Saturday, November 26, 2016

So how have you been spending your Fangsgiving holiday anyway??? Probably watching a whole lotta useless tee-vee sports and moom pitchers I hope (not). Well, once again credit memeME with bucking the usual trends (other'n a time inna late sixties when I rushed home from a fambly meal to watch a lousy marionette presentation of either RIP VAN WINKLE or TREASURE ISLAND [prob'ly the latter since I recall some one-legged guy innit toppling over] that was being hosted by none other than Bill Harris aka Barney Bean, this time in his Ronald McDonald guise I kid you not!) because what did I do during those crucial hours of food digestion??? None other'n hole myself up in my bedroom, spin a buncha cee-dees (some which are actually reviewed below!) and read a whole slew of comic strip collections that I have acquired as of the past month or so! Well, I thought it was the best thing I could do to channel my inner thirteen-year-old, other'n lock myself inna bathroom with a copy of NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC (the hula girl issue) that is.

Most of the day was spent going through a box of recently acquired via ebay BEETLE BAILEY paperback collections. Fifty-one in all, although there were about ten or so overlaps with a previous BAILEY cache of books which Bill Shute is gonna receive one of these days but still, that's a walloping bunch of books and some might majestic reading if I do say so myself!

It's funny---back when I was a huge comic strip fan during those slip into the double-digit days I couldn't find a BAILEY book anywhere but in flea market piles which is where the only one I've owned for years came from! Now I'm up to my lobes in these and after going through about 3/4th of the box all I gotta say is sheesh, in these days of puritanical scolds and humorless sitcoms ruling the media roost boy were these strips pretty good (and perhaps even dirty in the good ol' schoolboy sense) reading! Even the eighties comics which make up a bulk of the material for these books were pretty boff in that army jokes sorta off-color way, and for me NOTHING after the original SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE that was being created from the late-seventies onward was worth the effort to even have a giggle at! So in the long run of things that's really sayin' somethin' about a comic's lasting humor power in an era when it just darn shouldn't have been!

Long after they were supposed to be, these BEETLE BAILEYs actually were that guffaw-inducing even when a good recycled corny gag dating back to the fifties was being thrown into the mix for the umpteenth time. I know that you more socially astute readers (if in fact they haven't all retreated) loathe this type of humor, but as the old prayer went "Give us this day our daily groan" and between the classic Bushmiller-era NANCY and BAILEY how could one miss out on a strip that might or might not have the kinda joke to make you gag or even yuk it up a bit in your own pre-culturally conscious way????

With a label like that, I don't care if it don't work!
Remember, the eighties were the days of the feminist onslaught against everything that seemed demeaning to "women" (remember their tirades against the old and rather innocuous Whisk "Ring Around The Collar" commercials?) and the General Halftrack/Miss Buxley comics surely fit into their baggy eyesights in that never-ending attempt to make men as boring and humorless as feminists are. Also don't forget all of the other "offensive" aspects of BEETLE that these modern day uplifters have tried to squash, such as the Zero character who a few wags along the way have deemed mentally retarded for some strange reason or another. But if bored housewives and ugly ladies wanna get their tits all in an uproar about something well I guess that BAILEY was an even handier target than Larry Flynt!

You might not agree with me, but considering just how it was those upstanding citizen types who eventually ruined the strip by toning it way down these early BEETLEs come off really radical and risque for today's totalitarian tastes. It's funny how the obviously humorless women's lip types just didn't get the running gag that the General was being the obvious buffoon when it came to his behaviour towards Miss (now "Ms"---shee-yit!) Buxley or that Zero was far from being retarded and in fact had his rather surprising spurts of genius, but I never did expect things like irony to work on such thick-skulled types who still fret about glass ceilings and the myth of unequal pay. And I can add to that all of those creampuffs who would write into newspapers aghast that Sgt. Snorkel would beat up Beetle and that this is no laughing matter considering all of the privates who do get beat up by their superiors!  Sheesh, its now like we can't laugh anymore other'n what we're directed to laugh at, and it's all on COMEDY CENTRAL fercryinoutloud!

Do you remember that mid-nineties-vintage John Stossel segment from ABC's 20/20 where the man was complaining about how we can't laugh at anything we used to, from the speech impediments of the Warner Brothers cartoon characters to BEETLE BAILEY itself? Strip creator Mort Walker was even interviewed for the segment telling the world that even his own sister told him that BAILEY wasn't funny now that the General went to a sensitivity seminar and the whole lecherous angle of the strip was jettisoned for good! Twennysome years later, and all I gotta add to the fray is that the new prohibition only makes these old comics, along with those seventies-vintage NATIONAL LAMPOONs and early-twentieth century movies with stereotypes galore all the more tasty for me. I have nothing against a whole load of people in this world of ours, but I do have a special loathing for the new breed of teacher's pets and evil scolds that have sprung up in a strange attempt to make this world a "better place", and after being around the Pee-Cee block a few times I get the idea that this "better place" is one that doesn't have any use for old Educational Pictures shorts or PEBBLES albums. If there were to be a fuhrer for this reich it probably would be none other than Anastasia Pantsios preaching at us from the pulpit of the Trinity Church of Those Better Than Thou.

