Sunday, January 10, 2016

Don't worry---I'll be back with a real-deal post next weekend! But until then I thought I'd share with you some reviews of various items that a) I haven't heard until the year 2015 yet were just too obvious to stick in a reg'lar "column" or b) I've had and cherished for many a year yet I thought too obvious-er to include in said columns as well. Which of these recordings are "new" or not to mine ears in 2015 is yours to I gotta go out and tell you EVERYTHING???

 The Stranglers-RATTUS NORVEGICUS/BLACK AND WHITE 2-CD set (Capitol England)

This '03 entry in EMI's series of United Artists-bred twofas really is a top notch help in reminding this particular fanabla as to just how good these guys were, even if their bassist was rude to Lindsay Hutton and he swore out a vendetta against the group once and for all. Their anti-feminist stance is so refreshing this far down the suffragette line while their overall punkian nastiness is something that more'n a few practitioners of the modern rock form should take to heart. And for being associated with the likes of Johnny Sid and the rest I must say that they knew enough not to succumb to various new trends, keeping the best of the late-sixties punk push at the forefront even if stuff like that only appealed to the Amerigans who were in on the fanzine game for some time. This is what those later Roxy Music albums shoulda sounded like if Bryan F. woulda only gotten his fingernails dirty, but he didn't and we're all for the worse because of it.
The Seeds-A WEB OF SOUND 2-CD set (GNP Crescendo/Big Beat England)

Last year I treated myself to the boffo RAW AND ALIVE two-Cee-Dee collection, this year it's the WEB OF SOUND expanded edition for me. Gotta say that I loved the dickens outta this one ever since I snatched this one up from a two-buck cassette bin back in the late-seventies, and may I be so gosh-it-all but the high energy feelings that I had for that one back then linger on even this far down the suburban slob line. I mean, what else can you say about a platter that delivers on the hot punk rock drive and fervor (without the overly conscious precepts that plagued many an eighties follower of the fashion) and comes off teenybopper on one hand and mad evil genius on the other???

You get a mono and stereo version if that means anything to you, and not only that but each platter is filled out with alternate takes of the familiar faves (disque 1) and the infamous Sky Saxon Blues Band SPOON FULL OF SEEDY BLUES on the second. Yeah, that one never did figure well with many Seeds fans but I find Sky and co.'s trek into bloozy territory fascinating and a whole lot more authentic than some of the scuzz that has passed for blues these past few decades. And really, who would you prefer to hear singing the blues, Sky Saxon or some potbellied greyhair who think's he in for the big 'n nasty from the comfy confines of his roll-a-sage chair?

Izzit safe to listen to Buddy Holly now? I mean it always was, but things were rather shaky about doing so during the late-seventies what with all of those Linda Whatzername with the Parkinsons' Laurel Canyonized covers and those fifties/sixties biopics that made everybody front and center fans of the bespectacled one. Sheesh, when I first heard "Peggy Sue" as some duncified ten-year-old long before the Holly craze got into full gear I thought I was listening to some nice straight-ahead rhythmic music that settled well inside my ranch house sensibilities. Only a few years later did it seem as if everybody was in on the Holly game, and lemme tell ya it's sure hard being a fan of the guy when the guy who hates you the most in class (and vice versa) thinks he's the top turd on the pile because now he likes Buddy instead of Starcastle!

These platters do sate my Holly brainbuds even if, after all is said and done, he was the idol of many a late-seventies turdball who somehow tied Holly's entire reason for existence in with Jackson Browne. Think of it this way, Holly was also the inspiration for Bobby Fuller and Roky Erickson and that should be the ONLY thing that counts when thinking about the legacy the man fortunately did leave us. So all of you laid back hippies and one-dimensional rock followers out there...take a hike, willya???

