NOTE OF HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE
Twenty years ago on this date the big tornado hit the Northeast Ohio/Western Pennsylvania area. In case anyone out there cares to document what I was doing that evening when this deadly storm hit (a little after six thirty in our area) for historical purposes, I was dubbing a live recording of the Japanese group Friction (featuring Rek, ex-Teenage Jesus and the Jerks and Contortions) for one Byron Coley, a tape I'm sure he'll never remember. As the weather began looking rather strange (weird grey/calm overcast right before the power went out, I left the television set on in order to mark the storm's passage and the reception was terrible) I noted my oncoming fears in the letter I was writing to Coley as the carnage progressed. Naturally, I had to re-record the tape because of the power outage, but I'm glad I and just about everyone I know came out of it unscathed except for the hail storm causing damage to automobiles and patio roof. I know you could care less, but a hundred years from now this will make a good footnote to an aural implant biography! NEXT POST: what I was doing when I first heard VON LMO.
Tuesday, May 31, 2005
NOTE OF HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE
Sunday, May 29, 2005
Just clearing out some of the disques that've made their way to my door before the really important stuff makes its way here, whatever that may be...
Trad Gras Och Stenar-MORS MORS; GARDET 12.6.70 (Subliminal Sounds)
I must say that in all honesty I gotta feel sorry for them Swedes. Not only do they hafta live in a climate so frigid that when it hits fifty degrees Fahrenheit they declare a national holiday but these sauna-sitters are consistently getting pegged as being a buncha pervos along with their Norwegian and not-so-great Danish neighbors (and y'know, these scandies have for years been thought of as being sooooo "open-minded" about s-x and up-to-date enough to consider marriage a lasting relationship between a man and his bovine, plus I understand there are a lotta nervous kiddies over there who flinch at the thought of attending casting calls for certain "movies")! And to top all of that off these folk were for YEARS considered the ultimate dumbiods to hit these Amerigan shores at least until the Polish grabbed the torch from their frostbit paws! (Remnants of the "dumb Swede" syndrome could be felt for years on end and not only in forties flicks featuring El Brendel but even the funny pages, as anyone who can remember Mr. Svenson, the janitor who gave Mr. Weatherbee so much grief in the ARCHIE comic strips and books can attest to.) Besides, what can you make of a nation that has produced such an abject weenie of a "rock & roll" aficionado as one Hineylick Olausson??? So, let's just say that the Swedes might have what you'd call an image problem, but it's not like wopadagos such as I can talk!
But when it comes to that selfsame rock & roll, well Sweden has come up with a few winners and I'm not talking Bo Hansson and his LORD OF THE RINGS album either (which used to linger in the record section of the local library years on end...) or even Union Carbide Productions who seemed like some great hope back in the late-eighties yet lost my attention early on. I'm not even talking the Nomads who seemed like one of those rockets outta nowhere with a brilliant debut and then little to back itself up on. Maybe the Leather Nun count even though they, like their big influence Genesis P'Utrid, seemed more or less geared for shock value but as far as bands that you could say represent the best that Swedish rock of the past has given us there's always...
Drat, I just can't think of any bands to come outta that scandie nation I could rank against the best the rest of the world has to offer! Not even these Trad Gras Och Stenar guys, a bunch who throughout the past four or so years have risen to the top of hipster underground rock consciousness almost in the same fashion that THE MUSIC OF BULGARIA album was the "must-hear" in-crowd disc of 1965 everyone from Paul Simon to David Crosby was hailing as the innovative breakthrough of the ages. (Lester Bangs later on admitted to sharing the same sympathies in case you want me to inject a bit of underground credo into this mix.) Whatever, this Swede bunch did at least have some true hard-edged scronk on the ball back in 1967 when they were traipsing around as Parson Sound, an avant-rock batch that seemed to mix the best moments of British and San Franciscan psychedelia with a hunka Terry Riley added for good measure (and a 2-CD set exists to prove it!), but as the decade lingered on and the name began to change with every release (International Harvester, Harvester then Trad Gras...) the music went from brilliant shards of almost Amon Duul-ish thud-quality to post-denouement visions of the Swedish wilderness almost like their West Coast counterparts and their trek from space cadets to Old West jamming-on-the-front-porch freaks.
Actually there is some music of worth here with the extended riffage showing some remnants of a Riley influence, but for the most part I wouldn't recommend these guys even with their unique take on Rolling Stones chestnuts and extended rave instrumentals. They're nice but nice in that if you only hear it once that's good enough for you. Nothing special and nothing really punk as in what a lotta their compatriots were doing in Germany at the same time, and with money getting to be such a tight commodity nowadays it's not like you should be throwing it around on recordings that are good but not quite enveloping. Now, some mp3 clips I've heard via other endeavors sound a lot more promising and their other reissues just might fill the bill, but for now I'm going to stick with Parson Sound and toss these Trad Gras Och Stenar disques in the back of my collection with those Pharoah Sanders late-seventies schmoozeathons and various other platters I keep telling myself I'll dig out in play in a year or so's time, but never do get around to 'em anyway.
The Doors-OTHER VOICES; FULL CIRCLE
For some strange reason I decided to pick up this bogus-legality CD-R of the final two post-Morrison Doors albums. I dunno why...perhaps I had the same curiosity about them I had when I was a kid flipping through the record bins seeing these platters just wondering what they sounded like (as I did with most of the albums I'd chance upon back then), or maybe it was the same infatuation I had looking at the dead rabbit down the street that the neighborhood kids held a mock funeral for. Maybe it was reading that "Keeping Up With Youth" article by Pamela Swift that appeared in the local paper that said the Doors were doing a very good job without Jim Morrison and his "watch me drop my knickers" act (after all these years, that line still sticks in my mind!). Who knows, it could be the review of OTHER VOICES in THE ROLLING STONE BOOK OF PRETENTIOUS AND OVERWROUGHT RECORD REVIEWS (actually a great read for "the masters" but for little else) which compared "Tightrope Ride" to the Velvets and Them. Of course I got it because I'm just grasping at straws, looking for an interesting new/old musical hook to latch my psyche onto and this CD-R seemed like the closest thing possible. Boy, I'm getting desperate in my old age, ain't I?
Desperate enough that I actually plunked down hard-begged moolah on this stinker I woulda laughed at only five/ten/twenty years back. Really, this is a load of lackluster musical musings that only proves that while Jim Morrison was self-absorbed and narcissic and pretty much part and parcel to the whole post-hippie crackup PROBLEM, the Morrison-less Doors were merely the dirt being tossed on the Youth Culture grave. Only one worthie in the bunch, and that's the stable cover of "Good Rockin' Tonight" which at least echoes back to Morrison's early rockabilly roots even if he ain't around anymore (well, these guys hadda feast on something!). However, if you wanna hear mock Mexican-accented vocals singing about mosquitoes botherin' you to the point of not being able to eat your burrito sung by a buncha guys who may have looked daring with those winsome poses in 1967 but come off 100% silly in '72, this is the disque for you!
The Seeds-THE SEEDS/A WEB OF SOUND (GNP Crescendo)
There've been so many Seeds repackages over the years that it's hard to keep track of 'em, but this one (an original 1987 issue?) at least collects the first two classic Seeds platters on one silver dollar which suits me fine given this ain't just another collection of previously-released material tossed out at you with little regards for song selection or packaging. First disc's one of the all-time killer debuts not only featuring the hit "Pushin' Too Hard" but the rest of the legendary near-clashes and outright surprises like "No Escape," "Can't Seem To Make You Mine" and "Try To Understand" all done with the great Sky Saxon hiccuppy snarl. Nice but I still prefer followup A WEB OF SOUND not only for its darker image and daring for a "teenybopper" group dope and girls nudge-nudge, but for the 14:27 closer "Up In Her Room" which, as Lenny Kaye surmised, was more or less the result of a buncha guys riffing and building on a theme in a way that mirrored their Los Angeles punk rock lifestyles. Nothing wrong with that as opposed to the Velvet Underground developing and honing "Sister Ray" as an avant garde classical composer would have written a piece to be performed in concert, because since the finished product is so similar in many ways (as well as different in many others, but we won't go into that now!) its futile to argue. I'm sure you've owned these classics in a variety of forms for years now, but if not a good time to get ahold of 'em is always in the here and now!
Tony Conrad with Faust-OUTSIDE THE DREAM SYNDICATE 2-CD SET
Additional CD has those EP tracks that I missed out on back in the early-nineties plus the complete take of "From the Side of Woman and Mankind" which I assume is just another, longer version of "From the Side of Man and Womankind" proving these avant gardists have a strange sense of humor. Actually, these post-Lamonte Young drones make for fine background reading sounds or just plain adventures in sonic endurance, depending on how bad that throbbing in your head is. Interesting note...the first tape of this I ever got was via Philip Milstein of WHAT GOES ON/Pep Lester fame way back in 1984, the flipside of the tape resplendent with a recording of none other than another Milstein fave, the Lester "Roadhog" Moran LIVE FROM JOHNNY MACK BROWN HIGH SCHOOL album! Talk about a clash of civilizations!!!
Nico with John Cale-LIVE IN NEW YORK CBGB'S 2-CD SET
Do you ever get hold of a record or tape or CD or something along those lines only to end up losing it in the massive collection you've accumulated over the past few millenniums? If so, you and I have a similar problem (I still can't find my reissue of the Scott Morgan debut single I lost about five years ago!). Howevah, I am sometimes lucky enough to FIND said lost items such as this, a 2-CD bootleg of Nico and John Cale appearing at that famed New York eatery CBGB during the height of the avant-punk in 1979. Accompanied by the acoustic guitar of Ashra/Agitation Free member Lutz Ulbricht who at that time was the pillow plunge nearest and dearest to Nico's heart (and he was over 15 as well!), Nico's grande return to New York and in the middle of a New York renaissance of sorts was yet another much-needed boost to an already-soaring scene that would plunge within a few short years. Not only that, but from what I've heard these shows with Cale have been declared classic by more than a few people who tend to declare such shows classic so maybe that's another reason to latch onto these non-CD-R silver platters as soon as you can! Because of the place and time I can appreciate this set showing Cale at his most romantic and Nico at her gothest, and it's undoubtedly because I was alive and aware of this music, this scene and what it meant to more people than myself at the time that the pow'r still strikes me and not in some phony "nostalgic" way either! Sound quality's a little shaky (but improved by the CD digital format), the audience is high and rowdy (ie. some bozo asks Nico if she'd do an album with Patti Smith!) and although there are only two track from THE MARBLE INDEX that show up (def. highpoint in history of world, somewhere between the atom bomb and DOBIE GILLIS) I say it's worth paying the usual ripoff prices if you tend to go for this sorta sway like I do in months with the letter "r" innit.
