In order to test out this newfangled picture posting device that the fine folks at Blogger have just made available to us computer neophytes/neonatals, I thought I'd treat you stout-hearted BLOG/BLACK TO COMM fans to a little surprise and publish this rare photo of Kongress in the basement of the Elgin Theater (where the band rehearsed) taken sometime in 1976. For your information, the group is (left to right) Otto von Ruggins (vocals, organ and synthesizer), Lou Rone (electric guitar), VON LMO (drums and chains), Geofrey Crozier (vocals and incantations) and Frank Stokes (electric bass guitar). By the way, word has it that a 2-CD Kongress set is being readied as we speak and should be available sooner than you or I might realize.
Wednesday, June 29, 2005
JOHN PEEL-PERFUMED GARDEN RADIO SHOW 16/8/67 CD-R
These old airchecks really bring back a lotta memories. Unfortunately they're only the memories of people telling me how great the presentation of rock & roll as an International Youth Language and Healthy Part Of Your Daily Gulcheral Intake used to be at a time before bad drugs, bad attitudes and generally bad jamz had turned Teenage Ameriga (and perhaps even Teenage World) into one big drug-numbed mass/mess that was so zoned that they took to just about any charlatan with a snappy smile and a firm handshake peddling some of the worst credo in the history of the whole bloomin' world. At least (as evident from listening to this all-important aircheck) one gets the impression that general youth civilization had something onna ball for one blinkin' moment before the aforementioned shucksters got their hooks into an entire generation of starry-eyed vacuums just waiting for the next trip to nirvana. I mean, who thirty-five-plus years back woulda thought that this brilliant underground trip woulda degenerated into ROLLING STONE-hyped softball games pitting their editorial board against the Eagles or that Nick Wright from Pink Floyd would care more about his race cars than his music, for all that was worth? Or even today when all that seems to "matter" re. youth is some strange stylistic sartorial sense handed down from a person I doubt you'd let yer kiddo near complete w/all the down-pat news and views that usually comes with the well-hyped package?
Which only makes this disque all the more, er, tasty in its early adventurous spirit that went down the cliched ol' crapper around the time all that was GOOD and RIGHTEOUS about the New Youth Movement became co-opted by the same people who used to sell those Woodstock (TM) patches in comic books. We're talking the early days of free-form radio not only when it actually was such an animal, but when there was a music scene extant enough to make the concept of being free-form a worthwhile endeavor. After all, what was the point in the whole rock as an open-field go anywhere/do anything game if all one hadda choose from was Stephen Stills on one hand and John Williams conducting the theme from STAR WARS on the other, and don't give me all that jazz about punk/new wave this and that...believe me, I was there and in the "real world" nobody wanted to go near all that rabble-rousing deafening cacophony being emitted by the likes of the B-52s and Blondie, let alone such topical guns as Chrome or the Contortions!
Anyhoo, this here's about as free-form a radio program as you would care to get, with future Brit icon John Peel spinnin' 'em for the new breed of London Underground punksters on pirate radio (in this case Radio London just before they got busted and Peel went directly to the top of the BBC pops where he had a pretty good and prosperous career despite ending it all pushing some of the lamest underground-as-rock crapola you could ever dread coming across). But things weren't quite as rancid in 1967 and this late-night program proves it. Quality's about as good as a shortwave pickup which adds to the intensity, and thankfully you can osmose to the eternal bliss as the music switches from stuff you'd swear was bad but sounds OK in the mix (Donovan's "Fat Angel") to obscure Ameriganisms you never thought were played overseas (the Shadows of Knight's "Gospel Zone" [!]) to blues of the British and Amerigan variety and even the Velvet Underground's "Run Run Run" shows up complete with a stirring defense by Peel telling us how people were calling them "repetitious" yet explaining how this very same repetition can lead the listener to various levels of "anticipation"! And of course you get the hefty dosage of SARGE PEPPER but considering how that one was the hot ticket of '67 what else would you expect?
I was expecting more British underground psychedelia of the CHOCOLATE SOUP/(what else but...)PERFUMED GARDEN sampler variety but that unfortunately was in short supply at least in the 75-minute or so slice appearing on this CD-R (only John's Children made the cut this evening), plus I was hoping we'd get some rare and ne'er to be heard again UNTIL NOW proto-Peel Session material from some obscure wonder, but as usual we can't have everything and have it all the time no matter how much we'd like to. But what we do get on this disque is a pretty nice cut of rock & roll radio back when the radio was one of the rock & roller's best friends. (Of course, that was long before the radio became the rocker's worst enemy and I'm sure Billy Miller never will rest well even this late in the game because of it!)
Posted by Christopher Stigliano at 3:10 PM
Sunday, June 26, 2005
Clinton Heylin may be a conniving, cheating, typically music fandom-cum-major league above-it-all writer who I certainly have a bigger-than-usual bouef with, but at least he wrote something that makes more than a whole lotta sense in his recent Velvet Underground compilation, especially in these Velvets homage-laden days. And just what the scuzz said is something everyone reading this (and myself as well) should take to heart, and that is that a good hunkerin' portion (if not ALL) of these VU critique that we've chanced upon ever since the group's 1970 wreckage have been scribbled with such a hagiographic rose-colored rear view mirror glop to 'em that (despite the good intentions) they ultimately damn the group's true legacy as a psychic mover of twentieth-century though and deed, trouncing all the majestic moves and beyond-words vision they gave us into mere piddle. Of course, this is opposed to various screeds both pro (Jonathan Richman in VIBRATIONS, Wayne McGuire in CRAWDADDY...) and con (a variety of reviews appearing in and out of Heylin's collection including this high-larious write-up of WHITE LIGHT/WHITE HEAT in STEREO REVIEW mentioning how Andy Warhol was laughing his head off at the whole joke somewhere in the shadows) which at least seemed to be born sans any of the moderne hipster Velvets rap (y'know, dem guys're the fathers of all your fave alienated white youth musical movements blah blah har-de-har-har...) that at least have bored me (and maybe you) to pieces these last few years. OK, Heylin didn't exactly say all of that, but he kinda hinted at it, and besides he had a point about how you kinda get the sneaking suspicion that a lotta the people who claim total allegiance to the Velvet Underground's nom-de-avant garde would've run to the safe and accepting open arms of San Fran once they got an EARFULL of the VU way back when they seemed like such an advanced musical concept that only the most wired O-mind and the most befuddled teenager could comprehend. And, given the quality of the Velvet Underground's influential legacy over the past quarter century, who can doubt him given the content provided by a whole number of numbskulled bumblers who seem more fitted for writing toothpaste commercials given their beyond-questionable lack-of-abilities. And really, only the Japanese understand.
What goes for Velvet scribings goes double for the music, although I'll give Heylin an argument (with regards to both music and Velvets-inspired prosody) by saying that it took a good ten years after their death for the Velvets' spawn to evolve into the alternative monster that it would eventually become. After all, the seventies were really the decade of the Velvets when the group's sound, style and attitude were put to good use by their ideological brethren. In the early-seventies the Velvets' drone was easily co-opted into the brightest moments of musical expression from European experiments (krautrock, Slapp Happy, Mahogany Brain...) and British rock whether it be "People's"-oriented (Hawkwind, Pink Fairies) or not (Roxy Music), not forgetting various glam moves and suburban garage creepings all over the place. By the late-seventies Velvet-homage had exploded to the point where I, as a guy just about to throw myself into this rockpool full throttle, recall reading in a WKSU-FM "Fresh Air" program guide of all places that the Velvets were the "most influential rock group of all time," just wonderin' who these groups this anonymous author was talking about were especially in a world where disco, yawn-inspiring AM music, progressive rock and post-energy metal were being heaved upon me as if all of the test marketing and data being utilized by all of those fancy overpaid technicians who decided that Gerry Rafferty was just what """"I"""" wanted to hear! But we're talkin' the good stuff, and it soon sunk into my teenaged peabrain that although the Velvet Underground weren't around to make any of those albums that I sure enjoyed anymore (that is, when I could find 'em...it took me forever to finally get hold of someone who not only owned but could tape me THE VELVET UNDERGROUND AND NICO let alone find a copy to cuddle me to sleep with!) there were plenty of aggregates around that sounded just as good as 'em or at least almost did, or maybe they had the psychic basics down pat so I didn't have to fret that much even though I sure coulda used those eventually-bootlegged 1966 recordings a whole lot earlier!
