THE RETURN OF THE BLOG TO COMM VINYL LISTENING PARTY PART TWO!
Hah! Here I go celebrating my return to the wunnerful world o' vinyl and not one of you avid (and I thought astute) BLOG TO COMM readers dared congratulate me for making my great step backwards into early-fifties technological conquests! Well, just for that here's the SECOND PART of my thankfully continuing re-emergence into archaic longplaying monstrosities (and their recent exhumations thanks to the hard-working efforts of a few luddite record companies out there)...hope that serves you right! (Anyway, howd'ja like the way I scattered the pix of various el-pees in question directly below in a nice fit of abstract expressionism on dis here blog??? 'n besides, I wuz too lazy to stick the pix directly by the review of said rec in question!)
The Jacks-THE JACKS SHOW (Orange Doubledome, Japan?)
Les Rallizes Denudes-DEEPER THAN THE NIGHT (Echo From the Earth Productions, country of origin unknown)
From the land o' the rising sum (of money usually needed to procure such occidently rare booty) come these two not-so-recent acquisitions. The Jacks one was bought on a whim which is strange even for me esp. since I got burnt on a few of their more-recent Cee-Dee reissues which didn't quite hit the hallowed heights of late-sixties punkist euphoria I had been hoping for. As it turns out, this offering (which captures the band at their second live outing July 24 1968) is a whole lot better whether it be as a representation of the Jacks in the raw or just as a plain representation thank you. True this platter does have the seemingly prerequisite Far Eastern ballads heard on more'n a few of these Japanese endeavors (I call it the Kyu Sakamoto effect), but the Jacks certainly do transcend all Asian notions of "cultured" music with their generally energetic romps ranging from the folk-rocking-ish settings (complete with acoustic bass) to the psychedelic moments which have a beautiful surge to them bringing to mind everything from the best that the San Francisco ballroom scene hadda offer to even the East Coast warpage of none other'n the V****t U*********d (name censored in order to ward off the immediate mis-connotation of what that name doth aroused in the post-REM world). An outta nowheresville surprise that comes in a honest-to-goodness pop art sleeve that folds out into a poster in one of the best el-pee packages experienced since the Deviants' PTOOFF!, Alice Cooper's SCHOOL'S OUT and this one album that had a peelable Andy Warhol banana on the front of it.
As for longtime faves Les Rallizes Denudes, DEEPER THAN THE NIGHT are nothing but yet another rehashing of those tracks done during the group's brief "acoustic" period in '70 that appeared for a short time awhile back, most recently on the TWIN SILVER double-set (google this site for a review) and has hardly anything to do with the ferocious sear of the electrified Denudes that can be heard on a wide assortment of recordings both available and not. Those who've had the opportunity to hear SILVER won't necessarily need or perhaps even want this album (which does tinkle about in the well of the aforementioned Sakamoto effect) but neophytes will just love osmosing to the thing at least for the side long early version of longtime show-stopper "The Last One" which sounds nada like the familiar thud of old but closer to this rise and fall track called "Heroin" (complete with congas approximating blood rush!) that appeared on that one album by some band or other complete with this peelable banana onna front and a snap of future Magic Tramp Eric Emerson onna back.
***Umela Hmota-BARBARA (Globus International, Czech Republic)
Mahogany Brain-SOME COCKTAIL SOLUTIONS (Fractal, France)
Since I grouped the first two albums together due to not only the country of their origin but their general psychadelicament, I thought I'd scrunch these together because they in fact both are reunion albums by groups who in the pre-punk seventies were more or less "known" in their respective European provinces for performing a brand of underground rock that for all intent purposes wouldn't proliferate for at least another good three/five years, at which point it remained unpopular but at least more people were in on the unpopularity of it all!
You all know the saga of Umela Hmota, or at least you should know about it having read my various past writeups on them whether it be via this blog or in my fanzine. Anyway this '90 reunion disc of theirs remained a pretty hard bugger to latch paws upon ever since its release, and even with the downfall of that very same Soviet Empire that many of you more "enlightened" readers remember with fondness and nostalgia such offerings remain verboten here in the former free world. And although only a few choice members remain from the original group (most notably lead singer Milan "Dino" Volpalka, who I assume is now the ONLY original member of Umela Hmota remaining), much of the same spirit of the group remains even with the advent of clean recording techniques and advanced musical prowess. Sad to say, but as a result of this upgrade in quality the original Stooge-thud of the band has been replaced by a smoother, at times almost proggy sound which I would credit to not only the tighter performance but the proliferation of flute, an instrument not unknown to the original UH but used to max effect on this platter! Nothing to retch at mind you, because if you like the way krautrock melded primitive punk rock and smartsy avantness you'll probably like BARBARA to the max. It actually does sound fine snuggled twixt a Neu!/Faust/Amon Duul teutonofest and even if you mix it up with a buncha more familiar Amerigan garage band classics it should hold up fine.
