Tuesday, February 25, 2020

MOOM PITCHER REVIEW BY BILL SHUTE! LAY THAT RIFLE DOWN (1955), STARRING JUDY CANOVA!

From the 30’s through the 50’s, JUDY CANOVA was the queen of country entertainment. Radio, films, records, TV, nightclub appearances, Broadway (she was in Ziegfeld Follies of 1936!), she conquered them all with her brash and outrageous over-the-top cornpone comedy (and her novelty singing, including first-rate yodeling). Her comedy persona was the kind of thing that would later have fit well in something like HEE HAW, and I’m surprised that she never did a guest shot on THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES (though according to the IMDB, she did play Mammy Yokum in a 1967 unsold TV pilot of LI’L ABNER, something that would have been right up her alley). She could probably be described as a country version of Martha Raye or Vera Vague, though she looked like neither, being dark-haired, almond-eyed, with sharp features, and sporting the downhome pig-tails and calico look. Look at her picture and imagine the exaggerated “howwww-DEE” greeting, as said by Minnie Pearl.

LAY THAT RIFLE DOWN was the final starring vehicle for her at Republic Pictures, with a run that lasted for 13 films over 15 years. As with her fellow Republic stars Roy Rogers and Gene Autry, after an initial period playing characters with other names, she finally played herself (or her public persona) in the last few vehicles, such as this one.

Republic’s distribution in its waning days was especially strong in moderate-sized towns in the Midwest and the South, and I’d imagine that this film would have gone over well with those audiences. Canova was a known quantity, and she was teamed up with director Charles Lamont, who started off in the silent era doing Big Boy comedy shorts at Educational Pictures (that alone would get him in the BTC Hall Of Fame!), then in the sound era did the majority of Buster Keaton’s fine shorts at Educational, and wound up at Universal doing many comedy classics with Abbott & Costello and with Ma and Pa Kettle. Since Canova’s comedy is very similar to the Kettles, the pairing of star Canova and director Lamont was a match made in country-comedy heaven. Interestingly, the two films Lamont made after this were both entries in successful series that replaced one of the main stars with someone else: THE KETTLES IN THE OZARKS, where Percy Kilbride was replaced by Arthur Hunnicutt, and FRANCIS IN THE HAUNTED HOUSE, where longtime companion to Francis The Talking Mule Donald O’Connor was replaced by Mickey Rooney. Also, to add insult to injury, Francis The Mule was not even voiced by Chill Wills in this film—Paul Frees was “doing” a Chill Wills imitation. I remember seeing that film as a child on TV and enjoying it since Mickey Rooney’s hamminess can take over the screen and make you forget everything else that’s happening other than The Mick and his antics.

The plot here—which on some level doesn’t even matter, since the film is just a vehicle for Canova’s comedy—is a kind of cross between Cinderella and a mystery-crime story. In an early scene, Canova gets in the mail the newest lesson from a correspondence-course charm school, and we see the bumbling Canova character in her room trying to practice the “elegant” prancing and posing described in the lesson. I can hear the audience in, say, Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, howling at her antics, and I would have been hooting and stamping right along with them. This scene also reminds me of the late great Jim Varney in his Ernest persona----one wonders if Varney as a child watched some Canova films on the local Tennessee UHF station. And just in case your heart-strings have not already been pulled by Judy’s working for the mean people at the hotel in a menial position, we find out that she takes the little money she does earn and uses it to keep up an old farm where an older man who drives a beat-up country taxi helps raise some orphan children, and of course the kids provide some country-style Our Gang-ish hijinks themselves. And if that’s not enough, when the kids throw a surprise birthday party for her, on a day that isn’t her birthday, Judy warbles a cute song about how “my birthday is my favorite day of the year,” with glockenspiel as a lead instrument in the orchestral backing. The only thing missing was Captain Kangaroo himself!

The Cinderella aspect of the story kicks in when Judy, who has led the mean-spirited people she lives and works with at the hotel to believe that a “feller” has been writing her, has her bluff called, and she winds up asking the first adult male to get off the bus in downtown “Greebville” to pretend to know her and be her boyfriend so as to shut up the hotel people who don’t believe her. And that “feller” is none other than ROBERT LOWERY! Yes, Batman from the 1949 Batman and Robin serial (my favorite Batman), who was recently championed here at BTC in the review of the 1962 Craig Hill film DEADLY DUO. For Judy, Lowery (who has always been good at comedy—his stuffy and bored performance as Bruce Wayne in the Batman serial is a hoot) is the dream date. Posing as Poindexter March III (!!!!), he charms everyone in town and has the meanies at the hotel now treating Judy like a queen, so they can win the favor of March/Lowery.

As you might expect, Judy’s farm isn’t exactly what it’s believed to be, and Robert Lowery had a specific reason to come to Greebville on the bus that magical day, and these elements keep the wheels rolling until Judy manages to put the meanies in their place, get rewarded out of the blue, and in the film’s climax, be toting that rifle referred to in the title. Also, even though Robert Lowery is essentially a swindler, he’s a charming swindler with a heart of gold, or so he shows himself to be as he’s taken away by the police. In the film’s final seconds, when banker Richard Deacon (!!!!) returns the deed to the farm to Judy AND we discover it’s got oil, she passes out, reminding us once again what a fine physical comedian Judy Canova is. She was 42 when the film was made, and her pigtails and girlish “aw shucks” mannerisms remind me of the scenes in the later Bowery Boys movies where the 40 year old Huntz Hall is dressed in a Little Lord Fauntleroy outfit. This kind of thing exists in some alternate universe….a universe where I want to be!

Judy Canova’s radio show went off the air, after more than a decade, in 1955, the year she appeared in this, her last starring film vehicle. She then moved on to television guest appearances (she was even on an episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents) and went back to live performances in Vegas and in nightclubs across North America. It’s a shame she’s not remembered that much today. She carved out her own niche in the entertainment world of the 1930’s-1960’s, and she is able to carry this feature film effortlessly. She’s in virtually every scene, and though her persona is brash, she’s also shy and a wallflower, so the audience is not just laughing at her antics, they are rooting for her as an underdog. 65 years after this film was released, and 85 years after she exploded onto popular culture, Judy Canova is still working her magic on viewers like me!

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Well I managed to survive the past week, and considering the work load and other emotional stress I hadda endure be thankful that I am still relatively in one piece! Not that the previous seven were total crunchville, but they came pretty close psychotic reaction-wise. Thankfully there are things to do in those oft-dwindling free time hours that sorta make up for all of the bad that has happened, like the beautiful and bountiful stack o' platters that I have received this week (courtesy of Bill Shute and Paul McGarry) not to mention the stellar fact that the original half-hour (and best) episodes of GUNSMOKE are now being shown (two back-to-back) on INSP weeknights at seven, one good reason for a fanabla such as I to pry myself away from the bedside boom box for an hour! I'm so happy that television which is copasetic with my own neural make-up is once again being offered for us suburban slob types who time has forgotten, and even though this means that I have one less hour per day to prepare for these blogposts at least I have a good excuse whenever the blog's overall quality takes a serious nosedive. And these days that's a whole lot more frequently than even I would have ever expected. But ya still luv me, right?
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As far as my busier than usual week had gone well, I did receive a package of unsolicited niceties from Bob Forward, a guy who I thought I never would hear from again given people's penchants for being overtly offended ever so slightly an' I don't mean ME! Or something like that, but in this package, besides some Cee-Dee-Are burns which I will review if I like or not if I don't or happen to lose them, he sent me an issue of THE WIRE which is a mag I have heard about for eons but never felt excited enough to buy for mostly monetary reasons. But my interest was piqued....after years of seeing THE WIRE quoted and touted I was expecting a whole lot but boy did I think the thing was dry. Not that there wasn't any information to feed my usually frenzied brain (and I'm sure that somewhere in their history of the English new music experimentalists they've written on the Velvet Underground's influence on that particular scene, a subject that I would love to know a whole lot more about than what's readily available), but otherwise I felt THE WIRE's overall approach and feeling was just as sterile and COLD as most other efforts that try to take a music's excitement and appeal to your musical soul and for wont of a better term flop around like a stomach full of hot peppers and greens in the process.

