Wednesday, December 31, 2014

BEST (or something like that) OF 2014!

Well whaddaya know! 2014 wasn't that bad of a year at all, at least compared with some of the dudsville ones we've been encountering ever since the death of rock 'n roll as a viable source of jamz inna early eighties. Yeah, the Big Beat did not make a triumphant return and life in general got even more degenerate than it was in 2013 (and forget the tee-vee situation which is pretty much nada unless you can pull in a station airing nothing but fifties/sixties classix), but there were more'n a few releases that came out that made the act of existing (if not living) a little more palatable and hey, I really didn't feel like 86-ing myself or even hiding under the bed given that there were some interesting recordings making their way to my door that were worth sticking around for. Hopefully 2015 will continue on the trend even if for all intent purposes rock 'n roll is the new Bix Beiderbecke firehouse gang band playing for the PBS cameras, but at least when we age we really know how to ruminate!

And so here's the best of the past orbit IMHO and all that which I know you will disagree with, but then again what else is old under the sun. Sorry that none of the chart toppers this time belong to any of those patented and precocious critics choice faves that I quit paying attention to a good thirtysome years back, but then again you all know what kind of a genre-smashing maverick I have been, am and will remain and like, why expect otherwise?


ALBUM OF THE YEAR!-TECHNICOLOR SKULL! Who would have thought that the best music to have been made this year (or the previous years prior) would have been created by none other than Kenneth Anger? One of the most incredible electronic storms I've heard in ages, and it puts all of those SOUND CHOICE cassette culture bedroom practitioners I've heard over the past few decades who thought they were creating music to smash the spheres to utter shame!
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SINGLE OF THE YEAR!-Simply Saucer's "Bulletproof Nothing" double-sided wowzer (c/o The Mammoth Cave Recording Company). Is this one archival though? Oh wha' th' hey...
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CD OF THE YEAR!-PD 5
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LIVE CD OF THE YEAR!-Figures of Light's FEEDBACK MUSIC, a re-creation of the group's legendary concert where they set their guitars on ten, leaned them against the amps and stepped back to enjoy some Metal Machine Music just like the Velvet Underground did in San Francisco way back in 1966! Yeah it ain't the actual live show, but then again how much studio finagling went into some of YOUR fave live albums of all time!?!?!?!
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BOOTLEG OF THE YEAR!-AGENTS OF MISFORTUNE which might not exactly be a bootleg in the Rubber Dubber sense but it sure looks illegal enough for my tastes! Cliff Burton with his pre-Metallica trio live at some 1981 Battle of the Bands probably stymieing the audience who think they're gonna be in for yet another Van Halen tribute band. And don't you think it's strange/telling that both the LP and bootleg of the year are one-sided affairs which only goes to prove that if you can say it all in twenty 'stead of forty minutes why bog the listener down with extraneous crap?
***
ARCHIVAL CD OF THE YEAR-Pip Proud's A FRAYING SPACE is definitely one of if not thee top reissues on the planet these past 365, and in a year of a whole load of powerful worthies that's not just idle mouthflap!
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ARCHIVAL LP OF THE YEAR-Ex-Blank-Ex's X-STICKY FINGERS-X which is about twenny/thirtysome years overdue, but at least those obscure rarities are finally available to those who missed out the first time. Well, at least these are (were?) available to the scant few who were able to gobble up this 500-only impossible to find album back during the few seconds the thing was out on the market (right!).
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ARCHIVAL EP OF THE YEAR!-Vom LIVE AT SURF CITY.
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ARCHIVAL SINGLE OF THE YEAR!-the LOOSE HEART release on Danger Records (France), concrete proof that not only were the French a whole lot more serious about underground rock 'n roll than us Amerigans but they could play it just as well! Considering the groundswell of talent that was coming out in the mid-seventies, too bad there couldn't have been some international punk rock festival pre-Mount de Marsan with groups like Loose Heart along with Umela Hmotas 2 and 3, Rocket From the Tombs and the Electric Eels amid many other worthies. Well, we can always have a good dream about it tonight, right? (I sure will!)
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JAZZ RECORDING OF THE YEAR!-THE JIMMY GIUFFRE 3&4 NEW YORK CONCERTS (Elemental)
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BEST POST OF THE YEAR!-Undoubtedly the Stuart's Hammer piece that popped up last August, a fitting piece on a neglected act if I do say so myself. Close #2---the P.D. FADENSONNEN interview!
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FORGOTTEN FAVE OF THE YEAR!-JUMP (Kismet) with future Stooges/New Order/Tom Petty/Jackson Browne/Bonnie Raitt... keyboardist Scott Thurston and the rest of the band doing a good enough El Lay Doors-ish cum KILL CITY rock that won't make you vomit. In fact it might make you feel uplifted more'n an entire cartload of living bras because of its energy and snide pop moves that seemed in such short supply back when this album was released in 1971. And the thing originally came out on Janus Records of all labels, can you beat that???
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THE WELCOME BACK (I think!) AWARD!-THE PLANETEERS (ex-Man-ster).
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BIGGEST SURPRISE OF THE YEAR!-The Mirrors CD-r burns that Fadensonnen made for me...still bedside spins all these months later!
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TEASE OF THE YEAR!-the Magic Tramps sampler of material that hopefully will come out shortly but don't bet on it.
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VIDEO OF THE YEAR!-Geofrey Crozier and the Indian Medicine Magik Show! This is what I watch when I want to get some rock 'n roll inspiration flowing in my veins as well as other vital organs. When's the album coming out (heck, I'd even settle for a burnt CD of this and other early Crozier performances let alone its appearance on some BONEHEAD CRUNCHERS-type compilation!)???


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BOOK OF THE YEAR (ROCK 'N ROLL DIVISION)!-Mick Farren's ELVIS DIED FOR SOMEBODY'S SINS BUT NOT MINE which yeah is a good three years old but the ONLY new rock 'n roll book I've read this year so it's like I have little choice. Some good, some blah and of course the politics don't settle well especially if you disagree, but who else was continuing on in that classic speak to you punkoid rock writers fashion this late in the game. Now that Bangs and Farren are dead and Meltzer is for all intent purposes comatose, I guess all that we have left to read as far as rock 'n roll as a force of danger to be reckoned with is me...
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BOOK OF THE YEAR (SECULAR DIVISION)!-NANCY LOVES SLUGGO! The recent ARCHIE collection oughta fit in here as well. RAY AND JOE too.
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MOOM PITCHER OF THE YEAR!-RAIDERS FROM BENEATH THE SEA, a cinematic wigout par excellence!
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DEATH OF THE YEAR!-Paul Revere.
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HERO OF THE YEAR!-like I told you back in May, Elliot Rodger! And I'm sure you all forgot who the guy was by now, right? Close runner up...Gavin McInnes, for getting fired because he wrote some things that might possibly have hurt people's feelings and you just can't do that anymore...unless you're writing for a big city Democratic Party-hyping paper that has that God Given Right to offend people who just don't tow the line. And don't you just know it, you sniveling hard-working ethnic Catholics and Southern Agrarian types you! Yeah the guy has been sucking up to Sean Hannity, but I guess that's only because he wants his own news show and well, who can blame him in these felch-specific times?
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BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT OF THE YEAR!-The DENIM DELINQUENT collection didn't come out.


