Saturday, August 23, 2014

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

MOOM PITCHER REVIEW! HOOK, LINE AND SINKER starring Bert Wheeler and Robert Woolsey (Radio Pictures, 1930)

Wow, whatta surprisingly funny offering from the team of Wheeler and Woolsey, one that I gotta say is much better'n their previous romp HALF SHOT AT SUNRISE. Now that one, although delivering on some rather good guffaws if you paid attention hard enough, was bogged down by musical numbers and a rather weak script that just couldn't hold the attention span of this mental adolescent occupied long enough but you don't get any of that here...heck, there ain't even an opening musical theme to accompany the titles so you know that this 'un ain't one of those high-falutin' comedies custom-made for the fru frus who go for sophisticated high class comedies with Katherine Hepburn in 'em that's for sure!

Wheeler and Woolsey play a couple of lovable ne'er do well types (what else?) who come to the aid of the cute as a button Dorothy Lee, a lass who has inherited a sleazebag hotel which (thanks to the quick thinking of Woolsey who places a bogus article in the papers) becomes a four star resort for the rich and classy types on the lookout for a li'l getaway. Strangely enough Woolsey's ingenious idea bungles the plans of Lee's old boyfriend, a lawyer who is also working as a smuggler using the hotel to hide his goodies.

A lotta advance publicity regarding the hotel's extra-secure safe also bring out the criminals including a phony duke and duchess, and after the usual funtime plot twists it all comes to a shooting conclusion during a power outage which (believe it or not!) is a whole load funnier'n any preconceived notions you might have accrued after years of watching b-movie crankouts on weekend television during your kiddie upbringing years.

W&W in their typically years of vaudeville experience fashion spew the lines out at quite a rapid pace, and even the cornballiest of jokes work when they're rat-a-tatted your way to the point where they're almost toppling all over each other. The standard plot (I mean, how many films both comedy and drama have used that over-squirted premise?) actually is improved thanks to the talents of the two, and it's so good to the point where even the misfires don't make you wanna switch stations and watch DICK CAVETT  like you probably woulda hadda do way back 1972 way. And just because Dick Cavett liked Wheeler and Woolsey doesn't mean you have to hate them, though frankly I don't know what Cavett thought of 'em one way or the other!

A surprise winner from this still-remembered comedy team that just might suit even the most jaded of people who troll this blog. Might be the one to catch next time it pops up on your local low-wattage "antenna" station in between DANNY THOMAS reruns, but you rich kids who get Turner Classic Movies might wanna check your tee-vee schedules as well.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Sorry to take soooooo long (Sunday nite even!) to get this post out to you, but I was way too busy havin' fun celebrating the death of Robin Williams to drag myself in front of the ol' computer! Well no, not really (after all, I never did have any contact with him whether it be personal or via the various social networks), but let's just say that I am one ol' stinkin' turd of a human being out there in sowhaddaboudit land who ain't joining the choruses of hosannas 'n rendered garments that could be heard on many a tee-vee show this past Tuesday sniffing on about this "great loss" of a worthy human life. (And believe-you-me, when Ozzie Nelson died back '75 way all he got was a quickie mention as if his mere existence had nada social significance!) Now, I could be a smartass about it and say that I was "choked up" over his suicide 'n all, but that would be so typically tasteless of myself so why should I bother. But I will say that I am one guy who won't be claiming to High Heaven that Williams was one of the greatest comedians and emotive actors since Charlie Chaplin, and everyone knows what a twat he was!

Hokay, I will admit that I was one of the many suburban slobs who used to tune into MORK AND MINDY on a regular basis during the show's first season and that it was, from what I remember, watchable enough that during my budding Asperger's Syndrome days even I mighta blurted out a few "na-noo na-noo"'s during a fambly get-together or two. Of course this was during the big slide from seventies Second Golden Age of Tee-Vee revival to eighties flounder, and eventually I bailed out on the series like I was wont to do with a whole lotta programs that just didn't measure up to the high quality and standards of just one episode of LEARN TO DRAW WITH JOHN GNAGY. Maybe life just wasn't funny anymore...heaven knows that SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE wasn't once 1980 rolled around and neither were a good portion of the sitcoms that I had been tuning in to for quite some time. Anybody care for another round of ARCHIE BUNKER'S GRAVE* reruns??? Thought so.

If I ever got a laugh outta some Robin Williams stand up routine it must've been so rare I totally forgot about it. Ditto any of his film appearances, every one of which I've seen just reeking of post-hippie glop 'n ennui.  For some of us (didn't take count at the last curmudgeons meeting) Williams had become just another eighties relic and reminder of a time in my life when everything from music as an overbearing force (a la the sixties/seventies non-hippoid credo that gave us everything from the Stooges to Lester Bangs) to life as a celebration of youthful anger and justified revenge was either far beyond my reach or dead as a doornail, and if anybody could laugh or sigh or moan at the man's comedic or acting "abilities" they really must have either a dull sense of humor or had just recovered from that surgery where they remove your skull and stick weird metal probes on it that make you utter nonsense syllables.

It may seem callous to some, but for me Robin Williams was a guy who had everything anyone could have wanted in the world but didn't have enough sense to seek the mental help he obviously needed. Mind was probably too clouded from alla dem drugs those Hollywood types take, which is perhaps another reason we jackasses shouldn't worship the jackals in our lives. The newscasters and papers may mourn the passing of a guy who mirrored their own sick sense of what is supposed to be the new normal or whatever they call it, but all I could see was an unfunny guy who pandered to humorless people who always go about with a look on their faces that says they know something I don't, and personally I wish they'd keep whatever it is they do know to themselves!

