AT THE STROKE OF MIDNIGHT...
...that's when I'm gonna post this mess I "whipped up" for your entertainment. Well, what better time to sneak this damaging rot out to an unwary populace than under the cover of darkness anyway? I mean, politicians do this sorta sneaky chicanery all the time singing into laws all sorta disgusting bits of legislative kookery while everyone else is asleep and frankly who am I to argue with such shrewd craftiness????
***Various Artists-BOOBS (the junkshop glam discotheque) CD; GLITTERBEST (20 pre-punk 'n' glam terrace stompers) CD (both on RPM, available through Bomp!)
I remember reading the first part of Charlotte Pressler's history of the Cleveland "First Wave" underground in CLE #3-A where she mentioned the glitter/glam rock movement of the early-seventies as kind of being like a sick joke, an embarrassment to the wild and wooly world of rock & roll, or as she wrote akin to a fart at a formal dinner. At the time I read this piece (January 1980) glitter rock was pretty much a dead issue for a good half-decade, with its main practitioners either switching styles, retiring from music or, as in the case of Marc Bolan, dying. And really, from the safe and still-thriving underground rock scene vantage point of 1980 glam rock sure seemed like a long time ago, almost as much a distant memory as early-sixties smart pop or late-fifties innovation. And of course it must've seemed like that to more than a few rockists out there since Ken Barnes' glam overview that appeared in BOMP's "Power Pop" issue, written and published in 1978, came off as far removed from the current day as surf music or folk rock, and that was only three years after the fact!!!
Johan Kugelberg's article on junkshop glam singles in the still-swimming-in-my-memory latest issue of UGLY THINGS (which is to 2008 what BOMP! and PHONOGRAM RECORD MAGAZINE were to 1976 and KICKS to 1985 and don't let anyone tell you different!) spurred me on to picking up these two fairly recent glitter collections in the hope that some of the records mentioned in that article would show up here. As far as I can tell I batted a pretty low average in scoring any of the rarities yapped about in that piece, but at least I grabbed onto some good enough ne'er-before-heard tunes that I'm sure will benefit me and my "blinkered" set of musical values somewhere in the not so distant future.
The first disque listened to's called BOOBS, and although we don't get to see any of 'em on the cover nor in the enclosed insert who can blame RPM for giving this collection of poppy glitz such a naughty title anyway? I mean, they gotta sell disques don't they, but despite the hotsy totsy come on I gotta say that this collection of teen pop slop for English gals who shoulda been spending their time brushing their teeth more is a good enough introduction to the more teenybop aspects of glam. Lacking the bite of the harder glitter acts, the groups on BOOBS do have a certain swagger and style about 'em, and although I found most of this more girly than I had wished I sure got more than a few kicks outta some of the gunk that was included, like Screamer's "Ballroom Blitz" swipe and Iron Cross' remake of "Little Bit O' Soul". For additional laffs, just get a load of Kim Fowley a.k.a. "Jimmy Jukebox" doing outboard motor lip-flubbers on "Motor Boat"! But lacking the inherent punkitude that made up the better portion of glam, BOOBS pretty much displays the more polished efforts that, despite their commercialbility, sunk like I'm sure a good portion of similar bandwagon jump-ons did back in those particulary money-grubbing days.
I much prefer companion disc GLITTERBEST which shows the hard, more punk rocky side of glam as it slowly but surely slid into the beautiful miasma of what would eventually propel all that was good about late-seventies rock. True a good portion of this 'un consists of goodies that can be found elsewhere in your collection, and the inclusion of Ducks Deluxe and Peter Perrett's England's Glory is questionable even if "City of Fun" fits in with the more Velvets-inclined offerings to be found, but otherwise only a turdball would complain about the over energetic programming and general atmosphere of GLITTERBEST which actually comes off instant party even if one or two flops might show up in the mix. You get three Jesse Hector tracks (always a good sign especially since I hadn't heard his '72 post-Crushed Butler outfit Helter Skelter), as well as even more snappy English proto-punkazoid platters from the likes of kiddieshow faves Flintlock and Streak which really helps turn this collection into a nice stomper that'll hold me until I can find my copy of DESOLATION BOULEVARD. GLITTERBEST does play it "safe" a bit, but the overall results are so pure (as in what I'd imagine a good 1976 "party tape" would sound like, if I happened to have been invited to any parties in 1976 that is!) that you don't know what genre you'll be listening to as the six-oh punk of One Hit Wonders has you thinking PEBBLES one minute and the pre-Ultravox Tiger Lily's got you zoning in on sub-Roxy Music smarm the next. Heck, even the Chris Spedding/Vibrators "Pogo Dancing" track appears here and that sure brings back memories of the first time I even heard about punk rock since this was the disque in question being mentioned! If you're nostalgic for import bins, boy will this disc come in handy!
