Friday, July 29, 2016

SPECIAL GUEST REVIEW BY BILL SHUTE!!! HARDLY WORKING starring JERRY LEWIS!!!! (1981)

(EDITOR'S NOTE!-we [who am I kidding---"""""I"""""] at BLOG TO COMM are [am] glad to grace our [my] pixillated pages with the writings of none other than BILL SHUTE, the same Bill of INNER MYSTIQUE and Kendra Steiner Editions fame who out of the goodness of his heart decided to give this boffo [best of the year?] review to this blog 'stead of to some creep out there who most certainly doesn't deserve it! As you can guess we/I are/am totally gracious that he did just that because hey, we/I know good and punch-packing writing when it bops itself into our/my buttocks! Hope you enjoy this classic piece of film critique of a definitely non-Pauline Kaelesque nature just as much as we/I did putting it to type, editing the format, emboldening titles etc.!)

Forgetting for a moment the as-yet-unreleased THE DAY THE CLOWN CRIED, made circa 1972, HARDLY WORKING was Jerry Lewis’s first starring vehicle for almost ten years when it was released, his previous film being 1970’s WHICH WAY TO THE FRONT. During that period, though, Lewis was far from forgotten. His old movies played constantly on television, and he hosted the yearly Muscular Dystrophy telethon every Labor Day. He certainly had a devoted following, and I certainly considered myself a fan....although I did not take it to the level of a guy I worked with in the mid-70’s who owned one of the early video tape recorders and who recorded the entire MD telethon each year, and then would watch it over and over until the next one to get his fix of Jerry!

By the late 70’s, although Lewis was universally known, his days of starring in major films for major studios were over, so he sought to put together an independent “comeback” film, find financing, and get the film made. That film was HARDLY WORKING. It was shot in Florida in 1979 and into 1980. Supposedly, production came to a halt once or twice because the funds ran out. It was released in Europe in 1980 and did very well. This led 20th Century Fox to pick it up in 1981 for American distribution, but (unfortunately) with 20 minutes cut. (I had a friend from Austria in 1981 who had just moved to the US, and she had seen the full European version theatrically before coming here!)  I saw it with a packed house in Stillwater, Oklahoma, in 1981 and the crowd loved it, as did  I. After a draining work week, this was exactly the kind of entertainment that the average person in 1981 needed. The reviews were not good, but who expected them to be? What was important was that it was Lewis at his purest. It belonged on the same shelf as films such as THE BELLBOY and THE BIG MOUTH (yes, and THE NUTTY PROFESSOR too).

I recently re-watched my grey market DVD of HARDLY WORKING (it’s never been legitimately reissued on DVD, alas) and thought I’d share a few observations with you BTC readers.

The plot is essentially that Jerry, who is a clown for a small regional circus, loses his job when the bank forecloses on the circus and closes it down. He’s forced to go live with his sister and her jerk of a husband, and he gets a series of jobs where he keeps messing up until finally he gets a job at the post office which he’s able to keep for a while....and he finds romance. I won’t give away the ending.
 
Here are some observations about HARDLY WORKING.

When I originally saw the film, my first and immediate impression was that it looked like a regionally made film. Not just the Florida location shooting, but the amateurish room tone in the sound recording in a number of scenes, the use of real locations to avoid building sets, etc. It had the look of something made by William Grefe or Herschell Gordon Lewis....it looked like a slapstick comedy made by people who made southern drive-in films. Have you ever had the experience of watching a major star in some low-budget regional film or some straight-to-video feature? Henry Fonda in THE GREAT SMOKEY ROADBLOCK comes to mind or Tim Holt in Herschell Lewis’s THAT STUFF’LL KILL YA! There’s something off-putting about seeing someone you’re used to seeing in major studio productions put into a VERY different setting, and that’s the way Jerry Lewis appears in this Florida-helmed production.

Next, it plays like a series of Educational or Columbia comedy shorts, the kind Chris and I love and have championed for decades. This is PURE comedy. When you see a display of tires or a bottle of milk or a washing machine, you just KNOW it is going to be used for a slapstick set-up, and this film is all about slapstick set-ups. Each job Lewis gets becomes one or two set-ups, and then when he gets the job at the post office, it’s one set-up after another. Although there is a romantic sub-plot which takes up some screen-time later in the film, Lewis wisely never strays too far from the pratfalls.

In a two-reel comedy short, often times the two reels are only peripherally related to each other. Sometimes the entire first reel sets up the second, or the first and second reel  present different situations, united mostly by the buffoonery of the star. That’s what is going on here.

Speaking of comedy shorts, I’m reminded most of the comedy shorts that Harry Langdon and Buster Keaton made at Educational Pictures in the mid-30s. As with Lewis, they were no longer starring in their own features and were reduced to doing low-budget films where they re-worked some of their old routines and even got to work with some of their old colleagues, also now in reduced circumstances. Many of the routines in HARDLY WORKING are re-works of older Lewis set-pieces, and he brings back people like Susan Oliver, Harold J. Stone, Billy Barty, and Buddy Lester who’d worked with him in the glory days. HARDLY WORKING is not, however, really like the Columbia shorts of Keaton and Langdon, where they were shoehorned into the Columbia formula (funny as those shorts may be) and under the control of Jules White. Educational seemed to give Langdon and Keaton a free hand, as long as they stayed within budget. As Lewis directed this, co-wrote it, and has his stamp on every frame, it’s very much a Lewis creation, just in reduced circumstances...and on location in Florida.

The first thing many people mention about the film is the in-your-face product placement. Brad Kohler, who saw HARDLY WORKING at a drive-in when it came out, remembered little about the film when I asked him recently, but mentioned that at the time for him it was the first film where product placement called attention to itself. Hey, if that’s what it takes to get the film made, I’m all for it! Lewis clearly takes advantage of it for comic effect, essentially rubbing the audience’s nose in the name-brand products. For instance, the scene in the post office with the Dunkin Donuts on the boss’s desk, or the scene where after a long day, Lewis’s character wants a beer, and the Budweiser Clydesdales come waltzing around the corner and the musical score switches to a variation of the old “When you say Budweiser” commercial jingle that anyone in the audience would know. I wouldn’t be surprised if the US Postal Service was hit up for some kind of “promotional consideration” to help with the budget, in addition to providing the uniforms, postal jeeps, and mailrooms we see in the film’s middle section.

There’s also an interesting and jarring mix between the very realistic and the surreal in this film. Lewis clearly (as you can also notice in THE BELLBOY) had some painful employment experiences as a young person, and he’s working them out of his system in this film. That really made an impact on me when I saw the film originally----I remember thinking that I understood why European critics would praise Lewis for his skewering of capitalism or his depiction of the society of the spectacle or whatever. Anyone who has ever had a sadistic a-hole boss or worked a sh*tty job will know that Lewis has too, and he knows what it’s like. What’s odd though is that these sections of realism are mixed with surrealist flights such as the Goodyear blimp (product placement again!) sequences, or the rabbit invasion, or the Clydesdales coming out of the blue. Maybe this is some kind of comment on how a surreal imagination is one way to daydream and lose yourself while working a crappy job (it’s always worked for me!), or maybe Lewis is just the kind of man who’ll do ANYTHING for a laugh.. In any event, I feel that this mixture works, and worked for the audience I saw this with, who howled at every scene in the film.

With today’s jaded post-modern ironic stance, it’s refreshing to see the old-fashioned sentimentalism in this film. There are a number of almost tear-jerking sequences that show, once again, how well Lewis knows how to play an audience.

When this film was cut for American release, one thing was added: a short pre-credit montage of lightning-fast clips from Lewis’s earlier films, set to the rhythm of his old “typewriter” routine. This was a brilliant touch. Not only did it remind audiences of the day of Jerry’s comic greatness, it also reminded the children in the audience what a great funnyman this was and set the tone for the movie. My two year old grandson could watch this prologue and howl at it and KNOW what he was in for with the rest of the movie. When I saw HARDLY WORKING theatrically, the audience applauded wildly at the end of the montage (it ends with a segue into the clown character in the present-day plot, then fades, and then the credits begin)--in fact, some stood up and applauded during the pause after the montage and before the credits. There was still a lot of love for Jerry Lewis and his films when HW opened in 1981. The film did well on its US release, but Hollywood must have sensed that such success was a one-shot happening. When Lewis followed this up with another independently made pure visual comedy film----CRACKING UP (aka SMORGASBORD)----a few years later, a film that was more slickly made and even more purely physical comedy (and would appeal to any Lewis fan), it did not even get a US theatrical release (though again, it did well overseas). Lewis did not try again after that.CRACKING UP has such long physical comedy sequences, often with no dialogue, it seemed to be a homage to Jerry’s silent comedy heroes. Unfortunately, the silent film revival had not yet started in 1983, and one had to catch the film in the middle of the night on cable TV, and if you wanted a copy, you needed to tape it off the air at 3 a.m. (as I did).

