Wednesday, August 25, 2004


I've always figured that if you're gonna swipe an idea from somebody, you better swipe it from somebody you HATE, and that's just what I've done with this new post listing a number of old-tyme longplayers that I haven't noticed being Cee-Dee'd even this far down the digital age line. And in yet another vain attempt to be "above it all," this list contains nothing but what I would consider platters truly worthy of being digitalized (not just the predicable entries mind you), and you just gotta know that the knowitalls you've read of elsewhere who have pooped pants over being the first to "say" that such and such should be silver dollar'd (the usual suspects such as the Hackamore Brick album and Tim Buckley's STARSAILOR, both OK discs if you ask me) would NEVER bring any of the classics I mention below up as worth the effort to re-release on aluminum which only goes to show the vapidity on their part (hee!). So, in order to correct past wrongs, here are some REAL entries into the canon of discs that should be made into disques, although a vinyl lover like me has no qualms about them remaining vinyl and vinyl only since that format is so superior in its own trash-gulcher way to the cold and sterile CD which is pretty much lacking on ALL fronts including sound quality (analog stil rules, and is naturally distorted!) and aesthetics (remember the Golden Age of Album Covers?), and you can't get any of this outta an easily-cracked CD case!

THE SIDEWINDERS (RCA)-I'm not talkin' the early-90s just-post-Giant Sand band from Arizona that was also on RCA and riding the grunge wave but the original buncha 'winders who had a fantastic yet wooshed-away album which came out during the so-called dog days of '72. Actually, this dynaflex'd disc fit in well with the best of the burgeoning power-pop groups who were only then just beginning to make themselves known, yet for all practical purposes you can say that THE SIDEWINDERS, with their decadent teenybopper look and the fantastic proto-punk sound, either came too late for the mid-sixties punk brigade or too early for the seventies deviation-sleaze crowd. And they were too cute to be the Dolls. Really, if you swear up and down the page about the likes of Hackamore Brick, you should also do so about these guys. But you won't. While I'm at it, someone should start a campaign to get ex-Sidewinder singer Andy Paley and brother Jonathan's late-seventies Sire LP reished on CD as well. Never heard it other than via various single tracks, but this is a must-track-down item for myself not to mention you with its punky take on the seventies surf/sixties revival sounds of the day (1977, and what I've heard sounds so fresh amidst the revivalist meets the worst aspects of seventies pop hit fodder that was unfortunately the big deal during those times, like "Beach Baby" and the theme from HAPPY DAYS) that SHOULD'VE been pushed 'stead of the horrid quap that unfortunately stood for my generation! And while we're talking about Andy Paley why don't we mention...

Elliott Murphy-NIGHT LIGHTS (RCA)-...which was an album I remember was unmercifully slagged upon arrival in 1976, yet for me it seemed like just the kinda record that I would have loved to have owned if only it would've headed for the cut-out rack a little sooner'n expected. (And for some odd reason it went directly from the full-priced bin into oblivion, at least around these parts!) This was the one that got Murphy kicked off RCA which is too bad, because once you get down to it this disc set the pace for a lot of what was to come out of the NYC underground for a few years afterwards with its mix of punky Velvetisms and New York gutter visions (with a healthy dose of New York singer-songwriter too!), ao let's just say it was ahead of its time which you must admit was the case with ALL of this stew. The tracks with Murphy and his late-'75 Boston-based band (which included, besides Paley on drums [!], ex-Modern Lovers Jerry Harrison and Ernie Brooks) remind me a lot of the more "traditional"-oriented numbers that ended up on the first Max's Kansas City album, and even that second one that it seems nobody likes but had some above-par offerings from the lines of Phillip Rambow and Andrew Pearson as well. The sound is very mid-seventies in that there are enough Arp strings and other synth sounds here to gag even Gary Wright, but maybe therein lies the charm in this excellent bit of pop paraphrenalia. Of course, we do have to put up with Murphy's occasionally overwrought lyrics as well as a guest appearance by Billy Joel, and Murphy's followup JUST A STORY FROM AMERICA on Columbia from '77 (which I believe was reissued on CD in Europe!) took the same drive and verve of NIGHT LIGHTS and improved even more on the decapop, but given all the abuse this vastly-underrated platter got, maybe it's time for an underground revival on par with Rocket From the Tombs and Hackamore Brick. (And while we're at it, how about if RCA reissues Nelson Slater's infamous WILD ANGEL album which was withdrawn because of the Warhol-derived cover featuring a pseudo-S&M pose that got the women's libbers all in an uproar!)

BINKY PHILIPS (Caroline)-Not quite CD-length (since it was a maxi-EP or mini-LP to begin with, but maybe someone could pad it out with outtakes etc.), this one gained a lot of underground press at the time it came out (1988) with even critical featherweights the likes of Parke Puterbaugh of ROLLING STONE singing its praises. As usual the general public yawned, not necessarily because Binky Philips and BINKY PHILIPS were stuck on a small label but because, hey, it was 1988, not exactly high energy rock & rolling times. Too bad, because this platter by ex-Planets leader Philips and his then-current band (featuring Mickey Leland from Susan "fame" on drums and then-galpal Sarah Lee from the League of Gentlemen and later Gang of Four on bass) were a healthy throwback to what underground rock was before Johnny Rotten and pals hadda go and change the punk non-rules for good. The Planets were a great blistering slice of energy rock, sorta like 1967 Who meets 1969 Stooges, and given their totally undeserved failure it was great to see a lotta people rally around Philips and his new aggregate over ten years after the fact. What led to Philips' downfall was that everyone rallied around him except his label, because at that time I got in touch with Caroline asking for help in setting up an interview with Philips for my fanzine, only to get yer typical "go away kid" response from the powers that be. Turns out that the man and band were being dropped right at the same time I was making my motions which would explain the bum's rush I got! Unfortunately I haven't heard anything about Binky or his endeavors since then (other than a mention by J. D. King in the latest BLACK TO COMM) which is a shame, since his high-energy pop sounded so refreshing in the light of an ever-decaying underground fifteen years back. You could only imagine how it would go over in today's particularly nil world...sort of like a fresh blast of air after being locked in a closet with a couple of bean eaters! In the same vein, I'd also like to see the demo tape by The Disposable God Squad digitized, since they were another band reviving seventies freshness in a stale eighties world. Anyone up to THAT task???

