A WHOLE LOTTA SCRUNCHIN' GOIN' ON!
Well I couldn't think of a better way to title this posting considerin' that I have about a thousand things to write about yet only about an hour or two's stamina to write about it all, but I will try and not because of any noble, deep or altruistic motivation on my part just so's I can satiate youyouYOU, the ever-hungry-for-pertinent information blogreader who hangs upon my every word, phrase and sniffle, but because (like with my fanzine and the three decades of record collecting under my souffle'd-over belt) this is nothing but a hobby to me (where have I heard those words before?), and while other people may spend their days collecting stamps and postcards or doing other forms of ineffectual anal-retentive time-passing activities, I like to spend every second I can EATING HIGH ENERGY which is why I am doing what I do when I could be doing something more beneficial to the Amerigan landscape like plucking the hair outta my armpits like some bored primate at the zoo. So, if things like high energy rock and opinions that challenge the ol' medulla 'stead of gently massaging it ain't quite yer bag, I suggest you find some other internet outlet to osmose, such as here or even here if you so desire. However, for the total experience high energy ERUPTION of it all, you can't do better than to stick by good ol' BLOG TO COMM!
First on the itinerary's a review of the long-blabbed about MC5 documentary entitled MC5: A TRUE TESTIMONIAL. Believe me, I didn't want to see this, even though I've been a follower and fan of the MC5 (and what they doth wrought both in and outside of the Detroit area) for well over a quarter-century, NOT because of any current animosity I may have towards the Five (I don't) or certain mega-fans of the group (I do), but because frankly, I hate documentaries. Documentaries generally suck because, no matter what the subject matter may be, they present certain "facts" or more likely "pseudo" or "non-facts" their way and generally wanna hammer their particular POV (which, incidentally, is the name of PBS's long-running documentary series which seems to constantly bombard the airwaves with very left-wingish films funded by your tax bucks on everything from feminism to The Spanish Civil War), usually with a hefty sneer aimed at the lower/mid-class proles whom the PBS/left elites claim to pay homage to from their lofty urban enclaves! Believe me, I've passed up on many documentaries presented on television o'er the years just because I just knew that there was gonna be some irritating anti-me viewpoint espoused somewhere inna thing and even when I braved the storm because the subject matter at hand seemed worthy of my attention, wouldn't you know it but either Ken Burns or David McCullough (the Leni Reifenstahl and Joseph Goebbels of PBS respectively) just HADDA toss some skewered barbs regarding my personal views/birthright my way, probably thinking how clever and perhaps even "over-the-top" they were in doing so! I am not a masochist (even though you may think so given the red flags I've waved at a number of potential bulls out there), and I don't exactly cozy up to sitting through a coupla hours of modern-day straight/white/midclass baiting just to get more information on something I've held near and dear mostly because it WAS straight/white/midclass, but if you think I'd actually LIKE the prospect of eyeballing most documentaries that are being made available to me, you've certainly got another think comin'!
Anyway, so I've come across a burnt DVD-R of some legit release of this MC5 thing (check the web if you want it bad enough!), and y'know what, it's good and it's OK. Not bad or anything...fortunately the editors kept John Sinclair's rabid antiestablishment rants down to a minimum which is a relief given how Nixon's been dead for ten years already, but unfortunately they've kept the hot, unseen video down to a minimum as well. Gobs of good, early pics can be ogled true, but the one clip of the MC5 at the peak of their avant-rock sound with Rob Tyner joining Dennis Thompson on drums and Fred Smith wailing on a tenor sax is just that...a clip. I was sure hung'rin' for more of that hot avant-rock stuff which comes in such short supply when dealing with the histories of the Five, Velvets and Stooges (y'know, "the weird stuff"), not to mention more of them home movies of the group when Tyner was just startin' to grow his hair into a friz'n was still sportin' early-sixties gradeschool hornrims which kinda makes him look even cooler, in a boss mid-sixties timewarp way (I thought Lenny Kaye was just as cool with his Clark Kents, as were a whole buncha sixties rockers like Mark Volman fercryinoutloud!), but for some strange reason the documentary makers hadda do some serious SKIMPING here!
The surviving Five members are still youthful and punky with their commentaries on the band and the sixties Detroit landscape, especially Michael Davis out inna Arizona desert w/his dawg not to mention Dennis Thompson aiming his semi-automatic at the irritating/arrogant interviewer wishing his weapon were only loaded (Wayne Kramer cruising the environs was boss as well), and seeing/hearing them (along w/Tyner via an old interview) gabbing about the past sure sent hot metal shards throughout my solar system. Danny Fields is still top-notch even after all these years (it's no surprise that even Wayne McGuire thought he was one of the brightest minds in the rock world) while Jon Landau proves that hanging around Bruce Springsteen too much can lead to cirrhosis of the brain. Still, despite all the nits I could pick I must admit that A TRUE TESTIMONIAL's a good enough put-together re. one of the few rock groups that captured my imagination for a longer time than even I can comprehend. I mean, sheesh, I remember reading that ROLLING STONE cover story on 'em in '77 thinking they were perhaps the most extreme statement as far as rock with avant garde (then a hot musical ref. pt.) tendencies could go wanting to hear every note of music they (and the Velvet Underground) laid down especially since the then-current music scene seemed so dismal or (regarding underground/punk concerns) distant. I also remember being more than gung ho on buying a copy of KICK OUT THE JAMS at the time only being talked out of it by a certain someone who shoulda known better but I guess didn't, settling on a copy of Brian Eno's DISCREET MUSIC instead which was OK, though I shoulda bought that one two years earlier which only proves what a slow-poke I am.
