Sandy Bull-E PLURIBUS UNUM CD (Vanguard)
A quickie month-closer guaranteed to knock out those of you still staggering from my previous post. And as you staggering postettes already know, my wang-dang-doodlin' over the likes of Sandy Bull these past few months has become one of the stranger of my obsessive/compulsive music listening excursions what with the reviews of FANTASIAS FOR GUITAR AND BANJO, INVENTIONS and STILL ST. VALENTINE'S DAY that have been peppering up this blog ever since the waning days of the previous year turning this rabid rock & roll FAN into a one-man cheerleading squad for this long-gone string-fiend! And NO WONDER, for the introduction of Bull into my listening parameters has certainly shocked this man to no end, almost to the point of replacing the likes of John Fahey and Robbie Basho as far as what "folk" music can be in one's life w/o the staid sanctimoniousness behind it coupled with a staggering PRETENSION that almost equals the alternative rock scene of the eighties and nineties...let's face it, Sandy Bull was a man who at his best transcended a whole lotta hooey to make a music that could stand on its own (and "in" its own genre so to speak) and affect you the same way a blaring heavy metal band can, or a punk group that has its tension in the right place or even some mad outta-the-sphere Amon Duul I of a trouncing brain-defrying experience!
'68's E PLURIBUS UNUM continues on the fine path set forth by Bull's previous two excursions, this time with the man handling everything including the percussion on "No Deposit-No Return Blues" (particularly clanky string-thing pounce) and returning to the "World Music" theme on yet another "blend" where he sorta mooshes everything from Indian raga to medevial motifs 'n it all comes out smoother'n Dave Lang's KY'd anus. Initially I felt this inferior to Bull's '65 longplayer INVENTIONS which I thought jumped onto a lotta hot bandwagons a few years before the wagon was even BUILT, but E PLURIBUS UNUM is one to grow on ya like moles on a nose, and as far as introspective late-night listening goes keep me up to three inna morn with this spinnin' and a complete run of DENIM DELINQUENT and if I don't snap back at you inna morn something must be wrong!
Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Sunday, July 29, 2007
ANOTHER EDITION OF FANZINE FANABLA!!!
It's not like I've been avoiding any of the good aural sounds that have been passing my doorstep (or lay rotting in the basement) these past few days but between you, me and the bedsprings I gotta admit that I really haven't had the time to digest a lotta the newer musical endeavors that have been passing through my life like a sideways turd through my ever-bleeding rectum. (Now that's one that won me a "Creative Writing Award" in the fifth grade, along with a nice trip to the principal's office!) Two major items did show up here at the homestead o'er the past couple, one being the thirtieth-anniversary edition of the George Brigman single "Blowin' Smoke" which is mainly the original single wrapped in a new pic sleeve commemorating the momentous occasion. (Hint: not too many sold.) The other new recording to make the trek to my pad was a Cee-Dee edition of Sandy Bull's E PLURIBUS UNUM which I feared lost in the mail but has since been found...I haven't had the opportunity to hear the former but played the latter a few times and wanna let it sink in a bit, a luxury I would dare not afford to the reams of alternative wankoff sounds that permeated my promo-listening days throughout the nineties but hey, when I buy a record (or disque) I'll sure give it a lot more care 'n attention to one that was just flung my way! Anyway those recordings will have to wait for another day and another time, for today I'd like to just talk about a whole buncha GOLDEN AGE fanzines (read: not the paper-thin 'zineage of the eighties and nineties) that I have acquired just this past week, and given how a whole batch of these obscure goodies hit me in the course of one day it's amazing how I could take all of this great, historically relevant information within a couple of sittings, and keep my head from exploding taking in all of the knowledge extant, that is.
As I've said before, it was the seventies breed of fanzine as well as the more gonzoid rock critiquing aspects of that time and space that helped me develop into the rockism-spewing monster that I am today! Which is why thirtysome years after the fact these oldie mouldy fanzine seem to have even MORE meaning than ever before. Yes, in an age of pathetic pacifist post-hippie wimpdom that was pretty much force-fed into a lotta skulls belonging to kids like myself who certainly knew better (sorry for this redundant whining w/regards to an early-seventies upbringing at the hands of wimpass teachers and other assorted elders who made the peace sign w/one hand and wielded a politically-correct stick w/the other, but growing up during those horrid times certainly did ruin this Saturday Afternoon Barbershop Kid to no end and I have the scars to prove it!), it's great knowing that there were some "outs" for normil types like myself to escape from the horrid grind of everyday peacenlove. Heck, if it weren't for the likes of T. Rex, the Raspberries and other classic early-seventies AM wonders I happened to latch onto who knows how I might have ended up anyways! Anyhoo, at least there were the likes of fanzines such as these and rock writers like Wayne McGuire and Richard Meltzer who fought against all of that drivel that permeated the early-seventies...now if I only knew about them back then I wouldn't've had to endure the shame and guilt of being different in a society that urged individuality with a strange sense of SAMENESS to it! But anyway, it's stuff like these fanzines that made me what I am today, and if you wanna blame anyone for my anti-social behavior go blame them!
Here are a buncha the mags that I might or might not hold deat to my bosom, but given that each and every one of 'em was birthed during that same sainted Golden Age that I continue to rattle about it's not like I'm gonna give 'em the bum's rush like I would with say...SUPERDOPE (a "'zine" whose title reviews itself, or at least its editor!).
As I said, if it weren't for the likes of Marc Bolan and T. Rex I probably would have ended up a totally different chap than I am today. And how right I am, even though Bolan's career here in the United States of Amnesia tanxed out rather early in the game whereas overseas he was a rock star nonpariel bigger if not as big as the Beatles, or whatever was left of 'em at the time. Chocolate candy aside, at least Bolan had enough of an underground following here to warrant a whole load of rock press and snide asides courtesy Lester Bangs so's skimming through the rock mags at the racks for the little bitta Bolan info to be had wasn't exactly a futile affair! But at least he had his stateside fans, Natalie McDonald being just one of 'em, and she really did her idol up well with her very own ELECTRIC WARRIOR fanzine. ELECTRIC WARRIOR was a rag that has the distinct honor of being inspired by none other'n Lillian Roxon a short time before her exit from the Rock Critic Carbon Cycle Hall of Fame, and although I already had the first two issues of these...nice li'l fannish produce not that different from a lotta the other early-seventies fanzine endeavors (of all interest-strata) that seemed to be printed on the same colored construction paper that they used to decorate bulletin boards with in school... these later issues from '74 or so are pretty professional affairs. Not that they're prozines or anything, but they sure do look nice in light of a lotta the slicksterisms that have permeated the self-publishing world since at least the early-eighties'r so!
Great rare snaps (inc. an outtake from the Roni Hoffman session that appeared on a cover of TEENAGE WASTELAND GAZETTE), lots of hot-off-the-press Marc news, adulatory Marc poems and a great non-ginchy outlook just oozes outta every pore these issues exude (a relief after all the nauseating fanblab one still reads regarding the Beatles where their heroes can do no wrong write no bad song record no duff track and generally think no bad thoughts!), and what's BEST about these ELECTRIC WARRIORs is that the fanzine mafia of the day is more or less firmly in gear here. Heck, even Carl Biancucci who would make a moniker for himself in Boston's Classic Ruins during the punk-active late-seventies contributes one of his nostalgically-derived comics dealing with T. Rex fandom which really tells the tale...y'see, some guy asks another who his famous groups are, and after said pal rattles off Yes, Johnny Winter, the Who and T. Rex he gets chortled for mentioning what else but the very last one...thus getting turned into a rabbit for his gross sense of miscalculation! Kinda funny to see the guy get away with liking Yes (esp. given Biancucci's punk fanzine credentials of the time!) but lemme tell you those were kinda strange days themselves and who am I to judge? (Ha!)
Also arriving on the BLOG TO COMM scene was issue #9 of STORMY WEATHER, yet another fifties-oriented rockabilly mag to have popped out of the early-seventies fansphere. I've known about this 'un for ages as well thanks to mentions in Greg Shaw's old fanzine col in BOMP! as well as via the Norton catalog (where back issues had been on sale for years!), but it wasn't until now that I decided to actually pick up an ish of this once-popular pub to find out what all the fuss was about myself. And now that I have a copy in my hands let me 'fess up to you and say that STORMY WEATHER wasn't exactly the kind of a fifties-oriented fanmag that I had in mind while obtaining the thing...oh sure, it's nice enough and I know darn well that every fanzine within the "oldies" circuit ain't gonna be wild and drooling like Ron Weiser's ROLLIN' ROCK, but this 'un's too...staid??? Of course there are those wild moments like Weiser's own hoppin' article plus Gene Sculatti gets to put in his own two cents worth with an article on "Wop Rock" entitled "No Pepperoni Please," but between a piece on cleaning records with soap and water or alcohol (but not the twain since they don't mix!) and one on San Francisco up-and-comers Earthquake (!-how did they rate a mention in a rockabilly mag, and what's even stranger is the mention regarding how they were going to have a single out in England on The Famous Charisma Label?!?!?!!), there seems to be too much seventies creeping into the grand fifties mood of the thing. Or at least the mood I was hoping for which would've reflected besides the hot rock & roll hot tee-vee, hot cars, hot food... The drawings of the longhair, bearded editor don't help much none either! Awwww, it's OK for the facts and for Sculatti, but believe-you-moi, this ain't no KICKS.
