ANOTHER BLOG TO COMM VINYL/CD/BOOK LISTENING/READING ORGY!!!
I'd say that I'm sorry for missing my usual midweek culturally-significant posting for all of you gathered BLOG TO COMM fanatics out there but really, I'm not. True, this cavalierness with regards to keeping you lumpen lumps updated about various smart-set doofus listening/reading/viewing material ain't exactly anything that would endear me to some of you rabid blogwatchers out there but frankly, it's not like I always have the energy, time or inclination to sit down at the ol' keyboard and peck out exactly what I'm thinking of subject "X" at any given time like I'm sure a lotta you younger bloggers can with relative ease. And although I'm sure many of you reg'lar readers out there are just living to see what I may think about said subject (being the hotsiest to trotsiest thing on whatever's left of the underground scene) it's not like I'm at your beck and call each and every hour of the day to satisfy your needs! Hey, back inna old days when I would actually take anywhere from two weeks to two years to crank out the latest ish of my own crudzine there may have been months when I'd spend upwards of six weeks away from my tried 'n trusty word processor, only to return to the beast with a rabid ferocity once the IMPETUS (mostly a new album or p'haps videotape courtesy Bill Shute) would wing its way to my door. So don't go 'round sayin' that I'm just another shirker on the blogscope, because what I'm giving you (bi)-weekly is something that woulda taken me a hefty three weeks to write back inna old days!
But just because I'm that sorta guy (no, not that sorta guy you silly thing!), I thought I'd deliver an extra-large hunking/heaving blogpost your way this weekend just so's you faithful (hah!) readers will still wuv me! And yes, I'm gonna try my darndest to make this vinyl/Cee-Dee/reading material orgy one of the biggest and bestest blogs that I've ever had the pleasure of dishing out at you rockism-starved readers out there...it'll be a doozy that you can bet on, and to punch it up a bit I'll even throw in a lot of invective or even the usual wind-bagginess I know you all love and at no extra charge! Believe-you-me, this BLOG TO COMM post is one for the archives 'n what's best about it the whole thing comes free of charge, unless you're reading this at a public library and you get fined for tuning into such "subversive" reading material! But until the Miss Prissies catch you, just settle back and get ready for a real fun ride into rockism's seedier, less slick side...
***The Electric Eels-THE EYEBALL OF HELL CD (Scat)
Amoeba (raft boy)-BAD FUGGUM FROM THE MYSTERIUM (Smog Veil)
Wanna hear something funny? A few years ago this guy, in what turned out to be yet another example of the usual build up/knock down mentality often seen throughout the "benevolent" underground, berated (in his usual distortion-of-reality way) this very writer (me!) for alledgedly being tres redundant over-and-over ad infinitum onandon to the point of self-righteous nausea with regards to various underground postmarks of the under-the-counterculture rockism scene! Main cases in point according to the Materialist One were my so-called repeated cheerleading of such important happenings on this aforementioned "scene" as BACK DOOR MAN magazine (a fanzine I'm sure most of you would never have known about had it not been for my article on 'em back in issue #22) and none other than Cleveland early/mid-seventies proto-punk wunderkind the Electric Eels if you can believe that! (Said writer also dismissed my tastes matter-of-factly by belittling my general rah-rah attitude regarding such enlightening acts as the Plastic People of the Universe and Von Lmo, the latter a musical entity that said "critic" once saw live and even raved about before making his abrupt 180! I guess the effect of bad eighties alternative rock in the bloodstream coupled with the uncompromising delusional fury of Christopher Hitchens does have its downsides.) Anyhoo what really smacked of said "writer" not doing his homework (maybe the wife/dog/same thing ate it?) was the plain and simple fact that I had not written anything about the aforementioned Electric Eels in my mag or elsewhere (remember, these were the pre-blog days) since at least the very-early nineties and in fact I hadn't even LISTENED to the Eels for just as long a time, only mentioning them in very brief passing on rare occasion! How this chowderhead brought up the Eels as some sorta group I was writing about and mentioning to the point of flogging their cold meat into hamburger I do not know, though it sure did seem suspicious for a guy to belittle me for namedropping/overpraising these guys when I haven't when HE'D rant and rave about Mission of Burma and the Flesheaters to the high heavens (oops...sorry I forgot you don't believe in that!) and back and that sure smacks of something that I've been called more'n a few times, and by this imbecile as well!
