Wednesday, June 07, 2006

TEN VINYLIZED ALBUMS THAT HAVEN'T MADE IT TO CEE-DEE YET (AT LEAST AS FAR AS I CAN TELL...)

Y'know, if someone would've asked me even a decade ago if I was interested in seeing some of my obscure-o fave LPs re-released in the digital mode, I woulda told said inquirer that he was probably reading too much HI-FI STEREO REVIEW to ask such a silly question and that, with my vast array of vinylized wares staring me in the face, I needed CD variations on these old reliable pals o' mine just about as much as Linda Lovelace needed a gag reflex. However, with a busted turntable (and general stereo system) pretty much putting all of my albums and singles into cold storage yeah, I could use more and more of my old faves transformed into shiny pancakes rather'n starve to death so to speak. And true, writing a piece on non-digitized albums of yore ain't exactly front page news considering how many nimnuls of note havee done just that, but between you, me and the stylus I think I will do a much better job at pointing out some of the better non-transformed elpees out there than most high-faluting big time critics have already and besides, in my quest to make June a post-filled month what better than to snitch half-stale ideas from my foes and turn the tables on them, at least as far as my impeccable all-around good tastes go!

Feel free to slip your faves into the mix if you will, but here are ten longplayers that haven't made the transition to the 21-st century but I hope will soon, or at least before I get hold of some workable turntable, stereo system and speaker equipment and make this post instantly obsolete!

1) THE SIDEWINDERS (RCA)

It's funny that RCA would have signed an act with the exact same name over twenty years after this classic one and only album from Boston's third or so best band of the early seventies (after the Modern Lovers and Aerosmith) came out on the exact same label but they did, making me wonder if the RCA bigwigs had totally forgotten this "legendary" power-pop-proto-punk offering featuring local heart-throb Andrew Paley front and center on vocals, harmonica and tambourine. Considering the amount of albums sold they probably did, but that's no excuse for anyone to overlook this great 1972 platter which mixed the early Stones with an early-sixties pop demeanor and T. Rex-inspired decadence straight outta the same Max's Kansas City confines that made Paley and group the hit of the back room. C'mon, Hackamore Brick earned a CD reissue...why not these guys?!?!?!

2) Copernicus-NOTHING EXISTS (Ski)

One of the best things about the New York rock scene in the late-seventies was not the standardized punk-as-punque groups that seemed to be the norm, but those acts who straddled a whole load of styles, looks and attitudes no matter how alien they may have been to people more or less attuned to a sense of fashion rather than grace. I have the feeling Copernicus was one of those groups...led by Copernicus himself, a long-haired 40-plus hippie-type backed by the Irish folk duo turned rockers Turner and Kirwin of Wexford (later the Major Thinkers), this act featured strange free-form music played by an at-times large ensemble that seemed to lay down a particularly space-rock-y backing for the growling Copernicus' poetic musings which usually related to his obscure neo-scientific theorems dealing with atoms and particles and their relationships to somethingorother I've totally forgotten about lo these many years. Classic New York-y eighties rock fodder that kinda scared me off at first but eventually became a huge fave...later albums aren't that hot but who could resist the abstract sounds (which at time could go progressive, then avant-garage a la Pere Ubu, then Barry White!) as well as Copernicus' ethnic (Polish) bellow. Seventies kiddies like myself who spent a good portion of the latter part of that decade reading about the New York club goings on will be glad to know that the track "Hiroshima" (or was it called "Nagasaki"?) was recorded live at none other than Max's which even gets plugged in the lyrics, just like Elliot Murphy, Marc Bolan and Wayne County used to do!

3) Elliot Murphy-NIGHT LIGHTS (RCA)

Speaking of Murphy (and Paley, and RCA who seem to be slacking in the reissue department if this posting is any indication), as far as I know his 1976 album NIGHT LIGHTS has not been reissued on disque as of yet, though considering the duff reviews that one got its no wonder RCA dumped him right after this one fizzled out into all eternity. Still I find NIGHT LIGHTS much better'n Murphy's previous efforts, especially with his all-star Boston-period band (late-'75) backing him up on most of these tracks...and with Jerry Harrison and Ernie Brooks straight from the Modern Lovers and Andy Paley straight from the Sidewinders banging the drums, all I gotta say is that gnu wave Ameriga certainly did itself a disservice ignoring Murphy's suburban decadent paens to the same kinda tenderness Jonathan Richman himself was yearning for! True this one also has Billy Joel on one track and Doug Yule, although not as bad as chap as some would make him out to be yet still playing in American Flyer (yeesh!) helping out, but I still would call this one a top ten of '76 blaster, at least the equal of such other classics of the year as SHAKE SOME ACTION (itself a recent CD reissue!) and RADIO ETHIOPIA, not forgetting that all-time wowzer LIVE AT CBGB's.

