Thursday, August 22, 2019

DEE-VEE-DEE SET REVIEW! THELMA TODD & ZASU PITTS---THE HAL ROACH COLLECTION 1931-33 (MVD Visual)

It's been nigh on over two decades since my comedy short obsession (which at the time was wiggling well into my classic television and z-grade moom pitcher obsession) pretty much died out after one of those cataclysmic mood alterations hit my usually fragile mind system. But it ain't like I abandoned the classic short subjects idiom considering how I actually went on to purchase such classics as the complete Joe McDoakes collection within the last decade or so. Not only that but at times the usually too staid for my digestive tract TCM cable moom pitcher outlet will air an old Hal Roach short in order to fill up some time before the next overshown Liz Taylor classic pops up and like, frankly I sure could use a whole lot more Charley Chase and a whole lot less Mrs. Richard Burton in my life as I think you can as well.

These early Thelma Todd and Zasu Pitts shorts from the Roach studios sure help ease the pain of having to endure whatever it is that is passing for "comedy" on tee-vee these days...y'know, that endless prattle that seems to permeate every second of my waiting in doctor's offices hours as if watching THE VIEW is supposed to make me forget my upcoming anal probe. Of the early-thirties Roach creations this team was perhaps the better of the batch...THE TAXI BOYS was but a big muddle that tried to ooze out the guffaws while falling flat on its face and while THE BOYFRIENDS coulda turned into a bonafeed teenbo LITTLE RASCALS it didn't have time to really develop into one before that series got the big 86. But the team of Todd and Pitts worked better than anyone not familiar with the two's other filmic efforts would have guessed. Not that these ain't gonna make you bust a gusset while laughing your bean off, but in many ways they worked as mini-dramas set in a humorous theme and you could watch 'em like you would any serio-comedy that might have graced your tee-vee screen since even before the days you were merely piddling around in mom's guts waiting to be popped like a brand new blackhead.

I get the idea that Roach was hoping for a femme Laurel and Hardy with these two, and in some ways he did get it. But even if you aren't one of those types who appreciate the long lost art of feminine pulchritude and down-to-earth sitcom situations based on REAL LIFE (even more needed now than they were when these films were made well over eighty years ago) you can ooze yourself into Thelma Todd's blonde sexpot yet comparatively innocent approach as well as Zasu Pitts' coy and cute Olive Oyl-ish spinstertude. The chemistry works even better'n when you blew up the lab in high school, and the working gal situations are honest portrayals of the real feminine mystique which somehow has eluded all of those women's lip pamphlets and screeds directed at us since the early-seventies.

As with the usual Hal Roach productions the best of the B-grade comedy short supporting actors appear with the usual alarming regularity. Billy Gilbert is pretty much a regular doing his German impressions while the likes of James Morton, Bud Jamison (who wasn't really seen in that many a Roach production, he more or less hanging around studios like RKO, Educational and Columbia where the likes of the Three Stooges gave him more'n their fair share of heck) and Charlie Hall pop up with about as much regularity as they did in the RASCALS. And not surprisingly, in the sole Jules White direction for Roach Monty Collins appears as the manager of temperamental starlet Anita Garvin who pretty much was the definition of total gorgeousness set smack dab in the middle of the lower rung of Hollywood stardom.

And yes, that is Spanky McFarland playing Zasu's baby brother in "One Track Minds", a travelling by train and its travails short that doesn't quite equal Spanky's other train epic "Choo Choo" but you'll get a laff outta it when Sterling Holloway pops in as a candy butcher which is really what they used to call them peddlers back in them days!

Of course I like it on a whole load of levels, from the sexual undertone to the interesting plots that at times just seem to hang in the air at the end of the flick, probably due to the film going over budget. And who couldn't lose more'n just lunch while watching the Coney Island epic "On The Loose" which not only features a cameo by Laurel and Hardy (obviously shot at a different time with a double for Todd shot from the back filling in) but the classic scene where a boy with an all day sucker loses it on the slides and finds it affixed to Todd's butt from beneath her skirt! Lucky kid you!

Saturday, August 17, 2019


HIGH SIX! (THINGS THAT HAVE BEEN LAYING AROUND OR JUST DON'T FIT INTO ANY OF THE OTHER POSTS SO LIKE...TA-DAAH!)


POPEYES LOUISIANA KITCHEN (restaurant)

A Popeyes has just opened where the old Tim Horton's used to be, and the way cars are lined up all the way down the street you'd think that food as well as simple common sense was going out of style! Having heard wonderful things about Popeye's o'er the year (not the in-store brawls that sometimes erupt there!) I stopped by a few times and well, overall I thought the grub was good though man are they (like most fast food restaurants these days) getting way OVERPRICED! But as usual eating out has become a luxury that we can't all afford, but if you're hungry enough boy do you try!

Here's what I got during my various Popeyes excursions:

FRIED CHICKEN: the big deal natch and fairly good what with the crispy batter albeit smaller'n the Colonel's pieces. Can't tell much of a difference between the regular and the spicy making me think either that someone goofed the order or that my taste buds are burned out. I would order a larger portion in order to get my belly nice 'n full but man, I usually like to keep my drive-in orders under two digits!

BISCUITS: teeny compared to McDonalds or KFC and no butter pat is given, but it tastes nice and has melted butter in it anyway. Still not enough for big appetite guys like me who used to clear out those all you can eat buffets during my growing boy adolescent days (and you could tell I was a champeen the way the manager would be out there giving me those evil stares 'n all---but would I let that bother me???)

MASHED POTATOES AND CAJUN GRAVY: sheesh, such a small portion which is gone in like two gulps! The potatoes are rather loose and the gravy, although tasty to the extreme, is thinner than a Biafran. I want gravy you can cut with a scissors, and when I want mashed potatoes they better be piled up really high just oozin' with butter! Next thing you know they're gonna be givin' this stuff out in THIMBLES!

CAJUN RICE: Weird gunk in between the rice and I dunno what the heck it is! Taste is rather feh, though I wouldn't mind trying the rice and beans also on the menu even if I'm bound to get an amount the equal size if not smaller than the potatoes and gravy. Sheesh, what kinda chintzies work there anyway???

PO' BOY: I think they call these sandwiches that because if you buy one you WILL be a po' boy that's for sure! The shrimp one contained about seven or so popcorn-sized pieces in a small hoagie bun with lettuce, tomato and what I think was a weird cheese sauce. The limited edition fish Po' Boy (Lent only?) was much better what with the spicy (I could tell this time!) coating that had that kinda crunch you never got outta the square patties they used to serve in the school cafeteria. The Cajun tartar sauce I used only made this an even messier meal than is usually found with these drive in delicacies but oh wotta mess!
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FINAL VERDICT: good stuff though not quite what I was expectin', what with the skimpy portions and oversized prices. Still, I will probably find myself going back to Popeyes when I get those fried chicken cravings once in awhile and compared with my last visit to Kentucky Fried Chicken which has seen better days (at least the one around here) they might just take the greasy heart-clogging award for good, or at least until someone opens a Church's around here.
***

HI-CHEW CANDY (manufactured by Morinaga)

PEEL ME ANOTHER HI-CHEW, POCAHONTONG! 
If you like chewing gum but hate to have that piece of rubber hanging in your mouth tasting like your mouth is on the receiving end of a "safe sex" blow-a-thon you're in luck. Hi-Chew is a candy that has the texture of chewing gum yet delivers high on the flavor and the chewing satisfaction you get from gum only you don't have to worry about getting appendicitis if you swallow it! Yes, Hi-Chew is a candy that consists of a nice flavored slug of fruity goodness (grape, mango, green apple and strawberry) wrapped in an authentic slab of whale blubber which gives it that lasting jaw chomping satisfaction! Highly flavorable, really chewy and what's best is that the blubber acts as a tooth cleaner getting rid of all those food particles that were trapped giving your smile the clean and wholesome look! And if you do get appendicitis you can blame it on that bad peanut you gulped down, not Hi-Chew that's for sure!
***
CAR OF THE YEAR! Well, actually this car was made in 1954 but it's one automobile that says more about style and ideas in the here and now than anything that's being cranked outta Detroit or any other auto hotspot these sad and sorry days!  The ROLLS ROYCE SILVER WRAITH LWB SPECIAL SALOON, created for real-estate magnate Joseph Mascuch, jumped a whole lotta guns not only with its cool Eyetalian styling and such ahead of its time features as four headlights and a television set, but what makes it the vehicle to end all vehicles is (now get this!) a toilet in the back seat area! Yeah, I know that maybe there should also be one up front for the driver so he can save time making those gas station trips but hey, this sure beats fighting the smell and decay found in your standard Sunoco I'll tell ya! 'n yeah, I guess this car coulda used a little more ventilation or at least a big fan roaring away filtering the smell into the outside world, but technology ain't quite ready for that, I think. I'm really surprised that this particular idea didn't take off with the "head" bosses at the Big Three...I mean here's a car for the man who is REALLY on the go, and I do mean go!!!!
***
ECSTATIC PEACE POETRY JOURNAL #7


Bought this one (and for more money than it was worth!) if only for the ULTIMATELY BOFFO PHOTOGRAPHS OF BLOG TO COMM GULCHERAL HERO R. MELTZER WHICH ADORN THE FRONT AND BACK OF THIS PUBLICATION! The front sports a snap of Meltzer at his hippydippiest state which I've never seen him in before (this state of course) and which surprised me because  for the most part all of the Meltzer snaps I've seen during the height of psychowhatziz showed him a whole lot cleaner and cutter than the usual freak! I mean, Meltzer looks more like George Harrison Bangladeshin' it up here than he does himself and if I saw him way back when I woulda even given the guy a krishna hari hari greeting!

