MERRY CHRISTMAS, PUDS!
Since this will be the last post before the biggun (12/25) hits the skids lemme be the last but most certainly least to wish all three of you rabid BLOG TO COMM readers a very Merry Christmas (forget the "Happy New Year" for now since I will be seein' y'all before that!) and here's hoping that all you menna good will out there get all the Vac-U-Forms, Thing Makers and Corgi Toys (albeit I still have a hankerin' for Dinkys since they put out a whole lot more Studebaker models!) you never got when you wuz a kid! As Liberace once said, Christmas is such a special time of the year, so special that you don't hafta be a Christer (old TEENAGE WASTELAND GAZETTE/Richard Meltzer term whose Jewish counterpart I prefer not to mention on this brotherly love-oriented blog!) to like the thing! In fact, it doesn't even HELP to be a Christian or any associated belief for that matter to enjoy Christmas so hey, all I gotta say is whoever you are and no matter whatever trash heap you worship at a MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL (the people I think deserve to be wished "Merry Christmas" that is!) and don't get too drunk before attending the Midnight Mass either!
As far as Christmas presents to me go, right now I'm feeling smug and superior enough to tell you readers that I already got my biggie last night, and that was none other than a phonecall from guitar master and all around great human being LOU RONE!!!! And we had a really great gab as well, talking about a whole lotta things both happy and sad but what really knocked my socks off was when Rone was cranking out some venerable Von Lmo-era riffs on his guitar while discussing the difference between the band when he and Kip Kuba were in it and afterwards, sayin' how he personally felt the Lmo group went from being a prime heavy metal aggregate to something more in a Devo style (!) after he handed over the guitar reins to a number of other players. The subject of how a lotta the early Lmo numbers were refurbishes of "Communication Breakdown" and "Whole Lotta Love" was brought up, as well as how Rone thought that the Shanghai Side Show was nowhere near as good as what those same guys were doing while in the Geofrey Crozier-fronted Kongress a few years earlier! Actually, Rone thought that Crozier was still acting wild enough onstage, but he says that the band was out of tune and that guitarist Robert Crash (pre-Rone Kongressman) looked funny playing the guitar with his teeth like Jimi Hendrix, whose riffs Crash was also "appropriating"! Between the Lmo-riffs and tales of how the audience was booing the guy at the ill-fated 1981 Palladium gig (!) all I can say is...what kinda phonecalls did all of my much-loathed enemies get this Holiday Season...greetings from their Aunt Flabbies?
Here're a few more from the recent supermarket sweep that I thought you might wanna read about before the big day hits and you wanna email Santy with some last-minute gimmes. It certainly is an interesting and varied selection of hot stuff if I do say so myself, and as usual you can trust me and my opinions 100% because frankly, have I ever led any of you readers down the wrong path, at least with regards to how you should spend you hard-earned moolah and what kinda hard-scronk to spend it on, eh???
The Jacks-VACANT WORLD/SUPER SESSION CD (Shagadelic Japan)
Although I must admit to being uninspired by this Japanese folk rock group's SUPERSESSIONS and ECHOES IN THE RADIO reissues from a few years back. I should say that I remember liking THE JACKS SHOW, or at least I think I did and I wouldn't mind reaquainting myself with the disc if I could only find it in amidst the various piles of vinyl that passes for my collection these days. However, given all of the rabid hubbub regarding the primero Jacks elpee VACANT WORLD that was spouted off via Julian Cope's JAPROCKSAMPLER not to mention a certain Swedish prick who was selling a bootleg of some heard-way-too-many-times Les Rallizes Denudes tracks a few years back, maybe by attention was piqued enough to latch onto this reissue, which in this case was coupled with their commercial showtimey offering SUPERSESSION which like I said I already had but I figured getting the thing again was a bargain even if I had about as much love for it as I do Jay Hinman!