Charlie Feathers-WILD SIDE OF LIFE; HONKY TONK KIND; LONG TIME AGO (rare and unissued recordings vols. one through three) CDs (Norton)
Gotta say that if there's one form of rock & roll music that I don't feel qualified to ramble on about, it's rockabilly. (Certain detractors may say that I wouldn't be qualified to review any types of music, but what do Paul Robeson fans know other than how to mimick that noted communist's inherent pomposity???) Oh yeah, thanks to Bill Shute (who pretty much lambasted me for my total ignorance of the form back in '82 thus shaming me into listening to some choice tapes he graciously made for me) I can still drag out an occasional mid/late-fifties slurpy juicy hiccuppin' rocker (or even ballad!) by one of a million rockabilly greats out there and listen to it with the whole whatziz of music enjoyment firmly intact, but I just gotta admit that rockabilly music just ain't that big a deal in my musical DNA! Once you get down to it, I probably am one of those snoots who thinks that ALL rock & roll music began in the mid-sixties with the original NUGGETS era of garage band mania, and since that music was still current-enough history and relevant to the various moderne-day music I was gobbling up with a passion what else would you expect outta a horse-blindered poseur like myself! Stuff before that...well it coulda been good for all I know, but to this kiddo it was ancient history that perhaps seemed about as interesting to me in a historical sense as memorizing dates and battles in school, as if this stuff was gonna help you get jobs and pay raises and other real life things when you got older!
But, thanks to Shute and the fine folks at Norton, at least now I can tell a rockabilly song from Billy Ray Cyrus which only makes it all the better for me to enjoy this three-Cee-Dee set of rockabilly rarities that were laid down by none other than the legendary rockabilly creator and master of the form Charlie Feathers. A nice chronological collection of familiar and unreleased goodies compiled by Billy Miller (Norton's male half and the one who writes the more scabrous and naughty entries in the Norton catalog), these three shiny silver dollars are one bop ticket to just exactly what this rab stuff was supposed to have implemented in more than a few teenage minds back in the day. Like a good portion of the 'billy music sounds of the time this is low-fi and very unpolished (many of these tracks were recorded in less-than-ECM-quality studios) which of course only adds to the overall excitement. Feathers' singing is of course in fine form, and what's best about it all is that the early-slurpers on disc one and the final recordings on the #3 sound as if they coulda been taken from the same era only with an upgrade in sound quality giving the not-so-big secret away! I'm sure glad that Feathers never bothered to "progress", because in no way could I have seen him stammering the entire Yes catalog while bass-slapping synthesizers oozed on by!
Liner notes are (as usual) veddy informative and shed a whole lotta light (as do the Cee-Dee closer interview snippets!) and while I still think that I'm as qualified to review this music as Michael Musto is qualified to review a Miss Universe pageant, like the old bald coot lookin' at the pic of the nude lady said, "I may not know art, but I know what I like!"
***SO LONG, CHARLEY: Not that the news is really gonna make the standard BLOG TO COMM reader shed buckets of tears, but I thought it would make a good post-ender to mention the retirement (after fifty-plus years on the job!) of one of my favorite polly-tickle columnists as of late, Charley Reese. Although I didn't discover Reese until I entered into the age of internet and chanced upon the Lew Rockwell website, since that fateful day I've followed him and his thrice-weekly columns which have been posted on lewrockwell.com and other sites for the seven or so years that I have been linked up. Too bad I found out about Reese way too late in his career for after all those years of being a "newspaperman" (as they used to call 'em) his exit from the "political journalist" game only means that there's one less good columnist out there to read. In this day and age that pretty much amounts to a dearth, especially considering how few good commentators there are in not only in the papers but on the internet which I thought was supposed to open up the world to a whole passel of new and interesting opinions and ideas that your local fishwrap always seemed to poo-poo in favor of the safe and mainstream mode of editorializing.
Reese was (not that he's passed away, please don't get that idea!) what the lowbrow reader would call "conservative", yet unlike the vast number of modern-day conservative writers who seem to be nothing more than shills for whatever the Republican Party deems holy this week (of which there is nothing intrinsically wrong despite the spiritual deserts both of the major parties have wandered into as of late, but it does make for yawn-inspiring reading) Reese definitely was of another era and very certainly was not a cheerleader for many things which the GOP had evolved into. His take seemed more or less born of the older conservatism (Goldwater-esque perhaps, traditionalist in a sense) that the Party sold out on long beforehand which naturally placed Reese far out of the Party mainstream, but if you ask me that only made him all the more a "maverick" and thankfully not in a safe John McCain sense!
In many ways it seems as if Reese was truly a holdover from the old days of newspaper reporting, at least the days when the entire biz seemed like a pretty rough and tumble career for one to fall into. It would figure, since Reese often talked about his years first as a reporter and then as a journalist and just how much the entire newspaper reporting game had changed (seemingly for the worse) since the fifties. Back then (at least according to Reese) your standard big city papers seemed to be run by editors who made Perry White look like Mr. Rogers with their heavy drinking, smoking and cursing up a storm. Even a fistfight or two wouldn't be out of place in the workplace. These same rooms now come off like day care centers in comparison but whatever, it always seemed as if Reese was somehow still back in those old-time typewriter and bottle-inna-drawer newsrooms with the incessant clicking of teletypes which did lend a certain amount of straightforwardness to his columns that's hardly seen today if ever.
