Sunday, February 19, 2006

VICARIOUSNESS PT. 2

Things have been about as slow around the BLOG TO COMM offices as a peanut butter lover's bowel movements (its that kinda descriptive and to-the-heart-of-the-matter writing that's earned my a "C" in Creative Writing class), but at least there's been enough gulcheral ginchiness a'happenin' around here to warrant yet another important posting on my part. So all I gotta say is, please be thankful for such small favors as having me around to tell all yez what is hot and what is not, or else you'd hafta be stuck reading the same Lexicon Devildog post over and over for the next month or two in order to get your jamz jollies in gear, and we know that ain't right!

And speaking of which (and related), have you been following that recent brouhaha over those Mohammed cartoons that have gotten a good hunka the Muslim world all rambunctious? First there were the cartoons featuring images of the famed prophet and none to complimentary as well, then there was the Arab reaction (complete with the entire Middle East boycotting Danish products, although I dunno how many Iranians like to gulp down Havarati in the first place), and now some Iranian newspaper, in a self-righteous fit of rage only I thought I could muster up, is holding a contest to see who can come up with the best Holocaust cartoons as sort of a sicker than usual "tit for tat" thumb-nose aimed at the decadent West so to speak. I dunno what to think about the whole thing...I mean, everytime (OK, an exaggeration!) one turns on the Tee Vee one sees a load of bile flung at basically nice, everyday hokey people, but you don't see them rampaging all over the place. And as far as Holocaust cartoons go, I guess the Iranian who thought that one up never read any late-sixties issues of MAD magazine. Remember when they were going for the shock value (although with a "purpose", just like HIGHLIGHTS FOR CHILDREN and Goofus and Gallant and that crowd) with their death camp humor that certainly got a lotta heads turned, at first with their HOGAN'S HEROES spoof, and later on that closing panel from "Balmy and Clod" telling of a new movie featuring another old time fun-loving couple entitled "Eva and Dolph" ("THEY'RE YOUNG, THEY'RE IN LOVE, THEY MURDER MILLIONS" complete with Estelle Parsons as Ilsa Koch holding a lamp with a shade consisting of pieces of skin sewn together with little numbers on them...). Or how about the Dow Oven Cleaner spoof, and that "Wit and Wisdom of Adolf Hitler" book excerpt??? Maybe whoever's editing MAD these days can submit all this old twaddle and really rake in the bucks!

Anyway, this cartoon controversy has given me an idea, and that's to hold my own contest/competition for you Englishers out there. What I want to do is...publish the twelve best Dave Lang and Jay Hinman cartoons that you dear readers can muster up! That's right, a copy of the back issue of your very choice (provided it's still in stock) will go to you if your very own cartoon featuring one of these erstwhile bloggers appears on this very website! So if you're a budding comic bopper or even a well-seasoned pro and know what these people look like (or can guess), and can even delineate your own cartoon featuring them in whatever situation you find best in your own humble way, you will get your very own soon-to-be-rare back issue and boy will you be the better for it. So get your pens cranking and send me your 'toons as soon as you can! Remember, the address to send them to is 714 Shady Ave., Sharon PA 16146-3149 USA, and the uglier the better I always say!

Back to the meat at hand so to speak. Without further ado, here are just a few of the things that have been making my existence all the more worthwhile these past few days and who knows, maybe if you mimic my more'n worthy alternative-to-the-alternative lifestyle more closely, YOU TOO can latch onto the eternal glory that is part and parcel of the BLOG TO COMM way o' being. Well, it sure comes off a lot better'n the tried and untrue pretentious ultra-chicdom so prevalent in the reams of politically pristine and more-radical-than-thou blogdom out there, dontcha think?

THIS HEAT CD (These, 387 Wandsworth Rd., London SW8 2JL England)

Here's the Cee-Dee version of a longtime vinyl on/off fave that I believe I reviewed in one of the very first issues of my own hallowed hagiozine, and twennysome years down the line I must admit that THIS HEAT and its electronic post-Rock In Opposition industrial clang sure holds up a lot better than a lotta the stuff that was making the rounds in alternativeland back in those maybe not-so-hallowed days (but then again I'm only smarting because my dear publication was the ONLY ONE back then NOT to get any advertising dollars from SST!). Clangy enough distorto rock that sounds (at least to me) like a more punk rock version of the 1973 Virgin Records roster (Faust, Henry Cow...) and although I still gotta say that I prefer the collection of John Peel sessions that have previously appeared on Cee-Dee (and much more prefer the tape of these same sessions taken straight off the air with Peel's typically reserved commentaries that Imants Krumins dubbed for me ages back), I find THIS HEAT nervewrackingly engaging enough to make me regret giving CAMBERWELL NOW the toss-off back inna eighties. If you happen to be cruising ebay and see someone bidding on their wares, you'll positively know who he may be!

