumonia" obviously laid down a few years prior to the United Artists waxing and even Eddie Cochran's "Somethin' Else", a deed which seems pretty reactionary considering that this was recorded in '70 and not even those Sha Na Na types'd think of covering anything as radical as that!

Seventy-one's TEENAGE HEAD's the album that did it for me...still remember starin' at the cover in the cutout bins of '76 (which is, due to financial restraints, a place where I spent a whole lotta time) wond'rin' what these guys with the teenybop name sounded like. That cover shot was the eventual selling point and probably thee single most important pic that relayed to my bean what punk rock was all about regarding its look and overall snot teenage pout...that I do remember. I also remember being warned not to buy the thing because it was nothing but a load of primitive and puerile palpatations created by a buncha bozos who thought they could play their gear after one free lesson won on the local AM station. And if that wasn't enough to get my juices flowing then NOTHING was!

The entire platter's a winner natch and quite a surprise from a guy who had spent the previous few months spinning SHAKE SOME ACTION expectin' the same thing. (At the time I was unaware of the early/later Groovies dichotomy mentioned above---hey, it wasn't like I had every issue of ROCK SCENE at my disposal!). But hey, I loved this 'un from the first spin on and continue to for many a reason, the nice crunchy feel amongst 'em. The loose atmosphere also helps and the fact that R. Meltzer himself post-Blue Oyster Cult/pre-Vom and pre-pre Smegma helped out on background vocals helped even more (I was looking for hooks regarding reasons to dig the music even back then!). And the fact that TEENAGE HEAD mixes and matches early-seventies underground rock ideals with fifties accomplishment filtered through mid-sixties attitude also made this a platter that, along with ELECTRIC WARRIOR, stands as one of the shiningest examples of what rock & roll could have aspired to in the sometimes doldrum year of '71 back when all of the good gunch was being ignored and the best way one could up their status at school was by flaunting the Carole King, James Taylor and various CSN&Y platters in their possession.

Gee, if I really wanted to be on the outs maybe I shoulda picked up a Stooges album to parade through the grade school halls, that is if I could afford to buy one let alone knew who the Stooges were at the time!

The Big Beat version also includes a slew of additional tracks, some of which I believe ended up on the b-side to the STILL SHAKIN' '76 cash in as well as a number of Eva albums that came out in France in the eighties. Whatever, it's nice hearin' 'em in this context and I must admit that their version of "Rumble" is just as good as Kim Fowley's and even Smegma's, but then again who could ruin a cover of that Link Wray classic unless some lame amerindie band did it or maybe even a buncha hippies joking around after downing a bottle of Boone's Farm?
Wonder how I'm doin' with all of those DICK TRACY books eh? Well, rather swimmingly if I do say so myself. Right now I'm about 1/6th of the way through volume four smack dab inna middle of the "Purple Cross" story (the one where Tracy's fighting this crazed secret society crime club whose members have purple Maltese Crosses tattooed on their tongues!) which I happened to read a few months back via one of the Tracy reprint magazines but it's not like I'm cryin' about it. In fact I remain engrossed even if I know what's gonna happen after Tracy's bound, gagged, and ready to be dumped into the deepest part of the ocean loaded with weights...I mean, he's gotten outta worse predicaments with flying colors y'know!

Of course it's kinda startling seeing all of those "stereotypes" (I put that word in parentheses just to nudge nudge the pottery and dream-catcher crowd who might have tuned into this blog by mistake) that Chester Gould got away with back when the sensitivity levels weren't as high as they are now. And considering my own strong constitution which usually doesn't flinch at these things I gotta say that Gould's depiction of various types at times even made me shudder! F'rinstance, in the previous volume there was this rag pickin' wop-a-dago in the mix as well as a Jewish tailor who looked like he coulda been in a NATIONAL LAMPOON comic "spoofing" anti-Semitism (yeah, right!), and more recently in the run Gould introduced to us Memphis Smith, a valet who makes Willie Best look like Sidney Poitier which should give you some idea of what kinda direction we're heading into! (Tracy shows his best side in these strips when he refers to Smith as "Big Boy" and "Snowball", and like I said even I was feeling uncomfortable!) The frequent use of the work "chink" during an episode featuring a Chinese opium smuggler is also a bit of a surprise, though oddly enough Gould seems to have nada antipathy towards Mexicans considering how one of his earlier villains was gun moll sexy Texy Garcia, a gal who I thought was might hotcha stuff even if she was a badski! Of course in his various forewords current TRACY scribe Max Allan Collins constantly reminds us that Gould should not be judged so hard given the tone of the times and that the entertainment biz in general wallowed in such characters that were more'n apt to play up on Mr & Mrs Front Porch's fears regarding their nation being overrun by furriners. Fair enough, but will anyone apologize for Gould's portrayal of homos in his strip? I mean that Vitamin Flintheart was about as three-dollar bill as they come!
While digging up the aforementioned batch of Groovies wares (of which there were more...check a future BLOG TO COMM for some patented added insight) I managed to come up with the following two rarities which sorta fit in with the Groovies aura so to speak. Well, at least they do for me because both of these acts were more/less worming their way into my psyche around the same time the Groovies did whilst both also made a strong imprint on my general late-seventies music make up as well. And both of these platters were released on the Punk Vault label which I think might have connections to that series of seven-inchers that were circulating in the late-eighties under an imprint of the same name (rumor has it that they were manufactured by a certain under-exposed rock scribe who never did get the proper accolades rewarded to lesser lights, a typical story natch but only to let you know that I wasn't the only rockster on the writing scene getting the ol' screw!).

I gotta admit that the Modern Lovers were one group that fit in with my v. late-seventies musical mock up just as much as those old Velvet Underground albums and various mid-sixties flea market finds had. Just about everything was right about 'em, from the name (I remember mentioning 'em to my cousins around the time the first album finally came out in '76 and my aunt telling me that with a name like that they just HADDA be dirty!) to the fact that Jonathan Richman had short hair too which was a consolation to a kid like me who woulda been SPLATTERED by the folks if the hair even remotely touched the ears or the back of my collar. (If dad only knew back then that anyone under forty with short hair was a faggot he'd probably reconsider, but then again I doubt it him thinking it was still 1947 fair and square!) And best of all, this everykid Richman guy was one who really zoned into my own frustrated teenage existence singing about his own horniess for everyone to is this guy speaking for me (cloistered suburban pimplefarm) or what? Yeah you could say that Richman was the spiritual father to all of those puerile kitchy-koo namby pamby "amerindie" dweebs and if J. Neo Marvin was breastfed from Richman's very own natties I wouldn't be surprised one bit, but for me that guy was singing about being young 'n Amerigan and fifties-loving (in the truest sense) and wholesome yet hotcha for the femme gender which makes him the real seventies correlation to Chuck Berry's understanding of the fifties teen and I ain't lyin' one bit, pod'ner!

This collection entitled SONGS OF REMEMBRANCE gathers up those toasty ol' seventies memories and does 'em up special for people like me who hadda live vicariously through a whole lotta bubbling unders that held oh-so-much promise. Great cover (with snaps taken outta various issues of ROCK NEWS, the primo mid-seventies French fanzine doin' it all up for you and on slick paper t'boot!), and even greater selection of Modern Lover rarities here including some early home solo recordings showing future faves soon to be fleshed out (and there's even a snippet of "Waiting For The Man" in case you still wonder where Richman was deriving his energies from) and other outta-the-way surprises that I'm sure even the staunchest fan wasn't aware of 'til this 'un showed its face. One real eye-opener (amidst the various Cale demo outtakes and early radio sessions) are some tracks that were recorded at the Mercer Arts Center's New Year's show back 12/31/72 way when the Lovers shared the stage with the likes of the Dolls, Magic Tramps, Suicide and a variety of other local decadent wowzers! Sound may be typical cassette quality but the feeling and oomph are there, and given the importance of this show the entire gig as well as the other sets oughta be made available to the public pronto! I mean, I am sick of waiting five years between each and every underground wonderment that dribbles from the teat of inspiration. (You can tell that I'm in a real lactatin' mood today with two whole breast milky jokes. Not literally, of course!)

