Thursday, November 15, 2018


If ya think I ain't exactly thrown for the ol' loop by this book then man, you've never immersed yourself into the sea foam of Ranch House Culture that I and so many other fanablas have sprung forth from! It's such a good read that it kinda reminds me of back in my serious comic strip/book collecting frenzy pre-pubesprout days when I'd rush home from school on some dank overcast and freezing Friday PM with a whole weekend to look forward to, and'd hole myself up with a comic collection such as this which I would SOAK IN until suppertime, totally immersed in the solid antics of the action at hand only stopping occasionally to give Sam a few bops in the nose when he would come by doing his usual sniffing.

As I said many-a-time, I find it quite stymieing that not only did the Powers That Be not have a PEANUTS comic book up and about during that strip's late-sixties megahyper heyday but also didn't feel worthy of reprinting these late-fifties/early-sixties Dell comic book stories at a time when PEANUTS books were permeating the store shelves and grade school desks of this land o' ours. Well, fifty years after the hoopla might be whatcha'd call a li'l too long a wait, but finally these rarities have been collected in hardcover and like, it's fourth grade for me all over again only without the BAD stuff like homework, teachers, classmates and horrible cafeteria lunches to contend with.*

These stories ain't too bad and that even includes the later ones which Schulz had no involvement whatsoever. The artwork, mostly by Schulz assistant Jim Sasseville and later on Dale Hale (though the erstwhile PEANUTS creator did contribute a scant few), is true enough to the original to the point where you have to look very carefully to find any slight deviation from the's that close from the lettering and backgrounds to the correct angular slope of Schroeder's head and even better'n what Wally Wood was comin' up with in those MAD spoofs around the same time. The sagas stay close to the strip format as well, only fleshed out into as many as eight pages with interesting turns and gags that could never be done within the span of even a Sunday slot. So close to the strip's entire reason for existence that I sure can't see all those giddy gals I grew up with who loved the antics of Charlie Brown upping their pockmarked cheeks at this 'un, and they lifted their cultured kiddie noses at everything else other'n James Taylor and Peter Max back then!

There are a few deviations from the usual down pat story style here and there, like the one where a robot that is controlled via remote by Charlie Brown causes havoc in the neighborhood grinding up Linus' blanket and destroying Schroeder's piano amongst other strangeties you never would have seen in the actual strip. Kinda like PEANUTS meets ROBOT REX if you get the drift. However, even these fit into the whole gist of where PEANUTS stood during the years when it went from being that cult strip all the hipsters went for into the licensing giant it eventually became. If you don't have the originals this 'un'll certainly help satiate these long cold nights just like they woulda for me had this 'un made it out like it shoulda back during my switchover into the double digits oh-so-long ago.


*I dunno, but thinking back to them dayze of addled kiddietude reminded me of one time in the third or so grade...kinda hazy here...when us kids hadda do book reports and some cocky guy actually submitted one on a PEANUTS paperback! Boy did he get holy fanabla for that even though I remember that he was rather defiant over his choice in reading matter because it was a "book" and he had to do a report, and like man he did just that so what's the big deal! And once you get down to the nitty gritty what was all the fuss about anyway---sure beats writin' about Dick and Jane that's for sure! Years later I must admit that I woulda liked to have eyeballed the thing...betcha he took every strip and summarized the thing in typical eight-year-old speak going on and on! Well, it sure woulda read better'n some of the writeups I've been cranking out as of late that's fer sure!!!!!

Saturday, November 10, 2018


I decided to slip this 'un into the mix because frankly, I have been rather busy/lazy this week and didn't have time to prepare a PROPER run-down of recs and such that I have been listening to coupled with my opinions regarding various musical/social/political/bowel movement-related wonderments. What I did peck out was spotty, comparatively blase (at least next to what you usually will find here!) and definitely needs a tune-up of sorts. However, I had these reviews of relatively old (and some new) vinyl boots on hand and like better you read these writeups than suffer through a half assed summary of just how great I feel with all of this beyond words music being pumped into my system and how beautiful it is living in a world filled with old records, comics, fanzines and other expressions of total suburban slob wonderment that you just can't find anymore. You know that rap already even though I just love throwing it in your faces every time I have the opportunity.

So just settle back and recall those halcyon days when these bootleg albums were nothing but softly-whispered rumors floating about the high school gym when you shoulda been doin' those fart-inducing leg squats. Think back to those catalogs emanating from various mid-South enclaves and those weirdo record shops that seemed to have more than their share of those white sleeves with insert covered platters that seemed kinda chance-y, but for the most part you seemed to do well with what you purchased to the point where even fortysome-plus years late these records still stand as a proud testimonial to your youthful buying prowess as they collect dust in what remains of your vinyl collection!

Sheesh, it would figure that right at the time of my massive Zappa/Beefheart/Mothers mania inna mid-seventies most of their bootleg offerings would either have been long out of print or a good five or so years away from being pressed up. Sure didn't help me out any at the time, although the Zappa/Beefheart CONFIDENTIAL album on Wizardo and the NO COMMERCIAL POTENTIAL twofa did show up in the local bins and were thusly snatched up by guess who! Dunno exactly when TMOQ slapped this double consisting of two early-seventies vintage Zappa boots together, but from the labels I would gather that it was the early-eighties and although my Zappa pressure was certainly tamed by that period in time (Terry Bozzio can do that to you) I think that if I were to have picked this 'un up at some flea market at the time it woulda made for one of those nice late-night spins when the music seems to take on a different sort of somber tone than it does in daylight, which I gotta say does certainly fits in with my bean brain of mine.

AT THE OLYMPIC purports to be the first appearance of what the insert calls "the Hot Rats band". Dunno if you could really say that about this CHUNGA'S REVENGE-period show, but the sound is great for an audience tape and the performance is pretty tasty especially for the post original Mothers of Invention era which many rock wags tend to poo poo. Flo and Eddie are on here somewhere but are washed out while for the most part Zappa plays his guitar and does a lotta old themes re-mashed with Ian Underwood holding up a good portion of the recording with those multi-instrumental talents that kinda made me wish he had a Bizarre/Reprise release of his own!

The highlight for me is the presence of Sugarcane Harris who really puts a lotta oomph into the proceedings with his violin, and thankfully he performs that all-time classic "Directly From My Heart To You" which really stymied me when I first heard it on WEASELS RIPPED MY FLESH. I mean, the idea of Zappa recording a Little Richard song seemed so alien to me back when I first picked that platter up, naive kid I was and most certainly shall remain! Of course as the years rolled by and my mind firmed up it seemed a natural thing for him to have done, but when yer fifteen man, was that the weirdest!

The 200 MOTELS album is not the soundtrack to the feature and frankly why Zappa cared to title this performance with the El Lay Philharmonic under the direction of Zubin Mehta such is confusing (he does mutter something at the beginning of the piece which is hardly audible though might explain the sitchy-ashion a tad bit). Still if you like those Zappa orchestral faves and various Mothers themes of yore you'll diggidy-dig this one which sounds just like the closing theme from THE WORLD'S GREATEST SINNER at one point then gets into such faves as "Oh No" and a few UNCLE MEAT variations which might bring back some late-sixties memories for you old time fans.

