Wednesday, November 22, 2006

SO ROBERT ALTMAN IS DEAD...WHOOP-DEE-DOO!

Never cared for the guy at all. A total waste of time...the anti-Beaudine if you will. I mean, if you (the unapologetic, rockist-oriented typical BLOG TO COMM reader) could actually sit through utter trash (big production star-studded extravaganza, but trash next to a real cinematic winner like BOWERY TO BAGHDAD) such as A WEDDING or (heavens forbid) M*A*S*H, I'm sure you'll have a future in espionage especially if you have the tendency to be captured and tortured in the most utterly disturbing fashions the product of a warped mind would dare think up! True, as I said in my COMBAT review awhile back (scroll down), Altman was put to much better use directing episodes of boss fifties programs like M-SQUAD rather than the prestigious cinematic quap be eventually became famous for, but to quote R. Meltzer his death means about as much to me as Baby Huey's. Boring movies for boring people, though in retrospect I'm sorta glad that he whizzed on the M*A*S*H television series especially since the people who were producing that one were admittedly borrowing ideas from the original film itself and were the types to drool over Altman and his "technique"! It's always nice to see Hollywood chew up its own.

Now that I got this certain piece of postmodern hatred outta the way (next post, my running joke about how Michael J. Fox is set to play Shakey in the new DICK TRACY feature), let's talk about music, mostly this hot-off-the-presses live disc that I (really!) have been waiting for quite some time. Now, I never was what you would call much of a Neil Young fan if any, and although I used to pay attention to his various top forty wonders when they were being spun throughout the early seventies I seemed to later on have developed a deep disliking, nay hatred for the man. This was by the time I hit the middle years of my high school education and in retrospect I guess it was because of some of the people, or to put it more precisely ONE classmate o' mine who actually used to wax on and on about Young and that whole washed up acoustic hippie douche musing scene (and hated my then-main man Frank Zappa)...of course that and Young's hijinx with fellow hippies-in-arms Crosby, Stills and Nash (people who I never really had strong feelings about one way or another but grew to loathe when the whole ROLLING STONE incestuous music/hippie press/SF lifestyle scene just one day got to me and MADE ME PUKE MY GUTS OUT!!!) sure didn't come off copasetic next to this new sorta vibration that I began following. Let's just say that long before the decade we call the seventies came to an end I had about as much of a liking for Neil Young as I do for Robert Altman.

But then again I had a change in my opinion regarding Mr. Young sometime as the new millennium began a'dawnin', and believe-it-or-don't but I can actually stomach, nay, even LIKE what Mr. Young has to sing in that wire-y nasal voice as long as he has his crack garageoid backing band Crazy Horse along for the rockism ride. And even for a guy like myself who wasn't that hot on the Rockets (not the Andy Colquhoun band or even the Detroit ones with that former Amboy Duke/New Order guy singing but the schmucks on White Whale who eventually became Crazy Horse) I still find myself grabbing EVERYBODY KNOWS THIS IS NOWHERE outta the pile for an occasional play on one of those introverted evenings I often come across. And you really wanna know why??? Wayne McGuire is why, and when I go looking for a hook I make sure it's a sturdy one!

Nice package on this LIVE AT THE FILLMORE EAST MARCH 6 & 7, 1970 (they don't make titles like they used to!) disc too...it comes in a gatefold mini-LP cover that looks like something you woulda seen full-blown in some 1971 album bin, which is where this particular Reprise label album shoulda ended up 'stead of 36 whopping years down the line. And (obviously) it's a live at the Fillmore disc too, done back when everyone from the Allman Brothers, Frank Zappa and Miles Davis (who performed on the same bill!) to even Buffalo Slob and Howdy Doody were recording albums there making it a nice time piece. 'n not only that but the sound is excellent (even better'n most of the live albums of the day), and somehow when I see and hear this one I feel myself flashing back to adolescence and those distant times when I would wander through the shopping mall twixt record bins before hitting the paperback racks to see if any new MAD books have come out, listening to stuff like this during the in-store play which is where I got a LOT of my rock education in those deprived days.

Neat nostalgic trips like the above are good as rock & roll resensifiers once-in-awhile, and as far as the music goes this edition of Young and Crazy Horse is sure to satisfy those few who seem to have fine memories of the bunch in some sainted garage band/alternagrunge idiom. But for me, it coulda had some more oomph! thrown in. Or maybe some umph! as well. It is a tad pedestrian even though the guitar interludes sound rather refreshing and go on for a good live album length of time not coming off dull in that look-at-me-making-this-professional-statement kinda way. Despite its lack of total spark I must admit that the country-rock numbers are pleasant enough, though I have a special liking for the long tracks ("Down By the River" and "Cowgirl in the Sand") especially for the slow-burn raves which almost equal some of the better moments the Velvet Underground (see, I just hadda sneak their name into this review!) were known to pull off at exactly the same time.

Can't say that I've totally washed the prejudice of past bad karma regarding Young away (either due to the aforementioned classmate who's now a specialist or maybe this gal from the same stratum in life who used to get reduced to a lump of cooking lard over the Crosby Stills and whatever crowd while idolizing the aviator shades that Gloria Steinem wore...she now being a beautician), but I have the feeling LIVE AT THE FILLMORE EAST will adhere itself to some sorta rockist psyche in my brain after a few spins. I can like good stuff even if it is "bad" or bad ideas done in a good way, if it strikes that unique chord in my mind at the right time which is probably why I haven't tossed some singer/songwriter mewlings and punk rock puerilities in my collection out the window by now. At this time, who knows how LIVE AT THE FILLMORE will fit into this equation but when I do find out, I probably will enjoy it a lot more. (Either that or I'll find a great writeup of Young/Crazy Horse written by Nick Kent or some other admired rockscribe of mind and DELETE this entire review in a fit of embarrassment!) And hey, with a little working you know that Crazy Horse could have been Hackamore Brick, and maybe Young coulda been Tommy Moonlight with the right sorta mental focus...too bad Young hadda bow to the altar of ROLLING STONE rather than CREEM, but I guess there were all sorts of bad drugs flying around then.

Finally, let me take this opportunity to wish all of you devout BLOG TO COMM readers a happy JFK Assassination Day. Naturally this November 22 is bound to bring back hefty memories for many of you readers which is why I am asking (and you can answer in the comment section if you dare so)...where were you when you heard your first JFK conspiracy theory???

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Is your main beef with Altman regarding the fact that his influence helped destroy the "classical Hollywood" style which Griffith invented and which dominated American cinema until the mid '60s?

Christopher said...

That as well as the fact that he was way overrated and just plain boring. I'm told McCABE AND MRS. MILLER is worth the time to view, though his other efforts frankly leave me colder than Dave Lang's testicles.

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