Sunday, July 22, 2007

BLOG TO COMM MIXED VINYL/CEE-DEE LISTENING PARTY!

Not much on the Cee-Dee front today, but I thought I'd sneak these two disques into the post before diving head first into the 12-inch fun 'n games. Not only because I'd like to be a bit more expedient than I am with regards to being prompt and up-to-date and all those other things that we expect here in the electronic age, but because I sorta promised a blog pal of mind that I would give these the good ol' promotional putsch. Enough blab...The Dino Club is the name of a band that I wish I knew more about (and probably will once I publish this post and spend the rest of the day schmoozing around on da web) but at least I got these two Cee-Dees of their courtesy Scott Duhamel, a name that should ring a bell with many of you seventies rock fandom followers who have more than your fair share of BEYOND OUR CONTROL back issues stashed away in the attic. It turns out that, over thirty years after penning the words for the Gizmos' shoulda-been-infamous ditty "Mean Screen," Duhamel is now the lyricist for this Dino Club group but that doesn't necessarily make him Pete Sinfield next to the Club's King Crimson...naw, the lyrics that Duhamel popped out for these guys are pretty snat, not Meltzeresque'r anything but good enough since they won't make you upchuck, and coupled with the pretty hot just-post power pop playing from these old fogies (a shock, because after looking at myself in the mirror this AM seeing all those age spots and blubs forming around my eyes made me realize that I'm gonna end up looking like a dalmatian more sooner than later!) ya get a pretty interesting pair of platters that ain't total eruption but mighty fine nonetheless especially when compared to a lotta dross getting tossed out out there in indie music land. Probably one of those few spins a decade affairs for me, but mighty pleasing stuff that sure takes the tar outta a lotta musical musings that never did deserve to be transferred to aluminum in the first place. The names of these wares are HEY DRINK UP and BRIGHT SCREEN WIDE, and if you want 'em bad enough just press here and who knows...maybe you'll have the gumption to buy a few copies of each!

Okay, and now onto the vinyl at hand...

***
Copernicus-NOTHING EXISTS (Ski)

Been looking for my Major Thinkers (the name of the post-Turner and Kirwan of Wexford groupage with or without the one known as Copernicus) single for a few days now and w/o much success but this'll do in the meantime. As you probably don't remember, I wrote about NOTHING EXISTS on this blog before in a piece on albums that have yet to make their way into the digital format, and although this mere fact continues to hold true (for all the good or bad that may imply) at least I still got this debut longplayer from Copernicus proper which still sends wild rock thrills up and down my spine even though Brad Kohler continues to insist the whole thing was a vanity pressing subsidized by Copernicus' landlord.

I dunno...it is snazzy, sorta sounding like your typical tough early-eighties new wave pre-gnu wave New York City act circa 1980 with a unique use of electronics and altered instrument mystique to it, perhaps like early Roxy Music with some Can tossed in as performed by say, the Comateens. Interesting scenesters appear in the backing band as well...Peter Collins of Teenage Lust shows up as does Jimmy Zhivago, one of those guys whose been around forever yet never did get a chance to leave his carbon footprint on the lower Manhattan sidewalks. And its all joined by the booming ethnic voice of Copernicus, the mid-aged beatnik seen getting his joint lit on the front cover who kinda looks like a 1962 grey flannel suit adman who went hip ten years later. But this ain't no hippie trip as a live track recorded at Max's Kansas City on side two will undoubtedly prove when, after ranting and raving over a particulary Velvets-driven ditty concerning nuclear war, Copernicus bellows "Max's Kansas City does not exist" to scant applause. Well, he was right about that, at least in a few years! Anyway, if you want a copy of NOTHING EXISTS to find out for yourself what the whole late-eighties hubbub was about there are a whole slew of Copernicus items can still be purchased, and with a mere click of a mouse t'boot!
***
Lennie Tristano/Buddy DeFranco-CROSSCURRENTS (Capitol)

It's still pretty hazy as to exactly when that good ol' avant garde/free jazz music that many of us love and adore was actually birthed. As I said a few posts back, some (actually, Nick Tosches) trace it to the 1946 recording of Charlie Parker's "Lover Man," but it's a good bet sayin' that the form, at least as it's known to scores of used-bin pickers of the seventies and eighties, first popped up on today's sides in question which were so scabrous (as in "difficult" for the tender ears of the age, not indecent!) that their release was held up for a good many years at which point the likes of Taylor, Giuffre, Coleman and their pals made the world safe for free meter, amongst other things.

