Obviously the ol' year didn't have the same teenage throb musical/television/suburban slob living passion that '63-'67 or '71-'72 had for millions of swingers, or even '74-'81 for me when I wasn't letting schoolwork and anti-social behavior get the best of me. But then again, how long has it been since we were suburban slob teenage pimplefarms who pretty much LIVED for the late-afternoon/pre-prime time rerun slot on tee-vee? Well, there was one good thing about the year and that was I was able to make it through the entire shebang and come out alive, so maybe I shouldn't complain that much when I see the dearth of anything out there that gets me as hot and heavy as I would get when I was a mere teenager getting all excited over the "new releases" being presented on the wall at National Record Mart. After all my heart's still pumpin', and I guess that's one thing I can be thankful for even if there's nothing out there for it to really pump over.
I know that '12 wasn't exactly a happy year for some of you readers out there, and unless you're a stupid scum slime I must say that I can understand your own personal travails. True, there are many a sideways turd throughout the bowel movement of life that we all have to endure, and undoubtedly a few of you had it a whole lot worse than others even though I'm sure none of us had what we'd call a perfect, tip-top go of it. For me there were quite a few ups and plenty of downs that I'd prefer not to have to re-live again ever (but I will) and if anything this past year was the one which has begun in earnest my general bodily break-down to the point where I'm sure that in a decade's time what's left of me will be able to be sold for choice bucks on the black medical market. Good thing I really don't need the money now or else I'd start auctioning my liver off on ebay, but if such an opportunity would arise within a few year's time I'm not sure if I would want to pass it up!
But enough of my own problems (which aren't as drastic as I am making them out to be, and with such miracles of modern medicine aa orange-flavored baby aspirin I could probably live for another ten, twenty or even thirty years as long as I look both ways before crossing the street). Onto the music. No, I am not going to say that 2012 was a duff year for sounds recorded or otherwise EVEN THOUGH rock 'n roll as we knew it is pretty much dead and scrounging like a virus waiting to strike some unaware pubescent pud. There were some pretty hot recordings, articles, happenstance and what-have-ya goin' on that made the past solar rotation a rather pleasant time in between doctor's appointments and fighting off finger fungus. Who knows, maybe you too will agree with some of the best and worst conclusions I obviously have jumped to with regards to 2012 directly below, but deep in my heart I must say that I really do doubt it.
ALBUM (or Cee-Dee these days) OF THE YEAR!- Man the choices, from the Kiosk to Dark Sunny Land to Fadensonnen with their home made ramalama careening through the inner stretches of your imagination not forgetting the Neatbeats actin' like 1967 never did happen, but for all-time best non-archival new as it's happening spins go it's just gotta be Mark Stewart's THE POLITICS OF ENVY which is one platter that proves that these late-seventies artsy punk types can still kick it out even though the music and the mode and the backdrop to it all fizzled out a good thirty years back. Good lineup too, with the likes of Gina Birch, Youth, Lee "Scratch" Perry, Richard Hell and Kenneth Anger (!) helping Mark in his quest to firmly implant the Rough Trade credo in a world that never did give a fig even if ROLLING STONE told 'em it was OK to back '80 way. An outta-nowhere surprise and if you don't care for it then, in the sage words of Madonna, I won't take my clothes off. Close second: AVANT DUEL. Close third: THE KIOSK. Even closer third: FADENSONNEN. (Edgar Breau's PATCHES OF BLUE should fit in here somewhere...)
ALBUM (or album these days) OF THE YEAR!- Gary Wilson's LISA WANTS TO TALK TO YOU which repro's an '08 cassette release but is still "current" enough to qualify as a newie at least around these parts. It's sure grand to see these "outsider" musicians still cranking it out long after the snooty mainstream press began looking beyond their Eagles press releases for at least a few seconds, and I guess the fack that Wilson is still recording a good thirtysome years after the fact while many of his compadres have fallen by the wayside does prove at least one thing...that some people just don't know when to give up even if they've been beaten and run roughshod over beyond repair! And I, for one, should know.
SINGLE OF THE YEAR!- Public Toilet's "I Woke Up With Your Mom", a downright classic in the late-seventies/early-eighties "diy" style that reeks Meltzer so much (and Dictators too) that I'm surprised no three-way lawsuit has ensued! Also worth a dribble (even if it was recorded way back inna sixties); Jonathan Halper's PUCE MOMENT soundtrack, an idea which has come about thirty years too late considering the early eighties was the era of rare psychedelic exhumations of this order but I'm not complaining even if its appearance on PEBBLES Vol. 3 never did occur like it shoulda.
EP OF THE YEAR!- The Flamin' Groovies' SNEAKERS (Skydog France), which only goes to prove to you that the era of the self-produced, garage-recorded crank out EP is dead and buried if I have to rely on a classic slice of late-sixties San Fran punkadelia like this classic as my choice for best of year! But this one has it all, from that wonderful cover that (on the reverse) looks like a boffo old-time European platter to the music heard therein, which I at first (like in 1982) will admit sounded a little too good-timey giddy but now makes more sense to me than all of the self-conscious prattle that's been passing for youth-driven passion these past few decades.
