Saturday, February 18, 2012

Got some hotchas for you to discover with typical mouth-drooling wonderment this weekend (the Rocket one being perhaps the cream de resistance) along with a few more Bill Shute burns and who knows what else at this point in time, not even I considering how the Saturday morning mail hasn't arrived yet! And as you can probably get a hint of by now, I'm even more excited about this 'un than the time when I accidently found that stash of NATIONAL GEOGRAPHICs (the hula girl issues) in the trash can considering the all-umportant credibility of this week's writeup! Yes, bookmark this one because I know you're gonna be referring back to it as the years roll on and you all realise what a brilliant visionary I've been all along 'stead of the doofus retardo that many of you have oh-so-snobbily pegged me as in order to build up your own feeble sense of self-value!
Rocket From The Tombs-EXTERMINATION NIGHT 1974 download (available through

Well, better late'n never that this recent exhumation of the 12/22/74 Rocket From The Tombs gig at the Viking Saloon's "Extermination Music Night" makes its way into our minds and maybe even into our hearts. Given the dearth of recent upheavals of vital worth these days an item such as this is most certainly welcome even if we have to download it straight from the source and for a good $10 at that. Better this had been part of a Rocket box set featuring the group's rarities from their early comedy rock days up through the final bellow of "Search and Destroy," complete with a satin embossed sleeve and 100 page booklet featuring reminiscences from all of the surviving members but hey, it ain't like I'm complainin'. Let's just say that I've been waiting to hear this for well over thirty pain-packed years and I don't care if the folks at Hearpen were issuing this on a cylinder I wanna heat the thing and by gumption I wanna hear it like yesterday!!!

Yeah I know, as Archie Bunker always said "patience is a virgin", but dagnabbit I'm not getting any older and frankly I wanna digest each and every morsel of sixties/seventies underground merriment extant before I dare to venture off any further! And frankly this recording is a good place to start...really good sound, not quite FM clear but good enough to convey some mid-seventies bar ambiance during the Christmas rush. And, as I would have expected, Rocket also put on a rather hotcha show...pretty much the same set list as the infamous WMMS-FM broadcast of February '75 only with two additional Peter Laughner songs and (get this)...NO CRAIG BELL!!! No bass guitarist at all in fact, since wouldja believe that Bell was FORBIDDEN to perform with Rocket that night on strict orders of Jamie Klimek which makes this version of Rocket yet another one of those bass-less Cleveland underground groups along with the Electric Eels, Lepers, the early (and reunited 1986 variety) Dead Boys and even a version of Klimek's own Styrenes albeit this omission wasn't exactly something that was planned on!

I don't think that the lack of Bell has made a particular dent in the sound, but I will say that the group was pumping on all cylinders even if you can tell that these guys were still working out their bugs in their transition from comedy to serious. Many of the songs we've known and loved for years can be heard getting fleshed out before our very ears, with early takes on such classics as "So Cold" (with O'Connor on organ!) and the monstrous "Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo" sounding great even if you can hear some clutziness ensuing. Laughner's "Aint It Fun" sounds so teenage angst you kinda think it was Bud from FATHER KNOWS BEST doin' the singin' , while the show closer "Down In Flames"/"Search and Destroy" comes off like a beautiful mess and it falls apart then comes back before your very ears.

Naturally the ne'er before heard numbers will make your jaw drop as the magnificent energy reveals itself to you. The Stooges' "Rich Bitch", vocalized by Laughner at his punk toughest, sounds like a remake done entirely from memory the same way that Mirrors took "Guess I'm Falling In Love" and it came out "Hands In My Pockets". It's sure a winner though perhaps improved on by the addition of special guest Robert Bensick on alto sax, he being a long-time Laughner pal who later up formed the artzy-fartzy duo Berlin with his wife who were certainly the darlings of none other than Anastasia Pantsios back during the time she was going out of her way to ignore the true Cleveland underground force. Not holding this against him, I will admit that Bensick plays some mighty good alto here coming off a whole lot like not only fellow Clevelander Albert Ayler but what I was kinda hoping that Crocus Behemoth himself'd done on those latterday Rocket tracks recorded live at the Piccadilly Penthouse.

