Saturday, January 05, 2013

Well here we are, in the brand spankin' maybe not-so-happy new year of 2013. I'll bet'cha yer won'drin' why I sez "not-so-happy" now do ya? I mean,  are you that daft and do I have to come over to your place 'n hit you over the head with a  sledgehammer??? We're talking the year 2013, and that's thirteen as in BAD LUCK!!! evil may befall ye and watch out for falling rocks, and although I am not a superstitious person by any stretch of the imagination (why I even place my chapeau on the bed and walk under ladders as long as a nice-looking lady in a skirt is climbing it) I sure do believe in coincidence!!! I should know because I actually lived through the age of thirteen (first official year of my teens!), and that was one experience that taught me the omnipotent power of that sometimes feared, often avoided number!

Oh yeah I had my fun reading the comic books and watching tee-vee at the time (even though the reception was so bad I could only get one station in perfect, one fuzzy and the third almost non-existent), but the teacher I got during my eighth year in grade school looked like Margaret Hamilton, and she was more than apt to treat me worse'n the cigarette butt she was always suckin' on in the teacher's lounge. Now I do think that I got off on the wrong foot with her by mentioning the Rolling Stones' Amerigan tour as being more important than the political conventions that had transpired that summer (even though it was), but that was no reason for her to always single me out with the ridicules along the lines of "You're never going to get a job when you graduate from school!" and "If you were any stupider than you are now you'd be taking the upper berth to Polk State Hospital this very minute!"  I guess my very presence does bring out the best in people, eh?

Well enough of that fine reminiscence regarding my thirteenth year....anyway I'm just warning you that the following one might not be as tipsy topsy and fine and dandy as the previous ones were! And if you thought those were pretty dismal days well, if there's a way you can induce yourself into a trance or hide under the bed for the next 365 I certainly hope that you can find a way to do so without coming out of it brain damaged or even a DEMOCRATIC UNDERGROUND reader, which would be the ultimate hex to be put upon your fragile existence during the new solar strut!

If I have any "resolution" to make for '13, it would have to be to slug it through without spending a whole lotta money of "frivolities" like music, rare books and little ginchy-goochy early-sixties items that catch my eye at the antique shows I may attend, if only to save up a whole lotta moolah so that in a good twenty years I'll have enough money to buy half of the items that I would like to possess now at twice the price!
Otherwise, can't say that the New Year has treated my any worse'n any of the other ones, 'cept for early '75 when I got sicker'n a homo at a chastity belt factory after returning to that germ incubator they call a school. Been helping to damper the boredom by reading my hardback collection of HERBIE comics that date from the early-to-mid-sixties and really must say that I still marvel (no pun intended) at the way writer Shane O'Shea and artist Ogden Whitney were aptly able to take the flipped out aura of Stan Lee and the DC house style and combine 'em into a series that merged cornball and camp with solid satire and even some hidden social commentary! Remembered only by the staunchest of Silver Age collectors who I now imagine are all now sixty-plus retirees holed up in their attics re-reading these stupendous sagas, titles like HERBIE only go to show ya just how innovative and suburban slob-minded these comic books could be long before amoral androids and half-nekkid gals with cleavage deeper'n Mammoth Cave began overtaking the comic pages sometime in the eighties! And you gotta admit that Herbie makes for a better kiddoid role model than Roy Rogers and Larry Flynt combined, especially in these post-decency days when you really do need a scorecard to tell the good guys from the badskis!
Yeah, I know...enough with the adolescent yammerjammers and on with da MOOZIK! Anyhoo, here are just some of the tidbits I've rescued from the collection thisdawn of yet another year, one which I can tell you off the bat is gonna be more austere in the purchasing department since I STILL need to save more of that filthy lucre for future endeavors (like the medical bills I will undoubtedly have to pay once I enter into the aluminum walker and old-fogey smell generation). So, other'n the few times I will dish out $$$ for an order to Forced Exposure or make one of those exorbitant bids on some early-seventies outta-the-loop wonder on ebay that some schmuck'll tag with an "early Velvet Underground" description its gonna be the oldies and moldies that are cluttering up my collection and playlists. Hey, I got plenty of 'em, some even dating back to the days when in no way would I ever think that I'd be writing about these records on a technology that was wallowing around in its infancy for people who, even these many years later, could hardly give a shit.

