Sunday, January 02, 2011

Well, I see that we all finally made it, "intact-like" (as Mr. Jinks would say) into the new year as well as the new decade (as the mathematically-correct Serena WmS Burroughs pointed out exactly one year ago)! Well, to be cordial about it, welcome to 2011, a fact that as you already know I find extremely hard to get straightened out in my brain especially when I consider that the general excitement and fun in "life", at least when one wasn't being hassled by school, authority, work, neighborhood assholes etc., pretty much petered out around 1981. (Sometimes I wonder...did Lester Bangs really die on purpose as to tell us "kids, it ain't coming back"???) Sheesh, that means it's been a good three decades since any real hope to revitalize rock & roll back to its mid-fifties/sixties ideals (which I thought was the goal of punk rock, at least the way it was envisioned by Greg Shaw) went down the crapper of life along with a whole load of other things that I'd prefer not to forget. Oh yeah there were valiant attempts to act as if the better moments of rock & roll ca. 1955-1980 were still fresh and vital...even a stick up the butt such as I will admit that there were a few acts, writers and releases since those days that at least emulated the trailblazing of the past but when it's 2011 and everything you really enjoyed about not only music and television but LIFE itself has been practically dead and buried for thirtysome years all I wanna do is look into the possibility of cryogenics and freeze myself until a time and place more conduit to my own personal pleasures finally arises. And I don't think such a paradise is gonna sprout up any time within the natural span of my born days I'll tell eon as a human popsicle would be better spent than to experience the utter duh we have been exposed to for way too long a time.

Just thinking about having lived long enough to have made it into the 'teens sure makes me feel older'n Moms Mabley, especially when I fathom that a lot of the things I grew up with such as THE KATZENJAMMER KIDS were already well into production a good century back yet were about as part and parcel to my life as Tiny Tim must have been to yours! And to make me feel even worse it's sure hard to fathom that it really wasn't that long ago when, in many ways, I was still living in the world of my grandmother as well as uncles and aunts who, had they survived, would be celebrating their own centenaries just about now. As a youngster I'd often visit my grandmother and do some 1910-styled living then go back home to the comparatively modern times almost as if our Pontiac was some sort of time machine transporting us from a quaint existence to the hotcha new suburban ranch house world. It really wasn't that strange of an experience mind you, but it sure molded my peculiar thinking patterns as to what was current and what was passe. No wonder I was really surprised as a child when I was told that THE LITTLE RASCALS comedy shorts were made years ago and that all of those kids in them were either grown up or dead! Not to mention that the theme from CAPTAIN PENNY was actually of thirties vintage and not rock & roll (song starts @ 1:42)!

Three years from now we'll be celebrating the 100th anniversary of World War I which set the stage not only for the Russian Revolution/Cold War, Hitler and World War II but all of the traumas that grew outta this war to end all wars! Why somebody hasn't desecrated Woodrow Wilson's grave by now I'll never know. Lord knows where the military excursions that have been going on for the past decade will eventually lead to a good twenty years from now...frankly, at this time I don't even want to think about it, just like I don't wanna think about the bleak future that'll befall us due to the follies of social planners and other do-gooders having their way here in 2011! The way people are predicting the darkest outlook for all of us doesn't exactly bode well but hey, maybe if we save up we can build a well-stocked (with DVD's, comics, fanzines, records...) bunker for ourselves and spend the rest of out born days spinning hotcha albums, reading old fanzines and comic strips while watching boss fifties/sixties tee-vee shows while the rest of the world tears itself to shreds fighting over who is better, Lady Caga or Bristle Palin. Let's just say that the survivalists of the eighties might have had the right idea, but the wrong concept of what to stockpile!
I dunno, but only recently have I found the post-Holiday Season to be the dreariest time of the year to hafta struggle through. Not just because of the cold weather and short days but the constant reminder that there's a new 365 comin' at'cha and pretty soon we're all gonna be joining the elements a good six feet under unless you're lucky enough to get cremated or stuck in one of those fancy mausoleums like the kind where Rudolph Valentino now resides. But despite the usual doldrums (which I never used to get until I got out of school and began working for a figure it out!) I try to keep my spirits up by buying books of interest or better yet by bidding on all of those seventies-vintage rock mags and fanzines that I missed out on the first time thanks to the miracle of ebay. At least these neglected items from my youth remind me of what a ball I could have had back in the oft-loathed seventies, that is if I only decided to go out and create a little fun for myself 'stead of relying on the radio or media in general to tell me which orifice I was supposed to stick my nostrils up.

