Sunday, January 31, 2016

It's been gettin' pretty hard writin' these preambles to my rambles as of late. NOT  because of any lack o' inspiration in the grey room, but because of a whole LOAD of inspiration lacking in the overall musical realm. Or, to be more succinct, inspiration that might just come from any sorta day-to-day existence which just goes to show you just how beyond ordinary (heck, I'll take "ordinary" over dead dull any day!) life has become for a longer time'n I can imagine. Yeah, the Chris o' yore who used to chew off many an ear over the latest record, group, discovery, tee-vee show and just about any outta-the-realm-of-stodgy piece o' kultural info is pretty much dead and buried, replaced by a sagging set o' cells who seems more concerned about nasal blackhead poppings than whatever there is comin' out on the "cool music listening scene". Hey, you might not want to face up to the facts but very little music of spark and energy has come out on in these past few years no matter what some on the blogosphere might think, and if you've heard it from me then you know it's old news!

But (as I've said many a time) trudge on I must even if I do repeat myself without even realizing it. Thankfully a few morsels of sonic sustenance have make their way to my cranial capacities as of late. Thanks to Guerssen Records for not just the Uther Pendragon release mentioned below but two other spinners I'll be reviewing in the future considering how I gotta piecemeal this good stuff 'n not shoot my wad off all at once. Also praise be to P.D. Fadensonnen and Bill Shute for the various freebees I'm still paving my way through. As for you Paul McGarry, I managed to give one of your burnt offerings a go, so I do hope you will not be offended by it all! (Just kiddin'---can't you take a joke? I know that """""I""""" sure can't!)

Back to the subject of this bein' the "no future" Johnny R predicted way back when, sadly enough a whole lot of the dire 'n gloom that I predicted back as early as the late-seventies has come true. Back then I just knew that the great old tee-vee shows that used to make up the afternoon rerun circuits back inna sixties and seventies would be banished to the far reaches of cathode heaven only to be replaced by the dour comedies and dry dramas that were being produced at the time (and come to think of it, those programs have been stricken from the schedules themselves only to be replaced by even worse shows!). I also predicted that rock 'n roll would lose its general pounce and sound even worse than the AM/FM slop that was permeating the air then. Of course I was spot on with that 'un! Worst of all, I just knew that once we got into the new millennium it would all be wooshed away in a technological electronic revolution that pretty much made the entire history of civilization meaningless, sorta like a new Year Zero with the robot from LOST IN SPACE in charge of everything. And maybe I'm right (just barely) about that 'un as well too!

But like I said...trudge, trudge, TRUDGE... And you WILL read it because hey, what else is there for you to do in this year of post-post-post everything and anything for that matter. And if you like, you may even live vicariously through me via these writings. Don't mind at all. After all, I live vicariously through Sluggo.

Uther Pendragon-SAN FRANCISCO EARTHQUAKE 2-CD set (or 3-LP if you prefer) (Guerssen Records, Spain)

You won't remember this, and I will admit that sometimes it is hard enough for even me to remember in the first place, but San Francisco was at one time the big rock 'n roll promise that many both astute or not were waiting for back in them greening of rock 'n roll days. Sure in 1966 just about every snatch of rock music fiber was firm and frolicking, but there was a particular folk rock strain cum avant garde expression in the music of San Fran that made more'n a few budding acolytes sit up and take notice. And believe-it-or-leave-it, but it wasn't even a snobbish movement born of a beret and stale Doritos mentality either. Keeping the love'n jamz outta the equation it's easy to see that a good portion of the bands coming outta the soon to be fleabitten burgh were definitely feedback-laden hate-spewin' hard attacks that pretty much were not the soundtrack to the laid back minions who flocked to various parks and did whatever they were programmed to do there. These bands were loud, violent and even punky, though by the end of the decade the entire area was so shell shocked that all it could do was nothing but find comfort and solace in ancient memories of the Old West and early folkie down home front porch Marin County jams. The sickening aspects of laid-back whole grain health 'n stench had become firmly entrenched into the entire area by this time and only the Flamin' Groovies and Moby Grape were left standing to defend the rock 'n roll spirit that once was, no doubt about that!

