Tuesday, February 21, 2017

MAGAZINE REVIEW BY BILL SHUTE! TRUE FRONTIER (March 1968)

We love knock-offs here at BTC. From the PRC films of the GAS HOUSE KIDS (rip-offs of THE BOWERY BOYS), to the knock-off versions of popular perfumes and colognes found at dollar stores with ever-so-similar names to the originals, to those “Beatles albums” (see pic) with four of the Hamburg tracks backing Tony Sheridan and eight unrelated tracks by other artists...to the “mock-buster” films produced by The Asylum which are low-budget, quickly-made features with similar titles (but far enough away to avoid a lawsuit) to big-budget studio epics, hoping to cash-in on the other film’s fame, and usually the knock-offs wind up being far more entertaining than the originals, with a wit and a lack of pretension that the originals could have used! Yes, it’s a great American tradition and one that rarely gets the tribute that it deserves. After all, it requires a good amount of cleverness and creativity (and chutzpah!) to imitate something, keep enough difference from the original to stay out of court, and eventually create something which is of value in itself.

In the world of Western History popular magazines, the two dominant brands were TRUE WEST and FRONTIER TIMES. With circulations of 200,000+ during their respective heydays, they offered a wide variety of popular-history articles: stories of various Old West towns and settlements, journals kept by those on the frontier, legends of hidden treasure and gold, life histories of lawmen or in-depth studies of particular cases, narratives of homesteading and ranching, stories of Native American culture and their interactions with settlers, and the biggest draw of all, sensationalized “imaginative histories” of outlaws both famous and obscure. A picture of Jesse James on the front of such a magazine is the same kind of bait for the western reader that a pic of the newest celebrity-of-the-month is for PEOPLE magazine. There was a kind of “family” feel to both magazines, and publisher Joe “Hosstail” Small always had a significant presence in the magazine, doing a regular column, talking about upcoming stories he was editing or commissioning, talking about the responsibilities of running a magazine, responding to readers’ letters, etc. He seemed like that colorful uncle you loved but didn’t get to see as often as you should. You also got the sense that you could call him up, if you had his number, and shoot the bull with him, and he’d probably be happy to hear from you....and then entertain you with an hour of anecdotes which you’d then tell others for the next forty years. He was a good ole boy, in the best sense of that term--a raconteur, a larger-than-life presence. I always enjoyed him, and even at this late date (he sold the magazines to someone else in 1979 and passed away in 1994) I still miss him as if he’d been a personal friend.

A circulation of 200,000 is nothing to sneeze at, so perhaps it was inevitable that someone would come along and want to take a piece of that market with a similarly-titled knock-off. There were a lot of amateur historians of the West and people who collected western artifacts and ephemera who would enjoy writing articles to share their discoveries and collections, probably a lot more than could ever be published in TW and FT (and of course, a home was needed for the articles rejected by those magazines), so a steady flow of copy could probably be guaranteed. Also, I remember hungering for a new issue of TW and FT before the next one would come out, and I’m sure others did too, so if even ¼ of those who bought TW/FT would buy the knock-off, you’d have a very successful mag which could perhaps then grow its own audience. Who knows....with the vagaries of magazine distribution, the knock-off could probably wind up being sold at outlets which did not stock the original.

Now....what to call the imitation. Hmmmmm.....you had TRUE WEST and FRONTIER TIMES....how about FRONTIER WEST? No, that sounds repetitive. TRUE FRONTIER? That’s it! It echoes both titles and sounds appealing on its own. You couldn’t get sued over it, either (there was also a knock-off called REAL WEST, but we can discuss that some other time).

Issue #1 of TRUE FRONTIER appeared in 1967, and the latest issue I can find online reference to appeared in 1978, by which time the western magazine market had declined. Still, 11 years of bi-monthly issues is a pretty good run.

Growing up in Golden, Colorado, in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, I did not have to go far to find ghost towns, abandoned old-west buildings, etc. I can remember as a youngster sitting in (or at the front of) abandoned buildings in a ghost town and trying to soak up the vibes and imagining what might have gone on there on a typical day in the 1890’s or whenever. Also, I grew up watching the poverty row indie westerns of the 1930’s, the kind which starred people like Buddy Roosevelt or Reb Russell or Bill Cody or Jack Perrin (see poster) or Bob Custer, and those tended to be shot at existing locations, and those locations tended to be similar kinds of run-down and/or abandoned western-looking buildings within a few hours drive of Los Angeles. You could still find semi-active small towns of that sort in the early 1930’s. So I grew up seeing B-western scenarios being acted out by cowpokes who’d gravitated toward Gower Gulch and low-budget western films, shot on locations similar to the old buildings I’d seen on so many occasions in the mountain counties on the eastern slope of the continental divide. You can imagine how my young imagination flourished in such an environment, and how these western magazines could fuel that flame.

To give you an idea of how I used to fantasize about the frontier....as a child of 10 or 11, I wrote to the tourism offices in Canada’s Yukon and Northwest Territories, explaining that I was hoping to come up on vacation with my family (I did not state that I was the CHILD in the family....I’d figured they’d assume I was the adult WITH the family) and asking for travel info. I received kind letters from the persons at the tourism offices up there (I’m guessing they did not get too many such inquiries, so they were probably happy to hear from anyone) along with maps, brochures, thick magazines that told about what was happening in each small town, etc. I was very excited by these and dreamed about homesteading in the Yukon, with images in my mind undoubtedly taken from the low-budget 1930’s Kermit Maynard films where he played a Mountie.

Coincidentally, the issue of TRUE FRONTIER under review actually includes a VERY long article (which is part one of a multi-part series) “Exploring The Upper Yukon,” taken from the journal of an army lieutenant who went on an expedition through that country in 1883 and kept a detailed log.

Take a look at the front cover of this March 1968 issue of TRUE FRONTIER. It pretty much pushes all the buttons of the western magazine fan. You’ve got someone in a buckskin shirt shooting a buffalo--there is a sensationalistic Jesse James headline at the top of the page, calling out to you--the legendary Doolin outlaw gang are involved in a shoot-out--there’s a hidden treasure story--there’s a novelty story about a tough, cigar-smoking woman gambler who beat the men at their own game. And it’s 66 full pages of three-columned small print, so there’s a LOT to keep you occupied. Did Jesse James REALLY attend his own funeral? My inquiring mind wants to know! How could you NOT spend 35 cents on that when you are already buying things at your local market. Heck, that’s pocket change!

Those of you who know me know that I enjoy taking my yearly vacation in small towns in the South and the Midwest (I live in South Texas) and I enjoy visiting old buildings, historic homes, tiny local museums devoted to local culture and artifacts, etc. The thrill of being IN these places is not unlike the thrill I get from vintage music. I hear a scratchy jazz 78 from Kansas City 1928, and I’m there in my imagination. I hear some small-label rockabilly 45 from Memphis 1956, and I’m walking those same streets as Billy Lee Riley or Eddie Bond.

When I was in New Iberia Louisiana last year (the home of the great early Jazz trumpeter Bunk Johnson), I had the privilege of visiting the Conrad Rice Mill, dating from the late 1800’s and still operational. I visited on a weekday before noon, so when I requested a tour, I was the only one there, and when the lady giving the tour could sense how interested I was in the specifics of the operation, based on my questions and the way she saw me observing, she shared a lot of its history and day-to-day operational details with me and slowed down the usual tour quite a bit, taking a lot of time. They have kept the facility the way it was in the early-to-mid 20th Century and thus were given a Historic Building designation. This grandfathers them on some OSHA requirements, but at the same time they have to keep the original technology to keep the historic designation, so this thriving company, whose products are available at stores everywhere here in Texas and Louisiana, must run the rice mill in the OLD way yet still remain competitive in today’s marketplace. That tour was another window into the past, the kind of thing I enjoy when traveling. In the decades between Bunk’s initial career as a musician as a young man and then his re-discovery as a relatively old man, among his many jobs in New Iberia was as a truck driver for a rice mill--so I would imagine Bunk backing his rickety 1930’s truck up to the same grain elevator I was standing next to, and somehow I had an even stronger connection to him than the strong connection I’d gotten from decades of listening to his trumpet playing, this man whose playing was rooted in an age even earlier than, say, King Oliver or Freddie Keppard, a man who’d actually played with Buddy Bolden.