An aside: Nico was rather active in New York during this period in time before she moved on to a more lucrative alternative/dark European mode in the eighties (recording a series of unexciting discs in the process), at one time even having a band with none other than new flavor of the week Cheetah Chrome that actually performed two gigs, one at "performance space" the Squat Theater and the other at none other than oldtimey Nico watering hole Max's Kansas City. You would've thunk that somebody out there'd've recorded these shows for posterity thinking that twenty-five years down the line (meaning NOW) somebody (me!) might like to hear such historically-meaningful sounds (and never mind "now"...I wanted to hear it real bad "then" as well!) but it looks as if nobody's come front and forward with any tapes, CDs, vinyl etc. for anyone's perusal. In fact, given that the opening act fot the Max's gig was none other than yet-another-flavor-of-the-week bunch (mainly Mission of Burma, a group who I have no use for given not only their proto-alternative image but the people in blogland who like them, with perhaps the exception of their backing Boston hero Dan Ireton for a Dredd Foole and the Din record) you'd think that maybe even they would have mentioned this grouping in a series of interviews but if so they've sure kept quiet with regards to sharing the bill with such a class act. Anyway, if someone wants to make a mint off my precious dinero all they hafta do is release a lotta those rotting tapes of seventies New York underground groups both known and not, and hopefully before it all crumbles to dust like too many other past gulcheral heights (silent movies come to mind) have o'er the years.
Suicide-ATTEMPTED: LIVE AT MAX'S KANSAS CITY 1980 CD
Whereas CBGB might have seemed like a trendy underground rock Bowery mission for self-proclaimed toughs once the mid-seventies fashionable cool led to late-seventies punk wavedom, Max's Kansas City seemed to remain the futuristic vision noteworthies such as Lillian Roxon hailed it as during the final moments of the previous decade when all the "underground" hadda bank itself on were the Velvet Underground and Stooges. Or at least that's the impression I got reading rock mags at the time...y'see, to me the Ramones and Blondie and their "ilk" were part of a more commercial punquey and perhaps less-enthralling underground camp while on the other hand the Max's groups were the ones developed from the sixties spiritual drive of the Velvets and Silver Apples with acts such Walter Steding, the Contortions and Pere Ubu presenting the same kinda visions one probably could have found in the same place ten years prior. Of course, this was before I discovered that the same lowbrows that played one club played the other and vicey-versey and that in fact those lowbrows were pretty good once I got off my preconditioned high-horse, but I guess that was just me as a kid, looking for signs and evidence and facts and nuances w/regards to trends, interpreting them all wrong most of the time (or so it seemed).
Anyhoo, this is yet another classic live platter from the infamous Suicide, a professionally recorded one to boot documenting a 1980 gig at Max's probably during the winter and at what I believe was their last appearance at that infamous dive (the Alan Vega Band would appear there well into their final summer if I'm not mistaken, at a time when the change in New York underground attitude was beginning to be noticed). And while that New York Rock was perhaps beginning to change from its early-seventies roots at this time so were Suicide...in some ways a lot of the dark energy and terror that soaked up their earlier recordings (at least the ones released to the public whether legally or not) is gone, yet these guys are a far way from some of the soft schmooze they were going to be dishing out at us once the late-eighties got into gear. And yeah, I know that Suicide's less-enthralling second album had just been released at the time and that the Revega duo were on their way to becoming well-groomed product for the tail end of the new wave experience, but this show (like a variety of live tapes of the day cluttering up my collection) still has some of the mad brain-twist and avant garde pounce that drew fans like flies only two years earlier. With a lotta the recent live exhumations fighting it out for your dollar it might be wise to put this one primo on your want list, though to be honest and all I wouldn't exactly rush out and buy it especially if you need the money for a Chinese Food fix or somethin'.
Posted by Christopher Stigliano at 2:50 PM
Friday, May 27, 2005
Gotta admit that I never used to be a big fan of the rockabilly format despite all beliefs to the contrary (y'know, "That Chris is so hepcat to what's up-and-front that ya just know he'd be a fan and follower of the slappin' bass heavy droolin' sounds of that greasy Southern Fried bop-a-roo!"). Heck, even I would think I'd be a rockabilly fanatic if I could somehow split myself into two separate beings a la Duo Damsel and meet myself face-to-face, and I do recall back when I was breakin' into the double digits being a fan and fancier of that late-fifties rock & rollin' music which I thought hit me between the ears so neatly especially when compared to such "relevant" pre-teen wonders of the day as "Bless the Beasts and Children" not to mention that all-time weeper "Things Get a Little Easier (Once You Understand)," but frankly, the stuff never really did drill a hole through my brain like other forms of sound patterns have o'er the years. If I were to analyze myself to find out why this is so I'd probably blame it on the oversaturation of hyped-up, overblown fifties nostalgia that made classmates do Fonzie impressions just like they were doing W. C. Fields only a year earlier. Not to mention the reams of lame rockabilly bar bands that started cropping up in the eighties while the real deal had fight it out with makeup-caked pseudo glam bands for precious stage space at the local watering holes. Lez just say that with all the Velvets-rock and six-oh reissues that I was immersing myself in at the time (before I became a bit more discriminating with regards to my personal tastes), who had time for fifties rock anyway?
Well, Bill Shute shamed me into it, but I started listening to rockabilly in the middle of the eighties and guess what? I gotta admit that I liked its primitive clang just as much as I liked that same primitivism that went into some 1959 garage band's living-room single or the cheap gutter feel that made those mid-seventies demos by a whole slew of punk upstarts just as mesmeric as I thought it would be. So yeah, rockabilly was in fact A LOT MORE than just a buncha guys primming and preening in front of the mirror as they put their mascara on, and it took a buncha basement-level, low-fidelity, rural-recorded disques recorded by some tooth-rotting teenage rebels to PROVE TO ME THE ERROR OF MY WAY!!!
Anyway, Norton's just released two shiny disques fulla the rockabilly sound and even a guy like myself who can get "eh!" about such things is amazed as just how much these mini-platters continue to zap me outta the everyday doldrums as much as the hard-proof stuff and I don't necessarily mean Jack Daniels! As everyone with a gourd knows, Billy Miller and Miriam Linna (not only the rec biz moguls behind Norton but the powers-that-be what created KICKS, perhaps the only fanzine outside of BLACK TO COMM and maybe FORCED EXPOSURE to fly in the face of the prevalent eighties winds of happyhappy sameness and post-hippie confusion) have been championing these wild and raw crazed rockabilly sounds while everyone else out there was more content studying Freddie Mercury's eyeliner technique, and you can bet that by the time ol' Fred discovered rockabilly and milked it to the hilt via "Crazy Little Thing Called Love," Billy and Miriam were MILES AHEAD OF EVERYBODY listening to, buying up, categorizing and generally osmosing the whole wild fifties scene that all of us heard about but few really delved into.
WILDCAT JAMBOREE's but one platter that just bust outta the Norton stable that's bound to offend Stray Cats fans at fifty paces! (At least those guys were better off playing Roxy Music riffs in the Bloodless Pharoahs, which is where Setzer and Company shoulda stayed if you ask me!) Anyway, the rarities that make up the recordings on this brand-spanking-new release come from a radio show that eminated from Corinth Mississippi called THE DIXIELAND JAMBOREE and amongst the country fiddlers and cowboy yodelers you'd expect on such a program came a whole slewwa unknown (until now) rockabillers doing everything from their own hiccuppy originals to snat takes of the hits of the day. You may wanna hear such "artists" as Curtis Hoback and the Stardusters rock 'n' roll up "Tom Dooley" and maybe you don't (and if not, why are you reading this in the first place other'n you were looking for WRETCHED ANAL NEWS AND VIEWS and came across this 'un by mistake), but whatever you may think about it all I gotta 'fess up to enjoying this late-fifties Deep South rockin' record (er, CEE-DEE) more than I woulda thought had I heard it two throbbin' decades back. The live announcements and ads that make up a hefty portion of this shiny tea coaster only add to the class feeling of it all, giving you the mind-warping impression that it's once again the late-fifties which you hope will NEVER end, and heck, even the rockers get to perform some actual commercial jingles as well. You certainly wouldn't want to miss Wayne Pratt and the Rockers singin' about the 1959 Rambler, would ya? (Believe me, the song is better than the car!) As for me, for added impact I pretended that I was a teenager listenin' to this being broadcast "live" in some murky Mississippi bedroom wishin' I could be front and center for it all and it "worked out fine," just like it "works" when I watch LEAVE IT TO BEAVER or a Monogram film on tee-vee and pretend I'm watching it on some UHF station way back in the sainted early-sixties! And maybe it works BETTER because there aren't any Vagisil ads to shock you back to the present day, and besides the reception is soooooo good...
KICKSVILLE VOL. 3 is also pretty rockasnatable even though it doesn't have that big book insert to lure you in like JAMBOREE has. I guess Billy and Miriam were hoping that the pic of Mamie Van Doren and some toothless chimp onna cover would reel in the suckers, er, rockabilly fans in so why bother (as for me, I can take or leave Mamie, but that chimpanzee...). Still, B&M must be commended for gathering up this set of previously unissued rockabilly demos taken from the original rare acetates featuring tuneage from such better-known (at least in such circles) "practitioners of the form" as Benny Joy and Ral Donner not to mention the such soon-NOT-to-be obscurities as Jimmy Reagan and Ronnie Clark who do the hillybilly thing even rawer than anyone but the standard Norton Catalog maniac would have believed. Big surprise here's the inclusion of the first ever recording that future surf magnate Gary Usher made, he doing the primitive rock thing long before his discovery of baggies! Best of all, this ain't the well-crafted and molded rockabilly music that seemed to represent the form for the more "adventerous" of the new wave gang back in 1982 but the hard-edged, rough-sounding real deal that for some strange reasons made the heavy-makeup girls of the day who caked more of the pancake on'n Tina Louise does go "ewwwwwwwww!" Great spazz (bordering on early garage/punk secretions dating from about the same stratum) abounds here, and personally I wouldn't be surprised if a good deal of you readers end up shunning the sound because it wobbles a crazy line worse than Ken Shimamoto on an all-night bender! But I can sure take it because it appeals to me and on more'n the usual ten levels of music awareness that always grabbed my gullet o'er the past few decades! 'n what more can I say'n it's great southern country-cool rockin' mania with a swagger so neat that I'm sure Gene Vincent himself woulda approved, and why not considering Johnny Clark's on-target version of "Be-Bop-A-Lula!"
