Thursday, May 23, 2024


BOOK REVIEW! NICO --- SONGS THEY NEVER PLAY ON THE RADIO BY JAMES YOUNG (Bloomesbury Publishing, 1992)


Shame on Brad Kohler for sending me this book! I mean it!!! Y'see, this personalist diary of one's participation with the ol' Moon Goddess herself Nico during a slew of tours and recording sessions is fine and dandy itself but really, Brad shoulda remembered that I already have this tome for the times albeit under a totally different title. Shows ya just how much the fanabla pays attention to the stuff I write up! You know, it really does get me deep down in the ol' pate de foi gras when a devoted fan and admirer of mine gets things wrong, and in such a gross manner at that t'boot! Sheesh what kinda admirers do I really have, but at least him giving me a book outta the kindness of his heart does make me feel all kinda warm 'n toasty inside. Besides I haven't read this 'un in ages so it's like Brad sent me more'n just a little "hint" to give it another go...

So here it is, old turds in new bowels more or less, and to prove that I'm a man who takes chances I ain't gonna read my old writeup of this in order to compare notes and look smarter than the average blog reader. I might contradict myself and even end up looking like a total idiot (or worse yet rock critic) having said one thing then and another thing now, but that's the price I pay for being the foolhardy gambler (who always loses) that I am and shall remain!

James Young played keyboards in Nico's final group Faction and the saga he tells 'bout the gal just reiterates everything we've known about her to the point where even Kohler gave an apt description of the ice goddess' final years via the "Li'l Minx" comic that appeared in the last issue of my very own crudzine. Yes, everything we've already known about Nico and are still afraid to ask is brought up...Nico the rayciss, Nico the stinkpot, Nico the junkie, Nico the gal who forgets her friends 'n it's all here. It won't get you to chuck your platters but it will reinforce alla those sagas about the Nico's viscousness trying to gouge a black model's eyeball out with a wine glass and other things that I'm sure would upset the more precious petunia types who tune into the blog. But eh, they'll still keep their Nico recs as well I'll bet.

Lotsa special guest appearances in these pages from an equally junked up John Cooper Clarke, Ari the bastard kid who's even more of a mental wreck than mama can be, and former bandmate/producer John Cale whose brain seems to be about as white powdered as Nico's. It is not so strange that, for being collaborator for over two decades at this point, the two seem more or less like a jaundiced married couple with a deep sort of irritation for each others' presence, and come to think of it it's things like this which make the entire sordid and seed saga all the more tasty. 

It ain't the streamlined sixties/seventies decadence that seemed really appealing to us cloistered kids who only got a taste of it via the rock mags, but a better than average encapsulation of what happened once that decadence got way off the rails as the hard-edged seventies slid into the squeaky clean eighties and that whole drugs/pervo scene just wasn't as fun as it used to be. For a good tombstone to the entire deca-Warhol/lower Manhattan era you can't beat this 'un which won't make you wanna mourn for those days'r anything, but it will remind us of what bigtime jerkoffs some of our favorite under-the-counterculture icons could get to be sometimes. And after all of the books, articles and rumors I've come across, boy were there many!

Friday, May 17, 2024

BOOK REVIEW! THE CATALOG OF COOL, EDITED BY GENE SCULATTI (Warner Brothers Books, 1982)

Shee-it. I mean, can anyone even properly define what the meaning, the concept of "cool" is 'n what ain't? Well, I'm sure that even that bespectacled wheezer we all knew in first grade might have had an inkling of what was hep 'n "with it", but to publish a whole BOOK about it may seem about as pointless as teaching my cyster how not to blow her stack at every slight indiscretion of mine. Well, a tome about the essence of true hipsterdom does seem like somewhat of a noble endeavor ('n who knows, perhaps even a one-dimensional being such as I might be able to pick up some tips!), so dig in I must!

I'm sure there has been, is, and will continue to be arguments about the aspects of "cool" for years on end and like, maybe it should be obvious as to what is 'n what is not (like didn't Huey Lewis prove himself and the minions he sang for that they were definitively NOT "cool" when "It's Hip to be Square" rose in the charts???), but after years of seeing such soul-bending and earth-shattering things as whacked out local tee-vee shows and EC comics in the rear view mirror of destiny does it really matter??? Should any of us even care about any sorta concepts of coolness here in the dank dark days of the snoring twenties??? 

As I've said many-a-time, the battle for downright soul-searing nerve-fraying energy and "cool" as defined in a somewhat general fashion was lost a good fortysome years back when the obviously squeaky-clean cutesy-poo aspects of life unfortunately overtook the bared-wire intensity of hard-edged and gnarling look/sound/fashion/attitude. T'was a time when (as noted in a long inactive blog) even Iggy Pop and Lou Reed began putting out snoozeville records so you KNEW that all has been lost.

But as to the brass tacks of cool versus stool, or hip versus flip...I remember a long time ago in the pages of (I believe it was) CREEM when they commended Patti Smith for her "cool" after a typically porcine in looks and behavior Bette Midler threw a drink in her face at some fancy to-do and Smith didn't even bat an eye. If that's an example of hip and with-it behavior I must say that I much prefer the time when a White Power-bedecked John Morton, while at some party Peter Laughner threw at his parents' digs, hadda endure some gal snootily put down the infamous Electric Eel's visual and performance art as total shuck upon whence Morton approached the blabbermouth with a poker face that Buster Keaton would have envied, right before giving her a swift jab to the jaw which threw the gal across the room knocking her out cold. I gotta admit that I like that little demonstration of "hot" as opposed to Smith's chilled attitude, perhaps because I wish I could have done to many a chick what Morton did lo those many years back! So maybe "hot" can be "cool" and vicey-versey and like Barbarino I'm sooooo confused!

Sure glad that Roberto Berlin tipped us all off to this 1982 collection of prim and proper behavior via the Richard Meltzer "X" page (the Prince Pudding himself being a contributor --- I mean, why else would Berlin have brought it up in the first place?) or else I would have undoubtedly ignored the thing for the rest of my born and unnatural days. Funny, but I only have a slight inkling of this book ever having come out way back in the early eighties (definitely the most uncool decade to have existed, at least until the nineties, oughts, teens...) but I have the thing now and well, it sure is swell to have it in my possession which at least proves to some nabobs out there that maybe I never was as L7 as I was brought up to be. However, if I ever find out that those naysayers have owned this read since day uno well, confine me to the playpen for the rest of my born days.

So like this 'un really is a "catalog of cool", and although the whole argument of what is 'n ain't can be shallwesay somewhat "nebulous" I'll gander that the people behind this 'un (such smarter-than-all-of-us types like Gene Sculatti and his cohorts in West Coast rock erudition) sure make a better case as to what's truly "in" and "out" than this certain put-on and absolutely nauseating goody two shoes eighties/nineties-era Youngstown Ohio area FM deejay who told us all to brush our teeth and salute the flag (and gawrsh but the kids did!). Music, books, moom pitchers, munchies, sartorial elegance...it's all discussed here'n if you want to see what the true essence of living a full life without the trammels of socio/corporate straight and narrow was like at least until the eighties threw the o-mind off the tracks this book'll sure come in handy!

There are some pretty spot on opines presented that deliver on the concept of what cool in a break the boundaries form of human behavior is supposed to be vs. what many a deluded soul might say otherwise. Like, 1965-era punk rock Grateful Dead SI, 1975 flop in the mud Grateful Dead a most definite NO!!!!! SOUPY SALES and DRAGNET make the cool list while MTV's a no-er than no, it being more than an accurate example of the eighties cubism that infested seemingly every aspect of down-home ranch house suburban living that really wrecked a whole load of definitely non-sartorial elegance in this here life of ours. 

By now you should realize that I'm speaking about that sphere where hip bop jive music and fancy mixed drinkies can co-exist in the same dimension as those zilch-grade movies and rancid comic books we weren't supposed to view according to our social climbing elders. Things that always seemed to bypass the usual arbiters of consumer pig trough toss out (or maybe not), but otherwise I am SURE GLAD that even the so-called cornballus amongst us, everyone from the gals in the Shaggs to the sniveling C-average suburban slob pudgeball reading his sci fi paperbacks in the shameful privacy of his fart encrusted bedroom, are far more "cooler" than the slender and popular Student Council types and jocks who always seemed to get the hosannas and accolades from their superiors who, as you could guess, were about as "cool" as a fresh and steaming bowel movement.

