(in case you forgot all about it)...BACK ISSUES OF BLACK TO COMM are STILL available!!!
If you like this blog, the music that's covered therein and the writing that's on it, there's a lot more of this bile you can read in the pages of my long-running BLACK TO COMM fanzine. Funny, but it seems to me that there are quite a few people out there who should know about BTC as well as my own scribblings for a number of sources yet don't, which is surprising since this effort of mine has been in gear since 1985, and I've been an honest-to-goodness (on a "non-professional" basis!) fanzine scriber since 1981. It's a shame that there's been such a "conspiracy of silence" about me and the mag goin' on all these years, with the only publicity I get usually being negative rants rattled off by pointy-heads who frankly don't know any better, but anyhoo, here's a list of all the BLACK TO COMM's still available in order of the oldest slow-seller to the brand-spanking newest dud, and just to show you that I'm the mercenary capitalist that I am I will be re-posting this list (with any adequate changes made, natch!) every so often in a vain attempt to drum up a little business that seems to have been lost ever since a couple of wizeacres out there...but I won't get into that! I mean, it's getting to the point where I'll probably have to start eating some of these back issues, and frankly the staples don't do any wonders for my digestion!!!
Anyway, postage for these monstrosities is FREE on all orders within the United States and even Canada (since I'm a nice guy), though others will have to pay $5.00 for the first mag and $2.00 each in US of A funds if they want to see the thing that bad. And although some might disagree, I am proud of this magazine and the work I've done to put them out, at least some of the time!
Send your orders to Christopher Stigliano, 714 Shady Ave., Sharon PA 16146-3149 USA, and make your payment out to me and not the magazine, hokay???
PHFUDD #12-Here's the oldest available back issue, dating from June 1988 back when BTC was wrestling under it's earlier name which at one time was changing ever-so-slightly from ish to ish, this one featuring a cover story on the Droogs, who at the time had released this wowzer of a "Great American Rock & Roll Album" (in the tradition of BACK IN THE USA, ONE KISS LEADS TO ANOTHER and HALF MACHINE LIP MOVES...no kidding!) entitled KINGDOM DAY, as well as a piece on Peter Stampfel and the Bottlecaps, the new glut of Detroit '60s hard rock exhumations coming out of France, and Electric Eel lyrics accompanied by pictures that may still be "rare" even to this day! There's also a query about Detroit rock legend Sirius Trixon as well as a reprint from an old CBGB listing as to what the Vanessa Vickers Duo with Billy Ficca (of Television, natch!) that were playing at that famed club back in the spring of '75 sounded like! I've been curious for years and did find out that there was a pianist with the same name working the cabaret (!) circuit who put out a CD a few years back so that might be her, but she has since died, so if anyone has any information (even Billy Ficca seemed to shrug the whole thing off saying that it was just a gig he did two nights at CBGB, neglecting to give us any information as to how the thing started up or what they sounded like!) how about letting me know for history's sake. This is getting to be a rare one, and I need the money so...$10.00 each!
BLACK TO COMM #14-The first issue with the new and improved name which I changed not only because I began to hate the silliness of the old one (plus the negative publicity at the hands of one Gerard Cosloy and another Patrick Amory had pretty much plunged my sales to nil...hope you satisfied enough of your hipster friends, boys!) features part one of the Ron Asheton interview, a nice though could be much better given all the information discovered since piece on the Deviants, an article on Peter Laughner's Cinderella Backstreet and the Seeds. Oh, there's also a piece on Charlemagne Palestine written by someone or other, and it can all be yours for $5.00 a pop!
BLACK TO COMM #16-This one has the Rudolph Grey interview. some reprints of Peter Laughner things I copped out of old issues of ZEPPELIN and elsewhere, more Electric Eels lyrics with a pic, Laughing Hyenas and of course tributes to the recently departed Lucille Ball and Jim Backus. The first, cruddy version can be had for $2.50, though the better take will cost an extra buck ($3.50 in case you can't add).
BLACK TO COMM #17-The first of the "big" isssues has a cover story/interview with Scott Morgan and Gary Rasmussen from the old Scott Morgan band, also inside's an interview with Borbetomagus' Donald Miller as well as one with Maureen Tucker, not to mention pieces on Fish Karma (who I liked until hearing his overly-preachy kiss kiss moosh anti-gun song entitled "God Bless The NRA"), the Dogs (from Detroit, not the French ones or the Flamin' Groovies for that matter!), Rocket From the Tombs (with loads of old photos and the like, some never seen before or since!), the top 25 of heavy metal, METAL MACHINE MUSIC, a piece on the then-new proto-punk reissues and archival digs of the day and the usual reviews and news. Buy a copy for $7.00.
BLACK TO COMM #19-Just found a few of these niceties with my Miriam Linna interview plus one done with Jeff Clayton of Antiseen, not to mention the Pink Fairies, Czech Underground Rock (Plastic People of the Universe, Umela Hmota...), Lester Bangs (unpublished photos too!), NUGGETS, the Shangs, a history of proto-punk fanzines, lotsa old TV stuff and of course the regular departments. This is the first ish to really dig into a lotta the anti-youth fascism mentality so popular in rock circles these days, so sissies beware!!! Since this is getting rare you can have one of these soon-to-be collector's items for $8.00 each if you can believe it! A real steal deal!!!!
BLACK TO COMM #20-This has a Mick Farren (Deviants) interview, a talk with Roky Erickson (!), a Craig Moore (the Gonn!) interview, the Seeds, Richard Meltzer, a retrospective on the DENIM DELINQUENT fanzine, the New York Dolls, an old Adny Shernoff (Dictators) interview done by Greg Prevost in 1978, a Harriet Nelson obituary, loads on old TV shows and the like and of course the usual stuff that upsets the likes of antepodians and pseudo-libertarians as well. Buybuybuy for only $8.00 each!
BLACK TO COMM #21-A VON LMO cover story and interview grace this ish, as do interviews with Metal Mike Saunders, Brian McMahon (Electric Eels) and rockabilly star Ronnie Dawson, plus you can read much-desired items on the Trashmen, Velvet Underground and Hawkwind like I knew you would! And all you'll have to do to get it is seperate yourself from $8.00 and send it all to me!!!
BLACK TO COMM #22-The printers (and myself to a degree) messed this one up but it became one of my biggest sellers anyway! Cover story features Alice Cooper, and there's also things on Steve Mackay (Stooges), Umela Hmota in Josef Vondruska's own translated words, a lengthy BACK DOOR MAN history (one of SEVEN...ha ha! Just kidding!!!), Jymn Parrett telling us his version of the DENIM DELINQUENT story, the Planets (NYC version), the Sidewinders (Boston version), a warped krautrock history entitled "Krautrock: The Final Solution to the Aryan Question!") and the usual gunk. Plus this one comes with a CD with a hand-decorated by memeME cover numbered and all, featuring Carnal Kitchen (Steve Mackay pre-Stooges!), Umela Hmota, Umela Hmota 3, Dom (post-UH), Rockin' Blewz (early Metal Mike Saunders!), Backsnider (Mike Snider's old band), Milk (early-seventies Cleveland VELVET TINMINE proto-punk glam), Moving Parts and more! If you want it, I have some, but not as many as before so in order to make up for past losses...$15.00 EACH!
BLACK TO COMM #24-Cover feature is a nice interview with Doug Snyder of not only Sick Dick and the Volkswagens fame (the NYC no wave band from the late-seventies lower-Manhattan ka-BOOM!, not the late-nineties group with the same moniker!) but the Doug Snyder/Bob Thompson DAILY DANCE album which has achieved legendary status long ago, if you're one in the know that is, plus there's an interview with the Dogs (Detroit) and Greg Shaw, a piece on the old CAN'T BUY A THRILL fanzine and the usual feature-length reviews and the like. $9.00 gets you one!
BLACK TO COMM #25-The latest, 162 pages brimming with such goodies as a New York City Scene history (featuring interviews with Max's Kansas City's Peter Crowley and Ruby Lynn Reyner from Ruby and the Rednecks plus pieces on coverboys the New York Dolls and VARIETY scene-booster Fred Kirby), an interview with J. D. King (Coachmen, comix) plus one with guitarist Lou Rone, who would probably be best known to you as leader of the early CBGB-era band Cross as well as one-time guitarist for both Kongress and VON LMO, the Screamin' Mee-Mees, Simply Saucer rare photos, family tree and gigography, rare fanzines of the Golden Age (and more), tons of book and record reviews (which make up the bulk of this ish!), plus a CD with live Simply Saucer 1975, the Coachmen, The Battleship, Ethel with David Nelson Byers and Ruby and the Rednecks. I think it's the best issue so far and if you wanna find out for yourself, send me $10.00 if you order this one with any assortment of other issues, but if you buy it on your lonesome send me an additional $2.00...outside the immediate area add more!!!!
Well, here's what I have. If you find something here that tickles your fancy then go right ahead and snatch away...if you want to see if all those nasty and uncouth things written about the mag as well as myself are true then here's a fine opportunity to do so, but let me warn you...all those naysayers are probably RIGHT so don't come crying to me if your tender sensibilities are bruised!!!!
Saturday, July 31, 2004
(in case you forgot all about it)...BACK ISSUES OF BLACK TO COMM are STILL available!!!
The Gizmos-RAW FIRST TAKES 1977 CD-R (available from slippytown.com)
The Strokes-ROOM ON FIRE CD (label? I dunno since I got my copy burned by Russell Desmond of CAN'T BUY A THRILL [li'l ol' name-dropper me!] fame)
In case you didn't know, the Gizmos weren't only one of the better mid-seventies punk rock supergroups, they were the only mid-seventies punk rock supergroup! Think of it, the mid-seventies, when punk rock was really punk rock, and I'm talkin' punk as a composite sixties-garage/Detroit spasm/Velvet Underground thick-glasses nerd and high-school decadent worship and throw in all of that extraneous stuff in while you're at it style and form. You know what I'm talkin' about...rock bands that were studying their punk poses from the cover of the Hackamore Brick album before the Ramones came out, utilizing the same unmitigated drive that gave us all of those cheap recordings made in the garages of EARTH (Rocket From the Tombs, Umela Hmota, Rat Squeezers...) at a time when, well, hardly anyone knew or perhaps cared! Y'know, the punk that walked proud before the punque sniveled, best sought out in the pages of all of those crazed seventies fanzines I've mentioned over and over who either shone brightly or nova'd out of existence. Thaz the Gizmos!