The flip's got a pic of a younger, perhaps AESTHETICS OF ROCK-brewing Meltzer looking rather ragged and juvenile delinquent-ish along with one of those girls he used to go out with, making me wonder if this girl might be the EXACT SAME ONE that Meltzer would write about on occasion whether she be the freakout frail who used to worry about getting knocked up by the guy or the one who got the jitters when she and some other students were in Meltzer's college dorm listening to the Fugs wondering whether the cops were gonna bust in on 'em and arrest the entire bunch!

As far as the innards go well, it's just poetry and for a guy whose tastes in it start and stop with "Milk, Milk, Lemonade" it doesn't really do much if anything at all for me. But those cover pics man...they really stir up a whole slew of funtime Meltzer worship from afar back when the mere mention of his moniker could incite a whole load of heart palpatations in more'n a few CREEM-loving outside-the-outsiders like myself.
***
NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS, DECEMBER 23 1972 ISSUE (English Weekly Newspaper)

Now that I've pretty much read most of the classic early/mid-seventies issues of CREEM magazine I must look elsewhere. Elsewhere for my seventies-era rock fan screeding that is, and what better place to go than to these old issues of NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS what with the writings of the likes of Nick Kent, Charles Shaar Murray, Ian MacDonald (to an extent) and later on Mick Farren and (yeah, I will admit it even though I am loathe to) the comedy team of Tony Parsons and Julie Burchill who seemed to have their rockist sensors on a whole lot tighter than their compats at the other English papers, Giovanni Dadomo and Jonh Inghan excepted. (And where does that put Paul Morley despite his Frankie Says buckskin grab-a-thon?)

Although one issue of NME doesn't quite give you the same bang for the buck as an old Lester Bangs-manned issue of CREEM I gotta say that what you DO get is pretty durn good. Even when you think Kent and Murray are talking out their nether regions or the rest of the staff is just mooshing it up to the big labels and managers for their own personal betterment you still get a pretty good read outta these papers and they sure do their magic work on ya because frankly, when you do disagree with what these guys write you still gotta love 'em because well, they are on your side!

This just-pre-Christmas 1972 issue's got some mighty fine top-notch writing starting with the first part of Kent's Led Zep article which proves that sometimes the writer can make even the less interesting subject matter look good, or at least good enough to the point where you don't have to twist your listening or musical parameters in order to like the music somewhat. You might have read  in Kent's autobio about the gig and big ka-BOOMthat led up to this piece and how things were eventually smoothed out and everyone had a good time, and it sure looks like everyone was doin' fine the way Robert Plant was opening up about his love for the late-sixties West Coast sounds and how James Taylor was like the ultimate in sad sack tired folkie doldrum music. Can't argue with the guy there! So good that I might even splurge to get the second part of this...its rock writing along these lines that should be getting the royal reprint treatment, not that sappy 80s/90s drek that Penguin Books seems to find oh so in touch with the modern Quindlanisms that have passed for honest music appraisals for way too long.

Murray fares well with a small blurb on David Bowie and some live writeups on acts including King Crimson and Osibisa, two groups I never woulda considered right for the man to write up what with all the MC5 and Flamin' Groovies concerts in town. The rest (even MacDonald who I thought was slightly weaker than Kent or Murray in the gonzoid rock approach but comparatively level-headed) are pretty good what with their better than the competition (face it---MELODY MAKER had little if anything on these guys!) takes on the 1972 music set which I must say really do make those times look a whole lot more exciting than those late-seventies punques would have led us to believe all these years! 

Naturally this one feeds the rockist fire in my soul, making me crave for more high-powered rock reading and sounds in my life. Gonna purchase a few more of these when I can get the scratch together but for now will just re-re-re-re-read this issue of NME until it gets the really dog-eared treatment at which point I'll put it into mothballs until my next seventies gonzo-derived rock urge arises. For those of you in the area, I hear that McMaster University in Hamilton Ontario has these classic issues on microfilm so it might be worth your while to mosey on over to read a reel or two and get some power charged into your rock life. Just tell 'em yer doin' a term paper and maybe they'll leave you alone.

(Since I wrote this I got hold of even more old issues with some boffo surprises....Chrissie Hynd(e) on Tim Buckley, more Velvet Underground reunion rumors and everything that wouldn't appeal to your average black-stared foggy-headed FM rock fan of the day! After looking at this and then seeing some of the offal being presented as rock critique these days all I can wonder is---whatever happened to eugenics?)
***
MOBOGO VIETNAMESE RESTAURANT (Hermitage PA)

I was gonna run some comix that Brad Kohler had done for an never to be seen issue of BLACK TO COMM but I can't find 'em. Until I do I guess another restaurant review is in order! And for a kid who grew up with news about the Vietnam War blarin' in and outta his adolescent (and before) ears you'd think that I'd avoid a place like this out of sheer terror, but Mobogo sure has some fine (if expensive) grub up for sale.

No, I won't make jokes about all of the neighborhood dogs and cats goin' missing after this place opened up. I wouldn't dare because the food is really good even if the overabundance of VEGETABLES doesn't give ya that greasy Chinese food buffet sorta glop feeling. Yes, with all of the fresh bean sprouts and cucumber slices you'll be payin' more'n a few visits to the porcelain palace after eating a nice big mean here, but so what because the food is pretty hotcha and even if it will cost you about as much as two classic back issues of my old crudzine you'll be in for a culinary treat that might not be as good as the old Tip Top hot dog drive in (they used to have those hot dog buns that looked like folded slices of bread) but man can not live on pork bellies alone.

The various rice vermicelli dishes with grilled meat or shrimp are highly recommended even if the use of sprouts in with the chewy noodles seems like FILLER more'n anything. The Vietnamese submarines (marinated meat and sprout salad with a sweet dressing and jalapeno peppers---sometimes smeared with liverwurst if you ask 'em nice) are also good though sometimes the bread isn't quite as fresh as I would like. Maybe they have it flown in from Saigon...who knows? And even though cyster liked the Pad Thai I thought it wasn't as good as the kind I used to get at this Thai food stand that they used to have at the Ann Arbor Michigan Fairgrounds where the MC5 used to stomp. That ain't no reason to stop goin' to Mobogo because they have loads of things there that would appeal to you like their green onion pie, and not only that but you can watch 'em make up the stuff rushin' around playin' "Beat the Clock" like they've got grenades strapped to 'em and if they don't make up your order in time...ka-POW! Kinda like in the old days when some six-year-old peasant gal would wander into the local US encampment lookin' all cute and nobody knew just how booby trapped she really was!

The place is small---used to be a pizza joint, but they opened a small dining area in what used to be the UPS drop off so's you don't have to eat at home if you don't wanna. And if you're lucky you might even get a floor show like when something topples over and everyone in the kitchen starts panicking in Vietnamese rushing around doing this and that to clean up the mess. It kinda makes me glad that the USA lost that 'un and all these refugees flooded the land back in the mid-seventies. Much better'n had we fought and failed in Scotland and we hadda get inundated with Scottish refugees sellin' us haggis 'n blood pudding, that's for sure!

Thursday, August 15, 2019

UGLY THINGS #51

Like putting up your screen windows or changing your underwear, the arrival of the latest UGLY THINGS is definitely a part of the year one looks most forward to. This new ish is no exception, not only with the bevy of TRUE (real, no frills attached) rock 'n roll that's brought up in these pages but with the usually fine (with one or two exceptions, but why quibble?) writing that reminds me of what it was like to pour through A REAL HONEST TO GOODNESS ROCK 'N ROLL MAGAZINE 'STEAD OF THE KINDA HYPESHEET PASTE JOBS THAT WERE SO PREVALENT FROM THE EIGHTIES ONWARD. An' boy do I mean it!

Like a wild dog goin' for the guts of a dead hunka rot I always go for the JUICY UNDERBELLY first. And yeah, even though I have yet to peruse the bigger'n big cover story thingies like the piece on Ike 'n Tina as well as the Randy Holden interview (y'see, I wanted you readers to find out about this 'zine before some turdburger tells you about it).what I have eyeballed is pretty shall-we-say over-the-top RIAWOL reading that'll keep you in high energy heaven at least until the new BLOG TO COMM weekend post. It's like when I was younger and diving head first into all this rock 'n roll adventure and things we now take for granite seemed all the more mystical and unique, and those Velvet Underground tracks that were being bootlegged came off as some golden grail while the Television Eno demos had this weird clandestine power surge that made you feel as if you were listening in from some distant short wave broadcast........well, reading UGLY THINGS brings back all of those young and fresh "gee, I'm actually living through a period in music that is ALIVE and attuned to my teenbo suburban slob upbringing and sonic values and boy, am I as glad about it as ever!" feelings in your own kishkas!