Lewis still makes the news today in 2016. Every once in a while, you’ll hear about some controversy regarding some politically incorrect statement or joke Lewis makes in some backwater place he’s doing a show or overseas. As if anyone would expect (or want) him to do otherwise! And THE DAY THE CLOWN CRIED makes the news anytime ten more seconds of it are found. And surveys of showbiz history still show the clips of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis’s awkward “reunion” on a mid-70s MD telethon. Lewis is in that unfortunate area of show business where he is almost universally known, but his actual work is not that well known. While THE NUTTY PROFESSOR is well-known, largely through a horrible re-make with Eddie Murphy, how many people have been talking about THE BIG MOUTH or THE BELL BOY or THE PATSY or THE FAMILY JEWELS recently, outside of whatever small Lewis cult may exist on the internet? Unfortunately, not many....but then physical comedy never gets any respect. The late great Jim Varney wound up having his films going straight-to-video near the end of the run of his “Ernest” films. Larry The Cable Guy did a few hilarious films in a kind of redneck Bowery Boys vein, but those never gained much traction and he moved permanently to the greener pastures of live comedy shows and Pixar voice work. That’s the way it is...

We always hear about one group or the other talking about feeling unrepresented on the screen. For those of us who feel like OUR identities are best represented on screen by the clueless Shemp Howard or Larry Fine, or the grinning but out-of-it persona of Billy Benedict in a Bowery Boys movie (or Jerry Lewis), times are not good at the cinema. Whatever his flaws may be, I’m thankful that Jerry Lewis devoted his life to physical comedy. There’s a large body of work out there for future generations to enjoy....and HARDLY WORKING is a prime example. Of course, I’d love to have this get the Criterion treatment with the alternate release versions, commentary tracks, etc., but that’s unlikely to happen anytime soon.

I did get the chance once to talk briefly with one of the stars of this film, the wonderful Deanna Lund, who is his romantic interest in the film and  the daughter of his boss at the post office, the gruff and hilarious Harold J. Stone. Ms. Lund is well-known for her work in the cult TV show LAND OF THE GIANTS and has many film and television credits, including successful runs on daytime dramas such as ONE LIFE TO LIVE and GENERAL HOSPITAL. She was appearing as a guest on a local radio talk-show in southwest Virginia, where I was living at the time (mid-to-late 80s). I don’t remember now what prompted her appearance on the show....was she appearing on stage in the area? shooting a film in the area? had she written a book?.....but she was on there, and I called in and told her how much I’d enjoyed her in HARDLY WORKING. She was gracious and charming as ever...and thanked me and said that she liked the film and that she’d been given a good role and was grateful to Jerry for that. Unfortunately, her work with Lewis was not why they had her on that radio show, so the host quickly moved her on to another subject....and I was no longer on the air. Still, I’m glad I got to tell Ms. Lund how much I enjoyed her in the film. If I could ever meet Jerry Lewis, I’d like to tell him how much I like it too. Lewis has kind of written it off in the past, saying that he was ill during its making and was in the midst of many difficult life situations at the time (he’d had to declare bankruptcy during this period) and was thus somewhat distracted. Perhaps, but Lewis is an old-fashioned professional. He could get the news that a family member died and still go out on stage and knock ‘em dead and no one would know anything was amiss. That’s the generation of performer Jerry Lewis was from. We will not see his kind again, unfortunately....

Wednesday, July 27, 2016


FANZINE (AND I MEAN IT!) REVIEW! VULCHER #1!

THE MODERN DAY FANZINE REFUSES TO DIE! I think Edgard Varese once said that after thumbing through a copy of ZAPPAFAN, but to be honest and upfront about it yeah, the entire fanzine concept does live on even in a day an age when it has been pretty much obliterated by the immediacy of internet and virtual blobs like myself being able to put our putrid opinions to "print" within the course of a mere click.

But for those of us who spent our formative years gobbling up all of the 'zineage that we could afford if only because doing so gave us an inside seat on the under-the-underground (and besides it was sure great not having to comb through a standard rock magazine to find that one brief mention of the Velvet Underground in an ocean of Christopher Cross), seeing an honest-to-goodness fanzine in our midst is certainly cause for celebration.

VULCHER borrows from all of the great rock 'n roll fanzines of the seventies and eighties which figures considering how some of the greats of the form have put their heart, soul and perhaps a few sinews into this initial effort (initial unless you count that VULCHER insert that popped up in a copy of [I believe] THE WIUS TIPSHEET that is). This shebang was put together by none other'n the backbone of not only a slew of seventies-era fanzines but the recently-reunited Gizmos, mainly Eddie Flowers and Kenne Highland, and if you dug their various seventies and eighties rockscreeding mania then I'm sure you'll have more'n just a passing passion for this particular publication.

You probably wouldn't have thought that the original under-the-underground rock flame re. the Gizmos and various other DIY cranker-outers would still be "relevant" (hippie word) a good forty years later but it sure is and each and every word pulsating from these pages is proof enough that the high energy express is still roaring away even if the engineers are now eligible for senior discounts and have green teeth. Really, if your tastes in reading veer closer to TEENAGE WASTELAND GAZETTE and NIX ON PIX than they do say, SALON then hey this is one magazine that'll keep you from slashin' the throat at least for a short while.

Speaking of TEENAGE WASTELAND GAZETTEAdny Shernoff is not in these pages, And speaking of NIX ON PIX neither is Peter Tomlinson. And etc. of CAN'T BUY A THRILL's Russell Desmond. Neither are Richard Meltzer or Lester Bangs, though I wouldn't have expected anything from the latter. However, Jymn Parrett of DENIM DELINQUENT is (with a review of the Alice Cooper live '69 LP reish) as is John Bialas (BOOGIE) on Kitty Carlisle (who I thought looked tres sexy during her v. early Francaise days), Lindsay Hutton (THE NEXT BIG THING) on  Mowgil and the Donuts and yeah I don't know who they are either!, and of course Kenne Highland, Rick Coffee and Eddie Flowers on a whole SLEW of things...heck, it's THEIR magazine, they put up the moolah for it and they can do whatever they want!

(...an I do mean it, because like, surprises ABOUND! Take Mr. Flowers' article on Heavy Mother, a local [talkin' the days of Flowers' youth in Alabama] biker band the child prodigy first wrote about in the pages of the aforementioned TWG back when he was like a mere twelve or so. For years I thought this band had sprung from the fertile mind of Flowers...y'know, like they were just made up 'n all just to impress Shernoff enough to publish the entire gag, but it turns out that these guys were FOR REAL!!!! They even put out their own single too, and like if I hadn't read this article I woulda thought until doomsday that it was just a gag, and pretty funny one at that!!!!)

As far as eighties-era fanscrawlers go Byron Coley (thee ultimate rockscriber of that decade and beyond) appears as does Tim Hinely (on the Gibson Brothers!),  Gary Pig Gold (maybe he should be in the seventies division but eh!), Bruce Mowat on an email interview with Kitten Natividad (she of the big suckems) that is bound to never be, and David Laing on Daddy Cool pop up. Even some newer names from the likes of Sir Plastic Crimewave as well as some oldsters not necessarily known for their writing skills like Craig Bell  and his wife show up! That's a pretty good amalgamation of visual crunch ya got, and if you like I still yearn for the eternal throb of seventies bare-wired intensity put into print well man, you better latch onto this and do so with pride in your chest like a robin with a breastfulla worms as Don Van Vliet might have put it!

Subject matter includes, besides the previously mentioned enticers,  krautrock, punk rock top 100, Sonny Vincent, Simply Saucer, Zero Boys, Louie Louie (the group!) and Werewheels. Top that off with loads of crazy pix, comix, drawings, photos and little visual surprises (panels taken from PEANUTS, NANCY, KRAZY KAT and a Tijuana Bible put to perfect lysergic use) and you gotchaself a pretty hot fanzine for the ages there bub! Definitely one that will fit snugly within not only the rest of your 'zine output, but within your music addled psyche so like, get it and pronto! 