I first latched onto an issue of COWABUNGA about twennysome years back and was impressed with the overall quality that a person such as I could only have dreamed about during my own fanzine-frolicking days. This was their bicentennial issue (that's from 1976 for those of you in San Francisco who might happen to be reading this!), and with the colored-paper cover, the professional wraparound binding and the excellent printjob housing what was a typically-typed fifties/sixties/seventies fanzine layout I was in hog heaven absorbing all of the great bargain-bin info (along with the great contributions from the likes of the ol' fanzine mafia a la Eddie Flowers) along with the reviews of a whole slew of current pubs and even a repro of the cover of the ne'er to be FLASH #3 (the surf issue) which was accompanied by a letter from Metal Mike Saunders tellin' us of his falling out with the one called Mark Shipper (and hey Mark, whaddeva happened to you???). It was a pretty exhilirating ish, though the later ones done during the punk rock days with the likes of Eddie and the Hot Rods and MC5 onna covers were just as snat as well even though they mag had reverted by to a xerox format and a lotta the British punk news reported was old hat by the time it reached COWABUNGA's typesetter. After eyeballing these later issues even a dense soul as I knew that the mag, for all the good intentions it had, was gonna get buried under the weight of a lotta the competition that was springing up across the land faster than age spots settlin' 'round my eyelids, and you know what, I believe I was right.
For some reason the earlier COWABUNGAs have been going for megabucks these days onna collectors circuit which is why I feel lucky bucks to have latched onto these three ishes. Published before and after that well-executed Bicentennial issue mentioned above (the one with George Washington playing electric guitar on the cover!), these COWABUNGAs were more or less in the classic fanzine format with little if any illustrations and a type-pecked print that looked as if it were knocked off at the library between six-and-nine PM while fighting off a rabid 15-year-old who has to crank out a term paper on carnivorous insects for tomorrow morn. And yeah, you could say that the same material and information extant was being better presented by the likes of BOMP! around the same nanosecond plus COWABUNGA sorta loses it on the humor angle which TEENAGE WASTELAND GAZETTE and CRETINOUS CONTENTIONS had all wrapped up anyways (their "How to Form a Punk Rock Band" article could've used even more honing than this very blog!), but no matter how you slice the thing COWABUNGA is still a noteworthy source for jerks such as myself getting hold of some hot GA of fanzine info all these years down the line when frankly the only person on the face of the earth who is interested in documenting and enjoying rock & roll both in the print form and aurally happens to be me!
Lotsa fun punk ramblings brought to you by one of the fellows who made GOLDMINE such a big success in the early-eighties before it got sold to Krause Publications and slowly lost my interest. And I hope you don't think I'm repeating myself once again when I say these issues certainly are a boon, at least for me who not only wants to know more about already-well known reads like BACK DOOR MAN and what people were writing about 'em at the time, but want information on the obscurities that nobody seems to remember and thankfully a few mentions do pop up. Oddly enough, the same Carl Biancucci I told you about above had his own fanzine going at the time as well which was entitled SWLABR, and with a name like that you kinda wonder why it didn't catch on! All kiddin' aside, these COWABUNGAs are a great place not only to get hold of vital classic fanzine info which I'm undoubtedly interested in for my own anal-retentive purposes, but to cop then-contemporary reviews of everything from bootlegs to the self-produced singles pf the day plus get the lowdown on what's going on straight from the fanzinemakers themselves. (One interesting point is made in Phast Phreddie's letter in #10.5 [the one where a Jesus Christ-looking Sky Saxon hits on some punk for spare change and is turned down on account of the SPOONFUL OF SEEDY BLUES album!] where he attacks the punk scene in general for creating too many "snobs" amongst 'em and said he would continue to champion the likes of Kiss and Aerosmith even though it wasn't "cool" with some of the comrades floating about! But all I gotta say is "what else is new" other'n all the snobs have abandoned the wild and wooly world of rock & roll and have joined the blogosphere, unfortunately to stay!!!)
Finally for today is this obscurity, the third issue of SPOONFUL which was edited by a guy named Fred Whitlock out of Teaticket Massachussetts, a place I assume is somewhere near Boston given the presence of one Dennis Metrano in its pages, he being the same one who wrote about Boston music a lot in his own SUNSHINE fanzine and at the same time as well. A shoulda-been-legendary read to say the least, SPOONFUL was one of those funky as they used to say outta-the-scope mags that worked on a shoestring budget (and with Whitlock's mother as the typist how shoestring can you get?) with nil illustrations 'cept for the cover "drawing" and a general crudzine depreciation that I gotta say turned me off back in the eighties, especially when the cruds in question were spewing off about needless underground cyborg alternative bands. But like some of these under-the-counterculture efforts there seems to be loads of fine musings to keep one (at least me) entertained, and SPOONFUL is brimming with such wonders not only with lotsa Stones ramblings and an Eric Andersen article you or I could care less about true, but Alan Betrock's tale about the mysterious shopper in his record store who rattled off yarns about being in the Cheynes while Downliners Sect records spin was particulary a-wow-zing as were the bits and pieces on Surf Music, the Pink Fairies and even the Remains and Barbarians who I guess were deemed important enough to warrant brief mention! It's also funny to see how a guy like Whitlock, who goes for the Fairies and sixties garage bands, could also be a fan of the likes of Yes, Genesis and Flash (!-especially with all those Standells, Raiders and Dr. West lyrics getting printed all over the place as space filler!!!!), but given how Biancucci could give Yes a pass as I said earler nothing seems to surprise me anymore! Nice matter-of-fact writings here with the usual inaccuracies and downright errors tossed in true, but then again if it didn't have them mistakes and general rock & roll attitude how could it be a fanzine??? (Please don't answer that...I was merely being facetious which I guess seems to be in such short order these days!)
Posted by Christopher Stigliano at 10:36 AM
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
MORE SINGLES GOING STROONAD!
And not just plain ol' singles, but seven-inchers in general of both an old and new to mine ears variety!
The Television Personalities-"Bike","No One's Little Girl"/"Seasons in the Sun" picture-disc (Twist Records)
Back during the 70s/80s cusp I was just as big on Rough Trade Records as the next pretensioso, if not even moreso. However, my drooling devotion to not only the label but the post-hippie/punk idea behind it began to wane around the same time their product began limping into a shallow, even-more-socialist (if you can believe that, and I'll forgive you if you don't) version of its former self given all of the notoriety and general hubbub they received thanks to the likes of ROLLING STONE magazine. Yet, no matter how many times I felt jaded by what seemed so on-target in 1979 yet tres-shuck in '84 I must admit that I still retained more'n a little soft spot in my heart for the Television Personalities. Back when getting hold of Creation and John's Children records was mighty hard indeed, the TV Personalities (and their sister band the Times) made for a more'n adequate substitution mixing all of that BOMP!-inspired poppage in with the likes of the Velvet Underground as well as that whole late-seventies upheaval in music that was capturing the attention of a few misguided souls out there. Naturally it took a few duff recordings to shake me back to reality, but for a short time it was stuff like these Personalities that made for a fine bridge between 1967 smart pop moves and 1980 art-punk aktion.
On this decade-old wonder I reviewed back in one of those long-forgotten back issues of some rag or another, the Personalities prove that twenty years in the business doesn't mean one has to go from addle-minded primitiveness to even more addle-minded professionalism like the Who and so many other once-bright lights did. Here leader Dan Treacy and whomever stuck around reach far back to the root-of-it-all twisting around Pink Floyd's "Bike" and onetime labelmates the Raincoats' ode to crybaby feminist pamperism "No One's Little Girl" while making a trainwreck outta Terry Jacks' infamous "Seasons in the Sun" onna flip. The whole thing sounds just as psychotically strained as you'd like it, just like it was 1979 all over again and yer drooling all over those import singles inna record shop thinking about whether yer gonna spend that $6.98 on an album or some NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS back issues. And, in keeping with late-seventies import-single chic, this 'un comes in a picture-disc format featuring Treacy's mug onna front and a swirling psychedelic design a-la those old Vertigo labels on the back you can hypnotize yourself with while the record is spinning! Like Dave Lang's underwear, it's nice to know that some things do not change!
***The Human Switchboard-"Prime of My Life"/"In My Room" (Square)
While we're talking about late-seventies glories being re-lived in a late-oh-ohs world, it would be futile not to talk about the Northeast Ohio underground scene that was getting oh-such-wondrous acclaim all over the realm while at the same time the members of the entire variety of groups who were playing the area couldn't get arrested if they were caught strangling Anastasia Pantsios with one of her leotards personally given to her by the Balzer Brothers. It sure was a sad case, with fantastic acts from across the tri-county area playing music that, like the best of anything, took the previous ten or so years of accomplishment and rechanneled it into even greater glory. Yes, there were plenty of bands back then that were making the grand case for the Cleveland/Akron/Kent area really becoming a "New Liverpool" (as far as bands as well as industrial hotspots go---yeah, I know all about that misinterpreted Mark Mothersbaugh comment too!), and it's really a shame that there was no NEW YORK ROCKER-styled publication (CLE coming the closest, granted!) to document this scene and give all these upstarts the needed push or perhaps we'd be talking about Ex-Blank-Ex and the Lepers the same way people talk about Blondie and the Ramones in hushed, hallowed tones these days!
Anyway, I do recall loads of praise being heaped upon the Human Switchboard once 1981 rolled around and the concept of locally-produced underground rock suddenly hit the higher-ups...naturally by that time the "new" concept of a roaring underground rock scene had been about six years old, but I guess we can forgive these slow-learners for once. The Switchboard, who began life as a rather nice/perhaps even quirky post-psychedelic garage band, had suddenly arrived in that same BIG TIME that shamefully avoided all of those other "new wave" offerings of the day with appearances on WMMS-FM's "Coffeebreak Concert" radio show as well as the afternoon local talk-show program on one of the bigger VHF stations (no GHOUL for these guys 'n gal!), and did I ever tell you about the time I thought I spotted a jean-bedecked Myrna Macarian shopping with a rather dainty mother/daughter team at a Cle-area shopping mall and decided to do a little light-hearted stalking myself??? Of course in a few years it was like nothing happened, but for a brief spell the Human Switchboard were the Northeast Ohio's token original music band for all the squares to drool over in order to assuage their guilt over ignoring the rest of the scene for the past ten years!
