Tuesday, March 20, 2018


When the wave of Italian-made Peplum films were being marketed in the US in the 60’s and into the early 70’s, they were aimed to some extent at a juvenile audience, or in a broader sense at a family audience. In fact, those of you who frequent junk stores or flea markets can still find for a dollar or so old VHS tapes and public domain DVD’s of Peplum films that had a Christian element in the plot (persecuted Christians, etc.) and were marketed at the evangelical American “family” market. I’ve seen copies of THE OLD TESTAMENT with Brad Harris, PONTIUS PILATE with John Drew Barrymore (as Judas, of course), and maybe 7 or 8 others aimed at that audience, spilling out of the budget bins along with cheesy Bible-related documentary videos. Another element that connected with the juvenile/family audience was the “storybook” aspect. Some historical films featured violence, brutality, sexual intrigue, political elements, and the like, which would engage the adult audience, but some tended to have a kind of generic storybook feel, as if some children’s fairytale/adventure book came alive on the screen, with larger than life hero characters who were non-threatening, bad guys who were cartoonish, female characters who could be the princess in a fairy tale, etc. These kind of Peplum films were perfect for Saturday or Sunday afternoon TV showings, for 16mm showings at churches or public libraries, for Saturday or Sunday children’s matinees, etc. You would not find, say, a historical adventure starring Cameron Mitchell as some tortured military leader facing complex adult Shakespearean personal crises in these settings; you WOULD find something like the Steve Reeves version of THE THIEF OR BAGDAD or MORGAN THE PIRATE, or the Tab Hunter vehicle THE GOLDEN ARROW, or the film under review today, VENGEANCE OF URSUS, starring Canadian bodybuilder/actor SAMSON BURKE.

Of course, Burke would have already had juvenile fans in the US by the time this film played TV in the mid-60s, because after VENGEANCE OF URSUS, he starred in THE THREE STOOGES MEET HERCULES. When Stooges producer (and Moe’s son-in-law) Norman Maurer decided to cast Burke in the Stooges film, one wonders if URSUS was the film he screened to make that decision. There would have been a lot of North American bodybuilder-actors available to play that role in the Stooges film, but Burke was an amazing physical specimen AND someone who had a commanding presence…..AND someone who came across as warm and kind. A three-year-old (and I’ve got a grandson who is three going on four, so I can attest to this STILL being true!) could look up to Samson Burke and admire his strength but at the same time expect that Mr. Burke might give him a hug or a glass of chocolate milk when the scene was over. Not everyone has that quality—Samson Burke does, at least in this film and the Stooges film. You get the sense that if he would corner a villain, he would not crush him to death or put a spear through him—he’d pick him up, as if picking up a can of soda, set him down, and give him a Mister Rogers style lecture about being a good person and thinking about others’ feelings. Ursus even has a juvenile sidekick here—his little brother to whom he is a kind father-figure—so it’s got the same juvenile “viewpoint character” for the young audience members you’d find in many serials and adventure TV shows aimed at children.

For those of us who are children-at-heart and not literally children (EDITOR'S NOTE---I am a fetus at heart!), the film has a lot more to offer than just being warm and family-friendly. Director Luigi Capuano has an impressive filmography in the historical adventure genre, and I’ve seen and enjoyed at least a dozen of his films, including TERROR OF THE RED MASK with Lex Barker, ZORRO IN THE COURT OF SPAIN (aka THE MASKED CONQUEROR) with George Ardisson, THE EXECUTIONER OF VENICE with Guy Madison, and TWO films with the great Gordon Scott: ZORRO AND THE THREE MUSKETEERS and the phenomenal LION OF ST. MARK. Capuano always manages to use existing scenery in fresh ways, to photograph landscapes to make them look full of grandeur, to keep the films moving, and to get the best out of his lead actors. He seems to sense their strongest or most distinctive qualities, and to direct them and film them in order to highlight those qualities. He clearly “gets” what Samson Burke has to offer and tailors the film to that. So it’s both an impressive looking film, especially in a sparkling widescreen print, and the actors look impressive and are impressively filmed and blocked.

We’ve also got two of the best villain actors in the Peplum genre here. GIANNI RIZZO (the stocky man pictured) is always wonderful in Nero-like roles, where he is foppish, petulant, and greedy (his picture should be next to the word “sniveling” in the dictionary), while LIVIO LORENZON  is always convincing in a brutal role. Long before I knew the names of the supporting actors in Peplum films, when I would watch them on a small black and white TV on a UHF station as a child, I knew these men by sight. With their unique presence and their commanding acting styles, you could dub them into any language, and they would still communicate quite clearly.

The copy of the film I have on DVD-R is what’s called a “fan dub.” In this case, someone has taken a beautiful Italian letterboxed version of the film and edited English dialogue from an American 16mm TV print into it. Most of the time, this works smoothly. On some occasions, though (I’ve read where the Alpha Video and the Sinister Cinema versions of the film both are choppy and with a lot of small splices/cuts….and also that the Alpha copy is horrible visually and not worth even a dollar or two), where there are a few words missing in English due to splices in the American print, the film awkwardly cuts back into Italian in mid-sentence, and then back to English again….and you can hear the lines “punched in” with differing background sounds. Fortunately, that happens most in the first five minutes and then it’s over (and you’ve gotten used to it). There is a bit of untranslated Italian, but it’s clear from context what’s happening. These few quibbles are worth it to get such an impressive widescreen copy, though.

This film also has nothing to do with the previous Italian URSUS film starring Ed Fury, or with any other Ursus film which came after. In some territories (Germany, for instance) it was dubbed as a Hercules film. You can see the film for free (as of this writing) on You Tube. Just look for the version that’s in widescreen and has the PEPLUM TV logo on it. If your inner 8 year old is crying out for a dubbed sword and sandal epic on some rainy Sunday afternoon, VENGEANCE OF URSUS is what you’ve been looking for.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Well, happy St. Patrick's Day to youse and yourse, this being a day that really isn't turning out too hot for me ever since I woke up about three in the morning to turn the crock pot with the corned beef and cabbage on then, after waking up for good much later, discovered that the outlet I plugged the pot into wasn't working one bit! Well, I guess we'll have to wait until midnight to get to our vittles but eh, them's the breaks. Well, I still am keeping in tradition with this ever-popular day since I'm turning GREEN thanks to the extra-powerful laxative I took yesterday which seems to not wanna stop working, which was another reason I was up half the night with a case of the dam about to break right into my shorts unless I got to the nearest forest preserve outpost and like pronto! Yes, sometimes the expected nudge does turn into a grand PUSH, ifyaknowaddamean... Fortunately no skiddage has occurred meaning that I didn't have to throw my undies into the wash and wear 'em out even more than they are. Gotta be extra-thrifty these days lest I miss out on the next boffo recording to make its way to Forced Exposure Mailorder.
SO WHAT HAVE I BEEN DOING THESE PAST SEVEN OR SO EARTHSPINS ANYWAY... Well, for one thing I've been trying to have THE TIME OF MY LIFE, but then again I'm always trying to do that. Lessee what else??? Howzbout goin' on line and trying to download every decent looking seventies-era rock 'n roll fanzine I can find posted, that's what! As you all know, the quality of fan-oriented/gonzo rock screeding was at such a HIGH back in those so-called "halcyon" times, or at least compared with the garbage one finds in print or on the web these days, that even the cheapest "crudzine" of them dayze seemed to have so much more energy, excitement and va-VOOM packed into it than most of the mewls one comes across in print or on-line in the here and now. And man do I mean it...even my own scuzz falls short in comparison and I am ashamed if I do say so myself!

