Tuesday, March 29, 2005


One CD that has been getting hefty evening pre-ANDY GRIFFITH/LEAVE IT TO BEAVER spinnage here at BLOG TO COMM central has been the MY SOLID GROUND reissue that came out on the Second Battle label eight years back. A German band of a decidedly non-krautrock variety, My Solid Ground (led by guitarist Bernhard Rendel, who was a mere fourteen when he formed My Solid Ground three smackin' years before their 1971 album was unleashed on an unsuspecting Euroscene thanks to the uberhip Bacillus label) were the kinda band that lesser minds might categorize as being a little, er, confused about their place in the rock & roll panthenon. On one hand they had the early-seventies progchops down pretty pat, with a heavy emphasis on the Pink Floyd of MEDDLE with perhaps a sidestep into early King Crimson and others of that snooty ilk, yet on the other they sounded like your typical and dare-I-say archetypical early seventies metallic punk garageburners! And yes, I have imagined that there were plenty of kidz around in those days who were mixing and matching the influences left and right and some of 'em probably had some pretty hotcha bands as well (well, I remember going to flea markets in the mid-seventies with used bins that sported albums by Yes, the Mothers of Invention, Black Sabbath, the Stooges and Lou Reed which would bear my opinions out), but it's kinda weird (in fact, neat!) hearing an early seventies band go from dense, mellotron-laden prog-thud on one track (like elpee opener "Dirty Yellow Mist") to hard-metal blast on "Flash Part IV," even going as far as to mix both prog headiness and punk doltisms at the same time like is evident on a track such as "The Executioner," and best of all not come off looking like a buncha gazoons for doing so. A group that perhaps only Tim Ellison could understand, and although you could say that maybe the Pink Fairies were doing the exact same thing at pretty much the exact same time on their first album (witness the Floydian "Heavenly Man," not to mention the early take on late-seventies British class snarl "Teenage Rebel"), they never had the audacity to mix and match influences within the same tune! (The My Solid Ground/Pink Fairies comparisons may be inevitable, given all of the cartoony pink pigs w/genitals [!] appearing all over the cover and gatefold.) If I can think of any other groups at the time who may have been tangling with progressive and punk forms entwined and at relatively the same stratum. perhaps Mitch Easter and Peter Holsapple's Rittenhouse Square would fill the bill (tales of how they performed Yes' "Yours is no Disgrace" filled the pages of a Winston-Salem scene history that appeared in KICKS #1 of all places!) although their sole album does not show any particular progressive moves, or overtly punky ones for that matter. Anyway, for a good explanation as to what this really is all about, just press here for somebody else's worthy views.

For those who can't get enough of My Solid Ground (or other early seventies German garage wonders like Ainigma, Siloah and a few more confused souls not sure whether they wanna be ELP or ? and the Mysterians), there's this relatively new (2001) CD you might wanna listen to if your Teutonic tendencies tip towards the crunchier aspects of the form. Taken from a June '71 session for Radio Bremen, these four non-LP instrumental tracks really don't sound that much like anything on the elpee and in fact come off more like the hip/jiver aspects of early-seventies Amerigan pop straddlin' somewhere between the time the garage bands stopped having hits and New York Rock Critics began discovering Talking Heads. I'm talking garage rock void of the Velvets/Detroit magic that spawned bands as distinct as Rocket From the Tombs and Umela Hmota...more or less the hard post-psych crank that for some reason reminds me of Sugar Loaf and the kinda rock groups that used to make the music for R-rated "now" movies. Alice Cooper used to get into this chicanery on their early albums yet it didn't bother me...so did Zappa and even Tim Buckley come to think of it and they came out OK more or less, but if you want to experience similar late-sixties popmodes via Europrog wannabes, then you know enough to get hold of this disque. Nothing repulsive mind you, but these sessions are far from the utter tromp of their lonesome longplayer that had people bidding well into the three digits on many an auction for years on end (at least after this stuff started getting pushed on a trend-hungry listening audience thanks to everyone from the Freeman Brothers to perhaps even Julian Cope himself!). I must say I do find it somewhat enjoyable like I do various early-seventies metallic modes, but it really pales next to then-contemporary hard rock endeavors whether they be from Les Rallizes Denudes or the Hampton Grease Band for that matter.

The remainder of the CD's taken over by an album's worth of tracks recorded by a now-mid-aged Rendel in his home studio during the autumn of '01, and (without batting an eye) I know that you're thinking that this is ONCE AGAIN THE CASE OF SOME POTBELLIED BOZO SUFFERING FROM A CASE OF MID-LIFE CRISIS TRYING TO RE-LIVE PAST GLORIES IN HIS BASEMENT PLAYING ALL THE INSTRUMENTS AND RELEASING THE TRIPE IN ORDER TO CON HIMSELF INTO BELIEVING HE'S STILL "RELEVANT" and you'd be right as usual. Only this mid-aged fanabla did it right for a change, and ironies of ironies it's this part of the CD that comes closer to the My Solid Ground album than the radio sessions! Tasteful, tense and (best of all) totally void of any studio session slime slapped onto an unsuspecting public by some cult figure of dubious origin, Rendel came up with a mild winner this time! Despite the overabundant use of electronics and the usual home-studio gimmickry it still sounds sweet enough to my ears which is saying a lot, and even though I know this CD's gonna get tossed into the low-circulation pile once I get my fill of it in a day or two, I gotta fess up that Rendel sure did a better job at reliving past glories than way too many elderly progrocksnitches both of worth and not. A halfway decent surprise, and you may like the old stuff as well.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005


Good question, since I've been kinda won'drin' myself. Y'see, there was a time in my life when fanzines were pretty much a huge hunkerin' part of my rock & roll lifeblood just as much as getting hold of some hot independently-produced single by an underground fave felt like a deed most worthy of heavenly reward (this being long before the "indie" mania of the eighties and beyond changed the beast into a slightly-different character that seemed unrecognizable to me even a decade after the original oomph!). And as you would guess, these self-published wonders were just what the doctor ordered especially in a world soon to be overrun with mediocrity masquerading as alternative innovation...with fanzines, you didn't have to cut through the chaff to get to your faverave underground bands (who at the time were so infinitely superior to the relatively soft schmooze that was supposed to "speak to/for you and your generation")...all you hadda do was just open up the things and readreadREAD on about some group that seemed to have all of the smart moves and concepts rolled into a fine package custom-made for your suburban dumboid lifestyle living vicariously through the exploits of the latest Velvet Underground to come down the punkwave chute. While the mainstream magazines may have had "it" (in pure Clara Bow-speak) some of the time, it was pretty much GUARANTEED that the fanzines, even the lowlier "crudzines" of the day, had it ALL of the time and given that the likes of Christopher Cross and Robin Trower were the big guns while the likes of the Zantees and Fleshtones hadda struggle to keep their heads above water, what more could ya ask for?

