Sunday, January 22, 2017

Well, here're the reviews of records etc. that I thought were just too obvious to appear in my everyday 2016 posts yet I thought should have a yellout of sorts because I did listen to 'em. Somehow I get the inklin' that you reglar readers want to know what I think about EVERYTHING out there inna world, right?, and that's why I'm presenting this special edition of BLOG TO COMM for your very inquisitive nature! Unfortunately it wasn't like I had the opportunity to run down into the basement and crack into my vinyl collection when I had the time and opportunity to (mainly because I didn't have as much free time to spare this solar rotation as I usually have) but what I could give a listen to I did. Also threw in some old cassettes and Bill burns that were lyin' around, and I know you would have too if you were only lucky enough to be me.

The Droogs-KINGDOM DAY cassette (PVC)

This particular platter (or in my case freebee cassette) was motivational enough to the point where the Droogs actually earned the front cover spot on the twelfth issue of my infamous (and that's just about it!) crudzine. But does KINGDOM DAY hold up a good twenny-nine years after this soiled and sad fact??? To be honest and up-front about it this particular Droogathom doesn't quite excite me the way it used to, but it's still a deep 'n down soul-killer with a couple of bonafeed knockouts like "Webster Field" and "Collector's Item" (which were collected on a handy-dandy single at the time) as well as the title track. The rest of this will be suitable enough for those of you who find psychedelic AGENTS OF FORTUNE styled Stalk-Forrestisms more to your bent, and I most certainly do even if the overall professionalism now seems to detract a tad. Definitely one of the better platters (or in this case tapes) to come out during those dark ages of rock 'n roll we knew as the eighties.
Frank Zappa-LUMPY GRAVY CD-r burn (originally on Verve)

Haven't spun this 'un in quite some time (or at least since I did my Zappapiece in issue #18 of my esteemed fanzine) so thanks be to Bill Shute for skeedaddlin' a dub my way. A weirditie for sure that was available only as an import back during my Zappafanatic days, LUMPY GRAVY doesn't sound as disjointed or as nerve-scraping as it first did, but then again years of Nurse With Wound and related stylizations had altered my listening parameters quite a bit. The orchestral sections sound typical late-sixties poppish while the "musique concrete" passages ain't as frightening to my current state o' brain as they where when I was sixteen, and overall I gotta admit that the thing sure brings back a whole lotta funzy memories of prowling through record shops and flea markets trying to cram a good fifteen or so years of hardassed rockist history into such a short span of time. Now where's my copy of George Harrison's ELECTRONIC SOUND?

I've heard the YOUR DAILY GIFT and REFUGEE platters quite awhile back. In fact so long back that I don't remember what I wrote of those long-cut out Amerigan releases of 'em, and it ain't like I'm gonna comb through thirtysome years of scribbles to refresh my memory. But I did get hold of these twofas of the aforementioned along with the previous heard, digested and loved TRAVELIN' as well as the ne'er before spun by myself DODENS TRIUMF. Yeah, these platters do reinforce my belief that Savage Rose were a hefty good mainland European late-sixties/early-seventies rock 'n roll act up there with such other mindcrankers as Can, the Amon Duuls and even Magma, a batch who I (if not you) gotta admit weren't as tippy-top in their earliest Chicago-influenced stage as Savage Rose were by even their eponymous debut, but I guess they were good enough that A&M did release at least one of their albums stateside.

TRAVELIN' is, at least for me, the last great Savage Rose spinner what with it documenting the last of the classic three-keyboard lineup and a downright get-inside-you popper with smart asides to jazz and folk themes that for once don't make you wanna puke. Annisette's voice might take a tad to get used to but so did Ethel Merman's, and the musical portion of the program really does rate up there with a whole slew of contemporary classics from Fairport Convention and other late-sixties against-the-tide aggregations what with its sophisticado pop that even had stodgy music professors tuning in. Contains perhaps the best of many stellar Savage Rose tracks, namely the controversial "My Family Was Gay" which hints at a whole lot more skeletons in the closet than mere "love that dare not say its name" hoo-hah.

YOUR DAILY GIFT doesn't quite zing me in the same fashion the first three Savage Rose platters had, perhaps because of the loss of Maria Koppel on harpsichord coupled with musical arrangements that don't quite suit the material at hand. Still this 'un has enough material to classify as near-top notch what with such tear-jerkers as "The Poorest Man on Earth" and the title track. Not one to pass up, at least after hearing the first three.

REFUGEE starts off total eruption with the gospel-y "Revival Day" and keeps going strong even when the mood gets bloozy on "Granny's Grave" and the title track. Still there seems to be a lack (though not too much) of the original oomph that made the first few such on-target albums which as you can tell seems to have been some sorta sore spot with regards to the entire Savage Rose oeuvre (though the late Imants Krumins told me that the group's output eventually became so rancid that even a longtime admirer such as himself could't hack 'em). Like on YOUR DAILY GIFT you do have to wade quite a bit between the good and the eh, but what a wade it is! If you snatched up the Amerigan release on Gregor along with GIFT back during the great Radio Shack LP and cassette cutout market saturation of late 1976 consider yourself lucky.

Haven't heard DODENS TRIUMF until these sorry days, and frankly I'm glad I didn't hear it way back when my impressionable self would have been cryin' boo-hoos over losing even more hard-begged to such a duffer as that. This particular concept album really doesn't zing me nor sound anything like the Savage Rose of previous platters. In fact Annisette doesn't even make an appearance until the end and the music sounds like treacly accordion-laden progressive rock (with a europop bent) that won't make any hardcore rock 'n roller a fan. Maybe it's a thing only the Danish can understand. Still I am not giving up on Savage face I am looking forward to listening to their BABYLON album with various jazzbos including Ben Webster if only because it was because of Webster's association with Savage Rose than I first read about the group while reading an issue of DOWN BEAT in the waiting room of my orthodontist back 1972 way!
Deep Purple-IN ROCK cassette (Harvest England)

After reading John "Inzane" Olson's punkified appreciation of this early-seventies heavy metal definer I figured I better give this 'un another pre-beddy bye go instead of spinning PARADIESWARTS DUUL for the umpteenth time this week. And lo and behold, but IN ROCK does hold up in early-seventies doof-addled hard rock glory even more than I would have expected. Surprisingly enough, this platter (or in my case cassette) does have plenty in common with other early-seventies punk rock efforts (such as Ainigma and Siloah, thanks to Jon Lord's addled neo-prog organ playing) to qualify as being a hefty part of that entire overlooked movement and I ain't foolin'! So good that I don't even have to mention various MC5/Detroit high energy reference points (or early Metal Mike Saunders paens of praise) in order to get you indifferent types to latch onto a flea market copy yourself. Oops, I just did, and here I was trying to avoid tugging at your overworked rock psyche. Sorry!
The Velvet Underground-POP GIANTS VOL. 9 LP (Brunswick "Silber-Serie", Germany)

Most Velvet Underground compilations tend to be totally useless and poorly packaged to boot, but those from the early-to-mid-seventies sure had that dark mystique that undoubtedly equaled the occult vibrations the band emitted like crazy during their up 'n about days! This German effort circa.1973 is no diff...far from being a "greatest hits" collection POP GIANTS VOL. 9 features NO tracks from THE VELVET UNDERGROUND AND NICO,  two from WHITE LIGHT/WHITE HEAT, three from the third album proper and the rest from Nico's CHELSEA GIRL! The selections used from "The Murder Mystery" and "The Gift" to "Lady Godiva's Operation" and "I'm Set Free" cover a spectrum of jarring stylistic extremes that really give this that ol' dimensional feel while the Nico numbers (including the John Cale-penned "Winter Song", "Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams" and the platter topper "Elegy to Legny [sic!] Bruce") fit in snugly as well giving an even more striking additional "balance" to the rock tracks proper. Up there with the Pride "Swan" cover edition as well as the double set lip-sucking comp that was an omnipresent stable of the mid-seventies import bins. Once again a huge tip of the sombrero to John "Inzane" Olson for pointing this sleeper out to me.
Deep Purple-FIREBALL cassette (Harvest Australia)

That IN ROCK tape had me scurrying deep into my cassette collection for this particular offering which I believe was Purple's followup achievement. Again the same hallowed names in ROCK SCRIBEDOM (not criticism) had been hyping this 'un up as yet another crowning achievement of early seventies metaldom, and while FIREBALL seems to have less of a oomph than its predecessor it still packs a mighty somethingorother.