Anyhow. see you like uh, next year!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Here are just a scant few items of the (mostly) long-playing variety that I tossed onto the ol' Victrola these past 365 or so days. Being the sorta fanabla that I am I thought these particular entries into the BLOG TO COMM sphere o' things warranted a mention even if they may have been lingering in the collection for nigh on thirtysome years. Or for that matter even if they'd cohere better scatted amidst reviews of
"fresher" releases than they would lumped up in one soggy post. Well, it seemed like a good idea last January when I started to crank these "Rock-A-Rama"-styled writeups but who knows, a year-end post featuring nothing but platters that may or may not have been collecting dust inna basement or just seemed too OBVIOUS to review elsewhere might end up being a yearly tradition if this one pans out! But somehow I hope it doesn't (tradition sucks, good old ideas that still work rule!)


THORINSHIELD LP (Philips)

This one may not be on the Nurse With Wound list but it's certainly on the Mirrors one which is why I slapped this one on the turntable faster'n you can sing "Wyoming"! Thankfully THORINSHIELD isn't the sunshine and rainbows pop many of us thought it would have been, what with the downright intense underlying boffo feeling that separates it from the reams of SoCal post-surf pop this sometimes gets corralled in with. The strings fit in fine (no glycerin here!) and the performance is in that style of deviant pop rock which will not only curl the locks of that ironed hair gal who fancied herself a local variation on Jane Asher, but will sate the class turdball in all of us. A forgotten surprise that I understand ex-Mothers/Rhinoceros drummer Billy Mundi was involved with, but can you trust everything you read on the internet now, can you?
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SADISTIC MIKA BAND LP (Harvest)

This is the US version consisting of tracks from a number of English Sadistic Mika Band albums which I always assumed were cut ups of the original Japanese issues in the first place. Chock full to the brim with that mid-seventies groove which brings out the best Roxyisms this group could muster up, SADISTIC MIKA BAND squeezes out of its grooves plenty of ennui over lost chances at love/lot/life that will be sure rise to the surface of your repressed teenage psyche like scum in the tub. Refined Asian prog pop glam that's sure to appeal to the Roxy/Sparks/Jet fans who thankfully still recall 1974 in terms of decadent flash 'stead of post-Viet hippie whole wheat front porch jams. (For an earlier Sadistic Mika Band appreciation of mine howzbout clicking here, not that you're exactly going to discover anything life-reaffirming or spiritually cleansing. But you just might...)
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Iggy Pop and James Williamson-KILL CITY LP (Bomp!)

Ain't heard the recent "refined" version of this album that Bomp! has been hawking the past few years, but the original green vinyl version with that third-generation sound really does decadent wonders for me Brings back all of those memories of hanging out at Rodney's English Disco and the parking lot of the Whisky that never even happened to me in the first place. And although I must tell you than upon first listening I really didn't cozy up to the horns and obviously El Lay production methods nowadays KILL CITY sounds a whole lot more refreshing than much of the solo Iggy quap that graced my ears throughout the eighties. And y'know, in many ways this comes off like the best deca-teenage sleaze platter to come outta Southern California since the Jump album...hmmmmmm, I wonder why???????
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Philip Glass-MUSIC IN TWELVE PARTS PARTS 1&2 LP (Caroline Italy)

Having just listened to the three-Cee-Dee collection of MUSIC IN TWELVE PARTS in its entirety, I eventually discovered that my memory did serve me right this time when I couldn't help but think that the composition's vinyl debut (which used to be a high-priced import bin stuffer back inna late-seventies) was not only executed properly but sounded so superior to the complete take. The original Glass ensemble (why did Joan LaBarbara leave anyhow???) not only knew how to perform their material as if not a bunch of New Age robots, but the warm analog sound is generally fuller and fluid, way more enveloping than the comparatively cyborg new version that does show the limitations of digital to the point of embarrassment. After listening to this, one would think that this description with all the Sam the Sham and Velvet Underground name-drops must have been rather astute now, because I sure do.
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BIG BROTHER AND THE HOLDING COMPANY LP (Sundazed)

Fairly recent reish of the class Mainstream album that most Janis fans claim to hate even if this one continues to sell all these years later. True the renditions of soon-to-be familiar tuneage just don't seem to have the same drive as the gunch that appears not only on the various Janis collections that came out in the wake of her death but a slew of bootlegs, but they sure represent the energy and spirit of San Franciscan ballroom rock about as well as the Oxford Circle or Daily Flash could. Brings out a real '66 feeling to it that reverberates the Vejtables or even Beau Brummels in a way most local recordings afterwards never could, and the blaring drive of such unforgettables as "Light is Faster Than Sound", "Coo Coo" and "The Intruder" will make you forget about those admittedly cornball numbers that never did rub you the right way.
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Kim Fowley-I'M BAD LP (Vinylissimo, England)

As far as for making a try for the whacked out Alice Cooper/Stooges market, I'd say that Fowley gave it at least a "C+" try. His vocals sounds like the halfway mark between Iggy and Reg Presley while the band, bless their hearts, just come off too conga line instead of prime feral like you hoped they would've. Still a classic example of early-seventies toss out rock that used to get bin-strolling slobs like myself such adolescent throb thrills wondering what sorta chicanery was going to transpire between those rather decadent grooves!
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AME Son-CATALYSE CD (Spalax France)

I did mention that this album was worthy of reappraisal and now that I have heard it all I feel like muttering is...boy was this a boring platter. Post-Soft Machine Gallic groping from some typical eurohipsters who do the usual rock jam here and jazz toss in there, and it all comes out so sterile even if you get the idea this group collectively stank to high heaven (I mean, I've heard about hygiene conditions in Europe and they ain't the same as they are here!). Some ear squinting is in order if you want to make this at least halfway palatable, but otherwise you're gonna be in for a sorry 45 minutes of your life.
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UFO-PHENOMENON, FORCE IT LPs (Chrysalis)

Not that all offensive even if I sure do miss the primitive thud of their first three. Not as heavy metal as I thought they were going to be, although Phil Mogg still proves to all of us that he's to Robert Plant what Robert Gordon was to Elvis. Still, one could say that a huge error had been made by substituting Mick Bolton's Ron Asheton chording for Michael Schenker's comparatively smooth lines. (And while you're peeking, did you know that the models on the cover of FORCE IT were none other than Cosey Fanni Tutti and Genesis P, Orridge, the latter still coming with his original gear tactfully in place?)
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Tim Buckley-GOODBYE AND HELLO LP (Four Men With Beards)

Despite the typical '67 overproduction the folk rock styling peeps through loudly and clearly enough for me to appreciate. Not as adventurous as those avant garde jazz excursions that turned off alla those rockcrit prissies who couldn't stand Buckley's Coltranish side, yet far from the steaming pile of glop that many of these folkie traipses became during the years of earnest angst. Basically this one reminds me of none other than Judy Collins, if she were only lucky enough to grow a pair of balls.
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The Move-CALIFORNIA MAN LP (Harvest England)

This's got most of MESSAGE FROM THE COUNTRY along with a few single sides to pad it out (after all, weren't the Move on EMI for only a few nanoseconds before morphing into ELO?). It's still a tuff collection for those of you who still have a soft spot in your heart for the group's post-Beatles gush that Alan Betrock and Greg Shaw saw as hope for the future of rock 'n roll. Of course things eventually turned out quite different, but at least you can give a listen to this and the Fly-era recordings whilst conjuring up your own fantasies of what a bright and straight ahead seventies AM scene we coulda had if only Misters Lynne, Wood and Bevan had ditched those damned cellos!
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Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band-LICK MY DECALS OFF BABY, CLEAR SPOT LPs (Straight/Reprise)