Pretty good rockabillin' you got there B&M...hope you keep up the good work until the well really runs dry!
Posted by Christopher Stigliano at 5:45 PM
Wednesday, May 25, 2005
deepop presents: FREESTYLE JAZZ - Post Bop, Extraterrestial Swing & Hybrid Blues
CBGB’S LOUNGE • 313 BOWERY 212-677-0455
$10 for entire evening • Students w/picture I.D. $5 • Series veterans $3
SUNDAY MAY 29
7pm - Mary Halvorsen & Jessica Pavone
8pm - Bruce Eisenbeil, Brian Osborne, Scott Robinson & Katsu Itakura
9pm - DARCY JAMES ARGUE'S SECRET SOCIETY featuring: Erica von Kleist, Peter Van Huffel, Joel Frahm, Sam Sadigursky, Ed Renz, Ingrid Jensen, Dave Rezek, John Chudoba, Tom Goehring, Dave Smith, Marshall Gilkes, Mike Fahie,
Mark Patterson, Max Siegel, Sebastian Noelle, Mike Holober, Fraser Hollins, Jon Wikan
WEDNESDAY JUNE 1
8pm - Curtis Hasselbring, Mary Halvorsen, Mat Maneri, Satoshi Takeishi
9pm - David Crowell, Simon Lott, Mike Chiavaro, Grey McMurray, Ed Rosenberg
10pm - Eastern Seaboard w/ Brent Bagwell, Seth Nanaa & Jordan Schranz
SUNDAY JUNE 5
7pm: Joe Giardullo, Albey Balgochian, Rich Rosenthal & Dee Pop
8pm - Trevor Watts & Jamie Harris Duo
9pm: Steve Lehman, Tyshawn Sorey, Matt Brewer, Chris Dingham, Jonathan Finlayson
WEDNESDAY JUNE 8
7pm - Eyal Maoz String Band w/Dana Leong, Shanir Blumenkranz, Alan Grubner, Mathias, Kunzil
8pm - Ayelet Rose Group
9pm - Richard Huntley, Cameron Brown & Emil Hess
10pm - Ben Gerstein Collective: Ben Gerstein, Jacob Sacks, Jacob Garchik, David Binney, Eivind Opsvik, Thomas Morgan, Dan Weiss
SUNDAY JUNE 12
7pm - Henry Warner Trio
8pm - Briggan Krauss Group
9pm - Dennis Gonzalez + Ze Eduardo Unit (Ze Eduardo - bass / Jesus Santandreu - tenor / Sonia “Little B” Cabrita - drums / Dennis Gonzalez - trumpet, Elsa Roch - oboe)
WEDNESDAY JUNE 15
8pm - Industrial Jazz Group (L.A.)
9pm - Solar
10pm - Ronnie Burrage Trio feat: Salim Washington, Ed Schuller, Rob Shepps
11pm - Gold Sparkle Trio
SUNDAY JUNE 19
7:00pm Mary Halvorson, Jessica Pavone, Brian Chase, Matt Welch, Jason Cady, Matt Bauder, Brett Deschenes
9pm - Billy Bang
SUNDAY JUNE 26
7pm - David Aaron’s Short Memory
8pm - Andrew Lamb,Tom Abbs, Warren Smith
9pm - Eddie Gale Trio
WEDNESDAY JULY 6
7pm - William Hooker, Dave Soldier, Sabir Mateen, Ras Moche
8pm - Freedomland
9pm - Mostly Others Do the Killing
SUNDAY JULY 10
7pm - Roy Campbell, Steve Swell, Klaus Kugel, Hill Greene
8pm - Tyshawn Sorey New Quartet: Liberty Ellman, Jacam Manricks, Carlo DeRosa
9pm - Tyshawn Sorey's Obliquity: Russ Lossing, Loren Stillman, Carlo DeRosa
SUNDAY JULY 17
7pm - Hanuman Sextet
8pm - Other Dimensions in Music (2 sets)
SUNDAY JULY 24
7pm - Dan DeChellis, Reuban Radding, Dee Pop
8pm - Amanda Monaco Quartet
9pm - Daniel Carter, Francos Grillot, Chris Forbes, Matt Lavelle, Federico Ughi
SUNDAY JULY 31 - the season finale with....
Dee Pop, Susan Alcorn, Tatsuya Nakatani, Joe Giardullo, Audrey Chen, Daniel Carter, Dom Minasi
Roy Campbell, Hayes Greenfield, Daniel Levin, Ursel Schlict, Kyoko Mitura, Matana Roberts, Louie Belogenis, Kevin Norton, Joe Morris
Posted by Christopher Stigliano at 1:33 PM
Tuesday, May 24, 2005
CD-R REVIEW...DANGER, LIVE AT TRUDE HELLER'S, NEW YORK CITY, SPRING 1976?
Lord knows that I don't exactly want this weblog to turn into the LOU RONE FAN CLUB even though he probably would want it to (!) and I don't mind writing about such well-deserving and oft-ignored iconoclastic rockers as he one bit, but I just got hold of something which I would in fact call an honest-to-goodness ROSETTA STONE-esque artyfact of the first (second?, third???) punkadelic explosion that I think you might want to know about if in fact you do want to know about such things (and really. who reading this blog wouldn't unless they happened to be some snivelling politically-pious enemy of all that is good and rockin'!). For although it may not be "much" (given what the entire universe encompasses), it's more'n "enough" when you're talkin' the development of an important late seventies musical cataclysm that I'm sure more than a few of you "rock fans" at least give some lip service to in order to look "hip" and "be with it"...c'mon, don't I have any real readers out there anymore???
Anyway, Danger was their name and if the truth be known they might have been one of the first truly no wave bands extant unless you count the early Suicide as well as that 1974/75 version of Kongress when it only consisted of Otto von Ruggins and VON LMO. Danger existed 'round '75?/'76? right at the time the New York scene was starting to break out of its local enclaves and sputter its "message" all across garageland USA and consisted of a 'twixt Cross and Kongress Rone on guitar, none-other-than Rudolph Grey on bass and the elusive "Dukes" on free-play drums. They only played one gig at New York nightspot Trude Heller's in spring '76 if Rone remembers correctly, and believe-it-or-not but that very night the group was introduced by his uncle or his grandfather or something like that who said they all was a buncha bums! (I could be wrong, and if I am I'm sure Lou will come swooping down on me!) Whatever, this Danger bunch were a complete mystery, not only to me but I'm sure to just about everyone else who continues documenting what was going on in New York back in those sainted times. Rudolph Grey never mentioned them, not even in that interview he did with whatzizname that was published in BLACK TO COMM #16 so ya kinda get the sneakin' suspicion that, due to Grey's conspicuous silence there's something here in his past he wants to hide from us fanatics eager to know about every burp and utterance that came outta the man's creative energy. Dunno why this would be, because if anything Danger were more or less a precursor to his own Red Transistor a year-and-a-half later and you'd think its very existence would be something Grey would proudly slap on his resume alongsides Transistor and the Blue Humans and his book and all that stuff ya love him for. But who knows...maybe the planets were outta synch or something and he didn't feel something right in his bones about Danger so he decided to cut it outta his memory like people try to cut out the time they whizzed their pants in church or threw up in sex education class, but as we all know we can never do that no matter how hard we try.
's funny, for a group like Danger it seems that a lotta things went against 'em which does figure. First off nobody knows about 'em, secondly they only played one gig and thirdly, that gig hadda take place at the trendy hangout Trude Heller's if you can believe that. Actually Trude Heller's might've been just the right place for such an auspicious appearance...one of the mid-sixties swinging places to be in Manhattan (in fact, none other than garage band heroes the Remains had a residency there at one time and on the Christmas edition of THE ED SULLIVAN SHOW [actually the 12/26 program] they appeared live and kicking along with the Trude Heller Dancers shakin' their bangles away!), by the mid-seventies this cabaret had begun booking some of the hot flash New York City upstarts such as Patti Smith, Cherry Vanilla and the Mumps. Why they never continued booking the En Why underground (the place coulda easily become another CBGB or Max's) we'll never know, but at least there was this other outlet for underground rock available in the burgh if only for a relatively short time. Anyway, the presence of such an avant act as Danger at what must have seemed like a more restrained setting must've unsettled more'n a few bar hoppers in the crowd!
Rone's guitar is perfectly spazz and almost Grey-esque white-noise in spots while on one more structured (if you can say that!) number he's back to a more heavy metal inclination. Proving himself a master of feedback, the squeals soar while drummer Dukes does his best to emulate Sunny Murray, and believe-you-me this guy could stand up against some of the better avant jazz drummers not only then but now and hold his own. (Kinda reminds me of one Dee Pop whom I've written much about in earlier posts and who must be the real thing since he actually plays with flesh and blood avant jazz guys and doesn't just jerk around with the form like way too many Milford Graves wannabes out there!) Rudolph Grey proves he's a natural musician who, although he says he can't play a note, does some good free playing (reminiscent of Jimmy Garrison, and on bass guitar!) as well as even standard (and IN TUNE) thud on the more metallic number. (And I think that's Rone doing the singing...if only he sang into the microphone mebbee we could hear him.) 's funny, but DNA used to consider themselves to be playing "fake" heavy metal and in fact this book I have on Japanese underground rock also referred to the early DNA sound as being HM, but Danger, like VON LMO (or even Crozier-period Kongress) could truly be considered a merger of the no wave and heavy metal idioms and such a good one at that that I'm sure the smarter minds at the old CREEM (back when they were raving about Amon Duul I and Big Brother and the Holding Company in pure metallic ecstasy) would agree with this assessment. That is...heavy metal as a big stinking mess that's more noise (and perhaps the true spiritual forefather of Voi Vod/Metallica/Slayer...) and less melody. TRANSLATION: if you think this is going to be sweetness and light YOU'VE GOT ANOTHER THOUGHT COMIN'!
