Sunday, April 27, 2008

FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO DON'T HAVE A LIFE, WE SALUTE YOU!

And salute you we do with the following trio of reviews that I hope prove there's more out there in blogland than reading ineffectual write-ups of old Replacements albums! Whaddeva, please be grateful that this post even exists in the first place. It has been a very busy week for me (talking about the non-important things in life like schnozzola-to-the-grindstone work and around-the-house maintenance) and I haven't had the time nor opportunity to really throw myself into my record/tape/CD collection (not that I'd want to, last time I did just that I broke nearly twenty albums!). But despite all of the roadblocks real life tossed my way I managed to lend ear to at least a few newies that I'm sure you'll be interested in whether you just want to live vicariously through me or need your own personal Christgoo Consumer Guide as to what to buy, or perhaps you just have about fifty minutes to kill and you can't think of a better way to kill it than by reading this garbage. (As you can see, those old MAD magazines have sure left a mighty big impression on me!) Whatever, after you glom this 'un I surely hope that your rockism needs have been slaked, and slaked pretty damn good while yer at it!


Up-Tight-EARLY YEARS CD (aRCHIVE)

Well whaddaya know, but that extremely rare debut Cee-Dee by Japanese psychedelic monsters Up-Tight has finally been reissued, and what a gloriosky job the aRCHIVE label did with the thing as well! Not being that much of a fan of this trio's newer work (which I find too repetitious in a boring way and "mature" in a stodgy one as well), this early offering only proves what contenders these Les Rallizes Denudes "acolytes" coulda been back in the mid-nineties when these track were laid down. Powerful rock & roll that fans of a lotta music that seemed to get swept under the rug once the eighties rolled around will surely cherish, with an overall sound and gesture that comes off just as much heavy metal (in a classic mid-seventies CREEM sense) as it does psych. Words really can't describe the high energy this exudes (a Velvet-y Groundhogs?), so let's just say that if you've been in on the Japanese underground game for quite some time and missed out on this, you now have that second chance very few of ever will have! And as an added bonus, some previously-unreleased recordings from '94 going under the title of 94 LIVE & STUDIO are tagged on afterwards sweetening up the pot even more! And brother, you haven't LIVED until you've heard the extended instrumental "King of Ice" which hearkens back to those great mid/late-seventies atonal Denudes guitar workouts to the point where you'd have thunk a lawsuit was in order! A definite must-get for fans of the Japanese psychedelic movement still stirring even as we speak!

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The Flying Luttenbachers-TRAUMA CD; Mary Halvorson and Weasel Walter-OPULENCE CD (ugEXPLODE)

Weasel Walter (y'know, the guy with the warpaint on his face) sez that the music on this reissued Cee-Dee by his Flying Luttenbachers is not jazz. I would beg to differ, since not only is the instrumentation on TRAUMA (which ingeniously consists of eleven tracks bearing the disc's name all neat and numbered) a classic jazz sax/bass/drums configuration but the music seems to echo the Chicago avant garde of AACM fame (without the small instruments) from whence the Luttenbachers herald from. And maybe it's even better than what a good portion of the AACM or what's left of it is working up these days, for the playing (esp. Robert Wilkus' tenor) is pretty hard and Roscoe Mitchell dirty at times with none of that aerie/faerie revolution now and peace flutter that seems to have clogged up a good portion of the newer free jazz stylings to our chagrin. Whatever, this is sure a hegguva lot more pleasing to the ears than some of the more-recent free jazz musings I've had the pleasure to hear over the past year or so. Maybe Walter meant that the Luttenbachers play "anti-jazz" sorta like the Contortions used to, or the same way that the Fugs and Electric Eels said they played "anti-rock". Who knows, and I'm sure you more jaded readers don't care one whit, so fug git you!

