Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Unlike some of you natural-born readers, I never did consider myself a tried and true fan and follower of radio personality Jean Shepard. It's not because I didn't care for his contributions to such crucial humor magazines as MAD or HELP, nor was it because I never tuned in to his various PBS series such as JEAN SHEPARD'S AMERICA at a time when such a show might have appealed to my ever-sprouting funnybone. And while I'm at it, I also missed out on all of those articles for PLAYBOY and FIELD AND STREAM that he was pumping out for quite a long time. Did I also mention that I never did get to hear his long-running En Why See-area radio show which started the entire Shepard as sly and witty repartee-master career up and running? (In fact, for years I never even heard about Jean Shepard's long-running radio show and how could I being cloistered a good state-and-a-half away?) And I know you won't forgive me for this, but I only watched about the first twenty minutes of A CHRISTMAS STORY last year (not counting the segment that I caught while attempting to buy a cell phone the day before X-mas about a decade back, the part where the family goes to a Chinese restaurant)...I guess by now you can figure out why I'm not a Jean Shepard fan, and it certainly ain't from overexposure!

Anyway, Don Fellman certainly ain't a Jean Shepard fan but then again he acts like one, like during this one phone call where he was telling me that he's been listening to various Shepard repeats that WBAI's playing not to mention the time he regaled me with this one tale he heard Shepard impart on his gathered minions regarding the time a Tijuana Bible featuring Olive Oyl that was being used to tighten something up in a school toilet tank was discovered and "oh, you should have seen what she was doing!!!!" (This particular tale is actually the lead-in for ANOTHER quite interesting saga which I might depart to you someday when the mood is just right!) Anyway, after giving Brad Kohler the lowdown on the spinoff to the original Shepard tale so-to-speak what does the guy do but send me a Cee-Dee-Are of a Jean Shepard broadcast, nothing that I was really in the mood to hear mind you (given all of the above reasons as to why I am not a Jean Shepard fan) but since there was little else going on and I felt kinda adventurous I figured that hey...why not. It's loads better'n the Scooby Doo movies with special guest star Jerry Van Dyke that I could be watching in the other room!

I'm guessing this 'un's mid-sixties. Has a good AM car radio quality to it and in fact woulda sounded perfect playing outta some 1962 Mercury Comet (station wagon for added suburban effect!) parked in a small shopping center lot on an overcast day while waiting for your sister to come outta the fabric shop.  Nice demeanor to it too...kinda New York classy, or was that just the ad for THE NEW YORK TIMES that appeared? And Shepard was...dare I say it...pretty endearing himself. His voice was a natural for the radio idiom and even if the guy was broadcasting from WOR-AM and FM his tale that night had more of a midwestern small town feel to it which must've sounded like total hickdom to all of the bopster locals who were tuning in. I guess only Shepard could spin something about early 20th century living in a small town and make it cool enough that even the classiest of Big City snootery would want to give him a listen!

The story ain't much, but it at least kept me in rapt attention even if the subject matter (kid sports) is something that only brings back long-held memories of childhood failure. But I sure was kept on edge as Shepard recalled the time he and his friends decided to play ice hockey on a marsh that was in actuality a frozen over swamp filled with oily water and dead vermin, and how one of the players fell through the ice in zilch-degree weather which leads on to a whole episode which woulda been great for a LEAVE IT TO BEAVER if only they wanted to get a li'l more outrageous. Perhaps I overdo it...the story might not really be that much and I'm sure there are equally funny stories of youthful mishaps that non-famous folk can rattle off, but between Shepard's announcing/storytelling abilities, the ingenious use of music backing and maybe the fact that in 1965 everything was a whole lot less jaded and self-conscious of itself the story succeeds. Maybe you will have to revert to the mid-sixties to appreciate it, but given that I attempt to revert back to age three on a daily basis it all fit in rather well for me.

Now, I myself could attempt to re-create a number of not-so-hazy childhood memories for you, and maybe my stories would be just as appealing and as nostalgic as those Shepard spewed forth on a regular basis. I remember one time when I was seven and, while I was changing into my clothing in a locker room at a nearby swimming pool it was discovered, by a typically bragadoccio-filled kid at least two years older than me and four inches taller, that my underwear had sported at least two visible skidmarks!  The big kid easily espies said 'marks and starts yelling, in front of a number of other boys no less, that I ifs ands or buts about it...POOPED MY PANTS! I hastily object that I did not poop 'em (which would have been proven had there been large brown lumps of feces in 'em which there weren't...they were just skidmarks probably made from excessive farting and an inability to do a deep down dig-into-it post-bowel movement cleaning), but the kid self-assuredly says that those marks were indeed poop, so I had pooped my shorts and there was no way I could wiggle outta this tried and true fact of life! I couldn't fight the loudmouth bastard because he would easily have trounced me, so what else could I do but hold the gnarling frustration in as I left the kid who continued to taunt me as I walked away in abject shame and degradation as he and his cronies laughed their heads off. All I gotta say is good thing there weren't any yellow dribble stains in the front, which would only add to my overall crushed feelings!

The story doesn't end there either...a few weeks later it was the first day of school and guess who sees me but the same kid, who starts telling his classmates about my rectal misfunctions as they smile and smirk in their own self-assuring ways. There is an end to this story which I will admit is a bit of a fizzout and not quite the happy one you and I would have hoped for, but at least it got the kid to stop his haranguing of me. Maybe if I had the proper broadcast voice and an appropriate musical library to accentuate the various moments of anger and despair (as well as a few bwaps to signify below-the-waist sound effects) I coulda done this story justice. But now perhaps you know why Jean Shepard was a master at these doofus kiddie stories (the most famous of which might be the tongue on the frozen pole episode of A CHRISTMAS STORY which even a guy like me has heard about), and now you know why I got peeved at Bill Shute the time he was yellin' at his own kid for tryin' to make sergeant (three stripes!) with his jockeys! I mean, there are some things you just don't joke about.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Wow, what a dearth of subject matter (at least of a rockist nature) to gab about this weekend! Well, at least I'll give it the ol' college try, and besides there are things other'n music that I could gab about in order to look all-encompassing and innerlectual, like perhaps the recent execution of Troy Davis down in Georgia. Talk about mixed emotions...really, with all of the evidence that seemed to (perhaps) go in the guy's direction you think they woulda at least gotten 'round to a stay of execution even if on the surface it did seem like he was guiltier'n sin. Then again, there seems to be more to this story than meets the eye which doesn't quite lead to the conclusion that Davis was exactly the type of man who came off as innocent and dignified as some would like us all to believe. And then again, why do some of his supporters, at least the ones who were present protesting his execution as it transpired, seem like the same truly intolerant buncha crybabies who like to stamp their feet and create havoc if they don't get their way and eventually end up showing their dark sides in the process. Y'know, like the dolts who fill the comboxes of a woman who mentioned how she doesn't like the idea of homosexuals making out in the park in front of her children with threats of rape (to writer and children!) or, in this case, resort to calling Michelle Malkin a "chink" because she happened to agree with Davis' execution? (Actually she's Filipino but I guess to some folk out there it's the same thing.) And although I am not the sort of person who thinks we should kill 'em all an' let God sort 'em out, I must say that if Al Sharpton is gonna come to one's defense like he did with Davis isn't that more than a temptation to speed up the execution process? If you're on death row and happen to read this take my not accept any help from Al Sharpton if he decides to make you the next cause du jour.

Hey, what happened to the Deniz Tek blog anyway??? The last few entries seemed rather suspicious what with their strange technogarbled descriptions, and on closer inspection I found 'em to be nothing but ads for office equipment cartridges!  Not only that, but the "archives" as they were have been deleted of Tek's old scribings detailing his personal and rock-oriented life which really did throw me for the ol' loop! Needless to say I took the blog offa the "roll" so-to-speak and to this very day I wonder...just what was it that made Tek sell out to the likes of Sharp and Sanyo and inspired him hawk their wares on his once-interesting site???

Well whattaya know, I guess this will be a post featuring recordings previously unheard by me 'stead of the usual wallowing is decades-old wornouts I've been boring you with for nigh on six months! Some niceities here and some so-so's, but I'm sure you'd wanna know about it all no matter what, savvy?
MEET SPUTNIK CD (, or try CD Baby like I did)

As you all know, sometimes I always like to take a chance on some outta-the-way musical act that might just have something worthwhile to say even though for the most part these groups tend to wallow in the same genre of overused ideas and worn out aesthetics that made me turn away from whatever they were doing with a bold passion. Sometimes I win, but most of the time I get stuck with yet another item to clog up my collection thus depriving it of room that could be used for the umpteenth Les Rallizes Denudes dig-up! Well, with Sputnik I must say that I'm running par for the course...not that they're hideous the same way a whole number of various amerindie acts that cluttered up my YOUR FLESH promo packages were back in the early-nineties, but they still fail to sate. For me, Sputnik come off like the standard stripped down post-post VU/Richman stylings we've heard ad infinitum for the past thirty years complete with an accordion which in this case does not recall Angel Corpus Christi or any other accordion-based groups I can think of offhand (Ben Vaughn?). To be honest wit'cha, some moments of interest do transpire such as on the moody cover of the Beach Boys' "The Warmth of the Sun", but naturally that doesn't quite make up for the rest. Now if you happen to go for this kinda expression go to it, but as you all know I like my musings a li'l more stoopid (like this review).

Bought a stack of Larry Young recordings which I'm pretty sure'll make their mark in upcoming episodes of this (extremely) particular blog. I figured that, since Young was not only such a stand-out on those two Tony Williams Lifetime albums plus he sure knew how to make a racket on the Love Cry Want outing, the bulk of his many recordings would also stand the test of my rather discerning ears. Of course I could be wrong, but then again what do you want me to spend my spare change on anyway...back issues of ROCK AND RAP CONFIDENTIAL?????

