Saturday, January 18, 2020

Gotta lotta fat to chew on this week as you will see if only you don't click me off and go search out something more suitable to your personal tastes, like NAMBLA NEWSLETTER or DECADE OF HOUSECAT ANAL CAVITY CAPACITY STUDY ENDS knowin' you guys. Got some really good 'uns to brag about as to having and holding as my own, and as usual thanks go to people like Bill, Paul and PD for the submitted goodies for which this blog could not survive without. Extra BIG thanks goes to one Mr. Cheese Borger who sent me a buncha platters gratis if only because I bought one of his old fanzines (which you were read about probably later this year) via an ebay auction without asking or pleading for which is usually what I have to do in order to get the kinda music I want, cash-strapped man I was, am and shall remain! Sheesh, true BLOG TO COMM gratitude doesn't get any better than this, and your wares are most certainly needed especially in these dry and decidedly anti rock 'n roll times.
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But before we get into the proper mode of things, I feel that it's best to give a mention regarding the recent passing of Steve Martin Caro, the lead singer for the Left Banke throughout their roller coaster career from the mid-sixties into the seventies when such winners like the tracks from the HOT PARTS soundtrack were laid down to little notice other'n via THE ROCK MARKETPLACE. I'd mention that feh disco reunion single from the late-seventies but I'd prefer to keep this obit free of any tingling sense of controversy. So I won't.
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And now here's what you haven't exactly been waiting for, but I get the idea you'll lap it up anyway...


FRENCH IS THE AVANT GARDE WORD FOR SHIT? NO WAY LENNON!!!

Jac Berrocal-1972-1976-1979 3-LP Set (Rotorelief Records, France)

Etron Fou Leloublan-BATTALAGES, LES TRIOTS FOU'S PERDEGAGNENT (AU PAYS DES...), EN PUBLIC AU ETATS UNIS DE AMERIQUE CDs (Belle Records, Japan)

The French always used to get the short shrift when it came to being recognized for hotcha rock 'n roll music...the kind men like ifyaknowaddamean. You may remember Lou Reed talking to Lester Bangs about METAL MACHINE MUSIC mentioning how lousy French rock was which is a strange thing for him to say...after all the BEST of what France was dishing out rock-wise at the time was a nice encapsulation of the whole Velvet Underground soundrill wrapped up in Parisian decadent snoot. Pretty nice stuff when you get down to the whole Open Market/Skydog Records/early Marie et les Garcons chomp of it that even resonated somewhat in the pages of our own more on-target rock 'n roll press.

I decided to clump these two recently purchased efforts (yas, thaz right!...items actually bought with the sweat and toil of my goofing off passing as labor!) considering some of the striking similarities between the two artists in question besides their ethnic co-brethrenship. Both free trumpeter Berrocal and "Rock In Opposition" group Etron Fou Leloublan are, after all, known to dabble more'n a few toes in the pond of free sound spew and released their prime efforts in that wondrous decade we call the seventies. And, given how I don't think any of their music would be welcomed by the usual "rock" audiences that has been brain-dead ever since the creation of "Classic Rock" ne. AOR radio maybe it be best to give both a classic review gang-bang even if my long-windedness usually does get the better of me.
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I've written about this guy before and danged if this will be the last time I bring the Jac Berrocal name up in my scribblings. For I gotta say that Berrocal is one of the more original living legends in free music splurt that has been seen in quite awhile, not only bridging various seeming dissimilar musical forms into one REAL "world music" for the O-mind but for performing some of the freer sans time/beat/tempo with found sound and sneaky surprises music that perhaps makes Berrocal the proverbial PUNK GRYPHON! Or as much one as everyone from Mayo Thompson to Kim Fowley are and one whose music should attract and repel with a frothing polarity which I gotta say is something that always piqued my attention back when I was young and certainly LOOKING FOR A HOOK (which I still am, by the way!).

Anyhoo, the first three Berrocal albums have been collected in a nice slip-case complete with one of those magazine-like booklets with all of the important information regarding these records, complete with candid snaps that you probably wouldn't find anywhere else on the planet. In other words this longtime freer-than-usual visionary FINALLY GETS THE ROYAL TREATMENT, and considering just how most people who claim fealty to jazz will undoubtedly ignore the very existence of not only Berrocal but the entire newer-than-new jazz spurt better I give you a rundown regarding this classic reissue lest it become all but forgotten in a jazz world more attuned to bowties and tux piano tinkles at chi chi clubs.

Not that it's exactly gonna be a palatable plate to present to a fan of, say, Chick Corea. But it's there and sure looks sleek which really ain't anything to be PROUD of but I guess if anyone should be paid attention to it's Berrocal. Here's what you're gonna get when you part with your precious pennies to tackle this true musical avatar's works:


MUSIQ/MUSIK-it sure sounds like it was recorded in the crypt of an old church, and the resonance is such that you feel as if you were in there with Berrocal and band (Roger Ferlet, Dominque Coster) getting all clammy and sweaty as the three present for you a music that cannot really be defined as easily as, say, "Mairzy Doats". The same way you cant' really define with mere human words what Captain Beefheart was doing, it's that much of an anomaly that the only reason these musics get categorized as jazz or rock is because they may concentrate on standard instruments used to present such sounds and what do mid-teen fanablas know anyway!

The use of exotic percussion, horns and even animals (a chicken!) kinda remind you at one point of an AACM workout that sounds too European and white, while sirens roar and Berrocal's trumpet bleats to the point where it kinda comes off like the Obscure Records release that got held back because it sounded too strange! Not one that you can easily "slip into its universe" to, but give it a few tries and I'm sure you'll wander into the proper frame of musical awareness that Berrocal intended you to.
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PARALLELES-I could "laze out double" (copyright 1987 Patrick Amory) and call it more of the same, but there are striking differences between this and its presecessor. Abstract in a totally different way with the sparse trumpet and the strange and outta nowhere indescribable sounds which thankfully sets this music into a state of jazz that sure stands tall against some of the abominations that have passed for the music these past fiftysome years. For me the best part of PARALLELES was the appearance of Anglo-French rock 'n roll legend Vince Taylor on "Rock 'n Roll Station", a magnificent cut up and re-arranging of various comments made by Taylor (including a positive one directed towards Berrocal's own musical genius) backed up by Berrocal's playing of a bicycle. A track featuring a field recording of a pig sty also appears, the basis for many a rude comment that I will refrain from making at least this one time. (You may recall that I used that exact same joke when I reviewed a CD-r of this a good ten years back---of course I couldn't pass up an opportunity to use it again joke regurgitating man I was and shall remain!!!)
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CATALOGUE-now this does have a flash of no wave distortion amid the sound cut ups (old 78s and the like) and a generally screwed up atmosphere that makes the preceding sound quaint in comparison. Electric guitar and accordion are present giving a good portion of this the same feeling as some early-seventies Can experiment. The recorded conversations if anything do (as the hype oh so points out) recall some of those old Eyetalian Futurist manifestos, only this time spoken in French but with the same force and fire of the originals. Like many similar efforts outta the rock world, this seems like a fond farewell to an era of brash sound and nihilism that seemed to fizzle out into mere pose once the eighties really began to get into gear.
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As for Etron Fou Leloublan well...it may seem strange that I would mention an act such as this which for all intent and purpose were one of those radical commie types who were birthed in the revolutionary rush of the early-seventies trying to destroy all decent aspects of the French culture that they and their Situationist pals hated with a stranger than usual passion. Now that France has pretty much turned into the sewer than these people envisioned as a Utopia fiftysome years back all I can say is NICE JOB YA DONE THERE COMMIES!!! Begrudgingly I guess, but while I can disagree with their societal aims like I can with about 99.999...% of these radical rock prissies at least I can enjoy this music which is rock 'n roll filtered through the jazz spectrum with enough free-for-all spazz all seen through the eyes of some wannabe radical college kid sons of the middle class who probably haven't taken a bath in twenny years!

