A JAZZ-SATURATED HIGH SIX FOR ONCE
Since I really didn't get hold of anything sparkling new this week (other'n a Cee-Dee of David Bowie's THE RISE AND FALL OF ZIGGY STARDUST AND THE SPIDERS FROM MARS which was so trite that I thought I'd pass on giving it a writeup, but since I'm such a benevolent fellow I figure I'll hold off on any impartial opinion making at least until a second spin later this week) I thought I'd just give you a brief rundown on some of the faves that have been hitting the BLOG TO COMM laser launching pad o'er the past few days. Anyway, I'm sure you'll notice unless you're Karen Quinlan that all of the discs up for review today are all pretty much jazz, or better put jazz-oriented albums. This was not my original intention, but since avant garde/freedom jazz seems to have pretty much overtaken my life at this point (at least until some hot platter of garage origin makes its way to my abode) it's not like I'm gonna cry about not making this high six a little more multi-kultural. Frankly, with the abundance of avant jazz discs in my already-bulging collection I'm not surprised that I don't write about the stuff more often than I do, and with the inter-fertilizing of jazz and punkisms that have been going on at least since "Eight Miles High" and "Sister Ray" only a snob would think that both musical poles are diametrically opposed. If you wanna get "one world" with my music collection all I gotta say is that avant jazz and punk rock...it's all the same and thank the Lord (or at least Bill Laswell) for that!
Byard Lancaster-IT'S NOT UP TO US CD (Water, PO Box 2947, San Francisco, CA 94126)
Sheesh, I remember reading about Byard Lancaster and conjuring up images of his post-Coltrane total bop-spazz in my fetid mind way back in the seventies when I was trying to be a cool cat reading DOWN BEAT in the high school library! Who woulda thunk that all these years later the man would still have some sorta "relevance" in my jazz-obsessed mind...certainly not """""I""""", who always believed in my heart of hearts that by the time I hit fortysomething my life would be of such utter uselessness that I might as well shrivel up and die! Hmmmmm, maybe being a young upstart squirt does have its brilliant moments of perception after all.
Even the softer bossa-bop on IT'S NOT UP TO US has its use, especially during my patented pre-beddy bye downtime when I usually shield myself from the tensions of the day with hefty doses of Roscoe Mitchell bellowing bass saxophone clarion calls. Lancaster, true to his enveloping form, plays in a variety of styles as his above-ample backing band keeps up, with Lancaster at times reminiscent of a more terra firma Ayler yet still solid on the post-Coltrane express that seemed to hover over the free jazz world a good decade after that guy's departure (or at least I would get that impression from what I've discerned...it ain't like I'm stuck inna middle of the jazz sphere like Gary Giddins and the rest of those pasty-face knowitalls out there in real jazz land!). Of course what makes IT'S NOT UP TO US a total winner is the presence of Sonny Sharrock and his guitar playing...nice and restrained, yet tension-packed to the point where, with a bit of a coup, this coulda been HIS session! In fact, the all-out winner on this slab is the Cee-Dee closer "Satan" which, besides featuring Sharrock in up-front treble, doesn't have a spec of Lancaster to be found anywhere other'n on the writing credits!
The Tony Williams Lifetime-EMERGENCY! and (turn it over) CDs (Verve)
Y'know, for being a high-profile fusion-jazz band and all, there really is very little solid info on Tony Williams' Lifetime for me to snatch up via the usual channels. And that's an honest-to-Meltzer SHAME, because if anything this band was one of the few who seemed to merger the "new thing" in jazz with the "new thing" in rock & roll, and I ain't talking about all of those insignificant indiscretions that were coming out of the Haight or Frank Zappa fooling us impressionable pre-teens into thinking he was a living-and-breathing composer either. Naw, Lifetime was the ultimo hard-punk meets avant garde jazz experience and a great flash of brilliance considering how a good portion of the bandmembers were utter twats who would end up playing boring cocktail tinklings and mystico-mumbo jumbo that might have inspired a few worthy acts out there, but not ME!!!!!
The debut 2-LP set EMERGENCY! was a true top-drawer in jazz offering, and don't let noted aged beatster Ralph Gleason's liner notes fool you one bit! A fine trio setting with Williams not only drumming but speak-singing (in my original review of this back inna eighties I mention how I thought he sounded like some kid on the old FAT ALBERT show!) but organist Larry Young (who had appeared on some hot early-sixties Blue Note avant sides as had a mid-teen Williams!) and a pre guru'd out and still high on heroin John McLaughlin proving that maybe we should regulate the people out there who want to regulate our own personal choices, especially if such choices produce high-energy guitar playing the likes of which pop up here! And together don't expect these three to paddle off some patented jazz pablum custom-designed for the whole Leonard Feather high-society trip, but do expect some sonically-pure high energy jazz that is roughly equiv. to the late-sixties revolution in punk sound and scene that for some odd reason never did cozy up to Lifetime the way they did the Detroit bands who were taking the new jazz sound and sorta reshaping it for suburban pud living.
Gotta admit that for a two-LP effort (and a debut one at that!) EMERGENCY! is a great hard-ball mass of tension that wafts between all the electric Miles Davis brouhaha that was so big at the time, the aforementioned new rock direction, and the heavy duty avant garde scree that at times reminds me of what could have befallen the Velvet Underground had they veered off on a slightly different pattern. Which is one thing I'd like to know more about given the lack of hard-facts associated with Lifetime...I mean, it's a given that Williams was influenced by the MC5 on these sides (liner notes to [turn it over] even say so!), but songs like "Beyond Games" (with Williams spouting off hip late-sixties s-xual politics while McLaughlin seems to be getting his cues from WHITE LIGHT/WHITE HEAT) sound like they came straight from one of those legendary and unheard late-sixties bands who actually had the smarts to swipe a lotta ideas from the Velvets, and while John Cale was still inna band as well!
And while we're on the subject of the Velvets, ain't it peculiar that both the Velvets and Lifetime were on the Verve label, that the covers of both WHITE LIGHT/WHITE HEAT and (turn it over) were strikingly similar with sparse white letters on black background and that Lifetime's "Right On" sounds even more a "Sister Ray" steal than anything Can was laying down at the time? It's something we better break out the crystal ball and ask Williams about, because the comparisons are eerie (a fun eerie, but eerie nonetheless) to say the least. The music ain't quite as combust-pak as on EMERGENCY! but it's still hard enough, not only with "Right On"'s hard 'n heavy beat (courtesy Williams, who sounds like he's been actually picking up a few pointers from Maureen Tucker) but on everything from the Coltrane cover ("Big Nick") to the freak-spew distortion of "Once I Loved." And even with the presence of new member Jack Bruce fresh from Cream on bass and vocals (doing the vocal honors on bonus track "One Word," a dated slice of we-are-all-ONE garbage made tasty by a roaring instrumental backing) this doesn't sound one bit "professional" in a negative, commercial sense. You can hear how plenty of acts from Return to Forever to MX-80 Sound and Manster got a lot outta both these two platters, and even today they sure come off well-aimed at your third eye even more than such things as Material did!
(An additional note: if you like these discs and can stand more in the same direction try getting hold of the Love/Cry/Want CD, Young's post-Lifetime band which comes off like an electronic retake of what's gone down on the above taken into even more incomprehensible heights of avant garde mystique. Recorded live across the street from the White House during the height of early-seventies somethingorother, Love/Cry/Want were so "out-there" in avant space that Richard Nixon even ordered Haldeman and Erlichman to pull the plug on the wild goings on! I dunno, but you'd think that Nixon would've been copasetic with a band that I'm positive sounded exactly like what I'm sure his nervous system did while he was going through all of that tension-packed Watergate brouhaha!)
Doug Snyder and Bob Thompson-DAILY DANCE CD (Warm o' Brisk)
And speaking of a free jazz/new rock fusion, I don't think very many practitioners of the form came even close to this kitchen-recorded effort from the wilds of 1972 Ohio (Silver Springs area). That's where guitarist Doug Snyder and percussionist Bob Thompson laid down this powerful blast of avant rock cum jazz and slapped it onto disc after gaining the approval of none other than New Music Distribution Service head Carla Bley. Snyder rips through his guitar sounding like a thousand thundering herd of robotic cattle (or perhaps Amon Duul I on DISASTER) while Thompson comes off like every great drummer to hit the boards from Sunny Murray through Scott Asheton and all points south playing...AT THE SAME TIME!!!!! Lotsa great thrills too, like on "Living With The Crocodiles" when they ran a thumb piano through an effects box of some sorts and Thompson played it with drumsticks!!! An true-to-itself punk rock classic, and I sure hope that unreleased followup THE DAMASCUS TAPES (with Snyder doubling on electric violin) makes its way to our decks more sooner than later even though we've been waiting for the dang thing for over five years now. And for the complete story, how about buying a copy of BLACK TO COMM #24 which features not only a great Doug Snyder interview I conducted a few years back but rare pictures, flyers and everything associated with what you'd want to know about this man and his music! Gosh...and I did it all because I feel it's my DUTY to show to you ignorant blogscrawlers the righteous ways of high-energy rockism in this alternatived-out world, even if I have to drag each and every one of you langholes out there to such lofty heights by your nipple rings.