Anyhoo I've been strolling through Tumbir and various blogs looking for old fanzines and I am glad to say that I've found quite a few good 'un's including the first issue of SIDEBURNS (later the long-running STRANGLED) and UP + COMING, a nice low-fi crankout dedicated to the idea that punk rock was just as much Lew Lewis and the Darts as it was the Jam and Eddie and the Hot Rods (there's even a plug for Charles Gillett's country, rockabilly and blues radio program in these pages!). I even managed to print up a copy of AWAY FROM THE NUMBERS, Brian BAM BALAAM Hogg's "new wave" fanzine which lasted about the span of a flea just like most of these early and proud efforts. Pretty good reading which really does make for a welcome change from the sterile, academic and positively dour opinions that one has found in the everyday hypesheet copying rock critic-ing world for the past fortysome years.
NANCY bondage pic, dedicated to Don Fellman.
I HATE TO BREAK THE BAD NEWS TO YOU, but in my capacity as the town crier for the suburban slob stuck in the electronic age set I feel it's my doody to let you know that, for all intent purposes the infamous and BTC-approved comic strip NANCY IS NO MORE!!! Not that the thing really has been anything hotcha since the demise of creator Ernie Bushmiller back '82 way (or at least since the days when his health began catching up to him in the late-seventies), but from now on United Features or whatever name the syndicate is now using will be sending old strips to your local newspaper in the same manner that PEANUTS, HENRY, ARCHIE, THE KRAUTSARESCRAMMIN KIDS and other long-gone faves have been recycled for a much longer time than any of us can imagine. In many ways this might be akin to you hearing that Aunt Margaret who's been hooked up to machines for the past thirty years has finally passed on, but still it does bring upon a certain PANG (and I don't mean May) seeing that the suburban slob past that I've been so desperately trying to cling to for ages is once again falling apart rapidly before my clouded up eyeballs. That's something I just don't NEED to in these edgier than thou times I'll tell ya, but alas it is all too true.
R.I.P. TO ELEKTRAH LOEBEL,  the early Falling Spikes/pre-Velvet Underground member who passed on last year but I just found out. Also one to Stephen Hawking though in this case how could they tell??? Oh yeah, his nurse probably discovered that his diaper hadn't been soiled in the last three weeks. (I know, I should talk given my own gaseous eruptions these past twennysome hours!!!)
RECORDINGS OF NOTE (AND NOT) THAT I SPUN THIS WEEK INCLUDE---THE NIGHT GALLERY (Various Artists, Alchemy Records Japan) which proves that the Japanese were always good at imitating Western Accomplishment (in this case the Velvet Underground) though in this case they manage to rise above the myth that their emulation is hollow copy and come up with some of the better Velvets cops in sound and feeling heard since at least the late-seventies, WOODY'S TRUCK STOP (who cares if the only reason they're remembered is because Todd Rundgren was a member for a short spell!), Bile Svetlo-DELNICI BILEHO SVETLA, otherwise known as STRICTLY PERSONAL, PRAGUE-STYLE, THE ROCKETS (the White Whale guys who "evolved" into Crazy Horse), Throbbing Gristle-THE SECOND ANNUAL REPORT (surprisingly calming to my weary and battered senses...and along with the NIGHT GALLERY people above more of my idea of what the spawn of the Velvet Underground shoulda sounded like instead of...I dunno, REM???), Lord Buckley-A MOST IMMACULATELY HIP ARISTOCRAT (I should hate it considering the people out there who like Buckley, but...) and Ornette Coleman's DANCING IN YOUR HEAD (harmelodic funk jazz that set the stage for some really interesting early-eighties efforts that came from sidemen Ronald Shannon Jackson and Bern Nix). Sheesh, I guess my week does beat your minute, or something like that (duh!).

NOW will you consider me the complete man with tastes more impeccable than thou???
Ernesto Diaz-Infante-THE LOVERS ESCAPE/LOS AMANTES ESCAPAN CD-r (Kendra Steiner Editions)

Odd strains of nylon guitar plucks, strums and chords, seemingly played in a random fashion without any rhyme or reason I can find. Actually the resultant sounds are quite nerve-soothing, sorta in the same way herbal dolts throughout the eighties slipped on the once-infamous Windham Hill label after a hard day at the commune. In fact I feel like slipping into a coma right about now... Definitely nothing that your typical Michael Hedges fan would want to cozy up with but hey, we're not exactly the kind of people who would even think of spinning that guy's musical moosh in the first place, comprende?
Dead Moon-LIVE AT SATYRICON CD-r burn (originally on Voodoo Doughnut Records)

Yeah there was a lotta dross goin' around in the underground rock world of the eighties and nineties, but sometimes I forget that there was a lotta high-energy, upper-echelon music to contend with as well. Dead Moon were definitely part of the latter batch and this live album (in front of a rather unappreciative audience---t'would figure) is just more proof of the group's utter superiority in a world of "classic" rock and the worst aspects of mind-numbed teendom being pandered to. Dead Moon sound punk rock in the purest fashion possible while they even hit the heavy metal realm if you're game to the classic CREEM definition of the term. In other words, Andy Secher, go take a shit! Your head needs emptying just so's some REAL KNOWLEDGE about the music you claim to champion can enter into the rather sparse cranial capacity. A classic slice of rock 'n roll as tension by an act that never did get the kind of attention or accolades they most certainly deserved. As if they ever would.
Ornette Coleman-ORNETTE AT 12/CRISIS CD-r burn (originally on Impulse Records)

I'm only posting this review in the here and now 'stead of in my year end roundup of "more familiar" albums that I've played throughout the past 365 if only to prove to Bob Forward that I AM NOT AN INGRATE AND YES I DO LISTEN TO THE BURNT CD-R'S THE MAN SENDS ME!!!!! Mr. F, I do hope this proves to you that I'm pure of heart even if I'm still working on the Hy Maya platters (maybe I better get an actual hard copy of this one for pure listening enjoyment, and for the much-needed liner notes as well). Anyway both of these late-sixties efforts are whatcha'd call top notch and pretty much in the standard Coleman catalog of flat out free splurt, and there are some rather exhilarating moments to contend with as well (especially on CRISIS closer "Trouble in the East" where Don Cherry's Indian flute pretty much takes over the entire tensed up shebang!). Heck, I'll even give a pass to noted communist Charlie Haden's "Song For Che" even if the subject at hand was a psychopath who used to shoot children and cave people's heads in with shovels (they only like him because he looked dashing with that long hair 'n all...if he looked like ME do you think anyone would be wearing t-shirts with his picture on it???).
K. O. BOSSY CD-r burn (originally on Toya Records)

Are they trying to be the Band or Little Feat? Can't tell right offhand, but despite their early-seventies nauseating hippoid look I will admit that there are a few fairly nice poppers here. Y'know, stuff that, had it appeared alongside some totally crazed hard-edged rockers woulda made this a top notch flea market find of yore. Otherwise this comes off like more Boone's Farm Apple Wine guzzlin' music for the folk sittin' around on the front porch at the commune trying to absorb the meaning of somethingorother, usually while under the influence of somethingorother come to think of it. Awwwww...you may like it.
Frank Sinatra-SHADOWS IN THE NIGHT CD-r burn (originally on O'Reilly Rools Records)

For a change of pace, here's that "older generation" star who could teach the hippoids a two or thing as far as decadent behavior goes. Obviously some sorta bootleg featuring the gloppier of Sinatra's recorded output, this li'l spinner sure does have most everything recorded after say, 1985, beat all hollow. However, why is it when I listen to Sinatra's booming baritone on these definitive "suckem squeezers" I have the urge to beat someone up, or slash some rare painting in a total rage, or have a bacon and eggs breakfast using some bare-chested young lass for a blue plate special that eventually turns red? Ya got me bub.

Who woulda known that Dayton Ohio could be such an exciting place! Well, judging from these acts who popped up on the local Alco record label the burgh really did have its share of high-energy rockin' and rollin' back in them mid-sixties days. Sonny Flaherty and his Young Americans go total British Invasion scream (at least filtered through mid-Amerigan sensibilities) on a rather radical version of "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On" while Tom and the Tempests are goin' into overdrive with their double header "It's Over Now"/"Play It Cool". The Jaguars are almost hitting the same strata (but kinda dip a bit) on their "Wonder Why"/"The Metropolitan" sides (the flip is a rather straight ahead instrumental that's well...not up to the usual BTC standards but wha' th' hey?) and as for Private Eddie Lloyd and his post-Elvis "Walk It Off" all I gotta say is...NO MORE LATRINE DUTY FOR YOU!!!!!
Tony Joe White-THE TRAIN I'M ON CD-r burn (originally on Warner Brothers Records)

Remember Tony Joe White? He's the guy who hit big with "Polk Salad Annie" and the blacks bought his record up thinking he was of the same complexion only to find out he was white thus dropping him like a hot potato! Don't worry Tony Joe, the same thing happened to Frankie Laine!