The MIRAGE sampler of early avant jazz trackage that came out a few years after this more-definitive collection included pianist Lennie Tristano's comparatively subdued "Yesterdays" as an example of the early jazz avant garde-cum-third stream (a verifiable hoax if there ever was one) movement then gaining some momentum in the postwar bop-cool stratum. Why they didn't bother to slip on the rather adventurous "Intuition" or "Digression" is the sixty-four buck question, as these numbers are more evident of the free-play that the new thing in jazz would be most noted for once the whole freeform ball got rolling a few years later. Sounding like a standard jazz sextet that somehow got lost midstream, these track were so unthinkable and beyond the ken of jazz comprehension that the flustered engineer who threw up arms in a fit of self-righteous fury eventually erased the other two experimental tracks recorded that May '49 day. Better yet, I wonder what the various club gigs where Tristano and band let loose with the structure were like, and perhaps I will find out more sooner'n later. (And a tip of the hat goes to Bill Shute, for merely being influenced by Tristano and his recordings to the point where one of his more recent chapbooks is dedicated to the blind pianist!) And they are that good, good enough for you to seek out the rather inexpensive Tristano collections that are still available a good fifty-five years after the fact!

Even more striking is the Buddy DeFranco Orchestra (a standard postwar bop brigade) doing "A Bird in Igor's Yard" which as I've read somewhere is considered the first bonafide avant garde jazz number laid to wax only to be shelved for a good quarter-century which by that time the likes of Roscoe Mitchell and Sonny Sharrock were around to put everything in its proper perspective. Arranged by the then-upstarting George Russell (who would go onto a brilliant future as a neat cog in the jazz avant garde machinations of it all), the then-unique idea of merging Charlie Parker bop and Igor Stravinsky "neoclassicism" is fleshed out about as far as it could go in '49. Nothing that's outwardly earth-shattering mind you, but a nice harbinger that seemed to permeate the outer-reaches of the jazz idiom at least until the brave arrival of Ornette. By the way, the common-denominator thread connecting the Tristano and DeFranco sides is one Lee Konitz, a name that never did thrill me as much as others in the jazz world, but I do recall Shute's vain attempts to get me to think otherwise!

Interestingly enough, the liners include a brief bit written by Tristano on this groundbreaking session where he credits Miles Davis as being "the only noted musician who acknowledged in print the real nature of the music on those sides." Kinda strange, since I remember Davis being the kinda guy who used to go out of his way to upchuck all over the avant garde in the sixties and even, as I reported a week back, threatened to stomp on Eric Dolphy's shoes if he saw him again! (That being via the infamous DOWN BEAT "Blindfold Test" where more expletives were deleted than on your typical Nixon White House tape!) Not only that, but although he played with white musicians Davis was always going outta his way to say whatta buncha lousy players the all were which kinda makes me wonder why he'd even go NEAR a white person in the first place! Hmmmm, maybe Davis said all this nice stuff about this particular white musician shortly after making that all-important meeting with an important connection, if you know what I mean (nudge nudge)...
***
Tulpa-MOSAIC FISH (Midnight Music, England)
Rude Buddha-LION CLAWS (Green Triangle)


