Saturday, June 26, 2010

BLOG TO COMM SURVEYS THE COMPETITION UPDATE!

Well yeah, they are the competition cuz if you ain't reading my bile you're gonna be reading theirs! Anyway, it's been awhile since I've done someting along these lines, and in order to pad this post out a li'l I figured that maybe I should mention something noteworthy on a few of the recent blog additions that've been to the special BTC-approved self-published link-ups you can find over on the left of your screen. As you can see, there have been quite a few blogs of note that have been coming to my attention as of late, and it would be pleasingly punch-y of me to say that each and every one of them are (like the bestest fanzines of yore) worth the time and trouble it would take to read 'em! After all, they have that down-home hits you right where you live way of communicating, talking to you and not at you just like you wished your parents and teachers woulda had they thought of you as being little more than a member of the shock troops for the future generation. Well, that's something Gary Sperrazza wrote when he was reviewing an old issue of TB SHEETS, and it seemed so on-target then so why not recycle it a good thirtysome years later?

Many of you Cleveland underground rock scene followers will recognize the name CENSORED as not only a member of X-Blank-X, Four Rung Jeller, Death on a Stick, Red Dark Sweet (not in that order) and solo star in his own right, but he's also the guy who goes under the name "Serena William Burroughs" (not "A. K. Panda") whose comments on BLOG TO COMM always lighten up the leaden scenery around here. Well, in order to outdo people like myself at my own game it looks as if Mr.CENSORED has created not only one, but THREE blogs all with relatively similar monikers of "Bug Me Later", "Bug Melter" and "bgmltr", and they all have that certain "genesee quah" that gives you a good idea of where this fellow's mind, taste and overall insanity comes from. CENSORED posts everything from youtube vids of avant splurge or perhaps gives some sage advice that some would consider a Zen riddle (but we know better), and whatever this guy does it sure seems OK by me! I kinda like the one where he said he found a DNA tribute band in his sink..."Little Ants"! His tribute to the recently-departed Peter Quaife of Kinks fame was also punch-pleasing, especially since he hadda throw in the Kinks mention from "Life Stinks" into the stew to Clevelandize the thing! If you miss the Pirates Cove and Peter Laughner whipping his gun on the bar, you'll like these blogs.

Now that I got satellite tee-vee I can watch things that I haven't eyeballed in ages. At least once in a blue moon I can view these long-forgotten items because cable, just like broadcast, has settled into its own crevice of tepid sameness that I predicted would permeate this world of ours a good three decades ago. Sheesh, if anybody out there wants to latch onto some really entertaining fifties/sixties programming their best bet would be to live in an area that has one of those low-budget UHF stations like the one I picked up when I was in the Canton area that was running DOBIE GILLIS, ONE STEP BEYOND, IRONSIDE (eh!), MIKE HAMMER (the one with Darren McGavin) and a horror movie slot on Friday nights at eleven (hosted by some chooch-y arrogant Italian couple!) which was running THE MANSTER last time I was there.

But when it comes to tee-vee period the only thing I try to be front and center for nowadays are the old Hanna Barbara cartoons, especially those that were produced during the Golden Era of Television in the very-late to very-early sixties. Now the TOUCHE TURTLE/LIPPY THE LION-period of H-B from around the '62/'63 cusp doesn't really excite me the way you'd think they shold (of course I would be able to judge better if they were only being broadcast somewhere!), but the HUCKLEBERRY HOUND/YOGI BEAR generation of cartoons really seems to be making an impression, probably because those particular titles (as with the rest of the characters that popped up on their shows) zone me back into my pre-school toddler days, a time when I must admit I had the most fun that I ever did as well as suffered the most frightening experiences that one could unfortunately live through without being scarred for LIFE!

Strangely, "back in the day" it wasn't like I was watching these cartoons at all. Or at least I can't remember anxiously awaiting any of the Hanna Barbara titles the way I used to wait for the end of AFTERNOON THEATER for one of the King Features-era POPEYE or BEETLE BAILEY cartoons they'd use to pad the time out. But as we all know the images of Huckleberry and Yogi were so imbedded into the kiddie mindset of the day and really, you couldn't escape their likenesses whether you were going to an amusement park or grocery store. Heck, the two of 'em might as well have been to the fifties/sixties baby boomer kids what Nicolai Lenin and Josef Stalin were to the Soviet Union in the thirties and forties!

