Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Elliot Murphy-LOST GENERATION/NIGHT LIGHTS 2-CD set (BMG/Camden UK)

Funny, I never would have believed that the "Camden" branch of RCA was still up and running, but judging from this updated "twofa" I guess this noted company's "budget" line (most famous for those cheap-o Elvis soundtrack reissues of the seventies) continues even to this day. Too bad I hadda pay far from budget prices for these slow movers, but I guess I can't have everything at depression-era wage prices!

I really would have preferred that AQUASHOW was packaged with LOST GENERATION (Murphy at his early suburban Dylanest) and NIGHT LIGHTS with JUST A STORY FROM AMERICA (Murphy at his more mature art rock best) but since label logistics wouldn't allow it I guess I'll just have to settle for the guy's two RCA albums the way they're available in the present tense and just shut up!

LOST GENERATION is admittedly my least fave Murphy disc next to AQUASHOW's brash early-seventies suburban teenage pill pop haze, but that doesn't mean I have to hate it. Once again Murphy relies on a number of well-seasoned session men 'stead of his backing group (most of whom I believe left in disgust!) and perhaps because of this there is a lack of warmth which I won't deny. Despite these amputations Murphy fortunately came up with some rather powerful songs that evoke everything from Olde Tyme Hollywood to what I thought was a love song from an aged Adolf in Argentina to Eva but (according to Murphy's booklet notes) was actually a commentary on the fascistic trend in the pop music scene of the day aimed straight at a certain Thin White Somethingorother. True, LOST GENERATION's nothing really that spectacular even in light of the albums Murphy was competing against, but it has a certain swerve to it that just might goosestep its way into mein heart.

'76's NIGHT LIGHTS fares much better even if a good portion of the rock intelligentsia really seemed to go after Murphy with a vengeance once this classic was unleashed. Most of the tracks feature the guy with his late-'75 Boston supergroup that consisted of ex-Modern Lovers Jerry Harrison and Ernie Brooks plus onetime Sidewinders leader Jonathan Paley on drums, and that combination makes for a natural winner with my if not your own personal underground rock plateaus. Murphy and band sound just as current as the groups on the New York Scene not only with the reliance on electronic gadgetry (ARP strings a la the first Max's album) but a strong (Velvet) Underground sense of dynamics and energy. Who woulda thought that Doug Yule, taking a break from ruining whatever of a legacy he might have had with American Flyer, would ever had been this beneficial? (Note how I'm not even mentioning Billy Joel's tough-pose piano on "Deca Dance", a number which I gotta admit grew on me like the skin tags across my eyelids.) As usual, the lyrics can get in the way a bit (Murphy never was as deft in this department as many of his fellow rock poets) but at least they don't get in the way of the energetic rock riffing. Don't miss "Lady Stiletto" which, again according to Murphy, may not be about Patti Smith but I don't buy it for a moment.

I still can't see how just about everyone 'cept BACK DOOR MAN really trounced upon NIGHT LIGHTS, for this has the right mix of mid-seventies punk, panache and general teenage angst w/o the self-mutilation. It's kinda what I was hoping mid-seventies Dylan woulda come off like but hanging around Joan Baez can do things to ya.

One thing about this reissue that's even better is that over half of the NIGHT LIGHTS disque is taken up by outtakes and rough demos which is wonderful in case you're Mister Tight Sphincter and wanna study the development and evolution of such things as album tracks. I like it because you're getting more music for your buckskins even if us peons were never meant to listen to these embryonic takes, plus I think we're mature enough to give it ALL a listen, don't you?

4 comments:

Bill said...

Is this a recent reissue CD, Chris?

UK Camden also has, for anyone who is interested, a wonderful Duane Eddy CD of lesser-known tracks---b-sides and non-hit singles---from Duane's RCA period. It was originally issued as "Boss Guitar" but was reissued as "Greatest Hits," which it really ISN'T. To be sure you're getting the right album (there are many "greatest hits" Eddy cd's), track 1 is Deep In The Heart of Texas, and track 26 is Desert Rat. A great collection!
Here's a link to it:
http://www.duaneeddycircle.com/camden.htm

The Hound said...

A few posts back you mentioned you didn't have any Bo Diddley discs, I suggest you head here and download these as a place to start:
http://rockindaddy2.blogspot.com/

You can hear just how much he influenced the Stones, Velvet Underground and the Stooges amongst others.
I contend these are some of the greatest records ever made.
Still looking for that copy of B. Altman's Punk for you, got about 1/3 of the way through the old mag. pile in the basement so far....if it turns up its yours.

Christopher said...

Gee thanks! I do have Bo's debut in the collection but lack most of the essential ones. I remember reading a review of a Diddley bootleg in KICKS that looked like a winner if only for the snaps of him, the Dutchess and Jerome in space suits showing off their Stonehenge-like teeth. What exactly is there out in Cee-Dee Land that's worth my while and dinero to latch onto anyway?

And hey, how about posting that issue of PUNK for all of us???

The Hound said...

"And hey, how about posting that issue of PUNK for all of us???"

If I ever find the durn thing I'll give it to you and you can post it.
Basically the first five Bo LP's are pretty essential, but one of the best is the live at a frat party in '59 posted on WFMU's Rock'n Ichiban site, you can download it here:
http://www.mediafire.com/?gh4wzwtynmz