You probably have all of their now-legit CDs by now (though I passed on the later ones with nil original members since I used to own that split LP with Dow Jones and the Industrials and I thought it was such a gnu wave disappointment that I slapped that one on the "sell" pile pronto!!!!!!) and if so bully for you, but if you want the entire, complete story (to date, that is) get hold of this limited-edition CD NOT released by Gulcher but by former Gizguy Eddie Flowers on his own Slippytown label. It's only twenty minutes and some seconds long but it's cheap enough and not only that but you get more of the great Gizmos sound that epitomized what punk rock was all about long before these current pseudo-hippies started cropping up advocating a POLICE STATE for the benefit of young maladjusted trust fund kiddies soiling the good name of punk for all eternity!
And this is the real punk as well. I mean, just take a gander at that cover snap with the seventies hairstyles right outta the Brick, not to mention the chunky pseudo-metal chording inherent on the grooves, er, whatever they have on CDs and the general vavoom you just couldn't get outta all those bands you see on the cover of SPIN these days (who seem to be hopping on the THIS IS THE GROUP THAT MATTERS, NOBODY ELSE DOES THIS WEEK LIKE THESE WORLD-SAVERS!!!! bandwagon just like ROLLING STONE used to do long ago!) because the Gizmos were way closer to the taproot of the punk matter'n not washed out by two decades of someone drilling into our heads that you just hadda mix Marx and monobeats (that's my term for the metronome/"motorific" primitive Maureen Tucker style of drumming used in varying degrees by Scott Asheton, Jaki Leibzeit, Twink, Ikue Mori in her DNA days, Nancy Arlen in Mars and VON LMO amongst many others).
And talking about punk this far down the line, I finally get to hear one of the new breed of punk rock new on the evolutionary assembly line bands in the form of the Strokes. Yeah, these guys have been making waves for quite some time now along with others in their sphere like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, but frankly it wasn't like I was rushing out to purchase anything this new generation of spew was putting out despite some advance interest in the YYY's wares. I mean, there was a time from the late-seventies until the mid-eighties when I would more or less grab hold of just about ANYTHING that got a "new Velvet Underground" tag hung on it because I figured that if we couldn't have the "real thing" at least there were a whole slew of aggros out there coming PRETTY CLOSE like the Patti Smith Group, early Talking Heads (at least until their art degrees got the better of 'em) and a whole garagefull more. I wised up eventually, but for my troubles hadda endure loads of subpar quap that really sullied a lotta things I grew to believe were actually holy, in a rock way at least.
So how do the Strokes hold up??? "What Ever Happened" sounds like slightly-invigorated eighties alternative rock with a phony John Lennon vocal. Things got really sad on "12:51" with more of those eighties synth sounds and sappy drone along with the typically over-emotional vocals bringing back bad memories of horrid eighties/nineties alternative nightmares that were nothing more than the aural variation of laxatives. (Hey, now I get it...X-tal=X-lax!!!) (And listen up all you Velvets freaks of the modern variety, as the GREAT Wayne McGuire once said, "The Velvet Underground's musical foundation in psychic, not emotional" and you better get that through your head NOW!!!!!!) And I thought that the opening early-Velvet-y chords to "You Talk Way Too Much" were going to show some promise, but then again the song has to go once again into that bad application of drone (which was at one time holy and pure...how these people could make it sound so sterile and meaningless really stymies me to no end!) mixed with 21st Century post-boredom living that really makes me wanna cry thinking about the hours I would spend tracing the Velvet Underground influence tree through garage bands this and punk history trends that only to have it all end up tasting like SOUR TREE SAP!!!!!
Hey, there are some bright moments here..."Meet Me In The Bathroom" (glad Desmond didn't supply me with a lyrics sheet) sounds like the Strokes were paying some attention to Kevin Ayers while "Under Control" has enough pop wit and spark to make it...mediocre, which is better'n what a lotta the competition on the sensitive young iconoclast market can muster up. But these moments are just that, and although rock & roll was a music made for the moment that doesn't mean that the greatness has to last a nanosecond like it might here and there. The Strokes do make a try at it, but in the long run all I got for my listening troubles were the same over-used cliches that weren't that original in the first place and face it, have hardly anything to do with the original thrust of the likes of the MC5 and all that crazy high-energy that was being birthed FORTY YEARS AGO if you can swallow that fact down your tightening throat! It's almost like what Lester Bangs wrote in his Laughner obit, about the line of intensity that started with Brando and the beats going through Elvis and the Stones to the Velvets, Stooges and Patti up to what Bangs called the "ersatz jive" of Suicide, only Bangs jumped the rung by a punk generation or two. The real degenerating didn't begin until much later, when the eighties alternative mode (seventies accomplishment meets seventies Joni Mitchell neurosis) got in gear with a load of bad-drone bands petering down to these brand-spanking-new punks that seem so far off the original course you'd swear they were floating around in the Arctic Sea or somethin'!
Maybe the Strokes deserve an "atta boy" for their ol' college radio try, but I'd prefer them to spend their precious World-Saving time listening to real punks like the Gizmos in order to get the pure unadulterated beat down pat, and less posing in front of the mirror. Still, I'd prefer to spend my time and effort and sheckels listening to the Gizmos ranting on about eating like pigs at McDonalds (oh, how offensive that would be to the British "anarchist" punque brigades!) and acting like true-blue 100% Amerigan slobs all to a really spiff Velvet Underground-cum-metal beat than I would to the Strokes struggling and mostly falling flat on their faces. You know, I don't even know if those guys would want to waste time watching old black & white TV shows and eating junk food and more or less DO THEIR PATRIOTIC DUTY like the Gizmos would...heck, sometimes I picture all of 'em at the college library in the magazine section pouring through not old music mags searching for interesting past reference points but brainy and stifling arts and political periodicals. Is that it, alternative rock as the revenge of Dilton Doiley???
Posted by Christopher Stigliano at 2:41 PM
Friday, July 30, 2004
REVIEWS OF A BUNCHA OLD FANZINES I GOT HOLD OF WITHIN THE LAST FEW DAYS OR MONTHS OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT YOU MIGHT WANNA READ ABOUT IF YOU LIKE THE THINGS I'VE DONE ON THOSE OLD SELF-PUBLISHED WONDERS IN PAST ISSUES OF BLACK TO COMM
HEAVY METAL DIGEST no. 2-Here's an oldie that always seemed to be mentioned with a short, usually complimentary sentence and nothing else. And with a name like HEAVY METAL DIGEST you probably thought that it was gonna be a mad 1973 raver with snaps of BOC and articles on Iggy all over the place, right? Well, have you ever read a heavy metal fanzine which featured a full page ad for Cat Stevens' CATCH BULL AT FOUR (along w/a glowing mention)??? Not to mention Lester Bangs and Richard Meltzer flinging some of their less-inspired dookey around and more than enough space given to that wastrel Cameron Crowe??? (I mean, why would anyone want to heap praise upon this teenage mainstream muck when there was a REAL teen punk like Eddie Flowers more deserving of notoriety???) I thought more of Danny Sugarman even with his overbearing Doors worship, but frankly this is one of the blander (non-collector-oriented) early-seventies fanzines I've ever read. And it ain't even a digest!!!! Come to think of it, it ain't even heavy metal either!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
THE NEW HAVEN ROCK PRESS vol. III no. 4-This is the fanzine that used to get dumped upon by everyone including their contributors (most notably Meltzer), and while I still "don't get it" as to why fanzine-creepers then and now continue to rag on Jon Tiven and company (sure, some of Tiven's musical choices could have been, er, better, but then again I could say that about everyone writing their blogs these days, some more than others!) I gotta admit that the issues I've read come off a lot better'n Sugarman's read above. At least for the choice of contributors, like Meltzer hisself for example who writes for the first time about his dead animals in Jello art and how certain parts of the then-deceased Janis Joplin's anatomy "would sure have been great appetizers in celery flavored Jello on the Thanksgiving table," a theme that seems to recur in Meltzer's writings such as the time he made the remarks about Jackie O's nether-regions making a good cheese storage bin. Tiven actually does well too with not only an interview with the famed biker-bootlegger "Rubber Dubber," and there's a for once on-target rip on Ralph Gleason's "Perspectives" column from the old ROLLING STONE, the one where the counterculture's elder statesman tore into bootleggers calling 'em "quack Robin Hoods" and "pigs." Funny thing is, there still are bootlegs around and with CD-R technology anyone can start their own label up, but ol' Ralph's been out of commission for almost three decades. Glad to see that the good guys won that round for once! Interesting Nick Tosches note: new Meltzer book to be called THE NEW ALCOHOLISM.
SHAKIN' STREET GAZETTE no.'s 10, 11, 12 and 14-This was the fanzine that was actually funded by the mandatory student activity fee at the State University Collage at Buffalo in New York State. Nice scam, and thanks to this evil sort of chicanery we got a whole buncha fanzines to peruse and enjoy at least until the funding was cut. And the fanzine was FREE if you got it on campus, and although editor Gary Sperrazza had promised a rebirth for a few years afterwards, we should at least be thankful that we got the issues that we did!
Most of the coverage in SHAKIN' STREET GAZETTE was of the mainstream rock variety; you could call SSG a collegiate version of CREEM, but like the inspiration there was a lotta great, early-seventies-styled rockism in these magazines to digest and peruse. The writing was very good as was a lotta the scribbling laid down during the "Golden Age of Rock Criticism" (which coincidentally coincided with rock fandom's GA as well!), and the rec reviews were snat in the CREEM fashion too, with all those old obscurities that would come out back when the labels would release anything getting the ink making you wonder just how this rag woulda made it in the punk rock days...too bad it couldn't sweat it out another five or so years!!! The usual funny and strange asides abound...like, Sperrazza (in a review of Amon Duul II) comparing Neu! to...King Crimson??? And (speaking of CREEM), one-time contributor Joe Fernbacher does a lotta good gonzo stuff here including (in #14) the first part of an actually informative and entertaining article on Frank Zappa's Bizarre and Straight labels which discusses the offerings that Captain Beefheart and Alice Cooper recorded for Straight (and Wild Man Fisher for Bizarre)...wouldn't mind reading future installments just to see his take on the Tim Buckley wares...'s funny, but I never really cared that much for STARSAILOR but considering how every copy of that one that I have sounds like it was pressed in Taiwan I wouldn't mind hearing a clear version for once if you actually can fathom that!!!! Believe me, I love reading things like that, and for a "genzine" SHAKIN' STREET GAZETTE sure did a pretty good job of it!
