Thursday, July 19, 2018

MOOM PITCHER REVIEW! DEATH TRAP (1963)

I know it's a cool thing to turn your Dee-Vee-Dee player into your own UHF station ca. 1953-1966 (longer if you count reruns) but why does it have to be turned into a boring Sunday afternoon viewing session inna first place? Yeah these British films can get awfully dry, but this one was so arid that I thought I'd roll it on my armpits. It's the old story about some gal whose sister died under strange circumstances and the moolah she had just withdrawn from the bank has ended up missing. Was it the investment broker who killed her after she delivered the dough or one of the many slickster characters who pop in and out of this hour-long film which I guess is supposed to be a crime thriller although the only thrill I got outta this one was identifying the classic English automobiles that cruise about here and there. Now if you're one of those brainy and inquisitive girls that I went to school with who were always trying to figure out the whys and wherefores of various tee-vee mysteries you might like it, but us dumbo boys were more apt to be watching LITTLE RASCALS repeats on the other station. And like, who wants to be a girl (yech!).

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

MOOM PITCHER REVIEW BY BILL SHUTE! THE ROAD TO HOLLYWOOD (1947) STARRING BING CROSBY!


One of the old tricks of budget labels is to find material that a famous artist recorded for some small label before becoming famous, slap a few of those tracks onto an LP with the artist’s name prominently featured, and then pump it up to album length with filler from some non-famous artist the label already had the rights to (or could acquire for next to nothing). The Beatles albums on MGM and Atco were like this, with 4 Beatles tracks backing Tony Sheridan, and 8 tracks by others. For a real laugh, why not try Googling the albums ORBITING WITH ROY ORBISON AND BRISTOW HOOPER or SOUL AS SUNG BY OTIS REDDING AND LITTLE JOE CURTIS (see pics), both of which are classics (or anti-classics) of that genre.







Something like that was also done in the film world from time to time. There was a low-budget crime film made at PRC circa 1940-41 called PAPER BULLETS starring Jack LaRue, which had the young Alan Ladd in a small role. A few years after Ladd became a huge star with THIS GUN FOR HIRE, Eagle-Lion took the film, placed Ladd’s name above the title, and re-released it as GANGS, INC. And anyone who’s ever seen the 1936 Weiss family serial THE CLUTCHING HAND has seen an awkwardly inserted title card on a few chapters which reads STARRING JON HALL. Presumably, these prints came from the late 30’s after Hall was a star at Universal. When he made the serial, he was certainly NOT the star of it….in fact, he’d not even changed his name to Jon Hall yet….he was still Charles Locher, and was billed on the cast list as such! I’ve always loved this kind of playful deception—rather than being outraged by it, I admire the daring of the con, and often you get to see or hear some obscure material you would not find normally.

Astor Pictures was a small, marginal film distribution company which specialized in reissues of once-popular films which still had appeal on some level. Old horror films and things such as the East Side Kids features were re-issued by Astor. They were in business from the 1930’s through the 1960’s. They also released some original material, low-budget all-Black cast films, shot-in-16mm westerns starring Sunset Carson, etc. The company morphed into an art-film distributor in its final days of the early 60’s, releasing such foreign classics as LA DOLCE VITA and LAST YEAR AT MARIENBAD. During their 40’s heyday, though, they were kind of like the film equivalent to a budget label. With legendary exploitation film-maker BUD POLLARD (THE HORROR, GIRLS FOR SALE, THE BLACK KING, Louis Jordan’s BEWARE) on board at Astor, they came up with the brilliant idea of taking Danny Kaye’s comedy shorts at Educational Pictures, which Astor had the rights to at that time, and editing them together into a kind of “feature” that would STAR Danny Kaye (meaning, his name could be put on the theater marquee and bring in the customers). That created the “feature” THE BIRTH OF A STAR. I’m not sure if that’s in circulation—no one on the IMDB has actually seen it. When that worked, they came up with the idea of editing together parts of Bing Crosby’s comedy musical shorts made by Mack Sennett at Educational Pictures in 1931-32, after Crosby had been in the Paul Whiteman film KING OF JAZZ (1930) but before he truly broke as a national star via radio. The four Educational Pictures shorts (which do survive—Grapevine Video was offering them at one time, and they are perhaps better appreciated in their original context than sliced and diced into a “feature”) were I SURRENDER DEAR, ONE MORE CHANCE, BILLBOARD GIRL, and DREAM HOUSE. They are all quite entertaining, and Bing’s self-effacing, self-deprecating, amiable persona really began with these shorts. Gary Giddins, in the first volume of his projected multi-volume biography of Crosby (the second volume will be out later this year), gives a lot of credit to Sennett (who is still much under-rated….especially his later work) for figuring out how to “market” Crosby as a film character who had to carry his own film shorts. Crosby’s charm and excellent comic timing, as well as his bordering-on-hip but still dreamy vocalizing, are very much in evidence in the early Sennett shorts. We love Educational Pictures shorts here at BTC and always have….if we could, we’d erect a shrine to such forgotten Educational Pictures stars who had their own series of comedy shorts such as TOM PATRICOLA AND BUSTER WEST, TOM HOWARD AND GEORGE SHELTON (later finding fame with the It Pays To Be Ignorant radio show), JEFFERSON MACHAMER (and his “Gags and Gals”), and TIM AND IRENE (Ryan). Buster Keaton and Harry Langdon also did great work at Educational. (EDITOR'S NOTE---and what about JOE COOK!)

If you’ve ever wondered what Bud Pollard looked and sounded like, you’re in luck….he actually narrates/hosts the film, reading his lines off cue cards, thus looking left of the camera for a while, right of the camera for a while, etc. The gimmick here is that on some level the film is passed off as a “biography” of Bing. This is possible because the shorts have plots about a character who is up and coming, trying different jobs, trying to make it as an entertainer, etc. As the characters he plays are essentially his public persona, this almost works. The title, of course, is meant to echo the successful ROAD pictures that Crosby did with Bob Hope. Astor specialized in small-town and neighborhood theaters which could charitably be called “third-run” houses. Now they could feature a film with a ROAD TO title which starred Bing Crosby and for a modest rental fee. Anyone who was a super-Crosby fan would probably be happy to see these shorts (there was no TV or internet to re-run them back then), once they got over the sting of not getting a Hope and Crosby film. Believe it or not, in addition to Danny Kaye and Bing Crosby, Astor went to that well another time by cobbling together some pre-stardom 1930’s shorts from BETTY GRABLE, and then passed that off as a feature called HOLLYWOOD BOUND—as with the Kaye feature, that does not seem to be in circulation either, unfortunately.

Thus like both the best budget-label products or exploitation-film scams, THE ROAD TO HOLLYWOOD was both an outrageous rip-off AND totally entertaining and worth the price of admission….once you got over being taken!

Saturday, July 14, 2018

'tis a smaller 'n usual weak-end post but don' worry, I will make up for it next time (and I promise!). Don't so any despairin', because I got a few goodies to share wit'cha this time and I kinda get the feeling you'll be rushin' to your bank account once you finish with today's read or at least go start cashin' in cans and sellin' plasma so you can buy a few of these beauts. As usual, these items come courtesy of not only Feeding Records but Bill Shute, Paul McGarry and no Bob, I didn't get to any of yours this go 'round! Maybe if you decorated 'em with fancy cover artwork and slipped 'em into hi-quality sleeves...

Muchos gracias this week goes to BRAD KOHLER for shipping my way a few items that I never woulda expected to have graced my mailbox in an entire lifetime (a lifetime of a flea, but who's counting?). Remember that CREEM reader's poll I printed like two or so weeks back? Well, Brad sent me more from that cache he was given by a galpal of his (found stashed in an old suitcase of all things!) and like, you could say that I was surprised beyond belief. In the package was two tattered issues of PHONOGRAPH RECORD MAGAZINE (the Pittsburgh edition!) which were as you would guess filled with loads of great writing and other fun things, the biggest thing sticking out in my mind being Alan Betrock's review of the first Dictators album which goes to show us that there were "Critics Bands" (Christgau, Emerson...) and there were "CRITICS BANDS" (Bangs, Meltzer...) and if any of you two think the twain will meet well then you certainly have another thought comin' to ya!