So plug your nose and take Etron Fou in the way they should be...as a nice and compact act with a Gallic take on the new direction in sound that, while perhaps overindulgent in spots, holds up swell in the company of similar-minded sixties/seventies experimentalists who made those decades a whole lot more pleasant for those of you who had your third ear de-waxed with a sharp knife or Sun Ra, whichever came first.

BATELAGES-Starts out pretty cool (unless you count the acoustic guitar opening which might have led you to believe you just slapped on some of your hippie cousin's maryjane backdrop) repeato riff rock with screaming French vocals that sure sound angry and punk rock. The jazzier inclusions and Fugs-like blackouts kinda recall bits of the infamous RED NOISE album (Patrick Vian's not Bill Nelson's) which kinda makes me wanna immediately categorize Etron Fou with the likes of that group, Mahogany Brain and the under-represented Dagon in the EXCLUSIVE OVER THE TOP SEVENTIES FRENCH AVANT PUNK WILDNESS category where I think they would be snuggled in tight enough genre-wise. The drum solo might turn you off (so might the extended Frenchspeak), and so might the quaint instrumental closing the first side, but if you stick around there's more of that beautiful atonal neo-jazz unto rock soundspew to contend with. I get the impression that if ya like various likewise seventies "fusion" (in the truest sense) efforts such as Blurt you'll got for this in bigger ways than Ron Jeremy!
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LES TROIS FOU'S PERDEGAGNENT (AU PAYS DES...)-another one from the pile which I will admit is what got me to buy the entire mini-cover Japanese reissues inna first place. The opening instrumental which sounds like a keen collision between the Canterbury Sound and Captain Beefheart is what keeps me going back to this, while the heavy sax workouts and colliding percussion kinda works as a white Euro take on the new thing in jazz and even newer rock that has been force fed down their ears for the previous twennysome years. So good that even the fifties nostalgia spoof ain't gonna have you throwin' your boom box into the fireplace! So good that you won't even flinch at the obvious Roy Estrada-inspired falsetto vocals!
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EN PUBLIC AUX ETATS UNIS D'AMERIQUE-even though I get the idea that this was recorded in front of a bunch of chic-er than thou types who wouldn't know anything about the proper use of suppositories unless they read about it in THE VILLAGE VOICE this may in fact be the Etron Fou album to snatch into your gritty little paws before you snatch onto the others. Without the usual stand-ins to beef up the proceedings with tinkling zithers and the like you get the down-home, stripped to the bone Etron Fou sound which I must say is even more primal and gnawing than the earlier studio disques. The closing horn/bass/drums improv reminds me of a certain real-deal free jazz piece what with the strummed bass lines that really add a feral dimension to it all...if I could only remember who it was would I be in luck! Without the guest stars and spoken interludes this 'un goes down my waxed-up ear canals in the swellest way possible.
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Yeah, these writeups really don't reveal the essence, the hardcore being of it all. But then again that's why ya gotta listen to the thing to "get into its universe" as R. Meltzer said so long ago and try to understand what the music is tryin' to tell ya not in some karmik flowering visions of a world where we can all prance and throw frisbees but as that bared-wire streak of sonic fortitude that's always made the best music screech forth in your over-stressed mind. As the old saying goes, you could do worse but ignoring these, and come to think of it you have...
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How, back to the regular portion of our blog...

IGGY POP/MYSTERY GUITARIST DISC TWO CD-r burn

For serious fans only. And for anyone else who wants to give a listen to these blooze workouts that Iggy recorded with JAMES WILLIAMSON as I've been told (by Greg Shaw no less) back when I first heard these "rehearsals" about thirty years back. You'll probably be bored outta your gourd listening to Iggy moan over the same riff for a good half-hour or so but when you get to his takes on such faves as "I'm a Man" and "I'm So Glad" you'll be glad that these were done up so swell that even those people at Cleopatra decided to add bass and drums and present 'em as authentico Stooges tracks! And if ya ever wondered how the Stooges mighta tackled "Hollis Brown" well you'll get a pretty good idea here!
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Cheese Borger and the Cleveland Steamers-TERMINAL CD (Smog Veil Records)

Gee, with a name like "Cleveland Steamers" what could they mean? P'haps itza ref. to the rug cleaners operating in the NE Ohio area, or maybe some ship that would leave one of the ports there, or perhaps even some frozen vegetable dinner available at your local supermarket. Gee, just WHAT could they mean with a name like that????

Not bad music enclosed in those whatever it is that the music that pops up on Cee-Dees is enclosed in. Thankfully not the new unto gnu wave (copyright 1983 Bill Shute) I mighta been expecting, these Steamers play a punk rock that's perhaps toned down a bit compared with the originals but still noticeable enough to sound like Cleveland punk rock. Nothing like the Pagans, Electric Eels or Styrenes, but nice and driving enough in the pure rock 'n roll spirit which is such a relief after years of all that junk like the Adults that Anastasia Pantsios used to push on us. Special guest stars like John Morton, Nick Knox, Mike Hudson and Johnny Dromette give it even more Cle cred, as if it is needed any more. Overall a pretty neat bit of Cle rock music the way that I'm sure most of us would like to remember it as having been like back when it was all young'n gnarly.
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Teenage Head-HEATWAVE FESTIVAL, AUGUST 14, 1980, MOSPORT PARK, BOWMANVILLE, ONTARIO CD-r burn

I never gave these Hamiltonians a listen to during their late-seventies heyday, but this live at this infamous 1980 Gnu Wave Woodstock is quite a surprise. A surprise since the terminally hipper-than-thou punque types who I'm sure were there for the B-52's seem to actually enjoy these guys' hard-edged straight-ahead rockaroll which had about as much to do with the giddy wavers as Beethoven hadda do with Og the Caveman. Kinda like the Flamin' Groovies during their Kama Sutra days when they were mixing late-fifties teenage stomp with early-seventies high energy jamz. Surprisingly powerful rock 'n roll as a way of life!, music so atypical of the sounds that were being hyped as brash and precocious by people we know and trust as being better humans than we'll ever be.
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Obnox-BANG MESSIAH CD (Smog Veil Records)

I've been curious as to what this oft-touted Cleveland punk rock madman (and onetime Ex-Blank-Ex drummer) was made up of, chemical-wise. Thanks for a certain Mr. Borger I now know and y'know what, this stuff ain't too bad even if it gets a little too much into modern neo-rap for my tastes. But hey, it still drives pretty good especially when Obnox himself gets into an almost-metallic rock mode that actually heralds back to various seventies accomplishments driven into severe madness thanks to that oft-loathed technological advancement. This might be the real punk funk as it stands today long after its originators (Ronald Shannon Jackson, Sonny Sharrock...) have passed on into the mystery. I wouldn't call BANG MESSIAH earth-shattering, but it does help clear out the nervous system after being inundated with the past fifty years of pop music abortions often heard over your local supermarket's speakers.
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Various Artists-STORMY MANNERS DINGDONG SHOUT, BABY! CD-r burn (Bill Shute)

The ol' Rambler onna cover's what drove me (hee!) to this 'un like almost immediately, and the stuff Bill slapped on this pancake justifies my judging this book by the cover so-to-speak. With the combination of Spanish-language pop, piano jazz and sixties pop this almost sounds like a freewheeling spin on a short-wave radio on some rainy day inna basement. Without the scuzzy fidelity, snaps, crackles and pops that is. The big hit for me on this 'un was more of those Edgard Varese early free jazz experiments which really go on the old abstract tangent in ways that wouldn't be hinted at until a good decade after these '57 sessions were laid down. Did anyone ever collect 'em all onto one platter complete with stodgy liner notes and typical half-mastered sound? Wish they would even if you get the idea the whole effort would be more of a tombstone to the jazz avant garde than a celebration of it.
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You think you know everything there is to know about rock 'n roll! Well, buy a few back issues of BLACK TO COMM and you'll realize that maybe you know more about it than the jerks who put the thing out! C'mon, buy a few and bolster your ego for once!

