J.T. IV-COSMIC LIGHTNING LP and DVD-R (Drag City, available at all good 'n hip mailorder companies nationwide)
Sorry, I still haven't gotten hold of Death's FOR ALL THE WORLD TO SEE album that Drag City got mucho press space with this year, but thankfully I did manage to latch onto their other recent hip fodder release which as the case may be seemed too good to be true in classic underground rock hype-drive fashion. I never heard of John Henry Timms IV before and I doubt that you haven't as well, but I guess that this "J.T. IV" guy had made a pretty good name for himself in the Chicago area with his own particular brand of underground rock wank that had more than a passing reference to the mid-seventies musical "journey" of the "man" called David Bowie. From the looks of it this Timms guy has been there are done that a few times over, and his weird resume makes most people adhering to the "rock lifestyle" seem rather "timmy". After all, this aficionado produced a porn flick, was severely disfigured in an automobile accident (and refused plastic surgery until egged on by his girlfriend, preferring to be known as the hooded performer "Frankenstein") and was committed to the mental hospital somewhere in between recording the music that has ended up on this album. Pray tell, what have you done lately???
So how could I pass up this promising long player with a front cover snap of Mr. Timms kinda looking like Kenne Highland's younger brother and a back spoofing the insert-sleeve bootlegs of the seventies anyway? Not easily enough which is why I am grateful to get hold of GREASED LIGHTNING, an album which I guess could be considered a "best of" of sorts containing the local hit "Waiting For the RTA" as well as some decidedly folky endeavors which I guess would be considered to be in the Bowie vein. Don 't let that scare you off because JT could deliver on the goods even if the goods were watered down glitter spectacle.
Naturally David as well as his perennial pal Lou Reed are good starting points for the JT IV sound, and "RTA" is highly reminiscent of the Bowie version of "Waiting For My Man" complete with the revised chord change that we all heard during the Spiders From Mars days. The rest of GREASED LIGHTNING comes off suave enough, that is, if you still have the heavy pangs of lust for the early-seventies Bowie style before he decided to become the seventies version of Bobby Darin. The acoustic folkers and Spider-esque rockers are just about as good as any mid-seventies original music group's variation on the form and they certainly do sound authentic in Timms' own seventies rock worshipping way, even if some of the numbers could have used a little more gestation before being birthed upon an audience, or recording studio for that matter. But given the amt. of music that should have been D&C'd at conception these days maybe I shouldn't complain, at least that much.
Yeah, and the quality might make you want to throw a fit, especially at the end of side two when the music speeds up and slows down during the sax solo. But then again, maybe that's where the bootleg cover spoof really does figures in to it all.
Oh, this also comes with a burnt DVD which my player seems to be rejecting like a heart transplant, but reports have it as being a so-so representation of the JT IV live experience so perhaps I'm really not missing that much. But hey, I'd prefer to find out about it on my own terms so maybe one of these day when it decides to act on my accord and not its usual freewheeling self?
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
J.T. IV-COSMIC LIGHTNING LP and DVD-R (Drag City, available at all good 'n hip mailorder companies nationwide)
Saturday, July 25, 2009
NOW DON'T YOU START ME TALKIN'!
Yes, I try to be calm, I try to control myself and act like nothing's happened, but I can't help it. My anger is strong, it grows and it will never subside until the cause of my turmoil is vanquished for all time of which there is a fat chance that will happen but I can dream, can't I? One time I felt so helpless, like what could I do, me bein' just another peasant in the dogpound of life but with the advance of technology (most notably the printing press, later on the internet) let's just say that the score has been evening up, even if only a tad but we're gettin' to the point where we all will be seeing eye-to-eye in the hopefully near future.
What got me (and this particular part of this post) goin' just happens to be this exchange I saw via TAKI'S TOP DRAWER a few days ago that was taken from an MSNBC "debate" for wont of a better term (it was more or less like a verbal knock-down/drag-out) between host Rachel Maddow and Pat Buchanan regarding current Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sodemayor. It's not that I usually watch MSNBC, but the concept of a discussion or whatever you'd wanna call it between Maddow (hey guys, you may think she is hot looking but don't ask her for a date because she's a shrub scout!) and the mostly right/sometimes wrong Buchanan was a bit tempting to say, or at least it is for political masochists like myself. Unfortunately the kerfuffle seemed to boil down to Maddow thinking that Sodemayor would be great for the court because she's Hispanic thus breaking down that good ol' boy barrier that's been up for quite some time (y'know, the one that gave us all of those stodgy WASP neanderthals who juristicted in favor of a wide array of social planner programs and laws that eventually putsched Maddow's ideology to the forefront of Amerigan gulcher) while Buchanan seemed to argue that Sodemayor just ain't a qualified chick as if a lotta the nominees from his side of the aisle necessarily were, but that ain't the point of this particular "edi-too-REAL". What is is Maddow's attempt at getting in the last word in typical above-it-all "I know the true meaning of life" progressive smugness by tossing what I assume was to have been an "insulting" parting shot to Pat, mainly admonishing him by telling the noted commentator "you're living in the fifties" as if this was the unkindest cut she could think of in the heat of such a hot-button subject.
That ain't the first time that phrase has been used as a derougatory shot at an unevolved member of the species oh so out-of-touch with that go-with-the-flow snazzy chattering class mentality that's been shoved down all of our throats for the past umpteen decades or so. Take the time when NYC Cardinal John O'Connor died and an obit in some gay newspaper celebrated his passing by (guess!) saying that the man was stuck in the fifties because of his particular anti-gay liberation views (as if the guy was a bulwark of right wing activism, but when you crusade against the holy liberal cornerstones of abortion and gay rights you're a thug no matter what else you may believe!). And really, I hate to bring this up again, but a good five years back when there was this certain blogpost on a site dedicated to children's music, a particular barb directed at yours truly derided me for liking the fifties because that was a time when blacks, women, gays and left-handed herniated Hopi Indians for all I know were "repressed" by people like me (assuming he meant second/third generation Americans who were certainlly being derided for their ethnicity by the same "protectors" I assume this commentator derives his own Euro background from). Leaving the whys and whatfores of this guy's own genetic makeup out of the picture let us concentrate on the main gist of what people like Maddow, the gay obit man and our long-forgotten bunsnitch are saying...that the fifties were some sort of dark ages evil period in life where "oppressed peoples" were struggling and kept under the thumbs of those oft-loathed "good ol' boys", all of these huddled masses just waiting for 1960 to roll around so we could all live in peace and throw frisbees in the park without being hassled by "the man". Or something like that. Most likely "nothing". Looking at history through pink rear-view glasses has always been a problem for the more blessed amongst us.
Gee, them "evil" fifties. As far as general entertainment and all-around fun times go, I couldn't think of a better place to be stuck in. OK, if you were poor or some sorta anti-social schmuck pervert I can see you hating them, but why punish the achievers and the adventurous and the better aspects of this thing we call humanity for wanting to revel in an era which gave us all of those great things from sleek automobiles to great television programs and wowzer movies anyway? These anti-fifties people just seem like the usual sore thumbs and ugly girls who were jealous of all of the well-doers and adventurous in life, and wanted to punish them for being so clean and intelligent and fun-loving when we all should have been wallowing in some pigsty mewling to each other in a little too politically-correct form of self-pity.
Now don't get me wrong, I was and remain out of the loop of genetically and mentally functional denizens of this world but that doesn't mean I still can't appreciate the finer things that Ameriga at its best gave us, like chintzy rock & roll groups, drive-in restaurants, fuzzy UHF television stations you couldn't tune in in a million years and comic books that fall apart in your hands whild you're reading them. And yeah, the fifties either gave or promulgated all of these wonderful things and much more, which is why when I hear people like Maddow and that anon. poster not to mention a whole generation of pampered puerile namby-pambies put down the fifties I wanna nadram 'em all in a way that would even give Mickey Spillane the shudders!