This one used to be pretty easy to latch onto (and for spare change at that) but it seems as if all copies of this much-needed reissue have dried up! Oh well, maybe that'll teach you a lesson, though of exactly what I do not know.
Air-AIR TIME CD (Nessa)
Sheesh, old-timey blogster me can remember way back in 1977/8 when this avant garde jazz trio was getting not only loads of jazz press in THE VILLAGE VOICE (a paper I used to read as often as possible because I thought it was real hipster and daring, commie rat that I was!) but was making a whole bunch of appearances on various albums both domestic and import. It does seem kinda strange in some ways that this trio consisting of Henry Threadgill, Fred Hopkins and Steve McCall was getting as much coverage as they had especially considering the late-seventies were the era of jazz proving it could be just as boring as mainstream pop or classical gush (after all, these were the days of jazz regulars going the disco route and Al DeMeola on the ass-scent), but I guess that the VOICE still wanted to prove that it was on the side of the "little people" by publicizing music none of the little people ever heard of, and besides a lotta the prevailing winds of sixties full-force jazz were still blowing hard in the loft scenes of New York before it all went down. Remember, nothing in music really dies, which is why we still have to struggle with progressive pooperoos, heavy metal morons, punk rock pragmatics and disco drivel even thirty years after the fact!
Showing off their great post-AACM free sound and style that "made" many of these seventies jazz offerings a lot more than phony post-beatnik bowtie tinkle sounds, Air have a fine splat going on that thankfully stands strong against the bloated pomp that the entire mainstream jazz idiom seemed to be falling into at the time. Threadgill plays fine post-Ayler (please, somebody slap my wrists every time I type that from now on!) on not only alto and tenor sax but a variety of flutes and hubkaphone, an invention of Threadgill's design that sounds like a steel drum after getting bit by a Subaru 360, or vicey-versey for that matter. Hopkins' perfect whether he's laying down a great tape-loop bass (as he does on "G.v.E" while Threadgill goes through a particularly-inspiring hubkaphone solo) while McCall's drumming is surprisingly rather restrained especially for an AACM alumnus who performed on some rather out-there Anthony Braxton sides, but that's not meant in a negative way or anything.
In fact, this whole disc is rather subdued compared with the all-out blasts that were getting laid down at the time, but that doesn't mean that AIR TIME should be filed next to your copy of Thoth Trio (sorry Brad!). Far from it...like the best music, the intensity is turned inwards so even if Threadgill isn't blowing his brains out like he most certainly can (like on "USO Dance" off the WILDFLOWERS set), you still get the aura of muscles tightening in your sphincter just like you do when you hear unbearingly intense works from just about any musical genre turning your precious inhibitions to nerve-addled fear.
I kinda wonder what happened to Air after their late-seventies day in the sun, but then again there was some point in the early-eighties when it seemed as if the free jazz scene sorta nosedived. Or at least I got that impression from the lack of press, or new players, or even classic ones on the boards making any noise of interest. But at least they gave us enough material to live on for quite awhile, or at least until the next great avant find pops its way into my collection more sooner than later, I hope!
Albert Ayler-BELLS/PROPHECY CD (ZYX/ESP Germany)
It's funny how I still haven't been able to mow my way through the Albert Ayler box set yet I'm more or less anxious to grab up all of my other Ayler Cee-Dees for a relaxing spin. Maybe it's because that box set is so fragile looking that I hate to disturb its inner contents for fear of breaking the precious items therein, but even with my abounding inner tension over having this precious artyfact I can't even ENJOY at least I have these more-common Ayler recordings at hand when the free jazz spazz arises. Nice coupling here of the infamous one-sided BELLS with Ayler and band doing a live spurt that was so ahead of the pack (Coleman even!) that it seemed as if nobody wanted to be in ol' Albert's corner at the time this creepfest hit the record shops! PROPHESY is from '64 when Ayler and band (at this time Gary Peacock and Sunny Murray) had, as John Paul Jones once said, just begun to fight. Great playing as usual you know the score blah blah and so on, but I gotta say that it's really too bad (for us, for art, for him) that Albert Ayler decided to take that midnight swim in the river like he did, because he's one guy I sure woulda like to have seen gone punk in the late seventies like he woulda after the Contortions hit it big (and New York coulda USED him, that's for sure!).
The Arthur Doyle Quartet-LIVE @ THE COOLER CD (The Lotus Sound, PO Box 8805, Albuquerque, NM, 87198 US of Whoa)
While Ayler didn't live long enough to go punk rock (perhaps if someone had opened his ears to the Stooges back '69 way!), Arthur Doyle did! As a member of the Blue Humans Doyle scronked pure atonal buzz while Rudolph Grey coaxed feral sounds outta his guitar and Beaver Harris made some of the best percussion as backdrop for Urban Renewal in the great Sunny Murray/Milford Graves trad. Doyle's saga is one of strange highs and abysmal lows (a stretch in the French slammer to prove it), and although the man is thankfully still recording with a vast array of young upstarting white kids who I guess do know better all I gotta say is...where are all of those tapes of him with Grey, like that live duet they did at CB's 313 Gallery back in '89? You woulda thought somebody was smart enough to at least record that!!!
But still we got stuff like this, a live set that, although pretty much a Blue Humans gig with the addition of bassist Wilbur Morris, is clearly Doyle's show. Maybe it ain't quite Blue Humans...no all-out sound sear here, this is more or less slow-burn free jazz with Doyle doing fine whether on alto/tenor voice-o-net or a particularly ear-twisting flute (as on "Flue [no sic] Song") while Grey sorta buzzes in the background when not taking a solo and Morris indulges himself in a lotta arco bass. Like many of Doyle's recent projects (though this was recorded in '95---close enough I guess!) there seems to be a strange electronic undercurrent to things, but its one that truly fits in with Doyle's own method of operation taking jazz into yet another high stratum that you know most aficionados of the form never really could understand (which is wny these jazzbos have to rely on the opened ears policy of more than a few rabid, frothing rock & rollers out there! Unfortunately there seem to be few in attendance at this live show since the audience response is pitiful!).
Additional note...the liner notes to LIVE @ THE COOLER are by none other than the late Sumner Crane of Mars fame and prove that the guy shoulda been a serious writer as well as musician (too bad he hadda bail out on both prospective careers to do who-knows-what!). Crane is a guy who would be well suited to doing liner notes for this 'un, after all he and Grey interviewed Doyle for an issue of some West Coast punk rag...not DAMAGE or SLASH, but one of those tabloids with a lotta gross imagery I'll bet (VOLUME???) and it was a doozer esp. w/Doyle telling his eager subjects that his music was actually new wave African rhythm or something along those lines! I gotta dig that thing up and read it again...I remember how inspirational it was during the day, and perhaps it'll force me to search out the Doyle discography and relive past jazz concerns which, at least judging from all the drool I've emitted today, still lives on as much as it did way back when I was first discovering this brazen form of "self expression!"
Sunday, January 28, 2007
A JAZZ-SATURATED HIGH SIX FOR ONCE
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
JOSHUA JUGBAND 5 CD (Gulcher)
Betcha thought I was gonna tinkle-tinkle-little-sprinkle over this one, eh? Thought I'd get this Joshua Jugband Fiver and toss it slam-dunk into the nearest hogwallow outta mere spite, right? And of course you know the reason why, you insufficient little blogcrawler you! If not, just read on a little further, Gertrude.