I guess this is why YOWP has become a new blog fave of mine, for this 'un (run by the very same hunting dog who used to go "yowp!" in the old Yogi cartoons) details the whole early Hanna Barbara scene with not only interesting enough bios and behind-the-scenes flotsam but even a few in-depth descriptions of specific cartoons complete with Yowp's commentaries regarding the writers, animators and whatever Warner Brothers cartoon they swiped their ideas from! Well, since many of these guys were old hands who were pretty much forced to churn out television animation why not steal from past successes anyway?

Really, YOWP thrills the socks offa a stunted-growth mental midgie like myself with its vast resources as well as ability to download the old stock music that was used on the early, pre-Hoyt Curtin-era cartoons. (Some of which also turned up on the Howdy Doody cartoons and OZZIE AND HARRIET.) And hey, where else would I have learned that the name for the pre-Yakky Doodle duck that was appearing in a variety of Yogi and Mr. Jinx cartoons was going under the name "Biddy Buddy"?

PAPPY'S GOLDEN AGE COMICS BLOGZINE is another new fave, one of those blogs that reprints old comic book stories from the forties and fifties just so's you don't have to dish out $$$$ to buy the originals! Thankfully it's not like they're gonna be reprinting all of the stories that are so popular that even non-fans know what they are, for a good portion of this blog seems to be reprinting some of the ultra-rarites that seeemingly had fallen into the cracks of the general comic book fandom memoriy bin. Loads of what wuz that??? entries and other strange items pop up here, and between PAPPY and THOSE FABULEOUS FIFTIES there's no reason why any of you should have to dish out the megabucks to read a long-forgotten comic book saga again! More Heap please!!!

And finally, you may have noticed an old familiar name listed amongst the blogs on the left, that of none other than DENIZ TEK. Yes, the famed Radio Birdman guitarist has his own blog that's out to destroy all of the sissified rock screeding that is goin' on out there in blogland, and his various posts have been really fun-packtus informative and a joy to read as well proving that rock & roll guitarists can too be literate. And I gotta say that I really do have quite an affinity for Mr. Tek...after the badmouthing at his expense thanks to the guy from Skyhooks and the smear campaigns directed at me by Dave Lang (the one from Coburg, Sphinctoria), Jay Hinman and Ken Shimamoto amongst others the two of us do have something in common dontcha think???

So w/o further self-gratification via airing my martyrdom in public here za reviews:

EARLY WORKS OF SATOSHI SONODA 1977-1978/MEMORIES OF YASUSHI OZAWA CD (PSF Japan)

Other'n the occasional Les Rallizes Denudes spin I gotta admit that I'm not as keen on Japanese underground rock as I had been a good four or so years back, but this one seemed so promising that I just hadda snatch it up into my grubby paws. This album, purportedly a tribute to the late Fushishuta bassist Yasushi Ozawa, consists mostly of early "avant punk" recordings made by sometimes collaborator Satoshi Sonoda in a variety of groups sporting names like Free Music Revolt and Anarkiss that I know really would have appealed to me at the time these were being laid down since my tastes were then veering twixt John Cage, Ornette Coleman and Pere Ubu. Frankly it's a delicate-sounding music which, while retaining all of the underground experimental punkitude of the time, has this reserved politeness that only the Japanese could dare to ooze. Actually, when stacked up against the other experimental rock of the day this holds up rather swell-like. Fans of the TOKYO FLASHBACKS and NIGHT GALLERY series of Japanese u-ground, not to mention any of you who will snatch up tons of rare recordings if there's even at least one former Rallizes member performing, will undoubtedly wanna look into buying this obscurity.

