Saturday, July 14, 2012

Yeesh, you'd think that the Grim Creeper'd give us olde-tymey tee-vee fans a break considerin' the recent passings of George "Goober" Lindsey, Frank Cady and Andy Griffith but nooooo, the guy just hadda cut a swath and mow down none other than former McHALE'S NAVY star and respected actor in his own right Ernest Borgnine this past Sunday! Like I'm sure it was in many households across the U.S. of Whoa back in the sixties, McHALE'S NAVY was burning brightly on our idiot box whenever it was on, and for some strange reason I can recall my mother laughing like anything when we were watching that episode about the Japanese sailors in a submarine who were catching Morse Code signals having to do with some grand dinner being served for some Navy bigwig, and these sailors were starving with nothing but fish sticks to eat so they gladly surrendered in order to get some of that high-falutin' grub themselves!

Yeah, that show was a doozy which thankfully survived in syndication for years unlike other many other early/mid-sixties programs of worth, though to be honest with ya I don't recall watching it that much when the reruns hit the just-pre-prime time hours in the late-sixties. I guess that I was still too immature to fully appreciate them given that I really wasn't tuning in to the sixties reruns until I was twelve by which time the values and qualities of these programs really began to sink in especially when compared with some of the gunk that was being made. Then (again) I do remember seeing the one with McHale's lookalike Eyetalian cousin (Borgnine in a double role) when it was airing in late-sixties pre-prime time, perhaps because I associate it with a day where I didn't have to go through any degradation and humiliation at the hands of either students or teachers at school. And believe-you-me, those days were mighty scarce!!!

Of course there was more to Borgnine than McHALE or any of this other tee-vee roles like AIRWOLF (that was from the eighties thus way outside of our scope), such as the wide array of feature-length films he had appeared in since the fifties. I always though it was a hoot that Borgnine would play a dago-hating soldier who murders Frank Sinatra in FROM HERE TO ETERNITY especially when you consider that Borgnine himself was of the Mediterranean persuasion, though MARTY used to get my dad cracking up whenever it hit the tube way back when, even to the point where he appreciated the MAD magazine spoof where Huey, Duey and Louie do the "What do you want to do tonight" gag when I showed it to him!. Naturally when Borgnine began popping up in those more adult "R"-rated films it wasn't like he was that much of a paizan as he used to be, but I gotta admit that he gave those late-sixties and seventies films more of a punch than the modern-day mooms of the same variety. This was undoubtedly  because Borgnine was part of that older school of acting and those films, no matter how risque or vulgar they could get, still had the classic H-wood feel to 'em that made the things watchable. Unlike the comparatively boring films seen these days which have about as much of a connection with the film industry at its height as Lady Gaga has with Lydia Lunch.

THE WILD BUNCH was definitely Borgnine as his best in these types of films, and I gotta say that seeing him play an aging and totally amoral outlaw on his last caper (in a role that Sammy Davis Jr. turned down!) was perhaps Borgnine at his dramatic best. (And why else would I run a snap of him taken from the exact same film if I didn't think his performance was one of the things that really made it so powerful, besides the all-out violence that is!) WILLARD, that outta-nowhere early-seventies hit about the weirdoid boy who befriends man-eating rats, also benefitted from Borgnine's at-times greasy persona. Never saw THE ADVENTURERS (which upset my mother because her old-timey favorite actress Olivia DeHaviland was in it!), though HANNIE CAULDER with Raquel Welch, Robert Culp and Jack Elam sure looked good when I saw it on AMC a short while back, and that ain't just because of the bathtub scene. Eh, another aging fifties/sixties icon bites the dust, making me wonder who the next forties/fifties film star to take leave will be (I'm thinking Kirk Douglas for some reason, though I hope to be wrong). If any of you are taking bets, please contact the oddsmaker to end 'em all Brad Kohler.

(And hey, did you notice how I made it through the above obit without once mentioning that infamous Ernest Borgnine quip about what he does with himself a whole lot while locked away in the bathroom???!!! Give me credit for keeping this blog clean at least once, though for some odd reason I can't get it out of my head [no pun intended] that right now as I type this very sentence Borgnine himself is standing right before God explaining himself in order to save his soul from an eternity in you-know-where..."Well, uh, God, uh, sometimes I got really lonely and I mean sheesh, if you were married to Ethel Merman wouldn't you understand????")

