Last weekend I attempted to post one of these top six highlights o' my current existence thingies (everything from books/music/video/whaddeva...) for your reading pleasure (and so you can emulate me and my vastly superior to whatever sorta existence mode you may be attuned to lifestyle) and guess what happened! The entire blogger system was "Down For Maintenence" for what was supposed to have been for one hour but turned out to be an entire weekend! And because of this unforseeable roadblack my entire post was lost for all eternity and if you think I was frothing-at-the-mouth MAD about such an injustice as this you are right! And if you think I cried my eyeballs out and stamped my feet like the spoiled brat that I am you'd STILL be in the know. And if you think I'd hissyfit myself until my face is blue all over this gross miscarriage of justice and never post another blog, well you'd be wrong about that one anyway but nice try. So here's an attempt to re-create the Great Lost Blog To Comm Post (with a few additional changes here/there), and if you think this one ain't quite up-to-snuff as previous endeavors, well that's MY problem!
1) Les Rallizes Denudes-early material found on 67 ET LIVE (disc one of the red-covered Les Rallizes Denudes box set), ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RALLIZES 69-79 BOX SET, BOX ONE (discs one and two) and LIVE BOX SET, BOX ONE (discs one and two)
Even a Helen Keller could tell you that Les Rallizes Denudes are perhaps my fave archival proto-punk dig of the decade. I guess it is due to this Japanese group consisting of a bunch of guys who had the same early-underground Velvets-spawned high energy approach to my listening parameters that such acts as Rocket From the Tombs and MX-80 Sound held for me a quarter-century back, and given how I consider this a bone-bared accomplishment (at least with regards to my own strident set of musical tastes) that's something they should be applauded for! And since kicks really are getting harder to find in the underground rock sphere o' things these days (even harder than they were fifteen/twenty years back when I could have deluded myself that Husker Du or the Jesus and Marychain were just as bared-wire intense as the groups they were taking their lead from!), and given my undying curiousity for the oft-forgotten sounds of Undergroundus Americanus (and Undergroundus Rock as the International Youth Language) that played a fuzzed-out soundtrack somewhere between the days of NUGGETS capitulation and Sex Pistols garage aesthetics revivalism, a group like Les Rallizes Denudes fits in perfectly with my much battered rockism sensibilities. And the fact that group leader Mizutani Takashi actually kept the ball rolling for almost thirty years (all the while keeping a hefty underground/mysterioso image a la Rocket et. al. that has yet to be revealed) ought to count for SOMETHING especially in these gulcherally-deprived times.
As you woulda guessed by now, Les Rallizes Denudes' earliest material satiates me and my aforementioned horse-blindered rockism tastes the most. Don't get me wrong, I do like Les Rallizes' late-seventies onwards blare but I must admit that a lotta it has a strange feeling of "sameness" that you can get from any number of current Japanese acts playing the post-Rallizes circuit over in the Land of the Rising Drone. And this sameness (coupled with better live recording techniques?) has made it rather hard for me to listen through the nineties-era MIZUTANI box set, the Arthur Doyle tracks included. I will make it through that set eventually but for now I find myself going back to the band's late-sixties/early-seventies recordings when they really were an underground force (with a suave "foreign" approach to the Amerigan Velvets/Stooges energies that be which might have actually fooled a few into thinking these fellows were French as their name would've implied?) that really stands the test of time especially when lined up against the reams of subpar hippie spew that these guys were up against!