It can even be moving then all of a sudden a tad kitschy, so once again Zappa keeps you guessing as to what just might be coming next if you dare to go there. Surprised these haven't been repressed or Cee-Dee-ified since because even with the audience quality this would sound great on your pop's old 1959 stereo player! That is, if he'll ever let you back into his den after what you did to the speakers after playing Blue Cheer on it back 1968 way!
And from Zappa why not head out towards that Zappa "acolyte" so-to-speak (perhaps thee only Zappa "'acolyte' so-to-speak"!) who made it even bigger than ol' stinkeroo himself---none other'n Alice Cooper! And what a boffo package this one is what with the full-color cover and the pink and pale green discs that turn up inside---quality all around! Not only that but BACK IN THE USA (with a title like that I'm sure the bootleggers had a good sense of where Alice was comin' from what with the massive influence of the Detroit rockers from the MC5 on down on their entire makeup!) is a hi-quality recording taken mostly from the 1971 KILLER tour which, along with a buncha hot MUSCLE OF LOVE outtakes and a fair quality though rockin' live version of "A Hard Day's Night" with Flo and Eddie, make this one of those bootlegs that really got starved rock 'n roll fans like myself all hot and bothered during the dullsville eighties. Can't lose with a set like this which you must admit topped even what the majors of the time (mid-late eighties) were able to toss out at an audience that surely wanted more than the usual gruel. When compared to, say, those mid-eighties Velvet Underground collections on Verve something like BACK IN THE USA only goes to show you that when it comes to exhumations and proper packaging the bootleg labels beat the legit ones all hollow! Imagine what any eighties-era bootleg label coulda done with those Velvets recordings...certainly not stick 'em in those ugly sleeves and get David Fricke to write the liner notes (not that he doesn't spout pearls o' wisdom once in awhile but that guy is so omnipresent I wish someone else'd get a chance to pop off once in awhile) that's for sure!
Speaking of the VU, I had passed on these Velvet Underground LEGENDARY GUITAR AMP TAPES releases on the "Tummy Tapes" label considering how this 3/15/69 recording with Lou Reed's amp placed WAY UP FRONT was (deservedly) circulating in various forms o'er the years and like, I must have had at least three different versions of 'em on tape or disque already! However this third volume capturing Reed's eruptive playing on "Heroin" and "Sister Ray" was just too tasty to pass up on vinyl even for a guy like me who coulda plunked down the money it took to pay for this on some other item of value. But dedicated fan that I am I just couldn't resist this particular slice of late-sixties apocalyptic pleasure and y'know what???

It's every big as adventurous/avant garde/exhilarating and all of the best thesaurus words you can dare find even a good thirtysome years after this 'un escaped onto the tape trading market. The sound on "Heroin" is mighty fine in itself but when the band segues into "Sister Ray" it all comes home, with Reed's guitar playing showing its Metal Machine Glory proving once and for all that slick lines and fast playing don't necessarily make a rock group good. It's NOISE all the way which is why a band that could play (like the Velvets) or "couldn't" (like say, Teenage Jesus and the Jerks) ran rings around all those high-falutin' "artists" you heard on the radio who could play scales up and down the neck of their guitars but could never ooze an ounce of down and dirty grit from their entire existence. I can get into that churning crank that Reed lets go with towards the end forever...if I ever make it "up there" I hope I get to hear this for all eternity. If I make it down there you know it's gonna be nothing but J. Neo Marvin.
Here's a strangitie that I like if only for the effort that went into making this. It's a (now get this!) live performance of David Bowie's LOW album titled what else but LOW LIVE, and it's got a really pro color cover mimicking the original and this opaque greyish vinyl to give it that real up-grade quality that bootleg fans really went for.  I would rate the effort as being a well-crafted package given the big-time job that went into producing the thang but unfortunately this 2002 performance was taken from an audience recording and the sound is surprisingly bad considering how by the early 'OO's technology had made your average clandestine recording sound almost professional. Too much audience woo-wooings going on here and you have to strain to hear some of the instruments especially during the "avant garde" second side. Fortunately I managed to get a few high stool-era fun feelings outta it so perhaps the exorbitant amt. of moolah I put into buying this wasn't TOTALLY lost after all.
One thing I've discovered throughout this life o' mine is that a whole lotta these records bearing the name Jimi Hendrix on 'em, especially those that were released after his deep sixing, are sure chance-y affairs to put it mildly. Sheesh, I wonder how many bedroom jams of his were recorded by the neighbor next door only to get pressed up and touted as being some "unique" and "innovative" effort that was obviously dug up to capitalize on the guitarist's unexpected gagathon!

Well, this double set of-so-craftily credited to "James Marshall" as if that was gonna throw the authorities off the trail is sorta like that, and not. Mostly just outtakes, these tracks range from fairly good to boring but you might like 'em even if you, like me, tended to think of Jimi as being one of those older kids kinda musical acts that seemed a little too hippoid in light of other acts that spoke to your suburban slob mentality a whole lot more.

The recordings with John McLaughlin and Larry Young aren't as passionate as I would have liked 'em to be, but some of the guitar attacks do bring out a few latent hard rock growls that appeal more to my Detroit underground rock side than they do the whole mudfest felchathon scene so in vogue at the time. Sound quality is about what's to be expected, but thankfully it only exacerbates the proper way rock 'n roll and perhaps all music should be heard---in a primal and feral fashion that needs no visuals or extra stimuli for you to appreciate in your own untamed, mammal sort of way.

I could say that LADYLAND IN FLAMES was one of them boots meant for the Hendrix completest and Hendrix completest only, but for once in my life I'd be wrong. Even the more casual Hendrix lover can get more'n a few things outta this double-set and if you are one, this might be worth the effort to search out here on the "you can get anything ya heart desires" internet an' I do mean it!
I believe this one, or at least some of it, has been issued legitimately but fergit that jive because if you can get it on a bootleg record it's all the better for everyone involved! And what a bootleg it is!!!! Here are none other than Australian pride AC/DC recorded live at the beginning of their long 'n sainted career, and judging from the tracks on this set (taken from a New Year's Eve gig on the last day of '74 as well as a few tracks from the following year fillin' the thing out) these guys were cooking even HOTTER than they were once they finally hit the big time playing in front of an arena fulla teenagers puking reds all over each other. The sound is good, and packaging fantastic in that eighties bootleg we gotta fool people into thinking this is legitimate sorta way, and best of all these guys don't come off as heavy metal imbeciles one bit and prove just what kind of high energy purveyors they could be once they got their nuts down to it.

This really is punk rock in the old CREEM/DENIM DELINQUENT fashion long before that term seemed to get co-opted outta existence, and as far as all out performances go this 'un proves that maybe AC/DC, had they never gotten the big break oh so needed with outta nowhere rock groups, would be remembered fondly in the same underground rock way that Coloured Balls and Radio Birdman are lo these many years later. Next trip to the record shop (wherever one may be) try to snatch this one up, or at least get hold of 74 BREAKOUT and DIRTY DEEDS DONE DIRT CHEAP and get an earfulla what hard rock used to mean before the eighties and rock videos negated everything good the seventies stood for.
An' that's it for least until I can find another cache of these once-forbidden items to write about in my usual triumphalist way. Until then, be sure to scour your local outta-the-way record shop for more of these wild wonders and most of all---DON'T BLAB TO THE COPS WHERE THE PLACE IS, AT LEAST UNTIL I CLEAR THE BINS OUT AT WHICH POINT WHO CARES!!!!

Thursday, November 08, 2018

MOOM PITCHER REVIEW! EYES OF THE UNDERWORLD (1942) starring Richard Dix and Lon Chaney Jr.

Onetime leading hunk Richard Dix plays the much loved chief of police in a mid-sized town he had pretty much rid of bad boys, well 'cept for the stolen auto and tire rackets that have sprung up since the advent of World War II rationing and all that needless hooey that was created to stir up the patriotic sacrifice in us rubes. Turns out that, behind the strong yet sensitive exterior which has made him one of the most loved men in town, Dix was once a convict serving time for pilfering pennies from the bank he was working at! Of course in no way would he want the town nor his goony young son to know about his less 'n exemplary past 'n why should they since this guy, for all practical purposes, IS Dick Tracy and Superman all rolled up into one!

In order to keep their chop shop biz roarin' without any needless hassles from the law, the gangsters decide to have one of their guys (played by Marc Lawrence, who o'er the years sure got a lot of tough guy roles like this!) get busted, ask to talk to Dix alone in his office and trick him into going along with a planned break out in exchange for Lawrence blabbin' about havin' known him inna Big House. Dix doesn't go along with it, but thanks to the actual break out which does occur as well as a secretly recorded and edited recording of the conversation the bloke comes off lookin' as if he is indeed was in cahoots and well, you can guess who was tossed into the hoosegow faster'n you can say pass the Vaseline!

