REVIEWS AND ADDENDUM
The Korps-HELLO WORLD! CD (Gulcher)
The late seventies meant many things to many people, and (once you get down it the nitty gritty) they probably meant something a lot different to me than they undoubtedly did to you. And when it comes to looking at the late-seventies through punk-tinted glasses, my tint is probably a lot more rosier w/regards to rockism in general than yours. I mean, yeah my ears were attuned to all that kooky stuff that was going on in England just like you oldsters' were, but there was more to my punkism makeup than just glomming the latest dispatches from Blighty trying to osmose to it like I was there front and center for it all as if the scene over there was really something out of the ordinary and "special!" There were other things in punkism capturing my attention at the time, from various New York sounds that seemed to be the perfect continuum of that photo on the back cover of the first Velvet Underground album to Cleveland/Akron/Kent accomplishment to six-oh garage band splatter which was extremely tantalizing in my book because it combined two of my favorite cultural watermarks (general high energy rockism and mid-sixties popisms [tee-vee, fast foods...]) into one fine balla wax that sounded just as contempo in 1978 as it would've had I been front and center for the form back when it was actually happening. (I sorta was, but being a mere turdler when the whole shebang started up guaranteed that I'd never be able to fully comprehend one of the truly Golden Ages to hit my lifespan and maybe yours too.) Really, you could say that I was getting just as much PUNK in my life back then by just looking in the cutout and flea market bins as I was prowling the full-priced and import wares! Anyway, them wuz my late-seventies which were guided just as much by decade-old Velvets albums as they were by then-current thrusts, and if I hadda live it all over again all I'd do would be spend more money on records. I mean, what else???
Anyway, the Korps have a lot more to do with my late-seventies than whatever was happening overseas at the time...sure, that stuff was fun to read about and for some strange reason I thought Stiff records was one of the coolest concepts to hit the realms of independent record labels, but the US of A stuff hit to the core of my being a lot harder. Maybe its because this stuff was geographically and gulcherly closer to me, and maybe its because the Korps took a lotta my then-fave musical points-of-interest mentioned in the previous paragraph and mooshed 'em all together into a pleasing palatable platter for rockism-minded maniacs like me to munch down on but whatever, the Korps captured the true essence of late-seventies Amerigan rock & roll civilization of tee-vee reruns and loud music and goofing off a lot better'n them mirror-gazing working-class yobs "over there" ever could. Maybe it's true what Wayne Davis said in his MC5 article way back in FLASH #2...the only way the Brits could truly understand rock & roll would be if they had a whole buncha drive-in restaurants/movies and hot rods and less bowler hats and stuck-up snootiness and maybe some teeth that were white for that matter. I never could expect the British punks to be singing about cruising down the local strip on Friday night. Heck, it seemed phony when the Sex Pistols covered "Roadrunner"...I mean, what did Mr. Lydon know about driving on the highway with the radio on and stopping at the root beer stand anyway? When the English tried to copy this stuff it never did resonate, probably because no matter how hard they try, they can't be 'mercuns. They don't even wanna be cool like the Irish and up their noses at their Emerald neighbors which is bad enough, but as far as "emulating" Ameriga these blokes are a long way off, and I'm sure such righteous Offshore Islanders as Joss Hutton and Lindsay Hutton will concur w/me, right?
Anyway, the Korps (not to be confused with that other Gulcher recording act the Afrika Korps despite that these Korps wuz in that Korps!) consist of one Kenne Highland and another Kenny Kaiser. You probably know a lot about Highland and his antics via a variety of rockism-based endeavors dating back to the early-seventies, when at the tender age of sixteen he was editing and doing most of the writing for ROCK ON, a fanzine devoted to the better moments of late-period Vietnam musical concerns from heavy metal to pop/sixties throwbacks and even a bit of what passed for punk rock in them days. What was most amazing about ROCK ON was that Highland, although a teenager, was writing some of the better in-depth and mature yet still gonzo stuff to see light in the fanzine idiom...why this guy never made it in the real print world beyond a few letters to FUSION is beyond me. And then again, you already know about Highland's other seventies endeavors such as the downright punk rockin' Gizmos and of course the O. Rex/Afrika Korps axis so I won't link up my past posts on those guys like I'm expected to being a "respected" blogger and all. The other Korps member is Kenny Kaiser, not only another ex-Afrika Korpse (no sic) but a guy who I think was an unmitigated Slickee Boy at one time (I'm sure vengeful blogreaders will be more'n glad to "correct" me on this if in fact I am in error.) Anyway, between the two of 'em they handle a whole buncha rock & roll instruments and true this is more or less a studio endeavor that never played out as far as I could tell (thus lacking the proper history/chops/dues that used to come w/said territory), but that doesn't mean it's gonna rot on the vine or anything like that!
