Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Lester Bangs-LIVE AT CBGB 6/12/77 cassette

This 'un came directly from the infamous Charles Ackers collection. You may remember Ackers, he was this guy who had recorded a number of shows on the New York Rock Scene from '77 until about '79 and was sellin' or tradin' dupes of 'em via ads in the likes of TROUSER PRESS and a few sundry other papers that catered to the New York crowd more or less. Some of his tapes actually made it onto bootlegs (the Talking Heads WORKSHOP IMAGE double set and the Devo live at Max's album come to mind) though many remained quite the rarity and remain so even to this day. As for my role in this sordid story...well I recall ordering a number of tapes from Ackers during the spring of '80 only to wait about a good nine or so months for them to arrive (rumor has it that Ackers was a special guest of the government for a short spell), but as soon as I did receive my first package overanxious I jetted off another order (requesting the Mars live at the CBGB Theater 12/27/77 gig amongst other things) only to hear nary a whimper. I still have my money order receipt somewhere in the abode and Charles, if you just happen to read this howzbout sending me my order pronto!!!

Here's but one of the tapes I got (the other being a recording of the original three-piece Talking Heads live at CBGB 1/77...wish someone'd taped the Fans set that opened it) featuring none other than template for an entire generation of bad rock writers (including me) Lester Bangs. Bangs was recorded live at where-else-but CB's in June In The Year Of Our Ig 1977, back when he was breaking out from his rock writer ghetto and dabbling in the not-so-new but daring anyway punk rock realm. And yeah, I will admit that I got hold of this one strictly on NAME RECOGNITION alone given how I along with a few million other outta-the-loopers were readin' his might appealing scribing in the pages of CREEM and elsewhere...I mean, what else would you expect?

Y'see, ever since I was really immersing myself (instead of dabbling) in the whys and wherefores and genetic breakdowns of underground music I developed quite an affinity for the rock writers (pro or otherwise) who had advanced from the printed page to the stage. After all, as Lillian Roxon once said the writers and fans were the real stars once you got down to the bare necessities of it all and seeing the former dabble in the realm of the latter was pretty encouraging if you ask me. Unfortunately Roxon never did have her own band (neither did Mark Jenkins!) but Patti Smith, Lenny Kaye, Miriam Linna, Richard Meltzer, Don Waller, Mick Farren, Nick Kent, Charles Shaar Murray, Mike Snider, Greg Prevost, Adny Shernoff and Jon Tiven did just that so why not Lester Bangs, the guy who pretty much set the pace for the whole idea of rock writer as honored gulcheral icon even if for the most part all of the dimpled doilies who gathered at his feet couldn't stand a note that came outta either him or his various aggregates.

This is Lester with a snat throw-together backing band that artistically and even gosh-it-all aesthetically suits his gulps and hollers to a 't'...Robert Quine and Jody Harris of Contortions fame take on twin guitar duties while post-George Scott Contortion/Chinese Puzzle/Freedomland member David Hofstra handles the bass guitar. Patti Smith's very own Jay Dee Daugherty does the drum doody, and the four of 'em play so spider-y together whether doing Little Milton's "I Feel So Bad" or one of Bangs' original compositions that I'd kinda hope that each of these guys woulda left their "real life" bands and stayed together as one of those off-the-edge and falling down all the way New York groups. Y'know, the ones that seemed to do their best to recreate the panic and tension that the Velvet Underground were creating in that burgh a good decade or so earlier.

Not that Bangs is a slouch, far from that in fact as he bellows from his cavernous self everything from Iggy yelps (on "TV Eye") to off key sentimentality (set opener "In My Room", an original which actually begins with a quote from the Beach Boys hit) and at least to an appreciator of fine sonic mulch like myself it all sounds marvy. Hokay, I know some of you neophytes (and even wizened professional Big City rockcrit types) might be reminded of an over-rambunctious adolescent goofing off for the equally imbalanced kids when listening to Bangs' braggadocio vocalizing, but "personally" I find it about as on-par as many other similar screechers of the day and in fact adding to the overall illusion of knotty pine basement suburban punkitude especially when Bangs tackles the Doors' "Five to One" or even the material eventually to appear on his very own single which sounds way better on this TDK C-60 because it was live and nobody was out there producing it. And hey, where else could you hear Bangs singing "Bonie Maronie" hmmmmmmmm???

Other noteworthies of mention include a paen to the Sex Pistols with the rather witty title "Anarch of the Covenant" as well as this untitled-at-press-time number that's slAnd yeah, how could I leave out yet another newie entitled "I Sold My Body (By The Pound)" that really does soak up this mid-seventies deca-lounge feeling that I'll bet a whole buncha bands in En Why See were just oozing from their pores. Sound's surprisingly high-quality for an audience tape of the day (with a li'l work I'll betcha it could come off almost pro) and although a few low battery squeaks and squeals can be heard on the b-side this remains a solid tape of a solid performance created especially for people like me who have solid heads. The music is so off-kilter at times that this almost ranks as proto-no wave (which would figure given the participants) at times while at others it comes off like...real 1975 CREEM magazine suburban decadent, y'know?

Any chance of a legitimate release of this somewhere down the line?


Karate Boogaloo said...

I sent a link of this to Ed Ward who has forwarded it to Lester's estate. He said they might be interested in doing something with it. Thanks for posting.

Serena WmS. Burroughs said...

Chris, I'm surprised you haven't said anything about Christgau shutting down the Consumer Guide. Maybe he feels like the government's new consumer protection department will handle rating new albums...

Christopher said...

Hey, I haven'r read a word of it in over twenny-five years! Heck, I didn't even know the thing was still going on this late in the lame-ass rock critic game!

Robert Cook said...

I was never a rock writer or rock writer wanna be, but I was a fan of Bang's during his heyday, so I for sure bought his "Let It Blurt" single at Bleecker Bob's on my first visit to NYC in June 1979, (moved here in '81) and then his JOOK SAVAGES ON THE BRAZOS and BIRDLAND albums when they became available later, (the latter album posthumously).

Um...yeah...Lester's singing is a bit affected and labored and really...not good...but he acquits himself as well as have plenty of other vocalists who have performed and recorded rock and roll music over the years, some even who have been popular. The musical backing on all his records is fine fine fine, and serve as the initial and intrinsic attraction to interested listeners.

It's like comic books: a good story with bad art is better than a bad story with good art, (though good story/good art is best!): Lester's records, overall, are worth hearing, and I'm glad I have 'em.

Anonymous said...

Just for your info, Charles Ackers is the guy who owned Venus Records in NYC all those years ago.