A FEW REVIEWS TO CHASE AWAY DA BLOOZE
Not that I'm particularly feeling down in the mouth as they used to say about Linda Lovelace (which brings to mind a whole buncha old DEEP THROAT jokes 'n riddles that wre flopping around in the seventies like this one; "Why did Richard Nixon see DEEP THROAT three times? Because he wanted to get it down pat" [get it down Pat...geddit?])...but I thought that I should do my doody and write something for you hungrier-than-thou blogfans sometime this mid-week lest I get slack 'n start posting just once inna blue moon like way too many bloggers out there in competitorland do.
But before I get down to brass balls I thought I'd mention one thing that maybe we should all cry and boo-hoo about, that being the death of none other'n CBGB founder and owner Hilly Kristal who succumbed to the lung cancer he'd been battling for a few years this past Tuesday. Y'know, in some ways I find it not-so-strange that Hilly's passing came within less than a year after his famous beer garden capsized thanks to a buncha New York City dogooders Kristal shoulda saw through from the start, but in many respects I do find it kinda bizarre that the deaths of both CBGB and Kristal have been garnering so much heavy duty press on-line, especially since the closing of chief CBGB competitor Max's Kansas City got hardly a line a good twenty-five years back. Of course CBGB's had a good quarter-century on Max's to do a little more myth-making on its own, but even the most strident anti-mainstream rock/media maniac out there's gotta admit that the fact that both the closing of CBGB and Kristal's own death getting as much notice as it has pretty much proves just how much underground rock (including all of its varying forms) has become inbedded into the same mainstream consciousness. And I'm talking the same mainstream we all used to (and in many respects continue to) rail against that would callously toss off the new breed of creative rock but eventually came to acknowledge if not accept that same sorta wild bray, even if it ain't exactly on a wide all-encompassing level like most of you BLOG TO COMM readers wish it would!
Y'know, I really don't care that much about the patented CBGB history and how it spawned all those "save the world bands" (as John Crawford so aptly put it) who played there and helped to save rock & roll from itself, or something like that. (At this point in time, I'm more in awe of CBGB and its varying spinoffs for booking the likes of Sandy Bull, Sonny Sharrock and Byard Lancaster!) After all of these years on the rock fandom circuit I gotta say that I'm more concerned with the club as a place that sorta typified if not SIGNIFIED what could happen when garage rock finally got a place to showcase its talents or its glorious ineptitude for that matter. Before the likes of CBGB, Max's and to a lesser extent the earlier Mercer Arts Center, Club 82 and Mothers began concentrating on booking the wide array of local original music acts (of more stripes than the typical punk'd admit) in the burgh, the concept of an underground rock "scene" was very little more than a loose smattering of bands forming and breaking up here and there with very little local support to warrant any real scene strength, or success for that matter. CBGB made these bands in the face of cover and tribute groups milking the dead corpse of the sixties a viable alternative to the usual music biz goings on, and for that we have Hilly to thank or else groups like the Ramones and Television would've never put out records, or at least would've become instant flea market fodder langushing amidst all of those Flamin' Groovies and ? and the Mysterians albums we used to see peddled as so much cheap fodder.
And here's something that's really gonna get you communist readers all hot and angry...CBGB and the hard work of Kristal were once again proof that the market is the friend and not the enemy of the young upstart musical trend! Yes, even ratfink I (back when I actually bought into the whole government scam so popular amongst people who claim to loathe the machine unless democrats are in office) once thought that perhaps the underground rockers needed to be funded (and broadcast amidst the usual crap of the day) just like the local boring symphony orchestra and other "public goods" that most of the public really couldn't give one whit about. Rather silly especially in retrospect, but the fact that CBGB was booking original music and people were writing about it while records were being recorded and sold (not as many as Robin Trower mind you, but then again how many has he sold lately?) and the likes of Greg Shaw at BOMP! and a whole slew of fanzines and prozines were writing about even the lesser-known groups coming up from garage band obscurity only showed us that if the word got out and people were made aware that there was more that could be sought out and purchased, that an audience would grow and groups like the Stooges and New York Dolls would sorta transcend their cult status into...mega-cult status perhaps but ya gotta admit that a whole lot more people know about 'em and enjoy their sounds now than they did thirtysome years back!
Anyway, onto the reviews. There are a few more disques than the ones reviewed here that are due for the chopping block and rather soon at that including Lou Rone's latest extravaganza PLASTIC PISTOL as well as the Home Blitz CD that Eddie Flowers has been raving about from here to Granada Hills and back, but those and more will have to wait until they are fully digested and pass from the sphincter of my psyche safely into the toilet bowl of musical glory. Until then, here are a few digitized platters that have played about on my digital launching pad this past week, and please, feel grateful that I decided to let you in on the whole throbbing scam!
***The Yardbirds-FOR YOUR LOVE CD (Jimco Japan)
I dunno if any of you people have your own stoopid-doopid things you've done inna past that you wish you can go back in time and rectify, but I sure have! And most of 'em have to do with passing up on records espied not only in a wide array of record bins throughout my life, but ones that were up for sale at various flea markets back inna wild and wooly past! Frankly, I didn't know what I was gonna be in for when I handed over your precious fifty cents for the tempting album or single in question, and considering how scarce moolah was for me back then it wasn't like I was gonna part with a lotta my hard-begged only to get home, slap the disc onto the turntable and encounter another DOG! Back then I certainly was not the adventurous kinda fellow I would eventually evolve into (with more money in my coffers helping to finance such adventures) which is why I passed up on getting the two Silver Apples album and the Fugs' TENDERNESS JUNCTION at Michaelangelo's Flea Market back in '81 or worse yet the Yardbirds' FOR YOUR LOVE album plus this neat-o looking long-hair rock exploito platter (mid-Southern origin) featuring a buncha kids with outrageous wigs posin' with their gear onna lawn which some mid-aged gal was sellin' at the Hartville Ohio Flea Market during the rock action summer of 1979. Y'know, I've been kicking myself for passing on those platters for all these years after, especially after I caught the former on sale for seventy-five smackers at a recent antique show in upstate En Why a few weeks back! OK, you can all say it now (in unison)...CHRIS, WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?!?!?!?!?