But eh, this is a better than you woulda thought platter with some of that Deep South hoodoo music coupled with the usual slow schmoozers and an overall gruffness, thanks to White's growl-y vocalese no doubt. If you liked the swamp styled soul of "Polk Salad" you'll probably enjoy the variety of tunes to be found on this 1972 offering. Just don't let the occasional strings slip you into a diabetic coma.

Another "Virtual Thrift Store" item (which I guess is better than a "Virtue Signalling" one) to cherish and behold. Other'n an interesting r 'n b single I know nada about this disque contains a whole slew of not only radio ads but some spot announcements by Gary Owens from LAUGH IN that I gotta admit were funnier than the actual show itself! The ads, mostly for gas stations and beer, really do bring back those late-sixties/early-seventies days before the energy crisis when your local Esso or Gulf seemed like such a fun place to fill 'er up, while the ads for Miller and other adult imbibibations recall those days of youth when I (and many others I would guess) just couldn't wait to grow up and try some of that stuff thinking it was like super soda pop 'r something along those lines! And remember the look on our faces when we finally tried some? Well at least Hoppin' Gator was a good place to start! Oh yeah, and there's an ad where Gary Puckett and the Union Gap endorse Pepsa Cola which only reminds me that Coke might have cost more, but at least they didn't have Gary Puckett pluggin' 'em!
IN CLOSING, here's a picture I copped off NICHOLAS STIX UNCENSORED that I thought was so funny it deserved additional circulation. I guess there is hope for the suburban slobs of this world of ours if our chillun can think up somethin' like this. Makes me feel good in the bread basket, y'know?

Thursday, March 15, 2018


Let me take a brief break from the comics and moom pitchers for at least this week just so's I can concentrate my mental synapses on this li'l beauty. Considering that I never was whatcha'd call a fan of fiction or books without pretty pictures to look at for that matter this post is indeed a rare occurrence and who knows, perhaps it is the seeds of a new, more dignified and intellectual BLOG TO COMM we can all look forward to and cherish as the years slug on. Y'know, a blog that is less concerned with the more "trivial" affairs of my personal music/art/funzies background, concentrating on the better, more pure aspects of humankind leading us all on that brave path towards a world where we can all frolic hand-in-hand while gazing in adoration at marble statues of Neil DeGrasse Tyson. Sheesh, I'm starting to make myself sick.

Well, this title doesn't lie for SCIENCE FICTION FOR PEOPLE WHO HATE SCIENCE FICTION sure is a good selection of short stories taken straight from those infamous and stack of ten for a dollar magazines of yore, all crammed into a nice and cheap (at least back then) paperback that you can polish off in a few days if you so wish. Not only that but all the big names inna game are here as well as a few I and perhaps you won't be familiar with but that's cool. After all, I look upon those lesser beings in the SF world as being the Seeds and Sonics to the Beatles and Stones of Arthur C. Clarke and Ray Bradbury and although they're all so cool and hip and all but sheesh, I gotta say that I ultimately prefer the Seeds and Sonics and like, maybe you will like the bubbling unders just as much as I do.

Some of this material may be familiar to you such as Clarke's "The Star", a piddling piece of thinly-disguised humanist angst that was later re-written for that new TWILIGHT ZONE series I tried to fool myself into liking oh so long ago. Bradbury fares much better with "A Sound of Thunder" which once again deals with how one insignificant act in the past (kinda/sorta discussed in last week's KID ETERNITY review) could upset the entire course of the future which makes me wonder if had someone say, not farted at a certain time a few thousand or so years back a domino effect of a much different variety resulting in a vastly alien to what we know destiny would have occurred. I mean, say if that fart had happened at a slightly different time who knows, maybe Dave Lang wouldn't have been born at all which would have set our civilization on a much healthier course!

Even the lesser-knowns here put out a few good 'un's including H.C. Gold's "The Man With English" dealing with sensory patch crossovers the kind that would become more common with the advent of LSD 025 a good ten-plus years after this saga was written. Edmond Hamilton's "What's It Like Out There?" relays the tale of a meteor-shocked astronaut returning from a Mars mission having seen and done a whole load of particularly hellish things that one could hardly call romantic. And believe it or don't but these tales hold up especially for a guy like me whose head is stuck in the pre-hippie era of fun and jamz, with only the William Shiras tale entitled "In Hiding" "lazing out" as Patrick Amory would so lovingly put it. Oh it starts out rather enticingly and all, but this tale of post-Atomic Age mutation just reeks of the whole X-Men-styled persecution hype that seemed to (and still does!) run rampant amongst our more "enlightened" brethren of a bleed-heart variety. If you'll only substitute "mutant" for whatever choice cause protected class warms the cockles of your heart you might get an idea of where this tale eventually ends up at. Maybe I'm making it sound worse than it really is (I mean, it ain't BAD as in horrific), but nowadays when I see my betters making excuses for the evil behavior of others who just happen to be "different" you know my bullshit detector's clicking way more than a Geiger Counter in Hiroshima ever could.

Actually the only reason I bought this book was because of the inclusion of Robert Heinlein's "The Year of the Jackpot" which is a tale that, although originally published in 1952, really seems to sum up the sicker than sick state of affairs that seems to be permeating Everywhere USA if not the world these sad 'n sorry days. The opening scene tells it all...at a bus stop in downtown El Lay some gorgeous young gal all of a sudden starts taking her clothes off. She's straight down to beaver when a cop comes over and starts hassling her to get dressed while a transvestite couple (women dressed as man and vice versa) in turn start giving the cop a hard time at which point the gendarme gives up and hands that now raincoated femme over to a mid-aged statistician named Potiphar Breen. It seems that loony things like public nudity, transvestism and overall abnormal behavior are beginning to coalesce at a rather accelerating pace and the math-minded logarithmic-studying behavior-arc watching sunspot-counting Breen has come to the conclusion that all of this outlandishness will tally up into the biggest jackpot of all, mainly the ultimate cash-in-the-chips of all eternity that people have been predicting for ages but now seems so inevitable....

Now if I was a ten-year-old kid reading this you can bet I'd be hiding under the bed right now, but given all of the doomsday drivel that has been pushed at me ever since I was a mere tyke I can take it all in stride. But sheesh, seeing some of the weirdities that are going on as I type this out sometimes I just wonder...

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

COMIC BOOK REVIEW BY BILL SHUTE! DANGER #16 (Super Comics, 1964 available via Golden Age Reprints)

During my junior high/senior high years, I lived right behind the Jefferson County Fairgrounds, so as a 14 year old, I was able to earn pocket money there doing odd jobs such as working in horse stables, cleaning up after midget car races, putting up or taking down temporary fences, etc., but my first REAL job was as a 15 year old (you could work at age 15 in Colorado) at the Burger King on West Colfax, near the western edge of Lakewood and the unincorporated parts of the county. I lived a few miles west of there in Golden. My high school, Golden High School, had what was called a “modular schedule,” meaning it was like a college schedule, where you would take one class two days a week for ninety minutes, another class three days a week for fifty minutes, etc. The end result was that I had to attend high school only two and a half days a week, and I also actually got school credit for working at Burger King. Thus I was able to open the store myself (they did not serve breakfast back in those days….we opened at 10:30 a.m…so I would show up at about 7:30 a.m. to “open”) a few days a week and had a key and would handle the bread deliveries, etc., before the alcoholic manager (who was a great guy!) came in around 9.

The daytime crew consisted of a mix of people—high school students such as myself, along with people who’d dropped out of high school and worked full time to pay for their Firebird or Camaro, and some older people in their late 20’s or 30’s, who were re-entering the job market or who just preferred a low-stress, relatively easy job. Yes, it was demanding during rush hours, but it took no thought and you could do it in your sleep. Back then (this policy was changed decades ago, unfortunately), you could also get ANYTHING on the menu free if you worked at least a four-hour shift, and that would include a double-meat Whopper, large fries, a shake, etc. If you worked an eight-hour shift, you could get a full meal during your break and then a smaller sandwich later, so some of these folks, myself included, would have TWO meals a day at Burger King and really would not have to buy much food at home. Although I was probably the youngest person there, I found myself becoming friendly with and chatting with the older employees more than my fellow high school students. They were far more interesting and had far more life experience—I could actually learn something from them, and since some of the other teenagers kind of looked down on them for having to work at Burger King as an adult, they appreciated the fact that I appreciated them.

