Saturday, September 13, 2014

Life for me has been akin to a gerbil winding his way through one of those dark, dank and mysterious San Franciscan labyrinths after the tether broke, but sometimes a few curveballs can be tossed my rather sorrowful way. Curveballs that'll give me that ol' neato surprise that I've been craving ever since the Big Beat took a humongous fall way back inna late-sixties, or was it early-eighties? And thankfully (due to the keen workage of one P. D. Fadensonnen) I got a nice trio of said balls tossed my way in the form of some killer Cee-Dee-Ares which lay down to aluminum some of the racket that had been produced by the reunited legendary "cannon fodder" (copyright Anastasia Pantsios) group Mirrors over the past year or so! And true, I might have had a tad bit of trepidation (a word I've been overusing these past few posts, and with good reason!) wanting to hear the musings of a batch of sixty-plus guys trying to either relive past glories, but since the only other option I had for cheap thrills this evening was stare at my nude body in the bathroom mirror I figured that maybe I should go the least sickening route for once.

Obviously I did make the better choice, because the reformed Mirrors here in 2014, alive and kicking as if the past forty years was just...well...more cold storage are shall I say THE MOST KNOCK-OUT HARD ROCK FUZZ THRILL HIGH-ENERGY ROMP I'VE HEARD IN AGES!!! Rilly, I didn't think that anybody could revive the long rotting corpse of seventies underground rock successfully but Mirrors certainly do on this trio of platters which come off like a three-way asteroid collision of Stooges, Pink Fairies and Can proportions splattering rock-hard shards of atonal pleasure upon the masses. After surviving the sensory-overload of these recordings I am speechless, and as close associates can tell you there's hardly a moment in this life of mine when I ever am!

First on the list...WRUW STUDIO-A-RAMA 2013, live at Mather Courtyard at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. The grand return and wotta return it is what with 4/5th of the original group and who knows what else proceeding to blast a few braincells with their rock in overdrive approach. From the opening "She Smiled Wild" (unfortunately missing the fantastic psychedelic extended guitar passage but wha' th' hey) to the set closer "God Sells" (a recent addition to Mirrors' set that  had been recorded under proper conditions a few days earlier) Jamie Klimek and company overload the digital phones and whatever else was used to record this, sounding as if ten Blue Cheers were playing simultaneously wiping out every microphone and headset in the process. The overbearing distortion always lends the proper "ambiance" to this kind of performance (which makes WHITE LIGHT/WHITE HEAT come off like one of those 24-bit remastered albums so in vogue in the late-seventies), and frankly I'll give a listen to Mirrors even if they were recorded on wax cylinder since their energy and might is bound to overcome whatever technology is stacked up against it.

The Beachland Ballroom show from this Janvier might lose something considering the sound quality does reach a more respectable standard...about the same quality as one of those live Mirrors tapes from the old Clockwork Orange days that've been floating around for years...but I ain't complainin'. It's nothing that would have gotten any of those old time STEREO REVIEW creeps palpatatin' but you can make out the melodies and vocals a whole lot easier if it does matter to ya. (But then again I rate METALLIC KO as a recording masterpiece and even find the debut Siouxsie and the Banshees performance at the 100 Club just the right quality for a recording of this stature.)  The overall performance is akin to the group during their mid-seventies romp upon the terrain, and the revival of Mirrors melodies unheard since the group's '75 breakup (including the boffo cover of the Captain Lockheed classic "Ejection") really does infuse a whole load of long-decayed rock forms into a world that has been needing 'em ever since Max's Kansas City closed up shop! I gotta admit that the two additional guitarists (including one-time Styrene Money Band member David Franduto, a guy who I thought looked more like Lenny Kaye than Lenny Kaye did when I saw him live) adds even more tension to the already unbelievable Mirrors sound.  The effect of the three lead guitars weaving about on "I Saw You" is enough to drive you to sanity. Brilliant move on your part Mssr. Klimek!

