Sunday, December 19, 2004


While other blogs tempt you with top five lists, I'm going to do 'em all ONE BETTER and give you my TOP SIX fave rave listening/reading/dining and dancing obsessions so you can all live vicariously through my (I guess) superior to whatever it is you do exploits. Don't go sayin' I don't do nothing for you faithful readers!


I gotta admit that I never was too thrilled by the "new" Gizmos that came out in the wake of the infamous "fanzine mafia" version of this now-legandary band. Given that none of the original members were in this live-oriented actively gigging edition (that was formed to back Gizmo Bowieclone Teddy Niemiec's attempt to further his own solo career although for some unknown reason he backed out a week after its formation) and that these new guys had none of the original group's mid-seventies Velvets/Stooges/Dictators/ROCK ON! drive, you could say that I wasn't exactly busting down the door to hear 'em. In fact, I was so non-enthralled that I only played the latterday NEVER MIND THE SEX PISTOLS, HERE'S THE GIZMOS EP once and sold that split album that the faux-group did with new wave cookie-cutters Dow Jones and the Industrials during one of my frequent mid-eighties record collection purges. But then again, I wasn't a huge fan of the late-seventies punk as pUnK (soon to be "punque") sounds that seemed to capture the imaginations of more than a few rock critics at least before Springsteen's DARKNESS ON THE EDGE OF WETNESS finally came out! Y'see, I "went" for the kinda groups that seemed to take the best moments that the mid/late-sixties drummed up taking all of that hard-driving inspiration into even more frightening avenues...Pere Ubu and a pre-art project Talking Heads (!) come to mind, but you know there were many more.

So you can imagine my surprise giving these "new" Gizmos a listening to years after I dismissed them as grave-robbing shucks. True, neo-Gizmo leader Dale Lawrence ain't no Teddy Niemiec but he's Dale Lawrence which is good enough, and these songs have a nice Ramones-y romp to 'em that don't come off carbon copy or anything like that which is a good change though not mandatory. Superfine originals coupled with great lyrics ("When you die/You will lie/Underneath a cowpie!") make for a welcome relief, and for an added, 1979 kick you even get a punkified take of Al Green via Talking Heads' "Take Me To The River" which, had the Gizmos hit with it 'stead of Byrne's crew, could have veered Ameriga's youth onto the path of pure punky righteousness rather than new wave pretension! A nice surprise which is more than just another tombstone to what was vibrant, free, and ignored.

Freedomland-AMUSEMENT PARK CD-R (Rent Control)

One of the few reasons I have for existing these days is the Sunday Night freestyle/avant jazz cybercasts eminating from the CBGB Lounge. For those of you who don't know, this place, owned and operated by the world-reknown CBGB next door, has given its Sunday evening stage space to the creme-de-la-avant free jazz acts lucky enough to make the scene, and over the past three years there have been many young upstarts as well as old reliables playing the Home of Underground Whatever in a mad rage of fury that equals the very same now-legendary New York Loft Jazz scene of the mid-to-late seventies that yielded us the classic WILDFLOWERS series of LPs on Douglas records. In the past such solo stars and groups ranging from Zusann Kali Fasteau, Joseph Jarman and the Earth People not forgetting free-pattern GIANT Sunny Murray have played the series, and upcoming shows will feature the likes of Byard Lancaster and Luther Thomas, veterans who aren't strangers to the CBGB stage having played there during the post-no wave days of the very-late seventies/very-early eighties.