If the Modern Lovers were but one recording act that piqued my electrodes then Pere Ubu were another that sorta drove me into total obsessive abandon. Like some of you I read every li'l mention of 'em in Jane Scott's PLAIN DEALER column as well as reviews of their early singles in a variety of rags (the one in GIG of all places sticks in my mind with the Hawkwind comparison), and those early single sides along with the first two albums were like holy grails especially with their avant-rock inclinations that appealed to a doof like myself who was mixing his rock & roll with a li'l bitta John Cage. UBU UNCHAINED is a great distillation of exactly what was so appealing and soul-searing about those very early Ubu sides recorded when Peter Laughner was in the group and they really seemed to be forging a new direction all of those other forward-looking new direction outfits seemed to fizzle out into nothing once the eighties rolled into gear but let's not forget the original high intensity of it all.

Rocket From The Tombs fans will be glad to know that a good portion of the May '75 WMMS-FM broadcast recorded live at the old Agora appears, although the "Down In Flames"/"Search and Destroy" finale has been lopped off meaning DON'T THROW AWAY YOUR ORIGINAL TAPES JUST YET!!! It's not surprising just how spontaneous and high energy this stuff remains over 35 years later, and even I have gotta burn at the fact that there's even more Rocket in the vaults waiting to be released only Crocus Behemoth is sitting on the entire cache for reasons we can only ponder! C'mon, the world is waiting to hear songs like "Gasoline" and "Remake/Remodel" done your way, not these new tracks which reflect little if any of the original Rocket intent!!!!

The appearance of tracks from the second Ubu gig, also at the Agora, was quite a surprise tp me back when I first got this disque back in the late-nineties since I hadn't heard about this tape circulating like I normally would have. Well, Johnny-Cum-Lately Me is still knocked loop-like by this discovery featuring Ubu doing their soon-to-be legendary numbers sounding a little clunky in their efforts but still satisfying. Note the slight differences between songs like "Cloud 149" and the way they would eventually appear vinylized as well as soak in the between-song patter. Makes me wonder when somebody is gonna release that tape of Ubu at Max's that future Information guy Chris Nelson supposedly has hidden somewhere in his boudoir?

Closing out the set is "Heroin" and yeah, it's the same one from the Mistake show that's been legitimately released awhile back and can probably be downloaded somewhere (as can both of these disques in case you are curious). But back when this came out it was probably about as alien to the reg'lar Ubu fan as wiping is to Melbournites so why quibble especially since this Laughner-vocalized number was perhaps one of the better takes on that infamous numbuh ever to be warbled, and by a guy who probably lived its inherent message to the fullest extent.

Speaking of Laughner, just dig that great snap of him on the cover alongside the one called Behemoth. My guess is that this shot was taken at the April '76 Max's Easter Festival where Ubu performed at the top of a bill featuring Harry Toledo, Suicide and the Great Mystaque (featuring daughter of Lenny Kitty Bruce...Talking Heads who were originally billed copped out for a Connecticut gig). If I'm not mistaken, this was the gig where Laughner got photographed sitting next to Richard Hell who swapped notes and the chord changes to "Blank Generation" with his Cleveland-based fan. It's kinda hard for me to fathom just how much good publicity Ubu got out of this particular gig not only with a New York radio interview but a nice piece in THE PLAIN DEALER where former Viking Saloon owner/Rocket drummer Dick Korn regaled Jane Scott via telephone just how important a place like Max's was and remained at the time, probably influencing a ton of rabid young 'uns at the time to take action and follow the lead of the ones called Ubu! Seems so long ago, and the fact that three-plus decades down the line the entire shebang is so mummified it might as well be in a museum is enough to make a huge lump form in the throat. I mean, back then there were things to look forward to from catalogs to fanzines to even raw rumor. Now all we have to live by is UGLY THINGS, and frankly I could use a whole lot more!
Maybe I should mention a li'l something about the new Keith Richard autobio entitled LIFE, a plain enough moniker for a book I guess but it sure does sound better than WHEATIES. Given the amount of coverage this book has received as of late with Richard himself being interviewed about it as well as a variety of reviews not only on THE HOUND BLOG but elsewhere I pretty much already know what the entire book entails so I can save myself a good hunk by not buying a copy greedy sod that I am. I gotta admit that from what I've heard this book does seem like a cover-to-cover expose that even outdoes all of the other Rolling Stone tell-alls of the past thirtysome years...for example, it sure is heartening to know that Richard hates Mick Jagger with a passion (which you would expect after forty years of marriage; I mean look at your own folks whom I'll bet you'd wish would be carted to the city dump and left there!) and that Marlon Brando of all people propositioned Richard and Anita Pallenberg for a three-way which Richard must have been sober enough to decline or why else would he remember this at all! How could I have lived so long not knowing such intimate details into Keith's life! Naturally I'm more interested in some of the more intricate details of Mr. R's mindworkings, like f'rexample his memories of singing backup with Mick on the Downliners Sect's "Hurt By Love" or perhaps a few words regarding his friendship with none other than Nick Kent. I doubt any of that'll be in there. After all, do you think all of the people who were interviewed for this autobio'd even remember, let alone care???
Hey, if there are any readers left after today's bore-a-thon, I'll see you sometimes mid-week for a small review-like get-together and really, I will attempt a weekender with some reviews of fresh mozzerella I'm sure you can sink your teeth into (or tooth into if you happen to live in Melbourne). Happy trick or treating, and watch out for the pins!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Y'know, I just wonder how did these guys ever make it??? Not in the phony "classic rock" sense as in "hitting the big time" which continues to sting the nostrils like a dead wombat in the middle of a Melbourne heatwave (if that's what the smell is...), I mean succeed like they did in the GREAT AMERIGAN CULT ROCK SWEEPSTAKES with a good twennysome year-long career, albums galore for both major and piddly labels and more fanzine press than even the Stooges could stand! Really, if this were the real world the Flamin' Groovies woulda deep-sixed right after their Epic longplayer hit the racks and into the 49-cent bin at your favorite supermarket snuggled right next to the rest of those dumpoffs, so like what gives?????

Anyway here's another older from deep in the pile which I dragged out and dusted off while looking for my Savage Rose platters (being in a 1971 Lester Bangs mood no doubt). A quality-oozing Norton production as well complete with a nice mock-up retroswipe BEATLES SECOND ALBUM-take cover which only the folks @ Norton could get away with these days (well, at least they ain't copped any old EC covers like has been done to death since the days of that venerable company awlready!). Great sound too, a vast improvement over the original live album back when Bomp! first issued it in the eighties and there's even some additional music slipped on at the end but I don' wanna get ahead of myself...

The Groovies really did epitomize everything that San Francisco really was supposed to stand for, w/o the stench of hippie mewl or seventies hackdom that dogged the scene to the point of revulsion. ("We built this city on rock & roll"??? Howzbout building this city on playing to the right buncha phony-intellectual mind-numbed minions, eh?) Many people do not equate SF w/high energy rock but the pulse was there with the early live Quicksilver, Moby Grape and most definitely these guys who were certainly on the "outs" in their hometown but said way more about what San Francisco could have aspired to had it knocked off the smug hippie sanctimoniousness and settled down to brass rockism tacks.

It is funny hearing this tape taken off of the local KSAN-FM farewell to the Fillmore broadcast. Dunno if KSAN was one to play the Groovies (I have reason to believe that they did on occasion in the same all-encompassing way that FM radio would spin the MC5 next to Melanie) but after all of the nasty things that Bill Graham said about 'em who woulda thought he'd even let 'em near his hogshed anyway? He musta been inna good mood to consent to havin' 'em play his soon-to-deep six dive and KSAN must've been truly freeform if they would even think of broadcastin' 'em live along with the rest of the locals who were paying their own respects in their own special way. (Yeah I know that this was a pre-arranged live set up and KSAN was airing the whole shebang but they coulda avoided stokin' the hippoid anger by substituting an old Joy of Cooking show!)

Fantastic song selection here too leaning heavily towards the TEENAGE HEAD (#1 99-cent bargain bin catch of all time!)/UA/Skydog era which ain't gonna disappoint me in the least. Fantastic takes on all of the well-known Groovies chestnuts from "Slow Death" (introduced as a song that was gonna be on their new album!) to a wild "Shakin' All Over" that not only seems to "borrow" from the live version the MC5 were totin' about at the time but has this rave-up section that clearly hearkens back to the early-Velvet Underground to do a little 1971-inspired name dropping myself. And how about having the guts to perform "Louie Louie" in San Francisco during the ultra-"relevant" year of 1971 w/o turning it into a klutzy if "well-meaning" romp like the Dead woulda, nor a demeaning teardown like the Mothers had in the past! Let me tell you, between all that and the inspired takes on "I'm a Man" and "I Can't Explain" not to mention the wowzer versions of well-known Groovies studio numbuhs can your poor li'l ol' wrinkled heart stand it?????