I especially remember two of the ladies who worked there….both probably in their early-to-mid 30’s…quite well. One was named Della, freckled and with dark red hair, and I hit it off with her immediately when within the first two days of my meeting her she casually dropped the name Bo Diddley in conversation. Turns out she must have owned a dozen Bo albums, and she was also a blues fan. Life is SO much more enjoyable when you are working alongside someone who knows who Billy Boy Arnold is, who knows what is meant by “an Elmore James riff,” and who can compare Roy Buchanan albums at length and quote the monologue from “The Messiah Will Come Again” (from Roy’s first Polydor album) from memory with just the right pauses and inflections. As I remember, she was also heavily into the films of Terence Hill and Bud Spencer. Not only had she seen each of the Trinity films multiple times, she’d also seen films they’d done separately, when they’d hit a local drive-in or show up on late night TV. I can’t tell you how much that impressed me! She had a great sense of humor about everything and was always the voice of calm and reason during a heavy lunch rush or when things started to fall apart. She had two children who were at elementary school while she worked lunches, and her husband had a good job as a master electrician or plumber or whatever, so she worked more to get out of the house than for the money.

The other lady I remember was named Diana. While Della worked in the kitchen alongside the rest of us guys, Diana worked the counter, so I never really got the chance to chat with her while working much, except when the store was empty in the early afternoon after lunch and before people got off work, and of course on our breaks. Because she was working the front counter and with customers, and also because she was the kind of person who paid attention to her appearance, she did wear make-up to work, did her hair, etc. She was a blonde and teased her hair out to make it thicker and fuller, and she had her hair in the style of what the female lead in a 1967 Elvis movie would have had. This being 1974-75, that was a bit out of date, but she worked it well. She also drove a lime-green 1968 Ford Mustang, which impressed me. As I remember, she had a soft Southern accent and might have been from Tennessee or some state along the Mason-Dixon line. She had the kind of generous legs and thighs you’d see in a Robert Crumb artwork and usually wore relatively sheer white stretch-pants with her Burger King uniform top. When she went out into the restaurant to take out the trash or stock the napkin-holder, the male customers surely noticed her.

I would often chat with her over lunch breaks, and because I was not someone who would ever potentially be hitting on her or wanting to date her, she was quite open with me. She was certainly a person of discretion, though, and a very classy individual, with the kind of inner resolve that comes from a poor background. She had a daughter in junior high, and she was supporting them solely through the Burger King job. She worked hard every day, sought extra hours when she could get them, and was really a pro. I admire people who take their job seriously and try to represent well the company that pays them. They shared a small apartment, and she actually slept on a fold-out bed in the living room, with her daughter getting the bedroom. She had a lot of life experience, and I learned a lot about dysfunctional families and divorce and child custody and that sort of thing from her. She’d also been a cocktail waitress at some sleazy lounge over on East Colfax, and that had been her job prior to Burger King. Sometimes I could tell that she wanted to be alone during her break—she was considered haughty by some of the employees, so they would avoid her—and of course some days we did not work at the same time, so on those days I’d often bring a comic book to read over my lunch break or my second break were I working a long shift. I also noticed that on some days she would sit with an older customer, maybe in his late 60s or early 70s. He would come during down-times when we weren’t crowded, so he could linger at the counter and chat with her. I also noticed that he would come around the time of her post-lunch break, so after he’d ordered his food and eaten it, she’d come out on break, and she’d allow him to come sit with her.

I’d be sitting across the dining room, also on my break, stuffing my face with my free double-meat and double-cheese Whopper, and reading some cheap comic book I got used for next to nothing. A comic book is a comic book—who cares if it’s new or three years old? I certainly did not. And making just over the minimum wage, I certainly did not want to waste much of that precious money on full-priced comics that I’d read once and then toss into a box in the basement, to be re-discovered five years later and re-read. Something like DANGER #16 was exactly what satisfied me then (as it does now, 40 years later)—a random assemblage of older comics from fly-by-night publishers, thrown together for the low-end of the comics market by Israel Waldman’s I.W. Comics/Super Comics, which we discussed last year in a few reviews here (I reviewed Danger #15 in the 6 December 2016 entry here at BTC). Super Comics was the comics equivalent of a budget label. Old product no one cared about was re-purposed to fill books to sell at cut-rate prices in multi-packs at low-end stores in poor neighborhoods or to be moved through the murky used-periodical marketplace. Before the internet and the amazing websites such as the Grand Comics Database, I had no idea what old comics were being foisted off upon me in something like DANGER. Yes, the stuff looked old, but publishers such as Charlton re-used old material too, so I didn’t really know or care as long as it wasn’t something I’d read within the last year. This particular issue has a mind-bending combination of failed super-heroes (Yankee Girl), funny animal stories, crime stories, and a group of patriotic adolescents who right wrongs against our nation called the “Young Americans,” another failed concept from the past which no doubt dated back to the post-World War II era.

Something as cheap and random as DANGER somehow was the perfect complement to my life as I would glance over at Diana and the older man and see her brushing her hand against him. At first, I thought it might have been her father or her uncle or something, but no uncle would look at his niece the way he did, and while I’ve hugged relatives before, I never did caress them, the way she did him.

I knew not to ask who he was, whenever we’d chat. I did notice, though, that on some occasions he’d slip her something in a small envelope or wrapped in a folded piece of paper, and on other occasions, she’d give him a small bag with something in it. They’d meet maybe once a week, and this went on for maybe six months. It clearly wasn’t a drug transaction.

Near the end of that period, during the down time after lunch and before dinner, I’d been called out one day to the dining room area to clean up after someone who’d vomited all over the floor (he or she should have known better than to order one of our YUMBOS, the microwaved ham-and-cheese sandwiches BK was pushing at that time), and I had to go right past the booth where the two of them were sitting. He did not see me coming as I approached from his rear, and when I got near the table I saw him slip her, inside a folded piece of paper, what must have been three or four twenty-dollar bills. She saw me observe this, established eye contact with me, and I moved on, looking forward and acting oblivious. I cleaned up the mess, washed up, and went back to work. That afternoon, after she finished her shift, she came back to the walk-in freezer, where I was pulling frozen meat to thaw for the dinner shift, and where she knew we’d be private, walked over to me, and said in a very straightforward and business-like manner, “he’s widowed…he’s lonely…no one is being hurt…I have a child to feed and clothe and house on this cheap-ass salary….it’s just like getting a tip.” She smiled, turned around, departed, and left me to my work in the walk-in.

Obviously, this was never mentioned again, and I really don’t know why she felt the need to inform me….because it actually raised more questions than it answered.

She eventually moved on to another job that paid more….in an insurance office, as I remember. We remained friendly at work, but I always kept away when she’d meet the older man. Some weeks after Diana left, I mentioned the older man to Della, in between her conversations about Bo Diddley or Bud Spencer or different lineups of John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers. Evidently, Diana had told Della, woman to woman, what was going on, and then Della told me. The older man would tip Diana $20 or 30 to sit with him for 5 or 10 minutes and she’d touch his hand once or twice and rub her leg against his. Then once a month or so, she’d give him a pair or two of soiled panties in a bag, and he’d give her $60 or $70 for that. They never met outside of Burger King, and she never even told him her real last name.

One morning around that period, some strident Libertarian who waited at the same bus stop where I waited, pontificated about how “every area of your life, including your personal life, is a marketplace.” He was probably right.

No one was hurt. They both got what they wanted and needed. Like Super Comics product and like life, it was tacky, random, and temporarily satisfying as long as you didn’t think about it too much. And then you moved on.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Hey readers, do you really wanna know what the weather is like out here in the Tri-State area? Do you in any wayshapeform care about some unbeknownst to you detail from my life, or what I think about a certain person or my opinions on everything from tariffs to gun control? Of course you do, I mean why else would you wanna tune into this blog anyway other'n to live vicariously through my various beliefs and antics?

