THE RETURN OF THE BLOG TO COMM VINYL LISTENING PARTY!
I'm so happy that I could just fart for joy over the re-emergence of vinyl supremacy into my otherwise jaded life. Yes, for way too long I, your faithful BLOG TO COMM scriber, have been without the benefit of good ol' long playing album-type records (which I gotta say, after years of painful and prudent study, are a vastly superior form of BLOG TO COMM-approved soundscapading patterns o'er the now-dominant digital format if only for the purer analog sound not to mention the giganto-in-comparison visual aspects of the covers), and now that I got my Christmas gift (a cheap-o combo turntable/ cassette/CD/radio box housed in a genuine molded imitation wood box) unpacked and plunked smack-dab-inna-middle-uvva basement alongsides my bulging album/seven-inch collection it's just like the good ol' days when I'd sneak away from the family argument 'n blast a few minutes of MARS in order to express a few non-verbal attitudes of my own! And true, these new turntables sure ain't like the old 'uns of yore and sound pretty draboid in comparison to those megabuck monstrosities that used to be advertised in HIGH FIDELITY, but since I never had a real stereo system of my own 'n in fact for umpteen years used to play my disques on a turntable hitched up to a boom box which has only recently been retired to the trash heap, it's not like I'm taking any gigantic steps forwards or backwards technology-wise so what should I care anyway?
So, for the sake of brevity, here are but three of the platters I've been spinning ever since I got my retro-table in gear this past week...of course I was listening to more'n just this trio of musical mayhemsters during that brief period of time but I've chosen to write up these three and these three only because I think I've digested them enough to the point where I can write hopefully coherent descriptions as to their why's and wherefores, what I thought about 'em, and why I was stupid enough to dish out the moolah that vinyl seems to be commanding in an age when it, like it or not, is pretty much a dim reminder of that decadent past that many of you readers yearn and crave for!
Jango Edwards and the Friends Roadshow-LIVE IN EUROPE LP (Polydor Holland)
If the old saying "curiosity killed the cat" were true, then you could probably expect heaping piles of decaying felines cluttered about the Stigliano abode! Yeah I gotta admit that sometimes there's a small nagging whether it be about a band, an era, a work of art or artist, a television show or even a logo drilling through my head like an earwig, and though the hankerin' for whatever gulcherally-significant icon there may be might start off small and relatively insignificant, you can betcha dollars-to-dildos that given enough time this slight curiosity will more or less snowball into something gigundo beyond the realm of your comprehensibility if not mine. It could be about anything from an old tee-vee show theme/opening schpiel (like the one from some local television public affairs program called ROVING CAMERA (hosted by a Stu Wilson in case that means anything to ya) that aired on channel 27 in Youngstown which scared me silly as a toddler even accounting for one humongous nightmare I had during those best/worst of times pre-school days) to a long-forgotten commercial or band or whatever hits the popster pleasure center in the brain, and as you've already guessed I've had some pretty strong obsessions, nay, cravings o'er the years with regards to everything from comic strips to rock bands to Japanese women that I just can't beat outta my system no matter how hard I try...not that I'd exactly want to! (I mean, I used to wonder exactly what Rocket From the Tombs' take of "Sonic Reducer" sounded like for years, even experiencing these vibrations via a 1984 dream where a METALLIC KO-quality tape of the thing put to shame the eventual live at the Piccadilly take that's now widely available!) I dunno just why I have these undying obsessions regarding a whole slew of pop-significant goodies and had them for a good many years as well...it could be because I do value the baby boomer sense of trash that I experienced the tail end of, or maybe there's some chemical mixup in my system I never outgrew, but whatever, if you don't have the same sense of musical wonderment and retro sense of awe that I've immersed myself in for many a year, then I don't blame you for not understanding or being copasetic with anything I've written about sound patterns or suburban brat television viewing for the past quarter-century. In fact I don't even see why you'd wanna read this blog at all, and if this is indeed the case may I recommend that you abandon reading BLOG TO COMM as quickly and as promptly as possible and re-direct yourself to one of many superficial, one-dimensional blogs out there in internet-land that are more suitable to your, ahem, shallowness. Not that I don't mind shallowness...in fact I will admit that I wallow in it myself, but at least mine is of a purer nature than the mindless shallow thoughts and values so in-vogue these rather timid times.