THE BEST OF THE UNCLE FLOYD SHOW DVD (Shanachie)

One of the highlights of 1982 besides buying up xeroxed back issues of BOMP and waking up at five weekend mornings to go flea marketing with my uncle was going over to Little Vic's house and watching THE UNCLE FLOYD SHOW back when WKYC channel 3 in Cleveland was running it weeknights at seven. This was perhaps at the tail end of what I would call the "real" Golden Age of Creative Local Television, or at least a time when the indie and UHF stations still had a lotta classic 50s/60s aesthetics to its approach and even the Big City VHF's would be smart enough to stick on long-forgotten wowzers such as UNCLE FLOYD, INSIGHT and TOM AND JERRY during their pre-Prime Time hours, at least before the eighties homogenized everything into one big messy goop of local magazine programming. Anyway, watching UNCLE FLOYD was about as big a tee-vee thrill for me as getting an eyefulla any classic (and locally-suppressed) early-sixties series as THE TWILIGHT ZONE or ANDY GRIFFITH, and even a bigger thrill than staying up late on "questionable weather" nights drawing in distant UHF signals as far away as channel 16 in South Bend Indiana and this weird-o channel 17 in Michigan somewhere that was spending its pre-sign off hours broadcasting some interesting instructional program that looked as if it were made in 1963! Oh yeah, I know that you have your own decadent and purposefully low-grade lifestyles you just love to wallow in and that's your business, but frankly you haven't lived low-grade and just wreaked with self-loathing if you didn't stay up late in the seventies/eighties watching UHF stations flickering off the air filled to the brim with this indescribable sense of disgust for just about everything and everyone. Ah, the good old days...

Anyway, THE UNCLE FLOYD SHOW sure brings back those good ol' memories. For a guy who sure longed for the original age of local (loco?) tee-vee productions that fizzled out in the mid-seventies with only a few stragglers remaining here and there, UNCLE FLOYD was like a grande return to Kennedy-era programming with a big twist natch! Sure there was the host with his dummy (or more or less puppet---Oogie) and the opening routine straight out of some Johnson/Smith gag book, but instead of the YOGI BEAR and DEPUDY DAWG cartoons one had come to expect with the package (not to mention the kids from a nearby grade school ready to blurt some dirty joke and get the host all mad) you just got a whole lotta weird-o skits and strange comedy monologues delivered by either Floyd in one of his characters (mafioso Don Goomba, Grouch, Eddie Slobbo...) or with the supporting players like Loony Skip Rooney and that fat guy who was going bald that they used to make fun of because he was trying to hide it by combing his remaining strands over like I did before it became too ridiculous looking for even me to stand. In all, the acting, humor and overall performances by Floyd and his crew reminded me not so much of the local downhome kid shows of the past but the late-night humor/horror host programming that not only had its roots in the early-sixties post-MAD college humor of Ghoulardi and later on Houlihan and Big Chuck, but their spiritual spawn from the Ghoul and even Superhost who was to remain on the air until the Forces of Staid became too strong in the early-nineties. Little Vic thought it was groaningly stupid but I could understand, perhaps because I was born and bred on cheap local television like THE BARNEY BEAN SHOW and other lowbrow productions that looked so recreation room dingy to the point you woulda thunk they were being broadcast from the garage down the street! And maybe its because this sorta refined programming was being aired at a time when all I hadda worry about was purring up a hissyfit inna store so mom'd buy me a toy and the walloping I'd get if she didn't that I have such an affinity for it, but lemme tell ya...after watching THE UNCLE FLOYD SHOW while trying to cram alla the classic tee-vee that I could into my system, I just flashed back to my pubescent days to the point where I started having nightmares about skeletons grabbing me and drowning in an ocean just like I did when I was a kid! Fortunately no bedsy wetsying occurred unlike in my kiddie days, but gimme a few more viewings and who knows what watersports may occur...

