Sunday, January 19, 2014

Got the sump situation under control, so thankfully I've been catching up on my beauty sleep these past few nights. Must say the additional rest really does help out the ol' nervous system which is being worn to a frazzle as of late! And, as a result of getting some comparatively solid snoozing in, maybe this post won't read as convoluted as last week's or most of these weekend roundups have ever since I've been suffering from my writer's block (but trudge on I must, even at the expense of looking like a bigger asshole than I have these past thirtysome years).

Frankly, even with the inability to get the ideas outta my head, through my fingers and onto the keyboard I think I did a fairly good job of detailing just why and what you should be knowing about and listening to, but as usual you the reader will be the judge 'n jury, and naturally you will let me know with your usually stony and cold silence!
IT'S BEEN A BAD WEEK FOR TEE-VEE DEATHS what with the passing of two giants of the 19-inch screen these past seven days. The 86-ing of Russell Johnson has not-so-strangely enough been hitting me particularly hard, not only because he played the brainy if stodgy Professor Roy Hinkley on the all-time classic GILLIGAN'S ISLAND series but because he was a rather vivid presence on television and in the mooms since the early fifties throughout the final days of the past century. A face we all grew up seeing that typified a certain period in television entertainment that slowly but surely slipped from sight. And how many of you regular readers over the age of 45 have personally known some baby-boober who you'd be watching THE ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN or IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE with who woud remark "It's the Professor!" whenever his visage would pop up on the screen? Even my mother thought the Professor was a real he-man type of guy when she'd see him (she thought the same of Race Bannon!), even once remarking that she wished my father was a whole lot more like him!

And how about the time Johnson was playing a rapist of all things on IRONSIDE, and when he first appeared on the screen adolescent turdfarm me said in a Professor-like straight voice "Just how are we going to get off this island?" sending my sister into a hilarious uproar!

Yeah a whole lotta people used to make fun of Johnson's acting abilities (which wouldn't be that hard after seeing his appearance on THE BIG VALLEY where he does come off hammier than usual) but I always thought he was "cool" pretty much in the same way a cousin of mine thought Bill Cullen was the greatest and was so happy to have to wear eyeglasses because the famed PRICE IS RIGHT host also sported a pair of horn rims. In many ways Johnson was one of the last of the old-time fifties matinee idol wannabe types who usually played someone whether good guy or heel who exemplified what manhood used to be in the pre-castrati metrosexual era. It coulda been a scientist like the Professor or the one who brought Old West villain Albert Salmi into the then-present on one of two boffo TWILIGHT ZONE appearances, not forgetting the time Johnson played one of the astronauts that unwittingly brought the deadly space spores to earth on the "Specimen Unknown" episode of OUTER LIMITS. (One of the better episodes of that rather hotcha series if I do say so myself.) Remember when boys wanted to be scientists and astronauts like the kind Johnson played when they grew up 'stead of campaign to use whatever grade school lavatory they felt most comfortable in? Boy, were those days really that long ago?

Of course like fellow castaway Alan Hale Jr. Johnson was pretty much born to play the perhaps-too-scientific Professor on GI, a man who could do the most amazing things with coconuts but learned everything he knew about sex from studying gnats. No wonder he couldn't get to first base with Ginger when everyone knows that the famed starlet was putting out with the rest of the male population on the island and even a few visitors themselves! Even Gilligan himself was able to get a little once he was revived after one of Ginger's all-too-potent come ons, but the Professor was just too engrossed in mating rituals of the Mantis Cane to know about actual human carnal oompah to be able to do any actual flesh and blood copulation, and come to think of it maybe television (and us viewers) was all the better for it!