"Gasoline"'s a nice trip in itself, a still-timely ditty about the Energy Crisis where Laughner rants on about all of the people and things we're gonna have to sell to the Arabs in order to get our fuel. The downloaded liner notes state that it's Laughner himself who's doin' the wild mouth organ wailing here, and if he can do that and sing at the same time like is evident here let me say that he's really pulled off a hotcha coup this time! (I think the actual on-stage guest playing the "harp" is mentioned by Crocus himself though too muffled for my ears to pick up whoever the blower was that night.) And as for "New York Stars" well...if you need any more reason to drag your copy of SALLY CAN'T DANCE outta the pile now you have one! Can you think of any other excuses to listen to it???

I know that 99.999...% of you haven't even read this far into the review and have already downloaded and enjoyed your disques by the time, so for those of you who are too stoopid to have done this let me just say in my own inimitable way LIKE WHADDAYA NEED ANYWAY, AN ENGRAVED INVITATION??? This 'uns definitely the highlight of the brand new year and we can only hope that before we all get tossed into the miasma that '13's bound to be Hearpen'll have a whole load more downloads ready for us, like perhaps the original Rocket line up or rare rehearsals and naturally the many unreleased numbers that need to come to light (such as Crocus' "Redline"). Perhaps even some inter-band arguments would sweeten up the pot. Whatever, I know that its things like this that keep me going, so let's just say that if you wanna off me long before my given time just dry these wild metallic seventies hard gunch sources up and you won't have ol' Chris to kick around any more!
Jonathan Halper-"Leaving My Old Life Behind"/"I Am a Hermit" 45 rpm single (Puck Productions)

Yeah you can tape this soundtrack from the Kenneth Anger film PUCE MOMENT off the internet anytime you so desire, but dagnabbit if the idea of some enterprising youth making an illicit single version of these classic English-styled folk rockers wasn't just what the ol' collection needed. Evocative of solo Syd Barrett as well as certain Los Angeles post-Byrds outfits, these bedroom recordings not only made for a boffo soundtrack to Anger's ode to decadent Hollywood in the twenties (and replaced the original soundtrack taken from Verdi!) but reflects the entire jaded atmosphere that actress Yvonne Marquis certainly emulates as she slips on her black bangled gown. She's definitely a thespian who portrays the glamor of the twenties moviemaking world so vividly, perhaps as if she herself were a fading silent star who would eventually be eaten up by the powerbrokers that be or for that matter her starving whippets. Donovan should be tied down, poked with hot metal rods and forced to listen to this as punishment for all of the slurpy neofolkadoodle he's inundated us with way back when ("Barabajabal" notwithstanding).
Figures of Light-DROP DEAD LP (Norton)

"Drop dead!" Now there's a phrase that can be heard around the house and with relative ease at that! Maybe that's why this album of new recordings by the once lost to everything group Figures of Light really resonates with this humble bunghole. Yes, once again original members Wheeler Winston Dixon and Michael Downey are joined by A-Boners Miriam Linna and Marcus the Carcass, not to mention ex-Gories Mick Collins (who also produces) on guitar and as you've probably guessed by now the results do reflect the typical standards this blog has stood by since the very beginning. Rolling Stones '64 meets the Velvets filtered through the Stooges and pureed into the Ramones, a group who weren't even around when the Figures of Light chopped up televisions on stage which only goes to show you how psychic Dixon et. all were. Amazingly enough, this group of fifty 'n sixty-year-olds sound just as teenage and as growly about the world around 'em as the Fleshtones did in '77 which is no mean feat especially in these decidedly anti-rock 'n roll times! Great high energy romp throughs with typical muffled and slurred vocals (on "With a Girl Like That" I thought I heard Dixon singing "don't play with the thermostat" 'stead of the actual title!) and a general baby boom feel that'll make you wanna visit the group in their garage before dad gets home from work and the band beats you up after they find you lurking through the basement scarfing up unattended tootsietoys!