An old historic house in some small town, dating from the 1800’s and with the original furnishings, somehow captures the spirit of the people who lived there 100+ years ago. When I see spread out on the bed the actual quilt someone slept with every night for decades, when I see the flour containers and pie tins from their home cooking, when I see the worn-down sections of the carpet from their walking from room to room for decades, when I see the old sheet music near the piano in the parlor and think of the popular songs of the day which they played and sang along with to keep themselves entertained in that pre-radio age----all that provides me a link with the past, a link so strong that I can almost take its hand and form a kind of continuity with the past, with the people who died long before I was born, and somehow have an overlap between my daily life and their daily lives. In today’s world full of hucksters and asshole tech billionaires and war profiteers and robber barons who drink overpriced soy-milk lattes, drive BMW’s, eat fifteen dollar appetizers at trendy bistros, and have never worked a minimum-wage job (or who have forgotten their roots if they did), a link with REAL people in the past who lived happy and fulfilled lives yet who made it through struggles which would kill so many people today, people from a period without air conditioning or the internet, provides a satisfying “grounding” for me. It provides me a bridge to the past, and perhaps I in my own small way can then provide such a bridge to some fellow seeker from the future.

TRUE FRONTIER may be a knock-off, and something which sits for years with a 50 cent sticker in a junk store or flea market--not wanted by collectors of TRUE WEST or FRONTIER TIMES, unwanted by comic book collectors, and not really “collectible” in any way--but through our imaginations and our window into the past, it’s cheap and fulfilling entertainment that’s informative and provides us a useful contrast with today, a contrast that can provide the distance and perspective we need to view our present selves with detachment and objectivity.

Yes, even at the time, I knew on some level that TRUE FRONTIER was not really as good as what it was imitating--it lacked a certain something. If you’ve ever seen the SHAFT TV movies, made after the feature films, they were solid TV-movie crime shows, and of course, Richard Roundtree--the original Shaft--was as cool as ever. But they were not the movies. Alas, they weren’t making any more of the theatrical SHAFT films in the old style, so the TV movies would have to do, and there was a lot that was good about them--they just weren’t the real thing. The same goes for TRUE FRONTIER.

Maybe it’s like a Coca-Cola Classic (or better yet, a Mexican Coke in the bottle) versus a store brand cola.

The Coke is better by any standard, but when it’s 100 degrees out and you just mowed the lawn, and the store brand cola is ice-cold and ready to drink, it does the job just fine, and you aren’t making nit-picky complaints that it isn’t the real thing, are you...It’s wet, it’s carbonated, it’s cold, it tastes vaguely like cola, and you’re thirsty.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

As the Monkees once said (actually Mike Nesmith)...so how's by you? As for how's by me well, I'm havin' a fun time here at BLOG TO COMM central listenin' to loads of music and generally engaging in tons of sinful pleasure, which for me is plowing through old BEETLE BAILEY paperbacks (the same box of 'em I got a few months back!) not to forget the occasional MAD collection of yore. You may think it's nothing but evil sloth that I'm engagin' in, but I say it's just me living up to my calling as a proud suburban slob and you better believe that I'm doing the best to honor my heritage!

Since this was a slow week, and you don't want to hear about the, uh, grittier aspects of what was goin' on like the insidious toilet float caper or my befuddlement over the instructions for the new paper shredder, let's just get down to the true reason for the treason, mainly the following record and cee-dee reviews!

GR-PROPEL TENSION ON POLYESTER BASE LP (Tapes Archives...available here)

This Gregory Raimo fellow's come up with another hot top notch winner with this album featuring nothing but music performed by him and him alone! I know what you're thinking, that this is probably one of those jagoffs where some guy struts out alla his classical edjucashum and shows it off for all to see, but Raimo ain't one of those post-hip Todd Rundgren types at all for this record is (really!) a hard-edged "experimental" rock album that won't let you down one bit!

Some of the tracks sound like those old Bruce Anderson solo tapes he was pittin' out back inna eighties, while others have a bit of the This Heat late-seventies experimental electronic feel that really knew how to fray them nerve endings. But no matter if GR's doing the hard-rock instrumental or avant garde trips he's doin' 'em well, and I can't think of many (if any) down sides to this particular outing which thankfully retains that home-production flat sound that sounds oh-so great in these digital doodle days.

If you're still enthralled by some of those better cassette culture home-cooked offerings that were so prevalent in the eighties this might bring back a few fond memories of tape jams and dropouts. Only I somehow doubt it because well...it's good ol' vinyl here and all you'll have to worry about are skips!
***
Wally Tax-LOVE IN CD-r burn (originally on Philips, the Netherlands)

Would you have ever thought that the (Dutch) Outsiders' lead singer Wally Tax would have done a soft rock middle-of-the-somethingorother album that certainly would have not appealed to the hard rockin' Pretty Things kinda guys who made up his fan base? Me neither, but he, just like Sonny Geraci who sang with the Amerigan group with the same moniker, went slo-mo teenage gals and middle aged men tryin' t' be hip on this particular album that sounds like it was recorded with Bert Kaempfert rejects during their off hours from the local army base club. Lousy late-sixties cling onto alla the tropes available music here with Tax doin' his vocalizin' through a megaphone (or so it sounds), but one thing I would REALLY like to know is...does Tax actually sing "your teats can make a grown man cry" or something very similar on track #2, "Let's Forget What I Said"???
***
Various Artists-THE BEST OF ROCKABILLY INSTRUMENTALS VOL. 2 (Folkline Entertainment Ltd., England)

The title's kinda misleadin' since a good portion of these platters really don't fall into the "rockabilly" category, but if you're a fan of the late-fifties/early-sixties rock instrumental like I am this one should do ya just fine. Of course a good portion of bonafeed chart toppers like "Rumble", "Red River Rock", "Last Date" and "Green Mosquito" show up and for the love of me I never even heard of Rex Qual or Dorothy Donegal (and to be really nit-picky about it, how in the world does an instrumental version of "When a Man Loves a Woman" get classified as "rockabilly"???), but the track selection is top notch for those of you who don't look your noses down at those "backwards" days when women/African Americans/gays/left-handed herniated Hopi Indians were being oppressed from here to Bizoo and back (don't laff---some wag actually accused me of lovin' them days just because of that!). If this happened to be some 1981 flea market find stuck in the old album racks you'd bet I'd be snatching this 'un up faster'n that woman who broke some nylon zipper on a pair of pants skedaddled after the peddler caught her.
***
Kazutoki Umezu/Seikatsu Kojyo-IINKAI CD-r burn

Dunno any other whys.wherefores of this particular album, but as far as free jazz rarities go this might be one of the tippy tip top of the iceberg. Alto saxist Kazutoki "Kappo" Umezu and pianist/bass clarinetist Yorituki Harada are joined by some of the hottest loft/free players from the En Why See scene on this '75 session that once again proves the fruitility
of what was happening in the avant world during those times. Hot playing from such familiar names as Rashid Shinan (always thought that was "Sinan") and William Parker merges pretty well with these Japanese visitors proving that if jazz is a universal language then many uninformed listeners'll need more'n Berlitz to figure out what's goin' on here. Definitely worth the engine searches you'll need to pull this one up.
***
Mandell Kramer in YOUR'S TRULY, JOHNNY DOLLAR CD-r burn

Sure he ain't Bob Bailey, but Mandell Kramer does a really good Johnny Dollar on these early-sixties radio dramas which rank amongst the last of this particular breed, not counting various revivals which were more nostalgic rehash'n anything. It's kinda strange to think that these kinda shows were still goin' on as late as '62 but they were, and if that is the case this series helped bring the genre to a hotcha end with two great episodes, one dealing with the pilfering of a rare painting and the other these two lookalike guys who years after the fact are kinda/sorta involved in a new insurance payoff scheme, one involuntarily. As they used to say, your mind is the only visual theatre to contend with, and hopefully the stage hands won't go out on strike!
***
The Staccatos-INITIALLY CD-r burn (originally on Capitol Canada)