The cover story on longtime under-the-underground rock faves Wire might have had something to do with my opinion, especially after seeing the elderly members of the group looking even more aged than my grandparents did when I was but a mere sprout. Then I got a good eyeballing of myself in the mirror and you can bet I felt like gulping down a bottle of Geritol before settling down for THE LAWRENCE WELK SHOW! Overall, THE WIRE is a mag I don't think I'll be seeking out a subscription should some kid trying to work his way through college comes knocking at my door, but if people give me free copies I might just as well accept them.
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Before we begin, I thought I'd link up this recent Jewamongyou post which I thought was rather reflective of a lotta things that I tend to believe, and a post where I think that both MoeLarryandJesus as well as Charles Hodgson could pick up a few interesting facts that nobody seems to believe true but overall redeem everything I've been saying these past few years. You can thank me whenever, guys.



The Flesheaters-NO QUESTIONS ASKED CD (Atavistic Records)

Now that it's safe to listen to the Flesheaters again (all of the negative energy from my enemies who swear by the ravings of Chris D has been dissipated at least somewhat), I'm once again enjoying the classic approach of an act that never did forget what punk rock circa. 1971 (in the best CREEM/fanzine sense) meant while spewing the whole mess into what punk rock circa 1978 meant at least in El Lay. A platter that's been a daily spinner these past few, on this debut ell-pee effort Chris D and band take the whole mad thrash of the El Lay scene and splatters it even more with not only that sanctified voodoo approach so evident on their classic A MINUTE TO PRAY but with enough smart Stooges/Black Pearl/Seeds moves (really, I MEAN it!) that sure sates a sixties-soaked "historian" such as I. Listening to this sure makes me wish that D somehow broke on over the "made it" line thus giving people like me that maybe there was some hope for rock 'n roll once the eighties began fizzling into sonic death.

Oh yeah, this Atavistic reish from way back when also has the TOOTH AND NAIL and EP tracks for the sake of complete pleasure plus some early on demos that only add to the mystical legend of it all.
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Various Artists-TOMMYKNOCKERS BEAT CLUB VOLUME 18 2-CD-r burn

A perfect tonic for one of those Sundays where all I have goin' for me is sittin' in my room going through boxes of my old friends, mainly my fanzine collection! Actually I'm in hawg heaven when I devote my free time to such frivolities, but when bolstered by this particular set of rare mid-sixties English delicacies the glow is only brighter. Loads of tracks both rare and not are splattered across these shiny platters and although some of 'em are fairly common (like Ambrose Slade's brilliant version of Frank Zappa's "I Ain't Got No Heart") I will say that it's sure great hearing things like a rare side from "Those" (formerly "The Belfast Gypsies" and even before that "Them") and the Liverbirds going on one of their Bo Diddley kicks again. Especially enthralling were the Who doing "Good Lovin'" on the BBC as well as the sparse folk rockers "I Won't Let You Down" by the Richmond from a LIVE AT THE CAVERN album emceed by noted bashed ribber Bob Wooler. And once again I get to hear that all-time obscuro "Bumble Bee" by the Searchers which really wowed me when I first heard it on the radio...in 1973???
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Aim-FOR THE HIGHEST LP (Blue Thumb Records)

Here's one of those platters that I reckoned was probably a total turd yet had some sorta historical significance to it. That significance being that bassist Patrick O'Connor was a fixture not only in Lenny Kaye's avant rock group Jimmy the Flea but in some of Kaye's various non-Patti Smith endeavors later on. From the looks of that it might seem that Aim had some promise, but one listen'll prove that these guys were just another funky whiteboy outfit doomed to instant flea market bin status, at least until a doof like myself decided to take a chance on the thing in the hopes of hearing yet another Sidewinders or Hackamore Brick. Too bad, because when Aim veers ever so slightly into a halfway-there pop mode they just barely remind me of the Magic Tramps!
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The Rolling Stones-THE ALTERNATIVE LET IT BLEED CD-r burn

Another jive title considering this has some definitely non studio smatterings including "Love In Vain" from THE ED SULLIVAN SHOW. Most if not all you've probably heard before and before and before, but it's no pain to give these many takes of "Honky Tonk Women" done up acoustic-like another go at it because they're so good in the way the late-sixties Stones were a fairly potent antidote to some of the sappier moments their rivals were whipping up. It's hard to see from the light of such seventies atrocities as "Angie" and even "Heartbreaker" just what standard bearers the Stones were during those pre-coked out days, but on these under-the-carpet spins you really can.
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Los Peyotes-PSYCHOTIC REACTION CD0r burn (originally on ATMC Records, Argentina)

These south of the equator guys do the mid-sixties experience swell enough. In fact they're good enough that they would have rated at least a small paragraph in some late-seventies issue of BOMP...TROUSER PRESS had this come out in the late-seventies! Back then these guys woulda come off huge on this just-post high stool kid's hotcha list considering just how knocked out I was by these various NUGGETS and flea market finds that were plumping up my record collection quite a bit. Nowadays the thrill ain't as hotcha after years of hearing the originals until they were well-saturated in the sponge of my mind, but these Peyotes sure do get the gold stars for their uncanny efforts at re-creating the knocked out raveup experience without coming off like a buncha cutesy poos. And come to think of it, we in the here and now could sure use a whole lot more of that in our bloodstreams 'stead of the sorry rehash that has been pumped into us whether we like it or not!
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The Litter-$100 FINE CD (Arf! Arf! Records)

Not so bad second album from the "Action Woman" guys who coulda been another late-sixties bigtime high energy group to contend with had ABC/Probeo only knew how to handle 'em. Like the better rock 'n roll to appear during those maybe not-so-dismal days, the Litter take the slow and intense route when necessary yet never fail to crank it out down on all fours when the desire arises. If these guys came from Detroit you can bet that TIME and NEWSWEEK woulda been name dropping 'em in those MC5 articles that appeared just around the same time this effort came out. The early demos are too cuddly gal cute in my opinion but hey, they were just startin' out so who can blame 'em?
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Various Artists-TONGUE-TWISTIN NERVOUS SUGAR CD-r burn (Bill Shute)

Bill goes soul music on this various artists collection, really plumbing the depths of trackage that never went anywhere that I know of even though a good portion of this most definitely shoulda. WAIT, right when I'm gettin' into a decidedly urban temperament Bill switches gears and slips in a sixties-vintage ranch house white neo-surf rocker that's titled "Let's Dance" but ain't the Chris Montez favorite! The rest of this seems well-settled between early and mid-sixties white teenage music of varying bents which kinda makes me wonder...Bill, whose side are you on???

All kiddin' aside (somethin' ya GOTTA say nowadays), the best of this batch just happens to be the Marcus Brothers' raucous tribute to the Everlys and cocaine..."Sugar Booger"! A VERY CLOSE SECOND would be the Rambling Dogs' "Eye of the Needle", a true rock 'n roll revelation because I first knew about this group when they were going under their complete name of Elmer City Rambling Dogs if only due to an appearance at CBGB way back 1976 way. Lookin' at the cover of their self-produced album I kinda got the impression that these Dogs'd be a goodtime biker band complete with the heavy-set and balding guy in overalls, but judging from this track they really were a down-to-terra grovelling rock boogie outfit who sorta came off like the missing link between Canned Heat and those early pub-rockin' Stiff Records bands. Perfect for the breed of rocker who was plunking down the dinero for everything from the Count Bishops to Sean Tyla with change left over for an early Eddie and the Hot Rods. Definitely one not only to search out for your own pride and pleasure but for one of those snazzy reissue labels to lap up and dish out for a definitely grit-starved audience!
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Ya see the pic onna left? That's what I gotta get rid of in order to not only recoup my losses putting these issues of BLACK TO COMM out but maybe even (now get this!) get up enough moolah to put out another issue of my oft loathed crudzine. Wow, just what you want to see...BLACK TO COMM #26 starin' you inna face an' you haven't even finished pouring through your most recent issue of DYNAMITE HEMORRHAGE yet! Really, your Unca Chris could use not only the money but the extra room, so why not empty out your piggy bank and spring for a whole buncha nice 'n juicy issues before they end up in the incinerator along with the rest of my fortysome years of rock collectibles which my "heirs" will undoubtedly mistake for trash!

