The Churls-THE CHURLS/SEND ME NO FLOWERS CD (Second Harvest)
Here's the first of my DENIM DELINQUENT-influenced picks, a "twofa" consisting of both of the platters engrooved by this long-forgotten Toronto band who actually got a pretty sweet deal from A&M considering these guys weren't exactly gonna be the new Carpenters let alone Cat Stevens. Far from what any of us would consider part and parcel to the late-sixties "A&M Sound", the Churls were in fact a pretty on-target garage band who "borrowed" elements from across the hard rock spectrum...nothing new of course but at least they sure knew how to steal from the right bands! And although both of their albums are what might be called "uneven" these Churls sure come off a lot more pleasing to the lobes than many other late-sixties flybynight aggregates of the day and not only that but they retain a good sense of just what teenage hard rock/pop could excel during those strangely transitional times.
I couldn't hear much if any of the Syd Floyd that DD editor Jymn Parrett thought he did, but otherwise the man was pretty spot on in his evaluation of the band and their ability to mix various regional and gulcheral rock phenomenons and get away with it. Riffage brazenly taken from everyone from Jimi to the Thirteenth Floor Elevators, Leaves and a good portion of the NUGGETS bunch can be easily enough heard. In fact, if Lenny Kaye had broadened his NUGGETS timescope by a few months I'm sure the Churls would have made a fine inclusion to that epochal set! And (of course) I can't forget mentioning the group's own Canadian heritage from which they milk plenty, and that's the same heritage that gave us the likes of It's All Meat and dare-I-say the Guess Who who seem to be improved on in the translation! Makes me wonder if the Churls made it out in time to take advantage of the Canadian Content laws up there. I mean, the world surely would be much better off with more Churls and less Gordon Lightfoot!
There does seem to be a little too much of a stab at AM-radio sensibilities (which if I recall correctly weren't exactly anything to get excited over at the time) on these recordings and the occasional use of horns does detract from the natural power of the Churls but that doesn't hide the fact that this group is a pretty good late-sixties sleeper that I never would have considered latching up if it weren't for the rave review in that DD supplement!
But these two albums sure do a good job mixing the hard punk and straight pop, the former to get the teenage boys all hot and bothered and the latter to swoon the girls into an ecstatic frenzy. Plus these Churls sure do a good job with the harmonies and arrangements (thanks to organist Newton Garwood who seems to be the genius behind the band) and heck, I can pick out at least five sure-fire hits on both the AM and FM bands here (the latter surely would have been wowed by the tension-inducing "See My Way" off of #2 SEND ME NO FLOWERS which clocks in at an amazing 5:16). Yes, you too will be surprised when you hear "She Needs a Man" and think that the Churls surely swiped some moves from the Rundgren version of "Hello It's Me", then realize that that one didn't come out until a good two years later! Perhaps the Churls should get some sorta garage band award for being able to play it teenage wholesome one minute and late-sixties punk next, sounding the way you kinda wish that band down the street did when you were five years old and even you knew what good rock & roll was at that early age!
Don't let the medieval costumes fool you, this is a must-get that I'll rank up there with THE HEAD SHOP and all of those other flashes that none of would have known about if it weren't for the writings of Parrett and various early-eighties French fanzine editors whose wares were made available in those long-gone Bona Fide catalogs that gee, I gotta admit I kinda miss!
Monday, June 30, 2008
The Churls-THE CHURLS/SEND ME NO FLOWERS CD (Second Harvest)
Saturday, June 28, 2008
Paul Flaherty/Randall Colbourne-BRIDGE OUT! CD (Family Vineyard)
I gotta admit that ever since I laid paws upon INTERSTELLAR SPACE a few decades back I've (naturally!) been extremely interested in the spate of sax/drums duo albums that have been rushing out of the jazz avant garde faster than you can say Frank Lowe. True they may be "sparse" or "minimalist", but each and every one of 'em I've laid ears upon strips the beautiful free jazz bore (as in boring holes, not boring listeners) to the bared-wire intensity of it all. And this recent outing from the longtime New England-based duo of Paul Flaherty and Randall Colbourne is just that, a fine isolation of the core free spazz sound and vision into its purest form and if that reads like pompous bull you're right!, but sometimes I do get all frothy emotional about such things so bear with me for once.
Flaherty and Colbourne are two guys who naturally won't be burning up any DOWN BEAT polls any time soon (is DOWN BEAT still being published?), but considering some of the dopus dilectis that have been getting all of the jazz accolades these past four decades maybe their lack of inclusion would be an honor. Whaddeva, the duo sure do put out a fine wail on this disque that reminds me of what I'll bet some of the more outre jazz picks that the old NEW MUSIC DISTRIBUTION SERVICE used to offer sounded like, making me wish I had the spare change to buy that stuff then 'stedda dishing out ten times as much for battered copies now when I do have the moolah!
Flaherty's playing is typical of the seventies post-Coltrane style when things began stretching out even more...post-Ayler would be a better way to put it with a tone and approach that might recall a less-adventurous Roscoe Mitchell but somehow a less r&b Luther Thomas sticks in my mind. Colbourne's drumming is clearly in the post-Sunny Murray free style and perhaps even some more...for some not so strange reason I keep thinking late-seventies loft-era splatter back when the only place you'd find any information about all of those avant co-op groups that were hanging around En Why See was THE VILLAGE VOICE even if you hadda fight your way through Nat Hentoff acting all First Amendment sanctimonious (though he's still an OK guy even if everyone hates him!) and lesbian film festival info to find any mentions thereof!
So whazza verdict? Well, especially in this day and age when we drift further and further from the 20th Century glory of it all such things as avant garde jazz seem all the more tastier! And so do these guys who, although playing outside of time and perhaps general interest, seem to be one of the few that I know of playing fire music this late in the game. Give 'em credit for that. And as you all know I've been way outta touch with even a shard of what's going on in the avant/free jazz world ever since CBGB (and their Sunday jazz series at their next-door lounge) closed up along with a good portion of the cybercasts they were offering, but at least BRIDGE OUT helps keep me in touch with some of the high energy that continues to creep out of the underground jazz community long after I thought it would have been STOMPED OUT for sure.
Posted by Christopher Stigliano at 10:19 AM
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
The Groundhogs-SCRATCHING THE SURFACE CD (EMI, UK)
My typical bassackwards self would be inclined to review the first Cee-Dee in the Groundhogs box-set last but y'see, given the importance of the three elpees to follow I just hadda give those legendary platters a lissen first before playing this debut Groundhogs kneeslapper which most people I know tend to shrug off anyway. Yeah, I know I'm not supposed to take what everybody else sez to heart and THINK FOR MYSELF LIKE ANY GOOD ROCK FAN SHOULD, but sometimes I do like to follow the lead of others, especially if I pretty much value said doggie's opinions on a variety of subjects and feel pretty copasetic with his main rockism worldview. (Well, it does help save money!) So hey, maybe I am just as led-by-the-nose like a pig to the slaughter as a variety of opinions out there seem to indicate, but then again it ain't as if the likes of Meltzer or Bangs've had the opportunity to do any nose-leadin' on my part as of late so why should you complain?
