Sunday, February 09, 2014

Y'know, I ain't gonna be "celebratin'" the fiftieth anniversary of the Beatles' appearance on THE ED SULLIVAN SHOW like I might've back when I was in my early twenties and weirdo rituals such as spinning "Sister Ray" New Year's Eve/Morn meant a whole lot to me. No I am not gonna play Beatle records endlessly all day, nor am I gonna watch my VCR tape of that fateful show as the clock strikes eight. I ain't even gonna try to dig up the episodes of LASSIE, MY FAVORITE MARTIAN and MR. ED that preceded it. Heck, I ain't even gonna try to find the episodes of THE TRAVELS OF JAMIE McPHEETERS or WALT DISNEY that were runnin' up against it on the other networks just to find out what I was missing. However, I just might go and grab myself a bowl of CAP'N CRUNCH.or one of their crafty imitators in homage of this being the Golden Anniversary of my first indulging in the tasty and long-running breakfast cereal which, as I learned that very evening, is delicious whether it be for breakfast, lunch or dinner!

I gotta say that my own opines regarding the Beatles are about as 180 as those that Lou Reed used to spew, he at one time slobbering on about how great they were and oh how sad it was they broke up because "they had so much more to offer us," only to do a complete turnabout later on about their utter uselessness depending on whatever drug might have been in his system at the time. Maybe I'm not that negative about the Beatles as Lou could get, but there still is something inside of me that makes me cringe whenever I am reminded of some of their latterday hippie trips. I still remember back I was in grade school and I would hear some kid sing "All Together Now" which he copped from the Muppets anyway and all that came to mind was an irritating jolt through my digestive system. Back then long hair and tinkling bells were the "cool" thing for most of the just-popping into the double-digits kids, but in no way could I relate to the love and peace tee-vee culture they were plugging as much as they could relate to the Elvis and Ricky Nelson one I was tossing back at 'em! Needless to say I was an outkid even among the outkids!

Y'know, frankly I would have loved it if the Beatles had been just another flash-in-the-teenbo-pan like Dick Clark and I'm sure many other Amerigan rock moguls were hopin'. Not that the Beatles and their mop top brethren didn't help invigorate the stereo situation for the next few years, but their legacy if anything just reflected the flabby nature of the baby boomers who were offered all of the benefits, fun and entertainment that their depression-era folk never had only to become even more crotchety and corrupt than "the establishment" they claimed they wanted to destroy ever were.

The first thing that comes to my mind when I think of a current day Beatles Fan is some wire-rimmed and well off WASP-oid with long hair combed immaculately wearing a slightly mod-ish suit who follows all of the trendy belief systems he read about in ROLLING STONE or DOONESBURY with humble reverence. Y'know, the kinda guy who didn't know about punk rock until Greil Marcus told him about it and now suddenly he was head over heels about the Fabulous Poodles.

The perfect example of the Beatle fan just might be the guy who was giving me the evil eye when I was called up for jury duty and tried to get out of it by bringing along and reading an issue of David Horowitz's old HETERODOXY newspaper with the bold headline FRY MUMIA NOW! He mighta been the brightest eyed and bushiest tailed Saturday afternoon barbershop kid back '64 way, but in the meanwhile he had turned into an overwrought ball of cause and activism flowing out of his nerve-endings like lightning bolts. Given this all happened a good twenty years ago who knows how blue his pen has gotten writing letters of indignation to whatever publication or on-line outlet that would dare expose his angst to the world!

But still I gotta look on the bright side of it all, and that is that the Beatles helped push rock 'n roll into the Second Generation with relative ease. Not that 1963 top forty wasn't anything to sneeze at---in fact the early sixties were a whole load better'n self-appointed pundits with their college paper columns led us to believe, but the Beatles' appearances on these shores took the promise that the Trashmen, Kingsmen and all of those boffo surf and girl groups had and pushed it into even further reaches I'm sure nobody in 1960 would have dreamed ever could happen. And yeah, that meant that now even the geekiest Dilton Doiley in the school could now 'appreciate" rock the way he did calculus, but then again there was more rock to appreciate and, at least for a few years, it was rather invigorating stuff you couldn't get enough of!

But then again, by the late-sixties the form mutated perhaps beyond recognition, what with the advent of hippie jams (some of which weren't too bad I will admit) followed by hippie folk-strumming (which was!) and then an AM radio teetering between high energy quality and soft sap pap (with FM being a total dungeon despite what progressive prancers would like you to think). All of the energy and innovation that the seventies and beyond produced was swept under the rug in favor of the "classic rock" we all know and loathe, and despite the best efforts of the "underground" (which had been pretty much "overground" in the mid-sixties) all we were left with by the time it was our generation's turn was lame Bruce Springsteen belch and a much that lacked the danger, bravery and pure energy that the likes of the Beatles once exerted oh so long ago.