Material ranges from great late-seventies snatches of late-sixties punkisms...nothing quite heavy metal here unlike on the Afrika Korps platters (well, some of it is kinda heavy metal as in Jukin' Bone-styled cowbell clank rock which I happen to like!) but overall it's still fine, Flamin' Groovies-ish late-seventies punk wave that flashes me back to the summer of '78 which was one of the more halcyon times in my existence (w/the Groovies' then-recently cutout SHAKE SOME ACTION playing the soundtrack for three months of pure laziness and addled goof offing). Lacking the void pretension of a lotta their breth and sisteren, the Korps handle the teenage Amerigan crisis in music that was so rife then with aplomb. Even a bitta Ramonesian drone is snuck in on "Beat the Beets" which is sorta like a "Beat on the Brat" for vegetables. And where else are you going to hear a song like "With a Shiksa Like You" but here? Oy Vey! And in my humble opine (which you must care about or else you wouldn't be reading this) it's stuff like the Korps which made up the better portion of late-seventies underground rock proving that Miriam Linna and Billy Miller were right all along when they said that England couldn't hold a candle to what was happening over here so why bother being trendy and paying import prices for discs that might have had "it" 50 or 75 per-cent, but that doesn't make it a perfect 100 and really maybe you shoulda been a bit more choosy with your record purchases or else we wouldn't've hadda put up with all that horrid "post-punk" drek like Culture Club and Pete Burns, eh???
Roky Erickson and the Aliens-DON'T KNOCK THE ROK! CD (Norton)
What I said about the Korps goes double for Roky Erickson. To me, Roky was a true bridge between the mid-sixties garage band explosion and the late-seventies punk wave...here he was, a guy who perhaps epitomized the entire Texas psychepunkedelic scene with his Thirteenth Floor Elevators hit "You're Gonna Miss Me," and ten years later the man was just as "relevant" to an Amerigan underground scene as all of those groups he influenced! Not only that, but he wasn't even thirty yet which meant he still had the youth and vitality that came with being a true punk rocker! Things like this just warmed the cockles of my heart...music of the sainted past that was still around and not just as "archived" fragments of some dead past but as a music that continued to be alive and vibrant and concurrent with all the other stuff vying for my precious attention (and dollars). And with a "past" like Roky had the legend only vibrated more and more as the years went by. I mean, while the rest of punkism USA either played it really straight or feigned (?) outrageous insanity, we knew Roky was insane, and best of all, unlike Sky Saxon he didn't become a hippie in the process even if his hair was long and he sported a beard. Heck, half of the groups inna USA tapping into the underground root of it all had guys who looked JUST LIKE HIM!!!
This new Norton release is kind of a surprise...y'see, way back in KICKS #2 which came out during the final dayze of '79 none other'n Billy Miller was making fun of all these Europeons who were buying up International Artists albums for exorbitant sums of francs and lire, and a quarter of a century later here he is releasing a disque by one of IA's leading lights! And no matter what you think about psychedelia, one thing you gotta admit is this rec ain't "really" psychedelia, or at least the brand o'psych that brings back hazy memories of bad anti-drug films school authorities usedta show unsuspecting pipsqueaks in assembly (well, at least it got us outta class!). This is more "psychedlia" as defined by Lenny Kaye via NUGGETS, which means a lot more'n psychedelia as defined by ROLLING STONE even if half the San Francisco bands were ripping off the Elevators and taking all the glory for it. Psych as in late-seventies Roky with his Aliens in full force romping through a set of fabled fifties covers (w/a few Roky originals tossed in) sounding in all his Buddy Holly glory pretty much like many of the new aggregates that sprung up after being dosed not only on the energy of the Elevators but hefty sideswipes into Stooges and Velvet Underground territory proving that if anyone hadda right to the "what goes around comes around, or at least goes splat right back in your face" it was Roky.
