Thursday, September 18, 2014

Watching this burnt DVD offering of THRILLER (disque 7, episodes 25-28) made me wonder---how ever did this series get forgotten among the same spiritual adolescents who still go gaga over the umpteenth ANDY GRIFFITH and TWILIGHT ZONE rerun to hit the ol' cathode tube! Yeah, I know that many of those kinda kids still exist if only in aging bodies (and I should know, I have one!) but really, I haven't read or heard any of the aging pre-teen twats I know blabbing about these old shows the same way they do every other once-biggie now appearing on one of the myriad assortment of small channels popping up on the dial even as we speak.

Rilly, I don't know hardly a soul that remembers THRILLER other'n maybe Bill Shute and this guy who bobs around the place with a one-week Poopdeck Pappy growth on his chin that looks like my aging scrotum who mindlessly babbles on about life with a brain syntax that makes Zippy's look like Isaac Newton, and I don't even think the guy has been in front of a boob tube within the last thirty years, y'know?

Sheesh, for years I wondered why Boris Karloff would warrant his own Gold Key comic book 'n after seeing this show, now I know! As far as anthology hosts go I would rank him up there with Rod and Alfred teasing you into sticking around for the subsequent saga that guaranteed to fray at least a few nerve endings. And, for a series on NBC, a network that perhaps came off third-rank because they tried to be so "Tiffany's", the production and general clarity does not get in the way for once. And the stories...well, in this day and age when even discovering a mass grave filled with crushed skulls doesn't even bat an eye maybe they ain't as creepazoid scary as OUTER LIMITS, but they sure got me glued to my seat and that ain't because my sweaty flesh got stuck to the Naugahyde either!

First 'un's a trio of weirdo sagas set in Olde Tymey England including one eerily Jack The Ripper-based tale where the nefarious ne'er-do-well hides out in a strange museum filled with stone relics of famous murderers and becomes a pillar himself when he gazes upon the face of none other than thee actual and it turns out to be non-mythical Medusa!  A strange one that I'm sure got Stan Lee on the horn to Steve Ditko within a few minutes with an idea for a new AMAZING ADULT FANTASY saga, though frankly the face that turns men to tone kinda reminded me of Reba from THE SOUPY SALES SHOW!

The second episode featured John Ireland as a big band leader on some Caribbean isle who discovers the sacred voodoo rhythms and incorporates them into his latest work. Of course the outcome to this plot's telegraphed well in advance, but I kinda get the idea that the writer of this 'un was not familiar with Chano Pozo, the Afro-Cuban conga player who was offed because he used some real-life secret signals to the beyond in the classic Dizzy Gillespie track "Cubano Be Cubano Bop".

After that comes this tale having to do with a younger brother's attempts to save his sibling (played by Edward Platt from GET SMART) by framing bro's murder of his cheating wife on the guy wifey was sluttin' around with. Of course you get all of the patented false alarms and actual close calls to contend with, before it all comes to a conclusion that really doesn't satisfy and frankly makes you feel lower'n your mother's boobies. At least the bad guy on ALFRED HITCHCOCK got away, at least until Alf came back after the commercial break and tells us all that the murderer was eventually caught and thusly punished just so's everything will play well in Peoria wink wink nod nod.

Closing out the disque's yet another Jack The Ripper-based saga which might seem strange considering how the matter was dealt with only three episodes earlier, but then again these television series were never known for spacing out similarly-themed programs between months or even years. This Jack The Ripper's a modern fellow though, and although he must be about ninety by the time this program hit the tube he's still at it, this time in Ameriga. John Williams plays the Scotland Yard detective on his trail while zilch-movie fave Donald Woods helps him, and eventually himself out heh-heh-heh!

Did I have funzies this past Sunday afternoon watching these? I most certainly did, re-living those blessed seventies-era feelings of lounging in front of the tube while some long-forgotten (by most attention-span-of-a-flea types) mooms and tee-vee shows would unveil themselves in front of my eyes. And all I hadda do was make sure that Sam wasn't prowling the kitchen nearby on the hunt for food to swipe off the counter. Of course I must have gained at least thirty pounds during those rather halcyon days when the only thing that seemed to get to me was work and humidity, but given the satisfaction of just being a layabout watching the local UHF maybe it was worth enlarging the ol' pectorals to at least a Sandy Duncan configuration.

'n now, if somebody would only dig up Karloff's '62 OUT OF THIS WORLD series and make it available again!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Life for me has been akin to a gerbil winding his way through one of those dark, dank and mysterious San Franciscan labyrinths after the tether broke, but sometimes a few curveballs can be tossed my rather sorrowful way. Curveballs that'll give me that ol' neato surprise that I've been craving ever since the Big Beat took a humongous fall way back inna late-sixties, or was it early-eighties? And thankfully (due to the keen workage of one P. D. Fadensonnen) I got a nice trio of said balls tossed my way in the form of some killer Cee-Dee-Ares which lay down to aluminum some of the racket that had been produced by the reunited legendary "cannon fodder" (copyright Anastasia Pantsios) group Mirrors over the past year or so! And true, I might have had a tad bit of trepidation (a word I've been overusing these past few posts, and with good reason!) wanting to hear the musings of a batch of sixty-plus guys trying to either relive past glories, but since the only other option I had for cheap thrills this evening was stare at my nude body in the bathroom mirror I figured that maybe I should go the least sickening route for once.

Obviously I did make the better choice, because the reformed Mirrors here in 2014, alive and kicking as if the past forty years was just...well...more cold storage are shall I say THE MOST KNOCK-OUT HARD ROCK FUZZ THRILL HIGH-ENERGY ROMP I'VE HEARD IN AGES!!! Rilly, I didn't think that anybody could revive the long rotting corpse of seventies underground rock successfully but Mirrors certainly do on this trio of platters which come off like a three-way asteroid collision of Stooges, Pink Fairies and Can proportions splattering rock-hard shards of atonal pleasure upon the masses. After surviving the sensory-overload of these recordings I am speechless, and as close associates can tell you there's hardly a moment in this life of mine when I ever am!

First on the list...WRUW STUDIO-A-RAMA 2013, live at Mather Courtyard at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. The grand return and wotta return it is what with 4/5th of the original group and who knows what else proceeding to blast a few braincells with their rock in overdrive approach. From the opening "She Smiled Wild" (unfortunately missing the fantastic psychedelic extended guitar passage but wha' th' hey) to the set closer "God Sells" (a recent addition to Mirrors' set that  had been recorded under proper conditions a few days earlier) Jamie Klimek and company overload the digital phones and whatever else was used to record this, sounding as if ten Blue Cheers were playing simultaneously wiping out every microphone and headset in the process. The overbearing distortion always lends the proper "ambiance" to this kind of performance (which makes WHITE LIGHT/WHITE HEAT come off like one of those 24-bit remastered albums so in vogue in the late-seventies), and frankly I'll give a listen to Mirrors even if they were recorded on wax cylinder since their energy and might is bound to overcome whatever technology is stacked up against it.


The Beachland Ballroom show from this Janvier might lose something considering the sound quality does reach a more respectable standard...about the same quality as one of those live Mirrors tapes from the old Clockwork Orange days that've been floating around for years...but I ain't complainin'. It's nothing that would have gotten any of those old time STEREO REVIEW creeps palpatatin' but you can make out the melodies and vocals a whole lot easier if it does matter to ya. (But then again I rate METALLIC KO as a recording masterpiece and even find the debut Siouxsie and the Banshees performance at the 100 Club just the right quality for a recording of this stature.)  The overall performance is akin to the group during their mid-seventies romp upon the terrain, and the revival of Mirrors melodies unheard since the group's '75 breakup (including the boffo cover of the Captain Lockheed classic "Ejection") really does infuse a whole load of long-decayed rock forms into a world that has been needing 'em ever since Max's Kansas City closed up shop! I gotta admit that the two additional guitarists (including one-time Styrene Money Band member David Franduto, a guy who I thought looked more like Lenny Kaye than Lenny Kaye did when I saw him live) adds even more tension to the already unbelievable Mirrors sound.  The effect of the three lead guitars weaving about on "I Saw You" is enough to drive you to sanity. Brilliant move on your part Mssr. Klimek!


A li'l over a month later Mirrors were back at the Beachland Ballroom for a Lou Reed birthday celebration bash, and although Lou was nowhere to be seen his spirit surely moved through the band's entire set since all they did that night was play nothin' but Velvet Underground songs! And hey, I gotta say that it's sure great hearing Velvet Underground songs done up in the here and now that aren't being performed by overly-pierced gals with tattoos galore and a body odor that could overpower a dungpile. Klimek and his guitar onslaught performing old VU songs that hadn't yet been vinylized until the eighties really is a earful to behold, and it's even fabber hearing their version of the legendary "Sweet Sister Ray" with that multi-guitar drone cum lead entanglement that weaves its way in and outside of your psyche like nothing since PARADIESWARTS DUUL, a Velvets-stoner classic in itself. The best of the sixties filtered through a seventies consciousness being presented in the teens, a time when I thought that I was the only idiot out there standing against a bulwark of subpar sputum screaming at the top of my lungs LISTEN TO THIS BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE, AND IT ALREADY IS YOU TURDBURGERS!!!!

What's even better about these new slabs of live energy is Klimek's between-song banter. If you can believe it (and why not?), the guy sounds really glad to be up on stage again, this time playing to an audience (and maybe even world) that finally caught up with him after all those years of bitter loathing. (Heck, ol' Anastasia Pantsios herself is now on-board as a Mirrors maniac and although she's been claiming to have been a front and center fan for years [???] it just goes to show you just how much of a bandwagon jumper on the dame can be when it suits her own purposes!) Rock fans like you 'n me who are appreciative of not only Klimek but Jim Crook, Craig Bell etc. can at least be glad that finally they're gonna get their just dues, and although it took a pretty long time well...they say revenge is sweet, and nothing really could be sweeter'n being recognized by the same idiots who wrote you off long ago! Now it's HIP to love those long drones even though you readers knew that all along, eh?

Once again a hearty muchos gracias to P.D. Fadensonnen for the burns, and if you too want to hear some of the better rock 'n roll that's being made today (not to mention the best releases of the year that haven't even been released properly!) go to youtube, gather all of the videos in question, and burn 'em onto a Cee Dee yourself! Or do what luddite me did and have someone do it for ya! Either way you're gonna experience some music that at least gets me up and goin' in a world that does its best to put a damper on everything and anything I like and believe, and in this day and age it's sure a cleansing experience listening to Mirrors whether it be in their original form or the new and expanded edition. And you just know these'll make a great teaser for the upcoming release and when's the battle of the bands between 'em, Figures of Light, Simply Saucer and even the Imperial Dogs (and Umela Hmota if they can make it!) gonna transpire anyway???? Oh so many loose ends that need tied up before it's too late!!!!!
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Now that I finally got the latest bitta hot off the presses nooze outta the way, lemme say welcome to the latest Blog to Commpost! Gotta say that I've been feeling a little better this week, perhaps due to the arrival of the above platters as well as some (if not all) of the ones reviewed below. A hearty thanks to everyone who contributed those burns like Bill Shute, Paul McGarry, Bob Fo'ward and of course P.D. Fadensonnen himself. Also thanks to me for being able to hold down a job so I can at least afford a few of the recordings that I scarfed up via the usual sources. Anyway I got some pretty nice newies as well as some oldies that'll curl your straighties and since I know you're just champing at the bit to read about 'em all, so without further ado...