Natch'ly those days are long-gone, pretty much killed off not only from scores of subpar "alternative" acts taking the innovation of the sixties/seventies and watering it down for mass consumption (or so they dream), but mostly by the advent of internet where just about anyone can flog on about just about any group no matter how unprepared for public consumption (at least to the audience they may be aimed at) they are or, for that matter, how decidedly non-jamz they continue to be. Oh well, things gotta change (or so I've been told), but there are a few things out there that have changed in my life that I sure miss all them years later! Such as the proliferation of fanzines along the lines of KICKS, SHAKIN' STREET GAZETTE, DENIM DELINQUENT, LIVING EYE and others who used to make my trips to the mailbox such an exhilarating experience. It may be a reflection of my so-called miserable existence, but such activities as seeking out new and exciting fanzines was something that truly fluttered my putter back in them days, along with being able to turn on a television and find some great boss fiftles TV show or flick custom-made for my doofus existence, that is.

Enough reminiscing...anyway, there are a few fanzines out there still cranking out the good stuff even in these post-post-POST rockism days...UGLY THINGS naturally comes to mind as does DAGGER even though I can't really comprehend a good deal of the music Tim Hinely has an undying affinity for, but that's my hang-up. These magazines (and a few more...will there ever be a new MODERN ROCK MAGAZINE heading our way???) seem to be part of the same dying prairie that now houses a few hoary old buffalos in a field once swarming with the critters, and true, you could say that this is the natural chain of events and that the music and people who have supported these sounds have skeedaddled off to the Old Rockism Home long ago, but frankly a stubborn soul such as I refuses to take this new capitulation lying down! So let me predict in pure Criswell fashion that there will be a rebirth in the rock fanzine idiom (just as there has been in SciFi and comic book fandom in recent years), and you and I will be witness to this new rebirth in underground rock adoration! Mark this date...July 16, 2007!

Until that fateful day comes, here's a little-heralded fanzine for you to get your grubby paws on. I've had copies of BACK OF A CAR (c/o Judith Beeman, #4636 MPO, Vancouver BC, CANADA V6B 4A1) for a couple years already, but it suddenly dawned on me that I never wrote about 'em in my entire career, or if I had it was probably in issues #22 or 23 and I never re-read those 'uns unless really hard up for toilet material. But I gotta say that I really enjoy BOAC not only because it's such a nice fanzine to settle down with after a hard day at the salt mines, but it's one of the few fanzines out there that reminds me of the cool and breezy personal style (meaning, editor/writer Judith Beeman and her contributors talk to you in the best fanzine tradition) that one could even find in early-seventies college paper rock criticism before it all seemed to go down the hole only to be replaced by immature hackery and pseudo-intellectual nada about one step above your typical snake-oil shill hyping up the rubes.

As you may guess from the title, this fanzine is devoted to the likes of one Alex Chilton and his endeavors (especially early-seventies underground wonders Big Star), and even though I'm only a peripheral fan of Alex and his friends which is something that would probably have Beeman sending me a Unabomber parcel if she only knew (though I will admit that LIKE FLIES ON SHERBERT remains a classic late-seventies underground/punk landmark amidst all my other faves of the time-period), even with the hefty Chilton/Bell/Stephens coverage I really can attach to BOAC strictly because it is so seventies even in an oh-ohs world that I don't have to flinch thinking about the next assault on my tastes/values like I hadda do with too many decadent (in the worst eighties/nineties fashion) 'zines of recent years.

Besides being a great writer, Beeman's a fantastic cartoon fan and the comix that various contributors have delineated (some written by her) for BOAC sure beat the fertilizer outta the stuff that I've scribbled for early issues of my own 'zoon...believe me, KICKOUT D. JAMZ let alone RATS REAGAN (cartoon mouse patterned on Ignatz I did age 13 or so, one gross example [dealing with EC-styled decay!] having been printed in a now o.p. back issue) really pale next to the guffaw-laden works that appear in BOAC's pages. And not only that, but the writing that shows up here is top-notch apex-level material that seems to have been all but wooshed away by a lotta the bottom-feeding musings that have been appearing in magazines and on the web over the past umpteen years. Couple that with the needed reprints not only from rock mags but the funny pages (!) and a great layout/printjob, and you've got something you kinda wish more people knew about only they won't because all of these "big guns" out there are in the back pockets of some of the worst ideas/creeds to come down the pike since the rash of "__________"-core groups of the previous decade that the entire battery of rock critics out there couldn't convince me to listen to in a million years!

My fave of these issues just hasta be #4, the "seventies" one and for obvious reasons natch! With "Barney and Mike" of CREEM-fame on the cover, this one's got it all onna ball and even tops CIMMARRON WEEKEND's CREEM ish a few years back complete with an in-depth interview with "Barney and Mike" creator Bob Wilson, not to mention snat ad/review reprints (like the METAL MACHINE MUSIC page with Ed Ward, Lester Bangs and "Cyborg QX38" giving their impressions of Lou Reed's masterpiece not forgetting POP WIRE's "Chest-O-Rama" contest), plus there are a lotta great 'toons dealing with the seventies muzak scene as experienced by current Canadian cartoonies and hottest of all some DENIM DELINQUENT news (keeping with the "Canadian Content") complete with the Kim Fowley article originally published in #5 as well as editor Jymn Parrett's Gene Pitney sketch eventually printed in 16 magazine of all places! I especially dug the cartoon on the back cover about Beeman's own experiences as a Bay City Rollers-loving teen walking down the streets of Vancouver inna middle part of that sainted decade getting psychically razzed by some tuff guy and his bra-less galpal EVEN THOUGH SHE WASN'T EVEN WEARING ANY SORTA BAY CITY ROLLERS PARAPHRENALIA AT ALL!!! I guess they just thought she was a fan because she was a teenager, but boy did that experience ruin her day! Well, I certainly can understand being ridiculed for things ya just hafta believe in!!!