One unfortunate big heaping disappointment though...in the batch of SSG's I got gratis from Russell Desmond of CAN'T BUY A THRILL fame, missing was their punk rock "It's Not Coming Back" issue with much-desired articles on the likes of the Monkees, Byrds, Chocolate Watchband and Sonics!!! As they say in babyland...WAAAH!!!!
REVIEWSIT no. ?-One of those late-seventies fanzines that didn't quite make the transition from mid-seventies prog/California/metal to punk. They make a good try at it, although flopping a bit in the process. Their "punk" reviewer does get a little frothy at times, sounding like someone who just took a film course at the college of his choice and has to use all of his newfound knowledge to describe an album that seems to stand against such artistic dribble. Still a decent, ALL REVIEW fanzine that reminds me of some lesser attempts that cluttered up the eighties only with boring alternative disques abounding and nothing in the way of rock 'n roll, if you know what I mean.
THE FARCE OF FANDOM no. 3-I reviewed #2 in BLACK TO COMM #25, and believe-it-or-not, but one of the original editors of the mag is auctioning off copies of this great sophomoric MAD-inspired fanzine on ebay as I type! Interesting mix of then-current comic book spoofing (mainly a halfway-meaningful swipe at DC's more infantile moments, though I thought it was great to see silent film star Snub Pollard mentioned as the star of a prospective DC title!), though the rather well-drawn EC spoof (about a man who kills his wife and puts pieces of her body in Cracker Jack boxes as free surprises...shades of Meltzer!), like a lotta these takes, fell through despite just about everything else going for it. Still I can't believe the astuteness these guys oozed, like with their rip on the late-sixties Hanna-Barbera trend towards animating old comedy teams to surprisingly subpar effect. (I mean, I remember seeing an Abbott and Costello comic book based on the then-running cartoon at the time thinking it was sooooo lame, and that and their usually staid feature film performances really had me down on the duo until I finally gotta chance to eyeball their stellar TV series in the late-eighties!) Sure you have to put up with an occasionally faded mimeo page and sometimes the humor doesn't work out (plus they have to rely on using a "Mr. Natural" comic with their own dialogue on the back cover perhaps in order to milk some credo from it), but I really like these fanzine satire rags which I gotta admit take the tar outta what some of the biggie mags (MAD included) were doing at the same time, not to mention today! Good text: a surprisingly mature essay on Laurel and Hardy from high schoolers no less. Bad text: two pages of unfunny Polish jokes (and anyone could have gathered up a much better crop, believe-you-me!).
CAPTAIN GEORGE'S COMIC WORLD no. 27-Here's a strangie. CAPTAIN GEORGE'S COMIC WORLD (along with sister pub CAPTAIN GEORGE'S WHIZBANG) was the brainchild of Captain George Henderson, a Toronto fan of old stuff who put out these newsprint fanzines which mostly featured reprints of old strips, articles etc. and a few new tidbits on everything from classic comic characters to pulps, radio, historical figures, you name it, which was a wise move considering that at the time he was doing this (late-sixties and early-seventies) there was a huge nostalgia craze going on for old-timey fun things of the post-WW I/pre-fifties days. Later on the nostalgia boom moved to the fifties and early-sixties which gave us more than our fill of films and nostalgia crank-out, but ya gotta admit that Cap George had the right idea presenting these little bits of memory jogging pieces (as well as "special issues" on the likes of KRAZY KAT) for a world that was sadly seeing its past pride and heritage get overrun by a buncha wild hippies ranting and raving all over the place! This was a pretty good effort, so good that even Dr. Fred Wertham mentioned it in his book on fanzines, or is that a bad thing considering the Doctor's legacy, or is that a bad good or a good bad thing, or...
So howcum by ish 27 the fanzine hadda go into decadent territory? The cover, autographed by onetime SUPERMAN star Kirk Alyn was fitting enough, but the insides... Well, the SPIRIT reprint straight out of an old issue of HELP! (the one where they adapted Ebony White to make him look...well, white) was printed verbatum which I guess is OK for those unfamiliar with the famed comic book legend and his artist, but why would a mag devoted to goodtimey old comics and fun Saturday Afternoon Barbershop Kids living want to devote space to underground comix complete with shining examples by the likes of S. Clay Wilson guaranteed to send the average LAWRENCE WELK SHOW devotee into complete shock??? I mean, even the language used in the piece and the comix presented wouldn't be the kinda thing you'd normally hear in polite company, and I get the feeling even the pool hall crowd woulda shriveled in shame reading it as well! What exactly was going on here??? The article on the influence of comics in pop art, well, I could perhaps see a little worth in that, but donating space to the undergrounds in a fanzine you'd've expected your pushing-sixty batchelor uncle to subscribe to back then reminds me of how they used to sneak really dreary, controversial and downright instant douse stuff into "family-oriented" television shows in the late-seventies. Like, there'd be an episode of REAL PEOPLE, a usually light-hearted and wholesome television romp for the FAMILY CIRCUS crowd with a segment on a child molester which would get into all sorts of disgusting detail, or perhaps some sitcom with an absolutely depressing theme dealing with a major character trying to commit suicide would pop up ruining your Saturday evening. This sorta stuff always bugged me because no matter how you slice it, NOBODY would think of inserting a Kate Smith song in the middle of one of those really didactic documentaries you see on PBS's POV! Other issues are better, but I dunno, maybe Captain George makes his living smuggling cocaine and decided to sample a little bit himself??? Is pot legal in Canada????? Maybe Captain George drank so much Canadian Club he drank Canada Dry?????
Posted by Christopher Stigliano at 11:30 PM
Wednesday, July 28, 2004
POSITIVE KNOWLEDGE-LIVE IN NEW YORK CD (Edgetone, PO Box 2281, El Cerrito CA 94530 or try www.edgetonerecords.com)
Hearkening back to Sidney Harris a few posts ago, I remember another frequent column heading of his that was entitled "Things I Found While Looking For Other Things" or something like that. This was Harris' chance to write little anecdotes about certain factoids he discovered while doing research on a subject partially or totally unrelated, like perhaps he'd come across a little interesting tidbit on Mark Twain while reading a book searching for something on a relatively unrelated subject, say, European monarchs of the tenth-century and he'd jot it down and save enough of these interesting bits and pieces up for a column which I guess sure beat writing out a whole new one. You could say this CD is a result of me finding something totally different while looking for something else, because if it weren't for me trying to tune in Ty Cumbie's City Tunnel #3 on a CBGB's Lounge cybercast I never would've discovered this new (to me) free jazz "collective" that sure knows how to play the avant jazz splatter long after you thought the form fizzled out for good!
Never got the chance to see City Tunnel #3 because the cybercast went flooey that night and I couldn't reconnect (which is way too bad because they promise to be an all-out free jazz avant-guitar destruction which we can sure use more of in these post-Sharrock days), but I did get to see part of this act which really wowed me in the proverbial old time way. They weren't called Positive Knowledge on the CBGB website listing but billed by their own singular names as is wont a lotta the acts playing the Sunday PM CBGB Lounge "avant and freestyle jazz" series, and bassist Wilbur Morris was nowhere to be found, but it was great watching Ijeoma Thomas do her singsongy poetic rants while Oluyemi Thomas (her husband?) was playing bass clarinet as drummer Michael Wimberly did some good sub-Sunny Murray free play. Sometimes Ijeoma would pick up a thumb piano and start tinking along while Oluyemi would grab some shakers making that good ol' "small instrument" rattle the BAG had been recording for three decades already, and you could bet I got a kick outta seeing a trio consisting of nothing but vocals, bass clarinet and drums (with the aforementioned percussion natch!) that didn't send me into total jazz coma. Even though the pic froze on me (as is wont a lotta these cybercasts which seem to focus on the same frame for the entire broadcast!) I still got the much needed impact from what I could make out from this cybercast and needless to say, I spent a few minutes perusing search engines seeking out a recording by this mystery band on the internet the very next day.
Of which this is it, in pure Clara Bow speak. POSITIVE KNOWLEDGE LIVE IN NEW YORK is a sleeper of an unadulterated avant garde free jazz disc (taken from 1999 and 2001 live shows but released 2003) that will bring back memories of great mid/late-seventies loft jazz energies, or at least remind you of what thoughts were goin' through your head back when you'd prowl the record bins and stumble across free jazz albums wonderin' what the sounds within were like. The presence of Morris' bass does, er, glue the thing together but it's still outer-space with Ijeoma talk/sing/screaming in a Jeanne Lee cum Patty Waters way (with a lotta June Tyson tossed in) sometimes repeating phrases/emphasizing her poesy in a way not that dissimilar to Patti Smith, and Oluyemi does pretty well himself on bass clarinet as well as c-melody and soprano saxophones and flute, not exactly reaching high Dolphy standards true but we can't all be that wired. Let's just say that if you were one of those types who used to order recs from The New Music Distribution Service back in the seventies and eighties and liked to take a chance on some "unknown" free jazz elpee because some sideman had made a pretty good name for himself, and although it wasn't exactly an earth-shaking moment like it was when you first heard BLACK BEINGS it was still over-the-top spasmodic Afro/Urban expression...well baby, POSITIVE KNOWLEDGE LIVE IN NEW YORK is like more of the same, and maybe even more so!
If you think I've ever given you a bum steer you can just ferget it!!! (but then again, why would you bother reading this at all???) but if you're more or less tuned into the BLACK TO COMM way of looking at the avant garde jazz idiom (mainly as something to lend a listen to in order to resensify yourself in a world of lethargy) I guarantee you'll at least find this an inspired listen. From Ijeoma's epiglottal spews to Oluyemi's seventies-bred freeplay (plus tunage dedicated to such avant garde heavyweights as Alan Silva and the aforementioned Lee), this does make for a great freesplat that I for one am sure glad nobody at DOWN BEAT or in the establishment jazz press declared dead or just plain passe, eh?