And maybe we can count Uther Pendragon as one of the last rockin' rebels to make it outta the whole debacle alive 'n kickin' as well. Yeah, I do believe that I've never heard of 'em before this hotcha collection of the group's 1966-1975 best came out, but after even one spin even I could see that these guys were perhaps the last true-to-form group in the area that didn't succumb to revolutionary Slickisms turning unto e-zy listing downer-kid hackdom. Nor did they evolve into Wild West radicals for the sake of pandering to a buncha patchouli-laden est-lovers like the Dead undoubtedly did (at least via. their association with the New Riders of the Purple Sage). No, Uther Pendragon were, like the Groovies and Grape and Oxford Circle, (live) Quicksilver, early Big Brother and the Holding Company and (naturally) Blue Cheer one of those local acts that could actually bypass that whole patented and preachy youth movement we-are-all-one-culture hype and produce some music that could smash through any preconceived barriers put up against them. Plutonian Music that was made for the times only the times were too dense to realize it.

Yes it sure does sound West Coast late-sixties, only without the gnawing pretension and slick production that marred many a platter that came outta hipstersville at the time. In fact, these recordings could have come outta Anytown USA (even that buncha kids who used to blast away down the street) they're that indicative of the entire rock mindset of the day that didn't get washed away by the heart-rendering relevance trip of the early-seventies. They kinda sound the way I sure wished Redwing did after reading about 'em in DENIM DELINQUENT...born of the mid-sixties garage band groundswell and still retaining that primitive enthusiasm long after it became unfashionable.

Sheesh, Uther Pendragon are so keyed into the entire under-the-underground rock spirit that even their mid-seventies tracks have the same basic strut and pounce that their mid-sixties ones had! It's amazing just how the core of this band (Mark Lightcap on rhythm guitar and vocals, Martin Espinosa on bass guitar and vocals and Bruce Marelich on lead guitar and vocals) could work up such a tight fit music-wise, but if Mike Stax can be believed these guys really did live together, rehearse seven days a week and maybe even did the dirty deed together in typical MC5 fashion all of to which I can say is take that Captain Beefheart!

And not only that, but the guitar play's good enough to have had Jerry Garcia sweat it out lookin' over his shoulder for the new big guitar turk onna block that's how entrenched in the Big Beat Marelich is...heck the whole platter woulda had R. Meltzer peck out paens for CIRCUS that woulda made his Soft White Underbelly plugs seem rather tepid in comparison. (Well, bassist Espinoza might have even been the best up-and-comer on the instrument better'n any of the big names of the day and alla Meltzer's gab about SWU sounding like "Rhinoceros plus a Moby Grape version of the Velvet Underground plus the Kinks version of Donovan plus a Stones' version of the Airplane plus Del Shannon..." might apply to these guys way more if only we didn't know he was yanking us around all along. Or was he?)

Come to think of it, but when Uther Pendragon really start cookin' on all hot plates they might even be the best merger or early-seventies Floydian space excursions and CREEM-honed punk rock since My Solid Ground! Just give a listen to "Troubles" (disque 2) if you wanna clear up any doubts.

I'll bet Stax's liner notes are a hoot, but I didn't get 'em with my FREEBEE promo copy courtesy of Guerssen (thanks for the disques guys!). Hopefully you'll be able to get an eyefull once you order yours, and if I do say so myself get the three-LP set which not only has nicer and bigger pictures but a poster you can even hang on your wall just like your big sis used to do in 197X! If this ain't one of the best exhumations of 2016 well, then it ain't (but it most certainly least so far!).