But snooty bloggers doing the all-important cut-down or not (and trying to cover up their crimes by playing it all down to nada), I gotta say that it wasn't until NOW that I got hold of these now-ancient (re)issues of class Electric Eels sputum, and why I've waited so long is really hard to say. Well, not really, since I must be the first to admit that even I have tired of the whole Cleveland First Wave retrogarde fandom, especially after listening to the same tracks over and over to the point where they began losing their "demonically intense" (as Charlotte Pressler put it in her great Andrew Klimek article) sway over me. Heck, it got to the point where even the new to my ears stuff that was coming out in droves by the nineties wasn't thrilling me as much as it did in '80 when underground rock (whether it be punk, new/gnu wave, garage or even heavy metal if you will) was still a matter of testing one's true mettle in this upstart youth world of ours, and though I'd still like to hear more Milk and can only imagine what the original Crocus Behemoth/Charlie Weiner-led Rocket From The Tombs sounded like it wasn't as if I was just digging this stuff up in ohmigosh wonderment like I was when I was a kid reading an old comic section of the newspaper comparing the styles of then and now. I mean, I've always felt jaded like a whore, but sometimes I can put on a demeanor and attitude towards music, books and life that would have made Josef Stalin look like Ozzie Nelson in comparison.
But sheesh, I dunno but lately that ol' vim and verve has been returning to my system to the point where I can take this music and on its own levels the same way I did when I was fifteen or twenty, and whaddya know but after a good decade or so of avoiding the Electric Eels like the plague they suddenly have meaning in my otherwise iffy existence! And so I purchased these two platters which I know will cheer me up even more'n watching old YOGI BEAR cartoons have, and given their sonic bombardment can you think of a better way to resensify yourself after being submerged into a lifeless/loveless pit of alternative music doldrums that have been permeating our world these past two decades?
THE EYEBALL OF HELL, the latest in hopefully a long line of Electric Eels exhumations, is perhaps the best of the lot as far as these Eels homages go. Oh don't get me wrong, I really like all of the other Electric Eels LPs and CDs that have been crawling out of the alternative gutter ever since the word about 'em being perhaps thee self-defining moment in underground hoo-hah got out in the eighties (and I just wonder who it was gettin' that word out, if you know what I mean!), but this package has got it all from not only the great selection of Eels lore both previously-released and not, but having Eels co-leader John Morton write the liner notes was an act of pure genius (from what I've been told, a lot of it being "hush-hush" an' all, this guy ain't exactly an "agreeable" fellow, but what other kind of person could make a music such as this without sacrificing some shard of sanity?) and the information spewed by both he and fellow Eel Brian McMahon is what I would call engrossing. And hearing the single version of "Agitated" after all these years sure brings back the memories (to the day and time in January '80 when I first gave that 'un a spin, and on the same afternoon I bought the cutout Troggs VINTAGE YEARS set which was yet another all-important psyche-booster)! Of course with the detailed liners and the general snaz package we also get to hear that boss old as well as enlightening new material which at least for me sends thus humble blogger back to the seventies and very-early eighties when the underground/punk/no wave/whatever it was called that eventually ended up as that dross called "alternative music" was truly an awe-inspiring, adventurous to young upstart suburban kiddies like myself affair. True a whole hunkerin' lot of this is on them other Electric Eel disques which are now hopelessly outta print and you probably have all that tasty tench in your collection already, but who would dare pass up the likes of the cover of "Dead Man's Curve" (which is presented here as a loft recording though I thought it came from the tape of the Eels' last live gig recorded at the WRUW-FM courtyard September 9, 1975!) or the reduction of free jazz to its basest form called (what else but) "Jazz Is (Part 2)"! Yes every track is a winner and if you wanna show your knowitall kid what rock & roll is all about I suggest you slip one of these in with his pablum and teach him a two or thing!
