CHRIS TAKES THE EASY WAY OUT AND GIVES YOU HIS FIRST BLOG TO COMM HIGH SIX IN A PRETTY GOSH DARN LONG TIME!!!
Summer lethargy still gettin' t'me, and frankly at this pt. in time I'd rather settle back'n enjoy the pleasurable arts'n write about 'em. But even with my terminal sinus headache ragin' on and my yearnings for a very own backyard hammock to laze about in I feel it my rock fandom duty to at least peck something out even if it is a pithy high six list worthy of some sub-species sputum as Dave Lang ('n yeah, I know that Dave has an excuse given his day job at a Boy's Camp and all the overtime he puts into it with all those "rap sessions" he holds for confused twelve-year-olds in the sauna...I've heard of Guidance Counselors, but this is ridiculous!)
1) THE DAY OF THE LOCUST (directed by John Schlesinger, 1974)
Click on the highlighted title for my original review of this long-forgotten (but big-hyped back when it was released a good thirty-two years back) film which does take issue with a few points here and there, but gosh-all-darn if THE DAY OF THE LOCUST just didn't grow on me becoming perhaps thee feel-bad movie of the season. It not only looks 1939 enough to have a stickler like me believing in its period piece setting, but this tale of Hollywood decadence and the souls that pops out its sphincter seems real enough that once-blacklisted screenwriter Waldo Salt (just to give credo for you liberals out there!) shoulda snuck a ten-year-old Kenneth Anger into the flick skulking around taking notes! And after a few viewings, all of the "vagueness" seems to slowly whither away making for a way better'n average moom pitcher experience that seemed to be part and parcel of seventies cinema at least if you can believe all of the fanzine editors of the day. And since I read NOTHING ELSE but seventies fanzines who else am I going to trust? Racist language may offend some, but for me it adds a grittiness to the proceedings. I mean, you don't have to LOVE these H-wood malcontents...they are kinda cringe-y!
2) KRAFTWERK CD (Crown Italy)
Yet another once-in-awhile pull from the murky depths. I dunno which period of Kraftwerk you tend to bop to, but I think their early musique concrete efforts're pretty invigorating myself! (By the way, I remember way back when I was fifteen explaining what musique concrete was to my folks, and my father remarked that a lotta the musicians who performed it looked as if they had concrete DUMPED on 'em! Somehow that one stuck in my beanie!!!) Oddly enough, this is probably Kraftwerk's most rock & rolling release where they get into these wah-guitar groove rifts that seem born of late-sixties Amerigan garage rock as much as they do classical European concerns, and yeah I know it woulda been cool enough if Karlheinz Stockhausen had thrown a bitta "Kick Out The Jams" into the mix or Pierre Boulez some Velvet Underground drone riff, but we got Kraftwerk doing the same thing and why should anyone want less?
3) Charles Gayle-TIME ZONES CD (Tompkins Square)
Still nursing my latest Volcanic Tongue order, and boy is my nipple sore! Apologies to Emo Phillips aside, here's a ga-ga classic from that latest Scottish-born package that I have been playing a lot as of late. Anyway, do you remember when multi-instrumentalist Charles Gayle was considered the last in a long line of true avant garde jazz believers? Remember how all of those hip-to-be-retrogarde-avantists were speaking of his once-frequent performing regimen and various Cee-Dees like they were lost masterpieces from the bowels of the seventies New York Loft Scene in hushed, reverential tones? Then Gayle decided to put out that one disque where he ranted and raved against homosexuality and abortion while banging out a free piano form that seemed as feral (once again using that tres common adjective) as his pronouncements were righteous, and all those cool bopsters dropped him like a hot potato! It was kinda fun to watch the view-switchings and back-turning, just like it was fun back in the mid-seventies watching all the feminists and media pundits praising the likes of jockey Mary Bacon for breaking into a male-dominated sport, until they found out about her connections to the Ku Klux Klan, that is!
Left-leaning jazzbos won't hafta worry about their tender political beliefs being bruised on this new all-piano platter from Gayle, since he keeps his trap shut here and sticks to the engrossing piano playing. And yeah, the man can play...no sittin' around and putzying across the keyboard or dabbling in abstracts hoping for an artistic payoff here...Gayle switches from jellyroll to bop and frames the whole thing in a tasty avant piecrust that keeps satisfying this casual listener play after play. For some odd reason its stride and free blast reminds ms of those early Eyetalian Futurist romps that have turned up on various Cee-Dees o'er the years...pretty fulfilling, and I usually shy away from solo piano excursions the same way Lindsay Hutton shies away from my pointed and pertinent questions as to why he hates dagos!
3) DAGGER #38, SPRING/SUMMER 2006 (not a fanzine, but just a 'zine available from Tim Hinely)
Yeah, even """"I"""" woulda thought the printed page (as a format to express certain rockist opinions) to have been long dead 'n gone but Tim Hinely doesn't, which is why he keeps putting out issue after issue of his long-running 'zine (like I said, NOT a fanzine!) which I guess sells because he's able to get loads of ad space and crank 'em out year after year whilst turning a profit, or at least I would assume so. And to be frank about it, I'm not that much "into" a lotta the new underground rockahoola that Hinely cheerleads (consider me a pre-/proto-/paleo-rockist, and the first one to write me with the "correct" answer as to what that means wins a special no-prize!), but it's sure fine reading about what there "is" out there, and for an uppa-date rundown you can't do better'n DAGGER. Highlight (for me): Dan Treacy's desert island pix.
4) 101 Strings-ASTRO-SOUNDS FROM THE YEAR 2000/Yma Sumac-MIRACLES CD (boot)
Remember the big "Incredibly Strange Music" hubbub of the early-nineties? It sure died down (getting tossed into the same trashcan that houses all those other hip-kitsch underground revival trends o'er the years), but at least we got some kinda interesting reissues tossed at us in the process. You may wanna get the legit reissue of the 101 Strings album for real late-sixties psychedelic trash (which, despite the airs of an "establishment" imprimatur still woulda shocked your average hi-fi nut of the day), but if you can't dig that one up at least this still has a few well-placed crackles and washed-outness to remind you of good ol' vinola.
