MERRY CRUSTMAS (or is is CRUSTY CHRISTMAS?)
Since I won't be seeing any of you until after the BIG DAY let me wish at least some of you a Merry Christmas. Hope you will be having fun sitting at that little card table along with the rest of the kiddies...as for me I'll be sure to enjoy my day off pounding out whatever may be of a weekend post, as well as tidy up my year-end roundup of the best and worst that have preceded us this past solar spin. May you be making the best of this Holiday Season, unless you're one of the many who have earned a nice spot on my all-time hate list. Then may Rudolph relieve himself in your eggnog.
Just started working on my recent Forced Exposure order and have some nice, juicy writeups on the Kim Fowley and Sun Ra exhumations that Norton blessed us with this year in the oven roasting, but until then here are a few items that I have come across (either outta that FE package or on my lonesome) that you might or might not want to know more about. Excuse my pithiness...it's that festive time of the year which affects me so, y'know.
***Brainstorm-SMILE A WHILE CD (Lion Productions)
I got this one solely on the basis of its Penelope Playtex-influenced cover shot thinking these guys might have been a pretty hot German proto-punk sorta nutzo act that I know I could sure use a lot more of especially in these long-washed out times! Well I was wrong again, for Brainstorm were "in reality" a good Canterbury-esque jazz/rock group that might have bordered on the fusion-y aspects of the day but seemed to circumvent a lotta the least desirable aspects of the major bin stuffers. Includes a few German radio tracks to pad the thing out to a lengthy bargain. If you like the seventies Soft Machine, Caravan or Quiet Sun you'll obviously enjoy spinning this one a few times as well.
***Charles Mingus-OH YEAH LP (Atlantic/Rhino)
A verifiable wowzer of an album from the boss early-sixties cover art (in many ways not too far removed from a Mitch Miller album!) to the great blues-unto-avant music to be found inside. It's too bad this one didn't get out into the general populace more than it did or else parents across this nation would be practically begging their children to listen to rock & roll 'stead of this atonal blare with hefty blues refs that's even more abstract in spots than Ornette's epoch-making FREE JAZZ from a good year-and-a-half earlier. Mingus on piano and vocals, Booker Ervin on tenor sax, Roland Kirk on the whole kaboodle (inc. siren), the soon-to-be punched out and toothless Jimmy Knepper on trombone, Dannie Richmond on drums and Doug Watkins on bass, all pretty much traveling way outside what was even accepted in the freedom scene at the time with a heavy disregard for form and structure. The tres outre "Hog Callin' Blues" and "Passions of a Man" (imagine a cross between "El Watusi" and the AACM) sandwich some of the most brilliant stylings to be committed to wax during the Kennedy years and one can only wonder the reaction in the Bangs household once their precious scion arrived home with this in tow!
***THE ART OF HARVEY KURTZMAN, THE MAD GENIUS OF COMICS by Denis Kitchen and Paul Buhle (Abrams Comic Art, 2009)
An info-packed history of one of the better satirists of the past century complete with the mandatory casual photos, outtakes and of course up close and personal photos of the original artwork complete with all the paste-ups and fine blue pencil guidelines readily visible. Those of us who have been fans and followers of Kurtzman and his various endeavors will definitely want to own this, though the casual observer will probably wait for a remaindered copy or just get the same information at a much cheaper cost via your favorite search engine. Just because you're fanatical doesn't mean you have to be a spendthrift!
***KRAFTWERK 2-CD set (Germanofone, Germany)
In time for the holidays comes this double disc collection of the first two Kraftwerk albums reissued as they were by Vertigo during the height of Autobahn-mania. Sure brings back fond memories of borrowing John Stanton's copy and attempting to tape it, but not following through for some unforeseen reason. Whaddeva, this was Kraftwerk at their best before the gloss of RALF UND FLORIAN sorta edged the group in a more, er, glitzy direction. LP #1's the best with future Neu! drummer Klaus Dinger giving this a particularly motorik drive and Ralf/Florian giving this a particularly frightening electronic vision that was pretty much unheard on in 1970. #2 finds the group traipsing into John Cage territory that I know threw me for a loop upon first hearing this way back in...was it really 1976? Either way, a complete surprise especially for those of you who used to disco to TRANS-EUROPE EXPRESS back in the late-seventies.