Posted by Christopher Stigliano at 7:30 PM
Monday, July 26, 2004
JUST A REMINDER about leaving comments on my blog...if you want to leave a "general" one feel free to use the "comments" tab that appears on the main blog page. However, if you'd like to leave a comment on a specific blog you can do so by clicking the li'l blue "pound" thingie after the post in quesiton (right before it is written "posted by Christopher") which will take you to a new page with that post and nothing but...at the bottom of that page there will be a "post a comment" tab where you can leave your specific message re. that very same post. I've had a lotta hassles trying to fit the proper post comments on my blog template and this is what I got, so as Goldilocks said, bear with me...
Posted by Christopher Stigliano at 6:38 PM
Sunday, July 25, 2004
7pm - Joe Giardullo & Susan Alcorn (pedal steel marvel from texas)
Dunno who this Giardullo and Alcorn duo are, but I'm listening to them as I'm typing this and am amazed by not only Alcorn's pedal steel mastery (and in the avant garde jazz vein as well!) but Giardullo's tenor sax which borders on Roscoe Mitchell over-the wall-and-running-around-like-a-madman brilliant! Alcorn's pedal steel sounds like an electric piano sometimes and at others like Sun Ra playing his outer-space clavinet cantatas while Guardullo is as free as they come, which sure is a pleasant surprise in a jazz world that still seems to be overtaken by the inferior nada that Chick Corea oozes all over. They did a really mind-enhancing set, and then said there were some CDs for sale! Gotta go seek one out asap! Hope this show was preserved for posterity as well!
Posted by Christopher Stigliano at 8:30 PM
Nagisa Ni Te-ON THE LOVE BEACH and FEEL CDs (Jagjaguwar, 1021 South Walnut, Bloomington IN 47401, or try www.jagjaguwar.com...you could also try Forced Exposure or Eclipse Records if you so desire)
For the next issue of BLACK TO COMM I was/am (too early in the game!) planning an essay on Japanese underground rock...y'know, Japan, a relatively unknown to us place just chock fulla different and unique bands old and new, this article naturally dealing with the proto-punk beginnings (Les Rallizes Denudes and Zuno Keisatsu) up through the years until today, where believe it or not but there actually are a few aggregates out there that appeal to me living and breathing which is something hard to get into one's mind here in the jaded 21st century! Lotsa blank spaces in the piece so far so if anyone has any information personal or otherwise let me know and I'll include it, but as for now lemme tell you that if you want to hear more proto-punk guttural rumblings and can't find any of your Rocket From the Tombs or Kongress tapes just get hold of some bootleg Rallizes Denudes LPs and CRANK IT UP!!!! Don't want to give too much away right now, but lemme say that Japan is the new hotbed of not just early proto-punkial greatness waiting to be revealed but moderne rockism, and the isle's perhaps the LAST great scene to be discovered and mined, at least until the Vietnamese groups of the sixties (and today???) are dug up, and hopefully not literally...
I dunno if Nagisa Ni Te (aka "On The Beach" in Amerigan) will be included in the piece, but I gotta say that as far as today's hot sounds go NNT actually do their national pride pretty good. (And after reading Mike "In Tokyo" Rogers' column on the Lewrockwell.com website I kinda get the sneaking suspicion that Japan has gotta be the hip place to be these days!!!!, at least for the most part [well, they have gun control there, but still...].) They're a duo that handles most all of the vocals and instruments with a few guests here and there, one a guy and one a femme (who sounds about ten years old and sings like a Nipponese Maureen Tucker), and they kind come off like a cross between Canadian closet band the Shangs, Neil Young (hence their name), Harold Budd and Kyu Sakamoto. Almost all of their songs are slow and dolorous which could either make you feel sexy, tired or suicidal depending on your state of mind, but I'm sure that the more adventurous readers of my fanzine and this blog would probably wanna give 'em a check out for a different earbending experience.
Frankly I like Nagisa Ni Te more than I originally did after expecting something akin to a cross between EVERYONE KNOWS THIS IS NOWHERE and THE VELVET UNDERGROUND AND NICO (and yes, I can be fooled even this far down the line!) and then hearing what I thought were pretty subdued musings, but for the real Japanese psycho deal seek out the extremely detailed Denudes bootleg discography easily available through Ebay, or for something more current, the available recordings by Denudes acolytes Up-Tight (there's a nice webpage on them out there in internetland somewhere with downloads and all that plus their exclusive Velvet Underground homage that I wish I could link up for ya, plus their recordings, along with almost all of the old and new underground Japanese scene, are available through Eclipse). For a good overview of the new Far East Beat, try getting hold of THE NIGHT GALLERY sampler on Alchemy (also available through Eclipse) which features Up-Tight along with such new brainbusters as LSD March, Doodles and others who sure do a better take on the early-Velvet Underground sturm und drang with a nice dose of Japanese gulcher than a lotta these new upstarts who wanna be the new Velvets sooooo bad yet they seem to miss by a mile because they lack the essential ingredients to make the whole thing tick. Mainly, energy, inspiration, feeling and the unmitigated fact that if you really wanna be a "success" in the post-Velvets panthenon you DON'T cozy up to SPIN and all those L-7 rags who never did know what was going on in the first place! And with bands like these, who knows...I may be hopping on a jet plane heading straight for the next Doodles show myself!
Posted by Christopher Stigliano at 3:25 PM
Saturday, July 24, 2004
A COLUMNIST'S THOUGHTS AT LARGE and a CD review to round the thing out...
While listening to a CD for reviewing purposes (actually, while listening to it the third time around and refreshing my beanie as to whether or not this thing has any deeply-rooted meaning to myself, yourself or just about any real flesh 'n' blood piece of humanity out there) I thought I'd babble on about a few random things that popped into my head while doing all this rockism deciphering. By the way, in case you're interested I copped the title of the above "heading" from Sidney Harris' column of old. (Actually, "A Columnist's Thoughts At Large" was Harris' weekly-or-so off-the-top ramblings and not the column's actual title...that was "Strictly Personal.") I dunno if you remember the guy, but he was one of these old-timey liberals whose column for some strange reason used to appear on the first page of the second section of the local SHARON HERALD 'stead of the editorial page, roughly from the early-sixties until his death I believe in the late-eighties or so. I remember that he was from England and the early snaps of him posted at the top of the column originally had him looking a lot like Mike Wallace, though as he got older and fatter he kinda started resembling a younger Peter Ustinov. I also recall him getting a lotta older folks all in an uproar...the same people who probably loved him for his Kennedy-era musings were undoubtedly beginning to hate him once the more-freewheeling latter part of the decade was in gear and some progressives were, uh, progressing faster than others. My dad really got all undie-bundled after reading Harris' "Jesus was a hippie" column...seems that Harris (along with Frederic Wertham and a lotta folks who gravitated to the leftward end of the spectrum despite remaining part of the powers that be) tended to look at the shaggier aspects of the "younger generation" as love-brimming pacifists who were maybe a bit too starry-eyed but a whole lot better'n all those ogres spewing the establishment line. Altamont and Manson hadn't happened yet so who can blame these "look for the good in people" pollyannas anyway, but I gotta admit that looking back and seeing over-thirty types who shoulda known better heaping praise on a buncha smelly commune-huddlin' lice-infested neo-commies kinda makes me sick to my stomach! (I remember when I was a kid and first handling just how to read thinking that Harris' column was entitled "A Communist's Thoughts At Large"...I asked my father [who along with my mother is a hard-shell yellow dog Democrat, which I guess is their option] if this in fact is what was printed and he said something along the lines of "You're close to the truth there!") An uncle of mine was once railing against Harris for a pro-gun control column, saying that because the guy was English and they have gun control over there he shouldn't be spreading his foreign philosophy over here, or at least he said something like that. Anyway, I recall Harris as being a sorta paternalistic writer who seemed to pontificate on whatever subject matter he wanted to sorta like a knowitall mid-aged FDR cheerleader telling his son (who was weaned on William Burroughs and S. Clay Wilson) what was best in a particularly understandingly dry way. If he were still alive Harris would probably be writing for COMMONWEAL and all those old-time leftie mags who still cling to the "hip" sixties way while seemingly eschewing the radical elements of what their movement doth wrought yet they don't have the guts to go neocon because they're still stuck in Eugene McCarthyland, if you know what I mean. (An' lemme tell you, I hate neocons!!!!)
Lessee, what else can I discuss while listening on and on to what's turning out to be a pretty good CD...how about tee-vee? And guess what, the Stigliano abode is now connected to a satellite dish which was installed early last year, and as you'd expect my television viewing habits have grown about thricefold since my once strictly UHF days! I mean, before I only had five channels to choose from, and now there's about a few hunnerd or so, and guess what (like you wouldn't expect it!)...I tend to gravitate towards only a few of 'em, such as TV Land which at least has the best of the better-known oft-rerunned classics not to mention the old flick stations like (I hate to admit it but...) Turner Classic Movies as well as Trio when they run such obscuro-classics like JOHNNY STACCATO (hey Trio, how about NAKED CITY???) and believe-it-or-not but MY MOTHER THE CAR!!! Sometimes I tune into the cable news networks just to see what the loony libs are doing on one station or the nattering neocons on Fox (both usually a waste of time...let's face it, cable TV newspeak programs ain't that hot unless Pat Buchanan's on in some capacity!), or maybe one of those history/science/geography stations if they're talking about something that interests me like Stalin, Hitler or those unbelievable Civil War submarines that have been capturing my attention lately. And for a little spirituality I can always tune into EWTN and catch a classic Bishop Sheen sermon which makes all those yammering types you see ALL OVER look positively wilted. Then again I like to tune into BBC America for an old MONTY PYTHON, THE AVENGERS (though once again they play it safe, not airing the entire run which I and probably you have never seen while concentrating on the popular Diana Rigg ones which doesn't give you the full picture you need), and even a relatively new offering like ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS, if only for Bubble. Funnily enough, I only tend to watch the box on an average of ten hours a week now which is still too low for your average BLACK TO COMM couch potato. Maybe if I ruled the world and EVERYBODY was subjected to my tastes...I mean, imagine nothing but SUPERCAR and DEPUTY DAWG running day in and day out! The future of America's...THE WORLD'S children would be improved for the better, dontcha think???