Pretty boff selection of contributors too given just how much Sculatti was associated with the entire Meltzer/Vom cadre of (once again) "cool" rockscribe visionaries, That would definitely explain the presence of not only "R" on mixed adult beverages but Gregg Turner giving us a pretty PSYCHOTRONIC lowdown on a variety of goresploitation flickage that helped make the backdrop for many a funtime pre-sensitivity session baby boomer adolescence. 'n boy do they dish out the goods on a variety of books, mags, moom pitchers, tee-vee shows etc. that might not exactly fit into various straightjacketed definitions of "cool" but eh, they sure pull the whole thing off a whole loads better'n any traipsing into the world of boffness that has been whipped up by the "press" (legacy or otherwise) since the early eighties. The time that was a portal from down and dirty grit as music/visuals/"altitude" to the world of uptight prissiness of varying degrees and you've heard tape loop mind me bitch about it ever since them dayze so why drag you into it again!

And so this is the feely good book of the year even if the thing clocks in at well over four decades. And a vindication. Y'see, for years I had been tagged by classmates and even the elders who made me what I am today as the most un-hip being to have walked the earth. Undoubtedly this was due to a combination of a horse-blindered upbringing that totally alienated me from everyone I was in contact with to having an obsessive passion for the older and definitely more fun things in life from twenties-vintage comic strips to black and white reruns. And sheesh, do you think that the kids who were hotcha on the Osmonds and ALL IN THE FAMILY (taking Meathead's side no matter what the situation would be) could relate? But reading this effort proves that I wasn't exactly the "herb" that many had made me out to be, and that hey, I really was of a way higher caliber than all of the in-kids (and I was outer'n the outkids if that was possible) what with my own tastes and likings which, according to this book and anyone with a conscious brain, were way hipper'n the hippie relevance shit that was being shoveled at the massholes during my unfortunate days of learning. 

It may be somewhat of a shaggy dog book but eh, this brand of pointlessness makes a whole load more points than anything else that is supposed to have any meaning or relevance to hotcha under-the-counterculture existence, at least in recent memory. A book that should, or to put it more succinctly BETTER, change your undoubtedly cloistered life though I get the feeling that EACH AND EVERY ONE OF YOU READERS is too high falutin' to take the bait being such homo superiors way ahead of the rest of us Cro-Magnons! Would figure.

Saturday, May 11, 2024

COMIC BOOK(S) REVIEW! NEW YORK WORLD'S FAIR COMICS and YOUNG ALLIES COMICS No. 1 (Special Edition Reprints)

Back in the days (Don Fellman will not allow me to say "back in the day [singular]" since that is appropriating black lingo and he don't abide by it!) when I had a vast want list of goodies but a depression-era wage to depend on, I could only afford one of these Golden Age comic books that Special Edition Reprints had released somewhere 'round 1974. And at three bucks a pop that was a whole lotta kapusta I'll tell ya --- I never had all of the goodies and junk that you rich kids had that's for sure, and because of it I wasn't as --- ahem --- kulturally "up-to-date" the way a wannabe sophisticado teenbo in on the realm of o-mind should be! 

But anyway it really was a hard enough dilemma figuring out what to choose when it came to these reprints, but I eventually settled for the ALL SELECT COMICS one with Captain America, the Human Torch and Submariner laying waste to Berchtesgaden on the cover. And, ol' sentimental fanabla that I am, that very same ALL SELECT is still snuggled in my comic book collection waiting for yet another go through once I make my way past a whole lotta funnies I never even had the chance to look at yet!

I'm sure you get the idea that the two books up for scrutiny today were also high up on the want list, and that ever since I missed the opportunity to get hold of them way back when I've had the burning desire to snatch them up lest my life go unfulfilled. After all, both of 'em sure had a look and feel that would attract any fan of the comic book realm, what with NEW YORK WORLD'S FAIR sporting both a Superman and (the original) Sandman story and the YOUNG ALLIES 'un Bucky and Toro (youth identification sidekicks of Captain America and the Torch) fronting a verifiable EAST SIDE KIDS bunch of miscreants fighting the Second World War barehandedly and doing a pretty snazzy job at that. Besides, I read all about the Allies in ALL IN COLOR FOR A DIME and it sure sounded like the kinda comic custom made for any tubboid adlo pre-pubesprout suburban slob who liked a whole load of action and gratuitous pre-Code violence in his stories!

So after all this time I got 'em (for more'n three bucks a pop but I'm richer now) and yes, a hole in my swiss cheese like life has been filled and filled a whole lot more'n had I gotten that young girl vanity I wanted age four because it looked like an electric piano. Given that even at my "advanced age" I need a whole lot more comic book energy and vim in my existence than I have been getting recently these two titles sure help out when the settle back and snuggle up with a good read time comes, and nowadays I could sure a whole lot more of that that I have been getting I'll tell ya!

At a whopping twenny-five cents, the NEW YORK WORLD'S FAIR comic must've busted the piggy banks of more'n a few pauper kids who at least had an excuse because it WAS the depression, but I guess it was worth smashin' ol' Porky in order to get the change for this heavy doody giant sized mag. Sure the innards, like the rest of repros in this series, are in black and white and some might complain about the faintness of the reproduction as well as the overboard text hyping the affair, but the energy and excitement one usually associates with these early comic books is here and that's what counts if you're a Saturday Afternoon Barber Shop kinda kid like I sure wish I was! 

You just can't escape the fair for each and every story features one character or another doing something positive for it or just having a whole buncha fun while being there. Naturally that means that the adventure strip characters like top dog Superman either foil some nasty thievery or perform acts of bravery while the "kiddie characters" (Bob Kane's Gingersnap and Butch the Pup) get into the same patented trouble they would in any other of their appearances! Nothing that dredges up warm 'n toasty Golden Age memories in me but they still had some shard of pre-ranch house-era adolescent appeal to 'em and succeed if only on that level.

And boy is there a whole load of kid-time fun to be found in these pages! Not enough to gag you to death but enough to fill you in on all of the new and out of this world things that were going on at the World's Fair from the Trylon and Perisphere to the interesting foreigners in their native costumes that were roaming about 'n heck, there's even an entire village populated by what Billy Barty used to call "the little people" and if you think anybody would get away with such insensitivity these days you're sadly mistaken!

But as far as being a nice artifact of a time and place that I'm sure still brings happy memories to quite a few nonagenarians out there it sure works out golly ned swell. And at least I get to read a rather good story from the original Sandman, a suited and gas masked chap who in these early sagas was a Batman-esque vigilante (wanted by the police on two continents!) with no special powers or gimmicks other'n the use of a gas gun that knocked evildoers out! Forget the Jack Kirby rendition which was a vain attempt to keep the character in circulation...the original's the real deal meal!

Over at Timely the Young Allies were, along with the proto-Avengers All Winners Squad, fighting the war so fast and so efficiently you wonder why they even bothered having armies.  Now, just like Jules Feiffer once wrote (prolly the only thing I agree on with the guy) I think that kid sidekicks are useless which is why Bucky and Toro (basically a Human Torch Junior) on their own leading up a casting call of forties kid stereotypes (the tough Irish mug, the fatso, the brainy one with glasses and the scared of ghosts black kid) sure works better'n those jerks do alongside their adult wards. And in case you were too stupid to know, these Timely tales really knew how to pack the punch at a superfast pace...if you think that the Marvel Age of Comics that came out a good two decades later was a totally birthed from the mind of a mid-aged Stan Lee the action and twisto changeo plots these tales exude will have you believin' different!

'n sheesh, the way these kids work wonders with the barest of necessities makes MacGyver look like a piker! On the search for an equally young British agent (a dignified beyond belief monocle'd chap) who was captured by the bad boys and valiantly struggling not to reveal the "secret code", the Young Allies trick the Germans at every stop even making their way into Der Fadderland where they actually get patted on the heads by none other'n Adolf himself for looking so Aryan-like! Even more ingenious is the part where Bucky disguises himself as arch enemy the Red Skull by painting an actual human skull (brainy kid Jefferson Worthington Sandervilt just happened to have a watercolor set on him) and slipping it right atop his own dome! Well, if I have to suspend belief/reality watching everything from the news to my favorite old timey television shows why not some comic aimed at kids who pretty much were apt to believe anything that was being tossed in front of their eyes.

