Wednesday, March 07, 2007


While I got my "compose page" working (and my composure together for that matter) I thought I'd better peck out (and peck out fast!) that Wednesday Evening Post I promised yesterday. Yes, even after a hard day at the salt mines and fighting off the ever-approaching Sandman I still feel it's my blog-bound DUTY to deliver a fresh and information-bubbling post your way! True it may read like a book report of THE THREE MUSKETEERS written by Beaver Cleaver done after watching the movie version with Don Ameche and the Ritz Brothers on tee-vee finished at four in the morning, but after this goes through my cursory ten revisions to clean up awkward passages and occasional mis-spellings it'll merely look rancid! Well, what were you expecting, THE AESTHETICS OF ROCK???

Various Artists-MESSTHETICS---D.I.Y. 78-81 LONDON #'s 101 and 102 CDs (Hyped2Death)

In my ever-reaching attempts to seek out just about every decent application of the Velvet Underground credo from late-sixties innovation up through early-eighties capitulation I search far and wide for even the minutest of unknown groupings that seemed to have wooshed past the radarscope of even the most diligent of collectors. And as far as such wooshings go the groups on these two MESSTHETICS volumes sure seemed to miss the big English indie sweepstakes targets because except for a few fave-raves like the Homosexuals and Astronauts I don't think ANY of the bands here got their wares peddled in either the Rough Trade, Small Wonder or Systematic catalogs that were winging their way to my door back during those best/worst of times early-eighties.

And yeah, this British brand of punk (or [ech!] "post"-punk if you so desire) ain't exactly my cup of tea, or let's just say that it hasn't been that strong a force in my life ever since I began seeing the once-interesting groups on the Rough Trade label sink slower and slower into the eighties mire or better yet after I got hold of my first issue of KICKS magazine, but I always like to check in on these obscuros once in awhile just to see if I remembered this stuff as the brilliant garage rock it was or the cloying art project it became.

After listening to these two sides a number of times I gotta come to the conclusion that British (post)-punk was both smart garage rock and boring art pop depending on the group and the time and just how "socialist" the band members were feeling at the time. Much of this MESSTHETICS stuff has that entertaining sense of on-target BLOG TO COMM-approved suburban-slob appeal (do they have suburbs in England, or at least trashy ones like they do here?)...I really enjoyed Metrophase (with Swell Maps involvement, and that used to mean something twenny-five years back!) and their Velvets-drone sound not to mention the previously-unreleased Syrups track which reminds me of latterday MX-80 of all groups with that Stim-like sax sound. And if you like everything from not only the Velvets but Stooges, Hawkwind, the Heartbreakers and "quirky English pop" you'll bound to be happy with a nice portion of these platters. However, I'd be lying if I didn't tell you that I could hear the roots of a lotta that sappy AM-pop "new wave" of the '82/'83-era here which certainly didn't do my tummy any good either then or now, and at times whole passages just zoom by me just like all those strident anti-BLACK/BLOG TO COMM attacks o'er the years and that's really saying something! Still, like its Amerigan cousin HOMEWORK, not to mention about a thousand similar-intent samplers that have been getting pushed on us threadbare punques the past two decades, it's a better'n usual place to snatch up rarities you were too stupid to snarf back in the early-eighties when they were going for mere pennies!

David Peel-LIVE AT CBGB CD (Captain Trip Japan)

I remember seeing this guy's wares in the record bins of the early-seventies figuring he was some radical agitating hippie type you read about in MAD and left it at that. Later on when I'd pour over volumes of magazoons rock and otherwise searching for about as much punk background as I could find with my limited resources I discovered that David Peel not only used to play Max's Kansas City (hip hangout of the stars, or at least ROCK SCENE said so!) back in those very same album bin browsing days but took to the stage of not only that club but friendly rival CBGB's during the punk-active latter portion of that decade! Guess what...on those mere credentials Peel became a punk icon par excellence!!! Well, it sure seemed like the SANE thing to think even back then...

