Stand by for some more half-backed theorizing, mindless Velvet Underground worship, substandard writing and a generally lackadaisical effort to attempt at revealing to you just exactly why you should or shouldn't purchase the various items that had the misfortune to be mentioned below. As Lindsay Hutton once uttered, "Every one a Maserati!" but in this case I don't think I've even reached the lofty heights of a Subaru 360.
Big Star-#1 RECORD/RADIO CITY CD (Ardent/Stax)
As Edgar Breau once said, "these guys sound like they've spawned a lot of imitators." Of course he was talking about the Ramones, but as far as Big Star is concerned we can say purty much the same ol' thing. And, as Brian Eno once said, only a few thousand albums were sold, but everyone who bought one formed a band. To which Billy Miller added, "they all suck." Of course ol' Brian and Billy were talking about the Velvet Underground but the same thing can be said about this classy early-seventies mid-South wonder which took everything good that the mid-sixties and early-seventies hadda offer and didn't come off like amerindie forgettables in the process. And even with all the altie wannabes ripping Big Star off from here to San Diego and back I gotta admit it sure holds up better'n all the turds it spawned.
Mick Farren-MONA (THE CARNIVOROUS CIRCUS) CD (Captain Trip Japan, available through Slippytown)
Farren himself referred to this as one of the worst albums ever made, and considering that John and Yoko actually mentioned that MONA was one of their faves maybe Farren did have a point. Still, I gotta admit that Farren's contractual obligation disc sounds a lot better to me now than it did twennysome years back when I first heard it, with a good gruff dirge like quality to it that woulda come off bee-you-ti-ful if it were interspersed in between the Deviants' debut masterpiece PTOOFF!. The Hell's Angel interview at first turned me off faster than a chastity speech at a gay bar, but considering that PTOOFF! was to've had clandestine telephone calls (including one to Yoko herself!) mixed in with the music maybe MONA is just a belated take on what might have been, eh?
Hackamore Brick-ONE KISS LEADS TO ANOTHER CD (Mr. Nobody)
Well, the long-time bargain-bin classic and subject of a major Tim Ellison article in the last issue of his MODERN ROCK MAGAZINE has finally gotten a reissue, though don't start panting too heavily Rover. The lack of a bar-code, in-depth liner notes and the presence of audible if you turn it up just enough hiss (not forgetting the general third-generation sound on their single-only "a"-side "Searchin'", a radical reworking of the Coasters classic) all point towards an illegit release but still, it's good to have this wowzer in a format that sounds much better'n your old reliables and only a total dullard'd doubt that ONE KISS LEADS TO ANOTHER remains a hot one long after other then-contempos had worn out their welcome on your turntable. And boy, could I go into the wonderful inner workings of this classic garage band ranker, like not only how Hackamore Brick predate Patti Smith's early live and recorded efforts by a good three years but how these whoosh-where-did-they-go? guys encompass the entire career of THE VELVET UNDERGROUND (including their early experiments up through their mid-range folk period until the final days when they revisited their early roots through an early-seventies sense of pop!) mixed in with the best of the British Invasion and that Neil Young album everybody likes...but I won't.
The Beatles-SGT. PEPPER'S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND CD; MAGICAL MYSTERY TOUR CD-R's (originally on EMI)
These items were jetted my way by a noted musical entity to be named at a later date NOT necessarily for review purposes, but for my own personal pleasure. Well, that's all fine and dandy, but I thought I'd give 'em a mention not in order to show just how "all-encompassing" I can be when it comes to music that doesn't fall outside the usual no-chord thud, but as a challenge which I thought would be especially "involving" but not totally disgusting like trying to tackle writing about the KEITH EMERSON PLAYS THE CLASSICS WITH HIS THIRD LEG album or something equally pretentious.
Yeah, I gotta admit that SARGE PEPPER ain't exactly been one of my favorite Beatles outings, and I've been telling everybody within earshot exactly that for the past few centuries! However, since I must admit that I haven't even heard the blasted disque in its entirety ever since Jillery packed up her records and split for parts known and since album tracks glommed on "Classic" FM radio don't necessarily tell the whole story I figured why not...it's a freebie y'know?
And if you think that I'm going to tell you that I've experienced some great epiphany and that SGT. PEPPER is in fact one of the best albums to ever hit the bins at Ernie's Stereo Mart then I'll tell you that you've been mixing a little something in with your sterno. And if Billy Miller could spout off that the Velvet Underground were a great band that spawned substandard emulators I can say that SGT. PEPPER was a overblown and way-too-self-conscious album that led to even worse art rock that sorta gave the following decade a huge dank demeanor that a thousand VON LMO's couldn't wash away. And yeah, I know that such admirable people as Sterling Morrison (and probably the other Velvets) as well as Richard Meltzer himself have waxed eloquently about SGT. PEPPER, but that doesn't mean that I have to like it. But who can fault 'em anyway...I mean they were the Beatles and given that the only bloke to give the thing a huge thumbs down at the time was Richard Goldstein and everybody knows he's a snooze maybe Sterl and Richard had something going for 'em, y'know?