A li'l over a month later Mirrors were back at the Beachland Ballroom for a Lou Reed birthday celebration bash, and although Lou was nowhere to be seen his spirit surely moved through the band's entire set since all they did that night was play nothin' but Velvet Underground songs! And hey, I gotta say that it's sure great hearing Velvet Underground songs done up in the here and now that aren't being performed by overly-pierced gals with tattoos galore and a body odor that could overpower a dungpile. Klimek and his guitar onslaught performing old VU songs that hadn't yet been vinylized until the eighties really is a earful to behold, and it's even fabber hearing their version of the legendary "Sweet Sister Ray" with that multi-guitar drone cum lead entanglement that weaves its way in and outside of your psyche like nothing since PARADIESWARTS DUUL, a Velvets-stoner classic in itself. The best of the sixties filtered through a seventies consciousness being presented in the teens, a time when I thought that I was the only idiot out there standing against a bulwark of subpar sputum screaming at the top of my lungs LISTEN TO THIS BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE, AND IT ALREADY IS YOU TURDBURGERS!!!!

What's even better about these new slabs of live energy is Klimek's between-song banter. If you can believe it (and why not?), the guy sounds really glad to be up on stage again, this time playing to an audience (and maybe even world) that finally caught up with him after all those years of bitter loathing. (Heck, ol' Anastasia Pantsios herself is now on-board as a Mirrors maniac and although she's been claiming to have been a front and center fan for years [???] it just goes to show you just how much of a bandwagon jumper on the dame can be when it suits her own purposes!) Rock fans like you 'n me who are appreciative of not only Klimek but Jim Crook, Craig Bell etc. can at least be glad that finally they're gonna get their just dues, and although it took a pretty long time well...they say revenge is sweet, and nothing really could be sweeter'n being recognized by the same idiots who wrote you off long ago! Now it's HIP to love those long drones even though you readers knew that all along, eh?

Once again a hearty muchos gracias to P.D. Fadensonnen for the burns, and if you too want to hear some of the better rock 'n roll that's being made today (not to mention the best releases of the year that haven't even been released properly!) go to youtube, gather all of the videos in question, and burn 'em onto a Cee Dee yourself! Or do what luddite me did and have someone do it for ya! Either way you're gonna experience some music that at least gets me up and goin' in a world that does its best to put a damper on everything and anything I like and believe, and in this day and age it's sure a cleansing experience listening to Mirrors whether it be in their original form or the new and expanded edition. And you just know these'll make a great teaser for the upcoming release and when's the battle of the bands between 'em, Figures of Light, Simply Saucer and even the Imperial Dogs (and Umela Hmota if they can make it!) gonna transpire anyway???? Oh so many loose ends that need tied up before it's too late!!!!!
Now that I finally got the latest bitta hot off the presses nooze outta the way, lemme say welcome to the latest Blog to Commpost! Gotta say that I've been feeling a little better this week, perhaps due to the arrival of the above platters as well as some (if not all) of the ones reviewed below. A hearty thanks to everyone who contributed those burns like Bill Shute, Paul McGarry, Bob Fo'ward and of course P.D. Fadensonnen himself. Also thanks to me for being able to hold down a job so I can at least afford a few of the recordings that I scarfed up via the usual sources. Anyway I got some pretty nice newies as well as some oldies that'll curl your straighties and since I know you're just champing at the bit to read about 'em all, so without further ado...

Lou Reed-EARLY LOU, PRE VELVET UNDERGROUND RECORDINGS 1958-1965 LP (Andy Records, Germany, available from Forced Exposure)

When Lou Reed finally thanked God that he just couldn't care didn't you think that the floodgates of unreleased Velvet Underground recordings were gonna come rushin' their way to our doorstep faster'n you could say "tai kai ko"??? Me too, and although it's been a good year since the guy departed this mortal coil for alleyways unknown STILL we haven't gotten a proper send off in the form of rare archival recordings for the guy. Well, at least other'n this thing which ain't exactly gonna get you bustin' into your piggybank to send for, but it still serves its purpose which is why I'll give it credit where credit is do, savvy?

