Sunday, February 27, 2005


As I've said before, while another blog out there in "notice me!" land thinks it's all fine and dandy to give you top five lists for the day/week/year/whatever, me here at BLOG TO COMM goes the extra mile to give you MORE than just a "high five," mainly a "HIGH SIX" of my top fave raves for whatever span of time I so deem desirable. Of course, you (skeptics) may think the whole kitten-kaboodle middle-class suburban faveraves fall short of the "Real Life Top Ten" that enlightened industry/socio-political wonks like Greil Marcuse and Archie Smith used to give up in the pages of THE VILLAGE VOICE back in the eighties (and perhaps later...I wouldn't know, or care), but look at it this way, since when has anything the VOICE written about or championed outside a few fine music reviews have anything to do with "real life" anyway???

1) A WHOLE BATCH OF CD-Rs sent to me by Dee Pop

You may remember Dee Pop as the fellow who used to man the drum chair in the Bush Tetras back in 1980 or so, but since then he's been involved in a whole slew of musical activities, the best known by far being not only as the drummer/percussionist for a variety of free jazz/improv groupings but as the "curator" of the Sunday nights (and starting in April, Wednesday nights) "freestyle" avant garde jazz series at the CBGB Lounge. I tune into their cybercasts as often as I can and brave the technical glitches (brought on by my having to use a phone line 'stead of a cable setup) in order to see these shows live and as they happen, and maybe if you still have a shard of old-time juvenile wild-eyed love for this sorta still-going-strong chicanery maybe you should too, since this gig seems to be the only really exciting thing happening on the New York Underground as we speak, not counting perhaps one of the old-time sixties/seventies hangers-on making a rare appearance at either of the CBGB-related clubs hovering on the Bowery.

Anyway, as to the CD-Rs...only played a few of 'em so far, but what I have played is rather impressive. The "Unified Theory of Sound" CD-R was guffed up so it doesn't play as smoothly as one would like, but this set-up with jazz scenesters Jameel Moondoc, Matt LaVelle (also of the fine Morcilla) and Wilbur Morris amongst others reminds me of the late-seventies Loft Jazz coming outta Sam Rivers' digs only evolved another twenty years. The sampler CDs also gave a good overview of what's going on these days in improv land...naturally Pop hadda slip a Bush Tetras track on but I can forgive him for the free plugging, but the rest ranges from "eh, it's OK" (Beat Circus) to pretty inspiring. Highlights include Susan Alcorn's moody steel playing, Borah Bergman and Dee Pop's avant-impressionistic "Round Midnight" (w/Bergman on piano, and I thought he was a trombonist!) Dom Minasi (a sixty-plus avant guitarist who has remained rather under-the-covers all these years, and who will be playing the CBGB Lounge with his trio tonight...hopefully a review will be posted tomorrow!) with his string-laden DDT + 2 reminding me of...the Dixie Dregs (?!?!?!), and more things that'll pop into my mind as soon as I give these disques a few more spins. (Like Gary Lucas' solo take of "Bra Joe From Kilimanjaro" followed by Abdullah Ibrahim's take of the same number, and even Noistet, who're playing next week, did a couple good avant jazz cool things as well!)

The Hanuman Sextet CD-R rec'd at the Lounge last 12/19 was also fine, a good compliment to their release on Rent Control which was one of last year's highlights, at least if you ask me. And oh yeah, Jessica Jones was entertaining enough, but there's nothing special on her disc to zone me to a higher elevation or anything like that. And as for the rest...well, I will be getting to it sooner or later, but gee, I dunno if I'm just that anxious to listen to a CD with a cover pic of a mouse with an abnormal growth on its back (Sound on Survival)! I mean, didn't we get enough of that demented gross-out "aht" back in the eighties via the post-Throbbing Gristle crowd, not to mention the Swans???

2) Tertiary Trio-TITLE GOES HERE CD-R (Rent Control)

Not too sure if this one should be on my "HIGH SIX!" since I do have some qualms about it, mainly how it seems more "improv" and less free jazz and doesn't quite gel the way other guitar/sax/drums outfits like Storm or John Abercrombie's Jackalope do, but I find these Rent Control releases satisfactory despite the cyborg coolness which didn't mar other Rent Control offerings like Idiophonic, but seems to dampen things here. Still, I played this one about five times since arrival last Monday so maybe I do find it engaging on some level I'll probably comprehend in twenty year's time. Group features Andy Haas (Hanuman Sextet) on saxophone, Don Fiorino on guitar, and Paul Corio on drums.


