RETURN OF THE SON OF THE MONSTER BLOGPOST!
Hey, managed to whip up a fairly good-sized midweek post for your mortification! Sure is good to get back into the swing of writing about music after a short respite, and lemme tell ya I sure did miss speakin' atcha 'bout some of the recent and not-so releases that have grazed my ears o'er the past few days! Unfortunately the high-energy thrills (mostly of an archival nature) have not been gracing the ol' laser launching pad as of late, but hopefully the hot stuff will be winging its way more sooner than later at which time we can all do more than a little jams kicking! Stay tuned.
Before we get on to the meat and potatoes, lemme just note that, as expected, Barack Obama was elected to the presidency, just narrowly edging out chief competitor Herman Munster by a scant few votes. Nice try Herman, but really, if you won, I don't think they would have let you ascend to the throne anyway. I mean, are you really a naturalized citizen? Well, maybe PARTS of you are, but unless they could find out the national origin of your spleen I doubt you really would've had a chance. But as far as this Obama character goes, I gotta admit that he's already making me sick to my stomach and he ain't even president yet! I mean, just get an eye and earload of alla these "New Day in America" slices of gloppy goo we're now reading/hearing from the usual assortment of red-tinged leftoid pundits...it sure make me wanna go toss more than yesterday's cookies I'll tell ya!
While I do some gut-puking at the nearby bog, here are some reviews for you to chew on, or throw up for that matter!
THE BEACH BOYS AND THE SATAN DVD (ABC Entertainment, England)
When it comes to documentary films, I tend to hate the li'l buggers to the point where I will, like posthaste and without forethought, move in the exact opposite direction of wherever one one of these cinematic atrocities is being shown. I don't care if thing is born of the extreme left (take a variety of pro-communist atrocities that PBS had been showing in the late-eighties, not to mention Michael Moore's various anti-capitalist spiels I believe he may have made a profit off of which would make him a hypocrite, though a fuzzy acceptable to his followers one) or of a more sound political bearing like the hyped-to-me INDOCTRINATE U, documentaries are mostly boring, preachy slices of mindcramming guilt and shame being forced upon you, and if your mind is already made up good and well like it should be all you feel like is as if you've been forced into a re-education camp for two hours without having to sing creaky acoustic guitar cantatas regarding the greatness of the one called Ho.
So rilly, I don't know why I even bothered in the first place to snatch up a DVD of this '97 documentary that is being hyped as some sorta hard-nosed look at the connection between the Southern Californian Fun and Games of the sixties surf scene in general, the Beach Boys in particular, and their various connections with the Dark Magus Manson and his various satellites. Despite my better knowledge I just hadda, because the subject matter seemed so tasty, and thoughts of heretofore unknown facts regarding the interlockings between the Boys and the Magic Elf were pretty tempting even for a penny-pinching rockism hound like myself! That and the fact that Special Guest Appearances by such peripherally-connected electrodes as Kenneth Anger and Anton La Vey were being promised had me revving up the ol' drool factor well into overdrive but alas, the come on's are one again more intriguing than the actual product.
Basically whatcha get in THE BEACH BOYS AND THE SATAN is a kraut documentary from a decade-plus back that deals with the history of the group in general, surf music in particular, Southern California somewhat, and the occult presence of Manson kinda. Like many documentaries, the results are kinda jib jab jump all over the place with archival footage, interviews with Kim Fowley (!), David "Crocus Behemoth" Thomas (!!) and Brian Wilson himself sorta being tossed into a story that goes from early-sixties fun and games to the inevitable burn-out as the goodtime sixties fade into the mooshy seventies. Like just about every other documentary I've seen as of late it lacks cohesiveness, but it sure looks nice even if it crams way too much information (while leaving a lot out) into such a short time span.
Not that the whole thing is a total bust...some of the film clips, like a brief bit of the Chantays on THE LAWRENCE WELK SHOW which I never knew about and the Boys themselves singing "In My Room" were fine enough, but I'll bet they can be watched on youtube without any interruptions or voice overs. Of course Fowley is his snide jaded self and I wonder how Thomas was ever able to wiggle his way into this 'un, but I guess any exposure for him is good exposure so why not get his fave in front of the public a little more often than not. The only things you see regarding Kenneth Anger are some clips from LUCIFER RISING plus a brief excerpt from an interview where he tells his side of the story regarding the original '67 version (later more or less re-cut into INVOCATION OF MY DEMON BROTHER) being stolen and buried somewhere in Death Valley. (And while I'm at it, the clip from that film which the narrator purports to be Bobby Beausoliel is clearly not him, as any student of Manson, Anger or Beausoliel could tell you.) Heck, I can't even find La Vey in here anywhere other than perhaps a passing mention, so why all the plastic cover fuss? But other than that, like I said its just another Beach Boys documentary which mixes the info and the theories to middling effect, and I can't see anyone other than the hardest of hardcore fans who don't mind hearing that whole post-PULP FICTION rap caring enough to see this thing in the first place. Made for interesting diversion.
***VARIOUS ARTISTS-MESSTHETICS GREATEST HISS...CLASSICS OF U.K. CASSETTE-CULTURE D.I.Y. 1977-1982 (VOLUME 1) (Messthetics, availabe through Forced Exposure)
Yeah, this is way outta my self-imposed timespan, but even if early-eighties Britain reminds me of nothing but a nation just bursting with a load of lower-class crybabies with their squatters rights, inbred "entitlements" and expensive musical gear making their own records despite their moans of poverty, the place did put out some exciting music. Even in the post-underground rock era of the early-eighties when the mass of punk humpty dumptied into a number of subgenres never to be united again! Fortunately a lotta groups were able to put their musings to cassette, and as we all know there was a thriving "cassette culture" going on over there a good thirty or so years back which is finally getting "documented" for lack of a better term by the Hyped2death people, and if you ask me maybe it is just about time someone did!