Anyhow, here's a not-so-rarity of a 45 that still gets occasional play here at the padded cell, the band's second single from '79 featuring help from none other than the infamous 15-60-75 (the Numbers Band) horn/percussion section! And yeah, "Prime of My Life" sure sounds like some great Numbers outtake even though guitarist/vocalist Robert Pfeifer ain't exactly another Robert Kidney in terms of vocal depth or an ability to weave what Peter Laughner once called "Voodoo Music" out of his collegiate mind. But it still sounds boffo as the horns careen all over the place and Macarian's organ lets off some mighty John Cale screeches to boot! Flipster "In My Room" does have sparks of that voodoo charm Laughner spoke of, yet it still has a college town ooze which keeps it from achieving heavy-spin duty here. Whaddeva, these sides are perhaps the group's best moments and a surprise if you remember them as being an eighties new wave trophy band or something to that effect.
***Tin Huey-BREAKFAST WITH THE HUEYS single ("Robert Takes the Road to Lieber Nawash"/"Squirm You Worm") (Clone)
Whereas the Human Switchboard epitomised the college atmosphere of Kent, Tin Huey were the industrial belch of Akron, maybe even more'n Devo. And, like the Switchboard, whereas Huey began life as an eclectic sort of underground band owing as much to the Velvet Underground and Stooges as Miles Davis and Robert Wyatt, by the eighties they had also fallen into the new wave pit of doom having forsaken their original integrity for something that was a little more ginchy as their subsequent releases will bear out. Still, Tin Huey had plenty of their original smart-garage mindset firmly in place when they recorded this just-pre-Warner Brothers single back in the heavy-duty year of '78, still churning out the Canterbury stuff alongsides a more punk-oriented midwestern spew in an avant punk cum cold wave style that epitomized recordings by everyone from MX-80 Sound to Pere Ubu but like with most of these eclectic aggros it worked. It took a few years before the more irritating aspects of this "new music" as they put it would come home to roost, and frankly I think maybe it would've been for the better if all that attention wasn't drawn to the Akron area which only influenced the bands there to become more show-worthy, something that unfortunately changed the entire movement from one of verve and drive to something I think would have been better left in the toilet. But as they say, in one thousand years it's all gonna run together!
***Andrew Klimek-AFTERBATHINGINTURPENTINE EP ("Felt Hammer"/"Anna Told"/"Drapery Hooks of my Love") (Mustard)
Closing out our late-seventies NE Ohio soiree's a neat slab that I recall reading all about (via the COVENTRY SHOPPING NEWS) at the REAL WORLD THEATER/Phantasy Nightclub back in July of '79 while awaiting Bernie and the Invisibles' trek to the club's tiny stage. And really, that article was a porverbial brain-buster for back then Klimek's future-and-ex-wife Charlotte Pressler made both Klimek and this upcoming EP out to be one of the more exciting efforts to come out of the Cle area in quite some time. Not only by detailing Klimek's varied history in the underground (having jammed with brother Jamie's Mirrors in 1973 [age twelve] playing echoplex and stylophone before forming Tender Buttons and joining Ex-Blank-Ex/Johnny and the Dicks!) but with his entire home-spun musical vocabulary which once again took the Velvet Underground into even more uncharted realms that seemed oh-so-apocalyptic back in those brave new days. And yeah, even all that got dumped into the eternal commode of useless ideas we put so much stock in at one time once the eternal magic of the Velvets filtered down into the barren-brainfold of the likes of Michael Stipe, but back in 1978 the promulgation of post-Velvets rock was a mighty noble endeavor indeed and for that Klimek should be eternally saluted!
Playing with an all-star band (former Ex-Blank-Ex bassist Jim Ellis of CLE fame, ex-Mirrors/Ex-Blank-Ex Michael Weldon on drums and Weldon's brother Christopher on glass and electric saw), Klimek sure puts out one mighty fine slice of just what Cleveland meant for more'n a few hungry rockists back in those best/worst of time days. And that's not only with a sound and vision that's firmly rooted in that city's Velvet Underground appreciation, but with the same wild approach to the rock subject-at-hand that has the same quirkiness and feeling which typified a whole lotta other smart projects that came outta the area at the time. Everything from Brian Sands' REHEATED CHOCOLATE TANGOES to the early Pere Ubu sound was somehow channeled into this recording which takes the standard Velvets drone (thanks to Chris Weldon's saw?) and reshapes it into something a whole lot more twisted, sort of like Brian Eno doing HERE COME THE WARM JETS after attending an abnormal psych seminar. Things do come to a head on "Drapery Hooks of my Love" where the admitted Beefheart influence spreads out into even more frightening vistas, especially when the music is suddenly being played backwards. I remember hearing this at the Drome back in '80 asking in jest how the guy playing it for me (some hippie who was biz partners with Johnny Dromette) got his turntable to spin backwards. I don't think the joke hit him in quite the right way, but it was rather invigorating.
***Startoon-Who's Been Naughty"/"Birthday Heaven" (Anamaze)
I thought this long-forgotten New York City underground group's first single from '76 entitled "Rocking in the Bowery" (both sides the same!) was nice enough in sort of a punky Young Rascals way, but this 'un from two years later shows that the band has improved to the point where they now sounded more like a punky Sparks! It's good enough hard power-pop that wasn't exactly what people were thinking when they thought about "New York Rock" but it suits its purpose fine enough. Just what that purpose was remains to be seen, but whatever it's another one of those lost rarities that never did seem to find their way outside of the city limits.
***The Birds-LET'S DO THE VELVETS! single ("Femme Fatale"/"Here She Comes Now") (Important, available through Volcanic Tongue)
Believe-ya-me, a clear-vinyl tribute to the Velvet Underground sung by a Japanese missy woulda had me doing tumbles of joy-infested nirvana had I come across a copy twennysome years back, but nowadays the idea really couldn't get me all hot 'n bothered after years of lackluster Velvets rehash even if a woman of Far Eastern heritage is doing the vocalizing. And frankly this single done by former Acid Mothers Temple member Cotton Casino along with some Scandie named Per Gista Galaen (say that three times fast!) really doesn't capture any of that early Velvets aura which made not only theirs, but their immediate benefactors' recordings so fine but I've come to expect that. However, I should say that I admired the way Casino mimicked Nico's voice in utter homage even if lines like "She's going to blake your heart in two" do give her away. Nothing special here, though it does beat similar Velvets stabs along the lines of X-tal's manyfold.
***The Beatles Costello-WASHING THE DEFECTIVES EP ("Soldier of Love", "I Feel Fine"/"Theme From a Summer Place", "Outer Limits") (Pious)
Here's a late-seventies self-produced oddity so bizarre yet so stuck in mid-sixties basement rock mentalities that I coulda sworn that Moxie Records had something to do with it. But fear not, for Dave Gibson had no hand in this one and for all intent purposes the pressing is fine enough sans any spek of dirt or grime personally rubbed into the grooves courtesy the late Mr. Moxie himself! Actually this one was masterminded by none other than the equally-late Joe Pope, the guy who ran the Beatles-oriented STRAWBERRY FIELDS FOREVER fanzine dynasty way back in the seventies, and in an attempt to cash in on the new wave homemade record bonanza (with the help of former Sidewinders Andy Paley and Eric "Slowhand" Rosenfeld along with some newcomers to the Boston scene) the man of international reknown released this extended play which asks the musical question...why? All kidding aside, this is a fun to get into li'l record featuring really-sub garage band instrumental takes on "I Feel Fine," "Theme From a Summer Place" and "Outer (actually, "Out Of") Limits" along with a vocal "Soldier of Love" and it all has that great knotty pine suburban feeling to it that is probably why I was thinking Moxie all along! If you're the kinda guy who used to love combing through your latest BOMP! and Metro Music catalogues back in the very early-eighties, this is the one for you!
***Comateens-"Danger Zone"/"Cool Chick" (Teenmaster)
I should admit to you that there was a time when I was about as interested in the Comateens' various eighties releases as I was in a lotta the other new wave gone bad material coming outta En Why See back in the mid-eighties. After all, with a whole slew of once-engaging rock denizens of the Rotten Apple having taken some of the worst turns imaginable with regards to the creation of exciting music (witness the likes of Ian North, a guy who seemed like such a teenage punk in 1976 yet went for the New Romantic style once 1981 clocked in!) I figured why should I get burned once again especially when all of my hard-earned could be put to better use buying up old PEBBLES albums! However, after giving a listen to the aptly-titled Velveteen EP with former New York stars Lisa Burns and Sal Maida (joined by North on syn-drums!) doing the early-eighties bump-and-grind and liking it all the while as well as playing disc two of that CBGB LIVE OFF THE BOARD sampler almost nightly enjoying the electronic pop of Rods and Cones not forgetting Chemical Wedding, maybe it is time to give these Comateen kids another chance even though to me they all look like dago hoodlums, even the gal!
This early release, done while the group was frequenting the stage of Max's Kansas City opening for Von Lmo amongst other 1979 bright lights, shows the 'teens not quite into the electronic eighties sound but you can hear the roots of it all amidst the pop moves and quick flash. At least the music is still firmly rooted in tough En Why See style and grace with perhaps a touch of the new electronic ghost permeating here and there but it's not like FASHION had yet to rear its ugly rear turning the Comateens into yet another big label tax writeoff. It's positively a winner and def. a keeper; yet another one of those records that never did seem to make their way into the latest Disques Du Monde catalog and for that more than a few of us are the worse off for it.
