Saturday, February 13, 2010


Hi. How'm I feeling? Right now pretty washed out. I think you can tell that by reading last week's post as well as most of the ones I've written since November, May 2004 at the earliest. It's an on and off feeling I must admit, but right now that old spark that gets me into blabbing off about a thousand different subjects in as many directions just ain't popping with me. If I were Lester Bangs I could blame it all on excessive amphetamine/romilar usage and living a life of depravity...I wish I could blame it on that but to be honest I can't. Maybe I should just quit doing this blog because it's obvious that nobody is getting anything out of it and what's the use of some hasbeen neverwas popping off about whatever flavor of the week whim hits him upside the head anyway? So that's more, nada, nyet!

OK, that must have been the shortest retirement in blog history. Thanks to all of the fans and followers of BLOG TO COMM who didn't write in pleading with me to keep this monstrosity going. I guess if there's anyone out there who deserves to read this it's you little people, the wee-wee folk who need some big kahuna to guide you throughout your everyday lives and travails and point out exactly where to stick that hard-earned when you hit the local flea markets as well as the on-line emporiums. Well, it's sure good to be back, and I think that twenty-second rest really did me some good y'know...

LIVE SKULL 12-inch EP (artist's label as they used to say)

Not being that huge a fan of the post-no wave groups that came out of the Lower East Side anymore,it is kind of a wonder why I latched onto this '83 debut by local noisemongers Live Skull in the first place. Maybe it was because I wanted to refresh myself as to what the early-eighties underground scene in New York was all about given that this came on the heels of one of the most productive and fertile times in rock & roll. Perhaps I felt like rekindling some of the feelings I may have had towards these groups after reading the pair of no wave books that came out awhile back. Maybe I still felt sorry for Live Skull after famous bigtime rock critic Chuck Eddy referred to them as "Live Tull" during one of his more "lucid" moments of creative writing. And who could forget the way Gerard Cosloy "handled" 'em during their Homestead days crying crocodile tears when they blasted him in the press. (I guess if people can twist certain "facts" about me and get away with it like Mr. Cosloy etc. have maybe I can do the same!) If you must know, actually, it's alla da above.

Still this debut doesn't quite excite me the way that I had hoped, perhaps because of the thin sound (I was probably playing it too low so's I wouldn't disturb the neighbors) or perhaps due to the group's struggling to shed various 1981 new wave cliches and halfheartedly succeeding. I'll admit that this has some on-target riffage lifted from various seventies punk rock watermarks remade/remodeled for a bleak future (which was then...forget about the future future of today!) filtered through what was left of the punk as art scene making for halfway decent entertainment. Thankfully this ain't as pretentious nor as New York snob elitist as I had remembered some of these offerings from the New York decadent scene of the eighties to be. Maybe a few additional spins under the right circumstance will align myself with these hotshot artistes, but right now I find this a more honest attempt at creating an exciting, high energy art rock that just falls a tad short of making a strong mark on my ever-growing musical parameters (whoopee!).

This is one of two Pretty Things "Harvest Heritage" budget releases (the other being the self-explanatory SINGLES A's & B's) that I believe were plopped out to cash in on the group's success at Led Zep's Swan Song label. However, if you were espying this one in the import bins back in the mid-seventies you wouldn't exactly be seeing any bargain prices slapped onto this baby! In fact, I recall chancing upon a particularly tantalizing copy wallowing in the Musicland import section sporting the then-harrowing price of $12.99 on it, way too much for a kid like me to afford at a time when I had to look for the $4.99 price tags on the albums the stores didn't up one dollar on yet! I even remember when I was near those very bins and overheard some older guy and his gal looking at the price on this 'un as he went on in a typically adult, restrained way about how unbelievable these import duties were to the point where this 'un cost a good three or four dollars more than it shoulda. (Hey guy, if that was you who said this and you just happen to be reading this blog, write in and maybe we can get together sometime to discuss overpriced import albums of the seventies...wouldn't that be a mindblower!) Never mind that Rare Earth in the United States was about to reissue this as a budget double with this garish Victorian pseudo-porn cover on way did I want that! I much preferred having the English version with the space-y Pink Floydish sleeve that, as turns out, was actually designed by none other than future Throbbing Gristle member "Sleazy" Pete Christopherson, and why would anyone want the domestic version with this 'un floating about!

Well, now that I'm older and so rich that I can buy out the candy store and give it to the poor just like Eddie Haskell, I finally got the original Harvest Heritage version of this "twofa" into my hairy palms perhaps for the same reason I bought a Tootsietoy I wanted when I was three. Didn't have to pay much for it either because I guess this double-LP set is just lying around in aging hippie collections all over the UK and can be picked up for a mere bag o' shells and yeah, I'm really glad that I have one of these even though it is about 35 years too late for me to fully enjoy the thing like I woulda back then when I was a lot younger and even more impressionable! Now if I could only find a way to wing this copy back to 1975 maybe it would've been for the better lest I bore you with even more insignificant anecdotes from a life I sure wish I coulda lived a whole lot differently than I had.