There's a lot goin' for this Universal quickie that makes EYES OF THE UNDERWORLD a hefty slice of early-forties theatrical enjoyment, that is unless that zoot suiter who hasn't washed his hair in months decides to sit right next to you. One of 'em is Lon Chaney Jr. as Benny, Dix's chauffeur who isn't beneath doin' a li'l TORTURIN' in order to extract information outta some grimy underling. Pretty good considering how I thought he was gonna somehow slip into his Lenny mode halfway through the pic!

Heck, I even liked future perennial Tee-Vee type Don Porter as this investigator who comes off as a slick bad guy but he's supposed to be good even though you still kinda hate him even when his wholesomeness is revealed because hey, it is one of those twisto plot-addling devices that work well in these crankers. And hey, Wendy Barrie as the ever-faithful secretary who sticks by her boss probably because she has a hotcha thing for older men works. She's totally un-woman-like true, but ya gotta admit that her take on the female gender sure beats who's goin' 'round these days!

Tuesday, November 06, 2018


Anyone who frequents junk stores or the so-called antique malls and peruses the printed matter for sale knows that the Harvey Comics line is not particularly in-demand. Oh, there may be SOMEONE out there who is willing to pay big bucks for a mint copy of the RICHIE RICH MEETS LEON TROTSKY “Giant” issue of Harvey Hits, but for the most part, there are so many variations on so few characters (Richie Rich, Sad Sack, Casper The Friendly Ghost, etc.) that if you find a comics dealer willing to deal, you can get a stack of Harveys for next to nothing.

Case in point: recently I got a stack (literally--about 25) of coverless comic books from the late 60’s and early 70’s for about 20-25 cents each, and most of them (the Harveys especially, though there were also Charlton westerns and some other items) had clearly never been read....or even thumbed through. The spines were tight and just waiting for some ten year old--or ten year old at heart, like me--to kill some time in the upbeat wonder-world of Harvey Comics (and yes, that K. Gordon Murray reference was intended). The covers had been ripped off and returned to the distributor for credit when the book’s initial selling period ended, maybe a month after its release, and instead of throwing the coverless books out, as the retailers were supposed to do, or letting the employees or good customers have them for free (or selling them at a steep discount under the counter, as the Convenient Food Mart on Bridge Street used to do for me as a kid), someone decided to save these books in a box somewhere, and who knows how many times that box got moved over the 51 years between this comic being discarded and my picking it up for a quarter. Yet, in 51 years, no one read it....until I did.

Fortunately, as with an obscure silent comedy short from the 1920’s or a lesser-known Bowery Boys film you’ve somehow missed, there is something timeless and pure and charming about this coverless Little Sad Sack comic book. Of course, it’s well known that the Harvey Comics incarnation of Sad Sack was nothing like the original, created during World War II by soldier George Baker for a military audience and reflecting, with a kind of black humor, the problems facing soldiers, addressed from one soldier to another. Harvey reinvented Sad Sack as a kind of kindler, gentler, more kid-friendly version of Beetle Bailey, but without most of the pointed workplace humor that adults appreciated so much in Beetle (and still do). A lot of the credit for the appeal of the newly re-invented Harvey Sad Sack goes to artist Fred Rhoads, who boiled the character down to its essence and favored an open, minimal art style that would pull the reader in. He also gave the comics a kind of wide-eyed brightness not unlike Disney comic books, but not as saccharin. As much as the character evolved when adapted by Harvey, according to online sources, creator George Baker continued to oversee the series and do the covers, and I vividly remember seeing those unique covers with the weekly comic offerings at the local newsstand or drug store as a child.

Harvey being all about spin-offs of the core “brands,” Sad Sack comics offered other lines focusing on Sarge, Sack’s dog Muttsy (!!!), Gabby Gob (the Navy version of Sack), and the comic under review today, LITTLE SAD SACK. This is basically Sad Sack as an elementary school-aged child. With a face only a mother could love, the child version of Sack looks like Leon Errol playing weather-beaten Knobby Walsh in the Joe Palooka movies, but put into a ten year old’s body (and if you’re not familiar with Errol/Walsh, think of Jimmy Durante, big schnoz and all, as a child....looking exactly like the adult Durante, but with softer facial contours!). The basic concept of this is so ridiculous that just looking at a page of LITTLE SAD SACK comics puts a smile on my face. It’s almost like the “adult baby” persona of Harry Langdon (see pic) if he had stumbled into the world of PEANUTS, had PEANUTS been created by ort Walker of BEETLE BAILEY fame. Little Sad Sack’s adventures are not unlike those of Dennis The Menace, but toned down and gentler.

What I like most about this orphan comic book, abandoned and unread for decades, is the purity of its comedy, something not really seen today....or for the last 30+ years. It’s the same feeling seen when Stan Laurel or Oliver Hardy will get a piece of paper stuck to their shoe, or get a fly annoying them, and spend a good 5 minutes developing and extending the situation. Time stands still and the world outside no longer matters. Jerry Lewis tried that kind of thing in his second “comeback” film, SMORGASBORD (aka CRACKING UP), the film he made after HARDLY WORKING, and it could not even get a US theatrical release as it was so out-of-step with the culture of that day, 1983 (it did well overseas and wound up on cable and late-night TV here). And to have that kind of simple and pure comedy served up by a character who looks like a grizzled old character actor, but in a ten year old’s body, makes the packaging even more appealing to me. He’s almost like an elementary school version of Shemp Howard, and who could not get excited by that prospect. It’s interesting that artist Fred Rhoads had worked as an assistant on Barney Google and Snuffy Smith, as Little Sad Sack has a kind of Snuffy Smith vibe to him. And like Snuffy Smith or Harry Langdon, Little Sad Sack does not have to DO anything to be funny. His face and his attitude say it all in a universal language a four-year-old could understand.

Just like the character of Sad Sack, the line of Harvey’s Sad Sack comics (and its endless variations) does not get any respect today. When I looked on some comic book history websites to get my facts straight for this review, I saw one of those listings (as you see for records on Discogs) where it states how many collectors have this comic and how many want it, and for this LITTLE SAD SACK comic, under the “wants” section, instead of a number, it sarcastically stated “who would admit to wanting this!” Hey, I want it! And thankfully, I’ve got it. The super-hero fanboys (and most are boys, whatever their age) who make up most of the comics-nerd world will never “get” Harvey Comics or Sad Sack, let alone Little Sad Sack, which is about as welcome in their world as a second-tier Columbia comedy short featuring, say, Monte Collins or the team of Eddie Quillan and Wally Vernon would be welcome at the Sundance Film Festival.

This comic book is certainly not what the popular historians would have you believe was happening in 1967. Reading this coverless orphan comic book today is like getting a breath of pure oxygen----oxygen that’s been waiting 51 years to be used by someone----after spending a day working outside in some polluted urban area. It’s exactly what I need after a day in the fetid and toxic and self-important world of contemporary society and popular culture.

Saturday, November 03, 2018

Pretty good week there, wasn't it? At least it was for me, for I had the opportunity to lend ear to a whole lotta nice and life-reaffirming sounds that have kept me away from the loonybin inch-by-inch!  I must say that the influx of such sounds really do help me retain my mental stability (hah!) especially in these definitely anti-Chris days, and couple that with a hefty enough barrage of visual pleasure (which you will be hearin' about in future posts) and who but Karen Quinlan would dare think that things are perkin' up to the point where I FIND NO REASON TO DO ANY PREMATURE EXIT-ING AS LONG AS THE GOOD STUFF IS BEING PIPED INTO MY VARIOUS BODILY FUNCTIONS! And I ain't jivin' you one single bit!

Perhaps thee highlight of the week was the arrival of some BRIAN SANDS Cee-Dee-Are burns courtesy of his ex-pal Doris including one with all of the man's plastic vinyl output and another with the infamous (yet rarely heard) WKSU-FM "Industrial Wasteland" interview program complete with some live as it happened music that really thrilled my gills I'll tell ya! Given just how much of a NATURAL TALENT Brian was and just how he was suppressed by a local iron gripped rock media that sacrificed talent for big bux hackdom sure serves to show you why I have nothing but unbridled CONTEMPT for the likes of Anastasia Pantsios and WMMS-FM, people who would have been more'n glad to have served the Sands cause in the early and mid-seventies yet forsook the true cause of rock 'n roll when that big dollar sign was dangled in front of their snouts. It's sure great knowing that a man like Sands (and plenty more undocumented rock 'n roll genius) was hanging around the Cleveland area even if the Powers That Be were more than content to push some of the lowliest excuses for rock 'n roll down the throats of sopor-addled kids who sure as heck didn't know any better (and they sure as you-know-what smells didn't that's for sure, or don't you remember the late-seventies!).