DOWNLOAD OF THE YEAR!- no bout a doubt it the Rocket From the Tombs live at the Viking Saloon 12/21/74 offering that the Pere Ubu website is offering up to us pikers for a mere ten smackers a shot. Yeah it'll only be a matter of time before someone of European descent presses this 'un up on vinyl complete with a full-color gatefold sleeve but until then you might wanna bug your more internet-savvy friend into burning a copy of this for your personal pleasure. Hope that future downloads are headed our way including shows from the original "comedy" version of the group when Charlie Weiner co-led the band, not forgetting the nova-esque final days when for once we might be able to hear the opening portion of "Sonic Reducer" but I guess its stuff like that in which we have '13 to look forward to, eh? Well, at least I hope so (hint hint!).
RE-PACKAGE OF THE YEAR!- the MAINSTREAM album by Quiet Sun which, surprisingly enough, now comes housed in a hard-cover book containing the history of not only the album, but one regarding Roxy guitarist Phil Manzanara's first group who re-united after fame and fortune set in to record this legendary outing for the Antilles label. Yeah I know that these record labels are thinking up all sortsa gimmicks to get people to re-buy items that have been in their collections for eons awlready but look at it this way...at least this money is going to something that will be with you for hopefully the rest of your life as opposed to the food that you could be buying with the same moolah, and after you're done eating what good is it then?
BOOTLEG OF THE YEAR!-Either Alice Cooper's PARRICIDAL SLUMBERS or the Mothers of Invention's ARTISAN ACETATE, even though one is an ancient classic from the head shop seventies and the other a brand-spanking new effort that would have been boffo had it only made its way out in the same seventies that made Zappa a superstar stinko. Either way both really helped to make 2012 a top bop year for boots at least in my basement, which someday I hope to turn into a replica of an outta-the-way record store complete with a rack of underground comix and publications not to mention a seedy-looking guy who'd better keep an eagle eye on me lest I pilfer some of my own record collection wares!
BIGGEST SURPRISE OF THE YEAR!- Tim Buckley and the Starsailor Band's LIVE AT ESCONDIDO burn containing one of the few live documents of Buckley during his avant garde fling, a masterful performance that most of the "original" Buckley fans seemed to want to forget at least until it became underground "hip" 'n "cool" to like these atonal outings. Oddly enough it was this particular period in Buckley's career that made me wanna seek LORCA and STARSAILOR out a good three-anna-half decades back 'n I really haven't had that much of a drive 'r verve to hear any of his other recs which have longtime fans making him out as the male sex's answer to Joni Mitchell! Go figure!!!
DISAPPOINTMENT/BUMMER OF THE YEAR!- the Can MONSTER MOVIE LIVE (and Amon Duul II 1969 LIVE) LP on the B13 label, a cheap pawning off of the official Can debut with an extremely enticing title. Makes me wonder where the thugs with hammers who are out there protecting our interests may be especially in these caveat emptor days! CLOSE SECOND-the cancellation of Judge Andrew Napolitano's FREEDOM WATCH show on the Fox Business Network, the only political program which not only made for a fine relief from watching Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity schmooze up to Republican Party bigwigs on the major Fox News Network and "man with a womb" Rachel Maddow trying to come up with a better comeback than "you're living in the fifties!" on MSNBC, but actually had ideas being spouted off that...gosh!...I could agree with! With such subversive ideas regarding personal freedom and how BOTH sides of the spectrum (and that even includes you altruistic, self-congratulating progressive types out there!) are curtaining speech and business being spewed forth on the Judge's show, no wonder the "mainstream" Fox bigwigs dropped the ax!
BOOK OF THE YEAR (ROCK MUSIC DIVISION)!- THE INEVITABLE WORLD OF THE VELVET UNDERGROUND, yet another collection of articles and other memorabilia regarding the only band that did matter for quite a long time. At least this period-piece lookback and encapsulation of the excitement of the 1966-1981 season sure outshines all of those collections of recent writings mostly done by some of the worst 'droids to hit the "rock criticism" bandwagon led by that schmuck Alban Zeck.
BOOK OF THE YEAR (SECULAR DIVISION)!- Gustave Verbeck's THE UPSIDE DOWNS, a collection of this legendary comic strip from the birth of the modern form which you hadda flip over to finish reading! If you like the long-gone charm and feeling of an early pre-Griffith Biograph or an ancient cylinder spinning in an antique shop, you might enjoy this almost as much as prowling through granny's attic! Close second, the NANCY IS HAPPY collection of 1943-1945 NANCY dailies (too soon to let the tipsy topsy followup NANCY LIKES CHRISTMAS sink in deep enough to warrant a best of for the year though you know it should) while whatever DICK TRACY volume came out deserves mention as well. Here's hoping for the next edition real soon because I for one would like to find out what exactly did happen to that mewling mutant Bonnie Braids!