Anyhoo, this 'un came out in '75 right at the beginning of the big jazz-rock push at the major labels, though unlike the mass of Return this album To the store where it will remain Forever efforts that were cluttering up the bins FUEL does have a bit of redeeming value to it. Naw, I wouldn't call it anything that'll stick to my laser launching pad, but like Sonny and Linda Sharrock's PARADISE there's quite enough gunch to help me make it through despite the usual commercial overtures complete with the standard seventies synth doodles that tag these efforts as quickie fusion cash-in fodder!!!.

A bit of this does tend to waft, though since I was wafting myself during the two times I've spun it I thought it fit in pretty well.  And even with the standard post-Miles Davis swipes tossed in you probably won't be offended as much as you were during the entire co-opting of jazz into a vain attempt to mainstream itself once again movement that probably turned more'n a few of even you casual readers off. Best track is definitely the Cee-Dee closer "New York Electric Street Music" (with vocals by Young 'stead of the femme cooer who appears everywhere else)  which not so surprisingly points the way at the rock/funk/punk merger that would overtake that city in a good five year's time, and I do not kid you one bit!
Art Ensemble of Chicago-CERTAIN BLACKS LP (Inner City)

After having evaded my grasps for quite a longer time than I can recall, this French-era AEC platter's finally been reissued exactamundo-like complete with the old Inner City label that naturally gives this ish that teste-tingling seventies jazz aroma that I so duly desire! Sends me straight back to the late-seventies when, after reading many a ref. via CREEM and even DOWN BEAT I used to cruise the shopping mall jazz bins espying such items as this wonderin' what in heck it was all about. Years later I am sated, yet the youthful wonderment continues to excite me even though at this late stage in the game I'M SUPPOSED TO KNOW BETTER!  But thankfully hey, I don't.

Great 'un here anyway with the original quartet being joined by Parisian reg's (the harmonica team of) Chicago Beau and Julio Finn and oddly enough not Don Moye but a William Howell on drums. Side long title track's a great free play extravaganza in the trad. of PEOPLE IN SORROW with a few hints of Archie Shepp tossed in while the other's got an ode to Jarman written by Beau which sounds like one of those tender lullabies that the longtime AEC multi-instrumentalist would compose. Sonny Boy Williamson also gets his fair due with a particularly bloozy cover of "Bye Bye Baby" which should prove to you that the "Great Black Music" of the AEC was a pretty encompassing vision that ranged from the roots to the future, and in fact at-times transcended racial boundaries when the tempo so desired.

It's really nice seein' this once again available (most m.o. places who deal in the free jazz realm should be stocking it) if only to help fill in the gaping holes in my swiss cheese-like collection. Great package, recording, pressing (on thick vinyl) and I don't care what you think, but I really do like to read these Nat Hentoff liner notes which might lower your opinion of me as a whole (or hole) but then again, what else is old?
Patti Smith-THE POETRY PROJECT 1971 CD bootleg (no label)

Nice early-Patti Smith surprise outta bootleg-land featuring a rare poetry reading from St. Mark's Church from way back '71 way during a time when Smith was beginning to spread herself onto the local underground art/poetry/rockscribing scene mighty thick if you ask me, but then again better her'n Ellen Willis. No musical backing here, but you do get to hear the roots of Patti as the snotty, sassy and fowl-mouthed poetess that thrilled millions of Midwestern plumpoids wanting to run away to En Why See to "be with it". So if ya wanna, go blame Smith for Lydia Lunch but then again please don't be too harsh.

Also on the disque are those three tracks Patti did in '73 (no real information given natch!) where she was backed by this particularly noisy splat that more or less recalled the no wave spurt of '77/'78 as well as a '74 Max's Kansas City gig that, although way down there in standard bootleg grading levels does give us a nice glimpse into the Patti shows ya used to see before she became really hot fodder for Earl Wilson columns. A nice slice of early Smithdom that sure seemed to hold loads of CREEM-y promise at least until it ALL came down right in front of our very eyes.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


There's no denying it...Byron Coley was definitely the #1 A uno best and perhaps only true talent to have popped outta that putrefied ball of stench we call eighties rock pressdom! Can't argue the fact not only because the field was rather dearth-like (face it, rock writing was to the eighties what feminine hygiene was to the seventeenth century) but because what competition there was via the mainstream and underground rock press didn't have a proverbial leg to stand on. Yes, while most of the various "big rock 'critic' types" who proliferated the mags and even cheap-o fanzines of that decade were more or less content on regurgitating the worst musings of such pathetics as Dave Mush and Greil Marcuse with a dabble of Christgau on the side complete with the worst aspects of Lester Bangs during his socially conscious phase (re. "The White Noise Supremacists"), Coley was driving his hard steel rod in the RIGHT direction regurgitating the various apexes of hero R. Meltzer not forgetting Bangs at his less pandering with a little of classic Tosches (not that crankout crap he was dabbling in throughout the eighties) and plenty of seventies fanzine accomplishment which certainly made his writing stand out in a sea of shallow pretenders. Only Billy Miller, Miriam Linna and a few others could claim to have been as much of a force in good eighties rock scribbling as Coley, though even these "competitors" were more or less products of the seventies despite their own calendars having stopped off at 1966. Coley (although also having been published in the seventies) was an eighties phenomenon, and from a twenty-plus-years-later vantage point it's plainly obvious that his writings were eons ahead of whatever else there was on the young buck upstart bandwagon and don't let anyone tell you different!

However, the strangest thing one could say about Coley's that, although this man was perhaps the top notch-est of the new guns coming out of the milieu of rockscreeding throughout the eighties and beyond, even you, a longtime fan and follower of rock 'n roll as a gnarling creature, might never have even heard of him! Never saw him published in a rock mag like CREEM (a rag which woulda jumped at the gun to print his wares a good decade back but ignored him once the seventies staff gave way to the pallid eighties crew) let alone the lines of a STONE. I mean, here was this talent that the entire rockism world was more or less WAITING FOR, and what do the mag publishers do but fill their pages with snooty emote and amerindie oneupmanship written by college paper grads who were still getting all pant-gooey excited over Genesis playing their local concrete bunker. I mean wha' 'appened? Well, I sure know what did, and it wasn't the Evil Hoodoo that did him (and us) in!

Y'see, what did happen was that once the eighties rolled around the rock mag editors decided that since we were entering into an age of nice and squeaky-clean music which mirrored a nice, squeaky-clean lifestyle there would be none of that raucous p-rock stuff nohow to clutter up the landscape. And frankly, the last thing "we" needed were a buncha upstart gonzos ruining the game field with a pantload of their snotty musings about old Seeds albums and local hard-noise grunt merchants, many of whome were in ample supply throughout the early to mid eighties! Hell no, these new magazine crusties didn't want to have to duck out when Buddy Miles came bursting into their offices threatening to kill the editor because of a bad review...everything was going to be sweetness 'n light and the first thing the mags hadda do was ditch alla the free-form and under-the-counterculture types who helped create the image of the punkoid rockscribe that put those garage ideals way ahead of the latest Joan Baez scushgush!  And that's exactly why comparatively zilch-talents such as Chuck Eddy were given a hefty amount of space to let their arid opines known to a new generation of pseudo-rock nebbishes while the likes of Coley were starving inna gutter piling up enough rejection slips to save on toilet paper for the next umpteen years!*

Thankfully there were a few with-its who were willing to publish Coley at a time when his brand of hard-edged/on'd scree was more or less classifiably verboten. Like for example Andy Schwartz, the guy who had eventually taken over the editorship and main helm at the legendary underground rock tabloid THE NEW YORK ROCKER even though a number of people I know say he was a jiz of an editor who played favorites worse'n channel 43 ever did (inside Cleveland joke there). Maybe Schwartz was (and perhaps remains---haven't read a word of his in eons) a schmuck, but at least he was an intelligent enough schmuck with loads of good taste (at least enough to catch you off guard), and he even earned his rockism credentials contributing reviews of RAW POWER amongst other 1973 picks to click to Kenne Highland's old staple-together fanzine entitled ROCK ON which better earn him a few more laurels on his thinner 'n mine crown because what were YOU doing in 1973 anyway? And of course who could fault whoever it was at the off to a rocky start and continuing on rockily enough to this day SPIN, a rag that I had thought would've continued on a hard-edged CREEM path exp. when that seventies pub was still suffering under the post-Bangs miasma that was infecting it for nigh on a decade. But for the most part, if you wanted to experience Coley in full force and in plentiful supply, it was the fanzine circuit and a few of the small weeklies that were willing to give the guy the opportunity to flaunt his rather knowledgeable rockism for a world that didn't seem to care the way it once usedta.

So hey, Coley's got his own collection out, and it's a really wild one too which I must say helps fill in some of the missing gaps in my own collection while presenting some insight into the man's genius and particular tastes at a time when maybe I got a li'l too old to remember it all that clearly. It's a bit of a thin book too (only 140 pages) and get this...the left side of the  book (or the "even" numbers if you will) are actually French translations which really surprises me, because I wonder how'b hell anybody could translate words like "yr" and "felch" into the Gallic tongue! But Marie Frankland did just that, though she cheated quite a lot because she does leave the vowels in or substitutes words closer to Francais when the going gets tough. So French readers...just absorb this 'un in the original because otherwise you sure will be missing out on a whole lotta exciting reading!

