Saturday, October 20, 2012


Is it me, or is the mail wreaking havoc with my life? If I were a true paranoid, I'd say that the US Mail Service is trying to sabotage my music life what with packages I've mailed disappearing and orders taking their good ol' time reaching their proper destination, something which does weight heavy on my mind even more'n the prospect of having to undergo a nuclear colonoscopy! And while I'm in my classic bitch 'n moan mode I'll say that I definitely am one guy who really needs my music whether it be old faves or new variations, and now that there really ain't that much new stuff comin' out that I'd wanna kill for like there was when I was seventeen and my heart certainly was aware I am frothing at the mouth PISSED.  I've also been runnin' dry as far as discovering older forms of rock that probably bypassed the standard music listening fan of the seventies but by gum will not bypass ME!!! And, sad to admit it, its even come to the point in my wretched life where I'm even curious enough to wanna find out about some obscure NYC-area group (nth-stringers on the CBGB/Max's scene) like Elixir who, from all reports, began life as a GENESIS cover band 'n yeah, it's all for the sake of documenting some important musical history few really care about (now) but please...somebody help me!!!! (Still wanna hear these guys as well as any of the under-the-cabinet local acts  that played these clubs inna seventies so if you want some belated fame well, you know who to contact and it ain't Christgau!)

Of course the archival dig/reissue scene has dried up to the point where I see all of these opportunities to present us hungry rock chaps with the raw meat abounding, but it seems that nobody's willing to dish it out despite the fame and fortune that would be theirs for the asking!!! As you all know, I sure could stand being inundated with examples of Amerigan (and elsewhere) underground rock excursions from the sixties and seventies, but other'n a few tasty tidbits here and there where's the gush of releases anyway? And as far as reissues of items that we can all benefit from, why do the "major" labels re-package the same good, mandatory but heard many-a-time Velvet Underground and Stooge classics in new garb while ignoring the likes of Kim Fowley, whose I'M BAD and INTERNATIONAL HEROES has been on my want list for ages only who can afford the collector's prices that have been heaped upon these records over the past few years? You'd think that the bootleggers would reish this stuff considering the majors could give a hoot...I mean, that's what some enterprising young chaps did with the Hackamore Brick album and nothing did happen to them, right? Hey major labels, once you quit patting yourselves on the back how about opening up your catalog to a new and thriving audience (not to mention the old one who'd like to hear this stuff before they go totally deef)???

So in a vain search for something to refresh my "spirit" (to be hippie about it) I decided to break into my long-ignored cassette collection once again to re-acquaint myself with some old pals. I figured this would help ease the pain until my order from CD Baby (and maybe even Forced Exposure if only they'd get outta that weird world music bag of theirs and get back to the rock!) arrives, and besides I haven't played most of the following tapes in upwards of two decades so listening to these is almost like getting some new wares to enjoy. I was surprised to find that all played well 'cept for the Zappa one near the end of side two (warbly and uneven!), and although slippin' 'em in the boom box really did dredge up a whole slew of memories that I perhaps would have liked to have forgotten maybe they'll inspire me well in my life trek to incur revenge upon every soul that dared cross me. So until I crash the next school reunion with an automatic of my choice here's what's been keeping me entertained over the past seven...
Glenn Phillips-LOST AT SEA (Snow Star)

It's funny...right when I was in the middle of my MUSIC TO EAT hysteria back '76 way this 'un was getting released on the then-chance-taking Virgin label over in pip pip land. Unfortunately I didn't know it (as well as Bruce Hampton's ONE RUINED LIFE OF A BRONZE TOURIST) were even available, but if they had only gotten into my mitts at the time boy would my trajectory taken off on a totally different direction! But then again, maybe it's good that I didn't get to hear LOST AT SEA back then because I prob'ly woulda just thunk it was more of that jazz fusion stuff that really didn't settle well with my vital organs the way all of those early Alice Cooper and Captain Beefheart albums did. Maybe I would have liked it, but then again I'm sure there would be something inna back of my brain telling me that I had just wasted a good $6.99 on another glossy jazz platter that was so slick and professional (ech!) I could have traded it to some local burnout for a good nickel bag, and one thing I really coulda used when I was seventeen was a nice heaping bag of nickels!