But although Johnson's post-GILLIGAN roles have been a return to the dramas from whence he came, I always did get a kick outta seeing him throughout a variety of seventies/eighties roles from THE JEFFERSONS to THAT GIRL (????????---just kidding about that one) just because...well, he was the Professor who was on one of my all-time favorite tee-vee series and he sure seemed cool in light of what had become of tough and gutzy types who were being scorned by the hippies ever since they began getting into positions of power. His likes will certainly be missed in these quarters.
Actor Dave Madden who played the toupee'd manager Reuben Kincaid on THE PARTRIDGE FAMILY has also left this mortal slinky. Funny, but when the infamous BRADY BUNCH/PARTRIDGE FAMILY Friday night block first popped up way back '70 way I was front and center for the Bradys but loathed the Partridges with a passion! (In fact, I remember my very first exposure to the Partridges during that fateful summer, when the local ABC station ran a commercial for the upcoming series during their morning cartoon block and I kinda felt revulsed by the mere fact that it stood against the twenties/thirties/forties/fifties-bred entertainment I most certainly craved at the time!) For me the former series was still part of an early/mid-sixties styled family sitcom romp while the Partridges were...well, kinda hippie-ish with their long hair and typically stilted v. late-sixties/early-seventies AM sounds. Not only that but THE PARTRIDGE FAMILY was downright subversive...remember the episode that showed some gerbil giving birth? I mean, how sick can you get, especially when such an act was presented in a sensitive, life-reaffirming way instead of with shame and revulsion like it should be??? And how about the time Danny Partridge used the world "adultery" instead of "adulthood"??? Boy did I cringe, and nobody was even in the room with me watching this which only goes to show you just how unnerved I was by such an off-color malapropism!

It wasn't until the show's final season that I started to tune in and follow it in a more lighthearted fashion, and when the family hit the syndication circuit I was catching up on all of those episodes I missed the first time 'round. Never could work up that much of an appreciation for David Cassidy's talents even though I remember enjoying his version of the Association classic "Cherish", but I did like Danny Bonaduce as the smartass Danny Partridge, especially when he was being played against group manager and downright kid hater Kincaid. A role I might add that Madden was born to play just as much as Johnson and Hale were born to play theirs. Well, it was better'n his brief LAUGH IN sojourn that's for sure!

True THE PARTRIDGE FAMILY was about a good two/three years outside the loop of classy tee-vee on all fronts, but next to the plethora of turdbombs that have ruined the entire industry beyond redemption as of late even this hippydippy piece of ABC trying so hard (and succeeding for once!) to capture the youth audience comes off rather smooth this far down the line, even with all of the hip women's lib and whatever cause can be crammed into a teen-oriented sitcom you'd care to think of. Well, at least it wasn't ROOM 222 or LUCAS TANNER which really drove ubercauses into the realm of utter stupidity.

And people like Madden as Kincaid made the Partridges all the more watchable, he with his great everyday fuddy duddy nature which made him almost the mental equal of his friendly rival Danny. Really, the two were a great comedy pair that sorta balanced the teenybop appeal of Cassidy, the what are they here for anyway? presence of the two little kids, and Susan Dey's absolute lack of any talent, charm, or boobs for all of us sprouting adolescent wankoffs.

After the Partridges it was back to the sitcom appearances and commercial voice overs, but like Johnson Madden made his mark on the suburban slob mindset with his fine acting and that's good enough for me! And so, a big adios to two of the unheralded tee-vee greats who not only seem to have come from a different world, but a world that was perhaps much better'n the one we live in now even with all of the medical and living standard breakthroughs we've been encountering lo these many years. I mean, what good are vitamins and soap if we don't have any great tee-vee to sit down and watch after a hard day at the sweat mines (or is it salt shop?) anyway???
HAVEN'T HAD ANY REALLY GOOD ROCK 'N ROLL ORIENTED DREAMS AS OF LATE, so the one I experienced Thursday night really came off as a vivid and welcome surprise. While watching two back-to-back LEAVE IT TO BEAVERs at what seemed to be my now-deceased aunt and uncle's home which had a certain early-sixties "vibe" to it (although the dream was set in the here and now), I actually got to see an episode that I don't recall having ever seen before! In it, Wally and Eddie's surf group the Survivors were appearing on national tee-vee live from Miami, and oh boy what a group it was! It was a nine-piece, with Wally on drums (using brushes for some reason which certainly didn't befit the music being heard in said dream), Eddie on Farfisa organ, two guitarists, a bass guitarist, and four horns...three saxophones (alto, tenor and baritone) and what looked like a pocket trumpet the kind Don Cherry used to play!

