Sunday, December 13, 2009

MORE "PARANOID RANTINGS" FROM A GUY WHO JUST CAN'T GET OVER "IT"!

Be lucky you got this, a post which was a struggle to create/execute worthy of BELIEVE IT OR NOT stature if you can believe it (or not!). Luckily I had the basics mapped out earlier this week, but when I was just about to get down to brass tacks and slip all of the asides and usual gibberish into what I had thought was a bare and basic post wouldn't you know it but disaster struck (my sister dropped her cell phone through a rain grate and I had to spend Friday evening retrieving it!). Unfortunately that grueling task hadda take precedence to this 'un and it sure took a good chunk outta my personal late-night rest and relaxation in front of some hotcha reading material time. Like I said, please do feel grateful!

While I'm in bitch and complain mode, let me also clue you readers in to the fact that I'm getting really forgetful this holiday season, so if any of you people are owed emails or items of interest from me rest assured that they probably will arrive more later than sooner. And hey, if the guys doing that Laughner box set will only get back in touch with me, maybe I will finally get off my lard-laden ass and copy some of those choice meaningful moments I wrote about the man for your very use and abuse! Please let me know not only your address, but a deadline so's I can budget my ever dwindling lack of free time and get those xeroxes out to you! Really sorry about this, but it's probably that oncoming Alzheimer's that everyone around me said that I was coming down with these past few decades.

Actually, I think the first review is par for the course (talking miniature golf but who's noticing!), though the rest ain't up to BLOG TO COMM standards. If any of you readers do notice I will consider this a miracle. But then again, I guess not.

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LINK WRAY CD (Polydor)

Ya wanna know why I actually bought a fresh copy of this Link Wray "comeback" album even though I could have listened to at least most of it if I had only bothered to search out that comp of Link's Polydor years wallowing somewhere in the collection? Well, if you're curious enough all you have to do is click here, and if the answer doesn't strike you deader than Tim Yohannon then you just haven't been reading my obsessive/compulsive screeds regarding a certain underground groundswell of raw psychosis that I've been prattling on about these past twenty(thirty!)some years! And yes, even this far down the line I must admit that coming across hotcha references such as this 'un just goes to remind me as to what a real hotbed of under-the-gulcher punkism even the oft-loathed early-seventies were, and how in many ways the fifties originators and their music were just as important to the entire hard-edge as the up-and-comers blending all together even at that early stage in the game!

You probably would think this a Jesse Ed Davis album by the cover with Link playing up his American Indian roots to the hilt. No more pompadour and suit and tie here. I do wonder what the typical instrumental rock fan of the day'd have thought seeing this photo of Link...probably woulda believed the guy was going "hippie" with the new long locks and def. loose dress code, but if even the most hard-hearted rocker'd look beyond the updated "trappings" he'd easily enough see this album for what is it. Mainly a pretty durn good sublimely-high energy effort on par with the best garageisms of the early-seventies! It's loads better'n I remembered and if anything this platter, riff-drone and all, proves that maybe Patrick Carr was right with his comparisons twixt Wray's early-seventies act and a certain batch of En Why Icons goin' the opposite way on that train 'round the bend. And sure it ain't the Link Wray sound of the early-sixties but it ain't the James Taylor sound of the early-seventies either and if Wray had been a lot more weak-willed who knows what this longplayer might have ended up like! I shudder at the thought.

Surprisingly enough for a man who only had one lung, Wray sings on all of the tracks here sounding less ferocious than he did on those once-in-awhile vocals of yore, kinda like a real-life version of what Jagger was trying to project at the time with just enough Captain Beefheart thrown in at the right time to really make this sound deep-South voodoo (even on the way-above par Jesus numbers!). Come to think of it this album is pretty much everything the Rolling Stones were trying to ape with their rural trek to Muscle Shoals making me think they would have done better to stop at Wray's Shack instead. Really, this outdoes STICKY FINGERS on a whole load of levels and it ain't funny that people remember that 'un and sorta pass on this as merely another comeback effort.

