Gudibrallan-UTI VAR HAGE CD-R burn of 1970 Silence album, Sweden
Here's yet another (one in a series of a million) post-mid-sixties/pre-late-seventies garage band obscurity which I've never heard nor heard about before, a Swedish offering from '70 that was sent me by an anonymous donor (who wishes to remain so lest he be ostracized from the rabid ranks of anti-Stiglianoism!) wondering what someone wit' dem oh so impeccable tastes such as I would think of this pretty much unknown within or outside the borders Eurospew. And talk about being in the dark, for other'n a pack of pithy information in the mudder tongue very little in the way of fact or fiction regarding these Gudibrallan people is known to those in the English-screaming world other'n that they were a buncha rabble rousers who were in total sympatico with the lumpen proletariat o'er there which, come to think of it, ain't nothing new for a continent that spent a good portion of the late-sixties and early-seventies dishing out loads of proto-punk wonders the likes of Ton Steine Scherben and Umela Hmota kinda doing for the Olde Worlde landscape what the Stooges and David Peel did Stateside. And believe-you-me, such "credentials" still make a trash-aesthetic mongerer like me sit up and take notice like a pup begging at the table, for gunch-suburbanisms sure come off sweller when transpiring in the trashy abcesses of past glories rather'n in the sterile whole grain natural goodness of today!
So you're expecting anudder European (sung in an alien tongue) rehash of Amerigan trash arsethetics galore here, right? Well...yeah, and these Gudibrallanites do the whole translation yob pretty good. In fact, it's amazing that this disque came out in '70 cuz for the most part this entire affair is a blatant ripoff of the whole Yardbirds/Pretty Things rave scene done at a time when the prevaling winds were certainly a whole slew more progressive than this, especially in the "cultured" refines of the mainland. And when I say "blatant" boy do I mean it, for almost all of UTI VAR HAGE (title loosely translated from Old Swedish to mean "this one certainly tips the Bo Hansson scales, dontcha think Sven?") is nothing but "I'm a Man"/"Parchment Farm"/"Roadrunner" etc. ripoffs with tuneage slightly altered in spots perhaps to avoid lawsuits though at this point in time I don't think anyone really cared. Heck, even the all-time late-sixties standard "Hey Joe" done Hendrix-style gets the rehash here, though at least I gotta credit Gudibrallan for not sexing it up like fellow Scandies Mod (or was it Mad) Sound did when they recorded that scandalous classic "To Masturbate" a few years earlier.
The only thing that dates this obscuro to '70 are some of the more comedic elements of the vocalese which, in typical post-Zappa fashion, has that same old weird falsetto with a thick Euro appeal to it that can also be found on the likes of various Amon Duul II and DG-307 recordings. Must be some European in-joke a wanky yankee like myself misses out on, and if any of you overseas readers would wish to enlighten me as to what the joke is, feel free to do so. And while I'm at it, I should add that the spoken-word Swedish voice-overs will limit the appeal, but if you could sit through a Guru Guru album and absorb the furrinness of that you'll be able to enjoy UTI VAR HAGE with addled ease.
In all, it's a gas (to be total late-sixties groove-mode about it) and I gotta commend Gudibrallan for keeping the mid-sixties alive at a time when sappy orchestrated rock was seeping all over the place like caramel on a sundae. Really, the only record I could compare this one to would be the infamous Hot Poop disc and I never did hear that one even though some guy was literally begging me to buy the thing offa him some twenny years back! But I guess that if I did hear that one (and I think I have a good idea of what it does sound like after reading about twennysome years of reviews!) I probably would compare it to Gudibrallan at least in some half-there strange way that would justify this review of mine.
But really, you can find out for yourself. Y'see, the Silence label is back in business and has been releasing their back catalog on disque for a few years so not only is UTI VAR HAGE available for more'n a few Euromaniacs out there, but so is their followup (and on the same disc!) which even I might snatch up given the right impetus (and the right amount of money). Anyway, if you somehow have been entranced by this review and wish to taste the primitive pounce of Gudibrallan why not mosey on over to Forced Exposure and check them out right here! Who knows, you may be satisfied!
Saturday, June 30, 2007
Gudibrallan-UTI VAR HAGE CD-R burn of 1970 Silence album, Sweden
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
PUNK MAGAZINE #21 (not a fanzine anymore either!)
Some bloggers might wanna "run out and immediately buy the latest issue of UGLY THINGS" only to damn the entire proceedings with faint praise (and with praise from the likes of a total dweeboid like Dave "Don't you dare think I'm that guy who ran Dog Meat records!" Lang who needs criticism?), but it seems that as of late I've been taking my time latching onto a flesh and pulp copy of the latest issue of that esteemed publication for which I used to write before being shown the carpet by one Mr. Michael Stax. (And so what...I mean, it's his fishwrap!) It's not that I hate that once-fanzine 'r anything like that...in fact I gotta say that I LOVE the mag even with all of those "detailed" rock "histories" that Mr. Lang and his spiritual butt brother Jay "Do I look all-encompassing enough to you???" Hinman seem to despise, but reading any issue of UGLY THINGS with all of its detail and devotion to exact minutae regarding rock & roll groups of fifties, sixties and seventies vintages kinda makes me squirm especially when looking at some of my own crudzine endeavors which I may love just like a mother loves her child no matter how deformed in the womb it may be, but that don't mean a thing to the rocker out there wanting to read more about his fave rave act and wants it in a full-color cover t' boot! So alas, I'll have to wait until I get my composure together enough to send a few bux to Stax (y'see, I used to be on the mailing list and get FREE issues being such an important fanzine editurd and all, but since my crudzoid has more or less been zonked straight into Quinlanland I explicitly told Stax to take my name off his freebie list because it ain't like he's gonna be receiving anything in exchange for his rags until at least 2019), but until then at least I have the latest issue of PUNK to rah rah about, and boy is this just what the cat's pajamas dragged in especially when it comes to REVIVING PAST INDISCRETIONS FOR A TIRESOME PSEUDO-BOHO PRESENT!!!!!
This latest (#21) is no slouch either when it comes to sating three-decade-old throb cravings with (get this!) a tribute to the recently fallen club of New York City fame known as CBGB. You may have heard about this place somewhere before, and no, it didn't actually "fall" just like fellow En Why See hangout the Mercer Arts Center literally did (which you can read all about on page eleven), but from what I've been told it was a really swinging place which had this strange policy (along with friendly rival Max's Kansas City) of booking only original music bands, or at least acts that had a majority of original music in their repertoire! Not exactly the smartest thing for a mid-seventies rock dive to do if they wanted to carve a little success and monetary reward, but with CB's it worked and what's more but the place thrived as a money-making endeavor more/less at least until last year when the Blue Meanies finally had their way and shut that Bowery dive down for good!
'n it's a pretty retro issue as well, not only in subject matter (after all, PUNK, in order to survive, HAS to cater to the seventies p-rock mindset or else flop the way various eighties/nineties weak imitations did) but in style and grace! If anything, this 'un comes off more like an old issue of ROCK SCENE not only with all the photos of everyone from Iggy and Dickie Hell to the Dead Boys chumming it up together for either Bob Gruen or Leee Black Childers but with the layout and smart choice of interview subject matter. Sesu Coleman from the wonderful Magic Tramps gets to tell us their story since the Tramps were technically the first act to play CBGB (back when it opened as Hilly's on the Bowery) and yeah, it's yet another one of those self-plug type chit-chats but don't go sayin' that BLACK TO COMM didn't have its fair share of exactly those! If it's interesting and informative I gotta say all the better, and so what if the thing ends up as a big plug for whatever bands' website or new Cee-Dee release because THESE GUYS NEED IT!, and they sure need it a lot more'n the usual piddly-poo little boy thinking he's making a big statement out there!!!!! Richard Lloyd gets to talk about how he helped in the development of the new NYC scene as part of Television, while Jayne County even gets to put in her two centavos which is strange not only because back in the day the likes of PUNK editor John Holmstrom was firmly planted in the pro-Dics portion of the great Manitoba/County kerfuffle but sheesh, County got to blab enough in the previous issue awlready which I duly noted in my own review less'n three months back! And yeah, the eighties to present stuff is here and is interesting enough (I esp. liked the piece on the Tompkins Square Riots which kinda surprises me because that certainly was cheap VILLAGE VOICE radical fodder that I'm sure sold papers amongst the radically inclined in villages and bathhouses nation-wide), but I'll read about the Bad Brains and Cro-Mags even though I don't have as much as a bright-spot in my heart o' hearts for 'em as I do for the more seventies variety o' things (though I still will give the Brains their much-needed dues despite some of the more asinine comments that came outta their rastafazoolian mouths back in the day).