I know, how couldja follow up an effort like TROUT MASK REPLICA anyway! Very carefully, and that's just how Mr. Van Vliet and band did it on a platter that, along with FUNHOUSE, FLAMINGO and THE MAN WHO SOLD THE WORLD (and where does PARANOID fit in?) stands as a testimonial to the power and energy that rock in 1970 shoulda been only the kids were too busy getting knee-deep into whole grain consciousness to bother.  '72's CLEAR SPOT shows the creeping commercialism that would gag Beef's old fans once the guy moved over to Mercury/Virgin, but it still swings swell even though you can just hear producer Ted Templeman wishing and hoping he'd have a Doobie Brothers West Coast chartstormer with this 'un. Nice sun zoom spark to these brighties that sure dredges up loads of fun teenbo memories of pouring through used record store bins and flea market stacks for albums I thought I'd never be able to hear in my entire pitted butt lifetime.
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GOD BLESS TINY TIM CD (Now Sounds, England)

I guess that old turd who for some reason or another shouted "YA LOOKIN' FOR THIS ONE???" at me while we were plowing through a huge pile of flea market albums was right all along! An engrossing, varied and important to your own late-sixties musical understanding as the "serious" stuff album, and I mean it wholeheartedly. Richard Perry's production adds to the Tim legacy w/o coming off too nostalgic, while the selection of olde tymey chestnuts mixed with fresh off the production line popsters makes for an album that I know woulda turned off your Unca Ferd as well as that faux hippoid cousin of yours, but so what! Nowadays it sure seems more real than either the Moms and Dads as well as the San Francisco scam, and that's the &$%#@* truth!
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The Fall-DRAGNET CD (Castle Communications, England)

Sheesh, I thought this was going to be an album about the adventures of Joe Friday and the LAPD, but it turns out only to be the second long player by that group that keeps changing its membership 'cept for singer Mark E. Smith. As far as late-seventies primitive poundings go this is just as good as I remembered this stuff to be before 1982 rolled in, but sheesh do the Fall sound like 1) a group that spawned a whole bunch of imitators/emulators who really don't hold up to the original thrust of it all and 2) a group beloved by a vast array of puton underground snob elitists who hate my guts which are two strikes against 'em in my book! Too bad, because their monotony really seems like unbridled genius in the best repeato-riff rockist way imaginable.
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Family-MUSIC IN A DOLL'S HOUSE, ENTERTAINMENT LPs (Reprise)

Although I was really impressed with the packaging to their BANDSTAND album, I never gave Family (or Roger Chapman's followup project Streetwalkers) much of a to do for obvious anti-prog rock reasons. Not one shrunken head or gimmick in their packaging, but maybe I did have my curiosity piqued by Chapman's name-drop on the back cover of the debut Tin Huey EP along with other well-placed references in my cranium. Now that I finally get to hear this group after years of indifference all I gotta say is it's REALLY hard to figure out just how this aggro could appeal to people I thought had a tighter fit on their noggins. Yeah there are some good hard approaches here and late-sixties Harvest Records-styled British art rock there, but overall neither of these platters sate the way the more instipunk groups of the same stratum could on initial impact. A struggle to make it through both of 'em, really.
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Ultravox!-HA! HA! HA! LP (Island)

Sounds a whole lot like what I sure woulda wanted the reams of seventies Roxy Music-inspired electronic art rockers to have enulated, though when one really puts their ear to it this sure does remind me of what a whole load of bad eighties rock was eventually gonna sound like. Can't hold it against any of 'em, though I get the feeling that listening through both Jon Foxx's solo and Ultravox's entire 80s/90s output would be enough to drive me to the loony bin. At least when this sophomore spinner arrived on the scene there weren't any rock videos or deeply inbred stylistic gunch to ruin the cathartic experience, and listening to it with late-seventies ears intact really does help bring back fond memories of an older, more adventurous rock 'n roll time.
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The Kinks-FACE TO FACE, ARTHUR LPs (Reprise)

Yeah I like the Kinks but I never really loved 'em. Perhaps their popularity (amongst the sleeker-than-thou crowd) did that in and. maybe I shoulda known better, but then again I do have my pride and besides listening to the Kinks would always remind me of these walking abortions anyway! There are more' a few things I just can't get outta my mind I'll tell ya.

But then again I got hold of these two platters and decided maybe that the Kinks were worth my liking, but loving woulda been a little too much to ask of me. '66's FACE TO FACE shows that even though the band was moving towards their Victorian-influenced "Golden Age" they still had that mid-sixties British Invasion mop top appeal firmly in place. Still rocks pretty hard (which is the name o' the game Patrick A.) and the decadent rich aspect ain't as gagging as I always believed it to be!

ARTHUR's more sophisticado but still sports a bright if downright MEAN pop rock streak that sure sounds more representative of what 1968 shoulda been 'n "Hey Jude"! Still I can't bring myself to throwing my heart 'n soul full thrust into total Kinkdom...maybe if I thought more about Jymn Parrett and less of Jay Hinman while listening to 'em I'd get over my prejudices. But I doubt it!
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DMZ LP (Sire)

Upon first listen my opinions regarding this 'un were about on par with those of many a brethren, that DMZ was a good album but not anything fantab or perennial turntable spinnable like their Bomp! releases. Well, thankfully times have changed, at least to the point where I find that Mono Man Connolly's debut major label effort is a down-right Great Amerigan Album classic up there with the first Dictators and the Droogs' KINGDOM DAY. Really succeeded as far as delivering on them high-energy hard rock knocks during a time when teenbo USA really couldn't give two winks. Flo and Eddie really capture the group's essence of ranch house suburban messy basement fun and jamz more than most would give credit, and the selection of originals and boffo covers make this the true spawn of NUGGETS custom made for a youthdom that wasn't gonna let John Travolta speak for their bubbling under needs! One for the cut out bin in the vast reaches of your mind.
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AEROSMITH LP (Columbia)

When you filter in the early-seventies heavy metal quotient via the neo-Stoogian/Dolls equation with a tad bit of the Max's Kansas City credo, it does sound nice enough. Just edit out the Chuck Eddy cum Andy Secher aspects of stoner allegiance and it'll go down rather smoothly, as long as you read pertinent articles and reviews originally featured in DENIM DELINQUENT and HYPE(RION) while givin' it a spin. Coulda been better, but when the dope and egos took over it got way worse so count your blessings.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

BOOK REVIEW! THE GAP by Richard Lorber and Ernest Fladell (Signet, 1968)

What happens when a raggedy radical-type college student and his 42-year-old adman uncle get together and dabble in each other's spheres, shooting the breeze (amongst other things) with observations about their respective lifestyles and philosophical takes on everything from politics to culture? You get one of the most boring books to hit the paperback racks since THE PROPER CARE AND CLEANING OF BOVINE SHEATHS by Dave Lang, and I ain't kidding about it one whit!

Of course it doesn't help that both the radical if pampered upper-crust kiddo and his Dave Berg New York liberal uncle are about as exciting as dried dog turds turned to the shade of vanilla Tootsie Rolls but man, is this book (which in the right hands coulda been a total eye-opening excursion into that plague that pretty much tore all of Ameriga 'cept the Mercer County area apart) one of the worst examples of late-sixties self-consciousness and spiritual stroke-offism that only proves that, contrary to popular belief, those days were exceedingly dullsville.