Pretty powerful stuff this Danger music, and for the most part the quality is good enough that it transcends the usual "bootleg" mudvibe and might even be released in some form one of these days if we're lucky enough, that is. Only problem that I know of regarding this Danger live tape is that only sixteen minutes survive...y'see Rone lent it to Grey to take with him to Europe and when he came back most of it had CECIL TAYLOR taped over it. At least we have this "fragment" (and at least technology might be able to restore the tape to its original form if all that talk about retrieving taped-over recordings I've heard about is true) but whatever, this group, this recording and (especially) this DATE (a good year before Mars began playing out) is an important watermark as far as the development of no wave goes, and maybe once somebody actually sits down and writes a massive book-length history of the no wave it'll be things like this that'll finally come to light because really, it was this sorta quick-flash one-off beyond obscure chicanery that sorta made the no wave ideal so appealing, along with such other lower Manhattan rarities as George Scott's Jack Ruby and those three people who performed that impromptu gig using the Troggs' gear at Max's sometime in 1978 that even had Reg Presley gapejawed in amazement over what the true meaning of punk rock really is!
Posted by Christopher Stigliano at 8:10 PM
Sunday, May 22, 2005
NEW UND NOTEWORTHY
Good news kids, Lou Rone's ALONE CD is finally out and available on the Gulcher label, an occurance which is a total surprise not only for me but for you and probably Lou for all we know considering how there were all of these OTHER Gulcher releases being planned for years (the Gynecologists come to mind) and somehow Rone's stepped up to the front of the line ahead of 'em all! Their loss and Lou's gain I guess, but anyway if you want to hear some pretty good guitar histronics without any of the big macho preening that usually comes with the territory give this winner a try. Lou played all of the instruments on it which doesn't make him Todd Rundgren but makes him Lou Rone, and even the heavy metal yob told me he'd take this one over Queensryche anyday! And given yobbo's sometimes questionable tastes that's saying something! Yob, please don't hurt me! But whatever you do, DON'T read the press release that accompanies this mid-oh-oh's masterpiece...you'll gag!
While combing the web for some interesting reading late last night, I came across this article originally printed in THE WIRE way back in '96 that you Amon Duul fans (of both the I and II variety) would certainly want to absorb into your cranial chasms. I've been playing my Captain Trip reissues of the early-seventies Amon Duul discs a lot lately (after YEARS of thinking them subpar to the bands' first three releases which remain all-time kraut classics at least as far as a BLACK/BLOG TO COMM anti-aesthetic goes) and find that they sound better than even I had remembered/given them credit for way back when...now, I didn't quite cozy up to CARNIVAL IN BABYLON when I first got it via the once-sainted cutout rack during the summer of 1976 (I remember telling one of the football coaches at school about this disc when he espied me carrying it around, and coach told me that in his history class he was going to be teaching about Babylon and this platter might come in handy...I had the sneaking suspicion that he was ribbing me but really, wouldn't you like to have been in a classroom fulla gawky and goofy kids being inundated with "CID In Uruk"???) but I find its percussive clang meets late-sixties San Fran aesthetics w/o the hippie drivel rather inspiring especially considering how stuck-in-neutral this disque could have been. Sorta like the best experimental moments of those early sprawling Amon Duul II 2-LP sets condensed into a single album with the highlights emphasized and accentuated. WOLF CITY remains a fave after almost thirty years perhaps because it squooshes the best ADII moments even more, adding a hefty amt. of mid-Amerigan trash aesthetics into the mix for added effect. It's (dare-I-say?) pleasant hearing the group swing from Wagnerian monster movie rock ("Surrounded By The Stars") to Psychedelic Mystical Indian Music Drone long after anyone cared ("Wie Der Wind Am Ende Einer Strasse") and then to Velvet/Stooges proto/pseudo-punk (the title track and "Jailhouse Frog") especially with that frighteningly ethereal Choir Organ sound permeating the platter (read the article linked above for more on this strange and legendary instrument). I hated VIVE LA TRANCE when I first latched onto that one not only because it seemed so straightforward but I guess my music tastes were beginning to change, but at this point I can understand perfectly even if it is lower keyed than the others. TRANCE still has that strange mid-eastern spirit-conjuring sound (for wont of a better term) filtered through early-seventies German Youth rebellion and although it ain't as "punk" as I would like it to be, it sure does have more than a few moments. LIVE IN LONDON's the weirdie, one of those bootleg-sounding budget discs that the UK labels seemed to love tossing out there and only there leaving us import freaks inna USA having to pay three times as much for a cheapie that would cost our UK counterparts only 1.99 pounds! (King Crimson's EARTHBOUND, a particulary muddy cassette recording that Island somehow felt worthy of issue, also comes to mind.) As a document, it serves its (dubious?) purpose as far as these things go showing Germany's answer to the Jefferson Airplane (or was it the Grateful Dead...or the Velvet Underground?) to be even rawer and more energetic even without the studio gimmickry and guest musicians culled from the cream of krautrock. If you're hot on getting hold of some of these discs (as well as other Amon Duul platters, both of the I and II variety), try Gulcher or even Slippytown...they got PLENTY!
On a related note (considering the obviously similarities between the above aggregate and this batch, and I don't just mean the same record label!), I got hold of a CD of Hawkwind's HALL OF THE MOUNTAIN GRILL album, not only because of Garry Sperrazza!'s review in THE SHAKIN' STREET GAZETTE, but because I still don't have a working turntable and wanted to give this one a spin after umpteen years of neglect. This was the first Hawkwind album I owned and got rid of soon after back in 1979 before purchasing another copy long after, and although HALL doesn't have much of the zip, zing and zest of the earlier Hawkwind albums let alone Robert Calvert's masterpiece (and clandestine Hawkwind concept) CAPTAIN LOCKHEED AND THE STARFIGHTERS only a short year away it still has the typical Hawkwind space-sway whether they be re-re-rehashing psychedelia ("The Psychedelic Warlords") or romping full-force into Mick Farren's crunch vision ("Lost Johnny"). As for "Paradox," I don't think this one sounds as "Detroit" as Sperrazza! would lead us to believe despite some classic drone riffs, but given how (I believe) Dave Brock wore an MC5 t-shirt in the insert of QUARK STRANGENESS AND CHARM maybe this was a homage of sorts? Not the best place to start (as I found out), but still a disque to get hold of (along with WARRIOR ON THE EDGE OF TIME) after you hear the biggies (including the later-on Charisma-period QUARK which happens to be one of my all-time faves).
For a fun chuckle you may want to read this videotape want list! Unfortunately this selection of boob tube must-haves is not all-inclusive, since Mr. Goubler left off such desperately-needed items not only he but we could sure use a viewing of such as the infamous "coming out" episode of STAR TREK, HAGGIS BAGGIS (Lindsay Hutton's Scottish gourmet cooking program, formerly known as THE BRITISH BOILER), HINMAN'S HEROES (war prisoner blogger Jay Hinman and compatriates save Occupied Europe from "boring" Hampton Grease Band MUSIC TO EAT albums and "no talent" VON LMO and Plastic People recordings despite the best efforts of Col. Chris and Sgt. Shute), and of course that lovable old chestnut DAVEY THE BUSH KANGAROO so if anyone can help him...
Another interesting aside...Maureen O'Hara's new autobio is reportedly a big hoot with lotsa REVEALING facts, including a stalking John Ford, a crotch-scratching Sam Peckinpah, and strangest of all the time she was working in Australia and caught none other than co-stars PETER LAWFORD and RICHARD BOONE entering into a BOY BROTHEL, not saying a word about it to anybody in order to be nicey-nice, but Boone still treated her like a jerk which only goes to show you just how ungrateful some Hollywood Big Names (like certain rock fandom-types) can be! Lemme tell you, I'll never watch another episode of MEDIC, HAVE GUN WILL TRAVEL, THE RICHARD BOONE SHOW or HECK RAMSEY without thinking back to this probably true anecdote. (As for Lawford...I believe it about him...being married to a Kennedy would drive ANYBODY insane!) The big question remains...are boy brothels legal in Australia (or were they in 1952 when this film was made?) and if so, were any of the Australian "males" we know and "love" somehow involved with/employed by these houses of ill repute? Kinda gives the term "junior achievement" a totally new meaning, and perhaps there are some men out there who, because of their sordid past, undoubtedly should have a little shame in 'em, if you know what I mean.
Posted by Christopher Stigliano at 2:31 PM
Friday, May 20, 2005
BOOK REVIEW: ALL YESTERDAYS' PARTIES, THE VELVET UNDERGROUND IN PRINT 1966-1971, EDITED BY CLINTON HEYLIN (Da Capo, 2005)
Noted rock historian Billy Miller once made a comment to the effect that although only a few thousand copies of the first Velvet Underground album were sold upon first release way back in 1967, everyone who bought a copy formed a band. And they all suck! Well, in some ways I can see where Mr. Miller is coming from, but in all honesty this all-enveloping suckiness didn't begin until long after the Velvet Underground became a lionized-in-death entity and the myth-making became a little more mythical to the point of abject nausea. Let's face it, things might have seemed a little strange back in the mid-seventies when pundits were more than anxious to brand the Velvets as being the forbearer of glam/glitter rock (thanks to some carrot top who loved to brandish their name in interviews thankfully upping sales of the ARCHETYPES budget WHITE LIGHT/WHITE HEAT reissue in the process), but when the praise turned into dirge some time in the eighties when more than a few self-anointed Mr. Knowitalls were more than glad to honor the group's memory with alternative-minded printed glop (y'know..."there would be no REM or Psychedelic Furs or any modern rock if these guys hadn't paved the way...") the entire mystique and memory had been shot to ribbons thanks to the wankings of a number of precocious airheads trying to tie themselves into the entire Velvet legend with shallow insight and poor writing abilities. And, let me confess, even I tended to fall into this chasm of seemingly-blind Velvets worship just as much as my brethren-in-fanzine-arms had, so don't tell me that I can't get self-deprecating at times!
But at least I first discovered the Velvet Underground's existence in 1972 while browsing the shopping mall record bins, and lo and behold actually purchased their wares four years later as a sound-hungry mid-teen (hey readers, try to guess how old I am now!), so you can say that I've avoided falling into the eighties alternative trap of faint Velvets praise fandom by at least a good five years. And I know this may be hard for you who seem to have a perpetual mad-on about me, but try anyway and give me a little credit for doing something years before and not behind the rest of this supposed rock underground hipster "movement" we're all supposed to agree with even this late in the game! Anyway, enough of that, and let me talk about this new collection of writings, critiques, screeds and unmitigated fanblab passing as honest review that was believe-it-or-not written DURING the Velvets' lifespan (or directly afterwards) mostlly by a buncha people who knew enough to see the light as it first shone, and it's a doozy of a book too. It's sure great reading about the best band to come out of the Golden Age of Underground Rock written during the Golden Age of Rock Criticism, and in many ways the two twains compliment each other like yin and yang, Laurel and Hardy or Leopold and Loeb...really, I haven't had this much fun reading about the Velvets since the seventies and eighties when I'd seek out even the meagerest of mentions even if it was a passing aside in some art magazine...just as long as I got the bared-wire essence of it all.
