Saturday, September 01, 2018

I used to feel sorry for all of them kids who were goin' back to school around this time of year (remember when Labor Day was that last gasp of fresh summer vacation air?), but not anymore. These days I can't give a friggin' hoot about children (or as they are now known, "pre-adults") given that most of 'em are nothing but criminals and troublemakers in waiting and like, these bastards (literally and figuratively) are way way WORSE in the cutthroat department next to how bad they were when """""I""""" was growing up! At least I have something to look forward to once the weather gets colder and the days shorter and that's LESS KIDS TO ENCOUNTER, and given how much I've drifted into elderly age and far away from my own youthful Aspergers-ish behavior all I can say is that the fewer brats I come in contact with the BETTER!

Still September does bring back a few good ol' memories of growin' up, like the new Tee-Vee Season (not necessarily for the new programs but for the old timey reruns!), the new line of automobiles and seein' just how much the gals' boobies have grown since last June! But otherwise feh!...Jerry Lewis ain't even around anymore to sorta signal that transformation from fun summertime blitz to chilly autumn leaf raking and storm window replacement, and if you think I still have the same joys and hopes I had back when I would appreciate any season for what it would give us well...maybe I still do have an inkling...
Just this Wednesday AM I heard the news via "l nimoy" about the passing of none other than Brian Sands, ne. Brian Kinchy who amongst many other fan-oriented endeavors (such as leading the International David Bowie Society long before Bowie became a twinkling in the eye of many a confused gender benders) fronted the Cleveland under-the-counterculture acts Moses, Milk, Brian and the Juniors and ultimately Brian Sands and the Confusions. Groups that you probably heard about in passing or perhaps even seen live for that matter, and a man who you too probably have admired from afar but in reality probably meant little if nil to you. But to me Brian meant, and still means, a whole lot as far as being a TRUE figure in what innovative and entertaining rock 'n roll music is supposed to be (mainly a sound that makes you wanna snarl, maim and kill but also relax and kick up your feet) and as far as delivering on any promise went, Brian did in and like did it over and over and over (and over...).

Dunno about you, but I always found Brian a class act in all respects. Sure some of his musical tastes didn't quite mesh with mine but so what! I mean, he was an "eccentric", and sure as shit smells the guy wasn't like some blowhardy Chuck Eddy type steamrollering all over you with his own pithy opines not letting you get a word in edgewise in that eternal quest to make you feel inferior to his own pat blab. I was a frequent Sands phone-pest ca. 1980-1982 and although I'm sure the man woulda preferred to slam the receiver down right on my ear a few times he was always nice and cordial to me, perhaps somehow aware of my screwloose nature in advance yet always willing to tell me about his various musical encounters and the famous people he rubbed shoulders with. And boy did he meet up with 'em, everyone from Zappa and Kim Fowley (I wonder if Sands had the proper amount of moolah to pay Fowley in order for the guy to make him a star) to Vivian Stanshall (his English encounters fully documented in CLE #3-A), Marc Bolan, Tiny Tim, Captain Beefheart and Alice Cooper amongst 'em. Some nice shoulder rubbin' goin' on there for sure, eh?

Sands' tastes were more mid/late-sixties to my mid-sixties/late-sixties/seventies, but like most astute musical types he had his ear to the more flippant acts to have popped up in the meanwhile. He liked T. Rex but was more enamored with the boppin' psychedelic duo Tyrannosaurus Rex that seemed eons away (well, I do exaggerate)  from the megahit girl bedroom poster'd act of later on. As for Sparks well, he went for 'em in quite a big way---he even posted a tee-vee appearance of the NUMBER ONE IN HEAVEN era electronic version of the group that nobody (other'n he and me!) seemed to care for on fecebook once, but his heart was with the original Halfnelson bunch who were wallowing in cutout and used bins for ages on end. If I were a wholly unique human being type I'd call Sands a "child of the sixties" but in a good way---sorta like in that same "sixties" mode when the boys watched top notch boob tube television and emulated Jagger more than McCartney while gals spun records and chit-chatted about boys emulating Jagger more than McCartney in their bedrooms. Y'know, the good and HEALTHY sixties 'stead of the fringe jackets and ROLLING STONE-bred radical "sicks-sties" as Ron Weiser would have put it which continues to stench this far down the line no matter how much punkitude we tried to inject into our midst.

