Saturday, August 11, 2018


This 'un shoulda been out March-way but (as usual) it got delayed, waylaid and filleted to the point where I thought I'd just save the blasted thing for one of them busy times in my life where I wasn't able to produce a power-packed weekend post for your enjoyment. Anyhoo, more of those platters, both old and new, that I've had the---pleasure???---of not only listening to but writing up for your own benefit (and karmik awareness) these past six or so months!

Mark Beer-ISOLATIONS EP ("Finks Jinx", "Litany"/"Other Doubts", "Song For a Public Man") (Waste Records, England)

Who knows, you might not have but I've pretty much forgotten about this English underground artist who Greg Shaw once compared to Marc Bolan trying to record a sequel to "Catch the Wind" in an echo chamber, or something along those typical rockscribe reviewing style lines. Beer did a whole number of records that I can keep track of but I believe this was his first, and it's a snapping good one at that what with this under-the-underground kinda guy evoking the English traditional music artist syndrome filtering it through the haze of the late-seventies avant garde coming up with some nice smart pop results that people only seem to hit upon once in a blue moon (I am reminded of Brian Sands for obvious reasons).

Beer has a strange enough voice to make these tracks the unique ear-pleasers that they are, and the songs recall a folk rock that might have been sung either on Deneb 3 or an 18th century public house. Overall results have this 'un coming off like the kind of music that would naturally flow from the creative juices of someone who came of musical age with everyone from Bolan, Syd Barrett and Nick Drake to the Velvet Underground and Eno. A nice (and extremely successful) attempt at the mashing together of various past musical accomplishments, and the fact that Mark Beer is not exactly the name heard from the lips and keyboards of self-proclaimed tastemakers who claim such an allegiance to the history of rock 'n roll only goes to prove something that I don't want to exactly get into right now.
The Star Spangles-"I Can't Be With You", "Get You Back"/"The Party", "Science Fiction-Science Fact" EP (Munster Records, Spain)

These guys were one of the last hoorahs on the last-days-of-CBGB scene right before that tumbled into the musical graveyard, and as you'd expect me to say it's not hard to see why they were getting the huzzahs if only from a small portion of what we know as "rock fandom". The Spangles recall all of those great mid/late-seventies punk rock moments from the Heartbreakers and Marbles to the Ramones with their straight ahead high spirited sound, and although a whole lotta that stuff happening that late seemed like too little too late it was sure great to hear in light of what else there may have been out there vying for our listening time. Dunno what happened to 'em, but they certainly were the last of a breed most of us thought died out at least by '79.
The Rolling Stones-"Stoned"/"I Wanna Be Your Man" (Decca Records, England)

It's legendary not only because the thing got banned for the "a-side" but because of the number of bootlegs (at least Amerigan ones) it showed up on. The early Stones at their best back when they were still wearing matching suits and looking a whole lot more clean-cut than their image let on. As far as "I Wanna Be Your Man" goes...well, considering the love/hate relationship twixt the Beatles and Stones you kinda wonder why the Stones'd cover their main competition inna first place. Maybe it was akin to something along the lines of what was going on between the Jamie Klimek camp and the folk living at the Plaza Apartments, what with the Styrenes hating the latter bunch with a passion yet performing "Final Solution" and sharing many a gig for years on end (not that there was that much of a choice I guess). I never understood these weird associations between various so-called warring camps I'll tell ya.
Luna-"Hollywood"/"Dumb Love" (Titanium Records)

The Orchestra Luna remnants trying to keep on keeping on to ill effect (within a year they ended up stuck on the cover band circuit before it all fell apart). But they did go out with a nice flash as this single would attest to, an effort that had Rick Berlin and company pulling out some of the better aspects of Queen (their more clear pop orientation) along with their worst (the irksome choir) with a tad of Sparks and a heap of Cheap Trick tossed in to sweeten the pot so-to-speak. Hard pop that actually perks ya up in a late-seventies sorta way and not bad one bit once you get the hang of it all.
Paul Thornton-"I'll Be Around"/"Give a Damn" (Fowl Records)

Former Godzman Thornton went the early-seventies relevance route just like everyone else you used to like (or maybe didn't or maybe don't want to admit to!) as most of the tracks of GODZUNTHEIT or PASS ON THIS SIDE will prove. The flip-side of this solo effort is actually the exact same one that appeared on the GODZUNTHEIT effort while "I'll Be Around" falls into the same rocky folk terrain that softened many an already soft head during those bell bottom and headband times. Do I give a damn? Frankly other'n for the neato collectible nature of it all I'd generally say no.
The Downliners Sect-"Colour-Coded Red"/"You Ain't Doin' Me Right" (Inner Mystique Records)