Nowadays I say hey, this is just what the throngs of Mahavishnu-lapping rock groups 'n other DOWN BEAT aspirationists to the jazz rock echelons shoulda sounded like 'stead of alla that wanky jazz rock progressive fiz that was raking in the big bucks for some ungodly reason. Definitely benefits from the homestyle two-track basement recording (no "ship in a bottle" techniques as Peter Laughner once said), and it's so powerful and moving in spots it might even bring a tear to some of you more susceptible readers' eyes. Not mine, but I guess my heart doesn't break as much as the people at the Huffington Post wish it did (y'see, everything they write about regarding some supposed "tragedy" is always referred to as being heartbreaking, naturally reducing that term to utter dribble sans any meaning that it once might have had!) The rest of Phillips' solo material did not inspire me that much, but this 'un manages to transcend the usual trappings of seventies guitar flash and make for a rather...dare-I-say nice time????
Sick Dick and the Volkswagens-INTERFERENCE (New Frontiers, PO Box 426, Yellow Springs OH 45387)

This is DAILY DANCE guitarist Doug Snyder's En Why-era act's only real release which you just might be able to still get even at this late date if you write the address listed above. I'm sure you remember reading about this 'un for years...its the one that Lester Bangs actually gave some hotcha points to in the VILLAGE VOICE "Pazz & Jop" poll thus creating a big hubbub as to just who these guys were and what they did. I gotta say that when this first came out back inna early nineties I was a li'l  put off by the standard late-seventies neu wave vocalizing, but twentysome years later it doesn't phase me at all. And the electronic drone these crazies churn out sounds so grand especially here in the future when the ideas spewed forth were supposed to have overwhelmed us to the point of surrender but never really did. Wanna know more about this demi-Suicide-ish (they use a drum machine too!) hard driving underground splatter? Then just click here and pick option #24.
Kilslug-A CURSE (S.B.)

This cassette from one of Boston's more notorious "hardcore" groups is proof enough to remind me of just how much promise and action-packed gumption the entire "scene" had just before the hippie punks at MAXIMUM ROCK 'N ROLL began telling impressionable upper-middle-class kids to pay more attention to what was going on in Central America and the Middle East 'stead of in rock mags and record shops. After all, we don't want too many "rock stars" hanging around now, do we? All kidding aside this is fantastic blare, beautiful repeato-riff drone music that benefits from the garage recording techniques and addled, neo-Flipper-esque playing. If your hardcore tastes roam closer to Rancid Vat than Rancid, this is one (of many) for thee.
Treponem Pal-ADVANCE TAPE (Roadracer)

Mebbee I oughta forget mentioning this group if only because their original record label stiffed me outta $$$ for an ad. But gosh darn it if this act wasn't just one of the brighter highlights of the late-eighties gotta find something hotcha to keep me from goin' insane scramble I and I assume many of you readers were undoubtedly engaged in during those rather confused times. Heavy metal with easy enough to spot punk refs. is always a blast whether you're talking about early UFO or the Dictators, and Treponem Pal continued on that fine tradition with these three numbers that straddle both concerns to the point where I'm sure they might have alienated each camp even though these guys are successful to the max'n probably have enough money in the bank to keep them in penicillin for decades. References to Killing Joke would be too obvious (esp. since former KJ drummer Paul Raven once roamed their ranks) but if someone dreamed up the equation of their sound being equal parts Swans, Prong, early Black Sabbath and Von Lmo (!) maybe I'd give 'em a gold star 'n a nice wormy apple to boot!
Kilpig-COMPILATION 1984-1986; LIVE AT CBGB's (109)

Kilpig were an under-the-covers as I like to say group that was roaming the New York stratosphere in the mid-eighties, a good four or so years after their brand of brash pseudo-En Why art cum new wave rock had pretty much been washed over by geeky "gnu" wave and hardcore rumblings. Given that their vocalist Nozomi is Japanese Yoko comparisons immediately came to mind, though when she ain't doing her extended wailing I see her as more of a femme Damo Suzuki in the way she emits various epiglottal vocalese to the at-times Can-ish free schpiel. You may draw your own conclusions if you can only latch onto these two cassette tapes as well as an EP done for the obscure 109 label, a company that probably was in the right place but during the wrong time.

