ROLL ON, BIG O!
Not much to write about t'day but that's not gonna stop me from postin'...anyway, here's a li'l gem I discovered while digging through youtube lookin' for old BEETLE BAILEY cartoons, and considering this artyfact's importance in the annals of CLEVELAND UNDERGROUND ROCK 'N ROLL I thought I'd share it with you thus garnering even more rockism brownie points (heaven knows I need 'em!). Yes, it's none other than the great Lawson's "Roll On, Big O" orange juice commercial that was pretty much part and parcel to local tee-vee programming ever since I can remember! Up until the early seventies (maybe even later but I doubt it) "Roll On Big O" could be heard oozing from tee-vee sets across the tri-county area and at least for me it was one of those things that, like BARNEY BEAN, HONEYMOONERS reruns and Gordon Ward ads, was part of the local television scene until it suddenly disappeared for seemingly all time and I sure felt like a jerk for taking such things for granted. But now thanks to the miracle of internet the Big O lives on, and maybe for once some of you people outside of the Youngstown television market can appreciate the sorta cheap gulcheral experience that molded me into the complete and adequate human being that I am today!
Of course you all know this song from the Electric Eels' boss cover version recorded live at the Viking Saloon January '75, but where else are you going to see the original version filmed in full-bloomin' color (a rarity for an early-sixties commercial...perhaps this was a re-do?)! Sticklers please take note: not only did Dave E omit the tough guy folkie Oscar Brand-ish spoken intro (which dates this ad from at least '62 when the folk boom was just beginnin' to bust wide open) but he left out the verse about the oranges ripening in the Florida sun as well! (By the way, considering how the Eels predated the whole new wave late-fifties/early-mid-sixties nostalgia swipe by a good four years with such things as "Big O" and the theme from THE PATTY DUKE SHOW don't you think they should be awarded at least a li'l rockism no prize award, especially since these guys were doing that whole baby boomer trip a lot earlier and better than all of those B-52s clones put together?) But all jokin' aside, enjoy this in the sanctity of your own bowel-gas laden bedroom as I am, and while I'm at it, do you Youngstown-area tee-vee kiddies happen to remember this 'un being aired either during or directly after SUPERCAR on Saturday nights??? For some reason the two are inseparable to me.
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
ROLL ON, BIG O!
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!
***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!
***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.
***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!!!!!
Posted by Christopher Stigliano at 8:12 AM
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Marble Sheep-OLD FROM NEW HEADS CD (Captain Trip, Japan)
Back when Eddie Flowers sent me a free copy of this one (in order to spur movement of a sagging back catalog I originally mused) I really didn't get as hopped up about the Marble Sheep even with their hefty references to 1968 Amon Duul (of both the I and II varieties) communal riffing. In fact, after reviewing the bastid for one of those blursville mid/late-nineties editions of my own fanzine I filed my copy away if only because the '87 date was way outside the scope of my own sense of post-psychedelic mayhem. I mean, I actually lived through 1987 and let me tell you it was the least psychedelic year in memory that I can think of so how mind-expanding could this Cee-Dee be anyway? However with the relatively recent (at least within the decade) interest in high-powered Japanese psychedelic groups overtaking the hearts and minds of anal-retentive rock fandomites the same way krautrock was the hipster retromovement of the nineties and sixties garage bands of the eighties I found myself digging this recording from the earliest incarnation of the Sheep and as usual this sounds a lot better now than it did in the bleak realm of the mid/late-nineties!
Of course there are a number of reasons as to why this should be. For one, time has softened this old turd and for another, I am not being inundated with recordings of a variety of styles, shapes and sizes like I was then meaning I can certainly schmooze more with this in the here and now without having to worry about the ten cartloads of subpar amerindie sputum that I was receiving back in the day! But whatever, OLD FROM NEW HEADS is a classic psychedelic album no matter what year it was recorded, and for being an offering of Japanese heritage these guys sure knew how to kraut it up to the point where if somebody told me these were actual recordings made by either the legendary Amon Duuls III or IV I would certainly believe the charlatan who would perpetrate such lies!
Most of HEADS is good teutonic retro rock sorta sounding like the early Amon Duuls coming to an understanding in '69 or so, that is before Marble Sheep begin to sound like they're refurbishing Mirrors' "She Smiled Wild" or the Deviants on a bum trip. But mostly HEADS has that great Japanese sense of 1967-vintage psychedelic pride that thankfully lasted there a lot longer than it did in the US or England (DOA '69) or even Germany, which kept the psyche spirit alive for a long longer period than anyone could imagine. Feedback screeching and tribal pounding certainly do make for good recordings, and frankly I can't think of a better zone back to better times'n slapping something like this on the ol' laser launch pad along with other choice sockodelic platters for a tussle that'll make you wish the world had ended by '80 like it shoulda!
Dunno if Captain Trip still has this one available...Slippytown don't have 'em no more which is a bad sign, but I'm sure that with the proper digging and a good ebay bid you too can become the proud owner of this Japanese rock classic. But whatever you do, in the sage words of Bela Lugosi "bevare", for I understand that later Marble Sheep recordings might steer a little too close to the more hippified Grateful Dead style which might suit you, but frankly I have better ways to lose my braincells. Whatever you do please do a little more researching before you decide to delve further out from the safe confines of this surprisingly consciousness-razing disc.