I forgot to tell you that #5 comes with a Chris Bell flexidisc (which I haven't played yet not only because even my substitute turntable did an 86 but I'm too anal-retentive to tear the thing outta my mag), plus I got a buncha CDs from Beeman that I can't find though I'll be giving those a spin when I have an occasion to search 'em out. As for you, dear reader, you can be manly enough to tear out the flexi and keep track of your digital wares after writing to the above address and latching onto your own copies of these modern-day wonders. And once I get down to it, I guess I like BOAC the same way I like the Velvet Underground and all those seventies fanzines and archival digs of all sorts of long-gone things because frankly, I'm old-fashioned! So get me my rocking chair and shawl and call me Whistler's Mother...I'm gonna go give SISTER LOVERS a spin right now!

Tuesday, March 22, 2005


Has it been twenty years already? I sure remember those days, the days of The Garage Band Revival that first swept across the US of A and then the world with groups in every suburban studebaker-hut bashing out three/two/one/no-chord crunchers and putting their wondrous inaptitude to vinyl complete with neat picture sleeves that looked really boss in record collections stuck next to the original artyfacts of worth (which was the idea in the first place...if you couldn't be the Count Five the Primates would certainly do!). And who could forget all of the big-gun name groups on the scene from the top-notch Chesterfield Kings (a band that always seems to be looked down upon by the uber-humans in rockcritsnoblogland these days, so I guess I'm only showing my slob-like tastes in coming out saying I LIKE 'em!) to the Lyres and Fuzztones (a group I always used to think were a buncha watered-downs, but nowadays they come off a lot more snat in twenty-year hindsight than Henry Rollins' tiresome outbursts eventually did), and if you don't think that there were guys a-plenty across the fruity plain dressing in page-boys and balloon-y Bob Dylan shirts and gals in mini-skirts and chains and bracelets galore doing all the Shindig dances while a small minority of kids were acting L-7 to the strains of John Cougar and the rest of Chuck Eddy-approved "It's mainstream and bland so it MUST be GOOD cuz all them kids making their own records and printing their own fanzines and putting on their own shows are such LAZY blights upon the fine prarie of rock & roll righteousness unlike the mallbong America youth grooving to Lou Gramm..." Well, like I SAID before going off on that well-meaning tangent, if you think that the youth of the eighties took to the wild and untamed sounds of Garagebomp USA 'stead of "classic rock" schmooze...then you'd be wrong, as usual!

Face it, the eighties were the drekkiest decade to grace this planet of ours, and they were so ba-ad w/regards to high energy jamz that believe-it-or-not but the early-seventies of Cat Stevens and Melanie looked pretty enticing in comparison! At least we had Iggy and early heavy metal and something to look forward to (mainly the late-seventies of punk and fun!) back then, but what was there to look forward to in the eighties anyway? Nirvana and REM having hits??? And maybe that's what made the six-oh revival pretty keen in the light of the boring non-jamz going down then. Hardcore was fizzling out just like its main inspiration heavy metal had a decade earlier. The remnants of what was mid/late-seventies punk/new wave sounded pretty tame and 360 degree turnaround from earlier accomplishment, and what was worse was that the good bands who survived the late-seventies nova (Velveteen, MX-80 Sound...) were either dormant or getting shoved under the rug in favor of...Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam???

So yeah, the eighties were turdsville, but at least there were a few things there to keep high energy USA/Earth from slashing its collective throat...things like Greg Prevost, Billy Miller and Miriam Linna, HERE TIS and best of all there was GREG SHAW telling us about all the great groups (old and new) and records to spend our well-begged money on. Boy did I envy Shaw, who made his dough just sitting around the house and listening to records and tapes and deciding who to sign to one of his marvelous labels, and to put the frosting on the glands he just hadda go and open up his own showcase (The Cavern Club) for the best in the revivalism bunch. And true, this particular endeavor sunk like the most cliched stone you could find but then again I'd rank the efforts of Shaw from the sixties on to have been a lot more healthier for the fate of rock & roll than anything Jann Wenner could have come up with, dontcha think?

And what's best about it is that Greg Shaw is more meaningful in death than Dave Lang is alive, especially since his glorious Bomp! label is cranking 'em out at a fantastic pace and has been doing it for thirty years already which I think is crazy considering the odds against doing things GOOD and gettin' away with it, especially these days. And one thing that I'm sure got Shaw a pass through the Pearly Gates last year is this new release by some group outta nowhere called the Konks. And konked they are...just take a look at the yeti on the cover and tell me these guys aren't ready for the monkey cage at the zoo! And they play like a buncha yetis as well...sorta like the feh Cheater Slicks only much better because they don't sound like a mockery of the music they claim to love. They also don't sound like the truly tiresome who just sounded like retreads of hoary old Sonics/Seeds/Stooges riffs run into the ground (all the while the band members pat themselves on the back congradulating themselves for taking part in such a "meaningful experience")...naw, these guys sound like TOTAL TRASH like in mentally-challenged thugs 1961 meet 1966 doofs at the Grande Ballroom in 1968 as they ponder the significance of the Pagans. Complete with the cheap guitar sale $29.99 sound that Jonathan Richman so eloquently bellowed about.

I could make some big city critic comparisons about how the Konks sound like group "x" getting sodomized by group "y" in group "z"'s hot tub, but this ain't THE VILLAGE VOICE. But man, the primal tone of this one is nice enough, sorta reminiscent of a lotta the rock cum blues cum rockabilly yobsters of the past twenty years who got tangled up in many an indie label fishnet and usually ended up totally obscuresville for all their efforts. Gotta admit that I haven't been playing many of those past wonders as of late and I don't know just how much I'll be spinning the Konks in the future, but for now I'd say they were a better garage-oriented time-passer worthy of your collection than whatever the usual challenged ones out there in real-life rock critic land seem to be putsching at you these days, and maybe if I paid attention to what was being praised to the hilt out there (Little Steven merely bores) I could come up with a snappier ending to this review than I have, but gee ain't I a lazy turd!


