Saturday, March 14, 2009

GOT MY TWO REVIEWS POINTING AT YOU!

This is going to be a (comparatively) short one, not because of any lack of blogworthy material to review (and believe me, I got enough this past week to last at least the lifetime of a Dennis Kucinich for President blog), but because I am otherwise preoccupied. Preoccupied mainly with reading the latest issue of UGLY THINGS which arrived in the mail today and (as usual) has enraptured me to the point where I pretty much do feel like Snuffles from the old QUICK DRAW McGRAW cartoons when he'd swoon, sway and float in the air upon the ingestion of a dog biscuit (pardon the anti-esoteric writing all you intellectuals out there!). As you should know by now, the appearance of UGLY THINGS in my or anybody else's mailbox is a major event in the life of any rockster because this mag is def. the only rag on the market today worth reading from cover to cover, sans any interruptions and hopefully with hours of great music to help magnify the rockist experience of devouring such a herculean publication. Yeah, I've tried SHINDIG and glance through an occasional SIGNAL TO NOISE and a few other current periodicals out there in read-me land, and although they're okay I guess they still don't have alla the jam-packed information and just plain rock thrills that a mere page of UT exudes. You can bet your bottom buckskin that I'll be burning more'n the midnight oil (like perhaps a few Cee-Dee players and a reading lamp) pouring over this ish for the next few nights, and if you don't expect at least another half-baked writeup next blog roundup then may I call you Karen Quinlan?

Right now, what else that's big on the BLOG TO COMM itinerary are such funtime goodies as a coupla volumes of DC's much (and rightfully) vaunted SPIRIT ARCHIVE which had been taking up my precious reading time at least until UGLY THINGS's recent arrival, and although I can't deny this ambitious series' Golden Age greatness and the wonderful writing and artwork of Will Eisner just like every other schmoe out there I should 'fess up to you that those back cover blurbs printed all over the dustjackets of these things are enough to make me wanna chuck the entire (costly) series out the proverbial window! OK, I can understand that Art Spiegelman is a "respected" comic book art au-thor-oh-tee and all so's his high-falutin' opines are I guess "supposed" to be reprinted ad nauseum, but some jamoke at USA TODAY callin' THE SPIRIT "the CITIZEN KANE of comics" is just too much at least for an oft-gagging comic fan such as I to bear! Now, I must admit that I'd be put off by a blurb along the lines of "the PLAN 9 of comic books" just as much (why no "SINS OF THE FLESHAPOIDS of comic books" anyway???) but having such things as good ol' Saturday Afternoon Barbershop Kids entertainment the calibre of vintage forties comic book sagas dumbed up for the chattering classes really does the entire form no good! In fact, it only comes off like just another example of dilettantes praising the same "trash" they scorned for ages now that the particular era is long gone and for all practical purposes DEAD. Sorta like they did with punk rock, which they loathed for eons until it suddenly became enshrined in the history of music (see Anastasia Pantsios' more recent palpitations for a good example). Maybe if I threw away the dust jackets?

Until next go 'round's UGLY THINGS reviews, here are a few items that have been tickling my ears as of late, and maybe they're fine enough to french yer lobes as well:

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JOBRIATH-CREATURES OF THE STREET CD-R burn (Elektra)

