Sunday, May 07, 2006

THE RETURN OF VICARIOUSNESS!!!

Yes, I have been lax (but not Lax). Nothing new really, since back when I was doing my print fanzine job there would be weeks, maybe even months where I'd go by without ONCE sitting down in frontta the old word processor to peck out a review or article of interest and worth and it wasn't exactly writer's block that was keeping me away from the keyboard! More or less I was just a bit bored with the whole game and had little of the ol' motivation to keep me going and between you 'n me there were more'n a few times when I was seriously pondering giving up the whole game, like I'd keep telling myself over and over again that this grind-of-an-issue I'm working on is gonna be the LAST one, no bout a doubt it! Natcherly something would come along giving me the ol' nudge to keep struggling on and cranking those rags (and later on posts) out, whether it be some hot new musical recording or group that caught my fancy or some nasty-toned former friend (hah!) who decided to take the easy way up the ladder by tromping all over me...yeah, it was most undoubtedly the LATTER that's been giving me the wherewithal to keep on keeping on as they used to say, so be thankful for the small favors that have been begotten by small minds!

I've been giving a lot more'n the tasty items mentioned below frequent spins here at the BLOG TO COMM offices, and frankly I'd review a lot more than the tidbits presented herein if only the blasted things would spin on my computer! Like, I have this CD-R that was sent to me by some guy named Aaron Goldberg down in the land of the same continent that this certain retarded marsupial of ill-repute resides, and I would link up his own blogspot if I only remembered the address (where you can see a nice tasty snap of Brigette Bardot's now prunefaced hiney!) but anyway this guy Aaron actually sent me a presumably great recording of the Sonny Sharrock Band with Pharoah Sanders recorded in Washington DC about a year or so before Sharrock's death, and it sure seems like a great thing to lay ears on only I can't because my computer has trouble digesting some of these CD-Rs and the one Aaron sent is amongst the unplayable on my fickle box! (Well, it's an iffy proposition because I can spin such other CD-R goodies such as the Roxy Music FIRST KISS double-disc set as well as a good portion of the Rent Control label's offerings albeit those seem a bit temperamental.) So's that one will have to wait until I can either drag my old box out to spin it on or better yet get hold of the fambly car'n take a long enough spin so's I can enjoy the thing en toto, but for now we'll have to be patient with regards to waiting for a review of some of the items that have hit my mailbox the past few weeks (incluling a batch of Japanese modern-day psych sent my way thanks to a winning ebay auction). Well, who said life was supposed to be EASY anyways?

Tamar-Kali-GEECHEE GODDESS HARDCORE WARRIOR SOUL CD (Oya Warrior)

One of the joys of hooking up to the internet back in 1999 (gee, don't you miss the twentieth century? I sure do!) was getting back in touch with what was going on down at the infamous CBGB's, not so's I could re-hook with the latest hardcore or fashion-plate-of-the-moment weekly flavor but merely to see what was happening on the under-the bubbling-under scene. (You know, the one that always seemed to produce the best music that never "made it" because it was either too primitive or had musical tendencies that rubbed against the grain of amerindie tastemongering.) Believe me, if you thought that Talking Heads were the pinnacle of the New York underground in 1975 there were probably ten other groups playing the clubs that had the same flash and flare but only did it better! And as for no wave...we all knew about the big four who popped up on NO NEW YORK, but it took an additional twelve years for the Red Transistor single to appear and who knows when we'll get to hear the Gynecologists, Terminal and Daily Life, bands considered by those in-the-know to be even BETTER'n what James and Lydia doth wraught.

And so it goes on and on...anyway, six years later I still enjoy settling down in my jammies at night and catching some of those fly-by-night pan-flashes that always seemed to put on a great show before vanishing from sight, original material and all. I've mentioned a couple of more than worthy groups who've entered into that mystic void in this earlier post, and who knows what other potential wonders were missed because of technical difficulties or general stupidity on my part! But I will say one thing. A lotta the ignored acts en masse that have appeared at CBGB o'er the years whether they be heavy metal wannabes or acoustic experiments or avant garde jazz purveyors have beaten the TAR outta the groomed for success acts with one felt swoop, and considering how the bands with some sorta smart function to 'em are continually passed up in favor of comparatively substandard fodder sure says something that everyone else will be saying in twenty year's time, so please let me be the harbinger for once!!!