TECHNICAL GLITCH NOTE: my DVD, perhaps because of the cheap assemblage of such, plays only when it feels like it which may be OK for it but not for me! You'd figure that there would be a certain point where technology is so up-to-date that in no way could it go wrong, but Shanachie has managed to make a disque that will foul up just as much as a typically burnt DVD offering which doesn't suit me too well either. Looks like my Uncle Floyd viewing will have to be limited to whenever the ol' computer feels like playing it, though if I dig out my old videotapes wherever they may be...

Vic Godard & the Subway Sect-TWENTY ODD YEARS, THE STORY OF... 2-CD set (Motion England)

I dunno why I still give a rat's (or a blogger's) well-traveled ass over a lotta this punk rock stuff but I most certainly do. Now, I'm not talking about "punk" in a BLOG TO COMM sense of wordtwist where everything from the Fendermen and Link Wray on up through Mike Heron, Can and Yoko Ono is considered punk rock but punk rock as pUnK or even "punque" as in 1977 spiky hair and lotsa rage and all that stuff that had psych/sociologists from here to Patagonia making all of the most outrageous and offbase accusations and theorizing since the days when Fredric Wertham dared tell the local Women's Club that there was more to that guy's shoulder than meets the eye. Let's face it, back when punk was making England all upchucking nauseous over having dared question its staid and patented gentlemanly pattern of utter hatred, I may have been having fun watching the fireworks but it wasn't like I was exactly buying into the game. Well, not exactly 100%...while I was finding fun in the occasional X-Ray Spex single which was making me buy less Frank Zappa, Henry Cow and King Crimson albums as time went by, it was more or less the likes of Patti Smith, Television and Pere Ubu that were turning my ears in the right direction. I'm sure my story was not that dissimilar to a thousand other rockmag-reading wahoos out there in blogland, but sheesh, I gotta admit that I thought the moderne atmosphere of New York Rock and Cleveland avant garageness was sure a lot more entertaining and engrossing than listening to the English mixing their music and their Marx while condemning the United States for its racism (and soo-prize soo-prize acting all "oh gosh" once their own kids began to give the Nazi salute en masse...)

I even prepared myself for this Subway Sect 2-CD history by playing my Drones CD in preparation. I figured that one lower-caste punk band would easily prepare me for another...that is, if the Subway Sect in fact were "lower-caste" punks to begin with but really, I gotta say that even though I hardly ever played my '86 Subway Sect hits collection and kinda written these guys off as yet another case of the too-post-for-ME punk syndrome (along with Dexy' Midnight Runners and Culture Club) their love of Dean Martin and the Velvet Underground was just as appealing as Roxy Music's similar digging of the Velvets along with Ethel Merman, and sometimes things like that get me RIGHT HERE if yaknowwaddamean...

So I gotta admit that I even like Vic Godard's early-sixties teenage pop groovings along with his more Velvets-induced punkisms (not to mention the typically '77 trashing of "Sister Ray" closing out disque one) because maybe he does seem so aw shucks about it like nobody has since. In their early state they're so pure that their only rival on the British punque front just hadda've been Wire (whose approach was very similar yet more intellectual 'n its no accident that both bands were on the tres chic Rough Trade label in different times in their careers), while later on they had evolved into such a tight and out-of-time pop act that I'm sure Joe Meek coulda produced 'em. (Or maybe it was that organ...) Whatever, I'll take these guys in small enough doses over most of their countrymen...it may be the sorta screech that would make anyone breastfed on Iggydoms gag, but it has its own personal drive to it, and at least I can play this knowing that its singer didn't have to weep out that bad unlike most of his compatrirats on the English fashion plate scene.

Various Artists-TETES LOURDES: FRANCAIS METAL DE PROTO: LE SUPER ROCK SERIE 1970 CD-R (Deidr France)

A little birdie (or a big Lou Rone) was tellin' me that I wasn't getting enough heavy metal into my bloodstream so I decided to pick up a few disques in order to rectify things. One item purchased was the reissue of the first Blue Oyster Cult album on CD with additional tracks, and while that one's gonna hafta soak a little in the briny waters of my picklejuiced psyche long enough for me to digest the whole thing, I think I can more than aptly tell y'all about TETES LOURDES a new sampling of heavy metal to have come out of the sainted nation of France during the early part of the decade we now call the seventies. I always thought that France was an apt enough rock & roll country, or at least I did back when I'd see all these Patti Smith singles culled from RADIO ETHIOPIA in the import section of many a booty-filled record store and figured that those French cats must be hip-de-la-cool, and given that France has had its share of high energy metallic wonders over the past few decades (Shakin' Street come to mind) the fact that there were tons of loud and raucous bands coming from their shores in the past doesn't shock me one bit.

