Sunday, December 22, 2013

Feel fortunate that you aren't gonna be inundated with yet another one of my impressions regarding a by-now ancient NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS this week. No such luck on this blog, bub! Instead, I'm gonna ramble on about a recent acquisition of an ancient issue of CREEM that I have recently received, and if you can't dig my reality then you'll have the blues, as Nathan Beauregard almost said.

The fact that none other'n shaggoid early-seventies demi-country rocker Leon Russell's on the cover isn't anything that'll get your average BLOG TO COMM fan all hot and bothered true, but thankfully there's more to these issues than the front cover come ons that were designed to get the bobbysoxers to part with all of that money they mooched off dad under the pretext that it was going towards birth control. Even if future Iron Prostate singer (and fairly decent scribbler in his own right) J.R. Young wrote the thing I'm not planning to read about the tightrope guy because it'll just be a waste o' time, but I did expose myself to most of the rest of the mag and boy does it make me wanna wish I was living in 1972 again, screaming parents, teachers and peer torture included!

Lester Bangs scores with a piece on Deep Purple, a fairly neat rundown yet nothing that I would call overtly high energy or up there with those Count Five or Godz pieces which helped cement his image as the intellectual punk of the seventies. Vince Aletti takes time outta his soul worship to blabber on about Bette Midler (again, I didn't read this one for obvious reasons) while the despicable Dave Marsh reviews Diana Ross doing the Billie Holliday thing in LADY SINGS THE BLUES (a writeup I actually did read if only because Richard Pryor was in the film). Of course its the reviews that tingle my tootsies and perk my imagination, with Bangs letting loose about Yes' CLOSE TO THE EDGE, not only reagarding the music ("linseed marinated drek") but the pomposity that was oozing from each and every member's pores when they would tout themselves as the greatest band in the world. (In some ways this review is kinda strange, because he gave Yes' debut a huge huzzah in the pages of ROLLING STONE. But times [and groups] do change and come to think of it so does the focus and reasoning functions of romilar-addled rock scribes.) Better still is Ben Edmonds, an underrated fellow who gets THREE whole pages to blab on about the NUGGETS collection of by-then forgotten teenage garage band and psychedelic pop glory which, in the eyes of  the typically jaded 1972 rock 'n roll fan, must have seemed like an eon ago. Other releases of the day from Tim Buckley's GREETINGS FROM LA to Ed Sanders' BEER CANS ON THE MOON get the rockscribe treatment as well, and the midgie "Rock-A-Rama" reviews are also worth your time and effort especially if you, like me, wanted to know that Tyrannosaurus Rex's A BEGINNING coupling of LP's #1 and 2 contained "latter day rocking"! I'll tell ya, that mere statement sure makes me glad that I was astute enough to have picked it up age fifteen and spun it endlessly in my room on summer Sunday evenings the same way then-current compats dribbled wild over their Jethro Tull 8-Tracks!

Loads of audiophile musings (great if you used to like peeking at the stereos after browsing the records) and gossip take up precious page space as well, though for me the most revealing portion of this particular ish was the letter section. Hot Scott Fischer (I'm gonna hafta find his rebuttal to the nasty things Lester Bangs said about him that were going to be printed in the "next" issue of a certain fanzine and publish it on-line) writes in with a great Budgie = the Stooges note that needs to be read in full:
I just figured it out! Budgie is Black Sabbath imitating the Stooges. Same producer in Rodger Bain. And the vocalist is Carole King singing through a megaphone choking on Iggy Pop's oil rag jock strap. They're just what we needed - an English group that could do the Iggy Pop bop!
Scott Fischer, Florissant, Missouri
(Yeah, but just wait 'til the Original himself comes roaring back from Merrie Olde...-Ed.)
Just that bit of Stoogian fan excess made this issue for me, but there was even more...later on in the lettercol, while answering a note from a disgruntled heavy rock hater Bangs made the following comment of extreme interest..."Atomic Rooster are certainly punk-rock from their name to their freakouts"!!! Anybody out there willing to do a little testifying before I decide to dish out some cash (what I had heard from the Rooster ages back sounded like warmed over early-seventies boog noise but hey, maybe they are a classic late-sixties/early-seventies punk rock group in the Stooges/Budgie/Can/It's All Meat vein!!!).

