Wednesday, April 16, 2014

BOOK REVIEW! THIMBLE THEATRE PRESENTS POPEYE, CLASSIC NEWSPAPER COMICS VOLUME ONE: 1986-1989 by Bobby London (IDW, 2014)

So hot off the presses it's scortchin' my pinkies comes this collection of Bobby London-period POPEYE "daily" cartoons, and I'm sure you eighties survivors remember this 'un, right? Y'know, that version of the long-running THIMBLE THEATRE strip that was now being done up by famous underground/DIRTY DUCK/NATIONAL LAMPOON cartoonist London which was something that certainly caused a minor stir back in the days when the fun and entertainment of the comics page certainly was taking a dive, what with the classic strips either dying off or beginning to become mere shells of what they used to mean for depression-era kiddies who got all of their entertainment from these pages and nothing else!

It was '86 when King Features Syndicate, stuck with a property that just wasn't pulling in any readers under seventy anymore, decided to "update" their flagging stock inna one-eyed sailor by getting London to do the honors, undoubtedly figuring that he'd give the strip some "hip" credo. Which he most certainly did, pulling it off not only in a painfully obvious way by tossing every eighties fad 'n feature into the concoction, but by making the strip pretty cutting in a rather politico/sociopathical way!

And for the most part this worked even if London's zeal to poke and prod at the sacred cows on and off the funny pages is what ultimately tossed him out of a job, but mebbee I am gettin' a li'l too ahead of myself (but wha' th' hey...).

But unlike the POPEYE that preceded it, stories inspired by the headlines seemed to be popping into the strip more frequently than not, and while this THIMBLE THEATRE wasn't exactly as topical nor as oafish as DOONESBURY or BLOOM COUNTY are/were you knew where London's allegiances lied. And it sure wasn't with the seventies thumb your snouts at the left wing flakies and right wing stiff upper lipped ones anymore either! Like it was with the rest of the once-free form satirists of the seventies who were suddenly shocked outta their post-hippie complacency when Reagan got elected, it was with the left-wing flakies where London (and the rest of the seventies humor cadre) cast his lot. No more of that DIRTY DUCK humor that lambasted the sixties radicals anymore, bub! From then on in it was all-out war on the stiffies even if some of 'em had more'n a few good ideas rolling around in their minds but that never did matter when you were selling your heart 'n soul to DA MOVEMENT!

London's morally and intellectually superior to the rest of us's values eventually came to a head in the early nineties when he decided to introduce the subject of abortion into a comic that had been toddler fodder for a longer time than any of us could imagine. Not that abortion talk had been alien to them once-slam pow pages as some quickly substituted DOONESBURY storylines would attest to (and I kinda wonder about some of the behind-the-scenes goings on in BLONDIE as well...I mean with a daughter like Cookie you'd think the Bumsteads would be taking a trip to the local reproductive health center on a weekly basis!), but dealing with such a hot potato topic in a strip like POPEYE just mighta been taking the hip radical in the establishment trip just a li'l bit too far beyond the realm of decency, or so your Aunt Gladys might say.

And hey, when was Aunt Glady wrong other'n the time she mistook her daughter's vibrator for an oral health gum treatment that tasted fishy! The story, or at least what got printed, had to do with Olive Oyl receiving a baby Bluto (or is it Brutus?) doll which she supposedly ordered via Home Shopping Network. Turns out the doll is so repulsive that she doesn't want it so Popeye, doing the most honorable thing, throws the thing into the trash can. A passing priest overhearing the conversation between Popeye and Olive misconstrues what has been said believeing that Olive got knocked up by the bearded Bluto/Brutus and wants to deep six the sucker, which of course would naturally lead to some mighty hefty belly laughs you just never did get outta ZITS!

That's pretty much where the story ended when London got his own cord cut, and the usual tongue wagging and finger pointing that went on for a short while after did come off about as morally self-righteous as any world-saving type of deeply-offended scion can get even in these garment-rending times. It was back to Bud Sagendorf reruns for the strip and the end of a half-decade run for a variation on the old form that, I will admit, did its best to keep one of the funny papers' once-bright stars afloat in a world where the old classics were being replaced by these cheaply-drawn and unfunny strips that well...reflect the shallow personas and one-dimensional make up of the people who read 'em.

But hey, that MONDO POPEYE paperback I snatched up a few years back was a quickie har-de-har-har in itself so I figured why not get this new volume featuring the first coupla years of London's POPEYE anyway? And frankly it's a good buy if you don't wanna scarf up collectors prices for the MONDO edition plus it's got a whole lot more. And true you do have to suffer through some of those eighties politico woes that seemed about as distant in 1990 as Kruschev did in '67, but you can easily enough "bleeb" over 'em just so's you don't have to put up with the usual editorializing that's always been done up by people who need to be the subjects of quite a bit of editorializing themselves.

Not only that, but these strips can get quite high-larious almost on a level with those DIRTY DUCKs that London was dolloping out in the pages of NATIONAL LAMPOON! Now you ain't gonna get outright sex jokes and snide concentration camp references here, but there is a nice snark that pops up more'n a few times that keeps my belief system high afloat. Of course it ain't like it was back when these people really knew how to dish it out being the equal opportunity offenders they most surely were, but hey I'll take it!

The early quick one-off gags are on-target enough even if the references to various eighties television programs, products and gadgetries are even more obvious than any early episode of HAPPY DAYS rattling off about Studebakers and paint-by-numbers sets. The continuing stores fare better when London is cooking on all cylinders, and tales such as the one where the Sea Hag turns Popeye's home town into a giant shopping complex do have the proper mix of being late-eighties current and high-larious even to the point where the limitations that have been placed on comic strips at the time (size, panels) don't deter much if at all.

Gotta 'fess up that some of the sagas to be found here don't exactly hold up such as the one where Olive moves out of her abode and finds herself as an all-night 7-11 clerk, but it ain't exactly as if  you're about to chuck the entire concept of a Bobby London-helmed THIMBLE THEATRE onto the trash heap of particularly turdly ideas. You might (like I did) object to the portrayal of General Bunzo as a stark-raving capitalist anti-communist (as if pro-communists were just dandy!), and if London only balanced the strip with some fey cowardly world-saving types like he and his radical cronies used to only a good decade back... But, as Kathy Shaidle put it so succinctly recently the left/liberal types have more strawmen than a WIZARD OF OZ convention, so why should I expect 'em to behave differently?

Can you stand it? I guess I can, having had to stand the entire shebang of being talked down to and shamed (well, at least they tried...) by my mental masters for quite some time now. Once ya get around the usual fluff and post-hippie karmik whoozis this stuff is mighty good. Not exactly anything that'll make you laugh out loud (something which I haven't done since my cousin's dog started humping her leg at the family party a good twenny-five years back) but you'll probably emit a few little "arf arf"s from your very own windpipe. And yeah, I'm even planning on getting volume two with the abortion story line, though I do dread the sanctimony that's gonna come gushing from the forward of that 'un!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

RIP MICKEY ROONEY, "forever Puck", who I now envision is somewhere in the afterlife continuing his once-infamous feud with the equally once-infamous yet quickly forgotten Jack Paar. Also say goodbye to Leee Black Childers, famed shutterbug who was probably just as enviable as all of those hot celebs he spent his career clicking away thanks to his visage's frequent appearances in the pages of ROCK SCENE and CREEM.

Now that I got the heart-tugging sentimentality outta the way, there are this week's batch of reviews. Gee, if it weren't for Paul McGarry I woulda had hardly nothing to write about this go 'round. I guess the financial straits ain't hittin' Paul (or Mr. Bill---Shute himself who also tossed a few in) as much as they are me, but then again with the quality of current platters making their way to my favorite internet outlets it's not exactly hard to take the Scottish route to Stingyville if ye know what I mean, mon! So until Lindsay Hutton comes after me with a nine iron for making fun of his tribe, here be the reviews!


The Dogs-FED UP! CD-r burn (originally on Bacchus)

I'm really surprised at this McGarry fellow! Here my own fanzine has been not only writing about this displanted Detroit high energy trio for years but actually printed an INTERVIEW with 'em, and Paul goes and sends me a CD-r burn of 'em as if I've never even heard of 'em inna first place! Keep this up Paul and I'm not only gonna take alla your AC/DC albums away from you, but maybe even all of your Ten Years After ones as well!

Well, at least I got a good excuse to listen to this boffo platter again which has not only the famous "John Rock" single side on it, but a hot live set and some newer studio sides to top it all off! Raw hard-edge rock that they used to call "heavy metal" at least until alla them sissies with the teased hair got hold of the title back inna eighties. Close to the MC5 in approach and spirit, and the true spiritual successors to the Up in more ways that one unlike the Ramones, which is what Robert Christgau woulda wanted you to believe. Not only that, but it's wild enough to even make Ted Nugent wanna run to the comfort of his mommy's tits for some much needed solace.
***
THE NUNS CD-r burn (originally on Bomp!/Poshboy)

Another oldie McGarry sent my way as if he didn't think I'd've owned this 'un inna first place either, and again thanks be to he because otherwise it woulda taken me another twenny years to dig my way through my vinyl collection to get to the thing.

As far as those seventies post-Stooges groups go the Nuns were on top of the reason and backbone behind it all, not as intense as Rocket From the Tombs or the Electric Eels but far ahead of the rest of the pack whose idea of a Stooge homage was to rush their way through the umpteenth cover of "I Wanna Be Your Dog" without any of the suburban slob appeal of the original.