A nicety in that this platter contains just about everything available on-line regarding Geof Krozier and his various acts before and during (but not after, alas) the Kongress days. A must for any of you readers who have been following my under-the-underground New York rock ravings these past three or so decades, GEOFF KROZIER AND KONGRESS starts out with the two Magic Word recordings from '67 (tough punk psych worthy of any LP collection that may coagulate soon) and follows with the tee-vee appearance of the Indian Medicine Magic Show that, true, does lose a little in the translation without the madcap visuals but still delivers on the REAL 60s/70s cusp heavy metal meaning of it all.

The Kongress sounds that make up the Krozier video re-appear---twentysome minutes of kraut-inspired late-sixtiesisms bordering the metallic and punk realms, and the Max's clip from '76 just might be the only place any of us are gonna hear the two-guitar line-up where an equally German gal joins the already German Robert Crash for some hefty guitar battles. The Marilyn tracks which close this out are of iffy quality but still conjure up more late-seventies New York magick that would all be wooshed away once the eighties and Mad Donna got hold of the entire burgh. Assemble one for your own wake for the seventies that I seem to be holding every dang day of my life.
Rudi-BIG TIME---THE BEST OF RUDI CD-r burn (originally on Anagram)

A lotta this British punk rock stuff really doesn't hold up the way something along the lines of say...Throbbing Gristle, Suicide, early Pere Ubu or the Seeds do. However, Rudi were definitely one band that didn't fall into the usual ruts of pre-conceived predicaments what with their definitely pop sound which owes about as much to the early-seventies English punk underbelly as it does the spikier stuff. Believe it or not, but the rock Rudi made come closer to the Greg Shawvian tastes of the time from Bolan and the Dolls to those junkstore glam acts that snuck out quickie singles and vanished into the nada. If you thought groups like Spunky Spider and Stud Leather were just as umportant to the growth of punk rock in the area as the familiar names you'll probably like this one better'n Johnny Commode and the Turds!
Television-ARROW CD-r burn (originally on Double Exposure)

I sure remember seeing this particular piece of illegit booty being sold via the likes of Golden Disc, Venus, and other mail order businesses that used to advertise in magazines such as TROUSER PRESS and GOLDMINE. I also remember wanting to possess this platter in the worst way possible, and as you all know I do everything in the worst way possible!

especially remember the hefty price tag that was placed on ARROW because it was a European import bootleg goin' for upwards of twenny-five big ones, which is today's money is like a bazillion dollars which I will admit I just didn't have back during the turn of the decade. But to think that had I only bought it back then I wouldn't really need it because I have it here a good thirty-six years later and like, I saved all of that money in the bargain even if I did have to wait a good lifetime (a lifetime of a horse but who's counting) to get the thing. I hope you have that all figured out in your mind.

But for being a bootleg it sure sounds good 'n professional like it should. Great sound, great performance that captures the group just-pre-breakup, and most of all it gathers up the better aspects of what was passing for underground street rock New York style somewhere between the fall of the Dolls and the fall of Max's. Unlike those early brilliant if loose tapes we've heard the past decade or so Television has tightened up to the point where they almost could classify as a fusion-jazz-punk rock aggregation not that dissimilar to what a whole lotta lesser names on the scene were coming up with.

Tom Verlaine's guitar lines may sound slick next to what he was doing only a good four years prior, but they certainly match the big names in guitar prowess as far as impassioned, non-linear playing goes. And come to think of it, the rest of 'em follow suit with some solid backing that only adds to the overall strength being spewed forth.

Might be available in a free download form out there. I'd gander at that because really, how else would Bill get a copy for either his or my entertainment pleasure???
Various Artists-DIAMONDS IN THE ROUGH VOL. 1---18 UNEARTHED GEMS FROM THE MID-SIXTIES CD-r burn (originally on no particular label)

Six-oh serenades continue on with the arrive of even more garage band gunch from the vaults. Or make the from the record collections of a whole buncha geeks who are so out-of-the-loop that they do nothing else but collect old private-press records by long-forgotten local groups and life/eat/sleep this stuff! Good for them, for who else on this planet would care to preserve a past most fanablas out there would like to forget!