The other ugEXPLODE disque set on the chopping block for today's a duo setting featuring Walter playing behind the avant guitar of Mary Halvorson, a gal who should be well-known to you readers from her days back in the early/mid-double ots when she used to pop up at those CBGB Lounge free jazz gigs, the cybercasts of which as you know I miss so dearly.

If you're expecting a freeform guitar freakout akin to a Sonny Sharrock or Doug Snyder and Bob Thompson's DAILY DANCE you will be disappointed. You will also be a moron, for although Halvorson ain't as forceful in her strumming as Sharrock or Snyder she's still boss, kinda subdued sorta like Derek Bailey or even Fred Frith on those old Virgin Records guitar solo albums with occasional bursts of manic energy when the mood fits. Walter accompanies Miss Halvorson exceptionally well with his etapoint free jazz drumming that certainly knows how to play within the grooves of Halvorson's guitarese. As an added bonus, Walter also can be hear blowing through a clarinet mouthpiece on some tracks which does add an air of even more befuddlement to the proceedings! (I originally thought that there was a soprano sax somewhere in the mix until I read the credits!) Reminds me of something Andrew Cyrille might have done in the late-sixties (though Cyrille used to play a kazoo while drumming...perhaps this is where Walter got his idea but whatever the inspiration the effects are surely swell).

An interesting thing about these releases...the cover of OPULENCE strangely enough resembles that of Hawkwind's DOREMI FASOL LATIDO while the one to TRAUMA's a Marvel Comics-inspired piece of pop artism that was done by Walter himself (after Jack Kirby) that oddly enough resembles the cover of the Deviants' masterpiece PTOOFF! What I wonder is, were these covers consciously created as tributes of sorts to these English "People's Bands", or is it just mere coincidence. Frankly I'll put my moolah on the latter, but it certainly is more num num for thought!
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The Backdoor Men-MOHAWK COMBOVER CD (Handsome Productions)

It's been in my "collection" for well over a year already, but only now am I getting around to playing the dadburned thing! Well, if you want to call me Mr. Procrastination go ahead but sheesh, sometimes I have trouble keeping track of where I place my various discs, books, fanzines and whatnot to the point where I eventually will find various items that I purchased nigh on twenty years ago and totally forgot about especially when I'm looking for something totally different! It's a miracle that I even remember the most basic things in life from taxes to wiping myself, and how I struggled through existence all these years sometimes is a vast mystery to me.

Enough of my own personal magnitude 'n onto the Backdoor Men. Charlotte Pressler once wrote that these guys were a living jukebox that Peter Laughner would have enjoyed or something to that effect, and after listening to this CD I can believe it! Prior to this I only had a live audience tape of 'em recorded at Fitzpatricks early '79, and although it did have their infamous (and controversial) signature song "Handicapped Kids" (which is not on this disque) the quality was a little too muddified for me to make a good judgement as to what these late-seventies Clevelanders could cook up on a hot "new wave" night at whatever bar in the Flats would be brave enough to have 'em.

's funny that a Cee-Dee by a reformed Backdoor Men would appear after all these years, but it has and yeah, it sure brings back them fond memories of thirty years back. In fact, the Backdoor Men in the here and now seem to encapsulate everything that was top dog about the seventies undergrround scene and crams it into a nice disque for your enjoyment. Some parts remind me of the same late-seventies "new wave" that used to induce premature periods in Anastasia Pantsios...at least I can hear echoes of songs like the Chronics' "Calling All Cardinals" in the Backdoor Men's more bouncy numbers, while others tend to have the Laughner lilt to 'em such as the revival of his "I'm So F#cked Up" which is a blooze chooze that I once read somewhere was actually a Velvet Underground creation! Still, I'm sure that, had he made it down the line this far Laughner woulda loved all of it, and this probably would sound like whatever group he would've been involved with today had fate taken a different turn. And still other tracks echo back to the great mid/late-sixties garage band scene, or at least the seventies variations thereof in a way that probably woulda had Cyril Jordan of the Flamin' Groovies flipping his wig in abject jealousy over the way the Men revive the revivalists so to speak!

