Saturday, November 18, 2006

BLOG TO COMM PLAYS CATCHUP AND CUTS THE MUSTARD AT THE SAME TIME!!!

Woulda had a nice lil ol' midweek post heaped atcha if things had only gone a little smoother around these parts, but unfortunately production at the salt mines was way upp'ed o'er the past few days in preparation for the big Fangsgiving/Ecchs-mess season so I wasn't able to put thought to keyboard sooner than I did (being oh-so-conscious of just how much you fans o' mine just live for the latest dribble, drool and pimpleburst to come from my fevered imagination). However, given how everything's been pretty much ironed out for the weekend or what's left of it I thought that perhaps a DOUBLE LENGTH post would be more'n a better way to make amends for my general slackitude. Now, if I only knew what the standard length should be for a typical BLOG TO COMM post so's I could double it thus keeping my promise for a superduper-length disseratation on some of the real hotcha stuff out that that has affected my life (and eventually will yours) these past few days, but I'll just wing it as usual and come out my typical rose-smelling self in the process whilst detailing it all your way! Not that I'm exactly UP to it...frankly I'm so run down I feel like one of those proverbial Eyetalians picking dandelions on the freeway, but even though my writing certainly takes a huge nosedive this post I thought I'd stick with it, if only to fulfill some sorta personal goal that would satisfy myself and myself only, but if you wanna come along for the ride feel free!

Radio I-Ching-LAST KIND WORDS CD (Resonant, available through CD Baby)

William Parker and the Little Huey Creative Music Orchestra-SPONTANEOUS CD (Splasc[h])


As you'll already know if you've been reading this blog since its inception, I really liked a lotta the goings on that were happening not only at the now deep-sixed rock club CBGB but its various sister dives the CB's 313 Gallery as well as the CBGB Lounge. True I was merely catching the action via the miracle of cybercast ever since they set up the cameras at all three hotspots back in the summer of 1999, but it was sure neat espying the goings on at the club, and not only for the "better known" names that might have been performing on its stages during these final years (that is, if there really were any "better known" groups playing CB's this late in the game) but for the quickie flybynights who, as usual, seemed to have a lot going for 'em but you knew they never would get anywhere because they were just TOO under-the-counterculture for anybody's radar to pick up. But still, I'm glad that I did eyeball many of the groups that I was fortunate enough to tune in on, though as usual I still wonder why it all hadda go down the toilet of urban renewal so soon???

Anyhow, as you may remember I was really hotsy-totsy about the Sunday night freestyle jazz shows that were taking place at the Lounge from around 2001 until last year when Hilly commandeered the Lounge stage in a last-ditch attempt to save his sinking hangout. Being a guy who had come to the conclusion somewhere down the line that maybe free jazz did go out with the Edsel, it sure was an eye-opener to discover that the form was not only still alive but throbbing with a lotta the "old" (survivors of the Sam Rivers Loft Jazz days in the seventies) and new players sorta intermingling to create an even newer avant garde jazz generation that sure sounded thriving and meaningful even to these jaded ears! In many ways I couldn't see that much difference between what some of these new aggregates like Freedomland and the Hanuman Ensemble were doing and a lotta the hotclash underground New York rockism that had gone down at the club o'er the past thirtysome years, and maybe that made me feel all warm and toasty inside because this blare reminded me of the late-seventies surge I would get thumbing through record bins all agog over both Patti Smith French-only singles and rare Sun Ra imports wishing I could own the whole kitten caboodle, greedy consumerist swine that I am!

There were so many great freestyle memories I wish I could relive as well as even more which I unfortunately missed out on, but thankfully the series did clue me in to a number of groups and players whose recordings I've fortunately been able to search out, perhaps with some difficulties but search out nonetheless. Just stroll this site for reviews of more'n a few modern-day avant winners and you'll know just how much I've personally benefitted from all those cybercasts. And even though CBGB is no mo', at least "curator" Dee Pop had the sense to move the series to a place called Jimmy's Tavern where the beat goes on, and who knows when recordings from this venue will be hitting the silver platter circuit because frankly, I sure could stand listening to a group with the tres-avant moniker "Zinc Nine Psychedelic" more sooner than later!