Posted by Christopher Stigliano at 7:31 PM
Sunday, April 20, 2008
FINDING HIS VOICE
Talk about rarities! Here's a '29 Max Fleischer animated cartoon that I haven't seen since catching it through a heavy duty layer of snow on WVIZ-TV's OLD MOVIES, THE GOLDEN ERA a longer time ago than I'd care to remember. (Twas on a special short subjects episode of the program which also featured, if I recall correctly, THE GREAT TRAIN ROBBERY, a Disney Alice short complete with a thirties soundtrack [undoubtedly a latterday reissue] and a VOICE OF HOLLYWOOD hosted by Don Alvarado with a special appearance by none other than Mickey Daniels and Mary Kornman post-Our Gang and pre-Boyfriends...I can still remember host Stu Levin pointing out that the rolling camera could be heard on the soundtrack if we listened close enough as well as mocking Daniels and Kornman for whatever long-forgotten reason he had!) Anyway, it's sure good to see this neglected rarity again even though I remember a different ending where the characters unravel themselves while singing "Goodnight Ladies" (!), but whatever the outcome can you think of a better example of a propaganda short custom-made to hype the sound-on-film method then battling it out against the sound-on-disc format?
Posted by Christopher Stigliano at 1:47 PM
Saturday, April 19, 2008
Taku Sugimoto-MIENAI TENSHI LP (Weird Forest, available through Forced Exposure)
Actually, I got my copy of this limited edition (500 only) long player from Volcanic Tongue Scotland way, but it looks like it's outta stock at that venerable mail order biz so I wouldn't go 'round buggin' 'em for any right now. Forced Exposure still has 'em, so if you're in the mood for a guitar freakout album that comes complete with an all-black cover (which'll certainly confuse you if you have the first Drunks With Guns album as well as the Velvet Underground's BLACK ALBUM bootleg in your collection) you better get it asap before you'll be feeling sorry for yourself having missed out while you had the chance. And believe-you-me, I know what that's all about...feeling sorry for myself, that is!
Sugimoto's one of those guitar-manglers who's been in on the fertile Japanese underground scene for quite some time, but like a lotta these new psychedelic freakout mavericks from the Land of the Rising Whatever I've ignored him out of lack of spare change more than anything. Only because of a nagging curiosity (and a neat come-on that Volcanic Tongue gave this disc using the usual hotcha drag-'em-in reference points guaranteed to make me part with my moolah) did I snatch this one up from the bowels of obscurity, but although I wasn't quite expecting yet another Les Rallizes Denudes hard-rock thump I didn't think it would exactly come to this...
All kidding aside, on this '88 recording Sugimoto plays nothing but his whacked-out electric for about a total of twenty or so minutes without taking a breath, doing something that's really not that much different from a lot of other similar freeform guitar excursions that I've heard over my entire (ahem!) "career" of writing things about pre-recorded sound. Pretty exhilarating, life-reaffirming stuff too even though the thing seems to end a lot sooner than one would expect. But there seems to be a certain dimension to the overall approach lacking somewhere...now, I won't deny that this album, good as it may be, ain't got the meat of a Sonny Sharrock or the control of a Bruce Anderson (or the splatter of a Rudolph Grey or the electro-shock of a Von Lmo), and at least to me Sugimoto ranks perhaps a step or two lower than these famed avant gardists offering not quite as much of a promised guitar bashout as I was kinda hoping for. And given how little I know of Sugimoto's career I really can't compare this to any of the other solo guitar recordings he has made since nor his work in various groups. It's just that the resultant stew lacks a little something besides a band to accompany him. Perhaps the lure of hearing that this was recorded under the spell of the Velvets and MC5 was enough to perhaps cloud my reasoning with regards to where my hard-earned is directed for those rare purchasing excursions, but even on a garage band level it doesn't quite come 100% up to snuff.
Aww really, for a blast of hard-edged noise MIENAI TENSHI is worth whatever you'd care to plunk down for it and serious noise-rock fans probably already know about it and have it in their collections at this time. However, if I hadda do it all over again I'd save it for after I've heard every shard of guitar strangulation extant by the likes of the above-mentioned thrusters as well as a few more who are bound to be discovered lurking beneath the underground even as we speak. There's always room in my heart and record collection for platters as atonal as this and really, how can anyone with their third eye as near-sighted as mine really ignore such an accomplishment in unbridled atonality even if a lotta similar works are even more cacophonistic. I'm sure a few decades from now when whoever inherits my discs settles back with some antique turntable and plays this album, he (or maybe even she) witll probably stand up and say..."well, I guess there just wasn't much to do in 2008, eh?"
Posted by Christopher Stigliano at 7:07 PM
Thursday, April 17, 2008
Big Brother and the Holding Company-LIVE THRILLS CD (Big Svr, bootleg); TRIBAL STOMP CD (Head Germany, bootleg)
I know I have a number of new-to-grace-mine-ears recordings that I'm sure most of you avid readers would want to know all about and the sooner the better, but in its 'stead I thought I'd just re-acquaint myself, as well as the gathered COMM-sters amongst us, with this review of a couple now-rare bootleg disques of value and worth that've been hitting the ol' Cee-Dee launching pad as of late. Spurred on by my review of the Deviants/Pink Fairies book a couple days back, I decided to stretch way deep down into my collection for these two Big Brother and the Holding Company platters if only to remind myself of what the Amerigan side of psychedelia could come up with on a good day, and naturally these solid sons (and daughter) of ol' San Fran don't let me down one bit, not even a smidgen! And believe-it-or-not, but mentioning this not-so-obscure fact especially to a rabble-roused bunch as you readers most certainly are is quite a surprise coming from my fingertips because a good time back the mere sight of Big Brother, especially that of twisted guitarist James Gurley with a feather in his hair, was more than enough to make me do a little vomiting in order to cleanse the system of dinge overload! My how times have changed!!!
