Just some of the flot/jetsam that's crossed the BLOG TO COMM laser launching pad within the past few dayze...
Various Artists-THE IKON STORY; AMERICA'S #1 UNSUNG GARAGE LABEL 1964-1966 2-CD set (Frantic, via Crypt)
Ikon is not only coming, it is HERE and if this fact o' life doesn't quite tickle your tastebuds then may I direct you to a more sedate and dare-I-say dour weblog such as this? I'm sure that putrid slab o' pretend rockcritscreed'll suit your rather timid sense of musical aesthetics more'n this double-platter dosage of mid-sixties Amerigan teenbo trash ever will!!! And I DO mean it mainly because, if you're a nambla-pamby weak-kneed sissified light-rocker why waste your time munching on the high energy when you can be tasting oil!!! Grow some hair on yer chest for once, willya????
Y'know, it's pretty much unfair to these love-of-it fans of rock & roll to review their hard-scrunched-out efforts within the span of a few paragraphs, especially when it may have taken YEARS for them to conceive of and execute their various endeavors only to see the fruits of their efforts dismissed with short bursts of praise or perhaps even utter wrongheaded scorn as has happened to some tasty musical tidbits o'er the past few eons! (And believe me, I know just how it feels having seen my own penny-pinched, shoestring-budgeted yet totally immersed efforts get the offhand dismissal and condemnation, especially from people I never expected it from inna first place!) So yeah, I do feel kinda creepy writing about these two CDs (featuring part one of the mysterious Joey D's obsessive/compulsive-level digs into the vaults of this obscuro Sacramento label's garageoid wares) because I know the exact feeling of pouring your vital innards into these projects and seeing rather short reviews utter tepid hosannas or blog-length misinformation...heck, a twin-spin platter like this deserves a mega-huge ten-page spread and not a simp-o blog listing, but since I'm sorta strapped for cash at the point w/regards to putting out another issue of BLACK TO COMM I guess this comparatively small posting will have to do.
Anyway, THE IKON RECORDS STORY's the brainchild of the aforementioned Mr. D, a collection of a whole slew (sixty-count-'em-sixty!) tracks by many o' the groups who recorded for this teenage-minded label in the mid-sixties, perhaps the bestest time on this planet to be a teenager if all the entertainment, food and sports industries (amongst others) catering to their every whim and fancy is any indication. And with the teenage impact of the groups on these disques charging forth like the rest of the best of mid-Amerigan garageband USA, you know you're in for a high-energy thrill with all of the Noxema-packed rock crash and classy Ernie Douglas nerd-dom mixed with delinquent leather tough/cool that still sends a "message" to all 'em Joan Baez folkies even this far down the line!
It's hard to say which tracks on here are my faves...gotta admit that some may be nice though typical of other similar-minded attempts all over the place, but for me the standouts include the Knightsmen's able swipe of the McCoys' own swipe of "Fever," The Parish Hall Blues Quintet's "suburbanizing" of the Pretty Things' "I Can Never Say" (just give it a lissen and you'll know what I'm talkin' about!) and this crazy novelty thing called "Sorry About That" by Eirik and the Secret Agents which employs a hot instrumental bed for studio owner Jim Barkley and some friend to do a lotta cool BATMAN/GET SMART/DRACULA mid-sixties adolescent humor voiceovers to. With songs like that, who needed airplane glue? Of course there are many other worthies here to dissect and pin down just like you used to do with frogs in science class, but we'll leave that stuff to Elliot Murphy's legendary rock & roll class scheduled to commence in another 69 years. For now we got this collection to contend with which is good enough for me! (And I even neglected to tell you about Alec Palao's brill liner notes and the fact that some of this is "previously unreleased" which should make it big with at least three of you faithful readers out there!)