***The Fans-"Telstar", "Lonely Girls"/"Ekstasis" (Blue Beam)
I'm sure some of you creaky oldtimers remember when this one came out and was readily available via your faverave import service. T'was in early-'77, and I guess this disc did have some impact with the music-buying public out there because the electro-version of "Telstar" which commences Eee-Pee eventually ended up as the bumper music for the weather reports on WBBW-AM in Youngstown Ohio! And really, given what a dump of a city Youngstown was when it came to rock & roll acknowledgement (whether it be via radio or bands), something like the Fans getting daily airplay was nothing short of an accomplishment whether it be as filler music or not!This disc certainly was an eye-opener esp. considering how the early-Roxy Music-derived sounds that appear on this came outta none other'n Atlanta Georgia. John Cale discovered them down there and told Hilly Kristal, and soon the Fans were playing around the burgh opening for everyone from Talking Heads to Orchestra Luna but that's no reason to buy this record (or maybe not to buy it!)...the sound is def. English Art/Fop-derived, nothing like the Southern Rock native to the Fans' headquarters that was all the rage, and although later recordings reflected a more new wave approach at least this 'un shows exactly what Young Ameriga could do in the garage at least before the taint. Vocals are kinda flittery but they actually do fit in with the powerful playing (thanks to guitarist Kevin Dunn, a stateside Manzanara if there ever was one!) and all I gotta say is that if you've heard all of those Roxy sides and want more, this is definitely the one to seek out! I have a tape of 'em doing "Sister Ray" recorded live around the same time this EP came out located somewhere in my cassette collection...it might be worth the ten or so years for me to seek it out and preseve it on disque for all time! (And also worth seeking out is Dunn's '79 electronic rip of Chuck Berry's "Nadine" done right before that infamous plop into the new wave cesspool of the early-eighties!)
***Saddlesore-"Old Tom Clark"/"Pig Ankle Strut" (Drag City)
Here's that late-nineties Drag City reissue of the impossibly-rare Texas Revolution label single by the group Saddlesore with Mayo Thompson somewhere in the ranks...y'know, that single that actually got advertised in ROLLING STONE??? I dunno how many brain-numbed hippoids Texas Revolution suckered into buying this platter but I'm sure the ones that did muster their way outta whatever drug haze they be imbued in would have been satisfied with the then-in-vogue Old West imagery resplendent on the a-side. B-side seems too askew and almost in the same vein as Thompson's CORKY'S DEBT TO HIS CIGAR (sic) elpee of the same stratum but since I thought even that was more or less a harbinger of late-eighties underground miasma I think I'll have someone the caliber of Tim Ellison comment on that. Interesting enough double-sided weirdie that I'm sure still has a lotta meaning for someone somewhere out there.
***Meercaz-"Lovesick"/"Unlust" (Point Wrex)
Unlike the above-mentioned flotsam this 'un's a recent recording endeavor from a year or two back that only goes to show you that making noisy records in your garage is not a lost art form. This Meercaz guy (the bloke featured on the front cover who looks remarkably like Shuggie Otis during his early recording days) lays down a pretty dense wall of metallic thunder on the a-side sounding more like what a good portion of the heavy metal idiom did sometime before that all flopped over into the progressive rock category around the time Black Sabbath got Rick Wakeman to guest on SABBATH BLOODY SABBATH. Still punk enough that you'll love it though...while on the flip 'caz and gang do a more punky riff-up that'll probably remind you of one of your fave early-eighties moments (Spike Kagan?) done back when we were all consoling ourselves to the fact that maybe the hard-edge did die out around the same time the B-52s became the standard-bearers for the new sounds. A worthwhile grabber w/o an address to clue you into...maybe the guy who sent me a copy of this'll write in???
***And now, because you didn't ask...a TEN-INCH EP REVIEWS!!!
Bon Vivants-SOUL ACTION (Old Gold, available through Slippytown)
Just found my copy of this juicy recently-released platter while looking for Hawkwind's WARRIOR ON THE EDGE OF TIME which as of this writing remains lost! But at least I have this oft-spoken about ten-incher which, although a 45 rpm player, could qualify as an album given how it packs four full-length tracks on it per side just like all of those other great ten-inch wonders that began re-cluttering up the place in the new wave early-eighties! Anyway these Bon Vivants hail from Atlanta Georgia but please don't let Softy-Southern visions of perky little Michael Stipes clutter up your subconscious...these guys are total rockism fanatics and if they do owe anything to the Confederacy it's the mid-South ravings of the likes of Big Star and the Sneakers 'stead of the prissy boys from the Vivants' neck o' the woods.
In fact, this thing that SOUL ACTION reminds me most of is that debut Sneakers EP from '76 which got more'n a few punks all excited not only with the post-Ramones pose on the sleeve but the use of pop and smart production moves that sorta hinted at...well, I dunno but Eddie Flowers thinks this one merges everything from early Eno to Raspberries to Simply Saucer and Big Star too, and I'm sure if this 'un (and this group) happened to make its way out thirty-two years back they'd be selling like hotcakes thanks to Lester Bangs' mention in CREEM's "Rock-A-Rama" while CBGB and Max's'd be climbing over each other to give 'em precious stage time! It's that good, and the fact that it all exists in the blandoid present day is only testament to the true greatness which is Bon Vivants!
Posted by Christopher Stigliano at 1:47 PM
Sunday, July 22, 2007
BLOG TO COMM MIXED VINYL/CEE-DEE LISTENING PARTY!
Not much on the Cee-Dee front today, but I thought I'd sneak these two disques into the post before diving head first into the 12-inch fun 'n games. Not only because I'd like to be a bit more expedient than I am with regards to being prompt and up-to-date and all those other things that we expect here in the electronic age, but because I sorta promised a blog pal of mind that I would give these the good ol' promotional putsch. Enough blab...The Dino Club is the name of a band that I wish I knew more about (and probably will once I publish this post and spend the rest of the day schmoozing around on da web) but at least I got these two Cee-Dees of their courtesy Scott Duhamel, a name that should ring a bell with many of you seventies rock fandom followers who have more than your fair share of BEYOND OUR CONTROL back issues stashed away in the attic. It turns out that, over thirty years after penning the words for the Gizmos' shoulda-been-infamous ditty "Mean Screen," Duhamel is now the lyricist for this Dino Club group but that doesn't necessarily make him Pete Sinfield next to the Club's King Crimson...naw, the lyrics that Duhamel popped out for these guys are pretty snat, not Meltzeresque'r anything but good enough since they won't make you upchuck, and coupled with the pretty hot just-post power pop playing from these old fogies (a shock, because after looking at myself in the mirror this AM seeing all those age spots and blubs forming around my eyes made me realize that I'm gonna end up looking like a dalmatian more sooner than later!) ya get a pretty interesting pair of platters that ain't total eruption but mighty fine nonetheless especially when compared to a lotta dross getting tossed out out there in indie music land. Probably one of those few spins a decade affairs for me, but mighty pleasing stuff that sure takes the tar outta a lotta musical musings that never did deserve to be transferred to aluminum in the first place. The names of these wares are HEY DRINK UP and BRIGHT SCREEN WIDE, and if you want 'em bad enough just press here and who knows...maybe you'll have the gumption to buy a few copies of each!
Okay, and now onto the vinyl at hand...
***Copernicus-NOTHING EXISTS (Ski)
Been looking for my Major Thinkers (the name of the post-Turner and Kirwan of Wexford groupage with or without the one known as Copernicus) single for a few days now and w/o much success but this'll do in the meantime. As you probably don't remember, I wrote about NOTHING EXISTS on this blog before in a piece on albums that have yet to make their way into the digital format, and although this mere fact continues to hold true (for all the good or bad that may imply) at least I still got this debut longplayer from Copernicus proper which still sends wild rock thrills up and down my spine even though Brad Kohler continues to insist the whole thing was a vanity pressing subsidized by Copernicus' landlord.
I dunno...it is snazzy, sorta sounding like your typical tough early-eighties new wave pre-gnu wave New York City act circa 1980 with a unique use of electronics and altered instrument mystique to it, perhaps like early Roxy Music with some Can tossed in as performed by say, the Comateens. Interesting scenesters appear in the backing band as well...Peter Collins of Teenage Lust shows up as does Jimmy Zhivago, one of those guys whose been around forever yet never did get a chance to leave his carbon footprint on the lower Manhattan sidewalks. And its all joined by the booming ethnic voice of Copernicus, the mid-aged beatnik seen getting his joint lit on the front cover who kinda looks like a 1962 grey flannel suit adman who went hip ten years later. But this ain't no hippie trip as a live track recorded at Max's Kansas City on side two will undoubtedly prove when, after ranting and raving over a particulary Velvets-driven ditty concerning nuclear war, Copernicus bellows "Max's Kansas City does not exist" to scant applause. Well, he was right about that, at least in a few years! Anyway, if you want a copy of NOTHING EXISTS to find out for yourself what the whole late-eighties hubbub was about there are a whole slew of Copernicus items can still be purchased, and with a mere click of a mouse t'boot!
***Lennie Tristano/Buddy DeFranco-CROSSCURRENTS (Capitol)
It's still pretty hazy as to exactly when that good ol' avant garde/free jazz music that many of us love and adore was actually birthed. As I said a few posts back, some (actually, Nick Tosches) trace it to the 1946 recording of Charlie Parker's "Lover Man," but it's a good bet sayin' that the form, at least as it's known to scores of used-bin pickers of the seventies and eighties, first popped up on today's sides in question which were so scabrous (as in "difficult" for the tender ears of the age, not indecent!) that their release was held up for a good many years at which point the likes of Taylor, Giuffre, Coleman and their pals made the world safe for free meter, amongst other things.
The MIRAGE sampler of early avant jazz trackage that came out a few years after this more-definitive collection included pianist Lennie Tristano's comparatively subdued "Yesterdays" as an example of the early jazz avant garde-cum-third stream (a verifiable hoax if there ever was one) movement then gaining some momentum in the postwar bop-cool stratum. Why they didn't bother to slip on the rather adventurous "Intuition" or "Digression" is the sixty-four buck question, as these numbers are more evident of the free-play that the new thing in jazz would be most noted for once the whole freeform ball got rolling a few years later. Sounding like a standard jazz sextet that somehow got lost midstream, these track were so unthinkable and beyond the ken of jazz comprehension that the flustered engineer who threw up arms in a fit of self-righteous fury eventually erased the other two experimental tracks recorded that May '49 day. Better yet, I wonder what the various club gigs where Tristano and band let loose with the structure were like, and perhaps I will find out more sooner'n later. (And a tip of the hat goes to Bill Shute, for merely being influenced by Tristano and his recordings to the point where one of his more recent chapbooks is dedicated to the blind pianist!) And they are that good, good enough for you to seek out the rather inexpensive Tristano collections that are still available a good fifty-five years after the fact!
