Saturday, February 15, 2014

There are many mysteries in life, but one of the bigger one to have hit me these past few days is, how did I ever manage to wrangle this copy of ROCK SCENE, the July 1976 issue at that, and so cheaply at that considering that a member of Kiss is on the front cover! Usually something as important to the surviving stoner rock mentality as a magazine with Gene Simmons with or without extended tongue raises the price of a magazine tenfold, so I do consider myself pretty lucky that I got this one especially since ROCK SCENE, along with CREEM natch, were the better over-the-counter rock reads of the seventies at least until stadium rock and pallid tastes began to overtake Ameriga's youth to the point that their cubeoid parents were actually hipper'n 'em!

Thankfully ROCK SCENE wasn't for the inquiring sensitive introverted type who was looking for long articles detailing the when's, why's and wherefore's of Joni Mitchell's mental deterioration! For our benefit each and every page was packed to the portals with loads of fun information that seems custom made for the teenage pimplefarms we all might have been...y'know, the kind of fanabla who was searching out ranky two-for-two-dollars cutout cassettes trying to make his buck go about as far as it could while all of the other kids were burning up moolah like it was being cranked out of the basement!

Even if the dollar price tag might have been too much for our pocketbooks, at least think of all fun we had glomming the info discharged in each and every one of these while standing at the newsstands before being chased away by some overweight grumpy mid-aged guy who oddly enough looks the way we do now!

And hey, I actually remember reading this 'un at the stands! For some reason the section on Peter Gabriel being photographed around the time his first solo album was being recorded (perhaps because he didn't look like the partially-shaved head nut he was just a short while back), as well as Lou Reed playing with his pet dachshund (who I bet could say a whole lot if he could only speak!) bring back memories of hanging out at the National Record Mart at the Eastwood Mall entertaining myself between thumbing through the record racks. Somehow the significance of the Television, Tuff Darts, Heartbreakers and "More New Bands" section (featuring local Boston heroes as well as a pre-WASP Rik Fox in the Martian Rock Band, sorta like Kiss with an outer space motif) passed me by, but perhaps I latched onto 'em on a subliminal level that pointed towards future rockist endeavors on my part. But whatever, a mag like this 'un only goes to remind ya of just what a fun 'n promising time the sixties and seventies were before rock got washed away into video nonsense and became so irrelevant that even a vibrant, thriving underground couldn't manage to get its corpse back in gear!

Of course you get the expected shots of Lisa Robinson schmoozing up to the glitterati at some big Hollywood shindig not forgetting David Bowie appearing on Dinah Shore's morning gabfest and talking to all of the other big stars of the day. I always liked those pix just because they seemed to capture a fragment of the kind of existence I thought the entire rock world reveled in. Sorta like the family Christmas Party in the rumpus room only with Alice Cooper aboard. It's especially nice seeing my favorites talking to the biggies, like the shot of Ray Davies and Elliot Murphy sharing a few moments...and like I never even imagined that Davies knew who Murphy was in the first place.

Naturally the up 'n comers are what get my attention, like the snaps of Patti Smith posing with a bunch of nobodies from WMMS-FM and chatting it up with the one-eared great J. Paul Getty III, not to mention the bit on Television's Boston debut where Tom Verlaine gets to pose for a snap with Jonathan Richman and Andy Paley which just might be the biggest collection of seventies shoulda-beens gathered in one place. ROCK SCENE always made ya feel like you were right there with the bigguns, and although all of the musical acts and the energy these acts oozed are long dead 'n buried it kinda makes you feel glad it was alive at least some time in history. Kinda like the feeling you get reading HOLLYWOOD BABYLON knowing that Hollywood's Golden Years have been replaced by utter crap, but at one time it sure captured a whole lot that meant much to you as a tee-vee glomming, history minded turdburger!