Julius Hemphill-DOGON A.D., RAW MATERIALS AND RESIDUALS, FLAT-OUT JUMP SUITE CD-R burns (courtesy of Bob Forward)

There's one thing that I must admit to you all, and that is I wuv my readers, and my readers wuv me! I mean, it was but a week or two ago that I asked if somebody out there in pixelland could download a copy of the Julius Hemphill album DOGON A.D. for me, and whaddaya know but longtime reader Bob Forward has gone off and done just that! I mean, he didn't even charge me a farthing or ha'penny for the deed neither, and if anything all I can say is that I'm a happy camper because of the man's goodness graciousness! Not only that, but Bob also sent me recordings of two other Hemphill albums which I didn't even ask for which only proves that he's one man who gives more'n what one expects and does a 200% job at it, certainly not like I would! What a generous man and Bob, while you're feeling up to it howz'bout sending me a disque of that Tin Huey WKSU-FM radio special (the one with the fifteen-minute "Tin Huey Story") as well as that live at the Townhouse 1973 gig and maybe some additional Akron rarities (still wanting to hear that Nightlife spinoff which various Hueys and Numbers Band members had in the late-seventies where they played jazz Sunday nights at some roadhouse where people were gettin' killed all the time).

DOGON's every bit as good as I thought it would be, even as good as that clip that ended up on the old Richard Meltzer HEPCATS FROM HELL radio show where they hadda pull the album off because of a turntable malfunction. Heavy duty r&b-fuelled BAG musings led by Hemphill's post-post-Coltraneisms aided and abetted by Abdul Wadud's cello, an instrument which can sound like a string bass or viola when bowed or an extremely loose guitar(ron) when strummed. As an added bonus "The Hard Blues" which eventually ended up on the REFLECTIONS/COON BID'NESS album shows up here because was all recorded during the same session.

I did have reservations regarding some of these later-on Hemphill releases (due to the fear that the man's "extracurricular activities" might have overtaken his talented stylings the same way that "you-know-what" has turned many a promising performer into pallid pablum) but I was wrong! RAW MATERIALS AND RESIDUALS's also got Wadud on 'cello not forgetting the Art Ensemble of Chicago's Don Moye on "Sun percussion" and the trio cooks just as hotcha as they coulda in 1972 as they do in 1977 when this sesh was laid down. Nice and introspective almost in a chamber jazz fashion even if you know that nobody involved would ever stoop to the "respected" bowtie and tux jazz sensibilities that Leonard Feather had fought valiantly to keep until the bitter end. FLAT-OUT JUMP SUITE's a dago session from '80 again featuring Wadud on cello not to mention Olu Dara on trumpet and Warren Smith on percussion, and as you'd guess it does have that certain ambience that you could only get from the throngs of euro jazz recordings from the late-sixties onwards. Only shows that as far as production and promotion of under-the-kultur Amerigan free jazzers in Europe go, these Italians can cook, and without garlic too!

Nothing here that a simple dialing up of the computer can't cure, and I'm sure the savvier among you are already downloading all three of these for your own personal jazz festival to be presented in the privacy of your own smelly boudoir. Have fun 'n best of all you don't have the bribe the Maitre 'd for a good spot right next to the night-stand, y'know?
Lebedung-LIVE IN OPERA CD-R (Slippytown SLIPT08)

And you were wondering when the new generation of Czech underground rock groups were going to spring forth! Well, they had, and it had happened a good twenty or so years back only nobody out there seemed to be paying attention. Not that they could, what with this release being so limited that it probably sold out its 20-press run a good three/four years after label owner Eddie Flowers unleashed this obscurity during the dark ages of the mid-nineties, a time when only a patented underground slob like myself would have bothered to pick up a copy given how everything else seemed so tenth generation to bother with in the first place.

Lebedung were (are?) one Czech group that fortunately did not let various western influences sway their sound unlike way too many aggregates from the former Iron Curtain who undoubtedly patterned their entire acts on various English and Amerigan models. The group's instrumentation would lend one to believe that Lededung were heavily influenced by the Czech underground of the seventies; besides a vocalist the act consists of two bass guitarists, a drummer and an occasional flautist with one of the bassists doubling on vibraphone when the music deems so. In many ways they do resemble some of the more angular underground aggregates of the early eighties who would play around without the presence of a guitar, yet in others the influence of the original DG-307 and perhaps even Umela Hmota II can be heard making Lebedung a direct descendant of those earlier aggregates who really hadda pay for the right to rock (or make obscene noise as the authorities would say) with threat of jail sentences.