But it's all a real gas and yeah, it brings back memories...of combing through magazine racks and buying records on whims and perusing the (really!) VILLAGE VOICE music section and club listings before that all because a gross embarrassment because frankly, that's about as far as me and a few thou other away-from-it-all people stuck in Podunk got to experience the thang. But even that far from the source it sure seemed like something more attuned to MY sorta sense of Growing Up Amerigan and I gotta thank not only PUNK and Holmstrom for bringing it all back but the Magic Tramps, Heartbreakers, Richard Lloyd, Suicide, Helen Wheels, Lenny Kaye and the rest for going out at DOING IT so's bored anal retentive people like myself'd have something more to look forward to as far as experiencing rock as that International Youth Language it was s'posed to be. And with a dime maybe I can get a cup of coffee, but back in the day it sure seemed a lot!
***Jah-La-I SWIRL CD (Ni Music)
Here's a '99 release I snatched up because its harpist, Mia Theodoratus, was part of the ultra-boss Hanuman Ensemble that rocked the CBGB Lounge and 313 Gallery during their avant garde jazz nights bringing the sometime staid sites to a height of atonal frenzy rarely seen amidst homegrown folkies and quiet alternative bands. And, as you probably would have guessed by now, Theodoratus had also been in a variety of aggregates prior to her joining the Hanumans including this duo she had with tabla player Nick Smith. I had some doubts about picking up this Cee-Dee since the duo were joined by bassist Tony Maimone (top-of-heap icon during the late-seventies Pere Ubu days, but didn't he sorta get lost amidst the alternative flotsam of the eighties on down?) and a Carol Lipnik (who was in the band Byzantine along with Maimone when this CD was rec'd...know nada about that group but frankly, what would you expect from a group with a moniker like that?) and maybe some of those fears were founded at times (like when I first put the thing on and imagined myself in an arts and crafts shop w/o the scented candles), but have no fear because even given the harp-as-lead-instrument nature of this disc Jah-La do create some massive shards of atonal blare that might not be total eruption but can be engaging enough. Not exactly one I'd recommend to all you hard rock maniacs out there, but it does have its sorta experimental chahm that makes I SWIRL a marginal keeper.
Posted by Christopher Stigliano at 4:59 PM
Sunday, June 24, 2007
LAZY SUMMER BLOG POST #1
I am a woodpile-laden stroon...the only reason I've been posting these Youtube goodies all this week was to keep from having to write anything of actual substance (no jokes please) regarding the wild and wooly world of BLOG TO COMM-dom. And believe me, I did have a few mega-romps planned from a review of a five-CD set by a noted British experimental rock unit (only got past disque #1 so far) to a new compilation of tracks by a not-so-famous late-seventies Detroit-area punk rock aggregate as well as that Swedish underground platter from '70 mentioned last go 'round, but danged if I can't bring myself to put to words exactly what I WANT to put to words about these particular items. Blame it on the weather, blame it on laziness or just blame it on unenforced eugenics. You'd probably be right on all three counts. But I will struggle to pass something your way today, which might be akin to passing a kidney stone but don't go sayin' I won't go the extra yard (or post) for ya.
Archie Shepp-FOR LOSERS CD (Impulse Japan)
Having been burned by a variety of latterday Archie Shepp albums which seemed to draw way too much from past endeavors (gospel, blues and Ellington) and not enough from then-present days brilliance you can bet I was wary to give this '70 romp a try. But then again Nick Tosches (in his highly-recommended piece on avant jazz in FUSION gave rave to this then-recent excursion to the point where he called elpee opener "Stick 'Em Up" the best rock & roll song of the year! And really, how could a guy on the search for hot rampaging music like myself ignore such a plea for general jamz kickoutness such as this? Actually "Stick 'Em Up" is more or less a quickie attempt (or at least it seems like one!) to get a hit record complete with lead vocals by Leon Thomas (who shot his wad with a few Pharoah Sanders yodels long before finding sanctuary in the arms of Carlos Santana!) and Doris Troy on the backups and though the meeting of pop vocals and avant garde jazzters seems enticing, well I don't think it works at all, or at least to the very minimum! I never did hear Ornette's '69 hit single attempt capitalizing on the moon shot complete with a synthesizer (!) but I have the feeling that one'd top this on all counts...wonder how that one compares to this?
Actually side one goes through a variety of hot funk/r&b grooves with a particularly early-seventies urban feel (this album would make good backdrop while reading the "relevant" 1971-vintage comic book wares of DC and Marvel) but what makes this ticket a hot item's the side-long (using old elpee-speak) flip "Un Groove Monsieur (Poem For Losers)" where Shepp and band (inc. such longtime standbys as Grahan Moncur III and Beaver Harris) get back into the free swing of it all with a hot riff crankage that mixes the avant garde and funk like nothing since FUNHOUSE. Now this could be the rock & roll song of the year, and yeah, it does sound good in the mix of hot punk and jazz flash! Wear one out for size!
***And that's about it (at least as far as ready-to-go reviews) for now. But in case you're of the inquiring mind variety and wanna know what else is tingling my tootles civilization-wize here at BLOG TO COMM I gotta say that coming across a buncha old BACK DOOR MAN and DENIM DELINQUENT fanzines that I haven't read in almost a decade sure did the trick with regards to jolting me back to life. It's always great reading some REAL rock & roll writing which is in such low supply even on the web (not counting this particular endeavor), and naturally both fanzines have not only that but unique illustrations galore and high energy rock & roll potential packed into each and every one of their yellowing pages! It's always nice to resensify oneself with these thirty-plus-year-old gems not only to remind me of just what rock & roll (as a fan-based, teenage-oriented, international youth language) used to mean, but to re-establish within my mental synapses as to what this entire rock medium is SUPPOSED to represent not as a backdrop for "partying down" or alternative muzak self-consciousness but as a form that, really, goes beyond words and sound. Giving another look at these mags also helps point out past factual errors of mine both on and off this blog...like, you all remember that Redwing review of mine from a few weeks back? Well, sad to say but there is a mistake made on my part within that otherwise I must say excell-o review. Y'see, the group's previous moniker was not the Marauders as I thought but the New Breed, a name which was changed to Redwing upon getting signed to Fantasy records probably because it seemed more "in tune" with the late-sixties but I dunno. See, I too can humble myself!
Also big on the reading block this week were more of those great OUT OUR WAY comics mentioned last week. Right now I'm working my way through their five or so cowboy volumes which are definitely a hoot...like the "Worry Wart" and "Bull of the Woods" series that ran within this panel, these western-oriented comics have a steady cast of characters ranging from Wes, the geeky Easterner out to write a book to Curley, the rambunctious one who seems to be the focal point of these comics given his strong presentation at the hands of J. R. Williams (himself an ex-cowpoke), and surprisingly enough many of these panels are part of a long continuity contrary to what I would have led you to believe in my earlier review! (There's a particulary startling one reagarding Smokey and his love for the new school marm that gets into some interesting twists and turns including what we are led to believe is an attempted suicide!) And along with the humor and tension to be found throughout we even get a bitta pathos, like in this one strip which turns out to be an allegory about the dying West where Curley, after shooting a coyote, kneels besides her pups with a sad look on his face knowing that they too will have to be destroyed, sort of like the way his own way o' life is slowly being taken over by a new world he'll definitely have no part in. Pretty powerful stuff esp. to the novice who I'll bet never will know about OUT OUR WAY let alone understand it to its fullest, thinking the past is one big ball of blue meanies out there trying to ruin the fun of free-thinking soap-dodgers everywhere.
On to a happier note, here are some Youtube linkups (in another vain attempt to pad this thing out???) featuring the ABC special aired in order to tout their new '63/'64 television season. And this ain't just some plain ol' trot out the new shows for the season time-filler/free advertising that you'd expect given years of such horn-tooting, for it turns out that after being in existence for fifteen or so years this terminally-third-place net's now the NEW ABC(though the only really new thing I could discern was that their logo was ever-so-slightly changed from the standard lower case letters set within a large lower case "a" to the familiar white letters within a black circle used even to this day), but whadevva and at the risk of showing my TRUE GERIATRIC AGE this 'un has an even more special appeal to me because '63/'64 was the first new tee-vee season that I can remember being hyped about as if something of greatness was being bestowed upon us all! Maybe it was Jillery who was all agog about the new programs on tap putting these shards of excitement into my little beanie at the time (kids used to flip over things like that for years afterwards, though by the mid-seventies all I really cared about were the new reruns that would be popping up in the afterschool/pre-primetime hours!) but sheesh, even I remember when BURKE'S LAW came on the air and they had these network comeons hyping an episode where all of these clowns are barrelling outta some small automobile and one clown tells the last one in to hurry up and get out, only to see him dead by a bullet wound to the head! Believe me, this made toddler me wanna watch that show about a millionaire police detective even more, and too bad I couldn't understand a thing about it once the episode did air!
