Thursday, February 22, 2018

MOOM PITCHER REVIEW! FEAR starring PETER COOKSON, WARREN WILLIAM and ANNE GWYNNE (1946)!

Bizarro fare. Mid-forties Monogram film noir that has all of the right touches one expected from that studio, but frankly where is the fear??? Well, there's at least some fear in this film, but for a moom to have a title like that it's gotta be jam packed into it, and sad to say that just ain't the case!

Peter Cookson plays this down-on-his-luck med student who's not only broke and behind in his rent, but he's just lost his scholarship to one of those typically staid colleges you see in these forties pictures which really adds up to bad luck on his part if you don't say! After hearing some of the guys at school talkin' about their professor who, besides running a pawn shop operation on the side and keeping his vast fortune on the premises is a real tough turd to crack, Cookson decides to do some cracking himself on the prof's skull. Cookson doesn't get the moolah but he gets in a whole load of inner gut twisting because the very next day the guy gets a thousand dollar check for a magazine article he wrote so it was like he didn't hafta go 'n do in the old jerk even if the world is a better place without him!

Of course the guilt trips build and build what with the police at first suspicious then acting rather pal-sy and Cookson seemingly digging himself in deeper and deeper but hey, this ain't DETOUR and frankly the ending is one of the sappiest I've seen since THE WIZARD OF OZ. Cookson's good enough as the hapless student though fails to ooze any sympathetic qualities while Anne Gwynne as the femme interest just falls flatter than Olive Oyl's bustline (must be that forties hairdo which really turns me off). Warren William as the detective playing the ol' good cop/bad cop on/off is also a lukewarmish character as is Nestor Paiva as the key-tossin' gumshoe who always seems to be tailing Cookson and perhaps a little too obviously at that.

Actually a good late-night wowzer that ebbs and flows enough to keep interest, but not the best to come outta the same studio that gave us the East Side Kids and those Bela Lugosi films with Vince Barnett all over the place. But oh, that gag-inducing ending!!!

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

COMIC BOOK REVIEW BY BILL SHUTE! SWING SISSON VOLUME ONE (Gwandanaland Comics #373)


The character of SWING SISSON had his own stories running in FEATURE COMICS from 1941-1950, but he never had his own comic book. He is a swing band leader who also fights crime--which seems to always find him--along with his lady vocalist Bonnie Baxter and his sax player Toby Tucker. We sometimes forget how huge a force in popular culture such big-band leaders as Benny Goodman or Tommy Dorsey or Gene Krupa were back in the late 1930’s through the late 1940’s. They had massive fan clubs and teenagers lined up outside venues for their shows. Since many of these leaders came out of a legitimate jazz background (don’t forget, Goodman had played on sessions with Bix Beiderbecke AND Bessie Smith before he was ever a name star), they also had a bit of the hipster “jive” in their patter and image.

So it was a genius move for someone to create a comic book big-band leader who was also a tough-guy and semi-detective capable of holding off the mob and fighting crime and solving mysteries. I’m kind of surprised that either Monogram or Columbia Pictures did not use the character in a B-Crime film. Many 1940’s crime films had nightclub scenes in them as filler with bands and band-vocalists--they could have padded those films EVEN MORE with inexpensive-to-shoot nightclub band numbers with a Swing Sisson as the lead character. He could have even gotten a Columbia serial during the Sam Katzman days in the mid-to-late 40’s. A serial such as CHICK CARTER, DETECTIVE with its nightclub setting could easily have worked Sisson and crew into the plot, in place of Lyle Talbot (great as he is/was), but as an obscure comic feature which did not even have its own magazine, SWING SISSON wouldn’t have been that much of a draw. In feature films, I can imagine a tough guy with humor such as CHESTER MORRIS (busy with his Boston Blackie features then, alas) or GRANT WITHERS picking up a baton, reading Cab Calloway’s Dictionary of Jive (or whatever it was called), and taking on the role. And if they wanted a more suave actor who could still be convincingly tough, how about Kent Taylor? The pencil moustache would have been perfect.

Swing’s backstory is dealt with in the first story, where he gets hired at Pete Jaxon’s “Clover Club,” which of course immediately is set upon by gangsters who want to close the place down. The stories become more outrageous as the series continued. In one, a former vaudeville entertainer who is down on his luck, and now envious of Swing’s success, kills everyone in the theater for Swing’s show. That’s right, he kills 1100 people...and three or four pages later, it’s resolved and he is caught....and he isn’t even killed, just taken away by the authorities! That should give you an idea of the level on which this comic feature operates.

I find the Swing Sisson comics to be quite entertaining. It’s not the kind of thing that you’d want to read three hours of straight through--you can only go to this well so often. Also, in fast moving six-page stories where a crime/mystery is introduced, investigated, fought against, and solved/defeated, there’s not much room for character development. However, when you’ve got Swing and crew fighting Nazis, or having some evil scientist kidnap the real Swing and replace him with a clone who is mean and dictatorial toward the musicians in rehearsals (!!!!), the entertainment value of the Swing Sisson stories remains high.

This first volume of two from Gwandanaland collects the first half of the Swing stories, and there’s also a second volume (which I don't yet have) which takes him all the way through his final adventure in 1950.... almost 100 stories in all! It will be interesting to see how the character and situations change, if any, in the late 1940’s in Volume 2. It’s a refreshing change of pace to have a comic book character who exists in a show business environment and to have a nightclub be the base of operations for crime-fighting.

I’d never heard of Swing Sisson until this Gwandanaland collection came out last year, but for those who love crime comic books from the 1940’s and who love the nightclub scenes in 1940’s detective and crime B-Movies, imagine something that combines the best of both worlds. Also, the stories are short, so you can always read one while waiting on your coffee in the morning or just before falling asleep at night, and not have to worry about losing the thread of the plot. It’s over before you know it. If you read one before going to sleep at night, imagine what kind of dreams you’ll have. I for one would enjoy living in a dream world modeled on a 1940’s B-movie nightclub, where all the ladies wore outfits with padded shoulders and were a cross between Veronica Lake and Hillary Brooke with a twist of Lena Horne, where there was always a band swinging away on “Moten Swing” or “Perdido” in the background, where some Anita O’Day-style warbler would deliver sultry but hip renditions of “Blues In The Night” or “Pass The Bounce” as I sipped my Scotch and inhaled a no-filter Chesterfield, where the liquor flowed and there was always an open bar, and where the bouncers were modeled on 40’s tough-guy actors such as Douglas Fowley or Tom Neal. 

Looking up Hillary Brooke online to make sure I spelled her name right, I see that her first husband had the last name of Shute! Gee, maybe I WAS married to her in a former lifetime. Where are those past-life-regression con-artists when you need them!

Saturday, February 17, 2018

After last week's belated "year end" roundup it's sure great to get back into the reg'lar swing of things! Hope ya like the bright, bouncy and bountiful batch that I have served up for you today...got some real goodies in here that I'm sure'll make this week's entry rank as one of the BEST BLOG TO COMM POSTINGS SEEN IN QUITE SOME TIME! And considering the rise in quality around these parts (heh!) that's really saying something!
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Hey, whadja think of that latest high school shoot 'em up down in Ef-El-Lay as Lou Reed woulda called it? Dunno about you, but way deep down in my filet of soul I gotta say that it sure must have taken a whole lotta courage for this Cruz kid to do what all of us suburban slob under-the-outkid types like myself only dreamed about throughout those lonely years of education. Talk about a St. Valentine's Day Massacre too (seventeen and who knows, maybe even counting!)---I also (deep down in my f.o.s.) kinda hope that the people who got the bullets were the ones who DESERVED it---y'know,  the big time snoots that put everyone down or the brainy straight A class self-absorbed people who never take their noses outta ADVANCED EUGENICS AND HOW TO APPLY IT IN YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD. And of course those mean Miss Grundy types and the rest of the teaching staff who gain joy in humiliating students in front of others ostensibly to make us students "stronger" but mostly due to a strong sadistic streak. Not the Eddie Haskells for the new era of fresh ideas/ideals, rockist or otherwise that's for sure! The rest eh, they can all go to Fitzroy for all I care, and come to think of it some are already there!
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Excuse me if I'm coming off giddier than an inmate in a women's penitentiary on banana day, but I gotta tell ya all that I do feel kinda high right now. No, not as in opiate abuse or boozerbliss (leave those for another time, another place when I'm not so jollysville), but right now I do have a more positive than usual opinion regarding myself. After all these years of throwing myself into rock 'n roll, just plain "rock" and other musical forms, I've come to the realization that yes, I am a "star".