But I won't do any blabbing along those lines. Well, at least not this week because I'd rather get right to the matter at hand, mainly music. And goodness gracious if you can believe it I actually got to listen to a nice juicy hunk of good stuff this week as the following writeups will most certainly attest to, and not only do I have to thank myself for latching on to some of these items but I must the likes of Bill Shute and Paul McGarry for their various platters that swung by my way. I'd thank Bob Forward as well only I didn't get to any of his this time. Well not exactly...I will 'fess up to the fact that I did spin part of the Hy Maya effort but eh, I gotta admit that I didn't think that much of it because it was a tad too electronic bedroom music-y for my tastes! But, being the total coward so self-conscious and concerned with what other people think about me and my opinions kinda guy that I am, I will listen to and re-listen to it until I actually break down and LIKE the thang! I mean, what other way can I keep my standing as one of the few true blue thinking man's kinda geniuses there are left in the world today?
As far as my personal fave pre-beddy bye spins go, this week's snoozer-time award goes the platter that is really throwing my lobes for a loop just HASTA be the 13th Floor Elevators' HEADSTONE effort that came out on the International Artists/Charly label quite a few years back. In a field which has included some hefty "mind-expanding" (hee!) competition this 'un's the hands-down fave around these parts and for more'n OBVIOUS reasons if I do say so myself. I always need to get a good dose of the Elevators into my system when things are down and bloozey, and this particular package (containing the entire Contact Records sessions plus live rarities of varying sound quality) really does fill the bill when it comes to getting some much-needed psychedelic resensification around here. Sheesh, given just how great these tracks are I guess I better do some digging and try to unearth more Elevator rarities lest I meet up with the same fate that befell all of those people who wanted to see Roky Erickson and company nailed to the wall for their lysergic excursions ifyaknowaddamean. Or as the late Don Waller once so succinctly put it, "Reality is for people who can't face drugs"!!!
Some good news on the tee-vee front...the cable (yech...but what choice do I got?) "Insp" network is running the early hour-long GUNSMOKE episodes on Saturday nights which is at least one good reason to keep me off the streets and out of trouble! After being inundated with the later-on color episodes which really don't strike at the heart of the matter (the matter being high-energy intense television) these early-sixties GUNSMOKEs really do pack a whole lotta the classic tee-vee energy that seemed to seep away once the boffo earlier portion of that decade began to seep into a banality it took quite awhile to crawl out of. Caught a good one last week with none other than Uncle Joe/Billy himself Edgar Buchanan as a bank robber who saves the life of a young Matt Dillon then uses the favor a good two decades later to his own thievin' advantage.

Chester seems to have been AWOL by this time (perhaps Dennis Weaver was already getting reading for his KENTUCKY JONES fiasco?) but at least Burt Reynolds as Quint the half-Indian blacksmith adds a cool dimension to these what with half the cast wanting to see him hung because of his racial mix! Well at least Festus ain't around in these...never really could cozy up to his BO Plenty-inspired sidekick self nohow!
Like I said above, a good selection of booty here. Read 'em and weep---that you didn't think of getting hold of these spinners before I told you to!

The Trashmen-BIRD CALL---THE TWIN CITY STOMP OF THE TRASHMEN Four-CD box set (Sundazed Records)

If dreams ever came true this one would have to be one of the better ones in my life. Yes, the COMPLETE collected works of everything the Trashmen ever released (and not!) can now be obtained in a nice little package complete with the obligatory booklet and a whole lot more music than what most Trashmen poo-pooers ever thought the group had in 'em. Don't wanna rattle yer chains with a fifty-paragraph paen to these wondrous track like I tended to do during my less-restrained days, but let me just say that you all know the beauty of "Surfin' Bird" and just how much it not only signaled the end of 1958-1963 instro-garage madness but helped create the mid-sixties warp-rock style we still cherish even after a good half-century. Any self-respecting BLOG TO COMM fan BETTER have these in his collection lest he hurt my precious feelings. And it is all gutsy he-man rock 'n roll that doesn't let up one bit...let's just say that the Trashmen are not for TRANS-MEN and you better believe it!
MASI ASAKAWA CD (Honest John's Records, available via FORCED EXPOSURE)

Japanese torch singer type from the sixties (and after) whose vocalese ranges from jazzy to straight pop. Reminds me of something you'd hear in a foreign film, or perhaps even the Osaka Holiday Inn where a bunch of drunk German tourists call out for some of those old beer hall putsch singalongs since the Japanese are honorary Aryans after all. Mostly dreary but it does have a few snatches of brilliance like an imitation Coltrane ending to one song and an Indian drone thing which sounds even stranger with Japanese voices singing along. "Onna" is particularly haunting. If you get to hear these fine, but I don't know if it warrants buying an entire album.
Jean Jacques Perrey-PRELUDE AU SOMMEIL LP (Fantome Phonographique France, available via Forced Exposure)

I'm always on the lookout for these early "avant garde" composer types who might have been crushed under the thunder of the bigger names in the biz, and from what I can make out Perrey was one guy who probably got crushed a little more than many of his compatriots ever did. This '58 recording features him playing these sweet and emotion-packed tones on an Ondioline in an attempt to create music that was to help one slip into the arms of Morpheus as they used to say. Overall the sounds are relaxing with these gentle chord changes that result in a music that at one time sounds like a typical 1962 kid trying to play "Apache" on his toy chord organ and at others a soundtrack to an old silent movie horror film. Almost as ambient as that stock music they used for sound on the OLD MOVIES, THE GOLDEN ERA program that channel 25 used to run back in the mid-seventies. An interesting peek at the genesis of things that were to come (and come all over the place at that) once the late-sixties got into musical minimalist gear.
The Kinks-THE GREAT LOST KINKS ALBUM CD-r burn (originally on Neue Revue Records---a bootleg I believe)

For being one of those "older kid" groups that seemed so high falutin' and brainy when I was growin' up I find myself listening to the Kinks a whole lot more now than I did way back when Ray Davies was giving Mike Douglas a hard time on his famous afternoon tee-vee show of yore. Hot collection of very-early to last days of the Pye-era Kinks, and oddly enough this only features a fraction of that infamous Kinks tossout of the same title that was cluttering up the cut out bins of the mid-seventies. But still this has a whole lotta fun and charm to it as well as a few goodies I forgot about via other Kinks Kompendiums such as the beautifully bad taste "When I Turn Out The Living Room Light", a song that would have had Davies drawn and quartered had it only come out in today's over-sensitive and downright watch-what-you-say clime.
Various Artists-SYDE TRYPS SEVEN CD-r burn (originally on Tenth Planet Records)

Not exactly mid-sixties garage band---more or less late-sixties punk rock the kind that snuck its way onto the original NUGGETS thus upsetting all you PURISTS out there. All English and all psychedellically snat too given that these recordings by such acts as the Brain and Those Fadin' Colours never did get any real push and sank like a post-peanut butter turd in the toilet bowl of rock 'n roll. Kinda wish I knew more about these groups but I get the feeling that all these and more will be lionized and hosannaed to all heck in a hundred years while the mass of remaining rock 'n roll scholars will undoubtedly be muttering "Jimi Who???"

The Troggs-AU CD-r burn (originally on New Rose Records, France)

Sheesh, I wonder just how many of these albums of re-recorded hits and other rare faves were released by the Troggs throughout their career! This '89 effort was but one, and frankly I must tell you that it's a pretty wonderful affair. Sure the thing opens up with a cover of the Bacharach/David number "There's Always Something There to Remind Me" (which became a nausea-inducing hit thanks to Naked Eyes back in the eighties) but then again, as Bill Shute might say, Reg Presley could sing the phone book and make it sound great! The new tracks like "The Disco Kid Versus Sid Chicane" rank as top-notch Troggers while the synthed-up re-dos are pretty snazzy even if they (expectedly) don't quite measure up to the originals. These guys never let you down, so don't do the same and pick this 'un up wherever you can find it!
The Creation-PSYCHEDELIC ROSE CD-r burn (originally on Cherry Red Records, England)

Awwww sheesh, why did the Creation reunion have to be this sappy? These tracks, originally recorded for ELO's Jet Records, contain all of the worst (as if there were any good) elements of eighties pop with none of the original Creation flash and verve to be found even on the remake of their claim to fame "Making Time". A total disappointment from a group I thought would have been able to transcend the sick trappings of the eighties and flash us all back to those biff bang pow times that a few of us sure missed in our moderne day music, Unfortunately I was wrong again...sheeesh!
Various Artists-ON THE BUMMER SIDE OF THE STREET CD-r burn (Bill Shute)

These disque do serve a special purpose in my life and I just ain't talkin' 'bout hearin' new to mine ears music'r anything like that either! These Bill burns usually transport me back to those good ol' turdler and/or suburban slob days just like a trip to the flea market in the seventies or eighties could, or better yet a trip down to my aunt's basement when I was a kid when I would snoop around and, after noticing that a whole buncha glassware was wrapped in mid-fifties vintage newspaper, unwrap the papers if only to read those classic old comic strips. And I actually saved one of the wrinkled papers which, years later, ended up as clip art in some of those later BLACK TO COMMs that I hope you need to fill up your collection because I NEED TO SELL 'EM!!!!!

