Wednesday, November 29, 2006

POST NASAL DRIP

Fortunately a few items of value at least worth mentioning here have made it to my doorstep, and since I live such a shallow and meaningless existence (at least judging from some of the things various naysayers have said about me, and who am I to say otherwise especially in these non-judgemental times?) I thought I'd mention just what goodies I've gotten my grubby mitts on since we last spake in order to boost my own ego a bit. I mean, a self-imposed hermit with no "life" (as in "get a...", pop. 90s hipspeak used by such mental worthies as the late Jack Thompson of SWELLSVILLE fame) like yours truly must use every opportunity to prove to the high and mighty blogschpielers out there that I TOO can strut with all of the self-indulgent decadent smarm so in (underground) vogue these days!

So, sans any further ado, here's a little struttin'!

THE BONNIWELL MUSIC MACHINE TURN ON EUROPE, LIVE ITALY/MUNICH/LONDON 11/04 CD (Uncle Helmet, PO Box 409, Porterville CA 93258 for $12 each inc. s&h in USA, overseas add eight additional smackers for postage and handling. If you wanna use Paypal, send payment via the following email address...Seanbmm@yahoo.com.)

I had no idea what to expect from this reunion Cee-Dee featuring none other'n noted Music Machine singer Sean Bonniwell leading a whole buncha new members (including one Tim Ellison, a rockscribe of some notoriety) on a European tour from two years back...I mean, who knows what lurks in the minds of men trying to capitalize on their youthful fame and fortune this far down the line, especially those like Bonniwell who have been pretty much outta the limelight and supported by a small yet rabid cartel of over-rambunctious fans and fanzines during the classic era of the "garage band revival" in the early-eighties. Well, if you're worried about Bonniwell going the oldies route and playing crankout hits and misses for flabbed-out aging teenyboppers like one might see at a few other oldies concerts, quitcher frettin' because this take on the Music Machine ain't more sixties fodder for the quick baby-boomer bux at all, and in fact it could only qualify as "nostalgia" if you're the kinda doof who's nostalgic about teenage highschool freakout psychosis!

And since I'm exactly the kinda doof who still has some not-so-friendly flashbacks regarding my own teenage mental breakdowns and general scrambled sense of reality (who only wishes that he had the Music Machine to guide him through such traumatic times even though he did have the Velvets but I guess that wasn't strong enough), let's just say that this Music Machine is just as "relevant" to the situation at hand as it was four decades back, and having the the likes of Bonniwell and company in the present is just as fine as back when they were being pumped into every teenage tee-vee set via WHERE THE ACTION IS back when youthful self-pity/loathing was a healthy and normal lifestyle.

And what's undeniable is that the Music Machine sure influenced a whole passel of acts ever since "Talk Talk" became the teen anthem of '66 (OK, #2 after "Hey Joe")...their "Sado Faena" (hope I got that right) image as Don Waller called it was certainly nodded at by everyone from Blue Oyster Cult to the Stooges, and considering Bonniwell's present-day growl I wouldn't be surprised if Von Lmo himself swiped a few ideas from the guy as well! And to top the icing on the cake, these new Music Machiners, especially talking Jana Caldwell's particularly acidic organ, add a specific dimension of fear to the recordings, which are particularly energetic live shows played for a sparse-yet-appreciative audience who were probably conceived when Bonniwell was hanging up his guitar strap and glove for what he probably thought was the last time ever!

Anyway, this one has "thee" hit "Talk Talk" plus select numbers from both TURN ON and BONNIWELL MUSIC MACHINE and perhaps even BEYOND THE GARAGE (which I never did get and should have received gratis, an insult considering my, er, esteemed standing in this rock scribe/blogger community!), and thankfully no cringefest will be in store for you if you in fact decide to pick this one up for your very own (which you should given you have the smarts to tune into this very blog!). And I have the sneaking suspicion you too will be snuggling up to this live rave a lot more'n you do a few of the garage revival offerings heard o'er the past few decades which I find rotting away at least in my collection, for somehow Bonniwell has managed to make 2006 just as energetic as 1966 was, and for that he should get some sorta special no prize!

THE VELVET UNDERGROUND UNDER REVIEW DVD (Sexy Intellectual, available through Forced Exposure)

I know the world needs another Velvet Underground documentary the same way Dave Lang needs another asshole drilled into him. After all, what more can one say about a group that was "discovered" by Andy Warhol and made some noisy-yet-influential albums before breaking up and influencing a whole generation of rather twee-ish rock bands? Sure you (if you're a teenager just discovering the magickal attack of the band...that is, if there are such kiddos existing out there!) might be interested somewhat, but for old fogies like myself in on the trip for three-plus decades yet another appearance of Robert Christgau in a rock-themed doc. such as this is bound to give one a bad case of rock nausea. I mean, if """""I""""" (rock fan with appreciation stuck in seventies dankness which is where all good music seems to be relegated) were to do a documentary about the Velvet Underground and all they doth wrought I'd certainly concentrate on their more grimy musical being radiating through all those twelve-year-olds who used to tell Lou backstage that they shot up to "Heroin" and formed bands in their image plus spend more than an inordinate amount of time discussing the legend of Wayne McGuire as the only guy who really got it right while the band was still alive. But I guess these documentary guys are more or less going for the easy common denominator which is why they make films and I'm writing on a blog but what else is new. Sometimes I think the situation should be reversed, but for that to happen something drastic must occur akin to the earth spinning off its axis because in NO WAY could I see anything as potentially life-affirming and cleansing as the Velvet Underground tackled with tact and precision, forever to be praised and lionized by total hacks and cling-ons who destroy their image with the faintest and blandest of praise imaginable.

UNDER REVIEW does harbor much of this moderne-day blanditude not only with the presence of turdmonger Christgau himself and (of course) the same Velvets clips we've seen over and over, but even with the presence of the "Dean" (as well as noted Velvets biographer Clinton Heylin, a man whom you know I've had my issues with) I can enjoy this one on a semi-conscious level. The filmmakers managed to get hold of Maureen Tucker (incredibly wrinkly especially for her age and perhaps in the grip of Bell's Palsy) and Doug Yule (still looking rather young) for insightful interviews, with Yule still feeling rather insecure about his role in the band from the looks of it. They also wrangled former Galaxie 500/Luna leader Dean Wareham into giving a little bitta personal info (which is fair enough since he knew Sterling Morrison), plus the owner of the Boston Tea Party during the reign of the Velvets talks about their influence on the Boston of the late-sixties. Naturally we're also inundated with Christgau spouting the same Velvet line he did on the SOUTH BANK special twenny years back, while Heylin reminds me of some bulbous English writer with longish hair whose name escapes me coming off perhaps too snide in that same snobbish English fashion that's made me wanna torture Christopher Hitchens with a vengeance. And for the most part no new ground is covered, the usual spin on the Velvet mystique (how they made the world safe for Blondie) is trotted out for the umpteenth time, and to top it all off there are a few obvious factual errors that I think were thrown in just to make even mildly rabid fans like myself feel superior to it all.

Still, UNDER REVIEW is entertaining enough in its own insipid way and heck I gotta admit that I learned one interesting shard of info (the pirate tattoo on the cover of WHITE LIGHT/WHITE HEAT was NOT that of Billy Linich's but of the hustler/lead player in Warhol's BIKE BOY), but only a pallid Velvet Underground "fan" with a modern-day appreciation of their efforts the likes of J. Neo Marvin will love it. For those in on the energy for quite a long time, it just may come off as a bore.

STREAM (SALMON AND BLOOD) by Stuart Crutchfield and Bill Shute (Kendra Steiner Editions, 8200 Pat Booker Rd. #399, San Antonio TX 78233)

After reading this six-page collaboration between Glasgow-based poet Stuart Crutchfield and San Antonian Bill Shute I hadda take a bath. Not that this book was especially grimy...well, it IS!, but I did have a long day and was feeling rather unclean myself but hey, perhaps this book did have a sorta dank demeanor to it that made me think about my own sanitary nature. The title refers to the dual nature of the streams of thought to be found here (or at least I got that idea eyeballing the Volcanic Tongue writeup, something helpful to an illiterate such as I), one of 'em dealing with Crutchfield presumably returning to his old job at the salmon canning company after a seven-month layoff and the other someone who I hope is not Bill selling plasma in order to make the ends meet. It sorta shifts back and forth (kinda reminded me of some decade-old DC "crisis" saga where various superheros of past and different dimensions would appear in what was reputedly the then and there) between disturbing images of Crutchfield skimming dead birds outta fish tanks with his bare hands, chopping fish heads off and de-gutting the bodies (believe me, I won't be eating fish for a LONG TIME) to the blood of Bill being shipped overseas for hemopheliac Japanese along with presumably some melon-ball-shaped placenta (and please, no Yoko Ono jokes!). Not exactly appetizing, but it's sure gosh-it-all to read something that seems to bark at the bare core of it all like STREAMS does and I'm glad Bill had the smarts to send me one.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

BLOG TO COMM HOUSECLEANING POST NUMBER ONE

Yeah, you must think I'm some sorta rich little bastard the way I'm writing about all these wonderful (and sometimes brand-spanking-new!) items the way I do on this blog, right? Well, the answer to that one is in actuality a huge "naw," for although I do like to flaunt my most recent fave-rave acquisitions under the nostrils of all you pee-ons out there frankly I don't have the capital or even the wherewithal to snatch up all of the great items that I would love to own and irritate you lowbrows with even more! In fact, a lotta the goodies here that I've been reviewing have been commented upon by me before, more or less likely in the pages of my own fanzine (NOT "'zine") which I'm sure some of you out there are well aware of. However, since I'm also postive that more that a good portion of whoever out there is reading this stuff have the brain-consistency of Maypo maybe I can get away with recycling old records as new fodder for the age of internet, which certainly comes in handy during a week like this where absolutely nada has arrived in the mail for me to write up and deliver to you readers whether fans, perusers or outright post-punk (yech!) toffee-noses!

Anyway, since there has been hardly anything of interest hitting the mailbox as of late here are a few of the items that have been occupying my precious "quiet time" (that is, quiet until I slap a disque into the ol' computer!) while I wait for a few crucial orders from Slippytown, Forced Exposure and perhaps Volcanic Tongue (dunno...they're still waiting for one of those rare Les Rallizes Denudes live sets to slip back into stock) to slither my way. You may consider this yet another variation on my mother's old "hide the toys and present them to the kid when he's crabbing for new playthings" moneysaving game she used to pull on me, or perhaps its one of those "gee, I didn't know I had this one in my collection" acts of extreme and brutal forgetfulness on my part...probably the latter, but anyway here are a few of the oldies but moldies I've been giving a spin in my abode as of the past week.

MX-80-OUT OF CONTROL CD (Quadruped)

Needless to say just how much MX-80 Sound helped rearrange my listening parameters back when such parameters were in need of being rearranged. At a time when heavy metal had sorta sunk from its grand early-seventies roots to a late-seventies miasma of fast chops, crystalline playing and general overboard cliche, MX-80 Sound were playing it in a grand manner sorta mixing the best of the early metal generation with various avant garde and fusion jazz moves making it totally palatable for a bright new batch of upstarts discovering all sorts of new sounds branching out into exciting new vistas, if you want me to be 1961 starry-eyed about it. MX-80 made heavy metal, and hard rock in general exciting again, and it did so at a time when it seemed as if the whole metal form was lurching towards some horrid mainstream appreciation level (and making concessions towards it at the worst time it should've) that put itself on the same plateau of commercialized caga as progressive rock, then (and this???)-contemporary black music and post-rock AM pop to the point of instant obsolescence. And let's face it. MX-80 either as a metal band or an underground act sure helped hone my tastes for various other metallic endeavors from Motorhead, Hawkwind and Von Lmo to a whole slew of up-and-coming eighties hard monster attack squads, and frankly I prefer to lump these guys in with the aforementioned bunch rather than the comparatively meek underground/alternative bands who have been claiming MX-80 as a major inspiration since the eighties yet still sound as college-art rock as the rest of the narcissic bunch.

This collection of MX-80's Ralph records-era releases was dredged outta the collection after I thought I'd give their historically-important instrumental disc DAS LOVE BOAT a breather, and considering how those two Ralph albums were such top spins during the all-important years of '80/'81 really should speak loads about where my musically-inclined head was during the days when even the enlightened ones were still intrigued by the whole B-52s/Devo axis of brave new wave that I shrugged off once these groups slapped their second albums on us making me realize that maybe the original intent wasn't that hot after all. Unfortunately the boss tracks ("Lady In Pain" and "Possessed") that appeared on the SUBTERRANEAN MODERN album were not reissued here as they should have, but we do get the single B-side "White Night" and sampler-only "Halloween"...plus MX-80 LPs #'s two and three OUT OF THE TUNNEL and CROWD CONTROL respectively. It seems as if by '80's OUT OF THE TUNNEL MX-80 had washed a lotta the humor of their debut on Island (HARD ATTACK) outta their system...oh, TUNNEL still has the capacity to make one sit up with the pithy lyrics and "staid" vocal delivery of Rich Stim, but the sonic drive is unrelenting to the point of almost being unbearable and the lyrics on the group's wide range of anthemic pounders ("Gary and Priscilla" and "Man in the Box" amongst 'em) reflect the band's move towards more, er, nerve-wracking as opposed to humorous material. And the display of wall-to-wall guitar courtesy of Bruce Anderson to the non-chalant vocals (and lyrics) of Rich Stim make for a ear-punctuating display of just what the heavy metal idiom was capable of especially in an age of AOR schlock that only a thimble-brained moron would want to appreciate over a quarter-century down the line. Listening to OUT OF THE TUNNEL makes me wonder if any of the other heavy metal bands, particularly in En Why See like (besides Von Lmo) Sorcerers and Junior Birdmen were playing it in this particular uproarious style. These (and I'm sure other) self-professed metallic mongers were appearing at CBGB and Max's Kansas City at the time, and I think that the influence of various other underground factions (no wave, garage and heck, even the new wave of the day) might have had an impact on 'em and positively as well. And considering MX-80 themselves hit Max's Kansas City (and other En Why See hangouts) during the days of underground rave who knows if they had any effect on the populace at large. I hope I'll be able to document this era of metallic soundputsching one of these days, and if anyone out there reading this would care to help me...

When Ralph album #2 CROWD CONTROL came out I remember it getting a few bum reviews in the respected rock press. I do recall THE NEW YORK ROCKER dumping on them via an '81 live review (though TAKE IT! were still in their corner with Byron Coley proclaiming that MX-80 proved that "intelligent heavy metal" was not an oxymoron, while a Boston gig was praised especially for an unreleased number called "Gangland" which had a melody that sounded like how a bug walks around after you hit it with a hammer), and to this day I remember the TROUSER PRESS album guide laying into MX-80 for sounding like Blue Oyster Cult as if somehow that was a totally uncouth no-no in an age of new wave sentiment. And for a guy who's tried shaking off the bad taste of alla that early-eighties AOR-rock/hip-deejay praise of the Cult (consoling myself with the fact that their early wares were often heaped into a Velvets/MC5 stew of early-seventies immortrality and by a buncha writers I RESPECT too!) all I gotta say is that some of this pro-underground naysaying against certain more-worthy dark ages of rock mammoths out there sounds weaker and weaker as the days roll by, especially when the sounds that a lotta the ROCKER and TROUSER PRESS types were hailing as new and innovative during the early-eighties ultimately led to the deep and introspective pose we now call "alternative music," a shallow reflection of what once was and at least you know that if Blue Oyster Cult never "made it big" like they did they woulda been stars at CBGB and Max's in 1981, dig?

There's more of an eclecticism abounding here, which is probably the reason why I didn't exactly flip en-toto over CROWD CONTROL upon first spin the way I did OUT OF THE TUNNEL. But way down the line...man is it exactly what those MX-80 haters called it...pure metallic monstrosity music a la early-Blue Oyster Cult with even some Stalk Forrest and perhaps a touch of Good Rats tossed in for added relief. "Face of the Earth" reflects more of a Tony Williams' Lifetime influence than could be heard before thanks to Dave Mahoney's drumming intertwining with Anderson's McLaughlin-styled play. (By the way, I never really could hear a Mahavishnu influence on MX-80's "Spoonfight" which appears on the '75 BLOOMINGTON ONE sampler making me ask whether or not I'm missing a point somewhere...). And even with all the "new wave" marketing and the fact that the band were playing all kinds of music for all kinds of people the heavy metal stylings can still be heard in full force from the chanted backing vocals to the soaring lead lines which I gotta say sound NOTHING like what metal had become at that sorry state in time. And stranger still, "Promise of Love" despite being one of the most beautiful of metal songs ever (reminiscent of the token slow burner per album that seemed to permeate the early metal genre) has one of the strangest vocals especially considering that they were written by Mrs. Stim (Angel Ross) with her husband singing them in the female tense! I guess there was some sorta hidden agenda with this one, but I dare not THINK what it may be!

Kinda fitting that right after this one (and subsequent tour) MX-80 went into their first self-imposed (?!) exile. The underground seventies were osmosing into the camp-wave eighties and I guess MX-80 wanted no part of that. Who can blame 'em? Anyway, the band's Ralph period remains their strongest and though the group has evolved, mutated and recorded to high heaven ever since, it's always great to come back to the heart of the matter which I think holds up a lot more than most of the acts vying for my money at the time ever could.

BORAH BERGMAN/LOL COXHILL CD-R

That's all it said, and this disque sent me by Dee Pop ages ago remained dormant in my collection for just as long a timespan NOT because I wanted to ignore the thing, but because these black Memorex CD-Rs NEVER wanna spin on any of my boxes! Fortunately a long car trip was in store this morning and whaddya know by the thing actually played whilst taking a long drive, so thankfully there's yet another "newie" for me to absorb and osmose in the hear and now rather'n a soggy leftover to call my own.

I've heard Bergman play with Dee Pop a number of times. Seems that this famed avant garde pianist had been appearing at the CBGB Lounge during the reign of the great freesyle series that I continue to blab about as if it were the hottest action in music history since Dylan decided to plug himself in. Unfortunately the guy has been rather quiet as of late, but I don't know if that's because of his health, personal everyday reasons and perhaps his legendary (amongst the few who know) temperament. As for Lol Coxhill, the British soprano saxist has been pretty much omnipresent on the UK jazz and rock scene ever since the raving sixties and earlier for all I know (look it up on wikipedia yourself!). A legend in his own somethingorother, Coxhill was a member of the great Kevin Ayers band The Whole World and, if you can believe Pete Frame's rock family trees, the Damned as well (!) plus his playing in proper jazz contexts hasn't been anything to sneeze at. (I remember when his WELFARE STATE album came out on Caroline back in '76 and I was so interested in hearing the spew yet none of the import services found it worthy enough to truck over here.) So with a combination like that I was expecting some interesting playage on this dark disque and I got it naturally blab blab rambleonyouknowtherestofthestory...

Anyway Bergman's stylings are in that nice restrained way (yet with the proper pounding added when the mood is sorta needed) kinda like a slightly-tamed Cecil Taylor or maybe a jolted Dave Burrell. Coxhill is perfectly Europe-cultured yet astute enough to follow the hallowed blare of Ayler...nowhere near the power and might of a Brotzmann mind you, but perfectly attuned to the equally Euro mindset of Bergman. Ida Know's on drums, and come to think of it I have no idea the origins of this disque (too lazy to run it through the dogpile). Whatever, it's one of those great encounters that avant garde jazz is fulla yet you KNOW that you ain't gonna live long enough to soak it all in like you'd wanna. A heaping hunking big thanks to Pop for the disc, which reminds me once again of last post's cry..."OPEN DEM VAULTS UP AND QUICK!!!"

Cross-"Melody Lady"/"Sugar Daddy" single (pressed on CD-R)

A master-tape dub of Cross' only single that, according to the no-play side of this disque was recorded at Electric Ladyland studios and in 1972, a good three years before Cross played their legendary set at the CBGB Summer Festival which Cross/Kongress/Von Lmo guitarist Lou Rone does not remember in the slightest! (A fellow Cross memeber pointed out to him that the reason for this was that Rone was higher'n a kite that night and thus WOULDN'T remember a thing including Debby Harry catching the group's set!) Still, for a single that was released by themselves (no label info available) and which actually got the typical one or two spins locally before getting dumped into the trash it's a pretty nice slab of early hard rock (not quite METAL!!!!!) that probably won't make it with you punk elitists out there but it will go over smart-like with you hard rock elitists! Side one reminds me of Free with vocals by Rone...actually, these were "scratch" vocals for the group's then-warbler REX SMITH to sing over but he quit or something like that so Rone's stayed. I'm sure it woulda been big stuff if played at the 82 Club, which is where Cross woulda worked up a big following had they only performed there! Flip is more early-seventies metal that I believe used to get called "cock rock" amongst the same hard-rock haters who used to flock to their Rough Trade catalogs for the latest in British dee-lights (me included), but I really gotta say that I liked the wah-solo which retained a good portion of the hard-thud effect that made me listen up to this primate-spew in the first place. Actually, a long-buried hard rock winner that would probably get a few of your rear ends lit if it only gets out into the public. And I gotta say ONE thing...it's interesting to hear Rone make his trek from Cross to Danger to Kongress to Von Lmo wond'rin' how the hell did he DO THAT?????

Quiet Sun-MAINSTREAM CD (Expression)

If you can't get enough of Quiet Sun on Phil Manzanara's infamous mid-seventies solo album DIAMOND HEAD then why not try their recently-rereleased album entitled MAINSTREAM. And mainstream it is anything but...not this just might be that garage band from outer space everybody's been waiting for, and given the history behind the group (stories of a young Manzanara walking around the town of Tottenham-on-Rye with fresh copies of FREAK OUT and THE VELVET UNDERGROUND AND NICO under his arm leading his public school band [originally called Pooh and the Ostrich Feather and changed to Quiet Sun only halfway through a listening session at Harvest Records!] at church and school dances in the staidest part of Merrie Olde add to the mystique) you know this just ain't no simpy halfdonkeyed cringefest one MIGHT'VE been able to stumble over back then. Anyway with Manzanara's new found success in Roxy and time to waste while recording DIAMOND HEAD, he got his old chums back together for this sesh and added Eno as a fifth wheel and brother/mother, it works pretty fine esp. considering just what a horrid mess early-seventies progressive music COULD be.

Don't get your hopes up TOO high if you've read all those blurbs from the UK weeklies where they call this one of the noisiest records since WHITE LIGHT/WHITE HEAT and all that typical British rockcrit hyperbole...yeah, Velvets comparisons continue to make me dribble especially if they predate the GREAT VELVET PUTSCH in alternative rock scribing 1982/3 onwards, and tho this does have a bit of the UK prog Velvet pounce to it probably thanks to Eno its probably Quiet Sun's OTHER big influence Lifetime (Manzanara caught 'em live and they made a big meteoric crunch shift in his solar path) that comes closer to the bullseye. Or if you want another little hint try Harvest-era Soft Machine without the art school degree attitude. Still, if you like your rock nice and loud this is one for thee.

It's hard to get their sound into print...English progressive rock discovers the Stooges? Syd Barrett returns Eno's favors? (The sole vocal track does come close to Eno imitating Barrett to a rewrite of "Jugband Blues"). Too bad Charles Shaar Murray or Duncan Fallowell (Nick Kent?) weren't here to write this review. Let's just say MAINSTREAM's an enjoyable bit of UK underground art done RIGHT a la early Roxy meets a fusion we could only DREAM of. For an added kick, read the reproed acceptance and rejection notices from from the group's original days...ironically enough the harshest one comes from Muff Winwood and Island records who made plenty on Roxy Music (and originally released THIS album) within a few short years!

(NOTE: the above review was originally printed in BLACK TO COMM #24, which was originally released to the public during the spring months of the year 2001 and remains AVAILABLE [hint!]. Hopefully this review [reprinted courtesy of the author] will inspire more of you readers to check out the back issue department [just click on highlighted link, dummies!] which will lead you to not only a plethora of tasty BLACK TO COMM back issues but [if you buy the things] tons of adventurous rockism-based reading material that only a mind-throbbing rock & roll fanatic could enjoy! If you like the views and opinions expressed on this blog as well as the flippant, snot-nosed angst one can find here as well then one would certainly like the vast array of articles, snaps and general disdain that pop up with regularity in the pages of BLACK TO COMM. I'm giving you another chance...click here QUICK!!!! You didn't??? Coward!)

EXACTA BOX, by Brad Kohler and Bill Shute (Kendra Steiner Editions)

Well, it just hadda happen. Brad Kohler and Bill Shute, two of the uncontested star contributors at BLACK TO COMM (see, I'm giving you ANOTHER chance!) during the early-nineties just hadda get together on one of Bill's chapbooks, this one having to do with none other than Kohler's fave rave pasttime mainly playing the ponies, and no I don't mean all that uncouth activity that's supposed to have been going on at this Oregon farm over the past few years either! Naw, I'm talking about horse racing, and although I gave up on that particularly vile habit when a full-time job and lack of time to squander it on the horses dictated a life-pattern change during the early-eighties, at least Kohler still has the leisure and presumably the moolah to indulge in the Sport of Kings even this late in the game and why should we deny him his daily fun just because he's filling the coffers of a whole load of unsavory characters, eh?

I dunno where Kohler ends and Shute starts on this chapbook...it's almost as bad as wondering where Ernie Bushmiller ended and his assistants began on those mid-seventies NANCY strips, but wherever the collaboration intersects (I have the feeling, at least judging from Kohler's writing style, that he shipped the words Bill's way and Bill just made 'em "presentable" for poetic consumption) it's sure an interesting, nay, enjoyable on or off the toidy read that "works" as a fine slice of everyday what-goes-on, this time at the racetrack where you can see a whole load of people who are more than just a cross-section of America as they like to say...they're addicted!!!

Some of it's straight Amerigan good ol' schmuckism while parts (like the one comparing the neat-as-a-pin elderly black guys you always see at the track to Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin at Potsdam) sound more Bill since I don't even think Kohler knows what Potsdam is let alone those three! Some of it is even sad (like the part about how Thistledown in Wheeling W. VA. [where I'd go once in a blue moon and even get treated to a nice dinner courtesy my uncle!] being the "second home" to the guy who had lost his wife and kid-to-be in an accident...dunno why but things like that tear into my soul sometimes) but it's done with a sorta non-suave verve that's pretty everyday, kinda reminding me of what Kerouac mighta whipped up if he had been born Brad Kohler but then again I can't see Kohler sodomizing it up at a bathhouse with Ginsberg! I'm sure you get the drift. A quick read too, and you know its good because my high school literary magazine woulda rejected it just like they did my superior brand of verse, which I realized was only due to POLITICS lo these many years (they hated my ass!).

Still, I wonder if Shute will be collaborating with any other BLACK TO COMM cadre like Paul McGarry (a treatise on Maple Syrup?) or Bruce Mowat for that matter (a treatise on internet disc jockeying???) Whatever Bill, please don't ask me to collaborate...a chapbook on mental illness is not what the public is clamoring for!

Before I go, I thought I'd tip you all off to a relatively new band whose recordings I think many of you readers out there would be more than "up to" (or at least would consider) hearing, especially in these wary times of ours when so much stuff passing itself off as "good" is vying for our hard-earned. They're called the Bon Vivants, they're from Atlanta, and they're on Old Gold records which I guess is a label that's more or less accustomed to selling noise rock/avant garde niceties you may or may not go for. Not only that but Eddie Flowers is also making available to us hungry rock-starved hoi polloi their debut 10-inch album (?)/EP (???) via his Slippytown website, and he gave them a pretty hot writeup that's almost as good as the spew he did for the Magik Markers which really must be saying something (other'n "BUY SOME OF THESE THINGS WILLYA???") considering how his MM hype ranks as one of the best slabs of rock writing for not only this year but perhaps the entire decade as well (with my scribble coming in a CLOSE SECOND I might add!). Anyway, Flowers' rants regarding this quartet (whose leader runs the Old Gold label which is strange considering the group's...well, I don't wanna get ahead of myself!) has the Bon Viviants sounding like a cross between Big Star, LOADED-period Velvet Underground and the Raspberries with Eno thrown in, and considering how very little if anything today could come off sounding like THAT I figured that sending Flowers the ten bucks for such a disque even though my turntable reminds unrepaired would most certainly be an asset to my already-overbulged collection. Anyway, it turns out that the Bon Vivants have their own Myspace page, and thankfully one of their tracks is up an available as we speak...gotta say that I didn't hear any of the aforementioned in the mix but they sure sound like nice local garage punk in the seventies vein...not quite like the Sneakers or some other mid-South pop act whose name escapes me at the moment but maybe getting there halfway. Can't wait to get the disc as well as a playable 'table to spin the thing on, and hopefully these Bon Vivants won't go the way of all those other mid/deep sound new wave bands who traded rock & roll and true innovation for commercial oblivion!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

A TRUE TESTIMONIAL!

(EDITOR'S NOTE: this following unsolicited manuscript [for wont of a better term] was sent me via the old-fashioned mails by a longtime BLACK/BLOG TO COMM contributor/fan whose name may be revealed in the future if he gives me the green light to do so. Actually, he doesn't even know that I'm making this letter available via the world-wide ghetto of a zillion sites competing against each other, but I'm sure he really doesn't mind. And besides, I get so little fan mail these days that I thought showering you faithful readers with an example of true BLOG TO COMM devotion wouldn't be a bad thing, and might inspire you to do the same! Not only that, but its great getting freebie material to help PAD THINGS OUT here on the blog! You think I wanna write everything here myself when I can get some ultra-cheap labor my way???)

The last few discs of a CD nature along with LP's that this humble scribe purchased before osmosing a heaping helping of xeroxed BLOG TO COMM pages amounted to about as much as a silent fart aimed into the Grand Canyon. Irritated at the poor quality of these acquisitions I had no choice but to leave my apartment in search of succor in the form of convival meetings with my fellow humans. But this took the for such droll assignments usually take - I end up hearing about the plight of local sports teams or the sad details of Joe Sixpack's crummy job. The movies - eh! We all know there is nothing out there that can top the 1972 home movie of my Uncle Jimmy unscrewing two Oreo cookies and placing them over his bare nipples at one of my family's reunions. Not only didn't it beat anything in the so called "comedy" coming out of Tinseltown these days, the off camera showdown with my Aunt Fran (his usually nonplussed wife) a few hours and a six pack later in the day beat any drama from the last couple of decades! But I'm here to tell you I'm a happy hermit again after studying BLOG TO COMM and picking up the following - The Magik Markers, the 1968 repress Brute Force LP, The Music Revelation Ensemble NO WAVE CD and the SSM LP on Alive (so tasty I'll even forgive the drum machine tracks - to an extent). Now when I hear a knock at the door I just smile, ignore it, and turn the stereo up a notch or five! NO more being so desperate for company the Mormons run away the second I turn my back to take a whizz! I don't care if I see another human being until my next BLOG TO COMM dispatch points me towards more stellar wares to fill my ears with the finest untamed sounds from the past and present! Yes, that's right - those critics who told you Bob Dylan's latest was a five star masterpiece and you went out and bought it only to wish you had spent the money on - well, ANYTHING ELSE, even plastic hangers for your closet, or novelty salt and pepper shakers, or those blue cakes you put in the toilet tank really are selling you an empty bill of goods. Admit it! Log on to BLOG TO COMM and let Chris put the pizazz back into your stereo system! There is no contract to sign, and you cannot be turned down for any reason! So log on today - you'll be glad you did!

Whoa! didn't mean to go over the top on the salespitch - perhaps its my tribute to the guy who started local icon business American Plumbing and Heating whose obit I saw recently - hey, that's an easy epitaph - "Who can? AMER - I - CAN!" as recited by former Pittsburgh Pirate Pie Traynor during Studio Wrestling telecasts as Ringside Rosie tried to mug for the camera inna background. My grandfathter would always point out who the old man doing the schpiel was and I'd just wonder how anyone got the name "Pie."

Couldn't get the Magik Markers disc on Gulcher, (still kicking myself for passing on it in the used bin - had I known what label it was on I'd have bought it not knowing a thing about it!) found some Frog import for a pricey 15 bucks. 4 songs studio/live starts off like industrial beddybye snoozer time, just when I start to worry here comes the drum spazz plus some chick seemingly talking/chanting to herself, a definite upturn in the proceedings! Filtered through the live tracks is the sort of canned M.O.R. muzak that they used to use on early 70's porn movies, which is kinda creepy, at least that's what it sounded like to me, but I couldn't turn the disc up too loud as the landlord was below! BRUTE FORCE side one a bit too Tower of Power for me, but side two, the long one and the pretty one rounding things out sure are fine, and did I ever tell you about this guy I knew in high school who loved B.O.C., Hawkwind and the Dictators (he even did a novella that was a takeoff of the insipid JAMES AT 15 called ROLF AT 15, and had a character named Borneo Jimmy in it!) but also was a Tower of Power fan and would go to their concerts by himself. I saw they were just in town, probably one or two original members type deal, but for a band that flew as far under the radar as they did they sure have outlasted the competition - don't know how much support black radio even gave them then, though I'm sure it's zero now.

SSM, yeah a bit alterna-land in spots, but the cheese ball organ and general "kitchen sink" songwriting takes me back to the early 80's and The Scientific Americans and other goofball bands that seemed logical at the time before everything went kerplooey. I'll tell you one thing - they sound better to me than the much hyped Pittsburgh band the Modey Lemon - who work somewhat of the same parameters.

Music Revelation Ensemble was probably the best of the bunch, and that's saying something so thanks for the research! I was in such a groove snapping up stuff from your posts I even lost my head for a sec and asked about the Roxy Music FIRST KISS boot only to be poo-pooed "no boots here." To which I could only fondly remember when the place was Jim's Records, and the boots (talking white sleeve/xerox insert days) were in plain sight BY THE FRONT DOOR!

Also wanted to pick up the Slits PEEL SESSIONS - which I have an old tape of and think are better than their recorded work proper - twunny bux! That's probably more than they spent on their instruments at the time! And sure more than they spent on lessons! The ragged old tape will have to do!

P.S.-I'd be remiss not to mention that it was Eddie Flowers' Magik Markers review that really got the old beanie spinning.

P.P.S.-Every time I hit that store I try to remember which Robert Wyatt disc Doug Snyder of Sick Dick rated very highly on his top 20 list you published in BTC. And every time I pick up the wrong one (one day I'll write the proper one down!). This time I got RUTH IS STRANGER THAN RICHARD from 1975 - Frith + Eno guest, nice disc despite typical "overdose on whimsey" moments; last time I got MATCHING MOLE -- when the disc he (Snyder) named is ROCK BOTTOM! When I finally remember one day it'll be out of stock -- then I'll try to remember which Terry Riley discs he ranked way up there!

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???

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!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

HIGH SIX!

1) PUNK MAGAZINE #19 (winter 2007)

I dunno if this new and improved ish of PUNK is necessarily the highlight of the year, but considering the way 2006 has turned out (having to suffer through the post-post-POSTMODERN state of gulcheral lack-of-awareness all us aging obsessives are imbued with), perhaps it is!!! All funnin' aside, as I've said before it's sure nice to see the resurrected PUNK mag available in the here and now, and this new 'un, while not quite the engrosser that past issues of this or most other fanzines of the GOLDEN AGE (read: 1972-1977) are, still kept me totally enrapted for a good two hours which is more than I can say about just about any MODERN DAY pub out there with the possible exception of BLACK TO COMM which I don't think counts in this case.

Now before I go on any further I gotta 'fess up to you the fact that, even with a new issue of PUNK plunked into my sweaty palms, maybe I'm just not that keen on the concept of punk rock as punk rock as I usedta be back when just about anyone with brains or a wee bit of foresight was jumpin' on the bandwagon. Oh yeah, I really like the concept of punk rock, but I'm more in tune with punk in that universal sorta scrunch-up terminology where not only the likes of such aggregates as the Stooge/Dolls/Ramones can wallow around in the Big Tent of punk three-ring circuses but the Seeds, Sonics and other class six-oh primate-putsch along with a whole lotta other nasties (some metal, some avant garde jazz) ranging within a whole lotta modes and attempts at this musical beast. A listen to the Clash or Generation X, or even many of the post-seventies bigtime aggregates that certain bloggers continue to praise to high hallelujah will merely emit a yawn from me these days, but as I tell you I get that way sometimes. So keeping all this in mind lemme tell you that this new PUNK mag really kept my attention twisted even though a lotta what """""makes""""" the mag isn't supposed to light any fire under my pitted prune butt. But it did somehow and for that editor John Holmstrom and company should be congratulated for being able to pull a PUNK mag off in 2006 and get away with it as well!!!

Cover slot's dedicated to the Bullys, that band who had in their ranks one Johnny Heffernan a.k.a. Johnny Heff, a punk who worked as a fireman in his spare time and for his efforts got crushed as the World Trade Center came tumblin' down. It's a nice touching story about a guy whose music I'm probably not that anxious to hear (although he certainly was of the right political persuasion if he did write a numbah called "Pop is for Fags"!), but the fact that it took so long for anyone to let the world know the man existed makes me wonder why I haven't seen any special reports on the punk rock firefighter who died a hero in all these years? Not that I was particularly looking, but if the lamebrain kissykiss media has the wherewithal to devote stories too every hero who lived or died on that fateful day (and flag these stories for their "human interest" potential), why not a "news segment" on one who also decided to KICK OUT THE JAMS in his spare time and doesn't fit the formula of the fireman as some sorta clean-cut wholesome Dudley Dooright type???

Also inna new one's a touching saga on the downfall of CBGB crammed with a whole lotta TRUE LIFE FACTS that most of the obituaries felt "prudent" to leave out, plus bits and pieces on a whole lotta bands who were playing the club (and the also deep-sixed Continental) o'er the past few years like Turbo A.C.'s and Peelander-Z, one-a them new all-Japanese yet all-Amerigan punk bands who look more'n pretty entertaining if all those Youtube videos are any indication. These guys (and miss!) sound like they could be the next giant leap for mankind, or at least punk rock, and you can bet that I'll be keeping more of an eye on them and their website, if only to enter the "Win a Date With Peelander-Pink Contest" as soon as it hits the boards!

There's plenty more, including a load of record and Cee-Dee revs (and J. D. King oughta get plenny pee-yoed for the negative reaction to his classic Coachmen disque which I hope proves to you who your REAL friend is, eh Jay-Dee???) plus a great "Family Tree of Punk Rock" which traces the roots of the form and the offspring a whole lot better'n had Little Steven or some other well-draped arbiter of "garage" tastes had done it. In a NEW YORK ROCKER and BACK DOOR MAN-deprived age, PUNK is the tops in magazine reading, and osmosing every precious page reminds me of how I would spend all my waking moments back when this "scene" was still in its adolescence trying to soak in all of the underground history, past/present and hopefully future (and believe-you-me, I had big hopes for the eighties as an extension of all that seventies promise which shows you just how WRONG a feller can be!) back when I should have been studying to be the gynecologist I had always dreamed of being. Well, at least my newfound infatuation gave the world another bright rock writer and not some pap-studying prober who merely shrugs his shoulders at the sight of a curvateous prospective customer!

(Oh yeah, and I should mention to all you leftovers out there that the comics are fuh-NEE as usual...there ain't enough Holmstrom here like there should be, but the contributors both old and new certainly know how to fit into the punkgroove more or less and that should be fine with even an oldtimey stick-inna-mud like you. I especially laughed hard at the cartoon-review of the Al Goldstein DVD which was just as SICK as something PUNK would have printed back in the day, going to show you that the more things stay the same, the more they need a changing, or something like that.)

2) FUTURE #4 (November, 1978)

Yeah, I already had this one, but I just needed another copy. And ya wanna know why???? When I purchased my original FUTURE #4 I got it straight from the HQ of editor Greg Prevost during his Fairway Drive days, but for some occult reason when I opened the package and took the meaty morsel out of its sleeve I discovered that the pic of Greg onna inside (page three) was BLACKED OUT with a magic marker, a "sorry!" scribbled next to what obviously was Prevost's own handiwork! I gotta admit that at the time Prevost's actions really got me puzzled more than I was age five watching living bra commercials, but the guy for what you will soon find out were obvious reasons did not want me to know what he looked like back when this issue of FUTURE came out, and for years bephuddled I just wondered why Prevost would deface his own fanzine in order to keep me in the dark, dense fonebone that I am!

Well, with the arrival of a new, non-messed up FUTURE #4 I can tell you why Greg had so long tried to deceive me...it's because in this pic Greg was wearing what could best be called a faux ducktail! Y'see, during the early-eighties (when I happened to get hold of this ish), Greg was trying to maintain an image of himself as a roaring sixties-bred punk complete with that Chocolate Watchband praying mantis look, and a pic of him with a fifties style haircut circulating, especially when Greg was leading his multi-pageboy'd Chesterfield Kings to underground stardom just wouldn't do his (then-current) 'do justice! Unfortunately for Greg his plan fell through when KICKS ran the EXACT SAME PHOTO in one of their mid-eighties issues, but that didn't stop him from telling me that this particular snap was taken in '74 when he was fronting some garage band aggregate called "The Creatures From the Black Lagoon," an act who along with the Droogs, Electric Eels and precious few others were actually performing Sonics songs, and at poolside parties to boot long before sixties garageisms became the hip thing to groove on! Heck, with all this bull flyin' around can I trust anything else the man has told me all these years????? Probably not!

Still. #4 remains a winning issue...highlights being the interviews with Willie Alexander and the Real Kids (yay!!!), the elpee and single reviews, and of course Dad.

3) Henry Flynt-RAGA ELECTRIC CD (Locust)

I always seem to do my most impulsive internet bidding and buying late at night when my defenses are low, which is why I have a bedroom filled to the brim with everything from toys I wanted when I was four but never got, unassembled model kits and back issues of HUMBUG cluttered about. I guess I finally got that 1963 adolescent-overrun suburban ranch house I've always dreamed about, albeit thirty years too late! Anyway, it was on one of those half-delirious blurry-eyed internet romps during the wee hours of the morn that I ordered a package of Henry Flynt wares from Locust, mostly for the limited edition Nova Billy single that they're sellin' but also for a number of disques I'll be able to spin on my computer while waiting for Santa to drop off that turntable and stereo system I'm in need of next month...are you listening, ya old hippie you?!?!?!?!

The BACK PORCH HILLBILLY BLUES disques which show off Flynt's rural avant leanings way better'n today's subject does will have to wait until I properly digest 'em for blog consumption, but for now I'll prattle off about his RAGA ELECTRIC Cee-Dee mainly because I've listened to that twice as opposed to BACK PORCH's once. Starting off with a partic. warped rendition of the Marine Hymn from '71 that sounds like some Neu! epiglottal spew to a variety of tres-Fluxus vocal improvs from '63 and a '66 electric guitar raga-rock thing that sounds like an outgrowth of Flynt's Insurrectionists all ending in a sax improv that would give Roscoe Mitchell nightmares, RAGA ELECTRIC does a pretty good job showing off Flynt's strangely askew anti-art post-Cage FLUXUS sensibilities without coming off "cute" like Yoko Ono could do even then nor artistic-pervo like Nam June Paik. It doesn't even SOUND like what people expected avant garde music to sound like in the sixties, and in all RAGA ELECTRIC's pretty solid avant garde music that does have a better grate to it than I'm sure anyone would have expected then, or even now for that matter.

And for a person who was so under-documented these many years its nice to see something by a big name like Flynt out and available to the public at large. And it's good stuff too w/o the frilly philosophical proto-hippie spew that ruined things by Angus Maclise and others for me and my suburban punk-bred attitude. And you really wouldn't want any more, especially from a guy who subbed for John Cale in the Velvet Underground and almost got the boot from Lou Reed for being too rural, and on-stage too!

4) SINS OF THE FLESHAPOIDS DVD

I always come back to the classics...and forty-two years later SINS OF THE FLESHAPOIDS drills itself into you way as a love saga or just plain slab of avant garde camp than all of the drek it inspired. A feel-good movie if there ever was one.

5) Various Artists-THE EAST VILLAGE OTHER CD (Abraxas/ESP)

Mid-sixties snot-nosed idea (various En Why See hipsters perform to broadcast of Luci Johnson's wedding) holds up more than the early-seventies youth drek this stuff eventually inspired, w/Steve Weber (Holy Modal Rounders), the Velvet Underground and others adding their own bitta nutso flavor to the social commentary. Highlights (besides Weber and Velvets) are Gerard Malanga and Ingrid Superstar gabbing about their hots for Steve Reeves, Marion Brown cooking hot acid, Ishmael Reed reading from THE FREE LANCE PALL BEARERS and Tuli Kuipferberg and Viki Pollon singing a medieval folk song with lyrics pertinent to the heart of the matter. Low-point's Allen Ginsberg and Peter Orlovsky doing their ramarama pull down your pants boys schtick for the billionth time in recorded memory. The reprint of the LP back cover lets us in on the fact that this originally was released as a one-sided album (which would account for its 24-minute time-length) and that the other side was engraved "with a lot of saxophones" sorta like the mysterious side two of Albert Ayler's BELLS where you could hear weird mumbled voices and loads of gravel as the tone arm swayed to and fro. (Others mention hearing chirping birds on their copies!) Too bad they didn't have the inspiration to release THAT in order to fill this disque out to a proper recorded length!

6) MX-80-DAS LOVE BOAT (Quadruped); I'VE SEEN ENOUGH (Atavistic); O-Type-BALKANA (Family Vineyard)

Just warming myself up for when I receive my package from Slippytown which, amongst other things, contains MX-80's latest entitled WE'RE AN AMERICAN BAND. Hopefully thee event of the entire bloomin' year, and maybe the next two for all I know!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Deaf School-SECOND HONEYMOON, DON'T STOP THE WORLD, ENGLISH BOYS/WORKING GIRLS CD box set (Strange Days, Japan)

Not much going on this week...well, at least not right now (at this very nanosecond of what has proved to be a rather yawnsville life). Well, I know that there was ONE big thing going on here in the US of Whoa only a few short days ago and that was of course the election, but now even that's over and frankly the results of "the people speaking" for some strange reason have gotten me utterly chilled! Not that I didn't expect Tuesday's outcome especially with the last few months of political nitpicking (such as the overblowing, pardon the pun, of the Tom Foley gay e-mail "affair" [but what really got my bile up about that one was when career bathhouse buddy Barney Frank was actually taking the moral high ground regarding the sick situation as if somehow his well-traveled hiney was more sacred than the closeted one's] to John Whatzizname's well-flubbed "joke" which was more or less a political pass of gas uttered by some hasbeen), but I gotta say that the thought of the Democratic (read: "evil") Party holding the reigns on both houses while the Republican (read: "stupid") Party sorta moils around waiting for next time is pretty disgusting...even more disgusting than the current state of politics as (un)usual if you ask me. I mean, wishy-washy conservatism like we've seen for the past umpteen years has been pretty condescending, but it ain't as condescending as the past umpteen years of the liberal patronizing moosh we're certain to be inundated with once a more "progressive" tone hits the national scene. As you probably know, I have a GREAT mistrust, perhaps justified, of the same kinda liberal/radical "Up With People" happyhappy "we are all one" claptrap style-of-thinking that """they""" (teachers, "authority") tried cramming into my cranium when I was a kid, and if you ask me the current state of the Democratic Party (actually, the Party after Woodrow Wilson) reminds me of ONE BIG HOOTENANNY where you're forced to sing uplifting campfire songs or else they take you out back and put a bullet through your head! Of course the real problem was that the Republicans for whatever idiotic reasons didn't get their lines on cue (or get the hardcore "social issue" vote out) thereby snatching defeat from the jaws of victory and the liberal types (who have, ever since the glory days of William Jennings Bryan, been so cloyingly saccharine that I'm surprised more people haven't seen through their act and continue to fall for the mass felch) naturally saw the right opportunity to slither into power. And frankly, I gotta admit that I kinda have a softer spot in my heart for what is passing for the Right these days than I do the Left in case you haven't noticed...after all, the Right can easily accept a free mind such as Representative Ron Paul within its realms but what does the Left have to offer other than a whole lotta cheap pandering to gays (and sorry folks, but I seriously think it's disgusting when heterosexuals do the same things that homos do in front of or behind closed doors!), ethnics and the laziest, most destructive instincts that man can muster up? That fact should be more than OBVIOUS, especially given that the vast array of open-minded and free-thinking alternative music/lifestyle types out there seem to be enamored by what passes for progressivism these days. Only these sons and daughters of the chic elite are more or less born and bred of the same old romantic Marxist useful idiot visions that had starry-eyed youth trekking to the nearest Central American revolution they could find back in the sixties. Thankfully those guys were the first to get lined up against the wall.