Top it off with the regular columns (Doc Rock telling a high school kid the ins and outs of opening your own record shop, Wayne County giving advice to some gal who's mad about Keith Moon as well as some fifteen year old who dresses like Patti Smith and wants to know where she buys her clothes!) and you got another top notch high energy issue of a mag that shouldn't've run outta gas inna early-eighties like it did. And with all of the hope that the youth who bought and read ROCK SCENE had for this nation of ours, I wonder exactly where everything went wrong. I mean, the kids who wrote into Wayne...where are they now? I hope they're not the bulbous lunchroom ladies at school or gaggin' it up at  bridge games like their parents and grandmammies have been doin' for ages, that's for sure! (Do people play bridge anymore???)
RIP SHIRLEY TEMPLE, a gal who was so big in Hollywood at one time that she could actually slug a guy in the balls and get away with it because you just can't spank stars, especially if they're underage precocious twats. Just ask Alfalfa. If only her ex-hubby John Agar were here to see this, especially considering the offhand treatment she gave him in her autobiography next to the comparatively conciliatory tone he had regarding her in his. But when all's said 'n done, I gotta laugh at the coverage she got via NBC NIGHTLY NEWS when the usually monochromatic Brian Williams lauded Temple for appearing with black actors during those racially insensitive thirties as if this were some grand redeeming trait in an otherwise humdrum (and non-politically correct) career!!!! Somewhere in the vast reaches of the afterlife Willie Best is smiling knowing that he's finally been vindicated after the smear job Bill Cosby laid on him in that Andy Rooney-penned CBS television special.

Also RIP Sid Caesar, though since his humor was more of a sophisticated upper-crust chattering classes sort of affair it ain't like I'm bothered about it.
Well here's another entry for you to chew. Managed to hear a few nice ones this week that actually broke me outta the mid-winter slump, and between working through the years of recorded booty I own and the stuff everyone from the likes of Bill Shute to P. D. Fadensonnen have sent me, I think I'll be pretty much set music-wise for quite some time. Thanks pod'ners! Here then is this week's musical melange...

Billy Bang & Dennis Charles-BANGCEPTION CD-r burn (originally on Hat Records, Switzerland)

Another great recording from seventies free jazz upstart Bang, this time doing the live thingie in Willisau with the equally departed drummer Dennis Charles. Bang plays his typical smooth yet angular self here while Charles is a more than capable backup playing above and beyond in the classic Sunny Murray way. Lotsa solos for both as well, and in no way can I (in my right mind) complain about the exquisite cover of Ornette Coleman's "Lonely Woman" nor "Know Your Enemy", a number which was written by saxophonist Bilal A. Rahman of whom I know very little other'n he has performed with Bang on occasion. I remember when Bang was being touted as the new hot thing in free jazz back around the time this was recorded, and naturally this 'un is a good enough document as to why heads were being turned in the first place.
Pip Proud-"Purple Boy Gang"/"A Million Years From Now" 45 rpm single (EM)

The usual underground hubbub regarding this late-sixties New Zealander who was being touted as another Syd Barrett got me a bit curious, and this single proved to be a nice li'l taste. A side's a spry rocker with Pip singing in full nasal regalia. The results come off not unlike one of the many self-produced records that were pouring out of Blighty in the very-late seventies. Kinda reminded me of the Pressler/Morgan "You're Gonna Watch Me" single in pace and execution. The flip has Proud twangin' acoustic to a repetitive riff as he talk-sings his plaintive poesy with equally stuffed up nostrils. Actually lives up to the usual "underground" hype, though I doubt I'd actually want to or be able to for that matter listen to an entire album of him like you probably would.
Iannis Xenakis-TERRETEKTORH/NOMOS GAMMA CD-r burn (originally on Candide)

Did I ever tell you about the time I was playing the Xenakis ELECTRO/ACOUSTIC MUSIC album when I was a teenbo and my dad came in the room yellin' his head off as if the sounds being emitted from the stereo speakers were symptomatic of some deep, sick trend in life that I should have nothing to do with? I remember arguing back, but naturally my responses met on deaf ears not only because my dad would have no part of what I was trying to say, but my debating tactics were (and remain) kinda weak. But then again, the only real rule of debate that I know of is the one which our own dear president once mentioned, that if the opponent brings a knife to the fight, you bring a gun! Can't argue with a logical idea like that, and I mean it!