These are the same guys who later on became the Five Man Electrical Band and had a socially relevant chart topper called "Signs" back '71 way. But back inna sixties these Staccatos weren't into the hip youth plight groove yet, preferring to crank out soft rock that was too raucous for the old folks but too tame for the Rolling Stones crowd. And they sure did a good job of it producing material that some could call "wimp rock" yet doing a good enough job with their chosen style to the point where you don't feel like flicking it off. Sunshine-y pop numbers abound, including a cover of Steve Stills via the Mojo Men's "Sit Down I Think I Love You" slushed up for maximum adolescent girl schmooze effect.
***
A TRIBUTE TO LEX BARKER---63 TRACKS IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER CD-r burn

I mean, WHO ELSE but #1 Lex Barker fan inna world Bill Shute would even think of compiling various brief soundclips of Barker dialogue and slapping it on a disque totaling a little over six minutes anyway??? You try to guess which moom pitchers these dialog snips come from while the whiz by you faster'n Bill himself trailing down the street after an old issue of Charlton's DR. GRAVES that blew outta his mitts, and be surprised if you actually do recognize one or two of 'em! As for me, I think this woulda sounded grand if some noise-cut up act like Smegma got hold of it and added their variety of squeaky toys and oscillating whoops to the entire thing, but don't tell Bill I said that.
***
Various Artists-MIRROR FATTY SPINACH JUNGLE CD-r burn (Bill Shute)

This one has been moiling in the CD-r stack for quite some time so I thought it the right and proper thing to give the thing its proper spin before ignoring it for all eternity. As usual this is a super collection of rarities including (besides an obscure Wilson Pickett track) a great early-sixties garage thumpin' instrumental from the Pastels, good 'n fruity slush pop from Pinkerton's Assorted Colours, creepy cheap "song poems" from Johnny Williams, hot 'n lowbrow blues jazz from the Three Sounds and a whole load of things I'll think up about once I get to hear this (I am typing while the platter is playing, time saver I am and shall remain!). I doubt that the Spades here are """thee""" Spades of Roky fame (I also doubt they're the NYC group goin' under that name inna eighties!) but they sure play good late-fifties instrumental rock as do Shoestring, the Beas and of course Dick Dale. Pretty good selection ya got there Bill...do you take requests by any chance???

Thursday, February 16, 2017

MOOM PITCHER REVIEW! DR. MABUSE VS. SCOTLAND YARD starring Peter Van Eyck (Germany, 1963)

Yeah, I used to have the same feelings about furrin' films as you do, having been inundated with cheap English and French flickers on Sunday afternoon UHF tee-vee ever since I can recall (two that particularly stick out in my mind are the ones where some people escape to West Germany on a train that busts the barricade that was set up to stop it, and another where some Eyetalian youth with a gun shoots someone else and there's this cop going around asking the street urchins of Rome who they think it was), but dang if this one is pretty tops in and out of its own low-budget class.

I first encountered the DR. MABUSE films back when some of the Fritz Lang silents popped up on PBS in the late-seventies, and to be honest wasn't that thrilled about 'em they being so Teutonic cold and all to the point where Nico woulda come off like a warm electric blanket in comparison. However, this particular pelicula's one that I gotta admit really kept me glued to my seat, and no it wasn't because of the suction my rectum (in consortium with my crack) had created after eating all of those refried beans for dinner!

Yes the cagey criminal mastermind Mabuse didn't die in the previous flick at all, but is alive and well and out to gain control of the whole world (a thankless task!) with this new invention where a ray (usually in the form of a camera) zaps the will of whoever it is pointed at making them do all sorts of crazy things from bashing in the heads of unsuspecting scientists and hanging themselves instead of the condemned on the gallows. Its up to Peter Van Eyck to get to the bottom of this, and it does look as if the handsome leading man's gonna have his work cut out for him considering that not only a good portion of Scotland Yard is under Mabuse's spell but so is Van Eyck's own mother, an elderly lovable who seems to be in the film mostly for comedic relief sorta like Aunt Harriet on the old BATMAN tee-vee show.

And yeah, the film is action-packed 'cept for a few li'l luls and easy enough to follow even if you don't understand any of the German you see via signs or newspapers (guess at it like you did in German class!). There's nothing to lose here (especially your lunch) because it's all done top notch in that crank-out way we can all appreciate and the jazzy soundtrack keeps your heart pumpin' at a pretty fast pace that once again'll have you holdin' your bladder in, even if you know enough to put the dang machine on "pause" and go relieve yerself!

Oh yeah, and watch out for none other'n future cult figure and rather deranged individual Klaus Kinski as a police detective who gets zapped by the camera and attempts to trick Van Eyck and his partner into a pretty nasty murder-suicide!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

COMIC BOOK REVIEW BY BILL SHUTE! MYSTERY TALES #16 (Super Comics, 1964)

Here’s another marginal comic book from the I.W. Publications/Super Comics empire of outsider publisher Israel Waldman. We’ve discussed his operation (kind of like a comics equivalent a budget record label, one which re-issued in exploitative and deceptive manner older material which it may or may not have had full rights to release) in previous BTC reviews. I should point out that the release numbers (according to Toonopedia) of these Waldman comics are NOT indicative of how many issues of something have been released. This would not have been the 16th issue of MYSTERY TALES. Remember, IW/Super was re-issuing existing but forgotten comics under new names, and one of their Super Comics magazine titles could be used for material from various older source comics for which IW/Super had printing plates...so different issues of MYSTERY TALES might have been taken from different original comics. No, what “16” indicated was that it was in the 16th round of releases from IW/Super. They could start a new magazine title, and if the first issue came out around the time of their 16th round of releases, then it was issue #16. According to the Grand Comics Database, MYSTERY TALES had only 3 issues: 16, 17, and 18. I’m lucky enough to own all three.

Interestingly, while the IW/Super magazine contents were pillaged from earlier comics, the covers were often new, and often do NOT depict scenes from the story. I’ve read about how Waldman hired comics artists to draw new covers, but in some cases, he must have just given the artists the story title, and maybe a brief verbal synopsis, and not had them look at the actual story. In any event, he certainly had a gut feeling for what sells comic books to adolescents....just take a look at this cover. Can you imagine how excited a 12 or 13 year old would be with it? Why, this would look even more exciting than any of the 50’s sci-fi or horror movies they showed on the local UHF station on Saturday nights!

Fortunately, the stories deliver the goods...and then some. All the contents of this issue were lifted from a 1952 comic called TALES OF HORROR (see scan of that cover), undoubtedly influenced by TALES FROM THE CRYPT, which began in 1950, from the legendary EC Comics. TALES OF HORROR was published by the obscure indie Minoan Magazines initially, then seems to have been reissued two years later by Toby (by the way, I’d LOVE to own some issues of Toby’s JOHN WAYNE ADVENTURE COMICS, which ran 31 issues! I notice that some of that run has been re-issued by Golden Age Reprints--guess what I’ll be ordering next payday!). However, I can’t imagine anyone who bought this in 1964 (and they might well have bought it in 1966 or 1967, as Waldman did not date his comics, so they were never out-of-date and could continue to be sold) finding it dated, anymore than they’d complain in 1964 about a 50’s giant-insect sci-fi film being ‘dated.’

With this being an offering from IM/Super Comics, we should remember that no one would have paid full price for it. It would have been part of a cheap bagged multi-pack sold at a low-end department store, or the individual comics would have found their way into the discounted marketplace or sold with “used magazines,” which at one time were available in small neighborhood markets, off-brand gas stations, and the like. So kids would have paid a nickel or maybe 2-for-15 cents for this. Also, even today, most of the IM/Super Comics offerings can be gotten relatively cheaply, if you are willing to get an ungraded “reading copy” (as it’s called in the trade). I’ve seen this one online for as little as $2.