THE VERY BEST OF BUDDY HOLLY AND THE CRICKETS is from what I understand a collection of the three Buddy/Crickets albums and maybe a few solo Buddy things as well. I'm not as well versed in the whole Brunswick/Coral situation like I am the Parliament/Funkadelic thing and other similar group/solo/backing band recording set ups, but whatever it's a boffo gathering of the greats for those of us who want the most for our money and aren't ready to dabble in the world of bootlegs at this time. These numbers only prove just how in-tune Buddy and the Crickets were, what with their straight-on country/blues/rock 'n roll sound that sure led the way for a slew of boffo sixties grooves that would be popping up on a whole number of single sides at least until the late-sixties became too dribbly that even a thing as a Buddy Holly influence could not possibly exist. And these songs prove that Holly was good at just about everything he did, even to the point where all of those symphony schmoozers like "Moondreams" sure sound beautiful after getting a load of what passes for top forty these days!

THE GREAT BUDDY HOLLY's that '67 Vocalion album that's been in print in one form or another for years. Basically a '56 sesh that lacks all of the polish and verve of the "real" stuff, I find these tracks to capture a whole load of what made fifties/sixties rock so good at least before it got tossed into the money-go-round. This is the kinda Buddy Holly there shoulda been more of, with the kinda sound that has all of the raw integrity of your standard garage band single which would turn off most of the nuevo Hollyites who discovered the chap via the likes of Paul McCartney. True most if not all of this can be had on other Holly compilations but gee, I like the great sixties-styled cover more suited for a Big Band reissue that sorta flies in the face of alla that psychedelic dribble that was being force fed us at the time.

Both of these are monsters, and yeah it is safe to listen again. Just be sure to leave your turquoise and 'ludes at home next time you venture out to the Cee-Dee Emporium to pick yourself up copies of these.
Ornette Coleman-THE GREAT LONDON CONCERT two CD-r burn (originally on Arista/Freedom)

Like the ESP TOWN HALL CONCERT, this blink and you missed it 1975 Arista/Freedom live set's got the proverbial pounce down pat. Instead of a string quartet bowing away this has a woodwind quintet taking up a whole side giving us Coleman distilled to a more highbrow "this jazz ain't just more of dat dumbo music" attitude. The trio of Coleman/Izenzon/Moffett retain the original approach to the new jazz while stretching out into mid/late-decade shapes of sounds to come. Early violin and trumpet extrapolations pave the way for the various AACM and related splurges to hit the collections of all kinda tightass spiritual college boy record collectors for years to come, one of whom might even be....ME?????
THE SADISTA SISTERS LP (Transatlantic, England)

Well, I was warned. But sheesh, the idea of hot punkoid theatre rock with a mass o' musical variations tossed in did appeal to me so what's a good thirtysome years of ruminating about it? Unfortunately THE SADISTA SISTERS LP is just more of that overproduced cabaret schmooze done up with some snappy lyrics and perhaps a few good pop rock melodies that don't quite offend even our more refined tastes. But is that really enough??? This is better'n the oft-hyped mid-seventies feminist pootenanny group the Deadly Nightshade, but that's kinda like saying rectal itch is better than groin pull.
The Grateful Dead-ANTHEM OF THE SUN (expanded edition) CD-r burn (originally on Warner Brothers/Seven Arts/Rhino)

I will admit that I harbored a tad bitta interest in this after looking at the instrumental line up on the back and seeing the use of a prepared piano (this was during my John Cage appreciation days) and later on reading a writeup of this in BAM BALAM drawing comparisons to the Red Crayola (this was during my Red Crayola appreciation days), but now that I've finally heard ANTHEM well... The dumboid rock kids playing avant garde schtick is interesting yet so shallow sounding next to more punkified practitioners like the Stooges, while the psychedelic imagery really flops about next to the real deal of the Thirteenth Floor Elevators and just about every other lysergic lingerers who weren't lucky enough to appear on PLAYBOY AFTER DARK. And when they get into that twango-neo-funk groove it's pretty much time to forget the entire enchilada. "Love in your heart, acid in your veins and ANTHEM OF THE SUN on your turntable" indeed!
Nico-THE END CD (Island)

Here's Nico during her brief stay at Island right before she blabbed herself off the label during one of her more lucid moments. The mid-seventies deca-smarm that Island was wallowing in at the time certainly did help what with the appearance of Eno and Roxy Music's Phil Manzanara (playing a fitting enough neo-Reedian solo on "The End") not to mention former Velvetite John Cale who surprisingly enough was also basking in the glory of an Island Records contract. The usual dark ethereal musings with just enough avant garde to lift it outta the Middle Ages, capped off with a stellar reading of "Das Lied Der Deutchen" the hit of your sleeper cell with this album which has enough Teutonic trounce to last until the thousand years are up.
The Soft Boys-A CAN OF BEES CD (Ryko); RAW CUTS CD (Overground England); UNDERWATER MOONLIGHT 2-CD set (Matador)