Even long after the high-energy days of the late-seventies when Peel was trying to pass himself off as a bona-fide punk with his band Death and a not-so-subtle play for local supremacy with an album entitled KING OF PUNK (title track name-dropped everyone from the Dolls to the Ramones, Talking Heads and Shirts!) he could be seen either at CB's proper or one of their sister stages next door. (I caught him and some acoustic guitarist during a benefit show at the CB's 313 Gallery on the first anniversary of September 11th starting off with a very nice and even moving number ending with impassioned cries of "God bless America" before tearing into Peel's "Peanut Butter"-inspired anthem "I Like Marijuana" and I was really impressed as if I were some thirteen-year-old hearing it all for the first time in my life!) This disc was recorded at CBGB's sometime in '98 and features not only the latest incarnation of "The Lower East Side" but all of the same well-roasted chestnuts Peel's been doing for the past four decades with that same wonderfully doltish primitivism that had Ken Barnes call THE POPE SMOKES DOPE an album sans any redeeming social value. Peel and his band crank out the familiar riffs while a whole choir helps in the chanting, and even though Peel still proudly proclaims himself a hippie you know he's punk rock alla way. He even did his rare late-seventies indie punk single side "Junk Rock" here plus Joey Ramone's pictured on the front cover standing right next to a peace-sign flashing Peel! I know that everyone from Robert Christgau to Lester Bangs have written about the strange twains of hippiedom and punks meeting, but maybe it all boils down to this one picture!

I WANNA BE YOUR DOG #4 (French punk fanzine from 1977)

In the tradition of ROCK NEWS came I WANNA BE YOUR DOG, a proud Gallic fanzine dedicated to all of those great also-ran punk rock bands not only local, but English and Amerigan as well. The French, contrary to public opinion usually spouted off by vengeful Amerigans, always had a good ear for the high-energy sounds and besides appreciating the finer aspects of garage music produced a fine crop of their own as a slew of Skydog samplers would lead one to believe.

This here #4's all in French (there was an edition published in the Amerigan language that came outta El Lay with various BACK DOOR MAN contributors helping out), and besides featuring stuff on the usual fanzine fodder of the day (like the Stooges and Patti Smith) IWBYD'd also slip pertinent bits of info in on big stars like Todd Rundgren, Frank Zappa and David Bowie just like a lotta their Amerigan cousins making this mag the logical extension of DENIM DELINQUENT! Kinda wish I could read the text which seems to be filled with the same manic zeal of the great US gonzo reads like DD, and while I'm at it I wish I could hear some of the French punk bands mentioned in these pages like European Son and Pain Head who seem to have that great Velvets wide-eyed wonder that I've been on the hunt for lo these many years. Heck, it even says here that Pain Head used to cover "Sweet Bonnie Brown" which is one Velvets song nobody even dare talk about let alone cover which only adds to even more punk credibility on their part! And for the prurient amongst us there is, accompanying a Patti Smith interview, a negative of a nude photo of her and I gotta say she looks better this way!

As you probably would expect this far down the line, these trips down memory lane are even more inspirational than a sermon by William Burroughs because they not only bring back all of those fond recollections of the power that garage rock had for more'n THIS overweight pimplefarm, but they serve to remind me as to just how weak and ineffectual the groups that came in the wake of the seventies punks actually are. You don't have to know the French language to enjoy IWBYD (and I doubt that it would even help!)...just stare lovingly at the pictures and text while spinning your classic '77 sides of a wide variety of acts both major label and not, and you too will see just how lame and predictable rock writing in any language has become lo these many years!


Dennis said...

RE: your blog bound duty
KUDOS. I just found your blog and look forward to digging through the archives.

btw, what is the scoop about "Sweet Bonnie Brown?"

Fred said...

In an ideal America, the '08 race for president would be between Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich. Get ready for Hillary's 3rd term.