Let's face it, the fifties were perhaps the greatest period within the past few milleniums to be alive, and I don't mean fifties in some stupid HAPPY DAYS revision way in which you had to do more than a little squinting to make it seem semi-real, but the fifties in that boss fashion where America was coming outta World War II prosperous and rarin' for action and kids had loads of fun things to do and best of all there seemed to be this great bond between parents and kids and some sort of community between neighbors and when you tuned into the boob tube after a good day of work and lawn care you didn't have to worry about your beliefs and credo being slammed incessantly by the likes of Maddow not forgetting a load of "comedians" who haven't produced a laugh in years. At least back then we knew right (life and energy) from wrong (International Communism and those who couldn't tell it from shinola) before decades of blurred moral vision seemed to make everyone as muddled as a typical MR A crowd scene!
First let's talk tee-vee! Back then it was really fantastic stuff, that is if you could drag in one of those fuzzy low-budget UHF stations that now run nothing but infomercials and cheapo "network" news. Back then they were airing all sorts of fun and rare programming that you now have to dish out the dinero for via some internet DVD company. Of course even the regular stations were really on-target with all of that hot network programming that intellectuals seem to begrudgingly admit to liking these days. Face it, whether it be old movies, local kiddie shows or even the CBS network feed tee-vee couldn't be beat in the fifties because even with its share of dull PLAYHOUSE 90 quality shows there were five OZZIE AND HARRIETs making up for it!
(Oh yeah, and I remember some crybaby liberal in the papers once complaining about the lack of blacks and Jews on fifties television as if they were somehow invisible and verboten to the vast majority of whitebread Ameriga. I guess whoever this horse-blindered person was she wasn't aware of AMOS 'N ANDY, BEULAH, Molly Goldberg or Doberman from SGT. BILKO. Of course that would've ruined her entire hissyfit rant, but let's not let facts get in the way of a good thrashing of all that is right and just.)
Lessee what else was boss about the fifties? How about politics? I mean, back then people knew right from wrong, and you couldn't get wronger than the communists. Sheesh, there was a time when even upper-class democrats like Bobby Kennedy were working with Joe McCarthy because they too knew that once the communists would get in their source for Chivas Regal would dry up, and thankfully when the big communist putsch was in full gear Amerigans weren't clouded by shades of grey in every moral situation to come upon them or else we'd all be speaking New Yorkese!
Of course some people will bring up the race situation in the fifties. You know, that time when President Eisenhower sent in troops to calm down the upheaval in Little Rock and all that. Never mind that Eisenhower didn't particularly care for black people and thought them inferior to whites, but it wasn't like he was just sitting around acting as if these people did not exist. Of course all of the turmoil in the South at the time was cause for indignation amongst Northern elites who were so aghast at the racism beneath the Mason/Dixon line, until riots broke out in such decidedly Northern cities as Detroit in the sixties at which point they all seemed to clam up at least for a few minutes. And true, many blacks, like many whites, weren't exactly having the best go at it, but at least the families were stable and the illegitimacy rate wasn't skyrocketing through the roof and crime wasn't as rampant. I'm sure someone will be able to spin all of this in some sort of negative light, and if so feel free to do so. Just not on my blog!
What else...how about automobiles although my favorite period has to be roughly 1959-1963 which was an era that was still running on fifties gas fumes anyway. There were some beauties coming out of the body design firms of Italy throughout the fifties as anyone who has laid eyes upon a Chrysler Ghia could tell you. How about food? Yeah, all that great tasting and unhealthy stuff you'd find in fry joints, not to mention the all-new wonders appearing on the shelves of supermarkets nationwide you just don't see anymore! And if you were a kid, man life was made for you! I mean, look at all the hot toys there were, plus there were better choices for you tee-vee-wise than there are even today, and with a maximum of only a handfulla stations to choose from! And really, if I were a kid I'd rather come home from school to THE ROCKY SHOW than I would Oprah!
But most of all, how about the music? Lotsa hot stuff going on in the fifties music-wise and most of it led to the big noise upheaval we call the sixties, but not the sixties of love and flowers and the American Dream including Indians too. Talking stuff like the hot, early avant garde jazz of Ornette etc., not to mention all of those great hard blues records that were creeping out at the dawn of the decade as well. Of course there was also good ol' rockabilly and yeah, even the early roots of all of that garage band punk rock you like was birthed in them evil fifties as any listen to Link Wray, the Rock-A-Teens or a slew of BACK FROM THE GRAVE unknowns will lead you to believe. And what about the big guns of fifties music like Elvis, Chuck, Bo, Buddy, Ricky, Screamin' Jay and a few dozen other winners? I'll take any of 'em next to your introspective sixties/seventies folkies and boring hippie groups that, contrary to logic, never did fizzle out like they shoulda.
So what else can I say other than I sure hope that all of those commentators bemoaning how the sworn enemies of heavily modulated progress are "living in the fifties" will change their cliched tune about those great times. Or at least they were times I sure wish I coulda lived through and enjoyed even if kismet would've probably stuck me in the middle of a dirt poor family who couldn't even afford a cardboard box to live in! But even then, why should I begrudge the middle-class tee-vee watching, record-spinning and Dinky Toy-playing kid his right to engage in some hot fun and exist in a crime-free, hot suburban environment ranch house existence anyway? I know it might not be as exciting to the Maddows and anti-BTC commentators of the world as feminist workshops and college Marxist studies, but in the long run it sure benefits the human race a whole lot more, if you know what I mean. (Really, I shouldn't let these Daughters of Belitas types get the best of me!) And if ya gotta complain about anything how about the sixties, with all of those smelly hippies and mudfests and pampered college kid riots and lousy television (at least on the net level '67 on) and whining feminist bitches (wait, that was 1970!)...sheesh, if it weren't for the Velvet Underground and Stooges I don't think I'd want to live through those years at all!
***Yes, I'm still rarin' to write about some more of the big batch of booty I have received o'er the past week or so even after that soapboxing screed of mine, so midoudt further ado here are a few items of worth that you probably wouldn't care to know about anyway, but I find 'em keen nonetheless...
***CHRISTIAN VANDER ET LES TROIS JEFFS CD-R (Palm)
Another one from the Shute burn file, a rarity of rarities featuring the noted Magma leader doing the Coltrane thing with three French guys named Jeff, they being Jeff Saeffer, Jef (no sic) Catoire and Jef (ditto) Gilson. Albums like these were only spoken about in hushed tones back in the early-eighties, now they're readily available which I guess would get a few people who dished out the moolah for these back then a little more'n upset. If you're as game for the sixties-styled free splat you certainly will enjoy this even with the white European flavor. Vander's drum solo closing this disque out is a marvel to behold even if you don't particularly care for such clang and burn.
***Andrea Centazzo-ICTUS CD-R (Ictus)
This is my first go 'round with this Italian percussionist, and from what I understand this '74 album was Centazzo's first go 'round as a leader to boot! That said, I didn't quite go for this particular session which sounded rather staid in a Euro sense and at times bordered on what I would call Italian-styled prog rock with a few fusion moves tossed in to make it copasetic with the jazz community. Not exactly my cup of dago red, though to be all nice and fair about it some of it does tune into my blinkered sense of what is barely engrossing soundscapading.
***THE MARZETTE WATTS ENSEMBLE CD-R (Savoy)
I'm sure that every BLOG TO COMM reader worth his weight in unsold back issues already has Watts' ESP-disk album in his possession (and loves and cherishes it as well!), but I'm equally positive that very few of these same readers have a copy of Watts' second album on Savoy in any configuration. A surprising rarity considering how Savoy wasn't exactly an under-the-covers label, but I'm sure a little searching will lead you to the rapidshare link of your choice in order to obtain this great late-sixties free sesh. Good in that subdued, unfettered style with Watts and a good backup (including such big names as Juney Booth, Bobby Few and Steve Tintweiss) playing two Ornette Colemans, one Bill Dixon and three originals with Patty Waters making her (almost two decade) swan song from recording with up-and-comer Amy Sheffer attempting to take up the torch, and doing an admirably well job at it as well.