Dee Pop must have been a performing member of, or guest of at least half-dozen or so of the acts that have played the series both at CB's and at Jimmy's. He did percussion for the Hanumans, played in Freedomland, guested with Noisetet, performed as half of a duo with Borah Bergman and in Eddie Gale's trio and popped up in a whole slew of one-offs and acts I'm sure I'll remember long after the fact. Anyway, his current jazz modus opporandi is Radio I-Ching, a band that is more or less half of the great Hanuman Ensemble but still packs the same avant-sting even sans the hard-playing of Mia Theadoracopolous. I've caught Radio I-Ching on a few of the CBGB cybercasts and thought they were smooth enough though maybe their white roots did show a bit, but then again I didn't have this new Cee-Dee to give a listen to. And it's a mighty powerful one at that, nothing you'd expect from members of the caucasian race (I hope you realize I write this in jest...don't wanna rowl up the ire of a whole buncha self-conscious white liberals out there looking for an excuse to pounce on me for something!) but still pretty smooth avant-lustre lines played like a modern Albert Ayler complete with 1920's jazz technology (banjo!) that seems to soar the same heights as the great altoist and with the same historical perspective that Ayler had with enough retrogarde nervetwist to have (had it been around in the late-sixties) caused the man to have taken a late-night dip in the river a lot earlier if you ask me!

On LAST KIND WORDS Radio I-Ching perform a load of covers (and three originals) ranging from whore-y chestnuts like "Let My People Go," "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" and even that old turdball "Brother Can You Spare a Dime" up through Duke Ellington and Ornette, but this ain't no Jazz Butcher adolescent teardown that SOUND CHOICE would jam their indie-festered pages with! Nothing but pure moderne (2006 even!) avant garde jazz that believe-it-or-not emulates instead of insults! Playing can be sparse (with Haas' sax blaring pure Aylerspeak while Fiorino plucks away on banjo and lotar {sounds like one of those old Bruce Hampton instruments!] in a decidedly non-AACM fashion) but nice and delicious...may get a bit to get used to if you're more in tune with the guttural belch of urban free jazz past, but if you were one to frequent the freestyle series either in person or in spirit you would be familiar with this even newer branch of jazz with rockism thrown in for good measure. Think of a less electronic Noisetet and you could be halfway there.

Although a good portion of the acts featured in the freestyle series have available wares out, precious few documents of actual live giggage seem to have been preserved. A very desirable CD-R of a 2002 Freedomland gig on Rent Control survives, but unfortunately a heaping hunking portion of the gigs that transpired remain unheard and perhaps hopelessly lost to all time. Naturally this really gets an obsessive/compulsive wonk yearning to hear Storm again such as myself all hot under the collar, but until somebody uncovers the tapes and puts 'em out I guess I'll have to remain anal retentive! Well have no fear Sweet Polly Purebred, for some dago jazz label at least had the unabashed SMARTS to release a gig done by William Parker (who was pretty much omnipresent on the CBGB Lounge jazz scene) and his Little Huey Creative Music Orchestra that was recorded at the series, and it's a rilly neat killer that only makes me long for more, more and MORE freestyle blare (as all good art eventually does). To Dee Pop I command...VAULTS, OPEN SEZZA ME!!!

You may think that an aggregate with a name like that the Little Huey Orchestra would be paying homage to the famed overweight cartoon duck of Harvey fame but they ain't. Heck, I don't even know the significance of such a moniker but then again does anyone really know what Three Dog Night and Nation of Ulysses mean? (I heard that the former has something to do with guys in the wild who hadda keep warm by getting the pooches to sleep on 'em, though with a name like Three Dog Night I would naturally tend to think they were talking about an evening of sexual conquest that one Dave Lang would most certainly look forward to.) But as some wise guy once said what's in a name, and as far as what's in a band Little Huey's got it all from the freestyle big guns a la Roy Campbell, Matt Lavelle, Steve Swell and Sabir Mateen to even former Contortion/Chinese Puzzle and current Freedomland player David Hofstra on tuba (one track only) and it's all pretty wild free play spazz, not anything along the lines of some of the Sun Ra orbital mindsplats or Alan Sondheim's stretching the boundaries until they become useless but still mighty fine jazz upchucking anyway. Loft jazz expanded into a small orchestra setting with great atonal performances/solos that aren't mere sound as noise but sleek playing not that far from the corral yet all over the prairie. None-a-that "LOOK, I'M MAKING A DISTURBING ARTISTIC STATEMENT!!!" gunk but great, pure free sound that I get the feeling would have even disturbed a lotta those hippies who were in on the Coltrane bandwagon '66 because after him, did any of 'em really care???