His style was to-the-point yet never smug or self-aggrandizing. In fact at times it seemed like a cross between your standard forties/fifties editorializing and maybe a bit of the Deep South of Reese's heritage tossed in. For some odd reason I am reminded of a bunch of 1970-vintage editions of THE (SHARON) HERALD that I had come across while going through boxes recently (saved for who-knows-what reason other than one edition was the first [non-Sharon] HERALD with a new, slimmed-down look) in which I was surprised at not only the strong establishment take on the radical youth of the day (which certainly held no bars and was beautifully caustic towards the new kultur!) but the simple, straightforward, talkin' atcha style that seems to have vanished from the editorial page right around the time the hippoid generation began taking hold of the reigns in the seventies and turned your local reads into bright and preppy imitation ROLLING STONEs. You could say that the tables have turned, definitely for the worse because the same kinda papers are now nothing but gabswells for the exact kind of cretin that they originally stood against! Mencken certainly wouldn't recognize a newsroom if he were to step into one today, and Reese certainly lived to see the great change right before his very eyes.
Reese never was popular, and I'm sure his column appeared in very few papers (those that didn't drop him due to "controversy" with his syndicate, King Features, thankfully sticking with him through thick and thin). Generally the man was "left out in the cold" when he should have been read by more than the few who did, but let's face it, the whole conservative/Republican "big tent" never felt it a good idea to include the likes of Reese into their open arms (yeah!), perhaps because the man was more or less prone to stomp on the party line whenever he had to. He felt pity for the Palestinians and was occasionally trounced upon for being an "anti-semite" because of it, yet he never said anything bad about the Israelis or Jews as a whole and had great pity for the younger generation of Israelites for what he saw their leaders doing which ultimately will only lead to more grief on all sides. Although he was not a religious man by any means he knew exactly what Christianity (especially Catholicism) has done for Western Civilization pretty much in the same vein as other non-believers such as Wyndham Lewis and of course Mencken, and even admitted to subscribing to THE WANDERER which is a paper which makes most right-leaning religious reads absolutely blanch in comparison. With the continual trouncing on believers by libertines of all stripes I gotta say that is was sure refreshing to read Reese's articles on the subject where he basically told the liberal-leaning "faithful" where to get off in their critiques of "backwards" belief. He also seemed befuddled by, and very hateful towards George W. Bush which I'm sure led to less and less "pundits" quoting him, sorta in the same fashion that radio personalities who used to mention Paul Craig Roberts at every opportunity have deemed him persona non gratis ever since Roberts aired his strong anti-war/Bush streak. And for being a Southerner, Reese never flinched from admitting his love for his land of birth and setting the record straight with regards to black/white relationships below the Mason/Dixon line. In fact, the man even admitted to I'm sure a few unsuspecting readers that he grew up with blacks while living in an integrated area (only certain parts of the South, too many parts but not the whole area, were in fact segregated, as they were up in the supposedly racism-free North), and although there certainly were places in which a black man could get trounced for looking at a white the wrong way it wasn't like that all over and certainly not where he was. Well, it sure is a refreshing change from hearing that same Northeastern White Guilt Trip that we've been inundated with for years on end, usually by political mountebanks who wouldn't go near a black area within a good ten mile radius!
No wonder all of those conservative sites which link up the big guns of the "movement" always stuck Reese's column way in the back of the bus with the "also rans" while pushing to their hearts content the stars, most of them either mooshy neocons who have all the goo of your standard seventies liberal blabbermouths or Press Release rehashers whom I do not bother to waste my time on. These people never did get it right, which is why guys like Reese or Joseph Sobran always received the short end of the stick (I mean, how many times have you seen them interviewed on tee-vee?) but really, what else is old, especially with the general media circus seemingly run by either "New" Conservatives who showed their true colors with their nagging denunciations of Ron Paul this past political season (pardon my continuous dragging of this dead issue, but it does irk me all these months later!), or equally tiring run of the mouth liberal snobs like Keith Olbermann, none of whom could equal the intelligence and wit of Mr. Reese of whom NOBODY really got to know.
(Oh, and I should say that Reese does have at least one fan of note, mainly Russell Desmond of CAN'T BUY A THRILL fame which might just show the higher current of pure political thought that runs amongst certain fanzine warhorses this far into the postmodern age!)
You can read Reese's final column, a more than fitting and perhaps "touching" farewell here, and like me I hope you'll be scouring the links to earlier columns that Lew Rockwell has provided us with on his site. Well, going through those would sure be a far less odious task than to read the collected works of comparatively lesser men such as Don Feder or Ellen Goodman (no pun intended, but really, I'm sure you have your doubts too!), and with Sobran temporarily suspending publication who knows where I'll have to turn to for more of that great paleocon scribing that seems to be in such short supply these days.