Sunday, November 11, 2012

Well, I went to the polling place Wednesday and nobody was there!!! Guess I got the day wrong, but before you call me a stoop at least give me credit for calling Prez Obama the winner in the presidential election as well as predicting that he would retain the office by a narrow popular vote and perhaps even a substantial one in the electoral college*. Also slap me five for predicting that the congressional numbers won't change enough to make up much of a difference, meaning we're gonna be headed for even more gridlock at least for the next two years! Frankly that makes me happy to no end (things will not get worse!) unless the loyal opposition loses its testosterone and caves in like it most probably will. If you must know, I can't and in fact won't say that I'm sad to see Mitt Romney take a tailspin the way he did considering his own wishy washy political nature (not to mention the abysmal way he and the rest of his party hacks gave the Ron Paul delegates such a hard time at that showpiece they called a convention), but then again I'm not quite so sure that I want to see the US of Whoa going the way of Greece even if I think we'd be headed in the same direction no matter who's finger's gonna be pressin' the button! Let's just say that it's gonna be a wild second term for Obama and really, I don't care who's callin' the shots but whoever it is I WANT TO SEE HIM FAIL MISERABLY!!! (Unless it is a politician of substance and worth who's going to do the most noble thing possible and dismantle the government to the point where it would be totally irrelevant to all of us, but at least we can dream!)

Looking out the window I can see it's overcast in that sublime way that can only spell late autumn, and the lack of leaves on the trees certainly does give it a rather stark, perhaps even foreboding look that can only mean winter's on its way (as you can see, it pays to save your old sixth-grade essays!).  I gotta admit that I'm soaking it all in if only because the dark grey skies and barren landscape can't help but conjure up memories of my youth, or at least a time when the change from warm to cold weather didn't irritate me unless spring was taking its good ol' time to arrive and I was sick of sitting around doin' nothin', and I saw it as a natural change in the cycle of life just like the television seasons or your first blackheads for that matter. I guess only a hopeless romantic such as I could really find anything positive or beneficial in reminiscing about dark skies and how the change back to Standard Time meant that the evening hours were going to be pitch black but sheesh, when I look out the window and see those low-hanging clouds about to sputter snow I just can't help flashing back to an adolescence that was being pumped by AM radio at its '71-'73 best, or a massive comic book obsession that only got shook up 'round '73 when the stories began to suck, or how great is was to have two days off in a row where you can do all of the comic book reading and tee-vee watching you wanted in between all of the mandatory household doodies just about every ten-year-old was subjugated to. Heck, even during the early winter days when the sky is clear and the evening sun begins to go down I can't help but reflect about how I loved to look at the purple sky in the east and  how that royal color would reflect on the snow looking almost as dream-like as a full moon shining on the same snow making my bedroom bright in this strange mystical way.

Enough of the milk-curdling sentimentality...let's just say that these gloomy days of Autumn are pretty much conduit to me grabbing a buncha old comic books/strip collections and holing up in my room while various early-seventies standbys (ELECTRIC WARRIOR works wonders) spin on a technology that wasn't even around when I was enjoying these musical and visual masterpieces for the first time ever. Dunno if any of you readers can even remotely feel the way I do, but as for me let's just say that I actually am looking forward to the upcoming cold weather and dreary days (hope there's lotsa slush!) if only because that means there's more time for me to cuddle up in my comfy chair and dig into old funnies (and of course my collection of classic CREEMs before Bangs 1506 Nix Nix'd the place) with the long dark and hopefully frigid nights awaiting us here in the Western Pennsylvania area.

Considering just how slo mo this week has been as far as rockist kultur goes I thought I'd rerun the concept I presented for you last week and briefly detail the various recordings that I've lent ear to since these past seven rotations. Mostly oldies true, but some things that didn't make either the blog or the fanzine do pop up thanks to a combing of the collection brought on by a Sunday afternoon of boredom. Like I always say it's sure nice revisiting these old friends every so often, and considering some of the "humans" I've been in contact with throughout my life these sounds surely are true friends that never turn their back on you and treat you like the hideous scum you most truly are! Like last week's selection these are pretty much reviewed in the order in which I listened to them beginning last Sunday PM and ending this Sunday AM, and if you're stymied at the dearth of recordings (or live under the delusion that I spin at least 1000 hot recordings within the span of a day) all I gotta ask you is...don't you think I need to come up for air at least once in awhile???