The music is driving and hard, and even if the group is singing in French (?) you can still feel the message if only through the vibrations. I hate to use the term post-punk, but for those of you who hold a great affinity for the early Rough Trade sound this will fit in just as well as Beefheart or those 1982-vintage Loisada acts that were all the rage a good three decades back Only better because Lebedung come off as if they mean it without any noticeable pretensions or airs of artzyness. And although I will admit that listening through this all the way through was an at-times grating experience perhaps due to the language barrier (but then again, maybe not) I got a whole lot more fun and energy outta LIVE IN OPERA than I did with a good portion of those eighties/nineties "indie" releases that were supposedly custom-made for my own ideals and values but just sounded like a buncha trust fund kiddies acting all Guevara-like with daddy's dough.
Various Artists-RED HOT MAMA, A COLLECTION OF SPICY, NOUGAT-FILLED SONG-POEM NUGGETS CD-R (compiled by Bill Shute from the Wonderful and Obscure Archives, November 2012)

Really, I never would have guessed that Bill was a collector of those back-of-the-mag song publishers who would set your poems to music but he obviously is, and although I wonder how he scarfed these platters up in the first place he did just that and man is he ever willin' to share 'em with me! Not as whacked-out as the various song poem collections that have come out over the years but still vital enough with more Rod Rodgers along with the likes of Cathy Mills, Bob Storm and of course who could forget Norm Burns and the Five Stars. Given the often lunkheaded poems they hadda work with you can't complain after hearing the results no matter how 1962 sorta-got-it the results may be. Wonder how these people woulda tackled Beaver Cleaver's "I Wish I Was a Bear" ("Something-something without care") if they got hold of it...the mind reels.
Kluster-ERUPTION CD (Marginal Talent, Germany)

Last Wed.'s krautrock book had me diggin' this hardly played item out, a live gig by none other than the German expressionist group Kluster before they dropped Conrad Schnitzler and became plain ol' Cluster with a "c". Frankly I didn't think it was anywhere as driving as those Kluster albums that came out on the Schwann label, but the Musique Concrete form is rather interesting and if they had injected some rock styling into the stew I'm sure the results would have been pure schnitzel. Listen to after you made your way through the rest of the catalog, and that includes the various Harmonia spinoffs and maybe even some of those outta-the-way solo/duo sets featuring Mobius and Rodelius branching off with other practitioners of the form, Eno included.
Klaus Schulze-IRRLICHT CD (Spalax France)

Another krautster pulled from the pile, and again one that hardly ever gets the spinaroo here at BLOG TO COMM central because it always seems to be kept under wraps. And although I've been known to go out on limbs and say things that most would consider loony bin (until a good ten/twenty years go by and I'm proven right even though the same naysayers still won't admit it!) I find it more than obvious that Schulze, although a "progressive rock" schmuck and a German one at that, really came up with some downright startling "experimental music" here. This really does fit in with some of the better moments of sixties/seventies avant gardia, and that includes recordings not only of the likes of Cage, Riley or even Glass but Nico's MARBLE INDEX as Lester Bangs pointed out a few years after he died. Opening track "Ebene" really does have such a seventies feral feeling to it that it made the perfect backdrop for staring out the window last night as the sky faded from royal purple to black...sure woulda made a better soundtrack to Anger's LUCIFER RISING than the Beausoliel version, while the rest sounds about as introspective electronic as any halfway decent import bin could have gotten back in the mid-seventies. Next stop...CYBORG!
Jim Edgar and the Roadrunners/Wes Reynolds-OKLAHOMA ROCKS VOL. 1 CD-R burn

No label available for this item that Bill Shute burned for me, and when I say burn I'm talkin' 'bout the linings of your ear canals that will transpire after giving these classic rarities a go at it! Both Edgar and Reynolds have that early-sixties push to 'em that seemed slightly out of place in the world of Bobby Rydell, and as history has proven it was all for the better! Edgar plays it like an early-sixties buff rocker in the Del Shannon mold...not as pro but still wild enough for my own warped tastes while Reynolds seems to run the gamut of late-fifties rockabilly to Johnny Rivers swing (and some of the later tracks do conjure up images of lambchop sideburns and neckerchiefs!) displaying a fine range of emote and thrust. And the most interesting thing about the Reynolds sides is that his version of the Dorsey classic "Rag Mop" is the first time I've heard that song in its entirety since discovering it via BEANY AND CECIL, and I was only three at the time! Now I can go to the great beyond with my heart just a little lighter!
OKAY OKAY OKAY, I've been dispensing with the weirdo dream re-caps for quite some time, probably because I usually don't have 'em at the same rate during the warm summer months that I do when it's nice 'n frigid. But now that winter's reared its ugly rear the vivid dreams have been comin' back faster'n skin blebs on my eyelids and well,  I do know that you probably don't want to know about the one where I was careening through the neighborhood on a motorized wheelchair (not "scooter") at fifty miles an hour but maybe THIS 'UN'LL perk your peepers up a bit!

