Saturday, June 05, 2010


It looks as if the summer season's finally in full-flung gear as we speak thunderstorms and all, and as you already know by now SUMMER MEANS FUN! So expect less and less posts from me while I enjoy the great outdoors like any good red-blooded Amerigan kvetch and spend less and less time huddled around my stinky computer in my stinky boudoir cranking out these pithy posts for you. After all, even a fearless blogger such as myself has to commune with nature and get my inner child gyroscope rotating at proper velocity in order to become the complete human that I so strive to be.

And if you believe that hippie jargon flowing from my keypad then you certainly don't have a BLOG TO COMM sense of humor!

All funnin' aside, I'll bet you're glad that I managed to scrape together this "one for the archives" post even though nothing totally earth-shattering or life-changing has been happening these past few. Haven't had that much free time due to the weather and Salt Mines, but at least in those evening hours I can settle back and relax a while as the music gracefully flows from my chairside boomer thus soothing the savage boobies, a good way of preparing them for a nice eight hours of solid (hah!) sleep. Haven't had the opportunity to spin any of the plastic longplayers I recently got via FORCED EXPOSURE, but I have been osmosing not only old faveraves but newies, opinions of which I will be sharing for you if you'd only bear with me for awhile.

If you really must know, I had been heading into this weekend feeling lower than Anastasia Pantsios' titties for a variety of reasons (most notably the low cal diet my doctor put me on which is zapping my unrevitalized life energy forces, no Reichian he), but a couple of soo-prise soo-prises did cheer me up to the point of virtual (at least as much as I can hope for in 2010) ecstasy. The greatest of these epiphanies is most definitely the discovery I made regarding a number of rare and downloadable tracks recorded by none other than the infamous proto-punk band Death! This bunch ain't the Detroit rockers who have been getting the critical rah-rah's o'er the past year or so but that very same group from Milwaukee that had none other than one James Chance, then known as "Dr. Sax", doing the Steve Mackay thingie towards the end of one of their ultra-few sets back in the way pre-Contortions days! Ya gotta admit this is the only reason anybody would care to remember Death this far down the line, since these guys were analogous to the rumpus that was going on in Cleveland and elsewhere in the early/mid-seventies midwest, an "occurrence" which spawned a whole slew of late-seventies underground stars who still seem to light up the lives of hopeless post-adolescents such as I. And given Death's primitive sub-Green Fuz sounding approach to the whole Velvets/Stooges underground homage of the day these recordings fit smack dab in the middle of anybody's pre-punk primer and certainly will satisfy even the stodgiest amongst us for, well, you can get 'em for practically nothing, y'know?

Group history is kinda sketchy, but gathering from a number of sources including the link above and the recent Clinton Heylin book reviewed earlier, Death lasted from '71 until roughly '76 in a variety of formations with the only constants being vocalist/growler Brian Koulnik (going under the stage handle "Sterling Silver"), rhythm guitarist Chuck Meyer and Fender Rhodes-master Jack Stewart, a tinkler whose stylings sound slightly similar to those of Bob Sheff during his brief Stooge stay. One source has them playing only one "real" gig opening for Dr. John (the others being parties and various local frat hoots) while another (the boffo-like 70s Invasion linked up on the left) says that a single with the hotcha numbuh "Depression" on the a-side was actually released in all its low-fi glory, something which should get a number of you flea market hounds in the Milwaukee area scoring the bins this weekend ravaging through piles of scratchy Andy Williams singles galore! And to add some special oompah to the group's moniker, shortly after Death broke up Koulnik/Silver was either murdered or committed suicide so take all of that and make what you will (other'n that when James Chance finally hit En Why he thought that his former group coulda whipped 99% of the groups he was coming across on the local scene which oughta say something about Death's sting!).

