Sunday, November 25, 2012

I guess you made it through the Holiday Weekend OK for if not, you wouldn't be reading this.  I sure did (made it through OK, not read this), even though I hadda work not only Friday but Saturday which didn't leave me much time for Christmas shopping or stringing up those tiny lights that have replaced the glorious finger-burning tree lights of old where you hadda alternate the colors and if one of 'em went out they all went. Well, at least I got a couple more days of folding green in my wallet for my efforts, but if only there was something crucial to spend it on these days instead of the usual sundries like food, shelter and of course electricity would I be the happy camper! Maybe some of you readers out there have a good idea of where I can unload some of my extra loot in exchange for the plethora of recordings and reads that I've been sorely lacking in for the past umpteen years...if you do, be your usual selves and keep it all to yourself. I mean, why change your stuck up, arrogant, self-centered and loathesome behavior of a lifetime just for me?
I must be doing something wrong! After all, the latest issue of DAGGER (available via the link up on the left or send $3.00 to PO Box 22938, Denver CO 80222) is out, and I actually found a number of articles in it that I could understand and (gosh!) even relate to in my own addled way! The "Summer 2012" issue, which arrived on a cold November day, features interviews with Dave from Rat at Rat R (remember them?), Pooch and Hudley from the old fLIPSIDE (not quite a fave of mine since they were the MAXIMUM ROCKNROLL JUNIOR of eighties self-conscious spoiled suburban brats) and the best of the batch, a collection of thought-provoking pieces by "famous scene makers" talkin' 'bout their favorite record shops of yore! You know, the places where all of those underground idols, writers and even famous for being famous types picked up those platters that grew hair on their chests and made 'em proud to be teenage pimplefarm music creeps in a world of Supertramp picture discs! Gosh, this really unearths a load of memories from my clogged cranium and makes me pine for the days when you could trek down to your favorite local store and snatch up just about any record made whether it be new, cutout, out of print or made in Guam for all I care! Great personal sagas to be viewed here, though the real question that editor Tim Hinely should have posed to these people was how many records did they STEAL from their fave shops anyway! That's a question, when posed perfectly, should get more'n a few rabid answers that are not only being plunked down for posterity but proves to you once and for all what creeps these underground tastemakers may be. Get your copy today, but please don't get any ideas to "boost" it from your own favorite honest to gosh record outlet (that is, if any are still in existence!).
As you can tell from a few of the old/new/borrowed/blah! reviews below, I actually felt inspired enough to crank out a couple of reviews that were more than a paragraph padded with the Styrofoam of printed puff! At least congratulate me for that even though I seem to be at a loss for inspiration as the years progress and the fodder just doesn't seem as potent and life-reaffirming as it once was. Judging from the past few years of blogging, I've had about as much trouble reclaiming my glory days as the "Janitor of Rock Critics" as Ellen Willis had making it through a sentence without spewing out disdain for the goyim around her, but as usual I am not going to let that stop me from giving you yet another jam-packed, thought-provoking round of reviews that oughta get you headed for your nearest search engine in the hopes of wranglin' at least one or more of these tender items for your very own. Hope you have as much fun readin' 'em as I had writin' ' fact I hope you have MORE fun since I gotta admit that I was mighty gloomy while putting some of the thoughts I was having below to type!

Lester Bangs and the Delinquents-JOOK SAVAGES ON THE BRAZOS LP (Live Wire)

Yeah, I can't believe it either. But it's true...listening to this album after years of jamming it to the back of the bin was a revelation, a flashback, a reminiscence of days gone by that I sure wish were still around. Or at least still retained a purpose and meaning here in the cold and unemotional (or is it a-emotional?) 'teens. But at least JOOK SAVAGES ON THE BRAZOS does serve a purpose here in the cyborg days of now, if only because it stirred up a fire deep inside me, one that reminded me of the latter portion of the seventies when I first listened to such classics as TEENAGE HEAD and NUGGETS (and would you believe Mick Farren and the Deviants?) and felt that warm spark ignite into a blazing flame like a furnace on a sub zero night. And believe-you-moi, but I never thought I was gonna feel like this again no matter how many hotcha Norton records keeping the name of rock 'n roll alive would pass the sanctity of my earwax and head straight into my ever hungering psyche!

