Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Controlled Bleeding-SONGS FROM THE SEWER 4-LP box set (Vinyl on Demand)

A happy day after Christmas to you all, and I hope all you good BLOG TO COMM-sters got what you well as all you BAD ones as well ifyaknowaddamean! And to all of my readers in the (y)UK, a HAPPY BOXING DAY! Paul McGarry was telling me all about this special day for you Britsters, Canucks and assorted aboriginies where everybody inna kingdumb sets up boxing rings in living rooms, garages and/or basements, invite friends, family and neighbors over, don the gloves and go at it a few rounds! Sounds really fun, especially with McGarry regaling me with tales of him doing his Muhammed Ali impressions upon entering the ring, and picking up lost teeth upon exit! I wonder why Boxing Day never caught on in Ameriga, because it sure seems a lot more fun than the day-after-Christmas tradition here inna U. S. of Whoopee where we put on disguises so people won't know that we're returning the not-so-goodies they gave us the day before! But for some reason I have the feeling that McGarry is (as usual) pulling my leg...perhaps "Boxing Day" is something a lot more old-timey traditional and suited for people who still read Charles Dickens and have strange romantic notions as to how much fun it would've been to live in mid-19th century England! Sheesh, you can't trust anyone in this day and age, right Paul?!?!?!

And although yesterday was Christmas, I gotta relay to you albeit one day late that X-mas '07 was one of the most uneventful Christmasses that I've ever had the opportunity to live through! And although many of the past twenny or so were pretty blech I can sure remember a whole lotta fun Christmastimes ever since I was a wee three-year-old and got that neat pedal car which eventually got handed down to a few younger cousins before ending up in the garage sale lot. Anyways that very evening we were at my uncle 'n aunt and cousins' house for the usual party, and my one cuz wouldn't let me near the tin gas station he got as a gift, so I bit him on the back of the neck right when he was getting really engrossed with his newfound item! A pretty good hickey as well (my sister thinks the whole idea of me biting him was sexual, but what does a three-year-old kid know about that stuff anyways!), and I remember him cryin' while sittin' on the upstairs toilet while he had some ointment rubbed on his bitemark! The best thing about it is that I didn't get whalloped for my behavior, probably because it was Christmas and my folks didn't wanna ruin it for me even though I clearly was the perpetrator! Ah, those are the memories I most value as I grow old!!!

How I sure wish Christmastime was still like those wild days of yesteryear, but with the fambly dying off or getting way too old to throw parties (and the babyboom-booms either living outta town or shirking their partytime responsibilities) I doubt I'll ever see them days again! But then again what else is least I had some fun rummaging through my boxes of fanzines and reading the final issue of HYPE which sure brought back those old rock & roll throb thrill feelings more'n pronto, and between hiding from visitors and avoiding yet another helping of ham (which I thought was way too fatty for my system to endure) I spent the day listing to SONGS FROM THE SEWER, this new box set of old and freshly-recorded Controlled Bleeding offerings that, shall I say, got me into a much more jovial mood than all the plum puddings inna world (an English trad I sure wish would've translated into Amerigan tastebuds 'cuz the stuff is good!) could ever!

For me and most of you readers I presume, Controlled Bleeding were more or less an eighties fixture on the underground rock scene, making album after compilation track of "industrial music" that most critics called hard listening or difficult or whatever words they could scrape outta their already dogeared thesaruses in order to describe the oftimes harsh and grating music that this group could dish out when it wanted to. For me, the haunting (and on-the-rise) specter of "krautrock" reared its head whenever I'd listen to those synth-laded screeches and repeato-riffs, an observation which didn't settle too well with head Bleeder Paul Lemos during our all-too-short letter-writing days. And true Lemos has every right to avow or disavow various musical movements that he may or may not have "borrowed from", but sheesh if I didn't think a lotta the Controlled Bleeding stuff I heard resembled choice moments from Neu! and Harmonia marinated in a little bitta Faust to boot! But hey, what does a snotty upstart rock & roll fan (not "critic" as way too many wonks would have it) know about this stuff anyways! (Don't answer that!)

But whaddeva, Controlled Bleeding were sure a good and engrossing in the face of eighties feelygoodisms group, and this box set (which reminds me of all those classy old-time box sets my dad and mom have with big band and opera tracks that they used to play a lot until sometime in the seventies when I think they just got too fed up with it all!) is a great encapsulation of Lemos and company's careers from their late-seventies days of bitter struggle until the present. And on these four platters they sure cover a lotta area and traverse into different underground genres that'll surprise even the more-in-tune listener. Take the "modern" stuff recorded only a few months back with the help of none other than Weasel Walter, which comes way too close to seventies-period Cecil Taylor for comfort. And of course there's the live early-eighties vintage tracks done at an old fogey's home in Nyack New Jersey with free jazz spatterers Borbetomagus which I'm sure surprised the gathered geriatrics who were more or less expecting the best of Guylum Bardot and his sister Brigette! Really, you're in for a surprise if you only knew Controlled Bleeding from their eighties electronic workouts and pseudo-Baroque classical tracks, and if you too miss the joy of opening up a 12-inch box to relive classic old-timey vinyl shock reaction, boy is this package custom made for you!

And of course amidst the nutty industrial spew (I like the songs with the strange chattering voices careening throughout!) you also get the original group live, even some late-seventies trackage which shows the roots of the entire noise shebang that would soon come to blessed fruitation in the eighties as well as the now-legendary guitar/organ/drums version of the group not only on their single debut "Wall of China" (a rarity that always slipped between my oft-gaped fingers) but some live tracks including one at the famed CBGB opening for Suicide! For me this is the most interesting Controlled Bleeding lineup as they romp through what sounds like mid-seventies jazz/garage rock with ? and the Mysterians organ and John McLaughlin-inspired guitar sounding more like a band I think woulda played CB's during their mid-seventies initial spurt rather'n in the early-eighties well after the fall! Maybe with a name like "The Paul Lemos Trio" they coulda gotten their two gigs there and a Fred Kirby writeup before vanishing into nada but hey, the high-paced jazz/organ battles are so precise and entertaining I coulda used a whole elpee of this and less of the total blare because it just about exemplifies everything I liked about underground rock to begin with before it became way too self-conscious of itself (as have """I""" to a certain extent, but we won't talk about it at least not yet!).

At least the more in-control (and thus less engaging) material with Joe Papa doing his operatic moans was kept to a minimum if at all. Otherwise this box set is a great one to either introduce yourself to or refamiliarize yourself with just how important Controlled Bleeding were to the oft-barren eighties underground scene. And not only that, but the discs are pressed up nice and heavy just like in the old days plus the sound is sure pure, even in analog (yay!) and has that great vinyl warmth that you just can't get outta some Cee-Dee. Although it might be a bit pricey (paid plenty for mine, though I've seen copies being sold for as much as $125!!!!) some of you rich kids wouldn't lose anything scoring a copy for yourself. As for the rest of ya, well you know what to do once you hit 53rd and 3rd, eh?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nice review of SONGS FROM A SEWER OF DREAMS...after not being accessible on the web at all, CONTROLLED BLEEDING now has a site at, and a MySpace page: BEFORE THE QUIET, another reissue set, is scheduled for release on MVD in April, and Lemos is also working on a download only EP due out around the same time.