Anyway, enjoy it,even though all hostess Edie Adams makes me wanna do is smoke a cigar for some odd reason. I'm still curious about the infamous JERRY LEWIS flop that appeared on Saturday nights (only to be revamped as THE HOLLYWOOD PALACE) while THE TRAVELS OF JAIMIE McPHEETERS looks like a pretty good winner that I think actually did get watched at the old homestead Sunday nights, at least before somebody thought MY FAVORITE MARTIAN a better choice. (Mother liked THE FARMER'S DAUGHTER a lot as well, much to the anger of Jillery who was a TWILIGHT ZONE fan [and perhaps even denizen!] all the way!) And how about that brave experiment in television ARREST AND TRIAL??? Frankly methinks that Chuck Conners shoulda stuck around on the ranch with Mark and the comparative safety of THE RIFLEMAN 'stead of heading straight for this 90-minute cops and lawyers show, especially after the scene aired here where he, as the District Attorney, is mercilessly grilling a witness on the stand and the dunce of a defense attorney even goes along with the travesty in order to "get to the truth!" Anyway, as Jimi Hendrix said to Vin Scelsi in the Fillmore East men's room, "dig it," cornball segues and all!
Posted by Christopher Stigliano at 10:19 AM
Saturday, June 23, 2007
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Here's something from Youtube that I thought you'd enjoy, a classic silent-period FELIX THE CAT cartoon that Mike Snider e-mailed my way complete with an Eric Dolphy soundtrack ("Hat and Beard" which was none other than a homage to groundbreaking bopster Theolonius Monk) taken from his infamous OUT TO LUNCH elpee on Blue Note 1964. Besides the good taste the poster had in choosing this particular number to accompany a nice slice of early animation, I thought it was amazing how the music actually reflects the on-screen goings on (like when the bird dances on the telephone wires plucking them along to Richard Davis' own bass-playing and the butterfly bounces from flower to flower in perfect synchronization; I'm sure you'll find many other interesting happenings herein!)...in fact the entire track seems pretty in-tune with the antics of Felix and crew to the point where I would relish seeing more of these twenties cartoons being pared off with sixties avant garde jazz groupings to equally stunning effect. After viewing this majestic pairing of jazz and animation all I gotta say is that I sure wouldn't mind seeing Ko Ko the Clown prancing across my computer screen to the bellowing of Roscoe Mitchell!
Posted by Christopher Stigliano at 5:34 PM
Sunday, June 17, 2007
OUT OUR WAY SAMPLER 20s, 30s & 40s
OUR BOARDING HOUSE WITH MAJOR HOOPLE 1927
(both books published by Algrove Press, available from Lee Valley Tools)
One of the greatest things that my parents have indented into my oft-thick beanie o'er the years was none other'n a fine appreciation of the past, the past that they grew up in which I must admit was a world that was still relevant to me (in the perfect, non hippie sense) when I was crawling into the double digits oh so many years ago. 'n yeah, I know to some the tales folks tell about their growing-up days are filled with what some might call smug condemnation (and a jealousy of) a rather easy upbringing on your behalf (and true, I had to put up with the tale o' woe about how hard it was when my folks were kids just like they hadda listen to tales of even greater distress!), but for me listening to my elders tell me about how much fun they could get out of the barest essentials of entertainment available during those days of low pay and even lower thrill factors really made my ears prick up. After all, my father made listening to JACK ARMSTRONG on the radio a lot more vital to my own kid sense of excitement than the stuff that was being created especially for me at the time (like SCOOBY DOO and honestly, if somebody told me back when it was first onna air that this cartoon would have made it to the realms of animation immortality I woulda called 'em a load of hooey!), and of course these tales of a dirt-poor past, coupled with incessant reruns of LITTLE RASCALS and World War II-era Warner Brothers cartoons, only made my interests in past pop cultural glories all the stronger. 'n sheesh, but I gotta pat myself onna back for once and offer self-congrats for being able to pick up on the greatness and glory of the pre-hippydippy world back when all of the boys in school were chanting the latest antiwar slogan heard on some teevee drama the previous night and all the gals were glomming fashion tips from the pics of Gloria Steinem taken from the covers of TIME and NEWSWEEK!
Of course comic strips figured heavily into the makeup of alla those over-forty types who in many ways seemed totally frozen in time and in a place where the troubles and tribulations of the outside world were nothing but nightly news fodder about as distant as the goings on in Biafra and Laos. And of course you could bet that many of my older relatives (as well as my own parents) remembered the Golden Age of Comic Strips with a sentimental fondness to the point where you woulda thought they knew Dagwood and Dick Tracy personally which would figure since back then these little things really meant more given the lack of stimuli that was out there. And for years after the fact I remember people talking about OUT OUR WAY and OUR BOARDING HOUSE with great fondness...even my mother (certainly not a comic strip maniac by any stretch of the imagination) would recall OUR BOARDING HOUSE with relish while my father would continually refer to me as "the Worry Wart," the messy mixed up kid often found in the OUT OUR WAY comic panels which graced the comic pages (and, by the early-sixties, the want ads where all eventually-axed comics seem to end up) well into the era when I would be reading about and studying the style evolutions of my favorite comic artists the same way I would later on track trends in the history of this manic form we used to call punk rock.
Of course the real sad thing about it all is that most of my relatives who used to spin tales about their own comic strip upbringings in the 20s and 30s are either gone or in nursing homes, and another hard thing to cram down the gullet is that other'n for scouring old newspapers kept for historical purposes or microfilms it's pretty hard coming across examples of these comics in the here and now. Let's face it, a Major Hoople anthology is not going to sell as many copies as a DILBERT coffee table collection (but thankfully, you'll probably never come across one in a Goodwill book bin), but at least Algrove Publishing outta Canada had the smarts to (and in the HERE AND NOW) publish collections of both the OUT OUR WAY and OUR BOARDING HOUSE panels and what's even stranger about 'em is that they're available online, and via a tool supplier t'boot! Well, stranger things have happened, but I sure gotta be grateful that once again these panels are readily available so's I can drift back to those flat-onna-belly days of youth and sprawl myself over the living room floor reading these shoulda-been-infamous comics even if only in my ethereal, spirit form.
I discovered the existence of these books thanks to the Stripper's Guide blog which you can link up at the left, and if you wanna read their own review of these books (with important info I will leave outta my own schpiel for the sake of brevity) just press here. I gotta commend the guy who does this 'un for digging into the obscurities of the past especially since the comic page of today is so tiresome and self-conscious of itself that if it were a mere "shell" of its former glory thirtysome years back it's nothing but page filler today but anyways, I'm sure glad SOMEBODY out there is digging up these obscurities even though I'll betcha the guy gets about as many "hits" as Don Imus gets mash notes from Al Sharpton!
Back to the subject at hand...I gotta say that I really went ga-ga o'er the OUT OUR WAY comics ever since I could remember, especially its Sunday variation "The Willets" featuring characters who more or less appeared in the "Why Mothers Get Gray" panels. Of course by that time creator J. R. Williams had been long gone from the scene but the unique style aptly copied by such assistants as Neg Cochran coupled with the quaint homespun style really appealed to my eyes and seemed much more closer to my suburban brat upbringing than the gimmicky flower power mulch of the day. My infatuation with this panel ultimately led me to the library where not only a number of of classic OUT OUR WAY collections available for take out, but a variety of comic strip histories helped fill me in as to exactly where this panel was coming from and (even more) come to realize just how slowly its special brand of rural Amerigan homespunness was slipping away from our lives only to be replaced by a new form of coarseness that could only come from the hippie generation despite all its talk of love and happiness.
And as I could've gathered from the various biographies at hand, OUT OUR WAY's seemingly tres he-man creator led a pretty varied life even before he created his main claim to fame back in 1921. Before that, Nova Scotia born Williams had already found himself in a number of careers having not only been in the cavalry but working as a cowboy and in an Alliance Ohio machine shop. All of these experiences (before the age of thirty) contributed to the makeup of the comings and goings of his panel which, although pretty much forgotten by the modern-day Mr. Joe Blow at hand, was etched well enough into the minds of many a comic strip anal-retentive to the point where OUT OUR WAY truly is considered one of the all time classic Amerigan comics.
Other volumes in the Algrove series focus on Williams' cavalry, machine shop and cowboy cartoons but the OUT OUR WAY collection of early strips' got the best of the everyday suburban/rural based comics featuring a variety of themes like the previously-mentioned "Why Mothers Get Gray" as well as the Worry Wart ones, and for me these domestic OUT OUR WAYs are the best given that they reflect an idealized, soft touch view of the past whether it be growing up or going to work that seems to have been washed away be the advent of a whole lotta sociopolitical hooey lo these many years. It's not hard to see how such a comic could endear itself to so many given its downright gentleness...in many ways OUT OUR WAY seems more or less like a truly non-whitewashed happy memory of a fun upbringing than a totally rose-colored and overbearing nostalgia trip oft seen in way too many of these retro mags aimed at the old folks, and Williams' portrayal of the characters at hand show people who, although in roles of dominance over workers, children etc., still had a sensitive and nurturing side to 'em. NOT the washed-out sensitivity of the seventies male or anything along the lines of a Phil Donahue, but something quite different. The Bull of the Woods might have been the foreman, but he seemed just as befuddled as some of his underlings. And mothers probably did get gray, but you never saw 'em whalloping their kids or belittleing them to the point of tears just to "keep them in line." And the older brother who always got after Worry Wart for being a slob or ineptly dressing the baby seemed about as confounded as Worry Wart himself was.