The first time I ever heard about Jobriath I couldn't believe what I was reading. Twas in the pages of NEWSWEEK, a '73 vintage "special issue" dealing with the arts in Ameriga'n all the high and mightiness that goes along with it, and amidst the standard upper-crust praise on everything from homebred movies (Woody Allen's SLEEPER being amongst the images featured on the cover) to painting and classical music to be found therein was a bit on rock or pop or something to that effect which I assume the editors felt worthy of mention alongside the 'serious" stuff. Anyway, in that special section there was a pic of this emaciated fairy dressed like a clown complete with a Ferd'nand-styled conehead hat and what I believe were fake fluffy clownsuit buttons affixed to his bare flesh named Jobriath, and the description of his stage show read like a script from the NATIONAL LAMPOON PRESENTS THE DAWN OF DECADENCE DVD...onto a stage adorned with an art deco version of the New York skyline comes our hero clad in a gorilla suit, and while the music rages on Jobriath/the ape climbs the Empire State Building while fighting off the toy biplanes encircling him as the tension builds to feverish pitch. Then after the sound abounds to a frightening crescendo the stage goes dark except for a spotlight on the ape-suited warbler, who then descends the skyscraper, strips down to nothing but a fur g-string, and begins his big budgeted (and not all of it went up the nose) stage show that I guess was calculated to put those of Alice, David and all the rest to shame.

CREATURES OF THE STREET does convey a bit of this overblown gay/old movie campkitch but (thankfully) not enough to make it yet another mid-seventies Bowie wankoff that we've all come to know and abhor or enjoy, depending on your own mental instability. "Dietrich/Fondyke" does tend to do a little envelope pushing since it feature nada a whimper from this wizard/true fairy but his backup gal singers blurting out the names of various femme movie stars of yore, but other'n that I was surprised to hear that this guy, contrary to the image I would have had of a lisping wannabe adagio dancer, had a rather good voice that didn't ooze effeminate smarm. And that voice is put to good use on numbers that may reek of overproduction (BERLIN sounds like Mitch Miller in comparison) but make for occasional ha-ha deca-glam slam fun and games. Coulda been a neat spin at Club 82, though I'm sure the people waiting to hear the Dolls, if not 'luded outta their gourds, might have put up a bit of a fuss. And although musically this ain't no great shakes with "The Jobriath Symphony Orchestra" (who sound like members of the 101 Strings doing a little moonlighting) backing him up, but as far as mid-seventies gay froth goes this one might even top such space kiddettes as Dorian, Another Pretty Face and even Jay Gatsby!

Kudos to Mike Snider for the burn of this obscure relic of a more innocent time...will get to the rest of his freebee offerings hopefully more sooner than later.
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THE BON VIVANTS-BLACK HONEY CD (Gulcher)

I wanted to get in a review of this 'un last year just so's it woulda made my year-end summation of things usually not worthy of such notoriety, but I guess it is better late'n never that I latched onto this one at all. Anyway, you may have read my review of the Bon Vivants' debut 10-inch EP awhile back, and you too may have marveled that a group like this could ever dare exist in the here and now after all has been said and done in the world of rock music since those halcyon days. I mean, the Bon Vivants sound a whole lot more 1976 than they do 2009, or at least they sound like one of those outta-nowhere bands that fanzines like BIG STAR woulda covered to the hilt because there was something new in the air, and it was ten-year-old rock modes! The kind the Bon Vivants excel in, only they're doing forty-three-year-old pop rock forms filtered through thirty-three-year-old retro ideals, but it sure sounds better here in the cyborg waning days of this decade than all of that moderne-day pooh being passed off as the bona-fide goodness-to-gracious garage rock of the day I'll tell ya!

Anyway the Vivants' latest entitled BLACK HONEY is just as good as that outta-nowhere surprise debut, and major kudos must go to Gulcher Records for signing these guys lest they sorta flitter away into nothingness like way too many rock bands of worth have over the past few decades or so. The twisted Southern pop take (sounds mid-south even if these guys are from Georgia) mixed with the studio-wise production calls to mind Mitch Easter or at least what he was doing during the Sneakers days and the overall performance and production'll probably have you dreaming up more interesting comparative accolades than Eddie Flowers did in his own nifty bio of the group! Maybe the Velvet Underground meets Television with Eno recorded live at CBGB in '76? Naw, that's too convoluted...make it Big Star (the band, not the aforementioned fanzoon) meets the Modern Lovers in Kim Fowley's garage laying down some demos while these fourteen-year-old blond triplets with double-d cups show Kim the true meaning of sisterhood. Well, it sounds better than most of those "____________ crossed with ___________ recording in _____________'s studio" comparisons you've read from myself and others ever since day one!