Of course Brian's bands are what really got my obsessive-compulsiveness interested in the guy a juicin'. Starting off with Moses, Cleveland's first all-original rock 'n roll band (well, that would eventually change), Brian brought home-grown shock rock to Cleveland audiences with his whacked out visions which might have been a little too much for the high school kids who were in attendance in various gyms across the area but I get the impression a few were taking note. Stories abound of the gig they did with a high school choir in their robes doing "Great Balls of Fire" after a recording of an atom bomb explosion, or when they would reflect light into the audience via mirrors during "Instant Karma" ("we all shine on"...get it?).

Recorded evidence does survive including an acetate that was shipped off to various labels (including Bizarre/Straight at Alice Cooper's suggestion) to nil response. These recorded results are harder that I would have expected for the time tho with a heavy early-seventies attitude but still metallic enough Cle pop (avant Raspberries meets early Grand Funk?) enough for my senses. Must hear----show stopper "Shock Treatment" complete with a wild and careening theremin solo courtesy Sands.

According to Mike Weldon in his Sands article which appeared in CLE #3, by 1971 bassist Dennis Carleton was out (see latest UGLY THINGS for more info on yet another Cleveland legend even if I haven't!) and Jack Springer (he had the Move/ELO Fan Club and BRUM BOYS fanzine) was in becoming Mouse in the process. By '73 a new act with original Moses men Sands, Carleton and drummer Dave Alexy along with monster guitarist Al Globekar coalesced in Milk, a glam-slam act that was once described to me as Sands' attempt at trying to do for Cleveland what the New York Dolls did for New York. Even to the point where Sands would hang out in working class bars complete with makeup and dangling purse in order to get the STATEMENT out and get threatened by blue collar types in the process. The Milk/Cle Dolls/NYC comparison might be a fairly accurate portrayal of their approach to taking on the local scene at least judging by what relatively little we have to go by, and hopefully as time rolls on we'll certainly know a whole lot more.

Wild freakout garb left over from Moses merged with crazed covers (the Stones' "2000 Man", "Child of the Moon" and "Memo From Turner"!) and a take of "Jump Into The Fire" I'd sure like to lay my ears on. There were plenty of weird originals too like "Eat Hot Dog Now Get Sick Later" (aka "Eat and Run") and "Boy Can I Dance Good", later a staple of the Pagans' repertoire (more on that two paragraphs from now). Milk were definitely part of the Cleveland "first wave" of underground acts that made quite a few rock-starved denizens of the area believing there still was life in rock music after all, even if they rarely did get a mention in Jane Scott's PLAIN DEALER column that is. (Although a rare snap of them [with commentary from Carleton] popped up in her pages a good five years after the fact!)

Like Moses they had a bizzarroid stage show, complete with WW II-era ARMY LAFFS styled gags during the slow moments and wild antics like when the band members would switch instruments even if they had little knowledge of the foreign gear they were playing!

Fortunately, Milk were able to secure quite a few shows not only locally but across the tri-state area including nearby Transfer PA where they shared a gig with Blue Ash at the long-gone Bug Out. Good management even got Milk jobs as far away as Pittsburgh which is more than could be said of many the local bar acts who might have been hot locally but flopped like fish outside their realm. The weirdest Milk in a live environ saga just might have been the oft-repeated one about how these guy played an outdoor rock festival in front of a biker gang more intent to hearing headliners Canned Heat, with Sands retorting to the irate crowd (who were throwing beer cans at the stage during the THE KING AND I medley) that they were nothing but a bunch of spoiled brats! Thankfully no Altamont occurred but if one only had boy, would Milk had been rolling in the notoriety over that!