And while the eighties were chock fulla bands ramming the original Velvet intent into some vision of modern fluffiness losing all the intensity and energy in the process (though I was mesmerized by the debut Psychedelic Furs album, which at least still had a seventies Velvets via Hawkwind/Stooges/Roxy primitiveness to it), at least I could fall back on those original-thrust groups as well as the musicians from those older aggros who hadn't totally lost it by then. But once I got down it it and sorted the whole bloomin' mess out, I realized that for pure post-Velvet thrills only the acts that came out during their reign or immediately after could truly satiate any riff/drone cravings on my part. The late-seventies fulfillment of the Velvets credo (still done within the original burst of radiation) was more-or-less a pure rock 'n roll epiphany to me, but even at that point in time I knew that the groups who saw the light as it shone seemed to have had that selfsame pure spiritual emphasis and energy that the Velvets, especially at their most mystical had (Cale talking about changing weather with music and Reed entering "the cloud" creating unique sounds and choirs with feedback making them a musical equivalent to Wilhelm Reich at his loftiest!). It was almost as if the Velvets had their own direct holy connection leading straight to GOD himself, and don't let the so-called "decadence" fool you!
Anyway, after plenty of research and general thought-gathering I've decided to put together my own list of groups who actually took the Velvet-credo during the group's lifetime (even if tangable recorded output was years down the line) and went on their own merry ways with it long before the Velvets became the musical flashpoint that was everything to everybody (who paid attention and saw in them what they wanted to see). Consider it my take on an early Alan Betrock piece in his fanzine JAMZ entitled "Beatle Rock," or perhaps a followup to an article I did on Velvet-influenced music that appeared in the long out-of-print BLACK TO COMM #19 back in 1990 (an article where I originally stated a lotta the misgivings about the form that I've reiterated both here and elsewhere, and a piece I just might reprint on this blog if I get enough response to do just that!), and if you have your own groups to add to the list please do write in since I am documenting all of this for my own personal purposes and listening pleasure. For the sake of space, I'll limit this list to the acts who have recordings issued both legitimately and not even if they may be privately circulated, which excludes such relative obscuraties as as Cooger and Dark's Pandemonium Shadow Show or perhaps Eno's earlier rock attempts like Maxwell Demon who sound promising although we have nothing really to go by at least at this point. Also omitted are various artists who "may" have had a Velvet-sounding style a little or most of the time such as the Syd Barrett-period Pink Floyd, Tony Williams' Lifetime, Love or even Detroit's Seventh Seal yet didn't care for 'em one iota, or may or may not have liked them but never mentioned them as far as I know so I'll forego scrutinizing 'em until some solid evidence pops up. So read on, and like I said any additions, addendum and acumen (on my part) is greatly needed.
(so...in no particular order...)
THE ROLLING STONES-Mick Jagger admitted that the Stones had a Velvet influence in a '78 ROLLING STONE interview, which makes me want to ask him "WHAT TOOK YOU SO LONG TO 'FESS UP?" Since he made this oft-debated (by R. Meltzer in the pages of a NEW HAVEN ROCK PRESS review of STICKY FINGERS) statement known at the height of a punk-inspired Velvets mania I've answered my own question. The Velvets influence on the Stones was greater than anyone other than Meltzer or Lester Bangs would have admitted at the time, to the point where in the here-and-now it can be acknowledged that the early-Velvet Underground were a template for Jagger's harrowing tale of statutory rape "Stray Cat Blues," though I recently listened to FINGERS (considered by some the Stones' strongest Velvets/punk offering) and thought it sounded a lot like the Flamin' Groovies' TEENAGE HEAD, but since I'm a guy who thinks the Yardbirds sound remarkably like Count Five, you could say that I have my rockism priorities straight. Which brings us to...
THE FLAMIN' GROOVIES-Their early records still had the Moby Grape/Lovin' Spoonful-era San Francisco sound, but by FLAMINGO there was a strange Velvets-drone not necessarily due to the cello. Roy Loney admitted a Velvets influence in the band, and they did perform "Sweet Jane" right when LOADED came out. Greg Shaw made comparisons between "Slow Death" and the drug-laden early material, and even Don Waller brought up the similarities between SHAKE SOME ACTION's raging closer "I Can't Hide" and the VU. Need anything more be said?
ALICE COOPER-Alice once said something great about the Velvets, and Mike Saunders said that the Alice Cooper group were, along with the Stooges and Bowie, carrying on the same sonic spirit that the Velvets had abandoned upon dispersement, and you gotta admit that "Be My Lover" sure rips off "Sweet Jane" better'n Bachman-Turner Overdrive! First four are the classics, though the rest might have a few moments of valor here and there...
DAVID BOWIE-A close call since I think he was still doing the hippie folk gig while the Velvets were alive, though perhaps not given that SPACE ODDITY (I kinda thought the hit title track was Velvet-y) came out in '69 and I believe he was performing "Waiting For The Man" that early as well. Personally, I found it refreshing when he was "doing" the Velvet Underground, because that meant he wasn't doing Jacques Brel.
LE STELLE DI MARIO SCHIFANO-An Italian group whose sole album I reviewed during the early days of this blog though I'm too lazy to link it up, but to save you the agony of finding it yourself let me say that they were formed by pop artist Schifano who wanted to re-create the Warhol/EPI experience over inna old country and did a pretty good job at it if this equally pop-art package is any indication. I've heard people compare this one to not only the Velvets but the Deviants, and I hear a lotta early PHALLUS DEI-period Amon Duul II on the side-long excursion while side two seems to be a good mix of Velvets-pop a la the debut and 1966 Rolling Stones ballad and thunk. One can only be thankful that they didn't go the route of Italian progressive music and end up the new Banco or somethin'!
THE DEVIANTS-Mick Farren and crew were ahead of the gang on a whole buncha fronts, from swiping a tape of the early Velvets demos circulating around swinging London at the time and performing "Prominent Men" before anyone had heard it for a good three decades to influencing a whole line of UK Velvets-inspired people's rock from Hawkwind to the Pink Fairies, and even I gotta say that PTOOFF! makes for as good a pop art package that rivals the first Velvet Underground album for spectacular eye-opening period-piece artyfactness! The music on that one seems to be a good UK psychedelic mix of Velvetisms meets the Fugs and Pretty Things with some early Zappa humor tossed in, a good mirror of what was happening in the London underground of the time only better because it maintained a good deal of garage capabilities when it coulda gone Moody Blues or somethin'. The great fanzine FUZ says that "Slum Lord" off LP #2 DISPOSABLE was swiped from "Waiting For The Man" (which was also a staple of the early Deviants set) and who am I to argue? Also remember that the Devies' take of "Sister Ray" was later reshaped as "Uncle Harry's Last Freakout" by the time the Pink Fairies got hold of it!
HAPSASH AND THE COLOURED COAT-Not only were these poster artists turned rock 'n roll wannabes influenced by the Velvets musically (great extended riff rock that the Krauts, especially Amon Duul I, utilized to the fullest) but they copped a lot artistically as well (the pop art cover to their debut as well as a flagellating image on a Hendrix poster inspired by "Venus In Furs"). Did these guys ever perform live? It would seem that they would have been a humongous flop had they been a live entity, but in retrospect it would have been most fitting had Hapsash brought they mayham to the stages of UFO and Happening 44 in order to be the most complete artistic statement in London at the time. Never did hear the second one with the Groundhogs' Tony McPhee.
AMON DUUL I and II-Krautrock might have sounded a lot weenier had the Velvets not happened. Take these guys for example...without the Velvet Underground in their makeup both editions of Amon Duul would probably have been as weak and lilly-livered as the ever-failing San Francisco bands they also emulated. Fortunately the Velvets added a punk verve to not only them but a whole bunch of groups who we can probably categorize with the Stooges and MC5 this far down the line rather'n with the Jefferson Airplane. Speaking of the 'plane, AD II sound like what I think that VILLAGE VOICE critic who heard the Velvets influence in the Airplane thought he heard, while it was none other than one Mike Stax of UGLY THINGS fame who said that AD I's PARADIESWARTS DUUL reminded him of a mythical jam with the Jeffersonians, the Velvets and the Manson Family! As for me, it sounds like the Velvets just before Cale left only using the acoustic-sounding gear from the third album. All Amon Duul I albums are recommended with interesting Velvet-sneaks tossed into those 48-hour drug jams, while the Amon Duul II releases seem to get less-interesting as time goes on although they still have their own charm. However, 1969's PHALLUS DEI still shines within the sixties' (and Velvets') mad dash to the point where even the fine playing doesn't seem to bother me anymore.
