OH CHEE, ANOTHER BLOG TO COMM VINYL LISTENING PARTY!
When all else fails, get back to the ol' vynola! Well at least that's what I say!!! And with things having not been quite up to BLOG TO COMM standards this past week with three crucial (and long-awaited) packages still having not arrived and the general jamz not being what they used to be it's good that I have my (comic) books and my vinyl to protect me even if that ain't exatly what ol' Paul Simon once said. But hey, with my longplaying albums and seven-inch backlog starin' me inna face it ain't like I'm at a shortage for general high energy living, and that combined with all of the other "cultural" endevaors going on in my life (translation: LEAVE IT TO BEAVER/MUNSTER reruns) it ain't like I'm crawling the walls like I used to do when I was eight and there was NADA going on in my tender-digit life until four when the reruns would start and I've read alla my cartoon paperbacks to the point of nausea wishing that school would start up again just so's I'd have something to do, that's how screwed up bored this little kiddo was!
And speaking of cartoon collections, I gotta say that I'm sure satisfied by the recent purchases of those boss NEA Services panels which I reviewed almost a whole month back as you can very well see if you'd only click on the previously-highlighted linkup. I must've romped through that OUR BOARDING HOUSE collection of 1927 cartoons five times so far (and if enough people buy the thing, perhaps the rest of the series will see the light of day once again even though I know deep in my clogged-artery heart of hearts that such things are merely the pipe-iest of dreams) while the OUT OUR WAY's continue to amaze me, not only the classic collection of domestic and nostalgic strips, but especially the cowboy ones which not only featured a steady cast of characters but even some continuity when the mood fit the great J. R. Williams, a guy who should be given as much Golden Age cartoon credit as the likes of Herriman and McKay. I recall reading a lotta these western panels back when I was a kid and the local library still had the original collections available for takeout, and frankly how can I forget such vivid strips such as the Christmas one where Curley rescues an orphaned calf stranded with its dead mother, or especially the one with the un-weaned half-grown cow still suckin' away while its younger sibling starves? Believe-you-me, if stuff like that ain't imbedded into a ten-year-old's skull then nothing is. Even better was that extended romp where Curley quits the ranch after the boss refuses a job for a roaming young boy and the two go off on this weird venture and... Well, let's just say that even I marveled at the way Williams could take a simple square panel per day and turn the thing into an adventure romp worthy of such other NEA classics as CAPTAIN EASY and the original ALLEY OOP! Things like OUT OUR WAY and OUR BOARDING HOUSE really made an indent on me back when I was reading 'em inna paper, and looking over these old panels with their fine-lined style and obvious craftsmanship (it must've taken Williams hours to draw a night-scene with all that cross-hatch lining and fine detail) did more'n their share to flash me back to back when I was discovering comic strips as more'n just something on the last page of the last section of the paper, but I guess all you blogsters are too high-falutin' and decadent to relate to such suburban experiences, eh?
Also big onna board this week was the arrival of two months worth of ROOM AND BOARD dailies. That was the "strip" that Gene Ahern did after being lured from NEA to King Features for megabucks more, a blatant rip of his previous success which is probably why ROOM AND BOARD didn't catch on as much as its predecessor but it was still great shakes enough, especially with Ahern's rather unique artistic prowess that comes off like a glass of cool water in the desert of modern-day slapdash. Anyway the '42 panels recently acquired find the cast and crew of Puffle Towers fully ensconsced in Dabaya Dabaya Too, first getting tied up with a buncha Nazis who have invaded the group's camping area (!) then with Major Hoople clone Judge Agustus Puffle's brother Robin miraculously landing a job as a guard in a defense plant thus becoming top dog at the boarding house much to Agustus' displeasure! I think they could've done away with the "Plant a Jap" aside (this dehumanizing of unpopular people and races seems the scourge of idiots on both sides who are more'n glad to deny personhood status to whomever so displeases 'em in order to assuage their guilt of running roughshod over/killin' em...anyway that's all I gotta say and I'll step off my soapbox!) but I guess such crudeties come with the territory...only liked the same territory when it was a lot smoother but them's the breaks! I've reprinted a coupla these ROOM AND BOARDs on this blog to give you a taste of what the panel was like...its stuff I swiped off the web 'n such hence the "quality" but hey, if you're the kinda guy who wants to know what makes an unheralded genius such as I tick like a bomb it was stuff like this and alla that UHF television viewing and comic books that made me the man I am, and yeah, I gotta say that it sure is better'n being the postmodern bunsnitch you most certainly are! All funnin' aside, I hope you dig these comic repros, at least enough to hit that back link to my earlier post and maybe buy some of the Ahern/Williams wares that are available in the here and now thus insuring a great comics future for not only you but yours! And while I'm at it, how about forking over some money to ME at which point I'll fork over some BLACK TO COMM back issues to you! Gee, all the soft sell I've been usin' to get you unwashed massholes to buy these great, informative and fun-packed fanzines has been for naught, and really, if you so-called "fans" want to see another issue down the line then you been buy these flapjacks up by the stack, and force your best enemies and worst friends to do likewise! In this "enlightened" age you'd'a thought that more people would be anxious to dive straight into the BLACK/BLOG TO COMM lifestyle, unless you're a lousy AUSTRALIAN 'r somethin' but I guess not enough people out there care, to which I say fooey!