That all said, I gotta tell you that I pretty much agree with the majority (or at least what I could discern as a majority) and say that SCRATCHING THE SURFACE ain't exactly my cuppa tea and in fact ranks about as middling as those mid-seventies Groundhogs albums I've heard o'er the years long after McPhee lost his original band and went more prog than rock & roll. True, not being that big a fan of the English blooze (if any) does hinder my opinion, but then again that didn't stop me from liking those later-on Groundhogs discs let alone offerings from Killing Floor and other UK trashbin grubs. It's just too...I dunno, English bloozy which never did settle well for some odd reason. Steve Rye's OK as the group's frontman singer/harpist here, but I can't say much more even with McPhee's above-average guitar playing helping to save this from abomination time. I'll leave it for those late-sixties English blues fans amongst us to have and to hold, and take the heavy-metal crunch of the discs that follow which I believe will remain all-time top UK spinners for a much longer time than any of us will ever imagine.
Posted by Christopher Stigliano at 6:05 PM
Sunday, June 22, 2008
The Great Imposters-DOLLARS IN DRAG, A TRIBUTE TO DAVID BOWIE LP (Rare Records)
Talk about finding unsung (and underhanded) classic albums in the weirdest places! I dunno how many of you used to buy your bootlegs directly from the myriad assortment of shifty mail order companies (usually located somewhere in the mid-South) that seemed to proliferate during the seventies and eighties, but there was the one business called Pied Piper Records where I and assumedly a whole load of manic rock fans used to snatch up these clandestine wonders, at least until the authorities got wind and put 'em outta business for good. And as far as mailorder bootleg businesses go, Pied Piper was a pretty cool one for us to dump (as my father would say) a good portion of our lawn mowing monies, since they not only had all of the latest domestic (Korneyfone, Wizardo...) bootleg releases up for grabs but Pied Piper even managed to acquire a few of those deluxe European boots with the full color covers that cost a pretty penny back in the day! Besides that, Pied Piper offered a few legit import singles and Japanese-only live albums for sale in case you were interested in getting Bev Bevan's solo disc or Chicago live at Budokan, plus they had a taping service which charged rather high fees for stuff that you and I would take for granted these days but since we're talking 1977 I guess we hadda pay through the nose for stuff like John Lennon's One on One concert and other nth-generation "rarities" that many of us would poo-poo a good three decades down the line.
Besides all of the above hotcha drooloid goodies, Pied Piper had a series of self-produced tribute albums for sale. Predating the tribute album craze by a good ten years, their very own "Rare Records" subsidiary offered up a series consisting of nothing but cover versions of supposed rarities (at least for the times) by some of the greats and near-greats of the day. I forget who all got the Rare Records treatment thanks to the "Great Imposters", but I do remember that the Beatles and Nazz were honored with tributes of their own as was David Bowie, represented here with the re-recording of "original" b-sides done by this mysterioso group who were probably also of mid-South origin!
Of course there is one major gaffe with the above statement, that is unless the folks at Pied Piper didn't realize that "Waiting for the Man" was not a Bowie original (thankfully they recognized that "Around and Around" was Chuck Berry's and give him due credit), but that doesn't really matter considering the general hot-ness of this album that you know was intended as a quickie crankout to lure the import/bootleg fans outta even more of their hard-begged!
And soo-prize soo-prize, these Imposter guys are rather hotcha in the performance and punkitude department and thankfully do not attempt to recreate, or shall I say, clone the originals a la some mid-seventies Todd Rundgren project. Naw, from the low-fidelity cheap studio sound to the sparse production, DOLLARS IN DRAG sounds more or less like some anywhere USA garage band in the mid-seventies romping through mostly-obscure Bowie material, and doing a pretty dang good job of it even if the purists amongst us would probably be in for a good laff. These "Imposters" consist of rhythm guitar, electric piano, bass and drums and play like they were getting ready for some hot gig (perhaps an appearance at CBGB?) 'stead of preening and prancing about like one would expect on a cover album of David Bowie rarities. And I must admit that I really do wonder who these Imposters are...I have the feeling they may actually be a pseudo-famous North Carolina group who used to make treks up to CB's and Max's between '76 and '78 before metamorphing into a more famous group whose aging members have their own web page. Someone care to enlighten me any?
Although running only a half-hour, there is much good in DOLLARS IN DRAG to excite even the more jaded BLOG TO COMM fan. The garage performance and production is perfect, giving even more power to songs like "Can't Help Thinking About Me" which had the early-seventies Bowie freaks shrieking in horror at the time considering how little it sounds like Spiders From Mars-period space music. "Waiting For The Man" comes off like some suburban spuds stoked on their first spin of WHITE LIGHT/WHITE HEAT (in fact, other'n being faithful to Bowie's specific chord change this coulda been one of a thousand mid-seventies variations thereof done by bands who loathed ol' carrot top) and even "Rebel Rebel" (the only hit here) is as much knotty pine basement 1966 as all of those Kid Sister and Screamin' Mee-Mees tapes rotting away in your closet. Remember, although they mighta been acting decadent in New York and London, everywhere else men still knew they were men, and women at least acted like they were glad about it!
I'm not sayin' you should run out and get DOLLARS IN DRAG (not like it would be easy enough to do), but if you happen to come across a copy in a flea market bin why not snatch it up. Hopefully the price will be right (you do come across these three bucks a head LP sales even this late in the game) and it wouldn't hurt to give this li'l surprise a spin. Kinda wonder how these Imposters handled the Nazz, but I'll have to wait for another flea market to find that one out!
***HYPERION, VOL. 4 NO. 4, SUMMER '73; HYPE, VOL. 5. NO'S 1-2, FALL/WINTER '74 (fanzines published by Lion Periodicals, Annapolis MD)
Was it really Eastertime '07 when I reviewed three issues of this long-forgotten fanzine which had the honor of being edited by the future CREEM/WASHINGTON CITY PAPER rockcrit Mark Jenkins? Sure doesn't seems like it, but that's probably because I really threw myself knee-deep into those issues of HYPERION (and still do!) and certainly didn't want to wait a good year to read even more of 'em! Yes, HYPERION was a great fanzine and perhaps one of the tops in the annals of early-seventies rockitude, for not only was it published smack dab in the middle of the Golden Age of Rock Writing which I at BLOG TO COMM still honor deep in my soul, but HYPERION also exemplified the best qualities of the early/mid-seventies proto-punk 'zines (neat yet low-fi layout, smart to-the-point writing, a healthy surliness) and came about as close to the Lester Bangs/CREEM taproot of snide anti-"Youth Culture" razz as DENIM DELINQUENT or even BACK DOOR MAN would ever dare to. Not only that, but HYPERION really captured the early-seventies post-Vietnam loss of a singular identity amongst youth which would soon take up sides via such medium as rock publications and even AM radio. ROLLING STONE vs. CREEM; Jim Croce vs. Alice Cooper...which side are you on, peace creep?
