Sunday, July 22, 2012

Bwah, was I feeling strange Thursday night! Here it was, the first heavy duty rainfall we've had in awhile, and I was looking out the window at the evening haze while giving my eyes a rest from the computer screen. Wouldn't you know but for reasons I will try to explain later, I done 'n zapped myself back to the most ennui-filled experiences of my long-gone teenage years to the point where I was actually re-experiencing all of those queasy and uncomfortable feelings that I had way back when I was eighteen smackin' years old and reaching out in twenty directions yet going nowhere! Why this happened I am not 100% sure, but somehow the strange rain-drenched and perhaps slightly-foggy atmosphere reminded me of none other than the summer of 1978, a span which just happened to be one of the most halcyon times in my life yet in many ways the eerie calm before the big kaboom that pretty much wrecked my life to the point of no return. The never-sated feelings of unease from those days actually drove me batty enough to the point where, as a result of this major mental breakdown, I ended up doing nothing but spin various seventies faves which I've been ignoring for quite some time (some which will be the subject of a future post!) and viewing not only old proto-underground avant garde shorts on youtube but a number of Cleveland "first wave" items and related (inc. Brian Sands' boffo remake of "Baby You're a Rich Man" and the Ex-Blank-X single which had John Morton's ass on the front cover) in a valiant attempt to buffer myself from these uncomfortable thoughts with the better moments from the music of our lives. Yeah, I know that the seventies never really left me in spirit, but sometimes I get these strange flashbacks regarding those days that are about as potent as any of the LSD variety, usually spurred on by dreams where some femme(s) that I may have had heavy duty throb thrills from afar re-enter(s) my life and well, still ignore(s) me about as much as the last time I saw them all inside the local A&P which is now a cheapo apartment complex. Yes, I even strike out major league-like in my dreams, and as Wilhelm Reich once said "thaz a bad sign, mister!"

Well, if Paul Simon had his books and poetry to protect him back when he was getting into one of his self-indulgent moods at least I got my music and fanzines, not to mention all of the boss rock writing (not "criticism") that helps occupy my time twixt the salt mines and snoozeville. Frequent fanzine digs really help re-charge the ol' batteries esp. when accompanied by music with the ability to transform (yeah that sounds unnecessarily brainy, but I don't want you all to think that I wallow in the realm of anti-intellectualism despite evidence to the contrary), and if I want to read some "Golden Age of Rock Writing" that's new to my system I can always hit the computer and print up some classic seventies rock critiquing that always seems to re-affirm my life at a time when high quality rock screeding has pretty much ground to a frightening and staid halt. Yeah, I know I can save the paper and just read 'em on the screen, but wouldn't you agree that it just ain't a rock 'n roll reading experience if the words ain't on paper and you're relieving your bowels while enjoying a particular potent paragraph courtesy Lester Bangs?

Given how I haven't been exposed to the NME state of things like I shoulda back when I was a sprouting teenage blubberfarm the various scribings of people like Nick Kent and Charles Shaar Murray (with appropriate sidesteps into Ian MacDonald, Mick Farren and the rest) really need to resonate now even if they didn't back when the resonating would have done its best on me. Gotta say that I now find it a total joy to read the old writings of these hands here in the teens even if the subject matter isn't quite as enthralling as it should be or if their own personal opines are totally foreign to mine. But sheesh, these guys were such good writers who never left their punkitude in the dresser drawer even when they'd be writing about subjects that I  personally find abhorrent or instantly passe.

Unfortunately getting my fill of seventies rock scribing on the web can turn out to be a rather costly affair especially if you have to rely on getting your fill through the Rock's Backpages website. Frankly, don't YOU (like I do) think that Rock's Backpages are really rooking us with their hefty fees which almost equal (including inflation) what a subscription to the NME would have cost ya airmail way back 1975 way? Yeah, I know they have "upkeep" and a high overhead to attend to, but once you settle down and think about it ain't charging us peons $90 for a year's access to their vault is nothing short of highway robbery?  This site, although containing all of those important and necessary NME/SOUNDS/CREEM pieces we need with a passion, is something that only the same people who could tackle getting all of the British weeklies and imports way back when can affort, and in case you haven't noticed I ain't exactly Rollo the Rich Kid! Sluggo is more like it, and unfortunately it ain't like I even have any Rollos in my life who can lend me their hand-me-down mags and platters like I did way back in the days when something like a social life wasn't exactly a luxury I couldn't afford!