Jennifer Miro makes for an adequate Nico substitute, and while the production can get kinda new wave-y it doesn't get in the way of the overall decadent thrust. However, for a gobble of the real Nuns get hold of the early single sides which I hope some enterprising soul has (re)unleashed on the public somewhere in this vast, glorious universe.
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The Troggs-BLACK BOTTOM CD-r burn (originally on New Rose or RCA depending on which one ya have)

's always good giving a listen to this once-omnipresent early eighties Troggs platter, which I believe was the first album the legendary band from Andover did after hipster pundits kept writing about how there wouldn't be any punk rock if these guys weren't around, or at least something like that. Yeah the re-dos of "Strange Movies" and "Feels Like a Woman" ain't as stellar as the originals, but the title track and such gems as "Bass For My Birthday" are typically top notch Troggs tracks that coulda easily passed for sides to be found on some rare English punk rock collectible yet to be discovered. As a bonus there's yet more rarities and re-dos including a medley of sixties hits done Troggs style, not to mention the infamous "Troggs Tapes" which really washed alla them thoughts we had about these guys being clean mouthed nice guys outta our system for good!
***
MOONDOG CD (Prestige)

More of that by-now ancient "outsider" underground music that was uncategorizable then and perhaps remains so even to this day. Having wondered about this infamous street performer ever since espying his early-seventies albums at the National Record Mart, it's sure interesting to give this 1956 debut platter of his a go 'round, and as you might have expected it's just as outside-the-realm nutzo crazy to appeal to a man of universal tastes such as myself. Ethno polyrhythms intermingle with Indian and Far East melodies making this one good entry into the early jazz avant garde canon.  A general feeling of etherealness also permeates yet you thankfully end up feeling more beat 'n hippie when it's all over. And best of all, it doesn't have that decadent hate-everything-good-'n-righteous smarm that has ruined most anti-establishment tracts from the seventies onward, and that's something we can ALL be thankful for!
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GRAHAM KENNEDY'S BLANKETY BLANKS CD-r burn (originally on Laser, Australia)

Oh chee...an Australian version of the old MATCH GAME program! Those of you Amerigan kiddoes who rushed off your homework in order to catch the original version on CBS every afternoon at 3:30 can now enjoy this '77-'78 spinoff that's guaranteed to be just as dirty as the one you've grown up with for years. Once again cringe when Graham gives out the double-entendre-laden questions and you think the naive contestant is going to fill in the blank with something along the line of "anus" or "penis" or perhaps even worse. Enjoy the running gags involving "Cyril" and "Big Derek" not to mention the "Dick Did" routine and please keep in mind that Australians are simple people with a crude sense of humor so don't feel too smugly superior over them like we all tend to do.
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Mark Lindsay-LIFE OUT LOUD CD-r burn (originally on Bongo Boy)

When I saw that McGarry had sent me this one, I thought it was going to be another one of those Mark Lindsay solo albums like ARIZONA or YOU GOT A FRIEND. You know, the kinda schmoozy stuff that misguided teenagers bought for their dads for Christmas gifts back in the seventies because it seemed MOR enough and the dads hated that long hair stuff to no end anyway so there went all of those good intentions! Well this 'un ain't like that at all, and in fact it's a good enough rock 'n roll excursion that, while having somewhat of an eighties revival tinge, sure beats much of the competition out there all hollow. If Lindsay had joined the Flamin' Groovies or the Plimsouls, this is what the resulting album would sound like. PEBBLES consciousness lives, and via one of the originators to boot!
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Guardian Angel-INTO LIGHTNIN' CD-r burn (originally on Easy Action)

Former Rational Scott Morgan tried to keep the seventies full tilt with these two bands who, while continuing on the fine path of Detroit high energy rock, mostly met with indifference what with them coming off like a remnant of the recent past not too many "rock music" fans wanted to know about let alone remember. Nothing here's as hard-driving as the likes of the Stooges, but the studio and FM live material has enough of that rhythm and blues feeling that pretty much predated the "blue wave" sounds that would clutter up the underground in a few years time. Almost as good as Black Pearl as far as these white guy r&b crank outs tend to get.
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THE HOLLYWOOD STARS CD-r burn (originally on Arista)

Did I ever tell you that the only time I ever saw this album for sale was at a flea market back 1982 way? I passed on it because well, I thought that the Stars were gonna be geeky ultra-commercial pop rock that was more in tune for yer kid sister who was just getting weaned off Shaun Cassidy and wanted something just as comfortable and soothing to her adolescent acne-riddled existence. For years I buttkicked my psyche for making what I considered a major non-purchasing faux pas (almost on par with passing up not only the first Yardbirds album but some cheap exploito British Invasion crank out I haven't seen since, and at the SAME flea market only three years earlier!), but after finally hearing this thing all I gotta say is that I ain't missed much.

Even though the Stars got hefty BOMP! coverage and Kim Fowley kudos, I think they're just more sappy showbiz ultra-commercial pop with none of the AM zip of the Babys or Nick Gilder and hardly any high energy hard plop that made groups like the Flamin' Groovies must-get budget bin kings. After thirty-one years all I gotta say is that I knew how to save a good fifty cents, and that's no lie!
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Various Artists-MY FUNNY IRONSTRINGS POPPINS CD-r burn (submitted via Bill Shute)

Nize li'l selection here---some Mexican Big Beat courtesy Los Comodines (a song called "Puedo" which I think is Spanish for a male of loose morals), some pre-Blowfly soul courtesy Clarence Reid, da blooze via Chick Willis (always thought it was "Chuck") and the fun if antiseptic Crew Cuts start things out. Personal faves include the French all-gal rock 'n roll outfit the Lolitas who were produced by Alex Chilton as well as Pat Suzuki's vain attempt to save the entire female gender from total sag/pithair ruination with some sultry coo-ings. Totally cubesville (at least IMHO) is Ira Ironstrings aka Alvino Rey) with some of that cornballus instrumental music that got your Uncle Edsel and Aunt Flabby front and center for his appearances on THE KING FAMILY all those years ago. And Louis Prima singing MARY POPPINS??? After knowing where that tongue of his has been I think he needed to put much more than  a spoonful of sugar down his throat ifyaknowaddamean...

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

MOOM PITCHER REVIEW! FLATFOOT IN AFRICA (1978) starring Bud Spencer!

In this late-seventies smash up Bud Spencer proves that what he can do as well with Terrence Hill he can do just as well all by himself! Spencer plays a Naples (Italy, not Florida) cop named Rizzo who's on the trail of a South African-based drug smuggling cartel that is somehow tied in to the nation's diamond industry (Rizzo himself getting the few clews to work on from the lips of a dying South African agent). From there its straight to Johannesburg where Spencer not only meets up with a now-retired fellow cop named Caputo who's mostly in this film for comic relief, but a whole slew of high society swingers and other lily white types who I get the feeling have no place in the new South Africa now that it is being ethnically cleansed via murder and emigration!

At the risk of looking more like Lunchbox Larry and less like Pauline Kael I found this one pretty sock-pow action-packed myself, with loads of great violent fight scenes, comedic torture routines conducted by Spencer on various doofs out to get his hide, and its all with a good balance between action and har-hars even if some of the latter don't quite work out right (such as the scene where Caputo dons blackface and curtains to disguise himself as an African woman). Overall I'd say this is one of the better action/comedy films of the late-seventies that I've seen which didn't devolve into a grade-z cartoon like some of those auto chase films of the same strata more or less did.

One thing about the film that's bound to get more'n a few people's stomachs all gurgled up, besides the fact that this took place in apartheid-era South Africa, is the appearance of a young local named Bodo (played by Baldwin Dakile), the son of the murdered  agent who surprisingly enough takes to Rizzo as if he were Bodo's very own dad! Bizarre to say the least, though since this film was made before such ideas as young black kids looking up to big white men (non queerly, that is) was considered one big ethnic boo-boo I guess that at least Europeon film makers, being so far away from a lot of the Amerigan turmoil of the late-sixties, could get away with it. But nowadays with all of the racial strife going on such an idea wouldn't make it into a screenwriter's mind let alone a first draft. In some ways it kinda makes me long for the late-seventies when many of us thought all of that tribalism was long behind us, for in many ways it was.

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Yeah I know---who reads this blog anyway? Well, there's at least one person who does and that's none other than Paul McGarry. He's the reason why I am going to use the preamble to the following reviews (written for purely cathartic purposes---like I said, who reads...) to communicate directly with the ol' fanabla in a fashion that is way more secure than if I gave him a ring or wrote him a letter via post (his wife has been known to open his parcels). Why I am writing this particular introductory paragraph detailing our forthcoming plan I do not know because hey, you guys don't read it anyway.

Anyway Paul, when you come down to the tri-county area we'll meet in the parking lot at the Corral drive-in restaurant on Route 18. If you want to get a milkshake fine with me, but from there we will head off (in your car natch) for the First National Bank at the plaza where you will loot the teller's drawers while I help myself to free coffee. While bee-lining for the Big Town (New Castle) we can knock over a few gas stations on the way while you pump up...after all, that's a pretty long drive from Waterdown to this area. If you're interested in nookie I know where we can pick up some Amish gals or if we don't, I know where they keep the sheep.

