YEAH I KNOW, REVIEWS IS REVIEWS NO MATTER HOW WELL YA TRY TO SAY OTHERWISE!
Like I said, I never intended this blog to be just a buncha writeups regarding my latest "listening experiences" that you readers can osmose to vicariously, but at this point in my life all I gotta say is there's nothing other than reviews that I feel like churning out on this here blog. As stated in an earlier blogpost, I could wax on about the World Situation, the economy, my own personal travails and who knows what else people yap about on the blogosphere, but right now all I really wanna do is play at being Lenny Kaye and write up a whole buncha interesting items that have graced my ears ever since I laid down the law last time! Maybe if something exciting would happen around here, like some major catastrophe or even better the return of NAKED CITY to our boob tubes I could pontificate about something other than some new or old items to tickle my fancy, but for now I guess I'll just stay stuck in my current rut and crank out these sausages, tasty as they may be, just so you too can pretend to have a life as rich and as fulfilling as mine!
Before we get to the meaty potatoes review portion of ths blog I believe that I should mention this (as the elders would say) wowzer of a piece on Lester Bangs that Jim Marshall recently posted on his very own HOUND BLOG webthingie, a potential article of the YEAR that I know got my bald beanie spinnin' as I know it will yours too. Now that we're heading deeper and deeper in to the twenty-first century (which to me is like Abdul's mighty phallus digging deeper and deeper into cellmate Little Jimmy Lillywhite's un-traveled hershey highway) the long-gone twentieth century looks better and better in hindsight to the point where even the seventies, a decade which Norton/KICKS bigwig Billy Miller couldn't wait to squeeze outta, seems a whole lot more exciting and high energy than just about anything being presented to us as kultur or civilization these sorry days! Thusly, reading more and more about the movers and shakers of the high energy anti-hippoid rock scene like Bangs as well as the fanzines, the loves and hates and just about every nitty gritty detail about New York and elsewhere during THE GOLDEN AGE only goes to prove (at least to my horse-blindered mentality) that there was a whole lotta downright exciting and ultimately life-REAFFIRMING music and documentation of it going on during that oft-loathed decade. And frankly I doubt that I'll ever be able to fully absorb it all even if I live to be a hearty one-thousand, but it's still fun tryin'. Best of all this mad and vibrating "underground" wasn't exactly being "hidden" from us if we only knew the right avenues and vistas to search, and as far as opening up the proper paths to take goes I'm sure Bangs was perhaps the best catalyst in getting cloistered suburban and rural kiddies to latch onto hard-to-find Velvet Underground albums and obscure fanzines like HYPE in order to shed some light on that beautiful, throbbing underground in which we all could be stars! Maybe we should be thankful to him if only for this (how refreshing it is esp. in light of a comparative nimnul such as Patrick Amory, who chastised my own efforts to "educate" my readers saying that he wasn't in the fanzine game to tell people about musical acts that interested him making me wonder...what was he "in it" for????). And although Mr. Bangs certainly had his faults and did produce a number of flopsters that really did not stand the test of time he sure was miles ahead of a good portion of the competition...I mean, may I bring up the name ANASTASIA PANTSIOS if one would beg to differ? How about that all-time great Dave Marsh? Excuse me, I'm starting to make myself sick.
Anyway Marshall certainly churned out a good 'un here that doesn't gloss or candycoat what I guess really did happen, and it's sure grand that both he and Miriam Linna decided to get their two-centavos in regarding Bangs thus straightening out the distortions and lies that were purposefully perpetrated by some of the biggie in the biz in order to cover up their own prune-wrinkled behinds. And come to think of it, dontcha think that Parke Puterbaugh's very own damning review of DeRogatis' Bangs bio (cleverly removed from the ROLLING STONE website which is why I couldn't link it up for ya) might have been the ultimate tribute to his under-the-countercultural greatness, in a backhanded way that I'm sure Puterbaugh and his boss Wenner never would have thought in a million years?
And with that outta the way, here are da reviews!
***Made For TV-SPIES EVERYWHERE 12-inch EP (Vinyl Siding)
Boy does this one dredge up memories of my commie pinko youth! Back in the day (1983 to be exact) John Foster from the old OP magazine actually sent me the original single version of Made For TV's "So Afraid of the Russians" for reviewing purposes, and in a rash of typical indignant self-righteousness I dashed out some writeup, nothing of which I can remember music-wise, filled with wild vitriol against the powers that be who were seeming making the world safe for meek and milktoast nebbishes to have their day in the sun. Believe-you-me, that screed was just brimming with scathing bromides dashed against the Machine That Be which, at the time, I felt it was the only thing I could with regards to the World Situation. I guess Foster felt otherwise, for my review was axed in favor of someone else's perhaps because the illustrious editor didn't want to embarrass me by printing that particular piece of agitpoop that might not stand the test of time the same way all of those other rants and raves seen everywhere from MAXIMUM ROCK 'N' ROLL to Daniel Ortega's last speech (which was a week ago!) haven't. I am forever grateful to him for having such foresight 'n besides, it really was a duff review!
Well, twenny-six years later Ronald Reagan's dead as a mackerel and despite the naysays of many has been revealed to have been the original neocon all along, while the Soviet Union he so hated's deader still and I must admit that I have more hope in the new Putin-led regime than I've had in the Washington one these past ten or so years! And finally Made For TV finally get a review outta me even if they too are probably deader'n Reagan and the Soviets combined!