Fortunately with the advent of cheaper ways for groups to get their music across at least some of the newer worthies have had an opportunity to make their efforts more or less "permanent" which is what singer/songwriter Tamar-Kali has done. I caught Kali on a CBGB cybercast about four or so years back and thought her act was one wild throb of hard-rock blur. There was a strange echo/standing wave to her show that gave an ethereal quality to it, that is until I discovered that I had opened two windows to her live-as-it-was-happening gig which created the effect, but in some strange way I think Kali would have appreciated that because her music was out there free-form crank that seemed to say more about what "punk" was supposed to be (or what it once was) back when it was a grassroots garage thing and brainy En Why See rock critics weren't analyzing the heck outta it like they would once "punk" became another hip insect for them to dissect.

Yeah, some of this (actually, a lot!) does borrow heavily enough from the STANDARDIZED ALTERNATIVE ROCK CLICHE BOOK with that heard-it-all-before guitar riffage and emotionless emote lyrics, but Tamar-Kali fortunately revs beyond all the staleness to put out a pretty nice (if short....25:54) offering that's actually had me spinning it repeatedly over the past week or so. Maybe its because Kali can also be fresh enough to slip a little bitta heavy metal (in the best early-eighties CREEM-speak possible!) prowess and nifty jazz inflection into the not-so-standard punk mix making for something that reminds me of what underground music was all about before the rules were broken thus put into full force and "punk" had yet to become pUnk and thus punque...y'know, back when the heavy metal jazz rock of MX-80 Sound and the post-Roxy hillbilly glitz of Debris somehow got fitted into the same confines as Patti Smith and Iggy, but it all seemed so pure especially when compared with what else there was out there and there was a lot!

It's a shame that Tamar-Kali somehow got bum-rushed outta the "scene" (whatever that stands for these days!) but at least she left something behind for obsessives like myself to peruse. And at least she had something interesting to say in the process which is more than I can say about way too many wonks I unfortunately seem to come across not only on the music scene, but on the printed page/screen as well.

The Offs-LIVE AT THE MABUHAY GARDENS NOV 7, 1980 CD (Vampir)

I never did pay much attention to the Offs during their lifetime even though they certainly had the underground credo (such as a single on the Max's Kansas City label) that obviously would draw me to such acts. I dunno, maybe it was because there was already so much good stuff going on during those days that missing out on the Offs woulda been akin to missing out on Hibiscus and his Screaming Violets...but who knows, maybe they were good as well???

Of course as the years roll on things like the Offs become the stuff o' lesion which is why I picked up this live in San Fran platter recorded during these junkies' West Coast stay. Postmortem hype has the Offs straddling everything from the ska/reggae beat to no wave and while that all does figure in somehow or other these guys also tip their hats to da blooze (w/ and w/o "rhythm 'n") as well as the Velvet Underground (doing typically early-eighties rehashes of "Sweet Jane" 'n "Heroin") an' it all makes for more more'n just another typical quarter-century-plus "document" of what was and will unfortunatey never be. For me, it's a durned on-target appraisal of just what was happening in underground music that was GOOD before everything went down the gnu wave road to sweetie pie gush, and I'm sorta glad (but not proud) that I was at least comatose when bands like the Offs were getting more'n an appreciative nod out there. I'm not exactly overjoyed that I missed out on these guys back then, but hey, I wasn't some rich kid who could afford all of the hip records as soon as they came out, was I?

The Metal Boys-TOKIO AIRPORT CD (Acute)


I originally bought the vinyl version of this 'un (along with its "sister" record, mainly the Metal Urbain album!) from Wayside Music back in the early-eighties when it seemed as if most "(underground) music aficionados" out there wanted to remember the past seven or so years of punk upheaval the same way most people in the US of Whoa wanted to remember the War Between The States in 1866 (which was nada!). Maybe that's why a lotta now-valuable wares that command heaping piles of bucks on the collector's market were going for a mere bag o' shells back then, but at least on-the-ball (alledged) dumboids like myself knew enough to gobble up all the soon-to-be gone homemade singles and publications we could before they became lost for all eternity, eh? (Well, I guess not considering all of the ebay auctions I get rapidly outbid on!)