Don't miss the disque closer, a cover of "Eve Of Destruction" recorded at a very early Backdoor Man gig at Fitzpatricks January '77 so maybe Laughner, who recorded the recently-reissued NOTES ON A COCKTAIL NAPKIN acetate with Backdoor Man Terry Hartman in Laughner's bedroom '69, was aware of 'em and even got to see the guys live! At least that would have been nice if somehow he had between his frequent hospital stays and getting kicked off the stage at CBGB.
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SPECIAL NON-MUSICAL-RELATED SEGMENT OF THIS POST THAT WAS CREATED IF ONLY TO PROVE TO YOU NEOPHYTE READERS THAT THERE IS MORE TO THIS BLOG THAN REVIEWING RECENTLY GRABBED CEE-DEES, OLD RECORDS AND COMPLAINING ABOUT THE LACK OF INTEREST AND RESPECT MY VARIOUS ENDEAVORS INCUR WITHIN THE RANKS OF MUSIC FANDOM DEPARTMENT: Yes it is old news, but danged if I'm still having trouble getting enough of that boffo late-fifties/early-sixties kultural experience (mainly, tee-vee!) into my fragile system! And considering how the broadcast stations have pretty much just lost it en toto while even the cable outlets which I have avoided on principle for eons have been themselves slacking (and as for TV Land, have you actually seen those dismal original series of theirs which have nada to do with the great fifties/sixties obscure television series that even they won't show anymore?), it looks as if the only way I can enjoy that vast pre-hippie greatness outside of videotapes and DVDs these days is good ol' youtube! True, you might be lucky enough to only get peter-sized portions of great television shows of the past and in grainy quality when you tune into that wondrous site, but at least you're getting this stuff and for FREE so complainin' about the quality and having to see great programs of yore chopped up into segments would be akin to breaking your leg and complaining about the ambulance ride because it ain't a Cadillac. At least yer gettin' some semblance of wild and whacked out tee-vee when you tune into youtube to snatch a segment of SHINDIG, ERNIE KOVACS or even a toddler-era fave o' mine like TALES OF THE RIVERBANK, and what's best about it is that you too are now getting the same sorta resensification that sustained millions of baby boomer kiddos and it's this sorta slapping of the mid-amerigan credo into these kids' skulls that eventually gave us things like the Velvet Underground and Stooge-rock! C'mon, with the low level of entertainment that has been handed to us o'er the last thirtysome years it's no wonder that the kidz of today aren't as rabid or feral as the best of the fifties/sixties brats eventually turned out to be, because frankly I can't see no Hannah Montana fan outside of Mike Saunders moving and grooving to the likes of "Sister Ray"!

So it's no wonder why I found myself pretty much enthralled last Wednesday night sitting through a December '63 edition of THE JERRY LEWIS SHOW that some enterprising young soul put up on youtube for all of us to see. Believe it or not, but I haven't been that much of a Jerry Lewis fan since I turned twelve or so and heard him telling dirty jokes on the Labor Day telethon, but considering the historical importance of this fabled early-sixties series how could I help but not tune in? Some of you older tee-vee buffs (who to today are pretty much the equivalent of those old-timey cubesville people you knew as a kid who were really hep on those thirties and forties radio shows that were getting the nostalgic treatment back in the very early seventies...wonderful folks all) will know all about the Lewis show and how ABC really pushed this one as being the crowning achievement of the '63-'64 tee-vee season until the critics panned it and the ratings deep-sixed. A last-ditch attempt to revive the series failed when Prez Kennedy himself got a mid-season cancellation and by December this massive abortion passing as prime-time tee-vee was all over. Even TV GUIDE did an autopsy as to why this series which is often considered Lewis' first major career flop came out of the gate and stumbled about as it did, and frankly I still get the impression that Lewis never really lived this huge hunkerin' error on his part down. By the way, this JERRY LEWIS SHOW should not be confused with his late-sixties NBC show of the same name, a variety sketch comedy series which luckily enough for Lewis lasted two seasons, nor his syndicated early-eighties attempt at a late-night talk show that also seemed to fizzle out before anyone knew it was on the air.