The CD is pretty much unedited, sounding like those rough recordings of similar-minded seventies underground rockers that were circulating via TROUSER PRESS tape lists only cleaned up for digital consumption yet still sounding raw like the best music of that particular strata always tended to do. And of course it's such good rock & roll whether inside or out of the punk/wave/garage continuum that you'll shudder at the thought that this breed of high-energy music was forsaken for some pretty sad musings as time went by. And I didn't even tell you about the nifty booklet with notes by Rokologist Gregg Turner that read like a lost BACK DOOR MAN article! It's a good one...even BLACK TO COMM artist Brad Kohler likes it and he always seems to find some excuse to NOT like things even if he should so that must go to prove the lasting legacy of DON'T KNOCK THE ROK!, an archival find I'm sure you'll "dig" (get it?).
OTHER THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT: While searching the web for information on things totally unrelated I came across this neat site for Japanese noisemakers Up-tight that I'm sure any serious (or casual) fan of the Japanese underground form would want to check into. Up-tight are (along w/LSD March and other groups you can read about if you comb this blog carefully enough) one of the best post-Velvet Underground-styled groups coming out of Japan these days, and to beat it all these guys are honest-to-goodness acolytes of none other than Les Rallizes Denudes and it sure does show in their sound even if their latest CD was less then stellar. On this site you not only get to read various items (some in English!) on this fantab group, but you can also access their all-Japanese Velvet Underground page from here if you so desire not to mention download a number of songs onto a CD-R which would not only help sate any high energy yearnings of yours but look pretty snazzy inna collection. Remember how I used to get all sweaty and clammy just thinking about Australian groups twenty years back? Well now it's Japan that's all the rage in my brain, and really, if you're like me and you still get all hot and giddy over rock & roll as a LIVING PROPOSITION just like you did when you were first DISCOVERING THE STUFF then reading about and discovering Japanese underground rock'll have the same effect on you as reading about the hot up and comers in THE NEW YORK ROCKER did eons back! And if you're interested in buying any wares by Up-tight and many other Japanese proto/punk types of worth, just give Eclipse Records a try.
If you're bummed out about the possible (likely?) closing of the infamous CBGB and feel powerless with regards to DOING SOMETHING ABOUT IT, maybe there is something within your abilities you can do to make a difference. Maybe not, but if you go to "Save CBGB & OMFUG" perhaps you can help out similar-minded rock fans do their darndest to save this hallowed dive from extinction. At least you may feel a little better knowing you tried your darndest to help the forces of rockism this far into the 21st century especially at a time when it seems as if rock & roll just ain't as important as it used to/should be. Let's face it, even thirty-plus years later CBGB remains one of the few places which promotes and nurtures original rock music, and if it weren't for this hallowed haunt and its mere existence how many garage bands out there (both good and bad), not to mention heavy metal, progressive (even!), folk, jazz, reggae etc. acts would have gone the way of the Edsel a lot sooner'n had they not had a place like CBGB to gig at? Plus, keeping the place open is yet another concession to my own personal feelings...I hate seeing things I grew up with and remember from my rocking youth days (just like I hated seeing things from my fuzziest early memory times like buildings, automobiles, television shows etc.) get demolished/replaced for the sake of "progress" or what-have-you, and believe-it-or-not but keeping CBGB on the go will also help me to continue retaining a close contact with a rapidly-fading past that seems to be getting replaced by a boring and meaningless HERE AND NOW so all I gotta say is... KEEP CBGB ALIVE AND HELP ME TO KEEP FEELING YOUNG!!!
By the way, as usual I'm trying to get information on a variety of groups that have played CBGB (and her sister clubs/venues from the CBGB Theater to CB's 313 Gallery and the CBGB Lounge) over the past three-plus decades. Naturally I'm not interested in the groups we all know about but those acts that didn't quite go as far via the CB stages as the likes of Patti Smith and Talking Heads did. I'm talking about aggregates like Sorcerers, the Twelve-Tone Funk Orchestra, Sleet, Uneasy Sleeper, Junior Birdmen, Amphetamine Dreams, L-7 (the all-black group, not the Detroit hardcore one!), Destroy All Monsters (ditto...they were black too!), Jet Mule, Floor Kiss and thousands more, so if you know about 'em (or were in 'em!) and wanna share your knowledge, feel free to contact me if you so desire. If you don't, I guess that's my tough turds, right?
Tuesday, April 12, 2005
REVIEWS AND ADDENDUM