Great backing band too...not exactly the Raymen in stature even if brother Doug is on drums but pleasant enough in its backwoods surge of electricity stylings which fits in with the swamp-punk utterances of Link and his various gear. The high-pitched background vocals are also the best heard since the Primitives, and the general rural underground feeling is only accentuated by Wray's bloozey playing on dobro which shoulda at least made this a running contender with TEENAGE HEAD for some sorta punkabilly romp of '71 award. Best thing of all is that every track's a winner perhaps because Wray does not fall into the dreaded relevancy trap of the day even when he does get heart to heart on "Ice People" (no cheap Leonard Jeffries references here!), which is more or less a commentary of isolation and alienation in the early-seventies and not a timely anti-war piece of fluff. I should know because this one still stands the test while the outright "meaningful" right-on hits of '71 were already seen as the jokes they were right around when 1973 clocked in. Trust me...I remember "One Tin Soldier" and "Things Get A Little Easier (Once You Understand)" so I know what hippie relevance pandering is!

The die-cut cover repro on this LIMITED EDITION (hurry up get one kiddoes!) is a nice touch if you go for that kinda stuff, but even if this came in a sleeve showing nothing but an up-close shot of each and every one of Dave Lang's beloved hemorrhoids LINK WRAY would be what I'd call all-important rock & roll listening, an especially welcome addition to any collection considering the rock dearth-y period it came outta. It's rare to come in contact with an album that never lets up with its hard-edged attack and the fact that it was a buncha rural middle-agers doing the retro-rural rock trip (some of 'em well pushing forty!) only adds more karmik brownie points to its inherent meaning. And best of all, this is not yet another nostalgia trip many would have thought Wray would have whipped up for some easy bucks but a downright real rock & roll CONTENDER, something we could have used a lot more of back in those wimpass times that's for sure!
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VIBRATIONS MAGAZINE (Boston 1967-197?)

When VIBRATIONS took an ad out in an issue of Alan Betrock's taste/trendsetting publication THE ROCK MARKETPLACE they billed themselves as "a most unique fanzine", and being the sucker for such rock gulcheral come-ons I decided to do a little more research into this Boston-based fanzine (not "'zine" which I take as an eighties/nineties attempt to disassociate the "new" thought of underground drive from the old) which is probably best known for printing the early musings of local teen genius Jonathan Richman. VIBRATIONS (and Richman's writings) had pretty much become legendary in the Boston area not only being cross-referenced in Wayne McGuire's CRAWDADDY piece on the Velvet Underground (although Richman is not mentioned by name) but coming up in a 1976 John Cale interview in TRANS-OCEANIC TROUSER PRESS where the interviewer and Cale discuss Richman's er, eccentricity as well as that by-now legendary Velvets piece where he compares the group to sine waves (which I guess was a misinterpretation of his graph of the Velvets passing over the "make it" line while the heavies of '68 fall into the abyss). But anyway, I was surprised that this "most unique fanzine" had lasted at least into the mid-seventies given how the rest of the early rock fanzines from MOJO NAVIGATOR to NEW HAVEN ROCK PRESS pretty much were dead (MOJO NAVIGATOR) or on their way out (NHRP) by this period in rock scribe history. Let's just say that curiosity juices were certainly a-flowin'...

In the interim I managed to locate one issue, a Rolling Stones special printed rather immaculately (slick yellow color cover) detailing the current '69 tour. Considering that Richman wrote on more than the Velvets in this mag I was expecting him to weigh in with perhaps his own piece on the band (esp. tasty given his vehemently anti-Stones opines stated in the aforementioned Velvets article) but the only reference of him in this issue was as art director, a position that I believe changed from issue to issue if the current batch of VIBRATIONS I have received is any indication.

Given that my cat-killing tendencies were getting the better of me I decided to dig in and pay steep prices for even more issues of this publication. Interestingly enough, both issues #1 and 3 of VIBRATIONS have that CRAWDADDY style and look I gather is supposed to appeal to the thinking teenager looking into the rock realm with more pseudo-intellectual reading glasses in tow. Maybe that was the whole problem, but ya gotta admit that from this new jetset uppercrust strata came a whole lotta the same breed that gave the budding underground its initial thrust so maybe it best that we just don't lump the weekend hippies in with Jonathan Richman and Danny Fields at least this once.

