Saturday, June 27, 2009

YOUR WEEKLY PLEADER! (thaz it for this round of jokes)

I must admit that I am proud that I at least got this much out. Lotsa things are getting to me right now...the summer heat, lack of good junk food, lack of money to buy records, lack of good television... The list can, and will go on. Right now I feel like I am re-living that infamous summer of '78 which was pretty much one big vast wasteland of nada where I would drag myself outta bed around nine in the morning and plop myself in front of the tee-vee to watch the 15-minute edition of ROCKY AND HIS FRIENDS that channel 21 would be showing, being way too groggy to even get up and change the station when TELEVIEW, a public affairs talk show, would come on right after. Of course I was up all hours of the night, or at least until one or two, watching the late movie or seeing if I could draw in distant stations during a tornado warning. Now tell me, do kids have fun like that today?

But manage to get a post out I did, and if you prefer to leave it rather than take it I understand. Right now I'm working on how I'm going to spend the rest of the day, whether it be in front on the tee-vee on the comfy chair on in my room on an equally comfy one as well. Decisions decisions...

And yes, I know that news of the following should definitely have been "stop the presses" material, but I didn't feel like being the first guy on the web to pass on information (along with my personal autobiographical hooey such as the kind you've just read) in order to beat everyone else to the punch. I figured that talking about it in this weekend post after all the dust has settled would be fine enough after everyone else had their say in the matters at hand, and as you all know I must have the last word no matter what!!!

Naturally the world is mourning the loss of three big names this week, that of Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson, but hearing of the passing of Sky Saxon sent me into a bigger sense of "wha' th'" than the deep-sixing of those other tabloid names that I gotta admit had little to do with anything I might have agreed with or believed in over the past thirtysome years. Hokay, I shall admit that McMahon was one of the few surviving legends of what I would call classic sixties-styled tee-vee, first as the announcer for ABC's long-lived afternoon quiz show WHO DO YOU TRUST and of course THE TONIGHT SHOW both times sidekicking it up with Johnny Carson (and thus his greatness would have to do with him being in the right place at the right time), but frankly Fawcett left me cold especially with her presentation of the most sterile aspects of late-seventies sexuality (if they didn't have the air conditioner on when they took that photo shoot who would've noticed???) and Jackson...well, the death of BO Plenty meant a lot more to me than his! But Sky Saxon...I mean, talk about legends and cutting to the core! As the leader of the Seeds Saxon certainly was the "Prince of the Punks" as the various Seeds albums will attest to no matter how roller coaster they may be, plus Sky the man was pretty strange and totally unto himself which makes him all the more pertinent, especially in my book. True his various comebacks throughout the seventies and eighties would leave many a strident hippie-hater in total froth-mode (tho I must admit to not having heard the recent Seeds reunion album), but even with the stories about him that we all read in BOMP's special punk issue as well as his becoming a downright annoyance at Greg Shaw's Cavern Club in the mid-eighties I figured that he already put in his hitch with the Seeds, so I can overlook his latterday eccentricities a lot more than I could say, David Crosby's. I mean, rambling on about saving all the dogs in the world is one thing, being the donor for a Melissa Ethridge turkey baster baby is another.



The cruelest thing about it all is that Sky had to die right when any coverage of his passing would be pushed way to the back of the burner (as if the vast majority of Mr. & Mrs. Front Porch would have cared anyway even if I do think Sky was an infinitely better performer than the vastly-overrated Jackson was). And some people I knew were so shaken by the death of Farrah Fawcett and actually were upset that the unfortunate new was pretty much wiped out by that of some teenybopper hasbeen who slept in an oxygen tent with boys. Well, how do you think I feel...sheesh, Sky and his records pretty much played the soundtrack throughout a good portion of the late-seventies and early-eighties (and beyond) with that hip snarl and teenage attitude that I wish I had. Plus he didn't have to spend millions of dollars on plastic surgery to look like a freak, y'know.

And with those last words on the subject to end all last words, here are a coupla reviews for your perusal.

***
Hackamore Brick-LONG WAY HOME CD (available via www.hackamorebrick.com or try their myspace page listen in the left-hand corner)

The re-emergence of Tommy Moonlight and Chick Newman working under the Hackamore Brick guise last year was surprising enough, but the in-depth interview with them via UGLY THINGS this year as well as this brand-spanking new Cee-Dee release were even more of an unexpected treat especially for those of us who were wondering exactly what was goin' on with the former members of that obscure group ever since they (supposedly) hung up their guitar straps. Unfortunately LONG WAY HOME has little if any of the original Zombies organ/dual keyboard sound and vision of ONE KISS LEADS TO ANOTHER that I certainly would have loved to have heard, nor were there any flat-out rockers to get our blood vessels popping before the ballads came on to cool us down a bit. Most of these ballads are nice, mind you, but I would have preferred something a bit more rock et roll mixed in. I guess I shouldn't complain because the "are" back, but after this long a wait I sure would have liked to have heard something a little more up-tempo! And yeah, I know you can't go home again, but how about next door?
***
Majutsu no Niwa-AT THE END OF SUMMER CD (There Music Japan, available thru Volcanic Tongue)

Ahhhh, this is more like it, with heavy Velvets refs unobscured by post-modern technical and societal hooey. Japanese underground rock that sounds as if the sainted spirit of Les Rallizes Denudes continues to hover about like an electric moth (copyright 1974 Patti Smith). Beautiful feedback drenched, late-sixties rooted rock & roll that seems to hop from Denudes to Stooges to early Velvets in one massive swoop w/o clinging to some of the less attractive shortcuts in rock that many of the newer post-Rallizes Japanese groups seem to have been taking to. I know I've heard one of the tracks here before...maybe it's from one of the TOKYO FLASHBACKs??? I am told that the leader of this group was one a member of Overhang Party whom I must admit I haven't spun as much as I should, but this true spiritual successor in that long Velvets bared-nerve line is making me dig out the sole Overhang release in my possession to play again and again as the summer months progress. You believe me, don't you? If not, I hate to admit that I have a buncha assholes for readers...drat!
***
BOOTLEG OF THE WEEK!: The Ramones-TEENAGE LOBOTOMY 2-LP set (The Amazing Korneyphone Record Label)

Here's an early-nineties vintage boot released back when two of the major seventies-era bootleg labels, Trade Mark of Quality and The Amazing Korneyphone Record Label, somehow combined forces and put out a number of two-LP sets using a similar cover scheme. However, unlike the original labels that seemed to rely on fresh and high-quality source material, this live '86 gig sounds about as clear as one of those standard cassette tapes that could be found at any English flea market the day after said show was laid down. Buzzy and warbly, but I guess someone out there would call it "a good documentation". Strict fans can still squeeze enjoyment out of this but the rest of us would do better to stick with the official IT'S ALIVE package or AT YOUR BIRTHDAY PARTY. I must admit to you that I did think that Korneyphone's sticking the remaining few minutes of the show on side four without padding the thing out to normal LP-side length was kinda fun, in a cheap sixties sorta way.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Jay Gatsby-PLATINUM BRAIN (THE DEATH OF JEAN HARLOW) CD (ESP-disk' 2014)

special guest review by BRAD KOHLER


Like many of you, I too was surprised to have discovered Jay Gatsby's THE MOST WASTED BOY ALIVE album a few years ago when it was reissued on compact disc (editor's note-click here to be taken to the blogmeister's very own review of this once-obscure album). After having been inundated with the likes of David Werner, Jobriath as well as a number of fey rockers of a mid-seventies variety this Boweiclone seemed like the honest-to-goodness real thing, a bisexual leaning towards the men's room rich kid whose musical ambitions and talents extended well beyond daddy's trust fund. I for one pretty much played my copy of this underrated album incessantly, and even though I am not bi nor the son of some rich industrialist who'd do anything to get his creep kid out of his hair I felt more than a slight affinity for the campy decadence and fey posturings to be found on that early release from the then-budding Arista label.

Knowing of the existence of an earlier Gatsby album, strangely enough on the infamous ESP-disk' label, was cause for alarm or joy depending on what you thought of his major label flash. It seemed strange that ESP would handle such an artist as Gatsby in the first place; after all they were the label that had Wayne County record an entire album before rejecting it after hearing but one minute of the finished product. Face it, ESP had about as much interest in glam rock as Jay Gatsby himself would have in a monogamous heterosexual relationship. But stranger things have happenened, and stranger still is that PLATINUM BRAIN, Gatsby's very own ESP album that has heen held up by litigation from release for decades, is finally available once again via the reincarnated ESP label itself which is peculiar since I was led to believe that a Syph-riddled Gatsby himself had this item mothballed in a standard case of glam-riddled guilt.