Archie Shepp-THE MAGIC OF JU JU LP (Impulse)

Considering some of the rather dullsville platters Shepp was presenting us with in the seventies, it's sure great to slip back in time to when the guy was creating some real FIRE MUSIC that really brings out the adrenaline in one's mind. Unavailable for years and going for the usual collector's prices on ebay, it's grand that Impulse has decided to re-release this one on 180 gram vinyl if only to present for us johnny-cum-lately po' boys just what all the fuss over this 'un was about in the first place. Shepp plays particularly outre here in the same manner as he did on those classic BYG sides, honking and screening to a bee-youtiful display of African percussion telegraphing out underworld-ly messages that I'm sure would scare the bejabbers outta you if you only knew what it meant. That's on the title side, whereas on the flip the man plays in a more "conventional" setting yet still gets into the gritty urban gnarl and atonal flare ups that I've known him best for. Yeah, Shepp's recordings eventually did take a noise-dive so-to-speak (though many of his later indie releases, such as the one with Zusann Kali Fasteau, remain unheard) but this 'un does cook more'n a cannibal bake off and ranks along with Coltrane's OM and Sanders' TAUHID some of the brightest moments of late-sixties New Thing morphing into early-seventies comprehension stretch.

Egg Eggs-THE CLEANSING POWER OF FRUIT LP; Anla Courtis, Okkyung Lee, C. Spencer Yeh, Jon Wesseltoft -COLD/BURN LP (Feeding Tube)

Two of the latest from the same bunch that brought you the Mars live LP released a few months back. Egg Eggs is a real strangity, a total off-kilter thought-splat courtesy a Matt Krefting who some fancy as a cross between Crocus Behemoth, Little Lulu and Col. Bruce Hampton or something like that (it always pays to read the accompanying hype sheets!) but actually transcends those influences into something so incomprehensible that the only reference I can think of offhand is perhaps the Butthole Surfers at their most lysergic addled with special guest Wild Man Fisher on lead vocals. Imagine a crazed retarded yet savant musician whose feasted at the table of the above visionaries and more who spews it all back at'cha with muddled brilliance and had the resultant trips through his various mental and visionary escapades pressed onto a low-fi low-press run platter. That's what'cha got here and if you can't take the cold hard fact of it well I guess that's something you're gonna hafta sort out between yourself and your own personal demons. Of course when all's said and done who's the real crazy, the guys who recorded this, released it, bought it, or ME trying to make some sense outta something that might be yet another example of self-produced beyond-the-ken-of-human-comprehension brilliance or one of the biggest hoaxes to be pulled off in the rock world since SOUND CHOICE magazine?

The COLD BURN platter's yet another interesting affair, an album of heavy duty droning and other squeals that were recorded by this particular quuartet live in Oslo Norway during the grand appearance of the Aurora Borealis nonetheless! Two of the names here, C. Spencer Yeh and Okkyung Lee, are familiar to me from the old "Freestyle Music" series that used to take place at the CBGB Lounge, though the others are totally unknown (though I sure would like to know more about the Argentinian electric guitar that Anla Courtis utilizes here). Together this aggregate performs some of the bestest one-tone noise drone I've had the pleasure of hearing since Lamonte Young. Most of you readers will probably just write it all off as more of that stodgy experimental music that only a mental ward major could appreciate, but I (as usual) tend to find more'n a li'l bitta worth in this type of tone. Brings back fond memories of my early avant garde music interest buddin' away whilst I would scan just about every obscure and usually stodgy publication extant trying to find out more about this music that was behind a lotta the stuff I was listening to, and maybe it's for that I give COLD/BURN a higher moozical grade'n I'm sure most of you booshy trolls out there would ever dare to!

Alex Chilton-FREE AGAIN: THE 1970 SESSIONS CD-R (burned for me by Bill Shute, no other info available)

Sheesh, I didn't even get through last week's package and here Bill sends me another batch of hot-pressed booty outta that ol' proverbial left field so to speak! And this one is definitely the pick of the litter being none other than the legendary unreleased for ages debut Alex Chilton solo album which was recorded between the fall of the Box Tops and the ascent of Big Star. Unfortunately that 'un never got released at the time for reasons I'm sure someone can dig up with enough internet searching under their elastic waistband, but that don't mean that it's not a definite WINNER.