And with that outta the way, here's what you've been waiting for since last weekend!
The Pop Group-Y CD (Radar/WEA Japan) 

Mark Stewart-THE POLITICS OF ENVY 2-CD set (Future Noise England, both CD's available via Forced Exposure)

Looks like it's old altrockers at home week here at BLOG TO COMM, what with these two surprise offerings, one by an act that hasn't been mentioned in the annals of Stiglianodom in at least a good quarter century whilst the other's a new release from said group's singer which, considering the stellar and surprising array of guest musicians will only make you wanna mutter..."what year is this anyway???" The Pop Group debut shouldn't be a stranger to about half of this blog's regular readership, and although I should hate this group for the mere fact that I hate most people who like them (for purely aesthetic reasons mind you) maybe I should stoop so low to at least cop a little bit of that late-seventies English experimentalism that used to spark my electrodes back when I was young and perhaps didn't know any better. Heck, even Lester Bangs was all rootin' tootin' in favor of Au Pairs*, and if Lester in his ever-mutating yet firmly in trash gear brain could champion an act that had most faux crits gagging in abject rejection then why shouldn't I try to find something of excitement in this group which seemed tied to the whole late-seventies neo-communist/pseudo-anarchist bent of the time more than anything outside of the Crass contingent? I mean, it ain't like I have anything else to do!

So keeping out of  mind that more than a few alternageeks and armchair radical types rally towards the Pop Group as if they were a Feminist Armpit Hair Braiding Workshop what can I say?

Well, for one thing, I could mention that I heard practically nada of its world-saving energy and hope for a better future that way too many did in their entire back catalog. Yes, I know I've been criticized by at least one wank out there for sayin' that my music's gotta rock, earning a snide "What are we in, fourth grade?" comment from an ineffectual faggot whose idea of a good time is the double-dildo "Janus" position, but frankly yeah, that is what I'm searching for in my music and if you don't like it stick it sideways up your ever-expansive hiney. I know it will fit with ease but hey, I gotta say that Y maybe ain't the rockinest'  album out there to take me to those Sargassan depths and stratospheric heights like a good portion of the platters that are gettin' heavy spins here at BTC central. Perhaps the overt concentration on various funk and free jazz forms seem to deter, but then again the exact same things helped make FUNHOUSE one of the brightest rock 'n roll albums to ever rearrange a person's cranium during an age when David Crosby was considered hot stuff and Gene Vincent like, wasn't.

All joking aside, I will admit that I liked Y a whole lot more'n some of you definitely anti-BLOG TO COMM-sters would have gandered considering how you all think I'm some sorta subhuman form of life that's so far removed from the homo (and I do mean homo!) superiors you all are. Maybe that's true, but hey I can at least appreciate the Pop Group's heady mix of punkain overtones (including Can, who were perhaps the most influential punk group ever, outside of the Stooges, Dolls and maybe Velvets, to affect these upstarts who at least knew better at the time) and avant garde jazz, not to mention the deep dives into various dub reggae variants which I never did bother with perhaps because I wasn't exactly brought up properly. But it all works swell and although it, like some of the "Rough Trade"-styled musings of the 70s/80s cusp, doesn't quite engage me like I hoped it would I can't call Y one of those English experimental offerings custom made for lower-class stinkoids to rub themselves to while consoling each other for the raw deal life has given them (then again, don't you kinda get the idea that if God didn't create Margaret Thatcher then man would have had to---for whatever reasons he could milk outta her?). It's downright fun, entertaining, surprising (and yeah, maybe a little slow at times) and the best thing about it is you don't have to be one of those upper class kids slumming in the barricades to enjoy the thing either!

