Sunday, May 29, 2011

So, how did you celebrate Bob Dylan's 70th birthday? Me, I was gonna dig out some old Dylan boots (A RARE BATCH OF LITTLE WHITE WONDER does come in handy for these occasional Dylan-inspired moments) and try to act especially forlorn. Didn't get a chance to do that, but I did spend quite a lot of time thinkin' about just how strange it was back when I was a kid seeing rock stars and other relevant youth idols reflecting on what it was like to be a member of that magic generation that was turning thirty, then jetted forward to the present day only to find out that it was way more irritating seeing 'em hit the septugenarian cycle! (And what does that say about aging bloggers like myself? Not a heck of a whole lot actually!)

Got a few interesting shards to send your way this weekend, and although I know that little of it will satisfy Your Royal Pickiness just think of what people will be saying about it fifty years from now! Gee, the thought of it really does make me wanna make it into the triple-digits just so's I can bask in the glory of not only these posts but the past thirty years of my writing "career" which I know will be finally appreciated the way it should by scores of future language fanatics. Either that or maybe when the aliens do land I'll finally have some copasetic communicators who will understand my scribings to the fullest extent and with whom I could exchange pretty high energy transmissions! Well, it's a whole lot better'n getting half-braincelled responses from dolts who wonder why I don't post any mp3's!

Anyway, here's the flotsam:
Fireballet-Two, Too LP (Passport)

Brad Kohler gave this to me for a present and all that gracious me can utter is...some present! But then again what can you say about a rekkid with a cover featuring five beefy New Jersey longhairs prancin' around in tutus (complete with cutout paper doll decorating the enclosed lyrics insert!) other'n "these guys really must've been tryin' very hard t' get noticed!" Of course their plan didn't work which is why Brad rescued this from a Salvation Army bin just so I could write it up on my blog and make mincemeat outta the thing in my patented snarling style, right???

But hey, in progressive rock circles this album (their second, meaning that they actually cut a first one!) is considered hot patooties. I guess that somewhere out there people still have a soft spot in their hearts for symphonic prog rock played on esoteric percussion and every kind of electronic keyboard advertised in the pages of DOWN BEAT. Fortunately I don't tend to hang around in those kind of circles even if some blokes out there like to tag acts like Roxy Music and Can as progressive rock indicating that the term is big enough to hold the likes of them and Gentle Giant without bursting at the seams, but as far as Fireballet goes all I can hear are sweet Association harmonies (at times sped up) performed to some of the more technically precise (and therefore dud-like) mid-seventies progspew that has that typical "look how smart we are" look and feel that was pretty common at the time. Toss in a few classical swipes here 'n there which might have worked for Frank Zappa in the sixties but faded well beyond cliche by the time this 'un popped onto the radar and what have you got? A pretty boring way to spend a good 45 minutes of your life!

Heck, even a cover of the Left Banke/Montage classic "Desiree" done with seventies techno-flash can't help this DOA effort out. But the album as a whole did help make me even more homesick for the seventies, which is why as soon as the tone arm rejected this dribble I slapped some Rocket From The Tombs on if only to resensify myself as to what that decade held as far as the promise of high energy jamz replacing this garbage! Buy yourself a copy and you too will find those Talking Heads albums soundin' a whole lot better, and more meaningful while yer at it!
Max Roach duos with Archie Shepp and Anthony Braxton-THE LONG MARCH 4-LP set (hat ART)

Thursday's review of WE INSIST! actually made me feel guilty enough to dig this four-LP live set out which features beyond-legendary drummer Max Roach in duo situations with equally beyondos Archie Shepp and Anthony Braxton, and considering how NOTHING can instill a sense of shame into me these days this really is sayin' somethin'! Can't say that ignorin' this four-record set (sheesh, when I was a kid I only thought Elvis Presley and Chicago were worthy of the quadruple-disc treatment!) was exactly a smarty thing to do on my part but hey, this '79 live sesh does do everybody involved proud. The sides with Shepp evoke the hard and deep emotion that's always been a part of his (and Roach's) entire young and angry black image even when they became old and crotchitier, and it drives on with that rage certainly not being kept in tow as the echoes of Coltrane bounce about even longer. On the Braxton sides Roach gets into a more small-percussion-y setting showing that the man could attune himself not only to bebop or swing but AACM-styled intricacies while Braxton does well on his usual gear ranging from contrabass clarinet to sopranino saxophone. Fantastic enough but I think this would have been more exciting had Roach teamed up with one of the more freer AACM players such as Henry Threadgill or Roscoe Mitchell. But wishful thunk aside this must've been a pretty wild gig all over and thankfully one outta bazillions that's been preserved if only that nth-raters like myself have something to write about!.
The Velvet Underground-APRIL SOUNDS bootleg CD (Verve, Germany)

You can tell that I'm getting desperate for booty to purchase if I have to resort to this collection of recently-unearthed Velvet Underground recordings that have been flying around in different forms o'er the past three or so years. Oh well, at least this is a good place to get under one roof more/less the entire Gymnasium show as well as the long-circulated take of  "Guess I'm Falling In Love" from the '81 John Cale radio interview. And how could I forget that the crafty bootleggers even included those tracks from that VELVET UNDERGROUND AND NICO acetate that eventually got re-recorded for the official release. If you don't have these now's the time, but dontcha think we're just about due for some fresh archival goodies headin' our way? Bootleggers, bust open them vaults!
The Crummy Fags-FOUNTAIN LOUNGE, AKRON OHIO 7/17/84 cassette tape

A recent dig into a box of cassettes unearthed this gem, a short but oh so sweet recording of an '84 gig by one of Akron's better bands of that decade who went under the fantastico moniker the Crummy Fags. I mentioned these guys on this blog once before in the course of a Spin Age Blasters review with regard to the fact that not only did both of these bands cop their name from Electric Eels songs but they swiped more'n a few ideas from the fervid imaginations of Dave E. and John Morton in the process. However, while the Spin Age Blasters were a relatively new discovery, I've been aware of the Crummy Fags for quite some time thanks to the likes of Jim Clinefelter and Bob Forward, two chaps who were more'n happy to help spread the word and thus educate lumpen proles like myself as to the majestic beauty of these guys who were also busy with other acts (perhaps the names Randy Russell and Johnny Phlegm mean something to you!) but didn't mind joining forces in order to keep the spirit of Northeast Ohio avant garage rock alive!

During their lifetime the Fags "released" a number of ltd. edition cassettes including one that was the soundtrack for an experimental film of Russell's entitled THE MONARCH BUTTERFLY STORY.  I recall that this particular production was pretty spasmodic indeed especially when the melody began taking on airs of various post-Velvets watermarks that thankfully still echoed the late-seventies underground smack dab inna center of the eighties doldrums. I have these tapes somewhere amidst about 35 years of collected crapola and naturally will spend more'n an inordinate amt. of time searchin' 'em out, but for now at least I have this typical recorded-inna-audience gem to soothe me until the tapes DO pop up or a Crummy Fags Cee-Dee release makes its way to my door.

Typifying the Electric Eels' entire reason-for-throbbing, the Fags plow their way through their songs with Eel-like anti-aplomb cranking out their tuneage with the same heavy-thud stylings of their mentors and more, even to the point where one bemused fan remarks "Bernie Joelson lives!" (referring to the famed Bernie of Invisibles/avant garage fame) after a particularly cold stop to one of the numbers. Covers of "Agitated" and "I Wanna Be Your Dog" will give you an idea of the group's er, aesthetic nature perhaps doin' their influences even prouder the way the lyrics to the former get all mangled and how the latter does NOT sound one bit like one of the billion lame eighties/nineties "homages" I've had the misfortune to hear these past few decades.

What I really like about the Crummy Fags is that these guys weren't one of those watered-down eighties acts that always came off like carbon-copies (faded at that) compared to the various sixties/seventies innovators who seemed like the end-all for rock 'n' roll as that International Youth Language high energy up-against-the-wall form of expression CREEM magazine used to tell us about. The way they mish-mosh seventies thud punk and overall eighties stupidity in a way that actually does appeal to someone like myself actually has me thinkin' of Death, not the all-black punk bunch that's been gettin' the royal carpet treatment on the reissue circuit but that Milwaukee aggregation who were pretty primal in their own fashion and boasted of having James Chance as an auxiliary member. It's sure nice to know that something like the Crummy Fags could have been up and running during a time when underground rock sure wasn't as enticing as it once was and in fact had become downright putrid! Sheesh, I wonder why I never thought of puttin' 'em on the cover of my own rag, and at a time when I'm pretty positive that they coulda used some moolah-making publicity, since I know that ish woulda been an immediate hit with you readers out there who were looking for something a little more exciting!!!