Anyway, this is a nice oleo of various clutter that hits me sorta as if my entire life was flashing before my eyes but it was only the good, goof off kid stuff that I got to see. Of course Bill had to start off with a downer garage band thingie done up by some guys who probably thought that the guitars and drums were the key to getting good gash but discovered otherwise. I did enjoy Ron Thompson's jangly instrumental "Switchblade" and some of the r&b crankouts (especially John Patton's "Chitlins Con Carne" which is so strange I must give it some sorta BLOG TO COMM award for unintended mystical importance) while the Rod Keith "song poem" was enough to bring out at least a chuckle. Heck, the Death Killers' "Homer Simpson" was a great expression of post-turdler tee-vee trauma via rock 'n roll (no kiddin'!) and if the singer, guitarist and toy keyboard player are more than five-years-old I'll eat their Banana Wackies!

A surprise for sure Bill, but as far as Bernie Roberts w/ Blondie goes...well, were you thinkin' the same sorta Blondie that """"I"""" was? Guess not.

Thursday, March 08, 2018

COMIC BOOK REVIEW! KID ETERNITY #2, Summer 1946 (Quality Comics Group, available via Golden Age Reprints)

I remember seeing these Kid Eternity stories back when they were being reprinted in one of those early 25-cent "Bigger and Better" DC titles, at least until Marvel did their switcheroo to 20-cent regular-sized comic fare and National did likewise. However, since whatever title these sagas were appearing in wasn't one of my faves it was like I never bothered to read any of 'em. They just didn't seem like the kinda thing I'd wanna ruin my rods and cones over anyway, what with the hero being a boy whose costume was more or less a reg'lar shirt and trousers with a red sash with his sidekick being a fat bald guy in a tunic...just didn't jibe with my pre-teen sense of fun 'n jamz I'll tell ya!

And the kid's "power" of being able to recall any historical figure from the past by merely uttering the word "eternity"...I mean, I got enough history in school and if I wanted to read about Thomas Jefferson in the comics I woulda bought some sappy educational title to peruse, y'know? But hey I wanted some costumed hero action and the Kid just didn't seem to be my kinda grog as the hipsters used to say way back when.

Of course given the "open minded" and "fair towards all" devil-may-care attitudes that I've not only promoted in the blog but in the real deal world out there I'm willing to give this character another chance. After all, KID ETERNITY was originally published by the incredible Quality Comics line of different than usual heroes and if I could sink my mental clams into the likes of Plastic Man, the Spirit, Midnight and a slew of other different with a twist heroes then why not Kid Eternity? I'm older now, probably not wiser, but reading KID ETERNITY in the confines of my boudoir during the dank evening hours seems like a much better way to spend my free time rather than looking into the antics of anything DC or Marvel may be printing in that overwrought, overtextured and overdosing styles that pretty much ruined the entire concept of comics at least for a stickler to past accomplishment like myself.

Gotta say that I found this second issue pretty much fulfilling in that perfect gosh-honest way that it must have to the original owner of whatever copy Golden Age Reprints used to crank this one out. Kid Eternity comes off like the kind of kid hero who permeated the comic racks of the World War II era (the kind that few boys out there really wanted to identify with) but he's likable as is his "companion" Mr. Keeper, sorta like a nice version of Uncle Fester or better yet a good B-moom pitcher angel of some sort who could have been played by an Eric Blore or Alan Mowbray. Kid Eternity, for all his supernatural abilities, manages to come off human making errors in judgement yet not the psychological wreck that Stan Lee helped promulgate a good two decades later, and thankfully the camp of the sixties hadn't permeated entertainment yet or else KID ETERNITY might have become a title that would have been totally worthless as far as any true comic fun reading jamz went.

In the first story Kid Eternity tries to stop brothers who are warring over an inheritance by summoning up a number of Civil War notables worsening things in the process until the most obvious solution (which I won't reveal---this ain't the review section of an IMDB entry!) comes to mind. In the next one a girl who is not dead comes wafting into the heavens looking for her lost cat---turns out she is the kidnapped daughter being held for ransom and while we all think she is eventually going to do the ol' 86 routine she thankfully is saved from a painful end (oops, I revealed the ending to that 'un!). And in the final 'un a time-traveling mad scientist is attempting to change history first by trying to sabotage the landing of Columbus and then by ensuring a British victory at Lexington (although the appearance of Crispus Attucks called back to the living and getting some revenge in the process for being killed 'n all is likely to arouse suspicion especially sine this Attucks is WHITE!). Naturally it's all to no avail what with the keen insight of Kid Eternity calling on the right historical figure to settle the situation at hand with very little fuss or worry. Funny enough, but the theory of changing history through time travel reminds me of this story about the li'l kid in Sunday School who, while being told about the crucifixion of Jesus Christ cried out "BUT WHY DIDN'T SUPERMAN SAVE HIM???" I'm sure that's a yarn which the underground/alternative comic types have worked on throughout these past fiftysome years, or if they haven't they probably will more sooner than later (paging Al Kuhfeld).

There's also a SNAP SHOTZ story by Al Stahl here which I didn't bother to read because it looked a little too kiddie-ish and a HINKY DOOLEY by "Hib", the same guy who did that ARCHIE swipe entitled JONESY that also occasionally popped up in the SPIRIT SECTION newspaper supplement. Bill Shute might find these entertaining the same way he reads the obligatory two-page text filler, but I find them definitely skip over territory unless I'm really hard up for fresh comic doody. Who knows. the next time I drag this out I might even read the blasted thing.

I don't regret skipping over KID ETERNITY during my early comic buying days like you probably think I would have...these stories wouldn't have appealed to me back during my way-less-honed adolescent times that's for sure. But a good eon or so later I find it all rather settle back and relax yourself fun. Might be worth pitching in for a few more of these, unless there's one where the Kid decides to bring Tim Yohannon back from the afterlife which I guess would ruin the mood of the entire series come to think of it. 

Tuesday, March 06, 2018


Like a number of under-utilized and under-appreciated American stars of the 1950’s and early 1960’s, Ricardo Montalban found starring roles in European films (and also in Mexico) at a time when he was working primarily in television and in secondary film roles. He would become a household name here in North America later in life through his Chrysler commercials, his FANTASY ISLAND tv show, and his appearance in STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN, but he was one of those actors who was always great in anything, and he could carry a film with his charisma even when the project itself was not great. Check out the 1950 police procedural MYSTERY STREET the next time it plays on TCM, where Montalban plays a small town police officer working with a Harvard professor (Bruce Bennett/Herman Brix) to use contemporary science to determine the identity of a skeleton found on the beach. The content is a little dry, you’d think, but with Montalban and Bennett taking charge, it becomes riveting and you care about the characters and their daily work.

The Italian producers of GORDON, THE BLACK PIRATE certainly understood Montalban’s star quality, athletic appeal, and basic charm—in the first scene, we see him bare-chested and in the midst of a swordfight, which he handles quite well (most of it done without a double), and throughout the film, whether sweaty and fighting, or dressed elegantly to impress the colonial officials on the island of San Salvador in the Bahamas, Montalban dominates and you can’t take your eyes off him. While his character is a pirate, technically, he is the hero here as he is fighting the slave trade (he had been taken into slavery earlier in his life), stopping slave vessels and eventually going to San Salvador, posing as a Cuban landowner who needs cheap labor, to find the person who is the hidden head of the slave trade….and that oily slimeball is played by none other than VINCENT PRICE!