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Arcesia-REACHIN' ARCESIA CD-R burn (Alpha)

Bill Shute must love this album so much because not only did he burn one, but two copies of it for Brad Kohler. Ever the gracious one, Kohler decided to give me his spare just so's I'd be enriched by this "outsider" platter recorded by a former Big Band singer gone acid (!!!) during the ultra-sensitive year of 1971. For those of you who didn't scour the web for info, this Arcesia guy was in reality a John Arcesi, another one of those Eyetalian guys who could sing good and had some success during the Big Band era before fizzling out in the fifties. However, while other members of his generation were doing their darndest to rid their presence of the chaos of the early-seventies by becoming deeply engrossed in thirties/forties nostalgia, Arcesi was re-inventing himself as a rock singer, a pretty strange way for a guy in his mid-fifties to behave in the face of Helen O'Connell pitching Longines Symphonette Big Band collections on UHF-TV.

Hitching up with what must have been the cheeziest local teenage band he could find, Arcesi recorded REACHING ARCESIA, a disc that was pressed up in a quantity of 300 and pretty much faded away until the incredibly strange music people rediscovered him years later. And yeah, this pretty much is what some would call "outsider" music considering the backing band's capable yet faltering playing and Arcesi's strange tenor warble which I'll bet would've gotten the guy laughed off the stage of any rock festival he would dare hope to perform at. Well, I must admit that it is all a bizarre set of affairs, especially considering that this is a well-over thirty member of the establishment trying to turn on and drop out like kids way younger than he is (a fact that I know would have gotten a good portion of my rabid hippie-hating relatives livid with anger knowing that this onetime crooner went over to the OTHER SIDE!!!).

You might find this surprising, but the first person I was reminded of when listening to this platter was Tiny Tim, or at least Arcesi's high-pitched tone reminded me of Mr. Tim's when he would do some of those Nelson Eddy (any relation to Chuck?) impressions on that phony live LP I reviewed sometime back. The backing group, whoever they may be, are competent enough with stylings that remind me of a slightly energetic prom band, or maybe even a toned down Association-cum-Doors. Whatever, their Farfisa-organ driven trackage is more than adequate for Arcesi's bold attempts to bridge the Generation Gap with his relevant paens to expressionistic lyricism.

A good spin actually, and about as entertaining a find as many of these garage band albums that were being self-produced and released straight to the flea market bins back in those rather fuzzy times. If you can't find a flea market near you, this can be found easily enough on the web via FREE DOWNLOADS!!! Rapidshare has it, and other places might have hold of it as well!
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Laura Nyro and Labelle-GONNA TAKE A MIRACLE CD (Columbia)

OK, so maybe Nick Kent's recommendations weren't convincing enough. I mean true, I do listen to what the man has to say even if he is singing the praises of musical acts which I would normally laugh off the face of the earth, but ya gotta admit that his championing of some of those early-seventies Southern Californian singer-songwriter types like Joni Mitchell (OK she's Canadian, but her soul's in the Canyon) really ain't what I would consider a more admirable part of Kent's legacy. But Don Waller...well that's another story since he's a guy whose tastes do seem to veer closer to mine when it comes to music and its place in my sphere even if I don't quite follow his Motown logic the way that I probably should.

As you can tell, I'm not one of those kinda guys who believes that Motown was "The Sound of Young America" even if that was a catchy enough motto...naw, the real sounds were those hot and bothered loud rock groups coming outta the knotty pine basements of suburbia at least until the hippoid replaced the punk somewhere twixt '66/67. But I can still have an appreciation for soul and in fact have developed a nice appreciation for a number of the more "mature", non-screaming Motown numbers that topped the charts throughout the boffo sixties. So yeah, maybe I ain't the horse-blindered narrow gnome that many a "critic" has tried to portray me as in whatever occult attempts they have to besmirch my good and even sanctified name, and you know that's true.

But do I have an appreciation for an entire elpee of Motown covers performed by LAURA NYRO???!?!?! Really, she's not only the personification of the neurosis-laden "talent" oh so common in the early-seventies but she's a dago to boot, and sheesh have I come across many a bitch on wheels as her during my early stool days when I was just surrounded by these human crustaceans from the nation that looks like a boot (they ain't all like Annette!), some of who even looked like her which only adds to the misery! Now Labelle, I don't mind that part of the bargain at least for their hotcha '75 hard soul gal group numbuh "Lady Marmalade" which had many a French Class patron sent to detention for the seemingly safe duty of translating the tantalizing "Voulez vous" line!