Anyway, ALL YESTERDAYS' PARTIES was compiled and edited (with the customary foreword and discographical/song listings more or less incomplete) by one Clinton Heylin, a man whom some of you know I do NOT have a great love, affinity or even liking for due to his refusal to return some rarities I lent him during the creation of his FROM THE VELVETS TO THE VOIDOIDS tome some fifteen or so years back. Jay Hinman thinks I'm a crybaby pantywaist for lashing out at people (not necessarily those who refused me promotional items) who've done me wrong and I guess that's fitting for a guy whom I assume loves to take the Gandhi route to total enlightenment at every possible moment, but frankly I'm a bloke who more or less subscribes to the wise words of one Edward W. Haskell who once said "Yeah, but you'd think different if you've been pushed around as much as I've been!" And pushed around (in many ways which I haven't even begun to bore you readers with) is just what Mr. Heylin has done with me, even to the point where I've withdrawn into my own li'l cocoon more than I should have ever since the rabid eighties turned into the crusty nineties just because of this bum, but hey, I guess that's my problem as the astute Imants Krumins once said. Let's just say that all that the perpetraitor in question did in connection with this project was gather up the writings and add his own two-cents in at the opening and end, and leave it at that. And once I get beyond the utter indignation of it all, yeah this is a fine chairside collection of smart VU critiques that enlightens me about as much as all those trips to the microfilm room of certain libraries wanting to know about it all hook, line and paragraph did in days gone by.
Manic Velvet Underground fanatics beware...this collection ain't exactly complete, or as complete as you and I would like it to be. Jonathan Richman wouldn't give permission to use his utterly magnificent and typically 1967 CRAWDADDY-styled free-thought assessments that Boston's VIBRATIONS actually had the wherewithal to publish back then, although Richman's "made it" chart showing the Velvets approaching the lofty heights of the Beatles (and God) by the year of 1970 (while the competition flounders into oblivion two years prior) thankfully pops up to show us what could (and should?) have been. Other little yet potent bits such as an extremely negative review of WHITE LIGHT/WHITE HEAT from STEREO REVIEW as well as a paragraph about how someone-or-other (an aficionado of experimental music of some reputed standing) thought that "Sister Ray" surpassed all avant garde "serious" music by the way the song devolved from three to two to one to NO chords (astute Velvets chronologers can surely tell me just where this piece originally appeared...haven't read it since 1979 and I do recall it appearing in some digest-sized and otherwise stodgy classical music periodical) should be here but isn't. Still, what we do get is just what we've needed ever since the Velvet spark struck you, hopefully before it struck just about every other current practitioner of the form whom you just have the sneaking suspicion woulda run away to the warm and open arms of the Sandpipers had they been exposed to the Velvets' full blast back in 1966. But I'm just guessing...I don't want to incur the wrath of Wimpblog Nation do I???
Old faves reappear...Wayne McGuire's classic critique of WHITE LIGHT/WHITE HEAT (which surpasses the usual limitations of standard album reviews not only of then but now, almost taking on the basis for the formation of a secret, cult-like religion surrounding the band) appears, with Mel Lyman's "Declaration of Creation" fortunately not lopped off unlike its presentation in the uniformly substandard Velvet Underground anthology that was making the rounds a few years back...if you want to know the difference between smart talk and dunce talk just compare these two tomes, the latter of which proves just how nauseating the Velvets as a save-the-world aggregate tied in with every precocious cause on the face of the earth can be! (And what's most surprising about the inclusion of this article is not that it pops up in this anthology---that was expected---but in the opening where Heylin actually shows his ignorance about the title of the piece, "The Boston Sound," and what it is a reference to...not the Hallucinations or Remains or even Van Morrison as Heylin surmises but the MGM-hyped "BOSSTOWN SOUND" attempt at creating an East Coast San Fran scene via the erstwhile New England burgh! In it, McGuire states that the Velvet Underground, although New Yorkers by birth, are the only group who could claim being part and parcel of the Boston Sound only Heylin didn't pick up on this not-so-obscure bit of rock history which is surprising since I thought the guy was smart enough to know at least that!) A whole lotta items I first got hold of via that fanzine-styled Velvet Underground collection of old and new scribings that wafted off from the British Isles sometime in 1992 also appear (featuring rarities that originally popped up in magazines as diverse as CIRCUS and ZIGZAG), as does Lester Bangs' 1971 eulogy from CREEM which fittingly closes the book. (Actually, Patti Smith's poem that opened the Velvet's 1996 induction into the Rock and Roll [inc.] Hall of Fame rounds things out, and you'd'a thunk that mebbee she wrote something about 'em while they were still around because I woulda gone for that much more'n her latterday reconstituted hippie self!) However, it's the new-to-my-eyeballs material that got me hot and rarin' to go and (coupled with a particularly searing 1980 20+-minute live track from Les Rallizes Denudes that captured more of the early-Velvet aura than most alternative groups think they do) zoned me into a true sonic-distortion-cum-good reading high that one rarely gets w/o the use of back alley pharmaceuticals, not that I would know...
Not too much on the very early days that I would like to know EVERYTHING about, though it's fun reading noted NEW YORK TIMES film critic Bosley Crowther put his two-cents in, and frankly that's all his opinion was worth! (An earlier TIMES writer covering the January '66 psychiatrists' convention held at Delmonico's refers to the Velvets' music as "a combination of rock & roll and Egyptian belly dance music" which does make more sense than some of the drivel being tossed at the band during those days.) Given the advanced nature of the Velvets you would imagine that most of the coverage of their early Cale days would devolve into freak show musings, though the likes of McGuire, CRAWDADDY's own Sandy Pearlman and scant others tend to pull everything back in orbit with their decidedly non-gimmick opines that we sure could have used a lot more of if only to judge the band by the standards of the higher minds of the day as opposed to the more laid-back who unfortunately tried monopolizing the rock press at the time. (And it's too bad that Heylin didn't comb the non-English speaking world for their take on the Velvets phenomena like he should've. Given how much they influenced the krautrock and general jamz scene in Europe there must have been a plethora of interesting articles presented over there! Perhaps some enterprising Aryan will do a volume two?)
Naturally the post-Cale days (especially by the time these guys hit the oft-lauded summer-long gig at Max's Kansas City) tend to take up a good hunk of this book, and although I've been one guy who has followed that standard storyline about how John Cale (the actual "leader" of the Velvet Underground no matter how much Lou Reed doth protest, and it even says so on page four!) was the group's real guiding light and how Doug Yule, for all his suburban innocence, was merely a backing musician glorified to co-leader, I gotta admit that reading about the later days has renewed my original lost faith in them. For you see, (as stated on page 179) even the new Velvets sounded just as early-Velvets as all those other groups who had feasted upon the corpse of the Cale-period, so even with the jettisoning of the avant garde qualities the group was still as avant as the competition who claimed to take it all from the loin of Johnny Viola. And there still are some real surprises even this late in the information game to be found here and there...take this line I got from a review of an early Max's gig written by one Richard Nusser that appeared in THE VILLAGE VOICE July 2, 1970..."They have influenced many groups, including the Beatles, the Stones and the Airplane (who lifted one of Maureen Tucker's drum riffs line for line and used it on one of their biggest singles.)" Certainly fodder for the comment box, dontcha think??? I mean, I knew about the Stones using various Velvet moves..."Stray Cat Blues" and a lot of their material up to and including EXILE ON MAIN STREET being the strongest cases in point, and Mike Snider mentioned how parts of THE WHITE ALBUM were obviously Velvet-inspired when I pondered such a question to him well over a decade back (maybe the Plastic Ono Band had a Velvets influence if various McGuire and Bangsian comments could be taken prima-facie), but the Velvets influencing none other than the Jefferson Airplane, a ragtag buncha hippies right out of the heart of commercial San Francisco??? Big Brother and the Holding Company maybe, but I never did see the Airplane having any Velvet moves even if some have compared Papa John Creach's violin playing on BARK to Cale's early viola grinds. Anyway, what do you think??? (Then again, I never studied their music dilligently or in fact heard much of it outside of SURREALISTIC PILLOW, so it's not like I'm the big expert or anything that I'm sure a qualified mind like Lenny Kaye [who appears here and on more than one occasion] undoubtedly is.) Any documented proof (or at least off-the-top musings) as to just how much Gracie and company were swiping ideas from the Velvets? Your (smart) thoughts appreciated.
Needless to say, ALL YESTERDAYS' PARTIES is a wondrous, brain-probing and inspiring book that reminds me of just how fun it was not only listening to but reading about and even seeing the Velvet Underground's name sublimely dropped back in those just-learning-about-it-all days because they seemed like a concept just custom made for me and my general doofus suburbanitis and still do all these years later (thoughts of reading a review of Roxy Music's COUNTRY LIFE in STONE with the reference to the Velvets wallowing in decadence still stick in my mind thirty years later, but that's the kinda guy I am). I dunno if you are or were as maniacal about this stuff as I remain after all these years, but this tome for our times makes for some pretty fine reading especially after getting your fill of a lotta modern-day rock critiques that seem to have about as much in common with the originators of the form (Bangs, Meltzer, McGuire...) as a lotta the new drone rock has with the Velvets, mainly an nth-generation, watered down variation of the original. And frankly, I've had more than enough of that these past twentysome years!
