THEN CAME THE FIRST DAYS OF MAY
Hi. Nothing special. Spring Fever, sad to say, has not set in as of yet but I'm still feeling kinda woozy to say the least which is why this post will probably be about as jammed up as all of my previous weekend writeups have this past year. Oh, I have been keeping up with all of those freebee Cee-Dee-Are burns that Bill Shute and Paul McGarry have sent me ('ve been playing the Derek Bailey ones that the former has flung my way while the latter's Milford Graves/Don Pullen dowload is worthy of a writeup hopefully in the near future) and I PROMISE to play the Serge Gainsbourghs that Mike Snider sent way so long ago (was waylaid by some other blogster doing a Gainsbourgh post which totally threw my taste buds off!) but as far as going whole hog into writing about these things and posting pertinent cover pix for your edification well forget it, it's like I just feel too whipped by these six-day weeks I have to work (and unlike God I ain't restin' on the seventh because the grass needs cut and it's gonna rain Monday!) an' besides I really need to get whipped into a nice froth about something hotcha and punky right about now, and the sooner I dig out alla my fave seventies rock groups trying to recreate the mid-sixties Velvet Underground sound records and tapes I have and give 'em a listen the better!
My re-reading of them old NEXT BIG THING's as well as some CAN'T BUY A THRILLs that I chanced upon in a box has gotten me back whole hog into the late-seventies scheme, even if I never fully was out of that scheme and the latter publication (along with BACK DOOR MAN) seemed to have a phobia directed towards the New York groups. But danged if I just want to hear every shard of sound made by just about every group out there claiming true allegiance to that old Velvet sound (New York or otherwise), or at least every group who did such a commendable thing at least before gnu wave replaced hard-edged intensity in the underground music world somewhere around the time Max's Kansas City closed up shop and Lester Bangs died. Call me obsessive/compulsive if you so desire, but I find it a whole lot more healthier let alone sane to want to experience those up-and-comers of the past who never did get their fifteen minutes of fanzine press than the current buncha ne'er-do-wells who have reaped great rewards for doing one-tenth of what some outta-place group in Cleveland or Prague for that matter couldn't get arrested for, and although fulfilling my wish may be about as hopeless as sitting through an Electric Bunnies Cee-Dee dadgum will I do my darndest to see that I get to hear just about every bit of this stuff that I can before its lights out permanent like!
Other minor beef...may have to change my opinion of the new HUMBUG compilation/collection even if ever so slightly, if only because it just seems too sterile and antiseptic at least compared with the cheap newsprint comic book-y originals which I have also come across in the same box I found my CAN'T BUY A THRILLs. After looking over these HUMBUGs I can see how a lotta liberties were taken not only with the color onlays (which looked better in the mags) but the re-set type which just comes off too modern despite the care Fantagraphics put into trying to match the original without any historical revision other'n typos. And not only that, but I saw a few spots where the color wasn't restored like it shoulda, which doesn't add up to any great offense on my part but will not make me want to part with the issues I do have. If there is anything sad about this saga it's that HUMBUG, like MAD and HELP not to mention a few thousand other gulcheral watermarks of the day, was a magazine that showed just how exciting and attuned that the post-World War II/pre-hippydippy era was for everyday people of all ages and even stripes. Maybe I am overreacting about it, but when I read HUMBUG I wanna be transported to a time and place when you could catch a lotta good tee-vee even if you only could drag in two stations and got all excited over the new cars comin' out that looked like outer space dream machines and comic books were only a ten-cent thrill and all of those things that the anti-Amerigan crowd (y'know, those Aunt Polly types who have been in charge for the last X #of years) told us were evil. Well if this is "evil" then call me the devil and gimme a pitchfork, and while yer at it give me a few good TARGETS where I can aim it at! And believe-you-me, if I ever saw Whoopi Goldberg bending over you know where my pitchfork is gonna be flung 'n but FAST!
Enough soapboxing...here are a few interesting platters to've graced mine ears this week:
***Ning-"Machine"/"More Ning" 45 rpm single (Decca Germany)
Well glory glory hallelujah! After reading and re-reading Johan Kugelberg's junkshop glam as the roots of English punk rock piece and bemoaning the fact that I had little if any chance to scarf up an original copy of any of those rare singles that Kugelberg has mentioned as being the Holy Grail of a complete musical breakfast I've actually located/bought/played this particular proto-everything rarity and boy do I like it! Dunno if you can call it glam proper because this single came out in '71, but Ning sure have that cheap punky attitude down on this 'un to the point where one could have easily mistaken 'em for glamsters of a post-New York Dolls variety had it only made its way to our turntables a few short years later. It's the a-side that gets the kids a-hoppin', with this strange swipe from "Little Bit Of Soul" and a Steppenwolf on the highway styled drive sung by a gruff voiced Britster trying to overcome his rather sissified upbringing. Other track is straight hard rock...nothing bad but nothing out of the ordinary and I'd stick with the plug side which could've been a surprise smash at Rodney's had he done his record shopping a bit more thoroughly.
