Wow, didja see alla that snow that was comin' down 'round here a few days ago? (Of course you didn't...after all, you're reading this somewhere in Japan, aren't you?) Winter sure started early here in Western Pee-YAY!, and although I absolutely DREAD having to look forward to at least four more months of the white stuff the good news is that at least I won't have to mow the lawn until May (or pull weeds until June, something you pampered city folk who don't have to do STOOP LABOR [work only stoops like myself do] would know about)! Naturally all of the snow shoveling I'll have to do once my crushed pelvis (well, that's what it feels like!) gets back into shape is sure to bring forth horrendous pain, and I'm only telling you all of this so's you'll feel better about yourselves...that's my Merry Christmas present to you!
But with the good foot or so I've had to drive, walk and crawl through these past few days all I wish for right now is that somehow I get miraculously snowed in for a reasonably long spell, or at least for enough time for me to once again sift through all of my old CREEMs, fanzines and top-notch recorded goodies and settle down for some real fun once in my born days! I know, I have to worry about work and paying the bills and other sundry things like that but man I could sure use a good four or so months doing nothing but playing albums and thumbing through long-packed away 'zines of all sorts, or maybe settle down with some of those old comics that used to give me such a reason to live back when I was eleven. People think that I haven't matured beyond that age but they're wrong as usual...frankly I haven't matured beyond the age of ten, and right now I'm working for THREE if you can believe that!
Should I mention anything about yesterday's passing of Don Van Vliet, better known to you all as CAPTAIN BEEFHEART, or would you prefer to hear about it from some schmuck? Sheesh, and it was only last week that I was reviewing a cassette of his oft-loathed UNCONDITIONALLY GUARANTEED album too. Well, all I gotta say is here's another passing that sure makes me feel old(er), and as it stands the death of the Captain is probably, no, definitely the most important rock death in months, at least since that of another BLOG TO COMM trailblazer Tuli Kupferberg's earlier this year. Pard, this is probably the biggest loss we'll have in the rock & roll world at least until Lou Reed's own passing, that is if he hasn't already been dead for ten years.
's funny, but when I was first getting interested in the Captain it was due to his association with none other than Frank Zappa, a guy who seemed like pizan #1 when I was in high school although it didn't take too long for Beefheart to overtake Zappa's popularity around here. That's undoubtedly because while Zappa continued recording extremely shallow albums that I couldn't care less about (albums that took the worst aspects of his "satire" and technical proclivities and well, came off even worse!) Beefheart was only getting better and better to the point where it seemed like he was finally on the verge of enlarging his cult status to levels that I'm sure nobody could ever have dreamed of. Of course the push DOC AT THE RADAR STATION was getting (I guess Virgin was the right label for him after all!) as well as some pretty big time tee-vee appearances on SNL and LETTERMAN (back when that guy was riding high booking the likes of Huntz Hall onto his program) didn't hurt. And, right when it looked as if he would finally reap some long-desired success Beefheart chucked it all in for a comparatively downplayed career as an artist! I mean, how punk rock can ya get!
As usual, here's what's been illuminating my chilly December nights...not much, but it's better'n throwing iceballs at the neighbor's dog when they aren't looking!
Group Inerane-GUITARS FROM AGADEZ VOL. 3 LP (Sublime Frequencies)
Gee willikers, who woulda thought there'd actually be a record album, a high energy rockin' record album at that, recorded and released here in the dank post-rock & roll year of 2010? Of course we hadda go all the way to Africa to find it, but find it we did and frankly we are all the better that this came out in the first place even if it woulda came outta some really primitive, bent place like say...Melbourne!
Now I know about as much about the Tuareg guitar scene as Chuck Eddy knows about maintaining a career as a rock critic, but as the old coot lookin' at the picture of the nekkid broad sez "I know what I like", and I really like the music coming forth from this album recorded by a buncha rebels from Niger called Group Inerane who recorded this album onto a portable cassette player only this past March. The music is riff-oriented in the great tradition of everyone from the Fugs to Kongress workin' its hypnotic magic on you as vocals chant on as if conjuring a spell, and the overall results are more akin to one of the best kept secrets of the late-sixties somebody will find out about a good century from now. At times I'm reminded of the Yardbirds back when they were doing their middle eastern raga rock, if they happened to last long enough to be influenced by the Stooges. Let's just say that this is perhaps the last item we'll ever hear that seems to have evolved from the great late-sixties dunce-rock trailblazers up through the primal rock screeds of the seventies, eighties and beyond. And you know Group Inerane hasn't heard one note of any of 'em which makes 'em all the more adept at discerning real rockist tendencies if you ask me!
