Sunday, September 30, 2018

(To be repetitious and hackneyed about it...) Well, gotta say that the advent of October sure does bring back quite a few nicey-nice memories in this ever-shiny bean of mine, and that's despite those of me having to endure the usual hassles of school as well as older people trying to "guide" my life into being even more cube than their own. cider...gutter cleaning... Gee, I better stop before I get all rheumy eyed about storm window placements and running over cats that were hiding in the leaf piles next to the curb.

But given my advanced age all I can do is think back to the days when at least living mattered, or at least when I was living more'n existing. Sheesh, even though a whole lotta bad stuff went down back when I was a kid and didn't know how to tell people to fuck themselves at least I am thankful that there were still a few fun things that were made for kids who could get away with a few bits of pleasure in their suburban slob lives without any real adult constraint. Like Halloween, at least until the bigger and more lethal children amongst us got control of the overall situation. And those are the kind of memories I cherish the most---being a trick or treat kinda kid, not getting beaten up! Kinda makes me wanna put on a Halloween costume and wrap toilet paper around the principal's house, even though that guy's probably been dead for at least twenny years awlready!
Oh yeah, last week I did say I was gonna discuss my re-exposure to both THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW and THE BOB NEWHART SHOW via recent satellite-casts via FETV. Well, after sporadically watching both series on those rare days off all I gotta say is YEAH, these programs sure were the precursors to the staid situation comedies that I've seen since the eighties and have been avoiding like Christgau ever since. Y'know, those static neo-dramas (really!) which have a lotta talkin' and little action to add that humorous punch oh-so drastically needed? To be honest about it, THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW was the series that really got the sophisticado-styled comedy shows from the seventies until these sad times up and running, but ya gotta admit that both MOORE and NEWHART paved the way for such excremental television viewing from FRIENDS to THE BIG BANG THEORY which only makes me wanna know...sheesh, how many times can ya stand to watch ever-perky Mary toss her hat into the air for all to see without avoiding that ever-encroaching sense of CRINGE???

Then again, I am drawn to both series but for quite different reasons than I suppose their creators had in mind. For MTM it's the appearance of  Ted Baxter, a guy who in his self-important corniness practically saves the show just because his mere presence overcomes much of the drollness and saccharine that permeates the production. (And as I said many a time, don't you think the best episodes of that series were the ones that focused on a rather buffoon-ish Ted played up against Mary or Lou 'stead of the talkie ones with Mary, Rhoda or Phyllis the focus of attention?) NEWHART's saving grace is usually the variety of patients who end up on his couch like John Fiedler's Mr. Peterson and especially Jack Reilly's Mr. Carlin whose subdued if outrageous presence and various complexes really makes him someone I CAN REALLY IDENTIFY WITH!

But the real reason these shows have a strange appeal to me might only be because they bring back those adolescent and downright teenbo feelings from back when these shows were part of that CBS Saturday night comedy blockbuster lineup that was getting many snooty critical nods at the time. I'm sure some of you remember those days when I, and presumably YOU. would be holed up in your bedrooms posing in front of the full length mirror on your door just WISHING you could be out having fun like those less-restricted kids at some local variation of CBGB or Max's that some wise entrepreneur was BOUND to come up with in the very near future?! Them teenage years that looked so fine and promising when I was six yet by the time it was my turn all I got was disco and pukka shells---sheesh! Well, those years certainly weren't as hotcha as some might make 'em out to be, but at least some of us had a little misguided hope to keep us goin' (and for the luckier amongst us knowledge of the World Saving effects of acts like the Stooges and New York Dolls)... And yeah, just hearing the themes to both MARY and BOB remind me of when these shows would be blaring in the tee-vee room and here I was soothing my sorrows to some Sears catalog underwear ad!