Lou Reed-EARLY LOU, PRE VELVET UNDERGROUND RECORDINGS 1958-1965 LP (Andy Records, Germany, available from Forced Exposure)

When Lou Reed finally thanked God that he just couldn't care didn't you think that the floodgates of unreleased Velvet Underground recordings were gonna come rushin' their way to our doorstep faster'n you could say "tai kai ko"??? Me too, and although it's been a good year since the guy departed this mortal coil for alleyways unknown STILL we haven't gotten a proper send off in the form of rare archival recordings for the guy. Well, at least other'n this thing which ain't exactly gonna get you bustin' into your piggybank to send for, but it still serves its purpose which is why I'll give it credit where credit is do, savvy?

You've heard most of it already and for years on end from the Jades single to that Lewis Reed demo which had him ridin' the early-sixties well-groomed boy singer merry-go-round, but you haven't heard 'em sound as good as they do here! Well, I gotta say that the rare "Intimates" version of "I've Got a Tiger in My Tank" with the overdubbed roars does sound a bit muddy, but otherwise these tracks have got that sparkling early-sixties Hi-Fi sound that made sneaking into your dad's den to spin your Rolling Stones albums so fun. And it's sure nice having these rarities (including the Donnie Brooks version of "Why Don't You Smile Now" which I've never lent ear to) gathered in one place 'stead of spread out on a variety of albums and tapes you've gathered over the years.

One big surprise in the batch is the inclusion of that Lou Reed "Heroin" demo that Ritchie Unterberger told us about years back but had yet to surface until now. Recorded at the Pickwick studios of all places, Reed's Dylan fixation is in full form here as he folksies this favorite up the way any broken-tooth wannabe troubadour from Hibbling Minnesota woulda done it. Not only that, but the end results are as soul-wrenching as Lou's best to the point where you wanna hear alla 'em Falling Spikes and Warlocks tapes languishing in John Cale's mineshaft which only makes me wonder why the people at Polydor are dragging their feet the way they are!

This one's also got a typically nice Europeen-styled sturdy collectors sleeve as well, and the liner notes from one "Doctor Rawk" do lend me to believe that perhaps thee Lenny Kaye himself wrote 'em. To which I say "HEY LENNY, IF YOU'RE SO KEEN ON PRESERVING THE ROCK 'N ROLL PAST LIKE YOU THINK, HOWZBOUT RELEASING A MAN RAY ALBUM OR TWO?????" Really, I've been waiting for it for quite awhile, and although it ain't gonna be the 1976 bargain bin/flea market platter find I so hoped it woulda been at least you can help warm out that oft-unlit pilot light in my rockist soul by making those recordings public!
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Crime-MURDER BY GUITAR CD-r burn (originally on Superior Viaduct)

I'm sure glad that this collection of rare slabs by the infamous San Franciscan punk rock group Crime came out (actually, I'm more'n glad that Bob Fo'ward sent it to me so's I wouldn't have to dish out any hard-begged for it), because if there's anything that we need in the here and now is more there and then! Fantastico rumblings on these late-seventies sides that really show that there was more to SF than then hippoid dreams that ROLLING STONE tried to keep alive for ages. The roaring onslaught of these tracks (which tastefully squoosh various mid-sixties punkisms and then-current trends together) definitely make for a tasty main course music meal that'll have you begging for seconds (and there are---another Crime Cee-Dee's worth of demos is also available if you act fast!). Not surprisingly I can even hear a load of early (and even mid)-seventies Flamin' Groovies influences in Crime's musical make up, something which doesn't surprise me a bit not only because both acts spurted forth from the same location but because they even shared a member, none other'n Lost and Found-era bass guitarist Ron Greco.
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The Muffs-WHOOP DEE DOO CD-r burn (originally on Burger)

Sheesh, didn't know that the Muffs were still around. I'm sure they're all greying by now, but these once-lassies sure do sound as poppy punk fresh as I'm sure they did around the time they first met up with Mr. Massengill. This has got some rather nice Beatle-swipes that'll warm the hearts of you oldsters who'd like to know that the music of fifty years past still resonates this far down  the line, and its also got a good production and performance which make this 'un the spiritual heir to alla that Kim Fowley-hyped new girl group huzzah that was going around in the pages of BOMP! back in the mid-seventies. But if I ever listen to this 'un again it's gonna be because I'm on a deserted island and the only other platter that's washed ashore is Cliff Richard's LET US PREY, LIVE AT THE BILLY GRAHAM REVIVAL (though if you ask me, the entire story seems like a cheap ploy to scam loads of moolah outta the once-huge singing sensation...even if the stories "have" been flying around for years!).
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Ned Lagin-SEASTONES cassette (Ryko)

My mention of this Grateful Dead-related rarity in my review of the Plunderphonic'd "Dark Star" two weeks back NATURALLY had me scouring ebay to scoop up another copy of this oft-ignored side project, dedicated sufferer that I am. However, after giving the thing a few scrutinizing spins I figured that hey, maybe SEASTONES wasn't as turdly as I remembered it to be back during my shoulda-been-misspent-better teenage years. True it has the usual tinges of burnout "haughtiness" that you would expect from these things, but at least the vocals of guests Gracie Slick and David Freiberg are modulated to the point where they're unrecognizable and Jerry Garcia doesn't take up the entire platter doing one of his "cosmic" guitar solos that you have to smoke the same Persian heroin he indulged in to appreciate.

In fact, even though the credits make this out to be yet another one of those Dead spinoff projects (Lagin on keyboards and electronics, Garcia on guitar, Phil Lesh on bass guitar, Mickey Hart and Spencer Dryden on percussion, David Crosby on twelve-string guitar and of course the Jefferson Airplane vocal choir) which'll conjure up many images of hippies jamming on the front porch, there's hardly a noticeable beat nor any discernible rock music (no matter how spacey it may be) to be found anywhere in this project. In fact this album glops and slithers like just about any New Music Distribution Service offering you would have found at the same time SEASTONES hit the racks, and by the eighties just about any college kid with the right amount of tape and access to a sewing machine could've created music to equal it on just about every level. All I gotta say is I can just see alla the remnants of the unwashed sixties social experiment slapping down their Boone's Farm money for this, truckin' on home and discovering that even with a copious offering of whatever mind-stimulation might be available...man, this music sucks!

But I can enjoy this one even without the additional inspiration if only because 1) this does not sound like a Grateful Dead exercise in hippie excess and 2) the music does sound like real classical avant garde instead of youth culture whackoff. It's nothing that really rates with the actual works of the leaders in electronic computer music, but at least on a suburban slob level SEASTONES is akin to the likes of Stockhausen what the Stooges ca. FUNHOUSE and STARSAILOR-era Tim Buckley were to the likes of Ornette Coleman.

The '90 Ryko edition features a bonus, mainly a later-on version (in six as opposed to nine parts) recorded a few months after the original session that varies enough to rate a mention, even featuring (in part one) this weird synthesizer/string passage that recalls none other than something the reformed Faust easily could have whipped up on one of their many releases! Maybe because of this strange fact that I don't find SEASTONES the steaming pile of hippie turd that I thought it was upon my first spin oh-so long ago, even if the presence of San Francisco's finest does add a certain taint that still has people conjuring up all sorts of strange, huggabunch images in their minds.
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New Cat's Pajamas-CBGB 1974 CD-r burn (courtest P. D. Fadensonnen)

I thought I'd give this very-early CBGB-era band (so early that they broke up before THE VILLAGE VOICE began accepting ads from Hilly Kristal again) a try, especially considering how they billed themselves as a "free blues jazz avant rock garde" act which is something that certainly tickles my tootsies! At first I wasn't that impressed with what I heard, but subsequent spins had me thinking this was some mighty good fusion-type rock that was closer to the likes of Good God rather than John McLaughlin's Shakti. Intense and dare-I-say even exhilarating at times. Kinda wonder whatever happened to 'em anyhow, and if you're interested in hearing what these "scene pioneers" sounded like you too can go to youtube and scarf these three tracks up for practically nada!
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Various Artists-TALLAHASSEE MADISON EARTHQUAKE CD-r burn (via Bill Shute)

Another one of the Bill Shute grab-bags filled with alla that music he's gonna play day after day once he retires and has nothing else to do! Naturally Bill slipped some of his favorite country stuff on here (Herb Gale and Red Foley) not to mention some South of the Boudoir spice ("Ponchita") as well as the mid-sixties mayhem I remember listening to via other people's radios (Paul Revere and the Raiders doing "BFDRF Blues" which I assume stands for "Being Friendly Daily Returns Favors"). Of course Bill just hadda slip in an instrumental schmoozer like Eddie Harris' "Alicia" into the stew but hey, I guess there just ain't no accounting for taste anymo'! And being the most tasteless guy on the planet I should know!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

MOOM PITCHER REVIEW! SOUL HUSTLER starring Fabian Forte, Casey Kasem, Tony Russel and Nai Bonet (1973)

Well, if Frankie Avalon could milk an acting career for all it was worth well into the seventies (and beyond), why not Fabian? Yes, the Hound Dog Man himself pops up as a hippydippy ne'er-do-well in this early-seventies crankout drama, driving along the Californian environs in one of those old panel vans that haven't been made in years looking a whole lot looser than he did back when he was cranking out those "Boys of Bandstand" teen hits that's for sure.

After getting busted at a revival meeting (Fabian hands the crowd a sob story about being robbed of his wallet the night before then unconsciously pulls it outta his pocket when presenting the local gendarme with his driver's license!), Fabian is bailed out by the preacher himself who lets him in on the biggest scam to lay a whole lot more bread on 'em 'n the time the Schweibel's bakery exploded.

And the preacher's evil plan actually works! Soon Fabian is dressed up in a white robe calling himself Matthew, Son Of Jesus and is wowin' the crowd with his early-seventies singer/songwriter schmooze while everybody's raking in the cash in one of the biggest religioso blitzes seen since Aimee Semple McPherson. Naturally (I mean, what else) Fabian's still leading one o' them naughty lives behind the scene, hot for the tramp trade wherever he goes while his junkie Vietnam vet buddy scores heroin for him,  all the while presenting the Mr. Clean Jesus Freak image to the adoring populace who wouldn't guess in a millyun years that their substitute savior was acting like an even bigger hippie 'n alla those scuzzballs you used to see pull up in a Volkswagen camper buying cheap wine at the local stop 'n rob.