So where does that put JANGO EDWARDS AND THE FRIENDS BAND anyway? Well, I was pretty anxious as to hear what that sorta act would've sounded like especially after I discovered that this Edwards guy, given my (as you know) extreme interest in the underground rock scenes of the seventies, ended up on a Max's Kansas City bill either '76 or '77 (not quite sure which since I can't find my handy-dandy 1958-1990 instant calendar disc) for two nights straight, one with the Cramps and Suicide opening and the other with famed ex-Dolls metal/pop act the Brats in the warm-up slot. And out of pure adventure (and given my aforementioned obsessions regarding certain aspects of mid-seventies New York rock scene shenanigans) I ran the Edwards name through my faverave search engine only to find out that the guy indeed had a past, and in fact had gained some notoriety not exactly on the rock scene but as a clown which only made my curiosity a little more...curiouser in typical Lewis Carroll fashion.
Which is why I actually dished out the double-digit ($16 or so not inc. p&h) prices that I did for this disque...when it comes to memeME such curiousities die hard and I figured that it would be a lot more fun for me to buy one of the guys' albums rather'n sit and stew over what might have transpired on that New York night way back during the height of perhaps the last big rockism movement to grace this planet earth ever! After all, thoughts of underground rock and Velvetisms abounding all over the place still get me as hot and bothered as it did way back when I was first discovering this stuff, and if this Jango person was cool enough to get booked at perhaps "thee" watering hole for proto-punk hipsterisms back then perhaps it was worth the time and effort to search one of his platters out. 'r it least it couldn't hurt me that much or something else in my head which justified my dishing out all dem bucks on an act I hardly knew anything about!
Hmmmm...interesting enough cover here, although typically European budget/middle-of-the-road cheap looking. Nothing that was going to appeal to the rock crowd at the time with a more adult/contempo look to it that I would surmise was created to lure in the Burt Kaempfert schmoozers. Front cover had this Jango character in a very basic clown getup (just white lips and brief eyebrow paint...nothing Bozo-esque mind you!) while on the back he's made to look like a Jesus Christ imitation complete with red nail marks on his palms. Looks like it's gonna be a loooong night either way, although the gatefold snaps of him as a fifties rocker, a nudist with fig leaf and bad-taste gameshow host do look like the kinda hip boho fodder that the gang at Max's would've been eating up not only during the punk-active days of '76 but during the earlier portion of that decade when cheap pose was seemingly more important than substantial musical credo!
Twas recorded late '79 so maybe it ain't that far outside the realm of proto-punk mania or at least the same sorta cool New York atty-tood that had the crowds running to see John Waters' BB Steele Revue with Edith Massey at CBGB and Max's around the same time Edwards was tearing up the latter joint. And judging from the sounds that are found herein I sure could understand Edwards and band's potential appeal for the hip-de-la-creme of New York highlife with his brand of clown-rock which does go for the ol' outrageousness yet somehow even appeals (at times) to a prudish baldoid like myself who does have a soft spot in my listening parameters for various seventies sounds and ideas that seemed to have vanished from the face of the earth when the eighties clocked in and everything seemed to be put into lockdown!
Recorded live at the Paradiso in Amsterdam (famed hip club inna city where the Amerigan Edwards had set up shop), LIVE IN EUROPE opens with a James Brown spoof/tribute which I gotta credit Edwards for since Brown-mania, at least on gnu wave turf, didn't really rear its lillywhite head until a good two years later. And from there its up and down through a variety of hits and gross misses including the aforemtioned Christ "parody" entitled "Jesus H. Christ" (which also plays on THE TONIGHT SHOW complete with "Pope John Paul George Ringo" as Ed McMahon...and were people in Holland even aware as to what what that program was all about???) and a Bogart/private eye (or "dick" as the storyline goes in order to toss a lotta VD jokes about) skit that maybe is one step above Alice Cooper's LACE AND WHISKEY but given the nostaligic clime of the times it ain't that much diff 'n a whole lotta similar (read: hackneyed) routines of the day. Maybe going to see Edwards (especially in the hip confines of a Max's) would have been a much better experience even with all of the telegraphed-ahead anti-religious outrage and really not-that-funny teen-angst song regarding a gal who died of flatulence(!), but gimme enough drinks and I'd probably be cheering along with the crowd at every bitta puton outrageousness. Of course I'd feel guilty when I sobered up, but then again I'm sure a good portion of the audience there would too!
I will admit that this album is a (possible) keeper and yeah, my curiousity after all these months is sate, but was it really worth the death of another tabby to find all of this out? Oh well, good thing I hate cats! Maybe I should purchase a whole bunch of these seventies obscurities and forgotten slabs of musical mayhem and knock off an entire litter for once!!!