Of course you may want to head for some Indian cuisine first. If so there's a good buffet in Niles Ohio and we can take our trail of terror west if you wish. However, considering some of the Mediterranean talent that's already operating in the Youngstown-Warren area ifyaknowaddamean it might be wiser to stick closer to home. If you do decide to head west I can always point out some of the highlights of the area such as the remains of the old Jungle Inn where Dean Martin used to man the blackjack table, or better yet the Bus Eubanks School of Announcing (or was it School of Broadcasting?).

If you don't feel like knocking over any banks maybe we can go to Linesville and feed the carp.

Then again if you're feeling tired and just want to stay home and sack out for a few more hours I'll understand. I'll be pissed, but I will understand.


Olivier Messiaen-COMPLETE ORGAN WORKS performed by Olivier Latry six-CD set (Deutsche Grammophon)

After hearing "Apparition de l'eglise eternalle" (or was it "La nativite du seigneur"?) on the local classical station this past Christmas Eve I figured that I needed to get more Olivier Messiaen into my life. Being an astuter person than you might have given me credit for I took myself up on the offer and bought this collection consisting of each and every one of his organ compositions. I just hadda...the howling freakout organ that was being presented that day was just so overpowering that I immediately flashed back to a late-seventies Memorial Day weekend play of some baroque organ program that was airing on yet another Ohio college station thinking about just how in-place a whole lotta the wail being heard that evening would have fit in if stuck between various krautrock and avant rock offerings. And this was before I even knew about Richard Meltzer's HEPCATS FROM HELL radio show where such a concept might have actually been fleshed out, though I get the impression without the krautrock considering that I don't know what Meltzer thought of the stuff one way or the other.

Spooky yet sensuous enough organ music recorded on the famous Notre Dame pipe machine that, while definitely in the avant garde realm, does retain a strong connection to the entire history of church music that I've been exposed to o'er the past few centuries. Maybe just a step or two removed from FESTIVAL OF FRENCH ORGAN MUSIC and just as repressive in the same way most great music (rock 'n roll or otherwise) is. Best of all, it has a deeply spiritual, ethereal effect on me that even Klaus Schultze never would have been able to pull off.

And it's mostly if not all religious as well, and just as in-tune with earlier sacred sounds from John Wycliffe on. Vibrant to the point where a good portion of anti-Christian art from the previous seven or so decades just looks like amateurish fluff in comparison. It's also good for washing the residue off your soul after a folk mass, so if you're ever roped into attending one of those monstrosities just slap one of these platters on (I personally recommend "Livre d'orgue") and get that "Kumbaya" out of your system once and for all!
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Toy-JOIN THE DOTS CD-r burn (originally on Heavenly Recordings)

At first I wonder why my ol' partner in crime Paul McGarry stuck me with this one, especially when you consider that I really don't go for any of this new rock 'n roll clatter that just doesn't have the Burroughsian grope of that old rock 'n roll clatter. But despite my misgivings I actually will go out on a limb and say that Toy are pretty----------------------decent. The group with the funny name are a new English "psychedelic" aggregate but they have little in common with either the Blighty psych groups of the late-sixties variety or the early-eighties acts that were springing up in the just post-new-as- gnu wave era (see A SPLASH OF COLOUR)...they sorta remind me of Ultravox with a tad bit of Kraftwerk and other kraut masters thrown in for good measure. Driving pop rock with a few interesting avant garde touches that don't bog the proceedings down or come off so sweetly precocious. Nothing that I would call overly essential, but a surprising change from the usual pace and something worth listening to from an up-and-going rock music concern as well.
***

Jerry Colonna-MUSIC? FOR SCREAMING!!! CD-r burn (originally on Decca)

Sheesh! I'm surrounded by wopadagos on a daily basis and now I hafta go 'n listen to 'em during my free time! All funnin' aside, the BOB HOPE sidekick screams and bellows through a whole buncha nice jazzers as well as barbershop quartet smoothies (all with himself quadrutracked!) on this 1954 outing that might put a smile on your Uncle Fafoof's face but for me has the same lasting impact of any comedy album once the needle lifts. That is...nada, unless you were one of those high school creeps who used to cum buckets with each and every re-spin of George Carlin's FM & AM. Play this one for people who think Eyetalians are supposed to be good singers and watch them dump their Perry Como albums but good!
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CHUBBY CHECKER'S PSYCHEDELIC ALBUM CD-r burn (originally on Underground Masters, the Cee-Dee reissue that is)

Well it ain't exactly called that---the correct title is just CHUBBY CHECKER. But it seems that everybody who comes in contact with this 'un calls it by the aforementioned so hey, why should I buck  the trend no matter how inaccurate I may be (and like, what else is new?). And frankly this ain't as bad an album as I thought it would be...mid-energy psychedelic rock recorded in Holland in the early seventies with just the right touch of relevance and enough heaviness that woulda made your mama (who thought Chubby was such a "nice" boy) shake her head in disbelief. If you like those Curtis Knight albums with Jimi Hendrix you'll like this...there's even a tribute to Jimi himself along with an ode to Jesus so you know just who are bigtime in Chubby's life! And to top it off there's even a drug-sotted pro-pot ditty that kinda cancels the holiness of the Christ thing out much to the glee of all of you heathens out there no doubt.
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Eddie Noack-PSYCHO, THE K-ARK AND ALLSTAR RECORDINGS, 1962-1969 CD-r burn (originally on Bear Family, Germany)

Didn't some mid-eighties Australian "garage band" act do a cover of this particular song entitled "Psycho" and we all thought that it was the Sonics fave? Whatever, here is the "hit" (more or less) version that was done up by Texas tunecroaker Noack, something which'll really make you really wonder just how such a sickoid song coulda made it into the nice 'n wholesome (well, that's what everybody thought back then!) world of country 'n western music without Noack comin' in for a bit of a lynching himself. If you like your backwoods downhome music sick, this is the one for you. Also contains a good twenty-three other songs for all of you snobbish Northern phony intellectual types out there to listen to in order to assuage your feelings about what you think of Southerners, kidding yourselves into believing you really like them when all you do is up your snouts at 'em like you do at Northern ethnics and other members of the real world who hold down jobs and just ain't as decadent as you obviously strive to be!  
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Sun Ra and his Astro-Infinity Arkestra-OTHER STRANGE WORLDS CD-r burn (originally on Roaratorio)

Magnif '67 sesh recorded with a stripped down Arkestra live in Ra's own apartment showcasing the group mainstays fiddling around with stringed instruments they know practically nada about. The results are brilliant in their exploratory way in the same fashion of a slow-burn Art Ensemble of Chicago workout, part addled yet with a strange drive that seems to protrude from every plunk and strum. Not anybody could have his band work out on junk shop mandolins and busted autoharps and get such engaging and downright entertaining music outta it, but Ra managed to with flying colors. Another one I can scratch off my next Forced Exposure order thanks to Bob Forward, so blame him guys, not me!
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 Various Artists-FINK ALONG WITH MAD CD-r burn (originally on Big Top)

Sure am glad that I didn't get to hear any of those beyond-the-realm-of-corn MAD albums that came out during the sixties, because if I did I probably would have been turned off to the entire MAD oeuvre faster than you can say "potrzebie"! Teenage pop circa '63 (as envisioned by middle-aged schmoozers) complete with lyrics that come off just as cubeoid as some of the material that was getting printed in the magazine not only then (the early sixties) but for years afterwards. One wonders if this wasn't produced by Dave Berg...it's that New York middle class suburban square. Maybe if Big Top coulda wrangled their big guns like Del Shannon and Johnny and the Hurricanes to lend a hand... Partially redeemed by the presence of Alfred E's stellar vocal appearance on "It's a Gas" as well as a revival of the all-time fave (via Mogen David) "Nose Job".
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Karlheinz Stockhausen-MUSIK IM BAUCH CD-r (originally on Douche Grammaphone)

I must admit that I haven't been paying that close attention to Stockhausen even before his infamous remarks about the destruction of the World Trade Center being "the greatest work of art that is possible in the whole cosmos" (sheesh, what about Hiroshima?),  but dang if Bill Shute didn't send this by-now rarity my way so it's like I gotta. The title track (performed by "Les Percussions de Strasbourg") mixes live performers with music boxes especially programmed for this piece, and it surprisingly reminds me more of John Cage's aleatory work than anything I have heard by Stockhausen. Also coming to mind is Michael Nyman's "Bell Set" off of DECAY MUSIC, something which might ring a ding with the rest of the suburban turds who first latched onto the concept of "new music" after Eno said it was hip.

"Tierkreis" is nothing but weird music box cantatas named after the signs of the zodiac, sounding like the kind of lullabies that I'm sure J. Neo Marvin got more than his share of during his own mid-day naptime ventures. It's that twisted, and would be bound to make a mental moosh outta you had you had these played to you at a young and impressionable age. And although you might think that this sorta concept is "nothing new", back when it was being created it most certainly was so quit acting like the pretend cultural avatar you most truly are!
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Various Artists-ONE-SIDED CUMULOUS CAKESHOP KITTENS CD-r burn (contributed by Bill Shute)

If I didn't say this one shot farther off course than that Malaysian jetliner I'd be lying more than Ginger Lynn. Goodie effort with plenty of better 'n the last ten years of comps garage band rock (the Bad Boys, Allusions, Hangmen and the all gal Butterflies), a li'l country (Jimmy Dean), bizarro avant garde (Simon Mathewson) and even a couple of those "song poems" that Bill sure wish he coulda sent his bux in for if only to hear "There Once Was a Man From Albuquerque" set to music. Some node-jarring music doth appear (such as by Montreal's Alcrete), while I sure got a good 'n hearty laff outta Uncle Clyde's open letter to some Soviet serf named Ivan which kinda comes off so conciliatory that you'd kinda think the authorities woulda dragged Clyde away for being such a pinko! Well, at least I woulda hoped so after giving a listen to this cornballus recitation guaranteed to melt the heart of your average gravestone-rubbing forever teenage beatnik cousin!