The 1984-1986 COMPILATION is a good place to start...its ninety minutes containing everything from "Sabre Dance"/"Do You Know The Way To Santa Fe" mishmoshes to various post James Chance sax bleats that sure sounded outta place in the starkness of the mid-eighties but such a relief from the usual "underground" mewlings that kinda made a whole lotta inquiring types wonder where things went wrong. The live tape's got some raw-ther entertaining takes on such hoary old classics as "Love To Love You Baby" and "Inagadadavida" plus some standard "noise rock" scrunching complete with that rather brittle, treble-y saxophone that seems to be doing catcalls all over the place. Not gonna call any of this "essential" but it just might be that interesting change from the everyday musical antix that you most certainly deserve a break from.
The Apostles and the Mob-LIVE AT THE LMC 22/1/83 (Cause For Concern, 53 Hollybush Hill, Snaresbrook, London E11 1PX England)

Looking back from a good thirtysome years hindquarterssight, a lotta the Crass-inspired anarchist musings that were comin' outta England didn't really hold up that well as opposed to various other genres and stylings that were popping up under that strange umbrella of "punk rock." And gol' ding it, but didn't a load of those acts with their antiwar, antimeat, antimale and antimoolah ideals just seem like the beginning of that whole love 'n violence hippiepunk hijinx that certainly turned off more'n a few people faster'n you can say Patchouli Oil? Well at least there were a few rambunctious rumblings comin' outta that scene that at least grabbed me by my stirrups, if only because they still swore allegiance to various sixties/seventies innovations that never did vacate my heart even if they might have seemed "passe" and "old turd music" to quite a few of the same people who were endlessly singing their praises just a few short years earlier.

Quality on this 'un ain't that hotcha, and in typical prole fashion the folks at this anarcho-whatziz company used the cheapest tapes money can buy outside of those hecho en Mexico Cetrons that jammed up many a tape deck inna seventies. But still the fire and energy roars on despite the up the hiney sound quality and the fact you can't hear any of the between-song patter that I'm sure contain a whole load of pertinent diatribes regarding various subjects that I'm sure meant a whole lot to the guy up there singing 'em but never did add up to much in your own personal math text.

The Apostles start the show off, and although these guys certainly were a mixed bag as far as political concerns go (what with their rabid animal rights and anarchist stance on one hand and their staunch patriotic fervor and Skrewdriver covers on the other) at least they had the good sense to base their musical aptitude on the likes of various old timey faveraves such as the Velvet Underground and Groundhogs. Nice drone blare here, perhaps aided by the poor sound quality in which we don't have to hear the singer rave on about everything from Zulus to forcing baboons to eat Mars Bars but I'm sure none of that interests you.

The Mob don't stray far from the same method of seventies underground rock stylings remooshed for an eighties jaded clientele either, with each and every one of the tracks from their set sounding as if the group locked themselves in a bank vault and spun CAPTAIN LOCKHEED AND THE STARFIGHTERS for 48 hours straight. So good in its approach and sublime rage that you even forget that the Mob were just spokesmen for one of the more intrinsically evil movements to hit the twentieth century, and the twenty-first as well for that matter. At least they weren't as explicit about it as most of the compats, meaning that there is a slight chance they'll miss the firing squad one the tribunal gets into gear hopefully more sooner 'n later.
The Trilobites-LET'S PUMP (Atomic Records & Tapes, PO Box 338, Huntsville 2220)

Once the nineties rolled in there were quite a lotta people wondering why I wasn't writing about the seventies/eighties Australian underground anymore...y'know, the same Australian scene that borrowed the better moments of late-sixties Detroit experimentation and seventies New York glam slam and gave us hope that it wasn't all dead? Well, the answer to that one was simple, mainly that the groups Down Under (or at least their spawn) who were out 'n about really began to suck. It had even gotten to the point where acts like the New Christs and Died Pretty were making lousy records, and I gotta admit that there's nothing sadder'n listening to something that was so filled with promise and hope for a high energy future that fizzled into the ashes of burned-outism faster'n you can say "yeah hup."