LIVE THRILLS is a hodgepodge of various Big Brother tracks supposedly taken from Marty Balin's Matrix club in '67, and despite the weak sound (and the tendency not to play on various home entertainment systems) I find these performances rather breathtaking. Big Brother, despite their tacky "hippie" name and associations with the more counter of the counterculture scammers of the time, were frankly a pretty head-on avant-rock group, almost on the same plane as such late-sixties stompers as the MC5 and even fellow Friscans Blue Cheer. And although Gurley surely would have been put to much better use had his family stayed in Detroit and he joined some hot combo there I must say that his shattering leads are more than enough to make any true pal of the late-sixties crunch brigade sit up and take notice. Too bad the locals were always dumping on these guys, for they really were too good for SF just like Moby Grape and of course Blue Cheer not forgetting the Flamin' Groovies who seemed way out of the West Coast hippie loop anyways. In a just world, one mighty solo from Gurley would have been enough to have the soon-to-be-burned hippie populace of the place mutter "Jerry Who???", but as we all know the entire place went from hip to hack in such a short time along with the clientele of the ballroom scene for that sorry matter.
And as for Janis...well, I used to hate the mangy dyke just like you did, but after a good quarter-century (or at least until after I read Lester Bangs' praiseworthy mention of Big Brother in his "Roots of Punk" article that NEW WAVE ROCK published back in '78) I shamefully must admit that yeah, I have grown strangely accustomed to her voice. Not exactly her face, but then again my mug ain't exactly the stuff of dreams either and I sure can empathize with Janis for the way she was treated by school kids and all of those haughty types who voted her the ugliest broad on the campus back in the early sixties. Sure the lady didn't look like Bardot nor sing like Maria Callas, but you can bet your bottom dollar that all those cubesville dorks who did their best to make Janis feel as low as she did were eating their hearts out when she began making ten times as much as they ever would! (OK, I "swiped" that from Eddie Haskell, but can you think of a better philosopher to swipe from???)
Despite the so-so sound and hit-or-miss ability to spin on your boom box, LIVE THRILLS is a winner from the great track selection (including showstoppers such as "Ball and Chain" complete with that heart-drilling Gurley lead) to the rarities like "Flower in the Sun" and "Road Block" which I fund just as uplifting as the offically-released stuff. And not only that, but the R. Crumb-appropriated cover is one of the best I've seen adapted to the bootleg format yet!
TRIBAL STOMP unfortunately does not have that great Family Dog jam (recorded at the second Family Dog Tribal Stomp in '67, 'natch!) where Big Brother, Quicksilver and the Oxford Circle all joined together to create this beaut of a feedback drone chant, but it's still more'n worthy of your time and effort to seek. Mostly taken from FM broadcasts the sound is pretty good, and although the performances are taken from performances after the band's big Monterrey putsch when Janis pretty much overtook the entire shebang you'll still get your share of the band (as a major part of what the act was still about), such as on the great redo of Howlin' Wolf's "Moanin' at Midnight" where Sam Andrews gets a chance to finally show off some of his vocal abilities for the first time since Big Brother more or less became Janis' "backing band". And even though this "is" Big Brother being presented to you as a top draw major label well-produced outfit thankfully they do kick jamz a'plenty, or at least enough to give you those long-gone high energy chills like you always got listening to the best and brightest in all forms of music extant.
Dunno about you, but these booties only make me want to hear more, such as my Eyetalian two-LP "semi-official" set which features the group summer '66 right after Janis hitched up and hadn't yet the opportunity to run roughshod over everyone, not to mention dig up and re-watch that DVD documentary of Big Brother which has all of the early spark and flash of the group recorded for KQED right before the bunch hit it gigundo. And while I'm at it, has anyone spotted that bootleg of pre-Janis recordings that are s'posed to be the ultimo in what sort of crazed avant rock SF could put out when it set its mind on it? I never saw it offered for sale anywhere, but I was told about it from some guy who spotted it in a Philadelphia record shop in '90 and didn't know enough to pick the thing up! (He wasn't even a fan of the group, so maybe I could forgive him!) Almost as frustrating as the whereabouts of that two-LP Pere Ubu live in London bootleg that another acquaintance saw in the basement of Record Revolution in Cleveland Heights back in late-'80 but neglected to pick up as well. I have the feeling both tricksters were making these records up just to get my curiosity piqued to critical level, but really I will not rest until the mystery of both of these offerings is cleared up to my satisfaction. That and until Dave Lang is finally castrated, but that's another post for another day, unnerstan'?
Posted by Christopher Stigliano at 6:30 PM
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
KEEP IT TOGETHER! (COSMIC BOOGIE WITH THE DEVIANTS AND THE PINK FAIRIES) by Rich Deakin (Headpress, 2007)
Okay, I promise not to be as jumbled-up confused as I was in my review of the NO WAVE histoire last Sunday (but sheesh, with a subject matter as frazzled as no wave rock how else could a storm trooper such as myself react anyway?), but man this bio pertaining to the late-sixties/seventies Deviants/Pink Fairies axis is the utmost in high energy jamz around! Like I said before, 2008's shaping up as a hotcha year for rockism-related reading and this particular title really fills the bill with regards to these "people's bands" who, safe to say, were way better than whatever visions of hippie nirvana that this tag would imply.