Although I have almost all of the Sands discography in my mitts it was great listening to those great records of his again (not that I haven't been these past thirtysome years).  It seems as if FIXATION (despite that cover!) comes off even more potent here in the 'teens than it did when it was released. Perhaps the strange downer (if still "cool" enough for me) mood that permeated the colored wax is now way more in tune with my own unbalanced nature. Whatever, it sounds like the ultimate early/mid-seventies post-Beatle-pop/Zappa/Sparks/Bonzo/Marc/Fowley/(dare-I-say) early Bowie groove that was sure in short supply back when this 1980 effort was released. Perhaps this was just as much a "tombstone" to the 1964-1981 era of rock extrapolations as the closing of Max's Kansas City and the death of Lester Bangs were---well at least in my own scheme of rock categorization it MIGHT AS WELL BE!!!!

As for REHEATED CHOCOLATE TANGOS well, what else can I blab about a platter that remains on my top ten el-pees of all time list? Sounds just as fresh and as life-reaffirming now as it did when it came out, and how anyone could get away dismissing this one as being "a weird juxtaposition of sounds" is way beyond me! If you remember the sixties, this is a more than adequate compilation of everything that was RIGHT about those years and if you're still in the tie-dye and trips mode you probably don't even REMEMBER those years at all!

The Act One single that Brian sang on entitled "The Masquerade is Over" was new to me. Brian himself said I'd hate it and now that I've heard it well---it ain't as bad as I woulda been led to believe. Commercial true, but it has a rather good lead vocal on an otherwise mid-eighties slop pop backing that doesn't offend ya the same way things like Foreigner and Journey did. By the way, for all these years I thought Sands was gonna be singing the Harptones classic but boy was I wrong! Flipside is an instrumental in case you wanna karaoke this 'un yourself!

If you (like me) are really in the mood for more Sands after the above paragraph, then maybe you wouldn't mind stopping in at his Facebook tribute page where you can not only read more about this much-loved character but see some rare pictures and even video from the "Life of Brian" show that was held recently at Cleveland's Beachland Ballroom. I only hope more comes outta this gigantic effort courtesy Doris and others who knew and loved the guy, and who knows maybe those experimental films and rare Moses/Mouse/Milk/Brian and the Juniors/Confusions recordings will be made available for us rock starved peons out here in internetland! I mean, if anything dontcha wanna hear just how Moses performed "Instant Karma" or Milk handled that all-time wowzer "Memo From Turner"???? I sure do! Keep tuned for future merriment!
Despite inner qualms to the contrary, maybe I should get soapbox-y at this time as to just what I BELIEVE (not "feel", not "think") regarding  the recent loss or de-platforming as it should be called of the alternative to Twit-ter social media effort GAB. Thanks to that loonybin who shot up a Pittsburgh-area synagogue last week (a guy who just happened to have his own page like many others who haven't done any shooting up that I am aware of), the entire GAB operation has gone kaput ,at least for the moment, and I for one has gotta say that I am a tad bothered by this stifling event (not enough to lose sleep, but bugged nonetheless). I guess the real reason that I am "bothered" about it is because all those people I've seen crying about First Amendment rights and free speech until they were ready to pass out these past fortysome years (the same people who used to argue that books could NOT be banned from libraries and that included MEIN KAMPF as well as THE JOYS OF SEX) are all of a sudden either silent or actually cheering on the censors (I'm not using that term in its correct usage as only government can censor while everyone else "edits"), as if these moral guardians really were that steadfastly in favor of people outside their own sphere speaking their minds in the first place.

(By the way, do they still hold "Banned Book Week" at the library which for the most part is just another excuse for the enlightened lumpen to beat their chest over the silencing of minds they usually agree with? Maybe we should get a "Banned Internet Site/Blog Week" of our own just so's we can join in the garment rending in our own special way!)

Maybe not-so-strangely enough, the only GAB sites I've ever glommed have been "Westbrook Pegler"'s, not the journalist of yore I would surmise, as well as a few trad. Catholic ones he linked up that looked interesting. A small sampling true, but from what I could tell each and every one of 'em was nowhere in the frothing hate category that the snoots in charge tend to categorize GAB users as being complicit in! Maybe I just wasn't looking in the right place but still, I find it hard to believe that there was enough pressure placed to wipe out an entire "mix 'n mingle" as I like to say outlet because of one mere if deadly crank, especially when there are so many other cranks out there who not only get their highly vaunted platforms, but are encouraged and even applauded by the same kinda people who have been giving the people behind GAB so much trouble as of late. Like everything else, that tragedy was just a handy excuse.

Sheesh, the views I saw being expressed via the GAB sites that I've read were nothing out of what I used to see on a whole slew of the usual everyday social gathering outposts, at least until the political balance began tilting in another direction and like if the organizers don't like the way the game is played I guess they can take their ball and go home pouting all the way, ifyaknowaddamean...

Its not that I'm frightened to the core of my Yankee Doody being by the concept of sayin' what you want despite those dreaded consequences (this ain't no fifties-era anti-McCarthy "dangerous times we're living in" mope yer readin'!), but I sure find things a little bit creepy when various people/organizations are being dropped by Facebook and GAB is ridden outta internet-land on a rail because they just don't conform to some seemingly arbitrary speech standard that the Big Tech guys just happen to favor (and you know which side they're in favor of, eh?). And I ain't just talking about various right-leaning efforts which seem to attract the ire of the socially aware uplifters but a few others that ain't exactly part and parcel of the alt-right/lite camp! Y'know, things like those cop watchdog ones etc. so forth that SHOULD attract people from all over the mindsphere that have lost their presence because well, we gotta be nice and pleasant here in the age o' Trump even if the Nation of Islam can still retain THEIR presence on the web.

The way things are going (I feel like some elderly relative of mine back in the late-sixties!) it's gonna be like there will be NUTHIN' on the computer these days 'cept nice and pleasant musings about a world where we can all toss frisbees in the park and sing in perfect harmony on a hill like in that Coca-Cola commercial. And who in their right mind would sacrifice things like opinions and attitude for something as painfully transparent and slave-loving (in the true spirit) as THAT???

To tell the truth I get "offended" by a whole lotta things I read which attack my mere existence onna internet, and most if not all of it tends to come from those mainstream "respected" sources who not only have the platform but the moolah muscle to back it up. But I suck it up and if I particularly feel like it I'll comment on things in my own way, as I'm sure most people who share or don't some of my worldview also do. An' really, do you see people of my so-called "ilk" out there calling for various hardcore left wing voices because they got their maybe not-so-precious spirits bruised? (Maybe so, but if there are any I ain't been readin' 'bout it much as of late. And I gotta admit that those who wish to make these tech companies utilities are not exactly headin' in the right direction either.) At least when I think of the concept of free expression, I don't see any sort of one way street set up where the young 'n enlightened can blab all they want while the old stodgy types like myself just have to sit 'n take it!

And so as it stands, the big guys wearing their even newer morality on their shoulders have succeeded in silencing a whole load of sites and people who I sure enjoyed eyeballin' o'er the past few years, and I get the feeling that they ain't onna stop with the likes of Alex Jones or Gavin McInnes either. I could be one of those sixties-era types who when confronted with the cold reality of life can only mutter about the next big outrage to hit society but I've been through too many my whole life to fall into that sap trap. At least there are a few brave souls calling the tech biggies out for the hypocrites they really are, and after they are silenced well, maybe a few more'll pop up in their place. Who knows? And maybe given how we've had that encroaching tide of "speech codes" and socially pious Big Motherisms gag us slowly over the years, maybe that should read "who cares?" As John Derbyshire once wrote, we are doomed only it's on the installment plan and like, just how can you fight starry-eyed Stalinism anyway???
If you think the above if nothing but one big ramble well, you shoulda seen what it was like BEFORE I struggled through about twenty re-writes on the thing! I think I'll leave it as it stands...after all, I may be downright illiterate but I sure got more etapoint things to say than the entire staff of TOO FUN TOO HUGE ever did an' that's no idle prattle from a blog that has probably given you more than your share! Anyway, if you're disgruntled by all that just read these reviews...boy will you REALLY be disgruntled then!

