The passing of Mick Farren this past Saturday night (well, it was Saturday night over in London where it took place) did come as quite a surprise, the surprise being that he didn't keel over a whole lot earlier than he did given all of the drugs he's ingested over the years! Sheesh, given the amphetamine sulfate and methedrine lining his aortic valves you'd think his system would have popped a whole lot sooner'n it did. But here the guy goes and dies right in the middle of the umpteenth revival of the Deviants (anybody got a tape?), and you kinda wonder if maybe he didn't go out that way ON PURPOSE, like it was the only way for him to expire right in front of a live and paying audience 'stead of in some gutter or in a bed a good thirty or forty years after the prime 'o life like way too many of us are probably going to exit probably more sooner'n later.
But what can any of us say about Farren that hasn't already been said a million times either in his autobiography (which I never got around to eyeballing...budget-conscious y'know) or the boffo KEEP IT TOGETHER book that came out a good five or so years back. Always on the fringe of English underground kultur, Farren was the epitome of the angry rock 'n roll radical back in the late-sixties when he was acting as INTERNATIONAL TIMES' chief rabblerouser and Deviants frontman before heading into a comfortable life of rock scribing for the NME (and, along with Nick Kent and Charles Shaar Murray, helping boost the paper's popularity through the sunroof) in the seventies. In between Farren had also become of novelist of some repute and columnist for TROUSER PRESS as well as TAKE IT! as well as a guy who was known for losing friends and making up with 'em---sometimes, that is so I don't know if he ever did have the opportunity to patch things with Lemmy, Larry Wallis or whoever else it was out there who locked horns with Farren but eh, now it's too late.
Don't wanna get too personal even if my own sainted crudzine sported two different Farren interviews within the span of five issues and that I had featured reviews and articles regarding Farren and band ever since the rag was founded back in the dark days of mid-eighties ineptitude. 'n yeah, at the expense of looking like a total fanboy douche I gotta admit that I was in on the Farren bandwagon at least since the late-seventies when SCREWED UP and the third Devies album had hit the import bins, and although nobody in their right mind could call an outright Farren maniac (other'n me still believing that PTOOFF! was the obvious English answer to THE VELVET UNDERGROUND AND NICO as far as rock-pop art statements go) I still spin those old records quite a lot more'n I do my old Zappa or even Fugs ones and that really must say something as far as longevity goes!
But hey, you know what to do, and that is to remember the guy by treating him the same way you did back when he and his music (and writings and whatnot) were first and foremost in your mind. Remember how you trembled when you first heard the Deviants and got hold of those extremely desirable late-sixties albums which were all but impossible to find back even a good ten years later? Me too, and maybe it's time you broke those out along with his late-seventies tribute to NME tastes and values VAMPIRES STOLE MY LUNCH MONEY while reading a stack of his writings. THE TALE OF WILLY'S RATS continues to slip through my fingers (though I am reading it via Funtopia...more on that in a future post), but his various rock screedings available (for a hefty sum) via ROCK'S BACK PAGES might be worth the effort even if they are ripoff artists. And don't cry too hard...I'm sure Farren woulda thought you a jerk even if you showed the slightest hint 'o emotion over his own demise and why sully his memory with even a mere sniffle?
Yeah I know...we ALL have been trying to forget Crosby's name for years on end, and believe you moi I have no time for hippie folkie icons who act as sperm doners for their dykoid musical spawn. But the legend regarding this David Crosby solo debut has a certain sorta mystico charm that would at least affect the portion of punkos (1972 division) who tended to mix their Groovies with their Neil Young...and it has happened before.
You all KNOW how much I try to listen to a fresh piece of music and analyse it objectively without inserting any of my own personal tastes and prejudices into the resultant spew, and I tried my darndest to do just that with this particular platter. But hey, even with the deadened nerve Southern California feeling that actually gave this 'un a certain drug-addled paranoia that comes off disturbingly appealing (that Joni really knows how to damper a recording...instant ether!) I find it hard to sing Crosby's praises given how most of this does remind me of a buncha hippies sitting on some Marin County porch playing the same chords over and over until they all pass out, the resultant splatter cut and fitted into album specifics just made for 1971 ROLLING STONE demographics. And if you were solidly rock-conscious back then (and I wasn't---comics were the modus opporandi for this suburban turdburger!) I'm sure you recall the frustration that gunk like this was the standard plunk for the day and the Stooges weren't!