Wednesday, April 02, 2014


MOOM PITCHER REVIEW! TICKET TO DIE (a.k.a. INVITO AD UCCIDERE) starring Lewis Jordan (not the jazz guy, that's Louis---1966)!

Eyetalian spy films seem the stuff of Sunday afternoon sixties/seventies UHF teevee, and undoubtedly that's the feeling I got watching this particular endeavor. Lewis Jordan (or as he's known in the homeland Tiziano Cortini...what kinda name is that?) stars in this espionage flick as a secret agent who is let out to pasture for "health" purposes that, as the dialogue suggests, might have been brought on by himself. In order to make a big bundle (as if a secret agent's pension pays beaucoup) Jordan's on the hunt for a special formula divided into three separate pieces scattered across the European continent which he plans to sell to the highest bidder, and it ain't the recipe for Kentucky Fried Chicken either! Meanwhile he has to fight some tough guys and gets whooped pretty hard while also having to match wits with a former spy/friend doing a little catmouse, all the while taking heavy dosages of pain medication for reasons revealed toward the end of the moom.

Good stuff actually. Not brain-rendering or anything like that and kind of run through quickly if you know what I mean, but it has that mid-sixties spy feeling that I certainly remember from watching MAN FROM UNCLE and laughing my head off silly when that radio-controlled plane starts chases some scientist into a tent before exploding because it seemed so ridiculous. (And boy did I get yelled at!!!) Good dark ambiance here with of course the typical violence to keep our interest up. I especially like the part where some confederate meets his maker after the phone booth he's in  when its picked up by a crane and dropped from a height of at least 100 feet! I wasn't laughing at this one like I was when that model plane blew that scientist to pieces, but it did give me a slight throb thrill.

Of course just about any highbrow film snob'd up his nostrils at this spy craze pseudo-cash in, but then again that's why they don't tune into BLOG TO COMM now, isn't it?

Saturday, March 29, 2014

So like, uh, what have I been doin' these past seven or so earthspins anyway? What else but (once again) trying to get over the miasma of  having to live in a post-gulcheral 21st-century environment by resensifying myself with hotcha rockism-oriented reading material to accompany my evening musical listening excursions, THAT'S what! For me that means scraping up every shard of pertinent rock 'n roll-oriented reading material that had yet to graze my eyes and print it up for those pre-beddy bye hours when I'm just too tired to gaze at a computer screen but too mentally (and physically) active to actually go 'n hit the hay. Y'know, slip some late-sixties/early-seventies musical offering that has something to say as far as what a wretched fanabla I might be while reading some still-pertinent words written five decades back that seem to contain all of the meaning and knowledge I need to get through life, and if you can think of a better way to spend your evening hours other'n watching GILLIGAN'S ISLAND reruns then hop to it! And leave me alone while you're at it because frankly, I'd rather be spinning PARADIESWARTS DUUL while reading Nick Kent or some other worthy rockscribe that MATTERS!
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Speaking of Kent, I've discovered a whole load of his classic NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS scribblings that I do not have to pay ROCK'S BACK PAGES' steep costs for (a nice site they may be but man, music is for THE PEOPLE and this writing should be free to all at least if you want to use hippie terminology to back up your pallid argument). I just did a little googling and came up with some classic writeups that I didn't have to spend a dime for (other'n for toner and electricity) including a pretty funny putdown of Pink Floyd circa. WISH YOU WERE HERE as well as some choice words pointed at Lou Reed and Iggy that were uttered a good eight or so years back when everyone else was singing their hosannas to high heaven because---well, they were Lou Reed and Iggy Pop.

And while I'm at it, Kent's old galpal Chrissie Hynd(e) did a good job herself not only with that by-now famous Eno article where he discusses the pornography of the world but a review of the Velvets' 1969 LIVE album that's almost as good as the one her former Ohio buddy Peter Laughner did for the short-lived underground rag ZEPPELIN. Y'know, I really wish that Hynd(e) would have given up her musical endeavors (which were never anything to sneeze at) and stuck to rock screeding on a permanent basis. At least we wouldn't have been inundated with her band's rather fallow musings for lo these many years.

Like just about everything else connected with that once-driving and nerve-rattling world known as rock 'n roll, it's sure life-reaffirming to read these thirty-plus-year-old opines which sure make more sense'n anything that's been written since, including my own pissy prattle for a world long-dead if I must say so myself.  And as the years drag on and those high energy sounds seem more and more a relic of a time when music like this mattered on a first-hand basis, you know that the scribblings of Kent, Hynde, Bangs, Murray and so forth reverberate a whole lot more in our heart of rockist hearts now more than ever. Maybe it's time I crack out the check book and pay for another year of ROCK'S BACK PAGES because hey, I need Nick Kent TODAY a whole lot more'n ROCK'S BACK PAGES need the pittance I will have to pay ransom to get hold of their captive articles!
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I know I shoulda mentioned them when they first hit the blogosphere, but some of these stories might have been flying even lower 'n that Malaysian plane to the point where they even zoomed past me! So in order to at least fulfill some sort of imaginary duty that I might have to you, the perhaps not-so-discerning BLOG TO COMM reader, here are a couple of obituaries that I thought I'd better pass your way lest I end up looking like a total stroon...

The passing of Scott Asheton, or "Rock Action" of Iggy and the Stooges fame did catch me off guard, because head-buried-in-the-sand me didn't even know the infamous drummer for the band had suffered a stroke a few years back marking his exit from the revamped group in the first place. But yeah, I will say that Asheton's death was a big one in the world of true rock 'n roll (and yeah, we can bicker about what that means to me as a pure rock fanatic and you as a dabbler at a future date), a bigger loss than that of such other pounders as John Bonham (a mere piddler in comparison) and Jeff Porcaro, a guy who certainly gets the kudos from mainstream rock-bred dolts but not ME! Keith Moon came really close, but gets notched a few points for having a big prog rock gong in his early-seventies set up. Ditto Mani Neumaier of Guru Guru fame, although both he and Asheton were obviously listening to the new thing drummers from Sunny Murray and Milford Graves on which reverberated in their playing. And allow me to stick my neck on the guillotine one more time, but I still think that Asheton coulda played drums on a whole slew of free jazz sessions and sound just in place as Don Moye, and the fact that he didn't might have been one of the greatest losses in the avant garde jazz world since Eric Dolphy died strictly because he didn't take drugs or drink booze unlike his more inebriated fellow musicians.

Although just about every "classic rock" aficionado would definitely up snoot at Asheton's stylings, those of us on that sainted "lower" plane have always reveled in the fact that Asheton's entire approach seemed like he gathered all of his knowledge regarding the drums by listening to Elvin Jones and replicating what he heard while behind the traps. A wild and primitive sound to match the subhuman antics going on from the rest of the band, and at a time when critics were writhing in pain over the rise of heavy metal and all of the base sludge that music in its better form was infesting across the amber waves of grain, the Stooges were taking that basic groan and making it sound even lower to the point where the music had gone from one chord to none. It was a strange sideshow music, a real ass-rape to the phony peace and love generation antics that were getting all of the accolades and money-go-round support, and although things wouldn't really flower until a few years later you can't deny it was the Stooges who helped edge this new decadence along. And of course Asheton's drum prowess was a huge banging oil can vibrant thud component to it all.

Whatever, another great in the true world of rock 'n roll has died, and like I really do feel like my own folks did back when their old timey faves were dropping like flies throughout the sixties and seventies. Rest on Scott, and say hiya to the other Stoogesmen who beat you to the punch.
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While I'm at it, would this really be a blog that didn't know its duty (or should that be "doody") by neglecting to mention the recent passing of actress Mary Grace Canfield? I mean, who could forget that face which was proudly splattered across television screens throughout the sixties? Yes, none other than Ralph Monroe herself has gone to that big workshop in the sky (and as Brad Kohler said, "Now the Douglas's closet will never be finished!") and of course I couldn't be any sadder. I mean, this was one lady who really got around on tee-vee back then, and not only that but she appeared in a whole load of top-notch high-energy comedies from THE HATHAWAYS (the one where Jack Weston and Peggy Cass lived it up with the Marquis DeChimps in a boffo early-sixties Screen Gems Production that somehow foreshadowed BEWITCHED on a whole slew of levels) to THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW not forgetting more'n a few sitcoms (and even serious shows) that used to light the pre-prime time syndication cathodes until they got replaced with snoozeville entertainment news programs. Heck, as I mentioned she even turned up as Miss Grundy on that strange (because it had little to do with the actual comic) ARCHIE pilot, and if I could think of any actress other than Canfield to play the eternally spinster teacher it would have to be...Minerva Urecal but I don't even know if she was still alive at the time.

