Thursday, May 31, 2018


MOOM PITCHER REVIEW! HOW TO COMMIT MARRIAGE STARRING BOB HOPE, JANE WYMAN AND JACKIE GLEASON (1969)

I must say t'is sure grand to once again watch this perennial 1980's afternoon tee-vee offering especially given the plain unadulterated fact that HOW TO COMMIT MARRIAGE is one of those mooms that everyone seems more'n content to dump on outta natural reflex if anything. Allow me to buck against the trend once again, because for all practical purposes this film is one of the funniest things I've had the pleasure of seeing with regards to the "cinematic experience" (no shit!) as applied to the Suburban Slob mindset in quite a long time, and anyone who doesn't like it is a total turdburger of an person who has no business wasting air let alone setting foot on this once boff planet of ours!

I gotta say that it was (and remains) rather neato watching Bob Hope star in a timely generation gap "New Hollywood" kinda film, and come to think of it this was co-star Jackie Gleason's second old unto new transitional flick (the first being 1968's legendary and "controversial" SKIDOO!). And although you wouldn't exactly think that these kinda guys would be able to carry off one of those generation gap tales as played off by aging Establishment stars I gotta admit that both of 'em did a way better job'n David Niven did bumbling around as a confused psychologist in THE IMPOSSIBLE YEARS. Watching these two trade insults while saying a whole lot more about what the entire late-sixties hippoid experience really was than THE ENTIRE HIDEBOUND EDITION OF ROLLING STONE IN THEIR PRE-SUPERMARKET DAYS ever could really does help resensify that oft dulled soul of mine, and if you have a soul (tho I doubt it) this might help focus your own perspective as well!

Hope and fellow Olde Tyme moom pitcher star Jane Wyman (who for years I thought was the mother of Bill...funny how these things can get into yer adolescent mind!) play a straighter than you would ever think SoCal couple who are on the verge of splitsville under what would seem the flimsiest of circumstances! When their college age daughter comes home with her fiancee (played by ex-JONNY QUEST and future ANIMAL HOUSE denizen Tim Mathieson) all a go-go for that big trip down the aisle (mostly due to what she perceives as her folks' own eternal lovidovieness), the parents decide to hide the ax burying until well after the nuptials. However, when Mathieson's father, the slimy and "New Morality"-minded music biz biggie Oliver Poe (Gleason) gets wind of the upcoming wedding his enlightened self does his durndest to see that matrimony does not ensue. He's so hip that he'd prefer that the two just live in sin and join up with his new rock group protege the Comfortable Chair, a hippydippy act that falls way outside of the BLOG TO COMM scope as they're so one-dimensional they made the Jefferson Airplane sound like Throbbing Gristle. And the fact that he was sold some mudslide of a home by Hope doesn't help things between the two either.

And Poe DOES stop the wedding when he announces during the "forever hold your peace" part the BIG SECRET that Hope and Wyman were hiding from the world, at which point the couple tumble straight into Poe's plans where not only do they do the proverbial shacking up bit and join the band, but actually conceive a bastard offspring which really gets the gal's parents more upset than the time I was caught in the bathroom reading a copy of DR. SMITH'S HEALTH AND HYGIENE TIPS...y'know, the book that always opens up to "The Female Between The Ages of Twelve and Seventeen" chapter when you sent it on the spine.

It gets even better from there what with Hope and Wyman secretly adopting the little scarlet letter before Poe could snatch it up not to mention the long and rather funny climax where Hope impersonates the protein-minded New Guru Rage Baba Zeba (played by real life Stalinist Professor Irwin Corey!) during a combination rock concert/spiritual seminar in order to persuade his daughter to get married! Really there ain't a duff thing about this moom which not only has more than its shares of wisecracks (my fave---when Mathieson plays some free-form avant garde tune on the piano and Hope quips "I never thought I'd miss the Beatles!") but kinda reminds you about what life used to be before those free-spirit types took over the world and things got so dystopian one could only pray for the return of Francisco Franco! Even the golf scene where Hope plays a round against a chimpanzee's got its har-de-hars and if you can actually laugh at a chimpanzee gag this late in the game you know it's gotta be good!

Kudos must also go to Leslie Nielsen who ain't into his screwball comedic self yet but does well as a real estate agent who's going after Wyman much to Hope's dismay, while none other than Tina Louise plays Laverne Baker (I don't think the writers were aware of thee Laverne B., but who knows) as Poe's concubine who is seen posing in a bathtub for an album cover shoot, obviously a sly commentary on alla that nudity that was flyin' around at the time even though none of us just-post turdlers were lucky enough to see any!

Like many of these late-sixties films, HOW TO COMMIT MARRIAGE plays like a tee-vee moom or sitcom of the same stratum...in fact the interior of the house Hope lives in is the same one used for THE BRADY BUNCH that's how late-sixties this film can get! Now I'm sure that some of you more sophisticated readers just wouldn't be up for something as "outdated" and as "bourgeois", but for real life gotta work guys who believe in the eternal value of KICKING UP YER FEET AND HAVING A FUN TIME this is a moom that really does make for a better time than watching a pot of water boil. Come to think of it, that would be more exciting than any modern-day "entertainment" I've seen on the boob tube these past few decades or so and if I never see this one again at least I can head for the kitchen and experience something a whole lot more stimulating than whatever there is out there that is considered entertainment these days!

One final note...in the brief clip showing the chart-rating of the Comfortable Chair, they are seen positioned one notch below none other than Fever Tree! And it should be noted that the Chair were on Ode records and that they were an actual group whose music did seem to fit in swell with the corny hippie dancing that can be seen during the concert scene...now you know what people hadda endure while awaiting the Coming of Iggy!

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

MOOM PITCHER REVIEW BY BILL SHUTE! BRANDED MEN (1931) STARRING KEN MAYNARD!

For someone who was one of the major series-western stars of the late silent and early sound era, and who was still starring in B-westerns as late as 1944 (in his series with Hoot Gibson, and sometimes Bob Steele, at Monogram), KEN MAYNARD is not as well-remembered as he should be. Of course, he did not stay with one studio the way that Tim Holt or Charles Starrett or Roy Rogers did, so there’s no unified body of work for the present-day rights-holder to want to exploit. Also, while he did work for Universal and Columbia, most of his sound work was for the minors and thus have been in the public domain for decades, so the films wind up on You Tube (if we’re lucky) or at Alpha Video. Ken’s cantankerous personality----which often gets as much coverage as his films do in modern-day write-ups----hasn’t helped matters any either; there are no heartwarming stories or uplifting anecdotes floating around. Also, a number of Maynard’s films have an outrageous quality that could strike today’s viewers as bizarre. When he had the money behind him at Universal, he was able to indulge his taste in pulp-influenced over-the-top adventures in odd settings; when he was on Poverty Row, where he usually was, the films had a lot of comedy, as this one does.

When I was first watching old B-westerns as a child, I asked my father about his personal favorites. He would have been a movie-going boy in the late silent and early sound era. The first name he mentioned was Ken Maynard. I forget the wording he used, but he said something to the effect that Maynard’s films were always entertaining and always delivered the goods. Say what you will about Maynard’s crusty personality, the man understood that audiences wanted to be entertained and that his target audiences—children and adolescent boys, and men who still had a large juvenile streak, like me----enjoyed both comedy and off-the-wall elements that they could talk about among themselves over the week after the Saturday matinee where they saw the Maynard films.

This 1931 entry starts off with a bang----a brawl on a dusty Western street----and you know you are in store for an entertaining film when you notice that Ken Maynard has TWO comedic sidekicks, not one. First, there is lanky Irving Bacon, who is in the kind of role later played by a Sterling Holloway (see the BTC review of Wildfire with Bob Steele, which SH is in) or in the 60’s by Will Hutchins. The IMDB describes Bacon as someone who “could always be counted on for expressing bug-eyed bewilderment or cautious frustration in small-town settings with his revolving door of friendly, servile parts - mailmen, milkmen, clerks, chauffeurs, cab drivers, bartenders, soda jerks, carnival operators, handymen and docs,” and that is certainly accurate. Interestingly, his real last name is Peters! Bacon was a man who paid his dues—he was in many films a year, usually uncredited unless it was a comedy short. This is the kind of trouper I really respect—he was in films and shorts that millions of people saw at their local theater, yet in a number of them he didn’t even get billing. You didn’t see him whining about that. He just did the work, was so reliable that he was cast regularly, and he knew the fame would eventually come—it was all about the daily work. This film was quite a feature for him, and he makes the most of it. Bacon was still doing small comedic roles in television in the mid-1960’s!