Anyhoo, the fine folks at Wayside were touting this 'un as sounding like a "heavy metal Hawkwind" which kinda stymied me even then because...I always thought that Hawkwind already were kinda heavy metal! But still, at this time the idea of heavy metal encroaching on punk rock (or what we at least could call punk terrain) seemed mighty tasty, as the final days of the original New York City scene seemed to be interbreeding musical styles including a lotta heavy metal as it was. (And considering the presence of not only Von Lmo and heavy metal music nights at Max's Kansas City, but the existence of MX-80 Sound as well as this visiting from Austin Texas heavy metal COUNTRY band playing both Max's and CBGB [anybody remember who they were???] it sure looked as if metallic waves were being shot through an already-changing scene.) And at a time when even I felt there needed to be a "change" of sorts (which had me drawing myself back towards various mid/late-sixties albums that most of you were already familiar with but were totally new to me), it seemed as if what I did need in my life was more heavy metal and less gnu wave, or at least some of the hot metal on punk terms that was part and parcel of the best, Metal Mike Saunders-approved metallic excursions extant.

TOKIO AIRPORT ain't quite a metallic monster, or one that would even turn the head of your typical metal monger straight outta La Verne California (onetime home of DENIM DELINQUENT who should know!), but it is an interesting enough Frog electronic muncher that you would have expected to come out of the musically confused eighties. Eschewing the poppier side of electronic music as it stood in the early-eighties, at least the Metal Boys put a little more life 'n vigor into their electronic underground hipster style and even added a Dr. Venus clone on vocals which gives the thing an even more futuristic vision. Melodically this comes off like an even buzzier take on early Roxy Music/Eno trailblaze, perhaps stuck in an early-eighties which heaped me into even more ennui than one can imagine (well, how would you feel seeing all of the energy and gnarl of the late-seventies reduced to Soft Cell and Madonna???) but still holding up in its own superb way. And y'know, this stuff did hold its own next to all of the punk/metal smash and crash of the day after all! Well, to be honest about it I'd rather spin the Metal Boys next to some once-faves like Swell Maps who (at least in my humble opinion) don't quite hold up all these years later, and I'm not saying that just because a buncha nimnuls out there like 'em!

The Lovin' Kid-ALONG THE WAY CD (Honey, available through CD Baby)

Here's another act I "discovered" back when I first hooked up to the web during the dusk of the Picean Age and (as I said) "rediscovered" the En Why See underground going on at CBGB. And with a name like the Lovin' Kind I kinda thought this group was gonna be some throwback to mid-sixties popsterisms, maybe because of the group name's similarity to the old Dino Desi and Billy hit. I finally got to see this group on a live cybercast opening for the Shirts at CB's and was surprised at the straight country popisms extant. I was even more surprised when a soon-to-exit Shirt Annie Golden joined the femme singer/guitarist for a vocal duet! And I was really surprised when I switched over to the gallery next door and, after seeing some seemingly earnest guy play Pete Seeger and Daniel Johnston songs on an autoharp, encountered this rather early-seventies-looking hippie-type bluegrass group and kinda wondered what was going on at the center of terminal hipdom, but then again I get that way sometimes!

Of course, I was superduper surprised when, years later I stumbled upon this unknown-to-me Cee-Dee of the group and discovered that the brains behind the Lovin' Kind were none other than Lisa Burns and Sal Maida! You may know who Lisa Burns is...I reviewed her first solo alb in these "pages" earlier (and just try finding that writeup!) and positively at that, and she and (ex-Milk and Cookies/Sparks/Roxy/Kongress...) bassist Maida also had the electronic rock band Velveteen going for 'em throughout the eighties to boot! (A review of their '83 Atlantic mini-LP can be found in the pages of my latest.) And although I had the sneaking suspicion that both of 'em were keeping busy with music in some capacity I didn't realize that the Lovin' Kind was "it". Which of course led to a bit of speculation on my part which undoubtedly resulted in me buying this piece of long-forgotten (released 1998) New York trivia.