Those of you BLOG TO COMM readers who didn't quite care for John Morton's post-Eels band Ex-Blank-Ex probably won't care for Amoeba (raft boy) either. And frankly I don't think the Amoeba guys, even with the presence of such Clevo standbys as Paul Marotta and Paul Lawrence, are as boffo as the Electric Eels or even Ex-Blank-Ex remain, but I still like this early-nineties give-it-a-go a lot more than a lotta pointy-heads looking for the past in the present and not being satisfied ever could. Lead vocalist Christian Brown is wild but not Dave E.-esque enough; however he comes off as a believeable frontman for this group sorta reminding me of Warren Stahurski of Manster in his braggadocio manner, and the re-dos of old Electric Eels, Styrenes and Pagans numbers really fits the bill well 'nuff even if they do have that nineties approach rather than a seventies kinda shake to 'em like the Eels and Ex-Blank-Ex certainly had. But why should I complain? Morton still plays his guitar like he was being chased by a rabid pack of PC police just rarin' to beat him up again, and if he were smart he woulda billed this aggregate as "The New Electric Eels" or better yet "John Morton's New Electric Eels" and raked in the well-deserved cash! But whatever, it all fits into the main underground vision fine enough and I'm glad that Morton was (and in fact "is") still active in rock music, even if he has to now fight amongst droves of less-talented acts for that precious stage time that was all-so elusive thirty-five years back.
***Noah Howard-THE BLACK ARK CD (Bo Weevil, available from Forced Exposure or Vocanic Tongue)
I'm still not sure of all the whys and wherefores as to why THE BLACK ARK never did get reissued until now, but had this disc had only made it out with the rest of those great Arista/Freedom platters during the mid/late-seventies avant-jazz surge we sure woulda had fun finding copies popping up all over the place in used bins nationwide! And why not, for this set, like a good portion of the Arista/Freedom (or just plain Freedom) collection was pretty adventurous music from a time when it seemed as if music prided itself on just how far outside the realm of "acceptability" it could go, without sounding like the total jagoff anti-human wallow of way too many self-produced experiments in terror one comes across these days. But whaddeva the holdup was the tiny Bo Weevil label has finally secured the rights, and as anyone who's latched onto an original or perhaps the way-too-expensive Japanese reissue knows this one is a great second-generation avant-jazz screamer.
Perhaps the true star of the show is none other than current free-jazz hero (thanks to Rudolph Grey and the Blue Humans) Arthur Doyle making his recording debut in such a strong "NOTICE ME!" way that I'm surprised that they didn't reissue this monster under his own name to capitalize on his ever-growing fame. It probably would've sold mountains more, but I know these guys ain't in in for the moolah and really this is Howard's trip all the way even if Doyle tries to upstage him with some of the more feral, atonal buzz squonk heard on an avant-jazz dish like this in a pretty long time!
If you go for the more out-there late-sixties/seventies sound that seemed to burst forth from the ESP and BYG labels into the Sam Rivers loft jazz scene through the eighties up to the Vision Quest Festival and the CBGB Lounge series of the early/mid-oh-ohs then you'll definitely go for this. I was reminded a bit of Frank Wright, but that's probably because of the Asian influence on "Mt. Fuji" which reminds me of Wright's side-long mangling of Far East forms on his "China" which come to think of it had Howard as a sideman and was recorded relatively around the same time as THE BLACK ARK as well.
***Lou Rone-PLASTIC PISTOL CD (download it from ITunes, Napster, Sony Connect,
Rhapsody, Emusic and wherever good music can be swiped!)
Hey it's finally out, and it's a winner as you'd probably already know. I've been a fan of Mr. Rone's for quite a long time, and as you may remember I gave his debut solo outing ALONE a mighty hefty rave in these very, er, pages a few years back. However, the man has a new, downloadable album out and PLASTIC PISTOL continues on where Rone's prior effort left off. It's yet another "I played all the instruments" kinda affair, yet this ain't no hipster borgasm we've come across way too many times o'er the years. It's electric, yet electronic with Rone's perhaps unpatented guitar lines mixing and swaying with a synth background that strangely enough reminds me of some of those early-eighties krautrock efforts that Connie Plank was involved with (ZERO SET and RASTAKRAUTPASTA come to mind). The snootier-than-thou crowd will undoubtedly up their nostrils at it, but wiser BLOG TO COMM aficionados are gonna be more than eager to lap this great slice of electro-metal up like so much Kal-Kan. Fave track, the second one where Rone's guitar erupts into pure metallic flange that kinda sounds like strange messages being received from the furthest reaches of Planet "X" are somehow entering your brain through Uranus.
