Sunday, March 26, 2006


Before I commence with the usual fun an' games I believe it should be my duty to comment on a previous posting which has unexpectedly developed into somewhat of a controversy, or at least as much of a controversy as one can come up with doing a blog these days. On March 21st of this year, I published a picture of a man alleged to be none other than one David Lang of the infamous manwithoutballs blog a.k.a. Lexicon Douchebag family of Cee-Dees and whatnot which was taken from this person's own "page" so to speak. Along with this "alleged" picture of the blogger in question (we'll get to that later) I printed a simple request that anyone seeing this person pictured (presumably the author in question) do the best thing for humanity and shoot the evil perpetraitor at the base of the heart (in order to inflict as much agony upon the victim thus preparing him for a rather crisp afterlife) and well, it turns out that my "request" at first elicited two very similar responses (posted within a few minutes of each other!) by an anonymous person as well as a blogger named "Dave"...whether this be thee Dave (as in Lang, he's too tiny to be a "Long") or not I do not know, but whoever this reader was he actually wrote in saying that the person who was pictured on that particular myspace thingie was in fact the long-late Minuteman guitarist D. Boon and NOT the infamous Langster whom we all know and love/hate depending on your own viscosity! Well, that certainly was a surprise to me (like I said, I actually own FOUR Minutemen recordings and the fellow pictured on the cover of those and the one on the myspace page didn't look alike one iota to me...well, maybe two or three iotas but I would never think that Mr. Boon and the man pictured were one 'n the same'r anything like that!), and in fact if this person pictured on the posting is in fact D. Boon then all I gotta say is Dave Lang has pulled off one of the biggest (and cruelest) hoaxes upon the world of rock & roll fandom since that episode recounted in TEENAGE WASTELAND GAZETTE where someone (I believe it was Larry Willette) entered the Bobby Vinton Lookalike Contest using a picture of the young Ozzie Nelson! But really dear readers, can we trust a man who would go to the lengths and extremes of posting a picture of a long gone alternative rock hero and passing it off as his own personage? I mean, will wonders (and blatant dishonesty) ever cease??? I think that such actions speak reams (no, not that...calm down Dave!) about what type of person we're dealing with here, and if any lesson is to be learned from this debacle...please tell me what it is!!!!

And now the without further ado part...

Steve Peregrine Took's Shagrat-LONE STAR CD (Captain Trip Japan, available through Slippytown)

Infamous (at least to those studying late-sixties UK psychedelic trends) band formed by a freshly booted from Tyrannosaurus Rex Steve Took along with future Pink Fairy Larry Wallis, Shagrat were one of those presumably lost footnotes to a footnote (that being the entire late-sixties underground Ladbrook Grove scene) that one would come across while persuing some Peter Frame Family Tree and perhaps nothing else outside an old issue of ZIGZAG. Well, the nineties made sure that a lotta these heretofore unknown sidesteps get the royal treatment (much to the benefit of anal-retentive types like myself who want to hear and read every scrap of archival proto-punk gunch whether it be available or not!) and thankfully most of these Shagrat demos had been released on good ol' vynola during those days of obsessive collecting which at least gave me something to write about at the time rather'n the usual fly-by-night nth-generation punk/alternative quap YOUR FLESH was wingin' my way. But since my ol' trusty turntable and boom box to play it through are presumably shot for all time I have to rely on these Cee-Dee reissues in order to get my proper post-psychedelic jolt, and better I spin these Cee-Dees than go into musicleptic shock!

The first four tracks on this 'un were taken from a '71 acoustic session with Took on an acoustic guitar, Wallis on bass and a Dave Bidwell on tambourine sounding a lot hotter than the usual acoustic music that was making a big wave on the introspection scene at the time. The mood here is more late-sixties than early-seventies kinda sounding like a stripped down, acoustic Hawkwind at least until they get to "Beautiful Deceiver" with its heavy joss-stick (as opposed to Joss Hutton) period Tyrannosaurus Rex groove. The final tracks are lifted from that now-collectible Shagrat 12-incher featuring a '70 heavy version on the band with Wallis on lead, Took on rhythm and Tim Taylor and Phil Lenoir filling out the bass and drums and this bunch comes very close to all that hard and searing high energy music that Richard Robinson was predicting was gonna take over the world in the seventies only the exact opposite happened. You could call it metallic flange or leftover Deviantisms if you like, but I must say that it does fit in with the high energy stylings of the Detroit bands and Hawkwind and all those other groups that fortunately bucked the full-fiber trend of the day making a racket that could relate to pimple-infested teenage pudges and not the iron-haired gals who used to make gravestone rubbings. The sound quality here takes a bit of a downswing (especially on the closing track "Steel Abortion" which is so gnarly-sounding being taken from an acetate that there's a skip inna thing that they coulda edited out but didn't!) but...really, did extraneous things like that ever matter to you???