I dunno if the 67 ET LIVE is exactly the same as the legendary 67-69 STUDIO ET LIVE disc which was legitimately released for a few seconds around 1990 since it doesn't contain that great "Smoking Cigarette Blues" track also found on a live 2-LP set one can pick up with relative ease for the moment, but whatever it is, it sure woulda made a splended release back then on a par with the sole album by Le Stelle Di Mario Schifano (or, as Brad Kohler calls 'em, Stella Dora Breadsticks!) as far as recordings showing a direct link to the first Velvets pop-art rock package goes. Starting off with a live freakout reputedly from their first gig early '68 (which sounds like the second Family Dog Tribal Stomp in '66 when Quicksilver, the Oxford Circle and Big Brother and the Holding Company let the feedback fly and war whoops wail), 67 ET LIVE is a pretty good selection not only of what the early Rallizes were up to during one of the hotter decades in recent memory, but just what a strong presence underground/punk concerns could have even in an area which didn't seem totally conduit to such expression (mainly Japan). Excepting the goofy "group sound"-ish pop tune (complete with kazoo) and perhaps the track that kinda sounds like an early version of Bob Segar's "Turn The Page" (which I gotta admit I like, both the Denudes track and the Segar original) this is pretty wild sorta early-Velvets meets Dave Allen hard rock with proper amts. of fuzz drone and feedback to satisfy even the most demanding tastes such as my own. From the six-oh scree of "My Conviction" to the vast array of dark live rumblings, I can't see any up-and-center reader of this blog NOT being in possession of these, unless you're the kinda guy reading this to see what nasty things I have to say about you, natch!
Maybe easier to find are those Illegal Alien CD-R box sets where early Rallizes gunch appears alongsides various seventies/eighties must-have performances, such as the ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RALLIZES set where discs one and two feature more of their early material and tuneage which didn't always make it even to the middle portion of the seventies. You not only get TWO live takes of "My Conviction" here, but some live material undoubtedly from '68 or so that coulda fit snugly onto 67 ET LIVE but didn't quite make it (sounding so close to EPI-period Velvets live improvs I'm sure some sneak coulda passed 'em off as just that!) not to mention some psychedelic raves that remind me of some mythical recently-unearthered Deviants romps straight from the stage of UFO! Of particular interest is this live numbah (title in Japanese) with the simplest of riffs which reminds me of a typical sixties garage band trying to figure out how to play "Sweet Sister Ray"...it's that tantalyzing!
LIVE starts off with a 38:12 '73 side so attuned to the pulsebeat of proto-punk mania (with interesting Stooges/Hawkwind similarities) that I'm surprised Skydog hasn't released this one as a single disc already! Even "My Conviction" gets revamped here almost sounding more in-tune with the early-seventies rather'n 1967, and I don't care what you think but this one already's got my best live album of 2005 vote even if it is thirty-plus years old! The '74 ELECTRIC PURE LAND disc which follows also has the pre-whatziz pretty much intact, though signs of the mid/late-seventies Rallizes sound are beginning to be discerned, and naturally that's another era and post entirely.
2) MAD IN ORBIT (paperback published by Signet, 1958, 1959, 1962)
My mother came into the room a few weeks back with a whole buncha old MAD paperbacks that she bought for me at some antique shop! And if you don't think I was surprised you're wrong as usual...y'see, when I was barely into the double-digits the LAST thing mater wanted me reading was MAD because she thought them books were contributing to my general sense of sassiness towards not only her, but aw-thor-oh-tee in general! Not only that, but MAD was dulling my mental capabilities to the point where I didn't wanna be just another cog in "society" and thus was letting myself slip and slide in school as a result! And I'll bet your bottom dollar that if I went in the wayback machine and asked my mother or yore whether or not she'd be buying her only son MAD paperbacks in the new millenium Old Mother would definitely say "nada!" So I guess that mommy has softened her stance o'er the years with regards to such brain-warping reading for her progeny, or maybe she feels that I'm so far gone that what harm could they do for an already doofed-out dullard such as myself. Probably the latter, which I don't know whether to take as an insult or not!
True I already had these paperbacks (and multiple copies as well) for years tucked away in a big box in my closet, but it was nice reading 'em all again. And my favorite of the batch just hadda've been MAD IN ORBIT which I recall reading for the first time in the parking lot of the Hickory Plaza long before it morphed into the Hermitage Towne Plaza a good two decades back. (Mom and Jillery were shopping for clothes at the now-defunct Little Guys and Dolls store while I was osmosing the book...when I write my memoirs it'll be pertinent things such as this that get the space at the cost of boring historical fact!) Anyway, MAD IN ORBIT remains a top collection of early-MAD wit not only for the snat writing and that excellent airbrushed art that was soon to be nixed (much of it done by Joe Orlando), but for such faves as the First Aid Booklet spoof that had me rolling in the aisles (actually the back seat) upon first reading and the inclusion of two comic strip-oriented articles, both including NANCY which as you'd already know makes for a fine and dandy reading experience if I do say so myself. And I also gotta admit that I really like the Space Age-y cover painting by the late Kelly Freas, a contributor to MAD who seems to have been all but forgotten in the wake of the later-on Norman Mingo depictions of the grinning Alfred E. Neuman (and by the way, do you know of people who prefer the work of Freas to Mingo? I know of one guy who swears by Freas and totally hates Mingo's portrayal of the gap-toothed one, and although I like both equally even though Freas seemed to have slipped in style during his later MAD days I can see the anti-Mingoite's point o' view rather clearly).