As for MIRACLES, this attempt by phonus-balonus Incan princess Sumac to cash in on the "new rock" has become the stuff o' legends. And with pundits raving on about its chic smarm whilst comparing it to everything from the Stooges to Captain Beefheart even a jaded fanabla such as I's interest was piqued...naturally when I first heard the thing I was about as impressed with it as Jay Hinman would be with a gift subscription to BLACK TO COMM but the blasted thing does tend to grow on ya. Sumac is in typical form groaning and wailing to late-sixties proto-punk (!) stylings true, but I gotta give credit to the likes of musical director Lex Baxter for his ability to channel such facets of a totally alien-to-him music through his own orchestrated mind. If anything, the music here reminds me of Roxy Music circa. COUNTRY LIFE the way the unique garage-band imagery was filtered through classical, progressive and "establishment" modes to make a product that was pretty much unique amongst mid-seventies tops in pops. MIRACLES is like that, only with Baxter's concepts of rock music being textured through the cocktail-jazzy "Stereo 99"-esque music Baxter made his moolah with. Yeah, there are striking similarities between the two, only I'm glad that Yma didn't pose in her undies the same way Michael Karoli's sis and galpal did on the cover of COUNTRY LIFE...after all, Yma was getting up there in age and was probably sagged out at that point in time!
5) BUY THE CONTORTIONS CD (Infinite Zero)
True this version is outta print, but heave awe chaps for Ze records in France have reissued the thing (with a deluxe booklet too!) and Forced Exposure has 'em! Frankly I never really cozied up to this one especially after the thundrous roar of NO NEW YORK, but nowadays it sounds just about as no wave good as a lotta the competition in the ranks. With a nice frantic pace to it, BUY is at least thin and wiry enough with a sound that reminds me of those Eno-produced Television demos (if you can believe that!) and all the underlying pow'r that went with that one! Holds up a lot better'n I woulda admitted even ten years back, and what's more but the bonus live rendition of Elvis' "Jailhouse Rock" works me up the same way that Von Lmo's cover of Cream's "Sunshine of Your Love" did!
6) Les Rallizes Denudes-TWIN SILVER 2-CD Set (available through Volcanic Tongue)
Another one from the last VT order, a newly-released collection (packaged in a DVD case) of rare 1970 Les Rallizes Denudes tracks that are actually those 1970 solo-era Mizutani tracks we've heard for ages (with some additional newbies thrown in for good measure) but I guess they'll sell more if they're labeled as Denudes recordings and who's complainin'? Unlike the Denudes proper, these tracks are quiet, laid back, rather folky tunes that are pleasant enough but need a li'l urrrgh to shock you back into high energy bliss. Thankfully that push does come with a strikingly different version of perennial set-closer "The Last One" which sounds nothing at all like the infamous repeato-riff eextended noise-thumper that would be omnipresent on a variety of Denudes platters but a nice, 22+-minute twin-guitar/conga drum rave that begins quietly and dolorously enough before building into a massive rage that recalls both "Heroin" and "It Was a Pleasure Then" with its tidal-wave soundschpiel smashing you into the nearby rock formation. After I get the other Denudes-related material fully digested expect more writings on this brilliant and deservedly lionized Japanese band hopefully sooner than later.
Before we close, let me turn over the podium to erstwhile BLACK TO COMM contributor Brad Kohler, who would like to clue you in on a coupla Cee-Dees I sent him for reviewing purposes (and sheesh, he didn't even say thanks!)
THE NEW SALEM WITCH HUNTERS/The Creatures of the Golden Dawn-AN INCIDENT AT OWL CREEK BRIDGE CDs (Get Hip)
The Witch Hunters disc is cut from a better template than most sixties garage rock apings, displaying most of the pop I remember from seeing them live in Youngstown in the mid-80s when these studio tracks were cut. As for the Creatures... (and what's with that title? What happened to titles like THE SO-AND-SO'S...AGAIN! You'd think from the title you were gonna take a murky swim in Lake Prog!) the problem is that most of these bands are capable enough craftsmen but lack a wild, visionary whatsis. Perhaps, as craftsmen, they should take up woodworking.
Sunday, July 30, 2006
CHRIS TAKES THE EASY WAY OUT AND GIVES YOU HIS FIRST BLOG TO COMM HIGH SIX IN A PRETTY GOSH DARN LONG TIME!!!
Sunday, July 23, 2006
Insert your own witty title above...I'm too fershlugginered to think up some cutesy-wootsey come-on myself. Anyway, when that homo wrote that song about how the livin' is easy during the summertime (y'know, the one the Wailers did on the tres-boffo OUT OF OUR TREE that the folks at Norton thought was so icky they left it off their LIVEWIRE comp) he wasn't kiddin'...I've be soooo lazy these past few weeks that you could hardly drag me anywhere near the computer in order for me to peck out a post tellin' alla ya hot and anxious pervoids as to why you should or shouldn't get hold of Cee-Dee "X", and with the weather bein' like it is all I really wanna do is just stretch out and sleep all day and night and just lollygag around. None of this intellectual tomfoolery for me!
However, I believe it should be my civic duty to at least post a li'l as to what I have been earlobeing these past few weeks, not because I feel that goshitall high and mighy about my DUTY on this planet to prevail against the forces of Godless Langisms, but I have been listening to a lotta hot 'n tasty items as of late and I just don't wanna get backlogged. And besides, maybe writin' a wee bit 'bout alla these new wares to have graced my laser launching pad will get my mind off a whole passel o' bad newz out there including the depressing Mideast situation and all of the angst 'n pain that goes along with that, especially with all of the neocon (and White House) cheerleading that seems to be egging that situation on and on to the point of extreme nausea, amongst other things. (In case you wanna know why I have these queasy feelings of gloom 'n doom, just read this recent column courtesy Paul Craig Roberts, one of the few political scribes out there I pay attention to these days and perhaps you too will feel like hiding under the bed for the next ten years like I do!) Well if anything, high energy music will certainly take the pangs of dispensationalist-approved mideast struggles away like magic so read on, and don't forget to keep listening away in your own personalized bunker!
