Saturday, April 30, 2011

I it me, or is it life?. I'm talking about the way it seems as if everything that is part 'n' parcel to my existence has come to a practical standstill, with a dramatic drop off of blog traffic to correspondence to whatever there is out there that's designed to stimulate the back brain here in what we'll call one of the most letdown centuries since the enlightenment. As you can plainly see, the spirit hasn't moved me so once again you're getting yet another half-there piddling post that really ain't anything for me to stand up and be proud of. Not that it wasn't expected because, frankly, there's hardly ANYTHING of a grand and glorious design happening these days that makes life worth living in a Bishop Sheen sorta way...y'know, where I can wake up with a smile on my face just rarin' to pour through a heapin' hunkin' pile of energetic recordings and fanzines guaranteed to me me the complete man...but as usual I'll have to make do with what I can even though that can get to be a drag when you're as A.D.D. as I am.

Let's face it, the original hard-edge rock und roll movement birthed in the fifties that flourished through the sixties and seventies is nothing but a cheap nostalgic memory (hey Greg Shaw, it never did come back and come to think of it neither will you!), while even the archival dig-ups seem to be a twice or thrice throb thrill happening per 365 earthspins. And sure, this probably means nada to you but for a guy like myself who spent my teenage years absorbing whatever gulcheral happening that was available for me to osmose (and who tried to milk whatever I could out of music as a means of escaping from the tedium of the day) let's just say that I am not exactly as happy a camper as I would like to be. It's come to the point where I have to give a try to various seventies schlub acts I never thought I would give the time of day to in my entire life only because certain people I trust like Eddie Flowers and Nick Kent have championed 'em and like, given the lack of stimulation on anyone's part I've got to grasp for whatever straws there are within my reach! That's how hard up I've become these past few years, and in the sage words of Quick Draw McGraw don't you forget it!

Now, it's not like I'm that desperate that I'm going to trek down to the neared Cee-Dee supermarket to latch onto a copy of Joni Mitchell's I'M PISSING ON SUMMER LAWNS or whatever it's called just because Kent thinks so highly of the human chipmunk, but if you see a review of it on this blog within the next few months if not years don't be too surprised.

And yeah, I know I touched on this very fact last post and if the mere fact that I actually bought a Little Feat disque isn't proof enough of my desperate nature I don't know what is! But sheesh, I really do need some fresh juice-flowing music in my life and if I can't get it the normal way I guess I do have to go elsewhere, no matter how much of a stretch I have to take from my own personal values to do so. And while I'm at it, I sure could use the latest issue of UGLY THINGS, which has managed to slip right by me for reason unknown to everybody 'cept maybe Mike Stax himself and which I know will help clear up the perennial fog in my bean and make me think more like a human once again...

(Right here is where the world's tiniest mouse comes in to play "My Heart Bleeds For You" on the world's tiniest violin. Sheesh, don't you readers have any feelings?)

Well, at least there's one "newie" out there to help lift me out of my mid-Spring ennui and make me feel like a maladjusted 20-year-old again. And frankly if it weren't for a recent HOUND BLOG post I probably would have passed up on this collection of oft-neglected Merseyside musings from the all femme Liverbirds even though this is the kind of music that keeps a blogschpieler like myself going for quite a long time. But after years of pondering I finally got hold of this probably about as complete as it's gonna get collection, and let's just say that it's the surprise of the season and a pretty good one that sorta matches the spring-like sunniness that I often associate with various other recordings that entered into my life during the onset of warm weather and a more positive attitude towards life. Like with the Velvet Underground and Mothers of Invention during 1976, the Flamin' Groovies in '78, the Modern Lovers in '79, or the Television Personalities in ' that seemed to reflect the clear outlook of summertime fun and games as well as some sorta misguided hope that things were gonna get better because well...they just hadda...

But enough rheumy reminiscence...getting back to the main thrust of this piece I gotta admit that it's OBVIOUS that the Liverbirds are just the perfect group for my springtime frolics not only because they're such a darn good, primitive band but because they happen to all be females yet don't play themselves up either as tits 'n ass merchants or dyko feminist bruisers! These misses just plow through their repertoire of Diddley/Berry-riffed numbers and do it in one of the most kinetic ways you can imagine. You could call it punk rock in the classic 1974 BOMP sense and you'd be right...the closest thing I can compare it to would be the Downliners Sect who did a similar r 'n' b styled music that mixed the raw grittiness of fifties rock with what many thought was plain incompetence, but there was an attitude and swivel to it all that really appealed to maladjusted midclass wonks such as myself who needed a little refrain from the music once known as rock that sounded more like the byproduct of a massive, mechanical and cyborg eighties music scene.

With 29 tracks there's just gotta be something for just about everybody with the gumption to tune into this blog, ranging from the familiar cover fodder (some which, as they say, will surprise you!) to a few cantcha believe it sorta things like Johnny Thunder's "Loop de Loop" and the Everly Brothers' "Love Hurts" (which naturally makes the Nazareth hit take sound like even more sore squeals for "classic rock" inbreds). And it all comes off like what you woulda expected from an all-gal band with a halfway-there handle on their gear just cranking out a nice bleat for a buncha local drunkards and other malcontents at the Star Club, a place which thought so much of the 'birds that they gave 'em a recording contract from whence two longplayers and a hefty portion of these tracks derive.

As usual the enclosed booklet is a big help, especially for a doof like myself who was fed a lotta misinformation about the Liverbirds o'er the years. Well, I'm glad that the rumors were cleared up but still the line I was handed sure sounded a lot better, like the story about how these gals were really from London despite their name and how they used to perform wearing their Catholic schoolgal uniforms onstage, or better yet how they actually dated the Downliners Sect who taught them how to play their gear before the 'birds unceremoniously dumped 'em! The final bit of folly does seem real enough considering the similarities between the two acts, but finding out that the 'birds actually were from Liverpool and probably never even came in close contact with the Sect does put quite a damper on things! Proves once again that fiction IS stranger than truth! I sure coulda used the story mentioned by Hans-Jurgen Klitsch in GORILLA BEAT about the time he saw an army of mad krauts swarm the Star Club stage as the gals were playing but hey, I guess we couldn't have everything!
Stew Lane and the Untouchables-HARDER THAN WAX 2-CD set (International Records, available through CD Baby)

As you know, I'm so interested in the New York underground rock scene of the seventies (and even onward to an extent) that I'd give your left kajoobie to hear just about anything that came out of that scene no matter how obscure or potentially coma-inducing said group might have been. Yeah, I know that not every act that traipsed upon the stages of CB's 'n Max's was exactly a winner, but for every ten or so Movies that were gigging about back then there might have been at least one or two Mansters or TV Toys, so I find it worthwhile to take chances whenever I can to give a listen to any obscurity whose recordings might make their way to my door. Besides, given the hard time finding anything high energy worthy to listen to these days I better do about as much grabbing for whatever is out there! I can't afford to miss out on anything that might get the exhumation treatment, that's how low the jamz have been for quite some time and yeah I know shut up and get on to the review we're tired of hearing your crybaby bleat I hear ya say!

Stew Lane and the Untouchables were but one of the thousands of groups who made up a rather diverse music scene in New York, and for some reason this particular album avoided my scope back when it was unleashed sometime in the v. early eighties. As it was, Lane and his Untouchables were a rather OK under-the-covers NYC group...nothing special and kinda new wave-y in that gotta slip some rap into our set kinda way, but the use of swank and style in their act gives 'em the impression of being a lighter weight Roxy Music sorta group. This is something I definitely would have loathed at the time but seems halfway decent in retrospect only because what we've had to put up with in the meanwhile makes this sound like "Sister Ray". Two additional tracks recorded live at CBGB sweeten the pot a bit, as does an additional disque with even more CB's era numbers of varying quality. Not really a bad package if I do say so myself, but if I find myself listening to this before I'm carted off to face the Death Panel it'll only be due to extreme boredom.
IT'S A FANZINE #51 (what else but a fanzine, published by Gene Kehoe, 2265 Byron Ave., Waterloo, IA 50702)

Well, even if the latest UGLY THINGS has yet to grace my boudoir at least there's another long-lived, and long-lasting fanzine out there to satisfy my under-the-gulcher cravings for rare and hardly-ever-disseminated information even in these computer-laden times. And although the comic book world ain't exactly anything that lights up my prune-y butt the way high energy rock does at least a mag like IT'S A FANZINE conjures up hefty memories of adolescent comic rack scouring and other forms of youthful activity. It might have kept this kiddoe off the streets and out of trouble, but it also kept him locked indoors where he could get into a whole lot more trouble'n had he been hanging out with the usual neighborhood miscreants!

You might recall an entire post I did on this fanzine almost a year ago...well here's the latest and as I woulda expected editor Gene Kehoe's kept up the same high standards of fanzine excellence that the previous fifty ishes have laid down for us ever since the first 'un crept outta the cranial compound of his mind way back in '80. And in an age where rock fanzines have either capitulated or take on a professional glossy look that somehow belies the ideal of rock as gritty, garage-laden music, at least IT'S A FANZINE looks and reads like a fanzine used to, and perhaps always should. And this late in the game I gotta be thankful for small favors such as this which keeps me connected with a past that might nor have been totally rapturous, but at least it produced gut-level hard-hitting fanzine-oriented reads that I really do miss lo these many years.