Brad thinks that Canfield's finest moment was that ANDY GRIFFITH episode where she plays Gomer Pyle's blind date and he runs off after gettin' a good eyefulla her, but that's only because he forgot to buy her a corsage like Andy and Barney did for their gals and the two of 'em end up partying it up in the living room anyway while Andy, Barney, Helen and Thelma Lou spend their evening thinking that Gomer was being nothing but a turdburger. Of course that's before Gomer espies Opie skinny-dipping across the way with the moonlight reflecting on his buttocks and highlighting them in a rather resonating way, accentuating his smooth mounds and cleavage and...oh that Brad really does have an active imagination because none of that really happened! In actuality right after the date Gomer did his usual Saturday night rounds at the Mount Pilot Greyhound bus station and YMCA acting extra friendly to the lonely boys striking out for fame and fortune in the big city...I mean, what did you think???
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And now here's something I hope you really like! Gotta say that I've been pretty busy writin' up the revooze this week, and as you can see I've been inundated with a wide variety of boffo wares this go 'round that I will admit put a smile on my face and a song in my heart which is something that hasn't quite hit me in quite some time! Anywah, I get the same sneakin' feeling you'll be cozyin' up to these writeups as well given the plethora of hotcha information that's being spewed forth from my mental loins, and hey, if you even get aroused by my scribbles enough to latch onto one or more of these disques (some which still may be available!) I will be quite surprised. Y'see, I don't think anybody really reads this blog!


Simply Saucer-"Bulletproof Nothing"/"Bulletproof Nothing" (live) 45 rpm single (The Mammoth Cave Recording Company, Canada)

Big surprise of the week's this nice little single that reminds me of all of those other small-label self-produced singles I've been getting sent for a longer time'n I can imagine, if only because this 'un's a much better effort'n most of that ilk! Yes, it's a "new" one from perennial faves Simply Saucer, the fantastico "Bulletproof Nothing" done twice with the a-side being the familiar track from the always boffo CYBORGS REVISITED album while the flipster's a live take that sounds as if it could have been taken from the portable tape recorder of Imants Krumins himself. If I have to tell you how great and essential this is, you definitely must be a troll. One of the best pairs since Dolly Parton as they used to say, and a definite must for those of you (like me) who still seem stuck in a seventies underground rock whirl if only because just about everything else that came in its wake is but mere putty next to the original thrust of it all.
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THE CHILD SEDUCERS, written by John Steinbacher and narrated by John Carradine CD-r burn (dunno what label it was originally on ???)

Do you (like me) think we've been screwed up beyond redemption what with all of the rampant decadence and libertine behavior permeating even our own tri-state area (which I'll admit has always been filled with its share of  uppercrust WASP-y social reformer types and their fellow buttlappers)? If so, just give a listen to this 'un and tell me that the sickness hasn't been lingering on for quite along time before Ameriga had become a haven for bringing out the worst in man. John Carradine narrates John Steinbacher's etapoint text regarding the steady slope we've been sliding down for quite a long time, and given that these bizarre occurrences and factual displays of depravity were going on in our schools (and entertainment industry) even as early as the late-sixties it's a wonder that not only the nation, but the entire planet itself, hasn't spun outta control right into the sun if only to purify itself. I can't argue with anything that's been revealed on this platter, but considering how narrator Carradine had just finished filming his part in MYRA BRECKENRIDGE when he recorded this 'un don't you think he's being just a little more than hypocritical on his part???

Well, I must admit that I love it the way he reacts after mentioning a magazine article from some pervo-sexo rag entitled "Does Penis Size Matter?"!!!! UGH! indeed!
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MASTER PLAN INC. CD-r burn (originally on Jazzman)

Mid-seventies funk ain't exactly the thing that lights my pilot, but I gotta admit that the self-produced music made by this Chicago outfit is slightly engaging. Maybe its because these songs aren't glopped over with major label gloss that didn't always work out that well. Perhaps its due to the fact that some of these compositions are actually fine jazz-soul hybrids that don't sound like they're aimed at the same teenyboppers who voted "Kung Fu Fighting" the #1 song of all time on CKLW back '74 way. Maybe it's because there ain't a trace of disco beat to be digested. But mostly it's because none other than Paul McGarry sent me this 'un and if he likes it it gotta be good? Yes, I am not ashamed at taking the easy way out by resting on the laurels of someone whose tastes I really do admire!
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Silvio Gualda-PERCUSSION CD-r burn (originally on Erato, France)

Not so surprised that this 'un slipped past my feelers, but better now'n 2100. Gualda leads a rather bang up ensemble through two sides of Moderne music that's not as plutonian as Xenakis yet strong enough to get your pop flipping out worse'n the time you accidentally played "Our Bizarre Relationship" in front of Aunt Prudy at the confirmation party. Maurice Constant's "14 Stations" reminds me of a percussion backing for an AACM album (the tubular bells coming off veddy similar to Anthony Braxton's CCC work) while Stockhausen's "Zyklus" is so sparse you kinda think John Cage would have been suing. I plan on getting the recently-released Max Neuhaus version once I get some scratch together...dunno if these two "realizations" are anything that can be compared side-by-side but by gum, I sure am up to the job if I do say so myself!
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Matching Mole-BBC 1972 cassette tape dub (originally on B13)

Nope, dint buy this one, though I will say I was tempted. But hey, it ain't like I can have everything that I want, and for that matter I don't think I'll get everything that I need despite what Mick Jagger might think. But at least I got a dub of this thanks to Robert Forward via cassette tape with Leroy Jenkins' FOR PLAYERS ONLY on the flip. Nice to see you thinking about me Bob, but I already bought the latter with my hard-begged a short while ago a review of the actual vinyl which can be read almost directly below give or take a few writeups. But yeah, it's the thought that counts, and I gotta admit that it's grand to see that SOME people think only nice and precious thoughts about your humble reviewer while others certainly have the mental daggers forever aimed at a good and virtuous person such as I. But as well all know, that's the price ya pay for TELLING THE TRUTH!!!!!!

Robert Wyatt's post-Soft Machine effort doing the live thingie on the BBC with a future This Heater as well as some other Canterbury types whose other efforts escape me. Pretty hot in that early-seventies Soft Machine sorta way---jazzy yet nowhere near creating those knights in shining armor fending off dragons images that acts like Return to Forever and the Mahavishnus made a whole wad of dough with. In the reserved English avant jazz style that came up with more than a few import bin winners back in those days, and good enough that I might even comb through a few hundred boxes of cassettes to find my copy of LITTLE RED RECORD which I haven't spun in quite awhile and always considered a fairly feh effort in itself.
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Smegma/Blood Stereo-GUFF VOUT MULCH LP (Nashazphone, available via Forced Exposure)

Yet another amazing Smegma collaboration, this time with English beret and stale doritos eaters Blood Stereo making a pleasant racket that doesn't sound that different from the past thousand Smegma releases. But that doesn't matter a bit like you thought I thought it would. Pre-recorded bits of everything from old 78s and teach your parrot to whistle instruction discs intermingle with neo-free horns and patented tee-vee sitcom quips. Extremely engaging even if it doesn't exactly hit you over the head, and if you're patient enough you'll even get to hear some nice neo-Velvet Underground riff drone on side two, and I mean that in a positive, pre-Velvet cult of alternative drivel sorta way!

Reconstructive facial surgery is definitely not in Blood Stereo's health package.
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Leroy Jenkins/the Jazz Composers Orchestra-FOR PLAYERS ONLY LP (JCOA)

The writeup of NO ANSWER a few weeks back prodded me to get this by-now forgotten platter from '75 featuring noted AACM violinist Leroy Jenkins leading the Jazz Composer's Orchestra through two sides of free form brilliance that sorta represents where jazz was during those uneasy times between sixties freeform radicalism and late-seventies loft. Basically the Revolutionary Ensemble plus fifteen more musicians, Jenkins leads not only his fellow ensemble mates Sirone and Jerome Cooper but the likes of Anthony Braxton, Dewey Redman, Charles "Bobo" Shaw and Dave Holland among other worthies through some aural terrain that's surprisingly moving and engaging, not necessarily free metahonk splat but intricate and dare-I-say enveloping textures that can actually get you nice and relaxed while you still enjoy the form of it all. Definitely a must for AACM freaks as well as people like myself who sorta went head first into the new jazz via purchases of everything from the Creative Construction Company and Art Ensemble of Chicago with my hard begged money on the basis of some backpage CREEM magazine reviews and nothin' but!
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Kid Congo and the Pink Monkey Birds-HAUNTED HEAD CD-r burn (originally on In The Red)

Surprisingly wow-wee effort from Mr. Powers, the same guy who played for the Cramps, Gun Club, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds as well as a number of other groups I'm too tired to google at the time. If you (like me) thought the whole "garage band" idiom (whether it be revival/primitive rock/Anastasia Pantsios' asinine usage of the term to describe early Rush) was a dead and buried affair prepare to re-think your position after hearing this behemoth! A rehashing of old hoary riffage and ideals that don't sound like the latest bit of rockcrit fodder. Mature and maybe even erudite, yet retaining the boffo sub-schlub levels of punkitude that had me happily hopping through all sorts of bins for a good twenty years of my flea market existence. And I ain't just sayin' that because the leader of this group's a follower of this here blog!
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Various Artists-FRIED DENNY SUMMERTIME FOCUS CD-r burn (via Bill Shute)

Some famous artists (Booker T., Jimi Hendrix, Blue Cheer) mingle with the likes of Denny McLain at the organ on this new platter of strangeities culled from all over the web. A nice mix of soul, blues (and yeah, I do mean Jimi whom I should loathe for technical reasons only) and hard rock (Crazy Elephant, an act that I think could have developed into an underground contender with a little putsch), with the likes of Rodney and the Blazers, Lord Rockington's XI and Eddie Miller and his Oklahomans (doing the original version of Engelbert Humperdink's "Release Me"!) scattered about. Also included are both sides of the DENNY McLAIN AT THE ORGAN platter where the hits of the late sixties are played on the Hammond for your own personal pleasure. Dunno about you, but when I heard this 'un all I could think about was hitting the Rockshore Lounge on Route 87 for one of their Friday night all-you-can-guzzle seafood buffets...in 1967, that is!
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See you mid-week? So like I even have to tell ya???