Back when I first heard that JOOK SAVAGES was being released I gotta admit that I was a tad skeptical. Oh yeah, I thought Lester Bangs was the bestest thing to speak for rock 'n roll next to R. Meltzer and in fact I believed that his writing had improved by the time 1980 rolled around (after dismissing him as an over-praised beatnik bum who had lost his mind through romilar abuse and too many readings of "The Playboy Philosophy" as an impressionable youth), but I had feared his musical abilities weren't exactly gonna be the thing that would make for a rough and tumble listening experience. After all, if the man sang like he wrote we were all in trouble, not because his writing was bad (it sure wasn't even though the consensus seemed to say that Bangs' VILLAGE VOICE output was sorely lacking where his CREEM days were just brimming full of that punkian zest for erotic knowledge), but because it wouldn't just cut the mustard when packaged and presented to an audience that had been in on the gonz for nigh on a decade. And after hearing that live CBGB tape that's made the rounds for all of these years (not to mention the once-elusive "Let It Blurt" single) it became obvious that the guy did sing like he wrote, for all the good and (especially) bad that would imply.

Not only that, but the idea of Bangs being backed by the Delinquents wasn't one I exactly cherished at the time. Not because I heard, digested and pooped 'em outta my system (heck, I hadn't even heard
'em before this!) but the hype goin' 'round had 'em pegged as being Austin Texas' answer to the B-52's, and given how I had purchased, enjoyed and eventually spewed their debut from my collection feeling cheated once again (this was right during the '79/'80 cusp when new wave had surely evolved into the "gnu" wave that seemed the exact opposite of what it originally had started out to be) it wasn't like I wanted to clog up any more brain cells with what I perceived as cheap sixties sentiments filtered through seventies deca-geekdom. Oddly enough I did have a few deals with Delinquents leader Brian Curley during the late-eighties when he was somehow involved backing up a guy who fancied himself a Buddhist priest, but my memory of the recording he did send is so faint though definitely worthy of a re-eval in a joyless and soul-less world such as the one we are living in right at this very moment.

And believe it or not, but JOOK SAVAGES just proves how joyless and soul-less America as well as the rest of the once-free world has become since those days. We didn't take notice because it crept up on us like a cover of darkness while we were too busy living our real lives, but who could deny that the miasma is here and it's stark and dull to the point where we have become the real robotic stooges that people warned us we'd become only we were too engrossed with our records and rock cults to believe them. But man, this record exudes the warmth and excitement that I remember rock 'n roll was supposed to have had throughout the seventies when we put so much hope into that same new wave or punk or proto-punk or whatever to help rescue us from the original creeping meatballism that was AM/FM radio and general kultur. It jumps and speaks to you as if it were still 196/7X and things like rock 'n roll weren't just one of those distant memories but relevant to you because it was happening now 'stead of a beaut of a past that we could only remember through family stories or afternoon reruns for that matter.

There's a country twang that can be heard amid the late-seventies (admittedly) wave-ish musicianship, but don't confuse it with any future alt. country or rootzy toots that might have come out afterwards. Naw, this 'un still cooks on hefty sixties/seventies innovation that still had a whole lotta moxie in the "underground" rock scene of the day, or it did at least until that all tumbled into a variety of warring factions that never could agree on much in the first place. It would be wise to stick your copy alongside the Stooges and Groovies 'stead of the Cowboy Junkies and various latterday attempts to capture ideas that were fleeting at best, especially when you consider how few groups of the eighties onward seemed to have a grasp of what that Big Beat was supposed to have entailed which is why were were being inundated with so few albums like this and so many X-Tals to the point where that bared-wire genesis of the style from the Velvets through the Stooges on and upward became meaningless...

