And a Happy Halloween to youse and yours! Hope this holiest of seasons is treating you fine and dandy because I can tell you for sure that it ain't doin' me any good! Y'see, just this past Sunday my trusty and not-so-old ghettus blastus clunked out which sad to say has made a big indent in my typical compact disc listening routine. Not that I'm that much bugged by the unexpected croaking of said machine since I got the thing free a few years back, but the li'l mofo was nice enough to play most if not all of my burnt Cee-Dee disques (the more elitist players in the house had solidly refused to spin such low-life forms of music reproduction!) and its compact size took up much less space besides my comfy chair unlike my original boom box which, not surprisingly, continues to rest upon the shelf in my bedroom waiting to go into action whenever I dare to call it to duty. Might just crank that one up and play only the brightest and best of my collection, at least until I can find another inexpensive box that respects disques regardless of their race, creed or color, Until then it's the old vinola that will be tingling these hoary old stirrups of mine!
In many ways this mini-tragedy may be nothing but a blessing since I've only been venturing down into the dungeon only once in awhile to indulge in the pleasures of analog. At least I'll now be able to re-acquaint myself with a number of old faves as well as some recent acquisitions I haven't had the chance to make friends with yet busy loafer that I am. And yeah, as we all should know picking up a vinyl album, looking at the bee-yootiful cover art and holding that foot-wide disc in your paws when placing it on the turntable sends quite a shock into the ol' system, one you can't get by thumbing through boxes of Cee Dee (an unpleasant task if there ever was one) and a feeling of yore that reminds me of my misguided youth thumbing through albums at the record shop when I was barely into the double digits. The memories would have been much greater if I could've only afforded to buy some of those by now obscure sides, but it's sure a lot more fun remembering things like this than all of the degradation I hadda endure thanks to teachers, classmates and family!
So until I get hold of a new cheap and undependable box or have to take a long car trip to Bizoo and back it's records all the way here at BLOG TO COMM central. Here are but a few of the slabs of plastic I've dug up as of the past week which might interest you, but then again if you decides to forgo this 'un for a Pieroghi dinner I wouldn't blame you one bit!
***The Frenchies-LOLA COLA LP (Harvest France)
I don't think I reviewed this one on this blog, but I know I wrote it up twice (first as vinyl, then as a CD) inna mag so I guess this would count as "new" in a kinda/sorta way. I'm sure that you were (as was I) probably first made aware of the Frenchies' sole album after reading Greg Shaw's review of it in a mid-seventies issue of BOMP!, and his description of these obscure-os being a Gallic New York Dolls certainly seemed interesting enough to a guy like me who was on the hunt for every shard of proto-punk energy he could get his hands on during the early-eighties. Unfortunately when THE FRENCHIES would come up on a set sale list the price was usually very prohibitive which is maybe one reason we should all be thankful that a market for outta-the-way rarities such as this popped up so's that long gone albums could get reissued on Cee-Dee by small labels that are helping to fill in the cracks regarding our rock & roll curiosity. Either that or we'd all go broke in order to hear a lotta items that we otherwise mighta gone "eh!" to while being too poor to buy discs we'd definitely go "aah" all over!
As far as being "Dollsy" go the Frenchies sure had a long way to go if they wanted to catch up to even the likes of the Harlots or Queen Elizabeth. It's still entertaining enough French rock & roll that's certainly not as bad as people make the French scene out to be. Still, THE FRENCHIES lack the energy that drew many disaffected youth to the likes of the Dolls and Stooges back in the early/mid-seventies with a few high points being smothered by others that might be passable, but are far from the overdrive needed to sustain the necessary energy levels. Imagine it to be kinda bubbling-under glam rock with some punk inspiration to be heard here/there and a load of funny Amerigan gulcheral references tossed in for the sake of who-knows-what and you'll come close enough. It still sparks up in places, but even at their worst the Dolls sounded better than these guys at their best which would figure.
But even when all is said and done I love this 'un just for its manic attempt at trying to be a decadent Parisian version of the Dolls that frankly could have been a lot worse. A record of mystery true, but the biggest one would have to be why Harvest, a label hardly known for its punk aesthetics, signed these guys in the first place!
***The Third Ear Band-EXPERIENCES LP (Harvest England)
Now when I talk about a Harvest label "sound" I more or less have these guys in mind. True, if you wanted to pick nits there probably never was a "real" Harvest sound since at one time or another Harvest was home to everyone from Pink Floyd to the Move/ELO, Richard Brautigan, Barclay James Harvest, Can and Be-Bop Deluxe, but when I think of a style and ideal that would be unique to that label it would be that of a post-Psychedelic rock mixed with what some might call an English whimsy and/or psychosis dobbed all over it. Talking more Syd Barrett and Kevin Ayers than the Saints and Shirts, and I'm definitely talking these English trolls who seemed to be birthed from some fevered dream of a Tolkien fanzine convention. Yeah they're acoustic and yeah they play oboes, cellos and tablas, but these Third Ear Banders really knew how to put a lotta electricity into their performance. How else would they have gotten a gig opening for the Pink Fairies and MC5 otherwise?