***HAWKWIND CD (EMI England)
Here's the debut spinner from everyone's favorite space-age raves Hawkwind, a group that in retrospect seem too good to have come out with even two albums but stranger things have happened. Y'know, I can't see how people could lump these guys in with the Moody Blues, Yes and the rest of the aerie-faerie flitter brigades. They were always more high energy knock-down-drag-out rock as most of their albums would attest to, including this one which ranges from post-psychedelic frazzle to hard-edged Deviants drone. Surprisingly subdued especially when compared to the group's recorded output released during they heyday, though I did catch a nice theme that would be reworked with Robert Calvert lyrics for "Spirit of the Age" off QUARK, STRANGENESS AND CHARM a good seven or so years later.
***The Golden Dawn-POWER PLANT CD (Charly, UK)
Not having this International Artists album in my possession I was a tad curious about exactly how these Thirteenth Floor Elevators-influenced Texan teenage rockers would hold up on this, their sole album. Well, although the results weren't exactly knock-me-down I will admit that the Golden Dawn were a pretty good psychedelic band playing in the same sorta strata as Roky and company with maybe a bit less lysergia in the mix. Sounds fun enough in a lower dosage way even if it ain't anything the Texas Rangers woulda wanted to bust 'em over. What's really boffo about this particular reissue is that it comes in a package that looks like a hard-covered book complete with an insert history/interview just chock fulla rare pictures and the like! Really nice even if the only place you can store it is on the kiddie bookshelf next to your prized editions of ALICE IN WONDERLAND and PINOCCHIO.
***Of course there's more, but you'll have to wait to read all about it. I mean I gotta have something to write about next week, eh???
Posted by Christopher Stigliano at 2:28 PM
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Jean-Francois Pauvros & Gaby Bisien-NO MAN'S LAND LP (free download available here)
Jac Berrocal-MUSIQ MUSIK LP (originally released on the Futura label in France, free download available here)
I mean, who woulda believed it?!? Here I was, just mindin' my own business thinking nothing but good wholesome thoughts and what should arrive inna mail but this package from none other than Bill Shute! Whatta guy, he remembered my birthday (and I never remember his which is why I buy him an extra-special big and costly present for Christmas which is more fun 'n birthdays anyway because of the penchant for more gifts!) and what should the ol' pooperoo send me but a whole slew of Cee-Dee-Are burned offa the internet along with a DVD set of the MATCH GAME that comes inna flimsy package where the disques tend to fall out all over the place! It's sure great to know that people like Bill are out there thinking of me, that is unless you count that weird package I received just the other day postmarked Melbourne Australia that arrived looking like it was put together by an insane Albanian dwarf with about three spools of masking tape holding it together. I think after soaking it in the stationary tub overnight it should be safe to open without me being torn to smithereens, you ol' Unabomber you!
But oh man those jazz Cee-Dees the man sent! I guess ol' Mr. S is making up for that previous package which had its share of free jazz wonders true, but also some more easy-listening-attuned platters he got off that old Iron Curtain elpee download blog chock fulla these records custom made for overweight saltmine workers with heavy beards and drooping pecs to cool down after a good eighteen-hour workday. As far as their husbands go I dunno what they listen to, but those hefty babes sure need something to soothe their aching minds along with their aching thighs from a day of rubbing together more than any chafing cream could hope to do!
But Bill did good to download these wonders for me...I guess he also hits the Mutant Sounds blog as well which is where I also found these two rarities waiting for my virgin ears. I grouped both of these together not only because they were released by particularly fringe-y artists on extremely obscure labels nor because both of these disques are of a seventies vintage and French in origin, but because they just happened to be the ones I wanted to hear first amongst all of the burns that Bill sent my way. I hope that proves to you that my mind works in a totally non-linear abstract fashion, which come to think of it might just be the norm these days. I knew that the times would eventually catch up with me!
Jean-Francois Pauvros is one of those names that I've seen tossed about o'er the years, but as far as I can tell the only recording other'n this that I happen to possess is that one he did with Mahogany Brain mastermind Michel Bulteau entitled RINCURES. I must admit that one hasn't been getting spun around here as much as the Mahogany Brain elpees proper which is something I hope to change in the very near future considering the tres avant style and grace that goes into Pauvros' artistic DNA. So it's sure grand that Bill send a copy of this mid-seventies album (label unknown!) that this Frenchman did with a Gaby Bizien entitled NO MAN'S LAND which I must admit is a real killer, a duo recording that ranks up there with a whole slew of indecipherable jazz duo disques ranging from those Rashied Ali platters either with Frank Lowe or Leroy Jenkins on Survival or even the infamous Doug Snyder/Bob Thompson DAILY DANCE, a rec which I thought NO MAN'S LAND was going to come painfully close to.
Not close, and no cigar for sure cuz this Pauvros/Bizien endeavor is more slow-burn than overkill...and for the most part it is not a standard guitar/drums all-out fest in the grand trad of DD or a few of those Blue Human outings where Rudolph Grey would get it up with a freedom percussionist of verifiable notoriety. Pauvros seems to play more than his rather Arto/Neto-ish guitar including what sounds like a wood flute as well as an accordion or a squeeze box of some makeup (whilst playing some old Euro folky thing he probably wowed the peasants with age seven!) while Bizien clanks and prods a whole number of percussives, some of the standard variety while others sound like they came from a NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC garage sale (such as the balafon), and the overall effects are akin to something yer dad woulda thought was a buncha chimpanzees or hippies (same thing) banging on pots and pans while aimlessly strumming some electric guitars before being shocked to death. Naturally we all know better, I think.
Anyway it is a mesmerizing if oft chaotic album that I hope will rise outta obscurity and worm its way into your heart one of these days, since it does fit well into that mad European free music take that had its own inimitable style, charm and perhaps insanity to boot. Now if somebody would only post the song titles and give us a li'l more bg info than the web is letting on even this late in the game.
Pauvros' sometimes working partner Jac Berrocal is pretty well known on the Euro avant front and the fact that a nice biography of this guy hasn't been laid before us only goes to prove the generally sad state of what is and isn't considered important on the musical front underground or otherwise. Berrocal's done it all from free jazz to vocalese to even what some would call punk rock (perhaps in that great early-seventies JAMZ sorta way), and the fact that the only recorded output I have of him by way of vinyl is his appearance of the United Dairies AN AFFLICTED MAN'S MUSICAL BOX is pretty shameful if you ask me. I have tried to rectify this situation by attempting to purchase various available offerings via Forced Exposure but they always seem to be sold out by the time I get to 'em which is, as they say in San Francisco, a drag, queen.
Thankfully this burn courtesy Shute helps out, it being none other than Berrocal's debut album from '73 recorded for the French Futura label which as we all should know is the same company that gave us the debut Mahogany Brain head-splitter for a week or so before that proto-punk rave became sold out for years on end. Don't expect a free jazz all-out screechfest here, and in fact don't expect anything coming near what your ideas of what avant jazz is supposed to be for this, like Mahogany Brain, is European free sound that reminds me more of those early Futurist recordings out of twenties Italy than they do the even-newer-than-new jazz thang that spawned more than a few small labels over Europe way. Percussion clang, bells tinkle and trumpet blasts here and there, and were those bagpipes coming in? You can tell this is a powerful album because even explosives were used, and I am happy to say that no lives were lost in the making of this album. A good comparison would be the Donald Garrett and Zusann Kali Fasteau Sea Ensemble album on ESP, perhaps with a more Gallic approach to sound deconstruction.
And, wonders of wonders, Bill has included even more Frenchie free music in this package including a Christian Vander album recorded during the early days of Magma which promises to be a hard hoot in the post-Coltrane bop! Stay tuned, and whatever you do tune into the above albums for a one-way trip I'm sure you won't wanna come back from!
Posted by Christopher Stigliano at 5:52 AM
Saturday, July 18, 2009
SO WHAT WERE YOU EXPECTING---DETAILED TWANG?????