A couple I popped outta the collection after (and because of) the CBGB OFF THE BOARD CD reviews last post. The Tulpa album, as I mentioned last time, really does not live up to the live CBGB tracks with a way-too alternative music approach to what should have been a good post-prog underground sound. One big misguided flop filled with uninspired compositions, twee-pretension and a general lackluster approach to the rock & roll music at hand that only makes me want to hear that entire CBGB tape (which must've been a sellout since none of those 1986 "Off the Board" cassettes are available via the CBGB online store, not counting the more popular Ed Gein's Car and Damage ones which have been re-pressed for a new generation of busted eardrums) even more given the smart prog-punk-pop stylings that are clearly evident on the live set. I guess Tulpa just weren't ready to record when they did this album in '85...if they had only waited a year and just released their CBGB set I'm sure more people would remember them in a positive light. Maybe they do, but you wouldn't know it from this particular recording.

Rude Buddha fare better with their more honed take on early-eighties underground rock aimed at a mid-eighties gnu wave clientele. Not really inspiring, but it is unoffensive to my well-derived rockism tastes and thus is a keeper, maybe even a definite re-player!!!
***
John Coltrane-THE AFRICA BRASS SESSIONS, VOL. 2 (ABC-Impulse)

Another Cleveland-area college radio throwaway that I scammed in the late-eighties when all the stations were going digital! Sheesh, if Harvey Pekar was as smart as he lets on in all those AMERICAN SPLENDORs he woulda only hadda wait a few years for all those radio libraries to be flushed out rather'n hafta swipe the things like way too many consciousless theives on the hunt for rare jazz sides hadda do o'er the years! Anyhoo here's more brightness from the early-sixties of which no more really needs to be said, so as Joe Cook said in conclusion nothing more needs to be said to which I have to say is that no more needs to be said, so I will say nothing more!
***
Chrome-THE VISITATION (Dossier, Germany)

It seems as if nobody wants to talk about this debut Chrome platter for whatever ridiculous reasons they can come up with. (Even the guys in Chrome seemed to wanna forget THE VISITATION ever existed in the first place; witness its exclusion on the CHROME BOX SET of the mid-eighties!) And we're talking about supposedly "intelligent" blogschpieler types not wanting to have anything to do with this forgotten masterpiece as well! Y'know, the same blokes who will wax rhapsodic about every early-eighties Californication item to come across the boards with reckless aplomb yet they seem to pee all over THE VISITATION as if it were yet another "commercial" slice of pablum sputum custom-made for the pimple-crop of boxboys americanus who just lived for Black Sabbath 8-tracks. Which just goes to show you just how off-target some of these musical snobsters can be because once you get down to it, there really ain't anything inherently wrong with pimples, boxboys, Black Sabbath, 8-tracks and especially THE VISITATION, which is a pretty good slab of straight-ahead rock 'n roll on the hard 'n heavy side with just enough electronics to propel the item straight into the late-seventies hall of underground rock fame! 'n if you don't agree then may I just direct you to a choice late-seventies issue of BOMP! and Greg Shaw's own smart assessment of the facts where he gang-reviews this 'un with what-else-but the classic Debris platter (later on to clump both acts in with his infamous "acid punk" movement which sorta started with PEBBLES VOLUME 3 and wound up with Pere Ubu and their sort!).

And really, if there is anything I could compare THE VISITATION to it would be that sole Debris platter outta the wilds of Oklahoma. Maybe the early Pere Ubu records as well but not MX-80 Sound, Umela Hmota, Television or any of those other mid-seventies wonders that set the stage for a whole slew of late-seventies underground hijinx. The playing is good in a mid-seventies garage band heavy metal appreciation sorta way, with the electronics fitting in fine for that extraterrestrial cringe feeling that would be expanded on once the albums kept coming out over the next ten or so years. The typical mid-seventies tough-guy-with-teased-hair hard rock vocals actually do help out (as does the shreiking female voice heard here/there on side two), and while the songs are certainly more structured in a commerical fashion they, like the best underground rock straddling forms and styles, still manage to transcend the usual hokum that often comes with these electronic rock attempts (this ain't no Neil Norman album, a vanity project if there ever was one!). And true it ain't no HALF-MACHINE LIP MOVES, but then again, what is?
***
Musica Orbis-TO THE LISTENER (Longdivity)

