Saturday, August 29, 2009


Yeah, I am surprised too. Not by the fact that the last surviving Kennedy brother has died, but by the fact that nobody did it in for him through the skull or chest. I mean, I honestly thought there would have been some copycat criminal all these years on the gun for Ted, but when it came down to the end it was an extremely non-violent one. But although a violent end did not come to Ted, the premature death would only come just to the woman he would be driving around with which only means that the oft-mentioned "Kennedy Curse" works in some pretty strange ways.

With that happy note in mind, here are a few platters that have inspired me to at least tell you hungry reg'lars all about 'em if only to show you how boring and miserable one's life has become if he has to stoop so low as to hafta listen to this dross! Maybe you can learn a two or thing about 'em in the process...after all why should my agony go unrewarded?

Sylvester and the Hot Band-BAZAAR LP (Blue Thumb)

I'm pairin' both of these albums up for a number of what I would consider good enough reasons, or at least good enough using my superior standards of judging recordings whether they be by their covers or perhaps even the music enclosed therein. First off both of these platters were recorded by acts that one might consider to be "under-the-covers" as in way outside what was considered the "mainstream" at the times they were released (them mid-seventies late-Nixon/pre-Carter/Ford-era y'know days). Both of 'em were made by young and upstartin' types o' aggros as well who had what you might say an "alternative" kind of audience that wasn't quite being "represented" on the radio dial AM or FM, unless you were perhaps able to pick up WBAI in between some John Cage experiment and a buncha loonybins ranting on about the coming revolution. Both acts even played that watering-hole for the New Kultur Max's Kansas City which I guess would mean something to you readers who still hold your bound editions of THE NEW YORK ROCKER near and dear to your hearts. And probably most important, both Sylvester and the Nightshade were the kinda people who would be vying for the front cover spot on a three-dollar bill, the former an actual AIDS casualty if you need any more proof of the matter!

The first album up for scrutiny is by none other than Sylvester, the former Cockette who eventually battled it out with Donna Summer for the "Queen of Disco" throne in the late-seventies before succumbing to that dreaded disease right at the height of AIDS-chic, making me wonder if his passing was nothing but a smart career move of the utmost. However, somewhere in between all this Sylvester actually led his own little "Hot Band" which from what I've read (in an old ROCKTOBER of all places!) was an act that actually made a few ambisexual waves during those gender confused times! I wonder if the term "Hot Band" is code for gay, because during the mid-seventies famed deca-poet Emilio Cubiero (later of Hot Lunch, Wiseguy and the Cinema of Transgression) was performing with Edwin's Hot Little Band and everyone knows what a fag he is! Anyway, Sylvester and this Hot Band, despite the gay overtones and overtures for that matter, actually put out a nice li'l ol' homo of an album with BAZAAR, a disc that despite reeking seventies decadence and boogie smarm actually holds a lotta entertaining value, and even for a repressed middle-aged bubbling boil of a fatfarm baldie just like you!

Naturally I bought this album not only out of curiosity but to see if I could get a few good laffs outta it and show you just how oh-so-cutting and smart I can be writing this up, but even with the faux Tina Turner moves and patented cabaret appeal this thing can rock out when it wants to which is a surprise esp. for a future Queen of Disco type. Heck, I even gotta give credit to Sylvester and band for taking a walking piece of Sominex like James Taylor's "Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight" and turning it into a particularly hot raver of a piece, and who'd'a thunk that I'd ever say that about anything related to the infamous heroin-schtick guy anyway!

A good portion of BAZAAR is actually kinda nice in a seventies post-nostalgia soul/rock sorta way, and Sylvester's interesting warble backed by an all-white funky rock group does make for a nice change of pace that doesn't necessarily make you wanna run and upchuck like so many similar-minded mid-seventies items can. Now I doubt that I'd ever wanna listen to this again and BAZAAR ain't exactly what you'd call a BLOG TO COMM high energy top spin, but playing at "rock critic" me has gotta say that even with the obv. nods to everyone from Diana Ross to Bessie Smith this sure didn't rot on the turntable like a whole load of those eighties "alternative rock" items that sped their way to my door did. And hey, I think I woulda gotten a kick outta seein' Sylvester and the HB performing live at the deca-beergarden of my choice! Just as long as I avoided the men's room...

As far as the Deadly Nightshade go, I actually recall this trio of hotshot feminist folksters getting some national attention via a prime time special that I vaguely recall had to do with the prospects of struggling artists making the Big Time. Definitely one of those early Reality Series tee-vee shows that obviously led to a whole slew of similar minded efforts in recent years. Don't recall how these three females fared (I think they flopped out first round), but I guess that would be expected from what BACKDOOR MAN called "a shit-kicking feminist band" or something to that effect (and don't get me wrong...they meant it in jest!). As you would expect, within a few years of this release the Nightshade eventually fizzled out to the point where they even ended up recording a disco version of the old MARY HARTMAN MARY HARTMAN theme song, and really, was there any real potential (commercial or otherwise) for a group whose entire reason for existing seemed to be as an arm of the MS. magazine editorial policy and nothing else???

MS. do get thanked on the back cover along with WBAI and all of the women of the world who have to suffer because they are women and men hate them for being their true selves blah blah retch, but I won't let that color my review of this. I will let the rotten music and unengaging performance color it, of course. It's not just that the music on this debut is bad, but it's some of the worst pastiches of "patented hipster jive watermark" sounds that I've heard in a long time, with the Nightshade not knowing whether they want to be country chicks, rocksters or just plain mad at the world. The lyric subject matter naturally brings the entire shebang down even a few more notches, it being the fodder that was oh-so-relevant during the early and middle portion of the seventies but seemed so bland and passe once women got their reproductive rights and equal pay and the feminist movement was pretty much revealed to be nothing but a buncha dykes on the hunt for unsuspecting fresh beaver.

You get country jive here and AM sudzy pop there with a little of what I guess is forties nostalgia at its most unbearable...I mean, these gals would've been kicked off PRAIRIE HOME COMPANION for being too obvious which is really saying something considering what an inbred Swedish hack Garrison Keillor is! Couple this slick processed cheese with some of Feminism's Greatest Cliches about how dreadful it is looking nice for your hubby (a song called "Nose Job", which in no way did I think was a cover of the MAD TWISTS ROCK 'N' ROLL fave) and marriage as a dead end and other fantasies from the fever dreams of Gloria Steinem and what have you got but a record that along with the Dory Previn songbook woulda made for a nice college workshop and nothing else. I mean, who else outside of the feminist sweatstains and sagging tits crowd would wanna buy this thing...Norman Lear???

The strangest thing about this Nightshade abomination is that, besides being one of the premier signings to the very short-lived Phantom record label (also home to Leslie West and his GREAT FATSBY album) is that the entire shebang was produced by none other than Felix Cavaliere of Rascals and subsequent floppy solo career fame! Now I've heard of race traitors, but sex traitors is something that I must admit comes to mind right about now, and for even daring to associate with the Nightshade I'm sure the one-time white soul boy has had his rocks chopped off and mounted on Bella Abzug's fireplace mantle a loooong time ago! So that's how he hits those high notes!
TUNNELS WITH PERCY JONES CD (Buckyball, plentifully available via ebay auctions)

Naw, I didn't get this because I'm particularly a fan of the British new jazz (I'm not) nor because of group leader/bassist Jones' appearance with Phil Collins on those various Brand X albums (heard their first one ages ago and they didn't tingle me especially at the time when such tinglin' was ripe!) but because I used to see this group's name (with Jones of course featured as being ex-Brand X just so's someone would turn up to see 'em!) listed on a variety of late-eighties/early-nineties CBGB ads in the back pages of THE VILLAGE VOICE and figured that maybe they were yet another one of those spiffy yet unheard underground bands that have played that and many other local haunts since the mid-seventies. Naturally these Tunnels guys were no Manster or Toivo for that matter, but they were still a pretty enveloping, even engaging if uneven bunch that I guess could be just as obscuro interesting as the rest, even if Jones certainly had a pedigree that lasted way back to the mid-sixties and the likes of Scaffold and other Liverpudlian aggregates that seem about as far removed from lower Manhattan jazz rock as Dave Lang is from traditional sexual mores.