Kinda like an updated version of THE WORLD'S GREATEST SINNER for the seventies, SOUL HUSTLER just ain't as good as that legendary exploito what with its more laid back '72 SoCal feeling that makes you wanna blow up a granola factory not forgetting quite a few loose ends (such as the whys and wherefores regarding the death of one of Fabian's Great Danes) that just don't get tied up leaving you to go "wha???" Not only that but the introspective music only reminds me of why the Stooges and Alice Cooper were oh so needed during those decidedly energy-starved days when it seemed as if many teenagers were eating their 12-string guitars for roughage as Flo and Eddie once said. But still it's entertaining enough perhaps thanks to the b-movie acting and general low-budget feel which always was one of the better assets of these funtime crankout features.

In fact Fabian is pretty boffo in the lead (makes me wish he had stuck around doing these drive in films 'stead of popping up in disco mooms a few years later) while Tony Russel as the devious career-guiding preacher who takes him in is also top notch even if the guy tends to look like one of the Gardner brothers from the old Mothers of Invention. Larry Bishop as the doomed vet is perfect for the part even if you think the guy's dreaming "God I gotta get a best supporting actor nomination" during his big emotional scene, and dee-jay bigwig Casey Kasem as the sleazy PR man is...well...about as real life biz as they come. Special note should go to Nai Bonet as Helena, a particularly hot dish who actually worms her way into Fabian's lust-filled heart and kinda makes you wish they woulda made this 'un an "R" 'stead of a "PG" ifyaknowaddamean...

Without spoiling things for those who actually do want to see this movie despite the tepid review I will say that SOUL HUSTLER does have one of them endings that kinda makes you go "hunh?" because it happens so fast, but naturally I ain't gonna ruin it for you by getting into any great detail ene though I get the feeling that few of you are interested in seeing this film  due to the religious subject matter. But you might be shocked, saddened, or even go "wha' th'" when you get to that point in the flicker. Maybe it was deigned to be that way, or as some would say maybe they just ran outta money but anyway this is one I think just might suit you on one of those muggy summer nights if you put your tee-vee in the back yard and pretend you're at the drive in, only don't let the neighbors catch what you're doin' in light of the fact you don't have a gurl wit'cha, right (I know, old habits are hard to break)?!?!?

Saturday, September 06, 2014

If you think my writing generally sucks the Big Juicy Lactating Teat of Mediocrity you should just try reading this week's offering! Although it's admittedly packed with a nice slab o' reviews and of items that I have the feeling many of you will be selling various body orifices for (if you live in New York City that is), I felt myself struggling to whip up that expected zest and oomph to rise to the levels of journalistic aptitude and integrity that I usually strive for with these things. Unfortunately, I fear that the resultant gush from my mind to my fingers to the computer keyboard just doesn't translate into high energy printed jamz the way that I hoped it would have. Sorry to say so, but that's the Turd's Truth and you better believe it!

Now I could be a typical pantywaist about it all and give you my reason as to why I feel that I have shortchanged you readers with my failing writing abilities, ranging from the horrible back 'n ribcage ache I've suffered during the middle of the week (doin' fine now so no get well cards please!) to the middle-of-the-night stomach inflation of Hindenburg magnitude brought on by a knockwurst and cabbage supper. Or better yet a general lethargy and tired, run down feeling brought thanks to that overwhelming malady known as REAL LIFE which has been catching up with me no matter how hard I try to avoid it. And given my good excuses maybe I will...after all, if anybody in this world deserves the hearts 'n flowers treatment it's me, and after going through a rough bowel movement that feels as if you've just given rectal birth to a giant Douglas Fir like I have (and I'm not kidding...after wiping myself after a particularly painful and gut-wrenching dump I thought that the assembled poop remnants clinging to my overworked sphincter had the sludgy texture of wet sand with a few twigs and seashell bits tossed in!), just try cranking out a blog chock fulla etapoint writing and opinions you'd be hard pressed to find anywhere else on this sick planet of ours!

So soldier on I must (and did) in my usual devoted way, and I'll admit that even if the resultant spew comes off as if its got its own case of the flu there might be some tasty shards of info that will pass your rather sharp scrutiny with ease. So maybe eh, I wouldn't write this 'un off totally and even if it does have a slimy coating to it maybe one or two of the following writeups just might end up in my posthumous collection of critical pearls entitled ANY OLD WAY YOU SODOMIZE IT, available via Limp Arrow around the time my earthly remains become the biggest smorgasbord the worms have seen in ages!
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(As you would have expected me to say after having read ten years of this blog....) what I'd said a few weeks ago regarding Robin Williams' own passing goes for that of "funnyperson" Joan Rivers as well! Shit, I really don't know what is worse, the fact that some overpraised media puppet has passed on, or the reams of sniffles that are coming from the same people who somehow couldn't find anything of worth in a Three Stooges film. And as you've already guessed by now, the pundits have been in full swing with their lionization of someone who was nothing but another insult comic, but since she insulted the same people the manipulators at hand loathe she most certainly got a free pass in life. You never saw any of the grief or torn garments you're seeing nowadays when any of the Stooges died, and I should know because I for one remember it all quite well (fifteen minutes into ABC WORLD NEWS TONIGHT, right after the latest on Gerald Ford farting in Congress).

Of course (as you would also have expected me to say all along) I will admit that Rivers was a comedienne who may have caused me to emit a few hearty guffaws during her various early-eighties tee-vee appearances, but as time crawled on and the entire comedy industry turned from all-around bad taste to a socially-charged onslaught rampage against voiceless targets who never could fight back (after all, where are alla them daring Muslim jokes these new social critics comedians could be popping out with relative ease?), the lady seemed to be as funny as a gay rights protester at a Marine Corp recruiting station. Just another tool of that ol' multi-million dollar steamroller known as "progress" that's been doin' their best to keep lower-middle class Polish plumbers and Southern farmers in their place while crying crocodile tears for the same folk they've been trying to obliterate all these years. Har-de-har-hars for people who get a kick outta feeling superior to others because of their unique value systems the same way down on their luck losers have nothing better to do than hype themselves up over their ethnic/racial/religious identity. Sheesh---at one time comedians used to tell funny jokes that made you chuckle and/or groan, but today all they do is castigate all of the proles who are smart enough not to pop up at any of their dissertations otherwise known as concerts!

(And really, if you do want to feel like a hotshot next to the average Joe Blow all you have to do is be like me, and judge others not by their skin color, yearly income or body rankness but by the number of Velvet Underground albums they have in their collection. Works every time!)

As I suspected, the obits that this face-life freak has been chalking up o'er the past few days are even more high-larious'n all of those other recent ones which try to tie in some haughty socially-conscious angle to the person's life no matter how tenuous it may be. In their usual try to say the nicest things about people whether or not they fit the current PC mode of what's righteous, these new obit screeders strain to come up with some of the most tenuous if guffaw-inducing angles to make their subject come off more attuned to "the cause". As such, the always way-off-kilter pundits have been hailing Rivers as a groundbreaking standup comic in a world of men breaking down all barriers that have kept female standup comediennes suppressed etc., and while that may have been true in the standup realm I certainly could have thought up a whole slew of  ladies who have come and gone long before Rivers began sullying the scene with her haughty bitch routine. In no way would I have expected a REALLY funny lady like Vera Vague to have gotten even one spec of the notice or adulation that a comparative droop like Rivers has received (and I'm sure her mid-seventies passing slipped by the collected consciousness of the same folk who now dribble tears over Rivers' 86-ing), especially in these Marcusian times when some pigs definitely are more equal than others. Ditto Gracie Allen or any number of laugh merchants whose preserved work passes my muster while the likes of Rivers only induce me to pass gas. Of course Lucy got her share of fond farewells back when she passed on, but the lady was larger than life and y'know, how could they afford not to report on her own capsize?

But I will admit that it was fun reading about Rivers' crashing of the standup comedy "glass ceiling" almost as fun as finding out that Shirley Temple was a pioneer in the Civil Rights Movement because she acted with those of the black persuasion, or that William F. Buckley had at least some redeeming qualities because he jettisoned the more "extreme" members of the "right" (including Murray Rothbard, a guy who makes more sense twenty years after his death than anybody writing for NATIONAL REVIEW does today) from the pages of his definitely non-mainstream publication. It almost made me feel bad for Fred Phelps since his own obit in the pages of TIME didn't rate even one li'l huzzah for this oft-scorned religious leader which I'm sure really hurt his precious feelings wherever he may be in the afterlife!

Another one for the "rest in piss" category that's for sure, and you can guess that I'll be mourning the ol' biddy just about as much as I mourned the cancellations of  NORTHERN EXPOSURE and I'LL FLY AWAY! May you meet up with your old stubbleface of a nemesis Elizabeth Taylor who I hope has swelled back up to 400 pounds, and may she sit on you for life everlasting, amen!
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Yeah I know, you want the reviews and you want them NOW!!! Won't keep you waiting because I can just hear all you readers with your recently-cashed welfare checks just champing at the bit to know what to do with alla that money, and as we know the essentials must take precedence over alla 'em luxuries like stale doritos and toilet paper now, don't they!


MADRIGAL LP (Lysergia, available through Subliminal Sounds)

This album is gonna set you back quite a bit but hey, if you're in the market for rare home-cooked underground rocking maybe it's best you give up on a few week's groceries in order to save up the shekels for this messterpiece! Long desired on the big bucks collectors circuit, the Madrigal platter has been rumored to be one of the last great finds in the home-produced, heavy drone Velvet Underground sweepstakes that enveloped the teenage punk mindset of the seventies (at least until every suburban slob got in on the act thus creating the monstrosity known as "amerindie"). Now that it's available to a wider audience maybe you too should find out exactly what all the fuss was with the mighty few who were able to get hold of this 'un at the local garage sale back when you were still looking for that elusive copy of George "Goober" Lindsey's I LIKE UGLY GIRLS.

Quite a melange here not only with a decidedly Velvets ping to the thing but with passages that recall just about everything from Suicide to Amon Duul I with a few side treks into the late-seventies variety of industrial music that really made YOU feel top dog back when you were listening to the dark strains. A tad bit of them ol' experimental bedroom hijinx do seem to make their way into the mix giving you the idea that you're experiencing yet another one of the less-enthralling "OP" "cassette culture" items prevalent during the early-eighties, but any feelings of college student pretension are soon swept away when all of a sudden Madrigal stretches out into total high energy bliss that is in such short supply these days. And given just how hard those kicks are getting to find, maybe its like you better snatch this one up regardless of the pricey tag on it!