Haven't spun this 'un in quite awhile which is a shame considering how we all could use a whole lot more Kim Fowley in our lives and, come to think of it, a whole lot less Lady Caga (to name an easy target which of course would never hit the object of scorn the way I'm sure many of you would like it to). Yeah, I know that for many of you the name Kim Fowley conjures up images of slick hype, bandwagon jumping, total disdain for the fans and of course the legendary MASSIVE EGO, but since I've never been face-to-face with the man and haven't experienced his self-promoting ways firsthand well, maybe you should forgive me if I still find him quite the charmer, the modern day Uncle Dudley as I said in the third issue of a certain crudzine that shall remain nameless.

Purporting to actually be bastard child Kim Fowley Jr., Fowley seems to be way more in tune with the then-current trend in minimalism than one would have expected from a forty-plus bandwagon-jumper who's had more'n a few fingers in way too many pies (and take that any way you wish!). But hey, he plays it as cool as Lou Reed as Fowley takes ideas from everybody from Suicide to Nurse With Wound (!) and makes it all sound like 1962 teenage filtered through 1981 El Lay sleaze with the help of everybody from Moxie regular Rich LaBonte to what was supposed to be that new Runaways ("class of '84") who do more than ample work trying to capture the spirit of the age while leaving all of the smarm behind (or at least taking that smarm and putting it to pretty good use!).

I really can't capture for you what makes this platter such a success, from the pseudo-musical backing (backwards tracks and sparse synth bleats amongst 'em) to Fowley's generally detached speak/sing which, like the work of Black Flag and Fear, exposes a side of Southern California that most wish would have remained unseen. If Kenneth Anger had a band in the seventies it might've sounded like this, only with more references to Crowley and Icarus than anybody out there could imagine.

And to think that Fowley did this for the Moxie label, a company best known for a wide variety of garage band compilations that, although exemplary in their selection, were considered shoddy in their execution even though thirty-two years back we hadda take what we could get and they didn't seem like that raw a deal even if those pressings were, shall we say, rather chance-y. Some day I wouldn't mind hearing the entire story behind this one, but given what I know about Fowley it probably won't be revealed until archaeologists uncover the third strata of the Hollywood Dynasty some time during the reign of The Pharoah Stiv.
Uh, like see you in June.

Thursday, May 26, 2011


Hokay, fergit about Abbey Lincoln playing into the hands of white Ameriga with her beyond-dignified film roles performing alongside such equally-stoic actors as Ivan Dixon and Sidney Poitier who also did their fair share of hand-playing. And while you're also at it ferget about Max Roach's heavy-duty communist proclivities* and twisted takes on the Ugly American image abroad** which might have shamed us in the seventies but  naturally we have matured since. Yeah, don't let those major detours in movie roles or political piety run amok sway your opinion no matter how hard you try especially regarding this jazz wonder which does a whole passel of things that needed to be done and at a time when doing such things wasn't exactly the best way to get your pic on the cover of TIME. And when I say "needed" I mean it, from bridging the bebop era and the avant garde to predating the entire Yoko Ono reason for being and (of course) driving the late-sixties African heritage resolution into total abandon a good decade or so before even white guys with affected bopster inflections began wearing dashikis! And hey, this was being done when some thought that all jazz was was that "cool" beatnik bopster attitude that Maynard G. Krebs used to lovingly dish out to midwestern unawares on a weekly basis via the espousal of Kingston Trio albums! Gotta love that Gilligan!!!

Nice realization of the young 'n tough black here, loads better'n today's gangsta mentality (Afro-America goes watered-down outrage thirty years after white America did the exact same thing!) complete with an early-sixties freshness to it that I guess instilled in blacks nationwide the hopes that perhaps there would be a black president in their lifetime (and if they lived into 1992 boy were they lucky!). And a great platter here too with Roach fully in charge of the highly percussive outing which not only teeters between fifties cool and sixties "new thing", but on "Triptych" actually goes all the way over into the atonal shape-of-things-to-come as Lincoln does her proto-Ono/Waters moans to Roach on drums and drums only creating a force that I remember sure knocked me for a loop the first time I managed to hear it (via they actually were gonna play this in between the usual Return to Forever spew?) on WKSU-FM at about three in the morning way back '83 way.

Can't think of a single flaw or fault with the thing ('cept for some obv. faint praise like "there just ain't enough of it!") from the inclusion longtime jazz fixture outside of the avant garde but boy does he fit in here Coleman Hawkins on "Driva' Man" and percussionist icon Olatunjii (not to forget the soon-to-die Booker Little, teenage jazz trumpeter virtuoso!) to the kind of music that used to get brainy pseudo-intellectual college students rushing to nearby thesauruses to describe their approval in even more vivid terms. Not to mention the entire feel and attitude which you don't have to be black to understand or enjoy in its easily revealed joy. In fact it's pretty inspiring lending ear to a track like "All Africa" where Lincoln hypnotically chants the names of various tribes to an equally trance-like proto-Art Ensemble of Chicago burundi beat. And "Tears for Johannesburg" has more deep-down grief and despair to it that anything I can think of that was being performed at the dawn of the sixties jazz upheaval.Well, a handy play of this and Coltrane's AFRICA BRASS is a whole lot more interesting in black historical terms than learning 'bout George Washington Carver making peanut butter or Marion Anderson singing at the Washington Monument!

Wanna hear it? Wanna not pay exorbitant prices for a fresh copy??? If so, you can download the entire thing here and put yourself outta misery for good!

*Roach was, along with Archie Shepp and maybe Charles Mingus (who might not have been able to make it if memory serves) part of an ad hoc group that recorded a live album for the Italian Communist Party the day after Mao died as a way to express their sorrow at the event even when millions of Chinese were probably heaving a heavy sigh of relief! Besides that, what real fan could forget his quadruple-LP set THE LONG MARCH recorded with Shepp and Anthony Braxton which I'll have to dig out one of these days just so's I can lay down another review of it for you!

**In the course of a late-seventies DOWN BEAT interview (and while wearing a stylish leather jacket I might add), Roach managed to get onto one of the soapiest of boxes I could imagine regarding American Xenophobia due the fact that in Scandinavia meat dishes are sometimes served up raw! The well-known drummer used this obvious fact to somehow prove, at least to DOWN BEAT's easily shame-able readers, the undisputed fact that the American mind is a narrow-mind, at least when it comes to the world around us which might have suited Swedes proud of their homegrown dishes plenty but only made me think about the benefits of home grill.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Well, don't expect that much. Not that you ever do, but let's just say that this week the lack of the long green coupled with the absence of any hotcha archival reissued material headed our way really is taking a toll on the whole BLOG TO COMM reason for being! And given this has been one of the worst seasons for any significant archival material within my recollection I get the feeling that things aren't gonna be gettin' better any day soon. Now don't get me wrong, that there are still a number of good rockin' and rollin' acts out there who are more'n apt to neuter your neurons (some of which have been reviewed on this blog within recent weeks if not months), but a li'l bird keeps tellin' me that it ain't the same as it was in 1976 when the arrival of the Modern Lovers album was being hailed as the greatest event in rockism since Cass Elliot decided to have a rather hard-to-digest midnight snack!

Lotsa water's run under the bridge since then and, sad to say, lots of the primal urge has left the music along with it. I could feel the loss of "vibes" as early as '85 when I was just hoping for a powerful underground resurgence, but at least back then there were some vestigial organs left in the music even if they weren't as obvious to me as they are here in the teens. But since there's no reason to stay up late or pose for Leee's camera at Max's like there was forty years back I'm not gonna be predicting any great return to the bared-wire underground avant-putsch that sorta filtered Burroughs through Link Wray and came out the Velvet Underground. (I won't let the fact that there ain't even a Max's to pose at anymore get in the way. Maybe that sex club where Club 82 used to be...) Yes, the energy has left the ozone ages back to the point where everything from music to entertainment (and life in general) has lost all of the verve and swivel it sure had when I was a mere toddler and really had a lifetime of fun and games to look forward to. And if you think that Moon Duo (to pick an up-and-comer in the hip realm off the top of my rather shiny head) is gonna save us from anything I'm afraid you're even more deluded than I sized you up to be.

For now the only thing I'm runnin' on is the old tried 'n true, and with a good 35-plus years worth of it in the abode it's not like I'm gonna be hungerin' for anything else for quite a long time I'll betcha! True I sure could stand a listen to another forgotten New York obscurity, the kind that played the CBGB/Max's/Club 82 circuit for a short spell before vamoosing for parts unknown, but unless some hapless ex-band member reads this and dubs every note his failed act recorded for me I guess my chances are slim. At least there's a plethora of long-forgotten wares just ruminatin' in the collection that deserve a pick up and re-listen, and for the time being I guess that's just what's gonna be in store here at BLOG TO COMM central.