Flash forwarding a good thirtysome years and whaddaya know, but none other than Pop Group voice Mark Stewart's got himself not only a hotcha new cult following (thanks to "She Is Beyond Good and Evil" hitting the charts there due to a cover version done up by some new aggregation over there!) but a new solo album! Considering the lineup he's got backing him it does seem like yet another case of "what year is this???"...I mean, I didn't even know that Keith Levine, Youth, Gina Birch and Adrian Sherwood were still alive but I guess they are, and they're all on Stewart's new effort THE POLITICS OF ENVY which seems like the ideal Rough Trade supersession to get those old critics at SOUNDS and NME all moist in the crotch region. And hey, you'd think that maybe Stewart himself would be doin' a li'l chuckling wallowin' in the fact that the once-mighty Maggie Thatcher's brains are now scrambled more'n his breakfast meal but no, he continues to sound just as angry and as dedicated to whatever upheaval of English society and its structures as he was way back in '79 when he was just a young budding neosocialist upstart.

And now that he's just as full fledged a neosocialist as ever, the guy can dabble in his interesting musical veins and get his friends and personal heroes to help him out. People like Lee "Scratch" Perry (Stewart obviously sating his long-lived reggae craving to perform with a bonafeed leader in the realm) and Richard Hell pop into the mix, as does the theremin playing of none other than underground film-making legend Kenneth Anger who's now wowin' 'em with his own Exploding Skull act which is no mere feat for an 85-year-old! (Heck, he's even listed as co-writer of the track on which he appears entitled "Vanity Kills" and hey, what has your grandfather been doin' lately anyway???) And believe-you-me, more than your skull will be exploded once you give these rather hard-edged tracks a spin given the unique use of electronics both old and new coupled with the raging heavy duty hammered out post-whatever sounds that permeate the aluminum.

I could go on and give you one of those track-by-tracks, but considering how I took this one as a whole (which works especially if you are a 'hole) I won't. It's just a big overpowering throb that perhaps would have been too much for the typical Rough Trade follower of the early-eighties, but if this 'un had only come out back then (with or without the 15-minute "Experiments" disc taking the original sound into even deeper grooves of atonal gnarl) boy, you'd know they'd be talkin' 'bout this thing for years to come! And if a stick inna mud curmudgeon like me can hack it, I get the idea maybe you can (though hey, I've given up second guessing you readers looooooong ago!)
The Jimmy Giuffre 3-THE EASY WAY CD-R burn (originally on Verve)

Another one courtesy of Bill Shute (who is affectionately known around the BLOG TO COMM offices as "Santy Klutz"), this '59 outing by Jimmy Guiffre's infamous trio ain't as proto-Ornette as his '54 work with Shelly Manne on THE THREE AND THE TWO, nor is it as chamber avant as '61's FREE FALL. And although it is toned down as all heck there's still a good hunkerin' intensity a'surgin' through. Guitarist Jim Hall plays subdued for the course (never could stand him...too much late-seventies DOWN BEAT jazz establishment sticks in my cranium) and while Ray Brown ain't no Steve Swallow he's fine just by staying in the background giving this drummerless act a beat. If you're just getting into Giuffre this ain't the best place to start, but after giving the aforementioned essentials (and even a number of platters I ain't even heard yet!) a try this one will help fill in the empty spaces in your mind.
Chris Weisman-FRESH SIP 2-LP set (Feeding Tube Records)

They're already calling this Weisman fellow "the Brian Wilson of Brattleboro MA" (or was it Vermont?), but I can't fathom that. The Alex Chilton of B-boro would be much more fitting. Originally released on a limited edition cassette (!) which even got a mention on NPR of all places, FRESH SIP features some of the better "singer-songwriter" musings I've heard in quite some time, or at least since the David Patrick Kelly  (and Toivo) RIP VAN BOY MAN disc a good three years back.

Nice late-sixties vibe (maybe some Tim Buckley?) here, with Weisman's rather boy-ish vocalizing giving this a strange sunshine El Lay poppy feeling that sounds like something one of those iron-haired gals back in 1972 woulda been spinning in between TAPESTRY and maybe even AFTER THE GOLD RUSH if it only had that slicko El Lay production. At other times I'm thinking that the ghost of Syd Barrett has clasped his talons in pretty deep. Backing is sparse, though some of this was done with what appears to be a small band that thankfully doesn't get in the way of Weisman's at times witticist lyrics. A pretty good surprise that I'm sure most reg'lar BLOG TO COMM readers could find something of worth in, and although it ain't like a rip-roarer up and down the scales with amphetamine guitar lines and fire-pissing vocals man does not live by Stooges albums alone (though at times I've tried to do just that!).