Y'see, this Cee-Dee, or at least a good half of it, was originally released on CD-R by the fine folk (namely Eddie Flowers) at Slippytown records and gifts. And it was a good 'un too, a disque that sounded like some mad jam recorded in the basement by the next big thang garage ballbusters to make their way to your sonically-deficient cranium just BEGGING for the latest hype from hipstersville! I mean, what we need here in the oh-ohs is a band (even if it is one numbnut playin' all the instruments himself sorta like a Todd Rundgren for the inbred crowd) rehashing the best moments of PHALLUS DEI mixed with Stooges-level proficiency and if anything the Joshua Jugband 5 are the band that not only can, but has pulled such a Herculean task off at a time when one woulda thought rockism (in the purest, fanzine-bred sense) to have gone out with the Edsel as they used to say on long-forgotten sixties sitcoms I still get blasted for loving the dickens outta! And I liked that CD-R enough that I gave it a boffo review in the pages of BLACK TO COMM #25 and believe it or not but I've actually cherished having my own personal copy of this self-produced rarity even if I haven't played the blamed thing since that original writeup almost four years back.
Well, I'd be lying if I told you that there wasn't ONE BIG THING standing in the way of this Cee-Dee and a good review, and it's the performer's very own brother! Y'see, the "brain" behind the JJ5, namely a Swede going by the name Jakob Olausson, is none other than a very close blood relative of one Heinrich Olausson, a squirt of a fair-weathered "friend" of not only myself but the entire BLOG/BLACK TO COMM reason-for-being who, when confronted with a load of half-truth-filled personal-smear campaign lies directed at myself courtesy none other than Jay Hinman on his old AGONIZING SYNDROMES blog, decided that his bread was better buttered on the side of our bald-faced lying amerindie elitist, a turncoat groin-slug that I must admit still stings HARD even this far down the line! Yeah, I always seem to get stuck with these kinda people who pledge allegiance to the BTC way-o'-life one moment then vamoose for what they think are much greener pastures while blabbing total vile bile at myself and my endeavors, and I guess the world is full of cagey cretins whom I've TRUSTED such as Heinrich but that doesn't mean I have to LIKE any of these people who used me as a stepping stone/doormat on their way to wherever it is they can go in alternativeland. (Just take a look at Alan Licht!) And as you can guess, I like Heinrich Olausson just about as much as I like Jay Hinman, Dave Lang, Ken Shimamoto, Ron Rimsite and all of those other abusers whom I've had the misfortune to think of as bona-fide pals and fellow-travelers on the paths to pure BTC-approved righteousness. I used to get that way sometimes.
So what does that have to do with Jakob anyway? Well, remember that the two are brothers. I mean, shit doesn't fall that far from the asshole, right? Yeah, I can see both Heinrich and Jakob up there in their Swedish sauna crackin' open the brews and yappin' about how Heinie pulled a good one over that dumb dago in Sharon before heading out to the local farm for a good round of bestial delights as is wont the more perverted in the already sexed out portions of Scandinavia! And yeah, I also harbored the feeling that Jakob pretty much held the same ill-will towards me as his more "outspoken" brother...well, maybe not. I mean, I'm not sure about it, but perhaps Jakob and Heinrich actually HATE each other, and perhaps Heinrich's snooty oneupmanship putdown of yours truly is but one of the reasons why! Yeah, maybe that's it...these two siblings are forever locked in mortal combat ready to tear each others' oesophaguses out, with Heinrich the rabid anti-BTC hatemonger set to throttle for the sake of godless Hinmanism and Jakob all ready to kill and die for the honor of THEE GREATEST LIVING ROCK WRITER ON THE BOARDS (next to R. Meltzer and maybe Byron Coley) TO GRACE THE LAST TWENTYSOME YEARS WITH HIS TOTALLY ON-TARGET HIGH-ENERGY MUSINGS!!!!! Yeah, that's it! Jakob, you're getting a good writeup from this rock scribe feronceinyerlife!
JOSHUA JUGBAND 5, like I said is a great one-man overdub of primitive rock meanderings but FUN meanderings nonetheless that borrow from the best of the continent from back in the days when the world wasn't quite as small as it seems today. Amidst the garage-recording soundscapes come moments that remind me of krautrock at its punkiest from various Amon Duul (I and II) communal living room jams to things I'm sure only a Swede would know about (plus I gotta admit that that 19-minute closing number sounds kinda Neu!-cum-Harmonia to the point where if someone told me this was some rare Neu! live tape from back in the day I "might" believe him!). Post-psychedelic maybe, but without the acid-burnout feeling. Pretty fresh in fact. Olausson's guitar playing is also in the psyche-mood, perhaps coming a little too close to Bobby Beausoliel's Tracy Freedom Orchestra musings in spots but still fine enough (more SF '66 circa Orkustra than '75 prison hijinx) ro make me wanna bash the nearest headband freak to cross my path.
An hour of true space rock here...a real surprise from a guy who I gotta admit has a brother I wouldn't mind murdering with my bare arms (though a bare gun would do), and a surprise hit outta nowhere. Joshua Jugband 5, all ONE of you, I salute thee.
The Mumps-FATAL CHARM 1975-1980 (eggBERT)
I'm sure everybody who's heard about the Mumps knows the entire sordid story behind them...all starting back in the early-seventies when PBS ran this documentary mini-series entitled AN AMERICAN FAMILY which was more or less about the Loud Family from the comfy confines of Southern California and their supposedly "Typical American Family" ways of life. Nowadays people refer to AN AMERICAN FAMILY as the first reality series (basically the Louds let the PBS people in to film various aspects of their everyday living which was edited into neat one-hour blocks) but in some ways it seemed like some sorta uppercrust refuting of the entire OZZIE AND HARRIET/LEAVE IT TO BEAVER family ideal, ot at least that image as seen through the eyes of PBS elitists anxious to place a death mirror up against any aspect of what might seem to be unfettered wholesomeness at least to their kultured eyes.
Naturally the Louds weren't your typical American family being pretty upper-UPPER midclass (I believe Dad Loud owned a construction firm) with the kids having the freedom to scoot over to Europe to slum around if they pleased and whatnot. Whatever, I remember catching an episode of AN AMERICAN FAMILY in the late-seventies (when the Youngstown/Sharon area finally had a PBS station running) just to see what all the hubbub was about and getting totally nonplussed by the lack of action on the screen to the point where I actually switched over to FANTASY ISLAND on ABC (and believe me, I'd have to be EXTREMELY BORED to do something as desperate as that!). Maybe people do get riveted to this stuff, but to me it was nothing but a higher-class brand of soap. Still, I gotta admit that I passed on the final episode where, right when Mom and Dad were in the midst of the big brouhaha that would ultimately result in their divorce teenaged son Lance comes in to tell the pair that he was a living-and-breathing HOMOSEXUAL which didn't make matters any better that day. Whatever, after the series ended the family split up and Lance, thanks to his nationwide confession, launched his career as an underground icon not only becoming a rock critic of tad renown but getting sandwiched in between Danny Fields and Andy Warhol at Sly Stone's wedding reception (pictured in NEWSWEEK!) and forming his own rock band called the Mumps, who also got pictured in NEWSWEEK when that weekly rag decided to do one of their "whatever happened to..." schpiels a few years later.
From what I can recall three decades after the fact, that passing remark (complete with pic) mentioned that Lance and his Mumps were recording an album with producer Earle Mankey (ex-Sparks as if you didn't know) for the Beach Boys' Brother records (!) and even at that tender age I saw a crazy appeal in the Mumps look that kinda hit me kinda like the Flamin' Groovies did when I first found out about 'em around the same time. When I finally heard the Mumps via a live @ CBGB tape some years later I merely shrugged 'em off as a passing fancy more or less in the same vein as a lotta other local punk bands who were "there" but not enough to sate my undying drone-throb thirst. And by the time new wave developed into "gnu wave" and what was once innovative and fresh now seemed hackneyed I gotta admit that I cared about as much about the Mumps as I did most of the bands who came up with them a good half-decade earlier. I mean, I still had heavy hankerings for what had transpired in that oft-maligned decade we call the seventies, but now it was for the more high-energy moments such as Rocket From the Tombs and MX-80 Sound amongst a bevy of other sonic explorers. Frankly, by this time the Mumps seemed about as relevant to my musical genetics as the Harmonicats.
Of course that was a good quarter-century back, and now that the "coast is clear" as they say it's safe to admit that maybe a good portion of that seventies new wave was rather fun stuff and downright exciting despite the entire kahuna sorta toppling over into eighties Madonnaisms (a sad end-point for a scene that held so much promise!). True I can still see the value and excitement in the early three-piece Talking Heads long before they became an art project, and even a spin or two of classic Blondie is par for the course here in the jaded late oh-ohs so why not give the Mumps another chance since I've been doing that for everyone from Blue Oyster Cult to Aerosmith these days! At least these snot-nosers, just for their mere existence, seemed pretty exciting back in the days when one could find fun rockism thrills for mere cents at the local flea market!