MAHOGANY BRAIN-Even today these guys remain bizarro outside-the-underground legends despite both of their once ultra-obscure albums being reissued for doofs like you who woulda trampled 'em to get to the Peter Frampton bin back in '77. Leader Michel Bulteau was a mythical man on the French underground since the mid-sixties (or at least he was to us non-Gallics!), and a group with him at the helm could only sound like the noisiest no wave cum early-Velvets crank out one could imagine. I kinda wonder if this is what an early-seventies proto-punk group with William Burroughs at the helm would have sounded like, but frankly I can only imagine how such a much-needed setup like that would have come off like in my most fever-pitched dreams!
THE BEATLES-Another group said to have utilized the Velvets' energies at the time though unlike the Stones you know none of 'em ever would admit it. The long musique concrete recordings done just-post-SARGE PEPPER that remain unreleased to this day are supposed to be heavily Velvets (as well as Floyd)-inspired (and why not given Brian Epstein's infatuation with the first LP which I'm sure Lennon didn't need a Spanish Honeymoon to listen to), though I have trouble hearing anything Velvet-y in (at least what I've heard of) their latterday material which seems more hippie down-on-the-farm to my spoiled ears. THE PLASTIC ONO BAND may be another question altogether, with LIVE PEACE IN TORONTO being so intense cranked despite Eric Clapton that even Wayne McGuire seemed to notice a Velvets-styling. And YOKO ONO/PLASTIC ONO BAND had a pretty strong early-Velvets vibe to it just as much as IMAGINE was Lennon's attempt to clean up with the Don McLean crowd...Yoko, if you're out there could you fill us in on John's (as well as maybe even your own?) Velvets inclinations???
KEVIN AYERS-I've often wondered if the Ayerisms abounding on the first Soft Machine album had any direct ties to nascent Velvetisms (which would seem fitting given the spinning gadget pop art cover), but credit should be given for Ayers admitting a liking to the group and at a time when you certainly didn't get many brownie points for saying such things. At times he can get a bit fruity, but then again I've heard that fruit is good for you once in awhile.
LES RALLIZES DENUDES-What more can I say about a group who did for Japan garageoids what the Velvets did for Amerigan ones? Their early material ranges from standard six-oh punk blast to extended hard "Sister Ray"-ish energy ("Smokin' Cigarette Blues" from 1969 a must-get), and for a band (actually leader Mizutani Takashi and whoever) to not only have continued this feedback-drenched hard rock for three decades but inspire a whole slew of worthwhile Velvet-spawn who STILL sound fab while the rest rehash old inanities (LSD March, Up-Tight, Doodles!...) really says something that's hardly said in the rock world. More to be written on these guys, as you've probably guessed already.
CAN, FAUST, GURU GURU...-The German expressionist scene seems to have a lot to owe to the Velvets to the point where such acts seem to be considered part of a garage-band flow chart whereas they never would have appeared on one even a good fifteen years back. I've read (in the Kraftwerk book) that the Organisation LP was supposed to have been a mixing of early-Velvets and King Crimson, but despite that albums enjoyment level I couldn't hear either of 'en even though the cover was a fair approximation of IN THE COURT OF THE CRIMSON KING's. Can's a given (being perhaps the first obviously Velvets-influenced group to get a major record deal) while Faust, despite their "rock-oriented electronics" tag of 1980 have plenty of garage vim taken from the Velvets (though I'm not too sure when they did form...they could be a tad outside the scope of this post), and various Guru Guru members mention on and off in interviews about the Velvets making a big impact on their music, then seem to forget these statements in subsequent ones so who knows?!? Were there any informative Velvets refs popping up in the German rock press of the time? With all of the Velvets-influence going on in Germany at the time, one would think so. (As far as straight-ahead garageisms go, only TON STEINE SCHERBEN, at least on their debut, handled a Velvets/Stooges/MC5 aesthetic the way many punksters would only a few years down the road and, given how the Scherbens were making their recording debut right around the time when the Velvets were exiting the stage, perhaps they should be given some commendations for their foresight even if their subsequent albums ain't quite up to snuff.)
THE PLASTIC PEOPLE OF THE UNIVERSE-When I first heard this album (spurred on by not only Patti Smith and Ivan Kral's appearance on some PBS Amnesty International special hosted by Art Buchwald but Robert Christgau's review which compared 'em to not only the Velvets but Pere Ubu!), I thought I got ripped off. Here I was, listening to all this great, energetic big beat music and all hyped up over the prospect of some new proto-punk relic, and what did I get for all my efforts but the same dour prog rock I was certainly not in the mood to hear! Well, time has certainly, er, honed my listening parameters, and the Velvets-tribute on their classic EGON BONDY'S HAPPY HEARTS CLUB BANNED or whatever it was called (the track closing side one) was actually quite inspirational. Still, the best Plastic People has to be a tape of this show they did after an Ivan Jirous lecture on Andy Warhol consisting of nothing but Velvet Underground songs, sung in a phonetic English and coming off closer to then-contemporary mid-Amerigan garage punkisms more than anything!
HACKAMORE BRICK-Their sole album was also recorded right about the time the Velvets were imploding at Max's Kansas City, but whether they were downright Velvets aficionados or (like Detroit's Seventh Seal, a group I'm still anxiously awaiting a listen to after all these years) ignorant of or even hostile to any Velvet comparisons remains open to speculation. Hey Tommy Moonlight, if you're reading this how 'bout SPEAKING UP for once in yer life?!??!?!
PARSON SOUND-The exhumation that appears on their 2-CD set shows a Velvets-cum-San Francisco sound akin to Amon Duul, though whether the influence is the VU or (as members admit) Terry Riley is open to discussion. The Tad Gras Och Stenar CDs reviewed earlier were boring enough to make me physically ill which is why I'm not going to link those reviews up either!
WIMPLE WINCH-There's an interview with one of the ex-members somewhere online who admits that the Velvets were a major influence on this Liverpool freakbeat band, but their CD sounds pretty zoned-out fey if you ask me. Too bad, since I was expecting another PTOOFF! and all I got was fluff (excepting their "hit" "Rumble On Mersey Square South"). Tim Ellison's article on fellow UK psychedelic group Kaleidoscope and their alleged early-Velvet Underground influence that appears in the latest MODERN ROCK MAGAZINE makes a lot more sense w/regards to any Velvetisms, and as anyone who's read the latest issue of my own fanzine knows, I've had my doubts. Now I'm not so sure, but it does make for good discussion.
VELVETT FOGG-Pretty much on the same wavelength as Wimple Winch, the Velvett Fogg came and went with a 1969 album on Pye featuring a cover snap of the band in grotesque face and body paint looking like the Sweet trying to ape South American blowgun champions complete with some topless gals (with decorated boobies) in order to make yet another post-TWO VIRGINS statement, or so I'd gather. No wonder it didn't sell, but at least they got John Peel to do the liner notes and he does compare LP opener "Yellow Cave Woman" to the Velvets. It does kinda sound like them but it sounds more like a non-metal Black Sabbath to me, which isn't surprising since Tony Iommi used to strum with this bunch. Frankly, what this record needs is Iommi since there tends to be some sorta oomph! that I sure coulda used missing. Still it's nice enough with a Bee-Gees cover that won't make you puke and some nice psych more in tune with 1967 than '69. A more Velvets-focus would have been welcome though.
THE WEST COAST POP ART EXPERIMENTAL BAND-A great mid-sixties folk rock act, the only Velvetisms I know of from these guys was their early light show copped from the EPI. Can't hear any direct VU drone or appeal in their early material (which is rooted in West Coast aspects of proto-psych), but I never did hear the later ones so I shouldn't blab!
HENRY FLYNT AND THE INSURRECTIONISTS-You can read my review of this one elsewhere. Perhaps the earliest Velvet-influenced rock I can think of, with future Phillip Glass keyboardist Art Murphy and Primitives drummer Walter DeMaria. (Phillip Glass also claims a Velvets influenced, but we'll forego writing about him here lest someone want to introduce me to the Dalai Lama, and besides his Columbus teardown back in 1992 is something I'm sure all of us red-blooded rockists would just as soon wanna forget...)