Also rip to Lauren Bacall, who looked rather nice when she was younger unlike the androids they call females these days. But again, I really couldn't say much else because well, she was more like something from my parents' generation 'n all, and although I like old mooms as much as the next insomniac it wasn't like she was yukkin' it up with the Three Stooges 'r anything like that. And anymore it's things like that which mean all the more to me as the years creep on.
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As you can tell, this "Special Report From BTC News" has postponed the planned post that was to have appeared here this week. That of course will be rescheduled at a future date just like all of those tee-vee programs you wanted to see only John Kennedy got his Excedrin Headache and ruined a fine weekend for us. In its stead I'm going to fill the rest of this 'un up with the post I had been planning to present next week, which of course I hadda do a whole lotta extra work on just so's to make this thing look "presentable". Between you and me I don't think I did that hotcha of a job getting this up to BLOG TO COMM standards, but considering the way life is going these days who gives a whit about standards anyway???
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The big surprise these past few days was the discovery of a bonafeed crapload of new FIGURES OF LIGHT releases that are available via where else but CD Baby. Even more surprising is that none of these recent releases are available via the Norton label of fine fanablas leading me to believe that there may have been a falling out between the two parties at hand. Maybe not (after all, some of the material on these platters is not exactly up to the musical ideals set forth by the likes of Billy Miller and Miriam Linna, as you will see), but it's sure great knowing that this recently-revived act is still up and about making music (some of it good) while the rest of us are more content to sit around in our fart-encrusted bedrooms typing about it on our blogs. Anyway, here are the most recent releases from the soon-to-be-reckoned-with FOL label that you just might know about, and in case you're wondering why I didn't review the download-only selections it's because with a computer like mine, who knows where those files will end up!


LOST & FOUND is the sturdiest of the batch, a long-playing platter which contains a number of old, new and even newer tracks in varying qualities and the standard no-chord playing. A nice li'l sampler which introduces us to some new trackage of worth not forgetting some live cuts from a 1972 show at Vorhees Chapel where you can actually hear the vocals (and who out there would not believe that "Strawberry Jam" from this very show sounds almost exactly like that blues jam from THE CHELSEA GIRLS soundtrack????! Not a duff cut to be found (and thankfully it all sounds suburban ranch house 1966, especially the mid-six-oh Beatles swipe "You Better Wise Up"), though I'm still puzzled as to why the inclusion of that Belladonna and the Decimators "Death Metal Cover" of "It's Lame"! What a strange sense of humor these guys have!


GIMME A QUARTER only clocks in at sixteen minutes, but those seconds are well spent with these recent recordings that showcase the band's various aspects. Seems as if a certain Stuart Pendergast is now a member of the act on guitar (Dixon and Downey handling the rest of the gear), and they do swell on such toonz as "Arrested Adolescent" and "Frustration". Some of these tracks, like the title one ("Totally Insane Remix" version) remind me too much of mid-eighties new wave for comfort, but since I can still work up a bit of a froth over some of the things my favorite post-seventies NYC outfits (or their survivors) could pull off then maybe I can enjoy the pre-programmed drum track'd offerings for what they are. But please don't go tellin' my 1985 self this turgid fact!


I dunno what you think about CD singles, but I'm sure you know what I think of them myself! Still, I did like the precious few minutes that the double-tracker "l;eave Her Alone" and "Dreams of the Past" unveiled before my very ears...dunno how this could qualify as a Figures of Light release proper consiering that Wheeler W. Dixon's main role in this release was as producer (Downey playing guitar with the aforementioned Pendergast handling everything else) but the instrumentals to be heard on this 'un are thankfully typical of the wild surf-y sounds that the Figures have been releasing on their previous and widely available platters so there's nothing really to fear from plunking down the moolah for this 'un.


Now, there may be something to fear from buying the group's THE OPEN DOOR four-tracker since it sounds about as far from the garage band-y Figures of Light sound that had me bidding a hefty $127.85 on their original single and getting outbid within a few minutes. The title track ("for Lou Reed" as it says) sounds more like a backing track for some 1982 Roxy Music cum new wave act that got stuck in limbo after the lead singer dislodged both tonsils during an extended holiday in San Francisco, while the "It's a Scream" mixes remind me of something a really masochistic bedroom-level bunch of budding musicians woulda sent to FORCED EXPOSURE ca. 1987 just so they could get off on the scathing negative review their efforts would surely render. Dixon plays synth and nothing but on these instrumental sides and really, I never thought that anybody even remotely associated with the Norton label past present or future even touched one of the things!


For a better mix 'n match you might wanna try GREAT! NOW WE GOT TIME TO PARTY! But then again maybe not. Again, most of the music contained within these grooves have nada to do with the Figures of Light sound that I've raved on about, and in fact the title track comes off more like some easily-enough whipped out computer-generated number I'm sure any astute middle-aged daddoid coulda cranked out with the aid of his seven-year-old son. One track, "Heading For The Sky", even sounds more like a Mobius/Plank track than a garage band standard, but at least there's a 2013 "remaster" of "It's Lame" that will at least jolt you back into rock 'n roll reality.


Of which there is very little on THE POWER, perhaps the weakest of the batch. Starting off with yet another electronic flub-a-dub, the title track is painful to sit through but at least the Downey/Pendergast instrumentals are relaxing enough. But then again it's back to a "Super Ballistic Version" of "Gimme Gimme Gimme" which once again comes off like pure electronic effect jagoff that irritates me to no end. Dunno what got into these guys bub, but talk about the sharp dichotomy between teenage garage fun and post-gnu wave ahtzyness...



Also clocking in on the short end of things yet packing a (thankfully) much better wallop's TOO MANY BILLS, NOT ENOUGH THRILLS which contains some leftover Norton-era recordings produced by one-time Gorie and Light Figure Mick Collins, along with a newer number once again featuring  Pendergast. The earlier tracks might just be outtakes but what a nice batch they are what with that patented A-Bone-esque sound that gets the punk rock drill down hard 'n good as if it were still 1976 filtering 1966 vibrations as if 1971 and the Peace Train got derailed for good. The last song tho is once again just Downey and Pendergast cooking up a pretty decent instrumental number that doesn't exactly zoom you back to some bikini scene in an AIP moom pitcher, but wh' th' hey...