Milk's Friday night string of shows at the Willoughby Ohio YMCA might be infamous not only for their ability at getting steady work but for the fact that these shows helped give birth to another Cleveland legend. The Hudson Brothers, mainly Mike and Brian and their own group the Mad Staggers were out and about at these shows, perhaps due to the fact that the Hudson family were on speaking terms with the Carletons. Well anyhoo, it seems that when Milk was taking their break at these gigs the Staggers were given permission to use their equipment to perform a set of their own and night Brian took some extracurricular medication which caused him to pass out causing some minor damage and Milk losing their running gig because of the their supporting act's mishap! The Staggers didn't do well from the negative publicity either, ultimately changing their name to Venus in Furs before evolving into the Pawns and then ultimately the Pagans we've all known and love ever since.

Recordings left behind are out there. I acquired a zilcho-quality one of Milk at one of the Willoughby shows doing "Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat" (complete with Sands affecting a nasal Dylan vocal to make Mouse and the Traps proud) as well as the infamous Tiny Tim medley of "Down Virginia Way"/"Bring Back Those Rock-A-Bye Baby Days" which as I once wrote really did Mr. Khaury's originals swell (search on-line and you-too might see the snap of a mop-topped Sands with Tim taken circa. 1968 on a day when the kid got special permission to leave school to meet with one of his ideels!). A studio recording also exists with bassist Carleton singing the aforementioned KING AND I "Getting to Know You"/"Whistle a Happy Tune" medley while Sands mimed to it, as he did live, in the studio! Also on the recording was "Alice", a strikingly Move-ish number (vaguely "Cherry Blossom Clinic"-ish) with Carleton once again singing lead though with Sands clearly on rhythm and backing vocals. If you wanna hear the Tiny Tim tracks and "Alice" bad enough they did appear on the now long out of print twenty-second issue of my crudzine which still has enough leftover disques for me to give away to ya  FREE. Catch is, you order some back issues so's that I can slip a copy in. See details below, as I always say. (They're also on a Dennis Carleton Cee Dee which is long OP---CD Baby might have downloads handily available.)

Are these Brian and the Juniors?
Not too sure about Brian's planned solo effort "Brian Bulldog" which actually was a one-man band attempt to perform with pre-recorded backing tapes,  but his '78 group Brian and the Juniors did rate a mention or two in CLE magazine. Those are probably the only mentions this act ever did get considering the band only lasted one appearance at the Pirate's Cove opening for Pere Ubu and from reports (Brian's own as well as Carleton who saw the gig) the results weren't exactly as good as those concerned would have hoped. The Juniors (two of 'em only fifteen if not younger!) played to a slide show of Salvador Dali paintings not quite meshing in effect, and although I have never heard this particular Sandsian act I still do get the feeling that, if they had developed, they would have become something that might have made Cleveland stand up and holler. Or maybe not considering just what a devoid of energy and excitement the non-Cle underground musical scene had become by this time but yaknowaddamean...

According to the "CLE Guide to the Groovy Groups" in the same issue which featured Weldon's Milk history Brian was to concentrate on film making in the wake of the Juniors demise...dunno the results of any of those filmatic excursions but by 1979 Brian had returned to music, this time with a 12-incl EP or 45 rpm album or something along those lines entitled REHEATED CHOCOLATE TANGOES. Released on his own Bizart label (also home to a variety of early-eighties wonders such as the Foreign Bodies, Monte Carmont, former Milk lead guitarist Alan "Snake" Globekar's solo album and drummer Wayne Weston's take on Sandy Nelson), the package was exquisite for being a "home made" product what with the variety of colored vinyl pressings not to mention the great collage of various movie/surrealist iconography on the reverse sleeve. The music wasn't any slouch either what with the squooshing of various sixties accomplishments into about twenty-plus minutes of that record you wish coulda come out in 1969 but hadda wait a whole decade to hear. And I still think Sands' version of "Baby You're a Rich Man" tops the Beatles' any day of the week! Of course it remains a fave despite the fact that local rock critic Anastasia Pantsios was only moved to call it "a weird juxtaposition of sounds" which only says more about her lack of musical conception and digestion that anything!