Jones leads an rather interesting and unique bunch in Tunnels, with a Van Manakas on standard "look how hot I can play!" jazz guitar, Fred Katz on drums and Marc Wagnon on midi vibes fillin' out the roster. That last slice of instrumentation is a peculiar piece of instrumental workmanship...if you would, imagine a synthesizer that is played like a vibraphone and can sound like either one for that matter. Actually the midi vibes play a big part in Tunnels, coloring the music and adding their own electronic sorta "ambiance" to the standard guitar/bass/drums structure. Even though I usually tend to hate the more moderne instruments to come out of the electronic realm ever since everything from kazoos to fluteaphones were being synthesized, I gotta admit I like these vibes esp. in the context of a group playing in the post-underground punkfunk scene in late-eighties New York where ya gotta admit a lotta worse things have happened.

Musically Tunnels much of the time seem to perform what I'd consider rather non-threatening, commercial and downright icky late-eighties jazz (the kind so bad that you heard it all over PBS), but right when you're just about to rip this one off of the laser launching pad Tunnels comes up with some hard and grating music that reminds me of what Material were able to do in the early-eighties, at least until Bill Laswell started to branch out into all corners of the jazz/funk spectrum. Maybe I like Tunnels because when they do stretch out they do so without offending my own personal (and some may say limited) musical ideals. Maybe Tunnels seem to be a ready-enough end-all as far as what New York avant-jazz-influenced underground rock was to have been. Maybe I'm just a bored doofus as usual and find these guys a handy enough group that breaks the boredom and acts as a good background for reading old PLASTIC MAN comics in the evening. My moolah is definitely on the latter.

Not that Tunnels are instantly-disposable jazzbos, since they sure know how to do the rock-cum-jazz thing a whole lot better'n a lotta similar-minded ozobs who cluttered the seventies on with works that may have seemed like stunning breakthroughs but came off like the most grandiose progressive rock of the day with a bitta fusion tossed in to please the DOWN BEAT gang. If this ever becomes a modern day cutout it will be worth the $2.99 you'll have to pay for it at the flea market of your choice. Until then, just latch onto a copy via ebay which seems to be flooded with this particular disc as well as other releases from Jones and crew who I guess are more than just another under-the-cover CBGB band like I thought if the reams of info on them via the internet (as well as the myriad asst. of videos via youtube) is any indication.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Claude Delcloo/Arthur Jones-AFRICANASIA CD-R burn (originally issued on BYG-Actuel)

Another one from the Bill Shute burn file, a surprisingly obscure enough rip taken from what I guess is an actual BYG release considering the horrid pressing and skips to he beard therein. But we never let such little trivialities shake us to our very core, have we? An as-yet-unreissued rarity featuring Frog drummer Delcloo and Amerigan expat Jones leading the standard BYG stable (Jarman, Mitchell, Terroade, Thornton, Favors...) through a heavily Africanized session featuring loads of percussion and an appealing enough funky groove that ain't exactly "Soul Masouka" but it'll do. Delcloo bangs drums and Jones (also the star of his own BYG album a year or so later) plays auto sax while Jarman, Mitchell and Terroade play nothing but their flutes throughout the pieces while Thornton, Favors and Earl Freeman clang and bang a number of percussives giving this session the extra-spooky feel. Naturally a session like this w/o bass and with all of those flutes and congas isn't gonna sound like your average Newport Light Jazz offering but it still is surprisingly engaging especially when the flutes return to this nice simple refrain that comes off a whole lot more "world music" than your standard mix 'n match serious musician. Downright pleasing in fact, especially when it stirs the soul, and maybe slices and dices a few innards while it's at it. I'm sure there are rips of this easily enough available all around...I found a neat blog called 9 Grey Chairs (linked up on the left) that claims to have not only this but a whole load of avant garde wonders rare and not-so available for a mere click, but I wasn't able to find out exactly where these downloads are to be found. I guess that's what I get for being such a doof in computer class!

Saturday, August 22, 2009


Frank Zappa-PIGS AND REPUGNANCE bootleg CD (Flashback World Productions, Italy); THE STRING QUARTET bootleg CD (Flashback World Productions, Italy); PIGS 'N' REPUGNANT bootleg 2-CD set (Vulture Records, Italy)

For a concise explanation of my (thankfully brief) teenage infatuation with Zappa click here, and if you happen to still be interested in the entire Mothers of Invention shuck and jive act this far down the line (like I am during downtime periods in my life) maybe you should seek out these particular CD's which were issued during the second Golden Age of bootlegs in the early/mid-nineties. With their professional-looking covers, good pressings (for a change) and vastly improved sound quality, these boots sure typified the "coming of age" of an industry that continues to fight on despite horrific odds, even though at this point in time it seems as if nobody, especially the Music Industry itself, cares whether these things exist or not with all of the file sharing and disque-burning one can engage in these days.

The first of today's batch is entitled PIGS AND REPUGNANCE and purports to contain recordings from the Mothers' legendary stay at the Garrick Theatre in '67 during a run which saw the allegedly similar-minded Fugs as the opening act. Personally I'd rather wanna lend ear to the Fugs' portion of the program but until that one materializes maybe I should make do with this nicety which surprisingly enough doesn't annoy as much as these Zappa discs can do at times. Going ever so far as to prove that they have "nullis prenti", the Mothers romp through a whole load of satisfactory improvisations in between plugging the latest single "Beg Leg Emma" and tracks from the first two albums. The early version of "King Kong" (here entitled "King Kong Variations") does capture that proto-fusion aspect of the group even with Roy Estrada doing falsetto moans somewhere in the midsection (I guess you hadda be there to appreciate the satire). After "Status Back Baby" fades out after a good 48 seconds we're treated to yet another take of "King Kong" live in Germany 9/28/68 which I guess is a good way to pad out a running short disque and a whole lot better'n having one of those 20-minute boot platters like the kind even the bigger labels like Chapter One would dish out at us unsuspecting musique junkies back in those pre-internet file sharing days.

Flashback, the same people who gave us PIGS AND REPUGNANCE, also gave us THE STRING QUARTET which was taken from a gig recorded live in Fullerton California. The UNCLE MEAT group is in full-force on this one which starts off with a cover of Andre Williams' "Bacon Fat" of all things (this being long before Williams' comeback on underground hipster terms) and a medley of themes from UNCLE MEAT entitled "The String Quartet" which sound rather pale next to the actual album but what else is new. The doo-wop weeper "Valerie" which later ended up on the BURNT WEENIE SANDWICH album even materializes, and if I'm not mistaken the unfortunately named "Aybe Sea" (also from BWS) appears somewhere in the jam. Even Bizarre-labelmate Wild Man Fischer pops up rather unexpectedly, and he's so good you don't mind that Zappa was using him as part of his patented "look how outrageous we are Middle America!" freak show one bit. The entire shebang ends with a particularly entertaining half-hour rendition of "King Kong" (a definite highlight of this set), and this performance, one which despite the usual goofs and gaffes you've come to expect from the Mothers, is a pretty honest sampling of what the group was doing live uninhibited by Zappa's usual overdubbing and total obliteration of entire passages/performances, control freak that he was.

Closing out today's Zappa soiree's the twofer PIGS 'N' REPUGNANT which, not surprisingly, has nothing to do with the similarly titled bootleg mentioned above. However it does have plenty to do with THE STRING QUARTET since a good portion was taken from the same show, along with tracks laid down in Appleton Wisconsin and somewhere in Europe if the liner credits can be believed. Whatever it is it's a decent enough, at least for me, collection of late-sixties Mothers that's probably enhanced because Zappa does not run off at the mouth like he is wont to do on way too many live recordings that I've heard. PIGS 'N' REPUGNANT includes personal faves "Eric Dolphy Memorial Barbeque" and even more of Zappa's homages to the early-sixties jazz avant garde, and even with the usual elongated jazz influx this admittedly does digest better'n the dross the original Mothers eventually led to. Biggest surprise comes on disque #2 where the Euro recordings show up...after a so-so version of "Help I'm a Rock" what should appear but this totally abstract number that is supposed to be "Return of the Son of the Monster Magnet" but sounds more or less like some forgotten avant garde jazz soundscape recorded by a group led by Marcel Duchamp sometime in 1928! Even stranger is that none other than Don Cherry is supposed to appear on this track, making me wonder if in fact he was a member of the Mothers at this time and if so...why?