THE SPOILS OF WAR CD (Shadoks, available through Forced Exposure)
There was a beautiful writeup of this recently-unearthed psychedelic monster via the Volcanic Tongue website, who just happen to be selling a two-LP version of this forgotten late-sixties whathehellwasthat? offering which seems to be something Shadocks seems to be doing pretty frequently. I really enjoy reading the Volcanic Tongue website's descriptions of records and Cee-Dees even if I wouldn't buy said offering in a million years (I mean, some of their wares seem way too outre even for a fringe element like me)...whoever writes these things (probably David Keenan) has such a whalloping way with words that he could make a bowel movement sound exciting to someone other than...well, I don't wanna bring him up again, and I kinda wish that Keenan would also put out his own fanzine or blog or something along those lines just so's we could read more of his wild opines on a wide array of noisemaking monstrosities out there that would clearly benefit from his way with words. Anyway, Keenan's assessment of the Spoils of War had me drooling worse than my dog Sam during his latter days of canine breakdown (with said drool left all over the furniture drying in the air kinda looking like Christmas tinsel...needless to say he eventually got the ax after about about a year or so of body function loss!), and although I know I should just direct you to the said writeup in question and link up the "review" for alla yez to read, but since I'm trying to pad this post out for all it's worth I'll just reprint the thingie in its entirety below...considering the boo-coo bucks I've just dumped on an order I'm sure Keenan won't mind:
For fans of United States Of America, Le Stelle Di Mario Schifano, EPI-era Velvet Underground, Mothers Of Invention and Fugs, The Spoils Of War cross great, primitive folk/punk/psych tracks with art-action moves, primitive/baroque songs ala Left Banke/Zombies and wild electronic modulation. One LP of studio recordings from 1969 and one LP of live material from 1967/68, this is an insane set: wired LSD-inspired happenings soundtracked by nada electronics, weird gutter/prank routines and freak-out psych pop. Comes with lots of boggling period pics in a ludicrously heavy glossy gatefold sleeve and two slabs of 180g vinyl. Hard to believe that material this far outside of the box - and of this quality - still remains to be uncovered at this stage in the game. Highest recommendation.
Now c'mon, how could any true BLOG TO COMM reader (all TWO of you) resist such a writeup as that? 'n yeah, although I'm not too hot on the likes of United States of America despite the recent revival in interest I know that more'n a few of you fans out there are and so be it (y'see, I can be "tolerant" too). 'n yeah again, if you can imagine a mad meshing of the above influences and even a little more (like perhaps what Faust mighta done with the electronic knowledge of the day had they been conceived five years earlier...wait, I think THAT one was used by Forced Exposure in their online catalog!) then you'll get an idea of what The Spoils of War are really like.
At first I was bummed out by this Cee-Dee. I thought it contained too much of that Zappa-esque "look at how outrageously atonal I can get shocking all you squares...but guess what, it's ART!!!!!!!" shuck 'n jive that impressed me when I was sixteen, but that was four centuries ago and in that time I think everybody got to see Zappa as the phony intellectual he sure turned out to be! A few more listens had me filtering my parameters through a Volcanic Tongue-styled late-sixties variation on the Great Upheaval in Sound that Wayne McGuire prophesized and utter lightweights the likes of Jonathan Cott (from his pulpit in the old ROLLING STONE) railed against as being against the true spirit of late-sixties somethingorother, making the disque a lot more digestable in the process. The electronic sound works well amidst the horn-laden pop and even the theatre-inspired waltz-tempo Brecht/Weillisms of "In Again Out Again" didn't get in the way of the baroque-pop and smart freakdom that maybe could transcend the cheap late-sixties trappings. Kitch camp goes avant garde...it's happened before and will happen again, but it never sounded as tasty as this! It actually compliments Shadocks' Time CD which I reviewed earlier but can't find offhand and if you think I'm gonna search through two years of blogging just so's I can link up the review you've got another think comin'!
LADIE'S W.C. (Shadocks, also available through Forced Exposure)
With a name like that you'd'a thunk that Jack Paar woulda bought up a whole cartonload of albums! I doubt it...after all, these guys with the great late-sixties "questionable" name were from Venezuela (all 'cept bassist Stephen Scott who was there under false pretext) and for a group comin' outta nowhere with a pretty good mix of late-six-oh blues rock and classical pop that sounds much better'n a lotta the "professional" waxings out there all I gotta say is...wha???? At first I didn't exactly go for this romper for pretty much the same reasons I didn't quite cozy up to the Spoils of War, but I find the "translation" from late-sixties British bluesmongering (TYA etc.) and Los Angeles folk rockism to South American pop pretty good...the guys at the UN couldn't have done it better!
Rhys Chatham-DIE DONNERGOTTER; AN ANGEL MOVES TOO FAST TO SEE CDs (Radium, also available through Volcanic Tongue which is where I got mine!)
Yeah I know, the guy is kinda pompous. Bill Shute even went so far as to call him an asshole after hearing this erstwhile no wave composer on National Public Radio's "Morning Edition" talking his head off about his artistic vision and how the more pretentious his music could be the better for all of us and all of that late-eighties self-indulgent crap which always seemed to put the "artist" ahead of the plain and average slob out there in nowheresville. Not that I don't have a normal disliking to the slob of today, but that doesn't mean I necessarily like the Marx-bred, grant-gobbling artiste whose sole means of support has to be taken from the hard work 'n sweat of the aforementioned slob, and I don't care if the artiste in question is producing a film, leading the local symphony orchestra or cramming yams up the hershey highway...I gotta agree with Steve Ditko when he says that ANY subsidy or public "work" is wrong and is on the same moral level as someone robbing another at gunpoint even if the one being robbed is richer (and thus deserves it???). And, to add disgust to even more disgust, I recall that Chatham was quoted (looking like a fool in the process) sometime during the creation of his 100-guitar symphony in the pages of none other than the classic, pre-neocon AMERICAN SPECTATOR back when it was taking a hard and controversal stand on just about everything w/o pandering to the hosanna crowd or their sycophants for that matter.