And there were many, enough to fill out this neat-o disque with what someone out there considers the cream of the crop concerning Gallic Metallics. OK, a good hunka this ain't exactly wowsville (with hard and heavy horns turning the proceedings into yet another early-seventies Chicago/BS&T fake jazz smarm contest or standarized ripoffs of the biggies that may sound good, but only on a ripoff level) but a good portion is what I would call "exempliphique!", especially L'Assemblee's "Le Chien" with that Ubu-esque musette weaving in and out of the melody and Variations before they became "Les" Variations and got a bitta US of A "hey" for their MOROCCAN ROLL album (NEWSWEEK hated 'em calling the bunch "Les Derivations" while Kenne Highland flipped in the pages of GULCHER #0...guess which bastion of opinions I'M gonna pay attention to!).

Naturally the reason I got hold of this one was for the appearance of three Rotomagus tracks. These guys (from the unlikely hard rock city of Rouen, which went under the name Rotomagus during the days of Caesar) had been described to me as being a buncha Stooges fanatics who sounded like a cross between Hawkwind and Les Rallizes Denudes. Obviously picking up on such ears-to-ground hubbub as I've tended to do these past twentysome years I not only bought this CD-R but the group's three singles (each on a different label...who knows, if they had continued on they might have broken Captain Beefheart's own record of label switching!) and although I don't hear any real Stooges, Hawkwind or Denudes refs in the Rotomagus sound that doesn't mean this buncha Frenchies are yer typical beret, striped shirt and mousachioed mincers muttering "ooh-la-la" while carrying loaves of French bread everywhere they go! On "Eros" the lead singer moans like he's trying out for the opera right after his vasectomy while jews harps twang and flutes plays that sweet 'n lovely melody I've heard a millyun times yet can't identify for the life of me, while "Madame Wanda"'s a slow and dreamy crawl complete with an echoplexed tambourine. Too bad CBS dropped them, because they could've had another Blue Oyster Cult on their hands had they developed this group's strange mix of progressive, metal and punk. That one's guaranteed to get 'em into the heavy metal hall of fame, but the big surprise in store's the a-side from the group's final single entitled "Fighting Cock." This one has more of a Stooge-y bent to it, but I would say it more or less resembles seventies boogie metal more'n the Stooges' special brand of burn, coming off like that strange midway meet between Van Halen's and Thundertrain's take of "Hot For Teacher." By the way, the b-side to this single was left off the compilation for the sole fact that Rotomagus utilized a Mellotron on it. Don't go around saying that people don't have a sense of values anymore!

Anyway, for a good cop of metallic wonderment this disque should help fill the bill, and given how the metal tag has been dragged through the horse trough more'n even the punk one has maybe it's a good place for more'n a few metal mongerers to start over sorta like that guy who was so mentally screwed up his psychiatrist had him literally living his own life over again (diapers and all!) just so he could grow up STRAIGHT this time!


The Real Kids-FOGGY NOTION 10-inch EP (Norton)

You know that the rock "writing" (as opposed to rock critiquing) world is in a sad shape when the only chance we have to read Eddie Flowers' opinions are on press releases and CD booklets, or Miriam Linna's when she does the same thing or worse yet writes about the death of one of her record label's faveraves who's just bit the dust so to speak. And as you'd expect, the last thing Miriam wrote that any of us were privvy to was her "obituary" for Alan Paulino of the Real Kids, better known to us as "Alpo". And you can betcha that Miriam wrote a real heart-wrencher just a few days ago, telling us about the time she went with Alpo to see Tom Petty and got bum rushed out because Alpo was hecklin' 'em and this and that (don't worry, I will post the entire thing in the "comments section" for your own personal approval). Anyway, it was a good 'un, and I only hope that Miriam doesn't have to wait until someone else dies before letting us read her latest musically-inclined pizza-resistance (to quote the ever-lovin' Beaver Cleaver).