Sheesh, at times Madrigal sound just as late-sixties innocent as many of those former flea market finds that got Greg Prevost all hopped up in the pages of FUTURE, and if your mode of the music changes from late-seventies hard-splat to post-garage band teen pop with a little freaky flavoring man, you'll really wanna be up, front and center for this!

Only 500 of these have been unleashed so hurry up and grab one while you can. Or if you're the really cost-conscious type you can wait a good ten years for a Cee-Dee reish to make its way to your door. But if I were you I'd try to grab this platter up more sooner 'n later because hey, in ten years time who knows if we'll even have any hearing left intact and I doubt this 'un'll translate well into sign language.
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And we dig you too, Miriam!
 Muchos thankias!
Miriam-NOBODY'S BABY CD (Norton)

Gawrsh, I sure didn't know what to expect from this 'un! Y'see, I thought that the vocalese of one Miriam (formerly Miriam Linna, as if you thought Miriam Makeba was making a comeback) was gonna be akin to the kind of Granny Clampett sounds she was emitting on those classic A-Bones sides like "Sham Rock"---real raw 'n guttural---but on NOBODY'S BABY it sounds as if she's gobbled a few bags of Fisherman's Friends because her voice is nice 'n smooth and real teenage-like! In fact, a few spins of the latest in a long line of Norton Records masterworks had my mind playing them usual tricks on me to the point where I thought I was listening to some obscure mid-sixties record made by some weaselly mid-aged Phil Specter wannabe! Y'know, some long-forgotten private pressing thing that got buried for years until Tim Warren dug up a copy thirty years later, and although Mary Weiss (queen of the sixties femme emoters and yet another Norton Records signee) ain't gonna be losing any sleep over this it just might just get her up a coupla times during the night to take a few pees.

The production coulda been more Phil, but I woulda been satisfied even if Abner Specter of Jaynettes fame had the honor of translating the Miriam sound to wax or aluminum in this case. Thankfully, this does sound pretty funzy mid-amerigan suburban slob in that ripe '65 folk cum gal pop way, and like the best works of pure rockism extant it has me visioning back to all that great past teenbo culture that I was trying to gobble up second hand via a slew of early-seventies flea markets. In fact, I coulda seen twelve-year-old myself snatching this 'un up with some old SUPERMAN 80 Page Giants on a Sunday afternoon garage sale romp and going home to spin it on the fambly stereo while doing weird spazzy interpretive dances like I did with Elvis Presley's "Hound Dog", and don't tell me you didn't act like a jerko like that when you were the same age because I know you all did, and you should be PROUD of it!

In all, a boffo platter outta that famed left field we've all heard about that does capture a long-gone era back when women actually used Norforms and didn't go outta their way to nauseate men. In fact, they made records that really appealed to the male s-x just like this latest in a long line of femme emoters most certainly does. And the only reason that I'm mentioning that the likes of such decidedly non-KICKS approved artists as Neil Young, Tim Buckley and Bobby Darin (let alone the Ramones, who I guess were OK with Billy and Miriam but not as much as Jerry Lee!) are covered is so I could crank out a "hip" namedropping review connecting the reader with some "cool" hooks for them to relate to! Y'know, just like the kind that woulda graced the pages of STEREO REVIEW or maybe even that granddaddy of hipster spunk ROLLING STONE back during their lost in the haze of post-hippie hackdom days. Did I do a good job of it guys, hunh...did I????
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Dane Clark in CRIME AND PETER CHAMBERS CD-r burn (NBC radio show 1954)

These old radio shows Mr. Shute has been sending my way really know how to make this particular suburban slob feel like its the early fifties and Red Ball Keds still matter to my sense of sartorial elegance, and CRIME AND PETER CHAMBERS is no exception! One time tee-vee perennial Dane Clark stars as the private eye who, as you'd expect, manages to solve some of the toughest and nut-crackinest cases anybody could come up against, and in less than a half-hour t'boot, which for one reason or another reminds me...

...about  my seventh-grade teacher used to tell us repeatedly that, given us dumbass kids were growing up under the influence of  television, we thought the world's problems could be solved in the course of an hour (something he probably perused in a READER'S DIGEST---these teachers have no cognitive function and you know it), but since Chambers could solve the most complex cases in less time I'm sure said teacher would have had this show BANNED! Can't argue with a man who can't even handle a class of unruly doofs custom made for the ritalin market now, can we???

But sick teachers aside there are two good 'uns here with my fave being the second that deals with a bank teller who absconds with a nice $100,000 for use in an interesting bank scheme I was kinda hopin' he'd actually get away wit given how neat the idea he had was! For once wouldn't it be just DUCKY if the writers let him because hey, he did put a whole lotta craft and work into his rather devious plan and like he shoulda been rewarded somewhat for it now, dontcha think??? Yeah I know that this has gotta play in Peoria, but still it would be nice if the sneaky guy with the good idea got away with it at least once!
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The Buzzcocks-THE WAY CD-r burn (originally on Pledge Music)

The Buzzcocks??? Dint even know they were still around but its obvious they are, and the Mancunians' (izzat the right term?) latest is really a platter to, as they used to say,  contend with. Well, not en toto 100% but it's good enough for this fanabla, kinda sounding like one of those hard-thunking proto-punk singles that came outta England in 1973 (albeit maybe not crunchy enough, though "Dream On Baby" coulda been a Mustard track if it were only heavier) with vocals that sound gruffer'n that crime dog that you still see doing Public Service Announcements on UHF-TV. And boy have they aged, not only with their finer sense of punkitude firmly on display but definitely age-wise. They're English frails no more as is obvious from their pic onna front cover which leads me to think sheesh, who ever thought that the Buzzcocks woulda eventually turned into the Stranglers!
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The Zobo Funn Band-LIVE AT THE HAUNT JANUARY 28, 1980 CD (Studio Records)

These Zobos first came to my attention via a listing for the 1975 CBGB Christmas Fest as well as some '78 Max's gigs that must have been very successful if you're the type of guy who believes everything you read in a group's press release. As for me well, I figured that they just hadda've been part of the first wave of local talent that was creeping its way to the En Why See clubs right around the time the upper-crusts at THE NEW YORK TIMES began paying attention to the likes of Patti Smith, so hey why not plunk down a few and find out whether or not they wuz worth the gamble!

Turns out that I was right once again at least on one aspect of the quest, for the Zobo Funn Band from Ithica were undoubtedly typical of a lotta the home-bred groupage that could be found in just about any burgh throughout the seventies. They're nothing that will light up the typical BLOG TO COMM reader's fancy being more of a standard jazzbo rock cum prog act, but in some ways they remind me of Tin Huey with a heavy AJA-period Steely Dan influence which'll only matter to you if you like Tin Huey and/or AJA, I guess.

To be truthful about it, there's little use you discerning types'll have for a disque such as this. Now you might enjoy the jazzy lines and find the soprano sax not as upchucky as it was in the soprano saturated seventies, but the lead singer does come too close to Terry Kath for comfort which of course make me wanna play a game of "Polish Roulette" more sooner than later. And face it, a lot of the Zobo's rep is nothing but uberslick jazz refuse that sounds as if it were made just for your favorite female college radio deejay with a terminal case of perioditis which reeks from every nuance in her whiny if flat voice, amongst other holes that is.

But on the plus side this release does have a fairly creative spark at times (which you can count on your right hand if you're Jerry Garcia) and comes with an FM broadcast immediacy to it that'll remind you of sitting by the radio ca. 1978 waiting for the "new wave" hour to come on your local college station. And since I haven't found the desire to smash the bugger against the wall yet maybe it's gotta be good!

One huge caveat...guitarist David Torn of the group later went on to gnu age fame with albums on Windham Hill and ECM, not to mention his chalking up mucho studio time backing everybody from Cyndi Lauper, k. d. laing and maybe even some females for that matter! If you listen hard enough the roots of eighties musical slickdom may be discerned, but if you're interested in experiencing a slice of what was considered "Amerigan Underground Rock" in the seventies that li'l fact might not affect you that much. Knowing you readers, it probably will.
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Pharoah Sanders-LIVE KEYSTONE KORNER, SAN FRANCISCO 6/6/71 CD-r burn (via P. D. Fadensonnen)

For folk like me who struggle with the fact that Sanders, when he coulda been making albums of pure sonic structure, ended up going the disco route to the point where even his earlier entries into music making seemed tainted, this does help kill the pain somewhat. Dunno exactly who Sanders is performing with on this '71 outing but they're definitely copasetic (wonder if that's a pre-Scientologized Stanley Clarke on bass, and that surely is Lonnie Liston Smith on piano, right?) but he's still got that power and might which made everything from TAUHID to THEMBI must-spins for anybody who would dare consider themselves fans of the 1958-1977 underground jazz sphere. Beautiful guttural screams make it worth the price of admission (mainly a good search via your local search engine). And like those actual flesh and blood Sanders platters that were in ample supply during the seventies this does have that driving rock sound that might even appeal to more than a few of you Stooges aficionados who still tune into this blog...dig?
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Various Artists-GREEN-EYED JUKEBOX MANSION CD-r burn (via Bill Shute)

This 'uns mostly got late-fifties/early-sixties popster sides ranging from yet another bunch who were goin' 'round under the Temptations moniker (and really, it woulda been funny to hear this white group from New Jersey wrap their tonsils around "Ball of Confusion"!) to the gal group-y Bleu Belles not forgetting a load of femme soloists the likes of Gloria DeMarco and the New Breed. The English get their digs in via Hedgehoppers Anonymous and the Mad Hatters (with a single that dates back to '76 which is a surprise because it sounded  '69/'70 cusp to these ears!) The ads for Sears Warehouse and WABN "What's Happening" clip are of course always welcome (they make me feel like I'm a li'l kid inna car pestering my mother to take me to Mason's for a new toy!) and the experimental improv via "Trans-Idio" and "Idio-Savant" added that certain oomph that jolted me outta a sixties sensibility right into a seventies one! Great gunch here, and to think that you too can snatch it all off the web if you only had the intelligence and savvy unlike me!

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

MOOM PITCHER REVIEW! DAYTON'S DEVILS starring Rory Calhoun and Leslie Nielsen (1968)

Considering how pussified manhood has become over the past forty or so years it's sure great seeing yet another one of these hot action-drenched movies where the guys are crazed and sadistic and the woman pretty dainty especially when compared to the bulldozers you see passing as members of the female gender these days. At least this film represents things like they oughta be, but if course if you doth disagree I can always direct you to some M*A*S*H rerun that's lurking about in the ether somewhere.