HAWKWIND AND PINK FAIRIES-Under-the-wire but just a bit. Hawkwind are perhaps the only hippie as in long-hair, beards and communes group that I know of who admit to a Velvet Underground influence which might make 'em honorary punks, while the Pink Fairies always seemed much closer to the MC5 side of rock to really be considered hippies per se. (And while I'm at it, I remember Nick Kent comparing KICK OUT THE JAMS to WHITE LIGHT/WHITE HEAT so maybe its time the MC3/DTK bunch finally fesses up?!?!?!) Of course, blame the Deviants for the whole lot of 'em. Music to read old NME and ZIGZAG back issues to.
THE STOOGES-I know that lumping these guys in with the Velvets because Robert Christgau and Dave Marsh were the first to mention VU-influx is treading in turd-laden waters, but really these guys were the first on record to really dumb-down the Velvets sound, art-inclinations and all, for the dunce crowd. What seemed ridiculous to all but the most inna-know in 1969 sounded perfect only a few years later...a Velvet Underground sound filtered through Seeds/Troggs frat thud and marketed as the latest on Electra's conveyor belt of consumer hipness. And John Cale sawing bow on the obligatory "avant garde" track didn't hurt any either!
Posted by Christopher Stigliano at 4:46 PM
Monday, June 20, 2005
NOISETET AND BILLY BANG LIVE AT THE CBGB LOUNGE SUNDAY, JUNE 19, 2005
Noisetet played a pretty deep, nervebending set last night, moodier and perhaps more depressing than the previous two cybercasts I glommed with a cool intensity-laden (bent) electronic sound thanks to Donny Silverman and some mighty riffage via David Phelps' unique applications of both avant and fusion stylings making for some of the better jazz-oriented guitar heard since at least Bruce Anderson. Unfortunately the camera remained stationary throughout the show focusing on guest drummer Dee Pop and later on flautist Yael Acher (and maybe trumpeter Shane McGloine, who seemed to be studying "He Loved Him Madly" if last night's performance was any indication)...heck, you were lucky if you gotta glimpse of one of the Sculpturemotion Project dancers' arms waiving above 'em while they did their (as I've said before) Grateful Dead-esque dance o' ecstasy! Every set I've heard by this magnificent avant/rock/fusion aggro has been different yet still burns with the underlying high energy I've come to expect from the best of these new working units, and what's more, I still think that the shows I've witnessed via the CBGB Lounge cybercasts as well as aboptv.com were much better than their sole CD release, and that one's a pretty hotcha contender for top disque of the year if you ask me! Only hope that Silverman had the brains to record these shows so he could release 'em somewheres down the line because I know that when it comes to music that shakes me out of deadly complacety and has a positive effect on me as all good music should, I could use a lot more Noisetet and a lot less Content Providers (who def. are in the running for "worst group name" of all time...howcum nobody voted for 'em here???), if you know what I mean.
Following Noisetet came Billy Bang, a man who perhaps deserves an award for his longtime devotion to the various stages of the perhaps-crumbling CBGB empire, having played there ever since he sat in with Material back in the early-eighties, eventually performing as either a group leader or backing musician (Frank Lowe etc.) not only on the main stage, but at the Gallery and Lounge as well. Now, I gotta admit that for a long time I never really thought Bang's violin playing was as good as some of the other players on the New Black Music freedom circuit (not as, er, scranky as Leroy Jenkins', but ever since Jenkins admitted to not liking punk but liking disco in the pages of a late-seventies DOWN BEAT interview my opinions of the man were, er, tainted a bit!), but last night he certainly soared with the best of 'em, at first playing this strangely folky/eastern/Henry Flynt-ish duet with drummer Shoji Hano before being joined by bassist Todd Nicholson (who, again, remained out of frame with only the edge of his bass showing!) for some mighty power trio playing that harkened back to the mid-seventies loft jazz movement from whence Bang and a good portion of the players on the CBGB Lounge avant-scene sprang. Believe me, there was some purty incredible creation going on during Bang's set last night, and to be tres redundant about it I only hope 'n pray it was all preserved (just like most every other set at this soon-to-destruct series) for future release. And if in fact CBGB is going under and Bang indeed played his swan song performance at the hallowed dive (or at least a stage operating within the club's auspices), then I couldn't think of a better way to go out, and I doubt you could too.
Posted by Christopher Stigliano at 5:40 PM
Sunday, June 12, 2005
Hiya-I was working on a blogicle ("blog article") on "Velvet Rock" which in my own perverted way was sort of an answer to this "Beatle Rock" piece Alan Betrock wrote for JAMZ way back when (as well as a re-write/update/addendum to my own article on Velvet Underground influences in music of a sixties variety and beyond that appeared in BLACK TO COMM #18), but since I hit a snag in that piece worse'n the knots in Dave Lang's shortncurlies I just thought I'd leave that soon-to-be classic on the still 'n let it ferment a tad bit more. Until then, here are just six of my favorite things (B-way ref. made in order to offer an olive loaf to the, er, more sashay-oriented amongst you readers out there...hee!)
1) LUNATIC'S ASYLUM (weblog)-I am sometimes tempted to say that we need more blogs out there in world-wide-webland like we need more confused kids on Father's Day, but as you know I'm a lot more intelligent than that. I mean, I coulda said the same thing during the perhaps not-so-Golden Age of eighties/nineties fanzines when self-published rags bearing such defiant titles as RESIST!, DESIST!! and ultimately DEFEAT!!! were proliferating the "cutting edge" of a rather dull movement, but, as famed Theodor Adorno-loving communist Fredric Wertham noted in his tome on the fanzine phenomenon, even the cheapest crudzine had something of intrinsic worth and might, and perhaps some relevant information in it as well. The same can be said for blogs...yeah, a good hulkerin' chunk of 'em might've been created and written by the same dullards who used to crank out all of the politically/personally pertinent fanzines you could shake a stick at fifteen years back, but there probably is something worthwhile in each and every one of 'em that saves such endeavors from being totally without that sainted "redeeming value" so ballyhooed these days. Just don't ask me to go looking for any of it!
Anyway, this relatively new (less'n a year old) blog is an almost 100% all the way there project to occupy one Montrealite (namely, Jack Dee) and keep him outta trouble, and yeah I know that the aforementioned blogster is famous (or about as famous as one can get) for his postings on certain blogs like this one and even that atrocity, but that doesn't mean he's a dumboid! (Maybe Jack's just lonesome, and besides he's put his mark on the blog yer readin' at this time as well so he's got some smarts!) This blogmeister's tastes are varied to say the least but then again so are mine, and at times his faveraves overlap well into BLOG TO COMM territory making for some of the mightiest Saturday afternoon reading (Gong, Eno, some punquey things...) I've encountered since I used to read the old microfilms at the library as a child of nine in order to osmose early BEETLE BAILEY stylistic changes. Nice graphics too!!! And besides, any guy who would dare to write such an eloquent and etapoint posting such as this deserves to get mentioned on MY turf anyday, or at least until the next Great Depression!
2) COMSTOCK LODE #7 (fanzine)-A pretty good issue with the early Rolling Stones on the cover and the history of Eel Pie Island inside. (BTW...has anyone out there actually eaten an eel pie??? I tried eel once and thought it was horrid...really fishy tasting and unappetizing to look at as well!) There are also pieces on the Mouse Studios and a Pete Frame Quicksilver/Country Joe Family tree in order to keep in touch with the 'zine's San Fran roots, not forgetting the usual reviews of then-current indie platters in order to keep in touch with the 'zine's modern day post-punk coolness. I haven't even begun to romp through the story on West Coast rhythm & blooze which looks tasty even if I really don't care for the form that much. A good object lesson on what was right with the British fanzine idiom as opposed to what was wrong, mainly the rest of the competition! (Not quite...we all know who the good ones were, and while I'm at it does anyone have a copy of CHUCKLEHEAD'S GAZETTE they're willing to part with? I'm looking for any of 'em but especially the ish with the Deviants and Can articles...paging Chris Mathorn!!!)