I know I can find a few of the requested items for free elsewhere on the web, but in order to make my life (and reading material) much easier a subscription to Backpages would definitely be something on my Christmas list this coming December. Until then it's suffer, suffer, suffer, although if you readers are really hungry for more of my writing (and that of others) you can always go 'n buy a heaping hunk of BLACK TO COMM BACK ISSUES which will help keep me solvent enough not only for me to afford a sub, but at least a few ebay auctions and Forced Exposure orders t'boot. If any of you longtime fans (all three of you!) want to help out a financially destitute blogschpieler catch up on his reading and listening doodies, I'm sure you all know where to send your kopeks, right?

This week's selection of reviews is a nice smattering if I do say so myself. Gotta give thanks to Bill Shute for his frequent burns which help this lovable ol' pooperoo make it through the day, plus the remnants of my latest Forced Exposure order can be found roaming around somewhere in the mix. Not to mention a few ebay wins and whatever else in the line of jetsam I'll probably tack to the end at the last possible moment. If I must blow my own bugle so to speak I will admit that there is a good amount of energy extant not only in these recordings but in the reviews as well...nothing quite as exhilarating as that of a Bangs or Kent mind you, but then again one of my major writing influences is Greg Prevost though I get the feeling he'd blanch at the thought of it. Awwww, just go 'n read the things, willya?

Various Artists-ROCKABILLY HOODLUMS Vol. 2 CD-R burn (originally on White Label, Holland)

Ever since KICKS magazine went outta business I haven't been listening to rockabilly music as much as I shoulda. Well, at least Bill Shute has been gettin' on my ever-expanding tail by sending me burns like this 'un from the high quality White Label outta Holland. White Label has had a good reputation for re-releasing these fifties rarities at least since the eighties (maybe earlier!), and this collection of  self-produced/distributed rockabilly tracks ain't no different. Think of 'em as PEBBLES for the fifties and you'll get the gist.

Almost seventy minutes of obscuros here, some which I gotta admit woosh right past me but most of which connect in my mind enough that they sound just as representative of the mid/late-fifties ideal as ABBOTT AND COSTELLO reruns. And guttural too, even to the point where they can make those early Elvis Sun sides sound like Alvino Ray. Highlights include Johnny Pal & the Winchester Four's "Tired of Travelin'" , The Emanons' "Big Boy Rock" and the tastebud tantalizin' "Chicken in the Basket" by the Tri-Tones which ain't about eatin' foul, but I think they got around the subject matter just fine!
Factrix-SCHEINTOT CD (Superior Viaduct, available via Forced Exposure)

I wasn't as impressed with a whole load of those early-eighties West Coast experimental rock outfits like Tuxedomoon, BPeople and Human Hands like you were, and that's undoubtedly the reason why I passed up on all of those Factrix records back when the latest Renaissance/Systematic catalog would slither my way before I got unceremoniously dumped from their mailing list. Of course with such limited finances and so many new and hotcha records to choose from it wasn't like I'd throw caution to the wind as of which records out there were gonna thrill me the way they do!

Now that I'm a self-made man and can buy out the record shop and give it to the poor, I figure hey why not give Factrix a chance considerin' how a whole lotta the early-eighties canon is comin' in for a re-evaluation now that we've finally hit the post-post-POST-rock strata in World Affairs.

To be honest I wasn't that wowed by this, though I felt that Factrix's entire raison d'etre was as good an approach to various late-sixties accomplishment as that of Chrome or even early Cabaret Voltaire. But it's sure dang more'n passable than a good portion of the local groups that were fighting for the bottomest of my bottom dollar at the time, many of whom were traveling the same stratum as Factrix but tended to forgo their more rockist inclinations in favor of industrial noisesplat that never did settle well with my delicate system.

Who knows, maybe the entire dank dark despair that emanates from this does mirror the same feelings I was harboring at the time these tracks were being laid down. Then again I'm sure that more'n a few of you readers were spending the early-eighties just wondering where your next life-move was coming from and besides you didn't tune into this blog to read my rheumy reminiscences about past failures and rejections now, eh?

Actually SCHEINTOT is whatcha'd call a decent example of the early-eighties industrial scronk, even if this is far from the atonal blare of a Throbbing Gristle or any of their fellow travelers who people even in this neck of the throat talked about in hushed tones. They're a slow twist of the nerves rather'n an all out assault, and in that approach there are more'n a few spots of brilliance that'll even make my overworked hammer 'n stirrup rise in salute! Late seventies underground wankers will definitely approve, though the more rockist inclined amongst us should approach with at least a tad of caution. If not hey, send me all of the threatening and caustic comments you'd care to dig up...and just see if I publish 'em! 
Toi et Moi-THIRD ALBUM CD (MRC, South Korea)

Got this 'un for the promise of a Velvet Underground cover despite the fact that this male/femme duo of Korean descent were more or less bred of the early-sixties Greenwich Village folkie idiom (complete with a Simon and Garfunkel cover!) 'stead of the dark junkie visions of the Lower East Side that you all know I so desire. Considering how big heroin is over there you'd think these two would have been copycatting the entire Velvets oeuvre with ease, but I guess their heads were a whole lot clearer'n I gave 'em credit for!