Thankfully, both Montalban and Price dub their own voices (alas, Montalban did not dub his own voice in the English language version of another Italian film of his, DESERT WARRIOR), and it’s a joy to see and hear these two totally unique actors strut and chew the scenery. With the perfect mix of action, intrigue, and costumed adventure (and fancy dances and balls and the like), GORDON, THE BLACK PIRATE would have been great programming for a Saturday or Sunday matinee either at the local second-run theater or on TV, as a change of pace from the sword and sandal films often shown.

It was released theatrically in the US in 1963 as RAGE OF THE BUCCANEERS by Colorama Features, an early 60’s company which specialized in European action/adventure imports, but also released THE GIRL HUNTERS, the fascinating adaptation of the Mickey Spillane novel where Spillane himself plays Mike Hammer, and which was shot in the UK (with some New York exteriors) and has an odd look and feel but is haunting and highly recommended. The only other example I can think of where an author plays his own character, which is NOT an autobiographical character, would be author Richard Wright himself playing Bigger Thomas in the strange Argentinian-made version of NATIVE SON (and Wright was pushing 40 at the time, I think, so seeing him as a faux-teenager reminded me of the later Bowery Boys films). I do remember seeing RAGE listed once in TV Guide as showing on my local UHF station, but I don’t remember seeing it back in the day.

Director Mario Costa directed a number of other costumed historical and sword & sandal films between 1959 and 1964, working with such American actors as Gordon Scott (3 films, including the western BUFFALO BILL, HERO OF THE FAR WEST), John Drew Barrymore, and Tony Russell. He’s not mentioned very often as a distinctive stylist, but like many a working director of bread and butter action-adventure films, he knows how to handle action, how to make historical crowd scenes look larger than they really are when shooting on a low-budget set, and how to bring the best out of his leading men and women. The main drawback to the circulating print of this film—which comes from an old Australian videotape with cheesy new video credits at the beginning—is that it’s pan and scan. When Vincent Price first appears in the film, you hear his voice talking in a conversation but you don’t see him for about 20 seconds. You see another actor looking to his left, engaging in a conversation with the voice of Vincent Price and a face you can’t see, because Price is in that section of the widescreen frame that is cut off. Coincidentally, I remember that happening to another Mario Costa film (no fault of his, of course, since this cutting was done by the American distributor for TV prints), THE CENTURION, where John Drew Barrymore is outside the cut pan and scan frame, and you hear his distinctive voice but do not see him, and that happened many times in THE CENTURION since there were often discussions among THREE characters, Barrymore being the third. It got annoying after a while, to put it mildly. Here, though, that happens only once or twice. Still, considering the excellent footage on ships and in large historical sets, we are missing A LOT from the widescreen version being cut. I hope an uncut version surfaces in Europe (it may have and I don’t have access to it). Until then, GORDON, THE BLACK PIRATE is an exciting and enjoyable tale told in a colorful manner with bravura performances from its two great stars. They don’t make ‘em like this anymore, alas, and they don’t make actors like Montalban and Price either, so enjoy this kind of classic Italian swashbuckling entertainment whenever you get a chance.

Saturday, March 03, 2018

Nice week we're havin' here, innit? Well, it could be a nicer week if it were only a li'l warmer around these parts but I can't complain. After all, I'm the kinda guy who sees a whole lotta beauty if ya can believe it in all kinds of atmospheric conditions whether they be overcast rainy summers or frigid winter morns just as much as I can warm 'n sunny days, if only because these kinda days remind me of FORMER kinda days when I was a kid and a rainy afternoon meant I could do nothin' but hang out in my room playin' with my Dinky or snuggled up in front of the tube wonderin' whether or not to go to the bathroom or watch a favorite television program. I even have the soiled underwear to tell you which path in personal decisions I eventually took which sure does dredge up those rather soaked up times when perhaps my judgement wasn't exactly the best.
I'm not as Citalopram-induced "up" as I was when I posted about my inner pride in being a true "star" (but not a wizard) two weeks back, but I'm still feeling quite chipper if I do say so myself. "Loopy" might be a better term, perhaps because the ONLY beddy-bye music I have been listening to these past fourteen or so days has been the Mahogany Brain WITH (JUNK-SAUCEPAN) WHEN (SPOON-TRIGGER) Cee-Dee which somehow fits into my own scatterbrained sense of being better than  most of the other recordings I have at hand. (Well, not really since the Brain's SMOOTH SLICK LIGHTS also has gotten some airplay around here as well as a few others I'll be reviewing for ya shortly.) These platters sure make for a great soundtrack to reading THE AESTHETICS OF ROCK too making me wonder how none other'n R. Meltzer himself would have handled these had they made their way into his mitts back when he was still a rock writer of some renown (but not much as far as the music editors of STONE were concerned!).

I've also been reading my collection of Patti Smith WHITE STUFF fanzines, the ones that future English Scottish rock scribe Sandy Robertson did up way back '77-'78 way when these kinda mags were a nifty way to get to the bared wire intensity of it all without having to wade through pages of REO Speedwagon drivel like ya hadda do when reading a "legit" newsstand mag. Awe inspiring to say the least. Yeah, I know I mentioned this 'un about a decade back when I got hold of a disque containing the entire zine run but sheesh, you just can't read a computer screen onna toidy or next to your bed late at night, and that's why I had the dang things printed on to paper the way God intended such things to be enjoyed.

After getting a load of some of the daft rock musings found on the web (and this blog is included in the list, or at least my contributions are!) it's sure great reading some smart and down to earth rock screeding (and written in the classic neo-gonzo style as created and nurtured by such demons as Lester Bangs, Nick Kent, Charles Shaar Murray, Patti herself etc. and so forth) done up not only about the lady but the acts of the past we like such as Lou, Kim, Iggy and the rest who were still producing a rather potent grey-room-breaking shock in our systems even during this late stage in the game. I'm talkin' the groups and people that surely mattered a whole lot to a load of us suburban slob kids who used to pose in front of our bedroom mirrors pretending we were at Max's Kansas City, and one page of Robertson or one of his cronies spewing forth about the likes of everyone from William Burroughs to Harry Crosby sure beats the entire ROLLING STONE HISTORY OF ROCK AS A BACKDROP TO HIPPIE EXCESS schpiel we've been fed for a longer time than anyone can imagine.

Oh yeah, I must also admit to another beddy bye fave this past week, mainly a disque of the Rocket From the Tombs demo broadcast on WMMS as it was aired without the sound quality up-grade (?) of the legitimate album and with almost all (about five or so seconds missing) of Peter Laughner's commentary just the way that I'm sure most lucky listeners heard the thing way back when. The gaps between the songs are annoying to say the least, but the power and energy is so pure and straightforward that it's amazing that something this good would even be considered broadcast-worthy at the time...a good decade later with the entire corporate rock world wallowing in the abyss of tired tropes and cheap mummery such an act wouldn't have even been considered holy enough to soil the sacred airwaves of 'MMS, but sheesh the mere thought of a rock 'n roll group of such QUALITY being publicized like this even during the day of "free form" radio boggles the mind. Remember that story Nick Kent once gave us about how Iggy Pop and Lou Reed, both outta work once the Stooges split and Reed departed the Velvets, were considering putting together a band but decided not to because it would just be too much for any stage to hold? Well, Rocket From The Tombs was just that group and at this point in time all I can ask is...for moremoreMORE!!!!! because we need it and like yesterday!
Here be the reviews which I think you can make your way through without any help from myself. Not as wondrous a batch as the previous ones were but fine enough at least with what's being promoted out there in the so-called "real" (hah!) world if I do say so myself. Yeah, the pickin's might seem rather skinny as the days role on but one thing I gotta get into my head and get into it soon is...1977 just ain't comin' back any day soon as like I gotta make with what I got so quit bein' such a spoiled crybaby, Chris! So let's stop snifflin' away and read...