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Two biggies in the under-the-underground passed on this week and since maybe you didn't know why not find out from a creep like me. Warhol photog and Lou Reed lover Billy Name being one, he best known for doing the snaps for the cover of the third Velvet Underground LP if anything to most of you reg'lar BLOG TO COMM readers. The other being none other'n  Alan Suicide Vega, the vocal half of the infamous punk music mass duo who said about as much about the gritty epicenter of o-mind living in En Why See as the Velvets and all of those no wave groups that seemed so "last word in rock" back then. True a lotta the music that the likes of Vega as well as all of the "save-the-world" bands of the previous five or so years took a deep nosedive once the reality of the eighties set in, but at the time Suicide's better half and his various projects were pretty much the EPITOME of what New York street music was supposed to aspire to. And really, I am still kinda shocked to hear that the man actually shaved an entire decade off his life and was much older'n any of us woulda even thunk, he seeming like the perennial teenage punk to me 'n all!
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Had another duff week which I hope doesn't start to be a trend around here. Between the duffness I managed to get some listening in and concocted up the following writeups of platters that, shall I say, are relatively new to my ears if not listening parameters (but then again, I get the feeling that I'VE HEARD IT ALL BEFORE...right!). We all know who to thank for these freebees, eh???


Alfred 23 Harth-KEPLER 452b Edition CD-r (Kendra Steiner Edition)

Gonna be tough writing about this latest in the loooooong line of KSE releases without mentioning various post-Cagean or AACM ref. pts. which I always seem to rely on when dealing with tough guy music like this.
There are 29 of these tracks (izzit hokay to bring up Lol Coxhill?) that range from cheap-o cassette sound horn workouts to total electronic scrunch 'n crunch, and for familiar followers of the form I guess they all fit in nice 'n snug-like. I mean, what are you expecting from KSE anyway...Jan Garber tributes??? (Howzbout Roscoe Mitchell???)  Whatever the case may be, if you're the kinda caga who is immersed into the atonal soundscapading set and loves music for the plain sound atonalism of it, you must be familiar with Harth already, eh? (Maybe Marcel Duchamp does figure in somewhere...)
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I AM BILLY CHILDISH 2 Cd-r set (originally on Sub Pop)

Who else but Paul McGarry can sit through fifty straight Billy Childish tracks and not frown? ME that's who, and this collection of various Childish and related platters really had me up and hoppin' like nothin' since the days when I was a kid and I used to get these brain rushes of pure ooze joy that had me doin' cartwheels inna bedroom until I'd bump into something and get bruised up to no end! From the early-sixties trash aesthetics of the Milkshakes to the neo-Kinksian blooze chooze of thee Mighty Caesars 'n Headcoats (not to mention the Del Monas who I suspect were Childish's "feminine" side) this collection covers a good hunk if not THE entire Billy Childish oeuvre and there's nary a snooze to be found within. A good hunk of primitive rock 'n roll that really knocks me for that ol' proverbial loop. I guess the late-eighties weren't as bad as I remember 'em to be, though I'm sure that a retro spin of Harm Farm'll get all of those evil thoughts just rushin' back into my mind!
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Bob McFadden-FAST FAST FAST RELIEF FOR TV COMMERCIALS CD-r burn (originally on Audio Fidelity)

Hoo boy. This record's got spoofs of various sixties tee-vee commercials that are so limp that they would have been rejected by even THE CAROL BURNETT SHOW let alone THE GLEN CAMPBELL GOODTIME HOUR. I guess some people might have found these brief vignettes rather funny, and maybe some of them are in a sixties MAD magazine sort of way, but there is none of the gotcha haw haw funniness to these that there might have been to some of the other humor-related spuzz that was coming out around the same time. Sheesh, I can't even imagine the usual college pseudointellectual types who used to act all hip with their PLAYBOY mags and pipes coming off worse than Robbie Douglas on a mid-sixties episode of MY THREE SONS liking this swill! Maybe McFadden's SONGS MY MUMMY TAUGHT US platter on Brunswick was better, but it ain't like I'm that anxious to find out!
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Roy Loney-FAST AND LOOSE CD-r burn (originally on Double Dare)

A lotta our seventies fave rockers were making turdsville platters once the eighties rolled around, but at least Roy Loney bucked the trend with this particular spinner. Yeah it ain't no FLAMINGO, but FAST AND LOOSE is still a boffo selection of rockers done in that fifties tradition yet pepped up quite a bit in order to snuggle closely into that whole "new wave" thing that was still eking money outta confused college kids at the time. Kinda slick in spots but still powerful, FAST AND LOOSE takes the rockabilly roots of Loney and extrapolates on 'em with yet another twennysome years of high energy expertise that makes this 'un quite passable. There's a cover of "Teenage Head" along with one or two other old tymey faves, and the originals are hotcha too which makes me wonder what the big deal about Cyril Jordan kicking him outta the Groovies was in the first place! James Taylor wouldn't sing any of these songs!
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Roy Loney and the Phantom Movers-ACTION SHOTS CD-r burn (originally on Marilyn)

Wunna why Paul McGarry sent me this 'un because he shoulda knowed that I already had a real life copy of this and in fact reviewed it in some long-gone crudzine of mine ages back. I guess he wanted to remind me of just what a good thumper this live disc featuring the same guy from the above review was. And it is a wild rocker that you just won't hear anymore from just about anybody because well, like it's "old fashioned" 'n all.

But it still holds up more than one of Adrienne Barbeau's old bras, and as far as live platters go ACTION SHOTS is a real killer featuring Roy Loney going through a buncha old Flamin' Groovies and newer solo-era numbers that don't get sogged down like Jean La Foot's old FOOTSIES cereal did in an old Cap'n Crunch commercial. I know that most of you reg'lar BLOG TO COMM readers have been in on the Groovies game for quite some time, but if you missed on this little nugget you really don't have the whole scope in mind.

Probably available for a mere pittance these days, and if you have any good excuses not to get it let me know so I can adapt a few of 'em to try and get out of that experimental pile surgery I have unfortunately scheduled for next week.
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Various Artists-ELECTRIC MONSTER ROCK SHOW CD-r burn (originally on Liberty, Germany)

So many of these rock samplers have proliferated the teenbo buying market for a good portion of the late-sixties to mid-seventies that there was nary a flea market in the years afterwards where a batch of these usually budget-priced platters were not available in some stack snuggled between WEST SIDE STORY soundtracks.

This particular United Artists collection is pretty much typical of what these collections had in store, from Amerigan hippie mewls like Canned Heat to English country downhome protopub (Brinsley Schwarz) and even some krautrock tossed in for good underground measure since this was sold in Germany after all. The material in between wasn't bad either, and in fact I thought the numbers from Krokodil and Improved Sound Ltd. had a certain entertaining zing to 'em I wouldn't have expected from such under-the-radar acts. And heck, I finally get to hear a track from that perennial import bin stuffer otherwise known as the Jean-Luc Ponty all-Zappa album which was one of the few early MOI-era Zappa-related platters I didn't pick up during my Motherhood.

Sheesh, it's sure nice to know that German kids were just as music-starved cheapskates who hadda get their music nice 'n cheap just like us Amerigans!
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Destruction Unit-LIVE IN SAN FRANCISCO CD-r burn (originally on Castle Face)

Hard industrial crunch might not be your cup of pee, but I find the experience exhilarating on more than a few occasions. This reminds me of a number of the noisier rock act that came outta the mid-eighties under-the-underground who spread their sound via the long-mocked (and in some ways deservedly so) "cassette culture" idiom complete with those Hawkwind-inspired psychedelic warrior touches that I'm sure perked up more than a few adolescent hipster wannabes at the time. As usual this is nothing that I'd wanna immerse myself in like I do various neo-seventies soundscapades available these day, but I get the feeling that you just might want to do that with Destruction Unit and frankly, who can blame you?
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Various Artists-SELECTIONS FROM AIR RECORDS (Florida) CD-r burn

Most of this is what I would call "swinging country"..."country rock" might be a better term although when I hear that I keep being reminded of seventies shag-jacket musical acts consisting of bearded gents and women who look as if they might need an immediate introduction to the Massengill line of feminine daintiness products. Fortunately these very-late-fifties and early-sixties recordings don't reflect the hippification of country or whatever it was that happened in the seventies, but straightforward rockers with enough country twang to 'em that just might have soothed the souls of old timers who just couldn't cozy up to the use of the term "rock 'n roll" in these songs' lyrics. Personal fave of the bunch just has to be two sides of the Hasil Adkins classic single "Chicken Walk"/"She's Mine" which continues to hold up after fifty-four year a whole lot better than Lady Caga has in five.
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Various Artists-PAUPER ANTHONY KYND KIT CD-r burn (Bill Shute)

The appearance of a 1959 Studebaker Lark (a vehicle that seems to represent the zeitgeist of my turdler days more'n any other) prompted me to snatch this spinner out of the pile, and for once I'm glad that my inner gyroscope was spinnin' in the correct direction for once! This 'un's got a slew of strong tracks that keep you movin' in the way Ex Lax intended what with a pretty strong selection of garage band thumpers (including a tippy top notch "Louie Louie" swipe by Mark Markham and the Jesters called "Marlboro Country"!), two teenage-appeal tracks (including a cover of Bobby Freeman's "Do The Swim") from big band legend Ray Anthony (!!) and even a jazzed up Irish jig thing from East of Eden which doesn't come off all PBS on ya. Heck, there are even two songs inna row entitled "Mary Jane" which are about as thinly-veiled drug double entendre as you can get!!! Oddly enough, my personal fave just happens to be these two tracks from a group called DV8 who do the early-eighties indie-released single bit a whole lot better'n other acts of the time sure could! Kinda sound like some of the Cleveland underground bands circa the same time with a tad bit of El Lay thrown in...too bad acts like these fell by the wayside in the rush to get to the latest Red Rockers album.