I really thought that the way Jon Lord's organ was modulated and toned and all that to sound like a viola not only on "The Mule" but "No One Came" was pretty smart esp. for a buncha guys thought of as lunkheads and heck, even the goof track "Anyone's Daughter" has a good gallop to it that you wouldn't be hearing from most heavy metal acts in the years to come. Makes me long to dig out that 1981 CREEM special heavy metal issue which was perhaps the last place in the mainstream rock press where the term heavy metal was still being used in its early-seventies adjectival state right before the advent of the hair mob a very short time later.
The Rock-A-Teens-WOO HOO CD (Sparkletone)

Sheesh, I gotta admit that I believe these fifties garage bands were way better'n the sixties ones! Maybe it's because these local rockatrashers were (most definitely!) operating under the influence of boffo cheapo Amerigan kultur that really resonates with the suburban slob that will continue to live in me as long as they have ranch houses! And who could deny that there's the same sorta pre-snoot rock impulses working within the psyches of acts like the Rock-A-Teens, Fendermen, Wailers and heck even Johnny and the Hurricanes that was the aural equivalent of those cheap plastic toy tanks you used to find at the local five and dime. At this point in time I'll even take the Rock-A-Teens over many of the famous rockabilly rousers of the era just because they have the same sorta chintziness that I've loved my whole life whether it be via UHF tee-vee reruns or bargain store toilet paper. On this CD reissue you get the entire album in stereo and mono as well as a buncha outtakes and studio banter featuring a rather irritated engineer!

One of those BYG/Aktual albums people don't like talking about. The conglomeration Germ (or at least members Gerard Fremy and Martine Josie) tinkle ivories on an obscure Terry Riley composition and frankly it doesn't sound like his more familiar work at tall. Featuring shimmering sounds akin to an old Philip Glass album being played at 78, it's probably something that will stymie fans who've only heard of Riley through CHURCH OF ANTHRAX and IN C. I found it nice in a non-dilettantish avant garde kinda way. The other track's Germ proper (a nine-piece ensemble of a chamber variety) who perform member Pierre Marietan's "Initiative" which sounds like many of these 12-tone kinda post-Webern kinda compositions whose listening audience seemed to be made up of the entire cast from the movie LOT IN SODOM. Well it's better avant garde'n watching some money grubbing dilettante shoving yams up her butthole.
Paul Revere and the Raiders featuring Mark Lindsay-HARD N' HEAVY WITH MARSHMALLOW CD-r burn (originally on Sundazed)

By the time the Raiders were starting to wind down on the AM charts I wasn't exactly front and center for any of their material even though I was a big fan of WHERE THE ACTION IS during the latter part of my turdler years. But dang if HARD N' HEAVY don't sound pretty great as far as the pop rock late-sixties hitmakers go. Sure it's straight ahead transistor radio sounds custom made for the mammary-sprouting early-teen gals who had posters with rainbows and unicorns in their bedrooms (this being before the homos appropriated alla them girly things as symbols of their struggle against not being able to peckerhole anything male under the age of fifteen), but hey even the grittier amongst us suburban slob guys coulda gone for this without looking too goony. It is "Hard 'n Heavy" and there ain't that much marshmallow to it either! Bonus tracks even got the infamous Pontiac "Judge" commercial for all you motorheads out there! Next stop COLLAGE with the infamous heavy metal trip "Just Seventeen"? One can only hope so!
The Fendermen-MULE SKINNER BLUES CD (Dee Jay, Germany)

Who woulda thought that this 50s/60s cusp group with only one major biggie onna charts woulda made that much of a mark on the listening public of the day? Well, maybe not, but it is quite obvious that the Fendermen were the precursors of the likes of the Trashmen and a whole slew of early-sixties local rockers who might have gotten somewhere in life if the Beatles and their mop-topped ilk just never happened. From the title hit to the slew of originals and cover material (even including a pretty ritzy take on Duke Ellington's "Caravan"), this one straddles the late-fifties original rock 'n roll thrust and the upcoming generation the way a tightrope walker'd cross the Grand Canyon, and if anything really exemplified the very-early sixties rock 'n roll mindset it would be acts like the Fendermen, the Rock-A-Teens and alla those other no-count aggregations that somehow get passed over in the rock "history" rush from Elvis getting drafted to the Beatles.
The Seventh Sons-RAGA CD (ZYX/ESP-disk, Germany)

An old fave dug up during a major Cee-Dee exhumation project. AKA FOUR AM AT FRANK'S, this legendary band cooks up some pretty good Indian-styled drone music that you can really wrap your psyche around in whether you're doing the laundry or just cooling your heels reading some old comic strip collection. Kinda beatnik yet pointing the way towards late-sixties excess, RAGA seems to predate a whole lotta things to come that unfortunately didn't sound so hotcha when its time eventually came. Gotta say one thing...if these guys were so popular in the New York rock scene what with appearances at the Fillmore and all, howcum this is their only recorded output? True they were turning down offers left and right (or so the liner notes say), but you think there woulda been someone else who woulds recorded these guys and got it out to us hungry rock 'n rollers, right???

Part of the original line of Obscure releases that made up more'n a few paragraphs in the rock magazine of your choice, somehow this 'un never did get the same huzzahs as Eno's effort or DECAY MUSIC for that matter did. Nevertheless this is a pretty on-target example of what English experimental music was all about back in the sixties and seventies, with Max Eastley providing a number of recordings created by sound sculptures (or something like that) that were activated by natural or artificial movement while Toop performs his compositions of free sound clatter/clutter along with some falsetto vocals and the assistance of who else but Brian Eno himself. The results are everything from mesmerizing (especially the self-producing soundworks) to eyebrow raising. This was not the over-the-hills-screaming-all-the-way effort that a negative review I read back in them days had me thinking it was gonna be, but I think I have been wrong premonitions about prospective album purchases before.

As far as I can tell this has most if not all of the Norton material and a few new things mixed up and about for all of those who missed out on the Big Hasil Adkins revival of the late-eighties. Sure you've heard 'em all before way back when but sometimes it's really nice to give a listen to these great one-man hunchers in the present when frankly we could sure use a whole lot more Hasil Adkins and a whole less...well, whatever there is that's big out there in Tinselland not that I'm payin' any attention. But when all's said and done it was fun stuff like this that got a certain nth rate rock scribe (not "critic") into thinking of broadenin' his horizons and doing his own self-published screed an'...well, don't wanna pat myself onna back any more than I should now, eh???

I guess the show was such hot property back inna seventies that just about any product related to the show would get whatcha'd call the big push! And, as Paul McGarry can tell you, ALL IN THE FAMILY was one show that really reaped in the merchandise bucks what with games, attire, political badges, books and in this case record albums being pushed onya like nothing since Davy Crockett. Like the various Archie Bunker-related books that were cluttering up the paperback racks of the day, this album consists of nothing but juicy clips from the series featuring some of the best mots, bon or not, from the likes of that lovable ol' Archie. And considering those were the pre-VCR/DVD days a rec like this sure came in handy just like those Beatle boots featuring the entire soundtracks to their various features most certainly did! As for myself the mere tee-vee series was just enough, though if someone had come up with the idea of a LEAVE IT TO BEAVER album I just might have been saving up the coinage to purchase that!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

BOOK REVIEW! OUT OUR WAY 1925 DAILIES (Jan.-June) by J. R. Williams (Ecomics Space, 2016)

I dunno why Ecomics Space split the year of '25 into two volumes but why argue if they're givin' us the goods we've been deserving for a longer time'n any of us (or at least me) can imagine! And with the mid-twenties rollin' on you can tell that OUT OUR WAY is beginning to shape up into the comic that a few of us certainly remember it being, a nice li'l cornucopian slice of mid-Amerigan fun and jamz the way it was before home computers and personal vibrators became the haute-de-hot accessories for standard suburban lifestyles.

The crossing guard and Wash Funk are still to be found even though you can just sense that their time in the comic is waning, while the group of young boys who were trying to make it to the North Pole by sled have now begun playing soldier after the Dog Catcher got hold of their propulsion. The cowboy saga is beginning to take up a whole passel o' time and, with the addition of bookkeeper Wes who's also trying to write that Great Amerigan Cowboy Novel, is given an even newer dimension what with all the practical jokes being played on this rather gullible and unaware soul. However, you can sure bet that OUR OUR WAY creator J. R. Williams made Wes out to be the ultimate hands down funny sissy of all time in these early appearances---a total washup embarrassment to himself and everyone around him for that matter! Sure the bespectacled one was always outta place next to the rough 'n tumblers who were workin' at the ranch, but in these early appearances he comes off so fey and fragile that even Harold Lloyd (who bears a not-that-striking resemblance, but close enough) looks he-man in comparison!