Interesting enuff limited edition (twenty each!) burns of avant garde rock sound Eddie Flowers was giving away free to those willing to buy a few tidbits from his Slippytown mailorder enterprise a good ten years back. Considering how by this time Crawlspace were more or less a concept in the Plastic Ono Band tradition ("You are Crawlspace!") there's very little of the early Crawlspace straight-ahead underground rock style here...this is more or less free sound ranging from industrial slosh to what sounds like a dryer with a bunch of thumb pianos tossed in, interspersed with cheapo guitar repeato riff chords and other aural stimulators vaguely resembling fractured rock structures. If anything these disques come closer to the Smegma/LAFMS concept of music than that of the Gulcher/fanzine mafia, but considering how Flowers was champing at the bit to sing the praises of everyone from Yoko Ono to Can to Coltrane as being of the same music listening caliber as Iggy and Aerosmith maybe you could conjure up in your mind these disques being the "middle ground" 'tween what many would consider two strikingly opposite poles (but we know better now, do we?).

Rashied Ali and Le Roy Jenkins Duo-SWIFT ARE THE WINDS OF LIFE; Rashied Ali and Frank Lowe-DUO EXCHANGE CDs (Survival/Knitting Factory)

Considering just how rare the originals were it was sure a blasting in disguise that the Knitting Factory label re-released the various Rashied Ali/Survival albums for modern day enjoyment. Legendary for their all-out high energy sounds, Survival featured the former John Coltrane drummer not only with his own groupings but alongside various free jazz legends in duo settings which in many ways were reminiscent of the classic INTERSTELLAR SPACE duos the man did with Coltrane right before the latter freedomed his way to the other side. Not quite sure of which other Survival releases feature Ali in duo settings (too lazy to google so early in the morn) but these recordings have just enough jam-packed energy to keep any of you rock 'n roll fans dabbling in the jazz realm fine and dandy! Frankly, this type of music was just as important to the whole sixties/seventies hard-blare as all of that hard-crunch under-the-underground music you've spent your life listening to, and if you're ignoring jazz because all you can think of when you hear the word is horrid bowtie supper club schmooze man you will have another think comin' when you hear these!

Jenkins was always a rather angular, nerve-wracking stylist (which of course worked to his advantage considering his tool was not a horn) and on SWIFT ARE THE WINDS OF LIFE he plays with all of the style and verve that he did in the Revolutionary Ensemble as well as with Anthony Braxton/the Creative Construction Company and a variety of other other words, the guy totally wrecks. And with the lack of AACM "small instruments" or African throwbacks he gets to concentrate on his playing which is upfront and strained enough to knock the unsuspecting listener outta his comfy bean bag chair. Ali is, as usual, a particularly powerful percussionist and his free splatter compliments Jenkins' violin to the fullest extent as it weaves in and out of a beat like a light onna feet boxer trying to dodge the slugs. Being a fan of both for quite some time I gotta say that this was perhaps one of the better team ups I've encountered since Jack Kirby's pencils were being inked by Dick Ayers during the early days of Marvel!

Naw, I take that back because the Ali/Frank Lowe offering is just as brutal a spin as the above. Lowe was never the kinda guy who held back with his own sax stylings (at least until he read that review of BLACK BEINGS which accused him of "overblowing") and here he sticks true to early form as he delivers his lines like somebody was grinding his 'nads up for McDonalds burgers. The interplay between the two is so powerful, intense and bowl you over like a rabid dog going for a six-year-old girl's buttocks that it even makes the glorious INTERSTELLAR SPACE sound like George Shearing outtakes! Naturally, a must have along with THE FLAM not forgetting the rest of the early Lowe catalog which better stay in print lest we lose an entire generation of jazz listeners to the horrid strains of that stuff I always hear on the "lite jazz" channel! A natural must-have for the true blue BLOG TO COMM reader, and I'm sure Paul McGarry is searching the web for a free download right this very moment unless there's an ALL IN THE FAMILY rerun popping up on the tube that is! Sheesh, what a meathead!