Before I get into the meat and potatoes of my review, I must raise an objection to the "alternate" cover that was used. The original, showing a neatly airbrushed artistic rendition of a dead Harlow nude in bed with sheet draped across her nether-regions like a Venus whilst various Hollywood icons of the day (Gable, Vallee, the Marx Brothers...) pay their respects has been replaced by this rather poor and crudely-drawn drawing of Harlow (done by a blind third-grader I would guess) that was used to placate the people in East Glassport I believe. You would think that in this day and age the original racy version would have been used; after all you don't see the alternate cover of COUNTRY LIFE around anymore, do you? I guess this could be chalked up to cowardice on ESP's part because I'd rather look at a naked Jean Harlow than I would a naked Jennifer Aniston anyday.

As for PLATINUM BRAIN's "theme", well ostensibly this is supposed to be a concept album about the death of the famed Hollywood star, a subject custom made for the post-Fitzgerald/DAY OF THE LOCUST thirties nostalgia craze of the late-sixties that was still in bloom thanks to the support Old Hollywood still had in the gay community. Naturally this obsession with Hollywood's Coming of Age would had continued to have a hold on many a late-night-movie fan, especially when it was spiced up with perverted sex and a general sleaziness that always accompanied those seventies lookbacks at thirties Hollywood especially after the re-publication of HOLLYWOOD BABYLON. However, liberties are taken and this album contains much more about the disturbing life and death of the original underwear-less sex bomb. The impotence and ultimate suicide of husband Paul Bern is handled with exquisite taste in "Garden Hose", a poignant scene that was actually recreated by Lloyd Bochner in the Pia Zadora spectacle THE LONELY LADY and is superbly tackled by Gatsby, who actually handles the roles of all of the characters on this platter with bravado and typical wink-nudge questionable sexuality intent.

For those of you who aren't familiar with the circumstances surrounding the death of Miss Harlow, it seems that the bleach she was using on her hair had somebow poisoned her brain. As she lay writhing in agony she was denied medical help by her very mother who was a strict adherent to the Christian Science religion. Thus the irony of this album's title, one which I'm sure had frightened off a variety of Old Movie aficionados who perhaps still are under the impression that the Fatty Arbuckle affair was but a sad aside in an otherwise wholesome and hearty film industry.

Musically this doesn't have the same brash Outer Space Gay Guy feel of THE MOST WASTED BOY ALIVE and is quite sparse in instrumental backup thanks to ESP's rather limited if any budgets. No Norman Luboff Choir here plus the best mellotron players in the Union book were not on call for this session. Not even the Godz were called in for overtime duty and in fact who knows who played on this one for the liner notes don't mention a thing other than ESP booking time in one of New York's shoddiest studios sometime in the early days of '73 for a quickie three-day recording session.

But what results came from those three days, for PLATINUM BRAIN contains some of the better imitation Bowie pose and pout to have been heard during those pre-punk days coupled with some of the most hilarious mis-takes one could have imagined. "Overture from PLATINUM BRAIN" begins the album, with Gatsby taking on the role of Harlow (nice falsetto, Jay) with such brash Broadway aplomb that you would have thought it was the actual actress singing to us from beyond the grave. Kudos to Gatsby for his smart impressions of various moving picture stars of the day from Stan Laurel to Bing Crosby that put Frank Gorshin to shame.

The rest holds up fairly well, with moments of brilliance being followed by some of the most dated (as in a seventies, not thirties way) kitsch to have been heard on vinyl since Bette Midler began belting 'em out for the bathhouse brigades. "Saratoga", named after Harlow's final film with Clark Gable where signs of her imminent demise began showing (she was heavily perspiring during shooting, that is when she was able to make her way to the studio) sounds more like a MAD magazine soundsheet insert (MAD "TWISTS" GAY DECADENCE???) than a rock song though I should admit that some of the best thirties effects to be heard (Gatsby sang the entire number through a megaphone) are clearly evident. Gatsby's Gable imitation at the end where he remarks "Frankly my dear, I don't give a death" (???) was clearly in bad taste, as if good taste had anything to do not only with this album, but the entire deca-glam genre.

As the album builds towards its fatal climax, PLATINUM BRAIN becomes even more seventies smarm though not without its unintentional redeeming humor. The brass section roaring on in "Ambulance Chaser" do recall sirens blaring as they rush towards Harlow's final destination while the eerie chant of "Mary Baker Eddy" as sung by Gatsby in the role of Harlow's seemingly detached mother will either make you want to rush for the Morphine in your medicine cabinet, or laugh uncontrollably. And it all ends in a downright frightening climax as the orchestra plays uncontrollably not unlike "A Day in the Life" while Gatsby screams utter Arthur Janov primal before it all fades away while a harp solemnly plays as the spirit of Jean floats peacefully towards her final reward. It will bring a tear to your eye, perhaps because you are finally glad this album is done with, but a tear it will bring nonetheless.

Again, why ESP would have released this album in the first place is a strange mystery indeed, but released it was and if anyone was the better for it it was Jay Gatsby. After all, it did catch the attention of one Clive Davis who immediately signed Gatsby to a contract which produced what some might call yet another forgotten glitter classic. Of course some wouldn't and I guess there's the rub. And if anyone would be rubbing themselves to PLATINUM BRAIN it would be you non-repentant glam rock fans who'd buy anything that came out of that strange era between hippie and disco that one would call the mid-seventies.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

YOUR WEEKLY BLEEDER

Sheesh. I never meant this blog to become just a showcase for just reviews of my latest acquisitions, not forgetting some long-buried faves I just discovered after a few years of neglect. Actually I wanted it to be something bigger and better than the standard runna-the-mouth blogs one may see out there in "Notice Me!" land, so perhaps I should put a little more oomph into this thing in order to placate the more discerning of you readers. Maybe I should blab more about the current world situation or the entertainment media at large, or perhaps toss in a little vitriol directed against some of those spiritual undigested peanuts wigglin' 'round in our collective rectums giving us a pretty uncomfortable time (Lord knows I don't do enough of that!). If I put a li'l more variation into this blog who knows what wonderful, award-winning reading I could come up with! So, in order to spice this blog up and prove to even the most caustic of naysayers that I am not just any sorta flybynight outta nowhere poster who comes and goes as he please, here are some thoughts and ruminations dealing with things other than music:

THE POLITICAL SITUATION: What else can I say? If anything Prez Obama has proven than a black man can be just as fuddy-duddy and screw up the economy/international scene just as much as any white man can. Now that's true equality! As far as things overseas go, after the victory Nick Griffin secured a few weeks back I guess all of those snooty Europeans who would always berate Amerigans for having George W. Bush don't have so much to say now, eh? Or is that "Heh!"??? Though in all fairness I gotta say that next to those whiny and altruistic European working class louts and their sycophantic media lackeys over there whose socialistic wankoffs I've read for years, perhaps Griffin does come off like the voice of moderation. Which only says more about the European working class and the press over there than it does Griffin. I guess Britain, France et. al. deserves that Radical Muslim influx they encouraged via limp immigration laws after all!

THE ENTERTAINMENT MEDIA: The bad news: TV Land is slipping with too many 80s/90s programs, the kind I tried avoiding at all costs back when they were being run the first time around! I always thought that would eventually happen given TV Land's superficial love of the classic television formula. At least a few of the remnants of what used to be the indies and UHF outlets do come up with the goods if you search long and hard enough, or live next to one of those ten-watt mini-stations that program the forgotten gems of the pre-hippie GA, or like to stay up until three in the morning. But man, I want Bilko and Ozzie and Dobie on my set, not the usual programming made by and for inbred Hollywood elites! One bright spot...THE BULLWINKLE SHOW is now on WGN-TV Saturday nights...at midnight???? (But not this week giving me no reason to stay up past my beddy bye time...drat!)