Back to Walker---in some---no---many ways I'm not that keen on Walker for kowtowing to a group of smug humorless members of the female gender who couldn't elicit a catcall even if they passed by a hog least his rebuttals re. Halftrack and Buxley in the eighties were what any normal person would have uttered in a more sane environment, but doing a 180 like he eventually did (maybe with some arm-twisting from higher up) makes it a little hard to like the guy the way I used to. Talk about making irreversible wrong turns in life!

Ah, but these classic BEETLE BAILEY comics, complete with the old gags that have been milked over and over again for, are as fresh and as potent as they were the day you wrapped your dog's turds in them. How can anyone with a sense of guffaw not laugh at these gags including the Lt. Flap racial jokes where the white soldiers, especially the tres-cube Lt. Fuzz, can't seem to come to grips with his hip style, not to mention the typos on various orders leading to funny results and of course the ones where Miss Buxley drives the General wild with her short skirts, plunging neckline and bending over to file something. And hey, if I were a grade school teacher and a boy student of mine wouldn't wanna zing a gal's butt with a rubber band gun I'd call the school psychiatrist on him!

Let's just conclude this soapbox editooreal  with the plain and simple comment that at its best BEETLE BAILEY was one of the better comics to appear on the post-WW II comics page, and it's too bad that it too had to become re-shaped and re-vamped for a new ball-less society that couldn't laugh at a cripple if it were run over by a steamroller. And come to think of it, even DENNIS THE MENACE ain't what he used to be back when the kid would walk in on his mom in the bath and skin Mr. Wilson's head right down to skull...oh wait, that was MAD magazine, right???
This week's blog is pretty hotcha if I do say so, and that's not only because of the BAILEY blast I started this romp out with either (way too long but necessary in today's cyborg world)! Got some nice circles to encompass you here, some from Bill Shute, none from Paul McGarry, and some direct from the labels themselves! Thanks to ya all for your kindness because now I don't have to go without shoes for the winter! 

AK MUSICK CD (Mental Experience Spain, available via Guerrsen)

Leave it to Mental Experience to dig up this ultra-rare avant garde spinner recorded back 1972 way. Being of German origin it does have that European remote feeling to it, kinda reminding me of a number of platters that BYG-Aktuel were putting out when they weren't diving into the New Black Music. Not really jazz but close enough as they used to say, AK Musick dwell into what seems to be the post-serial movement that people more attuned to the whole 12-tone thingie might appreciate, and I'm positive that fans of everyone from the Sea Ensemble to John Cage can find something to stammer their hammers with here. And besides, those used bins that were FILLED with such outta-the-loop wonders have been flushed out years ago, so where else are you gonna get your doo-wah classics anyway???


Bile Svetlo-DELNICI BILEHO SVETLA CD (Guerilla Records, Czech Republic)

You (well, at least some of us) have grooved to the sounds of the seventies Czechoslovakian underground whether it be the Zappa-cum-Velvets post-psych of the Plastic People of the Universe,  DG 307's industrial free sound and the punk rock rumbles of the Umela Hmotas. Now it's time for a little WHITE LIGHT (or in this cast Bile Svetlo) in your life!

With a name like that I guess you'd be thinkin' that Bile Svetlo woulda been yet another one of those Velvet Underground tributes (at least in gutter drone spirit) that were spawned in the wake of Vaclav Havel's acquisition of a copy of their first spinner during a traipse to New York City, eh? Well wrong again Pongo, for these guys actually captured the spirit of prime-era Captain Beefheart and the Magic Ones in their overall approach, at least when group founder and former PP Pavel Zeman (drums) wasn't lodging in a nearby mental institution. Also in the act was Jiri Fryc on flute and vocals, he once being a member of Umela Hmota which must make these guys yet another Underground Czech Supergroup considering all of the past historical ref. pts. that was being poured into it.

Half-rehearsal and half-live, this platter really does capture that down and dirty Iron Curtain rock feeling that must have permeated the entire region at the time. There's more than just an "air" of desperation in these mostly minor chord musical mutters, but the Beefheartian free jazz blues drive really does suit the situation well. I also detect more than a scad of Canterburian Soft Machine style between the Ratledge-esque organ and the Elton Dean-ish horns which should suite more'n a few mid-seventies import bin watchers out there.

You're in for a mighty hotcha music listening session with this, especially if you were one who spent the seventies gobbling up the whole Zappa/import/new jazz movement that was so prevalent you could even find these kinda albums in actual record shops! I guarantee that more'n a few of you will be satisfied with this, and for those who aren't well...the year isn't over yet and I still wanna stick to my 2016 resolutions as best I can!