Frankly, for being part of the under-the-underground in London during those wild times tied into not only the radical press but way too many causes and ideals to keep up with, both the Devies and Fairies were thankfully able to transcend their hippie trapping and be solid bonafide punk rockers long before a good portion of the straight media began to sit up and take notice! Not too many other acts during the day (krautrock perhaps) could tackle having one foot in the psychedelic undergrounds of London/San Francisco and various hippie mewlings of an acoustic variety and the other in the urban madness of the Velvet Underground and Detroit, but these two sure did and what's best about it is that the Deviants and Fairies sure came out smelling a lot sweeter as time went by than the turgid remnants of those hippie havens ever did! Thankfully the Pink Fairies were never challenged to a softball game by ROLLING STONE or written up in their "Random Notes" section, nor would anyone conceive of such a thing to begin with! Great stories (some new to mine eyes!), great illustrations (ditto!) and while I'm at it great job from author Rich Deakin (not Lumpy's father...check spelling!) who certainly left no stone unturned in giving us the entire sordid saga behind not only Mick Farren contingent but the strange DNA that made up that entire wondrous scene that was known as the English underground.
While you're reading KEEP IT TOGETHER you might want to spin some choice Deviants/Fairies disques for the proper musical backdrop. May I suggest the recently-obtained Fairies platter LIVE AT THE ROUNDHOUSE/PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED on English Big Beat which combines not only the '75 Roundhouse farewell performance that actually kicked off a two-year revival of the band but the mid-eighties vintage 12-incher with Larry Wallis swiping the band moniker this time as well as Twink's DO IT '77 effort that once again "appropriates" the Fairies name for a get go at all that hot new wave money. The Roundhouse gig sure comes off snat for a bye-bye and best of all has that mid-seventies FM radio sound quality that makes one think this woulda been a good evening spin on your local prog outlet 'stead of whatever King Biscuit was playing that week. Wallis' PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED has more of that eighties hard-rock feel to it, not heavy metal by any stretch of the imagination (or what was being called HM at the time!) but it sure has the same sorta attitude, style and sound that popped up on many of these mid-eighties post-Detroit platters that the likes of Big Beat, Sonics and a whole number of Australian small specie labels were crankin' out like sausages. Read an early ish of my own crudzine if you wanna get a whiff of just exactly what was goin' on in those days when hard rock meant Twisted Sister and Van Halen and just about everybody didn't want to know things like Larry Wallis even existed! Twink's psychedelic punkerooing's surprisingly solid rock without any overt commercial come-ons to the prevaling motions of the day which makes it even more of a true punk icon in my book! Even the update of the PF classic "Do It" doesn't have a tinge of the commercial come on you thought it would! For those of you who are not in the know. both the book and the CD are a good intro to a musical time and place that I'm sure you'll enjoy a lot better'n anything that might be going on in the here and now!
Posted by Christopher Stigliano at 6:23 PM
Sunday, April 13, 2008
THREE FOR THE PRICE OF NONE!
Again, a return to the olde-tymey BLOG TO COMM mega-review format!
NO WAVE by Marc Masters (Black Dog Publishing, 2008)
So here it it after what, thirty whole whopping years, a tome for our time detailing the rise and nova of the late-seventies New York no wave phenomenon that in one nice little 200-plus page swoop finally tells us starved for rockism music fans all about those primitive bands that proved that musical deconstruction was a whole lot more than just another Marxist cultural role-play game for disaffected young 'uns with trust funds. And believe-you-me, for a guy who Fall '78 bought NO NEW YORK sight unseen after reading some hot Adele Bertei-related news in THE COVENTRY EXPRESS, such an all-encompassing no wave tell all book is just the thing to get my juicy-juices flowing! And truth be told, author Marc Masters does a good job in at least giving us the main who whats'n whys of the entire movement, or at least he presents enough important info just to remind one as of why back in the day musical morons such as I used to scour whatever sources at hand there were to find out as much about this thing called punk as we possibly could.
But despite all of the promise and potential one might expect from such an ambitious endeavor, NO WAVE only gives us a basic rundown on the groups and the scene without any major epiphanies to be found...not that I was expecting anything totally out of the ordinary, but it sure woulda been nice if Masters threw a couple of surprises at us to chew on, or at least a few more ultra-rare snaps and flyers here and there just so those of us who were payin' attention while it was all still happenin' don't nod out too soon.
Maybe I shouldn't complain. It is grand to once again read all about that whole primal punk reaction that hit lower Manhattan in '77 'round the same time the rest of Ameriga was still in shock over the likes of the Ramones and other bands who seem so everyday suburban wholesome in retrospect. After all, you do get the sagas (albeit "expurgated" to an extent) behind all the major movers and shakers of no wave, the NO NEW YORK bands naturally getting the brunt of the attention while such "lower-tiered" acts as the Theoretical Girls, Rhys Chatham's various groupings and Red Transistor gobble up some precious space only because their members went on to do major works in the post-no wave eighties and nineties. (An era that is touched upon in this book even though for me it makes for one of the less exciting chapters given the utter boredom that decade doth wrought...still, I might just be changing my opinions re. those old Live Skull discs after reading Robert Palmer's various reproduced raves!) Even such outta-the-loopers as Ut seem to get brought up if only because they lasted as long as they did outside the no wave timeframe (albeit as English post-punkers, but who cares?), and what's more there's even a nice chapter on the short-lived no wave cinema movement which turned Max's Kansas City into a hotbed on underground movie mania with frequent screenings of Scott and Beth B films on the same bill as a whole slew of those no wavers Max's was rakin' in hefty dinero with at the time! Even with my hard-to-conceal reservations about this book I must admit that the resultant spew should be hot enough to get even the more passive aficionado of late-seventies avant rock a tad slobberin'.
