Sunday, December 03, 2006

BLOG TO COMM HOUSECLEANING POST NUMBER TWO!

What does a guy do when he has no new musical jamz to enjoy once the weekdays crawl and retch into the weekend? What else but to go back into the ol' collection and dig out a few long-ignored worthies (or not-so's!) that he hasn't played in what might seem like umpteen ages! So, while waiting for my Slippytown order which I placed over a month ago to arrive at these portals I think I'll just write up a post dealing w/a slab of long-forgotten Cee-Dees that have been rotting away here on the plantation, and to make things even more daring I won't even dig back into my old collection of
BLACK TO COMMs to see what I originally wrote about 'em so I may even CONTRADICT myself for all I know! So in the grand name of public embarrassment...

BEFORE I BEGIN, I thought I should let you know that for some strange reason unbeknowest to me the "tool bar" that adorns the top of each and every post "window" which allows me to (amongst other things) link up pertinent pages and download pictures as well as adjust the type to italics, bold or both for that matter is missing. Gone, finito, zip! I wish I knew why this was so since, although I will have the ability to change type and link up various sites with relative ease, it will be near impossible to download all of those snappy pix that would make this particular post look all the nicer and daintier amongst the eyesores to be found on the world wide web! Anyway, if some of you geniuses out there know what is wrong and can aid me in rectifying the situation, just do what you normally would and sit on your asses while I struggle with this myself!

And now for the second round of housecleaning...

Alan Vega-JUKEBOX BABE/COLLISION DRIVE CD (Infinite Zero)

These primo and secundo solo Vega discs keep as much in touch with the original spirit of what was known as "New York ROck" (esp. amongst hip writers and fans during the mid-seventies days of exploration) as the Zantees, Fleshtones, Comateens and Von Lmo did, exploring rockabilly roots with a decidedly late-seventies deca-drive that was being done at a time when none other than that perpetual ho' Madonna was transforming a good steamin' hunk of what was then known as new wave turning it into gnu wave thanks to the bright minds who were running Danceteria. Anyway, while that Ciccone one was wiping her butt all over stages while dressed in wedding gowns and raking in money for it, there was a boss punk hoedown going down at more rockism-attuned venues with Vega and his new solo act in which he was aided and abetted by the mysterious Texan Phil Hawk on LP #1 (Hawk scrambootching due to a credit gaffe on the back cover) and the unlikely batch of Mark Kutch (ex-Max's Kansas City doorman and/or bouncer) and Larry Chaplin and Sesu Coleman on bass guitar and drums respectively on the other. You may remember the two as the prime movers behind the long-running Magic Tramps, and perhaps you could consider this bunch the latest (1981) incarnation of the Tramps even if Chaplin doesn't play his violin in the slightest!

Music-wize both of these albums certainly helped start that budding rockabilly revival that was just gaining hold thanks to the tireless efforts of bands like the Zantees, Buzz and the Flyers, Levi and the Rockats and other New York notables, not forgetting the Blasters and the push they were getting thanks to the likes of Warner Brothers of all people. Of course the Vega variant was filtered through the Suicide repeato-riff sound making the whole of it come off like Link Wray and the Raymen meet the Velvet Underground in Greg Shaw's basement (to make me come off ROCK CRITIC about it!), and if that doesn't make you wanna salivate I can't think of anything else on God's Great Earth that would. Disque closer "Viet Vet" ("Frankie Teardrop" filtered through more "Sister Ray") is a suitably ample sendoff to not only a fine period in Vega's career (after this....eh!), but a fine era in music as well (after this....rap!).

Loose Gravel featuring Mike Wilhelm-THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES CD (Bucketfull of Brains, England)

Here's another one I don't think I've spun since receiving the thing back in the dismal days of 1992. You may remember Wilhelm from his tenure not only in the original San Francisco underground band the Charlatans but the late-seventies edition of the Flamin' Groovies as well, but between the two he was leader of this biker/leather/blues rock bunch that also featured a pre-Groovies Chris Wilson in the ranks. Their first album has always eluded me either due to its unavailability or the humongous price tag most mailorder outfits slapped on it, but luckily I did latch onto this disque (featuring a later, stripped down Loose Gravel) back when the BUCKETFULL OF BRAINS fanzine decided to release it in extremely limited format. And it's so good that I sorta wish I hadn't ditched out on buying any BRAINS since the late-eighties because I thought they were going for the more giddy end of underground rock even before I snatched this sucker up!

