'TIS THE SEASON TO REVIEW A BATCH OF OLD AND NEW WARES BOTH MUSICAL AND NOT
You've probably noticed that I didn't write my usual one or two mid-week postings. The reason for this is that I didn't feel like writing any. Am I being succinct enough for you???
Cheetah Chrome-ALIVE IN DETROIT CD (D.U.I., PO Box 46073, Mt. Clemens, MI 48048)
Yeah, ol' Cheetah Chrome, like the AIDS "crisis" he was once rumored to be a part of, just keeps rolling on and on. Heck, I thought he'd be the first Dead Boy to deep six especially after hearing all of those stories about people seeing him smoking crack onna street with a few stumps left for teeth, but who can doubt that the man has PERSEVERED! True he looks about seventy now and with that shaved head he more or less resembles the guy standin' next to you in the men's room at a PENNSYLVANIA rest stop at three inna morning...and who knows, that frightening mass of flesh just might BE Mister Chrome so maybe you should ask to shake the man's hand, after he's washed up naturally!
And although I gotta admit that I love the dickens outta the famed bald/toothless one it's not like I'm exactly rushing out to buy his wares. Now, I sorta wish I got hold of those old Max's Kansas City tapes of his back when they were flyin' around, but then again I just got hold of this wonder, a live '99 set from Chrome and band where Our Hero croaks out a bevy of favorites and soon-to-be near-and-dears to your throbber and believe-it-or-leave-it but this one is a wowzer! Let me just ay that each and every track here is guaranteed to soothe the inner punk in all of us which is about as "Peace on Earth" as I can get this Holiday Season! Sounding a lot groggier than on those now-infamous Rocket From the Tombs live tracks, Chrome can be heard not only rehashing the Dead Boys catalog and rummaging through some recent material that might woosh by you but not by me, but the man of shine also had the cranial capacity to tackle the Rocket "standard" "So Cold" (the main reason I bought this slab) and it's a true winner! Almost as good as the original though done in 1999 sloppy punk rock style rather'n 1975 amphetamine-intense mode. A momentous feat especially for a man whose liver probably looks like it could be sold at the deli (and maybe taste like it too!).
Wire-LIVE AT THE ROXY LONDON-APRIL 1ST 7 2ND 1977/LIVE AT CBGB THEATRE, NEW YORK-JULY 18TH, 1978 2-CD SET (available through Pink Flag)
Yeah I know, I'm not the hotshot punk rock expert that everyone expects me to be so why am I reviewing this recent double-CD live set by the infamous "post-punk" (what a retching term!) band Wire? Well smartypants, I'm writing this thing up because I bought it, and although I'm a comparative neophyte when it comes to Wire (as opposed to all those richkid bloggers who had all these discs practically given to 'em) at least I can appreciate a good punk rock platter when it hits me on my bean. At least I can AFTER I wash all that hype and alternative drivel outta my system (much of it spewed and eaten up by the aforementioned bloggers, or at least their late-seventies fore bearers) so I can approach the subject at hand w/o any preconceived notions, that is.
As anyone whose followed the hipster rock partyline rant these past twennysome years knows, Wire are a group who, like the Velvet Underground, Stooges, Can, Faust, Roxy Music and a few million others, spawned a lotta imitations that never could cut the rug because all their fans are nimnuls. All kidding aside (let's just say that their more dunceillary fandom can be found gathered in various San Franciscan enclaves and certain Australian dingo dump-piles), these recordings feature some classic moments from the original seventies take on the band including Wire in their early punkoid mode playing live at the Roxy in London where they can be heard setting the stage for the same sorta smart punk stylings that helped create a lotta eighties monsters (Ramones meet Eno in the Velvet Underground's rehearsal space---howzat for smart Big City rock critic-styled comparisons!) while the second, live at the short-lived CBGB (formerly Anderson) Theater over a year later has the band in their more-cerebral spasm-orbit where they seemed to be living up to the Harvest-label image a li'l more'n on their more garageoid debut. Playing for a sparse, almost non-existent audience Wire kinda sound like Syd Barrett during his own solo Harvest days under the influence of Kevin Ayers outtakes and a hefty dose of John Peel's pirate-era playlist slammed into the Eno songbook (another rockcrit winner!). One of the quietest live broadcasts I've ever heard. A true masterpiece!!!