***Tim Buckley-STARSAILOR LP (Four Men With Beards, available through Forced Exposure)
Way too much has been written about this once-reviled but now praised (mostly by ineffectual little snoots trying to pass themselves off as rock historians) album so why should I add to the fray even more? Because it remains a hot mofo of a platter, thaz why! Yeah, I gotta admit that I liked the thing (on and off depending on the wind shift I'll admit) ever since I got my paws on a copy back in '78 (though I was really tempted to pick up an 8-track cutout found at a shopping mall hi-fi shop a year before even though I didn't own a player, so at least gimme a li'l credit for that!), and what's more it's great hearing a vinyl copy that doesn't sound like it was thumped out on retreads like the two original pressings long-wallowing in my collection do. It, like most of the Straight/Bizarre line of instant-cutout quap, literally reeks cheap-o Frank Zappa tax write off (I mean, what kinda hipster in 1970 woulda wanted to buy an album with that cover?) but nowadays it sounds like another great album outta the past that you just KNEW was gonna influence a whole generation of numnuls thirty years down the line.
***EMTIDI LP (Wah Wah, Germany)
I dunno if you remember that SAAT album that came out on Pilz over in Germany back inna day, but that was a disque which I certainly would call a krautrock sleeper. This group, the duo of Canadian Dolly Holmes and local goosestepper Maik Herdschfeldt, played what could only be described as a cross between late-sixties English folk boom music and the electronic rock of the day making some interesting proggy-spew music that seemed to have way too much to do with the more aierie-fairie aspects of the progressive scene yet it managed to be saved by a general feeling of Fairport Conventionesque smarts 'stead of Emerson Lake and Palmer "Look how clever we are with all these instruments listed next to our names!" smug superiority. I recall one online critic dredging up the sacred name of the Velvet Underground as if Emtidi were mixing their prog nature with late-sixties garage band aspirations like Can and Amon Duul were...not really, but I find myself spinning in once in a blue ball anyways.
This self-tited effort's their debut from about a year before SAAT's heralded entry into import bins nationwide, and if anything EMTIDI shows that even without the electronic gadgetry and Dieter Dierks' production these two had that English folk trip down pretty good. Of course they don't sound quite as commercially avant garde as I'm sure the average bin watcher of the day woulda liked, but at the time I'm sure that the duo of Holmes and Hirdschfeldt were lucky enough to record this platter with the instruments they had let alone the latest in electronic gadgetry. Still they do manage to get avant garde at times, such as on elpee closer "Flutepiece."
***Various Artists-SOUNDSVILLE! LP (Design)
Yeah we've all heard those pre-Velvet Underground Lou Reed tracks over and over via a wide array of Velvets bootlegs that have made their way to our doors lo these past thirtysome years, but have any of you ever given a listen to the rest of this once-flea market staple that's probably now going for upwards of fifty-five smackeroos? The early Reed stuff via the Roughnecks and Beachnuts tracks is of course priceless and certainly point the way towards future Reed excursions both with and without the Velvets (I mean, remember that Honda ad Reed made back inna eighties? As Eddie Flowers mused, or something like that, they shoulda used "Cycle Annie" 'stead of "I Love You Suzanne" onna soundtrack!) but the rest ain't no slouch either. Jeannie Larimore's "Johnny Won't Surf No More" sounds like it coulda been an early Velvets track with that hammering guitar line and a wholesome Amerigan gal singin' the tuneage 'stead of that kraut Nico, while I'm more'n positive that it is Lou playin' the geet-box on almost all of these exploito numbers makin' 'em hot swagger in a world of crank-out sausage. The only dowser inna pack's the elpee closer "It's Hard For a Girl in a World Full of Men" by some Connie Carson character who sounds like one of those neat-o college kid folksters that used to pop up on HOOTENANNY because they wore turtlenecks and seemed clean, but you knew that the HUAC was lookin' out for 'em every chance they got! Other'n that, this just might be worth the megabux you'll bid on it via ebay!
