Saturday, September 19, 2015

I dunno if I should even bother asking any of you readers to part with any insightful information that might aid me in my rock 'n roll research. After all, you guys were such help when I asked about the validity of Cat Mother and the All Night Newsboys a few weeks back, but maybe this time you will lend me a li'l hand (and not for the usual functions you use your hand for, silly!) with the latest query to keep me all hot and bothered and stayin' up to all hours of the night. And that is well---as part of my ongoing infatuation and obsession with the Velvet Underground which has been going on for nigh on thirty-seven years counting, I'm trying to gather a whole load of information (or at least more than what is available onna web) regarding the the late-sixties/early-seventies English "serious" avant garde's fascination and absorption of influences taken from that infamous and blabbed about to the point of exhaustion band.

Now it might seem strange to you, but other'n the likes of Brian Eno and Michael Nyman there were a number of English musicians, composers and maybe even the odd-non musician or two who were giving a listen to the Velvets and reportedly coming up with some rather spiffy results...Tim Souster, best known to you as guest musician on Wire's 154, wrote a number of articles on them for THE OBSERVER (his Beefheart piece would also be welcome in the realm of my fart-encrusted domain) that  not only might shed yet another dimension on the group as viewed within late-sixties prisms but deserve to be disseminated all these years later. More interesting to me though is the heavily Velvets-influenced Scratch Orchestra spinoff group C.O.M.E.T. (later known as C.U.M. or C.W.M. depending on the source) whose members consisted of England's better known experimental composers including John Tilbury (on keys) as well as  Michael Nyman doing VCS3 synthesizer. A gig of note was at  Scratch Festival held at the Wandelkonzert at the German Institute in London May '71 which featured the band roaring through a 45-minute "Sister Ray" that I hope has been recorded for posterity along with more efforts by this act, especially since this was all being done before Velvets-consciousness became a must-have in the world of distraught upper-middle-class altruistic types. If anyone knows of any available (or not so) information or recordings, please point me in the right direction.

Yeah, I know it might be a little tough listening to anything that Tilbury has laid his mitts on (after all, I don't exactly have any great love for the guy considering that his response to the 9/11 attacks was a simple "they deserved it", staunch Maoist he was and shall remain since his own political leanings have nary a taint of blood on their working class pinkies*), but an act like C.O.M.E.T./C.U.M./C.W.M. might be yet another important rock missing link in the gathering of various punk mutations and Velvets influence flow-charts. Sheesh, I kinda wonder if these guys were yet another one of those VU-inspired English acts Andy Mackay was telling me about in that still sticking out in my psyche dream I had well over a year back!
Other'n all that I must admit that the past week has been yet a little more nothing as Tuli Kupferberg had so stately put it! Not that I didn't get a li'l bit of my own listening pleasure in between the sordid realities of it all (sample list: CHURCH OF ANTHRAX, SPACE RITUAL, YETI, Roxy Music's FIRST KISS boot), but other'n those and the magic wares listed below (thanks to Bill Shute, Bob Forward, P.D. Fadensonnen, Paul McGarry, Bob Richert and the Bruit Direct Disques people) there really wasn't much to live for not counting a few GILLIGAN's ISLAND re-re-reruns I managed to catch. I'm hoping that the record situation does straighten itself out as the days roll on but really, given just how dead music in general (and not just that of the hearty rock 'n roll variety) has been for ages I might as well hope that all of those issues with the Milton Berle Estate have been cleared up and that I'll finally get that willie he willed me a good twentysome years back! But other'n that sorta wishful thinking here's what you've all been waiting for:

Mamitori Ulithi Empress Yonaguni San-25/12/2013 LP (Bruit Direct Disques France, also available via Forced Exposure)

Got a package from a French avant rock label called Bruit Direct Disques that looks mighty tasty to me, but what got me digging into this particular platter first was the big and undoubtedly gross-looking moth featured on the front cover (which ain't even an "Empress Moth" as the group's own moniker would suggest but one of the Atlas variety!). Well, I guess grossness is one way to get my attention as all of you ass-pickers and fartsters out there know by now, but boy is this one wild! Wild like the best avant clank of the late-seventies only without the preciousness that marred many of these free-form acts as the years went on. Mamitori Ulithi Empress Yonaguni San are a Japanese act in case you were unaware, and they continue on that great tradition of free sound with all of our favorite touch-points thrown in as well as some actual melodies that reflect the group's own Far East heritage. Might be too loose for some but I find it went smoothly down my cerebellum. Can you believe that???
Owen Maercks-TEENAGE SEX THERAPIST Cd-r burn (originally on Feeding Tube Records)