JOOK SAVAGES is powerful even when Bangs is getting into his humanist emotional moosh, and with the music raving on in between neo-country, Velvet-punk, voidoid and downhome outhouse romps it stays steady and powerful unlike many of the sounds that were overtaking the new muzak scene thus rendering the entire genre useless. Lester really could sing (the atonal growl of his Peter Laughner CREEM jams had matured into a more soulful, tuneful baritone) and the Delinquents are so conduit to his style that I feel ashamed regarding all of those nasty thoughts I had about Curley and company being a Western bunch of Rock Lobstering giddoids!

The more familiar tracks (at least to those who've scarfed up the album Bangs did with his New York punkazoid act Birdland) like "I'm In Love With My Walls" and "Kill Him Again" will be surprised at the rewrites that are about as different as those numbers that got changed in the transition from Rocket From The Tombs to Pere Ubu and the Dead Boys, while the unique to this album trackage is sure to stimulate any true seventies rockist's back-brain. My personal faves just happen to be side two's "Nuclear War" (a powerful  punk snarl with lyrics that just seem custom-written for seventies lost teenage angst and anger) as well as the oft-praised cover of Dale Hawkins' "Grandma's House," a song that begins as a sentimental ode to backwoods Southern living (a world that had already been dead by the time Hawkins originally recorded this b-side) which turns into utter horror with two all new verses about a murdered sister and a gentleman of African heritage who gets burned to death in his house not unlike the fate that befell Bangs' own father, albeit this particular fire's most definitely a premeditated act of loathing on the part of who-knows. It sure gave me the spiritual creeps back when I first lent ears to this album during the dank eighties, and in these even danker teens it still sends nerve-shoots of fright up my already frazzled nerveline!

I'm sure you want a download for your already boffo collection whether or not you never heard it before or could use a shiny disque for driving about. Here's a link to the Mutant Sounds blog which will thusly link you up to a place where you can burn a copy of this National Treasure for yourself! Now don't go thinkin' Unca Chris doesn't do anything good for ya!
Black Sabbath-MASTER OF REALITY cassette (Vertigo Holland)

Actually, this writeup is not inspired by the Lester Bangs review above even though Bangs had raved cumbuckets over this album back during its '71 debut. (And, as you should remember, 1971 was the banner year of heavy metal and if you can't trust Metal Mike Saunders who can you trust?) But hey, forty-one years and a whole lotta bad heavy metal drowning out the good heavy metal in the interim later, what else can I say but THIS ALBUM REMAINS AS RELEVANT TO NOT ONLY THE 1971 OF LOVE IT TO DEATH, KILLER, ELECTRIC WARRIOR AND DUST, BUT TO THE MODERN DAY EVEN IF MUSIC AS GOOD AS THIS HASN'T BEEN MADE IN AT LEAST THIRTY-FIVE YEARS! Well, I'm not counting the reams of soul-wrenching heavy metal that has come out in the interim from MX-80 Sound and Von Lmo to Voi Vod and Anthrax, but considering what little value those kinda groups had in the wake of the HIT PARADER big metal putsch of the eighties the entire genre might as well have been buried under the weight of all of those pretty boy hair bands that were all the rage at the expense of the really gnarly stuff. And you know that had Sabbath come out with this platter in 1985 the same sissy repressed faggot audience that boosted the group to the higher echelons of atonal heaven would have upped noses at the bunch while traipsing over the bins that held all of the WASP and RATT platters without thinking twice!