The budget-label record business model always relied upon quantity sales, and the “budget comics” model probably did too. As I’ve mentioned in previous reviews, the Charlton “Modern Comics” line of budget comics, sold in cheap multi-packs by low-end retailers and markets, were printed in large qualities, one reason why you can still get them cheap today. Why pay $6 for the Charlton copy of something when you can get the exact same comic with only minor revisions for a dollar or so in the “Modern” version.

The 50s were a Golden Age in horror comics in the TALES FROM THE CRYPT tradition, so it’s no surprise that every story here is a winner. The art style is functional enough to provide a kind of realism, but exaggerated and grotesque enough to provide a frightening horror experience....as much as, say, an AIP or Allied Artists 50’s sci-fi/horror B-movie would....and really, these kind of magazines (like crime comics) are pretty much delivering three or four mini-movies for the mind in each issue.

THE THING IN THE POOL has a creepy and mean home-builder who lusts after his secretary, but she announces she’s getting married to someone else and he flips out. However, once he regains his composure, he offers them a fancy, modernistic new home as a wedding present--one problem, though....that “thing” in the pool. THE HAND OF JAO TZE has a sleazy seaman in Asia who pretends to fall in love with a young lady whose father controls some ancient jewelry with spiritual significance, and of course, anyone who’s ever seen a MUMMY film knows where that’s headed. The only question is HOW the ancient spirits will get their revenge on this infidel. In THE RIPPER’S RETURN, there is a rest home where the patients are given some kind of potion--the kind you find only in comic books and horror movies--which makes them think and act like historical characters....Napoleon, Plato, etc. Unfortunately, one of them starts channeling Jack The Ripper. Finally, LOVE FOR A PLANT, the story depicted on the cover, offers a serious version of the murdering-plant set-up later used for LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS. In this one, a horticulturalist with a nagging, shrewish, overly-demanding wife starts to create a fantasy world in his hothouse and creates a plant which he comes to fall in love with....and let’s just say that eventually even the plant becomes a little too demanding.

If you have a taste for vintage comic books and for horror anthology TV shows (even something like the 1989-1996 TV version of TALES FROM THE CRYPT, which was aspiring to re-create this kind of model), give this a try. It’s perfect for a cold, rainy night....a few of the stories even have some variation on the crypt-keeper as a “host” in the first panel of each story, although that aspect is not really developed in this issue.

We love budget labels here at BTC....and we love budget comics too!

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Shee-yucks---we're only into February and boy am I dreadin' this new year more'n anything since the 1979-80 tee-vee season! Of course a lotta the dread is due to them ol' "real life" situations 'n all, (y'know---work??? as Maynard G. Krebs woulda said) but still the lack of any real stimuli to keep a feller such as I on the up 'n up is contributin' to the overall woe that has been encapsulatin' me these past few weeks. It's like, at this point in my rather sainted life, I really couldn't CARE about anything other'n tryin' to keep up my "status" as a blogger of renown which is why I keep doin' alla this "writin'" rather'n chuck the whole BLOG TO COMM concept out the ol' window. Well, it does keep me occupied the way tootsietoys did when I was three and NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC did when I was twelve.

But to add another dimension to my---I sure hope it ain't ennui---is that I am sorta jungered out given my general lack of pep, vim vigor and other old time breakfast cereals over what good there IS available out there. And that's a real bum-bum-bummer since these days I can afford a lotta the items that are being made available given that I'm a man of wealth and means and could buy out the penny candy store which had alla 'em goodies I wanted back when I was six, only it's probably all stale by now.

Take those hotcha LAST OF THE GARAGE PUNK UNKNOWNS platters that Crypt is now unleashing onna public this very moment...like, do you think that I'm savin' up the shekels and pining away like a teenage gal with the hots for Michael J. Pollard to get these particularly potent platters? No way---what woulda got me up and runnin' to sneak some twennys outta my dad's wallet a good thirtysome years back doesn't even make me wanna turn the used toilet paper to confetti in addled joy these days. You call it old age---I call it old age too.

Now it's obviouser 'n all heck that I'm more apt to plunk down the precious sheks on some old comic strip or book reprint title, but maybe that's just me getting back in touch with the happier portion of my youth. Either that or I never did escape the overwhelming influence that these comics (and more!) had on me back when I was still in the single digits and my emotional threads weren't quite as frayed as they are now. Besides, I gotta admit that reading these old DICK TRACY comics might be an entirely better option in life than listening to a good portion of the music being made anywhere these days, if only because Chester Gould never thought of his creation as being an "art project" 'r anything like that!

But at least I have these Bill Shute, Paul McGarry and P. D. Fadensonnen burns to keep me up and runnin' musicwise, and good for them because if it weren't for these I'd probably be spending my free time volunteering for hospital bedpan duty 'stead of curled up in my cozy shack listening to these deep-fried disques. And so without further adieu (it's a joke, no "sic" here!), here is this week's batch of reviews which I do hope you deserve to read about.


More Eaze-wOrk CD-r (Kendra Steiner Editions)

Marcus Rubio is back with this crazoid bitta electronic spew that might make the weaker amongst us wanna run to the nearest "safe space" for pampered petunias who can't face the bitter reality of free sound, but I get the idea that most of you readers are MAN ENOUGH to take this right between the full frontal lobes. It's mostly electronic sound with some clarinet thrown in, parts of this sounding like the Electric Eels' "Jazz Is" (really!) with a whole load of what comes off like a stereo channel on a This Heat outtake with some Controlled Bleeding in there somewhere. The sound of the future for the past fiftysome years true, but that's future's gonna finally be a 'comin' a lot sooner than any of ya's gonna imagine!
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Hank Ray-COUNTRICIDE CD-r burn (originally on Devil's Rain)

Last week I reviewed an earlier album...er...Cee-Dee-Are burn by this newer'n ever country rock sorta guy. This one's from a good six years later and is more indebted to that ol' original pre-frilly country sound that sorta got axed from the scene around the time HEE HAW got canceled. Y'know the country I'm talkin' about...the hard-edged stuff that was promoted and performed by people who sorta had that heavy set of snarl to 'em that just ain't allowed in todays castrati culture anymore! Good enough renditions of old and maybe even some new tuneage that sates even if the production is way too modern for my own personal suburban slob tastes. If you're the kinda he-man type of guy with hair on his chest who misses the smell of diners with cigarette smoke embedded into those Naugahyde chairs you might just cozy up to a platter such as this.
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The Troggs-LIVE IN POOLE, ENGLAND May 23 2003 CD-r burn

Gotta say that I didn't even know that the Troggs were still up and about this late inna game! But obviously they were, and y'know what??? This set and performance is almost identical to all of those Troggs Max's and elsewhere tapes that have been floating around for years, and naturally the performance is straight on powerful just like you would have expected from these long-time professionals. If this indeed were the Troggs on their "way out" (if they ever really were on their way out!) then man, they went out in high fashion! Features particularly spidery version of such true Troggs faves as "Night of the Long Grass" and "66-5-4-3-2-1" that are just as good as the originals!
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George Harrison-THE ALTERNATE WONDERALL CD-r burn (originally on Pear Records)

I never saw the moom pitcher nor heard the original WONDERWALL album figuring it was gonna be more of that twangy sitar and veena drone I've experienced enough of through my George Harrison travels/travails, so let's just say that this burnt offering was something I thought would be an interesting enough spin at least once before it got filed away somewhere. As I expected, THE ALTERNATE WONDERWALL is what I would expect from a Beatle-related outtakes bootleg recorded at the time, with shards and fragments of all sorts of exotic sounds mixed in with weird cornball incidental music and mellotron whoopie that probably wasn't good enough for the real deal. It's sure hokay enough for a Beatle-related educational romp through their late-sixties musical leftovers, but if you think this is gonna make me wanna seek out the movie or the original platter you are sadly mistaken.
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Charles K. Noyes and Owen Marecks with Henry Kaiser and Greg Goodman-FREE MAMMALS CD-r burn (originally on Visible Records, 2511 Ellsworth St., Berkeley CA 94704 USA)