Anyway, Miriam's Alpo paen had me dragging out the 10-inch EP that Norton had recently released consisting of a buncha Real Kids songs(the Real Kids being Alpo's old group, ya dummy!)...one side's got nothing but 1974 vintage Velvet Underground songs done the Real Kids way while the other's a cover of a very Velvets-like Modern Lovers tune entitled "Fly Into The Mystery" that "fits in" with the main gist of this entire offering, as you should already know unless you've stumbled upon this blog looking for "Precious Flower Pressings of the Mind"! You may remember that Lovers track from back in the days when Jonathan Richman "redid it" on his infamous ROCK & ROLL WITH THE MODERN LOVERS platter, but before that song went acoustic it had a pretty electric, driving beat that Richman had long since lost, and it's sure nice hearing the Kids (pre-"Real" by the way...) doing it with all of that Boston-styled urge and angst that seems to have been lost in the shuffle of Boston turning from a hot bed of Velvet Underground worship and emulation to the city of the modern-day variety filled with a buncha uptight self-hating snits best represented by none other than Michael Bloom of (whatever happened to...) BOSTON ROCK fame, a fellow whom I pray is now hopelessly unemployed but given the narcissic leftchic nature of rock criticism these days who knows what unfortunately positive fate has befallen the "man".

Naturally I can't tell you what's on the grooves since my stereo system is still up in limbo (got a line on Little Vic's old turntable and amp but have yet to hear a word back) so in typical R. Meltzer fashion I will review this one solely by looking at the cover figuring that he usually did better describing the sounds therein by just giving the artwork a gander than playing the blasted thing, so why can't I! OK, I will admit that I have previously heard the Kids' take of "Foggy Notion" which was learned from Jonathan Richman and has the same sorta rote second generation feel to it as Mirrors' take, and I'm sure that the rest fits the same just-post-Velvet Underground bill that all those great early seventies bands did long before Velvets homage turned into eighties sap (with a few notable exceptions). However, I gotta give credit to Norton for that cover. It's a beautiful rendition of the WHITE LIGHT/WHITE HEAT sleeve adapted for the Kids, and although I gotta admit that I get sicker'n a sack of cement over seeing a lotta these newbies taking past accomplishment whether it be of the Velvets or some garage band or pioneering label and adapting it to their new current mode of stifling seriousness (like, how many times have you seen Velvets postmarks utilized to push some of the lousiest attempts at rock music extant? It's like too many alternative wonks out there don't have any fresh ideas of their own so they have to soil the sainted name of the Velvets in order to gleam a little of their aura or something!), but I certainly don't mind it when Norton does the exact same thing. At least their heads, their rockism heads that is are on straight and its not like they're "borrowing" from the Velvet Underground legend to push utter crap, dontcha think??? No, this is perhaps the purest THANK YOU anyone could give to the Velvet Underground and all the hope they held for people like me in the seventies and eighties, and it sure rings a lot truer'n when even Rhino does it nowadays.

Anyway, its stuff like teenage garage bands playing Velvet Underground(-styled) songs that used to have me salivating from here to Canberra and back because, I dunno if you remember but back in the old days Velvet Underground-inspired rockism was of such a rare status (and stature) that having even something as now-fluffed off as a copy of the ARCHETYPES budget/cheapo WL/WH reish was like having your very own MOON ROCK, and given that you thought you were the only one within a fifty-mile radius who KNEW only added to the thunder in your soul. Nowadays it's all old hash especially after reading the same ol' cliches over and over (you know..."if it weren't for the Velvet Underground we wouldn't have a quarter-century of peep rock!"), but Billy and Miriam can get away with it because they always do it RIGHT!!!, and I hope they continue to do it so for the next eighty years or so...I'll stick around if they do!

Hey, slap my back! This must've been the longest review of a disc that I haven't even heard yet!!! And now I can't wait until I do!!!

(By the way, here's ONE Boston-oriented post-Velvets offering that I HAVE heard, and although I wish I could recommend it to you I just for the life of me can't! Its the reunion album by Fox Pass, who back in the early/mid-seventies were yet another local band stoked not only on the Velvet Underground but the Modern Lovers as well getting a lotta notoriety [and eventually some boss New York gigs and fanzine coverage] in the process. I gotta admit that what I had previously heard of Fox Pass, mostly their 1976 indie-produced single, was fine enough (or it was last time I played it about seven years back), and if we had just left it there I would've told ya that Fox Pass were yet another one of those great bands in the Velvet Underground "tradition" that came outta Boston in the seventies and eighties even...no more and certainly no less. Anyway, like a lotta pushing-fifty types who want that ONE LAST CHANCE at past glories these guys got back together and even released a CD in the process [available through CD Baby], and if anything it just goes to show you that having early seventies punk aesthetics and Velvet Underground mania is fine, but filtering the whole thing through the past few decades of alternative mush certainly puts a huge damper on things! The results: a disque that I really can't tell apart from at least a hundred other similar-minded numbed offerings I've had the displeasure to hear, with little of the original drive and feeling [with brains intact] that Fox Pass were originally noted for. Oh well, another bag of fodder down the drain!)

