MERCER COUNTY CONFIDENTIAL PART _________
Thank God (or Bill Shute, or both) that the drought has ended here at BTC central for I am in the midst of what one would call a bountiful harvest of musical and visual wonders bound to tickle the cranium, amongst other things. Yes, even an upbeat and generally positive person such as myself would admit to the fact that general living conditions and happenings on the kultural front have been rather slow, dark, dank, depressing and other fun-loving adjectives for quite awhile, but with the arrival of a few packages of worth and other witty cliches straight outta some fortune cookie the tide has begun to turn (prior to this the turd had begun to tide!). Now I can remain well and happy and dish out for you a whole slew of fine reviews that I hope will inspire you to greater things as they have me. And what's better is that I have a few other interesting irons in the fire that just might see some fruition once I do a little Sherlockin' and cherce le femme, or at least cherce the group for that matter. Will keep you posted.
Until then chaw down on these recently-procured items that must prove something about these final days of the oh-ohs...what exactly it does prove I do not know but I'm sure if someone will write in and tell me I'll remember to tell you next time.
***Scarcity of Tanks-NO ENDOWMENTS LP (Total Life Society, PO Box 6592, Cleveland, OH 44101)
Maybe it shouldn't be so surprising that there are still these late-eighties styled underground longplayers not only being recorded but released on vinyl t'boot, but hey if I just didn't zone back to 1987 after listening to this hard-grate effort that seems to typify the old/new underground a lot more than it does the new/new one. And glory be but they are a Cleveland bunch too featuring not only former Death on a Stick/Ex-Blank-Ex member Andrew Klimek but Chicago practitioner of the new no wave Weasel Walter, who ain't from Cleveland but I guess just happened to be in the neighborhood at the right place/time. (Some of the other names on here do ring a bell, but not being as studied in the whys and wherefores of more recent underground banter I cannot discern who they are or what they might be famous for at least in their own musical sub-spheres.)
Scarcity of Tanks do recall some of the more free sounding acts of the past like Hollow Heyday to name but one, but seem to have more going in their direction (like perhaps the use of free sax courtesy Matthew Wascovich and Don Wenninger). The overall results are a nice bit of cacophony rock that's nothing what I would call out of the ordinary, but sure stir up more rockist tendencies than a lotta the stuff the eighties post-hardcore underground from whence this music was birthed ultimately led to.
***Forbes/Tyler/Walter-AMERICAN FREE LP (UgExplode)
I must admit that while I find a good portion of what passes for the newer generaion of punk/underground rock to be a pale imitation of the real 1960s/70s under-the-covers thing, the new avant jazz that I have lent ears to this past decade is just as wild, as feral and as downright tightroping between sanity and utter abandon as the better moments of the movement back in those wild and under-documented late-sixties days/seventies loft days. This effort, which not-so-surprisingly enough also features the likes of Weasel Walter who I think is trying to break the most-appearances-on-an-avant-album-within-the-span-of-a-week record previously set by Jeanne Lee, continues on that brave path to music transforming itself into utter energy (copyright 1968 Wayne McGuire) which as well all know has been in rather short supply for quite a long time. Very maddening indeed...and seriously, I doubt that any of these musicians were thinking about flamingos when they were laying these slabs of 3-D sound down!
***The Pyramids-LALIBELA LP (Ikef, PO Box 220426, Chicago IL 60622)
This back-to-Africa free jazz ensemble from Yellow Springs Ohio released three albums on their own Pyramid label back in the mid/late seventies, and whaddya know but all three have been reissued via the small Ikef label out of Chicago. I remember seeing their albums for sale via the New Music Distribution Service catalog and at no time did I think that the bald-headed surf group of yore was making a comeback on the free jazz scene even if I was quite puzzled that these new Pyramids were using the same name as that classic group of "Penetration" fame. Personally I thought it strange in the exact same way that a couple of publishers (including the shoulda-known-better Marvel) had usurped the copyright-lapsed Captain Marvel name at different points in the sixties, but who am I to quibble business savvy-less person that I am. But given all of those eighties/nineties acts who were using classic sixties/seventies band names and feigning ignorance why should I cry over these Pyramids versus the ones of yore anyway?
Like many sixties/seventies black youth of the day there's a hefty affinity with the Motherland to be heard on this platter via the use of African percussion and definitely third world rhythms and attitudes. Throw in some decidedly western instruments like saxophones and electric bass guitar and you got Burundi au go go! The resultant music is a lot more engaging than some of the big Afro chest beatings heard during the day as the group swings into various hot grooves all overlaid with a wall of percussives that goes farther into the African Experience than most dabblers in the form wold have dared travel. And. happy to say, nobody involved with this album contracted leprosy during its making!
***Charles Brakeen-RHYTHM X CD-R (Strata East)
This has longtime free-player Brakeen backed by the old Ornette Coleman band including Don Cherry, Charlie Haden and Ed Blackwell. And if yer expectin' it to sound like Jan Garber methinks ya've been hitting the sterno a little more often than ya should! Nothing what you would call over-the-top but it still satisfies like Coleman was always known to and if you want to hear more of it there's always this rarity!
***John Cage-WORKS FOR PERCUSSION - QUATUAR HELIOS CD (Wergo, available through Forced Exposure)
Realistic enough interpretations of various early Cage percussion ensemble pieces that I guess sound pretty much like I think even a chance-y person like Cage would have wanted them to, though I must admit that I prefer the original recordings which had a sorta forties/fifties urban sprawl to 'em and didn't seem too beret and stale doritos. This kinda music should prepare you for things like the Beatles' "Revolution 9" and Frank Zappa's "Return of the Son of the Monster Magnet", or izzat the other way around?
***Various Artists-ACID DREAMS CD (Past & Present)
Nimble-minded moi actually forgot why I ordered this six-oh collection of garage band (pseudo) rarities in the first place considering how I have about thirty years of such albums just crawling outta my split-in-half mind, but given how often I don't delve into the font of garage rock past these days maybe I latched onto this in order to do a little resensification on my part. True there are a few well-known and perhaps OBVIOUS inclusions from the likes of the Music Machine and Unrelated Segments that can be easily enough found on their own albums (all these years later I might add) and tracks by the Mystic Tide, Beautiful Daze, Stereo Shoestring and Balloon Farm have been comped incessantly to the point of meaninglessness, but it's sure great to have all of these tracks no matter how great or how obscure on one disque just for the handy-dandy availablity of it all. Personal faves include the post-Litter "William" by White Lightning and the Caretakers of Deception's "Cuttin' Grass" which kinda sounds like the lost intersection between the Fleshtones and Vom!
***Pink Floyd-GRANNY TAKES A TRIP CD (Wonder Music, Germany)
Here's one for those of you who miss the vinyl bootleg special I had runnin' throughout the spring and earlier part of this summer. As you may or may not already know, many of these early Cee-Dee bootlegs usually come with a "caveat" tag and this one's no exception. Purporting to be a Syd Barrett-period offering this is bound to piss off the early-Floyd contingent with tracks that are either from the latterday post-Barret variation of the band (a "no-no" for Barrett purists) or from easily-enough available legitimate sources, but still it does have such interesting tasties as yet another alternate take of "One Of These Days" from MEDDLE and an "Interstellar Overdrive" variant I haven't heard before, Then again a good portion of GRANNY TAKES A TRIP is taken up by items along the line of "It Would Be So Nice" and "Remember a Day" which hardly warrant inclusion on a bootleg in this day and age. Hefty searching might turn up an all-inclusive collection of rarities for the neophyte and, as Robert Christgoo might say, this is not it.