After finally getting an eyefull of this particular episode which was aired right after Lewis got the axe (and he sure let us viewers, few as we may be, know it...I mean, talk about watching a television series falling apart before your very eyes!) all I can say is it ain't hard to see why THE JERRY LEWIS SHOW imploded the way it did. Perhaps the hype on ABC's part was overbearing (I mean, having the network buy a theatre and rename it after their star was a bit too much to begin with!) and a two-hour live broadcast on Saturday nights from 9:30 to 11:30 PM, the first time a network extended prime time past eleven, was way too long for something that seemed to be aiming for either THE TONIGHT SHOW, ED SULLIVAN or even PLAYBOY AFTER DARK without the bunnies! (And yeah, I know that show came a good five or so years later, but I still recall the promos for the one with Lewis and Bill Cosby goofing around with a piano and it did seem akin to something that Lewis' '63 show would have gladly aired!) Put 'em all together and they spell disaster time because frankly, is anyone really that anxious to see Lewis mugging for the camera live and whining for two hours straight? Maybe the 12-year-old kids who were big fans of the guy would be more'n anxious to see their hero in action, but what else could mom 'n pop do for a Saturday night than play a li'l pokeher (no sic) upstairs while the kids live it up in the family room watching their hero Jerry in action?

Whoever posted this 'un left out not only the commercials but the non-Lewis-related performances meaning not only don't we get to see those loveable Marquis Chimps from THE HATHAWAYS romping about but there's nada Senor Wences or Sam Cooke to be found either! Maybe these supposedly "non-essentials" were cut due to time constraints (after all, youtube seems to be taken best in small, ten-minute doses) but thankfully we do get the meaty hunkering portion of the thing with not only irritating comedian Phil Foster (best known for his mid-sixties youth-baiting material long before LAVERNE AND SHIRLEY snapped into being) but a pre-Muhammed Ali Cassius Clay trying to restrain himself while Lewis and Foster give him the biz for being such a blowhard! And yeah, I gotta admit that anyone who isn't a twelve-year-old boy would find sitting through this program tough noogies, but then again I gotta admit that I like THE JERRY LEWIS SHOW for rating a good early-sixties piece of television entertainment that does tend to excite at least the inner pre-curlsprout in me. I could see a good portion of the young Beaver Cleaver set watching on a non-school night when they would be allowed to stay up past ten, and considering what kid-dom meant at that time this is surely a compliment.

And even the closing segment with Lewis fighting back a tear talking about our fallen commando in chief as well as his Muscular Distrophy "kids" (I guess Kennedy's assassination put the kibosh not only on Lewis' series, but a planned telethon too!) shows that the man really was Mr. Humility! A phony renaissance man showbiz great true, but I'll take him over Jon Stewart anyday!

So here's THE JERRY LEWIS SHOW "almost" in its entirety and in order so's that you can watch it in sequence by just clicking the arrow in the middle of the pic and going down the line. I'm sure a good time will be had by all, that is if you put yourself in the same mindset as some pre-pubescent boy who was really big on Lewis at the time and it's 1963 and yer in yer perjammies and all you can think about is Christmas break a few weeks away and all that fun stuff that went along with being a kid during one of the best times on this earth to be one! C'mon, it works! I should know because I've been viewing life through that entire philosophy long after people were tellin' me I shoulda known better, and if anyone on this planet is a living walking example of arrested development circa age 12 it's none other than memeME!!!!!




















2 comments:

J.D. King said...

Two hours... He had to fill up TWO HOURS....

Doomed...

BTW, a little bird tells me that you get a tip-o'-the-hat in the Thurston/Coley no wave book.

Christopher said...

A tip-o'-the-duncecap maybe...