Thursday, January 16, 2020

BOOK REVIEW! BEETLE BAILEY IN TOO MANY SERGEANTS BY MORT WALKER (Dargaud, 1984)

Not too soon after I've received the Beetle Bailey FRIENDS book comes this Bailey graphic novel, a pretty capable followup to what I thought was a darn good extension of the standard funny page goings on that were around when I was in the single digits! Y'know, back when things like comics and other forms of suburban slob entertainment seemed to mean even more, especially if you hadda endure the misery and humiliation that I was FORCED to constantly and wanted to let out some pent up frustration in the best way possible. Other'n locking yourself inna bathroom with a stack of NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC Japanese fishergirl issues, that is. After all, a glance at the funny pages sure came off swell after a day of being bullied by kids, bullied by students and then going home and being bullied by your cyster!

In this particular story Sarge is outranked by none other than Lt. Fuzz's cousin Sgt. Drum, an egotistical and over-confident Master Sergeant who happens to be about as horny as Killer himself and in fact is brazen enough to get the gals from the local school (the same ones from the FRIENDS book) to don bikinis and join him and the men on bivouac. Meanwhile Snorkel's beginning to suffer from an inferiority complex due to all this and well like, things just head on to that inevitable conclusion where (without spoiling things too much for ya) the right people are shown up to be just how ineffectual they really are as if you were expecting some major upsetting of the entire BEETLE saga to have occurred this late in the newspaper strip game. 

The guffaws ain't as good as they were in FRIENDS let alone a number of easily attainable paperbacks but they still got that Walker feel and approach that eventually petered out with age. Hey, at least we have these additions to our libraries to keep us occupied during these long winter nights, or short summer ones if you're the kinda goof off I've suspected you of being for the past few eons or so. If you don't have a reason to goof off and read TOO MANY SERGEANTS, make one!

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

FOOD REVIEW BY BILL SHUTE! WILDE 'CHICKEN & WAFFLES CHICKEN CHIPS!'

Most of us probably take junk food for granted. We want a snack, we see something that is attractive and reasonably priced, we forget the diet we’re supposed to be on, and we go for it, never giving it a second thought after we wash down the last bite (which never tastes half as good as the first bite) with generic soda or under-two-dollar 40 ounce bottles of malt liquor.

Every once in a while, though, there's a product that's so outrageous, but also so satisfying, it has to be called a ttention to. WILDE ‘CHICKEN & WAFFLES’ CHICKEN CHIPS is such an item.

Chicken and waffles go back a long time in American culture. Trumpeter Bunny Berigan released a Dixie-flavored swing instrumental by that name in the 1930’s (it’s worth finding on You Tube), and there is a claim that a Harlem restaurant created the dish in the 1930’s (maybe the Berigan band had a plateful before this recording session). There are also claims that it’s part of Pennsylvania Dutch culture going back to the 1800’s or even the 1600’s, or that it grew out of Soul Food culture of the American South going back a century or two. Whatever the source, it was a kind of taken-for-granted item when I was growing up, though I associated it with both Soul Food and with general Southern cuisine. Like greens or scrapple, it was around if you wanted it.

In the last ten years or so, though, it’s become a kind of chic item served at trendy restaurants catering to rich people, and it’s associated as much or more now with upscale Manhattan or Austin or Silicon Valley (where a glass of the least expensive wine would cost more than most of us would spend on a meal) than it is with some Fish Shack in Natchez, Mississippi, or with a Waffle House-style eatery catering to truckers in East Texas.

You know that something has become the fad of the month/year when you see knock-off products trading on its popularity. Who would have ever expected such a flavor transposed to a chip…and a chip that’s primarily made of chicken! When Lay’s puts out those ridiculous biscuits and gravy-flavored potato chips, or some similar one-off flavor, they essentially spray some coating on a regular potato chip, something to echo the flavor in your mind, so you think it tastes like what’s listed on the bag. That’s not at all what’s happening with these Chicken and Waffle Chips.

These chips seem to be made of ground-up chicken mixed with tapioca flour as a binder, with some maple sugar and a touch of cinnamon to hint at the syrup on the non-existent waffles, and then fried in coconut oil, which adds to the sweetness. They are not lying when they label the item as “chicken chips.” And it literally tastes like someone took battered southern fried chicken, dried it, ground it, pressed the ground meal into a thin chip shape, added some maple sugar, and fried it.

That’s it. You’ll either love it (as I do) or scratch your head and wonder why anyone would bother to create something like this. I got mine at the Sprouts Farmers Market chain here in Texas (kind of like a Whole Foods), where they were around $3.50 a bag, not bad when you consider the primary ingredient is chicken, not potato. Looking up the product online to find a pic for this review, though, I saw that internet vendors are selling the product for much much more, so try to find it at your local market and save.

It’s also the perfect junk food item to eat while reading each essential weekend post here at BLOG TO COMM.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Given this is the post-Christmas slack period it's not like I have that much exciting to say about any personal doings or going ons regarding my life. That is, unless you wanna hear about all the fifty-per-cent off bargains I got on Christmas candy which should last me until...Valentine's Day at least. So let's just get on and into the reviews of which I gotta say I have a nice and proud batch to give the anal probe so to speak.

But before we do...RIP BUCK HENRY, whose recent passing might just get me enough off my butt to go 'n watch not only THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH but TAKING OFF, a flicker which is sure to be even more of a verifiable counterculture laff parade than KEEP OFF MY GRASS ever was! Thanks go to Bill, Paul, P.D. and Feeding Tube who really know how to keep a guy occupied during his ever-dwindling free time!


EDDIE FLOWERS AND THE WAX LIP SWAMP DUB LP (Feeding Tube Records)

Like you won't believe this 'un where the famed Gizmoid does his hey beat mon thingie to some of the weirdest sonic backing and that's even talkin' Feeding Tube standards! Channeling his inner Rod McKuen to amazing effect, Flowers rip snorts through beatnik lore and Mississippi mud with a Southern drawl that would give Jayne County a hard-on if she still had a phallus (dunno what she'd get now) while percussive and electronic sounds properly accompany the degrading tales that Flowers spews.

The music (and I use the term tightly) reminds me of everything from some old John Cage "Imaginary Landscape" to "The Nothing Man" off the Deviants' PTOOFF! album as percussion is definitely in the forefront and some sort of appropriate screeching intrudes just when the time is right. Guitars? Casiotones? Cassiopeia? I dunno but the end results definitely do make this one of THE records to watch out for at the dawn of this new decade.

Interesting wood knots onna cover, eh? Either that or SOME STRETCH MARKS YOU GOT THERE EDDIE! Yeah it fooled me too but don't be a fool and not snatch this 'un up, for this is the best recording by a rockscribe who is still relevant inna present day (at least to me) release since Feeding Tube's Meltzer reish a few years back. OK, if you're not buyin' that howzbout buyin' the fact that this is exactly what an unreleased International Artists album circa. 1968, produced by Mayo Thompson no less, would sound like! The real MEAT MUSIC SAMPLER? I dunno.
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Archie Shepp-A SEA OF FACES LP (Black Saint/Goodfellas Records, Italy)

I sure can remember the days when not only were these European-only free jazz records all but impossible to find at the local record supermarket, but when the only place one could even find out that they even existed inna first place was via Gary Giddins' VILLAGE VOICE reviews. Thankfully times have changed and now we can all get hold of such wonders as this 1975 session courtesy one of the greatest avant garde horn players to ever grace a European low-rent studio.

Side one features the side-long "Hypnosis", a deep groove free splat that reminds me of those BYG recordings more than it does the fairly commercial Impulse platters he was doin' just around the same time. It's one you can really sink your psyche into as the group cranks out this riff that Shepp plays over swell and you can just listen to it by its lonesome or do some reading or house chores...it works any ol' way on your inner nervous system.