I could go on a riff as to how this is the real punk rock and that all of you pampered upper-crust music mavens who can afford every new item to come down the pike should snatch it up immediately, but I shall refrain from the heaping helpings of hype this time. Sublime Frequences, who know how to deal in third-world rock rarities and dishes 'em up fine, really did a good job with this 'un and if this is volume three I sure wonder what the previous two were like. Well, the way things are now I just better make out like a bandit at Christmas or perhaps I'll never know!
***HIGH ALL THE TIME VOL. 1 CD (Past/Present, available through Forced Exposure)
Were you one of those hard-shelled rock & roll fans who collected just about every sixties-vintage garage band anthology that was being hawked via Bomp! or Midnight (yech!) a good quarter century back? I wish I could say that I was, but frankly many of the more obscure six-oh collections of punk gems that were peddled back in those dreary days didn't make their way to my door! For obvious reasons of course, such as personal money restraints and/or the costliness of some of these items, the general unavailability of many of the more limited-run offerings, too many repeats from well-established volumes which would have had me payin' double for stuff I've already had, and most of all after awhile the well seemed to run dry and all we were being offered on these sets was nothing but late-sixties psychedelic gunk that sounded rather pale next to the comparatively rawer mid-sixties stylists. Not that I hate psychedelic gunk and in fact I have grown quite accustomed to it, but when I settle down in the evening I find the strains of BACK FROM THE GRAVE a whole lot more enticing than I do STONED WHITE TEENS IN 1969 TRYING TO COPY JIMI HENDRIX AND ERIC CLAPTON IN THE WORST WAY POSSIBLE VOLUME XXIV.
Surprisingly enough HIGH ALL THE TIME was one of the last sixties-oriented garage band albums that I can recall buying before I put a temporary kibosh on the practice sometime in the early-nineties. I really liked this 'un as well, from the cheap paste-on cover to the fanzine-ish insert which gave it an air of a home-made product put out by some serious fan working outta his basement. The selection of tracks was hotcha as well, mixing the mid-sixties primitive snarl with psychedelic mind-addle and really, I can't remember getting into such a slice of sixties garage primtivism like this since the days of PEBBLES VOLUME 3 let alone that BEYOND THE CALICO WALL platter which only went to show you that there were more people listening to the Red Krayola in 1968 than you ever knew existed!
It is quite a surprise to see this 'un available via Cee-Dee inna here 'n now given what a low-budget offering the original was, but Past/Present (a label that has been issuing various sixties/seventies rock samplers of flucutating quality) did just that complete with the weirdo cover shot of two spaced out ethnic-looking goombahs who look like they could be typical BLOG TO COMM readers. The music is varied too ranging from late-sixties hard-thud (Mammoth) to punk-diven Dylanisms (Darelycks) to pseudo-Floydian European piss-takes (Dragonfly) to a late-sixties punk variation on the instrumental rock genre ("Quasar"). The mix settles in well especially when it retains that cheap-press flat mono sound that really affects me in a positive way a whole lot more'n the concept of Quadrophonic ever did. Listening to HIGH ALL THE TIME is kinda like pretending it is 1970 and you're at some older relative's (cousin, college aged brother) haunt playing his single collection on a cheap turntable listening to a lotta old rot in the collection before said relative comes home and beats the living daylights outta ya!
Really, a nice diversion from the various comps I somehow had been suckered into buying these past few years which only repeated the familiar without expanding on the legend.
***ROCK SCENE, November 1976 issue!
Yeah I know that my seventies fixation is way outta kilter considering all of the downright abortions that've gone down during those ten years; everything from sensitive singer-songwriters and maxi skirts to late-seventies AM radio, but I think I did a pretty good job getting what I was able to squeeze outta 'em despite being stuck here in the center of nowheresville. Maybe that's why I have fonder memories of those times that in many ways were still coasting on forties/fifties energies while offering us sixties thrills at flea market prices. And given the excitement of television (in its second Golden Age ca. '71-'77 not counting the boffo rerun situation) and all of those interesting groups you could read about in CREEM along with the bountiful BUDGET BINS and flea market booty why should I have complained?
Mags like ROCK SCENE bring back a lotta memories, mostly of reading such jounalistic endeavors at the newsstand and getting chased away by irate pudges who looked like Archie Bunker. But now that I'm (ahem!) "independently wealthy" I can afford to buy these by-now crumbling issues up and enjoy them in the privacy of my own privvy without being constantly hassled by one of the now-dwindling members of the Silent Majority. And this particular November '76 ish is a halfway decent one at that which manages to make the best of the times despite having so little raw material to work with. After all, settling for cover stories on Peter Tampon and Dame Elton ain't exactly conduit to a high energy read on anyone's part but hey, Richard Robinson at least tried and yeah, at least he did a good job of making that particular era look so good as well!