***HOME BLITZ CD (Gulcher)
Well here's a surprise. I shoulda known after reading Eddie Flowers' apt review of these guys, but let's just say that there was this li'l debbil on my shoulder tellin' me not to fall for the hype like I've tended to these past twennysome years. Y'see, I've been around the block and back so many times I've gotta admit that some of these so-called hot flashes in unnerground rock just ain't what they're cracked up to be, but with a guy the caliber of Flowers hypin' this Home Blitz group tellin' us how they come off like the best of everything seventies rock stood for with oh-ohs intelligence added to it, well, I just hadda fall for the thing and I'm glad I did. Home Blitz is perhaps the surprise of the season, and given that way too many of these self-produced yammers are about as exciting as that early-eighties "amerindie" crap Robert Christgau was pushing on us all I gotta say is that it's sure wunnerful listening to something that's good, and finding out that the thing's a here and now proposition to boot!
From what I can tell, Home Blitz is led by a guy named Danny DiMaggio plus some cohorts...not too sure who because I can't locate my Flowers-penned hypesheet and I'm too lazy to read the interview posted on the guy's website until I post this thing and can easily click the link-up myself, but whatever they are they sure do evoke the best parts of the seventies underground scene, and what's tippy top about the whole thing is that unlike what Eduardo Flores doth writ I can't find any real eighties/nineties/oh-ohs "update" on the sound meanin' that if someone told me this actually was some long-long archival dig I undoubtedly would believe 'im!
Anyway this Dimaggio kid sounds just like that...a kid kinda like Jonathan Richman always had and the music seems to have that sorta early-seventies Modern Lovers-meets-Big Star sorta romp feeling to it and as if the thing were recorded in Greg Prevost's basement on Distorted Levels' discarded equipment as well. Some have slung the Half Japanese name into the mix but since I gotta admit to not being as hotsy on those guys as I once was (probably because of their association with, uh, less-savory elements in the alternative rock world) I think I'll just forget about mentioning 'em in Home Blitz's presence at least for now. But whaddeva, this disque is a true knotty-pine basement suburban teenage winner featuring the group's early self-recorded/produced singles as well as maybe some previously unreleased booty in order to drag the hardcore fans into buying this disc, and yeah I sure am lost without a hypesheet to guide me but you won't be lost with this truly indie offering on your laser launching pad!
And oh yeah that cover! It's sure great to know that Home Blitz spared no expense in getting some blind third grader to do the artwork for this disc! At least the little brat will be able to eat tonight! And with the likes of this and the Bon Vivants EP coming out in the here and now proving that there is good rock & roll being made without the sick dinge of "art" or "social relevancy" all I can say is...who needs the Vines anyway?
***Teiji Ito-MUSIC FOR MAYA 2-CD set (Tzadik, available from Forced Exposure)
Most BLOG TO COMM readers probably don't know who Teiji Ito was, and I'm sure that most probably wouldn't care to know who he was even if they had the chance, but since you've read this far and I forked over a lotta dough to buy this set maybe you should humor me for once. Ito was an avant garde musician who used his talents so to speak to make soundtracks for a whole variety of films that weren't exactly part of your normal moom pitcher diet. Most of them were underground/avant garde films done for wife Maya Deren, but others were for documentaries and even instructional films which I'm sure were trying to benefit from the austere world music-ish sounds that Ito was dabbling in at the time. This two-disque set, the third in Tzadik's series of Ito recordings, consists of nothing but such soundtrack music. Almost all of it, like for Deren's films such as MESHES OF THE AFTERNOON (an interesting piece of home-made avant filmwork even if it seems to be made just for wishy-washy college girls who ooh and aah over such detailed mystical twaddle as Brad Kohler would say) seems just as cold and austere as the films and people it was made for. The reason I bought the set was to hear Ito's foray into avant-jazz for Willard Maas' 1967 alledged rave-up ORGIA, and that was just as staid and unmoving as the rest of this stuff which made me feel like I was watching a classroom film back in grade school and the only thing on my mind was three o'clock that afternoon. Maybe in a million years, but not right now.