Although there are what I would call many "glaring omissions" here (such as "Mighty Asses Tap the Mighty Black Flag" not to mention the Flesheaters Tour Diary, both from the much-missed TAKE IT!) there is enough to make at least two evening hours worth of bedtime listening more fun-filled if you pace yourself just right. Unfortunately Coley's very first published work, a review of whatever current Hawkwind album there was in '76 (probably ASTOUNDING SOUNDS, AMAZING MUSIC but don't quote me)  isn't here but there are some interesting letters he done writ to an Angela Jaeger which delivers a whole lot on the goings on in San Francisco (some funny, like the time he hecked the Jefferson Starshake with the title of a Great Society song ["Often as I May"] only mangling said title up which is why Paul Kantner looked at him so funny!). Now, I usually don't cozy up to reading other people's's sorta like reading St. Paul's letters to the Ephesians where he tells 'em how many times a week to clean their foreskins, but the info, coupled with the usual Coley anecdotes about working at McDonalds (!) etc. makes for some pretty hotcha reading, and only goes to show you what a pallid life YOU'RE living in comparison.

When Coley gets into the musical biz that's when he starts cookin', and the man is so good in that post-Meltzer/Bangs way that I'll even read his Devo piece even though I wrote those guys off after hearing their second album way back when it first came out. From there on in it's high-larity central as Coley skewers many of the sacred cows of the day from Bowie, Bo Diddley (a "pederast"!) and Jim Morrison, while bolstering the legends both living and dead of everyone from the Germs and Dredd Foole to the LA Free Music Society. Coley's survey of the early-eighties underground, an area that his influences seemed to have totally dropped out on due to either semi-retirement or death, also comes in handy if only to remind me of the strange world there was after the seventies punk era seemed to flutter away or mutate into directions that frankly didn't quite thrill me the way I thought they would only a few years prior.

Whaddeva, Coley is always a joy to behold and these classic nuggets o' joy just serve to remind me as to why the guy was always fun to osmose. I mean, he did fly in the face of all of the feely-good vibes and health-nut consciousness that made up the eighties and a good portion of what followed, and maybe in a way this guy was helping to extend the seventies junk credo long past its shelf life the same way that CBGB was booking the spiritual successors to groups like Manster and the Planets long after pre-Pistols punk seemed so retro. If you still have your own seventies aesthetics that you would like to resensify for continued use (and if you're reading this blog, why not?) then you know where your next $19.99's going, eh?
*To be totally honest and upfront with you about it, I don't think that Coley tried  hard enough getting his writing "career" in motion, though there were the SPIN pieces and the "underground" column which was the beginning of a long and prosperous career for the man, culminating in that John Fahey article that I sure hope ends up in a future edition of collected flotsam.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Ehhhhhh, the end of one week and the beginning of another. Gotta admit that at this point in time I feel lower'n a pair of NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC titties and flatter'n a veteran beat cop's feet, so's I guess that old age is finally catching up to me after all of these years of me playing dodge ball with it. And between the fungus that has caused the space between the last pair of toes on both sides of my feet to crack 'n itch like a mofo as well as the ringworm that's appeared on my inner right thigh I feel like a walking petri dish! I blame it all on stress from work (which has been piling up on me worse'n the time I passed out under that St. Bernard)...let's just say that I can sure use a nice long vacation away from it all, but then again if I take one I have the feeling that when I return not only will I be a new man, but I'll be seeing a new man, in my previous  position that is!

Well, at least I got a few new items inna mailbox o'er the last few days that are guaranteed to at least brighten up my evening pre-beddy bye time hours. Y'know, those precious minutes when you're supposed to forget the strain of the day and settle back with some soothing Les Rallizes Denudes feedback-drench to wash away all of that tension. And although I'm not exactly the kinda guy who feels any nostalgia for the early oughts I actually took out an order from CD Baby which consisted mostly of groups that I remember seeing (or reading about) via the CBGB website...mostly those relatively obscure acts that either played the main club or the sister spaces next door who really didn't have much to do with any current attention-grabbing trends (in fact, many seemed like a throwback to the various acts of the mid-seventies who played there when the more-popular groups on the New York scene were too busy posing for Bob Gruen!) but seemed to have enough interesting ideas not to be ignored like they've mostly been. Also splurged for an order from Forced Exposure which has brought me many a tantalizing item just begging to either hit a laser light or be dragged around a turntable. It's not like I'm gonna go hog wild and listen to/review everything at once either...just gonna take it all piece by piece and spread everything out within the span of a number of these weekend posts, information-conscious blogster that I am and most certainly remain.

PERHAPS I SHOULD MENTION THIS OR PERHAPS I SHOULDN'T, but I will anyway. Just wanted to mention the discovery of a blog entitled HEART FULL OF NAPALM (which I linked up on the left, stoopid!) featuring the writings of one Tim Stegall, a name you might remember from eighties rock et roll fandom as well via a variety of groups that he had been involved with o'er the past x-some  # of years. Tim always was a pretty good rock scribbler, and although it seemed as if most of the snobbish crustier-than-thou big time movers and shakers of the eighties (no names, but you probably know who they are by now) loathed the kid with a passion I always thought that Stegall had more on the ball as well as a real get-go attitude that certainly did not reek of put on decadent smarm like way too many others out there in the eighties fanzoonie world. Some of the entries on HEART FULL OF NAPALM are straight on target while others seem to miss about as much as a drunk at a urinal, but hey if you're gonna read personal thoughts and opines better read 'em by a guy who at least has some smarts 'stead of your average blogskateer who just goes online, jots a few meaningless memories into the box and leaves it at that. Well, at least there's another good 'un for me to look forward to, and given how a lotta my fave blogs are either posting rather erratically or seemingly have given up entirely let's just say that we can sure use a lot more napalm in our lives, and maybe even our hearts.

ANOTHER EPOCHAL DISCOVERY MADE VIA THE MIRACLE OF INTERNET!: my Al Capp review last Wednesday got me to ponderin' 'bout a whole load of long-forgotten LI'L ABNER storylines that he was layin' about when I was a mere single-digiter, and naturally amidst the ever-fading memory of "Patrioats" and "Icky" (his Twiggy sendup) I suddenly remembered his spoof of none other than PEANUTS that was done at the height of Charlie Brownmania. For years I wanted to read these particular Sundays again if only because of the mini-controversy they caused at the time (I guess Chaz Schulz was not too pleased with the ribbing he got), but then again since Capp was a pretty controversial guy himself it's not like he was doing anything out of the ordinary, especially with campus radicals swearing out vendettas against him and various New York mayors and governors muttering every time Capp's name was brought up in polite company.

Well imagine my surprise when, while just chancing to see if any reprints were floating about on the internet this particular blogschpiel should appear! Yes, the three Sunday strips featuring the PEANUTS send-up entitled "Peewee" are now available on-line, and not having read these since I was a peewee myself I must say that I sure remember things being a li'l different. But it's great to give this series a go again because hey, it was stuff like reading ABNER sprawled out on the living room floor that made me the blob that I am today! Maybe if you spent more time reading old comics and connecting with a 20s/30s/40s culture remnant that was still vital years later you wouldn't be the smarmy decadent excuse that you most certainly are!
Sure it ain't no FEARLESS FOSDICK, but then again none of Capp's other comic strip spoofs really lived up to that long-lasting DICK TRACY burlesque. It's sure a gagger though, especially in the way Capp digs into not only his old syndicate (you must remember that in 1964 Capp, wielding enough power to do so, left United Features Syndicate for the Daily News without missing a beat or losing any newspapers for that matter), but into a comic strip that had pretty much overtaken ABNER in the marketing if not popularity department (although Capp's venerable strip remained popular for quite awhile, at least until the early-seventies when the quality pretty much tanked almost overnight). Whatever, I got a huge kick reading these comics again, and if you too have a snide sense about 'cha maybe you'll be able to ooze a giggle or even a chortle for whatever reasons you may so desire!
Hokay, time for the reviews...the usual mish mosh of old, new, borrowed and burned which just might inspire someone out there to...I dunno, just tank out in their gaseous quarters and revert to age three like any good BLOG TO COMM reader would definitely know enough to do w/o me tellin' 'em!
The Velvet Mafia-CHEAP BUT NOT FREE CD (, or you can order it with a buncha other platters via CD Baby like I mentioned I did in the opening blabathon above!)

Not that I would know first-hand, but some say that there is a "Velvet Mafia", a gay cabal if you will that permeates the structures of various businesses and social circles in the more chi-chi areas of commerce. From the high fashion industry to the world of art, one must be of the sweet set to make any indent no ifs, ands, but with plenty of butts! Otherwise, one would be doomed to total failure as either a fashion designer or "respected" post-whatever there is to be "post" about artist on the up 'n cummin' scene, and we certainly don't want that to happen! This Velvet Mafia is reported to be legendary and perhaps as vile and throat-slashing as the mafia from whence they copped their name, and woe be to the unaware newling who dares to enter into such a world totally void in the head of what will be in store for him in his attempt to climb the ladder to suck Sess! For many a ruined life, as well as a ruined rectum, is what's in store for the man fresh off the bus from Moline coming to the Big City with a song in his heart, a tear in his eye and hopefully plenty of Vaseline in his shaving kit.

This rock group, which I discovered via an archived cybercast that was once available on the CBGB website, might have nada to do with the sickening tactics of a select few horny homos out there but they sure had a lot to do with the sickening tactics of a lotta whacked out under-the-gutter rock acts who played the En Why circuit from the early-seventies until rather recently. Led by the tall, bald and gruesome transvestite Dean Johnson, the Velvet Mafia were a straight ahead punk (as in 1974 CREEM/Lester Bangs punkspeak) group that seemed more like a flashback to past accomplishment rather'n future schlock, and given the mix of freakshow tactics and straight (?) ahead rock 'n roll screech that cybercast had me thinkin' Max's Kansas City circa 1975 (tail end of glitter's last gasps) filtered through the muck and mire that made up En Why consciousness in the eighties and nineties. Something totally out of place yet pretty meaningful in its own special ways.