It's no wonder that none other than PEANUTS creator Charles Schulz saw a lot in OUT OUR WAY and it indeed was an influence, expecially in the Worry Wart episodes (not only in the way it was kids-only oriented, but Worry Wart sure comes off as a 1920s template for Pig Pen!). And although you could say it was Schulz and PEANUTS which helped ease many of these early-twentieth century strips into utter obscurity, the same homespun everyday living feeling that one could find in Schulz's work certainly owes plenty to Williams and his more'n apt portrayal of this less-hectic lifestyle of ours that seemed to be here one day and then kinda vanished once the destructive generation started calling all the shots.
Only a buffoon'd think that there wasn't that much of a difference twixt OUT OUR WAY and OUR BOARDING HOUSE and believe-you-me, the similarities were there to the point where these two were pretty much mentioned inna same breath for more times than I would dare count. Look at it this way...both were panels featuring balloon dialog within a perfect square each with a punchline comment/title stuck at the bottom, both were also distributed by the NEA syndicate which was one of the smaller distributors in comicdom yet one of the more adventurous with regards to their high quality having offered some of the best strips on the boards between the twenties and sixties, and the two of 'em entered life about the same time in the early-twenties only to be knocked off sometime in the eighties long after you'd've thought comics like these woulda been terminated! And both OUT OUR WAY and OUR BOARDING HOUSE had brilliant creators, the latter being none other'n Gene Ahern, a fellow who I'd say ranks as one of the better comic dilineators of the twentieth century alongsides such greats as George Herriman, Bill Holman, Chester Gould and way too many both known and obscure who seem more or less like part of some long-forgotten club for all anyone seems to care these days.
But hey, I've come to expect that the better stuff in life gets the bum's rush while the lukewarm gets praised to the hilt...that's why Madonna and Chuck Eddy are famous while Von Lmo and I ain't, and true I also wrote hefty reams about OUR BOARDING HOUSE and Gene Ahern in the latest ish of my own fanzine and you can read more about it there, but at that time I didn't have this collection of vintage panels from the year of 1927 and boy is it a wowzer! Sure wish I had a copy of this 'un age ten so's I coulda read it in the privacy of my own bedroom 'stead of cleaning up Sam's dog poop, but I have it now even though I don't need any excuses to get outta doing some of the less tasty things in life.
Unlike OUT OUR WAY, OUR BOARDING HOUSE had a strong sense o' continuity featuring lead character Amos Hoople and his boarders (not forgetting wife Martha who my mother remembers with total fondness...oddly enough she feels really sympatico with Maggie in the BRINGING UP FATHER comic so you know where her sympathies lie!) in extended sagas, and that coupled with the way creator Ahern breathed life into the likes of Hoople (classic lovable braggart/blowhard in the W. C. Fields vein) who woulda doubted that this panel wouldn't've been a big hit with the early-twentieth century unwashed hoardes anyway? 'n these early sagas continue to hold the attention of at least this comic page maniac with sagas of Hoople taking a jaunt to New York City to try peddling his idea of encapsulated dinners throwing away all of his dough at night clubs (complete with some nice modern art jabs that were par for the 1920s course) and a bizarre attempt to pin a tug of war medallion on Charles Lindburgh. There's an interesting, almost art-deco-y look to some of Ahern's work (especially when applied to flapper-types) in these comics that neither he nor any of the artists who continued on OUR BOARDING HOUSE after Ahern skeedaddled for the greener (money) pastures of King Features and self-imitation ROOM AND BOARD could recapture, and what makes 'em all shine the more are the great groaning gags (usually fitted in via a radio blurb totally unrelated to the goings on at hand) worthy of Ahern's longtime Sunday strip topper THE NUT BROTHERS.
For those of you wanting more, here's a later yet still Ahern delineated OUR BOARDING HOUSE for your enjoyment featuring Jason, a black character who later popped up in the comic and if I'm not mistaken even stayed there for quite a long time well into the early-seventies! Maybe this is because that although Jason was pretty much in the stereotypical black style o' the day he was (along with his jockey nephew Armistace) rather well-developed as far as being a regular character in an early-twentieth century comic goes and done without any of the more grotesque features of the comic black stereotype often seen in the day. You may disagree, but then again I will say the same thing about Ebony White of SPIRIT fame and I'm sure more'n a few avid comic catchers (and race relation regents) will agree with me! (I'm not familiar with either of 'em, but I'll betcha that against the likes of Steamboat Willie in CAPTAIN MARVEL or Whitewash Jones of THE YOUNG ALLIES characters like Jason and Ebony don't seem as bad as some people make 'em out to be!) Anyway, I'm sure a panel like this will give you more than a nice taste of what the Hoople saga was like for well over sixty years (although later endeavors talking about the Superbowl and hippies for all I know probably seemed all culture-shock to the straights who were reading these comics back in their later days!).
Of course I'm not expecting any of you typically elitist alternative music bloggers out there to understand. It's just a thing that I have with regards to all of that fun stuff that used to transpire until everything became subservient to the cause of the week. But don't you expect me (and thousands of nursing home denizens nationwide) NOT to appreciate just what great artistic endeavors these two panel comics were for quite a long period in time and who knows, perhaps if enough people buy these books more volumes will come out just like Algrove promised! Well, at least it would be better'n perusing the latest collection of MUTTS (a comic that tries to raise itself to early-twentieth century art but falls into the same predictable trap as most other current offerings, and yeah, I do know that the drummer from Steel Tips draws this but I still don't get it. Well, at least the lead singer didn't bite any of his fingers off!).
***And now for those people who've tuned in for some rock & roll...sorry but nothing new this go 'round. I must say that I did receive a brand new CD release of some archival sides by a late-seventies punk band (as well as a CD-R of a Swedish underground aggregate from the earlier part of that decade) that I will be reviewing one of these days, but until I digest these items properly they will remain undiscussed and unfettered for now. However, I will mention one of my current faves which oddly enough is one of the first "progressive" sides I've ever heard, none other than the John Cale/Terry Riley CHURCH OF ANTHRAX CD (Columbia France) that has been spinning here at the abode nearly each and every night of the past week!
It doesn't seem like that long ago when I borrowed John Stanton's copy of this then-op classic and made a tape of it which I played nightly for a long time, and if it weren't for Stanton's endless streetcorner preaching about the likes of Cale and Riley, along with Eno, Nico, Roxy Music and Phil Manzanara do you know where I'd be today? Listening to Jan Garber, that's where! So let's thank Stanton for small favors, for CHURCH OF ANTHRAX sure holds its own and a lot more all these years later which is more'n I can say about some of the albums that were competeing with ANTHRAX for precious bin space at the time!
Anyway CHURCH OF ANTHRAX has everything from that classic repeato-riff Cale/Riley racket (the title track) to some straight-ahead avant garde classical/jazz crossover ("The Hall of Mirrors in the Palace at Versailles") to even some good downhome Velvet Underground-inspired punk rock (Cee Dee closer "The Protege") where guest drummer Bobby Colomby of Blood Sweat and Tears fame is instructed to play like Maureen Tucker! It holds up so well and sates me on many of my teenage listening-freak levels (avant garde, punk, experimental jazz...) that I'm surprised it didn't inspire me to rockism satori at the time, and at that time I surely could've used it! CHURCH OF ANTHRAX is also best known for the solo-Cale period ballad entitled "The Soul of Patrick Lee" sung by Cale soundalike Patrick Miller, probably best known as the warbler on that famous SESAME STREET ditty entitled "We All Live in a Capital I" which was probably the only reason for anyone with the brains to watch that kiddie show for years on end!
Posted by Christopher Stigliano at 10:07 AM
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
CAFFEINE JAG POST TIME!
Five cans of Dr. Pepper inna row'll do it to ya.
Bob Dylan-ROYAL ALBERT HALL GWW 1966 (TMOQ)
Readers of the latest but not necessarily greatest issue of my fanzine might remember lending eyeballs to a blurb somewhere in my over-rambunctious opening schpiel about how an essay-length review of both the original Bob Dylan ROYAL ALBERT HALL bootleg disc (which was making hefty inroads into general rock consciousnesses beck during the days of its early-seventies release) and the Columbia legit release of the same material come thirty years too late was scheduled to appear in said rag, but that along with such other promising pieces as "Shemp Howard, the Man and the Myth" and "A Listener's Guide to Content Providers (complete with prequisite earplugs)" were jettisoned into some great black abyss (or some box inna basement) due to space limitations ne'er to be heard from again. There really ain't that much to compare twixt the two...the boot vinyl take's got the legal variety beat all hollow not only with the great analog just-like-when-you-wuz-a-kid sound (not as flat as gypster Clinton Heylin makes it out in his own bootleg histoire) but with the way that classic mid-sixties (a time when very little rock & roll was intolerable) aural excitement is teleported to your pleasure principle a good fortysome years after the fact. And keep in mind that Robbie Robertson and company had only been a good year away from BOULDERS garage band immortality as the Canadian Squires before they got this gig backing one of the brighter stars of '65 before they all fell inna mud! But sheesh, in '65 who woulda realized it?
