Wednesday, November 27, 2013

BOOK REVIEW! LORD OF GARBAGE by Kim Fowley (Kicks Books, 2012)

Some love him, most hate him, but the fact remains that very few probably have heard of him let alone heard him. To most casual "classic rock" brain-numbed "lovers" of "rock 'n roll" who have, Kim Fowley's just some guy behind the scenes whose name appears on albums by the likes of Emerson Lake and Palmer not to mention the irrepressible Helen Reddy, and what AM radio luvver out there could forget about his behind-the-scenes work with the Beez back '82 way. Oh yeah, and he was involved in that Runaways thingie too. Nada more needs to be said, but us high-falutin' BLOG TO COMM readers know better now, do we?

I can't tell ya just how brain-slapping this tome for the times really is. I mean if you really must know, this is definitely the best rock 'n roll book I've read since Nick Kent came out with his own history of seventies rock/autobiography and that was a real doozy in itself! Fowley the spinner of tales, artist, hustler and (never knew it until now) poet really shines bright here, dishing out his own HOLLYWOOD BABYLON first-hand encounters of the slimier (and therefore more interesting) underbelly of the El Lay music and moom pitcher scene. The turgid sagas he relays to us in his stream-of-unconsciousness rambling style (which wouldn't work if someone other'n Fowley was up on the chopping block) really blows the cover off the slick veneer that's been presented to us suburban slobs for eons awlready as the kinda glamour and glitz we were all born to partake in as if we were just as much a star as...Douglas Fowley???

Speaking of Douglas, Kim's very own father and an actor who seemed like an affable, everyday kinda guy if his roles on THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW and a rather guffaw-inducing scene in the Joe McDoakes comedy SO YOU WANT TO BE A GAMBLER (not forgetting one of the funniest ABBOT & COSTELLO episodes) would lead you to believe,  comes off like a typical grade-z Hollywood turdball here. I'm not talking about the part where young Kim is told to be a lookout for the fuzz while Doug and his pals imbibe in the evils o' maryjane and heroin, nor the part where he walks into his room and discovers Doug's fellow actor John Garfield using cocaine for a purpose that is clearly not medicinal, but in reality pop was quite a different fellow'n the good guy who used to pop up in various EAST SIDE KIDS films as the older brother doomed to the electric chair. Somehow I just can't fathom that dignified looking mustachioed actor sticking needles in his arm but hey, as Kenneth Anger has proven Hollywood really was known to bring out the beast (and maybe The Beast) in quite a few people.

But a whole lot is here, from Kim's early days being shuttled off to relatives by a rather self-centered mother to his start in the music biz and various sidesteps and mishaps thereof. Some of it's pretty hilarious such as the part where Jan and Dean are on the prowl looking to beat someone up starting with Roger Williams (!), others can be downright scary, but a lot come off smirky humorous. Whatever, the whole saga is educational, informative, guffaw-inducing, entertaining and a breeze to read through on one of them lonely nights when you have nothing better to do than settle back in your easy chair and osmose ancient ideas of rockist tendencies in an age which couldn't care one whit anymore.

And naturally, there are questions brought up that remain unanswered...for example there's the story about the relationship between Fowley and Seeds lead singer Sky Saxon which, if you can take Fowley's word at it, was always cordial even if it only amounted to a "howdy" here and a "good day" there. If so, then why was the very last Fowley/Saxon meeting played out in Las Vegas when  Saxon snuck up behind a dancing Fowley and sucker punched him with a pair of brass knuckles? Seems that there was a whole lot simmerin' between the two for years that led to this "knockout game" and of course, my inquiring mind wants to know more'n the tad info Fowley sprinkles about. (Likewise, the sagas regarding Fowley's associations with Frank Zappa and his "membership" in the Mothers of Invention are more or less glossed over---I mean, for years I, like you I'm sure, have been wanting to know what the heck a "hype-o-phone" is and how the thing is played for that matter!) Maybe the answers to these and other questions will pop up in part two (which, along with part three, has already been written but the folks at Kicks books don't wanna overload or craniums and besides they'll make more money offa us, which they most certainly deserve to do).

One of the best rock reads so far this the guy trying to push the slow-moving records always sez, "highly recommended".

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Chris I think the hypo-phone refers to Fowley's mouth..At least I read that somewhere's...P.s. I'm surprised you haven't done a review of that incredible Stooges "Iguana de Banda" lp (People are surmising it was actually put out by Iggy and Williamson).....-Wheez Von Klaw