If you have any other ideas well, you always know who the enemies are, and you can dial up their blogs just as easily as you did mine!
Oliver Lake-HEAVY SPIRITS CD (Black Lion Germany)

If you read my review of NTU: POINT FROM WHICH CREATION BEGINS a few months back you'd already know my feelings 'bout the man. The strange thing is, for a free player whom I've previously been rather feh towards howcum I seem to be liking more and more of these mid-seventies offerings? Seventy-five's HEAVY SPIRITS is a lot better than I originally remembered it to be, with Lake not only playing pretty scranky (well, can you think of a better word?) whether in the company of some standard free players or even a string duo that reminds me of Charles Tyler on ESP. Disque closer "Rocket", complete with the backing of trombonist Joseph Bowie and Human Arts Ensemble reg'lar Charles Bobo Shaw, seems to be yet another one of those end-alls w/regards to the outer limits of seventies free-play that were so genre-crashing that Lester Bangs even thought they were nothing but jokes!. Best part about it is that you're gonna have a lotta pocket change left over after you latch onto a copy for yourself (with careful ebay scouring, that is).

NRBQ always seemed like a "funny" kinda band to me and not exactly in the haw haw or "strange" fashion either! More like "unh?" Or howzbout "er" or "hmmh" while we're at it. Back when their albums were plugging up the cutout bins my teenage brain had 'em pegged as being one of those early-seventies eclecto bands that only herniated ROLLING STONE critics might have found some enjoyment in, but then again their mix of fifties re-do, white-kid blooze and Sun Ra covers had me thinkin' perhaps NRBQ had more on the ball'n the rest of those long haired seventies eclectic types that bored me to pieces. And you know what, I was right (as usual).

You could say that NRBQ burrowed too deep into the font of seventies jazz-blues retrostyle just custom-made for equally tight-anal'd seventies collegeboy rompers. Then again you could say that Parke Puterbaugh is a well-honed and insightful rock critic and either way you would be wrong. Frankly, you couldn't be wronger than to ignore NRBQ because you thought they were some never-were bunch that couldn't break outta the club circuit if their life depended on it. These guys were the seventies conscious of geeky teenage trash Amerigan Groovies (whom NRBQ come aesthetically close to on occasion) or alla them acts that used to clutter up the stage of Max's Kansas City even before a name was given to this consciousness, and they sure fit into my ideals and passions more'n anything being catered to me as of late I'll tell ya!

OK, maybe the more "trad" blues/jazz numbers on this best of the Columbia years collection do have some of that seventies bar-rock mentality to it,  but for the most part the band swings fine from Groovieized fifties thumpers ("C'mon Everybody") to Sun Ra's "Rocket #9" to Bruce Chanel, doofified gospel and even a rockin' li'l Three Stooges ditty which sure hones me in to lost UHF television pleasures like nothing since SNOOPER AND BLABBER. Maybe it was their eclecticism that did 'em in not to mention their love of the same fifties/sixties tee-vee/baby boom gulcher that ultimately doomed everybody from the Dictators and myself in the face of modern-day "relevancy", but NRBQ had the chops and smarts to have released some mighty hotcha numbers that fortunately are easily enough to track down. And at least for that I salute 'em, even if they shoulda been a whole lot more omnipresent on the late-seventies underground scene than they unfortunately were because like, they did "fit in".

My burrows deeper and deeper into the BLOG TO COMM vaults has yielded yet another obscuro, mainly this live recording of a concert featuring the meeting of two titans of 20th-century doo-wah music at a Coney Island sideshow of all places! Dunno whose idea it was to match the whiteness of John Cage with Sun Ra's astro-black visions but considering how both of 'em were major twisters and shakers in what used to be known as the "avant garde" maybe a performance by the two alternating between hot free-jazz spasms and epiglottal mutterings is something that would seem the "end all" in just what music as it stood was all about. Or at least music as it stood as far as being not just on the edge but way over it would mean to way too many of us more concerned with the sound between the notes, if you know what I mean...

Nothing revelatory here and I'm positive that members of both camps will find more'n a few bugs and errors here but I do think it's rather charming in its own way. What it was, was Ra playing electronic paradoodles on his keyboard for a spell followed by Cage doing more of those late-eighties throaty singing which sounds rather post-tracheal, kinda like listening to Lon Chaney Jr. talking during his final years. Major gaps of silence pervade Cage's segments as well. Then in comes Ra with more of his atonal scronks and screeks jolting you back into a more er, urban frame of mind.

Well, it's a footnote to the careers of two guys who certainly helped me listen to music with more'n my AM-radio ears attuned. And hey, if you think the whole idea of putting Ra and Cage on the same stage was kinda misguided in the first place well, I gotta admit that the concept does sound as screwy as all of those DC/Marvel crossovers that we've seen since the late-seventies!
Guru Guru-30 JAHRE LIVE 3-CD set (Captain Trip, Japan)

No, no, PLEASE don't let me listen to the first two disques of this set which feature nothing but Guru Guru leader Mani Neumaier along with the most recent incarnation of his group (that I know of) boring me outta my brain with the aid of former Can-sters Damo Suzuki and Michael Karoli amongst various krautrock wannabes! Just let me spin the third one recorded in Frankfurt 1971 at the height of the group's once-infinite power. Here the trio of Neumaier, bassist Uli Trepte and guitarist Ax Genrich live up to that old claim made in the German SOUNDS magazine about having the humor of Country Joe and the Fish and the power and energy of the Stooges, or at least something along those rather tasty lines. Fantastic show here with Genrich cranking out some mighty fine chords worthy of '69 Asheton along with some rather acidic moments that kinda remind me of Jimi undergoing a famous Jewish operation without the painkiller dabbled onto his own personal wah-wah. Some moves taken from WL/WH-period Velvet Underground can be detected as well. Too bad the group eventually fizzed out to the point where even EUROCK couldn't stand their stuff anymore, and they seemed to like just about everything that was continental!
Brad Kohler received the spare copy of Sandy Bull's third and perhaps least album (which only goes to show you how good the others were!) for Vanguard E PLURIBUS UNUM safe and sound last week, and what's more he seemed to have liked it enough to save it for those late-night introverted moments we all have. Funny thing, I always seem to save PERSIAN SURGERY DERVISHES for those humid summer nights, the kind that brew tornados and thunderstorms that wake you up at three AM, but to each his own. Good for him that he's now a fan of Bull's, and good for us as well that this trailer for the Sandy Bull documentary is now up and running on the web which is why I've embedded it into my own blog! Did it just so's you can watch it yourself and see why I've come to enjoy the music of Bull perhaps even more than that of fellow sixties stringbenders John Fahey and Robbie Basho! Don't think this's gonna exactly be available via Starz any time soon so, as they used to say, keep your eyes peeled when it hits the nearest chi chi filmfest near you!

Saturday, May 21, 2011


Remember when you were a kid and you'd see some young and winsome lass at the supermarket or department store saddled with an infant or toddler in tow and no signs of da-da in sight? I sure do, and I always recall that the single mom would often look at her bastid progeny and point out that the kid was, in her own words, her big mistake. I often wondered what she meant, unaware ten-year-old that I was, but as time went by and more ABC MOVIES OF THE WEEK began exploring controversial subject matter the wronged one's words began to make more and more sense.

Well, MY big mistake, other than thinking that I was a writer with something unique to add to the milieu of musical knowledge who could actually compete with the likes of such esteemed colleagues as Chuck Eddy or Gerard Cosloy, was the creation and execution of this (how shall I say) crudzine of mine! A 'zine which, sad to say, hasn't exactly lit up the world of rock screeding like I might have expected it to during some of the loftier moments in my life! P'haps if the writing was a little more probing and not as socio-politically offensive as it had been it woulda BLACK TO COMM might've succeeded, but as time tells the entire kitten caboodle really didn't live up to any expectations on my part. Or yours, for that matter.

Really, I gotta hand it to the post-post-moderne day underground music rag readers who see nothing wrong with the concept of men engaging in incest with their five-year-old daughters or the exploration of all forms of sexual avenues available to 'em, yet shudder at the bared-nail writings of mine, at least when they take on a moralistic tone that does not suit them unless they can use it against an enemy. But anyhow, I'm stuck with a whole load of these fanzines which I sure thought would have sold better'n they obviously didn't, and I am (once again) posting this list of available back issues in the hope that somebody somewhere out there doesn't know about me or my rag's bad reputation and just might help take some of this albatross off the back of my neck!

Anyway, all prices paid in the US of Whoa. Elsewhere write me (via the comment section...won't print 'em of course) for postage rates which I will zing back to you only if you leave me your email address (and promise not to circulate mine). Paypal is an option that can be worked out. Otherwise, mail all checks, money orders of the US variety and cash (ditto) to Christopher Stigliano and send 'em to 701 North Hermitage Road, Suite 23, Hermitage, PA  16148 USA.