Naturally (like you wouldn't doubt it after 42 years of existing) SF SORROW remains a psychedelic w/o the patchouli 'n body odor classic. Not having heard it in about twenty years this record sounded totally fresh to me, and I gotta admit I eked a magnum amount of pleasure from it even during the moments when the Things were obviously ripping off SGT. PEPPER ideas like most of the other psychedelic groups both here and abroad. Unlike many of the late-sixties psychedelic acts who took SGT. PEPPER as a cue to get a little too sunshine happyhappy, at least the Things could still produce some jarring, emotive sounds that perhaps owed more to Pink Floyd than to the mop topped brigade. I was particularly surprised at how "Baron Saturday" begins almost like an old Kongress rant with Geofrey Crozier at the helm!

PARACHUTE doesn't fare as well, but sure sounds better than I had remembered with the Things still in their psychedelic period but starting to branch out into the very-late-sixties hard rock that typified their seventies material. Surprisingly enough I actually got a kick hearing 'em use harmonies and admittedly pleasant melodies at one moment while adding some decent hard rock manuevers the next, and even the likes of "The Good Mr. Square" did not offend a terminal balditis like myself (re. the line "he has no hair" which usually reminds me of my days of luscious glory but strangely enough emits no nostalgic feelings of being fur-impaired). Gotta admit that FREEWAY MADNESS which came out three years later didn't quite whet my whistle (or at least I don't think it would given I've only heard a live tape from that period), but after finding PARACHUTE a lot better than I recalled perhaps that one's a go as well? Any readers out there willing to tell me otherwise?
John's Children-THE COMPLETE... 2-CD set (Voiceprint England)

This 'un's about as complete as Dave Lang's cranium because the entire ORGASM album is missing, but since you can find that on another Cee-Dee complete with the "Smashed Blocked" promo vid on CD-Rom I wouldn't complain that much. Y'see, these disques have everything else by this outside-of-time English bunch who'd probably be about as famous as Content Providers had the elf known as Marc not passed through their portals. This 'un's got all the singles, the alternate takes and even the great BBC session which came out on an EP twenty-one smackin' years back (and you know how those get lost in the collection!)...heck even a few of those instrumental backing tracks show up in case you wanna do an Andy Ellison in the privacy of your own bedroom! Can't think of enough good things to say about this group and this release of 2005 origin other'n if you were on the lookout for any previous John's Children archival dig-ups now you can ferget it! Finding a place on my laser launching pad the past five nights, and it might yours too!
New Legion Rock Spectacular-WILD ONES! LP (Spectacular)

Sometimes you just don't know what you haven't got until you got it. That's what the wizened old bald men with the beards who sit on mountain tops always say, and you know that ain't hooey. Here's a group that had made a few small waves in rock & roll circles back in the seventies and I knew that they were "around", but I never bothered to pick up either their album or a single they released about a year afterward. Maybe I thought that the New Legion Rock Spectacular was one of those fifties "revival" groups that were so plentiful when this album was released (1975) and even the supposedly better ones like Flash Cadillac and the Continental Kids never did have a hold on me so like, why should I spend my money on this when there was always a good Abba album waiting right around the corner?

Well, for once I was WRONG because the New Legion Rock Spectacular were a pretty hot hard-edged rock & roll band more on the same lines as the Kama Sutra-era Flamin' Groovies or even that latterday version of the Sonics that nobody except me seemed to care for. None of those flaky pompadours and leather jackets poses for these guys! Speaking of the Groovies the Rock Spectacular (not "Spectators" as they were billed at CBGB!) even recorded two Groovies covers and both were from FLAMINGO which ought to prove to you that when it came to their execution of fifties rock ideals using seventies standards they really knew the right places to draw their energies from!

The songs these guys had the decency to lay down really do fit in with my own sense of midwest toughguy rockism from the earnest covers to the power-packed originals that seem to border on English pub thunkers of the time as well as various hot New York upstarts nobody seems to know about. And really, out of all of the songs the Spectacular included on this high energy spin the only real duff I could find was this track called "Bully of the Bayou", a backwoodsy kinda thing that seemed a little too Fess Parker for my tastes (especially since this was just a Louisiana-bred take on the ol' Jim Croce "Don't Mess Around With Jim"/"Leroy Brown" tough guy torn apart by scrawny guy motif!). The rest ranges from hard-edged fifties music to even some 1965 folk rock and it all goes down so great that you just know that the Spectacular were too good for the record buying populace of the time that was more preoccupied with some of the lamest jive to go down until...well, frankly that jive just keeps goin' on and on. Hopefully I can wrangle a copy of their single (which actually has the Groovies' "Second Cousin" on the flip) which would make for a decent sorta posting as the years drag on and we move further and further from the original bared root of it all.
THE "AND WHILE I'M AT IT" DEPARTMENT: There were at least a few of you who paid attention to my Big Fat Pet Clams From Outer Space writeup a few months back, and amongst those people was none other than the singer for the Big Fat Pet Clams guys himself who actually sent me three offerings of Clam-baked material just to see what I'd wanna do with the things! And brother, are they great releasese that prove that the BFPCFOS were certainly a way better group than all of those New York "effetes" who spent the early-eighties bopping to Madonna at Danceteria would lead you to believe. It must have been refreshing to hear a group like this playing pretty much a seventies underground pop style at the time when they did, when that particular genre had just gone out of style to be replaced by the usual rockmag-driven trendiness. It's a shame that groups like the Clams and others of their ilk, groups who were kind of lost in the eighties because they played music of an earlier stratum, didn't get out or else I'd've had a whole lot more better things to write about during the earlier days of my...ahem..."career".