My faves (as usual) are the ones that flash us back to the older-than-olden times which would eventually be subtitled "Born Thirty Years Too Soon", the ones where Williams and his readers get a chance to reminisce about the days when they were young 'un's which I guess were quite different to the mid-twenties in many a way. 's funny, but at times Williams seems to be mocking those perhaps more halcyon than you'll ever admit days (such as in the panel where a bunch of turn of the century denizens yuk it up over the 1860s styles to be found in a photo album while these modern day smartasses are wearing clothes that even the Katzenjammer Kids woulda tossed inna trash) yet most of the time he laments their passing in the same way Curly the cowboy ruminates about the era of the Wild West and cowpunching coming to a sad end. Kinda makes me wanna do a little snifflin' myself, only over the end of the small-type record shops and the music that went along with 'em before the brave new days of rock video washed away just about everything in its path.

And between the cowboy series, the "Why Mothers Get Gray" fambly sitcom situations and the other fly onna wall aspects of life a good ninetysome years back, it's no wonder that OUT OUR WAY was the most clipped comic of its day. Don't have any scrapbooks with these gems myself (even though I've come across a few in my various antique shop travels) but with this non-biased, straight ahead look at an Ameriga long gone I can see just why families spent time pastin' away back in those tough yet tender sorta times
Since writing the above review I've chanced upon even more OUT OUR WAY collections (including the rest of '25) taking the series well into the mid-thirties with hopefully more to come. In case you aren't aware all of these books are highly recommended, not only for the aficionado comic fan types out there (all THREE of ya!) but everyday suburban slobs like myself who loved the comic pages at least until the old strips started dropping off and the new ones just weren't delivering on the yuks like they shoulda.  And if you can't get your fill of those it seems that clippings of both the daily and weekend strip can be found not only on line but at various antique malls scattered about, and considering just how under-the-radar this comic seems to be these days you might just get your fill of these comics for a mere song if lucky! Keep your peeps open for a future HIGH SIX when I will delve into the OUT OUR WAY mystique a little further.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017


Long before anyone ever made a drug or sex overture to me, and years before I was taken into “the back room” at Independent Records on West Colfax and offered bootleg LP’s for sale, I was first taken “behind the veil” as a comic book-buying elementary school student. Although I bought comic books at a drug store and at other places in the neighborhood, my main comic source was Convenient Food Mart, which had one of those tall circular wire-racks where the comics were on display. The comic section was in the corner of the front of the store, on the opposite end from the entrance, behind an ice-cream freezer and a soda machine. At my present advanced age, I don’t remember now what day of the week the new comic shipment appeared, and I did not have enough money to buy a comic a week anyway, but whenever I did get a quarter from my grandmother or some change from someone else for doing a chore or whatever, I would take it down to Convenient and check out the comic section. You could not “read” the comics without buying them, but you could look them over pretty closely, and I did. It was kind of like looking at 20 coming attractions for different films before deciding which one you would pay to see. It also allowed me to keep up on comics I did not actively buy as you could skim them fairly quickly. I would also stop there on the way home from elementary school and check out comics I could not afford.

I must have been going there for a few years a few times a week to look at comics when the overture was made: “Hi, Son. You come in here a lot--you’re a good customer. I’ve got some special comics in the back room that are cheaper than these ones out front. Only thing is they are missing the cover, or part of the cover. Want to take a look. You will keep this to yourself, right? Also, there’s no sales tax on these.” I was a bit taken aback, but there was the sweet taste of something unknown in his invitation, so I was ready.

What the backroom held was a few boxes of comic books with the top halves of the front cover ripped off....and some with no front cover at all. They were about 1/3 the cost of a proper comic. I don’t remember the specifics of pricing, but let’s say that instead of getting two new comic books for thirty cents, I could get something like six or seven of these “stripped” ones (as they are called in the trade).

Needless to say, I was hooked. I would make a point of stopping by when this particular guy was working, and he’d take me back again and let me thumb through the new offerings. Eventually, he let me go back myself (if there were no customers in the store), put my comics in a bag, and leave the money on the table. When I did it this way, I had to write down which ones I took, and he would check later.

I suppose on some level this practice was similar to cut-out records or remaindered books, but the big difference is that those are legit practices, and comic book stripping is not. The covers were sent back to the distributor so the store would get a credit for unsold copies. It would cost too much to ship all the unsold books back. If you look at the official notarized publication statements in comics of the era with the print runs and the sales and the returns, you see that often 50% of the magazines and comic books were returned unsold. This stripping procedure saved a lot of money on returns, and magazine and comic publishers factored the throwaway copies into the cost of doing business. Sale of stripped copies was an under-the-table practice....although I know that employees at stores which sell such publications often get access to free stripped magazines and newspapers if they want them, before they are discarded. I also remember seeing them at flea markets and junk stores as a child. That’s why you often see some kind of statement on the masthead of a magazine or comic or on the copyright page of a mass-market paperback that “it is a crime to sell this book in a mutilated form” or something similar--letting retailers know this practice is illegal and constitutes theft.

Other than the sale of stripped comic books, Convenient Food Mart seemed like a relatively honest convenience store. Independent convenience stores sometimes are a bit shady in some in Texas, you have the ones which have “8-liner” gambling machines in the back room, but you also have the ones which sell drug paraphernalia, synthetic marijuana, the combination energy drinks-with-alcohol, etc. The sleazier ones are sometimes known to offer known customers so many cents on the dollar in cash for food stamps or other government benefits. Then in some rural areas you have the phenomenon of stores selling used magazines, home-made food items, and other things you would not find in a chain-affiliated convenience store. These kind of stores are an American institution and we rely on them in so many ways, but they are rarely commented on or analyzed, except sometimes on the business page in the newspaper when there is a merger or a change in affiliation. Having worked in a convenience store myself, I can tell you that the employees REALLY know the regular customers. Even the ones who don’t talk about themselves are known to the employees through what they buy and when they buy it--and since we employees have active minds we need to fill with something, we construct scenarios about the customers. Their sex lives, their spending habits, their religious habits, the relative success of their marriages, the family dynamic (who wears the pants, etc.), who’s an alcoholic or potsmoker, who’s a habitual spender even though broke, etc.--all of these can be inferred from their purchases....but that’s a story for another article.

Of what value is a 40+ year old western comic book with a stripped cover to anyone today? It’s not as if the western genre of comic book was ever the most popular. Super-hero fans always looked down their nose at it, and it kind of died out by the 1970’s, although lame attempts were made to revive it by creating the half-baked “weird western” sub-genre. However, those never really took off except among comic-nerds. I assume that the kind of people who read western comics as children graduated to western fiction as adults--although I am an exception to that rule. I grew up on B-Western films and also western comics, but western fiction never really appealed to me. However, it has always been a niche market and continues to be, as anyone who has ever worked at a bookstore (particularly a used bookstore) knows, particularly in the west, the Midwest, and the South.

Holding this 1972 coverless Marvel western comic in my hands, I wonder....who in the world actually cares about something like this. Since it’s coverless, comic collectors would not touch it with a ten-foot pole. Superhero fans and those into comic-nerd culture (the latter being a big market segment nowadays) would not want anything to do with this as it’s a western. Those who follow comic art and comic artists might find it interesting from that angle. Stan Lee had an active hand in Marvel’s western line (and continued to into the 70’s); however, I’m guessing he does not get many questions about that in his comic-con appearances, from the people who pay two-hundred dollars for a 60-second audience with Stan, if they can even get one. Marvel tried at least twice to revive the Rawhide Kid character--through time-travel, he worked with The Avengers, and then later he was revived and made gay--and I vaguely remember each of those when it happened, but each was to me a ridiculous failure. Checking an online Marvel database, I see that the Rawhide Kid has never been killed off, so Marvel no doubt sees at least the possibility of some future marketability in the character (hey, even killing him off would have no market value nowadays!).

However, Marvel is now a huge entertainment conglomerate. The human element--the days when Marvel readers thought of themselves as a family or when you could send a note to Stan Lee and possibly even get a short answer--that’s long gone. Marvel’s unique “bullpen” provided a sense of identity and camaraderie among readers, and any comics fan of the era remembers fondly the messages from Stan Lee and later Jim Shooter about the product line and the enthusiasm about upcoming projects and story arcs. The enthusiasm shown in the old Bullpens created an enthusiasm in the readers. However, I doubt that much of Marvel’s income today comes from comic books themselves. Merchandizing and movie development deals bring in the money. The comics themselves appeal to a small and insular group. Independent publishers, who come and go, have tried since the 1980’s to create the kind of “family” atmosphere one found in pre-1985 comics, but their publications have never caught fire outside of the hardcore comics community and usually cannot be found outside specialized comic shops, places that normal people would never set foot in.