Gotta keep watchin' whenever I do get the time...between these shows and SOUPY SALES on JLTV afternoon television has been rescued from the soap operas and courtroom programs that have permeated the boob tube for years on end! And for once I am GLAD I have an excuse to goof off in front of the set 'stead of go out and make money like alla the "nice" kids inna neighborhood were doing back when I was young and my suburban slob senses were even more attuned than they are now! Feh!
While waiting for that next big archival drop to go splat right in your lap why not give this li'l gem a go of it? Never knew about these '68 (or so they say) Hampton Grease Band demos, but they sure do sound fine despite the loss of the right channel ('n these are definitely stereo recordings so's you miss out on Glenn Phillip's guitar duel with Harold Kelling on "Evans") and occasional tape glitches...remarkably similar to the finished MUSIC TO EAT product with just enough difference to make your ears perk up even more'n the Rice Crispies elves'! I'll bet you're sure glad that you (like I) were in on this act a whole lot earlier'n all of those come latelys who only discovered 'em after that early 00's reissue! Another historical dig-up that in some ways rectifies that dream I had '77 way about that undiscovered album of theirs I found in some flea market pile if you can believe that!

Welp, here are but a few of the things I've listened to o'er the past seven or so days. Hope you can make your way through the slosh...personally I don't think all my batteries were charged this go 'round which might be why these read kinda wonky if you ask me. Who knows, some of you less discriminating types (y'know. the kind who pattern their reading parameters on free form 'stead of Geoffrey Chaucer) might enjoy it, but frankly I know I coulda done a much better job had I only given my brain the enema it most truly deserves. Well, one thing can be said about this week's spew and it's that even at my own disheveled state of mind my writing runs rings around those eighties-bred neat and petite scribes who are still cluttering up the ozone, but in the long run that ain't sayin' much either!

SPIELGUSHER 2-LP set (Feeding Tube, get hold of one here)

You can read my review of the Cee-Dee version of this here if you so desire, but even if you won't...  Well anyhoo, if you're one of those vinyl only types who I admire to the FULLEST you can now get this famed collaboration between Man God Richard Meltzer and not-so Man God Mike Watt and his Japanese cohorts on two solid albums, both of which will make you glad that you've been part of the continuum for a longer time than most people have been alive.

Meltzer speaks (dirty at times so better not spin it around Aunt Mabel) while Watt and crew provide ample and fitting tinkertoy backing making this the kinda platter I sure wish I coulda gotten hold of way back in my neophyte days when it was all new and fresh to my brain. As you'd expect, this is an item that should prove to you that Meltzer is still important here in 2018 while alla those hotshot types who stole the thunder away from not only him but a good portion of the gonz rock writing set back inna eighties remain DOA!
Frank Zappa-LUMPY GRAVY PRIMORDIAL LP (Zappa Records)

If anything, the latest UGLY THINGS spurred me on to buying this "Record Store Day" release so who sez that mag's good for nothin'! (Not moi.) Yes, this is none other than the original Capitol Records version of LUMPY GRAVY that came and went with such a velocity that only a quarter-track tape version was ever released. But a good fifty years later it's back, and not only that but the thing was pressed on burgundy vinyl and speeds on at 45 rpm even though for all practical purposes this is of an official long playing length!

This 'un sure brings back many of those teenbo feelings I had towards not only the old Mothers of Invention but of various mid-late-sixties rock modes I was digging into at the time that really helped me through a whole load of tough growin' up pains and things like that (boy am I in a retro "woe is me" mood this week!). And as I would have expected, the original LUMPY GRAVY take even sounds better without the added noise and mumblings that seemed so cliched even back when I was a kid and was on the lookout for cliches just like this! Too bad Zappa hadda believe his own hype and ended up recording such timeless classics as "Jewish Princess" and "Broken Hearts Are For Assholes", toonz which hold up these days about as much as that whole Suzy Creamcheese schtick did.

And speaking of """""I""""" the only one on this planet who enjoys the Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan edition of the Mothers almost as much as the original grouping? Okay, JUST ANOTHER BAND FROM LA wasn't exactly a winner in my book, but I can still weasel my way through things like "The Mud Shark" and CHUNGA'S REVENGE. Not to mention a good portion of 200 MOTELS's snatty pop songs with the two doing their special vocalizing even if that film was a disaster unraveling right in front of your eyes. Maybe I am one of the few who enjoy the two mixing it up with Zappa and although many would say otherwise why the heck should I apologize???