Sorta like a cross between THE DIRTY DOZEN and WHO'S MINDING THE MINT, this 'un's got Leslie Nielsen (who's second billed probably because Rory Calhoun demanded the #1 spot) as a disgraced former Air Force officer leading the standard motley bunch of down and out losers on a mission to rob an air force payroll worth that's undoubtedly worth a huge hunka dough. The aforementioned Calhoun plays the wizeass guy in the bunch always butting heads with Nielsen while the others come straight outta central casting, from a typically constipated Nazi officer to a suave Frenchman, not to mention an ex-army psycho in the Telly Savalas role (he being played by real life psycho Barry Sadler!) and future tee-vee reg Georg Stanford Brown more or less this moom's answer to Jim Brown. There's even a standard late-sixties TV-type hippie nutjob here who, when refusing to get his long locks raped, gets the scissors treatment while the older guys laugh and smirk at the sight! I'm sure this particular scene put a huge smile on the faces of alla them tough he-men in the audience who were settling down for this 'un hoping for some rough 'n tumble action and not some hippydippy love fest that's for sure!

And if you do happen to get overcome by it all at least there's the scene where female leadLainie Kazan sings "Sunny" while wearing a low cut dress, and the part where she changes outta her civvies into some scuba gear might also get a rise outta you men who haven't seen a female form that wasn't decked out in tattoos and shiny piercings for well over a decade!

The moom does pack a lotta action whether it's between a couple of the guys fighting it out over some seemingly small infraction or during the actual crime, and thankfully the energy keeps on going even when the story slows down even a tad bit. Whatever, this 'un the perfect Sunday afternoon slab of entertainment that'll keep you engaged and remind you of the days when action on the screen did speak louder than words (mostly those being talked at you by do-gooders who are nothing more'n the uplifters outta some D.W. Griffith film updated for a new and frightening future) and hey, aren't you glad you were born a MAN???.

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*'n whatever you do, don't be scared by the appearance of then-soap opera actor and future sandalista Mike Farrell as an officer, though keen eyes will be able to spot the once-omnipresent seventies character actor Bo Hopkins as a sailor who gets offed about two minutes into his appearance.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

IT'S BACK TO SCREWED TIME!

Continuing on the fine tradition of noting the various fiftieth anniversaries of importance in our suburban slob upbringing existences (the JFK assassination and the Beatles arrival in the US of Whoa amongst 'em) I thought I'd mention (or better yet, "bring up" [..........gurgle..........] another one that's almost upon us (and no, I don't mean the rather boffo 1964-1965 tee-vee season which gave us a few notable hits along with some rather expressive flops) but that of my entrance into---society so to speak. 'n no, I don't mean the "social whirl" of martinis and snack crackers at the Jonesies at eight, but that dark day in human history (at least for me) otherwise known as my first day of (shudder!) school.

Before I entered into Kindergarten that sunny if breezy day in very early September 1965, life was like, fun. In fact it was a daily adventure just as exciting as any episode of LASSIE that might have being airing at the time. Sure, turdler me had to contend with frightening nightmares usually having to do with the skeleton falling out of the photo of my dead grandfather that was hanging in grandmother's basement and butterflies eating me alive, not to mention the fact that my folks coulda been a whole lot less strict with me given their penchant to swing first and ask questions at the same time. But otherwise I was living through the kinda existence that I sure wish never woulda ended. Wake up, snap on the tee-vee and watch the morning cartoons, get dressed in time for the LITTLE RASCALS short or old TALES FROM THE RIVERBANK that always ended the cartoon hour (or maybe the Lowell Thomas station freebee having something to do with the United States Air Force) before playing with my toys while the tee-vee kept me company, or going shopping with mom or maybe even getting some toy outta a department store visit if luck would strike. Then it was more tee-vee and more playing with my toys until suppertime, and then even MORE tee-vee only with my dad reading the paper in the same room until it was time for bed. I could even get a snack of soda pop and Fritos to help me make my way through that episode of THE DEFENDERS that some wizenheimer put on! I mean, that's the kinda life I wish I could live now especially if the same sorta hotcha programs that were airing then (even THE DEFENDERS!) were still being shown giving a guy a good reason to stay up past seven o'clock!

Naturally that all would come to an end with my entrance into school, and what a depressing lifestyle rearrangement it was---BOOM like a lead curtain slamming me right on my tender five-year-old noggin! Or better yet a psychological dumping of the kid in the deep fat fryer and seeing if he comes up batter-fried fish or KFC!

The first thing that got to me was having to socialize with kids the same age I was---not that something like that wasn't exactly new to me albeit it seemed as if each and every attempt at playing with others usually ended up with said brat taking advantage of me and but good! (I remember one overcast autumn evening when my father and I were visiting a neighbor who happened to work with my dad'n I was more or less relegated into playing in the back yard sandbox with said neighbor's kid---dear little "Kevin" for no reason other'n I grabbed his dump truck threw a fistfulla sand in my face thus causing the folks to rush me home in order to squirt a few bottles of Murine into my eyes! When I heard years later that the very same kid had died [story has it either via AIDS or an accident] you can bet I felt justified to the max!!!) Now I hadda spend six hours in a room with a good twentysome more of these monsters, and you can bet that the experiences that I hadda endure with these monsters was nada like the fun 'n games ya used to see on DING DONG SCHOOL that's for sure!

Now I will remember that my kiddiegarden teacher Mrs. Carter was in fact quite a nice lady. She kinda looked like a cross between Rose Marie and that lady who used to hawk Cool Whip on tee-vee (she even popped up in a commercial with Bill Cosby who was pushing "pudding in a cloud" in the late-seventies!). Mrs. Carter used to wear a rubber band around her wrist and for some reason I thought that she had a removable hand she could take off and put back on for whatever reason she needed (grownups are funny about things like that!). I even asked my mother to ask her if in fact this was true, that's how interested I was in her hand! I also remember asking her if she was related to Sgt. Carter of GOMER PYLE USMC fame and she told me to move it, knucklehead which was especially fitting of her!

But still I hadda get up early three days a week and miss my morning cartoons and that was bad, and what was worse was a whole year later when I actually had to enter first grade, get up early FIVE days a week and endure even more snooty, pushy classmates (cunts all) as well as teachers who I believe were hired on the basis of how much they hated children. Now that was bad (and how I used to sit in class thinking about which LITTLE RASCALS short I'd already seen a hundred times was being aired right at that very moment). And what's worse is that the same pattern pretty much engulfed my entire living patters for my entire formative years.

'n yeah, I will admit that I used to get all giddy and excited over going back to school (a giddiness which did not last long mind you), but years later I think that was only because of my parents' pushing the school agenda just like tee-vee pushed the new fall season and the auto manufacturers hyped their new models (all around the same time which did lend a certain excitement to life in general!). It took me a long time to realize that I was being "had" but hey, when you're a kid you have no right to think, and shut up is your only option so like why bother even living???

Back to those "formative years"....here in my aged state I get the strong feeling that them days woulda been put to better use had I just stayed home and got my education sitting like a lump in front of the television set (as if  you remember everything you learned about mathematics, grammar and citizenship from that harridan you had as a teach all them years ago!) 'stead of being dragged to school during the weekdays. And Greg Prevost was RIGHT...after all, what good is the stuff being taught to you in third grade when you have to go out and fend for yourself in that megalomonster that we all call reality?

So now you know why I am the antisocial, mankind-hating person that I proudly proclaim myself to be these days. But I always wasn't like that, and if you want to see just what kind of a fun, everyday go-for-a-walk and watch tee-vee normal kid I was just hop in your own Wayback Machine and set if for a good fifty years or so back. And if you wanna see what a bitter, hate-filled loathsome wretch could be, just tune it back forty-nine!
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On to other subjects at hands or fritzes for that matter. After that all-too-potent edi-TOO-real I just dished out let me welcome you to this latest in hopefully a long line of BLOG TO COMM posts which I get the "funny" feeling you'll dig to the utmost. Just happ'd to get some really find wowzers o'er the past few days (some courtesy Bill Shute, others P.D. Fadensonnen, one thanks to Paul McGarry and a few I even paid for myself!) and I know that this week (and maybe even next!) will be pretty potent as far as delivering on the high energy goods to all of you rockism-deprived readers just drooling for that latest tip for a trip to your nearest record emporium! (Which may be thousands of miles away but hey, you always got FEET!) Surprisingly enough, it seems as if the reissue/exhumation market has been perking up a tad as we speak, and with some of these new releases making their way to your turntables and laser launching pads we might just have enough good jamz to kick out at least until...the next batch of  hardcore rock 'n roll recordings make their way out of the dresser drawers and into the streets!
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One more thingie---there are some things I'd really like to know and know a whole lot more sooner 'n later. Is it true that some cop in Ferguson Missouri really shot an English progressive rock group? And what's all this talk about an all-woman seventies horn-rock act of questionable sexuality (or was it a recent post-metal band) wreaking havoc in the Middle East?


THE MAGIC TRAMPS PRESENT "MENTAL MORON" AND "CHILDREN OF THE KINGDOM" CD (Whiplash Records, available via CD Baby)

Wow, after almost ten years a new Magic Tramps release has made its way out of Sesu Coleman's closet! Of course, clocking in at just a li'l over twelve minutes doesn't exactly make this 'un an especially smart buy especially considering the price tag placed on the thing, but since it's a taste of what's in store it ain't like I'm gonna complain about having to purchase this 'un like one iota!

The opening track entitled "Mental Moron" was recorded by a new version of the group featuring a fellow named Crow Weaver banging a guitar and singing along with Coleman's drumming and Lary Chaplin's violin. It's a cover of the old Corpse Grinders number which I believe was originally called "Rites 4 Whites" but since I haven't played that 'un for years I can't be certain whether or not it is. But whatever the status of this track may be it's a killer that proves that maybe only the oldsters can still play gritty, down-to-earth seventies-styled punk rock these days. Kudos must definitely go to Chaplin for the searing electric violin line that flows in and out of the tune like one of Wayne Kramer's better MC5 solos.

"Visions of the Temple" is one of those long and meditative Magic Tramps instrumentals the group used to do back when they were wrestling under the name "Messiah", and although it sounds like one of those repeato-riff drone-rockers that help ooze me into beddy-bye time I really can't tell---y'see, Colemen talks over the number (which is way down in the mix) making it all but impossible to hear. However, the exemplary drummer's saga about the group's history and development is mildly amusing even if nothing we didn't already know is revealed, and considering this platter is more 'r less a "teaser" for the upcoming platter I ain't gonna stomp my feet in righteous self-indignation. In fact, I'm counting the days 'till it finally does make its way out on the infamous Whiplash label, also home to the likes of the Corpse Grinders, the Brats, and maybe even a few more groups you ignoramuses haven't heard about yet!

