Wednesday, July 20, 2005


It's been a pretty hunky dory year for archival underground releases/reissues/whaddevah, something which suits me fine considering my grumpy attitude towards a good hunkering portion of what passes for underground rock of a modern variety. Back in January I was raving at you about the Chinaboise Cee-Dee on Gulcher, a disque featuring Rich Stim and Dave Mahoney's pre-MX-80 Sound project which presented itself as a weird cross between Firesign Theatre-ish (without the drugs) hip guffaws and the better aspects of 1982 local scene gnu wave (that at least seemed part of the original thrust!) done at a time (1975) when the creature hadn't even been invented yet! (Meaning: Talking Heads, Blondie etc. were still firmly entrenched in smart post-Velvets art moves long before the smarm set in!). A month later I was tearin' your ear off about Norton's collection of Arch Hall Jr.'s single sides, live romps and film trax/dialogue packaged in a nice li'l bundle entitled WILD GUITAR which I'm sure all of you have bought by now. And here in July comes this wondrous slab of high energy mildew that I've been anticipating for quite a long time, and given how impatient I tend to get you know I've been awaiting this one with the same fervent vigor and gut-gnawing angst that I've been awaiting the arrival of my Yoko Ono lovedoll!

I never did get around to getting hold of George Brigman's debut schpiel entitled JUNGLE ROT back when it became one of the hot must-gets of the real-life underground rockist brigades around 1983. My head was in such a daze at the time (don't believe me? Just read some of my then-current writeups that make some of these current posts look coherent!) and besides money wasn't exactly something I had to splooch around like I do now! Frankly, if it weren't for Bill Shute's care packages (parachuted from planes along with white lumpy stuff for me to gobble up like those kidz you used to see on tee-vee alla time!) I probably would have been TOTALLY outta da hipster loop! In fact, there was a tape in one of those very selfsame care packages that had the title track from this 'un front and center, and after hearing that as well as Rick Noll's various releases on his own Bona Fide label (I'd link Bona Fide up if only Noll had a website, so write him the old-fashioned way until he gets it up...the website I mean!), I came to the conclusion that George Brigman was...well, a pretty wild guitarist with a hefty blues influx (not exactly a strong pt. in my book, but Brigman sure didn't sound like your typical bar band Chuck Berry rehasher!) who was such a refreshing switcheroo in the heart of the gnu wave/light metal eighties that you knew he would get ignored! Anyway, if you don't believe me, just read this review of I CAN HEAR THE ANTS DANCING I wrote just a week or so ago, or just scroll down this page a bit if you're that lazy!

Anyway, it's sure great that Noll found it righteous to reissue this classic on Cee-Dee (Karl Ikola at Anopheles pressed up a batch on good ol' vinyl in case you're a latent luddite like me!) because this one certainly is a contender for top reish o' the year. And given that I feel that the proto-punkian sounds that came out prior to the certification of "punk" as a valid rockism form in many ways were much better'n the latterday approved variant, JUNGLE ROT is all the more important in light of what was "to be" a few years down the ol' cliched line. Some may hear a Stooges influence (though Brigman heartedly denied this in an interview with the French fanzine EVERLASTING TRIBUTES way back in 1983) and there is kind of an Iggy growl in Brigman's great monotone rowllff, but them gtrs are straight outta late-sixties British bluezy punkisms a la the Groundhogs (nearest and dearest to Brigman's heart) and maybe even Killing Floor. The garage band primitivism does help (and sounds wonderful thanks to digitalism's ability to take so-called "poor" recordings and exemplify their flat, basic qualities) even to the point where you might even mistake a song like the instrumental "[T.S.]" (after McPhee) for some rare slice of 1966 San Francisco garage psych. And considering the man had not only taught himself but has been playing his guitbox for only a year when this platter was laid down, all I gotta say is that I wish I had Brigman's forsightfullnes and talents when I was teaching myself the instrument wanting so bad to form an early-Velvets feedback-enveloped sound collage back in 1981 when the whole VU trip was starting to flop over into alternative goodie-goodies, but hey, we can't all be as astute as Brigman, eh?

There may be a few low-points here/there but I wouldn't call 'em turdburgers or anything. And even if they don't seem "right" to your pampered ears at first, a few more listens may straighten you out like they did me with the song "Worrying," which originally reminded me of that old Jefferson Starship hit of the seventies that went something like "What you doin' to me with your love"...real post-psych hackdom that helped make punk rock sound all the more better. But a few more listens proved that "Worrying" was a lot more solid (no sic, given this is not only the name of Brigman's own label but a classic Groundhogs side!) and downright wiggle-into-you-like-an-earwig entertaining than anything outta the Starship catalog and I ain't gonna skip over it next or any future spins that I know of. The only track I really don't cozy up to here is the original LP closer "I'm Married Too" which not only features a different lead singer (and a not too good one at that) but standard caucazoid blues with little if anything to differentiate it from about a million other whiteboy attempts o'er the past thirtysome years. Oh well, even my fave LPs have their own clunkers so why should I complain???

Bonus tracks (w/band Hogwash) are fair enough even if a tad bitta mid-seventies post-freeform FM seems to seep in. But on the whole I'd consider JUNGLE ROT one of '05's highlights and a heavy contender for top reish status once I crank out my year end's rundown. I'm still hoping that the competition gets heated up so's making a choice as to which reish/archival dig gets the top award will be a tuffy (who knows, maybe some 1967 Velvet Underground wannabes will see the light of day more sooner than later!), but until then at least I've got JUNGLE ROT to chew on just like my dog Sam's brazen attempts to give himself a sex-change with his bare teeth, and what more can I ask for at least at this point in time!

Next post I hope to write up a buncha recent arrivals of not only promo disques but CD-Rs sent me by a variety of blog readers who want to see what I'd "do" with these offerings pretty much in the same way they'd wanna see what my now-deceased dog would do with my cousin Li'l Vic, who's fortunately still with us. Given that I've been very one-dimensional with regards to listening to music as a whole (meaning, if I don't wanna hear it, I DON'T WANNA HEAR IT!!!!), it's gonna be a task not only sitting through but explaining just how I feel about these things in words that properly convey my strained feelings. Hope you're looking forward to it (I'm not!), and if you're a person that's religiously inclined how about saying a prayer or three (even a novena would help!) or chant something so's I can pull this one off while SURVIVING through the carnage!


Anonymous said...

Hey--what the hell is this doing on your worst post list? You actually make some valid points and even talk about the music!! Only prob I see is you skip right over the bonus tracks which people who havent heard the CD might wanna know about--especially considering the mighty status of "Witchdoctor" and "Easy Stranger" which already burnt a hole in my speakers. They are remarkable tracks, and even the ballad Dreaming as well are great Brigman tracks that shed further light on his unusual sound.

Instead of belittling yourself with a silly worst of post, Why not list all the people you cussed, dissed, and otherwise verbally abused in your blog and donate $5 for each of them to the Katrina relief fund and challenge them to do the same!

Try to make something positive happen and you might be surprised what happens as a result!

Sam Brownback

Christopher said...

Sam, if I did what you suggested I'd go broke immediately!!!

Christopher said...

Hey, you're not the senator from Kansas are you???