The Music Asylum-COMMIT THYSELF CD-r burn (originally on United Artists)

Without trying to look all haughty and knowledgeable by googling this 'un, lemme just lay down some prima facie opinions on these Music Asylum guys. Hmmm, they sound kinda smart, like a little progressive rock in the old Lester Bangs even liked it fashion here 'n there with some So Cal seventies flash and Todd Rundgren pseudointellectualism here not forgetting a whole load of Zappa freakiness there. Even some traces of early fusion! Not forgetting a cover of the as yet not legally released Dylan toon "Million Dollar Bash" (which Fairport Convention did a good year before on their second spinner---that GREAT WHITE WONDER album really must've gotta around)! For being one of those outta nowhere platters that sunk like a turd in the toilet of the record industry this is a pretty decant release that captures the rock zeitgeist of the sixties/seventies cusp as good as all of those save-the-world platters we continue to cherish. If I were one of those cheap freeform FM deejays back during them days this mighta gotten a choice AM play, right before I got fired that is.

Brinsley Schwarz-FIFTEEN THOUGHTS OF BRINSLEY SCHWARZ CD-r burn (originally on United Artists, England)

I guess this is the sampler that UA put out in England for all of those Stiff Records fans who weren't around to pick up the originals when they were out, and for a quickie cash in job this one's probably just about as good as the Can one where they got Pete Shelley to do the liner notes. Yeah there is a li'l bit of that laid back sound which old time compadres warned me would be too SF/Grateful Dead for my tastes, but thankfully that don't last long. Overall the pop/country stylings really do lead the way towards alla that Nick Lowe/Elvis Costello punk rock that was just too wild and gnarly (really!) for the AM pop fan in your life (and I should know...I should REMEMBER) and if labels could regurgitate old Can, Pink Fairies and Stooges albums for a new audience why not these guys? If you were part of the English pub rock collective here in the United States of Whoa and followed all of the weaklies and TROUSER PRESS coverage extant, I'll bet you had more'n one Brinsley Schwarz album in your collection, hunh???

Various Artists-JUSTAFIXATION CD-r burn (originally on Funny Records, England)

A collection of commercial psychedelic jinglings from late sixties England that might just be your cup. Some familiar names cozy up with a batch of forgotten faves to make for a pretty interesting collection of what was vying for the precious pennies of young English gal-hood what with the at-times lush production and patented yet potent pop moves that these tracks exude. Personal fave...Legay's "No One" which has this kinetic guitar line that kinda reminds me of a bumble bee that would have snuck into the gaping space between my ears...a good enough one to have appeared on one of those PERFUMED GARDEN samplers but so rare that I don't even think that John Peel knew they existed!

Big Jay McNeely-PLAYS A RHYTHM AND BLUES CONCERT CD-r burn (originally on Savoy Records)

Dunno if you go for these early r 'n b honkers but I kinda find 'em suitable enough for these lonely Sunday Afternoon kick up the feet times. Of course it ain't "exactly" rock et roll the way you probably like it but it'll do what with McNeely's beefy tenor sax blurting out those heavy tones to those patented if expressive r 'n b patterns that have been milked to all high heaven these past few eons. Actually this is downright impressive jazzy stuff that doesn't deliver on any jive-y pretension nor sophisticado airs unlike what passes for jazz in the mainstream these (and other) days.

Blasts from the past, and I'm talking like over a hunnerd years here! William Jennings Bryan and William Howard Taft give the democratic and republican view respectively, while the sermon to be heard it so boring it makes that chaplain from BEETLE BAILEY's sound invigorating. The ethnic (mostly Jewish) humor is rather dated, but it does give you an idea of what people found funny back during the turn of the century and perhaps you can even find some har-har moments lo these many years later. Well, I got more enjoyment outta those lighthearted ethnic romps than I do from anything to be found on Comedown Central so maybe them people really did know how to yuk it up in a good way unlike in today's comparatively cyborg world.
Various Artists-OTHER NAMES FOR NOWHERE CD-r burn (Bill Shute

As usual...interesting. Of course the single by Driver was a pretty good all out rocker (too bad more of these local seventies acts didn't get their music preserved like this) and the obligatory avant garde track good enough even though these Arcane Waves people were probably about as beret and stale Doritos as you can get (well, at least I get that impression!). The Ellington air check pretty historical and all, the Pulsating Big Band Sounds about as sixties spooky spy as you can imagine, and Don Gibson sorta straddles the country and pop realms not really hitting either of 'em. And I always thought Wynder K. Frog was a prog rock they do straight ahead jazz which really surprised me! And yeah, there's also a CBS radio broadcast from July '40 stuck here and after listening to it all all I gotta say is...sheesh, all I gotta say is wasn't that a boring day!

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