3) THE ESSENTIAL HUMAN TORCH VOL. 1 book (Marvel 2003)-Even though I've ceased to be a crazed comic book fan about thirty years ago (excepting more'n a few "nostalgic" trips back via various reprints such as this), I find these b&w collections Marvel's been tossing out o'er the past five years more than necessary, even if I did envision and could have used such a series back when I was twelve! The Human Torch one's the last of the original Silver Age series to get reprinted (unless they think up a Dr. Droom one which I certainly could use!), and as usual the series shines with the great Kirby/Ayers art, not to mention Stan Lee's typically hackneyed-yet-intense crankout storylines which are only ever-so-slightly different from the reams of monster/supernatural comics he, Kirby, Steve Ditko and Don Heck had been churning out for the previous four or so years. (Which is cool for a guy like me who just adored the early-sixties monster reprints proliferating the newsstands at the time!) Only by the mid-sixties did the series start flopping around (with the addition of the Thing as a comedy foil), but at least Lee knew enough to drop it and replace the floundering duo with Nick Fury which must've seemed like just the right nudge at the time.
4) HUNGRY MAN FROZEN DINNERS-Back when I was on the Atkins diet those ads where two beefy he-men in a shower room discuss what they had for dinner and the beefier one who had the watercress sandwich gets blown away by the other's hairdryer sure had me going crazy! Face it, man does not live by pork rinds alone, and it was such a relief to get off that diet even if it meant gaining thirty hulking pounds...when it comes to my tastebuds I must be dutiful! Anyway, now that these Hungry Man dinners have made their way to my icebox I don't have to go Biafran anymore while the rest of the clan gulps down such never-liked-it, never-will dishes as baccalla and scalloped potatoes (believe me, you don't wanna know!). The fried chicken dinner is my fave even though I got gypped a leg in yesterday's package, while the boneless chicken one's OK even if them patties look meatier on the box! Still have the popcorn fish and Buffalo-styled chicken strips (actually, boneless chicken planks you dip into a hot sauce) to try, but all I gotta say is that after eating one of these dinners you don't need to go looking for leftovers in the fridge to help keep up the ballast, unless you tend to glutton out as I do at times! One thing...don't pay attention to the cooking instructions on the box where it says to take the chocolate brownie (!) out of the tray after one minute...it takes MUCH LONGER for the dessert to cook properly and all you'll get for your early efforts is chocolate sludge! Keep it in the whole time and it'll "bake" just perfectly!
5) JUSTIN RAIMONDO-This distinguished writer, editor of antiwar.com, THE AMERICAN CONSERVATIVE contributor and all-around gadfly is yet another reason why I haven't gone totally bonkers over the total capitulation of anti-left/communist sentiments into the pious drivel one sees paraded around as conservatism today. I spent the earlier part of the day listening to Raimondo on Scott Horton's internet radio show (press here to access the interview) and if you're of the (patented) politically-(un)aware variety who seems to have had certain concepts of "left" and "right" bestowed upon you by hippie high school teachers (or just wanted to be "hip" with the babes and get "with it"), this interview may change some of your opinions as to not only where I, but even you stand politically. Then again, maybe not, but it's the next best thing to me coming over to your abode and whacking some sense into your noggin!
6) Sparks-PROPAGANDA CD (Island Japan mini-LP sleeve edition)-Although it may seem like heresy (and although I mentioned it a few posts earlier), I never did go for the early Bearsville-period punkier version of Sparks which reportedly influenced a number of New York luminaries when the aggro played Max's Kansas City back in 1972. I prefer the Mael Brothers' first two Island-period UK disques which (I know) disqualifies me from ever holding membership in the ROUGH AND TUMBLE ROCK & ROLL FANS DRINKING CLUB AND LESTER BANGS MEMORIAL BIKER GANG BANG, but since I've been a guy who's always tried to be as up-front as Jayne Mansfield about what I like and don't I guess I better just lay it all down on the line for yez and BE TRUTHFUL! Gotta admit that I find PROPAGANDA the best of the mid-seventies Sparks albums (that I've heard...never did get to absorb their later-on disques that actually got Columbia releases over here inna states)...not only does it have a bright mid-seventies demur to it, but the mix of early-sixties pop smarts and seventies pre-manure decadence (!) with a LOTTA 1967 British art rock moves (Beatles, Tomorrow, Move, John's Children...) seems to make for just as big a power-packed hit with my personal listening modes as all of those groups that were just popping up from the New York scene at the very same time and doing a lot of what Sparks did three years later. Not only that but the lyrics seem pretty teenage pop-snat as well, or perhaps a tamed-down British cool as in the Modern Lovers to Roxy's Velvets. I dunno, but if I were to snuggle up by the fire with some cute and sexy Japanese maiden I'd much prefer this on the ol' turntable to Mantovani or even METAL MACHINE MUSIC. Now, both of 'em have their proper place in life but if I wanna hit the bullseyes (no sic!) amongst other things it's Sparks for me and nothing else!!!
Posted by Christopher Stigliano at 3:35 PM
Friday, June 10, 2005
BLACK TO COMM BACK ISSUES STILL AVAILABLE!
Don't worry fans...I'll be writing a REAL post in a day or two, but in the meantime I just wanna drop another atomic hint (y'know, nudge nudge!) atcha faithful and DENSE readers about the tons of back issues of my long running/loathed fanzine that I should be converting into filthy lucre a lot sooner than I am that are rotting away here at the BLACK TO COMM offices just begging for a good home. And only you dear compatriates, can help me convert the myriad asst of boxes cluttering up my bedroom chock fulla unsold BLACK TO COMMs into the long green so once again I can EAT! Postage is FREE inna USA and Canada, though elsewhere send $5.00 in US funds for the first ish and an additional $2.00 per rest.
PHFUDD #11-Still have a few copies of this once-gone and forgotten issue (back when the mag was wrestling under a totally different name I had to change due to adverse publicity!) in a box with a whole slew of VILLAGE VOICE rejection slips! Just kidding, but I do have a few mags to sell you that not only feature cover-boy Jamie Klimek and his Mirrors (complete with the usual rare photos and flyers and ads and junk like that), but live VON LMO photos at Max's Kansas City with Lou Rone mugging it up for the camera (plus a Rudolph Grey chronology!), Sonny Sharrock, Jeff Dahl and Powertrip, a live Styrenes photo taken by ME (which accounts for its fuzziness!), Birdhouse (remember them?), the Standells and some live Rocket From the Tombs snaps with lyrics that should cause your heart to be racing by now. Also included is the enticing article entitled "Is There No End To Those Pesky Chuck Eddy Rumors?" which, as we know, is still as relevant today as it was in April/May 1988 when this issue originally came out. Since this is a rarity, I'm asking $10.00 each, and no frowning!
PHFUDD #12-This one features a cover story on the Droogs, who at the time had released this wowzer of a "Great American Rock & Roll Album" (in the tradition of BACK IN THE USA, ONE KISS LEADS TO ANOTHER and HALF MACHINE LIP MOVES...no kidding!) entitled KINGDOM DAY, as well as a piece on Peter Stampfel and the Bottlecaps, the new glut of Detroit '60s hard rock exhumations coming out of France, and Electric Eel lyrics accompanied by pictures that may still be "rare" even to this day! There's also a query about Detroit rock legend Sirius Trixon as well as a reprint from an old CBGB listing as to what the Vanessa Vickers Duo with Billy Ficca (of Television, natch!) that were playing at that famed club back in the spring of '75 sounded like! I've been curious for years and did find out that there was a pianist with the same name working the cabaret (!) circuit who put out a CD a few years back so that might be her, but she has since died, so if anyone has any information (even Billy Ficca seemed to shrug the whole thing off saying that it was just a gig he did two nights at CBGB, neglecting to give us any information as to how the thing started up or what they sounded like!) how about letting me know for history's sake. This is getting to be a rare one, in fact it's so rare that it's SOLD OUT unless you count the two copies I have left with printer soiled covers that I'll part with for a measly $3.00 each!
BLACK TO COMM #14-The first issue with the new and improved name features part one of the Ron Asheton interview, a nice though could be much better given all the information discovered since piece on the Deviants, an article on Peter Laughner's Cinderella Backstreet and the Seeds. Oh, there's also a piece on Charlemagne Palestine written by someone or other, and it can all be yours for $5.00 a pop!