First the kid. Richard Lorber's a Columbia undergrad who somehow manages to make his existence as a demi-rabble-rousing sideliner look rather timmy. Not that a good majority of college kids both then 'n now ain't exactly bubbling over with personality, but it seems as if Lorber and his cronies are even more of a caricature of pampered well-offs consumed with the trials and tribulations of the day than any viewing of THE GRADUATE could care to portray (and I thought that film was too unreal, at least on a suburban slob level!). Lorber and his friends just come off too self-conscious, caring and downright naive to seem real, and his unbelievably one-dimensional remarks and observations regarding the war, blacks and everything else that passes his altruistic eyeballs just seem too unreal and perhaps even the ol' playing the reader like a violin for my jaded fanabla tastes. If you wanna see the roots of the entire DOONESBURY line of precocious yet inchoate thought that just oozed from the pores of many a college numnut of the day, this will sate you for quite awhile.

Of course Uncle Ernie, that Establishment bastion of wishy washy values, ain't doin' the Older Generation that much of a favor either. Like I said the guy's definitely what I would call a "Dave Berg Liberal"-type...like that long-going MAD contributor he's definitely big on the hotcha progressive causes of the day and does have a sense of camaraderie (no matter how eentsy) with Richard and the rest of the well-off sons of the well off parents, but in no way could you call him a charged radical. You couldn't call him a right winger either...he's more or less straddling the line between moral guardian and touchy-feely philosopher with all of the muddled confusion and passive reflection that went with being one. In other words, he's roadkill.

And when the two of 'em get together and bounce their observations about each others' existences off each other woah, are we in for an evening of dull repartee that's supposed to open our minds and question our own tightly-held thoughts along with all of that Sunday School quap that seemed like a load of tripe back when us late-sixties gradeschoolers were being force-fed it constantly. But I guess back then these hot questions made for stimulating reading at least for the more adventurous around us, and Signet couldn't bank all of their stock on MAD reprints now, could they? But fortysome years later THE GAP doesn't come off like a period piece, but more or less like a book having a period if you can get my drift.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

A COMICS-SATURATED HIGH SIX FOR ONCE!

You've noticed too eh? Y'know, how this slimy fanabla of a blogschpieler would rather peck away about his favorite comic book 'n strip reads 'stead of the worth and value of a Wooden Shjips platter (frankly I've heard wonderful things about 'em but that's just the kinda thing that gets my b.s. detector clicking away like that Geiger Counter Kingfish was using on some old AMOS 'N ANDY episode). Well all I gotta say is YES I am really heavily into them old comics (even animation, and I ain't talkin' pixel!) just like I was back when I was a single-digit suburban slob spread across the parlor floor reading the latest antics of my favorite characters acting like a modern day equivalent of a bear skin rug. Maybe it's the time o' year...after all visions of kiddoid Christmas breaks as well as snowed in winters always stirred up the pre-teen comic spirits in me with visions of settling back in a snug bedroom reading the latest BATMAN while my sister was shoveling the driveway, and although I'm older and supposedly know better I just can't help but wanna relax during the cold season with a comic---dredging up all of those old and happy memories of getting outta school 'n work. Well it's either that or come across some other long forgotten pasttime that vividly pops into my mind whenever I chance upon that certain issue of NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC with those Japanese pearl-diving gals who were at least smart enough not to hang heavy weights from their boobs!

So right now it's comics and that's all I wanna read (other'n old fanzines) and watch onna tee-vee (the good ol' ones natch!). I figure that with all of the stress and strain I got in my life only a good comic strip or book can make me revert back to age ten, and although I was being treated like a doormat even then at least those comics helped mold and shape me into the unrepentant jerk that I am and shall remain!

So in keeping with the spirit of a pre-adolescent ranch house upbringing here's a HIGH SIX (so called because another certain blog runs a HIGH FIVE list 'n I wanna do you all one better) where I discuss a whole slew of my current favorite comic strip/book reading (and watching) material that reminds me of all the fun I had back when I knew that things were more important than people (take that you UP WITH PEOPLE hippies!). And if my kiddoid self could only SEE his adult version reading up alla the old comic collections and watching the cartoons on tee-vee (though admittedly the good old ones are becoming scarcer and scarcer) boy would he wanna gobble down a bottle of grow up pills and do it like now!


ARCHIE'S CHRISTMAS LOVE-IN #478 (January 1979), VERONICA IN INDIA #5 (December 1989)

Like I said many-a-time, the Archie comic books just weren't as top-notch snide sightgag guffaw-inducing as the Bob Montana-penned comic strip, but they're still good for a once-in-awhile perusal if you were a fan of the Archie Empire as a kid and wanna relive old-timey memories of your skidmarked underwear and stinkola sweat socks days (which, come to think of it, might still be upon you!). Dunno about the current batch of comics what with Kevin Keller (wretch!) making up for years of overboard wholesomeness with a faggoty vengeance, but these relatively old titles do conjure up some of the magic that I got from 'em in between Marvel-styled annihilation and DC-approved social concerns.

Never bought any of the Archie X-mas titles either on the stand or via the garage sale/flea market trade, admittedly a peculiar thing considering how much I used to like them holiday vacations and that these titles would have added to my enjoyment of those once-uberfuntime times. So it was nice that Bill slipped this 'un into a recent package, and even nicer now that the holiday season is in full fanabla gear and I can finally experience something I missed out on the first time 'round.

Frankly I was expecting a sugar-coaty sweet saga bound to up the glycerin levels to Tom Hanks level but the saga printed here ain't that bad despite being vaguely based on the ever-popular A CHRISTMAS CAROL premise (remember, this title came out in 1978 and the IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE credo had yet to be milked to it's nauseating conclusion). Archie's boss is the greedy and skin-flinty Uriah Scourge who dresses up like a bum in order to scam a free meal at the rescue mission...he gets his well-deserved comeuppance when a crook tosses the loot from a stick up at his store into the mission's Santa Claus kettle and he can't get it back! Archie also mistakes the garbage for Betty's Christmas gift (a theme worked out much better in a four-panel 1962 daily) and Veronica acts her rich bitch self when dragging Archie along for a day's shopping. Standard ARCHIE comic book fare true, but a whole lot better'n things to come once the company began targeting the adolescent girl trade at the expense of us feral boys.

What really gets me is that this "Giant" comic that was going for a whopping thirty-five pennies only houses TWENTY-EIGHT PAGES!!!!! Really, what kind of a rip-off is that, calling a standard-sized comic book a "Giant" which used to mean anything from  80 or even 100-pages then eventually 64 once the early seventies started rolling around and prices really began getting out of control! Makes me wanna get into a time machine, scoot back to the late-seventies and yell at a buncha kids YOU'VE BEEN RIPPED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

As you may recall, I called Veronica a rich bitch and that's one statement I will stand by no matter how much you "women can do no wrong" types may stamp and holler! 's funny, but she never was like that in the original comic book stories, and throughout the Bob Montana run of the strip the gal even came off sweet and lovable even if she was constantly being showered with luxuries and living an existence that would make Richie Rich look like Sluggo. I guess that the Archie Comics people had their female readership pegged with this character...after all why would some twelve-year-old sassy type just sprouting suckems want to be sweet and adorable gal next door Betty when they could be the mean, vindictive and spoiled rotten Veronica! Good move on your part, MLJ!