HYPERION was clearly on the side of the punk (or at least what the punk stood for in the early-seventies) and frankly, what else would you expect from a fanzine that was edited by this Jenkins guy who came off as one of the most hard-nosed no-holds-barred rock writers to have hit the rock fandom circuit in years? It makes me wonder what ineffectual snobs like "Jeff" who believe that I "spew venom" would think of a man of Jenkins' ultimately higher caliber of seething ire, but remember that this was the same early-seventies that gave us NATIONAL LAMPOON and all of those other antidotes to the hippie mewls of the day and if anyone personified the true jaded aspects of early-seventies rock erudition it would be Meltzer, but Jenkins does come in a close second or maybe even third!
Anyway, as you could easily enough guess I love these newly-obtained HYPE(RION)s to the living end. They're just about everything I "dig" about the early-seventies rock fanzines and more...loads of proto-punk coverage at a time when writing about sixties garage bands, the Stooges and the New York Dolls seemed like the best thing a human being could do in the face of Joni Mitchell with heaping hunks of snide attitude that got me into a lotta trouble as a kid but at least they get away with it. And best yet this fanzine was one big RAZZBERRY directed towards all of those evil reformist forces of the day who tried their darndest to make kids like me do things we would never do in our right minds! I only wish I had HYPE(RION) with me when I was growing up and going to school...well, it least it would have pissed off the cute yet irritatingly New Left-cliched gal I knew who always used to bring Crosby Stills Nash and Young records to play during art class at least until someone had the good sense to get SCHOOL'S OUT onto the turntable one liberating Friday afternoon!
Still "free" (though subscriptions cost a buck per year with back issues going for a neat fifty pennies!), the Summer '73 issue of HYPERION is a marked improvement over the three that I reviewed last year. Nice artwork on the front cover (by Jenkins) with an artsy drawing of Lou Reed and band, superb printing (again, on quality paper) and to top it all off this issue runs a whopping 42 pages giving HYPERION some style and even more substance in the face of some of the thinnest fanzines of your life being produced just around the same nanosecond. Yeah, I know that such quality in the printing and layout doesn't mean a thing if the subject matter and writing style ain't got that zing, but this time ya know it really works in the mag's favor even if HYPERION had some of the best rock writing seen during those already hopped up days.
Thumbing through the insides you can at least see that the general idea behind HYPERION remained constant since the previous issues I've glommed. Charles Macauley still has his singles column in gear trying to make 1973 sound a lot better than it perhaps was AM-wise with everyone from Stevie Wonder, Bowie, the Moody Blues, Focus etc. getting their place in the sun where their records will probably warp beyond all recognition. (Zee professor muz make another one of heez stoopid leetle jokes.) Right after that is an article on what else but candy written by Jenkins himself where he spends a good enough amount of time telling us about the various "Good 'n Plenty" spinoffs that were hitting the market at the time. Not only was there "Good 'n Fruity" and "Good 'n Minty" (which lasted the bat of an eye), but "Good 'n Hot" which were cinnamon candies that Jenkins gives the thumbs up to and calls "the Blue Oyster Cult of the candy world"! This article was very important to me, because when I was a kid I used to love "Good 'n Fruity" and would sometimes segregate a box of 'em by color (saving my favorite flavor cherry for last) and then suck the little morsels down until all that remained was the clear and tasteless gel center which I would then chomp, pretending that I was Matter Eater Lad from the Legion of Superheroes eating some futuristic plastic! A great way to occupy oneself whilst reading comic books, and praise be to Jenkins for bringing back yet another memory of doofus mid-Amerigan suburban living that at least I remember with a great deal of fondness!
Of course what I've so far mentioned is only the tippy-top of the iceberg...surprises galore appear twixt the usual deals like Bruce Townley's column on sci-fi and fantasy fanzines plus there's even a bit from Jack Van Valkenburgh, the guy who really gave Jenkins grief for endorsing Nixon a few months earlier whilst getting soundly put down in the process. One big surprise is a piece entitled "Ray Davies at the Metropolitan Theater" by R. Meltzer which has very little on Davies but for the most part is a review of STIGMA, an exploito feature made to cash in on the VD craze of the early-seventies (this moom pitcher was reviewed in an early issue of PSYCHOTRONIC so dig out your copies of the mag and perhaps VHS tapes of the flick). Another HYPERION surprise is, in the books section, a review of a paperback edition of DEEP THROAT that Dell Publishing actually printed during that strange time when underground porn was making inroads into the local multiplex. Jenkins really gave that one a good coal-raking, as if a paperback version of that infamous movie would ever translate to print even with all of the X-rated cliches in the world tossed in.
But as for the meat and potatoes of this issue...the Lou Reed cover story's an interesting ramble on Jenkins' part with comments on Reed's AM success with "Walk on the Wild Side" and lack thereof with the followup singles from TRANSFORMER. (Also included in this Reedscreed is an interesting bit on the kind of Velvet Underground collection Jenkins and friend Steven Grey would've loved to release two years from then when John Cale has his hit single thus creating an audience for yet another Velvets "Greatest Hits" package!) The article on the Incredible String Band (also by Jenkins) was "informative", at least enough to tell us that by this time in their career the band was heavily into Scientology which is something I never knew about! I could toss in the easy-enough joke about the String Band, Edward Bear, Beck and Return to Forever going on tour together, but I won't. And (of course) a good hunk of this issue is taken up by album reviews which cover the hot shot material of the day from Bowie's ALLADIN SANE to T. Rex's TANX, and even John Cale's PARIS 1919 gets the feature review position which says a lot about the priorities of this mag! The addition of then-fanzine regular Kenne Highland to the review section sure kicks up a lotta turf as this guy was "thee" heavy metal cub reporter of the day and (if you'd dare to ask me) his teenage gonzo spazz style sure lends a lotta crunch to the at-times punk-intellectual proceedings!
And, as if to say "goodbye" to yet another fine issue of HYPERION, the back cover has another one of those incomprehensible surrealistic cartoons that doesn't make sense to anyone, perhaps even the guy who wrote it! And I thought the cartoons in NIX ON PIX were hard to decipher, but hey, ANYTHING in the comics medium is a vast improvement over "Cathy"!
I'm assuming that HYPE's Fall/Winter '74 issue was the next consecutive one (why they didn't number these in the normal fashion does stymie me...I mean, it wasn't like they were able to keep to a regular schedule!), but from one look I can see that more was lost than just the last four letters off the fanzine's title! Perhaps in an economy move HYPE went to newsprint which might have spelled financial relief for a freebie mag but translates into crumble time when it comes to reading these things three decades after the fact! Well, at least my copy's still in fine form even if the pages are a bit cream-colored, and speaking of CREEM you can see more and more how the likes of Jenkins and gang were aping for that classic Lester Bangs style and verve with this issue which makes it non-pariel even with the downgrade in paper!
Putting the New York Dolls on the cover was certainly a brilliant idea (hope Jenkins moved more issues than I did with my Dolls-encrusted cover), and the innards are an improvement even from the already on-the-right-track previous issues of this under-the-counterculture fanzine. Macauley returns with his AM radio column (with neat fannish rantings regarding Dylan's return to the performing front and the Raspberries) while Townley continues on with his metaphysical sci-fi fanzine dissertations which I don't think I'll ever understand (and that leaves you totally out of the loop!). New for this issue...Jenkins' "Lou Reed News" column (a nice update on the Gizzard King's latest endeavors which were many considering Reed's surprise rise to fame at the time) and a comics column also by Jenkins dealing with those over-sized comic magazines that Marvel was putting out in response to Warren, not forgetting a nice plug of Warren's own SPIRIT series that was finally making those classic comics available to a larger audience that probably wondered what all the hubbub about Eisner was about (like me...as I've said the ONLY Warren comic title I ever bought during my youth was THE SPIRIT, and I still do congratulate myself at times for doing so).