There are so many of these experimental music platters with the likes of Henry Kaiser floating around that its sure hard to sift through 'em all. Well, considering that I never was that much (if any) of a fan of Kaiser that would be one of the last things that I would consider doing, but I did get this particular platter featuring some other big names on the 80s-on improv scene and actually I found this a bit interesting even for my more rockist-attuned tastes. Nice atonal free sound that doesn't grate on ya like rubbing balloons but kinda goes through you with interesting enough intricate guitar parts that actually get your brain to perk up and analyse for once! It's nothing I would actually fork over precious coin to purchase myself, but I'm pleased enough that I got to hear it at least this once.
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The Soft Machine-WONDERLAND LP (Secret Records, England)

I think a whole buncha the tracks that appear here have not made their first appearance on vinyl or any other format, but smooshed all together they make for one mighty nice encapsulation of the early Soft Machine days. My personal faves on this 'un are those with Kevin Ayers singing up and front, though if you were one of the few who got onto the Machine bandwagon via the Hendrix tour and followed them well into their import bin days I'm sure you'll find a whole lot of interesting jazz rock to enjoy here. By the way this was but one of the Christmas gifts that Brad Kohler scooted my way a good two months back...good choice you made there Brad!
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The Twilights-ONCE UPON A TWILIGHT CD-r burn (originally on Aztec Records, Australia)

If you care, some fanabla who later on ended up inna Little River Band was in the Twilights, and somehow I can easily believe it. Typical late-sixties anglo-ish pop here, the kind that got Alan Betrock all hot and bothered during his JAMZ days complete with lush orchestration and interesting arrangements that woulda fit in fine on the Amerigan radio scene had this one been lucky enough to make it north of the equator. Psychedelic yet sunshine-y---definitely as good of a neo-Beatles take as the Move were. I guess if you like the Antipodean pop strains of the late-sixties/early-seventies Bee Gees you'll go for this pop swell.
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Various Artists-HEIMATLICHE KLANGE VOL. 153 Cd-r burn

I dunno about Austria...it kinda reminds me of Germany without the sick stuff. It doesn't know whether it wants to be Germany or Switzerland either, and it's just stuck there right in the middle of Europe sorta flopping about. The music on this sampler is pretty much in the same vein, what with these watered-down covers of the big US 'n British hits made for (I guess) the local market. Not that it's all bad, but there seems to be a hefty lack of spirit and energy to these tracks that really don't make me wanna get up 'n dance those weird interpretive dances I did age eleven to Elvis Presley. And sheesh, I like cheap knockoffs too!
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Alabama Shakes-BOYS AND GIRLS CD-r burn (originally on ATO)

These rootsy things sometimes tickle my fancy and sometimes they don't, but for the most part they kinda wobble somewhere in-between hey it's good stuff and hey it's good stuff but I don't think I'd wanna listen to it ever again. The Alabama Shakes are kinda like that, with some pretty nice retro-early sixties moves that appeal to me stuck in between some typically entertaining country rock moves that just don't make you wanna go "aah!" Take or leave music that might appeal to your sense of propriety if you liked those old Rolling Stones Muscle Shoals records, but I do get the feeling that I'm gonna lose this one in that leaning tower of CD-r burns that's just about to topple all over my bedroom.
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Beck and the Record Club-THE VELVET UNDERGROUND AND NICO CD-r burn (originally on Fan Club Only Records)

Sheesh, just what I wanna hear...one of the better rock 'n roll albums of the sixties done up post-post-POSTmodern-like by a guy who I spent most of the past twennysome years or so trying to avoid. Beck's version of that olde standard "Waiting For The Man" does crank out with the same pace and stamina that a hundred or so local rock groups mighta worked it out way back when, but the rest is nada but eighties-onward precocious rose-colored rear view mirror'd takes that a whole bunch of those loathed synth bands managed to cook up much to my disliking. About on par with most post-seventies Velvet worship (they as the grandaddies of cloistered bedroom amerindie wannabes everywhere) that has been making its way out of bedrooms and remedial studies centers with an alarming regularity.
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Various Artists-UNKNOWN RAGAMUFFIN SITAR CD-r burn (Bill Shute)

I dug this one from deep inna pile so I don't know just how long ago Bill sent this to me. But despite the age all I gotta say is that it ages like a fine wine rather'n one of those cheese hunks that rolled under my bed and I didn't find it for ten months what with the fine selection of hotcha sound that can be found therein. There's too much here to discuss with the fine-tooth needled detail this blog is most known for so I'll just skim over...high points include the two Charlie Feathers versions of "Look Up" which was co-written with none other than the Elvis himself, Azusa Plane's pee-take on George Harrison which really deconstructs things for ya and the infamous Beatle swipe by the Fut which actually got stuck on a buncha old Fab Four bootlegs it was that convincing. Also tops are Ken Colby's instrumental pop which sounds like the music you woulda heard in one of those dirty europeon films that you weren't allowed to go see, vanity performer Dora Hall doing some lullaby that would never have gotten me to sleep lest she whacked me hard onna head with a hammer while singing it, and the underrated Homer and Jethro who somehow have been airbrushed outta country and western history in favor of the likes of Miley Cyrus. As to just why this happened I do not know.

Thursday, February 09, 2017

BOOK REVIEW! REMAKE/REMODEL, BECOMING ROXY MUSIC by Michael Bracewell (Da Capo Press, 2007)

I'm sure that after the reams of comic strip and book collection reviews you have been reading in what ostensibly is supposed to be a "rock 'n roll blog" you might be surprised to find a book such as this up on the critical appraisal chopping block. Well yeah, I will admit that there are some books dedicated to the musical form floating about out there that are worthy of scrutiny here at BTC, and this particular read is one of the few I've come across as of late that deserves exposure to a wider audience. And that's even if the darn thing is nigh on ten years old (and now available cheap...why'd'ja think I picked it up inna first place???) but you do need to be made aware of it.

Sure there have been many a book dedicated to Roxy Music and I'll bet some of them are even good reading goin' beyond the usual Bryan Ferry's favorite color cheap teenybop coverage that one used to see in adolescent-girl-aimed mags world-wide. Well, at least until the brave souls at ROLLING STONE created rock journalism and we eventually got to find out what Bryan Ferry's favorite sex device was! But how many books really delved into the roots of Roxy, discussing the influences and kultural/artistic backgrounds that made the group what is was at least to a whole slew of backwards suburban slob mid-teens deprived of rock energy so much that the local record shop became like a meeting place for those who wanted to scam at least a li'l high energy in their otherwise drab lives.

REMAKE/REMODEL is remarkable enough in this respect...I mean for years we've heard about the art school backgrounds of Ferry along with Andy Mackay and Eno but this portion of the chaps' lives were always passed over in favor of the big fame days. Well, this book remedies that great hunka missing gap inna Roxy saga, starting with the early upbringings of the boys inna band (well at least the major ones...Paul Thompson is ignored as usual) well into their coming of age edjamacation days when they were soaking up all of the hip new moves in art and music which, combined with the head-on pop and rock of the day, eventually made the Roxy Music machine the most hotcha musical move of the early and mid-seventies that it most certainly was!

Monikers familiar and not like pioneering multi-media artist Richard Hamilton and avant garde composer Cornelius Cardew pop into the mix along with the various artist cliques that had surrounded these fellows during one of the more fruitful times in art as energy. And true, there are some points that have been written about into the ground are covered and I wouldn't have minded more info regarding Eno's tenure with the Scratch Orchestra amongst other details, but there's still a whole lotta info regarding those early days that's thankfully delved into bound to sate even a crazed nitpicker such as I.

Surprisingly enough there's a whole lotta history and insight that I never knew about before brought up here that in no way ever thought would be disseminated to the public and really, if you were one of those boys who used to leer at the cover of COUNTRY LIFE at the record shop starin' at them gals' see-through undies and bellybuttons then man, this is the kinda book you sure wish you had back '75 way!