But that was the eighties/early-nineties, and for some odd reason nobody's talking about this form of legalized banditry anymore. And come to think of it, I don't think that Chatham is getting interviewed on Public Radio anymore as well which may be all for the good (I mean, there's a new generation of "cutting-edge" pantywaists for them to suck up to). But putting all sorts of past ill will aside I decided to get these two Cee-Dees not only in order to refresh myself as to what is was I liked and then hated about Chatham, but to get hold of the now-infamous recording of his "Guitar Trio", a 1977 composition that was made famous by its performance by various no wave one-offs led by Chatham going under such tres-Max's names as Tone Death and Meltdown. The whole kitten caboodle was released as a box set a few years back but I passed on that...at least the best parts have turned up on these disques which sure help me out when I get that no wave urge that comes upon me once in awhile.
DIE DONNERGOTTER made big alternative waves back when it was originally released in the late-eighties and it still kinda holds up a tad. After awhile those major "guitar orchestra"/large ensemble thingies that the likes of Chatham as well as Glenn Branca and Rudolph Grey were doing kinda stiffed on me (well, not Grey, since his "Flaming Angels" piece with everyone from Arto Lindsay to Charles Tyler involved was one massive hard-edged no wave/free jazz culmination that unfortunately remains unreleased to this day), but having revisited them after years of neglect shined a new light on my beaner. And believe-it-or-leave-it, but DIE DONNERGOTTER sounds pretty good here in the late-oh-ohs with its atonal buzzsaw scronk and New York flash filtered through the stale doritos and beret crowd, perhaps even transcending them at least on a non-artzy pretentious level. Not so surprisingly I really licked the decals off the aforementioned "Guitar Trio" track (recorded '82 with an all-star band including ex-wife and Gynecologist/Ut-ster Nina Canal) with its no wave minimalist appeal (albeit without the manic scronk of the original, non-conscious no wave groups) although the description of Tone Death's take on this 'un that Sonic Youth Lee Ranaldo mentions in the booklet (as well as online somewhere) sounds a lot more feral. Too bad Chatham didn't think of putting THAT on this edition but then again the whole no wave idiom is severely undocumented. Maybe things will change in a decade or so but I'm not holding your breath.
AN ANGEL MOVES TOO FAST TO SEE with its 100 guitars (although pared down to four as mentioned inna booklet notes!) actually comes off much better'n the artzy pretense of the idea would lend you to believe. True some of this sounds like latterday Philip Glass done on guitars (which is not meant as a compliment, and don't gimme that jive about how artists have to "grow" with their work...that kinda thought gave us THE ALAN PARSONS PROJECT!) but other parts sound as cool as MX-80 Sound or even Neu! with that motorik Velvet Underground beat and drone. And I'm sure it's a lot better soaking in this stuff than grabbing some culture at the Boston Pops because if you gotta be cultured it better be gulchered and what better way'n to listen to something like this! Interesting aside, the bassist on this one is none other than Ernie Brooks of Modern Lovers fame, who seems to have partaken in at least a hundred or so underground-y projects of worth ever since hanging up his bass strap with the Lovers back in '74!
Ainigma-DILUVIUM CD (Garden of Delights Germany, available through Forced Exposure)
Forced Exposure certainly made a lotta money selling this particular album over and over again to me! An exaggeration, but perhaps a slight one...y'see, back in '93 I bought the Kissing Spell version (the one with the original cover reduced to a mere sticker) under the pretext that (according to the new liner notes) this mid-teen combo had definitely produced the first punk rock record to come out of Germany (and this in '72!). The initial listening to DILUVIUM had me filing this one to the back of the collection and figuring it out as being yet another low-budget Triumvrat (Kraut take on Emerson Lake and Palmer who might have been better'n all that, though I never did hear their "masterpiece" ILLUSIONS ON A DOUBLE DIMPLE so I can't say!) with none of the garage doink I was hoping for. As if I thought that every one of these early-seventies reissues that get hyped with a "garage" production was going to emulate the best of Iggy-bred neanderthal primitivism! Like I said, I'm sure Forced Exposure has made a bundle off me by selling the same wares in two different configurations, but then again what else is new?
Thirteen years can change one's opinions given all of the twists and turns in one's musical vocabulary, and for some not-so-strange reason I decided to give this platter another try (generous guy I am). Now they're calling Ainigma a cross between King Crimson and the Seeds (!) and while that still doesn't make them the first German punksters maybe it does come closer to the truth. Y'see, although these kinnder were obviously coming from a progressive background (Atomic Rooster was considred a major influence!), they certainly didn't have the chops to create grandiose arpeggiatic monstrosities like their art rock brethren (nor could they afford the usual synths and mellotrons which usually gum up the entire proceedings anyway) which is why DILUVIUM sounds like a good mass of primal garage gunch. Its kinda hooked up in a 1969 garage-warp that woulda made them the pride of their suburb had Ainigma come outta the knotty pines of Amerigan teenage miasma, only they wuz krauts and do they have garages over there??? A surprising nightly spin at the BTC offices, and even the side-long title track (about the Big One...that is, thee flood!) doesn't turn into another hippie soapbox for whatever "relevant" cause there may have been at the time!
I guess that's it for now...hot weather and lethargy are calling me. Sorry I couldn't post more pix (had problems transferring certain snaps for some odd reason which is why this particular post looks like caga!) and sorry I couldn't write about more worthies that have passed my ears o'er the past few weeks. I do have a lotta niceties lined up for you that I'd love to write about, but I think it best that I just let 'em soak into my musical third eyesocket (actual eyeball long gouged out after a marathon listening to the Angry Samoans) before I commit my opines to paper, er, pixel (is that the right term for the basis of the computer idiom???). Anyway, keep attuned, and I'll probably be bored enough myself to see you sooner than expected.