This one's got 44 pages filled with all sorts of interesting comic fan-oriented gunch ranging from a review of the Legion of Superheroes saga in ADVENTURE comics circa '67 where Ferro Lad kicks the bucket in the course of performing the usual heroic duties expected of a Superboy (one of the first of the "no big loss" comic hero deaths long before the big losses started piling up) to a reprint of a pre-Simmons Gene Klein anti-MMMS article from WEB SPINNER #2 in 1965 back when he felt it was an extreme ripoff joining this Marvel Comics fanclub for the then-exorbitant price of a buck! (Funny thing is that now he's so filthy rich that he could afford to pay the way for just about every orphan in this blasted nation!) Comic fanzine cover galleries and esoterica columns also appear, the latter dishing out some newsoids that I never thought about before and probably never will think about again (such as the two Alfred E. Neuman facsimiles that appeared in mid-sixties DC comics!) and that coupled with a great fannish outlook and excellent printing spells out something that's gonna occupy my evening hours for more'n one night I'll tell ya!

Perhaps thee item in this issue that made me do a double take was the reprinting of a pre-SPIDER-MAN Steve Ditko saga from a '59 issue of the soon-to-be defunct Marvel title STRANGE WORLDS. Not that there's anything weird enough about one of the many stories that Ditko was drawing from Stan Lee's scripts during these formative years which helped define the Marvel Age of Comics, but given some of Ditko's own, er, personal (some may say "peculiar", but I won't) beliefs this story must be one that the guy still has a hard time living down. Even casual fans know about Ditko's adherence to an Objectivist/libertarian sense-of-being and how he eventually rejected drawing stories featuring alternative universes/dimensions because he only believes in what he can see, feel and reason with, but at one time that certainly was not the case as today's case-in-point "I Couldn't Stop The Runaway Comet" not-so-subtly proves! Y'see, in this saga which takes place a good 49 years from now, scientist Victor Sage runs for the office of Earth's president and all is fine and well until it is discovered that a massive comet is ready to head smack dab into the orb and pretty much end planetdom as we know it. An attempt to destroy the comet with missiles fails and all seems lost until...Sage leads the planet in prayer and the comet miraculously swerves from its target "as if a giant, unseen hand brushed it aside!" Oddly enough, if Ditko were to present this story to one of the many fanzines that were printing original sagas a good ten years later the situation would have been reversed with the denizens of the future praying their guts out before Sage uses his scientific wit to destroy the blazing ball! I guess at this time the sway o' Rand had yet to overcome him, at least to the point where he would even reject doodling tales with even a hint of the ol' mysticism in 'em. Still, yet another rarity dug up and dusted off for longtime fans and followers such as myself and for that I gotta be grateful that a mag like IT'S A FANZINE exists in the first place! I'd pray to God in thanksgiving, but somehow I don't think Ditko would approve of that!
Well, I think I made it through this 'un OK-like. Have an interesting "concept" piece in the works for next weekend, but as usual I should see you before then, like say next Wednesday?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Little Feat-MAX'S KANSAS CITY - APRIL 15, 1973 bootleg CD (SC)

Does the fact that I've actually plunked down a good hour (or four) of wages to snatch this obscurity up prove that the high-throb musical world which you and I crave has rolled to a standstill these past few months if not years? Really, if I have to stoop to buying platters by seventies backburner SoCal singer/songwriter types right outta the Laurel Canyon crevice I guess that the overall musical situation (esp. on the archival level) has tapered off to practically nada...I mean, why else would I want to latch onto a Little Feat album other'n out of early-seventies masochistic boredom coupled with a nice bout of ennui anyway? Believe me, I'm trying to figure all of this out myself as well!

But hey, I must admit that I did have a slight interest in the entire Little Feat oeuvre dating back to my Zappa/Beefheart days, especially after discovering the Lowell George/Mothers connection (and the fact that it was George himself singing those "whoops" on the classic "Didja Get Any Onya?") not forgetting that fellow ex-Mother Roy Estrada was the original bassist for this aggregate which, shall I say,was something that really mattered to me at the time considering how I used to think that I kinda looked like Estrada! To compound all that, none other than WEASELS RIPPED MY FLESH artist Neon Park painted a hefty portion of the Little Feat album covers which had my own teenage failure interests quite piqued to the point where their rep as a buncha Laurel Canyon fringies seemed to take a backseat to the potential bizarre-ness of it all! And hey, when I was sixteen I sure had my freak rock priorities down pat, at least compared with various other social skills and functions at which I failed abysmally!

Of course George also having been the replacement for Dick Dodd in the Standells helped (although how a guitarist could replace a drummer has always been rather confusing to me), and when somebody or other at CREEM once referred to Little Feat as being a punk rock band partially based on this piece of information you can bet my Uncle Martin antennae perked up NUGGETS-influenced goombah that I am. So like, why shouldn't I throw a little more caution to the wind and take a gamble on a platter (rec'd at the famed watering hole for the Next Generation, Max's Kansas City) that I have the feeling ain't gonna be one of those instant-zone ins that hits ya upon impact. Maybe a slow soaker-in at the best, though how long this'll take to permeate my hide remains to be seen.

And if this 'un is indeed a soaker-inner I have the feeling that it's gonna have to take more than ten, maybe twenty listens for it to ooze through the rhino hide of my psyche because for the life of me all I can get outta this is typical seventies So-Cal schmooze, the same kind that used to bristle me when I would open the pages of a ROLLING STONE (yes, I used to do that) on the hunt for something a little and all I'd get would be cookie cutter minutia on the likes of George and the whole lunatic fringe jacket mentality that the deadened minds at STONE (and elsewhere ie. the ENTIRE MAHONING COUNTY ROCK MINDSET [sic]) thought was the perfect antidote to all of the primitivist crank that was birthed from the rectum of Lou Reed. Dunno if it's Sam Clayton's congas that make Little Feat sound like total Music Industry jive but really, contrary to what that CREEM writer said I would think this is about as far away from the concept of punk rock or Max's glam and decadence as was humanly possible. And although I was too preoccupied with real life (and comic books) to notice at the time but the battle lines were already drawn, and lemme tell you Little Feat weren't on the same side as the Dolls or any of the other acts that seemed to continue on the same path of manic intensity created in the fifties and progressing down through the years despite the efforts of groups such as Feat to turn us ALL into socially conscious androids. (Not that Little Feat was exactly a group mired in the same sociopolitical sphere as David Crosby...really, I gotta stop this guilt by association no matter how thick the regional pomposity may be.)

Really, I am a pretty big fan and follower of Nick Kent but the guy did go off on tangents championing music that I thought any decent human being woulda laughed off the face of the earth ages back. SoCal singer/songwriters being amongst 'em. As I once said at least he wasn't as obnoxiously pompous about his picks and chooses as Chuck Eddy was which is why I think Kent is the tops and Eddy the pits, but anyway whenever I read Kent giving the raves to the likes of Feat and of course Joni Mitchell I still get the feeling that he's just trying to rib people like myself for whatever occult reason out there that might tickle his fancy. And considering that Kent was present at one of the gigs Feat played at Max's (who knows, he might very well be in the audience this very recording!) all I gotta say is sometimes it's sure hard to suss your favorite writers' tastes out! And it's sure hard to suss out how anyone could take a song with a title like "Teenage Nervous Breakdown" and make it sound like typical beardo rehash of old Chuck Berry riffs that sounds like something kids would've snorted coke and fornicated to 'stead of dancing their asses off like they shoulda.
Perhaps the most striking thing about this entire brouhaha is not the music but the cover shot which you can plainly see above. And whoever the enterprising souls at SC records who put this li'l package out are, they sure knew how to CUT COSTS! Y'see, instead of trying to obtain some live snaps from the show or other fannish esoterica to decorate this release, these enterprising bootleggers just decided to take the pic from the front cover of the MAX'S KANSAS CITY 1976 platter and use that instead! At least the back snap is of the infamous back room at Max's taken sometime before the creeps and freaksters were headed there for a night of debauchery, but seeing the familiar front photo being utilized this way is enough to make even a seen-it-all-before kinda guy like myself emit at least a few chuckles for reasons that are probably not that obvious to even myself!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

So, were you expecting a BIG BLOWOUT OF A POST just like the one you got last weekend? Sheesh, after that bornado I woulda thought you'd at least give me a li'l break! Besides, I had more'n enough to tickle my fancy and blabber on about a good seven earthspins back---today I'm just lulled out by the upcoming warm weather throb thrills to merely eke out this pittance of a post, so in the words of Chuck Eddy "Be thankful, Pongo" and maybe if the spirit moves me more'n Ex-Lax I'll have a really humongous blowout from the bowels of my mind next weekend!