Enough of the preliminary chit chat...bring on the good ol' plastic!!!
Richard Landry-A FIRST QUARTER (Chatham Square)
Supposedly the soundtrack to one of those early-seventies obscuro art flicks that only the VILLAGE VOICE would consider reviewing, this Philip Glass sideman (accompanied by other Glass Ensemblers and hanger ons) starts off with a mildly entertaining free jazz number followed by a solo sax track that sounds like an AACM-inspired rehash of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" which, on side two, is followed by a very long bass improv that comes off as if it was played on two strings concluding with a sax duet that doesn't quite gel given its also AACM-derived sense of atonality. Coulda done better...me that is, with the money that went towards purchasing this piece of plastic
***FERDE GROFE-THE GRAND CANYON SUITE (THE PHILADALPHIA ORCHESTRA, EUGENE ORMANDY, CONDUCTOR) (Columbia)
Talk about a perennial pants-wetter! When I was a kid sorta stumbin' outta the toddler days into strapping kindergartenhood, this album shot up red flares throughout the Stigliano abode because when elpee-closer "Cloudburst" would come on I'd scream like the dickens because of its crash and burn which was so shocking to one of tender ears to the point where whenever this platter would get spun (usually in the evening hours when much of the social activity would take place in the knotty-pine rec room in the basement) I was put on full alert to remain in my bedroom snuggled in the comparative safety of my crib, smack-dab underneath it, that is. (And why not, since that number actually vibrated throughout the entire house!) Anyway, whilst combing through the record collection last week I decided to be the first in ages to give this a play wonderin' whether ghosts of nightmares past would be aroused to frighten this aging adolescent off and whaddya know, after all these years I discover that this platter is actually a nice slab of early-twentieth-century classical musings that true, had a huge hunk of commerciality about it (after all, Paul Whiteman debuted the thing back in 1931), but that don't make it a slouch if you were raised on this stuff only to eschew it because it was being forced down your gullet by the folks who always sneered everytime they saw Mick Jagger on tee-vee before trying to seperate what the music "was" to you and what you like about the stuff as opposed to your elders (who were more concerned with music as a social force helping to mold you into yet another faceless being). Anyway, no ghosts popped up and in fact I didn't even freak to the atonal crash of "Cloudburst" but it was a nice trip back nonetheless. In fact, I must say that I was tempted to become emotionally overtaken by the surge of the suite's opening movement, but thankfully I caught myself just in time!
***Kevin Ayers-YES, WE HAVE NO MANANAS (SO GET YOUR MANANAS TODAY) (Harvest UK)
Here's one I ain't heard in over thirty years! Sure makes me feel even more creakier 'n I am, but that's the truth so help me Meltzer. Y'see, I actually borrowed this 'un hot off the presses from John Stanton along with Iggy Pop's THE IDIOT (also just down the chute) to give spins to, and frankly I didn't really care for what I felt was the overabundance of English Music Hall jive that Ayers was presenting to us this late inna game. But then again this was a time when early-seventies British underground rock innovation was sorta sliding by and even Eno wasn't what he was purported to be only a few years earlier. Still, after spinning MANANAS I recall feeling glad, that I didn't plunk down the $5.98 that I coulda just to give this dog a lissen to. And come to think of it, I haven't played THE IDIOT since so either I was way ahead of the game or not easily duped by slickster production trends, or maybe both for all we know.
But then again those were the late-seventies and you KNEW that Ayers was on the way out because even EMI dropped him inna States and ABC records of all labels picked the guy up for domestic consumption! But that was then/this is now and all that overwrought horseblabber...and, as you're undoubtedly wonderin', how does MANANAS fit in with the cold cyborg climate of the late-oh-ohs when this stuff seems about as distant as Benny Goodman did to me at the time? Well, frankly not that much better'n it did when I first heard the thing and didn't know exactly how to take all of those British mannerisms that ruined a whole lot of potentially listenable platters popping up in the import bins.