But there's more to life the tee-vee twiddlin' like rock & roll and after the above mewlings I think I better get to the heart of the matter again, which is this CD in question by a group called Red Glance. SWIRLS AWAY (Gulcher) is the name of this newly-released wonder and, not being one to always immediately read the hypesheets or the enclosed CD booklets wanting to let the music speak for itself first, I spun this thinking after a few decidedly twisted-six-oh punk takes later that Red Glance were yet another new bunch of postpostPOST garage practitioners who got their cues from the Cheater Slicks, Mummies and about a hundred old nineties fanzines and started their own take on the like. There were many of these groups cluttering up the landscape back then and frankly I thought that the whole genre had become tiring once the same interesting ideas became done and redone over and over and something about the musicians and their intent began to seem downright phony! It was almost like the little brat kid everyone thinks so cute and precious only you wanna tease the li'l pants-grabber incessantly because his cuteness can just get a little sickening after a few deadly minutes.
But then I decided to read the booklet and guess what? Red Glance were from the early-eighties back when the underground still had some modicum of decency! So you're probably thinking I'm gonna EAT THIS ALL UP now that I can put it into the context of 1982 rather than ten years later when I began getting kinda creepy-feeling about this brand of garage redo. Well, you're RIGHT, because now I can judge Red Glance within the right time frame...how they would have appealed to my 1982 sense of loss with regards to what had happ'd to the "new wave" (an' you know what I mean, like going from Rocket From the Tombs and Patti Smith to Missing Persons!) rather than my '92 GET THIS RACKET OFF THE TURNTABLE!!!!!! reaction to a lotta what underground rock had become because it unfortunately didn't know any better.
If I hadda describe these guys I'd kinda call 'em a cross between the Modern Lovers during their pre-kiddie rock days only without Jerry Harrison's organ and the early Ramones. The singer (Phil Hundley) has a weird yelp that makes Jonny Richman's and Joey Ramone's sound opera in comparison and though it takes a bit getting used to you probably hadda get used to Neil Young's and Tom Verlaine's as well so quit complainin'! Musically Red Glance play the sixties garage thing pretty well, sounding like some 14-year-olds in the knotty-pine basement 1966 knowing that the best they have to emulate is the Seeds because alla big names are just too complicated! Pretty neat if you were born and bred on the NUGGETS breed of rockism that never really caught on with the masses more attuned to well-played symphonies masquerading as "youth culture," but you knew that already.
Funny, if these guys were nineties punks trying to revive past triumph with a moderne decadent approach I woulda tossed this one onto the compost disc heap asap! But given that it's from '82...well, Red Glance were riding the gas fumes from the once-full tank of seventies high-octane American Underground, and that makes a big diff in my book! You may think it's silly but it makes more sense than your soggy brain would ever comprehend...it's sorta like TV kitsch being made in 1959, 1969, 1979 and NOW! In '59 we got tons of wonderful, watchable fun sitcoms like LEAVE IT TO BEAVER and THE ADVENTURES OF OZZIE AND HARRIET...ten years later it was soppier stuff that was still good getting the same treatment...THE BRADY BUNCH and THE PARTRIDGE FAMILY (and NANNY AND THE PROFESSOR for you masochists out there!). Later on, what was there but utter treacle like DIFF'RENT STROKES and SILVER SPOONS which saw the original form watered down by years of everything from general American softie marshmallow living to social worker consciousnesses entering into WHAT WAS ONCE GOOD AND DECENT stifling it all to the point where it was all just more oatmeal. The same thing happened to rock & roll in a way...think about it!!!!
So SWIRLS AWAY and Red Glance get the BLOG TO COMM award for "Best Unknown Recording By Band Trailing At The End of the Seventies Underground" and that's an award that BETTER be mounted proudly on the mantlepiece amidst all the debating team trophies and kiln-baked ashtrays made at camp because it means just about as much as those aforementioned goodies when it comes down to CLASSIC MID-AMERICAN SUBURBAN TRASH LIVING and what we can use a lot more of these days is a lot more trash living and a lot less post-socialist mindzapping entertainment! And you know it's s true.
Posted by Christopher Stigliano at 8:49 PM
Friday, July 23, 2004
VARIOUS ARTISTS-FORT WORTH TEEN SCENE VOLUMES ONE THROUGH THREE (Norton Records, PO Box 646, Cooper Station, NYC 10726, or try www.nortonrecords.com)
Lemme tell you, the 1980s were one of the worst decades that I hadda live through, at least until the '90s and '00s made their way into my pithy life. Face it, everything that was brilliant about the '70s, the wild punky music and general mass madness made life a lot easier for a lotta maladjusted post-embryos like myself who needed the release! (Maybe you can recall the acceptance of generally non-pc concerns even by comedians and writers who you thought would know better...face it, Norman Lear was condoning some pretty non-bleeding heart humor on FERNWOOD TONIGHT [remember such atrocities as "Yankee Doodle Gook" and "Dial-A-Jew" fercryinoutloud???] and how about MONTY PYTHON...think that could ever cut the pc mustard these days??????, and that was none other than Al Franken who was so deftly making fun of feminism and the sick-white-liberal mentality on those SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE skits that were so good even the redneck types laughed!) This freewheeling attitude was expressed in not only in film, television and music but the manic, unbridled crazed fanzines that were doing on a local, low-budget level what the likes of Bangs, Meltzer, Hull onandon could actually get away with in the "professional" scribing scene at least until the screws were put to use...and yeah, it wasn't until the early-eighties when I finally got hold of such handmade wonders as TEENAGE WASTELAND GAZETTE, BACK DOOR MAN, DENIM DELINQUENT and the rest but man, with not only the big names cranking out all that energy but a slewfulla kiddies with their Olivetti Selectrics making their own rock journalistic punkisms known who says there was an energy crisis going on???
Sadly enough it all hadda end in the aforementioned '80s...it was probably Ronald Reagan getting elected that splashed a lotta cold water on these upstarts not to mention the deaths of Lennon and later on Lester Bangs, not forgetting Max's Kansas City closing up shop but whatever, suddenly it wasn't "hip" or "cool" to follow the '70s way of living anymore. Everything was now tired, squeaky-clean and ultimately BORING..sure there still was "underground rock" just like there was in the previous decade, but nobody felt like writing about it anymore. The good movements that came out of that underground like early-hardcore weren't just poo-poo'd, they were thought of as pure, unadulterated evil that needed to be stomped out on ALL levels! As for another sign of life such as the garage revival...well, when the bigname types finally did sit up and take notice long after the form was petering out they did it more or less in the same fashion that those Tooey lookalikes you see all over the place do when they study bugs under some magnifying glass. In retrospect, what were the '80s other than THE REVENGE OF JOHNNY MANN'S STAND UP AND CHEER and frankly, when the only dissident voices out there were coming from the likes of the holed-up Berkeleyites at MAXIMUM ROCKNROLL what could you do???? What was there to cut through the feelygoodisms of the day and get to the meat and bone of high-energy, rock & roll living???
I'll tell you what, there was Billy Miller and Miriam Linna and their fanzine entitled KICKS. Sure there were a few other low-fidelity fanmags out there like Nancy Foster's GROOVE ASSOCIATES and Greg Prevost's OUTASITE that hearkened back to '70s triumphs more or less, but it was KICKS that really laid it down on the line as far as standing for something that STOOD AGAINST all that boring quap that pushed Bruce Springsteen, Michael Jackson and their minions to the forefront while all the high energy and tension in music hadda go snivel over in some corner!
Y'know, at first KICKS didn't quite cozy up to my punkism psyche because I was still in the middle of my commie rat days when I first eyeballed a copy (and they were pretty gung ho on the USA which was a no-no for my Boris Badenov-bred mentality), but soon the thing grew on me to the point where I was actually seeking out rock & roll recordings made before 1964! KICKS had it all from mega-pages (which "influenced" a certain fanzine mogul who was getting his publishing chops in gear not-too-soon after) to the coverage of the bossest rock & roll to be made before it all hadda be "intellectualized" and in the wrong way, and if one thing could be said it's that KICKS was perhaps the ONLY fanzine left with the '70s intensity of BACK DOOR MAN fully intact, lasting well into the early-'90s to boot! And I'm talking about all the "bad taste" stuff that used to have tweedy pipe-smoking bunsnitches yelling "racist, sexist, anti-gay" whenever the tee-vee cameras were pointed their way but y'know, real people knew different. Which was cool for me, not only because Billy and Miriam weren't any of those things but because they were breaking all of the nicey-nice rules of the decade (which have by now grown into a throttling, anti-free speech MONSTER) that seemed to have been laid down by your Aunt Petunia. Y'know, "If you can't say anything nice about anybody don't say anything at all!" Well Aunt Petunia, swivel on THIS!!!!
And like BACK DOOR MAN not to mention BIG STAR, KICKS eventually started up their own record label, and while the fanzine has pretty much gone down the proverbial crapper B&M production's Norton has continued to pump out the prime great rock and roll on LP, singles and now (shudder!) CDs which is great because, frankly these guys started the whole thing and I have the sneaking suspicion that had there been no Billy Miller, Miriam Linna or Norton there would be no Sundazed, and Rhino would probably be spending their time releasing BW Stevenson collections because if anyone gave the garage and rockabilly and surf sounds any real dignity it was KICKS and Norton and not the myriad asst. of slimy shucksters out for the quickie buck and "nostalgia bilking."
Amyway, enough background...let's talk about the three volumes of FORT WORTH TEEN SCENE disques the label has only recently brought forth. Man they're great...just as wild as when you've first heard the "previously reissued" sounds on BOULDERS way back when and the clear sound doesn't even hinder the addled garage feeling! You can now hear the overdub on "Night of the Phantom" by Larry and the Blue Notes a lot better and "The Chocolate Moose Theme" is easier to decipher now than it was when pressed on cow patties twennysome years back. And it's fantab FINE romping though these three disques, because it's just like you're living through 1965 again and although I was way too young to appreciate things back then it makes me wish I was born five/ten years earlier so I coulda been conscious enough to maybe buy a bus ticket to Fort Worth and get in on some of the action myself!
Neat booklets too, with loads of photos and info to keep you busy reading while the music emanates from the speakers into your cosmic bean. And for once you get to see a snap of the (Fort Worth) Jades and find out their drummer's name and what he looks like because...well, there was this story in KICKS on the Fort Worth '60s scene around issue #5 or so (many of the pix from these booklets had originally appeared there) and in that story some incident was related about the time the group hadda take a quickie break because this drum guy...well, I don't wanna make any of you nauseated or embarrass him forty years later, but if you want the sordid details just pick up the issue yourself. In all, it reminds me about the time Bill Shute was dancing in some club and met some gal who...well, let's just say that the olfactory system of Bill's went into deep shock...