***Wurm-"Time Has Come Today"/"We're Off", "I'm Dead" EP; FEAST LP (SST)
Okay, I know I'm treading upon some other people's territory writing about these staunchly eighties offerings, and since I've never been what might be called a "keen" fan of that decade and that music maybe I shouldn't be reviewing this 'un at all. And while I'm at it maybe I'm not exactly that big a fan of Wurm's record label SST for a myriad assortment of reasons...y'see, I must admit to you that I do feel "slighted" that, of all the fanzines (excuse me...'zines) that had sprung up outta nowhere dealing in contempo rock culture in the early/mid-eighties mine was the only one not to score any much-needed SST adspace, and this is when they were advertising in just about EVERY crudzine that came down the pike thus bolstering the coffers of a lotta unworthies out there! Sour grapes indeed, and why should I forgive 'em, especially that whatzizname guy Farrell who was doin' a little badmouthin' about me behind my back after a few reviews of mine didn't quite reach up to his lofty expectations! But then again what could you say about a label that started out in this world shining oh-so-brightly, only to devolve into an utter mess of trashy tossout alternative drivel coupled with some of the worst jam band hippie musings one could imagine? In all, I guess that the relatively shoddy treatment I've received from not only SST but a wide range of underground heavies (and who could get heavier than Gerard Cosloy?) hadda do with me just generally being a hard-workin' suburban rock & roll fan from Nowheresville who didn't fit in with any of the perversion-crazed, ultra-left, pro-PC anti-humans making and recording the music who had unfortunately began calling all of the shots once the eighties began rollin' on by.
But fortunately none of this derisive anti-SST splatter I've been spewin' has anything to do with these Wurm fellows. Famous only because they were Black Flag bassist Chuck Dukowski's band in those pre-punk rock days, Wurm had the notable distinction of having reformed in 1982 as a performing and recording vehicle for the reknown bassist when legal hijinx made sure that Black Flag could not logically exist for a good many years (well, at least it seemed a good many years!). Before that, Wurm were yet another one of those lost-in-the-grooves underground bands that hadda fight it out with the Pablo Cruise gang for precious stage space to perform their original material, and if I can trust my handy-dandy cassette tape of a 1973 rehearsal sent me by an underground notable who has remained true and blue throughout the years these guys were pretty fierce in their performance and attack even then, surely a fitting antidote to the music that Southern California was making itself known for thanks to the likes of the Eagles, David, Joni, Jackson and a whole slew of pampered and privileged WASP menials who were born with silver spoons places sideways up their already-expansive buttocks.
Wurm's '82 debut EP is undoubtedly their best, capturing the same spirit of pure heavy metal mania that was present on that aforementioned cassette of mine (which I'll have to dig out and transfer to disque so it will be preserved for all time, or at least handy enough for my next heavy metal panic attack), strangely enough a sound which was ironically pretty much tres-feh! with a good portion of the HM listening audience in the late-seventies who were more interested in fancy guitar work and neato-hair than they were with music as a force to bludgeon. The cover of "Time Has Come Today" is faithful enough to the Chambers Brothers hit, and it is a great ditty and all that serves its purpose well but gosh-it-all I say an original would have been a better choice considering the importance of this platter. However the flip's an outright killer on contact with a short, more hardcore punky number ("We're Off") followed by the metallic stomper "I'm Dead" which is a survivor from the group's early days and has all of the power one would associate with a band that was weaned on Black Sabbath, King Crimson, the Stooges and...Yes??? But it's really powerful rock that just goes to remind one that the seventies from which this sonic blare was first spurted was certainly not that vast wasteland that disaffected leftoids and snooty upper-crust English bloggers make it out to be.
The FEAST longplayer arrived a few years later 'round '85, and I strongly recall a review of this 'un getting prominently slapped in the fourth issue of my very own crudzine as well which only goes to show you what kind of editorial tastes I've always had. I recall it if only because of contributor John Stanton's very on-target closing comment where he chides THE BOB magazine for their putdown of said disc, stating that perhaps the name of their rag meant that these guys like to "bob for logs in the toilet"!!! After twenty years, who can forget such a line as that? I should have been able to get enough ad-space from SST for that alone, but before Jay Hinman chides me for crankin' on about how jilted I've been lo these many years lemme just say that having listened to FEAST after stashing it in the back of the collection for maybe too long a time was certainly a resensifying experience in the truest Detroit fashion, making me wonder why these guys hadda break up again 'stead of churning out a few more for the SST label which was about to take their swan dive into the mung! I mean, I woulda rather had more Wurm in my collection than SWA, that's for sure!