Sorry (yeah, right!) that this particular blogpost can't be as star-studded and jambus-packtus as it has been with hotcha pertinent information just brimming from its borders, but we can't all be Jay Hinman. All kidding aside, feel thankful that I was able to scratch this pitiful bunch of reviews (of recorded items taken directly from my recent Forced Exposure order) up for your pleasure this week, because this just hadda've been one of the more jungered seven-day periods (not that, girlies!) that I have come across as of late. Being able to come out of it with even the energy to tie my shoes certainly is a miracle in itself, and naturally old devoted """I""" have decided to forge on and do some all important blogging when I could be lounging about in the back yard! Talk about devotion, willya? Believe-you-me, there were more goodies in that package than the following pittance to talk about but those have yet to be listened to and gestated in the pregnant mind-fields of my cranium, so stick around for a week or three to get the full meal deal.
Before we get into the juicy bits of tasty musical morsels maybe I should mention the very recent passing of none other than that ol' newsman we've known to somethingorother, Walt Cronkite. Yes, I do know that I should be saying nothing but nice things about the guy now that he's deader 'n Sam, and in the course of it maybe tell you about all of the memories I have of the evening news being on and Mom'd be darning socks while Dad'd be reading the paper and Jillery would either be doing her homework or causing trouble...with me being steamed as ever the whole time because on channel 33 they were showing YOGI BEAR cartoons while NBC and CBS were running the news and my folks did not want to watch ABC because their news presentations with the long-forgotten Ron Cochran reeked so bad! Yeah I could tell you all that but I'll just go on to say that ol' Walt sure suckered a whole buncha people into thinking that he was "the most trusted name in news" because I dunno if I could trust the guy to be chief-of-dogcatchers let alone someone whom I could believe to give me the pure unadulterated news! From what I have read over the years, Cronkite came off like your typical smug and above-it-all television anchorman whose sneering elitism was perhaps hidden by a genuine misunderstanding of everyone from the Soviets, Chinese, Viet Cong (remember, he's the one who told us that the tide of the Vietnam war had changed after TET when in fact the exact opposite had happened) and perhaps Ameriga itself. (I do remember watching some "town hall"-styled interview program with him from the late-seventies when a priest complained to him about the lack of coverage of pro life happenings and Cronkite gave a pat, brief and smug response with this hideously above-it-all look upon his face. For a guy who wasn't that enamored with the pro life movement at the time even I couldn't take the condescending attitude that was being broadcast nationally!)
Walt soon evolved from being a bewildered sixties liberal seemingly confused over the kids and their strange ways into being a crusading seventies/eighties one, or at least I would get that impression regarding some of his more outspoken rants and opinions regarding the entire world struggle as we've seen it. And, to make matters even worse, in between hosting boring New Years Day specials on PBS Cronkite was, in his advanced stage, penning newspaper columns about how maybe he gloriosky would consider marrying a man which only goes to show you that maybe we should keep octogenarians away from the internet and word-processors especially if they are being heavily dosed! Yeah, I know some of you older BTC readers will point to his (from what I can barely remember about it) THE TWENTIETH CENTURY series (and who could forget the footage of all those stacked up bodies complete with closeups of children's faces which really gave us three-year-olds the creeps!) and its successor THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY which was either right on-target predictable or typical FLASH GORDON fodder, but then again he was also the host of the vastly-overrated YOU ARE THERE which, like all of those similar-minded PBS historical recreations this program obviously inspired, was just the past looked at through extremely tinted elitist rear viewing mirror glasses (read: poor downtrodden schmucks the good guys, overweight mustachioed whites the heavies).
Frankly, in my perhaps not-so-humble opinion Walter Cronkite's passing came more than a bit too late.
Now that we got the serious, thought-provoking portion of this post out of the way let's get on to the good stuff (or shall I say that stuff I dished out good money for in the hopes it would be good!):
***MAMMUT CD (Long Hair Germany, available via Forced Exposure)
I haven't been getting many new krautrock jollies as of late and there's only so many times I can spin my copy of PARDIESWARTS DUUL nightly before wafting off into a non-narcotic inducced dream state, so latching onto this recently-reissued obscurity seemed like the manly thing to do. Unfortunately Mammut can't hack it with the rest of the German/European proto-punky garage aficionados on the scene with their look-how-heavy-we-can-get playing and general early-seventies miasma stylings that do tend to agitate. Heavy on the progressive state of affairs, so if you go for that sorta thing be my guest! Cee-Dee closing track by the pre-Mammut Rope Sect had some spice to it, so maybe I should try to snatch up that UNDER PARTY GROUND collection from whence it was culled? Sounds like a tastier piece of schnitzel, yahwohl!
***The Inner Space-AGILOK AND BLUBBO CD (Wah Wah, available through Forced Exposure)
Really, I thought this collection of early pre-Can soundtrack music was going to be an out-and-out winner, but it's nothing but tres-boring incidental tinkling with a few spicy bits of rock thrown in here and there, nothing to get excited at all about. In fact most of AGILOK AND BLUBO is quite the road to irritable-ville, and although brief bits and pieces might have served us better scattered across say, a collection along the lines of (UN)LIMITED EDITION it pretty much sounds like a flat out snoozer when heard from end to end. The saddest thing about this 'un is that while this stuff gets the royal red carpet treatment there are HOURS of Can rarities that remain unreleased to this day that sure would brighten the life of any German expressionist rock fan who has to beg for his shards whilst others get the filet mignon treatment. I'm tired of these dog biscuits too and sure could use a few buffet trips, if you know what I mean!
***Sperm-SHH! LP (De Stjil...Forced Exposure seems to be out of 'em but Volcanic Tongue had 'em available the last time I looked)
Rumor has it that 95% of all Finnlanders are inbred, and if this is true then there certainly is an excuse for this album. Actually it's a good 'un if you're into all of those nutty noisebender freeform bleats that have been ticklin' the ol' bean for the past forty sunspins, complete with weirdo freaksound noise and even an extended horn romp that'll give both the LAFMS people and the AACM reason to stay up all night in agony. Sperm founder/leader Pekka Airaksinen is somewhat of a legend in Finland, and as far as late-sixties freakshow rampages go Sperm were perhaps the nuttiest bunch to ever get their sick act out on a stage, at one point going as far as to actually have live balling segments which as far as I can tell only the Fugs ever dared speak about. Crazy indeed, and if you ask me I think a Sperm/Smegma double bill would've been one of the choicest pairings to ever grace a stage (ow!)
***Cromagnon-CAVE ROCK CD (ESP)
Third time's the charm for this crucial ESP reissue, the first being taken from vinyl sounding the worse for wear with side two sped up while the second, although sounding much better, took liberties in editing that no true believer should ever dare accept. CAVE ROCK remains a highmark of the entire late-sixties doo-wah classics, and really I can't see any BTC-approved home being without one safel snuggled next to all their Neu! and Faust pleasers. Digipack omits the all-crucial history, but maybe you can snatch whatever info you can from your other issues.
Posted by Christopher Stigliano at 2:39 PM
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Just Water-DOWNTOWN AND BROOKLYN, THE COMPLETE RECORDINGS 3-CD set (justwatermusic.com, also available via CD Baby)
Last week it was David Patrick Kelly's turn. Now it's Just Water's.
Yeah, I know you most certainly don't remember Just Water, and to most of the rats who threw their heart, soul and a few cornplastered tootsies into what we know as seventies underground rock they're just anudder name that pops up in the "footnote" category while all of the hefty rock space is being devoted to the likes of Talking Heads, Blondie and the rest of those groups that made it big while sacrificing more than a little integrity in the process. Maybe if Just Water decided to do a little twisto-changeo with their sound we woulda been seeing their albums proudly emblazoned in the record shops of the day only to fall into the 99-cent bin once 1980 rolled around. Thankfully they didn't stray too far from the core of the matter (rock & roll) even if it meant losing a whole lotta buckskins and chances at immortality in the process.
My first tumbling upon the Just Water name came when I got hold of the second MAX'S KANSAS CITY album...y'know, the one that everybody dismissed offhand because none of the "punkier" New York groups appeared on it. Yes, although the likes of Pere Ubu and the Cramps were slated for this 1977 outing it seems as if the entirety of MAX'S KANSAS CITY VOLUME TWO was taken up by what one would call the second and third string of New York's underground rock, those groups that I won't deny were good enough, but totally out of step with the Ramones and Dictator-type groups that were getting all of that hotcha ROCK SCENE press. More or less Wednesday night at CBGB stuff or, as the then-current vernacular would say, "bar bands".
