Sunday, June 10, 2007

BLOGNESS ABOUNDS!

I'd offer another free back issue to the first person who writes in telling me where I derived today's post title from, but I know this one is too easy. Anyway, given that this week wasn't as rockism-packed as previous ones there ain't that much to rah-rah about here in the bleachers, but I guess that with enough padding and longwindedness I can make today's entry just as staid and yawn-inspiring as all of the others!

Television-ADVENTURE CD (Asylum)

Okay, you're probably betting the farm that the only reason I'm reviewing this one is because some guy on a "competing" blog had recently highlighted ADVENTURE as one of those typically predictable milktoast-y followups to magnificent debut albums or something along those lines, and although I'm not the kinda guy who likes to go around looking for fights I gotta admit that sometimes my dander sure get way UP when I read such not-that-thought-out inanities as what this "competitor" doth writ. Don't kill me too much if I'm wrong with regards to the exact quote and intent here (after all, I only peruse said blog occasionally in order to not get said blog's author too "excited" over all of the "hits" he is receiving), but once again I gotta find myself in disagreement with this specific chap with regards to ADVENTURE, the second and final "proper" album by that band of seventies reknown called Television. After all (and it's true!), I've only heard ADVENTURE for the first time this past week (which is the REAL reason I'm writing it up today), and although it's been exactly twenty-nine years between hearing this and its sainted predecessor MARQUEE MOON all I gotta 'fess up to saying is that ADVENTURE is perhaps thee perfect followup to a pretty darn grand debut and anybody who doesn't agree with me is a total wuss loser who can at least comfort himself with his books and his poetry, to forgetting all of those hungry blog sycophants who hang onto his every utterance, metaphor, simile marinated or otherwise and zeugma (or is that smegma???) that might or might not appear on said blogschpieler's site. And in case you're wonderin' why it's taken me so long to purchase this recording given how a band like Television merge confortably with my own sense of rockist values, all I gotta say is poverty sometimes rears its ugly rear and maybe the ol' trust fund ain't as gushin' like it used to be and if your heart still hasn't melted over my life o' misfortune yet...well maybe you should try to survive by picking pennies off the street sometimes!

But rilly, ADVENTURE is such a perfect followup to Television's oft-praised premier that its hard to see how any other recording by this band could have done better. Like the best followups, ADVENTURE avoids falling into debut album cliches (not that I hate cliches, in fact I prefer to wallow in 'em) with a mix of old material that the band had been working out for the past few years tossed in amidst their newer acquisitions and its all wrapped up in a neat mid-late-seventies-styled production that actually makes Television sound not exactly professional but noble...maybe even studied or better yet erotic in the best Jonathan Richman meaning of the term. On ADVENTURE Television don't quite come off like what people were expecting those hyped New York groups to sound like, and in many ways they're closer in general "execution" (of ideas and overall style) to those nth-string bands who were lucky enough to cop a recording contract (anyone willing to tell me if those Cryers albums are worth the hunt? How about Nantucket???) complete with all the wide-eyed mysticism that surrounded the purchase of a record especially for pimplefarm teens like me who could barely afford the loot to sate our over rambunctious habits.

Every track on ADVENTURE is a glorious exploding ruby for sure, though for me the highlights include the chiming guitar lines on "Days" (best invoking of the original Byrds spirit since "I'm Set Free"), the anti-war drill "Foxhole" (which surely puts a whole slew of the hippiepunk spew heard on the subject in its proper agitprop place) and the retro-six-oh pop of "Careful," which is almost as good as that rendition TV laid down at the Piccadilly Penthouse in Cleveland back July '75! Of course nothing on ADVENTURE comes close to how the band did it live but then again what else is old?

Anyone who thinks this is a second elpee lost cause can go stick something else up his already over-traveled hindquarters (like his head!) because ADVENTURE truly is just what its title alludes to...an all-out party for the ears which doesn't let up one bit and once again proves that Television were one of the best "underground" acts to pop out of the Amerigas in the latter portion of those long-reviled seventies. And it just makes me wanna hear more 'n more of what that teenage garage band of Television meisters Tom Verlaine and Billy Ficca that supposedly did the ADVENTURE trip back in '65 (!) sounded like...and if stories about pampered high schoolers throwing graduation cake at 'em during their only live appearance was in fact true then they gotta've been THEE punkiest expression in rock/roll to have popped outta the mid-sixties cesspool until the Velvet Underground!

