A BLOG TO COMM MOSTLY VINYL LISTENING PARTY!
Yeah, I have been neglegent with this blog as of late. And maybe I should be ashamed of myself but to tell you the honest-to-Lou Rone truth I ain't! And that's because like many of you readers out there in invisibleland I have other fish to flail as of late, mostly going places and doing things outside the normal Chris S. wear 'n tear and best of all I'll be taking a long-deserved vacation (that's "holiday" for you overseas readers) where hopefully I can recharge my batteries and get back into the swing of things at full throttle given how poor ol' me has been pretty much on the get-go these past eight or so months! And cross my heart and hope to spit I really DO need the change o' pace...my writing has been getting even more grottier (pardon the poor English usage...which is just the point I'm making!) as of late and a day won't go by without me scouring a past post only to find a misspelling, poor grammer or worse yet some total word jumble or incomplete sentence which I accidentally deleted with a mere mis-stroke of the keyboard that has remained uncorrected for nigh over six or so months! Talk about sloppy writing and editing, but what can you expect from a frazzled soul such as I just longing for a nice three month vacation just like the kind I used to get during my grade school dayze! (And I should know about all of the horrible gaffes and goofs that I've been making throughout this blog's history...while copying said blogposts for a dear friend who is computerless I actually re-read some of my earlier missives and found many gross errors which would have remained embedded on this blog for eons had I not given 'em a fine-tooth combing long after I thought I had already done that!) Well whatever the awkwardness may be I hope that the series of adventures that I am partaking of this month'll help ease the gigunto mental strain that real life has dumped all over me and who knows...perhaps after a little r&r I'll finally be able to write at the sixth-grade level that I so deeply aspire to. (And you can see from that last crack the years have also taken their toll on my general sense of sarcasm which again, I'm hoping a break from the grind will hone back to its former, snot-nosed self.)
In the meanwhile (and yes, this month I will embark on my pertinent posting whenever time and space allow) here are a batch of recordings (again both old 'n new 'n mostly vinyl with one important exception) that I, and a few other people out there like Rick Noll, thought you should know about. And yeah, it gives me just about as much pleasure writin' about these things as it did listenin' to 'em and, for that matter, that it gave the people recordin' these things just so's some blogger playin' at the rock critic (hah!) game can write 'em up pretendin' he's just about as all-important as alla those great fanzoon scribes of the early-seventies who at least were smart enough to take their 'zine hobby and turn it into a career of sorts but that's another story...on with the plastic, people!
George Brigman and Split-"Blowin' Smoke"/"Drifting" (Solid, available through Bona Fide [see linkup at left!])
Here's a record that "purports" to be a special thirtieth-anniversary edition of shoulda-been-famous guitar hero George Brigman's self-released single which was set free way back inna dark ages of 1977 but y'see, I know better 'n that!!! This thing ain't no new repressing of an old collector's item classic a tall...no, it's actually the ORIGINAL 1977 collector's item with a special sleeve slapped onna thing because frankly in all those years this disc sold about as many copies as I have of BLACK TO COMM #25, and you can bet this simple fact gives me the willies because I just know that I'm gonna be stuck with that albatross for the next thirty years myself at which point I too will be releasing a special anniversary edition of that issue which will also consist of nothing but the original item wrapped in some special cellophane bag w/a commorative sticker strategically placed onna front in order to attract the next generation of rockism maniacs who were just born for a fanzine just brimming with the unadorned, unvarnished and underappreciated TRUTH such as mine! But in the meantime it just makes me sick!
Oldie or not this is the first time I've ever had the opportunity to own this disc so it was a nice soo-prize indeed to find this one flung my way. The a-side's got some of that great, perhaps "patented" yet downright high-energy whamabanging that recalls a whole slew of late-sixties guitar bigshots yet doesn't sink to the level of Frankie Marino claiming that the ghost of Hendrix settled into his fingers after recovering from a bad LSD experience only to record a string of feh albums. 's great enough white-blues gone hard rock that pays homage while striking out for new territory though I gotta 'fess up to the fact that I prefer the flipster "Drifting" which is a jazzy instrumental that recalls the likes of Glenn Phillips during his LOST AT SEA days amongst other things too obvious to mention (like the Groundhogs natch...oops, I tried writing this review sans mentioning such a blatant watermark in Brigman's musical development but I'm sure he'll forgive me!). A grande wowzer from the glory days of self-released garage-productions, of which this one shoulda won some sorta Acadamy Award from the Greg Shaw school of Jukebox Jurydom.
