Sunday, February 13, 2011

Tomorrow's Valentine's Day, but if you're expecting a lovey-dovey post I'm afraid you've made yet another huge error in your life (other'n tuning into this blog inna first place---see, I beat you to the punch with that OBVIOUS takedown!). After all, this ain't one of those blogs where we don't judge you and vice versa thus nothing gets done! Don't you worry, I'm going to be my usual cranky self and with pride dish out yet another bile-filled, cringe-inducing entry into the annal of BLOG TO COMM-dom which probably won't rank as one of the best I have to offer, but then again I doubt the thing'll have you rushing for the nearest vomitorium to cleanse your lilywhite soul after it being soiled in such an unnatural fashion as this.

Gotta say that things are picking up around here with the arrival of a few new spinners that have been brightening up my evening easy chair calm-yerself-down time. Still, in the grand tradition of Samuel Gompers I yearn for more. After all, last year's winter season was perked up by the arrival of some old issues of THE AQUARIAN which spurred me on to write a lengthy, passionate post about an era of rock & roll that continues to resonate inside my otherwise hollow beanie. Still waiting for something that'll spark my nerve-endings to the point of boundless pleasure this winter season, but until then I guess I'll just settle for what I've got. Which of course is never enough, but then again we can't all be Byron Coley.

But please, don't go about thinking that I'm nothing but a rotten swarthy layabout who can barely blog his way outta a paper bag, for just this week I obtained, read and devoured the entire contents of the latest volume in the DICK TRACY COLLECTION and man is it a cringe-inducing doozy! This volume (#11 if you're counting) is particularly blood/gore packed not only with the entire "Mumbles" episode (considered pretty hotcha in the realm of the TRACY universe and of course they're right!), but the Coffyhead and Heels Beels sagas which I've never laid eyes upon and (after careful thought) must admit gotta rank up there with the best that the sick mind of Chester Gould could wretch upon a drawing board. The Beels one was particularly creepy, especially the part where he climbs into what he thinks is an empty drainage pipe (this after stabbing a taxi driver in the neck with a hat pin thus causing the cab to crash into a lightpost before making his escape!) that turns out to be a giant papier mache soda bottle being used for a Sparkle Plenty Cola billboard! By the time he's found over a week later (after the soda bottle is taken down at the request of BO Plenty who claims his daughter's image was used without his consent) Beels is barely alive and has to be put on life support! I dunno about you, but things like that always give me this weird, perhaps disturbed feeling of joy if only because evil characters getting strange and particularly cruel comeuppances in totally unintended ways such as this is so satisfying given these perverted, justice-starved times where people tend to feel more sorry for the eviler aspects in life while poo-pooing the good and decent. If only real life could be so harsh and poetically justifying, especially after a good fiftysome years of us having to feel "sorry" for the same people who have caused so much damage and heartbreak in the first place!

Of course it ain't as nauseating as the time when Beels' girlfriend Acres O'Reilly went insane and began searching for her stolen cab after breaking away from her hospital bed while subsisting solely on a raw chicken she swiped from a nearby farm! And Ed Norton had the nerve to ask a cop if the stories in TRACY were taken from actual police files!
Here's what's been stroking my medulla oblongata more/less/kinda/sorta these past few days. A nice grab bag of wonders if I do say so myself...nothing life-shattering true but its just enough to stimulate that aforementioned back-brain a whole lot better'n Robert Calvert's orgone accumulator ever could! Remember to take notes, because you're gonna need 'em when you write about the exact same items of interest on your very own blog!
Anthony Braxton-B-XNO147A CD (Sunspots Italy)

I remember a loooong time ago when I was spinning this in my bedroom and my father, after looking at the back cover, thought it was a JOHNNY MATHIS album that was gettin' the spinnin' 'round here! Good thing I didn't let dad listen to this platter by longtime avant godhead Braxton or else he'd never let me inna house again! But sheeee, Johnny Mathis? And I didn't even have a girl in the boudoir at the time!

This 'un, as is BYG followup THIS TIME, ain't really a Braxton as leader album per se. Dunno why it didn't get billed under its proper Creative Construction Company moniker since members Leo Smith and Leroy Jenkins even contribute two compositions on the a-side (the latter in his usual soul-wrenching style) and any doof could tell that this bunch really were a working collective 'n not a Braxton solo star excursion by any means. But I guess even if the entire group is pictured on the front that Braxton would get the star billing...after all he does get to play all of those neato instruments plus he sure looks cooler'n all the rest with that 'fro and those sideburns!