The presentation was actually quite enjoyable considering how the Mafia seemed to be borrowing most of their schtick from various seventies accomplishments from Wayne County to the Sensational Alex Harvey Band with their mix of various stylings and typical fru fruness all packaged in a load of heavy duty smarm. It was entertaining, engaging and perhaps not that different than anything that could have transpired in the New York of the Mercer Arts Center or Club 82 when freakazoid acts of questionable sexuality were shrieking atcha left and right all hoping for that BIG BREAK that everybody with a mind knew would never come. The only real comedown during that set was Johnson's showbiz heartfelt rap regarding how he's HIV-positive but it ain't full blown yet (highly reminiscent of some aging comedian reminiscing about the old days in pathos-riddled sentimentality) not to mention the dykoid bass guitarist returning to the stage post-set giving us this LBGTQ pep talk that came off like something along the lines of  Joan Baez announcing to her captive audience "this is your Woodstock". I guess once you get down to it, homos are just as sloppy drooly oldtime soft schlubby as the squares they they always seem to ridicule!

But since I was gettin' homesick for some of those rare under-the-underground acts (many of 'em highly reminiscent of various seventies rocksters that didn't seem to get their fair shake---and if you have any recordings by Lucky available please get in touch w/me asap!)  I decided to latch onto this, the Mafia's once-rare and perhaps only recorded output and hey, I found it to be a pretty EXHILARATING experience. Not that I exactly go for 6' 5" trannies and freakshow dressup garb, but the Velvet Mafia were actually quite successful in their abilities to scrape up the best of seventies New York glam rock and present it in the late-nineties/early-oughts w/o losing more'n a little bit in the translation. You could have easily seen the Mafia sharing a bill on the mid/late-'81 stage @ Max's Kansas City with either Another Pretty Face or Hibiscus and the Screaming Violets, only I wouldn't use any of the restrooms if I were you (hold it in!).

Many obv. late-seventies ref. pts. can be discerned...por ejemplo disque opener "The Girl From Planet Muff" does tend to owe a little more to the B-52's "Planet Claire" than perhaps most new mutating into "gnu" wave haters would care to acknowledge. The way I look at it the Mafia did a vast improvement on the original template to the point where the driving thud beat does put those Georgian pretenders to shame. And while I'm dredging up past new wave "accomplishment" the rap section (sung by the femme backing vocalist whose name I don't know if only because the credits are vague) sure does recall the early Debbie Harry rap swipes that actually had a few people thinkin' her's was the first disque of that genre, and I do not lie to you one bit!

But putting all of the extraneous stuff aside I found CHEAP BUT NOT FREE a whole lot more palatable'n not only the patented underground gone mainstream dribble that had me rushing towards the latest SST catalog but an artyfact that came perhaps twenny-three or so years too late, the last gasp of seventies En Why See ideals that sounded quite revolutionary in 1971 but perhaps a little outdated if still intriguing a good decade later. And yeah, even I could see that the mode of the music was changing and we had to progress on to newer pastures to graze, but then again why was I so hungry for loads of seventies thud once the mid-eighties and all the squeaky-clean musings that doth wrought started rolling in?

As far as Johnson goes well, he ultimately came to an untimely end due to some pretty strange circumstances while in Washington DC where he was arranging a "party" for some Middle Eastern potentate whom I assume found a loophole in the Koran regarding what type of behavior he would be permitted to engage in. Considering that Johnson didn't make it outta that party alive all I gotta say is, that potentate must have found a PRETTY BIG LOOPHOLE, if you know what I mean.
STEVE WEBER AND THE HOLY MODAL ROUNDERS B.C. CD (Fredericks Productions, available through CD Baby)

Got this one, along with the recent reissue of the Holy Modal Rounders' INDIAN WAR WHOOP, in my latest CD Baby package. The WHOOP was even better'n I had remembered (although given the dearth of in-depth liner notes nothing new was added to the Rounders' mystique) and ranks with MORAY EELS as prime examples of late-sixties all-out freak folk rock, but this recently-discovered live set from a Stampfel-less Rounders was, well not exactly what I was hopin' and hungerin' for...

Don't get me wrong, it's good, but not as good as the Rounders radio sesh that Water Records released awhile back. And with Stampfel pounding it out with the Unholy Modal Rounders back in En Why See Weber is more or less left to his own devices. It's there, but something is lost with the absence of the group's co-founder, and besides Weber's voice is ragged beyond reproach makin' this a li'l too hard on the ears. Performance is a little loose as well, but that didn't really bother me. Maybe the Clamtones set is better. Maybe this was an off night. Maybe Weber and crew should have done a real classic like "Fucking Sailors in Chinatown" which remains unreleased to this day and perhaps stands as one of the best numbers Weber ever performed outside of "Half a Mind". Oh well, there's always the next exhumation.
The Christian Astronauts-BEYOND THE BLUE CD-R (originally released on Gospel Crusade Records)

Doggone that Bill Shute! Here he goes sending me some Cee-Dee-Are burns, and what should be in the package but this back of the flea market bin spin! At first I thought the Christian Astronauts were gonna be a religious space rock group...y'know, Hawkwind interprets the New Testament or something like that, but all I got here was a buncha cheezy religioso fluff that comes off like Barney Bean and Sherwood meets Clem Humbard in the studios of channel 33 during the off hours some time in 1963. Only without the natural low-down entertainment value that I used to get from both of these old hands, but it is a chortler in itself from the extremely lo-fi takeoff sounds (Joe Meek was definitely not at the controls on this 'un!) to the typically unfunny ventriloquist dummy routines and especially Sister Shoup's singing which could peel the protective coating off of any space ship! Put 'em all together and what else can I say but that Hitchens, Dawkins, Harris and that palsied guy in the wheel chair have got a pretty good case for their side.
The Electric Eels-"Agitated"/"Refrigerator" single (the usual anonymous job)

It's not that a platter like this is exactly mandatory...after all, both sides appear repeatedly in my collection and in a variety of formats as well. But I sure like the look of this one, done up in classic nineties amerindie style just like every other flush in the john record that some young, daring, precocious and just bubbling with talent group would inundate you with back during the golden age of precocious pout. Ah, but at least this is a hotcha package complete with a rear cover that was "adapted" from the infamous John Morton "Extermination Music Night" ad which actually appeared in Cleveland's freebie SCENE magazine 12/74, a recut 'n paste so good that I decided to reproduce it for you on this very blog in order to SHARE with you the tingly underground beauty of the entire effort at hand. Surely something I would have longed for had this 'un made it out during the closing days of the seventies back when the underground was still running on hi-octane 'n the eighties seemed as if they were gonna be even brighter still!

Like I said, nothing new...these tracks are the same ol' "Agitated" 'n "Refrigerator" that were taken from
the Paul Marotta sessions that made up a good portion of the various album and disque reissues we've seen these past twentysome years. And yeah, I could have saved a few precious dollars that should have gone towards either my old age pension plan or better yet towards some new and previously unheard juicy item that just might be wallowing about out there in the great big storage bin we all call the internet, but then again I thought man...wouldn't this 'un look great in my collection? And it does, snuggled up there right on top of a pile of seven-inchers that includes a whole number of platters that have made me a very happy if functionally autistic rockscribe these past XXX number of years.

But then again, what good is a collection like mine, even if it isn't quite as awe-inspiring nor as dollar-tilting as say, Greg Shaw's, especially if there's nobody around to actually show it off to and brag about? Like I said, the recs I have, if placed in some vintage bins in alphabetical order, might resemble the corner of one of those cut-rate flea market record concessions you used to see in nearly-condemned buildings complete with buckets catching rainwater from leaky roofs, but still they're all MINE and I guess that's all that needs to be said! You could say that maybe I feel more like some ol' coin collector or better yet model railroader who likes to putter away in the basement after a hard day on the loading dock, and if you think that is something to loathe may I call you an elitist douche?  But really, do these kinda people still exist, or did they die out only to be replaced by a new eon of soul-less, interest-less walking vegetation that has forsaken the simple interests of the past for a future of instantly gratifying nil? I would like to think that there still are people like this around, and if I am to records what your Unca Cedric is to stamps well, so what???

Still, it's a nice li'l tidbit to have around and I do say so in my typical anal-retentive way. And if you want to do a little clenchin' yourself maybe you can dig up a copy for your very own somewhere. Try ebay, like I did.
Various Artists-CONNECTION 1963-66 CD-R BURN (Bill did it for me but if you wanna know what label it's on bad enough just do a google search)

Never was one who used to think that the Rolling Stones were "The World's Greatest Rock Group" even if at one time maybe they might have been just that. It's not that it really matters this far down the's only that when the Stones were hitched with that particular tag they were already old fogies who were already  re-rehashing the same rehash they swiped from people both black and white for years on end. In fact, I gotta admit that at some point in their career the Stones became lousy, and please don't give me any of that crap about how their 2002 album was pretty good or that on some bootleg these guys almost equal the MC5, because since I already have the MC5 and loads of worthy competitors why would I want the Stones inna first place?

But if yer talkin' early Stones well, I will sit down and listen, and these sides featuring the Stones either as backing musicians or with Jagger/Richards credentials will keep my attention held longer'n I would sitting through a Chuck Eddy dissertation on Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam. Some surprises here (kinda/sorta enjoyed the Cleo Sylvestre take on "To Know Him Is To Love Him" with Stone backing even if her voice is thinner'n my hairline) and some familiar territory that got the bootleg treatment years back, but it all sounds better'n anything that I would have associated the entire Stone industry to have been involved with at least since the arrival of "Angie". Great collection and great sound, but the best thing that I like 'bout it's I got the thing for free, and who can beat that!