Another one already mentioned in my previously-mentioned un-digitized vinyl post, you may also remember an essay-length piece on this self-produced album recorded by a buncha Swarthmore music majors that appeared back in issue #24 of my own sainted fanzine from a few years back. Maybe not, because although I raved on pretty hard about this mostly-femme art rock bunch who, like the best practitioners of that tired form "World Music" knew enough to make it sound beyond terra firma, it seemed as if nobody took the cue to write in or let me know just what they felt about this obscure wonder. But I guess that despite any feedback positive or negative on you readers' part Musica Orbis did have their fans including Hilly Kristal, who not only booked 'em at CBGB during the great rush to NYC in '76 and even namedropped 'em in his online memoirs, but who must've liked 'em enough to continue to book ex-Orbis leader Kitty Brazelton's various 80s/90s bands (which had a decidedly more underground/punk rock approach to 'em) at his various venues until she gave up on the performing game sometime when the millennium clocked over. And heck, I don't care what you say but I still think TO THE LISTENER is a great rock & ROLL album that has about as much to do with the mid-seventies state of re-affirming r&r's place in this universe as the Flamin' Groovies, MX-80 Sound, Kongress, Ramones and even Patti Smith did around the same nanosecond in time when a bright wind in music could be seen a'blowin even in the comparatively hidden reaches of Western Pennsylvania. True side two contains a couple of extremely saccharine gaggers dealing with home and teaching high school kids the ROOM 222 method of humanist adolescence, but at least these gals 'n guys cut their rock with avant garde jazz and baroque classical motifs rather'n hippydippy folkiedom (save on the two gut-pukers!) to the point where a track like "Cataracts" pays a whole lot more homage to early-sixties Dolphian affairs than you would've given anyone credit for inna first place. And what makes Musica Orbis so special is that these well-educated elites could rock out when they wanted to, and they were doing it with harps and cellos succeeding where other failed with guitars and drums! Still not sussed? Well, according to Brazelton's own website some person of notoriety going by the name of Joey Ramone was front and center for a July '76 CBGB gig, and if that don't say somethin' I dunno what will (other'n maybe he was expecting to see the Demons?)
***
I guess that's it for this time...upcoming blogposts include nothing but books and if the stars are lucky a seven-inch vinyl listening party. And maybe by that time I'll feel a lot more refreshed...this post sure reads like I've been up with the runs all night and haven't slept a wink in o'er two days! I sure feel like it as well...gimme some Sominex (or maybe Dave Lang's last blogpost so's I can bore myself to sleep) and I'll be conked out faster than you can say "Agony Shorthand." And I MEAN it!

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hey, Chief!
Another fine blog entry. Ahhh,
for the days when you could find
promo copies of AFRICA BRASS VOL. 2
for two bucks. Actually, it's still not hard to find for under ten on vinyl.
And anyone who drags up names such as Jimmy Zhivago should get some kind of award--I've seen his name involved with Rufus Wainwright projects in recent years, and he's one of those guys who does great work with regularity but never gets in the limelight.
However, the thing in the new blog entry that really touched my heart
was your link to the newspaper article about the great comedian JOE COOK from his hometown newspaper (Evansville, Indiana).
How sad it is that his legendary
"why I won't imitate four hawaiians" sketch was never
filmed or documented (to my knowledge).
Hope all is well up there in western PA. Do you actually have a copy of my book ATONEMENT that is dedicated to Lennie Tristano? I used touch and smell imagery in each piece because of LT's blindness, and I work in an actual performance by Tristano and guitarist Billy Bauer into the final selection. I'll send you one if you don't have one--let me know.
Just spent four days with Eric up in North Texas, and took him to the Jandek "Fort Worth Hoedown".

