Sunday, August 28, 2005


Not quite a "High Six" or "New Und Noteworthy," but a p'haps not-so-quick rundown regarding a coupla things (musical and not) that I've come across over the past few weeks which I'm sure that you rabid readers (all THREE of you) will want to know about given how much you care for me and my artistic well-being. And frankly, what else is there for you to do other'n osmose to my every breath and significant music listening experience...I mean, thrills are getting hard to come by these days and I should know! Believe-you-me my ever-syntax-crackling mind is thinkin' up some new and dare-I-say short-story-length blogposts for future fun-and-games and I've been getting hold of (either by purchasing or because you loving fans actually send me things out of the goodness of your heart) more CDs than one can shake a stick at which I hope to relate to you in typical BLOG TO COMM detail, and to get the balls rolling let's commence w/these slabs of gulcherally-significant wonders both old and new (w/some bookage tossed in) that I just felt like writing about and nothing more...SO THERE as Chuck Eddy used to say.

Von Lmo-TRANCEFORMER CD (Munster)-Yeah, I know that I've reviewed the 2-LP version of this mega-spinecrushing epic in BLACK TO COMM #25, but since only a small portion of the people this fanzine is aimed at have actually read the thing I might as well get some mileage out of this compost disque version that's also been making the rounds for the past few years. Anyway I was in a heavy metal mood yesterday and since TRANCEFORMER was handier than my other heavy metal disques it, er, got "elected" to help satiate my high energy cravings a lot more than had I pulled out most any other metallic foray languishing somewhere in my collection.

The FUTURE LANGUAGE portion of TRANCEFORMER needs no introduction, or further praise and glory from at least this overdeveloped fanboy since I've been championing this platter every since PFUD! #4 hit the back alleys sometime in the mid-eighties (I was yearning for seventies rock aesthetics even THAT EARLY IN THE GAME!!!). The unreleased material dating from sessions spanning the seventies to nineties satiates just as much as Lmo's extraterrestrial familiar treatment of early-seventies metallic moves reshaped into late-seventies New York no wave, complete with two numbers from the one-off Von Lmo's Refrigerator (w/ex-Kongress chanteuse Iolsa Hatt, then nearest and dearest to Lmo's heart and pocketbook!) sounding about as close to Red Transistor as is allowed until the actual artyfact gets re-released, and there's also a truly MX-80 Sound-styled hard rock monster called "Transformer" that's bound to give your so-called metal friends a true taste of sonic overload they never could get from Poison. A nice smattering of Lmo's talents in different settings from those crankers we already heard on SONGS OF THE NAKED CITY to what purports to be a 1970-vintage Funeral of Art wowzer, and you even get an '80-era outtake entitled "Nobody Wants to Play With Rose" which sounds like Lmo trying to go commercial with the sensual NYC new wave schmooze! Biggest gaffe...the exclusion of the ultimate metallic smash-up cover of "Purple Haze" which you can get on the elpee but if you went this far I think you deserve the entire kahuna!

Voivod-RRROOOAAARRR CD (Combat)-Tim Ellison broke the bad news that bass-player Piggy from Montreal thrashmetal-cum-progsters Voivod died Friday PM, and while the death of the Porcine One means about as much to me as that of Dagwood Bumstead's it at least gave me an excuse to spin more heavy metal (Tim wished us to listen to some 'vod in Piggy's memory, and who am I to argue?). Since it was late at night I played debut (s)platter RRROOOAAARRR at a low level so's not to disturb the neighbors, and even without busting eardrums this quartet delivered enough crangacrang to get me through the early-early morn hours of classic comic book reading (more on that later). Like a lotta things in my short-attention-span life this could get monotonous, but then again I've come to like monotony when done right and maybe Voivod did it better (before trying for the crunch-prog sweepstakes) than their comrats-in-arms. It's kinda like a kid it drove me insane but now I can even groove to the vast vapidness of it all even outside some intellectual zen level. And considering what was passing for heavy metal in the early-eighties (either British "new wave of metal" doldrums or commercial HIT PARADER Andy Secher fluff), Voivod and their thrash brethren were the saviors of the entire metal movement no matter how much the FM rock early-eighties leftovers will deny it.