It’s possible that a 10-year old today in a section of the country where rodeos and “western culture” are still part of what’s everyday and taken for granted could stumble across this and, if he already has a taste for comics, might find it interesting and sense a kinship with it.....the way a youngster today who vaguely associates him/herself with “punk” can have a revelatory experience upon finding a Link Wray 45 on Swan or a Little Richard 45 on Specialty. Frankly, though, even in this issue, it seems as though the series was starting to be running on fumes. The main outlaw in the main story, GUNFIGHT FURY FALLS!, seems more like an over-the-top mutant than a real outlaw, and the story EL SOMBRO--MEXICO’S GHOST OF CHAPEL HILL does actually feature an otherworldly gunfighter. These are signs that the comic’s creators realize that a standard-issue western story can no longer create much interest. Jonah Hex and the full-fledged “weird westerns” were waiting just down the road a-piece--in fact, Jonah Hex made his first appearance around the time this Rawhide Kid comic was originally issued.

I was still relatively young as I watched the western comics genre distort itself while in its death throes and then die off entirely. Different comics industry Dr. Frankensteins have tried to revive the corpse here and there over the years, and some self-conscious and ironic revisionist western comics may well exist now under my radar, but the genre should be allowed to die a natural death and be left undisturbed. Some kid in Wyoming or western Kansas who grows up around horses and the mystique of the Old West may stumble across a MIGHTY MARVEL WESTERN in the basement of an old house or at a flea market, and he may get excited about western comics....otherwise, the fair has moved on, 40 years ago, and the Rawhide Kid is fated to spend his final days in a stack of old magazines, in a dusty rack below a broken table at a junk store on a state highway, miles away from the interstate, stuck between old high school yearbooks and old copies of People Magazine featuring cover photos of long-forgotten celebrities. The rare person who wanders into the back section of the junk store is far more likely to notice old empty cans of beer from brands no longer brewed. As for the Rawhide Kid....Nobody knows, nobody sees, nobody cares.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Are you counting the days until THE BIG ONE??? I sure am...January 20th, the day when the world will become a better place for all of us with the ARRIVAL of the ONLY THING that will rescue us from the quicksand-like miasma we have been suffering from for too long a time. A day when things will definitely look brighter for all of us peons who have been longing for a better future, a reason to live, something to look up to and give us all a reason for GOING ON... Yes, this Friday my latest Forced Exposure order should arrive! Just think! Now I won't have to rely solely on these Cee-Dee offerings that have been winging their way to my door these past few years...we can now feast ourselves on some FRESH BOOTY for once 'stead of chomp down on them stale donuts I've been writin' about given my lack of general fundz and jamz!!!!!

All funnin' aside here's my latest batch of reviews for youse to peruse. Thanks for this batch must go to Bill Shute, Paul McGarry, P. D. Fadensonnen and last but most least Brad Kohler who gave me the Billy Synth album for Christmas! Good choice you made there Brad, and now on with the schlock...

Billy Synth-WE HAVE GOT TO MAKE IT ON OUR OWN LP (Mind Cure Records)

Here's a guy who's been in on the underground garage-revival-punk-thing since his days with Blue Ice inna seventies, and this collection of old gunch and maybe some newies thrown in for all I know is real boff. Back when bands like the Chocolate Watchband and Seeds seemed like distant mystical rock reference points making music just as desirable as those overpriced imports and underpriced cutouts, Synth and his various groups were creating some mighty monomaniacal sounds that came off like a crash course between the Troggs and the Stooges, with some cheap synthesizer sounds tossed in for pretty good measure.

Great selection including some old faves like "I'm So Sick of It" (two takes!) as well as various rehashings and reframings of everything from the Watchband's "Misty Lane" to the Stooges' "Real Cool Time" all the time coming off like what Metal Urbain shoulda if they were more rooted in 1974 French decarock 'stead of 1976 English musings. Sound quality is upped a bit from those early seven-inch sides in case you care, and the overall effect will remind you of just how great SELF PRODUCED UNDER-THE-GARAGE ROCK used to sound until the eighties glitz washed everything that was good and gnarly outta its way. Best of all, the cover contains an insert featuring notes by none other'n one of my fave rock writers, John "Inzane" Olson, who should be give some sorta award for just being himself I guess. As should many of us I must surmise.
Smoky Emery/Venison Whirled-TURNING INTO CD-r burn (Kendra Steiner Editions)

Played this one twice through last Sunday afternoon and y'know what? TURNING INTO was one of the more relaxing, tension-easing things I've heard since I was a mere turdler and our furnace came on really loud emitting these tones that were somewhat akin to the music Suicide was putting out circa their "Sweet White Lady". It's hard to tell which are the electronics and which are the percussives on these tracks, but the overall effect is one of a massive stream of what sounds like a steel mill trying to set itself to music and the results are so beautiful that I can still recall those wintertime kiddiehood sounds with much happiness. If you don't happen to have a furnace and love the sound of mechanical hum, this is definitely the Cee-Dee to get! (Check blogroll on left for more information too lazy to create a link right now.)
Destroy All Monsters-SECOND CHANCE ANN ARBOR 12-5-77 CD-r burn

Yeah this 'un's a typical hand-held cassette recording complete with all of the distortion and hiss that is common to such things. But frankly my dear, did you ever give a damn? Destroy All Monsters were perhaps the best second generation high energy Detroit band and they would still sound pretty hot even if they were recorded by Thomas Edison on a wax cylinder! Heavy duty (and heavy metal---in the classic 1971 CREEM sense) rock 'n roll blasted out into full-blown space music fury complete with the cream of the Stooges (Ron Asheton), MC5 (Michael Davis), Sproton Layer (the Miller Brothers), Rob King and of course the beauteous Niagara fronting the whole thing kinda like in them paintings where Liberty leads those angry hordes into battle, usually with sword in hand an one boob just handily hanging out there.
Ornette Coleman Quartet-SHELLY'S MANNE HOLE 1968 CD-r burn

Ornette Coleman must've been a busy man back '68 way not only with a slew of pretty top notch platters both legit and not---check out the Italian bootleg---but a concert with Yoko Ono that I'm surprised hasn't been released yet (the reel to reels were sold via ebay in 2000). And lo and behold, this particular gig from that year has finally made its way out...recorded at jazz drummer Shelly Manne's club (he being a guy who would know, he appearing on Coleman's 1959 TOMORROW IS THE QUESTION album), Coleman and his '68 quartet blare through some mighty fine slow-burn free jazz that fits in fine with your own sense of atonal bliss. Coleman plays alto, trumpet and violin while Ed Blackwell handles percussion and the team of Charlie Haden and David Izenzon handle bass viol, the results being headier than even what was appearing on Coleman's legit platters at the time. Don't miss the early take of "Dancing in Your Head" which tended to pop up more often than not as the seventies began to move into gear.
Peter Laughner-THE ANN ARBOR TAPES CD-r burn

I must be the last Laughnermaniac to have heard this particular session. Dunno the exact whys and wherefores of this recording, but it was laid down with the assistance of personal friend Don Harvey on harmonium and bass guitar and was recorded in Ann Arbor, perhaps during some secret CREEM meeting with Lester Bangs. The selection performed also belie a 1976 date what with the appearance of such New York rockers as "Blank Generation" and "Venus de Milo" as well as some kind words regarding Talking Heads bass guitarist Tina Weymouth. If you're a fan of the acoustic Laughner these songs will come in mighty handy even if there are only two originals in the set including the once-elusive "Amphetamine" and the not as haunting as the one he did right before he died but haunting enough "Dead Letter Zone". Be on the lookout for some Mr. Charlie that's also available for free via. Harvey himself on-line.
Von Lmo-LIVE AT THE GRAND NYC 6-8-1994 CD-r burn

Short but oh-so-sweet twenty minute segment of a Von Lmo concert dating to his grand return to performing (and Earth) back '94 way. Sound is fantab considering that this was probably recorded on a then state-of-the-art tape machine, and the performance straight ahead heavy metal in the classic seventies vein that was a bit "out of place" at the time, but so what! Once again Lmo and crew take you to the higher reaches of rock that somehow seemed to get lost in the shuffle, and fans of FUTURE LANGUAGE are bound not to be disappointed. Too bad that this version of the Lmo group never did get to put an album out, because judging from these tracks I'm sure it woulda been one of those winners that most people on earth (including you) would have ignored.
Colin Pollock-THREE CHERRIES RED CD-r burn (originally on Colin Pollock)

More a dat bloozy white guy stuff that probably won't settle well with "purists" but hey, if you went for a whole slewwa that bloozy white guy stuff inna past you just might go for this as well. As for me I find that these endeavors can get to sounding kinda too slick for my own personal digestion but hey, maybe you can get some satisfaction outta this if you're one of those new blooze kinda guys I've seen out and about wearing leather jackets trying to osmose the whole seedy atmosphere of it all. Of course you already know where to go in case you'd like to experience some of the original hard urban sounds from whence these revivalists got their inspiration from, right?
Jooklo Duo meet John Blum-LIVE @ WFMU CD-r burn

Most if not all of these recent free jazz recordings I've heard have been pretty disembraining if I do say so myself. This live on the radio set by the Jooklo Duo with pianist John Blum ain't no exception as the team of Virginia Genta on saxophones and David Vanzen on drums do their best to emit pure from the gut soundsacapading while pianist John Blum tinkles the ivories in ways that have been explored before true, but still need to be explored a li'l more if only for the sake of self-immolation (of the spirit that's within ya, if you'll pardon the hippy speak!).