MY TRUE STORY and O.L.P.B. (I'm afraid to ask what that stands for) really helped me kick up my feet and relax during the evening hours. It's punk-y but not quite punk rock, kind of the style that got stuck somewhere between the 1975 art rock generation and the hard-edged punkers that came after, commercial in some ways yet this would turn off your average "classic rock" fan like a light. Naturally I diggit perhaps because it does woosh around the various categories and makes for a kinda music that isn't trying to make any out-there brash, youthful and precocious statement but just wants to be rock & roll.

While yer on a roll you might wanna try GRAY ON GRAY, the solo album from Clams member Gary Applegate. Frankly this one doesn't jibe as much as the Clams proper (sounding like too much like a bunch of those New Jersey singer/songwriters with the sperm-lined throats) but perhaps if you adjust your mind to more of an Elliot Murphy mindframe rather than a Springsteen one you might be able to ooze the right amount of proper enjoyment outta it. Don't let three Dylan covers scare you...this ain't 1971 James Taylor/Melanie redux nohow!

If you have any interest at all in getting these platters let me clue you in that they're all available via CD Baby and affordable as well!


Anonymous said...

Can you remember at all the finer points of Live Skull slating GC? I must've stopped paying attention by that point...

Christopher said...

Hooo, that was so long ago! I remember Cosloy's supposed shock and surprise at Live Skull's admonishment of him over some I guess not-so-insignificant way he was handling this act. I'd have to pour over my old issues of CONFLICT to find out, but then again that'd mean I'd have to re-live all of the bile and insults that Morris Levy of the alternative heaped upon me back in the eighties.

Marco Reina said...


just discovered your fab blog!

I have a question for you as I noticed an older post that mentioned "Jamz" with a picture of issue number 1.
How many issues did Alan Betrock publish in total?
I have a few and am trying to understand if I have a full set or not.
Thank you!

Christopher said...

As far as I can tell there were five issues of JAMZ, though history might turn up an additional one for all we know like it (supposedly) did CRETINOUS CRETENTIONS.

Marco Reina said...


thank you very much.
Much appreciated!


Anonymous said...

Gosh, ifyou stopped doing this tiresome blog, how would we ever know what time it is?

Christopher said...

I guess there are reasons some commentators wish to remain anonymous.

darwin layne said...


The retirement thing, it never works. Bowie couldn't do it. Ray Davies couldn't do it. Lou won't do it.

But......if you had put the comments up there instead of down here I might have bought it a bit longer than I did of the aforementioned above. Besides, you are one of only three blogs I follow daily (Diarrhea Island and Diary of A Crossword Fiend) so you can't fuck up my trifecta!!

Anonymous said...

well, been following this blog for quite some time now, it has yet to fail of being less than cool and interesting. i think there is a silent majority of ungrateful bastards such as myself, who just remain in the shadows and never come forward to put in their two cents or just saying a plain thank you very much for all the time and effort. but i guess drastic times call for dratic measures, so here, i "took the effort" and actually wrote a comment(yeah right, "oh my and a boo hoo").
hope it's not (way) too little and too late. your hard work is really appreciated around these parts. it's quite hard to go as long without a proper feedbak, but i think that the blogsphere would be alot cooler and interesting if you decide to stick around.

Christopher said...

To everyone who wrote it, let me just say that (in case you didn't know), the above "retirement" of mine was merely a riff on Dave Lang's brief dumping of his "Lexicon Devil" blog last year, only to return to his sordid ways a month or so later. Even though I should have rejoiced at the exit of this blotch on the face of rock fandom/blogging/whatnot, I knew the ineffectual twat would eventually turn up again like a bad canker and sure enough he did, which is but one reason why I refrained from mentioning his exit when in fact I should have been jumping for joy. This post was just my little "commentary" regarding his brief skeedaddlin' and eventual return, only my so-called abandonment lasted a mere few seconds, thus the "joke". Who knows, maybe Lang will get the urge to quit once again and spare us his unbridled enthusiasm for eighties SST recordings perhaps two, maybe three months? The world sure deserves a vacation from his worthless fanboy rants if even for this short an amount of time.