The flip begins with one of those "Back To Africa" kinda chants and clunks that Shepp is well known for, and the rest of this side drives more into his roots accompanied by the spry vocals of Bunny Foy, who I suspect is no relation at all to either Eddie or the Seven Little Foys. It still retains the heavy percussive retrostylings that Shepp is well known for and like, I know many of you will grumble at the price of this limited edition release but face it, this ain't 1985 no mo' with alla them jazz purists dumpin' their platters at the used shop in exchange for Cee-Dee updates (dummies!).
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The Aliens-NYC CD-r burn

Back inna mid-seventies there were class-a "underground" rock groups that were gettin' a whole lotta positive press wherever you looked. Bands like Talking Heads, Ramones, Pere Ubu, Blondie, the Gizmos etc. and so forth. Then there were the groups that were definitely "B"-level who mighta gotten some press and/or released a few things but never really got the much-needed notoriety  like the Planets, TV Toy and Styrene Money. And then there were all the "C" bands who nobody seemed to care about and very little is remembered except for those with access to Fred Kirby's VARIETY reviews or old issues of THE AQUARIAN. Tons of bands in that category of which the Aliens are but just one, but wha' th' hey?

Only real Alien spotting I can recall is in the AQUARIAN ish with Geofrey Krozier on the cover and a long Kongress article inside which mentions the time when, after Von Lmo busted his leg drop-kicking someone who was sitting on his car, the Aliens' drummer was drafted as a quick fill in. Said drummer had a previous encounter with Lmo when auditioning for some proposed group...the audition was to have consisted of him jumping from a tall ladder into his drum set with an ax.

Nothing as frighteningly bizarroid can be heard on these rather solid-sounding numbers, but the Aliens sure did know how to crank out a hard enough rock that I'm sure coulda propelled them out of the club scene and into the---well, opening for a major act tour of the Northeast but that would be better'n nothing!

Not quite heavy metal but still gutzy in that Aerosmith tough guy pose sorta way with a music that owes part to the earlier arena rock types with enough Stones to solidify the sound and enough New York Dolls to give it that fresh and brash approach that really helped separate the newer breed of hard rock groups from the stodgier ones that were more popular for some strange reason or another. In other words this is PUNK ROCK the way it used to be defined way back when, a time when that hallowed term was being used to describe everyone from AC/DC and the Stooges to Little Bob Story and Talking Heads and people had no idea what was gonna happen once the jaded mid-seventies got even  jadier once that decade began to creep its way down the road to Decadentsville.

Overall NYC is a rather exciting album that doesn't even need to sound better'n these demos because it's all out front and hits your seventies rock sensibilities hard enough to the point where old issues of ROCK SCENE will suddenly appear right before your very eyes. Should be easily enough of a download to find, and if I were you I'd spend my time seeking out something like this 'stead of some of the newer than new under-the-underground efforts being touted as hotcha baloney which usually end up rotting away on the shelves anyway.
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The Modern Lovers-STONEHENGE SET 2 71/72? CD-r burn

More of the same from last week, and if you (like everyone else) was so flabbergasted from all of those reports of what Richman and crew were doin' that even made the pages of ROLLING STONE (tho I dread reading what fem hag Ellen Willis wrote about 'em in the pages of THE NEW YORKER!) you can hear up front just why these guys were making such big waves in the under-the-underground music scene at the time! In an age of ironed hair and general dyspepsia the Lovers came off like the REAL rock 'n roll salvation that the world would take a good five or so years to catch up to, and this set really drives the point across! So good that even "Pablo Picasso" sounds driving enough without the presence of John Cale's piano chording away a la "The Protege"!
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Iggy and the Stooges-THE STOOGES REHEARSALS 1973 DISC TWO CD-r burn

Ah, the sounds of a true rock 'n roll implosion. The gettin' together and workin' 'em out for the RAW POWER tour continues with more of those tracks that filled many a bootleg back in the late-eighties along with the infamous JESUS LOVES THE STOOGES EP and those duos where Iggy, presumably James Williamson and a beat box romp through their version of what the blooze are supposed to be like! It's been goin' 'round for quite some time and has been packaged and re-packaged more'n the Velvet Underground, but it sure sounds fantastico every time I lay ears to it!
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Tommy Stuart-WHAT MAKES MARY GO ROUND CD-r burn (originally on Crazy Cajun Records)

Sounds rather mid-South-ish to me, and perhaps a bit like some of the things Alex Chilton might have been whipping up in between the Box Tops and Big Star. If it weren't for an overabundance of cover material I mighta called Tommy Stuart a singer-songwriter in the true spirit of it all. A Southern Elliot Murphy even if that it quite far off the mark. Not bad really, although a more straight-ahead approach and some powerful original material mighta made this one that'll get more'n a cursory spin around these parts.
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Various Artists-ZERO-ZERO GREYHOUND CHERRY PIE CD-r burn (Bill Shute)

Lotsa the same sorta stuff ya find on these other Bill burns---the country and blooze and sorta weirdities that mighta been strange back in 1966 but sound so quaint now (such as the Definitive Rock Chorale's "Variations on a Theme Celled Hanky Panky"), the soul. The promo record regarding the new Greyhound Bus Line logo which is gonna make it as ear-ringing as "Winston Tastes Good Like a Cigarette Should" was funny because I can't for the life of me remember that one! The ad for Stoney's Beer was particularly striking as it pretty much condones cheating on your wife! And the Abdo-Men, besides having one of the punnier names in rock (well, way better'n the "Diffi Cult") play some good low-keyed mid-sixties rock here that did catch me by surprise. Made up for the more cornball stuff that sometimes gets slapped onto these things, though that's a surprising thing for me to say because hey, I like cornball!
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Do any of you readers know how many back issues of BLACK TO COMM I've been able to sell last year? Well, I could count the number of copies on the fingers on my right hand, and that includes if I was Jerry Garcia so you know that ain't very many! Believe-you-me, fanzines such as the one I cranked out back in the dark days of the eighties, nineties and oughts were a rarity even during the hallowed fanzine onslaught of the nineties (of which I saw little if any interest in my works, so fooey on all that!) but if you missed out on all the fun well, now you have another chance to see what all the hubbub was about. Just click on the above link and be surprised if your life doesn't turn for the better. With all the money I'll be getting, I know mine will!

Thursday, January 09, 2020

DEE-VEE-DEE REVIEW! WAY OUT (1961 television series on CBS)

If you think that THE TWILIGHT ZONE just might be a little too tame for your own private inner sanctum, maybe you should try this little gem that only the creepiest of early-sixties tee-vee fanatics seem to remember lo these many years later.

Hosted by Roald Dahl (who ain't ever gonna get his mug onna English postage stamp!) in an incredibly strange moosh up of Alfred Hitchcock and Rod Serling complete with lit cigarette which he actually puffs away on (no coincidence that L&M sponsored both WAY OUT and THE TWILIGHT ZONE), WAY OUT lives up to the belated hype making it perhaps the best of the early-sixties obscurities that just didn't manage to make the cut into eternal classic tee-vee mayhem. According to the package this grey area item came in, WAY OUT was doing gangbusters as the lead-in to ZONE in the urban areas but flopped elsewhere else, something which would usually make the show a HIT considering how demographics made large-market urban viewership a primary cause for a television success while the rural and old fogey shows like GREEN ACRES and LAWRENCE WELK got the ax because they were drawing too many fuddy duddies in!

This 'un's got some rally great wrap arounds too, what with the simple-enough shoot into the monitor eternity effect used for Dahl's closeups and his stately Welsh accent giving such a demonic delivery that I'm sure most adolescent kids watching woulda thunk "cool!" The control room setting and the visuals almost remind me of those Ernie Kovacs specials from around the same time, and the entire "aura" sure makes a huge impact in that space age way just like all of the other programs sorta blurring the lines between the show's actual production and the behind-the-scenes doings sometimes confusing yourself as to what is supposed to be happening and what actually is. Especially when you're watching these half-asleep during the middle of the night.

WAY OUT's got the same soap opera-y videotaped look as those TWILIGHT ZONEs that were made during whatever strike it was that hadda make that show switch from film, but other'n that these episodes were (well, for the most part) better paced and creepy enough that I'm sure all those "Golden Age of Television" hacks who cum buckets over things like PLAYHOUSE 90 while ignoring real treats like OZZIE AND HARRIET would run home to the comfort of mom's boobies after seeing an episode or two of this fear-monger. "Fade to Black" shoulda induced more'n a few turdler nightmares what with its downright under-the-skin nerve rattling saga about a young femme walk-on being asked to stay for an all-night television filming that turns out to be a li'l more real 'n expected. Even creepier's the one where this henpecked guy actually falls for this headless sideshow "electric lady" who ain't some plastic fixture like the other freaks around. The old "is this a dream or is this real?" trope is worked again in a way more original way than it was even on THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW.