Enough bad taste for one review, but for good taste in garage rock pick up all three of these shiny platters! You get it all, from the Jagger and McGuinn wannabes to the usual Ernie Douglas types hoping for better, and a lotta covers and crossovers and things like a version of "Night of the Phantom" by Mark Five where we find out that the Phantom was the singer's cousin all along! Real whacked stuff that proves that '60s punk has a lot more STAYING POWER than such moldy eighties relics as "Frankie Says" ever did!
Posted by Christopher Stigliano at 10:37 PM
Thursday, July 22, 2004
FOURTH TIME'S THE CHARM (I #*$#*$& hope!)
Hi-Lost three prior posts today for the stupidest of all reasons...first one after leaving the post page to find an address to link up, the second one when I somehow highlighted the entire post which thusly obliterated, and the third when I went to "save as draft" and it somehow disappeared entirely! So, for the fourth try I'm gonna do SOMETHING TOTALLY DIFFERENT and change subject matter from mid-period Amon Duul II releases and what I think of 'em now as opposed to when I first heard them in 1976 to this new 2-CD set I just got hold of entitled IT CAME FROM THE GARAGE, and it was issued by Canuckian Sony as well!
You remember NUGGETS of course, but do you remember the other sixties punk compilation to come out about the same time? Actually it was never released, but it was suggested...an' what I'm talking about is the "Glo's Guest Star Punk Rock Top 20" make-your-own C-60 cassette compilation #2 cartoon that was originally published in a 1972 issue of FUSION which was so good that I reprinted it in BLACK TO COMM #19 (page 54 to be exact) in order to illustrate a review of the Mad Peck book which I had just gotten hold of at the time. I dunno if this or NUGGETS came first, but I gotta admit that the Dennis "The Menace" Roth who compiled this thing had a good sense on what punk rock was at least up to that point in time. No "proto-punk" for Roth, for this was the real-deal punk rock history as only a real punk who actually buys the records and lives and breathes 'em could decipher it! Starting with Barrett Strong's "Money" and going up through the Yardbirds, Stones, Troggs, ? and the Mysterians, Shadows of Knight et. al. up through the Velvet Underground and Steppenwolf ending with Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love," this tape seemed to be about as exciting a sampler as NUGGETS was, a real pop-in-the-car-deck wonder custom built not only for driving but for playing THE SOUNDTRACK OF YOUR LIFE which certainly differed from the soundtrack of sixties hasbeens and singer-songwriters sweeties who made up a good portion of bad music 1972. The best thing about this is that it was compiled in that best/worst of times year of '72, long before garage band consciousness hit even a small portion of mid-Amerigan booger-noses out there of whom this music was custom made for, but who sadly eschewed the sounds of being raw and alive for music that was stillborn and lifeless. With all its intensity and energy, Roth's efforts may have seemed like a bloody memorial to all the fun and excitement the sixties offered before the advent of "Sopor Nation," a time when that tombstone with the names of all those sixties acts that appeared on the cover of SHAKIN' STREET GAZETTE seemed the real, sad state of seventies disco-bump hippie culture that seemed to overtake the garage attitude in one fell swoop!
But times had changed...I mean, at the same time Greg Shaw seemed like rock's answer to Chaing predicting the overthrow of Mao with the whole "It's All Coming Back" campaign there were miniscule signs that maybe on some levels it was coming back after all! From the hot AM chart toppers the Sweet to the underground rumblings it did seem like there was something to look forward to, and although the big push never did come to shove and rock just got worser and worser until by the early-eighties it became one big MIMIC, there was a small but vocal minority striving to nurture the big beat, keeping not only the early rock primitivism in the hearts and minds of the few anxious acolytes but hyping and pumping the new bands who were keeping the sound alive until there was a point where...well, garage bands or punks or what-have-you were suddenly given their place at the table which might seem about thirty years too late, but better late'n never especially in this case!
I really like this brand-spanking-new package that Sony Special Products actually put out up in old Canada as well. It's as good as the Mad Peck punk tape, only instead of stopping at 1970 it takes us up to the present which might not quite suit all of the purists out there but then again I never was that pure myself so I don't mind. What I like about this is that it collects that hot old stuff and mixes it in with the new all out of sequence and somehow it even makes more sense, like it's all timeless and stuff from 1959 (like Link Wray's "Rawhide") can mingle with the Mooney Suzuki and you know, it does come off smoothly.
Yeah there is a lotta stuff here that doesn't quite qualify as "garage" even with my open-mind/borders approach to the term, but strangely enough it doesn't make you wanna run for cover like you might have even ten years ago. I mean, I could see the Byrds' "Feel a Whole Lot Better" being slapped on here though maybe a Beefeaters track woulda suited this compilation more, plus I dunno whose idea it was to put Tracey Ullman's gnu wave schmooze amidst the finer rock & roll offerings, but somehow the thing doesn't end up total hodgepodge crud. And another thing, there're no liner notes which makes me wonder if this is because there are no garage critics in Canada or if Sony's cheap. Probably the latter, but there are punk critiquers up there so why they didn't just hire Paul McGarry to do the thing is beyond me because he woulda turned in a soo-perb job. But despite this and that and the cheap generic 1990's closeup-of-guitarist playing wowee power chords cover more suitable for a heavy metal collection (at least a 1966 cheapie cover would have been better suited for an album of mid-sixties mentality music!) I like this for the wacky-yet-together song selection and the all over yet all together programming.
But what is here is fine...everything from Bob Dylan's "Subhome Blues" to the Easybeats, Spirit ("Line On You"...OK, borderline garage I guess) and the VU romping through "Waiting For My Man" and even though the Monkees, Hollies (?) and Donovan (!-at least the Jeff Beck inclusion made sense, but as far as British fops go I woulda preferred Tyrannosaurus Rex's "King of the Rumbling Spires" over "Hurdy Gurdy Man" anyday!) appear for some strange reason I guess it makes about as much sense calling these acts "garage rock" as calling Jethro Tull a heavy metal band. The seventies seem to be better represented despite the aforementioned Ullman gaffe, with the early Detroit brigade (Stooges and MC5) plus the just-pre-burst bands (Dics, Mod Lovers, Dolls...) and the late-seventies UK punquers sounding just as fine here as they did back when you first heard this stuff and flashed back to 1965 yourself! Even a total dork like Elvis Costello fits in well with this mess!!! And as for the "modern" groups that too many critics have told us play in "the tradition"...well, I guess the Mooney Suzuki, Chesterfield Kings and Las are about as modern as they could get here and they're fun enough true, but then again I'm kinda glad that the new generation of world-saving bands like the Vines, Strokes and Yeah Yeah Yeahs didn't get the opportunity to pop up amidst the classics and near-hits. True I haven't even heard any of these aggregates and wouldn't mind lending an ear to 'em one of these decades, but sometimes these compilers just gotta know when to say STOP!!!!!
Hey, it is pretty neat. Not exactly one of these constant spin things like the original NUGGETS was for me way too many lifetimes ago, but I'm glad there's something out there that sorta relates to me in the same duh way it related to me when I was a lot younger and hairier. And yeah, I'm also glad that there's a compilation, and a world out there where Paul Revere and the Raiders, the Vibrators and Mooney Suzuki could roam together, because really, didn't Greg Shaw just tell us the exact same thing was very possible well over thirty years back???
Posted by Christopher Stigliano at 6:10 PM
Saturday, July 17, 2004
DICK TRACY CARTOONS (UPA 1961)
I just got a DVD (obviously taken from some VCR tapes) of a bunch of these cartoons that older BLACK TO COMM readers will remember from hours of early-sixties tee-vee viewing (this was back when TV was so hot that it was worth it to spend all your non-homework time plopped in front of the set watching all those great shows that were eventually abolished by the same innerlectual Werthams out there who want you to watch the vapid REAL trash that's been all over the airwaves ever since the hippie generation got in charge, but I don't want to get off on a tangent or anything like that!) and (that is, if you can still pick up the trail of what I was saying two-hundred words back) I find them pretty exhilarating myself. Cranked out by the same UPA studios that had entered into the TV animation fray with the once-successful MR. MAGOO series, Chet Gould's famous exercise in ultra-violence is played strictly for single-digits laffs as the cheaply-animated Tracy dispaches underlings Go-Go Gomez (Mexican bandito), Joe Jitsu (Japanese derbied martial arts expert...it always cracks me up when Joe uses his karate on some attacking evildoer saying "So sorry!" and "Excuse me!" while bashing their lights out!), Heap O'Calorie (Andy Devine) and Hemlock Holmes (British bulldog with Cary Grant mannerisms) to do battle with familiar Tracy villians who were long ago sent off to the afterlife in the actual strip. I haven't read many books or articles on television animation, but I would guess that "serious" critiques would put these cartoons down not only for their cheapness but their racism. Frankly, it's their cheapness that makes them very watchable (you know the schpiel by heart...the one about how the Kingsmen with their low-fidelity style tops the over-produced and chop-saturated bigtime bloated recording artists on all counts!) and as for their racism...well, maybe I should put that word in parentheses because I don't find 'em "racist" as much as they are humorous caricatures done with not a spec of hatred in sight. Now, I gotta say that I found the Go Go Gomez character (voiced by Paul Frees) not quite up to par and unsympathetico, but I really like Joe Jitsu (voiced by Benny Rubin, who must've played just about every ethnic character in his long career) who's not only more personable but gosh-it-all downright loveable. Too bad a number of modern-day "uplifter" types didn't feel the way I do, because in some markets that ran these Tracy cartoons during the big DICK TRACY feature push of 1990 the Jitsu and Gomez episodes were edited from these packages, making the series run extremely short in such above-it-all places like New York City. Too bad, though it's a good thing it's perfectly fine to "make fun" of English people and hicks or else the entire series would have had to be 86'd, but I hate to see these great old programs and movies get branded as ancient hate-crime relics which never really did cut it other than as modern day white-guilt nicey-nice! I mean, if you want to see REAL racism (no parentheses!) these days just look at the condescending way white politicians of varying stripes pander for the big ol' votes...now, that's racism in the raw!
Y'know, somewhere in character limbo I envision Jitsu and Gomez along with the Kingfish in some jail cell demanding justice! Doubt they'll ever get it which is too bad because not only are these TRACY cartoons great entertainment for the single-set and ennui-laden oldsters like me, but ya gotta admit that both Jitsu and Gomez are POSITIVE ROLE MODELS and do a lot more for "their people" than all of the Japanese and Mexican variations on Al Sharpton out there who seem to get the TV camera and microphone time while the people they supposedly "speak for" shrivel in embarrassment!
