Etron Fou Leloublan-LES TROIS FOU'S PERDEGAGNENT (AU PAYS DES...) CD (G&R Essential Music, Russia)
When I picked up this Cee-Dee (purely outta curiousity) I really didn't know what to expect. Believe it or not, but your humble blogger has about as much knowledge about the "Rock in Opposition" groups of the seventies (even Henry Cow, the most opposing rock band of all!) as he does of advanced calculus (or anything else that's growing on his teeth) mainly because...well there were always these other exciting groups worthy of my time and what little money I had and it wasn't like I had an opportunity to seek everything out. But I'm always on the go to try something different (no, not that you thilly thing!) so's I decided to pluck down some dinero for this recent reissue of the second platter by the French sax/bass/percussion trio Etron Fou Leloublan just to see for myself whether or not all of those innerlectual articles on these supposedly "austere" continental groups that were popping up in OP and TROUSER PRESS were worth paying attention to in the first place!
The good part: Etron Fou's use of a variety of Gallic and international starting points in creating their own style which, while sounding "French" enough owes loads to not only the jazz rock likes of Magma but people as diverse as Philip Glass and Captain Beefheart. And like Magma or Beefheart you can't call it strict avant garde jazz or even progressive rock (or at least prog as in "classic" rock ELP/Yes/Genesis mellotronica), but something that while still in the realm of brainy anal-retentiveness does have a certain swing to it that makes for good foot kick-up listening. I'm sure these guys wowed the audience at CBGB back in '82.
The bad part: the Zappa influence which not only seems to permeate a good portion of this European progressive rock but seems to overwhelm the more "freaked out" vocal stylings just as much as Zappa's own lack of personal hygiene knocked out more than a few groupies. I mean it's bad enough listening to Zappa's own "bizarre" musical/societal jibes and "digs" but it sounds even worse spoken in a foreign tongue! But at least these Leloublans don't stoop to the slick fusion music of mid-seventies Zappa, and personally I felt this engaging enough that perhaps some more of these late-seventies RIO platters are in order, right?
***UGLY THINGS #26 (a rock & roll publication!)
Although I only got the thing yesterday, I thought I'd better tell you all about the latest issue of UGLY THINGS before some creep out there trying to garner up some blogger brownie points does. And man-oh-man is this one yet another winner! Remember when you wuz a kid and you'd stay buried in your bedroom for a good two or three hours just pourin' through the latest comic books, or back in the eighties when you'd finally get the new issue of KICKS or THE NEXT BIG THING and nothing short of an atomic bomb up your wazoo could rouse you from the intense concentration of finding out more about your fave rock and roll icons than you ever knew existed? Well this new issue of UGLY THINGS'll not only bring back fond memories of a spendthrift youth but keep you locked inside your abode for a good four nights let alone hours straight with only time out for pee-breaks! (Which doesn't matter since you can always bring the magazine in there witcha!) And really, if you don't salivate at the thought of holding one of these throbbing young issues between the palms of your sweaty hands then you don't know what rockism means, an' it's a lot more'n what you'll find in a wide variety of newsstand mags claimin' to deal with the heart and soul of "rock music" (or "rap" or "jazz" or "what-have-you") these days that's for sure!
I'm sure that there are many people out there in real-life-land who will tell you that UGLY THINGS is a fault-filled, unworthy periodical not worthy of your time or moolah, but these people are just about as wrong as I am straight! I dunno where these naysayers, and they are out there, are coming from because the way I look at it UGLY THINGS is perhaps the ONLY rockism mag worth reading these days! If you can, imagine a combination of (WHO PUT THE) BOMP!/DENIM DELINQUENT/BACK DOOR MAN/(insert one of many seventies/eighties worthies here) and multiply the energy by ten and you've got a typical ish of UGLY THINGS, especially in the way it writers hand it to you all matter-of-factly w/o the b.s. and extraterraneous hokum used for filler by way too many rock "critics" using music as a stepping stone to a career writing douche bag instructions. The people of UGLY THINGS come from the suburbs and they know what this music means to people still living there, which is why UGLY THINGS is probably more relevant today than it was when it started up a full quarter-century back!
And yeah, it's a given that the best rock and roll was laid down in the past, and UGLY THINGS editor Mike Stax knows that which is why he's milking the entire sixties/seventies punk era for all its worth and much more! That's the reason UGLY THINGS is such a success and why you should be reading a copy of this mandatory mag as soon as possible before you turn into another Robert Christgau or something. And you wouldn't want that to happen to you now, would you?