A special note about the sleeve...it's great with that cool pic of Brigman on the front which you can see a few paragraphs above, but what makes it even greater are the liner notes written by one Dick Destiny, aka George Smith who as you might know is a rock writer of some notoriety. Destiny relays some rather in-depth notes on this sleeve and even though I should loathe the guy because he's a friend of Chuck Eddy and writes for THE VILLAGE VOICE I gotta say that the execution of the thoughts and ideas regarding Brigman on the sleeve reminded me of rock writing glories of the past and maybe we should like him solely for that. Otherwise, I hope he gets hemmorhoids from sitting on his motorbike on cold and snowy days if only for being part of the current sick movement in rock writing that has plagued the high energy world for a good three decades awlready! (And true he is good enough, but Destiny is guilty of inherent pomposity for daring to even ASSOCIATE with a shoulda-been-dead-long-ago twat like Eddy, and really, who could forgive anybody for such a gross crime against humanity as that!)
***Joy Ryder + Avis Davis-"No More Nukes"/"Nasty Secretary" (Monongo)
Here's a late-seventies punk rock item that could actually be called a footnote to a footnote when they write the ultimate history of rock & roll hip cause consciousness! Y'see, Joy Rider and Avis Davis, solid punksters on the New York Scene in the late-seventies, released this single back when the anti-nuclear movement was beginning to grow and there were these No Nukes concerts popping up all over the land at least if ROLLING STONE and THE VILLAGE VOICE could be believed. And strangely enough especially in the strict anti-punk/rock & roll in general clime o' the time, Ryder/Davis and band actually got a chance to play at one of the biggest of these rallies which might have been some sorta great boon for the cause of punkdom but must've been instant douse for the reams of FM-bred dudsters who attended to show to see their singer/songwriter faves trying to resurrect about as many shards of past consciousness that come to think of it still seemed to be settling across the land like fallout from a gigundo nuclear test that took place some years prior. No wonder Ryder/Davis' activities with the anti-nuke crowd seemed to be airbrushed outta the rock histories in the grand tradition of Stalin, though come to think of it I did catch a backstage snap of the two somewhere inna VOICE but since they were local faves what else would ya expect?
The single is nice enough, though like a lotta the late-seventies En Why See underground scene there seemed to be a bit too much pop mixed in with the punk, or at least to the point where I know this is gonna be one of those once-a-decade (if lucky) spinners. Not to detract from the overall chahm of the offering, but I still think of NYC rock in terms of atonal buzz and wraparound shades, or take WHITE LIGHT/WHITE HEAT and channel it through NO NEW YORK and slap the first Walter Steding album and FUTURE LANGUAGE into the mix for good effect. Aww, it's good enough and should really appeal to fans of such other En Why aggregates of the past like Peroxide and various other post-Heartbreaker-influx attempts although I was expecting a little...more.
Dunno what happened to Davis, but Ryder was still active on the scene as of the early-oh-ohs appearing as a solo act (and, according to her website which I guess you can easily enough google yourself, as a blues singer!) popping up at CBGB under the tutelage of Peter Crowley along with a few of the other seventies survivors who either never did break outta the burgh or were hitting upon bad times after good. Last I heard she was in bad straights healthwise so let's hope all's well for the lady even if this record ain't exactly one of those fire lighters that get my buttocks all toasty one bit!
***Various Artists-YOUR CAR MACHINE LP (Black Arts, France); MINNESOTA ROCK-A-BILLY ROCK VOL. 1 LP (White Label, Holland...try Norton)
Y'know, when I take a stroll through my records (I should restate myself...when I thumb through my records...don't want anyone to think that I actually trample through my records steppin' all over 'em willy nilly 'r anything like that!), I usually can remember (and fondly at that!) when or where I obtained the various platters that adorn my said collection. Memories just come rushin' back to me, like the Christmas vacations where I'd spent my gift moolah on still-in-print Mothers of Invention albums or some Monty Python import on the Famous Charisma Label (one of the few Charisma platters remaining in my collection as well, and gosh were there any other teenagers out there who just weren't Python fans back inna wild and wooly seventies???), not forgetting all of the wild flea market finds that just happened to enter my life without any warnings making me a better man in the process (I can write a book on the day I purchased the Hampton Grease Band MUSIC TO EAT double set which I found at a Pittsburgh Pee-Yay flea market right before that vinyl-mad Christmas vacation of '76...boy, those were spendthrifty days!). But sheesh, I totally forgot about these two albums in question to the point where I can't recall even owning 'em, let alone what I was doing when I sent for them or when they arrived on my doorstep looking for a new home! And yes, I am ashamed!