Now I heard a tape of this that was goin' round back inna eighties but that was far from complete 'n kinda muffled to begin with....these tracks sound like they coulda been recorded yesterday though thankfully lack the modern sterility that makes for a suitable substitute for ipecac! Music-wise this is classic Chilton at his solo-est (and wildest), not that different from his late-seventies work that stymied more'n a few observers. Imagine the best moments of both the Box Tops and Big Star along with hefty references to the early-seventies pop scene back when it gave fans so much hope that even Greg Shaw said it was all coming back. Badfinger, T. Rex, the Raspberries and the Sidewinders combined into a mid-South pop recording and you pretty much get an idea of what this platter'll have in store for you once you download a copy yourself

Dunno if you can find this at the local five 'n dime, but heavy bets are on that a download should be available just as far as your fingertips. Just what you need in an age when tripe like Lady Caga and Nicki Menaste is being paraded across our television screens as if they were 2012's answer to Tiny Tim and Mrs Miller (and just wait until you hear what Chilton did to "Sugar Sugar"!)
David Hemmings-DAVID HEMMINGS HAPPENS CD-R burn (originally on MGM)

David Hemmings'll probably be forever (give or take 100 years) known for his role in the moom pitcher BLOW UP (y'know, that film your folks wouldn't let you watch when it was on tee-vee), but didja know that he also recorded this album for MGM shortly afterwards? I didn't, and surprisingly enough this 'un ain't an English production like I thought it would be but typical '67 Southern California sunshine folk rock that's also got the imprimatur of having been backed by the Byrds (you woulda thought the Yardbirds'd woulda gotten the job considering the BLOW UP angle!) as well as some of the better musicians the El Lay recording scene could whip up.The results are smooth and enchanting even if they somehow brought back too many vivid memories of early school years insecurity with the gloppy orchestral arrangements and pre-hippie pop trappings. Otherwise its a funzie trip, with Hemmings' rather creepy English-accented vocals playing well against the patented late-sixties pop that's about ten steps up from Rod McKuen and about on par with what I woulda hoped alla them early singer/songwriter albums that eventually drowned out the seventies woulda sounded like. Don't miss the sitar/tabla drones nor the sharp production courtesy of Jim Dickinson, a name that seems to stick out in my mind somewhere...
Here's an album that I thought I was gonna have a fun time reviewing! I even had a really good gag lined up for it..."this is an album that you really could throw stones at!"...but I thought that'd go over the heads of most of you heathens so I left it out. In actuality I really think this '69 platter from future Nervous Eater Steven Cataldo's a pretty hotcha release...naw, it ain't anything I'll be spinnin' consistently if at all o'er the next year or so but I think it's great that Cataldo was continuing on the psychedelic path while everybody else was either going whole earth catalog or straight to sopor heaven. It ain't anything that I'd call garage rock, but it ain't hippie either. Like the Hemmings album above. this is something that I sure wish more of the singer/songwriters of the day woulda done 'stead of the dippoid "Peace Train" scuzz and such that these fibre-plus types made their buckwheat with. It sorta straddles the line between decent, well-crafted pop and the kinda murk that teenage gals who used to iron their hair and press leaves in books while writing poems for the school literary magazine woulda liked, and even the bonus tracks from the magic year of '66 lend a bit of intelligent credence to the entire affair. An outta nowhere surprise that might have been trying to cop the James Taylor sensitive junkie market but sure the hell runs rings 'round all of the posturings he and his ilk had inundated us with for eons on end.


Serena WmS. Burroughs said...

Bensick also played synthesizer, an Arp Odyssey I believe, with the electric eels at one of those Viking gigs (that 12/22 gig I think), and later on with the Styrenes in a septet version of the band. Who knows, a recording of that may surface...stranger things have happened. By the way, Anla Courtis is also Alan Courtis, and was a part of the group Reynols, from Argentina...

No Stand In Will Do said...

Nice article but please double check the credit on that Egg,Eggs LP.
Matt Krefting is a fan, not a Egg, or an eater of fruit.

darwin layne said...

"...NO CRAIG BELL!!! No bass guitarist at all" - Gee, you make it sound like it was a good thing...

STWND said...

The singer of Eggs, Eggs was also the singer in Frothy Shakes, the band that did the great 'fake' KBD LP w/ made up bands/titles. He's pretty amazing. Not sure how they are from show to show, record to record, but they were great when i saw them awhile back at Port D'or - it's on youtube if you wanna view it.