Talk about inspirational! And what's more I'm sure it's still easy enough to get if you click on the Norton link at the left and do your doody! Excitement and energy transposed onto a simple piece of cheapo aluminun and plastic whomped together and available to you in the here and now! And considering how the music scene today is even worse than we ever thought it could get back in the seventies and eighties (and really, what is Lady Caga more than Madonna with an even-reekier body odor?) dontcha think that a platter like this still comes in handy?

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Another ramble-on from a rambling mind. Writ too many of those these past few months and you might be sick as all heck about 'em, but I gotta admit that there's nothing really that crucial goin' on here that warrants a big blow-out filled with dozens of pant-inducing writeups of recently obtained goodies so in its stead I'll just bore you with some of my patented prattling regarding the other aspects of what we here at BTC central call "life". Who knows, maybe I'll even slip in a review at the tail end just to "legitimize" this entry. You can tell I'm in one of my crankier moods right now, perhaps brought on by the onset of autumn amongst other sundry things you'd be better off not knowing about lest you delve into the same state of funk that I'm currently wallowing in.

If you must know, there's one thing that has been occupying my preciously-dwindling free time in a positive, life-reaffirming way and that has been the start of a life-long ambition of tackling the entire 46-year-run of Chester Gould's DICK TRACY from beginning to end rather'n all splotched up like I have been doing these past fortysome years. Or at least tackling what is currently available from IDW have been reprinting Gould's 1931-1977 strip in smythe-sewn hardcover book form and are only up to 1947 (Itchy) at this point in time. And considering that (along with NANCY) TRACY is my all-time favorite comic strip why shouldn't I handle the herculean task of reading Gould's odyssey from beginning to end rather'n mix and matched up like I've been doing ever since first glomming a library copy of THE CELEBRATED CASES OF DICK TRACY when I was but a good eleven years old!

Many people forget the intensity and high-energy (not to mention controversy) TRACY exuded throughout the entire Gould run not to mention the tough on crime morality tales which still resonate at least for me a good seventy/eighty years down the line. Let's face it, Gould's creation remains such a top notch effort (while displaying a good healthy sense of older generation crankiness throughout) that I'm willing to tackle the later Moon Maid/hippie/law and order strips that even the most avid TRACY fans tend to loathe.

Right now I'm about three-fourths of the way through volume one and the introduction of "Junior" right when the strip seemed to be trying to latch onto an identity of its own, an identity which would come to fruition via the bloody and downright gruesome plots and deformed villains who made TRACY so noticible within a few years time. (At this point in the strip the bad guys who are giving the can opener-nosed detective a hard time seem to be cut from the usual mobster stock company seen in most of the movies and dime novels of the depression era.) The artwork is still in that old-styled thin-pen fashion that had been seen for ages already and although a far cry from the stark black and white boldness of TRACY's classic years the "feeling" and "roots" of the impending grotesqueness of the strip are definitely there. Same with the violent and at times chilling plots which are only beginning to show the bloodiness and gore of things to come. Nice but I sure can't wait for those strips where you see Tracy shoot some badski through the head with the bullet trajectory trailing of in a weaving fashion while coming out the other side of the chest/skull.

And stick a dildo up my ass and call me Dave Lang, but I'm still sucked in by the violent plots and developments just like I was when I was a wild-eyed blob not only reading the old TRACY sagas that had just come out in book form but eyeballed 'em daily in the newspapers before they were excised after the spate of violence that swept this Land of Ours throughout the late-sixties/early-sevenites. Y'see, some do-gooders (many cut from the same political/societal cloth as many of you readers) obviously thought the assassinations and student unrest of the day was being directly caused by comics such as TRACY as well as BUGS BUNNY/THREE STOOGES reruns on tee-vee so off they went faster'n the hair off my scalp. Good thing we've gotten rid of this violent rubbish and the world is now all sweetness and light and goody-two-shoes, dontcha think?

As a parting TRACY note let me lay onto you this always-pertinent quote which Gould told underground cartoonist Jay Lynch when Lynch and Robert Crumb (!) visited Gould at his CHICAGO TRIBUNE office, "If you can't tell the good guys from the bad guys then you're one of the bad guys!" Thought that might "offend" at least one of you "above-it-alls" out there. If you ask me (and why not?) no truer words have ever been spoken!

I guess that the recent deaths of at least two people of note should not go unmentioned, those of Joseph Sobran and Barbara Billingsley to be precise about it. (Forget it, I'm not even going to mention the recently-deceased sleepwalking actor Tom Bosley in the same breath as Billingsley, though if you ask me former Boy/Bomba star Johnny Sheffield was more than "just an actor"!) I'm sure not many of you readers know who Sobran was and considering his controversial nature (to the point where there were quite a few points where even I might not have exactly seen eye-to-eye with him, though there were many that I did) I'm sure most people in this universe didn't know either, but Sobran was one of the few pundits on the fringe of the "political" scene who was good enough at his craft to the point where he even knew how to rankle to ire of many people allegedly on the (yawn!) "conservative" side of the aisle, which in these days is really saying something good.

Heck, you could tell that Sobran was way on the outside of the so-called "right" because when Rush Limbaugh used to do his commercial for THE CONSERVATIVE CHRONICLES collection of columnists gathered under one roof he'd mention the big-name guns in a typically upbeat manner but would suddenly switch to unsure and unapproving when bringing up Sobran's! Well, that was around the time it became known to one and all that ol' Rush had fallen into the partyline conservative camp along with the rest of the put-on patriots (in fact wasn't he there all along?) while the likes of Sobran, along with Charley Reese and Paul Craig Roberts (to name a few) were actually carrying on the credo in its truest, most anti-governmental/anarchist form and getting berated or worse yet shoved to the back of the website for doing so. Funny though, it was the likes of these and other fellow travelers like Justin Raimondo who turned out to be correct about a whole slew of things from overseas aggression to the war on drugs while what passes for republicanism, conservatism or whatever it be known by just comes off all the more fishier the longer it's left outside the refrigerator.

Of course Sobran wasn't going to be making many friends with his opines nor would he be allowed near any of the major conservative outlets with his antiwar views in the face of a lotta sabre-rattling that continues to go on. In fact you knew he was that good since even snide libertarians the likes of Jay Hinman with his SF-bred ideas of "equality" (more of it for the sickos, none of it for the straights!) never would even dare name drop him in their litany of truly progressive and outside-the-realm thinkers the way they do many a lesser light, like Rudolph Guiliani??? But unlike these nebs I devoured Sobran's columns for their forthrightness and willingness to say things that most people would wish was left unmentioned, something which eventually got him into hot water with former boss William F. Buckley and fired from NATIONAL REVIEW even though the two made nicey-nice shortly before Buckley's own passing awhile back.

Sobran had been ill these past few years and his columns less and less frequent. I was able to make up with the loss by latching onto other faves usually via the Chronicles and Taki's Top Drawer sites listed to the left, but still a void was created with his absence. Like Reese, Sobran was one of the last of the old-time columnists who didn't screech or preach like most on both ends of the spectrum tend to. He pretty much talked it to you in the same fashion that a hard-boiled newspaperman from the fifties sick to his stomach at alla 'em long-haired stinkpots did; nice and tough! None of this frilly Anna Qundlen/Ellen Goodman humanist mush from Sobran fact, Sobran was more or less pried from the old-time newspaperman mold and the newsroom atmosphere that would have made a Quindlen or Goodman wilt in feminist outrage!