What I guess would be the latest Figures of Light release "proper" (or "improper" if you prefer) would be BUY BEFORE YOU DIE, a full-length feature with this year's copyright date on it and Dixon and Downey joined by even newer members, this time an Andrew Nicodema and Alex Berserker, the latter of who has one of the better rock 'n roll names heard in quite awhile. And it's back to the great ol' teenage sound here with the band cranking out in that fabulous Ramones meets the Real Kids cum six-oh style that really sounds dated, but in the way alla us ranch house suburban slobs like our datedness anyway.  If you expect to turn on the tee-vee and see an episode of SGT. BILKO pop up, this is the one for you!


And finally on today's schedule WHAT'S THIS???, fiftysome minutes of nothing but atonal and perhaps even immoral guitar feedback in the grand tradition of "Loop" and all of those other attempts to get the guitar to play the amp! Here's da scoop..."On January 24, 1971, three original members of Figures of Light - Wheeler Winston Dixon, Michael Downey, and Phil Cohen - presented a concert of feedback music at Brecht West Theater in New Brunswick, NJ. Unlike their other concerts, this performance consisted entirely of feedback from the band's electric guitars, thus anticipating Lou Reed's 1975 METAL MACHINE MUSIC LP by several years. The tapes of the concert, however, were lost, only the poster remained to mark the date." So what did the team of Dixon and Downey do about the missing recording---pout and cry about it??? No, the recreated the entire shebang in the here and now making for an extended one-track romp that takes alla that gab about electronic music you've heard for eons and puts it in its proper place (which, in case you didn't know, was your laser launching pad). Listen hard enough and you too will enter into the fabled "cloud" that Lou Reed once talked about, and if you hear trumpets and Renaissance choirs in this stew I wouldn't doubt you one bit.

And (of course) if you wanna buy any or all of these rarities, you know where you can go ('n it ain't FYE that's for sure!).
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INTRODUCING THE ELEVENTH HOUSE WITH LARRY CORYELL, LARRY CORYELL & THE ELEVENTH HOUSE AT MONTREUX CDs (both on Vanguard)

Sometimes I do tend to take rockist kismet for what its worth, like the time, and the reasons I snatched these two fusion slabs up was just because of the same innate drive that'll have me slipping on an Amon Duul side after reading a Velvets = krautrock article or tearing through a pile of John Cage platters after his particular brand of free splat is compared and contrasted with Yoko Ono. This time I followed through on my whims to give Coryell and co's early releases a try after coming across too many fusion refs. in my rockist reading, especially a positive review of Return to Forever by Charles Shaar Murray in some old NME not to mention former Man-ster bass guitarist Tommy Gee referring to his earlier combo as being "jazz fusion" which does put an interesting spin on what was going on underneath the underground at CBGB if you also consider the reams of jazz-oriented rock strut that was taking place in the various En Why clubs at the time. (Still looking for tapes of the Boston-area teenage jazz rock combo Yarbles if anyone out there is willing to comply...)


INTRODUCING is the better slab even with the various slick and processed numbers...at least this one could whip up somewhat of a noisy storm when prodded somewhat. Overtly mid-seventies jazz-guitar.synth-laden true (perhaps Coryell's work with Gary Burton would be more up my ever-expanding alley?) but still solid enough despite the patented electronic whirrs and heard it too many times before hot flash guitar lines. At least it can conjure up spasmodic images of typical jazz-bred tension and angst when needed, which is more than I can say about the pallid musings of the bowtie schmooze that came in the Eleventh House's wake.

And without the airy-fairy conjuring of Return to Forever or the trendy bump 'n grind of way too many mid-seventies jazzbos out for the moolah, this 'un does tend to satisfy even if it is only because it doesn't end up sounding like the aural equivalent to an ad for a synclavier to be found in the pages of DOWN BEAT magazine.


Big thumbs down for the live 'un though, which has the House playing at the Montreux Jazz Festival and losing much in the translation. As far as live albums go, this is way too sterile and fly-spec-less for my own personal sense of sonic crunch. Maybe if Vanguard had released an album from one of the group's appearances at Max's Kansas City from around the same time this woulda been easier to sit through because hey, something about Max's as well as CBGB used to really bring out the scuzz in a man's music, y'know? But until somebody does decide to release that Man-ster album maybe this is about as close to a non-aerie faeire jazz rock sound we can dare to get as far as mid-seventies tastes go, outside of the title track on RADIO ETHIOPIA.
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Sun Ra-CHURCH ORGAN, 1948 one-sided LP (no label)

Dunno if this 'un was put out by the same stroon who released that boffo Agents of Misfortune single-sided album that came out late last year, but it sure looks like the same mad method that was put into that 'un was dumped into this strangity as well. According to the spoken introduction, Ra had purchased an early "paper" tape recorder in the late-forties and recorded a number of tracks in some unnamed church which I guess hadda be reconsecrated after the music of Blount was performed. Two jazz standards and an original, all kinda sounding like the soundtrack to a silent movie being played by Mrs. Muriel Carter of Tupelo Miss. who had been tippling at the punch bowl during the intermission to TEN NIGHTS IN A BARROOM. Lotsa "roots" of future accomplishment to be found, no doubt.
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Various Artists-ROCK BOTTOM SCATTY BULBS-A-GRIZZLY CD-r burn (guess)

And last as usual here's the latest Bill Shute spin that I plucked outta the pile and slapped into the Cee-Dee launching pad during a Sunday afternoon of utter boredom. And hey, it's a pretty goody good toe-tapper and that's not only because of the old radio spot ads that'll zoom you back to 1951 whether you wanna go back there or not.** Exemplary selection here,. from the mock Beach Boys of Greg Mihran's "Grab-a-Grizzly" to the Off Set doing their darndest mid-sixties West Coast folk rock best to topple the Turtles and Association at their own game. Of course if you want something a little less professional there's always Barbara Gorman and Sister Viv sounding like Big Ethel and Sugar Bea from PONYTAIL (or was it the off-center spindle hole?) singing "8 O'Clock Date".

