Saturday, June 26, 2004

Lou Rone-ALONE (CD-R, unreleased)

Those of you few people lucky enough to own a copy of BLACK TO COMM #25 (many issues still available, and I don't want to look like a whining imbecile complainin' about how you'ins [keeping with my WESTERN PENNSYLVANIAN heritage here!] ain't buyin' 'em up fast enough...check out my first ever post from early May for ordering information since I'm TIRED of repeatin' over and over again the price and address and all that rot!) have already read my interview with former VON LMO guitarist Lou Rone (ne. Barrone) in which he "lays down" a whole lotta interestin' information (which might at least make some good footnotes in a lower Manhattan no wave book SOMEONE'S GOTTA WRITE ONE OF THESE DAYS) pertaining not only to his involvement with the LMO band but his own groups. I'm talkin' such acts as Cross, Kross, My Kross, Your Kross, Double Cross, Triple Cross, and whatever variant on the name Rone would use in order to avoid conflict with the myriad assortment of "Cross"-afflicted bands there are out there. And for a guy who's been involved in one of the more fertile times on the planet it seems as if Rone doesn't even seem aware of his greatness or even his brush with it being at the right place (En Why See) at the right time (mid/late-seventies) for rock & roll...I mean, here's a guy who appeared at the fabled CBGB Summer Rock Festival of Unsigned Bands in 1975 when international attention was being paid to the likes of Television, Talking Heads and their co-horts, and the guy doesn't even realize it!

Since that interview Rone's sent me a couple CD-Rs of his music which I thought I'd document for you, since I know that there are more people than you'd think interested in this feller and that scene and besides, future rock historians will want to know everything about what went on in those days rather'n be left totally in the dark like they are about too many things we need to know more about. The first CD-R sent my way's a shortie featuring a track by the aforementioned Cross as well as Rone's 1985 post-LMO group Funhouse. The Cross track's flat and crackles so it might be from an acetate or more likely the ultra-rare single they put out then but anyway, this is one for the serious heavy metal fanatic to savor. Echoes of Jeff Beck with early Phil Mogg vocals (guitar and vocals courtesy Rone) and a sound that reminds me of the early heavy metal rush before the entire genre went the way of showoff glitz and arena barbituate bash permeates this, making this reviewer think that Cross would have been the IDEAL BAND for the early heavy metal cum punk brigade of the mid-seventies (talkin' Mike Saunders, Jymn Parrett, Kenne Highland...). It was recorded at Electric Ladyland studios as well, so maybe the spirit of whatzizname was on this one just like Rone said! Neat, but for some strange reason I prefer Funhouse's "All in All" from over a decade later. This was the group that reunited Rone with former LMO/Kongress bassist Kip Kuba along with longtime Rone keyboardist John Gamble on a track I would pretty much describe as...punky new wave heavy metal? Yeah, as anyone who's read BLACK TO COMM over the past few decades can tell you, there was a lotta that going around back then...the Reds, maybe even MX-80 Sound (or VON LMO?) but we're talking new wave not in a 1979 still-hasn't-gotten-its-bad-name-yet sense but a 1985 it-HAS-its-bad-name one...and what was there at the time merging these two overdone forms anyway? Van Halen fercryinoutloud???? But Funhouse do a much better job at it. Maybe because they were doing it in clubs like CBGB five years after critics and fans alike either lost the faith or figured that entire seventies scene deader'n a doornail they shine a lot more than even a jaded one as I would given them credit for (especially since at that time, I was YEARNING for the return of seventies underground "aesthetics"). It's kinda nice in a 1980 Max's Kansas City way with the metallic crunch that was still around thrown in making for a tune that would have made for a refreshing single side back then especially amidst the reams of quickly-tiring hardcore and soon-to-tire speedcoremetalthrash that unfortunately fizzled out faster than a soggy pyrotechnic on a damp Fourth of July.