Closing out the disque's a recently-discovered 1970 Tramps recording with one-time frontman Eric Emerson singing away...sound's not too hot and you have to crank the thing quite a bit to get the proper effect (mind-numbing brain-damaging energy!), but it still rules like nothing else in 1970 did 'cept for LOADED, FUNHOUSEFLAMINGO and precious few others. "Children of the Kingdom", despite having a title that conjures up images of Melanie albums wasting away in your older sister's attic, really is a surprisingly powerful full-blast rocker with an easily-identifiable Velvet Underground riff (Chaplin's violin adding to the rhythm rather than careening over it a la John Cale) that perhaps proves the oft-touted theory about just how wide and expansive the VU's grasp was on the better rock 'n roll of the day. If the rest of the album's gonna be like this then I'm gonna stock up not only on the vinyl version but a few Cee-Dees in case my turntable conks out on me. Gotta be prepared, 'specially in these sordid rock-deprivation days!
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Fadensonnen-PD5 CD (Fadensonnen Records)

Lessee...did I use this one?..."sounds like the last minute of Jimi Hendrix's existence as he choked to death on his machine head"??? I think maybe I did...howzbout "WHITE LIGHT/WHITE HEAT rammed through Chrome's sphincter and these are the sloppy seconds"????  Even worse..."Controlled Bleeding making the soundtrack to a new Conelrad alert"! A li'l better if I do say so myself, and if you're bound to disagree why don't YOU come up with your own corny and oft-used rockcrit comparisons that just about every fanzine snob dished out in order to hide the fact that they didn't exactly comprehend the sounds at hand (unlike I) back during those tired and retread eighties!
***
Chrome-LIVE PRIMAVERA SOUND 2014 CD-r burn (courtesy P.D. Fadensonnen)

Maybe it ain't so coincidental that I namedropped Chrome in the above review for in the same package the above offering arrived in I also received this li'l representation of the recently-reconstructed band as they stand here in the mid-teens. I might have had more o' that legendary "trepidation" I often blab about when I plunked this 'un down on the laser launching pad...after all I never thought that the eighties/nineties works of the Damon Edge/Helios Creed team were as potent as those late-seventies disques...but this one rocks just as good as if ol' Edge was still alive and inflicting his demonic influence on the solar mess. Hot flare in the Siren tradition as the old faves are given new reworkings and sound just as feral as they did back when only a few of us fanablas were in on the massive push courtesy BOMP! and a handfulla worthy fanzines. I guess the mere existence of these recordings prove that Von Lmo was right all along (as if you didn't know that already).
***
Simply Saucer-BABY NOVA 12-inch EP (Schizophrenic Records, Canada)

It's about time these 2011 recordings (done up at the aptly named Ghetto Studios in Detroit MI) were pressed up because if there's anything we really need here in 2014 it's SIMPLY SAUCER!!!! Of course we also need Rocket From the Tombs, Mirrors, Ex-Blank-X, Von Lmo, Stuart's Hammer and Figures of Light...and come to think of it we got 'em all as well. We even got the Magic Tramps as you can see from the review above!

Let's face it, there's nothing more rock 'n rolling than a buncha sixty-plus guys reliving teenbo treble tantrums now that it's fortysome years later and all of a sudden the music these guys were SHUNNED for playing is in fact the hippenest thing around! Even more satisfying is know that all of those cubeoid Pantsios types who once upped crustoid nostrils at these "primitive" acts are now comin' off as if these acts were the bee's knees all along and that they were in on the whole underground rock shebang from the get go! Yeah I hate bandwagon jumpers too but at least acts like Simply Saucer are now getting a whole lot more press 'n who knows what else than they were way back when, and why should they or their bankbooks for that matter argue?

Great re-dos of a buncha Saucer classics both familiar and not, and although singer Edgar Breau's voice sounds pretty rough and ragged these days it still fits the music like swell. And the music sure is potent enough to stir those teenage underground throb thrills up just like it was 1979 and you just got the latest BOMP! catalog in your crustoid mitts.

Not as "electronic" even in a sixties Velvet Underground sense as I thought it was gonna be, but still powerful enough with its Television ca. 1975 filtered through 1976 Gizmos with maybe a tad touch of Chad 'n Jeremy to Anglo it up a bit! Definitely one that was worth the wait and I know that it does seem out of place here in the truly cyborg teens but hey, it sure beats the heck outta listening to 2014's answers to Ann Murray and the Sasoul Orchestra and believe-you-me there are plenty of those around to make this rock 'n roll feel all the more potent!
***
John Oswald/Grateful Dead-GRAYFOLDED 3-LP set (Important Records, available via Forced Exposure)

Gotta hand it to Plunderphonics creator Oswald...only he could take a snoozy noodling track like "Dark Star" and turn it into something that's actually worth sitting through and enjoying as an actual form of creative musical expression 'stead of as an enhancer to some addled mystical experience which can only be experienced once the guy sitting next to you passes a li'l something your way ifyaknowaddamean...

Taking over a hundred different recordings of the extendo Dead number and overlaying, mixing, matching, adding extraneous tracks and who knows what else, Oswald managed to create a (believe it or not!) engrossing extended (over three platters!) version of the aforementioned jam track which spanned a good portion of the Dead's career. And heck if I get my headband out and turn freak brother on you, but (if you can believe it) GRAYFOLDED takes the comparatively staid music of the Grateful ones to an even further out level that never did get captured on their recordings, some of which  I've had the (mis?)pleasure of hearing these past few decades. And thankfully the resultant stew ain't on a level of boring hippie grooveed hackdom either but something that hearkens back to early San Francisco accomplishment just before Jerry Garcia began believing all of that press hype about how much of a "spokesman for a generation" he was.

At times it sounds as if a dozen Deads are playing at once, and the music goes off into the usual tangents but for once you don't mind as the currents cross-connect and your mind seems about as overloaded taking it all in a whole lot more'n the doof tripping outta his mind inna audience's was. Surprisingly avant garde enough to somehow recall not only the Dead-not-in-name-only album SEASTONES (which I thought was a pile of turd upon first listen back '78 way but just might be due for a li'l re-eval if I can latch onto a cheap copy somewhere), but the likes of some admitted Dead influences as Sun Ra or maybe even that mythical old kraut himself Karlheinz Stockhausen.

For a respected rock aficionado whose loathing of the Dead is known far and wide, I must admit that this project might bring out just what it was that made the Dead during their space rockiest so appealing to millions of malnourished hippies doing weird dances o' ecstasy in public parks. Not that I feel like doing those Gumby routines any day soon, but if you're game to some of the more atonal heavy duty avant garde rock (no "roll") that made their way outta of the seventies soundswill you might just find this enticing enough to latch onto.
***
The Safes-RECORD BEAT CD-r burn (originally on O Brothers)

Hmmmmm, more good 'n recent poppy rock 'n punk that doesn't sound as retread as I thought it would have given the track record of many a similar-minded bunch of re-creationists. Nothing that I'm gonna spin on a daily basis, but fairly interesting trash-compactor mooshing of poppy Beatles ideals and late-seventies power chord fanzine rah. And dare I say it, but it gives me great hope that the future of this country is in the hands of such fine, upstanding gentlemen as the Safes who are leading the youth away from the evil and decadent sounds of Justin Timberlake, Kate Perry and that notoriously amoral fiend Sam Smith! Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr...
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Roxy Music-11-27-1974 - PARIS, PALAIS DES CONORES CD-r burn (courtesy of P. D. Fadensonnen)

I wouldn't call this 'un spectacular but it is a must for the rabid Roxy Music kinda fan who spent more'n a few hours thumbing through import and bootleg bins in the tri-state area. Sound quality is fab for what I can detect is an audience recording, and although the selection of songs leaves a bit to be desired (not enough tracks from the then-current COUNTRY LIFE alb and only two from the Eno days and they ain't "Virginia Plain" or "Remake/Remodel" either!), the sophisti-deca feeling that made Roxy one of the more talked about groups of the day still seeps through like syphilitic pus outta Iggy's main vein. Ferry and company cook up that jaded art sound in a fashion that would make any teenage ball o' confusion wanna don a tux 'n tie, and although it may be hard for you to believe it but this was the music that was to be heard outta the suburban slob bedrooms of many a sad and lonely boy back in them days! I should know because well...given my lack of $$$ I used to station myself outside of a whole load of 'em in order to hear these forbidden sounds, at least until someone turned the garden hose on me.
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ON STAGE WITH THE DAVE CLARK FIVE CD-r burn (originally on Capitol, Canada)

I guess this 'un'll be interesting enough for the collector snob types and hardcore DC 5 fans alike since it only came out in Canada and thus was probably not readily enough available at your local Zayre's. Mike Saunders and the rest of the rabid Dave Clark fans'll probably cherish a flesh 'n vinyl copy of this in their collections but frankly I find it, like all of the platters I've heard by these British Invasion heavies, rather roller-coasty with a few bright spots overcome by the band's generally lower energy output. But hey, if you want your bedroom to sound just like your older sis's did a good fifty years back just spin ON STAGE (which ain't even a live album making me wonder how they get away with such blatant misrepresentation???) and get a buncha young adolescent females to jump up and down and giggle a whole lot on your bed. And don't come crying to me when the cops bust down your door!
***
Various Artists-DEWDROP NYMPH HEARTACHE CD-r burn (courtesy of the largess of Bill Shute)

Lotsa fun stuff here from two "song poems" to some gal group sounds (the Date with Soul as well as the Flirtations' snappy hit "Nothing But a Heartache") and the usual early-sixties trackage that really sends me back to my pre-memory days which I only wish I could remember. Bill even remains true to form by fitting a couple of country and western numbers that were country even when country wasn't stodgy enough to admit the likes of Barbara Mandrell to its ranks. Even the foreign legion in the form of Lebanon's Sea-Ders and Turkey's Maut Isiklar are represented, as is Forest of Harvest Records fame who sound true enough to their post-Barrett style to rate a seek out for one of the group's LP for that famed "progressive" label! And it's all topped off by a Vox Wah-Wah Pedal demonstration that I kinda get the idea was heard by every garage band kiddoid rockstar wannabe back in the sainted days of the mid-sixties!


Thursday, August 28, 2014

BOOK REVIEW! POPEYE CLASSICS VOLUME 1 by Bud Sagendorf (IDW 2013)

I gotta admit that I did have a bitta trepidation opening the cover of this 'un not only because most of the POPEYE aficionados I've met up with loathe the post-Elzie Segar THIMBLE THEATRE strip with a stark-drooling passion, but because I thought that artist Bud Sagendorf's strip work from his 1959 debut until he got edged out in favor of Bobby London's "updating" of it in '86 was strictly grade-z turdsville myself. And for someone who obviously has better things to do like talk to Don Fellman and pop delicate nose blackheads (at the same time!) like, maybe a book like this is taking up too much spare time that could be put to better use!