This solo Veronica series, at least judging from this particular title featuring our heroine in India, tones the bitchiness down a tad but I think the teenbos reading it still get the sordid message of it all. Frankly I kinda wonder how Veronica would manage in a nation where public defecation is the norm and feminine hygiene ain't exactly flowing outta the local vending machines the way the blood is flowing outta the volcano, but the gal manages to keep at least a decent face of respectability up while she and billionaire pop see the sights and get involved with some business intrigue in the interim. The usual redeeming educational bits you'd expect to appear are tossed in but as usual there is that one big flub up that shows the artists weren't doing their homework...in India, people drive their vehicles on the left side of the road (steering wheels adjusted to local driving customs) and really how could anybody make such a gigantic goof as that!

It's always nice to check up on these later on sagas just to see what these comics were up to ever since you "outgrew" them, or they outgrew you for that matter. It gives me a feeling that maybe there are a few things from my past that remain meaningful, more or less, even if it is only to brats a good thirty-plus younger than you (or forty-plus than me!) who never were in on the original snide punch of the Bob Montana strips. Then you get to thinking about the way the comic has turned out these days, and feel like puking your guts out because too many demons have popped outta that Pandora's Box called kultur and there's no way gettin' 'em back in!

Well, we can always console ourselves thinking about what Veronica's gonna be like thirty years from now, with more tattoos and body piercings than your standard gutter-pus trollop could stand! Well, hope always springs eternal that maybe she'll get caught in an electrical storm, and with all of those doohickeys on her man, will that be one lightning-strike that'll light up Riverdale for miles around!
***
PRISCILLA'S POP (comic strip, 1946-1983)

Here's a comic strip that never did hit it big with all of the big time funny paper readers of the day. Yes, while everyone from Queen Elizabeth to Hugh Hefner were busy pouring through the papers to see the latest installation of LI'L ABNER, the only ones who were out and about looked forward to the latest edition of PRISCILLA'S POP were suburban slobs the likes of you and I. Yep, it was more'n obvious that this strip certainly wasn't gonna be winning any Reuben Awards though the fact that this sometimes loathed comic lasted thirty-five years is testament to something many people would like to overlook, and that is that there are more'n a few everyday Joe and Jane Blows out there who eat comics like this up while avoiding the likes of DOONESBURY the way most DOONESBURY readers avoid a bar of soap!

Got hold of a few of the earlier PRISCILLA (as they were known in the local paper) strips and really was amazed at how different they looked from the ones that I grew up with. Even when compared to the early-sixties version these were finely delineated with a special care and detail that hasn't been seen in the comics for quite some time  I guess in the days before it was discovered that doing one strip could take ten instead of twenty minutes to produce an artist like Al Vermeer didn't mind taking the extra time to give the reader a little more finely-hewn art, and as with the early ARCHIE strips it's always nice to let the eyes linger awhile at the detail and fine shading just like some old coot looking at the painting of the nekkid lady at the museum always seems to do (please pardon some of the cockeyed reproductions---I've been experimenting as to how to make these strips larger and the things do tend to flop about a bit when I close the scanner):











Notice some of the unique differences in the strip besides the omission of various soon-to-be established characters like Stuart (who reminded me of a young Joe Flynn for obvious reasons), the grandparents and the Reverend Weems. Most striking (at least for me) is the absence of Priscilla's short 'n pudgoid pal Hollyhock who I always had a soft spot in my heart for---however we do get an early version of Priscilla's other long-time friend Jenny Lu who I gotta admit just doesn't pack the same sorta sidekick fun 'n jamz as she did after she became a boy-hungry proto-slut who was always after big brother Carlyle. Also note that the fambly dog Oliver ain't around either, but I will mention that mom Hazel looks very nice here in her forties frocks 'n hairdo! The way she's drawn with that sad look on her face really does something to me more'n those paintings of the kids and pup with the big eyes ever could (gets me right inna kishkas) to the point where you actually do see her smiling you feel a hearty relief and glad that one of your favorite comic strip moms can have a good time despite having a daughter who has been begging her father for a horse for nigh on twennysome years!*

I've also included some of the final PRISCILLA strips from the summer of '83 to compare the earlier ones with, these being drawn by NEA "troubleshooter" Ed(mund) Sullivan, a guy who had been known around the syndicate for taking over long-running strips after the guy who had been doing 'em was either retiring or had died. Although it took awhile for Sullivan to master the old Vermeer style he eventually got a pretty good grip on it, and looking at these final PRISCILLAs are, I must admit, a rather tear-inducing experience given that the strip was on its final legs and the era which begat such everyday folk kinda titles was beginning to be replaced by various hippie-generation crud that never did induce a hearty guffaw in anybody other'n someone who thinks he's doing the world a big favor by owning a solar powered buttplug. You can see how the strip was straining to become modern and while it might have worked with BLONDIE (which PRISCILLA was considered to have been a swipe from---c'n you believe that???), but I'm sure that many of the regular readers who were tuning into it did so with their mid-twentieth-century ranch house sense of fun 'n jamz intact so why quibble! And really, is there any other way this strip could truly have been appreciated?

Reading these old strips really is like visiting with some old relatives only better. After all, it ain't like they're gonna bring up all of those past indiscretions on your part which ruined the family name now, eh?



***

 SUPERNATURAL THRILLERS #1 comic book (December 1972)

Did you ever wonder where the idea for all of those Heaps and Man-Things that cluttered up the comic racks way back when really popped up? Well, it wasn't exactly from the fertile mind of Roy Thomas and as Roy himself would tell you (and if you don't believe me just check his introduction to the HEAP anthology). In actuality, the original muck monster was first espied in the pages of the long forgotten (by me, anyway) science fiction magazine UNKNOWN in the very early forties! That was a few short years before the arrival of comicdom's first human/hay hybrid and the story came via the typewriter of none other'n SciFi heavy Theodore Sturgeon as well.

Maybe in homage to the original (or perhaps the guilt over using a variation on the idea for one their latest anti-heroes), Marvel re-did the story up nice and proper in the first issue of their SUPERNATURAL THRILLERS title. "It!" was the name of the piece, and as you would have expected this hulking swamp pile was born in pretty much the same way alla the other and of course he's vicious just like his spawn...I mean what would ya expect him to do...start spouting heart-warming New York better-than-thou cliches straight out of the Dave Berg handbook?!?!? However, although unlike those Heaps and Swamp Things  It! doesn't have any redeeming qualities that would have warranted his own title for Marvel because let's face it, unlike the rest this guy's especially nasty! Which  I guess is why I kinda like this animated shrub.

Of course it's done up in that overly wrought and flowery early-seventies Marvel style that came off kinda pretentious (it was as if the company was actually swallowing the whole comics as art hype hook line and Glade Air Freshener) but it should settle well with fans who were in on the whole Marvel experience since at least Fin Fang Foom. If you're one who is deeply nostalgic for the Bronze Age of Comics and would fight to the death for a complete run of SON OF SATAN man, this is the one for you!
***
TUMBLEWEEDS (comic strip)

Like I said a few weeks back I never could stand this 'un throughout its twennysome year run, but here in the dusking days of 2014 I find myself snatching up every TUMBLEWEEDS paperback being made available which I know is something that really woulda surprised even my thirty-year-old self. Here in the post-post-post FUN AND JAMZ era a strip like this really does pack the punch I need to make it through the real world (Give us this day our daily groan) and considering how even the once-mighty like BLONDIE and BEETLE BAILEY are mere shells of their former mid-Amerigan selves a comic like TUMBLEWEEDS shines all the more! Frankly I'll take a strip like this not only over the moderne-day unfunnies seen in the dying (I wonder why!) newspapers of this land of ours, but even the rest of the late-sixties slapdashes like BROOM HILDA which never did get my jollies up even when it was a fairly easy thing for even an iffy episode of HENRY to do just that!