Gotta take it back kinda/sorta...I did like track #2 "Cowboy Movie," an eight-minute electro-acoustic riff mess that sounded like a Crazy Horse rehearsal sung by a stoned twelve-year-old boy who thought there was something fishy about that pixie straw he just slurped up. Although Crosby would never admit it, this song just reeked of adolescent duncitude and frankly that was something we sure coulda used a whole lot more of in 1971 'stead of those West Coast whackoffs who really helped give rock 'n roll a bad name. However one number does not a pot-addled, mind-numbing album and this is merely more heavily dated inna wrong way disposable much. As for you stick with OAR boy, stick with OAR.
Ol' Elliot is still at it, and although the guy's major label career and mythical battle with Bruce Springsteen for the miter that Bob Dylan was still clutching at the time seems sooooo long ago at least he never did vamoose en toto from the music scene. True the guy really has been outta the bigtime ever since Columbia dropped him after the top notch JUST A STORY FROM AMERICA platter, but the assortment of spinners Murphy released for a variety of small European labels had (at least most of the time) stood up to those Polydor and RCA recs that uncovered the dark side of suburban slob living like few ever did or could. And his latest is no exception and man is it great, so great that one listen to it reminds me of a seventies I sure wish I could live through but things were so tight around here so like, how could I know?
Murphy sounds older and rougher but still energetic enough to beat his way outta any boss cutout rack still extant. His vocalese does fits the music which sometimes sounds surprisingly mid-seventies production commercial and at others downright Amerigan underground. Still kinda 1969 Velvet Underground with scads of Dylan and even the pre-pretentious three-piece Talking Heads tossed in even though no rock critic left will go near him. I'm sure if this 'un came out '76 'stead of NIGHT LIGHTS the same crits who loathed that 'un woulda peed all over it too, but listening to this does dredge up memories of all the promise those days held that never did come to fruition because like, there was too much disco and prog FM burying it all, y'know ('n yeah, like I am still angry about it...I mean, it was my teendom!).
If you were one of the few who gobbled up all of the rockcrit hosannas over Murphy's debut before his fall from critical grace and never thought there would be a return to that bold attempt at deep, emotional (w/o the self-consciousness) driving rock 'n roll well, you're wrong again bub! In these internet savvy times IT TAKES A WORRIED MAN should be easy enough to latch onto so you know what to do if you know what's good for you as if I hadda tell you. Awww, you know you need it, or would you rather self-indulge in yet more current-day phony-underground (and instantly forgettable) hype like you've been doing your entire musical life???
***Elmo Hope-THE FINAL SESSIONS 2-CDR burn (originally on Evidence)
Sometimes I do need a switch from the usual beyond-free new jazz that's been making up a hefty portion of my listening pleasure o'er these past three decades, and it's stuff like that this helps me calm down after a Roscoe Mitchell solo endeavor gets my nerves a little too frazzled! Nothing avant here even if Sun Ra drummer Clifford Jarvis is on hand, but don't let that stop you from hearing Hope's rather Monk-ish takes on a variety of jazzbo standards like "Night in Tunisia" along with some originals that might have stood the test of time had the entire jazz scene not plopped into the "lite" category. And, as usual, these Hope swan songs (pneumonia having claimed him a year after these '66 sides were laid down) kinda make ya wonder what might have happened had the guy lingered on even a few extra years. Have all the fun in the world speculating what mighta been even tho what actually mighta woulda probably'd be way diff'n whatever you conjured up in your feeble-like mind.
***Various Artists-PETTING THE BABY, A SOOTHING COLLECTION OF THRIFT-STORE 45 LULLABIES TAKEN FROM MP3 BLOGS CD-R (compiled by Bill Shute)
This starts off with a strange Willie Dixon number from which the title of this disque was taken, an atypical sorta side where Willie does both the man and women's voice in the throes of koochie koo while a sappy instrumental back the entire gush. Many other goodies appear as well from some offbeat soul numbers dealing with everything from the topless bathing suit craze of 1964 to Charlie Allen's "Molasses" which is exactly what you think it's about (and no, not "molasses" as a kinky lubricant!). Some interesting surprises pop up too like the City Dwellers' garage band revenger "Your Turn To Cry," Link Wray's vocal crank out "Hidden Charms," the MC5's single version of "Kick Out The Jams" and Soupy Sales cashing in on the disco craze with "Break Your Back"! Soupy, I'm surprised at you for stooping so low as to go disco...I mean who do you think you are, Bill Cosby? Somebody sic White Fang on this guy like pronto!
Finally for today's this gusher courtesy of the late Lee Hazelwood and his LHI label featuring loads of tracks done either on his lonesome or with the likes of Ann Margaret sharing the warbling duties. 'n they all come off real goopy as if syrup was being poured all over your stereo system. Late-sixties country-pop slosh that brings back memories of where my next Matchbox car was comin' from more'n anything. Docked a hefty ten points for having one of those Jesus was a hippie songs snuck in even if you don't find out it was about Him until the last verse!