Saturday, March 07, 2009

LUTHER THOMAS TRIO-SAXCROBATIC FANATIC CD (Creative Improvised Music Project, available via Cadence)

Gentle reader, once again I am at a loss re. writing one of those info-packed woozer-doozer megaposts where I get to dribble on in detail regarding a half-dozen of the hotcha recordings both old and new to have graced my lobes since our last chitchat. Thank goodniz for that. Really, I find myself getting into various writing ruts all the time and even if I do like to blab on about my current listening experiences maybe I should try to be more creative and varying in my approach if not my own personal opines. And then again the ol' juices, or whatever I've been able to squeeze outta the rinds, just haven't been flowin' like they would when I'd just burst all over the room'n crank out yet another issue of my long-gone crudzine during my younger and less inhibited days. Of course back then I'd take days, sometimes weeks and months off from writing in order to re-charge my rockist sanity, but in these days of instant internet communication such a frivolity is certainly not allowed for, and truthfully, like Superman and Dick Tracy I feel obliged not to take a vacation from my blogging duties in order to inform and enlighten even the dimwittiest of you faithful BLOG TO COMM readers.

Not to say that I haven't been enjoying myself when the duty arises. Besides indulging in a load of disques both old and new (mostly the former due to the stringent economic conditions I must confront daily) I have been spending my precious pre-beddy bye time reading even more recently-acquired PLASTIC MAN reprints as well as taking in a movie the new-fashioned way, mainly via the modern day miracle of YouTube! And what a modern day miracle it is, because in the here and now, at the tip of your very fingertips, you can now see in the privacy of your own fart-encrusted bedroom a film classic like I just did, mainly the Don Knotts epic THE LOVE GOD? which I gotta admit was one biggie must-see on my film list, a list which includes such cinematic wonders as PERFORMANCE, PAY DAY and of course that cute dago kid movie DONDI even if the comic strip sucked more than a la leche convention.

Well, I do recall seeing a good portion of THE LOVE GOD? back when it aired on NBC's MONDAY NIGHT AT THE MOVIES, though to be honest about it I must admit that your's truly was actually sent to bed by my mother (who continued watching the film!) right around the scene where Ann Francis was thinking up a good scheme to do away with Don Knotts' virginity problem! (Such mandatory early bedtimes and/or channel switches also occured during my growing up days including WHAT A WAY TO GO [the Shirley MacLaine/Paul Newman bathtub scene], although THE IMPOSSIBLE YEARS actually got the set turned off when the biker character told David Niven that what he knew about sex could get you arrested!) Well, there was no parental guidence suggested or even implied when I tuned in to see this flicker in its entirety yesterday (please don't tell mommy!), and despite the naysaying to the contrary I will place my wee-wee firmly upon chopping block by saying that THE LOVE GOD? is a pretty snat film (deserving of cult status!) that was worth the wait to watch especially considering how I was thinking about dishing out the bucks to buy the DVD version that's easy enough to find on ebay and perhaps other areas of the web including Amazon and Arnie's Virtual Back Alley Emporium!

Hokay, the premise of Knotts as an innocent publisher of a failing birdwatcher magazine transformed into a porn king might be stretching things a tiny bit, but former BILKO-mate Nat Hiken manages to mix classic fifties/sixties entertainment with the New Morality so hands-down easily that this film, funny half-backed plot and all, makes for an exemplary thumb-upper esp. if you think the merging of classic sitcom elements and the late-sixties "now" film mentality is one of the best pairings since Leopold and Loeb. The screenplay holds up a whole lot more than one would expect and the cast, featuring besides Knotts and Francis such stalwarts as Edmond O'Brien as the pornographer/partner of Knotts, Bob Hastings (ex-McHALE'S NAVY, probably best remembered by you as Kelsey on ALL IN THE FAMILY) as a member of an ACLU-styled organization urging Knotts to fight on for the sake of free speech, James Gregory (Luger on BARNEY MILLER) and the guy who used to play Corporal Boyle on GOMER PYLE is pretty copasetic with the entire gist of this film which seems so incongruous in the way it looks so innocent on one level and sleazy on another! Believe-you-me, watching THE LOVE GOD? sorta smacks of what it would be like if they started discussing erectile dysfunctions on GILLIGAN'S ISLAND!