Hey, whadja know...rock & roll rootier than Canada Dry's polar bear! And what's best about it is that this rock & roll is a one-man band affair! Yes, believe it or not but BBQ is the work of one soul, a soul going by the name of Mark Sultan who sounds like your typical four-man garage band whether they be from 1959 ("C'mon And Love Me") or 1966 ("Outta My Mind"), but whatever, Sultan does it all by himself and I ain't talkin' Eric Carmen either! It's all pretty good garage-a-billy cum BACK FROM THE SCUM fun that doesn't sound like a re-think via some 40/5-year hindsight but music being made by some TRUE FAN and not just another trust-fund kiddie trying to pass time between various "cultural milestones" in his life. To put it bluntly, this is a nice racket that coulda been one of those discs Beaver got when he joined that record club oh-so long ago!

Saturday, March 19, 2005


Let's face it, if you hate mid-seventies garage primitivism, atonal blasts of pure white noise feedback, Jimi Hendrix-inspired guitar twist, Velvet Underground riff/drone, general high-energy jamz, terroristic usage of light and sound coupled with a hefty dose of unbridled pure mania unseen in the rock & roll world for a longer time than you (or even I) can imagine, then you're really gonna hate this DVD.

Avid readers of this blog are well aware of the praise and homage I have heaped upon this truly "cult" band, a bunch so unbelievably pure with regards to their mission and execution of beyond-hard rock norms (over a period of almost thirty years!) and under very clandestine wraps to boot that the stale term "cult" doesn't even start to describe Les Rallizes Denudes' whole reason for being. Formed in the mad rush of Japanese college-level dissent and protest during the fall of 1967 and performing from early '68 until the mid-nineties, Les Rallizes Denudes (or, actually, leader/free-guitarist Mizutani + whomever else) were a band who've unleashed an incredibly high-energy (in pure BACK DOOR MAN-speak) pow'r surge music on the few lucky enough to get hold of this wail first hand complete with a blinding light show that had fanz within eye and even ear-shot comparing these malcontents to everything from the EPI-period Velvets to early San Francisco thud-bomp (Blue Cheer...). Couple all that with a legendary outlaw/radical bent (alleged Japanese Red Army involvement with a former member somehow tied up with a hijacking to North Korea that Mizutani was even asked to participate in!) and you've got yourself one walloping huge hunka Japanese rock & roll history to contend with. A verifiable cross twixt the early-Velvet Underground, Deviants and VON LMO, and a group so enveloping in their mysticism that (as you'd guess) even the obviously Denudes-inspired produce that came out in their wake like LSD March and "acolytes" Up Tight may come close, but I'm not doling out any cigars yet...

Anyhoo, this DVD-R features (what at least I would call) mandatory Denudes material taken from a coupla sources. The first clip's from an August, 1976 appearance at something called the Sunset Glow Festival, an outdoor thingie that looks just like every other outdoor thingie you've seen via your own personal seventies rock VCR/DVD archive for years on end. Y'know, a one-camera set-up job which moves in and out from the stage focusing on various aspects of the show including (beside the on-stage goings on) the audience and the sky for that matter. Quality is very good, and here the Denudes kinda look like a Japanese variation on the Real Kids or some other American garage band upstarts around the same time with long hair (this being just-pre-Sex Pistols anti-hippie credo) only they're all Japanese with the drummer wearing a mask that looks like it was made from a training bra while the group do one of their signature songs, the one with the obvious fifties beat whose title I forget. Like I said, good sound and overall quality though the whole thing just ends "like that" after eight or so minutes.

Flashing forward to 1994, we now see the Denudes (or actually Mizutani with the rest of the group hidden beneath the fog and amidst the stroboscopic effect) in one of their last incarnations courtesy of a pair of clandestine videotapers who edited their results into a halfway-decent two-camera effort that makes YOU just as much a part of the audience (meaning, you get to see a buncha back of heads!) as the brave souls who taped this! Mizutani's hair's shorter now, more or less in a 1965 Beatles flop and he's now clad in leather like someone's idea of a fifties rocker, and what's amazing about the whole thing is that the music, even that far down the line, is pretty much the same in style and overall scronk as it was twenty years earlier! Yes, while many other bands had "improved" their sound as time went on and "evolved," usually into some polished, taste-laden outfit maybe you and definitely I could care less about, Les Rallize Denudes remained steadfastly primitive and unreconstructively raw! As usual, the backing band lays down their basic riff somehow derived from hoary old Velvet ideals, while Mizutani grabs the mic Johnny Thunders-style and sings in his usually moany, quasi hoarse way before latching onto his axe and emitting some of the most extreme all-over feedback guitar I've heard since VON LMO, or at least when Lou Reed stopped playing his white-noise cantatas whenever the Velvets (make the Lou) quit being avant garde. And it can get pretty out-there as well, almost to the point of post-eruption pure unrelenting solid screech like on the twentysome-minute-long traditional show closer "The Last One" which at times can make even you (like it did your humble reviewer) actually simulate a hallucinogenic experience akin to being there, and being about as dosed as I'm sure Mizutani was. In fact, coupled with the extreme stroboscopic light show (which I'll assume is also a leftover from the band's early days when they tried to simulate the Warhol/'Frisco experience with blinding lights and reflective balls giving off an effect certainly not "in-tune" with the usual peace-'n-flowers vibes o' the times...in fact, I wonder if this sorta aural/visual chicanery's what the ultra-legendary band Man Ray had in mind with their planned monochrome set up!), this DVD can send you into mental realms only Brion Gysin could explain. Not recommended for epileptics.

Another interesting surprise...amidst the sonic screech and repeato-rock, Mizutani actually picks up a HARMONICA for about thirty seconds of some post-Dylan play that's out of tune at times, but a lot better'n Crocus Behemoth's great duncework on Pere Ubu's deconstructive cover of the Seeds' "Pushing Too Hard." Not as obtrusive as when he picks up this Firebird and starts screeching and playing it totally oblivious to the patented tape-loop riff the rest of the group's laying down.