Eh, it's still too "grown-up" for my tastes. One of the things that made the early Ayers albums so classic were their penchant for raw, psychedelic sound with each of 'em having overt Velvet Underground references such as "Stranger In Blue Suede Shoes" or "Decadence" for that matter giving the albums at hand an additional putsch. But none of the real Velvets presence or Syd Barrett mysticism that I certainly was hoping for can be found anywhere on MANANAS and in fact the overabundance of adult Britpop readymades sorta negates any sly moves Ayers might have had in store for us unwary listeners. It's all dinner and dancing chi-chi w/o the smarm, custom-made for the aging British progster who's only about "that far" (place thumb and index finger a good half-inch apart) from his upper-crust upbringing and polo and tally-ho and all that rubbish but he's gotta listen to something slightly askew if only to hold off turing into his pater at least for a good four years. Now, I don't blame Ayers and in fact pity him for getting washed away in a new wave of sight, sound and fury but really, why did he have to go out with such a whimper anyhow? OK, I will admit its pleasant, but if any of you would dare take this or RAINBOW TAKEWAY in place of JOY OF A TOY you do need your sense of British prog priorities examined.
***EVE MOON (Capitol)
Here's another one purchased outta sheer curiousity. Moon's name appeared amongst the Max's Kansas City and Mother's listings of mid/late 1975, but it wasn't until the very early eighties that she burst out with an elpee of her own just in time for that whole "I'm My Own Bitch" feminist hard rock brouhoua that used to get Anastasia Pantsios' panties all dewy during those brave new wave days of "Women in Rock." And I dunno what Moon was doing in those five or so years twixt but if she had been "honing" anything, it was the slick hard rock moves that make this platter such an unbearable encounter. Yes, for every Pat Benetar and Chrissie Hynde how many Eve Moons were there floundering away without the slightest hope for financial or commercial success? Well, let's just hope that she found the man and kitchenette of her dreams because a bright future most certainly wasn't to be found in the wild and wooly world of rock & roll!
***Ut-EARLY LIVE LIFE (Blast First)
I missed out on this back when it first sputtered across the ever-shrinking world of underground rock, probably because I was so unceremoniously dumped from the Blast First freebie list when this much-needed wonder came out. (I'm only saying this to piss Jay Hinman off since he once blabbed about how I would get needled for not getting the promotional items I so craved!) And for a "no wave" band, even of the second tier, Ut were pretty snat despite what many of you BLOG TO COMM readers might think! Not only did Ut last a good decade or so which is a record for a no wave aggregate but this femme trio (once quartet) managed to keep their primitivism unchecked and in fact expanded on it which is no mere feat esp. when many primal groups were more or less content to "learn" as they went along! A fine collection of various live trackage from both their New York and London days spanning a good six years that only makes my mouth water more for the rest of the no wave saga whether it be that Lenny Kaye/Robert Palmer/Richard Robinson band (Man Ray?) that was supposedly a huge influence on "Radio Ethiopia," or naturally some concrete information on the likes of those unrecorded no wave groups such as Daily Life (hadda interview going that was axed due to a decree from higher up!) and the Ghosts all the way up to the Communists and Terminal, that is if Elodie Lauten is willing to talk about 'em! But until she does, maybe a few spins of EARLY LIVE LIFE will sate your post-NO NEW YORK lust-throbs.
***Nico-DEATH & THE MAIDEN (bootleg)
It's kinda funny seeing vinyl bootleg ware here in the oh-ohs even though they sure've come a long way from the good ol' insert sleeves and shoddy sound quality of yore. And this neat tribute to the Moon Goddess known as Nico is about as far as one can get from the bootlegs of the past not only with its slick cover and blue vinyl, but with the exquisite sound quality that really rings a clear clarion bell even when played on a tinkertoy turntable such as mine! Sure you serious Nico fans've heard all this stuff before from the scat singing of the EPI to various live trackage done solo and with Cale at CBGB, but judging from the packaging, the sound and the overall presentation this one is a nice addition for the collection. A unique li'l offering even if you ain't serious about the famed blonde kraut though pricey, which is why I'm passing on all those Velvet Underground elpee boots that have been coming out faster'n Lancaster Pennsylvania churns out pretzels!
***Hey, are you digging these vinyl listening parties as much as I am writin' 'em? Well, I hope so because I gotta 'fess up to the fact that listening to albums and seven-inchers and the rest of that "outmoded" form of entertainment is a thrill that not only works on nostalgic levels (though nothing could top me and my cousin ages three/four marching around the room to "Washington Square" repeatedly!) but on spiritual ones as well. Yes, communing with the black plastic is pretty engaging and a lot more "personal" than slipping in a Cee-Dee that might not even play on my computer let alone boom box, and the best thing about vinyl is...I gotta CELLAR fulla it! Anyway, stay tuned for more of these groovy exhumations which only prove that as far as getting retro, you can't get any more retro in an avant garde way as I can!