The Soft Boys were probably my favorite seventies retro-dig of the year and I do mean it! Like all of my favorite rock groups from the era (take Mirrors f'rinstance), the Boys took the best moments of sixties rock 'n roll and shaped it for a seventies consciousness, and in this case they actually managed to get people to sit up and take notice which I guess was easier to do in the rock-active clime of seventies England than it was in Cleveland. Really, nothing has made me a happier camper than this group which, although totally ignored by your standard "FM rock"-bred fan who is now gumming his mush to Journey, are still remembered by smart rockers and amerindie turdbombs alike meaning that...these guys have influenced a whole lotta weak-kneed floppers out there and you better believe it!!!!

RAW CUTS contains what I believe is everything these guys recorded (if not released) for the infamous Raw Records label. As with most of the Raw catalog this rumble has much to do with various sixties innovations as it does with late-seventies punkdom, and the primal baseness of these tracks (featuring early versions of such downright hits as "Give it to the Soft Boys" and "Wading Through a Ventilator") really do drive home the ol' FACT about just what this p-rock thingie was all about before it along with heavy metal got slammed about and fitted into a form that was more or less easier for geekoid kids to identify with. Or something like that. Anyway, I sure wish that the group's Radar Records single got popped into the mix but, considering that was for a different company we're outta luck on that one.

A CAN OF BEES was one record that I really would have loved to have picked up back when I first espied it at the old Record Revolution (now an extremely mere shell of its former self) when it hit the racks back '80 way, but considering just how scarce moolah was at the time I really hadda choose my record purchases wisely (TRANSLATION---twas better to hit the used records available in the basement and pick up now extremely rare spins for mere pennies at that). Too bad I didn't slip this one under my purposefully baggy jacket because A CAN OF BEES is the kinda album that I was most definitely looking for at the time and it really would have fit in swell with all of the Pere Ubu/Velvet Underground/New York rock that was taking up a good portion of my shoulda been studying time. Again, all of those late-sixties English psychedelic moves meets mid-sixties Amerigan punk rock filtered through mid/late seventies fanzine consciousness rolled into one mighty ball of well-produced psychopop sounds can be found here, and if you had told me that these were unreleased Syd Barrett track back in 1973 I wouldn't have said a word, mainly because in 1973 I had never even heard of, let alone heard Syd Barrett! But yeah, I can say that I got about as excited about this one as I did when I first heard PIPER AT THE GATES OF DAWN.

UNDERWATER MOONLIGHT seems to be another balla wax entirely though, sounding well overproduced and professional almost in a major label scoopup and polish sorta way. Maybe a few more spins'll have it growing on me like those weird skin blebs on my eyelids, but for now all of those roots of REM and eighties wuss alternative sounds are kinda making me wish that I had gone deaf around 1983. This double set is what I'd call a pretty good package for the fan and follower of this band and David Fricke's liner notes and good enough (and jambus packtus enough) to get any real aficionado of the form frothing at the mouth, but between you and me let me tell you that this 'un does sound how-shall-I-say too refined next to the group's earlier efforts. But if you're into refined eighties indie rock and still find solo Hitchcock enticing you probably have this one already and don't give two hoots what I think about it, right?
The Lollipop Shoppe-JUST COLOUR CD (Revola England)

When I first heard this a looooong time ago I thought it was a mess of good intentions that sorta got gobbled up along the way. Nowadays I find this sole Lollipop Shoppe platter a little more...cohesive???? Well, it STILL doesn't seem to hold up as a solid whole for solid holes like myself, but nowadays I can't help but noting all of the boffo West Coast reference points that make this a definite keeper. Traces of Love, early Alice Cooper circa. PRETTIES FOR YOU and of course the Seeds can be discerned, and even when Fred Cole and company seem to be going off on a wild goose tangent you can appreciate the whacked out approach even if you kinda think it's screwed. The rare post-LP single on Shamley is also included, but that's a real sickie (or so Erik Lindgren once said) which is why the stuck it on at the end.
Phil Ochs-CHORDS OF FAME 2-LP set (A&M)

I s'pose I should hate Ochs if only because this comsymp was the idol of more'n a few of my grade and high school teachers (the young just outta-college gal types who would lambaste us third graders for not caring about the problems and troubles in this world), but like I always do I thought I'd give the guy a chance with this '76 double set that was pushed out to cash in on the guy's recent deep-sixing.