Not as big a star as the biggies like Lou or Iggy might have been let alone Patti, Marc, Sky and many others who have come and gone before us. But a star nonetheless. A fan, an obsessive/compulsive, a collector and other well-admired attributes is what makes me one. And who knows, if you are reading this you ma be a star too! Of course Bill Shute is a bigger star, but he is still down-to-earth enough to associate with the lesser beings of the Solar System such as I. Brad Kohler, Paul McGarry and John "Inzane" Olson are stars, and so are most of the people who read this blog and the ones who aren't stars better know it by now or else they're just deluding themselves.

Other people I consider stars...Lester and Richard and all those fanzine guys like Jymn, Billy and Miriam and the BACK DOOR MAN gang, the Gizmo bunch, and all of those teenage girls and boys who spent the mid-sixties to the early-seventies buying up all those under-the-underground and "teenybopper" platters that the Troggs and Seeds were putting out, soon delving into Velvets, Barrett and Beefheart territory. If you own a copy of WHITE LIGHT/WHITE HEAT and your name isn't Robert Christgau you're probably a star. That gal who threw the "WE LUV YOU JOHN" note at Shea which Meltzer copped is a star as well. (As for John, I believe he stopped being a star around the time he grew that ugly beard.) So is that gal in her ritzy suburban upper-middle-class home who, when asked by her mother what the title of that song she was playing was and replied "Heroin", and the boy who listened to the Velvets and went to New York City and saw things he never saw before and did things he never did before as well is most DEFINITELY a star. I wonder what both are up to these days...I'm afraid they might have gone the straighter-than-thou route and prefer not to talk about their past "indiscretions", but I still get the feeling that when the grandkids have gone home they sneak FUNHOUSE onto the ol' Victrola and re-groove to those dangerous and exciting days just like they woulda the first time they got that spinner into their sweaty palms.

The Shaggs are stars. Lady Caga is not. And true we may not be living the wild ride that the likes of Henry Miller, Harry Crosby or J. Paul Getty III did but we're tryin' bub, we're tryin'.

Yes, there are MANY stars up and about, and I ain't talking metaphorically as in Aleister Crowley's "Every man and woman is a star" quote that opened HOLLYWOOD BABYLON. And golly ned if I don't feel that even the geekiest of sixties/seventies and beyond kids who threw themselves into the Big Beat wasn't a star in his own right. As for a good portion of the fanzine and rock critic cadre types I've come across these past thirtysome years, they sure ain't stars as far as I can tell .Maybe black holes would be a better way to describe this breed of scum but that's another post. Don't wanna ruin the high energy vibes I am wallowin' in right now y'know...
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Here's one of those top ten/twenty/whatever playlists like people writing into THE NEW YORK ROCKER used to include with their letters in order to show just how hip and with it they are...Amon Duul II-TANZ DER LEMMINGS CD (Mantra, France), JUMP CD (Kismet), "Sweet Sister Ray" from the Velvet Underground's CAUGHT BETWEEN THE TWISTED STARS set, Cluster-ZUCKERZEIT, Michael Nyman-DECAY MUSIC and Dark Carnival-GREATEST SHOW IN DETROIT. Boy do I feel like the complete and superior over all of you kinda guy just for name dropping these platters I'll tell ya!
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Before I get into the prime portion of this post (the reviews!) I gotta relay a neat dream I had Wednesday night...one where none other than Marc Bolan (looking more 1971 than 1974 bloat---in fact he looks a lot like the Bolan from the cover of the first "T" 'stead of "Tyrannosaurus" Rex platter) is in my basement with his "wife" (who seems your typical neat if still bluejeaned early-seventies college co-ed) and my cyster the way she kinda looked back then and I'm spinning  THE SLIDER for him (first at the wrong speed, which didn't sound that noticeably different!). The weird thing about it is that even HE asked if he was singing "Bacciagalupe" instead of "Metal Guru" on the opening track number! Who would have known that Bolan was an Abbott and Costello fan! Somehow we're suddenly just east of downtown Sharon PA around where the library is and Marc sez he's gotta go home so he begins walking towards the "lower class" part of the town where I guess he resides in my dream while I trot back, record stack under my arm, to the place where the dream was originally taking place, the route of which looks all concrete and high fashion for some strange reason.

Well, it's better than the dream I had afterwards where my "grandfather" (who looks and dresses liek a 1940's character actor) arrives and calls me a sicko pre-vert type who should be committed, after which I am in a public shopping mall wearing nothing but a long blue t-shirt (no underwear!) which covers my genitalia even though my "bulge" sticks out and I'm desperately trying to avoid some cousins who just happen to be sitting nearby. Of course they spot me trying to ignore them.
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Here's what you've been waiting for...thanks to the usual crew for the gibsmedats and of course to myself for the way I treat myself ever so kindly with these purchases. Read on, MacDuff!


Sandy Ewen/Weasel Walter-IDIOMATIC CD (ugEXPLODE Records)

Weasel Walter teams up with improvisational guitarist Sandy Ewen on this nearly eighty-minute jaunt that reminds me of such other interstellar improvisational acts as latterday (talking seventies-era) AMM. Not that they sound like that famed English musical crew but the same type of sartorial strains can be discerned throughout these tracks. Great enough wafting sounds and outright blares to keep your attention, and if you're one of those people who have been entranced by this breed of exploration ever since you thumbed through the music section of some "alternative weekly" type of rag and wanted to hear for yourself ,you know what to do already!
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Various Artists-STOOGES JUKEBOX CD-r burn (one of those Mojo Magazine "giveaway" Cee-Dees you can find onna web for a pretty cheap price)

Dunno about you, but I like many of these theme-based compilations of songs that influenced so-and-so, or some famous doofus' favorite tracks, or songs that Don Fellman listened to after a hard day getting beat up at school that have been making the rounds these past ten or so years. This 'un is no exception---here the Ig of Stooge himself selected a whole buncha his fave rave numbers and MOJO magazine actually had the courage to release the thing even if most of us already have all these tracks in one form or another in our collections. But eh, like I said the personalist nature of such a collection is what gets me excited---after all, this is probably the next best thing to sneaking into Brad Kohler's digs while he's at work and listening to all of his records and such getting into the close quartered FEEL of the thing. Tracks include such immortal faves as "Surfin' Bird", "Tall Cool One", Bo Diddley's rankin' classic "Say Man" and other not-so-oddities from the likes of Link Wray, Junior Kimbrough, the Last Poets and the Mothers of Invention.
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The Panacea Society-WE DON'T DIG DOOM CD (Dogfingers Records)

Yup, I was fooled by the Society's 10-inch clear vinyl EP with the bogus notes about 'em being a long-defunct late-sixties English commune act that basked in the eternal radiation of the Velvet Underground, Seeds and Thirteenth Floor Elevators! However (for those of you who must think that I am the eternal stoop for falling for a ruse such as this) as I said in the year before's NY eve cap I did have my suspicions.

But overall SO WHAT, because it turns out that the Panacea Society is an up and about group from these very days, and if this Cee-Dee is any indication these San Antonians are a pretty hotcha band that not only wallows in old, but newer forms of rock expression that don't sound as gloppy as one might think.