If Ritchie Unterberger was put on this earth for a good reason, it was for tipping a whole load of mid-eighties upstarts and established folk alike about this New York hippie poet who had (gasp!) already pushed the big four-oh and hitched up with a local underground act called the Major Thinkers (y'know, that had earlier wallowed around the New York club environs as Irish folk-rockers Turner and Kirwan of Wexford before being discovered by Hilly Kristal). And a good twenty-seven or so years later this debut (and best) platter from Copernicus and crew holds up a whole lot more'n I would have guessed back when I first gave it a spin during those semi-promising days of the mid-eighties. The overall feeling of this album is akin to Brother Theodore sitting in with an above-par New York underground act of the v. late-seventies strata adding his crazed monologues to a sound that is reminiscent of a freer Roxy Music with pre-smarm artzy overtones. Unreal, and pretty rockist in its own way especially on the recorded live at Max's Kansas City number "Nagasaki" which sounds like the best of Hawkwind doing their best Velvet Underground-inspired space dirges. This is one record that would have fit in well with my closing days of 1979 holiday time off when underground rock was of such a sensory overload that once 1980 clocked in I felt totally awash in musical denouement. And who knows, after a spin or three you might feel the same way too!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


Another one sent my way thanks to the graciousness of Bill Shute, though for some strange reason I don't understand why the man would want to give away such a thoughtful and analytical political read such as this collection of various Al Capp columns that he scribbled for THE DAILY NEWS at the height of early-seventies student unrest and wishy washy mainstream reaction to it all. I have the feeling that Bill, being a highly-respected professor at a Major Western University, feared for his job if such a book as this were to have been found in his possession...oh well, at least he didn't burn this 'un like he did that one volume of traitorous rants and conspiratorial screeching that he promised to send my way back when he was moving away from his Catawba Virginia digs oh so long ago! (I forget the exact nature of the book at hand---perhaps Bill could refresh my memory.) Y'see, Bill figured that if the package somehow got damaged and the contents were discovered and traced back to him he could have found himself in some mighty deep caga so better he destroy the evidence before it could destroy him! And all I wanted it for was so's I could order the multi-album set being advertised in the back section, a damning indictment of the Federal Reserve System narrated by none other than John Carradine!

But hey, is this collection the classiest or what? Yeah, I know that Capp has set up more straw men in this book than one could find in an entire third grade art class and it's more'n obvious that Capp was more of a neocon rather'n just plain (old time, not that thing that passes nowadays) conservative as his comments about still being a "liberal" in the old sense and how he would still be one if only liberalism hadn't lost its bearings undoubtedly prove. If the guy were alive and kicking today I'm pretty sure that his opines would find a more hearty audience on what passes for the "alternative" "conservative" "media" 'stead of the so-called fringes of hardcore conservative ideals where the likes of everyone from Pat Buchanan to Justin Raimondo make their opines known.

But as the sage said "so what else is old?",  and come to think of it being turned off by something Capp might have become doesn't mean that I can't have a fun time reading this controversial cartoonist's opines that were being made at a time when it seemed as if Ameriga was tearing itself apart at the seams. And when that's happening, it's always good to tune in some snarky commentator who's bound to offend all of those people who sure could use a li'l offendin' , especially when you can plainly see that such oft-verboten subject matter could use a little bloody humiliation if only to drag them off of their high horses and back into reality.

Of course that doesn't make Al Capp the original Ann Coulter (a writer who I can appreciate in many ways even if she and I seem to not be seeing eye to eye on many a subject as the weeks progress). But boy does he dish it out on a wide array of pertinent subjects from college protesters to welfare recipients to women's lippers as well as unwed mothers and Elliot Gould nude scenes! After reading the book coupled with a slew of late sixties LI'L ABNER storylines it's no wonder that Capp lost a lotta status amongst the same intelligentsia which hailed his work only a good decade or three earlier! (Enough that he didn't even bother to ask anybody to write a forward to this collection, perhaps because he knew that by this time most of the intellectuals and "commentators" who once sang his praises had all run for cover, totally ashamed and embarrassed over what had become of the comic strip that was once "hip" to be seen reading! Well, at least there was still POGO!)

Frankly,  I wonder why nobody else thought of doing what Capp became legendary for a whole lot sooner. All of these targets, and many more that Capp feels worthy enough to so deftly skewer, should have been such GRANDIOSE fodder for comedians, cartoonists and other sundries for ages yet you never see anybody tearing such obvious targets to shreds for their indecencies the same way you see Bill Maher and Penn Jillette always going after people who tend to keep their pants up so's they don't have to worry about contributing to either the venereal disease or bastard problems that has been plaguing us for nigh on forty years. (Well maybe not...after all, here's something that comes close even if it sure lacks the typical snide rudeness of a typical Capp column.)  But hey, reading Capp dig into the entrails of just about everybody from Jane Fonda (otherwise known as "Jane Porna") to various other gadflies as Senator George McGrovel and Ho Chi Swine is quite refreshing considering just how much such objects were more or less not only given free passes but held up for veneration when it came to politically-oriented humor. It just goes to make ya think that hey, despite being called a redneck and fag for being so cube when I was a kid maybe I was right about at least a few li'l things back when everybody else was jumping on the peace 'n love (grade school edition) bandwagon! And only if I had enough gutz to make my feelings proudly known with a few swift punches to the gut and a few karate chops behind the neck  maybe I wouldn't have grown up to be the terminally short-fused, frustrated chap that you all know me to be these sad and sorry times!

(Gotta admit that I was a li'l surprised over Capp's various defenses of none other'n Spiro Agnew, especially considering how the then-[heavy on the vice]-prez used to get an occasional ribbing in the the ABNER strip...well, actually Capp was more or less going after the likes of Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin who would complain that Agnew was stifling free speech when he called them "coarse" which I will admit was a rather funny observation. Naturally that was after the noted rabble rousers called him every name in the book so really, I can see Capp siding up with Agnew at least on this particular point!)

Capp's a fairly good (yet not always as etapoint as one would wish) writer too and he can convey his eternal loathing for the longhairs and other bottom feeders in life with a pretty good keystroke if I do say so myself. Capp always aims right for the tenderloins, stripping away the facade  from the various denizens of The New Left while making them look pretty sorry in the process (a trait that seems to have been lost on all but a few scribes these days, excepting such stellar commentators as Jim Goad, Paul Gottfried and of course the aforementioned Buchanan and Raimondo). Too many juicy examples of this to present here, but whenever Capp confronts student radicals or poverty or even SESAME STREET he really knows how to go after his victims like Roman Polanski goes after a brownie troop!

Hokay, I'll give you one nice morsel of the Capp political wit, one where he aptly takes down none other than a public figure once regarded as the true voice of woman before it became "wimmer" then "womyn" yet who has since joined the every-growing ranks of seventies hasbeendom, Gloria Steinem:
Gloria Steinem, the Doris Day of Women's Liberation, came on the Dick Cavett show one night and complained about her problems. I came on a night or two later and solved them for her.

She complained that when she walked though the Senate dining hall, the senators all stared at her.

I suggested that next time she might try wearing a mini that came down a bit lower than her navel.

She complained that girl reporters weren't given the same opportunities as men.

I recalled that Gloria was an obscure reporter until the Playboy Club hired her as a bunny, and she wrote an expose of bunnyhood.

I said I'd bet that Norman Mailer wouldn't have been given the same opportunity when he was an obscure reporter, or even John Updike, although they both have great legs.

Instead of thanking me, Gloria fired off a telegram accusing me of not treating her like a lady.

With the gallantry that has made me a legend, I replied; "Dear Gloria: If you intend to send off scolding telegrams to everyone who criticizes you, you'll go broke. The day after I did, THE NEW YORK TIMES did, and then Jimmy Cannon did, and then Bill Buckley did, and that's only the beginning.

"My advice, dear Gloria, is to remember what Harry Truman once said, 'If  you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.'"
Now, one could accuse Capp of being just another one of them establishment figures who has no idea at all regarding the degrading evil that women as belly-crawling reptiles have to go through in this male-dominated society 'n all, but people on the whole had yet to be enlightened and blessed by Phil Donahue at this point in time. Me, I just wonder why he'd actually toss a quote in from none other'n former Prez Truman, a guy who the old anti-interventionist right didn't exactly snuggle up to as if there really was anyone out there for them to snuggle up against other'n Gov. Taft. Oh wait...since Capp was a neocon I guess he was just setting precedence for the likes of Ronald Reagan and Newt Gingrich to claim deep admiration for Franklin Roosevelt, something which perhaps is about as telling as it is stymieing.

Hokay, here's another Capp gem which I thought I should share with you considering how such forms of political satire are pretty much verboten by the hippie-bred types who run the every-dying newspaper industry these days...

Senator George McGrovel, whose groveling at the feet of the miniscule minority of the untoilet-trained on our campuses has won him the reputation as spokesman for all youth, was interviewed on the late-night TV talk show, starring the beloved Tommy Wholesome.

"The older generation," said McGrovel, "has failed abysmally!"

"Then who will lead America?" asked Tommy, who is also pushing 50.

"Us youth!" cried McGrovel.

The studio audience of runaways, high school dropouts, purse-snatchers and teenage unwed mothers cheered.

"You're not putting us on," ad-libbed Tommy with his quick wit that has made him a legend.

At this his producer held up the "CONVULSIVE LAUGHTER FOLLOWED BY PROLONGED OVATION" sign, and after the tumult subsided, McGrovel said, "The older generation must step aside, and let youth lead the way!"

They were interrupted by 243 commercials followed by 675 spot announcements, leaving Tommy only time enough to thank Senator McGrovel and announce his next night's in-depth interview.

Outside, the Senator hailed a cab and gave the driver his hotel address. The cab blasted off at 180 miles an hour through traffic, past red lights, and then hurled down a one way street the wrong way.

"Are you out of your skull?" screamed McGrovel.

"Just youthful zest is all, man" grinned the driver, turning around and revealing a New Left face peering out of an Old Testament beard.

"I'm a Columbia student making a few bucks for bail for my buddies who got busted at this "Get Stoned and Stone a Cop Love-In for Peace..."

"Let me out of here, you half-baked idiot," McGrovel was screaming when the vehicle went out of control and crashed into the window of a mid-town store, which the owner had locked, barred, and fled from the hour when New York City streets become too dangerous for business, 2 P.M.