Brad also sent me (from the same batch as above) a mid-seventies issue of Marvel Management Group MAD-swipe CRAZY and like well, if the guy was sick enough to send me a copy of SICK a good five years back you know he's crazy enough to send me CRAZY! Nothing I'd care to write up in any future HIGH SIX I might be thinkin' about doin', but good enough to remind me that when MAD could get infantile at times, the competition could get even worse if you can imagine that! Funny, I remember the early CRAZY being kinda like MAD attempting to do NATIONAL LAMPOON-styled comedy only stopping just short of extreme bad taste, but by 1975 I don't think that the folk at Marvel could give a hoot anymore and just tossed this out to kids thinking they were picking up MAD but were too stupid to notice. Well, it worked for all those other Stan Lee swipes like PETER THE LITTLE PEST, HOMER THE HAPPY GHOST and of course GEORGIE!

And now, without further a doo-doo...


Dial-NOISE OPERA LP (Feeding Tube Records, available via Forced Exposure)

Yeh, most operas rock or not are usually just noise to me, but this thing is different. Dial is a trio led by former Ut guitarist Jacqui Ham, and she along with an electronic drummer/guitar feedbacker and a bass guitarist/synth player has created a huge hunkerin' wall of total rockist destruction spanning two sides of udder chaos. True it's "noise" but it's GOOD noise, the same sorta all-out racket that you heard on DAILY DANCE or even METAL MACHINE MUSIC with raging electronic sounds and guitar screech intermingling with buried, haunting vocals courtesy Ham.  I enjoyed the thing a whole lot despite the fact I thought this was going to be another one of those futile attempts to reclaim past sonic glories in an age where it ALL seems futile. Gee, I never knew that I could be so wrong!
***
Various Artists-THE GIRL GROUPS OF "HIT" RECORDS CD-r burn

Bill Shute knows all about the logistics and whyfores regarding the cheap imitation vs. the real deal thing, and as you might have noticed I sure know about it too given the 99-cent MARY POPPINS and IF I HAD A HAMMER albums that I grew up with (and still linger in the collection somewhere). But here's a cheap-o deal that really did pay off, for these Hit Records sounalikes come VERY close to the real meal deal! I can see most lower-class types cherishing these cheap knockoffs more'n anything given that the teen gals who got hold of these platters probably didn't have two-cents to rub together to buy fresh feminine napkins. Yes, for 39 measly pennies one could listen to everyone from the Dacrons to Clara and the Cleftones belt out the gal group numbers of the day, and quite convincingly as well. As for myself I do feel like I got a bargain outta the deal since I didn't have to pay ONE THIN DIME for the entire shebang! That's what I get for being a mooch, and maybe you can too!
***
THE PSYCH JAZZY BEAT OF I MARC 4 CD-r burn (originally on Black Cat Records)

Dunno if this was sent to me as a joke or because my learned knowledge re. music as a consciousness razing affair was to be tested. Neo-jazzy instrumentals that come close (but with a cigar!) to a variety of mid-to-late-sixties incidental sounds of an English telly/moom pitcher variety making me wonder if I were in the middle of some old swinging London commercial or a lost episode of THE AVENGERS. Couldn't stand to sit through the entire platter, not with GILLIGAN'S ISLAND on the other station.
***
Invaders-THERE'S A LIGHT, THERE'S A WAY CD-r burn (originally on Fresh Music Records, South Africa)

If you thought the English and Amerigan groups ruined rock 'n roll back in the early-seventies you shoulda heard what this South African act was up to. Yep, these Invaders gave the world, or at least South Africa, the same blend of watered down Stones-y groove (this even includes a cover of "You Can't Always Get What You Want") with the pertinent rise above the man lyrics that seemed suspicious even then unless you were a rock critic or somethin'. Really washed out rock music here...I wouldn't be surprised if original copies are goin' for four-plus digits these days. Only the album closer, a faithful enough cover of Creation's "Painter Man" manages to elicit any sorta inner joy from me, but something tells me this was recorded a good five years earlier, it's that fresh and innocent.
***
Richard Hell and the Voidoids-LIVE AT THE OLD WALDORF 82 CD-r burn

This is actually some rather potent straight ahead rock 'n roll from one of those guys who I think I'm supposed to hate. (Though I will hold off on it until I read his autobiography which I doubt I ever will.) The bulk of this contains an '82 show that I thought was rough enough to pass even the stringent roughness tests of the day while Cee- Dee compiler Paul McGarry even slapped on the old Ork EP and some '92-vintage material that I thought had all of the rock 'n roll appeal of an era in music that I thought was extremely snat. Stuff like that sure brings back memories, and good ones of a time when rock as an active, motivational force in one's life wasn't just a memory of early/mid-sixties teenage hijinx.
***
Tinsley Orchestral-TOP TV THEMES CD-r burn (originally on Fontana Records, England)

I guess if Nelson Riddle could so could Tinsley Orchestral crank out a tee-vee show theme  album 'n cash in on the mid-sixties boob tube zeitgeist that was keeping many a suburban slob glued to their sets! Most of the themes are of English programs that never made their way over here (other'n THUNDERBIRDS, which come to think of it was never picked up by any local television stations in the tri-state area either), but a few familiar tunes like THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW and THE VIRGINIAN are intermingled amidst the likes of such unfamiliar to be efforts such as THE RATCATCHERS (cool name) and SATURDAY NIGHT BEAT. Interesting collection that reminds me of an old MONTY PYTHON skit for some strange reason.
***
Various Artists-SELECTIONS FROM BAMBOO RECORDS (LOS ANGELES) DISC ONE CD-r burn

Dunno much if ANYTHING about this particular label but one thing can be said...Bamboo Records was yet another one of those outta-nowhere companies that might not have hit it big time, but they sure left a lotta weirdities in their path ifyaknowaddamean... Amidst the expected tackiness one would expect from an early-sixties label like this (boy singers, gal singers, instrumentals with occasional vocal intrusions...) are a few strange items that really get me even more HANKERIN' to hitch up with Peabody and Sherman for a trip into the past.

The Four-Stars sides have enough cheap lounge credo in 'em to make me wanna order a shrimp cocktail, while "Kicks" also tread well as far as early-sixties instro cool may take any of us a good sixty years after the fact! But the weirdest tracks just HAFTA be by Gary "Spider" Webb, whose "The Cave" (Parts One and Two) ranks as one of the crazier sides to have been heard in almost any era as Webb searches for his lost gal in a dark cave, and over two sides of 45 as well! Since both sides of the single were shallIsay "abbreviated" here I hope the two have met up after those two long days even if I'll bet they sure smelled bad!
***

Various Artists-WALKING CRAWLING HOOSIER ROGUES CD-r burn (Bill Shute)

Nice (ad)mixture of various floor scrapings or something like that from Bill, and a pretty decent batch at that. The usual garage band-y things pop up here to get me in a more dour than usual mood (though it is nice to know that, at one time, people on this earth were miserable just like they are now ) though the neu-psych of the Underneath really didn't work on me and has little lasting power like many of the late-eighties self-produced singles that continue to rot in my collection.

The big kahuna here, at least for me (you will beg to differ) were the two tracks by Clark-Hutchinson, a late-sixties act I was under the impression were progressive types but who, at least here, come off like a pretty wild 1969-vintage punk rock group what with the Bernie "BB" Fielding-like screaming vocals and the primitive thud backing. Definitely will be looking into some of their wares (they were on Decca, so I assume Repertoire re-released 'em on Cee-Dee) soon.
***
If you liked this spew you will definitely want to look into getting hold of the various issues of BLACK TO COMM that are not only still available but cheaper than a vasectomy! And I'm sure these mags are even more effective than a vasectomy because hey, if any gal sees you with a copy she probably wouldn't want to be anywhere near you! Do your part to halt overpopulation TODAY!

Thursday, July 12, 2018

BOOK REVIEW! METAL URBAIN--UN BON HIPPIE EST UN HIPPIE MORT BY OVIDIE-ERIC DEBRIS (Camion Blanc, 2012)

Can't read a word of this 'un ('cept for various English weaklie reprints and the like), or maybe I can patch things out the way Basil Fawlty could figure that the Germans were volunteering to get meat so all is not lost. But man this is a boffo reading in any language, a biography (or maybe autobiography since MU leader Eric Debris is co-author) regarding the infamous electronic punk rock aggregation Metal Urbain complete with loads of rare pix and information that I can barely make out but...I just know it has to be good because well, that type is so bold and those French words look so cool...