If some of you more "pious" types really want to enjoy this you're going to have to suspend a whole WHOLE lot especially given this particular portion of the saga where, in order to raise some desperately needed money to get back home, the Allies put on a show for a crowd of exceedingly backwards Russian peasantry who look as if they'd be marveled by the invention of the wheel.  Along with Bucky and Toro doing some typical superhero pyrotechnics the aforementioned token black kid, "Whitewash Jones", gets his chance entertaining the locals as "Growlo the Ape Man"! Now if that bit of comic book history should make the rounds you could just imagine all of the rather "interesting" comments to be made on some of the message boards that I just happen to chance upon.

If you're one of the precious petunia types who becomes outrage at the mere hint of a "dog whistle" or "red flag" THE YOUNG ALLIES will offend you even more'n I ever could hope to. However, if you really want to be insulted you should read one of those (fairly --- 2009) recent Young Allies re-dos that were done up for whatever if left of the type of crowd who might still have some positive tinglings regarding the Golden Age of extreme comic book mayhem. Yup, the whole kit 'n kaboodle's been "updated" in these World War II sagas and perhaps for the worse given the overboard gotta be up to date and pay retribution for the past revision. Whitewash isn't the slant-skulled slo-mo with Hindenburg-sized lips anymore but now looks just about as prim and proper as Sidney Poitier visiting the white in-laws. It's as bad as when Chop Chop from BLACKHAWK went from a short pudgy bucktoothed Chinese sidekick to a normal looking full time member of the group which didn't seem as much a cast of the DC line being progressive as it was of them being condescending. Sheesh, they even had the chubby kid do some reducin' as well although I think they kept the Irish one as Gorceyesque as possible, or at least I hope they did if only to retain some semblance of gritty forties comic book aesthetics. Personally I think Marvel should have just let these characters alone because once you get down to the bared wire meaning of it all, it does seem more dignified.

Wednesday, May 01, 2024

BOOK REVIEW! MAJOR DUDES - A STEELY DAN COMPANION EDITED BY BARNEY HOSKYNS (Constable Books, 2017)


Maybe or maybe not, but some of you just might be surprised to hear that for a whole longer time that you could imagine I wasn't exactly what you would call a rabid loather of Steely Dan. Shee-it but I even kinda liked 'em, perhaps in a passing "oh, they're good" sorta way but I liked 'em nonetheless. I'm even brave enough to 'fess up that I lent plenty of ear to "Do It Again" and "Reeling in the Years" back when they were incessantly being spun on the radio, but then again that was during my non-discerning pre-pubesprout days when I seemed to like just about everything that I heard on the radio. Didn't hone the aesthetics nodes until much much later.

Weird 'nuff, but stuck in my usually sieve-like mind's their appearance (with Donald Fagan strumming the strings of his piano post-performance) on AMERICAN BANDSTAND back when Dick Clark revealed to us that their moniker came from "a device" that was found in a novel by William Burroughs. Or did he say Henry Miller? Gotta check on that but it wasn't until sometime later, around the days of AJA when you just couldn't escape "Deacon Blue" (a song I enjoyed at first before my better senses took hold of me) that the Dan were seen more as one of those progenitors of that oxymoronic term they now call "lite rock" or even more accurately "yacht rock". Sheesh, but even an outta-the-loop kid such as I wouldn't've believed that it would ever come to this group producing chi-chi wine and brie music back when they were starting out and the kids used to gab about the durty pictures to be found on the cover of CAN'T BUY A THRILL (y'know, the prostitutes and the nekked gal, and of course that shirtless guy whose lower excited half was fortunately edited out).

Well they did seem somewhat gnarly at first. Take a gander at their early promo pix (one of 'em directly below) which makes 'em out to look like some rough and tumble decadent white blues band, one almost on par with those other scruffy white blues bands that proliferated in the seventies (15-60-75 even!). And a lotta people whose opines I respect actually like these guys so maybe I should be giving 'em another honest appraisal, me being generous and considerate of everyone's tastes like I'm sure you already know.


But as someone like myself who has reviewed albums by merely looking at the covers and getting grief for a load of inaccuracies, looks can be deceiving and in no way were Steely Dan quite the grubboid local greasy haired bunch doing the wafrican-american (a nicer way of saying "wigger") game so common with the usual worn leather types of the past. Once you got down to the plain and horrid truth the team of Donald Fagan and Walter Becker were nothing but late-sixties snoot collegiate kids on that drug 'n cooze trip so typical of the upper class pampered menial of a snob youth, and we all know what kinda music them kinda brats used to go for before the advent of amerindie rock, eh?

No big surprise that I find MAJOR DUDES about as exciting as the vast majority of the music that the group produced. Edited by Barney Hoskyns (a scribe that I never had any beef over although I must admit I'm not all that familiar with his works), this anthology of interviews/articles/record reviews covers the Fagan/Becker Danglomerate that was ultimately so flatliner in the realm of music in general that it was no wonder these guys became rock critic faves. It collects a smattering of features, reviews and interviews from o'er the years and well, if you think I would have snatched this 'un up if Charles Shaar Murray and Jonh Ingham weren't included than you're way way off target even more'n you usually are regarding my own tastes, opinions and goals.

An interesting fact about this book is that, although this was by and for Steely Dan freaks both Murray and Ingham's contributions are what one would call less than favorable. That's one good thing (at least for this anti-snob rock maven) about MAJOR DUDES --- Hoskyns wasn't afraid to slip a little negativity into the mix but that still doesn't stop the onslaught of perhaps somewhat overboard platitudes that are to be found therein. Not that it's anything that would be uninteresting let alone downright upsetting, but if you want to read a passel of interviews with the usually detached (and at times boring) Fagan/Becker team and wade through the same kind of rock writing you've been trying to avoid your entire life then I'd tell you to spend your shekels on the newest Gwandanaland collection for a way more satisfying back brain rubdown.

Much of the time the scribes who appear are just as boring as their subject. I mean, I have nothing personal against MELODY MAKER's Chris Welch, a guy who beefed that paper up with his emphasis on progressive rock which, fortunately for them found a certain niche in the minds of the 70s record buying public, but that doesn't mean that I have to enjoy what he has written here. Actually his entry's one of the better articles to show up in MAJOR DUDES, but despite that I'd guess you'd hafta be a really diehard fan of this act to really get down to brass tacks enjoying those tales of Bard College and the hard life as staff writers at ABC/Dunhill records.

BUT ONCE YOU DIG DEEP INTO THE CORE OF IT ALL...despite the Burroughs ref, eye catching album cover art and Cathy Berberian namedrop, Steely Dan were ultimately just Ivy League decadents who chose the highfalutin' path to musical fun and big bux martinis and munchies jamz while, for the most part, pianist Fagan got his notoriety with some rather yawnsville Ray Charles impressions that only make the entire white guy doing the black groove thing stink even more to high heaven. Maybe an appraisal of those earlier efforts which did house some singles that sounded good in the early-seventies mix of AM hitting its stride would be in order, so who knows what the future holds in store regarding an eval of CAN'T BUY A THRILL or even its next few followups. After all, if Russell Desmond can name his fanzine after it maybe I can ooze some snide decadent early-seventies fun 'n jamz outta the things.

Saturday, April 13, 2024

BOOK REVIEW! AIN'T IT FUN --- PETER LAUGHNER & PROTO PUNK IN THE SECRET CITY BY AARON LANGE (Stone Church Press, 2023)

I'm sure I can hear a whole lotta you regular readers out there thinking HAS IT REALLY COME TO THIS????? Is a "graphic novel" about Peter Laughner and the Cleveland "first wave" groups really necessary, can something like this really be represented honestly (and accurately) in comic book form?  And would the end results come off looking like some haughty artzy expression regarding past energies misinterpreted by a new generation of kids wallowing about in a nth generation faded version of the original thrust? 

Or has it come to the point where all of the OCD Velvet Underground fans and punk rock hunters and gatherers of the sixties and seventies have finally been vindicated after years of scorn and being misinterpreted by critics and downright dolts and ON PURPOSE at that? Maybe every suburban slob who stocked up on the high energy big beat and usually got grief for it can bask in the glory that this book has shown whose music really stood the test of time, not that standing the test of time is any testament to the ultimate worth and intensity of the sounds at hand as if anyone should even care, but after all of those years of rejection and loathing directed at folk like us maybe we can do some sneering back at our detractors and bask in some long-deserved revenge.

Hmmm, the visuals are very good, not quite underground comix-ish but extremely professional. Kinda reminds me of some newspaper sports "Believe it or Not"-styled page filler. Layouts are extremely eyeball catching and the detail and committal for exactness is also to be commended. The storytelling well --- I gotta find that I find it a whole load "splurge" for my own tastes what with author Aaron Lange gathering up all sortsa shards and storytelling that might give a good seedy background regarding the whole Northeast Ohio saga, but he does manage to work it out so that everything from Elliot Ness and Sam Sheppard to Kent State, DA Levy and Ghoulardi sorta ties in together and the results don't come off looking like some pseudointellectual garble worthy of a book report on gender fluid left-handed Hopi Indians.