VITRIOL DIRECTED AGAINST SOME OF THE UNDIGESTED PEANUTS WIGGLING IN OUR COLLECTIVE RECTUMS: Fie on thee! But really, haven't I pretty much shot my wad at these ineffectual snoots long ago and to the point where I've beaten this dead horse 'til the point it could be sold for ground round at the supermarket? I know how tempting it is to make fun of a certain antipodean's beard and his holding of a silly frilly sissy cake while equally retarded mates laugh on, but really, hasn't the guy pretty much damned himself o'er the past five years with his infantile and imbecilic rants passing for "rock criticism"? Oh well, that's what happens when humans and marsupials intermarry.

OK, now that I got that infantile bit of soapboxing outta my system on with the show...

***
Up-Tight-THE BEGINNING OF THE END LP (8mm, Italy)

After feeling more than merely "let down" by the previous few Up-Tight releases which I thought were treading too much on the past glories and in a rather tepid manner at that, this one's surprisingly copasetic with my personal tastes regarding music as noise and on par with those early releases hearkening the return to the group's Les Rallizes Denudes influences and a dang good feeling for feedback-drenched intensity. Highlight is the title track beginning side two that sorta functions in the same atonal shriek capacity as Guru Guru's UFO did with a guitar buzz that I thought was a weed-whacker being filtered through free percussive clang. Red colored vinyl brought back more than a few memories of album collecting, that is if you were one to go gaga over the colored vinyl section of your fave 1978 record shop looking for disco remixes of the Rolling Stones' "Miss You".
***
Onna-"Holy Mountain"/"Tolo Uqbar" (not sure if these are the correct titles since the ones on the cover were written in Japanese lingo, but I found 'em printed on one of the labels so I assume they are) 33 rpm single (Cupid & Psyche, Japan)

I don't know how many of these recs Onna leader and manja artist (that means he likes to draw Eyetalians eating) Keizo Miyanishi is expecting to sell with a cover like that, but don't ask me to explain the sicker side of the Japanese sexual mind! All kidding aside, for once I am glad that I fell for the mini-hype surrounding this I guess famous artist's underground rock & roll group. Onna, at least on this release, is a twin guitar duo who work in consort with a rhythm machine, and thankfully despite the pointed eighties "new music" approach such a device usually gives to these kind of outings this platter surprisingly delivers forth. A Les Rallizes Denudes swirl envelops this release with the a-side reminding me of "Venus in Furs" as the early Comateens might have done it. Flip actually brought forth memories of Eno-period Roxy Music at their more experimental. Don't know (or think) that the other Onna releases (some which are actually still available!) are as interesting as this 'un butif anyone out there can tell me please chime in. As for now this is a strong contender and proof once again that even here in 2009 one can make like it's 1976 or even 1962 if one tries hard enough.

OTHER BITS AND PIECES THAT HAVE GRACED MY EARS AS OF LATE: Spun side one of the VELVETEEN 12-inch EP that I reviewed in the latest issue of my very own fanzine...you might remember them, they were the "vehicle" for former Pretty Poison/solo star Lisa Burns and Milk and Cookies bassist Sal Maida (later of the Lovin' Kind) throughout the eighties who actually released their sole recording on Atlantic records at a time when I thought just about every label out there had its fill of New York underground rock. Velveteen were a fixture at Max's Kansas City during that club's final hours plus appeared plenty at CBGB throughout the eighties being one of a smattering of bands still playing at that haunt who had connections with the club's mid-seventies early bouts of fame. Their sound was pretty new wave bordering on gnu, but I found their applications of key Velvets/Roxy moves and even a few sixties punk variations to have helped out even with the linn drum sound courtesy of former Cookie Ian North. The replay of this 'un after about six years of lethargy didn't have me thinking Velveteen had "aged" as well as I originally opined which is probably why I didn't feel like spinning side two, but I think that's because I was hot for a more seventies-style of pummeling brought about by repeated readings of Miriam Linna's KICKSVILLE 66 blog, which is why I dragged out...

THE DAY THE EARTH MET THE ROCKET FROM THE TOMBS, a collection of this "seminal" Cleveland band's better recordings which I own in both vinyl and digital format. Since I was poking around on my turntable while reading a cache of mid-seventies TV GUIDEs pretending it was 1975 I figure the vinyl version would suit me better than Cee-Dee, and glory be but listening to Rocket in its final throes on side three was a blessed event that really helped create the proper atmosphere for zoning one a good thirty-four years back. After decades of extremely pallid music trying to pass itself off as the true runaway son of the great sixties/seventies barnstorming efforts of the Velvets/Stooges etc., it's sure great to re-listen to the likes of Rocket and a variety of other groups performing their own brand of nova sounds in a virtual vacuum perpetrating a music that was unfortunately wrangled and shred to bits by kids sans o-minds firmly in place. You know, those blokes who eventually created the soggy sounds we all know as "alternative music" which claims allegiance to the likes of Rocket but frankly has little if anything to do with the "inspiration". And the vinyl take on these songs has got the digital beat to all hell, or at least Melbourne. Let's just say that this particular set has got me hungerin' for more Rocket From the Tombs and all of those undocumented numbers and covers they performed (still would love to hear them wrap their tonsils and fingers around "Remake/Remodel") so hey Smog Veil, if you're reading this can you take a hint? Not only is it time for you to fill us in on the rest of the Laughner-era archived goodies but even one detailing the original "comedy" days of the group! That's about five good releases there, and think of all the extra spending cash you'll have once you put my bright idea into action!

Since even Rocket wasn't enough to help sate my seventies lust I decided to yank on yet another neglected buncha tracks, namely the MX-80 Sound cuts from the SUBTERRANEAN MODERN album that Ralph Records unleashed onto a public that couldn't care less back in the waning days of that talent-loaded decade. Being the first MX-80 to grace my ears, I found these three numbers to pretty much set the standards for how I judge this group's entire output (recorded or not) and they are doozies, especially for being so ignored that only one of 'em (the raucous cover of "I Left My Heart in San Francisco") has been reissued in the Cee-Dee era. "Lady in Pain" is a cruncher that pretty much bridges MX-80's mid-seventies sound with the onslaught of their Ralph-era albums, while "Possessed" is thee (no doubt about it) most haunting, chilling and nerve-bending number these guys have tackled in their entire career, showing the group's Blue Oyster Cult/mid-seventies mainstream hard rock/heavy metal influence in a way that puts that entire genre to shame! The rest of the album ranges from pretty darn good enough (Chrome) to ignorable (side one's Residents/Tuxedomoon offerings) but if you must dish out the inflated ebay prices for it in the here and now, do so for the MX-80 melodies which'll play on in your head long after the needle has relieved itself for good!

Also, I finally dug up and began spinning those Serge Gainsbourg burns that Mike Snider had sent me so long back. Woulda played 'em sooner but right when I got 'em some wizenheimer decided to devote an entire post to the famous French horny toad and I didn't want to look like a copycat. More on these in a future post.

Before I get to my "bootleg of the week" finale, here's a link to some crazy Joe McDoakes comedy shorts that THE THIRD BANANA blog has posted for our dining and dancing enjoyment. Talk about fuh-NEE!...if you think humor is some dork like Bill "Penis Nose" Maher ranting about his loathing for mid-Ameriga or Judy Tenuta and her toy accordion, give these classic Warner Brothers shorts a try and see if your pants don't wet within a good minute or two! (Viewing on the toilet is recommended.) Really, I haven't laughed this hard since I saw that documentary on Thalidomide! In fact, as soon as I publish this post I'm headin' for the Third Banana just so's I can resensify myself..the RIGHT way!
***
BOOTLEG OF THE WEEK!: Patti Smith-LIVE IN LONDON AT THE ROUNDHOUSE MAY 1976 2-LP set (Smilin' Ears)

WARNING: the first paragraph of this review contains boring personal anecdotal references relating to the author of this blog. In actuality there is very little here that pertains to the actual recording at hand, but the jamoke writing this thought that it would make for nice "background" to bring up some interesting autobiographical spew not only to pad this piece out, but to aid in the research that any future students of late-twentieth/early-twenty-first century rockfan fanzine/blogger types will undoubtedly need lest the entire genre fall into an oceam of indifference. If you are of the mindset that such supposedly narcissistic hooey should remain on the cutting room floor yet still want to read this review, please skip over the next paragraph and enjoy the general meat and potatoes of it all while the rest of us get warm 'n toasty over the downhome suburban teenaged record-playing fun of it all!