While TV Land plays it safe (as usual) and constantly reruns the latter, tamer episodes of this long-lived (19 years!) western, other cable nets (boooo!) run the better-executed 'uns from the program's earlier and infinitely superior years. The Hallmark Network had been airing the earliest half-hour version that was later broadcast under the name of MARSHAL DILLON on Saturday afternoons but they moved those to 6:30 in the morning, and I don't get up that early unless I'm going to be shot at sunrise! Too bad, because the very early GUNSMOKEs are the best, especially with the Sam Peckinpaugh-penned sagas which still seem to stir something feral inside of you. However, the premium Western Channel has the still-cool early-sixties shows on Saturday and Sunday afternoons (directly opposite TV Land's running of the newer, color/colorless ones), and whenever the satellite people feel generous enough to give us a free weekend every few months or so you can bet I'm tuning in to see what Matt and Chester are up to. Like most early-sixties television, there's a fine, mystical quality to these shows which on one hand were trying to be artistic and pleasing to the high-brow yet on the other still realized that they weren't meant to be snobbish since they were being aimed at guys in undershirts with cans of beer in their sweaty palms. A delicate balance, but tee-vee knew how to pull it off at the time despite what Newton Minow thought. The one about the arrogant businessman who ignores the pleas of a nice, middle-aged couple in a sandstorm (his thoughtlessness ultimately resulting in the woman's miscarriage), later on swindling and eventually murdering the husband, had a strange, dream-like effect that one would have seen on THE TWILIGHT ZONE at the same time. Speaking of GUNSMOKE, are any of you readers familiar with the English comic strip based on the program called "Gun Law"? I'd like to get an anthology of those strips, especially since the ones I've seen come off as if Peckinpaugh had directed the show in the seventies complete with the raw violence and nudity he put into such flicks as THE WILD BUNCH and BRING ME THE HEAD OF ALFREDO GARCIA (a film which Dr. Fredric Wertham saw and actually counted the murders!). Any help would be appreciated, but totally unexpected.


Just taking a trip back through bootleg history thinking about how cool record buying was at one time before disco, STAR WARS, CDs and generally light musicianship kinda tore a big chunk outta my life! When yer sixteen, taking a gander at them xerox-insert covered wonders in the outta-the-way record shop bin going for a relatively affordable $4.99 a pop (an extra buck for the deluxe covered ones) was just another big part of GROWING UP along with looking at the import and cutout sections, and honest-to-goodness I can't see how the kidz of today can stand living in a world not only without great afternoon rerun tee-vee to rush homework over to but sans all the good, healthy stuff that made a man outta me like record shops and junk food (without the guilt of hearing day in and day out about just how bad it is for you). I still recall the instant surprise I got finding the Frank Zappa/Captain Beefheart CONFIDENTIAL boot at the White Wing Records shop in Hermitage, snapping it up immediately upon eyeballing. I consider this one of the smarter things I've done in my life, and so should you too.

5) COMSTOCK LODE #8 (fanzine)

Since there aren't that many good new fanzines coming up over the horizon these days, I have to settle on getting some old ones and here's one I've missed out on back when it originally was being published. I've heard about COMSTOCK LODE before since it had quite a reputation about it, and in fact still have this Red Crayola songbook which reprints a very in-depth Mayo Thompson interview that originally appeared in COMSTOCK LODE's pages. I probably would have bought it at the time, but let's just say that distribution was pretty sparse, sorta like another fanzine I know! Anyway, as you'd gander COMSTOCK LODE was a publication of odd-to-Amerigans dimensions...about thirteen-inches high and eight-and-a-half wide and in many ways it resembled a lotta the other English fanzines not only of then but now such as BUCKETFULL OF BRAINS and PTOLEMAIC TERRASCOPE. Contents seem to straddle both BRAINS' punky concerns and TERRASCOPE's psychedelic leanings, with #8 featuring not only a brief, typically skewered interview with Roky Erickson but very informative pieces on Peter Stampfel and Robert Wyatt. Plus, the Bridget St. John article reminded me that I still have to listen to the CD-R of her Jon Behar burned for me! A pretty enlightening fanzine, and certainly one that shouldn't have left the boards as quickly as it did.


People think that because I'm a wop-a-dago I automatically like Eyetalian food. Wrong again, sweetie. Actually, I can take or leave the stuff being force-fed that swill ever since I was a li'l toddler, but on occasion I do get a hankerin' for some macaroni or ravioli (which I never had as a kid since it wasn't around inna part of Italy where my ancestors came from!) amidst my cravings for Chinese and Mexican food. Anyway, there's this new pizza place that opened nearby called Vocelli's and although their prices are pretty high (though I've seen much higher!) they do have some good things to eat for sale such as their sandwiches and especially the red-sauce variety o' pie ain't anything that special, but I really go for their spinach/garlic "specialty" pizza with not only less-than-generous hunks of the green leafy stuff (they should use about twice as much!), but mushrooms, onions, tomato slices and smegma-like blobs of feta cheese (!) amidst the mozzarella and a white garlic sauce! And it's all really good-tasting on their better-than-usual chewy crust, but the real reason I like this one is because it reminds me of the Ripp's Special sandwich one can find at Tommy's restaurant in Coventry/Cleveland Heights. Although it had a boho-hippie image for quite some time, Tommy's (located between the two record shops I wrote about in this earlier posting) is (presumably, haven't eaten there in quite some time despite having the chance last November) a pretty decent place to chow down if you want some Spinach pie, falafel, carob shakes and of course the aforementioned Ripp's, which has cheese, tomatoes, lettuce, sunflower seeds, onions and other goodies I can't remember between pita. And yeah, you may think this is purely sissyfood hippychow unfit for your not-so-acquired tastes, but Crocus Behemoth didn't. In fact, when Jim Jarmusch (!) interviewed Crocus for THE NEW YORK ROCKER during Yuletide 1976 part of that interview took place in none other than Tommy's! I still wonder what the man called Behemoth ordered that day, and I'm afraid this bit of pertinent information is forever lost to history.


