THE ONLY THING MISSING IS THE INCENSE USED TO COVER UP THE SMELL OF YOU-KNOW-WHAT!
Well, at least that's the feeling I get going through my 35+-year collection of record albums moiling away in the basement since it does remind me of some small outta-the-way record shop/back of the bookstore from the seventies/eighties where not only were a wide array of budget albums, imports and bootlegs (some which I might have even wanted to buy!) readily available, but more likely than not there was some clerk sneaking into the back room during the slow hours to imbibe in a li'l illegal substance, usually right when I'd enter the shop to espy some recent release of ill-repute! But it sure is fun thumbing through albums that I haven't given the time of day to in years (some perhaps for good reason), and hey this lack of a Cee-Dee player in my pad has even spurred me on to buying a few new slabs of vinyl which sure does bring back that tingling thrill of record listening days long gone. Here's just a smattering of some of the music that has been gracing my ears in that good ol' analog way that sounds oh-so-pure surface noise, snaps, crackles, pops 'n all...
***Nazz-RETROSPECTIVE FORESIGHT LP (Slipped Disc bootleg)
I'm sure a good portion of you readers would probably agree when I say that I don't think the Nazz were a good choice for inclusion on the infamous NUGGETS collection of sixties garage band/punk rock hits and near-misses. True there were a few questionable entries on that otherwise epochal set...Sagittarius weren't exactly a punk group by any means while the Blues Magoos and Amboy Dukes would have been better served by their hits rather than the covers of "Tobacco Road" and "Baby Please Don't Go", but the Nazz always did seem more of a late-sixties/early-seventies hard pop group closer to the spirit of the Raspberries and refurbished Hollies rather than a mid/late-sixties punk act. True Todd Rundgren became one of the few interesting forces in AM pop radio at least for a second or two once he went solo and began recording some definitely askew numbers that even had the fanzine forces bowing their heads in unadulterated homage, but the Nazz seem more or less part of that world, filed next to Badfinger in one's collection rather than the Seeds, Sonics or even Stooges.
Not that there's anything wrong with pop rock when done right as any look-see into an Alan Betrock fanzine would tell you, and it's no surprise that this obscure seventies-vintage bootleg album would only go to prove what a hot group the Nazz could have been if their albums were only...uh, livelier. And as far as pop documents go RETROSPECTIVE FORESIGHT is pretty "up-there" as far as continuing on a power-pop rampage that seemed to pass by a good portion of the record buying public at the time. Amongst other things, this 'un's got a smart update on the Raiders' "Kicks", a fun spoof of "Tighten Up" and even a gloppy string laden popster that sounds OK in the mix because everything else is so teenage pop-punk you really don't mind the gloss. (Hmmmm, so maybe their inclusion on NUGGETS wasn't a mistake after all!) There's even a live version of "Open My Eyes" that rocks out perhaps because of the poor sound quality, though the inclusion of this and perhaps other unidentified live tracks only beings up yet another bizarre question...it has been reported that the live numbers that were used here weren't even recorded by the Nazz but by the Sickman of Europe, a group that I guess (correct me if I'm wrong, gently!) featured not only former Nazz member Thom Mooney but future Cheap Trick Rick Nielsen amongst perhaps others Tricksters (I believe Tom Petterson was in there as well). The weird thing about the Sickman of Europe name is that it was used in the eighties after Cheap Trick's fame had eventually deep-sixed and Petterson and perhaps Nielsen dug it up for a go 'round in a new combo which I doubt had the rest of the original members. The data regarding this group is still sketchy and I'm sure adds to the confusion for anyone doing a Pete Frame-styled family tree. Even more puzzling for me is why would two guys who were in a major league rock group have to start from the bottom only a few short years later playing the club circuit in hope of another big chance in the limelight? I guess this music biz is a lot tougher than I had imagined! If you do want to hear the Sickman of Europe in their original state they might actually be on here and if that is them then they sure were as hard-edged pop rock good as the band they eventually morphed into! (I didn't want to bring this up since it would only add to more confusion, but the Mooney-era Sickman used to bill themselves as the Nazz whenever they'd hit Philly which is perhaps why they are on this album to begin with. I'm sure that the bootleggers themselves weren't too sure either, and who knows even at this late date which is what!)
***Amon Duul II-PHALLUS DEI (Sunset UK)
With the ol' Cee-Dee player being outta commish for what looks like forever (and me dreading to go on another bargain hunt for a new box all over town) it looks as if it's gonna be records for the duration. And what a better rec to start with than this long-time import bin stuffer, an English budget cash in on Amon Duul II's popularity complete with a low-fi chroma-key cover that belies the high powered music to be heard therein. Finding this one back in the old days was about as easy as finding John Travolta cutouts, and even though the rec didn't look like much with its stripped-down cover we all knew differently. Like most of this krautrock fodder there's a heavy influence of San Francisco before the plunge, but (as usual) what keeps this from being yet another nod out fest is the group's penchant for mixing in a nice does of mid-Amerigan sixties trash aesthetic and Zappa/Pink Floyd rumblings w/o coming off a whole lot pretentious like the Airplane did when they would attempt to inject some free jazz ideals here and there in order to get out of their own self-imposed rut. You may have the original, or even the eighties reissue which restored this to its "rightful" look, but whatever PHALLUS DEI sure brings back them teenage record store hopping feelings from a time when $5.98 seemed like a way too high price to even pay for a quickie job from the pimple faced slut in hygeine class.