Mostly on the weepy side, the tracks to be found here aren't as top-notch and instantly-embedded-in-your-teenbo-psyche as the goodies that ended up on BACK FROM THE GRAVE. But they sure beat a whole load of the high fiber folkdom that I hadda endure age ten I'll tell ya! Only one familiar name here (the Moving Sidewalks) but with groups sporting monikers like Harley and the Night Riders, the Ivy, the Morning After and the Quarrymen (who obviously give us a halfway-good Beatles swipe) you know you're in for some of the best mid-sixties experiences extant since GILLIGAN'S ISLAND reruns. Heck there's even yet another group goin' by the name the Warlocks on this platter and whether or not they eventually became either the Grateful Dead or the Velvet Underground is irrelevant, since they probably became the crew at Joe's Car Wash down on Main Street right across from the Hot Dog Shoppe!

There's probably a download available somewhere on line, though I get the feeling you'll want an actual vinyl copy for your digs. If so, dish the fish out because hey, this ain't exactly gonna pop up next to the Anita Bryant albums you'll find during your next flea market excursion!
Dead Neanderthals-WORSHIP THE SUN CD-r burn (originally on Relative Pitch)

This Dutch Jazz might not sound as "new" as those who are promoting it probably would like ya to believe, but it sure sounds old as in the best of what old should sound like and no I ain't playin' any verbal tricks on you. When I mean "old" I mean hotcha post-Ornette late-sixties onward total expression that doesn't conjure up images of flamingos, but mental views of that dark and dirty underbelly of it all. Frank Lowe or Roscoe Mitchell come to mind as this mad horn/drums duo scronk forth some of the better jazz to have been heard from the free realm in quite some time. If you think the avant garde took a swan dive into oblivion after the fall of the Loft Scene, this 'un might restore some faith you've lost in humanity, or jazz, or something like that.
Hound Dog Taylor-1960-67 CD-r burn (originally on Blue Eye Blog)

Yeah I was born with the blues too, so maybe I am about as entitled to write about this sorta spew as all of those brainy white critics who think they're down for the struggle just like the bluesmen that they sure love to scribble on about. Taylor's got a great postwar style and verve that sounds about as trasho urban as you can get, and on these sides he sure can lay to waste a whole slew of hippie attempts at the same stratum we've been inundated with for quite some time. Not bad at all, and that's comin' from a guy who pretty much had an aversion to a lotta this blues hype that's been goin' on since I was but a mere adolescent fake.
Various Artists-COSMIC SMOKEY DEBORAH JOURNEY CD-r burn (Bill Shute)

Eh, this 'un ain't as funzy as some of the other Bill burns, but it'll do considering the headcold I'm now trying to fight off. Tracks by the Grapes of Rathe and Harbinger (not to mention the extremely precious Butterfly who probably thinks he sounds like Syd Barrett but comes off like James Taylor during detox) are more or less hippie folk musings that I never could get away from far enough, though Tom Bailey did have a bit of spark even though he might consider himself the latest incarnation of Warren Zevon. The furrin' stuff seems to satisfy more, what with the French Les Luths doing a good '64-styled neo-Beatles outing and Die Skypipers playing "Red River Rock" with what sounds like a sweet potato. Jerry Raye and Fenwick are neato as well even though they were probably suburban oneupman types who got straight "C"'s unlike us bottom-scrapers. The big band stuff wasn't so special though, but I better shut up because I wouldn't want to lose the Jean-Claude Pelletier Orchestra a gig at the Paris Econo-Lodge'r anything.

1 comment:

Charles Hodgson said...

That Uther Pendragon "Troubles" has some of the demo-room proto-metal stoner nihilism found on the mighty "Last Days Here" track by Pentagram. Nice! Thanks, Chris!