Hoo boy, here's a set that I sure was droolin' over ever since I saw it advertised in one of those old Pied Piper Records bootleg/rare imports catalogs that I used to get way back when a variety of these boot dealers, mostly of mid-south location, would offer us alla dem bootleg records we so wanted and at pretty good prices as well! And for being a bootleg with a "deluxe" black and white cover...whew! I remember LIVE IN LONDON being on my gotta get list even to the point where I can recall mowing my neighbor's lawn as the rains came trying to hurry it up anticipating an order I was gonna ship out which definitely would include this tasty rarity! Dunno what happened, but I never did get LIVE IN LONDON, or perhaps I ordered it but the records never came but if that happened I usually would remember and still be frothing at the mouth because of it! But whaddeva, this double-bomber with the actual printed cover had eluded my grasps ever since, but thankfully I have recently latched onto it and boy is it a wowzer! Of course it would have been much more effectual if I had gotten the thing way back when...

Nice job Smilin' Ears did too, what with the cover which at the time was pretty state of the art for bootlegs as well as the general package which includes song-separation and rather good for the time even if it is kinda flat sound. The actual Roundhouse show is cut up and spread across two of the four sides, the rest taken up with a Patti poetry reading at St. Mark's Church, Patti giving Harry Chapin what for on a radio Hungerthon interview, and a performance by the pre-drums group at a live outdoors gig in New York City celebrating the Vietcong victory in Vietnam '75 which would figure given Smith's glowingly optimistic opines regarding famed pastry chef Ho Chi Minh. There's even a side-long interview taken from WNEW in New York which sheds some light on the original mid-seventies Patti mystique...naturally the broadcast album cuts are poorly truncated and the overall effect is rather amateurish, but Smith being Smith w/o getting too much into the arab boys and angels making love while ripping each others' entrails out bit is rather refreshing, at least this once.

The actual Roundhouse recordings present a surprisingly together enough professional performance, showing how much the group had honed its act since those earlier gigs during the days when Patti and crew were stormtrooping their way across the USA. More professional, perhaps sleeker, but still high energy enough to at least make people who were conscious about this music believe that Patti indeed was the end result of a music that sorta worked its way from the Velvets up through the Stooges, Groovies, Hackamore Brick and maybe Crazy Horse on through to the early-seventies New York underground. Naturally the entire stew would have to end up with Madonna and her ilk ruining the entire game, but back in '76 who could have conceived that???

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

WHO SEZ JAZZ IS DEAD?

I know, Zappa said it just smells that way, and if anyone'd know about smelling bad it'd've been ol' Frank himself! But as Dee Pop's long-running freestyle series proves there are still many hard-edged free jazz acts out there vying for our attention (and monies) and best of all these acts didn't fall into some strange chasm of self-indulgence and general lethargy but continue to SPEAK (to you, the music listener always on the hunt for raw and exciting sounds) while most other forms of musical communication have pretty much fallen by the wayside and exist if only long past their shelf life. Here are but two items to have graced my ears as of late, courtesy Volcanic Tongue (and some long green sent their way).

***

Owl Xounds-TEENAGERS FROM SPACE LP (Mad Monk/Colour Sounds Recordings)

When I first plucked this one outta my Volcanic Tongue packet I totally forgot why I purchased the thing, and I was pretty much kicking myself in the nutballs wondering why penny-pinching me woulda dished out any money for a group with the name of Owl Xounds anyway. Really, even though this came in a nice see-through yellow vinyl package (reminiscent of first Faust and Rancid Vat's JUSTICE; THIS IS WHAT WE DO TO TRAITORS not to mention Captain Beefheart's CLEAR SPOT) with its plastic sleeve and yellow vinyl, I feared that I somehow bought into yet another post-alternative underground platter complete with strange netherworld scribbling passing for the English language in an attempt to make it look even "cooler". I was probably coaxed on by David Keenan's description of some group he's pawning off on ya having yet another "post-Velvets" take on music as if that had any valid meaning here in the dusk of the oh-ohs, but I guess that's my own fault if I did. I always fall for these things even though I shoulda known better a good twentysome years back.

Referring back to the VT website to find out exactly what it was that made me wanna dish out whatever pounds it was to get this thing, I found out that Owl Xounds, despite their tres abstract handle, were actually a freedom jazz unit featuring saxophonist Mario Rechtern, a name that not only pops up on one or maybe even two of the recent Weasel Walter free jazz dismemberments but alongside that of Sunny Murray and Linda Sharrock in the Reform Art Unit, an aggregate that sounds pretty tantalizing if only for the appearance of these two between-the-notes pioneers. And, like all good up-and-coming as well as stuck going nowhere avant garde players, this one must be supported!

As someone who has dished out more dinero for this kinda free play o'er the past three decades can tell you, it's not the structure or the frilliness that matters the mad intensity that counts. And although I think most of these new free-play groups are the utmost in total eruption Owl Xounds even out-does most of what I've heard outta the recent stable all hollow, with Rechtern coming off with the deep guttural bellow of Archie Shepp mixed with the over-the-hill-and-running-madly insanity of Roscoe Mitchell while the rest of the group (Gene Krinas on bass and Adam Kriney on drums) do their best to keep up coming off like a mess for doing so. If you're one bloke who thinks that the seventies loft jazz scene didn't get its dues way back in the seventies maybe you can help make amends by snatching this bound to be a rarity up, perhaps the best jazz package since the original issue of BELLS and maybe one on par with MONKEY POCKIE BOO and a good heaping portion of the 1969-1978 under-the-counterculture of jazz platters that seemed like such an intense for of "expression" not only then, but now (like in the "here and..." get with it!).
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Harmut Geerken/John Tchicai-THE KABUL AND TEHERAN TAPES 2-LP set (Qbico, Italy)

I often wonder what woulda happened if John Coltrane didn't kick the bucket at the height of the new thing trailblazing itself into even newer things, like would he had gone whole hog into the African cop-out (as Wayne McGuire once put it) donning a dashiki whilst spouting black revolutionary rhet, or would he have traveled the globe playing to indigenous peoples while copping a whole load of licks and instruments up off 'em. Maybe he woulda gone to Europe and recorded for a whole slew of labels that were pretty much off limits in the US of Whoa at least until the age of internet brought downloads to our stinky fingertips. Naah...he'd probably gone the mystical route with wife Alice no doubt. Who knows, but we do know that fellow trailblower John Tchicai was one fellow who remained active since those days of rage and although picking up one of his recordings ain't quite as easy as latching onto a Coltrane disc well, at least he's functioning in the here and now and it ain't like we have to talk about him in the "past tense" which is one good thing about people living beyond the usual jazz lifespan of fiftysome years.

And judging from this double disc set from some new Italian free jazz label Tchicai actually was one of those world traveling types, here in the company of kraut Harmut Geerken who along with our hornman in question traveled throughout the Middle East and even parts of Africa (as another release with Don Moye will attest to) playing heavily ethnic-tinged avant jazz for people who probably couldn't tell shinola from hummus. Yeah, it is kinda strange that the two would travel 'round in places like Afghanistan and Iran right before the pot was about to boil over (well, a few years prior to the upheavals both nations endured) because I kinda get the idea that most of the denizens of such nations woulda thunk free jazz to be just more of that decadent western trash that one good Ayatollah out there could wipe away with a swift ethnic cleansing session or two. But I guess the duo not only performed live, but recorded whilst on their trip or else this album never woulda happened so maybe we should all be glad for the two's foolhardiness in the face of radical Islam's ever growing potency.

Actually given the stark Middle Eastern influence of these recordings it's easy to see the local yokels cozying up to the two! Heck, a local tabla player even guests on one side but if you think this is going to sound like a market square in lower Buttistan you certainly are mistaken. THE KABUL AND TEHERAN TAPES have a heavy classical influence probably due to Geerken's piano playing, but for the most part it's easy to hear how the two were influenced by the natives what with the use of exotic percussives whilst Tchicai's sax can sound like some lonely shepherd boy's horn trying to imitate the love cry of a lamb on the hunt for ewe (like I said, it does get lonely out there). And when Geerken starts strumming the inside of his piano like Burton Greene and Tchicai picks up a zither you kinda think this is what a hoedown 2000 BC might've sounded like, or at least the soundtrack to a circumcision ritual without the painkiller. It's not what I would call hot urban overblow music, but an engrossing, trace-inducing change from it all.