Haven't been that busy these past few days and have been spending my free time listening to a number of items both old and new to my boudoir. As you can easily enough decipher, there are strong signs of burnout showing up in my scribing but like Bangs I will stick to it and keep on churning away these scribblings despite my best days being a good fifteen/twenty/thirty years behind me. It's the least I can do and, like Benny Goodman during those years where he plainly LOST IT, I still deserve all of the respect and adoration due me (as well as an AMERICAN MASTERS special devoted to my life) so don't you forget it. And really, who else (other'n Jim Marshall, Lindsay Hutton and a few whose names escape me) are churning away on their own blogs while the rest of the creme-de-la-seventies is either retired or decayed? Not that I ever was part of a seventies rockscribing upswing having remained unpublished until 1981, but be thankful for once, willya? And, as they used to say in old circus movies despite the fire and the clowns goin' on strike...on with the show!

Having ignored the career of John Martyn for ages while harboring the impression that he was just another folkie strummer for the introverted classes, my interests were piqued not only after reading a small blurb about him in Nick Kent's autobiography-cum-seventies rock history but discovering that Martyn had played Max's Kansas City on two separate occasions back '72/'73 way. Interesting enough factoids to turn my ever-shiny head I'll tell ya, but I don't think that THE BATTLE OF MEDWAY was the proper place to start. Anybody out there willing to set me straight, as Liberace was never known to have said?

Actually it's not bad when Martyn sets his acoustic guitar on reverb making almost as much of a maddening spacial sound as Sandy Bull did with his amplified oud, but the cavernous quality doesn't exactly suit this novice and the vocals could be out there a little more. (Never mind I find it hard to understand what Martyn is saying between songs with that thick accent of his...heck, boat people speaking in pidgin English are way more understandable to these ears!) But I can't deny that Martyn was a talent that I know more than a few early-seventies English college students have reckoned with, and for once they were right unlike the times when they were bolstering up the careers of lameass singer/songwriters I never could fathom. I could just see the dorms over there stacked with his and Nick Drake's albums while the wafting bitter odor of "the weed with roots in Columbiana County" permeates the halls.

As it stands, a good enough document of a 1973 concert that the serious Martyn fan will definitely add to his collection though beginners like myself better be directed to something we can sink our grips into first.
TB SHEETS #5 (November 1977) RAW POWER #6 (November 1979) fanzines

I gotta admit to enjoying these TB SHEETS and that's despite the staff's championing of some of the lamer mainstream adherents of the late-seventies form, not to mention having to handle the awkward layout with its one-sided pages featuring two shrunken-down halves put together stapled at the corner on the side making for extremely floppy reading! SHEETS at least had a nice personality to it and although it wasn't as acerbic as BACK DOOR MAN or as decorative as DENIM DELINQUENT I can enjoy it for the way Tom and Bob ("TB") gab about their various fave rockers while trying to survive in that stinking cesspool that they call Los Angeles.

And if ya gotta survive you better do it the best way you can, at least w/o becoming the monster that you're obviously fighting against which is something that didn't quite resonate with a few generations of El Lay teendom on the lookout for a better way. But the folks at TB SHEETS sure did a swell job of trying to circumvent the tinsel on one hand and the gross utter reality on the other by writing about their various faves in a matter-of-fact style, forgoing playing the rock crits like tendency would have it and putting out a real fan-based publication that you can easily enough read in between perusals of your boss seventies Golden Age of Rock Fanzine faves. These guys were even able to snag future Frontier fave Lisa Fancher for a couple pieces on Dwight Twilley and the Dickies which does add a particular air of "class" to the issue especially if you, like me, thought Fancher was one of the better up-and-coming stars of the seventies Golden Age of Rock Fanzines scene!