Thursday, February 20, 2020

BOOK REVIEW! SCREWBALL, THE CARTOONISTS WHO MADE THE FUNNIES FUNNY BY PAUL C. TUMEY (Library of American Comics, 2019)

Now I can't afford, or am entitled to, or am "important" enough in this world to have the opportunity to have read every comic strip history that's come out these past few years, but gawly ned if this one just didn't hit that infamous chord in me to the point where I hadda just purchase a copy for myself to have, to hold and to slobber over. IN OTHER WORDS this ain't gonna be re-gifted, so whatever you do don't get your hopes up Bill or Brad!!!

An' so, once again it's time to for me to revert to my single-digit days (nothing that's too hard for me to do) to seep into and enjoy a well-deserved history of the Amerigan comic strip! Well at least its zanier side, and at least a history of what comic strips meant to crazed kids who sure got a whole lotta enjoyment outta sprawlin' themselves down right inna middle of the living room floor readin' that day's selection of true blue jam-slammed packed adventure and fun jamz WHEN THEY SHOULDA BEEN DOIN' THEIR HOMEWORK! Or at least that's the guilt trip that usedta be laid down on me alla time and who knows, maybe it was on you too!

The whole screwball comic trend has been discussed many-a-time before not only on the SCREWBALL blog (see list at left) but in these very "pages", and any real fan of the non-pretentious comic strip is bound know a whole lot more about such totally loonybin classics as SALESMAN SAM and THE SQUIRREL CAGE than your average DOONESBURY reader ever would. Of course that's a given but I have the sneakin' suspicion that many of you reg'lar BLOG TO COMM readers are woefully ignorant about this important and mostly forgotten trend in comic strips. And that, naturally, is where this book comes in.

Author Tumey does a pretty good (not "perfect" but not lacking either) job of presenting a historical and at times lively history of these particularly off-the-meter and at times downright "surreal" (not that I'm getting into seventies art criticism mind you) strips which might have seemed old and quaint to the post-fifties breed of sophisticado fans but really kept up the whole spirit of comic strip energy at that fever pitch level that's kept people like me coming back for more. Well, strips like these sure kept me pourin' through newspaper microfilms if only to read these seemingly long-forgotten efforts all the while tellin' the librarians I was doing a school report on somethingorother in order to keep outta trouble!

It's a fine and informative (an' I mean informative as in the fact that you'll be glued to each panel and devour all of the new information on these crackpot cartoons a whole lot more than you did with your fourth grade chemistry book!) read, detailing a whole lotta history backdrop into those more nutzoid strips that really put a punch into the funny pages. (Imagine these as the printed page's answer to the Three Stooges or Joe Cook and you'll get the drift.) Starting with the infamous Frederick Burr Opper (whose professional cartooning career began in 1876!) to other infamous names as E.C. Segar (THIMBLE THEATER), Rube Goldberg, Milt Gross, Bill Holman (SMOKEY STOVER) and Ving Fuller (the subject of a nasty joke in LI'L ABNER), you not only get those nice and compact biographies of the guys who made the funny papers totally ridiculous but plenty of hotcha examples of their work that just might have you slippin' back in time and hoggin' up the living room with your girth spread all over the floor while the kids use your butt crack as a dangerous crevice as they drive all over your body with their Matchbox cars.

Really, some of these cartoons are so hilarious that every slab of cartooning emitted over the past twenty or so years wilts mightily in comparison. Really, how can anything in today's comicsphere hold a candle to those SMOKEY STOVER badgags done up the way I like 'em or even more groaners gone good via THE NUT BROTHERS. And howzbout the infamous "Nov Schmoz Ka Pop?" hitchhiker who the inventor wanted to see dead in THE SQUIRREL CAGE! Just about anything that Milt Gross inked is worthy my time and temperature (an' he's a guy whose strips from NIZE BABY to COUNT SCREWLOOSE should be collected and published immediate-like!) an' while I'm on an anti-postmodernist cartoon jag, who today could have done a HAPPY HOOLIGAN Sunday page where the panels were cut diagonally in half and re-pasted for the reader to figure out himself?!?!?! It took me awhile to do some mental un-scrambling (didn't wanna cut the page up!), but after I was finished I figured that the way they originally appeared was dada enough to enjoy in its original version so why should I have bothered inna first place!

Sure Tumey emits a few irks here and there which I can't let slide by, such as his contention that the post Gene Ahern OUR BOARDING HOUSE was strictly grade-z turdsville (frankly, I can't even tell the difference!) while his total omission of Stan MacGovern's crazed SILLY MILLIE is something I would deem downright irresponsible considering how books on screwball comic strips are mighty few and far between. However I gotta commend the guy for tackling one subject that I would never think any respectable publishing firm would dare to publish, and sheesh if you've put a whole lotta free time and obsession into those old comic strips at a time when the only ones you could talk about Major Hoople or Smokey Stover were your aunts and uncles who were headin' into their mid-fifties which seemed like a LIFETIME to your nine-year-old self well, I guess you will understand just as much as I do how much books like this can mean to your own sense of well being and happiness!

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Can a brain-damaged neo-autistic make it in the blogosphere without looking like the total idiot he's made himself out to be via the printed page for the past (almost) forty years? Well read on and find out for yourself, Clarabelle!
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Anyway, is it me, or has my writing generally gotten even more convoluted and moronic these past few weeks or months (years?) for that matter? Between you, me and the bedpan I gotta admit that it has, and I chalk it up to just reg'lar decay (physically and mentally) and irreg'lar exhaustion due to me plunking these posts out faster than a meatball factory on Al Capone's birthday. Judging from the previous sentence my concept of humor is getting rather convolutedly warped as well (and yes, there's no such word as "convolutedly" but at least my tendency for adapting new words out of old has been a part of my skewered poor writemanship for years!----"writemanship"----there I go agin!), but believe-you-me I sure wish I could pour out the wordage the same way that Bill Shute or Bruce Mowat do! Given the rather traumatic excursions taking place in my already diseased mind I don't think I'll ever be able to reach the stellar heights those professionals can. Don't think I'll even succeed rising to TEENAGE WASTELAND GAZETTE levels either given my state of mental disarray, so mebbee I should be satisfied with the gunk I'm presenting to you which some of you must be rockism-starved enough to lap up with everyday glee! (In other words...) I ain't givin' this up because I'm havin' too much fun anyways and besides next to most of the slop I read these days passing as rock criticism I might as well be the standard for today's high energy, no-holds-barred rock writing 'n you better believe it!
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In case you wanna know yes I HAVE been enjoying myself this past week, spinning an inordinate amount of current faves like the Eddie Flowers and the Wax Lips Swamp Dub album on Feeding Tube (the track that closes out the album is the "John, John, Let's Hope For Peace" of the twenties!) as well as a whole stack of old favorites ranging from the first two Savage Rose albums, PHALLUS DEI, Lou Reed and the Tots live on the radio and various sundries in-between. A pretty good time was had as well, what with me swimming through these musical milestones while pouring through the boxes of fanzines and various rock 'n roll-related publications stacked up in what used to be my bedroom.

When I do have that much-needed SPARE TIME on hand I certainly love reverting to my youthful suburban slob self while pouring through the sounds, the reading (talkin' old comic strips/books, none of that "classics" stuff they usedta make ya read in school in order for them to turn you into a nice and docile sissy!) and the general fun and jamz that made those post-homework hours in the evening such a pleasure to wind down to. I never thought those kinda days and feelings would ever come back (especially since tee-vee, which used to be the big hub of pre-beddy bye domestic activity, has pretty much capsized into grim and irrelevant "entertainment") but maybe they have, in their own special and compatible with the BLOG TO COMM way o' livin' sorta way!
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OLD NEWS BUT I THOUGHT I'D MENTION IT---too bad about Rush Limbaugh and his lung cancer diagnosis which he announced to the world via his radio program two weeks back. And yes it IS too bad he's succumbing to this rather deadly malady especially at this time in Amerigan history because---well, for the last three or so years (during the reincarnation of SPIRO AGNEW via DONALD TRUMP) the guy has been acting way less neoconnish than he had back when he was continually badmouthing the likes of Ron Paul while trying to appease a whole load of rightist factions, flopping around like a fish trying to pick the right side of the right wing political spectrum to cozy up to. Hope he recovers or at least goes out on a strong note but that's not why I'm mentioning him inna first place.