Naturally this is more of that early AACM scronkabrang that keeps my juices flowing, perhaps a little less out-there and swinging than the Art Ensemble of Chicago but engaging in its own incomprehensible way that had college students making Braxton such a noted icon back in the beyond-strange mid-seventies. If you've heard one Braxton album you definitely ain't heard 'em all, but at least you get the idea. Intricate, mathematical and maybe even irritating at times, but still firmly rooted in the late-sixties stretching of jazz boundaries that made Leonard Feather such a broken down man during the final thirty years of his life.

A Cee-Dee copy of THIS TIME is also winging its way to my door and a future post'll feature what I would consider yet another writeup that I'll dumb down to suit the cranial capabilities of most of you regular tuner-inners. Until then can anyone tell me if there were any other CCC releases made while the four were holed up somewhere in the jazz ghetto of Paris at the time?

Dunno why I even purchased this "tribute" Cee-Dee considering how almost all of 'em (esp. the Velvet Underground ones which'd figure considering their doofus spawn) are nothing so much as more dirt onna coffin of the once-vibrant form of music known as rock & roll. Even the tributes I like such as the HARD TO BEAT Stooges two-LP set and the Troggs and Sam the Sham ones hardly get any spin time around here. But given the subject matter of this 'un I figured why not, esp. since I am really in an English underground rock groove so-to-speak and if I can't read every NME with Mick Farren, Nick Kent and Charles Shaar Murray innit then I might as well get as close to that particular pipeline as I can with what is within my grubby reach!

Surprisingly enough this does come close to that 60/70s underground taproot that made England a little more than a place which birthed Chris Welch-imprimatured progressive rock the likes of which MELODY MAKER banked their buckskins on. After all, the Deviants and Pink Fairies were the pick of the seventies underground rock scene and certainly brightened up any import bin, and the fact that anybody would have waited so long to pay tribute to these bubs in any fashion is what some might say "downright criminal".

And although I'm sure this one will eventually get pushed to the back of the collection with the rest at least PORTOBELLO SHUFFLE's got some nice moves on it that will at least stick in my mind until the next bright flash of seventies underground ephemeris just happens to wing its way to BTC world headquarters here in the dankness of my bedroom.

This one's got an all-star roster as well, from various ex-Damned guys twisto-changing the Pink Fairies catalog to ex-MC5 manager John Sinclair ripping up Mick Farren's "People Call You Crazy" and Wilko Johnson (!) and Band doing the title track about as good as if they were a buncha 1972 Ladbrook Grove upstarts rehearsing it in some antiquated outhouse. Even none other than Jello Biafra and "the Guantanamo School of Medicine" take on "Metamorphosis Exploration" from DEVIANTS III and pretty much make it their own while going off on all of their own weird tangents that don't make you think of bad eighties radicalism one bit! Considering how Biafra's been writing album notes for Zolar X and Cold Sun reissues maybe he should just drop that political hackdom pronto (the "new" Lenny if the old one wasn't enough of an asshole!) and become a rock fandom scribe.

Biggest surprise of all is that even the honorees themselves lend a hand, with a reunited (!) Pink Fairies doing a new version of their old hit now entitled "Do It '09" while Mick Farren and Larry Wallis show up (separately of course since rumor has it they can't stand the sight of each other!), the former doing a song called "Baby Pink" which is the second song written (after Rocket From The Tombs' "Life Stinks") in which every line rhymes with "ink" and the latter an original tribute to the famed (and ailing) Deviants/Pink Fairies hanger on Boss Goodman called what else but "He's The Boss"!

Well, if you want me to be honest about it (and why not?) I'll admit that I had a fun time listening to this; reminded me of the days when Stiff Records seemed like such a great record label with loads of interesting and admittedly varied acts all done up in a nice, self-produced sorta way. And it had a good history about it with an eye towards the past and present heading us towards th future more or less. Of course, that was before Stiff decided to bank their fortunes on the likes of a whole slew of rather nondescript new wave groups who seemed to holler "WELCOME TO THE (yawn!) EIGHTIES!" a lot louder than Ronald Reagan ever could!

And I should 'fess up to the fact that gettin' an eyefulla of what the old Deviants/Fairies axis looks like these days was hard on the ol' psyche! Talk about the old and wrinklie types they've all turned out to be this far down the rock & roll line! Then again it's seems as if everybody's getting older these days, everybody except me, but can I help it if I am so well-preserved that I still have the body of a three-year-old, with a mind to match???