Another winner, even if  it is light on that overt grunginess which used to permeate the Lester Bangs-period issues. Gonna have to look for more of these to resensify myself, especially since the stuff I'm getting for free via blogs and such just seems like too many people unsure of whether they want to be Erma Bombeck or Rex Reed. Oh, for the offensive, politically incorrect, rude, gnarly punk rock days of the seventies...why did it all have to turn into college paper hack mush?
Well here it is, after all of the above space-wasting blab, the latest edition of BLOG TO COMM! As you can see, I kept busy this week listening to and detailing my feelings, impressions and objective (hah!) opinions regarding a number of platters that managed to make their way to my door. Had a fun time of it too which seems to be a change in these ever-deadening times when it seems as if I'm just walking around dead only nobody seems to have told me. And while I'm at it, let me just clue you in that in my never ending battle to return to the glory days of seventies record collecting and music appreciation (and while I'm at it howz'bout my lost youth back?), I must say that I think I did a more'n just adequate job trying to transfer the classic Golden Age of Rock Writing feeling to today which I most certainly hope counteracts the rock critic hackery so prevalent even this far down the line. If for some strange reason you believe that I have failed I'm not gonna apologize---just go sweat it out reading some of the abysmal garble you can find on many a blog out there and when you get your fill of all of that "getting high on music" and "sounds like flamingos flying in the air" prattle don't come crying to ME!

The Velvet Underground-WHITE LIGHT/WHITE HEAT 45th ANNIVERSARY SUPER DELUXE EDITION 3-CD set encased in a hard-bound book you're gonna have trouble storing just about anywhere (Polydor)

Uh, like I wasn't exactly planning on picking this one up.

True, its kinda neat to see the Velvet Underground finally get the royal carpet treatment by the same company that didn't quite know what the heck they were peddling in the first place, and even if the same galoobs who woulda trampled over Velvets albums to get to Judy Collins are now soaking 'em up with gusto just ain't the same as when the Velvets were some clandestine pleasure consistently being name-dropped by the more astute critics around (not to mention the more astute kids) at a time when trying to score one of their albums was a rather difficult task outside of combing the import bins or eyeballing one of those "greatest hits" collections that seemed to go out of print faster than you can say Paffgen. At least in Europe they knew, but over here in Suburban Slob USA (where us teenbos needed 'em the most!) it was like the Velvets were being purposefully censored from they were just too evil and too free thinking to be allowed even near some young and impressionable waif who just might get THE WRONG IMPRESSION and go out and do naughty things like stay out after six in the evening (five on school nights) and take sneek peeks at pictures of nude statues in art books. To this day, I hold my by-now ancient $1.69 price sticker onna cover copy of ARCHETYPES (budget re-release of WHITE LIGHT/WHITE HEAT) with a real ranch house pride beaming in my beanie, and if you think that I would part with this treasure for a cool bazillion bucks well...maybe.

I certainly do need the cash especially these days, but now that I have this triple disc collection maybe I can afford to part with that old fave. But really, it was a close call as to whether or not to pick this even newer  than all of those other new reissues up...after all, I already have a great hunk of this stuff in many formats gathered throughout the years in my pad and with money being such a scarcity and all perhaps it shoulda gone to some more worthy endeavor, like Chinese take-outs or more old NME's to peruse.

Bur I then got to thinkin' that hey, although I must have listened to WHITE LIGHT/WHITE HEAT about twice in the past twenty years it still is one of my favorite important to me and all as well as a touchstone to many other hot and bothered rock excursions...that maybe I should dish out more moolah for it eve if Lou Reed obviously doesn't need it anymore.

First disque has the album as we all know and love it...the familiar stereo version that used to marvel cousin Clyde when he'd hear the music coming out of one speaker and John Cale's voice out the other. And hey, what else can anybody add to that beyond-classic slab of mutated sound that seemed to say more about the years 1978-1981 (at least to me) than Olivia Newton-John anyway? Nice hearing it again just as it is nice to hear those leftovers that got tossed into the various VU collections in the eighties all gathered in one place, not to mention a ne'er before released version of "Beginning to See the Light" that differs enough from the one that popped up on the third self-titled album. It's kinda clunky and sounds like it needed to be worked out a bit before being presented to the public, but why should I bicker over hearing yet another new Velvets recording to finally make it to our home entertainment systems!

Disque #2 is...well...the mono WHITE LIGHT/WHITE HEAT and frankly I never was one of those people who was such an audiophile that I paid attention to different mixes and other subtle nuances probably because my ears are all shot anyway. But if you're one of those guys who goes for this HIGH FIDELITY/STEREO REVIEW chicanery well then, here's yet another one for the compost heap. The filler on this 'un leaves much to be desired tho---I can give a big hoo-hah about "mono single mixes" and releasing the spoken word and instrumental tracks on "The Gift" separately ain't that big a deal especially when you can do the task yourself by switching speakers on the original stereo version. I was hoping there would be some other goodies to slip on here that have fallen by the wayside lo these many years, but those'll probably have to wait for the fiftieth anniversary SUPER DUPER edition.