First 'un's dated April '67 and, like a poetry anthology of the day is rather small in stature, even smaller than the current range of comic books which have certainly lost in dimension since the Golden Age. However editor John Kriedl was able to use high quality paper (stiff/slick for the cover!) making this one fanzine that won't deteriorate with the passage of time! The writing is pretty much late-sixties free flow/association not that dissimilar to the stylings also found in CRAWDADDY at the time, a style that even the high schooler Richman was aptly emulating in his various tomes which I must admit nowadays may seem strange, but I have oddly enough learned to enjoy this at least when practiced by the more engaged amongst us. Those of you who might not be that familiar with this dated-yet-enveloping writing fashion might want to try the aforementioned McGuire's own WHITE LIGHT/WHITE HEAT review in CRAWDADDY as well as his "Aquarian Journal" in FUSION, a mag that also published Richman's con to Ben Edmonds' pro review of FUNHOUSE which also gets into the same form of free-flow neo-abstractions and perhaps better remain buried lest the average Modern Lovers fan think less of Richman and his opines.

The use of space could have been handled better, with the inside covers blank while lots of empty areas just begging for some sort of snaps or at least drawings abound. The inside "spread "of local group the Orphans, who are touted as "Boston's most energetic and charming rockgroup", only opens a whole new can of questions if you ask me. Subject matter does seem apropos for the time with everybody from the Peanut Butter Conspiracy to the latest hot flash hipster acts of the day (Dead/'plane/Springfield) getting the lion's share of the publicity here. Maybe not that much different than the other budding fanzines of the day, that is, if one were able to make a side-by-side comparison of them. No Richman in sight yet, nor is he to be seen in #3 which graduates to standard 8 1/2 by 11 dimensions with a pic of Jim Morrison acting typically nonplussed for the cameras. Now sporting major label ad revenue (back when it seemed as if the major labels were more than willing to support local publications, a trend that sadly seemed to stagger off as time marched on), this Autumn '67 ish contains everything from a review of the Mothers of Invention's second which gets the raves even if I happen to think its the weakest of the Verve-period discs alongside WE'RE ONLY IN IT FOR THE MONEY I guess (but then again I have a 40+-year advantage on author P. J. Muller, who also handles reviewing the Bee Gees' first) to the Doors by Kriedl (that's the benefits of being the editor...you can give all the juicy assignments to yourself!) while the rest of the mag is devoted to reviews of the last Yardbirds album and Procol Harum, a band that a lot of rockfans I know like though I never did hear A SALTY DOG which I guess is supposed to be their most popular effort amongst the more high energy amongst us (I recall it getting a top pic on Gregg Turner's all-time best-of list in a mid-eighties CREEM). In all this issue is pretty much what you would expect to find in sixteen pages, at least from a youth-oriented intellectual fanzine coming outta one of the more folkie areas in the US extant!

I also received an issue originally published in '68 which finally lists Richman on the masthead, but again nothing definitely by him can be found inside and besides the mag had gone newsprint (cheap newsprint at that) tabloid and in many ways resembles one of those old TATTLER/LA STAR kinda cheap-o exploit rags one used to see. Jagger's on the cover and a snap of Ringo and Ewa Aulin from CANDY pops up on the inside, and frankly not much else of worth is there to be found but what else would you expect to find in eight pages? Do want to see the issues with any CONCRETE Richman contributions natch, including the one with the special Maureen Tucker supplement they issued and come to think of it, the entire run of this forgotten magazine would be a welcome Christmas present if anybody out there is willing to donate their oft-ignored copies to the BLOG TO COMM library! And while I'm at it, someone out there in blogland brave enough to fill us all in on the VIBRATIONS story with either pix, personal recollections or what-have-you???
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BOOGIE #5 (fanzine edited by John Bialas)

Now for the other end of the fanzine spectrum! Well, not really, because although BOOGIE is not exactly on the upper-echelon of professionally-printed fanzine craftmanship it certainly wasn't your standard crudzine cranked out by a buncha illiterate nimnuls on the hunt for free notoriety let alone free records (I should know---caveat!).