Lul-INSIDE LITTLE ORAL ANNIE (forget label, some Dutch thing)-Never heard it but wanted to for longer than I can remember. Reports had them sounding like the ultimate thud-dunce metallic punk act ever, something that would have made the metal thrash bands of the day pale in comparison and those self-appointed arbitors of metallic ways like Andy Secher freak out over the lack of "melody" and "poise" therein. While we're talking un-CD'd material I've never laid ears upon, I ought to mention Archie Shepp's JEWEL if only for the presence of the always-fascinating Kali Zusann Fasteau Garrett.

WALTER STEDING (Red Star)-I reviewed this one in the latest issue of BLACK TO COMM, and it really amazes me that nobody and I mean NOBODY gives the time of day to this wunnerful no wave masterpiece. As I said, imagine the best moments of THE MARBLE INDEX, HERE COME THE WARM JETS and the first Suicide album in an even madder stew than the originals. I think the Blondie connection (plus the subdued second album on Chris Stein's Animal label) scares a lotta prospective customers away, but really, if you've ever imagined a "New York Rock" album that was avant garde, frightening, insane, classical yet rock & rolling which made you flash back to the first time you heard THE VELVET UNDERGROUND AND NICO, this is it.

Musica Orbis-TO THE LISTENERS (Longdivity)-Kitty Brazelton's website has been promising the eventual CD reissue of this unacclaimed treasure (read BLACK TO COMM #24 for a review) for years, but still no sign of it as we speak which is going to be tough for all you audiophiles who cringe over the cow-patty pressings of this now-pricey platter that're flying around. As for me, I really enjoy this group despite everything that was going against them, such as their at-times classical gassy leanings (although they use their progginess to an overall rock advantage rather than come off looking like the music majors they were!) and while a few dire tracks seem to have popped straight out of the mid/late-seventies book of moosh, the smart-takes on then-current pop and avant garde inclinations, not to mention Brazelton's neat pop voice that reminds me of some of the better singers on the seventies scene only in tune, make this a surprise as far as its ability to rock out in a world which expected them to float around the stage! The use of harp, cello and pipe organ lends to the charm, and in some ways TO THE LISTENER sounds like what your typical prog band of the day would have if it were to traipse upon mid-seventies "underground" (read-proto-punk) territory. Which was in fact the case. Actually, TO THE LISTENERS has just about as much relevancy to what was going on in American (and elsewhere) garages in the mid-to-late-seventies as all our fave earbusting bands you'll search the ends of the earth for. Interesting aside: Brazelton mentions that at Musica Orbis' May 1976 appearance at CBGB none other than Joey Ramone was front and center for their set...unfortunately history does not record what Mr. Ramone thought of the show!

Luther Thomas and Dizzazz- YO' MAMA! (Moers Music, Germany)-There are a lot of small-label and especially micro-label seventies free jazz wares in need of reissue, such as Milford Graves' BABI MUSIC and a number of Human Arts Ensemble albums, but here's a strangie that I wouildn't mind seeing digitized soon if only for the prestige of it. Thomas was one of the young avant garde jazz upstarts of the seventies who made whatever kind of name he could have made for himself in the St. Louis BAG scene (leaving a number of records with and without the Human Arts Ensemble, all of which should be seeked out and perhaps even released on the shiny pancake!), but this one recorded in 1981 remains his messterpiece! At this time Thomas was in En Why See cashing in on the new avant garde jazz/punk merger that was very in vogue thanks to the Contortions (and which in fact still resonates from the Sunday Night avant garde jazz series at the
CBGB Lounge!), and, along with Sonny Sharrock, Joseph Bowie, Frank Lowe, Phillip Wilson and other black avant masters Thomas entered into the "dissonance and blues" sweepstakes with a band called Dazz, known as Dizzazz on this release for German avant label Moers Music. An unintentionally (maybe?) funny platter, YO' MAMA! features everything from fake rap to an anti-Reagan reggae number (which is odd in that he attacks RR from an abortion viewpoint by capitalizing on the claim that the administration would pursue criminal investigations with regards to miscarriages [and nada about the actual abortion procedure] leading me to think that Thomas is one of those few pro-life Dems around!) to even a couple straight-out punk rock things which are great in their hilariousness! I especially liked "Six Months in Reform School" (which, according to Thomas, "taught me everything I wanted to know") where our man affects this whiny snot-nosed voice in a great and successful attempt to imitate a teenaged white suburbanite! A black man imitating a while boy trying to imitate a white man who was trying to imitate a black man thirty years earlier??? Who knows, but anyway this is a truly forgotten classic of the early-eighties New York scene, and really, I KNOW that there were a ton of "authentic" white bands on the scene doing the exact same thing so don't call Thomas a cash in!

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Christopher said...

One I forgot...Glenn Phillips' LOST AT SEA.

Christopher said...

I caught another little fox pass here...actually, Joey Ramone was present at Musica Orbis' July, not May 1976 CBGB gig. Sorry for the gaffe!