Very few, especially in these politically humble and "caring" times, would be able to fill Sobran's shoes. Some like Tom Piatek convey an anti-pointy-head snob attitude in their efforts but it just ain't the same. Somehow I could see Sobran, along with Reese and even Raimondo working as columnists under Perry White at THE DAILY PLANET. Piatek would have to settle for being Jimmy Olsen's gofer, something which I wouldn't consider an insult but let's just say he needs to get a little more expierience under his belt before he can be promoted to Clark Kent status.
Gotta admit that the passing of June Cleaver herself Barbara Billingsley just made me feel really old. And I also gotta admit that slapping her obit towards the back of the first section of the local paper along with the rest of the deaths only shows just how much in contempt she continues to be held in. At least when Hugh Beaumont died in the early eighties his death notice was on the front page, albeit on the bottom half along with the usual city council and traffic accident stuff. And yeah, unlike with Harriet Nelson's passing in the nineties I am going to avoid all of these pseudointellectual snide comments about her passing being the final nail in the coffin re. the role of women (pardon moi..."womyn", or is it still "wimmer"?) as publicly displayed in this patriarchal society of ours blab blab snooze snooze*. You know it's gonna come if it hasn't already arrived so batten down the hatches Gertrude! But leaving those malcontents aside, ya gotta give credit to Billingsley for acting in one of if not thee best tee-vee series of all time, one that really laid it on the line as far as what the entire mid-Amerigan baby boom fun and games swinging years of the late-fifties/early-sixties (and beyond) were all about. Yes, an era that was so beneficial for each and every one of us that it resonated (at least around these parts) for years on end or at least until the hippie generation grew up and made us all go organic whether we wanted to or not!

So hey, the death of Billingsley does make me feel about as old as Gus the Fireman right now. Perhaps it does because it puts my entire life into a strange focus and crams down my gullet once and for all matter how many episodes of TWILIGHT ZONE or QUICK DRAW McGRAW that I watch, no matter how many old issues of ARCHIE I may dig up from about four decades of flotsam and jetsam collecting, 1962 just ain't gonna come back! And I know some of you are more than willing to see the dark side of the past ("Oh boo hoo, that's when blacks and women and gays were kept in the closet, or something like that I read somewhere sniff blubber!") but I prefer to look at the "positive" side of things. Like that was an era of high energy fun and games when you didn't have to shudder when you turned on the television set because frankly people knew enough not to let the communists anywhere near the media unlike they do now!
MOE TUCKER, VELVET UNDERGROUND DRUMMER, STUNS FANS WITH TEA PARTY SUPPORT! That's what THE HUFFINGTON POST stated, though if you'd really care to know I must admit that this is one fan who is not in the least surprised. After all, Tucker seemed like the straightest member of the Velvets and the yang to Lou Reed's walking zombie of animal instinct yin so come to think of it, wouldn't she be the most likely ex-member of the Velvet Underground to be a Tea Party supporter in her own homespun grandmotherly way?

Of course the entire Huffington Post article is like a huge festering pimple waiting to be squeezed in the way it radiates its message of "how can such a scion of the New Kultur even consider teaming up with such uncouth rednecks anyway?", the argument that always comes about when a rock & roll icon, mainstream or otherwise, somehow rocks the boat with an opine ever-so-slightly contrary to the hotcha mode being laid down by the New Gods on Mount Olympus, or The Huffington Post for that matter. We heard it before thirty years back with Neil Young's and Johnny Ramone's Reagan endorsements which might make a few people totally absorbed in their own cocoons sit up and take notice, but frankly much of this entertainer editorializing whether it be from a rocker (favorite or not) or a comedian who thinks he has the power to make people think with his scathing putdowns of mid-Ameriga makes this observer merely yawn. As for the people who do hang onto their music idols' political pronouncements as if they were being made by seasoned veterans, well, I do wonder how these same people would react after discovering that John Cale's politics are closer to that of Robert Welch's than say, Lou Reed's f'rexample.

Maybe it all boils down to a fervent "so what!" Not that there's anything really wrong with living vicariously through your favorite entertainer's political visions; I should know and hey, it's not like I haven't championed more'n a few people whose politix seem to settle comfy-like with mine (and taken more than a little "heat" about it from people whom I thought were in my camp)...but letting them overcome you to the point where you feel as if you're fighting the good fight side by side with your longtime faves in the trench of your choice is just a little too much fantasizin' on your part. I may think Edgar Breau and Mick Farren to be fantastic rock & roll avengers and maybe I tend to lean a little bit more towards the Breau end of the political spectrum than Farren's, but that ain't gonna get in the way of my appreciating Farren either as a wordsmith or as a vocalist who I'm sure is a nice down-to-earth guy to all who know him. And if you hate the Tea Party so much that you're willing to trash all of your Maureen Tucker albums well maybe you should think of givin' 'em all to me instead. Really, Tucker, or any other musical favorite of mine, would have to do or say something extremely beyond the pale and over the limit before I would even think of dismissing her and her life work, not that she couldn't do just that (but I hope and pray not!).

Not that I'm going out whole hog to endorse this Tea Party movement which sure looked swell when Ron Paul had more or less created it but has since fallen into the hands of a whole buncha republican party wonk wagon jumpers turning it into quite a different beast. (Really, how much derision and ire do you think I would incur if I attended one of the local Tea Party rallies [which I understand were little more than {"ugh!"} prayer services] wearing a Murray Rothbard or Karl Hess t-shirt, that is if the organizers and participants even know who the two were! Plenty I'd say...don't ruin a good pump the rubes with any real clarion calls to freedom, eh?) But to pick on Tucker the way many of the commentators (for what that's worth) have as if she's some above-it-all rich rockstar with no concern for the so-called "little man" is rather irritating to this tortured soul. For the sake of argument Tucker "may" be a little misguided with regards to believing what the Tea Party candidates would do for us, but her concerns seem quite honest and real (and have been throughout both democratic and republican administrations) and hearing her being berated by a band of small-minded hippoids who see Nazis behind every Tea Party gathering is enough to make the blood boil. Her definitely down-to-earth forthrightness and everyworkaday honesty makes me glad that I gave a whole lot of my all to her and her bandmates at a time when I usedta get berated for doing so. Gives me another reason to wake up and look in the mirror, and not much can make me do just that these days y'know?

PS-You might note that I didn't mention the passing of Ari Up with the rest of the recently departed. That's because that I think her deep-sixing had been more than amply covered online 'n for me to add my own two centavos, which wouldn't amount to much anyway considering that I ain't really heard as much Slitscapading as you have. Maybe considering that you expect me to butt into things maybe I shouldn't butt into I should say something about her passing. After all, those early recordings were (at least for me) some of the better musings to pop outta the late-seventies English punk-via-punque scene along with the raves of Wire, the Subway Sect and the Pop Group to name three of the more interesting examples. To the dismay of some of you Slit-haters, I gotta say that the early Slits worked (and continues to work) for me probably for the wrong reasons, because they were creating a pure beyond-the-fringe music thanks to their fortunately limited musical vocab, and for that they might have been thee avant punk saviors of the day roughly akin to all of those late-seventies noisegaugers who were attempting to update 1967 Velvetisms into late-seventies miasma. Well, you wanted to know, didn't you?

*Well almost, since Brad Kohler, via snail mail, just hadda go ruin my day by revealing the contents of a reportage of Miss Billingsley's passing via tee-vee mentioning how Billingsley had such a hard time living up to her June Cleaver image since she was divorced three times, an admonition that was probably written by some women's libber type who was divorced four times until she finally tied the knot with her true soul mate Mabel! And really, I didn't hear anybody putting down Tom Bosley when he passed on even though you could say that HAPPY DAYS registers more in the postmodern mind being more current and all thus avoiding the barbs of the fifties nuclear family haters who control the media. Sheesh, it was almost as bad as the when some simpleton, in an attempt to "bury" Harriet Nelson after her passing, could only manage to dig up the dirt regarding her having smoked cigarettes as if this faux pas was perhaps a crime almost as disgusting as wearing an apron and being a mother! Only shows you that after all these years maybe Archie Bunker was right with his on-target putdowns of libbers and assorted pinkos back in the early-seventies when that rebellion coulda been easily quelled with one swift kick in the pants, eh? I mean, if we had only taken his message to heart we wouldn't have to put up with these simpering bleedhearts who are calling the shots these days, and I believe it deep in my soul!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Well, I finally went and dood what I told you that I was going to dood and stuffed my recent Forced Exposure order with a whole stinkin' slew of Loren Mazzacane Connors disques. Unfortunately most of the ones I had selected weren't in stock (FE has a habit of failing to delete certain items from their online catalog long after they've sold out ne'er to be restocked again) but i did manage to latch onto a few which I gotta admit have brightened up a comparatively dismal autumn lacking in gorgeous high energy wonderment to keep my mind occupied between mulching leaves and "winterizing" the place. Sure is a change in attitude from a good twenny or so years back when I thought this MazzaCane guy was just the latest in a long line of artsy decadents getting hyped by the equally artsy decadent types at your favorite "'zine" in between rants for the latest in amerindie codswallop and oh-so-pertinent political piousness above and beyond the call of Lenin.