Considering that there's only a slight chance that these strips are gonna be gathered up in smythe-sewn hard-covered form I've been snatching up the seventies paperback reprints at relatively depression-era wage prices via various online and flea market dealers. Of course the prices might just scoot up once this post hits the blogosphere (heck, look what my writings on fanzines did to that market!) but right now I'm content in the notion that TUMBLEWEEDS ain't exactly one of those strips that is near and dear to the comic strip lover's heart. But at least at this very nanosecond I an content in the knowledge that whatever paperback I do snatch up it ain't gonna cost me a fistfulla lasagna having to bid it out with some STONE SOUP fan, and in these budget conscious times that is something nice to go to sleep knowing.

Since I blabbed about this strip in a previous post it ain't like I'm gonna rehash all of the gritty details to be found therein, though I will mention a few addendum-like things...for example I must admit that I prefer the antics of the Poohawk Indians more than I do the whiteys, while my favorite characters in the strips are (for the whiteys) Deputy Knuckles (who might be too much of a Zero from BEETLE BAILEY swipe but wha' th' 'ey!) and Lotsa Luck (the one-time mute Indian who used to jot down his snarky bon mots for the rest of the tribe to groan over) for the First Nations crowd. Favorite second-string characters...Ham and Beans the muleskinners even if their entire schtick seems built on the timeworn overgrown lunk Lenny routine from OF MICE AND MEN, only this time he's paired up with Yosemite Sam 'stead of Burgess Meredith. But hey, when you gotta swipe you best swipe from the best already swiped ideas in the biz, right?

One interesting aside, I've read that TUMBLEWEEDS was a popular comic strip in the Soviet Union of all places! If this in fact is true I gotta wonder...was there something changed in the translation or were there passed around Samizdat-style???
***


THE STORY OF MENSTRUATION (1946)

When I was in grade school they used to round up the older girls in the gym, tape up the windows with paper so nobody could peek in, and show them some film about how they were flowering into full blown womanhood or something along those rather disturbing lines that would disgust any self-respecting kid fed up with the amount of slobbering movies seen on tee-vee. Back then I used to conjure up the worst things about these educational films, thinking that they somehow were quite pornographic in nature with detailed descriptions of multiple orifice lovemaking and various barnyard hijinx, but as this 1946 Walt Dizzy in cooperation with Kotex production reveals, these films were actually pretty tame in comparison to all of the triple-penetration and multple orgasmo hoo-hah that was certainly fermenting in my mind!

This warning salvo about a girl's upcoming entry into the world of "Tick Tock Time" is certainly done nice and dainty, perfectly aimed at the same gals who MYSTERY DATE as well as the ARCHIE comics mentioned above were created for. Nicely animated (in the cheap sense---this ain't no FANTASIA big budget brouhaha you know), we get the inside story about what's gonna happen in each and every one of them gals' plumbing once the gears o' womanhood start cranking away, along with the outward behavior that they exhibit which has always warned us guys to STEER CLEAR of 'em! And gee, I really didn't know that femmes had such a bad time of it---from what I can tell I'm surprised the whole lot of 'em haven't committed suicide en masse considering all of the agony and grief they have to go through during those times of trial.

It's funny as well as educational too, like the scene where the little ladies are told that it's OK to bathe while Miss Monthly Visitor is around but don't make it too hot or too cold (ice cubes popping outta what was a shower head hitting the nekkid adolescent who, although her sprouting boobs can be seen, bears no bullseyes). Kinda makes me wonder just how much misery it woulda been had, as in the past, the gals didn't scrub themselves up...I mean some gals smell bad as it is w/o the odor of a vagina running amok to worry about!

But still it is a nice and sweet film that has a sentimental tone to it even when the female reproductive system is being presented to us like an old Pepto Bismol commercial. It sorta puts into the mind of the young and impressionable types the idea that maybe they were put on this earth for a special reason and that starting families and having babies isn't the strange and evil thing that quite a few people have told ALL of us both male and femme for far too longer than any of us can imagine.  I know that may sound foreign to some of you casual observers, but that's the way it goes no matter how many of you angry and bitter liberated types may stomp your feet to the indignant beat.

And hey, for a minute I must admit that I thought Minnie Mouse was going to do the honors, like talk about her own period problems with Daisy Duck perhaps with a guest appearance by Goofy for comedy relief. Well, anyone who's seen that UN film persuading people in India to defecate into toilets instead of on the ground (again, see the VERONICA review above) would know that stranger animated educational films have happened!
***

.
MAKE MINE FREEDOM (1948 cartoon)

One version of the above educational cartoon floating about on youtube is filled with editorializing subtitles claiming, with recent legal cases being trotted out to prove the point, that we've bypassed the ideals of freedom for security loooong ago! Considering how more 'n more people out there seem to want to stay home 'n goof off at the expense of us suburban turdfarms who gotta work I can see their point but hey, even in 1948 at a time when the idea of a strong government (which will provide for you and your not-so-basic needs, and oh yeah we can confiscate your property when it suits us and you men better put your lives on the line for us when we so desire) was riding high I'm surprised this cartoon wasn't totally banished into some deep pit of forgotten Old Right faves along with the comic book version of THE ROAD TO SERFDOM. This is one cartoon that'll be sure to make the standard BLOG TO COMM reader of a paleocon slant sit up and think about the concept of rights and where they stand these days, as it will be sure to make the standard BLOG TO COMM reader of the left-leaning or "mainstream" variety think what a knuckle-dragger I gotta me what with all of this talk of personalism and people earning what they work for w/o being forced to dole it out to anyone on the public titties whether it be the usual lazybone suspects or the latest haute artiste of a non-starving variety (the same thing, really!). And it looks like it's all here to stay, and although I sure ain't glad I know that YOU are, you lazy loafers you!

______________________________________________
*though in some ways don't you think that when Priscilla finally did get that horse of her dreams the strip was all over in the same way that Charles Schulz thought that LI'L ABNER jumped that fabled shark when Abner married Daisy May? Sure it's kinda tough comparing the two strips but after years of pleading for a horse and finally getting one a certain dimension to PRISCILLA kinda went the sewer route. Thankfully I will admit that the strip wasn't ruined in any major way shape or form....just that Vermeer really didn't know HOW to draw a decent horse!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

BOOK REVIEW! NANCY LOVES SLUGGO by Ernie Bushmiller (Fantagraphics, 2014)

Heading into the early-fifties, we are now beginning to come upon the chubby cheek era of NANCY, the years where she and her pals began to look like squirrels hiding nuts in their jowls for the wintertime. The art, at least in my opinion, didn't quite look up to typical Ernie Bushmiller snuff once the year 1951 rolls into view (I dunno, due to a new assistant?) but don't worry because by the late-fifties it all finally works out once the NANCY style that I fondly remember develops and oozes into the living rooms of many a prone (or maybe even supine) kid reading the funnies as part of that daily ritual that made the day of many a suburban slob element! And if we only knew enough to appreciate it back when it was here and now 'stead of then and there, because in no way was any of it gonna last forever.