3) Can-UNLIMITED EDITION CD (Spoon Germany)
If you really want any more proof of my inbred dooficity, just gander upon THIS slab o' information that I should've kept hidden 'n under the covers lest I look even more foolish than some of you think I might be. My first exposure to the music of Can after years of import bin hopping came via a copy of the LIMITED EDITION one-LP version of this disque (the one with the white mice romping through a dollhouse on the cover) that I picked up at a flea market back in 1980. I didn't quite get into the sounds contained therein (well, I was told this was NOT the album to start with, but it only cost a buck!) and ended up selling the thing on my next trek to Cleveland Heights. Anyway, as even more proof of my budding mental laxity I also passed on copies of Elliot Murphy and Insect Trust albums that were available in that batch! Can you believe what a stoop I coulda been at the time (and beyond)???
4) THE FAUST TAPES CD (Recommended, England)
Another 'un I didn't quite "get into" (to be tres seventies about it) until Bill Shute sorta shamed me into it like he usually used to do. I never really cozied up to Faust at the time they were still alive and releasing albums one could only find in the most discerning of import bins...methinks that I was perhaps way too preoccupied with too much avant garde/progressive fluff at the time to have paid attention, and besides there were so many things vying for my attention (and moolah) back then so how would I know that Faust weren't anything akin to the new Jade Warrior anyway? Fortunately time has at least put it all into proper (?) perspective, with this collage of rock, art, jazz and just plain ol' noise landscaping coming off as the perfect distillation of that German aesthetic of art, discipline and post-apocalypse noise, with the right dash of punk added to krautify the thing, of course.
5) CREEM-1975/1976 ISSUES
Whenever I get the hankerin' for real rock & roll scribing sans the soggy tones of the current crop of weak-kneed "critics" best known for their oh-so-attuned political acumen as opposed to rocking out (a term Patrick Amory associates with the minds of pre-pubescent rocksters, but I'll take a twelve-year-old ideal of rock music over that of an aesthete anyday!), I always reach for a class mid-seventies rock read whether it be an old standby like BACK DOOR MAN or DENIM DELINQUENT, or naturally a classic issue of CREEM. Any dunce can tell you that the early/mid-seventies were a Golden Age for gonzo rock journalism and a time when you could find something of worth and might even in a college newspaper hack-out record review, and for the best of the batch you couldn't do much better'n CREEM unless you happen to be lucky enough to own the entire run of TEENAGE WASTELAND GAZETTE, which I doubt you are.
The issues in question today come from the final days of the Bangs regime (which finally capitulated somewhere early 1977, with the mag turning into a pretty pale shell of its former self as a result), and although you can detect a bitta the shape of things to come even during these last moments of Bangs-exertion (mostly in the later '76 issues, but that's probably because the music scene was changing), I find even the most commercially-oriented CREEM of the day vastly superior to the mag's more, er, arena-rock-putsch issues when even articles on punk rock upstarts (such as Richard Reigel's lackluster Dead Boys piece) seemed drab and certainly not befitting of the music that CREEM had helped to boost in the first place. (I could also blame the inclusion of new writers like Rick Johnson who weren't exactly up to snuff with regards to a pure CREEM anti-aesthetic, but even some of his scribings on the likes of the Gizmos
etc. come up to the usual standards.) The mid-seventies seemed like a better time for CREEM to continue on their quest to expose the better moments of the psychedelic past while hyping whatever good that was happening on the music scene (krautrock, nascent garage band frothings...), and although the mag could still surprise once in awhile even throughout their nadir in the eighties (a nadir reached by the hiring of one Chuck Eddy) as their Heavy Metal Special will attest to, its these mid-seventies mags that continue to capture my ever-palapitating heart and maybe yours too.