It would take a few dozen Meltzers to sift through the 90+ recordings that Connors has released since the seventies and be it far from me to tackle this herculean task. How about if you just settle for these recent acquisitions instead which I think give a good cross section of the entire Connors oeuvre at its varied best. And by best I mean that I was actually able to keep myself glued to the baby boom box through these releases and in one sitting as well, and that's more than I could say for those extremely brittle and irritating Connors sides that Bob Forward sent me awhile back which I thought were way beyond the ken of BTC comprehension to really enjoy (at least during this time in my life when I could use a little more security and comfiness). Though don't be too discouraged Bob, since I get the feeling that I will be spinnin' and slappin' knee to those platters you sent once these recent gobble ups have made their way through my aural intestinal tract and have settled in like a tasty hunk of macaroni and cheese.

Of the batch I find IN TWILIGHT (Alien8) the most engaging, probably because I have already been enamored ot the first of these two tracks when it appeared on Youtube under the title "The Hymn of the North Star" (scroll down, as they say). I find this live rendition to be every bit as elegant and as stark as THE MARBLE INDEX and other music made for the introspective bedroom creep in all of us. The cavernous live sound also helps, giving off the aura that this was recorded in some school gym to an audience of about ten artsy types who clap in approval even though this stuff is about as alien to them as paying taxes or wiping up afterwards. The duo with bassist Matthew Heyner recorded live at NYC's Cooler (presented here as "Part 2") is gloriously cacophonous but part of the "whole" I guess as Connors approaches atonal acid freakrock territory whilst Heyner more or less keeps up with his 3-D John Cale sound slabs. Fans of the Bruce Anderson/Dale Sophiea O-Type and solo recordings would undoubtedly understand the sound shards and distortion extant. An outta-the-way surprise from a man whose backlog of recordings contain a lotta surprises that I'm sure even I haven't thought up yet.

Based on the Hans Christian Andersen weeper, THE LITTLE MATCH GIRL (Road Cone) is one platter that you think would turn me off given the intense subject matter. Actually, no. Connors plays slow and burning intense on the electric here and for all I care this one could be about Dave Lang's cootie infestation 'stead of the soon to be cadaver of a child. At times an Andrew Burnes helps out on guitar while a Neel Murgai handles a daf (think a large tambourine that sounds like a thunder sheet) giving Connors' playing a little added (and perhaps "psychedelic") push. Another interesting feather in the already pluckful cap of the one called MazzaCane.

Forgive me if the Connors Cee-Dee repackages of the albums done in conjunction with vocalist Kath Bloom don't exactly excite me the way they would you, but I just can't abide by what I'm sure the likes of Billy Miller would call hippie mewlings no matter how chic it might be with some of you ex-punks out there. Sheesh, I know that maybe there is some "worth" and "value" to these '84 recordings (RESTLESS FAITHFUL DESPERATE/MOONLIGHT on the Chapter Music/St. Joan imprint) but I'm not quite buying the acoustic blues folk stylings of Connors backing Bloom's post-Joni/Joanie warbles. Hokay, I know that I'm supposed to be a more open-minded fellow or at least everybody is telling me that I should be, and even some of my fave stalwarts like Nick Kent and Peter Laughner were apt to delve deep into these waters many of us would find tepid so I will say this...some nice guitar tweeks here thanks to Connors and at times the emotive nature can be interesting enough, but I get enough fiber in my breakfast cereal without having to hear a femme folkie feel like being a li'l neurotic these days.

But surprisingly enough I really cozied up to THE ENCHANTED FOREST (Secretly Canadian) done in conjunction with a Suzanne Langille whose breathy moans conjure up (aural) visions of Patty Waters on her softer yet intensely tingling numbers. Yet another concept disque of sorts based on the book and movie of the same name, this is one not to be scared away from considering the three strikes against it; subject matter, concept of it being a "concept album" and in a folkie idiom. Frankly the film (starring Edmund Lowe) looks like one of those snoozers that I'd sit through in order to watch the cartoon that would fill the hour out but this one has Connors oozing magnificent is standardly dischordant tones while Langille moans (as opposed to warbles) way deeper and more soothing than Bloom; definitely a better match up of talent. Unlike the Connors/Bloom pairing this isn't Saturday morning at five AM College Radio folkie fodder between the dulcimer twanging froth! And the lyrics for once are enveloping enough to make you wanna know, heck even care what she's singing! (Also hot on the BTC Hit Parade is CRUCIBLE [Black Label, dist. by Forced Exposure] with Langille on occasional warble and Connors playing sublime and nervy making a good soundtrack for one of my bouts with death mirror staring.)

Saturday, October 16, 2010


Only once in a lifetime does a movie like this come about, a piece of cinematic art so bold and provocative that it dares to strip away at the hidebound morality of society and expose the bare truth for what it truly is in bold, uncompromising terms. A film that throws caution to the wind and shows the vacuity of modern day living while valiantly attempting to make the viewer re-examine his own personal values and everything he cherishes in his bourgeois complacency. A film rife with searing symbolism that will make you clench your teeth, fists and sphincter in a fit of pure anger as it drives its message of unbridled contempt for all that you hold near and dear to heart. And if you haven't fallen for all of this late-fifties MAD-inspired hoohah then you know what you're in store for with this particular piece of late-sixties exploito drive-in fodder directed by none other than one of than one of the greats of low-fidelity crankout, namely Al Adamson!

But really folks, I enjoyed SATAN'S SADISTS immensely, and nothing really has affected me like this since Arch Hall Jr.'s THE SADIST, a flicker that was made a good six years before this biker romp was even conceived! And yeah, a comparison between the two will show you just how much cinema had grown since the early-sixties of Hall's own desert murder spree...bloodspills galore and ultra-violent kicks had since entered into the vernacular and Adamson sure puts all of them to use in this top-notch film that makes most of the cycle flicks that have preceded it look like Aunt Petunia's home movies.

Trailer sez this is Russ Tamblyn (best known to you for a string of iffy fifties big budget hits, best known to me for throwing Venetia Stevenson away and into the palms of Don Everly) in his best role since WEST SIDE STORY, but considering how I didn't particularly care for his coolness dancing about like a corn-holed Tommy Tune in that one I'll beg to differ. Maybe HIGH SCHOOL CONFIDENTIAL (never saw THE FEMALE BUNCH, Tamblyn's previous effort also directed by Adamson), but arguments aside he is surprisingly potent here playing Anchor, the amoral leader of a psychotic California biker gang called the Satans. Besides raping and murdering the denizens of a lone cafe, this mottled bunch are on the hunt through the desert for the lone survivors of the conquest, an ex-Marine (and expert in the art of survival) and a cutesy waitress who are the only things keeping Anchor from avoiding the electric chair. The rest of the gang's pretty decadent in themselves from the one-eyed nutso to the acid freak and especially the Mohawked half-Indian who eventually gives Anchor a run for the money himself. Regina Carroll ("the future Mrs. Adamson") as Gina the biker mama stands out and I'm not just talking about in the tit department either since her entire aura is bound to have any red-blooded male audience revel in chants of hoo-hah!

But I don't wanna get ahead of myself (or give away too much of the plot and reveal such goodies as the stew scene or death by drowning via toilet bowl), but this fowl band remind me of those bikers you used to see on late-sixties sitcoms and variety shows like RED SKELTON back when the older generation wanted to dig their claws deep into the wild youth of the day (this is before the media became all uber-liberal and started heaping praise upon the youth freaks for all purposes hiding their evil intent), only you didn't see blood dribbling from eyes or brutal murders being laid upon Clem Kadiddlehopper now, didja? Really, Dr. Fredric Wertham shoulda been made to watch this movie CLOCKWORK ORANGE style to atone for all of his goody-two-shoes patronizing anti-violence moralistic bushwah that he inflicted on us for years on end!

Great cheap ambiance like THE SADIST too only magnified a few times with some curse words and sexy slop tossed in for those at the drive ins who came alone, if you know what I mean. The late-sixties California feeling and mountainous desert setting helps a lot as does the soundtrack music which, while not exactly in the scope of what this blog usually champions, adds to the 1969 feeling for those of you who might still have nostalgic pangs for that year. But in all this does not remind me that much of '69 (a year when I was more concerned with studying the evolution of comic strip style changes as well as late-fifties reruns) but the mid-seventies when films such as this, usually edited heavily, began making their way onto the weekend afternoon slot on your favorite local UHF station in those pre-infomercial days.