Hokay, some of 'em are kinda "well, they coulda done better" like the one where character actor Henry Jones's brain in kept alive after death and his wife has some plans of her own what to do with it. But for the most part WAY OUT really delivers on what alla those other anthology spook shows of the late-sixties on only pretended at, and why this 'un got canned so fast is one of the great disasters of sixties television history along with the cancellations of GILLIGAN'S ISLAND and THE HATHAWAYS when their potentials were still going strong or could have developed into a work of classic stature.

The ten out of fourteen total episodes I saw were more'n enough to whet my appetite. Maybe the rest'll turn up somewhere before I totally wind up blithering.

Still doubting? Here's a good 'un that's once again a twist on an old favorite:



AND IN CONCLUSION all I really hafta say is...sheesh, David Susskind was put on this earth for a reason after all!

Saturday, January 04, 2020

Well here we are in 2020, a year (and beginning of a decade unless you're one of those mathematical sticklers with puckered up anuses) where I hope we can all think 20/20 ifyaknowaddamean... But as for any great hopes for the upcoming ten years well...lessee, that makes it FIVE decades I lived in that were relatively---naw---EXTREMELY blah, and from the bottom of my rectum let me be the first to predict that the next ten ain't gonna be any bit better if not downright worse. Hooo boy, what we have to look forward to what with all the EVIL things that have been happening in my lifetime being magnified even more... And worse if you can imagine. I mean, if you can't stand slobbering homos smooching each other to rapturous applause and twerking ten-year-olds in the present day and age imagine what we're gonna hafta endure once December 2029 rolls around!
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So in order to keep SANE ya gotta concentrate on all the GOOD stuff that probably will happen, like the archival upheavals of even more good sixties/seventies digs that we've been waiting to hear our entire lives. Those early Velvet Underground ca. the Falling Spikes and Warlocks days recordings are bound to hit the boards and who knows what other fineries will make their way to our ears as the days roll on. And hey, maybe more of those old-tyme tee-vee channels pumping alla the great goodies of the past will keep us from going bonkers at night (sheesh, remember when PRIME TIME (actually starting when the evening news ended and the pre-net reruns began) used to be that big fambly party where we'd all have fun time and ate popcorn and watched shows that really hit us right between our existence? Boy was that long ago!), or maybe they'll bring back alla that food that we used to love as kids but got taken offa the market by a bunch of blue noses who know better'n Albert Einstein and Don Fellman COMBINED! Boy, sometimes I could just cry for a Shake-A-Puddin', banana flavor that is.
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Gotta give credit to those who did their bestest to make sure this post gets the next ten years rollin' off in the right direction. Thanx as usual goes to Bill, Paul and especially P. D. FADENSONNEN who sent me a beautiful batch of burns that have kept me locked in my room like nothing since the time I discovered that cache of old NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC hula girl issues. I ain't gonna review all of 'em in one sitting thus shooting my load (sorry) all at once leaving future posts relatively bare, but as you can see a good portion of this week's reviews do feature my belated Christmas gift of which I am eternally grateful. Now I could have thanked Mr. Fadensonnen with a nice gooey thank you via email, but I figure wha' th' hey, why not do it in public just so people can see that I am not the ingrate that I am often made out to be. Anyway, a big golly gee goes to you sir, and once again thank you for helping to make the final days of the 'teens a whole lot more pleasant than I had originally thought they were gonna be!
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Just a friendly reminder to keep der environment clean mein little schnitzels!



Luciano Berio/Pierre Boulez/Karlheinz Stockhausen/Olivier Messiaen-SERINATA I/SONATINE/CANTEYODJAYA/ZEITMASZE LP (Fantome Fonographiq Records, Italy)

When I was lunging through my GREAT AVANT GARDE MUSIC EDUCATIONAL CRAM OF 1978 these kinda records were harder to find than spendthrifts in Scotland. Now my collection is so fulla these interesting atonal blares that I kinda wonder how I ever got through the dry spell. My cyster going to college in Cleveland thus giving me time to prowl local used record shops while visiting her is how!

This is the kinda rec I sure wish was around back then, what with it containing some '57 recordings made by a few of the greats in the "new music" category doing their best to drive mom and dad outta the rec room. Tho I personally prefer Luciano Berio with the Swingle Singers and Stockhausen when he's cutting up tapes and making a horrendous roar (or Messiaen when he's playing the pipe organ at Notre Dame) these ensemble and solo tracks should be of some interest to those who like the new classical music either because of its historical significance, or because of its influence on the "new" rock, or maybe even because it's a good noise resesifier that can cleanse your soul out like prunes on your colon!

This is a limited to 500 pressing so if you don't get it now, wait until the next 500 pressing!
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The Stooges-COMPLETE DETROIT 1973 REHEARSALS DISC ONE CD-r burn

The first of the Fadensonnen batch which, like I said, I prefer to listen to piece by piece rather'n overdose in its entirety. These have been issued and re-issued before but I don't think I've heard it all before so it might be new to me! And you too so if you haven't given a listen to that Rolling Stones circa. 1970 country bloozer that opens this thing up or the various takes and retakes of old faves you're in luck!

Frankly I think I can listen to all of the takes of both "Search and Destroy" and "Raw Power" that exist in this world of ours, and if those songs continue to sear your psychotic side like they tend to do mine you couldn't do wrong by latching onto these rehearsal sides which might be just as simple as doin' a li'l internet search and fryin' away!
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Jack Wright/Murray Reams-LIVE @ KILLTIME, PHILADELPHIA PA 1/22/91 CD-r burn

Having listened to this late at night when the mind was feelin' woozier'n usual I thought this was some recently unearthed FRANK Wright recording! My error, though these Wrights sure do it the right way with their over-the-edge saxophone playing which brings that late-sixties zeitgeist back faster'n you can say Phoebe an' I don't mean Snow! Sax/drum duets that ain't as brash as the Frank Lowe/Rashied Ali album but better'n INTERSTELLAR SPACE---really. Not essential, but a fine antidote to Jazz Incorporated no matter how you put it!
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The Modern Lovers-LIVE @ STONEHENGE CLUB, IPSWICH MA 71/72 (?) SET ONE CD-r burn

Hah, a surprisingly good quality live tape that I'm surprised hasn't gotten out to the lumpen proles a whole lot earlier. Richman and Co. sound even more swinging than anticipated what with the Doors-inspired instrumental breaks and a general wrapping up of everything you liked in rock 'n roll ca. 1966-69 rolled up into one neat package that'll make you forget all of the bad stuff that was goin' on at the time. Pretty nice slab of teenbo Amerigana that only the Modern Lovers really could present to us as that New Suburban Folk Music that would make deep inroads once the seventies rolled on and on...
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The Magic Band-FALL 1974 DEMO CD-r burn

If I ain't mistaken ain't this really Mallard? Y'know, the post-Beefheart version of the Magic Band that sorta got the pink slip before recording two albums for Virgin? Y'know again, those platters that I was warned over and over again NOT to buy lest I lose my faith in the power and the glory of what Van Vliet and company presented to us during those abstract days of the late-sixties? If so, I can see why many would think Mallard would be verboten with my own sense of musical maleficence.

Not that it's rancid by any stretch of whatever's left of my imagination, but the neo-country West Coast rock approach just ain't the kinda thing that grasps at anything that makes music such a major part of my own reason for existence. A looooooong way from MIRROR MAN altho if I did see them albums for a buck apiece in some flea market pile I would snatch 'em up just to dolly up the collection a bit.
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Spacemen 3-HOW THE BLUES SHOULD'VE TURNED OUT 2-CD-r burn set (Sonic Boom self-released)

I pretty much gave up on most of them various eighties groups who were re-creating the heights of sixties/seventies innovation, perhaps because I thought the original takes were way better and since many of these things were being reissued why bother with the imitations! Spaceman 3 were but one of those acts who got shoved to the back of the bus while the purge was set in place, and other'n that Silver Apples-related effort (Spectrum) I pretty much avoided 'em the same way many of you readers avoid soap.