The first thing that rolls through my head while listening to this is the explosive Taylor/Lyons/Murray NEFERTITTI THE BEAUTIFUL ONE HAS COME (or LIVE AT THE CAFE MONTMATRE if you so desire) given the similar instrumental line up. Blum doesn't have the classical qualities of Taylor true, but the trio still scrape enough free jazz muster outta their wares playing in the grand all over the place tradition that still sounds too far our for Mr. and Mrs. Front Porch even this far down the line! Like the best of the avant garde this is totally spontaneous play that continues to effect (and affect) fans of the form who still (like me) tend to view jazz from the borders considering how we all came to it from the cacophony of rock 'n roll. Nothing wrong with that, especially if you're the kinda fanabla who eschews the whole bowtie and tux aspects of the form, eh?

If you just might be interested in hearing this nice li'l soiree, why don't you just click here and be prepared to be taken away just like they used to say about Calgon.
Gary Usher-HOT ROD USA CD-r burn

Dunno if it's one of those no-holds-barred complete sorta jobs, but it's still a good sampling of some of Usher's rarer solo, production and whatnot work that you probably never heard about before. No liner notes here to guide me, but from the sounds of it this does pack the proverbial punch what with not only a slew of singles under Usher's name proper but a whole batch of work done by acts well known (the Pyramids, Dave Myers and the Surftones...) as well as those who weren't too well known outside the BOMP! sphere of mid-sixties collecting circles. This one even slips out of the whole surf, motorcycle and hot rod genre on rare occasion giving us yet another side of Usher's pre-Byrds efforts we may or may not have known about. If all you know of Usher's rarities are the tracks on PEBBLES VOLUME 4 then this might be a li'l platter to seek out and who knows, maybe even enjoy.
Various Artists-ASSEMBLE NOT THY HOOKER HIPPIES CD-r burn (Bill Shute)

Hmmm, for a change Bill sent me an ALL REGGAE disque which I must admit is kinda well...reggaeesque 'r something like that. The man is probably embarrassed over the fact that I never really cuddled up to reggae like the best minds of his generation did, mainly because I thought (still do!) that reggae's just too slow and dare-I-say cultured for my rather horse-blindered musical scope! I know itt's hard to believe that I actually consider reggae that far up on the musical ladder, and although I didn't lambaste the form and knew it was something of musical worth 'n all well...I just didn't care for it that much!

Bill's selections here aren't gonna change my way of thinking any day soon but they're sure pretty good as far as giving me a selection of some of the rarer least circulated obscure collector-crazy reggae music that has been made. Or at least I get that impression (after all, I AM not a connoisseur of these sounds). But although I'm not the kinda guy who does cartwheels over reggae I will admit that some of these oom-chukkers did appeal to me the same way some old r&b schmoozer from the early-sixties might have complete with those low-fi recording techniques which always made the music sound better. Nice efforts from the likes of Lee Perry's Upsetters, Roland Alphonso and the Youth amongst other Jamaican jerks. Muscular boy---Neville Grant's cover version of "Baby Don't Get Hooked on Me"....sheesh!

Thursday, January 12, 2017


After the last issue I'll betcha you thought that the folks behind VULCHER couldn't top this li'l endeavor any, eh? Well, if you just happen to think this way---maybe you're RIGHT! Let's just say that VULCHER #2 is every bit as good as its predecessor and considering just hope tip top ajax that read was you can bet this one is just as boffo and thankfully not worse, which would still make it a great magazine anyway but these days rock 'n roll needs all the help it can get!

It's really nice seeing the old Kenne Highland/Eddie Flowers/Gizmos branch of the seventies rock fanzine mafia up and at it this late in the game (heck, I thought the "game" for all practical purposes was over and done with no later than 1996), but they're not only here Gizmoing things up but doin' the rock writing game just like they did back inna early-seventies when Highland was pumping out a whole slew of ROCK ON magazines (particularly powerful writing for a mid-teen!) and Eddie was threatening us with his SEARCH AND DESTROY for years which ultimately became what we all know and love as GULCHER #0.

And frankly, if there is ANYONE in this fanzine world of ours who DESERVES to be the honorees at a banquet complete with instant mashed potatoes and a slab of roast beef with a vein through it, its Eddie Flowers and Kenne Highland!

Of course the new VULCHER features many an improvement o'er those early stabs at rock 'n roll---er---"journalism" including the slick paper upgrade and neet typeset. I might miss the old style of rock fanzine publishing even if most of the back covers on my ROCK ON's are detached from the rest of the mag but man, it sure is nice to pick this up and see well-repro'd photos and neat letters and a general layout that woulda even wowed Jymn Parrett (who proudly contributed some reviews) to no end.

The mag starts off swimmingly what with Gary "Pig" Gold's interview with Jan and Dean "archivist" Mark A. Moore bringing up some interesting things regarding the famed singing duo (f'rinstance the connection between Dean and the guys who kidnaped Frank Sinatra Jr. back December '63 way is mentioned---nothing about Dean's extracurricular activities as relayed by Jonh Ingham in his TAMI SHOW article in CREEM comes up like I thought they would which I gotta say did disappoint maybe a tad bit). Also on tap...Claudia Bell's interview with Cleveland's new bright lights Archie and the Bunkers, a Modern Lovers history that's sure nice to reminisce to esp. if you too were bombarded with ads for their debut throughout the spring/summer of 1976, a Mike Rep Q&A which I guess is better than a D&C, rare Australian seventies pop, Rich Coffee on The Sonics Rendevous Band and of course TONS OF REVIEWS like Parrett on a collection of Vancouver sixties pop/rock rarities, Byron Coley and Lindsay Hutton on their current top spins, Funhausen (???) and even Dave Laing does something on rare seventies Australian pop groups that, while interesting and entertaining and all that, ain't gonna make me wanna part my purse lips the way I would had I come across a model of a 1965 Australian Ford Falcon station wagon rather cheap!

Layout's beyond fine-fine-superfine...everything I woulda wanted to do with my own crudzine but lacked the brains, money or materials to complete! The Phillip Dick spread was particularly potent not to mention Sir Plastic Crimewave's piece on "Paternoster", an act I don't think will be popping up in the bins of your local FYE any day soon. Let's just say that, unlike a whole load of those dull and boring 'zines from the eighties onward featuring no illustrations and nothing but block typeset Olivetti spewings on the usual precocious precious flower musings that are so in vogue even to this day this mag is pleasing to a whole load of senses!

Another great thing about it is that you will find items in VULCHER #2 you're probably not gonna see in other fanzines unless Sir Plastic decides to re-up GALACTIC ZOO DOSSIER! A chap named Robert Dayton reviews an old issue of MARVEL TEAM UP where Marvel's flagship hero Spider-man is teamed up with none other than the (almost) original "Not Ready For Prime Time Players" on SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE hosted by who else but Stan Lee (ya expectin' Julius Schwartz???)! Considering just how much I've enjoyed Bill's (and my own!) comic book reviews o'er the past few years a piece like this really satisfies me more than the usual dilettantish artzy Glade Air Freshener forays into comic art critiques I've happened to chance upon as of late!

Also hot---Eddie Flowers' list of his favorite freakazoid neo-psychedelic out-there doo-wah classic records, not to mention that infamous review of an anti-drug platter done up by none other than Lester Bangs which appeared in the original (#0) GULCHER. It was so good that a new generation just hadda osmose it, which is I guess why it was reprinted here because if anyone has their thumbs up the mid-Amerigan rock rectum its these guys!

Did I have fun reading this??? You bet, for VULCHER packs more punch and reminds ya of what rock 'n roll in all its forms (tee-vee, print and live as well as via the ol' Victrola) used to mean at least to a suburban slob such as I who felt (and still does!) that  the Seeds and GILLIGAN'S ISLAND were part of the same high energy entertainment spew. And what are you waiting for...write Sam at and see how you can get your very own copy to have and hold, hopefully with both hands!

Monday, January 09, 2017

COMIC BOOK REVIEW BY BILL SHUTE! GHOST MANOR #2 (Charlton Comics, September 1968)

High school always seemed like a waste of time to me, so I put very little into it. By the time I came along (I graduated in 1975, a week before turning 17), many standards and any idea of a “classical education” had been thrown out the window in the late 60s and early 70s....however, the barrage of standardized tests that students coming along after the mid-80’s had to endure did not yet exist. Thus, I could fill my schedule with “creative courses” which required little work. Had basket weaving been offered, I would have taken it. And because I pretty much blew off my junior year, and the counselors wanted me graduated, they created an especially soft senior year for fact, I even got two credits for working at Burger King (as a “home economics related occupation”). 