And what's really cool about SATAN'S SADISTS is that the low-budget and at times obvious editing errors and shortcuts make this all the better, in fact vastly improve on the overall grunge and grease than had this been a major studio affair. Fans of American International pictures wouldn't mind giving this one an eyeballing especially if they had been hotcha on the late-sixties/early-seventies biker flick trend that seemed to hit its peak with EASY RIDER.

In case you care, here's the trailer---betcha wanna watch this movie right now, eh?:

Well, actually you can because the entire shebang is now online and ripe for viewing!!! Don't say I don't do anything crucial for you:

GERMAN OAK CD (Flashback)

Gotta admit that a lot of the self-issued krautrock albums that had sprung up in the early-seventies really aren't as up to snuff as one woulda thought given the reams of Can and Amon Duuls to swipe ideas from. More than a few of these disques (recently reissued for the Cee-Dee generation) aren't worth the $15+ many an avid fan is more than willing to dish out. There are a few exceptions...Siloah and Ainigma amongst 'em, but for every one of those there must be a dozen or so Doms (not the Josef Vondruska group!) lurking about. You gotta be careful these days, especially with dealers touting such-and-such as being a real top flight kraut garage rocker which turns out to be about as punky as Joys of Cooking!

Being from Dusseldorf I was hoping that German Oak would have had some of that Neu! feel. At least the beat is Motorik, but not much else. And having been turned off by their collection of outtakes (some of which I believe also appear here as "bonus tracks") I wondered why in fact I ordered this in the first place. Pure desperation is why.

Actually some of this does stimulate. Opening and closing the LP proper are a few interesting organ-laden instrumental passages which sound total Kongress. Kongress enough to the point where I could see Geofrey Crozier doing his magick to this dark drone on the stage of Max's Kansas City. The rest sounds rather noodling, not offensive in any way, but leaden and not going anywhere. Of the bonus cuts there's more of the same, one with Hitler speeches which didn't work for John Fahey and don't work here, and another with some especially distorted organ which I could have used more of. Nice effort, but overall lacking the important elements that made things like EGE BAMYASI so good that even English critics like Ian MacDonald were calling Can the logical followup to the late-sixties Velvets/Detroit upheaval.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Druids of Stonehenge-CREATION CD (Axis)

This 'un never did make as big an impression on me as it did with many of the garage-band aficionados who were scouring BOMP catalogs and flea markets (good luck!) back in the mid-eighties. Perhaps my basing judgement upon it via a very thin-sounding pirate copy (obtained via Midnight, not exactly the most reliable mailorder company out there) wasn't quite the best way to judge this oft-talked about platter originally released on the pre-MCA Uni, home of Neil Diamond, Elton John and the Lollipop Shoppe! So hey, why not give 'em another go via this brand new Cee-Dee reissue? I mean, nothing much else going on these days.

Richard Goldstein, the "original" and comparatively (at least next to the Masters) nebbish rock critic for THE VILLAGE VOICE back in the sixties described these guys as being a cross twixt the early Stones and early Dead. He might have a point, as the Druids, from their faux Jagger lead singer to the blues-unto-whitey musical backing, does tend to "borrow" from both the Stones and San Fran Clan. But still there is something quite stark, perhaps toned down about this group that veers far away from both sources. At times it works in their favor as it does on their covers of "I Put a Spell on You" and "Signed DC" which display a nice introspective view custom made for girls who collect autumn leaves and paste them in their scrapbooks. And the slow-burn intensity also helps tough-guy rockers who look upon the entire oeuvre of rock in a totally different fashion. Let's just say that CREATION has this great devil-may-care New York attitude that really wouldn't come to fruition for another seven or so years mixed with the baroque/classical stylings that were coming into fashion back when folks thought kids were listening to this stuff to razz the older generation!

Anyway for the more adventurous amongst you here's part one of the Druids' appearance on THE JOE FRANKLIN SHOW from way back when (embedding for part two has been disabled though the video below might provide a direct link anyhoo). Kinda neet seeing the old fanabla himself introducing this legendary under-the-counter band who probably had to endure Franklin's schmoozing up to all of those old time entertainment personalities...whatever, this is GREAT STUFF which only goes to show you just how weird-y timewarped the late-sixties were with the energies of the 20s/30s/40s stormfronting with the long haired creeps of the day, and for a guy who was a kiddie when this stuff was happening all I gotta say is yeah, the late-sixties were kinda like living in the twenties, if tee-vee and rock & roll were around then, that is!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Some quickies to keep you until the next quickies (or quickie) in a few days. 's not like there's not much goin' on 'round here now, but let's just say that I've been biding my time playin' and readin' lotsa old stuff that I've either previously mentioned on the blog or is just too obvious to be mentioned (which come to think of it never stopped me before) so why should I bother boring you even more with my patented repetition (something that is loathe to many a blogwatcher out there...unless said watcher is wallowing in his own form of acceptable repitition as a gander at a Jay Hinman blog will tell you)? Some current replays include the John Cale/Terry Riley classic CHURCH OF ANTHRAX, the three-disque reissue of the WILDFLOWERS loft jazz sessions held at Sam Rivers' Studio Rivbea and the ever-lovin' EGE BAMYASI as well as Sandy Bull's STILL ST. VALENTINE'S DAY, all of which are keeping me company better'n any of you duds out there could ever hope to. I think that I just might get the opportunity to whip up enough inspiration to break outta doin' these overblown reviews for once, but until then you're stuck with this dross! And true, I know some of you readers might find it of worth but hey, I've given up on second-guessing you reg'lars long ago!

Paul Bley-LIVE AT THE HILLCREST CLUB 1958 LP (Inner City)

Do any of you serious BTC readers remember when this particular platter briefly snuggled its way into the record bins during the latter days of 1976? If you do then you certainly must have a good memory because not too soon after LIVE AT THE HILLCREST got into the shops none other than Ornette Coleman called his legal eagles who in turn had it ripped off the market faster than you can say "klactoveesedstene". Dunno why, though if in fact this was being pushed as a Coleman album despite it being a Paul Bley gig (as I understood it was) then maybe that might have had something to do with it. Though for all intent purposes I somehow suspect the reason behind this legal chicanery probably had more to do with moolah than with aesthetics.

Years later the entire Hillcrest set has been reissued on Cee-Dee (and under Coleman's name!), but for years this 'un along with that Arista/Freedom LIVE IN LONDON double-LP set seemed to last within the flap on an eyelid out there in music listening land. Well, at least I got this original Inner City version which I kinda like, if only because I used to think that Inner City along with Muse was one of the better outta-nowhere labels that were (re)issuing a lotta rare and hardly-ever-heard avant garde jazz as if Anthony Braxton solo saxophone recordings were going to sell as briskly as Return to Forever.

Not surprisingly this live set does take on the lilt of Coleman ca. '59 right about the time he was about to burst onto the jazz scene like a festering ball o' pus. That would figure since the group he's playing with (Cherry/Haden/Higgins) is the same he made all of those legendary quartet platters with after Atlantic had the good sense to scoop him up. Sound's surprisingly good enough even if it's a little out of kilter, but that's to be expected considering how this was just a mere "audience" recording, that is if you consider how Bley's soon to be ex Carly was manipulating the reel-to-reel from beneath hubby's piano.

One side of covers (including Charlie Parker's "Klactoveesedstene"...why else the reference above?) and the other two Coleman originals which even at that early stage show just why more than a few more "traditional" minded jazz aficionados would've been willing to stand in line to punch the guy in the kisser! But in all, this sure is a pretty exploratory idea of things that were just about to pop out all over the sphere with that great snat ambiance (kinda like the kind you got on Cecil Taylor's NEFERTITI double set recorded a few years later) and a performance that ignites no matter who is supposed to be leading the set!