Only real downer here is the cover of Frank Zappa's "I'm Not Satisfied", not because it's a Zappa number (and a good 'un at that!), but because it would seem that the Bon Vivants probably have more than an ample amount of good songs in the rep and don't need to cover anyone else's music for whatever reasons they may conjure. A nice surprise outta nowhere (at least nowhere would I would suspect something like this to come outta!) and I don't care if it has an '08 date, I just may mention this in my year-end roundup up the best and worst that have and will transpire this current solar orbit!
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That's it for now...stay tuned to this blog for my UGLY THINGS review hopefully this midweek, and maybe in another seven I'll have some more reviews of recently-unearthed items to dish your way. Until then have fun, and remember to keep your ass covered, especially if you're in Melbourne!

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

If you don't cease and desist with the Melbourne jibes, we'll come over to your house, tie you to a chair, put tooth picks in your eyeball sockets and force you to watch an endless loop of Bless the Beasts and the Children.

Christopher said...

Sounds like a typical evening at Dave Lang's house, sweetie!

Anonymous said...

The NY Times is more punk than you Mr. would-be-punk-elitist.

Bet you never even heard of this band:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/15/arts/music/15rubi.html?em

Christopher said...

Thanks for the compliment about being a punk elitist (I believe in elitism of the Mencken school just as much as I believe in populism of the Pat Buchanan variety). But as to the point of your note I must say that yes, I have heard of Death (who were one of a thousand "punk before punk" bands of the early seventies...only a hermit would've been shocked by the punk onslaught of the latter portion of that decade) but never could afford to buy their sole single. Of course with all of the hype surrounding their latest Drag City release I will have to latch onto the thing more sooner than later. Expect a writeup as soon as I can afford this once-obscure artyfact.

But calling the TIMES more punk than me (as if I ever was a punk or even punque) might be stretching things a bit. But then again I don't read outright communist-leaning publications unless they are brought to my attention via a linkup on the CHRONICLES site.

Anonymous said...

Stop hassling Melbourne, it's a way more sophisticated city than Hermitage, Pensylvania! I mean you are too much of a schlub to even make it down here! And we have better pizza and macciatos and procioutto than inbred moulies over there have! In fact we still have rock n' roll bands down here, unlike in the US of A!! I mean sheeit, any country that accepts CUT COPY with open arms, pockets and back door has got majpor rockism issues!

Christopher said...

If "sophisticated" means boy brothels then call me Zeke and give me a piece of grass to chaw on! An' dazza nicea choice-a food you have-a down there inna Melbourne, pizan!

Anonymous said...

wha?

Anonymous said...

It's you that lives at the Hermitage isn't it?

Christopher said...

whoa!

Christopher said...

It's me that lives in the Hermitage. Are you from Jamaica?

Anonymous said...

No, I meant, it's you that lives at The Hermitage in Pitman PA right?

Christopher said...

No, I live at the Pittman in Hermitage, PA!

Anonymous said...

Oh OK. I thought maybe you live at The Hermitage (the queer intentional community and center for gay creativity) in Pitman PA judging by your writing style and some of your subject matter (Jobriath etc.)

Christopher said...

Brother, you couldn't be further from the truth!

Anonymous said...

If there's one thing on this earth which Chris ISN'T, it's a fag! Isn't that right, Chris?

Christopher said...

The direction this comment section is taking bores me! C'mon, can't we discuss something other than the Hermitage or Melbourne (aka Sodom South)???

Anonymous said...

You just seem nice, that's all...

Christopher said...

Brother, you couldn't be further from the truth!

Anonymous said...

Yeah that guy just couldn't be further from the truth. I actually watched Maniac again last week and it was something a bit more like that which kinda reminded of you and got me so as to tune into your blog after a bit of a hiatus.

Donald Knots.