But if you were one who was smart enough to take French class in High Stool and paid attention you'll definitely get a whole lot more outta this than I ever could. But as it stands for mono-linguists like myself I'll take it if only because the SPIRIT seeps through any language barrier. And hey, you will learn enough from even a quick perusal of the pages whether it be what the legendary European Son looked like, or that "fuck you" can transcend into any language.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

COMIC BOOK REVIEW BY BILL SHUTE! TARZAN #28 (Marvel Comics, September 1979)


I should probably organize my comic books. I do have a list on the computer of what I own, so I don’t purchase anything I already have. I also have a printout of the most recent update of that list in my car, so when I’m on the road and hit a junk store or flea market or antique mall or used bookstore, I can take the list in with me. As a child I may have followed story arcs and waited for the next issue of SUBMARINER or DETECTIVE COMICS or whatever, but for most of my life, I have just picked up cheap comics which were not new when I acquired them—I’m the comics equivalent of someone whose record collection was built exclusively from the cut-out rack and used record stores. They are organized, if you can call it that, by when I acquired them. I’ve always basically just filled one box, which I use for present time-killing reading, and when that’s full and I’ve devoured everything in it, it goes out to the garage or the storage unit, and I start filling another. Every once in a while, I’ll dig an older box out and re-read whatever looks interesting. As comic books kind of blur together (that’s actually one of their charms), it’s not a problem to re-read something 3-5 (or 25) years down the line. That’s where I get most of the old comic books I write about here—and because they are usually stored together with purchases from the same period of acquisition, it helps me to remember the circumstances at the time I got them, which inspires the somewhat-fictionalized reminiscences growing out of the comics (I was tempted to provide one of those here about my supermarket work in Virginia in the 1980’s, when I originally picked up this comic probably for a dime or twenty cents, but I’ll save it for later).

I’ve also never been a “collector.” Remember when President George W. Bush, wanting to seem like a strong-willed leader, labelled himself “the decider”? I am “the enjoyer.” I’ve never “upgraded” a comic. I’ve never kept anything sealed. The concept of “ratings” is offensive to me—numerical scores should be saved for the Olympics and standardized tests in school. I’m attracted to cheap (that’s priorities one, two, AND three for me) comics, and that usually means well-worn. Were I an organized collector, I would assemble the issues together which contained the story arc found in this #28—I probably own the issue before this and after this (I should check my list), but that’s OK. I like the randomness factor. We are born into a collective life that’s already going along quite well without us, and we’ll drift away from this life the same way—things will get along just fine without us. Drift in, drift out.

The comic book Tarzan has drifted from one publisher to another over the decades. Dell had the rights from 1947-1972 and did a lot of great work. The Jesse March years at Dell are collected in a number of handsome hard-cover volumes which are highly recommended. DC picked up the character in 1972 and ran with it until 1977. I have most of those as they were not hard to find cheap (and you can still get them cheap in lesser condition). Marvel picked it up in 1977 and had a relatively short run of just two years. There was just one more Marvel Tarzan issue after this one in the Fall of 1979. Tarzan was without a regular comic book home until the 1990’s when Dark Horse picked up the property—they still own the license from ERB (the Edgar Rice Burroughs estate) for the comic book rights to the Tarzan character, to my knowledge. There was also a rare four-issue run at Charlton in the 1960’s (Charlton believing that the character had lapsed into the public domain), but those were pulled from shelves quickly. They are very good and are collected in a hardcover volume called THE UNAUTHORIZED TARZAN, which is highly recommended.

This particular issue, the second-to-last one published at Marvel, puts Tarzan in an urban environment and drops us well into an existing story---and more than that, into the climactic fight near the end of an existing story. It’s as if you took a ten-minute chunk out of Chapter 12, the concluding chapter, of a movie serial, slowed it down, and created a comic book story around that. I’ve been reading so many crime and western comics in the last year, which usually contain at least four separate stories, that I am not used to these issues which devote the whole thing to a slice from a multi-book ongoing story arc. Comics writers were well aware that many readers would never read the whole thing in sequence (their target audience might not have gotten an allowance or mowed anyone’s lawn that particular week, and thus would not have the 40 cents to blow on a copy), so they do drop hints about the non-regular characters involved in the plot—here, an evil maniac (Mr. Tory) who runs an urban “zoo” in his penthouse, and an African-American organized crime leader who winds up helping Tarzan and whose backstory is presented to make him sympathetic the way a similar character in a 1930’s Warner Brothers urban crime film, played by an Edward G. Robinson or a James Cagney, might be presented. Interestingly, some of the police who are present at the climactic battle are on the take from this guy (Blackjack) and let him walk away after the fight (he’s after all not the one they are after).

From the cover image, which tips the hat to King Kong, to the story and the art, which seems like it could easily have been a Batman plot, something seems strangely derivative about this issue. Maybe they knew the license was going to run out or that the series had been cancelled or whatever and they just fell back on what they usually did in other Marvel comics because it was easier and they could save their effort for something that interested them more (I do have to point out, though, that there is a majestic two-page illustration of the climactic battle that is worthy of framing). After all, it’s just product, and product to be gotten out by a deadline. Jane is kidnapped, their son Korak is away dealing with other problems but manages to fly in at the last minute and save the day, and Tarzan (even though drugged by his enemies), with his faithful Lion companion Jad-Ba-Ja, manages to defeat a massive gorilla who seems to be the scale of some Japanese movie monster. However, as stated above, the setting and the fight and the way everything is drawn in the climactic battle—even the dialogue, except for the occasional cry of “Kreegah!”-- feels like it could be from a Marvel Spider-Man comic. It’s much more “Marvel” than it is Tarzan, but that’s fine….no one reading this comic could fail to know it’s a Marvel comic, even without seeing the cover or the art/writing credits. The 60’s-80s Marvel DID have a clear brand identity, and it was deeply etched into the DNA of everything they did.

If you are looking to try some vintage Tarzan comic books, I’d recommend any of the 11 (!!!) volumes of THE JESSE MARSH YEARS, from the Dell run, which have come out from Dark Horse—see which volume you can get at the lowest price (though, of course, I’d be partial to the ones with Lex Barker on the cover). They are beautiful and well-restored and have a kind of legendary or ‘magnificent’ quality I’m not seeing in the Marvel or DC comics, but then Marvel and DC had to sell Tarzan comics to superhero fans, so they pretty much had to make their versions of Tarzan somehow echo the house style.

I reviewed one of the Lex Barker Tarzan films here a while back. I can make a point of writing about one of the Gordon Scott ones too, perhaps over the summer, for BTC’s Tarzan fans. Scott had a good run with the character, riding that wave until his second career in Europe in the 1960’s where he made many excellent sword and sandal films, some westerns, and for his final two films, two outrageous Spanish-made Eurospy romps!

