Betcha glad you're not gonna get one of my old rock 'n roll publication writeups this week now, aren't you? And if you think you're gonna be in for a change of pace well, you've guessed right, for instead of starting off this week's rock wrapup with my impressions on some old issue of THE NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS or CREEM I'm gonna do something different, like mainly give you my impressions regarding a couple of old issues of Harvey Kurtzman's infamous HELP! magazine that I thankfully grabbed hold of a few weeks back! And hey, I know that this one'll be a refreshing switcheroo from my usual rants regarding Lester Bangs' ruminations as to what punk rock was on an early-seventies plateau now, right???
Gotta say that I was stuck on HELP! ever since I got hold of a copy back when I was fifteen, and given that my mid-teen years were a time that pretty much began my development into the specimen that I most truly am nowadays it's not surprising that this magazine made such a big indent on my MAD-mutated mind. The early/mid-sixties cool of it helped, not to mention Kurtzman's penchant for printing stuff that just might not have been comfy cozy in either MAD, TRUMP or HUMBUG...y'know, material which seemed almost as durty and chance-taking as that NATIONAL LAMPOON stuff I was taking a sneek peek at when perusing the magazine department of my local record shop even if it had an air of Kennedy sophisticado. It would figure that HELP! was once called a missing link between MAD and the 'POON, for it had a lotta the snazz of the former with the cutting and keen seventies snarl of the latter. And as far as hotcha satire with a pre-relevance sixties bent went, better this than some of the high-minded glop MAD would eventually be pushing at us which just reeked New York limousine liberal gush 'stead of sarcastic guffaw-inducing material that could put a smile on George Lincoln Rockwell's face as much as it could Nelson Rockefeller's.
Jerry Lewis appears on the cover of the third 'un. Don Fellman believes that the reason all of those early issues of HELP! had famous comedians posing for 'em not only on the covers but in the "fumetti" stories to be found therein was because none other than Miss MS. herself Gloria Steinem was working for 'em at the time, and since this was before her descent into Cousin Itt hairstyles and a rabid anti-man attitude she was willing to "lower herself" for the sake of the magazine by "coaxing" the various male stars to be photographed for the mag in her own feminine way! I dunno if this is actually true or not (though the fact that Steinem always moans about her abortion being one of the things that nudged her into feminist hagitude, I just wonder which one of these famous celebs impregnated her!), but given how all of the issues she was involved with had the likes of Tom Poston, Jonathan Winters, Mort Sahl and Jackie Gleason onna covers I just can't keep from conjurin' all kindsa strange juxtapositions in my head
Since ol' Jer's the one appearing on thus 'un we all know that he wouldn't do anything as foul or as indecent as engage in adultery to further the popularity of one of the best rising "new comic books" (as Les Daniels put it) on the stands now, would he? Well, at least he did pose foe this funny 'n timely Sputnik-oriented cover which helps make this ish a definite keeper, though if I were you Jerry I'd just stick with DC..
Unfortunately these early HELP!s weren't as boffo-y comic book-y as the later ones, what with all of the short story text that wasn't exactly aimed at the teenagers who wanted to look "cool" reading this and way too many comic reprints from old European magazines that just took on airs of snootiness. At least we got a half-page of Bill Elder, not to mention Jack Davis doing his "Civil War Vignettes" that were oddly enough way too similar to his syndicated War Between the States strip that came and went without a trace.
The fumetti mostly hit their target especially when Kurtzman was given a slew of classic old moom pitcher stills to work with (I wonder what the origin of the one on page 18 just happens to be), though this issue's original saga "On The Coney" just doesn't hit it like I hoped it would. These posed stories were always touch and go for me, and although some like "Baby It's Occult Outside" with Tom Poston and Sylvia Miles were what we would have hoped the entire lot of 'em to have been like many just flopped all over the place without any of the humor or snicker that I go for in these "photo funnies". Maybe if Kurtzman himself wrote 'em they woulda been high-larious, but otherwise all I can say about 'em is that in order to enjoy the things you probably just hadda've been some New Yawk high rise dweller who drank martinis after work just like Uncle Bill did on FAMILY AFFAIR, at least before Buffy and Jody shamed him into not doing so, the hypocrites!