BRAIN LAPSE #2 (an actual modern-day fanzine, available here)

Well, it claims to be an actual fanzine and even says it is one on the masthead, but man-oh-man does BRAIN LAPSE look like a gen-you-whine professional mag sans the usual bar code to these eyes! And the, I can't remember being this excited since the early-eighties when I'd pick up issues of BOMP and KICKS and read 'em in rapt wonderment sending off orders to various m.o. bizzez just so's I could at least get the most vital and important releases from those great six-oh and moderne-day energetic groups that seemed to make up the pulsebeat for my very own existence. OK, I'm not that excited over BRAIN LAPSE and perhaps could find a few faults with it if I really wanted to be a nitpicking tight-sphinctored rock critic kinda guy like Jay Hinman thinks I am, but I won't. But it still is a much-anticipated doozy that you can tell a whole load of hard work and effort was poured into, and given the virtual dearth of high energy reading these days (at least in print form) why should I complain? Along with UGLY THINGS and a few others publications, BRAIN LAPSE is a top-notch fanzine (yeah, I guess I do mean it!) that is a more-than-halfway-decent attempt at telling you and me, the unsuspecting reader, about groups and films and books that we should know about and the who whats'n whys behind the music in ways VH1'll never come up with in a millyun years!

Of course it may seem price-y to you...after all $11.99 for 80-some pages might not exactly seem like a bargain, but once you get your mitts on this glossy-paper read and glom the in-depth pieces on The Equals (complete with an Eddy Grant interview), the Marbles (interviewed as well), the Orbits, French underground rock, Japanese popsters Carol and the Titan Records story you'll be the one thinking you got the better end of the bargain! Imagine that Power Pop issue of BOMP magnified tenfold and you'll get an idea just how thrill-chill BRAIN LAPSE can get. The only thing missing are all of those ads for Bomp Mailorder and the Golden Disc like you used to see all over the place back in the Good Ol' Days of Sixties Fanzine Revivalism.

Besides the major interviews and articles on the above artists there are the as-to-be-expected music writeups, though 'stead of the usual rundown of current Cee-Dee releases and books that you would expect from a magazine such as this only old singles, beat-up paperbacks, fanzines and discontinued VCR tapes of early-eighties vintage teensploitation films are slapped upon the chopping block! It's always refreshing to know that someone else besides me might care a few whits for an old issue of THE SHAKIN' STREET GAZETTE as well as the Downliners Sect as F.U.2., and what's even better is that they wrote about it all and decided to sell it to us in a glossy read for twelve bucks a pop!

However, I must admit that there was one eentsy-weentsy thing in this ish of BRAIN LAPSE that didn't quite digest well with me, and contrary to what I wrote about "nitpicking" in the first paragraph of this review I really must bring this up in order to, er, rectify things if only a tad bit. Y'see, in an otherwise excellent mention of that one-sheet issue of THE PIG PAPER where none other than Edgar Breau raves on in his own humble style about the Kinks (which was reprinted in the now op BLACK TO COMM #22), the particular writer in question (named Jeff Green in case you want to give him a piece of yer addled mind!) slyly berated Our Hero's political beliefs and aspirations by quoting what I thought was one of the most poignant segments of the article as an indication of the "roots" of Breau's obviously non-progressive thought processes. Y'know, the part where the outspoken if softspoken leader of Simply Saucer mentions how he likes things that are "old" and writers like Dorothy Sayers and how mankind went wrong long ago (all honest and truthful statements to be sure), and this critic, chortling to himself and to his supposedly beknighted readership, actually added insult to injury by ending his piece with the exclamation "nuts!" as if to say that true, Edgar is a smart guy and wrote a stirring piece regarding the Kinks but man is he a Neanderthal anti-progressive jerk unlike enlightened me!

Now I could go on a reverso-riff about how strange it would seem if some writer screeded on about a certain artist's left wing beliefs by quoting some downright radical rant ending that writeup with "nuts!" but that would be useless, going over the heads of namby-pamby purebreds who just can't see the railroad ties in their own eyes while spotting specs in others. And maybe I am making mountains out of molehills by even pointing this out but I feel it imperative to mention that this comment regarding Breau and his own credo (and not just because I enjoy the guy's music and have been in contact with him on more than a few occasions) was a shameful yet typical jibe that just reeks cultural elite "above it all" snoot that is seen all-too-often in the world these days! (Just read Maureen Dowd or Paul Krugman for two sorry examples.) Once you get down to brass tacks, this admittedly small "crack" was only a step or two removed from the vastly accepted beliefs held by the upper-crust scions of the early twentieth century who were all in favor of eugenics and in its most brutal form (you know, "three generations of idiots is more than enough", not forgetting the gas chambers of Nevada which were the breeding grounds for Things to Come) at least until ol' A. Hitler took their dream to its most logical conclusion and these people had to go scrambling to hide their treacherous roots even though they did keep their original value system firmly intact. You know..."oh look at those peasants out there...aren't we oh so more REFINED?????" Sheesh. Now it's not like I have anything against the guy who wrote this admittedly rave review and I don't think he has any great qualms he was directing against Breau but in this day and age we better stand up to even these seemingly slight charges lest anyone think we AGREE with them!

As John Cale would say...enough. Just send your $11.99 to the link above (they take Paypal) and I promise, I won't call or bother you in any other way while you sit in your fart-encrusted bedroom reading BRAIN LAPSE while spinning your Marbles CD for the umpteenth time. (Though I wish they woulda printed that pic of the band standing around that George Cohan monument that was used for the Max's Kansas City Easter 1976 flyer...that one sure looked cool!)
Before I go, here's some Kongress w/Geofrey C/Krozier (I believe) live at Max's Halloween 1976 as well as some other date (same venue) I'm using to fill this pathetic excuse for a post out. Remember to keep pestering Otto von Ruggins to get that CD out before we're all taken off to the booby hatch:

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Well, it looks as if the A-Bones finally have a brand-spanking new album out. And it's a pretty good one too, of course not as good as THE FIGURES OF LIGHT'S SMASH HITS, but then again what is?

But nevertheless it sure is a funtime dilly bar of a disque, proving that after thirty years of recording and live appearances in front of equally-alive audiences world-wide the duo of Billy Miller and Miriam Linna still have it in 'em and refuse to rest on anyone's laurels. Why they would want to go and ruin a laurel bush is beyond me, but lesser people have done much worse.

The A-Bones remain intact after all these years too, and in fact even sport a new member in Ira Kaplan (onetime rock critic and Yo La Tengo leader) on piano, organ, guitar and percussion. I guess this means that Kaplan's previous band is permanently on the skids but that's OK because he only helps fill out the A-Bones sound even more. Besides, I must admit to being lazy enough not to have purchased the last few YLT albums for reasons that should be more than obvious to you, though I did have their earlier platters lined up for play so don't be too harsh on me.

The performance couldn't be better. Really! True lead singer Billy Miller sounds a lot more ragged and smoker-throated than he did in the Zantees plus Miriam Linna's vocal range seems to have dropped a bit making her sound like a teenaged boy right around the time he starts sporting his new upper-lip peach fuzz, but that makes it all the better at least for my own personal sense of post-teenage crud. And the material...whew! Whatta mix of sporty originals written by the band and choice classic covers, and the overall effect is akin to a mad cross-section of the Dictators, Zantees and Fleshtones at their most garage-bandiest playing as if 1979 never ended and Lindsay Hutton somehow took over as tastemonger for a generation replacing ROLLING STONE with THE NEXT BIG THING. Heck, this album even ends with a blatant Dictators riffswipe which might make NOT NOW! the oh-oh's equiv. of GO GIRL CRAZY, and it didn't hurt that one Adny now Andy Shernoff actually wrote a song here dealing with Miss Linna's secret heart-throb Charlie Schmid entitled "Shallow Grave". You remember Schmid, he being Tucson's teenaged terror who was such a pied-piper of abnormal psych cool that he even strung half of the local pubes on to his game and the ones that weren't were high school geeks anyway!

Really, NOT NOW! is a spright li'l number that any true fan of the Big Beat as it was defined in KICKS #1 could relate to, and if it doesn't worm its way into your heart I dunno what's wrong with you. And those Millers, what big hearts they do have...I mean, they even managed to wrangle the legendary Dave "Baby" Cortez into playing organ on the spooky instrumental "Cat Nap"! It's nice to know that someone out there thinks highly of the unemployed!