After reading those fantastic early Bob Montana strips you'd probably wonder why I'd even bother going near this collection of mid-sixties "camped-up" Archie-as-superhero comics. Yeah I kinda wonder to, since (to sum it up for you lazyass types who won't even click a highlighted link to be taken to a specific article in question) the comic strip was vastly superior to the comic book which suffered from too many inferior artists who did their worst to capture Montana's style as well as sub-sputum writers who seemed to cut and paste their efforts with excerpts from old THIS IS THE LIFE scripts. But hey, I was feeling no pain so I decided to latch onto this collection just for the halibut figuring that maybe they would make some nice fresh evening reading to accompany some Czech underground rock that just happened to make its way to my abode (Archie Andrews and Josef Vondruska...whatta combination!).

Actually I find the entire presentation...middling if good honest fun, more often than not a reminder of what might have turned up in a Sunday afternoon's worth of flea market/garage sale hopping circa 1972 rather than what you WANTED to turn up but the pickings were mighty slim that day. These sagas with Archie, Jughead, Betty and Reggie as superheroes do have their own special kicks and of course the pre-planned Archie Comics Group corniness, but as can be expected at times the humor seems stalled somewhere down the line with story twists devolving into downright ginchiness or even "social significance" (see "The Quest of Dr. Detest", an early foray into wishy-washy relevance). Artwork ain't that up to snuff either even if most of it was delineated by Bill Vigoda (who was doing Archie since the beginning alongside Montana), and unfortunately one of the better stories of the genre featuring Betty as Superteen trying to discover who the big brain of the evil empire is (finding out that each brain is subject to an ever bigger one) is missing! But I like it feeble attempts at superhero cash in craze and all, and of course you could do much worse with regards to your comic book intake especially in these days where we're drifting away from those once-hallowed Golden/Silver Age ideals at a rapidly increasing pace.
You're probably wondering why the Vondruska namedop two paragraphs above, right???? Well, that's only because the double disc retrospective of his work with both Umela Hmota III and Dom has finally been issued to an ever-rabid Czech proto-punk rock community, but don't expect any review of that in THESE pages. Reason why is that my writeup is actually slated to appear in the next issue of UGLY THINGS, a short (s'posed to be 300 words but I think I snuck a few extra in) effort but sweet enough to convey my feelings to you the reader. And for the sake of Vondruska, I'm sure a few thousand more people will be aware of it via that magazine 'stead of this blog. If it gets bumped for whatever reason I'll just wing another one atcha, but for now let's just say yes, it is good!
Once again, Gavin McInnes had me rolling in the aisles with an overall critique of what exactly is wrong with you. Please, I do hope you are offended.
Here's one to hit the trail with...Low Society and Avant Duel (Von LMO and Otto von Ruggins) live at the recent Max's Kansas City night that was held at NYC hotspot Otto's Shrunken Head. It sure is surprising, perhaps unbelievable on one level that the two are even alive, let alone functioning in the here and now but they are and I am glad. Kinda makes me wonder what Jay and Dave will be doing when they hit the ages of these stellar talents, eh? Probably more concerned with their latest dole check or portfolio to care about the wild, throbbing tones of rock, right? (I 'll letcha guys know what I'm up to since I obv. got a good head start on the the two of 'em, but I got the feeling that if I'm not six feet under or dribbling in some rest home I'll still be kicking out the jams with the best of 'em! And why not?):

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Cruel, Cruel Moon-STILL LIFE CD (Moonbase, available through CD Baby)

Hokay this one is way way beyond my self-imposed cutoff date since it was recorded LONG after the original thrust of "amerindie" Velvet impulse had been transformed into bedroom mewl (1996 to be exact), And I know that 99.999% of you already knew, cared, and filed this away so why bother reviewing the thing in the first place, savvy? But given the various raves from respected rockscreeders as well as some interesting names both in and behind the group I thought it would be better to snatch this one up rather'n dish out many a buck for some other nineties/oh-oh's flash and burn to the ground attempt at changing late-sixties bare-wire intensity into cheerful chipmunk patter. And besides, not only am I crawling the walls for some new hot drone fix but that issue of CLE sent to me by one Serena WilliamS Burroughs a few weeks back had an article on 'em and hey, it made Cruel, Cruel Moon out to be a better bet on the Cee-Dee market than most of those outta nowhere Velvets wannabes that also offer their wares via CD Baby (where I got this). So like maybe it ain't time to play like the stingy Scotsman and actually plunk down some hard-begged for once, right?

This 'un has an impressive cast including Tim Gilbride on guitar (a name that should have stuck with some of you eighties Northeast Ohio followers of the form) as well as some other worthies including most notably Caroyln Getson, the only femme in the outfit who besides playing regular and bass guitars does some warbling in this down-to-earth yet detached voice that made last night's repeated listenings all the more creepy. Let's just say that in this day and age (just like every other day and age) 'tis wimmin like Getson who do more for the cause of women than all of those yammering up-from-bondage types because she puts her talent and abilities on the line w/o succumbing to Favorite Feminist Cliche #____ kinda like Jeanne d'Arc also did, and come to think of it have the libbers ever taken her to heart like you think they shoulda???

On the first spin, at least a good ten minutes into it, STILL LIFE might remind one of the standard 80s/90s/Oh-Oh's "Amerindie" fodder, some of which I will admit was palatable on one spin but paled greatly next to the original post-Velvets influential influx from roughly 1967 until 1981 when Max's Kansas City's closure sealed the end of a valiant era in underground rock. (Lester Bangs' death a few months later was the tombstone, an analogy that I think pretty much sums up the pangs of lost energy I was feeling at the time.) However even a cursory play will show you there was much more to the entire CCM dna than the mere stealing of past innovations for a mind-dead present. The specter of, as one example, Syd Barrett looms heavy at times while hints of late-sixties SoCal garage rock (about the time it was mutating into punk) can also be felt even if ever so slightly. The deadpan vocals of Getson (as well as her male counterpart Craig Martin) are also a big bonus point and fit in well with the entire pithiness of CCM's wry observations of Kent Ohio living at its best (and don't tell me that the old lady depicted in the bril "Zirconium Ring" just ain't the spittin' image of your own spinster aunt or some other relative that you automatically associate with suburban ranch house 1962 UHF television living who's still alive and kicking a good 48 years later?). And hey, even the "avant garage" of "Flood" does happen to harken back to the late-seventies experimental madness of the Cleveland (and I assume Akron/Kent) underground when Velvets pulse (back when it was still derived from the early VU Wild Boys music that continues to shudder) still had a vital meaning left for all of us. Makes me really hunger for more, especially the Harlan and the Whips album that better come out soon lest I wither away in a ball of frazzled nerves.

Other smart ref. pts. include some of the better late-seventies/early-eighties Rough Trade-inspired acts (I am loathe to use the defeatist term "post punk" anymore) to Television and perhaps the entire Mirrors/Styrenes axis, which I guess shows you just how much the beneficial past means to this group even if they do tend to heap on some of the angst and confusion that overtook underground rock sometime in the eighties.

Are these guys (and gal) still operating in one fashion or another this late in the post-fun and games era? A well-wisher actually pecked out "long may they run" back when this platter was originally unleashed but I do have the feeling that CCM have long left the "scene" just like every other act of worth in this area and others, only to be replaced by some pale remnant of what used to be considered hi-energy rock but now just flutters about like a recently hatched butterfly. Perhaps CCM are one of those on/off aggregations that occasionally unsheath before going into hiding for a good decade or so only to surprise a gaggle of friends and family without prior notice. But at least we have this disque which, although it might last on the lasar launching pad about as long as many of the good yet not 100% devoted VU-treads of the past twenty years have (and that ain't long), still manages to make me sit up and take notice. If even for a good week or so which in these jaded times is really saying something in a positive, life-reaffirming way and in my own smug complacency I am proud.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

I suppose that I could start this post off rattling about a wild wonderful world of subjects ranging from the political scene to a number of current societal affairs, but I won't. Don't feel like it. Let's just say that it's a combination of over-work and under-fun that's tending to do me in right at this time. Hell, I can't even come up with any snide Dave Lang or Jay Hinman putdowns to sneak into the text, and given the rich subject matter I really must be a nerve-frazzled ends. Anyway, at this point in time politics bores and just seems like an updated battle between the Cavaliers and the Roundheads seeing who gets control of England with me hoping that both sides will lose. There will be no such luck, but I don't mind watching these sworn enemies in the current political divide bashing each other's brains out. But really, as Sam Francis said long ago it's just a contest between the evils and the stupids which only goes to show you the lack or real choice is given to us despite the people who offer up such dross claiming to be open to choices of all types and on all fronts as well.