Hackamore Brick-ONE KISS LEADS TO ANOTHER CD-R (originally released on Kama Sutra)-A familiar one here, and why not? Y'see, Jon Behar burnt a whole load of CDs for me including one of this infamous 1970 Richard Robinson-produced disque by these came-and-went New Yorkers, and it oughta sound familiar to me because Jon burnt his copy of this using THE EXACT SAME TAPE I MADE FOR HIM OVER FIFTEEN YEARS AGO!!!! I just knew I heard those pops and crackles before, and the drop-outs do lend an air of---seventies/eighties cassette listening memories which I guess will spell nostalgia for some! Well, until an actual legit re-release comes out this will come in handy. Tagged at the end is an even-lower-fidelity take of the "Searchin'"/"Radio" single also dubbed for Mr. Behar by yours untruly long long ago.

White Heaven-OUT CD-R (originally released on PSF Japan)-Another Behar burn. Of all the new Japanese underground bands out there in "hear me!" land, White Heaven was one I may or may not have wanted to give the time of day to. My ambivilent attitudes toward this band stem from my general finickiness...I mean, I love Les Rallizes Denudes because of their late-sixties roots and adherence to an early-Velvet Underground credo similar to a handfulla similar bands across the globe at the time. I also love the groups that came out in their wake because of their connection, no matter how tangential, with the core of it all. White Heaven on the other hand do not seem to grasp at any of these hardcore roots and in fact sound just about as far removed from it all as many of their compatriates on the Japanese newpsych scene. Of course when I HEAR more of this band and the other Japanese noisepsych wonders I've ignored for so long (Behar also sent along some Fushishuta and Taj Mahal Travellers) I might change my opinion, but as of today there seems to be little of that music "in the raw state of becoming" (to quote Wayne McGuire) that makes a whole lotta difference between music that is firmly planted on terra and music that continues to move and shape this far down the line.

FIGHTING AMERICAN by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby (Marvel, 1989)-Jack Kirby's been a long-standing fave (at least during my obsessive comic book collecting days circa ages 11-14) ever since I discovered his DC-period "Third World" comics and Marvel superhero/monster reprint titles of the same strata. Not being as rabid a comic book encyclopedia as many other kids of my time-frame (perhaps because I didn't have the money, brains or encouragement as many of these fellow fanatics had) I wasn't familiar with this early/mid-fifties title the duo did for the soon-to-capsize Prize Comics line, a patriotic hero reminiscent of the rash of similar characters who permeated the World War II scene transported into the anti-communist fifties. But I am now, and after reading these sagas of Soviet subversion being bang-slammed into oblivion by Our Hero and his youthful sidekick (more'n reminiscent of that original Simon/Kirby creation Capt. Ameriga 'n Bucky) all I gotta say is...I thought it was gonna be funnier in a Plastic Man vein esp. after reading the hype surrounding these stories for years. In fact, the funniest part of this book is Simon's foreward which backpeddles the fact that Fighting American was a fervid response to the rise of left-wing aggression inside and outside the halls of govt., though after McCarthy fell from grace he felt kinda sheepish about it all as if he was betraying his New York Liberal roots or something like that. Not so surprisingly, Marvel themselves did pretty much the same thing in the mid-seventies when they explained that their fifties variation on Cap America was really some evil android-esque dupe of a communist-hating reactionary, a fellow who certainly WASN'T in vogue with the wave of comic book writers or even readers for that matter!

The Ramrods-GIMME SOME ACTION CD (Young Soul Rebels, 4152 Woodward, Detroit MI 48201)-At first glance I thought these Ramrods were yet another batch of new kiddies trying for the sixties/seventies garage band merry-go-round brass ring and decided to give 'em an immediate spin because of that. Hmmm...good enough post-Groovies hot-pop, nice especially next to a lotta the stuff that apes the same scene and usually comes off middling for all the effort you'd think they'd put into it such endeavors. Turns out (after reading the enclosure) that these guys ain't some moderne bozos with the goods down pat but none other 'n Bob Mulrooney a.k.a. Bootsey X hisself's late-seventies band! Pretty good job there Bootsey, and hey, if there are any other now-famous underground rollickers out there who had bands like this way back when, how 'bout (re)issuing some of this stuff and milking your past for all it's worth? If you're still around and a nobody and you had a band like this inna past release it anyway...maybe you'll become a somebody at least retroactively.