The reason I am is because as far as this meat of the matter cancer development goes all I will say at this point is that it's too bad that all that probably fatal agony couldn't happen to someone else like...well, you know how I don't like to name names and call people out but there are a few of you who I sure wouldn't mind watchin' (while smirkin' for that matter) while ya go through alla that chemo and painful surgery and outright misery that I hadda watch people around me, good and decent people for that matter, experience!

Too bad I don't have a mumbo jumbo bad luck evil hoodoo charm like many of you once extremely-caustic yet now totally copasetic with the human condition types think I do because if I did well, NONE OF YOU WOULD BE SPARED!!!! HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! (In other words, maybe it should happen to...)
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SORRY TO SEE YA GO---RIP Orson Bean, a guy who I grew up thinking was the coolest sorta man I'd like to be like when I grew up, along with Alan Young, Bill Cullen and Alan Ludden! Guest writer for MAD (his story about the two Chinese guys who go to an American restaurant is a by now anti-PC laff riot!) and star of a HELP! fumetti to boot! Of course after I saw that PBS production with him swearin' in it and heard about that HUSTLER interview where he talked about undergoing Reichian therapy and urination along with other sundries bound to give you the creeps well...sheesh, even the biggest and bestest of our kiddiehood role models had bigger faults than San Andreas! But anyhoo, there goes another familiar face from my earliest and fuzziest memories outta sight but not mind...goodbye Bevis!
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IN CASE YOU HAVEN'T, why dontcha check out the recent article on Iggy and the Stooges/RAW POWER that's popped up on the COUNTER-CURRENTS website! I haven't seen it ("unsupported protocol"), but from what I've heard it's sure a real doozy!
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And now for the adults only portion of our blog, the reviews!


Crazy Doberman-ACID GALLERY BOTTLE BLOWOUT CD-r burn

Once again John "Inzane" Olson (who can't even spell his last name right) dredges up the best of the late-twentieth century freeform freestyle jazz sound with this continuation of the wall-of-mass-improv brohauha which recalls everything from Alan Silva's BYG albums to Rudolph Grey's BLAZING ANGELS or whatever it was called. For a cheap imitation (like, Olson never hung out with the big names and got his street cred the way yer sposta!) this sounds like the read deal newer than new thing you've known and loved for ages. I hope that this review doesn't go to the guy's head or else the next thing you'll know he'll be sporting a dashiki and loads of beads around his neck!
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Steve Piccolo-DOMESTIC EXILE CD (Guerssen Records, Spain)

Alla that early-80s Lounge Lizards fake jazz post-no wave that was happenin' at the time really didn't thrill me a-tall, so it is a surprise that I find this solo album from ex-member Steve Piccolo not as bad as I thought it was gonna be. In keeping with them times, Piccolo performs a "minimalist" style of singer-songwriterdom that reminds me of contemporary efforts from the likes of the Red Crayola and Peter Blegvad. Sparse and intimate, keeping much in line with the same sorta art spree that gave us everyone from Glenn Branca to Robert Longo, and if you still search out your old Laurie Anderson and Love of Life Orchestra records for that much-needed solace I'm sure you'll go full throttle for this beauty as well!
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Kraftwerk-RADIO BREMEN SESSIONS 1971 CD (Eye of the Storm Records)

Here's yet another Eye of the Storm release featuring some early krautrock that sure sounds as raw and as exciting as any of the punk rock that was being birthed during the early-seventies. Stoopid me bought this not knowing that these were the same Radio Bremen live in front of a small live audience recordings that have been floating around for quite some time, BUT boy does this sound as if it was just taped straight off the radio its that clear!  And the packaging with liner notes ain't nothin' to sneeze at either. If you don't have any of the other versions of this then pick this particular spinner up for a treat that really does fit in on these long winter nights as you kick your feet up and sink into the pretty heavy-metallic punky sound that the Stooges-influenced era of Kraftwerk were able to exude.
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Rolling Stones-STICKY FINGERS (THE ALTERNATIVE ALBUM) CD-r burn

Another Paul McGarry pawn off which I must say is worth the listen to considering that if I were to grab alla these Stones rarities on their lonesome it would cost me a millyun dollars just like them Time/Life infomercials say! Besides a lotta takes of "Brown Sugar" I've never heard before this has plenty of trackage that's pretty straightforward in the way the we liked the Stones when they weren't being too high falutin'. This even has some "new" numbers that a decidedly non-Stones kinda guy has never heard before so it was like an ALL NEW EXPERIENCE IN STONESIFIED EXPRESSION to be givin' this particular platter a spin. Hey Paul, ya doin' any more house cleanin'?
***
Beach Slang-THE DEADLIEST BANG OF HEARTBREAK CITY CD-r burn (originally on Bridge 9 Records)

As if these pampered menials didn't think that they could fill up an album with standard alternative rock vocal styles and post-Elton sensitive piano emote and then try to tell all of us that they are hip 'n with it by tossing in a "Sister Ray" riff swipe. This ain't the death of rock, it's finding the carcass a few weeks after it being locked in a tool shed on an extremely hot summer's day. The closing backwards moosh with kids talking was about 1/1000% redeeming.
***
Cinecyde-I LEFT MY HEART IN DETROIT CITY CD-r burn (originally on Tremor Records)

I know I reviewed my actual flesh and blood copy of this either in my crudzine or on this blog o'er a decade or so back, but McGarrys' recent burn sorta jogged my memory about these late-seventies Detroiters even existing inna first place. I remember the early singles which placed Cinecyde in the same class of post-sixties high energy rockers in the Destroy All Monsters/Mutants vein and they were plenty impacting ifyaknowaddamean, but this early-eighties effort has 'em playin' the same overdone rock moves and chord changes that sounded great at one time but seemed rather too little too late just a few years later. Well, it was the early-eighties after all and if you remember just how much of a DENOUEMENT those years were compared with what was happening in the seventies you woulda been just as down inna dumps as I was!
***
Hawkwind-ALL ABOARD THE SKYLARK 2 CD-r set

Sheesh, who ever thought that Hawkwind, or at least some form of what it used to be, would have lasted into the year 2019 where they'd be re-doing their old faves in remarkably different arrangements to pawn off on space kiddettes both old 'n new! Dunno who exactly is part of this version of the group (nor do I really care that much---after all, this ain't some high stool BOOK REPORT I'm doin' complete with recipe cards and reference pages!) but this Hawkwind's pretty snazzy and at times reminiscent of their various mid/late-seventies efforts that still see action on my turntable whenever one happens to pop up in the pile. Ya gotta give 'em loads of credit for milking the same stellar pathways for a good fifty years awlready and without coming off too money-minded at that!
***
Various Artists-LONELY MYSTIC NELLIE CD-r burn (Bill Shute)

After a long day at the concentration camp something like this helps raise the spirits. It features everything from a couple of weird outta-the-way teenage psychedelic sides from Frenchy and the Underground Railroad to the Mystic Five covering the Raiders and Surfaris to even more aural spasms (howzbout a record accompanying an anti-drugs/rock music film strip that makes me think that any kid who saw it woulda immediately headed for his local pusher and record shop!). Rod Rodgers of "song poems" fame contributes a few Air Force-related soul stirrers and whaddaya know but infamous vanity performer Dora Hall once again pops up to sing "Nellie Bly", undoubtedly financed by the Solo Cup Company! If only Bill had left them cheap proto-hippie cool college kid attempts at "cutting" satire via the "Apple Gunkies" ads off! The aural equivalent of cleaning about seventy years of junk outta your late Aunt Mabel's house!
***
Someday these BLACK TO COMM BACK ISSUES are going to be extremely valuable. But then again someday an R. Meltzer Tropicana Orange Juice bottle filled with a stillborn kitten in gelatin will go for gigantic sums at Sotheby's. But my magazines sure smell a lot better, so you know where to invest your money now, eh?

Thursday, February 13, 2020

BOOK REVIEW! THE STOOGE CHRONICLES BY JEFFREY FORRESTER (Contemporary Books Inc., 1981)

Yeah it sure is good readin' more and more about what was probably the GREATEST comedy team of the twentieth century, and if you think I'm talkin' the Marx Brothers (who I really can't care much for and wouldn't even if Dick Cavett didn't like 'em) you're wrong as usual! When I say GREATEST I mean none other'n the Three Stooges, not some innerlektual haughty humor for the psuedo-intellectuals to chatter on about in their never-ending attempts to be even more respectable in the eyes of their chi chi friends.