You may have read my opinions regarding the premier issue of this fanzine before, and if you'll only peruse that writeup you'll see that this particular edition of the mag, while certainly lacking in budget, graphics and a general sense of professionalism, certainly had a good portion of the legit press beat with its high energy aesthetics and down-home goodtime fun. Being a fan and follower of this style of rock & roll writing (as opposed to criticism) for quite some time it was sure nice to once again read the opinions of a "nobody" from Gulfport Mississippi who seemed to be saying more about the current and not-so rock & roll scene than the "effete" snobs at STONE ever could, and the fact that it was just a guy who puts his pants on every morning and watched tee-vee at night just like the rest of us only made BOOGIE, along with every other low-budget fanzine, all the more copasetic especially in my own horse-blindered ideals of what does and does not constitute good rock & roll writing, let alone good rock & roll.

So after a period of worry and fret comes this issue into my possession...#5, with an Eddie Flowers cover and a generally better layout than the debut. The promise of a Lester Bangs piece also got my interest up, plus the overall fanzine atmosphere of the day always gets me more excited than an Italian in a garlic patch! Besides, I still am a sucker for Flowers' artwork, let alone this Son of the South's rock screeding which also appears in this "Oct. '73" issue.

Flowers' "column" rattling about on things he saw on tee-vee, personal putdowns etc. is as wonderfully on-target as you would expect from any seventies kiddo who's in on the high energy lifestyle brigade. However, I'm sure he would pay to have every issue of this one confiscated and burnt for the simple fact that he actually refers to Cheech & Chong as "the punk rockers of humor" as if Iggy wasn't funny enough! (Sheesh I can accept that in my own proto-punk way I guess, though if these guys were unknowns and I sought out one of their albums based on Flowers' mention...POW!) He even writes yet another review of Can's EGE BAMYASI which extrapolates a bit on his review of the same disque for INITIAL SHOCK...it kinda reminds me of back in the late-eighties when I'd review the same disc for three different under-the-counter publications hoping that one would not know what the other one was doing!!! The rest of the mag is taken up by a myriad asst. of articles many of them Deep South-related (Wet Willie, Hydra!) but more often just opines of the latest albums and singles of the day. In grand fanzine tradition there's even a bargain bin section which still has meaning even in this world in which the bargain bin is long gone, for at least we still have ebay.

The Bangs article I was expecting does not appear tho...turns out it was actually slated for #6, an issue which may not even exist for all I or you know! How many more years of fanzine searching and xerox begging will I have to do through before I find that I wonder??? In case you wonder, the piece was entitled "I Don't Want to Live With My Mother For the Rest of My Life Like Kerouac", which might have appeared elsewhere if not here and sounds like one for the next volume of Bangs' work scheduled for...
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Cool It Reba-MONEY FALL OUT OF THE SKY 12-inch EP (Hannibal)

Another find going strictly by an old CBGB listing, this early-eighties outfit isn't anything near or dear to the BLOG TO COMM mindset but more or less typical whiny voice dancable gnu wave not unlike all of those other new and supposedly uncompromising groups of the day with David Byrne haircuts, high-pitched strangulated vocals and a big trust fund that won't quit! Not all that bad, but once you start admiring the Television-esque guitar interplay all of a sudden the dance-y rock-disco (remember Hurrahs?) beat pops up along with the aforementioned whiny voice singing the obtuse lyrics. More of a Danceteria group than a CBGB one methinks, and if you were one to go goo-goo over the debut Madonna album you'll probably love this one as well. And I was expecting a lot more from a band that copped their name from a Soupy Sales catchphrase! (Reba was that weird ventriloquist dummy head who lived in the pot belly stove with Hobart...remember???)

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

You're still obsessed with Wayne McGuire... heh... did you know you can look at his old web page. The website has been dormant since 1997 at the following but the wayback machine was watching:

http://web.archive.org/web/*/http://www.cybercom.net/~wmcguire/

Have fun.

ht said...

Danny Gatton once told me he played on a track or two (uncredited) on the Link Wray record featuring the 'Indian' cover. He said he used a spoon as a slide...

Bill Wikstom said...

A bit harsh about the Cool It Reba record. It was a critically-acclaimed disc, and they sound not unlike XTC, Talking Heads, The Police or Television.

And I've certainly heard a lot more whinier vocals than this. Great, great guitar interplay.

But if New Wave guitar isn't your thing. You're certainly not gonna like this.

Nice blog btw!