I can remember when this platter first hit the record shops, and why not with that cleavage-filled cover bound to give any 14-year-old a good tingleling in the kajoobies! Of course the wasted blond is the only thing that SIXTEEN AND SAVAGED has goin' for it! Michael Des Barres ain't exactly another David fact he ain't even a halfway decent Jay Gatsby whom at least could milk the nipple-ring'd glam teat for all it was worth. Musicwise it's just more of that middling-energy seventies "hard" rock trying to be brash and pose-conscious going nowhere except to a future of duff reviews courtesy the likes of Joe Fernbacher in THE SHAKIN' STREET GAZETTE. Sounds like somebody at MCA's idea of what decadence was all about, and if they played their cards right maybe Silverhead coulda made the best use of their label's prowess like maybe scored a cameo in the next episode of POLICE WOMAN 'r sumthin'.
Various Artists-EPITAPH FOR A LEGEND c-CD set (International Artists/Charly, England)

Now that I got this new deluxe double set complete with a neet li'l booklet replicating the original Lelan Rogers liner notes and a whole load of other fundries all I gotta say is that I can sure rest at night knowing that I don't have to bother looking for one of those slim-case double-Cee Dee holders for my Collectables version which got crunched up in transit way too many years ago!

But all funnin' aside this is a nice package done up like those other International Artists packages Charly has been offerin' us o'er the past few years. Everything's nice and in place with new notes interminglin' with the old and a nice glisten to the entire affair. It's sure nice seeing something the likes of an International Artists collection getting the royal treatment 'stead of just shoved out onto the market by the same kinda people who push Ken-L Rations on pacified pet owners.

And of course the recordings themselves...I remember when this 'un first came out thirty years ago and it sure seemed like the gosh-it-all ultimate garage band collection. Of course the price was way prohibitive esp. for people like myself who hadda subsist on pennies picked outta urinals, but thankfully through the miracle of home taping I was able to at least hear the long-lost goodies that make up this collection from one of the wildest independent labels to ever come outta the United States. (So wild that Greg Prevost once wrote that none other than Ohr records was like the German answer to what IA were doin' these neck o' the sphere!)

Highlights include the massive Roky/Elevators material which remained unheard for ages (ya gotta remember that even the Spades reissue nor many of the IA albums didn't make its way to the Western Pee-YAY area unless they happened to hit the Zayres bargain bins when we weren't lookin') as well as those stripped-down Red Crayola demos that had more'n a few doggies howling early-eighties English underground hosannas given the universal nature of it all. The straight garage band tracks are also worth the price of admission (I especially warmed up to the Emperors' "I Want My Woman" even if these guys were a pre-Texas Rogers production) while the blues stuff well...doesn't offend you like way too many years of Robert Cray-inspired sophistcado showoffisms do. Coulda used that one Endle St. Cloud single which is supposed to be so weird it ended up on Erik Lindgren's list of top psychedelic nutjobs back in the last issue of TAKE IT!, but that's probably on one of those extra-deluxe International Artists 10-CD box sets none of us could ever hope to afford (but then again I never thought I would be able to afford this one in its original configuration and I managed to track one down...ten years after the fact but man I did get it!).

Is this the real MAX'S KANSAS CITY VOLUME ONE? Don't laugh, for back in the Autumn '75 to '76 season Max's was booking a lotta blues amidst the New York underground and (shudder) weekend disco to the point where the club even gets a handy plug in this elpee's liner notes alongside such other legendary beergardens as the Bitter End and Folk City. And at least three of the acts who pop up on this platter, Paul Oscher's Chicago Breakdown Blues Band, Sugar Blues Band and the Dicey-Ross Blues Band were pretty much regulars at Max's around the time this album was unleashed why not think of this as yet another Max's album especially if you consider that Ratcage sampler from the early oh-oh's to have been the latest in a long line of disques emanating from that hallowed haunt!

