Yeah, I guess this is gonna be another one of those lackadaisical flop around posts
...which would be fitting considering how this is the lackadaisical flop around time of year. Yeah Spring, the season which no matter how long ya live will remind you of those glorious days when summer vacation was just around the corner and you were going to have even more time to spend with your closest friends, mainly television, the radio and comic books (none of this "male bondage" for me!). I dunno about you, but when I think of May I always think of things like the upcoming days of freedom (as well as recount the days of nerves studying for final exams) as well as those cool thunderstorms that always used to scare the bejabbers outta me especially when the local tee-vee stations would interrupt my favorite program to tell you about an impending storm with a cracked inverted upside-down slide as a visual. I know it is only a reflection of me, but I sure find things such as sloth and having a mindless, toddler-level appreciation of the culture that surrounded me to be one of my better attributes and don't you ferget it as my hero Quick Draw McGraw would so aptly say.
In order to get autobiographical about it and at least attempt to give this post a homey atmosphere lemme tell you that I just got back from Fishersville Virginia where I not only picked up a stack of old MAD magazines dating from their early-post Kurtzman days when they still had some of the zip to the early-seventies when a lot of the fun was missing* but six cases of Cheerwine which should hold me for a few weeks or at least until I get sick of the stuff. Given the lack of cherry soda in my life these cans are sure gonna help me sate my taste for a carbonated soft drink that ain't a cola/Dr. Pepper, root beer, citrus variation thereof or that weak pale-dry ginger ale stuff that lacks any true potency. But hey (while we're on the subject of carbonated soft drinks), anyone know where I can pick up some celery soda (aka Cel-Ray) here in the Western Pee-Yay area? Even the Kosher section of the supermarket has the Dr. Brown cream and cherry sodas but no celery if you can believe that! I mean, what else can one wash down a pastrami samwich with anyway, and you know that I'm not lying!!!
But as far as musical concerns go the event of the week definitely has gotta be the release of Rhino Handmade's latest repackaging of the debut Stooges album, something which I would probably have declared, had I been born a bitter man, yet another shyster trick to part us fools and our money but in fact might just be the ALL AROUND EVENT OF THE YEAR!. In many ways this certainly is a ripoff for us hard working Stooges fans considering how a vast portion has already been released via normal channels only a short time back, and the packaging ain't anything to do jumping jacks over either! And to add insult to injury the mandatory enclosed booklet reveals nothing especially uplifting with regards to the Stooges legacy (which was much better served back when early-seventies fanzines were raving on about 'em in the face of James Taylor fever), but what makes this item a must mooch has gotta be the inclusion of a few tracks that didn't make the cut last go 'round including the extended romper "Asthma Attack", a track I always assumed was performed once and only once at the fabled MC5/Stooges/Up show which got the first two of 'em signed to Elektra in a mad dash for Jac Holzman to keep up his reputation as one of those enlightened record company heads who was as hip and as swinging as the groups signed to his label!
So obviously enough "Asthma Attack" was recorded in the studio (either that or the revitalized Stooges are playing a typically Stoogian trick on us) giving us curiosity seekers good idea of exactly what these guys were doing live before having to settle into solid song structures that could be "captured" on vinyl. You may have heard that surviving piece of '68 Stooges taken from the Miller brothers' shoot of the Blue Cheer/MC5/Stooges show at the Grande Ballroom (a bit of feedback mania that surprisingly enough never was bootlegged)...well "Asthma Attack" is all that within the confines of a studio and it sure does work well capturing these guys' "avant garde" proclivities, at least more than "We Will Fall" did as the debut's token eclectic track. Believe-you-me, "Asthma" would have been a wiser choice of inclusion on the debut and "Fall"'ve'd done better had it been the legendary unreleased track that us Stooges maniacs were pining to hear all these years!