Thursday, March 27, 2014

BOOK REVIEW! ELVIS DIED FOR SOMEBODY'S SINS BUT NOT MINE, a lifetime's collected writings by Mick Farren (Headpress, 2012)

Like Lenny Kaye, Patti Smith or Lester Bangs, Mick Farren was one of those rock writers who epitomized the best that the mid/late-sixties had to offer (which I will ashamedly admit consisted of more hippie musings than I ever would have given those lice-infested mutants credit for in the past) merged with the nascent underground energy and fury of what was being brandished around as "punk rock" during the early-seventies. All of which coalesced into something that was so interesting that even a suburban slob such as I hadda turn away from the HOGAN'S HEROES reruns once in awhile in order to pay some much needed attention.

Past + Present was always supposed to = Future, and although the eighties never did pan out as the ultimate culmination of rock 'n roll as it was supposed to stand for us as that International Youth Language at least hunting down long-gone Deviants albums and Mick Farren books was one good way to beat the squeaky clean gush that was that decade. If anything this is one reason I revere Mick Farren even if everything about him should have me rushing away from him like hillbillies from a bar of soap. And here, just in time for Farren's own skeedaddling from this mortal slinky came this book (actually a year in advance) which collects his writings in a nice little package which is something we all could have used a good decade or three back. But hey, why is it so sparse???

I guess it's because there just ain't enough of the Mick Farren we want in this book and just too much of the one we get! Mick was a whole lotta things to a whole lotta folk from a hippie provocateur to proto punk leather hood as well as a Science Fiction writer and all 'round kultural kritik whether it be political, societal or (best of all) musical. Even tee-vee, which is something you wouldn't have thought afro-haired  rabble rousers watched. But it's all here and although ELVIS DIED does hunk out a good cross-section of Farren's scribing for a wide array of publications it just doesn't satisfy you the way I'm sure that issue of THE NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS did to all you English kiddies once you got hold of the latest issue and rushed to the comfort of your fart encrusted boudoirs and read the latest scribblings courtesy Farren et. al. with unbridled teenage glee.

Speaking of NME I sure coulda used more of Farren's rants for that paper of record and tape because frankly there just ain't enough to satisfy me here. We do get some choice articles including a pretty high-larious one on Frank Zappa conducted during a time when Zappa was suing the Royal Albert Hall because they wouldn't let him perform "Penis Dimension", while the one with Chuck Berry is also a top notch must-be-read-by-everyone bit, especially the point where Berry tells Farren (and with a straight face at that) he was never ever in prison! Not once in his entire life which is a point I'm sure Farren coulda easily counteracted though really, how would it have looked if he got in a barroom brawl with one of the originators of rock 'n roll anyway??? I mean, this sure wasn't gonna be Lester Bangs going tootsie-to-tootsie with Lou Reed and although I wouldn't have minded reading about a possible Farren/Berry kerfuffle it is nice to know that Farren had a sense of caution about him!

This is the Farren I plunked down my precious kopecks for and I sure wish I coulda read more of his rock-oriented odysseys in them thar pages.

Not that his LA READER,  CITYBEAT and TROUSER PRESS material was anything to kerchew at, but by the eighties I guess everybody was getting worn out. And with the quality of music sinking oh-so-fast it wasn't like raving buckets over Pebbles was akin to the pioneering screech of Richard Meltzer's review of Jimi or Lester Bangs rhapsodizing over Count Five albums that were never made. But while Meltzer lost faith in the rock aspects of sound after the capitulation of late-seventies underground and Bangs died probably because he saw the future and it was Chuck Eddy, Farren managed to exist as a bonafeed rock writers for quite some time after most thought the entire game was dead and gone. Of course he was writing about subjects that weren't always within the mindset of your average punque wannabe but hey, if you hadda read an article on David Bowie or even Michael Jackson better it be from the pen of Farren than the Glade Air Freshener prose of your typical college paper glitzy who gets her oh-so descriptive adjectives from tampon boxes. Farren's eighties work is so good and beyond the dimension of press sheet hype you get the feeling that he's still trying to cling to the wild rampant rockism of the seventies until they pried it from his stiff, dead fingers.

Of course Farren's more politically-oriented opines don't always jibe with me, and it ain't exactly because I really don't see eye-to-eye. Sometimes I do believe-it-or-leave-it, but when Farren talks politics he comes off about as patented left groove as many mainstream conservative pundits fall into their own comfy enclaves. His admiration for Che Guevara rots even more now that the truth about the motorcycle longhair being a rock 'n roll hating guy who shot twelve-year-olds and bashed heads with shovels has come out, and while his critiques of the cagey politicians who make up the Amerigan "conservative" movement do ring true at least when he isn't getting into a kultural revolution snit he sure does his best keeping his eyes closed to some of the atrocities being perpetrated by those on his side of the Great Political Divide. I will give him kudos for seeing the political worth of the Ron Paul Revolution no matter how little of a threat it may be at this time in history, but you can read similar-minded takes and fits on-line just about anywhere you look now, albeit none of the writers would have a rock 'n roll rapsheet as long and gnarled as Farren's.

You get lyrics, chapters from a variety of Farren novels and even a forward from Charles Shaar Murray. Unfortunately you don't get such wanted wonders as Farren's articles on STAR TREK or Kenneth Anger let alone some of his early record reviews for IT or even that great piece on the El Lay hardcore scene that popped up in an '81 NME, I guess we should be thankful for what we've received (like the prophetic "The Titanic Sails at Dawn") though man, I sure could have used some more rockist action and less El Lay schmoozing that's for sure!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

YEESH, IS IT TIME FOR YET ANOTHER FANZINE FANABLA ALREADY???

Here are just some of the old-timey fanzines that have been making my acquaintance for the past few months, and if you must know I think they're a pretty good batch as far as these home-paste jobs tend to be.

Anyhoo, a while back, in fact in the previous fanzine fanabla, I mentioned the acquisition of a certain little publication that was going by the moniker of TEENAGE RAMPAGE. It was a fun-packed low-budget affair with no pix or snaps of any kind, filled to the brim with real snotty fanzine-styled rants 'n raves regarding the favorite records of some guy who was writing under the nom-de-typewriter Ricochet. I ingested it a lot, and I sure as shooting wanted to find more of these which, in this day and age, is all but an impossibility unless you just happen to know someone selling old fanzines or get just plain get lucky.

But I wasn't getting lucky with Groovytunesdays, who kept ignoring my request to purchase an early issue (a two sheet debut if I remember correctly) which only goes to show you that they probably want to do business with me about as much as they want to volunteer for exploratory sphincter stretching research (and who knows,given the people who run the business' moral fiber maybe they do!). However, as luck would have it none other than Ricochet himself was doing his own blog entitled GROWING OLD WITH ROCK & ROLL, a nice li'l read that seemed to take up where his fanzine has left off way back sometimes in the late-seventies. And back when he was closing up shop this past December 31st he was requesting from his readership just what they'd like to see in the blog's final days, spotting an opportunity to fill them missing gaps I asked if he reprint some of his old TEENAGE RAMPAGE material for us, either on-line or in the pulp and you know what, the man actually did!

Or at least two issues, in fact the following two (see directly below) which I had already received via a lucky ebay auction, but I was still grateful to get 'em because y'see, these new ones looked so crisp and fresh and besides, I think that the ones I bought had some missing pages and as you all know I am a completest when it comes to seventies rock fanzines. So even if I am still missing some of the mag's run at least I got hold of these to help fulfill my quest for seventies greatness, and as you'd expect I am feeling rather perky myself!

The issue which is numbered 606 is the smaller of the two, and contains lots of potent musings that despite their low-fidelity and near-crudzine appearance really do prove this mag to have been a spiritual descendant of BACK DOOR MAN if not CAN'T BUY A THRILL. Included is an interesting opening bit urging everyone out there to latch onto the NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS (Ric mentioned how he turned down an offer to be their midwest correspondent!) because of the writings of Charles Shaar Murray, Mick Farren and (now get this!) Tony Parsons and Julie Burchill which stymies me to no end because I loathe Burchill with a passion and y'know, I woulda thought that Ric'd know better'n that! But y'see, Burchill gave TEENAGE RAMPAGE a hot mention in one of her columns and that sold Ric on her, which only goes to show you what one good plug could do to an otherwise sane person! I mean, a few people have praised my own rockscreeding these past thirtysome years, and you know how much love I have for humanity at large let alone people who have been writing about rock 'n roll (or what passes for it) for quite some time!

But all kidding aside (I mean, I am treated with about the same amount of respect as a rock "writer" as Brad Kohler is treated as a serious artist), this particular ish of TEENAGE RAMPAGE is all the rage even though it is a four-sheet, one-sided read. Yes its got poetry and a piece on an imaginary radio station that plays ONLY the hot rock items (a station I'd sure like to listen to on a dark and lonely summer's night at three inna morn!), but it also has bits 'n feces on the likes of DMZ, reviews of the debut Clash and Sex Pistols albums, and even a writeup of the Wayne Kramer jail single that was even getting mentioned in major "respectable" mags who'd forgotten the MC5 years ago! And yeah, you could have read all about it in the latest British weekly or CREEM if you so desired, but sometimes it just comes off better hearing it from the likes of some suburban fanabla just like yourself!