Sunday, August 16, 2009


Sorry to say that this is the last of my fanzine fanabla roundups, that is unless I can get hold of another source where I can reap some more of these early/mid-seventies artyfacts of the first high energy rock screed strata. For all practical purposes my current source has dried up, at least until the next Great Depression which I think might be a few years away which is good for you, but bad for me and my own personal sense of obsessive collecting. Well, it was fun while it lasted, and since there are still many gaps in my gap-prone fanzine collection I am still on the lookout for everything from such titles as CHUCKLEHEAD'S GAZETTE to NEW AGE so if you have any of these rarities and want to part with 'em for a little bitta money (or some BLACK TO COMM back issues...) you know what to do. But until then, or at least until my copy of BRAIN LAPSE makes its way to my door I'll have to settle with this neat batch of GA rock fanzines that were written at a time when more than a few lunks actually took rock & roll as a cheap suburban form of lowbrow entertainment seriously!

First up on this final fanzine ramble-on is the second issue of a "publication" that is so rare, so obscure and so mythical that there are many people out there who to this day might even deny its very existence! I was kinda skeptical myself at least until this magazine actually made its way to my door, its title being the rather jovial ZOOT which was none other than famous rock critic Nick Tosches' very own rag (hence the mythical nature of the beast) which I guess actually saw at least two issues during its short early-seventies lifespan because this one purports to be number two in the line (notice my keen mathematical sense!). However, whether a number one ever did exist might be open to question, and somehow I think that maybe even Mr. Tosches himself might not remember if it ever came out either!

It's a cute li'l fanzine which because of the one-sided printing and less-than-professional layout some might consider a "crudzine", but content-wise ZOOT was a rather up-to-snuff endeavor that in many ways was atypical of the rock fanzine style of the seventies. Perhaps it was closer to the "genzine" side of things in which the publisher delved into more than one particular subject near and dear to his heart, and as far as for being "varied" goes this #2 really outdoes the other genzines I've chanced upon with a wide array of eye-opening contributions from Ed Sanders (a poem entitled "I'm a Whip Freak"...Tuli Kupferberg sent a note printed on the last page explaining why he couldn't contribute this issue) and Jon Tiven on the history of THE NEW HAVEN ROCK PRESS which I sure coulda used when I was making up my own post on the man and the story behind the mag well over a year ago! Also to be found, Meltzer's "Outer Pumice", pages from Taylor Mead's diary (I poop you not), poems from a Kathy Dorritie whom I think later on became Cherry Vanilla, an interview with A. J. Weberman on garbage collecting and loads more from the likes of Jonathan Eisen of AGE OF ROCK fame amongst others including Tosches himself who scribbled a short story on some handy foolscap and printed it thusly.

The next, "real" issue promised artwork from S. Clay Wilson and Jay Lynch amongst others and what promised to be the first ever complete John Coltrane discography but I don't think that one ever materialized. I mean, ZOOT seems too good to have been allowed to exist in the first place without it spawning more than a couple of issues so I wouldn't go whole hog trying to track that undoubtedly nonexistent issue down!

Here's one that, besides having a pretty long enough lifespan for a fanzine of this nature, also went through a few strange evolutions in that time to confuse even the more studious of fanzine followers. COWABUNGA began life as a fanzine devoted to reviewing other fanzines and with its flimsy colored paper (kinda like that construction paper we used to play with in our kindergarten days) and tendency to fall apart after a few reads this particular rag came off like just about any other fanzine being produced during the day, at least one with a budget the size of a thimble. The "bicentennial" issue was, surprisingly enough, professionally printed with a saddle-stapled blue crinkly cover and impeccable quality, but the following issues were once again cheaply photocopied at least until the new wave era ushered in a new cover scheme and actual professional type to go along with the massive MC5/Sonic's Rendezvous Band coverage. Funny, by this time COWABUNGA seemed to eschew its original mission of covering rock fandom from a fandom point of view, but why should I complain because from beginning to end editor John Koenig put out a pretty durn good magazine that served its purpose well even though I'm sure it got avalanched under the weight of all of the punk as PUnQuE fanzines that seemed to clutter up the scene at the time.

Still, what can I say about a mag, and an issue (#4) that reviewed the then-latest issues of DENIM DELINQUENT, NEW HAVEN ROCK PRESS, THE SHAKIN' STREET GAZETTE and many more, along with the newsstand biggies all in a great talking matter of factly atcha way? Nothing else, which is why my review of COWABUNGA ends right here. And it does.

Howdja like this cover of INITIAL SHOCK #2 anyway? I wonder...just how did they get that photo of a young Dave Lang just moments before having his first true sexual experience (not counting his pinkies) anyway? I'll bet that poor frog was bleeding from here to Perth and back after Dave gave him the good ol' back door treatment! All kidding aside, INITIAL SHOCK is a fanzine that came outta the fertile Bloomington Indiana scene in the seventies, the same scene that gave us such contributions to rock fandom as BEYOND OUR CONTROL, MX-80 Sound, Chinaboise and the Gizmos. I first became aware of this mag after reading a review of the third or so issue in BOMP where Greg Shaw mentioned how this issue went to a tabloid format and featured not only ROLLING STONE-styled record reviews (a bad sign) but an article on obscure punk rock groups of the midwest, something I'd sure as shooting want to know more about than I already do. Don't have this one but at least #2 sure fills the bill with what a fanzine was supposed to be like back in the early-seventies, or shall I say what a fanzine truly was back then at least until the eighties came around and mucked things up seemingly for good.

I mean, what more could you expect from a 'zine that had an interview with Moondog (!), a nice-in-depth history of Love as well as some pretty good record reviews including some from one Mr. Edward Flowers including a writeup of Can's EGE BAMYASI which once again brings up that whole Can as the German Stooges equation that Hot Scott Fischer first brought to our attention in the pages of PHONOGRAPH RECORD MAGAZINE!

Next up is ROLLER READER, a fanzine put out by an Art Schaak which also seemingly had a long enough life itself which is something to take note of especially given how many of these mags seemed to peter out after a good five-issue run as if the spirit duplicator konked out or somethin'. Despite all that, I gotta say that the more SoCal singer/songwriter bent of ROLLER READER kinda turned me off and that there was very little mention of the punk supremacy I and I'm sure you go for. Other than a brief New York Dolls mention (and an OK Blue Oyster Cult piece) there's nada along those lines, though not much else to really bank this magazines underground credo on. Some items, like the Dr. Demento top 100, did make me sit up and take notice at least for a good nanosecond or two.

Hey wow, here's another issue of O. REXTASY for me to burrow into during those lonely evenings when all I have is my bedside boom box and an Amon Duul Cee-Dee to help cry myself to sleep. O. REXTACY was yet another long-lived fanzine venture, and this thick issue (#4) w/ninety-plus pages is a real joy to have and behold giving me the same kinda throb thrills that those BOMP reprints of the early-eighties did for a much younger and even more impressionable kinda upstart geek fan. Gotta admit that I didn't make my way through the Cub Koda interview yet, but I did read about a whole lotta the other items here from Solomon Gruberger's review of the 1974 prime-time and Saturday Morning lineup, Carl Biancucci's article on that new supergroup O. Rex (of which Carl himself was supposed to have taken the Jack Bruce chair, which ultimately went to Kenne Highland!) and loads more. This one also has tons of Biancucci cartoons and artwork which I gotta say really made many an issue of such mags as DENIM DELINQUENT and GULCHER! Nice mock R. Crumb cover and yeah it's printed too light but what's reading a fanzine without a little eyestrain?????

Finally on today's schedule's the "Winter 1974" issue of HEAVY METAL DIGEST. Look closely at the front cover and you'll finally get to see the source of these rare fanzine wonders! Well, this poor soul's loss is my gain I guess, and gain I certainly did with this rare issue featuring none other than fanzine poster boy Iggy Pop on the cover! Wow, it sure is a lot better than that other issue of HEAVY METAL DIGEST I have which actually ran an ad for a Cat Stevens album, something which ROLLIN' ROCK's Ron Weiser chastised DIGEST editor Danny Sugerman for and rightly so!