Friday, July 22, 2016

SPECIAL REPORT FROM BRAD KOHLER! JOHNNY AND THE HALOS LIVE AT THE ST. JOSEPH CHURCH FESTIVAL!

There are no words to describe my jag-u-ar ride, but let me describe a bit of the St. Joe festival for you. Johnny and the Halos had been around for decades, a low rent Sha Na Na, except they focus more on the doo wop scheme of things. Doo wop made huge inroads in Pittsburgh, and my old man can tell you about trying to find the perfect spot in the high school staircase to get just the right acoustics to practice the hits of the day with his pals. (EDITOR'S NOTE--don't let Brad's dad fool you, he was trying to find the perfect spot under the staircase to look up girls' dresses!) Johnny and the gang gave up the leather jackets some time back since they are all so overweight they'd sweat too much on stage, but they still comb whatever hair hey have left into a ducktail. They flirt with the post-menopausal women between songs and make jokes about how times have changed while throwing in references to long gone Pittsburgh icons.

Chipped ham is still around though, and it will always be worshiped as much as anything inside old St. Joe's. In a courtyard outside is a small statue of the Virgin Mary. I pass it on my way to work, and at that early hour there is no one around. Pilgrims leave coins at the base of the statue after mass, and I gather them up and use them to buy fruit pies when I am on a break at work. I think of Mike Hudson reciting "Oh Mary, conceived without sin..." from some prayer of my youth on the Styrenes' WE CARE SO YOU DON'T HAVE TO LP.

My favorite game at the festival is the dice wheel. The Catholic Church has a long list of "no no's" but apparently letting an eleven-year-old gamble is OK as long as it benefits their coffers. I used to get a great charge elbowing in amongst the older players, dropping my quarter on the number I'd chosen and waiting for the bored volunteer to listlessly spin the wheel. Every year you'd be up a little, then down a little, then you'd lose it all. A very sad outcome, because that meant I had no money for the latest issue of WHERE MONSTERS DWELL. And I knew that one day the scantily clad buxom woman on the front cover would actually appear in the feature story inside.

In the rectory of the church they serve wine and beer, and Father Flanagan would always make an appearance and ask for some "fruit juice" which of course was a not-so-subtle reference for wine, and he'd wink at the men getting a break from their wives down there so they'd get that father was just a regular guy who liked a drink. They'd all laugh and yell "How you doin' Father?" too loudly. Actually I don't know if that actually happened but I wrote that exact account in a short piece of fiction because it seemed like it would have to happen.

All of the food is pricey but usually just this side of fantastic, secret recipes jealously guarded for generations and all.

Groups of teenagers walk around staring at their phones. I wonder if there is an app that lets you play with virtual gasoline and set GI Joes on fire in the driveway when your parents are gone like Mark Reiser and I did when we were in Junior High long before there were phones to stare at. Once we made an eight millimeter home movie where we sacrificed his cute cousin Karen on a satanic altar which was an end table from the living room with the doilies removed. Mark's mother came home from working at the Jenny Lee bakery after we were done and had returned the Heinz ketchup (blood) to the refrigerator. She asked us what we had done while she was gone and Mark said the dog had farted so much we passed out. At the bakery the women wore all white uniforms like they were midwifing the birth of doughnuts. Mark's mother was the only one of my friends' mothers who bought Welsh Rarebit frozen entrees which seemed as exotic to me as having caribou in the freezer. She is in a nursing home now and so cannot attend the St. Joe festival but I think she was a Protestant anyway. Most blondes are. 

Thursday, July 21, 2016

MOOM PITCHER REVIEW! ADVENTURER OF TORTUGA STARRING RIK BATTAGLIA AND GUY MADISON (1965)

Yup, that's Wild Bill Hiccup himself Guy Madison looking more like some snooty kid you went to school with all grown up and sporting a bad toupee playing a corrupt Spanish governor trying to get hold of a vast Indian treasure somewhere in the New World. Rik Battaglia's Pedro, the good guy pirate who's game is to marry rich gals and rob 'em and the wedding party blind before the magic words are spoken. And Aryan Ingebord Schoner plays the half-breed princess queen who is in charge of the humongous booty (talking treasure, not hindquarters) that both Madison and Battaglia would love to get their hands on (hindquarters included), In between the plot Madison and Battaglia are trying to get rid of each other via some pretty hotcha fight scenes, including one where Madison is whipping a chained up Battaglia who manages to get the whip outta Madison's mitts and does some pretty convincing flagellating himself!

Actually this isn't a bad piece of film as fun excursion what with its straightforward plot and good ol' adventuresome nature custom made for the Saturday Afternoon Barbershop Kids crowd. Battaglia is fantastic as the heroic lead and Madison, forever etched as a wild west good guy in my mind, surprises as the heavy. And true the moom may get bogged down here 'n there but right when you're ready to get up to make a processed turkey meat sandwich things pick up and there's a wild brawl to keep you glued if only for a few more minutes. If you're looking for some moom pitcher to watch in the sanctity of your own suburban ranch house that sorta fits the time and the mood of when said house was built, you couldn't find a better film than ADVENTURER OF TORTUGA, unless you happen to get hold of the entire run of MR. NOVAK on DVD or something...

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Hoo boy wotta week """""I""""" had! Ya don't wanna know about it, so why don't we just get to the fun portion of this week's post and skip the gosh-dang of it all...


Circulation-TANK TRACKS CD (Shadok, Germany)

S'funny, but when I first heard this 'un a decade or ten back I didn't exactly cozy up to Circulation's teenage attempts at emulating the biggies. Or so I remember, and my review ot the original Shadoks reissue in a now-ancient issue of my crudzine might prove different. However, listening to these English stoolboy stompers in the here and now just reminded me of how unexpectedly good some of these outta-the-way teenage combos could have gotten. Living-room quality recording exemplifies the rawness of the sound which, although definitely in the classic garage band idiom, borrows plenty from not only then-current English underground blues stylings but various Amerigan sources straight outta the NUGGETS book of local band primitive aesthetics. Nothing over-the-top, but I found it rather enjoyable and wouldn't mind hearing more from these sorta outta-the-way teenage group types of the day.
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STEVE WINWOOD AND FRIENDS CD-r burn (originally on Springboard)

Like most of you record shop frequenters of the seventies I certainly do remember those Springboard albums with titles like ERIC CLAPTON AND THE YARDBIRDS and JEFF BECK AND THE YARDBIRDS popping up in the budget bins of my youth. However, although they were cheapo enough for a depression-era wages kid like me it wasn't like I was interested in getting hold of any of 'em. Perhaps it was because I wasn't quite ready to immerse myself into da blooze, or maybe I was just bein' dang cheap about it all. Maybe the former but most certainly the latter. Well this particular platter got burned for me by none other'n Bill Shute and y'know, those memories of mid-teen record bin bonanzas just came rushin' back to me faster'n Johnny Quick upon mere viewin' the album cover not to mention the Springboard logo..kinda makes me wanna look for the nearest what used to be a record shop and try to osmose all of those forty-plus-year record throb thrills long gone which come to think of it I have done on certain lonely days..