Amongst these so called "bar bands" were some interesting acts like the Elliot Murphy-esque Andrew Pearson Band, the Kiss without makeup hard pop of the Brats and just post-Winkies Phillip Rambow, not to mention a few more halfway-there groups who might have made it had they somehow stuck out amongst the reams of acts trying to make the big time via the small stage. One group that did seem to show promise was Just Water, an act whose "What We Need is Some Rock" came off like a good enough FM rock anthem for the day, kinda like Boston without the zillion-dollar budget or the Who if they sorta remembered their promise about dying before they got old. The Who comparison actually works wonders...y'see, Just Water shared the same manager with local Who-maniacs the Planets, and not surprising the two were sharing many a stage at Max's putting on shows that I would say were probably a whole lot more in-sync than some of those gigs where the likes of Pezband would be matched up with Suicide and Kongress!
Unlike the Planets and a whole load of local underground groups of the day, Just Water were also releasing their own wares via their own Branded records, their first outing being a single entitled "King Kong", released around the same time Television and Cross were getting their indie singles out for a clientele that sure didn't know what an indie single even was! By '77 they had followed it up not only with an album entitled THE RIFF, but a teenage pop cover version of the Joe Cook classic "Singin' In The Rain" which believe-it-or-not Stiff Records picked up for British Isles consumption! According to the group, the Amerigan version was actually the first record since ? and the Mysterians' "96 Tears" to "get heavy airplay in the United States without the backing of any record company"! That sure must've been a feat especially during this heavily manipulated time in radio programming, though for the life of me I can't recall hearing this song anywhere, especially amidst the stench of disco that was all the rage right around the same time.
Flashing foward to today and whaddya know but it seems as if there's a whole slew of Just Water booty available for all three of us who remember who they were in the first place! And this triple-disc set, packaged in a neat professional fold-out cover with informative insert booklet glued to the package making it hard to lose (and hard to read), might just ensure that there will be more than three fans once word of this neat collection makes its way via the blogvine!
As far as being a "document", well it sure works wonders presenting Just Water as a band that had something good to say for ears that, if only attuned to their brand of hard pop, would have eaten this stuff up along with the better aspects of whatever was left of seventies AM (and FM) at the time. And with the Who making it big on the heels of Keith Moon's passing with WHO ARE YOU I'm sure these guys coulda done even more'n just rode around on their coattails, and if you thought that "Hot Child in the City" was the last seventies single (excepting some Leif Garrett tuneage if you like!) perhaps "Singin' in the Rain" woulda given it a little run for the money if only that self-push had been a little harder.
Disc one's a reissue of THE RIFF, and for a guy who thought that album was kinda iffy I find that it sounds fantastic all these years later. Good on the harmony pop mixed in with the tried yet surprisingly true hard poundage so common in late-seventies rock, THE RIFF sounds more like CBGB 1976 and less like the bar band schmooze of the day when collegiate numbnuts were all agog over half-baked Springsteen imitations and ignored the real thing (not Brooce, if you know what I mean). I'm surprised at the smoothness of it all which did make a fine counterpoint to the one-dimensional heavy metal goes hard pop that was so prevalent at the time.
The unreleased second album on disque #2, MEET THE COMPETITION, didn't quite zone it for me and sounds like a standard tired followup which is nothing new in the record biz unless your name is Velvet Underground or Stooges. Good thing they didn't get to release it because I find it less enthralling and perhaps more of a commercial try at the big time, but slipping on two versions of "Singin' in the Rain" (the Branded and Stiff records takes) was a stroke of genius and who am I to complain about that?
THe final disc has two live recordings, the first a portion of an FM broadcast from the old CBGB Theatre in '78 and the second from CBGB proper also in '78, showing that these guys were a lot freer and rockin' in a live setting, or at least there was a spark of action on these tracks which makes me really think that Just Water would have been a great band to lay eyes upon in any underground club they'd care to grace, delivering a whole lot of energy and power that could be found in ready supply in the garages and dives of underground Ameriga during those best and worst of times days.
Filling out the discs are alternate takes and early versions and fun things along those lines that sometimes do perk up the ears a bit. Disc #3 has got to be noted for having some interesting enough additional flotsam to pad the thing out, including what was purported to be the group's very own attempt at a (now get this) ROCK OPERA sometime in the just-pre club days. It's funny, but when I was spinning this "opera" entitled "The Last Phonograph in the World" I kinda flashed back to what it must've been like in 1971 listening to the last days of freeform rock radio hearing a whole lotta interesting shards mixed in amongst the James Taylors and ELPs, and just wondering what that pretty good bit of obscurity was in the first place!
Maybe I should tell you more about the music and the musicians who made up Just Water. They're tight, energetic, rocking, pro and always in tune, but they still come off like a boss band anyway! Lead singer and guitarist Mitch Dancik pretty much holds it all together with a voice that reminds me of a variety of late-seventies teen idol hard rockers, yet it's sure good to hear such a voice wrapped around great writing, rock & roll hooks and post-Who credo than it is to re-live the reams of Journeys and Foreigners who were doing the same thing and coming off more or less like the Frankies and Bobbys of the early-eighties. Sometimes it's really nice to listen to something well-thought-out, exact, clean and well-produced...that doesn't make you want to puke your guts out, that is!
Before I tune out, I thought I'd let you know that a visit or ten to the band's very own website linked up above is more'n worth the cliched time/effort to do so. It's jam-packed with some really good historical information on the group as well as plenty of old clippings to remind you of just how exciting rock & roll could have been in the seventies, and what really got me all hot and bothered were the old club listings from Max's and CBGB from '75 until the latter part of that high energy decade...really, you learn a lot just by finding out which acts were populating those stages way back when, and not only is it a hoot to discover to your amazement that Max's was still devoting their weekends to disco (?!?!?!) as late as January of '76 (maybe even until the end of March since they were still not listing weekend gigs at this late date!) but that various acts not usually akin to yer standard "punk rock" club (as if CBGB and Max's ever were 100% underground rock) were front and center on these stages where blues and jazz acts were splattered amidst the New York underground clientele...acts like jazz songstress Mercedes Hall and blues guy Paul Oscher were probably just as plentiful at Max's as the Ramones were, and hey I'd love to hear what a group like "300 Years" or especially "Pee Shee" sounded like so if any ex-members have tapes they'd like to jet my way... Anyway, this site is one worth the time to eyeball when you have those mid-seventies hankerin's, and if you used to buy ROCK SCENE to check out the goings on and want a little more resensification after three decades of Madonna (who actually made her debut @ Max's opening for the Rousers!) maybe this'll make you feel like an acne-riddled under-the-thumb repressed li'l kiddie again!
Posted by Christopher Stigliano at 5:10 AM
Sunday, July 12, 2009
I DUNNO, I JUST FELT SO INSPIRED READING THIS!
"He tried one lunge with the ice pick and I broke his wrist with the barrel of the .38 then laid it across the side of his head before he could let out a scream. He went down in a heap like dropping an old laundry bag, the pick rolling from his fingers. It was a nice new sliver of steel, that pick. You could buy them in any dime store and when you loosened the handle and sunk it into somebody you pulled back all your fingerprints and left pain and slow death. Breau and Kung had gone that way. Lang had given it to Stig in the spine and Stig had been a paralytic from the neck down ever since, vegetating in that cottage in Hermitage.
So I broke every finger of Lang's hands, too, then stitched him up the side of each cheek so he'd never be invisible in a crowd again. I opened his belt, pulled his pants and shorts down and waited the two minutes until he started to wake up, holding the point of the pick right over the two goodie sacs, and just as a groan wheezed through his lips and his eyes opened and rolled toward mine I drove the ice pick through those lumps of tissue into the rubber tiled floor and the frenzied yell of horror he started never got past the sharp hiss of his sucked-in breath before he fainted."
from THE ERECTION SET by Mickey Spillane (with slight adaptation).