And though that aforementioned last chapter on the scene in the eighties and beyond might just remind you (as it did Brad Kohler) as to why all of your seventies hopes and dreams seemed to get flushed down the toidy overnight, the main bulk of NO WAVE does have that expected underground "dinge" that seemed so enticing back when you were a lot more inexperienced and just eating up all this hard blare up for what it was worth, which at the time sure seemed like a lot!
But as for the untapped potential...was it because Masters just didn't have the space to mention it all, or did he just do all of his research by reading the no wave special issue of THE NEW YORK ROCKER as well as choice VILLAGE VOICE and EAST VILLAGE EYE reviews and left it at that? An over-exaggeration true, but sheesh, considering what information there is out there and what he didn't use this book should have been at least twice as long!
Still, like any intense writings on rock & roll, NO WAVE leaves you thirsting for much more. The trouble may just be that perhaps you're thirsting for way more than what was provided, and little bits and pieces that I thought should have been included seem to have been totally forgotten by the author. For example, a pre-no wave historical overview is left to a few paragraphs about the Velvet Underground, Captain Beefheart, Yoko, krautrock and Suicide (in other words, the same old no wave rap you've read on the web the past ten years), but a band that was about as important to the development and growth of New York no wave as anyone or anything, mainly Kongress, is mentioned solely in passing. I doubt that Masters would've had any opportunities to hear the tape of Kongress opening for Television at CBGB in '74 creating a sound as ferocious and perhaps way more feral than anything laid down by Lydia Lunch or James Chance, but you woulda thought (if he wanted to be a little more exhaustive in his research) that Masters would have contacted Otto von Ruggins for some input. Unfortunately he didn't (or perhaps von Ruggins was unwilling), but a book covering such an important (and still under-documenteed) genre as no wave should have dug into the obscurities to at least give us the whole picture.
Masters also glosses over, perhaps due to lack of pertinent information, some of the no wave acts who didn't hit the jackpot but deserved at least a tad li'l bitta thirtysome-years-later notoriety. Bands such as the Communists (with future Kongress warbler Iolsa Hatt), Elodie Lauten's Terminal and Glenn Branca's other group Daily Life are basically tossed aside. And even one of the better-known names to come out of the no wave, electronic violinist Walter Steding, sure gets the short end of the stick here with only a mention in connection with the infamous GLENN O'BRIEN'S HOUSE PARTY cable access program! True a few of the locals at the time didn't consider Steding to really be part of the no wave "scene" probably because of his allegiance with the Blondie/Chris Stein/Warhol axis of instant stardom, but I surely would have done a nice hunkerin' chapter on the guy even if his outlook on life was a whole lot more positive than all of those nihilistic sots' combined! And yeah, as Masters says right at the tippy end of the book, apologies are to be given to a whole buncha bands that just didn't make the cut, but really, given the importance of the subject matter I wish a whole lot more acts did!
Maybe what I am looking for in a no wave history will be remedied by the Byron Coley/Thurston Moore book that is currently in the works. At least I can hope to encounter enough unveiled-for-the-first-time bits of knowledge regarding such acts as George Scott's pre-Contortions aggregate Jack Ruby as well as all of those Von Lmo short-lived/one-off groups like the Shortwave Band, Antenna and Von Lmo's Refrigerator not forgetting other flashes that never did get to register a blip on the hipster press radar. More on the influx of avant garde jazz to CBGB and Max's in the wake of no wave (talkin' the likes of Phillip Wilson's Magic, Luther Thomas, Ronald Shannon Jackson and of course Sonny Sharrock) which in fact continued steadily until CBGB's very demise would also have been appreciated instead of the space given to such early-eighties thuds as ESG who may have hit it big with THE NEW YORK ROCKER and VILLAGE VOICE gang but seems like way too much hipster cross-breeding shuck to me. Perhaps I am asking for too much in a book (which I hope I will get with Coley and Moore's endeavor), but for now I'm sure NO WAVE should satisfy the casual aficionado and maybe if you're not as anal-retentive as I am you'll coax some major pleasure outta it as well. And, in case you couldn't discern...HIGHLY RECOMMENDED ANYWAYS!!!
***MAGICAL GARDEN CD-R (no label, Japan)
Many of these new Japanese post-Les Rallizes Denudes-styled bands might not live up to expectations created by the influence, but that doesn't mean they're all a buncha doofs. This 2004 recording by Magical Garden is living proof of that. More reminiscent of Suishoi No Fune's free-flowing dual guitar workouts than Denudes' psychedelic stomps, Magical Garden weave in an out with a guitar freakout style that's just about as much heavy metal as it is lysergic and as melodic as it is atonal. Imagine extended forays into transcendental guitar lines patterned on either Sonny Sharrock's GUITAR overloads or the Bruce Anderson solo tapes of the late-eighties and you'll be halfway there. Made good soundtrack music while reading the NO WAVE book and perhaps it will with any valid rock tome or fanzine of your choice. Volcanic Tongue was sellin' 'em but seem to be out at the moment. Check back periodically for availability.