Posted by Christopher Stigliano at 9:36 AM
Friday, July 14, 2006
A GUIDE TO THE POESY OF BILL SHUTE
Bill Shute's a guy who really doesn't need any introduction, but for the few slobs out there who don't know who the man is and what his stature remains within the bowels of the under-the-counterculture here goes...Bill (ne. "William") Shute is a fellow Boston born, Colorado raised and Texas bound who is perhaps best known in the world of rockism for his INNER MYSTIQUE fanzine, a quickie one-corner stapled mimeo job which appeared on the boards during the early-eighties, a time pretty much well-saturated with "punkzines" of a stifling sameness which is definitely why INNER MYSTIQUE despite its lowbrow airs proudly stood out amidst the competition. In many ways INNER MYSTIQUE was a remnant of the great personalist fanzines of the seventies (you could draw more'n a few comparisons between IM and Russell Desmond's shoulda been influential CAN'T BUY A THRILL from the '76 to'79 seasons), with the patented (yet unique) cheap layout and loads of in-depth intellecto-punk crankings that sure bring back the fond memories of a thriving underground scene, or at least they do every six or so years while I comb through my fanzines looking for ones to throw out and pop across the two-issue run of the mag still in the original Bona Fide and Shute-stamped envelopes. Bill had a smart sense of low-budget/low-class musical tastes which (like the best of the intellecto-punks from Desmond and Tim Ellison on down) seemed to encompass a whole slew of avenues from early jazz and blues to the cheapazoid six-oh garage reissues that seemed to bypass the usual alternative channels, which is certainly one thing that separated the likes of INNER MYSTIQUE from the big-budget yet horse-blindered fanzines of the day like BRAVEAR f'rinstance. And not only that but Bill was a snat writer as well, being able to describe in a few hundred words what I could only do in a few thousand as to why he liked the Oi groups of the early-eighties and Lester Young for that matter. If I gotta be thankful to Rick Noll it's for one thing, and that's getting me a copy of his INNER MYSTIQUE #2 which I believe was the last copy Mr. Bona Fide had for sale, and that really is saying something about my luck since I'm also the last person to get hold of a copy of UGLY THINGS #1 directly from the source, which is cool even though Mike Stax likes to drop posts about such utter garbage as Morgen on the agonyamerindie comment box even though Jay Hinman hates the bloke just as much as he hates ME!!!
A few of your might also remember Bill Shute from his "Inner Mystique" column that ran (more or less) in my own BLACK TO COMM fanzine from issue #2 (back when the crudzine was actually wrestling under the title FUD!) until #22 in 1997. For many of you upright lapdoggies it was Bill's column (some idiots out there may say "tirade") that made BTC something more'n just another one-dimensional rant and rave courtesy yours truly...whether Bill was talking about old sixties psychedelic records or old cowboy stars or that weird late-night feeling watching ginzu knife commercials on UHF-TV at one inna morning, you knew you were gonna be in for more'n the usual pantywaist young trust fund kiddie self-pity preen that seemed part-and-parcel of the "alternative experience" lo these past two-anna-half decades! Every inch of Bill's desperate eighties living shone through the sinewy stressed-out strut of his emote-packed writing, and even if you didn't know about his personal life you could tell that Bill was living in a cheap garage trying to fight eviction and working as a stockboy to make his collegiate ends meet, which made it even TOUGHER to put together a fanzine (or a column) in the process but he did and the fact that he was able to do so under such exhausting conditions should say something about the MAN as a FAN rather'n yet another cheap knockoff on the rock critic treadmill that one has seen ever since the dusk of the original underground experience (not so surprisingly right around the time Bill started his own rag up when nobody was looking!).
Bill used to call me up a lot...I remember the first time back during the late-summer of 1983 when I was working this midnight shift that was sucking more than the life outta me. I remember he chuckled when I told him that I hadda cut the call short in order to mow the lawn. All these years later I still wonder what that guffaw really meant. The next call was Thanksgiving that same year, with me still on the midnight grind and Bill not doing that much better. However things did improve for both of us and the calls and letters started coming at a slightly faster rate, really picking up by '85 when Bill and his then-new bride moved to the Roanoke Virginia area and long distance didn't cost as much...this was about the time I was starting my own hagiozine up and I sent Bill a copy of the very first one and surprises of surprises he actually LIKED the thing and believe-it-or-not encouraged me to continue on which does seem strange considering the ultimate crudness of those early results. (But it's my crud and I love it!)
Bill seemed kinda reluctant when I asked him to do something for the mag, but he contributed not only the "Inner Mystique" column but various reviews that helped yang my yin so to speak. And true, we've had our quarrels (like the time Bill decided to air in public a matter I thought should have remained totally private especially considering he didn't even talk with me about his misgivings), but I've always considered Bill an asset to BLACK TO COMM, and an asset he certainly was because as soon as he vamoosed the premises (as part of an ongoing slow retreat from the world of fandom I guess, although he sure dropped me like a hot potato when I coulda used a few gabs with him in order to ease the stress I was going through in 1997 just like I tried to help him out five years early when his wife succumbed to breast cancer), sales of the mag plummeted to an all-time low which was only exascerbated by some on-line misrepresentation and bad-mouthing that surely has my voodoo dolls working overtime!
But enough of my lame attempts at laying down a cohesive background for those not familiar with my mag or relevance with regards to a fandom-based circuit of whatever determinacy. Over the past few years Bill has been doing a few on-line reviews of movies (none of which I have read, perhaps because they'd only make me dwell on as to why I got the bum's rush from him even though I already KNOW why!) as well as some poetry books which might seem strange for a guy who used to blab on about Heckle and Jeckle cartoons but at least Bill pulls it off with gracefulness and aplomb which his in-print works would attest to. Volcanic Tongue has some of his wares available, and although his history of the Downliners Sect is nowhere to be found you can still get such fanzine-esque limited edition (press run ranging from 33 to 56!) copies of some of Bill's current poesy, and although this ain't the sorta stuff you read to your gal while in the canoe before whipping out the ukelele to strum a few bars of "Bring Back Those Rock-A-Bye Baby Days" its still something you'd expect from a guy who actually featured a pretty boss article on Jack Kerouac in one of his INNER MYSTIQUEs alongsides a G. G. Allin interview, something which didn't seem so strange to me either then or now for that matter.
