Tuesday, September 28, 2004

THE PALEY BROTHERS CD (some Japanese reissue originally released on Sire, burned for me by Jon Behar)

Here's one of those discs that brings back great memories...memories of the GOLDEN AGE OF BARGAIN BINS in the seventies that is, when it seemed as if all of the real hot fifties/sixties rock action that was going on down at your local record shop was happenin' in the cut-out rack! (Maybe if your local store had a good import section there's be a little more to cheer about, that is, if you could afford the at-times stiff prices that were given to Stiff Records!) Anyway, THE PALEY BROTHERS was one of those custom-made platters that seemed immediately destined for the cheap racks...along with the previously-reviewed Lisa Burns album, the Flamin' Groovies (both in their Kama Sutra and Sire incarnations) and (not forgetting) Paley brother Jonathan's previous album output (THE SIDEWINDERS from '72 plus Elliott Murphy's 1976 NIGHT LIGHTS, both on RCA), you just knew it would end up corner-cut, saw-toothed and price reduced more sooner than later. And all of these intriguing albums usually ended up there (along with what seemed like the entire Kama Sutra line from Sha Na Na down through the US edition of The Famous Charisma Label catalog!), though unfortunately a good portion of 'em seemed to end up in bargain bins outside of my immediate area! Maybe I'd chance upon a cassette of something good down the line (though the 8-track bins were the ones filled with the desirable booty and such unobtainable wonders as Tim Buckley's STARSAILOR not to mention the Lord Buckley album that was also on Zappa's Straight label...waaahh!), but looking back this bargain-bin game was a greatly hit-miss affair though I gotta admit it was fun looking through 'em not knowing what you were gonna see (and I did score my copy of Slapp Happy's DESPERATE STRAIGHTS at Musicland in the Eastwood Mall for a mere $3.49, though stoopid me just HADDA pass on the Black Sabbath hits collection on Fontana for half the price...though I wised up enough to get the Pretty Things one [part of the same series] a few years later!)

And these Paley kids put out a great just what the Doc Rock ordered platter too, one of those ingenious things that, like various Tommy James hits of the sainted sixties, could appeal to the teeny-bopper contingent on one had while on the other alla those snooty intellectuals could appreciate the fine production and musical arrangements in order to be "with it" as well. Only problem with this you'd think winning combination was that this elpee just hadda've come out during the dog days of 1977, a time when not only AM rock was being overrun by the dregs of the leftover singer/songwriter and California brigades and disco remakes of "Baby Face," but FM was getting so coked-out that stations like WMMS-FM had to resort to playing the soundtrack from STAR WARS every hour in order to appeal to the boxboy mentality. Heck, the Paleys would probably be considered lucky if they got their not-so-prospective hit single "Ecstacy" (surprisingly not on the album, along with their Ramones-backed EP side amongst other things) played on "rate-a-record"...like just about everything else out of the great late-seventies hard-edged pop/rock movement, THE PALEY BROTHERS (and the Paley Brothers as well) got wooshed over in the undertow of some pretty lame music that still seems to be rotting away even this far down the line!