This fanzine (despite the heavy metal title which would be irrelevant by post-seventies standards anyway) was pretty much in the standard mid-seventies high energy fanzine vein with a good eye on just exactly what was considered heavy metal at the time, complete with loads of punk enthusiasm that would make even an avowed metal hater happy at least for a few pages. An interview with Iggy Pop is the featured item and boy is it a wild ride which tells us a lot of things that you never would have believed in a million years (more on this later), while there's a piece on the New York Dolls by Metal Mike Saunders that's pretty in-tune with where they were at the time as well as an interview with Steven Tyler who says that he is not a punk. I mean we knew that already but it's nice to hear it from the horse's mouth. Jon Tiven clocks in with a good Black Sabbath article and even Lester Bangs gets two pages devoted to record reviews usually spouted off in short Meltzer-esque tossoff sentences filled with typical punk nihilism! There are a lot of Carl Biancucci cartoons devoted to the Stooges and a load of fun is to be had for you if you just happen to come across a copy for your very own. I missed out on this issue when it came out on auction via ebay a few years ago (my bid of $43.96 was bested about midway through the game) so I am sure pleased as punch to have this in my mitts at least during this portion of my life!

Oh, back to I said the gabfest with the World's Forgotten Somethingorother here is pretty engrossing and perhaps just plain ol' gross for that matter, with Ig saying a lotta things that I don't think any of his myriad assortment of fans'd ever'd think he would spout outta his mouf in a million years! Take this juicy morsel of information regarding the early days of the Stooges which reveals an unknown-by-at-least-me tidbit that might knock you for a loop like it did me:

"The music we (the Psychedelic Stooges) used to play was like a cross between ELP & ELO. No kidding. Really, it was. The majestics, not the instruments. I was on organ. It's the truth. It was before we ever went out on stage. It was after I went out and saw all these trashy bands that I said, well, people like the trashy bands, they don't like the good bands so I might as well be trashy. I decided to outdo all those kinda guys I hated at their own game, and I did. And I won. And I liked it!"
If this single paragraph doesn't re-write the entire history of the Stooges, then I guess nothing will!

Well. until next time keep a stiff upper lip, remember to look both ways before crossing the street, never leave home without your American Express Traveler's Checks, and most of all remember to keep your fire insurance current! (Gee, how I love it when bad things happen to bad people!)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Pharoah Sanders-BLACK UNITY LP; THEMBI LP (both on ABC Impulse)

Two from the recent Rick Noll purchase which netted me a whole load of wondrous, drool-inducing goodies that I plan on cluing you readers about once I get some free time to hunker down and listen to this tasty pile. And now that the stench of all of those latterday Pharoah Sanders Cee-Dees has finally been awashed from my system maybe I can dig into some of his earlier triumphs for the Impulse label...y'see, these platter date from the good ol' days back when the high energy fire was still roaring strong and Sanders was creating what Richard Robinson once called "shutter jazz"...yeah, I don't know what that means either but it sure sounds swell.

Both of these albums date from 1970 (albeit THEMBI didn't see the light of day until a year later) and they pretty much continue on the post-Coltrane free jazz continuum that Impulse seemed to be banking their newly-found market on at the time, mainly rock kids who thought this the closest anyone could ever come to the Stooges*. BLACK UNITY is a double sided piece in the tradition of FREE JAZZ and ASCENSION and even if it doesn't have the same vast dimensions of those two it does make for a fairly good enough high energy romp despite the presence of future Return to Forever bassist Stanley Clarke (who admittedly does some good loopy bass riffs here). BLACK UNITY does have its moments of mid-level interplay true but it never offends your own sense of propriety, and when Sanders and company get into that total eruption freeplay they can do no wrong taking the late-sixties new thing into the seventies burn of loft jazz and ultimately r&b funk-punk. If you are an aficionado of those double sided jazz explosions (PEOPLE IN SORROW too!) you definitely will want to lap this one up. One strange thing about BLACK UNITY though is that although recorded in a studio setting there was an audience present who gleefully applauded after it's all over! A nice touch true, but it threw me off for a minute.

THEMBI came next and it definitely is a "wowzer" despite the presence of longtime Sanders band member Lonnie Liston Smith, a laid back jazz bum who definitely helped bring down a lot of the energy Sanders was exuding during the day and was always put to better use recording those feh fruity albums in the seventies we'd never think of buying in a million years. Sheesh, at least I can take Leon Thomas who isn't here and in the company of Smith might have driven THEMBI to new lows even I couldn't imagine. One of those discs that could easily be seen as a crossover between the new jazz and the new rock of the Stooges*, THEMBI does have its (admittedly palatable) moments of jazzbo commercialism but before the Liston Smith cosmic retches can get to you Sanders fortunately takes the album into familiar high energy territory with some walls of massive sound sear straight out of TAUHID. Naturally what this and BLACK UNITY needed was Sonny Sharrock or at least a similar-minded guitarist ready to shred the air with his taught chording, but even without the electricity this one shines through despite being taken from two separate sessions thus ruining the ambiance for stringent jazz snobs.

Both albums do meet up to BTC high energy standards despite any calls to higher karmic whooziz, especially when Sanders gets out of his own peace and love hell and goes into overdrive with some of the greatest atonal rushes to have been laid down in the very-early seventies outside of FUNHOUSE*. A definite musical high mark of the times, and as Wayne McGuire once said one of the few musical acts to transcend notes and sound breaking into a new musical realm along with Coltrane, Lamonte Young, the Stooges*, Velvet Underground and Yoko Ono.
*You might notice a strange fixation I'm having with the early legacy of the Stooges these past few weeks which more or less seem poised as to how the group was perceived during the years when they were still a living and funtioning entity...well at this point in time I prefer to understand these guys from an early-seventies frame when they seemed to be the end-all in abstract/incomprehensible musical terms and not just some excuse for the umpteenth run-through of "I Wanna Be Your Dog"! Thus the concentration on what they meant for o-mind teenage CREEM minions in 1971 and not the future spawn that sorta fizzed out along with everything else once the seventies underground generation seemed to die out, and for good!

Saturday, August 08, 2009


OK pilgrims, here's a mix of a whole buncha goodies I decided to "whip up" for your pleasure this weekend. I will 'fess up to the fact that this is a strange oleo of various beauts that I have chanced upon as of late (hence the title) but I think you might get a kick outta the thing and maybe even learn something in typical Bill Cosby fashion. If not, please unplug your computer and give it a decent burial, and give yourself one as well for I fear nothing will help you!

Before we get into the meat/potatoes I thought I'd cue you into this interesting new site that was pointed out to me called Reverbnation in which you can help yourself to a whole buncha downloads re. a variety of well-respected and award-laden artists for free, a word that always seemed to appeal to me for some strange reason! I normally wouldn't publicize Reverbnation if it weren't for the fact that none other than Otto von Ruggins is utilizing Reverbnation to showcase a variety of old and new recordings of his mostly featuring the dreaded group Kongress! And what a trash and treasure conglomeration this site be, for it consists of a whole slew of rare of seldom-heard tracks by "The Weirdest Show on Earth", some even dating back to the '78-'77 version of the group featuring Von Lmo on the drums as well as the mysterious magician himself, Geofrey Krozier. It's this period of Kongress that got me all hot and bothered, especially with those Can-esque electronic musical interludes which call to mind all of those rants we used to read about those guys being Germany's answer to the Stooges, Velvet Underground and the Rolling Stones at their most scabrous all rolled into one throbbing mess! I'm still trying to figure out how to download these tracks, some of the later ones featuring the late Sky Saxon on vocals, onto disque for my own private pleasure, and when I do compile my own personal Kongress disque neighbors beware!!!! If you ever wanted to give this unheard/underrated group a listen to well here's perhaps your one and only chance because I don't think that double-disc sampler is gonna be comin' our way any day soon!

IMA (Intense Molecular Activity)-NOW AGAIN FOR THE FIRST TIME CD (phOn)

Like I've been saying for the past decade or two, these archival digs sure seem to be coming out at a grand pace, and to that I say "whoopee!" because a lotta the stuff that's coming out in the here and now is about as up to snuff as Chuck Eddy is up to reviving his flagging rockcrit career. Here's one that came out last year but slipped by my radarscope, a release from the duo of Don Hunerberg and Andy Blinx going under the name of IMA (Intense Molecular Activity) who, although playing it pretty under-the-covers during the very-early post-no wave scene in En Why, did manage to release a flexi-disc during their short lifespan as well as make their only live appearance at the famed White Columns "Noisefest" in '81 of which you can hear a track from said appearance on the tape that came out in its wake.