I kinda wonder if Byron Coley was looking for another Gary Wilson with this 'un. If so I don't think he's quite got one but it's still hokay. West Coast self-produced effort that comes off like a weirdo exchange between mid-seventies Roxy Music and Devo with the usual oddball suspects (Zappa) thrown in. And to top it all off it don't sound a bad as you think I'm tellin' you it does! Sure there was a load of these similar-minded home-cranked product out at the time, but how many of 'em were able to get Henry Kaiser (not a big name in my book but boy can he move product!) on 'em? If your tastes move towards anything from REHEATED CHOCOLATE TANGOES to YOU THINK YOU REALLY KNOW ME, I'd gamble the XX bucks or so it would take to track this down.
Various Artists-THE LAST OF THE GARAGE PUNK UNKNOWNS VOLUME ONE CD-r burn (originally on Crypt)

Paul McGarry sent me burns of the entire "last of" series, this being not only the first one of this new batch of garage band rarities but the first one I've managed to give the ol' college try. Of course it's the proverbial wowzer that proves that there's still great six-oh rock to be discovered and it ain't all dudster nth-rate leftovers like some of those eighties comps seemed to show. A jambus-packtus one here too featuring bands I've never heard about before (and probably never will after!), but they're all great primal thud outfits who not only know how to pound out the familiar mid-sixties chord changes but are wise in the ways of swiping directly from the biggies like the Nightcrawlers and Them, sometimes combining these outright steals into one massive if plagiarized song! Although I do sometimes fear that the barrel has been scraped beyond all hope of any more juicy bits like this there still is hope which the next four volumes in this series should deliver on!
London Dri-WESTERN SKIES CD-r burn

There must be thousands of these forgotten platters still waiting to be discovered by just about every Greg Shaw wannabe left on the planet, and London Dri typify what I'm sure a whole batch of those mid-sixties guitar gobblers came off like. Mebbe it is a little too "West Coast" for some of you sticklers out there, but I find these guys rather entertaining despite their lack of slick lick proficiency and a rather clunky production job. The death throes of Los Angeles folk rock collide with a bit of sunshine pop and psychedelia to make for a pretty good offering that I must say is hard to compare to various other "touch points" your minds might be able to focus your mind on. Contains what I believe to be the first ever Big Brother and the Holding Company cover version which should give 'em some hotche credo points with you San Francisco remnants out there.
David Holland Quartet-CONFERENCE OF THE BIRDS CD-r burn (originally on ECM)

I've passed on way more than my share of these ECM items if only because of that label's reputation for some of the more gnu age-y approaches to presenting the new thing jazz. Why I passed on this 'un I do not know because CONFERENCE OF THE BIRDS is everything good about that early-seventies avant garde approach to the form that has been maligned throughout the ages. Bassist Holland is joined by not only longtime associate Anthony Braxton but free jazz pioneer Sam Rivers and percussionist Barry Altschul and the three really do work it out copasetic-like on these numbers. Some of this is actually accessible enough even to those ears who think that Paul Whiteman might just be a little too "out there" for comfort so you know you're gonna be in for a varied if exhilarating time. If you (like me) go for those Arista/Freedom Braxton tracks also with Holland and Altschul this is but more of the same.

I kinda get the feeling that this particular moom pitcher ain't anything that I'd care to hit my local concrete bunker to see, but the soundtrack album might just be the best 'un to have popped up onna racks since EASY RIDER or even CANDY for that matter! Members of the Gulcher Records stable (Hypocrite in a Hippy Crypt, Home Blitz...howcum no Gizmos?) perform music that's calm cool 'n collected, mostly acoustic and perhaps pretty much in tune with the actions goin' on on-scree, and although I usually like my music a li'l more meaty I found the sounds emanating from my bedside box a perfect addition to the particularly gloomy Sunday I'm now typing this to. Best of the batch: X-Ray Eyeballs who are either ahead of the rest of the newer-than-new music pack, or just retro-anti-stodgy enough to sooth my own wayback tastes.
The Marquee Review-LIVE CD-r burn (originally on JA)

