Saturday, July 07, 2018

"In the good old summertime/Having sex with a dog is a crime/Unless you are another dog/Then everything is fine"...tell me, how many times have you sung that seasonal salute that has thrilled many a' generation with its lilting melody and timeless message! Well, summertime sum-sum-summertime is here and we don't need the Jamies to tell us that what with the beautifully hot weather we've been having here, albeit once again I gotta admit that the warm 'n toasty season doesn't jar me one bit like it mighta done even ten years ago. The only thing it does do is remind me of summertimes past when I was a kid and things like riding bikes and severe weather were the coolest things I got look forward to. Heck, I sure can't wait to hit my second childhood so these things can ONCE AGAIN make that spiritual indentation into my ever-aging brain even if I haven't rode a bike in ages and I still get the scaries when thunderstorm and tornado warnings pop up onna telly! But hey it's nice outside and like how can I not think about things that happened back in them dayze like goin' swimmin' with a suit ripped right in the front or getting knocked off my bike by the big kids and having my leg stitched up (a day or two before Jim Morrison took the bathtub to Hell) or any of those other scenes that made me the total turd that I am and shall remain? Maybe summer wasn't as hotcha as I remembered it to be anyway...  I mean, what's the difference between summer humiliations and winter ones anyway???
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The burnt Cee-Dee of a Von Lmo rehearsal that Weasel Walter promised me last week has finally arrived, and all I gotta say is IF THIS IS A RECORDING OF A MERE REHEARSAL I HATE TO SEE THE EFFECTS OF THIS ON A LIVE AND BREATHING AUDIENCE!!! Yes, as you would guess the new Von Lmo band with Mr. Walter on drums is a total eruption out of time killer, and the tracks from RED RESISTOR that were rehearsed that day (6/26/18 if you do care) were out of this world (I mean, where else?) fantastic. Dunno who is playing sax on this (or saxes as I think I heard a duel goin' on somewhere in there) is incredible and up there with any of our fave sixties/seventies fringe players, while Lmo can still scare a few great strains outta his guitar like we knew he would. And of course the rest of the act, Walter included, was top notch and so over the wall and screaming that I do fear that the men in the white coats don't come after 'em with nets! An amazing achievement (can't wait to hear what they do with FUTURE LANGUAGE) that only has me thinkin' of what Trixie A. Balm said about the Dictators a good fortysome years back..."HEAVY METAL WILL STAND!"
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Before I go on any further I must put my two cents (OK, maybe a lot more) in about the recent passing of legendary comic book artist Steve Ditko. And like sheesh, what else can I say about the Spider-Man co-creator and generally all 'round major name in the Silver Age field that hasn't already been said before, other'n maybe put my own particular spin on his legend and what he meant for an entire generation of Saturday Afternoon Barbershop Kids who were still talking about his Marvel Comics work years after the guy skeedaddled for less greener, but pretty much FREER pastures. Y'know, those places where he could get away with all of those things he couldn't get away with at Marvel because hey...he was Steve Ditko.

By the time I was eleven and buying up all of the comic books that seemed worthy of me buying (mainly Marvel, DC and for humor Archie and the various imitators) the only Ditko I was reading were those boffo Marvel reprints that were popping up in the likes of such classy mags as MONSTERS ON THE PROWL and CREATURES ON THE LOOSE...Marvel's attempt to fool kids like Brad Kohler into thinking that those by-then decade-old stories about the likes of Groom and Ga-Goom were as fresh and as concurrent as the latest X-Men, which come to think of it was creeping along as a reprint title itself at the time. The usually non-monster Ditko stories were as equally appetizing as Jack Kirby's oversized space monsters, usually a bit brainy and TWILIGHT ZONE-ish with that early-sixties feeling that I sure preferred over the Peter Max early-seventies glop that was permeating everything from children's books to television commercials at the time. Let's just say that for a pre-teen who LOVED everything that the years 1958-1963 stood for, I ate these comics up like pastafazool.