BLACK TO COMM #14-Early 1989. Featuring part one of the Ron Asheton interview, a nice though could be much better given all the information discovered since piece on the Deviants, an article on Peter Laughner's Cinderella Backstreet, the Seeds and Charlemagne Palestine. $6.00

BLACK TO COMM #17-Early '90. The first of the "big" issues (74 pages) has a cover story/interview with Scott Morgan and Gary Rasmussen from the old Scott Morgan band. Also inside's an interview with Borbetomagus' Donald Miller as well as one , skimpy at that, with Maureen Tucker, not to mention pieces on Fish Karma (who I liked until hearing his overly-preachy kiss kiss moosh anti-gun song entitled "God Bless The NRA"), the Dogs (from Detroit, not the French ones or the Flamin' Groovies for that matter!), Rocket From the Tombs (with loads of old photos and the like, some never seen before or since!), the top 25 of heavy metal, METAL MACHINE MUSIC, a piece on the then-new proto-punk reissues and archival digs of the day and the usual reviews and news. $7.00.

BLACK TO COMM #21-From November '94. A VON LMO cover story and interview grace this ish, as do interviews with Metal Mike Saunders, Brian McMahon (Electric Eels) and rockabilly star Ronnie Dawson, plus you can read much-desired items on the Trashmen, Velvet Underground and Hawkwind like I knew you would! Not to mention a piece on the infamous TEENAGE WASTELAND GAZETTE fanzine! $8.00.

BLACK TO COMM #24- From spring 2001. This issue's cover feature's a nice interview with Doug Snyder of DAILY DANCE/Sick Dick and the Volkswagens fame, plus there are interviews with the Dogs (Detroit) and Greg Shaw, a piece on the old CAN'T BUY A THRILL fanzine and the usual feature-length reviews and the like. $9.00.

BLACK TO COMM #25-The latest (December 2003), 162 pages brimming with such goodies as a New York City Scene history (featuring interviews with Max's Kansas City's Peter Crowley and Ruby Lynn Reyner from Ruby and the Rednecks plus pieces on coverboys the New York Dolls and VARIETY scene-booster Fred Kirby), an interview with J. D. King (Coachmen, comix) plus one with guitarist Lou Rone, who would probably be best known to you as leader of the early CBGB-era band Cross as well as one-time guitarist for both Kongress and VON LMO, the Screamin' Mee-Mees, CRETINOUS CONTENTIONS, Simply Saucer rare photos, family tree and gigography, rare fanzines of the Golden Age (and more), tons of book and record reviews (which make up the bulk of this ish!), plus a CD with live Simply Saucer 1975, the Coachmen, The Battleship, Ethel with David Nelson Byers and Ruby and the Rednecks. $12.00

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


With the spirit of John Cage in my soul and the lack of folding money in my wallet I decided to do something rather peculiar and different. I stuck my hand into a box of Cee-Dees stashed in my closet and decided to review the first disque that I picked, just as long as it wasn't something that I already reviewed in this blog and would spin on one of my various fickle players.

After two tries what should pop up but this obscuro classic which I don't think I mentioned in these "pages" before, a collection of classic sides by the English group the Smoke (not to be confused with any other acts of the same name). I first heard about 'em when Greg Shaw reviewed a '76 reissue of their material on the short-lived Gull label, while Jymn Parrett's writeup in the final issue of DENIM DELINQUENT where he mentioned getting this from Stooges fanclub president Harald Inhulsen really whetted my whistle to be corny 'bout it! And who but the most curmudgeonly of readers wouldn't admit that with recommendations from these two fanzine giants how could I go wrong? At least I was getting my recommendations on a seventies fan-based level 'stead of a current everybody knows about this stuff awlready rah-rah which I must admit feels a whole lot better because back then hardly anybody knew worth crap and when the likes of Shaw and Parrett spouted words, they were words of gold!

Goin' into this cold-like I can't tell you exactly which tracks came from albums or b-sides or were previously unreleased but whatever the situation is these twenty tracks hold up cohesive-like as a fine example of late-sixties English pop-psychedelic rock. Nothing as raucous as what was happening on the stages of Middle Earth or Happening 44 but a whole lot more satisfying than the expected sudsy housewife fodder that was getting the big BBC push.

Naturally the hit starts things off, a good hard wah romper with the standard sneaky LSD reference that was obv. gonna get 'em bounced off the radio (they later tried the same giggly sneakaroonie on "Have Some More Tea" which didn't work that time!). The rest have a great '67 cheeze pop style that sounds like almost-there Creation/John's Children musings that are still trying to appeal to the ironed-hair/gum wrapper chain teenage gal crowd. And y'know what, it holds up as a cohesive whole (even for cohesive holes like myself) as it teeters between teenybop and freakbeat perhaps alienating both camps but 45 years later is it really gonna matter?

All I care about right now's the extremely CHOCOLATE SOUP-ish "Sydney Gill" and his fanciful dream machine, not forgetting their take on the Dirty Wurds' sixties punk legend "Universal Vagrant" and hey, what was "Victor Henry's Cool Book" all about anyway? Betcha it had some pretty hot pix in it, but even if you aren't a peep-thriller you should find something of worth on MY FRIEND JACK, unless you tuned in looking for CLASSIC ROCK DRIBBLES or some similar-minded blog by mistake. Y'know, it has happened before.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Due to the recent day-long blogger outage which gobbled up a rather giganto portion of what was to have been my typical weekend post (well, it was my fault since I kept peckin' away at the keyboard ignoring that "unable to save draft" warning thinkin' it would eventually go away!), there probably will not be as much hard and pertinent info being spouted off this weekend as I personally would have liked. Well, I will give it the ol' college try as far as  being typically long-winded, stodgy and irrelevant about just everything that passes for living here in 2011 goes, but it just won't be the same as what I originally had in store for ya. Oh man, and I was just champing at the bit waiting to regale you with all of these wacky zingers wothy of Paul Lynde on HOLLYWOOD SQUARES as well as the usual insight I put into each and every one of my posts with the same dedication as the man who gets all of those tiny little tea leaves into a bag of Tetley! I'm sure you'll understand because really, if it weren't for BLOG TO COMM where else would you get your hefty dose of watered-down imitation seventies-styled gonz writing done in an even more debased and crudzine-ish way, hunh?
Led Zepplin (no sic)-KASHMIR bootleg LP (Berkeley)

This 'un, along with an equally worn copy of the first Good Rats album, is a rather-recent flea market acquisition which I must admit surprises even myself! Well, at least it does considering how I rarely if ever pour through stacks of such garage sale booty like I did back when I was on the lookout for that forever elusive Thirteenth Floor Elevators album that I thought just hadda be out there in used record land! Believe-you-me, I don't even want to LOOK at another VOICE OF FIRESTONE Christmas album or WEST SIDE STORY soundtrack as long as I live, but for some strange occult reason I was drawn to this particular carton of longplayers and actually bought a couple of 'em just to like, have yet another Zep bootleg and Good Rats album in my already-bursting collection!

You shoulda seen it...this old fogey hippie type (who's probably my age!) was pushing Steely Dan 12-inch singles and Eagles albums with those flimsy Taiwan sleeves on me telling me how great they were, me keeping a straight face the entire time trying not to let on that I'm not exactly whatcha'd call a fan or follower of "classic rock" one iota! Well, I guess since this guy ended up getting my moolah he's the one who's probably doing all the snickering but hey, I'm not complainin' because once all's said and done I actually kinda like this!

Recorded live in the audience at a May '75 gig at Earls Court (y'know, one of those shows which MELODY MAKER used to hype on their covers in x-large font so's to clue in their prog rock readership as to where they should dump their pences!), the sound is surprisingly professional, and although the entire show ain't here it at least should suit people out there who are at least looking for a taste. And as far as the overall performance goes well...I did sit through the entire thang w/o having to be committed to the Chuck Eddy Rest Home for Unrepentant Failed Rockscribes which obviously says something! In fact, this writer actually liked the John Paul Jones workout entitled "No Quarter" where the group's bass guitarist and least visible member gets to show off his keyboard prowess sounding like a good kraut band circa 1971 trying to imitate Pink Floyd circa '69 which really ain't as bad as it sounds. Even typical seventies tossaways like "Tangerine" (which I thought was gonna be the old Helen O'Connell song...boy was I surprised!) and the title track were bearable enough that I didn't feel like ripping the disc off the turntable mid-play. The rest is well...."there", but I didn't feel reamed over the deal which is one good thing even if the folks at Berkeley didn't use the entirety of "Dazed and Confused" from whence the track "Woodstock" came like you think they shoulda.

But after all's said, done and filed into the crate next to all of those other bootleg platters I've picked up over the past thirtysome years, I gotta admit that KASHMIR actually was "enjoyable" enough (a "keepie" even!), though given just how low rock as some credible form of teenage passion has sunk all these years later even a total waste of a band like Yes would sound glorious next to today's pablum brigade! In one way this doesn't say much, but in another it says about all you can about today's snooze-filled world and you better believe it!