Pretty good gaggeroonies in this 'un from a series of strips where Sluggo inexplicably gains about fifty pounds overnight to one where a cute Spanish gal has Sluggo acting a whole lot hornier than his seven-year-old hormones would normally allow. Thankfully the usual NANCY gags, gaffes and (dare I say) cliches are in full force, what with Nancy at her most hungry/jealous/envious/fantasizing, Sluggo at his laziest and most-disheveled, and of course Aunt Fritzi is a bigger bitch than any of us could imagine the way she's more'n prone to whack Nancy for even the slightest of infractions!

The forward to this 'un was written by cartoonist Ivan Brunetti, who oddly enough had submitted a month or so of strips when United Features Syndicate had finally decided to drop the horrid "update" of this venerable strip that had been running since '84 or so and get back to the original minimalism of it all. (You can read the entire saga complete with the comics that were submitted for the syndicate's approval here.) As we all know the Gilchrist Brothers got the contract and, after a short while of redrawing old Bushmiller strips as well as doing some new gags in a fairly decent style, went off on their own tangent to the point where it too has become not only "modernized" but downright unreadable. If Brunetti had gotten the gig I get the feeling, at least judging from his samples, that the state of NANCY 2014 would have been a much different ballgame 'n what has been happening on the funny pages as of late. Probably not, but then again how could anyone really have followed in the footsteps of the mid-Amerigan master known to one and all as Bushmiller?

Yeah it ain't the same as readin' 'em onna parlor floor osmosing the same world that begat NANCY in the first place, but it's about as close as yer ever gonna come so shut your trap for once!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Since Christmastime is just around the corner I'll bet you're all getting hot 'n tingly for the yuletide season what with alla them presents and parties and holiday cheer that's gonna be hurled right at'cha, right??? Yeah, I didn't think so. Let's face it, as soon as the World War II generation that gave us everything from hotcha tee-vee to sleek cars and a general easy-going life gave way to the spoiled brat hippies who've been ruling things since the eighties, nothing is what is used to be. I remember when kids were kids and kids tee-vee was a funtime experience what with the loads of cartoons and funny sitcoms that used to be pumped at ya. And Christmas was a good one-anna-half weeks off from school where you'd get presents and go to parties galore where you got to break your cousins' toys* and get into big fights. No more. Ditto the fun toys they used to have and the mere concept of acting like the suburban slob you and I were born to be. All out the window. The hippies were supposed to be liberating, but all they turned out to be were iron-fisted dictators who sure knew more about us peons than we ever did. And with them went all the fun and joy there was in being a ranch house guy who might have been materialistic, but that materialism was limited to records and tee-vee and Studebakers and not Oprah that's for sure!

And as I told Don Fellman, there aren't any children anymore. They're just mini adults who are being programmed into being sluts and layabouts and bleedhearts at an early age. I get the feeling that none of 'em would be caught dead watching SUPERCAR, though if Brad Kohler's story about his sis's kids getting into the old LITTLE RASCALS comedy where Joe Cobb and Chubby are tearing each other's shorts off is true perhaps there is some hope. But I doubt it.
***
Enough of the wallowing in misery act and onto the part you've been waiting for---the reviews! Got some goodies this time which have certainly lit up my hemorrhoids as I know they will yours, so let's just say these closing days of the year 2014 ain't as dullsville as I thought they were gonna be. Seems as if there are a number of issues coming out (all of the old school/style natch!) that are worth sticking around for, so if anybody out there is planning on killing me at least wait until after I get to spin some of these. And who knows, what with the promised Magic Tramps platter and other seventies dig-ups that are bound to make their way to your favorite internet shop there's all the more reason one should stick around and enjoy all of those long-forbidden sounds to permeate your ape-like mentalities. So save up those pennies and eat your vegetables because maybe the next few years ain't gonna be as morbid as Phillip Dick used to hint around at!


DMZ-RADIO DEMOS/Lyres-LIVE AT CANTONE'S 1982 CD (Munster, Spain)

The third (but not necessarily last) in my series of DMZ reviews, this 'un's got what I think is the entire WTBS broadcast from the days when David Robinson hadn't yet sullied his credibility by joining the Cars while the rest consists of a post-DMZ Lyres gig at Boston's Cantone's club that came out in part on a Crypt LP ages ago.The DMZ tracks are as killer as all get out what with their hard-rockin' approach that I delved into in my previous weekend posts, and although the Lyres were more sixties-oriented in a garage band revival sorta way their songs don't have the worn out feeling of the group's later platters (A PROMISE IS A PROMISE come to mind). These live rompers just go to show you just how exciting these guys coulda been, especially when stacked up against alla that eighties rock that was supposed to "speak to you" but came out sounding like Chico Marx. Might be worth your while to snatch this up at the next ebay "buy it now" offer you see.
***
The Unrelated Segments-THE STORY OF MY LIFE 2-LP set (Guerrson, Spain)

These Detroit high energy rockers have been due for a honorable retrospect for quite some time, and this one does 'em up just fine. The boffo original singles we've heard for ages appear on the first side of this double header, while the rest is filled up with ne'er before released tracks not only by the Segments but by singer Ron Stults' later-on act Lost Nation, and boy are these the proverbial killer dillers in a CREEM magazine sorta way! Kinda makes me wonder why nobody there thought of mentioning them at all, but since they were ignoring a whole lotta local talent I guess that was par for the course.

No need to tell you how great the familiar material is, but the rest is really up to Detroit snuff to the point that people never did stop talking about all of the energy that was coming outta that state. Side four's collection of backing tracks and demos does fill out the legend quite a bit, but the Lost Nations material is surprisingly hard even by local standards. This is "heavy metal" in the classic sense long before a buncha poofs took the original notion and added a whole lotta phony debbil signs to it---pure hard scronk that resembles the MC5 and various other local practitioners of the form (also be sure to catch that "Communication Breakdown" riff swipe), and even the trendy synthesizer doesn't detract from the overall fun and jamz.

Stults's typically teenage whining vocals fit in swell giving it all that snotty adolescent feeling that made these records relate to you as a suburban slob NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC-sneaking ranch house jerk, and one spin of this'll connect you to your teenbo roots faster'n you can say "GILLIGAN'S ISLAND reruns!" One of the better exhumations and re-creations I've heard as of late...definitely worth the megabucks that various online dealers are offering for it!
***
Philip  Glass-SYMPHONY No. 4 "HEROES" CD (Orange Mountain Music)

Yeah maybe I shoulda spent the dough on the LOW symphony...after all that one was one of my favorite late-high school dayze listening experiences right around the time I thought that it all came outta the same font of inspiration. But SYMPHONY No. 4 ain't that bad at all. Can't recognize any of the melodies from the original HEROES album and sometimes this does sound like your typical TCM soundtrack for a "silent" film that some college creep thought should be "updated", but listening to this did give me some hallowed kultural feelings that reminded me of things that never did happen in my life! Don't worry, if you haven't been in on this blog (or in on any of my other scribblings) since day one you'll never make sense outta it. (Available via Forced Exposure.)
***
Magma-RIAH SAHILTAAHK CD (Jazz Village)

A might be good enough for you Magma unearthing from their mid-seventies big label days when they even rated a mention in NEWSWEEK, this 'un's got that hotcha euro cum free jazz sound that got me interested in a whole lotta that continental screeding way back in those dark and dank mid-seventies. Kinda funko-commercial at times, but if you squint your ears this fits in with that molten lava sounding group that seemed like one of the more mind-blasting concepts in what was being called "progressive" rock. Only twennysome minutes long, so if you wonder where the rest of it is there ain't none!
***
Kurt Schwitters-URSONATE UND ANDARE KONSEQUENTE DICHTUNG CD (Wergo, Germany)

These ain't the original surviving Schwitters tapes (like the one Eno used on his BEFORE AND AFTER SCIENCE platter) but recent recordings made by Sprechbohrer, a krautese ensemble featuring two males and one femme performing Schwitters' unique vocal-cum-singsong creations, most in German but some en Inglese. And unique they are, and in fact these are musical enough that I could listen to this while reading the latest UGLY THINGS and the spreckense seemed to fit in excruciatingly well.