Yeah, I wonder if Coltrane woulda gone even this far, but that's just more cornball speculation I'm sure that even this corny blog can do without. Let's just say that it's pretty good free jazz musings that seem to sound all the more better here a good fifty years down the line because...well, it always was "nova music".

Saturday, June 13, 2009

CASSETTE NET!

Memories, memories... After receiving a couple cassette tapes as part of my recent Volcanic Tongue order (more on that in later posts...cantcha just wait???), I started thinking not only about all the fun I had buying, listening to and making cassette tapes from my mid mid-teens until the mid-nineties but just how much that medium hit the skids after years of being a top listening mode for many a budget-conscious kiddo out there in penny-picking land. It may seem strange to you, but your humble blogger has gotta admit that he (me) really was a big fan of the cassette form during my up-and-coming days, even during that era when eight-tracks were hot stuff amongst box boys who used to toke in the parking lot to Sabbath after work on hot 1975 evenings! And even all these years later I still have a passing fancy for these oft-jamming and crinkling tapes which introduced me to a lotta music I otherwise wouldn't've ever heard, or would have heard years after when the impact would have diminished greatly. And if I hadn't had the opportunity to hear hundreds of great albums via dubbed tapes or the purchasing of actual pre-recorded cassettes would there even be a BLOG TO COMM??? Perish the thought!

But whaddevva, since I was cranking out the old black beauty to spin the aforementioned Volcanic Tongue spawned tapes I decided to give a listen to a number of cassettes I had purchased this past winter and shoved onto the back burner. So voila, what else should appear but a special cassette installment of BLOG TO COMM featuring these now-obsolete wonders that sure used to mean a lot to me during those dark and distant days! Now, what other blog out there would think of something as wild and as woolly as that, hunh? Kinda sends me back to the two for two dollars bin at the old Musicland in the Eastwood Mall searching for all sorta of esoteric weirdies and picking up such ultimate favorites as YOKO ONO/PLASTIC ONO BAND and NUGGETS in the process!

And true it doesn't mean a thing to you but sheesh, try being a pimple-laden plumpo with only a few cents to rub together scamming all the rock & roll you could with it...maybe then you'd feel different about me and my tearjerking woes regarding an underpriviledged childhood!

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Kawaguchi Masami's New Rock Syndicate-LIVE JAPAN 2007 cassette (no label)

Japanese rock has been on the wane, or at least it has for me after a few purchases of items that didn't quite light my butt up as much as they might have yours, but releases like this sure stir up the sukiyaki in my soul. Kawaguchi Masami's New Rock Ensemble are the latest in a long line of those great post-Rallizes Denudes-influenced Japanese groups that kinda make me glad that I didn't off myself during the past few eras of rock destitution, for these guys really know how to kick out some high energy rock & roll for a world which has worshipped the worst aspects of sound and kultur for a longer time than I can imagine. The New Rock Syndicate wallow heavily midst the late-sixties Southern Californian hard garage rock style...think Alice Cooper ca. first album meets just about every Doors-swipe you'd pay mucho dinero for via ebay doused in a heavy Les Rallizes Denudes feedback swirl straight outta the ballrooms of San Francisco. The Denudian influence cannot be denied since they even do a nice ballad kinda reminscent of Mirrors' "Slow Down" or "I've Been Down" (or a number of other numbuhs with "Down" in the title) not to mention a variety of equally powerful ditties to have come outta Japan in the wake of the Denudes guys themselves. Kinda short timewise but since they said everything they should've within those fifteen or so minutes why should I complain?

It even comes in a nice package complete with psychedelic poppy information insert and delicate paper band keeping it all together (not forgetting the bright orange cassette shell) reminding me of those more inventive eighties/nineties cassette releases coupled with music that seemed like such a blessing when it would show up in the eighties, and who knows what havoc it could wreak if more people (mainly you dolts) got to hear it in the here and now!
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REPAIRS cassette (Captured Tracks, available through Volcanic Tongue)

Outta nowhere surprise here, a release from a buncha mid-Amerigans who seemingly never heard that the Cassette Culture revolution went online ages ago. Good for us, because I don't remember 75% of the cassettes that used to wing their way to my door back in the confused eighties being as good as this...electronic throb of a "minimalist" variety recorded in fine basement fidelity that remind me more of some early-seventies Suicide tracks that Alan Vega has yet to add vocals to. A whole hour of this might seem pointless and futile, but at least Repairs knew enough to keep the tracks down to a few minutes each and limit 'em to four. You might think that paying approx. ten smackers for about seven or eight minutes of music is rather costly but look at it this way...would you rather pay that ten bucks for hours of music that stinks? If so, maybe I should re-orient this blog to suit all of you losers out there!
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The Sensational Alex Harvey Band-VAMBO ROOLS cassette (Vertigo England)

Subtitled "Big Hits and Close Shaves", VAMBO ROOLS is one of those "Greatest Hits" collections that the Amerigan record companies in the infinite wisdom deemed too unimportant to release in the USA so anyone over here who really wanted it hadda scour the import bins, or better yet one of those record shops where they could pick up slightly used wonders like this and at reduced prices at that. Anybody who had all of the original Alex Harvey albums didn't really need this, but thirtysome years after the rage this does make a nice sampler for lunks like me who don't have the complete set and could use something like this for those long drives in the country. Good selection too with such wonders as "Framed", "St. Anthony" and "Action Strasse", but whose bright idea was it to leave SAHB signature song "Vambo" off especially considering the title of this undoubtedly "reduced price" release?
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Pink Floyd-MEDDLE cassette (Harvest UK)

Haven't heard this in quite some time, and really can't say that its aged any. If there was anything here to age that is. Parts do recall some of the less inspiring moments of krautrock (and danged if "One of These Days" isn't a dead ringer for a good part of My Solid Ground's entire reason for being) while "A Pillow of Wind" still has some of the late-sixties Floyd mesmo feel to it, but the rest seems just like more of Alan's psychedelic breakfast which might have been OK at seven in the morning but at five PM I'm kinda looking forward to something a little meatier!

The neatest thing about this English edition is that it has a different cover than the Amerigan one which was washed out in blue making for an interesting variation that I'm sure collectors worldwide were wanting to latch onto, anal retentives they may be. On the original version you can easily see the oriface that was hidden from view which I pondered may be a closeup of a human ear, but something inside makes me think perhaps it's something naughtier which is why the blue noses in the USA dribbled all that equally blue tinting on it! Sure this is a lotta malarkey, but when you're fifteen and perusing the import bins you naturally think up plenty of strange things, like maybe it's a Wallaby vagina opening up in anticipation of reproduction. (I wouldn't know...I guess we'd have to ask an expert like Dave Lang.)
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Deep Purple-THE BOOK OF TALIESYN cassette (Harvest Australia)

Y'know, I could be reverse-o/change-o hip like Chuck Eddy and rave up and down your medulla as to how great this album is because Lester Bangs mighta said so way back when romilar was still a drugstore cheap thrill, or I can be Mister Curmudgeon and just lash out at Deep Purple and all of those pimplefarm teens who used to spin those horrid late-seventies albums of their in between bouts of religious conversion and illicit procreation for fun and profit. But I won't, mainly because this album seems to be stuck in a netherworld between unmitigated brilliance and deep despair (on the part of the guy who actually bought this thing!) Really nowheresville if I must say, with maybe one track ("Listen, Learn, Read On") having maybe a shard of the late-sixties post-psychedelic hardrock pounce that made more than a few of these lost British obscurities proto-punk icons. Underneath the boffo cover lurks a record (or in this case cassette) just trying to decide whether it be hard rock, psychedelic or progressive failing on all fronts. You might want to track down the budget collection of early sides that Scepter of all labels released in the early seventies utilising the pre-Warner Brothers (inna USA) Tetragrammaton-period hits.