Les Rallizes Denudes-LIVE 1972 CD (Overground, France)

It sure looks as if those once-rare Les Rallizes Denudes CDs are now coming out at at exceedingly fast rate, though getting hold of 'em before they sorta fuzz out into all eternity is another problem entirely. However, I have the sneaking suspicion that this one will be with us for awhile...released by the same Frenchmen who also gave us the LIVE '77 double set, LIVE 1972 is a silver-CD (a rarity in these CD-R-saturated Les Rallizes Denudes dayze!) document of a heretofore unheard by just about anyone gig. Disque background is kinda sketchy (in face, all we have to go on is the title) but nevertheless it's still prime Denudes captured around the time they were evolving from a late-sixties psychedelic band into an early-seventies variant on the same form...perhaps harder but not quite heavy metal. Label hype mentions a Hawkwind sound (so did Mike Snider when I first dubbed some Denudes for him), and if you can imagine that bunch circa SPACE RITUAL stripped down to a guitar/bass/drums nerveshatter you can see the comparison even clearer. Cassette recording's typical for the times, complete with mangle, incomplete songs, quickie tape turnovers and a general Flintstones sound quality. And you could say that the general production does capture what this band was doing with their distorted dark style so its not like you're losing anything in the translation from jammed-tape to CD.

Ted Nugent and the Amboy Dukes-JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE MIND, MIGRATION CD (some Russkie release)

There's this great interview that John "Mao" Sinclair (don't worry, he'd take that as a compliment!) did with once-enemy/now-pal MC5 frontman Rob Tyner that originally appeared in one of those Ann Arbor rags like the SUN or FIFTH ESTATE or something like that back in '67, and amidst all the talk about the origins of the MC5 "avant rock" sound (born at a frat party in 1965 during a 45-minute "Hang On Sloopy") and Joseph Jarman, the interesting fact that the MC5, even at that early stage in the game, had become the most influential group in not only Detroit/Ann Arbor but the general Michigan area was discussed perhaps "not at length" but discussed nonetheless. I forget how many bands Sinclair and Tyner counted (I can't locate the interview and fear it's been lopped off the 'net), but the point was made that the MC5 were a pretty popular band in the area, and if you were a group playing in the burgh you had better've swiped more than a few ideas from the Five lest you languish in cubesville hell for a good portion of the revolution!

Maybe it was braggadoccio, maybe it was truth, but anyway I was wondering just how many of these groups were in fact front and center MC5 fans at the time. True I could count such one-shot wonders like the Orange Wedge of "From the Womb to the Tomb" fame, the Keggs of BACK FROM THE GRAVE volume whatever and other here/there acts like Sproton Layer, but then again I'm just curious as to how many Michigan obscuros really were carrying the MC5 banner back in those days of suburban revolution. The question was plaguing me a bit (well, a little more'n a "bit" since I can become brain-wracked over these things as time goes on) but what really got my attention grabbed regarding the MC5 question was when I picked up some issue of MOJO about a year back and saw a bit on the Amboy Dukes where none other than Ted Nugent was yapping appreciative approval of the MC5 and how they influenced him to the point where he would study Wayne Kramer's guitar solo on the A-Square version of "Looking At You" and attempt to copy the thing note-for-note!

I mean...THEODORE NUGENT HIMSELF???? The poster boy for eighties straight-edge establishment-approved goodboy rolemodel rock? CREEM after-the-fall's own Alfred E. Neuman (before that a reg'lar pariah in the Lester Bangs-helmed mag!)???? Mr. "Let's-see-how-cool-those-punks-are-with-a-gun-barrel-aimed-between-their-eyes!" ('r something like that, quoted by a rabid anti-punk dee-jay back in the day whose now doing Sunday night doo-wop which does seem fitting for an avowed hard rock machobugger hack as he!) Let's say that the idea that an overblown, Chuck Eddy-approved arbitor of the "loudest" that Mainstream Muzak Ameriga hadda offer in the lamest decade ever at least until the next two came along even admitting to loving let alone liking the MC5 was a pretty weird fact to jam into the braincells! I mean, a Mr. Clean like Nugent who claims never to have even gulped down a beer (and we know just how much hash [Sproton Layer] and heroin [Umela Hmota 3] all those other MC5-inspired acts imbibed in!) liking and being influenced by the Five...well, it just makes me wanna know what other rock & roll surprises there are out there for me to uncover, like is Jimmy Page really a tea-totling Christian or perhaps Frank Zappa really liked to take baths after all!