Angel Corpus-Christi-LOUIE LOUIE (Gulcher)
I dunno about this Angel Corpus-Christi gal...really! I mean, twenty years ago and twenty years ago this very summer at that, her I [heart] NY cassette was one of the top spins of the warm weather season getting hefty play whether I'd be in the car, the tub, the yard or just goofin' off reading classic mid-seventies back issues of CREEM wond'rin why it couldn't be as good ten years down the line as it was then (and the answer was obvious---they had Chuck Eddy writing for it and not ME!!!). Who knows, perhaps ACC and her sweet accordion sounds filling me with enough of that long-nascent rock & roll spirit (along with all of them classic fanzines and other high-energy musical exponents I had been gatherin' up o'er the past year or so) was a big factor in me starting my own fanzine up later that year, a fact which I think will make more than a few malcontents wanna lynch her but I guess that's your perogative in these "anything goes" days. Heck, throughout the rest of the eighties I was so enamored with the whole Angel Corpus-Christi mystique that I even pestered her for upcoming cassettes (such as WAKE UP AND CRY) and actually GOT 'em, at least up until the Poetraphonics one hit the boards when all of a sudden the gravy train stopped for no reason whatsoever. (Or so I thought---methinks I might have abridged some sort of sacred promotional material etiquette somewhere down the line but I can't be sure...however, some nimnul told me that my rampant anti-semitism probably ticked off Angel and her husband, MX-80 Sound vocalist Rich Stim, but I can't recall saying anything remotely negative against the Jewish people unless you count my dislike of gefilte fish, Bill Graham and klezmer music so maybe the Stims, if the aforementioned nimnul can be believed, like to read into my scribings just like a lotta my less-astute readership, but I guess that's my problem!)
Then the reason for the big ACC cutoff hit me! In the pages of YOUR FLESH (before I was unceremoniously dumped from their roster, a feat which I really don't regret other'n for the one good promo release per humongous package), I gave a horribly scathing review of this really dismal album by some group called X-tal (not the Cleveland area reggae band, or a hundred others with the name for that matter), an abysmal buncha alternative weenies who might have "dabbled" in a few reggae-rhythms down the line but were pure drivel made worse by their attempts at a Velvet Underground mystique which fell flat on their pasty-faces, totally belying the stories of SF being a Velvet-friendly area despite the hippie demeanor. And ex-X-tal "leader" J. Neo Marvin had the audacity to ram into me for allegedly hitching my star to that same VU mystique he felt content to tear to shreds with his watered-down hip-to-be-embalmed musical vision! Anyway, it turns out that one of the musicians guesting on this putrid platter (which I might like as a sick joke this far down the line, only I wouldn't know because it's sure hard playing albums encrusted with your own feces) was none other than Angel Corpus Christi playing her accordion, a sad fact which I believe I noted in the review/demolishing of that sad disque which got me one hate note from some band chippie at the time! She (Angel, not the chippie) even appeared, complete with squeezebox, on the back cover of the X-tal album with the rest of the guilty ones which certainly didn't do her name any good in my book, but hey, I guess we have to see our heroines take a PLUNGE once in awhile...
Fortunately, a few years later I did get a promo from the famed Howard Thompson (complete w/note I should have framed!) of WHITE COURTESY PHONE which I liked and even gave a neat writeup in my own fanzine, but after that, let's just say that I hadn't been that much in-touch with the ACC experience perhaps thanks to my alienation of not only her but the entire MX-80 cadre with my etapoint opinions which I guess hit a few more people than I wanted to get hit in the first place! And even "I" became alienated to the point where I didn't even spin those ACC singles that Lindsay Hutton sent me in the latterday issues of THE NEXT BIG THING which must prove something...like maybe I hold grudges when I shouldn't and keep hatred in my heart a lot longer than anyone should care to! But hey, that's me, and like the snake about to bite the guy who just saved him said, "I'M A SNAKE!!!!"
It wasn't until Gulcher Records got back into biz that I started listening to Ms. Stim once again, and yeah, I liked her newer releases and yeah, you can read about 'em elsewhere on this blog (too lazy to find and link!) and yeah, even though there may or may not be "bad blood" between her and me let me prove myself to be the better man and say that I really like this new one, a tribute to none other than one Louis Reed packaged in a fine sendup of TRANSFORMER that I'm sure you'll get a kick outta liek I do even if that schtick had been used for years on end. And I really enjoyed this 'un, even though my tastes for what have become known as "alternative" music waned around the time Husker Du began appearing on TV and SST started sending me some of the worst albums imaginable (mixed with some of the best mind you), but anyway this disque, just like I [heart] NY and Angel's subsequent cassettes, really digs up all the reasons I liked this monster called underground rock back then and how much I missed what it had meant to me even five years earlier when all the power and energy of the mid-seventies still had some force to it which would soon topple into a watered-down form that owed more to the B-52s and Madonna than VON LMO and the Contortions. Fortunately ACC understood and unfortunately J Neo Marvin didn't, which is why so much of the pow'r and might that you could find even in a comparatively soft Jonathan Richman album in 1977 seemed so tame and tepid once the mighty seventies oozed into the cube eighties.