Amidst the usual flotsam of this issue (reviews of then-current films and tee-vee shows like AMERICAN GRAFFITI and KUNG FU) as well as the album writeups (GOATS HEAD SOUP, SLADEST, and a gang review of the first Blue Ash and second Dolls!) are the features...Jenkins clocks in with coverage of the Stooges at the Kennedy Center (!) complete with a wild drawing of Iggy that I'm surprised Bomp! didn't stick on one of their recent Stooges reissues (and believe me, this writeup should be archived by all of the Stooges fans amongst us!) while Meltzer puts in his two centavos with a Kim Fowley tour diary that I believe is totally diff. from the one that appeared in Highland's ROCK ON around the same time! The Dolls cover saga not only has live pix and a Jenkins cartoon (!) but a review of their DC show coupled with a piece that more or less tries to decipher their DNA (not really, but I am at a loss for words right now...I'm sure the average Dolls fan of the day would understand until coming down, if you know what I mean!). There are other totally unexpected bits and pieces, like a short article in which Jenkins waxes eloquent re. Bruce Springsteen back when the guy looked like Sam the Sham, plus a short piece on how those Osmonds are the new Beatles and boy could they do some good heavy metal and AM radio singles that was written by...Kenne Highland? Well, Mark Shipper did make some similar observation in the pages of PHONOGRAPH RECORD MAGAZINE so maybe I was missing something amidst the wholesome whitebread image and goony smiles?
Oddly enough, the only downer in this issue of HYPE just has to be the review of OUR BODIES, OUR SELVES by Libby Hatch, who not only handled the back issues and subscription departments but seemed to be the mag's softer rock/singer songwriter specialist and if I recall even performed the same duty in a 1975 issue of CREEM. In case you don't remember, OUR BODIES, OUR SELVES was a best-selling softcover feminist manifesto of sorts that, although not written with the ideal that all men are evil ogres as Hatch opines, was still way over-the-top with typical seventies feminist gusto in its dealings with all sorts of subject matter that one would find better suited for the ashcan of history where all of that libber rot belongs alongsides communism and left-wing libertarians who supported Guiliani for president. (It does makes me wonder if Libby is her real name or just a sly reflection of her sexual political agenda!) Now I'm not saying that this review does not have the right to exist, but does it have to appear in the pages of a high energy rock & roll magazine edited by a fierce Buckley/NATIONAL REVIEW (at least during the pre-neocon days) fanatic? The inclusion of this thankfully brief writeup is kinda akin to if Rod McKuen had inserted a sweet spoken word poem right in the middle of a Von Lmo guitar solo, and you know I'm right!
And maybe I should also mention just how much the former HYPERION staffer turned communist revolutionary/skyjacker/murderer Bryce Tuller figures in even this late in the game. Snide asides directed at Tuller can be found in this issue (as they could even in the very last issue where a "note" from the guy asking "Should I worry?" appears in the lettercol, with Jenkins giving a strong affirmative!), and while I'm at it I should note that the ire that Jenkins directed towards his former partner even spilled into the pages of CREEM with a letter allegedly written by Tuller bemoaning the passing of the Velvet Underground, Stooges and now New York Dolls! But then again, perhaps it was the actual Tuller writing this note...I mean, he must have had enough free time to continue following the rock scene from his cell, eh?
I guess it might be hard for some of you readers out there to realize it, but I really should impress on you as to just how important fanzines like HYPE(RION) were at the time even with their limited distribution and inability to compete with the mainstream mags. While major newsstand publications like CREEM had their own snot-nosed take on rock as a suburban punk rebellion, 'zines like HYPE(RION) along with the rest of the early/mid-seventies line-up took CREEM's reason-for-being and ran away with it, in fact IMMERSING THEMSELVES in that crazed bargain-bin/garage band attitude that I guess wasn't that uncommon even if you didn't see it mentioned on tee-vee at the time. These fanzines, like the garage bands of the early-seventies, were that crucial to the development of rock outside the corporation even if they were working in their own enclaves for their small and hopefully devoted audiences, and though the recognition and payoff wasn't always that great (even if Jenkins and many others did make it into the big time), like playing in Simply Saucer it was the ultimate credo of true "cool" (and a world-wide audience) and proof that a large audience and fame/fortune would eventually come even if it was thirty-plus years after the fact.
And, in case you're really interested, there's a rather informative (but not all-enveloping like I certainly would have liked) on-line interview with Jenkins that might help fill in a few of the gaps left out of this post.
It's sure wonderful (especially for a zilch-dimensional obsessive-compulsive rockism maniac like myself) reading good Golden Ages of Seventies Rock Writing such as the kind found in HYPE(RION), especially after being bombarded with the sub-sputum prattle that passes for rockcritspeak, fandom-mongering or what-have-you that appears in print or in pixel even after thirtysome years of rockism devolution! Who knows, perhaps the day will come when a new Golden Age of Rock Writing will creep upon us, but as far as I can tell only a major shift in musical tastes, and the deaths of a few rock bloggers out there, will hasten this new revolution. Until then, save yourself and glom any shard of classic fanzine/rock writing Golden Age scribing you may come across these days lest you turn into a regular VILLAGE VOICE reader, and what fate can be worse than that?
(And finally [I hope!] on the subject for today, I am still looking for any other issues of HYPE[RION] that might be floating about, especially the earliest ones from the very late-sixties/early-seventies when Tuller was a member of the staff and the magazine was not as music-oriented as it would become within a few years. If any of you have copies you're willing to part with for a modest fee [or hey, want to give away gratis to the BLOG TO COMM fanzine library] please let me know post haste. A clandestine comment in the proper place will get the message to me sooner than you think!)
***Reg'lar readers of this blog know just how much I dig the bejabbers outta the old DENIM DELINQUENT fanzine. Not only was DD neatly-printed and laid out in a professional fashion with photos and crisp, well-delineated artwork, but Jymn Parrett just hadda've been one of the few fanzine editors of the day to sport what I would call near-universal tastes. And by that I don't mean he was listening to a lotta slush or anything, but Jymn sure knew how to mix and match everything from the Stooges, Alice and the MC5 to Rush, Aerosmith, McCartney and Nugent. With a credo as expanding as that, no wonder DENIM DELINQUENT and BACK DOOR MAN were compared and contrasted by various fanzine reviewers on more than a few occasions!
Having read and re-read the complete seven issue run of DENIM DELINQUENT I've acquired o'er the past few decades, it has hurt me sorely that there were no more DDs left to conquer. However, instead of crying about it like Alexander the Great I merely seeked out other fanzines of the day hoping they would hold up to DD's boundless quality and devotion to the high energy metallic ideal. Some have, most haven't, but still I seek 'em out. However, while doing a little of that seeking I discovered this gem, a "suppliment" of sorts to issue #6 of that sainted fanzine that contained all of the stuff that didn't fit into the next-to-last issue published in a nice digest-size similar to DD #7 only with less pages. Let's just say that the acquisition of this rarity (which doesn't even appear on the DD website!) was a real godsend, almost like finding another issue of that manic fanzine to have and to hold and if you don't think that latching onto this was one of the best archaeological finds of '08 then may I call you an even bigger dunce than I originally suspected you to be?