Like I've said, the Wire name wasn't one to make me do hoppity hoopers all over the place like it does a good portion of you BLOG TO COMM readers who stopped in here on the way to one of those "relevant" alternaindie blogs by mistake. The utter hype pounded into me by critics and fans alike make me shudder to the point where the only Wire in my collection for years was the two-disc Rough Trade DOCUMENT AND EYEWITNESS one which sorta moiled in my collection for a good many years sans any serious turntable play. But anyway, I'm glad I waited all this time (twenny-nine years???) to "get into" the guys...I think the gloryosky mooshy ramblings of their fans has pretty much been washed out of my system by now!
The Lemon Juice Quartet-PEASANT SONGS CD (Piadrum)
Still missing those Sunday and Wednesday evening free jazz jaunts at the CBGB Lounge, lonesome me has been driven to seeking out various recordings from a wide array of acts who have played the venerable club under the tutelage of Dee Pop's miraculous booking (and it was miraculous...after all, who else but Pop could have gotten such elusive players as Eddie Gale and Burton Greene outta retirement???). Yet, even with the lack of new and interesting free jazz players to discover out there in the great big world of music I must confess to you that I'm still a bit gun shy with regards to picking up Cee-Dees by some of the acts to have graced the CB's stage given they seem to have more roots in "jazz proper" than the big bleat (and I'm not that anxious to gamble $10 on such obscurities as Sebastian Noelle and Dave Allen...Pop, correct me if I'm wrong, or at least send me a roadmap), but I did at least have the wherewithal to snatch up this disque by the Lemon Juice Quartet, a bunch who have played the Pop-curated series a number of times so they must be good, right?
Well, I gotta say that these Lemon Juice guys are "good" but not exactly the kinda guys who I wish I had plunked down money for, at least money I could have used towards a huge hunkerin' Volcanic Tongue order. Originally from Israel, the Lemon Juice Quartet on this disque play the music of Erik Satie and Bela Bartok and sorta jazz it up (didja know that Satie wrote a song called "Dried Embryos" which appears here?!?!), and as you'd probably expect the results are very European-sounding. Unfortunately that also means Euro-stodgy enough that a good portion of this coulda been played at a sidewalk cafe in Gay Paree while Shemp Howard was catching the Paris-sights...none of that all-out scrank can be discerned, so don't expect this one to jolt you outta your everyday humdrums the way John Coltrane's ASCENSION (first take) is racketing me right now!
Thoth Trio-APROPOS OF NOTHING CD (DHP)
I'll betcha didn't know they had free jazz in Washington PA! Well, they do and the Thoth Trio is the ones that dood it! I got this one as a Christmas gift from Brad Kohler (author of the mysterioso post from a few weeks back!) who stormed into his local Pittsburgh record shop and demanded to the owner that he deliver the wildest, most raucous avant garde jazz Cee-Dee that he had in stock. And this was it. I guess they're having a dry run as far as avant disques go in Southeastern Pennsylvania because the second most all out, atonal avant Cee-Dee in stock was JAN GARBER PLAYS THE MUSIC OF GRANDMA MOSES.
Not really BAD mind ya, but this trio covers a lotta the same free territory with hefty steps into bop that you've heard before and liked, only because it had a nice throb reminiscent of the real stuff. Still nothing here can do the fantastic JOLT to your system the way all of that beautifully feral music does. In fact, this sorta pseudo-free sound is now so ingrained into the whole jazz mindset that you probably can come across dozens of Thoth Trios all across the globe. Just take a trek to your local boho dive (every town has one...it's where the old gym used to be) and you can see YOUR VERY OWN local variant play the same halfway-there energy (crisis) music with little bits of inspiration stuck here and there, but please don't poke fun at either the saxophonist's braided cue or the waitresses' tattoos. They really can pack a wallop!