Rough and tumble mid-eighties issue of some previously-unreleased 1980 recordings from this long-lived band that were so hated that there actually was a contest goin' about to see who could swipe Don Craine's deerstalker cap and pee in it. A-side has this hot "Sweet Jane"/"Max's Kansas City" riff and a low-fidelity bounce that reminds me of some forgotten Stiff Records release circa. 1976. The flipster could also pass for one of those pub platters that were so craved by the same people who discovered rhythm and blues after the advent of Graham Parker...people like myself I guess. I hope I don't get into more trouble with this review, but for some strange reason I get the feeling that I will.
Hoy Boy and the Doys-"Two Kinds of Tears"/"Keep on Tryin'" (Knotty Pine Records)

Whenever I see this group's name I am reminded of the final days of Max's Kansas City when bands like Hoy Boy were playing the stage perhaps oblivious to the fact that their particular era of underground rock was coming to a maybe not-so abrupt end. However while other "Max's" acts like the Smithereens and Zantees actually had lifespans lasting well into the eighties I dunno what became of these guys, not that they had anything special goin' for 'em! Actually Hoy and his Doys played a more-than-palatable form of pop rock which had a tinge of early-sixties feel to it yet eschewed any blatant copping of the pre-Beatles form, and for being one of those outta-nowhere acts that almost immediately fell into the memory hole they did a good enough job of it so like, who's complainin'?
Mark Beer-"Pretty"/"Per(version)" (Rough Trade Records, England)

By the time Beer got signed to Rough Trade he (alas) also fell into the slick if still underground-y early-eighties new-unto-gnu wave style that was unfortunately taking shape at that exact same nanosecond. This still has a spry sense of bright pop spark to it, but the reggae bounce and bright outlook seems to point in a direction I wish these acts most certainly didn't go in. Still wondering---whatever did happen to Beer once the years rolled on and the music became way less relevant to our highly-wired suburban decadent pose lifestyles?
The Who-"Anyway Anyhow Anywhere"/"Daddy Rolling Stone" (Brunswick Records, England)

This one is probably etched into your grey matter after eons of spins, but dad blame it if still doesn't sound all hot and exiting a good fiftysome years later which is more than you can say about the whole Journey/Foreigner/REO Speedwagon cadre that supposedly "replaced" this raw and primitive music. Oddly enough, the scratches and nicks resplendent on my copy only add to the overall rage of the thing, which should teach you sound-savvy technotypes a thing or two.
The Doors-"Wild Child", "Touch Me"/"Frederick", "Light My Fire EP (Lizard Records bootleg, France)

Not being a Doors fan by any stretch of the imagination, I wonder why I bought this 'un way back during the mid-eighties or so. Must have had a brief lapse of judgement there, but still I find this platter fine enough if only to present to me a slice of the whole Morrison mystique without making me sick. Good sounding taped off the tee-vee versions of "Wild Child" and "Touch Me" from SMOTHERS BROTHERS, "Light My Fire" from ED SULLIVAN and the ultra rare "Ode to Friedrich Nietzsche" recorded live in Saratoga Springs, New York. That free-form spat does go down well like prime Patti Smith did, and the rest of it ain't that vomit inducing even if my ears keep telling me that "Touch Me" still sounds like rhumba. Insanity must be spreading faster than I first thought.
Lou Reed-"Walk and Talk It"/"Wild Child" (RCA Records)

Before I dig into the first Lou Reed solo album (scorned by many but enticing enough my by standards) I thought I'd give this oldie a spin. The "Walk and Talk It" heard here is supposed to be a more spiced up version than the one that appears on LOU REED, and no matter how you take it you can't deny its overall punkiness and early-seventies snark attitude of it that drove many away from, and naturally many to the "sound". Of course "Wild Child" is a winner that every Reed fan should know by heart and it sure woulda been swell hearing this on the radio back then...I could see it mixing in perfectly with the brief AM renaissance that was displaying itself at the time courtesy a number of spinners that even in retrospect sure sound better than the glitz and snooze that was to befall the realm within a few short years.
John Lee Hooker-IT SERVE YOU RIGHT 7-inch jukebox EP with a strip to prove it! (Impulse Records)

Sometimes I need these blues if only to variate my listening modes, and this one did its job well. Pretty deep and dwelling material from the legendary bluesman who at first shocked me when he did that album with Canned Heat...I mean, could I take an album with the title HOOKER 'N HEAT home with me? I should say NOT! Contains a down blues take of Barrett Strong and everyone else's "Money" that might just make you wanna shred your Flying Lizards records in total regret. (And don't get me wrong---I am reconsidering that one as an outright avant garde hits the radio dial classic!)
Burt Ward-"Boy Wonder I Love You". "Orange Coloured Sky"/Bob Guy-"Dear Jeepers","Letter From Jeepers" EP (US Ltd. bootleg)