The third and final entry is none other'n that live Gymnasium tape that has been flying across the bootleg blogosphere these past five years, If you have it already you're probably thinking of passing on the entire kaboodle, but surprisingly enough there is one interesting addition that might wanna make you change your mind. Y'see, besides the tracks that we've already heard there's also a live version of "The Gift" and it sure ain't the "Booker T" which also appears and which was touted for years as being the instrumental backing for that famed tale of cranial crunch. So once again its been proven that history has lied to us all along, and although we should be enraged over it don't blame whomever was spreading the falsities since hey, thirty years back we didn't know any of this stuff ourselves either!

The book has some nice pictures, some never before printed, as well as text (courtesy David Fricke, who I understand is the only person legally permitted to write about the Velvet Underground for mainstream magazines) that really doesn't tell us anything that we didn't know already. A nice diversion but hey, maybe it coulda used some beef why no "Sweet Sister Ray" which woulda filled up a huge portion of the final platter? I guess it was just cheaper for Polydor to have Fricke write about it rather than release it, or so it would seem in these vastly ripoff times!
Half Japanese-HALF GENTLEMEN/NOT BEASTS 3-CD-r burn set (originally on T.E.C. Tones)

Gotta admit that spinning this triple dipper on the afternoon and evening of the 15th of December 2013 really flashed me back a good 33 years, right to the Winter of '80 which was a time I was totally shoving my ever-pointy head straight up past the sphincter of underground crud into full blown punk rock colon-ization. Well, not just p-rock per se but anything that was hot 'n sharp on the under-the-counterculture scene from what was going about as "new wave" before even that got too ridiculous to defend, to the "Rough Trade" styled radical art rock groups not forgetting those old sixties garage bands who began the whole shebang and who, in the light of the very early-eighties, still seemed as young and as connected to what was going on in non-mainstream (feh!) music than anything else that might have stumbled onto the charts during those seemingly innocent yet rather devious times.

If I didn't tell you I wasn't tempted to buy this 'un back when it first hit the Systematic catalog way back when I'd be lying. But then again, it wasn't like I could afford to dish out $$$ for everything that passes my eyes like I sure wish I could, so items like this along with those Dome and Monochrome Set albums just got passed on. Nowadays I can buy out the candy store and give it to the poor just like Eddie Haskell, but for some reason those chocolate creams kinda make me sick to my stomach, ifyaknowaddamean...

But here we are at the dusk of underground rock as a death mirror to middle ameriga and hey, I finally get to hear this whopping triple LP set only now it's a triple Cee-Dee set and I actually got the thing free for FREE courtesy of Paul McGarry! Naturally me listening to this whilst in the throes of advanced age ain't gonna be the same had I heard it during the days of my spry v. early twenties, but even at this late stage inna game I can tell you that HALF GENTLEMEN/NOT BEASTS is everything I like about seventies/eighties underground cusp punkisms without the new wave pretension or no wave decadence or giddy fashion of whatever offshoot movements there may have been at the time.

Totally addled primitive rave up is one thing that made the underground rock of the day so appealing, and like many of the no wave acts as well as a few aggregates that were popping up in burghs all over the planet Half Japanese were ones to take their bedroom rock appreciation of the Velvet Underground/Stooges/NUGGETS/Beefheart/Yoko/Troggs/Godz... and translate it into their own anti-musical (and in some ways even anti-rock) approach. Thankfully they did it well without sounding like some of those horrid eighties college boy dorm room attempts at the same burrito. They also thankfully succeed (in a suburban slob teenage ranch house UHF TV sorta way) instead of sounding like a perfumed art project guaranteed to melt the hearts of stiff and rigid conceptualists nationwide. And believe-you-me, this group does sound as if they've spawned a whole slew of horrid imitations, and from the basis of these sides as well!

Since I'm feeling like an old-timey rockcrit tonight I'll close out with one of those name-dropping descriptive passages that used to be in vogue with even the smartest of us...Clevo non wave ca. 1979 meets Jon Richman ca. 1973 with a dose of VU ca. 1968, all rec'd by some of the strangest specimens to have survived experimental psychiatric treatment ca. 1929. Buy one for the lobotomy survivor in your family TODAY!
Various Artists-FAR-OUT RAIDERS SEARCHING FOR JONES CD-r burn (contributed by Bill Shute)

Another nice selection, this one including some definitely English psych obscurities ("Dr. Crippen's Waiting Room" and Angel Pavement's "Phantasmagoria"...I think!) as well as a few out of the usual scope items such as The Hip-Sound's "Far Out" (with electronics contributed by Pierre Henry, who does a better "crossover" job here'n on that album he did with Spooky Tooth!) and the Beach-Nik's "Last Night I Cried" (not as surf-y as I thought it would be, but a rather nice mid-sixties downer).  It's got latino dance grooves, soul and girl group moans on it as well. And to show what a renaissance man he is Bill even slipped a on dew-wop track called "Castle of Love" by one of the million acts going around back then called the Raiders. Do you know what dew-wop is? That's what you get when you keep Italians outside overnight!
Various Artists-ROBIN, THE PINBALL SOUL INVADER CD-r burn (courtesy Bill Shute)

Kinda starved for more blog fodder right now so here's another Shute sampler! This one starts off with what I presume is something lifted from an already available bootleg, in this case what remains of the infamous Burt Ward/Mothers of Invention sessions that yielded the "Boy Wonder I Love You" single. That's on here (twice!) along with some backing tracks and yet another full-flushed out number called "Teenagers Bill of Rights" that woulda sounded good stuck on one of those late-seventies Zappa bootlegs that never did make their way to my local under-the-counter record shop. Come to think of it some of the instrumental tracks here would have padded some of those now-ultra obscure albums out rather sweetly.

Also stuck on---a Lainie Kazan double dosage of "The Look of Love" and "How Can I Be Sure" that woulda been too rock 'n roll for the folks even if they were the target audience for this single, the Roy Mertwether Trio doing some spright enough club jazz (for jazz clubs where you have to wear bow ties and suits), the Coolies taking Simon and Garfunkel and injecting a whole lotta soul and reverb to 'em, and former Bonzo Roger Ruskin Spear doing his best to make his way into the Monty Python pantheon of whackoid British humor and flubbing it miserably. Well, at least we still had Vivian Stanshall to rely on.
Johnny Dowd-DO THE GARGON CD-r burn (originally on Mother Jinx)

This guy's sicksty-five years old and he plays guitar and sings with his own band! And what's even weirder about it is that he's only been doing this as a "serious" artist since the nineties! And strange enough the music he makes ain't anything like you'd expect your average senior citizen type to make (but then again me, with my mind still stuck in first grade comprehension, still thinks of the elderly in terms of World War I veterans who live in old box houses they bought in the twenties who grumble about all of those bobbysoxer kids doing the jitterbug!).

Dowd sounds kinda "underground" in that classic 1979 way, and he plays in a Texas hard boogie rock style that reminds me of a cross between Roky Erickson and that MX-80 offshoot group the Gizzards. Sorta like down-home zombie cookin' here, and it's all done up in that marvelous primitive way that used to get AOR types all tangled up inna guts at least until a few years later when they all claimed to like it all along like the nice little blootches they most certainly are. Dowd plays his guitar pretty good and almost to the point of heavy metal raw, but it ain't got any of the pretension and self-importance that most rock music had branded into it for the past thirtysome years .Really, this is as exciting a platter as anything you woulda found in a Bomp! catalog back 1980 way!

Guaranteed hit of the batch---"Girl in a Suitcase," a slow popster evoking the Buddy Holly-bred Texas rockers of the early-sixties mixed in with the instrumental tit squeezers of the same era.
Lol Coxhill-DIGSWELL DUETS CD-r burn (originally on Random Radar, reissued on Emanem)

Just in under the wire's this late-seventies slice of beyond the ken of Leonard Feather jazz featuring the omnipresent English soprano sax avant gardist Lol Coxhill. Coxhill's playing always seemed to be in a category of its own---he wasn't exactly born and bred of the black Amerigan experience like Ayler or Coltrane, yet he didn't really figure in with the more studious Third Stream people who teetered 'twixt the MJQ and Leonard Bernstein. If anything, Coxhill shared much of the free improv spirit of fellow English experimentalists AMM, even though Coxhill was working in the jass tradition and AMM were probably tacking up John Cage posters in their rehearsal room and shuddered over founding member Cornelius Cardew's "Stockhausen Serves Imperialism" tract hoping that a hit and run wasn't in their future.

First part's the classic el-pee version which had Coxhill literally doing the duet thing with himself live, with some guy named Stuart Emmerson adding some electronic effect to make it possible for Coxhill to actually do double time with his own playing. The results are kinda freaky and even though the technology behind it is by-now dated it's still a marvel to listen to and sounds a whole lot "fleshier"'n some of the modern computer behind-the-scenes whizbang used these sorry times. Abstract as all get out, and in some ways sounding like the end all in improvised experimental music even though the form did continue in sometimes dreadful fashion.

The rest of the new Cee-Dee version was recorded shortly after the above, this time with Coxhill performing with a Veryan Weston who plucks out various  early-twentieth-century styled piano notes and chords as Coxhill plays around, above and beyond the rather formal English stylings of his pod'ner. Makes for good chamber jazz listening (the Jimmy Giuffre 3 ca. 1961 might be a good comparison) and I find it, along with the original recordings, one of those things I sure wish I coulda heard back when it came out and it wasn't like you could run down to the local record shop (or local record shoplifter offering his picks at a greatly reduced rate) to give any of it a listen to! A surprisingly good one from a man whose career spanned dixieland to experimental and from Kevin Ayers to the Damned!

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