Harmonia-DOCUMENTS-1975 CD (Groenland Records, Germany)

Yes, even more Harmonia recordings are up and about for our perusal years after the fact, and although these things ain't as crucial to my listening parameters as an unearthed goodie from one of my top ten spinners would be it's like eh, I ain't gonna ignore it. These guys did put out some rawther fast-paced, energy-driven music and better unreleased Harmonia than the sorta drek that has been tossed out as "rock music" these past fiftysome years which, had I never heard the life-reaffirming sounds of groups like Harmonia, would have turned me off of the entire "rock" concept faster than you can say Andy Secher!

"Tiki-Taka"'s a new version of the old Harmonia "chestnut" and if you liked that you'll like this re-arrangement that goes on a quite different tangent. Sounds close to the old Kraftwerk/Neu! "motorific" (hah!) style that was probably losing favor around the time this remake was being laid down.

"Live at Onkel P3 in Hamburg" is a perfect soundtrack to the overcast dusk I'm enjoying this Sunday PM. Here the trio are joined by Guru Guru leader Mani Neumaier on a live jaunt that has that great repeato-riff sound that hearkens back to that one rock 'n roll group I'm trying to stop name-dropping if only due to cranial weakness on my part. You know, the one that pretty much set the pace for every other hot chug in music that came out until at least 1979??? But it works swell as Rother strums electric guitar while Rodelius tinkles electric piano and Moebius scronks subdued on the synth. And Neumaier's playing is pure steady, keeping the beat with a few rolls here/there. This is one of those tracks I sure wish could go on forever but hey, the evening has only so many hours.

"Proto-Deluxe", an early version of the DELUXE track what with a return to the more "zuckerzeit" Harmonia sound with a pounding piano and soaring guitar lines. The kind of electronic whiz that attracted Eno to these guys and had Bowie swiping more than a few ideas for LOW (as if he really was as "original" as all those rock critics would have led us to believe). Some old Harmonia licks are tossed in and others abused. It works, at least as a template of things to come very soon.

"Live at Fabrik in Hamburg"---more with Neumaier and a track that a kinda chunky almost dance beat taken to its logical (?) extreme. It kinda drives and swerves back and forth like "Autobahn" on 45 packing a whole load of energy even with the not-so-cyborg use of synths. Kinda reminds me of the electronic music pop avant garde of the mid-seventies which, only a scant few years later, sounded like nothing but rinky dink.

Krautsters are sure to enjoy this rumble and even some of us more rock 'n roll-inclined types might (that I won't guarantee that!). Nice to see the archives being flushed out like this which only makes me hope that perhaps in the near future more 60s/70s artyfacts will be making their way to our ears thus staving off the inevitable plunge into total non-funzy disaster at least by a few months.
Battre Lyss-TILL DEN STRANG SOM BRAST AN ATT ALDRIG SPANNA EN BAGE (without the umlats and other accentuations) CD (Guerssen Records, Spain)

There's nothing here that really make me wanna jump for joy the way a good straight-ahead rock 'n roll platter does, To me this is mostly laid-back early-seventies bell bottom rock, the kinda music I would have imagined some ironed-haired cause-afflicted gal would listen to in the privacy of her boudoir while sniffling about the plight of Biafrans. Some elements of late-Beatles McCartney seem to seep in here and there while a whole load of budding FM strains can easily be discerned. Not the kind of exhumation that I particularly care that much for, but giving how I can't judge you readers one bit I'll bet a whole load of you will go hog wild for it.
Cathy Berberian-POP ART LP (Vinyl Ermitage Italy, available via Forced Exposure)

Surprisingly solid ('cept for the William Walton closers which still have a sorta charm) platter with Berberian singing Kurt Weill (and not making me sick), the Beatles and some freaked out avant things ("Stripsody" by herself and things from ex-hubby Luciano Berio) that will remind you of her classic work on "Fontana with Aria Mix" or whatever it was called. If you're the kinda kid who used to take an interest in the "new music" because of its relation to the budding rock as art movement of the late sixties, or you have that Steely Dan album which mentions her, you might take some initiative to seek out and give this rarity a spin.
The Monochrome Set-1979-1985: THE COMPLETE RECORDINGS 6-CD set (Tapete Records Germany, available via Forced Exposure)

I never did cozy up to these guys throughout their long career, although I did feign some interest at one time if only due to the group's interesting method of operation (art school sound and hijinx to be precise). Snatching up a few early Rough Trade singles and leaving it at that probably woulda been the best thing for me to do, for I find the grand bulk of the Monochrome Set's material (at least found on their first four albums plus two disques of single sides) rather thin sounding. Not that there aren't moments where they do plow straight into forms of smartpop that just do tingle the nerve endings like they should, but for the most part their music sounds like stripped down Roxy Music and Sparks records played around 39 rpm. Sorta the missing link between mid-seventies English glitzy pop revival and eighties thin-sound regurgitation (Culture Club, Dexy's Midnight Runners, Soft Cell...).
Don Dietrich/Ben Hall-LIVE AT MUG, DETROIT 12/31/2013 CD-r burn

Talk about ringing in the New Year! A total eruption set that shows that, if the avant garde of jazz wasn't already dead and buried, at least the dug up corpse re-ignited with electrodes sure comes off a whole load better'n whatever else is getting passed on as that once-vibrant slice of sonic spiritualism. Dietrich bellows on a tenor while Hall plays some of the best free splat heard in ages and to top it all off the two are doing it with this strange electronic drone wailing through the entire affair sounding like a buncha busted bagpipes that were found in the Royal Scots Fuselage trashcans still gasping for air. Absolutely mind-blowing to dig up an old cliche, and as you all know I JUST LOVE OLD CLICHES. But I love this total eruption attack even more and if you can locate a burn of it I know you will too.
Storm Bugs-A SAFE SUBSTITUTE CD-r burn (originally on Snatch Tapes, England)

Did I hear this one before? Sounds so familiar in its electronic screech and voice mangipulative way. Typically twisted very early eighties English experimentalism born and bred of the industrial revolution giving way to the vapid mechanical future we all thought we would be experiencing once 1990 rolled around. And come to think of it, weren't we right???
WHITE BOY AND THE AVERAGE RAT BAND CD-r burn (originally on Heaven and Hell Records)

Don't let the sweet strains of synth strings that open this 'un fool ya, this record is top notch heavy metal crank that (unlike the metal that inspired these guys and you'll know who they are once you listen!) doesn't let up one iota! Even the obligatory blues track drives you mad just like Iggy did on "I Need Somebody", and for a bunch of guys who were lifting from the established metallic munchers left and right they sure put out a platter that can actually drive one downright mad. Too bad the majority of HM fans eschewed this breed of blare for the kind of fluff that Anastasia Pantsios and the entire musical establishment deemed "proper" 'stead of the real thing or else the listening matter of the nineties might have been vastly different that it most certainly was.
Joe Houston-LIMBO CD-r burn (originally on Crown Records)

Not bad a-tall jazzy limbo/calypso music that sure made for fine backdrop to an afternoon of comic book reading. Various limbo-fashioned sounds done up in a nice r 'n b style that seep right into you like the best of this music does. And after all these years later I gotta say that LIMBO sure comes off as a better, more cohesive "concept album" (which it is) than THE SIX WIVES OF HENRY VIII ever did!
Various Artists-MALICIOUS BIRMINGHAM SLEEPWALK CD-r burn (Bill Shute)

Here's another Bill burn with no hint of what's to be found within the aluminum layer on it, unless you count the title's obscure hints. Still a surprise what with the obvious song-poem, some Swede singing about his fat Olga in the days before the Polish got branded as the stupid ones, some weird neo-free jazz that sounds like imitation AACM howl and these really cheezy versions of pre-Beatles instrumentals done up on synthesizer. I kinda'd like to know who was responsible for that guitar noodling with brush drums in the foreground track. And those scratchy 78s that sound like the same track done up first in 1910 and then a good fifteen years later. AND that weird dirge that closes out the disque while yer at it.

Gotta say that I probably dig the old ads that Bill stuck on here more'n anything. You get Charlie McCarthy and Goodyear tires, not to mention the THIRD appearance on these Bill Burns of the infamous Choo-Choo Charlie "Good 'n Plenty" commercial! Bill must really like that 'un, or either hes' stuck on the famed candy coated licorice flavor. Your guess, but I always preferred Good 'n Minty!