***FUGS 4, ROUNDERS SCORE LP (ESP-Disk)
Here's one I recall popping up in just about every record hangout that I inhabited during my mid-seventies days of kiddie rage, usually snuggled neatly next to the live GOLDEN FILTH disc which for some unknown reason remained in print that far down the line while the rest of the Fugs catalog was left to fizzle out into used record shop obscurity. But getting real for a minute lemme say that I didn't think that many people would've still been interested in the Fugs during the definitely post-radical days of '75, but I guess that even in the hazy Gerald Ford clime there would be an audience for these sex-mad rock maniacs extant. Even if this album was a mish-mash of previously-released Fug-dom with some new matter tossed in you could bet that it would be selling faster'n KY in San Fran, at least amongst those few remaining White Panther types not to mention a few hidebound leftovers down on the commune. And of course a whole lotta them punks might just dig into it to, at least for the primitive mania of it all.
In actuality, FUGS 4, ROUNDERS SCORE's a nice slab of early Fug consciousness with some of the better moments from their ESP days mixed in with ne'er before heard garbage mostly of a Holy Modal Rounders variety (hence the title). A lot of this, like the original "Romping Through The Swamp" and "Fiddler a Dram" have to my not-so-expansive knowledge been reissued, and even the Tuli Kupferberg-inked "Jackoff Blues" didn't get stuck on one of those recent Fugshumations that I wrote about only a few years back like I thought it would've. (There's a version of this particular tune on that band-issued live disque from over a decade back, but it doesn't have the same cheap ESP sound that made the Godz sound like the Mahavishnu Orchestra in comparison.) And to top it off, the whole thing comes in a classic cheap ESP sleeve that really ain't that brilliant an excursion (after all, MAD did the abstract art by a chimp routine way back in '57!) but given ESP's numbered days I can forgive 'em.
***3/3-SANBUN NO SAN LP (Shadoks England)
At last, a recent release! Well, not that recent because as far as I know this 'un's already sold out (only 300 were pressed anyway), but if you don't have it boy have you missed a lot! Anyway, you all know about my love of proto-punk, early-Velvets homage and New York hijinx...well, this one has it all and not only that, but it has some of those boss Japanese underground rock connections that have made my listening experiences a little more engaging the past four or so years!
Here's the deal...the group 3/3 (featuring two bonafide rock icons, Reck of Teenage Jesus/Friction fame and Higo Hiroshi from the early Contortions) were wallowing around in the mid-seventies Tokyo underground when this live acetate was recorded 1/75 in what was undoubtedly a vain attempt to garner more giggage. And given not only the group's future credentials but their undying devotion to an early-Velvet Underground style (and not the pencil-thin drone of a host of latterday practitioners, the retching X-tal naturally coming to mind) you can tell that this one is a wowzer-par-excellence thanks to the rough sound (taken directly from that aforementioned acetate) to the high-energy squeal of the thing that makes me wonder why the band snaps onna back cover of this high-quality item show the group in typical '77 punk pose when in fact the music speaks more of an early-seventies hard blare that seems to owe more to the whacked out US scenes as opposed to the English answer...I'm talking Rocket From the Tombs and Simply Saucer (OK they're Canadian, but I think you get the drift!) amongst a load of others who have that heavy power surge near and dear to their ever-lovin' hearts (and, if you are a Limey Lover, the likes of Crushed Butler on an art rock trip might come to mind!).
Even on the weeper these guys can exude the sorta high-energy that's always made ballads rock with total force (such as on "Miriam," the closer from that great debut of an LP by Hydra on Capricorn records if you can imagine that!). Heavy-duty power rock here that only comes about once in awhile, and I only pity you if you missed out on this rarity because who knows if it'll ever make it out our way again? Maybe Shadoks'll reish the thing on (gulp!) Cee-Dee with additional tracks and a band history. Now I could go for something like that!
***More vinyl writeups next go 'round? I sure hope so (got about a year and a half of purchases to comb my way through!). Anyway, until then, howzbout hitting Youtube for some fine family entertainment like I do? I've been whiling away the hours on this site as of late, not only watching a whole load of old rock & roll clips (current faves, Thirteenth Floor Elevators, Turtles, Barbarians, Can, Guru Guru and Fugs natch!) but classic tee-vee as well! It's sure grand being able to switch on a HONEYMOONERS episode when I feel like it, not to mention an old TALES OF THE RIVERBANK (which I loved at age four but thought total kid stuff by the time I hit twelve!) and SOUPY SALES!!! And they say internet ain't worth its weight in salt either! Oh well, if we need any vast wastelands, it's good to know that we've got one at our fingertips!