Back during my sophomore year, one non-demanding course I enrolled in was Family Living, which was basically a euphemism for sex education. They were still showing those old instructional slideshows and 16mm films (probably dating from the 1959-64 period) with detailed drawings of human plumbing, cartoons of the travels of the sperm going its merry way toward fertilization, and the highlight of the semester, the color birth of a baby footage. We might have had quizzes on some of the anatomical things--I don’t remember--but they were of the “take it over again until you get them all right” variety. The main grade was for discussion, but that posed a problem because the girls would not discuss anything at all with us two boys in the class (it was about 15 girls and then the two boys)--they would ask us to leave and wait in the hall, and then when the discussion was over, generally a few minutes before the class ended, we’d be let back in. So I was in a class where the grade was primarily on discussion, but we were not allowed to participate in the discussion, and fortunately we were not penalized for that...meaning, I did next to nothing and got credit for it.

The other male in the class was Tom G. He was an OK guy, relatively speaking. The thing I remember most about him was that he lived next to a massive electrical generator. It must have been about two stories high and the size of four houses. It made deep metallic clunking, clanking, and droning sounds, 24 hours a day, that pre-dated Industrial Music, and it also had all kinds of warning signs on the fence surrounding it....not just to not enter, but to not get close. However, Tom’s house was right next to it. I always wondered about that.

I did not belong to any clique in high school--I was part of the group of people who were not wanted by any clique and thus became their own who were anti-social, kids who were bussed in from a rural county next to us in the mountains which did not have its own high school, kids who were home schooled previously and thus were not really socialized, kids who had specialized interests (ragtime music or Russian language and culture or Civil War history or libertarian economics), stoners, kids of ambiguous gender, kids who had non-traditional parents (practitioners of Wicca, officers in the John Birch Society, nudists, people who filed nuisance lawsuits against the city and/or the state every month). In my case, I’d attended a different junior high school than the ones 98% of the students at Golden High School had attended, so I did not really know anyone there when I began, and my observation was that the cliques from junior high school were just moved to the high school level and continued. I tend to lay back and observe when I’m put into a new situation, rather than put on a show in the hopes of being snapped up by one team or another....but you are put into a group whether or not you choose to be in one. As long as you are dealing with people on a daily basis, you cannot really remain “above the fray”--at that age, I was still naïve enough to believe that I could.

Dress was also unimportant to me (it still is, as anyone who’s met me can attest!). Comfort and cost were always my two priorities. Also, at that period, I sometimes shared clothes with my father, who was the same size I was. His style of dress was rooted in Nat King Cole, circa 1958---the fedora, the polo shirt, etc. However, since I was a heavy jazz and blues person, that was fine with me. The early 60s John Lee Hooker used to dress that way, and I had albums by people like Red Garland and Sonny Stitt who proudly wore that look, at least in the early 60’s, when the used albums of theirs I owned dated from. My own idols at that time in terms of style were the American 60’s bands who aped the Stones and the Yardbirds and the like...bands such as the Standells and the Chocolate Watchband...or the Count Five...or the Shadows of Knight. I’d even peroxided my hair a few years earlier to look like High Tide and Green Grass-era Brian Jones (and when I later scored a copy of DISTORTIONS by the Litter, I realized that I was not the only one who idolized that style....although I was a bit late at it). What else was there to follow in this pre-punk early 70’s period. The MC5 had broken up....Iggy was Iggy, so there was no need to imitate him as he was one of a kind. People who should have known better were championing things like Steely Dan or Ziggy Stardust-era Bowie (I did like Bowie a few years later, in the period from Station to Station up through Scary Monsters----I had the privilege a few years later of seeing Bowie’s STATION TO STATION tour, the one where the film Un Chien Andalou by Bunuel was the “opening act”--I sat in front of Carlos Alomar’s Marshall stacks and thus heard his guitar for days after the show, but Ziggy and Aladdin Sane and the like always struck me as over-rated and made for critics....and they still do). I’m one of those people who considered Iggy and Lou Reed superior artists to Bowie--purer, deeper, people for whom life was their artwork. Bowie was an intellectual who’d studied the history of aesthetics and self-consciously “used” their purer art as spice for his own work, the way a chef would use cayenne pepper or cilantro to make a bland recipe more distinctive. We had no name for what we were into in those pre-punk days. When I stared at a Standells album cover or listened to the Shadows of Knight LP’s on Dunwich, I did not label it “punk” or “garage” or whatever. It was just good; it was rock and roll; it knew what was hip and what wasn’t. You want to praise “Ziggy Stardust”? Take a listen to my Dunwich 45 of the Shadows of Knight’s “I’m Gonna Make You Mine” at maximum volume, my friend....and then go crawl back under your rock!

Mostly, I wore a used army jacket back then. It often smelled of fried chicken. We had a Shakey’s Pizza down the hill from my home, outside of Golden, Colorado, and they had a $2.99 buffet. I would eat there maybe twice a month, and I would stuff my pockets and the lining of my coat with fried chicken from the buffet (and also pizza), and my family would live off that for days. I could literally stuff 20-22 pieces of fried chicken into that coat. My parents were both light eaters, so they could make the leftovers last...and it was cheaper than cooking.

Tom G looked kind of like Keanu Reeves at his most ragged. He also liked to exaggerate...and beyond. Knowing what kind of music I liked, he once told me that he’d been in the 60’s band The Yellow Payges, who’d recorded for Uni and whose album I owned and loved (I also had a few non-LP 45’s). I asked him why he was not on the album cover, and he told me he’d missed the photo shoot. Then I asked him to tell me about the songs on the album, since he was on it. He then claimed he was actually in the band BEFORE they made an album. He left them because he thought they were “going commercial” by recording for Uni. This was quite interesting, as he’d have to have been 10 or 11 years old when the Uni album was recorded, so he’d be even younger in the days prior to that album. However, even at that age, I realized that the best way to deal with such a liar is to just “let it go,” not ask any further questions, and move on.

I got to know Tom quite well for the half-a-school-year we sat out in the hall a few hours a week while the females discussed something about sex or human reproduction in the classroom we’d been sent out of. He had a few older sisters who’d gotten pregnant while in high school and had to drop out, and he told me that they believed things like “you can’t get pregnant the first time” and other myths of the ill-informed teenager. A shame they never took the class before dropping out....they could have even stayed during the discussions, as Tom and I could not.

We would often bring something to read during this class when we were in the hall.

As I remember, Tom would often read a sex-oriented letters mag that was in a small digest format. I was thinking it was PENTHOUSE VARIATIONS, but looking that up, I see that PV did not start until a few years after we graduated, so it must have been something else. He thought he was being tough reading a sex-oriented mag in the hall of the high school. Because it was letters and articles, it had no obscene pictures on its pages, and he’d keep it folded to some inside page, so the cover, which DID have an obscene image, would not be visible. As for me, I would sometimes have a literary work by Theodore Dreiser or Richard Wright or Gertrude Stein or William S. Burroughs, or a book of poems from Ted Berrigan or Paul Blackburn, but most of the time, it was a used comic book I’d gotten from a junk store or a flea market or a used bookstore. I could slip a few of them into the inside pocket of my army jacket (a pocket that had probably held some napkin-wrapped greasy legs and thighs a few days prior), and they were ready to take me to some other world whenever I had time to kill and wanted to veg-out.

This Family Living class was held in the main hall of the main building of the high school, the same hall where the main office was, but down toward the cafeteria side (at the other end was the band hall and the auditorium). The assistant principal (assistant principals are often the “enforcers” at high schools), Mr. Cochran (who would have been played by Myron Healey in a 50’s movie or Harvey Keitel in an 80’s movie), would often stand in the hall, his arms crossed, projecting authority. He was a fair man, and even if he’d never been a Marine, he projected that same calm-but-intense gravitas needed to keep order in a high school. I liked him, but then, I always stayed under the radar and never gave him any reason to “call me in” to his office. He would often be standing in the hall while I read my comic book and Tom read his sex-letters digest. During the first week of the semester, when we were sitting out in the hall, he came over to speak with us, thinking we’d been ejected for bad behavior, but we explained the situation to him, and he shook his head, looked at us as if we’d just told him that 1 + 1 = 3, and said, “that’s absurd.” Then he smiled and walked back to his position on the wall outside his office. He knew how much was absurd in the system he was a part of, and I’m guessing he just figured that this was one of the absurd aspects of the system that would never blow back toward him, and we seemed to enjoy the time off, so he was fine with that, one less thing he had to worry about.