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The Move-MESSAGE FROM THE COUNTRY LP (EMI/Harvest, England)

Here's one of those import bin droolers that I remember wanting to get so bad (probably because of the cool Harvest logo) way back inna day. Well, now that I do own my very own copy of this latterday Move elpee all I gotta say is, I sure woulda appreciated the acquisition back then a whole lot more (when it didn't take that much to please me), but yeah, it does look nice inna collection. Now if I can only invent a time machine so's I can send all of these great albums back to fifteen-year-old ME because I sure coulda used the Move more then than now, as I'm sure we all coulda! But that's just more of my wishful fantasy thinking and after giving this 'un a spin all I gotta say is that as far as Harvest-period Move go it's better to stick with the budget crankout CALIFORNIA MAN (which is probably still available on Cee-Dee) and forgo seeking out a copy of this proper Move swansong. CALIFORNIA MAN not only has the best tracks from COUNTRY but all the cool non-elpee wonders like "Do Ya" and it rocks solid with all the artzy English pretension left off but the artzy English swank moves left on! Not that COUNTRY is pretentious, but the truck-drivin' song (with drummer Bev Bevan doing as convincing a Southern United States accent as most of those actors you see on PBS britcoms!) fizzles and the rockabilly was done better on the "California Man" proper single. And with the gaudy cover (front looks like it was painted by an art school student EMI probably paid off in albums, back pecked out in typewriter font about one step above a bootleg) all I gotta say is was this really a bargain? But gee, look at all those cool instruments listed next to the names of the three soon-to-be Electric Light Orchestra members!
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Harry Toledo-"Crime Doesn't Pay"/"Story of Love" single (Toledo)

Here's a guy who I gotta admit to digging to the utmost, but even a rockist sleuth such as I must tell ya that finding any solid, usable information on Mr. Toledo is pretty much akin to finding an un-torn sphincter on Castro Street. True he was part of the early New York post-glitter underground scene in New York with appearances on the fabled MAX'S KANSAS CITY VOLUME ONE album and that infamous low-budget scene report of a film THE BLANK GENERATION, but other'n a brief writeup in an old NEW YORK ROCKER not forgetting Fred Kirby's review of a three-piece Toledo band in VARIETY I have found very little on the man although his one-time backing musician Ed Tomney has received plenty of press coverage due to his post-Toledo group the Necessaries, a band that never really excited me although repeated spins may have me thinking otherwise.

I can tell you that the folks at PUNK magazine hated the guy, but then again they disliked a lotta the lower-rung groups that I still hip-hooray over perhaps because these lesser-knowns had more of an allegiance to the mainstream of rockism (with the saving grace of garage band inclinations) than the folks at PUNK cared to be associated with. But still, I will stick up for Toledo when prompted if only for his neat post-Velvets trance-rock style which was most evident on "Knots" from the aforementioned Max's elpee, but shows up again on this recently-discovered platter that I believe was released after his Spy-records EP which was produced by none other than John Cale, a guy whom I would suspect knew what to do with the likes of Toledo even if the resultant EP wasn't as WHITE LIGHT/WHITE HEAT as I would have hoped it to be.

Actually this single does come close to a WL/WH cruncher filtered through "Roadrunner" but it's still wild enough for a guy like me who spent '78/'79 looking for any vestige of the Velvet Underground he could find and in any band reference he could locate with his limited resources. If only I had found this one when it was released, but still it's worth the seek-out for that great riff-rock complete with a Vox organ played by Toledo himself giving it that Cale/Jerry Harrison drive that seems to be void in most post-alternative Velvets homages one has seen since the dread eighties. And yeah, that stuff was "long ago" but that doesn't mean it has to remain in the past! This is everyday current RIGHT NOW! music as far as I'm concerned and if we could only send all that horrid balladeering and hippity hop to the barber shop crap heard today to the past where it can decay with disco the world would be a better place!