I do have recurring dreams about going into record shops, just like the kind that I used to traipse into back when I was a pot-pudge teenbo, where I discover bountiful bins filled with albums ne'er before seen and naturally ne'er to be ever seen again items that will only be found within the boundaries of my fetid imagination. There were even times when I'd wake up feeling extremely frustrated after obtaining a particular piece of plastic that's so near and dear to my heart, only to enter into the vestibule of reality and discover that my acquisition was but an illusion making for one sad sack of a rock obsessive! Other times I'm only saddened a bit because all my dream did was remind me of a past where I sure wish that I could have bought the entire record store out (save for the disco, grown up, hippoid folkie and e-z listening schmooze), and now that I can there are no record shops left around here to do so!

Well, the dream I had just this past evening (right after the wheelchair debacle) was but the latest in a series of many a record shop-based snooze fantasy that I've encountered, and although I didn't wake up in the throes of angst I sure thought it was a humdinger of one to share with you obviously dream-less readers. Anyway, in this dream I happened to be in one of those small, mom and pop-type record shops (the kind that you used to see operating out of old storefronts, aging shopping plazas or ancient buildings that used to serve as mini-marts or general stores) looking around when I notice somebody stacking in the "new release" display (which looked like an old comic book rack only larger!) this weird album by the MC5 entitled (now get this!) BLACK TO COMM!!!!! The cover was in a typical 1969 Atco design style, totally black except for the title "MC5-BLACK TO COMM" emblazoned across the top and a photo of the group in the middle that, judging from the fact that Wayne Kramer still had short hair in it, must have been taking early in 1967. I do recall Rob Tyner's 'fro being rather expansive tho, so maybe my brain circuits were crossing thus placing the 1969 Tyner in with the 1967 Kramer adding to more illogical dream concoctions! The entire group was dressed in black complete with turtleneck sweaters, and maybe one or two was adorned with a pendant featuring some strange design that was so in vogue back in them days.

Looking at the back cover (song titles listed at the top edge) I immediately realize that BLACK TO COMM was an album that some small label in the Pickwick/Springboard vein quickly rushed out in the wake of the MC5 mania that was sweeping the nation back in early 1969. I recall the title track leading off side one for sure, and although I couldn't relate to you what exactly those other cuts on the platter were the "vibrations" I was picking up from my dream seemed to indicate that the numbers here were also pre-album single tracks mixed with some outtakes that must have been lying about in the vaults. In other words, something akin to the various MC5 repackages and exhumations that have come out since the debut of BABES IN ARMS back '83 way. Nevertheless I am more or less enthralled at seeing this particular item being sold, although after looking at the one I picked off the rack and seeing that the shrinkwrap had been slit  down the edge I grab another copy which was better sealed. After that I slowly but surely get released from the arms of Morpheus and, unlike the time I found that second Hampton Grease Band album not to mention recordings by Richard Robinson's Man Ray I didn't feel empty or cheated. After all, I already  have most of this stuff in my collection, and although it sure was a swell enough album that would have adorned my collection perfectly it is like hey, why cry over it anyway???
I'd like to tell you that I have a special surpise in store for next weekend, but I don't. Until then, see you mid-week with a book report that would have put a smile on your fourth grade teacher's face, before she sent you to the principal's office, that is.


Anonymous said...

Hi Chris,

Forgive me for changing the subject, but I just found a short clip of a 1998 rehearsal for an aborted Crushed Butler reunion. They’re firing on all cylinders and then some despite the 30-odd year hiatus. If only etc. etc.



django said...

Chris, There are about 11 or 12 volumes of that Oklahoma Rocks series on no-label cdr's. I could only afford the one volume (which I wanted because I had two Jim Edgar & Roadrunners 45's at one time and actually saw them live in the late 70s or early 80s, I think), but I hope to score some others. Some volumes feature mid-60's garage bands from Tulsa and OKC...I'll keep you posted. Good to see my former home state getting some recognition.