Posted by Christopher Stigliano at 2:38 PM
Saturday, July 11, 2009
I CERTAINLY DO HAVE AN "AFFINITY" FOR THESE EARLY EIGHTIES JAZZ REISSUES!
Nothing new to write ye about today so I think I'll stick with some oldies to help sate my eternal mission to edjamacate you illiterate musical mavens out there. So bear with me this weekend as I write about some of those great Affinity releases that not-so-strangely enough have been taking up a good portion of my vinyl listening time as of late. I gotta admit that I dig the dickens outta these albums which not only have a similar white lettering on black cover scheme (sometimes reversed), but collect not only a good portion of the classic BYG label but a bevy of European rarities for easy enough access and musical fulfillment. Best of all, it seems like these albums (released by Charly of all people!) are still easy to find here in the present day so it ain't like you'll have to break the band at Monte Carlo to afford 'em! Anyhoo, the following recordings are just a few of the Affinity-label albums that I have been listening to and enjoying as of late...there are more, and if you do a thorough search of this blog you may be able to find even more reviews of these albums that have thrilled and chilled me for quite some time. Maybe not, but it sure is better than scouring other blogs to read about the neuroses and utter degradation of living in Melbourne in a house your folks put up the money for while working as a record shop clerk trying to osmose that decadent Genet-like lifestyle. Hope you enjoy huffing your bowel gas mate!
***Don Cherry-ORIENT 2-LP set
You can get hold of the recent reissue of this featuring an ant walking on the yolk of an uncooked egg on the cover, and I think even Charly themselves have put this 'un out with a new BYG mockup cover, but just for the sake of building up my record collection with all of those discs that eluded me in the seventies and eighties I decided to opt out for this version with the standard white block letters on black which could be found at just about any "specialty" record shop's jazz section way back when. And rilly, for an album that seems to elude most discussions of Cherry this is pretty snat, better than MU or ETERNAL RHYTHM even, showcasing the famed Coleman sideguy leading two trios (featuring such then up-and-comers as Johnny Dyani, Han Bennick and wife Moqui on tamboura) '71/'72 not only winging it on trumpet but playing some primordial piano and flute not to mention vocals, at one time urging the staid French audience to do a little singing along themselves! A lotta these Cherry albums (at least for me) tend to get a little too other-worldly but ORIENT kept my attention up throughout with only goes to show you that I'm either starting to mature as a serious discerner of the finer, more etapoint parts of fine musicianship or that music today is so shabby and merely a reflection of the sick society we really live in now that ANYTHING from the distant past automatically sounds good in comparison. I wouldn't count out the former, but I'd probably put all of my moolah on the latter.
***Theolonius Monk Quartet-SPHERE LP
Hokay, I gotta admit that I never was that much of a follower of this just-pre avant bop stuff like I assume some of you more astute readers are, but dang it if Monk's entire flat-fingered style just didn't have this particularly satisfying and primitive quality to it that set the stage for all of the Cecil Taylors and Paul Bleys who were just about to follow (the leader I'm tempted to say). Recorded live in Paris '67 with a band that I think ain't quite as sympatico as one that woulda had people like Sunny Murray or Malachi Favors backing him, but still sympatico enough I reckon.
***Cecil Taylor-STUDENT STUDIES 2-LP set
Funny, the back cover states that this was a BYG recording but I don't recall ever seeing it mentioned on any of the Actuel discographies I have leading me to beliece it was put out by BYG proper before their specialty avant label was inaugurated. Whadevva, this double-disc recording from a Parisian gig in '66 features Taylor and his unit traipsing some pretty familiar if still angular territory with the usually high-ended results. Listen for yourself the transition from early-sixties free expansion to late-sixties over-the-top atonalism signalled by the blowing of a police whistle! Also features Jimmy Lyons, Alan Silva and Andrew Cyrille, not to mention some pretty hot cops swiped directly from "Nefertiti the Beautiful One Has Come" off the sainted album of the same name (Arista/Freedom variation).
Recorded at the Antibes Jazz Festival in '60 with Dolphy in tow, nothing extremely special but still meaningful enough as a live document from one of the bigger hotheads in jazz. It might be easier to latch up the two-CD Cornell University set which gives you like triple the music at half the cost, but for Mingus dabblers this one won't hurt any.
***Max Roach-AGAIN 2-LP set
Here's a guy I've had passing interest in if only because at times he was an avant garde trailblazer (WE INSIST!: THE FREEDOM NOW SUITE with then-wife Abbey Lincoln being one beautiful example). It's those other times I worry about, but thankfully there's little moan and groan to be done over these two early-sixties French recordings which show Roach and group in suitable pre-avant bop groove romping through everything from hoary oldies to bleak originals and even Lincoln shines with her wonderfully-twisted rendition of the oft-banned "Love For Sale". Coulda used "Triptych" or some other mega-moaning on the eventually-Hollywoodized Lincoln's part, but this'll do until I can find my tape amidst a good three-plus decades of cassette kultur collecting.
***The Spontaneous Music Ensemble-1.2. ALBERT AYLER
Interesting reverse cover her with black and aqua lettering on a white background! Dunno if this is in reference to the "whiteness" of this English free jazz ensemble led by drummer John Stevens who sport a pretty hefty back catalog himself, but no matter what I really enjoyed this sparse setting slow-burn free jazz fest that reminds me of PEOPLE IN SORROW for some strange reason with Julie Tippetts' vocalese fitting in well amidst the soprano sax/bass/drums setting.
***BOOTLEG OF THE WEEK!!!! Bob Dylan-A RARE BATCH OF LITTLE WHITE WONDER VOLUMES ONE THROUGH THREE 3-LP set (Joker, Italy)
Sorry to say that this is the last in my series of vinyl bootleg reviews (unless I can whip up another stack of 'em somewhere in the bowels of my collection perhaps in a month or three), but as far as going out I thought I'd better go out in style with this triple set of early booted Dylan wares that the Eyetalian Joker label released back in the early-seventies. I dunno how many of you remember the Joker label, but they were, and I believe still are, what you would call a "budget" company that had a hefty back catalog of albums and singles mostly using recorded material that somehow fell through the copyright cracks (at least in Italy) and for the most part were legal booty not only there but maybe even here as well. Earlier editions of their albums sport what I guess was their entire back catalog on the back covers featuring a wide bevy of opera, jazz, classical, ethnic and pop releases from stars of both an Amerigan and an international variety, and amidst the Verdis and Bing Crosby/Nat King Cole Christmas albums that Joker were plugging away were a variety of offerings by then-current chart-topping rock acts which in retrospect seems strange given the questionable nature of these albums and their easily-enough obtainability in stereo shops and outta-the-way hip music emporiums nationwide. Their BEATLES/STONES LIVE double-header actually featured recent TMOQ items in pop-crackly mono, while a bunch of Jimi Hendrix jams somehow got onto the label roster in order to sate the crazier of his fans amongst us who used to snatch up those flybynight albums of his that were all the rage back in the mid-seventies. There was even a Led Zeppelin live set which naturally seems to be a highly desired album amongst seventies marijuana-laden supermarket box boys who now have more than a few bucks to splurge on their high school fantasies, but as far as the most famous of the Joker rock bootlegs go, the three volumes of the Bob Dylan RARE BATCH OF LITTLE WHITE WONDER series seem to be the best known and perhaps biggest sellers, having like BEATLES/STONES LIVE gone into numerous printings with cover upgrades well into the early-eighties and (compared with other seventies-era boots) continue to go for mere scratch which always satisfies a budget-conscious bootleg aficionado like myself.
This particular edition of the Joker Dylan saga features all three LITTLE WHITE WONDER in one box set proudly emblazoned with a mid-seventies live Dylan shot belying the fact that none of the material on these platters was recorded after 1965. Naturally that don't matter especially for a fine fellow like myself who always thrived on such misinforming cheapness, but in whatever form these albums come in I'd say they certainly are worthy of your ol' victrola not only given how they present the less-nauseating aspects of the early Dylan saga, but because for the most part they do have a nice bared-wire intensity to 'em that seems pretty neet esp. considering what a wuss the man could turn out to be at times.