BLACK TO COMM #16-This one has the Rudolph Grey interview. some reprints of Peter Laughner things I copped out of old issues of ZEPPELIN and elsewhere, more Electric Eels lyrics with a pic, Laughing Hyenas and of course tributes to the recently departed Lucille Ball and Jim Backus. The first, cruddy version can be had for $2.50, though the better take will cost an extra buck ($3.50 in case you can't add). I also have some "damaged" in a basement flood but still readable (they may either be wrinkled a bit and/or have rusty staples) I'll part with for a mere buck!
BLACK TO COMM #17-The first of the "big" issues has a cover story/interview with Scott Morgan and Gary Rasmussen from the old Scott Morgan band, also inside's an interview with Borbetomagus' Donald Miller as well as one with Maureen Tucker, not to mention pieces on Fish Karma (who I liked until hearing his overly-preachy kiss kiss moosh anti-gun song entitled "God Bless The NRA"), the Dogs (from Detroit, not the French ones or the Flamin' Groovies for that matter!), Rocket From the Tombs (with loads of old photos and the like, some never seen before or since!), the top 25 of heavy metal, METAL MACHINE MUSIC, a piece on the then-new proto-punk reissues and archival digs of the day and the usual reviews and news. Buy a copy for $7.00.
BLACK TO COMM #19-Just found a few of these niceties with my Miriam Linna interview plus one done with Jeff Clayton of Antiseen, not to mention the Pink Fairies, Czech Underground Rock (Plastic People of the Universe, Umela Hmota...), Lester Bangs (unpublished photos too!), NUGGETS, the Shangs, a history of proto-punk fanzines, lotsa old TV stuff and of course the regular departments. This is the first ish to really dig into a lotta the anti-youth fascism mentality so popular in rock circles these days, so sissies beware!!! Since this is getting rare you can have one of these soon-to-be collector's items for $8.00 each if you can believe it! A real steal deal!!!!
BLACK TO COMM #20-This has a Mick Farren (Deviants) interview, a talk with Roky Erickson (!), a Craig Moore (the Gonn!) interview, the Seeds, Richard Meltzer, a retrospective on the DENIM DELINQUENT fanzine, the New York Dolls, an old Adny Shernoff (Dictators) interview done by Greg Prevost in 1978, a Harriet Nelson obituary, loads on old TV shows and the like and of course the usual stuff that makes Dave Lang a hot and bothered honorary marsupial. Buybuybuy for only $8.00 each!
BLACK TO COMM #21-A VON LMO cover story and interview grace this ish, as do interviews with Metal Mike Saunders, Brian McMahon (Electric Eels) and rockabilly star Ronnie Dawson, plus you can read much-desired items on the Trashmen, Velvet Underground and Hawkwind like I knew you would! Not to mention a piece on the infamous TEENAGE WASTELAND GAZETTE fanzine! And all you'll have to do to get it is seperate yourself from $8.00 and send it all to me!!!
BLACK TO COMM #22-The printers (and myself to a degree) messed this one up but it became one of my biggest sellers anyway! Cover story features Alice Cooper, and there's also things on Steve Mackay (Stooges), Umela Hmota in Josef Vondruska's own translated words, a lengthy BACK DOOR MAN history, Jymn Parrett telling us his version of the DENIM DELINQUENT story, the Planets (NYC version), the Sidewinders (Boston version), a warped krautrock history entitled "Krautrock: The Final Solution to the Aryan Question!" and the usual gunk. Plus this one comes with a CD with a hand-decorated by memeME cover numbered and all, featuring Carnal Kitchen (Steve Mackay pre-Stooges!), Umela Hmota, Umela Hmota 3, Dom (post-UH), Rockin' Blewz (early Metal Mike Saunders!), Backsnider (Mike Snider's old band), Milk (early-seventies Cleveland proto-punk glam), Moving Parts and more! If you want it, I have some, but not as many as before so in order to make up for past losses...$15.00 EACH!
BLACK TO COMM #24-This issue's cover feature's a nice interview with Doug Snyder of not only Sick Dick and the Volkswagens fame (the NYC no wave band from the late-seventies lower-Manhattan ka-BOOM!, not the nineties group with the same moniker!) but the Doug Snyder/Bob Thompson DAILY DANCE album which has achieved legendary status long ago, plus there's an interview with the Dogs (Detroit) and Greg Shaw, a piece on the old CAN'T BUY A THRILL fanzine and the usual feature-length reviews and the like. $9.00 gets you one!
BLACK TO COMM #25-The latest, 162 pages brimming with such goodies as a New York City Scene history (featuring interviews with Max's Kansas City's Peter Crowley and Ruby Lynn Reyner from Ruby and the Rednecks plus pieces on coverboys the New York Dolls and VARIETY scene-booster Fred Kirby), an interview with J. D. King (Coachmen, comix) plus one with guitarist Lou Rone, who would probably be best known to you as leader of the early CBGB-era band Cross as well as one-time guitarist for both Kongress and VON LMO, the Screamin' Mee-Mees, CRETINOUS CONTENTIONS, Simply Saucer rare photos, family tree and gigography, rare fanzines of the Golden Age (and more), tons of book and record reviews (which make up the bulk of this ish!), plus a CD with live Simply Saucer 1975, the Coachmen, The Battleship, Ethel with David Nelson Byers and Ruby and the Rednecks. I think it's the best issue so far and if you wanna find out for yourself, send me $10.00 if you order this one with any assortment of other issues, but if you buy it on your lonesome send me an additional $2.00...outside the immediate area add more!!!!
Posted by Christopher Stigliano at 7:30 PM
Wednesday, June 08, 2005
Just some of the flot/jetsam that's crossed the BLOG TO COMM laser launching pad within the past few dayze...
Various Artists-THE IKON STORY; AMERICA'S #1 UNSUNG GARAGE LABEL 1964-1966 2-CD set (Frantic, via Crypt)
Ikon is not only coming, it is HERE and if this fact o' life doesn't quite tickle your tastebuds then may I direct you to a more sedate and dare-I-say dour weblog such as this? I'm sure that putrid slab o' pretend rockcritscreed'll suit your rather timid sense of musical aesthetics more'n this double-platter dosage of mid-sixties Amerigan teenbo trash ever will!!! And I DO mean it mainly because, if you're a nambla-pamby weak-kneed sissified light-rocker why waste your time munching on the high energy when you can be tasting oil!!! Grow some hair on yer chest for once, willya????
Y'know, it's pretty much unfair to these love-of-it fans of rock & roll to review their hard-scrunched-out efforts within the span of a few paragraphs, especially when it may have taken YEARS for them to conceive of and execute their various endeavors only to see the fruits of their efforts dismissed with short bursts of praise or perhaps even utter wrongheaded scorn as has happened to some tasty musical tidbits o'er the past few eons! (And believe me, I know just how it feels having seen my own penny-pinched, shoestring-budgeted yet totally immersed efforts get the offhand dismissal and condemnation, especially from people I never expected it from inna first place!) So yeah, I do feel kinda creepy writing about these two CDs (featuring part one of the mysterious Joey D's obsessive/compulsive-level digs into the vaults of this obscuro Sacramento label's garageoid wares) because I know the exact feeling of pouring your vital innards into these projects and seeing rather short reviews utter tepid hosannas or blog-length misinformation...heck, a twin-spin platter like this deserves a mega-huge ten-page spread and not a simp-o blog listing, but since I'm sorta strapped for cash at the point w/regards to putting out another issue of BLACK TO COMM I guess this comparatively small posting will have to do.
Anyway, THE IKON RECORDS STORY's the brainchild of the aforementioned Mr. D, a collection of a whole slew (sixty-count-'em-sixty!) tracks by many o' the groups who recorded for this teenage-minded label in the mid-sixties, perhaps the bestest time on this planet to be a teenager if all the entertainment, food and sports industries (amongst others) catering to their every whim and fancy is any indication. And with the teenage impact of the groups on these disques charging forth like the rest of the best of mid-Amerigan garageband USA, you know you're in for a high-energy thrill with all of the Noxema-packed rock crash and classy Ernie Douglas nerd-dom mixed with delinquent leather tough/cool that still sends a "message" to all 'em Joan Baez folkies even this far down the line!