But as for VACANT WORLD...well, it is pretty good though not the Japanese rendition of a classic Amerigan rock album like I was hoping it would be. Not anything really eyeball-gouging, but not instant douse either. The hit "Marianne" is wild...I mean, who else would think of merging 1967 folk rock with free jazz drums other than the Jacks do on this wild tale about some sea siren who drags the unassuming singer down to the bottom of the sea? And that equally free lead guitar being played over a repeato riff drone! How this one ever went over in olden Nippon I'll never know!
Most of the rest of this doesn't quite reach the same heights as "Marianne"...the vibraphone-laden "Stop the Clock" once again shows hefty Kyu Sakamoto Japanese pop emote, while the rest seems pretty much lower-groove musings with those selfsame Japanese pop sensibilities taken into good West Coast pop and blooze styleings which really doesn't offend ya, but it ain't like this is Denudes Redux either!
The title track does have the same downer-groove folk style as some of the softer numbers cranked out by Les Rallizes Denudes, and you can see how the Denudes guys swiped a few moves from the Jacks. But if you think that the same swirl of Japanese feedback and metallic marching moon mice sound of Les Rallizes Denudes can be found here then...well lookee again!
Bonus tracks tagged at the end are an uplift esp. after listening to SUPERSESSION get into the horn rock to the point of nausea. But still this is only for the ultra-serious six-oh Japrock fan to study under the the microscope like that guy in WOMAN OF THE DUNES studied obscure desert insects. That was yet another ref. to sixties Japan not quite knowing how to handle itself and its relationship to the rest of the world, and that's really no occident, Jack! (Heeeee, ze professor muz have heez leetle joke...).
***Terry Riley-MUSIC FOR THE GIFT CD (Elision Fields)
Dunno if this 'un is still in print because Elision Fields have dropped all reference to it on their website, so if you're looking for a copy of this nice slice of pre-IN C Terry Riley your best bet is to score on through ebay, and be prepared to pay a lot more than the $14.99 Brad Kohler paid for this. Yes, this very disc is a Christmas present to me from this longtime BLACK TO COMM supporter (and I don't mean as in a "sports supporter" either!), and although I usually don't open my gifts unto that fateful day arrives in this case I felt I just hadda even though I will refrain from playing the DVD of THE CORPSE GRINDERS he also sent me just like I will avoid the UNTOUCHABLES discs that other faithful companion Tonto, I mean Lou Rone gave me for that day of days coming atcha sooner than you expect!
Whaddeva, this ain't anything like those Terry Riley platters all you prog rockers dug the grooves outta back in the seventies. Naw, this is strictly "grey label" material (a ref. to Columbia's classical line appearing with a grey label 'stead of the usual red 'un for all you post-vinyl dummies out there!) featuring Riley not at his rock-si-chord or soprano sax but looping, echoing and generally mutilating a variety of sounds, mostly some late-fifties cool jazz with Chet Baker (!) that ends up sounding a lot more avant garde'n some of the avant garde that was coming out at the time (1963) this French play was being performed! Hearing Baker's muted trumpet going into repeato riff distortion ad infinitum does make for a splended bitta free jazz and I'm thankful that Kohler sent this thingie my way because...it sure makes up for that Thoth Trio snoozer I got from his last go 'round!
"Bird of Paradise" is pretty much tape mangipulation that actually bears some resemblance to the John Cale mid-sixties experiments that came out a few years back, only without the Velvet Underground madness those tracks exuded. (There!, I got my first Velvet Underground mention in for today!) In some ways it sounds like the noisy squeal that I would make when I would yank and pull the reel-to-reel cheapie tape recorder we had (Christmas present 1964) because I used to see those computer reels going in all sorts of strange, counterclockwise directions while watching them on TV not realizing that they were spinning freely and in opposite directions of each other because the TV flickers at 30 frames per second! (Y'know, the same effect where the tires are turning backwards but the car goes forward!) I got belted for my experiments, but Riley gets his pressed up on CD!