Musically the Mumps ain't great shakes, at times sounding like a softer variation of En Why See punkisms or the B-52s or Blondie (or just about any other up-and-coming local band that wasn't heavy metal or no wave or rockabilly/blues) for that matter, perhaps without the special "something" that made those groups the stars they eventually became. (I gotta admit that Loud does not have that great of a singing voice and wacky stage antics don't always translate to record.) Much of the time they come off like Bearsville/early-Island-period Sparks which would figure given all of that overboard dribble that Loud would spew on the Mael Brothers in the pages of CIRCUS, though believe-it-or-not but even the specter of QUEEN can be discerned which does tend to send me back to those days of yesteryear when that band seemed to pop up from nowhere thusly infusing a strong sense of homophobia in many a budding pureblood. (Some who might have even gagged on their popcorn whilst watching that final AMERICAN FAMILY episode!) Still I gotta admit that I like the entire kahuna not necessarily because the Mumps represent the schtickier side of the seventies but for its revelation of that decade's more nobler aspects...the same one that seemed to present for us a smart pop sense and garage band albums even though boring singer/songwriters and hard rock morons held sway in the day (c'mon, you know the rant!).
Nice popisms here (like on "Anybody But You") mixed with the more outright En Why to El Lay sound and vision make the Mumps a band that you might wanna reckon with, if you're homesick for the days when it seemed that garage-bred energies had a chance (a miniscule chance, but one that at least guaranteed cheap cutout prices for such big label writeoffs within a few months!). At least it sounds much better and to-the-point than a lotta the mire the Mumps inevitably led to, which come to think of it probably sounds a lot better'n the stuff that all those bigname seventies bands led to as well but I don't wanna argue the big progressive vs. punk debate right now, especially while I'm listening to the Sparks-bred decapop of "Not Again."
(And while I'm at it, I should mention that track #4 "Muscle Boys" ought to be noted for inspiring none other than Craig Bell to write "Muckraker" after he caught Loud and band performing it on...THE TONIGHT SHOW in '74!!!)
As for Lance Loud, I remember him telling the press very shortly after AN AMERICAN FAMILY helped change television (for the better or worse I do not know) that he wasn't gay at all and that he was "going through a phase." We knew better, and so did he when he started popping up on PBS's TALES OF THE CITY and writing for THE ADVOCATE (as well as DETAILS and other magazines I've never read and probably never will) before proving to us just how gay he was by dying of AIDS. I think I should also mention Loud's friend and Mumps keyboardist Kristian Hoffman who not only was featured on AN AMERICAN FAMILY but eventually ended up hanging about the New York no wave scene (Lydia Lunch being a Mumps follower) singing on James White albums and acting in that long-held-up docudrama DOWNTOWN '81 before recording a slew of CDs that also appear, as does FATAL CHARM, on the eggBERT label. I do have reservations about buying Cee-Dees from a company named after that stoopid cartoon fetus of yore (which used to embarrass my mother to all heck when I'd be trolling for BELIEVE IT OR NOT paperbacks at the store) but I'll forget the childhood confusion for now. And if you're just as hung up, you might wanna forgo any past discomforts and snatch this disque up if only to help fill in your seventies rock psyche cracks at least a li'l bit.
(A DISCLAIMER: if you think this particular post has a sort of disturbing taint to it, you're absolutely right! An explanation is in order, mainly that I wrote the above under the influence...not of alcohol or some illegal substance but a ten-inch "white" pizza with fried greens, hot juicy red peppers and gorgonzola cheese which judging from my current mental state is just as psychotropic and mind-altering as the heavy-handed stuff! Believe me, a pizza like this just bursting with heavy duty strength is not mere kid stuff, and hopefully by my next post I'll come down off this trip and write something more in "tune" with the natural spirit of this blog for ya. But I doubt it.)
Posted by Christopher Stigliano at 7:04 PM
Sunday, January 21, 2007
IN MEMORIAM DAVE MARSH (1947-1947), A BLOG TO COMM ROCK LIST!
Don't feel like writing anything spiffy today so to soothe the savage boobies in us all here's a list of stuff I've been listening to over the past week or two:
Frank Lowe-FRESH CD (Black Lion)
Time-BEFORE THERE WAS...TIME CD (Normal, Germany...scroll down to the picture of the pretty lady for a review!)
Les Rallizes Denudes-STUDIO AND SOUNDBOARD 10-CD SET (box one)
Fripp & Eno-NO PUSSYFOOTING CD (Editions EG)
Alan Sondheim-RITUAL-ALL-7-70 and T'OTHER LITTLE TUNE CDs (ZYX/ESP, Germany), in order to compliment the recently released CD entitled THE SONGS reviewed here.
Harmonia-MUSIK VON HARMONIA and DELUXE CDs (Brain, Germany)
The Byrds-PREFLYTE CD (Poptones, England)
LOWELL DAVIDSON TRIO (ZYX/ESP, Germany)
Jackalope-SALTIER THAN EVER CD (Challenge)
Michael Gregory Jackson-CLARITY CD (ZYX/ESP, Germany)
And while I'm at it...JUST WHAT YOU'VE WANTED, some reviews of a couple old fanzines I just came across, and not "on"!
SQUA-TRONT #1, September 1967
AAARRRGGGHHHH, another EC cover swipe! haven't we had more'n enough of those throughout the seventies and eighties awlready??? Well, considering the debut issue of this well-loved EC fanzine came out wayback in '67 before everybody and his closet lover began jumping on the EC bandwagon I guess I should congratulate rather'n condemn the editorial staff of this above-par read for being one of the first to use an EC comic cover graphic on their very own fan publication! Really nice effort from these up-from-nowheres as well from the color cover and offset printjob, and though the stories included therein (such as an iffy sci-fi/horror comic "in the tradition" plus news on those EC artists of yore) ain't anything new or exciting to people in on the EC game since their own pube-sprouting days I gotta hand it to these nascent fanzooners for pulling off an EC tribute that didn't come off like crudsville or get tangled up in endless reams of narcissic nabobisms to boot. A pure winner that undoubtedly tops your neophyte efforts, you so above-it-all blogging neanderthal you!
THE ROCK MARKETPLACE #6, July 1974
Alan Betrock's great post-JAMZ/pre-NEW YORK ROCKER fanzine which, besides bridging the former's history-obsessive British rock outlook with the latter's wonderment with local things-to-come, also had all of those interesting set-sale and auction lists that GOLDMINE would sucker precious dollars outta you for in those pre-ebay days. And true, we've read about Jan and Dean, Ronnie Specter and John's Children before and in much greater depth, but it's always nice to read about 'em again just as a refresher course especially if you have a mind like a sieve like me. However, it's those now 33-year-old lists that open my eyes. It's great reading things like noted Cleveland underground maverick Brian Sands' auction where not only could you score rare Bizarre-era Zappa single sides for mere pennies at that but you could see what your fave rave is on the lookout for, mainly Tiny Tim's latest single, Monti Rock II discs, DALI IN VENICE, McCartney's RAM promo album and of course any records related to none other than Kim Fowley! And if that don't get you, maybe Nick Tosches' printed matter auction will, which was offering old NEW HAVEN ROCK PRESS back issues and a myriad asst. of CREEMs for pretty low minimum bids, not to mention the first (and probably only) issue of Tosches' own ZOOT for at least one buck. So I guess that issue does exist after all, though where are all of the copies today???? What's even more surprising is Crescenzo Capece's auction, which amidst the usual record rarities of the day was also offering for us gonz-starved fanzine fanablas the THIRD issue of his CRETINOUS CONTENTIONS fanzine for a mere 40 centavos, and frankly that's one more issue than I knew existed (as is evidenced by my article in BLACK TO COMM #25 a few years back). What I wanna know is, why didn't any of you wizenheimers tip me off about it???
(And while we're talking about fanzines, did that Chicago-based rag called PREHENSILE TONGUE that Claire Panke wrote about in the letters section ever see the light of day? It sounds pretty cool, considering how it was gonna feature stories on all those acts the "legit" Chicago media ignores like the Dolls, Stooges, Pink Fairies, Pagliaro [threw that one in for you, Jim!], Blue Oyster Cult, Roxy Music, Sparks, Queen and Genesis...how'd those last two get in there??? Oh well, it still sounds like a boss rock read to me! If any of you readers have any information [or copies], you know whadda do, and make that FIRST CLASS while yeraddit!)