Not only that but it's got a whole slewfulla good snaps not only of some of the Roxys themselves during their up-and-coming art school days but those of their mentors and their definitely Warhol/Rauschenberg-inspired pop-art productions. Unfortunately the oft talked about but never seen snap of Ferry posing by his Studebaker (the same one mentioned in "Virginia Plain") is not here, but somehow I get the impression that we'll never get to see that 'un! Also there's no mention of the Scratch Orchestra spinoff COMET who preceded Roxy as far as electronic Velvetisms go, but then again I get the feeling that their material's gonna come out the day I die which would be typical timing considering the life I've led!

But if you were...well...one of those guys who ears perked up back when those old albums were coming out and perhaps picked up some beat up John Cage album or old library art book to get a li'l more background on it all then well,  you might just like it.

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

COMIC BOOK REVIEW BY BILL SHUTE! ELLERY QUEEN, DETECTIVE (Coachwhip Publications)

Coachwhip Publications (find them at coachwhipbooks.com) has a wide and diverse array of books available, many of them non-fiction, but they also have a comic reprint series, including a few volumes taken from the wonderful Dell Comics of the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. The volume under review today contains three complete ELLERY QUEEN, DETECTIVE comics published by Dell Four Color in 1960 and 1961 (Four Color #1165, #1243, and #1289

Ellery Queen has had an interesting history. He is both the protagonist of the books and the credited author; however, it was never a secret that the actual authors were the cousin-team of Frederic Dannay and Manfred Lee. There has always been a puzzle-solving aspect to their works in that all the clues are presented in a fair manner to the reader, and we readers are meant to solve the cases along with Ellery. In fact, in most if not all of the novels I’ve read (and in the various TV and radio shows), the narrative stops near the end, and the reader is explicitly challenged to figure out who is the murderer. There are never any cheats in a Queen mystery, and when you re-read one, you see how cleverly yet naturally the clues were presented. Everything is there for you, if you are shrewd enough to find it.

The first Queen novel was published in 1929, and then many others followed as the formula was fresh, the writing fast-moving and entertaining but with a certain elegance, and Ellery himself was an appealing character. He was a mystery novelist (the character, that is), and he often assisted his father, Inspector Richard Queen of the city police force, solve crime by bringing his eye for small details and his outside-the-box perspective on things. He had a sense of humor about himself (always a good way to win audience sympathy), and the father-son relationship was quite well-done....they would tease and joke with each other, and they came from different points of view, but they needed each other and cared for and about each other in a non-sentimental way that was refreshing.

The first film based on a Queen novel was in 1935, The Spanish Cape Mystery, with Donald Cook as Ellery, which I once saw and though was OK, but don’t remember well. The second film, which I do remember well, was from 1936, THE MANDARIN MYSTERY (which is in the public domain, so look for it online), with (of all people) comic actor Eddie Quillan as Ellery. Quillan (see b&w pic) got his start in silent comedy shorts for Mack Sennett in the late 20’s and often was a comic sidekick in serials and B-movies. He also had an amazing series of comedy shorts for Columbia (sadly, never legitimately reissued in any video format) in the early 50’s teamed with rubber-faced comedian Wally Vernon (who was also a comic sidekick, in many westerns). These are among the most violent Columbia comedy shorts, and Quillan is amazing in them. He started in silent films in 1926, yet he was still acting on television in the late 1980’s, appearing on shows like MOONLIGHTING, THE A-TEAM, LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE, and THE JEFFERSONS--he even had an ongoing role on the Robert Blake TV show HELL TOWN in 1985! As his last credit is a 1987 MATLOCK episode, Eddie was appearing on screen in featured roles for 60+ years! His hometown of Philadelphia ought to put up a statute of the man! MANDARIN is an entertaining film, but perhaps a bit more comedic than I’d imagined Ellery.

The character also had success in radio and in television (we’ve reviewed some of the ELLERY QUEEN’S MINUTE MYSTERIES radio show here at BTC), with the best-known and best-loved TV adaptation being the mid-70’s series starring Jim Hutton as Ellery (see color pic) and David Wayne as his father. This is one of my three all-time favorite TV series (the other two being PERRY MASON and GREEN ACRES). Hutton brought a charm and everyman quality to Ellery, and Wayne brought a gruff but lovable characterization to Inspector Queen. Each episode featured at least four or five top-line former movie stars as guests (this was not uncommon with Universal 70’s TV shows, but especially true here), and it was set in the late 1940’s in New York, so it was full of wonderful period settings, clothing, cars, etc. The show’s full run (alas, just one season) is out on DVD, and it’s highly recommended. I’m sure I’ve seen each episode 10 times, and they never get old for me.

Ellery Queen was brought to comic books a few times. I was familiar with the Ziff-Davis comic book from the early 50’s, but these Dell Four Color issues from 1960-61 were new to me until this Coachwhip volume came out, and I can’t praise them highly enough if you enjoy detective comic-books and the early 60’s Dell visual style. Ellery does have glasses and a pipe here, and from a distance he sometimes resembles Rip Kirby, but he’s less of a traditional “hero” than Rip--he’s a mystery author and amateur sleuth.

Each of the three comics reprinted here contains two long and detailed stories, with enough time to develop some depth and present a number of characters/suspects. As usual for the series, you follow Ellery as he uncovers clues and follows certain lines of investigation, and you in a sense participate in the solving of the crimes with him....certain characters try to pull Ellery in to their viewpoint of the crime, some of whom are helpful and well-meaning, some of whom are not at all helpful but well-meaning, and some of whom are trying to deceive him. The plots cover a lot of interesting areas and settings, all of which involve murder: the importing of an ancient mummy to a museum; a suspicious ship which is being used for counterfeiting; a person interested in the occult who is being blamed for various crimes where incriminating occult-related clues are left by the killer; a partner in a business who goes missing; a murder in Haiti which is blamed on Voodoo (so you know it definitely IS NOT related to that); and that favorite of murder mystery plots, the ill-and-dying patriarch whose scavenger relatives are waiting for him to die, but one decides to speed up the process.

All the stories are well-paced, full of interesting characters and clever plot twists, but written in such a way as to provide you, dear reader, with the relevant clues, masquerading as regular details that move the story along but seem at the time to be of no particular significance. Ahhhh, but to Ellery, NOTHING  is of no particular significance.

The artwork and the storytelling here are just like a lean, fast-moving Columbia or Allied Artists B-mystery programmer, but with Ellery and his Dad in charge. Coachwhip’s reproduction of the original comics is excellent. I’m not sure if any re-coloring went on here, as it does in many reprints today (which I’m fine with, if it just deepens and clarifies the original artwork--Dark Horse’s multi-volume reprints of the Jesse Marsh TARZAN comics are a fine example of how that can be done well )--I’d guess not--but the scans of the originals are crisp and all the detail comes through clearly, and with the quality paper on which this volume is reprinted, it probably looks BETTER than the originals.

These original comic books were a fine entry in the Ellery Queen canon, and Coachwhip’s reissue of the comics in this attractive volume is a model of how a small-scale (it just presents three issues) comic-book reprint should be done. I’ve probably read this entire book FIVE times since I got it, and even though I know what happens in each piece, it’s so well done and so full of choice detail and interesting characters, I find myself coming back to it again. If you like comic books and you like murder mysteries, you should treat yourself to this fine collection.

By the way, ELLERY QUEEN’S MYSTERY MAGAZINE is still going strong after 75 (!!!!) years of publication. You can find it at most news-stands and bookstores which sell magazines, and old copies can be found for 50 cents or so at many flea markets or used bookstores which specialize in mysteries. It’s not as if murder mysteries date, so pick up a cheap used copy, pour yourself a glass of wine, and curl up by the fire on a cold and rainy night....and have a date....WITH MURDER!

