Saturday, August 13, 2011

Continuing with my summer series of half-hearted and rather weak-spined posts here are a number of items that have graced my ears since last week. A few newies here, maybe an oldie and who knows, I might even catch the spirit and surprise you with something outta left field even if at this point in time I'd be lucky to get by with a bunt. Which is, perhaps the best term I can think of to describe the situation I find my life in at this stage of the game!

Naturally when I first discovered the existence of these guys (via some old CBGB listings, always a good place to seek out rock obscurities whether worthy or not from the seventies on) I had 'em figured as being just another buncha p-rock scrunchers who were more or less one of the half-million or so underground acts to've made their way through the New York environs since the days of the original under-the-cover bands. After noting their appearance opening for Bo Diddley at some rival venue I thought otherwise...turns out that this group, despite the rather undue attention-grabbing moniker, were pretty much into the much-heralded roots  movement and had put this rarity of a platter out in the meantime. And it's a really great showcase too featuring Mr. Miserable and company romping through a variety of styles old and new and with some surprising results in store for us totally unaware doofuses.

Gotta admit that some of this did kinda float by me due to a more'n common new wave cum fifties sound that had local bar bands donning thin ties and white shirts, but most of the wormitude to be found here is rather authentic, listenable and downright adjective-inducing in a positive way. Lots of this will recall various seventies purveyors of the fifties way of living from the Kama Sutra-era Flamin' Groovies to the New Legion Rock Spectacular and even if there seems to be a certain tinge of "eighties" permeating the tracks I can ignore it if just this once. Highlight's a raving cover of the Treniers' "Rockin' Is Our Business" which might prove that rock 'n roll perhaps did die in 1953, and what we've been hearing for the past fiftysome years is nothing but an alien life form that managed to overtake the stenching corpse. Well, that would explain Lady Caga.

Here''s another one I discoverd thanks to pouring through old CBGB listings, an early-eighties offering from experimental composer Linda Hudes who at that time was not only one of the many musicians passing through the Love of Life Orchestra but was leading her own trio on the side. Now, the "power trio" portion of the tag might be a bit misleading considering how the term always seemed to denote a guitar/bass guitar/drums lineup, but I ain't gonna hold it against her for labeling her act as such. And besides, this ain't anything as doldrums as Triumph so why should I pick nits anyway? As you might guess, this 'un does have much of that early-eighties En Why See sound and feel to it and if you were one of those who had an interest in the LOLO then you'll probably like this

'un just as much. Not quite as disco-wave (yet still interesting) as the Orchestra's EXTENDED NICETIES platter but I thought it was a pretty good spin and take on the early-eighties En Why underground, with an electronic keyboard sound assisted by trumpet and drums making for something a little bit outta the ordinary. Kinda like Rhys Chatham in spots, with a little Love of Life here and there and quite pleasing in its subdued, even artsy way. Thankfully the early-eighties ultra-dreaded pretension factor is toned way down with a clearer, experimental approach to "new music" firmly in place and you don't feel like a pretentious twat listening to it like you did with a whole lotta other new wave fodder of the day!. And hey, what else are you gonna wanna be spending your eight dollars on these days...or let me put it this way...what else is there for you to spend your eight dollars on anyway???

SOME U.S.; FIVE-FIFTY ($5 Director's Cut) (chapbooks by Jim D. Deuchars)

If I were some kinda intellectual yet tough gutsy streetwise writer along the lines of Studs Terkel or Norman Mailer complete with raincoat I'd probably rant and rev about Deuchar's tough and gutsy writing abilities and how the guy really could take a word and spin it in ways that makes cotton candy look like Molly Ringworm's hair. I could but I won't because hey, I don't even own a raincoat! But this Deutchers guy is a pretty good relayer of inner ungh and someone who even makes a guy who thinks a lotta this poesy's just more jive to toss at the beret and stale doritos crowd wanna sit up and take notice. I mean, I'm one guy who'd sure like to know just exactly who this Zelda Sayer woman was, or who "America's Newest Tom Mix John Wayne hero" is for that matter. And hey, he's even got my attention held a whole lot more'n that Bill Shute guy ever did!  (Betcha sorry you ever gave me these chapbooks, eh Bill???)

All funnin' aside both of these typically ltd. ed. collections do have a few (actually, more'n a few) interesting bright spots to 'em...FIVE-FIFTY's a selection of personal musings and reminiscences including the one where Deuchars sits at the grave of the aforementioned Mrs. Sayer who reportedly burned to death some 39 years back. Lotsa questions do arise, like what does Deutchars have to do with this woman and why is he "resting at (his) lover's breast"??? Part travelogue and part inner turmoil catharsis, this one does hold interest esp. during the evening chairside music listening sessions that usually get the old fanzine treatment. And it is comforting to know that Deuchars was a soda jerk at one point in time just like the rest of us (talkin' the jerk part at least).

Speaking of travelogues, SOME U. S. is kinda like a travelogue of sorts yet in no certain terms is this another dullsville trip through Ameriga  like TRAVELS WITH CHARLIE!!! In fact, I wish my High School English teacher (Sophomore year) woulda had us read this read 'stead of that Steinbeck snoozer because frankly, this does enlight and inspire a whole lot more. Well, at least it wasn't A SEPARATE PEACE, but bad teaching decisions aside SOME U. S.  is a swing through the Western portion of them thar United States as seen through the pen of Deuchars, a swing which surprisingly recalls trips through the same terrain I made on a fambly trip during my barely-into-the-double-digit days only the stuff I seem to recall are the motel rooms and local tee-vee shows as well as eating hush puppies with my fish dinners. If I ever put out a chapbook THIS is the stuff that will be mentioned, but in Deuchar's world it's the dark and dank still of the natural landscape. Kinda moving at times, kinda eh at others, but as the pundits say a force to be reckoned with.