Perhaps the juiciest of the bellygut bites this time has to be the Greg Prevost chat with Aleck Janoulis of (Little Phil and the) Night Shadows fame which details the entire rise and fall of the group with rather snat detail that most rags woulda left ou. Those of us who have bought, digested and lost our marbles over the infamous SQUARE ROOT OF TWO album will really get a kick outta those late-fifties snaps of the band. Lotsa really keen previously unheard of information piled into this 'un, Jack!

Also blew my mind o'er the rest of Phil Milstein's Lenny Kaye interview which I thought was fantastico considerin' just how cool I used to think (and still do!) the guy was and how much I wished I looked just like the man when I was but a mere teenbo pudge stuck inna middle of nowhere 'stead of New York which seemed like a fun place to be back in those high energy seventies days. Not only that, but ONE BIG MYSTERY about one of his pre-Patti Smith Group acts was cleared up which does make me rest a whole lot easier at night now that I know the truth. And yeah, I have been awake for nigh on twenny years wantin' to find out all about it 'n I hope the album comes out soon!

The rec reviews are fine (of course I ALWAYS read Bill Shute's first because---why not?--- he's such a neat fellow) even though I am not tempted to buy anything that's brought up this go 'round for some strange reason. I did actually buy a book that was reviewed and my own opines will appear shortly, And if anything out there can get this spiritual Scot to part with his precious coins it most truly is UGLY THINGS.

You know where to get it, and I hope the gettin' for you is good because we need all of this rockin' rah-rah especially here at the dawn of 2020 when I hope we're ALL thinkin' straight especially when it comes to us and our music. You know where to get it, and if you haven't gotten your copy by now may I call you Thilly Thammy Thidethaddle???

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

MOOM PITCHER REVIEW BY BILL SHUTE! BATTLE RATS (Philippines, 1989)


While spending a relaxing weekend in Houston to catch the end of the thoroughbred season at Sam Houston Race Park, I was resting on the patio of my hotel room, sipping some stout-barrel-aged Texas whiskey, and had a strong desire for a Charlton war comic-book. Alas, I had not brought any on the trip (oh, I could read some Public Domain ones online, I suppose, but I prefer a physical comic to a digital one, unless I can’t get it any other way). However, thanks to the collectors/archivists who post the most marginal off-shore genre films on You Tube, I not only got the ultimate war comic book, I got a living, breathing three-dimensional feature-film length war comic book, one so ragged and misanthropic and brutal that it would never get past the Comics Code Authority, or ANY authority for that matter. But thanks to the market for war-exploitation films in the third-world video market, someone in the Philippines thought that if they made a film like this cheaply enough and had enough foreign markets lined up for video rights, they could make a profit on the project. Acknowledgement is made to the production company DAVIAN INTERNATIONAL (which I vaguely remember from the Filipino war-action films of kickboxer Dale Apollo Cook, who was originally from my former home state of Oklahoma) for getting BATTLE RATS into the can for us to savor.

Sometimes war films are made by people who have actually served in the military, people who try for some kind of accuracy and who try to capture the feelings and life situations and inner turmoil of the troops on both sides of the conflict….and the civilians in the middle. Such films (THE BIG RED ONE, for instance) would be at the exact opposite end of the spectrum from BATTLE RATS, which takes the most over-the-top and cartoonish elements of something like Chuck Norris’ MISSING IN ACTION or Sly Stallone’s RAMBO, and then takes those elements and blasts them off into the exploitation-film atmosphere. This film is to MISSING IN ACTION (or a Michael Dudikoff knock-off of it) what H.G. Lewis's JUST FOR THE HELL OF IT is to BLACKBOARD JUNGLE. That is, take all of what a 12 year old who tortures frogs on the way home from school would consider the “good parts” of such SE Asian-set war films, and do low-budget, completely over-the-top scenes “inspired” by that, throw a few Anglo names and faces into the cast, pretend that the Philippine Islands are Vietnam or Thailand, and let it rip for 85 minutes (or whatever length the video distributors required of a “feature film”) of machine-gunnings and explosions, accompanied by grunting and F-words. The end result is truly lightning in a bottle. The experience of watching this film is totally punk in its effect----I was reminded of Punk-sploitation albums like WORTHLESS TRASH by THE VACANTS, or maybe a more low-brow version of FEAR, minus the ironic stance, but channeled into a war movie, not two-minute anti-social punk noise-blasts. I’d love to slip this film into someone’s Netflix feed who was expecting the latest creation from Lena Dunham…or whatever is nominated for the Best Foreign Film Oscar, after the shitty Barefoot Wine has been poured and the cruelty-free snacks from Whole Foods have been micro-waved….and instead, BATTLE RATS comes on at maximum volume, with the sound a second or two behind the action, and the print full of splices. Now THAT I’d love to see!

The “plot” involves a crack American unit in the Vietnam War, put together from a rag-tag group (and the accents are all over the place….I didn’t know so many Aussies, New Zealanders, and Irish fought in the American Army then!), that specializes in tunnel warfare, set up to match the Viet Cong mastery of that technique. Of course, the one thing the Americans have on their side is a testosterone-fueled gonzo attitude toward EVERYTHING.

Director BEN YALUNG helmed about a dozen of this kind of film in the late 80’s and early 90’s, and like a lot of poverty row filmmakers, he’s quite ingenious at getting interesting-looking set-ups that don’t rely on money being spent. This is NOT one of those war films shot in a few limited areas, used over and over (Larry Buchanan’s HELL RAIDERS being an example of that, though that film has many other good things going for it). The tunnels are an unexpected and fascinating setting, which did not cost much to build, and provide claustrophobic sweaty excitement. However, as Herschell Gordon Lewis proved with BLOOD FEAST, if you provide outrageous gore and audience-alienating violence from left-field, the viewers are not going to be concentrating on your editing and mastery of two-shots and low-angle photography. Interestingly, star Jack Gilbert aka Brent Gilbert (who was from New Zealand, according to his son, who commented on a blog review of the film) also worked for legendary Hong Kong cut-and-paste Ninja filmmaker GODFREY HO (one of my heroes), and the film also has other connections to ‘Filmark International’ and to Joseph Lai’s IFD Films and Arts.

A film like BATTLE RATS is a welcome antidote to the numbing sameness of the films being foisted upon the public today by the prestige streaming services and your local multi-plex. There are still obscure z-grade straight-to-video action films being churned out today, many shot in Eastern Europe, and a little Googling can find you some blogs dedicated to sniffing them out, the way a pig sniffs out truffles.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

As you will shortly see it has been a week where one is lucky to stay alive, with perhaps thee
ultimate rock 'n roll effort of the past three decades up and ready for inspection! Sorry, no ramble ons about my personal upheavals or general autobiographical bornados this time...aintcha LUCKY???


PETER LAUGHNER 5-LP + BOOK BOX SET (Smog Veil Records)

If Peter Laughner was still up and about here in the dusk of the 'teens you can be sure that  he'd be considered just as much of an elder statesman of a whole variety of musical subkultures from folk to glam scenester to punk rocker as any of the people the man emulated during his near quarter century on this planet. In fact I'm sure some up 'n coming club would be hosting some sorta seventieth birthday bash a good three years from now while the guy would be basking in the light of a good half-century-plus of musical accomplishment complete with a WVIZ-TV special hosted by some trimmed beard geeky up 'n comer or perhaps even a CLEVELAND (or at least Cle area) mag feature where once again Anastasia Pantsios sings the man's praises even thought it was probably his ultra-deca-death that turned her into the anti-punk biddy she was and perhaps even remains a good fortysome years after the fact. Of course the fourth or fifth hardbound collection of Laughner poetry would be making the rounds for all of us doofs who missed out the first time to catch up on...heck I gotta even admit that some typically distorto Hollywood biopic mighta even been inna works once again failing to capture that inner feral feeling that rock 'n roll in its purest form delivers on with virtual ease! (But don't worry, you'll see ads for it on "Direct TV" in a few months.) Y'know, just like all those other films about rock 'n roll that miss out seizing the core of it all despite ya thinkin' that people would know a lot better about what rock 'n roll outside the standard biz/hippie/slicked up mindset meant (and perhaps continues to mean) for unabashed lovers of sonic noise such as us.

WHO 'M I KIDDIN'????? Ya know that had Laughner not taken that deep dive into forever that June '77 night he would have been practically forgotten by the same people who gave him that big boost if only to TEAR HIM DOWN. Or at least he'd've been as marginalized as alla those other seventies spokesmen for a degeneration that seemed to dissipate once the squeaky clean eighties and its music sans fly shit specs and overall grit rolled in. Yeah the man had the potential to be Ameriga's answer to not only Peter Perrett (musically) and Nick Kent and Yves Adrien (even Alain Placadis!) musically, but other'n producing a few new rock 'n roll efforts and perhaps writing for CREEM until their growing stodginess had him looking for other outlets I don't see the man making it too far into the eighties as a viable rock stalwart. With the trend from gonzo rockscreed to hack publicity sheet repatch growing his career as a rock writer woulda been dead by '83 at the least, while I could see the man easily become more and more frustrated with the decreasing quality of his sixties heroes from Lou to Ig in the eighties to the point of perhaps giving up on rock 'n roll (as it meant for you and perhaps even me) for good! Well, at least he would have abstained from the form until the next great boom whenever that would be. Maybe its all the better that Laughner died when he did---after all, I couldn't see him extolling the benefits of Prince and Madonna like way too many seventies icons of decadence ended up doing! (Not so sure about the latter---the former most likely.)