The Mahogany Brain release from '05 was a surprise enough, since I never thought that infamous post-beat poet Michel Bulteau (France's answer to William Burroughs?) would ever reunite with his former group given that he was recording solo albums with the likes of Elliot Murphy and the omnipresent Ernie Brooks backing him up. And I was especially surprised when I saw that Patrick Geoffris, who had been dead 'n gone for quite a long time, was back in the lineup playing bass guitar! Well, no wonder, since it's more'n obvious that the majority of this un's nothing but reshaped/rechanneled old recordings from '70 played frontwards and backwards and sampled/overdubbed to the point where this might as well be an all-original album! Not only that, but on "Strange Apartment" I coulda sworn somebody threw a bit of "Sister Ray" into the mix which would have surprised me twennysome years back but today merely makes me go "oh!" Now don't get me wrong, this ain't some cheap-o studio jag like they used to do with Stooges albums in the eighties to pass 'em off as demos 'r the like, but if in fact this was recorded in Paris March '05 like the cover notes say then I'm Dave Lang's favorite French tickler!
***THE ORKUSTRA (Red Lounge, Switzerland)
Mansonoids probably already have that special 2-CD issue of Bobby Beausoliel's LUCIFER RISING soundtrack with the additional platter consisting of vintage Summer o' Love San Francisco recordings that were recently uncovered by future It's A Beautiful Day violinist David La Flamme, but in case you're still hungerin' for more or just missed out on the fun here's an el-pee's worth of stuff that either didn't make the cut or got chopped up due to time constraints. Actually the Orkustra were a nice slice of what else was going on in San Francisco during the not-too-late-sixties glory days with a pretty pleasing jazzy/mideast style coupled with more'n decent sound quality that brings back the ambience of those ancient halls that housed these young upstarts. And as a surprise, this even comes complete with a twennysome-minute jam from St. John's Cathedral onna flipside that won't make you go "ahhhhh" or anything but does tend to enthrall once in awhile. Now that Beausoliel's a free man all I gotta wonder is...is he gonna do something like reform (the Orkustra, that is?) or return to a life of murder? If it's the latter...all I gotta say is there are plenty more Hinmans out there just begging to be offed, if ya know what I mean! (Heeee, can't any of ya readers take a joke?)
***QUICKSILVER MESSENGER SERVICE RECORDED LIVE IN SAN JOSE CALIFORNIA, 1966 (Groucho bootleg, Germany)
Hmmmm, maybe I shouda grouped this one in with the Orkustra disc given their San Fran connections, but then again I was planning on saving this 'un for a future review where I was gonna group it in with another SF bunch who have been compared to the Quicksilver guys on more'n a few occasions. Anyway, some of you'll remember this particular bootleg being reviewed in the final issue of BOMP as part of their article on the then-current state of boots, and even a few more of you'll also recall that the Groucho label outta Germany that issued this longplayer was devoted to making these sixties psychosockic gems even more available to the unwashed masses albeit at then-exaggerated prices (like $25 a pop, and this was in '79!), they having also issued the famous 13th Floor Elevators live at the Avalon album that Moxie later on re-booted as their own! As it stands this Quicksilver outing recorded during the still-fruitful year of '66 ain't quite up to Elevator standards but it's a nice one nonetheless with original vocalist Jim Murray still in tow and hot flash jamz extant on such old chestnuts as "Mona," "Smokestack Lightning" and "Who Do You Love." Not all of the crazed magic that could be found in the area at the time transposes to this platter, but as Gene Sculatti (via Mike Snider) said, I guess you hadda be there. And hope that the weird guy sitting next to you passes some Orange Sunshine your way.