True, a lotta these cassette creeps were pretty lame jagoffs who got their jollies trading inane paradiddles with musicians of a more serious mode, but there were some mighty good 'uns in amidst the usual "experimentations" one might have come across during the day. This particular volume of MESSTHETICS attempts to segregate the wheat from the chaff and give you ample servings of both in the process. After listening to these great under-the-counterculture rock rants and raves all I gotta say is that Ted Mack never had the problems that the Rev. Warner had in putting this collection together, for this is Amateur Hour redux, and at least Warner gives us a good idea of what was transpiring in the bedrooms and alleyways of UK during this rather confused time in English rock history which I must admit was a lot more than I ever bargained for.
Some of the selections on GREATEST HISS are snat enough to have appeared on actual vinyl, with a group such as Digital Dinosaurs soaring pretty good with their late-punky "Baby Snakes" and Casual Laborers fitting well enough into the Rough Trade style with "A Lapse is Due". Others are good enough folk-punky singalongy things while others tend to overwork the new casiotone technology with music that kinda wooshed by while I was doing my nightly fanzine duties. Still some of MESSTHETICS GREATEST HISS seems like the typical bedroom tape joking about that just about everyone has indulged in to a certain extent and to various levels of success. My favorite of this bunch is Mike Jones' "Reckless Politics" which has our hero singing his punky lyrics to a record skip which, given the tape-loop riffing of many of the English punksters of the time, sounds as if it coulda been an actual non-skip intentional punk riff!
Much of GREATEST HISS tends to fall into a category better suited for other blogs who are more attuned to the "post-punk" (yawn!) spectrum of rock & roll, but I found this a nice change of pace from the usual goings on here at BTC central. Anyway, I guess it proves that if Swell Maps could get started like this, so could a whole nationfulla maladjusted dosh-hating poseurs with their electric guitars bought at Woolworths and music lessons copped off of repeated Subway Sect spins!
***HEAVY METAL KIDS (Atlantic, burned CD-R)
Here's the first one from the package Paul McGarry sent, a copy of what I presume is the day-beyw Heavy Metal Kids album from '74. The Heavy Metal Kids were one of those bands that I pretty much ignored back when I recall seeing their name plastered all over certain issues of MELODY MAKER, and all these years later I gotta say that I'm kinda glad that I didn't give 'em the time of day sorta in the same way I'm still mad at myself for not being around anyone who woulda tipped me off to the Stooges when I needed 'em the most. Don't expect any metallic moves from these guys (in fact, they claimed no allegiance to HM proper!), but then again there seems to be none of the smarm-smart of the usual Burroughs-inspired groups anywhere in their sound either. Even Steely Dan had some semblence of gnarl, even if it was from their overuse of smack! Mostly hard rock pomp with maybe a few good mid-seventies chord changes and production moves tossed in. Nothing for the archives, though.
***Dr. Mix and the Remix-WALL OF NOISE CD (Mix It, try Forced Exposure)
Coulda sworn that I reviewed the original Cee-Dee release of this 'un on the Bondage label a year or so back, but I guess not. Anyhow I now have two variations on this famed garage band release on Cee-Dee, and although both of them include the exact same version of the Rough Trade album this update's got four additional tracks in case you're a stickler for completeness and want the entire kit and caboodle. The additional material ranges from especially trance-y takes of "Hey Joe" and "You Really Got Me" to a Metal Boys remodel that did catch me by surprise. If you're one of the few unfortunates who want to know what Dr. Mix sounds like before actually latching onto a copy of this, their style was kinda like cheap Suicide riff rock with equally cheap guitar twang here and there and perhaps even some budget organ thrown in to make the sound even more of an addled take on cult rock fashioned through 1981 post-underground glasses. Dr. Mix did hold a special place in the hearts of English garageophiliacs as an article recounting a live show of theirs actually got published in the pages of...THE TIMES OF LONDON?!?!?!?!?!?!
***VARIOUS ARTISTS-SPRIGS OF TIME, 78s FROM THE EMI ARCHIVE CD (Honest Jon's Records, England, available through Forced Exposure)
I dunno what's so special about the idea of some loner guy searching the vaults of EMI Records (in "Hayes, Middlesex, England" as the cover always said) and compiling a number of very-loosely-related 78s onto a compact disque, but that's just what this effort is and although I'm confused about the whys and wherefores of it I guess that the innerlecktual snoots think highly of it. Sheesh, my very own copy came with a front shrinkwrap sticker complete with a quote from THE NEW YORK TIMES and if those snobbish New Yorkers like this thing then something's gotta be wrong with it!
All funnin' aside, for a half-baked grab bag collection this does contain interesting shards that probably would never be heard again if not for this release. From 1920's vintage gamelan recordings to some old fogey singing English folk songs to Mideast fifties-era trad pop the kind you hear on Detroit radio Sunday afternoons, at least SPRIGS OF TIME presents a variety of cross-cultural numbers that I'm sure zoomed under a whole lotta our radarscopes whether we wanted them to or not. My personal faves include Jean Mpia's "Tembele", an African folk song that could have been a surprise early-sixties hit like Ray Baretto's "El Watusi", Sarcasa's "Rumba Negro" (for those who mourn the loss of the Desi Arnaz Orchestra) and the Imperial Palace Band's "Seigatha", this moody slice of a tone poem recorded in Tokyo, 1903!