Interesting parts (no track listing given and even the liners are kinda sparse), the song where the trio keep saying "Rocket To Bee-Bee", the one which sounds something like Tommy Dorsey's "Rag Mop" trying to get started, the moments where various future rock 'n roll syllables are spouted and the one where one of the gentlemen does a rather good impression of Gruber from 'ALLO 'ALLO. Nice historical document especially for people who think alla that weirdo art began with the beatniks or something like that.
***
Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart-PROVIDENCE COLLEGE, RHODE ISLAND, APRIL 26th 1975 2-CD set (Keyhole)

If you thought (like me) that the Zappa/Beefheart/Mothers BONGO FURY was the best thing ol' stinkeroo did during the reign of the third Mothers of Invention lineup you'll probably go for this faster'n a starving homo for a turd. I sure did, though when I got this double disque set it wasn't like I was that enthralled. The recording, while clear enough, is too vocal heavy with one having to strain to hear the instruments while there frankly ain't enough Beefheart on this 'un to satiate his diehard fans. However I figure "wha' th' hey..." both of these guys are deader'n Shemp and releases like this only exist to heighten the original experience for alla them Bizarre freaks who were snatching these platters up way back when and sure wanted even more'n what the bootleg market was willing to offer.

But still PROVIDENCE COLLEGE has its many moments, from Beefheart vocalizing the ZOOT ALLURES numbuh "The Torture Never Stops" as well as a boffo encore of that all time real fave "Willie the Pimp". Zappa may get too overbearing at times (as he was wont to do) but even the fusion numbers don't get to you the way alla them Return to Forever diddies that drove your FM band nutty way back when did. And even with the off-balance sound and slow moments where Zappa once again talks down to all of us this one does retain that smelly gym socks and mildew feeling you've come to expect from the Bizarre/Discreet line. A bonafeed sleeper, and I certainly don't mean you're gonna sleep through it!
***
OUBA LP (Out-Sider/Guerrson, Spain)

A late sixties free-form jam album performed by a buncha Montreal hippoids (including future power pop legend Michel Pagliaro) sure sounded like a must-buy to me, but after listening to this 'un I must admit that I wish I had passed. Without the gnarled intensity of a Can or Soft Machine, this music just comes off like a buncha potheads getting together having fun inna basement. Some charm to it, but it's mostly late-sixties neo-fusionoid music that reminds me of something you woulda heard in a "now" film of the day. If you're nostalgic for THE PEOPLE NEXT DOOR you might want to look into it.
***
Sun Ra-THE COMPLETE REMASTERED RECORDINGS ON BLACK SAINT  &  SOUL NOTE 4-CD set (Black Saint/Soul Note, Italy)

These nearing the end of Sun Ra's orbit recordings laid down in Milan might not be the ones to agitate the nodes of those brought up on Ra's ESP and various sixties/seventies releases, but for a career swan song they represent an artist's final output far better'n some of the things other beings had released before their big dive into the eternal cesspool.

Yeah a whole lot of the edgy feeling of those HELIOCENTRIC WORLDS and SOLAR MYTH APPROACH platters might seem lost and gone forever in classic "My Darling Clementine" fashion, but in many ways Ra was returning to his roots on these albums and frankly there's nothin' wrong with that! Not only returning to the roots of his early Fletcher Henderson Big Band days, but that of the mid-fifties Arkestra when the new thing was just being born and developed much to the ire of way too many a bopster who needed more'n a little nudge to make his way into the new world of freedom that was popping up on the horizon.

Three Arkestra outings appear in this box, all in varying forms of intensity and entertainment value with forties themes getting jammed into interstellar overdrive and perhaps some of the most off key vocalizing I've heard from the Sun Ra camp ever! Even more interesting is disque #4 which is actually a Billy Bang sesh featuring Ra on piano...its entitled A TRIBUTE TO STUFF SMITH (not Snuffy Smith as some wags would probably put it) where Bang and band including Andrew Cyrille and bassist John Ore explore some of the long-forgotten classics in their own new thing style. Actually invigorating though you can tell just how much Ra was suffering from his maladies with one listen. Perhaps his single-handed playing minimizes things a bit, but the overall results make for a rather intense slow burn session that should sate fans of both Ra and Bang.

A worthy addition to any BLOG TO COMM freedom lover's Ra collection that better get the gal of your dreams inna mood more'n your etchings every could!
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Various Artists-SILVER SANTA STAIRS IN REVERSE CD-r (A Bill Shute megaloperation)

The elf sipping away on a Genesee featured on the cover really got me into the holiday mood, so I figured why not slap this 'un on and try to osmose more of that jeer and not-so-goodwill that I always come across this time of the year! A really boffo one this turned out to be too, what with the act called Dawn (who OBVIOUSLY never heard of "Tony Orlando and...") opening and closing this 'un with some weird avant punk cum pop that I just can't categorize other'n it sounds like the GOOD stuff that used to come out during the early-eighties days of amerindie, You do remember, the time when the chaff was really beginning to make its way into the form and buying a platter by a new group became a rather risky situation.. (Can't find a blamed thing on 'em via the web which must make 'em a really under-the-NEW YORK ROCKER-ground act...where'd you get this 'un Bill?)

Zeitgeist also surprised me on "Set Sail for the Sun" which is a Stockhausen composition realized for a new music ensemble and released on Finnedar. the short-lived WEA-backed avant garde label of the late-seventies whose releases are now going for much in the bucks department. (I got two of 'em and no, I'm not gonna part with either!)

The rest is boff too from the punk rock Christmas ditties to the early-sixties pop of Patty York, and even the infamous George Hamilton IV turns up (so do Yo La Whatzername as well!). But its the Dawn and Zeitgeist numbers that made the biggest impression on my brain, and the more of that sorta swill in my pigpen the better I always say. (Did I mention the Marc Bolan Christmas message? That'll get your season in gear especially if you [like me] still have your head and listening parameters set in 1972!)
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*like the time I got my cous' new bendable Barbie doll and tried to make her spread eagle snapping her leg off! She cried like there was no tomorrow and I hadda spend a couple bucks outta my gift money to buy her a new one! Years later I brought this up to her and she started laughing, having forgotten the traumatic experience, saying that I must've been a sicko for wanting to get a peek at Barbie's beaver or something like that! Goes to show you who the real victim was as far as innocent childhood toy-breaking sagas go now, eh???