Nice Eno cover story courtesy Parrett here. Never knew what Parrett's perspective on Eno was so it's great to read about it for the first time. The mention of the then-brand-spanking-new CHAMPAGNE AND NOVOCAINE bootleg sure sent me back to days I'll tell ya! Tom Bingham puts his two cents in on Benny Bell's "Shaving Cream", a seventies top tenner that I don't remember for the life of me! And it was a durty one too which is really surprising since none of those off-color records ever got past me nor the parental censors either! Of course what I really like about this companion is the large bargain bin album review section where Jymn gets to detail his then-current $1.98 faves in order to clue us in on the best cutout buys of the day. (And oddly enough, I don't remember seeing hardly any of these records floating around in the cheap section of my local record shop, though I still can recall latching onto Monty Python albums with relative ease!) Anyway, Parrett's "Consumer Guide" makes a load more sense than anything Robert Christgau would dare conceive and hey, I'm actually going to buy a few of these discs, unfortunately not at bargain bin prices, on the strength of Parrett's own recommendations. If they turn out to be bum steers there will be hell to pay, but you can't say that I'm not the adventurous sort of lad who will try a late-sixties unknown on the strength of a review by one of the smartest fanzine editors of the past!
Posted by Christopher Stigliano at 6:24 AM
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
ATLAS TELEVISION PRESENTS THE GOLDEN AGE OF VIDEO! THE JERRY LEWIS SHOW DVD-R
Remember a month back when I rambled on about Jerry Lewis' original two-hour-long Saturday evening television series that went from being ABC's brightest hope to their worst thud during the glorious 1963-64 tee-vee season? If you'll recall (or easily enough just click on the linkup in the previous sentence), I mentioned that Lewis' second attempt at a series, this time for NBC, fared a bit better in that it actually lasted a good two seasons unlike the mid-season cancellation ol' Jer got a good week or so after Prez Kennedy's head-cave signalled more than the end of some fabled era. However, judging from this DVD-R I received outta nowhere (actually it came from Brad Kohler who got it from Bill Shute who didn't want it anymore!) it's amazing to think that this late-sixties series lasted as long as it did, even if it was pre-recorded and we didn't have to put up with Lewis mugging for the camera for a full two hours straight either!
The print's rather fuzzy and in black & white which is probably how a good portion of the viewing audience got to see it back then, but that doesn't deter from the program's natural dinge any. And, unlike how I remember it, THE JERRY LEWIS SHOW second edition comes off rather "hip" and "swinging" even for a late-sixties comedy/variety series from an "establishment" pro, for not only do we get to see loads of blippoid "pop art" graphics and hear poppy musical introductions to the weekly guest stars (in this case Lynn Redgrave, Harold "Odd Job" Sakata, the Baja Marimba Band and Sonny and Cher), but in an attempt to be "with it" Lewis even appears with his hair banged down in front of his forehead in sort of a mock-Beatle style kinda reminding me of Robert Morse for some reason! (A bad sign, almost as bad as when all of those professional stars started growing long hair in the seventies in order to have a youthful allure, and as far as I can tell I think Stan Freberg still wears his hair in a 'fro even this late in the game!)
And yeah, you, I and even Helen Keller could have told NBC that this overly-obvious attempt to cash in with some sort of imagined "youth market" of the day really doesn't work on any level, sorta reminding me of that final season of THE RED SKELTON SHOW when NBC picked him up after the famed CBS purge of '70 and tried marketing him in the same manner. Even an outta-the-loop kid such as myself could see that this long-running series on its last legs kinda came off like Peter Max trying to re-package Curtis LeMay, but really by the early-seventies these shows were part and parcel to an "era's end" if you know what I mean but that doesn't mean you weren't sad to see 'em go!
But I doubt that I would've shed any tears over JERRY LEWIS's NBC axing even if he did get Moby Grape to make an appearance! For being a variety show, you can already see a lotta the rot that would infest all of those GLEN CAMPBELL GOODTIME HOURs and TONY ORLANDO AND DAWNs in the seventies that I'm sure many of you felt obligated to watch after a hard day of school and homework mostly because you had no choice. Y'know, complete with the same unfunny skits (including one where Lewis plays a cube who rents at a swinging singles apartment misfiring a lotta pathos in the process) and dullsville musical/production numbers that were part and parcel to just about every comedy/variety program of the seventies. And by "production numbers" I have in mind the finale with the Baja Marimba Band doing the lazy Mexican peon schtick straight outta Speedy Gonzalez complete with Lewis as a Frito Bandito that would have driven Ceasar Chavez to eat grapes and offends even the more non-socially-inclined amongst us! For totally different reasons natch but at least their hearts are in the right place.
The whole thing is of course marinated in Lewis' patented and well-worn doofus act that might still have worked wonders with the 12-year-old boys who were tuning in for all of those old Martin and Lewis films but what about the rest of us? I have the sneaking suspicion that Sonny and Cher were taking notes for their own variety series of a good five/six years later, and hey I can recall when Lewis himself guested on that very series singing "Send in the Clowns" which must prove that karma works in very mysterious ways!
Well, gotta take one thing back and that is that I kinda got some enjoyment, hackneyed as it may be, outta the spy spoof featuring Lewis (in his NUTTY PROFESSOR guise), Redgrave and Sakata (who really must've been hurting for work at the time) with Redgrave as a secret agent wife who hasn't quite broken the news to Lewis about her true profession yet. Got at least one mild yuk outta that one, especially the part where Lewis tries to get Sakata to stop strangling Redgrave by dealing a slew of ineffectual karate chops. (It does watch a lot better than I am describing this...believe me!) But once that moment passes its back to the same late-sixties television doldrums which, sad to say, seemed to have lasted well into the seventies and perhaps even eighties with only a few bright spots on the network and syndication levels to appreciate. TRANSLATION: if you ever have the misfortune to live or re-live for that matter the late-sixties and seventies, stick to the indie stations, syndication and PBS at its liveliest (MONTY PYTHON, silent movies...) lest you become an even bigger zombie than the ones who turned into these programs with mid-amerigan relish. Better yet, buy a bus ticket to either Cleveland or New York City and immerse yourself in the underground rock happening in those burghs, which was at least my own personal salvation even if I experienced this stuff nth generation!
The strangest thing about THE JERRY LEWIS SHOW mach II is that for a production from the not-so tail end of the sixties it sure doesn't retain much of the spark and verve from the fifties/early-mid-sixties days of the medium like Gleason's and Skelton's shows at least attempted to. All of those 1958-period SKELTONs that PBS aired in the late-nineties are vastly superior on all levels to what Lewis was doing a good decade later, and even a classic like the Harpo Marx episode (the first full-hour SKELTON) from '62 cuts Jerry acting hipster for an audience that probably didn't even exist to ribbons. Considering that I do remember this show being more trad in a mid-sixties way (with Lewis beginning each episode with a monologue in front of a big JERRY sign that was usually misspelled for comic effect), it's probable that someone at NBC "updated" THE JERRY LEWIS SHOW for its second season in order to get more of a LAUGH IN effect, and we all know how well that show's held up, eh?