But better late'n never for both of these albums which, while not as "essential" as some might think, are way more meaningful to you and your own low-budget way-of-life than the usual must-have archival drool that Big City Critics keep telling us we gotta hear before we die, or at least before the next big essential thing pops up onna racks. YOUR CAR MACHINE is a collection of rare postwar blues single sides that were recorded by down-and-out hollering rural blues guys gone urban until at least '64, which would figure since by that time geeky British teens discovered the sound and used it to their own advantage. Now r&b ain't exactly my baileywick unless I mix it with punk 'r avant garde jazz, but that don't mean I can't dig the primal putsch the likes of Willie Sanders, Little Sonny and Ace Holder (amongst many) rip up here. If you like those primitive backroom recordings that came outta Detroit courtesy Joe Van Battle (many of which have been comped and re-comped so there's no excuse NOT TO), you'll love this. And as far as Minnesota rock-a-billy goes, the White Label collection should sate your thirst for the roots of the Trashman sound with a whole platter filled with downright garage-band romps that seem perfectly translated into Midwest Scandanavian, though us greasy Southern Europeons can enjoy it too! Lots of this has already been heard by me via those repro singles Norton has also been sellin', but it is nice having it all on a long-playing platter so's we don't hafta get up and change the sides every few minutes. Big surprise is the inclusion of the early Jim Thaxter and the Travelers "Sally-Jo"/"Cyclon" single which, as you may already know, featured Tony Andriessen, Steve Wahrer and Dal Winslow before Thaxter left the band and they became the Trashmen, and there's a snap of 'em onna cover to prove it!
***GOOD GOD LP (Atlantic)
Here's a group I discovered thanks to a Fred Kirby review of a '72 Max's Kansas City gig as well as a brief mention in Good God's hometown Philly paper on local acts that didn't quite make it, and you can bet that I was surprised enough to find out that these guys actually recorded a self-titled album which I guess isn't that much of a surprise since back then the major labels seemed to be signing just about everything. Nonetheless I just hadda pick the thing up outta curiousity and y'know what, GOOD GOD actually is a purty decent jazz rock effort that thankfully lacks the horrid tinkertoy progression of similar acts like Return to Forever (though I never did hear their debut which I once read is vastly superior to their more famous progressive rock-flair manhandling of various forms) and comes off as a good, almost seedy effort. Mostly originals (with apt covers of John McLaughlin's "Dragon Song" and Frank Zappa's "King Kong," both of which thankfully fit into the Good God groove), this album doesn't offend with loads of leftover hippiespeak but plays it nice and slow-burn cool to the point where it almost seems to represent the same aura of late-period Vietnam bared-wire intensity as Lou Reed! However if I hadda compare GOOD GOD to anything it would be the classic Tony Williams Lifetime or better yet Quiet Sun's MAINSTREAM, or even a truly punky Weather Report had they more of a free jazz mindset and really Good God are that tight and intense that they coulda made it at Max's during the more punk-active mid-seventies (CBGB as well!) given the more open atmosphere of these punk haunts at the time! And true, side two seems to slow down a bit but if you can find this one at the flea market you'd probably do well by snatching it up.
One final har-har aside...according to that Philadelphian newspaper article the group got their name after calling up none other than Captain Beefheart himself to ask him what they should be called, and after he exclaimed "Good God!" they thanked him and hung up! And you thought Good God were some sorta religious yammer, right?
***The Screaming Gypsy Bandits-IN THE EYE LP (Or)
After digging out my three-EP SOCIAL CLIMBERS mini-album (which was probably dug outta the collection thanks to the appearance of said group jamming along with John Scofield on the STATE OF THE UNION sampler disc), I decided to give Climbers leader/MX-80 producer Mark Bingham's early seventies groupage another chance especially after the dud-like review I gave IN THE EYE in the pages of BLACK TO COMM about a decade back! Back then I wrote IN THE EYE off as an item that came way too close to the early-seventies Grateful Dead image of getting everybody down on the farm together, driving them batty on Boone's Farm Apple Wine and HAZEL reruns and forcing them to play the same "Hey I can outdo your riff twice and good" raga over 'n over and true, I swiped all that from Robot Hull but it does come rather close to what I thought of the whole shebang. After a decade of hibernating IN THE EYE fares slightly better. Not exactly a total winner w/regards to the seventies underground/self-released sweepstakes but it does show a bit of the underground pus to come, perhaps thanks to the presence of future MX-80 members Bruce Anderson and Dale Sophiea who were original Bandits but are reduced to special guest shots here. Their second full-length effort (and an unreleased Gulcher EP) might brighten their image a bit, though if you're game enough try getting hold of the BLOOMINGTON ONE sampler also on the Bar-B-Q label which, besides featuring Chinaboise and an MX-80 (Sound) instrumental yet to be reissued captures the post-EYE Bandits sounding more like jazzbo-period Zappa'n anything, but don't let that scare you off one bit!