I probably reviewed this one onna blog a good decade or so back but a hale (or is that hail?) and hearty so what! to that! On the a-side the infamous Zappa-backed single presents the idea of what would have happened if none other than Robin the Boy Wonder joined the Mothers of Invention, complete with enough campiness to stick this one into every homo record collection of the day right smack dab next to "You Turn Me On". Sheesh, the producers of the tee-vee series weren't exactly trying to hide the whole gay aspect of the true relationship as they say between the Dynamic Duo, and here this song comes along pushing the whole schpiel into territories even Fredric Wertham would fear to tread! Flip's got some local horror host reading cheapo ghoul gags to some early-sixties Studio Z backing that has a good r&b/"Wipeout" vibe. This Guy guy probably was snoozeroo next to the big names like Zacherly, but considering the early Zappa involvement you better give him some slack, willya?
Swell Maps-"Dresden Style"/"Ammunition Train", "Full Moon" EP (Rough Trade Records, England)

Like a good portion of the Rough Trade cadre I've had a love 'n hate relationship with Swell Maps. Now that the pendulum seems to have been stuck on "love" for quite some time lemme say that it's sure good to give these guys a listen considering how their v. early-eighties approach was about as radical yet firmly garage/traditional as some of the better acts making themselves known at the time. Fantastic primitive quality production and all around performance makes this one that sorta stands out regarding everything that was good about the seventies/eighties cusp before it all seemed to get tired and trite (mostly through no fault of its own) seemingly overnight.
Rosie and the Originals-"Angel Baby"/"Give Me Love" (Highland Records)

The a-side remains one of those eternal oldies that remind me of flea market fanablas in the seventies looking for those old hits that just weren't hittin' no more. And anyone who just can't get into the slow trance mood of this number might just be lacking a heart, or more likely be a member of today's cyborg act-on-faulty-instinct action committee, or most likely both. I found the flipster to be the real surprise tho, a gutzier r&b romper that sure didn't deserve its fate being hidden on the other side. Sheesh, I now sound like one of those dipsy doodle gal types I went to school with who PRIDED themselves (and let everyone know it!) on how special they were because they played the other side of  those big hit records which obviously proved their natural superiority over dim bulbs like myself!
The Rockin' Rebels-"Wild Weekend"/"Donkey Twine" (Lost-Nite Records)

Late-fifties/early-sixties instrumental rock remains a faverave music of mine, and this legendary track is whatcha'd call no exception. I believe that "Donkey Twine" on the other side got some action as well which would figure since that one's a ballzy bloozy effort that sure fits in with the deep groove mode of the genre. And like most of the solid instrumental sounds these numbers hold up extremely well which is something I couldn't really say about the likes of "The Boys of Bandstand" (well, I do have a soft spot in my head for Fabian!) and some of the gunk that was getting played not only during those "wimpy" as they say early-sixties, but the reinvigorating mid-sixties which had its share of grown up schmoozeburgers as well.
David Ackles-"...about 'Subway to the Country'"/"Subway to the Country" promo single (Elektra Records)

Radio station promo featuring Ackles on the topside discussing this particular song and how the kids in the city really didn't know what winter was like because by the time the snow hit the ground it was all grey! You're probably gonna write the guy off as a dunce after hearing this side but the actual song is pretty good in a new folk rock singer/songwriter fashion. Only a bit of annoying string glop mars what I thought was an otherwise neat enough if perhaps over-emotional number. Sorta akin to what Harry Chapin woulda come up with if someone sewed his gonads back on and maybe got him an Elliot Murphy album or two. Not bad really, and I'm surprised I said that!
Television Personalities-"I Know Where Syd Barrett Lives"/"Arthur the Gardener" (Rough Trade Records)

I dunno if the entire group is on here, but I assume it to be a Dan Treacy solo effort given how stripped it is. The a-side's a surprisingly interesting cop of some DARK SIDE OF THE MOON/WISH YOU WERE HERE Syd Barrett paen to madness with "Grantchester Meadows"'s insect buzz added for pure homage effect. The other side might be a weird twist on the "Arnold Layne" tale only with Arthur the Gardener being a paedophile, but don't quote me on it. Like a good portion of the Rough Trade stable these guys seemed to get more and more boring once the eighties progressed but I can stand this pixie charm well enough. A glycerin test may be recommended tho...
The Rubinoos-"I Think We're Alone Now"/"As Long As I'm With You" (Beserkley Records)

I know there was nil chance that this Tommy James and the Shondells cover would hit the charts back then, but it does stand as a true testimonial to the poppier aspects of rock 'n roll that fortunately hadn't died out entirely by this time. The flip has a load of Southern Californian feel that of course would have been great to have heard at the time, only songs like "Chevy Van" and "Undercover Angel" seemed to be cornering that particular market with a laid back vengeance. Sure it sounds like piddle when played up against any of your favorite all-out high energy rock groups, so don't play it up against any of 'em and it just might work out fine.
Tragic Mulatto-"The Suspect"/"No Juice" (Alternative Tentacles Records)