But really, the prospect of hearing a '71 vintage VU cover from halfway 'round the world did seem enticing even if it were being done by some Korean folkies who probably wish they were at the Cafe Bizarre 'stead of a country that was being threatened with North Korean missiles for nigh on twenty (now sixty!) years.

Even if there weren't any Velvets covers to lure me in Toi et Moi do fine with a halfway decent if commercial folk music that doesn't sound too gravestone rubbing introspective for my own tastes...sung mostly in Korean, the duo strum guitars (the male member even playing a melodica at times!) and warble some rather pleasant ditties that don't exactly grate on ya like some of the less subtle masters of the form like Melanie did. And not only that but they made music that was driving if relaxing, at times imbued with the early-sixties all-inclusive credo to the point where even your stodg-o pop can tap foot to some of this while no one else is looking. The sound is great even if it was taken from vinyl and crackles are audible, and I can't complain about the S&G cover (even their take of "I Who Have Nothing" fits in swell!) because the two pull it off with just about as much taste as Lou Reed and John Cale might've during the reign of the Falling Spikes. Not only that, but the gal on the cover has a sweet, non-twee voice and sure is a looker who makes me wanna cop more snaps of her lovely visage via google (not to many there, unfortunately).

As you can tell Toi et Moi got a whole lot goin' for 'em, but where the heck's the Velvets song I was so looking forward to??? Sure ain't here!

Gee now, like don't go blaming me! When I bid on this album a coupla weeks back how did I know that legendary English jazzster Lol Coxhill was gonna up and die like he did! I mean, haven't you heard of coincidences, like the time Fulton Sheen said live on tee-vee after reciting a scene from Shakespeare's JULIUS CAESER (complete with various Soviet Union heavies like Berea and Malenkov's names replacing those from the oratory) that someday Stalin was gonna meet his doom and right then and there the Soviet strongman had the stroke that rapidly sent him off to The Big Politburo in the Sky? I mean, if I knew that buying this album was gonna knock off one of England's most legendary soprano sax players I would have waited until after he died, even though I've been wanting to give this 'un a listen (on/off) for well over thirtysome years!

Yeah, I know that Archie Bunker once sang "Didn't need no welfare state", but if you have even a modicum of interest in the English jazz scene of the seventies you probably need this one more'n you think. Not that I was expecting anything radical here, but WELFARE STATE is a nice, sublime example of English free music that can be traditional as all heck when it wanted to be. If you must know, Coxhill was the musical director for this bizarroid troupe that I could best describe as being a cross twixt The Living Theatre and a marching band, and the music to be found within these grooves is surprisingly tame and more representative of England in the thirties than they are of the 1975 in which this album was released. But don't let that discourage you...

Many of the tracks reflect the type of music you would have expected to have accompanied the "happening"-like antics Welfare State reveled in; nothing "out-there" as in mid-seventies English free jazz but pleasant enough ditties that sound like long-gone recordings from the BBC music library. With a little bit of spoken word and sound effects (and other recordings) thrown in to artsify the thing even more. The results may leave you scratching your bean (I guess you hadda be there to experience it en toto), but you probably will marvel at the mix and match of old time pop with a few atonal ideas that were thrown in undoubtedly to confuse the casual listener. Heck, they even do a veddy British version of Albert Ayler's "Ghosts" that could have been the theme for some 1940s radio programme aimed at the lot of sissy kids they got over there!  It's nothing I would want to spin on a nightly basis in order to recharge my life energy forces, but like the series of discs that came out on the Obscure label around the same time WELFARE STATE a reliable idea of where the old and new experimental sounds were at, and perhaps were heading at least until it all came down a short period later!
Various Artists-NEW WAVE cassette (Vertigo, England)

Had this 'un as an elpee for a good twenty or so years (an antique shop steal!), but picked this cassette up if only to rekindle some late-seventies record shop scrounging feelings in me. Of course the REAL question is, just what were the folks at Phonogram thinking of when they released this selection of punk rock flotsam on their Vertigo imprint anyway??? Given that Vertigo at the time was Phonogram's home for not only hard rock but progressive jollies of the English and German variety, I've often wondered as to why this obv. cash-in didn't make it out on Mercury or better yet Sire, a label that was best known for pushing the likes of the Ramones and Talking Heads on ya at least until they found their multi-million dollar cash cow in the form of Madonna!