But the bestest off all happens to be a couple of NEW numbers, and both of 'em are from modern living and breathing modern day bands as well. The New Mystikal Troubadours' "Nature's Way " (not the Spirit song) is unbelievably wowzy, sounding like an unholy cross between the Velvet Underground at their droniest mixed with the best San Francisco had to offer before hackdom ensued slapped onto the b-side of a 1972 obscure self-produced single. The Peter Kerlin Octet's "Bulbs" reminds me of the late-sixties free jazz cum rock of acts like the Charging Rhinoceros of Soul and Carnal Kitchen. Both really affected this old fanabla in a way that kinda reminded me of back inna mid-eighties when I was looking for some then-current signs of 60s/70s accomplishment being made in the proper eighties mode...and FOUND it usually in the most obscure places one could think of. Gotta look out for more by these acts, though I do get the stinking suspicion that they ain't gonna live up to these superdupers, certainly not to be confused with superdopeers!

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*hokay, that was swiped from some early-1980 ish of CREEM I only perused via the stands, but I'll bet you never even read the thing so why not swipe from a mag that was also in the throes of early-eighties agony?

**though I gotta admit that the five-second "Park Free Save More" sounded like a mid-seventies Philip Glass vocal composition!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

MOOM PITCHER REVIEW! THE LAST DAYS OF POMPEII starring Steve Reeves (1959)

Sheesh, another wopadago Pompeii film for me to peruse! Well, like the Brad Harris effort reviewed earlier this 'un's a pretty good afternoon lollygagger starring Steve Reeves in a action-packed winner featuring wild bandits working through the auspices of the local Isis temple (funny, I thought Isis was an Egyptian goddess!) and the emerging Christian movement who are getting blamed for the recent rash of murderous pillaging because the bad boys paint a red cross on the looted home in question. And that's not even mentioning the last big burst o' mountain goo itself which just happens to pop up at the right time, which is what we were all waiting for throughout the entire dad-blamed film!

A lot more interesting than the 79 AD moom reviewed a few months back, but just as Sunday afternoon nothing-else-to-do mindnapping as it ebbs and flows milking the same ol' plot for all it was worth. And really, when films like this were airing on those lazy summer afternoons it was either this, CHAMPIONSHIP BOWLING on the other station, or an extended romp in the bathroom with the wrong issue of NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC snatched up meaning you hadda get all aroused reading about the aluminum industry in Bahzramain 'stead o' them hula gals who looked like they breast fed the entire seventh fleet!

Again the historical inaccuracies might have given Eddie Haskell a run for the moolah, but it's still fun to watch even though star Steve Reeves, seen with a full set o' brannigans on the poster, is actually clean shaven here (maybe the distributors thought nobody would notice him w/o a beard!). And while I'm at it, I was wondering if there was gonna be any mention of that recently-unearthed painting found in the molten ashes of that doomed Eyetalian city that's up for restoration showing a guy engaged in sexual bliss with the goat of his choice?!?!?!? Unfortunately nada was said about this peculiar Pompeiian practice (which, from what I have read was more than a common practice between a man and his consenting cloven hoofed one) though considering the film was made a good fifty-plus years ago I'm sure the puritanical tastemongers would have definitely nixed anything so sweet and so pure as inter-species romance. Now if it were made in TODAY'S open and easy-going clime I'm sure that such a subject would not only be mentioned but in fact heralded as concrete proof of the all-inclusive nature for which we must now all strive. C'mon you Hollywood Big Bucks mogul, re-make THE LAST DAYS OF POMPEII as it should be presented for today's sophisticated audience, and do it like YESTERDAY!!!


Saturday, August 09, 2014

Considering that this post is, just like last week's, a rather sick example of what a respected (hah!) blogschpieler like myself can whip up for your dining and dancing pleasure, I thought I'd review a few more of the sites linked up on your left and give my own personal opines regarding what I think of 'em and why I decided to slap 'em up here inna first place. Yeah, this portion of today's blog might just be about as exciting as looking at photos from your gay brother's latest proctology exam and mistaking it for slides from the family's Mammoth Cave vacation but remember, one mere WORD spewed forth on this blog packs a more potent punch than the competition's last year of rock "writing" combined so shut your mouth for once, willya?

I've written before about just how much I didn't give a rock critic's ass for CRACKED, SICK, CRAZY and a good portion of the various MAD swipes that were cluttering the satire portion of your local newsstand throughout the sixties and seventies. If the motto for these collected knockoffs was indeed "dare to be dumb" they surely lived up to their reputations, what with their pilfering past and future MAD regulars to crank out  reams of comparatively uninspiring art and sneaking in the visage of Alfred E. Neuman whenever they could get away with it in order to do a little good natured nose rubbing. The results were mostly worthless, and all of that dismal writing just made the turds smell even stronger, if you know what I mean.

Therefore it might seem peculiar that I would link up the CRACKED magazine website on my own beloved blog. As usual, there is madness in my method because frankly this site has just about as much to do with CRACKED the magazine as MAD the magazine has to do with---what MAD the magazine used to be during its long drag through the years.

Don't worry about cringing through all of those obvious MAD swipes, for CRACKED the site is actually a halfway decent sarcastic site filled with humorous stories and top five lists that actually do have a certain relationship with your otherwise mundane existence. The ones dealing with old time gulcher and comic goo are the ones that appeal to me the most, and if you're the kinda guy who likes reading about the dark underbelly of long-gone cinema or just have a strong hatred for Walt Disney, you just might like it. But I sincerely doubt it.

And surprisingly enough, it does do my heart good knowing that such an entity as CRACKED, no matter how convoluted and trite it could have been, exists in some form these sorry days. But then again, it's kinda like the same feeling I get knowing that BEETLE BAILEY, BLONDIE and DICK TRACY are still up and about and how many times do any of us read those comics anymore?
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I'm sure that any suburban slob who's poured through an import bin back '77 way and saw that dark grey copy of Iggy and the Stooges' METALLIC KO remembers the strange Skydog label from whence this demi-above ground bootleg album appeared. Soon after more'n a few of us began noticing Skydog albums as well as singles popping up all over the import/back-door record shop scene, and that coupled with the fact that this company seemed like the kind of label custom made for us subteen sputum all agog over those early seventies 99-cent cutouts really did something as far as stimulating our work ethic if only we could afford the $$$ to purchase as many of these platters as we could.