You've heard most of it already and for years on end from the Jades single to that Lewis Reed demo which had him ridin' the early-sixties well-groomed boy singer merry-go-round, but you haven't heard 'em sound as good as they do here! Well, I gotta say that the rare "Intimates" version of "I've Got a Tiger in My Tank" with the overdubbed roars does sound a bit muddy, but otherwise these tracks have got that sparkling early-sixties Hi-Fi sound that made sneaking into your dad's den to spin your Rolling Stones albums so fun. And it's sure nice having these rarities (including the Donnie Brooks version of "Why Don't You Smile Now" which I've never lent ear to) gathered in one place 'stead of spread out on a variety of albums and tapes you've gathered over the years.

One big surprise in the batch is the inclusion of that Lou Reed "Heroin" demo that Ritchie Unterberger told us about years back but had yet to surface until now. Recorded at the Pickwick studios of all places, Reed's Dylan fixation is in full form here as he folksies this favorite up the way any broken-tooth wannabe troubadour from Hibbling Minnesota woulda done it. Not only that, but the end results are as soul-wrenching as Lou's best to the point where you wanna hear alla 'em Falling Spikes and Warlocks tapes languishing in John Cale's mineshaft which only makes me wonder why the people at Polydor are dragging their feet the way they are!

This one's also got a typically nice Europeen-styled sturdy collectors sleeve as well, and the liner notes from one "Doctor Rawk" do lend me to believe that perhaps thee Lenny Kaye himself wrote 'em. To which I say "HEY LENNY, IF YOU'RE SO KEEN ON PRESERVING THE ROCK 'N ROLL PAST LIKE YOU THINK, HOWZBOUT RELEASING A MAN RAY ALBUM OR TWO?????" Really, I've been waiting for it for quite awhile, and although it ain't gonna be the 1976 bargain bin/flea market platter find I so hoped it woulda been at least you can help warm out that oft-unlit pilot light in my rockist soul by making those recordings public!
Crime-MURDER BY GUITAR CD-r burn (originally on Superior Viaduct)

I'm sure glad that this collection of rare slabs by the infamous San Franciscan punk rock group Crime came out (actually, I'm more'n glad that Bob Fo'ward sent it to me so's I wouldn't have to dish out any hard-begged for it), because if there's anything that we need in the here and now is more there and then! Fantastico rumblings on these late-seventies sides that really show that there was more to SF than then hippoid dreams that ROLLING STONE tried to keep alive for ages. The roaring onslaught of these tracks (which tastefully squoosh various mid-sixties punkisms and then-current trends together) definitely make for a tasty main course music meal that'll have you begging for seconds (and there are---another Crime Cee-Dee's worth of demos is also available if you act fast!). Not surprisingly I can even hear a load of early (and even mid)-seventies Flamin' Groovies influences in Crime's musical make up, something which doesn't surprise me a bit not only because both acts spurted forth from the same location but because they even shared a member, none other'n Lost and Found-era bass guitarist Ron Greco.
The Muffs-WHOOP DEE DOO CD-r burn (originally on Burger)

Sheesh, didn't know that the Muffs were still around. I'm sure they're all greying by now, but these once-lassies sure do sound as poppy punk fresh as I'm sure they did around the time they first met up with Mr. Massengill. This has got some rather nice Beatle-swipes that'll warm the hearts of you oldsters who'd like to know that the music of fifty years past still resonates this far down  the line, and its also got a good production and performance which make this 'un the spiritual heir to alla that Kim Fowley-hyped new girl group huzzah that was going around in the pages of BOMP! back in the mid-seventies. But if I ever listen to this 'un again it's gonna be because I'm on a deserted island and the only other platter that's washed ashore is Cliff Richard's LET US PREY, LIVE AT THE BILLY GRAHAM REVIVAL (though if you ask me, the entire story seems like a cheap ploy to scam loads of moolah outta the once-huge singing sensation...even if the stories "have" been flying around for years!).
Ned Lagin-SEASTONES cassette (Ryko)

My mention of this Grateful Dead-related rarity in my review of the Plunderphonic'd "Dark Star" two weeks back NATURALLY had me scouring ebay to scoop up another copy of this oft-ignored side project, dedicated sufferer that I am. However, after giving the thing a few scrutinizing spins I figured that hey, maybe SEASTONES wasn't as turdly as I remembered it to be back during my shoulda-been-misspent-better teenage years. True it has the usual tinges of burnout "haughtiness" that you would expect from these things, but at least the vocals of guests Gracie Slick and David Freiberg are modulated to the point where they're unrecognizable and Jerry Garcia doesn't take up the entire platter doing one of his "cosmic" guitar solos that you have to smoke the same Persian heroin he indulged in to appreciate.