Dunno what happened to the Trilobites once they too hit the new decade with perhaps less than a vengeance, but this '85 live tape captures 'em doin' a rather rip-roarin' live set that at least conjures up fine memories of the Australian clime I remember so fondly. Y'know, just before that contenent became the home to a whole lotta bad trips we all best soon forget both musical and otherwise. Loadsa covers (Stooges, Groovies, Yardbirds, Dictators via themselves and the Rivieras) give an idea as to where these guys were comin' from, and although this ain't exactly the barnburner many were undoubtedly expecting it sure made for good late-night fun 'n jamz that helped slip me into the arms of Morpheus with a smile on my face and a jackhammer thud in my chest. If you can't find this I'm positive that the original singles are available somewhere, and if a CD comp has slipped my attention lo these many years I wouldn't be surprised about it either.
Frank Zappa-HOT RATS (Reprise)

Although I ain't as much of a Frank Zappa aficionado as I was durin' my Junior and Senor years in high screw-all, I still like to listen to Zap's earlier releases now that, since he's dead, the guy hasn't had the opportunity to annoy any of us with more of that drek he was inundating us with for quite some time. Anyhoo this particular cassette of 1969's HOT RATS just happened to be peering at me (or was it Miss Christine?) from the box of cassettes in the basement and since Lester Bangs' positive review in ROLLING STROON was still embedded in my brain I figured "wha' th' hey???" And y'know, this fusion blend of Zappa's was a whole lot better'n the jazzbo "look at me, I'm a renaissance man!" stuff he was doin' in the seventies even if that was far more digestible'n Return to Whatever no matter how commercial it could be!

Z's guitar playin's a whole lot more angular than usual and the band (utilizing only one Mother, the indispensable Ian Underwood) is muy simpatico to what ol' stinkeroo's trying to accomplish as far as bridging early-sixties avant garde jazz and late-sixties freak rock to the point where I kinda wish he woulda dumped his regular Mothers and kept these guys on full time! Don't think there was a virgin's chance in Penisland for that to happen, but at least we wouldn't have hadda put up with "Billy the Mountain" or "Camarillo Brillo" for that matter.