Highlights include the various Peter Laughner (a man seen as perhaps CREEM's shining hope as early as '75) offerings from his Television live '75 ROCK-A-RAMA entry to his classic review of Lou Reed's CONEY ISLAND BABY (notorious for detailing a number of tres-decadent and downright disturbing images which I am told never happened!). By the way, his Rocket From the Tombs crony Craig Bell can be spotted not only contributing a 'RAMA review of Eno's "Seven Deadly Finns" single but a negative writeup of The Sadistic Mika Band which he did in order to impress the powers that be...although he liked the thing he gave 'em the thumbs down in order to look hep! Not only that but you get the expected heaping helpings of Lester Bangs including his attempts to become the new Weberman to one Lou Reed amongst scores or still enjoyable reviews and other fluff. It's so fun reading these mags again, because I remember just how much articles like Richard Meltzer's review of the Dictators at the Miss All-Bare Ameriga pageant shocked/impressed me at the time, and how even such small asides as Robot Hull referring to Canadian hard rockers (and good ones at that!) Thundermug's manager as "Big Jugs" were typically tasteless guffaws of the past that still make it even in the present. Even fashion editor (and future Studio 54 effete even though she wrote how much she hated disco!) Lisa Robinson shines with her 11/75 ELEGANZA column on "The New Velvet Underground" regarding the New York bands and their black/white aesthetics, also notable for a mention of hubby Richard's '69 attempt at an avant-rock offering called Man Ray (who have been mentioned on/off in various scribings throughout the realm) who by Robinson's brief namedrop seem like the neatest attempt at a Velvets/EPI wall of starkness, at least until the advent of no wave.
6) HOT WACKS BOOK XV, THE LAST WACKS (book)
Yes, I've reviewed this one already in an earlier "High Six" five months ago, but as you already know I love these clandestine recordings with an unhealthy PASSION that maybe is a bit hard to describe. Bootlegs have always held a fascination for me, or at least they have ever since I first saw a binfulla them at White Wing records in Niles Ohio back in 1975, and since the entire concept of there being more'n just the limited assortment of music by your fave recording artists available on these clandestine discs was certainly appealing to a soul such as I, what would you expect anyway? And besides, given that the vast majority of these paper-insert elpees were actually affordable to a depression-era wage-earning kid such as myself (this was before the days of deluxe covered European bootlegs costing upwards of $20 a pop) you could bet they were soon to become a not big but rather decent part of my record (and later on CD) collection maybe just because of the fact that they were bootlegs and the mere thought of 'em made pure as the driven snow me feel like a regular Boris Badenov!
Anyway the HOT WACKS mags and books sure came in handy as far as sorting all this stuff out, and although the whole bootleg scene has been pretty much doused by legal decisions, police busts and maybe the lack of good, bootlable material at least this discography helps you with regards to exactly what there was in the boot world as well as what you've missed out on. And frankly, this book is the next best thing to bin-browsing with all of those Trademark of Quality, Wizardo and Melvin platters to once again acknowledge (and wonder exactly what they sounded like...though even experience will tell you that the sound quality guides given aren't that much of a help either!). It's also great for reacquainting yourself with legendary boot labels such as Skydog, as well as the obscure and puzzling of which there are many entries. If you (like me) always wondered about such weird, semi-legit companies such as Joker International (which released amongst their exploito, opera and easy-listening discs such rock classics as BEATLES/STONES LIVE, three volumes of Bob Dylan's A RARE BATCH OF LITTLE WHITE WONDER, a series of Hendrix jams that perhaps should have remained in the can and LED ZEPPELIN LIVE), well they're all included here as well. There were about five addendums to this massive "goodbye" issued before the HOW WACKS empire collapsed, but even if you weren't part of the same cadre who used to espy such exotic booty in the basements of outta the way record shops you might get a kick outta this book as well.
Wednesday, October 05, 2005