The youth extricated himself from the smoldering debris and ran.

Since McGrovel's ankle was fractured, his hip dislocated, and his skull stove in, he waited for the ambulance.

En route to the hospital, the young intern examined him. "You'll need some pretty tricky brain surgery," he said, "and I can't imaging where we'll get a specialist at this hour. But don't worry, I'll have a go at it."

"Not at me you won't, you blundering amateur!" replied McGrovel, kneeing him with his one functional leg.

The Senator insisted that an experienced surgeon perform the operation and during his convalescence he kicked out the student nurses the shorthanded hospital offered him.

"That stuff about trusting the fate of the nation to youth is okay for TV talk shows," he remarked later, as his white-haired nurse was giving him some time-tested medicine and putting him through some traditional exercises, "but you don't catch me trusting them with my own!"
Of course there's much more I would just love to dish out atcha, but time limitations and stamina prevent me. Instead, how about if I just drop a few titles your way..."The Day After John Lindsay Was Inaugurated President", "Mothers Have Fertility Rights", "It's Legal to Run Against Ted Kennedy in Massachusetts - It Just Isn't In Good Taste", "A Stranger in a Disgustingly Familiar Land" and of course the series of letters addressed to "Cro-Magnon Daddy and Neanderthal Mommy" written by some young revolutionary gal now living under the auspices of a William K. Fowlemouth. And all of 'em are worth the time and effort to digest every sniveling word included!

Too bad Capp fell from grace at such an alarming rate before closing up LI'L ABNER in '77 and making his own grand exit two years later. He would have at least been a lively commentator had he been able to make it into the eighties and even nineties intact, and given the abysmal state of the comics page and how the politics it exudes has become rote, formulaic and just as stale a reflection of the seventies radicalism that railed against Capp, anything would be a welcome relief! Until then you can always snatch this book up somewhere cheap, and a few trips to the microfilm department at your local library might reveal to you the brilliance and on-target satire of LI'L ABNER even though I'm sure some policy-driven old maid librarian would probably want to steer you closer to some DOONESBURY collection if only she knew...

Saturday, September 10, 2011


And really, why not, since I never thought for the life of me I would get the opportunity to hear such groups as Rocket From The Tombs, the Magic Tramps, Kongress, Umela Hmota (2 and 3 included), Milk and Tender Buttons, but I did. However, for every "obscure" underdocumented group out there who I eventually did get to hear there must be at least ten interesting obscure-os who I have missed out on, and frankly the whole lot of 'em might be worth the time and energy to seek out even if I'd have to pester the owners of such rare booty until doomsday for them to make their secret stash available to the people, man!

Here are just a few (maybe ten, maybe fifteen, maybe three!) rock 'n roll acts of the past that I really would like to hear, if only because of a writeup I once read or the fact that somebody soon-to-be-infamous was in the group or perhaps just due to good ol' rock 'n' roll mythology. Whatever, I'm sure hopeful that the bearer of such obscurities that happens to read this post will undergo metanoia and make these wares easily available to all which would be grand! Frankly, I get this feeling that the groups to be mentioned will remain unknown now and forever because, really other'n myself who would want to hear this stuff outside of the groups' mothers?

But try on I will, and who knows, maybe this post'll elicit a few good responses and maybe help sate my curiosity at least until the next round of rock mythmaking rears its ugly head!

1) Flamingo Road-Here's a pretty well under-the-covers New York act that I never would have known about 'cept for a very positive review of the group's CBGB audition courtesy of none other than Russell Desmond in the pages of his CAN'T BUY A THRILL fanzine way back in 1977. The infamous rock journalist-type scribbled down his opines after making a music-oriented jaunt up the East Coast way back in that rock active year, and if I do say so myself he done writ a nice piece where Desmond not only mentioned how he helped these young upstarts out a bit in the roadieing department but how their music was fantastic in more of an early-seventies innovative way 'stead of in late-seventies new (soon to be "gnu") wave copycat fashion. Desmond even name-dropped the Sidewinders and Hackamore Brick in his piece with typically titillating results, though not as a description of their style or influences but perhaps regarding their entire "aura" as a loud, local teenage rock 'n roll combo.

Also mentioned as a strong Flamingo Road influence were Mott the Hoople, something which I guess Desmond brought up because right after their showcase who else but Ian Hunter should stroll into CBGB only to see some more "patented" punk group doing a Ramones imitation which kinda irked Desmond because if Hunter would have been there an hour or so earlier he woulda seen a group that he perhaps coulda produced and made at least a good cutout-bound album with, and we all know we sure coulda used more of those back in those cost-conscious days, right?

I often wonder what happened to Flamingo Road considering the stellar rah-rah they were given here, and to his credit Desmond did end his writeup pondering just that considering that he hadn't read a word about 'em anywhere since their eponymous debut. As if he ever would, considering how the rock press in En Why, although concerned with acts who may have represented a late-seventies sense of punkdom, shied away from those who were more or less playing their punkitude filtered through late-sixties/early-seventies hard rockdom. I can tell you that Flamingo Road's name did pop up on at least one '77-era Max's Kansas City giglist, and I could only hope that they continued on perhaps under a new name with perhaps a record or two under their belt that might just surface and surprise all of us one of these days! Still, Flamingo Road might have been one of those under-the-counter En Why acts that coulda amounted to something, if only the majority of local rockscribes didn't seem to have their heads firmly placed upsides the behind of Robert Christgau!*

2) Master Radio Canaries-Here's another oddity, a Long Island group that I've been interested in hearing ever since reading a few on-line blurbs about 'em thanks to the Alien Planetscapes website which is easily enough obtained via the linkup on the left. From what the blurbs (and the comments on this very blog) have said, the Master Radio Canaries were a space rock oriented bunch who used to have wild parties at their Long Island digs with plenty of hallucinogenic stimulation which I guess went along swell with the music they would be inundating their friends with. Along with many a local act they even made it to the New York during the great underground rock upheaval of the mid-seventies although the only gig that I ever saw listed of their was at Max's Kansas City during the summer of '76, and then on a weekday bill featuring three other bands! Kinda makes me wonder if they could get into their extended space jams with such a limited amount of time to play, and given that the group also utilized not only a home-made light show but dancers (including a ballet dancer and some guy doing robot moves) I wonder how their act would have worked on a relatively small stage, the kind most of these outta-the-way clubs undoubtedly possessed. The Canaries also reportedly had what you might call avant garde jazz leanings which led them to get booked at none other than Don Cherry's club, I believe it was called either Environs or perhaps The Brook, and there is a glowing recollection of the show that can be found on the Master Radio Canaries  segment of the Alien Planetscapes  site which only makes me wanna know even more than what is obviously being presented to us via this often limited web.

I was in touch with the group's drummer Andy George (who also worked as a soundman for various acts and dives throughout the late-seventies) who gave me a nice rundown on the group from their German guitarist Ken Kern (who met George while attending Minneola High School) as well as the development of the act from their school beginnings to stabs at professional breakthrough. One thing that George did mention to me was that the main influence of Master Radio Canaries was more or less the European progressive rock of Emerson Lake and Palmer, Yes, King Crimson, Jethro Tull, Led Zeppelin, Van Der Graaf Generator, Pink Floyd and Genesis to name a few. Nothing to really excite me true, but their love of the German underground of Can as well as Roxy Music and Gong did have me thinking that perhaps this was one outta-nowhere act that I could get behind even if their musical chops might veer into directions that I do feel rather uncomfortable with, queasy musical constitution of mind and all!**

George also did mention that there were loads of Master Radio Canaries tapes lying around and yes, these things do deserve to see the light of day. There was even this really great looking Master Radio Canaries flier that George said would have looked great cover-art wise! Haven't heard anything about a Master Radio Canaries release as of late (the last I've been in touch with the guy was back in June of '09) so something inside me sez that maybe it's time I drop him an email to like, encourage him to get the project up and runnin'! CD Baby awaits you George, as does at least one rather curious aficionado out there!***

3) The Ratz-Of all of the local groups that got their 15 minutes of fame via BACK DOOR MAN these guys may have been one of the more interesting ones, or at least one of the more interesting ones that never did release any booty that I know of. What really piqued my interest in these guys (who had that smarmy new wave look down pat, and in 1975!) was when someone wrote in to BDM asking if they were Tujunga's answer to the Velvet Underground. Well, at least that was a good start!

4) Bitch-Another New York act lost to time, at least their singer's long forked beard and general get up has me thinkin' a good early/late-seventies mix up of various hard rock stylings that were above par yet never would go anywhere with all of the competition in tow. Reports had the singer marked as a local freak who just vamoosed into the ether, a fate which seems to have befallen not only the groups on this post but many of the half-million acts that traipsed upon the local rock stages from the early-seventies until that fateful day when CBGB closed thus putting a cap on the seventies for good!

5) The Seventh Seal-I've blabbed on enough about Detroit's first psychedelic band co-led by future Commander Cody guitarist Bill Kirchen and bassist Ron Miller, but after all these years recordings continue to elude us all. Hey John Sinclair, if you're really as people-oriented as your type claim to be how about releasing some of this music for us people anyway? And while you're at it, don't go 'round making a profit on it 'r anything!

6) Mong-While Andy Paley's Sidewinders sorta came, saw and conquered the New York intelligentsia rock scene in 1972 brother Jonathan's Mong attempted to do the same a good four years later. Some waves were made, but any chance of recording were shot when the group was disbanded so Jonathan could join his brother in a surf-pop update which actually landed 'em in the pages of 16 as well as on the stage of CBGB. But hey, props must be given to a group in 1976 who not only performed "I Fought The Law" a good year before the Clash but the closing theme to FIREBALL XL-5 which proves that they, along with the Electric Eels, were pumping classic television consciousness into their repertoire long before the B-52s and various new wave ginchies thought of it a good half-decade later!