Yeah, the concept of a living and breathing Laughner born and bred of the 1964-1981 upheaval in the eighties and beyond seems rather disturbing if not downright disgusting, and if he were smart enough which I don't doubt one bit he woulda skedaddled the entire music scene and got a job in his father's biz where yeah, he would be living that sorta life the rock 'n rollers out there seemingly dread but at least he'd havethose hefty good MEMORIES along with a nice fat paycheck. And maybe all us in-on-the-game rock fans need here at the dusk of the 'teens is just that because really, NOTHING ELSE MATTERS other'n the big beat and the long green.

So let me break my promise of no longer being long-windy and blab on forth about this piece of rock ephemera that you most definitely need. And brother, if there is anything out there that you need to spend your precious shekels on at this late date its this five-LP Peter Laughner box set. Yes, finally after all these years of being shuttered off into the closet of "things" that just didn't fit into the "proper" evolution and digestion of rock 'n roll Laughner has been done right, not only with these platters which more or less cover the man's extant recording "career" (though why no Mr. Charlie even though a live show has been penetrating just about every hotcha rock collection except mine?) but with the nifty hardcovered book it looks as if the man is finally being recognized on a large scale for his role as a mover and shaker in Amerigan Underground Rock, at least when it was finally getting a voice and an identity that sure set more than a few pitted butt suburban slob asses on fire.

The enclosed book featuring not only the Laughner saga but some rather choice writings blows to bit just about every snatch of rock "criticism" or just plain fan scribbles that popped up in the aftermath of the Great Gonz Expurgation of the early-eighties. Everything you have read from even the more "respected" rock writers of the last thirty years wilts in comparison---even my own Fourth Reich Kitsch is rendered totally meaningless when stacked next to the pearls that Laughner exudes it's that zoned into the mid-seventies guttural approach of appreciating rock 'n roll as that "International Youth Language" it seemed as if less and less youth were understanding as the years crept on.

But as usual I am lurching ahead. First the albums...five beauts with tracks which each beg us for more and more Laughner trackage which I know is out there. Perhaps this is but a taste for future Rocket From The Tombs and Wolves efforts that Smog Veil has in store...well one can only hope. And really, these things sound a whole lot better'n the nth generation tapes and cheapo cassette quality efforts that have been flowing around. Good enough to the point where even my cheapo nostalgia turntable done up for your great Aunt Matilda sounds like a boffo late-seventies STEREO REVIEW pick of the month, and that's even without the giganto speakers and diddley daddy amplifier all the rich kids in high stool had. Let's just say that record pressings and the ability to make something beautiful outta those throwaway tapes has markedly improved since those scuzzy bootleg and legitimate record days forty years ago!

Record #1--FAT CITY JIVE---early Peter. Much of this is taken from Peter's debut "Coffeebreak Concert" on WMMS-FM, while tracks from a subsequent one are from an "episode" that was hosted by Kid Leo, a guy who I get the sneakin' suspicion would have disavowed any knowledge of havin' known the guy if you'd've asked him in 1978. (But don't worry---I'm sure that if you ask him about Peter these days he'd wax eloquent about how the two of 'em were best of buddies and that his passing was such sweet sorrow and the rest of that showbiz caga that keeps getting tossed on us even though we all knew better a good thirtysome years back.) These songs capture Peter in his still-sixties-bred down home folk rootsy self with the Dylan roarin' on all cylinders and even a nod to John Sebastian and Jackson Browne to be heard. And of course  this has the obligatory Lou Reed numbers which I get the feelin' sorta ruined it for the folkies who tuned in but ah, that's part of the joy. The Original Wolverines do their best Holy Modal Rounders-ish freak folk imitation and it all blends in swell. If Laughner's loopy yet passionate rendition of "Eyes Eyes" doesn't make ya feel some deep down emotional uproar I dunno WHAT will.

Record #2--ONE OF THE BOYS---by now (1972) Peter had lept straight into his glam rock phase which, like many of the other glam rock phases in rock 'n roll easily enough slid right into many a punk rock phase which seemed to get stuck on these guys PERMANENTLY! And yeah, a whole album fulla Cinderella Backstreet and Cinderella's Revenge (still wonder about Crocus Behemoth's mention of "Cinderella Airstream" in that SEARCH AND DESTROY interview) is what this particular sonic bopper needs here at the dawn of what will definitely be the "boring" twenties. So good that even I can stand Cindy Black's Mellotron careenings (well, listening to Hawkwind albums did help me "appreciate" that monstrosity!) and ya gotta admit that the sound is sure improved to the point where you woulda sworn these cassette tapes were actually taken straight from the soundboard. As if that really mattered, but in some way it does in my own cornballus way. Hearing Backstreet play Mott the Hoople was a surprise but an even bigger one was the Cinderella's Revenge take on the teenbo-era Laughner blooze classic "I'm So Fucked Up" live from the Viking Saloon. I just hope this tuneage is but a teaser for an entire Revenge album on its lonesome...well, at least that would be something to keep me fit and healthy just so's I will survive long enough for one to materialize!

PLEDGING MY TIME comes next---Laughner goes acoustic decadent! Folk becomes sleaze and it works out in the end...no pun intended. Some of it sounds particularly singer/songwriter done up right for once..."Rain on the City" might have even become one of those things 'MMS woulda played in slight rotation had this gotten out (and if the station was still as "free form" as everyone used to think) and I gotta say that after growing up with the idea that someone with an acoustic guitar was undoubtedly affixed to the whole James Taylor/Melanie beads and doves soft introspection breed these songs are but a vicious reaction to all that hippie infection. The same disease that everything from BLESS THE BEASTS AND CHILDREN to that new folkie teacher with the da capo'd guitar ready to lay a tune on ya was more'n anxious to infect on us disturbed types.

More rock 'n roll in that hard-edged Cleveland style that never did come into vogue  with the prissies....ROCK IT DOWN highlights Laughner's mid-seventies contributions to the local stage even if Pere Ubu and Peter and the Wolves are suspiciously missing from the brew. Trackage from the Finns (the same one from the SOL single but how often have you been pullin' that one out?), an unreleased live version of Rocket From the Tombs' "Ain't It Fun" and some Friction both rehearsal and live show up in better than expected sound quality. A pre-Wolves version of "Rock It Down" with Adele Bertei singing appears but even that ain't the highlight of this 'un, that honor being given to yet another take on the infamous "Amphetamine" not only with Laughner being backed by Don Harvey's harmonium but additional lyrics and the most beautiful musical segue heard in ages. Sounds like a rough demo for THE MARBLE INDEX and if you still harbor some emotive non-restraint from your youth you might want to sniffle at the passion of it all. Personally I couldn't (I've been all cried out for over twenty years) but if you haven't shed a tear in your life maybe it still isn't too late.

Hmmm, platter #5 NOCTURNAL DIGRESSIONS is pressed on white vinyl. I guess this was done in order to identify it as something special since it was Laughner's final session recorded just a few hours before he passed on that fateful June night. This does seem like it could have (intentionally?) been his ultimate "so long"...listening to Laughner hoarsely work his ways through such longtime faves as "Slim Slow Slider" and "Blank Generation" makes me wonder if he knew that he pretty much was recording his own obituary that very evening. But then again maybe not since the man does come to life, especially after the rather dreary and uncharacteristically obtuse "Going to China" (with a guitar riff lifted from Friction's version of the Richard Thompson "chestnut" "Calvary Cross"...unfortunately the version recorded that very night was inexplicable left off the album!) when he springs into a lively impromptu "Summertime Blues". Like he's sayin' "Hey kids, I ain't gonna knock off tonight nor never, or at least until the music I love knocks itself off and knocks itself out for good! An' like, I know it's gonna live on for a long long time and that those people who are my friends at the Big City FM station and the paper are gonna see to it that ROCK AND ROLL WILL STAND because like, if it dies or even gets watered down to fit the Big Suits' idea of what Teen Nation should be rather than how it stands in its jaded decadence so will I. And nobody would want anything as ridiculous as that to happen, eh?"

If you are lucky you will get a bonus see-through EP with your box, a tasty addendum to an already smorgasbord of greats. Laughner with Lester Bangs from that tape that WMMS was s'posed to broadcast, a dolorous version of "Venus de Milo" with accompanying harmonium, a snat country blues, a jazzy blues riff with Laughner blarin' in on guitar about halfway through. and the most interesting bit of music I've heard from him so far, an Asian-influenced instrumental with rock overtones that reminds me of something off Eno's ANOTHER GREEN WORLD. It's really a fine cherry on top of a sundae of sound you'll most likely be chompin' on for years on end and even if your mind is stuffed to the gills you will be begging for MORE.