Maybe I should disqualify myself given how I am not exactly a follower of the blues situation but I will admit that this record did jive with me at least as any mid-seventies artyfact that had a connection of the New York underground would. Oscher's group had a particularly potent approach to 'em as did the Dicey-Ross bunch and fortunately they didn't reach into that horrid whiteguy styling which got a whole lotta outright dweebs thinkin' they were ninety-year-old Mississippians with TB. Sugar Blues actually suited me better if not for the sexy gal bassist as well as the fact they had no drummer which gives their sound a particularly basement-level appreciation. The rest is more of the real deal blues (meaning these were recorded by actual survivors and not a buncha youngster upstarts!) with a special appearance by Spivey herself and nothing I'd care to ignore in its stripped down, certainly not backed by any major industry way which kinda ruined the appeal of this stuff for me long ago!
Tiny Tim-LOST & FOUND 1963-1974 (Rare & Unreleased Recordings) LP (Secret Seven)

There must be tons of this stuff flying around, but at least the folks at Secret Seven gathered up a few choice rarities covering Herbert Buckingham Khaury's just pre/post fame acetate and extremely rare singles and slapped 'em onto two good ol' timey vinyl sides for our (standby for upcoming cliche) "dining and dancing pleasure".
A nice selection it is too featuring everything from ancient heart tuggers like "When You And I Were Young, Maggie" (which you may remember from a set-shaking scene in the Buster Keaton Educational comedy THE TIMID YOUNG MAN) to some really good takes on current hits like "Maggie May" and Tom Jones' "Delilah" which have their own rustic charm. Sheesh, I gotta say that I really admire the version of Jonathan Edwards' early-seventies "relevant" antiwar hit "Sunshine" where Tim actually changed "damned" to "darned"...good to see that somebody was looking out for the morals of youth back then even though it obviously didn't do 'em much good!

These sides (some dating as early as 1963) show Tim to have been a whole lot more versatile that all of the oldsters who thought he was "mocking" their generation would dare to admit, and even a guy who ain't even a Tim follower by any stretch of the imagination such as I found this a pretty enjoyable set-down sounding as much 1912 as they did 1966. Coulda used some early pre-fame snaps and more in-depth historical background but I guess they're saving all of that for the biography, eh?
BEFORE I GO, I thought I'd hip you readers to the crucial fact that the Le Stelle di Mario Schifano album DEDICADO has just been reissued on Cee-Dee by the English Relics label! Yes, in case you are one of the few reg'lar BLOG TO COMM readers who don't possess a copy of your very own now's your chance to experience this album by Italy's very own Velvet Underground who just happened to have been mentored by Italy's very own Andy Warhol, and in case you haven't read the scores of reviews which followed the release of the Italian Akarma edition you'll know that this is a pretty important platter to grace your ear canals indeed! Unfortunately this reissue, although up-to-par in the sound department, lacks the repro'd original booklet and overall pop art feel of the Akarma deal and for that should be had only if you somehow can't find the original reish. (And that shouldn't be that hard to do with a little bloodhound work considering the thing's only a few year's old.) You do get a brief history on the insert card, but nothing exactly spectacular other than the fact that Gerard Malanga joined the group on-stage at least once, presumably doing his whip dance whilst the band did their darndest to replicate the EPI experience. That must have been back when the Warhol sidekick took a trip to dagoland back '67 way and met up not only with the Stelle guys but local popsters Equipe 87 who wanted to perform "Heroin" and actually asked Malanga to write to Lou Reed to get permission to do so! Hmmmm, never expected Italy to have been a hotbet of Velvet Underground activity back then but I guess they had quite a following even if Equipe came off more like an Italian Standells, and with four Tony Valentinos at that!


howardx said...

"but then again we can't all be Byron Coley."


been checking out those tracy reissues, amazing how little artwork is actually required!

Christopher said...

Well, considering how I believe Coley to be the best scribe to come outta the eighties quagmire of rock screed I gotta tastefully disagree with your first assessment. And as for the second well...ain't that the gosh darndest charm about the whole thang???

Lester Bangs said...

I wouldnt trust the new version of CREEM magazine that is up and running as well as being hyped on facebook?

yeah Phoebe legere PROMISED me that she will do her best to do another summer residency

howardx said...

we'll agree to disagree about coley then, i always found myself wondering if he liked stuff JUST because it was weird and or obscure. personally had more fun reading your zine than FE over the years.

the tracy stuff is stark and basic but still works for me.

Peter Crowley said...

Hey Chris,

I'm pretty sure Victoria Spivey's last public appearance was at Max's just before she died.

BTW, My favorite new album (CD) is Reform School Girl by Nick Curran and The Lowlifes. He's no slouch as a bluesman either, and on another disc, does a bang up cover of NO FUN in the style of late '40s R'n'B.