Like ADVENTURE, Harry Toledo remains current and "relevant" (in the best, non-hippiest way) in the here and now and as soon as more people being to realize that all that AMERICAN IDOL schmooze is nothing but Patti Page for the new millennium and that rap music is nothing but Kool and the Gang with a thyroid problem maybe we can get back to the core of the matter again. The matter being rock & roll! ('n yeah, I know that yammering on about musical trends that I have no control over that have been wreaking havoc with my ears for a longer time than I can imagine is not only worthless but downright immature as people actually believe that I am a highly respected "rock critic" [which I ain't], but sheesh, letting off steam after a good thirtysome years of osmosing all of the worst, tiredest aspects of what is supposed to pass for music as the soundtrack to our "growing up" or general lifestyles is pretty invigorating if you ask me! After all, having to have put up with disco, breakdancing, baggy pants and pathetic imitation pose passing as honest revolution during the so-called "prime of my life" was bad enough, and sure and shooting I am still mighty pissed that my generation and subsequent ones hadda chose beyond-lame posturing in place on bared-wire intensity!!! And if YOU [upwardly-mobile blog-cruising hotshot musical aficionado] ain't mad yourself, then I must offer congrats for you and your cast-iron sense of anti-life emotions!)
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Screamin' Jay Hawkins-"I Hear Voices"/The Clovertones featuring Esquirita on piano-"Didn't It Rain" single (Norton)


One of the best things about getting an actual turney table to play all of my old wares on is, besides re-discovering a few old friends as well as a few candidates for the sell pile, finally being able to give a listen to some of the items that have been sent my way thanks to the kind thoughts of various record company executives who send me their produce simply because I am me! I mean wow, could you think of a BETTER reason for me to receive all of these gratis albums, singles and even Cee-Dees since I am so humble and lovable in the best Underdog fashion? Of course these same people send me items hot off the presses because they would also like me to review 'em which I try to do, unless I feel like judging books by their covers and unceremoniously throw 'em away or somehow lose these discs in my vast array of vinyl towers hovering in the abode likes skyscrapers along the closing shot of NAKED CITY but really, when I find a recording document worthy of my time and effort to write it up you can bet I will devote a small portion of my precious life to tell you exactly why you should dish out the shekels and obtain a copy for your very own. making myself feel proud and self-worthy in the process as well!

You probably remember my review of the '62 Screamin' Jay Hawkins single that came out on the Enrica label a few posts back. Well, believe it or leave it but I found the a-side (or at least an alternative take of it) on this new Norton single coupled with a side by some vocal group called the Clovertones who were lucky enough to get Esquirita (the Alfred E. Neuman of the Norton set?) to tinkle the ivories on this rarity. Both acts were on Enrica at the time thus making the pairing more'n fitting as far as Norton's efforts to prove that the early-sixties were boss times in the face of what they called Frankie Avalunkheadisms go. Actually the Hawkins side is almost an exact take of the track that eventually came out; of course if I were able to play both sides simultaneously I probably would come up with a totally different assessment but I actually like the way Hawkins sings the word "moan" at the fadeout 'stead of actually do it like he was instructed! Flipster's more of that great vocalese that sorta reminds me of the stuff me and my cousin would walk around to in his basement when we were like three or so because we didn't know how to dance (also hot on the hit parade was a scratchy copy of "Washington Square" which still brings back basement walking memories...by the way this was the same basement I used to do interpretive dances to while playing "Hound Dog" back when I was eleven!) but anyways, its hot gospel-tinged r/b vocal hootage made magnificent by the piano playing of the one they call the Voola! And both sides are top hit-to-pick winners that should adorn the collection of any true-believer, and frankly, anyone who had the guts to tune into this blog w/o the express purpose of mocking us or "checking out to see how the other half lives" definitely is one!