Various mid-eighties forms can be detected, from the neo-Velvet Underground rampage of Boston's Last Sacrifice to some toned down takes on what the spawn of the late-sixties local scene madmen a la Roky et al. were up to around the same time. (Think maybe a way subdued Butthole Surfers without the pee-pee.) Such attributes as TENSION and EMOTION as found in the best of the late-sixties musicmakers can be discerned while the material, while still "modern" enough to rate reviews in a variety of glossy magazines of a "subversive" nature, still borrows freely from the way more boffo past than they do the tender-treading present.

Not for the pure of rockist hearts true and I probably won't be spinning this much in the next hundred years, but the Panacea Society did put out a platter that rises, if slightly, above the reams of newer prance posing as the real tough underground rock deal. Worth an attempt to track down if you're of the post-rock yet pre-cyborg musical mindset, ifyaknowaddamean...
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MIKE DEVON AND THE DIPLOMATS CD-r burn

Needless to say there ain't much Devon and the Diplomats info to be found on the web, other'n their place of origin (Portsmouth England) and their ranking as a third-string mid-sixties beat act. These relatively primitive recordings do capture the  leanings of the Diplomats, who here sound like one of the edgier English groups with a style that's a whole lot looser than the usual bunch. That may be due to the recording quality but whatever helps boost up the rawness I'm all for it. Rather faithful covers of various Beatles fare and a rather Beatlesque "Roll Over Beethoven" point to what you all should more or less expect from these long obscured recordings. Who knows, you might eke a few beads of enjoyment outta it like I did.
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Miles Davis-MORE STUDIO SESSIONS 1975-1976 CD-r burn

Can't say that this ain't mildly entertaining fusion that does "bop" one on the noggin, but correct me if I just don't think that the playing on Miles or anyone else's part really has that deep down swath of verve and vigor that I crave in my jazz. Not quite spirited, yet not quite gnarled. Only the set closer "TDK Funk" really got my back-brain up and moving and overall I can now see why those reviews at the time were quite middling. Here I thought it was just because them critics hated everything except Linda Ronstadt and James Taylor but sheesh, maybe there was more to it!
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J. B Hutto and the New Hawks-SLIPPIN' AND SLIDIN' CD-r burn (originally on Varrick Records)

You might get the idea that da blooze ain't exactly something I settle back 'n listen to like alla those scruffy white guys in denim with greasy long hair usedta back inna seventies. But I do on occasion even if a lotta this music just tends to go right whoosh past me, and I ain't even talkin' about that new blues stuff that continues to get touted as the real deal a good thirtysome years after the debut of Robert Cray. Hutto's brand of expression ain't as down-home gritty as some of those earlier blues efforts that do "affect" me in ways where I don't have to "strain" myself to eke some enjoyment outta it (the Jr. Kimbrough track mentioned above). However, it sure beats the heck outta those recent real deal I got the down and dirty blues pity me making all this money stuff that I just can't hack no matter how many times I've been told that I am "supposed" to like it or else I can't be that complete and total human being everybody says I should be! Sheesh, I wish people would abide by MY rules for once in my life!
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Various Artists-SUNDAY NIGHTS---THE SONGS OF JUNIOR KIMBROUGH CD-r burn

Welly golly golly golly if this particular post just ain't burstin' with blues what with the Stooges-related rouser, the Hutto platter and now this particular "tribute album" devoted to the works of Junior Kimbrough who gets a few words devoted to him in my STOOGES JUKEBOX writeup above. That's why I dug this 'un out in fact...now as you know I can't stand most of those cover/tribute concepts in my music collection but I don't mind about this one. It's got some halfway decent (and not-so) covers of Kimbrough that shine through even if the artists might be far from achieving even the slightest guttural bounce that the original had. Highlights include such worthies like the Black Keys as well as some you-thought-I'd-never-mention-'em types as the Blues Explosion, Spiritualized and none other than the reunited Stooges, who actually do their legacy good here with two versions of  "You Better Run" which open and close the thingie!
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Various Artists-SACRED ALICE DAYDREAM SHIP CD-r burn (Bill Shute)

Hey, this one starts with a Sacred Miracle Cave track. I think I used to hate 'em way back when, but their "Liquid In Me" comes off so psychedelic grunge that I in no way can see just why I didn't cozy up way back when. Dunno if the High Elevation who contributed "Odyssey" to this set are the same ones who popped up on PEBBLES VOLUME 3 but here they're doin' a good commercial late-sixties psych cash in that in now way could be called acid punk but why should we care.

Breaking the mood somewhat is Muggsy Spannier's "Alice Blue Gown" which sounds like the kinda 78 music you get on a silent comedy DVD...well, I can see the OUR GANG kids rollicking to the strains here. And yeah, the Crystal Chandelier that end up on this 'un just ain't the PEBBLES VOLUME 3 guy who thought he was Jim Morrison because hey, they sound NOTHING like the Doors! But who knows...

Ed Powers...sounds like one of those better late-sixties folk types who actually stepped far enough outside the Dylan-swipe sphere to create some interesting music. His "Mourning" had a good intense drive and folk rock backing that shoulda gone somewhere but like so what else is new? Even more surprising are the "song poems" from the Real Pros who take those kitchen table cantos and make 'em sound like actual (and good) late-sixties pop standards. And I guess ya hadda be a pro to take some mid-aged housewife's scribble and make musical sense outta it!

Fred Van Eps---more 78 rpm twenties twang that would sound good enough on some old Mack Sennett comedy this time. Quite Jungle and the Element who close this out are good cheap psych pop that ain't any great shakes (had I heard this stuff onna radio when I was eight I woulda kept searchin' until "Simon Says" got played) but good enough like when the latter gets into that rave up mid-section. And that's what Bill sent me...bet you wish you were his friend, right? Well, tough for you cuz he ain't as if he'd even want to spend a split second in your presence, y'know?

Thursday, February 15, 2018

BOOK REVIEW! BEYOND MARS BY JACK WILLIAMSON AND LEE ELIAS (IDW, 2015)

I dunno about you, but over the years I've developed a pretty good hankerin' for classic postwar Science Fiction comic strips. Y'know,  the kind with everything from flashy spaceships depicted in a flashy Wallace Wood and Al Williamson style for WEIRD SCIENCE/FANTASY to even a good short story showing a dystopian future which strangely enough doesn't resemble 2018 ifyacanbelievethat! I guess my love for this kinda mid-forties to mid-sixties-styled entertainment dates from the days when Dick Tracy was cruising the Moon, or perhaps that one summer when my cyster demanded that we watch the morning cartoons that were on channel 21 'stead of 33 (the ones with CASPER THE FRIENDLY GHOST that I favored) thus introducing me to the should by now be infamous SPACE ANGEL brand of cheap animation with the actual moving lips.

It was with this spirit of interstellar wonderment filtered through the pre-postmodern miasma of more current SF that I decided to get this COMPLETE collection of  the legendary or so I'm told BEYOND MARS comic strip. "Legendary" not only because of its overall quality in a medium that was just bursting with it but because the thing only ran in ONE newspaper which really lowered its status in the realm of overall exposure amongst the kinda suburban slob who woulda just loved the thing to the dickens!

BEYOND MARS was as good a slab of futuristic adventure as any EC title or FLASH GORDON Sunday that wallowed about during those years that were a whole lot more fun (that is, if you were a human with a straight-on head) than the naysayers of today make 'em out to be. The strip stars Mike Flint, a (thankfully) clayless footed hero type all the young guys wanted to grow up to be like back then who made his living on an asteroid named "Brooklyn Rock" as a space pilot for hire. Flint has in his employ a mechanic named Sam, a green skinned/metallic shelled legless Venusian who talks with a lisp to the point where he is eventually known as"Tham". And no, please don't ask me.