The hardcover book is more'n just the whipped cream 'n cherry on top of this rock 'n roll sundae. It's the ROCK BOOK OF THE YEAR no doubt about it and as every bit as important as the various Lester Bangs, Richard Meltzer or Charles Shaar Murray collections that I'm sure adorn your bookshelf like they adorn about a dozen boxes scattered about my place. I am not exactly sure what was not enclosed in this effort but the thing does thrill you as much as such an effort should not only with the bio, the reviews and articles and rare snaps, but the ads do recall a time when the big lurch of underground rock seemed as if it would envelop the entire universe and that once again the spirit and energy of what was once a teenage given (that is rock 'n roll in its more feral guise) would shine through and that the kids of the seventies would be buying up the likes of Patti, Television, Suicide, Ubu etc. the way their older siblings sharpened their teeth on the Velvets, Stooges and all those English groups that were too over-the-top even for kids who loved English groups! All leading the way for a healthy rock 'n roll future at least until everyone got too old and went the housewife route age thirtysomething but if you think they'll still be spinnin' "Sister Ray" during those bridge games you might be right.

Shows how wrong I could be what with teenbo USA being totally zonkified by total mummery not only in music but other entertainment, general lifestyle patterns and philosophical mulch and the future we were promised adding up to nothing but forty years of low-intensity nerve-fray. Fortunately none of us that I know of was stoopid enough to forsake rock 'n roll or music in the raw state of becoming as Wayne McGuire put it once we toppled over the big three-oh mark.

Of course one question does remain. Like,since when and where did none other than Electric Eels lead vocalist Dave E die and he MUST HAVE, because his moniker is plainly mentioned in the obligatory "In Memorium" section of the book! Eels drummer Nick Knox ain't mentioned so I guess there hadda've been a mix up somewhere down the line,  but the last time I've noticed the man was still among the living, so I believe that Smog Veil OWES HIM AN APOLOGY and like mighty soon!
***
Jeffrey Alexander-MEDITATIONS FOR BEOWULF LP (Feeding Tube Records)

What a weirditie of a surprise from this former Dire Wolves member. The electronic piano noodling with various other sound effects tossed in had me thinking this could have been the handiwork of some seventies-vintage sound crankpot messing around with various electronics and DOING IT RIGHT FOR ONCE! Then a track that kinda sounds singer/songwriter but in a way where James Taylor's testicles are getting chopped off as he tries swiping a syringe from Carly Simon. It's all so poetic in many ways, but not the "Milk, Milk, Lemonade" kind. Nice swirls and creative manipulations of sounds that coulda come off much worse in the hands of people...like you and me.
***
THE JIM JONES REVUE CD-r burn (originally on Punk Rock Blues Records)

Paul McGarry sez that if I don't think that album opener "Princess and the Frog" ain't hot then I'm not fit to run BLOG TO COMM! Silly Paul...actually I'm not even fit to run a one space parking lot concession let alone a blog, but I get the idea of what he's hintin' around at. Actually this relatively recent effort (from 2008 which is recent enough in my book) is pretty over-the-top hotcha in my book (or on this blog for that matter) what with this particular Jim Jones revvin' up the fifties sounds for an even more pumped up clientele soundin' kinda like prime-era Sonics if someone had shoved some juicy hot peppers up their assholes. These guys give Bunker Hill and Link Wray a run for the money, they're that over-the-top rock 'n roll in their approach! Your standard "Classic Rock" fan should be forced to listen to this until they cry for mama's boobies or die, preferably the latter.
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Various Artists-THE VOICE OF THE TURTLE---FINGERNAIL PARINGS FROM THE VIRTUAL THRIFT STORE CD-r burn (Bill Shute)

I love these collections that Bill slaps together with bits and feces from various on-line sources gathering up things as fun as old radio ads for contests or the themes to YOGI BEAR, WALLY GATOR and YAKKY DOODLE for that matter. Most of these ads seem to emanate from Detroit which kinda makes me wonder what the luxurious Sheraton Cadillac Hotel looks like these days! I also need to know if Babe Krajenki is still around because I'm in the market for a Buick! Only really bummer to this effort's the cover, not because of the fatty gal posterior pictured but because of the turtle! Not that I hate those shelled creatures at all (even if I ran over one a few weeks back) but seein' that smiling amphibian reminded me of this story that was goin' around when I was in first grade about some kid we all kinda knew who made a snow man and used used the severed head of his former pet turtle for the nose. Sheesh, couldn't the kid just tossed him into Lake Julia like everyone else who didn't want their turtles anymore?
***
Well, selling back issues of BLACK TO COMM on-line is slightly more dignified than selling pencils on the street. And besides, I don't have to fake being blind to get away with it...the sympathy angle, y'know. And besides, I don't have to put up pretending that I don't "see" some kid plunking slugs into my tin can and have to say "thank you" after ever plunk! Get some before I do lose my sight (but not in the standard way most kids go blind, ifyaknowaddamean...).

Thursday, August 08, 2019

BOOK REVIEW! THE COMPLETE DICK TRACY VOLUME 26 BY CHESTER GOULD (IDW, 2019)

You can tell by not only the very art but the overall feel that TRACY is now firmly ensconced in the same early seventies that also gave us James Taylor and streaking (well, that was 1974...). The colored  and striped shirts Tracy's now wearing is one tipoff (this being during the famed multi-pastelled and non-buttoned down craze of the day when even the Salvation Army hadda reject white shirts because nobody wanted 'em!). The span of time when Tracy looks kinda disheveled in the hair department and sports a mustache is also a clue, though he blames it on appearing as a con man in a police training film. Although I suspect that Chester Gould was trying, in his own Middle Amerigan Front Porch way, to get the strip at least a little uppa-date Tracy does look more like a discount abortionist than a cop. The 'stash eventually comes off and Tracy is groomed back to his original self within a month or two, but before the volume is over the lip spinach is back in place which only serves to get us ready for Tracy with stylish seventies long hair creeping way down the ears just like those aging actors of the day (Stan Freberg, Donald O'Connor...) tryin' to look a whole lot younger with sideburns, afros and pageboys straight outta the Blues Magoos! I guess those were hard times for a law and order kinda guy like Tracy to not look too L-7 what with all the ridiculous changes in style that were goin' on alla time.

At least Chester Gould felt it fine to continue stickin' it to the hippies (a group that was constantly being praised in the papers and television despite their penchant to wreck everything that they laid their hands on) and the more assaults on those world wreckers the better I say! Gould also got in one of the better post-fifties grotesque villains in the form of Pouch into the strip and the stories where he finds himself in cahoots with not only a reformed (?) Mole out of prison after nineteen years but Mole's niece with an equally big honker Molene (who gets to show off her bod in an eventually censored shower and un-censored bathtub scenes!) are right outta the classic Gould playbook of the past. It only proves that thankfully there were things that didn't go outta style in TRACY no matter how much of the climatic zeitgeist was goin' on out there in student demonstration land which was far far away from where I reside..

Other interesting asides and subplots (and if you're concerned about CONTINUITY forget it!)
include what seems like a budding romance between hip cop Groovy Grove and Lizz (they go out for a date and a narc who's carrying bags of marijuana falls on their car after someone tampered with his parachute!) as well as this case where a janitor at Diet Smith Industries gets tied in with a bunch of thieves posing as what else but hippies, gets killed by Tracy who then has to deal with the deceased janitor's son Homer "Peanutbutter" Barley who seems to have learned everything he knows about civics and political discourse from watching ROOM 222. Don't worry, he ends up helping Tracy even though the guy did kill his thievin' pop.

Weirdly enough some of the storylines seem to pop and fizzle out within weeks, a strangity considerin' how many of the old TRACY tales of criminal atrocities could roar on for months on end. The one with the identical triplets involved in a bank haul and murder really didn't amount to much, while the time when Gravel Gertie went bald on the crown revealing a tattoo'd treasure map gets off on a tangent of its own when the chosen baddie for this tale, a man called "Uncle" with flowers plastered all across his own dome (boy could Gould predict 'em just like he did with Chin Chiller a few years earlier!) pretty much disappears without a trace halfway into the story! Like I said, continuity wasn't much of a concern for Gould though at least he did clue us in on Flattop Jr.'s ghasty fate about four or so months after totally forgetting about it, undoubtedly pressured into doing so after receiving reams of complaints from irate readers!

But hey I will NOT complain. The art is getting even more bizarre and distorted than before while those of you who hated the outer space angle will be glad to know that it has been played down along with the whole magnetism angle which sure seemed crackpot to me! I was still perusing the comics page with a vengeance when these TRACIES originally appeared, and in many ways reading these early-seventies efforts was quite a trip back into a time that maybe I wouldn't mind re-living, but only on MY terms!

Saturday, August 03, 2019

Sheesh how I used to hate August. Here the summer was finally getting into gear with the really hot weather and general outdoor fun and jamz to be had, and whaddaya know but September and stool time pops up just around the corner and RUINS everything! But that was long ago and now I figure that no matter the month or season I'm in life is ruined anyway, so what's the diff between a cold winter and a hot summer if life is nothing but misery anyway...'s just that you have to wear your galoshes during some of the bad times and shorts during the rest.