I have no idea where I scored this copy of GHOST MANOR....junk store, used bookstore, the budget boxes at a comic store....but I did not buy it new (I bought the majority of my comics from secondary outlets--they were cheaper that way). GM had a relatively good run, 18 years and 96 issues, although it changed its name to GHOSTLY HAUNTS after a few years. Charlton in particular had a few superb horror/ghost anthology comics, as did DC and Marvel and Gold Key/Whitman. The 1950’s TALES FROM THE CRYPT/VAULT OF HORROR/HAUNT OF FEAR series from EC were probably the inspiration for most, and the long-term popularity of the BORIS KARLOFF--TALES OF MYSTERY comic did not go unnoticed either. Generally, these “ghost” comics would offer three or four separate, unrelated pieces, often introduced by a narrator character who was featured in a kind of frame story. No concern with story arcs or consistent character details was required with these as every issue had totally different characters and settings. Unless Boris Karloff was the narrator, I usually paid little attention to the “host” of these comics. As the 1970’s came in, these hosts tended to become more ironic and/or sarcastic in tone, and by the mid-1980’s the old-fashioned horror/ghost genre in comics pretty much died. For me, this was simultaneous with the death of “classic” comics and also the death of Charlton. However, this copy was early in GHOST MANOR’s run, and the mag was quite fresh and vibrant. A number of European horror films with an “old dark house” premise played the drive-ins of America in the 1960’s, and these also may have influenced the various ghost comics.

GHOST MANOR #2 has TWO copies of the same cover stapled on it, a nice reminder of Charlton’s quality control. How considerate of them to provide me a second one so I could tack it up on my bedroom wall

Take a look at the cover of this issue of GHOST MANOR....the screaming maniacal woman, the vicious bird on the attack toward a miniature man, trying desperately to defend himself. Then the catchy tagline WITNESS TO A MURDER, POLLY THE PARROT! What teenager looking for a 12-cent thrill would not throw down his or her change on the counter for such a comic book! Please remember that back in those days, one did not have portable movie entertainment as people have today. If you wanted to see a horror movie, you had to go to a theater....or wait for one on TV. If you wanted to see an anthology TV series devoted to the odd and the supernatural, you had to wait for whenever something like NIGHT GALLERY aired....or reruns of THE TWILIGHT ZONE or ONE STEP BEYOND. You could not watch them anytime you wanted on your phone anywhere you were. Comics allowed you to take over-the-top supernatural stories ANYWHERE you went----in my case, in the hall outside the sex education class I was not allowed to attend 2/3 of the time. Hey, I was getting a much better deal than the students stuck in that tedious class.

with many of these anthology horror comics, there was a throwaway frame story of the ghoulish narrator, some hunchback with a patch over one eye. Soon, however, we move into the meat and potatoes of the issue. WHO’S DOWNSTAIRS, set in France, has a sinister old building set for demolition----the elderly caretaker warns the uppity civil servant who wants to raze the building to respect the building’s history and to, whatever he does, NOT go into the cellar. Turns out Mr. Leech, the civil servant, doesn’t take that advice. WITNESS TO MURDER--POLLY THE PARROT (and, by the way, in the great tradition of exploitation film and B-movie posters, the scene on the cover appears NOWHERE in the story!) features a lady who is mourning the death of her fiancé, who was murdered in the main room of her apartment, the room where Polly’s cage is, and she is being hit on by a sleazy guy wanting to take advantage of her during her weakened state. Anyone who’s seen the film FREAKS can guess how this one ends. THE FIRES OF HELL trots out that old favorite plot, the crooked North American out to steal native relics of spiritual significance from some tribe in South America. He certainly pays the price for not respecting the local culture and traditions! In addition, you get a one-page short story about a Professor who swerves to avoid hitting a girl on the road and thus crashes into a lake....and awakens to face Death incarnate, who makes him, as the Godfather used to say, “an offer you can’t refuse.” Also, we get a one-page comic called THE WITCH’S CURSE. Add to that the usual ads for song-poem companies, model rockets, lifts for one’s shoes (to make you two inches taller), skin-clearing anti-blemish creams, money-making opportunities which involve sending a company some of your hard-earned cash first, etc...and you’ve got a better window into the world of the average small-town Joe or Jane of 1968 than anything the History Channel can provide. 

Looking up this issue at, I see that Charlton later cannibalized these stories in early 1980’s issues of their various horror-genre titles like GHASTLY TALES and HAUNTED (and also later issues of GHOST MANOR itself, #56 and #59)...and why not! The same people who bought comics in 1968 were probably not still buying them in the early 80’s, and even if they were, with so many of these horror comics dipping their ladles into the same well of images and plots, the average reader would just assume this was yet another story with the same archetypal plot elements. In the pre-internet age, things were not as meticulously documented as they are today. You could sell the sizzle from the same steak multiple times and get away with it more easily then.

I bought this comic used in the early 70’s for a dime or whatever, I read it multiple times then, I then re-read it at later times in my life when I had no money and could not afford a TV or other entertainment, and an old comic book provided late-night chills and thrills....and now 40+ years later I’m enjoying it again. Quick, efficiently told stories full of fast-moving visual images, able to take me to a place far away from my freezing apartment in a neighborhood full of domestic violence, alcoholism, minimum-wage jobs, dodgy used-car lots, half-abandoned strip malls, pawn shops, payday-loan stores, and people who will not talk to you if you do not attend their church----Yes, indeed....CHEAP USED VINTAGE COMICS ARE YOUR BEST ENTERTAINMENT VALUE!

Sunday, January 08, 2017

YEAH YEAH YEAH...welcome to 2017, a year which I can just tell by the way the pimples on my nose are pulsating in sheer terror is not gonna be good for anyone. Especially me, as the case will undoubtedly be. True, some of us might have our hopes and longing that maybe these days will FINALLY be the promised ones we've been awaiting lo these many years, but personally I think they're just gonna be fraught with more than our due share of woes, anxiety, dread and just plain sadness that exceeds the past four or five of 'em crammed together! Now I've been wrong about many of the premonitions I've had about my life that I've held since I was a kid (like fer the life of my I never thought I was gonna make it past age 42!) so this might be just another case of me getting them psychosomatic jitters that I'm sure have plagued many a suburban slob these past few eons.

Who'm I foolin'---some of my premonitions have come true (such as the ones about my impending baldness and going full headshine, terminal loneliness, lack of financial success, failure to overtake the rockscreeding market as the voice of journalistic fan writing...) that who knows, maybe this time my dreads and woes regarding the new year will materialize and in a whole lot worse way than I can ever dream! Hey, won't you readers out there just love for that to happen now cuz I know how much you all hate me for bein' so forthright and upfront when it comes to dealing with the sad concept of REALITY (mostly yours) 'n all! But for me I'm just gonna count off the days like those death cell inmates would right up until the BIG DAY (sometimes with anticipation!).

But yeah, this is turning out to be a rather chungered year if I do say so myself, and we're only like one week into the thing! (Note: "chungered" was a term I used to hear bantered about that more or less meant beat, whipped, tired, worn out etc. just in case you are feeling inquisitive.) Sheesh, I can't even muster myself to wish cancer upon anybody at this point, but I know that as soon as the ol' juices get flowing I most certainly will. Check future posts for any cancer-wishing updates.
A ROCK 'N ROLL DREAM I COULD REALLY SINK MY SUBCONSCIOUS INTO!!!: Haven't had many of these for awhile, though for some reason the cold weather seems to bring 'em on like potrzebie! In this one I am in attendance at a reunion gig of the original MOTHERS OF INVENTION (talking the 1966-1969-era group), and for some reason I am the one who is "introducing" the band, albeit seated in the audience of what looks like your typical high school gym. The Mothers are on-stage looking pretty much like they did way back in the sixties albeit Jimmy Carl Black now has hair down to his ass and Elliot Ingber looks nothing like the guy on the first album nor the frizzy haired freak of later times...really skinny with dyed hair belying his real age not to mention his real looks which were kinda all-out friz despite him having short hair and looking rather clean cut in comparison with the rest of the Mothers on the FREAK OUT cover.

Anyway I am introducing the band from my seat in the audience..."Jimmy Carl Black, the Indian of the group" while he raises his arms, hands in fists, in acknowledgement..."Don Preston on synthesizer" etc. and so forth, and when I get to Ingber I go "Elliot Ingber, the guy who played all of that great lead guitar on FREAK OUT..." which I guess did not settle well with Monsieur Zappa especially when a chuckle arose from the audience. Oh yeah, Motorhead Sherwood was there too without his beard and shorter hair a la his appearance in 200 MOTELS looking as young as he did back then.
Well, I did manage to get some dare-I-say (no, I better not) top notch reviews in this week. Nothing that actually came from the fruits of my hard work 'n labor true (hey, this is the post Christmas money crunch!) but sufficient enough considering that these platters did arrive courtesy of ace BLOG TO COMM boosters Bill Shute, Paul McGarry and of course the ever-impressive P. D. FADENSONNEN, one of the few reasons I haven't considered cryogenics as of late.  As usual, a big thanks to all three of ya and, as Gleason used to say, "...and away we go!"