The main thrust here is the Cleveland (and various surrounding environs) rock 'n roll underground of the seventies, its gestation and spawn as well. And with Peter Laughner, who you could say was the mad genius and true lover of music whose own case of "too much too soon" led to his own sad and no ways romantic demise. Lange did his homework and captured a whole load of the nerve breaking power and pure genius that came out of that time and place, keeping it all rather focused even when he knots together all sorts of loose strands to create an image of the time and aura that I will say was etapoint. Yeah, the guy leaves out quite a few large and I would think important chunks (like no mention of Brian Sands and his pioneering work with Moses/Mouse/Milk) plus his dismissal of the Raspberries will get your head scratchin', but on other points Lange sure knew what the score was regarding the massive amount of passion and devotion of the bared-wire intensity that got the Cleveland underground a world wide reputation that I know very few people in the area even knew (or cared for that matter) existed.

Thankfully those groups that were so vehemently ignored or even outright scorned during one of the more fertile time in garage band expression are once again given their fair dues. Mirrors appear briefly which I guess wouldn't please a good portion of the members given their disdain for Laughner and the whole Plaza Apartments art colony, but there's more'n you could bargain for when it comes to the Electric Eels and the truths and fabrications that even got 'em a brief if un-named mention in CREEM regarding the lawn mower incident at the Viking Saloon. Something which most likely never did transpire but well, we can pretend.

Of COURSE I love it to pieces when Lange shows up the Cleveland media and the lunkhead "rock" fans for the general dolts they were and I assume remain. Local FM giant WMMS is given its dues for their early innovation in the field of a truly free format where the new and trend breaking could get played next to the firmly entrenched, but Lange gets major kudos for telling us just how that all went down the tubes once the concept of AOR proved you can make a mint catering to a clientele that had somehow figured rock 'n roll to be an update of their parents' passion for the blander, cornier aspects of the big band era. There is an emphasis on just how bad things were for the high energy contingent in this supposed "rock city", a place where such one-dimensional "talents" as Michael Stanley and Pat Benetar were considered the epitome of musical entertainment while the real mavericks and movers hadda struggle to make the rent and pay the bills. I'm sure glad that Lange gave that entire time in rock history a nice swift kick in the balls because frankly, considering the "conspiracy of silence" that these groups suffered from, it sure needs one.

But hey, this book is mainly about Laughner, a guy who was perhaps THEE mover and shaker and town crier for the harder, more feral aspects of a music scene that got its due long after it was dead and gone. Lange must've had a whole wagonload of index cards telling everything about the man and his influence on not only the bubbling under music scene (from folkies to rockers as well as the mainstream if you can imagine), but on those he would come in contact with throughout his almost quarter century of existence. And with the ups and downs and Laughner's shedding of self-control along with his friends it does make for a harrowing read, and perhaps a warning that you know anyone who reads this will never ever heed. 

So eh, this is a good enough one to dish out the big bux for or at least beg someone to get it for you (the smart way). A graphic novel about Laughner and Cleveland might not be the epitome of some sort of much needed vindication for what happened a good half-century back but its a start and like, I for one am glad it all happened.

Thursday, April 04, 2024

So h'warya? Unless you are one of my many enemies doin' fine I hope, what with all of those siorees and lunchies with the big names that you've been invited to 'n all. Unlike most if not all of you swinging souls out there my life hasn't exactly been a-go-go 'r anything remotely exciting, mainly counting flowers on the wall, playing solitaire with a deck of 51, smoking cigarettes and watching CAPTAIN KANGAROO, but despite the lack of cotillions on my events calendar I am keeping myself happily occupied somewhat when time permits. 

But I must say there is one thing, and one thing ONLY, that keeps my spirits up these days, and that's being by myself on a nice day, y'know the kinda day yer mom said you should be outside playing 'stead of cooped up in your room, listening to music and reading old fanzines and articles pertaining to (or even pertaining not to) the music being blasted on the ol' Victrola. Really, there is nothing that gives me that old blissful feeling than to settle back with an issue of DENIM DELINQUENT (or the stacks of Nick Kent/Jonh Ingham/Giovanni Dadomo/Don Snowden/Howard Wuelfing... articles I copied offa Rock's Back Pages) while spinning an old Patti Smith bootleg or sixties punk rock sampler, osmosing all of those old feelings I had when I was much younger knowing that my purchase of a 99-cent Flamin' Groovies cutout was definitely the crowning achievement of the day if not week/month/year. 

I get a similar feeling in the evening watching old Hanna Barbera cartoons (and of course THE RIFLEMAN) thinking about the joy I had experiencing such viewing (even though I was too mindmushed to even know what was going on) back during those glorious pre-kindergarten days when life really was lived to the fullest! Yeah, once you get down to the plain ol' truth of it all I am the modern-day equivalent of that ancient relative of your youth with one foot in the grave who lived in his own world and his own past and spun 78s (or even wax cylinders for all I know!) while reminiscing about Alphonse and Gaston. 'n although you hipper 'n hip plastic jewelry and caked on makeup types might think differently, was there anything wrong with your (great-great-GREAT [and I do mean great!]) grandpa doing such things anyway considering just how out of time and out of circulation the old turd was? In some ways, I feel honored to be traipsing into their long-gone footsteps even if one of them feet is leading to the big ditch of eternity.

Okay, that's all older'n Methuselah news. I've told you all about my personal pleasures and peeves over and over ever since day uno and you're definitely bored silly about the me that nobody knows 'n all that. But I won't stop until everyone on this orb of ours knows the plain ol' truth, and not only that but joins me in my rather simple pleasures at that 'stead of acting all so high minded and moralistic (in the worst connotation of that term) like you always seem to do! Rock 'n roll, NANCY and black and white tee-vee versus anal sex and violent protests--- the choice is up to YOU!

***

The definite highlight of the past umpteen weeks has hadda've been the arrival of a 1974 vintage issue of CREEM not only into my abode, but into my heart as well (ooh!). Anyone who has read this blog knows just how sick and sorry most if not all writing about rock 'n roll (or even rock singular) has become these past fortysome years (well, it matches most if not all of the rock 'n roll music that has come out during that span of time), so me latching onto an old copy of this hallowed publication that I've never laid eyes upon certainly is a momentous occasion. An event good enough to wash away all of the horrid music "criticism" that has graced my eyeballs ever since the deep six of such good/evil icons as Lester Bangs and the arrival of the cut 'n paste that was nothing but some goon kid playing patty cake with the record labels in order to get in on the gravy train. And if you think I'm jealous that I never was successful with such a ruse well...you're right.

This January '74 ish is a winner too, one that's given me more'n a few excuses to head for the toilet and a better one than had I chug-a-lug'd a bottle of prune juice to get the ol' system rollin'. While ROLLING STONE was exploiting the worst aspects of Baby Doomer kultur make the world safe for James Taylor and his first family of rock consciousness, CREEM grabbed the beautiful consumerist/hedonistic side of Amerigan teenboisms by the spine eschewing alla that BLESS THE BEASTS AND CHILDREN offal that was so prevalent that even the teachers used to shove it down our throats! 'n yeah, although I've told you the exact same thing regarding the essence of "cool" (Iggy, early Alice, VU...) versus "stool" (James, Joan, Melanie...) throughout my entire "career" well, I won't stop until everyone reading this GETS THE MESSAGE just as to why I absolutely loathe the entire concept of that ball-less brotherhood I hadda endure during my shoulda been mis-spent youth! Judging from the doofs who leave comments or get in touch "personally", that will definitely be until my dying day.

Cover spot's got that old child pornography-lovin' has-been Pete Townsend doing one of those leaps I'll bet he can't' do no mo', complete with an article by none other'n Charles Shaar Murray which undoubtedly was some abridged NME piece but that's fine enough by me. And if you're a fan of the likes of Murray and the other seventies heavy duty ROCK 'N ROLL FANS MAKING THEIR PASSIONS FOR THE MUSIC KNOWN VIA THE PAGES OF VARIOUS PUBLICATIONS you should love this ish as well what with a great Tee-Vee column from R. Meltzer that'll get you laughing way more'n the time you watched that SALO/ILSA, SHE WOLF OF THE SS double feature, to CREEM star Bangs more/less extrapolating on that hamburger chain rundown that he did for TEENAGE WASTELAND GAZETTE! Of course it was all laid out for you with such a fervor that you could just see 'n hear alla them self-conscious world saving yammering Student Council type of kids you went to stool with all aghast and indignant that precious pulp was "wasted" on articles such as this while there were all those grape pickers, sharecroppers and homos to worry about, to which I say "GOODY FOR YOU!!!!!"  C'n you all act a li'l normal and leave me be for once and let me enjoy myself???