Perhaps I was being a bit hasty in my judging of these more-recent encapsulators of the form, for this collection of trackage from the collection of Spaceman Sonic Boom really does put forth a good effort as far as reviving the past while adding something new to it. And all the while not losing much if any of the sound and spirit that made the originals so fun to listen to.

Yeah I know we've had way too many of these Velvets/Stooges/Roky/Free Jazz mergers that just don't ring as true as they did in the late-seventies, but I'm surprised how Spacemen Three can get rid of the usual pretension that may have crept into a few of those early-eighties Rough Trade efforts and bring everything back down to that bare THUD. Disque 1 sure does that with a total boil down to the bare essentials rock that sounds loud even when the volume is toned way down...familiar tracks like "TV Eye" and "Hey Man" (actually a rock version of that "Amen" song from LILLIES OF THE FIELD which may have been adapted into its more recent form down the road---I dunno) come off like that true heavy metal in its early-seventies definition even if Andy Secher would be the last man to admit it. The more psychedelic numbers on the other platter are mixed with such remarkable entries as an electronic "Modulated Tones" and an acoustic "Transparent Radiation" which does have a particularly sentimental charm.

These flashes of the week usually come and go, and I know what its like to plunk down hard-begged shekels only to find out that the hype just might be mightier than the jamz. But with this 'un I realize that some of these under-the-counterculture faves just might have had their own sense of rockist gyrospection (gyrospheric introspection, that is!) that made their efforts to create the past almost as good as the past itself was. Only I was too obsessed with various superficial aspects of the quest to have noticed.
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Various Artists-IN THE MORNING AFTER THE POLAR JET CROWD CD-r burn (Bill Shute)

One of the stranger Bill burns true. Lotsa furrin pop stuff here that makes me think this was taped in the commissary at the United Nations, and while the representatives from Cutchakockov and Crackafarta are fighting over who gets the last zebra steak one can imagine songs by such acts as the Bulawayo Street Rhythm Band from Rhodesia (who I guess did not get the stamp of approval from Ian Smith!) and Raymond Legrand's "Istanbul" proudly playing from the ceiling speakers.

One must wonder just why the Czechoslovakian Rebels would want to cover the Mamas and the Papas' "Creeque Alley" (and they had the nerve to jail the Plastic People of the Universe rather than these mokes!) while I get the idea that Nisar Bazmi's ALL we're gonna be hearin' before they tighten the immigration laws!

If you are in the mood for some "Amerigan" stuff there's Jack Jones singing "The In Crowd" (whoopee) and a Shelley Berman routine which makes me wish the guy made more TWILIGHT ZONE appearances 'stead of deliver this dull mulch that I could not ooze even a snicker outta.
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As we slide into what obviously will be known as "The Boring Twenties" perhaps its best to fortify your rockism soul with a few still-available issues of BLACK TO COMM. But hurry, because supplies are limited...limited to all I can SELL, that is!

Thursday, January 02, 2020

BOOK REVIEW! NATIONAL LAMPOON PRESENTS CARTOONS EVEN WE WOULDN'T DARE PRINT (National Lampoon, 1984)

I don't quite buy that 1984 date o' publication since I remember reading this one at the book store as early as, say, 1977. I should know because the mid/late-seventies were the prime years of my book store and mag rack reading days and I fondly remember pouring through those old NATIONAL LAMPOON collections and laffing my pitted fat ass off before some polite yet stern bitch would come up to me and ask me to leave the store. Yeah, I coulda swatted the gal real good but I just left because well...those evil stares she and the other employees were aimin' at me did shoot the creeps down my spine and it still is fun thinking about all the fun I coulda had murdering 'em! But like eh, that was soooooo long ago.

Ah yeah...memories of reading those NATIONAL LAMPOON books which featured alla that bad taste humor that I couldn't get enough of whether it be via the original SNL or MONTY PYTHON (Sat. PM's were boffo with PYTHON immediately followed by SNL providing more laffs per jam-packed minute than the entire run of VICTORY AT SEA ever did.) An' as far as getting down to the nitty gritty of high-falutin' seventies-era comedy went those NATIONAL LAMPOON cartoons were the best if only because for once in our lives, the RIGHT people and ideas that make up this universe of ours were being offended! Believe me, nothing has made me laugh like this since the BIG HELEN KELLER JOKE EXPLOSION OF THE MID-SEVENTIES, and that's really sayin' something good!

These turdbits are just a nice li'l sample of the comedic madness that went on throughout the seventies making for loads of emotional release almost but not quite as good as...well, you lonely guys still know what I'm talkin' about what with Miss Palm and her Five Sisters, right Brad?

Frankly I don't think some of these cartoons are anything as out of the NATIONAL LAMPOON-standard ordinary, since that mag really could go overboard inna disgust department when it put its mind to it. Fortunately most of 'em do, and I'm sure glad about it. After all, in these days of rigid puritanicalism these funnies mean all the more to beyond-reactionary loathers of post-modernity such as I (and perhaps you unless you tuned into this blog expecting the usual hearts and flowers so popular these days) and it sure is good seeing the right people get them apples, and they sure are GREEN this time, eh?
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This is offensive and no-holds-barred, with subjects such as homos, fisting, hemorrhoids, cannibalism, erections, necrophilia, castration, blind people, poop, amputations and other things that will at least bring a warmth to your inner child like nothing since REBECCA OF FANCY LEATHER GOODS FARMS. Nothing about genital warts, but maybe those popped up elsewhere (the comics, not the warts!). And with artists like Charles Rodrigues, Sam Gross, some guy called Caldwell and others outta the book o' comical vomit  doin' the art you're getting bad taste comedy of a seventies variety at its bad tastiest!

And the best part is you will like it because it will piss off the people in your life you absolutely LOATHE... and in my life there are sure plenty of these people around!

You'll laugh like nothing since the old lady fell down the stairs. Don't blame me, that's a Don Fellman line and if anyone should know about old ladies falling down stairs it's Don Fellman. Don't let that scare you off, this'll gag ya!

Oh yeah, I was wondering about the more recent copyright date on this so I decided to read the opening schpiel courtesy of longtime NATIONAL LAMPOON writer or something like that Sean Kelly and says that this indeed is a second edition. Well, that does answer a few questions about this 'un since I did espy a CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND reference (that was from  '78 or something like that, right?) plus I noticed the omission of a few cartoon I clearly remember from the original, one where Mary gives birth to twins, one who looks like a baby Yassir Arafat and the other Moshe Dayan and another featuring one of those Gross Gingerbread Men icing a cake with his own ejaculation. Don Fellman often tells me about his "false" memories of things that transpired via tee-vee or real life for that matter and how the real thing (or "supposed" real thing) just doesn't match up. The same thing has happened to me what with old tee-vee shows or whatnot which seemed to high-larious when first seen ages back not matching up to the old memories. Sheesh Don, can we trade minds by any chance? Your false memories seem a whole lot funnier'n mine!

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

ALBUM REVIEW BY BILL SHUTE! JAZZ FOR TONIGHT BY STEVE ALLEN (Coral Records, 1957)

Original TONIGHT SHOW host Steve Allen always had a foot in the music world, and in particular he was always a friend of jazz. He wrote many songs (although only “This Could Be The Start Of Something Big” and “Gravy Waltz” are remembered today) and made the occasional album over the years as a pianist. He also played Benny Goodman in the 1955 biopic THE BENNY GOODMAN STORY, a film remembered for having great music, but although a public figure and TV host, Allen was not really an actor. If he’d been playing himself in the biopic, that would not be a problem, but as he was supposed to be playing a different character, and in the case of Benny Goodman, one who had a distinctive and complex personality and multiple levels operating at any time, Allen’s performance is usually considered inadequate. Most viewers close their eyes and enjoy the fine musical score. Still, Allen continued to support jazz on his various programs and even produced a 60’s TV series called JAZZ SCENE USA, some episodes of which were released on VHS tape in the 1990’s. From the 50’s through the 80’s, Steve Allen was a familiar face on television, whether hosting his own shows or guest-hosting other shows.