It's pretty neat getting hold of these video documents from downright punkazoid faves whom I never thought I'd glom all my born days. I mean, if ya'd asked me twenny years back whether I'd ever experience seeing the MC5 or Stooges via the small screen (let alone stuff from the likes of the NUGGETS bands, who I thought would remain locked up in Dick Clark's vault forever...) I probably woulda thought "feh!" But nowadays it's like this stuff is coming outta the woodwork and at a rate so fast that even the most studious collector probably couldn't keep up with the backlog. Whatever, I think it's fantab that I got a DVD of this in my collection to refer to again and again, and who knows, perhaps this is yet another start of the archival dig into other classic proto/avant-punk vaults for similar wares I never thought even existed in the first place. I know that there's just gotta be a whole load more video rarities to be unleashed one of these days, and although I'm not exactly gonna be holding my bowels until it does come out (the videos, that is), I got the strange and tingling feeling that there are gonna be a lot more goodies of similar intent winging their ways to our stinky boudoirs within a relatively short time. Dunno about you, but I'm impatient.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

deepopresents: FREESTYLE EVENTS
Post Bop, Avant Jazz & Other Creative Musics
CBGB’S LOUNGE • 313 BOWERY • 212-677-0455

7pm - Chris Kelsey, Dom Minasi, Francois Grillot
8pm - Earth People
9:30pm - Billy Mintz Two Bass Band
11pm - Jean-Francois Pauvros, Ernie Brooks, Jonathan Kane,
Peter Zummo

7pm - Reuben Radding, Stephen Gauci, Reut Regev, Todd Capp
8pm - Taylor Ho Bynum, Kwaku Kwaakye Obeng, Joe Morris
9pm - Imaginary Folk: Jessica Pavone, Amie Weiss,
Brandon Seabrook, Peter Evans
10PM - Ben Gerstein Collective: Ben Gerstein, Jacob Sacks,
Dave Binney, Thomas Morgan, Dan Weiss, Eivind Opsvik,
Jacob Garchik

7pm - Reuben Radding, Sayuri Goto, Federico Ughi, Daniel Carter
8:30pm - Henry Warner, Billy Bang, William Parker, Rashid Bakr
10pm - Steve Backowski & Ravi Padmanabha

9pm - Roy Cambell, Francois Grillot, Dee Pop
10pm - Jon Lunbom & Big Five Chord: Jon Irabagon, Bryan Murray, Moppa Elliott, and Andrew Bain

7pm - Clay Jenkins, Dave Scott, Jeff Hirshfield, Lew Scott
8pm - Maryanne Deprophetis, Masa Kamaguchi, Ron Horton,
Tom Beckham
9pm - Ralph Alessi, Chris Dingham

8pm - Moppa Elliot Group
9pm - John Savage, Curtis Fowlkes, JD Parran, Rob Garcia,
Kevin Ray

7pm - Blarvuster: Matt Welch, Jackson Moore, Karen Waltuch,
Ed Kasparek, Mike Pride
8pm - Ehran Elisha Ensemble
9pm - Michael Evans, Peter Zummo, Evan Gallagher, Michael Attias, Adam Lane, Jeff Hudgins

8pm - Andrew Rathbun
9pm - Steve Lehman & Kevin O’Neil
10pm - David Crowell Group

7pm - TBA
8pm - James Finn & Warren Smith
9pm - Sonic Openings Under Pressure: Patrick Brennan, Hill Greene, David Pleasant

8pm - Monika Heideman
9pm - Dom Minasi Trio w/Ken Filiano Jackson Krall
10pm - Jason Hwang, Taylor Ho Bynum, Andrew Drury, Ken Filiano

7pm - Talat: Matt Shulman, Marc Mommaas, Matt Pavolka, Jordan Perlson, Daniel Carter, Alonso
8pm - Tom Abbs Group
9pm - Mario Pavone, Angie Sanchez, Tony Malaby, Kevin Norton
(2 sets)

Gunther Hampel
Moon Pool - Eric Person, Mark Puricelli, Gene Torres, Jim Payne

7:30pm - Hanuman Ensemble: Andy Haas, Don Fiorino, David Gould, Mia Theodoratus, Dee Pop, Matt Heyner
9pm - Jackelope: John Abercrombie, Bob Meyer, Loren Stillman

The Music Now Unit +1: Ras Moshe, Raphe Malik, Jackson Krall, Matt Heyner.
Burton Greene - Roy Campbell Quartet w/Adam Lane & Lou Grassi
Sabir Mateen Group

7pm - Peter VanHuffel, Kris Davis, Jeff Davis, Terry McManus

Nate Wooley, Matt Moran, Reuben Radding, Tatsuya Nakatani
Ken Filiano, Steve Swell, Thomas Ulrich, Jackson Krall

7PM - OKIOK: Kyoko Kitamura, Khabu Young, Mike McGinnis
8pm - Chris Lightcap Quartet (2 sets)

Dan Dechellis, Reuben Radding, Dee Pop

7pm - May Halvorsen & Jessica Pavone
8pm - Bruce Eisenbeil & Katsu Itakura
Featuring: Erica Von Kleist, Rob Wilkerson, Joel Frahm, Sam Sadigursky, Frank Basile, Ingrid Jensen, Dave Smith, John Chudoba, Tom Goehring, Dave Rezek, Marshall Gilkes, Mike Fahie, Mark Patterson, Max Siegel, Sebastian Noelle, Mike Holober, Fraser Hollins, Jon Wikan

Eastern Seaboard w/ Brent Bagwell, Seth Nanaa & Jordan Schranz

7:00pm: Joe Giardullo, Dee Pop, Reuben Radding
8:30pm: Steve Lehman, Eric McPherson, Matt Brewer
10:00pm: Curtis Hasselbring, Mat Maneri, Matt Moran, Satoshi Takeishi

Briggan Krauss

7:30pm Mary Halvorson, Jessica Pavone, Brian Chase, Matt Welch, Jason Cady
9pm - Ralph Alessi, Tim Berne, Mark Helias, Shane Endsley, Will Jennings (2 sets)

Wednesday June 29
Joe Giardullo, Ken Filiano, Dee Pop

Matana Roberts Clarinet Choir

Andrew Lamb,Tom Abbs, Warren Smith

Steve Lehman Quintet

All SHOWS $10 for entire evening

Sunday, March 13, 2005


No, I haven't forsaken the wily ways of rock & roll for improv avant garde jazz YET, but gosh-all-darn if there's a whole lotta this NEW (translation: stuff happening in the here-and-now, and not faded memories of past high-energy accomplishment) and totally zoned-in music out there in "buy me!" land that actually SPEAKS TO ME w/o me having to make any sacrifices or concessions w/regards to my, er, acquired tastes. Avant garde jazz/improv/what-have-you is (at least in my universe) perhaps the only currently-functioning music to really take my inner-psyche (to get hippie about it!) for a challenging ride, and with "underground rock" having long turned into an overground sham (with the exceptions of a slew of groups you will read about on my blog and perhaps ONLY on my blog!) having branched out into a hundred or so weak tributaries from a once-mighty roaring Mississippi, and with other strains of aural vibration sounding just as tiddlywink as you always suspected they did (folk etc.), maybe the freestyle thing is the only trip there is for high-energy jamz these days, at least until enough rock & roll groups get their acts together and create a new generation of punkisms that will equal or even surpass the hard-drive root of it all!