Aural Fit-LIVESTOCK CD (Slant Eye Archives, available through Forced Exposure)-Jury's still out on these Japanese noisemakers who claim everyone from local saints Les Rallizes Denudes to the Velvets, LaMonte Young and Kim Fowley as influences. Too much sonic reduction here signifying too little I guess, not quite zoning me into orgiastic throb-thrills of past glories like a lotta this music used to but I think I hear "something" (ever so miniscule) in here. And no, it doesn't reach the sacred heights of the Rallizes let alone Up-Tight at their best or LSD March at Vincebussing their Eruptums, but then again, it may become a top spin for the year for all I know. Better let this one gestate a little bit...

Metal Urbain-ANARCHY IN PARIS CD (Acute via. FE)-Good enough in small doses as is most of this late-seventies squall these days. Fine enough electronic punk made by people (mainly the French) who everyone thinks can't play this stuff (only appreciate it), which makes it all the better especially in the face of people who are supposed to pull off playing punk-oriented/rooted music but can't.

CHARLIE BROWN AND SNOOPY; STICK WITH IT SNOOPY paperbacks (Fawcett)-I really dunno why I picked these up at an antique mall last week, other than to give this once-fave comic strip another try after years of neglect and downright hatred (I mean, just take a gander at that "spoof" I did entitled "Peanads" in issue #24 of my own fanzine which mocks just about everything wrong this strip had become). Perhaps one of the reasons I quit reading PEANUTS was because it was rapidly losing steam after years of pretty much being too big, too popular and maybe too self-conscious of itself to be allowed to exist. Heck, I even recall wincing when I'd happen to chance upon the strip on rare occasion seeing the obvious loss of quality and viscosity on Charles Schulz's part, and in many ways viewing these later PEANUTS was just as painful as seeing what Al Capp's LI'L ABNER had turned into after years of high-quality and truly engrossing sagas that continue to please thirty/forty years later which is more than you can say about the comic strip fare we're offered these days!

CHARLIE BROWN AND SNOOPY contains strips from 1963/64, a time when PEANUTS was already one of the top funnies on the page and a few years away from out-of-control superstardom thanks to a series of TV specials still being aired and the mass-marketing of PEANUTS paraphrenalia run amok. These strips still show a bit of the fifties charm and verve that made me go (at age seven and eight...I started my fifties appreciation EARLY!) for those old paperback titles more than I did the actual new strips (but that's probably because I believe I would have enjoyed things more had I been a fun and rollicking kiddie in the late-fifties/early-sixties rather'n a decade later in the middle of all that hippie drek!), with a neat pre-"relevance" sense of smart snazz to 'em and some rather entertaining guffaws that almost reach a NANCY sense of mid-class bliss. This collection is probably most notable at least fer me because not only does it feature the debut of "5" (perhaps my fave "lower-case" PEANUTS character who I actually used to get confused w/Charlie Brown due to their follicly-deprived nature), but the very strip that ran on the day John Kennedy splattered his cranium all over Jackie's Christian Dior original (though you didn't notice any "era's end" in PEANUTS at all which has gotta account for something!)...y'see, when I was a kid I used to go into my grandmother's attic and read all of the old newspapers that she had saved over the years NOT for any stodgy historical purposes but to read the comic strips and see what was on TV at the time! And I clearly remember (age nine or so) reading the funny page from that fateful day in order to see what Charlie Brown and my other fave comic characters were up's funny, but at that time the assassination wasn't really THAT long ago, but to me it was about as much a part of classic, deeply-inbred historical American History as the Civil War! Interestingly enough, those very same newspapers I loved to plow through way back when reside underneath my bed, but I have very little desire to comb through them like I did during my single-digit days...go figure!

STAY WITH IT, SNOOPY features comics from the 1976/77 cusp at a time when I was more concerned with MONTY PYTHON and Amon Duul I than dumb comic strips. However it seems as if I was missing a lot, since these strips despite being from the lame Ford/Carter days are downright enjoyable and worth reading over and over despite their airs of mainstream humanist blah. But even though not one of these comics could approach a NANCY (even one ghosted by one of Ernie Bushmiller's assistants) or FERD'NAND (ditto albeit "Mik" drew that 'un) suburban schmooze I find them far more entertaining than a good portion of the competition that was clinging around on the funny page at that time. By now the strip had evolved into even flightier flights of fancy, with Woodstock the bird and his relationship with the now biped Snoopy taking up much of the action. The unfunny Sally/Linus love angle was just beginning to be milked for all it was worth as well, and of course everyone's favorite dykes Peppermint Patty and Marcie were beginning to take over the strip much to the detrement of the earlier, long-standing characters who were soon to get the ax. And although there are "signs" of an intellectual air of snoot that rears its ugly rear at times, these are a zillion times better'n many of those eighties/nineties PEANUTS which looked and read as if Schulz was undergoing a severe case of mental breakdown. Much better'n I would have given 'em credit for, perhaps because there might have still been a little bitta gasoline left not only in the strip, but in Schulz even at this late date.


tim ellison said...