I dunno, but I was expecting a tad more, perhaps a bit of a reverberation from that fabled television Golden Age which made Lewis a star to begin with, but frankly with prime time entertainment like this no wonder the airplane glue industry skyrocketed overnight. At least Dean Martin knew how to put on a good hour fulla sly sexual innuendo and barfly gags galore, right?
Posted by Christopher Stigliano at 6:26 AM
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
A TREND IN MODERN SPEECH CONTROL THAT I HAVE A SNEAKING SUSPICION A FEW OF YOU REGULAR READERS WOULD FIND TOTALLY COPASETIC WITH YOUR OWN SENSE OF POLITICAL CORRECTNESS. NATUALLY I FIND IT CHILLING, BUT AS USUAL YOUR COMMENTS WILL TRY TO SET ME ON THE PRIMROSE PATH, EH?
Posted by Christopher Stigliano at 7:50 AM
Saturday, June 14, 2008
O-Type-THE NEW EDGE 5-CD box set plus DVD-R (Family Vineyard)
Whenever I get into a mood more suitable for the city dump than a high-spirited blog such as this, I settle back in my comfy chair, grab a bunch of old fanzines and early/mid-seventies period CREEMs, and to top it all off slip a few of my long-time fave rave recordings onto the good ol' victrola or the chairside laser launching pad. Pretty soon the troubles just seem to be bubbling away like Dow bathroom cleaner in my over-greased Italian tub. And as of late, it seems as if those Bruce Anderson/Dale Sophiea O-Type disques that Family Vineyard have been releasing for quite a few years have been making more than a suitable backdrop for my evening relaxation. I've been a huge fan of this band ever since their first cassette-only release back in the mid-eighties, and that particular self-titled one (their bestest in my own humble opinion) as well as their followup remain faves that I sure hope Anderson's Quadruped label will reissue on disque more sooner'n later because these two sure need to be heard by more than the few dorkoids who picked pennies offa sidewalks in order to be able to afford these raucous efforts back during one of the more pathetic times in rock histoire.
The O-Type platters that appear on Family Vineyard are no slouches either, with Sophiea (the Jerry Garcia lookalike of the band) by this time handling electronic sampler in addition to his bass guitar with the resultant spew sounding a good deal like an ambient free jazz fusion heavy metal band that's bound to give everyone from Eno and Chick Corea to your standard metallic "poseur" a good night's headache! At one moment O-Type can come off like they're serious studied music school graduates performing a mid-seventies vintage electronic composition before creating a free-form atonal guitar screech akin to the original pre-Stim MX-80, and perhaps this is "supposed" to be adventurous and difficult music (or "musique"), but I find it strangely exhilarating!
I naturally hadda dig out all of my O-Type recordings after receiving THE NEW EDGE, a collection of all five Family Vineyard O-Type recordings that comes with a bonus DVD-R of material shot by Sophiea with soundtrack material by who-else-but. Considering I already had the O-Type Cee-Dees proper the folks at FV decided not to send those to me again (which is why I hadda dig the disques out myself!) but I did get the neat box that the platters would've come in, as well as the aforementioned DVD which certainly is a great surprise outta nowhere especially for one like myself who tends to drool and cling to every note and slice of jelled sputum that the MX-80 cadre seems to spurt out, X-tal excepted. While O-Type seep into your cosmic consciousness-rotted mind with their typically free-form soundscapading (coming off like something Bernard Herrmann would have had the good sense to keep under wraps for fear of his life), we are treated to visuals of flying pests boring holes in wood planks and acting like the pestulance they most certainly are as they buzz around in wooded areas while termites crawl through rot and ants scatter over what seems to be a dead cicada. Rather unappetizing, but it won't make you puke your guts or anything like that. After that at-times unnerving episode we're presented shots of jellyfish in an aquarium swimming about like globs in a lava lamp in a sequence that reminds me way too much of those short films that used to fill out the hour on PBS back in the seventies. Pretty entrancing even if it's being done by a non-professional 'stead of some videographer. If you too want to relive those thirty-plus-year-old days of watching seventies television on hot and humid summer nights too lazy to get up and change the station to the late news, this should bring back those truly fond memories of glorious inertia.
If you're unfamiliar with a good portion of the recorded output of Bruce Anderson/Dale Sophiea's extracurricular activities, THE NEW EDGE is a good enough entrance into a new world of gloriously difficult, yet life-reaffirming music. As for the DVD-R, you may start to feel pangs of discomfort and general uneasiness watching the insect kingdom at its destructive best but it ain't like an accident where you feel it's your duty to rubberneck in order to glom all of the gory details. As for me I find the whole package a nice testament as to what "art" in an affects-you sorta way can aspire to even this late in the game, and lemme tell you it sure means a lot more to me'n all that hackery that has been getting pushed as art for the past umpteen years. It gets ya here, y'know?
Posted by Christopher Stigliano at 12:20 PM
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
The Groundhogs-SPLIT CD (EMI, EU)
Steering away from their blues roots and heading on even further into that vague "rubric" (copyright 1984 Robert Christgau) of progressive rock, the Groundhogs seem to have hit upon a nice li'l niche of their own with SPLIT. Mixing early-seventies heavy metal and whatever was left of the English r&b scene at the time, SPLIT does make for a pleasant romp into the guitar-based shenanigans that were overwhelming the cast and crew of ZIGZAG at the time and come to think of it, this 'un was even considered pretty hot snat for more than a few mid-Amerigan teenage bunsnitches, George Brigman included. A few tried and trues out there might feel like doing a bitta wincing at various definitely un-punk smart guitar moves (I don't), but then again when you're right and ready to settle back into heavy metal bliss T. S. and crew all of a sudden switch gears and head back to their roots for the album closer entitled (what else but) "Groundhog". With groups like the Groundhogs, Can, Amon Duul II and later on Dr. Feelgood and the Stranglers, it's not hard to fathom why Liberty/United Artists was one of the more hotcha major labels in operation even if we hadda pay import prices to hear some of it!
(And true, this is yet another one of those reviews o' mine which really doesn't say very much about the music at hand, but then again given how important SPLIT remains in the canon of heavy metal this disque's natural credibility and overall accomplishment is already known to you readers so why beat any more dead horses to the point where the resultant mess is ready to be sold at the butcher shop as ground round? Besides, I've done that already more'n a few times with my very own hagiographic praise of many a band, and frankly my sense of rabid fandom tends to make even me nauseous at times!)
Posted by Christopher Stigliano at 1:05 PM
Sunday, June 08, 2008
The Groundhogs-THANK CHRIST FOR THE BOMB CD (EMI, EU)
It may seem like heresy, but until now (almost four decades after the fact!) I never had the opportunity to hear this (some might say) "seminal" Groundhogs album. Well, maybe there were opportunities to give this platter a spin, but it wasn't like I really was champing at the bit as they used to say. But yes, all those years of underground hype and collector scum flagging in the pages of FLASH was not enough to get me off my fat and pitted behind to search out a copy...not that doing something along those lines in the eighties and nineties was exactly possible given this particular album's unavailability in the racks of anyrecordstore USA, and it wasn't like I had the $$$$$ or the energy to pay the usually exorbitant prices these once cutout gems were now commanding on the set sale market. But really, I should bow my head in abject shame!
