Sunday, February 26, 2006


VICARIOUSNESS PT. 3

Still no big impetus for me to do any "major", epic-length writing for you right now (mainly due to a combination of a plain ol' lack of initiative and pure laziness, or maybe Lang's and Hinman's psychic voodoo is finally starting to have its effect on me after all these months!) though I will throw a few tidbits your way in order to prove what a deeply caring individual I truly am. Yawn!

BLUE OYSTER CULT CD (Columbia/Legacy)

Here's one that I haven't heard in quite some time, in fact in over twenty years ever since I borrowed a cassette of it offa John Stanton to spin during the morning work drudgery back when we were both working this sleazoid job I prefer not to get into too much detail about. Sure glad I got a copy for my own enjoyment even two decades later, not only because of the actual album itself (which most rock critics made out to be the next logical evolutionary step back when this monster was unleashed on a dying heavy metal populace during the early days of 1972), but because of the 1969-vintage bonus tracks which more or less reflect the umlauted ones' true apex during their Stalk-Forrest Group incarnation (y'know, when R. Meltzer was blabbing up and down the pages of CIRCUS about West Coast Phil Lesh-isms meet Moby Grape this and East Coast Velvet Underground pounce that---it's all reprinted in DENIM DELINQUENT #6 in case you can't find the original, and believe-you-me I wanted to reprint the thing w/pic in the latest BLACK TO COMM SOOOOO BAD only CIRCUS never returned my email and I didn't think I should just run it w/o their own personal consent, moralistic midgie that I am!). While not as fulfilling as the Elektra product, these previously uncirculated tracks show Buck, Eric, Allen and the rest long before they decided to hop on the heavy metal bandwagon and were firmly entrenched in psych territory, proud darlings of the Stonybrook set which methinks accounted for more than a few hosannas at the hands of Perlman and Meltzer which seem to ring on even this far down the line. As for the album proper, I find it a pleasant-enough mid-energy metallic clanger despite the group in name and even style unconsciously reminding me of way too many classic rock wonks I hadda battle in the early-eighties who spent their bong-laden time raising these guys to the same lofty plateau of musical perversion as Styx, Journey and REO Speedwagon (three examples that could be used to prove that all that talk about markets and consumer capabilities maybe just might just be WRONG as all those early-eighties radio reformers said they were!). It's not easy to get those terminal losers outta my mind so's I can enjoy this disque for what it is, but then again why do I keep thinking of Steely Dan when I play this? Who knows...maybe their kinky-enough debut CAN'T BUY A THRILL is as East Coast dark smarm as various critics made it (and the Cult) out to be? I'll have to ask Commissioner Ellison about that one one of these days...

UK Subs-THE SINGLES 1978-1982 CD (Progressive Records, Canada)

Some "commentator" once made a point about me 'n my writing "oeuvre" along the lines that "yeah, that Chris has championed a lotta good things over the years, but he's also championed a lotta bad things as well!" An interesting point, only I'm not exactly too sure as to what this long-forgotten blogdropper means by "good" and "bad"...I mean, some people thought the Seeds were the most horrendous thing to come out of late-sixties El Lay given not only their "bobbysoxer" image but their general slightly-advanced "bubblegummy" sounds (and even Greg Shaw admitted that he thought the Seeds were "for girls" back when they were making records!). I naturally feel differently about 'em, so am I championing "bad music" when I cheerlead for the Seeds? Or the 1910 Fruitgum Company for that matter???

But then again I can like things just because I find that they are bad, that is if their "badness" has some element to it to make it entertaining or at least engaging to your ears on a level perhaps different than what the perpetrators in question originally had in mind. Of course, couple that with a good mood and maybe a few drinks in me and who knows what kinda drek out there would sound pleasing to my ears! And I'm sure that I'm not the only aficionado out there who feels this way...after all, listening to progressive rock group Pentwater live at CBGB on their CD and the positive crowd reaction to their Gentle Giant/Genesis-inspired musings would lead me (or even you) to believe that a rock audience more attuned to the up-n-comin' "avant garde" would be conduit to progressive rock...though given the amount of pre-show tokes and ingestion of fermented beverages said audience imbibed in throughout the evening, who knows?

So where does that put the UK Subs? Considering just how this group evokes more polarized response than Mr. A I thought I'd give 'em another try especially in order to hear their take on the Velvets "chestnut" "Waiting For The Man"...eh, it's all late-seventies punk rock for what good or bad that might imply to you but other'n for an introduction I must say that the whole think just zoomed by me. Of course if I caught 'em live I'd have a jolly good time of it, but it's not that I'd tred too much on their "badness" when others can be just as "bad" though redeemingly "good" or at least "bad" using Chuck Eddy musical feelers yet "good" using mine. Understand? Good, then maybe somebody could explain it to ME!