Maynard’s other sidekick is the amazing Billy Bletcher. His career goes back to 1914 and early silent comedy. His short stature and great comic timing made him the perfect “character” actor in silent comedy, but when sound came about, he really blossomed as he had a magnificent deep voice, which was somewhat at odds with his size. In addition to comedy (he even had comedy shorts starring with Billy Gilbert), he was one of the busiest cartoon voice artists from the 30’s on, doing many things for both Disney and Warner Brothers. While westerns were not his specialty, the man did everything and did it well, so besides this film with Ken Maynard, he was also in early 30’s westerns with Hoot Gibson and Tom Keene. My personal favorite role of his is as Gorzo, the sympathetic hunchback dwarf in the over-the-top 1935 serial, THE LOST CITY, starring Kane Richmond and, in a performance that’s got to be seen to be believed, William “Stage” Boyd (in other words, NOT William “Hopalong Cassidy” Boyd or Bill “Cowboy Rambler” Boyd). I bet Ken Maynard would have loved that serial, as it’s got the same loopy pulp-magazine outrageousness that he always valued.

After the brawl, a bystander comes up to Ken to tell him how impressed he was by the boys’ performance as scrappy fighters, and introduces himself. Ken explains that they are just passing through and looking for work. The man suggests a ranch that could use them and suggests they head out there, but warns them of horse thieves in the area. Well, these horse thieves out-do most in that line….they steal the horses from right under you as you are riding them! These crooks are led by a man who was one of the greatest and most active western villains of the 30’s and 40’s, Charles King. King had been a leading man sort in the silent era, could actually sing, and was in some comedy shorts in the late silent era, but he somehow got slotted in as a western bad guy, and he must be in hundreds of films. He brought those comic talents to a number of his roles….although he could be brutal too, when needed. He was great when paired with BTC fave Guy Wilkerson (as Panhandle Perkins) in the PRC 1940’s Texas Rangers films.

The boys wind up horse-less in the middle of nowhere and are then forced to walk back to town, their hopes of employment on the ranch totally shot. At that point the “plot” kicks in and involves the weak-willed son of the rancher who is losing his shirt gambling with the crooks, who use that as leverage to take over the ranch. As Ken and the boys don’t have any work prospects, they take the bartender’s tip and become sheriff and deputies for the town, since no one else wants the gig and no one is willing to stand up to the various crooks.

It’s hard to describe to present-day audiences the nature of Ken Maynard’s appeal. He’s both tough yet affable, he’s a great horseman, and he certainly commands the screen. We sometimes forget that humor was often a good-sized element in the classic B-western, and some cowboys—Hoot Gibson, for instance—were VERY good at it. Maynard is an excellent straight man (whereas Hoot Gibson was usually the comedian himself) and perhaps the secret element in his bag of tricks is that he always seems comfortable on-screen. He was still in his heyday in 1931—he later put on weight and slowed down somewhat in the 40’s (though he was always good and still had the comic timing—wisely, he softened the persona as he got slower in later years)—and he was really at the top of the low-budget western field at this point. He would go back to Universal again after this and make higher-budgeted films involving exotic locations and strange almost-fantasy elements, but by 1934 he was at Mascot doing the serial MYSTERY MOUNTAIN and after that strictly rode the B-movie range. He continued to deliver the bread-and-butter Western goods until about 1944, when he was working for $800 a film (as the star!) and decided to retire from the screen and pursue other interests.

The low budgets of these B-westerns have turned out to be a great asset in that there was a lot of location shooting and also shooting at available movie ranches, which tended to have a ramshackle look to them. The outdoor shooting, back when you could drive for an hour north or east of Los Angeles and be in pure rural country that looked like the 1880’s, has so much dusty atmosphere you can taste it. Costumes, sets, etc. all have a lived-in, worn appearance, probably because they WERE lived-in and worn.

In 63 minutes, BRANDED MEN delivers thrills, laughs, romance, intrigue, fights-a-plenty, and a nice camaraderie among the three saddle pals. You would feel you’d got your money’s worth and then some if you happened upon this film at your small-town theater circa 1931. You’ll still get your money’s worth if you get the new Grapevine Video DVD of this which gives you a fine Maynard double-bill (also with 1930’s ALIAS THE BAD MAN) at a low price, sourced from quality prints. Trust me, there’s NO ONE in Ken Maynard’s league today, and the world is a poorer place because of it.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Ready for the long holiday weekend? Well, I sure am kinda/sorta given that I have a free Memorial Day to do some additional goofing off not to mention another golden opportunity to write up some items for this blog which I know you steady readers will simply just adore. And who knows, I might just be able to slip a few hot dogs into my digestive tract during all of the fun gala activities I'm bound to be in for tomorrow! (Yeah right...in all honesty I'll probably be holed up in my room writing the usual flotsam that gets posted here in between mandatory tee-vee viewings of PETER GUNN and the same old...who'm I kiddin'?)
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Thomas Edison once said that genius was one-percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent masturbation or something like that. Since I am hardly a person to be inspired other'n by a particularly dark drone-y brand of music and I don't believe in "touching myself" considering how it leads to not only moral impurity but threats to have my weenie chopped off don't expect anything great in this week's particular post. That's right---this is gonna be just like EVERY OTHER one and as far as any insightful, eruditeful or spiteful for that matter pearls of rockist wisdom well...mebbee next week (hah!).
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Virtue signalling...done MY way!
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And...once again thanx be to Bill and Paul (not to mention "Eugrom") but not Bob because his packages sure seem to get buried under tons of old magazines and whatnot...anyway, make do with whatcha get here because otherwise there's nothing but Parke Puterbaugh out there and reading any of that's a fate worse than Christgau!



Mazoma-STARK JOY LP (Feeding Tube Records)

Believe it or not but some of these loner/stoner types of solo acoustic psycho folk albums do make for some pretty advanced listening. Get years of sensitive singer/songwriter James Taylor/Melanie mewl outta your system with Mazoma (also known as Mike Tucker) as he mindlessly noodles his guitar while moaning some of the more esowhatziz lyrics heard within the loner/stoner folkie idiom in years. (That is, if you can make out what he's saying...somehow I get the impression that the guy's THOUGHTS were somehow laid to tape.) Occasionally a toy piano or banging door will protrude. This is the next best thing to listening to your brain-damaged psycho friend putzying around on his guitar singing introspective ditties to the ozone, only without the smell of his un-wiped butt permeating the air.
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Zendek Farm Orgaztra-DANCE OF THE COZMIC WARRIORS CD-r burn (originally on Kidnez Records)

From Youtube: "Wulf Zendik (1920-1999) called by some the 'Undiscovered Beat', was a full fledged writer, musician, philosopher, whose main tenets were along the lines of: 'Stop the bullshit, stop following the ravaging sick society and transcend from it, if the culture is sick, make a new one!' and thats what he did, he and a group of followers lived for many years on their eco farm/commune, preaching these values... It had some shortcomings, turning somewhat into a cult, but his words are very well worth listening, as well as his music, complete psych rock freakout excess!" Wow, this guy really coulda fooled me! Synthesized drones had me thinking Harmonia for a short spell, but then this Zendek feller starts singing like just about any washed-out late-eighties gnu wave fan and the music starts getting into a downright rock 'n roll beat! Really surprising since this ain't the kinda music one would associate with the cartload of mind-napping cultdaddies as Lester Bangs woulda called 'em but something that does have depth and even (gosh!) meaning once ya get down to it!
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The Lyres-LIVE AT THE RUSTY NAIL, SUNDERLAND MA MARCH 29, 1985 CD-r burn