At least I've got my music to protect me just like Paul Simon had his books and poetry! And yeah, things have been improving on the musical front as of late...nothing as gnarly as a current throbbing musical scene mind ya, but items like the recent arrival of the Peter Laughner five-LP box set (a review winging your way next week---it needs that much scrutiny for it to be done up just right!) does give me hope that the feral drive of the seventies will continue to reverberate in my bean for the rest of my born days. I do know that in my incessant rah-rahing of musical trends past I sorta come off like those old fifties rockabilly guys who think that it really did all die when Buddy Holly et. al. died in that crash and that everything that came afterwards was nothing but mere piddle but really, once you get down to it is there anything inherently wrong with having a musical worldview as "horse-blindered" as that? Sounds pretty cool in its own downhome sorta suburban slob way in my book!

As usual, the forty-plus-year backlog of recordings in my collection is more'n what keeps me goin' these days, and what a pittance of platters I do have (at least in comparison to all of you readers' bulging at the seams stacks of records, tapes and whatnot) sure helps out in these times when there is comparatively very little that lights any farts in my brain. Current faves include the LA FEMME album which I've spewed way too much on a few weeks back but SO WHAT!, Blue Cheer's VINCEBUS ERUPTUM, Kim Fowley's ANIMAL GOD OF THE STREET, LES PUNKS: THE FRENCH CONNECTION (France still rings proud 'n true in my mind since Mahogany Brain's SMOOTH SICK LIGHTS is also a daily dipper into Gallic grooves in the Velvets/Stooges tradition), Dredd Foole and the Din-THE WHYS OF FIRE, 15-60-75 (The Numbers Band)-20 and many more albums that I won't mention here because like, I've already wowed you with this bright eyed and bushy tailed batch of oh-so-important spins that'll undoubtedly make y'all jealous of not only me but the bountiful gathering of encompassing sounds available within my domain. Of course that domain can be even more bountiful-er, but only time and a rash of BTC-worthy releases will see to that.

Nice batch here anyway. Thanks be to the likes of Bill Shute, Paul McGarry and  Feeding Tube for their efforts in keeping this blog from turning into SENIOR CITIZENS NEWS AND VIEWS. Which I guess someday it will become if I keep this thing goin' that long.


METTE RASMUSSEN/TASHI DORJI cassette (Feeding Tube Records)

And ya wonder where the new generation of sonic noise honk groove is comin' from!  The duo of Rasmussen and Dorji perform pure energy as sound (or is it vice versa?) like no tenor sax/guitar duo since Peter Brotzmann and Sonny Sharrock, careening through some of the better and more heartfelt playing in ages. Rasmussen recalls Archie Shepp during his BYG heights. Dorji's strum brings to mind some of those French session guys who used to pop up on a variety of once-obscurities ne'er to be heard from again. His playing lacerates the entire structure like nothing since maybe even MONKEY POCKIE BOO or at least fellow guitar flagellater Keiji Haino, and it's all done up in glorious mid-fi that recalls many an indie jazz pressing of the seventies making it all the more feral. Somewhere in the afterlife Leonard Feather must be frowning.
***

The Jokers-GUITAR BOOGIE CD-r burn

There have been so many groups in rockdom (and elsewhere) called "The Jokers" that you can count the number of 'em on one foot if you're an inbred. But one thing's for sure and that is these Jokers were a pretty nifty bunch of early-sixties instrumental rockers who make that nice and refined sorta sound that could appeal to your own folk as well as yourself. That is, if your own folk weren't the kind who thought ALL that kid stuff was worthless and not as true to time immemorial as the gunk they grew up with! Like the String-a-longs, these Jokers played the old classics along with the newies and although they don't "rock out" the way that the...say...Northwest groups did this sure goes down better in an early-sixties way than some of those cheap shots that made the charts at the time. I found it pleasurable enough in a suburban ranch house kick up your feet like Dennis the Menace's dad sorta way, and who knows, you might too!
***
The Parting Gifts-STRYCHNINE DANDELION CD-r burn (originally on In The Red Records)

If you miss late-period Flamin' Groovies. If you miss mid-sixties gal pop. If you miss musical acts who tried to recreate the magic and energy of the mid-sixties and succeeded...well then you just might go for this particular effort from a group I ashamedly have not heard about before. While too many of these "revival" acts take on the superficial aspects of the quest the Parting Gifts have at least a little more than an inkling of why those records sounded so great to teenbos tuned into some Mom and Pop back 1966 way. Nuggets if you dug its abound. Stick it in the car stereo on some hot summer day and play it while driving around with the top down, though you girls might do better if you kept your blouses on.
***
LONDON HIT PARADE (FOR DANCING) CD-r burn (originally on Musik Fur Alle Records, Germany)

How sudzy can you get? I guess German housewives need something to listen to after they send der kinder off to school und bread the schnitzels. Hits of the late-sixties schmoozed up for members of the older generation who resented the music their offspring were listening to but perhaps felt guilty about it so they tortured themselves with these tamed takes they kinda kidded themselves into liking. Makes me want to make a meat loaf and macaroni and cheese before settling down for SECRET STORM.
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Diana Dors-SWINGING DORS CD-r burn (originally on Columbia Records)

Music like this doesn't exactly APPEAL to me especially when I'm more in the mood for a searing beyond high energy sonic excursion, but since it's my job to learn ya people a thingie or two I shall make the supreme sacrifice. The gal sings good for a platinum blonde who used to be married to Newkirk and these sounds are bound to get your daddy all reminiscent of his 1962 hi-fi set. But really, the only reason you hot blooded COMM-sters would ever purchase this platter is for the hotcha snap on the cover...right???
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Various Artists-ACROSS THE HUMMING TOWN (GREASE DRIPPINGS FROM THE VIRTUAL THRIFT STORE FRYER CD-r burn (Bill Shute)

This is the way I like 'em what with all those olde tymey radio spots (Vernor's Ginger Ale, the TURTLE SOUP album, Salem cigarettes, Stan Freberg...), tee-vee show themes (remember TOUCHE TURTLE? I kinda/sorta do) and various seventies-era synthesizer news theme music. It's kinda like prowling through an old radio station that's been off the air for forty years yet nobody bothered to clean it up. Nice jingles and long-forgotten messterpieces sure bring back those memories of driving around in the car when you were a kid with those side vents directed right at'cha! And the weirdest thing about it is that Bill slapped on more of those weird ethnic tracks that sorta conjure up phantom belly pains from eating too much of that greasy rich food those kinda people like to shove down your throat.
***
I know that you readers do not have the entire run of BLACK TO COMM in your collections like I kinda hoped you would. And if you are ashamed of this depressing fact (and why not!) you can make amends by purchasing as many of the still-available mags that I'm sure will do you good especially in this world of feh. C'mon, I won't hold it against you that you were too stoopid to buy these when they first came out!

Thursday, August 01, 2019

BOOK REVIEW! NOT BRAND ECHH---THE COMPLETE COLLECTION (Marvel Comics, 2019)

I guess with all of the fanzines out there spoofing your heroes (not to mention "Brand Echh" itself, National Periodicals, taking cheap shots at-cha what with comic book editor "Stan Bragg" popping up in ANGEL AND THE APE) mebbee you should get in the game and make some dough SPOOFING YOURSELF! That's exactly what Marvel themselves did with this legendary late-sixties title which did what all those fanzines were doin' for a good five years already! True there's nothing as shocking as GOD COMICS or THE IMPOSSIBLE FIVE MEET SUPERBEARD in these pages, but ya gotta admit that Lee and company did a real bang-up of it going as far as they could without flamin' up the ire of the Comics Code Authority, even though in a few spots you woulda thunk that Dr. Fredric Wertham himself woulda overcome his natural pacifist tendencies, taken a cab right down the Marvel HQ and slugged Lee a good one inna nose, that's how daring NOT BRAND ECHH could get at times!

Yeah I know that as far as these "stoopid" comics as Robot Hull called 'em in his CREEM mag review of HOWARD THE DUCK (not quite my idea of stoopid comics low art but wha' th' hey?) go there might have been quite a number of duds slipped in between the truly genuine and expected groaners. Thankfully the misses in NOT BRAND ECHH are outweighed by the GOOD deliveries as far as comic book stoopidity is concerned. And what with the take-offs on comic book, tee-vee shows and moom-pitchers to be found, not to mention way-too-obvious swipes of classic Wallace Wood and Jack Davis artforms originally found in the grandaddy of 'em all MAD (sometimes CREDITED as such!) you know that the guys at Marvel weren't just stealin' for the mere sport of it like all those other MAD comic book swipes that popped up in the sixties and seventies, eh?

Like the best in comic humor, the corny courts the daring as old tropes get re-troped so to speak and stories you read for years in those MAD paperbacks are re-done with Richard Burton and Liz  Taylor taking Robert Armstrong and Fay Wray's place in a KING KONG remake. But this 'un's mostly about the comic books and if you still have a li'l bit of glowing huzzah for the state of the newsstand ca. 1968 you'll probably get more outta the beautiful stoopidity that oozes outta NOT BRAND ECHH which for once proved that comics weren't exactly made for suburban slobs like ourselves, but the Saturday Afternoon Barbershop Kids could enjoy these as well.