Yeah, it's "art" and not rock which should disqualify SGT. PEPPER on a whole load of bases, but in order to say something "good" about it (in the same fashion that certain people love to say nice things about bad people...like "that Hitler sure knew how to build a Volkswagen!" or "Chris' new web site has some interesting posts about music sometimes, and he got me curious about a modern Japanese compilation a few weeks ago"...y'know, real patronizing fluff that serves no purpose whatsoever!) I'll say that I thought "Getting Better" sounded slightly bouncier and even more eloquent than I remembered, but maybe that's because Don Fellman once ranted on about how he could relate to the lyrics of that one! Anyway, before I get a deluge of response crying "Sellout!" lemme just remind you that for the most part I still believe that SGT. PEPPER is pretty tiresome, non-rocking, and sure to disappoint the garage-bred primates amongst us. As it has for almost four decades awlready!
Regarding MAGICAL MYSTERY TOUR, I dunno why a lotta goofs bust on this one because it sure sounds better than its predecessor. And for a throw-together consisting of an English EP set and some newies it seems a lot more cohesive than PEPPER's "bo-de-oh-do"...after all, the familiar tunes on this one at least come closer to a Floydian sense of psychedelic construction than it did on PEPPER, and I gotta admit that tracks like "Baby You're a Rich Man" and even "Penny Lane" have much in common with REVOLVER's sense of 1966-styled rock experimentation fortunately not forgetting the "rock" which seemed in such short supply on PEPPER. Not only that, but do I detect the influence (no matter how slight) of a Velvet Underground repeato-riff on "Flying" or is it my over-Velvet-saturated imagination at work again? You tell me...I just wondered, because at the same time these tracks were being laid down the Beatles were also engaging in a session of avant-garde musique concrete that reportedly bore a heavy resemblance to what the Pink Floyd and Velvets were up to at the time. Don't be so surprised...after all, you gotta remember that Brian Epstein was snuggling up to Lou Reed telling our favorite perv that he and his boyfriend listened to THE VELVET UNDERGROUND AND NICO during their holiday, and another report had Eppie and John Lennon himself doing the juke box jury thing with the debut VU platter so I wouldn't be that surprised if Lennon had swiped a few tricks from the Velvets playbook! And not only that, but Sterling Morrison claims that none other'n Hari Whatzizname did his own pinching, this time a solo right off THE VELVET UNDERGROUND AND NICO and straight onto MAGICAL MYSTERY TOUR (or was it "You Know My Name"???) so maybe all that talk about the Velvets influencing all the biggies and while they were still around is more than just idle thunk onna part of a buncha rockcrit wannabes? It certainly is something to ponder, and if someone out there has the time and backing to do a book on the vast Velvets influence maybe an interview with a well-plied Paul McCartney would be in order???
Rust-COME WITH ME CD (Akarma Italy)
Forget the actual why as to the reasoning behind me scarfing up this particular disque, but I'm at least relieved that I hadn't made yet another one of my pig-in-a-poke purchases along the lines of the time I bought an album by the eighties British group Japan thinking they were going to sound like early Roxy Music, or for that matter Dead or Alive just on the basis of a NEXT BIG THING piece back in 1981. Anyhoo this mystery group is pretty on-target for an unexpected newie...I thought they were from Texas since they had a sorta 1969 hard rock appeal that sorta jetted out from the 1966 psychedelia scene there, but the pic of 'em on furrin' cop bikes had me fooled. Whatever, this is okay late-sixties garage-psychedelia transmuting into hard rock with heavy pop undertones. Nice enough to at least get pushed to the back of your collection.
Open Loose-COME AHEAD BACK... CD (Koch Jazz)
Sax/bs/drms trio that I learned about through the Freestyle Series back when it was gurgitating at the CBGB Lounge a few years back. Nice mid-range sounds that don't quite grab you as much as some of the other bands who are playing the same circuit, but I find it a lot more involving than a lotta the other music getting rubbadubbed on ya out there. Nice background engager that stimulates your inner workings to the point of "say mama!"
The Loons-PARAPHERNALIA CD (UT)
Y'know, I must admit that I've been a bit suspicious of The Ageless One (that's Mike Stax to you) and this hot-off-the-press disque by his band the Loons. Y'see, I had a feeling that this new entry in the long-line of Stax-related releases was gonna be more of that Pretty Things ripoff bloozey stuff Mike really goes for but I'll admit has me looking for the nearest Sky Saxon album within a few spins. Well, I was wrong, because this new Loon gooner is a pretty hot straight-ahead rocker that believe-it-or-not reminds me of what the Droogs were doing in the eighties when that pack of garage band miscreants were one of the few aggros out there on God's Great Map trying to produce THE GREAT AMERIGAN ROCK ALBUM inna tradition of the MC5, the Flamin' Groovies and noneother'n the same Hackamore Bricklayers mentioned above. Melodic, powerful, emotional (without abusing it!) and energetic...it coulda been as wild as the Droogies' own KINGDOM DAY if Stax worked at it but I guess there's always another album. Bad point: gurl member ruins the great sexist imagery of these garageoids plenny but I guess they needed somebody to hit the high notes.
Got other newies like the Jook collection, the Mustangs and the Metal Boys' TOKYO AIRPORT (plus a few oldies I'm sure) I'll clue you in on either next time or a few times after that (or both!). Until then, have fun, keep a-rockin' and remember not to take any wooden langs!
Sunday, April 09, 2006