Even more striking is the Buddy DeFranco Orchestra (a standard postwar bop brigade) doing "A Bird in Igor's Yard" which as I've read somewhere is considered the first bonafide avant garde jazz number laid to wax only to be shelved for a good quarter-century which by that time the likes of Roscoe Mitchell and Sonny Sharrock were around to put everything in its proper perspective. Arranged by the then-upstarting George Russell (who would go onto a brilliant future as a neat cog in the jazz avant garde machinations of it all), the then-unique idea of merging Charlie Parker bop and Igor Stravinsky "neoclassicism" is fleshed out about as far as it could go in '49. Nothing that's outwardly earth-shattering mind you, but a nice harbinger that seemed to permeate the outer-reaches of the jazz idiom at least until the brave arrival of Ornette. By the way, the common-denominator thread connecting the Tristano and DeFranco sides is one Lee Konitz, a name that never did thrill me as much as others in the jazz world, but I do recall Shute's vain attempts to get me to think otherwise!
Interestingly enough, the liners include a brief bit written by Tristano on this groundbreaking session where he credits Miles Davis as being "the only noted musician who acknowledged in print the real nature of the music on those sides." Kinda strange, since I remember Davis being the kinda guy who used to go out of his way to upchuck all over the avant garde in the sixties and even, as I reported a week back, threatened to stomp on Eric Dolphy's shoes if he saw him again! (That being via the infamous DOWN BEAT "Blindfold Test" where more expletives were deleted than on your typical Nixon White House tape!) Not only that, but although he played with white musicians Davis was always going outta his way to say whatta buncha lousy players the all were which kinda makes me wonder why he'd even go NEAR a white person in the first place! Hmmmm, maybe Davis said all this nice stuff about this particular white musician shortly after making that all-important meeting with an important connection, if you know what I mean (nudge nudge)...
***Tulpa-MOSAIC FISH (Midnight Music, England)
Rude Buddha-LION CLAWS (Green Triangle)
A couple I popped outta the collection after (and because of) the CBGB OFF THE BOARD CD reviews last post. The Tulpa album, as I mentioned last time, really does not live up to the live CBGB tracks with a way-too alternative music approach to what should have been a good post-prog underground sound. One big misguided flop filled with uninspired compositions, twee-pretension and a general lackluster approach to the rock & roll music at hand that only makes me want to hear that entire CBGB tape (which must've been a sellout since none of those 1986 "Off the Board" cassettes are available via the CBGB online store, not counting the more popular Ed Gein's Car and Damage ones which have been re-pressed for a new generation of busted eardrums) even more given the smart prog-punk-pop stylings that are clearly evident on the live set. I guess Tulpa just weren't ready to record when they did this album in '85...if they had only waited a year and just released their CBGB set I'm sure more people would remember them in a positive light. Maybe they do, but you wouldn't know it from this particular recording.
Rude Buddha fare better with their more honed take on early-eighties underground rock aimed at a mid-eighties gnu wave clientele. Not really inspiring, but it is unoffensive to my well-derived rockism tastes and thus is a keeper, maybe even a definite re-player!!!
***John Coltrane-THE AFRICA BRASS SESSIONS, VOL. 2 (ABC-Impulse)
Another Cleveland-area college radio throwaway that I scammed in the late-eighties when all the stations were going digital! Sheesh, if Harvey Pekar was as smart as he lets on in all those AMERICAN SPLENDORs he woulda only hadda wait a few years for all those radio libraries to be flushed out rather'n hafta swipe the things like way too many consciousless theives on the hunt for rare jazz sides hadda do o'er the years! Anyhoo here's more brightness from the early-sixties of which no more really needs to be said, so as Joe Cook said in conclusion nothing more needs to be said to which I have to say is that no more needs to be said, so I will say nothing more!
***Chrome-THE VISITATION (Dossier, Germany)
It seems as if nobody wants to talk about this debut Chrome platter for whatever ridiculous reasons they can come up with. (Even the guys in Chrome seemed to wanna forget THE VISITATION ever existed in the first place; witness its exclusion on the CHROME BOX SET of the mid-eighties!) And we're talking about supposedly "intelligent" blogschpieler types not wanting to have anything to do with this forgotten masterpiece as well! Y'know, the same blokes who will wax rhapsodic about every early-eighties Californication item to come across the boards with reckless aplomb yet they seem to pee all over THE VISITATION as if it were yet another "commercial" slice of pablum sputum custom-made for the pimple-crop of boxboys americanus who just lived for Black Sabbath 8-tracks. Which just goes to show you just how off-target some of these musical snobsters can be because once you get down to it, there really ain't anything inherently wrong with pimples, boxboys, Black Sabbath, 8-tracks and especially THE VISITATION, which is a pretty good slab of straight-ahead rock 'n roll on the hard 'n heavy side with just enough electronics to propel the item straight into the late-seventies hall of underground rock fame! 'n if you don't agree then may I just direct you to a choice late-seventies issue of BOMP! and Greg Shaw's own smart assessment of the facts where he gang-reviews this 'un with what-else-but the classic Debris platter (later on to clump both acts in with his infamous "acid punk" movement which sorta started with PEBBLES VOLUME 3 and wound up with Pere Ubu and their sort!).
And really, if there is anything I could compare THE VISITATION to it would be that sole Debris platter outta the wilds of Oklahoma. Maybe the early Pere Ubu records as well but not MX-80 Sound, Umela Hmota, Television or any of those other mid-seventies wonders that set the stage for a whole slew of late-seventies underground hijinx. The playing is good in a mid-seventies garage band heavy metal appreciation sorta way, with the electronics fitting in fine for that extraterrestrial cringe feeling that would be expanded on once the albums kept coming out over the next ten or so years. The typical mid-seventies tough-guy-with-teased-hair hard rock vocals actually do help out (as does the shreiking female voice heard here/there on side two), and while the songs are certainly more structured in a commerical fashion they, like the best underground rock straddling forms and styles, still manage to transcend the usual hokum that often comes with these electronic rock attempts (this ain't no Neil Norman album, a vanity project if there ever was one!). And true it ain't no HALF-MACHINE LIP MOVES, but then again, what is?
***Musica Orbis-TO THE LISTENER (Longdivity)
Another one already mentioned in my previously-mentioned un-digitized vinyl post, you may also remember an essay-length piece on this self-produced album recorded by a buncha Swarthmore music majors that appeared back in issue #24 of my own sainted fanzine from a few years back. Maybe not, because although I raved on pretty hard about this mostly-femme art rock bunch who, like the best practitioners of that tired form "World Music" knew enough to make it sound beyond terra firma, it seemed as if nobody took the cue to write in or let me know just what they felt about this obscure wonder. But I guess that despite any feedback positive or negative on you readers' part Musica Orbis did have their fans including Hilly Kristal, who not only booked 'em at CBGB during the great rush to NYC in '76 and even namedropped 'em in his online memoirs, but who must've liked 'em enough to continue to book ex-Orbis leader Kitty Brazelton's various 80s/90s bands (which had a decidedly more underground/punk rock approach to 'em) at his various venues until she gave up on the performing game sometime when the millennium clocked over. And heck, I don't care what you say but I still think TO THE LISTENER is a great rock & ROLL album that has about as much to do with the mid-seventies state of re-affirming r&r's place in this universe as the Flamin' Groovies, MX-80 Sound, Kongress, Ramones and even Patti Smith did around the same nanosecond in time when a bright wind in music could be seen a'blowin even in the comparatively hidden reaches of Western Pennsylvania. True side two contains a couple of extremely saccharine gaggers dealing with home and teaching high school kids the ROOM 222 method of humanist adolescence, but at least these gals 'n guys cut their rock with avant garde jazz and baroque classical motifs rather'n hippydippy folkiedom (save on the two gut-pukers!) to the point where a track like "Cataracts" pays a whole lot more homage to early-sixties Dolphian affairs than you would've given anyone credit for inna first place. And what makes Musica Orbis so special is that these well-educated elites could rock out when they wanted to, and they were doing it with harps and cellos succeeding where other failed with guitars and drums! Still not sussed? Well, according to Brazelton's own website some person of notoriety going by the name of Joey Ramone was front and center for a July '76 CBGB gig, and if that don't say somethin' I dunno what will (other'n maybe he was expecting to see the Demons?)
***I guess that's it for this time...upcoming blogposts include nothing but books and if the stars are lucky a seven-inch vinyl listening party. And maybe by that time I'll feel a lot more refreshed...this post sure reads like I've been up with the runs all night and haven't slept a wink in o'er two days! I sure feel like it as well...gimme some Sominex (or maybe Dave Lang's last blogpost so's I can bore myself to sleep) and I'll be conked out faster than you can say "Agony Shorthand." And I MEAN it!
Posted by Christopher Stigliano at 10:08 AM
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Various Artists-CBGB RECORDED LIVE OFF THE BOARD (red and yellow label CDs) (CBGB/Portrait Japan)
I dunno if this is true 'r not but am I the only one in the world who liked that 1976 LIVE AT CBGB album? Y'know, the one that sorta permeated the record bins of shopping malls nationwide until sometime in the early-eighties when record thrill-chills certainly were getting harder to find? That one seems almost universally loathed by people both then and now (f'rinstance Don Waller in BACK DOOR MAN refused to review the entire album 'cept for the Mink DeVille tracks) but I know that there were some fans of that legendary twofer flying around here and there...like I recall one person (who shall remain nameless lest he re-enter my life to say how poorly I remember what he actually did say!) who compared Manster (for me the set's def. highlight) to Pere Ubu no less while another once-colleague seemed very impressed with Manster lead vocalist Warren Stahurski's handling of the Yardbirds classic "Over Under Sideways Down" saying that the guy was actually STRANGLING himself whilst uttering those once-classic lines. Of course that's all wishful thunk since Stahurski was merely affecting a Wally Cox in the amorous rapture of Marlon Brando voice while the music was more or less being performed by young guys under the influence of fusion who didn't quite have the finesse to translate their DOWN BEAT aspirations with crudzine capabilities. PUNK mag hated 'em as I assume did a good portion of Mr. and Mrs. Front Porch, but my two passing acquaintances felt Manster rather top-notch, and obviously so did I.