Willie Lane-KNOWN QUANTITY LP (Feeding Tube Records)

Feeding Tube Records has gotta be one of the better (if not best!) current day vinyl output label dedicated to creating sounds that you just haven't et yet! Or at least a label responsible for releasing beautiful shards of sonically smart sounds that oughta get out into the world a whole lot more'n they have! This platter from guitarist Willie Lane is just one example of the kinda smart ware that Feeding Tube excels in. KNOWN QUANTITY is the name, a reissue of a previously really limited edition pressing which features Lane's acoustic guitar playing that teeters in between Robbie Basho and Sandy Bull and gets your inner spirit into places that Coke and aspirin never could! Great, inward-turned intensity played (dare-I-say) beautiful guitar playing here, and it sure is done up a whole lot more directly than some of the more heralded acoustic stringbenders who had been getting alla that Windham Hill popularity these past few decades. Something tells me that if this record had been released in the mid/late-sixties it woulda been the soundtrack for a whole lotta inter-dorm oompah ifyaknowaddamean...
Various Artists-INCANTATIONS FOR TAPE LP and CD (Sound Miracle Recordings, available here)

I bought this one on a total lark and y'know pennies were spent rather tastily for once. As a collection of electronic music this succeeds what with a mix of the serious doritos and stale berets kinda sounds that were being cranked out since the forties (or even earlier as the cover suggests) as well as some interesting pop-oriented items, the most familiar of the batch being a track by Joe Meek's Blue Men. Lack of liner notes does make finding out a whole lot more about these composers and their wares rather  frustrating, but I'm sure a good internet search'll turn up the stories behind these very intriguing platters which sound extremely clear despite the expected feh-quality sound sources. Comes on transluscent grey vinyl as well as with an enclosed Cee-Dee copy, in case you wanna drive around with it playin' inna car and impress all the gals like Lester Bangs usedta do with METAL MACHINE MUSIC (or something like that).

Blood Quartet-UNTIL MY DARNKESS GOES LP (Feeding Tube Records)

's funny, but I never really cozied up to Don King, the trumpet-laden aggregation which some would say was Marc Cunningham's post-Mars claim to fame, but this effort done in the here and now with his Spanish group Blood Quartet, really moves me. Well, not to the point of addled ga-ga's, but it's still a fine jazz (as in Cunningham's solid trumpet lines) unto rock (fair enough avant musings with a rhythmic drive) music that really does get all of that bad eighties New York City kitchi-kitch politico-smarm usually associated with this kind of music outta my mind. Iberian references mix with late-seventies under-the-underground styles, drones and a mostly-instrumental ('cept for the drummer's weird whine-y wail) sound to create a music I never thought would have been possible. To make this even better there is a track named after (and undoubtedly dedicated to) the ULTIMATE self-generating musical genius know to one and all as "Jandek" and I dunno about you, but things like that make me feel all the happier inside!
Vector Command-SYSTEMS LP (Hozac Records)

Along with KSE and Feeding Tube, Hozac Records ranks as one top notch record label that seems a whole lot more plugged into my cranial capacities than most! The reason why is that they're devoted to the gnarlier edge of fun Amerigan punk rock concerns...the kinda punk rock they had before it was called new wave that eventually devolved into a tame kitten that could easily be stomped on by the big feet in the industry. The mere fact that they even released this forgotten gem by the post-Crime duo Vector Command is but one reason why Hozac is so "cooooooool", this electronic blur ain't some college boy dorm musical jagoff at all but exciting and at times driving pulse drone that fits in with the better portion of the new-unto-gnu wave music that soured things for more'n a few suburban slob chubs like myself. Straight-ahead rock 'n rollers will undoubtedly hate it, but given that maybe I have been known to veer from the paths set forth by the likes of Billy Miller perhaps I can admit to snuggling up to this at least during those more atonal moments in my life.
The Hot Doggers-SURFIN' USA CD-r burn (originally on Epic Records)

It's kinda strange, at least to this dim bulb, that a big label like Epic woulda released a quickie cash in album like this 'stead of an actual flesh and blood surf/instrumental platter by a real life act that coulda grown and grown into something that woulda been a whole lot more PROFITABLE for that particular company. Well, the Hot Doggers were about as fake as fanabla but at least these bozos, under the tutelage of Terry Melcher, put out a "there" exploitation surf platter that ranks with all of those ones you coulda found at the supermarket. Only this 'un would set you back a good three bucks 'stead of the ninety-nine cents that woulda got you one of those cheezoid imitations.

To fill out this particular Cee-Dee-Are, two of Melcher's single sides as "Terry Day" prove to be nothing other than just more celebrity children flopperoos, the kind that have plagued us for ages at least to the point where celebrities began hiding their children in dark closets. Don't believe what you've heard, these singles were probably the real reason Manson went after him!
Various Artists-MAGIC HOLLYWOOD ASCENSION BLUES CD-r burn (Bill Shute)

Strange. Amidst the rather tasty seventies-era rock 'n roll gems (Third World War, Sharon Tandy, Kim Fowley as Lance Romance) are tracks by Louisianan country guy Bill Nettles who, although pretty tip top in his pre-Mandrell country style, sure breaks up the decadent mood the other records deliver bigtime on! Oh well, I like this guy when he and his Dixie Boys are romping through the blues to the point where they need to be force fed Citalopram. But the rock stuff really is fitting in with my own sense of seventies rockist supremacy what with Third World War's "Ascension Day" (which I do believe is that rare single-only take), Tandy's hard-rock drive and Fowley doing the Runaways fave a few years prior to the hit version! The Waldos (see last week's reviews) are also fine extrapolating on the Dolls/Heartbreakers sound without sounding like parody and even the Open Mind cap this off with a psychedelic gem which starts off like an old Hawkwind song! Good batch of bare-wired music there, and even Nettles fits in in his own downhome primal way!
Sheesh, you people DISAPPOINT me! Here I am sellin' all of those ginchy groovy BLACK TO COMM back issues and like are any of you out there rushing your orders in to fill up your very own rockism-barren brains with something other than Dave Lang? Sometimes you people SURPRISE me...for shame!

Thursday, November 01, 2018

BOOKS REVIEW! SLASH : A PUNK MAGAZINE FROM LOS ANGELES by Brian Rottinger and J.C. Gabel (Hat and Beard Press, 2016); RIPPED AND TORN (Ecstatic Peace Library, 2018)

Ever since Hozac's much-needed and oft-referred to (at least in my parts) DENIM DELINQUENT collection it seems as if a few more comps of fanzine ephemera have popped up on the good ol' softcover front. As you can probably guess, I'm more'n just plain "happy" to receive both the SLASH and RIPPED AND TORN books---in fact I'm just OVERJOYED at the mere thought that these tomes for the times are out and about thus saving me from having to read my issues of SPOONFUL and NIX ON PIX over and over, not that such an act is anything but pleasurable in my own suburban slobbish way...

Both SLASH and RIPPED AND TORN were fanzines that really (no foolin'!) served their purpose on their particular rock 'n roll fronts. Both debuted right when punk rock was starting to slip into the imaginations of more'n just a few ranch house kiddies thanks to the rock press for once letting its Meltzerian side shine. After all, ya gotta remember that for once reams of publicity was being dished out to everyone from the Dictators and Patti Smith to the Ramones and Flamin' Groovies and like, suddenly there was a reason to hang out a bit longer at the record shop. And as history doth predicted, both publications 86'd when the generation of p-rock these mags championed had grown into quite a character that in many ways might have been the very antithesis to the type of music that got 'em on the ol' rah-rah bandwagon inna first place. Ya also gotta admit that both of these periodicals sure captured the whole mood and mode of the time not only with their unchained fannish enthusiasm, but with their better'n average writing capabilities (or at least better'n the standard college paper faux hip kid writing about James Taylor in the lamest Robert Christgau-derived style extant) which came off as the logical conclusion to the Golden Age of Rock Writers neo-gonz style that was captivating more'n just a "few" serious rock minds out there!