***The Real Kids-FOGGY NOTION ten-inch EP (Norton)
Yeah yeah, I know I already reviewed this 'un here but that was way before I actually listened to the dad-blamed thing! I sure did a pretty good job a la my main man Meltzer in pecking out so much drivel just by osmosing to the grand Velvet Underground homage cover (Norton being the best inna world w/regards to reshaping past accomplishment for present tastes sans coming off like pretentioso alternative rock hanger onners), but now that I actually found my copy while in the possession of a workable turntable (said disque re-discovered while looking for the legendary Bob Vivants rec, also a ten-incher that I can't locate nohow!) I figured...wha' th' hey...
'n it is every bit as wondrous as one could imagine, especially to one like myself who found an extra-special charm in these seventies post-Velvets groups during the final days of my teenage years when my VU-meter was perhaps even more inna red than it is lo these jaded years later. As you know, Boston, like Cleveland and New York, was a rabid center of Velvet Underground mania and like you also know that burgh, just likes its brothers in Velvetdom, had pumped out more'n its share of Velvets-inspired groupings long before such a move became the bastion of halfway-there youth who were able to only take on superficial aspects of the quest without offering the listener anything in the way of deepness or vitality. And I dunno about you, but sometimes even meek and mild me gets all blood-boiled over hearing those great old drones, repeato-riffs and heavy-duty art moves getting reduced to mere toothpaste by the likes of people who never really understood the true o-mind drive behind every note the Velvets laid down and at a time when it seemed that only the most sainted and aware amongst us knew what the entire vision was truly about. That's pretty much why I'll never let down as far as ridiculing and debasing the likes of people like J. Neo Marvin who never did nor never will understand what that holy trip really meant either on an urban level or for the throngs of suburban goofs like myself who just LONGED for Max's Kansas City, a trip which is certainly more VIBRANT than plagiarizing various musical moves setting it all to a too-easy beat with asinine lyrics reflecting equally idiotic lifestyles as well!
But hey, these Real Kids, like Mirrors and Simply Saucer as well as a load of long-gone garage greats yet to be categorized and numbered like extinct insects, knew all about the sights, sounds, attitude, sweat and pow'r. And what the likes of John Felice and company knew is readily evident on these 1974 sides...maybe by this time more and more people were finally beginning to understand exactly what Lou Reed and gang were doing eight years earlier because it was then that rock magazines other'n CREEM and a myriad asst. of fanzines were beginning to mention them again and groups like the Real Kids (then just "the Kids") were playing their songs and understanding their works with that deep feeling that very few today can comprehend. But even with the sparse audience response that great high-energy feeling I loved so much seeps through all these years later. Believe-you-me, I felt like that same teenager once again listening to the group tackle this material, complete with all of that wide-eyed, jaw-dropping awe that made me wish in my heart of hearts that I only had that talent, that imagination and swing to be able to pull my own band off that could rise to such rockism heights with seemingly relative ease.
Really good sound here too that's surprisingly a lot clearer than the cruddy cassette quality of the time which most-of-the-time reduced said proceedings to mud. Not that a muddy low-fidelity aura wouldn't hurt here, since the a-side's got Felice and band doing three Velvets covers (!) in that patented Modern Lovers/Mirrors seventies proto-everything crank but it ain't like this 'un sounds Cee-Dee crystalline clear so maybe I should be thankful for what we did get! And as far as Felice's introductions to the tuneage goes, I thought it was extremely funny when the guy introduced "There She Goes Again" as one of those songs Lou Reed wrote before he put makeup and sunglasses on...reminds me of a Tin Huey live tape I have from a year earlier where Harvey Gold prefaces a Velvets number saying that when Lou was in the band he was "great" and that now he's merely "good" which cracks me up even today because we all know what he is THIRTY-FIVE YEARS LATER!!! The spiritedness of these numbers reverberate even in the cyborg cold of 2007 (and have such a powerful presence to them that makes all of those current VU cover-takes seen on Youtube sound like utter nonsense) but what really got my synapses snapped was the flipster which presents none other than a six-plus minute take on the Modern Lovers ultimate statement "Fly Into the Mystery" complete with a rather dare-I-say touching intro from Felice telling the seemingly unaroused audience of how important the Lovers were to Boston. Which natch is followed by a dare-I-say moving (and keeping with the theme of the disc Velvet-y) rendition which I (under penalty of death) will admit I do prefer to the more-famous Modern Lovers take found on a variety of disques legal and not, but really I must also confess to you loyal readers that I think, nay, believe that the acoustic version found on ROCK & ROLL WITH THE MODERN LOVERS from a few years later tops 'em all. Maybe it's because that, when I first heard it, I had envisioned that the line about the boy who lost his girlfriend referred to her dying...the way Richman sings it to the sparse backing sounds so dolorous how could my underdeveloped mind think otherwise?
FOGGY NOTION's a masterful, important disc bound to get hefty spins here at BLOG TO COMM central and really, when I do find the Bon Vivants rec I wonder how its post-Velvets applications will hold up next to this 'un. It will be fun to find out, and while we're at it I hope Norton doesn't stop with the adoration here. Hey Miriam, how about getting back in touch with your old friend Joe Viglione and sweet-talk him into letting you release his Astrals stuff, that being his mid-seventies Boston-area group with a number of future Boston-area underground names like Fred Pineau (Bonjour Aviators) and John Hovorka (Turbines) that also did the Velvets spree before it became the hip fad to wreck, and for that they all deserve hefty royalties, eh?
***And while I'm on my George Kuchar kick (see y'day's post) here's another classic via Youtube...WILD NIGHT IN EL RENO (1977):
Posted by Christopher Stigliano at 9:23 PM
Monday, June 11, 2007
Sunday, June 10, 2007
I'd offer another free back issue to the first person who writes in telling me where I derived today's post title from, but I know this one is too easy. Anyway, given that this week wasn't as rockism-packed as previous ones there ain't that much to rah-rah about here in the bleachers, but I guess that with enough padding and longwindedness I can make today's entry just as staid and yawn-inspiring as all of the others!
Television-ADVENTURE CD (Asylum)
Okay, you're probably betting the farm that the only reason I'm reviewing this one is because some guy on a "competing" blog had recently highlighted ADVENTURE as one of those typically predictable milktoast-y followups to magnificent debut albums or something along those lines, and although I'm not the kinda guy who likes to go around looking for fights I gotta admit that sometimes my dander sure get way UP when I read such not-that-thought-out inanities as what this "competitor" doth writ. Don't kill me too much if I'm wrong with regards to the exact quote and intent here (after all, I only peruse said blog occasionally in order to not get said blog's author too "excited" over all of the "hits" he is receiving), but once again I gotta find myself in disagreement with this specific chap with regards to ADVENTURE, the second and final "proper" album by that band of seventies reknown called Television. After all (and it's true!), I've only heard ADVENTURE for the first time this past week (which is the REAL reason I'm writing it up today), and although it's been exactly twenty-nine years between hearing this and its sainted predecessor MARQUEE MOON all I gotta 'fess up to saying is that ADVENTURE is perhaps thee perfect followup to a pretty darn grand debut and anybody who doesn't agree with me is a total wuss loser who can at least comfort himself with his books and his poetry, to forgetting all of those hungry blog sycophants who hang onto his every utterance, metaphor, simile marinated or otherwise and zeugma (or is that smegma???) that might or might not appear on said blogschpieler's site. And in case you're wonderin' why it's taken me so long to purchase this recording given how a band like Television merge confortably with my own sense of rockist values, all I gotta say is poverty sometimes rears its ugly rear and maybe the ol' trust fund ain't as gushin' like it used to be and if your heart still hasn't melted over my life o' misfortune yet...well maybe you should try to survive by picking pennies off the street sometimes!
But rilly, ADVENTURE is such a perfect followup to Television's oft-praised premier that its hard to see how any other recording by this band could have done better. Like the best followups, ADVENTURE avoids falling into debut album cliches (not that I hate cliches, in fact I prefer to wallow in 'em) with a mix of old material that the band had been working out for the past few years tossed in amidst their newer acquisitions and its all wrapped up in a neat mid-late-seventies-styled production that actually makes Television sound not exactly professional but noble...maybe even studied or better yet erotic in the best Jonathan Richman meaning of the term. On ADVENTURE Television don't quite come off like what people were expecting those hyped New York groups to sound like, and in many ways they're closer in general "execution" (of ideas and overall style) to those nth-string bands who were lucky enough to cop a recording contract (anyone willing to tell me if those Cryers albums are worth the hunt? How about Nantucket???) complete with all the wide-eyed mysticism that surrounded the purchase of a record especially for pimplefarm teens like me who could barely afford the loot to sate our over rambunctious habits.