And if you think that my spotting of that $75 Yardbirds elpee didn't bring back a lotta bad memories of a less-than-brainy past yer right...but at least it nudged me into getting hold of this Cee-Dee reish of the platter'n it's a pretty decent job at that! I gotta say that when the Yardbirds got into their more bloozy stuff as was wont most of these British "cats" that I felt like heading for the nearest outhouse but FOR YOUR LOVE is rather solid without most of the studied blues leanings that I'm sure turned off more'n a few of you half-baked readers. The playing is still punk rock raw to keep you on tippy-toes, while Jeff Beck's sounding particularly nasty here playing particularly un-polished w/o any of that seventies fusion quap that might've gotten him smack dab on the front cover of DOWN BEAT but not COWABUNGA. And Keith Relf's singing is tough enough that you kinda forget he's one-a them English poofs you keep reading about! Great high-energy music that still stands the test of time, but could somebody out there tell me which track Beck is playing violin on? Don Fellman sez it's one of his fave Yardbird moments but I can't seems to tell where that (or the electric saw...shades of what the Red Crayola would soon unleash on an unsuspecting rock audience?) appear! Maybe I'm mistaking both sounds for the great buzzsaw guitar playing, but until then just say that I am inna dark.
I will let you know that I did make amends for passing on that Yardbirds album because three years later, at that exact same flea market, I purchased the much-desirable Yardbirds double-set of BBC sessions (and THE MILTON BERLE SHOW appearance!) bootleg BROKEN WINGS released on the Italian Della Quercia label for fifteen bucks, then a seemingly outrageous sum but as time has proven I was the wiser for it. Well, at least I could sleep at nights knowing that I had rectified a prior right royal flub with regards to my own purchasing power! But please, make sure that I don't let this happen again!
***John Cage-WORKDS FOR PERCUSSION performed by the AMADINDA PERCUSSION GROUP VOLUMES 1 AND 2 (Hungaroton, available through Forced Exposure)
Here're a couple I wish I could send back in time to sate my 1978 John Cage obsession that was tearing at me life and limb because...frankly at that time you just couldn't go to the nearest record store'n pick up some John Cage album outta the bin unless it was that perennial cheapie HPSCHD with Lejarn Hiller or later on the legendary Eno-produced Jan Steele/John Cage VOICES AND INSTRUMENTS platter on Obscure. Oh well, it wouldn't do me any good to send these items back to my former self via the Wayback Machine since they didn't even have Cee-Dee players onna market back then, but considering how the huge bulk of recorded Cage material was pretty much outta print or outta the range of my pocketbook (and I still have the letter George Avakian wrote me regarding his 25th Anniversary John Cage triple set somewhere...) it's great that I have these two collections of early Cage percussion ensemble pieces and better late than never even though I gotta admit that impact woulda been a lot STRONGER then!
The Hunky Amadinda Percussion Ensemble do the music proud and it's sure a revelation hearing some of those early numbers like "First Construction (In Metal)" for the first time getting alla them tingly kinda nervesplits just like I woulda back inna old days. It's also great hearing such previously-earlobed stuff like "The Wonderful Widow of Eighteen Springs" done in the here-and-now and compare 'em with the aforementioned Avakian set or even Robert Wyatt's variation on the Obscure album. And naturally some of this stuff sounds a lot different "here" than it might "there" (take the version of "Credo in US" that appears on volume two and play it back-to-back with the Cage-supervised forties recording that appeared as a seven-inch single a few years ago!) but I think that was the whole idea behind Cage's works. And somehow I think that the uproarious booing that you hear on the live set was just as much as part of the performace as the music itself...with Cage you never really knew.
Interestingly enough, some of the tracks on disc #2 (which takes us from the early-forties until 1950) aren't exactly percussion ensemble pieces but feature prepared piano either solo or as part of an ensemble. Since these pieces are part of larger works its no wonder they were included, but considering how Cage developed the prepared piano from earlier Henry Cowell experiments because it was a lot easier to stick pencils and erasers between the strings to get that clanky sound rather than drag all those drums and gongs along to a theatre perhaps they fit into this context just as much as those great persussion pieces do.
***FAUST IV 2-CD set (Virgin Holland)
Finally for today comes this recent reissue of the famed fourth (and last in seventies chronology) Faust album that was recorded at the Manor in Wales back in '73 and oddly enough was making underground vibrations seven years later during the great "Rock Oriented Electronics" fad within the new wave. And, as if ths case with most of these early-seventies krautrock sides, FAUST IV continues to hold up with its great Faustian blend of electronic and acoustic to make a truly progressive punk rock sound (something that should be delved upon in a future post) but hardened ones will want it for disc two which, besides the obligatory alternate and extended versions has...the same BBC stuff you already got on the Faust box set and other collection cloggers you really don't need to have again unless you're that rabid a fan to which I say you probably already have FAUST IV and are probably spinning it right at this very minute. With all of the unreleased Faust stuff in the vaults I dunno why they have to just piddle around dishing the familiar back at us (same goes for Can), but maybe the record labels that handle 'em are waiting to release this stuff at the "right moment." Just what that right moment is I do not know, but methinks it's gonna be sometime in the distant future when the holograms of Faust and Can tour selected Old Folks Homes sometime in the middle portion of this century.