Sometimes it's hard to listen to the Lyres after hearing a whole buncha badder 'n bad stories about their leader Jeff Connolly, but then again I'll bet many of you out there in readerland have a hard time tuning into this blog after all of the things you've heard about me! Keeping all of the negative rumors (and first hand accounts) outta it lemme just say that I thought this soundboard club recording was a boffo experience. The live response was pretty dudsville but the performance for all intent purposes was what I like about many of those "six-oh" acts that were trying their darndest to keep the spirit of pre-hippoid rock 'n roll screech alive in a world that seemingly couldn't care less. Great cheesy organ and screaming vocals...sheesh with a group like the Lyres around it was like alla that bad stuff that had infected rock 'n roll for years never happened!
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Eugrom and the Dopes-FRIENDS OF THE GLACIER cassette

Like Greg Shaw, I love it when readers send me their little home made tapes that usually have zil commercial potential but tons of young aw shucks energy and vision. This cassette is but one of 'em featuring what sounds like a standard guitar/bass guitar/drums set up playing a free rock that kinda zooms upwards and onwards into regions that I will admit have been reached before but so what! Far from the usual basement diddling found on many of these tapes, Eugrom etc. perform a particularly lo-fidelity improvised music that thankfully doesn't sink to those self-indulgent levels that the players and players only can secrete any sorta jollies outta. In other words, if you liked those Neu rehearsal tapes that Captain Trip released ages back you should like this 'un as well.
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The Fleshtones-BUDGET BUSTERS CD-r burn (originally on Yep Roc Records)

This brand-spanking new Fleshtones record just happens to be a collection of rarities and various b-sides that I'm sure many of you already own in various capacities, but man if it sure ain't grand havin' 'em all in one place! Still sounds pretty good even with the over-produced sound and various tries at commercial acceptability. It's amazing that these guys are still around a good fortysome years after forming, and even though you can bet they're gonna be doin' the Fleshtones game well into their Golden Years I can't fault them for getting hold of a good idea and hanging on with it! Just get the whole "new wave" aspect of the group outta your mind and this should go down better'n Linda Lovelace.
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Jesse Allen-ROCKIN' AND ROLLIN' CD-r burn (originally on Imperial Records)

After a particularly grueling day at the salt mines I gotta say that the last thing I probably would have wanted to listen to was Jesse Allen. (On those harder-than-hard days at the orifice I prefer winding down to the soft and dulcet tones of a WHITE LIGHT/WHITE HEAT or some clangy industrial specialty.) However I gotta tell ya that this platter from obscurer than your humility Allen was a fine hum-dinger with some nice deep-fried bluesy rock 'n roll coupled with Allen's gruff guitar playing and growly vocals keepin' my attention span perked up enough. For those of you who swore off the entire blues concept ever since the rise of Robert Cray this might be the thing to bring ya back!
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The Flamin' Groovies-LIVE AT THE WHISKY A GO-GO/SIRE RECORDS PRESS PARTY 1978 CD-r burn (the Whisky set originally on Lolita Records)

I'm sure that the Whisky show has been around in many formats that are continuing to wallow around in my collection years after the fact. It's so hard to keep up with it all. Still a good enough live show even if the overabundance of cover material tends to turn 'em into more of a nostalgia act than a seventies exponent of beat music in the blank generation. I'll still take 'em over the plethora of power pop bands that came out in their wake that never really did capture the true spirit of the age. The live tape tagged on at the end sounds pretty good for being an audience thingie and adds to the mop topped thrill of it all even more. Another one from my favorite bargain bin don't pay over 99-cents groups that really helped me through my depression-era wage youth.
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LITTLE FREE ROCK CD-r burn (originally on Transatlantic Records, England)

Transatlantic Records never really was my idea of whatcha'd call a boff under-the-underground kinda label (other'n choice Mick Farren/ Deviants platters and Bizarre label reissues) so it's like I really didn't have much if any hope for this particular set. As usual I was right, for LITTLE FREE ROCK contains more or less un-expressive late-sixties hard rock that fails to excite one the way the usual acts of the day with strangulated guitar lines and gut-thudding bass could, even without the benefits of a chemically addled mind. I must admit that I liked "Age of Chivalry" which, at least for me, conjured up memories of the Move at half-mast whimsical, but do we really need a ten minute version of the once-great "Making Time" complete with each member taking the usually indulgent solos that bore more than thrill?
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Various Artists-sock it to POTRZEBIE!!! CD-r burn (Bill Shute)

Considerin' how this 'un just arrived inna mail I was gonna slip in to the side and write up some moldier Bill burn for this week, but the sight of Moxie Cowznofski's gams sure had me thinkin' otherwise! So sock it to POTRZEBIE gets moved up to prime position if only because of Mr. Shute's smart sense of eye catching cover creations. Waah!

Nice selection again too, starting with one of those grouchy Amerigan guys mad at the Beatles novelty numbers that were all the rage in the mid-sixties, to Judy Carne trying to milk more outta her LAUGH IN fame with "Sock It To Me" (something I hear ex-hubby Burt Reynolds was not too good at leading poor Judy to begin living "a double life" ifyaknowaddamean). There are more surprises here from Alfred E. Newman's "Potrzebie" (which is just a jazzy instrumental...no burps to be heard whatsoever!) to a couple of tracks by the Jazz Crusaders of all people! There are also four good 'un's from Charlie Rich here, he bein' a guy who should be getting more BLOG TO COMM coverage one of these days if I only can get the mustard up to do so.

The rest also fits in with my free time laze about sensibilities from the Moody and the Deltas funk soul groove to Hal Payne and Bill Sherrell's local country rock stomp. Not a duff moment to be heard, though howcum no hotcha old type radio commercials Bill???
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Once again I must remind you that if you like the type of spew to be found on this blog there's a whole lot more of it to be read in BLACK TO COMM, the fanablazine that eventually led to the blog which brightens up your life here in the dark dank reaches of the late teens. Got a whole bunch of 'em to unload, and I kinda get the feeling that you would like a few of 'em to scatter across your coffee table in order to impress whatever there is left to impress these days. C'mon, you know you want 'em all---right?

Friday, May 25, 2018

MOOM PITCHER REVIEW BY BRAD KOHLER! BORDER RADIO (Pacific Arts Video, 1988)

Scored this and THE HOLLYWOOD STRANGLER MEETS THE SKID ROW SLASHER out of the bargain bin at a video store years ago. Recently rewatched it, and if anything its even slower than I remember. And not because the tracking speed of the VHS cassette is off-kilter with age.

BORDER RADIO has been called "one of the best movies ever about rock n' roll" or so crows the back of the tape case, but apparently no one wanted to take credit for that wildly overstated kudo.

If you pop a woody over classic LA gig flyers there are plenty in the background of this flick. But what can you say about a movie where the highlight is Eddie Flowers putting down the Clash to some brit dimwit?

Shot piecemeal on a budget that probably didn't even allow for a catering allowance of gas station hotdogs, only Chris Shearer as a roadie moving in on Chris D's old lady while he's skipped town to avoid the payback for a heist makes any impression.

Yeah the soundtrack is OK, but only just OK. (At least a Flesheaters tune instead of solo Chris D. would have kept my head from bobbing sleepily into the popcorn bowl.) More proof the eighties sucked. Darby Crash certainly knew when to check out, even if his math was based on a Bowie song and not the coming of MTV.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

BOOK REVIEW! THE COMPLETE RACKET SQUAD IN ACTION: VOLUME ONE (available via Gawandanald Comics)


If you haven't experienced being holed up in yer boudoir on a dismal Sunday afternoon reading old comic books while music of some matter is spinnin' away on the bedside boom box, then man you just ain't lived what I would call the complete life! Yes, for me Sunday PM is the best time of the week to settle back and dig into the pile of comic reprints Bill Shute gave me for Christmas, and between his gifts and the comics I've been buyin' on my lonesome I just hope that this Sunday afternoon lasts a whole lot longer than it possibly could! Suburban slob HEAVEN that's what it is and don't give me that jive about dope and s-xual congress and those other things that seem so SUPERFICIAL as these years just go rollin' on into total oblivion because once you get down to it the ultimate high in life is high energy music and reading matter that is something you WON'T see in the NEW YORK TIMES top ten list that's for sure!

And when Bill gives me a comic book it just ain't any kinda comic! No sir ree, his comics are downright EDUCATIONAL and I don't mean brainy like PICTURE STORIES FROM GYNECOLOGY 'r anything soppy like that. No, I mean smart yet FUNTIME educational meaning that hey, you or even memeME might learn something from these books, and not in a goody-goody make-ya-smart CLASSICS ILLUSTRATED way either! No homework assignments here bub...this is real learning with a big wide GRIN on your face!