***THE INNER SOUNDS
OF THE ID CD (World In Sound, Germany)
After reading Greg Shaw's "Acid Punk" article in BOMP! (most of which was reprinted on the backsides of the essential PEBBLES VOL. 3 album in the very-late seventies), I just knew that I hadda latch onto this Id album that RCA of all labels had the audacity to unleash on us during the very early days of 1967. After all, the idea behind the song "Boil The Kettle Mother" sounded abstractly pleasant enough, with a spooky voice described as being Vincent Price-ish talking over a Yardbirds "Dust My Broom" riff came off especially enticing, especially to a kid who was spinning Red Crayola albums all day and sure wanted more. After latching onto a copy (via Rather Ripped!) I must admit that, although I enjoyed "Kettle" immensely and thought LP opener "The Rake" was pretty skewered itself I found myself filing my disc away for those moments when I would have to referentially return to it when it was time for me to do my own acid punk article. But surprisingly enough, that day never really did come.
Curiosity had me picking up this recent Cee-Dee reissue, and after all these years all I gotta say is that the Id were pretty much on top of not only the '66/'67 cusp of freakrock but Amerigan garage band aesthetics, for what they were. In fact, given the pedigreed histories of the band members involved (resumes proudly published in the enclosed booklet) all I gotta say is that Jack Good's liner notes about the return of pagan rhythms to pop music wasn't just another load of hyperbole. In fact, the Id just might have been the best example of professionals slumming as punk rockers to be heard at the time, at least until the advent of the Hombres a good year later.
Tunes I originally thought were pure miscarriages like "Butterfly Kiss" and the title track now seem listenable enough...I guess that the self-conscious '67-vintage pretensions sure went down smoother back then but if you put yourself in a sixties mindset they sure seem contempo! And for a bunch of industry hacks the Id could still rock out a good punk number like "Wild Times" and of course "Kettle", which really would've been strange enough to have been included on that third PEBBLES volume had Shaw only felt them, along with the Godz, worthy of a spot. Of course the "bonus tracks" really ain't 'cept for an instrumental backing to "Kettle" you can sing along to in your best horror star voice, but did you really expect anything special outta all those outtakes that've been tagged on at the end of Cee-Dee reissues all these years??? A surprise package that you just might want to check out even a little smidgin' bit.
***While I'm at it, I thought I'd tag this clip of the Association doing "Along Comes Mary" on THE SMOTHERS BROTHERS SHOW way back in '67. I actually remember this program, not only the song but the way my mother flipped out in abject hatred at the opening schpiel which, once again, shows more of that '67 hipster snideism that the Id also tackled with some gusto (which is why I brought this Association clip up in the first place). Watch it with your mother and re-live alla that mid-amerigan generational gap loathing many a kid hadda suffer through:
Posted by Christopher Stigliano at 12:18 PM
Wednesday, April 09, 2008
Kurt Vile-CONSTANT HITMAKER CD (Gulcher)
Not that I exactly want to be found in agreement with Tom Lax, but sometimes I guess I'll just have to swallow my pride in pretty much the same fashion Tom and alotta other haute amerindie types out there are swallowing things a lot worse. But shee-yucks if this recent release from Gulcher just ain't the thing that can bring two opposites together, at least on a certain neutral-corner aesthetic level...y'see, Kurt Vile's the latest in a long line of classic do-it-yourself cranksters and this Philadelphi sure laid a good one for us with this, his debut CD (tho FWIW he did appear on some single sides prior to this that may or may not be worth the time and effort to seek out). Anyhow, CONSTANT HITMAKER's a release that sure seems to have everything good goin' for it from the boffo low-fidelity sound that comes off as if it were recorded in the same studio the Jaynetts used to the smart writing and performing abilities of Vile, who certainly does rank as a top-notch "singer-songwriter" in the best CREEM-sense possible (see Byron Coley's article on the Flesheaters, "Chris D's Carnal Knowledge" in the NEW YORK ROCKER, one of those circa '81 issues right after A MINUTE TO PRAY's release) and the results are sure good enough to have me zoning back to 1987 and the feeling I had coming across a good self-produced indie cassette for once in a blue moon!
It really ain't that hard to describe the Vile sound if you get all the extraneous loose ends tied up that is. Def. a hefty load of eighties underground rockage is in store, particularly that of the ever-popular "cassette culture" variety that magazines like OP used to praise to the rafters, yet the music itself has roots in the seventies underground clank that seemed to also be going on around the same time that the punk rockers were tearin' up the place and an overflow from their audience began patronizing such interesting self-mades as Brian Sands and Alex Chilton. And yeah, I can hear echoes of both of these late-seventies via mid-sixties wunderbrats, as well as everything from Mark Beer, Brian Eno (particularly in the way the instruments don't always seem to sound like they're supposed to) and even such sixties flashes as Tim Buckley and Donovan to a certain strange extent, but thankfully it all makes more sense than I would've given anyone credit for in a pretty long time and I'm sure you will agree with me too.
Don't go 'round thinkin' that Kurt Vile's another twinkie on the snoozeville express, because he proves himself to be every bit the master of smart-pop on this platter not only with his folk-rock stomp that seems to swish between Southern Californian and En Why See with a few stops in Merrie Olde, but with some rather interesting lyrics that would be a hoot if I could only make more of 'em out! (But what I could understand was mighty intriguing to say the least...at least Lester Bangs would have sat up and taken notice!!!) Put 'em all together and you got a pretty good contender for hot pop plunk of the year, a rec that I woulda thought was gonna be decadence personified (thanks to the Siltbreeze crowd's "involvement") but comes off as the bestest surprise fun disc comin' outta nowhere to grace my ears since...Home Blitz???