Can't say a bad thing about MASTER OF REALITY even though I was a fellow who used to loathe this metallic sludge a good thirtysome years back. Now I find it great trash aesthetic and even love it, though maybe that's because the original hardcore era of Black Flag/Flipper decadence made early metallic drone tasty again no matter how much we associated it with late-seventies FM playlist doldrums. But whatever, this one's a charm even with two Tony Iommi solo guitar excursions that sound better here than Steve Howe's and Steve Hackett's did in the company of Yes and Genesis, while Ozzy Osbourne ain't quite into his phony satanic creeping nihilism yet and in fact even turns out a hefty Jesus rock song in "After Forever" (actually an Iommi composition with no input from Osbourne that I know of) that won't make you puke. And the song is clever enough even if Iommi snatched a bitta Moby Grape for the main theme which is better'n snatching Jefferson Airplane! And what kind of review would this be w/o mentioning that the sublime "Solitude" serves to cool you off in its own eerie way just like "Planet Caravan" on the equally stellar PARANOID did. Not a fault with the thing even with the standard hard-crunch heard it before riffs that didn't really sound all so up-to-date and teenage once 1976 rolled around unless you were a proud member of Box Boy pimples 'n pot stoner Ameriga I guess! Maybe that's why this sounds so good on 8-track!

Almost as inspiring as PARANOID and hey, even better than the debut or VOL. 4 (which was the group's last gasp before the sweet leaf and California cocaine got the best of 'em. Never thought SABBATH BLOODY SABBATH was that exciting even if it did inspire some jeeter's teenage suicide, and to be honest about it I haven't heard a note of anything they've done since given that the front line metallic squad had thought their wad was shot by this time and why should I doubt them by squandering any more money on recordings I really don't need! But for the prime hard-edged awe-inspiring Sabbath at their best it's REALITY and the other three originals of hard-edged genius, music which inspired a whole lot more futureshock gnarl that I'm sure even Osbourne feels pangs of guilt for encouraging this late in the rock evolutionary game.

The Brats-ROCK CANDY LP (Rave Up)

Outta nowhere surprise from this long-running (and recently reunited) New York band best known for their metal pop anthem "First Rock Star on the Moon" (check your second Max's Kansas City album for more info). Not quite the Kiss-take I had expected, with a surprisingly power poppish style that borrows heavily from the Who, Sparks, and even fellow local boys the Fast at least when their guest synthesizer player's wailing away. They had it all going for them, from the teenybop good boy looks to the dangerous attitude and of course the dangling long locks...too bad they got buried under the weight of too much happening all at one time or else we might have heard this album in 1977 'stead of thirty-five years later.
The Tremeloes-WHAT A STATE I'M IN CD-R (originally on Sanctuary)

Gee, I guess "Silence is Golden" was a fluke after all! Tiresome pop without the craftiness of the Troggs at their most commercial or the Beatles at their sunshinest. Or the Who at their most violent or the Kinks at their most British. Or Bowie at his most sexually confused or... Well, I could go on since their review does need padded out, but I know you get the gist. Definite lower rung Britsters who give me the cringe the same way listening to Tintin's "Toast and Marmalade For Tea"  instantly sprouts abscesses all over the body.
Vapor Gourds-DAGGER MUSIC LP (Feeding Tube Records)

Haven't been keeping up on my Feeding Tube promo packages as of late, so in order to rectify my wanton lethargy I thought I'd pull this weirditie outta their at-times angular stack. Yet another transfer to vinyl from cassette just like Feeding Tube did with their latest Gary Wilson jazzstravaganza, Vapor Gourds is actually a sound collage experiment that chops, splices and dices recordings from a variety of sources creating a music (and I mean it!) that mesmerizes as much as it startles with its sharp edits and wondrous drone-on tape loop-like repeato-riffs. In the tradition of a whole lotta that bedroom experimentation that's been going on for nigh on forty years, and hopefully for another forty more and I ain't talkin' bout that geek with a flute-o-phone either. Reminds me of what little I have heard from the Christian Marclay catalog and if that sorta eighties-bred experimentalism does appeal to you, by all means go to it!
Thurston Moore/John Moloney-CAUGHT ON TAPE LP (Feeding Tube)