Various Artists-THE IN KRAUT VOL. 2 CD (Marina, Germany)
Haw them Germans! I just don't know how to take 'em. On one hand they seem so stuck in their Kraut ways, driving small, funny looking cars and walking around wearing hats with these little shaving brushes in 'em, yet on the other they seem like they want to be Amerigans to the extent where they probably could even out-redneck the locals! (I'm not talking about those hippie krauts who still vy for the Golden Age of Soviet domination on the continent...y'know, the ones who place broken English comments on various blogs including maybe this one!) Maybe the Yankee Doodle has been excised outta the German system for good, but at least at one time there was a strange Amerigan side to the Germans, one that saw 'em guzzling up US of Whoa culture and driving around in Opel Diplomats (basically early/mid-sixties Chevy sleekness slightly reshaped for Teutonic tastes---they hadda keep those at home while exporting Kadetts!) and listening to this classy stereophonic slop. Maybe it was the conquered looking up to the conquerers (sorta like in Japan), but whadevvah, THE IN-KRAUT sure captures this strange period in German musical kitsch. Believe me, if Dennis the Menace's father was a kraut, he woulda been wearing the grooves outta his copy of this disc in between slapping his Aryan progeny silly!!
THE IN-KRAUT is just that...hot jazzy stylings for sleek Master Race listening pleasure that woulda suited your standard Heinrich fine while cruising the Autobahn. Even with all that I must admit that I discern a feel to it that sounds like it came straight outta early-sixties Yankee hi-fi frolicking coupled with a general demeanor that's even more German than the Pope! Lotsa Bert Kaemphert-styled schmoozy musings here. My late uncle, a big Bert fan along w/the likes of Earl "Fatha" Hines, Neil Diamond and Dean Martin...you figure it out, woulda dug it. And so do I to a small extent, but the real reason I snatched this one up was for the early Inner Space-era Can track with noted local slut makes good Rosy Rosy warbling some interesting movie music mush that would have been more in-place on some Can bootleg rather than with this Jet Set-minded compilation. Speaking of Jet Set, Hazy Osterwald's very own "Jet Set" do an ode to "Swinging London" here which just reeks of Carnaby Street Tourist Trap glitzerama making me wonder if these guys were merely marvelling at the sights, or coveting what coulda been theirs???
La Dusseldorf-LA DUSSELDORF, VIVA CDs (Captain Trip Japan)
Two oldies I've been playing to heck these past few weeks. The first La Dusseldorf platter features Klaus Dinger and band straight from their Neu! swansong doing a pretty nice, almost treacly yet punk-rockish brand of krautrock recorded December '75 (important punk rock month) that, even with the positive sound and general European goodtimeyness still has a nice dark Velvet Underground feel especially on the CD closer "Time." Actually with this kinda of electro-Velvets sound La Dusseldorf coulda fit in snugly during the early-eighties Max's Kansas City days, and that's not only because they remind me of the early Comateens for some odd reason! VIVA was their '78 followup which I believe actually rated an English release on Radar (then home to Elvis Costello, Nick Lowe and the Red Crayola!) and sounds it, with a more conscious understanding of what else was going on in the music world at the time. Kinda restrained anthemic, with the twenty-plus-minute "Cha Cha 2000" being an anthem...of exactly what I cannot say but I like the way it sorta says what I wish "Autobahn" would've if Ralf and Florian had only sounded as much as all of those American punk bands they said they liked. I can't seem to find the third CD right now but am looking forward to giving it another spin even if Dinger et. al. had gone off the deep end into German candyfloss by then. Ach!