I reviewed Freedomland's AMUSEMENT PARK in my latest, and given that it's become a frequent spin here at the BLOG TO COMM office and that you probably don't know about it I thought I'd better give the disque another mention and perhaps help move a copy or two. AMUSEMENT PARK, recorded at the Lounge on February 10 2002, is the sole release from this interesting avant garde ensemble featuring not only such free jazz veterans as William Parker (he of Frank Lowe's BLACK BEINGS fame) and Daniel Carter, but various late seventies New York rockers like David Hofstra (Contortions, Chinese Puzzle) on tuba and bass saxophone as well as the omnipresent Dee Pop (who's booking these Sunday Night gigs!) on drums. An interesting combination, but it works just as well as all of those seventies avant collectives cluttering up your collection and perhaps swings even more so since this is all going down at a punk rock club and not inna middle of some chic dinner and tux tails swank-set cabaret. Two longies here: "Community Meeting at the Chicken Shack" (34:55) is a wunnerful Shepp-esque romp starting off with out-kilter play on tubas and baritone saxes before turning into this sorta spaced-out free rock that kinda reminds me of the music that was being made on that episode of GILLIGAN'S ISLAND when the castaways began playing this primitive-instrumental music and the warring natives began dancing to it just like on AMERICAN BANDSTAND! "New Brass Miasma" (27:42) is more spazz jazz that reminds me of the free ebb and flow of the best improvisational new-thing twist that the AACM started and more than a few loft aggregates picked up on in the mid-seventies before it all seemed to fade away in the eighties (only to be resurrected thanks to the fine toil of a free-minded being the likes of Pop!). One can only hope that more of the avant garde will find its way to the CBGB Lounge soon, since we all could use return performances from the likes of Billy Bang, Frank Lowe and Milford Graves more sooner than later! (And somebody, how about releasing more gigs from this series, which I'm sure serious jazz critiquers will be praising to the hilt in forty years but we're in on the game NOW so be proud of yourself FOR ONCE!)

Michael Nyman-DECAY MUSIC CD (EMI/Virgin...I think Forced Exposure has it in stock)

Here's a brand-spanking-new "digitally remastered" (if that really means anything!) re-release of this platter that originally came out on Brian Eno's Obscure label back in the days when Eno was so humongous that he too could have his own company to do whatever he wanted to just like Frank Zappa and the Jefferson Airplane! Being an import bin hunter when this originally came out in (I believe, booklet notes being, er, obscure) 1976, I was familiar with this debut release from British composer and Larry Fine lookalike Nyman but didn't dare snatch it up not only because money was such a rare object of desire at the time, but because I didn't feel like taking chances with my hard-begged moolah on a platter that coulda been a dog, no matter how enticing it may have looked. Well, here it is in my sweaty palms twenny-nine years later and guess what? I'm taking chances not only because I now have a little more scratch to spread around, but because I figure that at the rate I'm going I'm probably going to be dead more sooner than later and I better start lending an ear to a lotta things I've passed up o'er the years before I start taking up residence in Potter's Field!

Three tracks here, and if you were expecting some sorta strange avant garde classical cum rock screech like I was you too will be in for a shock. A nice shock mind you..."1-100" is a side-long (using old el-pee terminology here!) solo piano track featuring various dolorous chords that kinda reminds me of something I woulda done age twelve playing at random albeit most of my notes woulda been clunkers. "Bell Set No. 1" sounds like a buncha clockwork gone kaplooey. It brings back memories of this time when I was in my teens and my dad was fixing this small clock we used to have in our living room and the chimes on it struck out in this weird, wavering, twisted way. I told my dad I thought it sounded cool. He told me I was nuts. Anyway, if you got a whole buncha clocks that chimed in this distorted way at various decibels and pitches it would probably sound like "Bell Set No. 1." "1-100 (Faster Decay)" comes off like the original only (as you'd guess) faster, like maybe if I got good enough at cranking out those John Schaum chords a li'l quicker and wanted to impress the uncles and aunts when they came over. Anyway, I hope my personal injections into this writeup read a lot better'n the reams of boring, clinical and staid reviews of this CD you're more or less likely to find!