(One final parenthetical note: my current mini-obsession with Boston-bred Velvets homage stems from an issue of Count Joseph Viglione's VARULVEN fanzine, an early 1975 ish at that before the mag went totally into rock music! In this issue amidst the horror movie info and Alfred Hitchcock pix was an article on Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground, a nice albeit typically fanzine-esque piece which gives some of the Count's views on the man called Lou and his music for all that was worth [and to me it was worth PLENTY]. What striked me most about this piece was not what was said, which had pretty much been said before, but the closing remarks about the Modern Lovers and their Velvetness as well as the Kids and their cover of "Foggy Notion"[!]...not to mention some group called "The Astrals" who the Count told us were carrying on the tradition!!!!! Having never heard of the Astrals and certainly wanting to, I emailed Mr. Viglione to no avail. Even a Velvets maniac like Imants Krumins drew a blank making me toss out the question to YOU, dear blog reader. So, does anyone out there have any concrete [or even cement...hee hee, the blogmeister must have his little joke!] information on these Astrals? Any help would be appreciated!)

FANZINE REVIEWS: naturally there aren't any new fanzines around for this homebody to sink his brain into, but that's not gonna stop me because there's plenty of OLD STUFF to slop around! And as far as old goodies go, the copy of Scotland's Only Fanzine That Still Prints ARCHAIC LINGO UNKNOWN OUTSIDE THE BORDERS entitled THE NEXT BIG THING (issue #9/10) that I latched onto sure helped to fill the bill as far as satiating my usual fanzine cravings. Since THE NEXT BIG THING was one of the only fanzines in the original proto-punk tradition to survive the post-BACK DOOR MAN seventies and work its way well into the following decades without losing a beat, and since I've been a fan and follower of it since at least 1981 when I actually subscribed thinking it would actually be coming out on a regularly scheduled basis, you could say that I have a small affinity for the magazine even though editor Lindsay Hutton used to roll the mags up and mail 'em inna tube meaning I hadda IRON the things out upon arrival, but I won't let that get to me too much...

Anway, this 9/10 double ish is a patented BLOG TO COMM wowzer, a xerox-y thing with one staple in the corner making it hard to read on the toilet, but still choc-fulla fun and games both entertaining (Suicide, Zantees...) and not (Bruce Springsteen?!?!?!?!). I gotta give Hutton credit for continuing on the same hallowed path of high energy rockism that he began on, and even when he does get off the beaten path (like in his anti-Irish tirades where he tells people to stomp on the IRA but "convienently" forgets the UDL) its not hard to get back on track with the reviews of all those great indie singles that used to pack a powerful punch before the entire genre petered out, plus even the articles on Sparks (by some guy named Steven Morrissey from Manchester...sarcastic me thinks the name does sound familiar) and the Psychedelic Furs (back during their early good days before they went off the alternative edge) seem to snuggle in well next to those on the Cramps and Damned so if you've written Hutton off because of his anti-American tirades and his hatred of dagos, it's time to re-think your preconceived notions. So, if you've got any old issues of THE NEXT BIG THING lying about pull up a haggis and a warm ale and settle back for a reading experience that you just don't get that much of anymore, even though some wonks such as I try...

And last but not least lemme tell you about this (relative) UK newie that I've also obtained over the past few weeks. I was interested in reading OUT THERE considering its date (1976) and the roster of stars featured in its pages (Dylan, Patti Smith, Eno, Stranglers...) ever since I heard about it a few years back. Given the date and the fanzine's, er, tastes I kinda had OUT THERE figured as some British take on the BACK DOOR MAN/DENIM DELINQUENT school of gonzo rock writing pretty much in the style of Lindsay Hutton's creation albeit on a more sixties/trad level (remember...Dylan). Well, it turns out that maybe I was close in my assessments yet off by a mile. OUT THERE was/is a fine rockism-oriented mag true, but printed on slick paper and more or less digest-sized, and certainly not in a gonz groove unlike the aforementioned trailblazers but don't hold that against it.