Bangs does put in more of his share what with some pretty good winners such as a double review of Hawkwind's SPACE RITUAL and Amon Duul II's LIVE IN LONDON (his writeup of Bowie's PIN UPS, which even he recognizes as England's answer to NUGGETS, or something along those line, is a winner as well). The guy even wrote a buncha book reviews including one of Duke Ellington's autobiography and blesses us with a piece on Savoy Brown (who never really flibbened my jib), and need I tell you that the aforementioned burger rundown actually had me running to the freezer to pull out at least a dozen White Castle "sliders" as they now call 'em? Rock history abounds here what with a piece on an up 'n coming Elliot Murphy not to mention the latest on the Iggy/Elton friendship complete with a snap that looks as if it was taken in the corner of the upstairs at Max's Kansas City.

And of course the usual CREEM names pop up like Billy Altman and Jaan Uhelzski, the latter with a review of Cher's HALF BREED which definitely ranks as one of the laff riots of the season (the review as well as the album I s'pose --- another obviously beyond belief joke but fitting for the hackneyed reputation of this blog).

Lemme tell ya --- after fifty years these old issues of CREEM sure do hold up swell, a whole lot more'n anything I've seen pro-wise either in print or in pixel for quite a long time. More proof to the plain ol' truth as to what I've said for ages, that we sure have devolved from being futuristic, level-headed and fun-lovin' people (the kind who were around when I was but a mere sprout) to high minded moralists (in the worst possible connotation of the term) who are nothing more than the dictatorship of the sexual pervo nutjobs who mighta seemed funny enough back then but nowadays make those 1930 communist shock troops look like a buncha boy scouts combing the streets looking for old pop bottles!

***

BLOG TO COMM DRINK OF THE POST! It's a milkshake, only the kind that they sell in New England or else it would be a frappe! Get some milk (I use skim because I don't want to pack on even more pounds than I already have on my living corpse), put it in a blender, add sweetener (sugar or sucralose which I use because ditto) and some vanilla (I use the imitation cheap stuff because it tastes better!). Maybe even something that's 100 proof if you want to make it of the Korova variety, then let it go! It'll turn out all foamy and frothy and alla that fun stuff, and it's a real joy lettin' it all go down the gullet! Kinda like an eggnog without the raw egg that we were once allowed to consume until the goody two shoe health nuts told us nay! Lotsa sweetener really adds to the overall tastebud explosion and like, if you like milkshakes and have no ice cream on hand now you know what to do! Any place can be a soda fountain now, and with Great Shakes long gone this will make for a fine substitute.

***

Somebody get me a copy of this for my birthday. Or just get me a copy even if it ain't my b-day, I don't care!

***

I'm surprised at myself for actually buying the first two albums up for review only a measly three or four weeks ago. Trying to keep my purse strings tight sure is difficult when something of interest (let alone worth) does hit the boards, and although I actually think I could have done without the Harrison and Raiders albums reviewed below low sales resistance me just couldn't pass 'em up. Talk about a linguine spine! Anyway the other items under scrutiny (and man, are there a TON of 'em!) were burned for me by Robert Forward (special thanks for the Laughner one!) and Paul McGarry, two people who I get the feeling like this blog for some strange reason (Lord knows why). And I do feel bad for them...I mean, to be associated with me even in the slightest has been utter poison for years!


George Harrison-WONDERWALL MUSIC LP (Apple Records)

Prior to snatching this 'un up I've only heard that "alternative" version of WONDERWALL, the review of which can be found here. I kinda like the idea that I finally have this platter in my possession because well, I used to see this in the bins as a kid and it (like the Lennon/Ono effort LIFE WITH THE LIONS) looked so interesting. Nowhere as fun as ELECTRONIC SOUND but worth at least a wee bit of scrutiny. Funny, I said that the alternative take wasn't enough to get me to wanna dish out the beaucoup for a flesh-and-blood copy but here I go doing just that at least as far as this album went!

***

Paul Revere and the Raiders-IN THE BEGINNING LP (Jerden Records)

Haw! This is the Raiders' Sande LP that got reissued with an updated cover (which, given the presence of Phil Volk's Vox bass guitar, hints at the then-current chart-topping lineup!) in order to capitalize on the group's newly found fame. Not only that but it was reissued by the same label that gave us the final Sonics LP which gives the thing some added coolness in my book! I think this is supposed to be a live 'un and it does have that roller rink-y sound but anyway, IN THE BEGINNING really captures the spirit of the pre-Beatles local group ethos what with the rather kinetic performance as well as the emphasis on trashy GOLDEN GOODIES VOLUME 13-styled instrumental workouts. All covers (I think) too. If you didn't get the Sande reissue that came out in the early eighties this just might be somewhat easier to get your mitts on. Check your local specialty record shop, and don't balk at the price even tho I got mine relatively cheap.

***

THE PERFUMED GARDEN 7/12/67 CD-r burn

Dunno if "7/12/67" means July 12th or December 7th like they do it in Europe. But whatever the date this aired here's yet another John Peel aircheck from the days when he was doing the kind of freeform Pirate Radio that a whole load of broadcasters shoulda taken their cues from but eschewed in favor of album oriented prim and properness.

Peel's program is undoubtedly very similar to just what most if not all of the early freeform FM programming cornucopia was most definitely like. Lotsa good music that was up and coming during the late-sixties is played and you ('stead of some asshole radio programmer) were the judge. And with the likes of the Velvet Underground, Beatles (semi-yeesh!), Donovan (yeesh!), Jefferson Airplane (yeesh as well) and Jeff Beck (no yeesh, maybe) 'mongst others to choose from you get a way more exciting slice of what a truly wide open radio format focusing on a wide spectrum of brilliant and doofsville music shoulda been!

Really surprising's the ad for Vitalis which sounds so strange for being a late-fifties styled commercial airing on a hip late-sixties radio show! Really, do you think anybody listening to this station had a need for it? Given the proliferation of aged baldies like myself I doubt there's even a market for it anymore!

***

Can-LIVE IN PARIS 1973 2 CD-r burn (get it here)

Fresh off the web's this nifty download featuring those krautrock greats during one of the many highs in their career of ups, ups, even more ups then a jump off the cliff low they ended their long run on. This particular show ain't exactly one of the group's better live recordings but the thing sure does bop on the EGE BAMYASI grooves that were causing somewhat of a ruckus at least in hipper'n here Europe. Nice enough rendition of "One More Saturday Night" which ain't as good as the LP but better'n nada. Fantastic sound quality, if you're the kind of Hi-Fi nut who goes for such things even at the cost of the the feral nature at hand. Good job in all, but when is someone gonna release some Malcolm Mooney-era screech for our begging ears?

***

Dr. Feelgood/Downliners Sect-PEEL SESSIONS CD-r burn

I think the Feelgood tracks were already released back when alla those Peel 12-inchers were comin' out a good fortysome years back but whaddeva, it's good having 'em collected in one place without hearing those snips of Peel intros intrudin' on the thing. It's Feelgood and you already know what it sounds like so for the sake of space I'll refrain. Highlights include a bloozed up version of the Strangeloves punker "Night Time" which, as you'd guess, makes George Thorogood's missing on all points version sound like the theme to CHILDREN'S TEA PARTY TIME.

It's nice that the Downliners Sect were bestowed with a slot on Peel as well considering just what a lousy rap these guys got for years on end. By '77 it seemed that the world finally caught up with them and these tracks have all of the same sorta pounce and energy as the Feelgoods and the rest of those blue wave outfits that made the white English r/b of the past refreshing once again. Not only that, but these guys are still at it after over sixty years which I gotta say is a big feather in their deerstalker caps, don'tcha agree???!!!