And here's da verdict----although I find most all of his solo acoustic folkie material too derivative of the more earthier Dylan folk grumblings, Och's electric (read: commercial) trackage is rather pleasing. In fact at times it could be quite invigorating. But the message-laden preciousness of it all tends to wear thin to the point where I loathe all of those teachers even MORE for adhering to this feelygood wash and trying to jam it all down our eight-year-old suburban slob throats.

Liner notes by the Fugs' Ed Sanders attempt (and mostly fail) to keep the revolutionary spirit alive at a time when nobody seemed to care anymore, while at least one live track was recorded during Och's stay at Max's Kansas City when Patti Smith was making her professional debut as the opening act. (And you dear reader can make up your own sweet and poignant closing line to this review considering what I was about to say was telegraphed a good ten miles in advance and it would just be too OBVIOUS for me to blurt it out myself!)  Overall it's nothing but something that reminds me of somethings that remind me of just what a struggle it was being a ranch house kiddie forced to deal with world savers.
Country Joe and the Fish-ELECTRIC MUSIC FOR THE MIND AND BODY CD-r burn (originally on Vanguard)

While we're on the subject of how the sixties mighty protesters have fallen, gotta say that ELECTRIC MUSIC still don't sound as revolutionary as more than a few snoots have suggested. Even with the psychedelic organ swirls I find the whole shebang rather tame compared with the sustenance we call sixties garage band rock, and although it is more'n easy to see why some up-and-front sixties rock ranters swear by them all I can discern's the entire collapse of hard-edged protest rock into the miasma of late-sixties peacenlove happy-happy. Nothing to sneer at, mind you, but nothing that'll speak to my 1966 sense of rock 'n roll purity the way Sky Saxon does.
Moby Grape-20 GRANITE CREEK CD-r burn (originally on Reprise)

I must admit that I did have an aversion to listening to any of the post-Columbia-era Moby Grape albums if only due to rumor, but 20 GRANITE CREEK ain't nearly as bad as some of the schmucks out there made it out to be. The group still do the blooze/country/rock thing as precisely as they used to, and although there is quite a bit of that bloat-on gruff 'n tumble snarl that ruined many a platter for me extant it ain't like I'm gonna wanna rip this particular spinner off the way I so many of the early-seventies overwrought specimens of West Coast over-rambunctiousness. The re-emergence of Skip Spence in the band was a benefit, but why is he limited to only one composition, the surprisingly strong instrumental "Chinese Song"???
Screamin' Jay Hawkins-I PUT A SPELL ON YOU CD (Black Tulip, try Norton records)

I've been in the market for a neato collection of Hawkins' more scabrous tracks throughout the years, and I guess this one comes closest to what I've been looking for. Nothing otherworldly special about it (and in fact kinda supermarket/budget store worthy what with the lack of liner notes and tons of rare pix we all adore), but its packed with most of the better known Hawkins treasures as well as a number of rarities that pad these collections out so well.  And don't you think it was coincidental that I was listening to none other than "Constipation Blues" while suffering from the very same affliction, and whilst on the pot as well? I don't...sheesh, it seems like I'm ALWAYS suffering from not being able to dump the rock collection into the porcelain pool!
The Red Crayola-PARABLE OF ARABLE LAND 2-CD set (Charly/Snapper England), GOD BLESS THE RED KRAYOLA AND ALL WHO SAIL WITH IT CD (Charly/Snapper England)