Posted by Christopher Stigliano at 1:40 PM
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
MAD RIVER CD (Edsel UK)
As you'd probably know from reading my various articles, reviews and whatnot these past twenny-five years, there are a lotta things out there in this world that get my goat and get it GOOD! Yes,believe-it-or-not but a whole turdload of people from asinine rock critics and back-stabbing bloggers to glad-handing liberals, turncoat conservatives and libertine libertarians have made my life a verifiable hell, but one of the biggest things that has really caused me to rent garments and gnash teeth over the past quarter-century or so of existence has been the consistent hippification of what was once known as a punk rock lifestyle/credo/what-have-you. Yeah, I shoulda saw in comin' when none other'n Lester Bangs himself (not quite the quintessential punk mind you), in the midst of some early-eighties blabbing regarding the alleged "Bomb Iran" bleatings of a few punks he had encountered, was somehow heartened by this punkette who decided to show her affiliations with a "War Sucks" badge. (Perhaps a sign of early Crassisms taking hold on this side of the ocean, and I do know that Bangs was somehow familiar with those communal types since they got name-dropped in his "If Oi Were a Carpenter" muddle of confusion!) Only a short time after Bangs' late-in-life proclamations came (SURPRISE!) none other than MAXIMUM ROCK 'N' ROLL and their various imitators (BRAVEAR comes to mind) who pushed what could only be called a hippie-punk platform featuring reams of anti-establishment rants, raves and Ronald Reagan biting the heads off babies collages mixed with conspiracy theory as fact dogma that seemed straight out of some early John Sinclair-inspired underground fishwrap! Y'know what I'm talkin' about, the same ol' Hate Ameriga FIRST!!! ire so in vogue with the early-seventies radical brigades that was so transparantly phony from the beginning that even the underground cartoonists of the day couldn't help but poke fun at the "movement" (as in bowel???). And, sad to say, from there this cancer of (selective) peace and love spread to just about every facet of punkdom extant to the point where today when you see some anti-capitalist/WTO demonstration or general flapdoodle directed against the so-called "Good Old Boy" structures on the tube or comp-box you're bound to eyeball more'n a few aging punkoids smashing and bashing along with their hippie brethren. And lemme tell you, at times you do need a scorecard to tell the two groups apart.
If anything, this sad state of affairs only goes to show you that the more things are diametrically opposed, the more alike they eventually become! When it comes to punk rock, it sure is a sick sight to cram down the throat the fact that it really didn't take punks that long to become hippies! And for someone who saw punks (and punkism) as a great strike against the encroaching walls of hippiedom into just about every facet of Amerigan living (for me, the concept of punkism was pretty much on the same sainted level as OZZIE AND HARRIET and flea markets filled with Silver Age Marvel comics) I gotta say that in retrospect it sure is sickening to think that I actually LIVED to see punk go from punk to punque and become just as predictable and as domineering as the entire hippie "culture" it sure seemed a healthy antidote to. I know this won't mean a hill of beans to a lotta you kiddies who have been more or less born and bred long after the whole hippie mire got its mitts on kultur but for a guy like me who hadda grow up with rap sessions, BLESS THE BEASTS AND CHILDREN, "Things Get a Little Easier (Once You Understand)" and Joan Baez singing "Amazing Grace" while cowboys got shot up onscreen you can bet I held high hopes for punk rock reversing the general civilization from this sorry state of affairs back to a healthier, more Spiro Agnew-inspired snarl and growl approach to life.
What does all this have to do with Mad River? Plenty, for these San Fran denizens stuck inna middle of terminal hipdom at least had a fine ROCK & ROLL sense of being which a lotta the punques had totally jettisoned in favor of a more comfortable, secure existence. And for being "hippies" or perhaps even hippie/punks in the best David Peel fashion this certainly was a pleasant surprise, not to mention an asset. On this debut platter originally released on Capitol way back in the Glory Days of '67 (forget about their followup PARADISE BAR AND GRILL despite Robert Nedelkoff's rave in his Mayo Thompson piece for CLE #3-A), Mad River are anything but settling into either punk utopianism or hippie visions of the Old West (leave that for PARADISE)...naw, MAD RIVER is a great slice of what promise that San Fran held for a good portion of people with their heads unmired by the promise of good karma and vibes galore, the SF that Gene Sculatti said it was in his infamous '66 CRAWDADDY scene report without any of that rose-colored Jan Wenner jive that helped boost the burgh from hype to hack long after that scene had any meaning outside a few wavering burnouts.
Televison once popped up in a discussion of the Mad River oeuvre and though I can hear the Verlaine/Lloyd interplay easily enough I should tell you that I espy a lotta the San Fran that the krautrock bands from Amon Duul (both I and II) to Ash Ra Tempel obviously lifted ideas from. As far as other SF groups, perhaps some Big Brother, and maybe Quicksilver or Redwing show up in the Mad River DNA albeit I'm not positively sure since I haven't heard either of them, at least in the past twentysome years! (I have a live Quicksilver Messenger Service disc all lined up to play one of these days and am "planning" on seeking out Redwing solely on the advice of not only Sculatti but DENIM DELINQUENT's very own Jymn Parrett!) Whatever the sound, it is a killer sans any of the pretensions that have plagued SF rock...straight-ahead killer music that, had Mad River only gotten together with Moby Grape and the Flamin' Groovies, coulda wiped all that "hey man" swill off the map and established the place as a high energy rock spot to do battle with Detroit as far as any late-sixties centers of positive rockism attention went.
Lawrence Hammond's vocals are fitting for this music, strained yet still teenage-sounding enough to make you think he was some runaway denizen escaping a nightly whipping from dad for the hip confines of the new civilization. Lyrically, Mad River are on tops as well with some great free-assoc. splat which you would expect from some heavy-duty psycho gems as "Merciful Monks" (I like the part where they sweep the nostrils into the sea!) and especially "Amphetamine Gazelle" which is at least the second ode to speed to come outta the lysergic portals of SF. Coupled with the highly-intense music which seems to bely the image that eventually befell the city (with more tasteful applications of Eastern raga coupled with flat-out 1967 hard-play) and you've got a classic surprise winner here at the BLOG TO COMM abode, a verifiable wowzer that thankfully deep-sixes all of the cliches of "hippie-rock" and makes more than one staunchly anti-flower power freak wanna mutter "where did they go right???
I could go on, about how I even heard a bitta Umela Hmota here and some slabs of proto-punk inspiration there (and how they were smart enough to ditch the hare krishna chant stuck inna middle of their otherwise-great EP version of "Wind Chimes" for this effort), but I guess anyone who has been in on the trip can find out these nice li'l nuances for themselves. As for me, all I gotta do is say that yes, if they could find at least five fine fellows in the City of Sodom they could find at least five great rock & roll bands in late-sixties SF, Mad River being just one of 'em. I can always use more of these rock surprises in order to keep my spirit going, and if the current state of affairs just doesn't suit me fine then these blasts from the past are what I'll have to sustain myself on until the next big putsch! And you really can't get blastier than the debut Mad River album, unless Shadoks or Normal Records manages to dig up some unreleased recordings by yet another pre-punk panzer division guaranteed to get my glands in an uproar but I'm not gonna hold my breath, at least until Volcanic Tongue updates their website!
Posted by Christopher Stigliano at 5:40 PM
Sunday, January 14, 2007
MUCH MAGOO ABOUT NOTHING!
Sorry if this ain't gonna be one of my ultra-longwinded Sunday posts (or maybe NOT!), but previous engagements (and a lack of solid writing material coupled with inertia) prohibits me from doing so. Maybe I should let you know that I am conjuring in my fetid imagination a writeup of the debut Mad River album while a number of classic magazine reads will probably get the nod more sooner than later, but as it stands here on the fourteenth of Janvier 2007 I really do not have the time, stamina or interest in popping out another humongous post for all three of you avid BLOG TO COMM snoremongers. Maybe comes Wednesday but not today, and if you don't like it I'll just tell you what Eddie D'Onofrio told me way back in the day..."tough turds!"