I'll tell ya, it sure is GREAT being edjamacated  when you want to be, and THE COMPLETE RACKET SQUAD IN ACTION: VOLUME ONE does just that! Yes, these sagas were taken from a comic title dedicated to exposing the variety of frauds, ripoffs, takedowns and other scams that have (and undoubtedly will) transpire upon your very being, and each and every one of these tales o' woe  really do make for more'n just "engaging" reading you just can't get in anything Archie Publications has put out in the last ten years! The fact that the first eight issues have been gathered and bound by Gawandaland Comics (who also did the same with the remaining issues!) really is something that'll cozy up to your own long-suppressed "aw shucks" self. And for once, why don't you let your inner suburban slob have its way with you 'stead of that decadent pose you've been puttin' on for so long that even the dog can see its fake! BUY it!

Inspector J.J. O'Malley hosts the stories dealing with the various frauds and bunco schemes that were and perhaps still are goin' 'round. Things like carnival hucksterisms (there are two tales featuring various "ring the bell" scams!) and phony magazine mailorders, blackmail gags and funds come ons that might have seemed quite tempting to a few unaware fanablas from West Middlesex but are (as we all should know) phonier than all get out. Sid Radner handles the gambling frauds that apply from everything from crap games to card and casino deals showing that the odds really can be stacked way against ya. And Doctor "Bill" Neff handles the world of the occult, or at least sheds a whole lotta light on some of the clairvoyance and inter-dimensional scams that have suckered quite a few people if you can believe alla those forties/fifties Monogram films that we've seen throughout our lives. And from what I can tell you via internet searches, alla these guys were for REAL! (Well, ain't too sure about O'Malley but the other two were!) No name changes 'r anything!!!!

Yes, you can learn a whole lot from these tales, more often than not WHERE NOT TO SLIP UP SO'S YOU DON'T GET CAUGHT!!!! Now admit it,  haven't you always wanted to pull a real scam on someone you loathed ever since you were a kid? Maybe you wanna get back at 'em for the old "heads I win, tails you lose" gag that always had me stumped! Well, now you CAN with these comics. Just see where the bad guys went wrong, where they weren't as careful or as nimble fingered as they should have been and you'll be rakin' in the cash from some unsuspecting widow who thinks you're the best! Yes, who says that there are no more opportunities here in the Good Ol' U. S. of Whoa, and with the knowledge you can obtain from this book you can prove alla them skeptics dead wrong, at the expense of a few unwary souls that is.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

All excited over the royal wedding? Say "YO!" if yer as bored as me*. Otherwise, I've been trying to ignore the nuptuals and other sundries by doing things of a decidedly non-royal nature such as watching a whole lotta FETV (now showing TWO hours of PETER GUNN on Saturday and Sunday nights not to mention ROY ROGERS, THE LONE RANGER and----HAZEL??????? [hokay, that ain't a hot 'un by any stretch of the imagination but I sure wanna see their anti rock 'n roll episode!]), not to mention gabbing a whole lot on the telephone with my Close Personal Friend Don Fellman! Man, you haven't LIVED if you ain't heard Don do his impression of Howdy Doody singing not only John Lennon's "Mother" complete with the primal scream but (now get this!) Lennon's "God" with relevant to Doodyville lyrics ("I don't believe in Buffalo Bob---I don't believe in Clarabell---I don't believe in Chief Thunderthud---I don't believe in Dilly Dally---I don't believe in Princess Summerfall Winterspring---I don't believe in Wonder Bread''...). As Eddie Haskell would have said, that's really hilarious, mister!
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I like dreams that not only reflect my own rock et roll outlook on life, but ones which sorta churn up old feelygoods of the past that I haven't experienced in ages. Like take this one I had a week or so back where I am invited to what seems like a fambly-type get together at some old Eyetalian lady's place in Farrell PA, just south of here. For some reason I decide to take along some records including the Seeds' BAD PART OF TOWN collection on Eva to liven things up. Anyway, the party is being held in a nice little ranch house in a nice suburban slob section of the city and lo and behold, when I get into the basement the rec room there looks a whole lot like what my own fambly's did way back when, including the EXACT SAME STEREO SYSTEM (looking immaculate!) that we used to play those 99-cent cheapo Mary Poppins knockoffs on when I was a mere tot.

Anyhoo I put the Seeds platter on and waddaya know, but the music on it is not from the BAD PART OF TOWN album but "Up In Her Room" from WEB OF SOUND! I am grooving on the repeato riff wonder of that thing when I wonder where everyone is at...some young gals, one with long blond slightly wavy hair wearing a summer type dress is there, are talking but totally ambivalent to the music at hand. Oh well, it did seem like the perfect party song for the occasion.
***
Another fun filled review section ya bet. Thanks to Bill Shute, P. D. Fadensonnen, Mental Experience and Paul McGarry for the freebees which as you know really do keep the costs way down and gives me more moolah in my pockets for those Vietnamese take outs from Mogobo that I sure desire! Hope you learn something from these writeups, but given how you still haven't picked up on Umela Hmota yet A sincerely doubt that you will.


A TALE OF TWO HITTIES

Now that I got one of those bad puns only I like outta the way I must admit that yes, I made a boo-boo like I never made a boo-boo before. After being entranced and aroused by the review of the Yardbirds' new and totally legitimate (re)issue of the live at the Anderson Theater album that popped up in the latest issue of UGLY THINGS, I finally decided to get off my pitted duff and purchase a copy for myself to hear the stark beauty and total eruption that was to have transpired between those grooves or whatever they're called on Cee-Dees. But sheeeee-ucks, what did appear in my mail box but yet another reissue of the old Epic Records LIVE YARDBIRDS (featuring Jimmy Page) effort, complete with the overdubs and phasing, that caused so much strife within the occult soul of Jimmy Page to the point where each and every reissue of this gig (some done with the blessings of the surviving 'birds as well as Keith Relf's very own widow) were unceremoniously shot down.

To rectify the situation I bought the legit "Jimmy Page Music" edition that was touted in UT and thought hey, why not do a side-by-side or at least up-on-down review of BOTH efforts and compare the things not only because it would justify my buying two editions of essentially the same album but hey, I gotta fill these posts up and with something other'n decidedly touchy subject matter that always gets you "more enlightened" readers all in a jumble.

So yeah, here be my opines regarding both the original (more or less) and the new and improved version, and frankly I couldn't think of a better task of writing these records up. Yeah, I am not quite whatcha'd call a Yardbirds enthusiast the way that Bill Shute is, but danged if I don't think that these guys could have evolved into a total eruption late-sixties punk rock entity if they had only stuck it out and recorded albums that reflected the new tone of bared wire intensity that was beginning to grasp at the nodes of teenage Ameriga (and elsewhere) around this time. The LITTLE GAMES platter didn't quite show it but a listen to a downright classic such as LAST RAVE UP IN LA will prove that the Yardbirds were definitely heading for a total energy-drenched style and vision that would have equaled the total eruption path that was beginning to sprout at the exact same time of the group's cave in. Only Woodstock Nation hadda come about and ruin everything.


The Epic platter (here in its "Lost Diamonds" entity) does have what I would call a rather tinny bootleg sound but it still fills whatever satiation the standard loud rock fan of the day needed in his musical diet. The performance is excellent (even Relf sounds relaxed and sincere with his between song raps) and the entire gig drives on with a passion that might have even frightened the MC5. The post-production funzies don't bug me and although the dubbed in audience cheers may be a tad overbearing they do add a cheap charm. I mean, if the Stooges weren't on Elektra and instead ended up on some more bargain basement label and released a live album in 1971 I sure would have expected additional audience sound "enhancement" much in the manner of THE SEEDS RAW AND ALIVE. And it would have worked just as swell!

Of course I can hear just why the Yardbirds nixed this for release and why Page put an end to its brief 1971 appearance. Well, at least it gave us a good 1976 bargain bin classic to contend with, and it sure did fill the bill for most under-the-counterculture types out there (those more of the DENIM DELINQUENT/FLASH/BACKDOOR MAN style of rock appreciation) who could get a buzz not only on the primitive sound and performance but Lenny Kaye's always welcome liner notes. What else could a penny-pinching depression-era wages kid want in his cut out rack anyway?