Unfortunately the Ditko-era Spider-Man and Dr. Strange (even Hulk!) sagas had been long-gone on the Marvel reprint circuit so little things like the debut Strange story and those little Spider-Man panels in Les Daniels' COMIX sure meant a whole lot to this comics-obsessed turdburger! As did the various flea market finds which even in the early-seventies tended to come up short as far as the rest of those early superhero sagas that I most desperately wanted. And it would figure that as soon as my interest in comics would be replaced by a mad craving for rock music the superhero frenzy would once again rear its cowled head and you just couldn't escape those Ditko reprints no matter how hard you try.

But when I was harboring what some would call an unhealthy obsessive/compulsive hankerin' for comic books Steve Ditko was thee man. In an age where every sinew and muscle on your average hero was drawn in such detail that you could practically smell their armpits given the suggested sweat that must've been pouring outta their overdrive glands Ditko had whatcha'd call a simpler, more casual style that was reflective of the fifties era he came out of. Sure the people seemed to look alike, dress perpetually early-sixties even in his later work and perhaps he couldn't draw wimmen as well as some wonks out there said, but it was a nice, clean and certainly refreshing style that was beyond the more hacked up guys out there yet not quite as fine as the other big names in the comics idiom. (Though some stories were finely detailed, such as the debut Dr. Strange 'un which I do declare ranks as one of Ditko's best efforts.) This "simplicity" certainly did lend itself to Ditko's art (and Stan Lee's stories), which although getting "better" o'er the years still maintained that certain "dated" style that sure endeared me to his various works.

Of course how could anyone discuss Ditko without mentioning his controversial and "personalist" sagas which he did not only for the fanzine and smaller press outlets but the likes of Charlton, who seemed to let him do whatever he wanted no matter how far against the grain of Youth Culture (and the general comics market) it might have been. There were certain outcroppings of the Ditko to be in the later Spider-Man sagas he actually plotted such as the time when a now-college-age Peter Parker came across a gaggle of protester types who want Spidey's usually wishy-washy alter-ego to join in on the festivities with Parker for once showing some 'nads tellin' the whole bunch they're definitely beyond the screwy side of life. Ditko did sneak a good rejoinder to Parker's dismissal of the demonstrators when one of the protest kiddies said something along the lines of "But Pete, if you have something you want to protest WE'D join up with you!" which I thought told a whole lot more of the more altruistic-than-thou crowd than just about anything said about these blokes not only then, but in the here and now. Unfortunately I couldn't get the exact quote jetted your way considering how my comics're boxed up and in storage (yech!) right now, but I'm sure my memory is correct regarding this particular synapse in the Ditko Spider-Man saga and given Ditko's various socio-political opines I wouldn't doubt my usually frizzed-out memory one bit!

True it was those stories in Charlton's BLUE BEETLE where abstract modern art was put down and protesters were made to look so silly in their myopic save the world ways that might have gotten the proto-hippie Gary Trudeau types to turn their back on Ditko with a vengeance. In actuality it was Ditko's fanzine and "underground" works which really might have pushed the bell-bottomed future GREEN LANTERN/GREEN ARROW fans outta their inflatable chairs and onto the hard wooden floor of reality! After all, sagas sprouting various Randian dictums like THE AVENGING WORLD would have turned off more'n just a few mellow types, and as far as a superheroes go Ditko's MR. A wasn't exactly out there saving the universe from pollution or racism. He was more or less saving the world from ITSELF even if I'm sure that many (most?) readers were turned off by the endless barrage of one-page lectures regarding man's rights and the evils of collectivism which some were abhored by, but nobody seemed to do anything about it which pretty much made 'em as BAD as the badskis they claimed to be horrified by in the first place!

