Sunday, August 21, 2011

I am not a liberal, but boy do I feel guilty! Guilty about still not being able to deliver on one of those old-timey in-depth blogposts that's just dripping with rare and pertinent information that's begin jetted from my obviously overworked brain to yours. Now, I must admit that I did have this extremely long, controversial and naturally thought-provoking post all packed and rarin' to go, but at the last minute (next to last, actually) I thought the thing needed a pretty good overhaul before it would be ready for your eyes to see. So that one'll have to wait until it's met my exacting standards of approval at which time it will be used either on a weekend where I really don't have anything special to say (and yeah, I can hear you naysayers champing at the bit about that straight line!) or when I'm away on biz or something equally noteworthy. Until then, chomp down on these discarded morsels of musical legacy gone by.

The Droogs-WANT SOMETHING LP (Skyclad)

Back inna late eighties, I seriously thought that groups like the Droogs were the only hope that we (meaning the remnants of whatever became of high energy rock fandom) had as far as returning rock et roll to its original, gnarly intent. Shows you what kind of a wild-eyed fanatic I sure used to be, but really, what groups out there (at least those who had the facilities to release produce) WERE fighting in the battle against squeaky-clean eighties aesthetics whether they be post-disco gnu wave, fluff metal, material gurl posturing and whatever else there was that made that decade such a tooth-pulling drag to live through? Sure there were plenty of worthwhile acts pounding the eighties pavement, but given the total miasma of those times how many of 'em really had a chance to make a difference? Did the Droogs have a chance to make a difference? Twennysome years later I gotta say that, despite all of the hard work and altruism and trying to create a rock-inspired kultur or scene to exist in, it all eventually went down the crapper of good intentions and naturally we're all the poorer for it.

Not that groups like the Droogs didn't give it more of the ol' college (radio) try, and on WANT SOME they sure knew how to rock out even if the mode of the music was speaking in more Bobby McFerrin kinda terms. Powerful high energy rock with more than just the sixties garage roots of the band showing. Imagine the second MC5 album filtered through the Flamin' Groovies circa Kama Sutra with perhaps a little nudge of what the Sonics should've sounded like around 1968, and what's even more surprising about it is that on this 'un the Albin/Clay team are supported by various Dream Syndicate special guests, and those guys're one act that I gave up on early in THEIR career. Maybe if at least four other acts sounding like this made their way into my record collection at the time I wouldn't keep thinking about how dismal the entire eighties/nineties/oughts era was for my own sense of personal being!

But its' a pretty great 'un from a group I kinda wish made more of a noise in the seventies back when their indie singles were boss enough that even mainstream mags would mention 'em in their "look, I'm hip" moments of inspiration. Considerin' just how much I've ben ignorin' this group's latterday efforts it's probably a good time to do an in-depth record dive and try to excavate everything that I can...
Screamin' Jay Hawkins-ITTY BITTY PRETTY ONE LP (Koala)

I always used to wonder about this Koala label outta Hendersonville TN which used to issue grey bordering on black market albums back in the v. late seventies A company  known for hijacking various old rarities and slapping cheap generic covers on 'em, Koala has issued, amongst a set of mid-sixties vintage Fendermen tracks presumably recorded in Canada as well as various Monkees demos, this collection of some Screamin' Jay Hawkins hens teeth material. Turns out these crafty pseudo-bootleggers merely copped the 1972 release PORTRAIT OF A MAN AND HIS WOMAN (Hot Line) and halved it up, the other part being their LAWDY MISS CLAWDY album which has continued to evade my grasps but whadevva, chances are you ain't gonna be able to find the original and this one just might still be cheapo enough to latch onto via ebay or maybe even some outta-the-way record rack inna middle of Fartsville that still seems to be wallowing somewhere in the age of 8-Tracks.

It's still a mandatory winner though, not only with the title track (authorship credited to Mr. Hawkins) but a moving, operatic "It's Only Make Believe" as well as some throbbing r&b originals including the side one closer "Same Damn Thing" which really gets the heart a' pumpin'. Recording quality is good enough in that old pre-pristine style, while the instrumental backing does a good job of taking the Hawkins style from the beer can fifties into the creaky early-seventies with some typical SHAFT wacka-wacka guitar thrown in here and a li'l wah wah nodes there. But it still sounds as 1959 exciting as a suburban shopping plaza complete with a 99-cent theatre and department store that smells like buttered popcorn. A verifiable winner that I hope has made it into the digital age intact if only for the sake of humanity.
Mickey Hawks-BIM BAM BOOM LP (Sun Jay, Sweden)

After reading the HOUND BLOG appreciation of the Mickey Hawks and the Nightriders sides last year I just hadda latch onto this rather important North  Carolinian's contribution to the world of proto-punk faster than you can say "Bomp Records Credit Slip"! Looked near and far for his recordings and almost gave up hope until...while pouring through years of neglected wax I discovered that I already owned the thing! And hey, get this but I probably even reviewed it somewhere down the line!!! It only goes to show you what a sieve I have for brains anymore...sheesh, I thought that I knew my records as if they were my children and I often can remember the day, time and even situation when I picked up a classic album back during my young 'n impressionable days, but for the life of me I didn't remember latching onto this 'un at all!