Most of this comes from those various early Dylan pre-Columbian motel room tapes that TMOQ made good use out of not forgetting the grandaddy bootleg of 'em all GREAT WHITE WONDER, while a few Band-era rehearsal tracks show that just about everybody in the mid-sixties had a good handle on just what rock & roll was supposed to be, even if most of 'em wafted off into the ether before the decade was over. Dylan ain't preachy and gnawing like he coulda gotten at times (balling Joan Baez does strange things to lads, and lassies too come to think of it) and I gotta say that I found nada in the way of objectionable folkie self-introspection or narcissic pose anywhere to be found. I did find many a (gosh-dare-I-say) exhilarating moment here such as on Dylan's early electric thumper version of "Baby Please Don't Go" not forgetting such obscuros as "Dusty Old Fairgrounds" which Blue Ash decided to turn into a spiffy number on their debut platter as well.
Posted by Christopher Stigliano at 1:18 PM
Wednesday, July 08, 2009
David Patrick Kelly-RIP VAN BOY MAN CD (available via. CD Baby)
Many people I'm positive already know of David Patrick Kelly as a modern-day "character" actor, perhaps not one as well recognizable as a Lyle Talbot or a Byron Foulger but one who is probably visible enough to regular attendees of the cinema and avid prime-time television viewers. His resume is quite long, having appeared under the gun of everyone from Clint Eastwood to Spike Lee as well as on a variety of programs such as MOONLIGHTING and TWIN PEAKS. If I'm not mistaken Kelly's probably best known to the chattering classes for his role as the half-crazy gang leader in the 1979 feature THE WARRIORS, a film that had inner city youth tearing up the seats when fights between rival outfits began combusting while the picture was being shown thus garnering the film a little more publicity than it probably could have stood.
Not being a very avid prime-time television watcher since the late-seventies or theatre-goer by any stretch of the imagination, I wasn't aware of who Kelly was or whether or not he was "famous" or just another Hollywood face in that come and go business. The only reason I even knew that the guy even existed was because of a particular review in an old issue of VARIETY that I chanced upon back in the mid-eighties while doing some musical research on the early, pre-documented New York City rock scene days. In typical "while looking for other things" fashion I happened upon a review of a gig Kelly did with his backing band Toivo at CBGB during the spring of 1975, written by VARIETY's chronicler of New York rock affairs Fred Kirby. Twas a writeup which made Kelly/Toivo out to be an act that in some ways seemed totally incongruous with the rising tide of punkism overtaking the city at the time yet on the other hand pretty plugged into some strange mid-seventies underground rock mindset that probably rivaled what many other groups were attempting and maybe even succeeding with, on a much larger scale (and budget) of course.
Kirby described Kelly/Toivo (which is Finnish for "hope" though whether this is the reasoning behind why the group chose this name I do not know) as a "folk-rock" outfit whose leader "showed promise". At this gig they opened with excerpts from something called "The Moorlock Suite", an instrumental where not only did Kelly and a certain Pamela Paluzzi don space helmets (as part of some dance exercise one would think) but somehow or other this particular suite was supposed to be "a probable opener for the fall Emerson Lake and Palmer tour"! Makes me wonder whether it was pegged to be performed by ELP, or if Toivo were slated to open for the three dinos during this barnstorming prog rock excursion but this late in the game I guess we'll never know! Kirby isn't quite clear about this, but he gave great kudos not only to Kelly and his singer/songwriting efforts (as well as made mention of his acoustic guitar playing) but to Toivo, a group including Danny Seidenberg on electric viola and upright piano, John Caruso on bass guitar and Mike Epstein on drums. From the looks of it, Kelly/Toivo seemed like yet another one of those under-the-covers New York City rock groups that had the talent and chops to pull off their particular brand of music, but as usual were going to be washed away in a tide of acts with more shock value and dynamic energy going for 'em, with a ton of gimmicks to help 'em break on into the big time of course.
(And speaking of an upright piano...was there one of 'em stationed at CBGB that a variety of groups were using in lieu of their own gear back then? I ask because of the many reviews I have read from the '74/'75 season at CB's there were a number of bands using an upright in their stage presentations which in retrospect would seem strange for such a "hard rock" club. Besides Toivo I can recall that the Movies, Stingrays, Emilio Cubiero/Edwin's Hot Little Band and perhaps a few others had members playing uprights, so either there was an upright piano trend at CB's or bands used the house's instead of lugging their own set of 88's around. If anyone knows the truth, feel free to keep me in the dark as usual!)
Not that I hate gimmicks and in fact I like 'em, especially if said gimmick is tuned into my personal sense of cheap thrills and rockism aesthetic. But face it, from the looks of it Kelly and Toivo weren't exactly what people were expecting when they thought of New York Rock, and although the group did continue on in fact headlining a few nights at CBGB with the Vanessa Vickers Duo featuring Television drummer Billy Ficca performing with the noted cabaret transvestite pianist (special guest Elda Stiletto on vocals), not to mention an appearance at the infamous CBGB Summer Festival that August, soon Kelly and Toivo vanished from sight, perhaps actually washed aside by the made rush of publicity that the Ramones, Blondie and their minions were getting. Maybe they just split up with members getting real life jobs in or out of music. At least Kelly's post-Toivo career is noted, and I wouldn't be surprised if the rest had played in a variety of underground groups for many years after this mid-seventies brief burst of fame courtesy Kirby and his writeup.
Flash forward to the dull present we know as the early-21st century, and yeah I know that stranger things have happened but what should appear on the scene a good thirty-four/five years after the fact is this Cee-Dee from none other than Kelly himself! Talk about unexpected surprises because I'm sure that if anyone out there was curious enough to want to hear the man it would be me but yeah, there is a disque available that not only features Kelly on some recent recordings but vintage Toivo tracks as well! I mean who woulda believed it, but since groups like the Miamis, Just Water and Rags have archival material readily available now why not Kelly even if there certainly ain't as big an underground hotcha market for this as there would be for, say, a Manster exhumation!
Why Kelly would want to resume his musical "career" at this time is questionable, though I kinda get the feeling that he's suffering from late-fifties crisis and like all of those guys who were in a variety of 60s/70s groups wants to re-live old glories before he gets too geriatric. Maybe not, but it is nice that the man for whatever reason bought all of this new and interesting gear (including mandolin, ukelele, frame drum and computer instruments) and made some recordings that actually sound pleasing enough in a mid-seventies underground fashion. Kelly comes off somewhat like a mixture of solo John Lennon, early Tim Buckley, Tyrannosaurus Rex and Brian Sands who should be well-known in this company but isn't because you all had to ignore his brilliant records in the face of some rather pallid and cheap imitations. Writing is sometimes pretty good...a lot better than the Joni Mitchell that seems to get dragged up when describing Kelly and not surprisingly pretty durn good if not that dissimilar to some of the newer folky rock that I used to espy via internet at the CB's 313 Gallery, the stage that Toivo would definitely have been playing if they traipsed across the lower Manhattan environs a good quarter-century later. Kinda slow burn and slightly-intense like a good number of those flashes who graced CBGB's "alternate space" were, and I should admit that when Kelly plays the ukelele and mandolin he does dredge up comparisons to that fabled yodeling astrologer, Mij!
The live (soundboard) tracks recorded at Reno Sweeney's show that Toivo might have gone somewhere if fate had worked a little more in Kelly's favor and perhaps less in Billy Joel's (maybe Kelly was a smarter, grittier NYC antithesis to what Joel was dishing out in the early-seventies, or at least I could never see Kelly turning into an Amerigan Elton John if you know what I mean). Brownie pts. go the the guy for writing yet another song with a Max's Kansas City ref. ("Cupid and the Champ at Max's") which not only has a nice bit of grit to it but a good electric viola solo courtesy Seidenberg which ain't Cale-esque but fits in well like a good psychedelic guitar line with its nice deep and rich tone. Followup "Apologia" ain't that hot and in fact is a bit twee despite some nice lyrical twists and performance, but it's OK. I can't see how Fred Kirby would consider it to be the highlight of the show he reviewed, but then again he was coming at rock from a different perspective than most of us which did make him all the more interesting. "Phillipe Petit" seems even more set in a mid-seventies pop rock mode which makes me think that Kelly could have made a few bucks selling his tunes to some of the hitmongers of the day. Nice but not exactly attention grabbing enough for me.