The SLASH book coulda been better. But then again, why should I be complainin' considerin' just how much work and effort went into this gigantic collection featuring a slew of photos and reminiscences as well as hey...even some copy taken directly from the pages of that infamous paper. But sheesh, I kinda wish this 'un woulda been a collection that reprinted the original pages of ALL the issues as they appeared with maybe a few rear-view mirror rose colored comments stuck in-between. That would have been a Herculean task but hey, it woulda been well worth it.

Still it's a good 'nuff tribute to a mag that, at least in my own opinion, reflected the whole El Lay under-the-underground rock 'n roll attitude and various other sundries rather spiffily. Maybe not as good as one-time adversary BACK DOOR MAN did (well, Phast Phreddie eventually became a SLASH contributor but wha' th' hey) but still fantastic enough. I particularly enjoyed the way they covered the various forms of "rebel music" that editor Claude Bessy (a man worthy of hefty punkitude rehabilitation and maybe a collection of his entire output) felt boff enough to appear in these tabloid pages, and why this guy got the big thumbs down from more'n a few wags out there I'll never know. By the way, have any copies of Bessy's pre-SLASH reggae fanzine ANGELINO DREAD ever surfaced? That one must be one of the most talked about yet rarely seen under-the-counterculture rags since TEENAGE WASTELAND GAZETTE, and at least copies of that have surfaced as frequent visits to various "High Six" posts will certainly attest to..

BEST POINT: the care and love that was put into each and every page of this what with the rare snaps, fliers and other bits of late-seventies gunk that makes you wish you were front and center in the El Lay underground rock epicenter 'stead of home posing in front of your bedroom mirror. WORST POINT: the smaller-than-small reprinted pages that do appear which make the print in some of my own crudzines look like the READER'S DIGEST OLD FOGY'S EDITION! SECOND WORST POINT- what they left out, like the Roky Erickson interview or those Chris D reviews which sure make me wish he took a more rockscribe approach in his career choice!

On the udder hand, the RIPPED AND TORN collection is everything I woulda expected as far as paying homage to a classic rock fanzine'd go, not only with each and every page properly reproduced in its original color (when applicable you dunce!), but with the expected addendum which thankfully doesn't overpower the entire reason for this book existing in the first place. As far as punk rock fanzines go RIPPED AND TORN did follow the logical path one should have expected of a fanzine of this sort, heavily steeped not only in the local English fare but the early Amerigan progenitors (garage band rock, Lou, Patti, Ramones, Groovies, Modern Lovers...) and other interesting asides that perhaps other rags at the time felt unworthy of publicizing. As in SLASH, that expected fannish approach to rock both old and new is more'n just plainly evident and wooshes you through a time when, if only for a short period, rock 'n roll was as valid as it was in the mid/late-sixties when snatching up Seeds and Stooges platters seemed just an everyday affair in the lives of suburban slob kids who needed a music that fit into their everyday existences and UP WITH PEOPLE just wasn't cutting it!

Actually the mag seemed to squeeze nicely into the new generation of punk what with the coverage of newer influences on the local scene such as Crass, but somehow you could tell that it, like SLASH were somehow gonna be wooshed away by the new anarchist brigade which (even though we might not have totally let it sink into our thick skulls at the time) was nothing but the old and rancid hippie dream being relived only without the patchouli. Maybe it's good these mags croaked when they did considering just how the next generation of punk fanzines (or "'zines" as they began to be known as since "fanzine" was sooooo oldtymey collectors oriented or something like that) never did live up to the original thrust of it all. Sheesh, with both MAXIMUM ROCKNROLL and FLIPSIDE catering to the worst aspects of mind addled socially conscious world saving youth without the BS detection that seemed part and parcel to the kids who came before WHAT WOULD YOU EXPECT!!!! And let's not talk about the other "zines" which more or less seemed like old feminist handbooks and newsletters converted into music mags with that overbearing MESSAGE still firmly in place.

Hope these two books pan out to the point where maybe even they'll get hefty points from those snobs at the big city papers who wouldn't have touched any of these wares back when they were up and about. Perhaps then more of these efforts will come out and like, I could sure use a complete bound collection of not only the aforementioned SPOONFUL, NIX ON PIX and TEENAGE WASTELAND GAZETTE but such wonders as NEW AGE, PENETRATION and of course CAN'T BUY A THRILL. C'mon entrepreneurs out there...can't you smell a veritable GOLDMINE even when I point it out at ya????

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Howdy y'all. Another BLOG TO COMM big humongous weekend posting to greet you as you start yet another seven days of existence! If I do say so myself (I love cliches dontcha know?) I think I packed more into this particular post than Rock Hudson packed into the entire Vienna Boy's Choir during his European jaunt and that's really sayin' somethin'! Lotsa goodies to gab about this time, and gosh-it-all but I gotta say that yeah, I AM gladder'n glad to be up and about during this period in time because like there's still high energy music and other accessories like EARS to enjoy all of the sounds that I have come across throughout my life and well, sure there ain't anything rock 'n roll-y like there was when I was but a mere turdler goin' on these days but at least I have a good few thousand years of fun that has been left behind for me to peruse and digest the way I wanna and like, nobody other'n my pocketbook is gonna stop me from havin' a good time, y'know? (I love run-on sentences as well!) With alla the good sounds, readings and viewing that is at my mere fingertips I am set for LIFE, and I hope that life is a long one so I can cram alla the fun possible into whatever time I have left which is a whole lot more SATISFYING than serving mankind and those things alla those snooty kids I went to school with are probably doing as we speak! I mean, why volunteer to scrub toilets at a homeless shelter when you can stay home and KICK OUT THE JAMS!!!!! I mean, them toilets are just gonna get dirty again anyway...
As of the past week or so, I have been fulfilling some sort of  inner hunger in my pop-gulcher life by watching this Dee-Vee-Dee set that Brad Kohler sent me (and like, outta nowhere!---willikers) of the second half of the first season of none other than MY THREE SONS! Remember when this show slipped into syndication back inna mid-seventies and you were madder'n all heck because the early Tim Considine/William Frawley episodes weren't in the package? Remember when you were even MADDER when the reruns continued and it was obvious that the syndicators also left the final '71-'72 season off right when Ernie Douglas was looking so loose with long hair and wire-rimmed glasses? Well, if you like me didn't get to see those 'uns back when you needed 'em the most (and didn't have access to the old Nick At Night) these Dee-Vee-Dees sure do come in handy.

Gotta say that is sure was an edjamacation watching these very early 'uns considering how that series had evolved (or maybe even devolved to some) o'er the years what with the GIMMICK OF THE SEASON that kept the whole thing mutating in strange ways. Yeah, I knew that Fred MacMurray's scenes were all shot at once and the rest of the series afterwards, but watching these episodes where it seems as if his character is always either away at work or halfway across the globe for all I know sure lends credence to the mad dash it must have been to film these. Sheesh, most of the time it seems as if MacMurray's been reduced to a supporting character in his own series what with most of the adult supervision being left to either Frawley's Bub or the nebbish guy next door!

I also found these early ones to be a whole lot more anarchic than the more familiar color episodes, what with the general inter-brother chaos that seems to be going on a good portion of the time...I don't recall there being such a clash of screaming brothers and flustered Uncle Charlie going at each other all at one time like they do during these first season episodes!

Most do "work" amidst the clutter, but I will admit that the chemistry doesn't always quite mesh. Like in the one where the neighbor is conned into taking his wife, daughter, the three sons and Bub on a Sunday drive that keeps getting about funetticus interruptus! The episodes that try to be poignant (like this rather silly one featuring future Larry Tate David White as the father of a kid who wants to go away to school which for some reason is causing grief for everyone involved) fall flatter'n Olive Oyl's bustline, though as far as these "serious" entries go I did like the season finale where college kid Mike take a job on a forest lookout tower where he drives his co-worker crazy and ultimately, after making a big stink about his situation, is stuck alone during a severe thunderstorm warning. I dunno, it just seemed right, at least this time, to have some drama and tension packed into an otherwise har-har episode that wasn't trying to make some not-so-obscure socio-political point that happened to be chic that week.

