Doodles-CASSETTE 2 (just that!)
After listening time and time again to THE NIGHT GALLERY (one of the top pick spins of 2004), all I can say is I WANT MORE DOODLES!!!! I also want more LSD March, Mini No Koto and the rest of the bunch, but as it stands right here and now, what I sure could use in this life of mine is a lot more of that magic mixture these Nipponese Nancies dish out, just like I needed a lot more Cleveland underground rock in 1979 and as much Australian underground rock as I could stand in the eighties long before a certain somebody sullied that continent up. Anyway, I gotta just love a group with a name like Doodles...kinda reminds me of Sally Fields as Gidget going "toodles" alla time on the famed one-season ABC program even though that show was a doggie, and speaking of dogs, when I was a kid I had this yellow plastic dog that my cousin Denise gave me and she said his name was Doodles as well. What you did with Doodles was press his tail and his head would pop off! Spring action!!! I think Doodles is still in one of those boxes in the basement which stores all of the "cheap plastic junk" (a term my father would consistently use in describing my playthings) that gave me so much fun o'er the single digit years. And of course, who could forget "Cheese Doodles" which was a local brand variation on what's more commonly known as "Cheetos" (aka "Twisties" which was the generic term used for this snack in our household for eons even though an actual bag of "Twisties" hadn't entered our portals for just as long a time!!!).
So (getting all of this mildly Meltzering digression aside), you can see at least a few reasons as to why these Doodles maidens appeal to me so much. Of course the most important reason for my Doodles obsession is their sound...a deep, Velvet Underground sound and I don't mean Velvet Underground in the current sense of the term where more than a fair share of Young Trust Funded Americans took the sound and made it even blander'n all of those washed-out eighties groups ever could dream of. I'm talking Velvet Underground back when they sure had a dangerous and mystical sort of sense to their being I got from at first getting an eyefulla their album covers at the local J.C. Penney's at the mall before actually breaking down and buying the things. That's Velvet Underground as in start black/white energy and attitude as espoused by such followers as Mirrors or Can or any of those groups that did well with the legacy. Forget those new pretenders...Doodles has the energy and the power of the Velvets that I've dreamed about even before I heard a note of their music, and to top it off they're the right nationality (Japanese) and the right gender (female) and both of these things help out pretty well in my biblioteca if you ask me!
One thing I like about THE NIGHT GALLERY is that, as far as the overt Velvet Undergroundisms go, the groups contained therein sound more VU as in the proto-punk aspects of the term as opposed to the more popular "alternative" take of the direction which always seemed to take that group's sound and style in a superficial, miss-the-point matter-of-fact and proceed to "twee" the style even more if that could be possible. The groups on THE NIGHT GALLERY have such a cool take on the Cale-period aspects of the band that I could stack any of 'em against those bands that get compared to the early-Velvets not only then but now and I'm sure nobody would end up disappointed. Doodles are no exception, and what's boss about 'em is that there are only two of 'em, one on guitar and piano and the other on drums (both sing) and yeah, there can also be comparisons made to the Raincoats and other British post-punk introspective (and hairy-pitted) combos, but the massive (albeit feminine) power seems to override any potential feminist tendencies that ALWAYS tend to cause a lotta sphincter-clenching around the BTC offices.
Getting hold of Doodles CDs seems to be about as easy a task as getting hold of early issues of BLACK TO COMM, but at least I got hold of this cassette-only release which sure as shooting reminds me of the eighties cassette culture when just about every upstart group seemed to have a tape available that OP was more or less bound to review. Better'n nothing even though cassettes seem sooooo passe these days, but getting the chance to hear more Doodles is such a thrill in these energy-crisis days that even a cylinder would be a welcome relief, and probably technically suited for these Far East misses as well!
Two songs here (running about seven/eight minutes each), the first being the same tune that starts out the Doodles segment on THE NIGHT GALLERY. But surprise, this is a different, and what's more is that the song's not only longer here but there are two ADDITIONAL Doodles on guitar and bass respectively giving the group a slightly "fuller" sound that the usual guitar/drums setup, and perhaps even a more Mirrors-esque seventies demeanor than the better known take which was pretty Klimek-esque in its own way. The other song's a newie to my ears, another slow and melancholy tune that also seems to recall those same American seventies garage Velvetisms that seemed to have been replaced by haute pretension almost as soon as 1979 clocked over in to 1980 but I shant grumble because Doodles do it all so suavely that they even put past Velvetesque faves like Dangerous Birds in the shade.
Come to think of it, once in the pages of TAKE IT! Kenne Highland (or was it Amy Linden?) compared the aforementioned Birds to the Velvet Underground if they had four Maureen Tuckers. Dare I say that Doodles are Hackamore Brick with two Thomasina Moonlights?
I'm still on the lookout for actual Doodles releases (Eclipse Records, who usually seem to have their heads on straight w/regards to the Japanese underground, never seem to have any in stock so maybe a little pesterin' needs to be done!), but until then this tape and their NIGHT GALLERY tracks make for a fine tease...
Arch Hall Jr.-WILD GUITAR, THE SADIST DVDs (Alpha Video, Norton has 'em in stock and they seem to pop up on ebay as well)
Reviewing both of these classics in this day and age would be just about as bad as your typical film snoot singing the praises of CITIZEN KANE and Frank Crapra over and over like they do. Of course it's a lot more fun for me to not only watch these films and talk about 'em over and over than it would be for me to act like a modern-day Alexander Woolcott or Dorothy Parker at the Algonquin Roundtable (yeah, I know they were big on Joe Cook, but that was more or less their 1920s version of slumming, sorta like your typical bigcity rock critic paying tribute to BACK FROM THE GRAVE or somethin'!), so let me be about as non-pretentious as I can. Here goes...great to see that these DVDs are taken from old prints complete with all the scratches and wear so we get to see them the same way thousands saw 'em over and over again on tee-vee in the sixties and seventies which is cool. It's also great to see the serio-comedy WILD GUITAR again...it's fun and cheap and entertaining and all those things that made up the best of what I call real Sunday afternoon television like you used to see well into the eighties. Y'know, it's Sunday afternoon and you're too lazy to go outside to play even though it's nice and warm and you wanna watch the tube and all that's on are sports (zzzz) and this. So guess which one you choose, and guess who's the better for it! A nice and cheezy look at the rise of a rock icon and his conniving boss a good decade before STARDUST hit the boards, and probably about five times better as well!
THE SADIST remains a classic...even Don Fellman tells me that he was unnerved by all the dead bodies in this film back when he saw it via the box sometime in the sixties. And who can blame him, with Hall as a serial killer accompanied by his silent galpal (played by Marilyn Manning, who reminds me of a even spacier Ivy Rorschach) terrorizing a buncha timid schoolteachers in the California desert. You know it's a great film because, even though Hall and Manning portray the badskis, you're rooting for 'em because them teachers are just too square to be allowed to live! Low-budget terror that continues to sear, and you can bet that even the film snobs are going to bust their britches thinking up ways to compare this to their "quality" classics for years on end...am I RIGHT??????
If I have something more important to wing your way I'll do so this weekend, but please allow me to thank you for the opportunity of being long-winded this one (and one time only) posting!
Friday, April 22, 2005