Just so's this post don't seem like a total waste lemme just tell you about one thing that is brightening my abode these dreary January days, and that's MR MAGOO ON YOUTUBE!!! Yes, because of the modern miracle of internet, one can now watch just about anything from clips of cute bikini-clad Japanese gals frolicking on sandy beaches to Jay Hinman dusting off his entire Judee Sill collection thanks to this wonderful site, and not only that but a lotta important (and long-lost) history relevant to me and perhaps even you is available in the HERE AND NOW thanks to the wonderful people at Youtube who present these fabulous clips of civilized relevance out of the goodness of their pea-pickin' hearts.
And as far as this "civilized relevance" goes, you can bet your bottom buckskin that Mr. Magoo figures rather heavily into the entire mental makeup of the one called Chris even though my memories of watching him on the box ain't as downright clear as the ones I have of being front and center for the forties-vintage BUGS BUNNY cartoons on channel 21 Saturday mornings or even such ratings toppers in the abode as SUPERCAR and WHERE THE ACTION IS. Naturally I, along with just about ever single-digiter in the sixties for that matter, was more than familiar with the famed nearsighted character (perhaps due to his commercials for GE light bulbs?) and a Mr. Magoo Soakie bottle is proudly snuggled in a box in the basement next to a slew of Felix the Cat and Ringo Starr empties, so it wasn't like the famed animated star was totally void in my life. Still, I can't say that I was as familiar with the Magoo cartoons as many of you readers probably were. Perhaps the classic shorts somehow missed being broadcast locally or worse yet had been banished from the airwaves by the time I would have remembered and appreciated them (though come to think of it I do recall being present for his mid-sixties prime-time series on NBC where ol' Magoo would play the part of various historical figures in loosely-based adaptations), but whatever...when I finally was exposed to a Mr. Magoo cartoon during my mid-teen days back when channel 11 in Pittsburgh was running some early-afternoon kiddie program (with "educational" filler swiped straight from SESAME STREET!) I remember laughing my head off even with the usual snow and interference hampering the reception as was wont the Pittsburgh stations that were lucky enough to blast a signal as far north as Sharon PA!
And even though I don't have that strong of a Magoo memory fixated in my six-oh pop kultured mind, the man does bring back a load of memories of my funtime pre-school toddler days (which were perhaps both the happiest and most magical as well as intensely frightening days of my existence) not only of the great television viewing that millions of kids would be inundated with (and with a max of three stations to choose from!), but of the way Magoo in his lovable, humorous and elderly fashion reminds me of a number of relatives who have long passed away which does tend to cause a nice lump to form in the epiglottal area thinkin' about how those people were some of the few who ever treated me decently during my up-and-coming days. I tend to get that way sometimes, and if you think that's living proof of my eternal wimpdom har-de-har-har then sorry I can't be a CYBORG like you!
Anyway, here, courtesy Youtube, is a great Magoo short which I know will knock your socks off unless you're so mindnumbed by way too many plays of Solar Anus to notice...
Now wasn't that high-larious??? And with the film skips, washed-out color plus the specks of dust and general worn-out-ness, this cartoon sure dredges up fond memories of GREAT AMERIGAN LOCAL TEE-VEE VIEWING of not only the sixties, but a huge hunkerin' portion of the seventies and eighties as well!
While we're at it, here's Magoo hawking Stag beer, probably from his short-lived sixties NBC series though since these are in black & white I'm not too sure about that (please correct me if I'm wrong)...
And finally, although a good month late for the season 'n all, here's a clip from the infamous 1962 Magoo presentation of A CHRISTMAS CAROL where the Ghost of Christmas Past takes ol' Eb Scrooge (played by who else but Our Hero?) back in time for a sad little number that does tend to pull on the ol' heart strings despite its Broadway schmalz...
Hope you enjoyed my little presentation, but before I go I gotta 'fess up to one important Magoo fact for you...back when I was a kiddie I was somehow under the impression that Magoo's Chinese houseboy Charlie (soon to be banished to the same limbo of Stalinized airbrushed cartoon characters as the Frito Bandito and the Funny Face drink mix flavor Chinese Cherry) was actually a GIRL because of his long cue, and that coupled with the strange ambisexuality of the Ghost of Christmas Past makes me wonder if Magoo was somehow responsible (albeit unintentionally) for the sexual confusion of many a lad during those maybe not-so-innocent days! Think about it...first we have characters like Charlie and the Ghost, then Batman and Robin are the stars of the television world, and coupled with the FACT that wartime pregnancies seem to produce more homos than the world can seem to bear its no wonder that by the seventies there was a big gay explosion that seemed to catch everybody by surprise! Throw into the equation the rise of bossy, domineering women who have all of the charm and sexiness of a snail and you don't have to wonder just where civilization took a wrong turn into decadentsville! Sheesh, I'm sure glad I survived the carnage relatively intact but if in case it was UPA/Magoo who were (partially) responsible for this strange turn in events all I gotta say is...did Bugs Bunny inadvertently lead to the student rebellions of the same stratum???
For a "short" post, I sure took up a lotta space! Ah Stigliano, you've done it again!
Posted by Christopher Stigliano at 9:11 AM
Thursday, January 11, 2007
Alan Sondheim and Ritual All 770-THE SONGS CD (Fire Museum, PO Box 591754, San Francisco CA 94159 USA)
It's a good thing I lost that ebay auction for the original Riverboat (also home to Robbie Basho) vinyl version of this elusive Alan Sondheim debut album, for if I had somehow won I would've been out a whopping $287.56 (my bid) for a disc that I could have waited five years for to latch onto in digital form. And true I hadda wait a pretty long time to finally lend ear to this legendary at least as far as that Nurse With Wound list goes platter, but really I know that the humongous amount of pasta I saved on an original could have been put to better use. No, not for my very own vibrating butt plug like you would Dave, but towards some of the more useful things in life, like EVEN MORE RECORDS!!!! Now how do you like them bananas?
Not knowing what I was going to be in for, I was anxious to hear just how Sondheim and his Ritual All 770 would have approached their spontaneous leanings in the days before those well-known ESP Disks hit the boards, and strangely enough I find THE SONGS to almost be an amalgamation of those future Ritual All 770 efforts. Longer numbers than on the first, yet just as sparse or as thick as the improvising could get (no synthesizer here though!) with moments of underlying intensity flashing into mad free-for-all. Ruth Ann Hutchinson is on this one doing the same kinda coo-ing vocals as on RITUAL ALL 770 while the rest of the group (exact same line up as RITUAL ALL 770 w/the exception of J. Z. for J. P. on "jazz drums" and June Fellows on additional vocals) are just as free form discordant as ever. And come to think of it, that June Fellows just might BE the very same June Sondheim who does these very strange vocal interjections here which sound very similar to those strange Popeye-like asides on T'OTHER LITTLE TUNE meaning I guess it does help to marry the bandleader in order to get ahead in life! All kidding aside, THE SONGS, unlike the other Ritual efforts, seems more or less like one continuous free-form freakout with Sondheim as usual alternating between a variety of instruments including violin, various guitars and even an early application of the sitar taken to atonal heights George Harrison never coulda dreamed up in his deepest mantra. And it's a kick to hear Sondheim in the midst of a blast throw inna little "Yankee Doodle," Jose Greco stomp guitar or da blooze as the rest of the band sounds like the Red Krayola decomposing before your very eyes whilst playing the AACM songbook sideways.
At first I actually found THE SONGS slightly lackluster and hardly on par with the better-known output but a more careful listening session had me oozing into the idiosyncrasies and subtle nuances to the point where I find this brand of improv just as good or even better'n some of the things I've been hearing over the past few years thanks to Dee Pop and his manic vision. It's a must for the "doo wah classic" bin in your household, and even though they hadda cop the master from "the best possible vinyl source available" this don't sound like no swipe from a tire recycling plant either!
One final note...although this was the first Sondheim/Ritual All 770 to hit the shops, surprisingly enough it was recorded a full two months after the debut ESP platter! Will wonders ever cease?
Posted by Christopher Stigliano at 6:13 PM
Sunday, January 07, 2007
FROM MY IMPORT BIN TO YOURS...