4) LIVE AT THE RAT 2-LP set (Rat)

Speaking of the CBGB set (I hope you appreciate these little segues into each review in my discreet matter-of-fact way), I remember a whole load of people also tossing their breakfast over that one as if it wasn't "punk" enough for their own personal sense of cutting edge. However, I also recall the same folks who couldn't stand the array of psychedelia, heavy metal and art rock on the CBGB disques waxing so much praise over the Rat album (which was done as a "homage" of sorts to the original inspiration!) which kinda seems strange considering how a lotta that one wasn't quite as punk rock as some would have liked. Still LIVE AT THE RAT remains an un-digitized top spin, a '76 document of a non-New York scene that shows us just how vibrant its outta-nowhere upstarts could be, jam-packed not only with the usual energy we've come to expect from punk rock but a lotta the sense-of-wonder people had with local post-Velvet Underground (more or less) groups at the time. Kinda makes me wish the Cleveland scene was more together in the mid-seventies so's a similar double-set with the likes of Pere Ubu and the Styrene (George) Money Band amongst others woulda made the rounds! High spirited performances from the likes of Willie Alexander and the Boom Boom Band, the Real Kids, DMZ, Thundertrain (yay!) and Susan amongst many others.

5) SUSAN (Champion/RCA)

OK, I promise this is my last sly segue, but let me make it a good one...Susan, as you would have known from the previous entry in today's hipper'n Marsh Rock List, were a Boston band, and on the heels of the Car's own success Susan got signed to RCA's new subsidiary Champion where they put out a pretty spiffy album that, contrary to previous reports, did NOT sound like the Cars, but more or less like a rich, Bostonian take on Roxy Music without any of the gnu wave smarm that beset many other similar-minded outfits. Frankly I only have a colored vinyl promo one-sided selection of the best tracks from this particular platter, but it all works swell even for a jaded rock scribbler such as myself, especially the art-deco-in-the-seventies romancer "Marlene" (which, from what I can tell, is a tribute to the famed switch-hitting kraut of BLUE ANGEL fame!).

6) Brian Sands-FIXATION (Bizart)

Unfortunately just about everything released by ex-Milkman Sands on his Bizart label (ca. 1979-1983) is undigitized (and unavailable) except for a booted track or two on the HOMEWORK series of self-released Amerigan garage slop that Chuck Warner is selling somewhere on the web. Tis a shame, especially for a guy who I thought was going to be one of the spokesmen for that very same eighties underground rock scene which unfortunately capsized before our very eyes around the time Lester Bangs died, Max's shut down and the same rock critics who were only yesterday singing the praises of the garage and Velvet Underground were now drooling over Madonna rolling around onstage in a wedding dress. FIXATION was Brian's only real longplayer, released in December 1980 (and received in the mail the same day John Lennon croaked...talk about premonitions or what!) to a rather unappreciative audience which is a shame, for from the startling opening "Dialogue in Limbo" on through, this one was what they used to call a "weirdie", a totally spaced freaky platter that woulda been too strange even for Zappa's Straight/Bizarre labels had it only come out a decade earlier yet serene and life-affirming in its own special way. For real thrills try Sands' 1979 12-inch mini-LP REHEATED CHOCOLATE TANGOES with its fine homages to Bolan, Beefheart, Holly and Marsden amongst others. Another forgotten treat, Alan (Globekar) Snake's 1983 alb also on Bizart which brought back the Cleveland pop sound of the seventies on eighties turf only nobody was listening (or caring) ten years later. (Self-tooting horn time: I am totally PROUD to say that I not only got a letter, but a phone call from Globekar/Snake himself thanking me for my positive review of his disque which goes to show you just how down-to-earth some of these bigtime rock & rollers can be, especially when all of the other critics have their heads firmly placed between the legs of...well, I'm sure you know the rest so why bother with the gory details...)