Anonymous said...

Chris! Bugger! I coulda asked Crocus what he ated that nite when I wuz talking RFTT with him last Friday, after he played the Royal Festival Hall here in Londinium with the '5 and the Sun Ra Arkestra, essaying a barkingly wunnerful performance on an 'everybody onstage and bang summat' version of Starship ... But jeez, Crocus izza fatty now! he could had the ENTIRE MENU during that innerview! Burp ... Best, Joss

Anonymous said...


Christopher said...

DARK STAR??? I remember the reviews of that one in the old BOMP magazine which used to lambaste the thing other than for the writings of a Steve Burgess! Never bothered to pick that one up thinking it was just a British version of RELIX or somethin'! Gee-Bee never seemed that hip as far as fanzines went...even the punk-era ones seem to have something lacking. Maybe this is because the big-name papers had good writers like Mick Farren, Charles Shaar-Murray and Nick Kent and the upstarts just couldn't compete. Then again the British Weaklies (no sic) had the likes of Gary Bushell and Julie Burchill, and you would think those two were ripe for the picking! I still like the very early BUCKETFULL OF BRAINS, BAM BALAAM and of course THE NEXT BIG THING even if I think the earlier issues are amongst the better (it is so difficult to read the square, newer issues!). Were there any other decent British fanzines then or now? (I haven't seen TERRASCOPE in ages...)

michael said...

Fanzines in the 70's in GEE BEE seemed to focus on west coast country rock and similar grist. For instance Omaha Rainbow was pretty much dedicated to John Stewart and people of that ilk.OK at the time i guess if you have wide enough taste to encompass such stuff without nodding off 5 minutes after opening the rag.Fat Angel was started by Andy Childs before he got a gig with Zig Zag. Zig Zag was probably where fanzines started in Britain, before that it was underground press such International Times,OZ,Black Dwarf and the like. These were hippie community papers and included politics and how to avoid drug busts aswell as music.Zig Zag #1 had Sandy Denny on the cover and they took it to the royal albert hall to sell to the heads who were attending a Janis Joplin concert because as luck would have it the hippies thought it was Janis not Sandy they were writing about.A nice scam to kick off the mag.Hot Wacks started early 70's and they featured one of the first articles on Glenn Phillips and H G band, but as time went on they became new wavey. HO HUM.Soft Machine/ Hatfields and Prog by ordinary joes (i.e NOT COLLEGE BUFFOONS)was covered in Impetus and that was an excellent read. BUT fanzines in the high energy sense did not exist as such.One reason for this is the fact that kids went to gigs all the time and saw likeminded folks so they could enthuse and disagree about all things rocking on a one to one level over a few beers.NME and Sounds were actually excellent papers especially 75/79, another reason the kids weren't doing zines.Steve Burgess of Dark Star was the best writer they had and he tried to get the mag to change to more relevant sounds but the money ran out so that was that!I'll get back to this subject if it is of any interest to anyone, but right now I GOTTA GO... later, Michael

Christopher said...

Michael-Actually there was ONE "high energy" British fanzine to come out of the early-seventies wave of homemade produce. PENETRATION was the name, and it was a pretty good attempt to merge budding punkisms, British hippie/psych's tasty leftovers (Deviants, Fairies, Hawkwind...) and the better portions of heavy metal and prog rock into a nice package with neat original art, rare photos and a fine rockism sense that speaks louder than some of the weaker British fanzine attempts of the punk era. They had a sorta early-seventies hippie/punk attitude...big on Iggy, Lemmy and the Dolls yet still hot on Gong and Van Der Graaf...and they were jam-packed with information that I haven't even seen repro'ed anywhere since! True PENETRATION had their faults ranging from the aforementioned longhair hippiedom which I can excuse them for, plus a lotta the issues they put out weren't exactly professionally printed and downright hard to read (something I know full well about!), but the guys who put PENETRATION out were perhaps the only people in England at the time cheerleading the former Deviants/Fairies axis (not to mention a lot of other music that deserved more than a little push at the time), and the readability quotient was very high next to some of the British punk competition of the day, a lot of which was so weak it just hadda develop into the sick working class socialism that played a nauseating companion to Britian's sick upper class eugenics-laced snobbery.

michael said...

Chris, thats right Penetration,forgot about that one and also there was Nuggets that ran things on Groovies, BOC,and the like. As Greg Shaw once remarked 'its all coming back'(to me now).Late 70's brit zines weren't all that good due to it being more important to do the thing than to put any thought into it.Still the suckers in Japan pay top price for this magic marker and typewriter scrawl from a now by gone age. All the best, Michael

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