Hokay here's another one from Feeding Tube, a good enough one too featuring the ubiquitous Thurston Moore as well a drummer John Moloney, a man who is probably best known as being a former member of the group Shit Spangled Banner, and I shit you not about their name! Its one of those guitar/drums free improv type duo setting too, though I must admit that even at its most powerful CAUGHT ON TAPE doesn't quite have the same sound and fury of DAILY DANCE but then again what does? It's noisy and atonal enough, and perhaps closer to the various other Moore duos done with a variety of free drummers not to mention that obscurity by an English act called Ascension, definitely not the post-MC5 aggregation but still worth seeking out if your ears tend to lean toward this sort of thing.
15-60-75 (The Numbers Band)-LIVE AT THE AGORA 5/25/80 (originally broadcast on WMMS-FM's "Ohio Homegrown Program") cassette

While doin' some cassette diggin' last Wednesday I found this particular offering snuggled in between reams of Eugene Chadbourne tossouts and quite a number of tape-trade items that at one time seemed like hen's teeth but nowadays are so well-known among aficionados of the form that I coulda saved a bundle had I only waited a good thirty years for this stuff to come out legit-like. I must say that it is surprising to hear this legendary aggregate getting the royal WMMS treatment via a Sunday night broadcast...after all, anybody who's lived in the epicenter of Pantsiosville during those rather drudge-like days can tell you just how much of an aversion the entire Cleveland music mafia had to anything that was considered young, exciting, underground, Velvet-inspired and just plain ol' punky, and the mere thought of hearing something like 15-60-75 on a commercial FM station is definitely akin to finding out that Lindsay Hutton was made grand marshal of a Sons of Italy parade. Heck, the only "new wave" types who got to appear on the Cleveland "AOR" biggies back when this music was at its most potent were the likes of the Baloney Heads (who had business connections), the Adults and Insanity and the Killers (ditto, plus they were horrid enough to pass the FM taste test) not forgetting the Wild Giraffes and Styrene Money Band but that's only because Paul Marotta's recording and technical knowhow was needed in a pinch and well, Paul did have a bargaining chip handy now, didn't he?

I kinda wonder just how the Numbers wrangled this broadcast, but thank somebody they got an opportunity to perform to an audience potentially way larger than their regular following. It's funny listening to the announcer, who I guess didn't know the Kidney Brothers from a hole in the ground, explain the meaning of the group's name and generally treat 'em as some strange aberration, but that only adds to the whole "charm" of the proceedings. Vocalist Robert Kidney is in fine vocal and lyrical shape, reminding me more of Tim Buckley than the Jim Morrison most local writers had him pegged as, while the rest of the group jam-packs the heavy riff-rock sound with a drone straight outta the Velvets packed with perhaps thee best horn section even makes the classic Mothers of Invention lineup sound like sickly neo-bopsters trying to hitch their futures to some mustachioed freak who smelled really bad.

Even the group's latest single on Hearthan was performed, and I get the feeling that this particular action didn't make the folks at 'MMS too happy considering just how much animosity there was between 'em and the former Crocus Behemoth who was responsible for releasing the Numbers' only release twixt the essential JIMMY BELL'S STILL IN TOWN and their '83 followup. Who knows...hard feelings never die and I guess there's still a lotta vitriol between the people at that long-running FM station and the local underground, but at least I'm glad it at least let up for this particular faux pas on the part of Denny Sanders and the rest of the down home, whole wheat crew. Nice to know some things never change (or as we always say about our adversaries...once an asshole, always an asshole!).
Crawlspace-TO' UP cassette (Space One)

'member all of those old Eddie Flowers reviews in fanzines such as BEYOND OUR CONTROL, INITIAL SHOCK and of course that all-time killer GULCHER where the heftoid praise he would ladle out for Can would run into that for Yoko Ono and the Stooges with sidesteps into the Velvet Underground, Albert Ayler and Amon Duul II? Well, this cassette is sorta like the sum and substance of Eddie's 1972-1976 writings mooshed up into a nice ball and spewed out for the same audience that undoubtedly rushed to the nearest record shop after reading one of his missives. Maybe you were one of them. I sure wish I was!