Other weirdities appear throughout the strip's run from the blue-skinned boy named Jimikin who is discovered riding a meteor through space wearin' nothin' but Ghandipants to some of the creepiest and evilest (remember that word?) bad guys and gals---you oughta see Cobra, the android made from the "warm flesh" cells of the boy's dead mother who makes most of those wimmen with bad intent look like Suzie Sidesaddle! The stories ain't dour either what with the weekly cliffhangers and tension-packed sagas which ya know woulda gotten any Saturday Afternoon Barbershop Kid all balled up until next week's installment and I should know!

Science Fiction regular Jack Williamson's writing is as focused and as intense as anything that was happening on the legit Sci Fi front  or in the comic books (though with none of the outright carnage mind you), while Lee Elias' artwork is close enough to Milton Caniff without, like EC's Johnny Craig, looking like a total cop (better'n George Wunder even!). And for a strip that I didn't even have known existed in the first place until I saw that  "Comic Strip Old Folk's Home" illustration in a late-fifties MORE TRASH FROM MAD I gotta say that it was a nice slide back into the pre-metastasized socially conscious SF realm from the days when things like exciting stories, fine artwork and a general sense of man and his destiny were being portraying in a right, proper way!

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

COMIC BOOK REVIEW BY BILL SHUTE! JUSTICE TRAPS THE GUILTY #76 (Prize Comics, July, 1955)


The 1940’s and 1950’s were a Golden Age of crime comics, and with the many crime-oriented B-movies and later TV shows of the era, it’s clear that crime was in the air…and also in the blood of the comic book audience. I just grabbed this comic book off one of my comics shelves at random—I could have grabbed any one of 50 others—and on the surface, it seems to have all the best qualities of the typical crime comic of the day, and it would have had to, with all the competition out there. The front cover promises action, thrills, and excitement!

According to Comic Book Plus, JUSTICE TRAPS THE GUILTY ran for 92 issues, from 1947 through 1958, which certainly qualifies as a good run. It was issued by PRIZE COMICS, which had a diverse set of offerings, from romance to western to science fiction (TOM CORBETT, SPACE CADET) to horror (FRANKENSTEIN) to faux-Archie (DUDLEY) to various anthology publications. Prize was run by comics legends Joe Simon and Jack Kirby. Interestingly, one of the last-gasp publications of Prize’s owner Crestwood Publications was BTC fave SICK magazine* (which was to CRACKED what CRACKED was to MAD), until 1968 when it was sold off.

There do not seem to be any ongoing characters in the few copies I own of this magazine, just four 5-8 page stories…and the requisite two pages of prose filler, which in the issues I’ve seen are quirky enough to be interesting.

“River Rats” deals with a violent protection racket preying on small businesses on the waterfront—it delivers the goods. “Two Old Friends” is something of a surprise….a sentimental story of an old-school cop whose old service horse, Lacey, is getting older and weaker and the department is thinking of re-assigning Lacey to the glue factory, so of course the horse saves the day and is rewarded and valued and kept on the force—I wasn’t really expecting a tear-jerker in a crime comic, but it’s a nice change of pace. “Savvy” repeats the same theme, but with a cop instead of a horse. Detective Brennan may be not as fast as he once was, but he’s got the one thing younger cops have failed to get yet: And he uses that sixth sense to break the Dutch Ankers gang, where no one else on the force can. “Tour of Duty” is one of those day-in-the-life-of-a-cop stories—like a Dragnet episode which would be half devoted to Gannon’s (Harry Morgan) home life and half to the case he’s working with Friday (Jack Webb) on—and Officer Charlie Mitchell, family man and all-around good citizen, even works the night shift! This story has a bit too much speechifying (if that’s a word) in its last page or two, as if it were a public service short subject made by the police union to be broadcast as filler on Sunday morning: “I’m a cop. I work under all conditions. I have a wife and a couple of kids. I value my life, but I value yours too. That’s why you’ll find me making this tour of duty every night….I want to help keep things safe for you and me.” After that, I’m expecting a pitch for a contribution to the Police Officers Benevolent Association or whatever!

Now that I think about it, after analyzing the different pieces here, this particular issue is not really typical of the crime comics of the day. It is a bit too sentimental and, in the last story, self-serious for what’s usually a grim, violent, sensationalistic approach devoted to fast living, cheap thrills, and violent gun battles and nerve-wracking chases….stories where some brutal punk, who thinks nothing of taking hostages or killing civilians and terrorizes the public for the first 4/5 of the story, gets blown away on the final page and left to die in a pile of rubbish in an alley. That’s what fans of the genre (like me) want. It’s interesting that this comic has the “approved by the Comics Code Authority” seal of approval on its cover (see pic). Many of my favorite crime comics do not. Part of the Code read, “Scenes of excessive violence shall be prohibited. Scenes of brutal torture, excessive and unnecessary knife and gunplay, physical agony, gory and gruesome crime shall be eliminated.” It’s no wonder the crime comic genre tended to fade away in the years after the Code (which came around in 1954, as a kind of self-policing response by the mainstream comics industry to the attacks of Frederic Wertham and the US Senate hearings on comic book content). Comic books should be full of sensationalism and cheap thrills. If I want a moral lecture, I’ll attend Sunday School….if I want to learn about being a good and productive citizen, I’ll attend a Rotary Club meeting…if I want full and rich characters, I’ll find a copy of BEST SHORT STORIES OF 1954. There’s a reason why when you see some over-the-top made-for-video action film, mainstream critics will attack it as having a ‘comic book” approach. That’s what the strength and the uniqueness of comic books SHOULD BE…and the reason why people like me can still read some 60+ year old hard-boiled crime comic, considered trashy and disposable in its day, and get the same sense of joy from it that a pimple-faced teenager or a comic-reading night watchman got from it when it was hot off the press, purchased with a precious dime at the local neighborhood newsstand or drug-store comics rack. I’ve never viewed comic books as a reflection of life or daily reality or social issues….for me, they are a REPLACEMENT for the tediousness of life and daily reality. I’ve got enough daily reality already, thank you, in the other 22 hours of each day when I’m not reading a comic book or watching an exploitation film or blasting a record by the Trashmen or The Troggs—the comic book adventures of Jungle Jim or Mike Hammer or Lash La Rue or The Many Ghosts of Dr. Graves are there to take me out of it, if only for twenty minutes. Reality will still be there, alas, when I put the comic book down and finish my 99 cent tallboy of malt liquor.

I’ll have to check some of the pre-Code issues of JUSTICE TRAPS THE GUILTY to see if they are different from this one, with more cheap thrills and less sentimentality and models of good citizenry. Until then, you can make up your own mind and read this issue and all the earlier ones yourself, for free, at Comic Book Plus. The tallboy of malt liquor, YOU will have to pay for.

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*Don't believe him---I think you all know how much I never cared for SICK or CRACKED for that matter!

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Sheesh, here we are well into the first second month of 2018 and I didn't even post my yearly writeup of albums that were maybe too obvious and conspicuous to write about on the every day blog during the previous solar rotation! But better never than late as you might think and if you do then all I gotta say is TOUGH TURDS! Some of these items were dubbed for me, some bought, and yet some were (re)discovered during one of my frequent album collection dive-ins but whatever the case may be all I gotta say is I sure had a lotta fun listening to these old platters either again or for the first time in my life and if I hadda do it all over again maybe I would do it all over you!

Iggy Pop-NEW VALUES CD-r burn (originally on Arista)

Sheesh, not bad even though Iggy's solo albums weren't usually the kinda swill that made up my grog ifyaknowaddamean. The return of James Williamson and Scott Thurston does give it a good El Lay cheap-o sound that was more akin to the drugged out seventies than the glitzy eighties, and the songs themselves are pretty dad-burned solid in that Hollywood decadent sorta way to the point where I kinda feel like pulling out an issue of RAW POWER while firin' this 'un up. You might wanna up your nostrils at it true, but given that it was only a few years from this to BLAH BLAH BLAH maybe you should give it a li'l more respect 'n you have been, boy!
***
Soft Machine-THIRD CD (Columbia)

Nick Kent wrote that he first doobed out while listening to "Facelift", the sizzling opening side-long track from this double-platter set. Given what a hard electronic growl that is I'm surprised that he wasn't injecting a Brompton Cocktail up the base of his skull 'stead of puffing away on the Weed with Roots in Hell.