That was then, and Lou Rone's ALONE is now. Of course, the question of how "now" this thing is's kinda up in the air as we speak. Will it be an independently-released item? Will it ever see the light of day? Who knows, but ALONE is a mighty good CD-R, and I'm not just saying that because Rone's an internet buddy of mine. Believe me, if this one stunk worse than a fresh dog turd on a 100-degree day and you're the one that has to clean it up you wouldn't be reading this post at all, so you know it's an "album" that gets the BLACK TO COMM seal of approval, which probably means a lot more today when the big beat has been subjugated and deconstructed to the point where it is meaningless and merely a sad shell of its former glory.


Rone plays all the instruments (no singing!) on this one (where'd'ya think he got the title???), and I gotta admit it cooks pretty well for something that only a handfulla guys are gonna lend ears to, even if the dadburned thing gets released!!! In fact, ALONE cooks all the way, a well done prime piece of filet in fact which makes it all the more tastier in these comparatively horsemeat times. Rone's new style is (maybe) a bit hard to describe...it owes a lot to the the LMO sound in some ways yet it reminds me of those latterday instrumental tunes on the MX-80 DAS LOVE BOOT CD which ain't that peculiar since I used to think there were many similarities twixt the two aggregations. Heavy Metal guitar playing with industrial electronics and primitive drums...maybe 1974 Can on a Stooges jag as well? It's all this hyperbole and more if you can believe that!

Tracks like "Transistor" and "Easthand" have that late-seventies electric intensity that sounds like some of the better experimental rock outings that still remained well-rooted in early-seventies accomplishment. The synthesizer recalls various three-decades-back attempts that, true, might have sounded over-used at the time, but then again the guitar soars, in fact coming VERY close on "Easthand" to what Robert Fripp was doing on the stylistically-similar "Baby's On Fire" (while Bruce Anderson seems to be evoked on "Transistor"...believe-you-me, this CD-R is one to envelop you just like it was still 1979 and this music was making up the ONLY reason for your existence!)

String-y electronic sound drenching "Beggin' With Your Love" almost brings this one to the early-eighties of gnu wave but the tabla-esque percussion and dark middle-eastern mood egging on Rone's weaving guitar lines makes this one nice and seventies nocturnal (meaning I woulda loved to have played this during beddy-bye time to ease me into slumber when I was a much younger brat!), almost like Can's "Ibis" off UNLIMITED EDITION. And anyone who can guess what the song "Mirrors of Imij" is about wins a special NO PRIZE! Though I don't hear the influence of the left-handed one that much here, this (again) sounds like one of those Bruce Anderson side-projects that, although rooted in the heavy metal of the seventies, seems to be aiming at a more stark, maddening direction that transcended that genre which, come to think of it, wasn't exactly a hard thing to do given how much metal had petered out by 1973.

What, is "Rio Rone Sr." an attempt at reggae? Reminds me of the seventies when all these non-Jamaican musicians were using reggae influences and usually sounding their same old selves with a reggae beat not doing anything in particular. This one's passable though, probably because of the intensity of the playing and melodic tension permeating the entire shebang making this an aural earwig!

Closing track "India" ain't exactly one of those paens to Eastern Philosophy or Swami Satchendatchi or whatever his name is type of things the Beatles and Mia Farrow used to hoist on us back in 1968, but another fine piece of instrumental mayhem without any Indian musical influence that I can detect!

And there you have it, probably one of the best things to come out of 2004, if it ever comes out that is. And I hope it does...I mean, not just because Rone is a bona-fide rock & roll legend in the truest sense, but because ALONE is what one would call a proverbial wowzer, a CD-R that really hits you between the ears and kinda reminds you of why you liked the fine mix of art, metal, punk, avant garde and garage into one nice product that always seemed to make for the best listening experiences in times past. If I were some high-falutin' big city rock critics I could push myself around and hype this thing to the rafters but hey, I'm just a bloggin' fool so lemme just tell you this is one to wish and click your heels three times for...IT'S THAT GOOD, and certainly much better'n all of the slop I used to get inundated with in times past when I could have been listening to Rone's unmistakable guitar magestry.

1 comment:

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