I missed out on the big New Zealand as the New Liverpool movement of the late-eighties not necessarily out of apathy, but out of lack of cash. Other than the Verlaines and Membranes (which I got only because I used to be on a whole hunk of mailing lists which I will admit really helped finance those early issues of BLACK TO COMM...take that, Homestead!) alla them Flying Nun albums that aware and socially-minded collage-age kids used to swoon over had totally wooshed right past me. Not that I particularly cared about missing out on the New Zealand scene (after all, the eighties were more or less the decade when under-the-counterculture music began to take on the same aura of nil that the mainstream had been emitting since the late-sixties) but I will admit that I'd still like to hear that one NZ-bred platter that Chuck Eddy reviewed in the pages of THE VILLAGE (retch!) VOICE back '87 way (the one he compared to the likes of Syd Barrett and the Velvet Underground), not because I would particularly like it but I sure would like to refresh myself as to just what a dull miasma of low-energy mewling the eighties had wrought!

Don't know if the Drongos actually fit into this particular NZ rock movement. Especially considering how these particular New Zealanders had re-located to En Why See in the very-early portion of that decade and had lived and breathed in that particular cesspool for at least a good five or so years before whatever happened to them eventually did. And besides, the Drongos don't exactly have that NZ sound to 'em, reminding me more of the likes of the kind of groups that were coming outta lower Manhattan just around the time that scene had lost all of its seventies energy and was wandering around trying to latch onto something new, still trying to fit in with a late-seventies sense of new wave smart but doing it in a gnu wave world. Perhaps out of time, yet something that with a little twee added here and precociousness added there became alt rock and for that maybe we should all stone 'em to death!

All kidding aside at least the Drongos were able to whip up some smart pop numbers and white Australasian funk moves even if their overall well-scrubbed squeakiness made 'em a little more palatable'n the droves of those Talking Head imitators who were making the rounds. Bright and poppy and melodic, but thankfully the saccharine level had been reduced a little bit to the point where you're thinking more NYC '78 than Athens '86. With a little darkness added they coulda come up with something as stark as the early Comateens or even Nervus Rex, but for what they were doing and when they were doing it maybe the Drongos should be given a hand at least for not coming up with an approach that was as dry and as anti-rock as some of the music that was coming outta the land of sheep and squishy socialism. Well, at least that's what I could gander from what little I did hear, and somehow I don't think anybody out there could alter my opinion one iota!
Doug Snyder and Bob Thompson-ROBOTS cassette (New Frontiers)

Most BLOG TO COMM readers (at least the ones who ain't a buncha pansies who got oh so offended over what I write like old maids with blue pencils as they used to say) are well aware of the shutter-rock classic DAILY DANCE,  a 1972 recording by the duo of Doug Snyder and Bob Thompson which successfully merged the concepts of the even-newer free jazz thing with o-mind rock ending up somewhere in between FUNHOUSE and the late-seventies no wave experiments which owed more'n a few nods to Snyder and Thompson's effort. As "time" has proved DAILY DANCE was a pretty on-target u-ground rockist effort, one that ranks up there with PARADIESWARTS DUUL and HERE COME THE WARM JETS as some of the best early-seventies faux Velvet Undergroundisms recorded by guys who weren't geeky short-haired Bostonians singing about being in love with the Modern World which I guess sez somethin' purty important!

The subsequent Snyder/Thompson efforts didn't exactly ooze rah-rah's outta the same people who waxed eloquent over DANCE, what with their more electronic sound (not in the sixties Velvetist speak so common during the day) and comparatively clean natures. I even get the feeling that most of you readers who were titfed on Snyder and Thompson's early-seventies guitar/drum duels had pretty much written the pair off as having succumbed to the clean eighties rock streak which had watered down more than a passel o' once-potent seventies visionaries. Well tough turds to thee, for I gotta admit to liking the dickens out of the various post-DAILY DANCE efforts of Snyder either on his lonesome or in the company of his longtime percussionist pal. And ROBOTS is just one of these faves of mine, right up there with THE RULES OF PLAY, the Sick Dick and the Volkswagens tape, TOUCAN SMILES and maybe even THE CONVERSATION which I sure wish I had readily available considering how the only copy I have is an ancient cassette tape dubbed for me by one Mr. Bill Shute, a name that should ring a bell with you somehow.

This tape reminds me some other bright lights in the eighties canon recorded by seventies underground rockers, mainly the first O-Type tape which had MX-80 backbone Bruce Anderson and Dale Sophiea doing some insane quasi-metallic hard lope with a wailing wall of guitar sound playing against rhythm machine cadences. True ROBOTS has that eighties MIDI sound that I sure wanted to run fast away from at the time, but here in the teens it sure holds up a whole lot better'n some of the underground careening that I actually thought was the end-all regarding people having something to say...that would interest me, that is. Snyder's electronic keyboard work with its techno-edge at least has a drive and energy to it that thanks to the repeato-riff droning does seem like the logical late-eighties end result in a style and swerve that began with WHITE LIGHT/WHITE HEAT a good twentysome years earlier. Not quite as jarring perhaps due to the upgrade in recording quality, but still bound to cremate Taylor Swift's Premium Ham fans at forty paces.

Come to think of it, this does have that sorta 1978 late-night college radio feel to it that reminds me of something I would have loved to have heard on an especially humid summer evening (preferably a Sunday) while doing the age-old demon rasslin' that still gets me blues workout. And hey, along with some of those latterday Harmonia excursions that I've glommed this is some good old fogeys do well with up-to-date technology kinda music that doesn't sound like a squeaky-clean take on the post-electronic cyborgisms we've been inundated with for ages already! An outta-nowhere winner that I'm surprised didn't make last week's "Cassette Caga" rundown of oft-ignored soundscapading from deeper in the vaults that I ever would have imagined.
The Edgar Broughton Band-DEMONS AT THE BEEB CD (Hux, England)

Gee, I dunno. That straight offa the radio BBC tape that Larry Boyd sent me complete with all of those John Peel asides and the occasional static sure comes off better'n this collection that's just too sterile and scrubbed over for me to enjoy. Far from complete (why no "Aphrodite in Your See-Through Nightie"?) and too cleaned up for human consumption, but if you don't have it the way they were broadcast or can't find your tape like me this is a good enough substitute. As for you beginners, just start with WASA WASA like any good blootch and work your way down to this after it has all settled well deep within your rockist psyche.
DIET DR. WHAM (soft drink)

Whenever I'm able to, I like to try out some of the food and liquid refreshments that are available in other parts of the nation (and world) but are all but impossible to latch onto here in the Tri-County area. Yes it is a big wide wonderful world that we live in, and thankfully it's filled with loads of goodies I ain't et yet and if there's anything that I'd like to do before I check into the Big Buffet in the Sky its give just about every tasty food morsel of worth a try whether it be turducken, poutain or even some Milk Soda for that matter. And  while I'm at it I sure wouldn't mind munching down on some cuttle fish marinated in teriyaki as well as some of those "crisps" that alla them fag English poofters eat while uttering inanities like "pip pip",  "cheerio" and "let's kill the Irish"!

Given the vast array of gene whammies (both sides of the fambly) that have or will eventually affect me like baldness, insanity and diabetes hanging over my head like the Sword of Damoclese  I gotta watch what my aural intake is lest the last of these three sends me into insulin shock and a sorry future without Sugar Smacks. That's why I take my diet pop seriously, and when I go for some I usually call on the Doctor---Pepper that is! I gotta admit that as far as the dark cola-based drinks around here are concerned Dr. Pepper is my hands-down fave-rave. Funny thing---ever since I was a kid watching AMERICAN BANDSTAND I wondered just what the heck Dr. Pepper was made out of thinking it was a spicy drink that was chock fulla ground table pepper and certainly nothing that I would wanna drink lest it burned my esophagus! But tried it I did and whaddya know the stuff was pretty good even though I still don't know what Pepper is actually supposed to be other'n a cola variation that's gotta be the biggest guarded secret since Coke itself! And considering its popularity it's not like there's any shortage around here like there is Moxie, another one of those health drinks that's probably killed more people'n the diseases it was supposed to cure I'll betcha!

As you all know when something makes a big splash in whatever market it's been tossed into imitations are bound to arise, and the same is true in the world of soft drinks. It took awhile, but eventually the Pepper knockoffs began appearing---first there was Mr. Pibb which didn't quite have the same zing as the original then there were various in-house takes like Dr. Aaah, Dr. Fun and Dr. Taste which you could get at Wal Mart and other megalopolitan outlets. On the heels of these quickie toss outs comes this relative newie which you can only latch onto if you live in Alabama or surrounding areas, so if you do live down that way be sure to keep an eye out for this latest in a long line of well-meaning if not-quite-up-to-snuff ripoffs, Dr. Wham!