DEATH OF THE YEAR!-Too many to list and too many greats to mention (Frank Cady, Andy Griffith, Ernest Borgnine, Lol Coxhill, Jack Klugman you'll burn for that punk rock QUINCY episode...) have passed on these past 366, so why not go out on a limb and give that honor to Byard Lancaster, a man who at least spent a lifetime devoted to the ever-popular new thing in jazz and, although not receiving an iota of the attention lesser minds in that world have, benefited people such as ourselves with a great number of recordings and appearances that I'm sure will live lovingly in our minds long after the last horrid shards of Chick Corea have been long shuffled off to the darkest reaches of our cranium hopefully never to be retrieved!
POST OF THE YEAR!- Can't deny that the post I feel the proudest in presenting to you, the discerning BLOG TO COMM reader, is (believe it or leave it!) my review of the AL CAPP biography which, despite the typical reservations I have regarding modern day amorality being used to combat Silent Majority "hypocrisy," at least gives us (more or less) the story behind the infamous LI'L ABNER creator and a decent, if prima facie, explanation as to who the man was and perhaps why he did what he did. (Though leaving a lot out, perhaps to bolster the authors' own hippie credo.) Sure the review is rambling and perhaps will irritate those who certainly stand on the more dictatorial side of World Politix but hey, if they can't take the heat they shoulda gotten outta the pressure cooker a long time ago!
WRITER OF THE YEAR!-Naw, nobody in the rock et roll division made it this year (too many retirements and not enough fresh plasma), but then again has rock "criticism" really meant a hill of beans ever since the major magazine outlets shut out "The Noise Boys" and packed their pages with yesmen willing to hype the latest hubbub for the honor of seeing their name in print? At least the writing to be found on the more polly-ticking-oriented websites can tingle my nerve-endings the way a good Meltzer schpiel from '70 can, and if I can't read Lester Bangs on my box anymore maybe I can find some Paul Craig Roberts, Kathy Shaidle or Gavin McInnes to jolt me back into total froth mode. Have to say that this year the writing of Jim Goad at the TAKI'S MAGAZINE site (see linkup on left, idiot!) has really jostled me to no ends, especially when the guy really gets into his no-holds-barred opinionating regarding every latest tragedy out there custom-made to break the hearts of Huffington Post readers nationwide. Given the current trend towards being nice and sweet, unless yer dealing with ogres along the lines of myself, it's sure grand to read a guy being nasty...to people we're just not supposed to be nasty to anymore lest we offend someone who most certainly needs to be offended these days!
BLOG OF THE YEAR!- Mighty hard choice again considering how many of the blogs I have been following have deep-sixed into a needless oblivion. The ever-popular HOUND BLOG seems to have gone the way of the Edsel (though not author Jim Marshall, who left an encouraging comment on my Peter Laughner birthday post this past August), while most of the other rock 'n roll-related blogs have suffocated under their own self-conscious weight or just ain't worth the effort to dial up. Thus, my favorite blog this year just has to be SCREWBALL COMICS (see link up on left) where the classic works of everyone from Bill Holman (SMOKEY STOVER) to Gene Ahern (THE SQUIRREL CAGE) are reprinted with an astounding regularity much to my delight considering I wasn't around to sprawl out on the living room floor and read these comics back in 1945. For a more detailed look at the latter's work, I heartily recommend THE SQUIRREL CAGE blog (again, see link on left!) which is totally devoted to my personal favorites like Paul Bunyan and of course the crazy hitchhiker who keeps saying "Nov Schmoz Ka Pop!" As far as other blogs go well, I like tuning into some of the more "hard right" ones out there from Jewamongyou's to Kathy Shaidle's (who sometimes veers into the uncomfortable realm of mainstream neo-conservatism, but at least she's still upsetting enough to love) FIVE FEET OF FURY, but that's only after I'm through reading the rock stuff!
MOOM PITCHER OF THE YEAR!-The only one I sat through with bated breath (and it does smell like worms) was SKIDOO!, the Jackie Gleason/Groucho Marx LSD-inspired cinematic wigout from 1968 that I have the feeling most involved would prefer to forget. Great period piece, if only to see old time moom and tee-vee faves acting in the kinda pitcher you woulda thought they would have been embarrassed to be caught acting in!
HERO OF THE YEAR!-John Derbyshire, who once again proved what some of us have known for ages, mainly that a racist is anybody a liberal doesn't like. After the shafting he got from NATIONAL REVIEW for writing what was pretty much the hard truth to Pat Buchanan's axing at MSNBC, I guess more'n a few of us are gonna be padded into a lavender-fumigated gas chamber a whole lot sooner'n we would have guessed!
I guess that's it for the year. See you for a midweek post in a few days followed by my usual bigtime weekend shebang, and here's hoping the material keeps flowin' and the music keeps spinnin' and maybe that the New Year will bring us more'n the usual leftovers tossed our way via the internet, the major labels and even the fans themselves. Frankly, when it comes to hot sixties/seventies rockist excursions I could sure use a whole lot more, and not just the table scraps we hungry pooches have been tossed over the past few decades or so! C'mon people, I want a bountiful buffet, not these kibbles 'n bits that are so condescendingly handed to us as if someone's doing us a big favor!!!!