Oh yeah, 'n HAPPY EASTER, you sniveling amoral humanist types as if you cared in the least!

Sheesh, I'm actually old enough to remember when Braxton was ruling the roost as the uncrowned king of jazz as a new atonal blurch during the mid-to-late-seventies. Maybe you are old enough as well, and if you are then you might remember that those days were a strange time for all sorts of free sounds and especially jazz. This was when the original wave of jazz avant garde gave way to the second generation of beyond off-the-wall acts that were crawling outta the woodwork from all quarters, and here was Braxton, a guy who had spent the late-sixties and early-seventies holed up in the jazz ghettos of Paris and Tokyo, all of a sudden getting a major label contract and loads of press in both the jazz and pop magazine of the day. No wonder Richard Meltzer thought that he along with Keith Jarrett were the new heralds of college boy bopster cooldom, and Prince Pudding didn't exactly mean that in an approving way like those beardos with the affected black bop speech patterns hawking jazz albums at the flea markets did!

But like I said, it was a strange time. And a great one too, because this was right before such things as vinyl shortages and switcheroo market strategies put an end to things like major labels footing the bill for custom companies like Freedom, Novus and Horizon let alone the idea that acts such as Braxton or the Revolutionary Ensemble could even THINK of recording for any of the same labels who were footing the bill for everybody from John Cage to Sun Ra for a longer period of time than their accountants could have imagined. But hey, we were heading into the squeaky clean eighties when the most daring act any of the biggies would consider signing were the Del Fuegos, and frankly if it weren't for used record shops or the New Music Distribution Catalog I dunno what a fellow with my musical tastes could do outside of find a new hobby like pressing flowers or hammering out ashtrays from sheets of metal...something more akin to my own autistic nature 'stead of trying to act all high-falutin' pseudo-intellectual as if I actually KNOW about the deep-seated behind-the-sound message and meaning of any of this music outside of getting an immediate, visceral buzz from it all.

Another amazing thing about the seventies was that relatively picayune labels such as Inner City and Muse could get their wares stocked into major record chain emporiums nationwide, and as far as I can remember this particular platter was no different. Recorded somewhere between his Parisian romps and the Big Arista Contract, SERIES F's a pretty fine recording of solo Braxton playing at some of his free-blast atonal with a few surprising actual nods to melodic jazz forms of yore. Like most of the Braxton catalog this ain't exactly gonna tickle the Leonard Feathers amongst us but it definitely fits in with the entire 60s/70s Braxton modus wafting between post-Ayler splat and what was rightfully considered part of the same New Classical scene as John Cage or Harold Budd. And although I'm sure that more than a few of your elderly aunts'll think this is nothing but some crazy guy just making random noise with his musical gear all I gotta say is...maybe if it were I'd still like it on the same level as I do listening with my jazzbo "third eye" in place. But then again, maybe not.
Mia Theodoratus-"Apache"/"Miserlou" 33-rpm 7-inch single

No label on this 'un, but I guess if you scour the web hard enough you'll be able to get an actual vinyl copy for your very own. Either that or you can download it here, there, or perhaps even a dozen other places where you'll have to pay upwards of 99-cents to hear this Hanuman Ensemble harpist take on Jerry London and Dick Dale and do it her way! If you liked Mia with or without the Ensemble (who did some pretty find free play back during the days of the CBGB Lounge Freestyle Series you'll probably LOVE these two sides. I gotta admit this single does remind me of the better days of self-produced vinyl obscurities that seemed like such a radical idea when they first started to proliferate a good thirtysome years back, and although I am showing my stodginess I will say that hearing it on actual vinyl sure connects me back to the days when I was a kid spinning "Washington Square" repeatedly while marching around the room. It sure is nice to know that some things don't change in my obviously "blinkered" way of approaching music, if not life!
The New Yardbirds-1969 LIVE RARITIES LP (After Hours bootleg)

Gaw! Was I fooled by the New Yardbirds title thinkin' this was gonna have selections from that obscure twilight zone between the Yardbirds' final croak and Led Zeppelin revelation! Turns out this record is nothing but low-fidelity '69 Zep tracks recorded at Winterland and the BBC which have probably been upgraded a hundred times since whenever this platter was originally thrust upon a music-starved populace. For ultra-serious Zep fans and those whose hearing went bust to the point where it all sounds like a Cetron C-60 assembled in Mexico.

In typical fandom-based bootleg fashion After Hours did show some ingenuity in their use of specially-created labels, not only because they were trying so hard to make their product look legitimate but because the eighties generation of bootleggers were so homage-laden that they just hadda include little historical references and asides regarding their wares in order to prove they were just as fan-crazed about it all as the goombahs gobbling up their product. Y'see, in typical latterday boot fashion After Hours decided to pay tribute to Zep not by utilizing ingenious replicas of the Atlantic label (which would have been too obvious), but by whipping up an inaccurate but I guess decent looking enough facsimile of the old Excello one, they being the home of many a blues artist of whom the likes of Page and crew continually swiped from to great money-making effect! I dunno if this was done strictly as an underhanded way to credit the originators of the form or to poke fun at the group's own perhaps dishonest raiding of past accomplishment, but it does seem fitting for people ripping off Zep to take aim at Zep's own ripoff practices in a manner such as this!
Billy Bang-VIETNAM; THE AFTERMATH CD (Justin Time)

Bang's recent passing (see last weekend's post for more details) made me feel guilty enough to actually dish out upwards of $20 for this heralded release, the first in a series (of two?) dealing with the violinist's experiences while fighting for somethingorother over in SE Asia in the late-sixties. And y'know, it's a pretty good 'un too. Of course it's nothing of what I expected, screeching violin and beyond-wail sax trying to capture the madness and agony of armed combat, but traditional far east melodies mixed in with a more post-bop sound and even some pseudo-funk (on the aptly-named "Saigon Phunk") that doesn't sound as pushy as many of these other free jazz takes on Asia numbuhs had at times. It ain't exactly what you're expecting in a concept disque about serving in Vietnam made by avant jazzmen, but then again the element of surprise is always needed in battle.
I might whip up something mighty tasty for the mid-week, though what I eventually will deliver might be something much less enthralling, like a toss-off review or perhaps my impressions of somethingorother in the food and spirits category. But whatever, be sure to tune in this Wednesday (give or take) because as you already know I'm the sort of guy who dares to be the point of alienating and offending both the casual internet cruiser and the longtime reader but then again what else did you expect?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


I remember sometime in the late-seventies chancing upon something or other about Woody Guthrie which mentioned (with typical downhome righteousness I might add) how his guitar was emblazoned with the then-popular sentiment "This Machine Kills Fascists". Funny enough how the more left-leaning than now creature known as myself thought it would be real keen if some electrified rock singer of the then and there would have embossed on his guitar "This Machine Kills FOLKIES" which I guess really summed up my sentiments! Well, it would after years of listening to (against my will?) beyond-mellow folksingers who have found the path to inner righteousness and the bank with a little MOR here and a touch of white guilt tug there coming off like Frank Sinatra meets Joan Baez.

And considering how even ol' Joanie Phoanie herself went in for the big production and trendy career moves in later years maybe the blasts from a few electric guitars would have been the best way to off that peace creep hussy, or at least send her back to her treehouse where she can eat all the Quaker Oats she wants until she bursts for all I care.

So yeah, reviewing this particular platter will be quite a challenge, but the again you know I just love to tackle a wide variety of recordings which lie outside of what many think is my horse-blindered musical scope. And a challenge it will be...y'see, I could take the easy way out and just say that this Cee-Dee's nothing but a buncha aging folkies who are still stuck in 1963 gathering around on their great Spiritual Leader's birthday singing the old songs w/o a clue as to how to relate to the world as it is here in the 21st, but I won't. This may be true, but there is a lot more to this platter that you'll want me to tell you about.

Recorded over the course of eight of these "Birthday Bashes" (though not always falling on Guthrie's actual date of arrival) first at the CB's 313 Gallery and later on the Bowery Poetry Club, OPEN YOUR HEARTS TO THE PARADISE features a selection of what I guess are some of the bard's more "important" songs being sung round robin style by not only a buncha folkies who are probably old enough to have given Woody his first woody, but a few youngsters who probably wish they were around so they coulda. The resultant spew is mixed, at times sounding like an inspired campfire singalong at one of those fifties-era communist kid camps that Pete Seeger used to inhabit to the music that would have been heard coming out of any typical folk boom college dorm being played by the right sort of proper self-conscious co-ed who loathed the co-option of their movement via HOOTENANNY.