But OUT THERE was spiffy enough, a product of local punk and bigtime rockcrit wannabe Paul Morley (or "Paulus" as he's known here) in his attempts to scale the walls of NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS-dom by showcasing his own writings for the powers to be to see, sorta like the way Russell Desmond did his own CAN'T BUY A THRILL in order to impress Lester Bangs into giving him a job at CREEM. Only Morley's attempt succeeded while Desmond's failed. (And I guess it was sorta like Hutton's own attempts to impress NME by sending NBT to Tony Parsons, only to have said mag returned torn to shreds complete with a hard-to-decipher note from Parsons telling of his hatred for the whole affair!) Anyway, OUT THERE was a nice read with a wide range of subject matter for wide-ranging tastes, including a piece on Ted Nugent (standard fanzine fare at the time), the Ramones (a pithy putdown) and even a brief bit on the up-and-coming Stranglers where Morley puts a Velvet Underground spin on the usual Doors-comparisons that were plaguing the band up and down the line. The writing is good...typical NME/British rock critiquing stylings that anyone weaned on Charles Shaar Murray and Nick Kent would be expected to do, and even with the slick paper and pro print quality extant I gotta admit that OUT THERE, from the snazzy Dylan cover pic reproed en regalia above to the millionth artistic/introspective early Patti Smith article of the day, is everything I've wanted my own efforts to be like only money, intelligence and a helping hand have kept me from my desired goal. I'm only kidding, but this one did keep me reading for hours on end!

(Before I close this one, I gotta mention the Dylan piece, which was a report on his Rolling Thunder Revue that seems typical of the times though something no self-respecting punk woulda dared print a year later, coupled with an imaginary sicko interview concocted by none other than Paul Krassner, a guy I always thought was the new Count Screwloose especially after reading his old articles from the late-fifties vintage MAD [y'know, "Aloafa Bread, Ajuga Wine..."]. He seemed to have a few redeeming bits of value at least over the past couple of years when some of the libertarians would clue us in to his new guise, but this thing kinda made me wanna forget the guy ever existed inna first place! By the way, I have a funny story Don Fellman told me about his brief association with Krassner back in 1961 or so, but I'll only tell you on request, and after I get Don's OK!)

(Another flag wave...speaking of old fanzines I'm still in the market for many of the old seventies ones [real or copied] in case you wanna work out a trade of some sorts. One rag I'm especially interested is reading is Peter Tomlinson's NIX ON PIX, so anyway here's the feeler and if you feel it, fine enough with me!)

NEXT GO 'ROUND...Blue Oyster Cult, SAHB, the Sonny Sharrock Band with Pharoah Sanders, the Hollywood Brats, and who knows what else...

3 comments:

Christopher said...

Here's the official Norton press release by Miriam Linna regarding the passing of the Real Kids' Alpo. So don't go sayin' there's no good writing on the web:

We begin with sad news. Bass player Allen "Alpo" Paulino passed away at home
in Massachusetts unexpectedly on February 7. Alpo was a founding member of
Boston's REAL KIDS and will be hugely missed by all who knew him.