The a-side of this EP features the entire '83 side produced by John Cale and even if the former Velvet Underground backbone's name wasn't splattered all over the sleeve this one's still a winner and holds up a lot better'n a lotta the competition on the early-eighties DIY market. It's new wave but more or less like pre-gentrification new wave, or better still new wave as it was before it became gnu wave as Bill Shute so eloquently put it at the time. The vocals on the a-side are perfect with this rather professional announcer-type voice (of the old school like think 1962 and you're watching Sunday afternoon educational tee-vee) reciting the could be spoof or serious lyrics over a good robotic clank...the resultant sounds remind me of Cale's "Rosegarden Funeral of Sores" more'n anything even if in many ways both songs couldn't be farther apart. "Unknown Soldier" takes the Doors original and deconstructs it into equally android avenues of message music that has a grip on itself. Funny, considering what a Graham Greene/Bircher type Cale's supposed to be I'm surprised he agreed to produce these numbers which could be construed as giving aid and comfort, but considering some of the other stories I've heard he probably couldn't have cared less.
Flip it over and get some new to mine ears material which I guess was recorded at CBGB although it all sounds typical studio quality to me sans the usual applause, catcalls and neat-o hi-fi sound that usually accompanies such efforts. As on the other side these numbers have a late-period new wave styling to 'em that doesn't offend me now the way they did at least by the mid-eighties or so. Albeit with more of a vocal as opposed to spoken word approach that does reflect more of that late-period self-produced style that didn't make me gag. Personally I feel that these numbers pale next to the original single (which was a cult hit, at least according to the sleeve notes), but considering some of the patented pose music that new wave had become by this time this sure sounds a lot better'n all of those groups with names like the Alphabets, the Alpha-Bits, the ABCD's and many variations thereof.
'n so Made For TV get perhaps their last bit of press ever thanks to this blog where I finally get to make some all-umportant amends for my previous indiscretion. Sorry guys but, well, I felt like really so creepy at the time...maybe you do understand.
***CARAMBOLAGE CD-R burn (originally on the David Volksmund Produktion label in Germany, available for download here )
After living through the whole "women in rock" miasma that permeated the early-eighties you'd think I'd be the last person to wanna download this album of female agitpostpunk or whatever it would be called. But Heavens to Betsy, I was really tempted to hear this 'un if only because Carambolage were signed to the David Volksmund Produktion label who also released a slew of albums by those German radical rockers Ton Steine Scherben, and act which actually put out a few interesting garage-prop albums in the early-seventies before heading for a quick oblivion of reportedly feh offerings once the mid-seventies began to clock in. The concept of hearing proto-punk stylings in a post-punk band did seem rather tasty (or perhaps I am bored beyond belief) and besides, for being a bunch of German women I'd expect them to naturally have hairy armpits so it ain't like they're trying to be unattractive on purpose!
I sure had a dickens of a time trying to download this one and you can read my comments regarding the hassle I had on the Mutant Sounds site, but once I was able to unzip this and transfer it to disque I was in krautrock heaven, or at least in German rock filtered through various seventies influences heaven which is good enough for me. Musically Carambolage owe plenty to Ton Steine Scherben and have the same kind of proto-punk chops as their mentors, but with the influence of punk as PunK their entire style and even substance was so up-to-date that I could've seen these frauleins even getting a Rough Trade contract where they would perhaps be promoted as a German Raincoats or maybe even Essential Logic!
Musicianship is superb and although the wide variety of instrumentation has me thinking that this trio had help in the studio (perhaps the TSS guys themselves) I still gotta marvel at the vast array of stylistic changes and the downright engrossing arrangements to be heard here. The vocals are snat as well and even though they're all sung in German they transcend into that legendary "International Youth Language" that anyone could osmose to with ease (besides, I dunno if I'd want to know what these femmes are warbling considering the crazed stance of the German left-league and their Baader-Meinhoff buddies in gore). And the switches in style from punky to gnu wave to even straight pop make for a great gonzoid time that I know woulda made Lindsay Hutton wanna devote at least a good half-hand-printed page of a 1980 NEXT BIG THING to, and that's really saying something!
Taken from the original vinyl you'll have fun counting all of the snaps crackles and skips to be found. Don't matter to me much but this perhaps proves that CARAMBOLAGE are worthy of a red (no pun intended) carpet treatment reissue. Until then take the cheap route and download this forgotten classic, a pinnacle of Teutonic Female Radical Ingenuity or my name ain't Rosa Luxemburg!
***Red Shark-LE FIN CD-R burn of a self-released cassette available for download here
Another MUTANT SOUNDS find, this vintage mid-eighties cassette might be a bit outside of my choice timespan of crucial underground rock sounds but it'll do for now. Although having that heavy Velvet Underground vibe that you'd think I'd go for whole hog, Red Shark are more attuned to the eighties Jesus and Marychain/Spaceman 3 affectation thereof which is definitely hokay, but somehow not as crucially exciting as earlier experiments along these lines were. Still this made for a pleasant enough 45 minutes complete with a cover of the Velvets' "I Can't Stand It" and even some tasty blues number to close the thing out. And for free, how can you lose by getting it?
***Hope to get another one out barring any future technical difficulties like I've had to endure getting this one out. Until then remember...drive recklessly. The life you don't save may be Dave Lang's!