***THE REVOLUTIONARY ENSEMBLE LP (Inner City)
In order to pay homage to the recently departed free bassist Sirone I decided to pull out the first album with his presence to grace my eyes while pouring through a stack or two of this long-ignored vinyl. This finale from the Revolutionary Ensemble couldn't've been a better choice with the trio of Sirone, Leroy Jenkins and Jerome Cooper playing one of their last ever shows in Austria (this originally came out on Enja) showing us yet another "dimension" of exactly what a co-operative jazz group of the late-seventies loft era could aspire to. Great jazz/classical/third world merging in the grand AACM "Great Black Music" trad with those fantastic moments of seemingly muddled free play intermingling with outrageous flash-burst. Burundi meets Bartok before the utter violin strain of Leroy Jenkins somehow works its way into your bare-wired nervous system. And Sirone is no slouch handling not only bass but flute as does percussionist Jerome Cooper, who switches between his balafon, a Marueen Tucker-esque drum kit and smart-enough piano for an added strange dimension that really would be hard to define if you had no prior knowledge of this group. Along with Air one of the better moments of mid/late-seventies co-operative free jazz that I guess was making waves somewhere, that is if you could believe what THE VILLAGE VOICE was daring to tell us at least music-wise.
***The Rolling Stones-CRACKIN' UP LP (Beeb bootleg)
Kinda looks like old bootleg week here at BLOG TO COMM not only with the Nazz album above but this Stones boot of mid-sixties BBC session appearances done up in a fantastic mid-eighties fashion. Fortunately bootlegs had come a long way since RETROSPECTIVE FORESIGHT because CRACKIN' UP sports not only a deluxe color cover that expertly mimics the time and place, but the labels resemble the BBC's very own reference discs which of course is a needed touch even if I have no idea what an actual BBC reference disc label looks like! Not only that but the pressing and general sound quality for most if not all of these bootlegs had shot up quite considerably since the seventies, and who could doubt that the eighties were perhaps the real Golden Age of Bootlegs given this upsurge not to mention the reams of releases by both familiar and cult artists that had begun to appear at the time!
Other'n that this is classic Stones taken right off the radio and (for a change) from some pretty swell sounding tapes that don't sound like they were recorded off shortwave in Belgium during World War II. And you know they were recorded from the radio because you can hear those stodgy BBC "presenters" trying to be hip and swinging yet failing considerably given their cultured voices. Side one's all studio while the flip was recorded live for I believe the SATURDAY CLUB program capturing the Stones long before they became but a belch in the stomachs of a bloated "classic rock" mindset. Really, who in '64 woulda thunk that the same guy bellowing those Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley ravers would ever wrap his tonsils around "Angie"? Me neither, but that's what happened! Just a reminder that "The World's Greatest Rock Band" might have been just that, if only for a few nanoseconds in the mid-sixties.
***PEBBLES VOL. 7 LP (BFD)
Closing out this treasure trove of albums is a longtime fave I haven't spun in years which in many ways makes it all the more desirable, almost like listening to a great album for the first time once again if you can fathom that! I pretty much forgotten just how much pleasure I derived from the first ten volumes of the PEBBLES series of then-obscure garage/punk rock single sides and this one's no exception...it's perhaps (along with the first three as well as volume 8) my fave of the batch complete with such then-rarities as the Chocolate Watchband's "Sweet Young Thing" as well as the Edge's Left Banke paen "Seen Through The Eyes" amongst a whole slew of crankouts that really captures the sound of '66 w/o nary a hint of Simon and Garfunkel. And who could forget the inclusion of the Craig's all-out raver "I Must Be Mad" which I must admit sounds much better speeded up ever so slightly like it was here! It's a real surprise to find out that the drummer for this English group was none other than a 14-year-old Carl Palmer, making me wonder just what other future dinosaur rock icons might have been playing in the groups to be found not only here but on other PEBBLES/BOULDERS albums! If I only knew, I could only make a fortune blackmailing 'em with these records!
Another boss thing about these PEBBLES discs is the definitely fandom-oriented packaging complete with the satirical liner notes that remain funny thirty years later, which is more than I can say about Bill Maher. Whereas volume two sported imitation Meltzer this one as well as the followup spoofed the infamous Tony Parsons/Julie Burchill THE BOY LOOKED AT JOHNNY tome (here called THE BOY LOOKED AT ROKY, penned by the Reverend and Mrs. Tommy Parasite!) to high-larious effect, making that particular slab of rock reading look like the excrement it truly is. Too bad Greg Shaw couldn't have expanded on the format...I mean, wouldn't it have been a gas if the liner notes to say, volume 9 or 10 were done as an imitation Christgau Consumer Guide? The mind reels as to what something along those lines would have been like!