A cool aside: although not in this book for obvious reasons (mainly being written almost five years after Lou left thus being well outside the natural life of the band), I just came across a great history/personal recollection of the Velvets written by the infamous and late Lance Loud, created for the pages of none other than a pre-heavy metal HIT PARADER (June, 1975) back when the mag was swinging between hard rock ruminations and Wayne County reports. Now I'm a fellow who never was what you'd call a fan or follower of Mr. Loud...in fact, there wasn't even any PBS station on in this area when AN AMERICAN FAMILY first popped up on the tee-vee screens and Lance announced his gayness to the world while his parents were on the brink of divorce. (I did catch part of an episode years later when there was a PBS station on in our area and the show was finally being broadcast here, if only to hopefully get a glimpse of Loud's group the Mumps [or actually, Loudness], but the show was so boring that I quickly clicked the thing off even though I guess Lance's group did perform "Brown Sugar" sometime in the program's run.) In fact, I never even was a fan of Loud when he was hanging out with Andy Warhol (an old phone pal) and writing his own column for CIRCUS singing the praises of Suzi Quatro and Sparks...he just seemed like what I thought he would be after reading about him and his show (one-dimensional?) so why bother? In fact, despite being punky-looking enough and recording with Earle Mankey at Brothers Studio (getting pictured with group in an "what ever happened to..." story NEWSWEEK actually printed!), the Mumps just seemed like a tired rehash of watered-down Kinks British pop moves complete with the elements of early Sparks I didn't quite like tossed in, and even though old friend and Mump himself Kristian Hoffman was soon to be seen hanging out with the no wavers and appearing on James White albums (then a sign of real hipstitude!) I didn't really wanna waste my time on Loud when I could be wasting it on something good. But after reading this well-gestated and superbly-written piece I must admit I gotta change my opinion on the guy at least a little smidgie bit.
Now, it's true that Loud was a big Velvet Underground fan (read page xxii for an excerpt of a piece he wrote on the Velvets' 1968 Shrine Auditorium gig, the one that Lester Bangs wrote about regarding "Sweet Rock & Roll," for GADFLY) and in fact the teenaged variation used to call up Andy Warhol long-distance (and collect!) daily to talk about what he did at Max's that evening which proves the guy had some smarts upstairs especially being stuck in upper-class suburban Los Angeles, a place I never thought would cozy up to the Velvets' New York gutter image. And believe-it-or-leave-it, but his Velvets history is pretty on-target as far as gushing up all those pre-alternative feelings about the band as some truly guiding force (via the budget bin) in music history. Pretty smart talk here as well, from how the Velvets created heavy metal (not that surprising considering how the metal and punk genres seemed to intertwine until at least stadium rock separated the downers from the opiates) and how their mid-seventies spawn (in Loud's own words, Bowie, Roxy, BOC and Sparks!) were trying in varying degrees to recreate the Velvets' oeuvre make this not just another one of your Velvets tossouts but a history lesson told to you first hand. Surprisingly intelligent writing as well, and from a guy I didn't know had it in him given how vacuous he always seemed to be. Another interesting tidbit was his tale of reciting "The Gift" in drama class complete with a well-hidden cleaver that sliced open a handy tomato at the right moment, Loud earning a dismal grade despite his well-thought out attention grabber! If you can, try to search this article out (I'm surprised none of those earlier Velvet article "bootleg" anthologies never got hold of this) because it's more than worth the time and effort and best of all reads a whole lot better'n than the patented list of lame posturing that has been going on ever since the secret has been REVEALED,
Posted by Christopher Stigliano at 2:06 PM
Saturday, May 14, 2005
CONTRACTUAL OBLIGATION POST!
You may think that living the life of a top-notch, well-respected fanzine editor/blogger is one huge hunkering brimming bowl of cherries, but in reality, what may seem like one long glorious trip to the uninformed can really get you down. I mean, look at all those freebie recordings that a person like myself is inundated with day in and day out from people whose only goal in life seems to be for me to tell people what I think of whatever product the plunk down in front of me...and lemme tell you that getting bogged down listening to CDs that you didn't even pay for can get to be quite harrowing at times to the point where even listening to things you actually bought can seem like a less-enthralling experience. (I mean, it's like a porno actor who has to go home after a hard day at work and the wife wants to act romantic!) Anyway, here are four recent promo acquisitions that the people who sent them to me want me to write about so you can read about 'em (and ultimately go on to purchase said disques in question), and please be THANKFUL that SOMEONE (mainly me!) has the inner fortitude to review these CDs and tell you all about 'em so you don't have to!!!
Fearless Leader-GOD BLESS THE DEVIL CD (Gulcher)
Do you remember heavy metal? OK, but do you remember when heavy metal really was heavy metal and not just a buncha hipster put-on poses to present at rock clubs world-wide??? I'm talking heavy metal as in CREEM 1971 and not HIT PARADER 1984 when Andy Secher was trying to bend the metal rules to include total GEEKS who couldn't stand the test of the fickle winds of fate let alone time. I'm talking the HEFTY STUFF which included everything from the early greats/grates (read any Metal Mike Saunders article 'twixt 1971-1976 for the real lowdown) to such underground sidebars as MX-80 Sound and VON LMO as well as eighties wonders like Voi Vod not forgetting a whole lotta HONORABLE MENTIONS from the early-hardcore bunch who had pretty much singlehandedly resurrected the form snatching the banner from the grasps of arena/barbituate overdose wonks to other stompers on underground/punk turf that the oh-so-serious metal fans would never acknowledge. You know, the essentials. Anyway, if you remember heavy metal you just might like these guys. I'm surprised Jay Ward Productions haven't come swooping down on 'em for swiping their name from the Erich Von Stroheim-styled character who appeared on THE BULLWINKLE SHOW, and given these guys' late-eighties stage antix ( a description which I have swiped from Eddie Flowers' Slippytown website, where you can also buy this) you'd'a thunk the lawyers woulda been hot on their tail long ago...read on:
These mofos spent a good chunk of the late 80s and most of the the 90s alienating fans, friends, club owners, alleged punks, avowed hippies, and other hapless California creatures. Who really wants to see a grown man shove Spam up his butt? What idiot wants to witness giant paper-mache penises toppling onto the green lawn of a quiet campus park? Why would anybody like a band that sets fires on the stages of clubs already panicked by local authorities? Smoke bombs, ugly naked men, bad makeup and retarded glam moves, fuzzed-out wah-wah guitar till your ears bleed--these evil-doers have a little bit of everything you don't want. In spite of how repulsive you may find these anti-social creeps, their recordings always burn with the same rockin' intensity as the Stooges, Kiss, the New York Dolls, and similar 70s icons--but crossed with a deep philosophy of stupe that's not unlike the early drool of the Dictators, the Gizmos, and the Angry Samoans.
So as you can see, Fearless Leader aren't exactly the kinda guys who will settle well with the cultured heavy metal clientele you used to see praising the worst aspects of what became of that once-deified sound (Chuck Eddy comes to mind). Naw, these guys are thee metallicus maximus that was proposed to us lowly peons so long ago and quickly shuttled off to some dark corner while Bad Company somehow became the band most synonymous with that soon-to-be loser sound. Fearless Leader remind me of the groups that the likes of BACK DOOR MAN and related critiquers both high (Richard Meltzer) and low (Julie Burchill) would still refer to as "heavy metal" well after the punk marque had been made on the collective minds of blubberbutt Amerigan youth who were eating all this stuff up like so much pop rocks.
Funny ha ha lyrics recall the Angry Samoans which wouldn't surprise me given the time and place, and it could be argued that Fearless Leader might even be yet another of the long line of heavy metal parody bands, only one that the metallurgists caught onto w/regards to their personal tastes being mocked (unlike with, say, Spinal Tap). Either way it might just be something you like. Maybe not, but then again I'm tired of second-guessing you lamebrains out there so why dontcha just FIND OUT FOR YOURSELVES.
Howling Diablos-CAR WASH CD (Alive, available c/o Bomp!)
Wasn't that thrilled by this white blues bunch from Detroit, but then again I've never been one to be totally thrilled by the blues experience thanks to various comments that have been made by Wayne McGuire in his "Aquarian Journal" so maybe I should be disqualified by the taste overseers. If you disagree, write to Commissioner Tosches to seek my reinstation.
Col. Knowledge and the Lickity-Splits-FALL IN LOVE ALL OVER AGAIN WITH... CD
I was hoping that Athens GA would have been burned to the ground after the load of "alternative" gunk the place had dumped on us for well over a quarter-century. Oh yeah, I cozied up to the B-52s when they first came out and seemed like a refreshing change from the stale shape of things going on but that was before their entire schtick became the new modus operandi for the same turdburgers that originally shunned the "new thing" back when it was really new. I'll also admit to liking Pylon (whom I haven't heard in years) and having a strange interest in the Method Actors back when this guitar/drums duo seemed like an interesting concept, but frankly, the whole game seemed to stale out within a relatively short time, which also happened to be the same amt. of time these groups went from college rock fodder to THE SOUNDS OF THE EIGHTIES. I don't even think it was that shuck REM band that did it in for me either...it was just the now-tacky, dry music that came out of what was extremely refreshing in 1972 when Jonathan Richman did it or in 1975 when a slew of New Yorkers looking 1965 in a Ken Russell world seemed like the ultimate in "concepts." The rock coverage that was going on thanks to the once-unique NEW YORK ROCKER didn't help things either other'n for various Coley, Linna and Waller contributions, and let's just say that when things began to look sour, when the soft strains of what became of new wave began to represent the sounds of American Underground, when the ROCKER began slapping pix of Sting on every other cover in a vain attempt to bleach themselves out of existence, I began looking elsewhere (KICKS, hardcore, old fanzines, reissues...) for my rock jollies because the new thing just didn't have ANY swing, or any meaning for that matter.
These Lickety-Split guys do have a bitta the drive and mood to keep anyone going, but the southern soul and falsetto voices keep dragging me back to the days of college radio cuteness and Stiff Records promo shirts. It's still an unfair way to categorize these guys who are very good at what they do, but given their dixified credentials I'm kinda surprised that Col. Bruce Hampton just doesn't come on over and whomp their butts a bit. If you're the type of BLOG TO COMM reader who goes for this then go ahead, don't let me stop you! But as for me, I've heard it a lot before and all it reminds me of is 1983 when I started to realize that the generation of music I so adored was slowly dying out and it was relatively calmer, safer stuff like THIS that was replacing it with an alarming frequency.
The Stoneage Hearts-GUILTY AS SIN CD (Alive)
Dom Mariani (who I once got confused with avant garde jazz guitarist Dom Minasi!) is a bloke from Australia who spent the eighties playing in a group called the Stems or the Petals or the Pistals or the Stamens or something like that, and although I used to see his moniker bantered about in the pages of such illustrious reads as B-SIDE and maybe even BUCKETFULL OF BRAINS I never did get to hear any of his music. Tuff luck for an overgrown kid like me who spent the eighties putting out a fanzine in order to enlighten you ignoramuses out there any maybe cop some free gunch in the meantime, but it wasn't like I was losing any sleep over it. Still, a Mariani record in the mail woulda been a lot nicer than getting all of those Atlantic new music promos!