Sunday, February 05, 2017

My, aren't these interesting times we're living in! And what could get more interesting that watching a pack of so-called communists who think they are "anarchists" (though I sincerely doubt that any of 'em have ever read or will even consider reading a real anarchist like Lew Rockwell) smash up the Berkeley campus in order to shut down that "far right" (?---guess they never heard of Andrew Anglin) and former "Fag of the Year" here at BTC speaker Milo Yiannopolous! But you say "Chris, why would these people go to such extremes busting up their own campus and surrounding areas just because they disagree with a person's opinions...are these views held by Mr. Yiannopolous that incendiary that they deserve to be kept out of the public discourse???" I know what you mean...after all if the folk at Berkeley find that child molesters and black nationalists are OK to speak their minds then why not a guy who has made his mark in life pointing out the foibles of today's pampered minions like Yiannopolous has been doing for the past few years. But for some reason or another these precocious leaders of tomorrow find Mr. Y's opines, which frankly aren't that different from most Mr. and Mrs. Front Porch types, way beyond the fringe of the usually accepted speech that we should be exposed to here in these oh-so-oppressive teens.

It doesn't seem so strange that a whole passel of deeply-moved sensitive laid back moderne punque types, the kind you see in areas such as San Francisco and environs, would be driven to violence in this sort of fashion just because of Yiannopolous's mere appearance in the belly of the beast (hah!), and it wasn't that surprising when I had the misfortune of just having tuned ABC WORLD NEWS TONIGHT on last Thursday evening hearing a real beta-faggot like David Muir explain away the rioting by mentioning that Yiannopolous has made many a startling and outside the norm of polite conversation remarks about various touchy-feely subjects such as "hate crimes" oh-so-conveniently leaving out the "fake" part of the equation out. I guess Yiannopolous (as well as the likes of Jim Goad who does what Mr. Y does only on a more basic level!) gives credence to these masked ozobs pepper spraying gals in MAGA hats after all which I guess gives me the right to physically attack peaceful protesters who somehow offend my feelings and ideals! Great bit of journalistic credo you chalked up there, Dave!

Both cartoons reprinted courtesy Ben Garrison...a big hefty thanks to he!
Of course even ABC and presumably the rest of the bigtime news outfits don't match the neo-Marxist shills at the Huffington Post who in their defense of the Berkeley brouhaha just hadda bring up the ol' Twitter controversy where Yiannapolous ripped into last year's GHOSTBUSTERS remake, the one with that black woman who is about as unfunny as that SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE show she's on has been for over thirty-five years. Whoever this woman is actually managed, despite her lack of white privilege, limited Yiannopolous' right to express his views which is one action that I would surmise is (at this very moment) making Nat Hentoff's fresh corpse wanna rot at an even further pace! Sheesh, if I were taken to task for all of the bad reviews of deservedly so music that I wrote these past XXX years I woulda been chopped up and sold for roast pork at Cash Market ages ago and hey, since when was it considered "racist" (even in today's stretched out definition of the term) to knock a bad performance by a black woman who really was nothing but a SNL diversity hire anyway! Knock a duff movie and get called every name under the sun...one of the new tactics of those who don't even try hard because hey, what is the humor industry these days other'n a pack of pampered scions of the upper class railing away at "the system" (that they are part of, don't kid yourself) in a way that woulda made the daddy of it all Lenny Bruce wanna do a bitta wincing himself!

What really puts the frosting on the cuck is that the Berkeley police made no arrests and that (at least as of this post) none of the perps are ever gonna see justice for their behavior which only lends a sick credence to their pithy cause. Of course that's been the rule at least since the days of ACT UP where all of the scum of the earth who have been perpetrating these acts of violence against pure decency are in the good ol' right and that Mr. Foot-The-Bill Joe Blow has been born wrong and deserves to continue supporting the leeches who want him dead! Gee, if only people like myself had our cavalry to save us, or at least a pack of angry hardhats who sure did these goons good a good forty-five years back!

But amid the chaos and property-is-theft-so-what-if-I-smash-in-windows violence of it all, all I wonder is sheesh, whatever happened to the good ol' SHOOT TO KILL order of the past which really woulda told these perpetraitors (no sic) what they could do with their circle "A"'s? I am, for one, all in favor of such a deterrent against CRIME as that and truthfully, if I were asked to join in on the street cleaning in this sort of fashion I would be more than glad to participate in such a necessary task! As I get the feeling many of you would. Don't say that I don't believe in doing my civic duty!!!
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Hope ya dig this week's batch...as usual thanks be to Bill Shute, Paul McGarry and P. D. Fadensonnen for their wondrous wares which certainly have kept this blog afloat for a longer time than anyone could imagine. Blame them, not me!


John Cage/Christian Wolff LP (Jeanne Dielman Records, available via Forced Exposure)

I'm sure some of you remember that ROLLING STONE ad where some hippie in headphones looks like he's having some cozmik orgazm listening to the Mainstream Records reissue of the old Time label's avant garde music line. Of course the ad just hadda bring up a whole load of snappy come-on somehow connecting the works of these various moderne-day classical composers to the various doodlings that were all the rage, and I'm sure even a casual reader of STONE woulda known that the entire concept of the ad was pure phonus-balonus even if everyone knew that Grace Slick dropped 5000 mg of Orange Sunshine while spinning "Fontana Mix" backwards as Paul Kantner impregnated her with none other'n "god" herself while Rex Reed took personal snaps for the latest edition of HOLIDAY magazine.

Good stuff here...a-side has John Cage and David Tudor sticking pipe cleaners into phonograph cartridges and rubbing the cleaners up against various musical instruments and/or piano strings. If you did this in your dad's den boy would you get the bejabbers beat outta ya, but since these guys know what they're doing it's A-OK. Flip has Christian Wolff doing some more standard chamber-like stuff which might not be as all-enveloping as Cage's side, but you might find some joy to behold. A pretty hot sample of what was going on in the serious music world back in the early-sixties, and if hippies copped a whole lotta ideas from this record well...remember they had the good quality drugs to listen to this to and you don't!
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Unfit Structures-VAMPIRE BELT (or is is Vampire Belt-UNFIT STRUCTURES???) CD-r burn

Bill Nace and Chris Corsano make up this electric guitar/drums duo and you know what? These guys can do the electronic overload free play game almost if not just as good as those other guitar/drums acts, Bob Thompson and Doug Snyder included! Maybe it ain't as "rock 'n roll-y" as DAILY DANCE, but it can sure startle your subconscious the way the guitar roars forth while Corsano does a rather neat Sunny Murray impression if I do say so myself. More proof that it ain't all over like I tend to kid myself into thinking once in awhile. By the way, is "Unfit Structures" a play on Cecil Taylor's UNIT STRUCTURES?
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Surplus Stock-HOLLAND IS NOT CD-r burn

Oh boy, yet anudder europeon cassette culture platter just jam-packtus full of casiotone sounds and electronic whirls, with a few little bits of melody and song tossed in to make you feel like...I dunno...normil??? I guess that given the wide availability of cassettes and the plethora of bored kids who somehow thought that their mechanical cantatas were the exact equal of alla that musique concrete their stoned pals turned 'em onto there would have been many tapes of music like this floating about as any regular reader of OP coulda told ya. HOLLAND IS NOT has its share of interesting musical moments that make my ears wanna perk up like a Boxer's, but for the most part I find this the kinda music that drove me to KICKS magazine back when the early-eighties were not shaping up the way I sure hoped they woulda.
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Sonny Bono-NON-LP 45s CD-r burn (originally on Atco)


I don't think this package was officially released as such, but anyhow someone or other (prob'ly Bill) gathered all of Sonny without Cher's rare single sides and slapped 'em on a disque for the sake of, well, having all of Sonny's rare single sides collected in one neat li'l package. It's all what you'd expect, so slip on your caveman vest and groove to the protest self-pity (the best sort!) of "Laugh At Me" and "The Revolution Kind" before being wiped out by Tim Hardin's "Misty Roses" without any audible farts like there were on Hardin's album. Those instrumental b-sides are about as cornballus as the entire Ranwood label's output but still ear-tingling enough that you won't wanna press the skip button. Sometimes I wonder what he saw in that greasy tramp of a wife because he coulda done just as well (if not better) if the two had never met!
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Suicide-CAMDEN PALACE, LONDON 10-30-1986 CD-r burn