Another "Harvest Heritage" collection, this '76 offering's got tracks from all of their extant albums which helps me out since I'm missing MUSIC FROM MACBETH and besides, the cover art is top notch imitation-Hipgnosis anyway. (I remember seeing a documentary on MACBETH in English Class hoping that, because of this Polanski film's PLAYBOY backing, I'd get to see some bare somethingorother from the chick playing Lady Macbeth during the nude sleepwalking scene. No such luck occurred.) Nice selection too with that great drone sound that does qualify as "rock" (or at least it did much more than Genesis and ELP did) and was quite mesmerizing in an Amon Duul I way. The tracks from the MACBETH album seem tainted by the occasional use of an electric guitar, but as far as a first time spin goes I found them satiable, even if their dischordancy did break up the spirited drive of the rest of the platter. But whaddeva this collection is just another reminder of some of the more interesting items one could find if one searched the import bins long enough...and wisely knew enough to not give the Manticore label albums a second look.
***Tangerine Dream-ALPHA CENTURI/ATEM 2-LP set (Virgin UK)
Speaking of seventies progressive rock labels, remember when Virgin was up there with Harvest, Vertigo, Charisma and Island as far as those types of labels went? Of course that was before Richard Branson hop skip and jumped onto the reggae and punk bandwagons thus skyrocketing Virgin into something that meant a lot more than those hippie record shops he used to run all over England. Anyway, right around the time Virgin was beginning to re-think their image they released this "twofa" of Tangerine Dream's second and third albums for English consumption. Having signed the group to Virgin in the wake of those earlier Ohr-label discs I guess this was Branson's way of getting some of those by now rare albums into the English progressive mainstream and again at budget prices.
Not having played either of these since at least 1994 it was almost like listening to two new albums. In many ways I'm surprised that both of these still had an undying allegiance not only to A SAUCERFULL OF SECRETS but the Dream's very own ELECTRONIC MEDITATION debut (y'know, the one that still gets tagged as an unbridled Velvet Underground/punk homage by retrogarde collector wags). However unlike that outta nowhere debut these two did seem a little sparse in the sound/production department perhaps pointing the way towards those Virgin-era albums that really made a splash with people who still had their lava lamps in order so's they could listen to PHAEDRA while watching the psychedelic spermazoid effects. Nice enough blah blah but you heard it done better before and after by Floyd, Can and Amon Duul II. I did notice just how much Tangerine Dream's use of wailing synth and church organ influenced the Kongress sound, though those guys had a heavy swing to 'em while Dream were seemingly past the rock & roll state heading towards the dawning of a NEW AGE (music). Nurture the inner amoeba in you!
***MIRABAI LP (Atlantic)
With special thanks given to Peter Grant and Led Zep for their help in making this album a possibility not to mention a track entitled "Stairway to Heaven", I was kinda hoping this Mirabai chick, mystical Krishnian name and all, was going to be some hard rock standard bearer helping to bring the original age of heavy metal to a grand close. Well, once again it only goes to show you just how wrong a feller can be. MIRABAI (the album, the group and the singer) really ain't nothing but more seventies singer/songwriter in the worst ROLLING STONE/Stephen Holden sense that's perhaps made slightly digestible by a scant few interesting shards of downright tasteful melodies here and there. Otherwise this is nothing but instant seventies eclectic gunch with a dab of seventies folkiedom tossed in with downhome country sprinkled about in a mad dash for the eclecticism so needed in these types of recording acts. Of course the usual emote so attuned to the seventies in rather omnipresent. Given Mirabai's chance gig opening for Orleans??? at Max's (don't laugh, they used to play the Mercer too!) I was hoping for perhaps some sense of guttural snide. Sad to say, none could be found which I guess only proves that this Mirabai gal actually believed the Krishna Konsciousness rant she was dishing out after all! (Oh, and by the way "Stairway to Heaven" is not the Zep song but an original gospel kicker, one of those joyous numbers about dying and how happy she is to be doing so which is oh so tempting as far as witty retorts go, but for now I think I'll pass up any snide remarks just begging to be made due to this blog's new credo of SWEETNESS AND LIGHT. Given the involvement, however tenuous, of Grant and the Page Boys I sure would have thunk otherwise!)
***Before I leave you, I gotta congratulate all of you BLOG TO COMM readers who are tuning in for boosting my stats way up this month, not quite a record as far as visits to this blog go but pretty impressive nonetheless. Strange thing, I've been checking in to Site Meter to see just what kind of a person would be reading this blog and for the most peculiar reason I've noted that a lot of my readers are emanating from the continent/nation known as Australia, many of them from none other than the city of Melbourne! Gosh, I guess I must have a lot of fans down there in the ol' outback to which I say tie me kangaroo down, and get out the KY jelly! Anyway, glad to see that some of you dingos are getting your daily dose of some real high energy rock & roll scribing and whatever, don't make yourselves scarce, y'hear?