Anyway, besides tuning into the CBGB Lounge on Sunday evenings for some of this stuff as it's live and happening, another place to get an avant fix is through aboptv.com, a neato new site where you can actually download and watch some fantastic archived performances by some of the best of the new (and old) improvisers out there in jazzland, and for a guy who's been perusing these sounds for nigh on twenny-five years it's a real gas to actually see these legendary (and not-so, at least for now) big-names in a little pond more or less performing rather'n hafta imagine what it looks like in your bean, and imagine it all wrong for that matter. Aboptv's the brainkiddie of Albey Balgochian, not only a member of the fantastic Noistet but the current bassist for none other than Cecil Taylor himself, and the man oughta be commended for his toil in bringing you these rarities that...I dunno about you, but I'm sure glad are easily enough available and with a few mere clicks of a mouse to boot!

It may take awhile for the program to eventually download (I suggest that you start downloading, then take a long bath, or perhaps talk on the phone for a few hours or go shopping then come back), but when it does you not only get a clear picture w/o any of the usual buffering stops, but an exciting piece of performance that's not only aurally, but visually stimulating. So far I've watched two of 'em, the first being a trio version of Noisetet featuring Donny Silverman not only playing some great post-bop on sax and flute but twiddling with something called "bent electronics" (and they do sound "bent," eliciting strange whirrs and piano-like sounds with the mere twist of knobs!), David Phelps on sub-stratum guitar and Brian Sebastian playing free drums and gongs that look like pots and pans strung up and rattled with mallets! Amazing stuff. (BTW, a review of their CD is forthcoming, as soon as I properly digest the thing so's I can give the platter its proper dues and not just rush out some idiotic hackspew in order to "be the first on my block.") Fine, as was the quartet led by reknown pianist Burton Greene (who has been making appearances at the CBGB Lounge which is cool given his legendary status of the utmost importance!) and flugelhornist Roy Campbell. This one was a hoot to watch, not only because of the fantastic seventies loft-styled whirr they mixed up, but it's wild watching Greene playing all over the keys throwing in a bitta the French Natl. Anthem amongst other hoary old melodic and atonal treats, making comments and crazed facial expressions at the audience, and swiveling around on his piano stool and kicking up his feet just like another audience member as Campbell did his thing...wow! Believe me, even if you're not that much of a fan of this jazzstream (or any jazzstream for that matter) you'll enjoy watching this 'un!

With kicks getting even harder to find these days than they were after the great post-punk collapse of the early-eighties, it's grand to have a site like aboptv.com available and for FREE (at least for now...who knows what the future holds!) which suits a po' boy like me just fine considering just how all this high-energy, soul-pounding music has had such a hard time funnelling down to me all these years! C'mon, you know that there's much more to life than the latest "KBD" sampler and CD retrospective of some icky group you didn't even bother to pay attention to back when they were alive and kicking!

Monday, March 07, 2005


Hey, there was SOUND last night! Plus the cybercast only stopped and kicked me off once every ten minutes (with length of time diminishing as the kickoffs proceeded throughout the evening), and I could actually see the figures MOVING for a good portion of the show, so things really weren't that bad as far as my oft-glitched cyberviewing went, unless you wanna count the fact that Don Fellman called me up towards the beginning of Noisetet's set. But we didn't talk that long, and in fact I even let him listen in because when it comes to unmitigated sonic blast Don can be a bit of a doofus. He thought one musical phrase on the trumpet sounded like the opening of "Wild Thing."

Anyway, these Texans transplanted to New York put up a pretty fine avantstew that seems to be in such shortage these days. (Sounded like Earth People w/o the peace tendencies!) Noisetet, a group I would surmise is co-led by Danny Silverman and Brian Sebastian (forget which instruments they play) put up a wild sonic miasma that seemed to straddle jazz and rock concerns, reminding me at one point of various Miles Davis scrunch effects a la "He Loved Him Madly" (or other pre-simp fusionisms a la Lifetime) run into an AACM (or better yet, BAG) radical jazz mindset that always seemed to appeal to me even though it shut off everyone around me faster than a spigot. And toss in a tad of underground rock credo (not alternative/new music etc.) and you had one pretty good example of something at least I can become obsessed about these days given that the thrills just keep getting harder to come by as we drift further and further from the core of it all.

Anyhow, Noisetet consisted (at least last night) of an electric guitarist, trumpeter, upright bassist, a guy who I think alternated between a keyboard and alto sax (if anyone out there is "in the know" please include me amongst the enlightened!) and drummer, accompanied by two femme dancers in front of the stage doing what looked like the Grateful Dead dance o' ecstasy. The sounds emitted by this aggregate were beautifully feral...dark, majestic strains of sonic shard complete with great post-Murray drumming, restrained-yet-out gtr playing and of course the horns/keys, the trumpet coming close to various late-sixties Ornette endeavors all coagulated together by some great arco bass playing.

The final minutes of the show were the best, as Noisetet built themselves up into a frenzied coda complete with the saxist playing what I think was a theremin on the brink of annihilation or perhaps a sick stylophone, sorta giving an effect akin to winding up a balsa wood airplane then letting it soar! The whole thing reminded me of a lotta classic heavy metal epiphanies with those total-eruption endings which they copped off the avant garde anyway, so it's sorta like the originators taking the idea from the folks who ripped 'em off in the first place!