TWELVE GATES TO THE CITY is the hardback one. With a really fancy design on the cover you'd probably get the impression that this is destined for the back of the bookstore but if so then some lucky punk is gonna be in for a surprise somewhere down the line, for this 'un features short poetic vignettes dealing with certain Texas cities and (presumably) real-life occurances that probably happened because these writings do seem that washed. Not quite what I woulda expected though it fits in with Shute's own populist pragmatism I guess which someone like me who has actually gabbed with the man would appreciate. Not too much of what Miriam Linna once called the "Glade Air Mist" appears here but you do get a bitta otherworldliness..."The body is made ashamed by both puritan and pornographer; The clock runs backwards, the spiral becomes flaccid, the literal becomes figurative, in junction two wrongs replace the right, while the left remains undefined." Even I (certainly a poetry hater) can see the beauty and energy in that, which does seem to transcend the usual avant garde lollygag seen o'er the past eightysome years, and it even has Paul Williams (a fine writer by any other means, but not too hot of a poet even if Richard Meltzer and Dave Marsh's reviews of his book were hit pieces) and his DAS ENERGI beat all hollow. No need to tell you that Bill is a charter member of MENSA and thought they were a buncha dolts!
However, even doltoid me could find worth and might here such as in "Baytown Texas 10 January 2003" (which tells of a moom pitcher being made by a Spanish producer who actually changed the star's Hispanic name to another Hispanic one much to said star's surprise!) and expecially the strangie that takes place in Pasadena Texas where an INTERNATIONAL CAST helps Bill clear the swamp! I have the feelings that TWELVE GATES TO THE CITY (subtitled "The Labors of Hercules in the Lone Star State") might make it to your bookshelf alongsides various Mayo Thompson and Roky Erickson reads making me wonder if there were any similar psychotropic workings put into this one...
Bill also has about seven other ltd. eds. out, the "fanzine"-like ones as I've already said, and they certainly are worthies just as much as the above. Some of this stuff woulda fit right in place on SEASTONES with Gracie Slick epiglotting it out (imagine this to an electronic adaptation..."reverse/polarity/stop/rationalizing/detach/float") while others slip right back into that spectre of real life which makes you wonder whether/not this actually happ'd or is a part of Bill's fevered nocturnal digressions (take the one about the bought off political election which ain't anything new in TX but I guess since Bill was somehow involved the proceedings do take on an added meaning). Still, it's all engrossing, spacey and downright immersible and about as one-take and even as toss-off as this very review if you can imagine that! Real funny part in SO LONG (subtitled "A Journal: 15-16 May 2006") where Bill, who I guess is back working at the supermarket (his sagas of toiling at a Virginia Food Lion were pretty nauseating, helping me wean off the barbeque chicken pronto!), writes about having to "tune out manager's right-wing hate radio while I work" whis is funny because Bill's the guy who raved on to me about Rush Limbaugh way back in '89, and though I've chilled on Limbaugh (though still listen on occasion) ever since he went big govt. conservative and stopped doing those AIDS Updates (much more preferring the Pat Buchanan/Paul Craig Roberts/Sam Francis [RIP] brand of paleoconservatism over at CHRONICLES which makes a hell of a lot more sense'n anything) I gotta laugh at Bill's remarks considering the MONSTER he helped create!
But still, I am slightly disappointed. Very little (if any) of the fun gulcheral music/films/tee-vee that Bill has championed in his mags and columns is evident. A nice vignette about listening to the Velvet Underground for the first time would have been swell, as would a tribute to Ozzie Nelson. A lot has happened since Bill cut the (phone) cord and maybe he doesn't care for Joe Cook or Jack Webb no more, but sheesh I woulda liked if he paid tribute to the GREATS had he still liked 'em!
Maybe I shoulda given each and every one of his titles a thorough mind-scrubbing before writing this post (updates will follow), but hey, I think I did a good job of describing to you the whys and wherefores of Shute's literary talents. If you're too lazy to write to Volcanic Tongue (or just wanna save $$$ on postage if you live inna USA) maybe you can probably get faster and cheaper results just by writing to Bill himself at 8200 Pat Booker Rd. #399, San Antonio TX 78233 and even if he's outta the books maybe you'll get a nice letter outta him encouraging your writing career (that is, if you send samples!). I'd give you his email address but I don't think it works...I keep writing the man on and on for the past umpteen years and he doesn't even bother writing back! And gee, I gave the pup his first big break...go figure!
One final note...tomorrow marks the big twentieth anniversary of none other than Bill's own son Eric Shute's birth! Born on St. Swithin's Day (as was Roky Erickson...dunno if any similarities have arisen!), I can still recall the phonecall from Bill telling me of the joyous occasion (I do recall that I was preparing for work on the afternoon shift at the time) which sure makes me feel old! I also remember when he called to tell me he was getting hitched (well over a year before Eric's birth...none of this moderne-day birth now, [maybe?] marry later jive!) and the first utterance outta my mouth was "Are you sure???" I really do have a way with words and say the right things at the right time, eh?!?!?! Anyway, happy birthday Eric, and no, my butt is NOT rank (well, at least not anymore!!!).
Posted by Christopher Stigliano at 5:18 PM
Saturday, July 08, 2006
Betcha thought I up and died hunh? Lemme rephrase that...betcha hoped I up and died! Well, here I am, back and proud, and perhaps ornerier for the worse of wear ready to tear into a whole slewwa things I got hold of recently (or not so) that sorta fell through the cracks so please, settle down and read on, and if you're bugged by the whole affair you know where you can write, or go for that matter!
The Left-JESUS LOVES THE LEFT CD (Bona Fide)
Rick Noll thinks I'm long-winded. Well bud, I guess that means you don't want me to write a jambus-packtus review of your latest where you can coffee-bean pick all your fave li'l lines and use 'em in future promotional material as if people out there actually care what I have to say about the Left or any of yer fine digital wares, let alone know who I am inna first place! But I know that Noll is craftier than Shylock and shorter to boot, and no matter what I say he has the uncanny ability to string together various patches of wordage I fling his way in order to work up good useful phrases that'll boost his wares, just like in MAD magazine when some foreign film distributor took Hugh Downs' negative reaction to a recent import and chopped up the comment in order to look snat! Noll gets that way sometimes.
Anyhow, I wanted to rush a review of this Left collection out before some other blog gets the honors and Noll writes a gushy "thank you" to said blog getting me even hotter under the collar (I get that way sometimes)! And it's sure great to see this long-forgotten Pennsylvanian bunch get the reissue treatment not only because they deserve it and not only because something like the complete studio sessions of this truly punk/hardcore bunch is even more needed in the here and now than it was twennysome years back, but since I don't have a workable turntable it's not like I can spin the myriad asst. of Left vinyl offerings moulding away in my record collection on a daily basis. And frankly I won't be spinning this one daily either, but it's sure nice to have something to listen to that rots your brain once in awhile, and if anything'll rot it the Left surely will!