I can't help but think of Can when listening to the a-side of this Crawlspace live lysergic ramble that came out a hefty twenty-one years back, a period in time when it looked as if Flowers' knack for self-promotion was succeeding somewhat on the Los Angeles underground scene. Dunno if Eddie would have made the short list for potential Can vocalists, but his presence sure would have brightened up those latterday albums of an iffy nature as he mutters and spews in the best Damo Suzuki trad while the band creeps and crawls through a mess that does sound about as much krautrock 1972 as it does El Lay ponk 1991. A nice shift through various themes and ideas that really do sound like the clashing of YOKO ONO PLASTIC ONO BAND up against TAGO MAGO (or was it MIRROR MAN?) with a healthy fix of the Stooges as they existed in the minds of such mental miscreants as Flowers back '72 way, all ending with the main theme from Ornette Coleman's SKIES OF AMERICA twisted to atonal delight. Definitely deserves to be heard by more than the few thousand who managed to get hold of this a good twenny-one years back.

Side "B" has Mr. Flowers working out not only with Todd Homer (ex-Angry Samoans) and Larry Robinson's Mooseheart Faith, but former Sanhedrin guitarist George Popel shows up and they all succeed in  making an exquisite electronic free splat for Flowers to spout his inspired gibberish. The music weaves in and out of the realm of normality with synths and squeaky toys being hard to differentiate from while psychedelic guitar lines echo back to the glory days of late-sixties El Lay, and if Eddie was within the grasps of his senses while this was being laid down he must have a sturdier constitutional than any of us would have gathered. You don't need the help of psychedelics to enjoy this trip, and come to think of it the use of the usual mind-expanding substances might bring the festivities down quite a bit.

Golly, I never remembered Crawlspace (an act I felt was superior to the drek most associated with the late-eighties underground flotsam) to be this exhilarating, this soul-cleansing and perhaps the only honest-to-goodness heir to Can's long-abdicated throne of maddening glory. Expect more Crawlspace reviews as the weeks progress, and let's just hope that those iffy CD-R's Eddie sent me ages back will play on my new if cheaper deck which doesn't seem to be as fussy about these home-pressed goodies as many of my Cee-Dee players of yore were.


Anonymous said...


Does the brats lp consist of 1975 recordings or is it new recordings?


Christopher Stigliano said...

I believe these are demos and outtakes, but they're most definitely from the mid-seventies...'77 at the latest I would guess. Liners are sketchy, and probably for a good reason.

Robert Cook said...

I bought the LET IT BLURT single at Bleeker Bob's on either my first visit to NYC (June 1979) or my second (August 1980) (before moving here for good--so far--in May 1981, the day after PiL's infamous debacle at the Ritz). I, uh, kinda liked it. When I heard he had this album coming out, I looked all over NYC for it but couldn't find it. On a Christmas trip home to see the folks I found a lone copy of JOOK SAVAGES at a mall record store down there in southern suburbia. Who'da thunk? I learned to like it pretty well pretty being catchy didn't hurt! Then, after Lester's death, his Birdland album was released and I found a single copy of IT at the Upper West Side Tower Records. Snapped it up. A nice change of pace from the other recordings.

All in all, Lester made a better writer than rock star, but he put himself on the line and I wouldn't want to be without any of these records in my collection, even if I don't often play 'em. (Haven't for years, in fact.)

Anonymous said...

well, what can i say, it sounds like crawlspace really deserve to be heard by more people. the only problem is that it seems like there isn't any option to actually do so (even though your review got me totally psyched).
any chance you could rip the album, into mp3 format ?
thanks in advance,