Every track on ADVENTURE is a glorious exploding ruby for sure, though for me the highlights include the chiming guitar lines on "Days" (best invoking of the original Byrds spirit since "I'm Set Free"), the anti-war drill "Foxhole" (which surely puts a whole slew of the hippiepunk spew heard on the subject in its proper agitprop place) and the retro-six-oh pop of "Careful," which is almost as good as that rendition TV laid down at the Piccadilly Penthouse in Cleveland back July '75! Of course nothing on ADVENTURE comes close to how the band did it live but then again what else is old?
Anyone who thinks this is a second elpee lost cause can go stick something else up his already over-traveled hindquarters (like his head!) because ADVENTURE truly is just what its title alludes to...an all-out party for the ears which doesn't let up one bit and once again proves that Television were one of the best "underground" acts to pop out of the Amerigas in the latter portion of those long-reviled seventies. And it just makes me wanna hear more 'n more of what that teenage garage band of Television meisters Tom Verlaine and Billy Ficca that supposedly did the ADVENTURE trip back in '65 (!) sounded like...and if stories about pampered high schoolers throwing graduation cake at 'em during their only live appearance was in fact true then they gotta've been THEE punkiest expression in rock/roll to have popped outta the mid-sixties cesspool until the Velvet Underground!
***The Move-MESSAGE FROM THE COUNTRY LP (EMI/Harvest, England)
Here's one of those import bin droolers that I remember wanting to get so bad (probably because of the cool Harvest logo) way back inna day. Well, now that I do own my very own copy of this latterday Move elpee all I gotta say is, I sure woulda appreciated the acquisition back then a whole lot more (when it didn't take that much to please me), but yeah, it does look nice inna collection. Now if I can only invent a time machine so's I can send all of these great albums back to fifteen-year-old ME because I sure coulda used the Move more then than now, as I'm sure we all coulda! But that's just more of my wishful fantasy thinking and after giving this 'un a spin all I gotta say is that as far as Harvest-period Move go it's better to stick with the budget crankout CALIFORNIA MAN (which is probably still available on Cee-Dee) and forgo seeking out a copy of this proper Move swansong. CALIFORNIA MAN not only has the best tracks from COUNTRY but all the cool non-elpee wonders like "Do Ya" and it rocks solid with all the artzy English pretension left off but the artzy English swank moves left on! Not that COUNTRY is pretentious, but the truck-drivin' song (with drummer Bev Bevan doing as convincing a Southern United States accent as most of those actors you see on PBS britcoms!) fizzles and the rockabilly was done better on the "California Man" proper single. And with the gaudy cover (front looks like it was painted by an art school student EMI probably paid off in albums, back pecked out in typewriter font about one step above a bootleg) all I gotta say is was this really a bargain? But gee, look at all those cool instruments listed next to the names of the three soon-to-be Electric Light Orchestra members!
***Harry Toledo-"Crime Doesn't Pay"/"Story of Love" single (Toledo)
Here's a guy who I gotta admit to digging to the utmost, but even a rockist sleuth such as I must tell ya that finding any solid, usable information on Mr. Toledo is pretty much akin to finding an un-torn sphincter on Castro Street. True he was part of the early New York post-glitter underground scene in New York with appearances on the fabled MAX'S KANSAS CITY VOLUME ONE album and that infamous low-budget scene report of a film THE BLANK GENERATION, but other'n a brief writeup in an old NEW YORK ROCKER not forgetting Fred Kirby's review of a three-piece Toledo band in VARIETY I have found very little on the man although his one-time backing musician Ed Tomney has received plenty of press coverage due to his post-Toledo group the Necessaries, a band that never really excited me although repeated spins may have me thinking otherwise.
I can tell you that the folks at PUNK magazine hated the guy, but then again they disliked a lotta the lower-rung groups that I still hip-hooray over perhaps because these lesser-knowns had more of an allegiance to the mainstream of rockism (with the saving grace of garage band inclinations) than the folks at PUNK cared to be associated with. But still, I will stick up for Toledo when prompted if only for his neat post-Velvets trance-rock style which was most evident on "Knots" from the aforementioned Max's elpee, but shows up again on this recently-discovered platter that I believe was released after his Spy-records EP which was produced by none other than John Cale, a guy whom I would suspect knew what to do with the likes of Toledo even if the resultant EP wasn't as WHITE LIGHT/WHITE HEAT as I would have hoped it to be.
Actually this single does come close to a WL/WH cruncher filtered through "Roadrunner" but it's still wild enough for a guy like me who spent '78/'79 looking for any vestige of the Velvet Underground he could find and in any band reference he could locate with his limited resources. If only I had found this one when it was released, but still it's worth the seek-out for that great riff-rock complete with a Vox organ played by Toledo himself giving it that Cale/Jerry Harrison drive that seems to be void in most post-alternative Velvets homages one has seen since the dread eighties. And yeah, that stuff was "long ago" but that doesn't mean it has to remain in the past! This is everyday current RIGHT NOW! music as far as I'm concerned and if we could only send all that horrid balladeering and hippity hop to the barber shop crap heard today to the past where it can decay with disco the world would be a better place!
Like ADVENTURE, Harry Toledo remains current and "relevant" (in the best, non-hippiest way) in the here and now and as soon as more people being to realize that all that AMERICAN IDOL schmooze is nothing but Patti Page for the new millennium and that rap music is nothing but Kool and the Gang with a thyroid problem maybe we can get back to the core of the matter again. The matter being rock & roll! ('n yeah, I know that yammering on about musical trends that I have no control over that have been wreaking havoc with my ears for a longer time than I can imagine is not only worthless but downright immature as people actually believe that I am a highly respected "rock critic" [which I ain't], but sheesh, letting off steam after a good thirtysome years of osmosing all of the worst, tiredest aspects of what is supposed to pass for music as the soundtrack to our "growing up" or general lifestyles is pretty invigorating if you ask me! After all, having to have put up with disco, breakdancing, baggy pants and pathetic imitation pose passing as honest revolution during the so-called "prime of my life" was bad enough, and sure and shooting I am still mighty pissed that my generation and subsequent ones hadda chose beyond-lame posturing in place on bared-wire intensity!!! And if YOU [upwardly-mobile blog-cruising hotshot musical aficionado] ain't mad yourself, then I must offer congrats for you and your cast-iron sense of anti-life emotions!)
***Screamin' Jay Hawkins-"I Hear Voices"/The Clovertones featuring Esquirita on piano-"Didn't It Rain" single (Norton)
One of the best things about getting an actual turney table to play all of my old wares on is, besides re-discovering a few old friends as well as a few candidates for the sell pile, finally being able to give a listen to some of the items that have been sent my way thanks to the kind thoughts of various record company executives who send me their produce simply because I am me! I mean wow, could you think of a BETTER reason for me to receive all of these gratis albums, singles and even Cee-Dees since I am so humble and lovable in the best Underdog fashion? Of course these same people send me items hot off the presses because they would also like me to review 'em which I try to do, unless I feel like judging books by their covers and unceremoniously throw 'em away or somehow lose these discs in my vast array of vinyl towers hovering in the abode likes skyscrapers along the closing shot of NAKED CITY but really, when I find a recording document worthy of my time and effort to write it up you can bet I will devote a small portion of my precious life to tell you exactly why you should dish out the shekels and obtain a copy for your very own. making myself feel proud and self-worthy in the process as well!
You probably remember my review of the '62 Screamin' Jay Hawkins single that came out on the Enrica label a few posts back. Well, believe it or leave it but I found the a-side (or at least an alternative take of it) on this new Norton single coupled with a side by some vocal group called the Clovertones who were lucky enough to get Esquirita (the Alfred E. Neuman of the Norton set?) to tinkle the ivories on this rarity. Both acts were on Enrica at the time thus making the pairing more'n fitting as far as Norton's efforts to prove that the early-sixties were boss times in the face of what they called Frankie Avalunkheadisms go. Actually the Hawkins side is almost an exact take of the track that eventually came out; of course if I were able to play both sides simultaneously I probably would come up with a totally different assessment but I actually like the way Hawkins sings the word "moan" at the fadeout 'stead of actually do it like he was instructed! Flipster's more of that great vocalese that sorta reminds me of the stuff me and my cousin would walk around to in his basement when we were like three or so because we didn't know how to dance (also hot on the hit parade was a scratchy copy of "Washington Square" which still brings back basement walking memories...by the way this was the same basement I used to do interpretive dances to while playing "Hound Dog" back when I was eleven!) but anyways, its hot gospel-tinged r/b vocal hootage made magnificent by the piano playing of the one they call the Voola! And both sides are top hit-to-pick winners that should adorn the collection of any true-believer, and frankly, anyone who had the guts to tune into this blog w/o the express purpose of mocking us or "checking out to see how the other half lives" definitely is one!