But get it I did (as part of that aforementioned Groundhogs box set) and hey, I'm glad I did to be even more trite about it. While nowhere near the top of the heap when it comes to the best hard rock albums of 1970 (as Hot Scott Fischer mused in his NIX ON PIX piece on these boys) THANK CHRIST FOR THE BOMB is still a solid condender from an age where the gap between post-sixties folkies and heavy metal scrunchers was ever widening. Not that it's another FUNHOUSE or IN ROCK (two albums that Fischer decided to lump THANK CHRIST FOR THE BOMB in with, at least aesthetically), but when you stack it up next to the early-seventies softie competition it's no contest man, no contest!
For being an early-seventies "antiwar" album (whether or not it's the WW I-themed "concept album" that a couple critics have claimed is open to discussion...frankly I say nada) these Groundhogs sure did a good job of it by not being too obvious, or better yet not letting the message get in the way of the music like many whole wheat commune types and their hardcore offspring did. (Which reminds me of the time I heard the American representative of Crass' Existencil Press making an appearance on the old MAXIMUM ROCKNROLL radio show a good quarter-century back. Well anyways, it seems as if this particular lass, who was on the show giving the anarcho-punk line for the eagerly-awaiting denizens of hardcore USA ripe and ready for OVERTHROW, was the most dour, saddened, and staid-serious individual who seemed to be walking the face of this earth, perhaps burdened by the weight of all the world's ills and she sure wanted to let the rest of us know all about it! When, during her discourse on the anarchist movement [of a particularly anti-capitalist nature] someone from the MRR peanut gallery asked if the music that appeared on the Crass label was entertainment, Ms. Existensil gave a definite resounding "no!" as if how could someone oh-so-enlightened as herself even consider thinking about such frivolities! No , the music of Crass and the various artists on their label was not just something to listen to casually or for the artists to "make money" [for shame!] off of, but of a higher plane with the musings of such free-thinking anarchists as Bakunin and Goldman which continue to influence all sorts of brainy boys 'n girls for their revolutionary role in the Next Great Depression! Or something like that. For years I thought that her views were rather lofty, and I'm sure they were as well for the average snooty kid buying up Crass along with their Oi and whatever else hotcha imports Systematic were tossing our ways, but I still get the sneaking suspicion that a few of the eighties Crass leftovers are still taking the words of Crass' US representative to heart! What do you think?)
Oh...where was I??? Yeah, at least the Groundhogs KNEW that their music was first and foremost to their entire rockism makeup, and the message, although I guess important enough, wasn't supposed to overpower the general high energy setup of this band. And while THANK CHRIST FOR THE BOMB may not be a "heavy metal cruncher" of the first order, that certainly doesn't mean it's instant douse. Au contraire, this 'un really a nice slow-cooker that I'm positive would have made it big with a few more early-seventies hard rock maniacs other than George Brigman!
And really, what else is there to say other than it's a nifty perk up for the ears and much more! Don't wanna do a track-by-track dissection of the disque since I already mauled Simply Saucer with just that last time, but I will make these observations...1) Tony T. S. McPhee was one of the best post-blues hard rock players and singers of the early-seventies, and in the hest heavy metal tradition he really knew how to capture the despair and angst that the HM formula was building its reputation on at the time, 2) the antiwar lyrics, like on Black Sabbath's "War Pigs", really transcended the typical hippydippy "Peace Train" and "War is not good for children and other living things" quap of the time and make for intriguing study, 3) the Groundhogs really washed a lotta their traditional blues tendencies outta their system with this one and 4) although the record seems to drag out a little towards the end it's probably because I was exhausted from listening to the first 3/4th of it! But I hope that if I eat enough Maypo I will be getting enough energy to sit through this one w/o dropping off into slumberland...that's what I get for reserving my listening time to the wee-wee hours, and I'm not talking about Chuck Berry's extracurricular activities either!
(And as an aside to my earlier Existencil Press comments, I should mention to you that the bizarroid English anarchopunk band known as the Apostles actually recorded the Groundhogs' "Mean Mistreater" [from the CROSSCUT SAW album] on one of their cassette-only releases, which probably doesn't mean a hilla beans to you but it sorta makes my above point come around full-circle, in its own bizarre sorta way.)
Posted by Christopher Stigliano at 10:25 AM
Wednesday, June 04, 2008
Simply Saucer-HALF HUMAN/HALF ALIVE CD (Sonic Unyon)
Sorry, but my review of the Groundhogs' THANK CHRIST FOR THE BOMB will have to wait until the next post (perhaps). True that's a good one and a disque that certainly deserves its own day in the sun or on the blog as it may be, but this is STOP THE PRESSES material we're talkin' about today, hotter'n anything else that might care to woosh across the laser launching pad as of late and (perhaps with a little luck) one of the TOP TEN...nay...FIVE RELEASES OF THIS YEAR and its release certainly is a momentous occasion in the annals of underground rock hipsterisms which warrants a humongous mention not only on this but every other blinkin' blog on the face of the earth!!! Which of course it won't get so excuse me if I get puffed up about it even a little bit?
It's hard to review a disque like this without leaving all of my personal feelings aside. After all, ever since Bruce Mowat hipped me to Simply Saucer a good twennysome years back and actually wrote a cover story for my own crudzine on these guys back in '88 they've been one of those wowzer groups outta nowhere that sorta came and took jaded as a whore ol' me totally by surprise. And also considering how Simply Saucer were a group born and bred in the mid-seventies of early u-ground rock upheaval (from the same fertile compost heap that spawned all of those classic "proto-punk" acts that I've been writing about whilst everyone else was more concerned with the latest bilge comin' outta amerindie USA) only made me froth over 'em even more than I would have had Simply Saucer been the latest 'zine flash o' the day. So please excuse me if I do lapse into blabbering droolpits of unbridled enthusiasm for this new release...just imagine it as my own reaction to your own brain syntax snappings whenever you get your faverave queercore compilation complete with a complimentary tube o' KY, and I don't mean Kentucky!
Hmmmm, nice package. The cover artwork by J. D. King conjures lots of tasty images and prophetic vibrations regarding this platter. Avant garde yet traditional, just like the music. I'll betcha that a good portion of the money put into this release went into paying King to do this neat saucer motif cover. Well, like much of this album artwork that reflects what's in store once the needle hits the grooves or the light hits whatever it is on Cee-Dees, it does make for a nice compliment to the actual sounds at hand sorta like Warhol's Banana on THE VELVET UNDERGROUND AND NICO, the Marvel Comics pop art poster fold out that came with the Deviants' PTOOFF!, or Mario Shifano's stars that graced the Le Stelle Di Mario Schifano package, three peas in a psycho-delic pod if you ask this wizened rock fan!