Not that it doesn't seem feasible since the Amboy Dukes' version of "Baby Please Don't Go" sounds remarkably similar to the Five's take on '66 BREAKOUT, but frankly I always thought the Dukes were pretty much Detroit light-weight. I remember buying their debut platter at a flea market '82 hoping that the sounds contained therein were garage band enough to at least keep for occasional play, but I was coma'd out by everything from the weak playing (inc. Nugent's) to the blanded out music which didn't seem to work either as garage, psychedelia or metal to the point of slapping the thing immediately on the "sell" pile to exchange for more worthy Rough Trade albums. There was none of the raw urge that music that's supposed to "be in the raw state of becoming" (something I think Wayne McGuire once said) on that platter, and frankly the Amboy Dukes for all their cool name and looks might have implied, were more or less fluffs next to the likes of the Five and especially the oft-loathed Stooges whom Nugent couldn't say enough vile things about jealous fool he may be.

So where does that leave this Russian twofa of the second and third Amboy Dukes albums? Frankly I find both of 'em to be in the same light-paych vein of the first...not BAD mind you but with little of the Detroit high energy sound that the Dukes allegedly were so fond of. Sure the hit single is fine, but the rest of it twaddles between psych filler and just plain ol' halfway inspired (or is it insipid?) fodder that only proves that not only could that guy in the Flock whip Nugent's ass to the point of him crying "mama" but so could a good portion of the Detroit garage pounders of the day from the Unrelated Segments to the Stooges (even!) not to mention the Five, which makes me wonder just how that guitar battle twixt Nugent and Wayne Kramer went back in '74. Probably was a no doubt about it Kramer shutdown as Nugent, for all his guitar proficiency and ability to shape sound out of his guitar a la Hendrix, has a style aimed more at some babooshka'd pimple-thigh Detroit chain smoking lottery queen 'stead of the rock & roll nerve of the matter. As I should have realized when I read that blurb in MOJO, but then again I was looking for another hook. And given the state of musical affairs these days can ya really blame me?

The Alarm Clocks-THE TIME HAS COME (Norton)

OH NO...NOT MORE OLD MEN!!!!! Yes, it looks as if the elderly are taking over the rock & roll scene and you can tell it from the snap of these four old fogies that adorns the cover of Norton's latest Cee-Dee release. Look at those double chins!!! Look at those bald pates as well as those attempts to hide the impending bald pates!!!! Look at those wrinkles and chicken necks!!!!! Something tells me that these Alarm Clocks, who had brief fame as mid-sixties teenage punkaroonies, have either retired early from their mill jobs ("Take the buyout Harry!") or just split from their nags of umpteen years and in typical male menopause fashion are more than ready to relive the same past glories they eschewed thirty-plus years back when they were heading up the ladder of K-Mart management! It happens a lot...I mean, I can think of ONE rock & roll loser who happened to "get back into" rock scribing after his wife had the smarts to ditch the bozo after his one-too-many lost weekends started turning into lost eons!

Well, for all of the goatees and shades and attempts at lost youth extant that are flourishing out there I gotta 'fess up to the fact that some budding seniors out there never did lose it...I mean, I heard some tracks from that recent Wailers reunion CD and other than for the modern electric piano sound I thought those sexagenarians still "had it," so how bad could this batch of punks trying to relive the glorious past be anyway? Actually "these" Alarm Clocks are every big as punkoid as "those" ones, still cranking out the raw garage band blues (and why not, since they ain't practiced in almost forty years!) sounding pretty good in the dim present mainly because it is dim enough that I can't see any light at the end of the tunnel but somehow these guys can! And what's really wild about THE TIME HAS COME is that most of it is original...true the covers of "Like a Rolling Stone" and "I'm a Man" are straight outta 1965 mid-Ameriga but so are the originals and heck, I think most of 'em if not all were written back in the day which is especially grand! (Though I certainly HOPE that the tune "Don't Get Left Behind" ain't about thee popular series of books that have dulled more than a few generations of minds out there in enlightenment land these days...I mean, what we need now is a lot less Tim LaHaye and a lot more Troggs!) Cleveland has never been prouder since the days of Rocket From the Tombs making me wonder if Anastasia Pantsios has ever fulfilled her suicidal tendencies with regards to her unrequited love of Eric Carmen? If not, I have the feeling that THE TIME HAS COME (presenting Cleveland as the high-energy bastion of snide cool it has always been) will somehow push her over the brink. Quick, somebody get Pantsios a copy for Christmas!!!

Henry Flynt-BACK PORCH HILLBILLY BLUES VOLS. 1 & 2 (Locust)

It's really grand being able to finally hear more of Flynt's avant garde drone in the here and now, especially when all I hadda rely on lo these many years was a dub of his YOU ARE MY EVERLOVIN' tape that was itself incomplete (though I coulda looped it somehow and it wouldn't've mattered). Needless to say both of these disques are essential for those few Lamonte Young/Fluxus fanatics amongst us, with its great rural avant fiddle and gutbucket gunch that (like I said) sorta encapsulated the entire Lower East Side dirty street smarm yet reflected Flynt's own mid-South hillbilly upbringing in a greater clash of cultures than the Holy Modal Rounders even! And to prove he ain't just another transplanted New York snob Flynt ain't afraid to slip rock & rollisms into the "serious" avant garde matter of it all. Yet two more winners I've learned about four years after their release, but what else is new (old?)!