Kinda wish these old episodes were in syndication because I sure coulda used 'em during my mid-teenbo suburban slob days when early-sixties sitcoms really packed a punch with me. After all, those later ones with Robbie having triplets just so's they could continue the title of the series for one more year or Chip eloping with Bobby Troup's daughter (both of these gimmicks that coulda been done up a whole lot better if ya ask me!) just don't cut it the way ya hoped they would! But gimme some of these old MY THREE SONS and a buncha LEAVE IT TO BEAVERs and throw a few MISTER EDs into the mix and it's just like one of those funtime tee-vee evenings we used to have back when I was a turdler, only without the juice glass full of root beer, the corn chips and the inevitable fight between me and my cyster!
IN OTHER NEWS, here's this week's video clip that proves to you that the spirit of THE NATIONAL PERSPIRER lives on even to this day...


Now that we got that bit of pleasantness outta the way here be de revooze! Got a lovely bunch if I do say so myself, some thanks to Bill Shute, others to Paul McGarry, at least one to Robert Forward and still another to Hozac Records which continues to amaze me with their abilities to tune into my very thought patterns. (Sorry Feeding Tube...didn't get to any of yours this time but I'll try to make up for it next time!) Anyway thanks to all who contributed to the revolution which I hope comes to fruition a whole lot more later than sooner...I mean, it's so fun fightin' the BIG FIGHT that I want this war against the jive to last FOREVER...

Lisa Cameron/Robert Horton-THE TEN THOUSAND THINGS CD-r burn (Kendra Steiner Editions, see blogroll on left for more information)

Strange as it may seem, this particular KSE Editions release is SO different than the previous ones to the point where even I am unable to rattle off the usual hackneyed comparisons in order to describe this quite unique affair. The standard KSE/small Cee-Dee-Are label sense of outside-the-out clang und sturm or whatever it's called can be discerned, but amidst the percussive clanks and other unworldly squeals there's a semblance of (now get this!) structured music goin' on here! Guitar emits funky riffs while the wall of percussion clatters about (that's on "Year End Skies") and the sax can get down to it when it likes (on "All Beneath Heaven"). Talk about surprises here...I can't describe this kinda music with my limited vocabulary but it sure captures my, and maybe even your psyche! And hey, don't you think that slide guitar sound on "The Eighth Horizon" sounds quite a bit like (now get this!) ALVINO RAY????
CHEAP NASTIES LP (Hozac Records, available here)

Here is one of those archival digs of some group we never would have known about had not one of its members been in an act that got a tad of underground credo once the eighties got into gear. Future Scientist Kim Salmon was guitar player with these nasty guys, and he and the rest of the brood do a pretty swank job capturing the punk rock feelings not just by hacking out the same one chord repeatedly (though that helps!) but by lifting more than a few moves from prior rock crazies who helped get the whole DIY rough sound kicked into gear while the rest of the world was snoozing away to John Denver's Colorado hippie paens. Shards of RAW POWER Stooges ram into "20th Century Boy" and like, this is what I remember punk rock was supposed to be like at least before the late-seventies crash and burn generation evolved into the eighties hippydippy concerns which have plagued us ever since!
Bettye LaVette-I'VE GOT MY OWN HELL TO RAISE CD-r burn (originally on Anti- Records)

Here's yet another one of those albums by someone who nobody seems to know about, but she sure made some sorta musical waves about a good ten years back when at least a few people were listening. Actually this LaVette lady sings some pretty honest neo-soul music to a choogling enough backdrop, but once you get through a few of these numbers you kinda realize that the only people who would really enjoy listening to this are those Big City rockcrit types who used to spout the usual analytical inanities in their own columns until the papers began trimming the fat a good while back. I haven't picked up a VILLAGE VOICE since CBGB closed down, but I do get the feeling that at one time LaVette woulda been getting some hefty coverage and PAZZ 'N JOP votes there, she's so custom made for those whitebread guiltmongers, ifyaknowaddamean...
Every Mother's Son-COMPLETE RECORDINGS CD-r burn (originally on MGM Records)

The "Come on Down" guys really jigsawed into that whole 1967 sunshine pop puzzle rather swimmingly, but next to the Monkees, Turtles and Yellow Balloon types there's a certain lack of zip in these recordings. Not that there weren't a number of good pop expressions here and there, but for the most part I found these Sons rather plain in comparison to the competition. In other words, I ain't exactly bustin' out cryin' o'er skipping on their records during my flea market and garage sale combing days. For late-sixties commercial Top 40-styled pop rock one could do much better with a mere combing of the charts.
Various Artists-DOWNTOWN NEW YORK LP (Virgin)

In a whole lotta ways this 'un could be considered a LIVE AT CBGB's-kinda album only it ain't live and I believe some of the acts here never appeared on that sainted stage. But some have and since it's all so theme-tied it might as well be 1988's answer to MAX'S KANSAS CITY 1976 for all I care. A mix of the various post-post-POST "local scene" a good decade after it began toppling over. Some of it is rather/sorta entertaining such as the Rude Buddha track as well as Frank Maya's "Polaroid Children" while others like Bernie Worrell's version of "Telstar" are just more disco wave we never did want in the first place. Surprise hit of the album's Loup Garou's Cajun-styled accordion rock which has a shard of En Why decadence to it but sounds all rice and beans-y otherwise. Liner notes by Lenny Kaye for all you seventies rockscribe groupies out there!
Walter Lure & the Waldos-WACKA LACKA LOOM BOP A LOOM BAM BOO CD-r burn (originally on Cleopatra Records)

For some reason this straight-ahead NYC-styled post-Dolls rock's hitting me just as hard as it did when I was buying up Dolls cutouts in the seventies! And THANK GOODNESS! Maybe its because I'm reading a whole lotta late-seventies English p-rock fanzines in preparation for a post that this one is doin' its ol' magic on me but dang if this one's sure snuggling into my musical makeup during my December years. Nice re-hashes of familiar Dolls/Heartbreakers numbers 'n melodies that---surprise---sound just as hotcha now as they did way back when. Sure these guys are older'n Methuselah but at least they deliver the straight-ahead rock 'n roll it a world where Miley Cyrus is considered the epitome of talent and unbridled energy!

Jeff Beck Group-DALLAS BOLERO CD-r burn

Believe it or not, but this is a surprisingly good recording of the Group during the '68 tour stretching out a whole lot more'n usual, Or so I've been told and if you can't trust Wikipedia who can you trust? It's got the expected (yet mandatory) selection of the usual white British blooze catalog and the whole thing comes off more'n just plain listenable---there are even a few moments of sheer intensity to be found. However, all I gotta say is---am I the only guy who can't really take a whole lotta this in one sitting or is that a common occurrence with these English whiteguy setups which do tend to drag on at times and really aren't different than any of the similarly minded efforts? Yeah, it's probably me who is the culprit, or so many of you readers would say...
Various Artists-OUTLET ABSTRACT COLONY KILLER CD-r burn (Bill Shute)

You can tell that Bill didn't really put his heart into this one. Maybe a lung or a pancreas or perhaps even a couple of kidneys. The new unto gnu wave of the Outlets and Abstracts only serve to remind me of just what a miasma the self-produced indie single scene had become once the eighties really settled down into the collective psyches of dare-to-be-different youth,  while the Gregory Dee and the Avantis sides fare better if only because they might be trying to be hipsters but fall short and thus are hipsters in true suburban slob rock 'n roll fashion! I've heard the New Colony Six "I Confess" single before but it's so good what's another go at it, while the Father Brown radio show was too cluttered and complicated for me to digest in my mind but eh, so what! The disque closer, another Ellery Queen Minute Mystery, was boffo but sheesh, that berry picker coulda been sent up the river on (once again) the flimsiest of evidence! I mean, how many of you know that unripened blackberries are red anyway?
Still looking to fill the gaps in your BLACK TO COMM collection? Well look no further Gertrude, because the highlighted link'll take you to a place where you can fulfill your wildest fantasies the ways the Danish never even dreamed of!