The following two numbers were taken from a May '75 CBGB gig and considering the quality I wonder why. Actually I know the reason Kelly stuck these on...y'see, now that CBGB has attained this legendary status in mainstream rock circles it's about as hip to say you were "there" as it was to say you were at Newport and didn't boo electric Dylan! Kelly actually overdubbed fresh new vocals over these tracks which results in a strange effect, especially when his new singing and the old don't quite sync resulting in a bizarrely incongruous echo-y pseudo-reverb. "Lautrec In Mudlight" and "Fly Your Kite" remind me of the woefully few better moments of seventies Lennon, at least when the former moptop still seemed to have a snatch of songwriting spirit in him that wasn't washed away by his jadedness at having done it all only to become one of the biggest hasbeens of the day. More cello-esque viola playing coutesy Seidenberg gives the song a nice maudlin feeling with pertinent mid-seventies pop moves you've heard from a variety of biggies, and it sounds good enough in the hands of these relative unknowns as well.
Closing out the disque is a traditional Irish number called "Sally Gardens" with Kelly on a mandolin singing lyrics that might sound pretty familiar to you, since Peter Laughner had set the same buncha words (which he attributed to noted Irish brownshirt William Butler Yeats) to a melody he called "Old Song Re-Sung" with brilliant results. I gotta say that I prefer Laughner's version but that don't mean Kelly's ain't worth lending ear to. It's an ESP-folky, authentic sounding ditty that actually makes a nice cap on an album that despite its various ups and downs shows another side to that still incredibly under-documented era of seventies underground rock which held a lot of promise and toivo (hope) for rock & roll music in general back during those best and worst of times. A definite must-get for seventies NYC scene scholars, and hey the rest of us just might be able to milk a little enjoyment out of it as well.
Posted by Christopher Stigliano at 6:21 AM
Saturday, July 04, 2009
AND A GLORIOUS FOURTH UP YOURS TOO!
Happy July 4th! Hope you'll have as good a time as I will when I celebrate a good ol' traditional Independence Day only a few short hours from now! Yes, In keeping with this aforementioned traditional day o' freedom all I'm gonna do today is play nothing but a smattering of independent singles from the early-eighties, each one personally approved by Robert Christgau, before attending the ceremonial burning of King George III in Effigy. That's a small town just south of here, and boy do we have a good time roasting some ol' pooperoo we dress up to look like the eventually to be maddened piece of royalty.
Keeping the above joke swiped from an old issue of MAD outta it, here's an abbreviated (meaning I use a lotta shortened words) edition of today's post which I just managed to "crank out" before the festivities begin. I hope you'll like enough not to murder me, and we wouldn't want that to happen now, would we? And don't worry, It'll be back to normalcy come next week, ah guarantees ya that!
***Monti Rock III-"For Days and Days"/"Trouble" 45 rpm (Mercury)
All hail Monti Rock III! I mean it. True, I thought his first Disco Tex and His Sex-O-Lettes album was a turd in a handbasket but the fact that Dave E of Electric Eels fame actually defended the guy against Miriam Linna's naysaying must account for something (see Miriam's mandatory KICKSVILLE 66 blog for the nitty-gritty details straight from the typewriter of the former Eel himself!) plus knowing that none other than Brian Sands had his singles proudly emblazoned upon his ROCK MARKETPLACE want list has gotta account for something at least w/regards to Rock's standing with the seventies Cleveland Underground! And yeah he had a small role in that disco diarrhea extravaganza SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER but who could forget all of those whacked-out and downright surreal appearances on THE TONIGHT SHOW where he came off as the most famous nobody since Peter Lemongello, blurring the distinction between reality and late-seventies hipster parody straight out of FERNWOOD TONIGHT! Or even stranger howzbout Rock popping up in this early MERV GRIFFIN clip sitting next to Jayne Mansfield and her chihuahua (much more famous for his pic in HOLLYWOOD BABYLON than for his appearance here) that goes to show you just how outta control television could have been even in the hands of such able professionals:
And hey, were you name-checked on the Le Stelle di Mario Schfano album along with the Velvet Underground and Pink Floyd? I didn't think so either!
So what else can I say about this guy who went everywhere and did everything with everybody and only managed one hit record! Well, too bad his early stuff like this '66 vintage Mercury single didn't make the grade because it really is a wild rocker complete with snotty chick background singers and hotcha singing that really puts to shame all of those sixties prettyboy idols who were doing the same thing (in a vastly inferior fashion) and getting regular jobs on WHERE THE ACTION IS for their efforts. At least Rock could shake things up (as the above clip would indicate) and for being a "teen idol" it coulda been a lot worse, like Steve Alaimo worse if you get my drift. And if I had a daughter I wouldn't mind her going on a date with Rock. At least I could be sure nothing would happen!
BOOTLEG OF THE WEEK!: The Cramps-CBGB'S (TMOQ)
Last week's Ramones double-LP live set on the Korneyfone label was one example of a reincarnated bootleg label catering to the once-verboten punk contingent, and this one from the equally-reincarnated Trade Mark of Quality is yet another. And for being a Cramps album documenting the group's early days when fame if not fortune was just around the corner well...I can't think of a better document'n this unless you count that 45 rpm boot of "Hurricane Fighter Plane" that was making the rounds a couple decades back. Sound is very good for an audience tape (this is probably from the Charles Ackers collection from which many a New York rarity has cometh) and the performance is soo-perb showing Lux and friends starting to get into the groove and tighten up a bit presenting a very solid show that somehow bridged late-fifties electric rockabilly, mid-sixties basement rock crank and seventies underground rock credo.
The flatter audience recording actually helps the proceedings, kinda in the same way that listening to a Moxie EP of surf music kinda reminds me of being some geek six-year-old in 1961 playing my imaginary older brother's singles collection before hitting the tee-vee for a good round of afternoon kiddie programming. Lux is in fine form while the dual guitar lineup of Bryan Gregory and Ivy Whatzername sounds almost as good as Link Wray's next door neighbor. And izzat Miriam Linna on the drums? I dunno because I think I actually heard a drum roll in there somewhere! Whaddeva this is one record (recorded June '77) from the days which I never wanted to end, at least on a high energy musical level that is (as far as my own personal turmoils and utter shame goes, they coulda ended day one!).
Posted by Christopher Stigliano at 9:15 AM
Wednesday, July 01, 2009
Brian Eno-THE BBC SESSIONS 1974-1976 CD (Il Cane Lento, Giacomo Leopardi, 26, 95127 Catania, Italy)
It may seem strange that I would be reviewing this "grey area" Italian bootleg in the middle of the week especially whilst in the midst of my weekend run of "classic" boot reviews, but considering that this particular job just might be semi-kosher if you pick it up on the streets of ol' Wopadagoland I felt that breaking my very own rule especially this once would be hokay. Besides, I had nuttin' else to write about other than some old moldies hanging around so why not? Eno actually cooks hot mid-seventies Velvet worship on the Winkies tracks which do have a nice primal pounce to 'em that really does come close to '75-vintage Television (check out his cover of "Fever" which reminds me of the Outsets' take and even tops the McCoys!). However, the 801 numbers even with Phil Manzanara trying to make it all sound like the old Roxy Music with Eno at the helm, still have that late-seventies sterile English art rock approach to 'em that might bring back less-exciting import bin memories but won't give you cause to heave. As a special bonus, the bootleggers actually stuck on a couple single-only sides that are hard to find on legit CD even to this day, mainly the slightly-satisfying version of "Wimoweh" as well as Eno's scabrous punk-scronker "Seven Deadly Finns" which is probably better known for Craig Bell's review in CREEM's "Rock-A-Rama" column than for the record itself!
Posted by Christopher Stigliano at 5:18 PM