Kinda wonder if this record is the basis for all of those cruddy lies one used to hear about the French playing lousy rock 'n roll. If so, then all I gotta say is that the French can sure play some lousy rock 'n roll that sounds great which is a whole lot better'n all of those pretenders the past fortysome years who were playing "good" rock (no "'n roll") that fouled up the air a whole lot worse'n the time I opened my gym locker with the half-eaten limburger cheese sandwich after being sick for two weeks. Total eruption primitive thud rock maybe one-step above the Shaggs that not only features a boss cover of "Be Bop Alula" but some totally addled originals that weren't composed as much as they were hacked out on a beat up electric guitar. Makes Jack Starr look like Ringo...Fonebone, that is!
BIZARRO DREAM TIME AGAIN!: haven't had many strange, kultural-related dreams as of late but the doozy I had Monday night really tops 'em all! Strangely enough, I wasn't even under the influence of anything other'n a strong dosage of Melatonin to overcome the usual caffeine jitters! And boy, this 'un was one that woulda gotten any sixties tee-vee fan all hot and excited, for the dream I experienced had me watching/participating in none other than (now get this!) THE FINAL EPISODE OF "HOGAN'S HEROES" THAT WE ALL WOULDA LIKED TO HAVE SEEN YET NEVER GOT MADE LET ALONE AIRED!!! Details as as usual sketchy, but this last HH naturally had to do with the closing days of World War II when Hogan and the rest of the POW's are escaping the Nazis while being imprisoned in what looks like a business complex with many offices and hallways. After making a good enough go at it while running down what seems to be a vacant corridor they just happened to get captured by Sgt. Schultz, who does a good job acting all mean and gnarly like any good Nazi should! However, when some even meaner looking soldiers close in on the POW's attempting to cut them down in their tracks Schultz machine guns 'em clearly signalling that he is now on Hogan's side, lovable puffball that he was! Unfortunately he takes some bullets himself in the side, but otherwise he's doing OK considering they were flesh wounds and he has a whole lotta it to spare!

When hiding his now buddies in what looks like a medical office waiting room who should show up but Col. Klink who, luger in hand, naturally chastises Schultz for his traitorous act, though during Klink's tirade none other than Gestapo man himself Major Hochstetter enters, chewing out Klink for being such a worthless being as usual! During this particular balling out """""I""""" notice a gold plated luger in Klink's holster which I sneakily approach and remove in order to facilitate a quick get out...then wake up due to an ever-bursting bladder! I know that if I had stayed asleep I would have shot Klink, Hochstetter and maybe even Schultz (hey, he was the enemy!) thus ensuring a happy ending, but then again, who knows???

Tune in next week when I'll probably relay to you an 'ALLO 'ALLO dream I will undoubtedly have, though since that series did have a final wrapup who knows what sorta somnastical visions I would dare to conjure in my illogical mind!
JUST IN VIA YOUTUBE, thirty minutes of Geofrey Crozier and the Shanghai Side Show (not Kongress!):

ONE FINAL NOTE: after reading Eddie Flowers' recent entries on Facebook I take back all I said about him being a closeted neo-libertarian! And I do mean it! This guy's just as radical as the next Weatherman down the pike, and don't you ferget it lest you find yourself waking up with a freshly-tossed pipebomb in your bed some hazy summer's morn!!! He's still cool people tho (hey, got anymore old recs 'n mags ya wanna sell me??? Of course not at a profit, that would be EVIL!!!).
* act whose version of "Smoke on the Water" I've been anxious to hear ever since some VILLAGE VOICE scribe mentioned a live performance of said number in which he brought up the "fact" that it contained the most inept drum solo extant...guess the guy never did hear the debut performance of Umela Hmota back '74 way but then again how could he?


Robert Cook said...

Gotta LOVE the Giuffre!

Anonymous said...

les blousons noirs remain a mystery in france.i guess we can say they were the french hasil adkins...

found an interesting 7" by another french band called LAMBS AND WOLVES , dating from 1972.Both sides are covers ."silver machine" and " school's out".Pretty good...can't find any infos on them.