Dr. Wham does have its benefits even if it is a copy of the real thing...mainly it's a lot cheaper than Dr. Pepper, but then again like these imitations the taste seems to not be quite "there". Wham seems to lack maybe one or two of those secret 33 ingredients that made Dr. Pepper the drink we all know and love which might not be much to you, but sure means a world of difference to picky anal retentives like myself! It's also comparatively weaker with more of a seltzer-y taste to it which I must admit doesn't bother me in the least considering some of the heavier and more sickening beverages that are available. It suits me fine when I'm tired of the standard soft drink fare (and pale dry ginger ale just doesn't cut it for me one bit anymore unlike a good strong guzzler such as Vernor's) and you don't even have to be a cost-conscious person to have the class to pick some up for yourself. However you do have to live down south which might put quite a dent into your traveling expenses if you happen to live in British Columbia, but if you are that interested there's always ebay or perhaps a gourmet soda pop distributor near you who can help you out with your Wham jones!
Well, it ain't quite the masterpiece I was expecting, but it'll do at least until the next blogger outage forces me back into panic mode! Bear with it now, y'hear???

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


I guess that that first DIRTY WATER  collection of "punk attitude" must have sold faster than KY at a San Francisco boy scout jamboree because only a few months later what should pop up on the ebay set sale lists but this piece of disposable fun plunk. To be totally honest about it this ain't as good as the original nor is it anywhere as boffo as the selection """""I""""" would have used had I been as underground-famous as series compiler and rockscribe in his own right Kris Needs, but I think it will make do. And make do pretty good as well because really, what else is there to get me through this soggy spring which certainly ain't stirrin' up any of the primal juices the way that the warm weather and short shorts SHOULD be doin' this time o' year!

Like with the first volume this ain't exactly a punk rock primer the way any of us reg'lar readers would have envisioned it...'s something more like a hot selection of bared-wire intense moments from the past, or a selection of what the people who were so preoccupied with a punk sense were listening to before that term sorta got snuck into the tee-vee mindset of the late-seventies, or even a more free-form idea of what clubs like Max's Kansas City and CBGB were aimin' for in the booking policies roughly between the years 1965-2006. Maybe if you were more up-to-date (or better yet backtracked) on the classic CREEM writings ca. '71-'76 and overindulged on similarly-honed fanzines of the same strata you'd understand, but if you were one to have and to hold the complete run of BLACK TO COMM I wouldn't have any explaining to do now, wouldn't I?

I must say that the careen through these two disques does work wonders in the way they shift from genre and year to style and attitude. Listening to these gives me a vague idea of what it might have been like to visit original Pere Ubu drummer Scott Krauss' Prospect Ave. apartment back in the seventies when he's hold these record spinning sessions that were so free-form going from Tibetan gong workouts to Grateful Dead live sides to the Chantays to Beefheart that friends would even invite themselves over to engage in the aural fun while reading their books or just zoning out in their own personal way. Not that this particular aluminum romp is that esoteric in nature but it sure is a wild trip (especially while perusing various seventies-vintage fanzines like I have been as of late) hearing all-black punksters Death smashing their way through a decent Stooge-ploy before lending ear to Dizzy Gillespie leading off the Silhouettes heading for the poor house! Then in comes Suicide once again from their mid-seventies demo tape and then you suddenly realize this is what FM radio was supposed to have sounded like somewhere around 1977 if only the free form freaks weren't let go only to be replaced by the same AOR-conscious bottom (line?) feeders who helped ruin rock and roll to the point where any chance at resuscitation was futile no matter how hard the punks valiantly tried!

Hokay, the selection is useful  if only because the music-that-matters might either be buried deep in my triple-decade-old collection or unavailable on disque, and having these tracks here in the palm of my hand does make things a little easier for me when a certain jag hits.. And hey, it's sure a breeze having all of these great and essential tracks available on two platters which makes for a listening experience that reminds me of my July 3 1997 late-night session trying to fight off impulses of self-mutilation spinning everything from "Talk Talk" to MX-80 Sound's "Face of the Earth" with mind-addled passion and desperation occupying my mind before Morpheus's uneasy arms finally set in. And if the careening from six-oh to bop to reggae to avant garde to doofus guys in their 1973 garages ain't the soundtrack to what made up MY own personal soundtrack (you better 86 the reggae which I still can't quite fathom despite recent earnest tries in order to placate Brad Kohler) well, then maybe I should start spinning old scratchy James Taylor albums and act like the schlub you obviously think I am!
Personal highlights---Dizzy Gillespie's "Bebop" which sounds a lot more '60 Ornette than I would have thought, Parliament doing Procol Harum via Bach taken from the boss OSMIUM or RHENIUM album if you prefer, the late Captain Beefheart doing "Zig Zag Wanderer" offa SAFE AS MILK, Big Star and the Flamin' Groovies trying to act as if it were still 1965 in 197X,  Bo Diddley segueing right into Stackwaddy,  Albert Ayler, the Holy Modal Rounders and the Godz keeping ESP in the mind and the Doctors of Madness,  Faust and Edgar Broughton keeping European trash rock alive in the face of Genesis. And that's only part of it! True,  MY own personal choices of essential proto-punkisms put Needs' attempts to shame but hey, I guess I'll have to wait until I'm famous before I get my turn at bat.

The real price of admission is Needs' enclosed booklet, another thickie which details more and more about the acts enclosed herein which we already knew about but sheesh, if you liked ZIGZAG and miss the breezy talkin' to ya style of the likes of Needs it's good to know that such rock screeding survives even this late in the game. Sure beats havin' to turn into a standard rock blog and find nothing but empty bleat which only reflects the emptiness of a world that didn't know it slit its own throat in the name of inclusiveness  and worse yet picked culture over civilization to the point where even the snob university-bred Europeans think that the impending sharia laws in their land would be a welcome change. Well, can't say that anyone who would subscribe to such multikultural values won't deserve what they will get in the long run but its the rest of us normal people that I worry about! Once again I digress...let me just end this by saying that DIRTY WATER 2's a boss collection which, combined with the first volume does give you a good tip-of-the-iceberg encapsulation of the hot and maddening world that was sixties and seventies underground rock sway, a music which really didn't have the name or identity until folk like Lester Bangs and Richard Meltzer finally dubbed it underground or punk in a vague sorta way but at least the more onna ball kids knew. Sad to say that entire era is pretty much dead and buried by this time but hey, at least the aura lingers on....y'see, nobody bothered to embalm the corpse.

Sunday, May 08, 2011


Given my current financial straits it's not like I can buy out the nearest Cee-Dee market and give it to the poor with typical Eddie Haskell braggadocio. I'm having enough trouble scratching up enough dinero to finance an order to one of my favorite online bizzez...not that there's that much being offered that I don't already have or which lights my pilot, but still I need that aural stimulation which has gotten me through even rougher times than these. And at this point in my life (which at times I think is 11:59 PM, if you get my drift) I have to do a li'l diggin' on my part, mostly through boxes of 35+-year-old cassettes which have been scattered about the place and are mostly hidden in long packed-away crates amidst tons of flotsam that has gathered throughout the ages. For the most part these tapes have been neglected over the past few years not because I'm that much of a new technology freak but because...well, I have been busy!

Yeah, old maudlin me has been gettin' the feelin' that I've been neglecting my good friends who've helped me through many a bitter time for too LONG, and that's yet another reason that I've been spinnin' quite a number of cassettes that have remained otherwise ignored for a much long time than even I would care to admit. Here's a selection of tapes from over the years which I've dug out  (usually while looking for other items of past glory) in order to resensify myself in these worn out times, some of them being "factorycassettes" of major muddle while others are whatcha'd call self-released wares, with even one of 'em being a home job made for me by a dear and trusted friend of mine (yes, I do have 'em!) that he happened to get in its original form during one of his Europeon jaunts. They all "fill the bill" the same way they did back when I was a goony fifteen-year-old taping top 40 mulch off the radio by placing my Zayre's cassette-loaded Panasonic directly next to the cheapo Westinghouse radio I got for Christmas a year earlier. And believe it or not, like old MAD paperbacks and ALL IN THE FAMILY these tapes really do send me back to those muddled and confused days, though not to the point where I'm locking myself in the bathroom for a good hour or so with a hula girl-laden issue of NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC if you know what I mean...
The arrival and sudden departure (via death) of Jack Starr on the underground rough 'n tumble record collector circuit was something that held so much promise but only delivered on one full-length album and two singles that I am aware of. Too bad, because this Starr guy seemed to have had so much potential to cash in on his varied (some might say "sordid") past and crank out a living and breathing legend for himself the same way that Hasil Adkins (the man Starr was often compared to) did just prior to Our Man's very own rediscovery back in the v. late eighties.