Rough, brutish and even downright cruel, Mr. A seemed the logical end point in the long line of suited crimefighters from the Spirit and Midnight on down, updated with a metal mask that encompasses his head and no special powers other than the ability to fight and a half black-half white "business card" of sorts of which the holder of said card more or less knows his "fate". Debuting in Wally Wood's WITZEND, Mr. A. became Ditko's true avenging hero who appeared in a number of multiple-page stories as well as many one-page tracts which were given free to fanzines whose editors were probably aghast at Ditko's message but printed 'em because well...either than or some new crudzine hero drawn by a ten-year-old with the shakes.

True, some of those multi-page Mr, A sagas tended to drag such as the one where three young hoods kidnap a small girl and everyone spouts dialog that merely reinforces Ditko's various philosophical agendas. Even worse was one story where local businessmen hire Mr. A's other self, reporter Rex Grainge, to expose the corruption in their fair town yet have second thoughts when it seems as if these upstanding citizens began getting rooted out by Grainge when things started hitting a li'l too close to home! (That 'un ended with Mr. A himself forcing one of the men to listen to yet another drawn out lecture on A equalling A and other decidedly neo-libertarian ideals, mixed with certain concepts that I believe came from the brain of Ditko and Ditko only.) However, when Ditko was good he was pumping on all cylinders such as in the two stories that appeared in the second issue of Bruce Hershenson's mid-seventies MR. A series, the first dealing with a scammer who is robbing society parties while passing himself off as a suave and sophisticated type spouting various Bakunian banter actually gaining roaring hosannas from his limousine liberal victims, the other featuring two warring mobsters who join up with an anti-Mr. A society in a sad and sorry lesson having to do with appeasement of evil and the follies of overall collectivism.

Or something like that. It sometimes is hard to tell just where Ditko was going at times though I will say that it was fun watching him get there. Call me cruel and inhuman, but I love it when Mr. A. refuses to save a criminal who is hanging from a ledge (this even appeared in the debut MR. A story when a juvenile delinquent murderer, "Angel" is hanging from a rooftop after stabbing his social worker and Mr. A. actually asks the worker if he should get her to a hospital or let her die and save Angel (naturally she cannot make up her mind, true-to-form worldsaver she is). As the kid falls to a splattery death Mr. A finally admits that he wouldn't rescue Angel anyway since he was a killer which I'm sure boggled the worker's head because well, she was so naive about what she thought was right and wrong to the point where it got her a few slices in the gut by someone she thought really wasn't a bad boy at all.

Even in Ditko's Charlton works you could see his philosophy driven in and but good! One of his late-sixties horror stories (reprinted in one of the 90's era Robin Snyder titles I've had the pleasure of obtaining at the time) gives it good to the anti-progressive luddite types by featuring a world where medical knowledge is primitive and children die from maladies we now consider trivial. In the issue-length THE QUESTION, Ditko's Comics Code-friendly version of Mr. A discovers that a soda pop magnate is in cahoots with a local gangster, and when the thought-to-be spotless soft drink manufacturer steps in to sponsor the Question's secret identity Vic Sage's television program (after a previous sponsor dropped out due to Sage's controversial nature) Sage flat out refuses resulting in a whirlwind of heat and pressure that fortunately do not end with the Question barraging the neer do well with a heavy-handed lecture making him see the error of his ways. Sheesh, one of these days I'm gonna hafta dig out that comic and read the thing again...it was that powerful as a statement of where comics SHOULD have been in the light of late-sixties social conscious 'stead of some of the instantly-dated drek that did appear.

Even better was Killjoy, this guy who operated in a skin-tight suit that clung to his entire body just like the Golden Age Daredevil's only with a smiling "comedy" mask attached to the head, who appears just at the nick of time when some evildoers such as "Robber Hood " ("Property is theft!") appear. Killjoy's real nemeses aren't necessarily the weird villains but these ACLU-esque types who cry buckets when the evildoers are captured spouting those sociopolitical diatribes we've heard for decades and squeal with pleasure when a criminal does escape from Killjoy! Dunno (or care) what you think, but I sure find this a relief from all those moralistic sixties/seventies dramas where the JD is really the good guy and of course "SOCIETY" is to blame. I mean, society is to blame but not in the way most think it is!