So, in many ways the Beatles were the beginning of the next generation with all of the promise and power that exuded, but in some ways (perhaps unconsciously) they were responsible for the end of rock as a viable International Youth Language.  Wasn't their fault though...maybe it just hadda be.

(Oh yeah, if you wanna know about Don Fellman's Beatles on Sullivan recollections lemme tell you---he has none! I asked him to contribute a few memories of that day and he says that he knew nothing about them or their importance and only knew something big happened the next day when classmates started talking about the show in typically teenage huzzuh terms! Thought I had a good one to relay to you similar to his JFK ruminations, but not this time!)

Just so's I won't be milking the fiftieth anniversary bandwagon for all it's worth I'm going to do just one Beatle writeup in celebration of the great event. Of course it's gonna be of the first platter of theirs I come across within the vast reaches of my Cee-Dee-brimming melon crate, some which would be fitting considering my rather unpredictable aleatory-riddled thought processes o'er the years.

The Beatles-ULTRA RARE TRAX VOL. 6 CD (Swingin' Pig boot, Luxembourg)

Dunno if any of this has been legitimately issued on one of those much-touted "Anthology" collections that came out awhile back, but this volume of the long-running bootleg series does collect some of the better Beatles outtakes in one nice li'l lump setting. Not only that, but while listening to this I actually got that old time rock 'n roll buzz that made me realize just why Second Generation rock was so important to people other'n mid-class turdburgers such as ourselves, and important people who wouldn't even dare to glance upon our sullen figures at that!

The demo version of "Come and Get It" (which the liners said was constructed within a mere hour) is so good 'n classic Beatles I kinda wonder why they gave it to Badfinger. If they hadn't I'm sure old fans would have felt it a return to past form back when the Beatles were playing rock 'n roll 'stead of music hall or simpy ballads. The version of "Hold Me Tight" is a bit wobbly though...reminds me of my mid-teen cassette of the first Capitol album right before it jammed in the gears as cheap tapes were wont to do back then. "I'll Be On My Way"'s a kinda placid post-Holly track from the BBC 'n I can see why it would be all but forgotten, while the take of "Strawberry Fields Forever" actually sounds much better stripped of the psychedelic lush gush.

"It's All Too Much"...is this the song that Sterling Morrison said was a swipe of the Velvet Underground? If so they sure did a nice enough job just like all of those other acts who did the same thing though never would admit it until liking the Velvets became "cool" years later. Speaking of Velvets, the "12 Bar Original" has that mid-sixties white kid trying to be a tough black kid sound that comes closer to the VU doing those "Green Onion" riff rips at the Factory...real boss. And while I'm on a mid-Amerigan rock streak, "I Hate To See" sounds, if it had only been fleshed out, like it coulda been a Flamin' Groovies outtake from the FLAMINGO sessions making me wonder...where did the Beatles go wrong?

Back to the early days with "take seven" of "She's a Woman," the song that had casual listeners actually thinking that Paul's voice was going shot! And if people thought Paul's voice was going kablooey then I wonder what they woulda thought of John's mind, what with his '68 eccentricities as well as yet another take of "What's The New Mary Jane." This one, as most all of the versions I've heard, ends in a long trail of aural afterbirth with Yoko not quite up to moaning away like we would have expected her to but I find it top notch anyway.

Closing out the set's a take of "Dig It" which I gotta say I always thought was a rather hotcha thingie built on a classic "Louie Louie" riff.. In fact, this entire collection hits the lofty BLOG TO COMM standards of just what rock 'n roll (as a suburban slob mode of entertainment and perhaps even expression) is supposed to be. It's too bad that the vast majority of Beatles/rock fans took to the more flower power happy goodtimey lovenpeace variety of late-sixties sociopolitical hoohah with the Beatles at the helm, and come to think of it too bad the Beatles did as well. After all, all you didn't need was love...maybe some high energy rock would have suited the beasts among us as well!