And as far as CONSTANT HITMAKER's mere existence goes...well, who woulda even conceived that things like guys making their own recordings in what sounds like the knottiest pine basement extant could ever have materialized here in 2008? That is, without the resultant stew sounding like the utter narcissic crap that these projects usually end up as. Yes, judging from this one Vile is "Philly's constant hitmaker" and if you feel brave enough you can order this disque straight from Gulcher or even Slippytown since I'm sure Eddie has a bunch he needs to unload. Volcanie Tongue's stockin' 'em in case any of you furriners are interested. And if you're feeling extra randy how about contacting Vile himself to see what all the fuss is about! I'm sure he'll thank you for it.
Posted by Christopher Stigliano at 5:48 PM
Saturday, April 05, 2008
DVD REVIEW...ONE STEP BEYOND 8-DVD SET (Delta)
Definitely a bad week for Dee-Vee-Dee viewing. First off, I can't seem to find where I stuck that 2-disc set of THE UNTOUCHABLES that Lou Rone got me for Christmas, and after that the disque of THE CORPSEGRINDERS that Brad Kohler done tossed my way (also for X-mas) will not play on my computer (will have to check it out on the real-deal player that's rotting away in the other room though I've had little luck with that monstrosity as well!). To make matters even worse it seems as if none of the FERNWOOD/AMERICA 2NIGHT tea-coasters that I have been anxiously awaiting for the past few weeks, all burns but beggars can't be choosers, won't do their duty either on my computer player or my home entertainment system making this blogger one mightily upset kinda individual! (Guy I got 'em from on ebay told me the silver dollars're made for all regions even though my tee-vee screen says otherwise, and he's sure hedging against giving me a refund of any sorts which is cause for irritation in the pocket book department amongst other places!) So what's a guy who hungers for more and more hotcha television viewing of the past that's rarer than hen's (or Keith Richard's) teeth s'posed to do? What else but STAMP YOUR FEET AND CRY LIKE A BABY AND HOLD YOUR BREATH UNTIL YOU TURN BLUE that's what! It always works, and after that I'll just go and start spinning a disque from this ONE STEP BEYOND set that I got recently which surprisingly enough will play on just about any machine that I have access to here at ol' Home Sweet. Believe me, all of this hassle I've been having twixt getting these disques to play and taxes is enough to make one want to go and sit on a sno cone!
Good collection of this '59-'61 ABC "anthology series" originally known as ALCOA PRESENTS before getting slammed into syndication hell under its more familiar title until it sorta decayed away along with all those other fantab old-time series I do so desire. Your guide to the unknown John Newland may come across "suspect" according to Don Fellman, but the guy's still creepy enough as the on-camera host kinda like Rod Serling would be once the '60 season of TWILIGHT ZONE came into being and he too began showing his cigarette-laden mug for all to see. (Which makes me wonder if ONE STEP BEYOND is in fact the DOOM PATROL to ZONE's X-MEN...definitely num-num for thought!) The stories regarding the "paranormal" that are to be found therein are pretty snat as well, and the fact that they're all supposed to be based on true events makes them even spookier than TZ's at times way-too-humanist approach that did give us a few clunkers (never liked that one where this cool guy fakes an atomic war situation while gathering a buncha dolts who really did him wrong in life...still retch at the thought of that 'un t' no end!). And what's best about 'em is that the prints used ain't taken from negatives but old syndication reels that've been run to the ground o'er the past fifty years and they sure look it! (One of 'em even sports the original network ALCOA PRESENTS format for all you tee-vee historians out there!) Real nice low-fi preserved digitally which somehow makes me proud...kinda reminds you of when you were a kid'n you got to see all that dust flickerin' around on the lens and maybe even a fly or two. Sure brings back great memories of classic UHF lazyass viewin', don't it?
Unfortunately a couple of key episodes are missing. Everyone who remembers this series or has at least heard about it through blogs such as mine wants to see the documentary-oriented one where Newland goes to Mexico and takes some 'shrooms (under a doctor's supervision) but it ain't here, and neither is the one where some kraut kills his best friend over a fraulein before der var und then puts his body in a glider and tries to make it look like an accident only to have the EXACT SAME GLIDER NOW MANNED WITH A SKELETON swoop at him during a reichstag reunion years later! But don't fret Clyde, because there still are a whole number of these spooky-wooky programs here that do make for superfine late-night peek-a-booing especially after laying eyes upon David Letterman's stonefaced smirk for hours on end 'til your eyes can't stand it no more!
The Peter Hurkos two-parter with Albert Salmi portraying the Dutch psychic thankfully does show up as do a couple with famed midgie Walter Burke playing it particularly creepy (one as a jockey done in for wanting to marry Ida Lupino's sister and the other as a stone-carver who can eerily predict the deaths of locals in a Maine village). Lotsa names soon to be made also appear such as in the one with Patrick Macnee just prior to his stint on THE AVENGERS as an ill-fated passenger on the Titanic, not forgetting Suzanne Pleshette as the slutty gal whose life is saved and ultimately ended by a mid-aged blood doner who has strange premonitions about the future BOB NEWHART co-star. And yeah, watching Mike Connors as a furriner trapeze artist may seem to be stretching it a bit, but it sure goes down smoother'n a lotta the quap I last saw when I turned on prime-time tee-vee! There's even a neat chiller with Ron Howard (not Opie but the guy who used to play Sherlock Holmes in the mid-fifties) as a mad murderer whose mere presence leaves everyone arctic cold including Violet Rutherford herself Veronica Cartwright, on loan from LEAVE IT TO BEAVER as a flower girl at the cad's wedding!