Well years later these same kids now have fairly good jobs and don't have to think twice about picking up items such as these, and since good things always come to those who wait what else has popped up but the new Jimmy Page version of this legendary set! Well, not quite thee set but close enough. Heavily edited but it sure sounds great as it approaches a typically late-sixties punk rock apex and comes off almost as AN ENTIRELY NEW ALBUM without the dubbed in roars and Relf's between song patter. But even in its crystalline state this show proceeds to perform miracles...after all it sure turned my cheap bedside boombox into an expensive stereo set! Straight ahead and to the point with the high class sound actually giving a different dimension to the familiar rumblings that are to be heard and if a stridently anti-clarity Luddite such as myself can be charmed by this, who knows what it could do to YOU!

True I really like the buzz of the original, but somehow this pristine version strikes me in a just as weird a rock time traipse as WHITE LIGHT/WHITE HEAT or FUNHOUSE did, as a music that was saying goodbye to a well-worn previous sense of existence while charging straight into unexplored terrain. The additional disque featuring "studio sketches" adds to this undeniable mystique, with tracks such as "Avron Knows" and the future "Tangerine" ("Knowing That I'm Losing You") sounding so good that you wish they woulda popped up on that LITTLE GAMES album if only to beef it up a li'l.    

For pure cheapness as the ultimate bargain get hold of the original. Those yearning for an added dimension into a common mid-seventies bargain bin stuffer try YARDBIRDS '68. Of course us longtime old fogey fans and sixties rah-rah-ers for the more addled portion of that decade will just have to get BOTH so like, save that lunch money and remember that when you're ready to sell plasma, the plasma's ready for YOU, or something like that.
***
The Pagans-WHAT'S THIS SHIT? 1977/1979 LP (Thermiotic Records)

Great package (a riff on the old Punk Vault series) and great music from the still dreaded this late in the rock 'n roll game Pagans. Side one's the band live at the Drome back during the Detroit Avenue days when that shop used to have in-store gigs in order to break up the afternoon monotony. Recorded by Paul Marotta and Jamie Klimek the quality is rough and tumble but fits the over-the-board performance just fine. (Hey Paul, have you found any of those Bernie and the Invisibles and Harlan and the Whips tapes that are supposedly wallowing around in your collection?) Flip it over and ya get THREE count 'em versions of the infamous "Six and Change" session, two outtakes and the one that eventually came out and went fast back '77 way. Sheesh what a top notch deal...kinda makes me wish that this got released around the time when I coulda gotten them joy thrills picking up a copy that I could not clearly afford at the Drome myself...
***
The Dead Boys-STILL SNOTTY---YOUNG, LOUD AND SNOTTY AT 40 CD-r burn (originally on Plowboy Records)

I guess if Elliott Murphy could remake AQUASHOW all them years later the Dead Boys, or at least what's left of 'em, could do YOUNG, LOUD AND SNOTTY a good four decades after the fact. The Stiv replacement sounds Bators-ish enough and the playing is pretty much the same as the original (tho I haven't had the opportunity to do any side-by-side comparisons), but unfortunately it isn't the same real deal. However, as far as conjuring up old memories of a past I sure wish I would have lived instead of the one that I did, this does work swimmingly well.
***
MOUVEMENTS CD (Mental Experience Records Spain, available via Guerssen Records)

This reissue of an extremely limited (150 copies) Swiss freak jazz platter should please many of you European music fans who like the way various Amerigan ideals in the realm of the new sounds were translated into Continental. At times this comes off like some bizarroid outtake from one of those Frank Zappa fusion effort albums, but at others it pretty much tramples over you in ways that only these spaced o-mind Euro types can do. Contains some pretty scronky  violin playing that reminds me of a cross twixt Leroy Jenkins and Sugar Cane Harris...here's one for whatever Mother People types may still be around since them days of Bizarre Records!
***
TEMPLE LP (Mental Experience Records Spain, available via Guressen Records)

This thing starts off not unlike one of your typical mid-seventies import bin offerings what with the wash of Moog and Mellotron reminding me of that Omega album on Passport of all things (which would figure considering how this was also recorded at Dieter Dierks' studio), but unlike a good portion of the Euro proggy types the platter gets better as it progresses. By the end it even turns into a pretty ear-groping hard rock effort that recalls such classics as My Solid Ground. Although TEMPLE ain't as punk rock-y as that effort it does make a good enough try and might actually be worth parting with your precious pennies for, that is if you're the kind of guy who wants to listen to an album that starts off in a particularly progressive manner and ends up with some fairly decent Germanic hard rock.
***
Razorlegs-DIAMOND DUST EP cassette (get it here)

Here be a good one to bust me outta my mid-spring ennui. Beautiful short bursts of atonal blunderbuss music with heavy tubbed up drumming accompanying beautiful non-melodic (at times, OK?) screech created not only by "Amphetamericanpsycho Guitar" but synth and stylophone! Andrew Hurst gets mucho BTC no-prizes for playing some of the best heavy thunk since a) Maureen Tucker b) Twink c) you washing machine on spin with an uneven load while P. D. Fadensonnen conjures up more fave under-the-underground moments than your mind can remember (really!). Free your ear canals and your psyche will follow.
***
Laser Pace-GRANFALLOON LP (Feeding Tube Records)

Never knew that the serious folkdom freaks at Takoma Records issued anything outside of the usual Faheyisms we'd all expect, but lo and behold there was a platter of a definitely non-acoustic nature released by 'em. The group was Laser Pace, the title GRANFALLOON (and if they copped that one directly from the once-well known fanzine 'stead of Vonnegut I'll be stymied!) and the year was 1974, a particularly good time for these electronic fusion-y kinda things to come out inna first place. It's a halfway decent thing too, with these weird female vocals that sorta remind me of Anisette with a clogged up nose to some interesting synth squall neo-jazz that for once doesn't sound like Return to Forever filtered through John McLaughlin's bunghole. Might make a good flea market find for you in five or so years.
***
MOLOCH CD-r burn (originally on Fallout Records)

Gotta admit that I was under the impression that Moloch were some sorta mid-South Stooges types drenched in backwater blooze, or at least that's what I thought after reading a few mentions of these guys here/there. As you'd guess my preconceived notions were off the mark. MOLOCH is mid-South backwater blooze for sure, but the primal surge of the Stooges are nowhere to be found on this effort which I kinda find interesting on one hand, though on the other it doesn't pop any proverbial cherries into realms of high energy screech more attuned to my own listening parameters. Might yours tho.
***
Various Artists-WALNUT COME-ON HANGIN' ON CD-r burn (Bill Shute)

And in closing, here's a Bill Shute burn which strangely enough not only features a number of Billy Joe "Down in the Boondocks" Royal tracks but OMITS Jurica Feli's "Walnut Roots" which is strange because the title of this disque clearly mentions this particular track! Come to think of it Royal's "I've Got to be Somebody" ain't here either...guess Bill needed more room to put those old Domino's Pizza commercials on and SOMETHING needed to be axed! Still a good selection of funzies what with one of those cornballus but fine country twangers that went nowhere as well as a soul number from a Bonnie & Sheila entitled "You Keep Me Hangin' On" which surprises of surprises ain't the Supremes hit, and a Jimmy McGriff rendition of the old Al Green hit "Let's Stick Together". Nice cover too, but would you buy a used Rambler from that man???
***
Once again, a gentle reminder to you readers that by-now ANCIENT issues of BLACK TO COMM, the fanzine which spawned all of this internet dribble which you are now reading, are still available and at prices which (at times) are way lower'n what you might have to pay whenever these things pop up on ebay. If you like, click on the above link and let your imagination feast upon what thrills will be awaiting you once you lay your hands on these legendary reads. If you like, ignore the whole thing...I mean, what else is new?

___________________________________________________________
*I don't give it much time tho, especially after she finds out he farts in bed.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

BOOK REVIEW! A HISTORY OF UNDERGROUND COMICS BY MARK JAMES ESTREN (Straight Arrow Books, 1974)

I gotta admit it and you gotta 'fess up to the fact as well...no bout a doubt it underground comix are way passe. Not that they weren't by the time this book was unleashed on the hipper-de-la-decadent youth of the mid-seventies, but you can't deny that the whole dad-blamed movement is more or less past its shelf life, and by a good fortysome years at that. No longer durty smut, these comix are most definitely HIGH ART what with original examples going for the usual extraterrestrial prices while the likes of Kim Deitch and Bill Griffith well ensconced in the legit everyday world (and have being do since the late-seventies at least) to the point where they're every bit as part of the Establishment of Today as Ernie Bushmiller was in his own respective time.