Saturday, July 07, 2018

"In the good old summertime/Having sex with a dog is a crime/Unless you are another dog/Then everything is fine"...tell me, how many times have you sung that seasonal salute that has thrilled many a' generation with its lilting melody and timeless message! Well, summertime sum-sum-summertime is here and we don't need the Jamies to tell us that what with the beautifully hot weather we've been having here, albeit once again I gotta admit that the warm 'n toasty season doesn't jar me one bit like it mighta done even ten years ago. The only thing it does do is remind me of summertimes past when I was a kid and things like riding bikes and severe weather were the coolest things I got look forward to. Heck, I sure can't wait to hit my second childhood so these things can ONCE AGAIN make that spiritual indentation into my ever-aging brain even if I haven't rode a bike in ages and I still get the scaries when thunderstorm and tornado warnings pop up onna telly! But hey it's nice outside and like how can I not think about things that happened back in them dayze like goin' swimmin' with a suit ripped right in the front or getting knocked off my bike by the big kids and having my leg stitched up (a day or two before Jim Morrison took the bathtub to Hell) or any of those other scenes that made me the total turd that I am and shall remain? Maybe summer wasn't as hotcha as I remembered it to be anyway...  I mean, what's the difference between summer humiliations and winter ones anyway???
***
The burnt Cee-Dee of a Von Lmo rehearsal that Weasel Walter promised me last week has finally arrived, and all I gotta say is IF THIS IS A RECORDING OF A MERE REHEARSAL I HATE TO SEE THE EFFECTS OF THIS ON A LIVE AND BREATHING AUDIENCE!!! Yes, as you would guess the new Von Lmo band with Mr. Walter on drums is a total eruption out of time killer, and the tracks from RED RESISTOR that were rehearsed that day (6/26/18 if you do care) were out of this world (I mean, where else?) fantastic. Dunno who is playing sax on this (or saxes as I think I heard a duel goin' on somewhere in there) is incredible and up there with any of our fave sixties/seventies fringe players, while Lmo can still scare a few great strains outta his guitar like we knew he would. And of course the rest of the act, Walter included, was top notch and so over the wall and screaming that I do fear that the men in the white coats don't come after 'em with nets! An amazing achievement (can't wait to hear what they do with FUTURE LANGUAGE) that only has me thinkin' of what Trixie A. Balm said about the Dictators a good fortysome years back..."HEAVY METAL WILL STAND!"
***
Before I go on any further I must put my two cents (OK, maybe a lot more) in about the recent passing of legendary comic book artist Steve Ditko. And like sheesh, what else can I say about the Spider-Man co-creator and generally all 'round major name in the Silver Age field that hasn't already been said before, other'n maybe put my own particular spin on his legend and what he meant for an entire generation of Saturday Afternoon Barbershop Kids who were still talking about his Marvel Comics work years after the guy skeedaddled for less greener, but pretty much FREER pastures. Y'know, those places where he could get away with all of those things he couldn't get away with at Marvel because hey...he was Steve Ditko.

By the time I was eleven and buying up all of the comic books that seemed worthy of me buying (mainly Marvel, DC and for humor Archie and the various imitators) the only Ditko I was reading were those boffo Marvel reprints that were popping up in the likes of such classy mags as MONSTERS ON THE PROWL and CREATURES ON THE LOOSE...Marvel's attempt to fool kids like Brad Kohler into thinking that those by-then decade-old stories about the likes of Groom and Ga-Goom were as fresh and as concurrent as the latest X-Men, which come to think of it was creeping along as a reprint title itself at the time. The usually non-monster Ditko stories were as equally appetizing as Jack Kirby's oversized space monsters, usually a bit brainy and TWILIGHT ZONE-ish with that early-sixties feeling that I sure preferred over the Peter Max early-seventies glop that was permeating everything from children's books to television commercials at the time. Let's just say that for a pre-teen who LOVED everything that the years 1958-1963 stood for, I ate these comics up like pastafazool.

Unfortunately the Ditko-era Spider-Man and Dr. Strange (even Hulk!) sagas had been long-gone on the Marvel reprint circuit so little things like the debut Strange story and those little Spider-Man panels in Les Daniels' COMIX sure meant a whole lot to this comics-obsessed turdburger! As did the various flea market finds which even in the early-seventies tended to come up short as far as the rest of those early superhero sagas that I most desperately wanted. And it would figure that as soon as my interest in comics would be replaced by a mad craving for rock music the superhero frenzy would once again rear its cowled head and you just couldn't escape those Ditko reprints no matter how hard you try.

But when I was harboring what some would call an unhealthy obsessive/compulsive hankerin' for comic books Steve Ditko was thee man. In an age where every sinew and muscle on your average hero was drawn in such detail that you could practically smell their armpits given the suggested sweat that must've been pouring outta their overdrive glands Ditko had whatcha'd call a simpler, more casual style that was reflective of the fifties era he came out of. Sure the people seemed to look alike, dress perpetually early-sixties even in his later work and perhaps he couldn't draw wimmen as well as some wonks out there said, but it was a nice, clean and certainly refreshing style that was beyond the more hacked up guys out there yet not quite as fine as the other big names in the comics idiom. (Though some stories were finely detailed, such as the debut Dr. Strange 'un which I do declare ranks as one of Ditko's best efforts.) This "simplicity" certainly did lend itself to Ditko's art (and Stan Lee's stories), which although getting "better" o'er the years still maintained that certain "dated" style that sure endeared me to his various works.

Of course how could anyone discuss Ditko without mentioning his controversial and "personalist" sagas which he did not only for the fanzine and smaller press outlets but the likes of Charlton, who seemed to let him do whatever he wanted no matter how far against the grain of Youth Culture (and the general comics market) it might have been. There were certain outcroppings of the Ditko to be in the later Spider-Man sagas he actually plotted such as the time when a now-college-age Peter Parker came across a gaggle of protester types who want Spidey's usually wishy-washy alter-ego to join in on the festivities with Parker for once showing some 'nads tellin' the whole bunch they're definitely beyond the screwy side of life. Ditko did sneak a good rejoinder to Parker's dismissal of the demonstrators when one of the protest kiddies said something along the lines of "But Pete, if you have something you want to protest WE'D join up with you!" which I thought told a whole lot more of the more altruistic-than-thou crowd than just about anything said about these blokes not only then, but in the here and now. Unfortunately I couldn't get the exact quote jetted your way considering how my comics're boxed up and in storage (yech!) right now, but I'm sure my memory is correct regarding this particular synapse in the Ditko Spider-Man saga and given Ditko's various socio-political opines I wouldn't doubt my usually frizzed-out memory one bit!

True it was those stories in Charlton's BLUE BEETLE where abstract modern art was put down and protesters were made to look so silly in their myopic save the world ways that might have gotten the proto-hippie Gary Trudeau types to turn their back on Ditko with a vengeance. In actuality it was Ditko's fanzine and "underground" works which really might have pushed the bell-bottomed future GREEN LANTERN/GREEN ARROW fans outta their inflatable chairs and onto the hard wooden floor of reality! After all, sagas sprouting various Randian dictums like THE AVENGING WORLD would have turned off more'n just a few mellow types, and as far as a superheroes go Ditko's MR. A wasn't exactly out there saving the universe from pollution or racism. He was more or less saving the world from ITSELF even if I'm sure that many (most?) readers were turned off by the endless barrage of one-page lectures regarding man's rights and the evils of collectivism which some were abhored by, but nobody seemed to do anything about it which pretty much made 'em as BAD as the badskis they claimed to be horrified by in the first place!

Rough, brutish and even downright cruel, Mr. A seemed the logical end point in the long line of suited crimefighters from the Spirit and Midnight on down, updated with a metal mask that encompasses his head and no special powers other than the ability to fight and a half black-half white "business card" of sorts of which the holder of said card more or less knows his "fate". Debuting in Wally Wood's WITZEND, Mr. A. became Ditko's true avenging hero who appeared in a number of multiple-page stories as well as many one-page tracts which were given free to fanzines whose editors were probably aghast at Ditko's message but printed 'em because well...either than or some new crudzine hero drawn by a ten-year-old with the shakes.

True, some of those multi-page Mr, A sagas tended to drag such as the one where three young hoods kidnap a small girl and everyone spouts dialog that merely reinforces Ditko's various philosophical agendas. Even worse was one story where local businessmen hire Mr. A's other self, reporter Rex Grainge, to expose the corruption in their fair town yet have second thoughts when it seems as if these upstanding citizens began getting rooted out by Grainge when things started hitting a li'l too close to home! (That 'un ended with Mr. A himself forcing one of the men to listen to yet another drawn out lecture on A equalling A and other decidedly neo-libertarian ideals, mixed with certain concepts that I believe came from the brain of Ditko and Ditko only.) However, when Ditko was good he was pumping on all cylinders such as in the two stories that appeared in the second issue of Bruce Hershenson's mid-seventies MR. A series, the first dealing with a scammer who is robbing society parties while passing himself off as a suave and sophisticated type spouting various Bakunian banter actually gaining roaring hosannas from his limousine liberal victims, the other featuring two warring mobsters who join up with an anti-Mr. A society in a sad and sorry lesson having to do with appeasement of evil and the follies of overall collectivism.