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Glenn Branca-PRIMAVERA SOUND 2011 WFMU CD-r burn

Mixed feeling regarding these classically-inclined people who used rock 'n roll as a foothold into the world of beret and stale doritos aht-ziness. I mean, once you think about all of those art rock types who seemed so dead set on giving us the big beat yet ended up well ensconced in the definitely anti-rock world of chic cosmo upnosieness you do get the feeling that you've been HAD. Still these Branca recordings got that hard-edged repeato-riff drive that even lunkheads like myself can appreciate on a non snoot level. Grating sheets of sound coming off like one of those subsets of heavy metal that developed o'er the years --- y'know, the kind of metallic K.O. that had them hair band lunkheads of the eighties running home to their mamas crying once they lent ear to that maddening sound. Just don't take it too seriously lest you go searching for a cigarette holder to brandish about.

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MARY JANE/THE HELLCATS original soundtracks slapped onto one disque by Robert Forward (MARY JANE originally on Tower Records, THE HELLCATS originally on Capitol/Sidewalk Records)

I do appreciate Mr. Forward sending a burn of this my way. Y'see, I never did get the chance to see MARY JANE when it was on tee-vee. T'was being aired locally on (I believe) a Sunday evening during the summer of (again, I believe) 1976 and that very day the entire fambly had to partake in an outdoor flea market/antiques show, the kind where you get up at five in the morning and are on the go until you get home fourteen hours later. Well, I sure wanted to see MARY JANE and remember telling everyone to hurry up so's we could get home in time (just like I did one Saturday afternoon when RIOT ON SUNSET STRIP was on!)...well, despite my pleas of asking dad to break the speed limit we got back about halfway through the film. Too bad we hadda unload the station wagon and all before I could settle down to watch the thing, which I couldn't due to all of the work that was still in store lugging boxes and whatnot down to the basement. I had the tee-vee on while scooting things about, but all I remember catching of the film was the line where someone mentions about the hashish making some soaked soul feel warmer! Sad to say I never got another chance to see MARY JANE so I am grateful to Mr. F for at least airmailing the soundtrack to these parts.

Never got to lay eyes upon THE HELLCATS either but then again it ain't like it was on tee-vee on a day I had to be at a flea market. The soundtrack with them typically American International pop sounds was probably better than the actual film, but then again what the people on IMDB said about THE HELLCATS I'm sure that the home movies rotting away in your attic were better viewing fare.

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Various Artists-MUSIC FROM THE SOUNDTRACK EASY RIDER CD-r burn (originally on ABC/Dunhill Records)

Speaking of sixties youth market soundtrack albums, I've heard that this was perhaps the best of 'em to have ever wiggled its way into your bell bottoms and roach clip big brother's record collection. Dunno if that's true since I also heard the same thing about CANDY but still, if you liked the moom pitcher you might just like this 'un. Given that I only saw EASY RIDER onna late show and thought it was merely okay (at least that ending with those two guys in the pickup was a great piece of cinematic flash) maybe this mix of countrified youth kultur mewls and psychedelic leftovers doesn't quite gel. The good stuff (Steppenwolf, Holy Modal Rounders...) you've heard elsewhere, while the hippie druggo sounds just go right through my system into the toilet bowl of my psyche. Still wanna hear the Fraternity of Man platter though if only for their version of the Mothers' "Oh No" (in case ya didn't know but Elliot Ingber, the guitarist on FREAK OUT who Zappa fired for being a better player, was in the group a few years before his stint with the Captain, Beefheart that is).

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Gordon Jackson-LOOKING BACK CD-r burn (originally on Sunbeam Records)

Never having been a Traffic fan the fact that this album is practically saturated with that group's signature style or whatever it's called had little if any appeal. Thus the overt progginess of LOOKING BACK doesn't exactly endear itself to anything in my musical makeup that I'd care to dwell upon. I was expecting a Tim Buckley-esque smart folky singer-songwriter bent but I guess that's out of the question with this slicked up chick backup vocalist and cleencut sound that just seemed like another forty-plus minutes of my life taken up with air ne'er to return.

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Mandra Gora Lightshow Society-BEYOND THE MUSHROAM (sic?) GATE CD-r burn (originally on Liquid Sound Records)

I know, haven't we had enough English psychedelic upheaval groups these last fortysome years? Well, one more won't hurt and these Mandra Gora guys do a pretty fair job recreating the sixties mystique for people who probably couldn't care less about it. It has some of the Hawkwind style with loads of late-sixties Pink Floyd (there's a horrible cover of "Point Me at the Sky" ----eh!) and Doors organ mixed in with what sounds like a more sophisticated 1967 UFO/Middle Earth-styled elven bop. Might be somewhat proggo and/or boring in spots for you and I do understand.

***

NATIONAL STEAM CD-r burn (originally on Eternity's Feet Records)

Electronic music from the late-nineties that reminds me a whole lot of the Stardrive (featuring Robert Mason) albums. That is, seventies-styled syntho quasi-rock (with some sidesteps into white funk) that actually sounds good to me if only because it reminds me of all the fun I had watching mid-seventies television what with all that synthomusic being used to push everything from Drano to the late movie. Some krauty ambience effects a la Cluster add to an entertaining get down that'll remind you of some of the more innovative moments of seventies experimentation. Then again the more, er, overwrought moments might just make you grab the syrup of swill and thus I wouldn't trade my entire booty of PEBBLES and BOULDERS albums for it. And neither would you.

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Myriam Gendron-QUARANTUNES SERIES #4 

Don't look for this anywhere but here. Gendron once again provides us with some of the oozy laid back folk strums that made the other two or three (lost count) efforts of hers a surprise spin for even a guy who hates them creeps with their protest signs and peace cymbals 'n all. Intelligent enough acoustic odes to a strange dampered (just made that word up, neet eh?) world that I don't think woulda gotten this gal any guest spot on HOOTENANNY had she been 'round a good sixty years back. Even Judy Collins during a "heavy" Midol day couldn't compete with the dark yet dainty paens of Gendron!

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Troposphere 7-TO KEYI TOKO ZONGA LP (Feeding Tube Records)

Last minute addition's this new effort from the always keeps you on your toes Feeding Tube record label. And like most of the others, this is one that's bound to surprise you/make you reconsider your past musical prejudices/send waves of revulsion down your inner being (if you're a cube that is) given the sheer beyond the realm of your consciousness sonics encountered therein. It starts off sounding something like kinetic Afro/electronic world music before heading into new age a-go-go territory before some repeato riff sounds charge in backing ancient tribal rituals. Even borders late-seventies krautrock unto early-eighties electronic dance territory if that's your swing of things. Nothing that I would call nerve-end fraying or life-reaffirming for that matter, but a good enough effort that'll sate those of you few smart types reading this looking for an even newer aural excursion.

***

When I conceived BLACK TO COMM I envisioned a magazine that one would be proud to read on the toilet. Many years later I feel that it not only lived up to my expectations but it perhaps even exceeded my initial goals --- yes, BLACK TO COMM  is a mag you would be proud to read even at a public urinal, especially a trough one! Get yourself a copy or ten and, shall I say. be sure your hand is firm and your aim is steady!

Tuesday, March 19, 2024

BOOK REVIEW! CAPTAIN ATOM : THE STEVE DITKO STORIES (Gwandanaland Comics, 2022)

What SON OF VULCAN lacked in general comic book hero decency is made up many times over with this well-remembered Steve Ditko entry into the Charlton Comics canon. Not that CAPTAIN ATOM would have ever made it as a Marvel hero (too mentally stable) but these stories are so straight on without the camp and stretching of belief so common with the competition that it fits into its own niche if only for that!

I'll admith that the early stories are somewhat staid and come off quite one-dimensional compared with what Ditko was producing at Marvel at just about the same time (kinda weird to know that he was double timing as an important cog in the makeup of two comic book companies simultaneously), but then again some of those early Spiderman efforts had somewhat of a wonkiness to 'em so don't let that creep into your crack like some old jockeys. But they're still good and even got better once Ditko eventually fled Marvel and settled into Charlton as perhaps their biggest selling point thanks to all of the comic credo he had built up at the competition.

Heck, the post-Marvel Atoms have a particularly strong Marvel influence. Not as mid-sixties campy as just about everything else touching the entertainment medium true, but still somewhat similar if only for those Stan Lee-esque surprise endings and unique villains that you sure wish were good guys (take the Ghost whose rather nifty costume sports Spidermanesque eyes) which is why you end up rootin' for 'em over the heroes. Really a surprise to those of you who only knew Charlton from their hot rod, girly and comic strip/TV tie in efforts.

If you've poured through those old Spiderman and Dr. Strange compendiums and want a li'l extra kick well, do I have to tell you what to do, sap?