7) Psy Free-Often touted as the premier krautrock band, this trio led by future Tangerine Dream/Ash Ra Tempel/solo star Klaus Schulze never did record. That doesn't mean that there aren't some hotcha tapes recorded in the most dismal of situations wallowing about somewhere, and although I do get the feeling that my anticipations might overwhelm the reality if I ever do get to hear this group I'm also sure that there would be more than a scant amount of fun historical value that I could ooze outta it.  Not for Teutonic wanksters only.

8) Harlan and the Whips-Mentioned on this blog a number of times in the past, Harlan and the Whips were, along with Bernie and the Invisibles, the Savage Tractors and Serena WilliamS Burroughs' various endeavors, an example of what was going on beneath the already way underground Cleveland scene of the v. late-seventies. Led by David Solomonoff, the Whips were a drummerless trio whose sound was compared to WL/WH Velvets and TROUT MASK Beefheart, and frankly these guys were so under-the-concrete that their performances were limited to private get-togethers and confused customers who'd walk in on their rehearsals in the back room of the Coventry bookstore right next to Tommy's. Johnny Dromette was interesting in doing a single taken from a rehearsal tape which Solomonoff gave to Paul Marotta to transfer from cassette to reel, though the Drome empire crumbled around the same time and the tape somehow got lost in transit. If it ever surfaces I hope a reactivated Drome will crank out a release as soon as possible!

9) Man Ray-Name-dropped in passing more'n a few times by not only group bassist and industry mover Richard Robinson but his wife Lisa, Man Ray must have been one of the most legendary "wha' th'?" groups ever. Lisa's description of their planned stage set up (white clothing and instruments bathed in white light) and how their stark aesthetics were only then (1975) being utilized by the local underground rock groups made them the most interesting rock concept I've heard about in quite some time. But did they or didn't they exist? I was told that Lenny Kaye was a member, but is this that act that he had with rockcrit Robert Palmer that was mentioned in the IT CAME FROM MEMPHIS book or what? Many questions do need to be answered and soon, for I get these extraterrestrial vibrations in my mind that tell me Man Ray were the perfect encapsulation of the best of '66 Velvets filtered through '77 New York No Wave, and boy am I salivatin'!

10) Damage-Not too sure about this one, since  Ralph Alfonso (in the pages of his Toronto Scene History for BOMP!) had 'em sounding like one of the craziest exponents of free rock the early-seventies could hope to come up with while some on-line descriptions had me thinkin' more hippie jam band crams. Pessimistic me sez it's probably way more of the latter'n the former, but then again, I think I was wrong once in my life...

11) David Roter-Yeah, I know that this venerable Blue Oyster Cult lyricist has a number of albums to his moniker, but I'm not talkin' "The David Roter Method", his long-time group that featured various Blue Oyster Cult and Dictators in its ranks but the David Roter of solo folkie fame! Y'know, that same Roter who had been a force on the En Why guitar strumming scene since the early-sixties (a real trick considering how he was born in the late-forties!) whose career was being touted by such rock writing stalwarts as Richard Meltzer and Bobby Abrams ever since the late-sixties making most if not all of us wonder just who the heck this guy was! Known for such numbuhs as "I'm a Doper (And Not Ashamed)" as well as having a style and swerve that Abrams had compared to everyone from Syd Barrett to Wild Man Fisher, the folkie Roter seemed like such a switch from the usual strumbos to the point where I wonder wny his late-sixties rep. never did get the royal treatment one would think it deserved. Hey Al Bouchard, if you were such a friend of the guy howzbout giving his memory a royal treatment collection complete with a detailed history so at least one more rock 'n roll mystery'd be cleared up once and for all!

12) Metteyya's Voice-Have no idea what these guys were about, but they sure had a cool name, and a unique one too considering how this act was popping up at CBGB in the midst of the new underground rock renaissance. I have they feeling they might have been more psycho-proggy 'n mid-Amerigan punk, but then again sometimes the borders can tend to get blurred...

Now, I could go on and mention every other group real or imagined that might have popped up on the radarscope o'er the past thirtysome years from Junior Birdmen and Sorcerers to that one group the future Pagans in the Hudson brothers had where they'd perform on Milk's gear in between sets at the Willoughby Ohio YMCA, but I do have to stop somewhere. No doubt as soon as I post this 'un some act I've totally forgotten about due to frustration'll pop right into my mind to which I say...well, there's always Part Two...
* And whaddaya know, but when I decided to comb the internet for at least a shard of information on Flamingo Road which I hope might have surfaced somewhere what do I find but an entire website dedicated to the group who I guess have reformed and have not only done a show or two but they've even recorded an album's worth of material! True, I sometimes shudder at the thought of these guys in their late-fifties doing what shoulda been done in their mid-thirties, but still I am curious enough to find out more about 'em and even order their disque when finances deem it proper. I still get the feeling that I might be in store for a straight-ahead rock excursion in the Sidewinders/Hackamore Brick vein, though experiencing something along these lines at my advanced age makes me wonder...should I consult a cardiologist or endocrinologist first?

**Really, don't be too surprised that a few more progressive rock-oriented acts could be espied at the lower Manhattan rock clubs during this period in time. Pentwater, a Chicago progressive rock act heavily into the same import-bin stuffers as the Canaries, played CBGB and then Max's during an East Coast tour during the late-autumn months of 1976 while around the same time there was a group called Amber Waves that was playing Max's with regularity, at times getting the entire bill to themselves so's they could perform their very own rock opera, "Justice and Sundown". Figuring that, due to this fact these guys were perhaps outta the same post-Who mold as the Planets, Fast and a variety of groups who were hot on the local scene at this time, I was surprised to discover that Amber Waves were heavily into the prog scene, and that in fact Max's had even set aside a special showcase night for Manticore Records to check 'em out. Manticore liked what they heard, but at this time the entire label was falling apart along with the ELP tour which was destructing right in front of everybody's eyes so that was the end of any chance of Amber Waves making any records, and from what I could tell that was the end of Amber Waves as well. Well, at least they had a pretty neat name, even if they also had a Mellotron that used to break down mid-song all the time!

***A recent lowdown from a local fan of seventies underground rock and faithful BLOG TO COMM reader "Arctic Ranger" gives a li'l more info on the Canaries. Ranger says that the description of the show on the Alien Planetscapes site was not one of the Canaries but of an earlier version of the act called Mazumba! For the most part the Canaries were a five-piece consisting of guitar, bass guitar, ARP synth, percussion and drums and they mostly did about 40-minute sets of instrumental music with perhaps some spoken word, all ending with their set-closer "The Idi Amin Factor". The Canaries played CBGB a few times as well, though they preferred staying close to the Long Island digs for shows. Ranger described their sound as being akin to a "space rock Grateful Dead", and if you think such a description is going to necessarily scare me off well, I am made of stronger stuff (I think!).

Thursday, September 08, 2011


I kinda get the sneakin' suspicion that you think maybe it was a little bit too soon to do yet another Sweeney Todd knockoff, especially after the all-time classic with Todd Slaughter way back inna mid thirties. Just think of it this way...back then the studios had a whole lotta censorship problems to worry about which meant they couldn't always create the hotcha gotcha kinda mooms we all know and love, and at least this rendition of the story  hadda whole lotta things in it that the original film couldn't have, like moan and grope love scenes, not to mention a whole lotta nice 'n bloody All-Amerigan dismemberment and skull cleavage with loads of blood pouring outta cracked craniums! And although some of you may think that movies were better off without sex and violence...y'know the ol' Michael Medved line about how great THE WIZARD OF OZ was and there was no sex in it...but frankly I would dread seeing a movie with a Margaret Hamilton nude scene! Even the thought of it is enough to send my grapenuts right back up to my ribcage!

Knowing Andy Milligan's typical output this is fine snazz. About two steps about the Kuchars, yet somewhere beneath William Beaudine. There's a slight home movie look to this, the same kinda ambiance you get in old Kenneth Anger films yet with the ancient stock music endlessly careening through the soundtrack you kinda get to thinkin' of maybe what SINS OF THE FLESHAPOIDS coulda been with maybe another fifty bucks added to the budget. But really, did any of that ever stop you from watching a movie knowing that whatever some big studio production could do horribly with millions, these independent guys could do much worse with only thousands? And it sure comes off a whole lot better in the long run!

But when you get down to it, BLOODTHIRSTY BUTCHERS does tend to snooze along in spots. I blame that on Milligan's insistence on a strong plot and deeper insight into his characters, something that doesn't quite belong in movies unless you're working under some delusion that you're trying to create some form of GREAT ART. At which point I say give up making films and learn how to paint pix of great looking nude wimmin instead. At least you'll be benefiting the culture at large, as well as the chances of some single-digit boys to sneak a peak in some classy art mag/book w/o getting yelled at for being sickos! At least the acting is pretty high school drama, which helps. Loads of young English snoots who already have the long hair and sideburns fit in splendidly with the antiquated look that this movie was trying to present, even if they all do look kinda like they should be performing in various local folk rock excursions like Steeleye Span or the Albion Dance Band. Maybe they were in these groups...oh well, I guess they hadda do something in between recording duff albums!