But (as you'd expect), the Paleys run all over the competition despite their obvious poor showing in the late-seventies AM pop olympics. And, unlike I was led to believe, this is not a "surf" record per se, but fine, Greg Shaw-approved power-pop that got hefty praise in the pages of BOMP!, but hardly anywhere else. Some of it (like their cover of Mel Tillis' "I Heard the Bluebirds Sing") reminds me of Jan and Dean before they put their baggies on, while other parts sound like pretty good late-seventies AM pop that reminds me of the straight commercial blahdom of the day like, say, the Allessi Brothers or Paper Lace had they gotten hold of Lenny Kaye as a producer and hung out at CBGB for a few weeks...but WAIT!!!!, AM pop of the mid/late-seventies sounded NOTHING like this! Thinking it over, this is what (using my anti-populist rockist elitism to its fullest extent) AM pop would've sounded like had I any say in programming matters...smooth, high-energy rock that was a much purer continuation from the best of the late-sixties/early-seventies AM cream that once you get down to it acted as if Melissa Manchester and Andrea True had never happened, and if Shawn Cassidy and Leif Garrett had been injected with testosterone! Unfortunately it was stuff like THE PALEY BROTHERS that flopped big while cheesy, put-on drek like "Beach Baby" (early-sixties surf nostalgia focused through late-seventies customized van logic) and "Undercover Angel" (not to mention Peter Frampton and his Loretta Young perm) hadda go and "speak" for the reams of all those downed-out zilch-dimensional teenagers I hadda go to high school with! Too bad THE PALEY BROTHERS got little more than a "new Beach Boys" nod and a mention in a Mad Peck cartoon back then, or else there would have been something good for Shaw and his followers to talk about back then, besides punk rock that is!

EC FAN-ADDICT FANZINE (Roger Hill, 2463 Aloma, Wichita, KS 67211 or ecfanaddicts@lycos.com)

It's odd enough when you realize that the fanzine form has survived well into the oh-ohs (though they're certainly not as strong a FORCE as they were even a decade ago) and it's even odder to see that there's a new EC fanzine available in the here and now as well! EC FAN-ADDICT FANZINE is a newly-published 'zine dealing with the EC idiom even this late in the comics game when you thought the subject matter has been exhausted, and as far as trying to emulate the classic EC fanzine titles of the 60s/70s/80s goes, it does a pretty good job even though the modern slickness tends to take something away from the old selectric look of the originals. Of course, when just about everything about EC from the Pre-Trend titles on down the line has been documented and discussed there's really no hard, gripping EC news to disseminate like there used to be when most if not all of the EC people were alive, but that won't stop editor Roger Hill who does some pretty good barrel-scraping in order to give us a read where a few small surprises can pop up here and there.

This ish features an interview with Ron Parker, the guy who put together HOOHAH!, one of the first EC fanzines back when EC was still alive and kicking (in a grave I'm tempted to say, and you can order his new [well, maybe not so new as it came out in 1984 and he's still trying to unload 'em!] BEST OF HOOHAH! collection at 3974 South Coral Court in Byron California if you so desire [zip is 94514] even though I think $25 for a fanzine the size of BLACK TO COMM #18 is really, uh, steep), plus there's a gab with some woman who took painting lessons from "Ghastly" Graham Ingels which I guess is better'n nothing even if the interview deals with heresay part of the time. But once your mind starts a-wand'rin' suddenly it gets perked, like with a piece which queries what the rarest EC title to be released was, plus you get an interesting reprint from a mid-fifties MAD swipe called LUNATICKLE (one of those poor imitations which tend to make me cringe more than laugh, and one which often placed actual MAD reference points...these editors often sneaking doctored versions of actual MAD covers or even Alfred E. Neuman into their pages!) which deals with horror comics, the Comics Code, and a thinly-veiled imitation of William Gaines! A person interested in the whys and wherefores of just about any fanzine (mostly of the old, pre-information highway days) would see the EC FAN-ADDICT FANZINE as a worthy successor to such titles as SQUA TRONT and SPA FON, even though the subject matter in those tended to be "soil-tilled" and "re-tilled" more than the average non-fan could stand. But then again, would it be an EC fanzine WITHOUT any mention of Fredric Wertham???

Speaking of fanzines (and NOT of "soil-tilling!"), there are still plenty of issues of BLACK TO COMM in its current and not-so current form available. The latest is a 162-page wonder complete with a CD (see my July 31 post for more information on this and other available issues) that you can get for ten smackers plus $2.00 p&h. Sure, paying that sorta money would have sent you to the poor-house had this been the age of the original EC (and other) fanzines way back in the fifties, but nowadays it's a trifle amount. C'mon, man does not live by SPIN alone!

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