Still don't know how Springboard got away with releasing alla these big name rarities unless they had financial holdings in Sicily ifyaknowaddamean, but this particular platter woulda been a nice introduction to English (and other) blues had I the opportunity to give this 'un a lissen to way back when. Early Winwood doing his take on the likes of Willie Dixon ain't as bad as a Traffic-hater (or at least Traffic-indifferenter) such as myself would have thought, while the Beck and Yardbirds stuff is pretty top notch even if the Sonny Boy Williamson team up usually emits yawns from certain quarters. And is that Baker/Bruce track "Early in the Morning" from a Graham Bond Organisation live tape by any chance? British blues that could be picked up for mere shekels at one time, though nowadays it's even easier to get hold of considering all of the internet sources there just MUST be out there.
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Sounds Orchestral-WORDS CD-r burn (originally on Pye, England)

Syrupy string slop don't do anything for me on this collection of late-sixties hits done up so sweetly that I've heard that various elevators personally rejected this music for being too mundane. Sure I can get some pre-teen nostalgic juice out of Sounds Orchestral's version of  that bubbly gum classic "Simon Says" but the rest...sheesh, all these numbers do is remind me of what a miserable time I had when I was eight and hadda take a whole lotta venom from my classmates, teachers, neighborhood kids, parents, relatives... Sheesh Bill, you really dredged up a whole lotta bad memories with this one and just for that you're not gonna get any autographed copies of my failed crudzine I can't give away for Christmas!
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Frank Foster-SOUL OUTING CD-r burn (originally on Prestige)

Nice li'l attempt to merge the cool jazz thing with the soul movement that was plugging up a whole load of transistor speakers back during the days when Top 40 sorta meant something to your average runna da mill suburban slob. Good band (including bassist Richard Davis) backing Foster on a buncha tracks that do have that urban teen sound to 'em even though they're firmly rooted in a bop-style...I'll betcha that some of the brains at Prestige pondered the thought of releasing a track or two as a single hoping it might crash the market, but then again you know these things never did chart no matter how good they may have been. A real outta nowhere surprise that helped calm me down after a particularly grueling day at the reality mines.
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Joe Greene-ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK FROM ALBERT ZUGSMITH'S ON HER BED OF ROSES CD-r burn (originally on Mira)

These soundtrack albums don't always grab me even if the moom was hokay, and although I never did see ON HER BED OF ROSES (which I understand should have been titled KRAFT-EBBING THEATER) I gotta say that the soundtrack to this '66 durty film was...shall I say..."eh"?!?!?! Standard mid-sixties spooky zoom-bah jazzoid sounds from a guy who I suspect is not the "Mean" Joe Greene of seventies football fame, and hardly anything here conjures up any special juice flows within my tortured soul the way Herrmann could. Could have come straight from an episode of THE FELONY SQUAD for all I care. Guess this music really needed the on-screen action to make any real sorta impact in your sexually-saturated mind, let alone mine.
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Gene Vincent-TWIST CRAZY TIMES CD-r burn (originally on Capitol)

Y'know, there was once a time in my life when the Gene Vincent name seemed like some obscure blast from a well-hidden past that I just hadda know about! Like Link Wray and (even to an extent ) Buddy Holly, Vincent came off to this adolescent record scrambler like some long-forgotten recording act that was just beggin' for me to rediscover. This '60 album woulda been a good place for me to start age elevem had one just happ'd to pop up in a flea market bin...Vincent was still cooking pretty hot and every track on this platter is what I would call boffo early-sixties rock in an era where it perhaps was starting to wane (dig the title---dunno if you could twist to anything here unless you were one of those crazy little kids on CANDID CAMERA), and it's sure good knowing that some of the original rock 'n roll spirit lived on in an era when top 40 frankly was gettin' kinda sappy in spots. But hey, don't YOU think that the song "Why Don't You People Learn How To Drive" is pretty creepy considering what was to happen to him and Eddie Cochran within the span of a very short time????
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Warren William in STRANGE WILLS radio show CD-r burn

Here's a radio series I never heard of, dealing with last wills, testaments, and everything that goes along with them. Strange subject eh, but if the folks at JOHNNY DOLLAR could make insurance investigation look high class then the writers for this 'un could do so as well. Warren William is pretty snat as O'Connell the will lawyer or whatever they call 'em, and the stories aren't half bad even if at times they tend to border on the ridiculous. Like in the one where a father disinherits his son for swiping his latest gash away, dies, and then the son goes nuts to the point where he has to be hospitalized for hearing daddy laughing his ass off from the grave. The solution??? O'Connell arranges for son's failed radio show to be performed, son hears it and after collapsing midway through comes back to the living with the secure knowledge that his flop radio series is a fluke hit! Kinda reminds me of that old SUPERBOY story where some guy was in a coma for twenty years and the residents of Smallville do their best to make things exactly as they were when the sop first slipped into his deep sleep! Unreal but fun, and by the way when was the last time you saw anything that was being touted on AOL as real anyway???
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PREMIUM CUTS-SYLVESTER CD-r burn (originally on Celeste Vivid Sound, Japan)

If any of you are gonna make a late-sixties European spy or crime film you might wanna use these sound library recordings for some fast car chase or psychedelic discotheque scene. Lotsa jazzy organ and vibes give off that continental feeling, and while listening to the flute intermingle with the piano you can just imagine some scene where the hero is driving off with his galpal down the Champs De Whateveritscalled, or maybe even one of yer own fave late-sixties television public service announcements with this music playing in the background as some announcer warns of the perils of reckless driving or puffing cigarettes. Even better, play some of this in your bachelor pad to get some nice sweetie in the mood. Real martini-mingling music ya got here, pal!
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Various Artists-DOLORES RHYTHM CROSSING CD-r burn (Bill Shute)

Weirdo offering in a series that really stretches the definition of the term. Most of this is sixties-styled e-zy listening makeout moozik that makes me think I'm three-years-old again and waiting for my mom to buy something (hopefully a toy for me!) in a department store that was playing the old Stereo 99 strings and glop that sounds so good in retrospect o'er the loudspeaker.

The slightly newer tracks from the likes of  Edward Shahapin and others ("Going Out of My Head", "Classical Gas") conjure up late-single digits memories of waiting for cyster to get her butt outta the dress shop so I can go 'n buy some Matchbox car to drive around the bathtub that passes for an imaginary lake in my kiddoid mind (submarines banned for safety purposes). Still others like the Rocky Mount Instruments' version of "Batman" come off like a commercial cash-in of the strangest type.

Other'n the grown up sounds for the anti-rock 'n roll adults out there Bill slapped on some bizart avant from the likes of Jon Gressel (a computer-generated piece that sounds like a de-tuned piano to me) and Lowell Cross's tape mangipulations, and the pseudo-phony intellectual 18-year-old in me kinda digs 'em to the point of wanting to don the beret and eat them stale doritos with the rest of the starving art colonists out there. Final question...who's idea to have Ravi Chancre record the theme from the Cliff Robertson psychoflipout vehicle CHARLY anyway? Shows that even supposedly altruistic artists can do sappoid things when ya dangle a few dinero in front of their noses.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

BOOK REVIEW! ARCHIE---PROM PRANKS AND OTHER STORIES by Bob Montana (Dark Horse Press, 2015)

Since it looks as if there ain't gonna be any Bob Montana-era ARCHIE newspaper collections for quite awhile, I thought I'd dish out some rare lucre for this book. After all, I can't go for too long a time between comic strip fixes, and since this one features nada but early ARCHIE comic book adventures, most of 'em written and drawn by Montana and of course pointing the way towards the ARCHIE of comic strips fame, it was like I had little choice. It just goes to show you what kinda comic book crazoid I remain even after all of these years, or just how hard up I am for some "new" olde tymey reading material.

It's quite a ripoff in many respects, since many of these stories have been re-re-reprinted in a variety of ARCHIE collections these past fortysome years. Of course this 'un starts off with the debut saga back when the main characters were twelve-years-old and naturally contains the one where Veronica makes her first appearance etc. and so forth, and frankly if you've seen any of these recently you might wanna wait a few years before reading 'em again. True they might be nice li'l sagas that are historically important to the comic shapes of things, but they ain't anything like those quick witted and wonderfully bad gag comics that Montana slapped onto the funny page for twenty nine years!

Fortunately the stories are presented in chronological order so thankfully a few that haven't gotten the royal reprint treatment before do show up. A number of proto-Mr. Weatherbees who look nothing like the well-known rountundus are here as is the first ever appearance of Miss Grundy (not a mere teacher but the principal---who sez continuity matters?) who is even creepier than the one we've known for years dressed like a Civil War old maid in blonde curls and extremely decrepit skin who gives The Old Witch a run for the moolah looks wise! If you're a stickler for accuracy you might go nuts reading these but hey, I dig em goofs, gaffes and all.

The artwork had yet to mature and is comparatively shaky next to the strips you and I are more familiar with (I date the official classic ARCHIE look as having appeared during the autumn of 1947) and Betty has yet to develop that otherworldly charm that only Bob Montana could deliver on, but Veronica looks pretty va-VOOM especially in a couple of panels where she is either roasting under a hot lamp or taking a bath. Nice mammary and hot thigh action here, and although no bullseyes or bellybuttons can be seen the mere suggestion of her au naturel woulda been enough to get Junior headed for the lavvy and ya better put a chair up against that door cuz you know li'l brother never knocks!

The stories are pretty good even if the ARCHIE theme had yet to be fully developed, some good enough that they were even re-used in the early comic strip days with the proper changes and updates needed for such endeavors. And although nothing here can touch the classic newspaper strip in style or even gags it's still much better'n what the comic became once it catered more to its target audience of li'l girls 'stead of comic book creeps like myself who read just about EVERYTHING onna stand! (But then again, if it weren't for us sprouting adolescent type o' guys why would they've slapped alla those Betty and Veronica in bikinis drawings onna front cover inna first place???)