Interesting twosome these IMA guys, who at one time can sound just like any OP magazine "Cassette Culture" electronic noisemakers and at the other a pretty full group playing in some kind of punk rock vein that doesn't make you think instantaneous crank out. Yes it is early-eighties electronic music yet it doesn't fall into that chasm of cutesy and poised. There's still a whole lot of fun and energy here that doesn't come off in that patented pretentious mode that ruined an entire scene, and whether IMA are going for the New York underbelly or just plain bashing it out they never offend your sense of musical propriety. In fact they come off pretty swanky even if a track like "Get Happy" somehow brought back memories of the less-appealing early-eighties Residents (and it is a much better effort than anything the Residents could whip up after 1980 or so)! But then again I have worse memories of the early-eighties to occupy my time so I wouldn't let it bother me. Maybe IMA could be described as an even loopier Cabaret Voltaire? A comparison like that wouldn't hurt them, or their sales for that matter!
Gunter Hampel-QUASIMODO CLUB, BERLIN, 11/08/68 2-CDR set

Who knows where you can get it, but I got mine from Rick Noll after he used this two-Cee Dee burn to entice me into buying a whole slew of albums from him for the whopping total of $100. I couldn't resist the offer, and whaddayaknow but besides getting this tasty set in question along with a buncha platters that'll be up on the chopping block more sooner than later I also got a free Waiting on a Train Cee-Dee as well as a DVD-R dupe of NAKED ANGELS! Talk about bargains, it's almost as good as the time Wally bought that rusted out motor scooter from Tooey for seventy-five cents!

What makes this Hampel side pretty tasty is not only the date, but this renowned reed/vibist's choice of sidemen from Pharoah Sanders, John McLaughlin and Sonny Sharrock (perhaps THE hotcha selling pt. for these sides) backing Hampel up particularly snazz-like. Sound quality is slightly mudsville but still make-it-out enough even if it all seems awash in Hampel's particularly up-front vibraphone. Sharrock plays exceptionally well and even adds slide whistle to the proceedings, and while it's hard for me to distinguish between which is Hampel or Sanders sax-wise (unless the vibes are in the mix) I must marvel at these sides of free rave that really know how to envelop you in their massive walls of moving sound! It's too bad that Sharrock is no longer here to bask in some of the posthumous fame he has garnered and Sanders has been making rather lame albums for the past twentysome years (though the Sharrock/Sanders reunion on ASK THE AGES remains a jazz milestone), at least Hampel is still with us and continues to perform despite being at the age when most men would rather plop in front of the television and watch cartoons. Support him and his Birth label even if his website is pretty useless with regards to obtaining a whole passel of Cee-Dee rarities that I'd sure as shootin' kill for!
Bruce Anderson-THE INHERENT BEAUTY OF HOPELESSNESS CD (no label, available through CD Baby)

As they used to say in the seventies this one was a "mother" to get hold of, but thanks to the efforts of one Lindsay Hutton and another Angel Ross (known as Mrs. Rich Stim to you) I got hold of this solo guitar excursion disque that MX-80 leader Bruce Anderson has just released! Huge thanks goes two the two for going out of their way to send humble me a copy of this rarity, and frankly I'd KISS the two of you for your hard work and efforts in doing so only it wouldn't be hygienic, y'know. I mean, who knows where those people have been...

Having been a fan of Anderson and MX-80 back when they still had the "Sound" tagged onto the end of their moniker I was really excited to hear what this master of heavy metal mongering was up to on his latest avant garde guitar excursion. But what a surprise would await me once I applied said disque to my laser launching pad and heard what but...AN ACOUSTIC GUITAR coming from the speakers of my cheapie Emerson mini-box! I really was, and continue to be, extremely startled and disturbed at hearing Anderson play an acoustic axe because I always had a really strong affinity for Mr. Anderson, not only for his natural guitar abilities but for his adamant refusal to pick up an acoustic guitar throughout his entire life as if it were an evil tool used by the weepier of the seventies introspective folkie brigade! And now I hear the man has picked one up and played the thing after what...sixty years of going nowhere near this instrument! Frankly I am aghast at the KNOWLEDGE that Anderson has gone acoustic, even if it is for this sole solo guitar excursion.

Naturally there are no massive feedback wails and intricate guitar lead lines on this one, but you do get this admittedly beautiful disjointed sound not that all akin to an acoustic O-Type which makes for engaging listening, perhaps something akin to those new avant acoustic guitar players VOLCANIC TONGUE is always hypin' yet I feel insecure enough not to get. I wonder if Bernard Herrmann had dreams like this.

So in all this is a MUST HAVE not only for MX-80 followers but for all of those moderne-day snoots who like adventurous and experimental music but tend to find it only in the safest places imaginable. Could be a contender for the year depending on how it shapes up and dare I say I find it quite beautiful and mesmerizing like the best late-summer music has always been and should remain. But an acoustic guitar? I don't think I'll ever live that one down.
PAPERBACK WRITER, a book by Mark Shipper (Morship Publications, 1977)

Avid followers of the seventies Golden Age of Rock Criticism genre would undoubtedly be familiar with the writings of Mark Shipper, he not only being the creator of FLASH which is perhaps thee definitive early-seventies proto-punk fanzine outside of TEENAGE WASTELAND GAZETTE and DEMIN DELINQUENT, but as a writer (both as a columnist and album reviewer) for PHONOGRAPH RECORD MAGAZINE where his pithy sense of humor must have "put off" a rather large fraction of the readers who were tuning in for reviews of Dory Previn albums. Shipper also jumpstarted the career of the Droogs as well as collaborated with Mike Saunders and Gene Sculatti to create BRAIN DAMAGE, the fanzine that existed only to spoof other fanzines before he pretty much left Saunders and Sculatti to head onto what some would call bigger things (in the music industry one would surmise)! Bur most of all Shipper is the man responsible for writing what is perhaps his magnum opus and crowning achievement, namely this particular hunk of writing prowess going under the moniker of PAPERBACK WRITER, a book which purports to be a written history of the Beatles but reads like the best of Shipper's FLASH/PRM critiques jammed into a totally (but not wholly) facetious history of the Fab Four and what didn't, but more or less could/would have happened had kismet been ever-so-slightly different...

And that's exactly what PAPERBACK WRITER is, the history of the Beatles as told through some of the most distorted funhouse mirrors one would dare come across, and if it's Shipper who's doing the distortion who knows what levels of mirth and merriment one can come upon while reading this book! PAPERBACK WRITER happened to hit the target (target readership/sales) relatively big at the time not only because it was published at the height of "Bring Back The Beatles-mania" (which probably goes to show you just how vapid music had become on the mainstream level) but because within the fastplaying with facts/dates/personalities this book probably tells you more about what rock & roll was and how it played into the whole International Youth Language and hip means of expression game than an entire leather/hidebound collection of ROLLING STONE ever would.

If you thought Shipper was pretty knee-slapping highlarious during his rock criticism days you'll probably head off for rocket roll heaving after reading this pisstake on the Beatles saga which puts similar Beatlespoof endeavors like the Rutles to absolute shame. Facts are given the ol' twisto-changeo to the point where I could easily see one of those "serious" hippie-minded Beatle lovers we still come across here and there rend tie-dye over the abject "blasphemy" of this tome. Kinda like "Strawberry Fields" where nothing is real...Brian Epstein is a plumber who not only discovers the Beatles but gets George Martin to produce them after fixing his leaky faucet. Yoko Ono is a flapjack cook in New York who eventually falls for Mick Jagger and becomes a r&b fanatic in the process before hitting on John years later. George is a devout Christian who leaves the Beatles in a huff after John makes his remarks about the Beatles being bigger than Jesus (after John explains that he meant that the Beatles were actually taller George returns to the fold). Get the drift? And while I'm at it, SGT. PEPPER it turns out was actually a socially conscious effort to get the British Army to use the same grade of pepper for every rank and not just special spices for the higher ups! It may not sound too yuk-inducing when you hear it from me, but Shipper has that special style and verve that'll have you doing a few double takes and cracking up in that great seventies satirical way that seems to have been washed away by too much stodgy seriousness and PC intimidation.