Tuesday, March 12, 2024

A RATHER BOLD EDITION OF "SINGLES GOING STROONAD" (a.k.a. I can't seem to figure out why the entire post ended up this way even after hours of hard scrutiny, and yes I checked all of the <b></b>'s and other settings but still came up total goose eggs)


 
The Troggs-"The Raver"/"You" (Page One Records)

Along with "Come Now" and "Feels Like a Woman", this Troggs track proves just how well attuned to the late-sixties/early-seventies high end of AM hot pop (or FM freeform if there were enough well-attuned program directors) they undoubtedly were. The grinding melody and twanging Jew's harp adds all the right tone colors and spice just needed to help beef up these Troggs sides even more, and it is too bad that the suburban bell bottom hippie wannabe market wasn't as attuned as it shoulda been or else this mighta've been a hit. Sheesh, the Kinks crawled onto the charts with "Lola" just around the same time so why not the Troggs? Flip is a standard bouncy pop effort not unlike quite a few other numbers to be found in these guys' catalog, nothing that I would call startling but still a testament to the eternal tuned-in-ness of the Troggs.

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The Stooges-"Open Up and Bleed" (no label bootleg)
 

You already know... The Whisky-A-Go-Go version of the famed Stooges aural attack in all its lo-fi glory split between two green vinyl sides. The first being the creepy crawl beginning with Scott Thurston's harmonica weaving in and out of a beautiful repeato riff owing a whole lot to the early Velvet Underground (pardon my French) filtered through Alice Cooper at the height of his prowess. The second being the raging "LA Blues"-styled climax complete with feedback galore and a glitzed-out audience that probably didn't know (or care) what was goin' on. A perfect part of the late-sixties/early-seventies cataclysm in rock which gave us peons a good slice of sonic liberation that boldly stood against all of that peace 'n love hucksterism which unfortunately seemed to take the entire world by storm.
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The Misfits-"Cough/Cool"/"She" (Blank Records reissue [obviously counterfeit] for jerkoffs like me who were too stupid to get it the first time)

This ain't your daddy's Misfits. More like your granddaddy's Misfits from way back in the days when they were a trio playing a driving electric piano dominated music that was sound quite different from the hardcore overdrive these guys made their fazoola with. The presence of this particular keyboard (or as the credits say, "electric sync piano") presents a nice throb of a pulse that recalls Suicide while overall the bunch seem to be hovering closer to the "progressive punk rock" style as exemplified by the likes of TV Toy and perhaps a few other NYC area acts that I'm sure never got 'round to issuing anything. Nothing to be afraid of in case you're cautious of what others may think. Of course more from this particular period in time would be welcome.
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The Fun Things-"Where the Birdmen Fly", "Lipstick"/"(I Ain't Got) Time Enough For You", "Savage" 33 rpm 7-inch EP) (no label)

Dunno who put this mofo together but it sure is a fine reminder as to why Australia was the last hope during a time when high energy scions of rock and roll cataclysms past like ourselves were losing hope in a sea of MTV and the dinge of feelygood myopia. "Where the Birdmen Flew" is homage to Australian rock practitioners past taking the initial thrust and multiplying it in ways even the originators never could fathom, while "Lipstick" is more kineticism taken to the extreme where it ricochets just like that bullet in Andy Warhol's ribcage.  "Time Enough For You" is Rocket From the Tombs' "What Love Is" emulated and flipped over a few times. Closing out this reish's "Savage" which makes the case for the inclusion of Narcan with every purchase of this platter. When God wipes out Australia for its crimes he will spare this 'un. 

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JOHN MENDELSOHN'S THE PITS EP (Bomp Records)

It's a given. If you liked Sparks and Christopher Milk as well as Earle Mankey's "Mau Mau" single you're just bound to go whole hog for this slab of El Lay rock 'n preen. You already know that Mendelsohn was not only a member if the original Sparks but Christopher Milk, and besides that he was (is?) a rockscribe of some renown...heck he's the guy who coined the phrase "garage band" which should earn him all the brownie points in the world even if I never cared for the stuff he used to write for CREEM back inna eighties. 

The Pits weren't anything that was going to shake the music industry to its rotten core but they had that El Lay take on the English rock pulse down flat. The so-called "disco" influence is miniscule at best (more mid-seventies bump 'n grind than late-seventies Travolta cheese) so I wouldn't be so self-conscious about listening to this if I were you. I'll bet this would have been a hit at Rodney's English Disco had that teenbo hangout stayed around long enough.

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The Nurses-"Love You Again"/"I Will Follow You" (Teen-A-Toons Productions)

Howard Wuelfing never was what I'd call one of my favorite of the 3rd string rockscribes (he was up there!), but he sure did more than his share for THE cause! Not only with his writings for various publications both fan and pro but with a number of musical endeavors, his tenure with 1/2 Japanese sticking out foremost in my mind. The Nurses well --- not up there with the Japanese but they're still nice enough in that late-seventies new pop that was springing up all over the fruity plain sorta way. It doesn't have that hard gnarl one would have expected after reading Wuelfing's various writings re. everything and everyone from Can to Einsturzende Neubauten but sometimes things like that get in the way of my critical thinking. A good enough cramitintoyourskull distillation of that hard pop music that used to sound so revolutionary given that the times they were made in were so staid.

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Bobby Fuller Four-"I Fought the Law"/"Love's Made a Fool of You" (Eric Records)

A too obvious choice for a singles going stroonad session but still pertinent to my everyday sorta being. A somewhat rare release on the Eric label, this is the big 'un from a guy who decided to take on the infamous Morris Levy, a man who had the magical power to make Fuller beat himself up and swallow gasoline, and as you woulda guessed Morris Levy won. A double-sided classic that might not mean too much to most of us, but fortysome years ago this really would have been as prized in my collection as all those scratched singles that harkened back to a past that woulda been one to remember had I only been front and center for what was happening.
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The Bell Notes-"I've Had It"/"Be Mine" (Time Records)

These guys, along with the Fendermen, the Tune Rockers, the Royal Teens and a few other choices out there reallyreallyREALLY should have been on that early garage band sampler I reviewed last year. Yeah, the Bell Notes produced what some might call slightly "gingerbread-y" local rock, but at least it had a good bounce to it undoubtedly done up by the kinda guys who used to mime their music on BANDSTAND while cleaner cut than you'd expect teenbos sat trying to avoid staring into the camera. Speaking of the Bell Notes, I remember reading how none other than Miriam Linna's own eye doctor was in the group which had me wonderin' whether or not a Bell Notes exclusive was gonna pop up in the next issue of KICKS. None ever did, making me think that perhaps Miriam asked about doing an interview right when doc was doing the pressure test, and he was so startled by the question that the thing done dear rammed right into her socket gouging the dang eyeball out!
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Rockin' Robin With The Wailers-"Rosalie"/"Interview on Bandstand with the Fabulous Wailers" (Eticant Records)

A side's the Wailers with Rockin' Robin Roberts doing a 1961 studio version of the LIVE AT THE CASTLE rouser while the flip's got the audio portion of Dick Clark's post-song chat with the Wailers on AMERICAN BANDSTAND back when "Tall Cool One" was rising up the charts a good two years earlier. Quality's AM car radio good enough for me, and for a guy who spent a good portion of the early-eighties trying to get just about any shard of info on these guys this is a godsend I sure wish came out a whole lot sooner! 

A good encapsulation of high energy rock 'n roll from a time when it was being presented on radio and television just as often as Rinso ads. Too bad this (and a ten-inch Wailers collection of mid-sixties demos) hadda've been put out by a couple of chiselers who not only released this material without the express permission of Etiquette Records but swindled me out of money I paid to have an ad printed in an issue of the duo's DO THE POP! fanzine, a mag that naturally never saw the light of day. (Sure I'm petty, but I'm also poorer as well. Hey, why do you really think I wrote this 'un up in the first place?)
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Chuck Berry-"Little Queenie"/"Almost Grown" (Chess Records)

I suppose I should hate Chuck Berry if only because a whole slew of scrawny wire-rimmed white yammer-ons love him, but I won't stoop to any of their more pious than thou levels falling into their outdated white snivel trap. However, I gotta say that the overdrool regarding the man from the likes of such critics as Richard Reigel really does tend to turn me off of the guy given how these more "mainstream" scribes tend to elevate the man to godhood status, something which is kinda strange given Berry's various bathroom antics and state line crossings. But we gotta separate the man from the music I guess, and I'll try to do my best as usual.