Lotsa in-joke and snipes to be seen too, not only regarding Marvel and their Direct Competition but with the Comics Code themselves who get more'n a few jabs within these pages. For the long-time comic fanabla NOT BRAND ECHH is whatcha'd call custom-made for the typical fanzine-laden history-obsessed tightass what with such humble scenes where the EC horror comics hosts meet none other'n Archie (a sly reference to the rumor that the CCA was a plot by Archie's John Goldwater to destroy Bill Gaines for his STARCHIE story!) and other interesting "happenstances" which I'm sure'll get quite a few anal-retentives tryin' to top each other re. the snide in-references! And as far as the bell-bottomed longhairs who read this went, I get the feelin' that they were more'n surprised to see the new hipster acts of the day from the Jefferson Airplane, Beatles and Turtles to Moby Grape gettin' name dropped thanks to the likes of Gary Friedrich who I'm sure was listenin' in unlike ol' Stan himself! (The CHEAP THRILLS takeoff was a whole lot better'n anything that woulda popped up in DC's early-seventies spoof venture PLOP!).

An' so, like thrill to the adventures of the likes of Spidey-Man, Charlie America, the Inedible Bulk and the Fantastical Four and keep in mind...back then this was satire, not the real thing like you get today!

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

MOOM PITCHER REVIEW BY BILL SHUTE! TIME OUT FOR RHYTHM STARRING THE THREE STOOGES AND RUDY VALLEE!


This 1941 Swing-oriented musical comedy, made by the Stooges’ own studio, Columbia (not a loan-out as with Stooge features such as SWING PARADE OF 1946, made at Monogram, or GOLD RAIDERS, an independent film released by United Artists), is a pleasant surprise, which I stumbled across accidentally online. When I was first learning about the Stooges’ history, by reading about them in books in the library back in the 70’s and 80’s, a film like this would just be a title to me—what would be the likelihood of it ever playing on TV in my area? Not much, so I just filed it away in the back of my head….evidently, pretty far back, as I’d completely forgotten it. It’s not like today, where you can Google it and start watching it in fifteen seconds, for free.

Every studio churned out bottom-of-the-bill Swing musicals in the late 30’s and early 40’s, and the studios that made the best B-movies tended to make the most entertaining ones because they understood good pacing, alternated three or four clever subplots throughout the running time (which they kept brief), and had talented comic performers under contract (or available cheaply). The better films also had some hot swinging musical numbers and not just syrupy ballads by “boy singers” and “girl singers” as they were then known. Some band leaders, such as Ozzie Nelson (watch the 1942 STRICTLY IN THE GROOVE sometime, which pairs Nelson with Shemp Howard, Leon Errol, and Franklin Pangborn!), had a comic persona as part of their regular “act” that they could exploit, beyond just leading the band.

Before we get to the Stooges, the comedy front-line in the film is first-rate….longtime dim-witted comic flunky-to-gangsters ALLEN JENKINS, along with the dim-witted cop from the Boston Blackie films (made at Columbia) RICHARD LANE, and doing a great lampoon of his own stuffed-shirt Ivy League background, RUDY VALLEE (always good at comedy—watch him as the song-stealing “America’s Beloved Tunesmith, Alvin Weiner” in the mid-70’s ELLERY QUEEN TV show with Jim Hutton and see how the man was still a scene-stealing supporting actor nearly 50 years after his initial fame as a late 20’s crooner, in the pre-Bing Crosby age) run a low-rung talent agency looking for cheap acts to exploit. Their cynical and threadbare and hare-brained schemes are a riot, and I wish they’d later been given their own comedy shorts or movie series as they are so good in this.

One of the musical sequences is wild also. Glen Gray and the Casa Loma Orchestra, who made many pile-driving uptempo records in the early 30’s but were still a crack outfit in the early 40’s, do a novelty rhythm tune called “Boogie Woogie Man” that is shot in the dark with the musicians playing glow-in-the-dark instruments, a routine later used by Louis Jordan and band in the film SWING PARADE OF 1946 a few years later, which coincidentally also starred The Three Stooges.

The Stooges themselves get four featured sequences spread throughout the film and are also around at other times. They are unemployed actors trying to get bookings through the Jenkins-Lane-Vallee agency. I don’t want to give away what their scenes are—I did not know going into the film exactly what they would be doing, and I appreciated them suddenly appearing out of the blue a lot more than I would have if I knew what they would be doing. Let’s just say that one of their classic routines is premiered here before they even did it in one of their own shorts, they also revive an old routine from their early 30’s Ted Healy days, and they are even featured in the blow-out final musical number, with Curly “in character” doing an outrageous impression of a certain exotic songstress of the day.

Running a brisk 74 minutes, TIME OUT FOR RHYTHM is almost a textbook example of how the makers of these B-programmers knew how to pack so much into a brief, entertaining, and fast-moving package, giving you comedy, music, and romance….and most importantly, tying it all up before you are ever tempted to look at your watch. The first rule of entertainment and the arts should always be “leave them wanting more.” What a Golden Age this period was! And the crew that made this probably churned it out in 10 days, and then moved on to another project—they did not sit around whining about being misunderstood artistes!

Saturday, July 27, 2019

WHEW! Dunno about you but I'm still reeling if not rocking from the massive response to last week's Jay Dobis interview, something which really seemed to draw in the readers and responses like nothing since those early Dave Lang and Jay Hinman traipses into personal destruction a good fifteen years back. Of course credit must be given to the interviewee much more than it should be to the interviewer, or so sez humble me but anyway, it sure is good to know that there are still some readers out there who see rock 'n roll as a maddening obsession rather than backdrop to getting cooze! And if you think this week's post is gonna be a letdown in comparison well, you might just be right.

But still there have been a few goodies to grace mine ears during the past few weeks, and below are just a few of the wonders I thought I'd pass my opinions on to you because like, why else would you want to read BLOG TO COMM other'n because this just might be the ONLY place on this planet where at least some shard of neo-gonz rockscreeding mighta survived in a world of cut and paste rock critic hackdom (and really, do even these kind of sycophantic slobberers exist here at the dawn of a new decade in which we can finally see all that we loved and cherished buried with a brutal ardor?).

Even with the bevy of beauts I've reviewed below there are still a whole lot more platters that I have been spinning as of late. F'rexample the first two Savage Rose albums really do brighten up the ol' atmosphere 'round here especially with that triple keyboard lineup that gave those albums a nice solid whump! inside my brain! Funny how folk keep comparin' this act to the Jefferson Airplane which I personally can't see at all---these guys (and gals) were a solid straight-ahead rock 'n roll act that delivered intensity (no matter how sublime) in place of commercialized revolution dressed up in a rather commercial sound, and in more ways than one I could see them as the contemporaries (not in sound necessarily but suaveness) of the rest of the straight-ahead rock 'n roll acts of the day from Hackamore Brick to the Stooges and maybe even the good ol' Velvet Underground themselves! Yeah, I know any comparisons to those titans has become a rock critic cliche at least a good forty-five years back but this is BLOG TO COMM, not the COLLEGE MUSIC JOURNAL so cut me some slack! At least I have a better right to bring 'em up'n any of you do because like, I'm so pure and innocent in my still stuck in the seventies rockist ways!  Not only that but they get a whole lotta name droppings in the Marie et les Garcons review below so if Velvets slobbering is not your game may I suggest you skip this post entirely!
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JUST FOUND OUT DEPARTMENT: our, well at least my, thoughts and prayers go out to Andrew Klimyk, younger brother to Jamie and veteran of a variety of acts from X-Blank-X, Tender Buttons, Red Dark Sweet and Death on a Stick who has suffered a series of strokes and is in what you'd call less than perfect condition as a result. Here's to your speedy recovery Andrew---we certainly need more people like you up and about in the music world and a whole less people like...well, I'm sure all of you have a fave musical figure of ire to insert here and it better not be me!
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And with or without further ado (does it matter?), here are the reviews!


Marie et les Garcons-76/77 LP (Instant Records, France); 1977-1979 LP (Feedback Records, France); RE BOP ELECTRIQUE 12-inch EP (We Release Whatever The Fuck We Want To Records, Germany)

I recently chanced upon (whaddaya mean "chanced"---I've been lookin' for 'em nigh on six months!) some records that seemed tl slip into the cracks in my collection, perhaps ignored because they just happened to arrive at a time in my life in which maybe there were other more pressing things to do than settle back and enjoy music as that eternal form of inner turmoil expression that's kept me goin' for a pretty long time in my life. There were a few doozies in that batch I'll tell ya, and as the days/weeks/years go by you'll be readin' 'bout some of these catches that just might make your life the carefree suburban slob way to go as we fend off the hideous onslaught of Miley Cyrus.

But the dooziest of 'em all just hadda've been the Marie et les Garcons platters that were located after being shuffled from stack to stack before I was even able to give 'em a spin! And hey, let's just say that the discovery of these platters just HASTA be the biggest even that July has in store, for when it came to the kind of music that makes up the soundtrack for my wildest dreams its groups like Marie et al. that create it, for they had everything goin' for 'em in a world where most bands might have some, some might have none but hardly any have 'em all.