It's hard to say which tracks on here are my faves...gotta admit that some may be nice though typical of other similar-minded attempts all over the place, but for me the standouts include the Knightsmen's able swipe of the McCoys' own swipe of "Fever," The Parish Hall Blues Quintet's "suburbanizing" of the Pretty Things' "I Can Never Say" (just give it a lissen and you'll know what I'm talkin' about!) and this crazy novelty thing called "Sorry About That" by Eirik and the Secret Agents which employs a hot instrumental bed for studio owner Jim Barkley and some friend to do a lotta cool BATMAN/GET SMART/DRACULA mid-sixties adolescent humor voiceovers to. With songs like that, who needed airplane glue? Of course there are many other worthies here to dissect and pin down just like you used to do with frogs in science class, but we'll leave that stuff to Elliot Murphy's legendary rock & roll class scheduled to commence in another 69 years. For now we got this collection to contend with which is good enough for me! (And I even neglected to tell you about Alec Palao's brill liner notes and the fact that some of this is "previously unreleased" which should make it big with at least three of you faithful readers out there!)
Angel Corpus-Christi-LOUIE LOUIE (Gulcher)
I dunno about this Angel Corpus-Christi gal...really! I mean, twenty years ago and twenty years ago this very summer at that, her I [heart] NY cassette was one of the top spins of the warm weather season getting hefty play whether I'd be in the car, the tub, the yard or just goofin' off reading classic mid-seventies back issues of CREEM wond'rin why it couldn't be as good ten years down the line as it was then (and the answer was obvious---they had Chuck Eddy writing for it and not ME!!!). Who knows, perhaps ACC and her sweet accordion sounds filling me with enough of that long-nascent rock & roll spirit (along with all of them classic fanzines and other high-energy musical exponents I had been gatherin' up o'er the past year or so) was a big factor in me starting my own fanzine up later that year, a fact which I think will make more than a few malcontents wanna lynch her but I guess that's your perogative in these "anything goes" days. Heck, throughout the rest of the eighties I was so enamored with the whole Angel Corpus-Christi mystique that I even pestered her for upcoming cassettes (such as WAKE UP AND CRY) and actually GOT 'em, at least up until the Poetraphonics one hit the boards when all of a sudden the gravy train stopped for no reason whatsoever. (Or so I thought---methinks I might have abridged some sort of sacred promotional material etiquette somewhere down the line but I can't be sure...however, some nimnul told me that my rampant anti-semitism probably ticked off Angel and her husband, MX-80 Sound vocalist Rich Stim, but I can't recall saying anything remotely negative against the Jewish people unless you count my dislike of gefilte fish, Bill Graham and klezmer music so maybe the Stims, if the aforementioned nimnul can be believed, like to read into my scribings just like a lotta my less-astute readership, but I guess that's my problem!)
Then the reason for the big ACC cutoff hit me! In the pages of YOUR FLESH (before I was unceremoniously dumped from their roster, a feat which I really don't regret other'n for the one good promo release per humongous package), I gave a horribly scathing review of this really dismal album by some group called X-tal (not the Cleveland area reggae band, or a hundred others with the name for that matter), an abysmal buncha alternative weenies who might have "dabbled" in a few reggae-rhythms down the line but were pure drivel made worse by their attempts at a Velvet Underground mystique which fell flat on their pasty-faces, totally belying the stories of SF being a Velvet-friendly area despite the hippie demeanor. And ex-X-tal "leader" J. Neo Marvin had the audacity to ram into me for allegedly hitching my star to that same VU mystique he felt content to tear to shreds with his watered-down hip-to-be-embalmed musical vision! Anyway, it turns out that one of the musicians guesting on this putrid platter (which I might like as a sick joke this far down the line, only I wouldn't know because it's sure hard playing albums encrusted with your own feces) was none other than Angel Corpus Christi playing her accordion, a sad fact which I believe I noted in the review/demolishing of that sad disque which got me one hate note from some band chippie at the time! She (Angel, not the chippie) even appeared, complete with squeezebox, on the back cover of the X-tal album with the rest of the guilty ones which certainly didn't do her name any good in my book, but hey, I guess we have to see our heroines take a PLUNGE once in awhile...
Fortunately, a few years later I did get a promo from the famed Howard Thompson (complete w/note I should have framed!) of WHITE COURTESY PHONE which I liked and even gave a neat writeup in my own fanzine, but after that, let's just say that I hadn't been that much in-touch with the ACC experience perhaps thanks to my alienation of not only her but the entire MX-80 cadre with my etapoint opinions which I guess hit a few more people than I wanted to get hit in the first place! And even "I" became alienated to the point where I didn't even spin those ACC singles that Lindsay Hutton sent me in the latterday issues of THE NEXT BIG THING which must prove something...like maybe I hold grudges when I shouldn't and keep hatred in my heart a lot longer than anyone should care to! But hey, that's me, and like the snake about to bite the guy who just saved him said, "I'M A SNAKE!!!!"
It wasn't until Gulcher Records got back into biz that I started listening to Ms. Stim once again, and yeah, I liked her newer releases and yeah, you can read about 'em elsewhere on this blog (too lazy to find and link!) and yeah, even though there may or may not be "bad blood" between her and me let me prove myself to be the better man and say that I really like this new one, a tribute to none other than one Louis Reed packaged in a fine sendup of TRANSFORMER that I'm sure you'll get a kick outta liek I do even if that schtick had been used for years on end. And I really enjoyed this 'un, even though my tastes for what have become known as "alternative" music waned around the time Husker Du began appearing on TV and SST started sending me some of the worst albums imaginable (mixed with some of the best mind you), but anyway this disque, just like I [heart] NY and Angel's subsequent cassettes, really digs up all the reasons I liked this monster called underground rock back then and how much I missed what it had meant to me even five years earlier when all the power and energy of the mid-seventies still had some force to it which would soon topple into a watered-down form that owed more to the B-52s and Madonna than VON LMO and the Contortions. Fortunately ACC understood and unfortunately J Neo Marvin didn't, which is why so much of the pow'r and might that you could find even in a comparatively soft Jonathan Richman album in 1977 seemed so tame and tepid once the mighty seventies oozed into the cube eighties.
In many ways, this CD reminds me of what I was expecting Max's Kansas City to be all about back when I was in high school and reading about the Silver Apples in Lillian Roxon's encyclopedia and hearing about Iggy slashing his wrists and hacking his chest open with a coke bottle smashed against the strings of his guitar (!-yes, that's how this infamous saga was related to me!). Y'know what I'm talkin' about...that futuristic pop performed by outerspace clones who hitched a ride of Ziggy's starship (and just take a look at Angel on the back and tell me she don't look pure Vulcan!) that, like the Velvets and Stooges and Dolls, sounded so evil and foreboding on one hand, yet totally suburban upper-middle-class garage on the other. The thing is, there were probably a few hundred acts just like this playing Max's between 1975 and 1981 only they didn't get the chance to make records. At least Angel did, and if you're game on accordion rock gone gnu wave with a touch of the macabre futurism that Suicide excelled in filtered through midwest garage 1975 temperaments, well this CEE-DEE is JUST THE THING for you! (As it is for me.)
Crimson Sweet-EAT THE NIGHT CD (Shake It)
Besides wondering what a lotta the old groups that played CBGB in the past sounded like, I'm sometimes curious as to what some of the current groups playing there sound like as well. And yeah, I know that many who aren't imitating Metallica or REM are imitating some other current bigtime act which is their gig maybe (but not mine), but sometimes I wonder whether any of the new bands playing this endangered bar have any of the zip and stamina which groups that played there thirty years ago and got tons of press for their efforts (for a change) obviously oozed. Crimson Sweet are but one of the new groups that one can see at this club on occasion, a nice tough act not-quite heavy metal (although mid-seventies metallurgists like the folks at BACK DOOR MAN might disagree) but hard-rocking enough to keep your attention span stretched long enough which is cool enough this far down the bend. Singer/guitarist Polly Wilson sounded so choked up upon first listen I thought she had a twinkie stuck in the ol' epiglottis, and her strained singing fits into the post-Dolls high-energy a lot better than I would have given credit for. Guitars screech and scronk like they have been for the past few decades, and though I'm sure such upper-crust rock critics as Chuck Eddy would dismiss it all as "old" at least I can see that this fine tradition is being carried on sounding just as fresh as it did when I first heard the blast and decided that there was more to life than AM radio! Interesting note...bassist's name is Robbie Kongress yet he has nothing to do with the infamous band of yore (CD is in the works!), However, he would like to hear Cross one of these days but until then Robbie, get hold of Lou Rone's ALONE on Gulcher as soon as you can because it's the closest thing you're gonna get to the metallic flange in a long time!