But then again what would you expect now that the new humor, once daring and always trying to push boundaries more and more until it became looser than Matthew Sheppard's sphincter, is these days nothing but pious preachiness that can even make the once loathed Al Capp look positively fresh in comparison? All of the aspects of what used to be cutting edge comedy have all but withered into nada now that the entire genre of what was supposed to make us all guffaw and chortle has turned into ONE BIG SCOLD.

And as far as being scolded like that mean principal goes, it sure is enough to make your manhood rush right back up into the ribcage. Let's face it, the enlightened ex-sixties radical humor has HAD IT...if I wanna read something tasteless yet edgy enough to make me laugh in a sick way these days its' either those (by now old I'll admit) A. Wyatt Mann cartoons that always seem to pop up in search engines even when I'm not looking for them, or better yet those Tyrone Rage ones I wrote up last fall featuring this black guy who gets into a variety of tacky and tasteless endeavors which reflect (usually for the worst) the inner city experience that most would not like to talk about. Y'know those memes that always end with Our Hero giving off a loud "sheeeeeee-it" as the ultimate punchline. They may not all be high-larious, but they do make me do a li'l chortling and I certainly do want to read more.

But yeah, weren't these original underground comix unique 'n original 'n whatever off the top of my shiny head superlatives even an old turd such as I could think up? Sons of the fifties satire splurge, these books were just as much a part of the whole laff parade zeitgeist as Ernie Kovacs or THE BULLWINKLE SHOW only revved up a few notches because hey, there weren't any teachers or parents looking over any shoulders giving out a little more editorial control than needed. Of course these were a reflection of the time what with all of the turmoil and unrest and all those things aging radicals continue to speak about in reverent tones, but best of all these comix were jammed with HOT FLASH THRILLS and OVERBEARING BAD TASTE!  That's the only reason one's gotta look into these comix and one good reason you should try to locate this hoary old tome on a subject which I guess might just fit in, however loosely, to the whole BLOG TO COMM ideal as much as the Pink Fairies and Can album of the same strata do, not to mention Tootsie Pop Drops.

Well, I gotta say that the writing here wasn't bad at all, especially since I was thinkin' the worst after reading a variety of reviews (most notably Ed Ward in CREEM) which lambasted this comix rundown for comin' off as little more'n the college dissertation beefed up for publication that well, it most certainly was. But the story is clear and concise, lacking a good hunk of the revolutionary right ons and stick it to the mans that had overcome a good portion of the underground press for the prior five or so years before this tome was released. Naturally given the entire, uh "subject matter" the whole off the pig revolutionary spirit can easily be discerned, but it sure as shit smells ain't wrapped up in that troubled sensitive teenage glop that made those Billy Jack movies the relevancy touchstone of the seventies! (Not that an occasional nerve-shredding moment of "moralistic" goo makes its presence known, but thankfully the feeling gets washed away with an appearance of some less culturally significant blood and s-x...hey, we ain't talkin' 'bout no WAR IS NOT HEALTHY FOR CHILDREN AND OTHER LIVING THINGS poster here!)

Actually this Estren guy did a pretty neat job detailing the history and development of the underground, beginning with the natural origins and working his way up to the then-present which might have been the best jumping off place for this book. Especially when you consider just how COMMERCIALIZED that the undergrounds had already become by this time what with legit paperback reprints and wide exposure in a variety of hipper-than-hip newsstand rags that most certainly weren't being sold under the counter at bars like in the old days! And if a beneath-the-underkid overweight pimplefarm of a suburban slob such as myself knew about these things, then man they were ANYTHING but "underground" and in fact shoulda been sold at the A&P right next to the tomatoes if you ask me!

But back to the story at hand...Estren should be commended 'stead of vilified not only with his dissection of the whole underground phenomenon but for detailing its whys and wherefores. As usual one's gotta disagree with various points and conclusions but so wha', 'long as you can get your fill of DEFINITELY UN-REDEEMING SOCIAL VALUE outta what pops up here.

And plenty does, not only regarding the big names inna biz but those guys who just happen to be my personal faves like Jay Kinney and Bill Griffith even despite their occasional lapses into whatcha'd call the standard New Youth Movement mindset. At least they, like the rest of the underground cache, knew enough to even ridicule the very same self-important, mirror-gazing, save the world people who bought these rags in the first place, and in my own opinion these aspects of underground comix are what makes 'em sooooo good in the first place!

Nice selection of reprints and examples here. The EC stuff looks horrid but given how hard these were to find back then I guess we hadda be happy with what we got, while the plethora of panels and such really gives one an idea that these things were a whole lot more'n just the usual head fodder. Bizarrely enough, there ain't any complete underground saga reprints here but you can get a pretty good whiff of just what the whole genre was about but what is shown. And to switch gears every so slightly, I'm sure glad that a good portion of what has been presented stands in contrast to the whole good vibe-y down on the farm vision one has of the youth kultur of the day (as if the likes of S. Clay Wilson or Spain---even ol' R. Crumb himself ever did represent the pacifist and downright chicken-out aspects of Woodstock Generation).

Yep, the "kind men like" comics, the early satire fanzines, MAD and EC, even KRAZY KAT all pop up in the mix and mooshed all together ya gotta admit that it all made sense like you thought it would. Not bad really...wonder why this got such a bad rap upon release anyway?

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

MOOM PITCHER REVIEW BY BILL SHUTE! THE LOVE-INS (1967) STARRING RICHARD TODD AND THE CHOCOLATE WATCHBAND!


If this film is known at all nowadays, it’s because of the brief appearance of The Chocolate Watchband (they also appeared in another Sam Katzman-produced psych-sploitation film from 1967, RIOT ON SUNSET STRIP, which would make the perfect double-feature partner with THE LOVE-INS), who certainly look and sound great here. I remember seeing this for the first-time in the middle of the night on some local TV station back in perhaps the early 80’s. I may have been coming in late from my job at a restaurant/bar in Stillwater, OK. They had a policy where employees could get two drinks after their shift (can you imagine anyone having a policy like that today!), and I always took a double-scotch with a splash of soda and a twist of lime on the rocks. I’d pound that down at maybe 1:30 or so (we closed at 1 on weeknights) and head home on foot walking through the sleepy college-town neighborhoods where most houses were darkened except for a few insomniacs whose living rooms were lit by the flickering artificial light of TV screens and a few weeknight-partiers from whose houses you could hear a subdued thumping of whatever music they were playing. If there was much cable TV back then, I certainly did not have it, so I relied on the old circular UHF antenna on my B&W portable TV to pull in the low-power UHF stations from Oklahoma City or Tulsa. There was always a bit of drift and snow to the picture, but it was what you could get back then and I was fine with it. I’d rather have quality vintage B-movies and European genre films at 2:30 a.m. with a snowy B&W picture than today’s crap in sparkling HD.

I knew that this film existed and that the Watchband were in it, but that was about it, and I also was not expecting the film. I had no idea what was being shown that night—I just turned on the TV at the time the late late movie came on and hoped for the best.

Sam Katzman’s roots as a producer go back to the early 1930’s (the 1933 John Wayne romantic comedy HIS PRIVATE SECRETARY, once a bargain-bin public domain staple in the early days of VHS, is the earliest Katzman project I can remember seeing), and beginning in the mid-1950s he cashed in on various rock and roll trends with two Bill Haley vehicles, then in the early 60’s two Chubby Checker vehicles, then a Hootenanny film in 1963, then a few Elvis films in the King’s waning days such as Kissin’ Cousins, and then two features cashing in on hippies and protest and psychedelia etc., RIOT ON SUNSET STRIP (released by AIP) and THE LOVE-INS (released by Columbia). We at BTC love him for his great film series such as The East Side Kids, the Bela Lugosi films at Monogram, and the Jungle Jim films with Johnny Weissmuller, as well as the lean crime programmers he made at Columbia in the late 40’s and early 50’s and the oddball serials he made at Columbia from the late 40’s through the end of the serial era (such as the outrageous 1948 Sir Galahad serial with George Reeves!). Someone like Katzman saw the mid-60’s music and culture trends as just another screwy fad that could be cashed in on by getting an exploitatively titled feature film in the theaters as quickly as possible.