The most Nancy-like strip in this one Peanuts anthology we have is this early one with Patty and Violet. Violet asks Patty what this box is that she has and Patty tells her that it's a hope chest. Violet asks what you do with it and Patty tells her that you keep things in it for when you'll be married. Violet asks her what she has in it and in the last frame she opens it and says, "Charlie Brown" and it turns out that Charlie Brown was inside of it. He smiles at Violet.

I like the earlier strips a lot more and find the later ones to be grueling and annoying a lot, though I suppose there is some insight to them sometimes. (Chris, you didn't like that song "Slow Down" on the Homestead and Wolfe album with that line about how "Snoopy still tries to analyze man?")

Also: "Nobody Wants to Play With Rose" is great!

So, you don't think the Funeral of Art track is the real thing? I haven't heard Tranceformer; what does it sound like?

Is that song "Freeze Frame" or whatever it was called on the album? I only ever saw a video that JB had of LMO doing this. That was a good one, I think!

Christopher said...

The early PEANUTS are definitely the best. Personally I prefer the mid-fifties ones the most, though if I feel rich enough I might dish out some money for the current series of hardbound reprints of strips done in the days when Charlie Brown's head was bigger than the rest of his body. Later on, after the strip became "larger than life," the quality certainly went the Stones and Babs Streisand, Schulz might have figured that he's already reached his pinnacle so why not dish out subpar strips the undiscerning fans'll gobble up anyway. Maybe that's why I'm surprised that I like those mid-seventies ones I reviewed could be because they're still in the four-panel mode rather'n shorter like they became in the eighties, or maybe Schulz stil "had it" that late in the game, but who knows?

I like "Nobody Wants to Play With Rose" too. It sounds as if some record producer, thinking he could make LMO a "star," had him record this with a "professional" group as a demo to shop around!!! And I still think the Funeral of Art track on TRANCEFORMER is a "phony"...the FOA tracks I heard were very 1969 art rock-oriented with a distinct British flare, perhaps thanks to the proto-Krozier-esque singer. And yes, "Freeze Frame" is on TRANCEFORMER but I thought you knew that!

Christopher said...

One thing I caught in STAY WITH IT, SNOOPY and failed to mention in my post was a comic where Snoopy asks Woodstock what his philosophy of life is, and after the bird chirps his usual relay of specs Snoopy tells us that it's "Small is Beautiful." On the surface this may seem either obscure or irrelevant, but when you realize that this was also the philosophy of British economist E. F. Schumacher, things become even stranger...

Schumacher was a fellow who, back in the seventies, seemed to border on a variety of socio-political stratums, on one hand influencing the Green Party/movement as well as Jimmy Carter (!) yet on the other the "hard-right" (excepting free markets, it seems) NEW OXFORD REVIEW and none other than Edgar Breau! The Green left would naturally find favor with Schumacher for his ecological concerns and sense of "limitedness" ("small" = "beautiful") while the right (not counting the freewheeling libertarians at REASON who seem to dismiss any source of freedom outside their narrow ahd increasingly hippy definitions and once "dissed" on Schumacher for some seemingly pro-Mao comment he made that was probably taken out of context as they seem to do to suit their own purposes) went big for his Chestertonian liberal-yet-proto-conservative reassertation of culture and family. And while the left seemed uncomfortable with Schumacher's Catholicism and the right his perhaps anti-free-market beliefs, they may have joined together on a few of Schumacher's ideas such as "distributism," a form of limited capitalism with worker-owned companies yet with a penchant for profits albeit pared down profits next to a more open economic setup. I dunno exactly what to make of all of this, but it does sound like a different, perhaps refreshing approach or at least attempt at a workable solution and I will not dismiss it out-of-hand like way too many seem to do. But finding this "Small is Beautiful" philosophy (and thus a reference to Schumacher) mentioned in a popular comic strip is kinda mind-boggling esp. when its PEANUTS...really!