Or something like that. It sometimes is hard to tell just where Ditko was going at times though I will say that it was fun watching him get there. Call me cruel and inhuman, but I love it when Mr. A. refuses to save a criminal who is hanging from a ledge. This even appeared in the debut MR. A story when a juvenile delinquent murderer, "Angel" is hanging from a rooftop after stabbing his social worker and Mr. A. actually asks the worker if he should get her to a hospital or let her die and save Angel (naturally she cannot make up her mind, true-to-form worldsaver she is). As the kid falls to a splattery death Mr. A finally admits that he wouldn't rescue Angel anyway since he was a killer which I'm sure boggled the worker's head because well, she was so naive about what she thought was right and wrong to the point where it got her a few slices in the gut by someone she thought really wasn't a bad boy at all.

Even in Ditko's Charlton works you could see his philosophy driven in and but good! One of his late-sixties horror stories (reprinted in one of the 90's era Robin Snyder titles I've had the pleasure of obtaining at the time) gives it good to the anti-progressive luddite types by featuring a world where medical knowledge is primitive and children die from maladies we now consider trivial. In the issue-length THE QUESTION, Ditko's Comics Code-friendly version of Mr. A discovers that a soda pop magnate is in cahoots with a local gangster, and when the thought-to-be spotless soft drink manufacturer steps in to sponsor the Question's secret identity Vic Sage's television program (after a previous sponsor dropped out due to Sage's controversial nature) Sage flat out refuses resulting in a whirlwind of heat and pressure that fortunately do not end with the Question barraging the neer do well with a heavy-handed lecture making him see the error of his ways. Sheesh, one of these days I'm gonna hafta dig out that comic and read the thing again...it was that powerful as a statement of where comics SHOULD have been in the light of late-sixties social conscious 'stead of some of the instantly-dated drek that did appear.

Even better was Killjoy, this guy who operated in a skin-tight suit that clung to his entire body just like the Golden Age Daredevil's only with a smiling "comedy" mask attached to the head, who appears just at the nick of time when some evildoers such as "Robber Hood " ("Property is theft!") appear. Killjoy's real nemeses aren't necessarily the weird villains but these ACLU-esque types who cry buckets when the evildoers are captured spouting those sociopolitical diatribes we've heard for decades and squeal with pleasure when a criminal does escape from Killjoy! Dunno (or care) what you think, but I sure find this a relief from all those moralistic sixties/seventies dramas where the JD is really the good guy and of course "SOCIETY" is to blame. I mean, society is to blame but not in the way most think it is!

Perhaps not-so-oddly enough, the few Ditko obits I have read neglected to mention any of his personalist work, preferring to concentrate on his Marvel era achievements and skipping over everything else he did ever-so-carefully. I'm positive that Ditko would have loathed that considering all of not only the creative but the philosophical effort he put into his post-Marvel work. I do get the feeling (somehow) that Ditko was prouder of Mr. A. or the Question than he was of co-creating Spider-Man and maybe I can't blame the professional obit writers out there to tell us everything within the span of a few inches even if it was more likely they were just trying to spin Ditko in a positive way because...well, you just can't say anything GOOD about libertarians or rightist of any stripes in mainstream journalism these days!

But hey, what else should any of us expect. After all, the world Ditko came out of and what he represented of it sure ain't the same world that's around these days I'll tell ya. In fact comic books ain't even the same as they were back in Ditko's heyday, reflecting an existence that would have seemed totally alien to me had I somehow picked up a current issue of even SUPERMAN back when I was eleven. Really, could you see your standard old time freckle-faced fanabla relating to anything passing for slam bang entertainment in the here and now? Not me, bub. And judging from the 2016 presidential campaign even libertarianism ain't what it used to be. Somehow I'll just chalk up the death of Ditko in the same way I chalked up a whole variety of deaths, both physical and spiritual, as part of that passing parade known as life that I could never get to join in on no matter how hard I can bang on that ol' bass drum o' mine!
***
Got some nice doozies to tell you about this time. Nothing earth-shattering mind you, but then again how many times have we heard a platter recently that measures up to the big guns in the overdrive world of rock 'n roll? But I think this bunch is pretty good as far as bunches go, and who are YOU to complain?


X-Blank-X-"Not Now No Way"/"Karma Bank" 33 rpm single (My Minds Eye Records)

What better way to pay tribute to late Pagan Mike Hudson by not only covering his classic Drome single but mimicking the original cover design while yer at it! The revived X-Blank-X does the Cleveland underground legend pretty swell on all counts on the a-side, while on the flip John Regular and company do the Amoeba Raft Boy trip with "Sonic Reducer" thrown into the mix for good measure! Sounds so good I sure wish there was a Drome Records still around where I could not only buy this but all those other records I've missed the first time around. As an added bonus the innersleeve's got Regular's reminiscences of not only the late Mike Hudson but Peter Laughner and is naturally worth the price of admission!
***
Paul Flaherty and Chris Corsano-THE HATED MUSIC 2-LP set (Feeding Tube Records, available via Forced Exposure)

Flaherty and Corsano might not play as hotcha as Ayler or Murray and the whole sax/drums duo thing has been done better on such must-haves as INTERSTELLAR SPACE and a variety of Frank Lowe albums, but ya gotta admit that the pair has spunk. And unlike Lou Grant I can sure dig spunk when it's spunked up right as it is on this new Feeding Tube edition of THE HATED MUSIC. On it the pair working for and against each other on two whole platters of this long-poo-poo'd "Nova Music" that does affect you in certain ways all of those jazzbos who think about flamingos while playing never could. Don't let the cover by Gary "Whatever Happened to Him???" Panter lead you into thinking this is some v. late-seventies Zappathon...this is The New Thing which remains The New Thing despite the best salvos ever to hit the once-wild world of jazz.
***
Wolf Eyes-NO ANSWER-LOWER FLOORS CD (De Stijl Records)

Well, I found it rather nicey-nice if I so say so myself. Electronic whirls at times reminded me of Dr. Mix doing one of their revisions on some old Seeds song while at others it sounds like some long-tossed away Smegma track that'll probably get released long after we're all dead and buried. What else could I say about a recording by this under-the-underground act that's been grabbing my attention for quite some time and should have gotten you all hot and bothered ages back only you were too busy thinking up evil things to say about me to give a hoot!
***
Guru Guru Groove-THE BIRTH OF KRAUTROCK 1969 CD (Purple Pyramid Records)

Yeah it's sure nice that these early excursions have finally made their way out into the open, but does that mean I have to drool all over 'em? The LSD-inspired free form freakouts start off sounding as "LA Blues" intensity driven as all get out but after awhile tend to sound too self-absorbed and bore more than they do stimulate. The cymbal/guitar duet was a tad interesting as was Mani Neumaier's driven drum solo, but they still come off as mere historical artyfacts instead of something I'd wanna listen to constantly for the next umpteen years. The closing live version of "Space Ship" is a winner though I think its the same one that's popped up on previous exhumations so wha' th' hey...
***
Wilko Johnson-BLOW YOUR MIND CD-r burn (originally on Chess Records)

I for one am thankful that the deadly health condition that should have taken Johnson years back has yet to claim him, and I am also glad that the man has stuck around long enough to record this boss album for none other than the classic Chess records label! This is the kinda stuff I like, lowdown and unclean blues cum rock that still has the same sorta fly specs and low budget studio sound that made these mid-fifties records so engaging to the likes of Bill Shute in the first place. Oddly enough, this reminded me a whole lot of some of those whitey blues acts that used to pop up on Stiff Records, no surprise considering just how much Johnson and the Feelgood guys had a hand in starting that whole rough and tumble genre. I'll be playing this one again very soon, and if you still hold the likes of not only Sean Tyla and Little Bob Story but their inspirations close to your boobies you just might have a hankerin' for this one too!
***
Various Artists-TOWER RECORDS 45's VOLUME ONE CD-r burn

It's pretty innerestin' to hear which acts were on the infamous Tower Records label other'n the Standells, Chocolate Watchband and Pink Floyd, and this first in the series of Cee Dees (dunno if these have been released legit-like or not) is a pretty good indication that the folks at Tower were pretty snat in their choices of what kinda artists they signed up. True I couldn't see anything here hitting the charts like the Standells did, but the vast selection of gal groups, r&b, hot rod and garage band music does make for a good sampling of everything that was hot about mid-sixties teenage radio (and living) in general. Highlights include an early side by Henry Nilsson, a Joe Meek-produced Heinz Burt single, a rare Davie Allan and the Arrows side and Lon Chaney Jr. trying to get in on the Bobby "Boris" Pickett groove with a holiday-themes monster ditty that was pretty good even if you knew it wasn't gonna go anywhere.
***
Plan 9-WERS-FM SEPT. 12 1982 BROADCAST CD-r burn