Philip Glass-MUSIC WITH CHANGING PARTS CD (Elektra Nonesuch)

Can't really complain considering how this 'un was originally recorded and released way back '71 way before Glass became the chic artzy drool over person to listen to during the eighties, and I must admit that I find his early Ensemble recordings just as entertaining on those lonely weekday nights as I do a side by Can or the Art Ensemble of Chicago for that matter. Nice droning rhythm shifts and drive, not that different than what a good portion of the krautscapaders were up to around the same time, and who knows but perhaps the sainted Velvet Underground themselves would have come up with something like this had John Cale not been given the heave-ho during that fateful day in 1968. (But I doubt it.) Added bonus points if you have the original 2-LP set on Chatham Square. Even more if you bought your copy directly from New Music Distribution Service way back in 1975 before the Glass name became synonymous with dead-eyed beret wearing artistes roaming the lofts of New York in search of a piece of artwork they can relate to and a stale dorito for nourishment.

Les Rallizes Denudes-LIVE & STUDIO 1975-1978, Up-Tight-LIVE 2003, SWEET SISTER 1994-2003 CD-R's

Three shining examples of Japanese underground rock courtesy some enterprising soul who was out and about releasing these and many other slim-case platters a good decade or so back. Though these are probably now available in "legit" form it's sure nice having these platters in my collection not only because I got to hear 'em a good decade or so before anyone else, but I sure as shootin' ain't gonna pay to listen to this stuff again even if it's available on "real" Cee-Dees complete with informative liner notes and recently discovered snaps to boot.

The Raillizes one's pretty hotcha capturing the group at perhaps their peak of perfection, romping through the old chestnuts in between delivering on some great improvisation just laden in guitar feedback. Sound quality is OK, though with a recording like this I kinda wonder if you really need ears. After all, the vibrations would be enough to kill even a Helen Keller with their arrhythmic atonality that (thankfully) never did show any mercy in a world that's just brimming full of it to the point of nausea.

Up-Tight are more or less a Les Rallizes Denudes Jr., or "acolytes" as some prefer to call them. This by now decade old live collection goes to show that if any group should have laid claim to continuing in the fine tradition of the Rallizes guys its these young(er) upstarts, even if their later recordings were quite pale compared with the drone-blare they created during their first ten or so years of existence. They have it all down pat from the feedback guitar lines to the slow, dirge-like ballads that come so close to the Rallizes original that I kinda wonder why Rallizes leader Mizutani didn't sue!

Anyhoo, the LIVE 2003 collection's packed with a stellar selection of various live trackage from '03 recorded across the Aoki/Ogata/Shirahata area (which I guess in Japan is akin to the Mercer/Lawrence/Crawford County axis) in excellent sound featuring old standbys and tuneage I've forgotten about, all topped off with a version of "Sweet Sister" (approximately the band's traditional closer in the same manner that Rallizes ended their shows with "The Last One")  which I sometimes wonder was performed to help clear the concert halls of an audience the same way vaudeville shows would round out their bills with some doof playing a musical saw after the big draw did their thing!

Their SWEET SISTER disque also shines brightly with some even wilder live numbers that must have cooked more than a few amplifiers before ending with the title track, a version which is even more feral than the take one can hear on the legendary NIGHT GALLERY set. According to the insert, this 'un is "dedicated to Duck & Sally, Miss Rayon and Cecil"...somehow I am not surprised. Definitely one of the better groups to have come out of the post-Rallizes Japanese underground even though I still find their later releases to be lacking in the warmth and soul that only a group devoted to heavy duty distortion and a lack of sweetness and light can have.

Guru Guru-LIVE 1972/Uli Trepte-CONNY PLANK'S SESSIONS 1974 CD (Spalax France)

Yeah, I know that these Guru Guru live sets can start runnin' into each other and sounding the same once you get to listenin' to a whole buncha 'em at once, but I still think these two extended live tracks (originally issued on the United Dairies label) are total pounders that really come off as much of a late-sixties punk rock extravaganza the same way that Can and even Amon Duul I circa PARDIESWARTS DUUL do. Kinda sounds like the only local group in a hundred mile radius who listened to the Stooges and had a guitarist who fancied himself the white Jimi Hendrix (hah!). The solo Trepte demos from a good two years later are hardly as experimental, or entertaining, as the Guru tracks which I guess is why the compilers stuck 'em at the end of the platter.

