Saturday, June 19, 2004

Alberto y los Trios Paranoias-ALBERTO CD (Transatlantic/Line Germany)

No apologies for not posting any information sooner. Right now let me just say that I don't care...I have other things to do besides write stupid reviews of music that all three of you BLOG TO COMM readers wouldn't even bother with one way or another, and frankly, with all of the body-blows both myself and my faithful fanzine BLACK TO COMM have suffered over the past few months believe-you-me, the LAST thing that I wanna do in my spare time is write some pitsville piece on some "ha ha, I got it and you don't!" recording just to prove that I'm one up on ya, which I gotta say is an easy thing to do with most of you "readers" who haven't bought a record since Matador dropped you off their mailing list! Let's face it, I hate EVERYTHING. I even hate you, and I don't even know who you are, that's how hate-filled I am (and I am PROUD)!

Anyway, I'm only doing this review for one reason and one reason only, and that's for the purely therapeutic benefits. Yeah, in order to STRAIGHTEN MY MIND OUT with regards to certain things clicking and whirling in it like good clockwork should, I thought maybe it best that I GET OUT OF THE DOLDRUMS AND DO SOMETHING rather than just sit around and plot killing people who I don't even know about or where they live or their lifestyles and all that rot and besides that I can't even get hold of an exocet missile that'll trek halfway 'round the world so what good is stewing in my own bile gonna do me!!! Maybe writing a review of some hunk of recently-acquired gunk'll help ease me outta this big cloud o' gloom that's enveloped my beanie just like a wild guitar solo or boss issue of WHERE CREATURES ROAM usedta in happier times but frankly I doubt it. Let's just say that I'm gonna give writing some hot and award-winning review the ol' college try, which'll probably get me expelled more often sooner than later.

Today's case in point...Alberto y Los Trios Paranoias' ALBERTO CD, originally released on British folkie/smarm label Transatlantic in 1976 but since then reissued on Line outta Krautland which has been known to unleash just about EVERYTHING it could get the rights to over the past twennysome years. Anyway, I remember seeing these guys plugged incessantly back in the days when MELODY MAKER was desperately looking for a hook, and mentions here and live reviews there and pics of one of the guys wearing a rubber Richard Nixon mask playing acoustic guitar and harmonica a la Dylan cluttered up their pages but it wasn't like I got all hot and bothered over these Paranoias guys. I mean, in NO WAY was I gonna chance a hard-earned $7.98 plus tax on an import album I knew very little about only to get it home and find out I coulda bought three exciting cutouts for the price of this donkey log (and considering some of my luck buying records because they were on the "right" label and had the "right looking" covers you'd know why I was a wary lad!). So, Alberto and band remained something I thought I'd more or less (maybe) check out in the future, and I guess 28 years later is the future so better to give 'em a listen to now rather than wait until senility finally settles in.

It's funny, but had I heard this album back in the best/worst of times year o' '76 I probably woulda chucked this record down the toidy! Dunno why, because at that time I was totally hothotHOT on the likes o' Frank Zappa with and without his Mothers of Invention, even to the point where I couldn't stop speaking about 'em and used to drop mention of Frankie and Co. in everything from term papers to casual discussions with Dad (who couldn't've been thrilled MORE!), and although there were HUGE, HULKING DIFFERENCES between the sounds that Zappa and the Paranoias guys emitted there was ONE BIG SIMILARITY, and that was that when both bands spoofed, they didn't seem to have any original warmth in what they were doing. There was the satire for sure, the comedy angle, but with Zappa there was also an air of snootiness, this "I'm above all this boring and middle-class schmooze and totally ahead of even you suburban hippie wannabes who eat all of my dropping up without question!!!" attitude that seemed to permeate much of his satire. With the Paranoias it seemed the same attitude would show, albeit from a proto-punk standpoint. But in both cases, it was like the music these acts laid down rarely if ever could match the genius of the sounds being spoofed, or capture the essense of ridiculousness of a rather worthless genre such as disco. What I'm trying to say is that it was put-on, spoof, what-have-you, but as far as being listenable beyond the one-off jokes, I doubt it. Just like every other comedy album in your collection.

Of course, one thing Alberto had that Zappa didn't was that aforementioned proto-punk bounce, that certain style and feel that always seems to be best summed up by using pretentious French phrases only the smuggest of critics like to toss around. However, even with that abounding there seems to be a bitta something here that keeps this CD from becoming a classic repeato spin. It's just too...calculated???, to win you over totally. Maybe half-way, and these days even 50% will have to do as a passing grade considering the lack of expertise we have to put up with in the rock & roll world!

Opening track "Torture You" is the disco rip, and since disco used to torture me enough during the "worst of" part of the seventies equation the music itself would've done the job right. Lyrics aren't as bad but rank with Zappa's "The Torture Never Stops" as yet another cheap seventies S&M reference done by people who liked to talk about it all the time but you kinda doubt they'd actually go in for a little bitta the thing as Lindsay Hutton said long ago! (I'll take even Zappa's "Penguin in Bondage" over this ANYDAY!). "Dread Jaws"'s the first of their reggae swipes (another appears on their Stiff EP SNUFF ROCK) and it's pretty good since the song at least captures some kinda rasta feeling and comes off as a homage to the music that's getting the MAD treatment (hmmmm, MAD "TWISTS" REGGAE anyone???), though the rockabilly take "Pavlov" flops all over worse than the local "Vance Valiant and the Packards"-styled fifties party band playing their 35-th anniversary reunion show as we speak.

Also getting the Albertos treatment are Hawkwind (complete with a "This is your captain speaking" rap, though the song's only good for Hawkwind enthusiasts who spend their time categorizing this stuff) and the Velvet Underground via the tune "Anadin" which sounds about as one-dimensional as many Velvets-"homages" have for years only remember, this is a take off and all those Velvet Underground wannabes were as serious as ever so Alberto has the edge on 'em anyway! There's also a country and western "born again" thingie that isn't even good for a laugh...I mean, the not-there post-Bonzo Dog Band-cum-Scaffold group Grimms did a better c&w homage on ROCKIN' DUCK, and everyone I know who's heard that one HATES it!

And don't worry, there are some "straight" Albertos numbers that sound like then-contempo AM/FM rock stylings though whether this is what the band came off like when not spoofing or more slams at then-current hoo-hahs I do not know. What I do know is that after all these years I've finally heard Alberto y los Trios Paranoias and though this CD ain't quite jelled in my mind I wouldn't mind listening to more of their tuneage such as their Stiff EP (where punquisms come in for a ribbing as well!) one of these eons. Sure, this ain't quite as engaging as labelmates the Deviants, but it holds its own (and I don't mean self-abuse...this ain't some old G. G. Allin record!). However, in closing let me say that the Cleveland late-seventies/early-eighties group the Baloney Heads (with ex-Electric Eels/Styrenes drummer Danny Foland) were doing the exact same schtick at roughly the same time, and doing a much better job at it as their collectible EP and rare radio appearances prove. At least they played a cheap punque variant that continues to hold my attention and affect me in a positive way even when they're covering the same seventies territory as Alberto did. But after all is said and done all I have to say is...where can I find a Sadista Sisters album???

Remember, I STILL hate you.