I could question the inclusion of Dead Hippie's Simon Smallwood as lead vocalist 'stead of guitarist Ed Danky or bassist Dukowski, but Smallwood warbles well enough in that early-seventies hog-chortle style so suitable for bands both metal or not, while the selection of music on the platter was rather well-defined and a whole lot better'n most of the metallic flange that SST was tossing out by that time. I did notice a little bitta attention/energy loss once side two started rolling on, but then again things started to pick up by the time (I believe) "Jimmy's Song" hit the needle. Or at least that one with the harmonica scronk (courtesy Dez Cadena!) had me hoppin' and boppin' across the basement floor and yeah, it is a lot better'n I remembered and I remembered it being a pretty hot ticket to say the least.
Kinda makes me wish that Bill Shute would have finished that interview with Dukowski that he was attempting for his own fanzine back in '82 right around the time Wurm was reforming. (Bill tells me that Dukowski was a real gent, though he hadda hang up the phone when he realized that he was calling long distance on someone else's bill! I guess Dukowski just didn't know where he was living at that time or something, but it did seem a funny enough anecdote to include here!) I think there was going to be a Wurm track taken from the aforementioned cassette to have appeared on one of Bill's INNER MYSTIQUE EPs as well if only the interview went off hitch-less but whaddeva, at least we have these two discs to seriously contend with, and why they just ain't in the Heavy Metal Hall of Fame while a lotta unworthies are getting their egos and other things stroked by the horrid tastemongers at hand is only testament to the fact that...as the Amish say people just don't know what good is!
***AMAZING FANTASY OMNIBUS VOL. 1 (Marvel Masterworks, 2007)
And finally on today's agenda (I can hear more'n a few of you breathing heavy sighs of relief even this far away!) comes this new book that some enterprising soul tipped me off to a few posts back when I pondered just when Marvel was gonna reprint their old Dr. Droom (considered the first Marvel Age superhero) stories from the old AMAZING ADVENTURES title that appeared on the stands sometime in that hallowed year of 1961. Well, it turns out that not only the entire run of AA but its followup AMAZING (ADULT) FANTASY has been collected in boffo hardcover format complete with full color glossy pages to suit the more discriminating amongst us, and if you look hard enough maybe you can get it cheaper than the $75 cover price just like I did!
AMAZING ADVENTURES was indeed a transitional title that undoubtedly took the Marvel line from the old late-fifties Atlas monster/sci-fi themed comics that Stan Lee had been churning out with Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko and to a lesser extent Don Heck and Paul Reinman into the sixties superhero idiom that made Lee a star and put comic books on the hip-de-la-chic map ever since. I mean, there's no denying that AMAZING ADVENTURES did begin as a typical Marvel monster title with the back-page addition of a new superpowered continuing character, and it ended with the appearance of Marvel's very own Superman (Spiderman) so what else could you call it! Anyhoo, issue #1 (June '61) featured the debut of that aforementioned Dr. Droom, a long-suppressed by Marvel series which I for years thought dealt with the noted Fantastic Four villian Dr. Doom, an error which in fact indented into my little beanie thanks to Les Daniels' excello comic book history COMIX sometime in the early seventies. Those comic book histories always seem to have one or two factual errors in 'em so you could write in hoping to get a mention in the next (non-existant) printing of the thing, but until Larry Boyd told me otherwise (like two decades after the fact) that this series was about a Dr. DROOM I sure was wonderin' just what that short-lived series featuring the ironclad one was like considering he was a man of such extreme evil and all!
Turns out that these Droom sagas were pretty good in themselves, sorta like an unsold pilot for the comic which would eventually become Dr. Strange before they fine-tuned the thing and fired the leading actor. Of course whether or not you could call Anthony Droom a Marvel superhero per se is open to question given the guy merely roamed around in a trenchcoat and seemed to battle the usual alien creepage that the Fantastic Four and Thor were battling in their early issues, but just for being a continuing character who interestingly enough made his last appearance the exact month the Fantastic Four were making their first Droom has earned his place in the Marvel Universe even if his seventies reappearance as Dr. Druid seemed to be done only out of the goodness of Stan Lee's heart. (I guess the guy was hurting for work, but sheesh having two Masters of the Mystic Arts under one publishing house was sorta like when Hulk Hogan and Superstar Billy Graham were both wrestling for the old WWF back inna eighties!)