Dunno how I passed up on these professionally-packaged and sourced from the masters reissues of the first two Red Crayola platters all these years (actually only four of 'em!), but I'm sure glad they have appeared in the presence of my bedside boom box at least this late in the underground psychedelic game. No need to tell you just how vital, essential, ahead of the game and downright FUN these releases are, and the detailed notes with rare information and even rarer snaps (the photo of the Familiar Ugly in the studio makes 'em out to look just like that teenage crime gang Audie Fulton and the Mod Squad who popped up in an episode of DRAGNET!) are enough to make us long-time under-the-underground types gush with pure addled record bin hopping glee! The sound's good (if that matters) and the overall care and love that was put into these projects is enough to make me wanna run down the street nude screaming in unbridled joy so until streaking makes a comeback MAKE MINE CRAYOLA!!!

Whatever happened to Slade indeed! I mean, here was this group who was pretty hot property back inna early/mid-seventies to the point where I'm sure more'n a few frazzled fanatical followers of the form were thinkin' they were the next Rolling Stones if not MC5 (though some had Black Oak Arkansas pegged as just that!). By the time 1976 had rolled in the hits they were having in ol' Blighty and elsewhere (not the US of Whoa!) had just dried up. I mean it was almost like they didn't even exist in the first place and nobody out there even seemed to remember them or even wanted to admit they ever existed for that matter!

And it was a shame too because although Slade weren't exactly a perfect group they delivered a good whalloping style of rock 'n roll that was part British pop and heavy metal with a little bitta punk in the ol' 1972 CREEM magazine definition thrown in for good magick. And these two platters which are an obvious attempt to cash in on the seventies recovered memory crowd only prove just what a fantab bunch these guys were along with the Sweet and the rest of those English acts that alla the snobs sneered at, but only distant Amerigan fanzine types could see as something beyond the teenybop curse that was laid on 'em by jealous progressive rock ditzes.

The Salvo release features the first two Ambrose Slade-era platters and as far as first tries go these guys did pretty otay. Slick true, but slick in that top-notch well produced way that sounded good enough to me back when I was twelve and the likes of T. Rex would pop up on the radio. Not always at Slade's best, but the tough pop sound, no matter how much it's aimed at the same geeky gal who sat next to you in school and smelled like stale gym socks, still manages to exude that tough nerve-rattle which might as well have been taken straight offa BACK IN THE USA! And if their cover of "Shape of Things to Come" ain't just that maybe I should find a better way to waste my time like salvaging gloves from the wastebaskets of proctologists county-wide.

The Polydor "Greatest Hits" package is cheezy looking enough but as usual that's part of the fun. Alla the big hits are here including that thing that Quiet Riot wrecked a good ten years later as well as that one where Jimmy Lea plays some tasteful violin, and for having everything all in one neat pile you can't do better. Unfortunately you can hear the group's downfall as they're somehow manipulated into mere product and at a time when we sure coulda used more high energy, but as the famous philosopher Heinrich Schtunk once said "dem's der breaks". But hey, even Slade at their cornballiest like on "Merry Christmas Everybody" sounds fresh enough that if I had seen this 'un in the import singles racks way back when well, I wouldn't buy the thing but I might pick it up to glance at the picture sleeve.

A band that should have experienced a full blown revival long ago, and as far as reeducating yourself these might come in handy, along with the live in Poland platter which I still think somebody just made up as a sick ethnic joke.
THE GOOD RATS CD (Repertoire. Germany)

Not quite better'n the MC5 and Stooges as some guy wrote in a letter to Lester Bangs that was printed in in some early-seventies issue of CREEM, but if I dare say so it's darn close. Well, not "close" but if you like late-sixties outta nowhere carnage in your music---y'know, the stuff that stood in stark contrast to the whole grain folk music that was beginning to make a comeback at the time---this should sate. True the horns and strings tend to irritate more than accentuate while you just WONDER why the producers get more pic space in the gatefold sleeve than the band (who ain't even mentioned by name!), but this album is prime post-Rascals white soul cum garage band pounce that still sounds great even fortysome years down the line. The Dictators done up by dagos five years before the fact? Maybe.