Mostly mid-seventies Gravel here, with three studio tracks (including a rather rollicking and commercial autobiographical numbuh called "Frisco Band") and a load of live stuff rec'd around the time European pub rock fans were taking notice of this still-functioning crew to the point where Dynamite records in Holland (I believe a division of Skydog) actually had the smarts to issue one of their "just try 'n find it!" singles. Some of this is uninteresting countrified blues rock, some of it old familiar standbys (including a cover of Zappa's "I'm Not Satisfied") and for the most part it made a good soundtrack for Saturday evening's zoned out book reading time. Still, little of it sticks with me (but then again I've always had this sorta reaction to the harder blues choose) which is why I hadda switch over to some hard aural resensification afterwards. I dunno, this stuff was more in the realm of nonrepentant European collectors and Bill Shute anyways.

The Blue Humans-TO HIGHER TIME CD (Audible Hiss)

And this is the resensifier! It's also one that seems to pop up often enough on ebay and for a cheap "BUY IT NOW!" price to boot...of course it can't beat the price I paid for my copy (nada!), but at whatever amount you choose to fork over for it you can't lose since this is a recording of the Blue Humans at their unaddled prime. Arthur Doyle leads the group (really!) with a pretty atonal vengeance while guitarist Rudolph Grey and drummer Beaver Harris keep up as much as they can, and they certainly do even though trying to follow Doyle may at time seem like a Herculean task. Sounding very little like what else was going on at the underground hangouts at the time, the Blue Humans mix the avant jazz with the avant rock and come up with a new style that I thought would have overtaken the eighties, but as with the case of Alan Vega the good stuff sorta got wooshed aside while the bland and obvious took over to the point of nausea. Funny, but the free jazz-rock of the Blue Humans pretty was pretty much the sound that overtook the freestyle jazz series at the CBGB Lounge and at Jimmy's a good two-plus decades afterwards which must prove to you just how much people like Arthur Doyle, Rudolph Grey and Beaver Harris were ahead of their time, right??? Or better yet, how far behind everyone but us few were, savvy?

Stackwaddy-STACKWADDY/BUGGER OFF! CD (See For Miles, England); BUGGER OFF CD (Repertoire, Germany)

Here's an obscure English rock group that I really wanted to hear way back in the days when Greg Shaw described these guys (via some 1976 ish of WHO PUT THE BOMP) as some strange proto-punk/heavy metal permutation, and naturally I jumped at the chance to snatch up a very limited (and very expensive!) reissue of both albums when they briefly appeared on the record set sale lists back in 1986. And I certainly did like it a lot at the time, enough that a review of mine in PFUD #4 prompted Bill Shute to request a tape of these low-budged bluesmongers for his own listening pleasure! I must admit that the man was decidedly nonplussed after hearing 'em which I guess would figure because, after the Downliners Sect how could Stackwaddy sound interesting to him in the first place? Still I was surprised at his lethargy regarding Stackwaddy since Shute was the big raw blues/punk fan out there who was about as far into this stuff as Allen Ginsberg was into Peter Orlovsky, and given how I considered Stackwaddy to have been the first Stiff Records band even before Stiff was formed I woulda thunk Bill woulda been head over heels crazy about the guys!

Two decades later I find myself agreeing more with the Man called Shute than I do with my own 1986 self. The primitiveness of the blues rock is still amazing, and the way Stackwaddy take songs like Jethro Tull's "Love Story" and make it their own is something also to be marveled at (and how many people were covering the Kinks' "You Really Got Me" in the early seventies anyway?) but for some reason both albums don't hold up exactly 100%. Maybe 60% which is still good enough though I sure recalled both platters as offerings of unspeakable white British blues dunceitude way back in the day. It's funny what time'll do to a guy...kinda feel like locking myself in a room with nothing but mid-sixties UK sides in order to do a little transfusion y'know...