Gotta say that for Stooges fans this 'un should fill the bill considering that it is more detailed and dare-I-say "accurate" than Moe Howard's own Stoogeobiography reviewed a few months back. It's got loads of pix (I once wanted the one on page 26 made into a t-shirt---mebbe I still do!) not to mention a whole lotta nice li'l facts that we shoulda known about but you know how lots of history gets lost until it gets re-discovered years after the fact.

It may be a little scholarly, and there might be way too much on the "post" Stooges group that Ted Healy slapped together for most of us to care about, but the info and the illustrations are there and if you've been familiar with these faces your whole life there's no reason why you wouldn't wanna read this book and get to know more about these guys who really acted like the true role models in your suburban slob existence. And yeah, at a time when your mother wanted you to be Freddie Bartholomew and your dad Jack Armstrong the Stooges sure did come in handy! (You ultimately turned out to be more like Lumpy Rutherford but at least them Stooges gave you the right sorta ranch house kiddie guidance, eh?)

There's not a thing in THE STOOGE CHRONICLES that I care to quibble about. Even when it borders on "stodgy" the subject matter makes sure that you ain't takin' yer usual eyeball breaks peekin' out the window when yer curvaceous neighbor's walkin' the Rottweiler. It tells the story in its own concise way and should satisfy any kid who spent his formative years watching these guys and never did "outgrow" their style of real, affects you in a down home way comedy that still works all these years later.

And it also satisfies a kid like me who was DENIED the Three Stooges because I couldn't pick up the distant stations that those old shorts were airing on back when I needed these guys the most (local ones were too cheap, or more likely STOOPID to have aired 'em past the mid-sixties for one foolish reason or another). I only caught that glorious glimpse of 'em when visiting a household which was able to snatch those Cleveland and Pittsburgh stations up with relative ease usually making myself a self-invited pest in the process. Sheesh, do you think I could sue my dad for being too cheap to put up a tall enough aerial because of high wind fears on his part? Makes about as much sense as some of those frivolous lawsuits one sees these sappy days, but at least it would be a whole lot more interesting one for you gawkers to read about, eh?

Tuesday, February 11, 2020


MOOM PITCHER REVIEW BY BILL SHUTE! RUBBER RACKETEERS (1942), STARRING RICARDO CORTEZ!

Re-watching this film (I’ve seen it 3-4 times over the last 20 years), I’m reminded about the things an hour-long B-crime/action programmer has in common with a rock’n’roll 45—it’s all about the spirit, the tone of the performance, the pace, the mood, the overall effect. Nail those elements, and any number of defects can be forgiven….or actually become irrelevant. The piece itself carries you along….for 2 minutes 30 seconds on a 45 rpm singles, or for 56 minutes with a film like RUBBER RACKETEERS. And like some grungy 1962 R&B cover by a frat-rock band from Washington state, this film delivers the goods (Monogram films usually do) you paid for when you bought a ticket.

This was an early production by the King Brothers, whose story sounds like it came out of the kind of film they would produce. Evidently, they began selling newspapers and shining shoes, and then branched into slot machines and horse racing. They loved movies, though, and knew a number of producers and directors from the racetrack! They had the genius idea to try and make films to be shown on their slot machines, and actually attempted to contact Cecil B. DeMille to see if he’d like to produce a film for their slot machines!!!! Not surprisingly, that did not work out.

They did manage to make a low-budget film for PRC called PAPER BULLETS, famous for being a pre-stardom role for Alan Ladd. The great B-movie gangster actor JACK LA RUE starred in that, as they knew him from the racetrack and he was happy to do “the boys” a favor. They did wind up later making some crime classics, including DILLINGER, GUN CRAZY, SOUTHSIDE 1-1000, and THE GANGSTER.

RUBBER RACKETEERS was released in June 1942, just six months after the beginning of WWII, and the first scene sets the over-the-top wartime tone….we see star BILL HENRY shooting a machine gun into targets with the faces of Mussolini, Hitler, and Tojo (can you imagine how well that would have gone over with audiences in mid-1942….these King Brothers knew what they were doing!). Henry, in case you’ve forgotten, later starred in the 1953 Republic serial CANADIAN MOUNTIES VS ATOMIC INVADERS, and he was also the comedic heavy in the post-Gorcey Bowery Boys film SPOOK CHASERS, where the Huntz Hall/Stanley Clements version of the Boys help their older pal Mike Clancy (who is filling the slot that would have been filled by Bernard Gorcey as Louie Dumbrowski of Louie’s Sweet Shop fame) when seedy real estate agent Henry sells Mike a “haunted” house that’s actually full of cash from a missing gangster. Henry’s character in RR, a young defense worker devoted to the patriotic cause, has just the right combination of boyish charm and naïve toughness, but the real star here—as happens so often in B-movies and serials—is the villain, a gangster named Tony Gilin, played by the great RICARDO CORTEZ, just out of jail, and now head of a tire-bootlegging operation. What’s that, you might ask? During WWII, rubber was needed for the war effort, so new tires could not be had easily, and even retreads became a scarce commodity. People would even buy a cheap used car just to get the tires (there’s a scene with just that happening here). What Cortez’s crooked crew would do is take bald tires, put a kind of ribbed wrap around them, and cover them with a new black sealant. They looked shiny and new from a distance, but were dangerous to drive on, which unfortunately is proven when Bill Henry’s girlfriend’s brother is killed in an accident due to the bad tires blowing out. This gets Henry and his gal (played by Rochelle Hudson) on the warpath, and they decide to track down who was responsible for making these tires, and the plot follows their steps in the investigation, eventually narrowing down to seedy used car lots owned by Gilin.

It’s a joy to watch Ricardo Cortez in action. A major star during the silent era (he was impressive in D.W. Griffith’s 1926 THE SORROWS OF SATAN), he continued as a leading man in the early sound era, and was Sam Spade in the original 1931 version of THE MALTESE FALCON. In the late 1930’s he directed a number of programmers, and then, as a number of silent leading men had done before him, re-invented himself as a character actor, specializing in heels and crooks (Chris reviewed the 1950 BUNCO SQUAD a while back, where he shined as the murderous head of a phony psychic racket, conning rich widows out of their money). As an ex-boxer, Cortez never lost his tough-guy edge, though as he’d also worked as a stockbroker before his acting career (and he eventually returned to Wall Street after retiring from acting), he knew how to project a classy image. That combination served him well in his post-leading man period as a villain.

The writer of RUBBER RACKETEERS certainly knew what gold he had in Cortez, and thus gives him many great lines and set-ups which surely would have gotten a laugh out of the wartime audiences. For instance, in the first part of the film, where Cortez’s Asian-American butler announces that he is enlisting in the Army, Cortez flashes an oily smile, congratulates him, slaps him on the back, and says, “everybody’s got to do their bit….and you’ll do mine!” The film is full of that kind of thing, as it should be when the top-billed actor is the bad guy….it’s Cortez people were paying to see. The skimpy Monogram Pictures sets usually work to the films’ advantage in crime films and mysteries, as they have a lived-in look to them, and that’s true here, as Cortez barks orders and makes under-handed deals all the while wearing a tailored suit in a way that makes me green with envy (when I wear a suit, it’s either too baggy, or too tight a la Oliver Hardy) and smokes cigarettes in a classy way, with curling smoke trails, that makes me want to go out and buy a pack of Camels and start the habit again (almost). Although Cortez’s demise near the film’s climax happens quickly, it echoes the way he killed someone else about 30 seconds before, and was surely satisfying to audiences. The film ends with the young couple on the front page of the newspaper after Cortez is killed, and we see a munitions factory with its smokestacks belching, no doubt working three shifts a day toward the war effort.

RUBBER RACKETEERS is in the public domain and can be found easily online. Like a great rock and roll record or crime comic book or YOURS TRULY, JOHNNY DOLLAR radio show, it hits all the right bases, has exactly the right tone and attitude, gets done quickly and efficiently what it needs to do, and leaves you wanting more.