And, in the sage words of John Cleese, now for something completely different:

BOOTLEG OF THE WEEK!: Frank Zappa-FREAKS AND MOTHERFUGGAHS LP (The Swinging Pig)

I changed the title of this 'un ever so slightly in order to placate the less prurient amongst my readers (mainly Jillery, who threatened to tell someone if I used the correct title prude she may be), but then again I doubt any of 'em would want to pick this up in the first place so why bother? One of those platters that I woulda killed for during my teenage Zappafreak days, FREAKS is durn good, in fact BETTER than the official '71 Mothers live albums, this 'un featuring the Flo and Eddie fronted group live at the Fillmore in '70 right after these former Turtles began turning many a Southern Californian sunshine pop well-scrubbed teenybopper into raging Mother-humping phallus freaks. FREAKS is way more "together" (using standard early-seventies hip teen lingo) than the legit offerings with the raunchy humor and general hackneyed fun and games sharing equal time with some pretty hot playing (even when Zappa begins standing on his "look how well I can play, and dig that cop from Stravinsky!" soapbox) making for a disc that stands head/shoulders above many of the other Zappa/Mothers boots documenting the same time strata. Sound is surprisingly excellent, cover is surprisingly Schenkel-inspired, and I guess even Zappa, bootleg hater he may be, felt it worthy enough to release as part of his "Beat the Boots" series snaps/crackles/pops and all. Cover track listings, jumbled and vague as they are, mislead...I couldn't find "The Mud Shark" here anywhere at all!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Milford Graves & Don Pullen-NOMMO CD-R burn (originally on SRP records)

I think this one's courtesy Paul McGarry, and if so it shows that Paul has good enough taste that certainly belies his undying affection for battered AC/DC bootlegs. One of two albums that I know of (the other being LIVE AT YALE) done by the duo of percussionist Milford Graves and pianist Don Pullen, NOMMO (sounds like a villain in a Jules Verne novel) showcases the under-appreciated talents of both men doing their best to thrust the early-sixties new thing of Coltrane and Coleman into the late-sixties over-the-wall and running mad sounds of Roscoe Mitchell and Sonny Sharrock. Pullen sounds like he was locked in a bedroom with nothing but the entire Cecil Taylor catalog to give him sustenance (heavy on the CAFE MONTMARTRE y'all) while Graves is as explosive and between the beat as ever...sometimes it is hard to tell which is the piano and which is the percussion! One of those albums which, like FUNHOUSE, makes you kinda wonder why the world didn't end upon its completion.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

YOUR WEAKLY READER

Don't expect much here especially after last Wednesday's boreathon, but neverdaless I managed to "scrape together"/d&c this bevy of comparatively new-to-mine-ears recordings that you can do whatever with if you so desire. Of course in order to look more intellectual and suave to you all I should perhaps tell you all about the other wondrous things that have been happening here at BTC World Headquarters in order to make my life out to be more than just some record-grubbing anal-retentive maniac, like discuss the World Situation or maybe toss a few deft putdowns at my real-life enemies that you will all chuckle about for the weeks to come. Maybe I can even crack a few funny lines about David Carradine's recent attempts at erotic asphyxiation, like pondering whether the venerable KUNG FU star came before he went. But I don't really feel like it. Or up to it. I'd rather channel my "harmonic life energy forces" into something more positive (not that there's anything wrong with negativity, something which I thrive on) but don't worry, I might make a mention or two of out descent into "good intentions" somewhere down the line not forgetting a deft kick in the groin to my heated enemies as well.

So, without further ado (to coin a phrase), here's my latest entry into the wild and woolly world of rock scribedom. May the blogperuser beware...

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White Light-VELVET SANDPAPER LP (Taurus)

You might own that weirdie circa. '70 album WHITE LIGHT that I happened to write up in the now o.p. twentieth issue of BLACK TO COMM but if not lemme tell you it was a nice bitta put-together teenage freak rock with nifty Velvets/Fugs refs that sorta made it the early-seventies equivalent to the Gizmos. This reish of material from a few years later (roughly '73) shows lead singer Mississippi doing the solo rock thing on the a-side sounding just as confused and as tired as all of the rest of the guys who couldn't make it into the seventies without succumbing to that weary ennui which made many an electric punker take up the acoustic guitar and go mellow down on the commune. Fortunately there's a b-side of material recorded around the time of the original White Light album to contend with, but it too doesn't quite make it to the same garage-thud standards of the original. Nothing spectacular next to the original album whicn not only sported a neat Mothers Of Invention-styled bizarroid cover but housed some of the best garage-inspired bedroom two-track recordings I've heard since NOTES ON A COCKTAIL NAPKIN. Good thing VELVET SANDPAPER was a limited edition album or otherwise you might hear it!
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Mirrors-SOMETHING THAT WOULD NEVER DO LP (Violet Times)

You probably wouldn't expect me to buy good ol' vinola dupes of stuff that I already have on Cee-Dee, but this collection was just too good for sentimental ol' me to pass up. Sure I really coulda used this a good thirty years back right around the time when the hard-edge promise of the seventies underground was about to supernova, but as it stands SOMETHING THAT WOULD NEVER DO is a nice example of what coulda been had the quest to pander to the dark and feral drive in us all been a whole lot more serious. For a release of questionable legality (even though this is mentioned on Mirrors' very own Myspace page!) I gotta admit that whoever did the song selection sure picked the best of Mirrors' currently available stock, but given some of the unreleased wonders I've heard I'd say it's time for another dig deep into the tape vaults, eh guys?
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Swell Maps-INTERNATIONAL RESCUE CD; SWEEP THE DESERT CD (Alive, available via Bomp!)

I must 'fess up to the fact that, by reviewing these two Cee-Dees I've had in my collection for nigh on eight or nine years yet have neglected to play (in fact, one was still in the shrink wrap!) that perhaps I am treading upon the territory of other bloggers who might claim stakes to this particular kind of music which is often classified under the unfortunate category of "post-punk". Well they may think that but last time I looked this was supposed to be a free country, and of course if anyone buys into that then they'd buy into my right to review whatever I want to on this blog and if they don't like it they know what they can do with their nether-region body orifice which I hear is now legal in many states.

Gotta say that I used to really like/love/champion these Swell Maps guys during the early days of my illustrious, er, career, but at a certain point in time I began listening much less to those late-seventies "Rough Trade"-styled bands and began putting my savings into the reams of rare sixties punk rock compilations like BACK FROM THE GRAVE which I believed were the ultimate statement in what rock & roll should aspire to. I credit my change to a drastic lifestyle upheaval (mainly getting a midnight shift job at a scrapyard in one of the more rundown section of town which smelled like manure on hot and humid days...the water processing plant was next door) and reading KICKS which sure did a lot to make me re-examine my rock priorities in the face of new wave gone "gnu" and Madonna being the end-all in a musical line that supposedly began with the Velvet Underground. Whatever, I began paying much more attention to the likes of Hasil Adkins and a lot less to Swell Maps, and at the junction in my life who could blame me?

But after all is said and done I can see why I would have found favor with this clanky crank back when I was way more wild-eyed about underground rock as a whole than I am even now. Just keep the artso pretension of much of the Rough Trade era outta it (not that there's anything intrinsically wrong with punk as art even if it swaddled in English Working-Class Marxist pose) and Swell Maps are just another buncha guys who are somehow torn between being the Heartbreakers and the Red Crayola. INTERNATIONAL RESCUE is the more "legit" of the bunch with I believe most if not all of those RT single and EP sides and unreleased surprises tossed in, while SWEEP THE DESERT has an outtake sound and approach to it with a clear rehearsal/bedroom ambience. Good but I much prefer the old WHATEVER HAPPENS NEXT two-LP historical overview released in '80 which gave us paupers a wide selection of rehearsals and Peel Sessions in low-fidelity for a pretty inexpensive price as well.

These two disques do bring back memories, and not all pleasant ones at that. For example, I now remember first reading about these guys via none other than Robert Christgau in his old VILLAGE VOICE column and being more or less sussed over his comparisons to the Velvet Underground feedback motif which I gotta admit I was a humongous sucker for back in the day. Funny how hard I fell for these Christgau come ons before I discovered what a real puss the man could be...oh well, growing up is always discovering, taking in and tossing out, and if anything deserves to be tossed out it is Christgau on his collegiate behind! Kinda makes me feel shameful for listening to the guy in the first place, eh?
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BOOTLEG OF THE WEEK!: Patti Smith-SUPERBUNNY (ZAP)

From the people who brought you the "Flamin Grovies" bootleg reviewed earlier comes this one-of-many documents from the Patti Smith tour of v.-late '75/early '76, back when Patti was wowing both the cognoscenti and the wee folk alike with her mix of decade-old rock 'n roll and a buncha indecipherable Frog intellectuals and literary/sexual icons who just seemed custom-made for the mid-seventies chattering class brouhaha that was so "in" amongst the VILLAGE VOICE readers and phony high school intellectuals alike. Sound in amazingly good (making me wonder if this was taken from an FM broadcast) and the performance surprisingly together with only a few vocal gloops and glares to be found. Material is pretty much the standard fare for the day (meaning if you're only a dabbler in the Patti mystique you might wanna save your buckskins if you find this somewhere) but an added treat appears in the form of the early-set standby cover of "The Hunter Gets Captured By The Game" which sounds pretty (dare-I-say) "professional" in this company!