***John McLaughlin-WHERE FORTUNE SMILES (Get Back, Italy)
Sonny Sharrock/Peter Brotzmann-FRAGMENTS (DDL)
The pairing of these two jazz guitarists might just have me digging out my copy of Wayne Shorter's SUPERNOVA to give another spin one of these afternoons, but for now we'll concentrate on these platters, the first being a session originally led by John Surnam but credited to McLaughlin because his name'll sell many more of these slabs he being a major label recording giant and all. But yeah, it's a decent enough early avant garde session featuring some of the better European players of the day like the extremely-busy Karl Berger (who must have rivalled Jeanne Lee as far as omnipresence goes) getting into the late-sixties groove as only these Euros can and although I found myself thumbing my way through old issues of TV GUIDE at some parts on side one that's how non-plussed I was I should say that I found the flip rather enlightening throughout. I guess maybe my musical eye or whatever the hippoids call it needs some adjustment after all, but it is a definite keeper!
The Sharrock/Brotzmann disc is a recent release of a live '89 at the "Elbo Room" gig featuring half of the seminal Last Exist playing some hefty experimental jass that for some unknown reason has (along with about a million other crucial live gigs) remained buried until now. Sharrock actually plays nice and restrained albeit still in free form while Brotzmann does his best to clear out the blockage clogging up your creative passages. A fun time seems to have been had by all, only making me want to hear much more of the chronic bleat that free jazz as been producing for a much longer time than any of us would care to imagine.
***MUSSORGSKY'S HEAD (London)
I recently re-read the FUSION magazine review of these Orphic Egg releases and marvelled at the foolhardy and ridiculous things that some labels would do in order to move their back catalogs. Yet on the other hand it seemed logical enough...after all, if modern rock was borrowing from classical and avant garde forms wouldn't it seem smart for labels like London to push their highbrow wares on the new youth market or for Mainstream to hype their reissues of the Time label avant garde catalog to the acid rock contingent? And who could really fault London for hiring the hip rock critic scum of the day to do the liner notes like they did with Lester Bangs here on this reissue of various Mussorgsky trackage repackaged with about the same amount of care as any pop label collection tossout that would come to mind? I mean, wouldn't you think that having the Bangs imprimatur on such a disc, even if it is the original longhair sound, is just about as hip as having Richard Meltzer make a halfway-decent set of bubblepop by the Innocence downright underground with the inclusion of his own notes? I wonder how many copies of MUSSORGSKY'S HEAD ended up in record collections snuggled between FUNHOUSE and NUGGETS anyway?
Of course Bangs' notes are hootier 'n a barn owl as he cruises and careens all through an El Cajon childhood of album collecting and ruminating about the wide array of music that made up his manhood and yeah, these notes do make MUSSORGSKY'S HEAD hot CREEM-fodder if only by default. Maybe there is an underground charm to it all, though perhaps it's the side of Bangs that got a kick outta those classical Deep Purple albums that permeates through this writeup. And hey, ya gotta admit that the music is similar to a lotta the hot pretensioso prog rock of the day, and given that Emerson Lake and Palmer made mucho making mincemeat outta this music sometimes it is hard telling where the classical ends and the rock starts! If you're a fan of the whole ELP/Yes genre then just consider this stuff the same toonz played on acoustic instruments of yore and yer in luck! If you're classically inclinded then just shudder o'er the fact that your longhair and theirs have intermingled to the point where the Moody Blues and Ian Anderson have appeared with symphony orchestras thus making all of those parental taunts about how much that progressive rock music was NOT for the ages a lotta hooey! But in all, MUSSORGSKY'S HEAD kinda makes me glad I ignored my elders' pleas to listen to this "cultured" junk 'n headed straight for the wild reaches of energy music! I mean, could you actually imagine a LOU REED'S HEAD neural implant heading our way a good hundred years from now?
***Frut-SPOILED ROTTEN (Westbound)
Closing out today's soiree's an oldie that I latched onto about twenny years back. The guy who sold it to me said "Chris, I hate this one so you gotta like it!" and although I really didn't hop-skip-and-jump over these Frut guys (who used the umlaut over their "u" before Blue Oyster Cult did!) I thought they deserved a chance given their Detroit rock city moves even if they were a halfway-there act in the high energy Detroit Rock sweepstakes. Besides, I heard the Frut used to engage in wild antics a la the rest of the Michigan monsters and even shot arrows into the air from the stage, and although I don't know what that signifies it sure makes me wish I had thought of a stunt like that!