The Sensational Alex Harvey Band-TOMORROW BELONGS TO ME (Vertigo England, burned for me by Michael Snider)

Here's another one that has me flashing all the way back to the Golden Age of Import Bins when just about every store'd have at least one English Rolling Stones "Greatest Hits 'n B-sides" collection (like ROCK 'N' ROLLING STONES) stuck somewhere inna cracks and I was more'n anxious to grab copies of UK import covers and compare 'em with their Amerigan Cousins because, well, I am anal retentive! And as far as imports and their domestic counterparts go, there was no group more import-y than the Sensational Alex Harvey Band. A lotta people forget just how humongous this guy coulda been had the mode of the music not changed and Alex got swept up in the punk storm so to speak...after all, most of his wares were available here inna U. S. of Whoa and even in those department store bins which always seemed to be lacking, and the guy even appeared on DON KIRSHNER'S ROCK CONCERT back when you hadda endure that nurk's nasal intros (and what seemed like a dozen disco and singer-songwriter acts) in order to get to the interesting gunk! Yeah, Harvey was hot stuff for awhile though it's too bad he hadda fizzle out both here (first with Vertigo US dropping him and then Atco [who picked up the pieces] doing the same after the live album) and then overseas when the punkdom he helped pave the way for suddenly made him obsolete.

Anyway, TOMORROW BELONGS TO ME, even upon first listen (passed on it back then because, frankly, money was is high demand for a snot-filled mid-teen just getting the hang of it all!) proves itself to be a high-contender as far as the mid-seventies import rock sweepstakes went. Having little (if any) of the progressive whiz kid brainiacness that permeated a good portion of the Euro scene at the time, Harvey and band instead borrow from the best of both the AM and FM of the day not only with their tasty take on pre-disco hard funk ("Ribs and Balls") and punky straight-ahead rock ("Action Strasse" which was later covered by La Peste) but with the extended romp (which is supposed to appeal to a prog crowd but is too skewered even for them) of "The Tale of the Giant Stone Eater" where the miasma moves from rock to classical to metal to Hollywood theme music to C&W in this mad tale of LOST WORLD mutanto bop that's so aptly displayed on the brilliant front cover. Snider says Zappa and while that might fit in, I gotta say that Harvey even surpasses what the ol' smelly one was doing at the same time because, in no way did this fellow oldster have any fusion inclinations whatsoever...

Interesting point...don't wanna show my ignorance of Gee-Bee musical history but the title track is the same song that Skrewdriver later rocked up during the early eighties. Don't want (or care) to know the social significance of it all (I have the feeling it has something to do with British imperialism and mowing down Irish orphans or something like that...well, if Skrewdriver did it...) but it serves the same purpose as "Anthem" did on THE IMPOSSIBLE DREAM as some sorta cohesive capper of seriousness on the rather satiric contents therein. In all, I find it a marked improvement over NEXT and almost as brain-thud as FRAMED! What I wanna know is...when's the Alex Harvey revival gonna start?

THE HOLLYWOOD BRATS CD (Cherry Red UK, also burned for me by Mike Snider in exchange for The Standells' TRY IT and Chrome's HALF MACHINE LIP MOVES)

Having never heard these Hollywood Brats (who I keep getting confused with some similar-named bunch...perhaps the Berlin Brats outta Hollywood who once had Shaun Cassidy in their ranks much to the chagrin of mom Shirley Jones!) I gotta say that I was pleasantly pleased as punch. Proto-punk, like the punk term itself, can take on a lotta twists and turns from the Modern Lovers' teen-angst through Can's virtuoso garageisms and Umela Hmota, but for the most part it was probably hard-edged pseudo-metallic flash like the Hollywood (and just about any other) Brats that made up the vast majority of punk wannabes across the globe long before the British spikers decided to give bores like Caroline Coon a run for their gravy train money back at the cusp of late-seventies mind-numbed bliss. I also keep thinking about that other group of Brats from New York just called "the" Brats who made a pretty good hard-rock coulda-been-commercial blast around the same time before meeting up with Arthur Kane and punking into the Corpsegrinders, and who knows, maybe all the "Brat" groups inna seventies coulda gotten together and formed a club or something!

Whaddeva, this album's a pretty good slab of hard rockism with enough Dolls style to keep your attention at least half the time. Nothing to brag about, but still fun enough as far as Dollsclones go. Better'n the Frenchies, and even when they do their "obligatory" switch-hit track (a cover of "Then He Kissed Me") they don't come off faggy just like Handsome Dick and Adny didn't when they decided to slap "I Got You Babe" onto THE DICTATORS GO GIRL CRAZY. And its so real in a fake way that I still woulda sworn these guys were from Hollywood itself...I mean the whole polished crassness of the thing just radiates Rodney's English Disco, y'know?