Perhaps if the Beatles had "matured" in quite a different direction the late-sixties music scene wouldn't have become as much of a dump as it was for a buncha brats who were buying Seeds records only a good two years earlier, but at least we got these rockers which I hope upset the starry eyed hippydippy iron-haired and headbanded gals I used to see to no end.
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15-60-75 (the Numbers Band)-JIMMY BELL'S STILL IN TOWN, EXPANDED VERSION CD-r burn (originally on Exit Stencil)

It's sure grand to see this classic album (which has gotta rank as one of the ten best live rockism albums of all time) get yet another reissue. Sure it ain't like the "new" generation of kiddies are gonna be buyin' it up like they used to absorb every nuance of old tee-vee sitcoms and LITTLE RASCALS, but maybe old turd me has the same spark of hope that my dad's generation had when younger kids took a break from that horrid rock music 'n started to dabble in forties/fifties forms, even if it was via the Manhattan Transfer and Linda Ronstadt singing "Blue Bayou"! Some people let their freak flags fly, I let my suburban slob one flap mightily in the wind.

Of course it sounds dated---that is, if high energy jamz and flailing saxes are a potent example of musical carbon dating. Really, I'd sure hate to hear this 'un if it sounded contemporary! You know that hard driving rock and blues (no matter black or white) haven't been performed properly in ages, and giving a listen to these '75 recordings'll make you wonder why rock (as that maddening sound that typified Youth going out of control to the point where death seemed like a welcome punchline) had become just another commodity w/o the all-encompassing impact and verve that drove us to it in the first place.

The original portion of the album sure holds up and really drives that spike through what's left of my late-teenage years quest for total energy via various past punk attacks filtered through then-present underground accomplishment. The Numbers rock out like you would have expected any late-sixties punk band to have done, even with the horns which punctuate Robert Kidney's driving poetry talk-speak like nothing since John Cale's organ to Lou Reed's "Sister Ray" recitation. I still get the quivers (and am not ashamed to say so!) whenever I hear "Thief",  a little ditty which is based on a true encounter on the streets of Chicago which I could say is more potent'n what Lou Reed had been offering us with his various gutter visions of the seventies such as "Street Hassle".

The new material fits in swell what with a down homey take of "Who Do You Love" not to mention a rave up on the all time classic (whether the original or Sonics/Groovies cover) "Keep-a-Knockin'" that retains a dark, intense approach that'll probably frighten the fanabla outta you! A great addition to what already was one of the better platters to make its way outta the Akron/Kent area, and if you don't latch onto ths 'un any way you can you can't be my palzy-walzy thaz fer sure!
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Hackamore Brick-FROM THERE TO ALMOST HERE CD (soon to be available via CD Baby)

Dunno if you can call this an actual Hackamore Brick album considering these 70s/80s tracks were mostly laid down by a variety of post Tommy Moonlight/Chick Newman groups such as Stars or perhaps even Blue Yonder, but it's about as close to a retrospective as we're gonna get so I wouldn't pick nits too much.

But if you were one fellow in the mood for a collection of Hackamore Brick rarities thanks be that one is finally on the way. And even though I do have more'n a few issues with it I gotta say that it is essential for fans of this group that is finally getting their long-due respect, even if it is from a bunch of people who undoubtedly woulda trampled over 'em to get to their James Taylor albums back 1971 way.

Now I must admit that the eighties material that doth appears does little for this humble blogschpieler. These tracks sound just too well-produced, recorded and generally squeaky-clean eighties, very much like some of the then-rampant AM pop that was fertilizing the radio waves back during one of the more barren times in rock music history. Dragging in eighties-vintage Rick Springfield may be a little too overboard, but in some ways might be quite accurate. Thankfully some pop sparks tend to ignite such as on Moonlight's '84 entry "Don't You Wanna Go," but for the most part these tracks are ballads that need some heavy duty rock 'n roll to intermingle with just like they did on that now-classic slice of Kama-Sutra.

The early-seventies tracks fare better, although they remind me less of ONE KISS LEADS TO ANOTHER and more of Big Star which just settles fine in my cranium! These numbers have that proper mix of 1972 top-40 pop pounce in the T. Rex/Badfinger/Hollies vein even if they aren't as flash as any of 'em, yet they still epitomize the days of rock as teenybop fun back when it was even OK for boys to read 16 (even if I wasn't allowed to!). But then again there are too many soft rockers here with nary a hard-edged proto-Patti Smith-esque "Zip Gun Woman" or "And I Wonder" Doors-cum-Zombies rave to jolt your nerve-endings. If the rockin' side of Hackamore Brick is one that had you scouring the cutout bins of 1976 you might be taken aback somewhat.