The group performed positioned straight in a row with the saxes arranged from small to large on the far right,  the trumpet, the guitars with Wally on drums at the far left. Eddie played the organ positioned at a 90-degree angle right next to Wally for some aesthetic reason and boy was he grinning all the time he was playing those wild riffs! The band was cranking out a hard instrumental sound that came off very much like the pre-Turtles Crossfires thanks to the horn section, which had two or maybe three black guys on the saxes (when the band walked onstage at the beginning of this particular dream segment I thought the baritone saxophonist was white, though later on he most certainly wasn't!) and a short white guy who kinda resembled a young Mousie Garner played the trumpet dressed casually in a windbreaker which is strange since the rest of the group had these sharp early-sixties suits with a crest emblazoned on the blazer breast pockets.

The only other thing I can recall is that the short white guy was doing these weird rollicking dance steps while the tenor saxophonist was getting into an almost Coltrane-ish between-the-notes r&b groove during his brief spot! Definitely one for the dream archives, and not only that but it was conjured outta my mind w/o the aid of any Ny-Quil!
Well, here's just what you've been waiting for...this week's miscellany of maybe not-so-brief items as John Derbyshire wouldn't say. Must mention that I found this particular batch of pre-recorded booty rather stimulating, especially the pre-Metallica Agents of Misfortune one-sided romper listed immediately below, and I must be in a really good mood because I even give a hearty rah rah to the particularly new waveish Aaron Poehler and Ryan Tully-Doyle disque that closes out this post! Now that's kinda strange because for the life of me I would have torn  this 'un down mercilessly had I heard it a good twenny-five years back given just how frothing rabid for the cause of rock 'n roll I could get when the spirit moved me! And back then it moved me more often than not!!!

I must be getting old though I doubt it since I am a perennial pre-teen to the point where I always make sure to leave the water running and lock the bathroom door if I'm gonna be in there any longer than a half-hour. But then again, maybe I can like, enjoy, or get something outta some record that doesn't fall into my patented rockist tendencies for reasons other than the expected surge I crave in my musical entertainment, and if someone like Wayne McGuire could appreciate the Plutonian depths of the Velvet Underground and the Neptunian depths of the Grateful Dead and Bill Evans why can't I listen to the Ohio Express with the same ears I use to listen to the Stooges, or find some (perhaps snide) worth in eighties drone(on) rock, heavy metal flufferoo or gnu wave goop that wouldn't have passed any tests on my part once 1979 crept into a new and less-enthralling decade?

AGENTS OF MISFORTUNE one-sided LP (no label)

Cliff Burton just hadda've been the heart, mind, soul and maybe even sphincter of Metallica. True that venerable aggregation were startin' to go south even before Burton learned a new meaning of the term "heavy metal" way back when, but during their Megaforce Records days when they were helping to kick-start heavy metal into a new generation of sludge it was Burton who was putting a whole lotta oomph into the Metallica sound.

Unfortunately Metallica (like many of their eighties metallic counterparts) just hadda let their progressive inclinations get the best of 'em, but when the original group was out there cooking on all cylinders Metallica were doing a pretty good job of making people forget about comparative fiz like Van Halen, at least until Bon Jovi popped up onna scene.

The thirteen minutes that appear on this one-sided "album" which could be a bootleg (one that's so good I ain't gonna hold off on writing about it until its time for the next BOOTLEG BRAGGADOCIO!) is a killer, a slab of solid sound recorded around 1981 (never mind the '84 date that pops up at the beginning of the video below) which goes against the grain of everything HM was standing for at the time whether it be tiresome Ted Nugent histrionics, Deep Purple sophisticado (sans that drench of their early seventies offerings) or general Molly Hatchet doofdom. Burton and band pretty much roar into industrial waste sounds here with a style that I'm sure would have shocked the likes of Andy "Punk Rock Has No Roots" Secher and the entire eighties HIT PARADER metal fluffs as various proto-Metallica ideas are scronked out with a steady beat, walls of feedback and a free sound that hadn't been heard in Metal Proper since Blue Cheer's original escapades. The end results are not only rooted in metal legend (bowed guitar) but punk rock in a 1971 CREEM sense coming closer to Von Lmo (or "Amboss" period Ash Ra Tempel) than Autograph. Can't say that I've heard anything as genuinely distorto as this as of late outside of Fadensonnen!

Comes on grey splatter vinyl and in a numbered edition of 300 if you care. If you really care and missed out (Eclipse Records have a few left, I hope!) you can always burn a copy of the "Battle of the Bands" video this was taken from might not stand out so much in your collection but think of all the money you'll be saving!