Anyway, if you remember not only the Left but such gulcheral watermarks related to 'em like Bona Fide Records as well as INNER VOID fanzine (one of the funniest cheapo throwaway mags of the day), then you'll dig this croaker to the max. Not just any pithy hardcore pseudo-hippie peaceandlove gunch (remember how punk, the antithesis to the hippie credo of the seventies, eventually became what it stood against in the eighties thanks to the tireless hard work of a buncha communists in Berkeley who merely helped end one chapter of the punk continuum and started another, watered down one?), the Left were hardgunch rock and rollin' madboys who, like the Angry Samoans and Rancid Vat amongst few others tried to wrestle the punk banner away from the aerie types and reclaim it as a hard squelch modus operandi that sure smells better down the line'n all the save the whales rattling that was goin' on back when we needed more high energy and less patchouli oil!
This is a wowzer of a disque to boot, with all those anti-PC faves that seemed to inspire me to greater heights of nose-tweaking getting the royal treatment and boy am I glad of that! Just one spin of such classics as "The Vietcong Live Next Door" (there's a tiger cage waiting for YOU!) and "AIDS Alley" (kinda like Dave Lang's idea of junior achievement) takes me back to the thrilling days of yesteryear (a whopping two decades of yesteryear at that!) when it seems as if the Left as well as a few scattered agitpunks (talking agitated punks, not Crass wannabes!) were the only ones making life interesting enough for the besotted true believers out there. It's too bad that this particular scene hadda poop out around the late-eighties or so ending up as hip-to-be-retarded fodder for Chuck Eddy's heavy metal remushings. The whole thing is one mad powerhouse of primal hard-crashing energized electrodes slamped right onto your right side of the brain, and it's even eclective enough to borrow from Blue Oyster Cult one minute then the Thirteenth Floor Elevators the next sounding as pure and as whole as rock & roll as that International Youth Language was supposed to be before the translation broke down somewhere down the line.
Of course all of the above praise of the Left for their energy (after all, they did one of the few covers of "TV Eye" worth its weight in Iggy's boogers) and their standing firm in the face of even-Newer Left dictatorship of the maladjusted trust fund kiddie hijinx doesn't mean this one's a perfect slab of BLOG TO COMM-approved ginchiness. Y'see, in the "unreleased tracks" segment of the disque (usually tacked on at the end, as it is here) the Left kinda live up to their name with a tune entitled "Columbus Day" which happened to be a well-placed poke at the 500th anniversary of the Big Discovery and all the evil that has been wrought thanks to the bloke's miscalculations! Sheesh, I really can't blame 15th century guys for acting the way they did just like I can't blame 16th, 17th or 18th or even 19th century ones for behaving the way they did given they didn't have the wise enlightening advice of people like Oprah and Dr. Phil to guide them, but it sure seems that a lotta snobs just love doing that, being so lofty and all. Now, I can blame people of the 20th and 21st centuries for their behavior since they shoulda known better...I'm talking people like Lenin, Stalin, Pol Pot, Sanger and Mao (and their apologists in the leftist rock world) who somehow seem to escape a load of heavy duty censure while good guys like Franco and McCarthy get the ol' heave-ho from a lotta "open-minded" knowitalls who think they can run our lives better than we can! Now I know that Rick's a dyed inna wool lefty (just take a look at his myspace page, or at least click on the part which'll take you to his blog where you can actually see a pic of Prez G. W. w/his mouth taped shut!) and such stuff don't bother him even though all of that anti-Bushschpiel only makes me wanna love the guy even while he turns my paleo stomach at times, but hearing the Left traipse straight into the heart of MAXIMUMROCKNROLL territory doesn't exactly endear me to them that much!
Yeah, but you can always bleep over that sorta self-righteous hate-the-rubes upper-crustism if you like and dig the more typical rest o' the picture. A real powerful treat for those of you bogged down by too much amerindie bloghype drool and that's the honest-to-ME truth!
Well Rick, was that long-winded enough for you???
Artful Dodger-RAVE ON CD (Ariola)
In some ways I dunno why I bothered picking this one up. After all, Artful Dodger were (along with such local hairchest rockers as the Michael Stanley Band, the Wild Horses and whatever group the Balzer Brothers were playing in at the time) what one would call pretty hot stuff in late-seventies Cleveland Rock circles. Y'know, the kinda groups who were getting a lotta notoriety and exposure from the Cleveland Rock Mafia...er, Media while all of the great high-energy post-Velvet Underground wonders were having a hard time scraping taxi fare home from one of their gigs. Real Anastasia Pantsios fodder, if you know what I mean. Back in the day stuff like this drove me batty, especially when it seemed as if groups like Pere Ubu and the Styrenes were only getting (or were lucky enough to get) pathetic token coverage which was strange considering alla the hype about how Cleveland loved its rock & roll. That was a lie...Cleveland only loved technical proficiency and two-dimensional hackery and if that makes me an elitist...well, thank goodniz for that! I hear H. L. Mencken was one too!
But if Artful Dodger's success in Cleveland during the height of Pantsiosmania (obviously) didn't make me wanna hear these guys, what was it that did get me to fork over the big 'uns for this disque anyway? What else but a 1976 Max's Kansas City gig listing from April of that year which had a headlining Artful Dodger playing at that hallowed dive with none other than the infamous Milk 'n Cookies as opening act! Wow, so that means that Artful Dodger were one of the myriad assortment of groups who, in the wake of media exposure to not only Max's but CBGB, flocked to that burgh alongsides such local wonders as Pere Ubu and the Dixie Dregs to get some big city notoriety so to speak! And the fact that the powerpunkpoppers Milk 'n Cookies (I think I reviewed a CD of theirs somewhere on this blog...) were the opening act for this gig certainly said something...dunno what exactly it said (other'n "Chris, you'll hitch your star to anything with a seventies underground rock catchphrase!") but whatever it was it sure got me interersted in this batch!