Very little that stands part and parcel to 2010 is in fact engaging to me, kinda making me feel like one of those aged people I remember from my childhood who were born in the late nineteenth century either trying to make sense outta hippies, or better yet still living in their old worlds situated with their old homes and old friends thankfully oblivious to the turmoil that has become life. And yes, I was really shocked to read in the latest UGLY THINGS that Greg Prevost watches and loves the television series LOST just as much as you were. Sheesh, I didn't think that the guy liked anything broadcast after 1967 let alone in color. Sometimes I find it hard to watch movies made after 1929 which really must show you how far outta the "loop" I (thankfully) am.

Since I've pretty much read and re-read all of those comic-strip anthologies reviewed o'er the past few weeks to the point of blindness I've been turning to my old fanzines for late-evening comfort. It's always stimulating reading some REAL rock writings (as opposed to the sawdust passing for such seen in newspapers and blogs to this day) whether they came from the IBM Selectric of either Meltzer or perhaps some sadly relatively unknowns as Mark Jenkins or Jymn Parrett, but I gotta say that pouring over these 'zines only makes me feel more inadequate since my own "stylings" will never even come near the pinnacles the likes of these have reached well over 35 years back. It's funny, but people like Meltzer and all of those aforementioned fanzine greats are what originally gotten me into thinking that I could strut on their turf (of course I thought this way back when I was young and perhaps not as inhibited regarding making a fool of myself in public as I am now) but in all that time I couldn't even reach the levels of a standard crudzine writer let alone put forth something with the proper energy and conviction the likes of a say, Don Waller could. Hell, maybe in another thirty-five...

And (in order to really make your day about as miserable as mine) I just discovered that none other than Chuck Eddy has his own blog via BLURT magazine (which I have never gazed eyes upon, but given this revelation I wouldn't have too much hope for it). And if that isn't good enough reason to cast oneself into the ocean millstone and all. At least this BLURThing offers us a blog courtesy none other than the aforementioned Jenkins which I know will lead to hours of reading pleasure (actually minutes since there ain't many entries, all of which are over a year old) as well as the revelation of a few ideas which I can swipe and claim as my own! I've naturally linked that one up on the left-hand side along with all of the other blogs of importance, though you will have to scroll down to the very end of the list to find my link-up because for some reason blogger does not "recognize" the BLURT-blogs as being the legitimate, real thing! Sheesh, the things we have to go through in the name of science.

Not as much fodder for you this time as I would have liked. Managed to scrape the following two writeups together under less-than-stellar conditions (TRANSLATION: during work when the boss wasn't looking) and I hope you'll find something worthwhile in 'em at least to the point where someone might get a cheap laff outta this at my expense. As for me, I think I coulda done better but I guess that the general toll o' life is really wreaking havoc on my nervous system (and I haven't told you half of what is going on here at BTC-central, some of it which might even nauseate the most cast iron of constitutions). But enough of this self-pity which worked wonders for the Music Machine but not me, and onto the reviews!

ELEPHANT'S MEMORY CD (Collector's Choice/BMG)

Given how all umportant Elephant's Memory were with regards to the the Beatle canon (above that of David Peel and Brute Force even!) it's a huge honkin' surprise that so little of their recorded output is available in the here and now. Of course if you really wanna you can dish out into the double-digits for an original release but hey, wouldn't you think this group'd be worthy of a little better treatment considering how they had made quite a name for themselves long before Jerry Rubin turned Lennon onto 'em? But no, the vast majority of their quarry remains out of reach which I must admit frustrates an ever-hingerin' fellow like myself, and hey before I clock out I don't think it would be bad for me to spin their entire recorded output at least once just so's I could conquer another Herculean feat in my music listening life!

I must admit that I was surprised to find this particular platter available in the Cee-Dee age considering how the Metromedia and Apple discs are nowhere to be found digital-wise. I was inspired to buy the thing after spotting a copy of the original languishing at the Burton Ohio Antique Show last Saturday ("What a hunch!" as George Givot would say!) and to tell the truth my choice of purchase was rather inspired. Not that ELEPHANT'S MEMORY is an all-out topper...after all the protruding brass does conjure up memories of the rest of the late-sixties horn rock brigades...but at least it is done snattily and original-like amidst the usual hippoid pratfalls that have destroyed many tons of vinyl back in them times.

Unfortunately this reish doesn't reprint the informative gatefold notes and in fact NO credits whatsoever appear anywhere, but whoever the chick singer in the group is she seems to be doing the Janis thing only a bit better, while the horns (which sound electrified, or at least the trombone was) don't always dredge up memories of the days when BS&T and Chicago ruled the roost. In fact at times they even stretch out a little doing the avant garde thing w/o reminding one of the usual hippie token nod to free jazz that did rear its ugly head back then. Of course this album can also get kinda annoying at times like it does on "Yogurt Song" but at least the shimmering Philip Glass-like ambience of "Old Man Willow" does make for a pleasant diversion proving that maybe Elephant's Memory were somehow beyond their image as a stock hippie aggregate that backed up one of the bigger hasbeens of the early 1970's.

Funny how an album (and band) like this got lost in the late-sixties shuffle even thought they did pop up on the MIDNIGHT COWBOY soundtrack. And who knows, maybe there will be a tide of Elephant's Memory spinners coming atcha in the near future and perhaps that unreleased tenth-anniversary album recorded live at CBGB will finally see the light of day as well. It all would be welcome, at least into my own personal collection. But whatever, if that album on Muse which was nothing but schmoozy serious lite jazz remains deader'n a doornail that would suit me fine. I mean, what a waste of time, energy and ear-power that soft laid-back tuxedo and martoonies offering was especially in light of the high energy that these guys once exuded!
Musica Elettronica Viva-LEAVE THE CITY CD (Spalax France)

Gotta admit that I didn't like the MEV side of that Mainstream LP they shared with AMM, and that's only reason I didn't snatch this particular platter when it hit the cutout section of Musicland in '79. A shame too, because during those very late seventies I was pretty much gobbling up any shard of avant garde awareness I could get my mealy hands on and, considering this stuff wasn't just popping up atcha faster than disco-remixes of "Miss You" I hadda settle for just about everything that did come my way no matter how fruity fruity or cutesy wootsey it may have been. Well, on that NEW MUSIC IMPROVISED album I did manage to find in the cassette bin of all places MEV came off like a total douse despite the presence of such stellar players as Richard Teitelbaum and Fredric Rzewski (who I'll bet is still trying to justify ways to explain his Marxist philosophy to the eager beavers at DOWN BEAT, if he's still alive that is!) and it wasn't like I was actually that anxious to toss any more kopeks their way especially since I'm sure they were all sucking off some government teat, altrustic radicals they must surely be.

Well, a good thirty years hindsight still doesn't do a hill of beans for me but this MEV platter is a whole lot better'n that standard slab of electronic gunch that I lent ear to way back when. For one thing the performers here ain't of the Eyetalian MEV group...methinks they're merely a French contingent who somehow snagged the name for this release since the monikers here don't quite jibe with the ones I remember from the "original" bunch. Secondly, much of this release ain't electronic but acoustic in nature with clanging percussion, acoustic guitar and sounds that could have been made from the depths of your bowels as well as from an electronic music device. Thirdly there's the appearance of a "Nora Howard" on the second track (side two in analog terminology) which makes me wonder if in fact this is a mis-print and that the famed avant tenorist Noah Howard appears as a special surprise guest, something which would really boost LEAVE THE CITY's property value in my collection if true.

Musically 'tis a better trip than a buncha studious, serious performers attempting to make random electronic bleeps inspired by the toss on an I-Ching while suckering ever-curious teenagers that this was the new and inspired way. Lotsa ethereal chanting and percussive clanks appear with some strange electronic whirrs here and there, with loads of strange voices speaking in European tongues appearing elsewhere and who-knows-what within the grooves or whatever Cee-Dee's have (slipping into some late-eighties luddisms here) just oozing all over the place! And it all ends with this solo acoustic folk guitar kinda thing that sounds suspiciously close to the outsider folk being touted amongst former punx who just have to prove that they've outgrown their no-chord youths with such freakdom. Very European in approach, and I'm positive that those of you who were weaned on everything from Amon Duul I & II as well as Cromagnon would be pleased as punch to own such a recording as this. Just don't let the faux medieval snap on the back fool you into thinking this is some hippie throwback to the Golden Age of Body Odor.