So, it's a comedy book right? True, but like most satire there's a whole lotta truth in PAPERBACK WRITER that is nothing but a nicely veiled indictment against a whole load of blue meanies out there from the record industry, the rockstar mentality and ultimately you and me, the geeks who followed the Beatles and tended to look upon 'em as some wondrous role models and spokesmen for our generation. Well not exactly my generation if you know what I mean, but that generation that spawned fans who saw great prophesies in every Beatle move and utterance as if it were being directly sent to the new youth tribe from You Know Who up there via the vessel of rock music. This kinda mindset gave us every one from Chaz Manson to those loopy older girls I remember from my youth who used to write poems using titles of Beatle songs between making necklaces out of Juicy Fruit wrappers, and for the most part all of 'em could take an intercourse trek through the woods because once you look at it what is the end result of the sixties peace 'n love trip other than a whole bunch of automatons wallowing in human feces at some rock concert?

Actually, I think the book gets into high gear and really delivers on its ultimate message once Shipper gets on from the then-present of the mid-seventies and into the then-uncharted waters of the latter portion of that decade with that Beatles reunion that so many had longed for finally getting off the ground. And yeah, what Shipper tells us """""might""""" have happened and what actually did may seem miles apart, but like in that "Reg Shaw" spoof of "Juke Box Jury" in BRAIN DAMAGE there is so much truth to the heart of it that it does speak loads in the face of an ever-decaying seventies music scene. Y'see, after a good decade of flopping around in their respective solo musical careers the four finally decide to succumb to fan pressure and get back together, and after they sign to Columbia they record their album GET BACK and hit the road to promote it. Unfortunately for them the reviews are dire (the ROLLING STONE spoof written by "Meyer Dindapast", actually once hotshot critic/future disco zombie Ken Barnes, is an excellent example of that entire STONE Jim Dippy mentality that pretty much ruined seventies mainstream rockwriting), the record is rotting on the shelves and a gig at Dodger's Stadium with Peter Frampton headlining and the Sex Pistols opening is pretty much a total disaster at least until they start doing their old material and finally get the crowd hopping and dancing. Then it suddenly dawns on them...the vast majority of Beatles fans did not care about the Beatles for their overall musicianship and what they could offer, but for the warm and fuzzy memories regarding what they once stood for a good fifteen years back. The Beatles had become to the teenagers of the sixties (now the grown up moneymaking consumers) what Bill Haley had become to those of the fifties and Kay Kyser and Sammy Kaye to the forties...a symbol that exists only to remind their aging minions of times they felt were more exciting and entertaining. Realizing that they could not allow themselves to continue on as a nostalgia act playing their hits while ignoring their current endeavors no matter how non-commercial they may be, the Beatles once again decide to disband.

And that's pretty much where this book ends, and on that sad note a whole lot is said not only about the state of music as it was in the seventies (and believe-you-me, it has gotten worse) but the entire flimsy house-on-sand premise which the more hippified adherents to "the sixties" continue to hitch their star to. You know, the more superficial aspects of that decade from which such one-dimensional and vague notions as peace, love, flowers and saving the world sprang which most definitely hid a very dark side that came to the forefront years later, and I don't mean Altamont and such comparatively insignificant occurances. The same people who cried for the Beatles to get back together are the ones who merely yawned when they finally did, and once the Beatles fulfilled their fans' ultimate fantasy one could easily say "the dream is over". Thus the Beatles themselves were reduced to about as much disposable matter as Beatle wigs which sure does say plenty about the entire "baby boom" generation and what they doth wrought.

Weirdest thing about this book is that despite all of the obvious faux Beatles references to be found and the fast and furious playing with the facts, people have fallen for various portions of this book taking its satire and obvious kultur-poking as the real thing! For example I remember a kid who swore that Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme actually released an album entitled SMOKING CIGARETTES AND STARING AT THE CEILING, a reference of which can be found on page 120 in regards to various couples who decided to release full-frontal nude covers in the wake of John and Yoko's infamous WEDDING ALBUM (yeah, it was TWO VIRGINS where the duo decided to bare the hair, but not according to this book!). And hey, even I was "punk'd" way back when after seeing an "alleged" example of Yoko Ono's artwork on page 117 entitled "Milk Bottle In a Blanket of Snow (Aerial View)" which at that tender young age I took as being an actual and neat example of minimalist art on the part of the famous Fluxus member! After all these years I must admit to you readers that I am not proud of the fact that I was so gullible as to take this shoulda-been obvious jibe at Yoko as fact, but I guess that if I could fall for the stories about Robert Christgau being the "dean" of American Rock Critics I could fall for anything! But the oddest backblast from this book has gotta be the REAL LIFE "cover version" of Harrison's contribution to the '79 "comeback" album, a ditty entitled "Disco Jesus" which some enterprising souls actually "covered" as a Gregorian Chant in the early eighties using the lyrics that Shipper had supplied on page 214! As that ol' sayin' goes, you can't make this stuff up!

But Shipper sure made a lot up, and as far as any good discussions of the Beatles and what they meant to the music scene of the sixties and beyond go PAPERBACK WRITER must be included even if it would be only to add a little jolt into the proceedings. In the words of David Keenan, highly recommended.
WEIRD RECORD COLLECTING-ORIENTED DREAM MAYBE YOU CAN INTERPRET!: from part of a larger, even more muddled than the above review dream comes this, my chancing upon a reissue of the early Polydor-era Beatles material on the Vertigo label (!) that was released circa. the mid-seventies! I think this must be some strange after-effect from reading PAPERBACK WRITER given how that book played fast and furious with the facts, but I find this strange enough to warrant a mention on this blog! The cover sported some unique b&w photos of the group in their greaser garb with a stylish design that looked pretty good in a mid-sixties way even if the large Vertigo logo was emblazoned on the upper lefthand corner of the sleeve. (In the dream I did not take the album out of the sleeve so I don't know if it had the "swirl" label. I assume it's a Roger Dean-vintage label anyway so all you collectors calm down!)

Wednesday, August 05, 2009


Or at least these CD-R "burns" he sent me are making me hotter than my dumper after a three-course Mexican meal! Thanks to the graciousness of Mr. Shute, I have been sated tremendously with his filling in of a whole load of gaps in my obviously gap-prone free jazz collection, and if it weren't for the efforts of Mr. Bill who knows what I would be doing on this here blog, like re-reviewing some old dusty record rotting away in the collection or heaven's know what else!!! Here are just two of the most recent listens that I procured from his latest care package!

Ted Curson Quartet-URGE CD-R Burn (Fontana)

I know I wrote about this Ted Curson guy before, at least in the pages of BLACK TO COMM #25 when I reviewed his '64 Arista/Freedom platter entitled TEARS FOR DOLPHY. I didn't care for that one much and I don't exactly think it was because of a comment that Curson made in a DOWN BEAT interview about how he was offered big money to do a disco album and, brave free-thinking soul that he was turned it down only to end up doing a disco album some time before the seventies clocked out for good. (OK, at least that's the way I remember it!) It was just a bland session that didn't click with me, that's all.

This '66 session fares much better with Curson playing especially spry and angular on his trumpet, and his band featuring should-be legendary tenor saxist Booker Ervin do a surprisingly good job trying to approach Albert Ayler-level nova music levels. Dunno about you, but I find this rather inspirational as the quartet takes the prevailing post-bop free sound and decides to get even more into the upcoming late-sixties jazz free fall. Available where all good mp3s are sold, or stolen.
Burton Greene/Daoud Amin-TREES CD-R Burn (Button Nose)

Frankly, this is one of those disques I fear reviewing if only because I might actually slip into frilly ROLLING STONE-speak about its "universal karmic credo" or "ability to transcend the physical and psychological boundaries of culture and civilization in a fashion that truly makes us all one in spirit, mind and kahoutek." You know, real UP WITH PEOPLE caca. And we do not want that to happen, do we? All facetous comments aside, here's another one of those "gee I didn't know it existed" recs which only goes to show you what impeccable tastes this guy has in free jazz blare that doesn't get into low energy fru-fruness.

Greene always has been a mind-gauging enough pianist for me ever since I first heard him scraping the inner strings of his instrument while Patty Waters would puke epiglottal all over "Black is the Color of My True Love's Hair", and his other efforts on and off the ESP label have been ear-bending to say the least. And how could I forget tuning into him during the CBGB Lounge Sunday night Freestyle Music series, one of many such shutter jazz moments in time I certainly would like to re-live, or at least want to have and hold as my very own. Now in his early-seventies, Greene is one of the few survivors of the sixties underground jazz scene still up and functioning and maybe we should all chip in and build a monument to him to show him just how much we like those cluster-y chords he plays, or at least get someone to make a documentary on him that would be a nice change from those horrid pretentious and stilted POV "cutting edge" docs that PBS loves to show all the time.