The ish with Fred "Sonic" Smith doing his Pete Townshend guitar whomp (#505) probably precedes the above ish, but it sure seems like it came after not only because it has more pages, but because this 'un sports a couple of contributors of fanzine worth. One of 'em is Nancy Foster, the same lass who once ran the boffo NEW AGE and GROOVE ASSOCIATES 'zines back in the seventies and early-eighties. The other is Lisa Baumgardner, a Clevelander best known to the world for her BIKINI GIRL fanzine as well as having been one of many cohorts of the late Peter Laughner which should give her some rockist brownie points somewhere in a more just universe. Baumgardner's contribution to this issue is a review of a live Dead Boys performance while Foster rants on about her own personal faves of the day, most notably Starz and Piper (gotta get their records if only to hear them unreleased Sidewinders tracks!).

Ric does his part well too with his piece on Thundertrain, Tom Petty, the MC5 (in yet another "heartfelt appreciation") and other late-seventies upstarts who probably didn't get to go as far as they thought they could. Great fannish writing (so good you know that nobody involved would ever be invited to write for ROLLING STONE), and once again everything is so straightforward and energetic in a way that is hardly seen anymore which does make me wanna shed a li'l tear if I wasn't already cried out after the cancellation of LEAVE IT TO BEAVER. After putting this down all I wanna do is go and spin all of my class seventies single and album sides 'till I can't take it no more. Can't think of anything else a fanzine really should do now, can I?

A final note, along with my fresh and crisp copies of TEENAGE RAMPAGE Ric sent me a bonus, an ORIGINAL first edition issue of the mag which was a large one-sheet run off on one of those old-time xerox copiers that came out kinda blurry and on rough if glossy looking paper! A neat effort too considering all of the information that was to be found on two sides of  10 X 14 paper (I'd love to reprint it for you here but my scanner is just way too small...and I'm not sorry about it at all). It's got the bop too, what with a pic of the Up's Gary Rasmussen, a bit on how Ric and his workcrew sang "Dominance and Submission" at an eatery at two inna morn, and reviews of a variety of recent releases including Alice Cooper's "Only Women Bleed"! And tell me, what could you or I manage to muster up with just two pages of paper at our disposal???
***

I've possessed the second issue of LA BEAT for quite some time, so I must say that finally getting the first ish of this lost-in-the-shuffle mag was something that fulfilled my inner rockist spirit if only for a few nanoseconds. It sure is refreshing to go back to them days when new wave still meant something exciting before the moneybags commercialized the entire genre beyond recognition, and although you might think that groups such as the Stranglers, Generation X, the Zippers and of course the Mumps are/were just more of the same old I still find them about as refreshing as a gulp of ice cold water on a hot summer's day. Can't say the same about a good portion of groups that were coming out at the time, but the way I look at it it's either this or Chuck Eddy's favorite classic rock bongbusters and it ain't like I'd ever care to listen to another spin of "Heard it From a Friend" as long as I live!

This ain't some throwout crudzine but a well-produced effort and real fan-oriented t'boot. The phone interview with Hugh Cornwell from the Stranglers is a hoot since he's coming off as gruff and as narcotic-induced as his image has lent him to be, while the rest of the interviews and writeups on the groups in general are just as fannish and as down to your level as many of these late-seventies El Lay-area fanzines were. Consider it a "nicer" version of BACK DOOR MAN or DENIM DELINQUENT and you're about halfway there.
***
I think I first read about SNEAKERS in the first issue of KICKS...maybe not, but this sure seems like one of those fanzines that Billy and Miriam would have loved the dickens outta while loathing all of those "punk rock" rags that people were sending 'em! Funny, this one seems just about as punk rock as the rest of those mags B&M were getting hold of, but maybe they were talking something a little more "esoteric", like "punque" or "pUnk" rather than "punk". But still, SNEAKERS was a boffo rag in the tradition of all of those crazy French fanzines from ROCK NEWS on, and between the great print job and nice saddle-stapled look this 'un ranks with many of the winners on the scene from BACK DOOR MAN and DENIM DELINQUENT on...too bad it's all in French because I can't read the thing too well!


The Tom Petty piece doesn't exactly light up my life (gotta admit that I like what I've heard of his first long playing record but after that when he became a classic rock monger I just couldn't take his more singer/songwriter rant), but I thought that the Peter Hamill "blind test" was interesting, or at least what I could make out of it (he was played a nice variety of tracks from the Music Machine's "The People in Me" to Syd Barrett's "Octopus"). Also interesting are pieces on Buddy Holly, Dave Edmunds and of course Eddie and the Hot Rots, and not only that but a whole slew of records that I remember looking at lovingly at the local shop (as well as those too obscure to make it there) are reviewed giving me those late-seventies record throb thrills that I most certainly desire. And how could anyone hate a mag which features on their back cover the "Free Wayne Kramer" drawing that is pictured on the right anyway? The people who put this mag out really had a great love for rock music and it shows on each and every francophonic page!
***
It's always great reading fanzines put out by high school kids, some of them surprisingly readable and thought-provoking while others showing the need for mandatory remedial thinking classes. MAKE IT IN THE BUSINESS WORLD is one that came out of late-seventies New York, and for a bunch of teenage rock 'n roll fans all I gotta say is that these guys did what I would assume most teenagers with an access to a typewriter and photocopier would do. A nice job, that is!

Layoutwize this is similar to the various Solomon and Jay Gruberger offerings that have been making their presence known since at least the mid-seventies. Loads of cartoons (both original and "Bazooka Joe") fill the pages which also happen to be filled with articles and reviews of acts on the MAKE IT IN THE BUSINESS WORLD faverave list such as Blondie and the Ramones. There are even some short stories included which I gotta say seem too esoteric and heady for a kid to have written. But hey I could be wrong...I mean, as I told Don Fellman there are no kids today, and maybe that was the case thirtysome years ago only nobody bothered to tell any of us.
***
Here's an old one...VIBRATIONS began life as a fairly accurate imitation of the original CRAWDADDY before it morphed into a Boston/underground paper with the typical altruistic outlook that you could find in just about any other teen dweeb political project of the day. This particular issue in question (#61) is a good case in point, a slim volume with the standard New Left politics and only a little bit on rock, in this case part one of a Keith Richards interview that originally appeared in VIBRATIONS' "sister" publication ZIGZAG. There's also a review of an appearance by John 'n Yoko on DAVID FROST as well as something on Alice Cooper's Boston debut which concentrates more on the group's sexual shock value and very little on the music which is described as being "Zeppelin-esque". Can't say that I got as much outta Jon Kreidl's efforts with this one as I did with the material appearing in his earlier efforts, for this is the sound of a movement running out of so much steam that you couldn't even hear the put-puts of the once-roaring engine anymore.


The next issue (#61-A) is a return to the mag's early fanzine roots, albeit printed on one-sided mimeo as opposed to the offset and saddle-stapled look of the originals. A Dylan special so-to-speak with nothing but a wide array of articles relating to the recently-released Tony Scaduto bio. Not much here other'n loads of standard early-seventies theorizing with the usually lofty and romantic reminiscences regarding Dylan as well as Suze Rotolo of FREEWHEELIN' fame, and if you could find any real information or spark in whatever was printed on those eleven pages I certainly do congratulate you!

Maybe if one-time contributor and valid rock scribe in his own special way Jonathan Richman had only stuck around...at least his teenage-intellectual opinions and style acted as a counterbalance against the more heady ruminations to be found in mags like VIBRATIONS and FUSION (another Boston worthy) at the time. Maybe not, but I sure find those late-sixties scribblings of his on everything from the Velvet Underground to the Rolling Stones to be a whole lot more valid'n what the fin-de-la-hippie writers were pouring out of their vapid souls at the time.
***
COLLUSION's an interesting fanzine. Well, let's just say that it ain't a fanzine in the fanzine sense, but it's interesting nonetheless. If anything, I would call COLLUSION a fanzine written by English intellectual types who are into all sortsa things and who decided to put their writings into print. So you get more or less of a "World Music" bent here, not to mention contributions from the likes of such English avant gardists as Steve Beresford and Lol Coxhill writing about a wide array of subjects from Japanese Enka music, Bollywood, African music, Amerigan soul sounds of the sixties, Cajun zydeco music, Carol Kaye, the Dennis Wilson/Charles Manson/Kenneth Anger connection and loads more. There's even an interview with Gavin Bryars and (now get this!) an article by Simon Frith on longtime English fan fave Gracie Fields (she was the one who was married to the horrid Eyetalian comedian Monte Banks, the only guy I know of who made a comedy short about wife beating!).