When I stumbled across this film in snowy B&W in the Oklahoma of the early 80’s, what I got—no doubt helped by my fuzzed-out doublescotch-seared brain after working two jobs and going to two college classes between them that day—was something that played like a feature-length DRAGNET 1967 drug episode.

The film begins with the publishers of an “underground newspaper” called TOMORROW’S TIMES at what looks to be some kind of old-line private college in some affluent green-shrubbed suburb of Los Angeles, getting suspended from their college as they refuse to stop publishing their paper. These radicals are played by James MacArthur (later of HAWAII FIVE-O fame) and Susan Oliver (who’d worked for Katzman previously in the Hank Williams bio-pic YOUR CHEATIN’ HEART, where George Hamilton played Hank! Ms. Oliver played Hank’s wife Audrey—as Audrey herself is credited with being “technical adviser” on the film (the same credit Col. Parker got on many Elvis films!), one would assume the depiction of Audrey is somewhat sanitized), who look like they just stumbled out of an Up With People rally or a deodorant commercial. Their free-thinking English Lit professor, Dr. Barnett, played by British actor Richard Todd, is up in arms about their being expelled and decides to quit his job at the college in protest. He then becomes a hero to the students at the college and that acclaim seems to go to his head. His next step is to become an Alan Watts-style psychedelic prophet, advocating LSD, open relationships, and the like, and even wearing a white robe as he makes his pronouncements. What’s most interesting about the film—other than the Watchband, of course—is that Todd, a fine British actor who’d once played Robin Hood and who’d been in such prestige films as THE VIRGIN QUEEN with Bette Davis and Otto Preminger’s version of G.B. Shaw’s SAINT JOAN (with a screenplay by Graham Greene!), takes his role totally seriously, as if he’s playing Richard III or Hamlet. He probably read up on Alan Watts and Timothy Leary and maybe attended a Watts lecture as background research for the role (a serious actor like Todd does his research), which gives the film a kind of odd feel----it’s as if you had some classically trained stage actor shoe-horned into a DRAGNET drug episode, and not given the usual flat line-reading directions by Jack Webb, but allowed to SOAR….while everyone else is doing their TV-movie-level hippie portrayals. Susan Oliver had been in PEYTON PLACE earlier, and there is also a kind of soap opera-ish feel to these proceedings.

One scene in the film which will wake up the dozing (who were watching this in the middle of the night on UHF TV as I was) is where the psychedelic guru Dr. Barnett appears on the JOE PYNE TV show. Pyne’s show was not carried in my area when I was growing up, so I only knew him second-hand during his 1960’s reign, but he was an originator of the bullying talk-show host style later popularized by Morton Downey Jr. and most recently by Bill O’Reilly, who would opine on the issues of the day with a pseudo-populist persona. He attempts to rip Dr. Barnett a new one on-air by baiting him with questions about free-love and free drug use, which Barnett gives sincere and thoughtful answers to, in the best tradition of the liberal Unitarian ministers of the 1960’s and 1970’s who sought to “understand” youth sub-cultures.

The Chocolate Watchband are first seen/heard in the film at the 9:30 point where a tour bus is taking gawking small-town tourists through some psychedelic neighborhood (presumably based on Haight-Ashbury) and the tour guide says “and now we take you to an authentic hippie love-in”….and we cut to the Watchband lip-syncing to their classic ARE YOU GONNA BE THERE (AT THE LOVE-IN) (EDITOR'S NOTE---the ultimate PUNK ROCK song if you ask me!). Some of you will know the facts about this better than I, but it seems as though this is a slightly different mix of the song, with Dave Aguilar’s vocal clearer and more up-front (the instruments are lower in the mix), but it would seem to be the same performance. In any event, it sounds GREAT. You see a lot more of Richard Todd’s reaction shots as he walks around the love-in and of the Hollywood-extra “hippies” in the audience than you see of the Watchband, but at least they are there pounding it out and giving SOME authenticity to this strange faux love-in. At around the 30 minute mark, we hear an instrumental version of “No Way Out” being performed during a street party, and then in a club scene at about the 34 minute mark we see/hear them doing an instrumental version of “Are You Gonna Be There,” which sounds hot. It’s satisfying to hear the trippy song while couples are making out with colored strobe lights projected onto them (reminding me of the “petting party” makeout sequences in 30’s drug and social disease exploitation films, but in psychedelic color!), and the psychedelic prophet Todd is wearing his white robe and sitting on what seems like a throne. Now THAT’S entertainment! Soon after that, we are treated to Susan Oliver’s “Alice In Wonderland” LSD freakout sequence, which is a classic as those 60’s kitsch freakout sequences go.

The rest of the film, to my knowledge, has no more Watchband music (please correct me if I’m wrong….I fast-forwarded through a DVD-R of the film to refresh my memory). The second half of the film follows Dr. Barnett’s rise to New Messiah levels of fame and also how his movement falls apart and how hypocrisy permeates everything (no surprise there!), and during the final climactic scene in a stadium where Barnett/Todd is giving a speech to a massive crowd, there is an outrageous melodramatic ending that ties up things VERY quickly.

THE LOVE-INS is not as over-the-top as WILD IN THE STREETS, and I can’t really recommend that you buy a copy, but if it’s on cable TV some time (I taped it off cable a few years back), it’s worth checking out if you enjoy 60’s psych-sploitation films. RIOT ON SUNSET STRIP is more entertaining overall as a film, but at least we’ve got Richard Todd (fresh off of starring in two back-to-back Harry Alan Towers-produced Edgar Wallace adventure films in 63-64, SANDERS and COAST OF SKELETONS, both of which I highly recommend) giving this his best, as if he’s NOT in a Sam Katzman film where serious acting was not priority one….and it’s great to hear the Chocolate Watchband anywhere….let’s hope that some people in the hinterlands who saw the film when it was at their local drive-in noted the name of the band and picked up their Tower LP NO WAY OUT. Then you could say that something truly good came out of this film.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

RETURN OF CASSETTE CAGA!

For a nice change of pace I thought I'd review for youyouYOU some cassettes that have been moiling away in my collection for quite a long period of time. Old stuff, newer stuff, stuff that can also be found in modes either less or more advanced. Just stuff I found in some box blocking the entrance to my room that I decided to spin if only to prove to you what lucky people you are tuning into this blog 'stead of the competition.


Your Mom Too-ENGLAND'S NEWEST HITMAKERS

The eighties "cassette culture" might have given us a whole load of cloistered bedroom brouhahas that didn't really translate well outside of the minds of the inhibited types who recorded 'em, but quite a few were good enough that had they come out on actual vinyl they might have sold a few copies---more than a few even! This one's definitely one of the better of the batch, a tape from that killer outfit "Your Mom Too" which not only featured the once-all over the place rock critic (a term I am using derisively---we weren't exactly friends y'know) Frank Kogan but some gal named Leslie Singer doing the underground trip a whole lot better'n I remember a whole buncha people doin' it back thirtysome years way.

The "Your Mom Too" side sure sounds like it was recorded in an Ashbury St. apartment on a hot humid day with the windows wide open and the sweat sticking to your...you know...whatevers. Most of it sounds like Singer screaming her neo-Lydia Lunch-ish vocals to someone-or-other (prob'ly Kogan) flailing away on an acoustic guitar.  Kogan gets to sing too, but not as much since it's Singer's game, and although I'd normally click this stuff off within the span of a minute or so there seems to be something quite redeeming to it all! It's as if maybe this ain't the art project these kinda people usually make it out to be and still has some connection (no matter how tangential it may be) to that seventies-era straight squonk that sounded so good then burned out so fast.