Alex Chilton-ELECTRICITY BY CANDLE CD-r burn (originally on Bar/None)

Interesting acoustic set recorded by the infamous Boxtops vocalist during a blackout in New York City on February 13 1997. It sure sounds it what with the audience patter, the off-the-cuff renditions of old-timey favorites and the general get-together have some fun feeling that would occur in a club during a blackout when none would dare venture out into the street.

A lotta on-line wags have been putting this one down for the "amateurish" recording quality and performance, but I find ELECTRICITY BY CANDLE a more'n representative slide of Chilton's talents as well as proof of his ability to take the worst of a situation and make the best even if self-appointed rock critic types can't see beyond their pointy heads. Nothing I'm gonna be spinning as often as LIKE FLIES ON SHERBET, but a fairly representational document of Chilton that even a cursory fan would want to hear at least a few dozen times. (And the bonus track which is unlisted on my cover puts a nice cap on this thing...can anyone relay whatever info there may be regarding its origins?)
The Gories-THE SHOW TAPES, LIVE IN DETROIT 5/27/88 CD-r burn (originally on Third Man Records)

Since I haven't been listening to my old Gories records in quite a long time this burn (courtesy of P. D. Fadensonnen) does come in handy. Taken from what I assume's a fairly decent nineties-vintage audience tape, the Gories thrash and burn through a whole bunch of garage band screechers, some original and many covers, sounding about as raw as a rear end after evacuating a Mexican dinner and having nothing to use but one-ply (ow!). Hear your favorite NUGGETS and PEBBLES faves reduced to distorted amp frenzy, and speaking of amps don't miss the part where these guys actually blow a fuse at the club and have to go down to the basement to slip a penny into the box!
The Sixth Station-DEEP NIGHT CD-r burn (originally on Numero Group)

Hippie priest Tony Trosley helps the Tridentine Mass movement single-handedly with this soft rock West Coast folkie album with a vaguely religious bent that I couldn't discern from the typically introspective lyrics. Recorded in 1982, Fr. Trosley should have realized that by this time the Laurel Canyon scene was long dead 'n turquoised outta existence, but trod forth he did with this laid back offering that's probably now worth more'n the collection intake from last week's 11:30 AM mass. Some might find spiritual worth in Trosley's twelve-string playing and more-introspective-than-Harry Chapin lyrics, but if he really wanted to be "hip" and "with it" he would have certainly put his religious convictions to a finer form of music. After all, I'd rather have heard him do Suicide's "Punk Music Mass" over this anyday!

Various Artists-ST. PETER'S BLOOPERS AT PLAY CD-r (thanks be to Bill Shute)

Another strange selection comin' my way what with the cornballus Smokey and the Rhythm Riders and Don Jones startin' things out, but soon we get into some more of those sometimes funny beyond belief  and often wonderful beyond words "song poems" (courtesy Vincent Poli and R. W. Grantham) and of course the indispensable Terry and the Macs. After about five minutes of the Note-Ables blaspheming their way through "Jesus Christ Superstar" (when I was a kid I was so stupid as to think they were actually singing "Jesus Christ Superstar/Who in the hell do you think you are?") I fast forwarded to the Bloopers platter which I thought had some sorta funzies to it even though these things were usually phonier'n shit! Well, better listen to something like this rather than spend an hour doing something constructive!
Aaron Poehler & Ryan Tully-Doyle-DIETRICH CD (available via iTunes, Amazon, Bandcamp and elsewhere)

The brand of early-eighties synth-laden new wave that Poehler and Tully-Doyle spew forth on this 36-minute Cee-Dee ain't exactly my cup o' cliche, but I won't rip into the thing like my unabashed fanzine-era self would have. Actually I find the neo-Psychedelic Furs drone and clump fairly decent, maybe nothing that'll make any top ten lists o' mine but an occasional diversion for those who miss the eighties brand of what was going under the name punk rock in 1975 before getting tagged new wave in 1977 before being inundated with a variety of terms from "new music" to "post-punk" once the new decade got into gear. If you miss acts like Certain General (who I believe are still up and running!), Crossfire Choir and the Corvairs you'll probably be more'n apt to snatch this one up!
If you were able to make it through this one without grimacing, be glad to know that I have another one all set for Wednesday and I'd be lying if I said it was a doozy!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Gotta love how Cliff name checks Velvet Underground first!