If you like reminiscing about those days, or (like I do) try to kid yourself into believing it's still 1978 even if alla them creeps out there are trying to drag us into the 21st century kicking and screaming, the Skydog site linked above certainly does help. A nice tribute to a label that seems to be going strong, even in a world that couldn't give two whits about punkism or intensity anymore which is really saying something positive. Could be a little more thorough in the history department but you might fill a few gaps in your mind if you care to peruse the thing for but a few minutes.
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THE DAILY RASH ain't as funny as the DIVERSITY CHRONICLE blog but it still comes off with a few snickers and guffaws. I will 'fess up to the fact that it's funnier'n THE ONION, especially since that site's become too defensively uberprog and self-consciously pious for my own tastes. Prime targets include Chris Matthews, Rachel Maddow, Al Sharpton and the ever-lovin' Joe Biden. Sometimes the president himself makes a surprise appearance like he did in the over-the-hills-and-far-away funny "Obama Welcomes First Transgender Baby to White House". If you don't find this really roll-on-the-floor high-larious, I truly do hope you are offended.
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Well, enough of that blab---on to the part you've been waiting for lo these many paragraphs...


The Dave Clark Five-HAVING A WILD WEEKEND CD-r burn (originally on Epic)

Compared with the last Dave Clark album reviewed, not bad at all. These guys coulda used a few lessons from the Sonics in sax-laden high energy, but they fare well not only on their better known material but the instrumental chiller "No Stopping". Of course there are the two string-laden 'n gloppy to the nth degree tracks to contend with (which I assume were used as incidental music for the moom pitcher of the same name...I mean, what else?) but you can woosh those outta your system faster'n Fleet after givin' the more rockin' tracks a steady listening or two.
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Southern Culture on the Skids-DIG THIS CD-r burn (originally on Kudzu)

I usually don't go for these neuvo retrobilly type platters that much, but this one is slightly better'n the usual crew. At times authentico enough to sound like real-life early-sixties loco radio spin fodder which is a startling surprise. And while a good portion of this Cee-Dee does have that Cramps-ish rear-view mirror gazeback that only the Cramps seemed to do with any authenticity, I can't see why this shouldn't appeal to all of those new wave-o types who tired of the stuff 'round '82 way and were looking for something a li'l rootsier yet not quite the real deal. The karaoke tracks tagged at the end should be a hoot at your next party, as long as you don't invite Aunt Martha to sing along with some of the selections present.
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Jackson Beck as PHILO VANCE CD-r burn (old timey radio series)

I'm sure a whole lotta grandpas 'n grandmas out there will get them zoom back memories listening to these old mystery radio shows Bill has been shooting at me, but whenever I hear 'em I merely recall those adolescent days when WPIC-FM would run this one spook series whose name I forget (Saturday night at 9:30) with some local horror host type doing the usual cornballus gags along the lines of calling the then-recent Sinatra album LIVE AT SLAUGHTERTOWN...typical har-de-har-har gags like that which probably were funnier when you were an elevem year old but nowadays go over worse than a Porky Pig cartoon at a Bar Mitzvah.

Maybe I did mention this interesting bit of autobiographical goo in a previous post but dang, there's only so much you can say about these radio mystery/detective/comedy shows other'n they're kinda like I LOVE LUCY and ARMCHAIR DETECTIVE w/o the picture.

Two good 'un's here, the first having to do with noted detective Philo Vance on the tail of some guys holding up various society page get togethers using a strange code that Vance was able to crack like potrzebie (and the reasoning behind the code crack is even stranger'n the code itself!) while the second has to do with this young political reformer out to bust the local machine who gets threatened with his life, shrugs it off and of course gets what he was asking for like any doofus out there in radioland coulda told ya. Both tales are solid 'n smooth, though I was wondering why Philo's arch enemy Onions Oregano wasn't in either of these episodes considering just how much this gadfly was Moriarity to Philo's Holmes...oh wait, that's Philo KVETCH! Well, for a kid who used to get not only ARCHIE and FRECKLES but DICK TRACY and FEARLESS FOSDICK (not to mention BUGS BUNNY and MOE HARE) mixed up, it is an honest mistake!
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Thee Oh Sees-DROP CD-r burn (originally on Castle Face)

You may remember that I didn't really care for this group's earlier (debut?) effort, but DROP seemed to settle in quite well with my own sense of suburban slob addledness. Yeah this sounds as 2014 as the latest hog caller to make his way to AMERIGA'S GOT MEDIOCRITY, but the echoes of mid-sixties garage band psychedelia does lend a tasty edge to it all. And dang it if Thee Oh Sees will surprise you what with their crafty emulations (OK---swipes) of everyone from the Thirteenth Floor Elevators to the Move! A surprise sleeper that I have the feeling's gonna get shoved to the side even in these internet-conscious days where just about anyone can be a star, even if it is in the privacy of their own bedroom.
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Various Artists-WHISTLING BURGERS AND BEETLES CD-r burn (Bill Shute Productions)

Being in a particularly turdsville mood when I wrote this (last Monday to be exact), the arrival of Bill Shute's latest Care Package didn't quite pep me up the way I thought it would. However, I found that listening to WHISTLING BURGERS AND BEETLES a whole lot more fitting a way to cap off the worst day (so far) in the year that had I spent the final hours of twilight's first gleaming spinning THE FARTING CONTEST. Starts off swell with the Blisters' '63 shot outta nowhere "Shortnin' Bread" (the famed toe tapper done up with loads of hot sauce dumped on it) which really woulda fit in with the refreshing blend that year's top 40 was noted for, along with old radio ad spots (the kind where they tone down the music so's the local announcer can hype the rubes) and the standard garage band (Daily Flash) 'n country twang (Jerry Smith) Bill loves sooooo much. High points...Montreal Burger Stand lowdown, Robyn Hitchcock doing Syd Barrett which is better'n Robyn Hitchcock doing himself if you ask me, and the Edison Military Band's 1908 rendition of "The Whistler and his Dog", a song you won't know by name but sure will by toon! Sheesh, I wonder why I'm still in a keyed up, pissed off mood after spinning this classic set but man, I am!