In fact, I liked Manster and a good hunk of the LIVE AT CBGB set enough to review it TWICE in the pages of my hallowed fanzine and in two issues in a row! The first time was in issue #20...the thing (in its original two-disc format) just happened to pop up into a pile of platters and I figured wha' th' hey, while by the time the next ish was well under way a promotional CD happened to chance its way to my door and if you don't think that was kismet I dunno what is! Anyway, I doubt that there was anyone else on the face of this earth who gave LIVE AT CBGB as much of a rah-rah as I have even with all of that decidedly non-new wave sound which undoubtedly bummed out all of those rock mag-reading thrillseekers out to glom some of that lower-Manhattan decadence only to get hit solid with some admittedly great AM poppage, progressive aspirants with garage band budgets and maybe a few off-kilter punks thrown in just to dirtify the thing a tad bit.
Ten years after LIVE AT CBGB made the entire rock world emit one collective yawn came a series of live cassette tapes featuring some of the bigger upstart names that were playing the club inna mid-eighties. It sure was nice of Hilly to help plug these local bigtime wannabes by slappin' 'em on his own label, and it was even nicer of him to finally release a slew o' product after years of mis-starts (and about two schlepped-up LIVE AT CBGB VOL. 2 attempts), and I gotta admit that these cassettes were pretty neat-o in the ROIR/cassette culture vein that was so hep at the time. I even bought a couple of 'em (Damage and Ed Gein's Car) direct from the source and sure didn't regret it. At the time I also didn't regret passing on the rest of the produce that CBGB was hyping to the hilt...after all, with names like Rude Buddha, Rods and Cones and Chemical Wedding these bands could only be watered down even more gnu wave losers who might have sounded nifty back in 1979 but six years later seemed an even more embarrassing joke than glitter did in '78, savvy?
Well, now that a good twennyone years have passed and I'm (ahem!) a bit more mature than I was back during those whacked out days of rage perhaps it's time to reassess these mid-eighties attempts through a well-honed critical eye, eh? Well, I did exactly THAT when I reviewed the vinyl version of the series sampler collecting choice tracks from these tapes a few ishes ago, but now that those innovative Japanese have reissued these discs in the digital format what better excuse for me to review 'em again just like I did with that original CBGB sampler well over ten years back! I remember really liking those platters, and although I already expressed my opinions on 'em earlier this millennium ya know what I'm gonna do? I'm gonna be sporting and review these disques w/o looking back to see what I originally thought about 'em, keeping my opinions fresh and perhaps contradictory as well! Now don't go sayin' that this freewheelin' ol' blog o' mine ain't one to TAKE CHANCES!!!!
Anyhoo these disques come in two volumes, one being "red" and the other "yellow" and like the original CBGB sampler this one seems to be about as good a representation of what underground rock was like in the mid-eighties as opposed to in those pre-hate dayz. Maybe the end point of where the '76 set began, instead of with classic FM rock and AM pop swipes plus Van Morrison/Lou Reed homage the music is def. early-eighties new wave and post-hardcore moves with a few smart pop refs tossed in here and there. As far as the "red" album goes I actually found myself enjoying the harmony-laden pop of Jupiter Jets (odd because I found the tape of the entire show to be rather heavy on the Police influence) and even Rude Buddha's new wave seemed more rooted in the better portion of what the late-seventies was offering with regards to this particular style. I even found Connotations rather entertaining even with their obv. VILLAGE VOICE-inspired anti-gentrification number (though as we all know, maybe they were right at least with regards to the evil outcome of such upwardly mobile upscaling...mainly the closing of CBGB itself!) though Ludichrist was just another sign of hardcore's eventual post-burnout stance. Still it wasn't like I was bored or offended by the electronic pop-rock (which really isn't that far removed from the early-eighties version of Kongress albeit without the intense streak) which is odd because back when this stuff was coming out I wanted to garrote everybody involved with it! I mean, even when I should have been offended (like with Connotations' "I Do Not Think I Would Have Some Fun" which does its best to dredge up some instantly-irritating early-eighties new wave cliches) I wasn't, probably because my hide has been toughened to the point where the slings of such coy arrows do not necessarily have the pow'r to penetrate.
I actually prefer the yellow edition of this set which seems to have more bang for the buck, complete with efforts by Damage and Ed Gein's Car (two of the better practitioners of the form that would be called grindcore within a few years) as well as some interesting moves from the likes of Chemical Wedding and Rods and Cones which I should dislike strictly on principle but I find sound rather pleasing especially after being bombarded with some of the 80s/90s drek that makes stuff like this sound all the more necessary! Strangely enough my faves on this platter are the offerings by Jing and Tulpa...the former are perhaps the only band on these disques that have any connection with the CBGB of yore since they featured former-and-future Shirt Artie Lamonica as well as one of the guys from the Laughing Dogs who had some good AM-inspired pop rockers on the CBGB disc as well as two Columbia flops of their own. (LATER ON I JUST DISCOVERED THIS FACT MYSELF NOTE SO DON'T WRITE IN TO COMPLAIN ASIDE: the Shirts' Myspace page mentions that Chemical Wedding also had ex/future-Shirts involvement which I believe I do recall from the slew of ads promoting those cassettes so long ago but had forgot o'er the years!) Whaddeva, Jing released a full-length studio album a few years after this which I heard and promptly sold dispite the presence of one track that seemed heart-felt enough...however on the two numbers present herein Jing manage to crank out halfway-decent seventies pop rehash ("World Gone Mad") as well as some should-be-irritating new wave commercialism ("After The Rain"), but since I found it easy enough to let my guard down enough to enjoy the most recent Shirts album maybe I can let this one pass through my ears w/o protest. An even bigger surprise were Tulpa, a group that cluttered up many a CBGB gig listing in the mid-eighties opening shows for the likes of Michelle Shocked, Living Colour and (most importantly!) Binky Philips and the strangest thing about it is that they ain't even from En Why See but Toronto! That's in Canada and when I asked Bruce Mowat what he thought about 'em he seemed utterly surprised that I would wanna pay attention to such an act in the first place! I guess it's time for me to turn in my membership to the Imants Krumins Fan Club for making such a fox pas, but sheesh, I really dig them guys! Well, I gotta say that with tracks such as "Wolves" (a nice slow creeper that recalls everything from Pink Floyd to Harry Toledo's "Knots") and "Myrtle Street" (early-seventies guitar jangle that owes more'n a passing resemblance to Simply Saucer's "Bulletproof Nothing") how could I ignore 'em! I didn't care for the album that Midnight in England (as opposed to the New York outlet) released about a year before they made all those New York treks, but after giving these numbuhs a go I'm more'n apt to give that 'un another spin. I'm also on the lookout for the entire tape from whence these tracks were culled...should be another surprise winner here at BLOG TO COMM central! Tulpa also have a Myspace page which you might wanna look out for in case this review jangled your neurons even in the slightest.
Booklet notes ain't any help unless you know Japanese, but the obligatory lyric translations are available and as usual are a total hoot, esp. when the unlucky fellow hired to decipher the vocalese here gets stuck with making sense of Damage's vocal bleats! Really, the lyrics as imagined by whomever transcribed these are funnier'n your last bowel movement, though at times they read so esoteric they sound like ancient pearls of wisdom set to strange poetic meters found only in the Far East. Maybe these guys shoulda sang what the poor latimer thought they were uttering from that now-caved-in stage but who knows, the original lyrics might be just as good!
Posted by Christopher Stigliano at 6:13 PM
Sunday, July 15, 2007
A MAXIMUM STRENGTH BLOG TO COMM VINYL LISTENING PARTY!
Can't say that the previous week was any great shakes, but at least I managed to live through it which oughta account for something these days! Not much happening here at the homestead (which is why I neglected my customary mid-week post, mostly out of boredom) plus I'm afraid I'm not in one of my usual manic moods from whence marvelous streams of run-on sentences and brilliant insight emerge, but I think I'll manage to pull this one off with typical elan given not only the exciting material for reviewing purposes at hand but the fact that I just downed about three frosty mugs of Dr. Pepper.
Considering the lack of any really new jamz to traipse across my mailbox as of this time, I decided to once again trek down to the basement and dig up vinyl both old and new (to mine ears) and give it all a nice spin just for the sake of recording my own thoughts and opinions regarding these sounds therein for your own benefit. Thursday through Saturday saw your humble blogschpieler listening to three full-length platters per evening with the goal of writing about what was experienced within those grooves come Sunday morn, and now that the sun has arisen I feel it's my sworn duty as a rock fan (NOT critic) to detail to you just exactly what I think of alla them foot-long platters (usually listened to while reading ancient TV GUIDEs and Tintin books) at hand. Gee, that's NINE whole discuses up for review (a bargain!) and believe me, I'll try my durndest to be witty, offensive, pointed, snide and all those other neet things that made reading various fanzines as well as CREEM such a joy to behold before the eighties hadda come in and ruin everything with its staid seriousness!