(Ronald) Shannon Jackson and the Decoding Society-STREET PRIEST CD (Moers Music, Germany)

While thinking about the inevitable demise of CBGB, my mind began wandering back to the days when there were a lotta bands playing at that rather open-booking policy club that sorta piqued my interest either due to their name, their members or perhaps some advance publicity. And although you, I and even the bandmembers' mothers know that a lotta these acts deserved the big hook the used to drag those bombing old timey vaudeville acts offa the stage there were more'n a few acts loitering around the club that sure made an impact on my listening parameters, as well as a few more that I'm sure would've pleasured my ears if only some recordings saw the light of day. Fortunately there were a few groupings playing CBGB at the time who did manage to release a few recordings of worth, and although a lotta these items will probably slip through my fingers somehow or other I did manage to catch a few goodies which will sate my lust for hard-edged music including this '81 wonder from Ronald Shannon Jackson's Decoding Society, a group whom I remember had a pretty long run as headliners on the CBGB stage during those post-original punk generation days when hardcore groups, avant-jazz and white funk seemed to be fighting it out with the new wave and popsters for stage time at that venerated beerjoint.

You gotta remember, this was at a time when James Blood Ulmer had made a big splash at CB's with his post-Ornette harmelodic guitar act which got him not only a cover story in THE NEW YORK ROCKER but a recording contract with Columbia (who re-mixed the original Mayo Thompson-produced Rough Trade album he just made...any of you readers care to comment on the differences and worths of either of these editions?). Thanks to James Chance and his Contortions, mixing punk with free jazz and funk (and even a li'l of the dread disco) was beginning to make a mighty splash in En Why See...pretty soon you were seeing people like Byard Lancaster and Sonny Sharrock playing with Material at CBGB, plus Luther Thomas, Phillip Wilson, Nick Lowe, Billy Bang and others whose names will come to mind in about a year began playing the big Hew York watering holes and better still fitting in. (This mad mixing of avant jazz and underground rock continued on for quite awhile, manifesting itself in the Freestyle Series that was happening at the CBGB Lounge for the past coupla years.) Which I guess is where Ronald Shannon Jackson fits in...former compatriot of Ulmer in the Ornette Coleman band, Jackson led the Decoding Society through pretty much the same terrain (or I suppose he did, me being rather ignorant of much of Coleman's recorded output especially regarding the Prime Time era which I will admit I am ashamed of) but whatever, all of the Decoding Society albums I've lent ear to (about five, but who's counting) have been pretty decent affairs mixing a hard funk-style with avant garde jazz and rock leanings (thanks to the guitar of Vernon Reid, later to make a huge splash in other realms) in a way that really appealed to me and on about three different levels as well! Yes, there's the avant-jazz Decoding Society which suits my ESP-bred late-sixties tension-packed being, as well as the hard-funky side of the group, plus the underground rock elements all rolled up into one nice gooey ball that satisfies me more than a lotta that new amerindie pretentious and precocious slopscapading that's supposed to appeal to me as a bopping young sensitive, or a former bopping young sensitive as well...I mean, who knows, or cares???

Jackson provides fine free-drumming in the great Sunny Murray trad for his group, which on this recording DOESN'T feature tenor saxist Byard Lancaster (a fave, true) but the double horns of Zane Massey and Lee Roxie do pretty fine as they are, while the double electric basses of Reverend Bruce Johnson and Melvin Gibbs add a more than solid backing to the proceedings. And Vernon Reid's guitar plays just the right amt. of angular lines...nothing Sharrockesque or no wave-ish at all, but it all fits in fine with the updating on mid/late-sixties avant playing, a form that really didn't need any updating being futuristic as it were, but it was nice of them to give it a successful try.

I dunno exactly what has happened to Jackson (not being the fine follower of jazz news like I was in my high school days when mom bought me a subscription to DOWN BEAT!) or most of the players on this disc. I hope he hasn't become one of those jazz musicians who sorta slipped through the cracks and is busing tables in some jazz club where Al DeMeola Jr. is trying out his latest patented jazz lick #1000 for a roomfulla tuxedo'd L7's. Whatever, we at least have STREET PRIEST (and a slewwa other platters with Jackson as leader or sideman) which seems fitting enough for me. At least the guy can go home from his job at nights and sleep, even if it is in a fleabag hovel somewhere.