TANGOES also marked the return of Sands to the stage with his group the Confusions which also featured former Milk lead guitarist Globekar who at the time had been doing double duty with Milk's Alexy in the local power pop group the Andy Gerome Band. Fortunately there seemed to be somewhat of a bigger audience for Sands' musical abilities during the dawn of the eighties; not only was he part of the cadre of local talent that opened for Pere Ubu when they were back in town recording NEW PICNIC TIME (two nights at the Real World which also featured as opening acts a variety of the first wave survivors, some of whom had a hatred for the entire Plaza scene but what choice did they have anyway?) but a series of gigs at a certain local dive whose name escapes me which even earned a glowing review in THE SCENE of all places. Again the AV portion of the program was important, this time with Sands showing off his home-made kinescopes of old HOWDY DOODY and cigarette commercial broadcasts made when the guy was but a mere twelve or so years old!

1980's FIXATION was yet another above par affair, this time a full-length album also on colored wax and featuring a cover that might have been just too provocative for its audience. This 'un (received GRATIS straight from Sands himself!) was found in the mailbox about ten minutes to twelve on December 8th 1980 (it was lightly snowing if you must know) and although it didn't quite zone me upon first play I gotta admit that it did feature a good influx not only of Beefheart (though for that you should listen to TANGOES closer "Shoeater", a [Beef]heart-filled tribute to TROUT MASK REPLICA if I ever heard one!) but some of Bowie during his MAN WHO SOLD THE WORLD best (check out LP opener "Dialogue in Limbo"). Not quite as Velvet-y as that platter could be (in fact, Sands told me he really did NOT like Lou Reed, which I guess would somehow figure given the friction between Reed and Sands fave Bowie) but it grows, especially that one track which reminds me of the theme to THE ODD COUPLE.

Unfortunately the early-eighties marked the demise of the entire Sands/Bizart line. Perhaps it was the musical miasma of the day what with new forms replacing the older ones with less energy and stamina, but Sands once again faded back into obscurity. You can read more about the lost period in my Sands article which appeared in issue #16 of my aforementioned crudzine, but things were pretty downhill what with his vocalizing on a single by some group called "Part IV" which I was told, by Sands himself, was not really his type of music and that I would hate it immensely. Later on he and Globekar were talking about forming some "New Country"-styled act (!) and rumors of his eventual resurgence have usually been met with crushing results. Then there was Sands' production of local act the Offbeats which, judging from a group interview which appeared in some self-produced rag, wasn't exactly smooth sailing between both parties. I am very tempted to drag that rec out again for a future "Singles Going Stroonad", so keep posted.

We were friends on fecebook before I dumped those Big Brother types, and true to form he was still about rah-rahing his Beatles faves as well as the usual late-sixties suspects, some of them who were actually up my own expansive alley. His tastes in post-seventies music seemed to be as off-target as the rest of my seventies heroes who have managed to survive into the bleak days (he liked...Prince???) but then again he wasn't being so obnoxiously cool about those updated and modern tastes like CREEM and too many seventies types who managed to crawl into the eighties were. But why quibble? Sands was a great guy, made some amazingly fantastic recordings and best of all treated me with a whole load of respect and fellow fan camaraderie that I just couldn't get from most of you snobbish toffee-nosed twits out there in above-it-all land. Rest in peace, sport!

Boy, that obit was originally supposed to last a paragraph or two but it sure growed like Topsy! Anyway, I got some niceties to share my opinions wit'cha this week...thanks to Bill Shute, Paul McGarry, Bob Forward and Feeding Tube for the donations.