But even with an above-average, nay, perhaps best backing vocal group available GONNA TAKE A MIRACLE fails to ignite. True it is better than the shaggy dog Carole King/Roberta Flack inward-bound singer/songwriter musings of the day but that really ain't sayin' much. And even if this soul version of Bowie's PINUPS might seem like a good concept (wop gal from East Coast who wants to be black does black covers with black singers just like those wop boys singing on the street corners) I don't think it quite translates into hotcha listening material no matter how hard I squint my ears. After all, getting a kitten and putting a li'l fur mane on it doesn't make it a lion, and getting some frail li'l introspective singer no matter whether or not people like Peter Laughner liked her and having her do covers of good even if not up my psyche soul classics ain't gonna make her Martha and the Vandellas!

Maybe it's one of those sixties things which affected the generation of rock writers who were of the age where a mature appreciation of the music was fermenting with them via the radio and TV. Naturally that wouldn't work for me since when Motown was in its golden age I thought it was music for the more grown up type of people in their twenties (with the mop top groups being for teenagers and the Sinatra/Dean Martin music for the oldsters)...by the time I was old enough to have an appreciation for teenage pop music forms all that was left was horrid disco musings and this extremely tepid AM music which even I can't categorize which reflected the sappy underbelly of Amerigan living just as bad as the TV movies these songs showed up in. Really, if it weren't for my interests in the free jazz and avant-classical motifs as well as that budding Amerigan underground punkism scene I would have given up on music altogether! But really, all that GONNA TAKE A MIRACLE reminds me of is early-seventies neurotic music that I will admit made good background (radio playing in the other room) for my comic book reading. Maybe if I set the volume really low and dig out my Kree-Skrull War issues of THE AVENGERS???
***
FRONTERA (Majutsu No Niwa)

If the Sonoda Cee-Dee above was the last Japanese underground disque that I have at least a smidgen affinity for, FRONTERA's the last one I believe is just more of the same ol' that has been cluttering up my collection for well over a half-decade. Nothing that surprising here even if the electronic rock and Rallizes-derived guitar spree does engage at times. Still, most of FRONTERA reminds me of the less-settled Japanese rock that's been heard on those various series featuring the bubbling under groups from the Land, pleasant and overpowering, yet nothing out of the dank and depressing Japanese ordinary.

8 comments:

Serena WmS. Burroughs said...

Chris, thanks for the props, but could you take my government name (as the rappers would say) out of this post? I'm not dodging any warrants or judgments, but there are reasons that I use a pen-name (pixel-name?) online.

*********************************

Ha! I had forgotten about Four Rung Jeller...

Serena WmS. Burroughs said...

Also, re: "MIKE HAMMER (the one with Darris McGavin)," don't you mean Darren McGavin?

Serena WmS. Burroughs said...

I'm sorry to keep turning up like a bad penny, but you may be interested to know that many posts on b g m l t r link to videos or articles if you click on the header. I started that blog up to do short-form posts right before I found out about Twitter (which I also post on, but I'm not going to say what the name is there other than to say that it refers to a Factory superstar and a neighborhood in Brooklyn).

Christopher said...

I hope the changes suit your tastes...who's Darris McGavin anyway?

Christopher said...