With the likes of the aforementioned writers (not forgetting David Toop of Obscure Records fame) you might expect COLLUSION to be kinda dry and it is, but I for one enjoyed the reams of information and general atmosphere it exuded, and I kinda wish that more fanzines that were trying for the innerlektual crowd woulda been as well put together and as streamlined as this. Who knows, if I bothered to keep that term paper on electronic music I wrote during my Sophomoric year in high school (the one where my typist sister mis-spelled "Sun Ra"), it might have appeared in the pages of COLLUSION!
***
I wasn't rich enough to gather up all of the KICKS-inspired fanzines that thankfully sprouted up throughout the eighties and nineties, so coming across a mag like BROWN PAPER SACK really does thrill me to no end! A nice product too with slick cover and nice layout (reminds me of the higher quality sci-fi and comic book fanzines of the sixties), BROWN PAPER SACK was devoted to Southern garage bands of the sixties, a subject that was certainly worthy of scrutiny considering just how many of these bands remained a mystery to most of us for a longer time than any of us could imagine.

The cover story on the Five Canadians (of "Writing on the Wall" and "Never Alone" compilation fame) get their fifteen minutes (and what a good fifteen minutes it is!), while other Southern treats like the Bad Roads and Oedipus and the Mothers also get their just dues. The piece on New Orleans garage bands was also a hoot, especially since one of my psycedelic favorites the Greek Fountains not only get mentioned but also get pictured, and boy did they look 1966 long hair rock group creepy enough that your grandpappy woulda gotten his shotgun out if he saw 'em trouncing the front lawn!

Interesting note... the Fountains' psychedelic masterpiece "An Experimented Terror," a track which not only the liner notes to BEYOND THE CALICO WALL but my own ears would have led us to believe was a direct swipe of the Red Krayola's "Free Piece", was actually recorded an entire year before that infamous GOD BLESS THE RED KRAYOLA track! Also revealed is the origin of the group's supposedly stoic name...nothing esoteric here, since "Greek Fountain" is fraternity slang for puking! And if it weren't for BROWN PAPER SACK do you thin we would have known any of this? I sincerely doubt it, pard'ner!
***
Now let's talk about some "serious" fanzines, even more serious than COLLUSION. By this I mean the kind of 'zines that weren't as frolicky frivolous as the ones who were clearly feeding on the teat of Bangs, but the ones that were a whole lot more studious or intellectual or just plain ol' STODGY! Y'know, those that were less punk and more progressive which isn't anything evil mind you, it's just that these mags never did make for a funtime sit-yourself-down read the way many of the mags mentioned above did.

Sometimes these 'zines broke out of their supposedly self-imposed studious credos and did make for excellent reading whether in front of the stereo on plunked on the toilet. EUROCK was one fanzine that could balance gonz and journalistic especially when they had Hot Scott Fischer writing for 'em during their earliest days. But these 'zines at times tended to be quite serious and academic, and that doesn't quite serve the music being covered even if it is serious and academic.


IMPETUS is a good example of a fanzine that tended to be quite refined which at times might have suited the subject matter at hand. An English publication, IMPETUS existed at a time when a "new music" that was part past avant garde accomplishment coupled with seventies innovation certainly needed as much exposure as it could possible stand, and despite the at-times formal feeling I will admit that they did a passably good job of it. Coming off like a house organ for a seventies college radio station all-night playlist, IMPETUS at least knew how to hit the right buttons with their mix of avant old and new where the likes of articles on Gyorgy Ligeti and Olivier Messian could intermingle with Can and This Heat, and while you're at it throw some of the new jazz of Carla Bley and Keith Tippet in for good measure.

Yeah, the interview with Irmin Schmidt was a bit dry (and no new light was shed on Can in the process) but it was a good enough effort especially for long-hungering fans who certainly weren't reading about the group in the pages of CIRCUS. The articles on important figures in the new jazz were mildly engaging even if CODA did a better job of covering the jazz avant garde without succumbing to pseudo-intellectual gaga. And really, I gotta admit that reading about some of my more "underground" rock favorites does sound better when its coming from the typewriters of serious music aficionados rather'n some hippies who couldn't tell a Modern Lovers from a New Riders or an amerindie College Dork class of '89 who funneled his entire knowledge of rock music through the butthole of Parke Puterbaugh. It doesn't always work that way, but here it does.
***

While IMPETUS might have been intellectual it was also quite professional. FACE OUT on the other hand was more in the traditional fanzine style of mimeo/xeroxed single sheets of pecked out paper with perhaps a neet drawing to decorate the page a bit.

Comparisons with the original EUROCK would also be worth of mention if only that there seemed to be a fannish appreciation of the music (in this case mostly the German expressionists) and the impression that these pages were being written by the peoples in the audience rather than those in the classroom. The simple drawings on the cover also hearken back to the old Science Fiction and Fantasy 'zines of the thirties onward, and in many cases you can see a direct line of influence between those early self-produced efforts that these showing that maybe not that much had changed in the past forty years.


Great pieces whether they be appreciations or reviews appear too, proving once again that it is the schmuck banging these articles out in the dead of night who has the right approach to music as that magic save-all as opposed to most of those big-city rockcrit types who thankfully lost their jobs around the times the financially-strapped newspapers hadda do a great deal of cutting back. And although a tad bit of an intellectual air does tend to seep through at times, I'm in it for the rock 'n roll point of it. Meaning, I get more excited when I read a reference to the first Faust album sounding like a cross between METAL MACHINE MUSIC and "Sister Ray" or the umpteenth comparison twixt Can and the entire oeuvre of the original Velvet Underground. But I guess that's just me---you might find your own instant pushbutton thrills in FACE OUT if you just look hard enough.
***

Hmmmmm, a fanzine from Western Pee-YAY and from the mid-eighties, and it ain't mine either! Not only that' but the thing's actually named after a Velvet Underground song which does show more imagination than naming 'em after Stooges or MC5 ones. And Gerry Goffin and Carole King are on the cover too---should be a nice historically balanced read with articles on rock 'n roll accomplishments past and present, eh? Well, I was wrong about that because Goffin and King are nowhere to be found on the insides, but what is doesn't quite jibe with my own "horse-blindered" musical tastes.

Face it, WAITING FOR THE MAN is just one of the million hardcore-era punk fanzines of the day, complete with local scene reports and reviews of the latest hardcore/underground releases. Stuff which might jibe with the MAXIMUM ROCKNROLL audience but seemed a tad outdated once the mid-eighties rolled in and people like myself discovered that all of those hardcore punks were nothing but hippies with cry-over-a-broken-flower emotions. Awww, it's a nice effort for what it is even though this one dates back to an era in rock that didn't seem all that I hoped it would have been cracked up to be which might just be my problem but should have been yours as well.
***

LIQUORICE was a short-lived (though lasting a good eight issues) English fanzine that I once bought for an interview with a Kilburn and the High Roads-period Ian Dury, but I thought it was generally a stuffy sort of affairs which is strange considering how many of these early-mid-seventies English rags were pretty lively affairs. The John Cale interview featured on the cover of this second issue (released "Summer 1975") certainly hooked me and it is a fairly good 'un even if nothing special is revealed other'n the fact that the landlord at John and Lou Reed's Ludlow Street digs used to pick up the rent toting a gun. Other'n that, this is an OK sort of mag dealing with some of the bigger names on the up 'n coming English music scene such as Be-Bop Deluxe and Canterbury prog rockers Hatfield and the North. And, proving that extremely bad ideas never do go away, there's also a huge interview with some act calling itself "The Women's Liberation Rock Band" which only reinforces my attitudes and beliefs towards what had become of the once snazzy female gender. After reading this one I get the idea that if any dogs were to come up to the band and sniff away in their usual fashion they'd all keel over dead within one good inhale.
***

As far as other mid-seventies English rock 'n roll fanzines go PENETRATION certainly hit my bullseyes with their great mix of late-sixties accomplishment meets early/mid-seventies high energy, something which did point the way for the late-seventies eruption which the mag was fortunate to cover at least for a few issues. Although I have most all of this mag's run available via xeroxed copies, originals are mighty hard to come by these days which is why I'm glad that I got hold of this third issue which, besides featuring a boffo interview with long time English underground eccentric Steve "Peregrine" Took, also's got pieces on the Velvet Underground, Captain Beefheart, Kevin Ayers and some hip BBC "musical presenter" named Mike Sparrow who had a radio rock talk show which must have seemed like a good idea what with the place and time.

Again there ain't much we haven't already known to be found within these pages (other than Took's mentioning  of a single featuring himself and some Pink Fairy and Hawkwind types going under the name "The First Eleven" who dressed in cricket gear) , but back in 1975 I'm sure just about any stories regarding the Velvets or Beefheart would have been welcome in any self-respecting pimplefarm's fart-encrusted boudoir to be happily read while said denizen played these acts' records for the very first time. A good place to experience a whole lotta British (and Amerigan) underground worship as well as that strange nether-region between the whole Pink Fairies/New York Dolls/Stooges rage of '73 and the various hard-gunch sounds that were to catch everybody by surprise a good year or so later.
***
In closing I thought I'd mention this interesting piece of nonfiction that I picked up under the guise that it was an actual fanzine. It's more like a fan club newsletter, since  SPARKSOUNDS is the "organ" for the International Sparks Fan Club, and this '97 issue does its fanclub doody well with a rundown on the then-recent Sparks REWORKING album. Eight pages of blue fannish flailings and straightforward sparksy answers to fanclub members earnest questions. Did you know that Ron Mael drove a VW Kubelwagen? Most interesting thing about this 'un appears on the inside spread reprinting a Sparks piece from a Glasgow newspaper...the piece is standard professional goo of course but that photo...Ron and Russ look like half of Kraftwerk from a 1975 photo session...I mean, you can just feel the Nazi aura which I will admit even gives a strong-stomached seen-it-all kinda fanabla like myself the creeps! So until then, see you in the interrogation room!