***Dave Burrell-AFTER LOVE CD (America)
Gotta admit that I never really liked a notable portion of the recorded output spewed forth by pianist Burrell...sure the man has released some downright aural images of pure fire velocity (such as on his BYG offering ECHO which is a BLOG TO COMM must-swipe) and his work as a sideman for the likes of Alan Silva on Silva's ESP outing is about as outre top-notch as anything out there could be, but some of his efforts like Arista/Freedom's HIGH WON HIGH TWO with its side-long WEST SIDE STORY medley (sheesh!) leaves a lot to be desired as does his appearance on some of Archie Shepp's most nauseating post-free play sides imaginable (plus I gotta admit that I never did play his concept album about Hawaii despite having owned it for a good ten or so years already!). So it is hit or miss with regards to Burrell's wares true, but thankfully this disc done for the French America label (yet another of those expatriate free jazz companies that I'm sure screwed their artists even more royally'n BYG!) back in '70 is Burrell at perhaps his pinnacle in the noise realm. Well, not really since very little can top ECHO, but this 'un's got Burrell and band (with top notcher Silva playing violin and electric/acoustic cello plus the nonpariel Roscoe Mitchell scronking up things a bit) playing about as free as late-sixties parameters would permit creating a truly nova music that surely must prove that the late-sixties American expatriate scene was perhaps even more creative and juice-filled than the one inna States, and given that a good portion of the top players were coagulatin' overseas could anything else be closer to the truth???
Here's an interesting tidbit about this album, and how it unexpectedly ties into the Detroit High Energy Scene that was taking place at the very same nanosecond this music was being recorded: the bassist on two of these three tracks (as well as manic mandolin plucker) is one Ron Miller, a name that should be familiar to those of you who have been following and categorizing the Detroit/Ann Arbor underground scene of the late-sixties given how he was the bass guitarist as well as co-leader with future Commander Cody guitarist Bill Kirchen of the legendary and mostly unheard Seventh Seal. As you may remember, the Seal were a group that shared a whole lot of stages with the likes of the MC5 during the early days of the rock in revolt scene that encompassed the area during those rather volatle times, and you could say that they were legendary enough to the point where fan Ron Asheton once described their sound as being Velvet Underground-y (though Kirchen will admit he didn't quite care for their tuneage) and that Kirchen and Miller attempted to get Iggy Pop into the band as drummer and were bummed out that he wanted to shift gears and become a singer (!). Anyway, after the Seal split up and Kirchen joined Cody, Miller formed a group along with local drummer Don Moye that was called the Pigfuckers who actually shared stages with the Five and Stooges before heading over to France and seemingly greener pastures. Anyway the "PF"'s as they were known in polite company were strictly into the new jazz thing, and not surprisingly enough Miller ended up playing bass and mandolin on some rather intense passages on this album while Moye himself (who had been integrated into the Art Ensemble of Chicago by this time) plays drums on track #3 entitled "My March" (delivering some fantastic military ratta-tat), so perhaps this is the closest we'll even come to a PF's record at least until noted commie John Sinclair opens his vaults to all like a nice capitalist with the brains should. The whole story kinda makes me wanna know if there were plans for any recordings, and if any were made, where may they be? America is waiting, Sinclair, and maybe it's time for you to redeem yourself and open sesame your archives so's us true proles can hear this stuff 'stead of just the hip chic upper-class snobs! Anyway, for Sinclair's take on the band just press here which'll take you to a page which could say more'n I could ever hope to plagiarize.
(Oh, and in case you didn't know, Miller was the bassist on those early Panther Burns sides which only adds to the underground mystique even more making me wonder why these Seventh Seal/PF recordings are rotting away somewhere when they could be released for all of us kicked-out jamz maniacs to appreciate!!! But I'll guess I'll be expecting releases from both of these aggregates about the same time some Man Ray and classic NYC no wave stuff from the Gynecologists and Daily Life amongst other obscure-os finally makes it out which I guess will be around the same second I start collecting my old age pension at which time I'll probably be deef anyway which would figure!)