***Most if not all of my current spins are oldies, no surprise given the lack of high energy archival material making its way to my craniun. And, still as no surprise, the top of the pops this week comes to us courtesy of the Germans, a race smart enough to at least have come up with two of my fave spinners Can and Amon Duul, they of the "I" variety. I guess I'm still under the sway of that ref. in CREEM referring to Can in sainted MC5/Velvet Underground/Stooges mewls of futuristic nervegrind, and for a buncha guy who were born in the thirties (and in their thirties at a time when that was considered to be menopausal!) and who "discovered" rock & roll when it was suddenly the hipster cause du jour Can certainly reflected the maddening energy and insanity of avant rock just as well as some doofs from Paducah who could barely put their admiration for FUNHOUSE into pure atonal expression with Kay brand guitars. I don't care whatcha think, but for me EGE BAMYASI just might be the ultimate expression in early-seventies underground rock moves perhaps even more than (shudder!) RAW POWER (a righteous 1970-'75 choice on anyone's list) and the thing continues to frighten me after a few hundred spins. And yeah, I know that Brian Ritchie's THE BLEND still scares the dickens out of me as well, but in a totally different way!
Also high on the krautscapades is Amon Duul "I"'s DISASTER, a rec that I must admit was one of my top all 'round spins during my senior year in high school (and no, I don't want to know what yours was). Of all of the AD I releases I must admit that this and PARADIESWARTS DUUL are my faves...both have this nice structured feeling, DISASTER steady yet decayed and PARADIESWARTS hippie yet avant punk. But I will confess that DISASTER still has the edge if only for nostalgic purposes. In many ways it reminds me of a jam session held between the Fugs and Velvet Underground, and strangely enough DISASTER is what I envision the Transcendental Simulematic Orchestra, the merging of the Fugs and pre-VU Falling Spikes who played at dances and underground film showings, to have sounded like perhaps with less percussive bash and more guitars of varying qualities but the ideal is there. You can tell where my passions and obsessions lie, that's for sure!
***The Artrocker EP recorded live at the CMJ lovefest which took place at the CBGB Lounge spurred me on to seek out more works by the various acts that appeared at that show...no luck latching onto anything by the Two Tears, but I did get some items by the rest probably because they're not in demand like a good portion of post-indie rock being made these days. And since nobody cares about these bands I can latch onto their recordings pretty cheap which does help out on the ol' pocket book especially in these sorta recession-esque times. INTRODUCING THE DYNAMITE SOUND OF THE FLASH EXPRESS was just one of my boffo Artrocker-related finds, a full-length Cee-Dee platter that surprisingly enough doesn't succumb to postmodern twee tendencies or flashy eighties UK weekly paper flash modes but rocks out, a quality which is still important in case your mind has been introspectively-numbed by too many Cat Stevens albums. The Express play some pretty straight ahead no nonsense rock too which is a surprise especially in these nonsense-filled times with a hard rock approach that ain't cocky and a general sprawl somewhere in-between the Flamin' Groovies ca. '71 and Stiff Records ca. '76. I had some reservations about hearing more Gin Palace numbers after finding some comparisons twist them and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs on some website (me not having cozied up to the even newer than new punk ravings of the oh-ohs which sounded too little too late for the game), but this group could pack a punch even with their vocals/guitar/cymbal-less drumset lineup and they didn't even have to evoke modern-day feminism or pseudo-Marxist rhetoric to get their message across. (The message being rock & roll I guess.) Nothing I'm going to spin daily, but it's nice enough to know that there was rock like this being performed in the past decade that didn't succumb to the worst aspects of the past fifty years of popular music like too much dross. As for the Hells, they're pretty snat as well riding the same level of six-oh update for the post-rock new millennium with nice pick and chooses from everyone from the Stooges to the Shangri-Las. Their self-titled platter's a bit short on the time but it still pleased me enough, in a kinda churlish way.
Hey, maybe next time I will come up with something other than these pale ale ruminations. But I doubt it.
*By the way. Kelly Freas had it over Norman Mingo all hollow!