T. Rex-BOOGIE ON CD (Abraxas Italy); Marc Bolan and T. Rex-I DANCED MYSELF OUT OF THE WOMB 2-CD set (Abraxas Italy)

You can bet that there's a big T. Rex revival going on over here at the BLOG TO COMM office, and why not??? I mean, not only was Marc Bolan one of the hippest movers and shakers of early-seventies rock & roll, but like I said in the latest issue of my own sainted magazine it was none other'n Marc and his Rexies who got my own inner juices flowing (and probably helped edge me onto menarche or whatever they call it for boys) with regards to rock music as being something more than that stuff the big kids played on the car radio to and from school. But enough about my vastly interesting life...what I've got here're two items that've been floating around for more'n a few years but certainly fulfill all the T. Rex mania a fluttering around in my brain as we speak. BOOGIE ON's got that acoustic set that Marc recorded for various radio station visits across the US (rather'n just pull out the guitar and start strummin' himself) which has been circulating amongst the tape traders for quite some time but at least this sounds complete, while the live tracks from the heights of T. Rextacy (Clifton Park, Rotherham England 8/28/71) are pretty hard metallic clangy in their own decidedly non-teenybop way! Great, but you can get the entire kadoodle enclosed on here and much more if you can only get ahold of I DANCED MYSELF OUT OF THE WOMB, a two-disc set that not only features the cream of ELECTRIC WARRIOR done live but such soo-prizes as a thirteen-minute-plus "Elemental Child" and some early Tyrannosaurus Rex-period acoustic-era tracks done...well, acoustic! Forget BOOGIE ON and save your rubles for this twofer which immedately makes the other one obsolete! (Editor's note: I bought both of these packages from the folks at Forced Exposure who should've tipped me off that I was buying an additional disque which had everything the other one offered, and yeah they mighta thought I was getting it as a gift for someone else or the like but they shoulda warned me about the potentiality of me wasting my hard-begged dough! To which I say...feh!)

IN OTHER NEWS: It would be a lie on my part if I told you that the death of Don Knotts last Friday didn't affect me in the least, and although I usually don't like to bring up such sordid topics as death on this blog unless its the wished deaths of people I don't particularly like I feel that in Knotts' case I must make an exception. At least for me, Knotts represented a good part of what made early-mid-sixties television so hot and downright obsessive not only back then (when the television energies were certainly cooking not only on a national, but local level) but in retrospect well over forty years later. Like most early-sixties fare, THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW had a well-crafted, engaging appeal to it that transcends time, and especially given the high-energy era from whence it came it's no surprise that this show has been part and parcel to the Stigliano abode not only on Monday nights when it originally aired, but weeknights in the seventies when it was being rerun daily and later on in the early-nineties when I'd tape morning broadcasts to be viewed en-masse as a sweet antidote to a lotta the crap that was being dumped on mid-Ameriga even that early in the game. Let's face it, THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW was class even after Knotts left, but its those early-sixties black and white ones which still entertain and move you more'n Ex-Lax almost a half-century later!

If any particular episode featuring Knotts enters into my mind at this time, it surprisingly isn't one of the better-known and oft-talked about ones. The one that keeps sticking in my beanie is a notoriously overlooked one yet in my opinion one of the best...the one where a couple of redneck farmers (one played by Alan Melvin, perennial ANDY GRIFFITH badguy later to give Sgt. Carter so much trouble on GOMER PYLE USMC) give Deputy Fife a hassle when Fife warns them they can't sell any of their produce within a half-mile or so of the city limits. Naturally Sheriff Taylor fixes things for Fife by telling these guys that Fife can become a regular terror once he does these strange, er, mannerisms such as a certain nervous tick and the like (I forget all that he's supposed to do, but it includes the way he'd go for his revolver etc.) which gets the farmers all nervous and packing when Fife does come back and gets his face ticking and shaking! After the farmers discover that Fife ain't anything Taylor made him out to be (while stopping at Wally's filling station and hearing the locals razz on about Fife) they go back to where they were and set up all over again, which then leads to that great monologue Fife gives about how he's the law and has earned his respect which he should get, even from pushy redneck farmers...people talk about that one speech Fife makes when Andy is under investigation for dereliction of duty, but the one he gives to those farmers in many ways seems to top even that one.

Y'know, I kinda get the feeling now that a lotta oldtimey film fans had when I was a kid and the silent-era stars were starting to die off. Boy, it takes things like Don Knotts' own passing to really put this whole universe and where I'm stuck inna middle of it in its proper perspective!