The Modern Lovers-PRECISE MODERN LOVERS ORDER CD (Rounder); SONGS OF REMEMBRANCE CD (Punk Vault bootleg)

My continual pouring through the Jonathan Richman biography has naturally got me flinging myself through alla my available Modern Lovers recordings extant including these two handy-dandy wonders that fortunately don't have any Playboy bunny logos to get me into hot water! The first of these items kinda slipped by the listening gnu wave public when it was finally released in 1994, and I'll admit that at the time I wasn't that keen on hearing it myself, but twelve years later it probably sounds much better to me because enough time has gone by to wash away all those early-eighties images of Jonathan as some sorta David Byrne Jr. that way too many new wave buddies had of him at the time. A rather hefty live disque here, maybe not a top-ten contender but early-seventies pre-Velvets milkingly-swell as it is with all of the well-known tracks and a professional sound to boot. And speaking of boots, the Punk Vault one is also worth the Sherlocking you'll have to do for it with a number of rarities ("I'm Dropping My Friends" is a fine Troggs-ish pop rip worthy of Mirrors) sprinkled amidst the familiar territory. A mix of studio, live (including New Year's Eve opening for the New York Dolls along with Ruby and the Rednecks and the Magic Tramps at the Mercer Arts Center!) and of course some pre-band solo rehearsal things that don't seem to fulfill the images of a really loud and raucous Richman as revealed in his bio turn up, but I like 'em anyway because they kill both "independent" of though rock music and their sycophantic blogger apologists with one felt swoop!

THE MUSIC ENSEMBLE CD (Roaratorio, PO Box 300574, Minneaoplis, MN 55403)

I may have reviewed this one on this blog earlier, like a year-and-a-half ago or something. If so, just mull that one over. If not...great live mid-seventies loft jazz recordings (one from a gig in a Catholic school gym of all places!) with violinist Billy Bang sounding like a more emotive Leroy Jenkins, trumpeter Malik Baraka (soon to self-expire due to an overactive jazz life), Roger Baird on drums, percussion and flute and the dynamic duo of Daniel Carter and William Parker getting their bass and hornage together almost three decades before Freedomland. A fine nervebender, especially after you've worn out your copies of WILDFLOWERS and want more.

John Fahey-THE YELLOW PRINCESS CD (Vanguard)

Yeah, it's hard to enjoy John Fahey knowing that a certain enemy does as well, but if I just kick said blogster outta my mind and insert Edgar Breau in his place everything works out fine. Lotsa reworkings and familiar themes true, but its still Fahey at his best with the right touch of avant garde music ("The Singing Bridge of Memphis Tennessee") and even Jay Ferguson and Mark Andes from Spirit are helping out! This is one that got buried under the weight of having to put the latest issue of BLACK TO COMM out before it became totally antiquated which is why you hadda wait so long to see my opinion of this classic. Yes, I can humble myself too!

Robbie Basho-THE VOICE OF THE EAGLE CD (Vanguard)

Another one that got buried under the weight of my latest. Anyhoo, Robbie Basho, a guy whom Edgar Breau and Wayne McGuire turned me onto, can get into the new age hippydippy groove just as much as even Fahey could at times (I mean, weren't Basho's last vinyl outings released on Windham Hill of all labels, albeit he did grumble about being underpromoted in the light of Michael Hedgehog and William Wasp!), but at least when unbound he could produce a strong folky music that seemed to be of its own special ethnic heritage, and its own personal style come to think of it. This special Vanguard 50th anniversary release (Vanguard celebrating the big five-o, not the album!) packaged in a gatefold mini-LP sleeve just like the Fahey Cee-Dee above has Basho singing about the American Indian and his spirituality amongst other things with his strong voice and indecipherable tongue at times using "Black" Indian modal tunings and even a certain Mr. Ramnad V. Ragavan on a mrdangam ("South Indian log drum")...I mean, when I was a kid I'd get American Indians and Indian Indians mixed up sometimes, but this guy does it on his album! Get past the embarassments of your kindergarten days and evoke the spirits of Ameriga past with this exemplary (aren't they all?) sixties-period Basho platter.

CLOSING MOOT POINT: I was going to review the Doc Possum show that was being cybercast at the CB's 313 Gallery at noon today but the technical difficulties were so great that I had to just plain give up and abandon all hope of getting an eyefulla this "kid rock" group which is too bad, because this group's musical downloads sounded pretty neat plus the ten or so seconds that I was able to eyeball of the group in concert were rather nice, showing a rockin' kids-oriented quartet that seemed to enjoy what they were doing, which is more than I could say about myself and my attempts to watch the gig w/o any buffering or shutoffs hampering my afternoon delight. I know this really doesn't mean a hilla beans afterwards, but I want you BLOG TO COMM readers to know that I am no slacker and I do give it the good ol' college try when trying to deliver the goods to YOU without any thought of compensation wahtsoever, unless you'd like to buy a fanzine 'r somethin' like that.

1 comment:

DOC POSSUM said...

Sorry to hear you had tech problems watching the cybercast of our CB's Gallery show.
We had a great time and was quite pleased with the show. I hope to be back there sometime in June so maybe you can try again o rmake the show in person! thanks for the kind words!