The rest of the AMAZING ADVENTURES run seems pretty much part and parcel to the standard pre-hero Marvel lot, with those great Jack Kirby/Dick Ayers monsters like SSERPO!, MANOO!! and worst of all LANGGG!!! terrorizing the populace only to get outwitted by some teenager or other early-sixties example of tough manhood who as usual uses his brains while the rest of the populace wanna fend off the alien creeps with rocks and logs! The Steve Ditko stories are boss as well...I always loved looking at his art back when these pre-hero sagas were being reprinted in a wide array of Marvel specialty titles in the seventies, and seein' 'em again (or for the first time) is always a treat for the eyes even if you just knew that Ditko was cringing over Stan Lee's scripts dealing with heartless businessmen and altruistic and lowly yet humble characters going again the entire capitalist and individualist thrust of Ditko's personalist works of the late-sixties and beyond!
With issue #7 the mag became AMAZING ADULT FANTASY, a title which I'm surprised was ever used at all due to the "durty" connotations which the word "Adult" would obviously imply that I'm sure had blue-haired mothers covering up Junior's eyes (hee!) upon passing the comic book rack. And the questionable title still seems apt even to this day...when unwrapping the book from its package Jillery even remarked to me "Where you gonna hide this one?" speculating that I've been keeping a whole lotta things outta view of the Wardens' watchful eyes in the past! Well, after reading these comics all I gotta say is that if these titles were especially "adult" in any stretch of the word then BAMBI should garner an "R" rating, for these sagas were nothing but the same quirky Lee/Ditko stories they had been doing for the past three or so years only gathered into one neat title that somehow also signalled a new change in direction for the company along with the superhero titles that were starting to spring up.
Now I gotta admit that some of these stories were in fact downright gag-inducing, but Ditko's art saves 'em no matter how much he himself must've been gagging at the prospect of drawing something he no doubt felt contrary to his own personal beliefs! Still I can read all of these comics over and over thanks to that great, mostly underappreciated artwork which, although seemingly simple, show a great deal of Kirby/Eisner influx that seemingly has slipped away from the form over the past few decades to the point where it's all pastafazool to me. (That's the Kurtzman influence in me!) At least by #15 "Spider-Man" was introduced and you could tell that all of the fantasy fillers were gonna be drawn by Larry Leiber from now on because it was pretty plain to see that, after years in the biz and lotsa late-night fears over being outta work, Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko had finally made it!
So where does that all put this book? For fans of the Marvel comics of the sixties these are yet more great archival offerings featuring two of the best artists to hit the comic boards, and for a guy like myself who continues to buy old seventies reprint titles featuring this stuff it's sure great to dig in once again. As for you...well, I can't tell if you're of the uppity snob variety or a comic book bum like myself, but if you're of the latter you don't have to be told anything because ya already know!
(Oh, and before I go did I ever tell you about the time Brad Kohler wrote me after my mini-article on the pre-superhero Marvel monster/sci-fi books in BLACK TO COMM #22 and he admitted that he too used to gobble up all those early-seventies repro titles? The odd thing about Kohler's remarks were that at the time he didn't know that those stories were reprints of early-sixties works but assumed that they were actual early-seventies sagas seeing the light of day for the very first time!!! For some odd reason, Kohler couldn't discern through the hairdos, automobile styles and clothing that these were old comics which baffles me to no end! I mean, sometimes Jillery will surprise me when she asks what year some TV show or movie was made, and when I ask her what she thinks [I usually can guess correctly within a few years myself judging from the styles to even the quality of the film stock] she's usually way off course anywhere from seven to fifteen years! But the fact that Kohler actually thought some obviously Cold War-era/themed comic was then-contemporary really boggles the mind! I dunno what to think, but then again I'm sure more than a few of you perusers out there think I'M daft!)