When you've sated your inner suburban slob with alla the other comic book gunk I've mentioned on this blog try some of this for an even more aged look at one of the things that kept comic kids yukkin' it up for years on end. Don't worry, you're not the ONLY fifty-plus stunted mental growth menial still wowed out by comic strips and books that made up your early existence, and I for one can attest to that!

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Nice week I had there. Gotta thank Bill Shute for that since was he who supplied most of this week's freebee material (one from Paul McGarry who I hope doesn't get violent over the fact), and if weren't for Bill I'd have to dish out more hard-begged moolah to buy albums that I really didn't wanna get inna first place but got anyway because I was that hard up! Gotta say that it sure is a nice selection of spinners that I sat through these lonely summer nights, and although I should be out there looking for interesting sounds to snatch up for my own personal enrichment (and yours you little remoras you!) its sure nice to have these Bill burns around because well...they sure help me keep my psychosocial equilibrium up a lot more'n Coke 'n aspirin ever did.
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Hokay, I found this bitta crude animation rather high-larious especially in these glee-free super-serious days so I figured why not pass it around like them legendary 99 bottles of beer! (An' hey, I never knew that the words "assault", "amounts", "existence" and "escalates" were spelled "assult", "ammounts", "existance" and "escilates" in England!) Thankfully bad taste (if socially conscious) humor lives even to this day, and if you happen to think it offensive, distorted and insulting to your own personal set o' values well now you know how """""I""""" feel every time I flick the tee-vee on! Or in other words...SO HOWD'JA LIKE THEM APPLES???


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Getting that bit of stellar amination outta the way, here are this week's fave raves. Loadsa goodies here with hardly a feh feh to be seen. Glad I made it through this one...hope the next will be just as star spangled spectacular (but I kinda doubt it)!


Ngozi Family-DAY OF JUDGEMENT CD (Now Again, Available via Forced Exposure)

Sheesh, but did I just hear the African Continent's answer to the Stooges?

For those who believe that heavy metal before "heavy metal (TM)" was a way more exciting affair than much of the moozik that got tagged within the eventually narrow-minded genre this might be thee album for you. Mid-seventies recordings from the recently-exhumed (or so I would think) "Zamrock" scene courtesy local hero Paul Ngozi, who with his band so keenly named after him certainly does have that primitive hard riff-drool quotient that would give Mike Saunders a cerebral hemorrhage he'd most certainly enjoy. And really, who would have ever THUNK that there would have been a wildly thriving rock scene on the continent let alone one that was so hard-rock keen that such a garage artyfact as this would have come out in the first place!

Solid surprises abound, like on the Black Sabbath cop "Kumanda Kwa Bambo Wanga" (which ends in a distorted guitar solo akin to "I Wanna Be Your Dog") or "Tikondane" what with its "What Goes On"-styled rhythm guitar (and that overfuzzed lead again!) For a change Ngozi goes Jagger on the early-seventies styled "Let Me Know" which I am kinda surprised ol' Mick himself didn't swipe for his own, and if this had gotten out more than it did he most certainly would have.

Naturally the local African folk influences mix with the Anglo Ameriganisms that made up the rock slop of the era, and the results are just about as colloquial as the Seeds were to El Lay and the Stooges to Detroit. It also has the Mid Amerigan trash aesthetic down about as pat as Umela Hmota or Les Rallizes Denudes to the point where you can snuggle this 'un up against your Flamin' Groovies and Ramones records and nobody'll ever notice! (True I might have said that about Zambian rockers the Peace a month or so back, but the sentiments really do carry over.)

Whenever I see these overseas exhumations being touted as the best thing since sliced bakers that geiger counter in my head usually starts clicking away like mad! But for once I am glad I dished out some hard-begged for this particular spinner which should prove that the well of sixties/seventies underground rock energy certainly hasn't gone dry yet. Comes in a neat hard-covered book containing the whole Ngozi story and, as usual, I am left thirsting for more of these wild African acts that might really be the last frontier (Dr. Footswitch perhaps?).
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The Fleshtones featuring Lenny Kaye-BROOKLYN SOUND SOLUTION CD (Yep Roc)

Inneresting idea teaming up the long-lived Fleshtones with rock scribe and Patti Smith guitarist Kaye, and (to be so pleasantly redundant about it) the results are pretty hotcha if I do say so myself. There was a time when I pegged the 'tones as a buncha new unto gnu wave sellouts, but this platter washes away all previous fears I might have had what with the nice and on-target garage-y rock this group continues to spew out after forty years! Kaye's particular playing (just above garage yet not quite polished) really fits in with the 'tones, and the mix of rare covers and originals makes for one of those hits-you-where-you-like-it platters in the tradition of the Flamin' Groovies, Sonics and other oft-ignored aggregations. You, like I, need a brace of something like this every once in awhile.
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Staff Carpenborg and Electric Corona-FANTASTIC PARTY CD-r burn (originally on Maritime, Germany)

I hate to say this but (..........shudder..........) Richard Meltzer was wrong! Maybe you can't judge an album by looking at the cover because I for one was certainly fooled by this particular spinner! I mean, take a look at the snap that adorns the front of Staff Carpenborg and Electric Corona' FANTASTIC PARTY...looks like it'd be a real turdburger bein' some lounge act tryin' to look hip inna wild 'n flashy early Seventies or something like that, eh? Something that the elder German mensch played while their kids lapped up the latest by Jimi and Floyd, hunh??? Well, I was fooled and you will be too because FANTASTIC PARTY ain't no chitchat 'n martinis mingler nohow! The music's a soundtrack-y drive through late-sixties German cinema with alla the snazzy jazz asides you'd expect, ONLY there's a whole load of psychedelic effects and downright freaky moves tossed in to make this something more'n the usual Bert Kaempfert/Horst Jankowski fare so popular with many of der volks at the time. Seems like Carpenborg was listening to not only Pink Floyd but krautrock and it shows plenny! And somehow I originally had the impression that these ozobs were to Germany what the Gold Diggers were to the USA...what a surprise I got!
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The Scramblers-CYCLE PSYCHOS CD-r burn (originally on Crown Records)

And for all these years I thought the Beatles created the concept album! Well long before SERGEANT PEPPER hit the record bins this particular platter was up and about, and as far as concept albums go it's about as concept as you can get! The world of motorcycles and racing set to some snappy beats, honking sax and twangy guitar complete with the appropriate engine revs right when they're most needed! The Scramblers' vocalist might not exactly have the Gerry Roslie strained vocal cord style down pat, but he's OK and the band does cook sorta like Davie Allan and the Arrows about seven months into gestation. I still can see some doof parent putting some kid down for listening to this, saying it will never stand the test of time. Kinda shows ya how good it really is then, eh?
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Karlheinz Stockhausen-STOCKHAUSEN EDITION 3: ELEKTRONISCHE MUSIK CD-r burn

Dunno much about this particular release even after doin' a little internet research, but whatever it is it's sure a good collection of Karlheinz Stockhausen during the early years before he hadda say stupid things about how great the Jefferson Airplane were 'n the destruction of the World Trade Center being art. Interesting tape mangipulations and such fill this offering out making for some pretty heady racket, and if you were the sorta spud who used to pester your local library as to why there ain't any John Cage platters to spin (though ours actually had the Jan Steele/John Cage 'un on Obscure/Antilles as well as the Stockhausen's CBS label "Music In Our Time" album which got my dad in a HUGE uproar after I blasted it in his presence) you'll wish you had heard this 'un years before. And besides that, just play this 'un alongside any Velvet Underground album and you get CAN!
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Various Artists-GLIMPSES VOLUME 3 CD-r burn (originally on Wellington)

Since I never got GLIMPSES volumes one or two this one was quite the surprise. Not exactly your typical sixties garage band sampler, some of the track here don't even quality as garage band at all. Closer to the psychedelic range of things, even if Donnie Machett's "Twist and Shout" swipe "Come on Baby" is pure 1963 teen idol wannabe AM hit material even if it did come out three years later. The inclusion of Canned Heat doing a song about Smokey Bear might seem a bit out of place as is the inclusion of a cut from the Mad River EP, but maybe in the overall shape o' things these do have about as much relevance to a sixties warp mindframe as the British Road Runners' rehashing of "Hey Joe" or the Accents' neo-punk mindwarped "Red Sky At Night". As usual nothing as thrilling as those early PEBBLES and BOULDERS platters were back when they came out, but still worthwhile in that unsettling crazed way that made these sixties rockers so appealing long after the fact.
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Various Artists-THE LEGENDARY JAY MILLER SESSIONS VOL. 18 - GIRL IN THE TIGHT BLUEJEANS CD-r burn (originally on Flyright)