Now even an old fanabla such as I can admit that some of this is entertaining, interesting, engaging and perhaps even enveloping enough in a downhome old-timey way. An example of this would be the highly romanticized story of Pretty Boy Floyd which in typical folk ballad tradition attempts to make the notorious killer into a Robin Hood-patterned hero who helped out poverty-stricken dust-bowled families. Nice if not exactly attuned to my own sense of hard gnarl. A couple, such as "Harriet Tubman's Ballad" and "How Can You Keep On Moving", have more of a more post-rock drive to 'em that would have made 'em standard fare amongst the En Why anti-folk gang who seemed to make a minor kerfuffle in eighties-era New York. However, most if this just sounds like the same acoustic plunk that hippoid teachers and "with it" religious workers still play for kids thinking that it will "reach" within their "inner being" or some other sort of I'm OK You're OK quap, not realizing that for a good portion of these kids the new DNA makeup is bred from the electronic grist of Burroughs, Warhol, Reed and the riddled children that have spurted from their loins. I'm sure this is something that is quite hard for the folksters to cram into their minds, but sheesh, sometimes even I have a hard time trying to get my entire reason for being geared to the fact that it's NOT 1972, ifyaknowaddamean...

But then again, the only thing that I really know about Guthrie is that, besides being the father to that cutesy-wootsey teen idol Arlo (who I actually though was a gal until seeing the front cover of the ALICE'S RESTAURANT album thus noticing no boobies!) he was a real stinker! I remember hearing this story about the time he was staying with Will Geer and his common law wife and the two of 'em couldn't stand the stench that the un-bathed Guthrie was leaving in their log cabin, so a plan was devised and executed where Geer and his "paramour" would ambush Guthrie, pull his clothes off, dunk him in a hot tub and scrub him down real hard-like with Pine Sol. It was a chore and Guthrie put up a good fight, but in the end he was smelling pretty good even if he was madder than a wet (albeit clean) hen. Somehow its these stinkeroo stories that always stick out in my mind, like when I hear about a certain celebrity or underground music fixture who really could put a pile of cow dung (especially if the cows were fed garlic) to shame, so if I ever do play this Cee-Dee again I'll be sure to hold my nose in honor of a guy who thought so much of himself he was bound to let the world know about it one way or the other!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Yeah I know...there's nothing to laugh about anymore. Nothing's funny, and even the stuff that's supposed to be funny which is marketed to you as top-notch and cutting-edge on COMEDY CENTRAL's nothing but loud-mouthed preachy propaganda for the NEW, IMPROVED, FREE FROM THE PAST 5000 YEARS OF CIVILIZATION GOOD LIFE, that is if you consider a world that seems closer to a seventies-era PBS kiddie show than a typical playground brawl "good". Really, it's come to the point where everything out there from humor to politics to general entertainment is so pasteurized, processed and (worst of all) Big Brother domineering these days that the only way I can get my jollies anymore is to crack open an old issue of NATIONAL LAMPOON and read some of the more offensive material they were known to crank out at a time when bad taste really meant something. They may have been crude, disgusting and certainly treading water that the likes of MAD or CRACKED certainly wouldn't dare venture, but at least 'POON were picking on peoples and ideas that I totally loathe, and if you can't laugh at people you hate who can you laugh at?

Maybe that's why I kinda like the DIVERSITY LANE comic panel as much as I do. True the comic can be cliched, not-popping-on-all-cylinders and worst of all more Partyline Republican (I'm loath to use the already overused term "neocon") than paleo, but when it does work the comic can make me laugh like nothing since DIRTY DUCK. Often compared to THE ADDAMS FAMILY (though that would be stretching things), DIVERSITY LANE features the rather NEW YORKER-ish looking adventures of a post-postmodern family where pop's a fiftysomething ACLU lawyer, mom's a bisexual who's living with two lesbian lovers (one a typical butch specimen and the other a frazzled hippie taken in with the expected new age curealls and such), the boy's a confused product of a genderbending upbringing and the girl seemingly wants to have nothing to do with any of it! Your typical Modern Day Amerigan family, and given some of the things I've seen recently I wouldn't doubt the entire layout one BIT!

Creator Zach Rawsthorne does have a certain flair, and although there's a lot in what he has to say that I'm not quite buying (such as the typical conservative-based unconditional praising of Sarah Palin, a lightweight whose finger I certainly wouldn't want on any button let alone those connected to ICBM's!) I can sure gag 'stead of groan (maybe both!) at his critiques of everything from enlightened liberal sociothink to anything traditional and therefore outside the ken of the "New Person"'s rather limited comprehensive skills. Really, some of the comics that Rawsthorne cranked out are worthy enough for me to paste to my cubicle so I can "say something" in the same manner-of-fashion that sniveling females would clip CATHY cartoons and Anna Quindlen columns out of the paper and tape 'em to their little workspaces to show their support with their suppressed gender or something like that. Unfortunately I don't even have a cubicle where I work so I can't show off my personal angst, but if I did boy, would the workplace be a way more fun and exciting place to be!

In case you're that interested there's even a DIVERSITY LANE collection out, one that I somehow have the feeling won't be easily found snuggled next to various DOONESBURY and FAR SIDE softcovers in flea market stalls and used book shops nationwide. Might be a nice Christmas Gift for the one you love, though frankly in these budget-conscious times I think it would be more prudent to just copy your favorite panels off the web for free, then paste 'em all up in a special edition book which should save you a pretty penny in the long run. And hey, your foreword might just be as good if not better'n the real one which I know will hit it off big with the dream girl or guy of your choice. Either that or it may be a good way to help worm yourself out of a relationship you certainly don't want to go any further than it already has.
While combing through the DIVERSITY LANE blog I came across a much better comic that I wasn't aware of before, a strip which also (though in a quite different manner) pokes fun at a subject matter that rarely if ever gets the comedy treatment given our highly moralistic, Aunt Polly-ish times. The strip's called JOHNNY OPTIMISM, and even with the standard clip art style and the very static look (reminds me of many of the "moderne" comics that came out in the wake of Tom Tomorrow) Johnny and his antics have me rolling in the aisles every time a new strip pops up. I guess that DIVERSITY creator Rawsthorne doesn't consider JOHNNY OPTIMISM to be a threat to his own niche, and for that I am eternally glad he pointed out this comic which sure ain't the typical "boy and his dog" strip we've seen for ages!

And hey, if you can't laugh at cripples, gimps, the chronically ill, incompetent doctors and the health system who can you laugh at? Yes, OPTIMISM creator Stilton Jarlsberg (!) really found his true calling in life with his li'l creation, and I gotta admit that as Lindsay Hutton once said I thought my pants would never dry given the truly guffaw-inducing comics the man has come up with, just a few of which are presented for your study and amusement below:

Funny enough for you? Thought so. Sheesh, the trouble I go through second-guessing you fickle BLOG TO COMM readers!!!
Like one or two of you fellow blogschpielers out there in "notice me" land I thought that maybe I should get my two shekels in regarding the very recent passing of violinist Billy Bang, a guy who along with Leroy Jenkins and Ornette Coleman helped further the instrument's use in the jazz avant garde to stunning and quite outside-the-box as they say effect. Funny thing, the first time I ever even heard of Bang was via an old VILLAGE VOICE listing of some early-eighties CBGB gig, and at the time I figured that Bang was probably one of those new and budding whiteguy punk rockers with a name like that! After all, there was a guy on the local scene with the moniker of Billy Balls, and really how much different was Bang's name especially when lined up against some of the nom-de-punques who were performing around the Tri-County Area at the time?

Of course a trek through a New Music Distribution Service catalog soon straightened me out, and with my cat-like curiosity getting the best of me I decided to actually dish out some hard-earned and see what this guy was offering us in the way of free-jazz violin that seemed like such a strange concept at least in the beginning. NEW YORK COLLAGE was a great place to start with its college radio recording aura and Bang not only playing exemplary but contributing some poetry regarding the late-seventies music scene which made me at least a "little" homesick for those bright seventies epiphanies. And although the other Bang platter I latched ontoat the time wasn't quite as adventurous (I forget the title, but it's the one with Frank Lowe and various string-scrapers helping out) at least I knew that Bang was a force to reckon with and that his sudden thrust to the front of the big press free jazz line was actually deserved 'stead of some affirmative action ploy for white jazz critics to look "cool" and feel good about themselves! (I'm just saying this to tweak some of you reader's already tweaked psyches...don't bother writing in to complain because I will ignore you!)

I was fortunate enough to catch Bang via the CBGB website when the now-deceased club was airing shows live from their various stages via cybercast throughout the first part of the previous decade. I remember writing about my disappointment at missing a performance of his VIETNAM album which was being performed at the CBGB 313 Gallery by "just that much" as Maxwell Smart would say (I did get to see the group tearing down their gear and the following performers, some watered down alternative/amerindie types, take to the stage much to my dismay) but at least some time later I did catch Bang working out pretty well in a trio setting during the days of Dee Pop's freestyle series at the Lounge downstairs, playing pretty hard and intense kinda like a more swinging Revolutionary Ensemble without the AACM-approved small instrument tinkling or African chants. Another show I also missed (other than the one when Bang sat in with the late lamented avant-jazz rock aggregate Noisetet) was a group setting featuring the Revolutionary Ensemble's Sirone and saxophonist/street preacher Charles Gayle that fortunately enough was released on the Silkheart label a few years back and has a rather nice swing to it if I do say so myself. I only hope that Pop recorded all of the gigs from the series if only for future study and most of all enjoyment on our sorry part.