Thursday, August 07, 2014

MOOM PITCHER REVIEW! SO SWEET, SO DEAD a.k.a. THE SLASHER starring Farley Granger (1972)

Who could it be slitting the unfaithful wives of well-respected businessmen types over there in dagoland anyway? Well, it's Farley Granger's job to find out in this early-seventies sleaze film, and ya gotta admit that the guy did a good job of it given the low budget and general dinge of this crime drama that was filmed during the Hollywood star's European sojurn.

As a boffo soundtrack (including some surprisingly atonal free jazz) careens about we see the bored wives hitch up with their young paramours for the usual early-seventies on-screen sex (with the upper thigh so firmly in place so we don't see any patchwork) giving you young wacker offers just enough time to flibben the jib before the scene's over. Of course that's right before this creepoid Shadow-like guy who knows what evil lurks in his heart bops into the mix and knifes the naughty ladies to death before sprinkling the crime scene with photos of them in flagrante delicto with the faces of their luvver boys scratched out, and if you don't think that Granger has his work cut out for him then you certainly got another thought comin'!

Creepy to be sure, and the acting seems up there in early-seventies tee-vee cop series fashion only with loads of female boobs 'n belly buttons being displayed for your entertainment pleasure. The ladies assembled look good enough for wopadagos while female lead Sylva Koscina has this rather spooky aura about her that gives me more irks'n Phyllis Coates as Lois Lane ever did. And just about everybody in this one has some sorta fault or defect that makes me want them all to die...if you want to get a good case of the creeps just take a gander at the assistant coroner who restores the murdered bodies to their rightful beauty and grace before snapping photos of 'em and pasting said pix up in his apartment pin up style!

It's a good enough switch that'll please the sleaze in ya, but try not to watch it in front of Aunt Mabel because well, sometimes a fella just can't control his nether-region workings as anyone who hadda sit through a sex ed film in high school will tell ya.

Sunday, August 03, 2014

The special post that I had planned on presenting to you this weekend still needs a bit of gestation before passing through the birth canal of my mind, so in its stead I thought I'd present for you well...more of the same old same old. Sorry about that, but you wouldn't want me to just toss out a special edition of BLOG TO COMM when it wasn't exactly ready to pass your eyes now, would you?  Don't worry, I should have it all up and ready to go within a week, or maybe three for that matter at which time the post should be ripened to peak perfection just like one of those juicy blackheads on your forehead you've been picking at for the past three days.

Since I do have some space to fill up in order to pad this blog out to proper specifications, I figured that maybe it would ha best to put it to good use by writing about some of the links to other pertinent sites that I have up and goin' on the roster that can be seen to your direct left. Now to be honest and even more upfront 'n Raquel Welch about it I will admit that most of the ones that I do have linked really don't have much to do with BLOG TO COMM per se, they being mostly for my own personal use and abuse. However, I get the sneaking suspicion that some of you might chance goin' over to a few of 'em if, not out of curiosity, if only because you might find something of worth and value in them considering they have my own personal imprimatur stamped right one 'em. For both of you types, here are my own personal assessments and feelings regarding just a few of 'em which you can take or leave as I assume you usually do.

I assume that more'n a few of you are wondering why I, as an unabashed knuckle-dragging aficionado of the Old Right style of political barbarism (talking H.L. Mencken, Robert Taft and Wyndham Lewis along with a few other notables) would dare to link up an avowed commie leftoid site as COUNTERPUNCH on my sainted blog. Well, I do it because as far as commie leftoid sites go, this 'un reads a whole lot better'n a load of neocon war-throbbing rightist sites I often come across! And as far as being an outpost for some of the few straggling fist-pumpers in our world Counterpunch at least has the moral wherewithal to know when to stop pandering to the phonus balonuses among 'em (like the famed Nobel Prize winner currently sitting in the Oval Office) unlike many on both sides of the spectrum who'll stick by their guy no matter how embarrassing or impractical it may be while making up keen if deceptive reasons for doing so. Besides,  I find that some of their regular Even Newer Left'n That New Left that there used to be back inna seventies writers make some sense, whether it be Counterpunch's now deceased founder Alexander Cockburn or Norman Finkelstein, the guy who was cheated outta tenure by DePaul University not for his Maoist inclinations but for a little bitta back-door finagling on the part of Alan Dershowitz who certainly wanted to settle a score in the most damning possible way! And even though I probably disagree with him much more than I do agree, I can't loathe Ralph Nader in the same way that the ubercapitalists of the seventies most certainly did even if I do think that the Corvair was a snazzy bit of automotive genius. Even when he seems to be talking outta an orifice other'n his mouth, at least the guy has a better sense of reasoning and intelligence that's not exactly being flaunted by way too many spokesmen for their particular party line these sad 'n sorry days.

Some of the Counterpunch regs are rather copasetic with my own line of thinking. I really like Paul Craig Roberts' views even if his unwarranted praise of former boss Ron Reagan might be too hard to take (as I'm sure it was for Cockburn when Roberts told him something along the lines of him having the same spirit of ram-bunk-shuh and vision as our 40th prez), while Sheldon Richman remains perhaps the only anti-capitalist "left-liberal" I can really stomach anymore. And as I recall, even the last standing man of integrity Ron Paul was linked up a few times in Counterpunch's gallery of online opinions, which is more'n I can say about any standard Republican site out there would dare lest they feel the ire of a few thousand armchair commentators out there.