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

HIGH SIX!!!!!

Haven't done one of these in awhile since there hasn't been enough going on to allow for even a high two or three. Thankfully that situation is about to change as the summer months hit the Western Pee-YAY area and the rockism juices once again begin to flow. As usual this 'un consists of a myriad assortment of things that are flibbin' my jib as of late; a coupla books, an old fanzine and Cee-Dee plus a website which I guess won't suit you fine if you're looking for real meat and potatoes manly rock blogging, but if you're looking for the personalist side of this hoary old rockfan you couldn't've come to a better place!

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BOOTLEG; THE SECRET HISTORY OF THE OTHER RECORDING INDUSTRY by Clinton Heylin (Penguin Books, 1995)

Let me begin by stating that I am reading (and reviewing) BOOTLEG against my better judgment considering my own opinions regarding its author which I spelled out in no uncertain terms in an editorial I've written quite some time back, but with the current mushrooming of an already-underlying bootleg fascination in my life this book has become mandatory bedtime reading these past few nights. Now some may believe that author Heylin's version of the whole rock bootleg story is fraught with inaccuracies and downright twisto-changeos (not to mention the author's penchant for letting his disgusting British prejudices rise to the surface of his work as if we need to know of his inherent snobbery), but I think it conveys rather well the story behind those beat-up white-cover with insert albums that used to get their very own special spot in those outta-the-way hip record shops back in the mid-seventies. Various facts (I think) regarding the big names behind the boots are laid out for all (even the FBI) to see, and considering how these people must remain underground even this far down the line only proves how hot the subject of bootlegging remains fortysome years after the fact! If you're a guy whose only fond memories of a misspent teendom are record-hunting/playing, tee-vee watching and spending inordinate amounts of time in the john with a hula gal-laden issue of NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC, this'll remind you of what the then exorbitant sum of $4.99 could getcha if you were in the right shop at just the right time.

The only thing that I really didn't care much about BOOTLEG outside of Heylin's vast English moral superiority was the fact that most of the bootleg cover reproductions were shrunk down to the size of a postage stamp (hokay, a large postage stamp but small enough nonetheless) plus there weren't enough covers to gander as I would have liked. If you want to reminisce at least about the good old days of the post-seventies era full color covers and multi-colored vinyl try finding a few copies of HOT WACKS which should satisfy anyone who used to wait for the bootleg delivery man to hit their fave outta the way record shop, but as far as this 'un goes you better break out that magnifying glass you used when reading those early issues of my own eyestrain wonder!
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CHRONICLES MAGAZINE WEBSITE (also linked up on the left in case you wanna access this at any other time!)

If you think I'm upset about the political future of not only this nation of ours but the entire blooming world you are correct! Really, where's a guy that's so on-target about everything like me to turn these days, what with Prez Obama going back on those very few campaign promises of his I liked (or merely shifting the mideast battle lines from Iraq to Afghanistan) and printing up moolah like there was no tomorrow (I sure liked it better when we were all Stoogians rather than Keynesians), while seemingly all of the right has been co-opted by a neocon frenzy that has pretty much mulched up most if not all of those good ideas that earlier proto-conservatives like Mencken and (stretching it to a point since he was no "conservative") Murray Rothbard laid down in theory if not practice. Where else can I go to osmose views are a lot more "copasetic" with my own high standards but to those few "alternative right" sites where I can digest the current political situation in a way where not only can the usual onslaught of cloying self-righteous liberals be avoided with glee, but thankfully I will dodge the usual turdbomb writings of those sensitive and caring conservatives who always seem to feign frothing-mouth loathing when confronted by a rightist of the more traditional, pre-compassion mode (as they did during the Ron Paul campaign of last year).

Taki's Top Drawer is one site that I often troll for the dissemination of alternative-right views what with regulars the caliber of Justin Raimondo and Paul Gottfried, but to my chagrin they closed down their comment section after some neo-nazis decided to overrun it with derogatory mentions of "the Jew Gottfried" and other anti-Semitic toasties that I always thought would "go with the territory" considering how the internet is open to all, but spell trouble when such an organized attempt to "take over" a site is firmly in gear. At least the guys at CHRONICLES kept their commenting section up which is fine by me even if they too get their share of cranky commentaries that slip through the cracks once in awhile. But wha' th' hey especially considering how most of the people who do write in at least have some intelligent ideas regarding the current state of politics and social what-fors that never did seem to get into the pages of your local fishwrap...y'know, those monopolies across the small city landscape that always put up a staunch traditionalist front but reeked country club chic underneath.

CHRONICLES' regular contributors, especially such faves as Paul Craig Roberts, Clyde Wilson, Paul Zmiriak and Tom Piatek (the latter two usually writing on traditionalist/Romanist concerns which fly in the face of the usual reverse inquisitions seen in the media) are a blessed relief especially after hearing again and again what a louse I am just for even existing! Pat Buchanan, who seems to run afoul of CHRONICLES' general readership for his pro-Republican Party viewpoints which seem so unreal considering the shiv he's received from their heirarchy time and time again also pops up putting forth viewpoints that more or less seem to be copasetic with my own personal (and not-so) ideals than they would with most wanks from either side of the aisle. Still can't buy his seemingly pro-torture remarks, but we can't all be me/perfect.

Of course the usual commentators who chime in with their own take on the subject at hand are a blast, especially when the in-fighting and name calling hits the fan before getting edited out, that is. And as is the rage these days, CHRONICLES even has their own token leftist in the guise of former VOICE scribe Alexander Cockburn who's also running COUNTERPUNCH, and he sure acts like a better leftist on paleoconservative soil commentator than such lunks as Christopher Hitchens does playing schmoochie not only with the standard mainstream conservative movement but with many faux "libertarians" who like him for his strident atheism and nothing else!

Did I tell you that the man behind CHRONICLES is Dr. Thomas Fleming, who once discussed Shakespeare sonnets with Lou Reed backstage at a Velvet Underground show in San Francisco 1969?

More paleocon than libertarian true (and Fleming seems to have a great animus towards what is passing for "mainstream libertarianism" these days, finding little difference between them and the even-newer left so in vogue), but I'll take CHRONICLES and its writers over a good portion of the people finding every opportunity to undermine Western Civilization as they can at REASON, excepting Brian Doherty even if he and I would come to loggerheads given the chance. At least if I have to be told that I'm a member of a dying breed heading for extinction only to be replaced by this vague image of a post-Soviet "new man", I want to hear it from someone who isn't gloating about it!
***
THE ROCK SCENE by Richard Robinson and Andy Zwerling (Pyramid Books, 1971)
"The Flamin Groovies, J Geils, Dan Hicks and his Hot Licks, the Stooges, the Velvet Underground, Up, Man Ray, the MC5, Nico, John Cale, and Frost. They are the 1970's. Are you?"
Of course I am "the seventies" even if these are the final days of the oh-oh's, though I have the feeling that Richard Robinson's ideas of what the seventies were going to be and everybody else's differed greatly. But still it's nice to dig this paperback (then going for a whopping 75 pennies) outta the mothballs for an occasional read as it (like those Jon Eisen AGE OF ROCK hardcovers) surprisingly does give a balanced view of where rock and pop music stood during a time when I'm sure most followers of the underground form thought that it was never coming back. Naturally you do get to read a lot of puff here (nothing wrong with that) about people like Melanie and Simon and Garfunkel (something wrong with that!!!), but even the more commercial-attuned musings mostly courtesy of Zwerling (whose SPIDERS IN THE NIGHT album was one of the bigger downers of my record buying life...I thought Lenny Kaye knew better!) don't make you want to run for the nearest vomitorium the way reams of college paper appreciations of Genesis have these past thirtysome years.