Flip it over and we now get to hear Singer singing to a blaring electric guitar before Kogan takes over first with a steady live rock 'n roller before going into some rather well-crafter country folk outings, including a halfway decent rendition of the Terry Hartman classic "The Alcohol of Fame". Surprisingly sturdy music for a bunch of boho nohos, and something that I maybe should give a spin more often than the ten or so years it usually takes me to get to this.
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Albert Ayler-MY NAME IS ALBERT AYLER/Steve Lacy and Michael Smith-SIDELINES cassette

In the days before Cee-Dee-Ares Bill sent me wares on cassettes, and surprisingly enough this one still plays after all theses years! The Ayler one's from his early days playing in Sweden where he did a whole buncha standards and the like in his own inimitable much imitated by both the good and the bad style while the Swedes backing him probably were wondering what was going on with this crazy guy! On the Lacy and Smith album, the former pays pretty good homage to Ayler albeit in Lacy's special angular fashion while Smith pounds chords that veer from classical to St. Bernard on the keys. Got cut off at the end tho, so I'll never find out how it ends up.
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Dennis Carleton-RETRO (Green Light, PO Box 19154, Cleveland OH 44119)

Carleton's what I would call a Cleveland power pop rock LIVING LEGEND and although he is pretty much a celebrity with a rap sheet that extends all the way back to the mid-sixties you can bet he has to struggle to make ends meet while lesser talents get their extracurricular drugs and booze free. And so what if he has to toot his own horn because the guy DESERVES TO, and that's just what he did with this nineties-vintage cassette which more or less comes off as a "Greatest Hits" collection for a guy who couldn't get played on the radio if you payola'd the local stations for all the money in the bank.

Side one features Carleton in his sixties and seventies outfits from the Lost Souls and Choir through Moses and the Cleveland Cuties laying down the foundation for the Cleveland Sound and doin' a pretty good job of it. The songs are spry and commercial in that boss sixties way too and considering just how rare the Cuties single "Pregnant Molly"/"Could She Love Me" is (perhaps even rarer than the Don Young Productions one) where else are you going to hear this mid-seventies claim for the Raspberries/Circus market? And who could forget Carleton's re-make of the Milk via Pagans classic "Boy Can I Dance Good" which sounds even more like a sly putdown of seventies decadent rockstar worship than the Pagans take did!

The "B-side" has the newer, perhaps more modern Carleton at the helm and although the sound may be eighties (ie. cheap casiosynthetic at spots) the tunes are still boffo seventies-derived rock. It's as if all of the bad moments and movements of eighties rock (except for casiosynths) never happened what with the pop meter being cranked up to a level that just didn't fit in with them days. And good for him (and us) because this tape is a fine tribute to one of the forgotten men of Cleveland and if this stuff had only gotten out more maybe we wouldn't have had to suffer through Bon Jovi inna first place. Although I frankly doubt it.
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MAXIMUM ROCKNROLL RADIO SHOW 119

Imants Krumins used to send me tapes of this show and as far as presenting an interesting portion of what was happening in punk-unto-punque rock at the time well, it is an interesting "cross-section". Or maybe it's a good cross-section of a cross-section of a cross-section. Lotsa rarities on this particular program, some which are even of interest to me such as a few of the Australian offerings which might be going for beaucoup as we speak. Of course I hadda put up with the stoopid interviews and the annoying announcers whose self-righteousness just oozes from their mouths straight into my speakers but them's the breaks I guess. The price I gotta pay to give a listen to something different!
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Hawklords-25 YEARS ON (Charisma, England)

Basically a newer version of Hawkwind with Robert Calvert as leader, 25 YEARS ON roars on kinda like a more rock 'n roll-y version of QUARK STRANGENESS AND CHARM with a vision meant to fit in with the new breed of "cold wave" that was making itself known at the time. Going beyond the standard Hawkwind formula these 'lords not only swipe from themselves but from a number of electronic-minded mavens of the day thanks to Calvert's uh, more extraterrestrial than thou mind. Coulda used an early Pere Ubu sense of terror and tension but given Calvert's mental stability be glad we got this much!
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Sam Rivers-HUES/SIZZLE cassette tape

This is one that Brad Kohler sent me ages back and it sure comes in handy while the Cee-Dee boom box is acting up. '75's HUES is standard Rivers on a free bared wire groove typical of the Loft Era's post-Ayleristic approach while next year's SIZZLE has an almost commercial swing to it that still sounds pleasing even if you start thinking that Rivers is attempting some GRAMMY-READY MATERIAL when he gets into his flute flights. Kinda makes me nostalgic for the days when the New Thing was such hot gravy that even Anthony Braxton could get a major contract with college nerd kids swooning at his ever bleat just like it was Trad All Over!
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The Turn-Ups-COSMIC DEBRIS (We Say So Records)

These guys were Billy Synth's back-up group who did some things on their lonesome, this 1984 cassette being just one of 'em and it's a doozy. Nothing earth-shaking but still pretty hot early-eighties post-apocalypse (that being seventies underground spasms) rock that owes quite a bit to the rabid sixties of yore yet is still rooted in eighties technologies and rose-tinted rear view mirrors. All originals too which is neat enough considering that bands ought to be ORIGINAL (and in a good way too!). Side two was left blank but the first thirty minutes of this was enough to remind me of a whole lotta eighties talent that got wooshed under the tide of Madonna and that sorry ilk, which is one reason that I am about as nostalgic for those days as I am nostalgic for Castor Oil.
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Patti Smith Group-LA FORUM 9-11-96

That's on one side of the tape, the other has the Musickhaus in Hamburg 8/1/96 show and both of 'em are pretty snat if you ask me! I usually don't go for post RADIO ETHIOPIA Patti that much if at all, but I really liked the ambiance of these recordings...oddly enough, they sorta had a San Francisco ballroom feeling that reminded me of some obscure act that might have played there once before floating off into that Opium Den in the Sky. Old faves and new, and surprisingly exhilarating in spots if you can believe that.
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Pere Ubu-REHEARSAL 9/75

It sure didn't tale long for the first wave of Cleveland underground rock to slip into the second, given that the corpse of Rocket From The Tombs was only a good month-plus old when these Pere Ubu rehearsals were getting into gear. Without the presence of synthesizer the spirit of Rocket shines through on the "Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo" takes and re-takes while "Heart of Darkness" sounds quite rabid in this embryonic form. Given what this musical movement was to sound like in a good five-plus year's time it sure does one good to give these songs a listen to and appreciate 'em for what they once meant to addled suburban slobs with asparagus disease who sure dreamed that one day they would get a glimpse of the outer universe.
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MX-80 LIVE 4/10/92 (Quadruped Productions)

I believe I reviewed a CD-r burn of this a good seven years back. But since this is a "Cassette Caga" and not a "CD-r Burn Caga" why not give it another go to! Amierga's favorite under-the-counterculture hard rock jazz fusion whatever band live in some San Francisco dive in front of an audience of ten cooking as if they were playing the Fillmore with Bill Graham thinking up new cuss words to use as soon as they got off. Nice "feeling" to it all and a fantastic performance of then-old and now just plain older material. I dunno why Bruce Anderson never made it as a professional flash guitarist, but naturally I'm glad he didn't!
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Various Artists-ATTENDANCE REQUIRED (DISTANT PURPLE MAJESTY VOLUME II)

A Jim Clinefelter collection I reviewed in #17 of my rag, featuring tracks mostly well known but not quite scattered about on a 90-minute cassette. Total Cleveland and Akron area oriented complete with various first wave (Electric Eels, Paul Marotta) and afterwards material that chronicles the state of the area from dark insect doom to new wave glitz. Of course we've all heard these tracks before and heard them many a time, but who says we can't hear 'em even MORE now that time is drifting away and like, you ain't gonna be hearing this stuff when you're dead!
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THE HUMAN ARTS ENSEMBLE LIVE IN TRIO SETTINGS VOLS. I AND II  (originally on Circle Records, Germany)

The Circle recordings were whatcha'd call a pretty good documentation of a late-seventies Euro jazz festival, and finding the various albums in the series really ain't as hard a task as you might think. Fortunately I not only have the vinyl versions of these shows but both on a cassette which does make for handy listening. Two three-piece sets (with drummer Charlies Bobo Shaw the only constant), the first featuring whiz saxophonist Luther Thomas and bassist John Lundberg and the second guitarist James Emery and trombonist Joseph Bowie. Intimate approach yet total free splurt in front of a small but appreciative audience. Each set contains a version of "Concere Natashiah", perhaps this loose aggregation's theme song and a doozy of a theme song it most certainly is.