READING MATERIAL TIME! Just wanna mention a few of the things that I've been eyeballing while my eardrums have been doing the vibratin' to all this wonderful soundscapading these past few days. Naturally I've been getting hold of a lotta fanzines, and although the Golden Age rock 'zinedom wares seem to be eluding me as of late at least I've recently latched on to some mags dealing with other arenas of fandom to occupy my time 'n space. Amongst these once-rarer than braincells in Dave Lang's head items is the final issue of ODD, the fanzine that pretty much led the pack as far as MAD-spoof satire rags went. Anyway, this last (#12) issue was totally offset (and probably incredibly expensive to produce given its humongous 35-cent cover price!) and the definite best of the entire run with a spoof of the BATMAN television series that actually was entertaining enough even if it wasn't guffaw-inducing, a LOST IN SPACE satire that was good enough that it even got reprinted in one of comic fanzine compiler Bill Schelly's collections, a so-so Dracula spoof and other things done with the aid of future underground heavy Jay Kinney (inc. this admittedly smart bit about superheroes with tan lines!). Too bad this ODD was the last...the mag looks great professionally printed and it seems as if the Herring Brothers were beginning to find their proper groove in the fanzine world. ODD could have developed into something special within a few years, perhaps just another underground pub but a thing to be reckoned with nonetheless.
Also managed to get the entire run of SNIFFIN' GLUE sent my way...repros of course but its nice to have this printed information in my fermenting paws even if it ain't in the original structure! Now, I do have one of the original issues somewhere in the abode and although I thought it was a "nice" period piece I'm sure that nobody but the dullest neophyte could deny that something was lacking in the mass of paper and corner staple next to a lotta the competition of the day. Maybe it was hardcore information, or perhaps too much local punk and not enough of an "international" outlook...who knows. Turns out a lotta the later issues are like this, with only the earliest ones coming close to an Amerigan sorta punk fanzine style with articles on such future punque no-nos as the Flamin' Groovies, Blue Oyster Cult and the Mothers of Invention intermingling with the kosher goods. Still a nice look into the British goings on at the time even though I (chauvinistic swine I may be) tend to prefer those post-Velvets loco garage aggregates who sure took up a lotta my time (and money) back during those maybe not-so halcyon days.
AND A MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL...sure the Big Day is almost upon us, and although the Holiday Season just ain't what it used to be to the point where I just may be bored enough to do a posting ON Christmas Day I'll take this time out anyway to wish you and yours a very Merry Yuletide Season. (I'll wish you a Happy New Year later on when I do my Year End Roundup which has become sort of a cozy fireside tradition here at BLOG TO COMM).
At this time I'd like to do a little Holiday Thank You-ing, at least to all the people who have made 2006 a pretty wowzer year in all. First off, a hearty Merry X-mas to one Lou Rone, who has grown to be a bigger pal over the past year than he had been before. Thanks a lot, and let's hope for a big recording year once '07 rolls on! Good tidings must also go to Bill Shute, who has made the biggest comeback of the year since Nixon with his newfound career as a poet. Really glad to see you come back to life you ol' Lazarus you, and remember to keep in touch! Also kudos to the Canadian contingent...Edgar Breau of the REVIVED Simply Saucer, Bruce Mowat (cub reporter---he covers wildlife now especially baby bears!), Paul McGarry and Imants Krumins...got the Velvet Underground CD, and a big thanks for that be to thee! Also wanna thank Tim Ellison for making it a great year on the World Wide Web, but couldja do more record/CD reviews on your blog, and the same goes for you Lindsay Hutton! Also wanna say Merry Mistletoe to J.D. King, Jeff Roth and all those other fans and readers out there, plus howdy do to Eddie Flowers for all those great Cee-Dees and rekkids he sends. Ditto to Billy and Miriam at Norton, and I'm still holding it all in until the new issue of KICKS comes out! And if I forgot to wish you a happy one, it's probably because it's really late at night now or maybe you're a lousy ATHIEST who doesn't deserve one anyway. Or maybe you live in San Francisco or a certain enclave in Australia at which point I don't even care if you exist. (Just kidding...I DO care if you exist!!! For now, that is...heheheheheh....)
So, to the soft and sultry strains of John Coltrane's OHM I bid you a fond adieu, and perhaps we will meet again within a few days with a special post-Christmas/pre-New Years throwtogether, savvy?
Saturday, December 23, 2006
'TIS THE SEASON TO REVIEW A BATCH OF OLD AND NEW WARES BOTH MUSICAL AND NOT