It's a hard life being a rockscreeding genius who like my namesake seems to have the entire weight of this doggone world on his shoulders. Well, at least there are those little things in life that make my rather dreary existence a lot less burdensome and at time downright enjoyable...amongst these little oases in a desert of gulcheral waste are the music that sets me free (seventies relevancy lives!), high quality old-timey television gunk and of course hunkerin' down and reading some affects you in the "right" way rock writing that's guaranteed to resensify the sagging-lower-than-your-mommy's-tits spirits that seem to envelop all of us here in 201X Ameriga (and beyond). Once in awhile I can find some high-energy rock-oriented scribbling on the web even if I don't have to dish out bucks for a year's subscription to ROCK'S BACK PAGES (a total gyp...I mean, rock writing's for the PEOPLE, man!), but more often than not I have to comb through by boxes of class seventies-oriented fanzines and Lester Bangs-helmed issues of CREEM to get myself a proper fix. And, as you already know, everything (including this blog) after 1981 does not mean a dad-burned thing, and no matter how hard we squint our eyes and pretend it to be.
Two things that have been keeping my life energy forces afloat this past week have been the arrival of some classic rock-scribed papers, both of 'em birthed during the transitional year of 1976 and just brimming with enough high-class rockist revelations to keep me going for at least another week w/o having to succumb to massive withdrawal symptoms. As for the first...well, I must 'fess up to the fact that this particular issue of THE NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS I've gotten my mitts on is the first one I've actually purchased as opposed to thumbed through or borrowed IN MY ENTIRE LIFE, and having an actual copy to have as my very own certainly is a momentous occasion for future biographers to chronicle in whatever e-book on me will undoubtedly be written in the distant future. And if the particular ish that I nabbed (November 27th) was indicative of the entire run of the classic Kent/Murray/Farren/MacDonald period of NME history then all I can say is I SURE MISSED OUT ON A WHOLE BARREL-LOAD OF LIFE-REAFFIRMING, HIGH-ENERGY ROCKIST SCREEDING WHICH I SURE COULD HAVE USED BACK WHEN THE SOUNDS CRITIQUED IN THESE PAGES WERE ALIVE AND THROBBING 'STEAD OF 35+-YEAR-OLD FADED MEMORIES!!! Dramatic enough for you?, but all kidding aside only a doofus would think that NME wasn't a quality rock paper and the fact that they were able to get one out on a weekly basis is only proof that there was a lotta musical talent over there on both sides of the biz and hey, the closest thing we could get to such snide attitude high-spiff writing over here was CREEM and that was a monthly (and perhaps even spotty) publication if I must say so.
Maybe there's one drawback to this particular ish, that being there's not enough Nick Kent in this 'un (and the featured review of his is on none other than his personal favorite Joni Mitchell [?!?!?!?!?] and her HEJIRA album, and for the life of me I can't understand how these smart rock types like Kent and Eddie Flowers who are supposed to know better could snuggle up to such a watered-down folkie diz as Mitchell unless they're trying to gross out the phony hipster contingent!), but other frontline rock screeders like Charles Shaar Murray are thankfully in full force, him doing reviews of both the recently-released CBGB and Max's platters that heartily fit in well with Lisa Robinson's three-page article on the very same scene that was just now being documented via vinyl! That one typically dishes out the dirt on all of the big names on the New York scene but manages to sneak a few obscuros in to sweeten the pot, but like I said long ago it was scribbling like this that made pimply BO-laden teenage girls wanna run away from home and really make it big on the LES! (You might notice that I didn't mention his mostly favorable review of a Jim Croce Greatest Hits collection...well, we can't second guess our favorites all of the time!) Of course we have to wade through pages of Julie Burchill and Tony Parsons dung droppings to get to the good stuff (though I should admit that I thought the Parsons/Paul Morley piece on the Manchester punk scene was quite gulpable), but what else would you have expected from those sniveling working-class pretenders anyway? I gotta say I like this Angie Errigo who does a few second-string articles...whatever happened to her?
***The NEW YORK ROCKER I snatched up was published around the same time as the NME above and yeah, it sure does ooze the same under-the-counterculture cool with its coverage of an entire up-and-coming movement that seemed to woosh by the collective minds of teendom USA at least until it was way too late. Long before the paper was beholden to corporate interests and boasted a melange of writers both excellent (Byron Coley, Miriam Linna, Peter Holsapple...) and dire (the rest), NYR had its thumb on the pulse of the lower Manhattan rock scene and covered it about as well as one could expect given the mag's penchant for playing favorites and dismissing certain acts that I probably would have rah-rah'd to the rafters!