You might also want to check out the DICK TRACY cartoons that appeared on ARCHIE'S TV FUNNIES in the early-seventies which were fine in their own Filmation way but probably still got the sticklers all up in arms!
STONE AGE WOO, THE ZORCH SOUNDS OF NERVOUS NORVUS CD (Norton, PO Box 646, Cooper Station, NYC 10276 USA or try www.nortonrecords.com)
Wanted to hear this guy (who I had pegged as mid-fifties Texas rockabilly) for quite a long time, or at least since I first read Byron Coley's review of an EP reissue from the early-eighties. Now that I've heard him, I can say that Nervous wasn't exactly rockabilly but more of what way too many musical snobs fanzine and otherwise used to call "an inspired primitive" which more or less reflects the critquer's own lofty snob standards (y'know, upper-class phony intellectuals try to osmose with the hoi polloi) which usually misses the mark by a mile. As for me, it kinda reminds me not only of something that my mother woulda put on the little portable player next to the bed to ease me through nap time when I was in my pre-school days but the stuff I would hear on Bus Eubanks's Sunday Afternoon "Memories" radio show in the early-seventies (where he played 20s/30s vocal and country tunes right before he went into his Big Band "A Time For Reminiscing" program which Dad had me listening to in order to keep me away from that evil rock & roll!) which I actually enjoyed at least until I realized that I was once again being manipulated, which always takes the fun outta things. Still it's pretty fine fifties inspiration, and I'm sure that if I played a bit of it for Dad even he'd get a big kick as well!
Posted by Christopher Stigliano at 9:10 PM
Sunday, July 11, 2004
Trio Tarana-Live CBGB Lounge 7/11/04
Interesting multigulcheral bunch (Ravish Momim, Jason Hwang, Shanir Blumenkrantz) playing avant garde jazz with violin, oud/bass and drums. One member (probably percussionist Momin) made some political remarks about Afghanistan that were hard to hear between songs, sounding like an angst-filled foreigner behind the deli which maybe only added to the charm of it all. Sounded like the Third Ear Band trying to play punk rock at times, though had enough of a twist to qualify more as jazz than as world music. Hopefully something recorded will survive long enough to be released, but I doubt it.
Posted by Christopher Stigliano at 8:26 PM
I don't mind sounding like a luddite one bit when I repeatedly lament the slow and lingering death of the vinyl record. For me, the record in all of its variations and incarnations (not only with the surprise packaging gatefold or otherwise but even colored vinyl and picture discs) represents the high-point of the musical artifact as being actual art, and I do mean art as something that affected you on a gut, perhaps intellectual on some levels work of beauty at a time and place when things like going to the record shop and browsing through all of those albums with the wild covers you didn't think you would ever own was part and parcel of any young turdball of a pathetic human being's rite of passage from ineffectual pre-pubescent slob to full-grown throbbing wad of angst and acne. Compact Discs may be "cool" if only to bring more of the music you've wanted to hear for years on end to your ears, but next to LPs and singles...forget it!!! I can't shop for CD's the way I could with vinyl, and after looking back at the GOLDEN AGE OF RECORD BINS when rock-as-art truly transcended just being mere product I KNOW that a huge big chomping part of me and my heritage has been thrown down the chute when the vinyl supply was replaced by CDs! And call me a sentimental ol' wimp but yeah, it does give me a big hulking LUMP in my throat when I think of all those great hours of searching through tons of vinyl looking for long-ignored obscurities and interesting import variations being nothing but memories of days which were more of a "best/worst of times" scenario than anything Chaz Dickens could come up with! Sniff blubber!!! (Excuse the extreme wordiness of this paragraph, but I do get overwhelmed at times!)
Anyway, this here's a report of my July 11th BLOG TO COMM listening party which features a number of bona-fide vinyl platters rescued from ebay auctions, Tim Ellison and even a flea market which I know that hardly anybody outside the three people who actually read this blog would want to care about but hey, maybe you can find a shard of something worthy in this batch of platters that just might light a candle in that fogged bean of yours. I should tell you that this is only a selection of vinylaties I've gotten hold of since the beginning of the year or so...some will be reviewed in the upcoming BLACK TO COMM whenever that may be, some (like the Harvest Heritage twofer of the first couple Kevin Ayers albums) were passed on because I reviewed CD variations on this blog relatively recently, while even more that I planned on spinning today (like the Lisa Burns album on MCA) will have to wait until I can find 'em! But for now settle back, kick up your pods and prepare to be bored out of your mind even more...
John Lennon and the Plastic Ono Band-"Make Love to the End" one-sided flexi (bootleg)
This track remained a mystery for ages. I first read about the session from which I'm positive this track was taken from in one of those John Lennon memorial magazines that came out in the wake of his death, where a John Peel BBC recording featuring John, Yoko and some hairy primates who weren't either of 'em were let loose in the studios making a wild racket that seemed part and parcel to the avant garde noise the two were making at the time! Sounded like the ultimate Plastic Ono Band getdown meets THE HATHAWAYS to me, and for years I pondered just how these recordings might've come off thinking up all sorta strange tangents like I usually do; y'know, John and Yoko panting like wild beasts while the monkeys were creating feedback and banging on all sorts of items making a new music akin to the Godz in the middle of an anxiety attack! By the late-eighties or so, this flexi (sleeve mentioning Ringo Starr and Mal Evans but no chimpanzees as session mates!) popped up and naturally the track made it onto at least one Lennon CD boot, but as soon as it was released various "Beatle" experts were going on record calling it a fake! All of which added to the mystery even more...and you could bet that this thing was kinda high on the list as far as sonic obscurities I needed to hear, although after a time (even after I had bid on and won this thing via eBay) I wasn't exactly rushing to the turntable to get an earfull! Even I am shocked at my recent jadedness which is a 180-degree turnaround from my past obsessive/compulsive rockism...I really should do something about it!
So what this flexi entails is a fairly good-sounding recording featuring John laying down some acoustic guitar riff not that different from the folkie stuff he was doing at the bed-ins whilst singing one of those hootenanny singy-songy things prominently featuring the title, Yoko singing and hooting along as a piano is pounded seemingly along with the music, but it does get rather atonal as the song proceeds. Could this be Son of Cheta tinkling the ivories (amongst other things???) or perhaps Mal or Ringo, who might have the mental abilities to create such avant gardities??? Midway through, John and Yoko take time out to do their smoochy romance thing as the song re-starts with John strumming/singing, and Yoko seemingly panting and yammering about with some others who may be more of the sessioning simians for all we know! A strange one I'd stick on a bootleg of John and Yoko experimental hoo-hahs with some unreleased takes of "What's Your New Mary Jane" were I to do one. As for the naysayers. if that ain't John and Yoko in there then it's a pretty good impersonation of 'em, and maybe someone oughta give 'em credit for doing it in a totally believable way!
THE EDGAR BROUGHTON BAND-A BUNCH OF 45s LP (Harvest England)
One of the planned essays I have in store for the next BTC is a thingie on the Harvest label, the division of EMI/Capitol that's probably best known for its "progressive" image thanks to their #1 labelmates Pink Floyd, but there was a lot more to them than a varied assortment of obtuse synth-rock and later on such inanities as the Little River Band (whom I expressed interest in at the time solely because they were on Harvest and I thought they might have had that Harvest osmosis or something!!!). Naturally I was going to go into all that rot in the piece but I dunno...I mean, I'm not that sure there will even be a new issue, at least not in this modern rockism stratum of ours. But that's another story, and until I can get enough ideas, pix, stories, reviews and gumption to slap another of these things together maybe I'll just dole out to you three eager readers some tasty tidbits of what might be in store the next time you hop on over to the local shop to pick up your fresh copy, along with some denture cream and Geritol of course! (Believe me, it probably will take that long!!!)
Anyhoo, in the mid-seventies the Harvest label issued a whole slew of LPs on their classy budget Harvest Heritage imprint. Many of these were collections of a and b side non-LP tracks along with hits of varying stripes, some were reissues of early, by-then o.p. albums (like the first two EMI-era Pretty Things offerings), and a lot of these new releases weren't actually Harvest product but other EMI worthies that someone there thought would benefit from the Harvest association, like the Tomorrow album which now boasted an arty deco-y color cover similar to Harvest Heritage's repackaging of the first two Kevin Ayers discs, complete with Yes-ter Steve Howe's name in big bold letters in order to dupe pill-addled kids into thinking this was another progressive electronic-fest, I guess.
Fortunately the Edgar Broughton Band got the Harvest royal treatment with this neat-o collection of LP highlights and b-side treasures. Broughton and co. were perhaps the better of the early Harvest roster, the only thing there that really could lay claim to a late-sixties punk ethos akin to what the Deviants, Killing Floor and Stackwaddy were doing elsewhere which should be a surprise especially from a label that seemed to steer clear of primitivism and non-progressive concerns. True not all of their songs were exactly top-notch and could at times be downright folksy/woodsy, but they sure cut a nice path when they were doing everything from mixing Captain Beefheart and "Apache" and sounding like some 1962 British garage band suddenly transported ten years into the future benefitting from the weird gulcher shock. This LP captures the best, from their street rock-y snot rants which remind me of the Fugs without the Marxy intellect to the aforementioned halfway-there folkisms as well as the outright blast, like LP closer "Out Demons Out" where they take the Fugs' protest and turn it into a bonfide metallic rave that, like a lotta the krautrock and avant-progressions of the day, both the aerie art-rock types and proto-punkers of the time would have laid claim to as "their own." And something tells me that there might have been a lotta overlapping going on back then between the two camps, if you know what I mean!!!
(An interesting inside note, BLACK TO COMM CD cover boy and wrestling editor Imants Krumins tells me that he actually attended the same school as Broughton, and at the same time as well! It was 1964 and Krumins was a rosy-cheeked 12-year-old entering the hallowed halls of learning while Broughton was a bloodshot and not-so-sweet-16 getting tossed out on his heels for smoking, long hair and bad attitude. Which only goes to show you kids...just grow your hair long, smoke and have a bad attitude and YOU TOO could end up a SUCCESS like Broughton and not the downright professional nine-to-fiver Krumins turned out to be! Just kidding, Imants!)