Last night while spinning my copy of the Quiet Sun MAINSTREAM album as I'm wont to do during the just-pre beddy bye hours I got to thinkin', not only about this well-revered at the time Roxy Music spinoff project but (gosh it!) all of those old-time European-bred import (and sometimes domestic) albums from the early and mid-seventies that I used to espy in album bins during my young 'n formative rockism years. I was also thinkin' about how I used to wish that I could somehow take every single album both domestic and import home with me (excluding the usual disco/country/pop turdburners of course), whilst wondering in my teenage mind of minds as to just what those mysterious discs that one could pick up for $4.99 upwards sounded like! I tend to think a lot about my pimplefarm years these days (maybe because I sure miss squeezing the things in order to burn off a lotta tension) then I thought that heck, here in the modern age I have more of those old import albums I used to crave back then than I can shake a stick at, only now they're on shiny aluminum platters that I can just pluck outta my "collection" and slam down on the ol' launching pad! So, with not much more thought in mind, I just decided to why not take one of those sentimental trips back to the days of yesteryear myself and spin a buncha those long-lost but not forgotten platters for old time's sake kinda like the way my folks used to (still do!) reminisce about the days of the Big Bands without the knowledge that a lotta these bandleader guys like Charlie Barnett were so wild they used to make the Who look like choirboys!
Tangerine Dream-ELECTRONIC MEDITATION CD (Castle Communications)
I mighta reviewed this one on the blog a few years back but for now we'll give this debut platter by krautrock gods Tangerine Dream another, er, once over. And for such a classic in the annals of German Expressionism it seems as if ELECTRONIC MEDITATION is getting a lotta re-think here at the dawn of yet another snoozeroo millenium...for me, ELECTRONIC MEDITATION was a pretty good rehashing of ideas first expressed on Pink Floyd's A SAUCERFUL OF SECRETS which was recorded a good two years before MEDITATION hit the turntables of der teendermeisters everywhere in the Old Republic. However, I shoulda caught on that ELECTRONIC MEDIATION was about to go through a whole passel of critical rehashings not only when drummer Klaus Schulze once referred to it as a punk record (kinda reminds me of the time someone from Genesis told THE PLAIN DEALER's Jane Scott that THE LAMB LIES DOWN ON BROADWAY had some punk moments on it!) but when David Keenan of Volcanic Tongue began writing about how much it oozed from its very pores early-Velvet Underground carnage! Well let's just say that I just hadda force myself to drag this one out of the collection for at least one more spin even though I couldn't quite "buy" what either Schulze or Keenan were handing to us eager beaver blogmaniacs.
That "one more spin" turned into about a dozen so far, and even though I think the above claims made about ELECTRONIC MEDITATION are more or less speculative babble through rose-colored rear-view mirrors (after all, I'm positive that Klaus Schulze hasn't even LISTENED to a rock record in over thirty years and I recall a CREEM-speak with Edgar Froese back in '75 where he mentioned a huge love for West Coast hippie shenanigans, but nada about the Velvets) that don't mean it's a duff disque. Quite the opposite...after all, with a strong love of not only the British but West Coast pre-ride-'em-cowboy psychedelic scenes you can't really go wrong with this nightmarish trip through a lot more than burning brains. Schulze's drumming is fantastic in that primitive Maureen Tucker (perhaps the ONLY Velvets-ref. on this disc)/Scott Asheton/Von Lmo style while Froese's guitar stylings are nothing but cheap acid tin reverb-y one-string playing that you just didn't hear outta the West Coast once everyone went into the woods to vegetate. And Froese's (or whoever ghosted...I think Jimmy Jackson) keyboard "virtuosity" (note the quotations Sherlock!) is also low budget/restrained in that spooky early-prog style without the intellectual sidesteps into the higher reaches of the John Schaum book. (NO Keith Emerson/Richard Wright pretensions...YET!!!) Third Dreamer Konrad Schnitzler might not exactly be an UP-FRONT member here with his droning 'cello, but at least he adds the avant garde oomph that these kraut efforts need. Too bad they couldn't've stayed together in this format at least for a few more Ohr-platters...true the next few Tangerine Dream albums were nice enough affairs in themselves but by the mid-seventies when they were battling Pink Floyd for the space-rock trophy all Tangerine Dream could do was put sound to lava lamps. Of course that was before they went the new age route to the land of Quinlan. But hey, if anyone has concrete proof that ELECTRONIC MEDITATION had some Velvet-vibe to it send it my way. It would be an interesting experience listening to this through a WHITE LIGHT/WHITE HEAT filter as much as I do other European extravaganzas of the days like Mahogany Brain and MONSTER MOVIE.
Amon Duul II-DANCE OF THE LEMMINGS CD (Mantra France)
Here's an old krautrock import bin stuffer that I (after being swayed by the 1969 garage band strains of WOLF CITY) used to CREEM-dream of getting my snot-encrusted paws on during my days of Desenex-rage. Coming up from the clatterpunk of the original Amon Duul, it seemed as if albums both by the original and "II"-affixed variants were becoming about as easy to find not only in the domestic but import and cutout bins during those glory days of record buying, and although I can't recall anybody else on the planet at the time who even KNEW what an Amon Duul was (other'n the usual suspects!) that only meant that I didn't have to fight off a whole hoard of krautskapading aficionados for these records which languished in the serenity of tri-county record departments the same way your turds moil about in the calm confines of your toilet bowl before the big flush! How lucky could I get...really!
DANCE OF THE LEMMINGS always seems to get dumped on by the usual Julian Cope-minded followers of the form (not that there's anything wrong with Cope or his opinions, at least prima facie) but I find it rather exhilarating myself. True it lacks the overt drive of the first two AD II offerings and it kinda takes a bit to "get into" (that is, without the usual "stimulants" that tend to turn braincells into utter moosh), but I find the way that Amon Duul II sorta takes West Coast psychedelics, Pink Floyd paranoia and Velvet Underground/Amerigan garageisms and intricates things even more to be pretty much what I seem to be asking for in the here and now (picky rockscribe that I may be). Tangerine Dream couldn't do that, while Can and Faust did it better yet with less finesse but we're talkin' Amon Duul here, and true they were also to head out to the land of burn once the mid-seventies began popping into the puke-active late-seventies but at least this one with their early "Stravinsky-punk"-styled offerings makes for a better lookback into the days of Nixon rage than...MELANIE???
Hawkwind-SPACE RITUAL 2-CD set (EMI)
And speaking of Amon Duul II, I recall how Hawkwind used to always get grouped in with our Teutonic tasties, and not only because they were on the same label at the same time. And I also recall seeing this album proudly displayed when it arrived in the shops back in '73 or so...and how could I forget that with cover gal Stacia's boobs starin' at me like they are on that psychedelic dayglo cover! I'll bet the Hawkwind people thought up that stunt in order to get thousands of horny pre-legal boys to buy the thing, perhaps in hopes of catching more glimpses of Stacia on the inside gatefold equally unadorned! But even with the cheap sex shot pushing product to pubescent pooperoos I gotta say that SPACE RITUAL remains a bona-fide early-seventies classic scronkfest that's so good because not only was it retro-garde (psychedelic music for the seventies!) but ahead-of-its-time as well (they never forgot the punk of the sixties, which helped them in the seventies!).
Like Amon Duul, Hawkwind were a fine carryover from the 1967 days of acid rage, and like AD they also had their mitts into the fine notion of hip paranoia as first espoused by the likes of Pink Floyd. In this way Hawkwind had strong connections to other groups on the post-psych/pre-punk playing board from the Deviants and Pink Fairies on down, and although they always had their long hair and tootlebell tingling side there was also that great swoosh of energy (thanks to the electronic angle, or was it that strange powder in Lemmy's luggage?) that kept them from falling into the Marin County trap that plagued way too many people, some who may not even have deserved such a sad fate. And the presence of Robert Calvert coming to the forefront of the band helped since he was a space cadet in good standing who knew all about the German style and remembered the late-sixties sense of shock! In all, SPACE RITUAL makes for a rather pleasant albeit jagged trip. The additional material on this new release ain't much, and "remastering" ain't as cracked up as it seems to be so if you see the original CD issue, or better yet an actual vinyl version...
Be-Bop Deluxe-FUTURAMA CD (Harvest England)
Yeah, I still remember Christmas vacation '75 (one of those great holidays I told you about a few posts back) when not only did I have a borrowed copy of Be-Bop Deluxe's debut platter AXE VICTIM to spin but I actually bought with my Christmas cash this very platter (on a CREEM-tip mind you!) to have as my very own. One of the smarter moves of a holiday season which also yielded me the first Pink Floyd album (on Columbia...still rotting away in my basement!) and a cutout of the Ruben and the Jets album on Mercury which didn't stand a chance. I dunno for how long FUTURAMA kept spinning in the Stigliano abode, but I'd say that it was a definite fave of mine for quite some time or at least until I got hold of my next Mothers of Invention album a few weeks later. And even after that you'd find FUTURAMA getting a play once-in-awhile because, as even I could tell you at this late stage in the game, having a band pose Roxy Music English smart and play MC5 Detroit heavy at the same time was a move that I'm sure few people would have thought of mastering at the time.