Of course the REAL icing onna cake's Cap Beefheart's vocalese on "Willie the Pimp," something which makes this a must have even for alla them late-seventies new wave types who loved the Beef but gave up on the Zap ages back. And of course Sugar Cane Harris' violin really adds the compliment to Zappa's guitar playing which ain't that annoying in that slick tenchnowhiz fashion that had people dribbling goo to the mere mention of his name. Even the usual session guys (not forgetting the wretch-inducing Jean Luc Ponty) don't get in the way, but the big mystery here is just why didn't Zappa offer sideman Underwood the chance to make his own solo recording for Bizarre considering how he pretty much keeps this 'un glued together with his overlaid woodwind work...yeah, I know that woulda probably sold about as good as Tim Dawe but what a 1976 flea market find that woulda made!
ALSO LISTENED TO (and slightly digested): Alan Vega-MAX'S KANSAS CITY 6/27/81, which not only might've been Vega's last stand at his longtime hangout but showcases his rather hotcha combo which not only contained guitarist Phil Hawk but had former Magic Tramps drummer Sesu Coleman in its ranks. Hear the death knells of Max's give birth to the ginchiness of Danceteria right before your very ears. If you like the first two Vega albums you know what to do by now. John Cale-MUDD CLUB 2/27/82 showcases the  famed musician/producer in a solo acoustic setting dishing out the cream of his seventies proggy career for dazed college students in Cardigan sweaters to rest shoulders upon each others' heads. If you like this period in Cale's career as well as saving leaves in the pages of old books this will go well with the hot chocolate. DMZ-THE RAT 9/4/77- they don't sound as six-oh as usual here but DMZ still churn out a mighty crank including hits from their various Sire and Bomp! outings as well as a ferocious cover of the Sonics' "He's Waitin'." This is the kinda stuff that CREEM used to call heavy metal back in the seventies, at least until that mag started to see which side of the butter their bread was on and more or less morphed into HIT PARADER junior. ELECTRIC EELS, EX-BLANK-EX, DAVE E-a collection sent my way by Jim Clinefelter ages back containing shards, mis-takes and other rarities that might sound fantabulous if some studio wizard with ultra-modern equipment got hold of it. Some ultra-rarities abound such as a live "Silver Daggers," and hearing Ex-Blank-Ex with Dave E. singing makes me wonder not only what else is out there that we just ain't heard at least since 1977. If I hate you, I hope you never get to hear it. The Troggs-MAX'S KANSAS CITY 6/17/78-listening to the vast array of live tapes recorded at Max's and CBGB throughout the seventies really drives home the fact as to how much rock 'n roll energy (as well as other forms of moozikal expreshun) was being presented on the New York club scene before the decadent seventies clocked into the sparkly eighties. As Annie Golden said about CBGB, you also didn't know what to expect when you went into Max's where you could see a wide variety of music being presented that was pretty much within (and sometimes on the perimeter) of just what hotcha rock 'n roll maniacs of many a stripe would drool for. Somehow the Troggs seemed custom made for a club like Max's, and hearing 'em careen through their melange of tried 'n trues plus choice r&b rompers sure makes for a fine example of sixties accomplishments being reshaped for seventies consumption. Back then knowing groups like the Troggs were still abounding pretty much fit into my scheme of things (or at least what I was discovering unfold before my very ears), and really gave me a spiritual connection to the music of the previous decade which mattered to me just as much as current music did. For the life of me I thought that the innovation of the sixties and the raw power of the seventies was gonna lead to an all-out explosion of high energy rockism throughout the eighties. Looking back, it's no wonder I failed math!


Serena WmS. Burroughs said...

Ha! I may have been at that Troggs gig at Max's...if not that night, then another one. I went there after a concert at The Kitchen with DNA (the Arto/Robin/Ikue line-up) and Rastakwair (who became Rosa Yemen). I ran into Tim Wright at the Troggs show; at one point, a Troggs album produced by Tim was mooted, which probably have been amazing. The next Scarcity album might have a bit of that flavor, at least to my mind. Also on that trip, I saw a gig at Jeffrey Lohn's loft with performances by him, Branca, Tim, Y Pants, etc., and the Paradise Garage gig with TJ&J, Contortions, and Void-Oids.

Christopher Stigliano said...

Hey SWB, were you the source of the mention in CLE regarding Tim Wright producing the Troggs for Max's Kansas City records? I mentioned this to Peter Crowley and he said he never heard a thing about it!

Doccus Rockus Maximus said...

HEllo there! Do you, perchance, still have that copy of "Hot Rats" on the Warner/Bizarre cassette? Would you consider parting with it? I used to collect old cassettes and although I really only buy 2 or 3 a year now, I still look out for some. THius one I particularly like because it's pre- remastering and not too old a pressing. Regards.. Nick Ettema (email via google acct)...

Christopher Stigliano said...

Sure, if you want to hear a sludgey, sticking, warbling blast of gurgle that hasn't stood the test of time. Well, at least it has a nice case...

Doccus Rockus Maximus said...

Well, as I said, I collect them, so if needed, I replace the tape inside with an upgraded quality (I've gotten good at replacing the tape without even having to crack open the shell!) and rerecord it from my copy on the hard drive .. I have the original tape version of all the tracks handy to rerecord
It's a whole lot of work, but I'm on a disability so have lots of spare time , and that's the whole point of collecting, eh? Now that I've pretty much quit collecting I only do this 2 or 3 times a year.
So let me know what you want for it.. I run into so few zappa that it's worth the effort.

Christopher Stigliano said...

Doccus...what is your email????