Listen, I don't think that the life expectancy for jazzmen has ever been that long. I mean, look at all of the free jazz greats who are no longer with us like Phillip Wilson, Luther Thomas, Lester Bowie and Sonny Sharrock just to name four out of many off the top of my thinned-out bean. The ones who made it into their eighties like Ornette, Sam Rivers and Cecil Taylor have certainly bucked the trend, but otherwise it's like why should any of 'em bother taking out old age pensions, y'know? And hey, I guess we've gotta add Billy Bang to the list which of course makes it a sad day for all of us free jazz and punk funk fans who've been following him for almost three decades awlready! I guess the best thing we can do in his memory is play all of the spinners we have by him in our collection, and maybe I'd just better break down and buy his VIETNAM Cee-Dee (a concept album based on his real-life experiences which doesn't sound a dire as one might expect!) even though the prices on ebay have been prohibitive. I mean, if I died wouldn't you wanna scam all of the old issues of BLACK TO COMM that you can? Of course you would! And since I've been feeling a little woozy as of late, maybe you should start in the celebration like...right now?
Also should mention the passing of Wailers leader/screamer in his own right Kent Morrill, who is dead at the perhaps not-so-ripe age of seventy from causes that, as they say, will be brought up in future press releases and conversations nationwide. Really, for a guy who's been in the music business since 1958 I would have thought Morrill to have been much older but given that the Wailers really were one of the first truly teenage punk rock acts that set the pace for many a thumping, big beat group o'er the next decade or so we gotta remember that these were kids and not seasoned veterans who were making that trek via station wagon all the way from Takoma Washington to Philadelphia to perform on AMERICAN BANDSTAND way back in June 1959! Spiritual fathers to the likes of the Kingsmen and Paul Revere and the Raiders and template for the Sonics, the Wailers were the big guns on the Northwest Rock Scene for a good portion of the sixties and like, although he wasn't a household name Morrill was really responsible (via his influence) for quite a lotta the party music blasting forth from frat houses for a good many years. Let's just say this is yet another page being turned in the massive annals of high energy rockism as time wooshes on, and if you don't feel any older at least go look in the mirror for visual proof!
I have been keeping busy trying to pump this post up as you can see, and here are just a few of the items long-winded me has been spinning as of late that I kinda thought'd really wanna know about!

Fadensonnen-WHITE EP CD (Fadensonnen Music)

Gee, I didn't think that people (even myself) listened to WHITE LIGHT/WHITE HEAT anymore. Well, at least the first of the two numbers on this "EP CD" sounds as if the two participants (a PD and RD in case you're keeping score) had been spending the past two weeks playing one of those budget-pressed early-seventies ARCHETYPES versions of that longtime classic before sniffing up enough discarded Bic lighter fumes and recording this high-throb exercise right in the middle of the Gowanus Canal (and it sounds it!). The other track reminds me a bit of those late-eighties solo Sonny Sharrock excursions for some reason and is equally recommended especially if you, like me, looked so desperately hard for any life or excitement throughout that feelygood decade. Anyway, if you liked Fadensonnen's previous effort which I reviewed here and quite favorably at that you might like this one as well, and if life wasn't being kind enough to us all already there's even gonna be a third volume heading our way this coming summer! Can you wait? Well, at least I have something good to look forward to these upcoming months!
Gray-SHADES OF... CD (Plush Safe)

The lower Manhattan scene of the late-seventies was probably filled with more than enough high-energy and maddening rock music for at least a dozen or so scribes from NEW YORK magazine to rail against, but that doesn't mean all of it is exactly up to the usual BLOG TO COMM standards from which all decent musical aesthetics emerge. And really reallyREALLY I was hoping that Gray, a group that not only boasted future eighties upstart artiste Jean-Michel Basquiat but hobnobbed on the same under-the-underground circuit as the by-now legendary no wave groups would have had the same sense of end-of-decade APOCALYPSE as the Contortions or even Von Lmo. Too bad this collection of surviving work just doesn't live up to my expectations, sounding more 1984 post-Max's than 1978 atonal thrust. Sad to say, I found most of SHADES OF... perhaps too studious for my own tastes with various light industrial touches, some Manhattan chic and a few phone-call tracks that seem like lightly-fluffed out Jerky Boys attempts. Even when the sparks of genius do seem to snap they only tend to recall the general miasma that had settled over a good portion of the once-exciting underground around the time Max's closed up shop and Lester Bangs decided to do his own era's end in a particularly gruesome fashion.

The closest thing SHADES OF... reminds me of is that old Chinaboise CD which captured a pre-MX-80 Sound Rich Stim and company pretty much doing an early-eighties new wave pastiche of various ideas and sounds in 1975. Now that offering was more indicative of what the '79-'83 (more/less) cusp could have produced with regards to a new underground voice than the halfway-there approach and sounds found on this promising yet rather thin exhumation. I guess Basquiat was smart to stick to art and forget the musical portion of his existence the same way Dick Powell just decided to be an actor 'stead of torture us with his comparatively tiresome warbles!
Climax Chicago-RICH MAN LP (Harvest, England)

Here's a record that's probably more famous for its admittedly neat-o seventies-revisionist art deco cover than for the music which certainly has little if anything to do with a Chicago blues sound than some whitey kids' idea of what it's supposed to sound like. Or what it's supposed to be filtered through the minds of English progressive-rock bred types maybe. Or something like that. Or nothing. Really can't say much about this record other than I like the cover and it has at least an inkling of an early-seventies post-psych presence to it, but I know one gal who really must have loved this 'un and that's "Mary Atkins". Y'see, whoever this Mary is I now have her copy of this album which she must have cherished so much that she even wrote her name on it, not on the sleeve like most proud elpee owners would have done but on the label, and I mean carved right into side "a" with what must have been a wood-burning set if not an exacto-knife. Mary, if you want your album back you are most certainly welcome to it, though in all fairness you'll have to pay the postage and handling and insurance which I'm sure won't matter if this items is that dear to you.
The Black Artists Group-IN PARIS, ARIES 1973 LP (Rank and File)

Anybody with the good sense to tune into this blog w/o any malice already knows that the reissuing of rare, self-produced seventies-era avant garde jazz albums isn't happening as rapidly as we would like it to. Howevah, when some obscurity does get pressed up for us bums who were too poor or stupid to pick these platters up in the first place you can bet I'm gonna be one of the first to try getting a copy into my pulsating, greasy mitts! And this li'l beaut's one that was sooooo obscure in the first place that I can't recall hearing about the dad-blamed thing until coming across an original via an ebay auction a few years back. My bid of $164.39 got swiftly trounced natch, but at least now I can hear this slow-burn live set recorded by what essentially was the Human Arts Ensemble going under the name of their chartered organization back home in St. Louis trying to do to Paris what the similar-minded Art Ensemble of Chicago did a few years earlier, hopefully while not getting ripped off in the process.

And I really do mean "slow burn" for this platter does have the same quiet drive of a PEOPLE IN SORROW as the music flows and ebbs until finally ending in a drive blowout to rival the better seventies co-op acts from the AEC on down creating the next generation of fire music for a world that was still trying to puzzle out Ornette Coleman. Future jazz big names Oliver Lake and Joseph Bowie are front and center here along with BAG regulars Baikida Carroll and Floyd LeFlore all adding their BAG-ish mix of horns and "small instruments" backed up by Charles Bobo Shaw, who not only plays his standard drums and percussives but even handles a stylophone! Don't expect any Rolf Harris ditties though, for this is the real beyond games free jazz sound that had me scouring late-seventies NMDS catalogs and Cleveland Height used bins for the total high energy scronk of it all.

If it means anything to you there's this annoying click at the beginning of side one, but that's only because the Rank and File label hadda use an actual original vinyl copy for the masters since the original tapes are long gone. Frankly those old private pressings weren't exactly of the best quality as anyone who has been collecting these platters since 197X knows by now. Just a li'l warning to you tightass audiophile nut types who are concerned about such things...the rest of us who've endured everything from BYG pressings to the various atrocities committed by the old Moxie label will just be reminded of them good old days when things such as "audiophile recordings" seemed to be something that brainy guys who looked like Alan Ludden were more concerned about as opposed to hiss-loving, crackle-caring flea market scuffling people like ourselves who didn't care what it sounded like as long as you could hear the thing!
The Astronauts-PETER PAN HITS THE SUBURBS LP (La Vide Es Un Mus, England)

The early eighties anarchist punk scene over in England sure had a few surprises in store for us, but the best of 'em just hadda've been the groups who were doing a little something different than the same old wallow. Groups like the Apostles, the Mob, Zounds and these guys were amongst those who were not only different than the usual row goin' on (not that there was anything evil about the row that was!), but different enough in a way that reminded me more of what punk rock 1971 was rather than the early-eighties sound and style that was upsetting more'n a few cubes stuck smack dab inna middle of MASS ENFORCED SQUAREDOM back in the eighties. And of these groups the Astronauts were the most unique, not only with a name that they weren't aware was previously used by a sixties Colorado surf group but with a long-hair and jeans sway that looked more like early-seventies Ladbrook Grove layabouts cranking out a sound that you woulda thought only Mick Farren coulda loved!