True, many of the articles found here aren't exactly what you'd call easy reading. I recall one article written by someone who resides in Moscow (and whose heart is most definitely with the regime of old) telling Counterpunch's readership that the Killing Fields of the Khmer Rouge in late-seventies Cambodia never happened (at least in the capacity that was reported) and were mostly a Western creation which is something that I'm sure would surprise fellow Counterpunch contributor John Pilger, yet another man of the left who comes up with more than a few intelligent writings that seem so rare even in these idea-lacking times. Cuban strongman Fidel Castro recently popped up here as well which must prove that even the bloodiest of dictators can have their say in the cyberworld as long as their hearts are in the right place. But the worst Counterpunch contributor of all is regular Dave Marsh, a scoundrel who is doing his best to make sure that the hippiedippy flag of the late-sixties is still flying high, and how anyone could read one word of his long-standing rock 'n revolution drivel is beyond me for sure! Let's just say that if you do care to peruse Counterpunch, please pick and choose carefully.
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Did I ever tell you that when I was a kid I was not allowed to read 16 magazine? I never bought any issues but my older cousins who lived up the street did, and they had a stack of 'em lying around all the time. I liked looking through 'em to see the pix and find out about the new groups that were popping up and about, but my interest in what was going on in the world of music was soon quashed because these very same cousins would tell me that this mag was for girls, and since I wasn't one I wasn't allowed to read it! Funny, I didn't think that there was any harm in espying the newest rock 'n roll gear or up-and-coming groups from the Netherlands like the Van Doornes...mebbe it was the snaps of the gal actresses that the cousins didn't want me to espy all these years. Sorry gals, but contrary to whatever you might have been thinking in no way was I ever gonna get a woody looking at a pic of Grayson Hall!

Maybe they just didn't want me reading that article allegedly written by the now-teenaged and long-haired child star Billy Mumy talking about doing drugs and being a hippie kid, as if that was gonna warp my mind more than repeated reruns of RUFF 'N REDDY ever could. Well, at least all these years later I can always get my teenybopper kicks tagging on to the GLORIA STAVERS site which relives the gosharootie days of not only 16 but its most famous editor. True there are times when I think that Miss Stavers shoulda been throttled (after all, if it weren't for her gushing review of ROLLING STONE magazine urging her lumpen followers to buy the thing that subsputum read would have 86's ages back!) but the pics and bits regarding a whole bunch of First and Second Generation rockers (as well as the tee-vee screen faves of them dayze) sends me right back to my cousins' house pouring through alla that great kultur I missed out on because my own folk though that anything recorded after Nelson Eddy was the debbil's music.

Some of the smartness of 16 lingers on this site, such as when they repro the ":Gee Gee Recommends" sections tellin' alla the iron-haired gals where to spend their hard-begged (lotsa duds true, but a few goodies) so if you, like me, want to know how the other half was spending their suburban slob teenbo time while we were diddlin' around with our Dinkys, this is the sight to see in the privacy of your cousin-free abode.
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Hokay, howzbout one more site of interest before we get to the juiciest portion of this post (mainly, da revooz!!!). Back inna early eighties I, like many a wastrel turdburger with not enough money and too much time on my hands, looked over the sea to England for signs of punk life that I might have wanted to latch onto if only to relieve the boredom. England was still punked up despite what many of the mainstream pundits were sayin' (or better yet, wished), and as anyone who glanced at a Systematic or Rough Trade catalog could tell you, there were more'n a few interesting recordings coming out that were just beggin' for your attention.

True a good portion of these acts had about the same high level of intensity as Joe Feeney belting out "Oh My Papa" on THE LAWRENCE WELK SHOW but quite a few of the platters I purchased (even the Exploited "Barmy Army" one, and don't laugh!) hold up pretty well next to most of the competition. Even the "anarcho-punks" that were crawling out of the post-hippie woodwork had their own stellar moments, and true the whole movement (at least in retrospect) seemed like the scum of the English New Left trying out their old piss in new punk skins at least acts like the Mob, Apostles and Zounds dressed it up in high energy screech to the point where I didn't even mind that the lyrics being belted out were about the evils of eating a nice juicy steak or a wimmin's right to choose whether or not she should use a sponge or a cork whenever Mister Monthly Visitor was gonna stop by for a week.

THE ASTRONAUTS  came out of this muck 'n mire passing for a post-seventies scene, but they sure stood out from the reams of punks goin' about with names like Crisis, Even More Of A Crisis Than That Other Crisis, or "If You Think All Of Those Other Crises Are Crises, Just Listen To THIS Crisis!" First off they had a cool name, and although I already knew about the original Astronauts (RCA records 1962-1966) the retro appeal sure did strike a chord with homesick for the sixties me. Another thing about these Astronauts was that they looked more or less like a throwback to the early-seventies English underground scene that thrust forth both Hawkwind and the Pink Fairies what with their long hair and jean jackets that sure haven't been punk rock paraphernalia them past six or so years! Best of all, these guys SOUNDED like the early-seventies English u-ground which I will admit was a nice li'l refreshing change from alla that thrash 'n discord I so adored.

The group's site is a nice li'l testimonial to their long-lasting (over thirty years!) appeal, complete with the obligatory pix and of course the discography that always gets us record maniacs frustrated more'n a bridegroom with a jammed zipper because in no way are we gonna get to hear all of those obscure tracks that popped up on samplers and long gone extended plays. The site sure coulda used a li'l more in-depth history, but why quibble because this thing is a whole lots better'n nothing. And that's what most of us have had to settle with when it came to finding out about the groups we've craved and desired for lo these many years!
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Well, after all that space-filler on to the reviews! Again, hefty thanks to the nice people who jetted most of these CD burns my way, and also thanks to my employer who at least gave me some moolah that I could spend for myself after I dump a huge portion of my pittance on the bare necessities of life. Hope you dig 'em, even if it ain't like any of these platters are gonna be making it to Anastasia Pantsios' top 40 of all time list or anything even remotely like that


The Dave Clark Five-SATISFIED WITH YOU CD-r burn (originally on Epic)