Two olde  tyme classics that I finally stooped to picking up digital-wize despite owning three vinyl copies of the former. SINGS remains the warped mid-sixties wonder it was even when Lester Bangs was drawing comparisons twixt Waters' moanings on "Black is the Color" to Yoko Ono's extraterrestrial experiments, and like Ono's early-sixties Cagean works (as well as her solo extrapolations) there is a heavy and dark En Why See feeling that just reeks of the gritty ennui those "filmed on location" bits of cinema made in the burgh always heaped up on me. COLLEGE TOUR is even more avant in approach thanks to the touring ESP stable backing her up, and both of these do make for a nice bitta free sound to play 1965 college pseudointellectual to! Well, at least before you discover the life-reaffirming strains of Grace Slick or something like that. No nude photos, alas.
BUDDY HOLLY & THE CRICKETS 3-CD set (Real Gone Rock & Roll); ROCKIN' BUDDY HOLLY CD (Ting-A-Ling)

Stop da presses time here, for BUDDY HOLLY & THE CRICKETS has just about everything that the guy laid onto wax within its four silver dollar sides from all of his album and single cuts, session work of varying interest as well as the 1960 Crickets effort that gave us the original "I Fought the Law"! The package may be sterile considering the lack of a slam-bam informative booklet, but if you go on line and weed out alla that nauseating fan dribble ("Oh Buddy how we miss you and there's nothing else in this world for me to do now that you've been dead for over fifty-five years boo hoo slobber slobber!!!") maybe something of interest on the man will pop up. Though I kinda doubt it. You might want to also know that ROCKIN' BUDDY HOLLY has a few repeats from any and/or all of the above on it, but the alternate takes and newies that do show up'll make you feel a whole lot more complete in your Hollyphilia than you already are. But all I wanna know is...did someone tape the time Buddy and his folks got into a heated argument because they wouldn't let Little Richard stay for supper??? That would make for a great disc at any cost!
Lol Coxhill-FLEAS IN CUSTARD LP (Caroline England)

A legendary one (well, at least it was one if you used to read MELODY MAKER's jazz coverage in the seventies), but not as maddening "out there" as I would have hoped. Side A's duet with electric guitarist G. F. Fitzgerald ain't what you'd call out-there AACM atonal catharsis, but it is a slightly intriguing slice of chamber jazz that goes off on its own proper tangents. Closer to the English "new jazz" thing than to the Amerigan urban variety, but I'm sure most discerning listeners have come to that conclusion long ago. The flip has Coxhill talking about a variety of jobs he had held (including one where he tossed cow heads into a crusher) as well as engaging in various solo saxophone excursions usually filtered through some type of electronic gadgetry. Slightly liberating, but then again there's that whole dinge of cultured proper behaviour that seems to permeate most aspects of British Isles jazz approach whether it be trad or avant. Maybe if he had only moved to France, 'cause at least those guys knew how to blare out!
Juicy Groove-FIRST TASTE picture disc LP (Payola)

For years I've passed on this one if only out of fear (of losing money if not a good forty minutes outta my life), but Greg Shaw's review of the Rainbow Stardust "Two Shy"/"Starry Ride" single in an old BOMP certainly opened up my orbs! That's on here as well as other downright punk rock-y tracks from this neo-Seeds related groupage that not only featured guitarist/singer Stardust but former Steppenwolf somethingorother Mars Bonfire and Zappa/Beefheart crony Elliot Ingber. Don't let the hippie looks fool ya, this is great repeato-riff post-sixties garage band-styled rock 'n roll that true, does have a tinge of that love and beads commune-sorta bent to it, but it still sounds so out of time that it could have been late-sixties leftovers on one hand and Rodney Bingenheimer English Disco fodder on the other.
Giorgio-SON OF MY FATHER CD (Repertoire, Germany)

The single was hotcha enough, but a whole album from this pre-Donna Summer masterwhiz??? Sure why not, especially after reading Gene Sculatti's review of it in FUSION where he dropped hints about a Seeds influence which of course would get my waxy ear canals in an uproar! Nothing as crucial as Sky Saxon and Co. here true, but if ya like that cheap seventies Europop cheap that never did seem to appeal to anyone over fourteen (at least in my circle) you too will agree that the synthesizer does perk things up quite a bit! And so do the downright electronic pop numbers that sorta bridge the gap between the 1971 AM charts and...Abba???

No comments: