Sunday, January 07, 2007


Last night while spinning my copy of the Quiet Sun MAINSTREAM album as I'm wont to do during the just-pre beddy bye hours I got to thinkin', not only about this well-revered at the time Roxy Music spinoff project but (gosh it!) all of those old-time European-bred import (and sometimes domestic) albums from the early and mid-seventies that I used to espy in album bins during my young 'n formative rockism years. I was also thinkin' about how I used to wish that I could somehow take every single album both domestic and import home with me (excluding the usual disco/country/pop turdburners of course), whilst wondering in my teenage mind of minds as to just what those mysterious discs that one could pick up for $4.99 upwards sounded like! I tend to think a lot about my pimplefarm years these days (maybe because I sure miss squeezing the things in order to burn off a lotta tension) then I thought that heck, here in the modern age I have more of those old import albums I used to crave back then than I can shake a stick at, only now they're on shiny aluminum platters that I can just pluck outta my "collection" and slam down on the ol' launching pad! So, with not much more thought in mind, I just decided to why not take one of those sentimental trips back to the days of yesteryear myself and spin a buncha those long-lost but not forgotten platters for old time's sake kinda like the way my folks used to (still do!) reminisce about the days of the Big Bands without the knowledge that a lotta these bandleader guys like Charlie Barnett were so wild they used to make the Who look like choirboys!

Tangerine Dream-ELECTRONIC MEDITATION CD (Castle Communications)

I mighta reviewed this one on the blog a few years back but for now we'll give this debut platter by krautrock gods Tangerine Dream another, er, once over. And for such a classic in the annals of German Expressionism it seems as if ELECTRONIC MEDITATION is getting a lotta re-think here at the dawn of yet another snoozeroo millenium...for me, ELECTRONIC MEDITATION was a pretty good rehashing of ideas first expressed on Pink Floyd's A SAUCERFUL OF SECRETS which was recorded a good two years before MEDITATION hit the turntables of der teendermeisters everywhere in the Old Republic. However, I shoulda caught on that ELECTRONIC MEDIATION was about to go through a whole passel of critical rehashings not only when drummer Klaus Schulze once referred to it as a punk record (kinda reminds me of the time someone from Genesis told THE PLAIN DEALER's Jane Scott that THE LAMB LIES DOWN ON BROADWAY had some punk moments on it!) but when David Keenan of Volcanic Tongue began writing about how much it oozed from its very pores early-Velvet Underground carnage! Well let's just say that I just hadda force myself to drag this one out of the collection for at least one more spin even though I couldn't quite "buy" what either Schulze or Keenan were handing to us eager beaver blogmaniacs.

That "one more spin" turned into about a dozen so far, and even though I think the above claims made about ELECTRONIC MEDITATION are more or less speculative babble through rose-colored rear-view mirrors (after all, I'm positive that Klaus Schulze hasn't even LISTENED to a rock record in over thirty years and I recall a CREEM-speak with Edgar Froese back in '75 where he mentioned a huge love for West Coast hippie shenanigans, but nada about the Velvets) that don't mean it's a duff disque. Quite the opposite...after all, with a strong love of not only the British but West Coast pre-ride-'em-cowboy psychedelic scenes you can't really go wrong with this nightmarish trip through a lot more than burning brains. Schulze's drumming is fantastic in that primitive Maureen Tucker (perhaps the ONLY Velvets-ref. on this disc)/Scott Asheton/Von Lmo style while Froese's guitar stylings are nothing but cheap acid tin reverb-y one-string playing that you just didn't hear outta the West Coast once everyone went into the woods to vegetate. And Froese's (or whoever ghosted...I think Jimmy Jackson) keyboard "virtuosity" (note the quotations Sherlock!) is also low budget/restrained in that spooky early-prog style without the intellectual sidesteps into the higher reaches of the John Schaum book. (NO Keith Emerson/Richard Wright pretensions...YET!!!) Third Dreamer Konrad Schnitzler might not exactly be an UP-FRONT member here with his droning 'cello, but at least he adds the avant garde oomph that these kraut efforts need. Too bad they couldn't've stayed together in this format at least for a few more Ohr-platters...true the next few Tangerine Dream albums were nice enough affairs in themselves but by the mid-seventies when they were battling Pink Floyd for the space-rock trophy all Tangerine Dream could do was put sound to lava lamps. Of course that was before they went the new age route to the land of Quinlan. But hey, if anyone has concrete proof that ELECTRONIC MEDITATION had some Velvet-vibe to it send it my way. It would be an interesting experience listening to this through a WHITE LIGHT/WHITE HEAT filter as much as I do other European extravaganzas of the days like Mahogany Brain and MONSTER MOVIE.

Amon Duul II-DANCE OF THE LEMMINGS CD (Mantra France)

Here's an old krautrock import bin stuffer that I (after being swayed by the 1969 garage band strains of WOLF CITY) used to CREEM-dream of getting my snot-encrusted paws on during my days of Desenex-rage. Coming up from the clatterpunk of the original Amon Duul, it seemed as if albums both by the original and "II"-affixed variants were becoming about as easy to find not only in the domestic but import and cutout bins during those glory days of record buying, and although I can't recall anybody else on the planet at the time who even KNEW what an Amon Duul was (other'n the usual suspects!) that only meant that I didn't have to fight off a whole hoard of krautskapading aficionados for these records which languished in the serenity of tri-county record departments the same way your turds moil about in the calm confines of your toilet bowl before the big flush! How lucky could I get...really!

DANCE OF THE LEMMINGS always seems to get dumped on by the usual Julian Cope-minded followers of the form (not that there's anything wrong with Cope or his opinions, at least prima facie) but I find it rather exhilarating myself. True it lacks the overt drive of the first two AD II offerings and it kinda takes a bit to "get into" (that is, without the usual "stimulants" that tend to turn braincells into utter moosh), but I find the way that Amon Duul II sorta takes West Coast psychedelics, Pink Floyd paranoia and Velvet Underground/Amerigan garageisms and intricates things even more to be pretty much what I seem to be asking for in the here and now (picky rockscribe that I may be). Tangerine Dream couldn't do that, while Can and Faust did it better yet with less finesse but we're talkin' Amon Duul here, and true they were also to head out to the land of burn once the mid-seventies began popping into the puke-active late-seventies but at least this one with their early "Stravinsky-punk"-styled offerings makes for a better lookback into the days of Nixon rage than...MELANIE???

Hawkwind-SPACE RITUAL 2-CD set (EMI)

And speaking of Amon Duul II, I recall how Hawkwind used to always get grouped in with our Teutonic tasties, and not only because they were on the same label at the same time. And I also recall seeing this album proudly displayed when it arrived in the shops back in '73 or so...and how could I forget that with cover gal Stacia's boobs starin' at me like they are on that psychedelic dayglo cover! I'll bet the Hawkwind people thought up that stunt in order to get thousands of horny pre-legal boys to buy the thing, perhaps in hopes of catching more glimpses of Stacia on the inside gatefold equally unadorned! But even with the cheap sex shot pushing product to pubescent pooperoos I gotta say that SPACE RITUAL remains a bona-fide early-seventies classic scronkfest that's so good because not only was it retro-garde (psychedelic music for the seventies!) but ahead-of-its-time as well (they never forgot the punk of the sixties, which helped them in the seventies!).

Like Amon Duul, Hawkwind were a fine carryover from the 1967 days of acid rage, and like AD they also had their mitts into the fine notion of hip paranoia as first espoused by the likes of Pink Floyd. In this way Hawkwind had strong connections to other groups on the post-psych/pre-punk playing board from the Deviants and Pink Fairies on down, and although they always had their long hair and tootlebell tingling side there was also that great swoosh of energy (thanks to the electronic angle, or was it that strange powder in Lemmy's luggage?) that kept them from falling into the Marin County trap that plagued way too many people, some who may not even have deserved such a sad fate. And the presence of Robert Calvert coming to the forefront of the band helped since he was a space cadet in good standing who knew all about the German style and remembered the late-sixties sense of shock! In all, SPACE RITUAL makes for a rather pleasant albeit jagged trip. The additional material on this new release ain't much, and "remastering" ain't as cracked up as it seems to be so if you see the original CD issue, or better yet an actual vinyl version...

Be-Bop Deluxe-FUTURAMA CD (Harvest England)

Yeah, I still remember Christmas vacation '75 (one of those great holidays I told you about a few posts back) when not only did I have a borrowed copy of Be-Bop Deluxe's debut platter AXE VICTIM to spin but I actually bought with my Christmas cash this very platter (on a CREEM-tip mind you!) to have as my very own. One of the smarter moves of a holiday season which also yielded me the first Pink Floyd album (on Columbia...still rotting away in my basement!) and a cutout of the Ruben and the Jets album on Mercury which didn't stand a chance. I dunno for how long FUTURAMA kept spinning in the Stigliano abode, but I'd say that it was a definite fave of mine for quite some time or at least until I got hold of my next Mothers of Invention album a few weeks later. And even after that you'd find FUTURAMA getting a play once-in-awhile because, as even I could tell you at this late stage in the game, having a band pose Roxy Music English smart and play MC5 Detroit heavy at the same time was a move that I'm sure few people would have thought of mastering at the time.

The CD does not have the same sonic dimension as the vinyl, but at least the music is the music (to be hippie about it!) and I can't complain about that. And I gotta admit that Bill Nelson's vocals are as fop British perfect as they could be for this over-the-top almost metallic yet British cultured rock music...sorta like an even more sincere Ray Davies (?) while the guitar is Hendrix-oriented free fall yet doesn't tend to bore like way too many wonks out there in "notice me!" land. Lyrics are ear-grabbing and as tasteful as Davies or Ferry, yet erotic in that classic seventies-style where Nelson didn't hafta pop off a lotta obscenities to get his point across and it comes off clean like the best of the form that ain't tainted by gross-out gore or feminist polemics. And the kinetic tension of the music plays throughout, on one hand keeping closely in touch with that "Harvest" style that the label itself was losing before its eyes (after all, they were signing the Little River Band at the time who had about as much to do with a Harvest oeuvre as Ted Nugent had to do with tenderness!) yet on the other hand doing a real kick-out-the-jams rock & roll that I don't think anybody could properly categorize even then or maybe now. Sure it was "progressive" as in "maybe" King Crimson, but then again "proto-punk" pops up in a lotta thesaurus-worn writers' pieces when dealing with Nelson and crew. And, like a lotta the enigmas of the age, you kinda wonder exactly who Be-Bop Deluxe were being peddled to. Maybe they were the bring everyone together kinda band of the day (or at least bring together the hardcore rockers and art effete crowds!) that some were looking for, but whatever they were you could say that Be-Bop Deluxe were the last truly Harvest-era act in the Kevin Ayers/Edgar Broughton/Syd Barrett tradition, at least until Wire's arrival on the boards a good year/half later.

BEFORE I GO I gotta mention that Tim Hinely has a new issue of DAGGER (#39...gee!) out which you can have for $3.50 (a steal!) if you send the MO or check or well-concealed US currency to PO Box 820102, Portland Oregon, 97282-1102 before he runs out of 'em. This one has an interview with Michael Fennelly (remember Crabby Appleton?) and loads on a bunch of new acts who I've never heard of until now! Educate yourself for once and send Tim the money...he needs it, and while you're at it so do I.

AND ONE MORE THING: remember Bhob Stewart? Well he has a blog and if I were you I'd go there as I have already!

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