So what else can I say? ONE STEP BEYOND is a top-notch entertainment wowzer from the real Golden Age of tee-vee (not that PLAYHOUSE 90 highbrow stuff but the fantastic late-fifties/mid-sixties viewing that still has the power to surge) that'll sure make you glad you don't have to change the stations past the all-homo Logo and Lifetime for Wimmen to get to some nineties rerun on TV Land anymore! You'll probably ignore it and you may even laugh at it, and I can't help it if some unsuspecting modernaires keep trolling this blog in search of lesbian sex tips or whatever and winds up here for whatever reason, but if you're one of those guys who grew up with the buzz of rerun television in your veins while everyone else was going gaga over the latest "right on" craze and still cherish trips to the library to read old tee-vee listings from days when your footsies weren't even walking the earth, a DVD set like this 'un is custom made for your proudly anal retentive lifestyle. Buy it, or be hip(pie!).
Posted by Christopher Stigliano at 5:59 PM
Thursday, April 03, 2008
KLAUS DINGER, 1946-2008
Y'know, it's kinda funny (or maybe not so) but back when Neu! were first creating their motorik clank groove during the early-seventies days of krautrock glory their name meant about as much to me as Virgil Sims'. Of course I didn't know who they were at the time, me being more preoccupied with such pressing things as comic books and general paranoia to notice or care, and if I had I probably would've written 'em off as a buncha longhair flower children anyways and believe-you-me back then I've seen more than my share of 'em! Even during my early pseudo-krautrocky discovery days a few years later I can't say that I could even recall seeing a Neu! record in the bins...the Amerigan issue of the first 'un on Billingsgate (the same label that raked in mucho metallic money with Lucifer's Friend and Scorpions) was nowhere to be seen, and frankly I don't even remember laying eyes, let alone hands, upon the English United Artists version with the familiar white color now an orange-ish red and liner notes from none other than Nik Turner in order to lend a little connective credence to this issue. Oh yeah, I heard the Neu! name uttered in hushed tones by certain members of the late-seventies "rock-oriented electronics" brigade, but that was hardly enough for me to pick pennies off the sidewalk and save up for a copy of any of their discs, if I could only find 'em. Frankly, the only real impetus for me wanting to hear the group dates from '80 when I picked up the final issue of BOMP! magazine and read Steven Braitman's review of Chrome's HALF MACHINE LIP MOVES which mentioned how those San Fran weirdies borrowed from the best garage bands like the Velvets, Mothers (?), Can (!) and Neu! which I gotta say piqued my interests, me at the time being one of those wild eyed garage punk rock & roll fanatics you still tend to read about on occasion. It would figure that a rock catchphrase like "garage" would be the thing to make me notice these guys, but back then those selfsame catchphrases sure meant a lot more to my bugged bean than they do almost three watered-down decades later!
But anyway I'm sorry to say that Klaus Dinger, the punkier half of the Neu! team is now gone, dead from heart failure last March 19 only the news got out just yesterday perhaps in an attempt to avoid a general mass panic. Naturally his death is not enough to get the "hip" upper-echelon rock press all agog just like they would if one of their heroes like Joni Mitchell croaked, but for seventies undergroundy buffs like me it sure does mean a lot and the news just hits ya right here (pound fist in breadbasket to emphasize the pain you are experiencing o'er such a distressing item) just like it did when all of your other faverave rockism acts passed on to probably even worse things like we knew they would. And as far as class acts go, who could doubt that Dinger was just about the keenest one you could find on the German expressionistic front...crawling out of the same late-sixties Dusseldorf scene that beget Kraftwerk, Dinger can be heard drumming on their debut platter and seen along with future partner Michael Rother putzying around with Florian Schneider on BEAT CLUB in '71! This was just before the two struck out on their own, creating three albums jammed with interesting avant garde peculiarities mixed up with a good punk rock thrash that still sounds fresher'n alla the hippoids pretending to be punks you've been glomming for the past two decades. After the final (at least for the time) split in the mid-seventies came Dinger's new band La Dusseldorf which continued on the NEU! '75 path for at least their epochal first album before traipsing into a more new wave treacle that still's worth an occasional once-over before getting filed away until the mood hits you once again in a few years. And then again there are all of those wild nineties-era Dinger projects that most people seem to consciously want to avoid that Captain Trip was issuing (but I find what I have heard rather exciting), as well as that mid-eighties Neu! reunion that I must admit I liked enough to play maybe twice through, but let's not heap a lotta nasty memorials upon a great like Dinger the same way TIME and NEWSWEEK love to dig into deceased conservative types in order to pump up their own sense of moral superiority! Dinger's surviving output only goes to prove that he was a true rocker even if he did get lumped in with the sometimes brainiac krautrock legion, and let me once again go out on a limb and say that his passing sure means a lot more to you and me than that of all of those eighties hardcore punques who might have talked the talk but sure needed a cane if they wanted to even attempt to walk any walks.
In closing I thought I'd once again post the clip of the puffed-up '75 version of Neu! doing "Hero" just to remind you of what a great act they were, and what kind of frenzy these guys who were for the longest time considered a "studio" band could whip up in front of a live audience. Dinger sure looks cool as the guitar-wielding punk and the rest of the group (save Rother, who still comes off early-seventies longhair beardo) seem to be taking the glam look about as seriously as any self-respecting New York act of the day. Enjoy this one again for old time's sake, and when you're saying your prayers just remember there's one more star in heaven tonite, and I ain't talkin' Rudolph Valentino!
Posted by Christopher Stigliano at 10:43 AM