So I get this Cee-Dee and plunk it in the machine and guess what? Very little of the early-mid-seventies Cleveland powerpop post-Raspberries commercial-yet-invigorating rock I was hoping for shown through, but that doesn't mean Artful Dodger are that much of a dud. True the opening track where each and every Dodger thanks Cleveland and the Agora for making them the big stars they are (?) is enough to bring back memories of WMMS-FM late-seventies back-patting regurgitation, but strip the shuck away and you get...halfway-decent power-pop that without the slick production and the lame lyrics could have worked a bit. The album proper is fairly middling (nothing here grabs like it should!), but the bonus '76-era Agora broadcast, probably similar to their Max's set earlier that year, does have a nice mid-seventies pop-rock feeling to it that remarkably enough doesn't have me reaching for the eject button! Artful Dodger might have, had they only stuck around long enough to listen to the Milk 'N Cookies kids, evolved into a pretty good power-pop band just like the Raspberries and all those spinoffs that had Greg Shaw calling that burgh the New Liverpool, but as it stands they were too FM-rock headstrong to do any transcending themselves. A nice try, but not quite there. Perhaps the spectre of Pantsios was just too much for them to do any expanding, if you get my drift.
(Of course, the kicker to this story was that Artful Dodger weren't even from Cleveland, but I believe North Carolina [someone correct me if I'm wrong!], though like Michael Stanley they sure owed their success, and perhaps existence, to Cleveland and the sycophantic rockcrit good-old-boy scene that transpired there. So in many ways they might as well have been an actual Cleveland band given their popularity not only with the FM dolts but the snide businessmen who pushed this stuff [no matter how good it could have been---it's the thought that counts!] on the idiot masses!)
VOIVOD LIVES CD (Metal Blade)
Never cared for this bunch's more progressive-tinged material (after all, their take of "Astronomy Domine" had me sending KILLING TECHNOLOGY straight into the "sell" pile), but when Voivod were into their cyberpunk hard-edged rant they just hadda've been the bestest of the eighties metallic mongers on the planet, or perhaps even beyond. Standing strong against all of the "light" metal that seemed to be all the rage (if you could call a piddling sound the likes of Quiet Riot a "rage"), Voivod really tore through the shredded sphincter of metallicus proper and put forth a maddening vision that still holds bucketsfulla integrity and pure callousness whilst the competition seemed to flub up somewhere down the line.
VOIVOD LIVES does have all the nice hallmarks of a good eighties heavy metal album from the low-budget cheezy cover (though nothing really touches the outerspace airbrush of Von Lmo's FUTURE LANGUAGE) to the bludgeon we've come to expect from such splatters, and thankfully these guys managed to pull through with seemingly ease (or maybe it just looks that way). Recorded live in Holland and at CBGB, this disc stands as a testament as to what a good metallic romp done live should be...not as noisy as their earlier classics yet fluid in a strange way...perhaps Michael Snider's comparisons to yet another metallic monster MX-80 is in line as well? (I've heard somewhere that the guys in MX-80 really go for Voivod which wouldn't surprise me because those bubs like everything!) Still, one that people who pretend to like heavy metal shouldn't be without...unless their idea of heavy metal is the eighties wanker music that bands like Voivod stood in stark contrast against!
LSD March-new CD I forget the title of!
Yes indeed, I actually forgot what this one is called because the package (disque impaled on a postcard-like piece of paper) is so dang hard to make out! But given 'tis an LSD March offering what can you really discern from the thing other'n here's another pretty good post-Les Rallizes Denudes Japanese psychedelic punk offering that sounds pretty good but doesn't quite come up to post-Rallizes standards, or even anywhere close to that band at the height of their atonal bellow. As usual the sound is too clean unlike the vibrating mud feel of a good seventies Rallizes audience tape and the ballads don't always grab hold, but I still love it for the prime psychogarage energy that permeates these things even with the mid-oh-ohs technology trying to get inna way! Frankly any LSD March whether it be CD or ltd. ed. vinyl is worth getting your paws on, though I'd try to find their early bootleg-quality disques first since they seem to dish out the Rallizes-thrust a lot more than the newer and proficient platters. Ain't progress disgusting???
INFORMATIVE FINAL NOTE: Given CBGB's eventual capitulation within a few short months its like I've been trying to watch all of the interesting-enough giggings that are going down at all three of their stages before it all goes under, and that not only includes the big names that happen to play there but the young upstarts with monikers that seem intriguing enough to make me think they'd transcend the norm and harken back to something good, like the under-the-covers NYC scene of the early/mid-seventies f'rinstance. Most of these newies are outright turdballs to be frank about it, but surprisingly enough there was a band playing the Lounge called "The Ghost of Lester Bangs" last night that certainly piqued my attention! Yes, ever since that famed rock critic deep-sixed back in spring '82 it seems that his legend has just grown and grown, and while a majority of pipsqueak scribes either take him to heart full blast or demean him to the extreme (as Parke Puterbaugh did in ROLLING STONE, clearly an act of revenge!), all I gotta say is what else would you expect??? Anyway, it was kinda interesting to see a band naming themselves after the famed critic, even though I believe there were two others (according to expert Jim DeRogatis) who have done the exact same thing in the nineties but the thoughts behind such actions were nice, dontcha think???
However, what I caught of this group's act was anything but Bangsian. No, they didn't sound like the Lester Bangs throwtogether band of '77 nor Birdland or even his Texas recordings with Brian Curley at all and y'know, I have the sneaking suspicion that people who loved Bangs but hated his music would have thought even less of this new band's attempts at resurrecting old seventies rockism watermarks. That is, if you could say they were attempting to revive said decade. The group was too moderne post-garage to have been associated any way with the Lester Bangs legacy, with little vim or spark to seperate them from the throngs of new underground wannabes out there vying for someone's time and money. It kinda makes me wonder how and why they would want to capitalize on the memory of some fat dude who croaked about the same times these guys were probably still in the zygote stage but since stranger things have happened I shouldn't worry myself so. As for me, The Ghost of Lester Bangs was at least slightly inspirational...y'see, when I finally do start up my own rancid rock group, it's gonna be called Wayne McGuire!
Posted by Christopher Stigliano at 1:04 PM