What most Starr fans did not know about was this particular one-hour cassette of recently-recorded material called TRAIN TO NOWHERE  recorded under the moniker the American Xpress and released on the Strike One label outta Dallas.  Sporting a 1989 copyright date, it's really hard to believe that these weren't taken from the same mid-sixties sessions that produced those rare Starr singles that appeared on side two of BORN PETRIFIED (side one being Starr during his fifties "rockabilly"/Ricky Nelson phase) because the music found here is just as low-fidelity as those  punk rockers he did back '66 way! And what's even more surprising is that these songs were recorded by the same backing band that appeared on those singles which makes this a bizarre twist of circumstances...guys in their late-forties playing the same songs (and recording in the same john!)  sounding as if they had not aged a day since! If only the Who could have aged this gracefully!

One track entitled "UFO" did make it onto that rare In The Red single but the rest of this romp as far as I know has remained unreleased to all but a few lucky people who just lucked out in getting this very tape sent to their doorstep. And what makes it even more enticing is that the entire shebang comes off as if it was laid down after a hefty listening session of Bobby Fuller, the Seeds and (if you can believe it) the Doors! Some straight blues, one country creeper, and a whole lotta mid-sixties-inspired FUN (remember that word?) that kinda gives me the feeling that after they were done laying these classics to tape the whole buncha 'em got some Great Shakes and settled down to glom an episode of DOBIE GILLIS! Sure most of you cultured rock-as-art snobs would poo-poo such a base and crude idea as this but sheesh, we can't all attune our palates to fine wine, lobster and rectum like you obviously do!
Here's a tape that ain't exactly one you could pick up at the local five 'n dime, but something that was available in European flea markets well until the era of disque put these cassette peddlers out of commission for good. As you can see, the cover has that artistic late-seventies/early-eighties avant garde sheen to it and why not, since this tape houses two sets by none other than the conceptual group to end all conceptual groups, Suicide recorded live during that particularly underground-active year of 1977.

Undoubtedly taken from the Charles Ackers collection, these gigs recorded at heavyweight hangouts CBGB and Max's Kansas City took place within a few months of each other (the CBGB one being from the PUNK magazine benefit) and they sure sound pretty professional for being audience tapes even if there is what sounds like some interstellar flange during "Dream Baby Dream". They also show the group in fine form as the Alan Vega/Martin Rev tag team perform quite different renditions of their debut LP material as well as fend off at-times hostile members of the audience, one of 'em being none other than rock scribe Byron Coley who's not heard during the second Max's set for GOOD REASON! High-energy rock & roll personified, and clearly the music that set the pace for not only a load of limp synthesizer groups of the eighties but the hot late-seventies New York crunch of the Contortions, Mars, Red Transistor and a few others that'll come to mind within the next few minutes. It definitely makes me want to hear even more live recordings from this period than are now available commercially or otherwise and who knows, maybe if we all hold our breath and turn blue some enterprising soul out there will take the hint and churn out a whole lot more of this stuff which anybody with a brain would admit we needed a whole lot more thirty years back 'stead of today, but hey, why be picky? And what's more, the fine fellow who dubbed this tape for me even added some Rose Tattoo and Tall Dwarfs tracks to fill the thing out! I mean, who says generosity is dead?
Switching gears, we now take a detour to Cleveland where this li'l obscurity was not only recorded but released. Of course you all know about the Choir, local pop faves who pretty much singlehandedly helped nurture the long-held notion of Cleveland as the "New Liverpool" after the success of the Raspberries, Circus and a number of similar-minded endeavors in the early-to-mid-seventies, but you may not have heard their 1969 album which to this date has only been released as a cassette via one-time bassist Denny Carleton's old Green Light label back in the late eighties. One of the album's tracks did end up on the old Bomp! EP that came out in '76 while that and a few more eventually found their way on the Sundazed CD released many moons after, but for some reason the entire affair never did get the royal treatment that it should have which does puzzle me. Y'see, once you get down to it this 'un really was a solid slab of post-Left Banke gothic pop rock which shouldn't have been tampered with or edited in any way, shape or form. It's that much of an indication of what teenage rock 'n' roll could have aspired to in an era of mud festivals and hippie credo that changed rock into a soppy, milquetoast blob of "feeling" and "relevancy"., and we all know that sure ruined the entire genre for a good more many years than most people would care to admit!

Anyhoo, THE CHOIR features an edition of group after its main guns had more or less vamoosed for the likes of Cyrus Erie and their ultimate destination in Raspberryland, leaving drummer Jim Bonfanti (himself a future 'berrie y'know) as the de-facto leader of this new variant. Now featuring a dual keyboard lineup (three when performing the legendary live rendition of "MacArthur Park") and a sound that was even taking on jazzier arrangements, this new Choir had the dad-blamed audacity to keep up with late-sixties innovation while remaining a mid-sixties spirited pop group and for that I give 'em more'n just a little credit! The entire production reeks smart, from the classically tinged numbers with just the right pinch of psychedelic to spice things up and hey, it sure was a feather in at least Carleton's cap (see cover shot) to have been able to crank out a mid-sixties teen angst rocker like "If These Are Men" in the latter portion of a decade which showed so much promise, but ended on a note of love, peace and what some people called music.

Heck, they even improve on the usual post-Beatles psych-pop patterns on "Lady Bug" while the instrumental "Foreric" (Carmen?) actually sounds "mature" yet streamlined enough to fit in with the rest of these straight ahead pop-rockers to the point where I'm not gonna poke and probe on about it being real lounge-y 'r anything! A real winner that I hope gets resurrected somewhere down the line, and if I were sneaky enough I'd boot the thing MYSELF for your own personal enjoyment! (But I won't!)
I've mentioned many a time just what I think about David Peel, not as a Beatle-crony or early-seventies rabble-rouser but as a downright New York City rock et roll legend. Just about everything I've heard of his (even those Beatle-cash in records) does have that good on-the-streets feeling that makes me want to come back for more, but just how would the guy fare doing a CONCEPT ALBUM based on the George Orwell over-referenced 1984 you might ask? Actually pretty swell especially if Peel and his Lower East Side had latched onto the likes of Wayne Kramer to contribute some of his best lead guitar lines since "Gimme Some Head" let alone "Looking At You" on A-Square. Keeping with the regimen Peel uses a lotta synth here as well as early-eighties NYC-approved new wave jerky rhythms, but that still can't ruin this downright raver of a tape that rehashes the entire sad saga complete with a sound that comes off more Max's Kansas City 1981 than hootenanny 1966. As one would say a forgotten winner, complete with a cover that proves that if God did not create Ronald Reagan man would have had to.
Unlike all of the above which I assume are all cassette-only releases (other than maybe the Peel one which I think also got the vinyl treatment), this edition of Soft Machine's TRIPLE ECHO is a professional factory-produced cassette of pre-recorded music, the kind that used to be found with ease way back in the record departments of the mid-seventies usually huddled up in the corner considering how popular 8-tracks were at the time. And in an age when imported "musicassettes" (another term flying around) were pretty rare in themselves locating  an item like this really was akin to striking a gold vein. But obviously some did make it over intact, and I got mine for a pittance too because by the time I bought this (early-eighties via Wayside Music)  the glamour and fine shine on these import items had been washed away by the roaring punkisms both here and abroad making such items as this all the more affordable to a depression-era wage kid as myself who probably wasn't  that interested, but how could I pass up a bargain like that!

But it's a great slice of the whole Soft Machine oeuvre from their extremely rare debut single for Polydor (with the b-side produced by none other than Kim Fowley) up through their best days as an avant garde jazz trio and eventually as the English jazz fusion group that they were best known as. Funny, although I really was irritated by the latterday jazzisms found on tape #2  when I first got this nowadays I find that Mike Ratledge's buzz organ and the pseudo-Miles Davis-ish arrangements sound a lot more pleasing than a good portion of the gunk that permeates moderne-day new and advanced musicianship. I'll take TRIPLE ECHO over most if not all of the produce being presented to me as "new" and "innovative" by blogschpielers who claim to have out best interests at heart these sorry days and who knows, that really may be saying something I would have been embarrassed by had I said it even a good five years ago.
And finally, here's another English import containing what purports to be yet another "budget" "greatest hits" collection of hotcha and pertinent material recorded by none other than that infamous English punk rock group the Vibrators! Yeah, I know that for many of you readers these guys just didn't have enough "punk cred" but neither do I and I know that I have more of an insight and understanding of what this music was (and remains) all about than some demi-hippie with a ring in his nose and a chip on his shoulder. It's just good high energy rock with the patented English snarl to it; nothing exactly for me to dribble about like I do with old Velvet Underground and Stooges offerings (whom the Vibrators obviously owe hefty amts. of ideas to) but still miles ahead of what was to be once punk turned into pUnK turned into punque. Def. one of the longer-lasting groups to come out of the '76 chugathon who I haven't lost any respect for even if they are playing the cash-in game milking money outta aging amerindie types who didn't have any moolah to think of when these records were first coming out. But who can blame 'em really...I mean, could you think of a better market to exploit than all of those eighties "new music" schlubs who are now loaded with the long green? Me neither!
MORE LATE-BREAKING INFORMATION THAT PROBABLY ONLY I WOULD WANT TO KNOW ABOUT: once again IT'S ALL THE STREETS YOU'VE CROSSED NOT SO LONG AGO does it right with these '74 vintage CBGB and Club 82 ads which, like I always knew they would, just continue to stir up the obsessive seventies New York underground geek in me to the point where I feel like taking a trip to the Youngstown Public Library my next day off to do yet more microfilm-scrounging fun and games if only to refresh myself as to all of the stuff I missed the first time around again. Although the CBGB listings are sparse (y'see, I guess there was a beef twixt Hilly Kristal and the VILLAGE VOICE for non-payment of back-ads which is why '74-era gig listings are hard to come by unless you subscribed to the SOHO WEEKLY NEWS or EAST VILLAGE EYE) at least the mention of an avant garde blues jazz rock group called "The New Cat's Pajamas" playing there is enough to make me wanna do a li'l research to see what they were all about. The 82 listings are, as I would have expected,, I never knew that famed dyke-horn band Isis played there (though they also made an appearance at Max's in '76 and who knows, maybe they even played CB's though I kinda doubt that!) while it looks as if the Manhattan Transfer also made an 82 appearance which would figure given their whole camp forties appeal custom-made for suave New Yorkers of confused sexuality. Even more surprising was my spotting of an early appearance by the Out Kids, the same batch of guys who later morphed into the Feelies! Let's hope that STREETS keeps this Public Service of reprinting old En Why club ads up, and hey, right now they're gettin' my vote for BLOG OF THE YEAR even though it's pretty early in the game right now and quite a few other blogs out there are running a close second, y'know?