Feature bonus goodies're a delight, and although I didn't get to prowl through it all I did catch the 1967 tee-vee take of "Black to Comm" for the zillionth time (I would have preferred some of those '66 vintage home movies or the aforementioned free-for-all...) and the rest of it looks snat as well, though I don't wanna overdose on it all at this point in time.
Onto other subjects...just received two CDs from Get Hip, a label that I must admit I had little love for back in the eighties, but since they distribute BLACK TO COMM and have put out some pretty nice archival material over the years, I just can't write 'em off like that! Anyhow, two of their most recent releases are by some new bands mining the retro-garage vein, a vein which seems to have been mined as soon as the garage era clocked over into heavy rock sometime in the early-seventies if the existence of the Droogs is any indication. The Mainliners are yet more Scandinavian burrowers of the big beat who do a pretty good, impassioned garage roar that sounds refreshing especially after having been bombarded with the form in the late-eighties to the point of ennui. The High School Sweethearts have a femme vocalist (keeping in Fred Kirby-mode here!) and recall a good portion of the "tough" girl bands of the seventies on (starting w/the Runaways all 'way up to the Donnas/Pandoras/Muffs brigades) proving that even though Grace Slick is still alive, she is dead, at least as far as female rock role models go. Still, after two hours of the MC5 documentary and thrill-chills received therein, both of these acts came off about as powerful as the Beacon Street Union and Blood Sweat and Tears did following the Five and Stooges at the Grande Ballroom.
In other finds...the NATIONAL LAMPOON 1964 Yearbook reish made for a fine retro-read, especially given how it was created and released in the mid-seventies, a time when humor seemed to be at an all-time high either via the mainstream or "hip" (MONTY PYTHON, SNL, SCTV...) outlets. I remember somebody bringing this one to school...of course the cover w/the bare-butt cheerleader made a big splash with the kids, but looking at this one after all these years I gotta admit how the 'poons captured the mid-sixties teenbo experience a lot better'n MAD or even Harvey Kurtzman at his craziest could. Lotsa great anti-PC yuks which make me crack up even more here in 2005 because...I know them gags are gonna upset the same type of people who get all discombobulated about me and my various views and opines which is cool because if anybody needs to be "offended" its the politically pious crowd of today! And, frankly, a lot of this book was real and hit the Amerigan High School experience on the head, from the school snaps of the goody-two-shoes to the class hoods and snobs and fags and general jerks just like the kind I hadda put up with, not to mention the exchange student from "Umbrellastan" who wrote in the most hacked up Pidgin English one could imagine. What is strange about this is that in my own high school's yearbook (during my senior year), various written commentaries about just how dovey higher learning is were scattered throughout the book (cutesy seventies idea the didn't pan out), including one from a Vietnamese refugee who wrote some strange, garbled thing (with very good penmanship mind you) about how she agreed with the school faculty in not allowing students to wear jeans! Naturally the kids laughed and made fun of it and the authorette in question and to be totally honest about it I thought that including this lassie's comments as an excuse to hold her up to ridicule was more than a bit crude and still feel this way years later. However, given what I've read in the LAMPOON yearbook and considering how the snoots who put the AQUILA together were probably familiar with this well-publicized spoof, all I can say is was this yet another case of life imitating art, or just a cruel coincidence???
Not much else to report. At this time (for pleasure as opposed to "critical evaluation") I'm spinning my Les Rallizes Denudes vast array of bootleg CDs a disc per night whilst settling back in my comfy chair getting mentally ready for an evening of snooze. I gotta remark as to just how (dare I say) beautiful Les Rallizes Denudes are. They have all the qualities I've liked in sixties/seventies underground rock for years, from a black and white sound (as opposed to a "colorful" one...read Lisa Robinson's November '75 Eleganza column in CREEM where she describes how hubby Richard's band Man Ray was supposed to perform in black and white clothing and instruments while bathed in a blacklight and how the then-current CBGB groups were beautifully monochromatic in themselves, or if you can, latch onto Tim Ellison's musings on music as being black/white in the first ish of his ROCK MAG fanzine) to that one-chord massive THUD that continues to satiate almost 40 years after that thud was conceived! Les Rallizes Denudes roll up all the best moments of my fave late-sixties bands, the Velvet Underground, Big Brother and the Holding Company, MC5, Stooges, Blue Cheer, the Deviants and a few more I'll think of next week into one huge hunkering ball of sound and vision that reveals itself as being so timeless after all these years probably because it never fit into any timeframe one could think of! When I'm done with my Denudes CDs I'm playing all of my Up-Tight ones then LSD March and all them bands w/ex-members of all these groups in various mixes and matches and variations and the like. If there's anything to get obsessed over these days it's Japanese underground rock, mainly because it's so good and high energy that you'll think its the year you first discovered this breed of aptitude all over again!
Wednesday, April 20, 2005
A WHOLE LOTTA SCRUNCHIN' GOIN' ON!