Norton's always been a class label and this Hawkins/Clovertones issue certainly hits the heights of advanced karmik whooziz considering the titans paired up for this particular bout (and speaking of bouts, liners refer to an actual fist-fight between none other than Hawkins and Mr. Reeder around the same time these sides were recorded, said fight ending when the two fell into a construction hole!). And now that I have that aforemeentioned turney-table in working order all I better do is finally get that Real Kids ten-incher of a Velvets trib that Norton released a few years back outta its sleeve and let its droning magestry do its work on me pronto! (And speaking of ten-inchers [calm down, Dave!], I'm still trying to find out where I placed my Bon Vivants EP I mentioned on this blog late last year...after all, I've been dying to hear that one for quite a long time given how it seems to hold the promise of mid-seventries underground spew and in the postmodern age t'boot, but danged if I can find my copy anywhere inna collection. Hey, I guess I might have to fork out more moolah to Eddie Flowers for anudder copy, and the way these things are selling he'll probably have 'em in stock from here 'til doomsday!)
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E. Power Biggs-A FESTIVAL OF FRENCH ORGAN MUSIC LP (Columbia)

Hey, as you could tell by my MUSSORGSKY'S HEAD review awhile back, I can gets classical too! Actually, I only bought this one because Aral Sezen mentioned it as being one of his faves in that bound-to-be infamous Velvet Underground in San Francisco '69 article that appeared in one of those issues of WHAT GOES ON that came out way back inna day, and true he also mentioned the Cocteau Twins as biggies in his life but I'm not that gullible! Anyway, this is just what the title sez, highbrow sounds written by a buncha dead Frenchmen played on a humongous church organ sounding pleasant enough while I ruffle through the vinyl but frankly I find it way too romantic for my own tastes. I gotta say that I prefer the baroque energy of the 17th century organ as well as earlier musical modes (I still gotta marvel at how fourteenth century music like that of de Machaut's sounds totally inward-turned intense and feral, especially when played by the likes of Sandy Bull), and maybe I do like it because it is oppressive. Patti Smith said just as much about the Velvets, and maybe we can trace that line of intensity that Lester Bangs once mentioned way back to this early medeval brew. Any recordings of early classical idioms and baroque organ that you readers might care to point me towards?
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WHADEVVA HAPPENED TO __________________?: Oft that question is heard amongst people who habituate various sectors of fandom and yes, it seems as if some practitioners of the form we call obsessive/compulsive devotion are here with us one day, then all of a sudden abandon their lofty places in the fan world for...what??? Some say real life with work, wife, kids and morgages, other say the Wide Open Spaces, and yet others...death. But ya gotta wonder about whatever happened to some of the guys and gals who were a part of this fanzine/rock spew world back in the sixties and seventies who, although showing much promise as writers, artists and assorted stooges, sorta slipped outta sight seemingly ne'er to be heard from again. I mean, where is Robert Somma these days? Or Geoffrey Cannon, or Lita Eliscu for that matter??? Better yet, can anyone tell me the REAL whereabouts of one Wayne McGuire???

Well, thanks to the miracle of internet at least we can check up on the whereabouts of some of our once-and-always-faves and from the sanctity of our bedrooms as well! Anyway, once again the forces of kismet played into my sweaty palms with regards to making such a discovery of Dr. Livingston proportions, because only just recently did I receive a post comment from one Scott Duhamel, a fellow who had been not only writing for the likes of DENIM DELINQUENT and various other fanzine excursions during the early-seventies, but one who also just happened to co-write the Gizmo classic "Mean Screen" (and via mail as well!) making him a special contender for the PUNK ROCK HALL OF FAME junior division! And talk about surprises, for who woulda thunk that such a guy would still be around and cruising the web for that matter! Duhamel even has his own blog entitled Culture Vulture Time, and although I think he spends too much time on it writing about tee-vee and moom pitchers (and I'm talking current-day stuff like THE SOPRANOS which is tough onna luddite like me who has to force myself to watch BONANZA because it's in color!) and should be writing about rock & roll more often I still recommend the thing to the hilt. It's great seeing these seventies groundbreakers alive and active in the present day which only makes me wonder...does Adny Shernoff have his own blog? I sure could use a TEENAGE WASTELAND BLOG inna here and now and if you happen to be reading this Adny, how about getting back into the writing end of things because we sure can use the chuckle!

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

"California Man" and "Do Ya" are on the CD of "Message From The Country".

Jeroen 2 NBT said...

Chris, Adventure is indeed a great, great album. Did you get the Rhino CD with extra tracks? If not, you should really opt for that one, if only for the unlisted 9 minute Ain't That Nothing. There's a boot CD out called I Need Another Adventure that has even more outtakes from these sessions...