Saturday, February 08, 2020

I really haven't had the chance this past year to go down inna basement where I keep my records in order to to dig out and hopefully enjoy all those rarities that I haven't played in a long time...if ever. Nor have I had a chance to go through all of those more "current" Cee-Dee-Ares that Bill Shute and Paul McGarry among(st) others have sent. But I have played a few recordings throughout 2019 that I would classify as being too big name and perhaps even downright "common" for the reg'lar blog posts, and as I have done these past few years I've decided to collect 'em all into one nice li'l package, send 'em off a few weeks after the carnage of the holidays has calmed down, and more or less take a week off (hah!) while you enjoy my opines regarding some spinners that I might have blabbed about many-a-time but only get to spin on those rare occasions when I do have more'n a few minutes of free time on my hands if not brain.


THE BEST OF IAN DURY CD-r burn

Remember when you thought that Dury, like labelmates Elvis Costello and Nick Lowe, was part of the bestest newest breed of rock sound to pop up on the Suburban Slob music appreciation meter in quite some time? Remember your utter disgust at the direction all three went into once the eighties started floppin' about and all of a sudden they, and a good portion of what was passing as the cutting edge of the previous few years, fell out of favor rather fast-like? Well, the eighties were a rather suckable decade considering that even our past godz like Lou and Iggy weren't exactly popping on all cylinders either, but give this package a listen and you'll remember what was so good about Dury before you remember just why these songs just didn't hit it once the stronger stuff began hitting your system. You might be surprised at their innovative and downright catchy nature, especially in lieu of what was bound to happen next...
***
JF Murphy and Free Flowing Salt-ALMOST HOME LP (MGM Records); JF MURPHY AND SALT LP (Elektra Records)

Got these for purely hysterectical reasons if only because these guys were the opening act for the Stooges during the latter's Max's Kansas City stay. Nothing Stoogian here whatsover what with Murphy's Irish singer-songwriter inclinations which are drowned out by a group that sure plays swell enough yet fails to break into any really deep and satisfying rock 'n roll moments. I was expecting a whole lot more from 'em if only on legend alone, but really what would ya expect from a group that was catering to the early-seventies college crowd with alla the bell bottoms, ironed hair and general mind-numbed musical appreciation that bunch was well know for?
***
CLIFTON CHENIER'S VERY BEST LP (Harvest, England)

Don't you think it is a whole lot better listening to classic down-home groove 'n get into it music on vinyl rather than Cee-Dee? While I'm at it, don't you kinda hate all that retro praise and thanksgiving that these olde tymey trailblazers get from the same sorta offal who woulda poo-poo'd at 'em back when these guys were young and upstarting in the music game? And FINALLY, don't you think that perhaps """""I""""" am one of those come-latelies who probably woulda been part of the nabobs o' negativity had I only knew about Chenier (or had been conscious enough, or alive for that matter) when he was playing his accordion-based rock 'n roll music way back in the good ol' days? Sheesh, yer probably right 'n don't let anybody tell ya different!
***

THE FIRST ANNUAL REPORT OF THROBBING GRISTLE CD (Thirsty Ear Records)

What was once consider the most extreme of this sonic stretching bunch now sounds rather driving and even positive in a life reasserting way. Remake/remodels of previous rock 'n roll triumphs you thought went out with the Stooges churn on in electronic splendor with the sonic escapades of Genesis P. et. al. soaring on in ways that woulda made John Cage wish he became a plumber. Play this one for yer avant garde dilettante art class friends and don't be surprised if you lose 'em fast!
***
Biff Rose-THE THORN IN MRS. ROSE'S SIDE LP (Tetragrammaton Records)

Not fantastico but pleasant enough singer/songwriter slop. If only because it goes down a whole lot smoother 'n the treacly and self-conscious Melanie and James Taylor poop that drenched the early-seventies. In other words, this might just pop your cylinders unless you're one of those unfortunate souls still stuck in that Quinlanesque youth miasma copped straight outta LUCAS TANNER. Rose manages to pull it all off with typical late-sixties commercial production and budding wimpmanship true, but for once the overall results really ain't that offensive on the lobes. If Elton John only had a sense of humor and was as straight as a 2 by 4 he coulda put out an album that sounded as good as this.
***
Magma-1.001 DEGREES CENTIGRADES CD (Seventh Records)

Following up on my current Magma neo-infatuation with their second platter, where we find Christian Vander and the rest still heavily into the jazz mode of the debut yet thankfully not as Chicago-y what with the Stravinsky influences firmly set in place. I really prefer the gothic fusion spew of Köhntarkösz, but this is a nice pathway to things that were to get even better. Found my copy of INEDITS which will get another look-see more later than sooner. Next stop...Mëkanïk  Dëstruktïẁ  Kömmandöh.
***
Love-DA CAPO LP (Elektra)

Maybe it ain't so funny that my first taste of Love didn't quite tingle my nerve-endings like ya know they shoulda! After all, there were many times in the past (as well as the present) when my third ear needed the wax cleaned outta it. But here at the dawn of a new decade ya gotta say that DA CAPO really does stand for everything that rock 'n roll NEEDS to stand for even tho the thing's dad blamed over fifty years old. Sure "Revelations" can't hold a candle to "Up In Her Room" but there's more to life than that, I think. Like the jazzy touches and harpsichord sashays, not to mention the boffo leadership of Arthur Lee through the whole deranged essence of it all.
***
THE GRATEFUL DEAD CD-r burn (originally on Rhino/WEA)

Hey, its a new version of the Dead's debut for alla you people who missed out on the first few thousand previous pressings. Keeping my usually anti-hippoid mindset outta it I must say that it comes across a whole lot better than the later efforts of theirs that I've heard, although it sure sounds tame next to various studio and live bootleg endeavors that capture 'em when they're really cooking, man. Bonus trax including a live "Viola Lee Blues" that goes on for nigh of twenty minutes (and it actually works out swell!) might be one way to get you staunchly non-San Fran types to actually dish out for a flesh and blood copy.
***
The Ventures-WALK DON'T RUN LP (Rumble Records)

I've seen many a Ventures album in the flea market bins of my youth, but I never saw this debut featuring the group's premier hit unless it happened to be stuck to the back of some Goodyear giveaway Christmas disc. Well here it is finally in my abode and I gotta say that this was about as much of a standard Ventures album as I could imagine. Talk about milking the same pattern for years on end an' gettin' away with it! There's nothing here that could be considered "over-the-top" as far as early-sixties instrumentalisms go, but WALK DON'T RUN does present some fairly good takes on the hits both by the Ventures and others done up like you would have expected a 1960 instrumental rock band to have. A nice slice of just what the early-sixties meant to a slew of suburban slobs who not only had music like these to enjoy but loads of fine tee-vee programming, fun food and a general disposition that'll all but been BANNED these sad 'n sorry days! Play this on some hot summer afternoon and you'll just want to get on your bike and head for the corner store to get some pop 'n chips I'll tell ya!
***
Christopher Milk-SOME PEOPLE WILL DRINK ANYTHING LP (Reprise Records)

I've been waiting to hear this one (on/off) for over thirty years, but now that I have I must admit that I have encountered the same creeping pangs of disappointment that just about every reviewer of this platter has documented o'er the decades. The EP was such a concise distillation of early-seventies artsy pop in the post-Beatles/Move/pre-Sparks mode --- this album flops about with the listenable tracks overshadowed by the missed opportunities and weak stabs at humor (see "The Locomotion"). Mogen David and the Winos did this type of retrosplash a whole lot better and w/o the major label backing t' boot. Sandy Robertson, a chap whose opines I usually cherish, likes this a whole lot even comparing 'em to the sainted Dictators, but then again he likes Helen Reddy so I really dunno...
***
M. Bulteau-RINCURES CD (Fractal Records, France)

Pulled outta the pile for that once-in-a-decade (if lucky) play. The former Mahogany Brain leader sounds much older and morose as Jean-Francois Pauvros and Ernie Brooks provide electronic musical backing. Reminds me of that especially atonal early Patti Smith sampling of poetry with music that really turned my head when it was made available in the early-nineties. If you're expecting the out-of-time sound of Mahogany Brain you will be disappointed but as far as a sequel to it all well, Bulteau does fare a whole lot better'n what former world savers like Lou Reed and Iggy Pop ended up doing once they began to grow old and drugs bolstered their egos beyond repair.
***
Suicide-ATTEMPTED : LIVE AT MAX'S KANSAS CITY 1980 CD (Sympathy For The Record Industry Records)