Here's yet another oldie I reviewed way back in one of those early-nineties issues of my much-reviled yet fabled fanzine, and back then I must admit that yours truly was rather enamored with this Southern Heavy Metal Rock band especially after reading a few things about these guys via CREEM's late-'74 Southern Rock issue as well as Lester Bangs' chapter on rock trend predictions that appeared in some long-lost paperback o' mine. And really, the idea of a Deep South rock band merging the burgeoning Dixified sounds so in-vogue at the time with the Decadent glam-metal of the day to the point where these bozos not only opened for Iggy and the Stooges in Atlanta (the same gig where noneother'n Dame Elton John donned a gorilla suit to join the band onstage for a rousing duet of "Search and Destroy" and Das Ig thought she was a real ape on the prowl!) but showed 'em the sights and sounds of the burgh and even covered "Raw Power" in typical Ig-homage sure seemed appealing to me! True, Hydra were on Capricorn Records (not exactly the most forward-thinking label on the face of the earth if you can believe Stiv Bators' claims that label head Phil Walden told his pal Jimmy Carter to stifle the punk rock uprising in order to save his own financial skin!), but that really doesn't matter given how these guys had a concept that they were able to deliver on without looking like a buncha bozo schmucks custom-made for the instant flop bins which is where they obviously ended up, but it's not like that was a fate they most deserved unfortunately.
Anyway Walden spared no expense getting this platter out to an uncaring public, even hiring the noted British album cover crew Hipgnosis to design a typical mid-seventies flash sleeve for these guys. And that coupled with the pretty good raw playing that didn't get too washed over by the typical slick production only goes to show you that Hydra was a rather exemplary group for the day and that HYDRA (the album) was a particularly stellar debut that dared document the heavy metal idiom somewhere between early-seventies glory and mid-seventies downfall coupled with a good Southern attitude that seemed to bypass a whole load of those "New South" acts that seemed to milk their musical heritage to the point of ridiculousness.
If I hadda describe Hydra (and HYDRA), I'd say they sounded sorta like KILLER-period Alice with a little bit of Allmans tossed in and a few readings of Metal Mike Saunders' PHONOGRAPH RECORD MAGAZINE metal history in order to rectify things. The horn section on elpee opener "Glitter Queen" reminds me of nothing sort of "Under My Wheels" while lead vocalist/rhythm guitarist Wayne Bruce's southern accent is most certainly an asset as he growl-sings the lyrics with an especially bizarroid force to it all. The general playing is up-to-par too, with Spencer Kirkpatrick's leads pretty angular when needed and the general attitude devoted to a hard rock ideal that seems to've crossed over into rather sloppy grounds once the mid-seventies began to arrive and heavy metal for all intent purposes lost most of its energy. The hard rock attitude even slips into the realm of great mid-seventies pop structures at times such as on "It's So Hard" (obv. doom to fail single side?) and even the ballads manage to keep your attention unlike they do on way too many other metallic longplayers both then and now!
Really, I can't see how Hydra missed out on the big heavy metal sweepstakes of the day, but considering the subpar sputum that did hit the jackpot maybe I answered my own question. Still, at least these guys proved that they could've been maybe the Aerosmith of the Confederacy (given how elpee closer "Miriam" has the same sorta driving force that made "Dream On" Aerosmith's breakout tune at a time when they were pretty much fanzine fodder) and while their subsequent albums, the final one without driving force Bruce at the helm (!) don't quite measure up at least this debut's snat enough for inclusion in any smart boy's top HM elpees of all time. And believe-it-or-not, but judging from this classic I'd say that Hydra were perhaps the brightest, most promising group to come out of the South since the Hampton Grease Band and that ain't just a buncha bunk written in order to get some of you barren-of-brains types out there an incentive to READ my rancid ramblings!
***Kissin' Cousins-LAUTERMUSCHEL (L'Age D'Or, Germany)
Usually I don't quite go in for the hype given some of these obscure-os, but I hadda fall for the tag that was hung onto Kissin' Cousins after someone told me these krauts sounded not like the Velvets or the Stooges or all those other groups whose names have been dragged through way too many mudpuddles these past twennysome years, but Ton Steine Scherben. Well, I gotta hand it to the guy who sold me this platter for at least comparing some relatively-unknown buncha Europeons to a band who has at least some untainted underground memories to fall back on and y'know what? For ONCE this unnamed peddler of unwanted vinyl wares was RIGHT ONNA TARGET for these Kissin' Cousins really have that strong Ton Steine Scherben beat, and I'm not talkin' 'bout those later-on slick-production Scherben records either but their early, more punky stuff and the fact that the Cousins were doin' this all somewhere inna eighties (not exactly a highpoint in time for high energy ravings) makes them all the more tasty, dontcha think?
Not only do the Kissin' gang have a strong-voiced vocalist similar to the lead singer for Scherben, but they have that same kinda early-seventies punk rock approach which naturally borrows from a lotta our faves of the day yet expands on the influence like very few copycats would dare. And not only that, but their songs manage to have a nice sense of dynamics that was also missing from way too many practitioners of the form who, somewhere down the line, decided to substitute cute ginchiness for structure and style. And yeah, it sure does sound wonderful listening to something recorded within the realm of "alternative" music for wont of a better term that recalls the best moments that the fore bearers of that sound created instead of jettisoning them in order to reflect the sterility of today's moderne lifestyles!
Hey, in case you're not familiar with Ton Steine Scherben I slipped a Youtube thing on 'em into this posting below so's you can get an idea of what these guys, and Kissin' Cousins, were all about music-wize. Both aggros are most definitely worth checking out if you're game for some straight-ahead early-seventies-styled garage-punk, and even if you don't understand German I think any true rocker'll understand the "international language" of it all, savvy?
***Eric Dolphy-OUT TO LUNCH (Blue Note)
That Felix the Cat cartoon w/Dolphy's "Hat and Beard" as the soundtrack which I posted here, along with a reading of the infamous Miles Davis blindfold test in a '64 DOWN BEAT where he threatened to stomp on Dolphy's shoes had me digging this early-'64 classic outta the mothballs. Sheesh, I wish I'd get some more extra-strength stimuli comin' my way in order to jar me outta my ennui-laden complacency these days because I gotta say that this disc is just what I needed to jar myself back into real life, and if this platter won't do just that then I guess that even I must be headin' straight for Quinlanville, lazed-out music maniac that I am.
Even next to the likes of Coltrane and Coleman, Dolphy was way ahead on the avant garde train with this disc and hearing the guy whether on alto, bass clarinet or flute is always a fantastic atonal spine-tingling joy that seems to reverberate this far down the line (as if you'd ever expect a classoid free jazz side to somehow lose its inherent magic as the years tumble on...c'mon, get real!). The backing group whether it be bassist profundo Richard Davis (known to "classic" schmuck rock types as the guy on Van Morrison's ASTRAL WEEKS but better known to me for his work with Anthony Braxton's Creative Construction Company!) or vibist Bobby Hutcherson couldn't be better as they add even more tension to Dolphy's already-wound up stylings, and hey, what else can I say about a performer and a grouping that influenced Frank Zappa's best-ever number as well as a good hefty portion of everything grand that was to come out of the jazz world for the next five years at least?
An interesting aside: the copy of OUT TO LUNCH now in my possession was once a part of the shoulda-been-legendary record library at the old WRUW-FM at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland back when that station had perhaps the weakest signal in the city, college or otherwise, and could only be heard outside a good city block if the wind happened to be blowing your way. At the time WRUW's avant jazz shows were pretty much the talk of whatever lucky soul could pick this most desirable station up (the same one that broadcast the final Mirrors/Electric Eels show, which was also the debut of the Polistyrene Jass Band in case you didn't know!), and it kinda gives me teenage tingles down my spine to know that right now I am in possession of a platter that undoubtedly got played on that station and at a time when I surely would have loved to've heard such sounds on the radio! And some say there is no God!
***Various Artists-STATE OF THE UNION (Zoar)
Here's an interesting collection based on the ol' one-minute each trackage LP idea that had been used by the likes of ESP, Antilles and Matthew Fisher back in the day, only this one features stuff from the early-eighties of hip 'n chic New York experimentalism that sure sounded swell back then but nowadays has more'n a little taint of datedness throughout the whole proceedings. Now I don't mind things that sound or look dated as long as they still deliver the needed aural push, but when such datedness reflects bad ideas that maybe didn't seems so screwy at the time maybe they do tend to rub people the wrong way. Well, perhaps STATE OF THE UNION rubs me the wrong way because it dredges up memories of my commie rat past, but then again maybe it's GOOD that I revisit my roots in order to give me a reason to see that history dare not repeat itself. After all, I don't wanna end up like one of those hissy fits who write in to Jay Hinman's own blog every time he tries to compromise his so-called libertarian beliefs with his support of Rudolph Guiliani (phfew!!!!).
Oh, there are some things on STATE OF THE UNION that ya gotta admire, but there are also many things that flash EARLY EIGHTIES SELF-CONSCIOUS POLITICOS AT WORK here much to its overall detriment. My own personal fave one-minute snippet's the Social Climbers track probably taken from the same CBGB gig from whence a numbuh on the SON OF SEGMENTS tape comp appeared where this "no wave" (as some say) group (complete with former Screaming Gypsy Bandit/MX-80 Sound producer Mark Bingham) jam on a tape loop of Jerry Falwell preaching along with special guest jazz guitarist John Scofield (whose trio opened for the Climbers that very same show!) making the most amazing jazz-inspired clatter that makes this homesick noisemonger wish someone would release the entire show pronto! And something tells me you're not gonna read about this one on any Scofield discographies extant so if you're a fan of his you better be onna lookout! Former Slapp Happy member Peter Blegvad (who was hanging around the NYC environs at the time) submits a nice li'l introspective thing with the help of RIO-in-hand John Greaves, and even the Material-backed Thi-Linh Le does a nice Asian chant that sounds more par for the course than some of the more disco-oriented Material tuneage of the day. But amidst the nice bits of soundsnippage arises a lotta going-nowhere and perhaps downright embarassing moments, with New York artists jumping on the old Sugarhill Gang-led rap craze (the Squat Theatre's "Mr. Dead and Mrs. Free" comes to mind) that sounds about as commercial and as leaden as all of those other white rap novelties that would get sprinkled amidst the AM playlists of the day. And not only that, but that taint of radical hoo-hah obviously inspired by the election of Ronald Reagan seems to coat a lotta the proceedings to the point where you get the idea that a good portion of the artistes present on this disc were most CERTAIN that the prez was just about on the brink of starting a nuclear war with the Soviet Union and boy were they just rarin' to let us all know about it! In fact, I'll betcha that if you had asked the contributors to this album whether or not any of 'em would still be alive a good twennyfive years later none of 'em would dare think so, apocalyptic rumblings being what they may! Well, considering what happened in the meanwhile maybe these definitely left-tilting Manhattanites would've preferred the world go up in a nuclear blaze but maybe not. After all, there sure is a lot for these malcontents to yammer about in this day and age so I'm sure a whole buncha 'em are glad they didn't go the Mario Savio route when it must've seemed the most EXPEDIENT thing to do!