I didn't know that Omaha was this dullsville, or at least it would seem so after listening to this early-seventies bar band's live album which cranks out the hits, AM and FM, in a way that ain't offensive or loathe-inducing at all but is still far from the hard grind I usually want in my recorded jollies. Kinda sounds like something that would have been recorded in the area in which I live and my cyster would mention how she knew the drummer's next door neighbor or something to that effect and that she walked by the school gym while they were performing during the spring dance or something but she couldn't stay because she was only there to drop off a term paper. Gotta admit that the listening tastes of teenbo Ameriga 1971 were limp enough that you can just imagine alla those iron-haired gals flipping over the likes of a local cover band like this, After all, if they could go nuts over James Taylor they could go nuts over anything.
Various Artists-PURTY JINGLE IMAGE FLAGS CD-r burn (Bill Shute)

Talk about internet-scraping with the bevy of trackage Bill slapped on this one! Some of these numbers veer towards nerdy if attention grabbing garage band (Fables, Satan's Sinners) while other feature rarities by acts known far and wide (the Isley Brothers, the Turtles coming as close to the Byrds as they ever did), while the obligatory soul stuff and tossout material also satisfies me more than J. Neo Marvin ever will, you thilly thing!

What got me really going this time was, besides the Turtle and Sinners sides, the weirdo radio interview with a Tennessee fire chief, the ad for Avon Natural Sheen (dunno if any Avon rep'd wanna go into that part of town but who knows?), the weird song to be used for back massages, and this unbelievable "commercial" for the Ortho Pharmaceutical Corporation pushing their contraceptive products to the tune of "There Is Nothing Like a Dame" from SOUTH PACIFIC!!!! All I gotta say is, good thing I didn't leave the room with this playing while Aunt Mabel was visiting!!!

*...but I gotta admit do I wish I could be as senselessly cruel as he is!


Anonymous said...


try this:

The tracks forming Tötenköpf’s first album were composed between 1970 and 1976 by the Frenchman Bruno Rooke. Eventually, they have been put to tape (in gogolphonic sound) during his stay in Karlstad (Sweden) in February-March 1978. Rooke (vocals, drums, keyboards, percussions) recorded with the help of his cousin Erland Malberg (bass, guitar, effects) and a friend of the latter, Mats Meyer-Lie (guitar, tapes, violin), a chaotic album titled "Ann Arbor" as a direct reference to the Detroit’s suburb hometown of the MC5 and the Stooges.
Originally pressed in a handful of copies on Rooke’s own "Agression" label, "Ann Arbor" is an explosive mix of free rock and proto punk, previously known only by a few record collectors scattered around Sweden, France and Germany. In addition to the obvious influences of the Stooges and the MC5, the group also pleaded allegiance to the Velvet Underground, Neu! and Can.
In fact, the sound of Tötenköpf is closer to the experiments of Destroy All Monsters first incarnation or Les Rallizes Dénudés, except that the group, under the influence of its leader, was involuntarily anchored in a very French tradition of speed freaks such as Mahogany Brain, Barricade or Gutura. In the end, the result had reminiscences of bands like Debris, Madrigal or Angel Face.
This record is unique the French landscape, a piece of history of truly alternative rock: a deviant fucked up album made without any concession. Too punk to be issued by labels like Futura or Pôle (where it still would have feel like home) and too experimental and psychedelic to have been noticed by the punks.
On the same label and in complete anonymity, the trio released "Diktat" in 1981, a second amazing album - unfortunately plagued by very bad sound quality - before disintegrating.
"Ann Arbor" is finally reissued for the first time by Caméléon Records, with a limited pressing of 500 copies, remastered directly from the original tapes provided by Bruno Rooke.

Charles Hodgson said...

There's some Cat Mother and the All Night Newsboys on yew choob. Okay, but no explicit VU vibes is my opinion FWIW.
Will be checking out Totenkopf on Cameleon Recs Bandcamp ASAP.
(Too late just now, my wife is sleeping...)

Charles Hodgson said...

Agree with your assessment of Mamitori. That is a beguiling record. Need now to grab their first lp (without spending a fortune in yen - or is it yuan?).