In many ways, this CD reminds me of what I was expecting Max's Kansas City to be all about back when I was in high school and reading about the Silver Apples in Lillian Roxon's encyclopedia and hearing about Iggy slashing his wrists and hacking his chest open with a coke bottle smashed against the strings of his guitar (!-yes, that's how this infamous saga was related to me!). Y'know what I'm talkin' about...that futuristic pop performed by outerspace clones who hitched a ride of Ziggy's starship (and just take a look at Angel on the back and tell me she don't look pure Vulcan!) that, like the Velvets and Stooges and Dolls, sounded so evil and foreboding on one hand, yet totally suburban upper-middle-class garage on the other. The thing is, there were probably a few hundred acts just like this playing Max's between 1975 and 1981 only they didn't get the chance to make records. At least Angel did, and if you're game on accordion rock gone gnu wave with a touch of the macabre futurism that Suicide excelled in filtered through midwest garage 1975 temperaments, well this CEE-DEE is JUST THE THING for you! (As it is for me.)
Crimson Sweet-EAT THE NIGHT CD (Shake It)
Besides wondering what a lotta the old groups that played CBGB in the past sounded like, I'm sometimes curious as to what some of the current groups playing there sound like as well. And yeah, I know that many who aren't imitating Metallica or REM are imitating some other current bigtime act which is their gig maybe (but not mine), but sometimes I wonder whether any of the new bands playing this endangered bar have any of the zip and stamina which groups that played there thirty years ago and got tons of press for their efforts (for a change) obviously oozed. Crimson Sweet are but one of the new groups that one can see at this club on occasion, a nice tough act not-quite heavy metal (although mid-seventies metallurgists like the folks at BACK DOOR MAN might disagree) but hard-rocking enough to keep your attention span stretched long enough which is cool enough this far down the bend. Singer/guitarist Polly Wilson sounded so choked up upon first listen I thought she had a twinkie stuck in the ol' epiglottis, and her strained singing fits into the post-Dolls high-energy a lot better than I would have given credit for. Guitars screech and scronk like they have been for the past few decades, and though I'm sure such upper-crust rock critics as Chuck Eddy would dismiss it all as "old" at least I can see that this fine tradition is being carried on sounding just as fresh as it did when I first heard the blast and decided that there was more to life than AM radio! Interesting note...bassist's name is Robbie Kongress yet he has nothing to do with the infamous band of yore (CD is in the works!), However, he would like to hear Cross one of these days but until then Robbie, get hold of Lou Rone's ALONE on Gulcher as soon as you can because it's the closest thing you're gonna get to the metallic flange in a long time!
THE MOTHER'S ANGER CD (Dionysus)
A late entry. This Israeli guitar/drums group is the latest in a long line of such duos ranging from the Method Actors (Athens Georgia early-eighties new wavers with a Howard Devoto fixation that seemed pretty silly once 1982 rolled around) to Dejavoodoo (Montreal Cramps wannabes), but if I hadda compare the Mothers' Anger to any other gtr/drms aggregate that might have walked the earth it would be Ice, this New York twosome that played the CBGB summer fest in '75 opening for Binky Phillips' Planets and heavy metal glamsters Mantus...Ice should also be noted for giving the world one Randy Gunn, who would later play with not only the legendary Necessaries (also featuring Ernie Brooks of Modern Lovers fame...none other than Chris Spedding would take Gunn's place in the band thus garnering the Necessaries' position as a footnote in some future rock history book) but the Love of Life Orchestra. I never heard Ice, but from what I've read about 'em I'd assume they were also doing the same two-piece hard rock that the Mother's Anger guys do, only with a more-mid-seventies rock demeanor instead of the newer aggregate's nineties grunge emote, that is.
What drove me to pick this one up was the fact that, outside of the hype that they sounded like the MC5, was that this disque was produced by former Five member Michael Davis who also plays bass on one track. Well, sad to say but these guys don't remind me of the MC5 or what I would have expected any Five offshoot/influenced bunch you could care to think of to sound like. No, the Mother's Anger, just like the rest of the new hard rock brigades worldwide, are stuck in the needle-bitten Seattle sludge/drone and churn that's been oh-the-rage for quite some time, and even Davis can't save them from their over-emotional sound and fury signifying little if anything. I guess it was stupid of me to think this would sound anything like the MC5 or any of the groups that were swiping ideas from them back then (Amboy Dukes, Alice Cooper, Stooges...), but gee, I was kinda hopin' it would at least given Davis' involvement and besides, aren't we due for a high energy epiphany about now? Frankly, I don't think this group could have survived a Detroit church basement gig opening for Sproton Layer let alone the Grande Ballroom, but given all of the atrocities and missteps that have plagued rock & roll over the past few decades...should I really be surprised?
Wednesday, June 08, 2005