I gotta say that the worst thing to come out of the election is the reaction from some of the more thumbscrew-minded people out there. Some are saying that this election marks "a new dawn in America" as if things seriously are going to change either way. No withdrawals from Iraq or Afghanistan are in the cards as far as I can see! (And I know that even a staunch Right Winger as Paul Craig Roberts would concur.) Howevah, what really got my goat for reasons not-too-hidden is how a certain blogger who shall remain nameless actually posted the Stars 'n Stripes on his site as a patriotic cudos of sorts that this recent political shift was somehow beneficial for "America" (whatever that may mean to people of the bloggers' same political persuasion). Oh.....really??? I mean, I'm not a flagwaver myself nor do I think anyone doing so for whatever cause or nation he might think appropriate is particularly wrong, but seeing this guy sporting the US flag on his latest post more or less reminds me of all those old photos of Communist Party rallies in the thirties with Ol' Glory flying all over the place to the point where you'd think the snaps were taken at a 4th of July picnic! (Another liberal organization [at least judging from just how copasetic they were with the entire brunt of twenties progressive thought], mainly the Ku Klux Klan, were also hot on the American Flag [and not the Stars and Bars as many would believe] which should be even more food for thought for you starved minds out there.) Perhaps all of this proves once and for all that maybe the Stars and Stripes should be banned!...of course I'm being facetious, but there is maybe a grain of truth in what I say. The weirdest thing about seeing flag waving done by the same people who seem to think it "redneck" when the opposition does it is that honestly, I have the sneaking suspicion that the fellow who posted that flag in triumphal pride wouldn't object one bit to the right for someone to burn that same flag...and frankly I feel the same way too although I'm also of the thought that whoever decides to burn that flag shouldn't complain when he gets the shit kicked out of him.

(And, come to think of it, and I don't wanna pick any fight but just point something out, but I didn't see [or wasn't aware of] the aforementioned blogger or any of the current rabid antiwar crowd getting all hot under the collar when the previous prez was engaging in military action in Kosovo and elsewhere, or get angered when that shill Madeline Albright cheerfully exclaimed that the embargo against Iraq was worth all the dead children that resulted from it. Oddly enough, I remember Ron Paul and Justin Raimondo complaining, so let's just ask ourselves who really is right and wrong as far as selective antiwar sentiment goes!)

Enough...actually the greatest sadness I have over the results of Tuesday's election is that Kinky Friedman did not get elected. Texans, you've lost your chance!

Well, let's see, now onto the review...yeah, Deaf School! I remember when these guys (and gal) were getting hyped about in the English Weaklies back in the '76/'77 thinking they were yet another band in the (then) short-line of Roxy Music/Sparks imitations one would see during those days. Of course, I got that impression just from looking at the album covers languishing in all those now-infamous import bins that were so common in the seventies...heck, I got the same idea looking at Cheap Trick album covers so what was a dumboid kid supposed to know anyway???

And although they looked strange enough, it wasn't like I was that anxious to spend hard-begged bread on any of their wares so for the most part Deaf School were more or less shoved way back into the rockism-bred reaches of my psyche whilst the likes of Captain Beefheart and John Coltrane lurched to the forefront. In fact, I only managed to get hold of a cheapo cutout copy of their final effort ENGLISH BOYS/WORKING GIRLS a few years later and, although thinking it kinda insteresting, immediately tossed the horribly-pressed platter onto the sell pile. I guess that such a group as Deaf School wasn't exactly endearing to my early-eighties hard-mulching Rough Trade-brewing tastes in music, and for years afterwards I kinda figured that this batch were yet another college-bred art project about which the less said the better. Of course, that was way back when, and in this day and age I'm a more mature, open-minded rockism pundit who can see all of the good and worthy in any type of musical endeavor...right????

Well, actually NO, but since there wasn't much catching my attention as of late and a mention of this group onna web somewhere (more likely the article in the issue of I WANNA BE YOUR DOG that got written up last post) sorta piqued my interest, I actually dished out money for a Deaf School box set chock fulla their three disques repro'd in mini-LP covers. I gotta admit that I really love those Japanese mini-LP reissues that have been coming out o'er the past decade or so where British import classics of the day are reprocessed for people nostalgic enough for the seventies UK sound in the here-and-now. So having a box set with all three Deaf School disques available in one place is pretty neat...now if only I LIKED the thing!!!

As I said, Deaf School were an art school project (really!) featuring various students and professors at the Liverpool School of Terminal Flunkers who sorta got together to do a musical act for the faculty and student body just like Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland used to, and it kicked off with the eight-piece troupe winning a MELODY MAKER talent show which in turn got 'em signed to Warner Brothers and onto the turntables of select anal-retentives everywhere. Sporting the suave retro-chic look so well put to use by such names as Bryan Ferry and Ron Mael, Deaf School were bound to make it big with those with their ears tuned to the Big Beat, or whatever was being pushed as new and interesting that week before flubbing about to an early death.

You could say that Deaf School were punks just waiting to happen sorta like Alberto y los Trios Paranoias and a few other "whatever-happened-to"'s getting comped on "roots of punk" disques these days, but in reality they were more or less timewarp English prog-into-new wave, still rooted in a mid-seventies chic-smarm groove a la Roxy Music yet brave enough to have appeared at CBGB, and during the great blackout Summer '77 as well. Their debut disque SECOND HONEYMOON complete with the cover shot of male lead singer Enrico Cadillac and femme frolic Bette Bright in Hollywood pose (perhaps the Warner Brothers influence?) does set the pace for this disc, but unfortunately the pace is more or less mid-seventies campy sub-Roxy Music romantic kitsch which doesn't quite translate into what I would call an enjoyable disc. This 'un and followup DON'T STOP THE WORLD seem to be more or less concerned with fey British upper-crust spoof/pose sans any real high-energy rockism that I would have expected from this group.

Ironically, I found swansong ENGLISH BOYS/WORKING GIRLS to be a true-blue wowzer of a platter with enough interesting rock & roll and little puton pretension (or maybe "just the right amount of puton pretension to give this thing a nice tasty push). Cadillac's slumming-classes vocalese actually does well with its moan and growl while Bright belts it out pretty good on the Sparks-ish "All Queued Up" which at least has that mid-seventies pre-punk British woosh that I was expecting from all three platters. ENGLISH BOYS also has some spunky lyrics which seemed part and parcel to these lower-case English groups including a tongue-in-cheek trib to Ronny Zamora (the kid in Florida who killed his grandparents and blamed it on too much KOJAK) as well as British soldiers in Northern Ireland (title track) which isn't exactly anything to cheer about, but somehow Deaf School can pull it off slyly enough that it can rank as "social commentary" yet not upset the blue pencils. Really snappy stuff, especially in these days when lyrics can more or less sink to the level of just about any other instrument given their leaden nature. And yeah, maybe Deaf School don't quite "hold up" as much as their influences do, but they do make for a nice once-in-awhile spin alongside such similar-styled "revue" groups as Human Sexual Response and Orchestra Luna who were doing pretty much the same schtick as Deaf School only in Boston and not Liverpool.

Tune in this weekend for the usual kaboom. And remember, choose the blogs you read just as studiously as you choose your suppositories, and considering what you can do with most blogs there really isn't any difference, is there?