Lori McNamara-KNOBBY KNOLL LP (Feeding Tube Records, available via Forced Exposure)

That Eggs Eggs gal is back on her lonesome and does a fair job in the singer/songwriter gone clanky department. Kinda loose, but McNamara and her associates are swell enough cranking out cantatas that sorta remind me of the Association doin' creaky demos while under the brain-damaged influence of Daniel Johnston. Well, you try whippin' up your OWN hotcha gotcha comparisons if ya think yer that hot! Still, a good way to creep yourself out even more what with the weird found sound inclusions and general nutziness (but a sane nutziness ifyaknowadamean) that McNamara's band cranks out here.
Lou Reed-ULTRASONIC - THE NEW YORK BROADCAST 1972 CD (FM Concert Broadcasts Records Ltd.)

Yup, this is the same live FM tape that was goin' around on the tape trading lists for years, and despite what you might think this is a good 'un. Contrary to popular opinion (or at least Nick Kent), the Tots really suit Lou fine giving his work a punk punch that was so desperately needed. I wonder if they left us any recording done on their lonesome but I doubt it. The material here also outshines those other live Lou efforts which (even ROCK 'N ROLL ANIMAL!) didn't sound quite right what with the keyboards drowning everything out. And the performance---well it's probably gonna be the ONLY place yer gonna hear "Walk on the Wild Side" the way the Velvets probably played it (and I hear they did!). Better'n anything else Lou did during those rather wasted times...'cept for METAL MACHINE MUSIC that is!
The Lime Spiders-NINE MILES HIGH 1983-1990 CD-r burn (originally on Raven Records, Australia)

Yeh, the eighties Australian under-the-counterculture scene. Our last hope for a high energy renaissance in rock, but as you would expect a total dud thanks to the prevalence of video worshipping FM-bred duds who would never take the attitude of a Don Waller over that of a Chuck Eddy (sorry to mention him twice in one post...the odds are usually against it). Some of the groups that blurted outta the area were pretty true to the Detroit aesthetic from which they suckled while others... Well, these Spiders were more of a sixties revival act in the Greg Shaw/Cavern Club vein and, like many of those acts, they didn't quite convey the entire fun essence of the times the way we sure wished they could've. But the Spiders tried and yes, some of this is worthy enough "six-oh" scree that sounds pretty good even here in the twilight of our existences. But ask me to sit through the entire hour-plus rampage of tracks featuring eighties re-dos of a varying nature and I'll tell you to sit on the nearest sno cone you can find!

Again I can't make high near sense outta whether Dire Wolves is an act or title or if Miaux ABOVE THE HIGH RAYS is the track or the actual name of the release or whatever. So I'll tell ya what ya get here...first two numbers are good blooze-y rock jamz with such a deep groove you can really sink into the thing while reading your NANCY paperbacks. The violin makes the two extended workouts sound almost like the old Bobby Beausoliel/David LaFlamme Orkustra and it does have that tad of early San Francisco intensity to it. The final "Miaux" thing more or less reminds me of some mid-seventies obscure continental European prog-schlock release that I wouldn't really care to hear more of even if you might be willing to pay up to four digits for a copy.
Teddy Randazzo with the Dazzlers-TEDDY RANDAZZO TWISTS! CD-r burn (originally on ABC-Paramount Records)

For being one of those early-sixties wopadago teen idol types, this record really does rock! I mean it, even though Randazzo's voice is particularly thin and any 1961 Northwest combo coulda done this material a whole lot better. But still, this effort does produce some rock 'n roll magic with the energetic playing of the Dazzlers beefing the already up-tempo tracks way up as well as Randazzo doing his best to sound every bit as hard as those late-fifties trailblazers. He falls far short of his goal but I can't hate him for it. For being but a mere twist record this does deliver on lots more than what I would have expected and yeah, I can see just how Randazzo produced the Third Bardo of "Five Years Ahead of My Time" fame a whole lot clearer now.
Barrence Whitfield and the Savages-SOUL FLOWERS OF TITAN CD-r burn (originally on Bloodshot Records)