Addle-mindedness aside, Sun Jay's BIM BAM BOOM is a decent enough collection of those early sides, even the one with Richard Speck lookalike Moon Mullins taking over the act for a 1960 single side! Overall the music is loud and pounding rock 'n' roll which does fit in with what the creme-de-la-punks were cranking out back in the late-Ike/early-JFK era around the same time pop was beginning to take some strange and perhaps incomprehensible turns. A correlation with the pounding garage bands of the Northwest could easily be drawn up, especially when you consider just how much the Nightriders and the NW groups were swiping ideas left and right from Little Richard and his compats. And Hawks' voice does fit in with the late-fifties screamin' rocker types, and given one listen to his gruff growling it's really not that hard to make a connection between the Nighthawks and various mid-sixties aggregates such as the Sonics who still had a foot in the late-fifties while driving the mid-sixties sound into even harsher territory.

One big caveat: most of this album is in fact taken up by more recent recordings, some from the late-sixties and early-seventies which were released on small labels as well as others from the mid-seventies to late-eighties which didn't see the light of day until this album's release in the early nineties. In a nutshell these numbuhs really don't cut the headcheese either taking on more of a late-sixties mid-South local studio production feel (such as the track where Hawks duets with an unidentified femme) or just plainly reek perhaps too much homage to Hawks' fifties r 'n' b heroes like Fats Domino w/o adding anything special or exciting to the legend. Yes Hawks is a talent and you can tell he really likes the black New Orleans sound much more than he does his own Southern white musical roots, but it's not like you'd ever be moved emotionally or spiritually by his takes on such chestnuts (as Jane Scott used to say) as "Mother In Law". Maybe there's an all-inclusive collection of pre-British Invasion era single and unreleased sides lurking out there, and if it fills its grooves with the hotcha stuff and omits the newer filler I'm all for latching onto a copy myself!
The Who-LAUGH TO KEEP FROM CRYING LP (Marquee bootleg)

 Hardly ever get to drag this eighties-vintage boot out, but just this evening I did just that. Supposedly recorded live at the Marquee in '63, this is reputedly High Numbers era Who back during their r 'n' b days churning it out pretty hard and heavy romping through one future elpee track ("Here Tis") and a slew of pretty extreme for the time standards that kinda stymie you considering how the Who would become pretty intricate themselves within a few years time. Daltrey sounds particularly rough here trying to imitate aging black singers with ten packs a day habits and the ability to drink gasoline even if they ask for water, which the rest of the group play so primitive it they make the Troggs sound like they were practicing! Sound ain't that bad despite one big tape mangle, and overall one of those great bootlegs that nobody seems to remember, or even acknowledges to exists for all I know!
The Holy Modal Rounders-ALLEGED IN THEIR OWN TIME LP (Rounder)

Y'know, I got to thinking after spinnin' one of the Muscular Christians platters (actually their debut DAN MARINO IMPORTANT MESSAGE) just how much I've ignored this particular Rounders album for quite a longer time than I'm sure any of us could care to imagine. Like maybe twenty or even twenty one years for that matter??? Well, tossing personal shame aside I decided to slip this one onto the ol' Sphinctrola and see just how well it holds up, and given the timeless urban folkie growling sound and style of this 'un it sure sounds as fresh off the shelf as the day I snatched it up! That's no mere feat in a world of instant garbage (and bland, unfunny garbage at that!) passing as music that's supposed to speak to you as a throbbing, overactive human sort of being.

Good folkitude here coutesy of Mssrs. Stampfel, Weber, Robin Remailly and former Insect Trust Luke Faust, and they all do the hipster folk trip here just as good as when it was first being laid down in early-sixties beatno joints where the battle lines between the kumbaya crowd and the narcotics brigade were being drawn up. Lotsa old time Rounder faves were first fermented here ("Low Down Dog", "Sunday Morning" and "Voodoo Queen Marie" amongst 'em), and they sure sound good in that old-timey acoustic manner which thankfully still retains the New York gutter credo these renditions were born of. True, this might not be the hard-buzz high energy rock et roll you so desire, but this sure ain't Melanie and Jame Taylor mewling their liberation anthems either!

Don't let the looks of Stampfel and Weber in hippie shag fool you, this is the down 'n dirty New York transplanted Okie folk with proper psychedelicizations that you've been quite accustomed to for a longer time than you'll ever remember. And the back cover notes about how it was the Rounders who in fact INSPIRED the Rounder label are quite informative...too bad the enclosed "X-Rated"  notes by Stampfel and longtime collaborator Antonia were missing from my copy...guess the Vice Squad got to it long before I did, right?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

hello chris

DESPAIR : 1973-1975 the birth of the vibrators is out now on cleopatra records. For VU/STOOGES/ENGLAND'S GLORY FANS .Totally amazing !!!

JACK RUBY: 1973-1977 cd on ugexplode records october 2011 ( proto no-wave band...and a 7" will be released on a french label around the same time ...

Thanks a lot chris for everything you do since phfudd till now

ps: Bloody hell ,can't find the vondruska cd