On this album Greene is joined by a Daoud Amin on bongos and percussion live at the Doelen Alternative Jazz Festival in Rotterdam June of '73. As you'd expect, Greene starts things off in a nice mid-east spells kinda classical style before Amin joins in boppin' and clunkin' like some kid who just heard a Ravi Shankar record and decided to groove on on those wild rhythms found therein. Only this ain't some jokester neophyte but the real thing, and the results are as close to the early ESP spirit as I've had the pleasure of hearing for quite some time.

The album does run a bit short (I tagged it at about a half hour) but it's worth seeking out. If you seek the mp3 jazz blogs like I assume Bill did (but I couldn't), maybe ye shall find.

Sunday, August 02, 2009


Thank God (or Bill Shute, or both) that the drought has ended here at BTC central for I am in the midst of what one would call a bountiful harvest of musical and visual wonders bound to tickle the cranium, amongst other things. Yes, even an upbeat and generally positive person such as myself would admit to the fact that general living conditions and happenings on the kultural front have been rather slow, dark, dank, depressing and other fun-loving adjectives for quite awhile, but with the arrival of a few packages of worth and other witty cliches straight outta some fortune cookie the tide has begun to turn (prior to this the turd had begun to tide!). Now I can remain well and happy and dish out for you a whole slew of fine reviews that I hope will inspire you to greater things as they have me. And what's better is that I have a few other interesting irons in the fire that just might see some fruition once I do a little Sherlockin' and cherce le femme, or at least cherce the group for that matter. Will keep you posted.

Until then chaw down on these recently-procured items that must prove something about these final days of the oh-ohs...what exactly it does prove I do not know but I'm sure if someone will write in and tell me I'll remember to tell you next time.

Scarcity of Tanks-NO ENDOWMENTS LP (Total Life Society, PO Box 6592, Cleveland, OH 44101)

Maybe it shouldn't be so surprising that there are still these late-eighties styled underground longplayers not only being recorded but released on vinyl t'boot, but hey if I just didn't zone back to 1987 after listening to this hard-grate effort that seems to typify the old/new underground a lot more than it does the new/new one. And glory be but they are a Cleveland bunch too featuring not only former Death on a Stick/Ex-Blank-Ex member Andrew Klimek but Chicago practitioner of the new no wave Weasel Walter, who ain't from Cleveland but I guess just happened to be in the neighborhood at the right place/time. (Some of the other names on here do ring a bell, but not being as studied in the whys and wherefores of more recent underground banter I cannot discern who they are or what they might be famous for at least in their own musical sub-spheres.)

Scarcity of Tanks do recall some of the more free sounding acts of the past like Hollow Heyday to name but one, but seem to have more going in their direction (like perhaps the use of free sax courtesy Matthew Wascovich and Don Wenninger). The overall results are a nice bit of cacophony rock that's nothing what I would call out of the ordinary, but sure stir up more rockist tendencies than a lotta the stuff the eighties post-hardcore underground from whence this music was birthed ultimately led to.
Forbes/Tyler/Walter-AMERICAN FREE LP (UgExplode)

I must admit that while I find a good portion of what passes for the newer generaion of punk/underground rock to be a pale imitation of the real 1960s/70s under-the-covers thing, the new avant jazz that I have lent ears to this past decade is just as wild, as feral and as downright tightroping between sanity and utter abandon as the better moments of the movement back in those wild and under-documented late-sixties days/seventies loft days. This effort, which not-so-surprisingly enough also features the likes of Weasel Walter who I think is trying to break the most-appearances-on-an-avant-album-within-the-span-of-a-week record previously set by Jeanne Lee, continues on that brave path to music transforming itself into utter energy (copyright 1968 Wayne McGuire) which as well all know has been in rather short supply for quite a long time. Very maddening indeed...and seriously, I doubt that any of these musicians were thinking about flamingos when they were laying these slabs of 3-D sound down!
The Pyramids-LALIBELA LP (Ikef, PO Box 220426, Chicago IL 60622)

This back-to-Africa free jazz ensemble from Yellow Springs Ohio released three albums on their own Pyramid label back in the mid/late seventies, and whaddya know but all three have been reissued via the small Ikef label out of Chicago. I remember seeing their albums for sale via the New Music Distribution Service catalog and at no time did I think that the bald-headed surf group of yore was making a comeback on the free jazz scene even if I was quite puzzled that these new Pyramids were using the same name as that classic group of "Penetration" fame. Personally I thought it strange in the exact same way that a couple of publishers (including the shoulda-known-better Marvel) had usurped the copyright-lapsed Captain Marvel name at different points in the sixties, but who am I to quibble business savvy-less person that I am. But given all of those eighties/nineties acts who were using classic sixties/seventies band names and feigning ignorance why should I cry over these Pyramids versus the ones of yore anyway?

Like many sixties/seventies black youth of the day there's a hefty affinity with the Motherland to be heard on this platter via the use of African percussion and definitely third world rhythms and attitudes. Throw in some decidedly western instruments like saxophones and electric bass guitar and you got Burundi au go go! The resultant music is a lot more engaging than some of the big Afro chest beatings heard during the day as the group swings into various hot grooves all overlaid with a wall of percussives that goes farther into the African Experience than most dabblers in the form wold have dared travel. And. happy to say, nobody involved with this album contracted leprosy during its making!
Charles Brakeen-RHYTHM X CD-R (Strata East)

This has longtime free-player Brakeen backed by the old Ornette Coleman band including Don Cherry, Charlie Haden and Ed Blackwell. And if yer expectin' it to sound like Jan Garber methinks ya've been hitting the sterno a little more often than ya should! Nothing what you would call over-the-top but it still satisfies like Coleman was always known to and if you want to hear more of it there's always this rarity!
John Cage-WORKS FOR PERCUSSION - QUATUAR HELIOS CD (Wergo, available through Forced Exposure)

Realistic enough interpretations of various early Cage percussion ensemble pieces that I guess sound pretty much like I think even a chance-y person like Cage would have wanted them to, though I must admit that I prefer the original recordings which had a sorta forties/fifties urban sprawl to 'em and didn't seem too beret and stale doritos. This kinda music should prepare you for things like the Beatles' "Revolution 9" and Frank Zappa's "Return of the Son of the Monster Magnet", or izzat the other way around?
Various Artists-ACID DREAMS CD (Past & Present)

Nimble-minded moi actually forgot why I ordered this six-oh collection of garage band (pseudo) rarities in the first place considering how I have about thirty years of such albums just crawling outta my split-in-half mind, but given how often I don't delve into the font of garage rock past these days maybe I latched onto this in order to do a little resensification on my part. True there are a few well-known and perhaps OBVIOUS inclusions from the likes of the Music Machine and Unrelated Segments that can be easily enough found on their own albums (all these years later I might add) and tracks by the Mystic Tide, Beautiful Daze, Stereo Shoestring and Balloon Farm have been comped incessantly to the point of meaninglessness, but it's sure great to have all of these tracks no matter how great or how obscure on one disque just for the handy-dandy availablity of it all. Personal faves include the post-Litter "William" by White Lightning and the Caretakers of Deception's "Cuttin' Grass" which kinda sounds like the lost intersection between the Fleshtones and Vom!
Pink Floyd-GRANNY TAKES A TRIP CD (Wonder Music, Germany)

Here's one for those of you who miss the vinyl bootleg special I had runnin' throughout the spring and earlier part of this summer. As you may or may not already know, many of these early Cee-Dee bootlegs usually come with a "caveat" tag and this one's no exception. Purporting to be a Syd Barrett-period offering this is bound to piss off the early-Floyd contingent with tracks that are either from the latterday post-Barret variation of the band (a "no-no" for Barrett purists) or from easily-enough available legitimate sources, but still it does have such interesting tasties as yet another alternate take of "One Of These Days" from MEDDLE and an "Interstellar Overdrive" variant I haven't heard before, Then again a good portion of GRANNY TAKES A TRIP is taken up by items along the line of "It Would Be So Nice" and "Remember a Day" which hardly warrant inclusion on a bootleg in this day and age. Hefty searching might turn up an all-inclusive collection of rarities for the neophyte and, as Robert Christgoo might say, this is not it.