Suicide's final stand at Max's actually comes off way more gnarled than I remembered what with the overdrive chug, the radical "Frankie Teardrop" rewrite and a whole lotta local thugs joining in with Alan Vega on vocals. There actually is an air of underlying hostility here that separates this from those Suicide live shows which just don't click, and with the thankfully plentiful recordings out there this 'un stands out not only for the power it exudes but as a testimonial to a rock shrine with less than two years to live. Funny moment: when someone calls out for Von Lmo and Vega replies "Please"...the funny part being that Von Lmo wasn't even on the bill that night!
***
The Beach Boys-LOST AND FOUND LP (Sundazed Records)

How many time and how many reissues did you see these early Beach Boys tracks popping up in all sorts of bins during your growing up days? Well, ya gotta credit Sundazed for getting hold of the masters and finding a few outtakes and such to come up with a package that really gives these embryonic efforts the treatment they deserve! If I were you I'd keep alla those "X" label reissues of the seventies and Kenny and the Cadets "Barbie" singles that you've treasured for many a year, but if you wanna hear these classic sides all in one neat li'l package coupled with informative non-fannish liner notes you couldn't do worse that snatch this 'un up. And I know you HAVE done worse, so don't make the same mistake twice!
***
Dredd Foole and the Din-EAT MY DUST, CLEANSE MY SOUL CD-r burn (originally on Homestead Records)

I've been spinnin' plenty eighties-era Foole as of late and I've spilled enough seed about 'em in a recent "Singles Going Stroonad" column that might or might not have seen the light of day by this time this New Year effort pops up way later than it should have. But that won't get inna way of me raving about Dan Ireton and his efforts to keep the true spirit of underground seventies rock alive, at least to the best of his abilities which is really saying something!

This early effort fits in with the rest of the early Din sound and feel rather tightly. Although this was recorded live in the studio EAT MY DUST, CLEANSE MY SOUL reportedly does not capture the total energy of what the Din were able to create, but it does hit some hard-edged mid-seventies references that keep reminding me (on the thinnest of tangents I will admit) of Richard Nolan's Third Rail, a subject that also comes up in that aforementioned singles column. Dredd Foole's vocals remind me of the early atonal bellowing of Crocus Behemoth which is fitting considering the kind of late-sixties metallic rehash both the Din and early Pere Ubu were dabbling in, plus the band roars on like just about any (pick ten) early homages to the rock cataclysm 1969-1970 you could care to come up with all trash-compacted into a fierce roar that gave the mid-eighties a reason to crawl on.

It was stuff like Dredd Foole that helped make the classic seventies under-the-underground linger on long after most of its practitioners had softened up and if it weren't for them well, I guess you do have your Lou Miami records to console you, you sweet thing you! I do hope that some musical entrepreneur reading this gets the idea and reissues a whole slew of early Dredd Foole, and at least does it while those who would appreciate his rock 'n roll approach still have ears to appreciate it with!
***
The Grateful Dead-WAKE OF THE FLOOD CD-r burn (Rhino/WEA Records)

It's a good thing Bill Shute isn't doing this review. He has a really great story about somethingorother that happened in his life/kinda sorta that revolves around this album. Really woulda made one of those good extended neoautobiographical stories that Bill so loves to tell us. Well Bill, I ain't lettin' ya steal any thunder (or even a piddling Spring rainfall) from me THIS time!

Maybe I have been way too harsh on the entire Dead reason for existence these past fortysome years, but at least I do admit when some things like that multi-overdubbed and reshaped "Dark Star" set or those garage band-y 1965 demos actually sound way decent to me. However this early-seventies effort is one reason why I loathed what these guys had stood for and continue to for that matter, with music that you have to wait for to get "started" and it never does, just wallowing around in the air before dissipating like a fart in a strong gust of wind.

It's like you're halfway through "Weather Report Suite" f'rexample and you're wondering just what the purpose and meaning regarding the song's entire reason and excuse for existence is. Perhaps the recent relaxations of various marijuana laws will help alter my outlook regarding the Dead, but did you see how much those candies are goin' for these days?

I can stomach the Dead when they would do a ten-minute version of "Good Lovin'" or "Dancing in the Streets" back 1967 way. I can even sit back and read an old issue of ZIGZAG when I spin some '68 doodle that goes from song to song back to the original song showin' off some free jazz influences somewhere in the mix. But really, something like WAKE OF THE FLOOD just shows how dissipated and lacking in spirit a group that coulda broken on to the other side a la the Velvet Underground or Seeds could get once the drugs and the press hype really got to 'em. The fact that this group could have spawned such a huge international following and set the course for musical development for a longer than expected time really does stand to show just how sad a state "official" rock history had become to the point it could never be repaired. As I said once before "forget it, your last chance was OVER forty years ago!"
***
Wotta way to end a year---the Dead---sheesh!

Thursday, February 06, 2020

BOOK REVIEW! THE BEST OF PUNK MAGAZINE, EDITED BY JOHN HOLMSTROM AND BRIDGET HURD, WITH A FOREWORD BY DEBORAH HARRY AND CHRIS STEIN (Dey Street, 2012)

Lemme tell ya, inna world of rock 'n roll there were fanzines, and there were FANZINES!!! 

Now in my humble opinion all fanzines might not be equal, but some fanzines shine forth via their abilities to do what they could with their budgets and their own imaginations and if the results are a cheaply-produced yet spirited crudzine that delivered on the goods (like say TEENAGE RAMPAGE did) then well, something along those lines surely surpasses a well-crafted yet dry fanmag the kind you saw PLENTY of back during the days when any pouting youth with an anti-establishment (hah!) rage and a trust fund could put out a 'zine (to many, they weren't "fanzines" any mo' since a term like that conjured up an image of a buncha teenage boys slapping something together onna kitchen table and like, we're more sophisticated than that!) that had about as much spirit to it as THE MORNING FARM REPORT. Maybe money can't buy you love, but it sure can buy PRETENSION!!!!

But there were some pretty good fanzines out inna seventies that kept cranking out the good and hard news and on a regular basis at that (a fairly regular one at that given how many past-deadlines and money crunches these things tended to go through). These fanzines surprisingly enough boasted a remarkably high quality that rarely if ever slipped o'er the course of their usually limited lifespans. In the early-seventies the French PARAPLUIE, a publication which I have written about previously on this blog, came off like a combo underground radical rah-rah and a proto-NEW YORK ROCKER promoter of the rock avant garde to the point where even J.D. Martignon contributed a New York scene roundup akin to the one he later had in FEELING, another Gallic fanzine of excellent quality. (And while we're talking French fanzines who out there could ignore such efforts as ANNIE AIME LES SUCETTES, I WANNA BE YOUR DOG or ROCK NEWS INTERNATIONAL for that matter!). In the USA there was THE NEW YORK ROCKER whose early issues had that MIDNIGHT-styled tabloid approach down pat even though they seemed to flounder off on all sorts of tangents once the eighties clocked in, the mode of the music changed in directions nobody really could have predicted, and the staff decided to sacrifice a good portion of local and deserving rock acts in favor of the latest flashes that were just about as ultimately boring as the music the mag railed against for quite a long run.

But THE ROCKER was a prime example of a fanzine that could run on a large budget and get issues out on a fairly regular basis boasting a large press run and decent circulation. I'm sure that their success is what led to the creation of similar minded rags that could deal with local and counter-counterculture musics of a particularly post-Velvet Underground-ish nature. SLASH was one such endeavor and SEARCH AND DESTROY fit in there somewhat even if it was run by a bunch of art dilettantes. DAMAGE perhaps less so, and although the concept of big-budget high-circulation fanzines seemed to come to a sad and sorry end during the eighties (and really, don't you think that MAXIMUM ROCKNROLL woulda been better with the radical raves toned way down and a concentration on the title's mission statement boosted way up?) I gotta say that these seventies-era efforts are something that still make for fine rock 'n roll reading which you just couldn't find in any mainstream publication not only then but especially now!