By this ish (#5, Dec. '76) NYR had discarded its original MIDNIGHT/TATTLER-styled layout and adopted the look it would keep until the early-eighties when the mag had been reduced to hyping the usual post-gnu wave flashes. But don't fear, for this 'un has all of the original SPIRIT and FORTITUDE that made picking up an issue a mostly pleasant educate yourself for once affair. Patti Smith and collaborator Robert Mapplethorpe take center stage this go 'round, each getting massive space and the latter an interview courtesy Victor Bokris, who I guess was kicking around even this early in the game! Some unheralded BLOG TO COMM faves as the Planets and Harry Toledo even get much-needed press via interviews where both acts get to discuss some deeply held beliefs and thoughts, some of which might even surprise you! Other faves such as Richard Hell and Wayne County also pop up, and for you old JAMZ fans Alan Betrock (one-time editor-in-chief and backbone) reviews some current more mainstream-ish pop faves like Flo and Eddie which probably won't surprise you one bit. For you English punque freaks, the always entertaining Kris Needs did a piece on the Clash which obviously was a harbinger of things to come and in case you're Imants Krumins there are the fun facts and discography regarding those Swedish claims to fame Abba to keep you more than occupied!
The whole ish only serves to remind me of the energy and hope via music as the INTERNATIONAL YOUTH LANGUAGE that was being offered to kids in the seventies that seemed to promise us a much brighter future than the ones our elders had in mind. Makes me sad to think of what is being offered to the same type of ignored and loathed kids around these days...I mean, where is the medium for them to vent their loathing via the power of sound? Sheesh, if I were a teen these days I'd either be taking the past sixty years of bared-wire intensity and filter it through modern technology to create a force to be feared, or be doped up in some institution until I'm 21 and can legally be executed. And really, sometimes I think the latter choice is the obvious better of the two!
***Even a self-centered egotist such as myself must admit that there ain't that much review fodder this go 'round, but that doesn't exactly mean that I've been shirking off my doodies. I have been toiling away on this blog, REALLY, though most of my attention has been directed towards future theme-oriented posts which aren't exactly time-dated and which I can post whenever the spirit moves me or inspiration fails. The rest of the time I'm doing fine-tuning on already-published posts that might even more "awkward" than this particular one (yes, it does show). Most of the time I'm trying to make these posts as upbeat and as zoomin' at'cha as possible which can be pretty difficult when I'm undergoing yet another one of my bouts with real life that can take more than a li'l bitta the wind outta my colorectal system, but trudge on I must and I know that, in the long run, somebody's gonna make a mint on my corpse.
In order to ease the strain of such realities as work and utter fear I have been spending a few hours in front of the Dee-Vee-Dee player watching a variety of items such as the MISSION: MAGIC series which I wrote up for you a few days back. (Apologies to Bill Shute for not having cracked the MIKE HAMMER disques that he shipped my way a pretty long time ago...I wiil latch onto 'em pronto, as soon as I get enough goof off time as Beaver would say!) Of course amongst the platters I have been spinning in order to combat this rush of springtime ennui into my existence I do encounter a few that are, shall I say, not exactly within the bounds of BLOG TO COMM acceptability. And yeah, in NO WAY did I ever expect that I'd actually sit down for a viewing of that all-time wretcher SHIRLEY TEMPLE STORYBOOK but well...at least I had a good reason to eyeball at least one episode of this early-sixties NBC schmoozer which I will tell you about in a moment but sheesh, what a blogschpieler won't do for his art!
But why are you torturing us with such an appraisal of a program nobody who'd even bother to read this drek would care about you ask. Well, if it weren't for the appearance of Ed Wood stock player TOR JOHNSON as a sideshow wrestler who gets bested by Longstocking I certainly wouldn't have even bothered. Of course Johnson's mere presence would make me want to sit through just about anything to get to his particular scene and of course the 400-pound mound of muscle doesn't disappoint one bit esp. with his Swedish growl and cheezo acting abilities! Come to think of it, next to some of the performances found on SHIRLEY TEMPLE STORYBOOK Johnson might as well be John Barrymore...sheesh, casting really must have been scraping the bottom of the SAG for this living atrocity! If you want it bad enough, maybe your $1.06 bid the next time this turns up on ebay'll make you the proud (?) owner of your own copy!
***AND after all that, here are the writeups. Yeah, I know that I should be offering you more than this pittance all-important (or is that self-important?) blogmeister that I am, but let's just say that there is a whole lot still in the gestation stage that will either see birth within the next few months or get RU-486'd more sooner than later. Maybe you should be grateful that I was able to dish out this much given the stress and strain of life, but naturally none of you care one iota and I know it! Really, I am ashamed of you all for treating ME (who is perhaps the closest thing to a living treasure that can be found in the whole of blogdom) like a flash-in-the-pan peon nobody'll remember in a good year's time, but hey I've come to expect less of you so why should I even bother bringing it up in the first place?
A three-for-one shot here, all from Weasel Walter's I think legendary ugEXPLODE label. The first of these actually does feature Walter performing with longtime West Coast fave Henry Kaiser (a guy I never really rallied for even when he was working with Bruce Anderson) and New York "downtown" legend Charles K. Noyes doing a surprisingly pretty valid (and listenable, harsh like!) bit of jazz-via-rock here that doesn't sound all brainy and honed in on a late-eighties SOUND CHOICE frame of mind. Burmese is a San Francisco-based trio who sound pretty well sunk into the nineties hard-gunch sound that sprang outta a whole lot of modes which sprang outta other modes, some of which I even paid attention to back in the eighties. Imants Krumins would love it, and who knows maybe you will too. He might also like White Suns who also tread the same post-core sphere as Burmese although with a not-so-slightly different approach that I'm sure someone who is more cued into this music could tell me about. Three pretty bizarroid surprises that you'll probably up your schnoz at but if you're in it for the sheer grate perhaps you could not do much better.