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Y'know, it really is a credit to the energy and stamina that was the fifties that a character like Mickey Spillane's MIKE HAMMER could have been as omnipresent as it was during those oft loathed years. Really, the fact that the horny, ultra-violent and pinko (meaning you)-hating private eye could have proliferated in books, movies, television and even comic strips only goes to show you what the true spirit of that era was, and a whole lot more than the usual rose-colored nostalgic fodder that came out during the seventies ever did. I couldn't see the likes of a Hammer making any headway within the easygoing Great Society days of the mid/late-sixties; maybe he could have in the same seventies that gave us such forgotten faves as Robert Mitchum as Phillip Marlowe in FAREWELL MY LOVELY, but otherwise it is obvious that Mike Hammer was the product of the ultra-boss post-World War II/pre-hippie/Vietnam War days that all of those phony intellectuals and perversion-loving louts seem to hate with a passion. Y'know, the kind of specimen who loves to write into this blog and direct at me yawn-inspiring variations on the same old Dave Berg cliches thinking they're being oh-so-witty as Edgar Breau once sang in his infamous "New Sacred Cow Blues". Don't worry guys, you always have TODAY with all of that venereal disease, sexual perversion, race-baiting and success-hating that you undoubtedly adore, and aren't you just tickling-pink glad about living in an era where the concepts of compassion, morality and decency are so slanted in your direction to the point where you only see oppressors and victims instead of right and wrong? As for me I'll take the fifties and the concept of masculinity and femininity as expounded on in HAMMER. At he knows what the difference between up and down, and he's more'n apt to tell you all about it with a few bullets to the gut just to prove his point!

Gotta admit that I thought that what I've seen of Hammer on film was a real hoot. Never did get to glom THE GIRL HUNTERS which not only had HAMMER creator Spillane playing the lead but a boffo hand-nailed-to-the-floor scene, though KISS ME, DEADLY with Ralph Meeker was beyond powerful especially in the scene where he brutally crushes the hand of noted character actor Percy Helton portraying a bribe-taking snivel who really deserved the bone-crunching his mitt got. Meeker played it passionate, violent and rabid, the exact opposite to the kind and caring (and impotent) detectives you would eventually see proliferate the screen as America began to move to soft and flabby mode somewhere in the seventies. But hey, I must be a sicko because somehow I think the concept of justice trumps that of fair mindedness and moral relativity which certainly makes me outside my time. But then again, what else is old?

And as far as Hammer on tee-vee goes, nothing beats Darrin McGavin in this '57/'58 rendition which makes the latterday Stacy Keach variation look like Mister Rogers. Oh yeah, I know that more'n a few of you reg'lar readers really dug Keach's mid-eighties HAMMER-portrayal courtesy of CBS as well as the brief nineties syndicated revival, but I found it to be extremely seedy (in a disturbing way), smarmy and unnecessarily eighties-conscious. McGavin's HAMMER is hands down the ultmate tee-vee rendition and so spot on that I kinda wish that he would've taken the eighties role...I mean, if he could play a mid-aged father while in his early-sixties in A CHRISTMAS STORY why not have him revive HAMMER to what would have been extremely powerful effect? Just another "what if" I sure would have liked to have seen.

Whatever, McGavin as HAMMER was yet one of the many bright spots on the late-fifties tee-vee dial, and thanks to Bill Shute I got to see 25 whole episodes (I believe out of fifty total) which really affects me in a high energy, no holds barred sorta way that nothing created since the seventies (latest) ever could. I guess that I always liked McGavin even when he was playing simpy roles like that drill sergeant who had to put up with Jan Michael Vincent in TRIBES, maybe because no matter what role he was in McGavin reminds me of the ideal of what men were supposed to be when I was a kid and the kinda guy I sure wished I could have grown up to be when I was of a mere grade school age. Obviously I flopped badly in my life's journey but at least guys like McGavin had that special coolness to 'em which could turn to rage at the mere drop of a twig, and why wouldn't something like that appeal to a first grader? Or maybe it's because Hammer is such a non-corruptible hero which really resonates in this totally amoral age that only makes me wish all the more there were people like him in a world where even the highest in office are so mealy I kinda wish someone the caliber of Hammer would just go up to 'em and give 'em what for! Y'know, just like he does to a heavy who's just roughed up this weeks' gorgeous female lead.

On this show there's no hand-nailing, "lump licking", lump piercing or any of the more out-there Hammerisms often found in the novels (I guess Spillane had a "thing" for damaging hands, pulverizing testicles and, when the time was right, using testicles for other purposes). Well, this is tee-vee and that medium used to have a sense of propriety before the hippies got in charge, but at least we do get a whole load of that hard-edged violence which suits me all the more. Y'know, the stuff that really used to upset those moral uplifters and other do-gooders who pressured the networks to cut down on the brutality of shows like HAMMER and make nice, peaceful and sex-laden stories that might have been non-violent but were boring as all heck. Maybe this is one reason I like these HAMMER's so much along those also eventually expurgated BUGS BUNNY cartoons with all of the explosions and calamity left intact. Especially since for all intent purposes this type of entertainment is pretty much verboten according to the tenants of the "New Civilization" which makes me so blood-boiling mad that I wanna go out and sell HAMMER DVD's to schoolchildren when the authorities aren't looking!

And if this is indeed true, then give me that Old Civilization pronto-like, the one filled with extremely-hard-edged men like Hammer as well as the decadent millionaires, turncoat friends and sexy femmes (amongst 'em Gloria Talbot and a pre-blond Angie Dickenson appearing on this series twice) who get leaned on by tough thugs in suits and accountants on the take. Really boss stuff, and perhaps the most violent application of justice as cathartic release seen at least until the advent of MR. A. in the late-sixties. And yeah, I know that all might seem hopeless especially when the killers turn out to be the small-town DA and deputy who really work over Hammer to the point where anybody else'd die, but at least you know that all's gonna turn out fine in the end when Hammer kills the badskis and you feel good about it for once in your frustrated life!

Can't find a bad thing about this 'un from the great supporting cast to the tension-packed scripts to McGavin himself who makes me feel glad to be a male in these women's lib asexual times. Gotta get the other 25 into my life soon because like, this is what the concept of manhood, if not mankind (forget that neutering "humankind" crap we've been inundated with in yet another attempt to castrate the driving force of civilization!) comes from. And hey, if Chairman Mao really said "love comes from the barrel of a gun" then Mike Hammer must've been the most loving human being on the face of this earth and I do mean it!
IN OTHER NOT-SO-LATE BREAKING NEWS: Hey, they got Osama!!! Yay!!! Whoopee!!! Yawn... Tell you what, let's jet forward a good ten years and see if it really makes any difference! Well, maybe it does feel good in a quick, visceral sorta way for you, but I'm all but jubilant at this time.

Rather'n wait until the weekend to clue you in, here's yet another Jim Goad piece I know you can't live without. Its things like this that really give me the lumps so-to-speak to get up and face your ugly world sans the cringe that I usually have to live with these days! Only goes to show you that there are still some real people out there who have their non-corrupted heads on straight, unlike a good portion of you readers who seem to surrender to everything as long as it screws up people like myself beyond recognition! (And no, this article ain't even remotely "neocon"...don't any of you even think it like I know you will!)