First they were French which is cool since the best rock 'n roll has always been of a Gallic groove even if the likes of Lou Reed would not admit it. Second, they were a huge part and parcel of a "scene" so to speak which holds the same musical desires (Velvets, Patti and all those group names I've been abusing ever since 1981) that helped make a full blooded man outta me when everything else was injecting musical estrogen into my veins. And third, they made some pretty hopping music that epitomizes everything that I love about the 1964-1981 era of sound as a teenage form of true avant garde expression, but if you were reading this blog inna first place I think you woulda known alla that by now. Just brushing up with the newbies, that's all.

These three were reissued (or maybe two were reissued---I think 76/66 just might be seein' the light o' day just now) a few years back and they might still be available via the usual internet sources Maybe some outernet ones as well but hey, if you consider yourself a fan and follower of the BIG BEAT you might want to get hold of these before you do anything else in your miserable life. For these Marie et les Garcons recs are pretty spiffy platters if I do say so myself and like, if you think that the post-post-POST under-the underground musical scene as it stands today has nil the effect and power that this music held during the glorious past well, Mariet et les Garcons are just more prove to back up your totally spot on theories!

The 76/77 album's a downright sonic reduction on all counts, not only because each side contains a 40-minute (or so it seems---grooves are really close together) rock rant recorded in glorious portable Panasonic lo-fi, but because the Garcons crams into that time some way-outta-kilter expressions of mid-seventies under-the-counterculture music that not only traverses some mighty familiar punk rock territory (and even Bowie!) but contains some brilliant vocals courtesy Patrick Vidal that sound totally attuned to the teenbo o-mind even if you don't understand a word of French! (Whew! Take that you anti-run on sentence Nazis!) At specific instances the guitar rave turns into an atonal neo-Mars-ish clash of frequencies (which might figure since they did share labels!) and you're there lapping it up just like you did back when the forces that spurted forth the creative juices which spawned such groups as Marie et les Garcons were way mightier'n the likes of Pantsios would ever admit. These basement-level performances are loose in that beautifully primitive way (Marie's drumming is stuck somewhere between Maureen Tucker's, Michael Weldon's and Miriam Linna's and she can even do a roll) and if somehow you FORGOT just what it was that made you save up lunch money for rare singles by the likes of Patti, Lou, Iggy et. al. the fury and drive behind these basement recordings will bring it all back home. Yes, it is "beautiful"...

The Ze album (which got the reissue treatment from Feedback Records a few years back) might not have the same urgency as the above, but it still got that cheap young upstart seventies Velvet Underground heavy duty aura about it that once again says more about the true nature of rock 'n roll during that particular era in time than the collective prattling of ROLLING STONE's "Random Notes" ever did. An' the mofo sure holds up not only with the standard Garcons faves like "Re Bop" but with some hefty tributes to the acts that made the Garcons more'n just one of those acts that the big crits would sorta pat onna head before moving on to more lucrative endeavors. Especially enticing is a cover of the infamous "Roadrunner" which makes that Greg Kihn take the local FM station used to play to death all the more nauseating. At least you get the idea that these guys didn't discover the song after some wonk at Berserkley gave Kihn a pile of records and had him choose a hip sounding enough song to cover. 77/79 has the same sorta primitive appeal previously found in old scratchy singles and various 99-cent cutouts of the day that all GOOD rock 'n roll needs, and like all those other acts who took the best the sixties hadda offer us and molded 'em into a true vision for the seventies this works fine. I only wonder why this 'un got stuck with a cover showin' one of those shirts with a li'l alligator on it!

The twelve-inch RE BOP ELECTRIQUE ain't anything to get my underpants in an uproar but I guess those who liked the group's dabbling into disco forms will go for it more than they did all those other former punk groups who mighta still been punks in some form or another doin' the disco thing when the disco thing was somethin' to be doin' (but not for me it wasn't). Two extended electronic music versions of the groups (I guess) signature song really don't excite me much if at all, but Ze at least had the good sense to put the original on as well just so's it wouldn't be such a loss to all their old time fans. It ain't exactly anything I would want to be reminded of lest I soil my view re. the Garcons permanently, and if that cover Photo ain't a tipoff re. the chic decadent disco cum new wave crowd this is aimed at I dunno what is!

FINAL ASSESSMENT OF IT ALL- '76/77 a must-have for even the ones who like to dabble merely a toe in the ocean of mid-seventies post-VU jamz, 1977/1979 for those who heard the first one and need more after being saturated in the basement blare, and RE BOP ELECTRIQUE is for after all is said and done and you kinda come to the realization that yeah, all of the good 'uns started to peter out once the sappy eighties got into gear.
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WEEPING BONG BAND II LP (Feeding Tube Records)

Another album from the group whose name conjures up the worst images of overall'd hippies on the front porch doin' those Marin County jams! Personally this stuff ain't whatcha'd call upper echelon BLOG TO COMM listening material but I find it rather interesting what with the twangs of stringed instruments coagulating with the juicy amorphous bloat. Side two kinda reminded me of those later-on Ash Ra Tempel ventures that bordered on the Gnu Age, but this was still a whole lot better'n what that genre could eventually poke out as the dreary eighties rambled on and on. I guess if you're the type of guy who thinks that reality is for people who can't face drugs you'll go for this big time!
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SOUTHWIND CD (Big Pink Records, Japan)

Yeah, I always like to thumb through old rock mags of varying stripes to see if I missed out on class acts of the past that deserve a spin or a million for that matter, and as you know I highly cherish the opines of greats like Greg Shaw and Jymn Parrett when making that wise purchase that could have gone towards my doctor bills. Southwind did get a passing rave from Shaw in his ALLIGATOR WINE enclosure included in the premier FRANK'S APA, but frankly I thought their debut was a total wash out---neo-country rock without the verve and excitement to make it as noticeable or as appealing as various other late-sixties rock acts trying to survive in a world of hippie doodle. And if I only knew that future Elvis Costello cheapo knockoff Moon Martin was a member...sheeesh!
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Various Artists-WORKING CLASS DEVILS---SUBVERSIVE BEAT, R 'N' B AND PSYCH FROM POLAND 1965-1970 CD-r burn (originally on Beat Road Records)

The Polish always have gotten a lotta hard knocks from comedians and such, but this record shows that there was what seems like an active beat scene there during the mid-to-late sixties. Yeah, judging from these tracks it might not have been anything that special, but some of these numbers do cut the mustard as far as delivering on cheapo psychedelic thrills they way local wonks from Anytown USA could. Dunno if any of these groups were approved by the government but if they were I gotta say that the heads of state o'er there were slightly hipper'n the ones we had o'er here! And you haven't lived until you've heard  the way Niebiesko-Czarni translate "Purple Haze" into Polish, kinda/sorta that is!
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Nancy Sinatra-THE ULTIMATE COLLECTION CD-r burn

I guess that now dad's long gone 'n decayed I can say what I want about his daughter's recording career. And frankly I have nothing to fear from Pop even if he were alive because these crank 'em out and dress 'em up tracks from Nancy Sinatra ain't that bad in that late-sixties cheezo variety show gunch sorta way I thought it was gonna be. Early stuff has that patented Annette woola woola high stool spirit swing to 'em that recalls brain aneurysms received while sipping vanilla shakes through straws at McDonalds. The later on hits and sundries really recall single-digits me thinkin' that they better not have music like this when I reach teenbo age, but now it sounds a whole lot more human'n the cyborg entertainment being foisted upon us in the here and now. Her theme to the Allen and Rossi spy spoof THE LAST OF THE SECRET AGENTS does make me wanna catch that one sometime soon. Oh how I miss THE CBS FRIDAY NIGHT MOVIE!
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Various Artists-MOD SOCKS AND FOREVER FLARES I guess that now dad's dead I can sD-r burn (Bill Shute)

Hah! This 'un's a real surprise from the Royaltones doin' a "Tequila" swipe to some nice down-mood local single sides including a couple from Youngstown Ohio's Fortels who I'm surprised people around here aren't talking about in hushed and humbled tones. Even stranger is Jerry Van Dyke rendition of the MY MOTHER THE CAR theme with additional verses!

In between all that I get cheap-o attempts at the charts that were good but no cigars. These include a number of doo-woppers and twist cash-ins as well as a country popper about a Playboy bunny which reminds me of when I was a kid and although the whole Playboy Enterprise was up and about and more popular than even Shake-A-Puddin' the mere mention of such stuff to the folks was totally verboten! It wasn't until years later when the concept of tits 'n twats entered my mind that I knew why but sheesh...I kinda find it hard to get through my skull that something like PLAYBOY would be up and about during such a rather wholesome, clean-livin' era in my existence! I do feel creepy about it all...I mean, what about NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC?
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Have you gotten your fill of BLACK TO COMM back issues yet? Well, if not why dontcha make a glutton outta yourself and feast upon these ageless morsels of rock 'n roll mania and rare photographs coupled with some hearty writing and maybe even some misinformation or two tossed in! Remember, a BLACK TO COMM literate Ameriga is a FREE Ameriga!