Do you remember Earth People? I sure do, as if you didn't know by now. In case you don't remember, Earth People were this free jazz cum rock group that used to pop up at the Sunday night freestyle series held at the old CBGB Lounge, and they used to put up a pretty good wail of sound that I'm sure could have held its own had it appeared on the main CBGB stage not only in the twenty-first century but the prior thirtysome years as well. The wide array of free-jazz greats who served as actual Earth People from Kali Fasteau to Karen Borca to Karl Berger and a few more whose names'll come to be (Rashid Bakr?) was another reason for my ears to do a little perking, and the "no-names" in this act that was more or less "led" by drummer Andre Martinez and guitarist Doug Principato were pretty well-heeled themselves. What more do I want in a 21st century jazz-rock outfit treading on the accomplishments of the previous four decades anyway?
Earth People managed to release three good compact disques back inna day, but for some reason I passed on this 'un which was but one of a series of live platters that were planned but'll prob'ly never see the way outta the hershey tunnel. It's a good show they decided to commit to aluminum too, recorded at the FusionArt Museum in 2004 and featuring a rather decent lineup including longtime free jazz names Sabir Mateen and Francois Grillot which is something that might just snatch radar with a few of you "above-it-all" types who tuned into this blog to merely sneer, but then again I may be second guessing.
It's free jazz yet with a rather heavy rock bent to it, close to what fusion might have sounded like if it took on a more rock & roll approach 'stead of the rinkydink stylings of a Return to Forever to latch star to. In fact this might have passed as pretty bonafeed punkfunk had it made its rounds during the days of Ronald Shannon Jackson's Decoding Society and other boffo black acts trying to muscle in on the James Chance peddling free jazz to unaware suburban teens racket. Pretty straightforward, electric and downright hot stuff that not only makes me kinda angry that this group didn't go farther than it did, but that you (and I do mean YOU!) were too busy sticking your nose up some bigcity paper rock critic's ass to notice, or care.
Great sound, production and packaging which is nothing to complain about, though the use of a DR. SEUSS quote on the inner sleeve is something that did catch me off guard! Put me in the zoo indeed!
Archie's celebrating his seventieth? Sheesh, it only seems like twenty years ago I was buying up all of those books commemorating his fiftieth! I only hope that when they get to his seventy-fifth they'll reprint something other than the same familiar first appearance sagas that pop up in this and many of the various Archie reprint books that have been appearing these past thirty years.
But to be honest about it, at least Dark Horse has more on the ball than the previous Archie compilers. True the very first Archie as a 12-year-old story once again appears as well as one of two early versions(which have undoubtedly been made obsolete by the "Archie Sliding Scale") regarding the arrival of Veronica in Riverdale, but at least the editors decided to print all of the pertinent stories from the first issues of not only ARCHIE but BETTY AND VERONICA, JUGHEAD and REGGIE w/o the filler meaning that you don't have to wade through any Bumble the Bee-tective funny animal quap to get to the meat and potatoes. And what meaty morsels these are including some rare stories from ARCHIE #1 (all drawn by Bob Montana) as well as the usual guffaw-inducing tales taken from the late-forties appearance of the rest drawn by a George Frese who has none of Montana's fine workmanship but does a better-than-hack job if I do say so myself.
Surprisingly, I caught one joke in here that I'm downright startled slipped by the "approved reading" blue pencils at MLJ in a story dealing with Archie unwittingly irritating a traveling salesman on a train. When Archie's pet hen gets loose and hops into the salesman's berth thus causing havoc the guy complains to a typically 40s-esque cartoon Negro train porter that there's a chicken in his berth to which the porter responds "Well man, ah wouldn't advertise it!" (This is from the days when chicken, soon to be "chick", was hotcha slang for a member of the female gender making this a surprisingly risque sex joke snuck smack dab inna middle of what was supposed to be squeaky-clean cartoon fun and games! Sure I've seen worse, but we're talking 1942!)
Supposedly this is the first in a series reprinting the various Archie titles in chronological order and although I think I'll sit most of those out, this was a nice little indication of things that just might be coming your way.
***AND IN CLOSING..., here's a recent Jim Goad column I definitely thought was good 'un, why else would I want to share it with you! I figure that a hefty number of you readers have copies of his old ANSWER ME! magazine in your abodes and (in order to "look" hip to your compadres) claim to like them immensely even if they're base enough to "offend" even all of you collective Rocco Gibraltars, but can you take him as a commentator on a right wing site spouting off a lotta things that you might find beyond-the-pale though you're always at a loss of words when you're asked to explain why. Funny thing is, I pretty much agree with a hefty portion of what he says here even if it might be the fodder to lose more than a few of my vastly dwindling compatriots, but then again what else is old? I'll let you speculate as to what I might or might not cozy up to Goad-wise, but please, if you are a typical blog-perusing radical-rousing Thomas Hobbes-rooting collectivist-supporting type of human, I do hope I've ruined your day.