Saturday, August 27, 2011

Hey, how do you like this recent photo of me anyway? Yeah, it's not quite as flattering as I had hoped it woulda been plus I had my eyes closed, but you gotta admit that I really know how to flash those pearly whites o' mine! And that's just what you will be doing when you read the batch of writeups and other sundries that I've presented for your edification, or perhaps mortification for that matter. (Did I ever use that one before? I'm sure more than a few out there since the dawn of time must have!) But looking at that snap on the left does remind me of something strange...dunno if it's the slides from my recent trip to Mammoth Cave or perhaps a new Italian dish I haven't heard of yet! Kinda does look like calamari in tomato sauce which makes me wonder why the attending physician didn't sprinkle some Romano cheese on it as a practical joke!

Yeah, I know that I'm leaving myself wide open to a whole array of sneers and putdowns for posting this snap, but(t) I thought it would be rather appropriate to show you readers yet another side of me that's rarely seen by the public at large, a side that's not always delved into and in fact may even be too painful to probe. If you have any juicy witticisms to add to the above, feel free to send 'em in. Which doesn't mean I'll necessarily publish 'em, but I can sure use a whole lot more interesting jokes and asides to swipe from and claim as my own.

Before I get into the standard if not-so-inspiring reviews let me say a word or two about Facebook. Thanks to the many who wished me a happy birthday, but for some strange reason I couldn't post any direct comments thanking you for the well-wishing (or post anything else, at least comment-wise, for that matter) which is really vexing especially when some of you reg'lar commentators come up with some wingding political comments that just beg to be rectified (hmmm, shoulda worked that word into the above somewhere!). I have in the past posted a few li'l asides regarding somethingorother once in a blue ball, but frankly as far as being a huge part and parcel upfront Facebook aficionado I'm afraid that technology has somehow stumped me this time. Dunno what ever happened to the "publish" button on the comment section, but until this problem is worked out I will remain a rather frustrated li'l computer ignoramus.
Venison Whirled-XIBALBA mini-CD (Kendra Steiner Editions)

If it weren't for Bill Shute you probably wouldn't be reading anything special this weekend, for the guy actually made sure to send me a heapin' hunkin' envelope filled to the brim with not only this particular effort recorded for his very own label, but a burn of a rare Archie Shepp album (see following writeup) as well as some DVD-R's that'll probably get interspersed with the various Brad Kohler and Lou Rone items that have been taking up my ever-shrinking leisure time as of late. And this one is a doozy, twenty minutes of fine free form flanging from an act known as Venison Whirled (a name which I believe derives from what happens to a lot of deer on dark country roads), otherwise the efforts of a lass named Lisa Cameron who sure knows how to handle a whole lot of electronic equipment with the same dexterity that Marlene Dietrich had in snapping off Hattie McDaniel's bra straps!

Two songs here (yeah, Don Fellman always gets on my case for referring to compositions or any sort of musical endeavors with the vague and misleading terminology of "songs", but can you think of a better way for me to keep up my image as an earthy, uneducated yet maniacal fan and follower of the free bop? Besides, I always forget what word I am supposed to use!). "Dark Rift" features Cameron on a lap steel guitar and Tibetan bowl, which I guess is the thing that the Dalai Lama relieves himself in since his b.m.'s are sacred unlike our stinking offal and they gotta be kept somewhere special. If you can imagine Jimmy Page bowing his guitar with an electric carving knife while running it through an ARP you might get an idea of what this one sounds like. You might also get a good idea of just how dry the well of creative comparisons in my mind has become these past few eons, but then again that's my problem not yours.

"Vortex Compression" is an equally haunting number, perhaps even a downright calmer as it is nothing but electronic tones akin to a pretty hip refrigerator turning itself on which helps unwind the knots in your neck and clip off the split ends of your nerves like nothing since Valium. A good late-night relaxer which, according to the back cover, was performed on an "amplified space/time membrane". Hope that's not what I THINK it is!

Bill gave us a pretty good 'un with this Whirling Venison offering. You know where to get it (check the blog link ups on the left!) and you know you'll have to hurry, since there were only 89 of these buggers pressed and I'll betcha they're gonna sell faster'n pirohy in Youngstown!

The other Shute giveaway, and an expected ear-opener at that considering how alla these small label Euro Shepp albums always had a certain raw gut feel to 'em that was lacking on the Impulse albums I've heard. This 'un was recorded 10/21/67, just over four months after the death of Big Daddy of 'em all John Coltrane (a guy I definitely would appreciate a whole lot more if only dweeb hippie types and ditzy fru fru religions didn't seem intent on making him a bloody saint which his personal life would tend to say otherwise), and you can hear the angst of it all strongly in Shepp's angry playing, which this time seems a whole lot angrier'n it had been and would be once the black power mantra became a little more driving and perhaps downright seditious!