Les Rallizes Denudes-'67 ET STUDIO CD-R

This one came as part of a 10-CD set of various Les Rallizes Denudes live/studio/solo endeavors (which also includes their OZ DAYS tracks and leader Mizutani's performing farewell backing Arthur Doyle), but for me it's one of the most important of the batch for it documents the group's heavy Velvet Underground-influenced sound and vision being done at a time when John Cale was still driving the Velvets towards avenues of unspeakable beauty and density. Yes, along with Doug Snyder's Cooger and Dark's Pandemonium Shadow Show and Le Stelle De Mario Schifano, Les Rallizes Denudes were creating an EPI-influenced sonic/visual blast and at a time when we were at least five years away from realizing just how widespread and influential the entire Velvets/Warhol scene was! So you've gotta admit that we better give these Tokyo thumpsters their just DUES for at least for being ahead of the rest of us as far as knowing that the musical high point of the twentieth century was happening in a Polish meeting hall in New York and not necessarily a ballroom in San Francisco! I believe this CD is identical to the '67-'69 legitimate offering that lead Denude Mizutani briefly released in the early-nineties, though for some odd reason the twenty-minute "Smoking Cigarette Blues" (a fine hunk of repeato-riff garage sputum that sounds like Davie Allen and the Arrows trying to play "Sister Ray") is missing. But you can find that one on vinyl if you look hard enough. What you do get on this CD is an excerpt from the very first Denudes gig in early 1968 sounding like a tape I have of the second Family Dog Tribal Stomp from 1967 where Quicksilver, the Oxford Circle and Big Brother and the Holding Company got together and created this wild feedback whoop. Mizutani's guitar careens and crashes while the drummer keeps to the floor tom sounding like he's about to declare war on Abyssinia! Then there's this harmonica player breathing in and out Huck Finn-style like he took lessons from Roscoe Mitchell and Leroy Jenkins! Some tracks're great buzzsaw six-oh garage (played in the Japanese "tradition" a la the Jacks and Golden Cups...hah!) while others may even be a little sappy for your tastes (a lotta these Japanese proto-punks tended to have their softer, more pop-oriented Kyu Sakamoto moments, and there are two slow and terse numbers here [each punctuated with a small bell] that come close to...Bob Segar's "Turn the Page"?!?!?!?), but if you too are a follower of not only the Velvet Underground but all those groups they influenced long before that became "hip" (and a million subpar spuds took the drive and drone and rammed it into the ground), here's another one for the pile.


In my original review of this recently-reissued rarity (scroll down), I did mention that the Beat of the Earth would take time to grow on me. Well, it has...sorta, at least enough that I can enjoy it more on a west coast Seeds-drone level and ignore the at-times lovey-dovey lyrics not to mention the silly hippie patter on side-two (again, using old vinyl talk here!). It actually has a nice late-sixties West Coast "vibe" that I gotta admit comes off good, at least until the West Coast went from the likes of Love and the original Byrds to the early seventies fringe and acoustic guitar whole earth eating stuff that David Crosby was riding to the bank with. Still, I'm wary about head Beat Ron Pearlman's other endeavors which I fear may take the seventies portion of the Californian equation to heart.

15-60-75 (The Numbers Band)-JIMMY BELL'S STILL IN TOWN CD-R (Reedurban)

There's a professional CD of this available on line from the same people who also have a bunch of Backdoor Men CDs up for sale not to mention a digital take of the ten copies only Peter Laughner/Terry Hartman NOTES ON A COCKTAIL NAPKIN acetate w/o the skips and crackles, but I keep forgetting to order that stuff which must prove how little the original Cleveland seventies thrust means to me these days. However, I do own this cheap-o knockoff which I not only bought directly from the band way back in 1999 but reviewed in the now outta-print (and thankfully so, considering the jerk who contributed to it!) BLACK TO COMM #23. Recorded in 1975 and released a year later, JIMMY BELL'S STILL IN TOWN remains 15-60-75's best (I never could "get into" their eighties-period recordings, which were jazzier and less-intense), showing the Numbers Band guys at their peak in many ways sounding like just about any other seventies Akron/Kent/Cleveland underground aggro of the day (pre-media push) doing the hard garage band thud with hefty Velvet Underground reference points, only with a horn section and a way stronger blues approach than most of the new wave would have ever dared. These guys were such a big fixture in Kent throughout the seventies and eighties, and people who saw them way back when tell me they seemed to be destined for way bigger things that never did happen. And hey, if there are any Cleveland/Akron seventies underground aficionados reading this, could you/would you please give me some insight as to what the group Nightlife were like (they being a jazz band featuring members of the Numbers Band and Tin Huey wanting to do "something different," which usually meant gigging at one of those small run down bars where it seems somebody gets shot in the parking lot at least once a week), not forgetting an ultra-obscure Cleveland-area act called the LETTERS Band, they also playing the same kinda murder hotspots 'cept they seemed to be oriented near the campus of Case Western Reserve University.

Anyway, enough of that. I hope you've appreciated the extra mile (actually, the extra review!) that I went for this posting, and considering the time of year it is let me close with this bit of seasonal holiday advice...keep Chris in Christmas!

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