Sunday, September 04, 2011

As the summer season slowly but surely creeps to a grinding halt and the nights begin to get longer 'n chillier, all I gotta say is has this been one of the most nondescript, dullsville summers to have plagued us in recent years or what!!!  I'm not just talkin' the overall weather situation (notice how it hadda get boiling hot right around the time the kiddies got sent back to school?---well, serves them bastards right!), but the major music listening jamz which have been rather snoozaroonie, at least to the point where even I've been having trouble filling out a Forced Exposure order to break this boredom spell that's upon me, that's how tiresome (and lacking in hotcha releases) these past few months have been! So, in keeping with the tradition set throughout the aforementioned months here's yet another rather toned down and certainly unworthy of your time post detailing a few items which have graced my ears withing the past 192 hours. Nothing much to sneeze at true, but at least I'm keeping up a hallowed tradition of subpar blogposts that dish out stuff you've known about for ages which can be easily enough found via other sources...not by me mind you but I figure if other "bloggers" can rehash old Dave Marsh sputum and present it as new and innovative maybe I can jump on their bandwagon anyday and maybe even get away with it!
FELLINI'S BASEMENT CD (the group's own label)

Yeah, I know that these Velvet-alikes just haven't been sustaining the proper amt. of consciousness ever since the dweebs amongst us (myself included!) were introduced to their wonders, but despite all of those precocious and altruistic indie singles and "Sweet Jane" covers that have made up a hefty part of indiedom's entire oeuvre these past twentysome years there have been a few acts inspired by their godliness that actually live up to the legend! Well, at least they live up to the legend that followed the VU in the likes of acts ranging from the Modern Lovers to Electric Eels which is more'n I can say about a good portion of the "Velvet Underground" "inspired" acts that seem to be hawking their wares on CD Baby these days..

There naturally are many exceptions...Fadensonnen being one that really knows how to take the better aspects of the early-Velvets and shape them into an especially New York-ish gutter image that will continue to last. I also remember one group called Bela who released a pair of rather digestible even if standard Velvet Underground-inspired disques back during the cusp of the last century. And today's act in question, Fellini's Basement, did a pretty snazz job of refashioning the Velvet swerve themselves to the point where they even sounded good enough to have been one of those mid-seventies knockoffs that used to get rock crits rushin' to their thesauruses to find words even more daunting and dignified than the ones they were using to describe Joni Mitchell's various mental breakdowns!

Fellini's Basement had quite a lot goin' for 'em as well as some solid supporters. Peter Crowley was but one of 'em which is why the group were often seen playing at the short-lived revival of Max's Kansas City, not to mention appearing at one of those Crowley nights at CBGB (Christmas '99 I believe) opening for none other'n Von Lmo. The list of admirers and associates listed on the insert includes such familiar monikers as Leee Black Childers and Billy Name,  and none other than former Pere Ubu/DNA/Eclectic Eels bassist Tim Wright produced the shebang!  It all seems like one of those glorious last gasps of seventies kultur run amok, and in many ways it probably was at least until the arrival of the Ruby and the Rednecks Cee-Dee a few years later.

But all seventies-fixations aside, FELLINI'S BASEMENT is one of those more recent under-the-counterculture platters that won't have you thinking all sugarplums and sweetness like a good portion of the nausea-inducing post-VU drek that's graced my ears many a time o'er the past few decades. Hard-edged and powerful, with a dedication to the big drone that always sounded thin when placed into the hands of the usual batch of superficial pretenders who always claim total Velvet devotion yet never could deliver on the group's more feral dimensions. "New York City", like its subject matter, is a tough thumper that conjures up memories of the better seventies VU adherers from Hackamore Brick to the Real Kids to the Styrene Money Band and really shows what this act coulda aspired to had they lasted a li'l longer on the club circuit. Whatever  did happen to 'em anyway?

I have the feeling that this 'un's probably being stored away in some box in some warehouse somewhere and is rather inexpensive at that. Maybe Peter Crowley can tip us off as to where we can get hold of it...I'm sure whoever put this 'un out has more'n a few to unload, if you know what I mean.
Magic Muscle-LAUGHS AND THRILLS CD (World Wide Records, EEC)

Since my cassette of this has been emitting a hefty squeal throughout
play I figured that it was time for an upgrade. And as far as upgrades go it's pretty snazz; not that the sound is particularly any better (as if that mattered to you) but at least there ain't that squeal that for the life of me I can't get rid of nohow!

Magic Muscle ain't exactly your typical "punk before punk" band given that the only one who could classify himself as being a punk in the remotest sense here's lead guitarist Huw Gower, and the only thing he's known for is the Records! Hardly like Jesse Hector playing in all of those great plow through groups he was in before the Hammersmith Gorillas! But still Magic Muscle were a relatively boss "people's band" type of act who had their early-seventies chops down well enough that they were even the opening act for the Hawkwind SPACE RITUAL tour, so let's just say that if you like that early-seventies form of English hard-scrape gnarl the kind that could be plentifully found on the DO WHAT THOU WILT collection you...uh, might like this.

There's none of the swirling oscillation that was part and parcel to the early-seventies Hawkwind swerve here, but Magic Muscle's still a great Ladbroke Grove feelinge right down to the cover of "Waiting For My Man" even if vocalist/guitarist/leader Rod Goodway mixed up the second and third verses. But  so what because this is all really hefty rock et roll that does tend to satisfy ya even if at times the momentum seems to be fiddling around trying to find that certain groove to get into. And true, you could say that there were probably thousands of bands like this in ol' Blighty that were sorta wallowing in the murk somewhere in between psychedelia and punk, but hay ain't that the entire fun and joy of it all? Especially seekin' 'em out in order to give 'em a li'l listen!

Kinda wonder how the old PENETRATION fanzine missed out on this one (maybe they did write about 'em only it ended up on one of their many faded pages), but it's a good example of what some of the more obscure acts in England were up to during the earlier part of the seventies. And once you get down to it, it only makes a hardcore rocker like yerself just wanna hear more, in fact EVERYTHING that was passing for the hard-edged seventies underground rock not only in England but in New York, El Lay, Paris, Tokyo and hey, maybe even in your own backyard so if you know where them tapes are, press 'em up and shoot 'em out!
Rodd Keith-SAUCERS IN THE SKY CD-R BURN (sorry, don't know the label but it's available on download somewhere out there in the great unknown!)

Leave it to Bill Shute to send me a Cee-Dee-Are of this eventually infamous singer of songs set to poetry, the kind you'd send along with a tidy sum to have it set to music and become about as famous as the previous doof who sent HIS hard won dough in! But it's not that I really don't cozy up to Rodd Keith and his various aliases' nerkball popisms at all---actually I cringe at the way all of those INCREDIBLY STRANGE MUSIC/RE-SEARCH types wallowed in alla this mid-Amerigan gunk in order to feel superior to us proles who supposedly bolstered up the coffers of the likes of Keith thinkin' they were gonna be really rich 'n famous within a good fortnight at the latest!

As far as I can tell this ain't Keith during his set your poetry to music days (though I do think that's him playing an early Chamberlain on at least a few of these tracks) but hey, I can't really complain about Keith's gosharootie deliveries on a bevy of popsters spaning the entire sixties spectrum from 1961 gunch to '69 AM bangs 'n beads Bobby Sherman imitation. True it's nothing I'd want to make a steady diet of but sheesh, I can sure get my kicks listening to the ham belting it out on some pseudo-gospel quap or doing his best to cash in on that whole '62/'66-era tough male solo singer genre complete with wooh-woohing femme backing. There's even a li'l bitta surf music that rival's Lou Reed's excellent proto-Velvets warble on "Johnny Won't Surf No More" as well as an anti-drug schpiel which I guess was about as honest as Bill Cosby's considering Keith's legendary imbibing and ultimate self-snuff while tightrope walking a guardrail on a highway overpass.

Actually this is the perfect aural counterpart (at least in spirit) to those mid-sixties "adults only" crankout films that sure promised a whole lot but gave ya more cheezoidisms tossed back at ya (oh but what tasty curds they may have been!), and maybe if you too spent your summer days on the back porch playing pop-o-matic games by yourself while the neighbor's transistor blared the hits you might find at least a li'l bit of satisfaction in this.

I never used to cozy up to the Bearsville-period Sparks the way I did their early Island-era material. After thirtysome years I finally realize just why...although Sparks were certainly trying to sound English on those early releases, the El Lay atmosphere was still permeating their sound and style causing for some mighty contradictory storm fronts to form. Talk about a clash of kulturs! It wasn't until the Mael Brothers dumped the Mankeys and Harley Feinstein and headed over to old Blighty that they got their English group as well as the proper limey influx that was needed to hone their sound into that full fruity flavor that made the group so popular with import-bin shoppers back in those all-too-much-fun mid-seventies.

But that's no reason to slag the original group, who obviously put up a strong showing on this second platter for the Bearsville organization. There's a nice aura of pseudo-decadent snat that makes the otherwise iffy material stand out a li'l bit more than you would have given it credit for, and even with Russell's castrati vocalese there still seems to be enough of a underlying grit that has me thinking that these guys coulda been on the same wavelength as a number of early-seventies pre-punk washed-under-the-tide-of-a-ton-of-Chicago-albums wonders as the Sidewinders or even the Magic Tramps!

Yeah, I know that the entire Sparks demeanor has been misused and abused over the years, but if I do recall even some of the brighter rockscribes of the day (Alan Betrock comes to mind) had heavy hopes for Sparks as a major voice in seventies rock vocabularianism (Betrock enough that he had Russ Mael pose with Cherry Vanilla on the cover of the fifth issue of THE NEW YORK ROCKER) and I do recall reading somewhere that when Sparks played Max's Kansas City in '72  (see snap on right showing 'em receiving an award for selling twenty-five copies of their "Wonder Girl" single in Philadelphia Mississippi) about half of the local groups were front and center studying Earle Mankey's various guitar poses, if not guitar prowess. And although I really upped my chuck upon hearing these original recordings oh so many eons ago I now find them to be just the right mix of early/mid-seventies sophisto and punk musing! True, such a description might seem rather alien to the standard alien amongst us, but I've found that sneakin' this 'un in between my Elliot Murphy and New York Dolls albums might just be the best statement I could make about what those years had to offer us, in the most undiluted, suburban teenage pimplefarm rock fan way possible! And who knows, you might too!!!
Like you were expecting more??? Lucky you got these boogers, chum!