But back to the issue at hand...during my mid-seventies Zappafied days I attempted to order BOTH of these platters through the local record shop (no used or specialty emporiums in sight at the time) and even the people who gave us the Schwann catalog couldn't locate either of 'em! These platters had only been released a good two/three years earlier and you woulda thunk at least a few were hanging around in some record warehouse but NO...both THE PHLORESCENT LEECH AND EDDIE and its followup were nada to be seen even though it wasn't like Flo and Eddie were no longer a profitable team. Not with their own radio show, appearances in magazines galore and a Columbia Records contract which even had the fanzines swooning over their even more risque'n ex-boss Zappa's stage show featuring such skits as "Dildos of the Stars" (ranging in size from Mick Jagger to John Denver). But hey, about 90% of the gunk I'd order via Schwann never did turn up including the early Fugs platters on ESP which I KNEW were still available so's I guess I could chalk ALL my frustrations up to some lazy dock worker who'd rather nap behind a crate of James Taylor platters 'stead of do his doody and enrich my musical parameters!

The fortysome years wait wasn't that bad 'n yeah, I coulda bought both of 'em during my frequent trips to Cleveland during the late-seventies and eighties! And thankfully these albums have finally been reissued and like, I sure am surprised that they even sound better than I would have imagined. Of course I was under the impression these were gonna sound like the Mothers without Zappa but they don't. Pretty straightforward rock is what they are, and for a guy who had even the best moments of the Flo and Eddie Mothers in mind they don't even sound like that which does tend to shock the system, but in a nice, pleasant way.

'72's THE PHLORESCENT LEECH AND EDDIE might have been Reprise's hopes that the two would continue the Zappa gravy train loot a'flowin', but it's more like what you would expect an early-seventies Turtles album to sound like only with decadent sleeze a la KILL CITY fueling it instead of late-sixties commercial California sunshine pop. Surprisingly commercial yet deep down intense, it's sure strange that these guys who were doin' "Magdalena" only a year earlier were putting out this extremely smart pop which makes me FORGIVE 'em for making mucho moolah with Strawberry Shortcake once the eighties began clocking in. Kinda sounds like what the Doors would have been like (just check out "I Been Born Again"!) had Jim Morrison not been such an irritating phony intellectual, or even Sparks had Russ Mael only reached puberty. Given the musical renaissance of the '71/'72 AM radio era it's a shame none of this got mixed in with other definitely pro-horny youth music that was getting blasted into a load of teenbos' ears thus saving 'em from a severe Melanie overdose. Heck, even the corny if slyly double entendre "Nikki Hoy" ain't worth turning down the volume for, unless your strict daddy just happens to walk into the room and has some qualms about the "pearl diving" nature of the thing.

It took another year for FLO & EDDIE to make its way out, and given not only the heavy duty Bob Ezrin production but the retro-goof front cover you know this 'un's gonna be a thicker 'n usual production. Definitely a more upbeat effort (less dreamy haze here) FLO & EDDIE's got the heavy metal pop genre all figured out and even the horns 'n strings don't intrude like they did on all those other records of the day that you don't remember with any shard of fondness. And heck, why wasn't their cover of "Days" a hit single? Come to think of it, why wasn't "Afterglow", which was actually released as a single yet was given about as much promotion as the album itself, topping the charts in a world of "Kung Fu Fighting"? Sure coulda been one of those teen gal weeper biggies that even the cool guys could 'fess up to liking!

The comedy bits aren't overbearing, that is if you consider "Carlos and de Bull" a comedy track (I'm still trying to figure it out) and "The Sanzini Brothers" a tangential connection to the Mothers days. Those don't really ad up in the long run---it's the neo-Spector drench of tracks like "The Best Part of Breaking Up" that makes FLO & EDDIE a winner that sure would have ENRICHED me had only a copy turned up in that Columbus Ohio warehouse.

Now collected in one package, these records go to show you that the seventies pop renaissance coulda been a whole lot more'n just the Raspberries and Big Star had more of these efforts only GOTTEN OUT into the bedrooms of suburban slob teendom like they shoulda. One can only think of all those plump gals lying across their beds with a bowl of Cheetos reading the latest CREEM fantasizing about their own special love for Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan before trotting in front of the television set to catch a glimpse of David Cassidy!
From-O611-CAT QUARTER CD-r burn (originally on CBS Records, Germany)