Of course I am always rooting for the kinda group like this that goes against the grain of what is prim and proper even in a genre such as underground rock where ideas can go anywhere and reach stellar heights or plumb oceanic depths for that matter, and as far as straying from the supposed norm the Astronauts seemed to have done a pretty good job of it themselves. And this recent reissue of their debut LP PETER PAN HITS THE SUBURBS shows that the Astronauts actually had a grip on their instruments and could perform in a variety of styles in and outside of the patented BLOG TO COMM sphere-of-things making for a sound that I'm sure appealed to the leftover hippoid crown as well as the ever-growing anarcho-punk contingent over there, and if anything could get those two tribes together...

The music has this steady straight-on intensity to it yet the style can change from straight-ahead rock to post-psychedelic to garage-crank at seemingly the drop of a hat. However it retains itself as a cohesive whole, which I know is something that should appeal to all of you cohesive holes who tune into this blog. At no time do the specters of Crass (then #1 anarcho-swipe) rear their luddite heads...the sound actually owes more to the 197X Hawkwind/Gong stream of unconsciousness which I guess is why none other than Nik Turner can be found guesting on sax perhaps giving the Astronauts a tad bit of an Inner City Unit sound on the numbers where he does. And the overall performance is actually straightforwardly underground in a seventies sense that you would've expected that the Astronauts would have been given a rave of approval not only from PENETRATION magazine (if they were still extant at the time) but John Peel himself.

Yes, this reissue sure does come in handy, and for a guy who had pretty much thought the eighties a vast dump of watered down sixties/seventies ideals this only goes to prove that there was more in the underground swing going for it than I would have given credit. Of course you hadda dig deep for it like you have to do today, but it is there for the taking. And although some readers may harp about the technical proficiency and use of synthesizers and what they would consider "progressive" proclivities I'll still have to rate PETER PAN HITS THE SUBURBS as a surprise outta-nowhere strike from a band that I really never gave that much thought to in the past. Now if I can only find that ROCK AGAINST THE BOMB cassette in my collection that has been eluding me for more than a few months already!
ONE OTHER ITEM I GAVE A LISTEN TO BETWEEN LAST WEDNESDAY'S POST AND TODAY: Jimmy Page's soundtrack to Kenneth Anger's LUCIFER RISING, featured on the entire first side of the Led Zep SOLO PERFORMANCES bootleg LP. Well, it did turn up in the pile and I sure remember loving the dickens outta it back when I first bought the thing from one of those clandestine mid-South mailorder bootleg businesses back in 1984. What piqued my interest in giving this 'un a listen was not exactly the hubbub of what it sounded like (there was none, other than just about everybody who heard the thing HATED it), but the story behind it which was being played out in music magazines throughout the mid-seventies in sort of a mini-drama that was unfolding before our very eyes that was probably about as interesting if not more so than the actual film that did come out!

And for music that Kenneth Anger found unusable (even though he did utilize it for an early rough sketch of his final cut entitled LUCIFER RISING PART ONE which was shown in Los Angeles September 1976 from whence this recording came) I find the finished music quite...exciting, mesmerizing and everything that Led Zep under the sway of Page and his "romance with the White Lady" was anything but! The soundtrack begins with this droning sound which I think was made by Page bowing his guitar through an ARP synthesizer while an ominous melody perhaps made by a non-bowed guitar being played through the same synth appears. For some reason the mood and even the guitar reminds me of Nico and her singing on "It Was a Pleasure Then". Soon some rather eerie chanting voices show up as the guitar playing gets even more dramatic and rushes into total chaos before everything reverts back to the drone from whence it all came. Quite an experience, especially when one remembers just what a dull band Zep could have been when their more thuggish sides (most notably Bonham's!) got the best of them and their drug experiences pretty much took over the entire direction and downward spiral. Culminating in some rather eerie happenstance which I'm convinced helped bring the seventies to a rather bitter end (as if IN THROUGH THE OUT DOOR wasn't enough of a sad indication of "era's end" for a pretty sad era of horrid FM "rock" music that many STILL fondly remember!).
A FINAL NOTE OF EXPLANATION: Here I go, thinking that this April 15th (yesterday) was actually TAX DAY which is the obvious reason I posted the pertinent Beatles cartoon clip featuring George Harrison's on-target protest song "Taxman"! Well, as some of you probably already knew it turns out that for some strange reason pay-up time this year's not last Friday but this upcoming Monday which, shall I say, makes my posting of the aforementioned clip (and the rush to file my taxes) rather premature! Let's just say that this whole debacle does make me quite sore, not only because I posted the clip on the wrong (yet traditional) day, but because I forked over my hard earned to an evil, megalomaniac government that I more or less loathe three days before I actually HAD TO!!!! When I have to pay up the big bucks I like to hold onto my hard-begged as long as humanly possible, and although the Forces That Be got my moolah three days earlier than they shoulda well...just wait until next year!

As for the lack of readers writing in to chide me for my obvious faux pas all I'll have to say is yeah right, like you guys make enough money to pay taxes. What a bunch of freeloaders!

Friday, April 15, 2011


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Doxy label over in Dagoland's been releasing a wide variety of historically/kulturally important fifties-era jazz/rock & roll platters, and on old-timey vinyl as well. Not only that, but they've been doing it complete with the addition of a bonus Compact Disque of the entire affair included within the shrinkwrap so's you can hear the music on your car stereo as well as your console! Of course that might seem redundant to the average horse-blindered consumer out there but personally I think the concept of issuing two configurations of the same item in one package is a boffo one for you motorists who are tired of having to burn vinyl to disque for your Sunday afternoon rides. As for me, I thought that my collection could use at least two of this label's more recent output, and considering how I'm always on the go for "broadening" my perspectives and like Chuck Eddy believe in giving a listen to items that might not fall into my own sense of standard Amerigan 1964-1976 punk rock atty-tood maybe my choice of snatching up the first Little Richard and second Buddy Holly albums was a rather astute one on my part.

Well, it's sure a helluva lot better'n back when Eddy would be championing all of that utter drek and trying to find worth and value in old copies of TALES FROM THE TOPOGRAPHIC OCEAN in order to gross out us definitely on-top-of-it high energy rock & roll maniacs.

Yes, I still get grief for my rather curt comment regarding Little Richard that I made in a 1984 review of a BACK FROM THE GRAVE volume in some by-now ancient issue of OP(TION). Deservedly so I might add, and of course I do have an excuse (weak at that) because at the time I was more engrossed with the Link Wray (definite KING of fifties rock!) swing of things and after watching Mr. Penniman schmoozing up to Phil Donahue on tee-vee how could I have nothing but revulsion for what the man had become in the lackluster eighties? Well I told you it would be a lame excuse but anyhow in order to once again contradict myself I gotta say that I found his (never before heard by me in its entirety!) debut platter to be a dooz. This slab of excitement personified not only features a good hunkin' portion of Richard's 1956 chart-toppers but pumps more'n enough energy to keep a jaded one such as myself all hopped up and excited over two sides of early rock/roll mania that (to be cliched about it) helped kick start everybody from the Wailers and Sonics to Beatles and Kinks for a good decade or so after this '57 debut. Richard cranks out the music full force while his backup band drives a hard deal to the point where even the oldsters who've been around the block with this a good half-decade-plus'll still tap toe and let it soak in just like they did the day they first came in contact with the big thrust of it all. As for the rest of us well..can't judge for you but I think it runs rings around most of the competition all hollow, especially when stacked up against the real washouts of the day like Pat Boone and of course those all-time snorers the Platters!

The flat-yet-vivid sound quality naturally does add to the sway (imagine 1959 living room console being played full blast when the folks aren't home) and the entire shebang's entertaining enough that even if you aren't some brainy college cube doing a dissertation on "The Early Production and Execution of Rock & Roll Recordings" (imagine Margaret from DENNIS THE MENACE age 21 and enamored with Antony and the Johnsons yet wanting to expand her horizons a little further) you can still become bowled over. Well, I gotta say that this 55-year-old spin's a whole lot more meaningful to me as a suburban-dwelling indentured servant as the music of 55-years-back was when I was the mere age of ten!

Never did hear Holly's debut CHIRPING CRICKETS even though I did pass up on a copy of it (for a dime) at a flea market during my youth because it looked a little too scuffed up, but I'm sure it's a wowzer like this interesting collection featuring LP #2 on side one and some early '56 demos on the flip. Of course I can't compare these two slabs which were actually released while Holly was still alive and not yet the idol of necromancing goombahs worldwide, but judging from this album I can rest assured that the debut is just as late-fifties in-tune as this followup. Sure it doesn't have the knotty-pine basement/UHF-TV feel of a Johnny and the Hurricanes or Trashmen but it's sure digestible in its own Tex Mex rockabilly way.