After a whole lotta thought I concluded that this 'un got the Vertigo label-slap if only to reel in the beefy prog rock clientele that was Vertigo's forte with such unfamiliar music on a familiar looking label! I'm sure more'n a few fans of the standard Vertigo fare saw the label and thought "hey man, maybe this stuff ain't as bad as I think it is" so they up and bought it, only to get home, tear open the shrinkwrap with fingers trembling, remove the platter and spin it before ripping the thing offa the turntable and into the trash! I mean, what else would you have imagined?

Despite the opines of a few million ELP and Genesis fans, NEW WAVE was a good enough selection of punky-enough Phonogram artists suitable not only for the '77 beginner but for somebody who's just gotta have this stuff in order to re-live past accomplishments. It's got not only two prime New York Dolls and Dead Boys tracks each from their eponymous debuts, but Rich Hell and Talking Heads plus the Runaways, Patti Smith's "Piss Factory" and even the Flamin' Groovies doin' "Shake Some Action" which always get my blood flowin' like I know it does yours too! You can tell that at least a little care was put into this because the likes of French blues-punks Little Bob Story show up, although whose idea was it to include Skyhooks of all groups in the mix? I mean, if Phonogram wanted to get obscure they could at least've snuck on something by Sire's original CBGB signing City Lights 'stead of these phony outrage publicity seekers (who I've heard very little of but I still am mad at that one guy in the group who was goin' 'round calling Deniz Tek a Nazi...guess these Aussies will call anybody they remotely disagree with racist and sexist and get away with it because they're all so politically and genetically inbred!). Even with this obvious faux pas NEW WAVE's a release that at least reminds me of the days when music which you now take for granted was once a clandestine sound one could only find in the nearest import bin or maybe even cut out pile for that matter!
Perhaps the only thing I want to read/believe in the wake of the recent "Batman" shootings in Aurora Colorado can be found in Thomas Fleming's DAILY MAIL column which can be retrieved here. Everything else from the crocodile tears of Obama and Romney to all of the leeches trying to pump up their various causes because of this tragedy can go pound all of the fine grainy stuff at the beach if you really do want my humble opinion. Once again, Fleming shows true offensiveness in the face of us all "coming together" because some warped genius thought he was the Joker...well at least Wertham ain't around the pitch in his two cents!
BEFORE I GO, a hearty farewell to Alexander Cockburn, one of the few leftist journalists and webschpielers (COUNTERPUNCH) out there that I could not only stand, but enjoy reading and (shudder!) even agree with on many accounts. Funny that I was thinking about him just yesterday afternoon wondering why his writings haven't been appearing on the paleoconservative CHRONICLES website (where he was welcome just as he was on the libertarian as of late, and I only hope that my thoughts aren't what did the guy in like I'm at times wont to believe (kinda like the way Don Fellman tells me about the time he dreamed that Johnny Cash had died then woke up to find out that the Man In Black had indeed heard the train a' comin'!). Whatever, Cockburn's writings and interesting ideas will be missed, perhaps because he was one of the last probing scribes on either side of the aisle whose conclusions didn't HAVE to jigsaw in with whatever was haute and new on the mainstream left, which is probably one reason he was oft feted by the "unpatriotic" right most of the time as well much to the dismay of the neoconservative types like the Davids Frum and Horowitz. Whaddeva, I'm one stubborn curmudgeon who's sad to see Cockburn go, and who knows, maybe you should be one too.
Hope you can make it OK until my next post sometime during the mid-week. I think you can, but I do get the feeling that many of you just can't wait until I crank something out and fret away the hours until something from my keyboard finally makes its way to your sweaty boudoir. If so keep calm, read a whole lot of high energy fanzines and listen to life-reaffirming music while consoling yourself that I will be back in a few days to make your pitiful lives even more meaningful than they are now that you're totally under my power...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The Velvet Underground’s famed 1967 debut, The Velvet Underground & Nico, celebrates its 45th anniversary this year, and Universal Music is marking the occasion with a massive new reissue. According to The Quietus, the six-disc box set contains the original album in both mono and stereo versions, along with the Scepter Studios acetate version, Nico’s debut album Chelsea Girl, and recordings of the band’s Factory rehearsals and legendary concert at Valleydale Ballroom, Columbus, Ohio. The reissue will be available on October 1st