Norton's always been a class label and this Hawkins/Clovertones issue certainly hits the heights of advanced karmik whooziz considering the titans paired up for this particular bout (and speaking of bouts, liners refer to an actual fist-fight between none other than Hawkins and Mr. Reeder around the same time these sides were recorded, said fight ending when the two fell into a construction hole!). And now that I have that aforemeentioned turney-table in working order all I better do is finally get that Real Kids ten-incher of a Velvets trib that Norton released a few years back outta its sleeve and let its droning magestry do its work on me pronto! (And speaking of ten-inchers [calm down, Dave!], I'm still trying to find out where I placed my Bon Vivants EP I mentioned on this blog late last year...after all, I've been dying to hear that one for quite a long time given how it seems to hold the promise of mid-seventries underground spew and in the postmodern age t'boot, but danged if I can find my copy anywhere inna collection. Hey, I guess I might have to fork out more moolah to Eddie Flowers for anudder copy, and the way these things are selling he'll probably have 'em in stock from here 'til doomsday!)
***E. Power Biggs-A FESTIVAL OF FRENCH ORGAN MUSIC LP (Columbia)
Hey, as you could tell by my MUSSORGSKY'S HEAD review awhile back, I can gets classical too! Actually, I only bought this one because Aral Sezen mentioned it as being one of his faves in that bound-to-be infamous Velvet Underground in San Francisco '69 article that appeared in one of those issues of WHAT GOES ON that came out way back inna day, and true he also mentioned the Cocteau Twins as biggies in his life but I'm not that gullible! Anyway, this is just what the title sez, highbrow sounds written by a buncha dead Frenchmen played on a humongous church organ sounding pleasant enough while I ruffle through the vinyl but frankly I find it way too romantic for my own tastes. I gotta say that I prefer the baroque energy of the 17th century organ as well as earlier musical modes (I still gotta marvel at how fourteenth century music like that of de Machaut's sounds totally inward-turned intense and feral, especially when played by the likes of Sandy Bull), and maybe I do like it because it is oppressive. Patti Smith said just as much about the Velvets, and maybe we can trace that line of intensity that Lester Bangs once mentioned way back to this early medeval brew. Any recordings of early classical idioms and baroque organ that you readers might care to point me towards?
***WHADEVVA HAPPENED TO __________________?: Oft that question is heard amongst people who habituate various sectors of fandom and yes, it seems as if some practitioners of the form we call obsessive/compulsive devotion are here with us one day, then all of a sudden abandon their lofty places in the fan world for...what??? Some say real life with work, wife, kids and morgages, other say the Wide Open Spaces, and yet others...death. But ya gotta wonder about whatever happened to some of the guys and gals who were a part of this fanzine/rock spew world back in the sixties and seventies who, although showing much promise as writers, artists and assorted stooges, sorta slipped outta sight seemingly ne'er to be heard from again. I mean, where is Robert Somma these days? Or Geoffrey Cannon, or Lita Eliscu for that matter??? Better yet, can anyone tell me the REAL whereabouts of one Wayne McGuire???
Well, thanks to the miracle of internet at least we can check up on the whereabouts of some of our once-and-always-faves and from the sanctity of our bedrooms as well! Anyway, once again the forces of kismet played into my sweaty palms with regards to making such a discovery of Dr. Livingston proportions, because only just recently did I receive a post comment from one Scott Duhamel, a fellow who had been not only writing for the likes of DENIM DELINQUENT and various other fanzine excursions during the early-seventies, but one who also just happened to co-write the Gizmo classic "Mean Screen" (and via mail as well!) making him a special contender for the PUNK ROCK HALL OF FAME junior division! And talk about surprises, for who woulda thunk that such a guy would still be around and cruising the web for that matter! Duhamel even has his own blog entitled Culture Vulture Time, and although I think he spends too much time on it writing about tee-vee and moom pitchers (and I'm talking current-day stuff like THE SOPRANOS which is tough onna luddite like me who has to force myself to watch BONANZA because it's in color!) and should be writing about rock & roll more often I still recommend the thing to the hilt. It's great seeing these seventies groundbreakers alive and active in the present day which only makes me wonder...does Adny Shernoff have his own blog? I sure could use a TEENAGE WASTELAND BLOG inna here and now and if you happen to be reading this Adny, how about getting back into the writing end of things because we sure can use the chuckle!
Posted by Christopher Stigliano at 12:01 PM
Thursday, June 07, 2007
REDWING LP (Fantasy)
Yes I've been suckered many a time, but really, when you're expecting an album from the sainted days of cheapo cutouts and lost kultural gems to be that special something you've been craving all these years only to find out that it's just another early-seventies throwaway, man do you feel washed out! Or make that run over with a steamroller or an Eyetalian picking dandelions on the freeway for that matter. And true, a lotta these forgotten seventies salvages have been worth the time and effort it took to track them down even before the grand and glorious days of ebay (otherwise would we even know who Hackamore Brick and the Sidewinders were?), but getting hold of a certainly not-up-to-snuff elpee that you've been craving for ages is sorta like marrying what you thought was the most gorgeous girl inna world only to find out on your wedding night after taking off the shrink wrap (sorry, but sometimes I get record collecting and whoopee-related matters all mixed up!) that her entire butt is cellulite city and that she must've had some extra-strength bra on to keep her boobs from knocking against her knees, and true you can easily enough sell an alb (and yer stuck with the dame!) but the same heaping hunk of disappointment is still there and if you ask me it's worse'n all those deflated Christmasses of yore combined!
Redwing certainly had a number of good things going for 'em too, from a pretty snazzy non-pretentious San Francisco reputation (seemingly far-removed from the images of hippie hackery so in-place in the burgh come the seventies) to a vast array of smart guys in their rah-rah section o'er the years. Gene Sculatti, a fellow who could reveal to you exactly what is was which made San Francisco tick (and who knew the difference between fandom and hagiography) being just one...his FUSION review is what got my pea soup bubbling to the point where I actually placed a hefty $6.72 bid for a copy of this via ebay a few weeks back, and given the hipster name-dropping of the likes of Moby Grape and even the Velvets (if only with regards to a few seconds in the intro of "Shorty Go Home") how could one as precociously gullible as myself resist? And Sculatti certainly was more'n just a camp follower, once writing that live Redwing put on a totally wild, killer show that approached the MC5 for solid high energy thrills! Also in Redwing's camp was Jymn Parrett of DENIM DELINQUENT fame, and the guy even featured the band (complete with a back cover snap!) in his fifth (and best) issue, the same one which sported huge paens to the one called Iggy during his just-post Stooges days in Los Angeles when the guy was wallowing between his legendary (and as yet-unreleased---hisssss!) "Murder of the Virgin" gig at Rodney's English Disco with Ray Manzareck on organ and popping in on a Flo and Eddie radio show at KROQ where he sang along to "LA Woman" before the hosts unceremoniously kicked him off the air. Greg Shaw too, and frankly I wouldn't be surprised if more reputable names were in the Redwing camp, even if the fact that this band croaked out five albums might give one the idea that they were just as much San Fran hack as Joys of Cooking and other hippoid miscarriages of the days of acid comedown.
And really, Redwing are one buncha boys I thought would've had the spine to release one of those knockout debut platters along the lines of THE PIPER AT THE GATES OF DAWN, THE VELVET UNDERGROUND AND NICO, THE STOOGES, KICK OUT THE JAMS, (none other than) MOBY GRAPE need I go on, especially considering that they had been around for a good decade before recording this maiden endeavor going from early-sixties teen stompers to mid-sixties garage band losers (with a track on PEBBLES...I believe volume ten, as the Marauders) to local mainstays on the lower-tier scene. But no, even with a decade of "shoulda known better" behind 'em their first 'un really ain't anything to cheer about even if you were rollicking in the comparatively dull early-seventies music scene when half-way there almost seemed like "all the way." None of the special eclectic magic of Moby Grape appears nor does the psychedelic blast of Quicksilver Messenger Service let alone Mad River and other West Coast bright spots. I mean, I wasn't hoping for the Flamin' Groovies (who at least kept the mid-sixties SF spirit alive with all of the punk intact), but sheesh, just look at those guys in the upper left corner of this review...not a shred of hippydippy in sight and the guys kinda look like what I would expect your average early-seventies garage punk band to come off like, but why this rather tepid, shallow country rock when they should've been kicking out some major jamz anyway???
REDWING is just too giddy, longhair country/commune settle-back Boone's Farm-y for my tastes and I dunno, maybe I am missing something??? (If so, please do some enlightening.) And sure, the fact that Ralph J. Gleason did the liners might be a tipoff to its blanditude given that peacenlove-addled minds tend to cosmically flow in the same direction, but he also did 'em for the first Tony Williams Lifetime and that certainly was a jaw-dropper. Maybe if they got Meltzer to write 'em I'd like this a whole lot, but otherwise all I gotta say is that REDWING is a rather pedestrian affair that if anything reminds me of the plethora of snoozy post-New Riders bands that proliferated bars across the land for a longer period than I'm sure any true rock & roller could stand.
(Oh, there's one thing I like about the album and that's the song "Bonnie Bones." It's a loser for sure with its rather giddy freaks on the farm approach, but the title reminds me of the name of Dick Tracy's daughter Bonnie Braids, she being yet another slick comic strip marketing ploy worthy of Al Capp or Charles Schulz considering how a Bonnie Braids doll was marketed soon after her arrival in the strip. Bonnie was perhaps the last great TRACY tie-in gimmick until Moon Maid had her own kid a good fifteen or so years later at which point all the original fans of the strip had bailed out in disgust given how they could take grotesque killers and ultra-violence in their comics but not aliens! Still, memories like these always tend to cheer this old pooperoo up once in awhile!)