'n yeah, it's more'n obvious how this platter has infested just about everyone from Bobby Fuller to Roky Erickson and even people OUTSIDE of Texas. Heck, even elpee opener "I'm a gonna love-a ya too" was later redone (and improved on, I might add) by the Thirteenth Floor Elevators on their infamous bogus live album but it sure is good to know that Holly did influence more'n just a buncha late-seventies poolside coke snorters like Linda Ronstadt or else I might never have picked this longplayer up in the first place! The entire album does ooze the correct amt. of fifties strength and pre-fiz energy (remember, this was before Holly was pointing at the shape of MOR things to come with such gloppy string-laden releases as "True Love Ways" which were so goopy even Peter and Gordon felt obliged to cover 'em!) and hey, while listening to the more countrified '56 demos on side two I was reminded of none other'n Marc Bolan as the youthful Holly warbled on which might have been the real key to what made rock-era superstardom so obtainable in days gone by!

FORGET all of the sappy Holly memorializing and horrid homages that the guy has supposedly "earned" over the years (lest they're by Joe Meek of course!). And while you're at it, forget that tale about the time Buddy walked in on Little Richard while galpal Angel was sucking Richard's nipple as Richard flibbened the jib with Holly making it a threesome (with the entire saga "coming" to a dramatic "climax" just as Holly was due to hit the stage making him, as Richard said, one rock & roller who definitely "came before he went"). Just give a listen to the unadulterated stuff the way it came out and was meant to be heard without any of the added gush and goo slopped all over it. This might not exactly be your cup of hotcha up-to-date latest flash in a genre that's probably overworn its stay, but it's down-to-earth raw, exciting and hey, more attuned to my own personal sense of purpose than most of the new upheaval that really is too little too late. I'd even call both of these discs the musical equivalent of old TWILIGHT ZONE reruns but I don't want to alienate any of you readers even more than I already have!

Saturday, April 09, 2011

It's a hard life being a rockscreeding genius who like my namesake seems to have the entire weight of this doggone world on his shoulders. Well, at least there are those little things in life that make my rather dreary existence a lot less burdensome and at time downright enjoyable...amongst these little oases in a desert of gulcheral waste are the music that sets me free (seventies relevancy lives!), high quality old-timey television gunk and of course hunkerin' down and reading some affects you in the "right" way rock writing that's guaranteed to resensify the sagging-lower-than-your-mommy's-tits spirits that seem to envelop all of us here in 201X Ameriga (and beyond). Once in awhile I can find some high-energy rock-oriented scribbling on the web even if I don't have to dish out bucks for a year's subscription to ROCK'S BACK PAGES (a total gyp...I mean, rock writing's for the PEOPLE, man!), but more often than not I have to comb through by boxes of class seventies-oriented fanzines and Lester Bangs-helmed issues of CREEM to get myself a proper fix. And, as you already know, everything (including this blog) after 1981 does not mean a dad-burned thing, and no matter how hard we squint our eyes and pretend it to be.

Two things that have been keeping my life energy forces afloat this past week have been the arrival of some classic rock-scribed papers, both of 'em birthed during the transitional year of 1976 and just brimming with enough high-class rockist revelations to keep me going for at least another week w/o having to succumb to massive withdrawal symptoms. As for the first...well, I must 'fess up to the fact that this particular issue of THE NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS I've gotten my mitts on is the first one I've actually purchased as opposed to thumbed through or borrowed IN MY ENTIRE LIFE, and having an actual copy to have as my very own certainly is a momentous occasion for future biographers to chronicle in whatever e-book on me will undoubtedly be written in the distant future. And if the particular ish that I nabbed (November 27th) was indicative of the entire run of the classic Kent/Murray/Farren/MacDonald period of NME history then all I can say is I SURE MISSED OUT ON A WHOLE BARREL-LOAD OF LIFE-REAFFIRMING, HIGH-ENERGY ROCKIST SCREEDING WHICH I SURE COULD HAVE USED BACK WHEN THE SOUNDS CRITIQUED IN THESE PAGES WERE ALIVE AND THROBBING 'STEAD OF 35+-YEAR-OLD FADED MEMORIES!!! Dramatic enough for you?, but all kidding aside only a doofus would think that NME wasn't a quality rock paper and the fact that they were able to get one out on a weekly basis is only proof that there was a lotta musical talent over there on both sides of the biz and hey, the closest thing we could get to such snide attitude high-spiff writing over here was CREEM and that was a monthly (and perhaps even spotty) publication if I must say so.

Maybe there's one drawback to this particular ish, that being there's not enough Nick Kent in this 'un (and the featured review of his is on none other than his personal favorite Joni Mitchell [?!?!?!?!?] and her HEJIRA album, and for the life of me I can't understand how these smart rock types like Kent and Eddie Flowers who are supposed to know better could snuggle up to such a watered-down folkie diz as Mitchell unless they're trying to gross out the phony hipster contingent!), but other frontline rock screeders like Charles Shaar Murray are thankfully in full force, him doing reviews of both the recently-released CBGB and Max's platters that heartily fit in well with Lisa Robinson's three-page article on the very same scene that was just now being documented via vinyl! That one typically dishes out the dirt on all of the big names on the New York scene but manages to sneak a few obscuros in to sweeten the pot, but like I said long ago it was scribbling like this that made pimply BO-laden teenage girls wanna run away from home and really make it big on the LES! (You might notice that I didn't mention his mostly favorable review of a Jim Croce Greatest Hits collection...well, we can't second guess our favorites all of the time!) Of course we have to wade through pages of Julie Burchill and Tony Parsons dung droppings to get to the good stuff (though I should admit that I thought the Parsons/Paul Morley piece on the Manchester punk scene was quite gulpable), but what else would you have expected from those sniveling working-class pretenders anyway? I gotta say I like this Angie Errigo who does a few second-string articles...whatever happened to her?

The NEW YORK ROCKER I snatched up was published around the same time as the NME above and yeah, it sure does ooze the same under-the-counterculture cool with its coverage of an entire up-and-coming movement that seemed to woosh by the collective minds of teendom USA at least until it was way too late. Long before the paper was beholden to corporate interests and boasted a melange of writers both excellent (Byron Coley, Miriam Linna, Peter Holsapple...) and dire (the rest), NYR had its thumb on the pulse of the lower Manhattan rock scene and covered it about as well as one could expect given the mag's penchant for playing favorites and dismissing certain acts that I probably would have rah-rah'd to the rafters!

By this ish (#5, Dec. '76) NYR had discarded its original MIDNIGHT/TATTLER-styled layout and adopted the look it would keep until the early-eighties when the mag had been reduced to hyping the usual post-gnu wave flashes. But don't fear, for this 'un has all of the original SPIRIT and FORTITUDE that made picking up an issue a mostly pleasant educate yourself for once affair. Patti Smith and collaborator Robert Mapplethorpe take center stage this go 'round, each getting massive space and the latter an interview courtesy Victor Bokris, who I guess was kicking around even this early in the game! Some unheralded BLOG TO COMM faves as the Planets and Harry Toledo even get much-needed press via interviews where both acts get to discuss some deeply held beliefs and thoughts, some of which might even surprise you! Other faves such as Richard Hell and Wayne County also pop up, and for you old JAMZ fans Alan Betrock (one-time editor-in-chief and backbone) reviews some current more mainstream-ish pop faves like Flo and Eddie which probably won't surprise you one bit. For you English punque freaks, the always entertaining Kris Needs did a piece on the Clash which obviously was a harbinger of things to come and in case you're Imants Krumins there are the fun facts and discography regarding those Swedish claims to fame Abba to keep you more than occupied!

The whole ish only serves to remind me of the energy and hope via music as the INTERNATIONAL YOUTH LANGUAGE that was being offered to kids in the seventies that seemed to promise us a much brighter future than the ones our elders had in mind. Makes me sad to think of what is being offered to the same type of ignored and loathed kids around these days...I mean, where is the medium for them to vent their loathing via the power of sound? Sheesh, if I were a teen these days I'd either be taking the past sixty years of bared-wire intensity and filter it through modern technology to create a force to be feared, or be doped up in some institution until I'm 21 and can legally be executed. And really, sometimes I think the latter choice is the obvious better of the two!
Even a self-centered egotist such as myself must admit that there ain't that much review fodder this go 'round, but that doesn't exactly mean that I've been shirking off my doodies. I have been toiling away on this blog, REALLY, though most of my attention has been directed towards future theme-oriented posts which aren't exactly time-dated and which I can post whenever the spirit moves me or inspiration fails. The rest of the time I'm doing fine-tuning on already-published posts that might even more "awkward" than this particular one (yes, it does show). Most of the time I'm trying to make these posts as upbeat and as zoomin' at'cha as possible which can be pretty difficult when I'm undergoing yet another one of my bouts with real life that can take more than a li'l bitta the wind outta my colorectal system, but trudge on I must and I know that, in the long run, somebody's gonna make a mint on my corpse.