Perhaps not-so-oddly enough, the few Ditko obits I have read neglected to mention any of his personalist work, preferring to concentrate on his Marvel era achievements and skipping over everything else he did ever-so-carefully. I'm positive that Ditko would have loathed that considering all of not only the creative but the philosophical effort he put into his post-Marvel work. I do get the feeling (somehow) that Ditko was prouder of Mr. A. or the Question than he was of co-creating Spider-Man and maybe I can't blame the professional obit writers out there to tell us everything within the span of a few inches even if it was more likely they were just trying to spin Ditko in a positive way because...well, you just can't say anything GOOD about libertarians or rightist of any stripes in mainstream journalism these days!

But hey, what else should any of us expect. After all, the world Ditko came out of and what he represented of it sure ain't the same world that's around these days I'll tell ya. In fact comic books ain't even the same as they were back in Ditko's heyday, reflecting an existence that would have seemed totally alien to me had I somehow picked up a current issue of even SUPERMAN back when I was eleven. Really, could you see your standard old time freckle-faced fanabla relating to anything passing for slam bang entertainment in the here and now? Not me, bub. And judging from the 2016 presidential campaign even libertarianism ain't what it used to be. Somehow I'll just chalk up the death of Ditko in the same way I chalked up a whole variety of deaths, both physical and spiritual, as part of that passing parade known as life that I could never get to join in on no matter how hard I can bang on that ol' bass drum o' mine!
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Got some nice doozies to tell you about this time. Nothing earth-shattering mind you, but then again how many times have we heard a platter recently that measures up to the big guns in the overdrive world of rock 'n roll? But I think this bunch is pretty good as far as bunches go, and who are YOU to complain?


X-Blank-X-"Not Now No Way"/"Karma Bank" 33 rpm single (My Minds Eye Records)

What better way to pay tribute to late Pagan Mike Hudson by not only covering his classic Drome single but mimicking the original cover design while yer at it! The revived X-Blank-X does the Cleveland underground legend pretty swell on all counts on the a-side, while on the flip John Regular and company do the Amoeba Raft Boy trip with "Sonic Reducer" thrown into the mix for good measure! Sounds so good I sure wish there was a Drome Records still around where I could not only buy this but all those other records I've missed the first time around. As an added bonus the innersleeve's got Regular's reminiscences of not only the late Mike Hudson but Peter Laughner and is naturally worth the price of admission!
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Paul Flaherty and Chris Corsano-THE HATED MUSIC 2-LP set (Feeding Tube Records, available via Forced Exposure)

Flaherty and Corsano might not play as hotcha as Ayler or Murray and the whole sax/drums duo thing has been done better on such must-haves as INTERSTELLAR SPACE and a variety of Frank Lowe albums, but ya gotta admit that the pair has spunk. And unlike Lou Grant I can sure dig spunk when it's spunked up right as it is on this new Feeding Tube edition of THE HATED MUSIC. On it the pair working for and against each other on two whole platters of this long-poo-poo'd "Nova Music" that does affect you in certain ways all of those jazzbos who think about flamingos while playing never could. Don't let the cover by Gary "Whatever Happened to Him???" Panter lead you into thinking this is some v. late-seventies Zappathon...this is The New Thing which remains The New Thing despite the best salvos ever to hit the once-wild world of jazz.
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Wolf Eyes-NO ANSWER-LOWER FLOORS CD (De Stijl Records)

Well, I found it rather nicey-nice if I so say so myself. Electronic whirls at times reminded me of Dr. Mix doing one of their revisions on some old Seeds song while at others it sounds like some long-tossed away Smegma track that'll probably get released long after we're all dead and buried. What else could I say about a recording by this under-the-underground act that's been grabbing my attention for quite some time and should have gotten you all hot and bothered ages back only you were too busy thinking up evil things to say about me to give a hoot!
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Guru Guru Groove-THE BIRTH OF KRAUTROCK 1969 CD (Purple Pyramid Records)