Posted by Christopher Stigliano at 7:12 PM
Sunday, June 03, 2007
"Rotomagus - cre une musique emotionnelle, violente, viore agressive, ou s'inserent brusquement des moments de reflux.... des contrastes violente, des baisses brusques de tension et de rhythme. Beaucoup de travail dans les parties vocales."-Jacques Chabrion, ROCK & FOLKBeing on the lookout for all sorts of interesting proto-punk/demi-metallic excursions that have spanned the globe during those wild n' wacky early-to-mid-seventies (and ever-so-slightly before or after, depending on the musical sitchy-ashion at hand), I was pleased as pie when Mike Snider tipped me off to this French heavy metal bunch who according to said tipster were one of the few groups anywhere in the very-early seventies who professed an actual Iggy and the Stooges love and devotion (albeit they certainly were not a "French Stooges" as I was originally misquoted as saying)! And, having been driven right by the stellar European rockist tactics of such continental delights as Can, Mahogany Brain, Amon Duul, Umela Hmota and Ton Steine Scherben amongst a few hunnerd others I decided to actively seek out these Gallic minstrels' recorded wares not only because Rotomagus seemed like such a hot shot rock excursion, but because kicks STILL are getting harder to find and any honest seek for the core-of-it-all is more than necessary especially here in the dark ages of the alledgedly-enlightened late-oh-ohs, a time where it sometimes seems as if rock & roll (as whatever you might have thought it to be as a soundtrack for your own particular lifestyle) is just another 40-plus-year-old brand of rabble that only gets deified and honored this far down the line because it's been de-fanged beyond all recognition to the point where it's just as safe as that pack of vanilla pudding you can also purchase just a few aisles down.
Anyhow, the TETES LOURDES sampler (as they say, scroll down for a review) helped sate some of my thirst for these frogs' THREE singles which is def. why I went to the trouble and $$$ to obtain these flesh & blood platters for my very own, obsessive wonk that I am. And like I said, now that it's 2007 YOU NEED THIS HIGH-ENERGY MUSIC MORE THAN EVER and better it be Rotomagus (much better)than the latest flash-in-the-pan that never did deliver on the action and adventure and you know the rote score by heart already blahblah snoozesnooze...
Not-so-oddly enough, it seems as if those familiar with the Rotomagus legacy (or whatever it was) aren't even aware of the band's debut single on Polydor. I can see why because although the group is most definitely "there" (as a quintet), they appear on the sleeve looking well-scrubbed and ready to entertain the most cultured of French teenagers as "Les" Rotomagus on "Le Haut Du Pave"/"Nevada." Really, from the pic that appears slab-dab onna front of the thing you'd get the idea that these Rouenites were more or less ready to become France's answer to the Bee Gees with that same 1968 neat wildness that was too timid for the acid rock fans yet too extreme for all those people who still couldn't stand Elvis, and the 1966/67-era Beatle-influenced rock complete with accordion (!) found herein bears this out. Since both sides were written by the team of "Ph. Doray and Ph. Lhommet" (with actual group leaders Sylvain and Pierre Peresse only credited with vocal arrangements) methinks that Polydor had hefty pop plans for the group complete with "professional" songwriters dictating their material and direction which I would assume didn't quite mesh with whatever metallic plans the group alledgedly had at this point in their career. Still a nice debut with pleasing-enough suave moves and Association-inspired vocal harmonies to match and hey, although I thought that with a title like "Nevada" it would be either an all-out wild west-styled rocker about cowboys or perhaps a hot gambling ditty, I gotta say I was charmed!
After their Polydor escapade Rotomagus sans le "Les" found themselves on CBS and released what might have been their moment of glory, the "Eros"/"Madame Wanda" single. Now a sextet it seemed as if their new label was more or less bound to pull out all the stops to make these guys the hit of the land not only as part of a package tour but with this wild card of a surprise slice of power that should put every French-hater on the globe into a state of Francophilia shock. Not only did "Eros" come with a boffo pic sleeve (complete with the band looking down at you in a PSYCHOTIC REACTION mode...good sign) but the back features more than what I would've expected outta the standard big-label single sleeve of the day not only with liner notes (en Francais) but birthdays (and it's kinda startling to find out that most of the members have already or are about to hit the sexageneraian cycle) and fave raves of all the bandmembers. Those of you expecting to glom some Stooges refs (like me) will be disappointed, but it is interesting to see just exactly which groups and musicians were the tops in Rotomagus' reason-for-being...Pierre Peresse lists Pete Townsend as his fave while brother Sylvain likes the Beatles and Tim Bogart...harmonica/trumpet player Alain Fontaine digs Joe Cocker and Ray Charles while vibraphonist/percussionist Alain Villedieu also swings with the Beatles but likes his with some Vanilla Fudge. Drummer Jacky Billaux goes for Ginger Baker and Mitch Mitchell, and flautist/trumpeter Bruno Fontaine (Alain's brother?) tends to like the Hollies and Association which would figure in with the sounds heard on the debut (which I'm not even sure Bruno plays on!) but whatever, with a combination like that (both talent and influence-wise) paired with a dose of the alledged Stooges influx you can expect a totally whacked out single to be on-hand, which 'tis.
"A"-side "Eros" is a wild trip in itself which only proves that CBS missed a big opportunity to turn this band into France's answer to Blue Oyster Cult. Think about it...both groups had the same sense of metallic awe coupled with the psychedelic sounds they were obviously raised on mixed up with a substance that could only be described as residue from the previous few years' MC5/Stooges revolutionary snare. "Eros" has everything that should have not only made the group big in France but maybe even the WORLD (thus proving that the French could play rock & roll, sometimes even better'n their Amerigan beraters!) complete with a strange mix of metal, prog and punk moves which actually meshes well from the overt classical influences to the mania pseudo-operatic lead vocals and the (once again) Association-inspired harmonies. And with a heady mix as that you'd think that the single would fall flat on its face, but in many ways I can see just how and why Mike Snider described this as a cross between Hawkwind and Les Rallizes Denudes for it does have that manic proto-punk scrunch-edge to it. Flip "Madame Wanda" is no slouch either as it slowly envelops you with that mystical gypsy feeling.
Dunno how Rotomagus coulda gotten dumped by CBS after this aesthetic treat (poor sales are most likely why) but anyway they ended up on "les petit" Butterfly label for "Fightin' Cock" coupled with "The Sky Turns Red" which not only ended up as their final vinyl outing but turned out to be this group's ultimate, most Stooge-infested side topping even "Eros" for high energy jamz. Having dropped the horns of their CBS days, the Peresses and whomever was left in the band play a hard, stripped down metallic rock on "Cock," a single that was bound not only to raise the ire of many a feminist nationwide but become one of the first aural spottings of an identifiable Stooge-sound to be found in France for a good four or so years. Actually, "Cock" might also arouse memories of everything from "Hot For Teacher" (both the Thundertrain original and Van Halen's cheap imitation) to a variety of hard-punk outings a la the Users' "Sick of You," but whatever you may think this is hot metallic punk that would have fallen smack-dab into place in the late-seventies but's coming to you closer to the organism of it all as the song begins in classic "I Got a Right" fashion right before Peresse begins howling in typical chopped-up English while the band does its darndest to keep up. Other side ain't that hot (which is undoubtedly why it was left off TETES LOURDES) though I kinda like it (mellotron and all!) for a change of pace once every ten or so years even if it ain't your standard hard rock lungefest.
After Rotomagus' eventual split ex-members scattered off in all sortsa strange directions, with the majority (or at least the Peresses) ending up as Phoenix who recorded a not-that-much sought after exploitation heavy metal album complete with some Led Zep covers, though I have been told that others had ended up in a group called "Punch" who actually released a single on EMI/Pathe that sure looks swell at least from the cover drawing showing six longhairs as part of a multi-headed iguana. Unfortunately another heavy metal fest is not in store, as this non-click hit is more or less pop for the femme in all of you readers even those the (once again) Association-styled harmonies make this a marginal keeper. Gee, I didn't even know that the Association were big in France...must've been given the proliferation (?) of these harmonic pop singles coming outta the land of wine and cheese! But no matter what, serious BLOG TO COMM followers would do themselves a favor to seek out the "Eros" and "Fightin' Cock" singles, hold off on the debut only if more is needed, and use caution when buying discs featuring ex-members that might sound like cringe-y pop-slop yet have a certain charm in their own undeniable fashion.
"Chanteurs A vois? Pouah! Oui, mais cinq chanteurs a voix! Ah! Peui-etre Des adaptations? Oh non! Des chansons francais alors? Mas oui! Et un son international! Ah Ah!Bon ecoutons les...comment deja?"
Posted by Christopher Stigliano at 9:43 AM