THE WORLD OF DAVID BOWIE LP (Decca England)
Back when David Bowie was making it big with confused teenage boys who didn't know whether or not they "were," (but not with ME...in fact, in my circle we used to refer to the "man" as "David Blowme" which only goes to show you the ramptant pro-hetero feelings I exuded even then!) Bowie's old label was reissuing his wares in an attempt to make up for old losses which seemed natural for a lotta seventies successes back then. I remember the US version of these recordings which I believe came out in a two-LP set on either Deram or London...it had this garish pop-arty wraparound which looked as if the label had hired that guy who did the feh cover of THE MAN WHO SOLD THE WORLD (the one on Mercury you saw in cutout bins for ages) to illustrate the songs appearing on it kinda like on CHEAP THRILLS or a lotta those William Stout bootleg covers. There was this time my father took my sister and I to this Saturday morning sale at the Westinghouse plant where he worked, and amidst the display of cheapo Westinghouse radios and kitchen appliances that hardly lasted a year being sold at cheap prices that were still too high considering their quality was a table where some cutout records were on sale, the London reissue of pre-fame Bowie amongst them. I recall eyeballing and seriously considering buying it since the price was affordable for a kid of my stature and hey, I wanted to have records like all the "grownup" kids, but despite some inter-mind debate the platters remained in the bin...after all, the guy behind the table sellin' these wares looked like Archie Bunker and was giving me some angry and upset look as if I was contributing to the decline and downfall of the world as we know it (and maybe I was come to think of it!), and I did get the ol' creeps with ol' Archie leering like that so I put the thing down ne'er to hear the music within its grooves...
...until now, that is. This is the Decca import budget take on the same material minus a disc-worth I guess, and it was pretty easy-to-find at the time even appearing (along with Deep Purple's UK greatest hits collection and a variety of inexpensive overseas Stones collections like ROCK & ROLLING STONES) in department store record bins which usually stuck to the domestic product. Nice cover too, combining a Ziggy-period cover snap with budget consciousness (song titles on front, pix and listing of others in "The World Of..." series on the back) which charms the cockles of my heart reminding me of the true cheapness of rock & roll so rare these days. Unfortunately the music doesn't really thrill me, coming off more like a late-sixties harpsichord/orchestra rock-y thing with no real style or smash and a general blandness that makes the entire proceedings instantly forgettable. Only the "Hey Joe"-hooked "She's Got Medals" works, only because of the "Hey Joe" hooks mind you. And people talk about David Bowie "rescuing" Lou Reed's career...wasn't it the other way around, since Bowie's best moments were more or less Velvet Underground riffage filtered through his chameleon persona to varying effects!
THE PALEY BROTHERS & RAMONES-"Come On Let's Go"/"Magic Power" 45 (Sire)
Never did get around to buying the Paley Brothers album, but the 45s I got at least whet a bitta the ol' appetite. A-side features the Brother meeting Da Brudders (neat, eh???) on a Ritchie Valens classic that suits both camps fine, while flip's more of a seventies pop thing (w/o any Ramones involvement) that sounds like the better part of the AM-pop equation that used to get the folks at THE ROCK MARKETPLACE all hot 'n bothered along with Michael Brown and Sparks (it was produced by Earle Mankey). It doesn't exactly have me jumping up and down but I like it more than I like some of the wimpier takes on AM pop that were going on back then (y'know, songs about having sex in customized vans) which made a lotta unworthies rich while the Paleys hadda shake down bums for cab fare home!
LESTER BOWIE-Fast Last! LP (Muse)
Lester (no relation to David) Bowie's playing a lot looser on this '74 outing featuring a lotta the St. Louis BAG guys like Julius Hemphill, this at times even going more into a Human Arts Ensemble direction at least while they were doing their tributes to early-seventies Miles. It's interesting to note that "Lonely Woman" starts off almost exactly like the opening notes of Hemphill's REFLECTIONS album recorded a few years earlier. And if you've wanted to hear an avant take of "Hello Dolly," well, I don't think Louie Armstrong would approve but you might! While not always the all-out intense ball-of-nerves that the Art Ensemble of Chicago could be, it does manage to please with its variety. Best track by far, LP closer "F Troop Rides Again" which maybe shoulda been called "O'Rourke and Agarn Get Tortured by the Indians" or something like that. This features Bowie on trumpet while Philip Wilson, Jerome Cooper and Charles Bobo Shaw bang away on drums not quite creating a wall-of-racket akin to fellow Art Ensembler Roscoe Mitchell screeching with Cooper and Don Moye on the final side of WILDFLOWERS but it's nerveracking itself!
THE BLUES PROJECT-Live at the Cafe Au Go Go" LP (Verve-Forecast)
Never did cozy up to the idea of the Blues Project being actual sixties garage band PUNKS like I'm sure some of you figured they were...true, their "No Time Like the Right Time" track on NUGGETS, although good enough in a mid-sixties and just about EVERYTHING is top notch anyway fashion, still sounded like it was being played by folkies and jazz guys trying to get in on the rock & roll game. And okay, there really wasn't anything wrong with that at least until the artistic pretentions got the best of these musicians, but it still wasn't like the unmitigated joy I could get listening to Sky Saxon or Gerry Roslie belt their way through some deceptively simple two chord rockers sounding more like the kinda guys I wanted to be 'n not some uppercrust snobs, which is kinda the way I had the Blues Project figured. I mean, look at their credentials...Blood Sweat and Tears...JUDY COLLINS fercryinoutloud...it certainly wasn't like those punks who either continued on as punks throughout the seventies and eighties up until today mind you or at least ended up losing their minds enough that you could forgive the hippie excesses despite some still hot punk wailings from the likes of Sky and Roky!
So maybe I did have some trepedation over playing this one, a fifty-cent mint find obtained at a downtown Oil City flea market of all places! Anyway, any fear I might have harbored over this one soon disappeared after plunking down the needle and hearing the fine live sounds emanating from my cheapo speakers. Yeah it's "nicely performed" and it doesn't have the bared-wire intensity of the Hawks' still-garage-at-this-point playing on Bob Dylan's ROYAL ALBERT HALL boot, but at least the Spirit of '66, the idea that rock & roll can develop and evolve sans all the higher-minded, noble (hah!) aspects of "youth culture" still seemed to be in charge. Only the late-sixties punks knew enough of course, but in the mid-sixties the concepts of facial hair and Nehru Jackets and Philiosophy 101 hadn't quite had their grip on slot-car, Saturday Afternoon Barbershop Kids yet, and neither did the intellectual rockers get that discombobulated as well!
Of course it ain't a Sonics album...lead singer Tommy Flanders sounds like he's torn between wanting to be Jim Morrison or Steve Alaimo, and Jim Morrison wasn't even big then! The music seems too well-rehearsed and sans any fly specks or grit that made mid-sixties rock so engaging. Still, I can enjoy this if I get my mind into a 1966 groove, and sure it ain't as top echelon 1966 as a 1966-kinda guy like Greg Prevost would want it but it's a lot more palatable than things were going to get in a few years time. Squint your ears and the Blues Project can sound half-decent on "Back Door Man" and even on such folk-rock covers as "Catch the Wind" and "Violets of Dawn" which yeah, sounded a lot better when played by then-contemporary San Francisco bands but hey, they can't all be the Beau Brummels! Worth the fifty pennies you'll hafta plunk down at the flea market of your choice!
THE ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA-Showdown LP (Harvest England)
OK, no more Harvest discs after this one! (And I had a few planned too, really!) But as for the band, er, orchestra in question...believe me, most people think of ELO as being some bland and soppy mid-to-late-seventies pop act awash in strings, and while that may be the case some of the time and especially during their reign on the top 40 charts, at least during their early days (when Roy Wood fortunately kept Jeff Lynne from overdoing his Beatles-fixation) they had some spark of early-seventies progressive RESTRAINT that made their Harvest-period as true to the label's smart-pop credo (at least some of the time) as Kevin Ayers and fine enough that people along the lines of Greg Shaw, Alan Betrock and Crescenzo Capece were praising ELO to the proverbial rafters. Some of this is a good, practical application of rock with intellectual moves a la the Harvest-era Move numbers from whence the Orchestra sprang...in fact, I thought part of "From the Sun to the World (Boogie No. 1)" sounded like the spoken interlude from Roxy Music's "The Bob (Medley)" while "Queen of the Hours" reminds me of what 1967 non-
CAN-Soon Over Babaluma LP (United Artists England)
Naw I ain't hearing this one for the first time...I've had SOON OVER BABALUMA for well over a decade but since it was on the pile I decided to give it a try and...hey, why not write about the thing since I don't think I ever did before, right? Oddly enough this is the first Can LP I can remember seeing in the import section of my fave record shop, along with such other Can offerings as MONSTER MOVIE, LIMITED EDITION (the one with the white mice crawling in and out of a doll house), and that one with yet another white mouse crawling on a Campbell soup can. Getting that bit of useless autobiographical jive outta my way all I gotta say is that this is Can at perhaps the end of their greatness right before they started getting into reggae and near-disco which might have suited the early-eighties UK dance rock crowd that came out of the new wave just ducky but did very little for me!
At least at this point Can were still riding the crest of their early-seventies accomplishments with a sound and vision that sounded "cool" despite the moves into more progressive territory (like many on the United Artists rosters from Amon Duul II and Hawkwind to Neu!, it seemed as if Can still paid homage to their sixties garage roots even this far down the line). Jazzier moments recall the sound of early-seventies Miles when he was devoting more time to his organ shreds (can you think of a better way to describe his playing?) which the late Robert Quine had repeatedly compared to the same avant-breaking stratum that the Velvets and Stooges had delved into only a few short years prior. I'm not sure what a lot of the Can fanatics or otherwise hanger on types may think, whether Can "lost it" when Malcolm Mooney left, when Damo Suzuki left, when Holger Czukay moved over to radios and gadgets or whatever, but for me it was this period of Can that did the last truly innovative, psyche-grabbing music that they could ever muster up. Listening to them years later only makes me wish I had the moolah (and smarts) to pick this and their other import goodies up at the time when they could have made a super impression on me (age fifteen!) rather'n a few years later when at first I didn't "get it" then fell like a ton of bricks! And one more thing...I gotta admit that I like Michael Karoli's violin playing a lot, though shouldn't that duty have been relegated to Irmin Schmidt? After all, he was the John Cale of the group!
Posted by Christopher Stigliano at 10:36 AM