Wow, another top notch surprise from Whitfield and the Savages, one that'll keep you dancing until your feel fall off or you get arch cramps whatever comes first! Totally aware r&b-influenced rock 'n roll that most of the time comes way too close to the driving spirit of DMZ or the Lyres for comfort! Some slow ones, many hard-edged fast ones, but no matter what Whitfield could sing "Donna E Marmalade" and make it sound like beer brawl backdrop! This is one man I just can't get enough of but the real question remains...can you stand it (and I sincerely believe you can!)??????
Various Artists-GREASY CHRISTMAS INCENSE CD-r burn (Bill Shute)

Sheesh, it would figure that late August would be this time of the years for me to pull out an X-mas related Cee-Dee-Are which IS as cockamamie as that time when I was about six and mom got all flabbergasted with cyster and me when we decided to spin them holiday platters during the hot and broiling summer months! (Gee, maybe that was just our way of getting cool!) But eh, non-conformist me used to eat candy for breakfast during those days, so why should I get all self-shaming over listening to the likes of Walter Brennan talk about the Christmas turkey that lived over a corny musical backing or Jerry Lewis do his bestest kid voice to express dismay over yet another season gone slush!

Actually liked Cliff Arquette as Charlie Weaver's New Year's Eve churnout while the little radio ads and greetings made me feel like I was in the store room of a long-deserted radio station playing shards of commercials past that were left behind. But what's even weirder is the Midmore family record yourself platter that was sent out to some hapless relative with the kids plunking away on the piano and forgetting the words to "Jesus Loves Me"...I feel kinda naughty listening to this 'un, like I'm opening somebody else's mail and reading it or something like that.

And for you HEATHENS out there, you get plenny of secular twangs from the likes of another Misfitted-named bunch to the Saharas garage band ode to the Republicans and even some rare Stiff Little Fingers tracks. It's all topped off with a boff Art Blakey drummed up mid-eastern themed effort that really doesn't make you wanna cringe the way the Herbie Mann track Bill slipped on did.
Like I do at the Internal Revenue Office every April 15th, I must once again plead...for you to buy up some of these BLACK TO COMM BACK ISSUES which I would like to turn into long green for future funtime endeavors if not my future existence. Click the link and please be kind and generous...the fifty cents per day you could be sending to feed some starving kid in India could be saved up so that in a few months you just might be able to send a nice and hefty order to ME! Of course you know which one is more important, and it ain't Hadji that's for sure!


diskojoe said...

Thanks for that grear review of the new Barrence Whitfield CD. He works at the local record store here in the Witch City & he's a friend of mine. I did an interview w/him that appeared in Ugly Things about 6 yrs. ago. He's a great guy & I enjoy talking about music & baseball w/him

Anonymous said...

Not sure which Dire Wolves tracks are on the beginning of that cd-r burn you have there, but that is the name of the band. for more. The end of that cd-r is a different group, Miaux, from Belgium.

Unknown said...

Thanks for your review about Brian Sands (Moses, Milk, Mouse, and more bands) in Cleveland, Ohio. He passed away Aug 28 at 66 yrs old and was my boyfriend back in the '90s for 6 years and the last 6 years I had lots of contact with him. He was unique and different than most people (except maybe you!) Sweet man. What you wrote really covered very many details that were great. Tomorrow, Oct 23, is a Celebration of Life (Life of Brian) at Cleveland's Beachland Ballroom club and I have to set some tables up of his CDs and other stuff. Some of his bandmates you mention will be there, too, playing some tunes from the old days (Randy Klawon, Dennis Carlton, Dave Alexy and more). I am making a copy of your review and would like people to read it. Maybe you will get more followers afterward! Thanks again. It's been a hell of a month getting things together for this event. Doris Lee, vinylexs@gmail. com, but better email is