The music's no slouch of course, and considering how many of these underground group reunions are too little too late affairs this 'un seems to take up exactly where Simply Saucer left off which certainly is a pleasureable experience especially in these days of sixty-plus retirees trying to relive teenage glories in their long-gone garage bands. And true, you never can really "go home" again, but listening to this new disque is just like movin' in next door. Edgar Breau's voice may sound a little more strained and haggard than it did on those thirty-plus-year-old recordings we all know and love, but it's still "there" in its perverse eeriness. And besides, considering all the kids he has you'd think he'd be straining it yellin' at the top of his lungs alla time!
All joking aside, this is a wonderful release, half studio and half live which this time doesn't seem to bother me one iota. "Exit Plexit" starts things off (which is no surprise since this reportedly is the first song every written by the band!), and if you ask me it sure comes off like an instrumental from MX-80's late-eighties period. With the energy kinda turned into itself and made even more intense. Almost heavy metal, or perhaps even HM proper if you were one of those types who subscribed to the CREEM mid-seventies concept of what was and wasn't metallic flange.
"Takin' You Down" is another (presumably) newie from the group, with a sly "Dance the Mutation" swipe and a particularly gnarly vocal courtesy Mr. Breau. If it didn't sound so clear and professional (which in this case helps out overall) I woulda sworn this was some forgotten mid-seventies recording.
"Almost Ready Betty" has funny late-sixties scat vocals and a general sound that reminds me of 1968 pop going underground. Y'know, stuff like the Head Shop and a few other 99-cent shopping market albums you sneered at in 1972 but ten years later you sure wish you snatched 'em up at such low prices. It could have been a track on the BEFORE THERE WAS...TIME album even! Nice middle break which sounds like the best late-sixties Southern California guitar move you never heard.
"Now's The Time For The Party" reminds me more of late-period post-electronic Saucer which would figure since this one appears in a live form on the "other" Sonic Unyon Saucer release, the redo of CYBORGS REVISITED with all them extra tracks added on so's people who bought the original release would get it again. Actually, it is nice hearing it in a studio setting.
Following "Party" comes "Clearly Invisible" which is another song from the early electronic Saucer days. If you have the latest issue of my fanzine BLACK TO COMM and actually played the Cee-Dee that came with it rather than tossed it out like at least one dorkoid out there did you'd get to hear how this song sounded back in the proto-punk glory days of 1975. This new version sounds quite different than the "better known" version you can still find with a little ease, kinda like some long-forgotten krautrock number from 1971 that was done by a bunch of Munich longhairs stoked on 1968-period Pink Floyd and the early Velvet Underground (two nifty cheap ref. pts...hope you don't mind!) I could see Can performing this one easily, or at least the early-seventies variation of the band back when Hot Scott Fischer was calling 'em Germany's answer to the Stooges. Beautiful music this is, and frankly the use of modern electronic gadgetry to re-create the early-seventies synthesizer sound is pretty funny in itself, sorta reminding me of the way it cost thousands of dollars to do the same type of Sci-Fi effects in the old ED WOOD movie that Wood only spent pennies on! Wait---the credits do say that guitarist/electronics man Daniel Wintermans is using old analog synthesizers on this platter 'n not the digital remakes I thought he was! As Catherine the Great would say, "That's a horse on me!"
After this sonic assault to your system comes a nice acoustic surprise, "Dandelion Kingdom". Now don't go puking your pablum at the thought of Edgar Breau and company going soft schmalz, for this Shadows of Ecstasy (Breau's under-appreciated 1990-vintage band) leftover is great Syd meets Ray meets Michael Hurley whimsey and I don't even think Breau has even heard Hurley! I'll bet it woulda fit on HAVE MOICY! easy!
Now we're onto the live goodies...the guy announcing the band sounds familiar, wish I could place the voice. (it might be my "close personal friend" Imants Krumins, but the ears couldn't quite make it out!) The audience sounds sparse, but what would you expect these days even though you'd think a Simply Saucer gig in this day and age would pack the place to the rafters! Anyway starting off the set's "Low Profile" which also popped up on the CYBORGS reish a few years back, and yes, it does remain as much of a slow-burning intense number as ever.
If you wondered what "Mole Machine" from the original CYBORGS album would sound like live, here's your chance. Nice electronic quivver thanks to presumably the "Moog Theremin" that Wintermans uses. Mid-section kinda reminded me of "Interstellar Overdrive" which I'm sure Mr. Breau would be pleased to read about even if he probably didn't intend for it to.
"I Take It"'s yet another one from the late-seventies CYBORGS demo groove sounding just as bizarroid fresh as the original, perhaps with a bit of early-seventies kraut and UK "People's Rock" tossed into the guitar interlude. Judging from what I've heard so far, this must have been thee live show of last year!
Breau kinda sounds like Mick Farren on "Get My Thrills" and come to think of it, the song sounds like it coulda ended up on one of those latterday Deviants albums. It pretty much gallops along like some long lost sixties punk anthem, and the use of electronic whirls reminds me of what the Peter Laughner-manned Pere Ubu were coming up with their mix of mid-sixties budget tunes and similar synth washings. (Meaning that if you ever claimed to even owe slight alliegence to the original Pere Ubu sound you shoulda bought this 'un long ago, and no excuses will be accepted!)
Hmmm, the flipside to the groups' first single entitled "I Can Change My Mind" shows up next. I remember how Breau was remarking about a review this one got in the old O. REXTASY fanzine where Solomon Gruberger compared Saucer to Moby Grape, and although Breau really likes the Grape he said it wasn't his intention to cop anything from this venerable San Francisco band. Listening to it again all I gotta say it, Edgar you sure must let your subconscious get the best of you sometimes!
Closing this live sesh's another one from the original Saucer playlist, "Illegal Bodies". But wait, this time Saucer's starting it out slow-like and building it up to a neat "Sister Ray"-ish pace sorta sounding like a cross between that infamous bone-crusher and the Pink Fairies' "Uncle Harry's Last Freakout" which in itself was a "Sister Ray" swipe! Talk about a show-stopper! I'm glad that there was nobody following the Saucer that night because after all this you know that the hapless headliners would get booed off the stage!
And what else could I say? Definitely a contender and one of those all 'round offerings that satisfies the true high energy maniacs amongst us not only with the awesome music contained therein but the top-notch packaging as well! Nice photos (love the ones with Breau standing next to some stained glass that I only wish were large enough to appreciate) and boffo informative notes as well including some great bits of reminiscence from Breau himself talking about David Nelson Byers spinning a freshly-procured copy of TAGO MAGO and fainting a few minutes into it! That Breau is such a great guy, and I like him not only because he is one of the few truly "politically incorrect" (in the purest BLOG TO COMM sense) people in this scummy rock & roll biz but because he's one guy who stood firmly in my corner when I certainly needed a li'l boost during a particularly trying time in my life (and I'm talking about more than that particular kerfuffle which can be seen vibrating throughout my blogposts even this far down the line). For that I'll always be indebted to the one called Breau. But don't let that put you off...this Cee-Dee, it really is that great, and what more could anyone say other'n this is one of the most adventurous, exciting and purely uninhibited rockism recordings to hit the boards in quite a long time. And what are you gonna go, keep snuggling up with your Dirty Three albums the rest of your born days?
Posted by Christopher Stigliano at 8:47 PM