Of course by the time "Mescalin Mix" (a tape piece similar to the various John Cage "Williams/Fontana/Bridge Mixes" that were part of his blue period) hits the boards you're ready to head straight for the ibuprophyn and hopefully it will kick in in time for "Concert For Two Pianos and Five Tape Recorders" performed by Riley in conjunction with Lamonte Young. Taken from a 1960 radio broadcast emanating from (where else but) the University of California at Berkeley, the announcer gives an interesting talk on the piece about to be heard even after the number has started! Funny, the exact same thing happened to the Red Krayola when they appeared on TV July 4 1967, also at Berkeley!
Confused commentators aside, this Riley disque really will hep sate the longtime fan or even guys like me who have borne a passing fancy to the likes ofRiley ad other new composers for nigh on thirty-plus years awlready! And you don't have to be a snooty prog rock geek to enjoy this blare either!
***Daevid Allen and Euterpe-GOOD MORNING! CD (Esoteric Recordings)
And speaking of prog rock geeks, here's one I remember getting a lotta MELODY MAKER hype when it came out way back in 1976. Y'see, Daevid Allen, he of Soft Machine (pre-first album only) and Gong fame had just left the latter group and somehow ended up living on the tiny isle of Majorca off the Spanish coast. There he discovered a progressive rock group called Euterpe which would spend their off hours doing things like performing "Thick as a Brick" for whomever would traipse past their humble home. I guess there's not much else to do in Majorca, but anyway Allen went and hitched up with this unassuming drummer-less group and recorded the GOOD MORNING! album, a disc that I guess made whatever waves could be made in progressive rock circles at the time. And yeah, GOOD MORNING!'s a surprisingly entertaining psychedelic album that's once again available on CD after a good fifteen or so years so to all of those people who paid upwards of 75 bucks dollars for your early-nineties edition...tough turds, sweetie!
But whether you paid little or maximo for GOOD MORNING! it's still a good enough diversion. Allen never sounded as Syddish as he does here, and Euterpe are more than a fitting band to back him up with their acoustic/electronic makeup (mandolins and string bass meet Arp synths!) adding a whole load to the overall whimsy that Allen had been incorporating into his moozik for a good seven or so years already. The lack of drums don't deter just like it didn't with the Electric Eels, although on a couple numbers Pierre Moerlin and Mike Howlett do help out with drums and other things in case you're missing the more complex side of the Daevid Allen sound!
Even if you hate progressive rock this has more to do with the psychedelic leftovers anyway, so don't think I've gone off the same edge that Yes were so close to in praising this. Like the rest of the Gong and related Allen output, GOOD MORNING! still has enough of the pothead pixie edge to keep this from becoming another 1001 keyboards extravaganza showoffy thing for people too ashamed to say they like Bacn and Beethoven. And even the droneathon synth strings "bonus track" entitled "Euterpe Gratitude Piece" will excite...when the live Gong overdubs and munchkin chatter get overlaid onto the thing turning it into a psychonutzo extravaganza, that is!
***Stackwaddy-BUGGER OFF! CD (Cherry Red)
Not only do I have the 1986 very-limited vinyl reissue (see issue #4 for a review, if you're unlucky enough to have that particularly cruddy-'zine in your possession!), but I also have two CD versions of BUGGER OFF! wasting away in my abode, one on a twofer of both Stackwaddy albums with "Girl From Ipanema" omitted, the other the entire disc plus a bonus track just so's people who have the first one would buy the second edition as welll! So why did I, who already has three takes of this British blues obscurity, buy this most-recent CD reissue? A John Peel session's the reason, that's why!
No need to tell you just how great Stackwaddy were especially if you've heard their two albums and read the story of their too-late-for-the-Eel-Pie-boom and too-early-for-the-mid-seventies-punk-blues-trip saga. Stackwaddy were tops in their (at the time extremely limited) field, and these tracks lay testament to their greatness as a heavy-duty blues rock group that fortunately had the grime and stamina most white musicians seemed to check in the cloak room. The previously lost Peel Session is a great bonus, one of those '71/2 vintage live in front of a studio audience affairs opening for Dion (!!!!) showing that Stackwaddy could do twice as well live as what they could do on vinyl. Bill Shute doesn't like 'em but I find Stackwaddy as fantastic now as I did twennysome years back when I first got hold of their platters!