Anyway it took me a good nine years to get this huge hard-covered collection of  the "best" of PUNK magazine (the NYC one from the mid/late-seventies, not the 1974-vintage Buffalo one that coulda been just as good of an extendo neo-pro fanzine as THE SHAKIN' STREET GAZETTE or FOXTROT had it developed a bit) because hey, I ain't made outta moolah like many of you less perceptive readers make me out to be. Besides I already had an earlier softcover tribute to the mag which I thought woulda been fine enough to keep me well and happy, but the idea of having a collection of the entire PUNK run under one cover did seem appealing enough considering the missing gaps that do exist in my fanzine collection stationed in what used to be my fart-encrusted bedroom (I moved up inna word and now sleep on the new reclining chair stationed in the tee-vee room!).

So dish out I did and as you'd expect the emotions are even more mixed 'n the time when my dog Sam was howling away at me for some perceived notion or another (perhaps due to the fact that I beat him up a lot) and I grabbed a banana from the kitchen counter and began eating it during his tirade and he didn't know whether to bark or beg that's how conflicted he was!

Well, you can say that I WAS kinda stomach-gurgled when I discovered that this indeed was more of an "anthology", yet another "best of" as they say, of that venerable rag. I sure was hopin' that this would be like a complete bound-like collection of each and every page from that mag from beginning to end with alla the things kept nice and intact for us in the here and now, sorta like the recent RIPPED AND TORN as well as DENIM DELINQUENT books that are proudly hidden in a few piles of books here in the abode. Nada like that is to be found what with huge patches from the originals missing and even things I woulda sworn woulda been "best of" material unceremoniously tossed aside. No interview with Sluggo pops up, and I guess that the review of METAL MACHINE MUSIC will have to wait for a future PUNK collection because it sure ain't here! Shee-yucks, and there are a whole slew of comics that have gone missing as well making me wonder exactly what editor John Holmstrom was thinkin' when he slapped this thing together.

It couldn't be that he didn't want to "upset" that special breed of homo superior (make that homo erectus...more fitting!) who complain about every slight against their precious petunia existence while battering the living daylights outta anyone who comes their way. After all, enough of that ALREADY appears in this collection and especially in these sorry times what has been deemed suitable enough for modern day consumption (yech!) is already bad taste enough to get those sensitive souls to do an ACT UP-styled rampage right in front of Holmstrom's very abode! But anti-PC or not, we wouldn't want anything like that to happen to the man, right?

But even with the somewhat glaring omissions there's still there's enough good classic PUNK here for any proud suburban slob to devour. The interviews are a howl especially in the way where the subjects really let loose and tell ya what they think of the competition (and lemme tell ya, there was no hand-in-hand brotherhood among the punk crowd which I think is GREAT!), while the standard stories, sagas and cartoons kinda make these mags look like a three-way splodge of HELP!, NATIONAL LAMPOON and early CREEM the way all of those holy and sanctified liberal notions of the fifties and sixties are tossed right out the window landing straight into a nice pile of turds. And the visual surprises are plenty as well...gals, if you always drooled over the thought of seeing a snap of R. Meltzer posing seductively in his shower well NOW'S YOUR CHANCE!!!

The flippancy also puts a smile to my fractured face especially given how much ya know stuff like this'll "offend" the same offenders of people like myself, totally deviant types who surely do deserve that lit stick of dynamite shoved up whatever orifice is handy available. Yes, all of those people we used to think of as CREEPS yet are now lionized with capitalistic push behind 'em get the PUNK treatment and get it good, and after years of being hammered by these same bastions of "morality" for my own proper if not mainstream anymore opines lemme tell ya it sure feels GREAT seein' 'em get the short end of the turd for once!

Best of all amid the definitely non-pious portrayal of downright jerks and scammers who have plagued normal people for ages you'll read and see shards of obscure and heretofore forgotten yet important rock information that you never thought you'd know about before! Y'know, things you probably could not care one whit about yet fit into that jigsaw that retentives like myself have been piecing together for decades on end. Didja know that PUNK mascot Legs O'Neill actually worked lights for the Honolulu-transplanted-to-New York psychedelic rock/acting troupe group Theatre of Madness (they were "thee" act to get if Hendrix or the Dead were playing though once they moved to NYC the Theatre pretty much ended their career at CBGB before somewhat coming back to life heavily remodeled as Startoon---there just might be a parable in there somewhere)??? Or that Peter Criss once sat in on drums when local heavy metallics Riot were playin' at Club 82, Criss destroying all of the cymbals in the process? And yes, that is Hackamore Brick's own Tommy Moonlight inna background playing piano in the "Nick Danger" fumetti which goes to show you there's a whole lot more of this ephemera out there than we ever knew existed!

Holmstrom's own personal stories behind PUNK, along with the rare and unpublished snaps and artwork that didn't make the final cut, really do round this more rock than THE ROLLING STONE COMPLETE HISTORY OF JANN WENNER CONTRADICTING HIS WRITERS ever could. Holmstrom really does give us the down and dirty inside saga which reads as free flowing and as engrossing as your favorite non-fiction, and thankfully he names and re-names people, perhaps not enough, in his bid to SET THE RECORD STRAIGHT as to what really happened and was said and not via the mouths of hateful jerks who have axes to grind probably weren't even there. You might shudder, you might faint, but as the old moom pitcher come on said THESE ARE THE FACTS OF LIFE!!!!!

Especially eye opening is the Lester Bangs connection which weaves in and out of PUNK's own saga revealing certain...er...eccentricities about the guy that I never knew about before and probably wish I didn't know about at all. Bangs' behavior as recounted here seems somewhat true to form what with him liking and then almost suddenly rejecting the PUNK ethos (before liking and hating it again!) pretty much in the same fashion as when he'd say groups like the MC5 and Suicide were turdburgers before miraculously changing his opinion. Perhaps even you recall the times when Bangs would champion everyone from Lou Reed and Nico to Wayne McGuire before turning extremely acrimonious usually due to some personality flaw, on Bangs' part that is. Well, if that's the Lester Bangs that comes to your mind you'll be more'n interested in giving this book a go!

Lou Reed told Holmstrom to watch out for Bangs and what eventually happened between the two did bear Reed's warning out, first with Bangs writing a defense of Handsome Dick Manitoba after the infamous Wayne County brouhaha then suddenly wanting it suppressed in fear of "The Gay Mafia" (after all, he was moving to New York and wanted to be able to work there without that stigma of Political Incorrectness which ruined many a righteous type). A few years later the famed rockscribe struck again, and once again in a definitely career-shattering way, with the legendary "White Noise Supremacists" piece in THE VILLAGE VOICE which ultimately was just a nice BIG and grossly unsubstantiated dig at some locals (including the staff of PUNK magazine) who Bangs had some beef with that might have been exacerbated by Bangs' then-recent foray into opiates. I shouldn't have to tell you that the entire incident was egged on by none other than Robert Christgau who was then still firmly ensconced as that Great Big Opinion Maker who could ruin people's lives just for the mere pleasure of it! Sheesh, don't you wish you had that kind of power?

Maybe I shouldn't get into it as much as I'd like to. Jim Marshall said enough about that sordid episode a long time back on his late and lamented HOUND BLOG, but maybe I will add this little addendum so-to-speak. The "White Noise Supremacists" episode, along with a few other unfortunate bits of spittle ranging from punk rock as an entity getting a bad image after the Sid Vicious/Nancy Spungen affair to a printer reneging on a signed contract, pretty much put PUNK magazine unexpectedly right outta biz 'n at a time when it sure had a lot more quality rockspeak to offer us. Sheesh, those downright LIBELOUS comments, especially when spouted from the mouths and minds of some rather powerful if downright chickenshit types, can really do a relatively innocent feller in as I should know (and like, I sure yearn for that kind of power in order to dish some back!). And although I've been told it was a long time ago and I should forget it (which might be like telling the Irish to forget the potato famine) I just can't drop my own similar happenstance outta my own bean because things like this can really not only wipe out a guy's chances to succeed somewhat with his life mission (and I do mean that!) but it sure takes a lotta the wind outta his sails to the point where he figures WHY??? Reading about Holmstrom's own travails sure does dredge up a lotta the bad memories in me regarding the chortles of a few downright evil souls out there, although I will admit that Holmstrom had way more at stake to lose and put in way more to his publication than my measly efforts could ever come up with and for that I SALUTE HIM like the Fourth of July! An' I do mean it!!!!

Maybe you should too...I think its' remaindered so check your local Goodwill.