Oh, and in case you were wonderin' why TWO Stackwaddy CDs were dug outta the collection for my "listening party," it seems that the first one, although containing what's s'posed to be both of their albums for John Peel's Dandelion label plus a bonus track (a cover of "Mama Keep Your Big Mouth Shut") actually OMITS the goof-take on "The Girl From Ipanema" which appears on BUGGER OFF proper, so for full Stackwaddy impact I have to listen to BOTH for the complete scoop of non-commercial blues primacy, dig?

Sonny Sharrock-ASK THE AGES CD (Axiom)

I've always wondered how this classic session (with Pharoah Sanders, Charnett Moffett and Elvin Jones) from '91 slipped under my radar when it came out, but it sure was a nice surprise when I finally got my paws on it a few years later and it remains a winner even this far down the line of jazz evolution when I'm surprised we're even still allowed to feel (in a pure, non-groupthink fashion). Sanders sounds a whole load better'n on those terrible late-eighties/nineties jazz sessions he was leading, while Moffett plays as srikingly atonal as the likes of such forebearers as Jimmy Garrison and Malachi Favors. As for Jones, I sorta wish he had stuck with the avant guys like he does here rather'n the tame and commercial sounds he got to be known for, but at least he did make amends on this one before dying. And of course Sharrock, while not in his MONKEY POCKIE BOO groove shattering shards of serrated sound around the speakers, is playing with a serious and deep, soulful intensity I haven't heard from just about anyone in jazz guitar for quite some time. Harkening back to past achievement (such as on "Many Mansions" which was originally called "John's Children" when Sharrock did it with Byard Lancaster in the late-sixties!), I've gotta say that I haven't heard Sharrock play this heartfelt ever...listening to the funeral drone "Once Upon a Time" almost makes me wanna wail, he's that deep! It's also co-produced by Sharrock with his mentor Bill Laswell who I guess was put on this earth for a good reason after all! A def. pick up for anyone claiming to be part and parcel to that late-seventies/early eighties upheaval thing, and even if you're just a pipsqueak upstarter this is a much better place (than even Last Exist or his late-eighties offerings) to begin as well.

Hope to see you midweek sometime. And while I'm at it, hope to see the tool bar back up and running as well!

9 comments:

marinamode said...

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Marina (from France)

Christopher said...

Marinamode, if you like France so much, why do you want to leave it?

Anonymous said...

"How many people were covering "You Really Got Me" in the early '70s"?

I was going to say Mott the Hoople, but their first album (which contained their great instrumental version of "You Really Got Me") came out in '69, so I guess Stack Waddy would've been technically the only band. However, most American Mott fans didn't hear the Mott version until the "Rock "N' Roll Queen" Atlantic best-of came out in '73 to capitalize on the success of "All The Young Dudes".

Interesting that Stack Waddy covered "Love Story", as that song was also covered by Tear Gas in '70 and the Sensational Alex Harvey Band in '75. - Michael Snider

Christopher said...

Well, the Hammersmith Gorillas recorded and released it in '74, so perhaps Jesse Hector and crew were doing it as Crushed Butler even earlier in the decade.

Anonymous said...

Chris, I copied a bunch of info on the Dynamite label and pasted it here.

Best,

Jeroen

Christopher said...

Thank you...this piece is a humongous help!

Anonymous said...

I didn't know that the Hammersmith Gorillas' version came out in '74. I do have it but wasn't sure when it came out. - Michael Snider

Christopher said...

The Gorilla's take on "You Really Got Me" originally came out on Penny Farthing in '74 and was reissued on Raw in '77, a Larry Page production.

John said...

Hi,your blog is very nice.I didn't know that the Hammersmith Gorillas' version came out in '74. I do have it but wasn't sure when it came out. - Michael Snider
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johntaylor

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