Hope this show was recorded for "posterity" (I sure wouldn't mind hearing it again!), and although I ordered the Noisetet CD which should be arriving in the mail one of these weeks I don't think it's gonna come anywhere near what I witnessed last night. Another group on the avant garde treadmill to give a listen to before they go the way of all those others who sorta slipped through the cracks while talents of lesser stature gobbled up all the glory (which you already know...).

Sunday, March 06, 2005


In anticipation of Jackalope's upcoming performance at the CBGB Lounge May 8th, ritualistic I got hold of this CD of theirs just to check out how they hold up in a studio setting as opposed to in the flesh 'n all. Actually I caught these guys on an earlier cybercast sometime last year or the year before or something like that and enjoyed what I heard, and thought a CD of theirs would make a fine addition to the various CDs I have in my collection from a number of groups that have played the Lounge's Sunday (and soon-to-be-Wednesday PM as well!) avant/freestyle music series. If I must get fetishistic (?) about things like this like I do with various obsessive/compulsive modes in my life, then what better than to categorize/document a truly vibrant scene that is happening in the here and now rather'n thirty years back which is nice and all, but more or less daid as a doornail which doesn't mean it shouldn't be studied under a microscope, but then again since this is happening AS WE SPEAK it's a lot easier gathering information about this stuff plus you don't have to get your hands dirty!!

Anyway, Jackalope are a trio consisting of John Abercrombie on guitar, Loren Stillman on saxophones and Bob Meyer on drums. And sure, there are a whole slewwa these gtr/horn/drums aggros that have been playing around in jazz most notably at clubs such as CBGB or one of their next door performance spaces for quite some time, but Jackalope ain't yer typical BLUE HUMANS blast-it-all-out freespatter noisetwist threesome nohow! They're not even Tertiary Trio (scroll down for a review) let alone Storm (ditto) or whatever other avant gtr trio you can think of offhand. No, Jackalope are much smoother'n those aforementioned noisebusters and they should be considerin' that they have none other than John Abercrombie at their helm.

You may remember Abercrombie as this seventies-era jazzguy who was really big on the ECM label with their sorta chamber/snooze avant gardeities transmorphed into gnu age paradiddles music that certainly didn't thrill me to the quick the way various other seventies music did during those fun and cheap days. Other'n a few early avanties of worth in the ECM catalog (Circle's PARIS CONCERT and the Marion Brown thingie) not much that Swedish label put out has interested me. (Of course, I'm not talking about such worthies as a 1961 Jimmy Giuffre 3 offering I never heard, but I am talking about all those records with the sweet and lilting front covers featuring out-of-focus snapshots of wilting petunias and the like.) Heck, I even picked up a Jack DeJohnette's Directions album from '76 with Abercrombie on guitar last August whilst in the state of New York and played side one to general yawns before the turntable broke (no foolin'!), thinking that Abercrombie's entire career must've been nothing but stodgy fancy "jazz" guitar pickings custom made for people who hold it in on purpose because they can't use a strange toilet, and you can BET that this disque in question has been filed to the back probably ne'er to be unleashed from the collection again lest I need to use it for some future reference, which I doubt.

But you gotta admit that a lotta things that fall within the cheap gutter magic o' CBGB have a certain dinge rubbed off on a lotta the performers there, and perhaps this is why Jackalope surprisingly don't sound like Terje Rypdal and Bjorn Blorklyndnyl playing soft and schmoozy paens to puff pastry with a sound so clear that you'd swear they were chumming it up in your own personal sauna. Taking a cue from the avant/chamber innovator of it all Giuffre, Jackalope plays it experimental and brainy true, yet its also kinda tough'n funky even with Abercrombie eliciting yummy gtr-lines (kinda like what Jim Hall mighta sounded like had he developed on the style used on that Gunther Schuller Third Stream elpee done with Ornette back in '61) while Meyer does a nice blues/free playing that sounds like Billy Higgins as Stillman plays in a pre-Jarman/Mitchell-style closer to Ornette when he was on Atlantic. "Skippy" is how I referred to it in the magazine last issue and I think it still applies here.

These guys even sound original on their cover of Jerome Kern and Ira Gershwin's "Long Ago And Far Away" (and frankly, I don't care for all them "respected" songwriters of the far past at all unlike some of you probably do, but here they sound like they might as well be Ornette fans for all I know!) plus the originals aren't any slouch either, with titles such as "Convolution," "Skin," "Chicken," and "On The Loose" proving that Jackalope's slumming around in the confines of the Bowery certainly has rubbed off on their musical acumen as well as toughened 'em up a bit as well!

My fave here hasta be the closer, "Shades of Grey" which, although written by Stillman, is nothing but double-tracked Abercrombie playing this medieval-meets-outer-space melody that reminds me of some of the solo Sun Ra things on clavinet that have the same introverted crunch on my fragile being. Sniff blubber!

Actually, Jackalope sound a lot more in-groove on this CD than when I tuned them in at the CBGB Lounge way back when. Then they seemed more restrained, sparse/spacey, freer and perhaps had more in common with ECM 1971 than that label's regrettable gnu age success story days. And although this ain't a Sonny Sharrock barn-buster jazzrock slamfest worthy of MONKEY POCKIE BOO it doesn't mean it's totally worthless. It's a proverbial sleeper that'll make a good bargain bin find for you in a few year's time, or if you're rich try snatching it up on ebay cheep like I did. And it's a pretty good avant-trio offering even if the label (Challenge) ain't the same one that released all those great surf/garage singles back inna sixties!

Wednesday, March 02, 2005


Nothing special.

Admittedly, I'm the last rock scriber of noble lineage to get hold of and actually read this relatively recent collection of Lester Bangs wordage both previously-published and not-so, but this gross overlooking by the promotional powers-that-be wasn't always the case. In fact, back in 1987 this humble rock fan was actually deemed IMPORTANT enough in the hotcha writing world to have wrangled a flesh-and-blood hard-covered FREE COPY of the first Lester Bangs posthumous collection of his notoriously caustic reviews, articles, interviews and general musings that was entitled PSYCHOTIC REACTIONS AND CARBURETOR DUNG, a book that had me jumping for the proverbial joy given that author Bangs' ashes were only a close-range five years old at the time of this tome's publication and at least """I""" was still operating on full-tilt seventies rockscribe modes thanks to the pow'r and energy Bangs had laid out as a shining path for manic rock fanatics like myself. But alas, those days are long gone, and while this "rock critic" (to use a term so unkindly laid upon me by a rival member of a different blogstream) has fallen to the rock bottom of mainstream/underground pariahdom since those halcyon days of promotional gravy trains and gimmees of all sorts, in many ways so has the spirit and verve of Lester Bangs also sunk to the deepest part of the rock world sea.