I'm sure Bill Shute cold talk your ear off about Jay Miller and these Louisianan rockabilly and blues sessions that were produced by the man...I sure couldn't! I'm rather neophytical about these obscure fifties records that I'm sure make up a whole huge hunkerin' portions of record collections across the fruity plain. However, that ain't gonna stop me from givin' this particular burn a bloomin' mention on this blog! Definite Deep South groove to these decidedly low-fi spinners that have that sorta local hard knock thud to 'em that you just couldn't find on those comparatively cleancut revival records o'er the years. Really nothing else to say (in fact, not much has been said) but this does contain the ultra-slobbering dunce-rocker "She's My Baby Doll" by Terry Clement which turned up on some old SIN ALLEY and turned around more than a few stomachs in the process!
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A LOVELY BUNCH OF AL JAZZBO COLLINS AND THE BANDITOS CD-r burn (originally on Impulse)

A little of that Fifties-derived hipster humor usually goes a long way, so thankfully I haven't been reading any of my old MAD and CRACKED paperbacks before putting this particular spinner on! And as far as that beatnik bop stuff goes Al "Jazzbo" Collins was pretty hotcha...not as hotcha as Lord Buckley (Collins never had a record out on Straight), but pretty good nonetheless. Not only that, but this platter of cool recitation still works even a good ten years or so after the original beat spurt caught the attention of middle Ameriga (like, this 'un came out 'round '67 way!). The old hipster fairy tale gags continue to please, and whatever you do don't miss the opening interview conducted by the usually excrementable Steve Allen where some interesting names are dropped, and in the most peculiar way!
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The Kitchen Cinq-WHEN THE RAINBOW DISAPPEARS CD-r burn (originally on Light in the Attic)

Considering their reputation as being a slicked-up El Lay Sound group it wasn't like I was exactly searching these guys out the way I tend to various hot-button bands I've heard about o'er the years. Still the Kitchen Cinq were good enough doing the post-Byrds folk beat even if they tended to be gussied up a little more than anyone reading this blog mighta hoped. Harper's Bizarre with some Association and Sunshine Pop tossed in for good measure...for those of you who really miss the 1967 AM pop groove overdone production and all, and considering what AM pop would entail within a few good years maybe what you missed was sure worth the time and effort gloppy strings and all!
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Various Artists-EVIL NOWHERE NAMELESS HUMP CD-r burn (Bill Shute)

Lotsa whatcha'd ccall country 'n western on this particular Bill burn, but since I'm not exactly in the mood for any C/W at the time let's jest say that these particular tracks didn't exactly light my gas stove. Neither did the two tracks by Suck, this South African group that somehow is revered for their early-seventies hard-thudness which I had trouble detecting on these numbers. What did light the hotpoint was the Della Reese/Bill Doggett live burner that had one of those boffo repeato riffs that settle well inside my noggin as well as the Arkansas Travelers' "Travelers Boogie" which sounded primo enough to have been a Fendermen dance floor burner. Five By Five were good enough, but not good enough to have made it to a NUGGETS imitator of my choice. In all, this made my Saturday evening a whole lot better than I'll bet yours went!

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

BOOK REVIEW! BEETLE BAILEY 1966 DAILY & SUNDAY STRIPS by Mort Walker (Titan Books, 2011)

Even this late in my life I on scant occasion will eyeball the comic page in my local paper, but frankly I don't know why I even bother. After all, the entire comic strip industry seems to be following the lead of the newspapers in which they appear heading into a big morass of nada, serving no particular purpose than to permit a bunch of carbon-copy employees to continue working the way they had for years on end somehow oblivious to the fact that they and their entire industry is up against an infinite number of internet sites and opinions of all stripes that you'll never see touted in the local fishwrap. Heck, blokes like myself are now able to cut through the chaff and get to the news, ideals and comics entertainment that we want via our computers without having to put up with the pomposity and belittling we've been getting from our "betters" for years on end. And besides, it's kinda painful reading the modern-day versions of those strips I grew up with seeing just how dull and unfunny they've become o'er the years, as if anyone with a sense of humor could laugh at the antics of Dagwood or even that once-boffo Nancy now the same way they did when they were but mere suburban slob ranch house UHF-tee vee kids living a Corgi Toys and Great Shakes kinda existence.

And as far as painful comic strip reading goes nothing can be more painful than reading the current version of BEETLE BAILEY. Once an all-time fave rave this strip is nothing but extremely watered down gags that would have been rejected had they crossed the eyes of creator Mort Walker a good fiftysome years back. I blame it all on Walker's capitulation to the women's lip crowd who, after years of badgering Walker over the sexually-drenched General Halftrack/Miss Buxley strips (with Walker putting up a good front for quite some time), had the General go to a "sensitivity training seminar" in a series that was so dour that it obviously set the tone for the rest of the strip's run. Like just about every "comedian" out there who thinks its his job to make you "think" rather than laugh, BEETLE BAILEY is nothing but a series of drawings without any real punch or guffaw-inducing tendencies and yeah, things do change but must they be for the worse???

At least fifty years ago when these '66 strips first appeared the comic strip page was still pumping on a whole lotta past glories with new ones still being churned out regularly. And man are these '66 BEETLE strips fuh-knee unlike the current edition. Sure Sarge still wallops Beetle, but nobody would think of complaining that this was cruelty played up for cheap laughs. Zero still pulls all of his funny stunts but it wasn't like people though he was actually retarded. And the General still leers at the WAC's tits during inspection but the flat chested brigade feminists weren't all up in hairy pitted arms about it. In fact, were there feminists in 1966 other'n the failed New York City communist types who eventually pushed the issue to the front page thus tipping off frowzy housewives that they were being exploited???

Some real good chucklers in this one. And even some I remember the first time around. After all, in our household the March 27th Sunday BEETLE ("Fatman and Slobber") got a huge laugh outta not only myself but cyster and the November 27th got a rise outta alla us if only because of a cameo appearance from none other than Snoopy of PEANUTS fame! Also of note were the strips starting off the year dealing with the up 'n coming long hair brigade that show off that great ol' older generation resentment to the peace and love types who eventually ruined us all. Not so surprisingly the same sentiments that pop up here were also brought up in a concurrent FRECKLES storyline I'll fill you in on someday which only goes to show you just how loathed most of Ameriga felt towards the longhairs and their totally anti-anti-anti-hypocritical (or something like that) values which continue to reek this far down the timescape!

Don't remember my offhand reactions to any of the others, but for being a first-grade fanabla tortured day in and out by teachers and students struggling for hours through homework that should only take me fifteen minutes and not having all of the toys the other kids had because I was supposed to learn frugality and hadda save my dough well...I'm positive they were something that I looked forward to with unbridled glee once the newspaper hit the front porch back during those rather stellar days.

Titan has a volume of 1965 strips out which is fine, but frankly I could sure use some of the earlier (and later) BAILEYs in my existence. Anyone know what's available out there???

Sunday, July 03, 2016

I've been sitting in front of this screen 'n keyboard for about ten minutes thinking about how I can get this weekend's blog off to a rip-roaring start. There's no real way to be honest about it, especially since nothing of whatcha'd call real interest had beset my fine abode (and maybe not-so-fine mere existence) these past seven days. Sometimes I wish that I could live a real thrill-packed life just like Bill Shute, Brad Kohler and alla you reg'lar readers do, but I'm afraid that I'd be willing to settle for something along the lines of Karen Quinlan the way things tend to be here in the post-post-POSTmodern world which promised us everything but only gave us yet more reasons to hide under the bed until things get better. And ya know they never will!

But trudge on I will, and at least I had these wonders to listen to which did help the pain a little bit. And who knows, maybe in comparison with my week yours was pretty snoozaroonie which, if true, will only make me feel all the more happier knowing that some people continue to live in even more misery than I could ever envision! So if you are indeed a sub-excremental sot let me know because hey, you really will make my day!