Well, twenny years later I finally get to hear the wopadago, and it's via his new band the Stoneage Hearts who are recording for the late Greg Shaw of all people which sure seems fitting. The Hearts dish up a good half-hour-plus worth of music here as well, sounding like one of those great mid-sixties downunder groups who put out a whole slew of records that never made it above the equator back then, but their hefty thick wall-of-aaargh! was something that would have been well-suited for people used to rivers running downstream. If you like all those groups that used to get written up in THE LIVING END (btw, did you know that a drunk Dean Mittlehauser called my house all the way from the Cedars Lounge in Youngstown when he was in the US of Whoa asking if I could meet him there to do some hanging out, only I was working a job where I hadda get up at five inna morn and my dad said that I was sleeping so I never even got to speak with the guy!) then you'll probably also like this good retro-vision which ends with a competent take of "Biff Bang Pow" that reminds me of how I hadda rely of cover versions like this back in 1981 because the originals were too expensive even if they were being reissued for us modern kinda fans!
Posted by Christopher Stigliano at 7:48 PM
Saturday, May 07, 2005
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!
Hey gang, guess what TODAY marks the first anniversary of? If you said the shedding of Dave Lang's spiny sheath you'd be wrong...close perhaps but wrong. Naw, today marks the first anniversary of the BLOG TO COMM weblog and if I must say so I gotta admit that this blog certainly isn't a job well done (especially compared with all dem fancy ones that you can look upon these dayze complete w/spiffy graphics and pix an' all that), but I guess for now it'll do considering what a computer un-savvy bloghead I've turned out to be. But hey, it's an occasion to be momentous about, so why not light a candle, an M-80, your bowel-gas etc. in honor of this lame attempt to enlighted you ignoramuses in more ways than one.
Anyway in celebration of such a special and oh-so-gooey occasion I had planned a great huge big stinking post for your non-pleasure crammed to the gills with reviews of every great shard of sonic obscufration (I made that word up, snazzy hunh?) to pass my ears since the last posting but GUESS WHAT??? There hasn't been anything new to pass my ears since the last 'un and reviews of promotional items sent me o'er the past few week (such as the Fearless Leader CD on Gulcher) will have to wait another post or two because I want them to gestate a little more in my psychotropic mind before I commit any opinions to type, me wanting to be fair and all to the quarry in question natch! So for now we'll have to celebrate the seventh with a nice (and informative as usual) li'l review of one of those GOLDEN AGE OF FANZINES rags that I touted as being so much superior to the eighties/nineties ones (y'know, that period in time way-too-many consider the "real" fanzine GA!) in my last posting, which you can read easily by just mousing down the page again since I don't wanna insult your intelligence and link it up like I do everything else on this blog!
Fanzine in question: SHAKIN' STREET GAZETTE #16, a publication which I have written about many times before (scroll down for at least one of my SEVEN reviews of this should-be-legendary fanzoonie) and will continue to write about as long as these rarities make their way to my abode and I feel the need to document them before they're totally lost to history like way too many other things I'd for sure like to know about! For the uninitiated: SSG was a "genzine" (not bound to any specific artist or particular rock style) that came outta the University of Buffalo in En Why State that was edited by future Bomp scribe Gary Sperrazza! (exclamation point mandatory) and contributed to by such seventies fanzine mavericks as Bernard Kugel (future BIG STAR creator and a man deserving of his own posting) and Jymn Parrett of DENIM DELINQUENT fame amongst others. A student-funded publication that was available for FREE on the campus of this great institute of higher learning (everyone else hadda pay!) SSG was a pub that you could say was "erratic" in many ways...some issues (like the Montreal rock special back when pundits were hinting at a Quebecois revolution in pop against the Cleveland onslaught of the Raspberries and their kin) just didn't cut the mustard, while others like the one with the Lester Bangs leftover schpiel on how to be a rock critic which eventually got repro'd in the Jim DeRogatis bio seemed to hit paydirt. It was a chance-y affair but it was still worth it especially if it was a freebie, and in all the mere existence of a SSG was only proof that although the seventies rock scene seemed to be a big dog turd especially compared to all the fun and games that went down a decade earlier, on the pro and fanzine levels the energy was being pumped out full-tilt, or at least it was if you were looking in the right direction.
Anyway, this particular issue of SSG is one that I am especially cherishing as we speak (or shall I say as I type!) because I've been looking for a copy of it for well over 23 years! Yes, this issue of SSG is more or less (perhaps "less" but I don't mind) their "punk rock issue," and for a guy who missed out on a lotta the proto-punk musings and at a time when I sure coulda USED them (especially in the face of the adolescent brain-crunching that was being enforced on me thanks to a load of hapless authority!) I wanted it all the more even if the scribings therein were then bordering on the ten-year past-due mark. Besides, the cover shot (repro'd in an old WHO PUT THE BOMP) was tantalizing enough with these Rocky Horror lips upon the head of a guitar protruding from a grave, tombstone marked with the monikers of such past worthies as the Raiders, Sonics, Shadows of Knight, Standells, Chocolate Watchband, Byrds, Monkees... Hey, even at that late date when NUGGETS consciousness had drilled many hefty inroads into my beanie these groups remained massive mysteries and the more I could find out about 'em the better!
You gotta remember, back in those pre-internet/record-collecting magazine days any shard of garage band information was treated like a clipping from Sky Saxon's beard. Heck, I hardly knew anything about these groups other'n from what I could find via THE MUSIC INDEX, Lillian Roxon or the liner notes to NUGGETS, and I remember the biggest thrill I could get w/regards to these proto-punk bozos back in '79 was jumping for joy if their names popped up in a record collecting guide or a brief rundown concerning some reissue appeared in a mail order catalog! Even Robot Hull's punk history in the post-Bangs CREEM came off like the epic of the year in those rock-laden times, and for a bub who thought he was the ONLY person who knew and cared about this dribble within a 50 mile radius, these li'l things meant a whole hunka LOT amongst the flea market hopping and garage fantasizing that was going on way back when.
To make a short story digressed into a long one even longer, let me just say that the arrival of this particular issue of SSG is one of my long-held rock & roll dreams COME TRUE, on par with finally hearing Rocket From The Tombs' take of "Sonic Reducer" and the 1965 Velvet Underground, not to mention getting hold of copies (real or xeroxed) of all those other seventies fanzines that some people think I babble on too much about. But you say, what exactly is in this SSG I have desired for so long a time? Read on, and you will see (to be cornball about it).
Well unfortunately, unlike what you might be led to believe by looking at the cover's tombstone, there are NOT separate articles on the groups mentioned therein at all, or at least the punkier amongst them. However, there is a great two-page feature on sixties punk written by the once-omnipresent Metal Michael Saunders which deals with these garageoids in question. A fine piece too, which besides reprinting then-crucial album covers we've seen over and over by now (but back in '74 these must've been as awe-inspiring as looking at Stooges sleeves!) tells us in fine Saunders-ese which of the six-ohs were the best-ohs and I must 'fess up to the fact that it looks as if Saunders' opinions here seem about as on-target with regards to dealing with sixties-punk as an important trash aesthetic that even I (who has read this same message over and over again for the past umpteen years) must genuflect in the light of Saunders' genius. Lots of opinions true, but they are opinions you can certainly osmose to being the fine mid-Amerigan slob you just hafta be listening to the Standells over and over again year after year especially when there are those all-important MR. ED reruns you should be watching. And it's revelatory too...here's but one interesting factoid re. the Thirteenth Floor Elevators post-Rusk State Hospital and Saunders' experience of their live appearances:
"Look, it's like, uh, suppose ya saw The Stooges live in 1973 without ever having heard their records. You'd flip! And the Elevators, yeah, it's the same thing cause they're infinitely better than their old albums, and Rocky (sic) Erickson is one of the greatest singers of all time! He doesn't do anything on stage, just wears a floor length psychedelic cape and sings in the most nasal shriek you've ever heard. It sounds kinda like the last thirty seconds of 'You're Gonna Miss Me.' I thought he was going crazy! The new material was excellent too."
It's little tidbits of anarcho-rock ecstacy such as this which makes or breaks a good slab of rock scribing as energy, and if you can't relate to that maybe there's something less intense for your dribbling mind to comprehend. Just don't look for it in this issue of SSG.
Also in #16...a piece on the Byrds/Buffalo Springfield and California rock in general by SSG regular Dave Meinzer that I haven't read yet because I like to save the less-enthralling stuff for last (not that the Byrds and BS are less-enthralling though maybe compared with sixties punk they are...it's just that I know how that story's gonna end up and I gotta admit that the thought of Crosby Stills and Gnash as some cohesive endpoint in that entire game makes me wanna toss my salad!). Kugel's Monkees piece is pretty hot though...even better than the one Ken Barnes did for BOMP! two years later and not just because Barnes turned out to be a disco freak and Kugel didn't. (Of course, the neat cartoon that accompanies the thing helped, especially the references to Jimi H. opening their shows ["Mike can light his wool hat on fire"]). Then there are the album writeups which are always something to look forward to, especially since SSG took their review-section cue from CREEM while 'most everyone else was aping STONE and instead of a lotta intellectual fawning ya get to read loads of hot opinions that are even hotter than the records that are being grilled by SSG's usual gang of idiots. Extra points go to Sperrazza! for relying on the old gonzo trick of comparing his early-mid-seventies quarry in question to (in this case) the MC5 and Stooges. The tune in question this time is Hawkwind's "Paradox" offa HALL OF THE MOUNTAIN GRILL, and if you think this review didn't "inspire" me to seek out a CD of the album in question since my turntable has been dead for well over a year, well you've certainly haven't been reading this blog (or any of my writings for that matter) CLOSELY for over the past twentysome years. But judging from some of the comments re. me and my mag I've come across in that time, VERY FEW people have been reading closely all those years so why should I be surprised?