Not too much in the "More New Groups" section this time, the only band of interest there being Riot, the heavy metal act who used to play Max's Kansas City almost as much as the Heartbreakers did although they never were able to break outta the same hard rock trap that ruined too many an act in those noisier-than-thou days. Speaking of Max's there's a great two-page spread celebrating the remodeling of the restaurant portion of the club where of course you get to see all of the big names partying about just so's us suburban and rural rednecks could live vicariously through it all. Elsewhere in this ish is fodder that the standard runna-da-mill BLOG TO COMM reader will find enough to satiate over, such as snaps of Patti Smith acting decadent in Paris, Richard Hell sitting in on Blondie's debut album session and of course alla the big names like Jagger and Bowie trying their darndest to keep up with the changing mode of distant cool while keeping their jet set arrogance going full blast. And really, what kinda ish of ROCK SCENE would it had been w/o a pic of Mick in shades being chauffeured to Earl's Court or some Berlin eatery anyway?
The reg'lar columns are what keep me pumped up. Once again Wayne County disseminates advice I wouldn't take on a bet but I guess his heart was in the right place even if his glands weren't (I sure woulda loved to've heard what this one advice asker, a "Queen Steven" who considered himself a cross between Wayne and Patti, sounded like!). The import album and comic book scenes get their dues as well in case you were one of those European LP collectors or actually used to read CAPTAIN AMERICA'S BICENTENNIAL STORIES. What's really interesting about this 'un is the Doc Rock/Lenny Kaye column where a J. Marshall of Ft. Lauderdale Florida writes in asking where he could get magazines that are "into Television, the Ramones, Patti Smith, Iggy, Lou Reed, John Cale etc." Hmmmm, makes me wonder if the Good Doc's advice to Mr. Marshall to seek out rags like ROCK NEWS and THE NEW YORK ROCKER only resulted in the permanent corruption of another mind to the warped desires of rock & roll! Oh well, the guy's probably an accountant in Teaneck New Jersey these days.
For a great blog dedicated to ROCK SCENE click here and you too can miss the seventies just as much as I, 'cept for the humiliation and degradation that I hadda endure to the point where I kinda got used to it and it didn't matter anymore. Hmmm, maybe those days were really as bad as everybody keeps trying to remind me!
***IF I HADDA OWN ANY AUTOMOBILE I THINK I'D WANNA OWN THIS 'UN---THE 1961 METEOR MONTCALM!-Given my love of the v.-late-fifties/early-sixties automobile designs I grew up admiring I must admit that I still harbor a huge hankerin' for the body styles that came outta Detroit (and elsewhere) during those oft-loathed years. Just one look at a 1959Chevrolet Impala's enough to send me into hearty swoons of lust and don't get me started on the innate beauty of the Edsel let alone the 1960-63 Mercury Comet station wagon, a vehicle which was such a smart looker that the Australians (there are some good ones) used it as a template for their '65 Ford Falcon. But here's a car that pretty much tops 'em all, and the sad part about it is that the thing wasn't even available inna US of Whoa but was built and sold in Canada and Canada only! The Meteor was a stand-alone marque for Ford, not quite the Mercury that people tend to think it was, and for some reason or another it was a solely Canadian enterprise created for the locals the same way GM sold the Acadian through Pontiac for those in the Frozen North. Too bad fer us Yanks tho, because the early-sixties Meteor run had that Ford look with a great local twist to it coming off like the basic Amerigan models only with flashier grills and decorative trim that gave these cars the ultimage pizzaz. The '61 Meteor Montcalm was the best of the lot, a upscale knockoff of the then-current Mercurys (which were no slouches themselves) looking just as much like an ingeneous customization as the '60 Edsel or the '61 De Soto looked to their more popular inspirations. A vehicle that surely deserves a whole lot more homage paid to it, at least here inna US where it remains practically unknown 'cept for the few true-blues out there who look upon those days as being a whole lot more fun than the way things are now! Dig the spread out headlights separated by a typically early-sixties-styled star design, as well as the ingenious fin-extension in the rear that even makes its way through the tail lights. If you ask me this could've passed for some Ghia conversion made for an idle European playboy or middle eastern monarch! And since I have about as much hope of owning one of these as I do of unloading all of those BLACK TO COMM back issues in my lifetime all I gotta say is...were there any plastic or diecast models of this that can be obtained at a rather reasonable cost? Any true-blue readers up there willing to assist me in my quest to at least own a small piece of early-sixties motoring coolness??? Hurry up, for playtime awaits!