Saturday, July 31, 2010


Dunno if it's the summer solstice or a general lack of energy/stimulation on my part, but yer lucky enough that I was able to crank this itty bitty titty committee post out. Yes I have been sloth-like in doing my blog doody this weekend, though maybe I should relay to you (in order to wiggle outta any cries of lethargy on my part) that I have been immersing myself in certain gulcheral matters past which will probably be written up in a larger-than-life post within the month of August. But for now I'm merely coasting on my old batch of Cee-Dees and Dee-Vee-Dee's (the good ol' vinola is taking a rest right now mainly because I'm too lazy to go downstairs to listen to any!) to get me through the current economy drive as well as a few fine items that I hope you'll gain incredible knowledge about after reading the following short but particularly sweet reviews I managed to "whip up" for you...

THE STORY SO FAR (fanzine from date on it but I'd gather late 1980 or so)

One thing I will say about the English (actually British) rock et punk fanzine scene of the late-seventies/early-eighties is that for the most part these rags were spiffily laid out, filled with enthusiasm (or at least as much enthusiasm as one could muster up in the Land o' Green Teeth) and believe-it-or-not but you could even find a few interesting bits of pertinent information previous unbeknown to even the most studious of tight-sphinctered rock fans as well. These fanzines were also written in a pleasing, breezy style and can be read in the wink of an eye unlike many of the more Golden Age fanzines which could engross for nigh on an entire evening. Sure there were a few exceptions like THE NEXT BIG THING which really could captivate the imagination for hours on end, but that 'un was clearly running on Amerigan fanzine impulses which makes it a different ball of haggis altogether.

THE STORY SO FAR's not that different'n the comparative batch of English fanzines of the day, but I will admit that it does have a certain flair about it. Some would want to classify this one as an adherent to the "post punk" (a nauseating and misleading term if there ever was one) credo, but unlike many of the fanzines coming out of that ever-polarizing scene this one has its own charm, charisma and downright smartness about it. And although I couldn't care one whit about the Mo-Dettes after all of the negative pus I've heard about them throughout the years (to the point where I'll probably forsake spinning the FREE FLEXI-DISC enclosed) I gotta admit that it's sure fine reading the interview with 'em which doesn't shed any real light on the situation but hey, better this than suffering through an early-90s Eddie Vedder interview where he airs he neuroses for one and all in the grand tradition of Joni Mitchell!

The editors certainly scored a coup by getting an interview with the Clash even if they were about two years well-past their prime at this point. Ain't gonna fault anybody for that, though I much prefer the gab with Dr. Mix and the Remix (an act I was more than anxious to immerse myself in at the time only the lack of $$$ kept me from picking any of their albums up at the time) and Spizz (of "energy"/"oil" fame) even if they were one act outta many via the Rough Trade cadre that didn't quite flibben my jib but that doesn't mean I have to hate 'em even though for all practical purposes I should!

And to prove that they weren't more of those Ameriga-hating British snobs there's even some Yankee content here via articles on the Cramps and (get this!) the Surfaris, a group you woulda thought was way outside of the realm of early-eighties English musical tastes but who rate a good page of homage so why complain?

Hmmmm, come to think of it THE STORY SO FAR does outrank/flank much of the competition with its swank print job, popular interview subjects and overall outlook and perspective. Well, at least this one runs rings around some of the competition that was way too politically horseblindered to take seriously (somehow you'd never think of a Crass-affiliated band or 'zine to be free form and letting it all hang out) or just too artiste-ic to matter. At least THE STORY SO FAR has a personality and way about itself, and you gotta give credit to a fanzine that was running articles on all-time greats the Barracudas while others were too busy reading socialist tracts to notice which is one reason this particular rag hits while many others missed by a mile!
Dara Puspita-1966-1968 CD (Sublime Frequencies)

This 'un's been dangling 'bout in the collection but only now did I whip up enough courage to give this dig up a halfway-decent review! You probably never heard of Dara Puspita (translation: the Flower Girls), but from what I've heard they were pretty big stuff in mid-sixties Indonesia to the point where they actually earned the ire of none other than strongman leader General Sukarno himself who actually interrogated the girls in '65 for the heinous crime of playing rock & roll music. From what I've heard about Sukarno and his over-active glands I shudder to think what some of this interrogation entailed, but thankfully Dara Puspita made it out of the gulag alive and kicking enough to enjoy a pretty good career in their native land cranking out a good local variation on the Big Beat that got 'em loads of prestigious gigs as well as a few chart-toppers that I'm sure still warm the cockles of more'n a few budding Jakartan pre-teens who grew up listening to the Puspita way of rockism!

1966-1968 comes in a great decorative fold-apart digipack-kinda cover complete with the expected color photos and even a booklet with a rather detailed history of the group written by rock historian about town Alan Bishop. Put 'em all together and it makes for good reading while listening to the disque which presents a good enough representative portion of Dara Puspita's recorded output which (according to the booklet) was so in demand that the price of their first album doubled when demand outstripped supply. It's kinda funny that such hotcha teenage rock & roll coulda existed side-by-side in such a hostile environment (esp. given the massive slaughter going on when Sukarno was eventually ousted a short while after his anti-Beatles outbursts got Dara Puspita in a load of hot water), but hey I'll take this sunshine pre-jaded teenage rock in any language anyday and lending ear to these gals take hoary old Western rock modes and translate them into their own market is really a joy to behold.

Mostly original with a Beatle snatch here and Ventures cover there, and even some "Bye Bye Blackbird"/"Glad All Over" redo's elsewhere which really tells you where these femmes were coming from! Instrumentally this is straight by-the-book mid-six-oh teen rock sung in Indonesian most of the time with a few English lyrics tossed in to surprise you because you still thought they were singing in their native tongue until you spot a few "yeah yeah"-type phrases and whatnot. No pretensions or messages like the kind that would seep into the rock of the late-sixties...just good and commercial teenage music that sorta worked for the local teens the same way Paul Revere worked for us! And what's best about Dara Puspita is that they don't play themselves either as rock-bandwagon-jumping t&a airheads or threatening proto-feminists but straight-ahead rock & rollers who don't need gimmicks or women's lib to get to the top of the heap. In fact if you really wanna pick nits, these gals did more for women as achievers than all of those stenchy radical lezbo/MS. mag types put together mainly because they delivered w/o putting themselves into a self-exile of sullen crybabyish man-hatred.

What's best is that they backed up their own truly assertive (in the best sense) femininity out with some pretty tasty hunka cheese beat music which is all that matters to a chauvinist pig like me. And if you're a pig or a strictly kosher carnivore this'll certainly knock you for a loop that you've needed knocked for quite some time. Yet another outta-nowhere surprise that's helping me make it through these times some call the 21st century but I call dullness on earth!

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