Sheesh, you know things are bad (and have been for nigh on eighteen years) when pullsillanimous pipsqueaks the rank (and I do mean rank!) of Chuck Eddy are repeatedly bombarded with either the tag of "The new Bangs" or are derided for being Lester ripoffs. Hell, they're all (talking general rock critical writings of a variety of sorts) a buncha fakes if you ask me. In fact (talking from my thirty years of conscious rockism) there really hasn't been a good scrap of rock writing in the world outsides a few high points here/there (and dare I say from the end of my own medulla flowing through my fingers onto my keyboard?) in ages, or at least since Bangs himself became as fitting a case of "era's end" as John Kennedy's own Dallas swan song. But then again, the whole rockwriting/underground/fanzine scene just ain't what it used to be one bit. Way back when there were tons of these snotrag screeching suburbanite slugs all writing about the same Iggy/Lou/Sky scene with maybe a bitta Zappa thrown in or perhaps some other more mainstreamish poster child just so's the hippies in charge didn't throw 'em into any communes for whole grain punishment, and these kids wrote about their sick rock & roll fantasies in their own fanzines with titles like TEENAGE WASTELAND GAZETTE and DENIM DELINQUENT and best of all they got away with it and perhaps got written about by the likes of Bangs or more likely his onetime editor Greg Shaw which musta reaped the millions for these young and forgotten bigtime wannabes who in fact maybe did get some of the glory long-deserved via the pages of such respected periodicals as PHONOGRAPH RECORD MAGAZINE or even CREEM, which at that time was Bangs' own personal child whether Barry Kramer knew it or not.

But, as they say, "that was then and this is now," and now is a pretty far cry from then when rock criticism is nothing but pampered prissy preening and direct copying of hypesheets mixed with the right dash of sanctimoniousness and a new age smirk that would even make Alan Watts do a few tumbles in his Buddhist grave. I've always been known to pick on THE VILLAGE VOICE but maybe at one time they were a fine exception especially when inundated with the snideness of Bangs (along with a buncha other long-goners like Lauren Agnelli and Richard Meltzer). Under the tutelage of a wide array of terminal losers ultimately ending with the Saccharine Poster Boy hisself Chuck Eddy, the VOICE has tumbled into such a sick, slank abyss that can (believe it or not!) make a New York Politics/liberal chic hater like myself wince even more than I had in the already winceable eighties! I mean, even the offerings of Mike Saunders and Tim Ellison that have appeared in the VOICE's pages have not been their tippy-top (or even mediocre) best, and I really LIKE the whole two of 'em a lot so it PAINS me to say this!

And I gotta say that even a lotta Bangs' last-days writings for that honored New York weekly and other places doesn't quite come up to par, but whether that was due to the "times" (new wave transmorphing into "gnu wave"), the fact that Bangs had Robert Christgau for an editor, or just that Bangs was milking his creative juices for all they were worth and was headed down the same path of questionable critical acumen as his acolytes is all open to debate. Personally I think it was all THREE things that make the latterday Bangs not quite as tasty as the earlier breed (despite a few juicy moments), but throw in his oft-rumored heroin abuse and maybe you too can just see why I feel this way.

Still, MAINLINES... does have its moments of fine early rock scribedom. The v. early unpublished writings on Warhol/Kennedy and the DRUG PUNK fragment read a lot better than about a thousand other teenage beatnik attempts after illicit readings of Burroughs, and I'm even talkin' about those kids who had the wherewithall to craft eloquent paens to their dark desires a la Bill yet remained firmly esconscend in their real-life enclaves. The early Bangs of ROLLING STONE remains of interest as it seems as if his tastes at the time were an odd teetering between cheap trash underground Amerigan concerns and mainstreamish mulch in order to impress the "big guys." And it's nice to have more of that VOICE stuff available so's I don't have to rely on trips to the microfilm dept. at the library anymore. Having read a good hunk of these reviews/interviews/screeds in their original form at the time of publication or at least at the time of mental impact (roughly 1979-1987) does tend to take some of the oomph away, but if you're a first-timer you may be enthralled. Like I was at one time.

But still, there seems to be a strange dank quality to all this hoopla. Like I said, when the first Bangs comp arrived I devoured it like a demon hanging on every word the deceased chronicler of Amerigan fun gunch had laid down. Nowadays, with all of the reek that Bangs (unconsciously?) wrought on the rock writing scene (which is so diseased that I wonder if it really still exists), maybe I should rethink any laurels I've laid upon the man's memory. At one time Bangs represented the best in the whacked-out, boho hipster snoot stench garagebandfanzinefastfood scene...nowadays that whole sorta gonzo creed has devolved to a point where the founder of the whole kitten kaboodle (Hunter S. You-Know-Who) did a self-snuff as perhaps a perfect cap on a way-of-life and belief that seems about a "meaningful" to whatever it used to stand for as a buncha watered-down New York critics meandering over music and attitudes they wouldn't've have given the time of day to only two decades earlier.

It's still a fine read for the information (and Bangs can soar when he's writing about something you care about), but I've said it before and I'll say it again...my favorite "rock critic" of all time remains Wayne McGuire. At least he knew enough to get out of the way before the tide of mediocrity swept over everything in sight.


And while we're at it, a hearty BLOG TO COMM welcome back to Dave Lang, who just returned from a month in Vietnam and from the looks of it survived the ordeal with flying colors. Of course we at BLOG TO COMM don't approve of people, no matter how pinkish their political complexion may be, supporting repressive communist governments, but we sure are glad that the man has survived the ordeal without being thrown into a re-education camp and forced to sing "The imperialist is a paper tiger/Long live the noble revolution of Ho Chi Minh" to a clanky Amon Duul beat. Hope you enjoyed your time in the Worker's Paradise Dave, and hopefully you avoided the wily ways of the local female population, NOT because of any rare and incurable diseases you could have picked up, but really, haven't the Vietnamese people suffered enough???