Thursday, October 07, 2010

Cruel, Cruel Moon-STILL LIFE CD (Moonbase, available through CD Baby)

Hokay this one is way way beyond my self-imposed cutoff date since it was recorded LONG after the original thrust of "amerindie" Velvet impulse had been transformed into bedroom mewl (1996 to be exact), And I know that 99.999% of you already knew, cared, and filed this away so why bother reviewing the thing in the first place, savvy? But given the various raves from respected rockscreeders as well as some interesting names both in and behind the group I thought it would be better to snatch this one up rather'n dish out many a buck for some other nineties/oh-oh's flash and burn to the ground attempt at changing late-sixties bare-wire intensity into cheerful chipmunk patter. And besides, not only am I crawling the walls for some new hot drone fix but that issue of CLE sent to me by one Serena WilliamS Burroughs a few weeks back had an article on 'em and hey, it made Cruel, Cruel Moon out to be a better bet on the Cee-Dee market than most of those outta nowhere Velvets wannabes that also offer their wares via CD Baby (where I got this). So like maybe it ain't time to play like the stingy Scotsman and actually plunk down some hard-begged for once, right?

This 'un has an impressive cast including Tim Gilbride on guitar (a name that should have stuck with some of you eighties Northeast Ohio followers of the form) as well as some other worthies including most notably Caroyln Getson, the only femme in the outfit who besides playing regular and bass guitars does some warbling in this down-to-earth yet detached voice that made last night's repeated listenings all the more creepy. Let's just say that in this day and age (just like every other day and age) 'tis wimmin like Getson who do more for the cause of women than all of those yammering up-from-bondage types because she puts her talent and abilities on the line w/o succumbing to Favorite Feminist Cliche #____ kinda like Jeanne d'Arc also did, and come to think of it have the libbers ever taken her to heart like you think they shoulda???

On the first spin, at least a good ten minutes into it, STILL LIFE might remind one of the standard 80s/90s/Oh-Oh's "Amerindie" fodder, some of which I will admit was palatable on one spin but paled greatly next to the original post-Velvets influential influx from roughly 1967 until 1981 when Max's Kansas City's closure sealed the end of a valiant era in underground rock. (Lester Bangs' death a few months later was the tombstone, an analogy that I think pretty much sums up the pangs of lost energy I was feeling at the time.) However even a cursory play will show you there was much more to the entire CCM dna than the mere stealing of past innovations for a mind-dead present. The specter of, as one example, Syd Barrett looms heavy at times while hints of late-sixties SoCal garage rock (about the time it was mutating into punk) can also be felt even if ever so slightly. The deadpan vocals of Getson (as well as her male counterpart Craig Martin) are also a big bonus point and fit in well with the entire pithiness of CCM's wry observations of Kent Ohio living at its best (and don't tell me that the old lady depicted in the bril "Zirconium Ring" just ain't the spittin' image of your own spinster aunt or some other relative that you automatically associate with suburban ranch house 1962 UHF television living who's still alive and kicking a good 48 years later?). And hey, even the "avant garage" of "Flood" does happen to harken back to the late-seventies experimental madness of the Cleveland (and I assume Akron/Kent) underground when Velvets pulse (back when it was still derived from the early VU Wild Boys music that continues to shudder) still had a vital meaning left for all of us. Makes me really hunger for more, especially the Harlan and the Whips album that better come out soon lest I wither away in a ball of frazzled nerves.

Other smart ref. pts. include some of the better late-seventies/early-eighties Rough Trade-inspired acts (I am loathe to use the defeatist term "post punk" anymore) to Television and perhaps the entire Mirrors/Styrenes axis, which I guess shows you just how much the beneficial past means to this group even if they do tend to heap on some of the angst and confusion that overtook underground rock sometime in the eighties.

Are these guys (and gal) still operating in one fashion or another this late in the post-fun and games era? A well-wisher actually pecked out "long may they run" back when this platter was originally unleashed but I do have the feeling that CCM have long left the "scene" just like every other act of worth in this area and others, only to be replaced by some pale remnant of what used to be considered hi-energy rock but now just flutters about like a recently hatched butterfly. Perhaps CCM are one of those on/off aggregations that occasionally unsheath before going into hiding for a good decade or so only to surprise a gaggle of friends and family without prior notice. But at least we have this disque which, although it might last on the lasar launching pad about as long as many of the good yet not 100% devoted VU-treads of the past twenty years have (and that ain't long), still manages to make me sit up and take notice. If even for a good week or so which in these jaded times is really saying something in a positive, life-reaffirming way and in my own smug complacency I am proud.


Serena WmS. Burroughs said...

I don't think CCM have done anything together lately, but Tim Gilbride is doing a solo set at Bela Dubby in Lakewood, on Wednesday, 10/13/10.

Tim said...

Chris, I cannot figure out how to email you from the blog. Thanks for writing about Still Life. We still have hundreds of copies of the CD - I hope no-one is paying crazy prices for it. I'd like to send you some other music, please email me...Tim

Christopher said...

Will email you, as soon as you send you email address my way (will not publish if so requested). BTW, if you really want to send items my way for review purposes just mail them to:

701 North Hermitage Rd.
Suite 23
Hermitage, PA 16148