AYLESBURY ROXETTE (fanzine published by Chris France, 1976-1977)

Dunno if the AYLESBURY ROXETTE qualifies as being a fanzine proper, it resembling more or less the kind of free music papers one continues to see at local record shops worldwide, but Greg Shaw classified it as such back in an old issue of BOMP, and who am I to argue with the late/great Chairman of the (Rock Fan Writer's) Board anyway? Anyway, call it what you will but I would tend to agree that AYLESBURY ROXETTE was pretty much a newsprint tabloid foldover fanzine along the lines of the final issue of CAN'T BUY A THRILL detailing the goings on in the Aylesbury (wherever that is!) section of Blighty, with a buncha ZIGZAG guys helping out which would figure since the type's exactly the same and a lotta the pics here can be seen there as well. Still the writing's snat in that Nick Kent/Charles Shaar Murray/Mick Farren British fashion plus top bopping rockscribe Kris Needs is all over the place (either as a contributor or in a musicial/local personality of some sort capacity) making him perhaps the British self-promoting rocker answer to Kenne Highland! And not only that, but you get the (then) latest news on not only all of the going nowhere leftovers of the British rock scene plus up and coming punks and punques making for some pretty exciting reading esp. thirty years down the road when the whole 'scene' seems to have plopped into some great chasm of utter meaninglessness. There are plenty of Ramones raves, Flamin' Groovies grooving, Eddie and Hot Rods rooting and John Otway infoschlupping (much of it Needs-related in the best Gizmos music incestuous style extant!) to be found here, and to make matters even better you get to read about the faves of today while they were making their climb up the latter of rockism success and that'll certainly send tingles up 'n down the spines of more than a few one-track-mind rock osmosers out there! Special surprise; interesting bits and pieces regarding future Pink Fairie/Warsaw Pakt/Deviants strummer Andy Colquhoun's early and legendary band the Rockets including a neat snap of 'em in all their leather glory that would certainly look lovely adorning the front of some Captain Trips issue I hope makes it our way soon, given how dry the whole Pink Fairies drilling excursions have been as of late. (Which reminds me, I better snatch a copy of Colquhoun's PICK UP THE PHONE AMERICA Cee-Dee one of these days before its gone for good...hey Eddie Flowers, if you happen to read this how about reserving a copy for me pronto???)

ALSO RECEIVED: a CD dub of Cross's "Melody Lady"/"Sugar Daddy" single taken directly from the master tapes, to be played once I can find a player more susceptable to being able ro "read" CD-Rs! Look for a review of this and other dubbed treates as soon as I take another long car ride!

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

I just ordered the live ’77 Les Rallizes Denudes 2CD this morning – my first punt in their direction. Nearly went for this live ’72 set as well but was put off by the Flintstones sound quality that you refer to. Are all the pre-77 recordings of that nature soundwise or is there an exception? Saw some totally boss youtube clips earlier today as well, then looked at the Volcanic Tongue DVD prices which were less than boss (USD100 or thereabouts for each DVD). Ho hum...

Christopher said...

As far as I can tell (at least judging from what I've heard), LIVE '72 is perhaps the "worst"-sounding of the batch, though a def. must for the fan who's heard everything. Most of these early Denudes recordings are of a quality which the noted bootleg collector's magazine HOT WACKS would've probably rated as "VG" to "VG+", audience quality (though reportedly from the soundboard) but still pretty sturdy enough for much listening pleasure. I think they would've deemed LIVE '72 as being a "VG-" or so. LIVE '77's sound is about par for these seventies disques that have been coming out as of late, and I must say that I prefer these older, louder audience recordings to the clearer and less-thrilling 90s Denudes live shows that are also making the rounds.

Anonymous said...

You do realize that Nugent was not the major creative force in the (original) Amboy Dukes - John Drake and Steve Farmer had much more to do with the songwriting and general direction of the band. The Nuge was just a youngster who could play lead guitar good enough to give them the monumental twin-guitar attack. He was co-credited for a number of songs but that was probably a means of keeping peace in the band. He was also quite the mama's boy - when the other guys in the band were out doing drugs and banging groupies Ted always had to run home to mom.