Yeah they sound like an "art project", but if I were the teach I woulda given Tragic Mulatto a nice "A". Well, that is more than I would many of those bedroom-level college acts that seem to have been populated by the forbears of those precocious petunia types you see cluttering up the campuses and high schools of Anywhere USA these sad and sorry days. Nerdo adolescent voice screams atop a sax/trumpet/bass guitar/drums backing that kicks out something you might call "neo-funky", but ONCE AGAIN it works! Eighties art music that you kinda get the feeling was being played by balding guys wearing wraparound shades dressed in ultra-modern suits, but in this case I don't think so.
The Poles-"C.N. Tower"/"Prime Time" (Nimbus 9 Records)

Bruce Mowat will probably shudder in fear upon reading that I am even giving this Toronto group the time o' day, but then again ever since he moved to Saskatchewan and joined the Doubhokers I doubt he'll even read this in the first place. Which I guess it best for me because I really do go for this act who, besides getting a good thumbs up from John Cale, managed to mix the better aspects of 1973-76 punk rock with all of the good things that were happening during the torn shirts and bad taste days that immediately followed. "C.N." has a fairly good Velvet Underground oomph riff while the flip sounds particularly contempo---and it's all held together by the rather girly-girl voice of Michelle Jordana who certainly doesn't sound like the world weary femme seen on the cover.
The Moving Sidewalks-A BAND FROM TEXAS! EP (Moxie Records)

This 'un has been made obsolete by subsequent issues but the cheap aspects of it all, from the old car on the cover to the definitely home-pressed aura, draws me closer and closer to it. Perhaps its the memory of seeing this at the old Drome up Cleveland way dangling amidst a whole slew of records that were tasty but way overpriced for my depression-era waged budget is what kicks it in for me. Whatever, a fine collection of two non-LP singles from future Z.Z. Topper Billy Gibbons and his gnarlier than ever band recorded long before he discovered that beards and MTV glitz were the best ways to get into those money-filled teenage pockets.
CHRISTOPHER MILK EP (United Artists Records)

John Mendelsohn might have a good enough rock "critic", but to me he never was part of the upper echelon of scribes like all of those guys (and occasionally gals) I continue to name-drop even this far down the line. However judging from this particular collection clinger I can say that Mendelsohn was a purty good group leader, singer, lyricist and even toon-writer while he was a member of the legendary Christopher Milk. I never did get to hear their Reprise album but this earlier United Artists EP does point the way to a lotta things that would make it big and boffo in the record-buying world within a few short years. Humorous lyrics and bright piano-laden melodies recall what Sparks would be up to once they headed over to Merrie Olde, while even the slower Beach Boys-y ones kinda bring up memories of some of those feh singles that popped up on the charts summer of '76, only done with a lot more backbone and intent. I might dish out for SOME PEOPLE WILL DRINK ANYTHING once I get a few bits of scratch together...I get the feeling it's still going for the same sorta flea market prices that it probably was a good forty or so years back which definitely would be a break for my wallet for once in my life!
Charlie Burton and Rock Therapy-"Rock and Roll Behavior"/"That Boy and My Girl" (Wild Records)

That Burton guy might have been one of the lamer rockcrits to hit the pages of the original ROLLING STONE or any other turn-of-the-decade rockmag extant (even though I do kinda/sorta like his skewered review of FUNHOUSE), but he sure made up for any lacking in the rock writing department with this killer rock group of his. Don't have the other single (yet), but if it is any good as this retro-yet-still-rooted-in-seventies-trash-aesthetics slab it's gotta be a good 'un. Rhythm and blues not to mention rockabilly get the trash garage band update here. A tinge of Kama Sutra-era Flamin' Groovies helps the sound out as well. For those of you who liked that part of late-seventies "DIY" rock that wasn't so self-conscious of what it was "supposed" to do, or mean for that matter.


MoeLarryAndJesus said...

If you really care Mark Beer is still around. He put out a cassette tw years ago and is on bandcamp.

Robert Cook said...

I bought the Christopher Milk album in my senior year of high school. 1972/1973--same year the lp came out--and I have LOVED it for all these 45 years! The album closer, "In Search of R. Crumb," is pure bliss. (Mendelsohn, you may or may not know, was briefly a member of HALF NELSON, (nee SPARKS) before they recorded.)

One thing I have NEVER seen or hoid is this EP, though I have heard OF it and coveted it for years.

BTW, the CM album can be heard on YouTube, and is available on CD.