So sports, if you wonder why I think that the seventies breed of rock scribism/fanzine is so superior to most writing (even the good stuff) that has come out since, maybe this post'll give you a li'l inkling if any. It's too bad that this "Golden Age" of rock fandom has been kept under the covers for so long while loads of big gun critics and blogomites get all the goo and glory for doing things that in comparison are so half-assed you wonder why Chuck Eddy hasn't been lynched yet, but like I've said before what else can ya expect especially in these days when boredom and triteness is rewarded and the good high energy stuff whether it be in music or rock writing goes on ignored. Maybe someday there'll be a big coffee-table book just brimming with the classic rock pro/fanzine scribblings from the likes of the SSG staff and their under-the-counterculture brethren, but don't go on exactly holding your breath (or thinking this post is going to be some great catalyst spurring on a movement to make the forgotten fanzine writers of the past just as honored and looked up upon as Robert Christgau!). Just try to seek out more and more classy (as opposed to "classic") rock articles/reviews by the likes of Sperrazza!, Saunders, Parrett, the entire BACK DOOR MAN staff, Charles Shaar Murray/Nick Kent/Mick Farren and the rest of the British crew not to mention Adny Shernoff and his brothers in Dictatorhood, and oh, also pick up on the essentials whether they be by Bangs, Meltzer or even Wayne McGuire. And whatever you do, avoid the modern-day rancidities with all your heart and soul and mind lest you find yourself on the Lexicon Devil promo list.
Posted by Christopher Stigliano at 7:15 PM
Tuesday, May 03, 2005
A COUPLE CEE-DEE'S ATCHA!
OK, OK, OK, I've been slack with this blog. No-one's paying to read this thing though they should (given my highly regarded reputation as a reknown rockscribe [NOT critic] of value and worth), and though I know that a lot of people out "there" are paying attention if only for my on-target and caustic opinions (not to mention a few well aimed daggers at various evil objects of derision) even though they wouldn't admit it in a million years, I haven't felt any great need to attend to it for the last week or so. Maybe it was an overload of work, a lack of any interest in discussing music and the overwhelming feeling of being part of the dreaded "blog-nerd" set which kept me away, but mostly it was just my own personal "eh!"...like why should "I" bust my britches for you peons out there anyway given the amt. of scorn and abuse some of you of lesser minds like to dish out at moi??? (Pardon me, but I get that way sometimes.) Hey, nobody was asking me when I was going to update the thing so why should I do something special for people who don't appreciate me even though they SHOULD with every ounce of their bodily fluids?! People, compliments will get you everywhere in life, so why don't you try some! Then again, there are a small minority of you out there who have nothing better to do than see me shoot my mouth off, upset folks and watch the fireworks display. That's fine. I've been doing that, by accident or design, since I first entered the fanzine-dork biz "for real" some 25 years ago. These people like to see the shots fired as long as they're not in the way, but like they said about Wayne McGuire and his machine gun-like anti-countercultural writings, "duck." But anyway, I'm in a good way right now and guess what, I'm more than in the mood for causing trouble! So batten down the hatches Gertrude 'cause this is gonna be one big recto riff!
Before I forget, this month marks THE FIRST ANNIVERSARY OF THE BLOG TO COMM WEBLOG!!!! Another good chance to congratulate me for a whole year of wonderful (and free) opines from the pen (er, keyboard) of yer's truly, and I gotta admit that I've had a bitta fun not only cranking 'em out but getting 'em to you immediate-like rather'n have you wait a good two years between issues of BLACK TO COMM like I used to do back in the Stone Age. Of course, we all know why this weblog is in existence in the first place, and in a perverse way we can all thank one David Lang and another Jay Hinman for their help in getting BLOG TO COMM up and rolling. That Jay Hinman in such a funny guy...way back in February Hinman actually posted some wild opinions on this very blog about how I would still be posting my ire about his "little" review of BLACK TO COMM (which he admits not having even read in the past umpteen years...an exaggeration of which I'm sure Hinman will get the gist of). Well, as usual, Jay is right again!!!... "COMPLAINCOMPLAINCOMPLAINCOMPLAINCOMPLAINCOMPLAINCOMPLAIN!!!" Whew, what a petty and hypocritical person I am!
Speaking of Jayzeywayzey, did you catch his little dig at your humble blogmeister in his latest post? Yes, if you can believe it, that li'l ol' reference to "crybaby reactionaries" bemoaning the "death" of the fanzine was aimed at none other than me, though once again in his attempts to slamdunk/oneup me and the blog Mr. H gets it all wrong as per the norm. (Read this earlier post of mine to see what all the bucky ruckus is about, at least from my "correct" point-of-view.) Y'see, the Agonized One once again fails to give you all the (important word) FACTS when trying to slyly put his adversary in the trashcan...it's not like I have been ignoring the growth of internet and blogs and in fact I have been CHAMPIONING it just like I championed fanzine growth back when it was the ONLY real way to go about discussing music that I thought was making the biggest noise on the planet only everyone seemed to be ignoring it ON PURPOSE. And it's not like I've been totally bemoaning the "fading of the fanzine" either...the only thing fanzine-wize that I bemoan is the fading of the "GOLDEN AGE OF ROCK FANZINES" which not-so-surprisingly coincided with the "GOLDEN AGE OF ROCK CRITICISM" (and I mean REAL criticism and not that ROLLING STONE jive that's been permeating the scene for nigh upon three decades). You know about the era I'm talking about Jay, the one that spawned them fanzines I've done about seven articles apiece on!!! (I hope you still have your sense of humor intact...seems like you've lost it about fifty posts back!) Face it, the mags you hold dear and near to your heart, even FORCED EXPOSURE and personal fave FLESH AND BONES (both of which I contributed a few pithy throwaways I may or may not be proud of years back) really couldn't hold a candle to any of the seventies fanzines I'm pretty sure you have never read or never would care to read for that matter. But then again, since these are the reads that influenced BTC (both the mag and the blog) I sincerely doubt you would find anything of value intrinsic or otherwise in 'em. So hey, you can stick with whatever chiczine you may come across and write it up all you want, I don't care because it means nothing to me, but if you are intent upon characterizing me as a "crybaby reactionary" (I don't mind the "reactionary" part, that's what the best libertarians are, but crybaby?), please get your FACTS STRAIGHT!!!
OH DRAT! GUESS WHAT I JUST DID!!! Fell into one of Jay's traps, that's what. Y'see, his little mention was nothing more than attempt to bait me, impale me upon his hook and reel the quarry in like a 200-pound tuna! And I gobbled it up hook line and paragraph too...how ashamed I am since after all these years I should have known better than to tangle with this well-bred and highly-educated trickster of the sneakiest kind! Well, I hope I look good stuffed and mounted upon your mantelpiece Jay!
Enough fun, now down to the reviews! Believe-it-or-not, but I've been getting a load of promo items in and perhaps more than a feller like myself can handle at a single sitting. Anyway, I have a lotta platters to give you the lowdown on, and as I've said I have been lax in my dutires, so rather' review the whole batch at once and die either of rockism-inspired bliss or torture, lemme review these double doses for today and do the rest later on after they've congealed and fermented in my silo long enough for me to toss some tasty tidbits your way next go 'round.
Various Artists-GODFATHERS OF LA PUNK (Siamese Dog, available through Bomp)
THE BAD NEWS...all that punk rock you and I "grew up" with is now well-entrenched in the MUSIC OF EVERLASTING INFINITE HISTORICAL VALUE wing of collective Amerigan/world psyche along with big band music, fifties rockabilly and early-sixties surf toonz which means it's time for goofy people with horn-rimmed glasses to study the stuff just like it was a bug under a microscope. THE GOOD NEWS...now that seventies punk rock is a past phenom to be looked back upon in hallowed tones of honor that means MORE and MORE "archival digs" will result in a flurry of compilations and upheavals none of us would have expected even twenty years back. This is but one of them...I guess the label in question is really called "Siamese Dog" but I remember when it was "Siamese" and they released this Stooges single (credited to "Iggy Pop and James Williamson") taken from the RAW POWER sessions or something like that which had more'n a few 1977 punkers throbbing in anarchic ecstasy after repeated spins of METALLIC KO. Little did I know that there were more than a few records on this obscure label which, along with such competitors as Dangerhouse, Gulcher, Ork and Back Door Man (oops! sorry Jay!!!) documented the budding Amerigan underground scene at a time when it really needed documenting in the face of media blah. This disque does a good job of collecting the Siamese Dog label's wares all in one neat place, not only with the Iggy stuff (including the alt. take of "I Got a Right" as well as the rarity "Rock Action") but with tracks courtesy the great Controllers (who got a nice review in the latest issue of my own crybaby reactionary fanzine!) as well as the Weasels who I originally assumed were just another buncha bandwagon punks but who in reality were a pretty hefty punk/metallic merger who actually had Van Halen opening their shows (and maybe VH coulda been this good had they forsaken the Los Angeles slicksterdom for Detroit high energy!) and other worthies of varying rockist degrees. Biggest surprise: The Attitude and their cover of "Hound Dog," featuring none other than Little Richard on the ivories! And I thought the guy was a no-talent bore after seeing him schmooze up to Phil Donahue on the telly!
The David-ANOTHER DAY, ANOTHER LIFETIME (Jamie)
This long-time favorite has been reished vinylly and digitally both legally and not o'er the years, and although there has been a lotta hooey dished upon this four-year-old CD take (mostly in the pages of UGLY THINGS) I gotta say that I dunno what the fuss is about. Sure there are some noticeable differences on tracks such as the wunderbizarro "Mirrors of Wood," but otherwise Jamie's take of ANOTHER DAY, ANOTHER LIFETIME sounds just as good as my original VMC elpee, sans the occasional and non-annoying pops and crackles of course. No matter how you got it, this disque continues to amaze long after the pyschedelic revolution petered out into hippie images of the Old West...from the Seeds-ish take of "I'm Not Alone" (not forgetting the "Pushing Too Hard" riff swipe stuck into "Sweet December") to the Left Banke-inspired pop tracks plus the artistic use of MOR signposts on "So Much More" and "Now to You," ANOTHER DAY, ANOTHER LIFETIME's great SoCal blonde beach garage rock cum pop with a pretty smart attitude for a buncha high school kids to have come up with! Greg Shaw said that Talking Heads would be making albums that sounded like this by the early eighties, and although "Love Goes to a Building on Fire" came close but no cigar, all I gotta say is "WHATTA LAUGH!" Or better yet..."wishful thinking!!!"
As usual, the additional tracks are just that and nothing special, though I sure wish the single sides the David did for 20th Century would've been included. But as I've told you faithful ones for years, don't expect everything especially in these halfway-there times!
Posted by Christopher Stigliano at 8:55 PM