The fusion-y aspects are bound to turn off some of the less progressive rock loving members of the BLOG TO COMM community, but I find the whole caboodle a better representation of what these brainy Brits could do without resorting to pretentious lyrics and visions of damsels with mile-deep cleavage in distress. Lending ear to this with MELODY MAKER/Chris Welch aesthetics in place would be quite a disaster, but if you have your free jazz/electric Miles lobes on this just might have been the twelfth best album of 1970 (and no, don't ask me what the first eleven were!).
***
THE REDS LP (A&M)

Don't let the Knackalike cover fool you, the Reds are the real-deal late-seventies/early eighties hard-rock under-the-new wave-ground rock band to sink your teeth into! They're hip 'n modern true, but these Reds also have a good hunka metallic drive to 'em that sorta reminds me of what Blue Oyster Cult woulda sounded like had they stayed psychedelic and didn't cater to the burnout boxboy crowd. Heavy metal in fact, but HM in that good ol' seventies CREEM fashion that they would tag sounds like this with even after it really did seem ridiculous to peg the likes of  the Sadistic Mika Band in with Van Halen. If you still have a flea market record bin in your area, this might be snuggled in between Mitch Miller and WEST SIDE STORY.
***
Mission of Burma-THE HORRIBLE TRUTH ABOUT BURMA CD (Ace of Hearts)

It might seem either as heresy or me-being-my-typical-turdlike-self to you, but I never cozied up to the whole Mission of Burma cult that had formed around the group since their late-seventies inception. Not that the racket they made wasn't satisfying to this mere soul, but the underground hype coupled with the raves and huzzahs uttered by the same people I wouldn't pay to shovel the criticisms they tossed at me did make me cold to the entire concept of a seventies-bred underground act waffling in the cold waters of the eighties doldrums.

However, the comments that Burma bassist and one-time Space Negro Clint Conley made regarding none other than Wayne McGuire cozying up to Burma in his post La Peste days really gave me a personal hook to sink into the group's hide, so without any further ado I latched this particular platter up and y'know what? I thought it really fared well especially for an eighties-era underground platter from a group that I had pretty much written off as more of that BOSTON ROCK dictatorship of the maladjusted rich kid hype that was so prevalent way back when.

Live quality helps even though Martin Swope's tape mangipulations are buried in the ether, and the overall execution and creative juice behind it all points more towards late-sixties/early-seventies experimentation than it does late-seventies new unto gnu wave. In fact Mission of Burma seem like the kinda bandWayne McGuire predicted way back when he was cranking out those "Aquarian Journals" for FUSION, the near-perfect encapsulation of the Boston Sound that was conceived by the Velvet Underground at the Boston Tea Party and led to the formation of more than a few good bands even into the nineties when for all intent purposes these sounds were supposed to be dead and buried!

A good 'un which will probably lead me to get some more Mission of Burma spins down the line. It's sure good enjoying this type of music in the 'teens long after the underground buzz, for all the bad that might entail, has died down and hopefully is buried along with the rancid opinions of all those Boston-area crybaby students who used to rant and rave about every inconceivable aggression against them in a whole slew of magazines that I hope are long defunct by now.
***
Pink Floyd-A SAUCERFUL OF SECRETS CD (Pink Floyd Records, E.U.)

I have two SAUCERFULs already via A NICE PAIR, one the English version with the slightly different cover (saw it cheap inna bin and figured "wha' th' hey") and the other the Canadian version with a remixed "Jugband Blues". Never the actual single LP version though. Listening to this after a number of years of neglect I find that SAUCERFUL came off almost like a new listening experience and sure refreshing in light of just how bloated the group eventually became after years of wandering in the psychedelic mung. Syd's sad farewell to his group, and a record that I'm positive Jamie Klimek was coppiing more than a few notes from.
***
The Kinks-ONE FOR THE ROAD CD-r burn (originally on Arista Records)

At the time this 'un came out I had the Kinks pegged as "older kid music". Maybe it was all of those appearances on MIKE DOUGLAS and SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE that got my BS-a-meter clicking away, though the big push they were getting during their Arista days also soured me a bit given that me and hype aimed at all of those kids I hated never always got along swell.

In actuality this is a pretty hot live set, better than some of the live Kinks tapes heard o'er the years both legit and not. Other'n a few dips into medium energy this one cooks pretty hot making me think the Kinks and Kinks only were able to make it outta the sixties intact.

OK, perhaps it can be a little too slick for my tastes but next to the other British Invasion survivors of the day who made it into the eighties this sure ain't embarrassing as in that whole "we've grown up through peace and love together and now It's OUR turn to wreck things!" line that has been pushed by too many baby boomer types for quite a long time!
***
David Werner-WHIZZ KID CD-r burn (originally on RCA)

Sheesh, how many David Bowie clones did RCA really need at the time? I guess they were trying to corner the decadent market, not an easy task back '74 way but one that was perhaps necessary. Actually not bad if you like those introspective piano playing guys who like to mewl meaningful and fraught with somethingorother lyrics that must mean something to someone. Might come in handy if you can't find your Dana Gillespie alb.
***
Can-CANNIBALISM 2-LP set (United Artists Records, England)

A nice late-seventies cash-in from United Artists, who were obviously trying to peddle a new Can package to the gnu wavers who only heard about the band via various John Lydon and Siouxsie raves (whyd'ja think the lack of group photos onna sleeve...UA certainly didn't want ageist punk types to think they were buying a record by a buncha boring old farts as they used to say!). Pete Shelley's liner notes help the cause as does the selection which is about as good as the previous Can sampler (the budget release with the can of soup onna cover) yet twice the size and costlier to boot. I'm sure it was a good place to start.
***
Blodwyn Pig-GETTING TO THIS CD (BGO Records, Germany)

Never gave two thoughts about this band featuring ex-Jethro Tull guitarist Mick Abrahams though considering the raves these guys got from Michael Weldon not forgetting a mention in the boff 1981 CREEM heavy metal rock special I figured they just might be worth the while.

And they were even though there seems to be a massive dump in jamz once side two gets into gear. Otherwise this is a rather frenetic, high-spirited rock 'n roll affair featuring Abrahams' fluid lead guitar work and hyper vocals as well as Jack Lancaster's better'n Ian Anderson horn work which does give this a "jazz rock" feeling that won't make you puke.

And of course it's heavy metal too, but in that great 1969-1971 cusp style of the form that produced such classics of the day as THE MAN WHO SOLD THE WORLD to PARANOID and dare-I-say FUNHOUSE????? Blodwyn Pig might have been the best metal band with a saxophone to appear until the Stooges let alone MX-80 Sound (Von Lmo?!?!?!), and that was a good six years later!
***
Dr. Feelgood-DOWN BY THE JETTY CD (Parlophone, England)

The original LP is still wallowing away in my collection...can't seem to find it so I decided to buy a fresh Cee-Dee to reminds me of its majestic nature. And majestic it remains even after these forty-three years...Dr. Feelgood really knew how to milk all of the mid-sixties nerve ends with this update on the old British r/b, and they did it without looking like a batch of old fogies or pristine practitioners for that matter. Sorta like one of the more important points on the Downliners Sect/Stackwaddy sonic timeline with those early Stiff groups being the logical next step. Or something like that.
***
Mott the Hoople-BRAIN CAPERS CD (Island, Japan)

These guys always were a chance-y operation to me. They sure looked rock 'n roll and they always had these dynamic album covers that really stood out at the local record emporium. However, their material always did seem hit or miss with some rather engaging rockers intermingled with stuff I wouldn't have expected even your runna the mill mid-seventies schlock rock act to tackle.