Don't know what dad'd think of these sides with titles that read like Magma outtakes, but I don't think he'd be too sussed by 'em either. But I like 'em, what with their ideas that seem like the better moments of twentieth century new music crunched into a half hour of perfection. "Terretektorh" reminds me of Penderecki's "Threnody For the Dead Hiroshima Victims" with elements of Varese's "Ionization" tossed in, while "Nomos Gamma" almost comes off like one of those John Cage symphonies everybody used to boo at mixed with elements from a few of the mid-sixties Sun Ra ESP albums. There ain't a wrong note on this one, though I'm sure dad would disagree!
Esquivel and his Orchestra-OTHER WORLDS, OTHER SOUNDS LP (So Far Out, Germany)

With ears attuned to Esquivel's E-ZY LISTENING magic as soothing sounds for midclass workaday types ('stead of as "Incredibly Strange Music" sophisticado har-hars for fake anarchists), I found that his versions of classic melodies fit in beautifully with my readings of choice 1959-1963 TV GUIDEs. Real gone "Stereo 99" sounds that were used to peak perfection on those Ernie Kovacs specials that sure got a lot of tee-vee mileage since the late-seventies. Still it ain't the same in the here and now as it would have been had I been some World War II vet type sporting a snazzy pair of Bausch and Lombs living in my 1959 ranch house listening to this in my knotty pine rec room with my feet up and my headphones on during some late-Ike/Kennedy-era day. Well, it sure woulda beat the crap outta worrying about the bomb, y'know?
Sun Ra-JOURNEY STARS BEYOND CD-r burn (originally on Saturn)

You can get JOURNEY STARS BEYOND with some other release on an Art Yard Cee-Dee, but Bill sent me this on its lonesome and like, it ain't like I'm complainin'! Don't know much background info or sidemen or anything other'n it might have been recorded in 1980 and released a year later, but this live sesh features loads of classic Sun Ra organ/rocksichord/synth-ish sounds with only a trombone and drums helping out, and for those of you who love those extremely obscure Saturn albums that seemed to reach out further than Ra's non-Saturn output did you should, uh, like go for this. And if you were one of many who were ripped off after sending hard-begged moolah to Saturn and hearing nary a reply (as was wont their business "practices"), feel secure in the thought that you can now pick this one up for free via download  and you don't have to pay those cheats one thin dime!
Various Artists-THE APES OF SMOKING FIREWATER CD-r (via Bill Shute)

Another winner from the computer reaches of Bill. It's got a lotta goodies from a kraut horror cash-in to some weird Bert Kaempfert rip not to mention a cheezy version of Richie Valens' "Donna" that just mighta caught on with the crowd that was mourning over the loss of him and those other guys who died and killed off rock 'n roll until the Beatles came to save us all (or something like that Greil Marcus once said).

The biggest surprises here are two sides of this weird experimental recording from an act calling itself the Apes of God which feature nada but weird piano scales while some aloof whitebread voice recites segments from that seventies best seller HOW TO PICK UP GIRLS. Totally high-larious listening perhaps magnified by the blase recitation and the John Schaum Book Two workouts heard in the background.

Also worth the listen are a bunch of demos that were recorded and personally sent to Keith Richards by some guy with a strange kinda New Yawk accent calling himself Paul Super Apple who, after a spoken drooling introduction regarding some past meeting and how much he appreciates Richards, delivers a bunch of  cheap crank-out low-fi numbers that I sincerely doubt Richards would have given a listen to. But Super Apple trods on and really dishes on the schmaltz as he lavishes praise on his hero and wishes him a Merry Christmas with all of the sentimentality of Red Skelton. Actually the songs Super Apple lays down ain't bad at all, kinda like a cross between Daniel Johnston and David Roter, but this guy had about as much of a chance getting any real recognition in the biz as I would selling an article to THE ADVOCATE! As they say in showbiz, them's the breaks!
Hey, d'ya wan't me t' dispence with the usual reviews 'n do one of my "specialties" next week? Do you??? Hunh, hunh???

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