Also noteworthy of mention is the scene with Darlene Love and the Blossoms in Supremes drag doing this great late-sixties via 1962 girl group pop number, plus I should point out that former child star Junior Coughlin makes a brief appearance as a reporter and how can you argue with a cast like that! And special kudos must go to actor O'Brien, who spent '69 not only acting in this wonder but the all-time slaughter epic THE WILD BUNCH making that year a real power-packed double header for this famed forties survivor!

Even with the homey gloss look that at times makes you think you're watching an early-sixties Disney feature there is a good enough lowdown quality that I guess made this film deserve the old "M" rating back in the day. And all these years later THE LOVE GOD? even earns its current-day PG-13 which it lives up to even without some of the stronger language and overt sexuality moom pitchers of that rating usually contain. Well, all I gotta say is that they sure don't make PG-13 films like this anymore, and anyone who's out on the prowl for a good clean dirty movie (shades of Alan Funt plugging WHAT DO YOU SAY TO A NAKED LADY?) might wanna tiptoe over to youtube for a nice evening viewing that'll have you flashing back to the days when this kinda entertainment was deemed nudge nudge enough by the kids discussing what they saw on the box the previous day during their lunch break encounter! Just convince yourself you're watching a good version of THE PEOPLE VERSUS LARRY FLYNT and you'll have yourself one whale of a time!

Before we get on with today's rockist screed I thought it would be also wise to point out yet another new addition to the ever-growing list of BTC-approved websites that I know you will both know and perhaps even cherish. And as far as these link-ups go all I gotta say is...who woulda thunk that the great BACK DOOR MAN fanzine would have ever make it into the age of internet but it has and via its very own myspace page as well! (Check linkup at left for, as they say, "more information".) As anyone who has ever perused a fanzine would know, BACK DOOR MAN was perhaps thee ultimo self-publication read to have popped up during the Golden Age of Rock Writing, a time when most of the rock fanzines that were appearing on the scene were shall I say pretty "etapoint" when it came to writing about such an unbridled sound in some of the most cutting, controversial, offending and high energy ways possible. And yeah, in a sea of TEENAGE WASTELAND GAZETTEs, NIX ON PIXes, DENIM DELINQUENTs, CAN'T BUY A THRILLs and SLADE PARADERs one might think that BACK DOOR MAN woulda been crushed under the heavy tide of moral offensiveness, but even when stacked up against even a tres-caustic offering as TWG BACK DOOR MAN knew how to write about the true, gritty underbelly nature of rock & roll as seen through the drug-sotted eyes of it SoCal just-post teenage denizens, all of whom really did their darndest to counter-attack the ever-growing legions (or shall I say lesions???) of seventies peacelovecreeps who were doing their best to ruin a whole lotta things including my very own growing up period for which I will never forgive 'em! Maybe that's one reason I like these old BACK DOOR MAN's so much. Too bad I didn't have a copy to help guide me through high school, but then again if we all hadda do it over again I'm sure we'd've been packin' some iron during recess!