One track here split over two sides, and it's appropriately titled "One For Trane" which I guess predates all of those other Coltrane tribs that began pouring out for a good five or so years after his own deep-sixing. It's a fitting one too starting off with this percussion workout soon abetted by the bass of Coltrane alumni Jimmy Garrison and some trombone intercession (there are two of 'em here, Shepp regular and token whitey Roswell Rudd's and Grachan Moncur III) before Shepp himself enters into the picture playing some pretty fringe scree before gettin' all soulzy just like we like him. Mood goes from dark to flippant and fast, and given the high energy quotient of this set and Shepp's own imaginative stylings it's not hard to see just how much the MC5 were swiping ideas left and right not only from Shepp but a good hunk of the players on the new thing circuit which only goes to show you just how far back the avant garde jazz and punk rock continuum was intertwining even before anyone was smart enough to give it a name!

One final thing, the drummer on this set's none other than Shepp regular and eventual leader in his own right Beaver Harris. Fellmen was telling me a funny story about how Harris earned his unique nickname, and it wasn't because the guy has buck teeth or anything along those lines! Let's just say that ol' Don thought that Harris should have had another nickname, but given the family orientation of this blog I will refrain from divulging it unless I am invited to speak at a sex education seminar or perhaps a Lamb's Club smoker!
Various Artists-BEAT THIS; THE BROOKLYN BEAT COMPILATION cassette (Brooklyn Beat)

I've already prattled on many a time about how I'm more'n willing to take a chance on some obscure New York-area underground obscurity from the seventies on if only to discover what could be a really great albeit unheralded act that shoulda made it as big as alla them winners who made flea market and bargain bin hunting all the better throughout the 1976-1983 season. And true, I might not exactly be lookin' for a new Velvet Underground or Television in the batch, but I'd be more'n happy if I could latch hold of a new Sidewinders or Hackamore Brick. Yeah, many of the groups that I do get to hear fall way short of the, er, proper criteria, but I have the feeling that the ways the odds are I'm just BOUND to hear a group that'll certainly snap the synapses in my cranium more sooner than later.

Foolhardy chance-taker that I am, I decided to latch onto this particular cassette collection that came out during the certainly non-underground friendly year of 1990. Considering that these acts were being pushed by a small local label and that many of the acts here have popped up on various CBGB bills t'boot, I just had this strange feeling that some might've captured that certain oomph that made for rather interesting outta-the-way listening. And hey, for years I've been looking for more'n a few groups that would've excited even jaded me this long after rock 'n roll as a fabled youth movement had become deader'n Chuck Eddy's writing career! Yeah, I did get the feeling that the strange spectre of eighties MTV-era music "criteria" would ooze into the mix, but I figured that if I could enjoy various new wave-y efforts by a number of seventies survivors of worth (Velveteen, Comateens...) maybe I could derive some pleasure outta these local yokels who were probably aiming for the same big time that got the Del Fuegos endorsing beer back when nobody even knew who the guys were!

Needless to say, there really ain't any new Hackamore Bricks or even Tuff Darts on this sampler of "Brooklyn Beat" acts. A durn shame considerin' the ever-growin' hunger inside of me (or is that just my musical tapeworm acting up?) that's making me yearn for the return of Richard Robinson with a greater vengeance'n anything! Most if not all's just reeking that typical En Why mid/late-eighties style, definitely post-seventies underground accomplishment yet nothing near as exciting as a Thundertrain or Manster for that matter. Yet it ain't exactly of the ginchy goochy  eighties glop wave that made me discharge of a good portion of my late-seventies collection figurin' that any music that could lead to the gunk being produced during the eighties perhaps wasn't as forward looking and cutting edge as all of those high class rock critics said it was.

To be totally honest (as opposed to being just halfway honest in order to spare your easily bruised feelings) the tracks which had some definite sixties garage influx and pop sensibilities did sound fine enough for me to seek out yet another Brooklyn Beat collection recorded live at where else but CBGB, Formaldehyde Blues Train, the Original Rays and the Squirrels from Hell fell enough into this category to have me thinkin' that maybe they woulda fared better with a more 1976 frame of mind 'stead of the mid-eighties production values that were pumped into this effort. The Moe had a good handle on pseudo-reggae protest pop, while Frank's Museum and Marcel Monroe actually came off palatable once I got the sleek ooze of their def. 1986 pop orientations outta my system.

Even old pros Jing and Chemical Wedding whom I've written about before sound nice albeit not as strong as they were on that CBGB sampler that came out a few years earlier. And yeah, the kinda post-wave pop which appears on this tape that was trying to retain some semblance of seventies grit doesn't always work and in fact drove me to fits of rage at the time, but given a good quarter-century rose-colored rear-view mirror lookbacks I now find acts like these way more engaging than they were in the mid-eighties. Considering just what there was on the eighties under-the-counterculture scene during that grade zilch decade maybe I shoulda been paying more attention to groups like these and less towards the ever-flagging pseudo-garage band revival as well as the hippie hardcore rantings and ravings of people I wouldn't trust to run a brothel let alone an entire nation, but then again given what a structural mess eighties punkitude was I'm lucky I got to hear what I did so maybe I should keep my trap shut just this once!

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