But then again, I've learned long ago that snobs, whether they be of the cinematic, comedic or even the "rock music" variety, usually have their heads so far up their asses that they can personally greet their polyps with a hearty "hey" on a daily basis! Why should I let their crusty-nosed better-than-thou attitudes affect what I like in a comic anyway, especially when their tastes would generally veer closer to the likes of CATHY than they would a live-reaffirming, suburban slob strip like the Ernie Bushmiller-period NANCY. It's kinda like basing your record purchasing choices on what the numnuts at ROLLING STONE tell you is "cool", and since yer more likely than not ain't in high school where ya have to make brownie points with the other kids in order to be "accepted" anymore maybe its time ya thunk for yerself about these things 'stead of letting some college paper patsy, or ME for that matter, go around and set your modes of measuring kultural pleasure for you! Only remember, at least """""I""""" have my rockism controls set for the deepest center of your brain which is nothing I could say about any college paper turds I've had the displeasure of reading for years on end!

I should at least give Sagendorf credit for learning his POPEYE craft straight from the originator of it all (even though you'd never believe it looking at those sixties-era strips), but I'll proudly admit that when he was up-and-running with these late-forties comic book-only stories Sagendorf still had some of the old fire and energy associated with the original firmly in hand. Now these particular sagas don't exactly hold up to what Segar was cooking up over a decade earlier, but they're funzy enough in their own surprisingly snide and (dare I say) creative way, and the man still managed to capture the fun and even cut-throat antics of the entire cast thus sparing the wild-eyed rage and anger of thousands of Saturday Afternoon Barbershop Kids who only wanted a little bitta excitement 'n ten-cent thrills in their otherwise drab lives.

The art's still comparatively Segar-esque, and while the comic book version seems to (as usual) veer somewhat away from the newspaper and (definitely) the animated POPEYE galaxies I can't see anybody who peruses this blog not finding these various adventures worth eyeballing. Really, these sagas dealing with Popeye putting up with nonagenarian lookalike dad Poopdeck Pappy's antics or Olive Oyl joining an anti-violence society are so against the grain of 2010's thinking that I can see just why uppity social planners would (had they only the power) want to have alla these old comics banned just because they seem to go against the "get along" grain of current kiddie entertainment and socio-political brainwashing. Yes, the uplifters from those old D.W. Griffith films are up and about in a new guise, and the antiseptic dross that permeates live and culture these days (thanks to these moral and intellectual superiors) makes me wanna latch onto a bunch of these collections, don the ol' raincoat, and hang around schoolyards after dismissal goin' "hey kid, ya wanna buy a real hotcha book???"

And for this kid who spent a lotta time in front of the set watching the POPEYE cartoons that were flooding up the schedule for years (at least until my sister grossed me out by telling me that the famed sailor got his moniker because he had an eye gouged outta him!) and cherished his freebee "March of Comics" POPEYE shoe store giveaway for years on end (I still guffaw over the line where Popeye, seeing a soaked-to-the-bone Olive, mutters "you're all covered with wet!"), this does dredge up the good memories of early pre-socialization days when morn to night was a bigger fun adventure than anything since. It even reverts me to my early days like nothing since Playtex Living Bra commercials, though for some strange reason I can't get anybody to wipe me like I was accustomed to back during those days of worry-free kid-dom. Whassamatta mom, shirking your doody (as well as mine)???

Saturday, August 23, 2014

TOM CARTWRIGHT, MICHAEL INSETTA AND JOHN PLACKO TALK ABOUT STUART'S HAMMER

Yeah I know---yer all SICK AND TIRED of me blabbin' on about just how great of an album the LIVE AT CBGB's double platter was 'n all,. But gosh darn it if I don't still (after thirty-five-plus years) think that set was one  swell slice o' MID AMERIGAN ROCK that featured eight acts who, given the right time 'n opportunity, coulda created a sonic masterpiece of instant cutout $1.99 pleasure to rival the Flamin' Groovies, Hackamore Brick or even the Stooges themselves. Sure the few fanablas who did get signed perhaps on the basis of this album usually ended up making platters that didn't always gel in the rock out department, but the promise, energy and talent were there. And, after all's said and done, why should I blame 'em just because they got a duff producer and got signed to a label that didn't quite know what to do with these types of acts in the first place?

I get the humongously strong feeling that Stuart's Hammer woulda put out a particularly potent set of rockers had they gotten the Big Label treatment, but they didn't and all we have to judge 'em by right now is their sole offering via the CBGB set, the marvelously decadent for its time "Everybody's Depraved". Kinda reminding me of none other'n classic Wayne County, this 'un's got not only the in-tune for the smart set sickoid lyrics ("Everybody's depraved, the whole world over/So take morality and throw it over your shoulder") but a driving mid-seventies punk rock sound that evoked the Velvets, Groovies around the time of FLAMINGO and maybe even some Dictators (!) in a way that represented the heart and soul of mid-Amerigan teenage slob living more'n the top 40 or FM band of the day ever could. It's too bad that Stuart's Hammer didn't get that chance because hey, I sure would have loved to have been combing through the cheap bins of 1978 finding that little gem of an album for a mere $1.99!

Needless to say, the Stuart's Hammer saga needs to be preserved for future generations (and for seventies underground rock obsessives like myself) just like the recordings, sagas and travails of all of our other old time rock faves both noted and otherwise most certainly need to have their tales told. So when I discovered the presence of a Stuart's Hammer (btw the name of the band is a ref. to the E. B. White [of CHARLOTTE'S WEB fame] novel STUART LITTLE!) website more'n a few alarms popped off inside my head to the point where I was contacting just about everyone that group...got in touch with Michael Insetta (bass guitar) who was a tremendous help setting up a few things while group leader and guitarist Jordan Chassan even sent a brief bio. But Tom Cartwright, group guitar and mandolin player, consented to an email interview which follows below. Big heap thanks to not only Cartwright for sharing his memories but Insetta for his help...if it weren't for them you'd probably be reading yet another review of the LIVE AT CBGB's album this week!


You can find photos like this and others (much better reproductions---didn't wanna swipe alla the good stuff even though I did have permission) on Stuart's Hammer's own website where you can also catch up on what's going on in the Stuart's Hammer sphere these days (and there is much!). Believe-you-me, your time will be well-spent perusing the snaps and clippings that are available for your edification.
BLOG TO COMM-Any interesting early musical endeavors of yours we should know about???


TOM CARTWRIGHT-Well, let's see......

In 1964, I begged for a drum set after seeing The Beatles on Ed Sullivan. Many years of garage bands later, I became the drum captain of my high school marching band. Into college, I picked up guitar and mandolin did the usual gigs. Right out of college, I met Mike Insetta over  at Montclair State University and briefly joined up with his band, White Lightning. We both quit upon meeting Jordan Chassan and immediately formed Stuart's Hammer with a chap named Steven Evers. That's my back story!

BTC-White Lightning....was that the same group (sort of Aerosmith/Led Zeppelin inspired) that plated the CBGB Summer Festival in 1975?
TC-I seriously doubt that's the same White Lightning Band - but, hey......some recollections are a little fuzzy these days, eh?

BTC-As for Stuart's Hammer, around when was the band formed?

TC-We first formed in early 1975 - Jordan, Mike, Steve and me. Four piece outfit playing all original music written by Jordan. He had some terrific songs for a young guy! Plus, he was the best non-pro guitarist I had ever met at that point. We rehearsed at Jordan's father's house in Montclair, NJ for years - I remember a lot of complaints from the local police. We got a respectable number of gigs at local bars and college parties. However, the all-original nature of our repertoire was not a strong selling point with the clubs that were transitioning to disco in those days.  In 1976, we realized we needed to expand the talent, so we hired John Placko, a college friend, as our lead singer. That way Jordan could focus more on his song writing. Soon after, we decided that I would switch from drums to guitar and mandolin, and so we brought in Steve Pellegrino on drums. Steve had spent some time out in Colorado playing in a Genesis-type band, but was back in NJ to help out in his father's Pizzeria. Oh, and John Placko worked with Steve as well. They made some wonderful Italian food for us during the days when we were low on dough, believe me. One gig lead to another, and soon we were doing showcases in NYC.     What was the question?

BTC-I get the impression judging from the use of a mandolin that there was a country influence?

TC-Country influence? Oh, yes indeed. The early 70's were packed with "countryish" acts - major acts, like The Eagles, Poco, The Band, The Grateful Dead, etc . We all sort of cut our chops on that  LA Country feeling. I know Jordan was huge admirer of Clarence White and Gram Parsons and all the post-Byrds line-ups. Mike was a great banjo player in addition to bass, and I had dabbled on the mandolin in college doing jug-band stuff ala The Holy Modal Rounders.  We approached the early Stuart's Hammer music more like Electric Hot Tuna meets The Kinks than anything else. It just felt comfortable and was totally unique in the Jersey Club Scene of the day. People either loved us or didn't. Which, I guess, is the first indication that you may be on to something solid. The name CBGB embodies the country, blue grass, blues idea. Hilly was a big fan of any type of urban/folk music - as long as it was totally original. Which we were.  Hilly seemed to recognize our sincerity and was very supportive of our style. In fact, Hilly's daughter Lisa recently mentioned that the appearance  of the electric mandolin was a part of why he invited Stuart's Hammer back after our audition. I remember  a couple reviews of Stuart's Hammer in the local underground press that referred to us a "Country Punk".  I guess we were.

BTC-Speaking of CBGB, when did Stuart's Hammer audition?

TC-When did we audition? Hard to recall......I suppose Mike or Jordan arranged to set us up for a Monday or Tuesday night with a couple other bands. The only thing I recall is that we brought our own PA system, which was huge and heavy. Lucky we had a truck. That plus our discovery that CBGB was the filthiest room we had ever played - or would ever play. OMG, the facilities in the early days were astoundingly awful! The CBGB movie only touches the surface of that issue. Anyway, the beer was plenty and free. I guess we played a good set that night, cause Hilly booked us for a follow-up. There really wasn't "scene" yet at that point. But soon......

BTC-And not too soon after you guys ended up on the LIVE AT CBGB'S album. How did that come about?

TC-I'm not really sure how Stuart's Hammer wound up on the Live at CBGB album. I do recall that one day, I got a call from Jordan, and he said Hilly wanted to have a live recording session and include us as one of the stronger/regular bands. We didn't understand the scope of the project at the time, so we simply did a lot of rehearsing to prepare. I thought we had a good solid set - maybe 8 songs. Anyway, the recording dates were announced, and the bands were divided up between 3 or 4 days when the mobile recording unit could be on site. We did our best and that was that. Later, we heard that a number of the groups that recorded were pulled because major labels wanted to start outside projects with them. At the end, Hilly and his advisers agreed to allow one Stuart's Hammer song on the final recording. Since we had limited resources, lets say, we didn't really have any chance to take advantage of any  post-production or overdubs. "Everybody's Depraved" went down like it was: lean and real. Hilly hooked us up with his lawyer to set up our publishing. Then, the whole project was snapped up by Atlantic, and they did what they wanted.