BACK DOOR MAN's debut issue is now available on this page for download or perhaps just some casual on-line reading (with more to come!), and in this mere ish you can see where not only I, but people like Lindsay Hutton and James Marshall not to mention the fine folks at KICKS magazine got more than a few good ideas to swipe for our own crudreads. And it is a doozy too, "guaranteed to offend" as they say especially in these rather frightening anti-free expression times but also guaranteed to inspire, motivate and (best of all) rev up the old resensification elements in ya with its powerful writing and no-holds-barred attack mode which seems to be in such short supply these (chicken) days. Stacked up against the entire bulk of "rock criticism" seen o'er the past three contest man, no contest! One can only hope that the entire run of BACK DOOR MAN'll be up and running more sooner'n later because if the snide, snarling attitude of this rag infects even one unaware mewling post-hippie brethren to help kick-start a new generation of anti-PC rave-up rockscreeding it will not have been in vain. And who knows, if such effete nonentities as Jay Hinman and Dave Lang dare to penetrate this webpage's walls they might even be offed for good, and Lord knows what it would do to J. Neo Marvin you lovable electric bunny you!
Well, now onto the main meaty review portion of today's literary abomination, mainly this Cee-Dee which is yet another close eyes and snatch outta the collection offering that you might want to osmose at least a little pertinent information outta. Dunno how many of you have been following the career (for wont of a better term) of avant garde altoist Luther Thomas, but he has had a pretty exemplary one not only as the "star" of a number of St. Louis-based Black Arts Group sessions but in New York during the '79/'81 punkfunk avant jazz movement spawned by the success that James Chance and his Contortions were having in that burgh at the time. Like such free jazz mongers as Rashied Ali, Sonny Sharrock, Arthur Doyle and countless others, Thomas was one who knew enough to capitalize on the popularity that the new jazz had with the new rock audience, and you gotta be glad that the guy probably got more than a few bucks his way for being smart enough to associate with people who copped his entire style and swagger and laughed all the way to the bank, or at least to the connection!

This trio setting also features gutiarist Kelvyn Bell who was also part of a New York underground rock scene as a member of Kelvynator in the late-eighties (LP easily enough obtainable via ebay in case you're interested) as well as drummer Ronnie Burrage, and from the liner notes one can find out that these three actually started out as a garage trio in the early-seventies playing avant versions of Motown and other concurrent hits! Well all those years later the three still cooked hot enough with Thomas sounding like a freaky cross twixt Chance and Albert Ayler while Bell cranks out good enough jazz guitar chords not anything near the Sharrock-esque feedback blare I would have hoped for but swell enough. Burrage's drumming is nothing special mind you, nothing near the Murray-esque free play I would have hoped for but it does fit in at least as backdrop for this urban revolution music.

The "Spirit Room Series" recordings from whence SAXCROBATIC FANATIC came seem to be worth the time to search out, for they feature relatively recent (mid-nineties) sessions from some of those players whom I even forgot about over the years, and if you want to hear some more playing from the likes of such legends as Billy Bang, Frank Lowe and even former Red Transistor sax player Ken Simon you might just wanna hit the Cadence site linked up above and indulge yourself in some of this freedom blare that I seem to find myself playing at an even greater frequency considering how this music seems to be the soundtrack for my general nervous state these days. Expect even more avant jazz dribbles from this blog as time rolls on, and it wouldn't hurt to check out Cadence or ebay for some of these CIMP recordings which, at least from what I've heard, sound just as out-there energetic and nerve-bending as the stuff that originally hooked me onto this music way back in the good ol' days of record shops that would actually stock these wonders as if they were just as relevant and commercially viable as the latest disco abomination!


Barry Goub!er said...

Nat Hiken directed The Love God?...I gotta watch it again! Bilko on WWME every nite is the only thing keeping me in Chicago!

Anonymous said...

Hey Chris,

It's me from the Spin Age Blasters. Thanks again for the review. I too have been farting a lot and feeling bored by a lot of the rural rock/acid folk/soft sounds for gentle people currently popular in my scene. But I found one album that really excited me: I know you've heard JD Blackfoot's the Ultimate Prophesy ad nauseum, dunno if you like or dislike, but that's not my point. Ya see, Radioactive bootlegged it with FOUR singles (that's EIGHT tracks, including the famous "Epitaph for a Head" . . . but the other seven tracks are AMAZING hard rock/psych from 68-71 that's JUST PERFECT. Plus, the Ultimate Prophesy album is quite awesome in my book . . . but even if you don't like that, these singles are DESERT ISLAND material. If you don't like it . . . . I'll mail you my left finger in penance. Yers truly, Brian C.