The CD does not have the same sonic dimension as the vinyl, but at least the music is the music (to be hippie about it!) and I can't complain about that. And I gotta admit that Bill Nelson's vocals are as fop British perfect as they could be for this over-the-top almost metallic yet British cultured rock music...sorta like an even more sincere Ray Davies (?) while the guitar is Hendrix-oriented free fall yet doesn't tend to bore like way too many wonks out there in "notice me!" land. Lyrics are ear-grabbing and as tasteful as Davies or Ferry, yet erotic in that classic seventies-style where Nelson didn't hafta pop off a lotta obscenities to get his point across and it comes off clean like the best of the form that ain't tainted by gross-out gore or feminist polemics. And the kinetic tension of the music plays throughout, on one hand keeping closely in touch with that "Harvest" style that the label itself was losing before its eyes (after all, they were signing the Little River Band at the time who had about as much to do with a Harvest oeuvre as Ted Nugent had to do with tenderness!) yet on the other hand doing a real kick-out-the-jams rock & roll that I don't think anybody could properly categorize even then or maybe now. Sure it was "progressive" as in "maybe" King Crimson, but then again "proto-punk" pops up in a lotta thesaurus-worn writers' pieces when dealing with Nelson and crew. And, like a lotta the enigmas of the age, you kinda wonder exactly who Be-Bop Deluxe were being peddled to. Maybe they were the bring everyone together kinda band of the day (or at least bring together the hardcore rockers and art effete crowds!) that some were looking for, but whatever they were you could say that Be-Bop Deluxe were the last truly Harvest-era act in the Kevin Ayers/Edgar Broughton/Syd Barrett tradition, at least until Wire's arrival on the boards a good year/half later.
BEFORE I GO I gotta mention that Tim Hinely has a new issue of DAGGER (#39...gee!) out which you can have for $3.50 (a steal!) if you send the MO or check or well-concealed US currency to PO Box 820102, Portland Oregon, 97282-1102 before he runs out of 'em. This one has an interview with Michael Fennelly (remember Crabby Appleton?) and loads on a bunch of new acts who I've never heard of until now! Educate yourself for once and send Tim the money...he needs it, and while you're at it so do I.
AND ONE MORE THING: remember Bhob Stewart? Well he has a blog and if I were you I'd go there as I have already!
Posted by Christopher Stigliano at 2:29 PM
Wednesday, January 03, 2007
EXUMA II (Repertoire Germany)
Ah, the gnu year. Hope yours has been as nice and as tippy-top as mine has been, given we're only three days into the thing! And if I do say so myself I surely have been having a good time of it so far even though old fogey me has gotta admit that it's a pretty hard FACT to cram down the throat that FORTY years ago (1967) the hippie generation was comin' into musical and teenage-trend power helping to change rock & roll from a wild, garage-band/moptop-dominated sound to boring images of the Old West filtered through a folkie's eyes, while THIRTY years back ('77) a powerful musical movement that was bound and determined to stand atop the dungpile of disco doldrums and "classic" radio hackery yelling STOP!!!! with a mighty fury was making itself known and getting ignored en-masse for all its troubles. Twenny years back...well, by then we all kinda got the idea that the battle was over. Just who WON the war (if it was one to begin with) wasn't quite discerned, but as I was saying 2007 has been kind to me so far, especially with the nice weather we're having here in Western Pee-Yay and all the fun and games I've been engaging in ever since I got all of my Christmas presents in full working order.
But I'm not writing this post to tell you about the weather or all the fun I'm having with my Etch-A-Sketch either. Naw, I'd rather tell you all about the first BLOG TO COMM-sanctioned "archival dig" of '07, mainly this Cee-Dee reissue of the second el-pee that was put upon this earth for us by none other than the mysterious Exuma! I mentioned Exuma in a post a few weeks or so back, about how this act played such New York beergardens as Max's Kansas City not only during the early-seventies (the Sam Hood period) but during the "punk-active" mid/late portion of the decade where they'd be stuck on bills with local punkabilly band the Wherewolves amongst other suitable up 'n comers. Stuff like that always seems to get my interest up, especially since I never was able to shake off this weird devotion/obsession I have with New York (and related) musings during the sixties and seventies but as Imants Krumins once said that's MY problem.
Well, I did get hold of this second disque of Exuma's originally released in the voodoo-active year of 1970, and in the process I've learned a little more about this act than I thought I ever would, like Exuma was NOT some under-the-covers rock band who just happened to name themselves after an exotic locale (a la the short-lived Calabria) like I originally thought but a man whose band of percussionists and chanters just happened to be named after him just like those other Max's regulars Alice Cooper and Von Lmo. And not surprisingly, Exuma the man (originally going by the nom-de-birth of McFarlane Anthony McKay) was actually FROM Exuma in the Bahamas which is where he must've gotten a lotta the mysterioso spirituality that not only permeates this disc but woulda wowed a Max's audience the same way Alice, Lmo and all those freak passerbys did during that great glorious age of underground spuzz! And what's really surprising about Exuma is that he had been at it (under his original moniker) since the early-sixties folk boom but have no fear, there is not ONE moment of black folkie introspect, no John Bassette dantiness straight out of the Cat Stevens book of etiquette or Ritchie Havens bellow for tepid "freedom" to be heard on this offering. And aren't you glad about that?
And given that the guy crept out of the early-sixties folk scene where I'm sure the brotherhood vibes had been running high, he sure seems more attuned to the degenerate underbelly of En Why See where he spent time on/off doing his special mystical musings for a more punk-attuned audience who didn't want to have anything to do with positive lovejamming! And the sound that Exuma, the man and the band, makes is entrancing in the fine sinister way which is a surprise considering the whole thing is performed without a hint of electricity. First off, imagine an acoustic guitarist with some sense of rock appreciation as well as vocal gyrations worthy of the best of the era backed by a chorus of male/female voices all banging on congas and rattling a variety of bells and shakers. Then imagine a music, rock & roll for sure, that actually digs into the hard-edged anger and energy of the day. Play "We Got to Go" next to Captain Beefheart's "Drop Out Boogie" and you'll know what I mean. And on top of it imagine Exuma's vocal talents which can range from island thick to down-and-dirty on top of the manic choir and percussive intrusions. And after giving this one a nightly spin for the past week or so all I gotta say is how did this one slip under the radar all these years anyway?
And with themes ranging from overtly Christian ("Baal") to Caribbean spooky ("Paul Simon Nontooth" which is NOT an incantation to prohibit the famed introspective one from swiping more from black musical forms!) you don't know just where Exuma will take you with his island rock which at one point sounds like classic Tyrannosaurus Rex, another like Velvet Underground repeato-riff and yet another like the worst folk mass you've had the mispleasure of attending, at least until Exuma lets go with a few lower-gut screams and belches to jolt you out of the faux hippie mode into the realms of pure juju. And the fact that the only instruments on this disque are an acoustic guitar, percussion and harmonica goes to show you that Exuma didn't need Ben Franklin to put any electricity into his sound...it generates itself!
I dunno if I'll be searching any of Exuma's other platters out immediately...after all this one will last me for a good time before I'll be in need of another fix. But I can't deny this guy and his band or followers or whatever they were put out a pretty scronked-out album which sure has made this forlorn blogger one of the happier specimens on this planet here in the late-oh-ohs. A definite search out, and if you wanna know a li'l more about Our Hero the web seems to have a few tidbits here and there. For a fine rundown, try PERFECT SOUND FOREVER (don't worry, you-know-who from "Down Under" [the toilet] DIDN'T write it!) for a rather invigorating Exuma saga that points out a few previously unknown facts about the guy that I'll bet you didn't know, just like I didn't until stumbling upon the thing!
Before I leave, let me now present for you (via YouTube) this tasty tidbit of the reformed Simply Saucer live last week in Hamilton Ontario doing their famous old standby "Here Come the Cyborgs" for what I must guess was a rather appreciative audience. You probably were not there, and I wasn't either (though I was personally INVITED and even promised a free meal in the process! I declined because I can't use strange toilets), but now thanks to the miracle of internet we can all osmose to the savage strains of Edgar Breau and band and pretend we too were front and center experiencing the droning first hand! And hopefully before the cyborgs do come, I'll try sending off another post, like maybe this weekend???
Posted by Christopher Stigliano at 7:22 PM