BTC-Did Stuart's Hammer get any label interest after the CBGB album came out?

TC-No. Nothing. There were a few individuals who showed interest in managing us, but we never got any further. I don't believe we were ever really accepted on the NY scene as it was. We did a lot of shows in and around New York and New Jersey, and a few small tours with some of the CBGB bands that were on the album. Colleges seemed to like our act and we made a little money on that circuit. Believe me, we tried hard to capitalize on the Atlantic Records connection - but the combination of the unstoppable disco surge and the huge British new wave was a lot to contend with. Stuart's Hammer was a great band. We grabbed some good opportunities and I'm sure we missed some, too.

BTC-Speaking of the CBGB LP tours, where did you play

TC-I recall we did a handful of shows with The Laughing Dogs, Mink DeVille, The Shirts and Nicki Buzz and Sun. This was 1976, so there were some outdoors concerts for the Bicentennial that we played. We did a show in Boston, something out on Long Island, and a huge number of colleges. Max's Kansas City, The Other End, The Dirt Club, Kenny's Castaways, Folk City...I don't know....we played a lot of places and made nothing to speak of. That was the New York scene.

BTC-What was the CBGB package tour like? The CBGB book made it out to be a disaster!

TC-I'm sure there were a few CBGB package tours set up around the release of the album. The hype was instantaneous  and I imagine there were a number of good reasons for the CBGB administration to try to cash in. Stuart's Hammer was included on one tour to Long Island - for the bicentennial, and another to Boston for a long weekend  .Also, there was another held out at My Father's Place in Roslyn, NY.   I remember a lot of confusion, sleeping on couches - or wherever, and bad food. If you remember the CBGB moving van from the movie, THAT was what we toured in.  Kind of romantic in a way, but nevertheless uncomfortable. Again, Stuart's Hammer had little to say in the planning of these events - we were along for the ride. Funny thing was - when we were all away on the tours, other acts were booked at CBGB as substitutes. Acts like Tom Petty and The Police. Wonder how those guys ever made out?

BTC-The groups that were playing the clubs back when Stuart's Hammer were around, did you have any favorites? Were there any other acts playing CBGB that were pretty good but never got the attention they deserved?

TC-A list of my personal favorite groups that were playing CBGB in 1975-76 would have to include - Mink DeVille, The Laughing Dogs,  Television, and The Patti Smith Group.  Mink DeVille was a solid, well conceived act with tons of charisma and street appeal.  I made every attempt to get to see their shows. They had a good run of albums and success after their CBGB start, but never really hit it big in the mainstream. Television , too, was a wonderful act that got an early recording contract and had the critics on their side. Tom Verlaine on stage in a small club was about as good as it got for me.  The Laughing Dogs, I will tell you, were probably the finest musicians and songwriters on that scene. They had a strong sense of humor and managed to carry that through into some excellent pop songs. That combined with a musical delivery reminiscent of The Rascals, made them so exciting for me. Again, they had some great albums, but never really got what they deserved. I only saw The Patti Smith Group once, cause she was a standing room only/sold out performer. Between Patti Smith, Talking Heads and The Ramones, you pretty much got everything you expected from CBGBs. Their recorded live performances endure in every media imaginable.

There were dozens and dozens of other one shot groups I got to see while Hilly was "auditioning" them. Some destined to burn out immediately, others pushed on year-after-year, never getting any further than 215 The Bowery. These are the personalities I most identify with. The heart and soul of  underground rock & roll.

BTC-How about Man-ster? Seems that they had a strange cult all their own.
TC-Man-ster, eh? Now they were what I would call a cult band if there ever was one. I was only able to catch their show a few times, but I must say, they were straaaaange indeed. Excellent musicianship, intriguing stage act. Creepy vocals. I think I related to them in the way we were both, while fully qualified and worthwhile, to be just a little outside the CBGB border. If they did develop a following, as you mentioned, I guess they must have released some product over the years. I'll look into that.  Maybe our paths will cross again someday. I hope.

BTC-And what did you think about the other acts on the album like the Shirts, Sun, Mink DeVille, Tuff Darts...

TC-The Shirts had something good going,  not only musically, but visually - with the wildly animated stage  interplay between Annie Golden and Artie. I've listened to their album work, and can't understand why they didn't meet with more success. I remember that Hilly was their manager at the time, and that they were known as the " house band". I hear they are still performing in one way or another in and around NYC. I need to look into that.  Sun was a four man band that sounded like ten. The energy emerging from Nikki Buzz gave me shivers....these guys were ready for the big stage, but, again....what happened? So much of it is just plain luck and opportunity. True then and true now. Mink DeVille and The Laughing Dogs I talked about prior: both were wonderful acts with so much potential. I was so pleased when they both went on to produce some really good album work after CBGB.  Tuff Darts, eh? Now, there was a fully formed, Hollywood-ready ensemble if there ever was one. The finger-wagging songs, the wardrobe, the gangster poses, combined with an air of social defiance rendered them unapproachable. I never met or spoke with anyone associated with Tuff Darts. Ever.  Finally, I must give a big salute to The Miamis - probably the most fun band you could imagine. These guys kicked out the rock and roll like no one's business - and had a thrilling sense of humor to boot. East to listen to, easy to meet and as sincere as pie. Great people and focused artists, even to this day.  There was just so much talent, enthusiasm, and potential in that one little club in 1975, that I can't believe I had the fortune to be a fly on the wall. No offense to the the other flies!

BTC-Did Stuart's Hammer do any studio recordings?

TC-Stuart's Hammer never had the opportunity to do any further studio recording after "Everybody's Depraved". We toured, did some live shows on WFMU  and gigged constantly for a couple of years, and then broke up. Immediately though, Michael, Jordan and myself reformed as "It's The Hendersons", with the addition of Ed Pastorini on vocals and keyboards (Google him - he's had a vast career). Under this new group we did release a single on Uptown Records (Hoboken) - as I recall it was Baby Happy backed by The Merger. Both good pop songs - and, The Merger had some success in England, I'm told.  Michael eventually went off to other projects, and Jordan, Ed and I carried on with a succession of bass players until somewhere in 1981, when Ed started his 10,000 Crusteaceans project, and Jordan formed The Young Hegelians. I became a chimney sweep.

BTC-So, what's up with Tom Cartwright these days?

TC-Me?  I'm still active in music....just finished my fourth solo album - self-published. Once I can get the entire catalog mastered, it's on to Bandcamp. Mike Insetta and I play together a lot - sometimes electric and sometimes acoustic. I still can hold my own on the mandolin, and Mike is an avid banjoist. In fact, here's the real news: Stuart's Hammer has reunited recently and we are going down to Nashville in early June for a recording date at Jordan Chassan's studio. SoundBarn is the name at it features all-vintage analog tape facilities. Jordan has produced some excellent recordings for a variety of artists, and has an extensive reputation in the industry as man you can trust when you're extra fussy about first rate recording.  Let's see what the old country punks can whip out!
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Can't wait to hear that 'un, which I suspect and hope will be every bit as good a straight-out rocker as if it were recorded a good thirty-eight years back!

Anyway, here's a bit via group bassist Michael Insetta (whose cousin Paul Insetta was a songwriter, studio guitarist and manager of Jerry Vale!) telling about the time Stuart's Hammer were mulling over letting a certain someone who would become famous in another artistic realm join the act (as well as some other informative tidbits):

I went to Montclair State College when Bruce Willis was there. He knew me as Banjo Mike as I was playing the 5 string banjo back then, that's how I met Jordan and that's when we decided to form a band doing only original work. Anyway Bruce who we all called " L tone" ( for Elton John because he was always wearing these big sunglasses like Elton John; he also always wear bib overalls), anyway he knew Jordan and I and wanted to audition a singer for our band. This was after we had played awhile I think though it was before we did LIVE AT CBGBs but we were playing in the city. Anyway we had him come up on stage one night to sing and play harp on a couple of songs don't remember what songs they were. Needless to say we didn't take him up on it and the rest as they say is history.


Also have a story about the night at CBGBs we showed up to hang out, it was a Tuesday or Wednesday. Anyway we pull up and there's a big white limo in front. We walk in forgetting who was playing and we see this big black dude walking down the aisle towards the door, bald head and gold earring lolled like a black Mr Clean, no disrespect intended. Anyway a few feet behind him comes this little guy with long black curly hair and a Fu Manchu mustache. Guess who.....Frank Zappa checking out the place

How about the night when I met Alex Chilton after I told Hilly that the first song I had ever learned to play on the guitar was "The Letter" which of course Alex sang lead on when he was sixteen. Couldn't believe I was meeting the guy. This occurred after the album came out. Or the fact that I found out that Lisa Kristal and I both grew up in North Bergen and went to the same schools and had a lot of common friends. I was one or two years ahead of her and had no idea. It was only after we started chatting ( she was a real big fan like her dad of us as well as the Laughing Dogs, she took a lot if pictures of us back then) that we found this out and we became really good friends 
Or the fact we were pretty good friends with Fred Smith from Television and Terry Ork rest his soul was a fan of ours and wanted to produce and record "Everybody's Depraved" but we were already committed to Hilly and the album.
And before we go, here are a few just under the wire reminiscences from group singer John Placko!


1. Mike (bass) was sharing an apartment with a bunch of guys. It became a hangout because it was over a bar. I was friends with Tom (Rhythm) who sometime hung out there so I sometimes hung out there too. Steve, who became the drummer, & I worked together in his father's pizzeria. So, Steve & I went over there after work, ~ midnight, and hung out. That's how Steve got into the band. Then later, I somehow got sucked into the band too.

2. Once outside CBGBs I was having a cigarette and just hangin' when this guy comes up to me to bum a butt. He decides to go inside and asks me to watch his bike (chopper). Just before he goes in he turns and shows me this gun stuffed in his belt and says to come get him if anyone fucks with his bike. Needless to say this Jersey kid was scared shitless.

3. One performance at CBGBs I screamed before an instrumental and slide off stage on my knees. As I got up, there was Willy DeVille laughing his ass off and he said to me "man that was great". That might not sound like a big deal but the weird thing was he said it in a normal voice. Why so weird, every other time I heard him talking to people (his fans) he had this high whinny voice.

4. We were booked with some of the other CBGBs regulars at My Father's Place in Long Island. Before our show, the entire place was packed because there was this free concert being put on by the local radio station. After the concert ended they made the entire place empty out and if they wanted to see our show they had to pay to get in. So instead of having, I don't know, maybe 500 people, we had like around 50. Imagine the beer they could have sold.

5. We were booked with some of the other CBGBs regulars at Hot Dog Beach in Long Island. The other bands had management so they had hotels. We had no management so we were allowed to sleep in a barn with the roadies. Ain't fame grand.
Need anything else, oh rabid followers of seventies underground esoterica???