Bill Shute
San Antonio, Texas

Christopher said...

DON'T CALL ME CHIEF, OLSEN!

All kidding aside, thanks for your latest comment. You really don't know just how much I like reading what you think of whatever sputum I dare spout regarding music, tee-vee, movies or what-have-you. It's almost like the old days when it seems as if you were calling me every other night!

I haven't been to a REAL record store in ages...in fact I don't know of any around here so I couldn't tell you if I ever could find a copy of AFRICA BRASS for under ten bucks. I sure do remember the plethora of 60s/70s leftovers that could be found at various used shops in the eighties and nineties, at least until the mid-nineties when the vinyl really began drying up and I still gotta say that shopping for CDs just ain't the same! Still, I have the same fondness for the record shops of old that rivals those J. R. Williams nostalgic trips back to the 1890s in those "Born Thirty Years Too Soon" OUT OUR WAY comics that keep captivating me throughout the evening hours!

Jimmy Zhivago is one of those names that keeps going on and on, at least if this is the same guy who copped his nom-de-you-know-what from CLOCKWORK ORANGE as the one I've been talking about mind you. Zhivago's been around since at least '76 where I saw his name on a Max's listing...but Bill, I didn't know YOU actually followed Rufus Wainwright!There's so much you've kept hidden from me I guess!!!

The reason why Joe Cook's "Why I Won't Imitate Four Hawaiians" skit never did get documented is...he never did it! Of course the full story about that non-skit and Cook will have to wait for the next BLACK TO COMM where the Cook saga, along with rare snaps and other esoterica I've collected over the years, will finally get published. Of course, the old moneyola (and interest) is sorta waning w/regards to self-produced publications these days, especially with chickendoodoo "fans" the likes of Dave Lang damning the mag esp. when it needed a li'l push, but that's all water under the toilet right now.

(By the way, a big thanks goes to Lang for linking my site up on his thus boosting my "traffic" up at least 35% the last two days. Couldn't have done it w/o you, Dave!)

If you wanna send me ATONEMENT feel free to, though I was thinking of getting it through Volcanic Tongue.

And finally, say hiya to everyone down there, and give Eric and Kendra a big slug for me! I really mean it. Sure miss you all!!!!!

Marco said...

That Chrome album is so good.
100% American obscuritas: but what about the only Happy Dragon Band album?!

duck_stab said...

Musica Orbis (Side 2) is as good as it gets.

Did you know that Kitty Brazleton was later a topless go-go dancer
and is now a professor at Bennington College?

Ittttttttttttttttt's TRUE!

DC said...

I saw Musica Orbis open for Blue Oyster Cult (Strange to think but True!) and another band whose name I forget but who featured Zeno Sparkles on lead guitar. It was at Clothier Hall at Swarthmore in 1973 (or maybe the spring of 1974). I recall that Kitty B. was in fine form, making herself seem as prentious as possible as she swooned around stage. Tom Stephenson was on drums but he always struck me as taking great pride in being a "percussionist" rather than drummer and he too was far more interested in the Art than in the Rock. Jim Kelly was a very talented guitarist who (as far as I know) is still kicking around in central Jersey teaching at a Junior college. Jim used to sit in with the rock n'roll covers/dance band fronted by Tom Sahagian (Nathan and the Narwhals) and he always perked thing up with the melodius tones that emanated from his vintage Les Paul (I was one of many drummers who served time as a Narwhal over the years).

Also, I just remembered that Dave Clarke was the bass player and he was GREAT. I think he teaches at Berklee in Boston now. I always rember Dave fondly because he sat in on drums (for a one song cameo) during a rare performance of my band "Fifth Planet" in May 1975. No rehearsal with him was necessary! He was/is a great musician!

It would be interesting to hear the MO album after all these years. If nothing else, Kitty B. and company took themselves VERY SERIOUSLY!!! And that could make for some interesting listening 35 years or so on...

All the best,
DC