Fadensonnen-GUTTER WANDERER LP (Fadensonnen)

It's kinda strange listening to Fadensonnen wreak musical glory on old-styled technology, but given how I can listen to four-hundred-plus-year-old vocal compositions on my Cee-Dee player maybe trans-generational technological mixes and matches is a rather spirited idea after all. Mr. D continues on his over-the-hills-and-far-away guitar stylings (imagine a cross between all five of your out-guitar faves, and add some more) even dipping into some ACTUAL MELODIES when the spirit arises! Pretty hotcha outre-blare that should make all of Fadensonnen's fans happy enough knowing that the ultimate soundsquall has not been squelched no matter how hard lesser beings have tried.
***

Cellular Chaos-DIAMOND TEETH CLENCHED CD (Skin Graft)

Lotsa genre-jamming ya got there Walter, and you and your cohorts really do a grand job of it. I certainly love the way Admiral Gray adds a certain melodic flair to her warbling (especially on "James Baldwin") while the music, er, TRANSCENDS the usual grindarama whilst getting into something that's a nice relief from the past thirtysome years of whatevercore that's been occupying the minds of self-centered primadonnas everywhere. One of those platters that I could dissect and discern about track by track complete with boring anecdotes from my turdler years tossed in for pure elaboration of every minute (that's "my-noot") point to be made, but Eddie Flowers thinks I tend to get long-winded and y'know, he's RIGHT!
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Zoom-SWEET DESPERATION LP (Ugly Pop Canada, available via Forced Exposure)

Toronto was alwaysa boffo place to find these "quirky" kinda rock 'n roll bands, so it's no surprise that a group like Zoom woulda emanated from that particular burgh. Firmly entrenched in the late-seventies underground (i.e. what was once "above ground" but was driven into hiding by the likes of AOR radio and the zitcultures who made it possible), Zoom worked flash with a style and sound that not only drew heavily from the under-the-counterculture big names of the day but the mid-sixties English rock 'n rollers from whence it all came. The results are a great slapdash of sounds that you sure wish was released back '77 way if only so that you could pick it up as a low-priced cutout a few years later like I obviously hadda do! Kinda reminds me of what Redd Kross was up to in the late-eighties only without the candy coat gloss that somehow turned me off 'em (that and a certain CREEM magazine staffer's review, but like I said I ain't badmouthing my "betters" this year no matter how much I yearn to!).
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Massimo Magee-MUSIC IN 3 SPACES CD-r burn (Kendra Steiner Editions)

Really, whatever I said about Magee in earlier posts can be said here, and you just know how much I hate dredging up things I've written about before in order to ram my ideas down your throat! But still I can't let this one go by with just faint praise mere or not, and besides I gotta write at least enough so's that the neat li'l pic of the cover to your left will be encased by words and not ruin the configuration of the review below! And I don't wanna do a track-by-track just like Elliot Murphy didn't want us to, so I'll just end this writeup by saying that I thought track #3 "Cyber" was a real neat step forward regarding the merger of avant garde jazz and technology, what with Magee's sopranino saxophone playing alongside a computer that emits not only audio but visual data. Hmmmmm, sounds like an updated version of those old Mattel toy organs you put a color wheel and and it did strange things, or something like that.
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Muzzy Marcellino-HOUSE PARTY MUSIC TIME CD-r burn (originally on Capitol)

When I was but a mere turdler mom always had HOUSE PARTY blasting onna tee-vee, the Art Linkletter not Glenn O'Brien one that is! It was on right after AFTERNOON THEATER, and I for one liked watching it as much as mom did if only for the part of the show where Linkletter would ask a buncha kids silly questions and usually get unintentionally funny answers. Of course they all just hadda get a whole buncha toys just for being their true kid selves which kills me because when I acted my true kid self I usually got walloped one right inna behind. Gosh I always wanted to be on that show if only to get some of the fun freebees that Art was just flingin' at them suburban slob brats, though all that probably woulda been left after alla them kids piled onto the presents would be some sissy doll with its limbs torn off which would just be my luck.

The show had a bizarroid side too, like the time Art interviewed some old lady in the audience who had been dead for like five minutes before being revived...for a young 'un like myself that was pretty heady business believe-you-me! I also remember another one where Art came out in a mink coat that was made especially for men, an experiment in furrierisms that obviously didn't go too far with the general male populace (come to think of it, this might have happened on the early-seventies NBC "relevant issues" show that Linkletter co-hosted with his son Jack). Funny, but I think that Art would have looked better if he also came out with a floppy hat and a pennant reading "Beat State" but we were talking mink, not raccoon!

The music on HOUSE PARTY never really jazzed me that much, but if it had I REALLY woulda gone for this platter featuring the HOUSE PARTY band led by some guy called (now get this!) Muzzy Marcellino! It has lotsa whistling and accordion playing and sounds just like you'd think a small band for an afternoon tee-vee show aimed at housewives woulda back in them better than now days. It's actually kinda pleasant and surely a break from the raw sewage passing as music heard these days (and really, I like raw sewage, only it has to be raw the way I like rawness and sewage the way I like---well, let's not get into that!), and listening to these standards done up like something Happy Kyne and his Mirth Makers woulda done on FERNWOOD TONIGHT only reminds me of what a pal my tee-vee used to be! Well, at least until the worst people in our society just hadda get in control of everything and ruin it for us NICE GUYS! If you're inna mood for some good pre-raunch tee-vee this will stir up a few of them memories...
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Rod and the Cobras-DRAG RACE AT SURF CITY CD-r burn (originally on Somerset)

More 99-cent funzies from the fine folk at Somerset Records, this time a surf 'n hot rod cash in that (as usual) was bound to end up as a birthday present to ya from Aunt Mabel who, once again, would have bought you the real deal album you wanted but $3.98 for the actual platter is just too much and after all, she is on a fixed income. Half-baked yet satisfying enough covers of then-recent Beach Boys and Jan and Dean hits are interspersed with original instrumental roarers that sound fully baked to me and typical of the stomping roarers that were heard with regularity from the late-fifties to the mid-sixties. Not bad, especially for a buncha nth-stringers!
***

Rolf & Joachim Kuhn-MONDAY MORNING CD-r burn (originally on Hor-Zu Germany)

Sometimes this Europeon jazz just doesn't sound like the real deal bein' all whited up and well, europeanized, but this particular sesh cooks a whole lot more'n knockwurst 'n sauerkraut. Pretty wild play between the Kuhn brothers and some of the bigger players on the Euro scene (Barre Phillips and Jacques Thollot among 'em) that at times comes off like a forgotten segment of FREE JAZZ, but right when you're not looking a few interesting themes like one based on the Bee Gees' "Words" ("Strangulation of a Monkey") or a downright tango ("Reflections of a Monday Morning") pop up and catch you totally off guard. Not bad at all, and worth at least a one-time listen you can probably dial up right here onna web.
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The McCoys-THE PSYCHEDELIC YEARS CD-r burn (originally on Mercury)

Having seen those latterday McCoys albums cluttering up every cheezy-bit record bin of my youth you can bet that I was perhaps a little bit curious. But not enough to actually snatch 'em up which is one reason you never read any review of 'em from me. Hmmm, turns out that the Psychedelic McCoys were just as good as the Real ones, for although there might be one or two duffers on this 'un THE PSYCHEDELIC YEARS is a real solid slice of what the band was doin' in between the big hits and the Johnny Winter And era. The forays into jazz, Byrds-esque West Coast country rock, blues and of course the reg'lar straight ahead rock 'n roll are all top-notch, and not only that but the additional vibes, piano, horns etc. actually accentuate the music rather'n bog everything down. There's even the obligatory one-minute asides into the avant garde which I still think was some industry requirement for all late-sixties pop albums of the day. I'm sure a majority of these track were top FM spins back during the glory days of freeform radio and if not, they sure shoulda been.
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Roy Harte & Milt Holland-PERFECT PERCUSSION CD-r burn (originally on World Pacific)

This looks like one of those album I woulda been snatching up during my late-seventies flea market scouring days thinking that it was gonna be some out-there avant garde jazz clunkerpiece, only to get home and find out it's nothing but standard bowtie 'n tux whiteguy stuff a millyun miles away from the Coleman Classics I was most certainly looking for. Heck it ain't even all-percussion like that Milford Graves album on ESP since there's piano and guitar inna mix! Still bright enough in spots like on the opening track which sounds like what a hip theme for YAKKY DOODLE woulda been what with all of those duck calls. But sheesh, do you really want to hear another version of THE KING AND I let alone "Misty" in what's left of your entire life??? Me neither.
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Various Artists-ROCKELATION JERKIN' CASTLE CD-r burn (Bill Shute)

Too lazy to google the De-Codes who open and close this platter, but I will admit that these guys are good enough early-eighties-styled new wave-unto-power pop rock that comes off better'n some of the new wave-unto-power pop I've heard o'er the years. The rest varies from good 'nuff rockacountryboogie (Len Gale) to Norton Records fave the Mighty Hannibal doin' some r 'n b that's convincing enough to have been issued way back inna good ol' days to even some tinkling jazz via Erroll Garner and Ian Stuart Lane (good enough to mingle martinis to!). Fave of the bunch just happens to be the Factory's "Castle on a Hill" which does the 1967 English psyche thing about as good as those other late-sixties groups that ended up on those PERFUMED GARDEN albums. However, all I gotta say is what the heck is that Emenees single s'posed to be with an a-side featuring a soulful instrumental and the flip what sounds like radio ads for Emenee brand jukeboxes and organs?!?!?!?!