Not being as humongous a Dave Clark Five fan as Mike Saunders was and hopefully remains, I can't really judge this 'un next to their other long playing offerings (but I will---eventually!). However, would you please pardon me if I found this was more'n a trifle staid??? Rather uninspiring originals (one of which comes too close to the Beatles w/o their kinetic energy for comfort) as well as a limp cover of "Good Lovin'" don't exactly make for a ravin' rompin' British Invasion album, and it really is no wonder these guys wafted away while the competition kept going for quite some time. Well, at least they didn't get to meet the Maharajah!
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The Deviants-"Fury of the Mob"/"A Better Day is Coming 45 rpm single (Shagrat, England)

Sure doesn't seem like it's been a year since Mick Farren took his final bow on the stage of some London concert hall but he did, and while the flurry of Deviants recordings both old, new and unreleased hasn't hit us like I thought it would at least we have this li'l spinner to contend with. Farren finally releases a Deviants "reunion" platter featuring at least a couple guys who were in the original bunch, and they sure rock out like 1971 never happened and a signing with Stiff records was right on the horizon.

"Fury"'s a heavy duty rocker that reminds me of those eighties Farren-related offerings that popped up on a whole slew of small labels---hard, uncompromising and filled with a whole lotta anger that I don't think Farren ever got outta his system. The voice may sound ragged, but you try sounding smooth 'n sweet after years of alla that booze 'n cigarettes!

Someone else (probably Andy Colquhoun) sings the first part of "A Better Day is Coming" and it figures because it does sound like one of Colquhoun's solo recordings that would have appeared on a Captain Trips album. Comparatively smooth, perhaps even a tad West Coast-y, but engaging enough even if the message of it all seems straight outta the mid-seventies whatever happened to the revolution sentiment that was going around.

Nothing that I would call remarkably different 'n what these guys have been up to since the last batch of Deviants albums, but it sure is good to know that Farren didn't spend his final days picking posies, y'know?
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Gerald Mohr in THE ADVENTURES OF PHILLIP MARLOWE CD-r burn (CBS Radio Network)

Bill's sent me a stack of these old Marlowe radio shows, but lazyass me's only gotten to 'em right now. But hey, since the weather is gettin' kinda overcast-y what better way to dig into that mid-summer ennui'n to slip one of these mysteries on and pretend that I'm a nostalgia-bustin' adolescent listening to the radio wonderin' whether I should stay awake 'n see what's on the late movie or skedaddle it over to woods in back of the drive-in with binoculars in hand and some Vaseline Intensive Care---just in case.

The first episode is hard to get into, what with this being a rehearsal tape with a sub-broadcast sound that's got yer ears strainin' to make out what's goin' on in this tale dealing with tough guy sailors and a treasure map leading the way to some valuable black pearls. (Contrary to the cover come-on, there are sound effects heard on these, though the lack of incidental music does give this a sorta amateur hour performance at the Frostbite Falls Civic Auditorium feel.) The other one fares better what with the professional sound, music and best of all ads for juicy Wrigley Spearmint Gum in a tale about a former galpal of Marlowe's getting knocked off and the sordid trail of blood 'n other stuff left in its wake.

Mohr plays it particularly cool as Marlowe and thankfully you end up rooting for him 'stead of the bad guy, who don't have any particularly admirable traits about 'em like the Germans and Japanese in World War II mooms most certainly did (they being so vicious you just want 'em to down alla 'em Howdy Doodies they call Allied troops!). Long before the advent of the pussified male pretty much emasculated the entire gender, Mohr plays is tough and many times even dirtier'n the cold blooded ones, though in no way do these stories entail the amoral values of today...naw, good is still good here and the bad get it comin' to 'em even if you think Marlowe's gonna get his brains blown out by the least likely suspect who turned out to be the heel all along. 'n yeah, given the current state of entertainment affairs (or at least what I can discern about it via some Kathy Shaidle article) maybe these sixty-plus-year-old radio dramas do lay it out on the line regarding a whole lotta things that have been wooshed down the memory hole, like tough guys and sexy gals and maybe, when appropriately used, violence does solve a whole lotta problems in this world.

And really, if you wanna be kinda stunned about just how power-packed these shows could get, check out the last minute or two in episode #2 "The Glass Donkey" which even surprised a been around the block a few times guy like me!
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Rockin' Rollin Blues Band-WILD AND UNTAMED CD-r burn

Dunno anything about the whys 'n wherefores of this 1973 self-produced platter, and I'm sure nobody other'n the group does either. But whatever and whoever this is, these white bluesters do a fairly good job. Garage band production hides the slicker aspects of the white blues phenomenon as these guys ('n gal) crank out a primal blues sound that true, might have a few aspects of the Grateful Dooges traipsing about but the dunce take on the Yardbirds which starts the thing out sure makes up for any laid back urges this band might have had. Not bad at all, even though I don't think I'll ever rate this one as highly as I do Great Plains.
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Various Artists-VIOLET PROON-DOON PATTI MIST CD-r burn (Bill Shute Enterprises)

Another swingin' one here, what with the late-sixties psych-pop of Billy Shears and the All-Americans and Nova Local (an act I had been wanting to listen to for quite some time) tangling with everything from the dirty if hokey c&w of Big Rock and Tadpole to the Tamrons doing one of those garage band rarities that I haven't spun since I lost alla them comps in the vast resources of my fortysome-year collection. The Mersey Makers do a good double-sided Beatles impression that, while still sounding like a buncha guys trying to copy the successful elements of Beatlemania, does have a certain neat Poppees-like feeling to it. And don't let the name Robin Lee and the Lavenders fool you...these guys are 100% straight country music with an emphasis on the "straight"! It's even got a Jackie Gleason instrumental which falls into the time-honored category of "tit-squeezer", and you can bet that one listen to "Violet Mist" is way more erotic 'n sexual'n the entire PMRC list of explicit baddies that Tipper Gore lined up for extermination back in those dark and nefarious eighties!