Yeah it's sure nice that these early excursions have finally made their way out into the open, but does that mean I have to drool all over 'em? The LSD-inspired free form freakouts start off sounding as "LA Blues" intensity driven as all get out but after awhile tend to sound too self-absorbed and bore more than they do stimulate. The cymbal/guitar duet was a tad interesting as was Mani Neumaier's driven drum solo, but they still come off as mere historical artyfacts instead of something I'd wanna listen to constantly for the next umpteen years. The closing live version of "Space Ship" is a winner though I think its the same one that's popped up on previous exhumations so wha' th' hey...
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Wilko Johnson-BLOW YOUR MIND CD-r burn (originally on Chess Records)

I for one am thankful that the deadly health condition that should have taken Johnson years back has yet to claim him, and I am also glad that the man has stuck around long enough to record this boss album for none other than the classic Chess records label! This is the kinda stuff I like, lowdown and unclean blues cum rock that still has the same sorta fly specs and low budget studio sound that made these mid-fifties records so engaging to the likes of Bill Shute in the first place. Oddly enough, this reminded me a whole lot of some of those whitey blues acts that used to pop up on Stiff Records, no surprise considering just how much Johnson and the Feelgood guys had a hand in starting that whole rough and tumble genre. I'll be playing this one again very soon, and if you still hold the likes of not only Sean Tyla and Little Bob Story but their inspirations close to your boobies you just might have a hankerin' for this one too!
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Various Artists-TOWER RECORDS 45's VOLUME ONE CD-r burn

It's pretty innerestin' to hear which acts were on the infamous Tower Records label other'n the Standells, Chocolate Watchband and Pink Floyd, and this first in the series of Cee Dees (dunno if these have been released legit-like or not) is a pretty good indication that the folks at Tower were pretty snat in their choices of what kinda artists they signed up. True I couldn't see anything here hitting the charts like the Standells did, but the vast selection of gal groups, r&b, hot rod and garage band music does make for a good sampling of everything that was hot about mid-sixties teenage radio (and living) in general. Highlights include an early side by Henry Nilsson, a Joe Meek-produced Heinz Burt single, a rare Davie Allan and the Arrows side and Lon Chaney Jr. trying to get in on the Bobby "Boris" Pickett groove with a holiday-themes monster ditty that was pretty good even if you knew it wasn't gonna go anywhere.
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Plan 9-WERS-FM SEPT. 12 1982 BROADCAST CD-r burn

The six-oh (I dunt care what you think, I still like that Michael  Koeing-derived term!) "revival" was getting into gear when the boffo Plan 9 recorded this live-in-the-studio pledge drive show, and thank goodness for that because this one even tops their early Voxx mini-LP for pure addled enjoyment! There's not a bit of put on camp to be seen here, and the performances have all that energy and grit that you liked in your garage band collection, all done up WITHOUT the slickness and downright tame attitude that metastasized into many a late-eighties indie band single. Some originals even manage to peak their way through the barrage of covers, one which includes that "other" older guy in the band with the beard who played the tambourine singing a rather passionate rendition of the MC5 classic "Looking At You".
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Various Artists-TYMES GO BY CD-r burn (compiled by Xara)

Dunno who this "Xara" is, but it compiled a neato collection of mid-sixties garage band kinda thingies that fans of the form have been putting together for years on end. There's nothing here that approaches the fiery intensity of a NUGGETS or PEBBLES, but the minor key tales of woe that appear here (no track listing, unfortunately) should remind you that even those lucky kids who you thought had it all because they could afford electric guitars and even play 'em had it pretty bad themselves. There are even a few surprisingly well-produced efforts that show a tad bitta sophistication and if you're interested in this brand of angst well, go to it!
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The Challengers-HOT ROD ALBUM CD-r burn (originally on Sundazed Records)