Naturally when Robinson gets into high-energy gear with his astute appreciations of the Velvets, Stooges, Groovies et. al. THE ROCK SCENE cooks more than dippy swill, and although most would say that his prophesies regarding the careers and success of the likes of the VU, Stooges and Five were far from what actually happened (considering how one-dimensional seventies mainstream rock/pop became) most of his ideals regarding a seventies high energy sound did transpire albeit on a thriving underground level that most Anastasia Pantsiosesque critics never really did want to admit even existed until it was safe enough to years later. But after all is said and the last uttering on the remnants of Detroit '69 is done all I wanna know is:
WHICH BAND IS THE FINEST IN THE LAND?

The Grateful Dead? The Stooges? The Velvet Underground? Hackamore Brick? Grand Funk Railroad? Led Zeppelin? Chicago?
***
WIRE...EVERYBODY LOVES A HISTORY by Keven S. Eden (SAF England, 1991)

For a guy who was put off by the original Wire hype of 1977 and pretty much avoided 'em mostly due to the reams of dolts who didn't, I find myself spinning PINK FLAG a lot more now than I have ever since buying the thing a few mere years ago. I guess once I get that horrid "post-punk" label outta my mind and listen to 'em within a fully "proto-punk" frame (keeping in mind their perchance for early-Velvets/Floyd/Can/Troggs musical references) they don't sound half bad after all. It also helps to keep out-of-mind the legions of their fans as well as the bands "influenced" by Wire, if that is at all possible.

Keeping dry post-intelligence fanzine writers out of it I must admit that I did enjoy this quickie toss out in the tradition of various nineties bios of under-the-radar rock bands that came out during that retrowhatziz decade. Writing is good enough that I even made it through this book's description of the latterday supposedly snoozeville Wire era (which I never heard out of respect for sanity) as well as alla those art projects passing as side projects (if yaknowwhaddamean...), and after all is read and done I can't see just about any skinny gnarly self-obsessed save-the-world geek out there who dribbled reams of skidmarks o'er these guys in the eighties being without this. And if you're a rock & roll type who thinks all good rock music began with the Velvets (like I tend to do), you'll get a kick outta it too.
***
REASONS FOR LIVING #1 (fanzine edited by Jim DeRogatis, 1984)

As you might already know, I consider the true GA of rock fanzinedom to have existed roughly between 1971 (with the advent of such legends as JAMZ and TEENAGE WASTELAND GAZETTE) and the early eighties which saw the execution of a few nice yet short lived publications nobody seems to remember or care about these days such as THE GROOVE ASSOCIATES and TWO-HEADED DOG. With the arrival of hardcore punk and the post-seventies "alternative" of underground rock the media seemed to be changing with the mode of the music, and who with at least two braincells to rub together could deny that only a very few number of fanzines that came after the big early-eighties underground rock crash really hold up as well as those from the original seventies era. Oh, there might have been an interesting moment in 'zinedom here and there such as the two or so issues of THROAT CULTURE that were released in the very-late eighties or FLESH AND BONES not forgetting the likes of AWAY FROM THE PULSEBEAT or OSMOTIC TONGUE PRESSURE and a few other reliables, but it sure wasn't the same as it was for the average underground rock fanatic of the seventies who was being inundated with a wide variety of crucial and necessary pubs like DENIM DELINQUENT and BACK DOOR MAN not to mention a few others who were trying to be ample imitations-cum-emulations. Then again, once the eighties got into gear and high energy and intensity were replaced by gnu wave schmooze nothing was the same again!

So anyhoo I guess this is where REASONS FOR LIVING comes in, a mag that you "could" say was to serve editor Jim DeRogatis the same way OUT THERE served Paul Morley or CAN'T BUY A THRILL Russell Desmond...mainly as a vehicle to spring forth into the WONDERFUL WORLD OF PROFESSIONAL ROCK CRITICISM! But then again you (and even I) may be wrong. True DeRogatis eventually became a relatively famous rockscribe who authored a few books and even wrote for the dinosaur daddy of 'em all ROLLING STONE before he was unceremoniously ejected from their hallowed hippie ranks, but REASONS FOR LIVING probably just ain't the reason the guy went on to better things. The mag, surprisingly enough, was too good, too literate and if anything too much in the tradition of the boss seventies fanzines to act as a springboard into the big time of rock writing fame and fortune! It might have gotten DeRogatis a job in the society department of a small town newspaper, but what would you expect in a world that spurns exciting and creative rock writing for sheer hackdom!

Coming off kinda like what NEW HAVEN ROCK PRESS might've had it entered into the eighties, REASONS FOR LIVING despite the unattractive cover more akin to a collectors-oriented fanzine houses some of the better "amateur" writing I've seen from that decade outside of the usual big name standbys like KICKS and OUTASITE. DeRogatis, for being a mere college student, was a rather intelligent and tear into the heart of it writer who can get beneath the superficiality of it all and tell you exactly why (in a halfway decent intellectual manner) group "X" is worth the time and trouble to listen to, and in a great talking TO you manner as well not often seen in the fanzine idiom even that far into the game. Subject matter is timely while being timeless, with DeRogatis waxing eloquent enough on such subject matters as Wire (why do you think I reviewed the above book anyway?) and the then-new Velvet Underground exhumation entitled VU in which the budding fanzine star is one of the few to not only note the new high-fidelity modernesque sound quality of the thing but remark how this reshaped product was being peddled to none other than yuppies (which I could tell as soon as I laid eyes upon the cover!).

Also included are a buncha guest writers who do perfectly well even if their subject matter doesn't quite swing by me one bit. Naturally I am not too interested in reading what anybody thinks about REM pro or con, and I never did hear Dumptruck and must admit that I have little desire to even if DeRogatis did deliver what I would call a very good article, but I can't deny that these pieces don't have a place in this particular fanzine if only for the way they're presented to us in that wonderful matter-of-fact style. What I believe also has a place in this fanzine (and was sorely needed in many others of the day) was the general sway and style that seems to permeate the entire issue...it seems so out of place given the generally anti-energy squeaky-clean demeanor of the day and if there were only more fanzines like REASONS FOR LIVING back then perhaps maybe we wouldn't have had to suffer reading through all of those rather tepid mags that were "speaking" for the new sophisticated punk generation making the whole thing look sillier as the days progressed.

Oh, and maybe I should mention what I consider the featured item of the issue, the fabled final interview that a high school-era DeRogatis did with none other than his idol, Lester Bangs. A pretty spiffy interview it is as well even if it captures Bangs during the least potent part of his career, but I don't care considering the historical significance of it all (besides, his commentary about rock videos shows that perhaps providence was kind in offing him before he could live to see Twisted Sister). It all reminds me of a story regarding my own dealings more or less with DeRogatis when I wrote the man to fill him in on some articles that were missing from the list of published writings listed in the back of his very own Lester Bangs bio from about a decade back. I got a nice email from DeRogatis asking for copies of these fanzine rarities that seemed to have gone under the Bangs radarscope which I did, but when I brought up a few more discoveries I got what I considered a smartsy assy response from the guy for reasons I still can't comprehend. Made me mad enough at the time that I didn't even mention the additional pieces (one of 'em from NIX ON PIX come to think of it) I discovered in the interim, but I think I got "over" this bit of adolescent-level angst and anxiety by now. Whatever, one should not mess with the master, and for that breach of protocol who knows if I'll ever help out a struggling researcher with any rockism-related information wallowing in the serenity of my deepest thoughts! Shudder!!!!
***
Erica Pomerance-YOU USED TO THINK CD (ZYX/ESP Germany)

In honor of the recent digipack reissue of this oft-passed on ESP album I decided to spin my 1992 Cee-Dee version of YOU USED TO THINK again and it sounds even better than when I last listened in two years back. Can't say that this is one of those all-important late-sixties rock epiphanies in the tradition of the Velvet Underground and Stooges like the recent hype would lead us to believe, but it sure transcends a lotta hippie watermarks into just good, intense rock music with nice avant-jazz references. Nuttin' wrong wit' dat especially when the hippie watermarks are firmly entrenched in the avant jazz and they don't come off as stark pertentious as they usually would (as in Joni Mitchell's MINGUS...need I say more?).