Oh, and the insert sleeve is, in typical British reissue fashion, very informative to the point where you don't have to rely on any of those new four-color rock history mags anymore to get yer Stackwaddy information 'cuz it's all here! The foldout that gets neatly slid into the front plastic part of the case's got the usual expected esoterica including not only the standard who/what/wherefores of where the group "stood" at this juncture in their career but believe-it-or-don't a Charles Shaar Murray review that always sets my rock scribe fandom light a'blinkin'! And with rock writing thrills getting harder to find as all the greats are either underrepresented or totally ignored its the little things like this that top off my day. And the first person to write in saying "Get a Life" will get an all-star right inna groin. savvy?
***Les Rallizes Denudes-LE FESTIVAL DE FLEUR COMPLETE 8 AVRIL 1975 GOTENBA CD (Ignuitas)
Given the here today/gone forever status of these Les Rallizes recordings it's not like I can afford to grab up every last one of 'em. However, I will snatch up some of these obscurities when they do pass by, especially if they date from the group's best years which for me were the late-sixties. However, since recordings from those days seem to be rarer than humility in this very blog I usually end up settling for the group's second best era, mainly the early-to-mid-seventies which were pretty good years for high energy underground jamz all over the boards if one would look hard enough, right???
Here's one of the more recent Denudes CDs to come out on the Ignitus label, which like Univive seems to be releasing whatever they can from the vast array of surviving Denudes tapes in small quantities. This one seems to have been recorded live at what translates as a flower festival in April of '75, certainly a choice time in the Denudes chronology and this recording does prove so despite the usually iffy sound. The usual familiar numbers pop up, though thankfully there are some great feedback moments and a few re-arranged variations that will please even the most stringent fans of these Japanese National Treasures. The general rawness does tend to help too...don't let the sissified cover of an outta focus flower (which looks like something that shoulda been stuck onto the TWENTY-FIVE MOST UNFORGETTABLE CLASSICAL MUSIC MOMENTS FOR PEOPLE WHO WANNA SNEAK A LITTLE CULTURE INTO THEIR OTHERWISE DRAB HOUSEHOLDS ten-LP set that Sebastian Cabot used to hawk on tee-vee) fool you. This is high energy rock & roll personified and in a past world we used to call it heavy metal but I don't wanna throw too many people off the track thirtysome years later!
***The Deviants-DR. CROW CD (Captain Trip, Japan)
Dunno why I have been shunning these latterday Deviants disques as of late...true they're not the same Deviants that recorded those three oh-so-fine albums in the late-sixties, but then again the Deviants that sprung forth from the London underground back in '66 was a much different group than the one that recorded PTOOFF!, and for that matter the group that recorded DISPOSABLE and DEVIANTS III weren't quite the same as the '67 variety either! So why should I get all discombobulated because Mick Farren is the only constant in the group's on/off forty year history anyway? As Linus used to say in the mid-fifties (and best period of) PEANUTS. "Five-hundred years from now who will know the difference?"
And yeah, I gotta admit that these new Deviants are pretty snat themselves. Not only is Mick Farren still a prime frontman (though his voice is way too ragged at times, probably from years of marijuana abuse but then again he sounds just like what you'd expact a 60+-year-old rocker to sound like!) and Andy Colquhoun a fine guitarist in the Sid Bishop/Paul Rudolph/Larry Wallis vein. And the choice of material is fantastic enough from the warped re-do of "Strawberry Fields Forever" to the British folk singalong "The Murdering Officer" which comes off like the early folk rants I'm sure the Deviants were doing before they got louder equipment. An all-together album that true, ain't anything like PTOOFF!, but it's still solid enough. As the sage once said, its to have a ball to.