Those of you expecting a return to late-seventies new wave style will be in for a shock, though actually this does have a lot to do with a New York "sound". Mainly the sound of not only CBGB but Max's Kansas City in the days when a lotta finger-pickin' folksters amongst other allegedly non-"underground" (whatever that was!) types could easily snuggle into sets amidst a wide range of local talent plunking down everything from leftover glam slams to heavy metal moronities. Like when the Unholy Modal Rounders could pop up on some Max's flyer amidst the ever-growing local talent as well as a Jimi Hendrix tribute act which does show a bitta eclecticism you wouldn't see only a few years later! By the eighties after things cooled down such "open-mindedness" could once again be spotted, and frankly this far down the line it's not a question of punk vs. metal vs. art vs. whatever, but good vs. bad. As it always was (only then we KNEW that punk was good on its own merit because it just hadda know better!).

Anyway, even though I usually cozy up to country music about as much as Dave Lang cozies up to virtue I surprisingly found myself enjoying this one quite a bit. Yeah, it's probably because two famous underground charter members of the En Why See scene are involved with it (thus giving me a proper "hook" to latch my own set of tastes onto it) but I find this breed of sound a lot more palatable'n the country music I have been hearing over the past few years which either devolves into pea-brained jingoism or moderne-day popisms that only has a steel guitar to separate itself from the rest of the pop quap out there in listenland. Burns' voice is perfectly suited for this style of c&w folkism and the acoustic stylings fortunately don't dredge up memories of that folk mass you happened to wander into while looking for one of the Tridentine variety. ('n talk about a gulcher shock of the worst variety!) In all, The Lovin' Kind are downright pleasing despite what some might see as a paen to "new" country, and who knows, even if they weren't "connected" to a New York Underground past I might still even like 'em! But please, don't hold me to that!!!

TERRY DAME'S ELECTRIC JUNKYARD GAMELAN CD (available through CD Baby)

Yeah, the only reason I prob'ly got this 'un was because of a gig at the CB's 313 Gallery a week ago, and since I was in the mood for interesting esoterica that plays that soon-to-capitulate haunt I thought I'd pick it up in a sorta "what the hey" kinda manner. Anyway whatcha got here's a homemade instrument sorta gamelan band sorta "led" by this longtime New York somethingorother named Terry Dane (who also blows some saxophone down the line) and yeah I gotta admit that it's pretty engrossing not only as fake enthnomusic goes but on a Harry Partch level as well. My fave of the batch just happens to be "America The...Everything Is...Beautiful" which develops into this weird tone poem that reminds me of those arid pastoral soundscapades Neu used to come up with.

Marilyn-SEX MEANS NOTHING WHEN YOU'RE DEAD CD (try CD Baby)

Ah, another timepiece. Marilyn was this freaked out gal who not only wowed 'em at the Mudd Club back when it was slowly but surely becoming the new hipster hangout for New York deca-elites (stealing a lotta the thunder from Max's Kansas City in the process), but Marilyn also ended up somewhere down the line as the vocalist for Kongress, at least some time after former Amish gal Iolsa Hatt held down that chair. Anyway, besides fighting it out with a few hundred other ladies as the most whacked-out songstress on the scene, Marilyn managed to put out a few singles which appear on this relatively new disque alongsides some ne'er before heard trackage and if you're one of those old-timers who pines away for the days of the freaky female punkettes from Edith Massey on down this will be "thee" Cee Dee for you! Kinda camp, kinda showstoppy put-on, but whatever it is this warmed-over corpse of a CD will probably satisfy the average reader of this blog in a strange, decomposed sorta way. Yeah, it sorta straddles the area between hard-edged New York rock and Danceteria schmalz but it's still has more'n a toe in the former and even Otto von Ruggins co-wrote the title track so it's not like this is some sorta gnu wave fashion plate gunch pose, y'know???

The Misunderstood-THE LOST ACETATES CD (UT)


Way back when (like, 1983) I wrote this really long and rambling review of the Misunderstood's "Children of the Sun" single that the fine folks at OP actually published which if anything proves...that those guys would print ANYTHING!!! If you ask me I'd tell you that review was a turd bomb then and remains an even smellier one all these years later, but I guess a buncha people out there think differently because somehow this review has ended up on the web (if you're that bored and want a good laff you can snatch it up yourself via your favorite search engine). Maybe the unmitigated fact that this review is up and running on the internet proves that somebody thinks there are some worthy tidbits of info and knowledge in the thing and like, I'm not "embarrassed" by this 23-year-old review...it's just that I think I coulda done better with it, even during those brain-addled times.