The six-oh (I dunt care what you think, I still like that Michael  Koeing-derived term!) "revival" was getting into gear when the boffo Plan 9 recorded this live-in-the-studio pledge drive show, and thank goodness for that because this one even tops their early Voxx mini-LP for pure addled enjoyment! There's not a bit of put on camp to be seen here, and the performances have all that energy and grit that you liked in your garage band collection, all done up WITHOUT the slickness and downright tame attitude that metastasized into many a late-eighties indie band single. Some originals even manage to peak their way through the barrage of covers, one which includes that "other" older guy in the band with the beard who played the tambourine singing a rather passionate rendition of the MC5 classic "Looking At You".
***
Various Artists-TYMES GO BY CD-r burn (compiled by Xara)

Dunno who this "Xara" is, but it compiled a neato collection of mid-sixties garage band kinda thingies that fans of the form have been putting together for years on end. There's nothing here that approaches the fiery intensity of a NUGGETS or PEBBLES, but the minor key tales of woe that appear here (no track listing, unfortunately) should remind you that even those lucky kids who you thought had it all because they could afford electric guitars and even play 'em had it pretty bad themselves. There are even a few surprisingly well-produced efforts that show a tad bitta sophistication and if you're interested in this brand of angst well, go to it!
***
The Challengers-HOT ROD ALBUM CD-r burn (originally on Sundazed Records)

I always thought  of the Challengers as being more of a cleaner-edged professional bunch who, unlike the Surfaris or Pyramids, didn't have that trashy rock 'n roll aesthetic that settles well with my bones. Turns out that HOT ROD ALBUM doesn't change my opines re. this any, but it's still what I would call a pretty snat plat. The cover versions of familiar faves, as usual, don't really cut it but they still tingle more than many of the tossaways one comes across, while the originals manage to keep up with the surf big names as far as encapsulating just about everything that was right about mid-sixties Amerigan teendom. Like I said, when I was a kid I thought ALL THIS was gonna be waiting for me but as usual fate took a turn into some neighborhood that I wouldn't want to go into after dark.
***
Ruff 'n Reddy-ADVENTURES IN SPACE CD-r burn (originally on Colpix Records)

Even at the age of nine (when these by-then decade-old cartoons hit the cathodes around here) I could tell that RUFF 'N REDDY was a better tee-vee deal especially when compared to the newer doodle that was being aimed at us suburban slob ranch house kiddies. And true, by that time much of the magic of what used to pass for kids tee-vee was long gone, but at least the fifties-laden syndication circuit kept many of us from going nuts over the latest outrage that was meant to educate and better us rather'n give us brats a good time. So yeah, I still do have a whole lotta kiddo good feelings about this dog 'n cat team even if their cartoons don't quite hold up the way that HUCKLEBERRY HOUND and YOGI BEAR do, and that even includes this particular storytime platter which is but a mere rehash of an adventure that appeared in serial form way back when. How could I tell? The "Vanilla Sarsaparilla" gag (which first made me aware of that root beer-like soda treat), that's how!
***
The Savages-LIVE N' WILD CD-r burn (originally on Duane Records)

Back when there were such things such as teenagers they used to have teen clubs for them to hang out at. And when they did have teen clubs to hang out at there were also teenage groups to entertain 'em! This Bermuda bunch must have worked all the clubs of that isle thrilling all of the millionaire kids who were out having fun, and this live album shows that they were a laid back, primitive yet powerful enough group to satisfy the likes of the standard sons and daughters of Standard Oil with more bucks to burn in one night than any of us'll see in a lifetime. Covers and originals intermingle on this rather tinny sounding item, all ending in a studio version of "Roses Are Red" which just hadda've been a beat band sneer in the faces of all those boy singers who were hot fanabla only a few years earlier!
***
Various Artists-I'D RATHER BE IN DAYTON WITH MY BACK BROKE CD-r burn (Bill Shute)

A shortie but a goodie from Bill, who (other'n the inclusion of two scratchy 78s of eastern euro origin) stuffed this one with nada but old radio commercials, sound clips and other long-forgotten whatnot. I mean, when was the last time you heard that generic opening to the Hanna-Barbara cartoons anyway? Nice ads including a Mello Yello one from Jim Varney, local restaurants and even some weird contest thing with Gary Owen doing the V.O. The children's chorus doing the classic "Peter Cottontail" number really did bring back those good ol' memories, because when I was a kid I used to sing this..."Here comes Peter Cottonmouth/Slithering down the bunny trail/Hippity-hoppity dinner's on it's way..." Naturally my aunt thought it was beyond the pale, but then again she never did hear my version of "In the Good Old Summertime"!
***
You still need a hint to go get some of those missing copies of BLACK TO COMM to fill up your collection? Well here it is, oh observant one!

Thursday, July 05, 2018

BOOK REVIEW! THE AGE OF ROCK 2, EDITED BY JONATHAN EISEN (Vintage Books, 1970)

Given that I ain't set my paws on this 'un since 1980 at the latest I thought it might be time to give this collection of then-pertinent rock writing deemed worthy enough of being reprinted in a collection another go at it. After all, Jonathan Eisen did such a good job with his TWENTY MINUTE FANDANGOS AND FOREVER CHANGES gatherin' of hotcha rock scribing, and since I've practically forgotten about this particular title I was sure this was gonna be a top notch collection containing everything that was right about "The Golden Age of Rock Criticism" or whatever Eddie Flowers once called that period when rock was feh, but the writing was sure prime cut. And man, if there's anything I could use here in the dark dank late teens it's HIGH ENERGY ROCK AND ROLL SCREED.

Unfortunately THE AGE OF ROCK 2 fails on a few counts. But the thing's still plenty readable and in fact has made for more of that fine Sunday afternoon and weeknight pre-beddy-bye time reading that I sure crave, so maybe it's for that I'll give this sampler a hefty rah even with the usual paens to Woodstock Nation (yawn!) and other vermin that have continually ruined and eradicated any sense of rock music as the total destroyer of jive (teenage and otherwise) off the face of this earth.

There are plenty of rockist plateaus to be found. David Walley from JAZZ AND POP's interview with the MC5 was quite nice, not as good as the one John Sinclair did with Rob Tyner in some old FIFTH ESTATE where the subjects of Joseph Jarman and just how influential the Five were in the area long before the appearance of KICK OUT THE JAMS were bandied about, but still good enough what with the band trying to come off as real down to earth guys transcending their revolutionary image that eventually bogged their entire career down. The Danny Fields interview from SCREW of all places was even better, with Fields giving us alla that behind-the-behind the scenes info on his role at Electra and other aspects of the biz which made him one of the very few FANS who could get away with a whole lot more than any of us would've ever thought! And who could resist reading a cutting (if accurate enough) putdown of the communist surge in pop music taken from a John Birch Society magazine (which, along with a few other pieces, was uncredited leading me to believe that a lotta the material here was reprinted w/o permission) followed by a Soviet assessment of the Beatles as consumerist flotsam!

That's not even counting the contributions from the big guns like Richard Meltzer (mostly old CRAWDADDY pieces but a few newer items such as his overall appreciation of the English heavies) and Sandy Pearlman's "Saucers Land in Virginia" which was yet another of those things that made the original CRAWDADDY so hotcha even in the face of Jefferson Airplane worship. There's even more smart talk from the likes of Robert Somma and Lenny Kaye's "The Best of Accapella" which is the thing that got Patti Smith all revved up about him in the first place.

However, even these higher echelon rock pieces aren't enough to make ya wanna puke at alla that hippie swill that, admittedly, was even more part and parcel to the "rock experience" than the high energy crowd would care to remember. Unfortunately, they're here to remind us all of just what a stinking cesspool of music and "culture" the late-sixties coulda been.