JAZZ FOR TONIGHT was recorded on August 17, 1955. After THE TONIGHT SHOW finished broadcasting that night in NYC at 2 a.m., Allen and the band drove down to Rudy Van Gelder’s home studio (hundreds of classic albums were recorded there) in New Jersey, one of the best-regarded studios for recording jazz on the East Coast, where the album was recorded into the morning hours and completed before lunch.

Allen assembled a crack band of NY studio musicians with first-rate jazz credentials: Charlie Shavers on trumpet, Milt Hinton on bass, George Barnes on guitar, Urbie Green on trombone, Hank D’Amico on clarinet, Bobby Rosengarden on drums, and Allen himself on piano. Seven of the eight tunes (which are quite long, the album is nearly 25 minutes a side!) are regulars in the jazz repertoire, and the eighth is a slow blues penned by Allen. The highest praise I can give this album is that if you slipped it into a stack of 50’s mainstream jazz albums, you would probably consider it a solid effort, though without any real distinction. Allen’s piano has no bop element to it (although he hinted at bop, slightly, in the POETRY FOR THE BEAT GENERATION album he recorded with writer Jack Kerouac, an album I’ve played hundreds of times over the decades), though he’s also not a stride player with roots in the 20’s. I’d compare him with someone like Erroll Garner, though without the Garner mannerisms, and when he’s playing as a band pianist behind the soloists, it’s clear he’s listened to Count Basie, though as with Garner, he doesn’t affect any of Basie’s mannerisms (he’s also not as minimalist as Basie). Allen seems clearly based in the 1950’s jazz style called “mainstream,” with players who grew up during the Swing era but were untouched by bop and at the same time not rooted in the New Orleans or Chicago jazz of the 1920’s, the way that people playing in bands assembled by Eddie Condon would be. Allen likes blues piano, which helps when you don’t have a distinctive style as it gives you a groove in which you can coast, but he’s not rooted in it the way, say, a Horace Silver is. A lot of these kind of musicians wound up in TV and film soundtrack studio work or in the pit bands of TV or Broadway shows. When Allen moved out West and started broadcasting from Los Angeles, he became a champion of the West Coast jazz scene, and once produced a Chet Baker album called ALBERT’S HOUSE with Baker playing all compositions by Steve Allen (an album not considered among Chet’s best, yet one that has been reissued on dodgy labels multiple times—also, I just checked, and most of it is available on You Tube). This was in 1969, after Chet had lost many of his teeth in an accident/scuffle (you can read the various accounts of this possibly drug-related event online), and he really needed a break as he was re-learning how to play with dentures and also re-inventing himself as a stylist with a frail, bird-with-a-broken-wing kind of understatement.

Allen continued to have one foot in jazz over the decades. He did an album with Oliver Nelson for Impulse (Bob Thiele, of Impulse, was his old producer at Coral and gave the green light for the JAZZ FOR TONIGHT ALBUM, though the liner notes do not mention if he was at the session) and continued to do the one-off jazz trio date here and there. He also wrote the lyrics and the music for a Broadway show about Sophie Tucker (!!!!), and although that show was not a hit, it is well-remembered by people who saw it (I saw a few accounts online from people who remember the 1963 show as if it were yesterday), and a few of the songs from the show were recorded by Judy Garland.

The only real problem with the JAZZ FOR TONIGHT album is the recording itself, which is strange when you consider how many great sessions Rudy Van Gelder engineered. As this was a mono recording, there was no “mixing.” He got a balance on the instruments as the musicians were warming up, and as he’d done hundreds of sessions prior to this, he could probably have done this in his sleep. Thus, I’m kind of surprised that Allen’s piano is not particularly well-recorded. It’s somewhere between being a bit muffled and being a bit off-mike. Oh, you can always hear it, but it’s not as clear and up-front as the other musicians are. I can hear the metal of guitarist George Barnes’s strings with a sharpness and bite that I never hear from Allen’s piano….not to mention the horns, which are way out front and in your face. You would not know that the pianist was the featured musician on the album. Whether this was a rare flub in setting up a balance by Van Gelder, or whether he was commenting in his own way on his opinion of Allen compared with the “real” jazzmen in the group, I’m not sure. It’s worse on some tracks than on others, with the first track on side two, the old standard “Limehouse Blues” (was this a nod to Benny Goodman, whom Allen had just played in a feature film, since this was a great Goodman hit?), being the worst offender, as if a wet blanket was draped over the piano.

Overall, though, I do enjoy this album—I’ve owned it for 40 years. What it lacks is a strong presence by its leader, something not helped by the recording balance. You might think it was a Charlie Shavers album, but Shavers knows whose name is on the cover, so he does not dominate the proceedings, although he’s always a strong and attention-commanding player. The version of “Body and Soul” from this album is currently on You Tube, and it suffers less than other tracks from the recording imbalance, so give it a try, if you’d like a taste of this album. Steve Allen today is most often mentioned in regard to other people’s history----Lenny Bruce, Jack Kerouac, Elvis Presley (Steve had him on his TV show early on)----and in regard to the history of late night TV. Or he’s mentioned as someone who was not a fan of rock and roll or who in his later years objected to profanity and obscenity in entertainment, and often found himself on the same side of arguments as someone like Tipper Gore in the 80’s or 90’s. Presently, you can get a copy of the album for $2.27 on Discogs. You might get more pleasure out of it than you’d get out of a double cheeseburger at McDonald’s for the same $2.27. Or you might not.

Yeah, I wasn't even gonna do a year end's wrapup considering that we are in 2019 and like, what really spectacular and groundbreaking has happened in ANYTHING o'er the past thirtysome years whether it be in the realm of rock 'n roll, jazz, tee-vee, moom pitchers, comics or what-have-you that makes the typical Suburban Slob wanna stand up and take notice? But just when I was losing faith a few fine efforts did pour in even if most of 'em were recorded during those great days of total atonal bliss way back when life seemed more gnarly.

Anyhoo in order to continue on the tradition so to speak (even though I loathe the concept of "tradition", believing that we should keep all of the good ideas of the past and jettison the stoopid ones), here's a list of what floated my submarine during the past 365 and who knows, maybe this post will inspire some of you to seek out some interesting items that I'm sure will be beneficial to your overall well being. If it inspires some of you readers to want to do the big 86 and leave us alone until Kingdom Come well then, it's all the better for each and every one of us, right?


ALBUM OF THE YEAR!- La Femme-MYSTERIE. Gives me hope that a new avant garde of past ideas shaped into something tangible to the force and passion that rock once stood for will emerge one of these sorry days.
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ALL OUT ROCK 'N ROLL COLLECTION OF WHERE IT ALL CAME DOWN BOX SET OF THE YEAR!-the Peter Laughner Box Set, which shows up just how far we've deteriorated these past fortysome years.
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SINGLE OF THE YEAR!-The Rockets-"Even Money"/"Steppin' Outa Line" (Munster Records)...one I've been waiting for for a looooooong time!
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IMPORT OT THE YEAR!-Marie et Les Garcons' 76/77 (Instant Records, France)...an old release but it zoned me as if I were an eighteen-year-old suburban slob who just about had enough lawn mowing money to buy the thing way back when these punkoid prances were first laid down.
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CASSETTE OF THE YEAR!-METTE RASMUSSEN/TASHI DORJI
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JAZZ SPIN OF THE YEAR!-Muhal Richard Abrams's YOUNG AT HEART/WISE IN TIME
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FANZINE OF THE YEAR!-OWN THE WHOLE WORLD #18 (OK,  #19 too).
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MOOM PITCHER OF THE YEAR!-THE MAD BOMBER.
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SURPRISE OUTTA NOWHERE RETURN OF THE YEAR!-GOLDEN HITS OF THE SHANGS.
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ROCK 'N ROLL BOOK OF THE YEAR!-the one that came in the Peter Laughner Box Set.
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SECULAR BOOK OF THE YEAR!-NOT BRAND ECHH!
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BLOG TO COMM POST OF THE YEAR!-the JAY DOBIS interview.
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DEATH OF THE YEAR!-MAD magazine.
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TEE-VEE SHOW OF THE YEAR!-ROUTE 66 reruns.
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DEE-VEE-DEE SET OF THE YEAR!-WAY OUT (you'll be reading about it shortly!)
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PERSONALITY OF THE YEAR!-Don Fellman.
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And here's hoping that I won't do anything as wonky when next December 31 rolls around!