Maybe Mike Stax sent me this disque in order to rectify (calm down Dave!) things, so once again I'll give the Misunderstood the old college try 'n see if I can relay to you (within the confines of a rather short space just for old time's OP[tion] sake!) as to why you should buy this thing. I guess you've been following the ultra-long Misunderstood story that's been taking place in the infamous UGLY THINGS magazine, and although I've kidded Mike about the massiveness and detail that can be found therein y'know it was all a ha ha joke not to be taken seriously! But if you wanna talk about obsessiveness that Misunderstood piece is a prime example of it...really in-depth leaving no stone unturned and frankly, how many years has that piece been running anyway? I'll bet I'll finally read the last chapter of the thing one of these days, probably while getting my IV tangled up at the old cranks home.

As far as this Cee Dee goes, this one starts off with a buncha recently-discovered acetates of the band in their West Coast days before they made the trip overseas thanks to the influence of their pal John Peel, and if you're of the mindset that rock & roll kinda took a nosedive around the time everything hadda become avant garde and psychedelic (sorta like the folks at KICKS, who featured the band in the second issue of their mag way back in '79, do) you'll drool over these tracks done long before the advent of Glenn Campbell and his pedal steel and showing a pretty good punk clank that presents the group in their 1965 mode long before the forces of psychedelia threw this band into the English whirl. You could call these tracks "typical"...as in on one hand they show the great primitive pounce that was part and parcel of Amerigan garage moves while also showing an atonal barrage that, as we've learned later on, didn't necessarily originate with the advent of the Stooges only a few short years later.

The psychedelic-era tuneage with Campbell at the helm (recorded almost immediately after setting foot upon the shores of Blighty) fits in more with the post-Yardbirds British-psych image I've had of the Misunderstood for quite some time. The take of "Children of the Sun" is almost identical to the single version while the rest seems more or less like the same Amerigan garage rock rechanneled from English influences re-REchanneled once again for the new underground mode that was beginning to make tracks Over There. Fits in well amidst a playlist of Deviants and Fleur De Lys CHOCOLATE SOUP wonders which might not flash me back to 1967, but 1983 sure pops into my psyche every time I hear this stuff!

Yeah, it ain't that much better'n the original. Maybe when I proofread the thing I'll punch it up a bit here and there.

The Dom Minasi Trio-GOIN' OUT AGAIN CD (CDM, available through CD Baby)

As I've said earlier, one of the best things about tuning into the cybercasts that take place on the myriad assortment of CBGB stages is the discovering of a variety of crucial acts I never would have known about beforehand, thus my life is deeply enriched having heard these groups and solo performers whom I never would have found out about had I decided to remain a luddite for the rest of my born days. And amongst those clandestine groups I've become aware of thanks to the miracle of technology is the Dom Minasi Trio, an act that had been playing at Dee Pop's freestyle series at the Lounge since its inception in '01 until the present albeit at its new location at Jimmy's Restaurant. And believe-it-or-not, but I hadn't even heard of Minasi before seeing his name on the Lounge roster...in fact for a short while I might have had him confused with the infamous Australian garage band meister Dom Mariani which wouldn't be too much skin off my nose anyway since all them dagos look alike, but anyway discovering Minasi was a total (and welcome) surprise.

I mean, here was a guitarist playing in an avant context, but he wasn't an all-out noisemonger like Sonny Sharrock. In fact, Minasi is pretty "tasty" sorta player coming off like Jim Hall gone abstract. In fact, the closest thing I know of that sounds like Minasi is Hall's playing on that Gunther Schuller Third Stream alb done with Ornette Coleman and Eric Dolphy. Only Minasi plays more intense, feral (to use a currently circulating adjective!) and deep. Add to that some mighty wide-ranging arco bass (played by Ken Filano) and Jackson Krall on drums and you had some of the best guitar-led avant jazz to come out of the series, at least next to John Abercrombie's Jackelope and Storm with Daniel Carter, who played one massive set two years back before blasting off for all eternity!

Don't let the inclusion of "Autumn Leaves" (Minasi's take which is bound to gag the typical suit and tie "light jazz" aficionado) fool you. This is engaging/engrossing, chamber avant garde jazz with a highly intense current running through the entire proceedings. And I will say that it was a surprise, especially considering just how much Minasi resembles the guy who used to play Murray the Cop on TV's THE ODD COUPLE so lemme just say that you shouldn't let looks fool you unless you look like Dave Lang or something.