I dunno about you, but I never consider Jon Wiener one of the better rockscribes of that era (or after) and his Woodstock as a capitalist ploy article doesn't come off as the usual paen to hippie purity but of hippies once again being duped by the man. Now I don't care about Love Peace and (usually dried up) Music as much as you, but attacking it from a socialist standpoint ain't exactly anything I'd call beneficial to the punk way of thinking. Michael Lydon's "Rock For Sale" tackles the commercialization of rock even further as if it's such a big crime, perhaps forgetting alla those great Coke and Great Shakes commercials that were popping up only a few years earlier. But hey, Lydon was talking about "hip" rock all along and you know what that means...

Even some of the entries that I thought I would like tended to fall flat, such as Bobby Abrams' (a writer who showed much talent and could have developed into a Bangs or Meltzer had he only stuck around longer) piece on the Stones and even Ian Whitcomb on the British "rocker" movement. And not-so-oddly enough, one Howard Junker contributed a look-back-see regarding the fifties that I'll bet helped kick off that whole AMERICAN GRAFFITI/HAPPY DAYS seventies trip that had the youth of the day digging all of the WORST aspects of old rock 'n roll and none of the harsh, primitive ideals people like myself still love about those now-loathed times. Gee, thanks for influencing every tee-vee variety show and dingbat high school teacher I had, Howard!

Your cherce. You probably have read the good stuff before and if so you don't need this. If you never got to see the earlier, more "journalistic" serious rock writing of the  late-sixties well, just be sure that you read this one carefully. It sure is great going over everything that was GOOD about the post-garage band/pre-punkist portion of the twentieth century, but man do those hippoid reminiscences sure bring everything down to a level of...the same mindless stick-it-to-the-man who is more or less SUPPORTING you anyway (I mean, ain't George Soros and Warren Buffet every much as part of the revolution as the pampered beyond believe upper class protest kids?) rabble rousing that has come back in style with a vengeance these sad 'n sorry time!

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

MOOM PITCHER REVIEW BY BILL SHUTE! EVIL FACE (ITALY, 1974) STARRING KLAUS KINSKI!

Although it never did get a theatrical release in the US (and was not dubbed into English), EVIL FACE should be better known than it is. The MYA Communications DVD, sourced from an Italian video tape and thus not something for those who make a big stink about 4K restorations and HD shit, received poor reviews on the cult video websites, so I was able to pick up a used copy for next to nothing (alas, that was years ago....the cheapest used copy now is $50!). I don’t have a large-screen TV--I consider myself lucky to have a 27” one my children chipped in together to buy us a few years ago—so it looks fine to me, like a copy of an old VHS tape, which I suppose it is.

Evidently this is an upgrade from the version that floated around prior to the MYA disc’s release in 2009. The film was an Italian-Turkish co-production, and the bootleg copies floating around in the 1990’s and after were from copies of a blurry and cut Turkish-dubbed video tape--so I’m glad MYA released it at all, whatever their source!

The Spanish and Italian and French horror films which played American drive-ins in the early 70’s tended to be atmospheric period-pieces, with a languorous feel and at least some nudity and gore. They would be perfect for the drive-in setting, where often the first film would start before the sun was fully set, where you had a lousy small speaker clipped to your window, and where many of the patrons were as interested in getting high or getting drunk....or fooling around with their date....as they were in the movie. What counted was ATMOSPHERE and MOOD....and some nudity or gore that would get their attention and get them looking at the screen again. You did not get the fine detail at a drive-in----you got a fuzzy, spliced, washed-out experience. The few film fanatics who were REALLY paying attention to the film (on occasion I was one of those, on other occasions I was in either (or both) of the other categories) were people who went out of their way to find off-the-wall films and would enjoy the elliptical, woozy feel of these early 70’ Euro-horror films, such as DEATH SMILES ON THE MURDERER, which also starred Klaus Kinski. Even if you did not take drugs, the films put you in a drugged-like state.

EVIL FACE did not play here back in the day, but it has all the best qualities of the ones that did. Originally titled LA MANO CHE NUTRE LA MORTE (more or less, THE HAND THAT FEEDS THE DEAD), it is filled wall-to-wall with classic gothic horror tropes. In the first few minutes, we have a crazed assistant (he’s not a literal hunchback, but he prowls around bent over like one) to a mad doctor put under a spell and then sent to attack a couple making out in the woods near the doctor’s estate, taking the woman attacked and handing her over to mad doctor KLAUS KINSKI, who uses her in experiments to restore the lost beauty of the disfigured daughter of his medical mentor, who died in the fire that disfigured the daughter—now Kinski’s wife (a variation on the old Bela Lugosi THE CORPSE VANISHES plot, and then fifty others after that). There are many scenes of Kinski, at his most cerebral and self-absorbed, fooling around with hypodermic needles and doing various surgeries and grafts on topless women, always looking INTENSE and radiating that indescribable Kinski-ness that producers gladly paid the master to provide. His dialogue is minimal (though not as minimal as SOME films in the late 60s and early 70s where he has virtually no dialogue, and just glares mysteriously, even when he’s top-billed!), but he doesn’t have to say a thing—he just has to BE Klaus.

The orchestral soundtrack is the kind of downbeat almost funereal score that these films need, and it perfectly matches the languid, fragmented, fever-dream feel of the visuals—the combination of music and image totally captures a mood of decay. The “historical” setting in no particular era, the kind of vague “historical” semi-gothic past you see in comic books and horror movies, helps to create an elegant feel for the film, and by the end of it, you’ll feel as if you too are infected with the disease/malaise that EVIL FACE radiates so well.

Director-writer Sergio Garrone (brother of actor Ricardo Garrone, a man well-known to Euro-western fans) and his Turkish production partner made two films with Kinski back-to-back in an eight-week period. The other one, LE AMANTE DEL MOSTRO (aka LOVER OF THE MONSTER), is even more obscure than this one, if that’s possible. It sounds vaguely similar in plot (but with a Jekyll and Hyde angle) and features most of the same cast. The early 70’s were really a Golden Age of Italian and Spanish horror films. When you can have a little-known, quickly made, seemingly throwaway film like this one deliver the goods so well and be so atmospheric and moody from beginning to end, you know that the film grows out of a great period—there must have been something in the air they were all breathing or the water they were all drinking. Fortunately, we can still catch that spirit (or be infected by the malaise) on this Mya DVD of EVIL FACE.

Sunday, July 01, 2018

Now that we've trudged through half of a whole year you're probably expectin' me to laze back and take it easy now that the weather outside is far from frightful, eh? Well, no way noodnik! Even though there are plenty of outdoors-y type things for me to do I'd prefer to stay RIGHT HERE in front of the keyboard and peck out a whole slew of things relating to (and not) the subject of music (especially rock et roll) because (naturally) that's where my spiritual soul STILL lies even thirty years after I shoulda known better!

But hey, if music (especially the stuff created during the spurt of rockist imagination 1964-1981) as well as old tee-vee shows, comix, moom pitchers etc. still tingle my nerve endings even this far after the fact why not pester you readers with my opines and otherworldly views which you just ain't gonna find in any issue of ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY that hits the stands! Well, whatever it is that I do here it sure beats Parke Puterbaugh that's for sure (not to mention Robert "Whatever Happened to HIM???" Christgau).
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Before we go any further with this week's fun and jamz I would like to take this time to apologize for a BLOG TO COMM post from October 14, 1798 in which the indigenous people of New Guinea were defamed in a particularly cruel and uncalled for fashion ("Those Un-Bearable Blackamoors of the Isles"). Although the piece was reflective of the ideals and customs of the times I now understand just how some if not all of the views expressed therein would just plumb be considered offensive to those of New Guinean descent. Since I would like for all good people to feel inclusive and welcome and all that warm and toasty stuff let me take this opportunity to say that I am truly sorry for my uncalled for past callousness in calling the residents of that beautiful region "rock apes" amongst other non-niceties. Just don't go asking for any monetary compensation because frankly, I ain't got it.
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AN IMPORTANT MESSAGE FROM WEASEL WALTER!---"So, I am playing drums in the new Von Lmo band. We had a great rehearsal last night and thought you might like to hear it. On July 7th we are playing the entire RED RESISTOR album at a venue in Coney Island. Maybe you could say something about it on your blog? (You just said it, WW!) We are playing FUTURE LANGUAGE in Tompkins Square Park on Sept 9th also."
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Surprise of the week! A partially-filled 1976 CREEM magazine reader's poll
blank  sent to our orifices courtesy none other than Brad Kohler! Interesting to say the least what with the expected likes of commercial heavy metal and prog crunching into the oncoming punk rock onslaught, not to mention
the inclusion of Crystal THC as  "Drug of the Year" and David Bowie and Iggy Pop being the :Couple of the Year" for that matter! And of course Lester Bangs just hasta turn up as being the rockcrit with the mostest! After reading this all I gotta wonder is...where did we go wrong/right/whatever???
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Maybe it's now time for me to shut up and get to the writeups, so shut up I MUST.