As far as I can tell this is the exact same recording that was used on the obscure bootleg WE NEVER SAID WE WERE MUSIC, WE ARE SUICIDE so if you weren't lucky enough to latch onto that one you can probably find this on line with a little dial-digging. And if you missed out on those not up to snuff late-eighties Suicide albums feel warm and toasty in the fact that this recording has very little of the schmooze of those albums and consists of ('cept for that one song that sounds like Barry Manilow's "Can't Smile Without You") pure Suicide repeato riff rock that sounds just as terrifying now as it must have to audiences back in the early-seventies. As far as I'm concerned this is probably one of the last real examples of late-seventies New York energy trying to stay alive in the dismal eighties.
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Hank Ray-MAINSTREAM DEATH COUNTRY CD-r burn (originally on OMD)

I don't go for these new country rock albums that much. However, this Hank Ray guy does a fairly good job of presenting a commercial yet rough enough country rock that doesn't bug me one bit, even in the process creating a downright rock 'n roll classic entitled "Everybody's Into Rock 'N' Roll" which I sure wish I had heard back when I was fourteen 'r so. With Ray's baritone voice and some rather swell melodies to go along with it the guy fails to offend...however sitting through forty-seven minutes of highs and less appealing tracks really became a struggle as it usually is for many of these newer platters which have a number of less-powerful tracks to go along with the good stuff.
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THE JACK BENNY PROGRAM CD-r burn

I can't see what people find funny in those newfangled sitcoms that I occasionally have the misfortune of being exposed to, usually under circumstances I can't escape no matter how hard I try. I mean, I can actually LAUGH at the downright funny gags on BENNY and follow the plot which, come to think of it, had more going for it than these shows which have nothing but yapping heads goin' at each other spewing out things that really don't tickle the funnybone the way a good Jack Benny/Dennis Day rapport sure does. My Sunday evenings are certainly brightened by disques like this which only goes to show you that even in one of the least guffaw-inducing periods in modern history there can be reason to settle back and enjoy a half hour of not having your sense being attacked by today's post-POST-postmodern spew!
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Iggy and the Stooges-WHISKY A GO GO 9/16/73 CD-r burn


I dunno where this one differs with any of the "other" Whisky show tapes but hey, I'll listen to this auto-destruct high energy total eruption rock 'n roll any way I can! Yet another great document of the beyond belief 1973 Stooges tour (which I had no idea was even going on back in suburban slob Ameriga back then---it was like Iggy Pop was totally BANNED from even entering our consciousnesses lest he turn all of Ameriga's kiddies into Burroughsian mind-diseased zombies wreaking havoc on all that was peace and love!) that continues to reverberate even a good fortysome years later. This may have been Iggy's last true stand as an artist we could have all gotten behind, either that or his last attempt at being the new Sky Saxon which would have been totally fine by me!
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The Five Americans-PROGRESSIONS CD-r burn (originally on Abnak Records)

Yep it's them "Western Union" guys a li'l bit after the mid-sixties garage band movement turned into the late-sixties whateveritwas trying to keep up with the times or something like that. No more crazed organ breaks and screams like we got on "I See The Light"...now it's more or less the same more adult contemporary post-bubblegum kinda neo-rock pop that wasn't as good as the Archies or as commercial as Tommy Roe but tells the same tale that other former mid-sixties garage band greats told once the years started rollin' on. The final cut is definitely an interesting take on "Hey Jude" done up just enough to avoid a lawsuit and hey, next to that hippydippy crap that was overtaking youth consciousness at the time this one does sound pretty swell, y'know?
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Various Artists-MAD DIXIELAND HENCHMEN CD-r burn (Bill Shute)

A good one, not only because of five count 'em Animals toonz but for the strange radio ads that are interspersed in between the actual music trackage. I thought these ads might have been created by Nichols and May but given their seventies vintage I guess I am wrong...I think those two were outta the question by that time what with Nichols directing those dirty moom pitchers with Art Garfunkel 'n all. Besides I remember those two not being so funny, kinda cute chirp chirp in a Dave Berg sorta way.

Whoever it was who dood 'em they sure dood some pretty interesting and sexy ads that sorta made me get the idea of what adulthood was gonna be for me when I finally got big enough to enter into one of those funny book stores. Gettin' an earfulla these ads was kinda like a trip back to the deca-seventies which unfortunately evolved into the squeaky eighties by the time I was big enough to enjoy life at its fullest.

The tracks by Chavez & Chaney (kinda like a halfway-decent if weaker Don & Dewey) and the Mohawks were also reet, and frankly I can use some Hamlin's Wizard Oil in my life,! If you can't then may I call you...now what would I call a Wizard Oil hater anyway...it ain't like something you come across everyday now, hunh?

Friday, February 03, 2017

Frankly I'm rooting for the Indians but wha' th' hey...
Chris wrote about the comic strip OUT OUR WAY some time back, and I wanted to chime in with my memory of it.

There was a freebie paper called THE NEWS (creative title) that was around when I was a kid. It was comprised of ads with a sprinkling of columns and syndicated features like "Criswell Predicts!" (I shall remember the time he predicted two British bands would take the US by storm. One band would be called "The Fat Skinnies" and the other "The Skinny Fats"!) Before the paper folded in the mid-80's I called their office and got to speak to the man who put it out. I asked if he had any back issues tucked away, feeding him a story about doing a book on Criswell--and of course offering to give him a credit in print for his help! He seemed suspicious of me (rightfully so--I just wanted to see those old columns!) and brushed me off but not before commentating the Criswell's column was very popular! Darn tootin'!

But back to OUT OUR WAY. I was quite intrigued by the one panel strip that was obviously a throwback to an earlier time. I might not have gotten some joke about "Silent Cal" Coolidge, but I was completely hooked on the feel of the thing and its obvious respect for hard work and values that my grandparents had. As a budding artist the great line work was a pleasure to see as well.

OUT OUR WAY fit in perfectly with the tone of THE NEWS, which r an an ad for a wringer washer machine! Ot featured a column by Russel Peck called "Pecking Around" that talked up the squarest entertainment imaginable, with lines like "If you've given up on rock 'n roll as being anything but subversive noise, I'm pleased to tell you about the Starland Vocal Band..."

Every autumn the paper would run the same KING FOOTBALL RETURNS! headline, and every week someone gave a prediction for the score of each college and pro football game. No college was too obscure to be included. Prairie A&M 35 North Dakota State 21 would be a sample prediction. In the pre-internet days one could never even know how the predictions turned out because its not like the newspaper would carry such obscure results!

THE NEWS was distributed by day laborers who would throw a copy on any porch just to get done quicker and most likely drink up their wages. You'd see obviously abandoned houses with a few years work of THE NEWS sitting outside the front door. (EDITOR'S NOTE---sheesh Brad, you coulda gotten alla 'em free back issues by just raidin' a porch or two!)

I worked one day with a friend putting ad supplements into copies and wrapping copies in a plastic bag. It was piece work, and for each copy you finished, you placed a metal washer in a plastic cup. If you exceeded completing a certain amount of papers you got a bonus. We worked with mostly retirees who all knew each other and talked about their families. They made no attempt to include us in their genial conversations after we said we were using our day wages on a case of beer.

I remember showing my grandfather OUT OUR WAY once, but he didn't seem interested in it, and he was a man who read the comics. I think now perhaps those hardscrabble times may have been reflected in a way that brought back tough memories, no matter the humor of the strip. Sort of like returning servicemen not wanting to talk of their experiences.

Oh yeah, every Christmas THE NEWS would print letters to Santa from kids, and I'd always send in prank letters saying I wanted electric eels albums and sign Manson family names. Chris was so hard up for space fillers he published some of them in the old print mag.

-BRAD KOHLER