IN OTHER NEWS: not much else to say really though I have stumbled across a few things you might wanna know about (but then again, might not...you paid yer money you takes yer cherce!)...first off, I gotta admit that I finally wrapped my mitts around a copy of that '87 CREEM Velvet Underground "special issue" that everyone from Imants Krumins on down was telling me was an all-out total grabber, and frankly I found it to be a bore beyond belief. And yeah, everybody likes to slam-dunk the post-Bangs version of the mag (even though I think it was starting to go downhill while Bangs was still there albeit it continued to have some moments on/off down the line...their 1981 heavy metal special remains a must-have for underground rock/metal maniacs!), but that '87 issue is just totally nauseating, with writers the par of Bill Holdship (who, along with the rest of the new CREEM stewardship, couldn't hold onto the reigns as tightly as their predecessors had and thus the music drove them rather than vicey-versey!) dragging what had become of that mag even further into the eighties mire. (It's no wonder I had delusions of BLACK TO COMM picking up the WIDE SLACK left by what had become of CREEM way back when!) And, when surrounded with asinine coverage of the "big" stars of 1987 the poop only smells poopier! I was in a big mental slump when that issue came out which was reflected in my writings at the time, and reading this issue only reminds me as to why I was feeling so low...the music scene, after years of under-the-counterculture energy, was pretty dismal, and things like the then-current CREEM only goes to remind me as to why this was.

Here's a peculiar bitta knowledge culled from an interview with Duncan Sanderson that appeared in KINGS OF OBLIVION #1 (a neat Ladbrook Grove-oriented fanzine of the mid-seventies)...really, you better sit down for this interesting fact which I know will knock your socks off! Anyway, did you know that none other than future Yes bassist Chris Squire once auditioned for the Deviants? Well, that's what Sanderson said, and what's even funnier is that Squire didn't get the job because the Devies (perhaps the most primitive band on the Isle at the time) thought he stunk! Anyway, I'm glad I found out, though could you imagine how I would have felt had I heard about this years ago and began searching out Yes albums thinking they might sound like the Deviants due to the connection? Well, I have done sillier things!

Another really strange bit of news...didja know that none other than Bill Shute (yes, thee one and the same) alledgely (I dunno for sure and this may be a rumor!) has a book of poesy out??? No information on the thing at this time, but the news, whether it be true or not, certainly got my ears a buzzing! What I wanna know is, does this collection consist of nothing but Moon in June stuff you read to your galpal in order to prove what a tenderloin you can be, or is Bill popping out the usual brainy wordage that people in berets read while smoking ciggies on holders??? I dunno, and although my fave poems start off "There once was a man from Peru" and "Milk, Milk, Lemonade" I have the feeling that something like this might be the biggest thing to hit the Texas poetry circuit since Roky Erickson's initial efforts! Keep an eye out.

And a personal note to Tim Ellison...you're famous and popular and have a lotta pull inna rock scribing world, right? Then why don't you use your influence and write a book on NO WAVE music??? I figure you're probably the only guy on the boards these days who could pull such a task off off without looking like a total dork, and better it be YOU to do the dirty deed than some "established" professional in the realm, dontcha think??? All I ask for the suggestion is...if you come across any hot rare recordings by some of the undocumented no wave groups mentioned earlier...make me some CD's, OK?

6 comments:

Michael Snider said...

Speaking of folkie types playing Max's Kansas City- I didn't know until recently that the Patti Smith Group opened up for Phil Ochs at Max's in '74.

Christopher said...

Yeah, and according to the book HIGH ON REBELLION these were the gigs (running up through New Year's Eve '73) where Ochs had an on-stage blow-up!

Anonymous said...

Phil had MANY onstage blowups in that time period. He was in very poor physical and mental health by '73. It's really tragic that he was completely burned out creatively by that time.

Christopher said...

David Allen Coe also threw an on-stage tantrum at Max's!

tim ellison said...

Chris - thanks. I am just starting to work on a long form project that will probably include some stuff on no wave music. The book on psychedelia (which also served as my M.A. thesis) is done and ready to go.

Anonymous said...

Somehow, Coe losing his temper on stage seems scarier than Ochs losing his temper....