In fact, even though the credits make this out to be yet another one of those Dead spinoff projects (Lagin on keyboards and electronics, Garcia on guitar, Phil Lesh on bass guitar, Mickey Hart and Spencer Dryden on percussion, David Crosby on twelve-string guitar and of course the Jefferson Airplane vocal choir) which'll conjure up many images of hippies jamming on the front porch, there's hardly a noticeable beat nor any discernible rock music (no matter how spacey it may be) to be found anywhere in this project. In fact this album glops and slithers like just about any New Music Distribution Service offering you would have found at the same time SEASTONES hit the racks, and by the eighties just about any college kid with the right amount of tape and access to a sewing machine could've created music to equal it on just about every level. All I gotta say is I can just see alla the remnants of the unwashed sixties social experiment slapping down their Boone's Farm money for this, truckin' on home and discovering that even with a copious offering of whatever mind-stimulation might be, this music sucks!

But I can enjoy this one even without the additional inspiration if only because 1) this does not sound like a Grateful Dead exercise in hippie excess and 2) the music does sound like real classical avant garde instead of youth culture whackoff. It's nothing that really rates with the actual works of the leaders in electronic computer music, but at least on a suburban slob level SEASTONES is akin to the likes of Stockhausen what the Stooges ca. FUNHOUSE and STARSAILOR-era Tim Buckley were to the likes of Ornette Coleman.

The '90 Ryko edition features a bonus, mainly a later-on version (in six as opposed to nine parts) recorded a few months after the original session that varies enough to rate a mention, even featuring (in part one) this weird synthesizer/string passage that recalls none other than something the reformed Faust easily could have whipped up on one of their many releases! Maybe because of this strange fact that I don't find SEASTONES the steaming pile of hippie turd that I thought it was upon my first spin oh-so long ago, even if the presence of San Francisco's finest does add a certain taint that still has people conjuring up all sorts of strange, huggabunch images in their minds.
New Cat's Pajamas-CBGB 1974 CD-r burn (courtesy P. D. Fadensonnen)

I thought I'd give this very-early CBGB-era band (so early that they broke up before THE VILLAGE VOICE began accepting ads from Hilly Kristal again) a try, especially considering how they billed themselves as a "free blues jazz avant rock garde" act which is something that certainly tickles my tootsies! At first I wasn't that impressed with what I heard, but subsequent spins had me thinking this was some mighty good fusion-type rock that was closer to the likes of Good God rather than John McLaughlin's Shakti. Intense and dare-I-say even exhilarating at times. Kinda wonder whatever happened to 'em anyhow, and if you're interested in hearing what these "scene pioneers" sounded like you too can go to youtube and scarf these three tracks up for practically nada!
Various Artists-TALLAHASSEE MADISON EARTHQUAKE CD-r burn (via Bill Shute)

Another one of the Bill Shute grab-bags filled with alla that music he's gonna play day after day once he retires and has nothing else to do! Naturally Bill slipped some of his favorite country stuff on here (Herb Gale and Red Foley) not to mention some South of the Boudoir spice ("Ponchita") as well as the mid-sixties mayhem I remember listening to via other people's radios (Paul Revere and the Raiders doing "BFDRF Blues" which I assume stands for "Being Friendly Daily Returns Favors"). Of course Bill just hadda slip in an instrumental schmoozer like Eddie Harris' "Alicia" into the stew but hey, I guess there just ain't no accounting for taste anymo'! And being the most tasteless guy on the planet I should know!

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