I always thought  of the Challengers as being more of a cleaner-edged professional bunch who, unlike the Surfaris or Pyramids, didn't have that trashy rock 'n roll aesthetic that settles well with my bones. Turns out that HOT ROD ALBUM doesn't change my opines re. this any, but it's still what I would call a pretty snat plat. The cover versions of familiar faves, as usual, don't really cut it but they still tingle more than many of the tossaways one comes across, while the originals manage to keep up with the surf big names as far as encapsulating just about everything that was right about mid-sixties Amerigan teendom. Like I said, when I was a kid I thought ALL THIS was gonna be waiting for me but as usual fate took a turn into some neighborhood that I wouldn't want to go into after dark.
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Ruff 'n Reddy-ADVENTURES IN SPACE CD-r burn (originally on Colpix Records)

Even at the age of nine (when these by-then decade-old cartoons hit the cathodes around here) I could tell that RUFF 'N REDDY was a better tee-vee deal especially when compared to the newer doodle that was being aimed at us suburban slob ranch house kiddies. And true, by that time much of the magic of what used to pass for kids tee-vee was long gone, but at least the fifties-laden syndication circuit kept many of us from going nuts over the latest outrage that was meant to educate and better us rather'n give us brats a good time. So yeah, I still do have a whole lotta kiddo good feelings about this dog 'n cat team even if their cartoons don't quite hold up the way that HUCKLEBERRY HOUND and YOGI BEAR do, and that even includes this particular storytime platter which is but a mere rehash of an adventure that appeared in serial form way back when. How could I tell? The "Vanilla Sarsaparilla" gag (which first made me aware of that root beer-like soda treat), that's how!
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The Savages-LIVE N' WILD CD-r burn (originally on Duane Records)

Back when there were such things such as teenagers they used to have teen clubs for them to hang out at. And when they did have teen clubs to hang out at there were also teenage groups to entertain 'em! This Bermuda bunch must have worked all the clubs of that isle thrilling all of the millionaire kids who were out having fun, and this live album shows that they were a laid back, primitive yet powerful enough group to satisfy the likes of the standard sons and daughters of Standard Oil with more bucks to burn in one night than any of us'll see in a lifetime. Covers and originals intermingle on this rather tinny sounding item, all ending in a studio version of "Roses Are Red" which just hadda've been a beat band sneer in the faces of all those boy singers who were hot fanabla only a few years earlier!
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Various Artists-I'D RATHER BE IN DAYTON WITH MY BACK BROKE CD-r burn (Bill Shute)

A shortie but a goodie from Bill, who (other'n the inclusion of two scratchy 78s of eastern euro origin) stuffed this one with nada but old radio commercials, sound clips and other long-forgotten whatnot. I mean, when was the last time you heard that generic opening to the Hanna-Barbara cartoons anyway? Nice ads including a Mello Yello one from Jim Varney, local restaurants and even some weird contest thing with Gary Owen doing the V.O. The children's chorus doing the classic "Peter Cottontail" number really did bring back those good ol' memories, because when I was a kid I used to sing this..."Here comes Peter Cottonmouth/Slithering down the bunny trail/Hippity-hoppity dinner's on it's way..." Naturally my aunt thought it was beyond the pale, but then again she never did hear my version of "In the Good Old Summertime"!
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You still need a hint to go get some of those missing copies of BLACK TO COMM to fill up your collection? Well here it is, oh observant one!

2 comments:

diskojoe said...

That Savages Live 'n Wild album was reissued in CD. A friend of mine got me a copy after a Bermuda cruise which was a pleasant surprise since he usually got me steel band CDs.

Condolences on Steve Ditko's passing. A Mr. A movie would be a super hero movie worth watching.

MoeLarryAndJesus said...

Steve Ditko was the Bobby Fischer of comics. And they both sparked up portions of my young mind no one else did.

RIP to them both.