BRAIN CAPERS is like that despite what greater minds have said, with loads of Band-era Dylanesque swipes that just don't tingle the way the originals did along with some ballad-y musings that just don't pique my attention in the least. Only until the metallic crunch of "The Moon Upstairs" does BRAIN CAPERS kick in but sheesh, the platter's almost over by that time!
***
The Sonics-SINDERELLA CD-r burn (originally on Bomp! Records)

I thought this was a high hoot when it came out back '81 way and I still think it's hot lo these many years later. Sure these ain't the real Sonics who briefly reformed (and sold their name to a bunch of newbies just like Andy Parypa did back '67 way) but they still lay down that Northwest Sound really fine. And Gerry Roslie still had a pretty good set of pipes which complimented those "Invaders" who were backing him rather well. Only a tad touch of modernism brings things down, but not too far. Oft hated, but for me one of the things that kept me goin' through my early-twenties which really don't seem that long of a time ago given how my tastes in music seem to be stuck in that particular era in my existence. But they do, and I will not apologize.
***
The Pink Fairies-NEVER NEVER LAND CD (Polydor Records, England)

Why'd I get this admittedly stellar classic recording again? For the inclusion of a rare instrumental backing track of "Uncle Harry's Last Freakout" that's why! This added bonus really captures the live Fairies experience more than the already boffo album version did so why not part with some extra change for a listening experience such as this?

Of course any version of this platter is worthy because it's not only one of the few recs that continued on the psychedelic experience long after its supposed shelf life wore off, but because its one of the few albums of the early-seventies that rocked out (yeah, I'm still in the sixth grade but if sixth graders knew more about the rock experience than cultured rock critics of questionable sexuality then so be it!). One of those great offerings from the missing link between the end of the first punk era and the beginning of the second one, and a darn fine expression of sound as energy t'boot!
***
The Creation-WE ARE THE PAINTERMEN CD-r burn (originally on Tin Ton Records)

Old stuff true, but like I said a few months back this music was like soooooo hard to come by at one time that not-so-rich picauynes like myself actually dished out hard cash to Disques du Monde for overpriced pirate copies of the real thing. Of course tracks like "Making Time", "Biff Bang Pow" and "Painter Man" still hold the same immediate thrill for me that they did when I first heard 'em way back when. Some, especially the slower and moodier numbers, don't always hit the target but still this is a fine collection of tracks from a group that should have made some sort of mark on the musical landscape back during those days only to have their ideas swiped and generally be all but forgotten unless your name was Greg Shaw 'r sumpin'.
***
The Mothers of Invention-WE'RE ONLY IN IT FOR THE MONEY, CRUISING WITH RUBEN AND THE JETS CD-r burns (both originally on Bizarre/Verve Records)

Having sold both my copies of these during some rather lean times it's sure nice to hear these "crucial" (I refuse to use the word "iconic" which I consider one of those chi-chi deep-feeling Huffington Post type clickbait terms custom made for people who like to "reach out and touch someone") platters again. Well, maybe not that much...after all WE'RE ONLY IN IT FOR THE MONEY sure has dated, and perhaps the day after it was released for that matter. None of the youth protest numbers convey any sort of pathos or sorrow and they confuse more than they do irritate. And believe you me, they can irritate ya to the point where you're kinda glad the cops killed the kids, while songs about pooting and peeing in jars in which strange mutant tadpoles swim pales next to the kind of Burroughsian terror that the Fugs were rollin' about in at the time. And Zappa had the nerve to call them "bad taste"!!! Oddly enough the only portions I really enjoyed were the snippets of surf music (actually performed by a Dutch Indonesian instrumental band who moved to El Lay!) and about forty seconds of the closing theme to THE WORLD'S GREATEST SINNER near the end of side two.

RUBEN fares much better if only because Zappa was attempting to play "rock 'n roll" 'stead of just plain "rock" (you heard the old George Carlin routine, you know what it was all about), and he succeeds at least partially. Of course this sounds about as much late-fifties rock as HAPPY DAYS reflected the 1956-1963 pre-radical schmooze era, but a whole lotta bright moments can be sniffed out from the re-dos of various FREAK OUT faves to even the romantic "Anything" which woulda made one of those good "tit rubber" (as Billy Miller woulda said) songs had it only gotten out back '58 way. Still this one sounds differently than I remember...maybe the Cee-Dee burn I have is of that eighties version where Zappa wiped out Jimmy Carl Black's drumming and re-did it because he could do it much better (or so he said)??? Kinda thin and overall it gives me the creeps for some strange reason or another.
***
The Mothers of Invention-BURNT WEENIE SANDWICH CD-r burn (originally on Bizarre/Reprise)

Not as engrossing as WEASELS RIPPED MY FLESH but good enough in its own subdued sorta way. The oldies tracks do annoy, the classically-derived material does tingle the ears, and it all doesn't really kick in until Sugarcane Harris shows up with his violin to create a spectacularly driving sound right inna middle of "Little House I Used To Live In". After listening to various live bootlegs from this particular point in Mothers of Invention time it's sure nice re-acquainting myself with the official versions of these tracks which only prove that when Zappa fired the original Mothers he lost one of the best things that he had going for him.
***
The Jesus and Marychain-21 SINGLES CD-r burn

Dunno what label this came out on and dunno why "Vegetable Man" and some other rare things were left off, but this set does go to prove that the Jesus and Marychain were one of the better flashes to come outta the murk that was the eighties. Yeah I gotta admit that some of those later sides are quite candy coated, but even the sappier stuff (if you can call it that) runs rings around all of the big top forty quap that's been heard not only then but now. It's too bad these guys hadda remain obscurities on the charts because I'd sure like to have seen 'em get a whole buncha big hits o'er here 'stead of the frillies who did define the sound of youth gone herniated. I never thought I'd miss 1986!
***
T. Rex-THE SLIDER LP (Reprise Records)

Sure it ain't ELECTRIC WARRIOR but then again what is? Bolan's '72 followup still cooks with hot grease as he and the guys (including Flo and Eddie) choogle through a whole slew of deca-pop masterpieces guaranteed to turn any unsuspecting twelve-year-old gal into the new Sable Starr. And maybe some twelve-year-old boys too! A nice bop-a-lop that set the stage for much of Bolan's remaining time on the planet and it's even done up with lyrics that woulda probably startled me as much as WARRIOR's did had these gotten printed on the back cover. (And you should just GUESS what I thought "The Slider" was about....not White Castle hamburgers I'll tell ya!) One interesting listening mistake I made---I thought Bolan was singing "Bacciagalupe" instead of "Metal Guru" making me suspect there might have been an ABBOTT AND COSTELLO angle to this song!
***
Frank Zappa-HOT RATS CD-r burn (Bizarre/Reprise Records)

I once got flack for sayin' that Zappa was only as good as his sidemen but this 'un does lend credence to my claim. With the likes of Beefheart and Sugar Cane Harris on board (yeah, and Jean Luc Ponty I will admit) HOT RATS cooks pretty hotcha comin' off like the kind of fusion platter you could actually sit through and enjoy w/o making any concessions to your sanity. Thankfully this was done up before the concept of total show-offy slickness really sunk into Zappa's fuzzed-out brain. One of the better of those "I am not an ignorant hippie" platters Zappa had unleashed upon the publick for close to thirty years.
***
QUEEN LP (EMI Harvest Records, Venezuela)

Contrary to Peter Laughner's opinion, can't say that this debut platter from Freddie and the boys is any sort of major or even minor revelation in the annals of English hard rock masterpieces. But then again Laughner (as did many other rock scribes of great ideals with bad sidetracks in taste) also liked a whole lotta that glitter goin' down that just didn't sound so good once 1977 clocked in. As for this debut by Queen well, it's just more of the same ol' glitzy hard rock with the usual heavy metal influences tossed here and there without any of the bare-wired gnarl that made those earlier metallic opuses so interesting in the first place. By the way, I decided to get the Venezuelan issue of this on on Harvest hoping that the thing might improve under the aspects of a Kevin Ayers/Syd Barrett/Move sorta English smart pop setting. It didn't.
***
Various Artists-GREASY TRUCKERS PARTY 2-LP set (United Artists Records, England)

As far as import album rarities go, this 'un's a marked improvement over the above. A live set from a night at Dingwall's, GREASY TRUCKERS features a nice li'l selection of some of the United Artists hotcha gotcha acts of the day (even if the United Artists logo is conspicuously missing on both the cover and labels) done up live and high energized, and for a suspicious guy like me who really is tighter than tight with the bucks when it comes to trying new forms out sound well...I got my money's worth outta the deal and a whole lot more!