The Moonlighters-DREAMLAND (c/o the Moonlighters, 51 MacDougall St., Suite #116, New York, New York 10012)

With a cover like that you'd probably think the Moonlighters were one of those oochy woochy alternative bands who've been cutesying up the music scene for a longer time than anyone can usual, you couldn't be further from the truth. Although the Moonlighters were a mixed-sex young'n upcoming fashionable looking act that frequently played such amerindie-friendly places as the CBGB 313 Gallery, they were not an act of the light pop/"twee" variety but a ukelele/steel guitar bunch that incorporated a whole lotta classioid Tin Can Alley numbers in their repertoire  Not to mention their originals that really did ape the classic style I might add. The strangest thing about 'em is that in their ranks was none other than Henry Bogdan, a chap whose previous claim to fame was as a member of Prong, a group that in many ways could not be further from the aesthetics and practices of the Moonlighters! Their pleasant, Hawaiian-styled music really does help ease you outta the jangled nerves and into beddy bye time, and the only thing that I don't like about it is that the sound's too clear! That flat, 78 rpm quality really woulda lent this 'un some class you just can't find on disque anymore, and if there's any way you can do some eq-ing to get rid of the highs and lows (plus add some crackles and hiss) you really got yourself some kinda rekkid here!!!

The Velvet Underground-LIVE AT MAX'S KANSAS CITY 2-CD set (Atlantic/Rhino)

An old favorite here that sounds a whole lot better once the gloss and slick technowhiz has been slopped on giving it a more than "official bootleg" sound. The additional numbers help to more than pad the thing out; I especially liked the extended take of "Some Kinda Love" that got into some nice in-and-out weaving improv stuff you just didn't associate with the group during their final days. Often ignored, frequently dismissed, but as fine a live document as all of those bootleg tracks of yore that are gonna get the red carpet treatment one of these days.

The Troggs-PREHISTORIC SOUNDS CD (Tendolar bootleg, country of origin unknown)

What the world needs is a good Troggs bootleg, and since this is the only Troggs bootleg I know of why should anyone complain. The early BBC sessions (taken from some Troggs radio special complete with a Reg Presley interview) for once don't sound like distant waves from Belgium and it's always great hearin' things like "Wild Thing" performed with an acoustic guitar, not to mention a "Love Is All Around" with a different if annoying chord progression. It's also a kick giving a listen to Presley wrap his vocal cords around "Little Green Apples" which kinda makes me wonder if he was aping his namesake during the Vegas years perhaps a little too much! The rare b-sides are mostly throwaways which I guess is why they never did get the legit reissue treatment, but don't let that discourage you because closing out the platter are some pretty hot live at Max's tracks that come off particularly power-packed even  with some of the technical goof ups. As far as bootlegs go this is a topper, but what potentially great Troggs boot would've been complete without some of their commercial material stuck on! I haven't had the opportunity to give a listen to their take on the Miller's High Life theme and hey, I've been waiting three whole decades to hear Presley croon the infamous words "When it's time to relax..."

Ton Steine Scherben-WARUM GEHT ES MIR SO DRECKIG? CD (David Volksmund Produktion, Germany)

First and best of these krautsters' long line of agitprop proto punk platters that might have seemed rather hippoid over there in Bratwurstland but sound rather refreshing these ways. True, parts do sound rather 1970 commercial rock as in AM Top Forty pop funk bell bottoms and headbands, but the overall effect is kinda like Kama Sutra/Richard Robinson-produced Flamin' Groovies/Hackamore Brick album that went straight from the "new releases" section to the 99-cent bin. And if the axis won World War II you can bet this (along with the Zuno Keisatsu album reviewed last week) would be proudly displayed in the cutout stack at your local bund!

BEFORE I GO, I was wondering if any of you readers have been following the BBC Jimmy Savile underage gal (and boy) sex scandal that's been plaguing the long-running British network for the past few months or so? Nothing there that would really be of interest to the regular BLOG TO COMM reader true, but considering that now longtime BBC disc jockey John Peel's corpse has been dragged into the fray maybe some of you will now feign interest. Perhaps you've read about the revelations of his romance and knocking up of a fourteen-year-old (OK, maybe she was fifteen!) child suddenly coming to light, which just goes to show you how sick in the head some of our "heroes" could be! I guess that's one reason I always say that you should "SEPARATE THE MUSIC FROM THE RECORDING ARTIST!", or in this case separate the public entertainment figure from his private persona and personal "tastes" which you might have agreed upon at some time in your life even if the guy was as sick and as wanton as one could imagine. Well, another thing I will say before shutting my trap for the next few days is that the term "John Peel Session" will certainly have a new and extremely different meaning from now on, and if you have any equally witty one-liners regarding the current controversy please do send them in!

*not my exact prediction but close enough, sunshine!

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