Thursday, October 25, 2018

COMIC BOOK REVIEW! TIP TOP COMICS #217 May-July 1959 (Dell Comics)

When I was a comic book collecting fanabla kinda guy, one thing was certain and that is that this is the kinda mag that I would have liked to have possessed in between the superhero fare and the Archie hah-hahs that cluttered up my collection! I mean, what self-respecting suburban slob wouldn't want to read original NANCY, THE CAPTAIN AND THE KIDS and PEANUTS comics that were nowhere to be seen in the actual funny pages anyway??? And hey, as my ten-year-old brain would have calculated, if you liked these comics as they appeared in the papers you were BOUND to like 'em in extended comic book romps, right? Right!!!!!

Unfortunately I never did come across any of these TIP TOP comics during my garage sale and flea market prowls, but given that it's now 2018 and comics like these ain't exactly ringing up the high prices unless you get one of those mintier-than-mint copies all packaged up and graded by the experts, it ain't like you're gonna break the bank trying to get hold of a good readable copy. And thanks to the miracle of ebay I got this very issue, one that I first saw pictured in that comic strip history book (I believe the one Coulton Waugh authored) which first piqued my interest in comic books from up outta nowhere back when most of you readers were still swimmin' around in daddy's gun barrel.

Well, this 'un cost me way more than the ten cents I woulda hadda pay had I been alive and conscious and knew about what to do with a dime during those times, but I sure got enough thrill chills outta it had I been around back then and was torn between purchasing this or a tootsietoy. A tough decision true, but as we all know there are times when we have to make decisions for ourselves and see how our coffers are best put to use, at least before the folk find out you got that dime and make you drop it in the piggy bank.

You get four stories featuring them aforementioned comic strips! There are actually two NANCY stories but one of 'em, for some obscure reason, is attributed to Sluggo even if Nancy is heavily involved in the on-page antics! But no matter what, both are pretty hotcha tales that were done up by the infamous John Stanley of LITTLE LULU, and gosh-honest me must admit that the guy sure did a much better job of capturing the Bushmiller beauty than he did in his other Dell Comics efforts. 

In the first NANCY featuring Rollo the Rich Kid (who is atypically rendered here as a pampered snoot), the kid of no want is given his own Egyptian tomb which was shipped straight from over there for him to personally open himself. Naturally Nancy and Sluggo sneak in first and discover that someone definitely has been in the tomb in the five-thousand years since the death of the Pharaoh! In the other "Sluggo" saga the boys are building their own tree house which the girls (including Nosy Rosie, who was a rather obscure entry in the NANCY canon) one-up with an even better built abode until it is decided that since Rollo's so rich his dad could build a super up-to-date tree house that the gals in no way could compete with! Naturally Nancy does take her revenge which backfires on the girls (yet still does the boys harm) so its like everyone is uppachit creek.

I must admit that I really do enjoy those Dell-era PEANUTS comics that were done up by one of Charles Schulz's assistants (probably Jim Sasseville) even to the point where I wish one of those comic book publisher types would begin collecting them in annotated hard-cover form. They stick pretty close to the whole PEANUTS style right down to the bowed "w"'s and the stories do have that Schulz feel to 'em that goes on for pages and pages instead of just a few panels. This 'un has something to do with Lucy trying to keep a secret yet wanting to blab it so much that she actually chases Charlie Brown around in order to tell it! Of course the whole thing backfires on Charlie Brown when Lucy decides not to tell it after the poor sap's been primed to the point of near-insanity!

Gotta say that the art in THE CAPTAIN AND THE KIDS looks pretty close to the Rudolph Dirks or better yet his son John's version, and the story, while not as anarchic as either that strip or THE KATZENJAMMER KIDS, is still a good tale having to do with der Captain und der Inspector trying to get a little pinochle privacy in a gas-filled balloon while the kids und Mama go after them in a sling-shot propelled rocket of their own design. Hey it's good 'nuff for this kind of book even if I do remember the comic (at least around the thirties) being rather brutal as far as the tricks and violence could get within the realm of the funny pages.

'n to think that at one point in time you coulda bought this with some dime you found on the sidewalk! What better way could a suburban slob think of wiling the afternoon away than with a comic book like this featuring three of the brighter stars of the United Features Syndicate stable! If I come across any more of these late-fifties-era TIP TOPs you can bet that I'm gonna snatch 'em up, hopefully after I talk the price down quite a bit because this review is bound to make their value go way outta sight, y'know?!?!?!

Tuesday, October 23, 2018


There was a time in the 1970’s and 1980’s when it seemed as though Scatman Crothers was in every third film released, and he was always extremely entertaining and charming and stole whatever scenes he was in. And let’s not forget his cartoon-voicing career, such as the legendary HONG KONG PHOOEY. He was the kind of all-around entertainer we don’t see enough of today. However, though most know him for his film and TV appearances, most of his career prior to his late-period film stardom was spent primarily in the music world, making jazzy R&B and jump blues and cocktail blues records for many labels large and small. A decade or so ago I reviewed a European collection of his more rocking sides in UGLY THINGS magazine, and I hope many of you picked that album up--it’s a CD on the Hydra label called I WANT TO ROCK AND ROLL, and features 30 hot and amazing tracks.

Cut to 1972....Crothers has a role in the Motown-produced bio-pic of Billie Holiday (sort of), LADY SINGS THE BLUES, starring Diana Ross. He plays Big Ben, a customer in the brothel where Billie works. Billie shows up late to work that day, depressed and disgusted with such a job, and makes it up to the room where she plies her trade, and soon after, Scatman Crothers struts in as Big Ben, a jive-talking operator and customer, who does not let Billie get a word in edge-wise. In a brilliantly filmed scene, as Billie watches Big Ben strip down to his long johns, she gradually puts her own clothes back on, and he’s so busy talking and laughing at his own jokes that he’s oblivious to it. When he finishes, she bolts out the door and tells him, no hard feelings but she’s through with this field.

Other than that, there’s no conversation between them. I saw this film theatrically back in 1972, and as a 13 year old, I did not know a lot about Billie Holiday’s life, so I actually thought the film was quite well done. I vividly remember how the audience was totally entertained by Scatman Crothers in that scene--and this was before he was really a star and most of the audience might not have even known his name.

Evidently Motown thought a lot of Crothers’ appearance as Big Ben, at best a supporting role in the film, because not only did they put out an album by Crothers soon after the film’s release, they named it after the character he played AND pictured him in those long johns on the cover.

And what an album it is! Absolutely NO covers of hits of the day or soul compositions Motown had the publishing to, but instead, a small group (pno-gtr-bs-dr....and mellow sax on a few tracks) doing laid-back after hours R&B circa 1951 with our man jiving and scatting his way through both old chestnuts and new old-style compositions of his own.. Prior to his stardom, Scatman had probably done this kind of thing thousands of nights in third-rate lounges playing to the regulars and the serious drinkers. This is not the aggressive taunting vocalizing of a Wynonie Harris or the operatic blues-shouting of a Roy Brown----Scatman has a weed-fueled mellow jive to his delivery (hey, he probably had to perform 5 or 6 hours a night in these places and had to conserve his energy!), and the supple band, who fit like a glove, never rush things. In many ways this is the perfect album to listen to at 3 a.m. on a hot summer night, with the lights down, looking out onto the street below, nursing your third or fourth Scotch. I’ve actually owned this album for FORTY or more years and I never tire of it. Also, believe it or not, you can still get a copy used for FOUR dollars, according to Discogs.

I can’t imagine ANYONE not liking this album. As with Scatman’s acting, his singing is witty and laid-back and always in the groove, and the band is like the dream R&B lounge combo. You need this album in your life. Other than the sound quality, which is sparkling 1973 stereo, I would have pegged these recordings as having been made between 1950-53. That Scatman could get away with issuing an album of early 50’s lounge-R&B on a major soul label in 1973 is testimony to the man’s charm. Put this album on next time there are people over, and I’d bet all of them compliment it and ask who is that singing and where can they get a copy!