Dunno what prompted Bill Shute to burn this one for me, other'n to tweak my nerve endings (nasty boy!). After all, it ain't like I ever really went for this fusion jazz which, when performed by Germans, sounds even STODGIER than the stuff comparatively more exciting Englishmen and Yankoids were cranking out. And man, most of that wasn't really so hot to begin with. Maybe we better humor them in case they get wise...I mean, have you ever seen the power of an angry Kraut??? One of those seventies records that came with a cover that was way more pleasing than the watered-down Soft Mechanisms to be found within the grooves.
Various Artists-96 CAMELS WOULD LIKE TO KNOW CD-r burn (Bill Shute)

Not whatcha'd call "A VERY SPECIAL EPISODE OF BILL SHUTE BURNS" by a long shot, but the thing does fill its purpose! Starting off with a rare Archie Bell and the Drells track (when I was a kid, I asked around inquiring as to what a "drell" actually was!) Bill's usually eclectic mix keeps the attention goin' even when you're up against such wonders as Ted Newman's early-sixties attempt to cash in on the "boy singer" rage or the Plus Four's not that strong (but I like it!) version of the Tremeloes' "Silence is Golden". The added radio clip novelty gunk (including a slightly sped up ABC radio report on the 1980 Kentucky Dribble) doesn't excite me like those old radio ads Bill sometimes sticks on, and while the music ain't anything to scream about it did make me feel better'n listening to my cyster try to sing in church.

But I will say that Bill ended it all on a fine note, what with Jackie Harris' down groove repeato riff "My Kind of Man" followed by the Rinky Dinks doing an equally negative energy hot instrumental, all ending with the Foundations of "Build Me Up Buttercup" fame tackling the all-time classic "96 Tears" and adding their own style of soul to rather boffo effect.
You know you want 'em...old issues of BLACK TO COMM, right? Well pard, like what's keeping you from buying up a batch anyway? Not that these things're gonna sell out any eon soon, but better now when your eyes can read the tiny print than later on when...well, your mom did say you would go blind doing it...


diskojoe said...

Between MTM & Bob Newhart, I prefer Newhart because there wasn't a sense of "relevance" that dogged MTM & as you say, it had more zany characters like Mr. Carlin, who was a favorite of mine. Another fave rave 70s sitcom of mine is The Odd Couple, for the interplay between Jack Klugman & Tony Randall & again, the lack of 70s relevance.

Speaking of Newhart, one of the zany patients was played by Florida Fabus, who played the mother in Dobie Gillis, which I'm currently binge watching.

Finally, Viva Flo & Eddie. I may have to pick up that 2 fear CD. You know that had great taste in covering "Days" & especially "Afterglow "

Bill S. said...

Speaking of David Cassidy, if one of those "Classic TV" networks like ME-TV or GET-TV would run it, I'd grab a bag of Cheetos and watch an episode or three of DAVID CASSIDY: MAN UNDERCOVER.
We watched an episode on GET-TV of the Burt Reynolds DAN AUGUST TV show the other night (they were running that and Reynolds' HAWK show in his memory recently) that was from 1970 and was like a cross between THE LOVE INS and RIOT ON SUNSET STRIP (alas, no Chocolate Watchband) with Richard Basehart (!!!) as some radical professor who was going to get fired from his college (he was such a sanctimonious jerk that he deserved to be fired, whatever his job) and the students were striking and protesting on his behalf. The college prez then gets murdered. Who did it? The student strike leader....the secretary he'd been having an affair with....the student "informer" (played by the young John Ritter)....his estranged son....the vice president of the college who'd been waiting for years to finally take over leadership...Richard Basehart? It took seemingly forever to find out as the GET-TV network runs so many commercials that an hour show is put into a 75 minute time-slot! People who know only the grinning, glad-handing Reynolds would be surprised how stoic he is in this role. Other than a few sarcastic remarks here and there, he never smiles and is as grim as he was as Navajo Joe. He is tough, though, and his former football days at Florida State are in evidence as he clearly does a number of his own stunts and is picking up full-grown men himself to toss them around.
I remember my mother being a big fan of this show.
Also, after Reynolds' rise to super-stardom later in the 70's, the network created two "new" Dan August TV-movies by stitching together two episodes each, in that time-honored rip-off tradition, used so memorably with the WILD BILL HICKOK show with Guy Madison and the RAMAR OF THE JUNGLE show with Jon Hall--they created many "movies" out of those.