The Linda Sharrock Network-LIVE AT THE BAB-ILO CD-r burn

Although I have and continue to give Sonny's work its due spin time I must admit that I really know practically nada about one-time partner Linda's recordings outside of her stint with her famed guitar-playing ex. So yeah, this recording from last August was pretty eye opening, and rather hotcha in how it recalls the better moments of seventies free play in a world that might have even feigned interest then but couldn't care less now. The performance (by a whole buncha musicians I never knew about before) is pretty good in that mid-seventies all-over-the-place JCOA style and, in keeping with the jazz avant garde's penchant for weirdities, has an accordion wheezing through the proceedings giving this perhaps a touch of the AACM/BAG freakishness that always went along well with performances such as this. Sharrock's voice, unfortunately, has not stood the test of time dropping at least one octave and showing a rather limited range compared with those screeches on MONKEY-POCKIE-BOO. Well, as Eddie Flowers said about another free-splat singer of the sixties onward at least she's still alive...
Savoy Brown-SEATTLE CENTER TALKING 1972 CD-r burn

A little of these English blues bands can go a longer way'n any of us would have thought possible, but like Ten Years After Savoy Brown could retain a tad bitta that rawness which we all like (or at least should) in our musical set up. Without the studio glossing the sound over, this live FM broadcast from Seattle can actually get a definitely anti-boogie boy like me up and movin' more'n a Kaopectate Kocktail! Not only that but Kim Simmonds and whoever it is with him playin' (the ever-changing band is introduced about halfway through) can kick out some jams without the audience even beggin' 'em! Probably the only way someone like you'd wanna give these oft-loathed guys a listen to...raw and alive even if it ain't recorded at Merlin's Magic Box!
Graham Day and the Forefathers-GOOD THINGS CD-r burn (originally on Own Up Records)

As you know a lotta these "new" revival or whatever you call 'em bands are good, but none of them are good enough to make me want to spin their wares any more than I hafta! These kinda acts might have all of the vim 'n vigor of the original sixties groups but frankly there is something lost in the translation from baby boomer-era fun 'n jamz to the dejection and miasma that makes up today's world. Graham Day and the Forefathers are different---these guys actually have a lotta the power and might of the mid-sixties wonders not to mention the early-seventies stamina of acts like the Raspberries and Badfinger who tried their bestest to keep up the cause in the face of Roberta Flack. Great originals that plow over you kinda reminding me of the Droogs in their eighties heyday...I wonder though, will this one get another spin here at the BTC orifices? Time will tell the tale.
The Master's Apprentices-UNDECIDED EP CD-r burn (originally on Ascot, Australia)

Nice li'l slice of down under psych pop from one of the originators (if not the first) of the form.The Apprentices ain't quite into their neo-Barrettian style here, but as far as just-post British Invasion rock went these Antipodean astounders sound just about as good as at least the third-tiered English groups who also didn't get quite the adulation the big names obviously wallowed in. But as far as mid/late-sixties Australian rock 'n roll went the Apprentices were definitely the tops, and if you're not gonna miss this be sure not to miss their other output which I'm sure has been duly reissued over these past few years!
Okkervil River-DOWN THE RIVER OF GOLDEN DREAMS CD-r burn (originally on Jagjaruwar Records)

Nice neo-Big Star-influenced band only without the high energy rockers that groups like Star also excelled in, not that you're going to notice given how these retro acts tend to forget that all out rock 'n roll punch. Good in teeny doses but as you'd expect sometimes the music and vocals get more'n a tad twee on ya which never did suit me fine. Sheesh, I wonder where Paul finds these platters to send me...I get the feeling that he does this just to see how much deep introspective reflective acoustic guitar strumming whole grain goodness I can get into my musical digestive system, figuring that I'm bound to kill myself on a strict diet of Stooges. It's nice of him to think of me this way what with my health problems and all, but sheesh, I hope you slipped a few examples of high cholesterol hard rock in that package as well!!!!
Neko Case and her Boyfriends-FURNACE ROOM LULLABYE CD-r burn (originally on Bloodshot Records)

Oh no! Yet another one of those "I'm my own woman" types doin' the singer/songwriter thing with a ton of that country rock twang tossed in for good fringe leather measure. Dunno what possessed McGarry to send this one to me other'n he sure didn't want to give this a listen himself! If Case had been around in the mid-to-late-seventies you could bet that ROLLING STONE would have given her ample space regarding her new digs in Laurel Canyon and maybe sport a pic or two featuring her 'n some member of the Eagles contingent chumming it up onna town. Gotta think up some witticisms to help fill this review out so that the cover pic featured on the left won't stick out at the bottom, but given what kind of computer you're reading this one maybe even that won't matter.
Evan Johns & the H-Bombs-HOWLIN' THROUGH THE NIGHT CD-r burn (originally on Alternative Tentacles)

Like many of these McGarry offerings this return to roots rockism platter is good enough in the usual small doses. I can take ten or so minutes of an act like the H-Bombs and enjoy what I've been hearing, but an entire album's worth really doesn't appeal to me. But still Johns and the Bombs play that retro rock shined up for modern tastes thing pretty good even if these guys might have "updated" the sound a little too much, and way too much for guys like myself who like these songs the way they were cooked up in 1959. Pick play of the litter..."Radiation".
WALT BENTON AND THE DIPLOMATS CD-r burn (originally on Bison Bop)

If you miss those nineties-vintage Norton releases which introduced you to the likes of the Rockin' R's and Jack Starr you'll probably go nutzo for this Bison Bop release. These Diplomats never really made an impression on the snob rock historians of the seventies onward, but they did pretty good with them early-rockabilly ravers (and some country twang even!) that have been laid down on these sides. Benton fronts the act swell enough even though his vocal presence doesn't match the likes of the big names, and the group plays on at pace that, while not over-the-top, comes off as good as a whole slew of those southern rockabilly acts tryin' to catch up on the Gene Vincent bandwagon sure did. Overall not bad. Nothing here would end up on a BACK FROM THE GRAVE album true, but you'll take it over Lady Caga anyday!
The Orange Humble Band-ASSORTED CREAMS CD-r burn (originally on Half a Cow Records)

I picked this 'un outta the box of McGarry burns if only because the cover reminded me of those weird pseudo-nostalgic neo-pop art symbolic sleeves that were all the rage of the 1972-1974 album cover season. Fortunately the music is way better'n a good portion of the platters which were housed in those old covers, for the Orange Humble Band sound more early-seventies in a power pop teenage vein than they do hippydippydom on the verge of collapse (or at least we hoped it was). Sure these guys do sound kinda twee in part, but at least they gave it the ol' post-mop top rah rah go which is more than I could say about a whole bunch of their compadres in the new pop realm. Perhaps it's a bit too long (fifteen tracks) to handle in one sitting, but then again who says you have to???

David Wertman-KARA SUITE CD-r burn (originally on Mustevic Sound Records)

It's sure nice hearing this longtime New Music Distribution Service back of the bin fave again, and the thing even stirs ya up 'n inspires ya a good forty years after it was recorded. Bassist Wertman leads a really good aggregation including Charles Tyler and Ken Simon on saxes that not only recalls the Loft Scene that was goin' on at the time but the remnants of the great seventies blowout that was convening at the CBGB Gallery a good twennysome-plus years later! The whole thing swings, broods, rock 'n rolls even, and I for one am glad that I snatched this 'un up back when it was available at a cheap enough price, even though I did pass on those BAG Luther Thomas albums that I kinda thought would be around forever so like mebbee next time, y'know? Boy was I (and shall ever remain) a stoop!
Various Artists-DETERMINATION MARK BOSS CD-r burn (Bill Shute)

Here's one that's been cuddled up in the Bill Burn Box that I picked outta random and it's a pretty snazzy one clocking in at about forty minutes. Lotsa good cheap middle-Amerigan garage band rock here that's good enough that it coulda appeared on one of those BACK FROM THE GRAVE or SCUM OF THE EARTH volumes and fit in perfectly. My favorite of this bunch just has to be Attila and the Huns' whacked out take on the Sonics classic "The Witch" with new lyrics, this time entitled "Mojo Cools". Also hot on the list is Robin and the Batmen's version of "Louie Louie" where you can actually hear the lyrics. Tracks by the Pastels (not the English outfit) and Lost Children also fit the primitive garage band mode. For a slight change the likes of Johnny Guitar Watson and Lanin's Southern Serenaders appear, the first one doing some of that blues guitar that actually got him friendly with Frank Zappa while the others do some twenties jazz that makes me wanna watch a silent comedy real bad! Good collection that made my day about .00005% better than had I not heard it!