One that's sure to age nicely (even with the newer pop-oriented soft rockers), though next time how about more of that oomph?
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Egg, Eggs-OFF YELLOW SOFT PILLOW CD-r (Kendra Steiner Editions, see link on left for ordering information)

Sheesh, I was still recovering from the first Egg, Eggs release and that was two years ago! Here's the latest via Kendra Steiner Editions, a nice little platter which kinda sounds like an aural version of one of those old Cal Schenkel collages that used to adorn the covers of Mothers albums. A total free play melange with found sound and that same nutty guy talking all over it comin' off like an escapee from a feminist genital clampdown workshop mumbling about the torture he's been through. If I were one of the members of Smegma I'd be having sleepless nights worrying over the competition that's about to take over on the total bizarro musico-art front.
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SONGS FROM THE STEVE ALLEN SHOW CD-r (originally on Dot)

I dunno about you, but for me Steve Allen was just another one of those fifties hip types who were eventually outdone by their emulators to the point where by the late-sixties they seemed just as cube as Lawrence Welk with the cast of Johnny Mann's STAND UP AND CHEER tossed in for good measure. I might have thought he was boffo at one time, but eventually I came to see Allen as a guy who didn't know whether ot not he wanted to be Mr. Freethinker or the guardian of Ameriga's Saintly Values (see his campaign against none other than Howard Stern, a guy who in many ways was Allen's fifties persona flash forwarded into the disgusto nineties...sour grapes anyone???). A total snooze eve if he was a huge part of that cool post-World War II/pre-hippie era I miss sooooo much!

Given that, I will admit that I found myself tapping toe and putting on a li'l smile while listening to this '64 LP of various Steve Allen numbers taken from his early/mid-sixties tee-vee program. I assume this version of THE STEVE ALLEN SHOW was a flop (channel 33 carried it here starting in the autumn of '63, though by the spring of '64 it had been replaced by HAWAIIAN EYE reruns), but then again did Group W have any hits outside of Mike Douglas? Getting back on subject, these numbuhs are very much boss pre-hippie hipster spoof featuring that smart yet not sophisticado Allen humor. Crack up over "I've Left My Nose in San Diego" and "How's Your Sister" (where Allen's classic "schmaa! schmaa!" catchphrase is once again trotted out). Even the instrumentals have a boss cool to 'em that remind me of my turdler years traveling with my dad in the '62 Pontiac as the kind of instrumental music he liked intermingled with the mop top slop making for a gulcheral battle that would be played out for years. And to think I was actually alive when hot flash like this was part and parcel to the suburban slob way of life!
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Various Artists-BEWARE OF THE TWO-STEP SPARROW CD-r (via Bill Shute)

Bill balances the cornballus with the cool on this one. The c&w from Johnny Bush does about as much for me as PLAYBOY AFTER DARK did for the local head of the Clean Minds Committee, while Teen Jones' "I'll Never Change" comes closer to the idea Aunt Flabby had as to what teenage music should sound like rather'n ours. However, some familiar trackage from the Lincoln Street Exit and Screamin' Jay Hawkins (courtesy the ITTY BITTY PRETTY ONE album) help set things in proper perspective. Emitt Rhodes contributes some of his late-sixties sunshine pop which is always a nice change of pace, while the surprise of the batch just has to be "Seasons in the Sun"'s Terry Jack's double-entendre turdster "Put The Bone In" which I know woulda had the kids chortlin' in the "My Girl Bill" vein had this made it to the charts! And if that ain't enough for you there's always the theme from THE THIRD MAN done by what sounds like some midwest ethno types who work in the restaurant business as well as a high-larious cover of the Stones' "Lady Jane" sung incredibly off-key!
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RAZORLEGS CD (available via Andrew Hurst)

With a name like Razorlegs I thought this was gonna be some sorta ad for the Nair people...y'know, why have hairy legs that give away your ethnicity? Turns out this is some hot collaboration between noisemen proud Andrew Hurst and P. D. Fadensonnen, and it's the same hot stuff you would have expected dished out with an even more vital fervor. Heavy electronic sounds done up in that warm drone way we all love, with the appearance of a stylophone that's bound to give Rolf Harris let alone David Bowie nightmares. Some of the more free jazz sax/percussion/blare tracks remind me of Alan Sondheim outtakes. Yet another surprise that nobody's gonna hear because...who reads this blog anyway???
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LATE BEATLE-DAY UPDATE!...just before going to press (and approximately fifty years to the minute I tasted the original concoction),  I downed a huge bowl of a Cap'n Crunch with Crunchberries knockoff, an inexpensive alternative that is being pushed by the Malt-O-Meal folk which I will still admit is a pretty tasty suppertime treat if I do say so myself. Other'n that this is gonna be about as far as I go paying homage to a day that probably did more for my kiddie kulinary tastes than it did for my musical growth, and for some maybe not-so-strange reason I feel like I've paid homage to my roots in the right and proper manner. And it is nice to know that in fifty years my father's opinions regarding the Beatles have not changed one iota---glad to see some vestiges of mid-twentieth century tastes and values still exist even in these particularly glum times!

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