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Well, it's a dad-blamed fact that if yer tuning into this week's post you've survived Christmas this year! Thankfully that's another one to put under the belt and I do hope that you made it through these most holy of times without overindulging on cookies or getting into one of those silly fights with your cousin when she womps you at checkers resulting in you causing a big scene splattering checkers all over the place. How many Christmas parties I remember where I got hauled off and walloped for one minor infraction or another! And if you don't believe me I'm sure Brad Kohler could fill you in on all the dismal details!

Thanks to the Holidays I got to spend more free time'n usual indulging in my favorite pastimes. Mainly listening to music, reading old rock-related sputum and of course absorbing myself in comics of varying stripes. Sunday afternoon I began re-reading the Jim DeRogatis Lester Bangs biography from a good twenny or so years back while spinning the Gunter Hampel 2-CD QUASIMODO CLUB set which not-so-surprisingly fit in with the tales of total rockist abandon being mentioned in those fine pages even if Bangs' main forte was rock with free jazz a tasty tidbit aside. As you would expect, this one sure stirs up the ol' ashes in my inner furnace what with its tales of not only existing during the nurturing of rock 'n roll as that trash teenage form of expression that even the intellectuals began talking about, but being one of the prime movers in getting the under-the-counterculture word re, the Velvet Underground, Cap'n Beefheart, Seeds etc. OUT! Kinda wish that I was born a good ten years early so's I could have enjoyed the zeitgeist firsthand 'stead of glomming onto its tail end. Only I would love to do it with a straight mind, no borderline autism, parents who weren't control conditioning maniacs, kids in my midst who could understand and perhaps even want to partake in my listening excursions/fantasies...

Come to think of it, music does feel good here in the calm dank of early winter. Just this week I've played the first two Soft Machine albums (English progressive rock sure sounds better if it's touted as being English avant garde jazz). A few years back I was listening to THE MARBLE INDEX while watching the winter sun set and the sky turn a most poignant purple. I'd do the same today though I can't seem to find my copy anywhere...

And you thought I wasn't Autistic! Anyway, here are some of the platters pushed at me this week,. Nothing outta the ordinary mind you, but I managed to survive thanks to these little wonders taking up time that could otherwise be used up spending an inordinate amount of time in the bathroom. Thank you Bill and Paul, you'll never know how you saved my soul with these.

Charlemagne Palestine-SACRED BORDELLO CD (Alga Marghen Records)

It's amazing what I'll find in my collection especially while I'm looking for other things that have just seemed to evaporate. Like this sealed Charlemagne Palestine Cee-Dee I had totally forgotten about! It might have come with the Palestine book I had copped quite awhile back but maybe not, but whatever I gotta say that this 'un really doesn't affect me the way the ARPEGGIATED BOSENDORF WITH FALSETTO VOICE album did what with the title track, almost an hour of a muffled talk given by the composer that has all of the sound quality of a seventies-era college lecture cassette recording and about the same level of excitement. The briefer "Voice Study" fares well what with the interesting male/femme vocal interplay which actually does stimulate various cranial pleasure points. Well, it sure beats the heck outta having to listen to PETER AND THE WOLF over and over again in third grade music class!
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Scott H. Biram-THE DIRTY ONE MAN BAND CD-r burn (originally on Bloodshot Records)

Ya gotta watch out for these downhome gutbucket countrybilly kinda guys. And this is one guy ya REALLY gotta watch out for! Not bad at all hard crank on old classics and originals that sound almost as authentic as the stench in a run down men's room. Of course it ain't the original slop but it sure beats the pantaloons off every and any "hit" that has popped up on a variety of medium these past fortysome years. And ya gotta appreciate it for that mere fact alone.
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Reverend Horton Heat-25 TO LIFE 2-CD-r burn set (originally on Yep Roc Records)

Swingingly enough country rock that I find OK in small doses. Heat comes off authentic enough and fortunately doesn't succumb to the "cuter" aspects of modern retrowhatever that have dampened past memories of all of the things that have made this music as appealing as it was. Fine, but two platters of this in one sitting really can overload my musical membranes to the point of "no mas"!!!!!
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The Dirtys-YOU SHOULD BE SINNIN' CD-r burn (originally on Crypt Records)

I gotta admit that I found most of the current artists who had recorded for the infamous Crypt Records label back inna '90s to not quite live up to the image that the original garage band thud of the reissued items that had popped up on that "epochal" label (I refuse to use the term "iconic" which is nowadays being bandied about like sauerkraut at a German wedding reception) o'er the years. (Re)-listening to this platter reminds me why since there's nothing about the Dirtys that reflects the suburban slob ranch house attitudes of those groups that popped up on BACK FROM THE GRAVE way back during the glory days of garage band compilations. However they do crank out a loud roar that should sate many of you readers' inner turmoil and that's sure a whole lot more'n what I can say for many of those new garage band types I occasionally hear on Sirius Radio---before switchin' 'em right off!
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Gene Clark-NO OTHER CD-r burn (originally on Asylum Records)

Like most of what I've heard of these various ex-Byrds offerings Clark dives full force into the same seventies turquoise jewelry of El Lay laid back country doob music. Thankfully Clark's musings ain't as offensive as many a similar cocaine karmik effort of the seventies, though they still have quite a way to go before being as digestible as something along the lines of Gram Parsons. Don't worry, despite all that you'll probably get sick halfway through. However, even with the Laurel Canyon influence this 'un does hold up a little better'n those various Crosby/Stills/Gnash efforts the radio used to force feed us back when we were young and told this was the proper way to sate our musical lusts.
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The Outnumbered-WHY ARE ALL THE GOOD PEOPLE GOING CRAZY CD-r burn (originally on Homestead Records)

You already know the answer. It's because during the eighties when this platter came out alla the good people were looking for high energy no-holds-barred rock 'n roll to listen to but all they hadda choose from was simpy records like this! The funny thing is that there sure were a whole load of groups back then who probably would have sated our rock-as-a-way-of-destroying-our-inner-demons appetites, but they got swooshed over in favor of power plop, scrap iron heavy metal, punque and other disgraces that were being passed off to us as sound that spoke for our ever-degenerating generation. Sure it all fell by the wayside as it should have long ago, but then again look at what we hadda look forward to after all that!
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Various Artists-FLAMINGO SOUNDS OF SUNSHINE CD-r burn (Bill Shute)

Bill says this is definitely placed "in the 'lounge' section of the Virtual Thrift Store" and other'n a "Harper Valley PTA" soundalike from Margie Singleton I would say "yeah"!!!! When I was a kid I thought this would be all I'd be listening to when I got older, and now thanks to Bill it is! Walls of violin sludge and testosterone induced brass will remind you of days gone by when music like this ruled the FM band and many a hi-fi nut who looked like Dennis the Menace's dad would lock himself in the den and listen to Percy Faith or Mantovani while the kids were bashing each other's brains out in the basement. Music custom made to accompany those etchings for all you wannabe wolves out there!
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Now that it's winter and you're snowed in what'cha gonna do to keep yourself occupied? I get the idea that you wish you coulda staved off the impending boredom by buying a whole slew of BLACK TO COMM back issues to take your mind off the cabin fever you're undoubtedly experiencing within the confines of your fart-encrusted bedroom. Well, if you're not snowbound as of yet you know what you better do given how the Indians have been predicting severe weathers for the past eighty years already!