Man starts it off with a whole side of "Spunk Rock" and a few shorter if still spunky tracks on the second side. Now for years I've been warned about these guys with folk tellin' me that they were nothing but neo-San Fran wannabes and you can hear that jam mentality in "Spunk" f'r sure, but when I gave that 'un a listen I was reminded more of early Quicksilver when their live shows were reportedly high energy excursions that at times drew up hefty MC5 comparisons (and various bootlegs and legit offerings have backed that up) and less of San Fran a good five years later when albums like SUNFIGHTER were coming out with a frightening regularity. If they had cut down on the more overt lysergic concerns Man coulda been a hotcha top contender in the freak rock sweepstakes, and even their shorter side two tracks don't reek too much of kozmik snarkl for me to care one whit.

Followup Brinsley Schwarz are yet another "don't buy it!" clarion call I had received from too many people out there who were trying to keep me on some sorta straight and narrow, and yeah I know about their huge following amongst the whole pub/punk rock cadre of the mid-seventies (heck, a planned reunion at the Mont de Marson punk fest was scheduled at one point) but if the Schwarz's are punks then they might be the only p-rock act influenced by the likes of Crosby Stills Nash and Taylor (that's James to you). Still I thought the numbers presented were a whole lot better'n the granola I thought would be performed, complete with a swerve and style that would later turn up on all those Stiff Records singles made by various ex-members of the band. Sorta country blues pub pop with yeah, maybe a sprinkle of punk rock 1972-vintage thrown in. Got no qualms about 'em nohow!

Ah...kill me or not but MAGIC MICHAEL was the highlight of this set for me. A man known more by his legend than by any particular recordings, the man with the nom-de-birth Michael Cousins has been once called the closest thing England had to a Wild Man Fischer. I can't exactly see that though the likes of David Roter and Bernie Joelson can also be discerned as the definitely Asperger's-riddled Michael whangs his acoustic guitar through various bloozey and entertaining moments sorta like a folk Emo Phillips or something along those vague lines! He sings, baits the audience and just rambles on at a strange enough for me pace before being joined by what sounds like a fife and drum straight outta the Spirit of '76 painting! I just love these way off-the-wall anti-geniuses, and considering how Michael not only was a founding member of Ducks Deluxe but briefly the lead singer for Can (one month not counting a few later-on guest appearances) as well as was in a band with Nick Kent that lasted perhaps the span of a flea's lifetime he's just GOTTA be the true rock 'n roll hero I've been waiting to champion for quite a long time. A "Cee-Dee Eee-Pee" release on England's "Cherry Blossom" Records came out a few years back, and you can find my review of it somewhere in the late-2017 batch of posts if you really wanna.

Closing it all out's an entire side of Hawkwind who do a heavy doody job of their early space ritual rock that I never do tire of no matter how many recordings of this particular point in Hawkwind history I happen to hear. Total eruption music that continues to resonate even if the technology's old turd by now and the Hawkwind name has been splintered and tattered beyond belief. I'll tell ya I still can't get enough, and who knows but you might just suffer from the same malady as I.

My definitely used copy of this comes courtesy of a Jackie Jeffrey who originally gave this to a friend (can't make out name) who is definitely such an INGRATE as to have gotten rid of it in the fashion that he/she/it most certainly DID! Jackie, if you're reading this I thought I'd let you know that your gift is now in safe hands, and whoever you originally gave this to is a total jerk for dumping the set in the first place. If said person comes by your door, do not invite the thing in for snacks that's for sure!
***
Various Artists-A BUNCH OF STIFFS LP (Stiff Records, England)

And whaddaya know, but Magic Michael also shows up on this sampler of a decidedly different nature. Michael does well with a rock band backing him on "Little By Little" making me want to hear more of his wares from the unreleased Vertigo album to anything else that might survive. The rest, from the early Nick Lowe and Elvis Costello tracks to Graham Parker and Wreckless Eric, remind me of just why Stiff Records was such a fun label until they branched out way more than they perhaps shoulda. Also included are the infamous yet underdocumented blues group Stones Masonry who I sure wish had some sorta collection available for us interested parties who can't afford the dozen or so albums they do appear on.
***
GARLAND JEFFREYS CD (Collector's Choice Records)

Yeah I remember the huge critical hubbub of addled joy that was cast over GHOST WRITER as well as the PBS live performance special from the late-seventies, but what can you say about a guy whose song about Lon Chaney sounds like an early-seventies Carole King reject? Has some interesting hotcha bop to it in spots but you have to strain your ears and make all sorts of concessions to your listening parameters to eke out any appreciation of them. And no, "She Didn't Lie" did NOT make me want to cry which might prove that I don't have a heart but hey, what else is new?
***
The Hello People-FUSION CD (RGM Records)

Always on the lookout for a forgotten late-sixties masterpiece, I bought this particular spinner in the hopes that these mime rockers (who I always remembered from the ABC-Dunhill release THOSE HANDSOME DEVILS) would deliver some long-forgotten hard jamz that have always been tossed aside in favor of all of those sixties albums we've heard about awlready! Well guess again, because in no way does FUSION have any of the punk flash or pop smear of our fave late-sixties recording stars and other'n for the moody opening track I couldn't find much here that stimulated either my stirrups or my soul for that matter. Maybe they were put to better use backing Todd Rundgren up...anyone out there beg to tell me what the scoop really was?
***
Various Artists-BILLY PRESENTS PSYCHEDELIC UNKNOWNS VOLUME 8 CD (Scrap Records)

These six-oh samplers don't always capture that crazed atmosphere where just about every record one could buy could be considered a masterpiece in its own special way, but this volume in the long line of Billy Synth-compiled PSYCHEDELIC UNKNOWNS does a fairly good job of it. Ample tries at creating that perfect rock expression, usually done up in a fairly smooth psychedelic fashion with varying results that are not to be poo-poo'd or ignored for that matter. To be honest there's hardly anything spectacular and symbolic of just what those days when anyone could jump on the rock 'n roll bandwagon to be heard, though a few classics manage to make their way through. Includes the acid punk classic "Honey and Gall" done up by game show host Chuck Woolery and his old group the Avant Garde!
***
The Persuasions-ACAPPELLA CD (Grey Scale Records, England)

Sheesh, I sure wish that I knew about these guys' Frank Zappa connection back when I was buying up all those Mothers of Invention records like potrzebie! Maybe I woulda bought this 'un which was at the time appearing on the Straight label, but since I passed on Tim Dawe maybe not. The title says it all, and surprisingly enough I wasn't bored with the lack of instrumentation one bit! While I'm at it did I ever tell you that the Persuasions were the first ever "professional" big time music act I had the pleasure of seeing age 13???
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THIRD WORLD WAR CD (Esoteric Recordings, England)

When Iggy Pop was moiling in the boobies of early-seventies London post-Electra-era Stooges days, David Bowie had the idea of having his grand return to performing being backed up by either the Edgar Broughton Band or these infamous English lunks who I've never read a rave review about in my life! Sounds tantalizing either way, although the fact that none other than Twink did audition for the backing band also lends some stature to his eternal being!