Bill Shute might have some (see KSE linkup on left) but if I were he I'd burn all of the copies that I had if only to save my own skin! Again all kidding aside, these books are pretty indicative of a talented wordspinner who certainly's going the starving artist route and hey, even a thick skuller like myself can ooze some nice pathos and deep down feeling outta these. YOU won't but then again I've given up second guessing the thoughts and actions of you reg'lar readers looooong ago!
Les Rallizes Denudes-LE 12 MARS 1977 A TACHIKAWA 2-CD set  (Over Level, France)

It's kinda funny thinking that with the way I've been pouring through tons of Les Rallizes Denudes Cee-Dee box sets and reissues of varying quality I haven't touched this, the first easily-available Denudes reissue, perhaps since I first purchased the item a good decade or so back. And since I've been wearing all of my other Denudes platters down to a nub I figure why not give this 'un, a set which I'm sure introduced most of you to the sounds of this long-lived Japanese underground rock aggregation, yet another go? Well, it would be a better (and cheaper) bet than re-buying up all of those recent reissues of the Phoenix label that I've already had for quite some time.

Great sound and a pretty good selection of the standard Denudes set of the day. Includes all of the show stoppers that were part and parcel to the seventies Denudes set including their grande finale "The Last One" which features that same ominous riff for a good twenny-five-plus minutes. Also standing out are such winners as "Fire Ice" which also takes the repeato-riff base mode  and tops it off with some fanatastic distorto feedback screech courtesy Takashi Mizutani and of course that one with the imitation fifties riff that reminds me of something Peter Laughner might have whipped up in his spare time. Overall the performance ain't as grabbing as some of the other shows floating around but hey, it's here and it's NOW (Forced Exposure has 'em) and if you never heard the group before well like, this could be a good place to start.
An interesting bit of whimsy that seems to be making more and more sense as time bubbles on:
There was Mr. Edward Carpenter, who thought we should in a very short time return to Nature, and live simply and slowly as the animals do. And Edward Carpenter was followed by James Pickie, D.D. (of Pocohontas College), who said that men were immensely improved by grazing, or taking their food slowly and continuously, after the manner of cows. And he said that he had, with the most encouraging results, turned city men out on all fours in a field covered with veal cutlets. Then Tolstoy and the Humanitarians said that the world was growing more merciful, and therefore no one would ever desire to kill. And Mr. Mick not only became a vegetarian, but at length declared vegetarianism doomed (“shedding,” as he called it finely, “the green blood of the silent animals”), and predicted that men in a better age would live on [Pg 17] nothing but salt. And then came the pamphlet from Oregon (where the thing was tried), the pamphlet called “Why should Salt suffer?"-Gilbert Kenneth Chesterton; THE NAPOLEON OF NOTTING HILL
YEAH, I KNOW THAT LISTENING TO OTHER PEOPLE'S DREAMS CAN BE BORING UNLESS YOU HAPPEN TO BE IN THE DREAM, but this 'un was so vivid as well as rockist-oriented (thus adhering to the strict confines of this blog) that I just hadda relay it to ya. I was watching, in typical mid-sixties slightly faded video/kinescope quality, a rock 'n' roll film that I believe was shot in England (given the number of British Invasion-era types of artists who were appearing in it)  whose title I forget, but at one point during the dream I believed I was watching THE TAMI SHOW if only because I could swear having just seen the Barbarians doing "Hey Little Bird" complete with the imitation Beatle bow at the end. But what I clearly remember viewing in this film was amazing, from wild r/b to other strangeities. Amongst the latter was this one act that looked as if middle-aged Englishmen, some pretty craggy at that, had grown their hair into Prince Valiant cuts (the singer/guitarist even sporting a moustache), took up rock instruments, and sang some old war song about battles gone by! There were even signs above each of the members giving their names as if this would turn the screaming teenage audience onto 'em the same way flashing the names of each Beatle on that one ED SULLIVAN appearance would only impact the entire craziness of it all.

But the wildest act to be seen in this film was that of Johnny Mansell, who while a typically Ray Charles "What'd I Say" riff progressed was seen standing up playing a small drum kit akin to the one the Feelies used to sport on the side of their stage setup! And get this, he was playing it with mallets whose tips looked like toilet floats, and while he was banging away at his little set while standing up Maureen Tucker-style two female members of the band came on in evening gowns and fancy sixties hairdos, one heading for the grand piano in back of Mr. Mansell while the other grabbed what looked like an electric lyre (not an autoharp!) which was made from the body of a Fender electric bass guitar, began fiddling with the dials and controls thus creating this weird electronic sound before she began plucking it with professional ease!

The other part of the dream had to do with a strange war movie I was watching which I believe took place during the Korean conflict where an American solider contemplates whether or not to murder a prisoner of war he took in due to logistics. He's either contemplating making a deal with him to run away and give him a "head start" so he would at least have a fighting chance to survive, or just shoot him outright. The thing is, he's become friends with his prisoner which makes it all the harder on him. Part of the movie had an artsy, surrealistic scene dealing with Chairman Mao and some old-fashioned marionettes that looked as if they were constructed during the 1940's even if their dress was more or less out of the 1890's. Kinda Godard-ish if those clips I've seen of his films can be believed.
After reading all of the above the only thought that crosses my mind is...wotta disappointment!!! But hey, if you think next weekend's post is gonna be any better, maybe you better dream on a whole lot more than I have been these past few weeks! And I don't think that Johnny Mansell's gonna be hanging around anywhere near your cranium!!!

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