***TV Toy-"For What It's Worth"/"Instant This/Instant That" 45 rpm single (Permanent)
Well whadja know. Here I go buying up this very single because I couldn't locate the supposedly "obscure" Cee-Dee compilation of this late-seventies New Jersey group's material, and the very day I sit down to crank out this review I not only find out the thing still exists, but is readily available via CD Baby! Well, I guess you know where my next $13.98 is going, but until then at least I do have this shining artyfact from the glory days of Amerigan underground rock that never did penetrate into the consciousness of youth in general even though this stuff was so omnipresent that only a Helen Keller wouldn't be aware that it existed.
I had a few misgivings about TV Toy (or TVT as they would eventually be known) probably because of their progressive rock leanings which were laid out in a NEW YORK ROCKER article from '78. In that piece which I perused only because these guys opened for the ex-Hackamore Brick Moonlight at Max's Kansas City, the band mused on about how the punks thought they sounded like King Crimson while Jan Hammer (!) thought they were punks through and through, and with an identity crisis like that (plus a Fred Kirby review of a CBGB gig in a '76 VARIETY that mentioned how the group used pre-recorded musical backing to fill their sound out) I didn't know what to expect! Fortunately TV Toy were late-seventies New York Rock high energy enough to transcend any of their more artistic leanings, and this single just oozes that great bared-wire intense sound that drew me and perhaps a few thou other confused suburban lads who were too late to join the Velvets backstage to these decade-later surrogates. Brilliant cover of the Springfield hit on the a-side while the flip kinda reminds me of what the "cold wave" late-seventies acts were best known for with their austere yet still firmly rooted in a garage band swing of things style and grace.
If you want to read more about TV Toy/TVT and even the great electronic heavy metal duo WKGB, just click here to be taken away!
***BOOTLEG OF THE WEEK!: David Bowie-LIVE SANTA MONICA AUDITORIUM 2-LP SET (TMOQ)
Here's a legendary Bowie boot that I recall even got a rave writeup in STEREO REVIEW if you can believe that. Taken from an FM broadcast like the best boots of the day usually were, STEREO REVIEW regular Steve Simels (who I must say was and perhaps is one of the most unintentionally funny rock critics to have ever set fingertips to keyboard o'er the past thirtysomething years) actually praised this double set for not only its exemplary sound quality but its performance, something that was not exactly customary of a guy whose staunchly anti-garage/punk screeds in STEREO REVIEW and other places were some of the most guffaw inducing in their predictability items to ever grace the pages of a professional mag. OK, consider that bit of rockscreed fluff just one more meaningless musing from a rock critic who deserves a dungeon seat in Dante's Circle 9 with all the rest, but I still find it interesting that some major magazine even dared to mention the existence of a bootleg in such glowing terms, especially after ROLLING STONE turned against 'em with a vengeance whilst spreading of malicious rumors regarding their quality as Ralph Gleason called bootleggers "quack robin hoods" in order to placate the advertisers.
OK, the quality on SANTA MONICA LIVE isn't that hotcha though I gotta admit that for a guy who spent a good portion of the eighties and nineties cursing the name of the one called Bowie the performance is purty good. Well, at least the Spiders From Mars play like a rock & roll band 'stead of another facet of Bowie's fantasy world and even on the more schmoozy numbers they seem to do more than a halfway decent job trying to be a...Velvet Underground for the seventies? And at times, such as on the heavy metallic cuts that originally appeared on THE MAN WHO SOLD THE WORLD, the Spiders are downright high energy 1970 powerhouse in a way that the Detroit groups and few others were during those days which I gotta commend 'em for considering the guy they hadda work with, whose musical tastes seemed to change almost with his hair style (or vice versa)! There's a legit version of this out now on LP and Cee-Dee, but these old battered insert-sleeve bootlegs just have a nice aura 'n attitude about 'em that you just can't get from some moderne-day rehash of nearly four-decade-old innovation.