But Third World War woulda been just as backing up Ig as they are on their lonesome. Nowadays they sound much better than I remembered from various cassette dubs and in-store plays, comin' off straight ahead and early-seventies down and dirty even if the energy never seems to rise to MC5 levels. Their Working Class lyrics don't make you wanna hate the Working Class like a lotta the early-eighties punks's did and the pace is a lot more steady than most of the Marxist rock music wannabes you used to read about back in the eighties. Even the acoustic guitar and strings number ain't gonna make you wanna puke due to the underlying tension.

Maybe I will dish out the money and send all the way to Russia for their followup album even if the chances of me receiving it might be practically nil. After all, I'm still waiting for my EASY ACTION CD I ordered in...2001???
***
The Rascals-ONCE UPON A DREAM CD-r burn (originally on Atlantic)

I actually had a flea market copy of this platter which I purchased back '79 way but I didn't keep it too long because the whole thing was just too frilly and concept-y for my rather punkoid tastes. Lo these many years later I find ONCE UPON A DREAM a whole lot better'n whatever it was about this 'un I remembered. The dago kid soul holds up better'n what a whole lotta those Eyetalian types who were coppin' black sounds back then ended up doing while the addition of an orchestra actually helps out things like they would on a classic early/mid-sixties single. There's even the obligatory bit of avant garde thrown in to show all those snooty kids that the Rascals could be real hip too! Not bad really even if I probably won't be playing this for another thirty-nine years.
***
And once again I prove that my year definitely beats your life, at least as far as rummaging through my decades-old (and ever-growing) collection proves.

Thursday, February 08, 2018

COMIC BOOK REVIEW! LI'L RASCAL TWINS #16 (August 1959) (available via
Golden Age Reprints)

DOGGONE THAT BILL SHUTE! An' I mean it too! Y'see, here I am tryin' to scrimp and save for that big day when I'll be retirin' and will hopefully have more moolah to rely on than the pittance of a pension and Social Security payment I'll be in for, and here the guy goes and gets me re-interesting in comic books to the point where I'm buyin' 'em up old and new just like I was back when I was a good twelve-years-old and mainly had an excuse (stupidity) to do just that! Sheesh Bill, how do you think I'm gonna stay afloat with me dumping all of this money in order to buy some reprint of a crime comic that I coulda got at a local flea market back 1972 way for a mere dime??? All I gotta say is I hope you're gonna take good care of me when """""I""""" get old because hey, it's either some financial backing from you or sharin' a bed with some pocked opiate-addled smelloid at the poor house!

But with all these comic books at hand at least I won't spend my declining years being bored, and if I have to "pour any of my money down a rathole" I'll pour it down one that'll get me some classic comic book reading in return! And the titles offered by Golden Age Reprints really do supply the goods in these definitely anti-comics (have you actually read a recent comic book these past thirtysome years? Me neither!) days.

Being in a humorous mood, I decided to splurge on some funny kiddie titles which mostly came out of the Archie stable from way back in those days that I'm even sure the Archie people would like us to forget. Those books include an issue of WILBUR (Archie's own ARCHIE swipe!) and a few GINGERs which I will write about perhaps in the not-so-distant future. But for now I thought I'd pass a li'l gas on THE LI'L RASCAL TWINS, Charlton Comics' dive into the anarchic kiddie market which I guess everybody was cashing in on considering the reams of DENNIS THE MENACE swipes from Archie's own PAT THE BRAT to Marvel's PETER THE LITTLE PEST that were hittin' the rotatin' comic book rack at the time.

But LI'L RASCAL TWINS ain't exactly as direct a steal as the other miscreant titles...sure "Li'l Genius" sports a Dennis cowlick and bushy brow and seems (but necessarily isn't) prone for trouble but you'll never see him runnin' into the house holding a skull. His friend "Li'l Tomboy" ain't even a Tomboy and in fact the two aren't even related so how could they be "twins" inna first place? And that title...LI'L RASCAL TWINS??? At the time this magazine was being published the LITTLE RASCALS were hot stuff on tee-vee and I'm sure every kid in Ameriga knew about 'em, so yeah it's more'n OBVIOUS why Charlton slapped this particular title on the cover! And you don't have to be Brainiac to know the reason why.

I'm sure that the ol' sucker born every minute line applied like it did a whole load of times in and around the whole comic book sphere, and if some dumboid kid didn't snatch thin 'un off the stands thinkin' he was gonna be reading about Alfalfa and Darla I guess he deserved to be crestfallen once his boo-boo was discovered. Ditto some unwary mother or ignorant aunt who snatched a copy thinking it the real fanabla only to get cussed out by sick li'l Junior once she got home from the store. I've fallen for the ruse many a time in my life and if you say you never did you're just plain lyin'.

So you're probably thinkin' that we're goin' in with a whole lotta negative mock it to all heck fun and jamz regarding this title...but are we??? After all, this is just a cheap kid comic book and it looks fine enough what with the nice humorous artwork well-derived from various Mort Walker, Hank Ketchum and Roy Doty prototypes. And it is an easy to read, nice to look at comic as well. I remember when, during a long and tiring outdoor antique show/flea market when the crowds were beginning to thin but there were still a few more hours until closing, I'd buy some early-seventies Marvel reprint title featuring their fifties-era kids roster and read the thing if only to exude some cheap chuckles outta it, then pass it on to my cyster for her enjoyment while I copped an eyefulla yet another cheap crank-out. The stories in LI'L RASCAL TWINS are very much in that whole uncontrollable children's comic vein, containing a slew of mildly humorous guffaws that are worth not only the newsstand price you woulda hadda pay back then but the used copy price of fifty cents you'd pay at a flea market years later. And believe-you-me, any kid, even if he didn't know enough that this was indeed a downright imitation (as if he really cared), could get more'n his moolah back with all of the jokes, gags and funtime art to be found inside. Just ask Bill Shute, but don't complain if he gets you hooked too!

The stories in LI'L RASCAL TWINS speak to that suburban slob kiddoid feeling that I'm sure any single-digit son of the ranch house suburbs could have related to, and for quite a good many years as well. Here's a brief rundown of each story done up just like Bill Shute does...in "That's Show Business" the "twins", after being rudely rousted from the nearby circus because they're broke, start their own "free" one (worthy of any that have been seen in two decades worth of OUR GANG shorts) which drives customers away from the legit deal! In "Jungle Jaunt" the kids go to South Ameriga with their sportsman "Uncle Ben" where they inadvertently start a tribal war when Li'l Tomboy starts bangin' away freestyle on the drums. In "Hi Flyer" the pair babysit the turdler son of an airplane pilot who takes the kids themselves into heights unreached when the kid escapes from a trap door on the roof and climbs up a steel bridge post, and in "Scream Quietly, Please" the Rascals get all gung ho after hearing the mayor's anti-noise speech and try to quite things up with disastrous effects!

There's also a Li'l Genius solo saga which makes a joke outta some flat tire and tough meat, and the usual two-page text which only Bill Shute likes to read. And don't forget the "Just Give Me a Name" contest where participants are encouraged to give this strange creature who looks like an elderly man in a fancy suit and top hat sporting elephant ears, a pig's snout and a kangaroo tail some sort of handy moniker. First prize is your very own Buster Crabbe swimming pool and followups aren't that bad either, though I would personally have preferred that Carvel Ice Cream gave out an endless supply of their goodies 'stead of savings bonds!

In 1959 I don't think any self-respecting suburban slob coulda done much better with his dime unless it went towards another top notch comic book or some well-loved toy once he got another few cents his way. I personally had more fun looking through LI'L RASCAL TWINS than I had doing many things this past week, and thankfully this comic will give me more chuckles once I dig it out again in the future for a further go-at. Golden Age Reprints are to be commended for making this one widely available. However, the $12.99 price tag might be considered a little steep, especially considering how you can buy an original LI'L RASCAL TWINS issue for a whole lot less not only via ebay but perhaps your local flea market if you only look hard enough! But what's money in an era when a million bucks can't buy you an honest laugh from the reams of scolding "comedians" out there...for a real chortle get hold of this title and beware the local comedy club!