Cover feature's yet another observation regarding the hand of doom aka David Bowie and his ability to ruin any rock act he dares produce, with the ultimate assertion that Iggy was the only one that seemed to survive the Vulcan Death Grip that Bowie had inflicted on everyone from Mott the Hoople to Lou Reed! Well, at least that's what they and I may beg to differ. It's in-depth, informative, factual and best of all this was being published in some small fanzine that probably didn't even make its way outta the burgh other'n through the people who bought it via the BOMP mailorder catalog. But hey, if this article would have popped up in any of the major rock mags being published at the time it sure woulda improved whatever lucky magazine'd get it's lot quite a bit.

The remainder of this issue is filled with personal musings and record reviews dealing with all of those records you passed on when they first hit the racks and then...three decades later later you haven't changed your opinions of 'em for some odd reason. You know, I feel the same way about many of the albums that have been reviewed here but...reading writeups of the better and more conduit to my way of thinking albums that I dared pass on back when they were affordable is enough to make this strong bulk of a man wanna break down and so a little sobbing himself. Utter proof that the seventies were a halcyon time at least if you knew where to find your energy! Combing through TB SHEETS reminds me of the days when even shopping mall record shops were well-stocked with imports and even bootlegs (usually going for a good buck-anna-half more than in the smaller specialty shops but at least they were within palm's reach) while avant garde jazz albums, the kind you didn't even see elsewhere, were easy enough to spot amidst the Return to Forevers that were big on the jazz hit parade at the time. Did I ever tell you about my fantasy about turning my basement into an imitation record shop where I could browse through and play tons of platters at will (complete with an import and bootleg section), and even hire some guy to act as a clerk who sneaks in the back for a li'l marijuana break and looks at me ever-so suspiciously?

Gee, didn't even know that there was a sixth issue of RAW POWER, the fanzine that began life as a wholesome one-sided xerox pub devoted to the heavy metal and punk rock aspects of life and grew to CREEM-styled proportions once they got their fifth issue goin'. That was in '77 before they were gone for two whole years, eventually coming back as a free paper complete with a cover feature on Kiss as well as writeups by the team of Quick Draw and Babalouie where they dish out the dirt on the pair's current gnu wave faves. Of course two years can mean the world when talking seventies rock & roll, and frankly I would wonder how a fanzine born and bred of a not-so-strange mid-seventies heavy metal with punk onna side credo would come off a few years later with battle lines being drawn and various factions pretty much clawin' at each others' throats! Kinda screwy perhaps if ya ask me!

But I still love the entire premise of this fanzine even though it now looked like one of those cheezy freebie papers you used to see piled up in record shops nationwide just beggin' for you to take 'em home. The interview with Ace Frehley and Gene Simmons is pretty guffaw-inducing especially when the latter starts ramming into Patti Smith, not physically mind you but he sure gives us a piece of his mind what he thinks of her (all pretty negative as you might gather). Still, I thought that Simmons' detailing of Kiss' plans for a new album with Liberace and other celebrities of his stature was pretty funny...I mean, I could just see Lib and Kiss doing a sequel to "Beth" on some Paul Lynde special, couldn't you???

Still, this presumably final issue of RAW POWER does tend to point the way towards the shape of things to come, mainly El Lay as the big wasteland of mindless glitz which thirty years later has devolved into such a stinking hellhole that I'm surprised that the La Brea Tar Pits haven't swallowed the entire area up yet. There's an "industry" look to this issue from the local scene report to the choice of major label-backed artists which makes me wanna know where the hell the likes of "X", Fear or Black Flag were. The inclusion of the Rodney Bingenheimer name in the "thank you" section might be a tip off of sorts though he surely rah-rah'd some of the better acts in town, but like I said the factions were starting to claim their own territory and... If you want to know where the big local dichotomy began, this issue of RAW POWER might be indicative of a good place to start.
Eric Dolphy-IRON MAN CD (Jazz World Portugal)

In honor of the recent vinyl reissue of IRON MAN (available through Forced Exposure) I've decided to purchase not that but a cheap Portuguese Cee-Dee variant! Undoubtedly because I'm gonna be spinnin' this 'un a whole load of times and rather'n take the trek downstairs to dig up an album especially during these cold winter months I'd prefer to have a Cee-Dee platter of it up in the bedroom where I can keep a good eye on the thing! Well, whatever the situation may be it's sure great to have this platter close to my mitts for those quick fixes rather'n hafta ruffle through stacks of 35 years worth of albums just begging for categorization in the basement.