To a fanabla of my musical caste "Little Queenie" is supposed to be (what am I sayin' --- it IS!!!!!) the record that Marc Bolan swiped the closing line to "Get It On" from (see following review) but it's naturally more'n just that. A fairly good blast of late-fifties rock 'n roll so void of the usual traps that I find it extremely hard to think that such a one-dimensional jerkoff of a character such as Potsy Webber from HAPPY DAYS could have ever liked Berry as he was alleged to do in that episode where Richie has to man the store and forgo the rock 'n roll concert. Ditto for "Almost Grown" even if for the life of me the Ruben and the Jets version seems to overtake my mind.

Maybe Berry was singing for the kids instead of to 'em, but from what I heard about those parties of his where he'd corral some young teen things into his motel room and the shit would literally be flying...boy would I hate to have been a maid at one of those Quality Courts!
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T. Rex-"Get It On (Bang a Gong)"/"Raw Ramp" (EMI/Odeon Records, Japan)

And speaking of "Little Queenie" well, I wouldn't exactly call this 'un a ripoff as Nick Kent once surmised. But it's an all-time classic and the song that got me listening to the radio serious-like 'stead of half-heartedly. I went on and on about the glory days of T. Rex and how they affected me in the very last issue of my crudzine so no need to get into it here, but for a surprise the flipster "Raw Ramp" which is not on ELECTRIC WARRIOR pops up and it's a beaut what with the line about "love your breasts" and all. Bound to get the twelve-year-old in you rushing to the bathroom! Sheesh had I heard this way back when I probably woulda done some spontaneous spurting that surely woulda gotten me kicked outta grade school. I mean, trying to control myself in sex ed was bad enough...
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David Bowie-"Space Oddity"/"Wild Eyed Boy From Freecloud" (RCA or Mercury if you got yours at a flea market like I did)

Yeah, I know..."where were you back in '72, was David Bowie the man for you"??? Maybe I'd take those lyrics a li'l more seriously if none other'n Metal Mike Saunders himself wasn't pumping up the Bowie bandwagon via his heavy metallic praise of the former Mr. Jones in the pages of PHONOGRAPH RECORD MAGAZINE. But eh, I believe we all have the right to change our minds, unless we don't have the right that is and according to many of you maybe I don't!

As for me, back when I was a mere adlo and the music of Bowie was first being played on the radio I sure thought his tuneage was the coolest thing to hit the airwaves since the previous Stones single or T. Rex for that matter. Of course when we all discovered just what a creepazoid Bowie really was (and I'm not talking about his weird personal lifestyle or open marriage with Mick Jagger either) maybe those old singles didn't sound as good as we remembered 'em. 

Nowadays with a good 50 years of hindquarters hindsight behind us all I can say is yeah, I guess records like "Oddity" were about as good an encapsulation of the anti-hippoid ideal and sway just as much as the works of other Third Generation spokesmen such as Alice Cooper and of course Bolan. And with rock 'n' roll as a potent force and generator of excitement long washed under the bridge to so speak maybe we can't afford to be as picky about it as we once were in 1979 ifyaknowaddamean...
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Downliners Sect-"Cadillac"/"Roll Over Beethoven (Penniman Records, France)

Recorded mid-'63, this even out-primitives AT NIGHT IN GT. NEWPORT ST. (which you gotta admit was a pretty Cro Magnon platter in itself), so you can just imagine the pounce and teenage earnestness this effort exudes! Actually this slice of Downliners Sect does have the sort of garage primal push that's made more'n a few of their efforts all the more merrier (or punkier if you so desire), and I guess everyone who's been in on the Sect ever since their original albums began getting the fanzine huzzahs in the early-seventies already has this already so why blab any further?
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Talking Heads-"Love Goes To A Building On Fire"/"New Feeling" (Sire Records)

Heh, Talking Heads before they started letting their artzy pretentions get the best of 'em while appearing in horrid videos that embarrassed just about everybody who was championing this bunch only a few years earlier. The horns and other beef ups don't hinder the mid-seventies pop leanings in the least. Dunno or care what you think but I woulda preferred hearing an entire album done up like this as opposed to what we eventually did get...I mean, who wouldn't?. When Greg Shaw wrote that he believed Talking Heads would put out a long player that was on-par with the David's ANOTHER DAY ANOTHER LIFETIME I wonder if he had this single in mind.
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The Four Deuces-"W-P-L-J"/"Here Lies My Love" (Music City Records seventies repro)

Yeah we all know the a-side if only because of Frank Zappa's cover version as well as the fact that a New York radio station changed their call letters to this after the success of BURNT WEENIE SANDWICH. Here's the original which naturally has that Southern California r&b feel to it that wouldn't have sounded out of place in THE WORLD'S GREATEST SINNER...sheesh whenever I hear this, for some odd reason or another I keep thinking of all those Zappa landmark namedrops that conjure up just what a rundown hellhole that the Southern California area musta been even then! Flip's a more streamlined r&b track that's better on this side than that, which only goes to show you what an ignoramus I am about these sorta soundwaves.
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TV Jones-"Eskimo Pies"/"Skimp the Pimp" (Nomad Records)

The only surviving artyfact of this pre-Radio Birdman group, unless someone discovered more and didn't tell me. Pretty good at least as far as being an example of what Deniz Tek did before he did that other thing that he became somewhat well known for. Early version of "I 94" graces the plug side sounding perhaps even better due to the rehearsal room quality while the other side's got this wild raver that for all I know never made it into the Birdman set list but it shoulda given its all 'round rousing abilities. 
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Roogalator-"All Aboard"/"Cincinatti Fatback" 7-inch 33 rpm single (Stiff Records, England)

Must be a post EMI lawsuit edition because my copy came without a WITH THE BEATLES ripoff cover. Whatever the case may be here's an early Stiff single that's pretty hefty on the rootsier aspects of the pub rock experience which made up a good portion of the Stiff roster at least during their earlier days. Sheesh, I could see a number of my elder relatives thinking that, between the swing of "All Aboard" to the short haircuts sported on the missing sleeve that them kids are finally straightening up and listening to good music, at least until they get an earfulla "Cincinatti Fatback" what with its references to poontang (which I doubt they even knew what it meant, but who knows...). If your tastes in mid-seventies punkist desires tended towards the whole Feelgood/Groovies breed of past accomplishments you'll definitely like this 'un.
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Ian Dury-"Wake Up!"/"What a Waste" (Stiff Records, Belgium)

Another Stiffie here, only this is one of those yellow vinyl offerings that popped up in shopping malls nationwide thus making Deviants records once again readily available to the general public. The a-side consists of Dury's big "hit" that was being pushed on FM radio all over the fruity plain, and although I should hate it not only for that but the fact that a faint disco beat can be discerned it does conjure up somewhat happy memories of seventies snazz pop and should be appreciated if only for that. The other side's even jazzier and actually more attuned to my own sense of off-kilter music. Perhaps this is because "What a Waste" reminds me more of the television shows and comic books I was gorging on at the time, but once you get down to it there's nothing at all wrong with that at all. Unless you're a sophisticated creep that is but which one of you readers isn't?
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Died Pretty-LIVE DIED EP (Compassion Explosion Records bootleg)

Back to Australia and these guys who originally made a huge impression on me. Unfortunately after a while the quality of their recordings, like many on the Australian scene of the day, began to wane to the point where all of the original energy the group originally exuded seemed to pretty much evaporate. Not really an extended play as it is a 33 rpm single, the plug's got a version of Lou Reed's "Wild Child" that is somewhat faithful to the original and is good enough that it might have even put a smile on Peter Laughner's face. The other side probably would have as well although it bears only slight resemblance to the Pere Ubu original. Well, at least it does remind me of the kind of music that was making the mid-eighties a way more livable place than had we all hadda rely of the drek that CREEM was pushing on us at the time.
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The Exploited-"Exploited Barmy Army"/"I Believe in Anarchy", "What You Gonna Do" EP (The Exploited Record Company)

Still dunno why it seemed oh-so-cool to dump on these guys, especially when you consider that records like this 'un were keeping the whole Britpunk moo'ment going on and on at a time when every upnose snoot'd go out of his way to declare p-rock's demise. OK you gotta admit that the Exploited were way deep with the likes of Gary Bushell and his demolishing of everything that was once good about SOUNDS, but at least they knew enough to publicly call him a "wanker" when even he jumped on the punk is dead bandwagon. Good enough for me thud snarl that sounds exactly like the same music that seemed so refreshing in the face of MTV moosh only to fizz out worse'n club soda once 1983 began rollin' in.