7) FROM AKRON, THE BIZARROS AND THE RUBBER CITY REBELS (Clone)

Famous split album with one side from each group that you used to be able to find all over the place (at least in Cleveland) with relative ease and for miniscule bucks as well, at least until the nineties started to dry the good sounds up. Each group gets one side sounding much better than they do on their big-label offerings, with the Bizarros doing a cool Velvets cum Roxy cum Ubu-styled Northeast Ohio drill while the Rebels, still in their long hair and biker attire, play a better variation on what New York punk was supposed to be about than the New Yorkers themselves! A bonafide stoner classic that should be reissued with additional bonus goodies to pad the thing out even more just so's even the old fogies who've had this one for years'll snatch it up thus garnering even more sales!

8) Jack Starr-BORN PETRIFIED (Norton)

Norton's been promising a CD reish of this one for years (hopefully complete with the rare single sides done not only for themselves but the In The Red label) but it has yet to materialize...a shame really, since this one's perhaps the all-time forgotten rockabilly/garage mauler of them all, so primitive that even ? and the Mysterians sound like Emerson, Lake and Palmer in comparison! Side one has the Dallas-based and teenaged Starr singing and strumming his home-made rockabilly odes (as well as on a professional studio session-bred track complete with chirping femme backing) while the flip's got him and his long-lived combo recording heavy-duty punk rock trash in the commode. Either way this is a winner that I'm surprised didn't have more people yelping in addled glee when it was released in the early-nineties. The Jack Starr and the American X-Press cassette of then-contempo recordings should also see the (laser) light of day as well, dontcha think???

9) Musica Orbis-TO THE LISTENERS (Longdivity)

Composer Kitty Brazelton's first major group, Musica Orbis played an interesting mix of rock, jazz, classical, folk and even progressive, and did it in an original enough fashion that when they played CBGB back in May '76 Joey Ramone himself was front and center to see just what the fuss was all about! This album came out a year later, featuring recordings spanning the previous two years as well as some major personnel changes, but that doesn't stop the fact that TO THE LISTENERS, despite some thankfully-brief and tepid hippie musings on side two, was a powerful album that seemed to merge a lot of the mid-seventies punk power with late-sixties artistic expression w/o coming off like a lotta slop. Again, a CD of this has been promised for years, but you might be able to snatch up a copy on the used vinyl market with ease like I did (my copy even comes with a letter from the group's harpist to her son, telling him to do his homework and be a good little bubbie...gee, can I get in trouble reading someone else's mail like this???).

10) Nelson Slater-WILD ANGEL (RCA)

Like I said, RCA really is slipping as far as their reissues go, and this is one that somehow got lost in the shuffle of seventies deca-glam wonders. I must admit that I never did hear Jobriath (nor could I find his albums then or now!), but this guy probably had the space fairy beat on all counts. Slater actually went to high school with one Lou Reed, played with him (in rock & roll bands silly!), and re-emerged in 1976 on a Reed-produced album that got yanked off the market after a buncha feminists complained about the chained angel S&M cover. The libbers' gain was our loss, because WILD ANGEL was a particularly vital album in its after hours gay bar (to quote the quotable BACK DOOR MAN) way, with a slime to it that even SALLY CAN'T DANCE couldn't match. If you don't want to take a bath in Lestoil after hearing this one, then man are you ready for the Wasserman Test or what!

(Special thanks goes to Bruce Mowat for calling me right around when I was doing entry #6 thus helping me wriggle out of my writer's block.)

6 comments:

Christopher said...

AN ADDENDUM---as far as Elliot Murphy goes, I believe his 1977 Columbia album (and bonafide classic even though it put a big kibosh on his recording career for a number of years) JUST A STORY FROM AMERICA is on CD, or at least it was over in Europe for a short spell. If not, it's a top contender for this list and doozy of one at that!

Jeroen said...

The entire Clone catalogue deserves a retrospective CD thingy. Same goes for the Rat label.

Keep Up The Good Work!

Anonymous said...

Kim Fowley's International Heroes has never come out on CD

nightowl said...

The 1976 album "Night Lights" has been re-issued on cd too (RCA ND90445)!

nightowl said...

The 1976 album "Night Lights" has been re-issued on cd too in Europe(RCA ND90445)!

Christopher said...

Thanks for the news about NIGHT LIGHTS! Glad to see RCA has some brains with regards to making that back catalog goodie available again!