Number 26, like the previous killer-diller, is just chock-fulla loads of pertinent and life-enriching rock and roll information and if you think I absorbed every shard, every little factoid of information that was presented within the thing after only a good four hours straight readin' the thing then you're even screwier than I originally thought! However I gotta say that after last night's marathon my head kinda felt like that guy on THE WILD WILD WEST's whose own cranium swelled up because he had gathered so much knowledge that his brain just had to expand! Yes, UGLY THINGS is just that much info-packed, and one mere issue has more real rock and roll history packed in its pages than the entire leather-bound collection of ROLLING STONE has in a good forty years worth and that's including all the ones where they got Lester Bangs, Mike Saunders, Meltzer and Patti Smith to help out with the writin'!
Loads of goodies here, like the 1988 interview with Rob Tyner where the former MC5 frontman got to let his opinions about past White Panther glories be known (and not so glories as well...seems he still had a bit of a mad-on about John Sinclair as did some of the other members of that troupe!) as well as loads of hot, in-depth and potentially hazardous to your underwear pieces on the Sons of Adam, the Pop Rivets (Billy Childish pre-Milkshakes), Pretty Things, Artwoods, Trees, and even the Cedars from Lebanon (!) get a few pages in here which only goes to show you that when Mike Stax and company pay homage to the sixties they go out of their way to do so! And add to that the music, book and DVD reviews and you got it...a good reason not to go out for at least the next seven or so weeks and save your money so's you can purchase a good hunka junk that's being reviewed or advertised...things you NEED 'stead of those bare essentials your parents were always tellin' you about!
And although it's really too early to call, I gotta say that my favorites article in this ish just has to be Johan Kugelberg's hot rundown on "punk before punk" which is mainly a good excuse for him to rant and rave about his favorite proto-punk music and imagery, everything from the Electric Eels to TEENAGE WASTELAND GAZETTE with a whole lotta rare records stuck in-between. Given how much my head's still stuck in '73 like O. Rex's let's just say this piece's gonna be the re-re-re-reread of '08 because there's just so much good high energy here to waste on just one go! But then again, I'll read just about anything on Rocket From The Tombs even if it's those words printed over and over on a sheet of paper...I'm that stoked!
And OK, I know that a few of you readers will want me to write something NEGATIVE about this ish if only to show that I'm not in the back pocket of the one called Stax so...(ulp!) here I go! Actually, I gotta tell you one writer who wrote a whole lotta reviews about Beatle books and DVDs this go 'round is way too much hippydippy 16-pin up 1970 trendy for this mag's great pages. I mean, anybody who would want to take a hunk of nauseating Beatle hagiography like THE US VS. JOHN LENNON and write about it in such glowing, teenage revolutionary terms straight out of a 1960s junior-high underground paper seems part 'n parcel to the unquestioning Beatle brigade of hidebound sixties idealists that I thought UGLY THINGS fought so valiantly against! Sheesh, those reviews where the Beatles get unmercifully bashed for straying from their rock roots sure come off a lot more smooth to my digestive tract, and I am not one of those Beatle-hating guys you sometimes still see either! However, I'm sure this particular person is very nice and I certainly don't wish her any ill will. How's that for an example of just what a kind a generous sort of person I can be when I put my mind to it! And that one page "article" on Les Rallizes Denudes...yikes!!! Everything in that obviously cranked-out tossaway is something I knew about already so where's the originality??? I know that Mike Stax is always on the lookout for "name" writers and he did earn another feather in his cap by getting none other than Gene Sculatti to do a few DVD and book reviews, but what on earth possessed him to include that Denudes piece as well as a half-baked review of some Elliot Murphy demos other than he just felt sorry for some schmuck down on his luck! Well, Stax always did have a kind heart for rock writers and stray dogs I guess, though I wonder how he got this far in life giving bums like that guy precious space in his million-selling mag! You better watch out Mike, or the next thing you know you'll be losing money hand over fist trying to sell your unwanted magazine to people who think you've lost your marbles!
But why should any of the above critique really concern Mike anyways? According to the man hisself, UGLY THINGS is bringing in enough revenue that he actually quit his long-running dayjob at the dungheap to devote his full time to such a moolah-churning endeavor as this little cottage-cheese industry and to that I say...lucky dawg! Let's just hope that we'll continue to see more and more of these UTs tossed our way as the months roll on, because frankly with KICKS just keep getting harder to find and the majors either losing their importance long ago if they had any to begin with it's not like we have that much of a choice, eh?