A lotta you still wanna slaughter Zappa for...well, for his egotistical career which got worse and worse especially as the eighties rambled on into further oblivion, but ya gotta admire ol' stinko for not only namedropping Dolphy in the gatefold of FREAK OUT but dedicating one of his better numbers to the recently-deceased jazzman. I'm sure that Zappa's plugolaing away for Dolphy had more'n a li'l effect on Dolphy's sales amongst the youth of this world, one reason I'm sure Douglas released IRON MAN in the first place way back '75 way (not exactly a hot year for avant jazzness but good enough nonetheless). Sure it's no OUT TO LUNCH but IRON MAN's worthy of your time as much as all of those discs where he sidemans with Coltrane, Coleman and Mingus, plus the entire session flows pretty nicely with future stars Clifford Jordan, Sonny Simmons and Richard Davis helping out doing their best to post-bop this into the new thing that was just starting to blossom back in those promising early-sixties.

Nice streak of underlying intensity, hot play (perfectly subdued) which Hutcherson's vibes adding that perfect current of added energy. Put 'em all together and it makes for a sublime yet burning undercurrent session that only hints at what would be comin' down the pike in a few years. Adds to the speculation of just what a late-sixties Dolphy would have cooked up, and although such excursions are usually an excuse for high-minded conjecture who could have doubted that the late-sixties might have been Dolphy's time to stride? Whatever, a nice bit of surviving avant esoterica that goes to prove that even one-dimensional self-appointed hipsters like Zappa...and myself...can understand and appreciate the likes of Dolphy in our own half-brained, addled ways.
The Deep-PSYCHEDELIC MOODS CD (Cicadelic Records)

Did I ever tell you that I used to get the Fire Escape, the Deviled Ham and the Deep confused? This is almost as bad as when I used to get Peter and Gordon and Chad and Jeremy all mixed up, but eventually I got my mind straightened out and figured that they all hadda be different groups though a three-way lawsuit certainly wasn't outta the question.

Great studio psych masterminded by Rusty Evans, an up-and-comer who certainly knew how to turn in a good attempt at capturing the now sounds after spinning one Seeds single. Hot riffs on Dylan and Jagger (even a little [yech!] Donovan) re-fashioned as only an ex-rockabilly guy cum folkie could. Perhaps the best presentation of psychedelia filtered through music industry consciousness since THE INNER SOUNDS OF THE ID, another turn on classic brainchilded by a guy who had an extensive career in music prior to the creation of the word psychedelic!

Nice percussive clank (reminds me of Emil Richards) as well, plus the bonus takes are actually worth the time to spin even if they do come at the end of the disque! Another good example of just how good crank-out exploito teen music could be, at least until it all became "meaningful" and "socially conscious" in the early-seventies and we all hadda be nice to the kid next to us even when he was beating us all to a pulp!
Here's a numbuh that, while not rock & roll or jazz, has been really affecting me in a life-affirming, positive way for the past few days. Frankly this is something that I know I'm not "supposed" to like, but once I let my guard down I found it to be quite exciting, moving, driving, erotic (in the best Jonathan Richman sense) and perhaps what people were hearing when the Velvet Underground would enter into "The Cloud" and make music akin to a renaissance choir. Whatever, could this be the new musical direction that I'll be heading in during the coming decade? The rate music as a driving force is going I would tend to think so!


Tim Wrong said...

"the mathematically-correct Serena WmS Burroughs" Yeah, I remember that guy parroting Dylan about doing mathematical music, and Terry Hartman calling him on it: "It's not mathematical, it's ridiculous." and "You play what you want, but if we get lost we're going to look at you like you're crazy and break into 'Louie, Louie'..."

Serena WmS. Burroughs said...

Dude, do you truly have nothing better to do that rag on me at black2com? Are you trying to drum up interest in your new band's wack attack? Cut me a break.


The centennial of WW1...excellent. That's one of the gags you can do with a pack of Camels: show someone when the first World War started (it's hidden in the word "prohibits").


Speaking of "Louie, Louie," as Tim Wrong was, I had a blast hanging out with Ched Stanisic this weekend
(He was a member of Death of Samantha at the tail-end of their career, and an almost member of Death on a Stick. Also, he was Chad Stanley, the original host of the Literary Cafe Talk Show.), and he was regaling Joe Milan (a former member of the talk show band, as am I)and me with stories of hanging out with Mike Mitchell, the guitarist from The Kingsmen (Ched has lived in Seattle,WA, and Portland, OR, for some years. Apparently, MM and the rest of the Kingsmen have big reps as pranksters, and he was giving an award at a local music banquet. It was a posthumous award for Elliott Smith, and Mitchell didn't know he was dead and no one bothered to tell him, so he was yelling "Hey man, come on up! Get off your lazy ass," etc., while the audience looked on aghast.


New Year's resolutions: I will get back to posting more regularly, I just have blogger's block. Also, I will be better at returning stuff to the library. (My most successful resolution og the last several years was to start making the numeral "3" with a flat top and an angle on the right instead of a curve. I've kept that one for like 3 years now!)


If I weren't in a coffeehouse where they've been playing Monks and assorted Krautrock, and I had the VU "New York Art" book handy, I would quote Lou Reed on why The Kingsmen were batter than any of the San Francisco bands. But I am, so y'all will have to work that out on your own. Unless you want to get the book from the Cleveland Public Library, because I haven't returned it yet. Happy New Year!

Serena WmS. Burroughs said...

Oh, and Anne Francis of "Honey West" and "Forbidden Planet" fame dies: what fresh Hell is this? Just back in November I was hanging out with John Hricko (ex-member of Ugly Beauty and possibly future member if I re-boot it) at Now That's Class when he pointed out this woman at the bar and said that she looked like Honey West (she doesn't really, but I think John was a drink or two ahead of me at the time). Fortunately, she did not have an ocelot with her.

Christopher said...

The only time I can recall seeing HONEY WEST was once when my father and I were over at my one uncle, aunt and cousin's house. My cousin, who was a squirt ten or so at the time (I was a squirt five or so) loved the show and was really engrossed in it. It seemed too advanced for me. I do recall the show had something to do with a gang of flim flam artists including this one old lady who my cousin seemed to take an extreme liking to...

Anonymous said...

Re: Rusty Evans, I had the privilege of seeing and meeting Rusty Evans in Temple, Texas, last year where he was doing his Johnny Cash tribute show. He was a friendly man, there with his wife selling cd's and autographing pics for free after the show. He was happy that I knew his early psychedelic work and productions (The Deep, The Nervous Breakdowns' "I Dig Your Mind", the Marcus solo LP, the San Francisco Sound anthology, etc.), and he commented to his wife what a "real" fan I was, but it was clear that he did not want to revisit the era with me and that he had been living in this new persona for decades, and THAT was who he was. Since he started with rockabilly back in the late 50s, the move to the Cash tribute (and by the way, a lot of the material he does is original, NOT covers of Cash, although there's a lot of those and they were masterful) isn't a total surprise. He's been doing it since the 80s. He puts on a great show, and I would encourage anyone who likes Rusty Evans and likes Johnny Cash to catch his show. This man has certainly paid his dues and undoubtedly his life story is fascinating. It's told in some detail on that five volume series (out of print now) on collectables, and one of those has a long interview included on the disc. I hope he has dictated his memories somewhere or written a detailed autobiography. THE DEEP album is amazing, and I'm glad it's attracted such a following over the last 20 yrs.
Bill S.