It looks as if Kurtzman got all of the bugs worked out by ish nine, since this 'un shows a marked improvement not only with less text and more comics, but with two pages of KRAZY KAT reprints that are always welcome around here! The posed fumetti entitled "A Star is Born" featuring up 'n comer Jane Mason as the girl from Sioux City hoping to make it as a serious Broadway star pitted against legendary comedy talent Jack Carter as the casting couch-oriented producer was a fun one as well even if from all reports Carter was a pretty difficult figure to deal with. Jack Davis also pops in with his personal first-hand impressions of the then-hotcha Floyd Patterson/Ingemar Johanssen fight, while future MAD staffer Paul Coker proves that even back before his plunge into mega-stardom he really wasn't as hot of a talent as I thought he was...kinda pallid in fact.
A lot of this ish is boring filler true..."Smoke" is just some dull excerpt from an off-Broadway production while the Phil Interlandi-captioned etchings are about as funny as the tasteless yet rather unfunny bidet piece that unfortunately also appeared. But you can just see the roots of future funtime endeavors just popping up in this 'un, and all I gotta say is that given that I might have a good ten...fifteen if I hold off the lynch mob years left in me its gonna be fun snatching up the issues of HELP! that I don't have in order to spur me on in my existence. Hey, humor as it is presented in today's cyborg, socially constraining world just ain't funny no more. I mean when I hear the comedians of the present rattle off their routines I feel like I am being lectured for being such a renegade knuckle-dragger or somethin', that I ain't worthy of living because I just don't fit in with the New Order that's being shoved up everybody's orifices whether they have tight enough sphincters or not. At least when I read an old Kurtzman publication or the 'POON for that matter I can feel my old evil, discerning, discriminating self and I certainly am the better for it now, ain't I???
***Well, here it is, the last full-fledged review-packed post of the year. Gotta say that I tried to go out with a big bang on this one, and although I have obviously failed in my quest at least I've presented some writeups that I will deem...satisfactory. Once again thanks to everybody who sent in burnt offerings for me to peruse...got so many of 'em right now that I'm probably all set for review fodder until spring, and although most of the stuff I have received isn't anything I'd particularly part with my money for in these ultra-discerning times at least I have something new and fresh that I can focus my critical mind on. After all, you don't want to read yet another review of the debut Seeds album from me now, do you? Well, maybe you do, but sometimes I do think that I am made of better stuff and once you really get down to the nitty gritty I am doing this blog for myself and myself only!!!
Gotta admit that I was curious about this one since I thought Baby Bones was the group mentioned in an article on the infamous JD King/Thurston Moore aggregation known as the Coachmen in which mentioned the time the 'men were billed at CBGB with a some guys who were not only dressed up Village People style and began their act by smashing transistor radios, but played what was called an extremely bad form of seventies heavy metal! Since I was in the mood for some bad seventies heavy metal whether or not it was performed by guys dressed Village People style I thought this woulda been yet another lost New York slice of metallic genius in the vein of FUTURE LANGUAGE or the long-forgotten band Cherry Hill High whose CBGB cybercast I would dearly love to experience once more. (And if anyone can retrieve it from the lost reaches of the internet well, there is a reward for you at least spiritually.)
Turns out that I was in for a surprise, since Paul Vanase and Baby Bones ain't metal in the least but rollicking piano-laden homo rock, the kind that used to get loads of attention from the seventies well into the oughts when people like Dean Johnson and his Velvet Mafia would play these special "homocorps" nights at CBGB kinda flittin' about as if 1981 and AIDS never did happen. Well, I gotta say that although Vanase and Co. were clearly of a three-dollar-bill status it wasn't like their songs were about buggering little boys or recycling your boypal's breakfast (if you know what I mean), though with a title like "Sissy" I kinda get the idea that their act wasn't exactly aimed at the same kinda clientele that used to read TRUE magazine.
Actually a huge hunkerin' part of this album is good for what it is, mainly rollicking barrel house drenched piano tunes that at times remind me of some of Paul Revere's earlier work, with a quasi-fey tenor doing a kinda/sorta cabaret-ish if humorous vocal above it all. A bit showbizzy true, but still something that woulda gotten a few huzzahs on the New York underground scene from the early-seventies on. Can't really dismiss it in the least even with the uneven compositions and downright campiness, and definitely worth a reissue for the newer generation of glam/glitter/homo rock enthusiasts who missed out on alla this decadence the first time around..
***Yoko Ono-RARITIES CD-r burn (courtesy of P_D_Fadensonnen)
One of the beter packages I got this year was from Mr. Fadensonnen himself, who sent me a bevy of Cee-Dee-Are burns that I know I will have as much fun writing about as I will listening to them to be corny about it. Not only that, but each of 'em had nice hand-made covers mostly with the artists in question pictured on the front, back, and at times even inside! That's more than most of you people who burn these disques do for me, and frankly I believe you should all be ASHAMED of your pithy paper sleeves and gritty reduced xerox covers considering just how important a living, breathing specimen I am who most certainly deserves better! Well now, aren't you????
The first one of the batch I picked outta the batch was this one, a collection of rarities by Mrs. Lennon herself Yoko Ono. As you all know Ono is a fave of mine even if her career is extremely roller-coasty, but thankfully this slab collects her better early moments so's we don't have to put up with her doing the Carole King singer/songwriter schtick in a vain attempt to get people to like her. More of the Beatles Twinkenham Jams with her in and Harrison out appear along with this sing/songy ditty that's supposed to be "Martha My Dear" tinkling along as Ono moans "John" repeatedly, while John and Yoko sing a bit from the bed in (funny thing...only now did I get the word play regarding "hair peace" and "hairpiece"!). Yoko closes things out doing a rather un-together version of "Midsummer New York" with Elephant's Memory on DICK CAVETT plus a hot "Mind Train" live in Japan '74!
A better collection'n what I woulda expected given what is available, though if he really wanted to get in on my good side Fadensonnen shoulda stuck the soundtrack from that 1964 avant garde slice of animated eyesores AOS here. Now that woulda been a guaranteed room-clearer at the next family get-together I just don't want to get-together WITH!
***Milford Graves-LIVE 1973 + SOUNDTRACK CD-r burn (courtesy of P_D Fadensonnen)
The second Fadensonnen spinner I got to listen to, this begins with a live broadcast of the Milford Graves Quartet in Sweden where the famed drummist is joined by Joe Rigby and Hugh Glover on saxophones and Art Williams on trumpet. Mighty fine rumble here not as good as the snatch I've heard of BABI MUSIC (one just beggin' for the reissue status!) but still free-splat seventies loft/avant/atonal in that beautiful way we'll probably never recapture. Following's the soundtrack from a French tee-vee show, a documentary about the time Graves was invited to some Japanese festival where he played drums while this crazy looking guy with Tiny Tim hair wearing pajamas danced around and made strange utterances! You'll get the entire impact of it if you'll only take a look at the thing which you can do yourself if you only click the proper buttons below!
Both "tracks" have that seventies splurge in jazz that I like (even though the second one's definitely eighties fare) and really, I can't think of a better way to spend an afternoon than to listen to Graves' multi-layered percussion playing and flayed gongs in just about any context. One of the few survivors you better not be ignoring now so like...don't ignore him!
***King Crab-LEATHER CD-r (thanks be to P_D Fadensonnen)
The third Fadensonnen platter to makes its way to my laser launching pad, I just hadda give this one a spin because hey, this was the guy's old group and if I didn't review it first thing he'd probably think that I was ignoring him or something. Well good thing that I was being courteous because this '07 set's pretty snat in itself. Hard clang that reminds me of a whole slew of past noisemengers from Chrome to (get this!) German Oak, with perhaps a bit of early DAF thrown in even though I don't think this one has that much to do with any "Neu Deutche Welle" extant. Surprise hit of the litter is"Aphids" which sounds like robotic insects boring their way straight through your very soul!
***Last Exit-DEITSCHES JAZZFESTIVAL, FRANKFURT GERMANY 1986 CD-r burn (courtesy of P-D Fadensonnen)
To be honest about it this is just the soundtrack to that German television presentation that's been flying around on various trade lists for some time. However, that doesn't distract from the abject pow'r and might this legendary quartet putsched forth on this thirty-seven minute excursion into everything one with a brain woulda hoped fusion woulda been back inna seventies. Hardcore rock/jazz jollies courtesy the late Ronald Shannon Jackson and Sonny Sharrock as well as Bill Lasswell and the always welcome in my cranium Peter Brotzmann. So much has already been said so like, why bog things down even though I could with the least bit of effort?
That remarkable new group of the year, Cellular Chaos, is joined by none other'n the heavy metalloid master himself Von Lmo! Recorded live at the Bowery Electric on February 11th of this year in front of an audience of a mere fifteen people! Perhaps the best meeting of minds since John Lee Hooker hitched up with Canned Heat, the leader of the seventies no wave strut is in fine form while Cellular Chaos lays down a heavy atonal backdrop for Lmo's guitarscapading. In the tradition of Red Transistor and Teenage Jesus, this paen to sonic blare past lasts a good fifteen minutes, one might surmise because the instruments were probably destroyed by the end of it all.
***Various Artists-FRESH MALT-LIQUOR RAGA FARM CD-r burn (thanks to Bill Shute)
Whew, after listening to Dr. Macnitt's hypnotist routine I almost wasn't able to review this! But wake from my trance I did, and I'm sure glad about it too! This one's got a bunch of downright absurdities such as a sitar-laden country and western tune (which makes me wonder why that instrument wasn't used in more c&w numbers since it has a most appropriate twang!) to the strange Buddy Boy Hawkins' "Voice Throwin' Blues" (which is basically the old "Hesitation Blues" of Holy Modal Rounders and Peter Laughner fame) to the theme from BEACH GIRLS AND THE MONSTER. Best track for me weren't the Bonzo Dog or Rutles Beatles rips, but Braz Gonzalves' "Raga Rock" which proves that even over-the-hill jazzbos could create a driving psychedelic jazz rock excursion that outdid most of the carbon copy crankouts! A surprise that should have something for everybody, even if I'm gonna be one of the few to ever hear it!
If anything good did come out of the eighties it jsut hadda've been the even newer new wave of heavy metal---not that horrid giddy stuff that Andy Secher at HIT PARADER was pushing on the populace but the hard, gnarly and beyond tension blare that still rates a huge huzzah here at BLOG TO COMM central. I'm talking such definitely anti-Twisted Sister/Autograph/hair metal type of bands as Voi Vod and Metallica (at least before their more classically-minded muses got the best of 'em), Slayer, Possessed, Nasty Savage, movement-masterminds Motorhead as well as a whole bunch of groups like Wurm and Powertrip who sorta dangled between the HM and punk idioms in the best 1971 CREEM sorta way.
Desecrator were a New York variation on the movement, and this twenty-minute tape shows that the act did have a whole load of promise even if you get the feeling that most of the targeted metal audience woulda up-turned nose at this in favor of the latest prissy-preen bunch to make their way to shutterbug heaven.
Not quite speedmetal, in fact the pace is sometimes slowed down to that of a snail, but still sludge enough to qualify as intriguing and nerve-racking doom music. Could use a little more bop to the thing, but Desecrator still have enough of a dunce thud in their sound to satisfy those who believe that noise can make a better man of even the most sissified freaks out there.
And hey, you could say that this trio does lift more'n a few ideas from the big names in late-eighties metal trauma, but then again did you ever hate Dave Aguilar for singing like Jagger or the Seeds for swiping not only from the Stones, but themselves??? A nice slab from yet another one of a mill'yun aggregates of worth to crawl outta that toidy called "the eighties" but never did get outta their cocoons enough to really indulge in that raw power.
***Remember to tune in Tuesday AM for the not-so-big this time End O' Year bash (perhaps in the literal sense!). Until then remember to drive recklessly---the life you don't save may be Patrick Amory's!