The '71 date given for these recordings is slightly fishy considering that the Modern Lovers' "Roadrunner" is reportedly being mulched through during the snippet of "Sister Ray", though the '73 date that the folks at '70s Invasion slapped on the "Depression" single does "seem" closer in time to when these various rehearsal tracks extant were laid down. Whatever, for all of the Flintstones glory exuded these recordings are pretty much a godsend, showing Death to be working a good Electric Eels/Umela Hmota/Figures of Light/RAW POWER-era Stooges cross that was perhaps a few years away from "coming of age" but still manages to enthrall ln these definitely anti-punkism times. Definitely the "find" of the year, and with the proto-punk high energy digs becoming rarer and rarer as time rolls on stuff like this is what I would call like, essential.

So what else has been interesting me as of late anyway? Not much, though I must admit that I have been doing an inordinate amount of reading and youtube scrounging on none other than George Lincoln Rockwell, a guy who seems to be fascinating me the same way that Charles Manson lit the collective asses of a number of misguided seventies teenagers (y'know, the ones who made him one of the most popular icons of that decade much to Ann Landers' dismay) or Andy Warhol loads of effeminate high school geeks for that matter. 's funny, but I never really knew about the Cult of Rockwell until I was practically preached to him incessantly by two people out there in BTC-land whose names I will not mention if they keep paying me off (one who is of Jewish extraction and whose mother in fact spent some time in one of Adolf's camps) who say that yeah, the guy was atrocious and all, but he had some good points. (The rationale the Jewish member of the Rockwell Fan Club gave for liking him was that Rockwell claimed that if he got into power he'd only exterminate the unpatriotic Jews and since this particular guy's a true blue flag waver he had nothing to worry about!) As to all this well, I could say that many people whom I might loathe have been right twice a day just like a broken clock, but that doesn't mean that I'm going to be slappin' on some swastika and goosestepping my way into your bunker 'r anything! As far as despicable people go, at least this Rockwell guy sure made for an interesting diversion, at least from the usual despicable people that I've been reading about for quite some time, ifyaknowaddamean...

The Youtube offerings I've been perusing are mostly of an audio variety with a few snapshots tossed in to keep your eyes a-tinglin'. Amateur stuff, but enough to give you a good taste of what this guy was rabble rousing about back when he was standing out like a sore middle finger amidst all the love-one-another philosophy going on. Most of these vids were posted by admirers and other pseudo-nazi types which only goes to show you that if you're trolling in the internet there's no telling what view or soapbox you might come across! (And gee, but does it give me hope that when I pass on to the big record shop inna sky some maladjusted nuts will be keeping my memory alive!)

The most interesting offering here, at least for me, was the excerpt taken from none other than Joe Pyne's radio show ca. '64 where Rockwell shows off his oratory skills and pretty much dominates the show keeping Pyne more or less in line (and perhaps intimidated, hopefully not spellbound). And if Rockwell could get a guy like Pyne, he the inspiration for everyone from Morton Downey Jr. to Michael Savage and Mark Levin, to shut up the way he did I guess Rockwell certainly learned a thing or two in speech class!

Any response to the above, especially from the "usual suspects", is going to be predictable but hey, let it come on. Anyone who can't even read between the lines can tell that I'm not saying that I love the guy; I'm just observing him from a distance without having any of the prejudices of a David Duke or SPLC blurring my view. In all, Rockwell is on the same level of disdain as a Jerry Rubin or Diana Oughton, a fact which I know get all of you tweedy intellectual readers cackling like a bunch of indignant hens (hee!).
And now, for the serious portion of our program...


The second disque from the recent ugEXPLODE pacakge to grace mine ears. Weasel Walter appears playing some weird-looking six-stringed bass guitar while a coupla of guys with names that would raise the brows of the INS pop up on drums and guitars and horns and stuff like that. Music ranges from eighties post-no wave stylings (done really hard) to heavy metal jazz all scrunched up inna huge ball with these weird grumbling vocals underneath it all. Throw in a little Iggy ca. FUNHOUSE noise grovel plus some Amon Duul I clang churndrone and I don't blame you if you book yourself in at the Brad Kohler Convalescent Home for a good three year rest. Scarier than a weekend in Dave Lang's hot tub and bound to revolt those with weaker nervous systems. Bad mid-eighties HM cover might fool you, but this ain't the tepid hair pop of the past but something extremely frightening and perhaps downright negative. Engaging and even enveloping to an extent, but frightening!
The Thirteenth Floor Elevators-HEADSTONE (THE CONTACT SESSIONS) CD (Charly, UK)

Remember when all we hadda rely on was some shoddy nth-generation bootleg or faded copy of the Elevators? Well thank goodniz that nowadays they're actually issuing these Texas psychodockic rarities digitally mastered and in fancy booklet covers with pix galore! It's nice that Roky is finally getting the royal treatment and he's worth it, not only because a whole lotta people from Billy Gibbons to Michael Stipe are singing the praises of Roky's psychotic prowess but because the guy's a SURVIVOR well beyond the cliched mainstream rock definition of the term which always tended to make heroes out of the likes of those guys from Journey and REO Speedwagon!

Most of this is familiar territory, but it's sure great listening to these early-'66 rumblings sounding so pristine for once! I'm not what you'd call an audiophile by any stretch of the imagination as my review of the Death numbers above will tell ya, but it's good to know that Charly gave this package the utmost care and handling. And it's also pleasant hearing some of that bogus "live" album here w/o the manic screaming obliterating just about everything in sight.

The first album material sounds wonderful in its original state without the murk of the Radar reissue I so lusted after for months until I finally broke down and bought the thing for a whopping $9.99 back in the very early days of 1980. And the alternate takes with the obligatory ear-perking differences will really knock collective socks offa those of us listening in for nigh on forty years!

Who could forget those tantalizing extra tracks both of a studio and live nature? I was particularly struck by the live rendition of the Animals' classic "We Gotta Get Out Of This Place" with Roky taking that song into his own special web of abnormal psych. Really, who woulda thought this stuff'd ever get released back when NUGGETS was first hipping a generation of punks that they weren't the first ones.

Now I dunno how much of this stuff is on that ten-CD Elevators collection that came out last year, and actually I don't really care since I'll never be able to afford that massive collection no matter how many aluminum soda cans I cash in. But this package does satisfy my Roky cravings at least for now, and with the informative booklet and nice hardbound packaging it might just tickle your tootsies too!

Finally on today's upsettathon's this recent arrival at BTC headquarters, the latest installment in Norton's Bobby Fuller series highlighting even more rarities from the rising upstart whose career was, as the old saying goes, tragically cut short under circumstances that would look suspicious even to Heap O'Calorie. Nice snap on the cover showing Bobby trying to ape the British Invasion looks with long hair, but other'n that there's very little English influence on the entire Fuller oeuvre as his entire sound and style is something that would have developed and matured the way it did even if the Beatles and their minions hadn't made it big over here inna mid sixties!

Twenny-eight winners here, with a lotta different versions of the hits like "I Fought The Law" and that all-time rouser "Let Her Dance" as well as the expected covers they threw in to placate the bozos inna audience. Two versions of Eddie Cochran's "Nervous Breakdown" pop up as do a whole piledriver load of wonders both old and new to my ears which truly make the Bobby Fuller legacy even more potent as the days roll on and music gets worser and worser (if you can believe that!). Fine liner notes from Miriam Linna, a name that rings a bell somehow. In all a set of recordings that work wonders for your mid-sixties sense of propriety, and good enough to make you forget John Cougar Mellencamp's feeble attempts at trying to keep Fuller's legacy alive in his own cheap music.


Anonymous said...

Just so no one misses it, the
comments section of the Death page
gives this link to a James Chance

Serena WmS. Burroughs said...

Re: "No Mor Musik" didn't mention Keshavan Maslak by name, but I think one of my last gigs in New York before I moved back to Cle was a duo with Chris Nelson of The Scene Is Now at The Saint, a little basement club that John Zorn booked (not the big disco), on a bill with Kenny "Keshavan Maslak" Millions, Detroit's Ukrainian community's biggest contribution to the jazz world. There are some interesting clips of the No Mor Musik guys online, and some brand-new ones of Weasel Walter's combo Cellular Chaos as well (on YT and Vimeo). I hope you had a good D-Day...

darwin layne said...

Those Death guys sure remind me of somebody, I just can't put my finger on it but I sure like it.