***Charlie Parker-QUARTET, QUINTET & SEPTET VOL. 1 (Joker, Italy)
Here's one that was more or less supposed to end up in a piece on the infamous bootleg label Joker slated to appear somewhere in the next issue of my sainted BLACK TO COMM magazoon, but since that issue has more or less been put into mothballs until I can move more of the existing magazines at hand and AFFORD its publication I guess I'll just have to piecemeal these Joker elpee reviews to you this way. Now, aren't you slackers reading my writings here onna web for FREE just ashamed of yourselves?
I bought this 'un solely for the inclusion of "Lover Man" which starts off side two. This is the track which, accoring to Nick Tosches in his avant jazz history originally published in a '70 FUSION (y'know, the same one where he called Archie Shepp's "Stick 'em Up" the rock & roll single of the year, blabs on about how he experiences spontaneous orgasms when removing his copy of Coltrane's MEDITATIONS from the sleeve and refers to the ORNETTE COLEMAN TRIO LIVE AT THE "GOLDEN CIRCLE" STOCKHOLM album as "the most beautiful, playful stuff ever to dribble from one of these jazz darky's ape-like brains"...and people think I'm in bad taste!) is no-bout-a-doubt-it "thee" first ever avant garde jazz song to be committed to vinyl. Whether or not "Lover Man" is the first bonafide avant jazz number extant or not (others point the way towards the George Russell-arranged "A Bird in Igor's Yard" by the Buddy DeFranco Orchestra and the various Lennie Tristano Quartet tracks that were so scabrous their release was delayed a good quarter-century, plus Sidney Bechet gets the honors once in awhile) is moot, but I got to hear it and considering the heroin-ravaged playing coupled with incessant mental crackup vibrations extant it's no wonder Parker himself wanted to "stomp" this record once he emerged from a rest home soon thereafter. Not an experience one would likely forget, especially considering its "jazz on the brink" stature that would lead to even mightier things once the forties trounced into the fifties. The rest of the elpee is no slouch either, with hot bop playing from the likes of everyone from the likes of Erroll Parker to Miles Davis, a name that rings a bell somewhere.
***Sandy Bull-FANTASIAS (Vanguard)
Here's anudder one I wuz gonna hold off on reviewing until I received my LONG-AWAITED copy of E PLURIBUS UNUM which I fear has been forever lost in the mail, but rather'n the once-planned Bull gang-review I'd hoped for I thought I'd give this recent arrival its just due and in just time as well. Anyhow, any smart boy whose been reading this blog as of late can tell that I've recently become a big fan of these old Bull recordings, and considering just how much both STILL ST. VALENTINE'S DAY 1969 and INVENTIONS are getting late-night spins here at BLOG TO COMM central who could doubt that this Sandy Bull revival on my part is perhaps the biggest nostalgic trip to hit the boards since SGT. BILKO reruns! And one good sign is that most of the time when I'm spinning my way through "Blend II" the bedroom door gets a heavy rappin' with calls for me to "turn that thing down!" Always nice to see that this sixties sound still has the power to incite!
Here's the debut Bull platter from '63, recorded for the folksy Vanguard label (then home to such decidedly non-Bull-esque acts as Alan Arkin's Baby Sitters, Paul Robeson and Joan Baez) and released smack-dab inna middle of the early-sixties folk boom back when some of the most yawn-inspiring music passing as "Americana" was getting shoveled at radio and tee-vee maniacs left and right to the point of nausea. Thankfully the Beatles soon arrived on these shores to wash all that Kingston Trio hackery and HOOTENANNY hoedown outta our lives forever and for that we gotta be thankful to those mop-topped Liverpuds, but in the meantime you could also be thankful that such an innovator as Bull did pop up on the scene and recorded this disc which transcended the usual folk boom pratfalls into a new source of sound that comes off refreshing and innovative even this far (forty-four years!) down the line.
Considering the time and setting in which this was recorded and released, I was expecting more self-conscious folkie musings to come forth but fear not, for even at this early stage in the game Bull is on top of the eclectic ball mixing the same folk/classical/blues/rock influences that wouldn't've been mixed until a good year later when the once rock-hating folkies discovered rock's hidden boho nature. And with the help of Ornette drummer Billy Higgins, Bull lurches to the head of the string-pickin' class with his original "Blend" which takes all of those Indian and folk ideas and hashes them into a new source of energy as Higgins lays down some fantastic drum patterns that really wouldn't get explored in rock music until the advent of the Godz and Maureen Tucker. There's such an otherworldly ahead-of-itself drone and bash goin' on here that if you told me this track/album was actually a recording made by one of those fly-by-night acoustic acts that used to play the CB's 313 Gallery in the nineties and oh-ohs, I definitely would believe you! I really can't compare this version of "Blend" to anything that came outta the day...in fact, the closest thing that "Blend" resembles is the Seventh Sons' "Raga", and that alledgely was recorded a whole year later!
And on the flip Bull continues to amaze with a re-write of 16th-century composer William Byrd and the more-current Carl Orff, not to mention Bull's take on a more-apt-for-the-day mountain tune called "Little Maggie" that would probably still upset the purists at heart, finally closing with an electrified long before Dylan "Gospel Tune" which, as Nat Hentoff's liners indicate, would eventually end up as Ray Charles' "I Got a Woman." And hearing Higgins in this context playing along with Bull's rather rockified electric guitars does recall something that might have come about later on, but ya gotta admit that in 1963 music like this must have been about as alien to even the most open-minded longplaying fan as...Joe Meek?
By the way, while trying to get some more background info on this disc I came across an interesting article on Bull that I'm sure'll offer a little more info on the man and what he was doing back in the days when old fogies even thought Bobby Vinton was the height of atonal blare. And with the way Bull's music continues to stir up fits of rage at least in my household, it's sure good to know that some things do not change!
***"Blue" Gene Tyranny-OUT OF THE BLUE (Lovely Music)
It took me awhile to figure out that this Tyranny guy whose albums were incessantly being hawked in the old NEW MUSIC DISTRIBUTION SERVICE catalog back in the late-seventies was the same guy as Robert Sheff who not only played piano alongsides Iggy in the Prime Movers but ended up in the Stooges a short while before being replaced by Scott Thurston which, for some odd reason, really amounts to something in my book to be cliched 'bout it. And the fact that Mr. Tyranny also got former Stooge Steve Mackay to blow baritone sax on this 1977 offering really must mean that OUT OF THE BLUE is a return to blatant Stoogeisms, right? Well...wrong! However, I thought it was a nice flash back to mid/late-seventies popisms with enough jabs at avant gardisms to make my ears perk up a bit even with its general mainstreamish jamz. Jazzy enough rock with loads of female vocals and extended narration by one of the same sex on side two detailing a letter which just oozes seventies sentimentality...I'm not gonna be playing the thing much if at all ever again, but I gotta credit the way Tyranny/Sheff flashed me back to 1976 to the point where I felt like running over to the corner stop and rob to pick up the latest CREEM, and that really must be saying something, eh?
***The Jones Family Band-AN ELECTRIFIED JOINT EFFORT (World of Sound)
These sixties/seventies self-produced albums that cluttered up the landscape at the time (and command plenny of bucks from lowlifes who can't afford the things!) are pretty chance-y affairs, and for every good re-release that comes my way there must be about ten that range from iffy to downright rancid. I'd put the Jones Family Band from Michigan in the previous category...given their Michigan locale I was hoping for some of the Detroit heavy metal influence to wooooosh upon 'em but for the most part this disc contains loads of acoustic folkiedom that thankfully ain't as whole wheat as some of their brethren but still backwoods enough to turn me off, coupled with a few live rock tracks tossed in to jolt one back into the world of rockism reality. Still, even the covers of such standbys as "Route 66" and "Down the Road Apiece" ain't that special enough to make you bow your head in homage, and if you're the kinda guy who likes to gamble bucks on these self-issued rarities I'm sure the dough could be put to much better use on some mid-sixties rarity that one might find combing through the most recent Norton catalog. At lease you can be pretty sure that you won't find any hippie bead-jangling or acoustic garment-rending on anything they'd sell!
***THE SEVENTH SEAL (Acme, PO Box 248, Sevenoaks, Kent TN14 6NT England)
Not to be confused with either the Bergman film nor the number of mid-sixties garage bands sporting the same name (most notably the Detroit-area group co-led by future Commander Cody guitarist Bill Kirchen and Panther Burns bassist Ron Miller), this particular Seventh Seal was a Japanese aggregate made up of various Acid Mothers Temple and Angel'n Heavy Syrup members 'mongst others doing the one-off thing for old times sake or somethin'. As you'd expect given their pedigree, this brand of Seventh Sealers also dealt in psychedelic music albeit that of a more European, particularly German bent. Heavy references to Amon Duul II particularly on their massive debut PHALLUS DEI can be heard as well as Tangerine Dream while they were taking that burning brain journey, and the entire results sound so wild in that classic early-Velvet Underground reshape/restyling that I'm positive this group coulda been a smash opening for Les Rallizes Denudes at some Japanese psych-out in the late-sixties...and survived. Considering that the Seventh Seal are a "new" band (and in my world, anything after 1975 seems to be new nowadays!), I gotta give 'em credit for recapturing that mysticism of old that way too many revivalists seem to disregard for whatever stupid reason they could find!
Posted by Christopher Stigliano at 9:23 AM