THE MOTHER'S ANGER CD (Dionysus)
A late entry. This Israeli guitar/drums group is the latest in a long line of such duos ranging from the Method Actors (Athens Georgia early-eighties new wavers with a Howard Devoto fixation that seemed pretty silly once 1982 rolled around) to Dejavoodoo (Montreal Cramps wannabes), but if I hadda compare the Mothers' Anger to any other gtr/drms aggregate that might have walked the earth it would be Ice, this New York twosome that played the CBGB summer fest in '75 opening for Binky Phillips' Planets and heavy metal glamsters Mantus...Ice should also be noted for giving the world one Randy Gunn, who would later play with not only the legendary Necessaries (also featuring Ernie Brooks of Modern Lovers fame...none other than Chris Spedding would take Gunn's place in the band thus garnering the Necessaries' position as a footnote in some future rock history book) but the Love of Life Orchestra. I never heard Ice, but from what I've read about 'em I'd assume they were also doing the same two-piece hard rock that the Mother's Anger guys do, only with a more-mid-seventies rock demeanor instead of the newer aggregate's nineties grunge emote, that is.
What drove me to pick this one up was the fact that, outside of the hype that they sounded like the MC5, was that this disque was produced by former Five member Michael Davis who also plays bass on one track. Well, sad to say but these guys don't remind me of the MC5 or what I would have expected any Five offshoot/influenced bunch you could care to think of to sound like. No, the Mother's Anger, just like the rest of the new hard rock brigades worldwide, are stuck in the needle-bitten Seattle sludge/drone and churn that's been oh-the-rage for quite some time, and even Davis can't save them from their over-emotional sound and fury signifying little if anything. I guess it was stupid of me to think this would sound anything like the MC5 or any of the groups that were swiping ideas from them back then (Amboy Dukes, Alice Cooper, Stooges...), but gee, I was kinda hopin' it would at least given Davis' involvement and besides, aren't we due for a high energy epiphany about now? Frankly, I don't think this group could have survived a Detroit church basement gig opening for Sproton Layer let alone the Grande Ballroom, but given all of the atrocities and missteps that have plagued rock & roll over the past few decades...should I really be surprised?
Posted by Christopher Stigliano at 2:49 PM
Saturday, June 04, 2005
FREESTYLE JAZZ AT THE CBGB LOUNGE
(PERSONAL NOTE: although I'm just a "fan" watching these shows in the sanctity of my bedroom via the miracle of internet, even jaded "I" must say that I am really sorry to see this adventurous showcase of avant garde jazz at the famed Lounge come to an end. Maybe if somehow CBGB owner Hilly Kristal overcomes the long battle being staged against the monstrous rent hike that's in store the series will be resurrected [?], but for now, let's have curator and Bush Tetra Dee Pop step up to the podium...)
Dear friends and fans of jazz, improvised music and every other sub genre of music that i have tried to present for the last 4 years,
With great sadness i must announce that the Freestyle Jazz series that i have curated on Sunday nights at CBGB's will come to an end on July 31.
First off and most importantly CBGB's is in great danger of shutting down entirely, come September. Most of you have heard this news. It is sad but true. It is by no means definite but the looming rent hike to $40 thousand dollars a month is an almost impossible hurdle. CBGB's has asked me to stop my regular program so that in August they may devote all stages to fund raising benefits. I pray this might work and i hope you can support the cause in any way possible. The second and quite less reason is that i am just flat out fatigued and more than a little broken hearted over the dwindling turnouts and severe lack of major publication press. (NY Timeout being an exception). It has been a constant struggle to present these shows each week. I have tried my hardest to put on the best shows possible with No outside funding. I have always wanted the music to carry itself. I have tried every imaginable format. I have spent alot of personal money. I have done everything in my power to keep this running and relevant. Ending it will be a very sad moment for me.
There is so much i want say here so please excuse me if it rambles at points.
I want to thank CBGB's for taking me in, after my tenure booking the old Internet Cafe on 3rd street ended.
They have been so supportive. I cannot stress how great they have been and how much they have tried to help me make this successful. Most people to do not realize what a struggle it is to run a venue like CBGB'S. What owner Hilly Krystal has achieved in the last 30 years is amazing. It has taken a lot of gots and stamina. I respect him more than probably anyone else in the music business.
I want to thank the musicians that have played the series. So many great musicians have graced the tiny stage in the basement. I have heard some awsome music there which will live with me forever. I have never been able to offer them anything other than a place to perform their craft. It was so gratifying on the nights when i could actually hand these musicians some sort of real monetary renumeration (read: $) Likewise it broke my heart to see such amazing talent sometimes perform for little or no money. When that happened, I always felt like i didn't do my job well. I would also like to apologize to the musicians that i couldn't get in as regularly as they would have liked (or sometimes at all). It was never personal. The hardest aspect of booking this series was having to tell musicians i didn't have a place for them. But again i tried to do the right thing wherever i could.
I want to thank Haley, the bartender for working just about all my shows. Lets face it, this auduence is a not a huge drinking crowd and she made little money from it. Most of the rest of the staff couldn't even stand the music. And yet she was very loyal and understanding. I love her for this. And by the way there are still 11 more shows - so please tip her well.
I want to thank All the sound man that worked my shows. I want to thank all the soundman that worked upstairs in the Gallery and had to put up with my tirades because it was too loud upstairs and the bleed to downstairs was intolerable. I want to thank Micheline for believing in me when i would tell her i thought i might pull in a big crowd.
I want to thank Richard & Roberta Bergman for being there just about every Sunday for 4 years! Their constant support was probably the most integral to keeping my hopes alive. I have found two very great friends in them. I owe them more than just a dinner.
You too, Peter Cox.
I want to thank my wife Liz and my son Charlie who let me spend so much time away from them to do this. I love them so much.
OK then. 11 more shows.
PLEASE COME OUT. THESE WILL BE SOME GREAT NIGHTS!
I hope you won't miss all my emails that much. LOL.
Yours truly. Dee Pop
I am no longer accepting any more requests for gigs. (William Hooker & Chris Kelsey please contact me and i will fit you in somehow)
THE FINAL 11 SHOWS:
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
8pm: Noisetet: Donny Silverman, David Phelps, Shawn McGloine, Yael Acher, Dee Pop & the Sculpturemotion Project
9pm - Billy Bang, Todd Nicholson Shoji Hano
10pm - Becky Schmoyer Group
SUNDAY JUNE 26
7pm - David Aaron’s Short Memory
8pm - Andrew Lamb,Tom Abbs, Warren Smith
9pm - Eddie Gale Trio w/Ken Filiano & Dee Pop
10pm - Mike Baggetta & Kris Tiner
WEDNESDAY JULY 6
8pm - Mostly Others Do the Killing
9pm - Freedomland: Daniel Carter, Dave Sewelson, David Hofstra, William Parker & Dee Pop
(with special guests)
SUNDAY JULY 10
7pm - Roy Campbell, Steve Swell, Sabir Mateen, 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: Andy Haas, Don Fiorino, Mia Theodoratus, Matt Heyner, David Gould, Dee Pop
8pm - Other Dimensions in Music: Roy Campbell, Daniel Carter, William Parker, Rashid Bakr (2 sets)
SUNDAY JULY 24
7pm - Dan DeChellis, Reuban Radding, Dee Pop
8pm - Amanda Monaco Quartet
9pm - Daniel Carter, Francos Grillot, Matt Lavelle, Federico Ughi
10pm - Ehran Elisha Trio
SUNDAY JULY 31
The Freestyle Jazz Finale All Stars featuring: Susan Alcorn, Tatsuya Nakatani, Joe Giardullo, Audrey Chen, Daniel Carter, Dom Minasi, Roy Campbell, Hayes Greenfield, Daniel Levin, Ursel Schlict, Matana Roberts, Reuben Radding, Louie Belogenis, Kevin Norton, Joe Morris, Andy Haas & Sabir Mateen.
(performing short sets in various combinations through out the evening)
Posted by Christopher Stigliano at 9:30 PM