Wire-PINK FLAG 2-CD set with book, CHAIRS MISSING 3-CD set with book, 154 3-CD set with book (Pink Flag Records, all three available via the Forced Exposure links highlighted above)

Now c'mon, doesn't it surprise you too? Y'know, alla those  seventies albums, the same ones you never could find at your record store which were treated like dirt by everyone you knew,  now being given the royal treatment what with the fancy books they come in and the detailed notes to be found therein. And that's not mentioning the additional music to be heard, stuff which you thought was tossed into the trashbin ages back but lo and behold here it is all shined up and polished for your listening enjoyment! I never thought I would have lived so long, and sometimes I think that maybe I DID die and go to Heaven where the eternal drone plays and the angels certainly ain't strummin' no harps that's for sure!

And so Wire's own Pink Flag label has done their Harvest-era albums up fine with these packages. Yes, all three of their early albums have been re-released in deluxe hard-cover books not only with the added single only sides, outtakes and flotsam you'd expect from such a high-minded project as this, but the rare snaps and reading to be found within those hardbound covers ain't anything to be sneezed at either! It's so heart-cockle warming to see these things done up right and presented in something other'n a stark cover, especially since these platters still remain as important to the whole rock 'n roll ramalama as all of those other save-the-world faves of ours that are getting their just dies fortysome years after the fact! It's gonna be a futile task to review these in depth like alla those high-falutin' rock critics you see nowadays who like to examine albums as if they were archaeologists studying the skidmarks from the underwear of King Tut trying to discern what kind of paleo-prehistoric diet of honey and hummingbird wings he digested, so let me approach these packages in my own peculiar was so-to-speak.


So (being as to-the-point as I can get)---PINK FLAG...hard-edged avant garde punk rock that not only has one of the better "Sister Ray" rips heard since Phil Manzanara's "Miss Shapiro" ("Strange") but a total eruption that could have fooled a few experts into thinking these were WHITE LIGHT/WHITE HEAT outtakes (no foolin'!). CHAIRS MISSING shows a :maturation that for once ain't anything to be feared...some more structure and a more of a nod to the punkier aspects of mid-seventies England (thinkin' Eno's "Third Uncle") mixed in with a whole slew of Syd Barrett appreciation that never really did leave the hearts and minds of listeners over there even though Nick Kent hadda prod Harvest into re-releasing Syd's solo platters. 154...even more of a descent into the dank with the more frightening side of Kevin Ayers (again...no foolin'!) steeped into what Can were doing at their most demonic. Like similar efforts by Pere Ubu, Throbbing Gristle and other members of the new underground flying straight into the heart of oblivion, one of those records that really signed one off of the seventies and signaled the beginning of something that was perhaps way lacking in the bared-wire intensity that readers of this blog usually tend to crave. But sure as shootin' we didn't know any of that yet.

I ain't even mentioning the usual b-sides, EP tracks, outtakes and demos that show up. That stuff'll really thrill those fans out there who have an anus the size of a peanut and us more controlled folk should like it as well. Let's just say there's a whole lot in these books/CDs for true rock 'n roll fans to pour through, and if you wanted to know more than there is to know about Wire and hear as much as these guys are humanly able to put out well...don't say I didn't tell ya!
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Various Artists-RAW DEAL - THE RAW RECORDS COMPILATION CD-r burn (originally on Raw Records, England)

(I thought I reviewed this 'un for the blog once...) Longtime fave here once again brought to my attention by who else but Bill Shute! A collection of various cling-ons from the Raw Record label, this one exposed for many the under-the-underground punk rock groups of late-seventies England that somehow missed getting the kind of notoriety that the Sex Pistols and Clash did. Considering how rough and tumble the Raw Records label was that really was a more dissonant type of music they were dishing out for a "music listening world" where Nick Gilder was just a little too hard-edged and strong for their liking.

No Creation, Troggs or Downliners Sect here but that's no problem when it comes to high energy music that woulda made Detroit blush. The Users show up, once again making me feel down inna dumps that they didn't get the notoriety that was so deserved of them what with their MC5-styled onslaught passing as sound, chords and singing. The various other obscuros do pretty snat as well from the Acme Sewage Company to the Sick Things who were not related to any other Sick Things that might have been up and about at the time, and even the pre-Dexy's Midnight Runners Killjoys show up with one of those punkmitations that were going around, but somehow it still fits in with the rest of the barrage so sweetly...

Listen to this 1977 punk rock, then compare it to the stuff coming out in 1981, then 1985, then 1995... Worst case for the evolution theory that's ever come before my ears if I do say so myself!
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The Bang! Bros.-HARD ROCKS VOL. 21 LP (Feeding Tube Records, available via Forced Exposure)

If you (like me) were one of those guys who were just FASCINATED by the idea of sound being used for musical purposes (or not) other than in certain toned manners designed to please the ears of people who liked certain variances in their ideals of patterned sound... If you (like me) spent a good portion of your late-teen times combing through the local library for examples of "New Music" to take home only that meant a smattering of Cage, Xenakis and Stockhausen scratchathons and nothing else... If you (like me) still have a hankerin' for aleatory music and are catching up on years of neglect now that it is easier to find various sound explorations along this line thanks to the miracle of internet well...boy will an album like this come in mighty handy!
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Various Artists-THE BEST OF AFRS JUBILEE VOLUME 16, NO. 365 AND 363 CD-r burn (originally on RST Records, Austria)

Not really my cup of java at this point in time, but it sure beats the heck outta that whining bitch I happened to come upon while changing channels yesterday. Postwar radio for the guys stationed overseas, and while nothing on this really spins my top I also gotta say that none of it would make me wanna do the AWOL bit either. This is more in the Bill Shute vein ifyaknowaddamean...Count Basie, Billy Eckstine...sheesh Bill, I wish I coulda introduced you to my uncle because you two woulda had a LOTTA things to talk about!
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Kustom Kings-KUSTOM CITY USA CD-r burn (originally on Smash Records)

There must have been a few thou of these hot rod/surf/skateboard cash-in albums during the mid-sixties but this one is pretty on-target. A collection of various SoCal recording hotshots (including future Beach Boy Bruce Johnston) reach the same heights of pure pre-social consciousness teen living on the album which comes pretty close to Beach Boys territory at times but pulls back just when you think a lawsuit is coming. A cover of the Rip Chords classic "Hey Little Cobra" pops up which doesn't surprise me since the original was co-produced by Johnston. Music from the world I thought I was going to inherit when I hit my teenage years only, as Al Sharpton would have said, something went very very wrong.
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Various Artists-FIRST EVERYTHING WINTER PHANTOM CD-r burn (Bill Shute)

Good 'un here featuring nothing but boff jazz/blooze instrumentals that remind you of what these things used to sound like long before the metastasization of schmooze into the form. The Ed Blackwell/Dewey Redman tracks show a bit of the new thing into bop sound while Bud Shank and Bob Cooper are firmly entrenches in the fifties pre-avant explosion. Duke Pearson does well enough himself especially on "The Phantom" and Ramsey Lewis is....well, Ramsey Lewis ifyaknowaddamean... Pick of the litter (at least for me) was the World Saxophone Quartet's "My First Winter" which oozed neo-Third Stream without the bad stuff feelings outta me with an opening that actually reminded me of some late-forties San Kenton number whose title escapes me at the moment. Heck, Ray Charles even closes out the thing and does well, even though his "Rock House" is not the song Elvis used to do!
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Hey, do I have to keep pushing the fact that I have plenty of BLACK TO COMM back issues for sale, or do I have to bust your skull open? Mercy me, I do hope if is the former, if only for your sake!