Famous rockscribe extraordinaire DON WALLER sent me a not he said was too long for the comment box. I decided to make it fit (sorta...see next post for more of the letter):

I've just gotta say that Gonna Take A Miracle LP by Laura Nyro and LaBelle is an odd one, seeing as how it's the only record I've bought three times and gotten rid of twice. The first time, I thought that none of these versions match or surpass the originals. Ditto the second time. The third time was after hearing their version of the Originals' "The Bells" on a Philadephia International boxed-set, where the quality of the vocals just stunned me. Nyro is completely underrated as a "blue-eyed soul singer" and LaBelle was voice-for-
voice the best female vocal group of the '60s/'70s. Patti's an
incredible singer (I have no tolerance for her no-man-alive-can-make-me-leave-the-stage routine that she inflicted on audiences after she finally got her crossover success. Much of that oversouling that became de rigeur in the wake of Jennifer Holiday's "And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going" and later manifested itself in Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey's ballads and just about every episode of "American Idol" can be traced back to Patti, who used to do those all-stops-out versions of standards such as "Over The Rainbow" and "You'll Never Walk Alone" to keep from getting bottled off the stage when they were bottom of the bill ('cause they didn't have hits) on the black theatre circuit.

But really, Patti, Sarah Dash, Nona Hendryx (and don't forget that Cindy Birdsong was an original member of Patti LaBelle & The Bluebelles until she was drafted into the Supremes when Diana Ross went solo), could simply out-sing their competitors.

OK. Small point of fact is that not everything on the LP is a Motown cover. The title track was originally by the Royalettes, "Desiree" was originally a doo-wop thing by the Charts, "The Wind" was originally by the great Nolan Strong & The Diablos, and "I Met Him On Sunday" was originally by the Shirelles.

Christopher said...

DON WALLER part two:

The LP was produced by Philadelphia International owners/writers/ producers Kenny Gamble & Leon Huff. The stripped-down band (aside
from Nyro on piano) is basically the Philly International session
guys. I like the minimalistic approach they take, letting the
vocalists do the heavy lifting, which is somewhat of an anomaly even today, but especially back in the day. It's one of the things that makes a lot of '70s soul tough to listen to 'cause everything gets swathed in cotton-candy floss strings. The idea was to get "sophisticated" and capture the "crossover" (read: white folks)dollars.

I know what you mean about the non-screaming aspects of Motown and soul music in general. Generally not my cuppa java, either. Has to be either a super-strong composition or sport an incredible vocal to surmount the sentimentality.

To me, the best tracks on Gonna Take A Miracle are those where the vocals elevate the material. It's not easy to sing something like
"The Bells," believe me.

Incidentally, back when the Imperial Dogs were calling themselves
White Light, we used to do a version of "I Met Him On A Sunday" a la the Who's "Call Me Lightning" or something off Live At Leeds. All power chords, dynamics, and harmonies used as weapon. Hell, as the Imperial Dogs we did a similar, New York Dolls-inspired take on theAngels' "My Boyfriend's Back." We dropped that kind of stuff from the set 'cause audiences didn't get it and it didn't sit well alongside
our darker material. Heh.

And ... I'm not a big fan of Nyro's other records. She was a good songwriter -- I'm actually in the habit of playing the 45 of the 5th Dimension's version of "Stoned Soul Picnic" at 33 1/3 to make it
funkier. Heh. But I don't own any those other hits ("And When I Die," "Eli's Comin'," "Save The Country," "Wedding Bell Blues") in anyone's versions. Again, just not my cuppa.

These days, I mostly listen to obscure funk 45s ('67-'74), which are much like garage-rock in that there's a zillion of 'em from bandsthat had regular club gigs and only made one rekkid, which of course mostly never got heard beyond whatever city from whence they hailed. What's interesting to me is how good the playing is, the drummers' tend to be monsters and some of the best of these discs have a lot of guitar upfront. The bands are tight, the singers are tough, and the
songs are often as good as any of the hits. It's like the soundtrack to a black parallel universe. It's good stuff.

Christopher said...

Thanks for the comment Don, though after all that I all wanna know is which early funk singles do you recommend...any samplers or colllections of any sort that you can point me towards out there in recordland by any chance???

Bill said...

I do love the Arcesia album. If you play it enough times, it starts to sink in and almost puts you in another world...a world where the neo-Mystic Siva band and Arcesi's "overwrought" vocals make perfect sense. In fact, I like this album so much I am in the midst of writing a poetry chapbook inspired by it, called "Butterfly Mind," named after the acoustic track near the end of the album. I can't explain why, but in a strange way this album reminds me of the film THE WORLD'S GREATEST SINNER...happy 4th of July...