Still, the fifties revival tracks aren't quite there...one or two would have been nice but since most of these tracks are old timey covers even I gotta say that Sha-Na-Na had these Motor City Mungoids beat. The originals are iffy..."Freckles On Her Butt" is Commander Cody-inspired country twang and would have suited that group better, although I really must say that I liked "Snatch 'n Grabit" esp. after Metal Mike Saunder's review in an old SHAKIN' STREET GAZETTE (retrievable via Rock's Back Pages if you so desire to spend the loot) which draws comparisons to that'n the early V****t U*********d. 'n yeah, I can hear V****ts '66 when L*u and company would do the r&b thing real New York sleaze-like (check bootlegs for evidence) but whether or not Frut consciously lifted the sound is hard to say. I put my money on the latter and for a nice cheap time of it maybe you should put as little dough as possible on a copy for yourself.
***FINAL SLICE OF PERTINENT POLITICALLY-CHARGED UPHEAVAL NEWS: I gotta say that it's beyond believable seeing my main man Rep. Ron Paul in the spotlight these days, even if it isn't as bright as I or he would like it to be getting all of that publicity with his antiwar stumping and putting forth of his purely libertarian/"true"-right wing principles like he has ever since entering the presidential race and ultimately debates. (Like I said, he is a much better option for president of these here United States than the hideous grandstanding [and career-ruining] Rudy Guiliani, who one so-called "libertarian" [y'know, the kind who actually likes a Trotskyite such as the insufferable Christopher Hitchens!] is actually championing to the hilt!) It's even wilder to see the rank and file republicans, who seem more like a pack of bloodthirsty wolves given their pro-war mania even this late in the game go after him to the point where they'd like to see Paul excluded from future Republican debates which really must be saying something...good about Paul that is! Considering how the republicans for the most part have lost all shards of dignity, not that they really had that much to bein with, it's great to see a real maverick shaking things up and since things really need to shaken up for the better these days what better man to do it than none other'n Dr. Paul!
But seeing clips of the Good Doctor on Youtube and watching him battle it out with comparative ninnies like Bill Maher is really life-reaffirming especially here in the beyond plastic new millenium (and especially when he makes his interviewers look like the total fools they are), and for once I am thankful that such a wild card as Paul is running for the White House and making a lotta people on both sides of the aisle look positively subhuman in the process and really, who else is doing just the same thing in these rather placid times?
Now Paul has about as much chance of becoming president as J. Neo Marvin has of writing a coherent rock & roll song but who reading the blog wouldn't mind seeing the man stir up the bees like he did on Fox News after the first republican candidate debate (y'know, the one with the rather nauseating Guiliani grandstanding ploy directed against Paul's on-target assessments of the current Mideast crisis which got the audience all aflutter...even though Paul pretty much won the post-debate poll beating out the former mayor hands down!) when Sean Hannity (and not liberal co-host Alan Colmes, who only felt it proper to question Paul about his pro-life views) tore into Paul for his anti-Iraq invasion and generally anti-war philosophies which had the republican being joined on the defensive by Colmes which must have been a television first! Kinda reminds me of the time when Pat Buchanan won the Vermont primary back in '92 and all the media machines on both the left and right began smearing him for infractions mostly imagined! Well...smear on! If Bush is merely the Woodrow Wilson of the 21st century with his new variation on the old "War To End All Wars" riff (though I gotta admit I like Bush's style just for being so inarticulate and one-note thud which is refreshing after a few centuries of pathetic political pandering!), then Paul is Barry Goldwater, bound to go down in flames but from those flames will arise a new Phoenix that I'm sure will change the course of politics and perhaps our ideas of political persuasions for many years to come.
And while I'm at it, I gotta crow like a cock'n say that at least one sorry prediction came true when I mentioned back in November that all those democrats you libs voted in wouldn't have the werewithall to end the war or make vast changes on the political scene. Coming in like a buncha conquering hoardes, the dems have turned into the true chickens they are with their rampant cave-ins and general disarray which even I am surprised to have seen happen to a political movement that seemed so sure of itself only a few months back. At least the democrats are thankfully refraining from making all of those cliched showbiz generalities about the "common man" and other heartbleed nausea which is sure pleasing on the ears, but with the donkey party sorta fidgeting around trying to look "patriotic" and the republicans lambasting their only true light while refusing to see the ship they're on is sinking just as fast as their opponents', all I gotta say is this dumb and dumber contest is going to look a lot more interesting as election time once again rears its ugly head.
And (in case you don't get the message by this point in time)...come primary time VOTE FOR THIS GUY!!! I mean, you can stand to become a republican just this once cantcha??? After yer done switch back to whaddeva ya were...I won't tell anyone!
(Next post...BLOG TO COMM's vinyl seven-incher listening party!)