In order to ease the strain of such realities as work and utter fear I have been spending a few hours in front of the Dee-Vee-Dee player watching a variety of items such as the MISSION: MAGIC series which I wrote up for you a few days back. (Apologies to Bill Shute for not having cracked the MIKE HAMMER disques that he shipped my way a pretty long time ago...I wiil latch onto 'em pronto, as soon as I get enough goof off time as Beaver would say!) Of course amongst the platters I have been spinning in order to combat this rush of springtime ennui into my existence I do encounter a few that are, shall I say, not exactly within the bounds of BLOG TO COMM acceptability. And yeah, in NO WAY did I ever expect that I'd actually sit down for a viewing of that all-time wretcher SHIRLEY TEMPLE STORYBOOK but least I had a good reason to eyeball at least one episode of this early-sixties NBC schmoozer which I will tell you about in a moment but sheesh, what a blogschpieler won't do for his art!

Actually, the only reason I procured this 'un for film historian Don Fellman was because of an episode featuring the story of PIPPI LONGSTOCKING, that Swedish goof who looks like the young Patti Smith and is in possession of all sorts of strange powers coupled with a bizarre child worldview that comes off like a raw meat version of Peter Pan. Technology-wise it was interesting watching an early-sixties color videotape presentation but otherwise, between the yuck-o acting, sweetiepie story and Temple still oozing all gosh-it-all golly gee even though we all heard about what a bitch she was this show was a total drag to make it through. You might remember that MAD spoof on tee-vee series crossovers where ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS was paired with this turkey with The Master uttering an extremely guttural "yecchhh"? Well personally I'd add a few more "h"'s to his ejaculation because this was the perfect program to punish miscreant midgies with given its overwrought wholesome approach and saccharine appeal.

But why are you torturing us with such an appraisal of a program nobody who'd even bother to read this drek would care about you ask. Well, if it weren't for the appearance of Ed Wood stock player TOR JOHNSON as a sideshow wrestler who gets bested by Longstocking I certainly wouldn't have even bothered. Of course Johnson's mere presence would make me want to sit through just about anything to get to his particular scene and of course the 400-pound mound of muscle doesn't disappoint one bit esp. with his Swedish growl and cheezo acting abilities! Come to think of it, next to some of the performances found on SHIRLEY TEMPLE STORYBOOK Johnson might as well be John Barrymore...sheesh, casting really must have been scraping the bottom of the SAG for this living atrocity! If you want it bad enough, maybe your $1.06 bid the next time this turns up on ebay'll make you the proud (?) owner of your own copy!
AND after all that, here are the writeups. Yeah, I know that I should be offering you more than this pittance all-important (or is that self-important?) blogmeister that I am, but let's just say that there is a whole lot still in the gestation stage that will either see birth within the next few months or get RU-486'd more sooner than later. Maybe you should be grateful that I was able to dish out this much given the stress and strain of life, but naturally none of you care one iota and I know it! Really, I am ashamed of you all for treating ME (who is perhaps the closest thing to a living treasure that can be found in the whole of blogdom) like a flash-in-the-pan peon nobody'll remember in a good year's time, but hey I've come to expect less of you so why should I even bother bringing it up in the first place?
Henry Kaiser, Charles K. Noyes, Weasel Walter-NINJA STAR DANGER ROCK CD; Brunese-LUN YURN CD; White Suns-WAKING IN THE RESERVOIR CD (UgEXPLODE )

A three-for-one shot here, all from Weasel Walter's I think legendary ugEXPLODE label. The first of these actually does feature Walter performing with longtime West Coast fave Henry Kaiser (a guy I never really rallied for even when he was working with Bruce Anderson) and New York "downtown" legend Charles K. Noyes doing a surprisingly pretty valid (and listenable, harsh like!) bit of jazz-via-rock here that doesn't sound all brainy and honed in on a late-eighties SOUND CHOICE frame of mind. Burmese is a San Francisco-based trio who sound pretty well sunk into the nineties hard-gunch sound that sprang outta a whole lot of modes which sprang outta other modes, some of which I even paid attention to back in the eighties. Imants Krumins would love it, and who knows maybe you will too. He might also like White Suns who also tread the same post-core sphere as Burmese although with a not-so-slightly different approach that I'm sure someone who is more cued into this music could tell me about. Three pretty bizarroid surprises that you'll probably up your schnoz at but if you're in it for the sheer grate perhaps you could not do much better.
Earth People-BANG! CD (Undivided mind thru CD Baby)

Do you remember Earth People? I sure do, as if you didn't know by now. In case you don't remember, Earth People were this free jazz cum rock group that used to pop up at the Sunday night freestyle series held at the old CBGB Lounge, and they used to put up a pretty good wail of sound that I'm sure could have held its own had it appeared on the main CBGB stage not only in the twenty-first century but the prior thirtysome years as well. The wide array of free-jazz greats who served as actual Earth People from Kali Fasteau to Karen Borca to Karl Berger and a few more whose names'll come to be (Rashid Bakr?) was another reason for my ears to do a little perking, and the "no-names" in this act that was more or less "led" by drummer Andre Martinez and guitarist Doug Principato were pretty well-heeled themselves. What more do I want in a 21st century jazz-rock outfit treading on the accomplishments of the previous four decades anyway?

Earth People managed to release three good compact disques back inna day, but for some reason I passed on this 'un which was but one of a series of live platters that were planned but'll prob'ly never see the way outta the hershey tunnel. It's a good show they decided to commit to aluminum too, recorded at the FusionArt Museum in 2004 and featuring a rather decent lineup including longtime free jazz names Sabir Mateen and Francois Grillot which is something that might just snatch radar with a few of you "above-it-all" types who tuned into this blog to merely sneer, but then again I may be second guessing.

It's free jazz yet with a rather heavy rock bent to it, close to what fusion might have sounded like if it took on a more rock & roll approach 'stead of the rinkydink stylings of a Return to Forever to latch star to. In fact this might have passed as pretty bonafeed punkfunk had it made its rounds during the days of Ronald Shannon Jackson's Decoding Society and other boffo black acts trying to muscle in on the James Chance peddling free jazz to unaware suburban teens racket. Pretty straightforward, electric and downright hot stuff that not only makes me kinda angry that this group didn't go farther than it did, but that you (and I do mean YOU!) were too busy sticking your nose up some bigcity paper rock critic's ass to notice, or care.

Great sound, production and packaging which is nothing to complain about, though the use of a DR. SEUSS quote on the inner sleeve is something that did catch me off guard! Put me in the zoo indeed!

Archie's celebrating his seventieth? Sheesh, it only seems like twenty years ago I was buying up all of those books commemorating his fiftieth! I only hope that when they get to his seventy-fifth they'll reprint something other than the same familiar first appearance sagas that pop up in this and many of the various Archie reprint books that have been appearing these past thirty years.

But to be honest about it, at least Dark Horse has more on the ball than the previous Archie compilers. True the very first Archie as a 12-year-old story once again appears as well as one of two early versions(which have undoubtedly been made obsolete by the "Archie Sliding Scale") regarding the arrival of Veronica in Riverdale, but at least the editors decided to print all of the pertinent stories from the first issues of not only ARCHIE but BETTY AND VERONICA, JUGHEAD and REGGIE w/o the filler meaning that you don't have to wade through any Bumble the Bee-tective funny animal quap to get to the meat and potatoes. And what meaty morsels these are including some rare stories from ARCHIE #1 (all drawn by Bob Montana) as well as the usual guffaw-inducing tales taken from the late-forties appearance of the rest drawn by a George Frese who has none of Montana's fine workmanship but does a better-than-hack job if I do say so myself.

Surprisingly, I caught one joke in here that I'm downright startled slipped by the "approved reading" blue pencils at MLJ in a story dealing with Archie unwittingly irritating a traveling salesman on a train. When Archie's pet hen gets loose and hops into the salesman's berth thus causing havoc the guy complains to a typically 40s-esque cartoon Negro train porter that there's a chicken in his berth to which the porter responds "Well man, ah wouldn't advertise it!" (This is from the days when chicken, soon to be "chick", was hotcha slang for a member of the female gender making this a surprisingly risque sex joke snuck smack dab inna middle of what was supposed to be squeaky-clean cartoon fun and games! Sure I've seen worse, but we're talking 1942!)

Supposedly this is the first in a series reprinting the various Archie titles in chronological order and although I think I'll sit most of those out, this was a nice little indication of things that just might be coming your way.
AND IN CLOSING..., here's a recent Jim Goad column I definitely thought was good 'un, why else would I want to share it with you! I figure that a hefty number of you readers have copies of his old ANSWER ME! magazine in your abodes and (in order to "look" hip to your compadres) claim to like them immensely even if they're base enough to "offend" even all of you collective Rocco Gibraltars, but can you take him as a commentator on a right wing site spouting off a lotta things that you might find beyond-the-pale though you're always at a loss of words when you're asked to explain why. Funny thing is, I pretty much agree with a hefty portion of what he says here even if it might be the fodder to lose more than a few of my vastly dwindling compatriots, but then again what else is old? I'll let you speculate as to what I might or might not cozy up to Goad-wise, but please, if you are a typical blog-perusing radical-rousing Thomas Hobbes-rooting collectivist-supporting type of human, I do hope I've ruined your day.