As Tears Go By: I Remember Alpo
by Miriam

I saw the Real Kids for the first time in the Spring of 1977 when CBGB's
hosted a weekender of Boston bands. They blew my tiny little brain to bits and
proceeded to do so each and every time I saw them. The original lineup of John
Felice, Allen "Alpo" Paulino, Billy Borgioli and Howie Ferguson has continued to
deliver the same brand of pure teenage energy in their occasional reunions
over the years. I became pals with the band that first night at CBGB's, just
before they signed with Marty Thau, who was hatching his new record label, Red
Star Records. In fact, it was the band who asked Marty to hire me as the press
agent at Red Star, a job that taught me a lot about the biz. One of the first
tasks at hand at the label was attending the recording sessions for the Real
Kids debut album, an amazing experience that I'll never forget. (I had been in a
recording studio just once before, when the Cramps recorded their first demos
at Bell Sound with Richard Robinson-- and that had been quite the experience,
banging the tubs in the same room that Teenage Head was cut.) But now,
watching the Real Kids explode with their own brand of anger-exhuberance-angst
fueled with endless beer and pizza, near fist-fights and regular blow-ups, I felt
like I was privy to the making of something that would change the world.
Records had always been one big giant mystery to me- how a piece of revolving
plastic could initiate a physical and emotional response from the listener was
incredible enough, but watching the band blast through the sounds that would end up
on wax was, and still is, nothing short of miraculous. It would be some years
before I visited a pressing plant in person and saw blobs of PVC being
stamped into rock n' roll records-- that, friends, is better than any thrill ride in
the world. The sight, sound and smell of molten wax and steam and sweaty
machine operators, the clang and bang and hiss-- oh, man! But I digress. So, John
and Alpo came stayed at my apartment on East 5th Street when the band came
down from Boston to record the debut album, and I got to know them as the
genuine, fabulous people that they were. I remember one night off from the studio,
we went to the Bottom Line to see Tom Petty, who was starting to make some
noise. The guys didn't like him a bit, and expressed their displeasure. Alpo was
quite vocal in his peanut gallery commentary and sure enough, all three of us
were quickly pulled up by the collars and removed from the premises. John
decided to stop over at Marty's pad and Alpo and I headed over to my place to
listen to records and read old teen magazines. He was great at doing soft spoken
Brian Jones imitations-- a major Rolling Stones fanatic. That one night, we were
blasting records and yapping til about three in the morning, waiting for John
to come back. When he didn't return, we figured he'd decided to stay over at
Marty's with Howie and Billy. Early in the morning, when the sun was coming up
and we were on our umpteenth cup of coffee, we heard a loud thud in the
hallway. When Alpo opened the door, we found John lying on the floor, covered with
blood. "Why didn't you open the door?" he wailed. He had been beaten up by
some jocks on the block, and had made it up six flights before he had collapsed.
He said he didn't have the strength to knock any more, but could hear us in
the front room blasting records, having fun. I'll never forget Alpo dragging
John in and cleaning him up, all logic and clarity and responsibility, quietly
promising vengeance on the curs who had done this to his friend. That night
came back in conversations with Alpo over the years-- we would talk quite
honestly and naturally about life and music and the future and how great it was to be
alive and how everybody who thought different were obviously wrong because we
were so RIGHT. We had the same conversation six weeks ago, right around
Christmas, when Alpo called, bursting with joy about a great idea that he was
putting into action. He said he had quit being a drug counselor and that he was
looking to get a job at a coffee shop so that he could concentrate on putting
together a band called C. Watts (for Charlie!), made up of guys who had never
played instruments before. In fact, they were on their way to go buy some drums,
and Alpo was asking about what all they should get-- I advised him to get the
smallest kit possible and we have some laughs about the less-is-more
mentality. I was thrilled to hear Alpo in such excellent spirits, and again we talked
about how great it was that the Stones were still on top and that rock n' roll
was still running our lives. Alpo was a gentleman, a considerate, intelligent,
thoughtful, energetic human being with immense talent, not only as a bass
player, but as a singer. His harmonies with John are absolutely inimitable, and
essential to their sound. He never veered from that attitude, that he was clued
into the Real Deal, that he was doing good work by playing and living rock n'
roll. You've heard stories of his heartaches, his battles with personal
demons, his overcoming the accident in which he lost fingers- no small thing to a
stringbuster! He overcame all of these setbacks, survived them with a heart as
clear and fresh and busting with positivity as I had ever heard it. He said he
would call again from a C. Watts rehearsal and have the band play some stuff
over the phone, but that call did not come. I figured either they weren't
ready to be heard, or that some members had fallen through the cracks. But I had
counted on getting that call eventually, with some wildass beat-happy mayhem
blasting incoherently over the other end, probably blazing through an inept Get
Off My Cloud with a great bass line. Alpo's funeral is tomorrow morning.
It'll be a cold, lonesome drive up to Boston on the Mass Pike and then further
along on Route 128 (and the power lines) up to Beverly, where last prayers will
be canted in memory of our friend. Our love and condolences to Allen's family,
and to John, Howie, and Billy of the original Real Kids and to the sophomore
lineup's Billy Cole, too, and to the Nervous Eaters, the Cheater Slicks and
unnamed C. Wattsters and everyone everywhere who basked, at one time or many, in
the glory of our friend Alpo.

Better Be Good,
- Miriam Linna

Anonymous said...

Hey,

Just happened across this blog while Googling myself (like you don't!). This entry of yours is 2 years old, but if you're still interested in seeing my 35-year-old fanzine, let me know.

Pete Tomlinson
petertomlinson@earthlink.net

M said...

Miriam,
I never read your tribute until it was linked on the varmint's facebook entry. Very personal and appreciated. Wow. What an exciting time for the real kids and music. It was hard news to take when Allen died. Me and Peter and our male offspring were living in Texas at the time.
I'll remember the joy in Allen and the real kids everytime the needle hits the record and I feel like dancin'

Milissa Greenberg
milissa5678@yahoo.com