Onto something happier...I think! With the emminent demise of the old CBGB just months away, I've been scouring the schedules of their various stages to see if there are any acts worthy of tuning into before that club vamooses for newer pastures (unless owner Hilly Kristel has yet another trick up his sleeve!). A lotta the stuff that had been playing there seemed to be of the standard fare that would interest me about as much as watching Batman and Robin on their perfect dream date, but as of late there have been a few things I felt were worth glomming via cybercast for and although I'm still having the typical technical troubles that have plagued many a show over the past six years at least there are some gigs coming up that are worth tuning in even in long-buffered doses. Now I'll admit that I was interested in Pale Horse not only because I thought they'd be in a seventies heavy metal vein having opened for the Shirts and all, but I found their sound to be less Motorhead and more typical modern thrash-rock that came out of the inevitable merger of the hardcore and metal styles. Nothing for me to stick around for, but believe it or not I kinda liked The Swingset Mamas, a rock & roll band for the toddler set that played the CB's 313 Gallery this very afternoon! The Mamas (a buncha young moms who want to spread the good news of toddlerdom and buckling up to a snappy rock beat!) are but the first in a series of kiddle rock bands who will be playing the aforementioned Gallery on Sunday afternoons, an I gotta say that what I've heard from the Mamas was good enough not only for the widdle kids but the folks who brought 'em...kinda like Jonathan Richman only for the pre-school set and without any hints of adolescent sex mania. I especially liked the opening number which was one mama's love song to her own kinder (yes, even a hard-nosed tough guy like me can have his soft spot, his own special brand of tenderness and compassion...) as well as the blues-y song incorporating "knock knock" jokes, and it was really funny seeing all these little ones front and center for the show sitting on the floor while the Mamas performed and not one of 'em threw up or pelted the stage with pablum! I mean, after all this was CBGB.

Tonight I'm gonna try to tune in the Hanuman Sextet and the James Finn Quartet (avant jazz returns to Sunday nights!), a trend which I hope will continue even if Dee Pop is still running (?) his Freestyle Series at Jimmy's Tavern, and on Tuesday the John Fahey Birthday Celebration at the Gallery will certainly be my own personal Mardi Gras!

Anyway, I sure blabbed on a lot longer'n I expected (I guess the impetus was there after all...tough luck Dave!). Frankly I think my writing style's dullsville and awkward beyond belief this time but who knows, maybe some insignificant little blubberbutt of a blogcrawler might get a little enjoyment and knowledge outta it all. Anyway, I'll try to fill you in on what I saw on the cybercasts and all the acts I neglected to mention this time next go 'round, whenever that may be...(it may be sooner'n you think, so keep tuned!).

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

"Tomorrow Belongs To Me" is from "Cabaret". It's the song sung by the Nazi character.

Christopher said...

Thanks for the information (not familiar with CABARET at all other'n the oft-performed title track). Now I can see why Alex Harvey covered it. I can also see why Skrewdriver did as well!

tim ellison said...

I don't know much of anything about Steely Dan, Chris (except for the fact that I've never really cared for their hits all that much!)!

The first B.O.C. album loses me a bit with "Screams" and "Workshop of the Telescopes." I think "She's as Beautiful as a Foot" and "Redeemed" could have easily worked as Stalk-Forrest tracks, though. Really good. (The harmonies on the chorus of "Redeemed" sound like the Band!) "The Last Days of May" has some of that earlier west coast psych influence, too. And I like rest of the metal songs on the songs on the album. What do you think of the prog ending to "Cities on Flame with Rock and Roll," Chris?

Christopher said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Christopher said...

Tim-I thought you might have been familiar with the early Steely Dan recordings given your almost-universal tastes! Considering they did have some early "underground" credo I had the feeling that there might have been some heretofore undetected worthiness in at least a small portion of their material. (I recall that Jimi Lalumia said that the best show he ever saw at Max's Kansas City was Steely Dan's, so who knows?) I've also heard that their soon-to-be-MIA vocalist David Palmer was pretty good even though he never appeared on the hits...for what that's worth!

As for the proggy ending to "Cities on Flame," I kinda like it, though it's more fake jazzy-rock than prog per se not too dissimilar to something you would've heard on a halfway decent krautrock album at the time. Still, I must admit that I find it hard at times to listen to this group perhaps because of the their playing up (consciously or not) to the classic rock battalion of the late-seventies (and the Chuck Eddy-esque apologists for them) that always got my goat and continue to do so for that matter...I mean, even today after an entire quarter-century I tend to associate the BOC w/the laze-out bong crowd that put 'em on the map at the time even though I have no major qualms about there music. But that's just me, and I do tend to lump in music and the aura about it with a good portion of the audience that eats it up...so maybe we CAN blame the fans this time!

Cary Grant said...

for some reason my favorite blue oyster cult stuff is the stalk forrest group, AND, their "fire of unknown origin" lp circa '81. a cassette of it was stuck in a friend's car, and the damn thing really grew on me. cheesy, i mean, really cheesy, "metal" in the sci-fi sense, but the dinky keyboard runs in "after dark" just slay me.